Art Quilt: Applique’

Down the Drain: River of Sorrow complete
Down the Drain: River of Sorrow complete

You saw the other day that I had finished the first layer, or perhaps it was the second layer?

I really kind of liked this look despite the slightly depressing  look, but I was on a mission.

I used a satin stitch, but not a dense one stitch down the River. In some cases I will straight stitch first, but I didn’t in this case. I try to keep track of the settings so I can use the same density again. I often start with the density I used to sew on Merit Badges and then adjust from there. Despite the siren call of temptation, I always test the density before I sew on the actual piece. Have you every tried to rip out a satin stitch. It is doable, but I don’t find it to be fun.

After applique’ing down the River shape, I moved on to the broken hearts.

Art Quilt: with hearts in progress
Art Quilt: with hearts in progress

After making some hearts some time ago I have a trick, so I used it to make the heart shape then cut into them with very sharp scissors (should have used my Karen Kay Buckley scissors) and made the broken part. I put fusible on the back of the hearts and pressed them down. I use Soft Fuse. I have used other products, but that is my current favorite.

I had to play around with the placement of the hearts. I wanted them on the background, not on the borders or covering the River. Once they were placed where I wanted them I satin stitched them down and added the tears. I think tears coming off of a heart is powerful imagery.

Art Quilt: Signs in process
Art Quilt: Signs in process

The signs took a lot longer. I needed to add sticks and get the placement right, trim the shapes and write the messages.

I don’t know why I wanted these Easter Egg colors, but they seemed right. I didn’t even have to hunt for them as they magically appeared in a convenient stack of fabric.

Weird.

I fused the sticks, then found they didn’t show up very well, so I stitch around them to highlight them. I still don’t think they show up as much as I wanted, but I am okay with the look.

Art Quilt: Top finished
Art Quilt: Top finished

This is very much a quilt where you get one view from afar and need to come closer to get a more detailed view.

 

Posts about Down the Drain

  1. I Have a Secret – 8/6/2017
  2. Art Quilt Start: Background – 8/8/2017
  3. Art Quilt: River of Sorrow – 8/10/2017
  4. Art Quilt: Border 1 – 8/13/2017

Under the Sea Update

I am making some progress on Under the Sea. It is a shock, because this piece has been on my list and a UFO for YEARS. I really never thought I would finish it and here I am.

Under the Sea - Late August 2016
Under the Sea – Late August 2016

We went to Southern California for the weekend, so no sewing machine and I missed the BAMQG meeting. My DH better know I love him. 😉 I did take Under the Sea and my EPP project to work on. I didn’t do much in general – no sewing, no EPP, no quilt shop visits, but I worked on Under the Sea a little on the way home in the car.

I bought some 12wt Aurifil and have used a little of it along with the Perl Cotton that I have had laying around. It is fun to add layers of texture to this piece. The stitches are adding interest.

Under the Sea (detail) - Late August 2016
Under the Sea (detail) – Late August 2016

I am not sure about the green circles. I like them as a motif. I am not sure I like them around the turquoise dots. I don’t want to disrupt that bubble like effect.

I am hoping that the viewer won’t see them until they get closer. We’ll have to see.

Machine Applique’ for Directional Motifs

In my previous machine applique’ tutorials, I used designs where the direction of the motif didn’t matter. When I went back to review the tutorial (yes, I do use my own tutorials!) in preparation for doing some machine applique’. I was preparing to applique’ letters, which have a definite right and wrong way. I realized I had omitted directions for using directional motifs (where the direction of the motif matters, such a numbers or letters) for applique’, so I had to figure out how to do them again.

In order to understand this tutorial, you will need to look at How to Applique’-TJW and the 3 Fusible Applique tutorials (pt.1, pt.2 and pt.3). All of these are part of a whole.

Supply List:

Draw out design on a piece of drawing paper
Draw out design on a piece of drawing paper
  1. Draw out your design. I used a pattern for the letters I wanted to applique’. You can draw or print your design. There are a lot of free clipart you can use. Since I had a pattern, I laid out the pattern, placed a piece of drawing paper over the letters I needed and drew out the design using a pencil.
  2. Trace over the pencil lines you used to trace the design with a Sharpie. The lines should be dark. Make sure the Sharpie does not bleed through to your table.
  3. Flip your drawing paper over and put it on your light box. You can also tape it to a window or sliding glass door. The wrong side of the letters or directional motif will show through.
  4. Directional motifs backwards on drawing paper
    Directional motifs backwards on drawing paper

    Using your Sharpie, trace the letters again on the wrong side of the paper. You will be tracing the backwards image of the letters.

  5. Leaving the paper taped to the window (or laying on the light box), tape a piece of paper backed fusible, paper side UP, over your design which is on the window or light box.
  6. Trace the backwards design on to your paper backed fusible using a Sharpie. **Nota bene: my Sharpie tended to smear on the paper of the fusible. I couldn’t find a pen that worked well, so be really careful to keep your hand out of the way to avoid smearage.
  7. Once finished, remove everything from the window or light box.
  8. Place the fabric you will use for your directional motifs right side down on the ironing surface. The fabric should be sized slightly larger than the fusible.
  9. Place the fusible on top of the fabric with the paper side up. Make sure no edges are over your ironing surface.
  10. Place your applique’ pressing sheet over everything.
  11. Press according to the directions on the fusible package.
  12. Fusible pressed to fabric
    Fusible pressed to fabric

    Once you are finished pressing, you will have a piece of fabric with fusible on the wrong side. The motifs (letters) should appear backwards and you will see the wrong side of the fabric.

  13. Decide on which scissors you will use. I always have a fight with myself about this. I don’t want to ruin my Ginghers, which are super sharp and great for cutting out detailed types of designs by using them to cut through paper. I also don’t want to ruin the edges of my motif with a pair of papers scissors that will not be sharp enough to cut through the fabric. I have a pair of Fiskars that I end up using for this task. Not ideal, but the best I am willing to do.
  14. Cut out directional motifs
    Cut out directional motifs

    Once you have decided on scissors, cut out your designs (letters, in this case). First I do a rough cut, then I cut with more detail.

