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Welcome to My Stars Quilts

We at Kansas City Star Quilts are pleased to announce our newest book-publishing imprint, My Stars. We’ll be bringing you beautiful and inspiring modern quilting books by top authors, with top-notch photography and compelling designs.

Our first book under the new imprint is a compilation effort that will come out in September. We’re leading up to the publication of this book by running Q&As with the authors every week on this site.

From here you can visit our bookstore, go to our other blog site and learn how you can submit a book proposal (buttons on the top menu).  Also, read some fun blog posts and get to know our authors. Enjoy!

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It’s time to party like it’s – 2014!

optical illusions blog partyAre you ready to get your party on? Then we have your invitation to the best blog party of the year! Starting Monday, 18 bloggers will show you how quilters throw a party as they help My Stars launch our newest book, Optical Illusions: Innovative Designs for the Modern Quilter.

Every day, you’ll learn a little about the inspiration behind each quilt by the designers themselves, and you’ll get to read reviews of the book from even more top quilt designers. And, of course, no party would be complete without door prizes! So mark your calendar for Monday, because you’re invited!

Here’s the lineup:

Nov. 3
My Stars – Kickoff, http://www.mystarsblog.com
Deb Rowden, http://www.debrowden.blogspot.com

Nov. 4
Angela Walters, http://www.quiltingismytherapy.com

Nov. 5
Penny Layman, http://www.sewtakeahike.typepad.com

Nov. 6
Melissa Corry, http://www.happyquiltingmelissa.com
Lily’s Quilts, http://www.lilysquilts.blogspot.com
Fat Quarter Shop, http://www.fatquartershop.blogspot.com

Nov. 7
My Stars on behalf of Mary Kay Fosnacht and Karen Hansen, http://www.mystarsblog.com

Nov. 10
Jamie David, http://www.patchworkarchitect.blogspot.com

Nov. 11
Tia Curtis, http://www.tiacurtisquilts.blogspot.com
Elizabeth Timmons, http://www.andpins.wordpress.com
Tammie Schaffer, http://www.craftytammie.com

Nov. 12
Katie Larson, http://www.thecraftingshell.blogspot.com

Nov. 13
Jenifer Dick, http://www.42quilts.com
Trisch Price, http://www.hadleystreetquilts.com

Nov. 14
Jessica Toye, http://www.jesstoyequilts.wordpress.com/blog-2/
Jacquie Gering, http://www.tallgrassprairiestudio.blogspot.com
Shea Henderson, http://www.emptybobbinsewing.com

optical illusions coverDoor prizes

These companies have generously donated a great variety of quilting items we know you want!

•    10 copies of Optical Illusions: Innovative Designs for the Modern Quilter from My Stars Quilts, the modern imprint of Kansas City Star Quilts
•    Fat quarter bundle from Oakshott Cottons
•    Three 5-inch charm packs from Oakshott Cottons
•    Naptime Bella Solids fat quarter bundle from the Fat Quarter Shop
•    Fabric bundle of Barbara Brackman prints
•    Fat quarter bundle of Athena by Angela Walters
•    A large and small Kaleido-Ruler set by Marti Michell
•    And from Robert Kaufman, three packs of skinny rolls, three packs of charm squares and three Kona color cards

See you Monday!

‘Optical Illusions’ Q&A: Penny Layman

optical illusions coverWe conclude our series of interviews with the 10 designers featured in our latest book, Optical Illusions: Innovative Designs for the Modern Quilter, with Penny Layman and her quilt Blurred Vision. The simplicity and boldness of this quilt makes it brilliant. Easy to piece but hard to define, this illusion is a blurry, dizzy, wonderful optical illusion.

Penny is an accomplished paper piecer who designs and teaches. (She taught at QuiltCon 2013.) Her work has been published in a variety of magazines and books and on her blog. She designs and sells original patterns for the paper-piecing pattern shop and blog Sew-Ichigo. BlurredVision_D1_2

Sewing has been Penny’s passion for years. She loves to inspire and teach others, guiding them along their creative journey with joy and lots of laughter. Penny blogs at sewtakeahike.typepad.com. She is a member of the Fort Collins Modern Quilt Guild in Colorado.


How did you learn to quilt?

