Back to Blogging, and the next PSQ Charm Swap!

Yes, I have run away a good part of the summer, and I need to thank you all for patiently putting up with my unusual silence. But that is over. Today I am sharing a quick announcement.

Sept-Oct 2014 PSQ Charm SwapThe next Postage Stamp Quilt Charm Swap signup will run from September 20-October 5, 2014. This will be the 8th swap! Only comments left on the post that will be put up on Sept. 20th will be in the swap.

Why am I mentioning this a month early? Because you MUST have your charm sets all cut and ready to ship BEFORE you can sign up to swap! So start cutting and counting today!

The rules are the same. A set is 100 charms, all one size, with no duplicate charms, cut from 100 different fabrics. Quilting cottons only, no flannels or homespuns. We swap in three sizes, 1.5″, 2″, or 2.5″ squares, and you can choose one size or do all three sizes.  You can swap up to 8 sets in each size. Or you can swap just one set if you want!

© CQ PSQ Flickr Photo Sampler

Click the photo to visit our Flickr group to see some things swappers have done with their PSQ charms.

Newbie quilters who do not have a stash of 100 fabrics can ask for a Newbie Gift. This is a donation of a set of 50 fabric charms in the size requested. Swappers, please donate at least one Newbie Gift in the size of your choice (2.5 is most popular, and 1.5 is the least.)

Go to the FAQ & Basic Swap Info pages to get all the details. Please read that carefully before you start cutting your charms to swap. You may find it helpful to read all the links on the FAQ and Links pages under Postage Stamp Quilts on the menu bar above.

There will not be a spring swap in 2015, but there will be a late summer or early fall one then.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature© 2014 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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AMB Blog Tour Winners, Tutorial, and Kites!

Thank you all for your kind comments on my Minnesota License Plate block, as my stop on the AMB Blog Tour. We have a pair of winners!

random numberWinning the selection of fat quarters from Clothworks AMB is comment #51: Kellie from Indiana. Winning the set of 5″ charms (and Minnesota goodies) is #155: Sewing Bird from Nevada. Congratulations to you both, and watch your email for details.

And thanks for your patience on the MN License Plate Block tutorial! All tech issues have been resolved, and it is up and running! I am relieved, I was about to completely redo it. If you make a block, I would love to see a photo.
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com
Fly a Kite Day is June 15!
kite_Guatemaln_Joelsyok_wikimedia commons (1)The photo here is a Guatemalan festival kite made of paper. Isn’t it a gorgeous piece of quilt inspiration? Many kites are beautiful. And flying even the simplest kite can be a lot of fun. When I did a post on Fly a Kite Day for that other blog that I write for, I learned that even in the 6th century kites were used for communication and weather watching. Go fly a kite this week!

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature © 2014 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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Welcome to Minnesota!

The American Made Brand Blog Tour 50 state road trip continues, and today I am thrilled to welcome you to Minnesota. I hope you enjoy your visit.

Let’s start with the Minnesota License Plate that the good folks at Clothworks, asked me to make. Here is my final design for Minnesota:

Finished License Plate Blog from MInnesota

Made entirely of AMB Cotton Solids, using fusible applique, read on to take a look at Minnesota in all four seasons.

When I started to design my license plate, I asked lots of friends from all over the state to share what they thought was the essence of Minnesota. I got lots and lots of great answers, but two themes came through in most of the responses. We have water everywhere, and Minnesotans enjoy being out and about in all four of our beautiful seasons.

There are five components in my license plate. The first is water. Then, left to right, the four seasons shine through. Winter’s beauty with a gracious snow-covered pine. Spring fields in the rolling farmlands. Summer in the North Woods, where the tall pines form cathedrals. And Fall, when the trees put on their finest show, the fields are caramel-brown with hay and corn stubble.

Boundary Waters  in Northers Minnesota

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area covers 150 miles of the Minnesota/Canada border.

Water is front and center in my license plate. We are called the Land of 10,000 lakes, but that is a serious understatement. There are over 13,000 lakes with areas larger than ten acres, and twice that over 4 acres. That does not include the 8,100 rivers that flow in three directions here–towards the Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. When you add up all the shoreline from the lakes and rivers, you find we have 180,000+ miles of shore, darned respectable for a state smack-dab in the middle of a continent! Then add all the wetlands, well, we do have a lot of water in Minnesota.


The Headwaters of the Mississippi River, in northern Minnesota.

That water gets used and enjoyed. Ocean-going barges navigate Lake Superior to reach Duluth. One in six families owns some type of boat. The barge traffic on the Mississippi starts up the minute the ice is declared “out” in the spring. Lakes are full of cabin cruisers, houseboats, speed boats, canoes, kayaks, water-skiers, fishermen and women, swimmers, and windsurfers. The Mighty Mississippi starts in Minnesota, as does the chain of the Great Lakes.


Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior.


Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota.

800px-Minneapolis_from_the_Central_Avenue_Bridge mississippi

Mississippi River flowing through Minneapolis.

Winter wraps our state in snow, and wraps people in cozy jackets and caps. People may be snuggling under quilts inside, but they trek out to soak up the brisk fresh air and sunshine. We play as well! Sledding, downhill and cross-country skiing are lots of fun. Cross country skiersIn winter the ice fishing is grand, ice-sailing is fun to watch, and people flock to the lakes for skating and pond hockey. Crisp, clear nights make for chances to star-gaze and watch the northern lights. In rural areas you will hear the roar of snowmobiles. You may also hear wolves and an occasional moose. Sled-dogs are very happy for the cold weather and the chance to run. The polar bears at the zoos think winter is heavenly.

Despite all our water, Minnesota is about 65% farmland, represented in the Spring section on the licence plate. arboretum_capples-thumb-500x332Corn and soy are the largest crops, but oats, barley, spring wheat, sugar beets, sweet corn and sweet peas, pumpkins, apples, grapes and berries, and many other things are grown here as well. In the Spring the new green shoots in fields are a welcome sight after the winter. Minnesota leads the country in turkey farming, but also has chickens, milk cows, goats, sheep, bison, and mink farms. Oh, and wind farms!

800px-Northwest_View_-_Lake_Calhoun,_Minneapolis,_MNSummertime, and the living is, well, often hot and muggy! We flock to the lakes. We camp in our 67 state parks, we canoe in the Boundary Waters. We swat mosquitoes with a vengeance, and love to hear the cardinals in the morning and the loons in the evening. We live in our backyards, bike the trails all over the state, and visit the vineyards and bed and breakfasts scattered about the state. Urban dwellers dine in outdoor bistros, and walk the trails around city lakes. Families all over the state frequent softball games and ice cream shops. Sure, we work, but summer is meant to be savored, and we love it!

In Fall, the harvest rules the state for some time. Once the corn is out, the pheasants and deer run in the stubble, and hunters are sure to follow. St. Croix river fallcolorsThe trees put on a spectacular show. Tamaracks turn brilliant yellow, rivaled only by the aspen forests. Maple trees don shades of orange and red, and the oaks stubbornly hold their deep red leaves right through winter. Squirrels bury things everywhere, often to the dismay of gardeners like me. The evenings are full of the scent of fire-pits being enjoyed. High school football heroes are celebrated, and pilgrimages are made to apple orchards and pumpkin patches.

Win an AMB Cotton Solids BundleTime for a Giveaway! Isn’t it amazing what a pile of fabric can bring out of you? I am happy that Clothworks is giving away a fat quarter set of selections from their new AMB Cotton Solids, and you can win one just by commenting below. (this giveaway is now closed) I am also having a fun little giveaway, featuring 30 five-inch charms of AMB Cotton Solids, and some fun little Minnesotan goodies. Winner will be selected randomly from all comments received by Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 11:59 PM CDT. Winners will be announced on Saturday. Then be sure to visit all the other states on the Blog Tour, and enter their giveaways as well! Sorry, no international entries this round.

Want to make your own Minnesota License Plate Block? Well, you can! There is a complete tutorial to be found here, just hop over and have fun.

If you are new to fusible applique, you might want to check out my Fusible Applique Demonstration and learn how it’s done. It is easy, and very forgiving! If you make the Minnesota block, I hope you will send me a photo of it to share with my readers.

AMB Road Trip Button

Click to see the tour list!

The blog tour is visiting Minnesota and California today, and you can head off to Oregon and Kansas tomorrow. Be sure to check out the complete list and visit all 50 state this summer.

Yes, I know. The license plate omitted many things like cities, the arts, the schools and universities, the famous companies that started here, and the Mall of America. But give me the great outdoors in any season, and I am one happy Minnesotan!

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com Signature © 2014 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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Tiny Scraps: Magic Trick Number One

1 small pile of tiny scrapsWe all have them, bins or bags of little fabric scraps we simply cannot bear to part with. Some of the scraps are small, perhaps enough to squeeze a 2″ charm out of. Some are funky, like little strips that run 5-10 inches by less than 3/4 inches. But there are some that are just plain tiny. Those little snippets trimmed from flying geese. That last little bit of a favorite fabric, now no bigger than a quarter, or less. If you are like me, sometimes you wonder just why you are holding on to these!

And I know that there are lots of quilters who are somewhat afraid of sewing small or tiny pieces together. When the postage stamp quilt charm swaps are going on, someone always comments that they will only do 2.5″ charms, because they simply could not sew with smaller bits.

Well, I want to invite you to use your tiny scraps. I want you to let go of the fear, and dive in and PLAY! While you are gaining confidence with these little pieces, I need you to let your sewing be imperfect, just as it was the first time you sewed anything. I am sure you will build confidence as you go, and get lots of ideas of your own for ways to use your own stash of tiny scraps.

So I am going to do a series of posts with demos or tutorials. I am calling this my Magic Tricks for Tiny Scraps series.

Magic Trick Number One
b5 Two Finished coastersThis particular magic act is being demonstrated on coaster-making project. They are a bit rustic on purpose, to keep it simple and “scrappy”! You could easily make something larger, like mugrugs, or placements. I have a few other suggestions for using this trick at the end of this post. If you need a closer look at one of the photos, just click on it.

This project requires a pair of slightly larger scraps as the base for the coaster. Two 5″ charms would be great. I selected solid colors for my coasters, since my tiny scraps are so colorful. You can use anything, as long as you have enough contract between the base and the scraps to make your design pop!

Every magician needs props, and this is what you will need to use for each coaster:

  • a1 assembled parts tfor coastersTwo fabric pieces for the coaster base. About 5″ square works well, but if your pieces are 4.5″ and not so square, they will work too!
  • A fabric glue stick, or a washable school glue stick.
  • A scrap of double-sided fusible craft batting, the same size as your base pieces. I use the kind that works well for placemats and wall hangings.
  • A selection of little tiny scraps. This will become clear as you go through the demo, but I suggest sticking to a color oor shape these to create your design. You can see I used little triangles in warm colors for the first coaster.
  • And the usual sewing staples: thread, scissors, iron, sewing machine.

Assemble your coaster base:
Photo 1: Trim the batting piece so it is 1/8 inch smaller than your two fabric pieces, and sandwich it between the two base fabrics. Photo 2: Fuse both sides, following batting manufacturer’s directions. If you aren’t sure, a medium hot iron with no steam will probably do the trick. Press on each side for about 10 seconds. Photo 3: Once the sandwich is cool, run a row of stitching around the entire outside of the base, close to the edge, but catching all layers. If it isn’t a perfect square it is quite alright! Use any thread you want, for the demo I used a high-contract color.

a2 fubible batting sandwich

Photo 1.

a3 securing batting

Photo 2.

a4 stitched outer edge

Photo 3.

Add your scrappy design:
Think abstract. Think shapes. I used triangles on the purple coaster, and tiny strips on the green one, but little circles, or random shapes would be great too. Sticking to a color theme can tie random things together very nicely. Abstract flowers to give to a gardener? Team color collage for a sports nut? There is no right or wrong, just pick and play. Feel free to trim scraps to fit your layout.

Photo 4: After settling on the design, use the glue stick to “baste” the scraps in place for sewing. Using one continuous stitching run, secure all sides of each piece. Stitch close to the edge of the scraps. Photo 5: Stitching in progress, I just went right across the middle to keep it rustic and continuous. Photo 6: all stitched!

a5 scraps glued in place

Photo 4.

a6 stitching to secure

Photo 5.

a7 stitched and ready for finishing

Photo 6.

Voila! The Finishing Act:
Photo 7: This is what the back of the stitching looks like. Notice the little bit of magic, in that stitching on the scraps also quilts the coaster? Photo 8: Run a second row of stitching around the outside edge of coaster, juts inside the first one. Hey, you could make it a round coaster if you want! Of course, with only a couple of inches to go, I ran out of bobbin thread. Photo 9: Bobbin refueled, merge point back-stitched, and the second row is done.

a8 Back of coaster

Photo 7.

a9 out of bobbin thread

Photo 8.

b1 bobbin solved

Photo 9.

Photo 10: Trim away the excess edges close to the first row of stitching. It is quite alright if the batting shows a bit! This is a rustic little magic trick. You could use a pinking shears if you like, but I strongly suggest stitching your edge rows not quite as close to the edge the, so the shears don’t cut the thread. Photo 11: I made a second one in green, with little scrap stripes. My green base fabric was smaller than the purple, but I think it works just fine. Photo 12: This is the back of the green one. Notice the continuous stitching that serves to attach the scraps, and quilt the coaster.

b2 Trimming purple coaster

Photo 10.

b3 green coaster

Photo 11.

b4 Back of green coaster

Photo 12.

This is a technique that can be used in countless ways. Besides the coasters or placemats, consider skipping the base sandwich and simply attaching your design to a blank quilt block. The glue basting will work just fine, and the free-form stitching can be contrasting or blend in. Alternate these blocks with pretty prints and create a masterpiece of scrappy goodness.

