Blog Archives

Dumber

than a box of rocks?

P1140140

Nah. I am, however, quitting before I get any further behind vis-à-vis using Lite Steam-a-Seam 2. This is a double-stick fusible web. The best feature is that you can position your applique shapes until you are happy with the placement and then press it all down. My battle with this product started in 2016 with this self-portrait. Notice all of the small applique flowers, dots and swirls. Guess how many times I had to stop to clean the goo from my needle!

Self-Portrait/Sugar Skull, quilted/embellished

Self-Portrait/Sugar Skull, quilted/embellished

This weekend I decided to give this product one more try. I cut out some circles, placed them on background fabric, covered with a WET pressing cloth and pressed from both sides until dry. Then I pressed some more. I let the shapes cool overnight; the edges were glued down. This morning I stitched around one-quarter of the small circle before I noticed goo on the needle.

P1140293

I finished the circle, cleaned the needle, and went back to the ironing board. I thoroughly wet my pressing cloth and turned the iron to the highest setting. The fabric ran even more, the background scorched, and the needle still gummed up. My job here is done.

P1140294
P1140296

That is my sad story for today. Next post, I’ll be talking scissors and sharp objects in the studio. Till next time–

Starch Story

When working on applique projects, it can sometimes be helpful to starch your fabric, either starching an entire piece of fabric or the edges of a shape you wish to turn under. It used to be that we were told to always wash out that starch but sometimes this is not practical. I wrote to Faultless and asked about this. My preferred starch, for clothing and projects, is Faultless Premium Starch. Here is the reply I received from Renee. Use your own discretion.

Some of our Faultless ironing aids [the Heavy, Lavender, and Lemon scents, etc…] do contain natural corn starch. Corn starch may be a preferred food source for silverfish and other pests.  Some critters might make a meal of almost ANYthing, but ironing aids formulated without natural starch are especially suited for items you want to “starch and store.”

Here are some ironing aids we manufacture that do NOT contain natural corn starch:

Faultless® Premium Starch

Magic® Premium Starch

Magic® Sizing

Faultless® MAXX Starch

 

The Grandmother’s Flower Garden Project

I have now finished appliqueing The Grandmother’s Flower Garden to the background.  I was writing a blog on The Quilt Show when I was putting this miniature together.  For all intents and purposes, those blogs are gone forever.  I now save my blogs to ensure against loss.  Anyway, I’ll back up just a little to show how to put a hexie flower together, no matter what the size.  I start by adding three petals to the center.

Sewing Hexies

Sewing Hexies

Sewing hexies

Sewing hexies

After this, you can fill in the last three hexies by starting on the outside edge and sewing the three sides without breaking your thread.

Sewing hexies

Sewing hexies

Sewing hexies

Sewing hexies

Sewing hexies

Sewing hexies

After adding two more petals in this manner, you will now have a completed hexie flower.  Sweet.

Finished hexie flower

Finished hexie flower

When I started this project, I used cotton thread–don’t ask me why because using silk thread hides the stitches so much better, which is what I used to applique this project to the background.  I decided to practice quilting on just one flower.  I just stitched around the center hexie using the edge of my open toed applique foot (Janome F2) and 2.2 stitch length.  This is what I’ll do to quilt this project, after layering with a thin batting like Thermolam.

Hexies

Hexies

On my sample piece, I marked some lines with a Frixion pen (marks will disappear with a hot iron) and then just echo-stitched around the entire piece.  After finishing the edges, this can be a mug rug.

Quilting hexie flower

Quilting hexie flower

Hexie flower quilting

Hexie flower quilting

This week I will layer this project and start quilting.  It’s a great feeling to near the end of another UFO.

Finished applique

Finished applique

Tomorrow I’m going to run away and take some pictures of the Jamie Wyeth exhibit at Crystal Bridges.  That and the Andy Warhol Nature Exhibit will be closing October 5.  In the meantime, Hwy 71 is Thunder Road for the next day or so with the end of Bikes Blues and BBQ in Fayetteville.  The count was 400,000 last I heard — some mighty cool bikes and riders out and about.  Safe journeys home, all.

