Basic Quilting Skills Series · Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · villa rosa designs

NEW September 2022 Villa Rosa Designs Rose Card Quilt Patterns and Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: Pressing Techniques 101

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

I am thrilled to show you our NEW September Rose Card patterns! I can’t wait until the first Fry-Day (Friday) of each month when the new set of patterns is released — it’s always great to see what our awesome VRD designers have come up with. You can see the new patterns first if you have joined the email list to receive our VRD email newsletters.

What??!! You don’t get our newsletter??? You can sign up for our newsletter HERE.

Of course, I follow up with the newest patterns on the next Thursday after the patterns are released each month here on the blog in case you missed them in the newsletter.

Well, here they are! Cue the trumpets! Throw the confetti! Applause!

September’s NEW Rose Cards

You can order all 5 cards HERE for the low low price of $8.95.

But WAIT…….there’s MORE! (Sorry, not sorry — you know how much I love saying this.)

Here’s my September table runner, Maple Grove!

Maple Grove

You can buy the Maple Grove pattern HERE.

There are also kits for some of the September Rose Cards — did someone say KITS??? Each kit comes with the fabric for the top and binding as well as the pattern. You can find kits below, for as long as they last.

Berry Smoothie

Mazed

Pumpkin Pie

Of course, our website, www.villarosadesigns.com, is always stocked with great kits. You can see our current kit offerings HERE. You’re sure to find one…..or maybe a hundred that you can’t live without.

Pressing Techniques

Let’s dive right back into our Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners with Pressing Techniques 101.

I bet you never really thought about the concept that there are different kinds of pressing techniques for different types of projects. Well, I’m here to tell you that how you use an iron for quilting is different than how you use an iron to iron your shirts or pants.

There’s ironing. And then there’s pressing.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

(to) iron

1a : to smooth with or as if with a heated iron iron a shirt

1b : to remove (something, such as wrinkles) by ironing

(to) press

5 : to exert pressure (this is the closest definition for pressing with an iron I could find)

You can see a little difference between the two definitions, can’t you? Ironing requires moving the iron around while pressing is more of an up and down motion.

I found this pretty decent YouTube video from Hobby Lobby about the difference between pressing and ironing along with some tips. You can check out the video HERE.

Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different irons from cheap travel models to expensive specialty irons. Some irons are hotter than others. Some have more weight so you don’t have to press down as hard. Some have longer cords or are larger models. Some have continuous steam or bursts of steam. So many choices, but it all depends on what you want out of your iron and what your budget is. So look around, test out different models and brands. Find the one you like the best, for what you want to do, don’t just go for the most expensive or the least expensive.

Pink Oliso Iron

One of the coolest irons in my opinion is the Oliso iron. It lifts up after so many seconds so there’s no chance that you will burn your fabric or project by pressing too long or forgetting about the iron in the down position. AND they come in a bunch of really pretty colors! You can usually find Oliso irons at your local quilt shop or your favorite online vendor.

Here’s a great YouTube video by SewVeryEasy about what to look for in an iron as well as lots of tips and tricks. You can check out the video HERE.

Some quilters swear by using the steam function of their iron for pressing. Me, I like a dry hot iron for quilting AND I love to use Mary Ellen’s Best Press Starch Alternative. A long time ago, I used spray starch in the can, but got tired of the little flakes and the shiny spots on my fabrics, so when I found Best Press, it was a total game changer for me.

Mary Ellen’s Best Press Spray

A little spritz is all you need. Best Press helps me to get crisper flatter seams without having to work very hard, which then helps my quilt fabrics to stay square and not to stretch out of shape. An added bonus is that Best Press comes in many fun scents and also comes in unscented, too. My personal favorite scent is Peaches and Cream. You can find Best Press at your local quilt shop or favorite online vendor.

I hope these pressing techniques and tips are helpful! Stay tuned for next week’s post all about batting, backing, and preparing a quilt for quilting.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Basic Quilting Skills Series · Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: Rotary Cutting 101

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

I hope you had a chance to read our first post in a multi-part series called “Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners.” Last week’s post was all about the quilter’s 1/4″ seam allowance. Did you miss it? You can find it HERE. This week we’re going to talk about the Basics of Rotary Cutting.

First, let’s talk a little about the history of rotary cutting — YES! There is a history of rotary cutting (there is a history of everything, if you’re interested enough to find it). The rotary cutter was invented in 1979. Originally it was used in the garment industry, but once quilters saw its potential to speed up cutting and increase accuracy, they stole it and by the early 1980’s. the rotary cutter was all the rage. Before the rotary cutter, quilters made templates for each piece of a quilt, traced around the shape over and over, and then cut the shapes out using scissors. With rotary cutters came acrylic rulers and templates and of course self-healing cutting mats.

Here’s a cardboard triangle that was used by a friend of mine to cut out hundreds if not thousands of triangles.

Rotary Cutting Tools

When I first started quilting back in 1996, I started with a beginner’s quilting set which included an 18″ x 24″ mat, a 45mm rotary cutter, and a 6″ x 24″ acrylic ruler. These tools worked great for me until I started working part-time in a quilt shop and had the opportunity to try out different cutters and rulers. When I discovered the yellow Olfa ergonomic cutter, below, I was in love (believe it or not, but this is actually my original Olfa and I’ve been using it for around 20 years)!

Keep in mind you might need to try out different rotary cutters until you find the one that fits you and is the most comfortable. What works for a right-handed quilter might not be the best choice for a lefty and vice versa. You want it to be comfortable because you’ll be spending a lot of quality time with your rotary cutter (and don’t forget, you will need to change your rotary cutting blade regularly, just like your sewing machine needle).

