Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Summer Stack Fridays Countdown - Two Weeks!

Summer is a time of traveling and for simply taking things slow. For many of us, it means that we have to close the door to our sewing room, and think about how to entertain those kids, and get as much family time in during the long daylight hours.Sometimes it's hard to find the time to even finish a quilt block, but there is always time to pull together a quick, little stack of fabrics, right?

That's why I wanted to host a #summerstackfridays Link-Up Party - the Link-Up will start July 5th and go through August 30th, 2019... so, unplug that iron because there is no need to heat up your sewing room. Make this summer all about the fabric pull... who is with me? There are no prizes or giveaways, but the link-up is simply about...
  • practicing fabric pulls using your current stash
  • pushing yourself to try challenging color combinations
  • documenting fabric pulls that work for you, so that when summer is over, you are ready to start sewing
  • helping others out that might be struggling with fabric combinations, and
  • simply about being more connected to others in the quilting community

When the Link-Up kicks off, I will be sharing how I personally pick fabrics for a quilting project, and covering some tips that might help you with selecting fabrics for your summer stacks. You'll be able to link up from your blog OR from Instagram. Please be sure to let me know if you will be joining in on the summer fun!

... see you in two weeks!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Find Me in Love Patchwork & Quilting!

Last week was all about secret projects and confessions, and this week is about letting it all out! I've been an avid reader of Love Patchwork & Quilting for quite some time now, and was immediately captivated by its beautiful styling and modern feel, all while staying on trend with the current quilting scene... and now I get to be a part of it with my Urban Paradise applique cushion!?!

Bold tropical leaves and colorful blooms on a fresh, white linen background is just beckoning summer to come. Some of my favorite Basic Grey grunge colors give this cushion balance, while giving it a bit of movement and texture.

You can find my Urban Paradise cushion pattern and instructions in this month's Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine! The Sew Tropical Vibes issue #75 is on sale today!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Confessions of a Secret Agent

I have a new-found respect for the life of a secret agent... trying to live a life of normalcy, but behind the scenes there's enough action to fill movie screens. With that being said, did I happen to mention that I have three patterns in the works... no? hmm, that could be because I was stuck behind the computer screen and everything has to stay under wraps until it's time. Sneak peeks are few and far between, and showing too much too soon might give it all away.

It's no secret that I love applique, but what I really love is the combination of traditional piecing combined with applique... who says you can't have it all, right? Right now my flavor of the month are these elongated drunkard's path units. I find them so much more interesting than their simple-curved cousin. My original plan for this project was to go super saturated in my colors, but I found that I needed to reign things in a bit and bring a little balance into things... thus, more grunge!

... and give me a quilt block, and I'll add a circle to it! Such a simple little embellishment can go so far!?! Don't sit there too long with your coffee, or you might get a dot too!

Believe it or not, this quilt top is finished, and already with the long arm quilter... that way it frees me up to get to the dirty work of pattern writing...  rolling up my sleeves and delving back in. I'll try to come up for air soon!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reverse Applique How-To with Spray Starch

Even though there are endless possibilities with reverse applique, somehow it seems that it is the forgotten method... perhaps for some it's just not a familiar technique, or maybe for others it's just a little nerve racking to cut that hole in the middle of the fabric. Whatever the reason might be, let me show you how fabulous a technique it really is... and that it gets even better when you use spray starch!

This is the current status of my Folk Flower quilt. The block can be found on Creativebug from Anna Maria Horner, in which she essentially uses the reverse applique technique, but per hand. Since hand sewing doesn't even come into question for me, why not use the same approach... but with starch applique?!?

Start by layering two pieces of freezer paper, both shiny side down. Iron together, leaving the steam function OFF. Using a compass, draw a circle in the center of the template, and trim so that there are the same measurements on all sides. For this template, I left one inch on all sides. I'll show you why it is important to do this in the next step. When cutting out the shape, start cutting directly on the line instead of cutting into the template - we'll be using the cut-out for a later step.

Remember how I said that it is important to have the same measurements on all sides? Well, this is because it can be a big help when you are placing the template on the fabric. You can easily measure how far the template is to be placed on the background fabric, so that you end up having the template spaced the same on every block. Place the shiny side of the template on the wrong side of your fabric, and iron in place.

The next step might be a little bit of the scary part for some, and that's cutting a hole in the middle of your fabric. I'm sure we all had those grade school teachers who scolded to NEVER cut shapes out of the center of the paper, but rather from the edges. Well, this is where you get to brush that little voice off your shoulder, and be brave. I usually use about a 1/4" seam allowance.

... and make sure you keep that fabric cut-out, and in all one piece!

For regular starch applique circles, it's not needed to clip along the curve, but it this case it is necessary. Usually you can feel the spots where you need to clip - if it feels like you are having a little resistance for the fabric to wrap around to the back, you most likely need a little snip in that spot. Since I used bias tape on this block, I made sure to cut on either side so I wouldn't have to cut into the bulk.

For the leaf shape, you actually have to make less cuts - just around the rounded part of the template, and in the sharp point.

Begin by spraying starch in a small ashtray or bowl. Wait for the bubbles to dissolve, and using a stiff brush, begin to brush the starch on the seam allowance. If you are unsure about your supplies, then you can read my Top-Ten Starch Applique Tips or visit my YouTube channel.

Use a mini-iron to iron the seam allowance to the back of the template.The starch will hold it it place.

Once you have ironed the fabric to the back of template, you can remove the freezer paper template.

Remember how I told you that you would be needing the center cut-outs from your templates? Well, this is why: Because you can use them as a cutting template for your fabric that will be inserted on the back side of the block. Simply align the cut-out on your selected fabric, and use about a 1/2" seam allowance. Here I use a larger seam allowance to make sure that I can center the shape as I want it.

Use an applique basting glue, apply a thin line along the seam allowance. 

Position the fabric behind the finished opening, so that the fabric is "peeking" through. Once the placement is as desired, iron in place to set.

If there is excess fabric on the back side, trim as desired so that the extra fabric will not be seen from the front side of the block.

There are two ways that you can stitch the block in place: Most of the time I use an invisible thread from Aurifil, and using a straight stitch, sew as close to the edge as possible.

The second way that can be used to finish the block, is to stitch it in place from behind. Simply fold the fabric to the side, and stitch along the pressed seam line. Your thread will not be seen from the front.

Remember how I said to keep the fabric cut-outs from the beginning? This is where you can really bring "waste not, want not" to life - here I reduced the size of my leaf shape, and used the cut-outs for leaves for another project.

I did the same thing for the circle cut-outs, and I really like how they look with the bias tape stripe. I could imagine that these would make a sweet baby quilt, with a good amount of negative space for design interest.

... oh, the possibilies!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Very Berry Applique

After you work so intensively on a project, and the project goal comes and goes, it can be a little difficult to find your way back into a normal rhythm. After returning from Nadelwelt with all my lists checked off, it's been a challenge to figure out what to work on next. I have several deadlines coming up, so what is the best way to get back into your normal flow... work on something completely different, right?

It's no secret that I love applique, but I especially love reverse applique. There is so much potential for this not as frequently used technique. These leaves are actually for three different projects, and since I love the result so much, I had to make a set of blue leaves too... who says that leaves have to be green?

It's that time of year where blueberries are strawberries frequently make it to our dinner table, and evidently they've also made their way to my sewing room too!

I've always loved the looks of wild or mock strawberries... such tiny and petite berries that look good enough to eat. There has been a little discussion recently on Instagram whether or not they are edible. 

In any case, edible or not, this project is still growing and developing. (no pun intended) Just a short and sweet sneak peek for today because it's time to get back on track.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May Day

My favorite time of the year in Germany has to be April/May... it's when the grey veil finally rolls back, vibrant touches of spring flowers have ushered in the season, and fields of gold are to be seen everywhere you look.The golden canola blooms bring with it the beginning of the best meal that you can find in Germany... Spargel! (white asparagus.. read more about it here)

Living in the country means that such color delights for the eye are just at your back door... literally. I told my husband last week that this field, just a mere matter of steps from our house, is too perfect to pass up the opportunity for a background for a photo shoot. And what could make that field any lovelier, but a quilt in front of it... or is it the other way around that the sprawling blanket of gold is what makes the quilt lovelier?

In any case, Nadelwelt is this week, and in spite of the fact that I've been considerably absent, I wanted to share this quilt top that I finished a while back... perhaps more than that, I just wanted to share the view from my sewing room.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

DIY: Pressing Board

Ask any professional, tradesman, artist, or handcrafter... having the right tools for the job really makes all the difference. One of my most asked questions about my applique, is "how do you get the edges so crisp?"... simple, by having the right tools. I've shared a lot about my favorite starches, irons, paintbrushes,etc. for the starch applique method (found here), but one important tool that is not to be overlooked is a proper pressing board.

While one could argue that a regular ironing board works just as well, let me explain why I use a pressing board instead:
  • A really hard surface, combined with the proper starch and a high heat mini iron, really IS what gives the desired clean and crisp edge.
  • The high heat of the iron and the spray starch have a tendency to slightly "burn" and brown your work surface over time and high use. 
  • With that being said, it saves your regular ironing board cover having to be frequently replaced.
  • Re-covering a pressing board after it's been soiled is a breeze!
  • Lastly, it's small and easy to transport.
Have I convinced you now? So, here's what you'll need to make your own pressing board:
  • Cotton Canvas 16 x 20 inches. (ca. 40 x 50 cm)
  • Cotton Batting 16 x 20 inches. (ca.40 x 50 cm)
  • Plywood Board 10 x 14 inches. (ca.25 x 35 cm)
  • Craft Felt Piece 10 x 14 inches. (ca.25 x 35 cm)
  • Staple Gun & Staples
  • Spray Glue

Layer the cotton canvas, then the cotton batting, and finally the plywood piece on top, as shown in the picture above. Begin on the long side of the board and pull fabric and batting to the back side. Tack with three staples. Rotate the board to the opposite long side, pull fabric taunt, and tack with three staples. Fabric should be taunt but not stretched. Repeat steps with the remaining short sides, but do not staple to the end yet.

After all four sides have been secured, pull the corner batting piece to a point, and cut at an angle for a mitered edge. Repeat for the remaining corners.

Continue stapling along one long side of the board, stopping 1 - 2 inches from the corner, and repeat with the short side until there is a small "dog ear" left as shown in the picture below. 

There are two ways that you can finish the corners, and it is simply a personal preference. The first is to pull the fabric down at an angle. The second is to simply fold it over as shown below. NOTE: Some prefer to also cut out the corners of the canvas fabric to avoid bulk, but my preference is to leave the fabric corners in.

Tack the corners in place. Repeat until all corners are finished. Cut any excess fabric as desired.

Finally, spray a generous amount of spray adhesive/glue to the back side of the felt piece. Position it on the back of the board. This prevents scratching from the staples when working on a table or other sensitive surface.

Now you're ready to go! Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for starch applique how-to videos, including tips on my favorite supplies!

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