Thursday, September 14, 2017

Introducing Tall Grass!!

Oh, I am SO jazzed to finally show you my newest fabric collection designed just for Marcus Fabrics!  

It's called Tall Grass.

Tall Grass is a lovely collection of various prints in shades of greens.  You know how bad I am at taking pictures.  I'm showing you two photos of the same fabrics ~ one shot with the flash, and one without, to demonstrate the difference in how it changes the coloring.  (I'm trying to blame my poor photography on the lighting.)  Hopefully, you'll be able to get a good idea of the pretty shades of greens.  
I am so, so happy with all of the prints in this collection.  I worked in a few other colors with the green backgrounds for variety...and, well....for the fun of it!
Once in a blue moon I needle-turn applique, and thought of all of the applique-ers out there who use greens in so many of their quilts, as vines and leaves, and so many different things.
I really do love all of the fabrics I design, but once in awhile, I do have a favorite, and this print is one of them....especially the light.  I can see it used in a bazillion quilts.  I'll have to order extra of that one!
Why the name Tall Grass?  Well.....growing up in Illinois, the Prairie State, we have tons of different tall grasses everywhere.  It grows wild, and we work it into our landscaping because it's perennial, and indigenous.  
It grows in every shade of green imaginable.  Some have flowers, most have tasseled tops in wheat tones and browns.  I thought it was the perfect inspiration for a collection of green fabrics for this "Prairie woman".
I've designed a quilt featuring all of the Tall Grass prints and will show it to you just as soon as I can.  

Tall Grass will be delivered to your local quilt shop in January, so next time you visit the shop, ask if they've ordered Tall Grass!  It's so important to support our local quilt shops!!  

Click here to see the entire Tall Grass collection on the Marcus Fabrics website.

I'm also delighted to be traveling to Texas to meet with two guilds there.  Hoping to post pictures to Instagram and Facebook.

In the meantime, make your sewing machine happy by spending some quality time with it.  By doing'll be happier, and at peace with your heart!  

Be well.....

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fat Quarter Shop's Healing Hearts for Texas

Healing Hearts is a very special quilt pattern offered by Kimberly Jolly and all the generous folks at  

Starting today, September 12th and through October 31st, you can purchase this very sweet quilt pattern for just $9 with all of the proceeds going to the JJ Watts Foundation.  Every cent of the money raised from the sale of the Healing Hearts pattern will directly help the untold families effected by Hurricane Harvey.  

Click here to purchase the Healing Hearts pattern, and you'll be able to download and print it right away, and begin helping folks who really need a hand up right now.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

In Honor of September 11th

I can hardly believe that 16 years have passed.  We all know exactly where we were, and what we were doing when the first plane hit.  

We honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that day, and all of the first responders who gave everything they had....tirelessly...for days and days.  We must pause to remember them all and keep them in our hearts.  We can draw strength from the fact that the entire world changed from that day on, and we overcame it all, continuing to be America Strong.  

In heartfelt remembrance......

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Packing Up and Headed to Texas!

We've been packing up for what seems like days for my upcoming trip to Texas.  
With well over one hundred quilts to choose from, it's hard to pick which ones will make the trip with me.  Decisions, decisions!
I love to travel and truly enjoy teaching at workshops, but I don't enjoy the packing before hand.  It's just not fun.  Same for packing for vacation.  You get that ominous feeling that you just can't forget something you really need!  Many lists help to keep things straight, but still....  

Besides packing for the Texas trip, I am juggling several other projects and new quilts in progress.  Plantation Stars is still with the quilter, two of the three new Tokens of the Past ~ Two Color Classics quilts are completed with the third in progress, and two more new quilts  are almost ready for another new pattern.  

I have three new fabrics lines in the pipeline with one nearly done, and expect to make a new quilt with it in time for fall market. 

And....there's also the ongoing big kahuna top-secret project as well.  Too many things I can't yet share with you!!  UGH!  So frustrating.  All that means that I haven't been blogging as regularly as I'd like to because I don't have much I can share.  Soon....all that will change.