Rotary cutting basic set

Some different examples of rotary cutters

These basic tools worked for me for a quite a while, but over time as my skills grew, I began adding more rulers. And I upgraded to a larger mat — I really like my 24″ x 36″, which fits the top of my antique Hoosier cabinet bottom beautifully (and the storage is outstanding, of course). I also have a rotating mat as well as some smaller mats for working with smaller cutting projects or projects on the go. Even though I’ve tried out lots of different tools and made some changes, I’m still just as in love with my Olfa cutter (above, left) as I was the first time I used it.

Here’s my stash of rulers — well, some of my stash of rulers, anyway…….

Nowadays there are so many ruler choices. Two of my favorites are the 6″ x 12″ ruler and the 12 1/2″ square ruler. A 6″ x 12″ ruler is a great companion to the 6″ x 24″ because sometimes you just don’t want to mess with that full 24″ length, especially if you’re working in a tight space or cutting small pieces. The 12 1/2″ ruler just makes sense — it will square up blocks and cut squares up to 12 1/2″ square.

As you go along and your skills increase, you’ll probably add lots of rulers and acrylic templates, too. Some of those rulers will do a lot of different things (why they can’t do the dishes, though, is beyond me….) while others will do one thing and do it well.

There are lots of different companies out there making rulers today. Keep in mind, though, that not all rulers are created equal. Measurements might be slightly different between different manufacturers. The markings of one ruler might be easier to see on light fabrics while another might show up better on dark fabrics. Some rulers have textured bottoms so they don’t slide while others are as slippery as a Slip and Slide (you might need to add some textured dots to the back of a slippery ruler to help hold it in place while you cut — see the third photo, above). You will need to try different rulers to find the ones you like the best. And once you find a manufacturer you like, stick with that one.

Rule of Thumb: Finish a project with the same ruler(s) you started the project with.

Why? Because as I stated earlier, not all rulers are created equal. Switching rulers midstream could affect the accuracy of your project. Imagine this — you’re making a quilt that has thirty-five 12″ (finished) blocks with 5 blocks across by 7 blocks down. You cut out part of the quilt with one ruler and then switch to a different ruler made by a different manufacturer and you keep cutting out your squares and triangles. Then you go to sew them together and suddenly not everything fits together exactly right — you’re cutting off some triangle points while others are perfect. You check your 1/4″ seam allowance. Huh…..that’s not it. Then you check a few of your cut pieces. Depending on which ruler you are using ( the first one, the second one, or even an altogether different ruler), your pieces might be exactly the right size, too big, or too small. You can see how this snowball is rolling downhill and getting bigger and bigger, can’t you?

Here’s our beautiful quilt, which won’t be so beautiful if we don’t figure out what is happening and find a way to fix it ASAP. If you keep plowing ahead without figuring things out, your blocks might end up being different sizes, which will then make it hard to sew the blocks together into rows and the rows together into the finished quilt top. If your blocks are only 1/8″ different, that will add up across and down your quilt. By the time you sew all the rows together, your quilt is off across the width by 5/8″, which is more than a half inch while the length is now off by 7/8″, which is nearly an inch! And if you’re adding borders — well, I don’t even want to think about how those borders might stand up and wave back at you….

Accuracy……Accuracy…..Accuracy.

Consistency…….Consistency………Consistency.

There is so much to remember when you are a beginner! But I promise you, if you take the time to learn the basics, they will become part of you. Like the Force.

How do you actually cut with a rotary cutter???

Since I am not physically by your side to guide you in rotary cutting skills, I am not going to try to teach you how to actually cut with your rotary cutter. Instead, I will give you some tips that I have learned over the years.

  • If you are new to rotary cutting and do not have an experienced quilter to help you learn how to use it, sign up for a class on rotary cutting. Maybe it’s at your local quilt shop or maybe it’s online. But sign up and learn how to be safe and how to cut accurately.
  • KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY OF THE BLADE! This means, you have to pay attention to what you are doing. ALWAYS. Keep your fingers of your non-cutting hand back away from the edge of the ruler as you cut. There are rulers out there with special raised edges to keep your fingers safe. There are special gloves you can get to put on your non cutting hand to keep your hand safe. Use them if needed, there is no shame in keeping yourself safe. Ask my Mom about rotary cutting safety and she’ll tell you how she spent Mother’s Day one year in the emergency room with me when I had a bit of a rotary cutting accident……Don’t worry, I was okay……
  • DO NOT GET DISTRACTED WHEN YOU ARE HOLDING A ROTARY CUTTER IN YOUR HAND. Do not look up to watch an exciting part of the TV program or movie. In fact, it’s safer not to have the distraction of the TV while you are cutting. Ignore the telephone or dings and pings that tells you there is a new email or text message or whatever.
  • If you get a drop of blood on your fabric, spit on the spot and rub it. Spit and rub. Trust me. The blood will come out. Gross, I know, but it works. Your saliva will break down your blood on fabric. Your saliva will not break down someone else’s blood, though, only your own.
  • If you do cut yourself, apply pressure to the wound. Hold the wound above the level of your heart. Seek medical help immediately if needed.
  • Hold your rotary cutter straight up and down on the cutting mat and snug up against the edge of your ruler. Press down with enough force to move the blade, but keep it upright.
  • If you are pressing too hard and your cuts are not clean, it’s probably time to change your rotary blade.
  • Always keep extra blades on hand — store them safely. You never know when you will need to change your blade — they nick easily.
  • Change your blade regularly — a dull blade is more dangerous. If you are struggling to get through the layers cleanly, you might slip and cut yourself.
  • Dispose of your blades responsibly — do not just throw them in the trash. You could wrap it in cardboard and tape it up before throwing it away. You could use a large pill bottle or small container to collect used blades as well as broken and bent pins. It will take you a long time to fill it up. Then you can find a safe place to discard it.
  • Keep children and pets away when you are using your rotary cutter. Store your rotary cutter away from children and pets.
  • Keep the blade locked or in the down position when you are not using it.
  • DO NOT lay your rotary cutter down with the blade open or exposed, always close or cover your blade when you lay it down. An unattended exposed blade is an accident waiting to happen.
  • I find that I cut more easily and more accurately when I am standing versus when I am sitting.
  • Always cut on a rotary cutting mat. Otherwise, whatever you are cutting on top of will be damaged and most likely ruined.
  • If your table is too low for comfortable rotary cutting, raise it up on bed risers, PVC pipes, or whatever works safely.