I grew up sewing clothing and home dec projects and never even thought of quilting. I was actually tentative about starting to quilt because several of my friends told me that if I started quilting, I would lose all desire to sew anything else. I’m so happy to say that hasn’t happened!

Penny Layman

Penny Layman

How do you approach quilt design?

My approach to quilt design is rarely systematic or mathematical, but more random and improv. Which is in sharp contrast to my process for designing paper pieced blocks, which is very systematic!

What’s your favorite color to work with?  

This is such a simple question, but so hard to answer. My favorite color is green. However, I find myself using aqua a lot, often mixed with orange.2014-06-28 20.00.32-3

What’s the strangest inspiration you’ve had for a quilt?

A pair of underwear!2014-03-02 14.23.27-1

What was your first modern quilt?  

I consider myself a vintage modern quilter. I like to use an element of the past or something of sentimental value in all my quilts. I think this often leads my quilts to look less modern than most, but that’s just my style. Probably my first more modern quilt was a wonky triangle quilt I made for a friend’s baby.2009-12-14 21.13.03

What drew you to modern quilting?

Honestly, I am a modern quilter because there seemed to be a prevalence of quilting police in the traditional quilting world. And because I, like so many others, don’t like to be judged and told what to do because “this is how we do it,” the modern quilting movement really appealed to me.

2014-03-17 08.09.10-2How many UFOs do you have right now? (Be honest!)

I really don’t know! I have so many things in the works at any given moment, I don’t know how I get anything done. I started a quilt using my dad’s shirts yesterday and am in the process of cutting out enough for two more for two of my brothers. I have a yo-yo quilt I’ve been working on for three years that I need to sew together, five quilt tops in my closet, a new pattern of pj bottoms that I’m working on for a “slumber party” quilt pattern, two shirts cut out ready to sew, tons of blocks on my design wall … you probably get the picture!  2014-02-21 16.04.33-3

7 quilting hacks that will save you $$$

Quilters are arguably the most frugal crafters on earth. Here are some hacks that might save you some bucks.

1(1)1. Soup bowls, serving bowls and dinner plates make perfectly round templates for applique circles and rounding off the corners of quilts.

2(1)2. Girls’ snap hair clips make the perfect tool for hand sewing binding down. You just need a few at a time. Fold the binding over and clip in a few places, sew and move the clips down as you get to them.

3(1)3. You’re supposed to use orange sticks to push back your cuticles, but they also make a great stiletto.  Orange sticks are made of a soft wood, so they won’t break if you hit them with the needle, and they are cheap and plentiful. They also work for applique to fold over the seam allowance when preparing shapes on freezer paper.

4(1)4. An old prescription bottle is great for storing needles and pins that are dull and bent. When the bottle is full, you can safely throw away the needles and pins.

55.  Parchment paper makes a great appliqué pressing sheet when using fusible web.

66.  Chopsticks can be used to turn out points – then enjoy dinner!

77.  Elmer’s School Glue is great for basting appliqué shapes down on the background fabric and for basting binding. You can also use it instead of pins at tricky intersections so your seams line up perfectly.

BonusBonus: Use the outside of a cloth cosmetic bag to store hand-sewing needles. Keep thread, binding clips, small scissors and your thimble inside for a binding kit that is always ready to go!

What’s your favorite frugal tip?

‘Optical Illusions’ Q&A: Jaime David

optical illusions coverWe continue our series of interviews with the 10 designers featured in our latest book, Optical Illusions: Innovative Designs for the Modern Quilter, with Jaime David. Her quilt, Aura, was inspired by The Interaction of Color, by Josef Alber, and is on the cover of Optical Illusions.

“I discovered an optical illusion image online that used color to create a glowing effect, and this served as the basis of my quilt design,” Jaime says. “The success of this quilt is all about color selection and placement.”

Jaime has a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture and is working on a master’s of fine art in textiles at the University of Kansas. She is a founding member of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild. An avid Bernina enthusiast, she has been selling Bernina machines since 2008.

Jaime works in Kansas City, Missouri, as a textiles artist and has made it her mission to share the joy of sewing with others by teaching workshops and classes.auragallery


How did you learn to quilt?

