Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stella for Ella

The Holiday has been a great time to finish some things that have been languishing for lack of attention. For example, I started this little quilt (about 25" X 25") 2 years ago to celebrate the impending birth of my friend's second child, Ella I an ashamed to admit how long it has taken to finish. Ella hasn't started college, so I guess things could be worse.

The piecing got done pretty quickly, but "How to quilt???". While I angsted (is that a word?) over designs, life intervened, demanding attention for other things. After setting this aside many times, this weekend I finished the final stippling around the motifs next to the star, and put on the binding.
Stella for Ella, Front

Stella for Ella, Back
This is my first feathered star -- designed in EQ7, and paper-pieced.

This quilt includes two features that are becoming kind of a signature -- couched Perl cotton thread in the binding (see below) and a narrow inner border with small accent squares. This one was very challenging because the background fabric, despite being a wonderful color and pattern, was of lesser quality and was VERY hard to use in small precise piecing.

NEW DirectionS NEW DirectionS with Noa NEW DirectionS II
I made a lot of notes along the way in a sketch/notebook on which foundations I like best, doodles for quilting, and which quilting threads (and bobbin threads) I used for different parts. Thank goodness! Without the notes, I would probably not have remembered what I was using when I stopped, half-way through the stippling.
Pages from notebook
Detail, showing thread selections
I especially like the cable around the outer border, which was made like our fore-mothers did, by cutting a piece of paper the length of the border, angling the ends, and then folding and cutting like paper dolls. A little spray adhesive and pins held it in place long enough to mark the outline.
Detail of back

Detail of Binding, Front, showing couched Perl Cotton
Detail of binding, Back, showing small zigzag
As usual, I applied the binding entirely by machine. As a finishing touch, I couched down a strand of Perl cotton (probably #5) in the ditch on the front with a very narrow zigzag. This serves to add a nice accent to the front and catches and secures the binding on the back. Here are the steps:
  1. Prepare required length of double-fold binding cut to desired width. For this quilt I used 3 width of fabric strips, cut 2 1/2 in wide and joined with 45 degree seams to reduce bulk. 
  2. Before sewing binding to quilt, test your seam allowance. Different binding fabrics, batting, etc take up different amounts of folds in the binding. Make a small mock-up quilt sandwich of the same materials, stitch on a short length of binding just as you would on the real quilt and see if it folds to the back by the right amount (should come past the stitch line by about 1/8 inch. Use this setting to stitch on the real quilt.
  3. Stitch on the binding, using the seam allowance from above, and mitering corners in the usual way.
  4. Join the ends. This video shows a very easy and accurate method.
  5. Set your machine for a long, relatively wide zigzag, and zigzag over the raw edges of the quilt sandwich and binding, skipping over the mitered corners. This helps firm up the edge to make a sharp, neat edge when the binding folds to the back.
  6. From the back of the quilt, glue-baste the binding in place to cover the stitching line, using Roxanne Glue-Baste or Elmer's School Glue and a fine tip. 
  7. From the front of the quilt, stitch in the ditch (straight) OR couch down yarn or Perl cotton in the ditch with a very narrow zigzag and threads in the top and bobbin to coordinate with the top and back respectively.
Now I just need a label, and I can give this one to its new owner -- at least its done before she starts college.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year...


PS -- Just in time for the New Year, added hanging sleeve and a label. I always make sleeves that are just shy of the edges (for hanging from ends) and have a bound hole in the middle (for hanging from the center). Label is printed on treated fabric with an inkjet printer.

Now its done and can head to its new life.

Thanks for visiting ...


PS Am linking up with Amy

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Coasters or Ornaments

This was inspired by a recent posting on Quilting Daily (Dec 2, 2014: Painting on Fabric: Easy 'Let it Snow' Coasters) which described how to use small, coaster sized snow flake stencils and fabric paint or PaintStiks to make quilted coasters or ornaments (or could be cute little blocks in a larger quilt).

This seemed like a fun project to do with kids (or others that are not quilters). I made a mock-up and took pictures so I could show the kids on my iPad.

Start with a 4 1/2 inch square of freezer paper

Fold in quarters (in half vertically and then horizontally) and then in 3rds.

Draw shapes to cut from the folds. Shading helps remind you what to cut.

Cut away the shapes (could also be hearts, circles, etc)

Open the paper to reveal the 'snowflake'

Center and iron firmly onto a 5 inch square of fabric that will contrast with the paint you will use.

Dab on slightly thinned paint with foam brush or stencil brush (or PaintStiks).

After the paint dries, iron to set and peel off the paper.
We had friends over for a barbeque (we didn't eat the friends, we ate the fish and shrimp) and while the guys were cooking, my friend and I and the two kids made 'snowflakes' on fabric squares. As a Christmas present, I finished them  by cutting circles of backing fabric and batting and using the 'pillow-case' turn method to finish the edges. The original instructions used felt which I did not have handy. This was followed by quilting with walking foot and triple stitch (really stands out visually)  to produce tiny [4 1/2 diameter] coaster sized quilts with little ribbon loops so they could also be ornaments). They turned out so nicely (sorry -- did not get pictures before they were gifted), I decided to make more for myself and experiment with other folding and cutting, other finishing techniques and colors.

I reused my previous snowflake, plus a new one, as well as other stencils.
Christmas trees are easy to make by folding the paper in half and cutting a series of 'moustaches'. The holly leaves were cut folding the paper once, on different angles and cutting a scallopy three sided shape. Instead of white paint, I used Pewter, which has a metallic shine, and a light green.
Contrasting edging is backing fabric wrapped to the front.
Pieces were finished by marking and folding under a 1/4 inch on all sides. Backing was a 6 1/2 inch square of contrasting fabric. 'Batting' is a 5 inch square of a very stiff fusible interfacing like Fast2Fuse Medium, centered on the wrong side of the backing.
Blanket stitching secures edges of stenciled piece.
The oversize backing fabric was wrapped to the front, mitering the corners to create a finished back and 1/4 inch exposed border. The stenciled pieces were centered on the front and fused down, being careful to get the ironed under edges straight and even. A little Roxanne Glue-Baste was used to secure the edges until I could stitch down (blanket stitch). Free motion quilting was used to add a little extra zing.  The 'snowflakes' were done in one continuous line.
Snowflake front
Snowflake back.
This was really fun, and very easy. I like this method of finishing. When you don't have the right color felt, it is not as fiddly as the pillow-case turn with batting, and the result is very stable and really thin. The finished size of these (5 inches) is probably a little big, but other sizes would be easy to figure:

Desired finished size of coaster == X inches on a side
  • Front fabric == X x X inches
  • Fast2Fuse == X x X inches
  • Back fabric == X+1 1/2  x  X=1 1/2 inches

Hope your Holiday is happy and healthy, with time for yourself to relax and reflect on all the good things in your life.