Sunday, September 30, 2012

From Poinsettias to Aspen

I love how McKenna Ryan can look at a beautiful Hoffman Bali Chop piece of fabric like this one and see something completely different than I see.  I have started McKenna Ryan's new Christmas quilt Heaven and Nature Sing. This particular aqua poinsettia batik is going to be the aspens in two of the blocks.

 With a little strategic placement, the lines of the poinsettias become the bark on the aspen trees.

I am going about this McKenna Ryan quilt a little differently, I am tracing all the applique pieces for the whole quilt and placing them on the applique fabric and then putting them in zip lock bags for each block. 

After I get all the applique traced and onto the fabric I will cut out the different pieces and assemble each block.  This is my attempt to stay somewhat organized, at least this way I can put away all the extra fabric before starting on the blocks. 

I have also started a little antique applique quilt offered by Gay over at Sentimental Stitches.  She is posting a new applique block every Saturday.  This quilt is called Sally Post Floral Sampler, and the original quilt is dated 1854.  I am doing it just like the picture and am using just four fabrics in the quilt.  The pink and green in the  sashing and the red in the blocks are also used for the appliques with one more fabric, a yellow, for some of the applique constrast.  I have always wanted to do a reproduction quilt using this color pink and this quilt was just perfect for it. I also really like that the applique blocks are set on point.  The applique  blocks are easy little folk art, almost primitive designs, and can be accomplished very easily with a back basting  applique technique.  Because I have another hand applique project going, however,  I am doing machine blanket stitch applique on this quilt.

I am not sure where I started the habit of adding my sashing to blocks as I make them, but if I am making a quilt with sashing like this one, I like to add the top and left side of the block sashing as I piece the quilt.  I will always alter a pattern with sashing between the blocks to this technique, even if there are no alternating color corner stones.  It helps me keep the whole quilt straighter than to put long pieces of sashing between the rows of blocks.

Happy Stitching All,

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September Free Motion Quilt Challenge & a Coupon

The guest instructor for this month's Free Motion Quilting Challenge (from Sew Cal Gal)  is Paula Reid. She has been machine quilting on her domestic machine since the mid 1990s.  Since that time she has quilted 1400 quilts, three quarters of them queen or king size.  Her website and business is  Some of her tips  were to get straight stitches she likes using a straight stitch throat plate and a strong, sharp needle, specifically a Schmetz 12 denim needle.  When she is machine quilting for her customers she sets a timer to take a break every 90 minutes from her quilting.  She generally quilts four to five 90 minute sessions a day.  Her tutorial includes a video on her "Fluff and Stuff Method" and this demonstrates how she handles  queen and king size quilts on her domestic machine. 

So after reading thru her tutorial and watching the video I set up my machine with a Schmetz size 12 denim needle, this was new for me, I have not ever used  a denim needle for quilting.  I have also been reading about quilting with 2 batts,

Hobbs 80/20 on the bottom and a wool on the top for extra "poof" in the quilting, so I wanted to experiment with this also.  Paula provided an 8 inch feathered wreath block from the Stencil Company in her tutorial for practice.  The Stencil Company sells this stencil in 11 and 13 inch size.  They also have given a coupon code for 20% off purchases for the month of September, the coupon code is:  SewCalTwenty.   I decided to transfer the stencil on a newsprint and then quilt thru it.

 This is a very nice feather design for a block and I will use it again.  After I had quilted the design I crinkled up the quilt to start removing the paper (much like you do for paper piecing)

  and then I continued on with some background fill practice.   I  really could not tell any difference quilting with the denim needle, I usually use a 10 or 12 sharp for machine quilting.  I all am not sure that I really got that much more "poof" by using both batts, it looks about the same as when I use a wool batt. 

This was a fun practice piece and as always there were lots of good tips.

Happy Stitching,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Minglewood Lodge - Rustic Elegance

Nebraska quilter and quilt book author (Four Seasons at Minglewood, March 2011)  Debbie Roberts owns a local quilt shop, the Quilted Moose, in Gretna Nebraska.  In association with her shop, in 2010 she built a quilt retreat center named Minglewood.  I had an opportunity to attend a retreat at this beautiful facility this past weekend and wanted to share some pictures.  It is located just a couple miles out of town (Gretna is a small town very near Omaha, Nebraska) in Eastern Nebraska.

