Tag Archives: quilt pattern design

The Cheapskate’s Way to Unique Applique.

28 Nov

You may have noticed that patterns are expensive. They are also not always what you would choose. For instance, suppose that your child likes a particular character from literature or TV. You may not be able to get a pattern for an applique of same but you can probably find a colouring book. How obvious is that and how many people never think of it? I never have used this method but I’m considering it.

The other day I was browsing in a local shop that sells a lot of end-of-line  and remaindered stock and I found a  colouring book featuring snowmen. It is a bit late for this year but I will be making at least a snowman themed wall hanging  next year. In theory I could do it  now but I have a queue of UFOs and  refuse to allow a new project until at least some are finished.

This  book is ‘Colour with Frosty’ from www.holland-publishing.co.uk . This particular book is no longer on the site (probably why it was reduced) but there are lots more. The best place for cheap books is one of the remainder shops like The Works. If you want a closer look than the internet affords they have a store finder from your post code   and you can go along and grab an armful.

There were lots of other animals; bears and penguins for instance but these are the ones I have chosen on the snowman theme.

The Book – I am not sure  it is the actual Frosty the Snowman but that’s what it says on the tin so I’ll go with it.

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Unless you are a McKenna Ryan fan choose pictures with large pieces and no fiddly bits. Having said that, if you see something you really like and it has lots of fiddly bits, have a go. I use the satin stitch method of attaching my appliques and I have not yet found anything too difficult, small or fiddly to deal with (even McKenna Ryan). In fact she has a beautiful new quilt with snowmen too. Have a look. If you like kits her fabrics are lovely.

If you need instructions on applique have a look at the ‘Tips and Tricks’ page on the heading at the top of this page. There are several applique projects with the basic how tos.

One note of caution. The books are someone’s copyright. If you use them for yourself I cannot see there would be a problem, although I am no expert. If you try to sell the resulting quilt, in theory you could get into copyright problems so best not to do it.

Dyeing to Show You

15 Feb

If you read my last blog you will have seen my first attempts at dyeing fabric. Since then I can’t stop myself. I have dyed a fabric in every colour I bought and some in more than one. Behold.

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I have also started using them in my applique.

This one makes for rather a busy background but you can’t deny it’s colourful.

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You may remember I used some similar fabric in a quilt I made featuring dragons. In fact it was this fabric that started the interest in dyeing my own.

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close up of fabrics.

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In case you were wondering about the clowns, they are from my new quilt pattern. It will be published as soon as I get the time to sort out the printing.

Here’s a preview.

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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!

Sock It To The Baby

12 Oct

As promised in my last blog , herewith pictures of the quilt with the girl sock monkeys. Both quilts come from appliques demonstrated in the blog before that. I divided them into two quilts. These links have links to the original digitising pages.

I decided to keep this one simple too. The appliques have enough character and a design that was too complicated might take away from them. I stayed with plain 2.5″ strips and used the leftover bits for the second border and binding. ‘Waste not, want not’ as my Mother never used to say. It is also nice and bright as only parents like pastels. Babies like bright, stimulating colours. For those that hate matching seams there are a lot less of those to contend with too.

To finish it off –  the label for the girl’s quilt from another Designs by Juju design.

The label for the boy’s quilt.

If you compare the boy’s quilt you will see that it is possible to get two entirely different quilts from the same basic designs.

 

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.

Getting All Your Ducks In A Row.

26 Sep

I was trawling the internet mainly to see where links to my blog had come from when I came across yet more inspiration from a fellow crafter. Vicki’s Fabric Creations had a blog on a quilt made from embroideries by Embroidery Connection. They are called ‘Sweet Pea Duckies’ and are irresistible to anyone who likes ‘cute’.  As I believe in sharing here is a link to the page in case you would like to try them too. In this blog I will show you what I produced and how.

If you are not keen on the colours ignore them. The originals are digitised in Marathon threads and I use Madeira so they are largely my interpretation with a bit of help from a thread comparison program. I have never yet found one of those that is accurate.

I also did them on normal patchwork  fabric and they didn’t pucker – not always easy to achieve.

There are ten of them. Have a look at the links for the rest.

I had a bit of a problem in that I was supplied with the wrong colour charts but a quick email put that right, which is perhaps all you can ask. I only mention it in case you might have the same problem and need to know how to solve it.

I always use a piece of fabric bigger than the required block size as embroidering and pressing often distort the block from perfectly square. I then trim the block to size with my trusty cutter/ruler which is a bit easier than a pair of scissors and a lot safer than a separate ruler and rotary cutter. Being accident prone I was very pleased to find these on an Australian visit and I have found a source in the UK after much trawling of the internet and I now have some spares in case they disappear again. I looked for a couple of years and finally found them by accident. It  is amazing how difficult it is to find things on some websites even if you know they are there and I didn’t know where to start.

My first mistake was changing the style of quilt after I had already finished the embroideries. This meant that I had 11″ blocks when what I now needed was 12.5″ blocks. I  got over this by adding a frame,  taking the final size of each block to 12.5″.  I needed an extra 1.5″ total which equates to 3/4″ (0.75″) on each side plus seam allowances of an extra 1/2″ (0.5″) each making each strip  1.25″. Just don’t forget the seam allowances and don’t panic. There is usually a way and  If not you change the design yet again. It is rarely an unmitigated disaster.

Pin and sew them in place with the usual 1/4″ seam. The sides will be 11″ each and top and bottom 12.5″. However, do not assume this, always measure at each stage. Seams are not always accurate.

The ducks are sewn together in threes across giving two rows of three so we need something to join the rows together. I used 2″ squares.

To achieve this you need to cut 6 different strips each 2.5″ wide. I needed to cut two of each for the complete quilt.

Three of the coloured strips.

Join three together twice then cut into 2.5″ strips again. I chose some colours from the duck embroideries to draw together the borders and the embroideries.

Yes the colours are the same but I don’t exactly have studio conditions for my photographs.

Join together 18 of the strips, alternating the colours and using a pin to keep the seams aligned until sewn.

Make three sets.

The rows of ducks are then enclosed in the three sections of squares.

I decided that the next border should be the same blue and the same width as the sashing round the ducks, again to bring the bits of the quilt together. Makes it a bit easier on the eye.

I then did different sized borders using other colours from the squares.

Quilt.

Bind and finish.

Blue Dogs, Green Birds, Pink Rabbits and a Game of I-Spy.

3 Aug

I have finished two more UFO’s this week. If I am not careful I might run out. I am getting the hang of the quilt frame now although I have decided that there is not really any scope for imaginative quilting. The space available is too small. I need to come into some money to buy a long-arm setup but as I have no rich relatives ready to leave me their worldly wealth I guess it won’t happen. That being the case I am getting to be a bit of an expert at meandering. I don’t have too many problem stitches these days but I have also discovered that washing the finished quilt evens up the stitching in the antiqueing effect. It also makes sure that all the years sitting in the UFO pile in various dusty locations are washed away leaving a clean fresh quilt. It has the added advantage that you know how it will look when it is washed.

The first was originally a BOM by Kookaburra Cottage. This link will take you to the BOM page on their site and lots of lovely examples of their particular style of design. I have loved them since the first one I saw. They are a bit pricey as a pattern which explains why I make more than one from each.

Little Macca’s Farm

Someone once told me I should label my quilts. Nothing looked right but then I got an embroidery machine and I have never looked back. Just give me an excuse and I will make a label.

The other quilt is an alphabet quilt. I wanted to use up all the charm squares of children’s fabric I had accumulated. Looking at it again after all these years I see that I made it into an I-Spy quilt of sorts too.

In case you are wondering how I achieved the ‘wonky’ effect, wonder no longer. Starting with the top of the centre square attach a strip of fabric to the edge. Attach another strip down the right side onto the new shape. Then the bottom, then the left side. You now have an ordinary upright  block bigger than you need. Make a template the size you want the finished block then place it onto your straight block at any angle desired and cut off the surplus with a rotary cutter. Easy Peasy.

Mustn’t forget the label.

The monkeys are from Oregon Patchworks on this link. There are lots of variations on the monkey embroidery. This one is an applique but there are some straight forward embroideries on the same theme.

Let me leave you with another set of views from where I live.

View Towards the Beach

The Beach

The Outer Harbour

Mr Cool and the Bag Lady

26 Jul

I have been having a bit of  an embroidery fest.  For weeks I don’t do any embroidery and then I churn out a whole pile of them in a couple of days. This week it was Loralie Designs and also a designer called Gretha Botma from South Africa. Loralie designs are funny and whimsical but there is a bit more earthy reality about Gretha Botma’s Ruby. I will be working my way through the Ruby collection in the next few weeks and will post as I complete them. It is a bit of a challenge as I work with Madeira and sometimes Sulky but these are done in a different range. I have been lucky that most embroideries I have wanted have been in Madeira and as I have the full range it means I don’t have to fiddle about trying to decide what colours to use. One thing I have realised is that there is not really such a thing as a substitute colour in another range. For that reason the following embroidery is done in two sets of colors.

See what I mean? The darker one is done with the colours suggested by a substitute chart. As it was nowhere near the original I changed a few colours. The over blouse is a bit more convincing but perhaps I need to work on the hair. Anyway you see my problem. There are also a lot of colours which is not too much of a problem on a one needle machine if a little time consuming. On a multi needle machine it requires a bit of maths and sometimes a spread sheet. What we do for our art. I suspect the original picture was a drawing or painting that was then converted into stitches, thus the intricate shading. The results however are rather satisfying .

At various timesI have changed the colours on Loralie designs but to be honest unless there is a particular reason to do so they are perfect as they are.

Mr Cool

The Bag Lady

Serious Shopper

Sophistishopper

Charlotte

Norton Brown

Blue Daisy Dancer

I have done lots more. If you want to see them have a look at my web page at this link for the ladies or this link for the men.

They make unusual front pockets for bags. I have made greetings cards with a few crystals and I have used them as blocks on quilts. Very versatile.

Jeremy Fisher and Friends and Another Vanquished UFO.

21 Jul

This week I have been finishing a quilt based on frog fabric. I actually bought the fabric in  a shop in Trinidad. There’s a bit of name dropping for you. Before you go  green with envy, we went at Easter and it was closed. The only highlight was the revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel. It was a good job we went as there were not too many other people there.

As I finished it I realised that it wasn’t the only frog related item I had made over the years. I once made a quilt and matching bag based on the Peter Rabbit stories. As it wasn’t needed after all I still have it so I took a picture of the Jeremy Fisher alphabet block in faux cross stitch.

Also on the matching bag in normal stitching.

I also, at some time made a couple of frog characters when my Daughters were small. I don’t think anybody actually used them for anything but I haven’t got as far as the charity shop with them yet.

With the quilt as background.

Relaxing on the day bed.

He looks a bit miserable.

This one looks startled.

 

 

I also did some embroideries for a ‘Rainforest’ quilt that  I never somehow got round to. He is particularly fine.

Now for the purpose of the blog – the quilt.

As you can see it is a very easy pattern. Each small square is 2″ (2.5″ before seams) making 10″ finished and each frog square is also 10″ . The border of each square is either 2″ (2.5″) strips or 2″ (2.5″) squares. Add  2″, 1″ and 4″ borders and bind. How much easier could it be. As long as you watch your seam widths and match the seams it cannot fail to look good.

I think I may be getting the hang of the quilting frame. The size  of quiltable quilt on the frame at any one time is still frustrating but at least I can do a good job as long as I plan it. There are times though when I would love to do a really big design. Not,I fear something that will happen in the absence of a win on some game of chance. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath blue in the face not being an attractive look.

See this tip on one of my other posts for the ‘how to’ on seams.

I had occasion to make a wedding  anniversary card this week. If you are interested the embroidery comes from Emblibrary.com. under ‘Tweets’. There are lots of different ones. You need to scroll down about 5 designs then you will find all the different tweets. There are patriotic ones, boy scout ones, golf ones, birthday ones etc etc etc. As usual the digitising is faultless.

I decided to change all 15 needles on my embroidery machine yesterday. They didn’t appear to be a problem but some of them had been in rather a long time so I didn’t think it could harm. I was quite impressed with myself. They are usually a pain but once I had loosened the screws I managed to get them all in without a hassle. The reason they are a pain is that the shanks are round so could go in any way except that they can’t or they don’t work. The difference between front and back is obvious if you can see the thing but bionic sight would be an advantage. The screws were the problem. I had been working on the basis ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ but the tightness of some of the screws made it obvious they should have been changed before. Still, hopefully they should be fine for a while now. After all who needs a working wrist.