The Orange Leaf Project Finale

The Orange Leaf Project is finished. I worked on little else over the last few weeks. When I finally made enough leaves, I started appliquéing the middle and bottom portions down by hand. If you have been following this project, you know that I was having a lot of trouble in the beginning because my orange fabrics were not playing well together – I hated the whole thing. Then my new color wheel arrived and I decided to just start over. I managed to find the gradated background piece we are all using and clear orange fabrics. I also decided to stitch the appliqué by hand, because everything previously looked so flat. Then I started adding embroidery stitches. Next I decided another problem I had with my slice was the dark green background I had pieced. We were all to use dark green on the bottom but I switched mine out to a green/orange background and immediately liked it much better. I will probably need to add some dark green leaves for cohesiveness of design. Before finishing the bottom portion, I auditioned a dark orange fabric behind some of the leaves, but it just wasn’t working out. Luckily I had photographed my final placement because after removing all the leaves, I forgot how I had planned it out. After that, I just pinned all the leaves on instead of constantly repositioning and repining — they didn’t get in the way too much.

Background Audition

Background Audition

Since I still needed to fill in some spaces, I decided to add some circles. I’ll do a future post with the embroidery stitches I used for this project.

Embroidery Details

Embroidery Details

I forgot to take a separate photo of the flying geese leaf but you can see it in the above photo. Here is my finished slice.

FINALLY FINISHED

FINALLY FINISHED

Last Friday my group sewed all the slices together. I have traced the black wrought iron pieces and will have them cut out before our October meeting.   We have a small wrought iron committee—we will press under the edges and someone can sew them on over the seam lines. I’ll get back to you when that part is finished.

Wrought Iron

Wrought Iron

As you can see I made a reminder to leave a seam allowance–I started cutting on the line and will need to retrace one piece.  We are using a dark grunge fabric.  Okay, priority one for today is to reset my camera so everything is not over-exposed.

About Group Projects: And what did I learn from this group project you may ask. I am pretty much done with group projects. They stress me out and this one really took a great deal of my time (nine months). I already have a slew of unfinished projects that I would like to get done. I enjoy designing quilts and not always following the rules. I hate working under a deadline. So time to do my own thing unless it’s a call to action and a group of us spend one or two workdays on a charity quilt. There’s one coming up in October–so far it’s a mystery. My family is happy with my decision. Here is the note to self next to the computer (thanks George H.W. and Dana Carvey):

Don’t do it

Wouldn’t be prudent

Wouldn’t be wise

Not at this juncture.

Coming Soon: The 8-1/2×11 Challenge (finished), Embellishing with Embroidery, Three Ways to Hang Small Wallhangings, Thread and Needle Tips, FMQ Tips, and The Miniature Hexie Project (not necessarily in that order).

The Orange Leaf Project Finale

The Orange Leaf Project is finished. I worked on little else over the last few weeks. When I finally made enough leaves, I started appliquéing the middle and bottom portions down by hand. If you have been following this project, you know that I was having a lot of trouble the first weeks (months?) because my orange fabrics were not playing well together – I hated the whole thing. Then my new color wheel arrived and I decided to just start over. I managed to find the gradated background piece we are all using. I also decided to continue stitching the appliqué by hand, because everything previously looked so flat. Next I decided another problem I had with my slice was the dark green background I had pieced. We were all to use dark green but I switched mine out to a green/orange background and immediately liked it much better.

Here is my curved flying geese leaf.  I drew the design on lightweight woven interfacing and precut rectangles for the geese and light background strips.

Mini Flying Geese Strips

Mini Flying Geese Strips

Mini Curved Flying Geese

Mini Curved Flying Geese

Mini Flying Geese oops

Mini Flying Geese oops

Oops–something is wrong here–rip and redo!  I forgot to take a photo of the finished leaf but you’ll see it in one of the final project photos.

Before finishing the bottom portion, I auditioned a dark orange fabric behind some of the leaves, but it just wasn’t working out.  Rip and redo!

Background Audition

Background Audition

Luckily I had photographed my final placement because I had several days doing other things and I forgot how I had planned it out. After that, I just pinned all the leaves on instead of constantly repositioning and repinning. Since I still needed to fill in some spaces, I decided to add some circles and more embroidery.

