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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
Next, I trim. Layout your pressed and untrimmed HSTs.
Line up the center diagonal line with the 45 degree line on your ruler.
Trim the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mom wanted to go on a mini-shop hop. She mentioned it a couple of times as soon as she heard about the Jingle Bells (??) shop hop. So, we planned it. Since the shops were kind of limited, I suggested that we visit Friend Julie and add Back Porch Fabrics and Hart’s to our shop hop. We spent the night with Julie and went to Back Porch in the morning.
That is a topic for another day. On this particular day, Gail Abeloe, the owner was in the shop and she spent a lot of time being friendly and showing us different things. I know she was in top notch sales mode, but I don’t care. It was great.
One of the things she showed was a new (ish??) book called Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern: Fresh Techniques for Busy Quilters. This really caught my attention as I saw, from her brief demo, how I could churn out more fully completed donation quilts. Gail included an additional handout/tips sheet with the books she sold at her store.
Almost as soon as I got home, I took some of the red and white donation blocks I had been stockpiling along with some leftover batting from recent longarm projects and tried it out.
While I can’t say, I am 100% successful, I only need some practice and refining of the process. I have several blocks quilted and I am in the process of joining them together.
One of the keys is to join the blocks in such a way that you don’t have to applique a join on a block, which I think was how the original technique was explained.
One thing I need to do next time is to make the batting pieces larger and trim them after quilting and before joining the pieces.
It is possible to use this technique along with regular piecing, so I have been making progress on these blocks as leaders and enders while I piece The Peacock. It isn’t a quick process and sometimes I feel frustrated, but I remember I am also quilting the quilt at the same time.
I’d also like to try foundation piecing straight on to the batting – kind of string piecing, but with large-ish strips.
I never heard of this book and will do a review later, but I do hope to have a quilt top done and “quilted” soon.
In my previous machine applique’ tutorials, I used designs where the direction of the motif didn’t matter. When I went back to review the tutorial (yes, I do use my own tutorials!) in preparation for doing some machine applique’. I was preparing to applique’ letters, which have a definite right and wrong way. I realized I had omitted directions for using directional motifs (where the direction of the motif matters, such a numbers or letters) for applique’, so I had to figure out how to do them again.
In order to understand this tutorial, you will need to look at How to Applique’-TJW and the 3 Fusible Applique tutorials (pt.1, pt.2 and pt.3). All of these are part of a whole.
Draw out your design. I used a pattern for the letters I wanted to applique’. You can draw or print your design. There are a lot of free clipart you can use. Since I had a pattern, I laid out the pattern, placed a piece of drawing paper over the letters I needed and drew out the design using a pencil.
Trace over the pencil lines you used to trace the design with a Sharpie. The lines should be dark. Make sure the Sharpie does not bleed through to your table.
Flip your drawing paper over and put it on your light box. You can also tape it to a window or sliding glass door. The wrong side of the letters or directional motif will show through.
Using your Sharpie, trace the letters again on the wrong side of the paper. You will be tracing the backwards image of the letters.
Leaving the paper taped to the window (or laying on the light box), tape a piece of paper backed fusible, paper side UP, over your design which is on the window or light box.
Trace the backwards design on to your paper backed fusible using a Sharpie. **Nota bene: my Sharpie tended to smear on the paper of the fusible. I couldn’t find a pen that worked well, so be really careful to keep your hand out of the way to avoid smearage.
Once finished, remove everything from the window or light box.
Place the fabric you will use for your directional motifs right side down on the ironing surface. The fabric should be sized slightly larger than the fusible.
Place the fusible on top of the fabric with the paper side up. Make sure no edges are over your ironing surface.
Place your applique’ pressing sheet over everything.
Press according to the directions on the fusible package.
Once you are finished pressing, you will have a piece of fabric with fusible on the wrong side. The motifs (letters) should appear backwards and you will see the wrong side of the fabric.
