On my Longarm today….Ditching

IMG_1885Ditching, or stitching in the ditch (SID), refers to quilting with stitches that are placed precisely in the seam.  SID comes from garment sewing where it is used in shoulder and collar seams to strengthen the seam and tame seam allowances.  It is a skill which I’ve practiced ever since I began quilting.  I started ‘ditching’ as a hand quilter, tried it a few times (not very successfully) on my domestic sewing machine, and I find it a necessary part of my repertoire as a longarm quilter.  The wonderful applique quilt on my longarm today has given me lots of practice with stitching in the ditch. The technique is an excellent way to stabilize the quilt, especially between borders or around applique.  It also shows off precise piecing and applique.IMG_1906

Good stitching in the ditch should disappear into the quilt.  In the photo above, at very high magnification, my stitches with a white thread disappear into the quilt.  The only thing that one can see is that the seam has definition and depth.

To SID choose a thread which is thin (I like 50 or 60 weight), with a color that blends well with the colors of the fabrics which are seamed together or a mono-filament thread.  Although many quilters love mono-filament for ditching, I prefer a matte thread in a blending color because I don’t like the shine of a polyester thread.  Although I have seen a shiny thread ditched in a star block which made the star appear to sparkle–gorgeous.

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Notice that the needle goes directly into the little ‘ditch’ next to the seam.  Perfect SID starts with piecing the quilt top.  It is necessary to make sure that you have a plan for pressing each seam and are consistent.  Do not have the seam allowance flip between seam intersections.  A top which is paper foundation pieced can be ditched because they are sewn and pressed consistently.

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To SID, I draw the seams on my computer with the quilting machine head, then I start the sewing machine.  This leaves my hands free to gently pull the seam  slightly apart as the machine quilts, making the ‘ditch’ larger and an easier target to hit.  If the seams don’t match perfectly at intersections, then my ditching will follow those unmatched ditches.  I find that concentrating solely on the needle gives me a version of ‘highway hypnosis’ so I usually focus my eyes on the ditch slightly before it goes under the needle.  I need to remind myself to take frequent breaks.  Eyes, neck, shoulders, back, and elbows get tired from this type of intense work.

 

 

SID quilting is necessarily slow work but it also has a meditative quality which I enjoy and it makes lovely quilts!!!

Please have a lovely and safe 4th of July, celebrate our country, enjoy your family and remember those who have fallen in service so that we may live free.

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Matching Fabrics to Create an Invisible Seam Tutorial

Can you find the seam in the picture above the headline?  I made this quilt, top and back. for a client who wanted a fun quilted bed topper for the holidays.  When I saw the fabric she chose I thought that it would look jarring to have a seam down the center with mismatched dots and deer.  However, the method I use to match seams, i.e. lots of pins, would not work with this many dots or the tiny deer.  Can you imagine two pins per dot?  Ouch!!  I brought out my trusty glue stick instead.  I was in a rush so I used the glue stick which I had on hand, an off brand.  I have since found that Elmer’s Washable School Glue works better, and washes out easily (it is a starch product).  I do not have a relationship with Elmer, I love their product, and it is a great time of year to stock up with back-to-school sales.

Step one:  Gather tools.   I use washable glue, stick or liquid, pins, seam gauge, iron.

IMG_0587Matching Fabrics

Step two:  Press a seam line.  I used a seam gauge to ensure that the seam would be straight.  (I removed the selvage from the seam allowance after sewing).

Step three:  Place the fabric which has not been pressed right side up on your ironing board then place the pressed fabric right side up on top.  Move the pressed fabric so that the print motifs on the fold match the motifs on the unpressed fabric. I pinned the fabric using pins straight up and down into my ironing board to secure the fabric while I glued it in place.  I found that the glue stick was more likely to distort the fabric than a liquid glue.  Heat set the glue with a hot iron.IMG_0588Matching FabricsIMG_0590Matching Fabrics

Step four:  Once the seam is glued and heat set I am ready to sew.  I unfold the fabric so that the right sides are together and sew along the fold where my iron created a crease.

IMG_0592Matching Fabrics

Correct lighting is essential–with some fabrics I might have to adjust the light falling on my sewing area so that I can see the crease, I experiment until I can see.

Here are the finished seams, selvages removed and pressed, the red arrows point to the seams:

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No deer were beheaded in the making of the quilt!!

