Quilt & Sew Tips

Have you ever wondered how to change your rotary cutter blade? This is a dilemma we have all faced. In my video, link below, I demonstrate how to change the rotary cutter blade on 3 different rotary cutters. https://s3.amazonaws.com/publishing-videos/TQS0019_Snippet.mp4

“How often do you change the blade in your rotary cutter? Of course, it depends on how often you use it, but do you know when to make the final cut?

How to Change a Rotary Cutter Blade https://www.anniescatalog.com/studio/programs.html?id=10

In this Quilt & Sew Tips episode brought to you by Annie’s Creative Studio, quilting expert Nancy McNally reveals the top three indicators that your rotary cutter blade needs to be replaced. She’ll also demonstrate how to change blades safely and how to properly dispose of used blades.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to:

•             Determine when to change your rotary cutter blade.

•             Change three common types of rotary cutter blades.

•             Properly dispose of used rotary cutter blades.

•             Disassemble and assemble rotary cutter.”

How to change rotary cutter blade
How to change your rotary cutter blade

Hope my Annie’s Creative Studio video tutorial helped you.

Happy Quilting,

Nancy McNally

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It’s Time to Celebrate!

Last week was my birthday! To celebrate I am offering a new pattern plus a bonus pattern for only $5.00 (sale price good for 2 weeks).

Both patterns are sent directly to your email. Both patterns are easy peasy, quick, fun and bright! http://nancymcnallyquilts.com/product/weekend-celebration/

Ohio Star Bright

While I was the Carolina Shop Hop, I found these fun bright fabrics and just had to have them! Hope you enjoy both patterns!

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally

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How do you Accuquilt?

Today’s Project: Snowman

Do you have an Accuquilt Go Cutter? I do! I also own close to 100 dies! Can ya’ stand it?! That is a lot of dies. I believe in their product. I keep all my dies close by, they have a designated spot. My Go machine cutter is kept directly below my cutting table so that when I need to cut my next project, it is just grab and go!

How did I use my Accuquilt? See if you can figure out what I used it for, it is right before you eyes 🙂

Did you guess how I used my Accuquilt GO Die cutter?

Perfect circles for Snowman eyes, and yes, did you notice the quarter circle or drunkard’s path unit? That can be achieved by one of two ways:

1: using one of Accuquilt’s Drunkard’s Path dies, there are numerous sizes available. Choose the size you need, using paper released fusible, fuse the wrong side of fabric. Send through your die cutter and you get a perfect shape! I cut 3 at a time. So quick! And saved so much time.

2: Cutting a circle of fused fabric and then cutting the circle into quarters. Accuquilt also has numerous sizes of circles…I think I own them all.

I have several of my own unique techniques that I apply using my Accuquilt. I can’t wait to begin showing you what I do. Hint: I think outside the box! Sew, How do you Accuquilt?

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally

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Settling back into quilting life

I’m starting to settle back into the life of quilting after being away on vacation and having family visit. Visiting family left Tuesday evening. I took 2 days to clean up and binge watch a few tv series.

I traveled to South Carolina and hung out with my bestest ever quilting buddy Dale! I miss her so much! Do you have a quilting buddy that when you get together you just have the time of your life? Dale and I giggle a lot when we are together!

I always wake up before her. So I get my morning cup of coffee and head directly down to her sewing room. Which I love! She has a spot just for me in her sewing room. I begin working on a project while she is still snoozing, lol. She finally wakes up and I join her upstairs in the kitchen. We chat for a while, giggle, have breakfast and down to the sewing room we go. We call those days “Jammie days” .

I was down in the Carolinas so that Dale and I could go on the Carolina Shop Hop that takes place in the western part of both North & South Carolina. We did not get to all the shops. I was pretty exhausted from the drive down, 13 hours. Yes, I drove it in 1 day. My body ached afterwards…for several days.

Dale and I found some “pretties” (quilt fabric) at Elaine’s Attic quilt shop. Elaine’s Attic is located in Landrum, SC. That was the first shop on our Shop Hop. We were there on Saturday and again on Monday. I had found an adorable polka dotted fabric that I need more of. I designed a fun quilt that is easy peasy to put together. It is on my design wall as I type.

While I was at Dale’s, I pieced all the necessary blocks. I have half the quilt pulled together. I am adding one more component to this quilt. I am using “Character Stitches” sometimes called embroidery stitches, from my Baby Lock Destiny sewing machine and a very pretty variegated thread to add some “bling” a little unexpected element to decorate the quilt. These designs are not meant to replace the quilting, that is a whole different element of design.

Polka Dot Cuteness
Another project I worked on while at Dale’s

The Maple Leaf table runner was fast and easy to make. I want to make more! Matter of fact, I can make more. I have more of the newspaper print and Kaffe Fasset fabrics….just saying, lol

Time for me to get busy. Have a wonderful day everyone!

Nancy McNally

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Stepping out of my comfort zone…

Please read entire blog post:

I have been working hard on a quilt that brought ME out of my comfort zone! Has this ever happened to you? What quilt could have done that?

Not going to reveal that to you just yet, sorry.

This pattern was so easy peasy! Oh my goodness is this quilt easy! Sew, how did it take me out of my comfort zone?

Because it is not a traditionally pieced quilt block. No blocks at all, it is all applique. Sew! Have you ever had one of those moments where you buy a pattern or design it, start picking out the fabrics, you are so excited this is going to be great and then things kind of start to feel not so exciting?

That is what happened to me. I am telling you the truth. Honestly, it was because the quilt was SO EASY! I was over thinking the quilt! So what if it was all applique! I mastered a technique, applique, and I became better at using the blanket stitch. Did I learn anything else with this out of my comfort zone quilt project? Oh yes! How to simply a pattern and how to fussy cut using Martelli Fussy cutting templates!

I overwhelmed myself by overthinking everything. Do not let this happen to you. If this does happen to you, it is time to step back and walk away for a few minutes. Don’t put the project away. Grab something to drink, get a snack, step outside get some fresh air, and come back in a few minutes with fresh eyes. This is what I did and it was an “ah ha” moment for me.

So, how did I solve my issue and get back into the Sew Zone? I started choosing fabrics that I love and I used pretty bright colorful threads for the applique stitches! OH! I also chose “decorative stitches” to embellish the books and trinkets on the shelves. All of a sudden the Bookcase quilt came alive for me!! Next thing I knew I was searching in my Baby Lock Destiny library of character stitches to see what other stitches I could use to decorate the books!

I fell in love with this quilt so fast because I made it my own! You can ask my friends that saw the project as I began working on it. Several of my friends told me before I started making mine that they can’t wait till I’m done, they wanted to make it also. When they saw my finished quilt they fell in love with the pattern even more!

To find out more about Stepping out of my Comfort Zone quilt project, more blog posts coming soon. There will be 1 blog post a week for 9 weeks.

Till then, Happy Quilting

Nancy McNally

Using Monofilament thread

Have you ever used monofilament thread? I have a new tutorial to film soon and it requires using monofilament thread for the blanket stitch on the applique pieces. I decided I needed to try using monofilament thread on my own project before I try it on one I am filming…so, here is what I designed and created.

Any ideas on a name for this block?

Here is how I created this: After cutting out my shapes, I fused them onto the fabric. Next, threaded my Baby Lock Destiny with Sulky Monofilament thread. Since I have never worked with monofilament thread, I thought I would try simple arcs to applique, no intricate work involved.

I purchased my thread at the local “J” store. Honestly, I’d like to try other brands of monofilament thread to see if any of them behave differently. I found Sulky and decided since I trust that brand, I would use it.

Sorry for the oversized picture….

Bobbin: used 50wt cotton, white thread

Next, I chose a blanket stitch to secure the raw edge fused arcs. On my Destiny, I have a couple of blanket stitches to choose from. I chose the blanket stitch that has smaller stitch length. I don’t care for the blanket stitch where the stitches are long. Okay, on to the project. Once I began stitching around the arcs, the thread behaved wonderful! Just glided through the thread path with ease. Thread did not bunch or break. I really enjoyed the outcome!

Blanket stitch, triple stitch and feather stitch

I chose to angle my camera so you could see the thread. Monofilament thread is supposed to be “invisible” lol….the flash from the camera picked up the thread.

After all applique was stitched down I moved onto quilting lines. By the way, I stitched the applique in place AFTER I made the quilt sandwich. So the applique stitches act as quilting stitches too. I decided I wanted to do some quilting stitches with the monofilament thread those are the triple stitch lines in the black with white polka dot fabric.

For my stitching lines I echoed the arcs and used my pressure foot as my guide for the distance between stitch lines. Easy Peasy!!

After the center area was quilted I moved to the outer corners, the white with black polka dot fabric. Now, with my Destiny, I have a guide beam that helps with stitching from one spot to the next without drawing a line. You can also move the guide beam light from left or right of the needle. I kept mine right in the center. I wanted to stitch from the center of the arc to the corner.

Can you see the pink laser light? Guides me right to the corner
How quick and easy is that!

Once I stitched the first line of quilting I moved my project so I can begin stitching at the arc again and work to the outer edge. I used the edge of my pressure foot to keep my quilting lines evenly spaced.

I left the guide beam light on so you can see the previous line of stitches.

