Each month, we highlight the books we’re reading in the office. The holidays are coming quick! These books are full of festive holiday and winter projects, and also make great gifts for any sewers on your list!
Celebrate Christmas: 22 Festive Projects to Quilt and Sew
Spread holiday cheer with 22 fabulous projects! This beautiful book features inspiring Christmas and winter-themed projects as well as a table runner for Hanukkah. From smaller projects like ornaments, stockings, and pillows to larger wall hangings and throws, this book is full of projects for decorating your home and creating gifts to suit any taste.
Cozy Quilts: A Charming Blend of Wool Appliqué and Cotton Patchwork
By Tara Lynn Darr for Kansas City Star Books
Nothing adds warmth and texture to quilts like wool appliqué. Tara Lynn Darr shows you how to spice up your quilts with a cozy mix of wool hexagons, stars, blooms and more. This charming collection of 11 small scrappy quilts is a great way to put your scrap basket of cotton and wool fabrics to use. No matter your taste in appliqué, you’ll find the perfect project in this diverse medley of designs.
Red, White & Quilted
By Linda Baxter Lasco for AQS Publishing
Twelve traditional patterns from antique red-and-white quilts become fresh ways to enjoy the classic color combination. See ideas for beautiful quilting to highlight white space and escalate your quilts to heirloom quilts. A gallery of even more red-and-white beauties tops off this beautiful book.
A Quilt for Christmas
By Sandra Dallas for St. Martin’s Press
It is 1864 and Eliza Spooner’s husband Will has joined the Kansas volunteers to fight the Conferedates, leaving her with their two children and in charge of their home and land. Eliza is confident that he will return home, and she helps pass the months making a special quilt to keep Will warm during his winter in the army. When the unthinkable happens, she takes in a a woman and child who have been left alone and made vulnerable by the war, and she finds solace and camaraderie amongst the women of her quilting group.
Here Comes Winter: Quilted Projects to Warm Your Home
By Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks for Martingale
Make your home cozy all winter with decorative projects ranging in size and shape from pillows and banners to wall hangings, table runners, and lap quilts. Inspired by the frosty winters of Saskatchewan, Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks showcase whimsical designs that are enchanted. This cheery collection is packed with 19 festive projects showcasing fun wintertime motifs including Christmas trees, lights, reindeer, snowmen, and snowflakes.
Memories of Christmas Past
By Betsey Langford and Carolyn Nixon for Kansas City Star Books
Celebrate the holiday season with this festive sampler quilt dressed in the classic yuletide colors of red and green. Based on traditional designs, each of the 12 sampler blocks features a Nine-Patch twist. Searching for a creative holiday gift idea? Use the blocks in six smaller projects.
Fabrics: Holiday Hoot Flannel collection by Deborah Edwards for Northcott
Make a list and check it twice for must-have holiday ornaments you can finish in a snap using festive novelty prints. This project is courtesy of our sewing blog, howtosew.com. Visit daily for new sewing projects and easy home decor.
- 3-1/2″ square fabric (ornament back)
- 3-1/2″ square fabric (ornament front)
- 3-1/2″ square batting
- 6″ length of ribbon: (hanger)
- Pinking shears
- Circle Template (see bottom of blog for download)
Finished ornament: 3″ diameter
1. Layer ornament back right side down, batting, and ornament front right side up.
2. Using the circle template (click here), trace around the circle with a marking tool. Pin all layers in place if desired.
3. Using a decorative stitch on your sewing machine (we used a zigzag stitch), sew layers together about 1⁄4″ from edge of each circle.
4. Using pinking shears, trim around edge of the circle, cutting through all layers, to make an ornament.
5. Fold a 6″-long piece of ribbon in half. Position raw ends on ornament back about 3/8″ from top edge of unit. To attach hanger and complete ornament, hand-stitch ribbon ends securely to back and batting only, making sure no stitches show on front of ornament.
I can’t believe October is over! With only two months left to finish the quilts on my to-do list, I’m starting to panic! I finished one of my quilts this month and am really close to finishing two more, which will take a little stress off. I’m, of course, still enjoying the process, but my goal was to FINISH these five quilts and I don’t want to fall in the trap of putting them off until next year. I can tell you that I already have a long list of things I want to start in 2015, and don’t want a stack of “need-to-be-quilted” projects weighing on my conscience! See my list for making time to get projects done below.
On my to-do list this year:
- Tula Pink‘s City Sampler (See all my blocks here.)
- American Patchwork & Quilting Quilt Along (Read more about it here.)
- Pat Sloan‘s Globetrotting Block of the Month with Free Quilt Patterns (Get details here.)
Finish my Passion 48
- Quilts and More Welcome Home wall hanging series (in Quilts and More Winter)
I got one more of my APQ Quiltalong blocks done. I have six more to go before I can sew them all together. I’m still deciding if I want to do sashing or not. I’ve seen the quilt both ways on Instagram and love them both! This decision might come down to how much time I have left to finish this!
I finished the setting and borders for the Globetrotting Block of the Month. I absolutely love the way this quilt turned out! Since I’m quilting this one myself, I need time to sketch out a quilting design. I’ve never quilted such a large quilt on my home machine, so it’ll be a fun challenge!
