Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to Embellish a Quilt Top 

with Chenille By The Inch Shapes

There are so many people affected by breast cancer, and being among the group known as survivors, I decided to design a pink ribbon quilt. I introduced Awareness Ribbons pattern in 2012 to commemorate my four-year birthday. But as I designed the quilt, I realized that there are ribbons for so many different causes. Rather than name this pattern Pink Ribbons, I decided to name it Awareness Ribbons. The ribbon color can be changed for any specific cause. I'll give you a link at the bottom of this blog that will direct you to a site that gives the ribbon color for dozens of causes.

Mary Ellen Futch, my friend and quilt tester par excellence, recently remade the Awareness quilt top and wrote three blogs to show how to do several of the steps. There is a link to Mary Ellen's Blog at the end of this page. This is a continuation of those blogs. Here's the quilt top that Mary Ellen made and photographed.


How to Add Chenille By The Inch Pink Ribbons to a Quilt Top

The first step is to find the center of the block. I did that with a water-soluble pen and a ruler. Then I used a light box with the pattern taped to the center to trace the Ribbon. Tip: Go light on the marks when using a water-soluble pen. Make a dotted line rather than a heavy mark. Use ice water in a spray bottle to remove the ink.
It is easier to sew into a curve, so start sewing the chenille on the straight leg of the design. Rather than trying to cut the strip to fit, use one whole strip of Chenille By The Inch. I'll show you how to trim the excess later. Set your machine to a needle down position. I find that the automatic lock stitch on most machines is not secure enough to hold the strip when you begin to brush the chenille, therefore I make a reverse stitch or two at the beginning and end of each strip.
As you begin stitching into the curve of the ribbon, stitch slowly, taking one or two stitches and adjusting as needed to make it through the curve, Remember, needle down at all times. See how the chenille is beginning to ride up on the foot? Just lift the presser foot and...
 using a stylist, bamboo skewer or, as I often do, the tip of my seam ripper to slide the chenille strip under the foot. Continue to stitch and adjust through the curve.
 When you get to the end of the ribbon design, create a little kick-up like you see on most pink ribbons. This means a pretty tight curve. But once again, take it nice and easy, stitching a stitch or two and adjusting. The tip of my seam ripper comes in handy at this point.
Once the ribbon design is complete, do a reverse stitch, and remove the quilt from the machine. You will have a long tail of chenille left over.
Trim the excess chenille strip. Save the piece you cut off and...
start your next ribbon with it. If it looks like you will run out of this piece in the middle of the curve...
cut enough off of the strip to end before the curve of the ribbon top begins.
Then tuck a new piece of Chenille By The Inch under the strip you are stitching, using the tip of the seam ripper to lift the previous strip. Overlap about 1/8", continue to stitch.
 Here's the ribbon, stitched in place but still un-fluffed. Notice the ruffle on the curve and the overlap where we slipped the new chenille strip in place. When you fluff the chenille the ruffle and overlap will magically disappear.
 Here's a photo of the quilt top with all the ribbons sewn in place. Next step, I sent it to the long-arm quilter, Sew Pieceful Quilting, with special instruction to quilt around the ribbons, not over them. The chenille will not fluff if quilted over.
Look at this beautiful quilting that David and Karen did. It is perfect!
The next step is to fluff the chenille. Watch this video clip on fluffing. Use a circular motion to brush and mist the piece with water. If you add one or two drops of fabric softener to your water, it speeds up the fluffing process.
Once the chenille dries, look how fluffy it gets.

A special thanks to my friend Mary Ellen Futch for Blogging about this quilt in January 2014. You can read her Blog at

A special thanks to Karen and David Denny at Sew Pieceful Quilting (903-469-3464) for always doing a magnificent job with the quilting the Fabric Café quilts.
For a list of Awareness Ribbons with their meanings go to 

You may also enjoy my video, Quilting the quilt with Chenille By The Inch.

Friday, February 7, 2014

3 Yard Kits, Express Yourself!
Some quilters avoid kits because they don't want to make a quilt that looks just like one everyone else is making. Usually a quilt kit gives you no room to interject your creative impulses. But with Fabric Café 3 yard kits you have lots of choices that help turn your 3 yards into a quilt that is uniquely yours.  Here we have, 3, 1 yard cuts of fabric from the Fabric Café kit, Calypso Cats, a new quilt kit we just posted on
When I first started designing 3 yard patterns, I was intrigued with the way I could move the fabric around and make the quilt look different by just changing the fabric position. Each of my patterns requires one yard of fabric for each of 3 positions in the quilt.  As long as you cut all the same fabric for each position, you can move the position in which you place the fabric. Let's explore how you can take these 3, one yard cuts of fabric and make your quilt look different just by changing either the position of the fabric in the pattern, or by changing the pattern that you choose to make.

First, Let's move the fabric positions around. I suggest that you select the largest print in the #1 position. This means when you cut the fabric, the largest print will be placed in the largest block of the quilt. Next select your darkest fabric for the # 3 position. This will be your border. The remaining fabric is placed in your #2 position.
Now look at the 2 quilt tops below. On the left is Windmill 3 yard quilt pattern made by putting the largest print in the #1 position and the darkest in the #3 position. On the right, we swapped those positions and put the darkest fabric in the #1 position and the largest print in the #3 position. When you change the positions like this it looks like you've used a different pattern.
Now let's take the same 3, one yard cuts and make a quilt with our Pin Wheel quilt pattern (left) or the Picture Perfect quilt pattern which is in my new book, Quick 'N Easy 3 Yard Quilts  (on right). Each of these will make up in about  8 hours.

If you need to finish a quilt really fast. Your might choose one the following 3 yard quilt patterns. Checkmate on the left, Sew Quick on the right. You can usually finish each top in about 6 hours.
It's a fun exercise to take 3, one yard cuts of fabric and know you could achieve so much diversity by simply changing positions of the fabric, or changing the pattern. Many customers tell me they can make the same pattern over and over because they never get bored. The tops all have their own unique personality!
New Feature in our Web Store!
We are introducing a new feature on! You can see our newest 3 yard quilts made with a secondary pattern suggestion. Although only the newest kits have this feature, if you like it, let us know and we will do more. Here's how to check it out:
Go to When the page opens you will see the fabric swatches on the left and a Pin Wheel quilt top on the right. Now run your cursor across the Pin Wheel quilt photo and a secondary quilt will pop up. Isn't that neat! Now tell me if we should continue to add this feature to all our kits. 
Bonus Information
What if you already have the quilt pattern that is shown in the kit photo? Simply write a note in the comments section of your order that you would like to substitute the pattern. Be sure to tell us which individual pattern you would prefer. We will send that one as your free pattern. As I have shown here, any pattern works with any 3 yards, so you might as well get a pattern you don't already have! Please note that the patterns in the book, are not available in individual patterns and can not be named as a substitute. The book, Quick & Easy 3 yard Quilts is available for $15.99.