mandalei quilts

Quilts & Longarm Services


It even says “kit available”!

I just got the email that the pack for my English paper piecing pattern “Strawberry Moon” is available at!  This was the quilt in the Spring 2015 issue of Modern Quilt Unlimited.  And what is even better, the whole pack for the complete top is only  $22.00!  Thanks Jess and company!

Read More

After much consideration, I have decided to sell my current longarm and buy a different longarm.  If you or anyone you know is interested, here are the details:

2010 Gammill Vision 1.0 longarm quilting machine, 26″ harp, 12 foot pivot head table.

Estimated less than 800 hours of quilting, it comes with the following: under-mounted camera, upgraded stainless steel wheels and Breeze track system, casters, three sets of zipper leaders, red snappers, Donita Reeves extended ruler base, Circle Lord, micro handles, and Gammill work station. This machine is in excellent condition. All original tools and oiler included, as well as packs of needles in various sizes.

Buyer responsible for picking up, transport, and setup. Assistance can be given for taking down and loading the machine into your vehicle.  Asking $14,000.

Read More

I just got back from MQX in NH, I just finished up another quilt for Modern Quilts Unlimited for the Summer issue, and I have been writing and prep a quilt for kitting up before Spring Market. Phew!  In a much needed break today, I walked out to the mailbox and to my great delight, I got something delivered to give me a needed boost!

The first, my quilt “Strawberry Moon” is officially published in the Spring issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited. This pattern has been on my mind since before I was even a quilter, when I saw it in some random antique shop in Ohio or Kentucky on one of the long drives from campus to home. Being 1) broke, 2) not a quilter and 3) broke, I didn’t buy it and now I wish I had. It’s an English paper piecing pattern, and the kit will be available at for $25.00 (link to be added when it’s available).  I love Kate Spain’s “Paradiso” line on this top (I used a layer cake).  So cheerful.


It's kinda cute, right?

It’s kinda cute, right?

In the article, I also talk about the issues of quilting a top that has been English paper pieced.  There are some definite considerations to mull over before you get started, if machine quilting.

Read More

I’ve talked in a previous post about the wools you can choose and the types of threads that are available.  Before I share an easy (and free!) project for wool applique, there are a few additional useful tools to collect, including scissors, freezer paper, and needles.  These are not absolutely required, but they’ll make your projects just a little easier to work on.


I prefer to use scissors with a serrated edge, with either a 4″ or 6″ cutting edge for different sizes of pieces.  While they can’t be sharpened, they sure do a great job gripping the wool as you cut so it doesn’t slide out from under your blades, which makes cutting that much more accurate, and easier to boot. You can do pretty much everything you need with the 6″ serrated snips. I use the ones by Havel’s, below:


Needles and Thread Conditioner

For Applique:

There are several different types of needles available that can work for the applique part of your project. In general, you’ll want something that has a decent sized eye to get those thicker threads through, and you will want something that is comfortable to hold.  I recommend starting with chenille needles, anywhere from a size #22 to a #26. John James and other companies make these, and I carry a set of sizes 18-24 by  as well.  Get what you like (and change them out when they get dull. As far as expense, needles are cheap!) You can also try straw needles (generally sizes 1#10 and #11) and milliners needles, keeping an eye on the eye: you want something that your threads can pass through.

Thread Conditioner:

I don’t know what this stuff is, except for a hunk of magic in a blue box.  Before you begin stitching, you pull your threads through it and get a light coating and, magically, your thread now glides through any fabric and the amount of knotting you get is significantly reduced.  Works wonderfully for hand embroidery and quilting and ESPECIALLY for binding.  The box on the right is the one I’ve been using for a dozen or so projects now, and it lasts forever.


Mine looks gross, but it’s because I use it frequently. What you’re seeing are loose fibers from the threads as I pull them across the surface. These don’t get onto your thread, promise.


whatever pins work for you, seriously.  I have small applique pins, and these are great because they don’t catch as much on stuff.  However, what I do most often is simply put a line of white school glue where I want my applique and heat set it in place.  No pins, and it stays put.  Don’t put it where you will be stitching, or use so much of it that your work gets stiff !  Just enough to keep it from moving around on you.

In my time trying to find all of this notion stuff in one place, it hasn’t always been easy.  To that end, I’ve put together a beginner kit for wool applique that contains all of the above (and at a slight discount because they’re bundled!) in my etsy shop.


I have these items separately, but purchased as a bundle you save $3.50.


Next week, I will share an easy free project that hits all the points (ha!  get it? points!) and instructions on how to prepare and cut out your applique pieces accurately and cleanly.  See you next week!

Read More
Slow and Steady Scrap Quilt

Slow and Steady Scrap Quilt

Posted By on Mar 31, 2015

Don't worry, promise.  There's a ton more I didn't include in this picture.

Don’t worry, promise. There’s a ton more I didn’t include in this picture.

If there’s a 12 step program for quilting, I would have to introduce myself by saying, “My name is Mandy Leins, and I have been buying fabric for 15 years.” The truth is, though, I haven’t bought (very much) fabric for the last couple because I have so much that I don’t even have places to put it. I did a huge cull of my stuff when I moved the longarm upstairs about 6 months ago, and from that I donated a couple hundred yards to my local guild for comfort quilts.  Since then, I’ve been trying to think of a scrappy quilt or six to make that uses up a chunk of my fat quarters, but which also requires the least amount of planning on my part, and which I can make while I work on my other projects.  Last night, I think I came upon just the right solution.

A few years ago,  my mom got me a little Accuquilt GO! and it came with this die I didn’t think I’d get much use out of.


At the time, I played around with it a bit using solids, and all the different sized blocks nested, which was nice.  Now, several years later, I’m thinking this little die will be the answer to my scrap quilt prayers Here’s my plan:

1) select a more or less coordinated selection of fat quarters.  Or–what the heck–just use them all!  No planning!

2) Crank a couple through whenever I come down to my sewing room: it’s on the way to the laundry room, and we do a *lot* of laundry.  This should be cake, right?  Riiiiiight.

3) Dump the same-sized bits in separate bags to grab from, so it is randomly scrappy.

4) piece some stuff, either on purpose for this project or a few bits and pieces here and there as leaders while I’m working on other things

5) do that a lot.

6) eventually put the quilt top together.

Think it’ll work?  I have high hopes. They key part will be, though, to do the next,

7) post about it once a week to show my progress, because the stars know I won’t keep grinding away at a quilt for myself if I don’t have some accountability.

Read More

As my mom would say: “Oh honey, it was so sad.” I was on my way to teach a quilting class at my LQS last week, and had a big plastic bin of things to share with me.  It’s been a long, gross winter, and that day it was raining and foggy. All the parking lots around us are covered in a thick layer of sand and salt, car grease and exhaust, and it was just plain yucky out.

Unloading my car, I was so grateful I got a spot by the door long enough to unload my quilts… and that’s when it happened.  My hand slipped, and the box of quilts tumbled onto the ground and flipped over, spilling the top quits out on to the nasty pavement.  I picked them up as quickly as I could, but still was not quick enough to keep some of them from getting very dirty.  Oh honey, it was so sad.

One of them, a little pillow slip from my book, Wanderlust Quilts, was also in that fall.  I had brought is as an example of my quilting choices, and also to show that I often use pillows for testing out ideas.  For upcoming book talks and things like that, though, that was not good because it still needs to be pretty! I washed it out with handsoap in the sink, and was deeply grateful the black and gunk came off of it… and soon after had a horrible sinking feeling that the hand dyed fabric I had prewashed was actually bleeding all over the lovely white background.

Before.  The whole thing was like this, and the blue on the other side bled as well.

Before. The whole thing was like this, and the blue on the other side bled as well.

So after pulling myself together, I wrung it out, laid it over the back of a chair, and taught my class.  Then I refused to look at it for 4 days, and in that time, it had dried out and I was sure that stuff was permanent, but it turns out, my method took it right out.  I hope this method helps you, if you’re ever in this kind of a bind.

1) Wet the section (or the whole darn thing) by hand under warm water, then add a couple of drops of Dawn dish soap on that area.  Not the fancy stuff, the old school, basic, cheapest of cheap Dawn dish detergents.  (some of you may recall this is how I prewash batiks and hand dyes, usually).  Gently work it in, because you don’t want to raise the nap on your fabric by scratching at it.

2) Rinse thoroughly, then toss in the wash with a bit of detergent (I use Charlie’s Soap, which is an environmentally safe, non-toxic detergent that was formulated for use in the garment industry.  It’s really great at removing excess dye. And cleaning baby diapers.) and a Color Catcher if you’re paranoid.  Which I was. By the way, no affiliation, just have been using it for the last 8 years, and love it.

3) At this point, my project was stray-dye free, so I felt comfortable drying it as I normally would.

All better!

All better! It’s still a little damp in this picture, so that blue shadow will go away as it dries.

I’m telling you, Dawn, or Dawn + Charlie’s Soap and a color catcher are AWESOME.  They also remove red dye from bleeding batiks (ask me how I know).  I hope this helps you out, if you ever are in a bind!



Read More

Sewing tips and tricks the hard way

Posted By on Mar 19, 2015

Here are a few amazing sewing tips and tricks I’ve learned over the last few years, followed by a scream then a good laugh:

  • Glue basting is AMAZING, as long as you sew the edge you basted (did this today).
  • Don’t put your spray starch and spray glue side by side.
  • Never square up your quilt on the floor while wearing a maxi dress or skirt. That is, unless you want to make a mini skirt your next project.
  • Make sure that pretty, glossy, white thread for your amazing quilting design is not actually the pretty, glossy, wash-away thread.

What are your hard-won sewing tips and tricks you want to (or are willing to) share?


Read More
My free quilt pattern is up!

My free quilt pattern is up!

Posted By on Mar 13, 2015


Hey, y’all!  Over on the BERNINA We All Sew blog I’ve written up a free pattern for my quilt “Star Crossed”!  It uses 2 1/2″ strips, and while it has a complex pattern, it’s only one block to put together.  I also wrote a bit about choosing color schemes, AND there’s a giveaway for my favorite color tool by Joen Wolfrom.  Let me know what you think!

Read More
%d bloggers like this: