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There is only one word I would use to describe these fabrics – glorious!

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These are fabrics from Benartex’s Caryl’s Feather collection!  I am using them for my current quilt.  It is amazing to see how the quilt sparkles with these fabrics. Click here to view the entire fabric range.  The interesting thing about these fabrics is that there isn’t a focal print per se – sometimes, it’s the colors that make the quilt!

So tell me, do you like these fabrics?

My week got off with a bit of a rocky start, but the blessings in my life are far greater than the setback.   By the time you see this post, the quilt is being prepared to be quilted.  So come back again for a sneaky peek!  Have a most blessed week, Dear Friends!

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“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”    ~2 Corinthians 4: 17

“Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by.  Life is like that – one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery.”

~Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

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Yes, our little Miss Baby is not quite that little anymore.  She is officially embarking on her first needlework project.  She has done a few practice pieces here and there.  But this one is the real deal!  Stay tuned for work-in-progress pictures. :)

Curious ear would love to hear about your first crafty project.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a most lovely weekend, Dear Friends!

Hello Friends!  Thank you for stopping by again.  It’s time to announce the winner of my Learn to Machine Quilt giveaway!

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Thank you ALL for entering the giveaway.  I appreciate all the comments you left.  I am happy to congratulate Claudia D (#91) as the giveaway winner. Claudia, Annie’s will contact you with further information on your free copy of my Learn to Machine Quilt class.

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I am also excited to share with you about a $5 discount for the class Annie’s has offered to my bloggy friends.  The offer is valid for a limited time – between now and 8/14/2014, applicable for BOTH the online class as well as the DVD — content is the same for both the online class and DVD.  You may click here to read more about the class.

Click HERE to sign up for Learn to Machine Quilt class, and do not forget to enter discount code EZHMQ at check out for the $5 discount.

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Jean left a sweet review on the class on yesterday’s post.  She made my day!

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I hope you will let me be your quilting buddy as you embark on your own machine quilting journey by signing up for the class.  Plus, you know where to find me should you ever need help.

That’s all for today.  I am back in panic mode in the frying pan.  You will know what I mean when I post a sneak peek in a couple of days!  Meanwhile, you all take care.

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Hello Friends!  I thought I would spend a few moments responding to the free-motion quilting concerns you shared on my giveaway of my Learn to Machine Quilt post.  You still have till 12am EST 8/7/2014 to enter the giveaway.

1.  Runaway stitches – help!

Wendy’s 2 cents:  I remember the runaway stitches well, especially during my learning curve stage.  It still happens to me sometimes when my family startles me when I am quilting, or when Miss Baby decides to snuggle right next to me when I am trying to quilt a large quilt.  When runaway stitches happen, I would either leave them be or rip them out depending how bad they are (or how much time I have).

To minimize the running away of stitches, I would mentally brace myself when my stitching comes near a stopping point.  Then, I would slow down my stitching (very important!), and make sure I have my hands well on the quilt sandwich so that my quilt sandwich doesn’t veer in any direction — before taking a few tiny bites to tie off a particular stitching path if I am at a spot where I have to cut off my threads.

2.  Struggling with bobbin tension -help!

Wendy’s 2 cents:  I am thinking bobbin tension was raised as a concern because oftentimes quilters try to match their bobbin threads with the backing fabric they use, which oftentimes are of different colors they use for their top threads.   They then find out no matter how they tweak the settings (top and bobbin), sometimes, the bobbin threads would still show up on the quilt top.  VERY annoying, I know!

Instead of fighting, I take the easy way out.  I always use the same threads for my top and bobbin threads.  That way, I don’t have to waste my time trying to fine tune fine tuning my settings.  More often than not, my bobbin thread colors do not match my quilt backing fabric.  But the results can be visually striking on the back, as shown below.

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3.  Give your quilting some time to simmer!

French 75 Quilts left the following comment on the Learn to Machine Quilt Class giveaway post.

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Wendy’s 2 cents: Boy, truer words have never been said when it comes to evaluating your own quilting – especially for those who are braving the learning curve stage.  It is true!!!!  I have taught students who start out being really critical of their own quilting, noticing the uneven stitches here and there.  BUT after they have quilted a larger area, walked away, and come back to look at their quilting again – inadvertently, the comments are always, “It looks better than I thought”, or “It is actually not that bad.”  I don’t think that is falsely consoling oneself.  I think when we go back to look at our quilting after it “simmers”, we look at the big picture and are taken by the overall texture reflected by the light from those quilting stitches.