While Minglewood is available for family reunions and other purposes, Debbie has many quilter friendly features.  There are cutting stations, irons and ironing boards,

and large tables available for each of the 11 quilters

so no bringing any of those things from home.  (The floor is a heated painted concrete -very cozy and easy to keep control of your dropped threads).
One of the first things you notice is this quilt on the wall,

 it was the cover quilt in the 2007 Quilt Sampler when the Quilted Moose was one of the featured shops.
Debbie told us she wanted to decorate with  a "rustic elegance" style and it shows through out the cabin  (there are 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, the cabin sleeps 11).

We enjoyed the outdoors this lovely fall weekend. 

 Meg brought her quilt frame right out on the front patio.

  The corn field across the road was half harvested,

behind the cabin on a neighbor farm is a vineyard. 

 We had visits from a flock of wild turkeys who were just ambling up the gravel road outside the cabin. 

 We also frequently saw deer crossing the property.  It was a great weekend.  I was able to get my Ladies of the Sea 9pattern by Sue Garman) center blocks framed, sewn together,  the first border completed and added to the center.  

 I was new to this quilt group and was made to feel so welcome. I loved meeting all of you and I am looking forward to attending again next year. 
Happy fall to every one and Happy Stitching,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More Blanket Stitch Applique Tips

I am working on one of the borders of Ladies of the Sea (pattern by Sue Garman). I am using a machine blanket stitch to appliqué this quilt. The blocks were fairly easy to manipulate under the machine, but this large border (10 X 59 inches) has been a challenge. One of my most read posts has been “pitfalls and pearls of blanket stitch appliqué” (June 10, 2010) and working on this border has brought to mind a few more tips for me to share from my trials and errors.

 *I am trying to keep the border pinned and folded to a smaller size to just have a small portion showing to work on. I would like to do all of the red flowers, then blue, purple, etc but all the manipulation has made the appliqué pieces fall off, so to protect them and make the border more manageable I keep most of the border folded and pinned.

*I bring my thread to the back and thread them in a needle to stitch the loose beginning and ending threads under a few stitches. When working on small circles and appliqué pieces where I start and end at the same spot I need to pull the start thread to the back before I stitch over it when I come back around. With the extra bulk of the folded borders this has been really hard.

After a few very difficult berries I realized I needed to always start stitching an appliqué near an edge of the border (the spot I am pointing at with the seam ripper) so I did not have to reach under as much folded fabric to pull that start thread to the back.

It has also helped because I always know where I started stitching, especially on the small circles.

*Check your stitch recipe to your sample through out making the quilt. I have a certain blanket stitch setting that I choose and keep a sample of (minus 3 stitch length and minus 4 stitch width) for each quilt I machine appliqué. I always set my blanket stitch to this setting when I start working on the quilt. The first thing I had appliquéd on this quilt many months ago was the red half square triangles on the borders, then I worked on the center 16 blocks, now that I am back in the border I realized that my machine has drifted over the months and this stitch recipe has gotten a little smaller blanket stitch, enough so that it is noticeable when I started stitching the flowers in the border and now that I compare some of my first completed blocks to the last couple completed blocks.

*Pointy Points - there is a sharp pointed star every 5 inches in this border and these points are hard to hit.

Just to review as you are coming up to the point I skip the last blanket stitch

and switch my machine to 1 straight stitch, then I switch back to blanket stitch for the stich right on the point but I increase 2 to 3 on the stitch width to take a larger bite into the point

 and then pivot down the opposite side of the star point (or leaf point) and again skip that first blanket stitch and stitch 1 straight stitch and then continue the blanket stitching - remember to decrease the stitch width by the 2 to 3 again.

 So slowly but surely I am getting this first border finished, there are LOTS of berries and grapes and star points for me to practice on.  Although there is a lot of starts and stops and thread changes, the rhythmic blanket stitching is soothing and relaxing to me.
Happy Stitching All,