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

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

ABC Block Club

Every month on my Facebook group,

“Sew Anyways with Nancy McNally”

We offer 2 new blocks. Yes, a new quilt block. No, I do not design the block. The blocks come from this book “501 Rotary Cut Quilt Blocks”.

Over a year ago, Cheri and I sat down with book in hand, went through each page of blocks to find different blocks, quilt blocks that are not normally seen in today’s quilts.

Cheri loves researching the history of each block. The information she discovers is always interesting. In Cheri’s write up, she does her best to find the origination of the block and how the block was published. Along with the history, she offers a variety of colorways you might want to create the block in yourself. Here is an example of Cheri’s latest write up for the block Ladies Wreath:

“Ladies’ Wreath
“On or under your hair? “
Ladies Art Company was established in 1889. Ladies Art Co. was the first business to offer hundreds of quilt patterns in a mail order catalog. The last recorded publishing from this company was in 1974. Ladies Art Company’s historical importance in the quilt world needs to be publicized. It had enormous influence on America’s system of naming quilt blocks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ladies’ Wreath was originally published in 1897 by the ladies Art Company, pattern #322.

I kept searching. What was a Ladies Wreath? Why name a quilt block after it? I was assuming to find a reference to a hair decoration placed on the head. What I found was actually a book for females. It was a collection of literature, industry, religion and beautiful graphics all written by English and American female writers. It was published approximately from 1837-1870. Below is a link if you would like to look inside one of these books. These books would help educate females of things outside their own communities. What a resource these books must have been. This would have been a good reason to create a block in my option.”

And here is my block. I used Northcott’s Stonehenge 10″ square precut bundle, and a batik. I pulled 3 squares out of the bundle and cut what was needed. I wanted variety of shades.

Ladies Wreath block

What did we learn in this block?

Working with half square triangles.

Working with half square triangles can be a little bit of an issue. I have adopted the method of cutting my fabrics slightly larger for my first cuts. Construct the block as directed and trim the half square triangles to the correct size before pulling the block’s components together.


To help this block lay flat, it would be best to press the seams open.

Why? In the areas where 3 half square triangles come together there is a lot of fabric. The seams make it very bulky and sometimes your needle will NOT want to go through that bulk and or the feeddogs on your machine can’t pull all of the bulk through. Sew…if you press your seams open, this creates less bulk in those areas. See picture below, the areas marked with a red circle are “bulky seams”. There are 12 layers of fabric coming together if the seams were not pressed open. There are 2 other areas in the block that could benefit from having the seams pressed open. Can you find them?

Time to get moving on with my day. Next ABC Block is: Lady of the Lake. I modified it….made one, but don’t care for my color choices. I plan on making another one. I will include the modification in my next blog ABC block post.

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally

oops, I cut too many pieces…

Yep, I did it again.

I cut too many pieces of fabric.

Sew, just what do you do when you cut too many pieces?

You make a wall hanging!

I had enough extra pieces to create this wall hanging. Need to add a border or maybe 2 borders, quilt and bind. Quick and easy! Now what do I name it? Oh I know, My Circle of Friends

In this quilt, I combined 1 center block (Shoo fly block) and built around it. The units that are surrounding the center are 2/3rds of another block (54/40 or Fight Block) and the corners are almost 2/3rds of the center block. Can you see the blocks?

When I wake up in the morning, that is when my brain is at its most “creative”. This is what I created this morning, along with 3 other blocks that are on my design wall. I just want to design or piece a new design. I have declared that the early morning, evening hours and weekends are mine for working on my own projects. House cleaning can come later, lol

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally

EQ8, Love this program

I have decided to go through my eq8 (Electric Quilt 8) teaching books every morning. I am learning something new each lesson. I obviously only knew the bare minimum of the program, and I am shocked at how much I am learning. I’m still in chapter 1 of Drawing Blocks book. My next 2 books arrived last week 1-Designing Quilts and 2-Designing More Quilts. It might take me 6 months to go through these books, but I am determined to learn!

Here is what I learned today. Most I already new, it is the little tricks that are exciting me.

