La Pass Center Medallions

Kelly Pena, a quiltmaker/sewist also working on La Pass and in the private La Pass FB group, creating a basic and an easy to understand tutorial for making center medallions.  She has kindly allowed me to use her photos for this English Paper Piecing technique. This question has come up a few times in our La Pass group. I consulted with Kelly and said that I would write a blog post using her photos so there would be a permanent link to the information. I have added a little bit of additional explanation to Kelly’s already excellent tutorial.

Tula Pink's Parisville Cameo
Tula Pink’s Parisville Cameo

Our La Pass rosettes require certain sized fabric pieces that correspond to the paper we are using to create various rosettes. We fussy cut the fabrics and make cool designs. Sometimes people want to use a larger motif, such as Tula Pink’s Marie Antoinette from Parisville Deja Vu. This motif would be difficult to put together using the various shapes and pieces. Not impossible, but very difficult.

In order to use up, in this case, the entire cameo and not make ourselves completely crazy, we need more ‘paper space’.

Combine papers
Combine papers

1. Find all of the paper pieces you need (want to use) to make the center medallion. Tape the paper pieces together for the final shape. This can vary depending on the shapes making up the rosette and you can adjust the shape by adding or deleting papers until you are satisfied. You can create quite a large shape.

As far as I know, there is no size limit as the paper will be removed at some point anyway. My gut tells me that you may have some issues with the bias if the pieces are too large. As a result, and, as usual, be careful with the bias.

You can configure the papers into any shape that will work for the fabric you have. I tried this technique on one of the Month 4 rosettes and found it moderately successful. In looking at Kelly’s example above, I should have added the long, thin diamonds to my center in my attempt. I think it would have made the process easier. The concave edges around the center diamonds are difficult and the long, thin diamonds make the edge easier to deal with.

Lay combined papers on fabric
Lay combined papers on fabric

2. Lay the combined and taped papers on the fabric. Adjust the placement until you have the fabric motif you want centered on your papers.

Remember to take seam allowance into account.

You can use a light board or light box** here for more accuracy.

 
 
Cut around paper leaving seam allowance
Cut around paper leaving seam allowance

3. Cut around the template allowing for seam allowance.

N.B.: In the image (left), Kelly is cutting freehand. If you are not confident, you can also use a small rotary cutting ruler**. If you use a ruler, you will need to keep moving it around the piece. In this case, a rotating cutting mat** might be helpful.

Cameo/Center Medallion basted
Cameo/Center Medallion basted

4. Baste as usual. Kelly and I are both using glue for La Pass. I am using thread basting for my Half Hexie Star project. Either method will work with this center medallion technique.

You may find it helpful for circular shapes to cut notches into the seam allowance when basting.

5. Stitch up your new larger piece. The paper shapes used will allow you to sew as if you were stitching all the shapes separately.
 
Thanks, again, to Kelly for allowing me to use her words and photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Obviously, you should shop at local quilt shops, knitting shops or art stores. However, I use Amazon affiliate links. I may be paid for your purchase of an item when you click on that item’s link in my post. There is no additional cost to you for clicking or purchasing items I recommend. I only link to items I like. I appreciate your clicks and purchases as it helps support the costs related to maintaining this blog.

Tutorial: Adding Zipper Heads

I have said before that adding zipper heads to zipper tape is pretty easy. I don’t do it that often, so I always have to look it up. The main tutorial I use is Sara Lawson’s tutorial. Sara provides a ton of detail and I would advise watching it at least once. I am writing a quick tutorial so you can see another version.

Supplies:

Supplies required
Supplies required
Place zipper head face down
Place zipper head face down

1. Place your zipper head face down in your towel holder

2. Flip your zipper tape wrong side up. N. B. This means that both zipper tape and zipper head are facing in the same direction, wrong side up

3. Pull your zipper tape apart 3-4 inches and configure in a V formation

Make a V with the zipper tape
Make a V with the zipper tape

4. Carefully place each end of the zipper tape into each side of the zipper head

5. Push the tape in evenly until you can pull from the bottom

Completed zipper head installation
Completed zipper head installation

Voila! You did it!

In the future you can find this tutorial on the tutorials page.

 

Resources:

    • Natalie from Sew Hungry Hippie has a video tutorial using a jig she sells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*N.B. : If you use a fork, you might want to get one at a thrift store and just use it for zippers rather than using one you eat with.

 

 

**I use affiliate links and may be paid for your purchase of an item when you click on an item link in my post. There is no additional cost to you for clicking or purchasing items I recommend. I appreciate your clicks and purchases as it helps support this blog.

Installing Zippers Tips

One of the things that came up when I was making pouches over the weekend was the zippers. They are always a pain, so I made some changes tot he way I work.

Washaway Tape
Washaway Tape

Because of the video on making an internal zipper pocket, I was reminded of the washaway tape**. I have had this tape for awhile and use it sporadically, but need to be prompted, because I tend to forget about it.

I followed Sara’s directions exactly on the second one, which means that I lined up the tape with the edge of the zipper then pressed the fabric close to the zipper before I sewed. The second one came out much better than the first.

Small zipper foot
Small zipper foot

I dug out a zipper foot that I haven’t had luck with and really worked with it. For the first time I had success using the zipper foot. This was the small zipper foot that clicks on to my machine without the use of any screwdrivers. I was surprised that it actually worked this time. Perhaps I was doing something wrong before.

 

Taping zipper tapes
Taping zipper tapes

Next, the tape at the end of the zipper tape where the zipper opens, e.g. opposite the stop, is loose. Most patterns say to sew the tapes together, which is a hassle and mostly doesn’t work for me. Since the ends would be hidden inside the pocket, I decided that I would try  tape instead of sewing the end of the zipper together. I used regular  Scotch tape and it worked great. I didn’t have to rip out any stitches or deal with a scrunched up fabric and thread nest. It was also fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

**I use affiliate links and may be paid for your purchase of an item when you click on an item link in my post. There is no additional cost to you for clicking or purchasing items I recommend. I appreciate your clicks and purchases as it helps support this blog.

Sewing Pleather

Ripping tissue paper off of pleather
Ripping tissue paper off of pleather

I have complained recently about the pleather I have used for the bottoms of the Ultimate Carry All Bags sticking to my machine bed. I thought of using tissue paper like I talk about in my Vinyl Tips & Tricks post, but didn’t do it until my Mom mentioned it as well.

Finally, when I was sewing the binding on to the exterior and lining, I used some tissue paper. It worked like a charm. I’ll put it in my bag of tricks.

Back of the Pillow Zipper

Zipper inserted in middle of the cushion back
Zipper inserted in middle of the cushion back

As mentioned previously, I found some directions for putting a zipper into the back of a pillow cover. I tried the process and was really pleased with the outcome. It works really well!Not only were Sotak Handmade’s directions clear, but there was room for the maker to make the process his/her own.

I used a smaller zipper than my pillow back and added zipper tabs to make the zipper fit the back. This worked really well and I have nice stops on the back.

I also like this technique, because the zipper is covered, which is something about which I have been wondering.

I am so pleased with these directions and how they worked on my pillow cover. I plan to use them again for future pillows. They work so much better than the overlapping option. Also, this technique is much easier than the Spoonflower zipper in the seam option. There are reasons for having a multiple options and I can see using the Spoonflower method when I have a great piece of fabric on the back.

 

CAYG

I have been wondering how it would be if I cut bags out as I moved through the pattern instead of cutting out all the pieces in advance. Sometimes I just want to start and having to cut feels like a drag. I know it is good to have everything ready so you don’t have to stop to cut, but cutting is such a drag. I have a good system for cutting as I go with quilts, but haven’t quite figured out such a system with bags and accessories. What I really need is a nighttime Workroom Assistant who comes in stealthily at night and cuts for me while I sleep. Of course, that wouldn’t orient me to the pattern.

I recently sewed a Sewing Stand from the Sew Sweetness Minikins  Season 2 and decided that I would cut as I went.

First, I learned that I get oriented to the pieces when I cut them out. I read the first instruction and had no idea what pieces to use. I went to the video to see what Sara (the designer) was doing and finally got it. I think that getting oriented to the pattern by cutting out the pieces is a good thing.

