Home from QuiltCon and a visit with my daughter

I had a great time at QuiltCon and a wonderful visit with my daughter and her husband in Austin, Texas.  I must have been busy while on “vacation” because I was so tired when I got home; it was the most wonderful feeling just to close my eyes.

I took lots of pictures of the convention and the amazing quilts.  QuiltCon is hosted by the Modern Quilt Guild and the show had a vibrant and energetic feel to it.  It was one of my favorite shows for that reason, but also because it wasn’t too big or too small.  It wasn’t too crowded or under-crowded.  It was just right!  Do I sound like Goldilocks?


I want to show you all of the quilts that I got pictures of, but I still need to edit them and that’s going to take a while.  I DO have a few pictures of some of the booths and some new tools, etc. that came home with me (as if it was an accident).

First of all, I got to meet the lovely Vanessa Christenson of V and Co.  She was promoting her latest book, Simply Color: Red.

simply color red

This is the first book in a color series.  I bought my copy right there and had Vanessa autograph it.  Vanessa also designs fabric for Moda.  Her latest line, Color Theory, is a favorite of mine.

autographed book

I love the beautiful photography and the projects in this book!

simply colorcolor red love


I bought a few Bloc Loc rulers that seemed useful.  I already own a set of the flying geese rulers and hst rulers.  Now I own a drunkard’s path ruler and a strip set ruler.

bloc loc rulers copy


They had a busy booth with demos and lots of rulers!

bloc loc booth


I might have a serious weakness for these cute mini-charm packs.  I have stacks of them along with good intentions of using them all!

mini charm packis


I found the Steady Betty booth and had a nice talk with the owners.  Their biggest product is the Steady Betty pressing board.  They also make some other useful tools such as the Steady Stiletto (which I now own) and the Betty Bands (which I already had).  The Betty Bands are awesome for free motion quilting.

steady betty


I had so much fun shopping (with the blessing of Mr. Crafty Quilter) that I had to borrow an extra suitcase from my daughter just to get all the precious loot home!  The booths were full of eye candy.  Below you’ll see Michael Miller, Riley Blake, Superior Threads and Sizzix.Booth collage 1


And the MQG had a booth along with Shannon Fabrics, Windham Fabrics and even a tattoo booth for the adventurous quilters:

Booth collage 2


I had fun volunteering for several shifts and got to meet some very nice people.  I went to thee lectures and one workshop.  The workshop was with Cristy Fincher and it was about straight line quilting on a sit down longarm (HQ Sweet Sixteen) using rulers.  Cristy is an awesome quilter and teacher.

cristy sitting


The subject of this class wasn’t quite perfect for me, but the tips that I got were worth every penny.  Plus I have wanted to try out one of these machines and this was a great opportunity to give it a good test drive.  My final impression is that it’s a nice machine, but I’m not ready to invest yet.

The quilt samples that Cristy brought to the class were gorgeous.  The combination of color, fabric and quilting was amazing.

cristy standing


It was fun running into friends.  My Granary buddies were always there when I needed them:

granary girls at quiltcon

Sarah, Julie & Mary Kay via Instagram


Instagram was the name of the game.  It seemed everyone followed each other and strangers became friends instantly.  I was spotted by MQG staff because of my bag (that I created) and I made it to their feed.  Just wearing this bag was a conversation started for me (more so than Instagram).

mqg bag at quilcon


One of the highlights of my trip was spending time with my daughter, Kelly, and her husband, Steven.  I stayed at their house almost every night, and we got to spend some quality time together.  Kelly is 4 1/2 months pregnant and just starting to show.  Her baby bump is hidden in the picture below, but I swear that she grew from the time I got there to when I left!

kelly and mom 2015

The advantage of staying with locals from Austin is knowing where to eat.  They took us to the most amazing restaurants and food trucks (which are very popular in Austin).  It was foodie heaven!

I’ll be back to Texas soon (to see my first grandbaby at the very least)!  QuiltCon will be moving around the country from now on.  I’m a little sad that it will be leaving Austin, but next year it will be in my home state:  Pasadena, California.

If you ever have a chance to go to a quilt show/convention, you should definitely go. Do you have a favorite show that you attend?  I’m lucky to have the Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) in my own backyard and it’s a big show.  It has gotten so big, that the crowds are a little overwhelming.  I need to venture out to some others, and I’m so glad I got the chance to go to QuilCon.  I’ll be back soon with pictures of the quilts from the show.


My favorite tools for machine applique

Today I want to tell you about my FAVORITE tools for machine applique.  There are 8 items that I rely on to make me and my applique happy!

applique tools

I love adding applique to my quilting projects.  In one of my machine applique classes, a student asked me what my favorite tools are for applique.  So this is my list of top machine applique tools that I use all of the time!

Note:  You can find most of these items at your local quilt shop, which would be my first choice since I love to support the brick and mortar stores.  I’ve provided links for you as well, if you can’t find these items locally or you want to know more about them.  Some of these are affiliate links. I will receive a small commission if you purchase an item, but it won’t add to your cost.  These links have no influence or bearing on anything I’m recommending in this post.

1. First-Time Machine Applique, by Janet Pittman.  This is the book I use in my classes and it is the best book I’ve come across for machine applique.

book editedIt’s very detailed and the photography is excellent.  It’s a must-have reference book for every aspect of machine applique.

book page 1


2.  Karen Kay Buckley Perfect Scissors.  These scissors are a dream to cut with and worth every penny!  They have a micro-serrated blade so the scissors really grip the fabric as you’re cutting, resulting in more accurate and smooth pieces.  Plus, the fabric won’t ravel as easily because of the micro serration.  I promise you’ll love them!  I use the 7 1/2″ size for larger shapes and the 6-Inch scissors for more detailed/smaller pieces.

Karen Kay Buckley Perfect Scissors


3.  Open toe applique foot.  This is a must for machine applique.  If your sewing machine doesn’t come with this foot, you can probably purchase it from your dealer.

open toe applique feet

The foot has nothing in front of the needle to obstruct your view.  It makes the placement of your stitches much more accurate and easy.

pink tulip pivot point


4. Thermoweb Heat N Bond Lite Iron on Adhesive.  This is my favorite fusible web at the moment. I’ll be testing the new Quilter’s Select products by Floriani and Alex Anderson soon and I’ll report back to you.  For now, I like this one because it’s so easy to work with.  It’s easy to tell which side to draw your applique shapes onto (the paper side) and the paper doesn’t peel away until you’re ready for it to.  It’s light enough that my applique isn’t too stiff but it has a good bond that I feel will hold everything in place until I’m ready to stitch.

Heat 'N Bond Lite

Example of Heat n Bond Lite


5. Ricky Tims Stable Stuff Poly.  This is a stabilizer that I use on most all of my applique projects.  Like the name says, it adds stability to my applique so that when I stitch around my applique shapes, everything lays flat.

Ricky Tims' Stable Stuff Poly

If you’ve ever had skipped stitches or “tunneling”, this will get rid of that problem.  When you’re through stitching, you tear away the stabilizer from the outside of the applique shape, but you can leave it on the inside of the shape.  Eventually it softens to a thin, cotton-like layer that adds just a bit of lift to your applique.

stabilzer sample words


6.  Applique Pressing Sheet.  This is a handy tool for applique.  It’s coated with a non-stick surface so nothing adheres to it and it can withstand high temperatures.  Sometimes I use it between my iron and my applique shapes to keep any exposed fusible off of my iron. It’s also see-thru so you can use it on top of your applique template and build a complex shape onto the pressing sheet, peel the shape off, and then fuse the shape as a whole onto your background fabric.  Any mistakes will happen on the pressing sheet and not on your background fabric.

tulip placed on sheet


7.  Magnifico Thread and DMC Machine Embroidery Thread.  These two products are my go-to threads for machine applique.

DMC machine embroidery thread and Magnifico Thread

The Magnifico thread by Superior Threads is made of strong trilobal polyester and it has a beautiful sheen that really brightens an applique project.  You can see it in the green thread used on the leaf and stem below:

flower thread green copy

The DMC embroidery thread is 100% cotton and blends well with most fabrics, resulting in a smooth, beautiful stitch. I used this thread in the orange portion of the flower and I used Magnifico thread in the teal petals.

flower thread copy2


8.  Clover bias tape maker.  Whenever I need vines or stems, I use the Clover bias tape maker.  It is the easiest and fastest way to get a bias strip with a turned edge. This allows you to bend and curve the strip gracefully with no frayed edges.  I use the 1/4″ and 3/8″ tape makers most often.  Tip:  use a little spray starch on your bias strip BEFORE you run it through the bias tape maker.  It will hold its shape much better.


These are my basic tools for machine applique.  I use them just about every time I start a new project.  If I could add one luxury item, it would be a sewing machine that can do a decent blanket stitch.  My favorite machine for that is my Bernina 440 QE.  It makes the best blanket stitch I have ever seen and it allows you to adjust the width and length of the stitch any way you want. In other words, there are no default settings that get in my way.  I can make my blanket stitch .8 wide and 1.2 long if I want.  These micro-adjustments are SO nice. Plus it has a 4 different blanket stitches to choose from.  Many (if not most) of the Bernina machines come with these stitches.

Blanket Stitch on Bernina 440 QE

If you’re new to applique, you’ll find my 3-part Applique Series very helpful.  I’ve also got a tutorial for invisible machine applique (aka turned edge machine applique) that is worth looking at, too.

Do you have a favorite applique tool?  Feel free to share in the comments.  We’d love to hear about it!

Linking up with Late Night Quilter, Blossom Heart Quilts, Quilt Shop Gal and Freemotion by the River.


Hearts to share

Hey everyone!  First, I want to welcome all of the new followers from Bloglovin’!  I’m not sure why, but this week I’ve gotten lots of attention from the folks over there.  Thanks for choosing to hang out with me!

I have some hearts to share with you all today.  There’s something about February 14th that I love.  Could it be the hearts or the chocolate or the significant other?  Maybe all of those things!  I know, you either love it or hate it depending on your status: single or double?  I hope you’re on the double side!

I made this little Valentine for you that includes one of my favorite quotes:

Perfect Valentine

I’m certainly not perfect, but I know that I’m perfectly loved!  (Thank you Mr. Crafty Quilter).

If you’re new to my blog, I have a few heart projects from years past that you might like.  I’ll start with one of my favorites which is the Home is Where the Heart is Pillow.  You could use this any time of the year:

Home is Where the Heart is Pillow Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter


If you want a little project with some applique, then you might try the LOVE Letters Mini Quilt. It’s a great way to add a touch of red to a corner:

Love Letters Mini Quilt at The Crafty Quilter


I did a tutorial for the Moda Bakeshop a few years ago that included a Flirtatious Hearts Table Topper and Heart Pincushion.  You can see more FMQ detail from the quilt here.

Flirtatious Hearts Table Topper & Pincushions


And just recently, I shared a tutorial to use some scrap fabric and burlap to make the Hearts & Burlap Canvas.

Hearts & Burlap Canvas Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter


On a different note, If you’ve been waiting to take a class at Craftsy, now is the time.  Starting today they’re having a Sweetest Valentine’s Sale with up to 50% off classes.  Sale ends February 16th.

Sweetest Craftsy Sale


I don’t want to leave you feeling too mushy.  Here’s another valentine I made for you that really speaks to my heart:

chocolate valentine


Have a great weekend!  I hope it’s filled with love AND chocolate!


Let’s talk magazines

It’s time for another “Let’s Talk” discussion where you get to participate by using the comment section.  So today… Let’s talk magazines!

Let's Talk Button framedThe other day I retrieved my mail and found 3 quilting magazines in the stack!  That’s what I call happy mail!  And then two days later another magazine arrived.  Followed by an e-zine delivered to my iPad.  Does this sound familiar?

magazine discussions

I have always had a weakness for magazines. They bring me so much joy and I love sifting through the pages and discovering new ideas, not to mention tons of inspiration.

magazines in basket

And it’s so hard to throw away a good magazine.  I want to save them because there’s a recipe or a few projects or one idea that I know I’m going to want to refer back to later.

This is how my magazine-reading process usually goes:

Stage 1:  The first thing I do when I get a new magazine is a quick scan.  I thumb through it and look at the main projects.

Stage 2:  Then, when I have time for a more leisurely peruse, I read it from cover to cover.  I’ll dog-ear the pages that I want to go back to or save for later.

Stage 3:  This is where I get into trouble.  I let it sit for a month.  And then another magazine gets placed on top of it.  Then it becomes a stack of magazines.  And then I move my stack and add it to the other stack in my sewing room.  Then it becomes a mountain!

Stage 4:  Go through the most accessible stack and tear out the pages I want to save.  Put those pages in a box.  The rest of the magazine goes into the recycle bin.

magazine stages

Stage 5:  Truth be told, I never get to stage 5.  It should look something like this: file the magazine pages into binders or folders…. or just put them in the recycle bin and move on to the next project.

The best I can do is point you in the direction of someone else’s organizational skills.  Check out Laura at Make Life Lovely.  She has a great method for handling all of those saved magazine pages.



Or check out at what Kate at Centsational Girl did with all of her dog-eared magazine pages:

What to do with dog eared pages @ Centsational Girl

The Dog-Eared Pages @ Centsational Girl


Aimee at It’s Overflowing has a great file system for organizing her recipes that works for any subject matter:


It’s Overflowing


And for the tech savvy, check out how Claire at Claire K Creations uses Evernote to save her magazine clippings.  I use Evernote, but I haven’t tried scanning my magazine articles and then saving them there.  I love that idea, and I’m seriously thinking about getting a scanner and going for it!


Claire K Creations


Do you have a system that works for you?  Please tell us about it in the comment section!

And while you’re there (commenting that is), what’s your favorite quilting or diy magazine?  I know, it’s hard to pick just one.  How many do you subscribe to?  I’ll fess up and tell you that I’m currently getting 7 quilt magazines delivered to my mailbox (includes the 6 pictured below).

mail mags

quilter's mags


And then there are the special issues that come out occasionally that I can’t resist:

Specialty mags


And the ones that I find at the news stand that I have to read:

new mags


Including the more modern/new ones:

modern mags


I receive the digital issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting on my iPad:

digital magazine


And these magazines can only be found under my bed in the archives as they have become “extinct”:

old magazines


The sad (or wonderful) thing is that the magazines I’ve mentioned so far aren’t the only ones.  I know there are more out there, I just don’t own them (shocking, but true).  Australian Patchwork & Quilting and Quilting Arts are a few that come to mind.

I think my favorites of the bunch (at this precise moment) are Quilt Now and Love Patchwork & Quilting.  These are both published in the UK and feature a more contemporary style of patchwork.  I like the modern esthetic and the beautifully photographed projects they include.  If you’re in the US, Quilt Now can be ordered as a subscription through Pink Castle Fabrics.  You can also find digital subscriptions to both of these magazines (which is how I get LP&Q).

Speaking of digital magazines, I also love Fat Quarterly eZine.  This is a digital-only magazine and it is full of wonderful projects and inspiration.  I even contributed to one of their issues a few years ago.

I have to say, I’m enjoying the digital format much more than I thought I would.  I think I might convert most of my subscriptions to digital-only as they come up for renewal.  Maybe.  There’s still nothing like thumbing through that open magazine and really feeling those pages in your hand.  Something to think about!

Last, I wanted to mention a few magazines that come from Issuu.  This is an electronic publishing platform that allows you to follow your favorite publishers and companies as well as create your own magazines!  The great thing is some of these publications are free!  My favorite comes from Jacquelynne Steves and it’s called The Art of Home.  She puts her heart into this magazine and makes it available to everyone.  Another one to consider is from Moda Fabrics/United Notions.  This is another great source of inspiration!

So, am I the only one out there with this, ahem, “issue” of magazine love?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Thanks for reading and not judging me.

Julie(Just so you know, no affiliate links were used in this post).

January’s UFO complete and February is out of the closet

I have January’s UFO complete and February is out of the closet!  I love checking things off of my list, especially when it results in a finished quilt top.  This year I decided to tackle my growing UFO pile and so I’m participating in the 2015 UFO Challenge at All People Quilt.

My challenge for January was to finish last year’s Classic Meets Modern BOM at Sew At Home Mummy.  I made each block in a different color resulting in a rainbow of quilt blocks!

Classic Meets Modern Quilt Sampler by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter


Each block had a classic design origin and was tweaked a bit to give it a modern twist.  Let me show you a few of my favorites.  This red block was named the Christmas Star block.  I love the fussy cut bicycle in the center.

Classic Meets Modern Quilt Sampler by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter


These flying geese have a zippy setting.  I didn’t like the color of one of mine, so I just replaced it with a plain background rectangle.  That’s a totally brave thing for me to do!

Classic Meets Modern Quilt Sampler by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter


And then my very favorite, the drunkard’s path block.  This type of curved piecing was a first for me.  I love the setting and the colors.  It looks like Sunshine meets King Crab!

Classic Meets Modern Quilt Sampler by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter


I chose to put sashing around each block and I sewed them together with a straight setting.  And then I decided to jazz it up just a little in the borders.  I came up with this pieced border which extends the colors outward and has a nice contrast with the grays I used.

Classic Meets Modern Quilt Sampler by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter


I had my daughter hold it up for me in front of the window so I could get a picture.  I ended up with a silhouette of Nicole and a stained glass quilt!

Classic Meets Modern Quilt Sampler by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter

Today I’m handing it over to my trusty longarm quilter, Jody, to quilt it for me.  Then it will be back in my court to add the final binding.

The magic number for February is 7.  That means that the seventh UFO on my list is the one I’ll be working on this month.  APQ Challenge Feb copy


That is my Snowflower Quilt which I bought as a kit many years ago.  I began piecing it about 6 years ago and then it sat for a few years.  Then I finished the top and it sat again for a year or two.  It’s been basted and partially quilted for over a year now.  I think it’s percolated long enough!

Snowflower Quilt UFO

This quilt is made with Christmas fabrics.  I’ve used wood batting and I’ve stitched in the ditch.  My daughter’s cat thinks it’s just fine the way it is.

Snowflower Quilt UFO

I used a blue water soluble pen to draw a poinsettia in each snowball block.  This was also done a few years ago and some of the block’s markings have faded.  Now I know that the blue pen marks don’t last forever (which is a good thing usually).  Hopefully they will still disappear when I get them wet.

Snowflower Quilt UFO

I’m off to a good start with the UFO busting.  I might keep this up for a few more months before I fall off the wagon.  That’s usually what happens.  It’s like dieting and exercising.  I’m good for a while and then I get lazy.  Cookies start to bake themselves in the oven, and too many other projects start calling my name!

I’ll be back later this week to talk about quilt magazines with you.  I’ll tell you my favorites if you tell me yours!