Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tiny Stems: two more methods

In my last post I wrote about tiny stems.


A reader left a comment describing another method for making those tiny stems. In case you don't read comments I decided to share her suggestion in a post. Thanks for taking the time to comment and share with others. I've said it before; a quilt maker can never have too many tips, techniques and skills in her tool box!

This is what Eloidastitches wrote:

Those tiny stems are quite the trick Karen. I would like to share a method I read in a book by Jane Townswick (Artful Applique, the Easy Way). In this book she shares her method of marking seam lines on skinny bias stems using a Hera marker (page 109). Before she cuts the strips, using a quilting ruler, she lines up the 1/8th inch mark along the cut edge on the back of the fabric, and then scores along the edge of the ruler at the 1/8th inch mark. Then she moves the ruler to the 1/4" mark, for the second score. After that you can cut it at the 3/8" mark (or like I do, I cut it at the 1/2" mark to give myself some wiggle room - and I actually do make another score line at the 3/8" mark as well then, which makes it easy for trimming off later). I finger press the first score line before I pin it down on my background fabric, and find this method works quite nicely, the seam allowance just nicely rolls over. The score line for the other edge can also be finger pressed before stitching down. If I have cut the strip at 1/2", then I trim it after the first edge is stitched down. I think I have gained enough confidence now, that I may cut my strips at 3/8" next time.

For all of you back basting fans, that method can be used for tiny stems and you don't have to deal with bias edges. The technique is describe by Jeana Kimball on Instagram.  The description of her method can be found here

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Rowdy Flat Library Quilt and Tiny Stems Tutorial

Again I apologize for the silence but it doesn't mean I don't think about you! I have recently started posting pictures on Instagram so if you are interested you can pop on over and have a look. My address there is @faeriesandfibres.

I've been working away on my Rowdy Flat Library Quilt designed by Susan Smith of Patchwork On Stoneleigh.  There are lots of stems to be appliqued and for the most part they are a mere 1/8" in width. There are eight pots of flowers on each of the four borders and most of them have more than one stem. That's a lot of little stems! UPDATE:Eloidastitches left a comment and she described another lovely method for making the tiny stems. I've added it to the end of this post so do read on!


Now I know that there are tools for making bias strips but the 1/8" size is so difficult if not impossible to find (not to mention expensive if you do find it). There are tutorials on how to make bias makers with cardstock and I tried them but had varying degrees of success. They seemed to work fine for bias strips of 1/4" or larger but the 1/8" size was next to impossible. So here's what I came up with and it works like a charm.

I cut bias strips that are 3/8". For tiny stems I could have worked with strips cut on the grain but when it frays, long threads come loose and it makes it difficult to turn under the raw edges when stitching so bias strips work better.


I fold under one edge by 1/8" and press with a hot, dry iron. Steam can distort the fabric and you are working with such a tiny seam allowance that there will be problems if you use steam. An alternative is to spray your fabric with a little starch and press it before you cut your bias strips. The little 1/8" seam allowance will fold and press much easier than it would without the starch.



Folding and pressing can be a little tricky so an alternative is to fold and thread baste as you fold. I baste only a half inch or so at a time. This is my preferred method because the fold doesn't open up at all. I can baste a longer strip, cut off what I need for a stem and applique it. The remainder of the strip is basted so the fold stays nice and crisp.


You may find it difficult to fold under  1/8" so there is another method. Cut  a 1/2" bias strip. Fold the strip in half and press with a hot, dry iron.


Trim down one side leaving a 1/8" seam allowance.


To applique the stems I place a stem on the fabric. I generally pin the stem to my fabric with tiny applique pins. I stitch down the folded edge first. In the pictures I've used white thread however I would normally use a colour to match the fabric that is being appliqued which in this case is green.


I tuck under the raw edge of the bias strip with the tip of my needle and stitch it down.


I only tuck under enough fabric to take a couple of stitches. This helps to minimize or eliminate any fraying.

The result is nice, tiny little stems!


I'm often asked what thread I use and there are a couple that I like. Gutermann 100% cotton thread is lightweight, very inexpensive and it comes in a wide variety of colours. My favourite thread is DMC machine embroidery thread. It was recommended by my friend Paula and it works beautifully. It has a soft sheen and although it is the same weight as the Gutermann if feels so much finer. It virtually disappears. It comes in the same colours as DMC embroider floss. 

UPDATE: As promised above I am adding the comment from Eloidastitches in which she describes another method for making tiny stems. A quilt maker can never have too may tips, techniques and skills in her tool box! Here is the comment: 

Those tiny stems are quite the trick Karen. I would like to share a method I read in a book by Jane Townswick (Artful Apllique, the Easy Way). In this book she shares her method of marking seam lines on skinny bias stems using a Hera marker (page 109). Before she cuts the strips, using a quilting ruler, she lines up the 1/8th inch mark along the cut edge on the back of the fabric, and then scores along the edge of the ruler at the 1/8th inch mark. Then she moves the ruler to the 1/4" mark, for the second score. After that you can cut it at the 3/8" mark (or like I do, I cut it at the 1/2" mark to give myself some wiggle room - and I actually do make another score line at the 3/8" mark as well then, which makes it easy for trimming off later). I finger press the first score line before I pin it down on my background fabric, and find this method works quite nicely, the seam allowance just nicely rolls over. The score line for the other edge can also be finger pressed before stitching down. If I have cut the strip at 1/2", then I trim it after the first edge is stitched down. I think I have gained enough confidence now, that I may cut my strips at 3/8" next time.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. Until I post again happy sewing and I hope to see you all over at Instagram!

Karen





Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tutorial: Finishing a hexagon quilt with a facing

I shared my polka dot quilt with you in my last post. Unlike most of my other hexagon quilts I chose to maintain the hexagons right to the edge of the quilt. So how do you finish the quilt? You make a facing. The next question is so what is a facing and how is it different from a binding?

Tea Dot by Karen H 2017

Let me start out with this qualifier: I'm not an expert but I'll explain it in my own non-technical way. Both a facing and a binding can be used to finish/cover the raw edges of a quilt. A binding (usually cut on the bias) is typically folded in half. The raw edges of the binding are lined up with the raw edges of the quilt and then it is stitched to the quilt. Once done it is folded to the back and the edge of the binding that is folded is stitched to the back of the quilt. With this method the binding shows on the front of the quilt. Attaching a binding to a quilt with a straight edge is easy although there is some care needed at the corners to ensure that the binding is folded at a 90 degree angle to create a mitered corner. If you were to attach a binding to a hexagon quilt you would need to create MANY 60 degree or 300 degree angle folds and this is just way too difficult for me. That's where a facing comes in handy!

A facing is a method of finishing the raw edges with a piece of fabric that is stitched to the quilt and then folded to the back of the quilt such that the facing does not show on the front of the quilt. It creates a smooth edge and no stitching will appear on the front of the quilt.


If you've ever made a sleeveless blouse you will notice that the armhole is typically finishing with a facing that is made from the same fabric as the blouse. The same is true for a neck hole in a blouse that doesn't have a collar or a jacket that doesn't have lapels. Using a facing to finish your hexagon quilt gives you a lovely finished edge. There is a disadvantage to a finishing with a facing and that is that the edge of the quilt is more susceptible to wear. A double fold binding provides two layers of fabric protection for the edge of the quilt whereas a facing provides virtually none. If you make a hexagon quilt that is going to be heavily used and well-loved then I recommend adding a border to create a straight edge and then bind it with a double fold binding. I wrote a tutorial of adding a border and you can find it here.

So let's get started with the tutorial. I like to baste hexagons from the back so that the thread remains in the quilt. If you aren't familiar with this method you can read about it here.  This is what a hexagon looks like basted from the back.

All papers are removed from the quilt top before it is sandwiched and then quilted. If you miss a paper it can be difficult if not impossible to remove! I know whereof I speak because I missed one paper in my Tea Dot quilt and had to quilt through it because I couldn't get it out! Quilt your top as desired.  The next step is to baste the edge of the quilt. I've marked the basting lines with green. This step is optional but I found that it was much easier to trim the excess backing and batting/wadding away if the edge was basted. The basting thread can be removed at any point after the trimming is done.


The facing is made of hexagons that are stitched together to mirror the edges of the quilt. The edge that looks liked dentil moulding will be stitched like this.


The edge that is a simple zigzag will look like this.



The following diagram shows the hexagons stitched together to make the facing. There are less hexagons in the diagram than there were in my quilt. The purpose of the diagram is simply to give you an idea of how the hexagon facing is stitched together. It will look identical from the front and back. I leave the papers in the facing until it is stitched to the quilt. Once attached the paper can be removed. I find the paper gives the hexagon body and makes it easier to line up the edges that are to be stitched. If you prefer to remove the papers before attaching the facing by all means do so!


The facing can be stitched together to make the facing for the quilt however I found it easier to stitch the facing to the quilt in sections.  Place the facing on the quilt with right sides together. I begin attaching the facing three or four hexagons in from the edge (I start at the red arrow) using the simple whip stitch. The hexagons to the left of the red arrow are left loose until I've stitched most of the facing to the right side of the quilt. It makes it easier to join the side face to the top facing. I used a neutral colour thread for stitching.


Once the facing has been stitched to the quilt it is flipped to the back. I used a blunt edged instrument to poke out the points of the hexagons. This is what it will look like from the front.


This is what it will look like from the back before it is stitched down.


The facing is stitched to the back of the quilt and you are done! I found it helpful to use little applique pins to hold the facing in position while I stitched it to the back. I would pin five hexagons and stitch four of them down. I would then pin the next four hexagons before stitching again. I did it this way because if the last hexagon was not flat and smooth a bubble would happen. If I stopped sewing before the last hexagon in the facing and that bubble was starting to develop I could reposition my facing without having to do any reverse sewing.


So there you have it, finishing a hexagon quilt with a facing. I hope this was helpful. It all makes sense to me but I know that sometimes it may not be clear to others so if there are questions or comments feel free to let me know and I'll do my best to explain how or why I did it this way!

Until I post again happy sewing!

Karen H

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A polka dot finish

All is well here but I've been more than busy doing trunk shows and teaching. Teaching means making samples so I've made quite a few quilt tops and am itching to quilt at least some of them! I've also been working on projects for myself.

Do you remember these blocks? I used two different polka dot fabrics. One has a slightly smaller dot than the other. Both had stark white backgrounds (nothing that a pot of tea couldn't fix)! Although I'm partial to fussy cutting there is no fussy cutting in the blocks since there is enough going on with the dots and chintz print I used for the path that will connect the blocks.


After many hours of stitching the blocks were put together to make the quilt top. My friend was hand quilting a quilt and it made my fingers itch to do some hand quilting. There's just nothing like the feel of a hand quilted quilt so after many hours of work the itchy fingers have turned into sore fingers but at least the quilt is hand quilted! The photo doesn't do it justice. In real life the colours are much warmer and it looks old and loved. I test drove the quilt on my bed last night and the cats gave it the seal of approval! So what do I call this quilt? I call it Tea Dot!


I didn't want to trim the hexagons and I didn't want a border so I finished the edges with a facing made of hexagons.


It is a time consuming way to finish the edge but it was the look I was going for so it was worth the effort. If anyone is interested in a tutorial for this method let me know and I'll write one and post it here!

Until I post again (hopefully sooner rather than later) happy sewing!
Karen H



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Rowdy Flat Library Quilt Block 3

I am having so much fun with Susan Smith's Rowdy Flat Library Quilt pattern.  Block 3 is finished and I am really happy with it! There are lots of little details like birds, bugs and flowers. This little bird is totally adorable! I cut him from a piece of fabric from an old charm pack. My goal was to centre one of the little flowers to create her eye. She measures about 1" tall and 1.75 wide. That is tiny and it also gives you an idea of just how small the leafs are. At first I didn't think I would be able to make such tiny appliques but I've found over the years that the best approach is to focus on just one small piece and take your time with it. When you focus on the whole it is overwhelming. I made the little rosy breast and that went fine so I then moved on to the bird's body. I just worked slow and took my time.


The is a caterpillar in this block too!


I cut the caterpillar from a leftover scrap from my quilt Mom's Flower Bed. This is the fabric I started with.


It made all of the stars in this quilt (except of course for the dark green stars) and it made the caterpillar in my  Rowdy Flat Library quilt.
Mom's Flower Bed by Karen H

Another little scrap of this same fabric was used to make a snail! I wanted something that mimicked the swirls and curls of the snail shell.


This is my finished block 3.


For me the hardest part of making a quilt from another person's pattern is fabric selection. I am so influenced by the fabrics the designer used and I find it very difficult to make my own choices. I don't have that problem when I make my own quilts.  You may recall my hexagon quilt along called Value Proposition. I did publish colour pictures of each block but I also published black and white pictures. When the colour is removed you see the value (the relative lightness or darkness of one fabric when compared to another). This little trick often helps me make fabric choices because I can search for a fabric that is lighter or darker and colour is much less of an influence.

Time to get back to sewing my polka dot hexagons and prepping for teaching tomorrow! Until I post again, happy sewing.
Karen H

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Naughty or nice? A little bit of both

I'm so sorry for the silence. That puts me in the naughty category I guess! I just seem to have lost my blogging energy over the past few months but I have been sewing, teaching and doing trunk shows. Thank you to everyone who dropped me a line to make sure all is well. That was very nice and very much appreciated. All is indeed well with me.

This is one of the quilts I've been working on. The quilt is made of hexagons that are just over 1/2". I folded it up and put it on my sewing machine. Every rosette is fussy cut and I'm thrilled with how it looks. My plan is to add pieced borders to this quilt. Jinx decided this would be a great place to roost. Definitely naughty but I have to admit that he looks nice on the quilt!


In February I'll be doing a trunk show for the Region of York Quilters' Guild. February is Pieceful Quilters' Guild and April is Twisted Stitchers (what a nice name for quilt makers). Trunk shows are nice and I do enjoy sharing my work with others! I've been teaching at Country Clothesline / Spark Fabrics in Toronto (very nice). I know that registration is open if you are interested. There are two different workshops so far. The first is an introduction to English Paper Piecing and I call it "It's Not Your Grandmother's Flower Garden". The workshop is on Sunday, February 5. I designed two quilts for this workshop and patterns for both are included in the registration fee. The first one needs a border but the English paper piecing is done. It is called "What The Hexagon". This quilt was a great way to use up leftover scraps and that always feels nice.


The second quilt is called "Cotton Candy" because of the juicy candy colours! This isn't my usual colour palette but it is nice!


The second workshop is Fussy Cutting for English Paper Piecing and it builds on the first class. The quilt that Jinx is sitting on is one of the quilts that I will show at the workshop. It is scheduled for Monday, February 13. You will find more info here.

I've also been working on another project - very naughty when there is so much to do! I do love hexagons so here I go with yet another hexagon quilt. I saw an old quilt on Pinterest. It was made of rosettes surrounded by hexagons made of polka dot fabric and the path was made from a chintz print. I managed to find some polka dot fabric. Actually what I found were two different polka dots so I bought them both and mixed them together.


The white background was not nice (too stark) so I boiled a pot of tea and in went the fabric. Well actually, in went the pieced blocks that I had made so far, paper and all! I soaked them for a bit and then rinsed them in cool water and the result was very pleasing to my eye....nice! So I tossed the rest of the dot fabric before cutting it up for piecing. I'm really happy with how these hexagons are looking and can't wait to make more. This quilt will be all about the colour and print with no fussy cutting at all! Can you see the naughty fluffy toes in the upper right hand corner of the picture. He figures that he is being helpful but I have a different point of view!


I didn't have a suitable chintz but came across a new line of fabric, Pumpkin Pie by Moda. I had received a free pack of charm squares and the toffee colour background print worked perfectly with the blocks I had made. I received a 20% coupon from an online quilt shop that carried this line so I ordered the fabric for the path. I think this quilt is going to be very nice when done! I haven't decided how the edges will be finished but am mulling over a number of ideas all of which are nice.

So there you have it - a little bit of naughty and a little bit of nice. I'll try to be more regular in my posting. Until the next time, happy sewing!
Karen H

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Rowdy Flat Library Quilt Block 2 (The Beekeeper) and a reader makes a quilt from one of my patterns

I'm sick of renovations because one thing just leads to another. The attic space has been cleaned, repaired and new insulation installed. In the process some electrical work was done up there and as a result it was necessary to knock two holes in my bedroom wall to run electrical cable. That would not have been so bad but for the fact that there is wallpaper on the walls so this means I have to pack up my bedroom, strip the wallpaper, repair the walls, repaint and so on. I had planned on putting my sewing room back together and will do so but once that is done, all of the bedroom stuff including furniture will have to be packed up and stored in my sewing room. Oh well, I had best stop my moaning and just get on with it!

During all of the commotion I've finished block 2 of the Rowdy Flat Library Quilt designed by Susan Smith. She calls this block "The Beekeeper" because as you will see it is loaded with bees! Here is my start.


At the base of the wreath the pattern called for the quilt maker's initial but I just loved the bees sooooo much that I added a bee instead.


Susan's quilt design calls for a variety of fabrics for the bee bodies but I plan to use the same fabric for all of my bees. I like the warm honey colour and think it works well. All the little details such as the legs and antennae are done with a pen.


The flowers in the three corners were appliqued in place. The pattern calls for flower centres made up of two circles with one being smaller than the other.


I have this fabric in my stash and thought it would make perfect centres for the flowers so I cut them out and positioned them on my flowers. They really sparkled so I didn't need to go the two circle route.


I love the effect of this fabric. for the flower centres!


Finally, here is my finished block....The Beekeeper! Notice the honeycomb in the upper left corner.


I recently heard from a reader, Gretchen, that she had made a quilt from one of my patterns, Cherry Blossom. The pattern is available in my Craftsy store.


Gretchen made her Cherry Blossom quilt larger than the pattern and she added a pieced border. All I can say is WOWIE! Cherry Blossom is one of my favourite quilts and I love her version. Isn't it interesting to see how a border can change the look of a quilt? You can read about Gretchen's quilt on her blog Gretchen's Little Corner.



Gretchen added her own personal touch (I love doing that myself and am really pleased to know that Gretchen did her own thing too) by adding the pieced border!


I've procrastinated long enough. Time for me to start packing up the bedroom and think about stripping wallpaper. Until I post again, happy sewing.

Karen H