I know this post is just the tip of the iceberg concerning the basics of rotary cutting. There is an entire body of information out there, you just have to look for it. Check out your favorite quilting books and magazines, your local quilt shops and quilt guilds/organizations, as well as online tutorials, blogs, posts, videos, and more.

Next week, we will talk about Pressing Techniques and the new September Rose Cards. So, stay tuned.

May the Force — the Rotary Cutting Force, that is — be with you.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Quilt Stories · Rose Cards · villa rosa designs

A Quilts of Valor (QOV, QOVF) Presentation

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

I hope your week is going well and you’ve found a few moments to quilt during the hustle and bustle of the end of summer and back to school. I remember those endless days of school shopping — new shoes, clothes, school supplies, etc., etc…. Sadly, there are no more kiddos in my family — my nieces Meghan and Morgan are all grown up. Yet, for some reason I still cannot resist grabbing up extra pens, pencils, tablets, and other supplies. Maybe I miss those days, or maybe in my own mind, I’m still a student.

Last weekend after lots of hard work, we had my Mom’s annual family reunion at our local fire hall. She and my Aunt Helen worked really hard to get it organized. And even though we were all worried about how many folks would be able to make it, the reunion came together and there was a great turn out with cousins coming from as far away as California to our little corner of Pennsylvania.

This year’s reunion was a special one for me — I had organized a Quilts of Valor presentation with my local QOV organization, PA Stitchers of Valor. Collene Munn, who is the force behind our local organization, came to my family reunion along with volunteer husband and wife, Jason and Linda. With their help, we celebrated and honored 4 veterans in our family — my cousins Lisa, Michael, Ron Sr., and Ron Jr. My Dad, my sister Tracy, and I helped with the presentation while my niece Morgan was my photographer.

If you’ve never seen a Quilts of Valor presentation, then you truly have missed witnessing something very special. It’s common for tears to flow and hugs to be shared. Sometimes it’s the first time that family members even get to hear what their veteran or service member actually did during their service. Sometimes the presentation is the moment when a veteran can finally talk about what they might have experienced. Perhaps this is the first time a veteran has actually been thanked for their service. The actual presentation might only last an hour, but the significance of receiving a Quilts of Valor could last a lifetime.

I am very proud to share that I personally made 3 out of the 4 quilts presented. You might recognize 2 of the quilts because they are Villa Rosa Designs Rose Card patterns. The 3rd one I made will be a new Rose Card which will be available soon. I would have made the 4th quilt, but I just ran out of time, so the 4th quilt was made and donated by QOV volunteers.

Allow me to share photos from our family Quilts of Valor presentation.

Each veteran was called up individually while Collene shared a short description of their service. And while each veteran was called up, the veteran’s quilt was displayed behind them usually by a family member and a volunteer. Here, you can see my cousin Lisa with her quilt displayed behind her. This quilt you will see again soon as a new Rose Card pattern called Gallant.

My cousin Michael (Lisa’s big brother) was called up next. His quilt is the Rose Card pattern, Salute, which is one of my patterns. You can buy the Salute Rose Card pattern HERE.

My cousin Ron Sr. was next. You will recognize his quilt as the VRD Rose Card pattern, Daring Spirit. In fact, this is the same quilt from the Daring Spirit tutorial I wrote for the blog a few weeks ago. I am notorious for combining different things into the same project to maximize my time. You can find the Daring Spirit tutorial HERE. You can buy the Daring Spirit Rose Card pattern HERE.

And our final recipient was my cousin, Ron Jr., who is Ron Sr.’s son. This beautiful scrap quilt was made and donated by QOV volunteers. Are you interested in making a quilt to donate to QOV? Or perhaps getting involved in another way? You can visit their website for more information: www.QOVF.org.

Once all the recipients were seated, then it was time to wrap each veteran in their quilt with a quilter’s hug. 2 people hugged each veteran — one a family member and one a quilter as they wrapped the quilt around the veteran. This was an incredibly emotional moment.

At the end of the presentation, each veteran received a certificate and a pillowcase.

Then there were lots of hugs and hand-shaking. What an amazing event to share at my family reunion this year! I know that there are more veterans and service members in the family, so I hope we can do this again next year.

I encourage each and every one of you to connect with the veterans and service members in your family and community. Nominate them to your local Quilts of Valor organization. Make and donate quilts. Volunteer. And above all, go to QOV presentations in your community to support local veterans and service members.

Visit www.qovf.org for more information and to get involved.

Well, that’s it for this week.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Quilt Play · Rose Cards · villa rosa designs

Flowers, Electric Quilt, and NEW Villa Rosa Designs Rose Card Quilt Patterns

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

I hope you are all having a great week so far! Me, it’s been a bit rocky in my basement studio/office, which I fondly call my “dungeon.” After a really dry July, early August has been really wet. And I mean wet!

