Category: quilting DVDs

Simplify Set-in Piecing and a Giveaway

SewCalGal has been researching ways for quilters to improve their Precision Piecing skills.  I was delighted to learn that Mary Huey has a DVD for precision piecing set-in seams, which also shares insights on chain piecing!  This DVD is called “Simplified Set-in Piecing” and I’m very happy to share insights with you today on this excellent DVD.

Many quilters avoid designs that require set-in piecing as they either don’t know how, or are uncomfortable with such piecing.  SewCalGal can honestly recommend this DVD as an excellent resource for those wanting to learn how to work with set-in pieced designs, as well as to learn how to chain piece these designs!  

Mary Huey is a quilt designer and teacher, who also owned a quilt shop for 26 years.  She is also a certified teacher for Marti Mitchell and enjoys traveling and teaching quilters.  

Here are a few of her inspirational quilts Mary made using a chained piece technique for sewing Y-Seams.  And, this technique also works with rotary cutting!

The description on this DVD provides a honest perspective of the DVD workshop:

This is a 30 minute workshop on how to chain-piece through set-in seams.  I have taught this process for the past year perfecting my presentation and finding the pitfalls.  Now you can add this simple technique to your quiltmaking arsenal and enjoy the process of stitching set-in seams.  I teach with Marti Michell’s rotary cutting products and encourage you to use them as well.  Check out all those options while you are on my shopping page

Price $15.95

There is also a short promotional Youtube that shares more insights about Mary’s DVD:

If you are on a MAC, or have problems watching this embedded video, here is the link to watch it directly in youtube:

My Review:

This is a “must have” DVD for any quilter interested in learning Y-seams or how to chain piece Y-Seams.  It is priced quite low and yet provides so much value.  The video is of high quality and Mary has an excellent style of teaching.  Also included is a pattern to get you started with step by step instructions for chain piecing blocks that require set-in seams such as y-seams (tumbling blocks, 6 and 8 pointed blocks, hexagons, etc).

Photography and editing for this DVD is superb!  This workshop thoroughly shows you every step to make Y-Seams using chain piecing techniques with precise piecing.  And this DVD is 31.27 minutes.  You can start/stop/repeat anytime you want.  

The video shows you how to precisely cut fabric to make a tumbler block using Marti Mitchell’s templates, but you can use this technique and tips shared in this DVD with other templates, as well as apply to your own templates.  (note:  SewCalGal has not yet used Marti Mitchell templates, but understands they are highly accurate and easy to use).

Using quality templates can help you precisely cut your fabrics, which is a good first step in precise piecing!

In this DVD, you also learn how to mark your cut pieces to get that perfect 1/4″ seam at the corners.  And Mary shows you how to sew the tumbler block together using a chain piecing technique.  You’ll also learn how to press these blocks and assemble all the blocks for your project to get precise piecing, with nice flat seams.

I also enjoyed the tips Mary shared to trouble shoot, if you don’t get a flat seam and how you can fix it!

I hope you can see why SewCalGal can honestly recommend this DVD.  It is a great way to learn and offers a great value.  It can be ordered through Mary’s online store.

You can find Mary Huey Quilts at:

While Mary does travel and teach, you may also want to talk with your Quilt Guild and/or local Quilt Shop workshop coordinator to have Mary come teach in your area.   She offers a variety of workshops and presentations, which are all listed on her website.   Mary is also setup for wholesale orders, should you want to let your favorite quilt shops know you’d like them to carry her DVD.

I also wanted to share insight with you on some near term workshops that may be in your area for you to take a class with Mary:  

May 23-25, 2014 Mary is teaching a Scrappy Tumbling Blocks, Scrappy 8-point Star, and a 6-pointed Star Workshops during the NQA Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio.

May 30, 2014 Mary is teaching an English Paper Piecing workshop at The Sew’n Place in Chambersburg, PA  717-263-5606

For those attending Spring Quilt Market, a trade show event,  Mary has a Schoolhouse presentation at 1:20pm on Thursday, May 15th.

Did I Mention A Giveaway?

Mary is generously sponsoring a giveaway for one lucky blog follower of SewCalGal and she will kindly ship this prize to a quilter anywhere in the world.

The prize bundle will consist of the new “Simplify Set-in Piecing” DVD, by Mary Huey and a Multi-size 60 degree Diamond Tool which allows you to cut diamonds from 2′ to 4 1/2″.

To enter to win, blog followers can simple leave a comment on this post.  Consider sharing insights if you have ever made any set-in pieced blocks or not.  And, if you have worked with set-in seams, please let me know if you chain pieced them?  I’m simply curious what you think about y-seams and if you are interested in learning more about them.

 A winner will be randomly selected on May 26th.  SewCalGal will also send them an email to notify them that they are a winner and they’ll have 3 days to claim their prize, or another winner will be selected.


 The Random Number Generator selected lucky number 12 as the winner.  Congratulations to Connie (Free Motion Quilting By The River).

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2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge – Bonus Tutorial, by Susan Brubaker Knapp

I am happy to have Susan Brubaker Knapp as one of our FMQ Experts, for the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge. And, delighted to share insights with you today about this very talented woman.

Susan Brubaker Knapp is a fiber artist, author and teacher. She is best known for her free-motion thread sketching (thread work done on the surface of a piece before quilting), her highly realistic fused appliqué, and her wholecloth painting techniques. She is the author of two books, most recently, “Point, Click, Quilt! Turn Your Photos into Fabulous Fabric Art(C&T Publishing, 2011).

And, she is the author of  three DVDs with Interweave/Quilting Arts. 

Dynamic Quilt Design: Paint Meets Stitch

Mastering Machine Stitching: Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics

Master Machine Quilting:  Free-Motion Stitching and Thread Sketching

Her work has been included in several national magazines and calendars, and has been twice featured on the cover of Quilting Arts magazine. Susan has been a guest on Quilting Arts TV, with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, and on Mark Lipinski and Pat Sloan’s radio programs. She lives near Charlotte, NC, with her husband and two daughters. 

Susan has created an excellent tutorial for participants in the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge and it is being released as a “bonus” tutorial, but SewCalGal hopes everyone will take advantage of this tutorial, enjoy the tips and inspiration, and complete the tutorial to learn and improve their FMQ skills.  This tutorial contains text, images and a video.  To help non-english speaking participants, a text transcription of the video will be posted shortly and a link will be added to this post.

You can find Susan at:

Tutorial for Free-Motion Quilting, by Susan Brubaker Knapp:

“Free-motion Quilting Challenge: Finding fabulous motifs in your environment”


Unique quilting designs are as nearby as your environment. This past week, I challenged myself to find interesting motifs around my house. Armed with my digital camera, I snapped away at both man-made and natural things others might find boring, mundane, or downright unattractive. My air conditioner. The roof of my car port. Rusty old antique tools. I used these images to create the quilting designs … and surprise! I like some of them a lot. 

Here is the photo of a holly tree in my side yard. It’s not that interesting a photo; all those shades of green kind of blend together to create nothing very remarkable. But I love how the quilting design (above) turned out. 


This motif is based on bark from my dogwood tree.


This is the top of my air-conditioning unit. (And let me pause right here and say a prayer of gratitude for my beloved air conditioner. How I love you, especially in August in North Carolina!) Straight lines offer a challenge to free-motion quilters. Don’t worry if yours wobbles a bit; it just adds to the charm.


For this design, I repeated the motif formed by a cool old wire tool I have hanging on my back porch. It is part of my mother’s collection that I recently inherited.

I know you are now dying to see the other cool old wooden and rusty metal stuff I have on my back porch, so here’s a photo:


This is one of those plastic drainage pipes you install underground. Except ours has worked its way up to the surface.


I like this one a lot, but think I would like it better if it included the pointy tip of the fern. 

Ready to try it yourself?  Here’s my tutorial, my challenge to you:

What you’ll need:
A digital camera
Tracing paper
Black permanent pen
Mechanical chalk pencil
Fat quarter of solid or hand-dyed fabric you love for the front
Fat quarter of fabric for the backing
Batting (I like low-loft cotton batting, but use what you like best)
Your favorite quilting thread (I use Aurifil Cotton Mako)
Basting safety pins

1. Get your digital camera ready to roll. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or really expensive camera. Mine cost about $100. You might even be able to use the camera feature on your smart phone, if you have one.

2. Acquaint yourself with the macro feature on your camera. Almost all cameras have them nowadays. (It’s the little button that looks like a tulip, and allows you to shoot very close up – about five inches away from your subject.) After you push the tulip button to turn on this feature, the most important thing to do is make sure you don’t zoom in at all, or it will be out of focus.

3. Set a timer for five or ten minutes.

4. Go outside, or inside your house and shoot everything you see with a strong, obvious texture or pattern. Try to disengage your brain; don’t think about what would be pretty or interesting. Don’t overthink. Just shoot, shoot, shoot. The timer will help you move along.

5. On your computer, pull up your digital images, and print them out at whatever size you want on plain paper. (My images were about 4″ x 7″.) Or have 4×6″ prints done at the place you usually go to have photographic prints made. 

6. Place a piece of tracing paper on top of your photos. Use a black permanent marker to draw the primary lines in the image. Don’t be overly fussy or trace every line. Focus on the main lines or outlines.



7. Choose a piece of fabric that is solid or primarily solid. I used a beautiful hand-dye in shades of fuchsia and raspberry. 

8. Place your traced image on a light box or brightly lit window and tape it down. Place your fabric over the image and tape it down. I marked out a series of rectangles in a grid on my fabric first, then aligned the designs before tracing.

9. Use a chalk pencil to trace the lines in your image. (I like Sewline and Bohin mechanical chalk pencils best because they leave dark, fine lines.)

10. Layer backing, batting and the top fabric and pin. 

11. Quilt! I used a finer thread than I usually quilt with, because I knew that at the scale I was working, I’d have some very small details. I used white 50-weight Aurifil Cotton Mako.

12. Do the outlines of all the rectangles first, then work on the designs. Try to follow your lines as best you can, but don’t get hysterical if you miss the lines. Don’t worry about backtracking (stitching over a previous line of stitch). Just aim to make it as smooth and graceful as you can, and focus on having fun.

13. If you want, use a small filler motif, such as a micro stipple or tiny pebbles, to fill in the backgrounds. I did this on the holly, fern, and drainage tube motifs, and found that it set off the details in the designs beautifully. 

You’ll find that these images provide you with lots of practice in doing many varieties of lines: long and straight, angular, curved, sharp, etc. And it will really open up your eyes to motifs that are all around you right now. Unique designs that are all yours. Carry your camera around wherever you go, and build up your own design library.

A whole bunch of these designs in a long vertical piece would make a cool piece of wall art. Set three by three, they’d make a great pillow.

note from SewCalGal:  Time to turn on your speaker volume, put up your feet, relax and enjoy Susan excellent video tutorial.  I do want to share that this video was truly a family production, with the entire Knapp family helping to create it.   Julia, Susan’s 12 year old daughter held the camera, truly a videographer extradordinaire!   Daughter Lea entertains us with beautiful music and I could only imagine how delightful it would be to quilt with such music playing!    And, husband Rob made an spectacular production assistant.   Great job Knapp Family!

{for non-English speaking participants, click here  to get a text transcription of this video that you can translate and use to follow along in this video.  Thanks to Maryellen McAuliffe for taking the time to provide this text transcription}.

  Thank you Susan 
and the entire Knapp Family  
for providing us with such a 
wonderful and inspirational tutorial!

While this challenge is focused on learning and/or improving our free-motion quilting skills, you also have the opportunity to win prizes. To be eligible to win a monthly prize, simply complete this “bonus” tutorial  anytime in 2012 and it can count as 1 of 12 FMQ tutorials that you need to complete to enter to win a Grand Prize.   But do remember this challenge is more about learning and improving your FMQ skills, so don’t rush thru the exercise just to enter. Take time to practice and embed this design to your muscle memory, before you enter. To clarify, DO NOT just add a link to your blog, but to your post that shows that you have completed this tutorial. You get one link, so keep practicing until you feel you are finished with this tutorial.

Susan is also generously giving away a copy of her DVD, “Mastering: Free-motion Stitching and Thread Sketching“.   And, she is willing to ship a copy of this DVD internationally, so all participants are eligible to win a copy, when they complete this tutorial anytime in 2012!
Here are instructions for how to enter:

Follow Susan’s tutorial taking pictures, print & trace them to create a design that you’ll stitch out on your practice sandwich.  If this may not be possible, SewCalGal will accept an entry for those that sketch out Susan’s fern on your practice sandwich and stitch it out.   Susan has also provided a PDF you can download, to use her beautiful fern design.

For bloggers:


Please post your entry on your blog. To clarify, you can include as many photos of this tutorial exercise in your post, but you can only add one link to the linky tool below. You may also want to include insights in your post about your past FMQ experience and thoughts about this tutorial. Totally, optional, but you may also want to let everyone know that you have taken the Pledge and you did this exercise to enter the the challenge this month, where randomly selected winners will win a prize. You may inspire others to want to join this challenge too!


For non-Bloggers:


1) You will need to have a Flickr account ( 
2) Upload your photos for this month’s challenge to Flickr, batch organize, send your photos to groups, select “2012 FMQ Challenge“. While Flickr, limits the amount of text you can share in your description, feel free to share your perspective on this exercise and/or your past FMQ experience, if you wish.
3) After your photos have successfully been loaded to the “2012 FMQ Challenge” group, click on your best photo in that group, ideally one that shows the stencil and how you quilted using that stencil. Copy the URL link to your particular photo entry. Add that link to the linky tool below, to officially enter.

note: While there was a unique group for each monthlychallenge, based on feedback the generic 2012 FMQ Challenge  group was been created that will hold all your photos for the remaining monthly challenges, so you will not need to rejoin a group on Flickr every month.

SewCalGal will randomly select a winner for the DVD prize, after the 2012 FMQ Challenge is completed.  The winner, along with all Grand Prize winners will be announced early January 2013.

Winner announced:  January 27th
winner:  Carol Mcdowell (Landscape Lady)  **declined/already has the DVD    🙂   **

Winner announced:  February 18th
winner:  Priscilla B

Don’t forget to visit Susan’s site (Blue Moon River) and her delightful blog, where she shares many fun insights.  You may also want to check out her page where she shares insights on her schedule for presentations and workshops. And, if you don’t find something in your area, you may want to talk with your local Quilt Guild Program Chair, or Quilt Store, to see about scheduling a workshop and/or presentation by Susan in your area.  This talented woman travels all over the world teaching and actually just recently returned from a fun trip to Africa!  Rumor has it, there were some quilters from the US that went on this trip and took classes with Susan – sounds delightful to me!

Copyright Reminder:  This site is copyright protected.  You are certainly authorized to print and use this tutorial for your own use. Please DO NOT print and share any part of this tutorial post, nor share electronically, without written permission from Susan Brubaker Knapp and SewCalGal.

Fun Friday Giveaway – Free-Motion Quilting Simplified, by Don Linn, aka Mr. Quilt

Happy Fun Friday.  Thank you to Don Linn for sponsoring our giveaway today.  Don is also one of the FMQ Experts that volunteered to help with the 2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge.  He provided an excellent video tutorial, which also shared many wonderful tips!

You may recall that I wrote a review, earlier this summer, about a new DVD Don had just created. If you are not familiar with this review, I hope you will take time to read my review to learn more about his DVD.   “Free-Motion Quilting Simplified” is a great DVD, for quilters of all levels and very reasonable priced.  It is loaded with tips and shows you how to design and stitch  beautiful ropes and feathers on your quilts.

Don Linn is a quilter, designer, teacher, author and very talented and fun guy.  

His published books include: “Free-Motion Machine Quilting

Sophisticated Stitches

and Design ART DECO Quilts.

Take time to visit Mr. Quilt’s website, to learn more about Don, as well as enjoy his online gallery:

Don has generously donated two copies of his new DVD, “Free-Motion Quilting Simplified“, one copy each, for two lucky winners.  

Thank you Don!

To enter to win a copy of his new DVD, public followers simply need to leave a comment on this post.  Two winners will be randomly selected and announced next Friday.  This giveaway is also open to non-US residents.  UPDATE:  This giveaway has been extended thru 9/6 due to schedule conflicts with the FMQ Challenge.  I’ll announce a winner on the 7th of September.

I want to thank a “Postage Angel” for helping with the giveaway this week, by donating funds for postage.  Thank you Danielle Hudson, you are a wonderful postage Angel.

I’m also happy to announce the winners of last weeks’ Fun Friday, sponsored by Cherry Blossoms Quilting Studio.  The winners are:

 Becky Greene won a copy of Feathered Christmas pattern
Diane won a copy of Feather Fancy pattern

I'm on Etsy! 

Both the Feathered Christmas and Feather Fancy patterns can be purchased  from Cherry Blossoms Shop.

DVD Review: Dynamic Quilt Design: Paint Meets Stitch and a Giveaway

Susan Brubaker Knapp recently introduced her 3rd DVD “Dynamic quilt Design: Paint Meets Stitch”, which was released through Quilting Arts Workshop.  This new DVD focuses on a method of wholecloth painting, with beautiful threadplay embellishment.

There is a wealth of information and inspiration in this latest DVD, all presented in a very organized and easy to follow approach that will help you learn to create an amazing piece of art.   Insights shared will also carry over to various forms of quilting and fibre-arts, but I do believe you’ll be amazed how much fun you can have combining Susan’s painting and stitching techniques.

This DVD is 69 minutes long and organized into the following video chapters: Supplies & Tools, Preparation/Getting Ready, Color Theory/Mixing Colors, Painting Techniques, Adding Details and Texture with Stitch, and more.

Susan provides easy to follow instructions to help you turn your photos into realistic wholecloth painted quilts.  She starts off sharing information on how to select the right photo, how to trace the design elements, how to enlarge your drawing, print it out, transfer the lines onto the fabric, and more.

I enjoyed her insights on basic color theory, as well as mixing paint colors, shades and tints.  She also did an excellent job on how to to actually paint your design, where you can use shadows and highlights to create a realistic picture. 

The ultimate highlight of this DVD, was all the insights Susan provided on how to use thread stitching to add depth to your painting.  It was this step that made beautiful paintings on fabric become spectacular pieces of art, where they truly become alive.   It truly is amazing to see how stitching thread can make such a difference.

The concepts shared in this DVD are demonstrated with Susan’s beautiful “Still Life With Cherries”, but they clearly carry over to a broad spectrum of turning your photos into realistic wholecloth painted quilts.

I also found it inspirational where Susan shared various projects that she has previously made, using the techniques shared in this DVD.  They were all spectacular.

Even if you do not consider yourself an artist, I truly think you’ll enjoy this DVD and have fun creating with insights shared in this DVD.  Susan does a great job sharing tips and inspiring, thus making this an excellent DVD for beginner (want-to-be) artists/quilters, for any quilter that wants to explore painting on fabric, as well as for those that have experience with painting on fabrics but want to expand their skills and/or teaching skills.

If you consider yourself a traditional quilter and want to broaden your skills, by learning new techniques, this is definitely a DVD that I recommend you check out.  I think you’ll love it.

Kelly Jackson (I Have a Notion) introduced me to Susan’s DVD “Master Machine Stitching – Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics”, which is also another great DVD.

Places you can find Susan:
Blue Moon River

Did I mention a giveaway ? 

Susan was generous to offer a copy of her new DVD “Dynamic Quilt Design: Paint Meets Stitch” to a follower of SewCalGal.  All you need to do is leave a comment and let me know you are interested in winning a copy of Susan’s new DVD. 

One lucky winner will randomly be selected on Friday, November 25th.  I’ll update this post and send out an email notice to the winner. Thus, be sure I have a way to contact you via email.

Want an extra entry?  Go “like” Susan on Facebook and leave an extra comment to let me know you did.

And don’t forget to check out the 2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge.  It will be like a BOM for those wanting to learn and/or improve their FMQ skills.  Susan is one of the 12 FMQ Experts for this event too.

The winner of this giveaway is Kim (Chatterbox Quilts).  Congratulations to Kim!

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