Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quilting Designs Without Marking

For today's project I thought I would share a really neat trick for quilting designs without marking. This works just as well for hand quilting as for machine quilting, and I've used it a number of times with great success. This totally avoids the problem of not only marking but removing your marking afterwards, which makes me very happy because sometimes removing the marking is worse than making the marks in the first place.

The main material you need for this is contact paper. For this example I didn't need to mark my contact paper, I just cut out a triangle with my rotary cutter. If you are making a design that needs to be traced you can make a template with template plastic and trace it with a pencil, or trace a design using a light box (or window!)

After making my triangle I simple peeled off the backing paper and stuck my contact paper triangle onto the quilt top where I wanted to quilt my design.

I then quilted around the edge of the triangle using my walking foot. If you are making a curved shape you can do the same thing with your quilting foot. Be careful not to stitch into your template because this can transfer the sticky adhesive to your needle.

After quilting around your shape, simply peel off the sticky template, then reuse it in the next spot. You can use each template 8 - 10 times even on flannel! I hope you enjoy this quilting tip, it's one of my favorites! (And excuse the odd coloring of the last picture, I'm not sure what happened with that one!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Online Quilt Festival!

What a fun idea, and I had a horrible time trying to decide which of my quilts to post! But in the end this one won:

I have the good fortune of working in a quilt shop and getting to make shop samples. 2 years ago my boss told me we were getting in a Judy Neimeyer sample made from Hoffman batiks and I was expected to make it. When I got home I looked it up online, and my jaw dropped! I remember showing it to my husband and saying with awe - I get to make this quilt!

Finally the fabrics and patterns arrived, I set to work cutting out the kits, and took the one that arrived prepackaged home. The pattern came in a box, so I got out the box, read the instructions and got to work pre-cutting pieces. This step was tedious and took some time, but all the while I was thinking about how lovely the fabrics were and how should I quilt this? I know right away what I was going to do in the border, but the rest of the quilt? I pondered as I cut, then started to sew.

The piecing was so much fun. For this quilt you have many different units, but you only have to make 8 of each one. So you never feel like you are making a bazillion blocks, like some quilts. And the fact that all your pieces are pre-cut make it amazingly easy to put together. As each section was added to the quilt, I was more and more inspired by the design to really put some nice quilting into it. I quilt on my Juki TL98E at home, and for this quilt it was the only way I could have tackled it because I ended up working from the center out. Each section was quilted with different threads to match the colors and I did a ton of free motion wiggly lines to fill in the different spikes and blades of the design


The border was a fern and frond type of design inspired by a long arm quilter who lives in my area. I was so excited when I finally got to quilt that part, and then, just like that it was done! I won a blue Ribbon for this quilt in the county fair, then entered it in the local show and got a best of show ribbon for it there. I love this quilt, and would love to make another one of Judy Neimeyer's designs, I think they are marvelous!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How to Make a Custom Label

I was out of ideas for a post for today, so am re-running an older post from last year. This kind of a label is really easy and quick to make and always looks nice. I also like to use preprinted labels that come in a panel, but can't always find one that looks nice on the quilt I am labeling.
Next week I'll work on my post a little earlier and come up with something inspired by one of my current projects!
I thought I would share a nice looking quilt label that doesn't take a lot of time or work to make. All you need is a square of light fabric to write on, 4-6 inches square, a piece of freezer paper to iron on the back of this, and a few 1" strips to frame your border.

Iron the freezer paper to the back of your light fabric. Then write your label. (I like to use an oversized piece because sometimes I make a mistake and this way I can just flip it over and use the other end to write on!). Write your label with a permanent pen. Pigma markers are awesome, but what I really like to use is a gel pen. They come in so many colors and add a custom touch to your label.

What information to put on your label? The name of the quilt. Your name. The name of the person who quilted it, if not yourself. The date. (I usually just use month and year) I like to add my location. If you are sending it out to shows, it is a good idea to put all contact information on the label. If it is a gift, put the recipient's name and occasion. As you can see, there is a great deal that you can put on the label, so you may want to make it a nice large one! Another great tip is to write the measurements of the quilt. That way you don't have to remeasure it beacause you forgot how big it actually is!

After you have finished writing your label, remove the freezer paper and press the label. Trim to a square, I like to trim about 1/2" outside of the writing to make the label as small as possible (less sewing to do!). Add a 1" strip to each side, press seam allowance toward strip, trim even with top and bottom. Then add a 1" strip to the top and the bottom, press seam allowance toward strips and trim even with sides. Press 1/4 inch under all around this sewn block, then pin to back of quilt and applique down.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

How to Make a Strippy Quilt Border

Fell asleep last night after watching Lost, I guess my week caught up with me and I needed the rest! I was working on a project this week, and since I have seen this question come up before, took pictures of the process so I could share it with you. This is a great border on any quilt, I used it on a queen size strip quilt a couple of years ago, and it's a great way to use up your strips. Or, as in this quilt, you can do it as a planned border and create strips to use.