Jaime David

Jaime David

I decided to learn to sew after I got married and am mostly self-taught. I was drawn to the processes in quilting because of the parallels in skill sets with my architectural design background. I learned to quilt by trial and error (mostly the later), but something about it provided an exciting adventure with each new project. I am constantly learning with quilting, and that is what keeps me interested in it.

How do you approach quilt design?

I approach quilting the same way I approach other design work, like a puzzle. This often starts with questions, followed by a self-imposed list of objectives. This could be derived from wanting to work with a specific fabric or color combination. I also like to push myself to try new techniques or ways to approach the process. It would be hard for me to classify myself as one type of quilter because I am always looking for something new.

What’s your favorite color to work with?

I love all the colors and my favorite changes. I’ve been drawn to shades of salmon and pink recently. As a kid, my favorite crayon was always blue-green. I think I will always be a fan of the blue-green colors.

albercolorstudyWhat’s the strangest inspiration you’ve had for a quilt?

Although I don’t think it’s a strange inspiration, I’ve been inspired by the work of Anni Albers, a weaver. I have made three quilts inspired by her work. I think she was a true pioneer in textiles and design. In 2005, I saw the exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York, “Josef and Anni Albers: Designs for Living.” It was a pivotal moment for me. Their work has influenced my approach to how I create and think about art and design.

Anni, by Jaime David

Anni, by Jaime David

What was your first modern quilt?

My first modern quilt was Ice Pops, from Denyse Schmidt’s book, Quilts. I thought I would hand quilt it, too (as she does in the book). However, after about three rows of hand stitching, I quit and switched to the machine. This is also the first quilt I made to keep for myself.

Ice Pops, by Jaime David

Ice Pops, by Jaime David

What drew you to modern quilting?

I think the idea of modern quilting is a funny thing to explain. I’m reading a book about quilting by Carrie Hall, The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America, that was written in the 1930s, and she talks a lot about modern quilting in this book. Honestly, I don’t think a whole lot has changed about the spirit of quilting. I think I’m just a small part of a bigger whole picture of quilting. If you are a quilter, you know there is something about it that just has a hold on you, and you can’t help but to be a little bit crazy for it. I’m totally captivated by all of it – the fabric, the people and the act of making.

How many UFOs do you have right now? (Be honest!)

Are we talking just quilts? I’m guessing when I say six, and that doesn’t include the work that I will be creating for my master of fine art thesis show in the spring, which I anticipate will be quilts!

What’s the next quilt you plan to make?

It’s top secret, for my thesis … . In other words, I have absolutely no idea.


Our next Optical Illusions Q&A: Penny Layman, Oct. 22

‘Optical Illusions’ Q&A: Mary Kay Fosnacht

optical illusions coverHere’s another installment in our series of interviews with the 10 designers featured in our latest book, Optical Illusions: Innovative Designs for the Modern Quilter, with Mary Kay Fosnacht. Her quilt, Tangerine Tumbler, is based on the traditional block, Tumbler.

Mary Kay says of her quilt: “The Tumbler block has been around for a long time, but when done in shades of light, medium and dark, it takes on a dimensional, ‘building-type’ feel. I think the diamond shape adds dimension and, when given a pop of color, brings the whole quilt to life.”

You can see her full quilt in Optical Illusions, which is available now.

Detail from Tangerine Tumbler, by Mary Kay Fosnacht

Detail from Tangerine Tumbler, by Mary Kay Fosnacht

Mary Kay was born in Chicago and graduated from Illinois Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, with degrees in music education and sacred music. In the early 1990s, she and her husband and two children moved to Overland Park, Kansas.

“My husband went to work, the kids went to school, and I went to the fabric store,” she said.

Thus began her quilting journey.

Mary Kay enjoys the entire process of quiltmaking from conception to adding a label, especially the creative aspect of taking a thought and making it tangible. The modern aesthetic has allowed her to develop her creativity in a new way. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking in the mountains in Colorado, playing piano and photography.


How did you learn to quilt?

Mary Kay Fosnacht

Mary Kay Fosnacht

I took sewing classes in high school and made most of my own clothes. I didn’t learn to quilt until my family moved to Kansas in the early ’90s. Walking through the fabric store one day, I saw the book, Watercolor Impressions, by (Pat Maixner) Margaret and (Donna Ingram) Slusser, and just had to make the piano quilt featured on the cover. Later, I took quilting classes to learn how to quilt it.

How do you approach quilt design?

I approach quilt design by first looking for inspiration, which comes in many forms. Sometimes the inspiration comes from other quilts, but often it comes from something totally unrelated, such as nature, photographs or other art forms. In particular, I look for color and the overall feel of the inspiration and challenge myself to come up with something different.

What’s your favorite color to work with?

My favorite color evolves over time. I went through a red and green phase at one time. My current favorite is orange, followed closely by hot pink.

Fosnacht_MagnoliaWhat’s the strangest inspiration you’ve had for a quilt?

Strangest inspiration? I saw a checkerboard circle and had to make one. Of course, one wasn’t enough, and I ended up making many. The quilt I made using that design element was the first quilt where I threw caution to the wind and did “my own thing.” I wouldn’t call it a successful design, but it was a turning point in my quilt journey.

What was your first modern quilt?

My first modern quilt was inspired by Yoshiko Jinzenji’s book, Quilting Line and Color. I had never owned white fabric before that quilt and have since used many yards.

Fosnacht_PinkWhat drew you to modern quilting?

From the very first meeting I attended of the KCMQG (the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild), I knew that modern was the direction I wanted to take my quilts. I was drawn to the enthusiasm of the group, the fresh-looking designs and fearlessness of the quilters.

How many UFOs do you have right now? (Be honest!)

UFOs = five, plus two charity quilts that need to be quilted.

FosnachtWhat’s the next quilt you plan to make?

The goal for my next quilt is to do something small and quick. I would also like to make one that reflects life in Kansas for an upcoming Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) show.


Our next Optical Illusions Q&A: Jaime David, Oct. 15

6 Quilts You Forgot You Love

From Top My Stars Designers

Quilts come and go so fast. As soon as we decide on our next project, a new quilt comes across our news feed, making us forget the previous one. Here are some beautiful quilts you might have forgotten from My Stars. How many of these do you remember?
KingWatermark1. King’s Treasure, by Lynne Goldsworthy, from Classic Modern Quilts: 10 Quilts Inspired by Historical Kansas City Star Blocks, 2013
FansWatermark2. Electric Fans, by Susan Strong, from Classic Modern Quilts
ModWatermark3. Modern Red Cross, by Amy Smart, from Classic Modern Quilts
UnchurnedWatermark4. Unchurned, by Trisch Price, from Accentuate the Negative: Making the Most of Negative Space in Modern Quilts, 2013

Aware_Watermark5. Aware, by Trisch Price, from Accentuate the Negative

HandymanWatermark6. Handyman, by Jenifer Dick, from Quilt Retro: 11 Designs to Make Your Own, 2011

GrapeWatermarkBonus: Grape (variation), by Deb Rowden, from Quilting a Poem, 2003, by Francis Kite and Debra Rowden. This is a classic. Imagine it in modern fabrics.


Appliqué the modern way

By Tammie Schaffer

Tammie Schaffer

Tammie Schaffer

Appliqué, long considered a traditional method, has gained appeal with many modern quiltmakers. Appliqué can open up a whole world of shapes. Add in the variety of ways to incorporate this into your design, and the possibilities are endless.

Appliquéing is essentially just layering one fabric to another. Traditionally, it’s achieved with needle and thread, but you can also use fusible web, glue or a combination of techniques to adhere the layers. Each has its own devoted following, and odds are there’s one style that appeals to you more than the rest.

In raw-edge appliqué, the edges are not turned under or stitched down. It can give you an industrial, modern feel or a comfy, laid back tone. The use of a fusible web to place pieces gives you a secure base to stitch on, and leaving the edges unfinished means they will fray and add texture to your quilt. Just check out Jessica Toye’s quilt designs and imagine the possibilities.

Drift Away, by Jessica Toye. Photo courtesy  Jessica Toye.

Drift Away quilt, by Jessica Toye. Photo courtesy Jessica Toye.

Her combination of negative space, intricate quilting and somewhat monochromatic color schemes create these cool quilts. She begins by manipulating a photograph using Photoshop, and then traces the doctored photo to create her appliqué pieces. They are fused down, and then her quilting adds even more design and dimension. Look at the fun details quilted in her Chugga Chigga quilt, such as the plumes of steam coming from the train.

Chugga Chugga quilt, by Jessica Toye.

Chugga Chugga quilt, by Jessica Toye.

Casey York is another modern maker who loves appliqué. She uses hand-embroidered, raw-edge appliqué that adds a touch of dimension and sheen to the design. I love how she arranged the appliqués into a hexagon shape in her Apiary quilt. It’s a great use of negative space. She draws inspiration from her background in art history and teaches workshops on modern appliqué, hand-finished appliqué and improvisational appliqué. She is scheduled to lecture at QuiltCon 2015.

Apiary quilt, by Casey York. Photo courtesy  Casey York.

Apiary quilt, by Casey York. Photo courtesy Casey York.

Flowerfall quilt, by Casey York. Photo courtesy Casey York.

Flowerfall quilt, by Casey York. Photo courtesy Casey York.

A collage technique, such as the one Shannon Brinkley uses in her quilts, can let you suggest different textures by using different shapes. It’s also a fantastic way to use up scraps.

Tree Mosaic quilt, by Shannon Brinkley. Photo courtesy  Shannon Brinkley.

Tree Mosaic quilt, by Shannon Brinkley. Photo courtesy Shannon Brinkley.

Shannon has two ways of creating these appliqués. Sometimes she starts with a larger piece of fabric, applies the fusible to the wrong side, and then cuts out the shapes. Another method is to take smaller pieces and fuse them together. This creates a mosaic you can then cut into any shape you desire.

Or you can use raw edges by doing a reverse appliqué. Instead of a fabric being attached on top of a base fabric, you layer the fabric from the backside, stitching through both layers. You then cut away the top layer to reveal the fabric underneath. Alabama Chanin uses this technique a lot in her clothing and projects. You can also try this with a variety of materials, such as knits or felted wool. Those fabrics won’t fray when cut, allowing for a cleaner edge in your finished work.

If the unfinished edge isn’t the look you’re going for, you can always try your hand at needle-turned appliqué. This involves turning the ¼-inch seam allowance under the appliqué as you hand stitch it to the background. Some stitchers use glue basting, using a few small dots of glue to hold their piece in place while they stitch it down. Others recommend using a stabilizer as well, to keep the fabrics from shifting or puckering during stitching.

Swim Said the Mama pillow, by Tammie Schaffer.

Swim Said the Mama pillow, by Tammie Schaffer.

Jenifer Dick developed a method using freezer paper and invisible thread to stitch down her appliqués. It gives the look of hand stitching, with the ease of machine sewing. She uses simple shapes and bold solids and prints to design her striking appliqué quilts. I made this fish pillow during one of her workshops on invisible appliqué. You can find some of her designs in her book Quilt Retro: 11 Designs to Make Your Own.

Jenifer and Jessica are among designers featured in  Optical Illusions: Innovative Designs for the Modern Quilter.  Kansas City Star Quilts’ latest book published under the My Stars imprint.

You can add appliqué to any project. It is effective on both plain and patchwork backgrounds. Luke Haynes creates his quilts by improv piecing the backgrounds, usually from upcycled material, and then appliquéing his realistic images on top. The patchwork background can add depth and interest to your overall design.

Clothes Portrait #1 - Cupcake quilt, by Luke Haynes.

Clothes Portrait #1 – Cupcake quilt, by Luke Haynes.

Broderie perse is thought to be one of the earliest forms of appliqué. Large motifs, usually a bird or flower, are fussy cut and applied to a solid background.

Another technique involves folding the fabric and then cutting out a design, similar to making a paper snowflake. These symmetrical designs are called Tahitian or Hawaiian appliqué, depending on whether you fold the fabric in fourths or in eighths. Tile quilts are made with fabric pieces laid onto a white background, allowing the white to show as a “grout” between the appliqué “tiles.”

I hope you’ll try some appliqué in your next project. Explore these different styles. There’s sure to be a method that will work for you.

If there’s a technique I didn’t mention, please let me know in the comments.  I’d love to hear about it.

Tammie Schaffer is a freelance writer who lives in Richmond, Kansas. She writes every other Friday. Visit her at craftytammie.