Thursday, December 7, 2017

Making Circles and Berries

I'm working on a new quilt design, and today I began the "making circles" phase of the appliqué preparation for the quilt.

I'm making two different sizes of cream circles, some which will be berries, others circles. The blue will be an eye for a bird. Using a stencil makes quick work of the marking. The running stitch around each circle takes some time, but I don't mind. I can turn on a good movie, and relax. Tonight I have in mind watching more episodes of Season 4 of Turn, which was just added to Netflix. I was so excited to hear George Washington speak the name Colonel Sheldon in the first episode - the very colonel my great great great great grandfather Paul McKinstry served under in the Revolutionary War (if you have my book, Betsy's Scrapbag, you've read all about it!)!

If you'd like to know more about how I make these circles, I have a short how-to video on the Henry Glass You Tube channel - the link is on the side bar, or click Here. In addition to the video, I included a handy dandy chart in my book, Be Merry, with all of the sizes for everything needed! 

The first time I used this method, was to make berries for my quilt, Summer Rentals:

Detail - Summer Rentals
For that quilt, I made 300. Since then, as I mention in the video, I've made dozens more (I haven't counted). Here are a few more on my quilt, "Sweet Bouquet", from Vintage Christmas:

Detail - Sweet Bouquet      
For my new quilt, I have 134 of one size to make, and dozen of another size. I'll be taking a trip soon, so I'll have a little airplane time, and hotel time to make a few. At least, that's the plan!

Until next time!



Monday, July 3, 2017

Prairie Pop Art

The inspiration for Prairie Pop Art, a new mini quilt pattern in the Little Quilts from the Prairie collection, is an 1855 quilt shown in one of the first quilt magazines I bought years ago. You can see that quilt in the magazine in my blog post here.

Prairie Pop Art, 24" x 29", is sewn using all of the small scale companion prints in my A Prairie Journal for Henry Glass & Co. fabric line.

Because of it's small size, this was a fun quilt for me to machine quilt. I loved quilting the orange peel design in the center of each square, and it's so easy to mark. It seems to be a design I go to again and again for quilting the center of squares of all sizes.  

When machine quilting, my preference is to use a thread to match the fabric in the quilt. So for the squares, I did need to change threads quite often (I always try to match the thread in the bobbin to my backing fabric). After the quilt was pin basted, I marked the orange peel pattern on the squares using a chalk wheel, which is fast and easy to remove. You could certainly mark the pattern before basting, with a chalk pencil or water erasable marking pen. 

I mark the orange peel pattern for quilting using a circle stencil, which can be found at hobby stores in the drafting department or office supply stores. The stencil below has circles from 1 1/4" to 3 1/2" in diameter. You'll also need the marking tool of your choice.

No math needed to determine which circle size is right for your quilt block. Just lay the stencil over your quilt block, move it around, and find the one the fits best! For this block, I will use the 2 3/4" circle stencil. Each circle has hash marks for each quarter section of the circle.

Align the hash marks on opposite sides of the circle with the bottom edge of the square to be quilted.

Use your marking tool (I'm using a chalk wheel, pictured), to mark a semi circle (the top half of the circle).

Rotate the stencil to align with another side of the square, and mark another semi circle.

Rotate the stencil two more times to mark the remaining two sides of the square.

And, voilà! You now have a marked orange peel pattern to quilt!

After quilting, I remove the chalk marks with a toothbrush I keep handy for just that purpose.

Prairie Pop Art is now on the website as a PDF pattern download. You can find the pattern HERE.

Until next time!


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fox and Geese

Back again to show you another quilt from Little Quilts from the Prairie collection. Fox and Geese is one of the larger quilts in the collection, although still only 35 3/4" x 44 1/2". Here at our house, wall space is limited (too many big windows), so I have to find creative ways to display all of the quilts I love to make. Fox and Geese just happens to be the perfect size to hang over this cabinet door!

Fox and Geese uses seven of the prints from A Prairie Journal, with the bird and berries print on the border.

As with the other quilt patterns in the collection, Fox and Geese is a PDF pattern to download. You can order the pattern HERE!

Until next time!


Monday, June 26, 2017

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Blueberry Crumb Cake is one of the six new patterns in the Little Quilts from the Prairie collection. More blue and beige - yay!

Almost ten years ago when it came time to decide upon a name for my design business, I thought about my great-great grandmother Mahala, and my great grandmother Laura, who both traveled west on covered wagons to settle in Kansas on the prairie. And so "Wagons West Designs" came to mind!

I am so fortunate to own my great-great grandmother Mahala's rolling pin, pictured above with Blueberry Crumb Cake, which I am sure made many a pie!

Blueberry Crumb Cake, just like the Blissfully Blue quilt, uses the blue and beige fabrics from A Prairie Journal.

Blueberry Crumb Cake is an e pattern you can purchase and download HERE.

Of course, I had to make the real thing - blueberry crumb cake, to utilize those berries in the photo!

Blueberries and walnuts are healthy for you, right? haha!

Until next time,

Thursday, June 22, 2017


You won't need any special rulers to make my new pattern, Tumbleweed, from the Little Quilts from the Prairie collection. I give you a quick cutting method for cutting the patches, and you might want to make an even bigger quilt after you start cutting!

Eight of the A Prairie Journal fabrics were used in Tumbleweed. Almost a red, white, and blue color scheme, but beige instead of white. It still works for patriotic decor!

You can find the Tumbleweed quilt pattern HERE.

Tumbleweed is so quick to make, I'm thinking of changing up the color scheme to orange and black for a quick addition to my Halloween decor.

Until next time!


Monday, June 19, 2017

My Soddy Home

If you have attended one of my trunk shows, you know how much history, women's history, and sometimes even family history, play a big part in the inspiration for my designs.

One night I was talking to my Grandmother, when she was in her mid nineties, and I started asking her questions about her parents, and what it was like growing up on their Kansas farm. It was then that she told me that after her "Ma" and "Pa" were first married, they lived in a "cave", or in other words, a dugout, in the last quarter of the 1800's. I was amazed. It wasn't until later, when I read Willa Cather's My Antonia, that I got a bit of an idea of what that may have been like. In the novel, Antonia and her family are immigrants, living in a Nebraska dugout during the homesteading years.

I haven't seen any photos of prairie dugouts, but there are many photos of the next best thing, the sod house.

My Soddy Home, one of six mini or small quilts in the Little Quilts from the Prairie collection, has a low contrast color palette using seven of the prints from A Prairie Journal. I love the way the cheddar print glows in the sashing and border!

My Soddy Home is available as a PDF pattern you can purchase and download HERE


Do you have ancestors who lived in a sod house or dugout? I'd love to hear your stories!

Until next time,


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Little Quilts from the Prairie

Since last June when I received my shipment of my fabric line A Prairie Journal, I've been having so much fun making quilts using the line. I had the quilts all designed on the drawing board, and all I needed was the fabric!

I have a collection of six new patterns now on the website, the Little Quilts from the Prairie collection, and in the interest of time, they are offered as PDF patterns for quick and easy downloading.

One of the mini quilts in the collection is the 26" x 32" Blissfully Blue mini quilt. The baskets are pieced, and the tiny sawtooth border is foundation pieced for accuracy.

Blissfully Blue uses the blue and beige prints from A Prairie Journal, and I just love the way they look together!

I also have a limited number of kits available to make Blissfully Blue (which includes the printed pattern). Otherwise, a quick check searching online, and there are several online fabric shops that still have A Prairie Journal fabrics available.

Click here to buy the pattern!

Until next time,


Friday, May 19, 2017

Quilt Caretaker

When a quilter gets to the age when they can no longer take care of themselves, and has to relinquish their worldly possessions, I think it's sad when that quilter has no-one to whom they can pass on their quilts.

I recently was given the opportunity to acquire some quilts by just such a quilter. Two of the quilts were very finely made, but in very poor condition. The third quilt was also very finely made - beautifully hand pieced and hand quilted with very tiny stitches. There is definitely some wear, but overall I decided it was a keeper. 

Here is a photo of the quilt I have adopted - the red and white Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, which I have paired with my Carolina Lily quilt, made by my paternal Grandmother. According to my mother, Grandma made two quilts in her lifetime - this one, beautifully constructed and hand quilted, and another quilt which she traded for a piece of furniture!

Back to the Robbing Peter to Pay Paul quilt - besides some fraying in the binding, and a few small tears, there were some brown spots, which I was mostly able to remove with Vintage Textile Soak. However, there was one spot on the quilt which I felt needed tending to. There is a hole that goes completely through all layers, as if it was poked with a rod.

I decided to patch the hole on both the front and the back. I am the lucky owner of my maternal Grandma's scrap bag (Grandma was born in 1896, so she had a nice time span of scraps). I got out her scraps, and was happy to find a scrap of solid red that was a pretty close match to the red fabric in the quilt, albeit without the wear. I appliquéd a small square of the red fabric to cover the hole on the front of the quilt.

And to patch the back, I used a piece of new homespun.

Here is the quilt back on the chair, with it's new patch. I think it blends well from afar, masking the unsightly hole.

I'm honored to be the caretaker of Lenore's quilt!

Until next time,


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Punch Needle for Spring

Spring is finally here, and I was definitely thinking spring when I stitched my new punchneedle pattern, Faded Blooms. I'll use the pattern for teaching punchneedle embroidery, so I designed it to be rather simple, but using beautiful Valdani threads can make a simple design something special.

Faded Blooms Punch Needle

I'm often asked where I get the frames I use for framing my stitchery. A beautiful frame can enhance any work, and I'm always on the lookout for nice frames when I'm out and about. I've found many beautiful frames at cross stitch/needlework shops, and if I fall in love with a frame, I'll buy it then, even if I don't have a project in mind. Another good place to find frames is antique shops. I've found frames that have already been "upgraded" with a fresh coat of paint. Just a few weeks ago I purchased a very nice frame that I will be painting myself.

The frame I used for "Faded Blooms" is one that I put together myself. I had some leftover wood rope molding and glued it to a purchased frame from a hobby shop. I needed a little bit of caulk in a few spots where the pieces of molding joined, so I mixed together a small amount of white glue and baking soda for a do-it-yourself caulk. I then chalk painted the frame and added a coat of dark wax.

One thing to look for when purchasing a frame, is the depth of the opening. I like to use a frame that has a depth of at least 3/8" so that it can accommodate foam core board as a surface to attach my stitchery. Refer to my previous post to see how I frame my needlework archivally:

Even though my frame for Faded Blooms has a rectangular opening, and the punchneedle itself is square, I was able to fill in the space with some vintage buttons stitched to a scrap of beautiful hand dyed Weeks Dye Works parchment linen, and cross stitched to the fabric background. You can always fill in a not quite perfect space with some creative layering of wool, and fabric. So many options!

Until next time!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Holiday Hearts Quilt and Primitive Appliqué

Happy Valentine's Day!

I thought on this day of hearts I would re-post a Primitive Appliqué technique tutorial I first posted on the C & T Publishing blog as a guest blogger, just in case you missed it there.

In my book, Be Merry: Quilts and Projects for Your Holiday Home, there are many projects that are not just for Christmas, and the "Holiday Hearts" quilt is one of them. If you use the technique that I did, you'll have this quilt finished in no time!

"Holiday Hearts" quilt from Be Merry: Quilts and Projects for Your Holiday Home

My quilt is based on a block that I found amongst a box of scraps that I inherited from my grandmother.

I loved the folk art design, especially the way the leaves are oriented in opposite directions, and so I decided to create a quilt based on this unusual block design. I also decided to try the same "primitive" appliqué technique that was used in the block. It turned out to be an incredibly fast way to do appliqué. My quilt has been washed, and the appliqué still looks great. The stitching is sturdy, and because it doesn't employ fusibles, my quilt is soft and heirloom quality, looking beautiful for years to come.

To begin, cut your appliqué shape without adding a seam allowance.

Pin baste your shape onto the background fabric. For appliqué, I like to use appliqué pins, either 1/2" long or 3/4" long, depending on the size of the appliqué piece. For the following tutorial, I used 1/2" long pins on one side of the heart, and 3/4" long pins on the other half, so you can see the difference.

Use a #24 chenille needle, embroidery floss or perlé cotton and a blanket stitch to appliqué your shape to the background. Three ply embroidery floss, #12, #8, #5 perlé cotton all work well. For a really chunky look you could even use #3 perlé cotton.

To blanket stitch appliqué, bring your needle and thread from the bottom to the top at the edge of your shape.

Take your next stitch into the appliqué as shown, and up again near the edge, right next to your initial stitch. Keep the thread length (tail) under your needle.

Pull the needle and thread in the direction of your stitch. Don't pull too tightly, or your work will begin to curl. Keep a nice even tension as you stitch.

Take your second stitch. For a pretty stitch, the space between stitches (the length) should be approximately the same as the width of your stitches i.e. if the width of the stitch is 1/4", space your stitches 1/4" away from each other. The size of your stitch is proportional to the size of your shapes. Small appliqué shapes - smaller stitches.

For sharp points, take an extra stitch at the point to secure the stitch and keep it from becoming distorted.

Bring your needle up in back of the stitch to continue blanket stitching the next side of the shape.

Primitive appliqué is a stress free way to do appliqué, resulting in a charming, folk art look to your quilt!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Until next time,