Saturday, January 24, 2015


Sometimes life just gets in the way. I try to keep up with all that I do (my husband is computer illiterate and can't help me with computer things). Sometimes I take on too many projects at one time! Since the beginning of the year I have designed new quilts, written patterns, traveled to a guild in Carbondale, Illinois and I am currently trying to finish making a quilt sample for RJR fabrics. I have to learn when to say no!

I had such a wonderful response to my Frosty pattern! I sent a copy to all who supplied me with contact information. If you are reading this and did not get a copy of the pattern, please send your contact information to so I can send one to you.

The winner of Monday's drawing is Mary Ellen Futch. Congrats Mary! I will send you the fabric bundle and my Geese on the Loose pattern.

I had said that I would post my method for foundation piecing in this blog. I love to paper piece (or foundation piece) because of the wonderful accuracy, but I don't like tearing off all of that paper when I am done. I have a friend, Dolores, who helps me piece quilts for magazines and I usually give her the foundation sections to piece because she is so quick. I was doing a pineapple block and when she was done, I didn't want to pay her to just tear paper off so I did it. It took me 10 hours to tear off all of the paper! After that I thought there had to be a better way. I'm not sure whether I came up with this method first, but I know I definitely like it better than the alternative!

What it involves is instead of using tracing paper or foundation paper, I use freezer paper. You can use the large rolls that you can purchase at the grocery store or you can purchase 8-1/2" x 11" sheets here: Freezer paper.tofrombuy=QuiltingSupplies||||1&p=2.

All of my patterns that have foundation piecing in them include a CD with tips for sewing plus the PDF of the foundation section so you can print it with your home printer. Here is what the quilt looks like. I designed this pattern for the Hoffman Challenge. It traveled with one of the groups and it has also won many ribbons. This is a popular workshop that I teach. 

Here is what the foundation section looks like, on one section, printed on the freezer paper.

I printed on the paper side (not shiny side). Also with all of my foundation patterns I have designed a set of acrylic templates to use either for traditional piecing or for foundation piecing. I like to use templates because I have very little waste when I sew and I like to use the correct shape for the section so that I don't make a mistake and sew a patch that either doesn't fill the space or is turned in a wrong direction. This is what the templates look like. I include a couple extra templates, which I will explain their use later in the blog. You can find the templates here: Geese on the Loose templates.

I use the small templates for cutting out the pieces for foundation piecing. Since the templates include the 1/4' seam allowance and I need slightly larger pieces for the foundation piecing, I use an Add-a-Quarter ruler to add an extra 1/4" around the entire template.

Start by cutting a strip 1/2" larger than the template and use an Add-a-quarter ruler to add an extra 1/4" around the template so I have enough fabric for the sections.

When using the freezer paper you do not have to sew on the paper. Here are the steps to using it.

Step 1: Press the first fabric wrong side of the fabric to the shiny side of the paper.

Step 2: Fold the paper back (I used my business card) on the line between #1 and #2. The line should show just next to the card.

Step 3: Trim the fabric to 1/4" using the Add-a-quarter ruler. 

Step 4: Place the second fabric, right sides together, lined up with the cut edge. Make sure there is a little fabric hanging over each edge and that the triangle is pointing in the direction that you see through the top of the paper.

Step 5: Sew ALONG the edge of the fold of the freezer paper, NOT on the paper.

Step 6: Finger press the fabric over and then press with an iron to the line between #2 and #3 sections.

Repeat steps 2 through 6 until you have the whole section finished.

My template sets have extra templates that are used to trim the section to the exact size you need to sew in the block. Peel the freezer paper off the pieced section and using the template, (place some rolled up tape on the back to keep it from sliding around) line it up on the points of the pieced section making sure that they are within the seam allowance. Trim around the template and your section is ready to sew!

Doesn't that look wonderful! No paper to tear off and the freezer paper is ready to go to make another section. I like to string piece 5 to 10 sections one right after the other as I sew on each section. That way they go together faster and I feel I have accomplished something when I get a group done!

I need to get back to awarding fabric bundles so here is the next fabric bundle from P&B that is up for grabs. It is another group from the Suede group. Please leave a comment as to what you think you might do with it. When I post the winner, I will show what I decided to do with it.

REMEMBER, I CAN NOT SEND YOU A MESSAGE IF YOU WON IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. DON'T MISS OUT. While you are leaving a message tell me what paper pieced pattern you have been wanting to do but have avoided because you didn't want to do all that work.

In closing; Always do what you love and love what you do. Toby Lischko

Monday, December 15, 2014


This time I won't make you wait until the end of the message to post yesterday's winner. Congratulations Rina Mason, I will mail your fat quarters and pattern in a couple days.

Today is a special blog not only because I will be drawing for a fat quarter group from P&B and one of my patterns, but also because I am today's guest of the EQ Christmas Countdown. Each day since December 1, Electric Quilt has offered a free download (EQ7 file) of a pattern by a special EQ artist. If you have EQ7 you just have to download the file and add it to your EQ7 (My EQ7 projects) folder, so you can open it and play with it any way you want. If you haven't been following along you can still get previous projects starting with the first one on December 1. This will continue until the end of this week on the 19th. 

My project is called Frosty. I had originally designed the quilt for Hoffman Fabrics. I had never done an applique' project in EQ7 and it was quite a learning curve for me. Luckily Frosty was one of the applique' designs in the block base so I did not have to design my own snowman. I did have to learn how to outline the snowman so it looked like I had stitched around it. I thought putting the pieced stars behind Frosty gave it a more interesting look. I love the way I can work with EQ7 and now they have a Mac version so I don't have to open it up on a PC or PC simulator on my Mac! If you do not have EQ7 you should consider purchasing it. It is a very easy program to learn. I teach workshop on EQ7 so if you belong to a guild or know of a quilt shop that would like me to come teach it, please contact me.

I am offering a special giveaway with Frosty. Anyone who leaves a comment will receive a FREE download of the pattern, which includes full size applique' pieces. This is in addition to the EQ7 download of the pattern you can get on EQ's blog through the link above. Since the EQ file is just a quilt and fabric, it does not have a pattern with it. So with just the quilt you would have to figure your own directions. Having the program is also great because you can print out the applique' pieces from the quilt pattern.

In addition to the EQ pattern I will be giving away this next group of fabrics from the Luxury Essentials collection by P&B Textiles.

I played with the fabrics in my Geese on the Loose block. It is a paper pieced block that I teach a method of freezer paper foundation piecing. You do not sew on the freezer paper so you can reuse it as many times as the paper sticks to the fabrics. In the next blog I will do a tutorial of how to do freezer paper piecing with this block. Since you already read my previous post on how to sew curves this would be a great one to practice on. I will be giving away my Geese on the Loose pattern with the fabrics. If you are interested in the acrylic templates for this pattern you can find them on my website.

Well, it's getting late. I want to make sure this is posted after midnight (only 3 minutes to go)! Be sure to leave some way of contacting you so I can email your free pattern. I also want to let you know that I have added the option of getting a pdf of any of my patterns on my website instead of mailing you the pattern. Of course the pattern is copyrighted so you can only print one copy for yourself.

As always: Do what you love and love what you do. Thank you for reading. Again, be sure you leave some way of contacting you so I can email you your Frosty pattern.  If you do not want to leave your email address in the comment section then please email me at If I don't have contact information I can't email you the pattern. Toby Lischko

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


People often ask me how I got involved with quilting. A few years ago Marti Michell went around during a quilt show asking the quilt teachers whether they thought they would be doing what they do when they started quilting. One of the things she discovered was that most teachers did not start out thinking they would be teaching quilting. Like most crafts, people learn a craft to have something to take up their spare time or to enjoy a hobby.

I started quilting in 1985 when my husband and I moved back to St. Louis after being away for 10 years. I was teaching Special Education at the time and had my summers off. My mother was a retired home economics teacher and always enjoyed sewing so I thought it would be fun if we took a quilting class together. There was a quilt shop near me that offered evening classes so we signed up for a beginning quilt class. At that time Jackie Robinson of Animas Quilts owned the local shop. She was a wonderful teacher with lots of great stories of her travels.

The class lasted four weeks. Each week we would learn a new technique, starting out with the basics (rotary cutting, piecing, etc.) I remember how expensive that first purchase was! Rotary cutter, cutting mat, rulers, fabrics, and other important tools that I thought I had to have (and needed). Would you believe I still have that first cutting mat and it is still good? It had no lines on it but that wasn't necessary with the ruler to cut the strips with. The rotary cutter and mat had just come out as the "new fangled" quilting tools.

I had been a sewer since I was about 11 (and crafter from an even earlier age) and had sewn most of my clothes for a long time (including my own wedding dress), so I thought quilting couldn't be much different. I would learn a technique, go home and stay up until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and sew so I wouldn't forget what I learned. At the end of that four week session, I think I finished 4 or 5 small quilt tops (just the tops) and I was hooked! Some of those quilts never got quilted but I did go on to making a king size quilt for our bed and some wall quilts for around the house. At that time I thought everything had to match my house. You can see here two of my earliest quilts. Can you guess what colors were in my house (the colors of the 80s)?

It continued to be a hobby for about 10 years while my children were growing up and I continued to take quilt workshops to learn new patterns and techniques. It only become a profession when I started to work part time in a new quilt shop near me, teaching classes and entering contests. Some of my students belonged to quilt guilds and it wasn't long before they started asking me to lecture and teach workshops at the local quilt guilds. I was now doing two jobs, teaching Special Education and quilting!

To be continued......

Today's group of fabrics is from the Bella Suedes collection with P&B Textiles.

The center fabric is a light grey. I decided to use it in my Liberty Square pattern. It is one of my miniature patterns that uses half-square triangles.

 Here it is with the Bella Suede fabrics.

I teach a workshop on precision piecing and on a variety of ways to make half-square triangles using this pattern. You can make it as scrappy as you want so fat quarters are good with this pattern. You do not have to use the same light fabric in the background if you want to make it really scrappy. The only fabric you need a little extra of would be for the borders and binding.

One of the ways to make half-square triangles is to cut the squares then cut them in half diagonally to make the triangles. If you have problems with your seam allowance you can always cut them slightly larger and trim the block down to size. These are 1 inch finished half-square triangle units. The formula for  figuring out what size square to cut out is to add 7/8" to the finished size of the patch. So with a 1" finished patch, you would cut out a 1-7/8" square. If you prefer to trim the patch to size, then cut out a 2" square. I like to put the two squares right sides together that will make the patch, so after I cut the diagonal, they are ready to sew together. 

The second way to make the half-square triangle units is to cut the triangles with a template. When you use a template that has the corners trimmed off, you can cut them from a strip that is 1/2" larger than your finished size. So with the 1" unit, I cut a 1-1/2" strip and use a template to cut out the triangles.

Another method would be to use Thangles or Triangle paper.  You can also make your own triangle grid on the back of your fabric or use Inklingo, which is a program that you use with your printer to print lines on the backs of your fabric. Finally you can use a foundation paper to paper piece it. My pattern includes a foundation section that you can copy.

To enter this drawing for the fat quarters and my Liberty Square pattern, please leave a comment on what your favorite method is for making half-square triangles and what you think you might do with this group of fabrics. I will draw a winner on Thursday.

As always, do what you love and love what you do. Thank you for reading, Toby Lischko

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I once read an article written by a well known quilter who said that she never tried to do curved piecing because she thought it was so hard. I thought she was doing a disservice to all quilters who were thinking of trying curved piecing because there are so many wonderful patterns that have curves in them. Your average quilter would read that article and think: "Since she thinks they are hard, I guess they are and I won't even try to do them".

Most of the workshops that I teach involve curves and I show quilters that they are not hard if you know how to piece them. There are many methods of teaching curves and tools to help. The Curve Master is one of them. Some people swear by it and says it works for them. Others tell you to use a bunch of pins or glue before sewing. Some say to put the convex (outy curve) on top and others say the concave (inny curve) on top. I am going to show you my method of sewing curves to give you perfect, no pleat, curves almost every time. The reason I say almost is because I don't think any method is completely fool proof. But, I can count on one hand how many times I have gotten pleats over the 20+ years I have been sewing curves. And, it is usually because I did not follow my own directions.

Since I will be giving away my Glorified Nine-Patch with a Twist pattern and template set, am using this block as my sample. Let me give you a few tips first. One: I always put the concave piece on top. That is the piece that will get a pleat in it and by putting it on the top, you can't always see if it will get a pleat before you sew it. Two: For gentle curves (like this block) you do not need to cut clips into the concave piece before sewing. My gauge is; if I can pull on the curve (on both ends) to try to straighten it out and it almost creates a flat edge, I don't need to clip the edge. Three: Pinning is the key. There is no need to pin it to death! I used to sew clothing and when I sewed in a sleeve and wanted it to lay nice and flat, I added LOTS of pins. I will show how to use only 4 pins to sew it. Four: Finger press before taking anything to the iron and use only a dry iron until the block is complete. I only add water when I finish a block to set it and make it nice and flat.

Let's begin to sew the block together. My template sets always include the seam allowance and the corners are trimmed so that all of the pieces fit together perfectly. Be sure to put some rolled up tape on the back to the templates so that they do not move around while you are cutting with the rotary cutter.

Step 1: Lay out the nine-patch. Pay attention to the direction of the center outer pieces so that the curved edges face out.

Step 2: Place the center pieces on top of the corresponding pieces, right sides together, to the left. I don't pin them, but you can. If I do pin them (usually because the fabric is stretchy), I pin them at the bottom part of the section so that the bottom edges stay together when stitching down the edge. Stitch one right after the other. Do not trim the threads. Finger press towards the dark fabric.

Step 3: Place the right pieces on top of the center pieces, right sides together, and stitch one set right after the other. Do not trim threads. Press towards dark.

Step 4: Fold top section down, right sides together, and match seams. The seams should butt right next to each other going in opposite directions. I put a pin in front of the seams to hold them together. Stitch across. Press seam up.

Step 5: Fold bottom section up, right sides together, and repeat step four. Press seam down.

Step 6: Crease the center of one edge of the nine-patch and the curved edge of the crescent piece. Tip, crease one with right sides together and the other with the back sides together. The creases will fit inside each other. Place the crescent piece on the bottom, curve and right side up. Place nine-patch, right sides together, on top. Pin at the center. I know it looks funny and doesn't look like the pieces will sew together. Pull the top ends to meet the bottom ends. All of the trimmed ends on the two pieces fit on top of each other.

Step 7: Pin the front end and the back end. This is very important. Because these are the edges that move while you are piecing, you need to weave the pin like you are sewing. This holds the edges together as you are sewing and won't twist when you begin and when you get to the end. I like to use Patchwork Pins by Clover that are 0.4mm wide (not long) that are available on my website. These are great pins that slide through the fabric like butter, especially batiks. I add one more pin. This one I weave at the back end of the strip along the seam allowance to create a "T" with the other pin. You can see it in this photo. The first pin is woven up through the two pieces (same on the front end) and the other pin is perpendicular to it and parallel to the seam line. You can also see that the ends of the bottom patch and top patch fit together perfectly.

Step 8: Sew a couple stitches, leaving the needle in the fabric, take the pin out and then grab the center of the block where the center pin is. This is another important step. Pull slightly on the center of the block where the pin is with your left hand. As you do this you can manipulate the fabric with your right hand so the bottom edge and top edge of the fabric are even. Sometimes you only have to do a minimal amount of manipulation. The edges will come together as you pull on the two fabrics. It is difficult to see here because of the dark sewing machine, but if you look carefully the edges are even as I tug slightly on the fabric. Do not "stretch" the fabric too much. A slight tug is enough.

Step 9: As you stitch down the edge, keep a slight tug on the fabric to keep the edges together. Stop sewing at the center pin and with the needle down, remove the center pin. Grab the end of the strip and repeat the tug pulling and continue stitching until the pin pointing towards the foot reaches the edge of the foot. Put your finger on the ball end of the pin and hold it down as you are stitching. The pin will come out as you are sewing. I place my left hand on the other pin to keep the edges of the fabric touching my mole foam (1/4" seam aid). (I couldn't show my left hand holding the pin because it was holding the camera!) If there is any time that it looks like you might get a pleat, simply put your needle down, lift the pressure foot and pull the fabric straight back to straighten it out and then continue to sew. Press towards crescent shape.

Step 10: Repeat this with the opposite end of the nine-patch.

Step 11: Sew the other two crescent pieces on repeating the above process. Start stitching with the needle to the right of the the previous seam line, barely touching it.

Here is what the front and back of the block will look like.

The edges of the block may not be straight so I trim the block to square it up. If you do this, do not do it until all of your blocks are done so you can see what the smallest measurement is. This block was created with my 6" template set so I trimmed mine to 6-1/4" instead of 6-1/2". Place a square ruler so that the 45 degree line goes through the middle of the block and the 6-1/4" marks are on the top left and bottom right corners. Trim off right and top edges.

Turn the block around, place the 6-1/4" lines along the two trimmed edges and trim the remaining edges. You will have a very nice square block.

I hope you will try sewing curves using my method. Please let me know when you do and share your experience. I will post your project on my Pinterest and Facebook page. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to write me.

Now for the winner of this template set and the fat quarter bundle. Congratulation Leona! Please send me your address so I can put your prize in the mail. Here is the bundle you won with my pattern and 4" template set.

I have realized that some people who find out about my blog on Facebook have not been able to post in my comment section at the end of the blog. If you try to do this and for some reason can not, leave a comment on my Facebook page where you saw this notice and you will still be eligible to be in the drawing.

Here is a sneak peek of the next drawing.

This is another group of fabrics of the Bella Suede collection from P&B Textiles. I sure hope that the winners of all of these fat quarters will personally write to P&B to thank them for donating such wonderful fabrics! You can either do it on the P&B Textiles Facebook page or through the contact page on their website P&B Textiles. The bottom fabric is brown and the middle fabric is light grey.

Watch for my next blog as I show you how I used this fat quarter bundle in one of my patterns. As always, do what you love and love what you do. Thanks for reading. Toby Lischko

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