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Westalee Snowflakes; Tips and Tricks

Thinking about snow in October? Some places have already had their first flurries, but I suspect it will be a while before we see any in the Desert Southwest.

Thinking about snow in October? Some places have already had their first flurries, but I suspect it will be a while before we see any in the Desert Southwest. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be making them out of foam board, pom poms, pipe cleaners, paper & glue, or any other items you can think of.  I’ll be sticking to fabric, batting, and Westalee Templates this season.

Like the other templates in the Spin-E-Fex collection, the Snowflake templates have reference lines that work with the 8 point Crosshair Square. I want my snowflakes to have 6 points. Oh, and I don’t want to mark my fabric. Then it occurred to me. I don’t have to if I spend a little time preparing my templates. In the following video, I show you how to mark your templates instead of your fabric, how to stitch out the snowflakes and stick around to the end for how to clean your templates.

These are the products I used.

Mini Cross Hair Squares

Snowflake Templates

Grid Glider

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EQ7 Tutorial

Purple appliqued butterfly on a blue background.
Butterfly Quilt


I am so excited to be able to share this. The goal was to print applique shapes from EQ7 without the letters and text so that I could publish my pattern.  This led me on a internet search and then a twitter post introduced me to Al Navas.  I’ll let him explain what we did, but if you use EQ7, this is brilliant. If you don’t, there’s a great section on Inkscape which is a nifty free program that I can now use for more than patterns and other fun stuff. Please hop on over to his site, EQ7 Training, to download the lesson AND the pattern. For Free!  How awesome is that?

Working on a project with someone who has same passion for bringing quality instruction to the web is now one of the highlights of my summer. I am hopeful that this will not be our last collaboration.

What are your EQ Challenges?

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My Kind of Town

My Sewing Machine Paints too!



I’ll admit that I am spoiled. I own a Bernina 830LE. It is an amazing sewing and embroidery machine. I also have digitizing, cutwork and painting software. Paint you say? Yes. My sewing machine paints. It is a marvelous thing. I had been looking for a piece of Chicago artwork to hang in my desert home for quite a while. I love Chicago, but not the weather. The skyline is like no other and to have a reminder of my birthplace is something that’s been missing.

Then one day, I ran across an embroidery design called  Cityscapess. . BINGO!  I could embroider Chicago on linen and frame it. NO WAIT, I could paint it, on glass, on a shadowbox… mind was exploding.

First I had to convert the embroidery design to a PaintWork design. PaintWork is a module of DesingWorks Software from Bernina. It is really fun and allows you to do so much more than sew with your computerized machine.  Converting the design was super easy and quick. Now, how to get it centered on the glass. Since I was using glass ink pens, there was no room for error. Light Bulb. Stick with me, this is genius.  Whoa, if I painted a mirrored image, I could paint it on the inside of the glass. Quick trip back to the software.

I use stitched placement lines when embroidering all the time, why not do the same thing here? I digitized a rectangle the exact size of the glass.  I hooped sticky back water soluble stabilizer and stitched out the rectangle.  The stitches perforated the paper that covers the sticky part so I was able to remove only the paper that was the same size as the glass. Because my machine automatically centers every design, both the rectangle and the skyline design would be centered with each other.

Paper removed, ready to place glass.
Paper removed, ready to place glass.

I carefully placed the glass on the rectangle. When I say carefully, I mean protect yourself. I used old diapers to protect my hands from getting cut. I held it down with painter’s tape for extra security. I taped freezer paper over the glass so I could adjust the height of the pen. I tried using aluminum foil, but couldn’t get it smooth. If the pen was too low then the lines would be too thick.  Too high and it wouldn’t draw a continuous line. When painting on fabric, if the pen is too high you can lower it and go back; not so much with glass. Everything had to be just right before I started painting on the glass. Light bulb again. I have a tendency to over think things, but this time it paid off.  I was afraid to use regular paper for fear the paint would bleed through. The freezer paper was moving just a little bit. Glad® Press “N Seal® was perfect. It stuck to the glass so it didn’t move and came off like a dream.   Once I had my settings adjusted, I removed the Press ‘N Seal® and let it go.

All ready to test height of pen
All ready to test height of pen

When my machine, that is so awesome it paints too, stopped, I fought the urge to remove the glass right away and admire my work. I let it sit to make sure the paint was dry. The glass came off the stabilizer very easily, but I used the cloth diapers again. This not only protected my hands, it prevented finger prints from jumping onto the glass. You can easily remove any sticky residue with glass cleaner. I had very little to clean off. Then I popped (ok, carefully placed) it into the frame. I love the way the buildings cast a shadow in the back of the frame. There is a perfect place in a hallway where the light hits it just right and I can see it daily. Plus, with the paint on the inside, I can clean the frame without worrying the design will come off.

Design finished; waiting to dry.
Design finished; waiting to dry.

Note: When buying shadowboxes for this technique, look carefully for one where the glass comes out easily.  The first time I did this, I broke the glass removing it.  The glass was glued in and although one side popped out easily, the other did not. Also, please be careful when handling the glass. It is a lot sharper than you would think. Since I used a black frame, the background was black as well. I used a piece of textured white paper to create the contrast. A light tan would have worked and given it an old world charm, but I like the clean look of the white background and black paint.

So what is next? I think anything would work. You wouldn’t have to use a shadowbox. Imagine a design collection, individually painted and framed, finding a home on a lonely wall.  Or the birth details painted on the glass over a baby’s first picture. A special date floating over a picture of the event. If it fits in your hoop, why not?

Have fun playing and let me know what you create.



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March: Hunter’s Star


A few years back I bought a Quiltsmart pattern for a Hunter’s Star and fabric to make it with.  Yes, this ended up in the closet.  So for March, I brought it out.  It is an interesting concept really.  Basically you use a printed fusible interfacing to make the blocks.  Super Duper Simple.

Cut up all the pieces you are going to use.  There are a lot of pieces here folks, so I broke them into stacks of ten to keep up.  This is all the fabric ready to go.



OH and then you have to cut apart the printed blocks and that was a pain because they are not in straight columns/rows so no rotary cutting. I’m sure this decision was financially based, but it is not a good one.


Fuse fabric to the foundation.  There are a few steps here so you need to be careful when fusing, because you are leaving the corners bare.  I have an inexpensive iron with a Teflon sole that I use just for fusibles.  If it gets gunky I can wipe if off with a damp paper towel when the iron is cool.


And then sew along the lines!  How simple is that?



Finally there is some trimming to do.  I got a little sassy here and paid for it later.  Cut on the lines.  Do not, I repeat, do not trim with the block right side up.  No matter how careful you are, it will haunt you like a like a ghost in October.

Then sew your blocks together and Voila…..another quilt top is done.  It is time to celebrate.  Well, almost time at least.

There were problems where the stars come together.  You have 8 points meeting, plus the added fusible so basically double the fabric; kind of.  I had a difficult time getting the points to lay flat. I swirled, I hammered, I cussed, and then finally I let it go, like a helium balloon.  Originally I was going to put this on the frame, but after I saw it put together I didn’t want to distract from the piecing. Then there was the bulky seam challenge. Finally there was the gorgeous fabric I found for the backing.  I decided to quilt it in the ditch with monofilament thread.

The quilt itself is a little stiff and will probably soften up when washed.  The yellow fabric was way too light for this method.  I know you can’t see it in the picture, but it is very see thru and in some areas I can see the lines of the fusible. All in all, I can’t say I would do it again or any fusible for that matter.  Yes, it is easy and yes, it looks nice. And yes, if I had never done it, I would try it. And finally yes it is a good method for those who do not have the experience or desire to piece the old fashion way.  And by old fashion, I mean with a good machine and a quarter inch foot.


I did however come up with a way to make the Hunter’s Star block in my head and if I ever really sit down and do it, I will share.