    Cut out directional motifs - detail
    Cut out directional motifs – detail
  15. Layout your background fabric on a flat surface, right side up. I use my ironing board, so I don’t have to move the motifs in order to press. If I have to sew two pieces of fabric together to make a large enough background, I press the seam open.
  16. Take each motif, one by one, and peel off the paper. Carefully place each prepared applique’ motifs in their desired location before moving on to the next one. With motifs such a letters, I use a ruler to make sure they are straight.
  17. You should be able to see your design correctly. If you are using letters they should not be backwards and you should be able to read the word.
  18. Place your applique’ pressing sheet over everything.
  19. Press your applques so that they are stuck to the background fabric.
  20. Set up your sewing machine with the correct colored thread and a foot suitable for zigzag or satin stich.
  21. I set the zigzag to 3.5 (width), 0.7 (density). I like my satin stitch to be a little open, but you can adjust it to your favorite length and density.
  22. Cut a piece of tearaway the width of your motif and twice as long
  23. Fold the tearaway in half.
  24. Pin the double layer of tearaway to the back of the background fabric. Pins should be out of the way of the machine foot.
  25. Satin stitch all the way around each motif, carefully negotiating curves so the satin stitch looks smooth.
  26. Trim and/or tie off all threads.
  27. Tear away/cut away the excess tearaway stabilizer.

HOORAY! You did it!

Applique’ Task

The Food Quilt #2 still needs a back. I have been putting it off, because I wanted to applique’ the recipient’s name on to a piece of fabric as part of the back. The idea is to discourage theft. We’ll see if it works.

I had a good chunk of time over the weekend. Thus, I spent most of the afternoon on Sunday preparing and appliqueing the name to a piece of fabric.

Applique' Back
Applique’ Back

I accomplished the job, but it was a really big pain and not very pleasant. I fought with the fusible the whole time. It wouldn’t stick and then it stuck too much. I felt the whole process took much more time than it should have.

The picture (left) is part of the work I did. I am not showing the whole name, because of privacy, but you can see the work.

The alphabet is from a pattern called Critters Alphabet. I like it because it is cheerful and different. I used it on another quilt I made for a nephew. I bought the pattern at PIQF about a zillion years ago and I am pretty sure I saw it there last year. I did a search and found it under a new name, Alphabet Critters.

Next time, though, I might try paper piecing for the letters. We’ll see.

Sampler Quilt: Basket pt.2

Flower Basket
Flower Basket

As mentioned in part 1, above is the current block in our Sampler Quilt Class. These directions are for machine sewing your Flower Basket and include a little applique’. The applique’ can be done by machine or hand.

Are you playing along? If you are just starting, below is the complete supply list. You won’t need everything for this step, but you will need to start with part 1 and that part requires more supplies. Also, note, there are a LOT of photos in this tutorial.

Supply List

  • Flower Basket Directions & Templates
  • paper scissors (part 1)
  • mechanical pencil
  • thin Pigma pen (or similar) (part 1)
  • template plastic (part 1)
  • glue stick (part 1)
  • 2 (or more) foreground fabrics
  • 12.5″ x12.5″ piece of background fabric, which you will cut in half
  • FQ of same background fabric
  • Rotary ruler, including a long one, such as Creative Grids 4.5″x18.5″
  • Rotary cutter
  • Fabric scissors
  • thread
  • pins
  • Stiletto
  • Design wall or sandpaper board
  • sewing machine in good working order
  • Sharp or top stitch sewing machine needle

Optional

Important information:

  • Block is 12.5″ unfinished, 12″ finished
  • These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance. Check your seam allowance before you begin. If you don’t know how to do that, there are resources available, including one from Connecting Threads and Craftsy. You can search the web for others if you don’t like these tutorials.
  • You will be directed to use the Triangle Technique. Make sure you have the chart as well as the instructions handy.
  • Respect the bias.

After working through part 1, you have already chosen your fabrics, made your templates and cut your pieces. You are ready to sew.

Sewing

Carefully stitch along the hypotenuse of the large background triangle, about 1/8″ from the edge, to stabilize it. This stitching will be covered up when you stitch the handle part of the block to the basket part of the block.

Triangle Technique

Use the Triangle Technique to make your half square triangles. Make sure you have the chart available to confirm sizes. A brief overview is:

Draw an X from corner to corner diagonally on the wrong side of each of your 6.25″ x 6.25″ squares.

Place them right sides together and sew 1/4″ on each side of the diagonal lines.

      Nota bene: If I had wanted to pin I would have pinned far away from any of the diagonal lines.

Now you have a piece with four seams forming an X.

Next cut the ‘Plus’ of your sewn piece. This means that you are cutting horizontally down the middle and vertically down the middle.

  • Line up your ruler with the edge of the fabric and the point in the middle where the two lines forming the X come together.
  • Cut vertically.

Do NOT move your fabric.

  • Reposition your ruler and then cut the piece horizontally.

After you cut the “plus” (the vertical and horizontal cuts), you will have four squares, each with a line drawn diagonally across the middle. Cut the squares in half diagonally. You can use the line as a guide. It is more important to line your ruler up corner to corner.

Triangle Technique HSTs
Triangle Technique HSTs

The result is 8-2.5″ half square triangles. The above are actually a thread or two larger than 2.5″, which leaves the perfect opportunity for trimming to make them an absolutely perfect 2.5″.

  • Trim your HSTs to an absolutely perfect 2.5″.

Now you have 8 beautiful HSTs.

Of course, you can use whatever technique you like to make the half square triangles.

Layout and Assembly

Pieces cut and ready to sew
Pieces cut and ready to sew

Now that you have cut all of your pieces, lay them out on your sandpaper board, or put them up on your design wall. It is great to be able to see where all the pieces belong and adjust any pieces that need adjusting before you sew.

Sew Handle to Background

Template on Handle, ready to trace
Template on Handle, ready to trace
Traced & Adjusted
Traced & Adjusted

Because I decided to use the method described below, I made another handle template with NO seam allowance. I placed it on the handle I had cut from the striped fabric carefully so there was an even seam allowance on all sides. Then I traced around it with my thin black pen. I thought the template was a little wide at the end so I adjusted the line a bit to make the seam allowance larger.

