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

2-Day Serger Class

I had a LOT of fun and learned SEW much in the 2-Day Serger Class I took at Decorative Stitch!

Sara Gallegos was our instructor and she brought along with her 3 educators from Baby Lock. I loved every minute of this class! The educators were fantastic, nice having the extra help in class. Oh! I can’t forget about Terri who works for Decorative Stitch. She’s one of my favorites!

When taking a class from Sara, a specialty technique or machine class, Sara provides you with the fabric and threads. And!! Mary comes in and draws tickets for great giveaways! They always have great prizes for us! No, I did not win, but I was oh so close to having my number drawn! LOL

In class we learned how to use different feet, how to QUILT with a serger, making a ruffle, rolled hem, cording, working with curves, creating handles and zippers. We made 3 projects in class.

Laptop carrying bag, cosmetic bag and a tissue holder

Yes, the projects are pink. That is ok, it was all about technique! I loved what I learned and plan on making more with my serger. I really needed this class. I own an ovation serger, I need to use it more often. These types of classes help build my confidence and inspire me to create more.

Along with being in this type of technique class, Mary & Sara also provide lunch for everyone. But wait! You get 20% from purchases. WOO-HOO!

The class was full! I sat with a group of ladies that kept me entertained…we were the last 2 rows, a little on the rowdy side, LOL just kidding, we got along great and had a blast! It is so nice getting out the house and being with like minded “Sewers”. I can’t wait till next class…which is in May! Except I will be learning how to create with my Sashiko machine! HOW COOL IS THAT?! Way cool! That’s how! LOL

Happy Quilting everyone!

Nancy McNally

Rock Around the Block

There is a story behind every quilt I make…today’s story is about how Rock Around the Block came about….

Rock Around the Block

My quilt pattern Rock Around the Block is up!

Rock Around the Block is fun to make. You start out by making 9 patches, easy right? Of course it is. Trim to the correct size and next is where the magic begins. The picture below is NOT my block, this is the traditional version…Keep reading

Over 7 years ago I wanted to make a Jack’s Chain blockThis image is from Quilter’s Cache

But most quilters want to avoid the Y seam, right? Y seams are really not that difficult, they just take a little extra effort.

What did I do to make this block doable for everyone?

I started redesigning Jack’s Chain block because I really wanted to make this block. I love the movement when all the blocks are sewn together to create the quilt. Crazy movement! Its like an S curve happens all over the quilt.

Look at the original block again. See the hexagon in the middle? In order to create the hexagon in the middle of the block, all the angles have to be worked out … meaning Math!

I tried to design the block in my EQ software program. I could not figure out how to. So, I did it the hard way. I cut fabric! Cut all kinds of triangles with different angles.  That did not work…epic fail…I put the fabric and idea away for a while a LONG while.

One day (or should I say months later) I came across the bin that I had placed my work in for this block/quilt. Time to try this again, let’s see if I can figure this out.  I was determined!

Next step:  I drew the block on graph paper (why did I not do that first!?), cut out the triangle I drew on the graph paper. Aligned it on my fabric, added a quarter inch all the way around and well the rest is history. It worked!!

Afterwards, I had to make several of these blocks. 1 and done ummm nope, …it was more like make 5 blocks later. I had to check the math over and over again.  Next, I needed to figure out a way to make the template…I had to digitally make the template so that I could offer the quilt to the public.

When you first glance at the block and look at the 9-patches, you might think…I can just surround the 9-patches with rectangles and then trim each to the correct size. Well…there is more to it then just that. You know why? I tried that method myself.  See, I think just like some of you do, LOL.  I could not get the hexagon to happen and the bias now gets placed on the outside of the block. The angles have to be just right or the hexagon will not form and the corners will not come together to create the shape. It will be off.

I love this quilt.

It is cute, adorable and full of happy fabrics!

The blocks create motion all over the quilt.

Your eyes just keep moving!

You can make the 9-patches out of batiks, traditional cottons, modern prints! It does not matter! Make it scrappy scrappy or control the color combination. It is Fat Quarter friendly. Great project to take on retreat!

You can choose to make the alternate design, which are the little churn dash blocks, or not. Can you find the red churn dash blocks?

You can find Rock Around the Block in my store:

http://nancymcnallyquilts.com/product/rock-around-the-block/

 

Time to get quilting!

Nancy McNally

Travel Compartment Bag for Crafters

This was a fun project to make!

The Compartment Bag

This Compartment Bag holds A LOT!  And what Fun FABRIC

“Keep your sewing supplies, tools and notions neat and organized when on the go! In this Learn, Make, Create! episode, quilting expert Nancy McNally demonstrates how to make an amazing multicompartment project bag using unusual materials including grosgrain ribbon and vinyl window screening.

 The bag’s zippered pouches, curved corners and handles are easy to form with Nancy’s expert guidance. The finished bag measures approximately 15″ x 22-1/2″ when open and 15″ x 10-3/4″ when closed, and includes 8 zippered pouches for holding an assortment of supplies.”

https://s3.amazonaws.com/publishing-videos/LMC0104_Snippet.mp4

You know, as quilters, we love to quilt with our besties!

Our favorite quilting friends.

Often times when we want to gather with our besties, we have to travel to meet with them.

Traveling might just mean across town or say a few hours down the road…like driving to a retreat!

When we are gathering our supplies to go quilt with a group of friends, we need to make sure we have all of our supplies. Supplies other than our sewing machines. We have to bring smaller items like you see in the picture.

The Compartment bag has 8 zipper compartment bag to hold all your supplies! Supplies that we all have learned are necessary when quilting away from home.

I chose a different colored zipper to make the 8 compartments, colorful and easy to see.

A fun bubble fabric by Robert Kaufman, I just can’t get enough of this line: Effervescence

Now I have a place to hold all my small supplies and I can place the pattern in the front of the bag to keep it safe!Making the screen pouches was incredibly easy!  Yes, you can sew with window screen fabric without having to use a special needle. The screen fabric allows you to see what is inside each pouch. The zipper of course keeps all the contents in the pouches plus the Compartment bag zips closed. Handles on are the outside so transporting is quick and easy, just grab and go!

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Gross Grain ribbon is added to the outer zipper. This allows for the bag to have more storage room. How? It makes the bag a little wider. Just enough room for all of our goodies (supplies) that we need to bring along with us. I chose a cut yellow polka dot ribbon, and used it also in the center of the bag.
 I hope you decide to make this compartment bag! It is easy and fun! And you what else? You will get a lot of use out of it! Always have it stored nearby so when it is time to hit the road, you just grab and go!

If you would like to view other classes Annie’s has to offer, check them out at Annie’s Creative Studio

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Nancy McNally

 

 

Binding, I find it uninspiring

I know I know, some of you reading this will be saying “I love binding” well, I don’t. I don’t find it creative. Actually I believe it is the task of helping the heavy quilted quilt through the machine. That’s what makes me not enjoy binding. Sew, I need to figure out a way I can enjoy binding. After all it is the last step! I find it uninspiring so, lets try to think of a way to make it faster or more creative…

Here is what I find difficult when sewing the binding on the traditional way:

1-dealing with all the bulk through the machine, it is heavy.  Yes, I use my walking foot, also known as an even feed foot.

2-Next is having the quilt in my lap to hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Oh my, being that I am in MENOPAUSE! Are you kidding me! I’m an oven right now and to have the quilt on top of me for sewing…just ain’t gonna happen, LOL

3-Arthritis in my hands. Having to hold binding, needle with fingers that ache…not fun

So there are my 3 reasons why I don’t like binding

And, I must add, I do not enter any of my own quilts into quilt shows. If I did, then I would use the traditional method. It is a cleaner look.

You have probably figured out that I machine bind. I truly feel it is stronger than hand binding. You can argue with me if you want, I’m not going to change, see reasons listed above, LOL.

I have 2 methods of machine binding.

1- After squaring the quilt and preparing the binding, I sew the binding to the back of the quilt first. Roll the binding to the front, secure with pins or wonderclips, choose a decorative stitch with a pretty thread and SEW<— that is how I make it creative …pretty thread and a decorative stitch.

2-After squaring the quilt and preparing the binding, I sew the binding to the front of the quilt or top. Next I roll the binding to the back, secure with pins in the ditch from the front of the quilt. I only secure a little bit at a time so I don’t get poked with pins. Use my Digital Dual Walking foot with the ditch foot with guide. Position quilt with the binding ditch area directly in the line of the guide from the foot and sew in the ditch..hoping to catch the back of the binding in place.

I thought I’d show how I mark the binding at the corner. I use my Creative Grid Ruler “Bias Binding Simplified”. If you have this ruler you know that it has a 45° angle on one end. I place the ruler with the angled tip at my corner with the ruler going to my left. I mark the angled line with a chalk pencil. As I continue to sew towards the corner, the needle will land directly on the drawn line. That is where I STOP sewing, needle down, pressure foot lift and turn the quilt so I can sew off at the corner.  I then create the 45° sewn line for re-positioning the binding. Now I can continue onto the next side of the quilt.

My Digital Dual Feed Walking Foot. The Digital Dual Feed Walking Foot is belt driven. Directly behind the foot, is the belt that is 1/2″ wide and grabs the fabric gently advancing. Now top and bottom layers are fed through evenly. Love Love Love this foot.

 This is how I align my ruler. I get perfect mitered corners!

Happy Quilting (Binding) everyone,

Nancy McNally

 

 

Projects in Progess?

What project(s) do you have in progress? I know I have several. I always have several projects in progress, always! This one in particular is way out of my comfort zone when it comes to colors. Mary, owner of Decorative Stitch, asked me to piece the quilt a while back for the shop. Things got busy and my focus was needed on a different project. Sew! Now I am back to piecing this one.

 

Latte Mosaic

See the circle? Not the blue one, the one formed by the fabric

This quilt is made from browns, grays, creams and variations of each color as in hue. If you look close you will see the circle and how it forms. I circled the fabric circle in blue. This quilt is still in progress.

At first I did not think I would enjoy piecing it because of the colors. But! I am! It is the illusion of the circle that forms from triangles that makes me love this quilt. When you see in person the colors are very warm and soft. You may think the triangles are from 60° ruler, nope. It is a different angle, I love it!

What projects do you have in progress?

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally

Cheating? Hmmmm…opinions please

I remember when longarm machines came into the world of quilting, oh man what an uproar! The “founders” of this new way to quilt our quilts faster than by hand quilting or quilting on your home domestic machine, they had to fight for the rights for their work to get recognized!! What an uphill battle that was! They deserve praises for their hard work!! Kudos to Linda Taylor, Marcia Stevens and Pam Clarke for paving the way for us.

Yesterday I was working at the shop. About an hour before closing a very nice cheerful lady came in and was chatting. I was sitting at a machine sewing a shop sample and behind me I had the longarm running. Yes, I had the computer/robotics running on the longarm…I was multi-tasking. The lady said her good byes and as she turned she saw the longarm. She bursted out, and I mean bursted out, “That’s cheating!!” I about jumped out of my skin she startled me so bad. I said, ” what are you talking about?” And she pointed to the longarm as it was stitching its way across the quilt. She needed to tell me that she has to manually freehand all her quilts and that (pointing to the longarm) was cheating. I did everything I could to NOT come back at her. ( I scratched over the price of the serger in the picture, I don’t want to advertise that.) This was the quilt I was working on at the shop. Yes, that is my log cabin pattern 
But here is the question for you: Is using computer robotics cheating in the world of longarm quilting?

Using the ProStitcher at the shop on my Wavy Log Cabin Quilt

Yes, the pattern is available here: http://nancymcnallyquilts.com/product/gentle-wave-log-cabin/

I’ve made 2 different colorways with this quilt, Can’t wait to get my fall one finished! It is purples, burgandies, golden yellows, greens, blues…just scrumptious.

Back to my question: Is it cheating to use a computer robotics system to have your quilts finished? Well, I posted this very question on my Facebook group (Sew Anyways with Nancy McNally) and here are some of the responses. Feel free to leave your own comment below. I received 119 comments and they are still commenting. Here are some of them:

Sandy: Why that was rude! Not cheating it’s multi-tasking. She probably can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, lol. Whatever gets the job done! Beautiful Log Cabin. Blue is right up there with purple as my favorites!

Kriss:  Love your Log Cabin Quilt! ? No, computerized Quilting is not cheating! Quilt shows have a category for this technique ??

Jill: Free hand and computers are two different skills. I have found learning each has been difficult. Personally I want both skills. I try QBOT on one quilt then freehand on the next. Computer has been more of a struggle. Not cheating

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally