April 5, 2015

How to Build a Design Wall

Yesterday, I built a 8' x 12' design wall for my studio! I was actually surprised to find it really wasn't hard and it wasn't expensive. In fact, I'm sad that I didn't do this sooner! I'll outline how I did it, but there's more detailed tutorials all over the internet. If you want to do this in your studio, I suggest you click some of the links at the end of this post and do some research.

4' x 8' Foam insulation board
108" Cream flannel
Duct Tape
2 1/2" nails/hammer
Two people

Foam Board
My insulation looks like this. The other side is plain pink. I put that side facing out so the wording doesn't show through the flannel. It is tongue-in-groove so it fits together really well.

I bought 1" x 4' x 8' foam board at my local home building center for about $17/sheet. I am fortunate to have an unfinished basement as my studio, so I had a large wall to work with. I got three sheets of foam board. The hardest part was getting it home! You can use one sheet for a small portable design wall and two sheets makes a really nice size if that's all the space you have. I wanted three because I can, and I have space to put up multiple projects, sample blocks, ideas, random fabrics, etc.

Cream Flannel
I bought 5 yards of 108" wide flannel. I chose cream because I don't use a lot of cream in my quilts. If you do, consider getting white flannel. It doesn't really matter. Obviously if you are making a smaller design wall, get less. I highly recommend getting the 108" flannel - otherwise you have to piece it together before building your wall. I got mine at fabric.com Of course if you have narrower flannel on hand, use that to save money!

Note: Some tutorials recommend using batting instead of flannel. In my experience, batting tends to sag on the design wall over time. So I suggest using flannel instead to keep it from sagging later.

Get Started
First, put all your boards together and tape them. I used clear packing tape on the front side and duct tape on the back. The duct tape will show through the flannel, so I used the clear tape there, but it's not as strong as duct tape, so I used duct tape on the backside so it's sturdier.

Then I stretched the flannel (not prewashed) onto the front side and taped it on the back. This is where you'll need help. One person to stretch the flannel and one to tape. You can use clothespins to secure the edges while taping if you don't have help.

Once it's taped, set it up where you want it to go and check that you stretched it tight enough. If not, now is the time to fix it. You don't want any sags.

Nail it to the wall, making sure to hit the studs - if you're attaching to a finished wall. My wall is attached to an unfinished wall. We nailed about 4-5 nails across the top and bottom and a few on the edges. There was no need to nail in the center.

If you don't want it nailed permanently to the wall, you can just tilt it against the wall.

Here's some links to other similarly constructed design walls. If you go on Pinterest, you'll find hundreds of different kinds. Pick out what works for you and get building!


Good luck! Let me know if you find anything that works better than this!

March 23, 2015

Oh Dear Jane, Wherefore Art Thou?

Did you know that "wherefore" means why, not where? So when Romeo was pining away he was being very philosophical - "Why do you exist" not "Where are you." I feel the same way about my Dear Jane.
My Dear Jane book and 3-ring binders.
There are three volumes -  two for the 4 1/2" blocks
and one for the border blocks.
I started this baby Jan. 14, 2003. Yes, that's 12 years ago!  I loved everything about Dear Jane - I loved the online community, I loved the book that didn't have instructions and I loved making the little blocks! I sewed and sewed and sewed!

Here's my first block. Yes, I journaled...
And isn't it cute that I kept swatches?
What on earth am I going to do with those???

Here's my last block. Evidently it took 1 year and 7 months to make all 169 blocks.
(Good thing I journaled or else I would never have remembered this fact!)
Here's one of the border blocks. I only did about 10 of those,
then I decided to just do plain triangles. The borders are really hard!
I do have the four corners done, however.
I even played with making a 3" Jane. Yikes!
Five blocks and I was done with that idea! I do like the colors though!
Then the blocks were done. And so was I. I just put the volumes on a shelf and was done. Now, I'm thinking I need to dust it off and get her pieced together. No one wants to inherit a bunch of falling-apart 3-ring binders - they want a quilt!

I have tons of regrets in my Dear Jane journey. None more than that I waited this long to think about finishing it! I don't like some of my color choices, and I'm sad that I decided to use colors randomly instead of in a gradation, like the original. I also regret the decision to stop making the border blocks, but at this point I'm not interested in finishing them. I have to Plan B the border. I'll come up with something that will be great!

I do have a great tip I learned from making a Baby Jane that I continue to use to this day:

Did you know you can cut off the binding of a paperback book and have it spiral bound?
This allows it to lay flat while you're making the quilt. (Take it to a copy shop to have this done.
It should only cost a few bucks.)

March 17, 2015

Inspiration for the Marginally Modern

I'm marginally modern, and I'm proud!

People are so hung up on labels these days. If you've been quilting for more than 5 years or so, you can probably remember when we were all just quilters. Today, it seems as though you have to qualify WHAT KIND of quilter you are.

I just want to make beautiful quilts!

So I made up my own label that suits me just fine. I am marginally modern! If modern traditionalism is the centerline between very traditional and very modern, then I'm just barely over the line on the modern side, aka marginally modern!

I wonder how many more marginally modern quilters there are out there? Are you one?

(Please keep comments to this post kind. We are all quilters, there is no right or wrong!)

March 14, 2015

What Does the Future Look Like from Here?

Today is my birthday. Birthdays are a wonderful time to reflect, take stock, make plans for the future.

Last month I became unemployed. The higher-ups, who know far more than me, decided to shut down my viable, important, meaningful-to-so-many-people company, leaving not only the thousands of quiltmakers who enjoy our books, but the team of the best authors, editors, artists and designers ever assembled (hyperbole intended) to create these books, without inspiration and without a job.

I think hit me so hard because a year ago, I made the decision to focus my career - my life - on book publishing, letting my personal ambitions fall by the wayside. I made the decision that The Modern Appliqué Workbook would be my last book and I would stop lecturing and teaching. And the blogging - that would stop too.

So now, here I lie on the floor with the rug gone wondering what happened.

I think I'll make a quilt!

(And I think I'll write another book or two, I'll teach some quilters how to appliqué and I'll talk to guilds about quiltmaking!)

March 9, 2015

How to Hang a Quilt 2015

Since I originally posted this 3 years ago, this has by far been my most popular and most shared post! I thought I'd update it again and fill you in on some more things I've learned since then.

Finally, a way to hang quilts that is easy and fast! And best of all, there's no hole in the wall, which makes swapping out different size quilts possible without dealing with damage.

Supplies needed:
  • Quilt with sleeve. There are tons of sleeve tutorials online, just Google: Quilt Sleeve Tutorial. Here's a good one at Tallgrass Prairie.
  • 1 1/4" wide baseboard (Found at any home improvement store) 
  • Damage free hanging hooks (Like Command brand, found at all big box stores. No affiliation, just like them.)
I use these hooks that hold 2 lbs. each. They hold well, and
they also hold the baseboard flush with the wall.
(There are small ones that only hold 1 lb. each,
make sure you get the medium size that holds 2 lbs.)
Here's how you do it:
1. Measure your quilt to determine how far apart to place the hooks on your wall. I like to make my sleeves 2" shorter than the quilt so I can put the hooks an inch in on each side. That way, you can't see the hooks from the side once the quilt is hung. 

From the front (and side), you can't see the baseboard or the hook!

2. Determine how far down from the ceiling you'd like you quilt. Measure and mark lightly with a pencil where you want the outer 2 hooks. 

3. Place the hooks on the wall according to the package directions. 

4. Cut the baseboard to length and insert it in the sleeve. I use a long length of baseboard that's roughly 1 1/4" x 1/4" thick. DH cuts it to size. For smaller quilts, you can find shorter lengths that might not have to be cut.

5. Hang your quilt. 
It's really that simple to hang a quilt!

Things to keep in mind:
Heavy quilts will need more hooks. Space them equally on the wall and snip a small vertical slit in the sleeve that matches up with the hooks. You can weigh your quilt and baseboard to get an idea of how many hooks you'll need. Err on the side of too many rather than too few.

Some paint won't hold the hooks very well. I have quilts in almost all the rooms in my house and I have one room that hooks just won't stay on the wall. If this happens, you can still use the baseboard, but get a LARGE picture hanger and nail it in the wall. This is my plan B in that room.

Why baseboard? I like using baseboard because you can get it in long lengths. Dowel rods tend to come in shorter lengths - shorter than many of the quilts I want to hang. Plus they sag easily. You can experiment with other sizes of baseboard or dowels. But, anything less than 1 1/4" wide baseboard will show the hooks peeking out on the top of your quilt. I like the sleek look of the quilts hung with no hooks showing.

Gook luck hanging your quilts and let me know your results. If you come up with any helpful tips, let me know that too!

November 21, 2014

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Vol. 10 Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Once again, I'm so happy to be a part of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks! I've been in 5 issues now and on the cover for the second time in this issue! Do you see it?

Well it might help to actually to show you the block so you can find it!

Crossing the Circles

I love this block! It's actually 4 - 6" blocks put together to make 1 - 12" block. I'm so in love with solids and deep, saturated colors! And of course I have to work in shades of gray in almost every quilt I make! It's a very simple block to make. You just appliqué the center circle and slice and add strips of gray. For full instructions, go to page 36 of Vol. 10. I can see a full quilt made of this block, or a border, or set alternated with plain squares of solid color. Almost anything goes with this block!

And now for the giveaway! One lucky quilter will receive a copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Vol. 10. Just leave a message telling me your favorite block (sorry, no bonus points for picking mine, but I'll be flattered!). I'll pick a winner early next week. Then, head to Quilty Pleasures, Quiltmaker's blog for more chances to win! Good luck!

November 16, 2014

Modern Applique Illusions Book Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Debra Kay Neiman, winner of Casey York's book, Modern Appliqué Illusions! I'll be getting in touch with you soon! Thanks to all who entered!
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