Handle & Background Triangle Cut, Laid Out
Handle & Background Triangle Cut, Laid Out
Pieces Laid Out
Pieces Laid Out

My pieces looked a little weird-not the right size, etc when I laid them out. Have no fear! They will improve.

Press seam allowance under
Press seam allowance under
Press with hot iron
Press with hot iron

I was using my stiletto to adjust the seam allowance, but it was impossible to hold the stiletto, the camera and the iron all at once. Press carefully, so as not to distort your pieces.

Watch out for corners
Watch out for corners

Pay attention to the corners. The layers of fabric will want to pooch in weird directions. This is where one of those mini irons might come in handy. I used my regular iron and a stiletto, so I know those tools work.

Press seam allowance on handle under
Press seam allowance on handle under

Take your handle and press the the seam allowance under on both sides of the piece. Press so that the drawn line is on the inside of the handle and is covered by the piece once the handle is sewn.

<Nota bene: the orange fabric was selected for good contrast so that the steps would show up well>

Finger press  patches in half
Finger press patches in half

Fold the handle in half with wrong sides together and finger press on the midpoint. Unfold.

Fold your large triangle in half with right sides together and finger press. Unfold and layout.

Nesting handle & background
Nesting handle & background

Nest the handle into the triangle with the right sides up.

Line up the bottom edges of the handle with the hypotenuse of the background triangle. If the handle ends are a little over, it will be fine. You can trim them later.

Eyeball your piece to make sure everything looks good and even.

Pin the handle to the background down the center of the handle. Remove the pins as you sew. Try not to sew over them.

  • Using a lot of pins will help keep the handle in place as you sew
Sew carefully
Sew carefully

Sew slowly and carefully along the drawn line around the curve. I chose a matching thread, an applique’ foot and a topstitch/sharp needle.

You will either need to hand applique’ the other side down or using a machine stitch that suits you.

You could sew both sides down with a straight stitch, like I did. There are many options.

Optional: You can satin stitch (see the Machine Applique’ tutorial) or blanket stitch or use some other decorative stitch to machine sew the handle to the background triangle piece. If you use one of these stitches, you may need some tearaway stabilizer

Optional 2: you can hand applique’ the handle to the background triangle.

Handle sewn to background with straight seam
Handle sewn to background with straight seam

Once the handle is sewn you are ready to move to the woven part of the basket.

Basket Sewing Layout
Basket Sewing Layout

Sew Basket Together

The block can be broken down into two pieces: the top half with the handle and the bottom half with the basket.

The parts are labeled as follows:

  • HSTs: 1-9
  • Single triangles A-G
  • Square: 10
  • Background pieces: B1-B3

Get ready to Chunk it, Baby!

First 2 patches sewn!
First 2 patches sewn!

Sew A to HST/1. Press towards Triangle A.

Sew B to the A-HST/1 combo. Press.

Start sewing basket together
Start sewing basket together

The two colored HSTs are supposed to give the illusion of a woven basket.

Trim off dog ears
Trim off dog ears

Trim off dog ears from the A,B-HST/1 combo.

Sew Basket parts together
Sew Basket parts together

Sew HST/2 to HST/5. Press towards HST/5.

Using the diagram above to confirm placement, sew your A,B-HST/1 combo to your HST/2-HST/5 combo. Press towards the red.

Sew basket parts together
Sew basket parts together

Sew HST/8 to Square 10. Press towards the Square 10.

Sew HST/6 to HST/9. Press towards the red part of the HST.

Sew 2 sets of woven basket parts together
Sew 2 sets of woven basket parts together
Sew basket parts together
Sew basket parts together

Using the diagram above to confirm placement, sew your HST/6-HST/9 combo to your HST/8-Square/10 combo. Press towards the HST/6-HST/9 combo.

Sew Triangle to HSTs
Sew Triangle to HSTs

Using the diagram above to confirm placement, sew C to HST/3. Press towards the red.

Sew triangle D to C-HST/3 combo
Sew triangle D to C-HST/3 combo

Using the diagram above to confirm placement, sew D to your C-HST/3 combo. Press towards D.

Trim your dog ears
Trim your dog ears

Trim your dog ears.

Sew HST/4 to HST/7. Press towards HST/7, making sure your seams will nest with the seams you have already pressed.

Sew parts of the basket together
Sew parts of the basket together

Sew HST/4-HST/7 together and then sew the HST/4-HST/7 combo to E. Press towards E.

Four sections of the Basket
Four sections of the Basket

Using the diagram above for placement, sew your HST/4-HST/7-E combo to your C-D-HST/3 combo. Press.

Trim dog ears.

Sew 2 Sections together
Sew 2 Sections together

Sew your A,B-HST/1-HST/2 segment to the HST/6-HST/9 segment.

Trim Your Dog Ears
Trim Your Dog Ears

Trim your dog ears!

Sew last two segments
Sew last two segments

Sew the last two segments of the basket part together. You may have to re-press some seams.

I didn’t move the borders the whole time I worked on the quilt See how much the basket part shrank? That is seam allowances for you!

Trim the dog ears
Trim the dog ears

Trim the dog ears, if you haven’t already.

Sew 2 halves together
Sew 2 halves together

Now you have two halves of the basket. Sew the woven part to the handle part by placing the woven part on top of the handle part, lining them up and then sewing carefully. You can fold the two sections in half, bisecting the handle, to match them up if you think that you need to trim the handle portion later.

Ready to sew last borders
Ready to sew last borders

Now you are ready to sew on the borders.

Sew triangle to border
Sew triangle to border
Sew triangle to border with words
Sew triangle to border with words

Sew the B2-G background section by placing the red triangle (G) face down on top of background piece B2 and sew the short end of the background to the triangle, as shown in the picture.

Sew on background B2/Triangle-G
Sew on background B2/Triangle-G

Take the basket piece that you sewed together above and place the B2-G background section on top of the basket section. Line up the red triangle’s seam from the B2-G background section with the HST/8-Square 10 section. You want the seams to match, so pin. Press towards background piece B2.

Only one more border to go.

Take the basket piece that you sewed together above and place the B1-F background section on top of the basket section. Line up the red triangle’s seam from the B1-F background section with the HST/9-Square 10 section. You want the seams to match, so pin. Press towards background piece B1.

Sew on Final Triangle
Sew on Final Triangle

Now you are ready to sew the last piece.

Trim dog ears
Trim dog ears

Trim dog ears.

Basket almost complete
Basket almost complete

Your basket is almost complete.

Line up triangle with borders
Line up triangle with borders

Complete your basket half by sewing background piece B3 to the basket. You have already snipped off the corners so you just have to line up the triangle piece with the borders already sewn to the block. Press towards the background piece B3.

Your half is complete.

Take the top half of the basket, the piece with the handle, and carefully sew it to the basket half.

Completed Basket Block
Completed Basket Block

Your block is complete! Hooray.

 

 

Sampler Quilt: Basket pt.1

Frances finally let me know she was ready to move on with her sampler quilt. We decided to make the Flower Basket Block, so I sent her the pattern, promised the tutorial and did nothing.

Christmas got in the way.

I wasn’t in the mood.

I had to finish another tutorial.

I have a lot of projects on which to work.

My muse was on vacation.

Finally!

Christmas was over.

I was in the mood.

The other tutorial was finished.

The projects will wait and my muse was back.

I was shocked to find that the last tutorial I did for this project was last year! I really should do them in advance. Perhaps for the next block?

Regardless, I am now ready to show you how to make the Flower Basket block, the next block in our Sampler Quilt Class.

Flower Basket
Flower Basket

These directions are for machine sewing your Flower Basket and include a little applique’, which can be done by machine or hand.

Will you play along?

Complete Supply List

  • Flower Basket Directions & Templates
  • paper scissors
  • mechanical pencil
  • thin Pigma pen (or similar)
  • template plastic
  • glue stick
  • 2 (or more) foreground fabrics
  • 12.5″ x 12.5″ piece of background fabric, which you will cut in half
  • FQ of same background fabric
  • Rotary ruler, including a long one, such as Creative Grids 4.5″x18.5″
  • Rotary cutter
  • Fabric scissors
  • thread
  • pins
  • Stiletto
  • Design wall or sandpaper board
  • sewing machine

Optional

Important information:

  • Block is 12.5″ unfinished, 12″ finished
  • These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance. Check your seam allowance before you begin. If you don’t know how to do that, there are resources available, including one from Connecting Threads and another from Craftsy. You can search the web for others if you don’t like these.
  • You will be directed to use the Triangle Technique. Make sure you have the chart as well as the instructions handy.
  • Respect the bias.

Templates

You really only a need a template for the basket handle. If you are using templates for all of your pieces, then prepare all the templates for pieces in the patterns as directed below.

Prepare pattern for your basket handle template by printing two copies of the pattern. I am telling you to do this first so when you get into the throes of sewing you won’t have to stop and fiddle around with templates.

You will eventually place one copy of the pattern in your binder, but keep it handy so you can use it as reference.

Nota bene: You probably know how to make templates. However, I am including a quick refresher. Look for a comprehensive tutorial soon. (I’ll update this post and link it from here)

  • Rough cut* the handle pattern out of the second printout.
Rough Cut Pattern
Rough Cut Pattern
    • Glue the paper pattern (with seam allowances) using the glue stick (or other suitable adhesive) to the template plastic.
Ok to use scraps of template plastic
Ok to use scraps of template plastic

It is okay to use scraps of template plastic. Put a piece of tape on seam lines to keep the joins stiff.

Fine cut templates
Fine cut templates
  • Fine cut** the paper pattern and template plastic you have adhered so you have an accurate template, cutting off any seam allowance that may have printed.

DSCN0125smIf you plan to machine sew the handle at all, you will want to prepare another basket handle template, in the same manner, without seam allowance.

Fabric

Gather your fabric and press it all. You can rough cut some pieces and press it with Mary Ellen’s Best Press to help deal with the bias. Consider this step for the large background triangle and the basket handle.

Cutting

Flower Basket
Flower Basket

Basket Handle
In my example basket, above (same as at the beginning of the post), this fabric is the medium blue.

Lay out template piece
Lay out template piece

Draw around the template with your black fine tip marker. Rough cut a piece of fabric large enough for your basket handle.

Place template face down on fabric
Place template face down on fabric

Place your handle template right side down on the wrong side of the fabric. Trace around the template carefully with your Pigma pen. Trace carefully without pulling or tugging at the fabric. You will be dealing with some bias on the curves. You will need to carefully move your hand along the template to keep it in place while you trace. Use the Pigma pen with a light touch.

Cut out handle
Cut out handle

Using your fabric scissors, cut around the traced image, cutting the drawn line off. If you are using a template with no seam allowance, leave approximately a quarter inch seam allowance on all sides.

Background:
In my example, above, this fabric is the blue Michael Miller Ta Dot with white dots.

Measure background
Measure background

Measure the template for the large triangle of background fabric. It should be 10″ on each of the outside edges WITH seam allowance. Cut a square 10.5″ x 10.5″. You can trim it later. Better safe than sorry. Press the square with Mary Ellen’s Best Press.

Cut square on diagonal
Cut square on diagonal

Cut the square in half along the diagonal.

Cut the following additional pieces according to the measurements given:

Background fabric:

    • 2 patches: 2.5″x8.5″
Nip off Bunny Ears
Nip off Bunny Ears
  • 1 patch: square 4 7/8″x 4 7/8″. Cut in half. Nip off the bunny ears with the Judy Martin Point Trimmer
  • 1 square: 5″ x 5″. Cut in half on the diagonal and set your second triangle aside
  • Remember: you have already cut the large background triangle
Cut some pieces from extra background triangle
Cut some pieces from extra background triangle

You can cut some of the background pieces out of the leftover triangle.

Foreground fabric:

The foreground fabric is used for the basket. You will need at least two fabrics for this part. In my example I am using a scarlet red and a medium blue. See picture above for placement of foreground fabrics.