I wanted to make a 6 inch border, so I started out with 9" strips of fabric because I knew I was not going to do strips that were consistent in width, but was going to use strips that were cut in wedges. I wasn't sure how much extra I was going to need to do angled strips, so I wanted to make sure my strips weren't going to be too short. I could have got by with strips about 7 1/2 to 8 inches, but better safe than sorry!

I cut the strips at random, some wider, some narrower, all slightly angled to make a scrappy look to the border.

I used 6 different fabrics, figuring that this would be plenty to make 4 borders for a generous baby quilt, and I had a few strips left at the end, so it worked out about right. I dug through my muslin scraps to find some strips and cut them to 6 1/2 inches wide and about 3 inches longer than needed. I would recommend cutting your foundations to about 1 inch wider than needed to give you room to trim, plus seam allowances. Press a line at the center of your strip so you know where to start your strips.
I toss all of my strips in a large tin and mix them up.

Draw out a strip, place it right side up over the center line:

Draw a second strip, place it right side down on the first strip, lining up the right hand edges. I place the wider edge of the strip close to the edge of the foundation to get the most width out of each strip.

Sew a 1/4 inch seam, flip the second piece right side up and press the seam. I don't pin for these short seams, but if you are sewing a seam that is longer, you will want to pin to ensure that your sewing line is straight and not curved.

Repeat with a third strip.

Then add a fourth. I just use whatever strip I pull out. If I draw the same strip twice in a row, I throw it back and draw again. (I also throw it back if it was the strip before the one I am sewing too, and if I notice I haven't drawn a certain one in the past 8 or 9 will look and find the missing one. I like random, but you have to have a few rules!)

And so on till you get to the end of your foundation

Turn the foundation around and continue adding strips until you get to the end of the other side.

Trim the top edge of your scrappy strip. I folded mine in half, but you may be more accurate by keeping your strip open, and only trimming one layer.

Turn your strip around, and trim the other edge of your strip so that you have a border strip the width you desire plus 1/2 inch for seam allowances - 6 1/2 inches for my project.

Measure and trim your border strip to the desired length to fit your quilt.

Simply repeat these steps to make more border strips. Unfortunately, my photo of the finished project is missing - hopefully I can add it later, but I'm sure you get the idea! It's fun and easy, and a great way to use up scrap fabric.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

How to Use Fusible Web for Applique

I thought this might be an interesting project, it really takes the fuss out of applique work, and is a great way to applique not only on quilts, but on clothing, bags.... I am going to use the pillow I made this week as the lesson. This is an applique project that uses freeform cut shapes, not templates or patterns.

For the pillow I used approximately 20 different fabrics. I cut my fusible web into pieces about 4 x 6 inches (one piece for each fabric) Following the instructions for the fusible web you are using, press the web onto the wrong side of your fabric. I like using Steam a Seam Lite for my fusible, but there are many options available. I recommend using the lightest kind you can find, some of the heavier ones are not good for sewing through.
Cut a piece of background material about 2 inches larger than your finished pillow. I used a 24 inch square and finished with a 22 inch pillow. Fold in half horizontally and vertically to mark the center of your square. From the fabric you want to use in the center, cut a 1" circle. Peel the paper backing off the circle and fuse it to the background. Then cut four small arcs to fit around the circle. I like to round these off as they are rather tricky to stitch around when they are this small. Arrange these around your circle, leaving about a 1/4 inch gap between each piece and the center. Peel the paper off and fuse these down.

Although my example shows several rows of petals cut I would recommend at this point to go to your sewing machine and stitch the fused pieces down. For this project I used orange thread for all the petals and a medium width zigzag with a stitch length of about 18 to the inch, you want an open zigzag, not a satin stitch. If your machine can, turn your presser foot tension down to more easily go around the curves, and pivot at the corners with your needle at the outside of your shape.

Choose 6-7 more fabrics and cut arc pieces that are slightly larger than the first round. Trim the bottom of the arcs to fit around the first layer of arcs, then press this ring down. Continue to add rings of arcs, increasing the size each time, making sure the gab between them remains at about 1/4 inch. Pay attention to the placement of the colors, making sure you have a nice arrangement of color and pattern. Stitching the pieces after you complete each ring helps keep your pieces from loosening up while you turn your piece under the machine.

Have fun and experiment with different shapes for the petals, and different sizes - the fusible web makes it easy and fun to do applique! Next week, I'll take you through finishing your pillow, including putting in a zipper for a nice finish.