You can be sure I have BAD stitches in the quilting shown below…!  But you tend to see the overall big picture, don’t you?

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4.  Uneven stitching speed – help!

Wendy’s 2 cents:  My stitching speed is actually not constant.  The reason being sometimes when rounding a corner or stitching in tight spot, I have to really concentrate – and so I slow down!  So, to those who struggle with uneven stitching speed, I say as long as your stitches are even, it’s okay to vary your stitching speed.  I mean, we don’t drive at a constant speed at all times because there are always unforeseen things on the road, and so we adjust our driving speed accordingly. I think that’s the same concept.  When I first learned how to drive, a friend advised me not to drive faster than I could see.  I have applied that same principle to quilting.  I never quilt faster than I can see!

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5.  Struggling with quilting large scale – help!

Wendy’s 2 cents:  I actually think it is easier to quilt small on a domestic machine.  But it is possible to quilt large scale if — 1.  You have quilted the motif in small scale, and 2.  You are VERY familiar with the stitching path. Taking care  of those two variables first and foremost will really help in large scale quilting.

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Then, as you quilt, every so often, come out for air and survey the territory on your quilt yet to be quilted, and proceed from there.

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Then, finally, don’t be nervous.  Just…. keep calm, and quilt on!  Don’t you love that mug?  I would love to have one.  You can purchase it here.  Image below is borrow from the purchase link.

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To read previous Q&A posts, click the following:

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Thank you for stopping by!  Stop back by tomorrow for the announcement of the winner of my Learn to Machine Quilt class!  Have a blessed day, Dear Friends.

Hello Friends!  It’s lovely to have you back.  I hope you are doing well.  I am happy to share with you a free to use pattern I designed for Benartex using their newly released line, Luvbugs.    Don’t be intimidated by the Y-seams you see.  I used my cheater’s method to achieve those Y-seams!!

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You have GOT to check out the LuvBugs fabrics!

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Click here to view all the fabrics in the collection.

Click here to download free to use quilt pattern instructions.

Have a most LUV-LY day, Dear Friends!   I shall catch up with you tomorrow.

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My 2014 free to use designs:

[My free to use designs from previous years are listed under "FREE PATTERNS" on the side bar.]

January: Midori’s Place using Gramercy by Benartex

January: View on Lexington using Gramercy by Benartex

January: Everything’s Coming Up Rosey using English Rosey by Benartex

February: Verde (Quilt) by Quilting Treasures

February: Verde (Banner/Runner) by Quilting Treasures

March: Hot Topic by Quilting Treasures

March: Poseidon’s Adventure using Neptune’s Dream by Benartex

March: My Cozy Sweater using Palm Springs by Benartex

March: Wild Kingdom using Sew Rousseau by Benartex

April: Fun with Frosty (Quilt & Runner) by Quilting Treasures

April: The First Thanksgiving (Quilt & Runner & Placemat) by Quilting Treasures

May: Party Poppers using Paintbox/Shadows by Benartex

May: Sprinkled Sweets using Paintbox/Shadows by Benartex

May: Dino Craze using 10,000 B.C. by Benartex

June: Monster Mash by Quilting Treasures

June: Santa’s Sleigh using Starry Night by RJR Fabrics

June: Learning is Fun by Quilting Treasures

August: Lovey Buggy using Luvbugs by Benartex

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Hello Friends, I hope your week has gotten off a good start.  Thank you ALL for sharing about the challenges you face in domestic machine quilting in my Learn to Machine Quilt giveaway post.  I truly am appreciative of you for doing that. Due to the high volume of comments, I am not able to respond to most of your comments personally unless you have unique concerns.  I have tried to write you personally if you have expressed unique concerns.  I am going to share a few thoughts (hopefully encouraging and assuring to you) to address the concerns shared by many.

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1.  I have never tried machine quilting.  I have put off quilting my own quilts.