    • 1 square: 2.5″ square
    • For the HSTs, you will need 2 squares, according to the Triangle Technique Chart, 6.25″ x 6.25″. Each square should be from a different foreground fabric. See the picture above.
      • Nota bene: The above Triangle Technique only yields 8 HSTs. You can make another set using the Triangle Technique directions and have some extras, or you can cut the triangles themselves
    • 1 square 2.5″ x 2.5″
Cut triangles
Cut triangles
Cut squares in half
Cut squares in half
  • Cut 4 squares 2 7/8 in by 2 7/8 in the second background fabric (red in my project). Cut in half. These are the base and top line of your flower basket.
Cut Pieces
Cut Pieces

You should now have all of your pieces cut. Look for the next part of the tutorial on sewing the block together.

 

 

* Rough cut means that you cut around the outside line and a little away from it, leaving some extra paper. This helps to position the template properly and eventually cut it accurately.

** Fine cut means that you cut the template out very exactly and carefully getting rid of any extra paper and template material used when you rough cut. This is the shape you will use to cut your fabric so prepare this step with care.

Serendipity Lady Help and Process

We had a discussion at the CQFA social on Saturday about Workshop projects and how they are not always the kind of projects one wants to finish. There are a lot of variables going into the workshop -the right fabric and supplies, working in an unfamiliar environment, etc. – that conspire to make you learn something, but not always like the end result.

Serendipity Lady - Beginning Work
Serendipity Lady – Beginning Work

That is not the case with Serendipity Lady. I have wanted to do this design ever since I made stained and leaded glass panels back in the dark ages. Caroline’s workshop at CQFA last spring (?) gave me the means in fabric and the inspiration to make this dream a reality.

The problem was that my piece had so many small pieces that cutting out the pieces straight from the fabric became an issue. I went back and tried a few times and failed – or didn’t succeed as thoroughly as I would have liked. I didn’t want to simplify the pattern and I didn’t want to blow it up larger either.  Struggling with the mechanics of making a piece does not make it fun. Finally, I put it aside to mull over.

This was disappointing, because I came home so jazzed about this project after the workshop. Creating is a struggle, but for this one, I just wanted it to work. Sadly, that is not the way ‘making’ works.

In the mulling process, I came up with the idea of making templates for each piece. I was about to embark on that line of thought  using the kind of cardstock (tagboard??) I used to use for cutting the templates for stained and leaded glass panels when I had lunch with Maureen and Dolores.

I mentioned my problem to them and how I wanted to use templates and asked their advice. They both immediately went to freezer paper and patiently explained how to use freezer paper to make the templates. I couldn’t really envision the process in my head. It became clearer when they kind of walked me through the process, reminding me to trace the design backwards.

What Process Looks Like
What Process Looks Like

Again, I was really excited so I came home, taped the design to my sliding glass door and retraced the pattern backwards. Then I traced the backwards pattern on to freezer paper and sat in front of the TV and cut it out.

Again, those tiny little pieces were not my friend. At the moment I have them all paperclipped together, but that is only because I keep forgetting to get an envelope each time I go downstairs.

Serendipity Lady - Weekend Work
Serendipity Lady – Weekend Work

Next I started applying freezer paper to fabric. Then the real fun began. I threw out some fabrics after putting them near other fabrics and the picture really started to take shape. I am not done and I haven’t glued down the pieces yet, but I really had a lot of fun making some serious progress.

My mind is whirling with the possibilities of adding a few beads, embroidering the eyelash, etc. Fun!

Sampler Class: Fusible Machine Applique’ Tutorial Ending

Fusible Machine Applique' Block
Fusible Machine Applique’ Block

I have finished my machine applique’ block for the class with Frances. I had fun doing it.

If you want to make this block, take a look at part 1, part 2 and part 3.

The best part of this was that Frances really had fun doing the block. That made me feel great.

As I mentioned, I used scraps for the leaves and centers.

Next up: curves.

Sampler Class: Fusible Machine Applique’ Tutorial Part 3

We are making the Flower Wreath block. To find out how to make templates, including the ring, see Part 1 for making templates and Part 2 for making the ring and positioning the ring on the background.

Flower Wreath
Flower Wreath

Now we are going to stitch the ring. If you haven’t started, check the Supply List in part 1 and grab your 3″x5″ tearaway backed fabric. Your ring should be applied to the background and ready to stitch. If your ring is not fused and ready to stitch, go back to part 2.

I stitch in layers, so that the stitching is easier, there are fewer starts and stops and the piece looks more finished. Now that you are ready to stitch, it is time to choose your thread.

Choose thread
Choose thread

Whenever you choose thread, you must consider the stitch. If the stitch will be dense like a satin stitch, you should choose the color by looking at the thread wrapped around the whole spool. That will give you a better sense of the color the satin stitch will end up.

It you will be using a straight stitch, you should unreel a bit of the thread and look at one strand on your fabric. You may need to pool a little of the thread together – less dense than the whole spool and more dense than one strand.

Now set up your machine for zig zag stitching. You will need to choose a stitch density. I like a semi-open zig zag that is not too wide, because it uses less thread and looks more interesting. Dense satin stitching, however, can really highlight and outline each piece. I use the following settings on my machine:

  • Ring: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
  • Flowers: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
  • Leaves: width: 2.0, density: 0.5
  • Flower centers: width: 2.0, density: 0.5

Even if you haven’t chosen all the fabric, I like to get the ring stitched down first, so I can audition the other fabric without worrying about the ring. Yes, it is fused and shouldn’t go anywhere, but I still like it to be stitched down.

In order to choose the stitch density, you will need to test. Get the tearaway backed sample piece you have prepared and start testing with the width and densities I have provided above. Stitch lines of zig zag stitching 2-3″ long using a contrasting thread similar to the thread you will be using to stitch the ring. Adjust the width and density on your machine until you are pleased with the look.

Stitch ring
Stitch ring

Put the ring on the machine and start stitching. I always leave a long tail that I can pull to the back and tie shut later. My zig zag does not automatically tie the ends. If your machine is more advanced you may not have to tie a knot on the back. I don’t want my zig zag to come out if it gets snagged while being used, which is why I tie the ends.

I use my applique’ foot, which has a red arrow in the center to stitch out the zig zag. I place the tip of the red arrow on the raw edge of the ring and follow it around. You should stitch with needle down or use the hand wheel to put the needle down when you stop. If the center point on your foot gets off the raw edge of your ring, stop and readjust. Stop with the needle down on the outside of the ring’s curve whenever you need to readjust the needle to accommodate the curve. Turn the fabric to the left to get the center point of the foot back on the raw edge of your ring. The stitching will be slightly closer together on the inside of the shape, when the needle punches the fabric to the left,  and more open on the outside of the shape or when the needle hits the background.

Tail of thread
Tail of thread

When you have done about half – 3/4s of the stitching on the ring, stop and pull the beginning thread to the back and tie it off, if you need to.

I tie the beginning off before I get to the end, because the beginning and ending threads can get tangled up and make it impossible to make small, neat knots. I have tied all four ends together in a pinch, but prefer to make the knots as small as possible.

Fold work back to tie
Fold work back to tie

I also use this technique also if I have to stop and pull the work out of the machine because of thread breakage or necessary bobbin refill.

I fold the work back (I only used my pincushion so I could photograph what I was doing. Normally, I just hold it with my wrist as pull the front through to the back and tie the ends together. I don’t take the work out of the machine unless there is a good reason – like a big knot, or thread breakage, etc.

Completely stitched ring
Completely stitched ring

Once your knot is tied, continue stitching to where you started. I don’t overlap much once I get to the beginning, perhaps only a stitch or two, because I don’t want the look to be too different.

I pull the work out of the machine and tie off the ending threads. You may not need to do this if your machine does it for you.

Now do the same thing, but on the inside to finish stitching down the ring. Once you have stitched both the inside and outside of the rings, your ring will be complete and you will be ready to place the leaves and flowers on the ring.

 

Choose fabrics by putting scraps on background

If you have not already done so, choose the rest of your fabrics. You will need fabric for the flowers (1-4 fabrics) and leaves (1-20 fabrics). If you have not cut out and fused the wreath to the background, please go back to part 2. The leaves can be the traditional green or you can use something else. If you use one color, you might want to mix up the prints to increase interest. You can also use different colors. Make the block your own.

Make visual decisions visually
Make visual decisions visually

I thought about making the leaves green to make them more realistic, but decided I was still of a mind to use a variety of turquoises and aquas and keep my quilt’s color scheme of aqua/turquoise with red consistent. I found more leaf fabrics in my scrap basket. It is important, with my limited color scheme, to make sure the viewer can see the individual leaves. For that, I will need to have enough contrast between the various aquas and turquoises. Remember, when choosing your fabrics, to make visual decisions visually. Put your potential fabrics on the background and step back to look at them. From my test piece (right) you can see that there are a variety of tones of aqua and turquoise. Some of them blend a bit into the background. I want movement and interest.

Cover fusible with fabric
Cover fusible with fabric

Once you have chosen all of your fabrics press the wrong sides, cheek to jowl, to one side of the fusible.

You are not going to be able to cover every inch of the fusible, which is why you have a pressing cloth or applique’ pressing sheet. If you press directly, the fusible that is not covered by fabric will end up on the bottom of your iron.

Cover this piece with a press cloth and press the fusible to the fabric following the directions on your fusible’s packaging.

 

Trace leaves & Flowers
Trace leaves & Flowers

Make all of your leaves and flowers. Flip the fusible so that paper side is up. You will be able to see your different fabrics through the paper. Place a template face DOWN on the appropriate fabric and trace with a writing implement. I use a Sewline pencil, but you can also use a pen, regular pencil or anything. I wouldn’t use a Sharpie even though I don’t think the paper will allow the marking to bleed through to the fabric.

Once you have traced all pieces**, cut them out right inside the drawn line. You should have 20 leaves, 4 flowers and 4 center flowers.

  1. Take all of your pieces and arrange them the pleasing way. Arrange them into the position you want them to end up once they are fused. You are doing this to look at the effect. Once you are pleased with the arrangement, take a photo or sketch out placement.
  2. Fuse & Stitch Flowers
    Fuse & Stitch Flowers

    You will need to stitch the flowers first, then the leaves and finally the flower centers. The flowers and leaves are on the same layer, so you can stitch them in any order. Anything that will be covered by another piece will need to be stitched before you fuse the covering piece.

  3. Place the flowers on the ring using the press marks you used to place the ring on the background (or fold the background in quarters and finger press again). Place them symmetrically along the ring, or in a pleasing way to your eye.
  4. Fuse them into place and get ready to stitch. You can also reference the machine applique’ tutorial for more information. Again, pay attention to where the layers of the design are placed. If there are leaves that you want to place under the wreath, you will need to satin stitch them before you fuse the wreath down entirely.  For the flowers, you will need to satin stitch down any parts of the design that will be covered by another piece of fused fabric, such as the centers. The design will look better if you satin stitch a layer and then fuse the next piece down.
  5. Flower Wreath Layers

    Place the interfacing under the background. You could use a machine basting stitch to stitch the interfacing temporarily to the background, but pinning works fine, too. You will need to zig zag with the interfacing under the background.

  6. Stitching flowers
    Stitching flowers

    Satin stitch all the other pieces down using the thread you chose. When you stitch, the middle of the stitch will cover the outside raw edge of each piece. I line up the red arrow on my foot (see photo) with the sharp edge of that raw edge. The pieces you will satin stitch have curves, thus you will need to manipulate the stitch so it is smooth. This means that you will need to stitch with needle down.

    Stop stitching to create smooth curves
    Stop stitching to create smooth curves

    Stop with the needle down on the outside of the curve for the leaves and flower petals. For the inside point between the flower petals stop above that point on the inside. If you do not have a machine that automatically stops with the needle down, then you can use the hand wheel to move the needle into the downward position when you stop. Do this carefully without moving the fabric. Once the needle is down you will need to assess the way to turn the fabric. Always turn the fabric very slightly to ensure a smooth curve. You may only need to take one stitch before adjusting the fabric again in order to get around the curve smoothly. For the outside curves, generally, you need to turn the fabric to the left to make a smooth curve. (Updated 10/30/2012: My engineer SIL says: You turn it clockwise for outside curves and counter clockwise for inside curves.) The stitching will be closer together on the inside of the shape and more open on the outside of the shape when you move in this direction. For the inside point of the flower, between the petals, you will need to take a slight adjustment of the background to the right. For the pointy ends of the leaves, stop the needle on the outside of the leaf near the point and adjust the fabric to the right very, very slightly. Take one stitch, stop on the outside of the point again. Adjust very slightly to the right. Your goal should be to get the needle into the same hole on the inside of the leaf until the arrow or line on your machine’s foot is in line with the raw edge of the other side of the leaf. When you move the fabric always keep the needle down. Before starting, take a few of the shapes, e.g. a leaf and a flower, make some test pieces and do a test on junk fabric so you get the feel of the procedure. This is not something you should work on when you are pressed for time.