Elephant Ear oops

Elephant Ear oops

I had planned to stich the elephant ear leaf inside the bound edge by machine but didn’t allow enough seam allowance so stitched this one down by hand too.

Orange Slice, Bottom

Orange Slice, Bottom

Embroidery Details

Embroidery Details

FINALLY FINISHED

FINALLY FINISHED

I apologize for the photography.  My settings are off from the last time I photographed at night.

This Friday my group will be putting all the slices together. I’ll get back to you when that part is finished. And what did I learn from this group project? I am pretty much done with group projects. I already have a slew of unfinished projects that I would like to get done. I enjoy designing quilts and not always following the rules. I hate working under a deadline. So time to do my own thing unless it’s a call to action and a group of us spend one or two workdays on a charity quilt. My family is happy with my decision. Here is the note to self next to the computer (thanks George H.W. and Dana Carvey):

Don’t do it

Wouldn’t be prudent

Wouldn’t be wise

Not at this juncture.

Coming Soon: The 8-1/2×11 Challenge, Printing Labels, Surface Embellishing with Embroidery, Two Ways to Hang Wallhangings, Thread and Needle Tips, FMQ Tips, and The Miniature Hexie Project.

Group quilt

Update on the group quilt (my orange slice).  Here is the finished elephant ear leaf.  Our long armer will have no problem with the edges not being stitched down.

Leaf with binding

Leaf with binding

Finished Elephant Ear

Finished Elephant Ear

I have been working on making larger leaves for the bottom area. I sewed some ¾-inch strips together and added 3-inch borders. This way, when I cut out my leaf shape, I will have an easier time turning under the edges, rather than dealing with the pieced section.

Strippy Block

Strippy Block

Next I pieced a half-log cabin. This turned out to be a neat block that I can use in the future with all my strips and strings. Start with a square (1-3/4 inch) and add matching strips to two sides only (instead of the traditional four). I alternated dark and light strips (1-1/4 inch) and then added 3-inch borders.  I used an ombre fabric in both cases, which adds some interest.

Half-Log Cabin Block

Half-Log Cabin Block

For a third leaf, I used Texture Magic, which is a woven fabric that will shrink with steam. This product is from Superior Threads. http://www.superiorthreads.com/shop/category/texture-magic/texture-magic-1/description/

I marked two diagonal lines through the center of my fabric and placed it right side up on the Texture Magic (I did not need to pin this, but you might need to). I stitched on these lines and then once on either side of the diagonal lines using my walking foot as a guide. After that I just stitched out to each corner—after you finish each corner, you can go to the next section without breaking your thread. You can also use free motion quilting to hold the layers together and add batting if you want to. Now to make the magic happen, just steam the entire piece with the Texture Magic right side up. The piece can shrink as much as 30 percent. During the week, I don’t have enough power to make this happen. The product still shrank and has texture so I can still use it as is. I will try again on the weekend during peak electricity hours.

Texture Magic

Texture Magic

Texture Magic Detail

Texture Magic Detail

Be sure to read the directions carefully before starting. The product comes folded in a package and you will have the urge to iron those creases out—this has the potential to ruin your day and make you very unhappy. You will be cryin’…

I have put my slice up on the design wall again and am just using a drop of glue to hold things in place while I smooth out edges, finish hand sewing and decide on placement.  I’m at the point where I need to step back, clean up my mess and then come back to this next week.  Till next time, I hope all of your projects are successful and fun.

Orange Slice

Orange Slice

Orange Slice

Orange Slice

P.S.  I often give you links for products, but you can try your local quilt shop for products, the big box stores and other online sources–you know where to go.

Applique Adventures

When you’ve been away from a project for more than a week, you tend to lose your place.  Finding nothing on the ironing board, I searched the studio and remembered I had decided to hand applique some wool to the first set of leaves, which looked too flat and boring.  I had already removed one leaf, which was glued down to the background, to make a longer stem to run into the seam line.  As I previously showed, I used small dots of Roxanne’s-Glue-Baste-It! and it peeled right up.  This is all part of a group project.  My panel is in shades of orange.  I was in a bit of a hurry when I hand appliqued the wool pieces down – my nose was running non-stop. I had thought of stuffing cotton up my nares and mouth breathing but opted for abandoning the project for the day.  My hiatus lasted eight days.  I’m not any too pleased with my handiwork upon closer inspection and proceed on leaf #3 using two strands of floss instead of three and making my stitches closer together.  This lies much flatter so now I’ll rip out the first two leaves, trim the edges and restitch.  This has given a little bit of dimension to this set of leaves.

