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

HST

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

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.

Tip:

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