You might be asking how I cut out my arcs. I have a template I designed. My template has center registration lines along with 1/4″ increment registration lines.

You can use my ruler right along with your rotary cutter or use it for marking quilting lines.

Time to get moving! Lots to do today!

Happy Quilting everyone!

Nancy McNally

I’m home

It has been a very busy 2 weeks. Whenever I become quiet, no posting on social media, that means I am traveling. I’m home for about 2 1/2 months. I’m hoping to get caught up on a lot of work!

Whenever I travel, at least this year, I am really tired when I arrive back home. Tired for several days! I have no energy, I just want to veg….do nothing. No time for that this week. I am very behind on several things and need to get started to catch up so I can enjoy this holiday weekend.

So here is what I was doing. First, I had to finish preparing for filming two more classes with Annie’s Online Classes. The classes will be released late summer early fall with www.AnniesCraftStore.com

New classes are: Learn to make a Bargello & Learn how to Curve Piece

Projects for both of these classes are made with bright rich vibrant colors! Of course! That is what I always choose. I just can’t help myself, I love working with fabrics that make me happy.

Caribbean Breeze on set
Love those curves…Can you see the Exit sign above my quilt?

Filmed for 2 days, left Indiana and headed home to pack for retreat! I drove to retreat on Friday. I was not feeling so great…I ended up driving back home. I felt like I was coming down with a cold… not happy that I left retreat, but it was the right thing to do.

I was only home for that weekend and I had to get back on the road again. This time I was headed for the west side of Michigan. Niles. I was invited by their guild to present my trunk show and teach a class: Rock Around the block.

We had such a great time! Everyone was so nice! Here are few pictures from their day!

Rock’n around the block
Can you see the ovals?

Time to get ready for the day. Looks like rain again…Happy Quilting everyone!

Nancy McNally

Maintenance Monday!

You have seen this reminder before, it is time to take care of our babies (sewing machines)

When was the last time you took your sewing machine in for a “Spa Treatment” day? Maybe it is not time to bring your machine in for a spa day, maybe you need to show a little love and do some basic maintenance yourself. Check with your local machine dealer to see if they offer a machine maintenance class.

Here are a few things that you can do to keep your machine running smooth:

Keep bobbin area clean by cleaning underneath the bobbin holder. Use your manual to learn how to remove and replace.

Some great handy helpers are pipe cleaners and makeup brushes to grab little threads and clean out lint that gets stuck to the machine parts.

Dust your machine. Those cotton threads release lint all over our machine bed…along with the fabrics we are sewing with. I remember one time I was working with flannel. Honestly, I never sneezed so much! Makes me wonder if I am allergic to that particular brand of flannel…hmmm… There was an abundance of lint floating around. I had to dust my entire machine after the project was completed. There were little fibers every where!!

Change your needle! Do not use the same needle till it breaks, please don’t. If you can “hear” the needle piercing the fabric, your needle is dull. If your thread is shredding, your needle has a bur…change your needle. Also, make sure you have the correct type of needle needed for the project.

Other areas to think about for Maintenance Monday:

Rotary cutter: when was the last time you changed the blade?

Accuquilt dies: did you use some of your dies this past week? If so, take a look to see if any threads are in the “blade” slots. Clean those off so that when you use that die again, you will get nice fresh cuts.

Scissors: Is your favorite pair of scissors not cutting as nice as before? It maybe time to have them sharpened. If you don’t know where to get them sharpened, call your local quilt store and see if they can recommend someone.

Did, by chance, you finish a quilt project this weekend? I kinda-sorta did, lol. I am trying to get into the habit of cleaning up my sewing room after I finish a project. It is kind of hard to do that sometimes because I have so many going on at one time! No JOKE! The maintenance part of this would be to vacuum the floor, empty the trash cans or empty your thread catcher.

Yesterday morning, Sunday, I was starting to put things away so I could focus in a room that was not so chaotic. I had so much fabric out on my cutting table, sewing table, iron board…any flat surface I had fabric laying on top of it! I could not find my rulers, my rotary cutter blade, notes! UGH!

Today, Monday, I am going to finish cleaning up my sewing room so that I can function. I had to stop cleaning yesterday because we had the kids over. We had chicken burritos in honor of Cinco de Mayo 🙂 The girls, Kayla & Emily, brought over queso, guacamole, Tres Leche, chips & salsa. Kayla made the queso and guacamole here, so it was fresh!! Emily made the cake earlier that morning. I cooked the chicken and prepared the rest of the meal. Dinner was at 2! It was sooo good!

Sorry, got off topic just a little bit.

Clean your machines, tools and don’t forget about the floor. Get those threads, little pieces of fabric off the floor and into the trash, scrap bin or start a bag of scraps for doggie beds.

Happy Maintenance Monday!

Nancy McNally

Quick and Easy

This past winter I wanted to sew an easy quilt, something fast! I had seen a smaller version of this quilt. Except the center or main pinwheel was off-center. Gave it a more modern look and feel.

When I design a quilt, I like it to be a little more symmetrical. I also like for my quilts to be square. Most are rectangles. A square quilt, for me, sets well in my brain, lolHere is what I started with: a precut bundle of 10″ squares and 2 1/2 yards of light. I had to go buy more of the light fabric…I decided to add borders. If you plan on making this quilt, you need 1/2 yard for an inner border, I chose a vibrant deep blue batik and another 1 1/2 yards to add the final outer border.

Yardage: Quilt will be approximately 90″x 90″

(1) precut bundle of 10″ squares (mine was a variety of blue batiks)

2 1/2 yards light for the half square triangles

1/2 yard for inner border

1 1/2 yards for outer border

2/3 yard binding

Backing : wide backing 96: wide (3 yards)

Here is how I constructed the quilt: I used 32 of the 10″ precut squares. From the light fabric, I cut (32) 10″ squares. Basically I cut (8) strips of light fabric at 10″ x width of fabric. Next, cut those strips into 10″ squares. On the wrong side of the light 10″ squares I drew a diagonal line corner to corner. Matched, right sides together, a light 10″ square to a 10″ precut square. Sew a 1/4″ seam on both sides of drawn line. Cut apart on the drawn line. Press seam allowances towards the dark fabric.

Trim all the Half Square Triangles to 9 1/2″ squares. You now have (64) half square triangles. Layout your blocks as shown in picture:

8 blocks in each row, 8 rows total

Here is a digital image of the layout, the picture above is from my design wall. I do not have enough room to stand directly in front of the quilt to take a head on picture. Join blocks into rows, watching the direction the dark fabric.

Rows 1,3,5,and 7 I pressed seam allowances to the right.

Rows 2,4,6 and 8 I pressed seam allowances to the left.

When joining the rows together, I pressed them all in the same direction. At this point you can choose whether you want to press the seam allowances toward the top or bottom of the quilt.

Next, the quilt top without borders, should measure 72 1/2″ x 72 1/2″. Cut your border fabrics. The inner border: from light fabric cut (8) strips at 2 1/2″ x width of fabric. Join (2) strips together, trim to measure 2 1/2″ x 72 1/2″. Repeat to make a second one. Sew to quilt top, left and right sides. Press toward the border or away from the quilt. Make 2 more border strips by joining 2 strips together, trim to measure 2 1/2″ x 76 1/2″

Center border: from dark fabric, same process as above, cut (8) strips at 2 1/2″ x wof. Join strips to fit the left and right sides. Left & right side center border strips 2 1/2″ x 76 1/2″. Top & bottom border strips 2 1/2″ x 80 1/2″. Join and press towards border away from quilt top.

Outer border: cut (9) strips of light fabric at 4 1/2″ x wof. Join strips for left and right side borders. Trim to 4 1/2″ x 80 1/2″. Press towards border away from quilt center. Top and bottom borders: 4 1/2″ x 88 1/2″

Picture this quilt with a variety of blues!

For binding, I cut my strips at 2 1/2″ x wof. Join my strips end to end, press in half along the length. After my quilt is quilted, I machine sew my binding to the back of the quilt first. Next, I bring the binding to the front of the quilt and use a decorative stitch to secure in place.

Time for me to go add my borders and put the quilt on my longarm!!

This quilt was sew easy to make! I have a smaller project I am going to make with the remaining (10) 10″ precut squares. Hint, I did make more half square triangles from the remaining squares. I will show you what I made soon. I have an interesting technique of cutting to create the next project. Till then,

Happy Quilting,

Nancy McNally

Half Square Triangles

What is your favorite method of creating half square triangles (HST)?

bunches of Half Square Triangles


With right sides together, do you:

Do you like to start with larger than needed squares so you can trim the HST to the correct size?

Do you like to draw the diagonal line and sew 1/4″ seam on both sides of the line, then cut apart on the drawn line?

Or maybe you like to cut the squares apart on 1 diagonal, place right sides together and sew?

What about the paper method? I believe there are triangle papers? Such as Triangles on a Roll or Thangles

Do you use a special ruler to cut your HST pieces?

I would love to hear how you like to make half square triangles.

I have a couple methods I like to use. I tried using the paper method, was not a fan. I do tend to cut my squares larger, draw the diagonal line, sew 1/4″ on either side, cut apart and trim to the correct size.

Great Block to use your half square triangles .

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally