On the Longarm today–a cup of Kaffe Fassett coffee

It is so much fun to quilt a quilt with beautiful color and fabric.  This lovely design is by Virginia Robertson Designs and it uses Kaffe Fassett fabrics with a purple Grunge background.  The challenge for me as a quilter was to make the applique stand out and to let the fabric be the star.

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I used double 80/20 Cotton/Polyester batting because I wanted the applique to pop out of the surface of the quilt.  I stitched in the ditch around the cups, handles and saucers.  I wish I had a magic wand which makes ‘ditching’ easier.  However, the real trick to getting the needle and stitches to go in the tight indentation between applique and background  is concentration and patience.  The next thing is to choose the right thread color.  Before starting to quilt I auditioned several thread colors:IMG_1867There are 4 different threads here–the first two are Superior So Fine, the next is Isacord and the last one is Aurifil.  I didn’t like the first and last because the purple was too red and they were really dark, I thought that they would fight with the maker’s fabric choices. The second one was too light and obvious on all the fabrics, although, if the quilt was going to be about the quilting it would have been a good choice.  The Isacord won–I had some trepidation about using it because I had never used on my longarm, but it worked beautifully and I had zero tension issues.

My next challenge was to find a quilting design which would make the background recede and would give it texture in a relevant way.  I found a coffee bean design by Mike Fountain at Intelligent Quilting.  I think it works really well as a background ‘meander’.

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I would love to have one of those cups filled with coffee every morning!!

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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Modern T-shirt Quilt

Hello,  do you remember me?  I know I’ve been gone for awhile, but I am back now.  I plan on getting caught up with lots of ideas and enthusiasm for quilts and sewing!  My camera is full of the projects which I plan on blogging about and I just need to sit down and write.  School will be starting soon here in the United States and the weather will be getting colder.  My youngest will be starting his senior year in high school (where did all the time go?).  It is time to plan his ‘graduation’ t-shirt quilt.  I have been faithfully collecting the out-grown t-shirts in a box under my longarm.  Over the next few months I will walk you thru my T-shirt quilt creation process.

Step one:  Collect T-shirts.  When my niece was a senior, several years ago, I offered to make a quilt for her.  Her mom and grandmother gave me a series of t-shirts from her high school theater productions (they brought over a stack of neatly laundered and ironed t-shirts!).  Collecting t-shirts around a theme helps to make the quilt more cohesive.  Themes can be narrow, e.g. marathons, baseball, theater, band, scouts, etc., or they can be broad, e.g. school activities, family vacations, etc.  Sometimes I just collect them around a color, or I just empty the collecting bin.

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Step two:  Cut, fuse, and trim the t-shirts.  First, I cut the front of the t-shirt away from the back and roughly trim it so that there is at least an inch or two away from the design.  At this point I can tell if all of the t-shirts will trim down to the same size (rare) or multiple sizes (the norm).  Then I fuse the t-shirts onto French fuse (tricot fusible) or a light weight fusible interfacing.  If I use the tricot fusible I make sure that stretchiest direction of the fusible is fused to the least stretchy direction of the t-shirt. Thus, making the t-shirt less stretchy in all directions.  Lastly, I trim the t-shirts to their finished size plus 1/2 in (seam allowance).

Step three:  Edit.  I decide which t-shirts will appear on the front of the quilt, and if I have too many, which will appear on the back of the quilt.  At this point, I interview the recipient–which t-shirts are the most important? what designs do they like:  traditional, modern, regular, irregular; what colors do they like? etc.  I like to place their name on the front of the quilt in some way, either with a t-shirt, appliqued or embroidered.

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Step four:  Design.  My niece wanted a ‘modern’ quilt with grays/blacks as the background.  I used google to search ‘modern design’ and found images of modern designs.  I thought that this type of design would be perfect for my niece.  I designed each block in EQ7 and then arranged them in a quilt.  I made sure that the quilt was going to be the right size for her college dormitory (extra long twin)

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Step five:  Piece the quilt top and the back.  Using my EQ7 design, I cut background fabric and pieced together the blocks of the quilt.  The back of the quilt is a good place to put leftover blocks and fabric.

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Step six:  Quilt as desired.  I always keep in mind that these quilts are loved and laundered frequently.  I like to quilt them at least every inch and use good thread so that they will stand up to all of the love–these are probably not the quilts to use heirloom custom quilting on.  My oldest son’s t-shirt quilt, which was tied, not quilted made it through 4 years of college…barely.

Step seven:  Bind.  Make sure that your binding is sturdy and sewn on well because it is the part of the quilt which gets the most use.

Step eight:  Label.  Unfortunately, my photo does not show my writing on the label, but it is there–my name, the date made, place made and why I made the quilt.

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Step nine:  Give it to the happy recipient.

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I look forward to working on my son’s t-shirt quilt with you.  Do you have a bin of t-shirts ready for a quilt?

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Bird Tree Hop, Signs of Spring???

Thank you Mme Samm and Lana from It Seams to be Sew for organizing the Tree Bird blog hop.  When I saw the blog button for this hop I knew that I had to participate–and the fabric, designed by Tracy Lizotte for Elizabeth Studio did not disappoint me.  It is wonderful and the birds look so beautiful.

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I couldn’t limit myself to one project and I had multiple ideas for a blog post, including a bloopers edition (since put aside–things that are funny in the middle of the night, tend not to be funny during the day, lol).  I’ll share some tips on using panels with you and show you how I used these panels.  First I made a quilt featuring panels from the Beautiful Bird line, including a tree panel, which mysteriously looks like it could have been drawn from my back yard.

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I thought that the tree looked like it needed some feathered friends so I liberally added birdhouses and birds using raw edge, fusible applique.   Fussy cutting and applique are wonderful ways to use fabric panels.  Small panels also look wonderful as the focal point or center in a pieced block.  For accuracy cut the panels with a ruler rather than relying on the printed marks on the fabric.

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I designed the quilt specifically for the bird panels so each block featured a different panel.  Once I started quilting I knew that this would be a great place to practice some of my quilting skills, including stitching in the ditch and fills.  Panels are wonderful places to practice your quilting skills–let loose and let your creativity flow!

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The quilting gives the birds dimension and life.  Of course, one can’t have birds without feathers, so I quilted a feather border and some cardinals in the alternating blocks.  Quilting designs should reference fabric and piecing/applique designs.

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We love watching the birds while sitting at the table, so placing them in a table runner was a logical choice.  I wanted to practice a binding with non-90 degree angles so I drafted  a hexagon, and placed a bird panel into each side.  In order to place a panel into a larger pattern piece, border it with additional fabric, then cut the ‘made’ fabric using the pattern.  Using projects made with panels to practice new techniques and skills saves time–and looks great!

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In addition to the table runner, I took an ‘orphan’ block of machine embroidery and bordered it with birds to make a bread warmer.  The feather-y embroidery design by Sew Swell Designs compliments the birds.  You can use orphan blocks, machine embroidery, or even large fabric motifs like a fabric panel.

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The bread warmer rests on the branches of our wonderful cherry tree, which gives us at least one pie full of cherries each year as long as we pick them before the birds!  Yes, that is snow.  Although I can’t boast of 8 foot snow banks in my drive like fellow blog hopper, Teatime Creations , snow falling and winter weather advisories still aren’t great news for the first weekend of Spring.  Someone saw a robin, the first harbinger of Wisconsin spring, this week (hopefully it wasn’t a rumor).  Working with this beautiful line has certainly made me long for warmer temperatures, gardens and outdoor activities.  Please be sure to visit these wonderful blogs for more of the blog hop:

Monday, March 23
Debbie Kratovil Quilts
how arT you?
Hill Valley Quilting
Pink Doxies. Blogspot.com
Elizabeth Coughlin Designs
Fabric Bias
Lovelli Quilts
In The Boon Docks
Bacon Then Eggs
Sew We Quilt

.Lovelli Signature