In 5 days, water has rolled into my studio casement window THREE TIMES! In 5 days! I have spent most of my time emptying the dehumidifier, moving fans around, washing-drying-rewashing-drying again all the blankets we’ve been able to find for soaking up the water. ARGH! Luckily, the water didn’t completely flood my space, it only got about halfway across the room, almost to my computer desk. It’s been kind of stressful here. I shouldn’t be complaining because others are faring much worse than I am, but it’s been a lot of work to stay on top of the water once the deluges hit. Talking to my family, we don’t think this much flooding in the basement has happened in 20 years. What a fluke (I hope).

Now let’s turn our thoughts to something really fun and seasonal. Sadly, our container garden and other plants did not grow much during the super dry month of July, but all of a sudden everything is growing by leaps and bounds, although the marigolds don’t look so happy.

We planted our garden and plants a bit late this year and now that things are finally growing like crazy, I just hope that they’ll have enough time to bear fruit (or veggies). I would really like some fresh produce that I grew myself on the back porch! Yum yum yummy!

Speaking of flowers and plants, I’m particularly proud of my Black-Eyed Susans, which is one of my all-time favorite flowers, along with Sunflowers and Daisies. I wonder……how many Black-Eyed Susan, Sunflower, and Daisy quilt blocks are there in Electric Quilt 8. Any guesses? Hmm. I haven’t checked yet, so I think I’ll guess 35 total. So let’s see! Hang on, I’ll be right back. Let me check.

I found 6 Black-Eyed/Brown-Eyed Susan quilt blocks. Not too shabby!

Next I counted 34 Sunflower blocks. Nice!

And then I discovered at least 40 Daisy blocks. Way cool!

Well, my guess was a bit low. How about your guess?

Sew, let’s have some fun and play with flower blocks a little bit!

Here are some really fun quilts with Black-eyed Susan blocks. EQ8 ROCKS!

Check out these awesome Sunflower quilts — are you inspired yet???

Now, how about a trio of Daisy quilts?

WOW! I really love love love EQ8 — it is sew sew fun just to explore different blocks and make quilts on the computer screen, whether I ever make them into real quilts or not!

Aren’t you inspired to make your own flower quilt now? I challenge you to create a quilt featuring your favorite flower! I dare you!

I’d love to revisit flower quilts down the road and include the quilts of our VRD fans. Sew, please send me your flower quilts — er, a photo of your flower quilt along with a short description/story of your quilt. If I choose your quilt and story for the blog, I promise I’ll send you a little surprise in the mail! You can email your flower quilt images to me at tricia@villarosaquilts.com.

NEW AUGUST VILLA ROSA DESIGNS ROSE CARDS

Yay! It’s that time of the month again — no, not THAT time of the month. LOL! It’s the beginning of a new month and that means a NEW collection of Villa Rosa Rose Cards!

Here they are — our new August Rose Cards!

You can order the August set of 5 Rose Cards HERE. Go ahead, I know you want to.

But wait — there’s more! Tehehe.

Here’s my NEW August Table Runner, Slice of Summer.

Cute, huh? You can get your own Slice of Summer Rose Card HERE.

Sew, there you have it — our awesome new August patterns! Can’t wait to see what new patterns next month will bring…….

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Quilting Partners · Rose Cards · villa rosa designs

Quilting Partners

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed on the right side of the blog that we’ve been adding links under our new “Quilting Partners” heading.

Here at VRD, we’ve been working hard to make connections with other industry professionals, organizations, and companies and this “Quilting Partners” section is a growing list of professionals, organizations, and companies we are working with.

Today, I thought I’d talk a little bit about our quilting partners (in crime — LOL!).

As you know, our Rose Card patterns really rock — besides being beginner friendly, they feature easy piecing and often popular precuts. Besides, they are fun projects with an attractive price. And they are not only for beginners, either — more advanced quilters find them just as appealing and addicting! A lot of quilters use our patterns for their charity quilts as well as gift-giving, and even projects for themselves (once in a while, anyway). Thanks to the creative genius behind Villa Rosa Designs — our very own Rose Queen, Pat Fryer — Rose Cards are some of the most popular quilt patterns out there!

That being said, fabric companies as well as other quilting businesses are starting to jump aboard our Rose Card party train.

Hoffman California International Fabrics

I’ve personally been having lots of fun with Hoffman recently, creating images featuring their new fabric collections in our Rose Card patterns! Check out the PDF below. This PDF shows quilt shops how to kit up the three patterns, Hillside Charm, Addison, and Remember Me using the Hoffman digital collection, Wading with Water Lilies. This a great help for quilt shops because it even tells you the level, how long a class would be, where to purchase the patterns, as well as what to put into kits. You can find this downloadable PDF and more on the Hoffman website.

This was definitely one of my favorite Hoffman collections to play with. Wading with Water Lilies will be available in quilt shops this fall, so you can be sure that there will be kits out there at your favorite quilt shops as well as yardage. Don’t forget to grab yours!

Buy the patterns here:

Hillside Charm Pattern

Addison Pattern

Remember Me Pattern

Keepsake Quilting

Who doesn’t love the gorgeous fabrics, great supplies, and fun notions available at Keepsake Quilting??? Well, I have secret to share with you. SHHHHH! Don’t tell anyone……. Oh all right, go ahead and share, we don’t mind.

Keepsake offers lots of fun Fabric Collections of the Month Clubs. Have you ever tried any of their awesome fat quarter clubs???? They have many to choose from —

Beautiful Basic Medley of the Month

Hoffman Medley of the Month

Standard Club Medley of the Month

Bali Medley of the Month

19th Century Medley of the Month

Circa 1930 Medley of the Month

Moda Medley of the Month

Kaufman Medley of the Month

With all of these awesome Fat Quarter Clubs, there really is something for every quilter out there! And what fun it is to receive a surprise fabric collection in the mail every month (I call them squishies). Now the cool thing is that several of the above medleys include a free pattern. Yep, you guessed it — you might find a Villa Rosa Rose Card tucked into your fat quarter medley of the month.

FreeSpirit Fabrics

Are you familiar with Tim Holtz the designer? You’ll find him in the scrapbooking and papercrafting aisle of your local craft store, but you’ll also find him in your favorite quilt shop, too. His style is sew unique!

Here’s a PDF of my Rose Card pattern 2M featuring 3 different Tim Holtz fabric collections. Not only does it show you the gorgeous moody fabrics in the quilt design, it also shows fabric requirements for the quilt and where to buy the pattern, making it a snap for quilt shops to kit up the pattern and fabrics.

Here are some more Rose Cards featured on FreeSpirit’s website:

Buy the patterns here:

2M Pattern

Eazy Piezy Pattern

Baby Goose Pattern

Random Shuffle Pattern

Clothworks

Clothworks is already a big fan of Villa Rosa Rose Cards. You can find lots of Rose Card patterns on their website showcasing their gorgeous fabric collections.

Here’s an example from their Sleepy Time collection featuring the Journey Rose Card pattern. I love how they show the pattern front in the center between the 2 quilt samples. Again, this download shows a quilt shop how to kit up the pattern and the fabrics.

You can check out more of our Villa Rosa patterns at Clothworks HERE.

Buy the pattern here:

Journey Pattern

These are just some of the wonderful companies we are working with right now. Since we are making new connections all the time, I bet there will more Quilting Partners soon. So stay tuned (and don’t forget to check our Quilting Partners list on the blog for updates).

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Quilt Stories · Rose Cards · villa rosa designs

Food, Quilting, and Math

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

Now that the summer season is almost 2/3rds over, I hope you are taking the time to have a little fun, whether that means having a cookout in the backyard or going on a vacation somewhere exotic, make time to have fun with your loved ones.

Me, I love summer cookouts, picnics, and family reunions! Yes, I know these events are all usually about the food, but if you knew my family, you would understand that food is always a central part of any event or get-together. Over the years, I have tried to incorporate quilting into these events, too. Usually, I take along some portable hand-sewing project — binding or hexies. This is a great way to break the ice from starting a conversation with a far away relative or someone new. Quilting brings people together, just like food. And I am deliriously happy when I can have both together!

We even have snacks at my quilt guild meetings! Do you like my vase of wildflowers? I picked them from alongside the road.

Quilting and Math

I am thrilled that I’ve been getting some quality time with my sewing machine recently. Finally. And every time I design a quilt on my computer using Electric Quilt 8 software and then create the quilt in fabric, I am still completely amazed that everything goes together!

Quilting is simply a form of math. Have you ever thought about it that way? Every time we use a ruler, a template, or follow a pattern, it’s all about the math. Maybe we don’t have to do all the figuring when using patterns or templates because someone already did the math for us, but it’s still all math.

My stash of rulers.

I find it ironic that after all these years, I work in a field that is so completely immersed in math. I can still remember all the struggling I did to understand math after I finished Algebra 2 in 8th grade. Geometry was a total disaster for me. Why did I have to prove that a square was truly a square? Ugh. Thank goodness for teachers like Mrs. Hank, who was my math teacher for 5 out of 6 years of high school (excluding that awful year in geometry). Mr.s Hank would be totally amazed that I do math everyday. And I even like it. Now.

Thanks, Mrs. Hank!

Later as an undergraduate at Allegheny College, a private liberal arts school, I found the only science/math cluster available that did not require taking any math classes — archaeoastronomy! My cluster of 3 classes included 2 astronomy classes and a physics course with a lab component. It was like I was allergic to math for a long long time and suddenly quilting cured my allergy! I am not afraid to say — I LIKE MATH. I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt made to celebrate quilting and math……what do you think?

As a quilt designer, when I start a new project, I fire up my Electric Quilt software. I usually start with a favorite simple quilt block in a friendly size because not only do I detest measurements like 5 and 7/16th, but why would a design a project that requires that kind of cutting measurement in the first place? No one would buy my patterns. To see more about my design process, go HERE.

Once I’m satisfied with my design, I print out the cutting information from EQ8 and I get started making the project. While I make the project, I write down notes such as how many strips to cut in what size. Then after I make the project, I write the pattern. Through this process, I’m using lots and lots of math! Yes, I actually have to write the pattern, EQ8 does not do that, it’s up to the designer to translate the design into words.

Here at Villa Rosa Designs, I create diagrams and write patterns for other designers or for special projects. Sometimes I have to sit down with my pencil, paper, and a calculator to figure out or double check the math. Quilting and math go hand-in-hand. Without math, there wouldn’t be any quilting!

I find it a little sad and quite humorous at the same time that historically, quilting has been considered to be a woman thing. Today, more and more men are getting involved in quilting, whether as designers or as makers. They have discovered the amazing partnership between math and creativity/art that quilting offers. And besides, quilting is for everyone!

So for the rest of the summer, make sure you have some fun.

Eat. Quilt. And do math.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

VRD Daring Spirit Quilt Tutorial

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

I hope you are having a great week — mine is just zooming by, hard to believe it’s Thursday already. Hopefully, you tuned in last week to our Designer Spotlight Interview with Sewl Sister’s Shankari Paradee, our newest designer here at Villa Rosa Designs. If not, you can find it HERE.

WOW! The weather has suddenly turned HOT HOT HOT here in northwestern Pennsylvania! WHEW! Typical July weather, I know, but I am never quite ready for super hot and humid. I live in a lovely green valley in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, but heat still happens.

You can’t see much of the hills because of all the green trees, but you can see a little bit to the right of the barn in the distance. Regardless, it’s beautiful country.

We’ve been having some very dry weather for the last couple weeks, though. Luckily we had a couple rainy days earlier in the week, which really helped all the plants and crops, but with the heat, everything is starting to droop again. I hope we get some more rain soon. I’ve been watering my little container garden, but the peppers look terrible and the cucumbers aren’t growing very fast. Argh! Rain, rain, rain………

The VRD Rose Queen, Head Elf, Grand Poobah, AKA “The Boss,” Pat, asked me if I would do a tutorial for Rose Card pattern, Daring Spirit.

The corner Star Blocks can be baffling and she gets a lot of questions about how to assemble them. I hope this helps!

You can buy the Daring Spirit Rose Card pattern HERE.

Daring Spirit Tutorial

This is such a great pattern! Of course it works well with ANY patriotic panel, but you could use just about any panel as long as you use coordinating fabrics. Maybe sometime, we’ll play around with other options besides patriotic, but for now, let’s focus on how to make the quilt.

On to the tutorial!

The first thing you need to do is choose your panel and your coordinating fabrics.

LOVE this panel!

Time to cut everything out. You don’t need to cut your panel to a specific size, but you should square it up and make sure all 4 sides are cut straight. Don’t skimp on this step. You might notice that your panel is skewed and doesn’t seem to be square. This is a very common problem with printed panels! What you need to do is pull the panel on both diagonals. Really. Hold each opposite corner in your hands and tug several times, pretty firmly. Repeat for the opposite diagonal. This should help your panel to straighten up! Repeat if you need to. Once you’ve gotten this step done, go ahead and trim the edges straight.

Okay, let’s measure our panel. Write down the length and the width, you’ll need these measurements later.

Time to cut our strips and squares, following the instructions.

Now let’s sew our side strips together and then sew them to the sides our panel.

There are 2 options here:

1. The pattern instructions call for you to make 4 sets of strips, then trim 2 sets to the length and 2 sets to the width. This works just fine.

2. But, I actually prefer cutting all the strips to the right length and width first (see the measurements you wrote down above). For me, this just makes more sense and I have found that the strips don’t get as curvy and wonky like they do when I try to sew long strips together and then cut them to size later. Also, the less you handle your cut pieces, the straighter they will stay.

Same result, different routes.

Anyway, here’s what the panel looks like with the side strips sewn on.

Yay! Time to make the corner Star blocks. I really like how these blocks are constructed — they are super clever and go together really well. Did you notice these stars are really Nine Patch blocks in disguise?!?

Layer a white and blue square right sides together (RST) with the edges lined up. Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner. Pin if you like, I don’t. I use a Frixion pens and a 1″ wide ruler to do this step. I do it right at my sewing machine on my acrylic extension table.

Sew 1/4″ away from both sides of the drawn line. I draw a diagonal line on a pair of squares and then sew it on both sides of the line, then I repeat for however many squares I need to. It doesn’t seem to save time to draw all the diagonal lines before you sew them as the layers are going to shift on your way to your sewing machine, unless you use pins to hold them together.

Time to cut the squares apart on the drawn line to make 2 HSTs (half square triangles) or Triangle Squares. Cut all the squares apart on the drawn line.

Let’s press our HSTs open with the seam towards the blue fabric. Do you set your seams? This just means pressing your seams with the block closed before you press them with the block open. I was taught that it sets the stitches in the fabric which makes your seams nicer. I don’t know why it works, but it simply does. Don’t forget to take the time to trim off all the little ears that stick out beyond the corners. Don’t skip this step, because if you leave them there, they will skew your seams.

No, I hadn’t cut off the little ears yet when I took this photo, but you will notice in the next photo, the little ears are gone.

I think the next step is really cool! Layer a red square RST on a blue/white HST. Draw a diagonal line from corner to opposite corner (white to blue, NOT in the same direction as the seam for the HST, but across it).

Here’s where a lot of folks might get a little confused — this time, SEW ON THE LINE. We are making a “flippy corner,” not a HST.

I don’t know if you get direction-challenged like I do sometimes when quilting, but to keep myself from sewing on the wrong end or messing up my placement, I make a sample in order to see how I need to layer things and feed them into my machine. I have found that being left-handed sometimes makes it hard for me to manage directionality.

Moving on……once you have all your “flippy corners” sewn onto your HSTs, time to cut away the waste on the “flippy corners,” 1/4″ away from your sewing line.

We’re in the homestretch now! Go ahead and press your “flippy corner” HSTs. Set your seams, then press the seam allowance to the red.

That wasn’t too bad, was it????

Let’s sew our corner Star blocks together now, just like a Nine Patch block! I like to lay out my blocks on a small felt board (made from a flannel fat quarter, a firm piece of cardboard, and duct tape to hold the flannel taut). That way, I can sew the block together right at my sewing machine. Since I’m such a “Lazy Quilter” (this is what a lot of my pals call me, anyway), I actually layered all four of my blocks on my flannel board and I’ll just sew all 4 blocks together. Then I’ll press them after I sew them together.

And here are my four corner Star blocks all sewn and pressed. Aren’t they really pretty???

Now let’s finish putting the Daring Spirit quilt together.

Refer to the panel width measurement you wrote down earlier. Sew your top and bottom strips together and cut to this measurement. Now sew your Star blocks to each end of your strip sets. Make 2 — one for the top and one for the bottom. Press your strips carefully.

Sew your strips to the top and bottom of your quilt.

Quilt top DONE!

Now, quilt it. Bind it. And don’t forget your label!

Well, that’s it for this week. Stay cool!

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Designer Spotlights · Quilt As Desired · Rose Cards · villa rosa designs

VRD Designer Spotlight Interview with Shankari Paradee of Sewl Sister

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

I am sew excited to be interviewing Villa Rosa Designs’s NEWEST Designer, Shankari Paradee. of Sewl Sister www.sewlsister.com today.

Shankari Paradee of Sewl Sister

Tricia: Hello Shakari! Welcome to Villa Rosa Quilts!

Shankari: Hi Everyone! Glad to be here.

Tricia: Let’s get started!

Shankari: All right, let’s go!

Tricia: How did you meet Pat Fryer, the owner and “Rose Queen” of Villa Rosa Designs, or how did you become part of the VRD family of designers?

Shankari: I went to a quilt retreat in Texas, where I met Catherine Cureton of Running Doe Quilts.  She has several patterns with Villa Rosa Designs and encouraged me to connect with Pat.  It took us a minute to get together as we all had busy schedules but we made it happen!

Tricia: How did you discover quilting?  How long have you been quilting?

Shankari: I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl, starting with hand sewing doll clothes.  I grew up with sewing in my family.  When I moved to Oklahoma from Canada in 2006, my parents gifted me a beautiful 1960’s Viking sewing machine.  I pieced and quilted my first quilt on that machine. I now own a long arm and started my long arm journey in 2016.

Tricia: What’s your favorite quilt block(s)?

Shankari: Friendship block is one of my favorites.  I love the half-square triangle block because it’s such a simple block and you can use it to make so many other different blocks.

Friendship Star Block

Tricia: I really like that block too. And you’re right — there are sew many different variations. How did you make the leap from being a quilter to becoming a quilt designer?

Shankari: Once I got comfortable with piecing, I felt confident to venture out into the design world.  I’ve only been designing for a couple of years and I have learned so much!

Tricia: You’re right — being a designer is all about learning, isn’t it? Can you tell us a little bit about your design process?

Shankari: Sometimes, I just doodle a design and it turns into a quilt design.  Sometimes, I am looking for a specific style or feel and I go with my instincts on what I feel looks good.  I also talk to other quilty friends to see what their thoughts are on my design.  It’s always nice to have perspective.

Tricia: What is your favorite/least favorite part of the quilt-making process?

Shankari: I like it all and I think my least favorite would have to be binding.

Tricia: I am with you, Shankari! Binding is not my favorite part of designing and making quilts. What are your top 3 favorite quilting tools?  Why?

Shankari: I love my rotary cutter, it makes cutting fabric so much easier. I could not live without various sized cutting mats.  I can use smaller ones while traveling and teaching classes and I have two large ones on my sewing table. Binding clips are a life-saver!  They help make the binding process easier.

Tricia: For me, I couldn’t live without my computer, Electric Quilt software, or my rotary cutter! What are you working on now?  Any new patterns in the works?  Can you give us a sneak peek?

Shankari: I am working on a pattern for VRD coming up and I have another one coming up with a group of quilters that will be out in celebration of Jelly Roll Day in September.  You can always check out my Instagram for sneaky peeks! LOL! @hellosewlsister

Tricia: These are Shankari’s Rose Card patterns, you can purchase them HERE.

Shankari’s current patterns at Villa Rosa Designs

Tricia: You just had 2 new patterns come out in July, didn’t you?

Shankari: Yes, I did — Dainty Machines and Optic.

Tricia: Great patterns! You can find them here for purchase — Dainty Machines and Optic. Let’s shift gears a little bit — what’s your favorite book? 

Shankari: Right now — One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Tricia: Type of music/musician? 

Shankari: Ed Sheeran

Tricia: Movie? 

Shankari: Sense and Sensibility

Tricia: Hah! I’m a Janite too! TV show?

Shankari: Downton Abbey

Tricia: Me too! What do you do when you are not quilting/designing?

Shankari: I’m usually running around with my kids or spending time with my family. 😊  I also moonlight as a cardiac nurse.

Tricia: Kiddos and nursing? When do you even have time for quilting? Do you have any advice to quilters who want to become quilt designers? 

Shankari: Don’t get bogged down by other designers and what they are doing.  It’s easy to feel like you’re just another quilter in the quilt pond, and there’s room for all of us.  Just design from your heart and “sewl”.  Design what feels good for you and you can’t go wrong.

Tricia: Anything else you’d like us to know about you? 

Shankari: I love to work with scraps and I’m on a mission to create a world with no landfill fabric.  I like to keep my quilt patterns as least wasteful as possible on fabric, and use simple cuts of fabric. I love teaching sewing and quilt-piecing.  If I can do it, you can too and I can teach you how. I have at least 8 sewing machines to my name, maybe that’s not too many?! Feel free to reach out and connect with me on social media or email:

www.sewlsister.com

www.instagram.com/hellosewlsister

www.facebook.com/hellosewlsister

Hellosewlsister@gmail.com

Tricia: Thank you sew much, Shankari, for taking the time to tell us about yourself. We are all looking forward to your upcoming VRD patterns!

Shankari: Thanks for having me on the blog!

There you have it, Quilty Friends!

How cool is it to get to know the quilt designers behind the VRD Rose Card patterns? Stay tuned for more Designer Spotlight Interviews coming soon.

Well, that’s it for this week.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Rose Cards · villa rosa designs

Fireworks and the NEW Villa Rosa Quilt Patterns for July

Hello Quilty Friends!

Another Happy Thursday to you!

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe 4th of July week end — how fun that the actual July 4th was on Monday. I bet a lot of you had a 3 day week end. Sew, what did you do for the holiday?

And I’d like to add a belated Happy Canada Day for our friends in Canada! How did you celebrate?

Celebrating the 4th of July for me is usually family, food, and fireworks in no particular order. I personally saw fireworks 3 times — 2 were live and 1 was a live stream of Boom over the Bay in Erie, PA. I love watching fireworks, although I am not a fan of the big booms themselves. I saw a lot of new fireworks this past week end, including hearts and stars as well as some awesome color combinations. Did you know that the Chinese invented fireworks thousands of years ago?

I even tried to capture a few photos of the amazing fireworks display in Sheakleyville, PA.

I even managed to start a new quilt project. Psst…….it’s red, white, and blue……and batik! Stay tuned for more on this project down the road.

Have you ever thought about creating a quilt that looks like fireworks? I do every time I see fireworks, but that’s as far as it ever goes. Maybe this year will be different and I’ll give it a try. Who knows?

NEW July VRD Patterns

Speaking of fireworks, the new July VRD patterns are out! Here’s my new table runner pattern for July, Firecracker:

Isn’t it fun? AND it goes together really really fast. You can order the pattern HERE. Or you can order a kit which includes the pattern HERE. Please keep in mind I don’t know how long the kit will be available so get yours now.

But wait! There’s MORE! (I just love saying that — it makes me giggle, although you might be rolling your eyes…)

One of the VRD folks came up with this super fun variation:

POPSICLES! How fun is this? And clever?? You can order the Firecracker Popsicles kit HERE. Again, I have no idea how long the kit will last, so get don’t wait to order yours.

And finally, here are the rest of the NEW patterns for July:

Aren’t they great? You can order all 5 cards for one low price HERE.

And these are the links to the kits (which include the pattern as well as the fabrics for the top and binding). Remember, there is no way to know how long the kits will last, so get yours now:

Sugar & Spice

Love Cats

Rainbow Road

Dainty Machines — Please note the kit for Dainty Machines makes a 32″ x 32″ quilt. Super cute, may I add! This would be perfect in your sewing room or as a gift for your fav quilting buddy.

Optic

Well, that’s it for this week.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

A Little Gardening and Cake Day Quilt Block Assembly Tips

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you! I hope you all are having a wonderful summer so far.

My summer just got a whole lot better! Just recently my family got in gear and finally got our little back porch raised garden planted. And our flowers, too. We may be running a little behind, but I have hopes that in late summer/early fall we’ll be enjoying some fresh veggies picked right out of our little garden pf goodness. If it goes well, next year we are going to add a second raised bed garden.

I used to be an avid gardener way back when, but gave up the year I planted my garden twice and the critters ate everything before it even had a chance to grow. That was it.

But now I’m excited to try container gardening. Besides, ”container gardening” sounds so trendy, don’t you agree?

Cake Day Quilt Block Assembly Tips

I thought I’d share a quick tutorial on how I put the Cake Day table runner quilt block together along with some of my favorite piecing tips.

Cake Day Table Runner Rose Card Pattern

You can get your own Cake Day Table Runner Rose Card pattern HERE.

Often, I prefer to cut out all my pieces for the blocks before I start sewing. I find this is usually quicker than cutting and sewing one block at a time.

Here you can see the pieces all laid out in the right order (all four blocks are stacked) on a flannel board and then I can simply take everything to my sewing machine. This works well if you have to stop in the middle and come back to your project later. Everything stays right where you left — unless of course, you have gremlins or leprechauns or some other little mischievous creatures running around your sewing room when you are not looking.

I have also found that laying out and stacking the pieces in order makes sewing them together faster and easier because I don’t have to stop and figure out where each piece goes.

With all the pieces cut and laid out right sides up, sewing them together is a breeze, especially when I chain-stitch the units one right after the other without cutting my thread in between the units.

Nope! No need to head to my ironing board after clipping the thread between the units, I just kept sewing and chain-stitched the other side too.

I have discovered that the less I press as I’m putting together quilt blocks, the less the blocks stretch or get distorted, which of course improves the accuracy of my sewing.

In the next photo you can see I have the left side background sewn to the Cake print rectangles. Now it’s time to sew the right side.

All right! All the units are sewn together and I’ve clipped the threads between them. I made double sure I layered the units again exactly the same as when I started — we’re ready for the next step.

Again, I’m going to ignore my iron (it must be getting lonely). Time to sew the units together. More chain piecing.

Want to know what happens when I get to seams (remember I haven’t done any pressing at this point)? I’ve already decided which way I wanted my seams to go so as I sew, I hold them down and keep on sewing. Pedal to the metal!

In this next photo you can see I sewed the top unit to the second unit. We’re on a roll — let’s keep sewing.

Okay, we’re almost there! I sewed the rest of the units all together and presto — all 4 of our blocks are now complete and I didn’t even have to get up from my sewing machine.

All right, all right, I relented and finally pressed my blocks — my iron was getting a little dusty from disuse.

Voila! Here is a finished Cake Day block. It’s a cutie, isn’t it?

My 4 blocks are now ready to assemble into a runner. There are sew many possibilities for this runner — birthdays, weddings, showers, parties, and the list goes on and on.

Any day can be a “Cake Day.” What’s yours?

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD