Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year! The Year in Review

Happy New Year! I've been an absentee blogger the past few months - maybe my New Year's resolution should be "I will be a better blogger in 2017". LOL!

When I look back on this past year, I'm amazed at all of the things that have happened, or changed, all in one year. Some of those happenings have been personally challenging, but I'll skip those, and just stick to quilty happenings!

First, in 2016, I published my book, Betsy's Scrapbag, the second in the Scrapbag Girl® series in March of 2016. Betsy's Scrapbag is near and dear to my heart, and if you've read the introduction to the book, you'll know why! 2016 marks the 240th anniversary of the year of this country's independence, and I'm so happy that I was able to contribute to the celebration of that very important year, in cloth and thread.

And, to go along with the publication, my registered trademark, Scrapbag Girl® was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Yippee!

A collage of projects from Betsy's Scrapbag by Martha Walker
Next in 2016, my fabric line for Henry Glass Fabrics,  
A Prairie Journal, was delivered to quilt shops in June. When I returned from my big cross country trip in July, I was finally able to start making a bunch of quilts with the beautiful fabric. Some of those projects I've yet to show, and I'll be talking more about those after the first of year.

I have just recently added a free pattern for one of the projects, Prairie Flowers Table Runner, to the website to download. And, I have kits for the table runner, just listed as well:

Prairie Flowers Table Runner

Next up in 2016 came another big happening - --Wagons West Quilt Shop & Studio in Wickenburg, Arizona. I had been wanting to move most of my business out of the house and into a small space where I could teach classes, and house a small shop to carry some of my favorite materials for creating beautiful, quality works of art, in cloth and thread. The opportunity arose, when we stumbled upon a building that had formerly housed another quilt shop, M's Quilting Inspirations, in Wickenburg, Arizona.

If you've never been to (or heard of) Wickenburg, it's just a short drive northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. Here's a link to the Google map:

My husband and I were busy most of the summer getting the building ready to open the shop by November. We're open Fridays and Saturdays, and if you're in the area, please stop by!

Yes, we're small, but we have a very good selection of the hard to find Aurifil Lana wool thread, which I love for wool applique, and I just received a big shipment of beautiful Valdani hand dyed 3 strand floss and Perle cottons. Love! We also have the entire line of Mettler 60/2 cotton thread, which I use for both hand and machine applique, and many times machine quilting. We have wool fabric on the bolt, hand dyed wool fat quarters, and of course, quilt shop only cotton fabric!

I just added the classes that I'll be teaching in January and February of 2017 to my website, and you can register and pay for the classes online. Classes will be small, so please register early if you want to take a class! Click Here for classes.

Check back again to see if I made that New Year's resolution haha!

Until next time,

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Little "Prairie Journal" Progress

I'm continuing to cut and sew fabric from my Henry Glass fabric line, A Prairie Journal, and I thought I would post a few pictures of my progress so far.

First, I put a simple border on the tumbler quilt I started with my strike-offs a few months ago. I didn't have enough sample fabric at the time, so I just needed the yardage to cut a few borders, and sew them on.

A Prairie Journal Tumbler Quilt
What a fun little quilt this was to make!

Next, I machine appliqued a table runner using the strippy vine print from the line.

Prairie Flowers Table Runner
Once the appliques were prepared, it was a breeze to place the shapes and bias vine onto the pre-printed vine.

And lastly, while I was in the machine appliqueing mode, I appliqued four borders to surround the panel from the Prairie Journal line:

That's all for now! Back to sewing!

Until next time,

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Prairie Journal fabric arrival!

This summer I did something I've never done before - drive across the country - and by myself, no less! I had a very exciting destination. I was going to see my new (and first) grandson who was born in June! He was just about to turn 3 weeks old when I finally arrived. Of course, I could have flown to Virginia, but I wanted to see my sister in Oklahoma and my mother in the Kansas City area, so I thought driving would be in some ways easier. It was a great trip (except for the torrential rain on 3 of my driving days).

I left in June, and a month later was back home in July. While I was away, my Henry Glass Fabric collection, A Prairie Journal fabric arrived, so it was here when I got back. It's just beautiful to see on the bolts!

A Prairie Journal
Last week, I was finally unpacked, and ready to cut into the fabric and make my first quilt from the collection. I chose to make the panel quilt first, which is a free project to download you can find on both the Henry Glass Fabrics website and my website. This quilt is made using the panel from the collection, cutting out the large center portion, and the four small floral blocks for the corner sections. It's surrounded by plain borders and broken dishes blocks made from the red and blue coordinates. I'm just in love with the dark teal blue fabric!

Here are the pieces ready to put together:

And the top finished!

A Prairie Journal quilt

I have more quilts to make with the collection, so I'll post more pictures as I get them done.

Back to my trip - while I was in Kansas City, I did a trunk show at Quilter's Station in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Here are a few pictures that I borrowed from the many that their wonderful photographer took, and posted on the Quilter's Station Facebook page.

"Basket Quartet" quilt made from my Studio e Fabric line Elementary
"1776" from Betsy's Scrapbag
"Autumn Stars" from Betsy's Scrapbag
"Bricks and Boughs" table runner from my book Be Merry 

And a few pictures from my drive cross country:

One of my overnight stays both ways was Paducah, Kentucky.
Downtown Clinton, Tennessee
I had heard that Clinton, Tennessee had some good antique shops, so I made a short side trip to do some shopping. I came home with some fantastic goodies from Corner Antiques.

And visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Oklahoma always takes me through the beautiful Cimarron country of Oklahoma:

Gloss (Glass) Mountains

We live in a beautiful country, and I loved seeing familiar places again, and places I've never been to before. It was a great trip, and I miss my new grandson already! But East or West, home is best, and I'm happy to be home and making quilts again!

Until next time,


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Quilter's Station Trunk Show

Flag Day was just a few days ago, and in addition to hanging the stars and stripes on our flagpole outside, I have a year round Flag Day reminder hanging inside - my Flag Day wool applique hanging.

Flag Day is one of the wool applique projects found in my new book Betsy's Scrapbag. I used Aurifil Lana wool threads for the simple whipstitched applique and the embroidered tassels strings. I decided to bind this hanging as I would a quilt, with single fold cotton binding.

If you will happen to be in the Kansas City area on Saturday, June 25th, I will be doing a trunk show at Quilter's Station quilt shop in Lee's Summit, Missouri. I'll be showing all of the projects from Betsy's Scrapbag, as well as all of the projects from Annie's Scrapbag, and a selection of projects from my two Christmas themed books, Vintage Christmas and Be Merry: Quilts and Projects for Your Holiday Home.

Here are a few of the details:

You can also go to their website to find a map and other details on the Shop News page. I hope to see you there! 

After my Kansas City trip I'll be heading to Virginia to see my first grandson, who was born just yesterday! It will be a great trip, and hopefully I will have pictures to share!

Until next time,


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Basting my Quilt

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen my post about marking my latest finished quilt top for hand quilting. A question was asked on Facebook about the stencil I used, so I will answer it here as well -- the stencil I'm using is from The Stencil Company, and it's a stencil for the Baptist Fan pattern. one of my favorite all over quilting patterns for pieced quilts.

So now my quilt is fully marked, and I thought I would share how I baste my quilts. The way I baste my quilts has gone through a few changes over the years. When I first began making quilts, I basted all of my quilts on the floor (luckily that was a younger me). But after I bought and read Harriet Hargrave's Heirloom Machine Quilting, I used the method she illustrates in the book on how to baste on a table using large binder clips. The table she recommended was one of those long catering type tables, roughly 24" x 8 ft., which I immediately went out and bought. I basted on that table for quite a few years, until I purchased a fold-able cutting table, and came up with another idea:

I bought another identical table, and created a wonderful basting surface, and sometime-design surface by putting the two tables together, and clipping them together where they meet with one large binder clip on each side. The binder clips hold the two tables together very securely, and the two tables together create a 59 1/4" x 71 1/2" surface. The height is just right, and I can lean across and just reach the middle when I'm basting (a taller person would have an easier reach). One of the advantages of using these tables, in general, is that when the fold up, they take very little space, and they are on casters, so they are easy to move around.

I lay the backing right side down, centering the backing on the table. Then I use the large binder clips to clip the sides, stretching the backing as I go. I start in the middle of each side, and then work my way out from the middle of each side until I reach each of the corners.

The backing is stretched and clipped to the table on all sides with large binder clips

If my quilt is shorter than the table edges (smaller wall quilts), I use extra wide masking tape to tape the backing to the table.

After the backing is stretched and clipped, I lay the batting over the backing and gently smooth it flat. I'm using The Warm Company Warm Bond 80/20 bonded quilt batting that I won last summer from the Primitive and Folk Art Exhibit. I LOVE this batting! It has the thin loft that I like for my quilts, and it's soft and glue-free.

Last, comes the quilt top. I use my rulers to make sure every block is square and every border is straight. For hand quilting, I thread baste, and for machine quilting, I pin baste.

This was a fun quilt to make, and I enjoyed using prints from my first fabric line with Studio e Fabrics, Elementary, and mixing them in with a variety of prints from my stash. And I'm looking forward to spending more time with it as I hand quilt it. Time to start threading needles and get this quilt basted! 

Until next time,


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Nancy's Quilt Camp

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend Nancy's Quilt Camp in Prescott, Arizona. There was a last minute cancellation, and I just happened to be at my dentist's office where Denise, a talented quiltmaker, and frequent quilt camper, works, and she invited me to the camp, which was just a week away. I was tired and a bit burnt out after having been immersed in completing my book, Betsy's Scrapbag. I thought maybe a quilt camp away from it all was just what I needed to get back into the swing of things, and motivate me to return to sewing with enthusiasm. So I signed up!

I had to hurry up and plan something to work on. For me, when I go to quilt camp, I like to have projects to work on that are more production oriented. I don't want to have to make design decisions away from home. So, I planned a few simple blocks to piece, and madly started cutting away for 2 days before the camp weekend.

When I arrived at quilt camp on Thursday afternoon, I was warmly greeted by Denise and Nancy, the camp organizer. I can't say enough good things about Nancy. She definitely puts her heart and soul into making the camp a fun and welcoming experience for all. She planned lots of fun raffles, and she went out on Saturday afternoon and generously bought enough foam core board and batting to make everyone a portable design wall. What a fantastic idea! And the amazing thing about Nancy - she was doing all of this, and with a smile on her face, while going through chemotherapy after having breast cancer. What an inspiration!

Portable Design Wall

I met so many nice ladies, and as always at quilt camp, I picked up some great ideas. My tablemate, Natalie, had some wonderful lights added to her sewing machine, and I just had to order the lights when I returned home.  Here are my new lights added to my machine, and what a difference they make!

You're supposed to cut off any excess length, but I looped mine around (you can see that on the left), because I wanted to use ALL of the lights, haha! Here is the box they came in, if you want to buy these lights for your machine:

Inspired LED Sewing Machine Light Kit

Back to camp - It was just what I needed to kick start my quilting. I had a great time piecing my blocks, and I came home and haven't stopped having fun in my studio. My basket "bottoms" were completed at camp, and all I had to do when I came home was sew on the handles:

Thank you, Nancy and Denise, for a great time! 

Until next time,


Monday, March 21, 2016

Betsy's Scrapbag Giveaway Winner!

Betsy's Scrapbag

Congratulations to Tay Satterfield, the winner of the
Betsy's Scrapbag giveaway!

Thank you to all who entered, and left your comments either here or on my Facebook page, and thank you for your patience with the comment section not working on the Rafflecopter widget. I will be having another giveaway one of these days to see if we can get that section to work next time!

Until next time,


Monday, March 14, 2016

Betsy's Scrapbag

Today is the first official release day of my new book, Betsy's Scrapbag! It's now on our website, and we have a lot of work to do to get it out and about to your favorite quilt shops.

The first of my Scrapbag Girl TM series began with Annie's Scrapbag, a pattern book of quilts and projects inspired by my fictional seamstress, Annie, a girl living in the early homesteading days of the American frontier.

Annie's Scrapbag
Book 2, Betsy's Scrapbag, follows with quilts and projects inspired by the American Revolution, and Betsy's story of her family's role in the fight for American independence.  And just as in Annie's Scrapbag, Betsy's Scrapbag includes FULL size applique placement diagrams for all of the projects, including the wool applique projects. No drafting on your part needed - whew!

Betsy's Scrapbag

Just like in Annie's Scrapbag, Betsy's Scrapbag includes patterns for quilts, wool applique, and this time a punch needle project, Lady Liberty, one of my favorites! Lady Liberty is made primarily with Valdani 3-ply floss, with the addition of DMC embroidery floss. I also have instructions for my easy method for finishing punchneedle, that "stiffens" it for hanging or applying to a platform, such as a box, or basket, but it's archival, meaning no glues are used.

Lady Liberty

Autumn Stars is one of the five quilts in the book, and is the largest quilt, - a queen size 89" x 89". 

Autumn Stars

There are 10 projects in all, with four wool applique projects, one of which is the Liberty pillow, appliqued using my favorite Aurifil Lana wool threads, which you can also find on our website:

Liberty pillow

To celebrate it's release, I'm having a giveaway for one copy of Betsy's Scrapbag! Just follow the directions in the Rafflecopter box below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and I hope you find Betsy's Scrapbag soon at a quilt shop near you! I will announce the winner of the giveaway on Monday, March 21st!

Until then,


Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Prairie Journal fabric collection, Part Two - The Strippy Vine Print

Applique for Beginners and Beyond

 One morning while I was working on my A Prairie Journal line for Henry Glass & Co., I was thinking about applique. I designed the main panel of the line for those quilters who want instant gratification - and maybe those who will never try their hand at applique. With the Prairie Journal panel they can make a small quilt that will give them that look. Here is my free quilt pattern that incorporates the panel pieces and easy piecing ... a cute little 40" x 40" quilt! (If you click on the image, it will take you straight to the free pattern download).

A Prairie Journal quilt
That morning I was thinking about the quilters who DO want to try applique, but are just afraid to get started. And in particular, I was thinking about vines... beautiful vines in the border of a quilt are so striking. But the marking of the vine border can be intimidating, and patterns don't always provide full scale diagrams. So, I'm sure some quilters look at the instructions and say "Maybe not".

I remember that fear well. In 1999 I designed a border to surround a pieced quilt center. I had never before appliqued a vine border at the time. It was a fairly involved design, and it took me awhile to overcome the fear and take the plunge. Below is a portion of my first appliqued border with vine.

Detail, "Summer Cottages" 2000

But I wanted there to be an easier way for the beginner. So I designed this print as a part of the A Prairie Journal line. I call it The Strippy Vine Print:

A Prairie Journal 9919-44
I designed the print as a kind of blank canvas for the applique beginner or student. The printed vine is your template to add shapes such as flowers, leaves, berries, birds, etc.

Here is the paper version of the Strippy Vine Print that I used at my Quilt Market Schoolhouse to illustrate the "Before" and "After" of adding appliques to the yardage:

The printed vine is also meant to be the placement guide for applying the bias vine after your shapes are added. There are several methods you can use to make bias vines. The printed vine on The Strippy Vine print is 3/8" wide. In a previous blog post I explain how to make bias vines using pressing bars. If you are using the pressing bar method, cut your bias strips 1 1/4" wide x the length you will need to cover your vine. To review my pressing bar tutorial CLICK HERE.

Another way to make bias vines is to use a bias tape maker.  Cut your strips 3/4" wide when using this method. Below I am using a Clover 3/8" bias tape maker to press under the edges of the strip:

If you don't have a bias tape maker handy, you can make one yourself. Cut a 3/8" slit in a piece of thin cardboard or chipboard. Finger press the edges of one end of your 3/4" wide fabric strip to get started, so that the raw edges meet in the center.Insert through the slit and begin pulling the strip through the slit, pressing the edges as you go:

Add your appliques and stems first to the vine, using any applique method you like:

Then place your vine over the printed vine to cover your stems:

I have designed four free to use patterns using The Strippy Vine Print that you can find on the Henry Glass & Co. website. Click on the picture below to take you to the page.
The Strippy Vine Print can also be used for a horizontal strip quilt. Here is another of the patterns I designed for use with the print that is a free download on the Henry Glass website. 

Folk Art Strippy
You can even cut apart the borders from The Strippy Vine Print to add a touch of applique to any project. There are thirteen coordinates in the A Prairie Journal line and here are a few of the coordinates that look particularly good with The Strippy Vine Print:

I can't wait to get the full yardage in June and begin playing with The Strippy Vine Print!

Until next time!