Saturday, December 31, 2011

December: The Month of Applique

 I am still chugging away at Block 21 - aka Killer Applique.  I am half way done and on track to finish by next Friday when we will start Curves in the Skill Builder Sampler.  I feel much more confident teaching curves then applique.  Yea! to a New Year and new Skill Builder topic.  :)

 I have also been working on these blocks this month for the 4x5 Modern Bee.  
 I decided because I was going to spend a lot of time on the plane flying to Abu Dhabi that I would do a handwork heavy block.
 Even with over 48 hours of total travel time, I still had tons to do when I got back. 
 Thankfully they take much less thought and skill than the "Killer Block".
The sides of the hexagons are 3/4 inch.  I English paper pieced the hexagons together and then appliqued them onto the background.
I used a lot of 5 inch charm squares that I had gotten in swaps this year in each 12.5 inch block.
 I have found that having a well stocked supply of multicolored "scraps" very handy in swaps.
 And here they are all together.
Enjoy!  Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

21 - Rose and Tulip Cross - or applique pattern of choice

Well, Christmas in in full swing around here.  I have made plates of cookies for neighbors and friends, helped an elderly woman clean her house and bought presents.  But...I have not wrapped any presents or finished my applique block for this week.  This is as far as I have gotten.  Yeah, not great...but here we go anyway...

When thinking about what I wanted to do for this week's block, I determined that I wanted us to practice the skills of appliqueing in-y and out-y points.  Out-y points being like the bottom point of a heart and in-y points being the middle point between the two top lobes of the heart.  (I am sure there is a real name for these kind of points, but I am going to stick with in-y and out-y.)  I probably should have just stuck with a simple flower (in-y) with a stem and leaf (out-y) but then I found this series of free applique patterns.  I especially liked the patterns in the Applique Sampler section and the Rose and Tulip Cross pattern made my final cut.


Edited (5/15):  The Skill Builder Sampler will is available for purchase in book form!  It has been renamed "You Can Quilt!  Building Skills for Beginners" but covers the same skills with the easy, medium and challenging blocks and is a million times better than the original quilt along.  It is perfect for the beginning quilter or the experienced quilter who wants to branch out and learn new skills.  Find more information and order a signed copy in my Etsy shop or order on Amazon

I do not expect everyone to make this exact block.  Everyone has different taste in applique patterns and I would hate for you to spend hours stitching something you hated.  Feel free to choose any of the patterns on Free Quilt Patterns site, make your own pattern or simply applique a couple of hearts to your background fabric.  The one thing I want all of the Block 21s to have in common are in-y and out-y points.  Last week's block should have given you a taste of the different types of applique.  This week you many use your favorite applique method: needle turn, freezer paper, cheater needle turn or raw edge applique.  You many machine or hand stitch the fabric onto the background fabric.
The first step for this week's block is to cut a piece of background fabric at least 13.5 inches square.  Then mark the center and diagonal lines as shown below.  This will help you center your image.  You can either mark the lines with a marking pen/pencil or by ironing them in.

Then choose your design (or draw it) and print it out.  Transfer the design to the top of the background fabric.  You can use transfer paper, a light box or the tried and true tape-it-onto-the-window method.

I taped the pattern section to the window - this only works when it is light outside, so don't put it off until the kids are in bed like I did one night.  :)

I thought I would save myself the hassle of taping my fabric on top of the pattern by having my daughter hold the fabric for me -- Don't.  She moved and my lines got off.  Take the extra time to line up your center marking lines with the lines on the pattern and tape the fabric firmly in place.  Trace the pattern with a fabric marker.  Repeat for all four quadrants.


Using your applique method of choice start adding the applique elements.  Look to see which pieces should be added first.  For example in this pattern I am starting with the stems because I can tuck their ends under the flowers.

Here is a great video that shows how to do in-y and out-y points with needle turn applique.  The same trimming, clipping and folding techniques for points can be applied to all types of applique.  It also shows a method for transferring your pattern using chalk paper at the end.

When you are done appliqueing on all of the elements, remove any marking lines with water and trim the block to 12.5 inches.

I hope this is clear enough to get you started.  I am no expert, so feel free to share any links to applique instructions that you have found helpful.  I think the key to making this block is just jumping in feet first.  Don't worry too much, just do your best.  My block will not be winning any contests, but I am having fun so far.  So pick out a pattern, get your pieces prepped and start stitching away while you watch The Christmas Story.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Block 20 - Circles

From The Purl Bee
Two weeks ago in the Skill Builder Sampler we worked with raw edge applique where the edge of the fabric shows.  This week we will start on regular applique - that is applique where the edge of the fabric is turned under so there is a finished edge.  There are a million ways to achieve this goal.   So many in fact that I was confused -- everyone has their favorite method that they swear by.   I narrowed the applique methods down to what I consider to be the top four.


Edited (8/15):  The Skill Builder Sampler will is available for purchase in book form!  It has been renamed "You Can Quilt!  Building Skills for Beginners" but covers the same skills with the easy, medium and challenging blocks and is a million times better than the original quilt along.  It is perfect for the beginning quilter or the experienced quilter who wants to branch out and learn new skills.  Find more information and order a signed copy in my Etsy shop or order on Amazon

I'm not 100% thrilled with this layout.
I was going for a sweeping arc and got...well, something else.
Oh well, I can always add more circles if I want later.
The block for this week is simply be a series of circles of various sized appliqued onto a square background.  I wanted to make a block where we could practice each of the different methods and see which worked best for us.  I would urge you to use a different method for each circle so you can see which method you like the best.  The methods differ in how they prep the fabric to be attached - the way the fabric is stitched on remains the same.  You can machine or hand stitch your circles.  I swore I would never hand applique - way too slow and too much work, but it is actually faster than you might think and very calming.  You can prep all your circles and then bring them anywhere with you.  It might be a good way of avoiding talking with Uncle Fester at the family Christmas party.  :)

Use your creativity in size and placement of your circles.  The sky is the limit!

  • 13.5 inch square of background fabric  Cut the background fabric a bit larger and then trim it down to 12.5 inches when you are done appliqueing on the circles.
  • A variety of fabric scraps for the circles
  • Freezer paper  You can find this in your grocery store next to the plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  We will only be using a bit so you could always borrow a scrap from your neighbor.  :)
  • Needle and thread  Most people swear by straw needles, but we are just starting out, so any thin longish needle that you have should be fine.  It is also recommended that your thread color match the color of fabric your are attaching to your background.  I didn't have the full rainbow of thread colors so I just used white (my background color) when I didn't have a specific color - not ideal, but it works.
  • Compass or various sized circles to trace 
  • Card stock, interfacing or dryer sheet
  • Iron, pins and scissors

Appliqued Geometric Circles Pillow
By Jennifer on Flickr

I started to take pictures of all the different methods, but my pictures weren't great.  Then I found a series of You Tube videos on applique.  I think the videos make showing how to applique much clearer.  Make a circle template in whatever size you desire and then follow the directions for each method.  By the time you are done you will have an idea of which method of applique you prefer.

Needle Turn
In needle turn applique, you simply trace the applique shape onto the fabric, cut between 1/8 and 1/4 inch around the shape and then turn under the edges with your needle as you stitch around the shape.  And yes, it is easier said than done.  I found that I used my fingers to turn under the edges of the fabric more than my needle, but I think that I would improve with practice.  This method has the least amount of prep and I think it would be the fastest and easiest method with practice.

To learn how to needle turn applique, watch this great video on You Tube with Nancy Ellen.

November for Pivy
By Amy on Flickr

Freezer Paper
I was always confused when people talked about freezer paper applique.  That is because there are about a million ways to use freezer paper in applique.  I am going to link to the methods that are most common and seem to work the best.

Freezer paper has a mat paper side and a shiny waxy side.  If you iron freezer paper waxy side down onto fabric it sticks well and can be easily removed.  It can be ironed on and removed multiple times before it loses it's sticking power.  It is these properties of freezer paper that are exploited to make applique easier.

This video produced by Connecting Threads shows how to use freezer paper to turn under the edges of the fabric.  The freezer paper is kept in the fabric while it is sewn onto the background fabric and is removed by cutting a slit on the backside of the background fabric.  Instead of using the applique glue as shown in the video, you can simply pin the shape in place.

In this video the freezer paper is removed prior to sewing on the applique.

Shabby Fabrics has a very detailed series of videos on freezer paper applique if you want to learn more.

Most of these videos use mini irons to iron under the seam allowances - and I think that would be a good idea if you were doing tons of applique - but I found that my big iron worked just fine.  Just let the tip of the iron do the work and remember you can always peel off the fabric and start over if you need to.

Circle Applique Skirt 2
I am in LOVE!  Applique circle skirt by junesimply via Flickr
Cheater Needle Turn Applique
This is the first kind of applique I ever tried.  You trace your shape onto interfacing, a dryer sheet or thin muslin, place the interfacing onto the right side of your fabric and sew along the line.  Then you make a slit in the interfacing and turn the whole thing inside out.  Make sure you really work the seams so you get a smooth line - you might want to trim the seam allowance down to 1/8 inch.  Then you pin and stitch.  Here is a video that demonstrates the method.

This video shows how to use sticky interfacing so you don't have to pin.

Preparing the trapunto
By Emma via Flickr

Gathered Circles
I think this method is the absolute best for making circles but you can't really use it for other shapes.  I couldn't seem to find a great stand alone video for this method, so skip to minute 4:45 on this video to see how they make their perfect applique circles.

One final bit of advice:  PIN!  You know how some of the circles on my block are all cool and overlapped?  That is because I didn't pin one of my circles and it shifted - leaving me with a big lopsided mess that I had to cover up.  You have been warned.  :) 

 Next Friday we will start working on appliqueing vines and shapes with points.  See you then!  
(And before then I will share some pictures from my trip - so much fun!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Charming Christmas Ornaments

Need more fabric in your holiday decor?  
I have a tutorial for fabric covered ornaments over at the Moda Bake Shop today.  
These are the ones my girls made.  Not too shabby, huh?

 We made them together over Thanksgiving break.  
The hardest part was cutting accurately.

And of course they added all the extras to make them their own.  
Need more Christmas fabric ideas?  How about wrapping presents with fabric?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My 2nd First Quilt

The quilt I made when I was 10 years old is being featured today at Gen X Quilters.  Writing up it's story made me think about the first quilt that I started as an adult and I want to share it's story with you today.

When my oldest was 1 year old, I had just graduated from college, my husband was in graduate school and we were living in the on campus student housing.  It was the greatest place for a young stay at home mom.  I had seen Vanessa, one of the "older moms" (she had a three year old - I know, ancient), around and quite honestly thought she looked kind of mean and grouchy, but it was Vanessa, sweet, wonderful Vanessa, who introduced me to quilting.  It turns out her new baby would only sleep if she held him, so she had spent the first 4 months of his life sleeping on the recliner in the living room - more than enough reason to look frazzled and grumpy in my book.

But he was now sleeping in a crib and she talked a group of us into joining a Block of the Month club at Quilts Etc. in Sandy, UT. We paid $5 for the first block and if we brought the completed block back the next month, we would get the fabric and pattern for the next month's block free.  Sweet!  Perfect for starving students.  The owner of the shop walked us through the basic steps in making the blocks, showed us new products in the store and then we would have a show and tell.  For each quilty item you brought in to show, you would get a ticket and then they would draw tickets for prizes.  Oh, how we cherished each fat quarter or pattern we won.  :)

I finished at least two baby quilts that year, and each month I would make one or two extra blocks.  We moved before the end of the year long club, but it was a wonderful experience.  I became great friends with all of the other girls in the group.  We would swap cutting mats, rulers and rotary cutters, share scraps and piecing advice and make the 40 minute drive to the quilt store each month together -- on top of all of the regular letting the kids play outside together.