Not the prettiest quilt, I still love it. Today’s lesson, the part that I got excited about was the symmetry button. There were 16 different layouts to choose from by clicking the symmetry button. This was my favorite! Oh! and there is a button that will hide the patch lines, that was also in this lesson.
Do you see the difference between the 2 quilts?

Originally, I was hiding the patch lines in a different step, this is so much faster and easier to do! Best purchase in a long time!!

Here is a little bit of information that you may not know about me. I wanted to be an architect. Life did not take me down that path. Instead, life took me down a road that allowed me to be a wife and mom to 5. Homeschooled all of our kids beginning to end (graduated). Quilting, well it came into my life when the kids were little. It, quilting, gradually became a part of my daily life as the kids got older. And well, the rest is history, LOL

During dinner the other day I was telling my family about the EQ8 lessons, my youngest son John, said, “Mom, you ought to take a CAD class.” I am thinking about it, we will see.

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally

Fall Paducah!

Great news! I was invited to teach at the AQS Fall Paducah Quilt show!! I am super excited and nervous at the same time. I do realize I will be surrounded by like minded people, so I know I will be ok. If you have never attended either one of the Paducah shows, maybe this year you can make it to the Fall one. Show dates September 11-14, 2019.

I will be teaching 3 classes, all in the evening from 5-8pm. Here are the classes I will be teaching:

Anna Starflake: If you have ever wanted to learn how to paper piece, guess what technique you will learn? You got it! Paper piecing allows you to get the most precise and accurate points! It really is not as difficult as its reputation says.

Anna Starflake on the set of PBS tv show Love of Quilting, alternate setting to the left in black, red, white
Closer view to alternate layout of Anna Starflake
Another option, using only 1 color (red) as opposed to the original using 2 colors for the center design

My 2nd class is Rock Around the Block. A fun quilt that uses the original precut: Fat Quarter! What a fun quilt to make, learn how to layout those cute little 9-patches so they Rock around the center hexagon. And Guess what? NO Y seams! I did the math for you by reworking the traditional Jack’s Chain pattern and took out those pesky Y seams!

Rock Around the Block

And my 3rd class is Woven Stars. Another project that uses precuts. This project uses 10″ squares (layer cake) and yardage for the background or light colored fabric found throughout the project. With Woven Star, you begin with a large half square triangle, do some slicing, dicing and switcheroo and next thing you know you have a Woven Star block finished!

Close up of center of Woven Star

I’m really looking forward to attending the Fall AQS Paducah show! My classes are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I will get to explore the show and maybe take some classes myself! You might just find me in the Innova Longarm booth. Drop me a note if you plan on attending the show.

Happy Quilting everyone!

Nancy McNally

Designing quilts

For the last 8 years I have been using Electric Quilt software to design quilts/blocks. I began with EQ7 and have upgraded to EQ8. I never took any lessons, just used the handbook to learn how to operate the program. When I upgraded to EQ8 I also began wanting to design and piece more intricate quilts. After some frustration, the frustration was my fault not being able to find my handbook, I decided to dive in and purchase another “how to” book from Electric Quilt. This was exactly what I needed. My schedule does not allow me to travel to take the classes EQ8 offers. Having the books on hand is better for me!

I began thumbing through the book to see where I could start. Basically finding the first lesson that I did not know how to do. Chapter 1 about mid way through there was Tracing a block.

Tracing a Block involves taking a picture of a block that is already pieced, uploading or importing into eq8 files. The instructor/author already had numerous ones in the book for you to use (if you want to upload photos to your EQ8 files, there are step by step how to instructions to assist you). So that was where I began. Lo and behold I learned how to trace a block in just a few short minutes. Once you complete the how to, there are several practice blocks to work with. Honestly, I learned 2 lessons this morning not just 1. So worth it!!

I am so happy that I purchased this book. So happy that I purchased 2 more books this morning using my coupon!

If you ever want to design your own quilts, EQ8 is the way to go! Easy step by step lessons, large pictures and diagrams to help you succeed!

You can check EQ8 out at:

Time to get to get off the computer. Hope you have a wonderful day!

Happy Quilting,

Nancy McNally

Oh my those Triangles!

Oh yes, all those little triangles making up each quarter square triangle.

The above block is one of the newest blocks Cheri has added to our ABC block club in my Facebook group “Sew Anyways with Nancy McNally. Each month we introduce 2 new blocks that we have found in the book “501 Rotary Cutting Quilt Blocks”

Cheri searches the internet for the history behind the blocks and she also has several books she references. Once she finds the history, if there is any to be found, she writes up post for us to read. I always enjoy reading what she finds!

The latest block she posted was the kaleidoscope block. I have been wanting to make this block as soon as we chose it over a year ago.

So I grabbed some fabric, started cutting, then the sewing began.

HMMM working with these pesky little triangles, oh boy this block is going to be a little wonky, I can feel it.

I recolored in EQ8 to allow the colors and triangles to show better

Once I began piecing the triangles together and noticed they were not going to cooperate, I decided I needed to stop and take an extra step before continuing. Spray starch the fabric, then cut the triangles!

The white larger triangles that are located on the outer center’s, that triangle came from a square that measured 5.25″ cut on both diagonals. The smaller triangles, both white and bluish fabrics, came from a 3.25″ square cut on both diagonals. Once you construct the pieced quarter square triangle components…they are a little wonky! The larger white triangle should be the same size as the pieced triangle component, keyword: should be, but they were not! This drives me nuts! LOL

I had to recut the larger white triangles to 5 3/8ths” square cut on both diagonals. Did that, next, the quarter square triangle components now fit together with the large white triangle. Okay good!

The center square and the corner squares in the block measure 4.5″ so that means the pieced quarter square sections should also measure 4.5″…keyword SHOULD! NO they did not. I could not trim the units to 4.5″ because I would loose the triangle tips. I would have to cut them off. UGH!

I measured my seam allowance and I was good (1/4″ all around). So, how does this happen?! Triangles on the bias!

How do I fix this, because I had to increase all of the squares to match the size of the quarter square triangles? I cut more fabric. I am going to rework the block in a larger size so that it is easier to piece and less chance of mistakes. I love this block and I want to make more without the frustration.

If you are wondering what fabric I used in my block, the first picture, I used Kaffe Fassett. I love his fabric!

Time to get offline!

Happy Quilting everyone and watch for the rework of the Kaleidoscope block. Larger and easier sizes to work with.

Nancy McNally

Surprise, you are in a magazine…seriously

Yes, I found out I had a design in Love of Quilting magazine. I received a large brown envelope in the mail yesterday. I thought, did you order a book and forgot about it? I opened the envelope and there were 2 copies of the magazine. Well now, let’s see..what did I design? Must have been something with Sara Gallegos. Yep! Two years ago, I was asked to design a mystery quilt for Decorative Stitch Quilt shop.

Magazine cover
And there is the quilt

Sara renamed the quilt Wave-washed Pebbles. I have not seen the quilt since she made the one for the magazine. Annette Huston and Ken Thompson quilted. Sara, host of LOQ tv showed how we made the quilt on the 3300 series episode 3312.

Its kind of nice when you see your name in a magazine.

Mystery Quilt: for the past several years Decorative Stitch has hosted a Mystery quilt day/weekend. They are a lot of fun. When they host mystery quilt they go all out! The provide the quilt fabric already cut into the sizes and shapes, a machine, thread and more goodies in your box. All you have to do is show up. When you walk into the store the day of mystery quilt, the classroom is off limits till the official start time.

Every machine is assigned to someone so there are name tags at each machine. You will find, but you cannot peak, a large pizza box sitting beside your assigned machine. Inside the pizza box are all the pieces and parts needed for block construction. We have a power point presentation for each step and lots of helpers in the room in case you have sewing machine issues. We go through a quick demo on the machine to make you comfortable. Then it is mark, get set, let’s Sew!

Oh and I can’t forget that drinks, snacks and lunch are provided!

When Mary & Sara host an event they do it right!

On that note, I need to get busy! I have a trunk show presentation tonight at Oakland County Quilt Guild in Rochester, MI