I think cutting the fabric and labeling it ‘lining’ and ‘main’ is a must, but cutting and working with the interfacing could be done as I go.

Second, I found that having the pieces for the first few steps gets me going. It might be possible to be successful with CAYG if I cut a few pieces out, but cut the rest as I moved through the pattern.

Third, aside from the first few steps, I think I can cut interfacing and stiffener as I go along.

I think the problem I am experiencing comes from cutting everything out and then letting the project languish. This is happening with the UCAB. I lose my orientation to the pieces if I don’t start working on them right away.

As a result, I think that if you are not going to work on the project right away, that you should only cut out a few pieces, then cut the rest when you get back to it. If you are going to work on the project instantly, then cut all the pieces out and get busy sewing.

Zipper Challenge

I don’t think I really had a good tag for this post, which means I will probably never be able to find it again. 😉 It is all about zippers.

I am faithfully following the pattern for the Poolside Tote. This is the third Poolside Tote I have sewed.  I am not sure why, but I always have trouble with different parts.

This time I struggled with the facing. I also wondered about the zipper. On mom’s version and on my knitting bag, I just used slip pockets. On this version, I cut zipper pockets, which I didn’t remember. I guess it forced me to make pockets with zippers.

Zipper pocket
Zipper pocket

The directions for the pockets were pretty good. I didn’t have much trouble except for lining up the stitching. One side is hidden, so I leapt that hurdle. The only question I had was about the size of the zipper. The pattern called for a 10 inch zipper and that just seems weird to me. It seems too small. There are holes at the ends and no directions for zipper tabs. Obviously, I can make my own zipper tabs, but I just wonder why the designer asks for such a small zipper. I wonder if a 12 inch zipper would be better?

Are there rules for the size of zippers one includes in patterns??

This is not the end of the world. The zipper works fine and nobody will put something so small in the pocket that it will fall out if the bag falls over. This is just a puzzle about which I am curious. I might try the bag again with a 12 inch zipper.

Another Kind of Chain Piecing

Chain/Strip Piecing
Chain/Strip Piecing

I was working on the Frolic! piecing and I realized that I was doing chain/strip piecing in a different way.

In strip piecing, you put two strips right sides together and you sew up one side. In this case, I had one long strip and a bunch of smaller strips and squares. I lined up the various bits and pieces on the long strip and just sewed. Later, I cut the pieces apart to the appropriate length.

It works and is great, because you can get some scrapiness without as much cutting.

Leaders & Enders Clarification

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a leaders and enders demo I did at my guild. I am not sure if I changed any world views, but it was a good way to clarify the process in my mind.

As I was working on Frolic! this week, I realized that chain piecing and leaders & enders are related, but not the same and thought I should clarify.

Leaders & Enders Clarification
Leaders & Enders Clarification

Chain piecing is where the quiltmaker sews piece after piece without cutting the thread. Leaders and enders are used instead of a thread bunny.

I got used to using leaders & enders when I made my FOTY quilts. It is not really possible with those projects to chain piece. I have to keep the units in an exact order on the design wall. If I chain piece they get mixed up. Thus, I put two FOTY units through the machine and end with an ender. I go press and replace the FOTY combined units back on the design wall and grab two more units. I put this FOTY set of units through the machine, which means that my ender is now a leader. I put another ender through the machine and cut off the FOTY unit and the leader.

In the above photo, you can see me chain piecing. There are a number of Frolic! units after my leader (the white pieces). I won’t cut off the last unit until after I have sewed on an ender. I adjust how I piece depending on the look I want.

As I have said before, you can use anything as leaders/enders. I have used gift bags, bag parts, other quilts. Most frequently, I use pieces for my donation quilts.

The key is to use leaders and enders to improve your productivity.

I have copied the resources below from a previous post. As I have said before, Bonnie Hunter is the leaders & enders queen.

 

 

 

Resources:

Books:

Guild Leaders & Enders Demo

I did a demo at the guild meeting with sewing machine and everything. I created a handout, which might be useful to some of you. I didn’t do a video, but there are some on the web already.

Bonnie Hunter is the leaders and enders queen. She has a number of books on the subject and also writes about the subject frequently on her blog. She also writes a column for Quiltmaker magazine on scraps. Her blog and shop can be found at http://www.quiltville.com

The basic concept is: instead of just stitching over a scrap at the end of a seam, you insert piecing from another project. So each time you start or end a seam and you are ready to snip the thread and press, you sew some component of another project. (Color Girl Quilts blog)

Keys for me:

  • Designate, at least in your mind, a primary and secondary project. I like to have them completely different. Different shapes or different colors or something so I don’t get confused.
  • Work small. Once the project gets too large, it is difficult to keep it in the subordinate position.
  • Keep patches/units ready to go near your sewing machine.
  • I find it easier to work on two completely different projects. Anything with a ¼” seam allowance will work.
  • Having shorter bits of thread between pieces keeps the thread trash to a minimum on the finished quilt. While this might be picky and odd, I sincerely dislike a lot of thread ends handing around a finished quilt.

The point of leaders and enders has little to do with using thread bunnies regularly, but to get more done. Using the leaders and enders method, I get a lot more community quilts finished.

Resources:

Books:

Making HSTs

Some time ago, I wrote a tutorial on making HSTs called The Triangle Technique. After working on my Flying Geese quilt, I decided it was time to update the tutorial.

This tutorial started out after I watched an episode of Love of Quilting where Jo Morton was a guest. Based on what I saw Marianne and Jo do on the show, I tried the technique and was pleased with the results.

For the Flying Geese quilt, I needed 2.5″ finished HSTs, so according to the chart I made after DH did a bunch of math for me, I started with 6.25″ squares. All of the sizes on the chart make 8 HSTs.
Cut 2 pieces of fabric[/caption]

Cut 2 pieces of fabric
Cut 2 pieces of fabric

First, I cut two pieces of fabric,foreground and background, the correct size. Again, you need to download the chart and look at it. I cut my squares a bit larger, because I like to trim my HSTs just to make sure they are exactly the right size. The chart does not take trimming into account. You need to make the starting squares larger if you want to be able to trim.

Next, I drew an X, corner to corner, on the lighter square. Then I put the 2 squares right sides together and pressed them.  I securely pinned the two squares together.

Next, I sewed on both sides of each of the lines of the X, 1/4 inch away from each line.

After sewing, I measured to the center of the X from the side of the square. This measurement is the PLUS cut.

Cut the square in a PLUS configuration.

Cut diagonal lines
Cut diagonal lines

After you cut the PLUS, you will have four squares, each with a line drawn diagonally across the middle. Cut the squares in half diagonally. You can use the line as a guide. It is more important to line your ruler up corner to corner.

The result is 8 2″ half square triangles. You still need to press them carefully open.

Move the unpressed HSTs to the ironing board and press carefully. Use a stiletto to keep your fingers from getting burned.

Lay out HSTs to trim
Lay out HSTs to trim

Next, I trim. Layout your pressed and untrimmed HSTs.

Line up diagonal lines
Line up diagonal lines

Line up the center diagonal line with the 45 degree line on your ruler.

Edges trimmed
Edges trimmed

Trim the edges.

Line up just cut edges
Line up just cut edges

Once you trim the first two sides, line up the 2.5 inch line on your ruler with the just cut edges. Trim the second two sides.

8 beautiful HSTs
8 beautiful HSTs

Now you have 8 beautiful HSTs.

N.B. : The bias edges shouldn’t be scary for you on the regular method, but this method makes HSTs much easier. I think this would be a fabulous method to make a lot of HSTs in a short amount of time. It is similar to a tutorial that p.s. i quilt posted, but times 4. I am planning to try out different sized beginning squares to see what sized HSTs I come up with.

I talked over the math with my DH and came up with a chart showing the different sizes you can make with this technique. This is the updated version and you need this chart to use this method.

This is a great technique to use as leaders & enders.

Links:

  1. Jo Morton website
  2. Jo Morton blog
  3. Jo Morton on Andover
  4. Wet Canvas tutorial
  5. Carole’s Quilting Adventures tutorial
  6. B’s Modern Quilting Fish Tutorial
  7. p.s. i quilt HST tutorial
  8. Previous AQ HST Size Chart

Zipper Tab Techniques

Zipper Tabs in process
Zipper Tabs in process

Does anyone have any good tips on keeping the zipper tabs in place before sewing them? I pull the zipper pull down to get it out of the way of the sewing machine foot, which makes the zipper fabric at the top flop around. As you can see, I have used WonderClips to keep the zipper fabric and new zipper tabs in place so I can sew them. I have tried pins, but the clips are better. It is not ideal but I can’t think of anything better.

I posted to the Crafty Gemini Facebook page and some people had some good ideas: tape, staples and sewing the ends together until they won’t come apart. I am thrilled to have some new ideas. I am not sure why I didn’t think of these things.

What do you do?

To Nest or Not to Nest

I got a question about nesting seams from a guild member the other day. She wanted to know whether she should nest seams or not. Nesting seams has a purpose. You don’t just press seams open because the Modern Quilt Guild or someone else says you should.

Press seams open when you want to reduce bulk. This is often used in garment sewing.

Nesting seams is used to line up your seams. You will get better and easier precision if you use this technique. Caroline of SewCanShe writes on her blog post “Nesting your seams will help you get your perpendicular joints matched up and with practice the intersections will be perfect looking…. most of the time. :)” People say they don’t care if their seams are aligned. I care and so I nest seams unless there is so much bulk that it is impossible.

If you press seams open you are also in danger of developing holes in the quilting process. I press my seams open when I make pieced backs to reduce bulk. When I press my seams open I backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam line to prevent holes.

Sometimes, like in a Four Patch block, there can be quite a bit of bulk in the areas where the four patches meet. You can ‘pop’ the seam to also reduce bulk. Check out the tutorial on how to do this with images illustrating the technique.

I find it easier to get good precision when I put my quilts together using ‘Chunking’. Check out the tutorial.

Resources:

  • American Quilting “Pop the Seams”tutorial
  • Patchwork Posse Nesting Seams and Other Tricks – good information and some pictures that illustrate the topic.
  • Quick Tips for Quilters – nesting seams tutorial
  • SewCanShe Nesting Seams Basic tip tutorial

And many others

 

The creativity posts I have been posting on Fridays will return soon.

EPP Technique

Recently I talked about using the flat back stitch for EPP. I have been using it and finding that it works well. I wasn’t always 100% happy with the WonderClips, however. It is probably the one time I don’t find the WonderClips gripping hard enough.

Taping and the Flat Back Stitch
Taping and the Flat Back Stitch

I have heard that some artists use tape to hold the pieces in place while stitching with the flat back stitch.

I started out with Scotch Tape. It was ok, but I could only use the tape once. Mailing tape – the clear kind – was a little better.

I didn’t have any masking tape, which I think would be the best, so I tried blue tape and it works pretty well. I can re-position it about 3 times before it gives out.

Taping and the Flat Back Stitch - back
Taping and the Flat Back Stitch – back

Still, I am pretty happy with the results. It is easier to keep the stars, or half hexies, in place while I sew.

More Progress on QAYG Donation Quilt

QAYG Donation Quilt - front
QAYG Donation Quilt – front

I had high hopes for this technique as you could probably tell from my earlier post. I am not quite as enamoured of it after struggling to get the top pieced and quilted.

As you can see from the main photo, the top is done. It has batting on the back as I, per the book, quilted the blocks and then sewed the blocks together already quilted.

QAYG Donation Quilt - back of front
QAYG Donation Quilt – back of front

The problem could have been that I didn’t make the batting large enough and then square up the blocks after quilting them. Not that there was anything fatal about that. Quilting the blocks using this method seemed to distort the blocks and that made them more difficult to put together.

I still have to quilt a back on to it, which seems to me to defeat the whole purpose, but who knows? At least it will be easier for the Charity Girls.

This is a donation quilt and, as Frances says, The Muggles Don’t Know. It will still be a nice quilt, if not show quality.

So I am not giving up yet, but I was reminded that anything that looks too good to be true probably is.