Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Machine appliqué - a tutorial

Wendy from Snippets of a Quilter graciously posted a tutorial on her favourite hand appliqué method a while back. I was intrigued, as I did use a similar method for machine appliqué but I would glue my edges down around the freezer paper template. Once I had sewn the block to the background, I would have to wet the block in order to remove the templates.

If I used starch, I felt that the freezer paper was not sturdy enough for me when I ironed the edges over the template. The paper would often curl from the dampness of the starch. What I decided to do for this project, wanting to master the "no block wetting" method, is test 2 (two) pieces of Reynolds freezer paper ironed together. Because paper shrinks with heat, I iron each sheet separately prior to combining. Make sure your ironing board is clean of debris, otherwise be prepared to use fuzzy paper. lol

For this method, I prefer using my rotary cutter and ruler to cut the freezer paper. I just seem to cut the paper straighter this way! ;o) I'm also certain that they will be similar in size when I iron them together.

When I need the same shape repeatedly for a quilt, I'll make a sturdy master template.

I'll trace the shape on a single sheet of freezer paper, roughly cut out the shape and iron onto a cardboard. I tend to use Strathmore Bristol Vellum for this. It's thick enough to provide me with good pencil support while allowing for easy cutting.

Once your shape is cut, you can either remove the freezer paper or wait for it to fall off on it's own, which is what I tend to do! lol

I will label my master template with a B for back as well as the dimensions I need for cutting the freezer paper. I always seem to forget what size I should be cutting that freezer paper! lol

I iron the cut 2 layered freezer paper template on the wrong side of the desired fabric. Cut out the excess fabric, leaving approximately 1/8 to a 1/4 inch all around. I prefer to over estimate and trim later.

When I'm ready to prepare the shape for machine appliqué, I'll trim the excess and do the necessary clipping of valleys etc, if required.

Using an artist paint brush, I will apply a light amount of starch between the edge of the ironed template and the seam allowance. I have a paint brush that I use strictly for this method. I find that a good quality paint brush is worth every penny. It makes it easier to control the amount of starch you apply, avoiding soaking your piece.

Whenever I use starch, I cover my ironing board with a piece of muslin. This way I don't have to worry about an excess build up of starch. It's a lot easier for me to throw the protective cover in the wash then to take my ironing board cover off.

I use a Clover Iron Mini Iron II "The Adapter" to iron the seam allowance unto the template.

Word of caution, it gets hot!

Once, I mistakenly left it on and it burned a hole on my ironing board cover. I find that if I keep the control setting midway between the center and "high", it's plenty hot to iron a crisp edge. I found this out yesterday when it left a burned mark, yet again, and this time I hadn't forgotten about it!

Any iron can be used for this method, just make sure you turn the steam setting off so that you don't steam your fingers! Ouch!

When you remove your freezer paper template, this is what the edges of your shape will look like. By the way, the template can be re-used for another block. I just keep using it until it decides not to stick anymore!

At this stage, I will use a regular iron to continue pressing down the edges. It makes it easier for me when I have to deal with the right side of the piece.

Once well ironed, I turn my piece over and iron it flat. This way I make sure that my edges are crisp. It also allows me to ensure that the piece lays flat. Funny, every time I look at that photograph, I panic thinking I've got to get the iron off my fabric! lol

I will then transfer my shape unto the desired background.

You can either pin or baste glue the piece unto your background. I find that glue baste works better for me, there is less shifting. I tend to use Roxane Basting glue or Elmer School glue. What ever glue product you use, please make sure it's the washable and acid free kind.

In this example, the appliqué piece is pinned and you can see that it doesn't lay completely flat.

On the back of my block, I use a water soluble stabilizer called Aqua Magic Dissolvable Stabilizer. This helps me avoid any puckering that might occur while sewing. The product is designed for machine embroidery but I like to use it specifically for machine appliqué. It is fully dissolvable and leaves no residue. Do not iron your piece with this stabilizer on the back, the stabilizer will shrink from the heat/moisture.

note July/2008: I no longer use a stabilizer behind my applique work. As long as you do not tug or pull, there will be no puckering.

I'm using the Bernina appliqué foot number 23 that I bought out of curiosity. It's a multi purpose foot, in that it can also be used to sew small pipping.

I like the way the foot applies an even pressure across the edge of my appliqué piece. I did use my stiletto to make sure that the fabric was properly aligned for the stitch as this piece was pinned. Hum.... hence why I like the glue baste better. There seems to be less shifting for me.

For machine appliqué, I like to use the blind hem stitch on my Bernina 1090 Stitch #4 and on my Bernina 180 it's stitch #3 - Vari-overlock stitch and mirror image. The zigzag and stitch length were both set at 1 (one).

An open toe embroidery foot (#20 for Berninas) will work just as well for machine appliqué. The open toe makes it easy to see where you are stitching. I haven't decided yet if I'll keep using the #23 or switch back to #20 foot. Time will tell!

As for thread, I like to use Mettler Fine Embroidery thread. It's a 60 weight cotton thread and available in an array of colours. I match my top thread to the appliqué piece. In the bobbin, as much as possible, I use a thread that matches my background. The colour light grey is a good forgiving colour for most light backgrounds.

I hope you enjoyed my first tutorial. I had fun writing it. If you are on the market for an excelent reference on machine appliqué, check out Harriet Hargraves book called Mastering machine Applique: The complete Guide. I'm sure there are other great references out there, I am just pleased with this one and haven't looked for others.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a great day every one!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nothing like starting something new....!

Today I thought I would give you a sneak peak at what I've been working on. Yesterday, I decided to turn my sewing machine on, it's been a while since I sewed, and work on some blocks for this new quilt I'm making.

The pattern is called Blue Bird by Crab Apple Hill. I have begun hand embroidering the blocks that will be part of this quilt.

I'm really proud of myself because I used left over fabrics from the Cotton Candy D'Antan quilt to make the 9 (nine) patch blocks. I am not an efficient scrap usage quilter at all. As a matter of fact, my scraps rarely gets put to good use except for the occasional applique piece and donating fabric for rag rugs, which by the way, I need to get rid of a bag of 2 1/2 inch strips. So you can see that these blocks are quite an improvement for me!

Since all of my patch blocks are sewn for this quilt and what remains are the stitchery blocks, I thought I would start yet another new project. Yes, I know, but I just couldn't help myself. It's so much fun to start something new. I have a list of "quilts to make", in my head ;o), from the numerous books I own. Some, I have even purchased the fabrics and this is one of those projects.

The pattern is called Hearts and Bows from the book Romantic Quilts ... from Australian Patchwork & Quilting Magazine edited by Laurie Bevan. Since I do not need another hand project, I thought I would machine appliqué the blocks.

Today I spent the day getting all of my fabrics together for the project. Yes, I did take a peak in my scrap bin for some fabrics, I've got to bring that heap down before it invades my sewing room. lol I also worked on refining my machine appliqué method. Oh..... and I bought a new machine appliqué foot, number 23, and I wanted to try it out! So far so good!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

MQX ... the last day!

Saturday morning, I once again took classes all day. My last class ending at 3:00 p.m.

I do want to tell you about one of the classes I took with Sally Terry. What a wonderful teacher she is. The class was called Instant Fills and Meanders.

If you haven't picked up her book Pathways to Better Quilting, I strongly suggest that you do. It's a must in a machine quilter's library.

She breaks down machine quilting patterns into 5 shapes, and from these shapes you create the various designs that make up your filler or quilting pattern.

I was so ecstatic when I saw her class in the catalogue, I just had to take it. If I had to walk away with only one important piece of advice that came from her class (and they were many, she freely shares her knowledge and experience) it would be "work your mistakes in, make it look as though you planned it that way". That somehow took a load off my shoulders. It removed the fear of making a mistake and having to croak! lol

I suppose I should talk about my purchases. I mean, I cannot go to a show and not buy anything.

As you can see I didn't pick up much in terms of goodies. I tried to stay reasonable despite Superior Threads offering their products close to whole sale. I mean, not that I didn't want to buy anything related to quilting, it's just well, I think I felt self conscious financially.

You see, I did make a huge expense while at the show. I'd like to place the fault on Vicki and say "she made me do it", but I'd be fibbing. No, Vicki did not make me do anything, she was a great support.

I suppose I should get to the point! I did test drive many longarms. Yes, I was very impressed with the A-1 Quilting Machine, it's a smooth running machine. But, that's not the one I bought. I bought the APQS Millennium with extras including the hydraulic table! Oh, I CAN blame the hydraulic table on Vicki! lol

Now, can I blame the longarm purchase on Sue Patten? lol No, but she was a factor in my decision. She is an amazing woman, full of energy. You bet I'll be taking classes with her next year, if not sooner.

Some have asked me how I based my decision. For one, I did my research and without getting too spiritual, I based it on my feelings. APQS just felt right for me. Couple that with wonderful people at the booth, and it was a sell for me. Mark Caraher was tending the booth the whole time, he's a great person. I tell you the energy was wonderful. I tear when I think of my purchase experience. I know, I get emotional at times! lol

The next day I went to the booth to ask about something, you know how your mind sort of shuts down when you've made such a purchase. Questions come up the next day. The lady there was very supportive. I watched as the sales people interacted and it felt genuine.

So there you have it, my first longarm purchase! I am so excited, I can hardly stand it. Delivery date is around mid July!

Thank you for stopping by and sharing this new joy with me! I hope you have a wonderful day!

ps: Picture of Sue and I graciously provided by Vicki W. Thanks again Vicki!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MQX the fun continues...!

Friday I took a classes all day! What a day! I tell you I was exhausted by the end of my third class.

The first class was with Linda V. Taylor and Cheri Meineke-Johnson. They brought with them the quilt "don't worry, be happy" . What a magnificent quilt!

The class was called From Start to Finish. What a hoot Cheri is. She is hilarious!

She demonstrated her hand applique techniques. She has quite a repertoire of tools that she uses to assist her in her creative process and not all come from the quilting world.

She likes shopping at a hardware store for quilting gadgets and enjoys rummaging through her DH's tool box.

Did you know that she loves monkeys? She actually has a pet monkey!

Afterwards, Linda took over the lecture and demonstrated on the longarm her creative process for machine quilting. They used a smaller wall size version of the "Don't worry, be Happy" quilt. Linda makes it look so easy!

After the class they raffled the sampler. It's up to the winner to finish it off!

I was not the lucky recipient of the unfinished quilt but I did win this book by both Cheri and Linda. Works for me!

They were both quite generous with their prizes. There were a few Crystal sets and lots of other goodies. It made it exciting, waiting to see if your ticket won!

My next class was Is there Life after Stippling?, which I took with my friend Jennifer. We had a blast.

Linda worked on a project that was designed for a class on the website The Quilting School. She demonstrate how she goes about deciding what to machine quilt. I tell you she makes it look so easy.

Again, the sample was raffled and won by a lucky student. Jennifer won the DVD of the Artistic Freedom class. Lucky for me she has offered to let me borrow it.

My last class with Linda was called In the beginning. It was a basic class on longarm, how to set up a quilt etc.... It was quite informative. When I was trained at the Gammil dealer (Cowles) the individual had told me that I had to measure from center onward and both sided had to be even. You can just imagine how much time that can take to get it perfect. Add the $15.00 an hour to that and you're stressing to get it just right. Well, Linda doesn't do that. You square up your backing and batting, baste and add your top working in the "off" areas to make it square. I just learned so much!

I won this template/ruler in this lecture. I tell you the generosity was unbelievable. The repertoire of prizes/gifts were phenomenal.

I had an amazing time on Friday. Of course by the end of the day I was in a vegetative state! lol

Thank you so much for stopping by. Your comments mean a lot to me.

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

MQX ... what fun!

I decided pretty much at the last minute to head off to Machine Quilters eXposition in Manchester, New Hampshire. What started as a 1 (one) day trip ended up being a 3 (three day) affair. What a great show it was! I am definitely going back next year!

I drove to Manchester Thursday morning and quickly registered in. They give you a bag full of goodies and a name tag. Gotta love those name tags! You never have to worry about forgetting names, including your own! lol

I spent some time test driving various longarm. MQX is the place to be to learn about the available longarms/midarms on the market. I was quite impressed with A-1 longarm. It's a smooth running machine. Didn't seem fussy at all with threads. They had one model running on metallic thread. You should have seen that baby go! It preformed much better than my embroidery machine! lol

I met up with Vicki from Field Trips in Fiber . What a wonderful soul Vicki is. She graciously sent me pictures to share with you as I had forgotten my camera. Isn't she just the sweetest? I had such a great time.

We had lunch and pretty much shopped till we dropped. I tell you, that girl can shop! lol She reminds me of Sharon. lol But, I definitely spent more money than she did. ;o) But, I'm jumping ahead of myself...!

I met lots of wonderful people. I tell you Vicki is a social butterfly and a great person to shop with. She has so much knowledge and freely shares it!

She brought me a hand made gift, almond mango and a shea butter soap as well as lotion. Isn't it pretty! I just love the packaging. The items are sitting on top of a pile of thread. So original! Geezzzz, now I know what to do with my embroidery thread cut offs! lol

She makes her own soap and lotion. I tell you, that girl has more hobbies than anyone I know! So creative!

Thank you again Vicki for meeting with me and sharing your day! You are a sweetheart!

I'm wondering if I should share all of my purchase with you or just drag this topic till the end. Hum....... I've had so little to blog about as of late. LOL

I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm alive .... I think... !

I just came back from a 3 (three) day trip to MQX! I have so much to tell you but I am too tired to write about my wonderful time at the moment, so it will have to wait. I did want to check in and let you know that I'm still here.

I will leave you with a tease. I spent a lot of money! I think my husband had a heart attack!ROFLOL

Keep well everyone!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Afternoon tea!

Miss Marge has finally arrived to the afternoon tea. I say..... she was fashionably late! ;o)

I truly enjoyed working on these ladies. They brought a smile to my face.

On the life front, it has been crazy busy as of late. Many distractions, keeping me away from quilting and hand embroidery.

Today, I barely made it to my Friday quilting bee. DD is having a slumber party tonight and there was so much to do.

Clean, clean clean, it's mud season you know! lol

On another note, I thought I would introduce you to a recent addition, George II also know as Beamer.

Isn't he such a pretty boy?

He's one of my quilt inspectors. He loves quilting so much that he makes his home in my sewing studio.

I recently lost George I a few weeks ago. He had been with me for more then 3 (three) years. He loved music and the humming of my sewing machines. I'm hoping that Beamer will also. He has certainly adapted very well to his new home.

Thank you for stopping by! I'm off to do a bit of blog catching up. It's amazing how quickly I fall behind. Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mud Season.......!

Here in my neck of the woods, we have 5 (five) seasons. The extra one is called Mud Season and it comes before spring.

Dh just gave me a scientific explanation for this occurrence. Of course, he suggested that I blog about it. But, I'll spare you the elaborate explanation! ;o) Besides, if I write about it he'll lovingly remind me that I'm off topic! ;o) lol Basically, it has to do with the type of soil we have, very clay like, and the freezing of the ground. There you have it, mud! Great for making pies, wanna play?

So, you can just imagine how difficult it is to keep a house clean. I mean, not only do I have dh running through the house with muddy boots, but our child, and every body else's children! sigh!

Yea, and as you can probably guess, I love to clean. Yes sir, it's my favourite hobby! NOT!

Just when I thought the snow would melt, we had a snow storm yesterday.

You know what that means? Yep, more mud!

Oh well, such is life in Upstate NY.

Miss Libby has finally made it to the tea party! I just love stitching these girls! They are so much fun!

I'm thinking that I'll forgo Leanna's quilter's journey for a bit and stitch out my Polka Dot Girls! Sort of go with the Darlene and Wendy flow! ;o) Besides, it's always more fun when you do a project as a group.

Aside from mud, not much is going on. I'm just busy keeping up with the house cleaning.

Speaking of house cleaning, I spent 3 (three) days cleaning out my sewing room. I had a need to de-clutter and clean the sawdust. That stuff is horrible! Let me tell you, never, never, ever have your dh's wood shop next to your sewing studio? The dust and noise is enough to drive you nuts! .... but I digress...... Anywhoooo, I recycled a pile of quilting magazines and threw useless stuff away.

I'm really pleased with the way my sewing room looks. It's quite inspirational to go into my clean studio! The only problem is that I don't want to mess it up again! lol Well, I think I'll get over that real soon! ;o)

Hope you all have a great weekend. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

Happy Mud Season!
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