A year after we moved I finally put the top together.  I was terrified of the sashing and posts between the blocks.  I was convinced that they would not line up, but it came together wonderfully well.  That was 8 years ago...8 looong years it has sat in a tote waiting to be finished.  Why?  I can't figure out what to do with the border, not to mention I had no idea how I would quilt the thing even if I did finish it.

 I started this on point square thing, but then decided that I didn't like how it looked, plus I was worried the squares wouldn't come out even at the corners of the quilt.  Then I decided that it really needed some floral applique around the edges to soften it up.  Then I decided that applique was too much work.  Now, after pulling it out, I don't think that the diamonds look bad, and I will take care of them not lining up by adding some applique in the corners.  Problem solved.

And quilting?  I am now a long arm pro (snort) so that shouldn't be a problem.  You know how they tell you to trim the threads on the back before you quilt something?  I had always thought that was odd because I pretty much trim as I go - but not on this quilt.  You can't see it well in this picture, but it is a crazy stringy mess - I don't know what I was thinking.

I have come so far in my quilting skills and there is still so much to learn.  It might sound corny, but quilting really has been a blessing in my life.  I am grateful that the Lord put those women in my life at that time.  It meant more than I can say.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Half Way Mark Winner!

The Random Number Generator choose #7 !!!!  Em, you are the lucky winner!

Skill Builder Sampler Blocks 1-17

Em said...
Hmm .. I almost forgot to come back here and post that I was all caught up! That would have been tragic! I now have 24 blocks because of the challenge blocks, and one I re-did, and two extra improv houses because I thought they were so cute. I would be thrilled with any of the prizes, but my choices, in order would be:
1. brights

2. dots
3. repro
Thank you for the chance!!

Good thing she came back and left a comment, huh?  :)  Thank you all for following along.  This has been so much fun and it is only going to get better!  Look at all of the beautiful blocks you have made!

1. Red and White quilt blocks, 2. DSCN2677, 3. Blocks 1-18 of the We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler, 4. Tanya's Blocks, 5. First 18 SBS blocks , 6. DSC_0099, 7. DSCN3037, 8. Blocks 1-18 with a few extras, 9. 20 Squares Done, 10. mosiac of blocks 1-18, 11. Skill Builder Sampler 1-18, pt 1, 12. so far, 13. SBS - Halfway done!!, 14. SBS blocks 1 - 18, 15. Skill Builder blocks 1-19, 16. Skill Builder Sampler (I don't know why some aren't showing up.  I tried multiple pictures from their photostreams, but if you click on the link it will bring you to their flickr picture.)

It's Christmas time!
I will be showing different ways to put your blocks together later on, but Linda has gotten a head start and put together this Christmas quilt.  Perfect timing, eh?  I love it!  The white border really makes it pop.

Orphan blocks into cushions
Linda made the leftover blocks into pillows.  She even added little Christmas light beading along the roof line of the house.   Too cute!

Keep up the good work and I will see you in a few weeks!

Block 19 - Orange Windows

Orange Windows - get it?  A little like the Orange Peel block
and a little like a faux Cathedral Windows block?  I'm so funny!
 We are starting the second half of the Skill Builder Sampler!  This month it is all about applique.  Applique is the process of sewing a small piece of fabric onto a larger piece.  We could spend a whole year on applique but we will touch on the basics and then you can continue to practice and improve your technique.

This block is made with raw edge applique - that is the edges of the fabric are not turned under when they are sewn onto the background fabric.  My husband insists that raw edge applique is cheating, but it is a simple, fast and effective method and even he said the finished block was "really nice - one of my favorites."  :)

When I first heard about raw edge applique I was worried that there would be a lot of fraying.  But if the pieces are attached with a product like Heat n Bond the fibers of the fabric are almost glued together and the chances of fraying are almost zero.


Edited (8/15):  The Skill Builder Sampler will is available for purchase in book form!  It has been renamed "You Can Quilt!  Building Skills for Beginners" but covers the same skills with the easy, medium and challenging blocks and is a million times better than the original quilt along.  It is perfect for the beginning quilter or the experienced quilter who wants to branch out and learn new skills.  Find more information and order a signed copy in my Etsy shop or order on Amazon.  


To make this block you will need:

  • A Compass
  • Card stock
  • Heat n Bond
  • 12.5 inch square of background fabric
  • Fabric Scraps

First, make a template for the petals.
Cut a 3 inch square piece of card stock.  I just used my rotary cutter and ruler.
Next, place the point of the compass in the corner of the card stock and open it until the pencil touches the adjoining corner.  Draw an arc from corner to corner.

 Place the point of the compass on the opposite corner and draw another arc from corner to corner.  Cut out the template.

 Next get out your Heat n Bond.  Heat n Bond has paper on one side and sticky on the other.

 Trace the petal shape on the paper side of the Heat n Bond 16 times.

 Rough cut around each petal and iron onto the back of your petal fabric following the directions on the package.

 Cut out all the petals just inside the line drawn on the paper.

 Cut the background fabric into a 12.5 inch square.

 Fold in half along the diagonal and iron.

 Fold in half again and iron.

 There should be visible folds from corner to corner.  These will serve as a guide for positioning the petals.

 First, lay out the petals and decide on an arrangement that suits you.  It might help to take a picture to refer to .

 Remove the petals.  Find the center of the fabric and place a petal with one point at the center and the other point along the diagonal line.  Press just the center to keep it in place.  (If you need to adjust a petal you can pull it off and reattach it - they will lose some of their adhesion and leave a bit of a residue - but if you are putting another petal in the same place it shouldn't be a big deal.  But I definitely wouldn't make a habit of it.)

Attach all of the petals along one diagonal.

 The corner petals point should be a quarter of an inch from the sides of the background fabric.

 Attach the petals along the second diagonal.

 Then add the side petals.  Their lower points should touch the points of the petals on the diagonals and their top points should touch each other 1/4 inch from the edge of the background fabric.

 Repeat for all four sides.  When you have all of the petals tacked down, give them a good iron - make sure all of the points are good and stuck.

 Now it is time to stitch around the edges.  But before we get started, change your thread to a color that blends well with most of your petals - unless you want the contrast.  You can use a zig zag or button hole stitch to finish the edge.  I used a zig zag.  Play around with the stitch length and width on a scrap piece of fabric until you are satisfied.  I wanted my zigs and zags fairly wide and close together and set my stitch length to .5 and width to 3.5.

If you haven't stitched along the edge of anything before, take a scrap of fabric,  place it on top of another scrap and stitch along the edge of it.  One side of the zig should go barely off of the scrap petal and onto the background fabric.  Play around until you have the hang of it.

Start sewing around the petals at one corner of the block.  Don't worry about back stitching, because we will end at the same spot and back stitch then.  Start stitching along the top edge of the petal.

 When your reach the point, continue on stitching the under side of the next petal in line.  When you reach it's point (the center of the block) continue stitching on the upper side of the 3rd petal in line and so on.

 When you reach the corner, stop with the needle down and turn around.  Stitch along the opposite sides of the petals until you reach the starting point.   Back stitch just a few stitches.  Repeat for the petals on the other diagonal.

Now stitch down the petals around the edges.  There is a simple way to sew down the rest of the petals without having stop once.  Just follow the arrows in my high tech diagram.  ;)  Start sewing at the star and follow the black arrows all the way around the block going over and under the petals.  When you reach the edges of the fabric you will need to stop with the needle down and rotate in place a bit to start on the next petal.  When you reach the beginning star, stop with the needle down, rotate and start stitching on the underside of the first petal.  Follow the white arrows around the block.  Back stitch a few stitches when you reach the beginning again.

 And you did it!  I really enjoyed making this block.  Wouldn't it be fun to make a bunch and join them together into a large quilt?

I am leaving for Abu Dhabi today (crazy!!) to visit my BFF and will be gone for a week and a half, so I will not be posting a block next week.   I was hoping to have the tutorial written  up before I left, but that just didn't happen.  So take a week off, do your Christmas shopping and the next Skill Builder Sampler block will be on the 17th.  I'll bring back pictures of my trip too.