GREAT GIFTS FOR A GOOD FRIEND

GREAT GIFTS FOR A GOOD FRIEND

By Judy Moore Pullen

Sometimes we just want to do something nice for a good friend who is a quilter or stitcher, and it is not even her birthday. One of my suggestions is a gift basket full of notions and sewing-related items.

I love to collect old baskets to use as containers for gifts. Finding just the right size and shape container is part of the fun of gift giving. Anyone can wrap a package with paper, but a basket makes it more personal. What quilter doesn’t need an extra basket for holding supplies and a project? And what’s more, a basket is part of the gift!

I try to pay close attention to the interests and likes of my friends. I observe colors, designs, and kinds of fabrics that friends use when working on projects. Are they brights, 1800’s civil war, batiks, or whimsical fabric shoppers? Do they prefer solids, stripes, florals, large or small prints? When we gather for our monthly JABS applique group (JUST ASK BERTA SOCIETY) I listen to other JABBERS as they discuss fabric purchases, works in progress, future and even completed projects. As we show what we are working on, I take mental notes about each JABBER’S preferences. At quilt guild and club meetings, members show and share projects that inspire and encourage. Mary, one of my dear friends, loves blues. Sue, another quilting friend, has a passion for owls and orange fabrics. Jo loves batiks. Janis and I are fans of all things wonky. I look forward to learning more about Kathy Jo, a new friend, and her choices.

The word “stash” is both a noun and a verb. I enjoy going through my stash (noun) of fabrics that I have stashed (past tense verb), and selecting a set of coordinating fabrics that my friends will enjoy. Purchasing yardage rather than fat quarters allows me to cut lengthwise and/or crosswise as well as bias strips for sashing and binding. I can cut my own fat quarters from yardage of fabric to place as a liner for a gift basket.

I enjoy filling gift baskets for friends with Presencia perle cotton and floss. They come in beautiful solid colors as well as variegated. The range of sizes, 3, 5, 8, 12, and 16, allows so many choices for friends who hand applique and enjoy stitchery. I include both perle cotton and floss for cotton and wool applique. It is also great fun and a surprise to combine a strand of perle cotton with a few strands of floss of a contrasting color. Perle cotton and floss encourage my friends to play with threads.

Roxanne’s Quilter’s Choice marking pencils in white and gray also make a nice addition to a friend’s gift basket. I love needle turn hand applique and using freezer paper on top of applique pieces. Trace the applique design on the dull side of freezer paper. Cut out freezer paper on the drawn line, and press the shiny side to the right side of the fabric with a hot, dry iron. Position the wrong side of the fabric on top of sandpaper to hold fabric in place.

Tracing Applique with Roxanne Marking Pencils

Using Roxanne’s Quilter’s Choice marking pencil, trace around the cut edge of the freezer paper. Cut away fabric a scant ¼ inch from the freezer paper for your seam allowance. You can always trim away more. Peel away the freezer paper from the applique fabric and position the applique fabric on the background. Secure in place with Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It, straight pins, or thread baste. Using a John James or Mary Arden Applique size 10 needle threaded with 50 or 60 weight thread, tuck under the seam allowance so that the mark from the marking pencil does not show.

I love giving gifts. Part of the fun of gift giving is collecting containers to hold the gift, and selecting items that are personal and of high quality. Gift giving is kind of like taking a trip – part of the fun is the preparation, and the other part is the participation. Gifts for a quilter or hand stitcher do not have to be pricey, but of good quality and genuine thoughtfulness.

Finished Gift Basket!

Awesome Appliquers

Awesome Appliquers

By Judy Moore Pullen

Turn hand applique into awesome instead of awful. Many quilters are very good at machine piecing and applique, but tend to shy away from hand applique. I had the pleasure of spending a day with five quilters who wanted to learn to hand applique at Uptown Blanco Textile Studio in Blanco, Texas.