Decide on which scissors you will use. I always have a fight with myself about this. I don’t want to ruin my Ginghers, which are super sharp and great for cutting out detailed types of designs by using them to cut through paper. I also don’t want to ruin the edges of my motif with a pair of papers scissors that will not be sharp enough to cut through the fabric. I have a pair of Fiskars that I end up using for this task. Not ideal, but the best I am willing to do.
Once you have decided on scissors, cut out your designs (letters, in this case). First I do a rough cut, then I cut with more detail.
Layout your background fabric on a flat surface, right side up. I use my ironing board, so I don’t have to move the motifs in order to press. If I have to sew two pieces of fabric together to make a large enough background, I press the seam open.
Take each motif, one by one, and peel off the paper. Carefully place each prepared applique’ motifs in their desired location before moving on to the next one. With motifs such a letters, I use a ruler to make sure they are straight.
You should be able to see your design correctly. If you are using letters they should not be backwards and you should be able to read the word.
Place your applique’ pressing sheet over everything.
Press your applques so that they are stuck to the background fabric.
Set up your sewing machine with the correct colored thread and a foot suitable for zigzag or satin stich.
I set the zigzag to 3.5 (width), 0.7 (density). I like my satin stitch to be a little open, but you can adjust it to your favorite length and density.
Cut a piece of tearaway the width of your motif and twice as long
Fold the tearaway in half.
Pin the double layer of tearaway to the back of the background fabric. Pins should be out of the way of the machine foot.
Satin stitch all the way around each motif, carefully negotiating curves so the satin stitch looks smooth.
Trim and/or tie off all threads.
Tear away/cut away the excess tearaway stabilizer.
The Food Quilt #2 still needs a back. I have been putting it off, because I wanted to applique’ the recipient’s name on to a piece of fabric as part of the back. The idea is to discourage theft. We’ll see if it works.
I had a good chunk of time over the weekend. Thus, I spent most of the afternoon on Sunday preparing and appliqueing the name to a piece of fabric.
I accomplished the job, but it was a really big pain and not very pleasant. I fought with the fusible the whole time. It wouldn’t stick and then it stuck too much. I felt the whole process took much more time than it should have.
The picture (left) is part of the work I did. I am not showing the whole name, because of privacy, but you can see the work.
The alphabet is from a pattern called Critters Alphabet. I like it because it is cheerful and different. I used it on another quilt I made for a nephew. I bought the pattern at PIQF about a zillion years ago and I am pretty sure I saw it there last year. I did a search and found it under a new name, Alphabet Critters.
Next time, though, I might try paper piecing for the letters. We’ll see.
I decided to make the peacock One Block Wonder project. I was really on the fence, as you may have gathered from my previous posts, about making it. I talked about some of my concerns in the last post and had decided not to make it. Things change.
There were a couple of things that made me decide to do it. 1) I was able to find the Timeless Treasure panel on a website. 2) I saw Maureen’s blocks and 3) I really like the colors in this panel.
I was easily able to buy the panel from Miller’s Dry Goods, which I found unexpectedly after doing a simple Google search. The line is fairly new so I wasn’t expecting that it would be available yet. I am still interested in the group of solids shown with the panel, but they are not as important. I think they might make a good addition to the quilt, but I don’t know what the final quilt will look like, which means I don’t know how they would fit in so we’ll have to see.
Maureen read one of my previous posts and brought her One Block Wonder blocks, as well as a piece of the original fabric to show me at the retreat. I didn’t even know she had worked on a One Block Wonder and was very pleased to see what she had done. Pam’s class using a panel seems very different from using fabric, but there are quite a few similarities as well. I was pleased to see how different Maureen’s blocks looked from each other and she confirmed that it is fairly easy to avoid ending up with the same blocks, which adds to the variety of the quilt. We encouraged her to work on her OBW quilt, but she worked on other projects. I would love to see what she does with those blocks.