If you're in the Austin or San Antonio area, please consider coming to a lecture and workshop. Here's the guild info:

Saturday, Sept 16th ~ 9 am    

Veriens Quilt Guild ~ Zion Lutheran Church, 424 W. Main St., Fredericksburg  

Monday, Sept 18th ~ 9:30 am

Hill Country Quilt Guild ~ Zion Lutheran Church, 624 Barnett, Kerrville

It sure would be wonderful to see you there!  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Thoughts & Prayers For Texans

Heartbreaking is the only word I have for what is happening to the good people of Texas, and now Louisana.  It goes without saying that our thoughts and prayers are with you.  

Thinking of all of my quilting friends effected by this terrible storm as I can't imagine what you're all going through.  So long as you and your families are safe and together, most things in your life can be replaced.  Quilts and fabrics can be washed, sewing machines replaced.  A nation of quilters stand with you.  If you can, please support the American Red Cross.  

America Strong!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Exploring Kansas City, MO

After my time teaching at Primitives of the Midwest, my hubby and I went onto Kansas City, MO for a day or two of fun.  We stayed in the Country Club Plaza district which was just chock full of restaurants and shopping right outside our door.
Saturday was the first day of a week long Jazz music celebration.  Musicians were playing all over the area and boy were they great!  We lingered here a few hours (with a cold beverage) to listen and take it all in.

I wanted to get in some antiquing time in if I could.  I had heard about the West Bottoms district which was a short 15 minute ride from the hotel. 

What a fun and unique place to go pickin'! 

This industrial neighborhood looked like it was abandoned and is now enjoying a new life with antique shops and re-purposed goods stores, along with some new kitschy merchandise.  This shop, Nook & Cranny, was my favorite, full of three warehouse floors of antiques!  Heaven!
I'm not sure if any businesses occupy the top floors of other buildings, but the street level spaces are all occupied.  They played oldies music over loud speakers throughout the streets, which was kinda fun, too.
You can find anything from architectural pieces to fine furniture, glass ware to textiles and everything in between.  My only complaint was the total lack of air conditioning in every industrial shop, but that's just part of the industrial experience, I guess.

Honestly, we had a terrific time every day.  Great food (especially the BBQ at Jack Stack where we ate twice!), good weather, lots of things to do and places to shop, all within a short distance. I'm already looking forward to returning there. 

I hope this gives you just a peek at some fun things to do in KC, MO ~ and don't forget feed your quilting soul at Quilter's Station, too.
I'm home for a few weeks with a To-Do list a mile long.  I will soon pack and get ready for a trip to Texas!  I'll be visiting two quilt guilds there for lectures and workshops.  I'd love to meet you if you're in the area.  Here's some info on my two stops:

Saturday, Sept 16th ~ 7 pm    

Veriens Quilt Guild ~ Zion Lutheran Church, 424 W. Main St., Fredericksburg  

Monday, Sept 18th ~ 9:30 am

Hill Country Quilt Guild ~ Zion Lutheran Church, 624 Barnett, Kerrville

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back From Primitives of the Midwest

Boy ~ having some time away from home to submerge myself in all things quilting, along with dozens of other kindred spirits sure does a girl a world of good!  

Primitives of the Midwest was exactly the super fun and inspiring event I knew it would be! 

Quilter's Station shop owner, Rita Briner, and all the shop girls did a fantastic job of hosting the event.  We stayed, and had our classes all in one hotel, which made it very convenient. 
Quilter's from as far away as California, Florida, New Jersey, and Canada (and all points in between) attended.  
Some brought their machines on the airplane with them, and some borrowed machines.  As you can see, nothing stopped them from coming!
Both quilts are Starry, Starry Nines from Tokens of the Past: Nine Patch Reverie
Photo courtesy of Ron Hoeltge
I had just the best time with my fellow quilters as we talked shop, favorite quilting tools, favorite quilt shops, and shared hints and tips with each other.  Always the best day when I get to spend time with other quilters!

Quilter's Station Quilt Shop was a mere 5 minute drive from the hotel.  Dare I say, most of us went there every day!  
Just in case we missed something we HAD TO HAVE!
Or....if someone bought something, then showed it off, and you discovered you just needed that, too!
As you can see ~ there's loads and loads of inspiration everywhere.  Everything you'd need for quilting and wool loving are in this shop!
Trust me...these few photos don't begin to do the shop justice.  It's amazing!

I was completely stunned to see two and a half aisles of my fabric in the shop!  It kinda choked me up, to tell the truth, to see it all so beautifully displayed.  

So...if you're looking for Heartspun Quilts know exactly where to go and whom to call!!! Quilter's Station. (We have to continue to support our quilt shops!!)  Be sure to add Quilter's Station to your Bucket List as a shop not to miss!  I promise, you won't be disappointed!!

Hubby and I went to Kansas City for the weekend.  We discovered several really fun places and I'll share those with you in my next post.  

In the meantime....spend some time with needle and thread...and Be Well!  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Quilting Essentials ~ It All Begins With The Fabric

Every quilt project begins with the fabric.  After choosing (or being possessed to make) a quilt design, the next step is gathering just the perfect fabrics for that quilt.  

I can not over state the importance of using quilt shop quality fabrics for your quilt.  Quilt shop quality fabric simply means the base fabric itself, called greige goods (pronounced gray), are 100% high quality cotton threads in high thread count.  You can tell the difference when you hold it up to the light (as compared with chain store fabric), and in the "hand" of the fabric, which means the soft, smooth feel it gives when running your hand across it.  AKA petting said fabric.  Teehee!  

Additionally, the dye used, and the printing manufacturing process produce fabric that are not likely to bleed, fade, and will last much longer to wear & tear and washing than lesser quality fabric.  Quilt shop quality milled fabric are long lasting, quality goods produced specifically for quilting, and sold only to quilt shops for that reason.  If you're going to invest your most precious resource into your quilts....your time....why short change yourself with lower quality fabrics?  (in my humble opinion.)

To Wash Or Not To Wash?

I believe this to be a personal preference.  I thinking it's fine and dandy if you want to wash your fabric before cutting into it.  Personally, I don't wash mine.   The reason is that when fabric is milled, sizing is added to it for body, to keep it smooth, and to keep it from wrinkling. Once I have it at home, I add a lot more sizing or starch (mostly sizing) to make it even more stiff.  

I am a big believer in sizing fabric!!  The proof is in the results you get and I feel strongly that it's worth the time.  There's a whole lot of designers and quilters who have come to know the benefits of sizing/starching fabric....a lot more than you might think.  More on this in a moment.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about washing a quilt that was made with unwashed, and sized fabrics.  (Click here to read the original post.)   

Red fabric being one of the most notorious for bleeding, I did an experiment with this little quilt made from my A Prairie Gathering collection.  I sprayed the fabrics with sizing, soaking them thoroughly, then ironed them dry before cutting them for the quilt.  If a fabric is going to bleed, it will surely bleed with sizing the same as with plain water.  I tossed this quilt into the machine using the same detergent I use to wash our clothes.  I wanted to see if any of the reds would bleed into the lights, or onto the backing.  I'm happy to report that not one fabric bled. You can see photos of the experiment results in the original post.

With today's colorfast dyes, and milling process, fabrics generally do not bleed or run like they did years ago.  That does not mean it never happens! If you have any doubt, it's always a good idea to test a patch so you'll know for sure.

Why add sizing or starch?

One word.....Control!

Washed and unwashed fabrics are soft and pliable.  They fold and bend easily which is not a good thing for piecing.  Imagine piecing a block with tissue paper, then imaging piecing with card stock.  The stiffer the fabric, the more it behaves, and the more control you have to make it do what you want it to do, stay where you want it to stay, which means controlling it as it moves through the needle on your machine.  