I cheated and took the pattern for the Quilts and More Winter Welcome Home door hanger a little early (the issue is officially on sale November 4). I’m making one for my mom for Christmas, since she loves snowmen. I have almost half of the appliqué done on one of the door hangers. A few more days of work on these and they should both be ready to go!
I have some tips for prioritizing projects. (See my tips for making your list here.)
1. Make a list. Although this seems like an obvious tip, writing down what you need to sew and any supplies you’ll have to buy can really help speed up the process. You’ll cut down on your number of shopping trips. Then organize your projects by how long they’ll take and when you need them done by. Then you can prioritize by deadline or squeeze in a project that will only take a few hours when you have a free afternoon.
2. Work before play. Although this isn’t something we love to hear, the quilts that you’re doing for yourself might need to take a backseat to any gifts or decor you need to make. And even though you may think you can always do your “work” projects tomorrow, my experience says that pushing back those type of projects can make you panic last-minute. Better to get them done as early as possible and if you have extra time, you can always do your “play” projects.
3. Recruit a friend. Did you decide to make holiday gifts for all the grandkids this year? Or did you get asked to make a few quilts for a charity auction? If you have fast deadlines or are overwhelmed with your to-do list, ask a sewing buddy to help out! Make an evening out of it with some snacks and a movie. Even if they don’t help you finish everything, they’ll at least make a dent and you’ll get some stress-relilef from the hangout.
Happy quilting in 2014! Share your own quilting to-do list in the comments and make sure to check back to see my progress.
Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn about different batting choices and how to choose the best one for your project!
Batting is the soft layer between the quilt top and backing that gives a quilt dimension and definition and offers warmth. Because it comes in various thicknesses and fibers, it can make a quilt flat or puffy, stiff or drapable. It is available by the yard or packaged to fit standard bed sizes. The batting you use should complement the nature and use of your finished quilt. Check package labels, talk to other quilters, and test samples to find the batting with the qualities that are important for your project.
Low Loft Batting———->High Loft Batting
General Batting Characteristics
- Characteristics: Can give a puckered appearance if washing after quilted. Soft, drainable. Good for experienced quilters’ fine, hand-quilting stitching or machine quilting.
- Advantages: Natural fiber so batting breaths. Resists fiber migration. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: May have seeds and plant residue that can release oils and stain the quilt. Often cannot be pre washed. Shrinks 3% to 5% when washed. May be too dense for beginning hand quilters to needle.
Cotton/Polyester Blends 80/20, 50/50:
- Characteristics: Low to medium loft. Drapable. Good for hand quilting and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Some natural fibers so batting breaths. Resists fiber migration. Easy for beginning hand quilters to needle. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: Some shrinkage, which can be avoided by prewashing.
Wool and Wool Blends:
- Characteristics: Blend of fibers from different animal breeds. Resiliency enhances quilting stitches. Soft, drainable. Good for hand and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Natural insulator. Preshrunk. Available in black.
- Disadvantages: May have inconstant loft. May need to be encased in cheesecloth or scrim if not bonded.
- Characteristics: Has excellent body and drape. Lightweight. Good for hand quilting and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Good choice for quilted garments. Does not shrink. Can be washed.
- Disadvantages: Expensive. Not widely available. Damaged by exposure to direct sunlight.
- Characteristics: 100% cotton. Lightweight, thin. Good for machine quilting.
- Advantages: Lightweight alternative to traditional batting. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: Extreme low loft limits quilting pattern development.
- Characteristics: Available in many lofts. Suitable for hand quilting and machine quilting. High lofts is good for tied quilts, comforters.
- Advantages: Resilient, lightweight. Cannot be harmed by moths or mildew. Readily available. Available in black.
- Disadvantages: Synthetic fibers lack breathability.
- Characteristics: Good for machine quilting. Eliminates need for basting.
- Advantages: No need to prewash. Eliminates need for basting. Good choices for small projects.
- Disadvantages: Limited batting options and sizes. Adds adhesive to quilt. Difficult for hand quilters to needle.
Bamboo and Bamboo Blends:
- Characteristics: Thin scrim and smooth drape. Ideal for machine quilting.
- Advantages: Soft, silky, eco-friendly. Lightweight. Made from one of the fastest growing plants. Natural antibacterial properties.
- Disadvantages: Limited availability. Limited options and sizes.
Once a month, we highlight blogs our staff is reading right now!
Designer Amy Sinabaldi is the cover girl of our most recent issue of Make It Yourself magazine so, of course, we’ve been drooling over her blog. Sprinkled with beautiful pictures of her current projects, her kids, and her inspiration, this blog is a treat for the eyes. Amy is a see it, do it type of person and after scrolling through her projects, you’re sure to see something that makes your to-do list!
A Stitch in Dye
We’re not going to lie — we’re constantly learning from and inspired by designer Malka Dubrawsky’s blog. Know for her fearless color and design choices, Malka provides amazing tutorials for those looking to expand their horizons of what fabric can do. For example, her most recent tutorials cover improvisational quilting, which she not only gives great tips for, but shows off her own work as inspiration.
The Quilt Engineer
Designer Latifah Saafir has a BS in mechanical engineering. She also is a quilter, so if you are a creative type with a science mind, you’ll appreciate her projects. Using many geometric shapes, her quilts have a modern feel but with a planned purpose in both design and color choices. She uses a lot of curves (but we promise, she makes it easy!).