Friday, January 31, 2020

Newsletter: End of the Year Recap and More!


I don't even have any pictures to share with you from last month's Student Open House (argh!!)!!   But, that's a definitely a sign that it was such an meaningful time for me that I never even thought to take pictures (I am still boo hooing over that, though)!  I am so glad I opened up my home and that you accepted the invitation, making the trek to Elizabethtown!  I was a little nervous, I have to admit, and I had a few "what in the world was I thinking?!!" moments when I was getting my house in order ahead of time, but I'm so grateful we did it!  It gave me a renewed appreciation for my home, and a fresh motivation to keep my sewing spaces organized so that I'll be ready to sew when I have a spare moment.  The only downside was that I didn't know what to do with myself for several weeks afterwards because I didn't want to mess up the house - ha ha!


I love making Too Cool T-shirt quilts!  I blocked off the week before Christmas to complete two t-shirt quilts for customers, and was super pleased with how they turned out!  Each time I make one, I tweak my technique a bit, and think I'm finally happy with how I go about it now.  We just did a class recently, and I love introducing the method to students.  It is surprisingly easy once you understand the secrets, and t-shirt quilt recipients are always grateful.  We'll be offering another class this summer; let me know if you're interested, and I keep you posted on the date!


These zip pouches are by far the coolest project I've ever done....  

I was able to make vinyl zip pouches for my sisters and sister-in-law for Christmas from my mom's wedding dress pattern and her receipt for the bridal fabrics.

I made a pouch from one of my dad's patterns as well!  I am beyond thrilled with how they turned out.  You can click hereto read more about them on my blog.


We had the loveliest fluffy snowfall a few weeks ago.  I have grand visions of photographing of my quilts in a setting that complements them perfectly, so when that actually happens, I am ecstatic!  With a friend's help, I was able to take a few pictures that day in the tiny window of time after the icy roads had melted and before the snow blew off the trees.  We  even captured the magic of an unexpected snow squall in a few of the pictures!  This Starburst Quilt is a super easy pattern from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Click here for the tutorial.


As always, I have a zillion ideas floating around in my head for new classes.  Remixed Geese is the newest class in the lineup!  I loved making this quilt; the Wing Clipper ruler is a game changer when it comes to flying geese, and I would love to introduce it to you!  I can't wait to make another version out of my Denyse Schmidt fabrics.  Click here to register! 

Thanks for reading and staying in touch!


Vinyl Zip Pouches from Vintage Patterns

These zip pouches still give me the goosebumps....

When my siblings were cleaning out my parents' house this past summer,  they found a box containing my mother's wedding dress pattern, scraps of the bridal fabric, and even the receipt....

I knew my mother's wedding dress was long gone.  I can still remember the day when she threw it out....  It had been stored in the farmhouse attic, and at some point the roof had leaked.  When my mother discovered that her dress had been ruined, she simply threw it out....  That always haunted me!  She seemed OK with it (at least from what I had observed as a child), but I always wished that she had saved it so that we could have salvaged at least something from it.

So, imagine my surprise when my sister presented me with the newly-found box of scraps.  I was thrilled!  But, it wasn't until a few months later when I opened the box to sift through it again that I discovered the receipt!!  It's the coolest document ever to me; it lists my mother's maiden name,  the address of where she was living at the time, the yardage amounts for her dress and her two bridesmaids' dresses,  how much they paid for all the fabric, and the date.  It even documents that weddings weren't such a big deal back then - my mother bought all that fabric on August 10, made her dress, and was married by the end of September of that same year.  Done.

I love that the pattern lists her name in pencil and documents her tiny size.  

I think she even looks a bit like the bride in the pattern!

I knew I wanted to do something with the pattern for my sisters and sister-in-law for Christmas, but what??  I was so grateful that the idea for these zip pouches came to me one day in class when I was chatting about it with some of my students.

  The pouch made out of the receipt is backed with some of the bridal fabric scraps.

We also came across one of my dad's shirt patterns, so it made the perfect zip pouch as well.

I love the "J. J. Newberry Co." stamp!!

It took me a little bit to figure out just how to I wanted to do them, but I am tickled with the results!

Here's how I went about it:
After ironing a piece of Kona cotton (color PFD) fabric onto a sheet of freezer paper, I fed the fabric through my ink jet printer and photocopied the images onto it.

Then, I ironed some fusible vinyl onto the fabric.  Just be sure to cover it with a press cloth before fusing.

I trimmed the zippers, added zipper tabs, and turned the photocopied fabric into a zip pouch using this method.
They are easy to make as long as you have an ink jet printer that will feed the fabric through easily.

I am so, so pleased with how these turned out!!

Now I can't stop thinking about what else I can turn into vinyl zip pouches....

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Too Cool T-shirt Quilts

Last month I made two t-shirt quilts in one week for customers to give as Christmas presents and was reminded of just how much I love this method of constructing t-shirt quilts!  
In fact, if someone asks me to make one with sashing or simple squares, I try to get out of it....  :)
This method is fun and doesn't feel tedious or boring.   Plus, customers and recipients are impressed with your expertise and can't figure out how you were able to pull it off - definitely the sweet spot all sewists dream of!

First of all, you'll need a copy of the book by Andrea Funk and Millie Funk.  Previous editions are perfectly fine to use too.  It can be a little hard to source, so you may need to ask your local quilt shop to order it for you.

I follow the method outlined in the book, except I do like to stabilize my shirts with a fusible interfacing.  I use the cheapest, lightest weight interfacing I can find.  Even though it's a little more time consuming, I find it makes the process so much easier in the long run.

Also, instead of having plexiglass templates made, I simply use the following rulers:
16-1/2 x 16-1/2"
12-1/2 x 12-1/2"
8-1/2" x 8-1/2"
4-1/2" x 4-1/2"

Additionally, I find a 2" ruler (not 2-1/2") used along with the 16-1/2" square ruler is helpful in case I need to cut a block 20-1/2".  When cutting, you simply add the 2" ruler to both sides of the 16-1/2" square ruler to yield 20-1/2".

Since I make so many of these quilts, I had my templates laminated.

And, I made up an Excel spreadsheet so that all I have to do is plug in the numbers for each size of block and it does the math for me!

I always do the machine quilting on my domestic machine.  

I like to do a large meandering free motion quilting stitch for my customers.  I find if I can use a fine thread, it blends nicely and the meandering stitch doesn't compete with the designs of the shirts.  But, t-shirt quilts can be a little tricky to quilt through without thread breakage.  I have always used Aurifil thread and a topstitching needle in the past, but on these two quilts I tried So Fine thread by Superior Threads in place of the Aurifil and was super pleased!  

Since So Fine is a polyester thread, it is strong enough to resist breakage.  And, because it is a 50-weight thread, it is nice and fine and blends beautifully.  I would highly recommend giving it a try!  I like to use a light gray shade if there are a lot of lighter colored shirts in the quilt, and a darker shade of gray if there are lots of darker colors.  It's always helpful to audition the thread across as many colors in the quilt as possible.  You want to go with a thread that looks good on the lightest and darkest shirts; I usually go lighter vs darker because I don't like the look of a dark thread on a light fabric.

always, always, always hand stitch the binding on my quilts, but when it comes to customer quilts, I try to keep my time to a minimum in order to keep their cost as low as possible, so I usually machine stitch the binding down.  T-shirt quilts are probably the only quilt that I think a machine-stitched binding looks appropriate.  (Keep in mind that's just my personal opinion!)

Wanna know the secret to a perfectly-stitched machine binding?  Glue basting - it works like a charm!

Since I always hand stitch the binding down on my quilts, I cut my bindings 2-1/4".  But, if I am machine stitching the binding, I like to cut it at 2-1/2" to give me a little extra allowance to glue the binding down and have it cover the stitching line.  I simply machine stitch the binding to the front, wrap it to the back, glue baste it with Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It making sure the edge of the binding covers the machine stitching line, and heat set it with a dry iron.

Then, I topstitch from the front, and the back turns out perfect - every time!  If you are careful with your glue basting, your stitching lines will be perfection.

I often encourage customers to include a label to document the quilt.
If I'm stitching a quilt for myself or for a gift, a hand-written label is a nice touch.
But if it's for a customer, I usually type up the label, then run it through my ink jet printer and print it onto Kona cotton.  You simply need to iron some freezer paper onto a piece of fabric and trim it to an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet so that it will feed through your printer.  Then, peel off the freezer paper and heat set it with a dry iron.

That's it for my T-shirt quilt tips and tricks!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Newsletter: Sue Daley Recap and More!

Sue Daley comes to PA

Hello Friends!

I was so happy to be able to take in Sue Daley's English Paper Piecing class and trunk show last Friday, along with a number of you!  She is the Australian queen of English Paper Piecing.  I learned how to English Paper Piece by watching her videos on YouTube a number of years ago and have been in love with EPP ever since.  Sue was delightful - down to earth, funny, humble, generous and eager to share her tips and tricks with us.  And, her new Paper Daisies fabric line is just lovely.

I'm offering another Intro to English Paper Piecing class on Saturday, October 12.  I figured it would be perfect timing after all the inspiration we gleaned from Sue's events.  I'll be covering her glue basting techniques as well as other popular methods.  This is a great opportunity to learn the basics if you didn't get a chance to take one of her classes.  And, if you need some more help with that knicker knot and/or quilter's knot, or want to perfect your skills, this class is for you too!  Click here to register.

English Paper Piecing is my favorite past time at the beach, thanks to Sue!  I recently spent a few days at the beach, stitching away to my heart's content.  I highly recommend scheduling your own personal hand stitching retreat - I can't wait to do it again next year!

We've also scheduled another Intro to Applique class on Wednesday, October 9.  It's a wonderful technique to add to your English Paper Piecing skills; we saw lots of examples of how Sue combined both.  I looove hand appliqué, and I love introducing the Freezer Paper and Starch method to students!  You can register here.

Deb's Barn Quilt

Deb attended our very first Mini Barn Quilt class back in March and went on to complete this amazing full-size barn quilt for their property in Lancaster county.  If you take a look at the center, you'll see that it's the same block design that we used in class.  It's been so fun to see how students take the simple techniques that we cover in class to new levels!  We'll be offering this class again, so stay tuned!

The Beach was meant for quilts....

I had fun photographing a few more quilts at the beach again this year.   This Flower Girl quilt pattern is by Camille Roskelly of Thimble Blossoms.

And, this is Lori's Holt's Bloom quilt, a free sew-along on her blog.

Let me know if you have interest in a class on either of these quilts!

I think I belong at the beach....  :)

Past Newsletters

Past newsletters are accessible on my blog.  If you are a new student and this is the first newsletter you have received, you can read previous newsletters here!

I'm gearing up for the "Weekend with Andrea" retreat; I'm looking forward to sewing with my peeps.  :)   Hope you're able to find time to sew this weekend as well!!



Monday, September 9, 2019

Newsletter: September 9 Update!

Hi Everyone!  

I just wanted to pop in and say hello in case you were wondering what in the world happened to me!  I was in a good groove of sending out a newsletter every few weeks, but then BAM, all the craziness of spring and summer (yardwork, vacation, Etown fair prep, etc. etc.) hit in full vengeance! I am SLOWLY getting back on track and working at getting caught up.  I have a long list of things I want to chat with you folks about, but for now, I wanted to at least send out a quick note!


I've been entering the Elizabethtown fair every year since 1991 when I made my first quilt.  As a farm girl, I grew up with the Franklin County Fair, and love the tradition of local fairs.  I entered a whole slew of things again this year - quilts, flowers, herbs, vegetables, and canned goods.  But, hands down, coaching my 16-year-old nephew to a blue-ribbon win for his Macarons was the best moment of any fair - ever!  Fair deadlines and competitions always push me to improve my skills, finish projects, and try new things, and this year was no exception.  By the way, I've got my sights set on that apple pie contest for next year!  :)


I've hardly even had a chance to touch my sewing machine this summer, but I finally took some time over the weekend to clean up my sewing space and reorganize, and now I can't wait to get back at it!  I have, however, had some fun with counted cross stitch after an almost 30-year break!  This pattern by Lori Holt is my next project!


It's been so enjoyable having so many of you in class recently, both new and previous students!  I wanted to highlight a few upcoming classes, especially for those of you I haven't seen recently:

  • ByAnnie Stash & Dash PouchWednesday, September 25:  While this is not a new class, it is a great introduction to ByAnnie's patterns.  You'll learn to work with her Soft & Stable stabilizer, mesh, vinyl, strapping, and also how to insert zippers.  After tackling this organizer, you will have learned the basic techniques for any ByAnnie pattern, and it's the perfect preparation if you'd like to make an Ultimate Travel Bag!

  • Ultimate Travel Bag Workshop, Monday, October 28:  I so enjoyed making this bag to take along on my trip to Oregon in July.  I am eager to share tips and tricks so that you can make a bag of your own!  It is a bit time consuming, but trust me, it's not at all difficult once you understand the ByAnnie techniques!

  • Farm Girl Vintage Sewing Day, Wednesday, November 13:  I love everything Lori Holt touches - patchwork, appliqué, and counted cross stitch!  Join me and learn tips and tricks for any Lori Holt project you wish to stitch!

For those of you who are new, past newsletters are accessible on my blog.  You can read previous newsletters here:  

Thanks so much for staying in touch!  I post regularly on Instagram @missandreaquilts as well as on Facebook, so feel free to see what I'm up to there as well!

Blessings to you!
Andrea  :)


Monday, September 2, 2019

Cross Stitch Project Bag

Here's a basic how-to for this simple project bag, perfect for counted cross stitch!
Finished size:  13" high x 14" wide

I couldn't resist stitching one out of this cute camper fabric in preparation for stitching Lori Holt's Happy Camper counted cross stitch pattern!

  I decided to use ByAnnie's Soft and Stable foam stabilizer to give it a bit more structure,
and I wanted to round my corners to reduce wear.  I changed out the dimensions a bit so that it would be the perfect size for an 8-1/2" x 11" counted cross stitch chart, as well as supplies for a project.

Supplies needed:
  • Fabric:
    • fat quarter - one for front (visible through vinyl)
    • fat quarter - one for back, contrasting bands on front, and zipper pull
    • 1/2 yard for binding
  • Shape Flex 101 fusible interfacing: 3-1/2" x 15"
  • ByAnnie's Soft & Stable: 14-1/2" by 15-1/2" 
  • Zipper: nylon zipper 16" or longer
  • Thread in neutral shade to match fabric (I used Aurifil, but So Fine would be a good choice as well.)
  • 1/4" Wash Away Wonder Tape (for basting zipper)
  • Clover Wonder Clips
  • 1/2" Bias Tape Maker
  • Fray Check

Cut fabric:
  • Front (visible through vinyl): 14-1/2" high x 15-1/2" wide
  • Backing fabric:
    • back: 14-1/2" high x 15-1/2" wide
    • top band -  3-1/2" high x 15" wide
    • binding for top of vinyl: 2-1/2" x 15" 
    • zipper pull:  1" x 10"
  • Bias binding: cut 2 strips 2-1/4" wide x width of fabric, cut on bias
  • Vinyl: 11 x 14-1/2"
Machine quilt:
  • Sandwich the backing fabric, Soft & Stable, and front fabric; pin to hold layers.
  • Machine quilt as desired.  (I used a walking foot and stitched a cross-hatch design 1-1/4" apart; then I went back and stitched another line of stitches1/4" to the right of each line of stitching.)
  • Trim quilted piece to 13" high x 14" wide.
Prepare top band:
  • Fuse interfacing to the back of the 3-1/2" x 15" backing fabric following manufacturer's instructions; fold in half lengthwise and press to create band for top of zipper.
Prepare vinyl:
  • Pin 2-1/2 x 15" strip of quilting cotton in half lengthwise to create binding for top of vinyl.
  • Clip binding to top of vinyl using Wonder Clips.  Stitch to vinyl using a 3/8" seam.  (You may need to use a teflon foot if you find the vinyl sticks.)
  • Wrap binding to back of vinyl and top stitch close to binding fold.
Install zipper:
  • Using Wonder Tape, adhere fold of top band to zipper along stitching line, centering band lengthwise.  Top stitch band to zipper close to fold using a zipper foot.  (If using a handbag zipper, you can use a 1/4" patchwork foot in place of zipper foot.)
  • Do the same thing with the vinyl section.
  • Layer zippered vinyl front section over quilted sandwich; trim zipper vinyl section as needed.  ***Be sure to slide zipper tab in before trimming!
  • Clip layers together and stitch 1/8" from edge.
  • Round corners using a 2-1/2" round object; stitch again 1/8" from edge.
  • Bind edges with bias binding.
  • Stitch zipper pull using 1/2" bias tape maker.  Slide through zipper tab and stitch to secure.  Cut ends on diagonal and apply a bit of Fray Check to prevent fraying.

    I want to play around with some other sizes, but this is a good start for now.  
    The current counted cross stitch craze has totally sucked me in, so I'm sure I'll be stitching some more bags for additional projects!

    Thursday, May 23, 2019

    Newsletter, May 23, 2019

    Hello Everyone!
    Hope you are doing well! Here’s what I’ve been up to!


    I spent last week hunkered down sewing a ByAnnie Ultimate Travel Bag (while the weeds all around me grew like crazy!!)., I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed making it!  A big thanks to student Deb Kanagie for inspiring me to make one – she brought hers to class recently, and I couldn’t get it off my mind as a result. I know it sounds hard to believe, but it truly was not that difficult to make, just LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of steps and time.  In fact, I found it easier than working with smaller pieces on projects such as the Stash and Dash Pouch (anyone remember struggling through that project?  :)  Deb recommended the Bluprint video tutorial which was super helpful.  I’ll be leading a workshop on the Ultimate Travel Bag in the near future.  I’m also planning on offering a class or two on some simple ByAnnie pouches; they will be a good intro for any of you who haven’t yet used one of her patterns or worked with Soft and Stable (her foam interfacing which gives her bags that perfect structure).  Her patterns are outstanding – well written and easy to follow.  I’ll keep you posted on dates!  I was motivated to get my bag finished in time for my upcoming trip to Sisters, Oregon in July.  I can’t wait to take pictures of it in front of the Sisters mountains!!


    I just recently started using Superior’s So Fine thread for bags and I LOVE it!  It’s nice and fine like Aurifil, but much stronger since it’s 100% polyester, so it’s perfect for bag making.  I knew I wanted something stronger than Aurifil for my Ultimate Travel Bag, and this was the perfect solution.  My Bernina loved it too.  :)  The Old Country Store will now be carrying spools of it, so be sure to pick up some for your next project.  More and more quilters are piecing with it too.  They like it  because, again, it’s fine like Aurifil, but it doesn’t generate any lint since it’s a polyester.  Just make sure to iron at a lower temperature, according to Superior Threads' recommendations.


    Did you get a chance to attend the Mancuso show in Lancaster this month?  I thought it was a great show, despite the fact that the venue still looked like a war zone – ha ha!  I always learn a few tips and tricks from Charlie at the Olfa booth.  I was able to ask him the best way to flatten a warped OLFA mat (question inspired by a student who had inquired!), and he directed me to their website where it tells you exactly how to go about doing it.  Here's the link: 


    I can’t stop making Gingham quilts!!  I have 2 more baby size quilts ready for machine quilting, and 2 larger ones cut out and ready to go.  They are embarrassingly simple to make, but the possibilities are endless....

    I finally took my pink lap size out for a photo shoot.  Next class will be Wednesday, June 26.  It’s a great class if you want a simple project, and perfect for beginners if you have a friend who has been wanting to learn to quilt.


    I thought you might enjoy seeing photos from our last Mini Barn Quilt class.  Marjorie joined us from the UK, three students traveled from New York, and we had some locals too!  I still think we need to get more men involved….  :)
    Next class will be Thursday, August 12!


     I love this picture of Lisa and Rita with their flag blocks from the recent Stars & Stripes class!


    Intro To English Paper Piecing: Wednesday, July 24 

    Modern Hexies: Wednesday, July 31


    Not a fan of radishes? Well, Martha Stewart’s Radish Butter may change your mind! I just harvested my first radishes and promptly ate them, Martha Stewart style!

    Past newsletters will now be accessible on my blog.  So, if you are a new student and this is the first newsletter you have received, you can read previous newsletters here.

    I think that's it for this newsletter!  As always, I love staying in touch with you!  You can also follow me on Facebook (Andrea Hoke) or on Instagram (@missandreaquilts).
    Blessings to you!

    Andrea :)