You must, must remember....starching or sizing must happen when your fabric is still yardage or scrap - BEFORE  you cut it up for your quilt!!!!  

If you didn't add sizing to your yardage before cutting, 
do not spray your cut pieces, or blocks with starch as this will shrink or warp your fabric.  I also don't recommend spraying any pre-cut, charm pack, or 10 x 10 pack, to guard against shrinkage. 

You will notice a difference with the control you have in cutting your fabric, big time with piecing with your fabric, and you'll get a beautiful press with stiff fabric.  If you don't believe me, just try it with one block!

I have an entire chapter all about fabric preparation, sizing, and even a way to starch yardage in your washing machine in my Heartspun Quilts Hint & Tips book.  Click here for more info on the Hints Book.

All of the above fabric preparation is the way I do things and is just my opinion.  I know it has helped many people gain great results in their piecing experience, but certainly isn't the only way to do things.    If what you're doing yields good results for you....if it isn't broken...don't fix it!  

Wednesday, I am headed to Primitives of the Midwest in Missouri.  I haven't traveled for work in a year, so I'm very excited to get back to teaching, meeting wonderful quilters, and making more memories.  Check Instagram and Facebook for pictures while I'm on the road.

Be well....and keep your sewing machines humming!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Plantation Stars ~ Off To Be Quilted

Plantation Stars Quilt by Pam Buda 
I'm so, so jazzed that my Plantation Stars quilt top is complete and is ready to be shipped off the my quilter.  Yay!  Love, love, love how it turned out!  I hope you like it, too.
I adore secondary designs in a quilt, and I am so happy that two simple blocks can work together to make such a spectacular design.  Don't you love the circle of small stars surrounding the large ones?

All of our quilts begin here....choosing just the right fabrics.  (This photo shows the true color of the fabrics.)
And, as we piece the quilt, at each stage, it's so exciting to see it come together.  My friend and co-worker, Deb, pieced Plantation Stars for me and did a fantastic job, as I knew she would.  
Now, it's off to the quilter for the next phase.  I can hardly wait to see it completed!

I hope the Plantation Stars pattern will be available in October.  And, yes!  There will be a limited number of kits, too.

Also in full production is a new Tokens of the Past pattern called Two Color Classics.  Hint, hint as to what the three quilts will look like! 
With the help my dear friend, Karen S., I took my first leap into hand quilting over the weekend.  So far, as you would expect, I'm not that good at it, (no reflection on Karen's tutorial!!) but I'm loving it nonetheless.  There will never be a substitution for hand quilting, in my humble opinion, and while I won't be hand quilting a large quilt like Plantation Stars, some small quilts just need those hand quilted stitches.  I always try to learn a new quilting skill each year.  Last year was hand piecing (totally smitten) and this year, it's hand quilting.  

Be well....and keep your needles busy!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Plantation Stars Update

While I am working away on my secret project, my dear friend and co-worker, Deb, has been merrily working at piecing the blocks for my new design, Plantation Stars.  Here's a little sneak peek at the blocks.  
These are the fabrics I chose for the quilt.  A limited number of kits will be available and the pattern will be ready in October.  I hope to have a bunch of new quilt patterns for fall market....but....we'll see!  

Don't we all have a grand To-Do list?!  

Thought I'd remind you of my upcoming Civil War Quilting Cruise hosted by Deb Luttrell and Stitchin' Heaven quilt shop.  Designer friends Carol Hopkins of Carol Hopkins Designs and Julie Hendricksen of JJ Stitches Quilt Shop are joining me on our cruising adventure!  Two awesome CW ladies to be sure....not to mention great teachers.

Click here to see a short video about the cruise.

Click here for cruise details.

Hope you're finding time to sew everyday.  I've actually been a very active piecer, both during the day and in the evening lately.  

Needle in hand means happy me!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

While I Sew...

I'm still sewing away on my Top Secret project, which means I don't have much to share at the moment.  Kinda frustrating to tell the truth.  I think I will be able to show major progress on my new pattern, Plantation Stars next week which will be fun.  

But for now....I wanted to share something you might enjoy as much as I do.
I'm watching this series on Netflix while I sew and enjoy it immensely.  It takes place in New York (and all around the Colonies) in 1776, and is about a cabbage farmer who becomes a spy for General George Washington and the Continental Army.  The British, of course, are everywhere, even lodging in your home, so the rebels and spies must work in secret getting news about the British to the General.  

While the story has a whole lot to do with the revolution, we do get to enjoy scenes of ordinary life during that time.  In a recent episode, I was happy to see women quilting around a large frame, and another at the spinning wheel.  

The series has 3 seasons already done and ready to watch, which means it's likely a whole lot of you already enjoy it.  I just thought I'd put it out there in case some of you haven't heard of it before.  

My sewing machine is calling.  Be well.....

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A New Twist On Old Favorite

Several years ago, I was visiting with the staff of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine for an event.  Let me say, these are fun people to hang out with, and we always have a great time together.  For one of the lunches, they catered a variety of salads from a local restaurant.  (Let me tell you, Des Moines, IA has great restaurants!!)  Among the salad offerings was the salad below for which I honestly could not get enough!!  I made a note of what was in it, and once home, began to try to copy the recipe.  It's simple enough and I was successful on the second try.
I call it ......Summertime Caesar Salad

My family loves it!!  It's really a summery twist on a classic chicken Caesar salad as it has fresh strawberries, pasta and walnuts.  You may not think this is a great combo, but you'd be wrong!  If you like Caesar salad, you will LOVE THIS!

It's very easy to make and keeps in the fridge a couple of days.  Simple and refreshing.  

Click here for the Summertime Caesar Salad recipe.  

The recipe makes about 6 servings but you can easily make it larger or smaller depending on your wish.  

I hope you enjoy it!  I'm having some leftovers from last nights dinner tonight which means I can sew a little longer today.  My July projects are coming along nicely.  

Hope you are stitching a fun summertime project or two.

Be well....

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Quilting Essentials ~ The Accurate 1/4 Inch

For many of us, piecing with an accurate 1/4 seam allowance is a difficult task.  I'm hoping this post will help many of you in achieving this quilters' goal.  It's really not as difficult as it may seem when you break it down, so that's exactly what I'll try to do here.  There are many elements that can effect our 1/4 seam accuracy, but I'll stick with what I feel is the most basic step first.  I'll address other factors that mess with our perfect 1/4 in future Quilting Essentials posts.  (Not sure what Quilting Essentials is?  Click here to find out!)

In my humble opinion......I sum up 1/4 inch accuracy in one word......


For me, the accuracy of your 1/4 inch seam is all based on alignment.  

It's all about where you align your fabric in conjunction to the needle.  It's as simple as that!  Let me explain.

The photo above shows my sewing machine.  I sew on a Bernina.  The same principal applies no matter what brand of machine you use.  I have my 1/4 inch foot on my machine and use The Angler template for my alignment.  (I don't believe The Angler is available anymore, however there are other similar types of templates on the market.)  

Here's the principal in a nutshell:

Think of the needle as center position.  Where you align your fabric, meaning what line or guide you follow as you push the fabric to the needle, must be exactly 1/4 inch to the right of the needle.  Does that make sense?
The pink arrow shows the needle in center position.  The blue arrow shows the right side of my 1/4 inch foot (which means the edge is 1/4 of an inch to the right of the needle), and the orange arrow shows my alignment line...which is where I line up my fabric to sew.  Notice that the right edge of my 1/4 inch foot and my alignment line are in perfect alignment with each other.

What do you use as an alignment guide when you piece?  Is it a template like mine?  A Post-It Note?  A piece of tape or other guide?  Do you move your needle right or left?  
You can see that the edge of the red square is perfectly aligned with the edge of the 1/4 inch foot.  This seam will presumably be an accurate 1/4 inch.  Presumably.  Read on....

An important element is helping my 1/4 inch success.  It's a large, flat surface surrounding my machine.  At home my machine sits in a table, but when I travel to a retreat, I have several options with portable tables.  In my (humble) opinion, it is very important to have as large a surface as possible surrounding your machine to keep your fabric/patchwork/quilt as flat as possible as it approaches the feed dogs and needle.  Why?  Control!
In the photo above, between the two black arrows, I have about 1 inch of  space to align my fabric and control its journey to the needle.  Not much at all.  (With the table and The Angler, I have about 8 inches.)  With a small piece of fabric it may not be too bad, but with blocks in a growing top, and borders, there is a lot of drag weighing you down, making it hard to control. With a table surface, it's much easier and you definitely have more control.

To sum up....the line or guide where you lay your fabric, and guide it to the needle, makes all the difference in what your seam allowance will measure.  The needle should stay in center position and your guide should be exactly 1/4 inch to the right of the needle.

Now...there's one more super important step.  Checking your 1/4 inch seam for accuracy by putting my alignment principal to the test.
Checking for accuracy is very simple.  Make a strip set.  Choose two high contrasting fabrics.  Cut (2) 2 x 6 inch strips of one (in this case a light print) and (1) 2 x 6 inch strip of a dark (blue strip above.)  Sew them together into a strip set using your alignment marking as a guide.  Press to the outside strips.
The center strip must measure 1 1/2 inches. Period.
By creating a strip set this way, you can lay a ruler on the center strip to check accuracy for the entire length of the strip set.  I never recommend checking your seam allowance on the wrong side of your fabric as often you can't tell.  With the high contrasting fabrics you can easily see what the center strip measures.  Pressing the two outer strips to the outside creates a ditch so the ruler fits in the seam snugly.  You can also monitor how accurately you sew at the beginning and end of a strip - a trouble spot for many quilters.

What if your center strip doesn't measure 1 1/2 inches?  

If your center strip is smaller than 1 1/2 inches, then where you align your fabric is too far to the right of your needle, making your seam smaller than it should be.  Move your alignment line to the left, and make another strip set to test for accuracy.

If your center strip is more than 1 1/2 inches, then where you align your fabric is too far to the left of your needle, making your seam larger than it should be.  Move your alignment line to the right, and make another strip set to test for accuracy.    

Once you achieve a perfect center strip of 1 1/2 inches......don't move your alignment line.....EVER!  Teehee....or try not to!  If for some reason you have to move your alignment line, just repeat the steps above to find that sweet spot that is the perfect 1/4 inch seam!  I make a strip set every time I get my machine back from having it cleaned.  Just to be sure.

Once you know exactly where to align your fabric for a consistent perfect 1/4 seam, you can make any block in any size and not worry.  Your entire piecing experience improves because you're happy with your work.  It's worth the effort to go through these steps.  

Keep in mind....these hints and tips are my opinion and what has really worked for me.  I don't claim to know everything, and certainly there is always more than one way to do the same task. 
I sincerely hope that this exercise will help you.  

If you have a request for a hints and tips subject you'd like me to write about in future Quilting Essentials posts, please leave me a comment to say what you're having trouble with in your piecing.  (I don't hand quilt, so I would not have any help with that subject.)  If I choose your subject for a future post, I'll send you a little gift so leave your email address along with your comment.  Or, you can email it to me

FYI - For some unknown reason...Blogger is not publishing my own comments.  Often, you leave me a comment and ask me questions or have requests.  I try to reply to your comment but it just doesn't publish (frustrating!!)  I have no way of responding to you if you are commenting anonymously.  I'm trying to figure this out as I want to respond to your comments.  Any suggestions for a fix?  

Be well....go forth and have happy stitches!