Tag Archives: easy quilting

Ask the Panel

11 Mar

I love panel quilts. They allow you to get on with quilting without having actually to make a complicated quilt and they give you scope for experimentation without worrying about messing up a quilt that took hours to piece or wasting time on a bit of calico that you don’t know what to do with when it is finished.

I also once went on a thread painting course that was a bit of a waste of time but when I started to use a longarm I realised that panel quilts were the ideal material to practise on.

On this one from SusiBee I did mostly echoing and swirls because it was one of the earlier ones I did. A few wiggly lines for the water and Bob’s your Uncle.

This one allowed a bit more definition with a bit of thread painting on the icebergs and mountains. It is not dense but it is the same technique.

This one gave a lot of scope for echoing and a touch of thread painting but the next one takes it to the next level. The giraffe is my favourite.

Once you get the hang of the panel the next stage is to make a panel into a quilt with some simple borders in matching fabrics..The same criteria apply in that you don’t waste hours of piecing if it all goes pear shaped but so far it hasn’t. You get a full sized quilt made quickly and very difficult to get wrong. There are no points on these, no misshapen blocks and no running out of fabric on the last block. A word to the wise – always measure the pieces, never just add a strip and cut to size afterwards. You will get wavy borders and they are a real pain to quilt.

Panels help to learn techniques and also allow you to get control of the machine instead of it controlling you which is the way it appears when it is brand new. Try it. It’s much more fun than calico and a lot less nerve-racking than a pieced quilt when you are practising.

Sunbonnet Sue Strikes Again.

7 Jun

For someone who purports not to like Sunbonnet Sue I am again showing signs of inadvertent addiction. I once made two bags using free Sue and Sam patterns from The Quiltery. Later I joined their pattern club when it was a very reasonable price and two of the downloads were the same Sue and Sam but more of them. (see this link).

So far I have appliqued ten blocks to make two quilts. They are fun and easy to do and I think they turned out well.

See what you think.

DSCN3136 DSCN3137 DSCN3138 DSCN3139 DSCN3140 DSCN3141 DSCN3142 DSCN3143 DSCN3144 DSCN3145Now I just need to work out what to do about their faces. The sideways ones are fine but I think too many blank stares could cause nightmares amongst the young.

Anyway I am working on the rest of the top in my dungeon so pop back another day if you would like to see the results. I’m on a roll so it shouldn’t take too long. After all housework is not good for the soul, only the conscience.

I used the fabric I dyed myself and put into a blog last year.   I find it much easier to get variations whilst tying colours together using a fabric with lots of shades and patterns in different densities.

 

They also do matching embroideries. (see this link.)

Here is one I did earlier.

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Crazy for Butterflies.

9 Apr

I needed to make a quilt for a king sized bed. Making the top was not a problem but what about the cost of having it quilted. My little quilt frame would not even look at it and even if it would my albeit semi professional machine would be working on minus inches by the time the whole thing had rolled up under the arm. The only thing to do was quilt as you go. I have never done one of these before but never let it be said that I would let a little thing like that stop me. There has to be a first time for everything.

First I did crazy patch squares using strips of butterfly fabrics on a sandwich of backing and cotton/polyester wadding . Having chosen to go with a butterfly theme I was going to do some reverse applique butterflies but decided that it would either make or break the project. With my luck it would be the latter. Instead I experimented with embroideries.

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Once I had drawn myself a rough plan of which colour went where to prevent adjacent duplicates it was a doddle. I had sewn the blocks into sections of two rows of eight blocks. The whole quilt was to be eight blocks by eight blocks so I had four sections. the added bonus was that as the blocks already had three layers no stabiliser was needed. It also meant that there would be butterflies the colour of the bobbin thread on the back.

I made my rows and sections by joining blocks with narrow sashing. The sashing is sown to both blocks right sides together on the back.

 

 

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The front is only attached on one block right sides together.

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It is then folded over and either hand or machine stitched on the right side. As life is too short and too filled with future quilts I used a fancy machine stitch trying to keep it parallel with the edge. A straight stitch would have been a nightmare keeping it neat on the back.

DSCN2948I used quilting thread.

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I hooped the quilt sections and embroidered butterflies. I could have embroidered the butterflies before constructing the strips but this way I could get nearer the edges of the blocks but that was just my preference. I don’t like things too ordered.

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Sew all the strips together, add a wide border to match the sashing and Bob’s your Uncle.

As an extra little touch I stitched butterflies all round the border using Sulky Solar thread. This means that at night a row of luminous butterflies lights the room. Who needs a night light when you have luminous butterflies.

I thought I might try making some baby quilts with luminous embroideries. they will either provide the comfort of a night light or produce mildly confused children. What is life without a little experimentation?

 

Monkey Puzzle Solved and the End of Christmas.

18 Jun

Just an update on the projects featured in the last post.

And  this one.

I had completed the alphabet monkeys for what was going to be a cot quilt. I obviously took my eye off the ball and having put it together with a set of 25 patch blocks, realised that it was a bit on the long and thin size. The only way to proceed was to make it into a full sized quilt for a single bed.

This I did.

DSCN2598_450x600Some Detail.

DSCN2605_600x600   Yet More.DSCN2607_600x600

And again.DSCN2608_600x600

Not my usual colours but I think they work quite well.

At the same time I was finishing ‘Chrissie Down Under’ by McKenna Ryan.

I can’t say I am as thrilled as I hoped by the completed wall hanging but at least it is finished.

I think my conclusion is that she does animals and birds very well but the Santa and the Cat don’t quite work. The problem with her patterns is that it is not easy to find a large picture of the finished quilt to see what it will look like.

I did use satin stitch round all the appliques rather than the suggested straight stitching with a poly filament thread. At least I can wash it without it falling apart.Mind you my all singing and dancing newer Pfaff refused to have anything to do with the multiple layers of fabric and glue. Whilst it was sulking I dug out my original Pfaff bought in 1985 and I have to say that it is far superior to the one I bought to replace it when the motor gave up. Nothing to do with the fact the original was made in Germany of course. (sarcy face emoticon) Luckily I decided that the small amount of money I was going to be charged to have a new motor fitted was worth it so I now have my old machine back and this quilt was able to be completed. What I will do with it I am not sure. We may have to move house to get higher ceilings.

DSCN2591_450x600 I love the detail on these birds.

DSCN2592_600x286Fiddly but worth it.

DSCN2593_600x306These may be my favourites.

DSCN2594_600x397This bird presented the biggest challenge with its layers of feathers.

DSCN2595_559x600See the detail.

DSCN2596_252x600Kangaroos and pelicans.

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As I sit posting this I can hear music from the village green. Every year Polperro has a music festival so every afternoon there are a couple of bands performing and then lots more in all the pubs in the evening. The Big Cheese and myself even took in a spot of chamber music on Sunday.

The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of Chrissie Down Under.

6 Dec

I have finally started my Mckenna Ryan quilt. I think the one I have chosen – Chrissie Down Under – is probably one of the better ones for my purpose. It is a personal opinion but, art quilt or not, I cannot get my head round the idea of not actually sewing the shapes permanently onto the backing. The advice is to vacuum rather than wash but I guess that depends on how long you intend to use the quilt and, in the case of the Christmas one, whether it will suffer from storage or sticky fingers. I had ideas of ignoring the instructions and satin stitching the pieces on but there are so many layers on some of the pieces that I fear my Pfaff will rebel as it always does given too much bulk to deal with. I think the main problem is the layers of glue from the fusible web but whatever it is it may scupper my plans.

I would also say that these are not patterns for a beginner. This is not because they are complicated, although they are. If you have the determination and the discipline to practise and a modicum of common sense then I think most things in applique are possible. My main contention with this , and presumably her other patterns, is that they are printed on both sides of the pattern sheet. This may not seem a problem if you have not tried tracing them off but if, like me, you like to use a lightbox, it is very frustrating. It is not as if they are cheap and there is therefore a need to save paper to save money. It is not impossible to trace the pieces off but it is unnecessarily frustrating trying to sort out what is the outline of the piece being traced and having to turn the light box on and off in order to determine which side of the pattern it is on. As such it might put a beginner off applique in general.

Despite the above I have just spent a pleasant couple of days tracing and fusing  blocks, at the same time  listening to  the new J.K. Rowling on my iPod. Whilst this would not be any good in the tradition of Dunbar of Catch 22 fame who liked to stay as bored as possible in order to live longer, the combination of the two makes the day fly past. Luckily this is not a problem as I have so many quilts still to make that I will have to live for ever in order to complete them or die in the attempt.

Here are the first three laid out ready to stitch. Having traced the shapes and fused them onto the various fabrics, if you follow the numerical or alphabetical order of the pieces they are actually easy to construct.

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I have not bought the fabrics recommended for the quilt partly because I have far too much fabric already and partly because I want to put my own stamp on it.

I will post the rest as I do them and show what method of attaching the shapes to the background I adopt in the end.

Having a Masked Ball

1 Nov

Aren’t these just the bees knees? When I saw them over on Tiramisues  blog I just had to have a go. I survived  30 years in Africa, amongst  other places and whilst there were a couple of close calls and not all the memories are happy ones, I have always had a fascination with some of the artefacts, particularly masks and I am always looking for different embroideries so these definitely appealed. I don’t think they are all necessarily African masks but that matters not a jot.

If you do any amount of machine embroidery you will know that not all digitisings (is that a word?) are equal. Some stitch out beautifully and some, what can I say – don’t. These particular ones come into the  category of ‘beautifully’. They start with a line of stitching which frames the design and  in effect tacks the fabric to the background.

This was an added bonus for me because it meant I could hoop stabiliser and float the fabric on top without worrying about it moving during the stitching.

This meant I didn’t need such a large piece of fabric because I didn’t need to allow for the hooping nor did I have to work out why the machine was telling me the designs were bigger than they were. (It was telling me an untruth.)  It also gave me a use for the absolutely ginormous hoops that came with my machine. Having had them for over two years without using them I was glad to find they aren’t wasted. The frame is literally just a tack down and it is loose so that it can be removed after stitching.

The  colour charts look as if they have lots of colours but in fact you can use as many or as few as you like. I averaged about 5 colours but you could really go to town on the psychedelics if so inclined. If you have never done any machine applique before it may appear a bit daunting but all you have to do is read through the charts before starting and all becomes clear.The charts supplied make it easy to understand.

I used the diagram printout produced by my software to trace pieces roughly the size needed but as long as the fabric  covers the trace line stitched for each shape it doesn’t really matter unless you are trying to preserve fabric.

For each applique shape the pattern stitches an outline onto which the roughly cut fabric piece is then placed. You can see the stages in the chart above. Look at the main head shape and you will see there are four stages to its completion. The first is to define the shape, the second to stitch the fabric in place the third defines the path the satin stitch will take and the fourth is the satin stitch itself.

Defining the shape.

Placing the fabric.

The fabric is then trimmed close to the line, preferably with a pair of duckbill scissors like these. They make the trimming so much easier and with less likelihood of snipping the threads. This is obviously done without removing the fabric from the hoop as you need it to stay in the same place, although you can remove the hoop from the machine to make it easier.

Trimming.

Ready for Stitching. Ignore the fact it is a different mask. the same principles apply.

The next stage may be the satin stitch that fixes the piece permanently to the background or this stage may be done later with other satin stitch, depending on the design.

I did a test firing so to speak to see how the designs and colours work so I used roughly the same colours as the originals so that I was only worrying about one thing at a time. I shall probably end up doing several versions now I have the measure of it. If you want to see how they all look on a plain background go over to Tiramisue’s blog  (link in the first paragraph above) or her Etsy Page where you can see the whole range and buy the designs if you want to.

This was the first one I tried with a plain background on a stiff fabric so that all conditions were ideal.

Isn’t he a handsome fellow.

Closeup of the stitching .

I have done the rest on a print to show a different way.  I chose a fabric that reminds me of the threatening sky of a tropical thunderstorm. I kept the black for the base of the masks to stand out from the busy background.

Here is the first one with the tacking frame still on. This could be a good guide to square up the blocks too. The design allowed for another piece of fabric in the central part of the design (see the chart above) but I decided just to outline it with satin stitch. With the blue one with the big horns  below I have added the extra layer of  purple fabric.

Here is a close-up.

An even closer up showing the ”beads’ on the alternative version of this mask.

Some more

Imagine the fun you could have making a wall hanging and adding beads and jewels and 3D bits and pieces.

If you fancy a set of these as pictures or a wall hanging or quilt you can get the designs  from Tiramasue’s  Etsy page.

Check your hoop capabilities as they are all large designs.

Here is the finished article.

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

25 Oct

When my family go travelling their suitcase interiors stay sparkly clean. This is due in part to the bright idea thought up by Daughter Number One several years ago. Shoe bags are the secret weapon. In fact they are not only for shoes. I use them for anything that needs to be protected or from which other things need protection. Ergo undies, laundry items, shoes, hair dryers and straightening irons, belts, books etc etc etc. Between DNO, DNT and myself we made hundreds . They are very relaxing to make and rather fetching when finished. DNO visited this week and while she was choosing a selection to sell in a local hotel we came across some appliqued but not finished.

These are not like the sock monkeys I have been appliqueing. These are individually traced, pieced, fused and machine appliqued without the aid of a digitiser. They are a labour of love and I thought you might like to see some of them.

This is my favourite style. Whilst we do not ever do two exactly the same I do rather like this one and so a few have been made in this style with different fabrics.

The Same but different.

Interestingly with three of us choosing styles and fabrics the shoes come out as shoes we would probably buy if available. DNT did quite a few of these and this one is definitely her style.

I rather like this boot.

This is another of my favourites.

This one is appropriately of a dance shoe as the idea originally came from a dancer for use by dancers.

A bright trainer.

Lots of strappy sandals.

Mustn’t leave out the men.

I also made a couple of quilts at one time. Not that I’m obsessed or anything.

I designed quilt patterns to add to the patterns available on my web site.

Remember when you are ooohing, aaahing and why?ing that these are original patterns made with loving care.  Pattern pieces produced by Spotty Chicken, pieced by Bird Brain and appliqued and finished by Speckled Hen. (Don’t ask) They really are quite addictive. If you would like one they are on the website. If you would like to make your own but would like some top notch patterns with which to do them, why not buy a quilt pattern and that will give you six applique patterns suitable for shoe bags as well as a quilt pattern. That’s Christmas sorted. Clever eh!

Monkeys From The Emerald Isle.

6 Oct

I decided to divide the monkeys from my last blog into two sets, boys and girls. Conveniently there are six of each. With the first one I decided to do a variation on an Irish Chain.  If you want to do a traditional tried and tested one see this link for methods .

The link above shows you how to do three different Irish Chains – single,

Double,

Triple.

Mine used 10″ monkey blocks (cut 10.5″) and 2″” squares (cut 2.5″).

Note if you are changing the size to suit your blocks – you need to start and finish with the same row. e.g the blue one above starts with two plain and three nine patch on the first row and the last row is the same. If you don’t do that the pattern will not be complete. The same goes for the patterns across. Symmetry is the key to success. As I had 6 boy and 6 girl appliques I had to do another one as I needed 7. Rows 1, 3 and 5  – 1 applique, rows 2 and 4 -2 appliques. I chose one from the jumbo summer collection as the nearest thing to a baby. He looks as if he is wearing a babygro.

Over all I was quite pleased with the result . I have done a different but still simple version for the girls. . The appliques have enough character of their own to carry the quilt.

Introducing the boys.

Here’s the extra little chap.

Here is the centrepiece.

And again.

Some more quilted monkeys.

The label using one of the plain embroideries in a small size.

I have finished the girl quilt too but you will have to wait a while before I show you.

Now – Designs by Juju have brought out a sock monkey applique alphabet. There is no hope for me. I have lots of ideas on using this so watch this space.

There are Fairies at the Bottom of my Stash Box.

21 Sep

Being a bit of an  afficionado of Loralie Designs, when I saw some of her ‘Very Fairy’ panels on sale at a discount I had to have some. Then I couldn’t decide what to do with them so they were put away with the other UFO’s. This week I finally had another look and decided that I must make something with them. I am not a fan of framing a panel and leaving it at that, it seems a bit like cheating so I had to do a bit more.

As you can see, the basic panel comes with four figures at the bottom. I cut those off and all the little flowers and shoes and appliqued them on after I had stitched borders round the central panel.

The basic panel.

Cut round the figures for applique.

Choose fabrics to match.

Fix to corners with fusible web after the borders have been applied.

Satin stitch around the edges in matching colours.

A bit of a session on the quilt frame and ‘Hey Presto’.

I rather took a shine to the Very Fairy l embroideries too so I did a few of those. If you want one and can’t be bothered to do it yourself have a look at my web site on the Loralie Fairy page.  More to be added in the coming days.  They take a while but I think they are worth it.

Monkeying Around with The Hosiery.

11 Sep

Having been inspired by a link to Ladybelle’s web site and the fabulous sock monkey quilt featured there and given my obsession with machine embroidery I had to acquire the embroideries. Having done that I searched the internet for sock monkey fabric to match. There was none in the UK that I could find in a hurry so I went to Christa Quilts over the pond (not physically you understand) who just happened to be featuring some cream fabric in one of her regular  offers.  She also got me again this week by offering the whole range of sock monkey fabric at the same discount. In case you don’t know what the fabric looks like ;

If you want to see the full range of sock monkey embroideries click on this link and prepare to be surprised at the variety of things sock monkeys do.

Harrogate was a much bigger success from our point of view than Exeter. It was completely different in every way and we sold lots of goodies too so we were happy.

You will be pleased to know that sewing all the embroideries was not in vain. They were very popular. I will be extending the repertoire for next year. We will also have lots of new quilt designs.

I now have to try to sort out the stock and find room for it. Whilst I was up in the area I went to Ebor to stock up on fossil ferns. I now have 47 different ones so if you are as obsessed with fossil ferns as I am you know where to come.  nsaaquilting fossil ferns page.   I am still charging the old price despite several price rises and I have the brightest colours.

I’ll keep you posted on the sock monkeys. I just have to decide which to do first.