Saturday, January 30, 2016

Flower in a Pot #1 - Part Two

I love blue flowers.  Yes, I know they aren't as common in blue, but I had blue delphiniums in my wedding bouquet and have been in love with them ever since.  Since the pot in this block is green and blue I decided I didn't want to add in any extra colors.

You can see in the first two pictures layers two and three.  Layer two was the green stem and Layer three was the big blue piece at the bottom of the flower.  If you look at the photo of the back of the block you can see that the stitching I used for the green stem was quite large.  However, I used a blanket stitch that was really small for the bottom blue flower piece.  Since the blue piece had such a fun print I didn't want to take away from that with larger sized blanket stitches.

You can see here that I used a larger sized blanket stitch again for the second blue flower piece I added.  I decided that since the fabric was fairly solid I really wanted the stitches to show up.  This was a little challenging around curves, but I'm learning how to make it work for me.  I think the easiest thing is to do a wide width (the stitch will come into the fabric quite a ways) and a short length so that the distance between the stitches isn't too great.  This makes it easier to turn corners and do valleys.

Here is the finished back of the block.  Now that its done I can tear away the stabilizer.

Here you can really see the different sized blanket stitching I did in the flower.  I am really having fun changing up the sizes and plan to do a lot more of it!  It's just one more way to add more interest and variety to your applique blocks.

And here is the final block from the front!  I absolutely love the pot fabric and I'm glad I decided to keep the flower in matching colors.  I had to line the light blue piece in the center of the flower with two layers to make sure that the dark fabric behind it didn't show through.  This is called shadowing and it's a pain when it happens, so I always think about it when I'm planning my block to try to prevent it.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Flower in a Pot #1 - Part One

I have always wanted to do a series of quilts.  I'm not sure why.  It just seems like the "arty" thing to do to work in series.  I was doodling one day with some flower designs I liked, but knew I didn't want to make into a large project as I wanted to do some batting tests.   Here is my first design:

Since I started out with three flowers with large pots and I wanted to hang them next to each other, I decided to make sure that the large pots had fabrics that complemented each other.  I ended up with one in orange, one in light blue/purple (blurple according to my son) and one in green.  I wanted to use some of my more unusual batiks that would look great in large pieces.  It also didn't pass my notice that these are all secondary colors and should obviously go nicely.

I wanted to use this fabric for a pot, but I didn't want to use two green ones.  Maybe it will be a pot later?!

The other thing I wanted to test out was using a LOT of different sized blanket stitches in one block, so I took a picture of the front of each layer AND the back of each layer as I appliqued them.

You can see that when I started, I was labeling the size I was using on the back.  However, as I kept going I realized that all of this information was going to be lost when the flock was layered, so I stopped writing on the back.  I suppose a picture of the back would've been sufficient now that I think about it!  There are three different sizes used so far.  The tiny wiggle on the pot is a very small stitch.  The outline of the pot is slightly larger, but still small because I didn't want it to take over the design of the fabric.  

The two leaves are stitched in a very large blanket stitch.  Why?  Because I'd never done it before!  I really like how it accents the leaves.  One thing I did learn is that if you're going to go around a curve with a long blanket stitch you really have to be careful or the stitches will go on top of one another.  I also decided that while they went deep into the fabric (2.2 mm), I didn't want them that far apart so they are set for 1.8 mm so that the lines into the interior are closer together.

I love the fabric for this pot!  I've been wanting to use this fabric for a long time.  I love geometric print batiks.

Here you can see how I changed the size of the blanket stitch for the little wiggle even though I used the same thread.  If I would have used the same size stitch you wouldn't have been able to see much of the little wiggle's fabric.

That's all I've gotten accomplished, so more next time!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Coloring with My Students Inspiration

One of my fellow teachers bought me a coloring book that reminded her of my quilting.  It was on Mendhi design.  That same day my students and I were working on coloring covers for our poetry books.  I used some ideas from the coloring book to create my own picture.

As my students were watching me they came up with some creative ideas of their own.

So fun to watch them take off with their own creative ideas!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fusible Test...How did it Quilt?

I started this test last week with 6 different kind of fusible.  One for each flower.  Here's what I've learned so far:

Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite and Heat and Bond Featherlite are the least stiff.  I like the Steam-a-Seam because you can stick it on the background and the fabrics stay in place.

When quilting, I didn't notice a big different in it being easier to quilt around one fusible or another.  All six stuck well for me this round.  I followed the package directions for each product.  That being said, I have had trouble with Heat and Bond not sticking in the past.

If you want more specifics about the first part of this test click here.

Someone was also asking me about whether they adhered well and if they were fraying.  I just took a careful look and none of the fabrics are fraying, they all adhered well, and I didn't have any trouble with them lifting while I was sewing.  I did use stabilizer behind all the flowers.

I used a design from Christina Cameli's Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting for the background fill above the planter and simple swirls for below the planter.    I used a slightly off color tan so you could see the quilting.  This is one of my favorite things to do.  Why do all that work if you can't see it when your're done?

Next, I had to pick a fabric for binding.  I like to use color if at all possible for bindings because I think it adds a nice frame.

Brown Binding?  Too dark....

Dark peach binding, yummy.  Light peach binding, too pale.  It kind of clashes with the background fabric.


Green makes the stem and leaves stand out, which is not what I want.

Dark peach it is.  And here is the finished table runner!


Do you have any favorite fusibles?  Why?  I'd love to know!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Quilting with My Sons

A few weeks ago my sons asked to make quilts.  I've done this before with my older son Vincent who is 7, but my 4 year old Roland is new to quilting though he often asks for me to draw him what I'm working on so he can color it in.  Now they've both watched me forever, so upon being told yes, my 4 year old ran off to the other room to draw what he wanted to make.

Next we picked out background fabric and cut fusible-backed scraps into the desired shapes.  Here are the "tops" of their quilts:

Since I love to applique, these two see me drawing flowers all the time.  Clearly, they were inspired to create their own.  It certainly made this mama melt!

Next, I added backing and a layer of batted and stitched the edge.  Then I flipped them inside out and stitched around the edge to hold them together.  Finally, it was the boys turn to use decorative stitches on the machine to do the quilting.

Vincent has used the machine a few times before and was quite happy to quilt away all by himself this time!

This was Roland's first time sewing and he was nervous, so he decided I should move the quilt and he would press the pedal.  This was how Vincent started too.

And here they are with their finished quilts.  Roland must have his to sleep with every night now.  :)


Monday, January 18, 2016

Blue Bamboo Inspiration

I went to my favorite local quilt store the other day:  Blue Bamboo.  This was the door mat leading into their shop:

I can't figure out why blogger won't let me put it in the right way.  Another day I'll figure it out.  I love this door mat!  It's gorgeous and has lots of inspiriting circular designs.  Someday I want to do a quilt like this with overlapping circles.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Quilting the Fusible Test Part I

I'm very curious what it will be like to quilt around/though all the different fusibles I used in my last post.  I started quilting last night hoping to finish for the post today, but I didn't quite make it.  Here's what progress I've made and what I've learned so far.

When I quilted around the edge of each block I had no problems.  There was not a noticeable difference between brands of fusible.  I have yet to try quilting on the actual flower.  Hopefully I'll be able to let you know what happened next time!

I've been playing with Christina Cameli's new book on free motion machine quilting.  The above leafy design is from her book.  It's fantastic and if you love to free motion quilt like I do I highly recommend it!


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fusible Test!!!

I'm currently working on a quilting book (one month to go and it's due!) and so I decided to test six common fusibles in a small table runner.  I have used all of these in the past except for Soft Fuse.

I used the following fusibles from left to right:
1. Heat and Bond Featherlite
2. Soft Fuse
3.Steam a Seam 2 Lite
4. Wonder Under
5. Steam a Seam 2 Regular
6. Heat and Bond Lite

I had such a fun time using this brown batik as a basket/planter box.  I love fussy cutting geometric prints.
I started by picking a flower to use and making six of them using the exact same fabrics. I used a stabilizer to do my usual double blanket stitch applique.  I then ripped away the extra stabilizer and started playing with the table runner.  There are two that seem much thinner and a little less stiff than the others: Heat and Bond Featherlite and Steam a Seam 2 Lite.  The others are all thicker.  You can tell when you bend the fabric.

I also did the big brown planter in Wonder Under and ripped the stabilizer away from the back to see if that made a difference.  It was thinner, but still stiff.

If you look carefully at he right flower above, you can see that I have the pattern underneath my background fabric.  I've traced the pattern in a thin black sharpie so I could see the pattern through the fabric.  This worked great....until I added the stabilizer underneath!  Then I couldn't see through anymore and had to use a lightbox to place my pieces.  

As I was stitching all the flowers I followed the package directions.  I did not have any trouble with any of the fusibles not sticking or wrinkling, or falling apart.  HOWEVER, I have used most of these in the past and I still have a favorite:  Steam a Seam.  The main reasons I like steam a seam are:  1.  You can stick the pieces to your background and move the block from place to place without the pieces falling off.  2.  You can reposition or take the pieces off with ease.  3.  It sticks well.  I have used both the regular and lite weights.  I usually use the regular, but am coming around on using the light after quilting a quilt with a lot of fusible!

I have had many problems with Heat and Bond Lite and Featherlite not sticking well or coming off the tips of the pieces.  It's not something I plan to use a lot of.  I do like Wonder Under and have had much success with it,  However, I do a lot of symmetrical applique and I want to know my pieces are going to stay put.  So I plan to stick with Steam a Seam for now.

The next step will be to quilt this little table runner and see what happens and how the fusibles differ.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Carpet Quilting Pattern Inspiration

I was at a conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center a while ago and I couldn't resist taking a picture of this carpet.

I love the geometric pattern. It's only squares and circles and would make a great quilting filler pattern.  However, it would be a pain to sew as it's not continuous.  I'd have to figure out a way to modify it and make it easier.

Such fun!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Quilting Snowflake Table Runner

I love to quilt, but I must admit that quilting large quilts is physically challenging.  I am really enjoying quilting the small pieces for my blog.

I decided that what I wanted to go outside my comfort zone (symmetrical) and quilt my Snowflake Table Runner in a "windy" pattern.  Here's my drawing idea:

I liked it so I sat down to quilt.  After stitching around the snowflakes I realized that trying to put those curls in wasn't going to work because my snowflakes were a lot thicker than the original stars I drew.  I guess I need to actually work with the pattern when I'm designing...duh.

So I decided to just go for it.  I did a second outline and then a third and then filled the space with bubbles to match what I'd done in the center of the snowflakes.

I then decided that to contrast all the curves in the quilt I wanted to use straight lines to finish the borders.  If you look at the right corner of the picture above you can see some white lines I drew.  I thought I was going to angle off my lines at the corners.  But as I got there, I wasn't paying attention and stitched too far without thinking about what came next.  oops.  So I stitched one straight line all the way across and that was no fun.  So I decided that I'd do something else,

I started with some clam shells and then outlined them and then decided that the lines should come in towards the middle.  I hated it.  Still do.  And then my bobbin ran out.  It was a sign that I should be done!

So I folded over the ends to see what the table runner would look like if I stopped at that point:

It looks great just as it is!  Done quilting.  Now to bind...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A New Tool for Tearing Away Stabilizer

I usually use an awl for tearing away tight valleys of stabilizer on the back of my quilts.  However, I have no idea where I put my awl so I needed a new one.  Off to my local quilt shop I went.  I didn't find an awl, but I found this:

It's meant to be used to pick out threads that are under the surface of the quilt top and can be seen and need to be removed.  The tip of it is actually the tiniest crochet hook I have ever seen.  HOWEVER, I thought it would work great for reaching into those tiny valley to get the stabilizer out since the tip is so skinny.

I was so right.  It's my new favorite tool for this and it works even better than my awl did.

First, I put the awl through the stabilizer to the point of the valley as shown above.

Then I pulled the tool up ripping the stabilizer.   Sometimes it rips right along the stitching line and sometimes it doesn't.  However, now I can easily pull off those small bits of stabilizer.

Now that I have this wonderful new tool, there's only one thing left to do: find a safe place for it so I won't lose it and have to go buy another one!


Monday, January 4, 2016

Button Inspiration

I was at Jo-Ann's the other day to buy needles and I turned around and there were the beautiful buttons.  I love anything in rainbow colors .  And do you see the dot buttons?  Love them!  And hombre sets of buttons!  Too fun!  

I managed to get out of there only buying two buttons:

This button is totally a quilting pattern!  I love the idea of making flowers like this.  It could even be a filler pattern if you added some leaf design to connect the flowers.

I had to buy this button because I loved the flower design.  


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Word 16 Challenge at Elm Street Quilt's Blog

I was clicking through blogs the other day and I ran into Elm Street Quilt's Word 16 Challenge.  Since I had already blogged about my word, Future, I decided to go for it and make a mini quilt for their challenge.  You can find all the information in the link above.

Here is my little quilt:

The reasons I chose this word are as follows:
1.  The random generator picked it for me :)
2.  With a quilting book coming out these year I am excited about the future.
3.  I am excited about blogging and will continue to do it into the future.

So....if you are inclined check out Elm Street Quilt's challenge and pick a word for yourself.


Appliqueing Snowflake Table Runner

When making this table runner I realized an important lesson.  When you're working with a large snowflake and you pull all the paper backing off your snowflake it's extraordinarily good at sticking to itself and distorting.  It was quite the challenge to get it back into symmetry and stick it to my fabric.  I should've put the original pattern on the light box to help line it up but I was being stubborn.  You can see from the picture below that the center of the snowflake isn't quite symmetrical.  It looks a little squished.  The blanket stitch helped with this, but after messing with it for about 10 minutes I decided that it was either cut a new one and put it on a different way or deal with it.  I opted to deal with it.

To combat this problem I decided to pull off only 2 points of the outer snowflake, stick them down, and then pull and stick as I went to finish putting the snowflake down on the fabric.  This method worked much, much better.

I decided that since the fabric I used for the snowflakes ranged from turquoise to sky blue to lavender I needed to pick a color that wouldn't clash.  Since sky blue was the most predominant I decided to stick with that color.  I used a Glide 40 weight polyester by Fil-Tec to do my double blanket stitch.

In the two pictures above you can see the snowflake with and without the stitching.  I love how the double blanket stitch really adds an extra design element to the applique.  It also makes it look finished to me.

Here is the finished top.  As I was working on the last snowflake I had a funny thing happen.  I was stitching around it and I ran out of bobbin.  I now know that one bobbin of Glide thread can stitch all the way around these snowflakes except for this much:

I hate it when that happens....