I do like the colors of the panel. There is no cream, as there was in the other yardage I considered, which is a bonus. I am annoyed at cream backgrounds lately. They look dirty to me.
Maureen assured me, as did looking at her blocks, that the black would not overwhelm the piece. There is plenty of blue, especially turquoise (!!!), in the panel as well.
This is a limited collection for Timeless Treasures and I only bought the panel. If it doesn’t work out, the effort will make a great donation quilt.
I had pretty much decided to skip the One Block Wonder this time. I really like how Pam’s piece came out, but wasn’t sure I could replicate her success with work as interesting or cheerful. I have seen others that are not as nice.
When I saw the fabric on sale I looked at it and really made a conscious decision not to make a One Block Wonder project. I thought really hard about the logistics, time and money required to make the project and decided no, not now. I didn’t like the fabric enough to commit. I took the book back to the library and that was that.
Yay! Done deal. Moving on.
Then, yesterday morning, I went on Instagram and saw a new Peacock range by Timeless Treasures (damn you, social media!).
The colors in the panel are much richer and bolder. The design of the panel is more complex and way more interesting. The motifs are much more stylized and lush. Oh, and, Timeless Treasures, thanks for including those awesome solids that match the panel. Just what I needed. More temptation!
This is another good reason NOT to keep your tablet by your bed.
So, now this idea is back in the thinking pile. Here are some questions for you to answer:
What do you think of the panel?
If you saw it in the store, would you think of me? (since, of course, I am always first on your mind. 😉 )
Do you think a finished pieced piece would be too dark?
I have a lot of Tsukineko Inks. I love the idea of them. They don’t change the hand of the fabric. They purport to be permanent (have not Googled that nor do I have personal experience). They are not too messy and have fabulous colors.
Sadly, I have never had a lot of time to learn to use them or practice with them. Awhile ago, Nancy and I got together one time to try them out. I had fun and was inspired, but I haven’t really had a chance to work with them since. I love them so they have been on my mind.
So, this was an EBHQ workshop and I signed up a few months ago knowing I would be on the East Coast around the same time. I signed up and made plans to be sure and be home by the time the class started.
Then I found out I was on the waiting list.
I was #8.
I had no chance of getting in. I was disappointed. Supremely disappointed.
What else could I do? I moved on. The inks stayed on the shelf.
Then I went on my trip. Practically as soon as I settled into the East Coast I got an email from the workshop coordinator saying I had gotten into the class and needed to confirm ASAP. I couldn’t believe that I, #8, had gotten into the class. That is practically a 50% dropout rate. I found out later that the dropout number was the most people who had ever dropped out of a workshop in recent memory and the most people on the waitlist who had ever gotten into a class.
I was really happy! I RSVPed ASAP and then panicked. Did I have the right colors? How could I know? I wasn’t at home to check. I panicked about it on and off until I got home. Finally, when I checked, I was completely astounded to find that I had all but one of the colors. I must have bought a ‘basics’ kit at some point. It didn’t even matter than I didn’t have that color once I was in the class.
Judy Coates Perez is an awesome teacher and I would take a class from her again in an instant. She is caring, giving and very easy going. She has a lot of extra colors (yes, I bought a few more) and supplies. Since I didn’t really have a chance to buy anything on the supply list, I scrounged a water cup from Peet’s when I got an extra cup of morning tea and bought the rest from her: brushes, etc. Fortunately, the supply list was short and sweet.
The first thing we did was work on getting used to the ink and blending. I wrote the colors down next to my practice pieces so I would know what I had done in the future.
It takes practice.
The technique requires a light touch. Having a light touch, I found is not my strength. I also found that, since I was determined to succeed, that I made an effort to calm down, slow down, be patient and realize that this technique was a commitment and not a sprint.
I really like the slow and careful way one has to apply the inks. It is soothing in a lot of ways.
Once we started in on leaves and flowers, my rhythm was in full force and, though, my first leaf was a little heavy handed, but the practice helped and I got better. I needed to slow down and apply the ink more lightly. I tried to do that with the second leaf. It isn’t perfect, but it is much better.
The squiggly lines are me trying to get a smaller amount of ink of the applicator.
I made a really nice flower. It isn’t as good as Judy’s, of course. For having only worked with Tsukineko inks for a few hours, I was pretty happy with my work. I can see shading and some shadows. I can also see how the blending changed the original tangerine I used for the first coat.
In the afternoon we switched to using paintbrushes. It is completely different and you make the inks more transparent and lighter in color using aloe vera gel (no additives).
I had to get used to a whole new technique, but I tried to take my patience with me into this new technique. The key with the paintbrushes is to have synthetic brushes (boar bristle for oils are too stiff and sable used for watercolors absorb too much liquid) and work in small spaces at a time.
Judy had copies of botanical line drawings and I picked a peony. I didn’t want to get the snail! My neighbor did, however, and she did a really great job with it. Snails, though, YUCK!
While trying to make the ink looks smooth and even, I was also practicing managing the amount of ink I was using. I got better as I went along.
I could tell other people were getting frustrated with the technique and the inks as the noise level grew as people stood up and started to chat. I just sat and worked away at my little spaces on my Peony.
I used Orchid Odyssey for the petals, Thistle for the shadows on the petals and Tropical Lagoon for the leaves. I wanted to something a little different in terms of color and to try out some of my other inks.
Way too early they chivvied us along and got us to pay our bills and clean up our areas. I didn’t finish, but I am pleased with my progress.
The inks get heat set and are permanent when they dry. I learned in this particular exercise to heat set areas once I am happy with them.
I am trying to think of a way to use these inks in my work. I can’t think of anything at the moment, but will keep thinking as I want to use them.
We had a discussion at the CQFA social on Saturday about Workshop projects and how they are not always the kind of projects one wants to finish. There are a lot of variables going into the workshop -the right fabric and supplies, working in an unfamiliar environment, etc. – that conspire to make you learn something, but not always like the end result.
That is not the case with Serendipity Lady. I have wanted to do this design ever since I made stained and leaded glass panels back in the dark ages. Caroline’s workshop at CQFA last spring (?) gave me the means in fabric and the inspiration to make this dream a reality.
The problem was that my piece had so many small pieces that cutting out the pieces straight from the fabric became an issue. I went back and tried a few times and failed – or didn’t succeed as thoroughly as I would have liked. I didn’t want to simplify the pattern and I didn’t want to blow it up larger either. Struggling with the mechanics of making a piece does not make it fun. Finally, I put it aside to mull over.
This was disappointing, because I came home so jazzed about this project after the workshop. Creating is a struggle, but for this one, I just wanted it to work. Sadly, that is not the way ‘making’ works.
In the mulling process, I came up with the idea of making templates for each piece. I was about to embark on that line of thought using the kind of cardstock (tagboard??) I used to use for cutting the templates for stained and leaded glass panels when I had lunch with Maureen and Dolores.
I mentioned my problem to them and how I wanted to use templates and asked their advice. They both immediately went to freezer paper and patiently explained how to use freezer paper to make the templates. I couldn’t really envision the process in my head. It became clearer when they kind of walked me through the process, reminding me to trace the design backwards.
Again, I was really excited so I came home, taped the design to my sliding glass door and retraced the pattern backwards. Then I traced the backwards pattern on to freezer paper and sat in front of the TV and cut it out.
Again, those tiny little pieces were not my friend. At the moment I have them all paperclipped together, but that is only because I keep forgetting to get an envelope each time I go downstairs.
Next I started applying freezer paper to fabric. Then the real fun began. I threw out some fabrics after putting them near other fabrics and the picture really started to take shape. I am not done and I haven’t glued down the pieces yet, but I really had a lot of fun making some serious progress.
My mind is whirling with the possibilities of adding a few beads, embroidering the eyelash, etc. Fun!