family, featured, holiday, make something, quilting, quilts

Let’s Talk About Big Stitch Quilting

I was introduced to big stitch quilting in 1993. Maybe 1994? It’s been a while and I can’t quite remember the exact date.  25 years and all. Anyhow, I was working at a quilt shop during my summers home from school, and a woman that taught classes there used big stitch quilting for a lot of her quilts. It was new to me. I’d never seen it. I’d only seen teeny, weeny hand stitching – all very traditional (and lovely) – and I immediately fell in love! I thought it was the coolest way to quilt.

Ever.

I mean, tiny stitches are great but who needs 11 or 12 stitches an inch (and I most definitely couldn’t do that when I started!) when I can get away with 4 or 5, right? Besides it’s so much faster.

The first time I made a quilt with big stitch quilting was for a Christmas gift for my Dad. I used reproduction Smithsonian prints (very masculine and I still love those fabrics) and a 12 weight cream colored perle cotton. I probably (details are fuzzy here since it’s been a while) struggled to get the thread into the needle because I didn’t know to use a needle with a bigger eye. I have vague memories of fighting with a needle threader?? Nevertheless, I somehow managed to make it happen.

And I was so proud.

And I showed my quilt to said friend and she (very kindly) gave me a lesson.

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BIG STITCH QUILTING MEANS THE STITCHES ARE BIGGER. NOT ENORMOUS.

If in an ideal world of hand quilting you get 11 or so stitches in an inch of quilting, you should have less with big stitch quilting; meaning your stitches are bigg-er. 

Yeah.  So that sank in for a bit. My stitches were HUGE.  I ruined my Dad’s quilt. dang it!

So, while I was a little brokenhearted about that – you know, messing it all up (even though the quilt isn’t messed up it just has really. big. stitches), I took it as a lesson to learn about this new art I was exploring and went on my way. My Dad was (and still is) none the wiser, and loved his gift. He and Mom still have it over a railing in their house. I had to text mom for photos, in fact. 🙂

To be honest, I didn’t use big stitch quilting on another quilt for a while. I was afraid I’d mess it up. Again. That was DEFINITELY a mistake. Mess up. Learn. Move forward.

So, moving right along through the next decade or two, I would occasionally pick up big stitch quilting again, always careful to make my stitches bigger but not ridiculous.

The most recent (ahem, I say recent loosely) projects are baby quilts. One for my youngest son (he’s almost 8) and another for a friend that just had her first baby.

See how the stitches in the left photo are really big? They shouldn’t be quite so large. Remember, they need to be bigger than traditional hand quilting but not HUGE. You can see 25 years of progress in the right hand photo. Big stitch quilting should be closer to this. Bigg-er than traditional hand quilting stitches.

When you first start, your stitches won’t be small. Even big stitch quilting. That is okay. Keep practicing until you find your rhythm. You will get there. Promise!

Do:

•Use a 12 weight perle cotton. You can use a slightly thinner or thicker thread, but I have found it’s a good weight for big stitch quilting.
•Use a longer needle with a larger eye. I like to use a sashiko needle, but there are big stitch needles in a variety of sizes. Buy a few and experiment
•Remember that you want your thread to fill the hole in the needle (or close to it). If the opening is too large, your thread will fray and eventually break.
•Practice, practice, practice!

Don’t:
Get discouraged. My first big stitch quilt had ENORMOUS stitches. It’s okay.

Remember:

•Handmade isn’t always perfect.
•Handmade has mistakes.
•Handmade with love is better than anything you can buy. Imperfections and all.

featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilt block, quilting, quilts, sewing

Mimi’s Modern Flower Garden

As usual, I started this with just a concept in my head. For the most part it worked. Until I got to the borders. Then it got tricky.

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And that’s saying something since the borders are just kinda borders, right?

Well, now they are.

If I actually sat down and drew out a plan (either on paper or my computer), I would have seen that extending the hexagons into the borders wasn’t going to work. At least not with this size hexie I was using. I mean, it would have been really cool, and it’s something I might use in the future.

You know, when I have the math all sorted.

After I had the center pieced, and had attached the inner border (which took much longer than expected because I had to variegate it), then I got to move on to the outer borders.

Originally my plan was to extend the hexagons from the center to the outside, but, like I said a few paragraphs ago, it didn’t work because I couldn’t make the corners fit.

bad corner web

See? I’d have to chop off too much of a hexie.

I also wish I’d realized that BEFORE I put on the top border.

top border web

It looked awful because I couldn’t halve the hexagons along the top – I had to have a hexagon at the corners – but I was not going to have ANY of that.

border test

I tried a few different things like having a grey variegated border, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that either.

So, after fussing for a few days.

Daaaayyysss, y’all, daaayyysss….

I decided to get a print that reads as a solid and call it a day.

My hope is that when I (or someone else) quilts it, the borders will have some fun thread work. Perhaps I’ll have the quilting follow the color pattern of the quilt, going from red to pink to purple to blue to green.

Maybe.

I should probably make a plan for that before I start.

featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts

Little Lone Star {free pattern}

I made this sweet little Lone Star quilt for my friend Sarah to hang at the Intown Quilters booth during Quilt Con 2017. She gave out the pattern during the show and I thought I’d share it here, as well.

The quilt is really quick and easy to put together. Enjoy!