The Textile Studio is located directly across the street from the historic Old Blanco Courthouse, where monthly Market Days was being held in this charming hill country town. The interior of the building is a step or two back in time, featuring floor to high ceiling shelves, finely restored and packed with fabulous name-brand fabrics, and antique and new quilts suspended from poles and heavy ropes. Plentiful samples inspire one to try something new in an old-timey setting.

A very happy Judy, sharing her trunk show at Uptown Blanco Textile Studio

The five ladies who I had the joy of spending the day with wanted to learn needle turn applique. I did not have to coerce them. They were ready to try any and all techniques. Pam was a true beginner, Jan wanted to expand and learn wool applique, Kathy works and plays at the shop, and Carol brought her friend Christine. “Tips, Tricks, and Techniques” was the title of the class, and we also worked and played with tools. Using one of my original designs for a table runner, we jumped right in learning about using freezer paper for things other than wrapping for food preservation.

I also conducted a demo that I call “Needle Threading 101” using white fabric on top of a pillow, standing the needle straight up and down, and thereby having both hands free to thread a needle. White fabric allows you to see the eye of the needle more clearly. Using Presencia 50 weight 100% cotton, cut the thread straight across, moisten, pinch flat, and insert the thread into the needle. If the needle does not thread the first time, rotate the pillow, as a needle eye is punched and there is a right and wrong side to the eye of the needle. Repeat: cut, moisten, pinch, and thread the needle. Pull about 4” of thread through the eye of the needle. Hold the eye between your fingertips and pull the spool of thread to up to your muscle, about 18”, and cut. Make a quilter’s knot in the cut end.

We began by threading a John James Applique Needle size 10. Just as some people prefer Fords and others prefer Chevrolets, I wanted my students to test drive a milliners needle and quilters betweens needle. I occasionally switch off to different needles just for a change. It gives my fingers and hands a rest. For hand applique, you want a needle that is so smooth and slender that it readily punctures the fabric rather than pushes. If your eyesight is better than mine, perhaps you might try a size 11. The bigger the number, the finer the thread and hand sewing needles- just like us, as we “mature” we get finer. Using Needle Grip-Its also helps with hand stress that is the result of the repetitive motion of gripping and pulling a needle. I also shared information about the ergonomic benefits of a Roxanne thimble and using the side motion of one’s finger for pushing a needle through fabric.

We discussed placement of applique pieces, using a light box and/or clear plastic with the design traced on the plastic with a permanent fine tip marker. The design offered opportunities to practice placement of a curved bias-cut vine, leaves, and three petals of a flower. For portability and ease of applique, students could use Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It with or without the addition of straight pins and basting. I love to applique thin stems, so students were shown how to overcut stem fabric on the bias and trim it down to make a slender stem, or one that was smaller at the end that tucked under the flower. If you want the tip of a leaf to just touch the stem, there is a trick for that as well.

The flower consisted of three heart shapes, two of which were tucked under the center heart. A heart shape offers the opportunity to stitch straight sides, curves, innie and outie points. Having three heart shapes in the flower gave the gals plenty of practice, and I must say they all did so very well.

Two smiling “Awesome Appliquers”

The day was not only spent discussing the finer points of needle turn applique. We talked about children, grandchildren, recipes, gardening, and many other things so dear to our hearts. One of the best parts of spending the day with friends and stitching is building rapport or womanship. Customers peeked in, curious to see what we were doing. Many thanks to Ruth, shop manager, and Monica, her helper for the day. They provided encouragement and cut fabric before we left. One must not leave without taking fabric home, or patterns, or supplies, or some memory of this wonderfully welcoming quilt shop and Textile Studio. This is an unspoken rule of and for all quilters.

Rule #1: Never Leave Empty Handed

I am so happy to have been a part of converting machine piecers and quilters into hand appliquers, and these new appliquers are truly awesome. There was no whining, nary a word of complaint, just fun and learning a new skill. I also feel as if I made some new friends, which is such a joy. And, I learned things from my students as well. They shared tips, tricks, and techniques with me that I can use and that will improve the quality of my work and play.

 

My Pink Nesting Place

My Nesting Place

By Judy Moore Pullen

We all need a place to relax, create, and play. My place is a pink wing-back chair, surrounded by things that make me comfortable and cozy. My pink chair is like a “learning set” which I encouraged parents to provide for their children during my years as a public-school educator. It is the place that my body and soul go to and get ready to hand sew.

nesting place

My Pink Nesting Place

I discovered my pink chair in a resale shop in San Angelo, Texas, years ago. My pink chair has accompanied me on several moving ventures and adventures. It has suffered some dings, which I cover with an old piece of lace across the wings. Try as I might to connect with my pincushion on the table next to my pink chair, it continues to endure punctures of needles and pins in the upholstered arm on the right. A handmade rolled pillow, a gift from friends years ago, fits across the back to better conform to my back.

On the right side of my nest is a once discarded small end table that my dear husband, Don, picked up at a garage sale before we met. I have adopted it, placed a lovely vintage lamp on top, and scatter balls and spools of thread, pretty little bowls for scraps, a funny coaster for refreshment, and an array of pencils, scissors, note pads, and flat out stuff.

Adjacent to my table, I have extended my nest to include the arm of a big leather sofa. I admit to having more than one hand stitching project going at a time…I have a problem. The arm of the sofa is large enough to hold an old jewelry box encrusted with black beads, also a great find from a resale shop. On the inside of the box, my jewels of choice are needles, straight pins, needle threaders, small scissors, a Roxanne Thimble, Needle Grip-its, and bits and pieces of needful things. There is still room on the arm of the sofa to hold a stack of on-going projects.

Box for all my "jewels"!

Box for all my “jewels”!

Since I am AARP age, I have bonded to a lighted magnifier with a flexible arm that sits on the floor on the left of my pink chair. Early in the evening, if the stitching I am doing is not too small, I bend the flexible arm and place the light right over my work. As the evening progresses and my eyes tire, or if my work is small and detailed, I lower my light and peer through the magnified glass.

There is another small table to the left of my pink chair that belongs to Don as he joins me in the evening, paws up in his recliner. I have been reminded, a few times, that I have my own table…but he is still willing to share if I need to spread out.

Sometimes during the day, I place things on my pink chair: mending, a new quilt magazine to share with Don for ideas for the barn quilt blocks he paints, a bag of chocolates for munching in the evening.

My nest is a pink chair, a place where I am comfortable and my mind and spirit get set to sew.  I jot down ideas as they bubble up in my mind during the evening. My nest gets messy, but so do I when I am in the throes of making something by hand. It is my place. I have ownership. I was once offered a brand-new recliner, which I promptly turned down. Only now is my pink chair perfectly broken in.

I believe we all need a place where we can go, do those things we enjoy, and just be. I hope that my pink chair lasts as long as I do. It is a gift that I gave myself years ago that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. A thought just bubbled up into my mind:  I need to put my old pink princess phone on the table next to my pink chair!

Wishing you a nest place of your own.

Happy Stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

Designing & Playing with Wool

Designing & Playing with Wool

By Judy Moore Pullen

If one plays around with fabric and threads, one can discover her own inner creative child, which is what gracious members of the Wimberley Quilt Guild in Wimberley, Texas, did last week. I had been invited to do a lecture and trunk show featuring wool applique, followed by an afternoon workshop. I passed around samples of hand applique using felted wool from the bolt and re-cycled wool. We also cooked/over-dyed wool in crock pots using onion skins, Kool-Aid, and a color transfer technique.

In the afternoon, after a discussion of becoming aware of designs all around us, guild members began thinking and talking about how they could transform several pieces of wool and a bag full of wool scraps into their own personal designs. I just love the process part of a project, and the easy-going interaction of the ladies was an important part of that process. They were encouraged to do “walk-abouts”, and see what others were doing, offer suggestions and comments. Some wanted their design ideas complete before beginning to stitch, while others jumped right in and took needle and thread to fabric.

wool applique prep

Prepping!

Wool applique prep

We also discussed tools: John James and Mary Arden Chenille Needles for wool applique and Tapestry Needles for wrap stitching. Chenille needles work so well with wool. They are strong, have a sharp point, and the shaft opens the fibers of wool so that the thread glides easily through. The elongated eye makes threading easy with Presencia’s Perle Cotton and Embroidery Floss. Tapestry needles are blunt, therefore make sliding the needle under stitches and not penetrating the fabric much easier. Wrapping stitches with contrasting colors of thread with a tapestry needle is part of the fun.

The ladies also played and experimented with Colonial Needle Felting Needles and Box Wool Roving. Needle felting and roving opens up the door to so many design possibilities.

wool roving

Coloinal’s Paint Box Wool

One of the secrets of using roving is to separate the roving into little see-through wisps. Place a piece of wool on a 2”-3” thick block of foam rubber. Layer of wisp of roving on top. Hold the felting needle straight up and down and punch the roving gently into the wool. Add more wisps of different colors to create texture. Gently sweep the tip of the needle against the wisps to make shapes. Couch with Presencia Perle Cotton or Embroidery Floss in a variegated or solid color if you desire.

Eleanor, who is going into the second grade this fall, created a one-of-a-kind piece of over-dyed wool by layering 3 colors of 100% wool and brown onion skins.

Eleanor's Dyed Wool

Eleanor showing off her dyed wool

She rolled up the layers and tied the bundle with strips of wool, then cooked the bundle in a crock pot. She also had great fun cutting her own shapes of wool and stitching with Perle Cotton. Eleanor took to needle felting and hand applique like a proverbial duck to water.

wool applique

“Just Play and have fun!”

Just play and have fun! If it is not perfect and you are, call it a one-of-a-kind piece of folk art. You will improve with practice and play. In my opinion, there is great value in work done by the human hand and not “perfect”. I was so inspired by Eleanor and all of the gracious members of the Wimberley Quilt Guild. They are great teachers, eager to learn, and demonstrate great community spirit and creativity.

Playing with Needle and Thread

Playing with Needle and Thread

By Judy Moore Pullen

Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting a program on “The Wonderful World of Wool” at the Colorado Valley Quilters’ Guild in La Grange, Texas, home of the Texas Quilt Museum. What an amazing group of ladies whose hearts and hands serve not only their families, but their community as well. Many serve as docents for the museum, provide books and quilts for families, and share their talent and creativity with others.

One of the wonderful things about wool is that I can play with threads. John James Chenille Needles, sizes 18-26 provide the opportunity to use beautiful Presencia Finca Floss and all sizes of Presencia Perle Cotton threads.

I have convinced myself that the older I get, the bigger my number, the “finer” I get. This helps me remember that the bigger the number, the finer the thread and hand sewing needles. Machine sewing needles are just the opposite. Presencia Perle Cotton threads, sizes 3, 5, 8, 12, and 16 are the same: the bigger the number the finer, smaller the diameter of the thread.

John James Chenille Needles have a larger, very smooth shaft that opens the fibers on wool. Those wool fibers of course, close again after the thread is pulled through. Presencia Perle Cotton size 5 can easily be threaded through the elongated eye of a size 18 chenille needle. Try playing with a combination of a strand or 2 or 3 of Presencia Finca Floss with a contrasting color of Presencia Perle Cotton and stitch at the same time. Perhaps you would like to test this thread combination on a scrap of wool before stitching on your project or throw caution to the wind and just begin stitching!

