Monday, April 20, 2015

blog hop for Quiltmaker's 100 blocks

Hello everyone! I would like to invite you to join us on a blog hop tour of the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 11 (Summer 2015) hitting the newsstands the first week in May 2015!  I am really excited to be a part of this blog hop and showing my very FIRST block for Quiltmaker's!

There will a whole week of great giveaways including fabrics, notions, magazines and lots of other quilting goodies! Every day you will be invited to join in by skipping to several different blogs and checking out some of the new blocks featured in Volume 11. Sign up everyday at Quiltmaker's as well as each individual blog to win great prizes! We will giving you lots of information as well as to how the block came about, some quick tips about sewing it or what you can make with the 12" blocks. The blocks are geared toward everyone and include appliqué, piecing, as well as paper piecing. There is also a special giveaway to win 10 of the ORIGINAL blocks signed by the designers!! Oh, the things you could make with those blocks! ;-)

I will be presenting my block on May 6, 2015 and a couple different color/fabric variations. Not only is Quiltmaker giving away lots of great loot, but I will be giving away a brand new copy of the magazine to one lucky recipient as well! You have two chances to win the great new magazine of modern blocks by today's hottest designers!

This is what the cover of the new magazine looks like, so if you see it on the newsstands, grab your copy or win a copy along the Quiltmaker's blog hop from Quiltmaker's directly or by stopping by the bloggers that made the blocks! Good luck and hope to see you along the hop!

Knuddels, Karen

Monday, April 13, 2015

mariner's compass - what a challenge!

Well, it has been two weeks since my last post. Time has flown by, and I have hardly gotten any sewing done, so it seems. I think I managed to post a couple of sneak peeks of my last block from the Advanced Sampler on Instagram, but that was it! The kids had two weeks off for Easter vacation, and I took two weeks right along with them! You only live once! We enjoyed sleeping in late, staying up, playing outside (when it wasn't raining) and just enjoying the free time.

Let me tell you what I was working on in my free minutes of stolen sewing time. I decided to add this stunning 12" Notched Mariner's Compass to my Advanced Sampler quilt. I originally wanted to make it paper or foundation pieced, but wanted to give myself a challenge and work with templates. I printed out the necessary templates from EQ7 and traced over them onto a clear plastic sheet. I didn't really think about the added seam allowance of a self-made template in the beginning. You see, when you trace around the original template, you add just a little bit to the shape. When you cut out the template, you add again, just a little bit. And then when you trace the template onto your fabric, you add, yet again, a little bit. In the end, this added 1/2 to a 12" block! I didn't realize this until all four quarters of the block were made. Each corner block should have measured 6.5" instead of 6.75". I thought I could shrink the block down by soaking in water for an hour and throwing it in the dryer. Absolutely didn't work. It was the same size in the end 13 inches!

Time to come up with Plan B! I could reduce the size (height) of the notches (outer ring) by either cutting them back and piecing a quarter circle around them meaning I would have to separate the four quarter of the compass again OR reverse applique a 12" circle around the notched compass. I decided to go with the second. And, yet again....another skill builder. I have only used this method one other time on another mariner's compass.

I traced a quarter of a 12" circle onto a 14" white square of fabric with my awesome Frixion pen making sure my square was perfectly folded in half twice. This way, you only need to trace a 6" quarter circle. It is faster and saves paper!! Then I cut a whole about 3/8 in front of the circle line.  I notched the circle making sure NOT to cut into the line. I got out my normal glue stick and glued the white notched fabric down making sure they touched the outer ring. I measured it out with my ruler to really make sure I had a 12" notched mariner's compass and adjusted as needed. After it all was glued and pinned, I sewed around the white outer edge to secure or applique in place. Voila!

My block is now the right size! I reduced the total size from 13" to 12 1/2" inches by reducing the outer ring size by 1/2" and I used reverse appliqué - building more skills in the process. I actually think it is better to use this technique of applique rather than piecing four squares to the four segments, because you can "trick" the circle to really be round.

I am almost finished with all 12 blocks for my sampler. It has been in the works now for three+ years and am ready to finish it up. Would you like to see what it will look like in the end? Stay tuned. ;-)

What did I learn this week? Be careful when you use self-made templates and trim up your blocks before proceeding to the next step! What is your experience with templates? We would like to hear from you.

Monday, March 30, 2015

sewing weekend with friends

Every year, my sewing group - Patchworkgruppe Nersingen - goes missing for one weekend on a retreat organized by Sabine Feldmann of Quilt Oase. This year we wanted a new location to optimize our sewing pleasure. And boy, did we ever find the greatest place in Altheim - Heiligkreuztal south of Ulm and north of the Bodensee. The weather was so beautiful when we arrived on Friday late in the afternoon, too.

This very beautifully restored and updated Kloster (Zisterzienserorden) or convent dating back to the early 13th Century captured our hearts. Kloster Heligkreuztal is a very large complex with several restaurants/bistros, gardens, bookstore, and meditation areas, media rooms, and gift shop. After we set up our working stations in this rather spacious room, we gathered in the Gaststätte for a full and very fresh buffet. After a short while of giggling and relaxing, we went to work hammering away on the sewing machines until wee hours in the morning.

Pure sewing bliss - Photo by Karen Ackva

My station was all the way on the other side of the room close to a window. The room was very spacious so we did not feel cramped at all. We had sewing machines, ironing boards, extension cords, music, all the fabrics and supplies that we needed. An extra delight for us were these amazing design boards provided by the facility! You could wheel them around the room to wherever you wanted.

Photo taken by Katrin of
We had the chance to work on anything that we wanted; there was no course, just pure sewing fun. I brought my Berenstain Bears II quilt fabric already cut and ready to sew. I actually thought I could finish the quilt before I went to bed. Boy did I overestimate my sewing abilities!! There were close to 200 - seven inch patches; I did manage to get all 12 rows finished, though. Here you can see me laying it out for the final construction.

Photo taken by Katrin of

The next morning we were greeted with another full and fresh buffet of German breads and pastries, soft boiled eggs, meats and cheese, jams and jellies as well as everything else with your extended German breakfast. We set off back to our sewing machines. When everything was running smoothly, we were pleasantly interrupted by our second breakfast of freshly baked butter pretzels and coffee. We took a short break for some photos for our group photo album as well. Here you can see me waiting for my beautiful models to arrive. I took some personal photos for our exhibit in the fall 2015.

Photo taken by Katrin of

We returned to sewing and then came lunch. Another awesome spread of roasted lamb, fresh steamed/sauteed veggies, and full salad bar not to mention desert. Shortly after lunch, I finished my quilt and Katrin helped me to show off my quilt as went on a short photo tour of the convent. Thank you, liebe Katrin for helping me tote my quilt top around. ;-)

Photo taken by Katrin of

This is such a beautiful and amazing convent. I love how it smelled of history. You could feel the religious presence around you. It really inspired me as well. You could capture the different design elements and use them for new ideas in quilts and artwork.

After our short photo session, we went back to work. All of the other lovely ladies were hard at work pumping out quilt tops, pp light houses, blocks for our guild sampler, ragtime quilts, modern art quilts and pictures. I started to work on another block for my sampler quilt. I want to get it finished before our big exhibit in October in Nersingen.

Afternoon coffee and cake greeted our hungry appetites once again followed by more sewing and then another amazing buffet dinner in the evening. We sewed, we gossipped, we drank wine. We had a great time together. Sisters through sewing. ;-)

Our weekend was rounded up by more fabulous food on Sunday as well as a procession of children taking their first communion. It was very inspiring to watch. This was the view from our sewing room window. Only one-third of the procession is shown.

Photo taken by Katrin of

Our patchwork weekend came to an end. We said our farewells and made reservations for next year! We will be back! What a lovely convent and accommodations for our fabulous sewing weekend with the girls. ;-)

Thank you, Katrin for most of the photos I showed on my site. She took almost all of them. You can see more photos of the weekend by clicking here. Thank you for stopping by!
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