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Yes, trying something new can be scary and very deterring!  I know.   However, my experience in machine quilting is such that once one gets over the learning curve, it will be easier.  But one needs to be determined to get over that initial hump.  My Learn to Machine Quilt class is designed to help jump-start quilters on quilting on their domestic machines.  I always start my students with echoing.  I believe if one is able to echoing echoes that are somewhat equally apart, one has gotten a good feel of moving one’s quilt sandwich.  And many subsequent motifs and techniques are actually extension of echoing, in fancier renditions.

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2.  I struggle with jerky and large stitches.  Curves are angular rather than curvy.

Wendy’s 2 cents:  I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this while I was working to finish up a quilt over the weekend.   I mean quite a bit of time because except for church, I was home working on Iron Man II.  The quilt is done, and on its way to the editor as of this morning.  But I digress…

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think… I suspect… the reason some struggle with large, jerky stitches is because they might be moving their quilt sandwiches too much spatially speaking while stitching.  I found that one does not have to move my quilt sandwich a lot while stitching – if my foot pedal is pressed down, a teeny amount of movement WILL result in my needle taking a stitch.  SO, I would suggest moving your quilt sandwich just ever so little (and slowly) to see if your stitches improve.  Hopefully, by slowing down and moving small will help you get into a nice rhythm of enjoyable stitching and beautiful stitches!

I have small hands.  The way I move my quilt sandwich is I would use my lay my left hand on the quilt sandwich (like a webbed feet) to keep the quilt area taut, and use my right thumb and first finger to slightly pick up the other side of the quilt.  I find that I am able to move my quilt with small movements that way. But I also realize different people find different ways that work for them.  So, I am just throwing this out there as food for thought!

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As for smooth curves, I think the sample principle applies.  Don’t move your quilt sandwich and force the needle to take too big a “bite”. You might try that and see if moving your quilt sandwich in small spatial amount helps.

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3.  How to handle large quilts?

Wendy’s 2 cents:  My Learn to Machine Quilt class does NOT cover how to handle large quilts because it is meant to be a primer class to get quilters to learn the basics of machine quilting.  The class sample finishes at 24″ square.   In my experience, I can comfortably quilt quilts on my domestic machine up to about 80″ square. I have done one that is over 90″ square, and that was pushing it.  All that said, I think it is definitely do-able if you are quilting a large throw or even a twin quilt.

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To handle large quilts, my suggestion is to make sure you have a large surface that is flushed with your sewing surface.  That way, you can keep all your quilt ON the surface instead of having it drape and drag below your sewing table.  Having an L-shape sewing surface helps too.  It is important to keep the weight of the quilt ON the quilting surface and not below.  Then, you just need to fan out for yourself an area about 8″ x 8″ around your needle area so that you can quilt nicely without any puckers.

The other thing I would suggest is to use light batting (silk is great!) to reduce the overall weight of the quilt.  It makes me a difference for me when I am trying to move my quilts sandwiched with silk batting instead of the heavier cotton.  Click here for my Thread Talk post on silk batting.

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4.  I have difficulty deciding what to quilt.

Wendy’s 2 cents:  That is a very common challenge faced by quilters.  I try to decide what to quilt on my quilts based on the general geometry, the feel, and sometimes believe it or not, the clue is on the fabric prints.  Check out my other Thread Talk threads — I have written quite extensively on what to quilt on quilts.

I recently taught a class illustrating quilting can be more than stitching in the ditches and cross-hatching on 9-patch blocks.

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Thanks for stopping by.  I hope the thoughts I have shared have empowered you rather than scaring you off concerning machine quilting.  It is possible!!!  Meanwhile, you still have time to click here and enter the giveaway for a free copy of my online Learn to Machine Quilt class.

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Click here for other past Q&A posts on machine quilting using a domestic machine.

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A couple of days ago, I received a sweet, sweet comment.  Thank you, Ann-Marie, for making my day.

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I am happy to announce another giveaway today — a free copy of my online Learn to Machine Quilt class, produced by Annie’s.

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Click here to read more about the class.  Shown in the following are the topics covered in the class.  This class is designed to help beginning machine quilters to get used to moving their quilt sandwiches.  It remains my firm belief that being able to maneuver one’s quilt sandwich is the key to enjoyable quilting on a domestic machine.

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Here are a few images of the class sample.

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And here you see pictures of the class samples made by quilters who took the class.  Here is one by Joyce:

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And here is one by Jean:

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To be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment below between now and August 6th, 2014 – and tell me one challenge you face when quilting your own quilts on your domestic machine.  Winner will be announced in August 7th, 2014.  Good luck! :)

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Thanks for stopping by.  I am still working on Iron Man II (or Insanity, as Mary calls it).  But I am almost done piecing the top, woo hoo!

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Hello Friends, last year I shared about working on a quilt I nicknamed my “Iron Man” quilt because of the short amount of time I had to complete the quilt and the large amount of HST’s I needed to make for the quilt.  And on top of that, I wanted my points to match!

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The “Iron Man” quilt eventually took on a much more “quilty” name — Color Burst.   You may click here to view more pictures of Color Burst / “Iron Man”.

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Well, I am back at Iron Man-ning it this year — don’t know how — but here I am.  I have no idea what I am naming this quilt.  Right now it’s Iron Man II, and those HSTs finish at 1.5″.  You know how I feel about piecing.  All I can say is I probably have another screw loose!

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I had a lovely time with the sweet ladies of Mount Vernon Quilt Guild yesterday. Last night, with all sincerity, Miss Baby asked me, “Mom, how was your class? Did you have to take anyone to the principal’s office?” She wasn’t even trying to be funny!

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I finally had a few moments to random-generate and pick the winners of my McCall’s Quick Quilts (August/September 2014) giveaway.  My Owl Be Your Friend quilt is featured in that issue.

The Winners are #16 (Maryellen) & #30 (Danielle Kenyon). Ladies, if you would send me your mailing address, I will get the magazines sent to you asap. Congrats to the winners, and thank you all for playing.

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That’s all for now – Dear Friends.  Thanks for stopping by.  Please stop back by tomorrow for another giveaway!  Till then.

I will be spending most of my day with quilters from Mount Vernon Quilt Guild working on this… ought to be fun.  I am looking forward to it.

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How about you?  What are you doing today?  I hope you have a most lovely day!  Till tomorrow.

… or rather Song of Patriotism pillow!  The following pictures show what I mean.  Dear Friend Joyce made my Song of Praise pillow in patriotic colors, and she plans to display her pillow through the summer!  Isn’t Joyce’s pillow a beauty?

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I always like to quilt my pillow top before constructing the pillowcase because I think the quilting adds a dimensional look to the pillow top.  I never remember to take pictures of my pillow tops before they are quilted… but Joyce didn’t forget. Her pictures illustrate the dimensionless/before quilting and dimensional/after quilting looks perfectly!

Before:

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After (and I see Joyce has quilted my Jester’s Hat motif – she knows how to make my day!):

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Joyce is a woman of details – she even made her pillow back beautiful!  I love her blue/red pillow back.

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Thank you, Joyce, for sharing your patriotic Song of Praise pillow with us! Click here to read about my original Song of Praise pillow.

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Thank you for stopping by!  Now, do you have a favorite patriotic song? Curious mind would love to know.

I think mine would have to be My Country, Tis of Thee.

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My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!
2
My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.
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Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.
4
Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King

Thanks for stopping by, Dear Friends!  Happy Monday and Happy Week to you.

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You can view more of Joyce’s work here, and here.

Hello Friends – I know you all are getting antsy Christmas is right around the corner, right?  According to the bookseller that comes to the church we attend, there were 150 shopping days till Christmas as of last Sunday!   Maybe that little fact would induce us to get ready for Christmas?   Well, I said all that to share with you today a fun little project I did for a Christmas in July blog hop at Benartex’s Sew in Love {with Fabric} blog!

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Look at these adorable fabrics I got to play with.  They are from Benartex’s Holiday Magic collection.  Click here to view the entire fabric range.

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But these fabrics aren’t it - they are just the supporting actors.  The star of the show are these patch prints from the same collection.  I have liked a lot of the patch prints that have come out.  But I realize sometimes they are hard to feature in a quilt design.  So, I have generally used patch prints as quilt backing fabrics.

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But not for my blog hop project today — I made the patch prints my feature fabrics!! Here is a peek of my Christmas blog hop project, in hen-and-chicks style, sort of.