I also like to play with what I call a “wrap” stitch. I sew a running stitch line of Perle Cotton size 8, solid color, on a scrap of wool, making my stitches about ¼” long. With a contrasting color of Perle 8 and a John James Tapestry Needle, size 22, I come up from the back of the wool at the bottom of the line of stitching. Then I slide the needle just under the first thread from right to left, not stitching through the wool.  A tapestry needle is dull, so I can easily slide my needle under the next stitch, right to left, and continue with this pattern.  Try it, and take a look at what you have created. Consider doing the “wrap” down the line of running stitches to where you began with yet another color of contrasting thread.  Think of all the times you can use these great decorative applique stitches and have fun while playing.

quilting, applique

Wool applique wrap stitch example

quilting, applique

Up-close view of wool applique using Presencia threads

I think we have some new wool applique enthusiasts from the Colorado Valley Quilt Guild. They also seemed to enjoy seeing all the options and surprises that can result from playing with needles and threads. The choices are endless, and the process is fun and rewarding.

Happy stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

The joy of sewing – “Learning with Quilts”

The joy of sewing – “Learning with Quilts”

Judy Moore Pullen

Oh, boy!  Oh, joy!  I spent the better part of today visiting with like-minded friends organizing quilts and books for the new school year.  “Learning with Quilts” is one of the community service projects of our Highland Lakes Quilt Guild here in the heart of the Texas hill country.  We select children’s books that are quilt-related, make the accompanying quilts, and distribute them to seven elementary schools in the area.  Those of us who met today are retired educators who have a passion for quilts, books, and of course helping children.  There are some wonderful quilt-related books available with great themes.  Some of the books are about people of other cultures or other countries.  Some are historical fiction or seasonal.  All have themes of core values like kindness, making do, or problem solving.

the tortilla quilt

‘The Tortilla Quilt’ – One of this year’s “Learning with Quilts” books

Making quilts that accompany the books is sometimes a challenge, as there are rarely patterns or instructions for the quilt.  However, brainstorming, teamwork, and drawing on the specific talents of some of our quilter friends, the process of making the quilts is great fun.  We have quite a list of books but are always looking for new titles.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Now, to spend the evening hand quilting an orphan block that will become a table topper, while listening to a good book.  Oh, boy!  Oh, joy!

Happy stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

Roxanne’s Glue Baste-IT

Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It

New 2-way Applicator

Stick With Me Baby!

New Glue Baste-It Applicator

As if Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It can get any better! At last Spring’s wholesale Quilt Market, Colonial Needle unleashed yet another new applicator for their superb quality Roxanne product, Glue Baste-It. The go-to glue for many crafters, Glue Baste-It is especially appropriate for use with fabrics. The glue is water-soluble but holds firmly until you wash it. It’s ph neutral so it won’t change the color of your fabric. Best of all, it dries clear in a couple of minutes.

Now, the new 2-way applicator bottle gives crafters several application choices. Need tiny little dots of glue? Use the small tip and dot-dot-dot. If you need a wider swath of glue, turn the bottle over and smear with the wide tip. And if you need a narrow but constant line, turn the wide tip on its edge and apply gentle but steady pressure.

This little bottle does it all. From holding down appliques to temporarily setting in zippers, Glue Baste-It is simply the best.


A Little Something Book

Roseann Meehan Kermes’ new book, ‘A Little Something’

Roseann Meehan Kermes, owner of Rosebud’s Cottage and also the author of the best-selling new book called A Little Something, Cute-as-Can-Be Patterns for Wool Stitchery is a fervent fan of Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It. She uses it for her wool applique projects and has bottles everywhere in her studio. She sent this picture to prove it!

Roseann's Studio Supplies

Roseann’s Studio Supplies

To pick up your bottle of Roxanne Glue Baste-It’s new two-way applicator click here. Or, visit our website to check out the rest of the Roxanne family of products.

Big Stitch Quilting

Big Stitch Quilting

Thoughts on Big Stitch Quilting from Pepper Cory

Big Stitch Quilting

Pepper Cory with her Big Stitch Quilt

Many times I hand sew because I find the rhythm of handling the needle—in, out, back down, in, out while gathering stitches— very therapeutic. The action requires total focus but my hands know more what to do than my brain. After a short while, the work happens without effort. I find myself stitching and my mind wandering. Call it a ‘mental vacation with a needle.’

