Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along: Part 1

NOTE:  If you are just now hearing about the Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along, and would like to find out more, click HERE.


Hello Friends, with your fabrics and supplies ready, get set, GO!  This is what I was able to accomplished for the Part 1 of Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along!


This block took me 2 hours to make.  But then, it might not take you as long because I am an extremely slow piecer!

A few things that helped me in making this block.  Please note that what I am in no way dogmatic about what I am sharing below.  Please feel free to use your tried and true tricks! :)

#1.  Starch — I am the starchy type when it comes to piecing.  I always stabilize my fabrics by press-starching them, especially when I know I will be cutting small pieces.  I actually don’t have a favorite brand.  So I am curious to know what brand of starch you use if you press-starch your fabrics.


#2.  In making the roof unit, I finger pressed my sew-and-flip piece first before trimming… and all that BEFORE I pressed my seam open with a hot iron.  Since I press-starch my fabric, I don’t use steam when I press.



When matching the roof units, I made sure the diagonal seams on both units are right on top of each other.  Then I place a pin diagonally matching the diagonal seams, before sewing the units together.


By doing that, I ended up with a nice looking eaves.


#3.  Since there’s not butting of seams, and due to the fact that the window unit being made with small pieces, I pressed open my seams for the window and door units.  That way I don’t lose any “fabric real estate” which happens when I press my seams to one side.


#4.  I was a little more careful than usual when sewing the 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ ground fabric square onto the green rectangles for the tree unit.  I pinned my square as shown so that it was kept nicely in place when I fed the pieces through the machine.


#5.  So, you are supposed to sew (2) 1 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ ground rectangles in step 9 on page 5 of the instructions.  The ground rectangles should be (2) 1″ x 8 1/2″.  The dimensions are correct in the cutting directions.


And after 2 hours or so, you should have a nicely flat block! :)  Your block should measure approximately 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ raw edge to raw edge.


For those who are sewing along, you will have till March 13 to finish your block, and I do hope you will send me a picture of your block!

It was SO good to sew something for me and doesn’t really have a deadline.  But it’s time for me to go back to work on work-related things. :)

Feel free to share tips and tricks and thoughts you have on the block on this post.   Have FUN!

Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine # 44 / Interlock: Preview

thread-talk1Hello Friends, I finished a quilt for shipment over the weekend.  This quilt is a little different than the ones I normally do because it is a quilt without borders.  The border-less quilts have gain popularity lately, and I have been requested to make several of them this year — stay tuned for announcement of official features!


Quilting border-less quilts presents different challenges in that the assuring thought of trimming off the borders to square up the quilt after quilting is NOT there.  So it is of paramount importance that your pieced quilt top is squared up and flat even before quilting.

Here are a few tips for quilting border-less quilt using a domestic machine:

1.  I found that using batiks that are of higher thread count instead of regular cotton helps with maintaining the square-ness of the quilt.  I have made border-less quilts with both types of fabrics.  With the regular cotton fabrics, I just make sure I starch my fabrics and block patches during the construction process.

2.  Use a lighter weight batting for easy maneuver — I use silk instead of cotton (I actually already use almost exclusively silk anyway).

3.  Before I quilt, I also trim my batting and backing even with the quilt top, and zig zag around the quilt corners with loose zig zigs.  That tends to keep the corners from getting wonky being pulled in the quilting process.

4.  Simple quilting scheme that doesn’t require you to pull and scrunch your quilt in all possible directions that will end up distorting the square-ness of your quilt.  Simple grid-quilting along the major straight lines of the quilt works really well.  Normally border-less quilts tend to look more contemporary, so it is okay to not quilt feathers. :)  As much as I adore feathers, I become Ms. Practical when it comes to quilting border-less quilts. [Now, it is not the end of the world if your quilt is distorted in the quilting process.  You can always wet your quilt and tweak and pull and shape the squareness of the quilt that way.  I just choose not to have to fight that battle.]

5.  I quilt with slightly longer stitches when quilting in the ditches when it comes to quilting border-less quilts.  I find that there is less puckering, thus the square-ness of the quilt is preserved.

I hope these tricks make quilty sense to you.  I am sorry I don’t have any pictures to show you because none of my border-less quilts are officially published yet!

So, what is your feeling toward quilts without borders?

Before you leave, do also tell me how your Christmas is shaping up.  Guess what I will be doing burning the midnight oil tonight…


Miss Baby was funny earlier this week when she discovered there is something in her stocking.  Last year, I had to dump out the contents of her stocking for her.  This year, all she is concerned about is that “there is some-bing in my stocking!”  :)

Thanks for stopping by.  I shall catch up with you later.



Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #24

Some of you have written and asked about the needles I used when I quilt.  Following are a few points I would like to share with you about needles:

1.  I  have always used Schmetz needles.

2.  For general quilting purposes, the regular quilting needles do the job beautifully.  These are color-coded green.  I normally use these needles when I quilt with Aurifil threads.  The sizes I use are 75/11 and 90/14.  I can’t really tell you when to use which size — it just depends.  On Schmetz’ website, this is said about the needles: “Made especially for piecing and machine quilting. The special tapered design allows easier fabric penetration and helps eliminate skipped stitches.”

My latest completed quilt “Kittens in the Flowers” was quilted using Schmetz Quilting Needles 90/14.

3.  When I quilt with silk threads, my needles of choice are the Microtex (sharp) needles (color coded purple).  Schmetz’ official statement on these needles is “Very thin acute point creates beautiful topstitching and perfectly straight stitches for quilt piecing when precision is paramount.”  Diane Gaudynski recommends these.  I am certainly not going to doubt her advice!  I definitely also use these needles to piece, and quilt with Aurifil as well.  Normally sizes 70 or 75 work flawlessly for silk threads, and something slightly larger (never bigger than 90) would definitely work for Aurifil threads.

The following was quilted using Schmetz Microtex 70/10 needles:

4.  I have read recommendation of changing out your needles every three or four hours when you are quilting.   I think that’s good advice.  I adhere to that practice when I am working on an important piece.  For regular work, I probably change mine out every six or seven hours depending on the length of the project.  Sometimes it’s one needle per project.

An interesting snippet on the construction of the Royal wedding gown worn by the Duchess of Cambridge: “The RSN worked closely with the Alexander McQueen atelier team, the hand-stitchers washing their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and changing the needles every three hours to keep them sharp.”  The point is – changing out your needles frequently ensures quality.

5.  Watch the quality of your stitches, if you are stitching along and think that your stitches are not looking quite straight like you expect them to be.  More than likely that’s not a figment of our imagination, and not an optical illusion either…. chances are you need to change out your needle.

6.  Don’t be afraid to experiment what works best for you.

7.  I heard this nifty tip not too long after I started to learn sewing.  A lady (I can’t remember whom)  at one of the Rogers Sewing Center‘s Bernina Club meetings mentioned that a safe way to dispose of old needles is to place them in old medicine bottles.  That way, the little ones can’t get the lids off, and the trash guy won’t get pricked.  I still have with me that original medicine bottle I started out with — it’s amazing the number of needles a medicine bottle can hold.  Mine is starting to look pretty full though.

I would love to hear any advice on needles you might have!

Quilting Around the Block in Quilter’s World (February 2011)

Happy New Year, my friends! Curious mind wants to know if you did anything fun and interesting last weekend. We got to spend some time with family, and being the nerd that I am, I also worked on and completed a book proposal.

Have you picked up your February 2011 copy of Quilter’s World?

Well, you see… my Quilting Around the Block article is in it! This article is Part 1 of a 2-part series on quilting I had the honor to write for Quilter’s World.

It is a four-page spread covering the different aspects of machine quilting a pieced quilt. I sought to answer the questions I ask myself when it comes to quilting a quilt – do I want to 1) emphasize the designs of the pieced blocks that make up the quilt, 2) create the effect of an overall texture, or 3) create an attractive texture that also highlights the piecing?

I would love to hear your feedback on the article if you get a chance to skim over the article. For my overseas readers who might have difficulty locating the magazine in print form, Quilter’s World does have an e-version. Click here to find out more:

This was a most fun project because it is my first technique-based article. It was a little different from my regular design-based projects. I was challenged to get out of my comfort zone and think a little differently on how to present a technique in-print. I learned a lot!

Here is a shot of the back:

Thanks for stopping by. I wish you much fun and creativity in whatever you do this year! Blessings.

Applique that pop!

I have been asked periodically if I do anything to pad my applique appear poofy…

The answer is no. My little nifty secret is that I use either wool/silk batt for my batting. I generally quilt densely around the applique pieces, and just do outline quilting very close to the applique pieces. The loft of the batt itself makes my applique pieces POP!

That’s all for now. Ah, another new week is upon us. Happy Monday everyone! Have a lovely week ahead.