Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along: Part 1

NOTE:  If you are just now hearing about the Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along, and would like to find out more, click HERE.

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Hello Friends, with your fabrics and supplies ready, get set, GO!  This is what I was able to accomplished for the Part 1 of Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along!

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This block took me 2 hours to make.  But then, it might not take you as long because I am an extremely slow piecer!

A few things that helped me in making this block.  Please note that what I am in no way dogmatic about what I am sharing below.  Please feel free to use your tried and true tricks! :)

#1.  Starch — I am the starchy type when it comes to piecing.  I always stabilize my fabrics by press-starching them, especially when I know I will be cutting small pieces.  I actually don’t have a favorite brand.  So I am curious to know what brand of starch you use if you press-starch your fabrics.

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#2.  In making the roof unit, I finger pressed my sew-and-flip piece first before trimming… and all that BEFORE I pressed my seam open with a hot iron.  Since I press-starch my fabric, I don’t use steam when I press.

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When matching the roof units, I made sure the diagonal seams on both units are right on top of each other.  Then I place a pin diagonally matching the diagonal seams, before sewing the units together.

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By doing that, I ended up with a nice looking eaves.

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#3.  Since there’s not butting of seams, and due to the fact that the window unit being made with small pieces, I pressed open my seams for the window and door units.  That way I don’t lose any “fabric real estate” which happens when I press my seams to one side.

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#4.  I was a little more careful than usual when sewing the 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ ground fabric square onto the green rectangles for the tree unit.  I pinned my square as shown so that it was kept nicely in place when I fed the pieces through the machine.

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#5.  So, you are supposed to sew (2) 1 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ ground rectangles in step 9 on page 5 of the instructions.  The ground rectangles should be (2) 1″ x 8 1/2″.  The dimensions are correct in the cutting directions.

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And after 2 hours or so, you should have a nicely flat block! :)  Your block should measure approximately 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ raw edge to raw edge.

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For those who are sewing along, you will have till March 13 to finish your block, and I do hope you will send me a picture of your block!

It was SO good to sew something for me and doesn’t really have a deadline.  But it’s time for me to go back to work on work-related things. :)

Feel free to share tips and tricks and thoughts you have on the block on this post.   Have FUN!

FREE PATTERN: Stars and Stripes Forever

Hello Friends, lots of festivities are in town today!! It’s Inauguration Day!!!  Here is my fly-speck contribution to the patriotic festivities today!

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The quilt is designed with Stars and Stripes Forever fabrics by Hoffman Fabrics.

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Click here to download free-to-use pattern.

And I close today with a prayer for America by our first President, General George Washington:

Almighty GOD; we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States of America at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of The Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech thee, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

With prayers for the future, and always with thanksgiving to God, I hope you have a most blessed day!

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My 2017 Line-up

Editorial Feature

American Patchwork & Quilting (Jan/Feb 2017):  Close Quarters (Cover Quilt)

McCall’s Quick Quilts (Feb/March 2017):  I’m Blue For You

 

Free-to-use Design

Jan 2017:  Stars and Stripes Forever (Hoffman Fabrics)

Thread Journey Quilt Along Part 1 & Other News

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Dear Friends, today is THE day!!!! Go on over to Aurifil blog today for the first step in making my Thread Journey Quilt by clicking here.

The original Thread Journey quilt was made mainly with batiks.  You can see my version 2 is made with Windham’s solids and fabrics from their other basic lines.

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A point I want to stress is I hope this quilt will bring much quilty joy in your own quilting/thread journey.  And remember… it is your quilt!  You can change and spice things up anyway you would like.  I think the following quote from Elizabeth Bennet in BBC’s Pride & Prejudice said it best, “Maria, this is your trunk; these are your gowns. You may arrange them in any way you wish. (whisper) Lady Catherine will never know.” :)

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Meanwhile, the new Aurifil’s Designer of the Month block for June just released yesterday. Click here for the details on how to make Block #6!

Aurifil 2016 Design Team June Jacquelynne Steves collage

And that’s all the excitement I can handle for the day!  I have to get back to that green/red quilt that has many pieces. I still have quite a few blocks to go. :(

Have a lovely day!!!

It’s official: THREAD JOURNEY Quilt-Along with me!

Hello Friends, yes, things have been happening behind the scenes…. I am happy to announce my Thread Journey Quilt Along is official!

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Please go to Aurifil’s blog for details by click here.  What can I say…. except I am super excited!!!!!  With that said, it is also a day to be excited about something else! Miss Baby and I will be celebrating Martha Washington’s birthday at the Washingtons’ Estate and Garden today.  Good bye for now, and a very Happy 285th Birthday to our Lady Washington!

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Tips on Pinwheels

Pinwheels – a quintessential building block in quilting!

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I thought I would share a few things I do to get the pinwheel points to match up!

#1.  I use Aurifil cotton 50 wt thread for piecing.  The finer weight helps me tremendously in achieving precision when I piece!  With this thread, I am able to get the fine thread with the strength to holdup the seams.

#2.  In constructing the half-square-triangles, I always (always!) make them bigger, and then trim them to size.  For example, for a 3″ finished HST unit, instead of the conventional measurement that would have me cut my squares at 3 7/8″, I would cut mine at 4 1/2″.  The resulting HST units would be a bit larger than 3 1/2″ — which allows me to trim them to exactly 3 1/2″x 3 1/2″ square without the unit being wonky!

I also press my seams open – that way, I can treat my HST units as it they are squares after they are trimmed to size.

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In the picture below, the goal is to trim my HST units to 4″ x 4″ (raw edge to raw edge).  So, I will line up the diagonal seam of the HST unit to the 45-degree line on the quilting ruler, as shown in the sequence below.

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#3.  Now, I am ready to sew the top two HST units together to make one half of the block.

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The key is good pinning for this step — I make sure the diagonal seams of both HST units match perfectly before pinning.  This is how I check to make sure the diagonal seams.  Once I am happy with how the diagonal seams match, I place a fine patchwork pin where the seams match.

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To keep the seams keep matching when the HST units are sewn, I kind of have to let my machine “sew over” the pin — which they tell you is a no, no!  But I do that really carefully, and only with the finest patchwork pin I can find (made by Clover).  [Disclaimer: You are free to NOT sew over the pin if you aren’t comfortable doing so.  And if you do, always be very cautious, and not to sew ON the pin.] Then, I press the seam open — and on the right side, you see that the points at the valley match up quite nicely.

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#4.  After I get two block halves made, I am ready to sew my pinwheel block together.  Again, I match up the V’s at the seam, place a fine patchwork pin to hold the matching-up point in place.  Sew, and press my seam open again — and watch the point meet up at the block center!

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I had the chance to teach precision in piecing quilt blocks at a Craft Festival last year.  To my surprise, 85% of the students who signed up hardly had any piecing experience.  I did have to do an improv block because of the needs of the students being a bit off-course.  However, I learned a very important lesson.  Even beginners can achieve accuracy in piecing when they are shown simple and careful tricks!  I am proud to say all the ladies left the class that day with VERY impressively accurate blocks!

And that’s what this post is about — sharing a few tricks I use that might be helpful to your piecing (if you aren’t already using these tricks yourself).

Nosy mind wants to know… Might you have any tricks you use when you make pinwheels? I should dearly like to know, and try them out myself.  Thank you for visiting!  Hugs to you all!

Free-Motion Quilted Heart Ornaments

Hello Friends, there should still be time… Today, I am sharing with you how you can practice your free-motion quilting skills on these small and quick Valentine’s Day heart ornaments.  It’s a win-win deal because you aren’t having to undertake a major project, and you will be finished with the project in a jiffy! :)

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You will need a piece of cardboard to cut into the heart shape you like, pieces of fabric, batting pieces, and stuffing.  I used wool and silk batting scraps.  My heart ornaments measure at the widest 4″ and longest 5″.    The only thing I want to add to the heart shape is that you might not want a “V” to be too deep for your heart shape.  A deep “V” makes turning the heart right side out much harder later.  I ended up having to throw away my first attempt.  Oh, if you want to hang your ornaments, you will need ribbon pieces of desired length.

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You would go through the steps below to complete your heart ornaments.  It’s pretty much what you would do to sew a simple square pillow ornament, except the shape of this ornament is a heart.  For the record, the pillow ornament is the only finishing technique I feel confident of doing.  I am a craft wimp!

#1.  Trace heart shape onto the front of a fabric piece.

#2.  Layer to make a mini quilt sandwich like you would normally prepare a quilt sandwich: backing fabric piece right side down, bating piece and fabric piece with traced heart right side up.

#3.   Quilt the heart with the motif of choice.  Be sure to outline quilt the heart outline you have traced earlier.   After you have quilted the heart, trim around the heart by adding approximately 1/4″ seam allowance. Below you see the quilted heart, trimmed with its edge zigzagged to reduce the bulk.

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#4.  Lay the quilted heart on another piece of fabric you will use to back the pillow ornament. Trace the heart, and cut out the backing heart.

#5.  Lay backing heart and quilted heart, right sides together, with the quilted heart on top.  Sew both pieces together along the heart outline you quilted earlier, leaving an opening.  I actually sewed in the hanging loop in this step. I have seen some who sew the hanging loop after the ornament is turned right side out.  Your choice.

#6.  Turn the ornament right side out.  Stuff with stuffing.  Hand sew the opening shut.

For the quilting option, I have shown you a few options on how you are free to use to quilt your heart ornaments if you aren’t quite sure what to quilt.

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I quilted my ornaments with Aurifil 50wt variegated threads to quilt the ornaments over Hobbs Tuscany silk batting scrap pieces.

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Perhaps you will make some of these cute hearts for Valentine’s Day this year?  I can actually see these as Christmas ornaments as well… Happy Monday, and Happy Week!

Thread Talk From My Sewing Machine #67

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Hello Friends, today’s post is a mixture of looking back and looking forward!  You will see what I mean.  I quilted with 100wt silk thread when I first started machine quilting on my domestic machine back in 2006.  Undoubtedly the effect of quilting with 100wt silk thread on fine fabrics is spectacular!

Very soon after that, I heard about the Aurifil Mako 50 cotton threads being used for machine quilting.  I would still quilt with the 100 wt silk threads if the opportunity arises, but I feel like Aurifil Mako 50 cotton threads allow me to quilt fancy as well as practical — I can still have amazing quitling results, and have the Aurifil Mako 50 cotton threads hold up the quilt sandwiches well enough for practical uses.   I personally wouldn’t use a quilt made with silk dupioni that is quilted with silk.  To me, a silk on silk quilt is something the beholder “admires with his eyes and not his hands” — something I tell Miss Baby whenever we are around breakables at the stores! :)  The following shows a few quilts (out of many) with which I have quilted Aurifil Mako 50 Cotton.

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I highly recommend Aurifil’s Mako 50 weight cotton for beginners and advanced machine quilters alike, and especially beginners because the fine weight is very forgiving.  It’s as if the threads “melt” into the fabrics!  So ALL these years I have only quilted with Mako 50 weight cotton threads, because they work beautifully!  I am also the type that always orders the SAME dish at the SAME restaurant almost every time (well, every single time) once I find a dish I like!  I get that from my Dad…. So, I have just been quilting with the 50 wt, and haven’t tried out the other weights.

This past week, I was asked to experiment quilting with Aurifil’s Mako 40 wt (slightly heavier than the 50wt), and then their Mako 28 wt (a little heavier than the 40 wt).  So, I broke out the Aurifil sample thread pack that many of you probably also have to get out the 40wt and 28wt spools.  Here is how my experiment turned out…. (green = 40wt, and silver gray = 28wt).

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I mainly wanted to see how tiny I can quilt with the 40wt and 28wt threads… You can see from the penny that is used as a reference, I can quilt pretty tiny with both the 40wt and 28wt threads.

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I think the tiny pebbles are a little “cleaner” quilted with the 40wt compared to the 28wt. However, considering how tiny my pebbles are compared to that penny, I think the effect is really not bad with the 28wt.

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Here is the back with the 50wt being used as bobbin thread.  Compared to the front picture, you can see that the effect of quilting with 50wt being finer and more subtle in the picture below.

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Here in this picture, you can see how the 28wt silver gray stitches show up more prominently than the 40 wt green stitches.

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SO…. what have I concluded?

  1.  28wt definitely showcases the quilting more prominently.  But as a personal choice, I probably wouldn’t use it for areas where I will have to stitch over previously stitched stitches too many times where the thread buildup will be noticeable.  With the 50wt, oftentimes, I would quilt the same path at least 5-6 times before I would start to see a thread buildup.
  2. I love that the 40wt shows the quilting a little better, and it will probably be my choice to quilt wholecloth quilts, especially when I want a strong contrast.
  3. I will, of course, keep loving to quilt with 50wt, and am now thinking about expanding the uses of the 50 wt (beyond the appliacations for which I already use) for tone-on-tone micro-fillers in a wholecloth settings, and for accents here and there.
  4. You already know I am not a fabric hoarder!  BUT I have to confess I am somewhat a thread hoarder.  I love threads more than I do fabrics.  AND…. discovering the 40wt and 28wt is not helping me with the thread hoarding issue.  HELP!
  5. Now, if you are a beginner — I encourage you to still quilt with the 50wt, until you are more comfortable in moving your quilt sandwich before you try the 40 wt and 28wt.  I think when you are still familiarizing yourself with domestic machine quilting, you will be happier with the very forgiving effects of quilting with the 50 wt.

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So you see, looking back, I loved quilting with Aurifil Mako 50wt threads. And looking forward, I will still love quilting with the 50 wt, but I will now add 40wt and 28wt in my quilting tool box!  I call that my “machine quilting growth spurt!”. :)

Thank you for stopping by, Dear Friends.  Happy Monday and Happy Week to you!

Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #65

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Hello Friends, I am happy to share with you a “faux” long-arm free motion quilting motif that I have quilted on my latest completed quilt.  I am going to show you how “quilting off the seat of one’s pants” works out in real life using a piece of paper.  The goal is to fill the paper with the motif — exactly like how we would quilt an allover quilting motif on a quilt.  So, first let’s look at the progression of filling up a space with quilting motifs, starting from #1.  The different colors denote different repeats of the motif.

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So, here you see I “quilted” #1-9 with not much of any abnormality.  I do want you to note how I always have my “starting” swirl of each repeat going a different direction — as much as I can — that gives the overall effect a sense of movement!  I also want you to notice that the leaves aren’t in any particular shape as long as they taper inward, as well as the filler swirls I use to fill up some open space that is too small to fit another repeat of the motif.

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I sort of quilted myself in a corner at #9, and have no convenient to get out to fill the remaining open area.  No big deal, cut the thread, and find a convenient spot to start again.  Thus #10 and so on, until an entire area is filled up.

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Here is what is on paper transferred to a real quilt looks like on the back of my latest completed quilt…

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Curious what the quilt looks like on the front?  I am afraid you have to wait.  All I can tell you is that my husband loves the quilt.  He has great taste, because he…. married me!  HAHA.  Please note I am totally cracking a lame joke at that one!  Alrightie, I shall catch up with you later!

p.s.  You may click here for my other Thread Talk posts.

FREE PATTERN: Flutter B’s

Hello Friends,  Happy Monday to you!  I wish you a lovely week ahead.  Very quickly, I want to share with you another free-to-use pattern to start off our week: Flutter B’s designed with Benartex’s Butterfly Effect fabric line.

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Click here to view the entire fabric line.

Click here to download the pattern instructions.

I freely admit to you I have a thing for pinwheel blocks.  I love the sense of movement the pinwheel blocks convey! How about you?  Do you or do you not care for pinwheel blocks?

Thanks for stopping by.  I have to get going with my day.  I shall catch up with you later!

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[My free to use designs from previous years are listed under “FREE PATTERNS” on the side bar.]

January: A Red Letter Day using Seeing Red (Benartex)

January: Star Struck using Caryl’s Feathers (Benartex)

February: Happy Home House Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

February: Happy Home Runner (Quilting Treasures)

February: Happy Home Throw Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

February: Farmville using Green Farms (Benartex)

February: Zoey’s Flowerbed using Zoey (Benartex)

March: Camp Cozy Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

March: Pretty Little Houses using Tango (Benartex)

March: Ariel (Quilting Treasures)

March: Flutter B’s using Butterfly Effect (Benartex)

Sew in Love {with Fabric} Blog Hop: Novelty Prints

Happy Friday, Friends!  I hope you are well.  My week just flew by this week, and we are looking into a snowy weekend according to the weather forecast.  I am happy to be participating in Sew in Love {with Fabric}’s Novelty Prints blog hop this week:

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By now you are familiar with Benartex’s Leap Frog fabric line…

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… because I have shared about the free to use pattern (In The Pond) here,

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For the hop project, I am sharing a quick pillow storage project to store things for Miss Baby.

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Head on over to Sew in Love {with Fabric} for the tutorial and for leaving comments.  Be sure you check out the other fun projects in the hop as well.  I am turning off comments for this post.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you have a blessed weekend.  I was gone earlier this week — so, it will be a working weekend for me.  Take care, my dear friends!

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Click the following links for my past blog hop participations at Sew in Love {with Fabric}:

Flower Favorites

Going Places

Christmas in July 2013

April Hop

Christmas in July 2014

FREE PATTERN: Sweet Hearts

Hello Friends!  Happy Tuesday to you.  I hope you are well.

I have shared with you a couple of weeks ago Lovey Buggy, a free to use pattern.

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Lovey Buggy uses the red colorway of Benartex’ Luv Bugs collection.

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I am sharing with you another free to use quilt design that uses the multi-color colorway of the same fabric collection.  Come meet Sweet Hearts!  Sweet Hearts would make a super darling quilt for a little one – the size is very manageable, and constructions should be relatively quick as well.

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Click here to view all the Luv Bugs fabrics.

Click here to download pattern instructions for Sweet Hearts.

Thank you for stopping by, sweet friends!  You all have been so sweet and encouraging to me these last couple of weeks.  I greatly appreciate you all!

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My 2014 free to use designs:

[My free to use designs from previous years are listed under “FREE PATTERNS” on the side bar.]

January: Midori’s Place using Gramercy by Benartex

January: View on Lexington using Gramercy by Benartex

January: Everything’s Coming Up Rosey using English Rosey by Benartex

February: Verde (Quilt) by Quilting Treasures

February: Verde (Banner/Runner) by Quilting Treasures

March: Hot Topic by Quilting Treasures

March: Poseidon’s Adventure using Neptune’s Dream by Benartex

March: My Cozy Sweater using Palm Springs by Benartex

March: Wild Kingdom using Sew Rousseau by Benartex

April: Fun with Frosty (Quilt & Runner) by Quilting Treasures

April: The First Thanksgiving (Quilt & Runner & Placemat) by Quilting Treasures

May: Party Poppers using Paintbox/Shadows by Benartex

May: Sprinkled Sweets using Paintbox/Shadows by Benartex

May: Dino Craze using 10,000 B.C. by Benartex

June: Monster Mash by Quilting Treasures

June: Santa’s Sleigh using Starry Night by RJR Fabrics

June: Learning is Fun by Quilting Treasures

August: Lovey Buggy using Luv Bugs by Benartex

August: Hot Little Dish (Wallhanging/Table Topper & Runner & Placemat) by Quilting Treasures

August: Sweet Hearts using Luv Bugs by Benartex

Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #57

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Hello Friends, I hope you are well.  I am happy to share a little more about my “Roundabout Feathers”, as dear friend Joyce calls them.  Joyce gave me her permission to coin the name “Roundabout Feathers” for these fun feather wreaths with a twist!  These feathers are free-hand quilted with very minimal marking, as shown later.

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[Sorry about that little piece of lint in this following picture!]

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SO — you have this open space that is perfect for quilting something feathery!  For this particular quilt, I have A LOT of open space that I needed something feathery…. but I wanted to add visual interest to the feather wreaths, and not have all of them look identical… so I thought off-centered and concentric wreaths would do the job.

First, I looked through my piles of dishes, and found two bowls – one large, and one smaller.  You can decide what sizes work for you – just make sure one is smaller than the other.  And I then trace the circles on the open space.  The circles then form the spines of the wreaths, and are the determining factor of the placement of your wreath.

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The key is to remember the inside feathers of the inner ring MIRRORS the outside feathers of the outer ring, as shown.  You can definitely mark the orientations of the first feather on each ring before you start if the feather wreaths on your quilt are direction-specific.

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Then, you would start filling the outside of the outer ring, and inside of the inner ring with feathers!

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Then, it’s time to feather the inner feathers of the outer ring.

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For the outer feathers of the inner ring, I don’t do “full” feather lobes on some of them just to give the eye a bit of rest — instead I quilt the effect of overlapping feathers, as shown in the schematic.

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I find these roundabout feather wreaths to be very versatile.  I can place them wherever I want on an open space, and I can decide how large or small my rings would be, and thus further customizing their appearances.  I hope you can see what I mean with the pictures of the wreaths quilted in real life that I had shared with you earlier in this post.

I hope you will give these wreaths a try!  Curious mind would love to know what you think of them! :)

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Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you have a lovely week!

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Click here, here, and here to read my other Thread Talk posts on quilting feather wreaths.