Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blocked Quilt Squared and Hanging. . .

My blocked quilt is dry, squared and hanging on the wall.

The quilt center is lying flat, without the ruffles is had prior to blocking.  Can you tell the difference from yesterday's photo?

And the flipped up corner is flat now as well.  Now the viewer will notice my quilt's design and work, and not be distracted by its ripples.

Until next time,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Finishes - Blocking a Quilt. . .

You've completed your quilt and want to hang it on the wall.  But it doesn't lie flat.  Can you make it lie flat and, if so, how do you do it?  This week's Friday Finishes will answer those questions.
I completed this quilt quite a while ago and pulled it out to put it up for sale.  I was surprised at how wonky it was.
This corner doesn't lie flat.
Nor does the quilt's center lie flat.  It needed to be blocked so it would be flat and square when it hung on the wall.  Not sure of what a blocked quilt is?  A blocked quilt has square corners and lies completely flat. This is accomplished by wetting the quilt.  Because fabric has a memory, when the fabric dries into a particular shape, generally a square of rectangle, it will stay that way when it hangs.  This blocking technique entails wetting the quilt, either with steam or in its entirety by dunking in water, pinning it into the shape you're looking for, and letting it dry completely.  If a quilt is slightly out-of-square, a heavy steaming can be enough to work it into the shape desired.  This quilt requires a lot of shaping to square it so I will wet it completely.
I begin by getting out my supplies.  This is a 4" x 8" insulation board that is cut in half and hinged with duct tape.  The quilt will be pinned to this and allowed to dry.
Here is a sewing square, T-pins, and a tape measure.  With supplies in hand it's time to begin the process.
This process requires the quilt to be completely wet.  When wet, I laid the quilt on a towel and rolled it up.
I roll it a couple of times until all excess water in the quilt is gone and the quilt is damp.
The quilt is laid on the insulation board.  I lay the sewer's square against one corner to begin squaring the quilt.  As the quilt's edge is laid against the square, T-pins are placed on the edges to hold the quilt in place.
This photo shows how the quilt's edge is not naturally laying against the square.  
The edge is pushed up against the square and pinned in place with the T-pins.
With three corners squared and pinned, this upper corner is off by 1".  The bottom quilt's width is 36" and the upper width is 35".
The quilt is now squared and pinned all away around.  It now needs to completely dry before it is removed from the insulation board.
To assist in the drying, I propped the board against the wall and pointed a fan on it.  I will let it dry for 24 hours before unpinning the quilt and removing it from the insulation board.

For a quilt to be taken seriously as art, I feel it is important that it hang as beautifully as it looks.  This method for blocking quilts has given me satisfactory results for many years.  Do you block your quilts?  If so, please share with me any other tips or techniques you are happy with.  

Happy Friday,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weight-Free Quilting Solution. . .

A little over a week ago, I was asked to quilt this new Bigfork Bay Cotton Company Pat Sloan quilt for Spring Market. 
Although I own a longarm quilting machine, I don't use it enough to have the control for the raw edge stitching needed for this quilt.  Therefore, I was required to quilt it on my sewing machine.  As anyone who quilts on their sewing machine knows, on a quilt of this size (62"x68"), more time is spent maneuvering the fabric than stitching.  But via a good friend, a solution to that problem came to me:  a frame to support the quilt's weight.
The instructions to build this frame are shared by Chris' Quilting Space.  Her instructions are for a frame clamped to the back of a table.  I was able to improvise because I have a quilt exhibition frame that was adapted to work.
The exciting thing about this contraption is that it works!  With the weight of the quilt off the table, the amount of fabric I had to move around was limited to just what was being stitched.  The quilting itself was a joy to do and the time it took to quilt was cut dramatically.   Quilting on my sewing machine has never been easier.  I am looking forward to putting the frame to use again in the very near future.

Until next time,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Finishes - Finished Applique Edges - Part 3, Turn Under. . .

In previously posts I had discussed finished applique edge techniques for raw edge applique and a satin stitch finish.   In conclusion, I will describe the technique used for turn under applique edges for my abstract art quilts as used for this quilt.

My abstract quilt design has been traced to Pellon's Shir-Tailor 950F fusible interfacing.  The interfacing is thick enough to use as a template to turn the seam allowance for my applique under and press it.  And this is exactly why I LOVE this product as my base.  It makes the prep for this technique so easy.

Now that the seam allowance is pressed under, I lay that applique piece onto the fabric piece that is going to lie under it.  As it lies flat, there is no need to press the seam allowance under.
I select a buttonhole stitch on my sewing machine.  On my Janome, the stitch selection is Mode 2, #38, 1.5, 3.0.  I have used black thread here for demonstration purposes but generally use monofilament thread as my choice.
And there you have it.  I continue to build one piece onto another, always pressing the seam allowance of the applique piece to go on top under.  Of the three applique finishes demonstrated, this is the quickest.  Sort of interesting that this is true.   When you throw the word "abstract" into the mix, there is an expectation that the method may be difficult.  But for me, it is the easiest to stitch.

Hope you were able to take away some new tidbit from these applique edge postings.  Please feel free to contact me if you need any clarification.  I am ALWAYS glad to know if more description is needed.

Happy Friday,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Friday Finishes - End of Busy Week!

I had scheduled to complete my applique finished edges today.  However, it is midnight and I'm just getting settled down.  I'm too tired to write instructions but wanted to say "Hi" and let you know I hadn't forgotten.  I'm busy in my life right now beginning a new business venture and I decided to give you a sneak peek into what I'm up to.
As I mentioned previously, I am in the process of developing patterns and will self-publish.  My motivation to finally do what I've considered doing for some time is that I am also opening both an internet and physical quilt shop, and am developing the patterns to sell with kits.  (Of course I had to do everything at once :))  This tree is painted on the entrance wall.  It's still not quite finished but thought I'd share anyways.  I'm working towards opening at the end of this month.  That's the reason my blog writing has been spotty and will continue to be for the next few weeks.  Please keep watching and I'll try to update you on progress.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rooster Applique Background I. . .

With my Rooster applique pieces ready to sew, I need to make the background.  I am going to make two different backgrounds (I have two Roosters ready to go).  This first background is traditionally pieced with a background and two borders.
For this background version I needed these two additional applique pieces for grass.  They were traced onto Shir-tailor interfacing, pressed onto the fabric, and cut out.
I then cut my background.
My inner border is cut at 3/4" to finish at 1/4".  This 1/4" inner border is a signature look to my applique designs.  The side borders are cut to size and sewn on.
This grass piece is placed on the background and pinned.  It will be sewn into the bottom border.  I then sewed the bottom border on, making sure to keep the grass piece out of the way.  The top border is also sewn on.  All border seams are pressed toward the borders.
The outer borders at cut 3" wide, cut to size of the sides, and sewn on.
The top and bottom outer borders are then cut to size and sewn on.
The background is now ready to sew the Rooster on.
I decided I didn't like the original fabric choice for my grass.  So here is my replacement.  Changing my mind is something I often do when designing.  I often can't really see what I want until it's concrete and in fabric.  Next time I will make my alternate background.  Any guess as to what that might look like?

Until next time,

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Finishes - Will Continue Next Week. . .

I'm so sorry but am having trouble with my internet server and am unable to download photos.  I will complete my "Applique Edges" series next week.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dimensional Rooster Tail How To. . .

Continuing with my Rooster pattern, here are the instructions on how to make the dimensional tail and wing feathers.  Before I go over that, however, I was asked about the difference between fusible interfacing and fusible web.  I often get this question from students because I do use both products.  So I decided to go over it, hopefully well enough to understand.
Fusible interfacing is a nonwoven fabric with adhesive applied to one side that glues it to the fabric when pressed with a hot iron.  It is generally used in shirt collars or other garments where fabric needs more body and some stiffness added to it.
Fusible web is a sheet of glue that is used to fuse fabric to fabric.  There are several brands on the market and I have found that they all have their uses for various styles of quilting.  It is usually backed with paper, although there a few without paper.  The paper allows a pattern to be drawn on it so an applique shape can be cut out when pressed to fabric.  This photo is a heavier fusible web, is paper backed, and a full sheet of glue.
This fusible web also comes with a paper backing but is more of a web of glue rather than a sheet.  It is a lightweight fusible web.
Here is a piece of fabric with fusible web applied to the backside.  Notice the difference between the left side which is the right side of the fabric and the right side which is the backside with fusible web.  To make the Rooster tail and wing feathers, I use both fusible web and fusible interfacing.  They are combined together to add stability for the stitching and thickness needed for the feathers to be dimensional.  
I begin by cutting two pieces of the same fabric, one piece of fusible web and fusible interfacing all the same size of 3"x6."
Turning one piece of fabric wrong side up, place the fusible web on the fabric.
Place the fusible interfacing with the fusible side up.
Place the other fabric piece, right side up, on the stack.  Press with no steam for approximately 5 seconds.
The tail feather pattern now needs to be traced onto the prepared fabric.  To do that, I prepare the pattern piece by gluing the pattern piece that is rough cut onto a file folder (sorry my pattern is a bit messy:)).  
Cut the pattern piece out on the line.
Place the pattern piece on the fabric and trace with a fine tip marker.  I used a Pigma pen.
The tail feather will be outlined with satin stitching that will be done before the tail is cut out of the fabric.
Using my free-motion foot, I free-motion satin stitched around the pattern lines, taking the outside of the stitch outside of the pen to cover it up.  The stitch width is 3.0.
With the stitching complete, cut the feathers out getting as close as possible to the stitching without cutting the threads.  If you do happen to clip a thread, don't panic.  Just use a little Fray Check to stop any possible unraveling.
And here you have a two-sided tail feather.  When it is sewn to the Rooster, it will only be sewn down at the tail tip, leaving the remaining feather loose.

Until next time,