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.

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My 2 cents: Accurate piecing

Would you like a whole quilt top with your seams between blocks looking like this?IMG_4217

I came up with a nifty trick while working on my Teething Rings quilt.  I found the secret to having the seams match up in this type of block configuration: marking at the seam intersection prior to sewing!  I hope the following sequence makes sense to you.

I mark with a Frixion pen because the markings disappear when I press the seams with a hot iron after piecing.  I wrote about my initial encounter with Frixion pens here.  So I marked 1/4″ at the seam allowance where the seams actually meet — on the right sides of the blocks, not wrong.

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When placing two blocks together prior to piecing the blocks, I folded down the seam allowance on one block to check if the seams met nicely for both blocks at the intersection point, as shown.  The lines marked previously should match up with each other.

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Here is another view.

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Pin the pieces in place after you are happy with how the seam intersection looks.  Sew carefully with an accurate 1/4″ seams allowance (as accurate as you can possible get it), and voila, you have seams that meet up very very very nicely!

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I want to thank you for indulging me while I share my recent “revelation moment.”  I should dearly like to know all your tips for accurate piecing.  As I don’t fancy piecing, I can use all the tips and tricks I can learn.

Thanks for stopping by.  Do keep warm and safe for those of you who are experiencing the wintry inclement weather.  HUGS to you all!

My 2 cents: Template Piecing

It’s funny – I really do not enjoy piecing!  But when I do piece, I like all my points to match up, at least appear to do so.  I think it’s the researcher (my job in my former life) in me that comes out when dealing with precision in my piecing.

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Yesterday I asked you about your thoughts on template piecing.  I appreciate you leaving your thoughts on template piecing in the comment section of yesterday’s post.  Quite a few of you have written and asked how I go about doing my template piecing.  Here goes…

1.  Since 99.9% of my currents quilts are designed on the computer first, I get to print off the templates on paper.  Technically I can then transfer the shapes onto a piece of craft plastic.  And then, I would use pencil to trace the templates shapes onto the back for a fabric piece…. BUT I am a little paranoid about my pieces not being precise as I would like.  You see, it probably doesn’t really amount to anything (I am sure it really doesn’t in the grand scheme of things), but I feel like tracing with the pencil around the plastic template will add just a minutely teensy weensy of excess compared to just cutting the shapes right on the edge of the shape.

So, the very short answer to the question of whether I use plastic sheets to make my templates is “no”.  I use the template as printed on the paper, as shown.  The picture shows my paper template before the first cut.  You will see the actual template shape (solid line), seam allowance (dotted line), and that I just rough cut around the seam allowance.

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2.  Then, I attach pieces of tape on the backside of my paper template.

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3.  Then I place my paper template on the fabric that is pressed nice and smooth before hand.  The tape will temporarily hold down the paper template while I cut out the fabric piece to shape.

Now, remember I said I prefer to cut my fabric right on the edge of the shape… you see that solid line that is highlighted pink?  That is the RIGHT ON edge of the shape with which I will base my cutting.  I don’t go by that seam allowance dotted line when I cut.

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I line up my ruler RIGHT at the 1/4″ seam allowance ON TOP of the template edge, and cut my fabric piece.  In other words, I trust the 1/4″ on my ruler a little more than I trust the 1/4″ printed on the paper.  No, I am not saying the 1/4″ seam allowance printed the paper isn’t accurate, but every so often, maybe because of the paper being pull through the printer, I do detect a very very very slight discrepancy.  I figure I trust my ruler’s 1/4″ mark when I rotary cut anyway, might as well use that same idea for template cutting my fabrics too.

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4.  And then, I duly cut my fabric piece to shape (and getting rid of the excess paper from my rough-cutting the template shape).

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And I cut all my pieces that way for this particular block.

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I make my blocks (lots of them!), and sew them together… and am really happy with these points where the blocks meet!

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Please know that my way of doing things is by no means the way to do things.  I am definitely interested in your take on things – as we all know, there’s always something new to learn in quilting. :)

Thanks for stopping by.  It’s back to work I go…

Bury to secure…

I have received emails asking me if I bury my thread tails when I start quilting, or I would stitch my stitches tiny and then clip the threads close to the quilt.  First of all, I always pull my bobbin thread up before I start quilting.  The way I do it is I would use my left hand to tug on the top thread while I use my hand to move the hand wheel to bring the needle down and up.  By doing that, your bobbin thread should emerge as a “loop” through the quilt top, as shown.

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I always start and stop my quilting by stitching really teeny tiny stitches before moving on.  Now, depending on time constraint and the type of quilt, I may or may not bury my thread tails.   If I am running late and I know that I have stitched my starting and ending stitches closely enough, I would go ahead and just the thread tails.  But I always bury my thread tails whenever I can – I think the threads have less of a chance coming undone.

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Here I am showing how I bury my thread tails.  First I run the tails through the eye of a needle:

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Then, I poke the needle through right at the starting of my stitching, and bring the needle through the batting (BUT NOT THE QUILT BACK) and back up at a nearby location on the quilt top, with the thread tails in tow.  I tug on the thread tails a little more before snipping – that should get those tails out of sight and out of mind.  No one would even know the thread tails are under there…

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The buried thread tails would either be quilted over by subsequent quilting, or just be entangled in the web of batting fibers.  They should stay where they are… at least that’s my experience.

So, how do you secure your quilting stitches?  I should dearly like to know.

p.s.  My whole family is under the weather this week.  So, you probably won’t hear from me unless it’s something urgent and requires immediate attention.  With Quilt Market being so close, I do NOT need to be getting sick. :(

FREE PATTERN: Tied With A Bow

Happy Friday, Friends!  I am going to take advantage of the last few days of the month of July to squeeze in a few more “Christmas in July” posts.  Without further ado, here is a free downloadable pattern Tied With A Bow – designed with A Gingerbread Christmasby RJR Fabrics.

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Click here to download the pattern instructions in pdf format.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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Are you enjoying my other free patterns released this year?

January: Mediterranean Dream (Quilting Treasures)
February: Butterfly Kisses (Quilting Treasures)
March: Pumpkin Patch using Autumn Fauna (Benartex)
March: Floral Linda using Catalina (Benartex)
April: Forest Floor using Wildflower Wood (Lecien/Lynette Anderson)
April: Nature’s Harmony using Silent Harmony (RJR Fabrics)
June: Simply Sweet using lief!Lifestyle (Quilting Treasures)
June: Birds on a Wire using Let’s Tweet (Benartex)
July: Silver Lining using Urban Oasis (Benartex)
July: Rooster Royale (Quilting Treasures)

FREE PATTERN: Birds on a Wire

Happy Friday, Friends!!  I hope a fun and restful weekend awaits you.  You have seen sneaky peeks of this quilt…

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Now, I am most excited to show you the quilt in its entirety!  My Birds on a Wire quilt uses one of Kanvas/Benartex’s new fabric collections, Let’s Tweet.  Click here to view the fabric range.

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The actual quilt made an appearance at Spring 2013 Quilt Market at Portland, Oregon.  Following is a “sighting” photo from Spring Market:

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[image source:  Benartex Facebook Page]

I hope you will enjoy making this fun horizontal strip quilt, if you are going to make the quilt. This quilt design is offered by Benartex as a free-to-use pattern.  Click here to download the pattern instructions.

Thanks for dropping by!  I will catch up with you on Monday!  Be good! :)

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p.s.  Have you taken advantages of the other 2013 freebie patterns I have shared with you?

January: Mediterranean Dream (Quilting Treasures)
February: Butterfly Kisses (Quilting Treasures)
March: Pumpkin Patch using Autumn Fauna (Benartex)
March: Floral Linda using Catalina (Benartex)
April: Forest Floor using Wildflower Wood (Lecien/Lynette Anderson)
April: Nature’s Harmony using Silent Harmony (RJR Fabrics)
June: Simply Sweet using lief!Lifestyle (Quilting Treasures)

Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #49

thread-talk1Don’t feel like making 9-patches?  Don’t worry, just quilt them!  [Do make sure in this case the length and width of the block are divisible by 3 for the 9-patches.]

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Using the same concept, I have also quilted the outline of applique shapes on blocks for extra visual effects when I don’t feel like actually doing the applique.  You can click here to read about my “mark without marking” method when quilting the applique shapes.

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Easy peasy, isn’t it?  I hope this gives you more ideas on “what to quilt” on your quilts!

Thanks for stopping by!  I shall catch up with you tomorrow.

FREE PATTERN: Flora Linda

Happy Monday, Friends – especially all the Linda’s out there who expressed a liking a few weeks ago for a sample I was making named Flora Linda.

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The fabrics are from Benartex’s Catalina collection.  Click here to view the full range of fabrics — check out the fabrics in the very pretty chartreuse colorway too!  Fabrics are slated to arrive at shops in April.

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I can finally do the big reveal —

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Click here to download the instructions to make this quilt.  I hope you will enjoy making Flora Linda.  Do send me pictures of your finished quilts.

Have a great week ahead!  Blessings to you all.

Sightings of Queen Anne at…

…#1: Fall Quilt Market 2012, Houston Texas!

[image source:  http://www.facebook.com/Benartex%5D

#2:  the back of Fons and Porter’s Easy Quilts, Winter 2012

Here are a few pictures I took of the quilt sample before it was shipped to Houston.  Again, my piecing fairy Sherry McConnell pieced the quilt top for me.  I did the quilting.

The pattern instructions for this quilt are available for download in pdf format.  Click here for more information.

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

Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #42

Dear Friends,  I hope you are doing well.  Life has been sort of a blur for me in the last few days as I worked to meet a few non-negotiable deadlines!  I had heard from some of you that you were not able to leave comments on my Cottage Chic Christmas quilt.  I am sorry about that.  I am not quite what was wrong.  I am guessing whatever it was, it was temporary on WordPress’ end.

Here is a snapshot of one of the three quilts I had shipped out in the last week or so.  You can see that it is quilted feather wreath, but with a lighthearted informal feel.  My feather lobes don’t all look the same in size or style.  They almost look like they are up to mischief or something – which is not totally outrageous in light them being quilt on my Monkey Business II quilt there! :)

You will see what I mean by comparing the previous photo with  this next one.  Since all the feathers are the same size, the feel is more uniform and more formal.

Moral of the story:  Experiment with the sizes and styles of your feather lobes to achieve different looks.

Thanks for stopping by!  I will see you again tomorrow, hopefully.

TUTORIAL: Simple Life Pillows

Happy  Friday, Friends!  WOW – you ladies are simply great!  I loved reading through the comments you left on yesterday’s post with the following picture.

The picture is actually part of a bigger picture, and the bigger picture is shown below.

I shared a tutorial on how to make these pillows using Riley Blake’s newly released line The Simple Life on Riley Blake’s Cutting Corners College blog.  Head on over there for the instructions by clicking here.   Click here to view the full range of the fabrics.

This imagery presented in this fabric line is poignant to me because of it speaks of the philosophy we strive to practice in raising Miss Baby — simplicity and innocence.

We have worked to keep life simple for Miss Baby before life gets complicated for her. Hopefully, she will always look back at her childhood with fondness.

I hope you will have fun making the pillows.  I plan to use up the rest of the panel blocks to make a few more pillows to add to the existing two.

I had mentioned yesterday my “hovering” little lovely assistant.  You can see exactly what I meant in the following photo:

And with that, I wish you all a lovely weekend!

p.s.  Sorry for this late post… I wanted to wait for my tutorial to properly show up on Riley Blake’s Cutting Corners College blog before making the announcement.

Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #41

Rebecca had asked for a Thread Talk post on how I had quilted the feathers on these quilt sashings a couple of weeks ago…

And so, here goes!  The diagram below shows a quilt center.  Beyond the quilt center are two white and one red sashings.  The white sashings will be our quilting area.

So the way we way we will treat the quilting scheme is that the red sashing becomes our “feather spine”, and we will add feathers on both sides of the spine (i.e., the white sashings).  This is a free-hand exercise.  You will have to be pretty comfortable with the stitching path of feathers.  Click here to refresh your memory.  The way we are feathering the sashings all around is actually an extension of the feather wreath I had talked about here.  Instead of a circular feather wreath, we will have a square (also applies to rectangular) feather wreath.

So, we will start with a partial feather since we are free-handing the feathers in the outer sashing, and will be “winging” it when it comes time for the last feather to meet this first feather– click here to see visual illustrations.  The doubly-darkened stitching path denotes stitching over previous stitches to get from one feather lobe to the next.

So, we would just be filling the area with feathers, one after another.  There’s really nothing to watch for when feathering the outer sashing, unlike the inner sashing.  More about that later.

We have now come all the way around.  You see we are coming up against the first feather out with which we started.

Now we are ready to feather in the inner sashing.  I would start like I did in the outer sashing, and feather like normal.  Until….

… I come close to a corner.  You will need to miter your feathers – you will see what I mean.  For this, I could draw a line at the 45-degree, or just place a piece of paper at the 45-degree spot to avoid having to draw.  The 45-degree line shows the boundary of my feathers as I near and before I turn the corner.  So, the feathers will decrease in size, and will start small once the corner is turned before increasing in size again.  This is one crucial thing to be mindful of when feathering the inner sashing.

Here you see how the feathers look in another corner in the inner sashing.

And here we are, coming against that first feather…

And here you see the sashings all “feathered up”!

That’s all there is to it.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to know what to quilt on sashings.  I have found the feathers dress up the sashings rather nicely. :)

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope my Thread Talk post helped jumpstart some quilting ideas for you.

p.s.  Please know that I am not ignoring, or blowing you off – I have been extremely busy, and have had only about 7 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours.  I still have lots to cross out on my to-do list.  I do hope to visit or email you back soon.