  7. Arrange leaves
    Arrange leaves
  8. Once you are finished with the flowers, change your thread and adjust the width and density of your stitch, if desired.
  9. Arrange the leaves in a pleasing manner. I placed 5 at a time on the background and stitched them down.
  10. Stitch leaves
    Stitch leaves

    Arrange and stitch all of the leaves. My photo shows only 10 sewn leaves.

  11. Place the centers on the flowers and stitch them down. Follow all the directions above for tying off and moving the needle to create a smooth curve.
  12. Back of block
    Back of block

    Once you have stitched all the pieces, rip off the tearaway. I use a seam ripper to get the ripping started on pieces that are surrounded by stitching.

  13. Once you are finished with the entire stitching and tearaway ripping, trim the background down to 12.5″

 

 

 

**Nota bene: These pieces have no right direction. You can trace them any way and apply them anyway and they will look fine. Pay attention if you are cutting out letters or another motif that has a special direction. Put the right side down on the paper backed fusible and trace the motif backwards.

Sampler Class: Fusible Machine Applique’ Tutorial Part 1

Frances and I are back in action with the Sampler class. I am excited, but nervous because I haven’t done this in awhile. The next class is about fusible machine applique’.

Flower Wreath
Flower Wreath

Supply List:

  • Notebook for notes
  • Pen to take notes 😉
  • Mechanical Pencil
  • Fabric (at least 4 different, preferably more greens to create variety in the leaves; scraps work well)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Paper scissors
  • Small ruler
  • Glue stick
  • Template plastic
  • Dinner plate or compass
  • Fusible web, such as Misty Fuse or Steam-a-Seam 2 or Steam-a-Seam Lite
  • Applique’ pressing sheet
  • Tear away stabilizer (the size of your background)
  • Iron
  • Ironing surface
  • 3″x5″  piece of fabric backed with 2 layers of tearaway stabilizer
  • Flower Wreath pattern sheets
    1. Aqua-Red Sampler Blocks
      Aqua-Red Sampler Blocks

      Cut a piece of fabric for the background .5″ to 1″ bigger than the finished size of the block. If you have a regular background fabric, use that, if not use a coordinating fabric. I took a look at my current blocks to help me decide what background I wanted to choose. This is a coordinated scrappy quilt, but I also wanted to find a background that would work well with the applique pieces that I was planning to put on top of it.

    2. After cutting out a background, you need to put it aside for the time being. You will need it after you make the templates and the ring.
    3. Rough cut pattern out for templates
      Rough cut pattern out for templates

      Cut out all the templates from the paper. Leave a little of the paper around the edges. Feel free to adjust the design of the flowers or leaves, if you want the shapes to be a little different.

      All patterns rough cut
      All patterns rough cut

In the photo above, you can see all of them templates rough cut out, except the circles. The circles print from EQ7 on two sheets of paper. You will need to rough cut the two pieces for each circle and then tape them together. In order to tape the pieces together, hold each piece for one circle in a hand up to the light and match them up you. Before you hold them up, have the tape ready just to tack the pieces together. You can use a light box for this procedure also.

Fold circles in quarters
Fold circles in quarters

Fold circles in quarters to make a line down the centers. This will help you line them up to make the ring for the wreath.

I never did this before and had to figure it out, but it works pretty well.

Layer Circles
Layer Circles

Using the folds, layer the circles together so you can see the black line of the upper circle. Draw a line around the smaller circle using the smaller circle as a template. You will be drawing on the larger circle. Use a soft implement (pencil or roller ball pen) that doesn’t skip to draw the circle. Once you have drawn the circle, you can put the smaller circle away with your other templates. I use a zipper bag for all of the pieces and parts.

Check width
Check width

Fold up the larger circle. Check the width of the ring of the wreath using a small ruler to make sure it is even. Once you are happy with the line. Cut along the line without opening the circle.

Complete Ring Pattern
Complete Ring Pattern

Once you have cut out the ring, open up the ring.

Now you are ready to make the templates. Grab all of your patterns, your template plastic and your glue stick.

  1. Glue the paper templates to the template plastic.
    No template plastic on folds
    No template plastic on folds

    The only tricky part is for the ring. I avoid the folds in the pattern and only put the template plastic on the parts of the ring where the fold isn’t. Why? Because I want to be able to fold this piece and put it in a zipper bag. Also, by adding the template plastic in quarters you save template plastic and you can use smaller pieces. Finally, you don’t end up with a circle of leftover template plastic.

  2. Trim the templates to the line on the pattern.
Front & back of templates
Front & back of templates

Depending on the kind of template plastic you have, your templates will look something like the photo above.

Part 2 will talk about choosing fabrics etc.

You can find more detail about machine appliqueing directional motifs, such as letters in a separate tutorial.

Hideous Tarts

Tarts Come to Tea, April 2010
Tarts Come to Tea, April 2010

Ta Da!

The Tarts are ready to quilt. Don’t have a heart attack when you see the grey border. I know it is ugly fabric that does not coordinate with the bright cheerfulness of the rest of the quilt. It is a quilting border and will be removed or cut off after the quilting is done.

I worked on the last bit of applique’ over the weekend and sewed on the quilting border. Except for the basting, the Tarts are ready to quilt. I didn’t realize that this piece was acting like a creativity dam. It was stopping up my creative problem solving for other projects. As soon as I did the applique’ and put the border on, I felt like I could do anything. It was an awesome feeling.

Tea Kettle with Stars
Tea Kettle with Stars

I tried a number of slight variations in location for the stars, for about 2 minutes, and then I just appliqued them on. Mentally, I am done with the project and hope I can make it through the quilting.

Tea Kettle with Stars, detail
Tea Kettle with Stars, detail

I am pleased with the way the block looks.

Lesson: stop thinking and just do it!

Applique’ From the Past

My mom often cleans out some part of her house or storage and tries to give me things. I have a lot of things. Probably too many, so I try and refuse. She got me in a weak moment over the holidays and I ended up with a plastic bag containing something that was a very odd shade of green. She said it was Aunt Grace’s Holiday tablecloth.

I have a holiday tablecloth and during one of the massive cleanups during this holiday season, the plastic-bag-with-green-who-knows-what got shoved in a closet downstairs. As luck would have it, or perhaps some goddess of table linens was smiling on my dead Aunt Grace, The Child spilled chocolate milk on my holiday tablecloth right before a party, so I went in search of the green thing to see what it was and if I could stand looking at it.

Oh Me of little faith!

Holiday Tablecloth
Holiday Tablecloth

Well, I have to say I do like this tablecloth. My mom said that Aunt Grace had one of the first zigzag sewing machines in the 1950s and made this tablecloth with her own drawings. I have no idea if that is true (when were zigzag machines available to home sewists??) or just family lore. I can relate, however, as I did a wild and complicated machine applique’ project when I first got the 9K because I was so excited about having zigzag capability.

Dancing Santa
Dancing Santa

We had a big discussion in my house about the meaning of the Happy Dancing Santa and his red face. Too much dancing?

Santa has long and luxurious hand embroidered eyelashes!

The satin stitch  on all the pieces is really thick, so we have had discussions about that as well. I can’t tell if she used thick thread or if the fabric bunched up under the zigzag. I guess there could also be some stabilizer in there, but I didn’t see any when I looked at the back.

Candles
Candles

One thing I noticed is that there is a lot of movement in these designs. The slanted top of the candles is an example of this. The shape of the candles echoes the shape of the holly, wreath and other motifs.

Reindeer
Reindeer

We all agreed that this reindeer looks very Seussian. I would love it if Aunt Grace had a journal or blog where she talked about her inspiration. Was she reading Dr. Seuss at the time? It gives me renewed resolve in continuing to post about my projects and quiltmaking encounters!

Bells
Bells

As you may be able to see (click to enlarge the picture), Aunt Grace has used French knots for the edge (lip??) of the bell. Notice how she used one towards the bottom to highlight the shape. Very subtle, IMO.

Snowman
Snowman

The very un-PC snowman with his prominent pipe! She used some hand embroidery stitching for the eyes, which she also used on the reindeer. I also like the way the stitching around the sections of the motifs do not match the fabric.

Tablecloth detail
Tablecloth detail

I love the detail in the designs and also the variety of thread used. I also like it that everything is not perfect. I don’t mean that she put in fake mistakes. She just did what she could do. It looks real to me.

Tarts Again

The Big Drip
The Big Drip

Yes, I am obsessing. This is the last time I will force you to read my obsessive, compulsive rantings on, what I am now calling, The Big Drip. The reason? The Big Drip is done. It is glued and appliqued down for eternity. Or at least until the glue from the fusible rots away and the fabric underneath is no longer viable.

I am pretty pleased with how it came out and will be even more pleased when I am at the point where I can embroider a stem on the cherry. Stay tuned for that drama! 😉

Fluttering Hearts
Fluttering Hearts

After successfully appliqueing The Big Drip to the piece, I had the idea that, perhaps, I should add some other little, appliqued embellishments to some of the other blocks.

I have to admit that the big grey teapot needs some spicing up. I cut out, and am trying, these little hearts. They do add a bit of a spark and draw the eye up towards that corner of the quilt, which is good. I don’t want the piece to look like I copied Mary Engelbreit. I also want it to be fun and not cutesy. Let me know what you think.

Tarts Cream Drips

Tarts, Small Drip
Tarts, Small Drip

This is the piece of pie and whipped cream, which you have seen four dozen times. I am forced to continue to show it to you until you scream for mercy. Only because you asked for it. 😉

Okay! Okay! I am not so mean. This is actually a slightly larger drip than before. I took your advice and decided to make the drip a little larger. I don’t think it is large enough here. When I stand back, it still looks like a speck. I don’t want people to think I made a big boo-boo on the applique’.

Tarts, Big Drip
Tarts, Big Drip

Here is the big drip. It looks like something! I used the same shape; just made it a bit bigger. I like it and it will probably be sewed down this weekend.

Sewing it down would be very nice, because then I can get it off of my design wall and put something else up.

Oh. The back. I still have to make the back. Sigh.

Whipped Cream Drama

I know you thought I forgot about the Tarts. Or, perhaps, you thought I abandoned the piece for another 3 years?

Oh ye of little faith!

Non quilt parts of my life have been busier than usual. I have still taken the time to diligently test your ideas for the whipped cream on the second piece of pie after I posted some thoughts in a previous blog post. I thought it would be easy and fast. HA! When will I ever learn?

Another issue is that the 9K is back in the shop. It is fixed now, but I won’t be able to pick it up (80+ mile round trip) until Friday since I am going out of town on Tuesday and the shop is closed on Monday. I tested an approximation of a satin stitch on the Jem. The Jem is a great machine, but the satin stitch it makes doesn’t compare to the 9K’s satin stitch. I need to wait until the 9K returns from his/her vacation. I’ll get everything ready, however.

Below are the candidates:

Whipped Cream #3
Whipped Cream #3

I liked this one, but didn’t think it was enough. I thought it needed more of something. Someone mentioned a drip in a comment, so I started working on that.

Whipped Cream #4
Whipped Cream #4

The drip above is too small. I want it to stand out a bit more against the plate.

Whipped Cream Test #5
Whipped Cream Test #5

The one above is pretty good in terms of having more than just an element on the top. However, the indentation in the top of the dripped whipped cream on the plate looks strange. It may be realistic, but it doesn’t look fun or interesting.

Whipped Cream #6
Whipped Cream #6

The one above is the option I have decided to use. I like the more engaged shape of the drip. I don’t think that is how drips really look, but this quilt isn’t reality.

As you can see, I take Lorraine Torrence’s admonishment to “make visual decisions visually” to heart.