Friday, May 21, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival

My entry for Amy's Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival is a wall hanging that I made in 2004. It is my design. First I purchased some hand dyed fabric (the pink and green used in the appliques), then I started looking for some fabric to complement the hand dyes. I found the rose fabric in Keepsake Quilting and thought it was perfect. I made this quilt because I needed something to hang on the wall in my guest room.

Here is a detail picture of one of the blocks. I used hand guided machine applique, machine piecing and quilting to make this quilt. If you are interested in a tutorial on machine applique, I have one here. I hope you like this quilt. It feels like spring to me.

Thank you Amy  for hosting this quilt festival! It's always fun to see all the quilts. If you would like to see more quilts go here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Machine Applique Tutorial

As promised yesterday, I have a machine applique tutorial to share with you. If you find that you have questions, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer them.
First you need to affix your applique pieces to the background. My preferred method is with fusible web. First trace your pieces to the smooth (paper) side of the fusible web. Make sure you are tracing the pieces opposite of the way you want them to appear on the finished item. I use a light box, but a sunny window will work fine. Then cut the pieces apart near the traced line, not on the traced line. Using the manufacturer’s instructions, iron the fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric. Then cut out on the line and following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the pieces to your background. Note: I always cut the background a little larger and trim it to size when I’m finished with the applique to be sure the background stays the right size.
     After you affix the fabric to the background you will need to stabilize the piece. You can use either tear away stabilizer or copy paper. I use both depending on the project. If the project is small and intricate, I recommend tear away. Straight lines and gentle curves are fine with copy paper. If I have a larger project, I use tear away simply because I can cover the entire area.
     Any good quality thread will work for applique. I use the same thread on the top and in the bobbin.
     Next adjust your machine. I always loosen the top tension. You will have a much smoother satin stitch if you do this. I also set my straight stitch length to 0 and my zigzag stitch to almost 0. 

Now you need to decide what to sew first. Any piece that is partially under another piece should be sewn first. In this picture, the heart and the yellow petals of the flower need to be sewn before the green leaves or the blue petal.
Finally we are sewing! Starting in a corner or just anywhere on a circle, sew your first five stitches in place with the straight stitch to knot the thread.


 Then switch to zigzag and start sewing. The outside edge of your stitching should be just beyond  the outside edge of the applique (about the width of your needle). Guide the piece. Do not try to push it though the machine. Let you machine do the work!

You will need to start and stop using the straight stitch knot when you come to a piece that overlays the piece you are working on. It is OK to satin stitch onto the top piece just a little ways to make sure your entire bottom piece is covered, but not too far as you must be able to cover your stitching with the stitching on the upper piece.

When you reach an area where your need to change directions, stop with you needle on the inside of the piece, in the down position.

  Then pivot your piece to go in the next direction. Pull your needle up and position it though the same hole as when you stopped and continue on. Corners are done the same way as the center of this heart.


Although almost all other directions have you cover the corner going in both directions, I don’t recommend this because it makes the corner bulky. 

 End your applique with five straight stitches to knot the thread again.

 When you finish. Trim the front threads first. Then give the back threads a gentle tug to pull the knots to the back and trim. Don’t trim the knots off. 

If you make a mistake, it is easy to correct. Simply slide your seam ripper between the fabric and the thread and cut the thread. Be very careful that the seam ripper does not catch the fabric! 

When you are completely finished remove the stabilizer, press, and trim the background to size.

This is a picture of my finished applique.

This is a fun and fast way to applique, but at first it may seem difficult. Start sewing slowly, as you gain confidence, your speed will increase. As in all new techniques, practice is necessary, so you may want to practice before starting a project. If you would like a printable copy of this tutorial and a sample applique pattern to practice with go here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What Could Have Happened Here?

My goodness what could have happened here. Was there an explosion in the stash closet? (No, a new project is happening!) Is this why I haven't blogged as much lately? (Well maybe somewhat, mostly the problem was laziness.) I have been working on projects, but haven't felt they were really ready to blog about. So now I' m ready to show you some of the things I'm working on. 
My oldest son and his wife are expecting a baby, so of course I'm going a little wild with baby quilts. I have been hoping for a grandchild for quite a while now, so I think I can be forgiven. So how does this relate to the mess...I found a really cute book by Linda Hohag of "Brandywine Designs" called "Critter Caboodle". Here is a picture of the blocks ironed on and ready to machine applique. 

As you can see they are fairly intricate and require a lot of different fabrics. I spent most of one day choosing just the right ones. Then another day tracing the critters onto fusible web. Then still another day and evening ironing the critters onto the fabric and cutting them out. It was fun, although I must admit that some of my choices had to be changed. There have been three different squirrels and two different raccoons. I'm finally happy with my choices. I'll show you close-ups of the blocks as I get them appliqued. Here is the fabric that I plan to use for the sashing and border.

I've also been working on another quilt for the baby called "Just Ducky" that I found in the December 2009 issue of "American Patchwork and Quilting". Maybe if I stuck to one project at a time, I would get them finished faster, but that's not how I work. Here is a picture of one of the blocks.

As you can see, his applique is finished. There are twelve of these little guys in the quilt. Nine are completed and the other three are nearly done.
I also presented a program at my quilt guild on machine applique and I am hoping to post a tutorial here tomorrow. So if you're interested check back then!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Memories of Mom on Mother's Day

I just thought I'd share some memories of my Mom on Mother's Day. She was as good a mom as anyone could have ever had. She was one of eight children and my grandmother said she was by far her easiest child to raise. Here is a picture of her as a child. How would you like to iron that little dress, then multiply it by eight because then even the little boys wore lace and there was no permanent press!

Mom was a very talented woman. She sewed, quilted, knitted, crocheted, hooked rugs, painted pictures, reupholstered furniture, made and dressed porcelain dolls, and was an excellent cook. She didn't seem to be afraid to try anything. She always told us it was alright to try and fail, but not to try was unacceptable. Here is a picture of her as a young mother.

Mom was always there for us. I have three sisters and one brother. We all had childhoods out of a storybook. We lived on a farm and I can remember picking corn and walking along the irrigation canals looking for asparagus. I was born when Mom was in her late thirties. Here is a pictures of her as I remember her when I was growing up.

Mom was a wonderful grandmother and great-grandmother. She has twenty-four grandchildren. My kids always loved to visit grandma's house. There were always special meals, ice cream treats in the freezer, and fun projects just for them, plus wild outdoor fun too! Here is a picture of her as a grandma.

Mom died in September of 2008 at the age of ninety-six. I find I miss her more each day and wish I could ask her how to do things all the time. So I wish everyone out there a Happy Mother's Day. I'm sure you are loved!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Block Eight Finished!

I finished my eighth block for my block of the month group. We met on Saturday. I only had the corner units finished then, but that OK because that is the only parts required to get the next months blocks.

Then on Monday I finished the rest of the total combined block. Here is my concept block.

And finally, here is the finished block.