Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Finishes - Finishing the Edges on "Ladybug" Tablerunner. . .

"Ladybug" tablerunner is put together and ready to stitch the raw edges.  The pattern calls for buttonhole stitching the edges, but because I like the graphic look of the smooth edges, I am going to free-motion straight stitch the edges and quilt at the same time.
The outside borders are going to be added after the stitching is done.  This will allow the seam to also be a quilted line, keeping the quilting evenly distributed within the tablerunner.  I am not going to do any other quilting in the outside border.  Because the borders are going to be added after the quilting, the batting and backing are cut large enough to accommodate them. 
A busy floral fabric is chosen for the backing and a blendable cream thread for the bobbin.  This blends the stitching and any tension problems that may arise because of changing the top thread colors.
My preferred method of basting the quilt is spray baste.  I LOVE spray baste.  Spray baste keeps the quilt layers smooth and together.  The layers are laid out together before sprayed.
The batting and quilt top are pulled back to the halfway point and the back sprayed.
The batting is placed over the sprayed back and smoothed out.  The quilt top is left folded over at the halfway mark.  The batting is sprayed and the top laid over the batting and smoothed out.  The quilt is ready to be quilted.
Now it's time to get the sewing machine ready.  I drop my feed dogs, put on my free-motion foot, and place my slider on the sewing machine table.  The machine is now set up and ready to go, too.
For this quilt, quilting begins by stitching the red border in the ditch.  I pull up the bobbin thread prior to stitching and then begin.
I stitch all applique pieces that use the same color thread before changing to the next thread color.  This cuts down on time lost to thread changing.  Always try to stitch pushing the fabric away from you and the stitching behind the foot.  It is easier to have good stitching control in this manner.  Although it is easiest to stitch this way, it's not always possible to keep the quilt moving in this manner, especially when stitching circles/ovals.
Controlling the weight of the quilt keeps the stitching moving the smoothest.  Here I have folded the quilt in front of me to keep the weight off my lap and on the table.
Free-motion quilting the applique as I have done allows all stitching to be done within two hours, much faster than if I buttonhole stitched or quilted with a straight stitch with my feed dogs up.  If you are interested in quilting your own work, I urge you to get past any trepidation you may have in trying free-motion quilting and practice, practice, practice.  Remember, we all have to start at the beginning.  I had to practice, practice, practice to get to where my skill is today.
This is the backside of the tablerunner with quilting complete.  See how the stitching blends in with the busy fabric design?  Consider a busy fabric print for all of your quilt backings, especially if you are just beginning free-motion quilting.  It will hide many of what you will consider your imperfections.  If you want the quilt stitching design to show then I would use a solid or tone-on-tone fabric.

The outer borders and bindings will be added next time.

Happy Friday,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Making of "Ladybug" Tablerunner. . .

My friend's birthday is coming up and I decided to make her a tablerunner.  I had actually decided to make it for her a while ago when I saw an applique pattern that I instantly knew would go with her kitchen decor.  I decided to share photos of the progression of the steps and techniques I use to make this quilt.  The pattern is "Ladybug" by Jeri Kelly, very cute.
As it is a tablerunner, the pattern begins with a background (there is no piecing other than borders).  I traced the applique onto fusible web with a pencil and then pressed the fusible web onto the fabric.  I prefer pencil for tracing although I will admit that when pressing the iron's heat can cause the lead to melt.  I often use a pressing cloth to press the pencil off when it builds up.  The applique pieces were then cut out.  And now the fun begins:  layout.
Begin with the background pieces first.  This pattern requires you to view the pattern photo for placement of applique.  The pattern is identically two-sided.  Photos will be of one side.
If an applique piece is large, I recommend cutting the fusible web away from all but approximately 1/4" around the edge.  This accomplishes two things when appliqueing many layers:  1) keeps the area from becoming overly stiff; and, 2) assists in keeping stitches from skipping when quilting.
I layered the flower centers before placing on blue flower.
Small items are cut out as they are needed to keep them from getting lost.
Here is the final layout pressed.  The first border has been added.  Cute and colorful, isn't it?  Stitching/quilting is next.  Stay tuned.

Until next time,

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Finishes - And I'm Too Tired to Think. . .

It's coming to the end of my first week of opening my quilt shop, and, as I've often heard about owning a quilt shop, I'm finding it difficult to be creative.  I can't put my thoughts together enough to decide on something to write.  So, instead, I'll just share photos taken as Spring was ending and Summer begins.  May you be inspired to create something.  Enjoy!

Happy Friday,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My New Adventure Begins. . .

Yesterday my new quilt shop opened.  I'm soooo excited (and a little scared)!!  It opened quietly with the help and support of my wonderful friends and dear husband.  The shop is based on classes, and product that supports the classes will be available online (eventually.  Working hard at making it happen soon!)  Please visit my other site at Bigfork Quilts, Etc. to watch what's happening in the classes and shop.  My Quilt Whimsy site will stay dedicated to my art quilt and pattern design work.

Until next time,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Finishes - Bias Edge Treatment for Setting Triangles. . .

Happily, Circles and Squares' design is done, the piecing complete, and it's ready for quilting.  Once the Drunkard's Path blocks were pieced, the remainder of the center column fell together.  

As I began to piece the columns together, I noticed the setting triangles were rippled.  Of course, this is because they began as squares that were cut diagonally leaving the biased edge exposed on the outside column edge.  Bias edges are stretchy, hence rippled edges.  Just by sewing and handling the fabric, stretch occurs.  In a perfect world, the outer edges of setting triangles should be on the straight of grain which these could be if they were quarter-square triangles.  As the designer, I decided against quarter-squares triangles due to fabric requirements:  13 1/4" squares for half-square triangles or an 18" square for quarter-square triangles.  A measurable difference when considering that only one or two triangles are required for this project.  So how do I protect the edges from stretching any further?  By basting the edges around the entire column.  The basting will stabilize the raw edges.
I set my machine straight stitch to 4.5.
I want to baste about 1/8" outside of my black point.  At 1/8", the basting will be hidden by the 1/4" seam allowance (hopefully).  However, as I didn't want to mark the 1/8", I found a place on the outside of my presser foot that would accomplish same.
The basting is complete and I now need to trim the column to create a 1/4" inch seam allowance.

The 1/4" ruler mark is placed on the black point of the side of the on-point square and lined up with the next black point and then trimmed, continuing to trim until the whole column is done.
With the basting and trimming complete, the columns can now be joined together.
While the majority of the basting stitches will be hidden beneath the seam, if any are showing (like these) I will rip them out, very easy to do with such a large stitch.

If using bias edges, consider stabilizing the bias BEFORE you cut and create them with starch or pre-basting on either side of the cutting line through the center of the square. 

Happy Friday,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drunkard's Path Block Used for Background. . .

Here is another quilt I designed a few years ago using the Drunkard's Path block that I pulled down from the shelf to put on my Etsy site.  I was given six fabrics and challenged to make a quilt.  The colors inspired me to think of a sunset, hence the Drunkard's Path blocks. 
Because I wanted the blocks to be asymmetrical, each block is individually drafted.  They provide the "sunset" background for my tree.  This was the first (and only) time I had made a Drunkard's Path block until my current project.
I am especially pleased with the applique stitching.  I satin-stitched around the tree and then highlighted the stitching by quilting with a triple stitch.  

Circular blocks add movement to our otherwise square quilts.  What can your imagination do with a Drunkard's Path block?  

Until next time,