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Head on over to Sew in Love {with Fabric} for further details!  Once there, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for Holiday Magic fabrics.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a fanta-bulous weekend, Dear Friends!

p.s.  Please don’t tell me you have started shopping/making gifts for Christmas this year…. okay, you may tell me anyway!!  :)

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Click the following links for my past blog hop participations at Sew in Love {with Fabric}:

Flower Favorites

Going Places

Christmas in July 2013

April Hop

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Happy Thursday, my Friends!  I hope you are doing well.  As promised, I am sharing another first time feature with you — this time it’s my Hole in The Wall quilt in Generation Q‘s May/June 2014 issue.

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You do see why I named this quilt A Hole in The Wall, don’t you?  [Hey, for once, the editor kept the name I had suggested for my quilt!  Maybe there's hope for my quilt-naming skill after all.]

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I wish you could see this quilt in person to get a hold of the fabrics used in this quilt.  The quilt uses fabrics from rather unlikely combinations – kids themed fabrics mixed with florals, for example – to give an “unexpected” element to the final design. The fabrics I used are all from Benartex: Gramercy, Solids, 10000 BC, English Rosey, Palm Springs, and Florabunda.  You will find A Hole In The Wall very user-friendly for any fabrics you might have in your stash.

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What I really like about the quilt is the quilting on this one!  Quilting is free-hand on my domestic sewing machine using Aurifil Mako 50 thread over Hobbs Tuscany Silk batting.

This is the very quilt that I spent a day ripping out stitches after the quilt was about 1/3 quilted.  The original quilting scheme quit speaking to me, and it was a battle within me to decide whether to keep going or hunker down and get the seam ripper ready to work.  The seam ripper won!  And I have to say I am very happy with how the quilting turned out.

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I hope you have enjoyed Hole In The Wall.  Thank you for stopping by, and thank you for being such sweet friends!

Till tomorrow.

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Click here to view the exhaustive list of my featured designs and projects.

My 2014 lineup to date —

Editorial features:

Annie’s Row Quilt Book (March 2014): Stardom

Annie’s Dazzling Diamond Quilts Book (May 2014): Solar Star

Australian Quilters Companion (Issue 68): Stars Aligned

Fons & Porter’s Easy Quilts (Summer 2014): Teething Rings

Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting (January/February 2014): Hurry Home

Generation Q (May/June 2014): Hole in the Wall

McCall’s Quick Quilts (August/September 2014): Owl Be Your Friend

McCall’s Quilting (January/February 2014): Spiral Squared

McCall’s Quilting (July/August 2014): Bird Watching

Popular Patchwork, UK (April 2014): Mending Fences

Quilt Trends (Winter 2014): Enchanted Forest

Quilt Trends (Winter 2014): Urban Stars

Quilter’s World (Spring 2014): Urban Oasis

Quilter’s World (Summer 2014): Starry Repetitions

The Quilter (December 2013/January 2014): Farm Crossing

The Quilter (December 2013/January 2014): Boxing Day

The Quilter (April/May 2014): All Squared Up

The Quilter (April/May 2014): Tulip Trail

The Quilter (June/July 2014): Garden View

The Quilter (August/September 2014): Song of Praise

Free to use designs / PDF download:

January: Midori’s Place using Gramercy by Benartex

January: View on Lexington using Gramercy by Benartex

January: Everything’s Coming Up Rosey using English Rosey by Benartex

February: Verde (Quilt) by Quilting Treasures

February: Verde (Banner/Runner) by Quilting Treasures

March: Hot Topic by Quilting Treasures

March: Poseidon’s Adventure using Neptune’s Dream by Benartex

March: My Cozy Sweater using Palm Springs by Benartex

March: Wild Kingdom using Sew Rousseau by Benartex

April: Fun with Frosty (Quilt & Runner) by Quilting Treasures

April: The First Thanksgiving (Quilt & Runner & Placemat) by Quilting Treasures

May: Party Poppers using Paintbox/Shadows by Benartex

May: Sprinkled Sweets using Paintbox/Shadows by Benartex

May: Dino Craze using 10,000 B.C. by Benartex

June: Monster Mash by Quilting Treasures

June: Santa’s Sleigh using Starry Night by RJR Fabrics

June: Learning is Fun by Quilting Treasures

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