Tricks of the Challenge

Tonight I’ll be giving my first “Challenge Quilts” Lecture.  I’m really excited to go more in depth on how I tackle a challenge and share with the group some of my secrets/tricks to creating a quilt with just a little extra “Wow!” factor.

Because it’s next to impossible to put all the links to all my favorites on a sheet of paper I thought I could make this blog post for the group to refer to if they want any of the things I share and I figure it can’t hurt you all either.  So here are a few things I like to have at my finger tips while I’m working on a challenge.


6773487840_6f0c34ab38_zYes, I own a lot of quilting/crafting/art books.  But I LOVE them!  They’re always good for inspiration and techniques.  Here are a few I refer to frequently …

Burke, Alisa. Sew Wild: Creating with Stitch and Mixed Media: Interweave Press LLC, 2011. Print.
Day, Leah. 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs: Leah C Day, 2012. Print
Gilman, Rayna. Create your own free-form quilts: C&T Publishing, 2011. Print.
Hunter, Sam. Quilt Talk: Paper-Pieced Alphabet with Symbols & Numbers 12 Chatty Projects: C&T Publishing, 2014. Print.
Kirsch, Chris Lynn. Compass Capers: Chris Lynn Kirsch, 2012. Print.
Pink, Tula. Quilts from the House of Tula Pink: Krause Publication, 2012. Print.
Tims, Ricky. Ricky Tims’ Convergence Quilts: C&T Publishing, 2003. Print.
Walters, Angela. Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters: Stash Books, 2012. Print.




Fabric – I have LOTS and LOTS of fabric.  Some may even say I have too much fabric.  I rarely buy fabric knowing a specific project I’m going to use it for.  I buy fabric because it speaks to me – I run my hands down a wall of fabric and it sort of tells me that I should buy it (and yes  … I’m still married).  By shopping for fabric this way I can almost always find what I need, when I need it for whatever project I’m working on. 

Acrylic Paints – these are great for helping modify a piece of fabric to work for a project I need.  Yes!  You can paint fabric! Make sure to put a sheet of parchment paper down between your paper fabric and your iron when you press it.  Pressing it with a hot iron can heat set the paint or else feel through to throw the dried piece in a hot dryer to set.  (I wouldn’t put clothes with it … just in case).

Foam Brushes – I like using these when I paint my fabric.  I can never have too many of these!

Inktense Colored Pencils – These are great when I want to do some more detailed work on a piece … like paint an elephant ..

Fluid Medium – sets the Inktense colors onto fabric

Paint Brushes – I use these to  put the medium on the inktense colored pencils.  These could also be used to paint onto fabric.

Yarns – I couch these onto my quilts quite often using a simple zig zag stitch.  They are a great way to add movement and texture.  The best way to get a decent collection of these is to find a knitter/crocheter and collect all there “ends”.  You don’t typically need much for a quilt so those shorter ends are just perfect for you to use up!

Rik Rak – I need to use this more … I adore it! And if you look around there are some super cool rik raks out there!

Angelina Fibers – these are pure awesomeness!  I bought a rather large sample pack of about 20 colors years ago and I still have plenty left … just a little goes a long way to add  sparkle, movement and dimension to a piece.

Buttons – I personally prefer to use glass, ceramic, handmade or vintage beads on my quilts … that being said, there is a time and a place for those big plastic ones. 

photo by Karmen Lindner Photography

Mirrorsround or square!  I glue mirrors on my quilts more often than I realized!

Fabric Glue (dritz unique stitch) – This is what I use to attach my mirrors/beads/sequins … whatever.  It seems to work great for me.  I do yank on everything before I send it to a show to make sure it’s all staying in place nicely.

Beads – just collect these.  If they “talk” to you like a piece of fabric – get it!  Someday you’ll be happy you did and you’ll use it to make your piece amazing!

Random Cabachons – these are the half beads without holes that can be put on ring bases … and they can totally be glued to your quilt tops!

photo by Friends in Photography

Zippers – they’re not just for pockets or closures!  Twist them around, sew them down, add them to a binding … have fun!

Sequins/rhinestones/crystals – seriously – anything sparkly is always good

Glitter Glue – This is a great way to add a little glitter to your project or help cover up some coloring issues you may be having.

Shiva Oil Paintstiks – This is another great way to manipulate fabrics.

Vegetable Peeler – you’ll need this to shave off your paintstiks before you use them each time.

Rubbing Plates – combine these with the paintstiks for some great textures on your fabric

decofoil on a quilt

DecoFoil & DecoFoil Hot Melt Adhesive – I’ve been playing with these on my quilts and other fabric creations a lot lately.  It is such an easy way to add some shine and uniqueness to your piece.  They are easy to use – you just have to be patient.  Let your fabric/foil COOL DOWN between each step … that is the key to the beauty of DecoFOIL.  If you’re patient you will be so happy with this product!

Fusible – I’m a huge fan of Heat N Bond.  Fusible helps your projects be limitless!  If you can’t piece it … you can always fuse it!

Anything you can imagine! Seriously!  Have fun with it!  There are no rules that say you can’t put chicken wire on your quilts (trust me – I’ve done it).  There are really no rules that you can’t put whatever you want on your quilts.  The only thing I would recommend is thinking about what the quilt is going to be used for … is it on a wall?  Anything goes!  On a bed and will be washed a lot … you may want to stick with the more traditional route and have everything sewn securely on.


  1. Thanks for sharing your resources. I love rick rack

  2. What wonderful fun! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. My mind can follow everything you listed and understand the creative touches for some projects! Ha! Amazing you have put thoughts onto words! Thanks!

  4. Wow - great ideas. I'd gotten as far as "maybe some upholstery fabrics". Ha! Maybe I should borrow my friend's 6 year old daughter and we can glue/staple/dab stuff all over. With glitter.


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