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Lone Star ~43-1/2” x 43-1/2”
Designed, Pieced and quilted by Patty Murphy,
based on my book Piecing Makeover

Fabrics*
16 fat eighths
1 yard background fabric (we used Essex Yarn-Dyed Linen in Flax)
1/2 yd binding

*You can buy fat eighth bundles here and Essex Yarn-Dyes Linen here

Cutting Instructions: 
          Fat eighths:
Cut three 2-1/2” x 21” strips from each fat eighth.

          Background fabric: 
First cut one 20” x 20”square.
Then cut four 12-1/2” x 12-1/2” squares.

Assembly Instructions
1. Sew 12 sets of 4 strips. Press open seams.
2. Cut strip sets on a 45° angle. You will get 3 full strips from each set, giving you a possible 36 strips to use for your Lone Star. You will have extra to use.
3. Arrange the strips on a design wall to make the Lone Star. Four strips go into each diamond section.
4. Sew each of the 8 diamond sections together, making sure you off-set the seams to create perfect points. (pg. 110, Diamonds)
5. Once you have 8 diamond sections, sew the top 4 together to make the top of your star then sew the bottom 4 together to make the bottom half of your star.
6. Sew the 2 sections together, making sure you match points in the center and furl your seams to reduce bulk. (pg. 27, Furling Busy Intersections)
7. Using a y-seam, sew each of the 12-1/2” x 12-1/2” background squares into each of the corners. (pg. 105, Hexagons)
8. Cut the 20” x 20” background square twice on the diagonal to get 4 triangles.
9. Using a y-seam, sew the triangles cut in Step 8 into the quilt along the top, bottom, and sides. (pg. 105, Hexagons)
10. Quilt, bind, and enjoy! See it on IG: #pmlonestar

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book, featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing, Uncategorized

Piecing Makeover Blog Book Tour + Giveaway

What a week it’s been! Wow! Thanks for all the love, y’all! The week was such a success and I couldn’t have done it without C&T Publishing, AnneMarie, Jodie, Teri at GenQ, Sandi, Mary, and Kristin. Really big thanks to each of you!

My biggest tip to share is to ask for help. I mean – How easy is that!? Seriously, though. When I first started to quilt I always asked my mom but not everyone has a mom that sews, or is near. However,  if you are fortunate enough, your local quilt shop has staff on hand to help you work through your problems. Yes, it means another trip out, and you might come home with more fabric but getting inspired while getting help is fun! And I promise they LOVE to help figure out your quilting problems! If the shop can’t help, they will find someone that can. Honest.

If you don’t have a quilt shop near you, go online to see if you can find the answer to your problem, or send a message to a quilter via a blog or read a book – perhaps, mine?  A little time to noodle on the issue might work for you, too. Don’t be afraid to explore possibilities. And if you are worried about messing up your favorite piece of fabric, experiment with some muslin, or old scraps until you’ve solved your problem.

Most importantly, remember it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s how we learn. I have quilts riddled with errors and almost every quilt I make throws me for a loop at some point or another – I really should plan more! But I’ve learned a lot. Some of my (ahem) older friends have been a valuable source of knowledge, too.

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C&T is giving away one copy at each stop along the way and today is your last chance to win a copy of Piecing Makeover  for yourself (printed copy in the U.S. and e-book outside the States). Leave a comment on the blog and we will announce the winners tomorrow.

Here’s the list again so you can check to see if you have won on another page. Winners will be chosen at random using random.org number generator.

9/13  AnneMarie Chany http://www.genxquilters.com/
9/15 Teri Lucas/Gen Q Magazine  http://generationqmagazine.com/
9/16 Sandi Hazlewood http://www.craftyplanner.com/
9/18 Kristin Esser https://kristinesser.com/
Happy piecing, everyone!

*edited on 9/20 – Congratulations to Sally for winning a copy of Piecing Makeover!

featured, quilt, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Warrior Quilt

An old friend of mine was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer last fall. I planned to make her a quilt to have while she was going through chemotherapy but I overcommitted. Well, that’s what I thought. It turns out I was severely vitamin D deficient and had NO energy. My doctor took my concerns about being tired to a fault to heart and ran a few tests to figure that out. Mega doses of Vitamin D and I’m back in the saddle again. Fortunately for me, I had an easy fix. Unfortunately for my friend, she’s still fighting the good fight but she is truly a warrior. Chemo and a double mastectomy. No choice a young mother should make but she’s strong as an ox and I know she’ll get through this.

I’m in awe of her. I really am. You don’t realize how important your health is until you don’t have it. That point hit home over the last 6 weeks. What I’ve been dealing with pales in comparison to her battle. I mean, really, my issue is a small scratch on the surface; but when I was feeling completely and utterly exhausted all the time for no apparent reason, well, that was tough. It was beyond tough.

I finally got my act together and made her this quilt. Many months later than planned but it happened. My friend sent the sweetest note to me when she got it. Deeply touched by the gesture. Indeed it truly is better to give than receive. Unless it’s your birthday, then it’s fun to receive 😉

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I used  Anna Maria Horner’s Dressmaker on the back. I absolutely ADORE that fabric! I should have bought more. It wasn’t quite wide enough so a small strip of another AMH print and I was set. I quilted straight lines at angles across the quilt with my walking foot. No rhyme or reason, just random, for a fun look. The lines are (ahem) mostly straight, too.