P1010349

Now my wool highlights are stitched in place with floss using the blanket stitch.  I will have to glue down the points – the wool was not felted tightly enough for my taste so there was a little fuzzing going on.

On to the next section.  I had most of these leaves done already and have two more to go.  I am not happy with the reverse applique leaf.  I had to cover up my botched dots with Art Glitter, the glitter doesn’t blend well with the Frost fabric underneath and there is not enough contrast with the adjoining leaves.  Definite do-over.  After these are finished, I will glue baste the leaves down for machine stitching.  I am going to save this for Friday when our group will meet for a work session so I don’t need to haul my machine.  I did at least put a long pin in the glue nozzle before quitting the other day but did not follow the rest of my usual routine.  This is what works for me:

TIPS for using Roxanne’s-Glue-Baste-It!

1. While working steadily, lay the bottle on its side.

2. If you take a break, put a long pin in the nozzle.

3. Done for the day? Remove the nozzle, recap the glue bottle, rinse nozzle in hot water and soak overnight in a small container.

4. Your nozzle will be clean and ready for use the next day.

Back to the long leaf with reverse applique.  I am proceeding along smoothly until I reach the curved end.  I have not left enough background fabric underneath to round the curve.  I rip it all out, thinking I can salvage the pieces but decide to change fabrics and start over.  This time the stitching goes considerably faster–my wavy piece is rather organic but we are talking nature here so I’m happy.  Trim the back, turn under the edges.  Here is my technique for turning under the outside edges.  I use my small triangular craft iron (the Clover one that comes with all kinds of tips now).  I only clip when necessary–when a convex curve (innie) won’t curve and a concave curve (outie) starts to fold or pleat.  Every clip is a potential point in the outer edge.  Be careful to only clip within a couple stitches of the fold.  When rounding a small curve, you will need to notch-clip and trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk.  I will be gluing or pre-stitching the sharp points before actually placing the leaves on the background.  This way I can glue-baste the leaves down instead of pinning and worrying about manipulating points as I stitch.  I have two more leaves in this section to finish preparing before Friday.  I may or may not start working on the lower, larger leaves.  My leaf shapes will need to be modified as the inner notches and outer points are really difficult to applique.  At least I have a lot of these shapes already drawn.

P1010352P1010355

 P1010357P1010359

I like to use #100 silk thread with a #11 milliner’s needle for hand applique.  The stitches disappear.  The problem with this thread is that your needle tends to come unthreaded, even if you tie the end into a double knot.  Here is Liuxin Newman’s trick.  I was able to do this with Cicirino, which I now notice is cotton, but not my YLI last week.  All 100-weights are not equal.  Hold the long thread tail between you thumb and index finger and pierce the needle through the thread about every quarter-inch for at least five stitches.  Slide these loops off the needle and smooth out the thread.  This takes some practice–I actually do it by feel rather than sight.

P1010354

I have been able to work for two half-days in a row, finally making some real progress.  I was even able to restart my latest pair of fingerless gloves last night.  I had started these a couple weeks ago and got bogged down with a new technique, relying on my faulty memory.  Here is a technique I believe I wrote down from the knitting show on PBS. It helps to make a tighter join.  I am doing one final test on the pattern.  The stripe is interesting in the 3×3 ribbing.  The fur yarn is purled to put maximum hair on the outside and I have just started the cable area in my favorite color.

P1010360

HOW TO JOIN THE CAST-ON WHILE WORKING IN THE ROUND

1, Cast on required number of stitches, adding an extra stitch.

2. Slip the first stitch to the needle on the right.

3. Pass the last stitch cast on over the slipped stitch.

4. Give the yarn a tug, adjust the number of stitches on each needle and begin knitting.

That’s it for today.  Just remember, a bad day of quilting is still better than a good day in an office.  Happy stitching.