How about a zipper bag? Make bases in sizes to fit your favorite little bag pattern. They could be done with the batting, or not, depending on your preference.

What ever you make, the little scraps will wash up just fine if you secured their edges. I would dry them flat, and press as needed.

Watch for the next Tiny Scraps Magic trick! Oh, so many ideas . .
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com Tiny Scraps: Magic Trick Number One © 2014 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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Giveaway #2: Celebrating 500.000 hits

This giveaway is now closed. Update June1, 2014: thanks for the great song suggestions! I made two hats full of comments, and asked my birthday boy son (30-something) to draw. Congrats to Angie S who gets Fabric Artistry. Angie suggested a tune about the not always nice quilt police. And congrats to Janet J. who wins Row by Row. Her tuneful thought was a song set to Move Like Jagger by Maroon 5.

This month is slipping by so fast, and I am late with getting this giveaway going. But here it is! This round I am giving away two books. When you enter, tell me which one you want, and I will draw for each.

Fabric Artistry Cover

Fabric Artistry applique jacket detail

An embellished jacket from Fabric Artistry.

The first book is for all sewers, not just quilters. It is an oldie but goodie. Fabric Artistry is a Singer production from 1996, and chock-full of techniques and projects for embellishing clothing, pillows, and anything made from fabric. This copy was in my local used bookstore but show absolutely no signs of wear.

If you have every wondered how to do openwork, cutwork, weaving on fabric, embossed velvet, pleating, trapunto, couching, double needle trim, and other embellishments, there are detailed directions and projects for all in this book.

Row Quilts from AnniesNext I have a brand new book, just issued this month. Row Quilts by Annie’s has several projects, for beginners to intermediate quilters. All the quilts are assembled row by row, but some include stars, patchwork, or even pieced fish! Click on the book title to see an Amazon preview of some projects. Both of these books would be great additions to any quilter’s library!

TO ENTER: Leave a comment here and suggest a tune or a topic for a future Curious Quilter’s Glee Club performance! If you aren’t familiar with the Glee Club, click here to see some of the posts that include classics like “Shall We Sew?” I am really hoping to expand our non-Christmas set of tunes, and would love to hear your ideas. THEN tell me which of the two books you want. I will draw two winners on May 31, 2014.

Again, leave a comment stating which book you prefer, AND suggesting a tune or topic for a CQ Glee Club song. Open to International readers, of course!
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com
AMB Blog Tour Widget buttonAre you following the fun on the American Made Brand Blog Tour? Some of the state license plates are stunning! My turn will be June 9th, when you will see the Minnesota license plate, and have a chance to win some of these great new solid fabrics. But don’t wait! All 50 blogs have giveaways! Visit the Blog Tour website for the updated list of blogs–and visit them all between May 19-June 20, 2014!
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comGiveaway #2: Celebrating 500.000 hits © 2014 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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Hit the Road, the AMB Blog Tour Starts Today

How did Clothworks decide to introduce their new American Made Brand line of 50 colors of cotton solids? With a 50 state road trip–no gas required! The AMB Blog Tour starts today. Pack up your favorite road trip munchies (red Twizzlers here) and get ready to have some fun.

AMB Blog TourFifty bloggers, one from each of the 50 states, were challenged to create a quilty license plate for their home state. Each will become a block in a quilt celebrating quilting all across the country. As you visit each site on its appointed day, you can see how the designs developed, enter to win a set of eight FQ’s* of selected colors from this great new fabric line, and even download the state patterns to make your own license plate quilt. Most blogs will have their own items to give away as well, but if you sign up for the giveaway at each blog, you will have 50 chances to win!

From now through June 20, 2014 the AMB Blog Tour will visit one or two blogs each day. You can find a wide variety of designs and techniques used in creating these license plate blocks. For the most part, the states are listed in the order that they became states. (That means that the blog tour will be coming to The Curious Quilter to see the Minnesota block on June 9th!)


All 50 blogs are giving away FQ sets!

Delaware and Pennsylvania both were granted statehood in December of 1787, and are today’s stops on the tour. Find the Delaware license plate block when you visit Blue Striped Room. Then be sure to visit Cheryl Lynch Quilts for the Pennsylvania license plate. On Tuesday, May 20th, check out Butterfly Threads Quilting in Georgia.

The entire list of all 50 blogs and 50 states can be seen at the official AMB Blog Tour site. You can also see all 50 colors at the AMB/The Fabric page, learn about the farm to fabric concept under Our Story, and then visit Farm to Fabric Challenge to learn about a quilt challenge.

Rev up your (sewing machine) engines, take in the sites, and enjoy the cross-country trip!

* AMB is limiting entries for the FQ giveaway to United States entrants only.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com Hit the Road, the AMB Blog Tour Starts Today © 2014 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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