Lovelli Signature

Black Cat Crossing and Wicked Witch-y Way

Thank you Wicked Wendy for leading us on a blog hop featuring fabric from the Black Cat Crossing by Maywood Studio.  Thank you Madame Samm for organizing such wonderful hops with interesting themes.  I promised a Halloween quilt and a tutorial.  Today’s quilt is a Quilt Design a Day finish–yippee!!  My first finish from the designs which I have posted on Quilt Design a Day is from September 11, 2014.  Here is the design as I originally posted it:

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And here is the finished quilt:

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A closer look at the scary/whimsical witch-y houses:

 

I fussy cut the eyes/windows in the witch-y houses so that the spiderweb prints would look like eyes.  Each house has a door/nose using a purple background print, the houses/faces are a green print and the roofs/hats are a black background print.  I used fabrics from the Black Cat Crossing line and some solids which were in my stash.  The web quilting design was by Jessica Schick.  The spiderweb embellishments were free-motion free-standing lace.  They were definitely a spooky addition and easy to make.

To make the webs I started with Aquamesh Plus, a water soluble stabilizer, Bridal organza and embroidery thread.

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I set up my machine for free motion stitching, lowered the feed dogs, installed the free motion foot, changed my needle for an embroidery needle and installed the straight stitch throat plate.  Please consult your sewing machine’s manual for how to do this.

IMG_1134-1Web Tutorial1In order to stitch the colored webs, I threaded both white and colored threads through the machine as if they were one thread following the same path.  Both threads should be threaded through the one needle.  Please consult your owner’s manual if this does not work on your machine or if you have excessive thread breakage.  I stuck the adhesive side of the stabilizer to the bridal organza ribbon (after removing the wire from the ribbon) then I hooped them together in an embroidery hoop.  I used a 7 inch diameter hoop.

IMG_1135-1Web Tutorial2If you are insecure with your free motion stitching drawing ability I suggest that you draw your web on the stabilizer/organza with a water soluble marker.  I drew my first web with a non-soluble pen and it transferred to the thread when I dissolved the stabilizer.  The resulting web looked very dirty.  After drawing a few webs I felt comfortable enough to go ‘off-road’ at the sewing machine.  The first stitches are an ‘asterisk’ shape which form the skeleton of the web.

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I found that setting the needle speed at approximately midway between the slowest and fastest kept thread breakage at a minimum.  The needle will be going fast, but your movements should be slow and deliberate.  First lay down the base stitches–I stitched the lines upon which I would build the design.  I usually went over the lines twice.  Next I went over the spiderweb ‘straight’ lines with a tight looping stitch.

IMG_1139-1Web Tutorial 3In the above picture you can see both the straight lines and the beginning of one line of the looping stitch.  Watch that you do not have excessive thread build-up in one place, you don’t want to pull your needle out of the needle bar or break your needle.  The width of each line when finished should be 1/8 inch.  When stitching the outer lines of the web be careful not to bump into the hoop with the presser foot.  Also I noticed that my hoop was not travelling  smoothly because my sewing surface was not completely flat–I used my Silicone Slider to fix that issue.

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After stitching the skeleton of the web and the outer shape I stitched the inner lines.

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Once you have completed stitching the web, remove it from the hoop and following the manufacturer’s instructions dissolve the water soluble stabilizer.

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Remove the webs from the water, dry them in a towel and press them.  I then carefully cut the organza out of sections of the web to add to the ‘webby’ illusion.   Arrange them on the quilt and tack them down with a few stitches.

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Thank you so much for your time.  Please visit the other blogs on today’s schedule:

VroomansQuilts

Lovelli Quilts

Pampered Pettit

TeaTimeCreations

Whims and Fancies

Have a quilty day!!

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Designing Starlight on Water with EQ7 Serendipity, part 2

In part 1, I discussed how I took the inspiration photograph from Design Seeds, drew a block, and then created 8 different blocks with EQ7’s Block>Serendipity>Kaleidoscope.  I chose to add 4 of those blocks to my Sketchbook:

Next I thought that I would like a compass rose-type star as the center of my design.  Individual blocks can be set into stars using EQ7’s Block>Serendipity>Fancy Star Block.

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I chose the first block from the Kaleidoscope, see image above, indicated by the turquoise selection box on the left of the Create a Star dialogue box.  I checked Add a background patch, selected 8 points, and slid the slider bar until the star was almost to the perimeter of the background patch.  Last, I clicked the Add to Sketchbook button.

I chose to place these blocks in a Quilt>New>On point quilt.  The Layout was 6×6 12 inch blocks.  I usually add a 1/2 inch border to all of my designs, indicating the binding.  I recolored several blocks to get the color placement and progression which felt ‘rippley’ to me.

Here are some additional quilts which I have designed using EQ7’s Block>Serendipity>Kaleidoscope:

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The next step in the process is to draw the files  into a vector drawing program and then prepare the fabric for laser cutting.  Stay tuned…

Have a quilty day!

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Designing Starlight on Water with EQ7 Serendipity, part 1

Designing Starlight on Water started with a Design Seeds photo and palette on July 12.

http://design-seeds.com/index.php/home/entry/color-escape9
http://design-seeds.com/index.php/home/entry/color-escape9

I immediately thought that the white boat was a striking part of the photo, and I knew that it should play a role in the quilt design.  I also thought that the ripples in the water added a subtle texture to the photograph.  My first block was a very simplified EQ7 applique drawing of those inspirations: Starlight 2 I couldn’t stop there, because the drawing didn’t express the calm I felt from the photo.  I started playing with the block in EQ7’s Block>Serendipity>Kaleidoscope. Starlight a The above screenshot shows EQ7’s  ‘Create Kaleidoscope from Block’ dialogue box.  I have 3 different boat blocks on the left, because I tweaked the original block a bit before I was ready to play with Kaleidoscope.  On the right are 4 different triangle subsections of the selected block. The selected subsection, marked by a turquoise box and multiplied by 8, makes up the center block.  By selecting different subsections, I can get 8 different blocks.

When I find a block I like I click the ‘Add to Sketchbook’ button in the dialogue box.  Sometimes the kaleidoscope is really beautiful, sometimes I like the shapes, and sometimes I choose not to add it to my Sketchbook.  Here are the blocks I chose for Starlight on Water:

I further edited the colors in the blocks once I started putting them into the quilt.  Creating the center star used another Serendipity function which I will show you tomorrow.  The blocks will be constructed using fusible raw edge applique. Have a quilty day! lovelliquilts.wordpress.com

Using EQ7’s Serendipity to Design Original Blocks, part 2

Today I would like to show you some more quilts which I designed with the help of EQ7’s Block>Serendipity>Shrink and Flip.  You can find part 1 of the tutorial here.   In the galleries found below the first image is always the original block and the following blocks are the combinations from Shrink and Flip,  used in the quilt design and numbered to reflect the set of flags in the Shrink and Flip dialog box.

I took the “Palm” block in EQ7 and rearranged it for the following quilt design.

Barbed Wire
Barbed Wire

I find that by mixing and remixing the combinations in the Shrink and Flip dialog box I discover new blocks and fun new ways to arrange blocks.    Many times the combinations are unexpected and beautiful.  I hope you discover something new when you play with Shrink and Flip.

Feathers
Feathers

For the following quilt, I recolored some of the patches in each block once it was set into the quilt and I also darkened the background.

Cool Treats
Cool Treats

Finally here is the Orange Slice design which I showed you in part 1 of the tutorial:

Orange Slices
Orange Slices

Spend some time to play around with this neat feature!

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Using EQ7’s Serendipity to Make Original Block Designs, part 1

I have been using EQ7 to design original blocks for many of my quilt designs for Quilt Design a Day (Qdad).  Each of us has committed to designing a quilt a day.  I joined originally for fun, but now I am very serious about continuing.  The discipline of designing every day has improved my designs and increased my creativity.  It has also made me a much better EQ7 user.  We get our inspiration from the two photos and their color palettes on Design Seeds.  I then convert the palettes to Kona Cottons using PaletteBuilder.  You can see my tutorial on Creating Custom Palettes on my Tutorials page.

I use EQ7’s Serendipity function (Block>Serendipity) to design many of my quilts.  I usually I start with a some kind of representation inspired by the Design Seeds photo and palette.  For example, this week we had an orange slice as the inspiration photo and palette.

SlicedHues

I started by drawing a block, in Easy Draw,  which was a very literal translation of the inspiration photo:Slice

Next I decided to see what would happen if I used EQ7  Serendipity to change the block.  I went to Block>Serendipity> Shrink and Flip.  EQ7 then shrinks the hi-lighted block (on the left) and combines it with three copies of itself.

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 The flags below the main picture determine the direction the 4 shrunk blocks will take.  I look at each block and decide if I want to keep it.  When I want to keep a block, I press the Add to Sketchbook button.  Look at the quilt below and notice that I placed the Design 3 blocks in the center, Design 1 blocks in the inner pieced border, and Design 4 blocks around the perimeter.  All of the blocks have the same components arranged differently.

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The same thing can be accomplished with graph paper, crayons (or colored pencils/markers, etc).  Draw the original block, make copies, either by hand or photocopied, color them, cut them apart and rearrange.  I would take a photo of your design when you are done.  One tool which you might find useful is the Dritz design mirror.  It is a two mirror set which you can set by your design to see what it would look like multiplied.  It is thrilling!!!

Have a quilty day!!

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