This summer I pieced and Big Stitch quilted a small, simple quilt. After five days of work, it was done and I felt a sense of accomplishment and peace. The small quilt is coming with me to the upcoming Houston Quilt Market.  If you’re attending, please stop by and see us—the quilt, me, and all the Colonial Needle family—in booths 1328 and 1329.

Line Marking Techniques

Line marking technique used by Pepper on this quilt.

The quilt was pieced from 44 different colors (plus white) of the Peppered Cottons line of Shot Cottons from StudioE Fabrics cut into 3″ squares. The threads used to Big Stitch were varying colors of Size 8 Perle cotton by Presencia (found here).  For the hand stitching I used the largest needle from the Big Stitch sampler pack by Colonial Needle (found here). I marked the lines to follow with stitches by using a big fat tapestry needle (their tips are not sharp) and scoring the fabric alongside a ruler.

The quilting covers the quilt in a plaid of different colors of stitching—just the thing for those of us who love to quilt but bore easily when the work is too much the same.

Big Stitch Quilt

Pepper’s Finished Big Stitch Quilt

More Spring Quilt Market Classes

Judy Moore Pullen’s Quilt Market Class

Applique and All!

Judy Moore Pullen

Judy Moore Pullen

Just when you thought that all forms of quilting have been learned and revisited, yet another tide of applique interest rolls in! We’re lucky at Colonial that we have an applique’ expert on staff. Judy Moore Pullen, a public school teacher for many years, turned her talents to quilting after she retired. Her special love is applique’ and she uses all sorts of fabrics and threads in her work.

 

 

Wool Applique

At the upcoming Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis, Judy is presenting two Take & Teach sessions for Colonial Needle. The first is class #308 called Wool Appliqué–Beginning to Advanced taking place Friday May 18th from 8-9:30 AM (before Market opens). The second is the next day (Saturday the 19th, 8-9:30 AM) and is #408 called Hand Applique’-Tips, Tricks, Tools, and Techniques.

Wool Applique

Photos from Judy’s recent Wool Applique Class

Judy will educate you in a knowledgeable and gentle manner and answer your questions patiently. She is simply an excellent teacher. When you come to Market, you might as well learn from the best!

Nothing written about Judy is quite complete without a mention of her beloved pup Sable.

Sable

Judy’s pup, Sable!

Spring Quilt Market Classes

Pepper Cory’s Spring Quilt Market Class

Apronista!

Presencia Embroidery

Embroidery in Progress!

At the upcoming Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis, Pepper Cory will be talking about taking pride in your work and showing that pride in your store. She chose the common work apron as the canvas for this effort. She’s leading a Take & Teach session for shop owners called “Hand Embroidery for Modern Quilters and Sewists!” that takes place before Quilt Market opens (8-9:30 AM) on Friday May 19.

This apron is a chef’s apron, downloadable free all over the web. It’s super easy to make! This one is lined and features two embroidered pockets. The lower pocket is a sweet little row of flowers stitched in brightly-colored Presencia floss. Click here to see Presencia color options.

Embroidery Detail

Upper Pocket Embroidery Detail

The embroidery pattern is a heat-transfer from one of the Colonial Pattern Company’s “Stitcher’s Revolution“ series—#SR24 called ‘Flower Power.’ The upper eyeglass pocket is a single posey from the row. Outline Big Stitch quilting over machine stitching completes the embellishment.

Embroidery Detail

Lower Pocket Embroidery Detail

While both companies are called Colonial something- that’s just serendipity! We, Colonial Needle, are in White Plains, New York while Colonial Pattern is out of Kansas City, Missouri. A link to their website can be found here. The two companies cooperate nicely as they print the patterns while we have the needles and thread to finish them!

The wind was blowing when the pictures were taken but we hope you can see the details!

And just in case you need it, a DMC to Presencia conversion chart can be found here!

 

Embroidered Apron

Pepper Cory modeling her completed Apron

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