Tutorial Tuesdays

Mark it with a “B”…

Tutorial Tuesdays headerDo you remember the nursery rhyme that included, “mark it with a B for the baby and me”? So the greater question is: What did they mark it with? Ok, so it may not change childhood for anyone in the near future but for quilters marking it with the correct device is sooooo important.  A couple more questions for you to ponder:

Did you ever mark your fabric with something that wouldn’t wash out?

Did you ever mark your fabric with something that vanished before you were finished?


Color Pens

Proper tools make any job easier and ensure success,   so here’s a bit of info that we’ve collected about marking tools.

CHALK MARKING—can all be rubbed away or brushed with a damp cloth

  • Chalk pencils—can be sharpened with a standard pencil sharpener
  • Chalk markers—a container that holds loose chalk and marks with chalk powder run through a serrated wheel
  • Chalk powder—a small fabric bag containing loose chalk to be “pounced” on a perforated pattern or stencil

TEMPLATE MARKING—a standard pencil form with a special lead for marking on plastic templates; remove from plastic with damp cloth; do NOT use on fabric.

Air soluble

Air soluble

TEMPORARY FABRIC MARKING—used to transfer quilting, applique or embroidery lines onto fabric; some have extra fine points.

  • Water soluble—can be removed with plain water (some detergents have chemicals that will make the ink permanent), usually blue in color
  • Disappearing-ink or air-soluble—disappears within 24-72 hours of marking or can be removed with plain water
  • FriXion pens—iron out inks; best with dry iron and pre-washed fabrics


PERMANENT FABRIC MARKING—for journaling, labeling, or signature quilts

  • Black Fine Line—ink will not wash out. Better for detailing
  • Colored Inks—for specific shading or coordination

FABRIC MARKING PENCILS—for transferring quilting line or embroidery designs

  • Water-soluble Pencil—marks can be removed with damp cloth; blue or white for light and dark fabrics; Erasable with a fabric eraser
  • Mechanical pencil—lead marks lines for consistent thickness; lead thickness fits most additional tools (ruler slots; ¼” wheels, etc.)
  • Soapstone—naturally soft, fabric safe substance. Good on dark fabrics; gently rub off marks.
Water soluable

Water soluble

So there you have it.  Mark it with a “B” for Best Tool Tips.

PS: Did you notice that this Tutorial is coming to you on Wednesday? Not Tuesday.  “Someone” marked it wrong!



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Tutorial Tuesday: Parlor Pillow / Crazy Quilting

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“Crazy” comes in many forms (note I didn’t say faces!) but one of the prettiest forms is that of Crazy Quilting.  I’m beginning a list of reasons why I love it.  Feel free to add to the list in the comments.

  1. It is SO Victorian
  2. It uses scrap fabric
  3. It shows a great variety in the embroidery stitching
  4. It is easy to hide your mistakes (with embellishments)
  5. It has no wrong way for the fabric grain
  6. It can be made to any size
  7. Your turn…



The basics are that you sew a piece to the base fabric and then just keep adding it on and on and on. But when I looked for a tutorial that actually showed it happening, I drew a blank.  Had the technique been fully explained?  Was it just too simple to post? I found the perfect set of instructions here.

Cindy's quilt for cover

Ok, so I cheated a little.  That is really our own pattern from the Mother’s Medallion line.  We used crazy quilting first in the corners of the center of the Mother’s Medallion quilt (You can get the E-book pattern HERE.)


and then it led to the Parlor Pillow.

for printing

Note the center of the larger one has an interchangeable hexagon.  The pattern includes a Trading Hearts plan for swapping embellishments and fabric. The REAL key to this is the Tips and Tricks that are included.  Don’t tell my sister I’m posting them here.

Tips & Tricks for Crazy Quilting:
Sew RST with a ¼” seam and then press toward outside edge.
Make sure your pieces are long enough to cover the last raw edge. You can trim to fit after it is sewn.
Do not start or sew completely to the ends of your fabric piece. (Makes it easier to trim and less likely to have gaps.)
Do not back-stitch beginnings or endings of seams.
Join smaller pieces together before adding to the base piece (especially for long seams).
For interest, sew pieces on to create diagonal lines or angles.
For corners, stitch the longest seam and use a press mark as a guide to cut off excess, then top-stitch the second edge. Cover with embellishment.
An occasional raw edge is fine, it can be covered with embellishment.
Use color placement to balance textures. (Audition a piece before sewing.)


Once your fabric is in place, it is time to really go crazy with the “extras”.  I found lots of info on the symbolism of the shapes found on crazy quilts.  A great site gave some of the following list.

  • owls were a symbol of wisdom
  • eagles resembled courage and a military career for a family member
  • lions represented royalty and nobility
photo 7

This is from a quilt, a gift from the Yale family, used courtesy of Norma Young.

  • butterflies symbolized the soul
  • frogs were a “sin”
  • a pansy, in the language of flowers, meant “think of me”
photo 21

This quilt, a gift from the Yale family, is used courtesy of Norma Young.

  • dogs were loyalty
  • peacocks, incorruptibility
  • spider webs were a symbol of luck
photo 1

Used courtesy of Norma Young.

  • clasped hands meant good bye or farewell
  • fans…the list is too long
photo 31

This quilt, a gift from the Yale family, is used courtesy of Norma Young.

A complete history is given on the caron collection. Make it your next read while you’re sorting scraps to begin a crazy quilted “something”.

photo 3

Used courtesy of Norma Young.


Used courtesy of Norma Young.

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Tutorial Tuesday: Log Cabin

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Quick Quiz Question: How far back in history do we find the Log Cabin design?

  1. 1860’s – designed to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.
  2. 1600’s – designed during colonial days by Dutch settlers.
  3. 1976 – designed in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial of the USA.
  4. It has been found in drawings of ancient civilizations.


“Hmmm – It makes me think of Abe Lincoln so probably 1860s.”

If you’re trying to win the big prize jackpot you probably will want do some research or Phone a Friend before you make that your final answer.

SPOILER ALERT: Here’s the answer …

The log cabin design has been found in drawings in ancient Egypt! I’m fairly sure they didn’t call it Log Cabin, though.

Egyptian log cabin


We at Sisters at Heart haven’t usually associated Log Cabin with Egyptian design at all. At least until recently when my friend Marilyn Stephani did a presentation on the Log Cabin block for the Pensacola Quilt Guild. I learned a lot

courthouse steps

(Did you know that Courthouse Steps is technically in the Log Cabin category?)

and came away with some new ideas for using this very old design. Like this basket made from two log cabin blocks.



Marilyn’s presentation included Power Point. We are including it here – Log Cabin Power Point – with her permission, so that you can share it with your club or guild.


Log Cabin is one of those great blocks that looks harder than it is.

The block starts with a center square, referred to as the hearth (that is why traditionally it’s red-for the fire in the hearth.) Although some people make the center yellow and call it “light in the window.” OR,  you can make it brown and call it mud on the windows. (I just made that up.) Okay, I can hear the Colorado sister telling me to get back to the main thing…

 from all about quiltsAfter choosing the center square, you then stitch strips around the center square, each strip long enough to cover the previous two pieces.


Checking for accuracy often is a really good idea because after several seams a little inaccuracy adds up to a big” catty whampus” (That’s a technical term for mess.) Or, you can use the foundation paper piecing method for exact stitching every time.

Log Cabin is one of those great blocks that is SO versatile. If you make an asymmetrical Log Cabin you have even more setting options – some of which will produce a round or wavy design.

 off centered quilting with Roxanne

Or you can change it up a little and make it into a rose. That’s what we have done in our latest use of this ancient idea – and we put it on a picnic basket lid. If you’ve never done Log Cabin and you aren’t sure it you want to get into a whole quilt, you might think about doing the basket lid as a starter project.

 MM Picnic Basket Lid

The beauty of this design idea is that it can be adjusted to any size picnic basket. After you have made your log cabin block, just add borders until you have enough to cover the lid of the basket. Or – you can use two log cabins.

log cabin rose basket for web

What if you want to use the idea but your basket doesn’t have a lid? Well, there is a way to make a lid for your basket. You can get the pattern on our etsy store HERE.


PS – Over at Stitched in Color, you might enjoy her Log Cabin quilt as you go tutorial. Check it out HERE.

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Tutorial Tuesday: Thermal fabric & a mitt for the Bar-B-Q

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While we are all in celebration mode, we want to talk about this Barb-B-Q / oven mitt, a PS project from the Let Freedom Ring Collection.

PS Projects are FREE patterns that we add to our different pattern collections. You can find them all in our Brag Book. 

oven mitt 2

Our Really Big Hat Uncle Sam applique is included in the “for sale” patterns of the Let Freedom Ring Collection.

This quick bar-b-q/oven mitt will add to the comfort and the theme of your party. Using the Let Freedom Ring basic background block,

freedom star prototype sm

This is Freedom Star, the signature block for Let Freedom Ring Collection.

and a quick trim of prairie points, you will have a great accent in no time. See the Prairie Points Tips and Tricks page for a tutorial on this colorful trim.

prairie points

Official Opinion from the Florida Sister: You can never have too many Prairie Points!

You’ll need to sew some insulation type fabric between the outside and the lining in order to keep your hand protected. Make sure that you place the shiny side toward the heat source (i.e. facing the outside of the mitt).

Which brings us to the “tutorial” part of this post: advice regarding thermal fabrics. Your options fall into three basic categories (*none of which are safe for microwaving because of the metallic properties in them): 

  • Thermal Batting, which has insulating properties.
  • Thermal Fabric, which can withstand high temperatures without scorching.
  • Thermal Interfacing, which is a lighter weight insulating option.

We end to use Insulbright for projects that involve the oven (i.e. high heat). Isulbright has a reflective metalized poly film in it which resists radiant energy by reflecting it back to its source. Did we mention to make sure that you place the shiny side toward the heat source (i.e. facing the outside of the mitt).

We love this fabric because it is easy to cut, machine washable, and is quite nice to work with – though a bit slippery. Though it is in the batting category, The Warm Company does suggest you layer Insul-Bright with a standard cotton batting if you are using it for a high-heat application.

You can get your FREE instruction sheet HERE.


This is a Quick and Easy project!

Tip: For an “explosive” hostess gift, fill it with grilling tools or marinate mixes.

*One exception to the “do not microwave” rule is Wrap-N-Zap by Pellon, which is specifically designed to be microwaved.

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Tutorial Tuesday: Food Bowl Covers

Welcome to “Tutorial Tuesdays”

Tutorial Tuesdays headerTake a peek at the first of these FREE patterns with some tips that will make your Tuesday seem like Friday!

Continuing the Red White & Blue theme from your table to the frig(?) is easy with these simple (and freefood bowl covers.  They are adjustable for every size and you can embellish with the words or figures from your Let Freedom Ring patterns.

Tip #1:  Use bias tape to make the casing for the elastic and it will follow the curve easily.

Tip #2: Ric-rac is a quick embellishment that adds texture & color.

Tip #3: One size fits MANY.  Make it larger and it will cover more sizes.

So easy as 1,2,3 get the free pattern from the link above.

bowl-cover-2-webPotato salad never tasted so good…Actually, our family uses the age old “Frog Eye Salad” instead.  Recipe is belowbowl-cover-1-web


On the day before serving, cook the following ingredients together to form a thickened sauce:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon flour

3/4 cup pineapple juice (drained & reserved from can)

1 beaten egg

1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice

Cook 8 oz. Acini de pepe (tiny pasta) in 2 quarts boiling water, lightly salted.  Drain & rinse.  Cool slightly and mix with sauce.  Refrigerate overnight.  Add 15 oz. can drained mandarin oranges, 20 oz. can drained, pineapple chunks, 10 oz. drained, crushed pineapple, fresh red grapes, 8 oz cartoon of frozen whipped cream.  Optional: sliced bananas or marshmallows.  Serve cold and store in refrigerator.


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