Works in Progress

The weekend and Monday brought progress on a few things. I’ve had these log cabin blocks, 120+ of them, for awhile. I work on them off and on whenever I want to sew blocks. This is the upper quadrant of a king size quilt. The pinwheel geese blocks are there just because I wanted to sew geese. Sometimes there isn’t a plan, just a desire to stitch.

And this is a quilt that I made quickly because I found the 3-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ bricks that were cut from scraps and wanted to get them made into something. This will be a charity/comfort quilt. Sherry has offered to do the binding for which I am most grateful.

And this quilt is for my daughter’s birthday. It’s a quilt for the soccer field. I thought the colors would not show grass or mud stains. The back is a dark orange batik which will also be invisible to grass and mud stains. I used the AccuQuilt Crazy Quilt die for this one. It makes 10″ finished blocks and stitches up so quickly.

 
 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Christmas Day has passed and we are on to a New Year. My husband said on Christmas evening that he always thinks of the New Year the day after Christmas, and I have the same feeling every year. Christmas is fun, but it’s also a hurdle and once it’s over, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

Just a recap of December for the quilting that happened here. After finishing all the embroidery, I continued on with the quilting with soft quilt backs like Minkee and fleece. The grandchildren all wanted a “soft” quilt. This is the one that Ezri pieced and I quilted. The snowflake pantograph is one of Patricia Ritter’s from UrbanElementz. It is really gorgeous and shows up so beautifully on the Minkee.

Rather than put a label on the back of each quilt, I used the built-in alphabet on my embroidery machine and stitched on the top of the quilts. There’s no reason for the label not to be on the front of the quilt and this was so much easier than making a label and stitching it to the back. There just wasn’t time for that.

There are a couple of other quilts I finished for the children – really quickie ones, but in the rush forgot to take pics. Will show them another day when I get a chance to take pics.

 

 

And this is one that my sister-in-law made as a Christmas gift. She has just started quilting again after quite a few years. I love the colors and the design and everything about this quilt. It just goes to show that a design doesn’t have to be complex to be really beautiful.

The munchkin at the end is my five-year old grandson. Isn’t he adorable?

 
 

Quilting with Minkee

Yesterday I loaded and finished quilting a lap quilt made by my granddaughter, Kes. This is a favorite pattern of ours using a 3-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ rectangle die and the 2″ strip cutter. The blocks are made of a Laurel Burch horse print. I love the fabric designs and this was fabric left over from a larger quilt that I made for Kes.


When Minkee fabric was on sale a few months ago, I bought yardage for quilt backing. I have used it already on the back of one of Ezri’s quilts,  and Kes wanted it for the back of hers.  When I bought the Minkee, the issues related to fuzz simply escaped my mind. For a soft backing, working with flannel or fleece  is a better choice. However, when I started to cut, fuzz was front and center. It’s not the fuzz I mind, it’s the cleanup. Now that this is quilted, the plan is to use the serger to finish the edges to prevent so much fuzz everywhere while binding.

This is a picture of the backing just loaded on the quilt frame. I had cut the lower edge of the backing to even it up before pinning it to the leaders.  I used a lint roller to pick up all of that fuzz.

And as soon as this is finished, I am going to sew the rows together on Ezri’s rail fence quilt that she’s making for Vivi. Vivi wants a quilt with a “soft” back, so it will get quilted with Minkee on the back too. These are real challenges the week before Christmas, but fun ones because of the precious children who are the recipients. The biggest concern I have is that Vance, (Vivi’s twin) will want a quilt with a soft back. My hope is that I have a panel somewhere in the stash that can be quickly bordered and quilted for him.  Will keep you posted. 
 

New Scottie Dog Die

Have you seen the new dies that AccuQuilt introduced today? The new applique die is a Scottie Dog and it is so cute. This is the “big secret” that I’ve been working on and here’s a picture of some of the designs I created. There are seven designs in all. The little dog is about 4-1/2″ x 4-1/4″ in size. And he’s a cutie pie. This little dog would make cute 6″ finished blocks or 8″ finished blocks.

There are two more new dies for pieced quilts. I think the 6″ finished crazy quilt block would be wonderful. I can see piecing the crazy quilt blocks on the machine and then adding some machine embroidery decorative stitches on top of the seams. This could be done either with decorative stitches from the domestic machine or using some of the fancy crazy quilt stitches from my embroidery software.

Are you getting ready for Christmas? Believe it or not the weather has helped us get ready for Christmas. It rained cats and dogs here last week. We actually got our Christmas tree up (and before Christmas Eve) and I have gifts wrapped and some packages ready to be shipped. They will go out today, well before the package deadline from UPS. We don’t do a lot of big Christmas decorations and our tree is an artificial tree, easy to assemble, and kind of skinny, but it has beautiful colored lights which we enjoy.  Ezri was here after school when we were putting up the tree. She insisted it was not really a Christmas tree because it was artificial. She has gotten to be a big tease about things like that.

PS: Our draperies are actually taupe but the lights give them a purplish hue. 
 

Centering Embroidery for a Quilt Block

When making machine embroidered quilt blocks, I always cut my background fabric an inch or two larger than the finished block. and then once the embroidery is finished, the block is trimmed to size. There is always the dilemma of having different versions of the same shape design whether it’s snowflakes or cars or hearts exactly in the center of the quilt block so that everything looks consistent when the quilt is finished.

My solution to this dilemma is to cut the basic shape using the die and taping it to the back of the ruler. I use the Creative Grids Centering Rulers and have every size of them, but if you don’t have that kind of ruler, this method is even better because you can use any ruler so long as you place your design exactly where you want it.  You can fold your paper shape to find the exact center and use that to center it on a regular ruler without having to do lots of calculations around all the sides.

This is a photo of a car shape taped to the back of the 8-1/2″ Creative Grids Centering Ruler. I used the paper from the back of a shape cut with fusible, but you can use any kind of paper to tape to the back of the ruler.

  
 

Sometimes there are No Shortcuts

Once the table runners were finished, I moved on to digitizing embroidery for an AccuQuilt applique die that will be coming out in the next few days. I am sworn to secrecy so can’t tell you what it is, but can say that it’s really cute. What I can tell you is that sometimes there are NO SHORTCUTS! Let me explain. And keep in mind—you’ll get a kick out of this—during my career in clinical research I once had an employee who told me that I was “too process driven.” I’ll admit she was a creative soul even though she didn’t last in clinical research very long.

When doing machine embroidery applique with die cut shapes or with Silhouette machine cut shapes, I sometimes will skip the fusible step, cut the fabric shape and use a glue stick on the background fabric just inside the placement stitches and will work the shape into place and stitch it. That works sometimes with some fabrics and some shapes and looks good. However, the shape I’m working with right now has some tiny little points and little nubs around the edge and while the glue stick works, the end result looks really “homemade”. After a couple of tries, I cut the Steam A Seam Lite and fused it to the back of the fabric and using my mini-iron to secure the shape into place, created some really pretty machine embroidery applique.  This  simply reinforces that saying, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it well.”

Another tip is that if you are using the tackdown and trim method instead of cutting the shape with a machine, using a fusible on the back of the applique fabric can make the shape easier to trim and will cut down on fraying around the edges. A lot depends on the fabric that is being used.

Since I have no pictures today, I’ll share this one with you. It’s a love note that one of the 4 year old twins left at my house last week. I’m not sure what it says, but usually when one of them writes a note like this, they tell us what it says.  I believe this was from Vance, and he found the magnet and posted this on my refrigerator just at 4-year old height.

 
 

Catching Up and Some Quilt in the Hoop Tips

Little did I realize how much had been forgotten about process when offering the Christmas Tree and Star Table Runner as a freebie. At the same time I was so happy to be reminded how wonderful and welcoming the stitching community is. It is such a warm feeling to get the lovely comments from everyone.

If you haven’t downloaded the Christmas Tree and Star Table Runner and would still like to have it, click here.

My methods for getting the files to you were not good and the blog framework didn’t work well for getting your comments to me in a format that made an easy email reply. This morning I got up with new determination to renew my previous experience with the file download site so that I didn’t have to be the slow middleman in the process.  Yesterday I was not able to answer your emails and enjoy chatting with each of you. Now that there are systems in place for dealing with file downloads, I look forward to responding to each and every comment and catching up with those of you I know and getting acquainted with new correspondents.

Now let’s talk about quilting in the hoop. A big contributor to success or failure of a block quilted in the hoop is stabilizer – I like to use a fabric type water soluble stabilizer. Water soluble stabilizer is nice because it’s not at all stiff and it lets the quilt block look really “quilty” with good stitch definition. The first time the quilt is laundered, the water soluble stabilizer completely disappears.

What about the embroidery? The soft fabric type water soluble stabilizer does not provide the structure needed to hold those beautiful satin stitches of the embroidery applique.  There is a solution. Add a soft tearaway / washaway stabilizer on the back side of the hoop while stitching the embroidery to provide the structure needed for the satin and decorative embellishment stitches. Then when the embroidery is complete it is easy to tear away the stabilizer on the back from around the embroidery without disturbing the water soluble stabilizer. Once that is done, the quilt batting and backing can be added to the back of the hoop and the quilting is completed.

The tearaway / washaway stabilizer needs to be soft to the hand. I use a 1.5 oz weight stabilizer. And if I buy a different brand, I always test it to be sure that it will tear away easily and it falls apart easily in water.

I hope this helps as you are working with your quilt in the hoop projects.

Happy Stitching!

Marjorie 
 

What I’ve been doing when I wasn’t quilting this past year

This is my afternoon post for December 4. I promised to tell you why I have been “dormant” on embroidery and quilting for the past year, so here it is.  And it’s a short explanation—I wore out my hands. 2018 was a year when I made quilt after quilt and did very little machine embroidery. Those quilts were very pretty, but were mostly for AccuQuilt’s free pattern library.  Most of them had seams that were pressed open and used the unusual shapes in the Companion Qubes.  That and crocheting some afghans for my children and grandchildren ended up leaving me with very painful arthritis/tendonitis in my thumbs. So with delivery of the last quilt at the end of November 2018, I have neither quilted nor done much machine embroidery.

I did try a few things—I love breadmaking and became a semi-expert on pizza dough and made some great artisan pizzas. But it’s hard to eat that much pizza. And kneading pizza dough is not great for the hands.

Another thing I did was sign up for software classes at a couple of online training sites and spent time honing my skills in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and Procreate. In addition, I have taken a number of classes in Machine Embroidery Digitizing and have learned a lot from those.

After a trip to Biltmore at the end of May and a review of the photos from the trip, it was apparent that I needed to lose some weight. So at that point, I threw myself into a daily exercise routine and cut out all the extra snacks that were so enjoyable. By the end of October, I had lost 20 pounds and that still feels so much better than where I was in May.

And that’s all there is to it—I took a year off from quilting and two years off from machine embroidery and now I’m back. Even so, it has been a very productive time for me.  My hands are much better too and knitting and sewing are easily done without constant pain. 
 

Holiday Stitching Time is Here – New Projects and a Freebie

Some might say that the time has past, but for those of us who don’t get into the holiday spirit until the holiday is almost here. . .it’s the perfect time to start stitching. I’ve been working on a couple of projects the past month. Since the blog and embroidery shop have been fairly dormant for the past year, I thought it would be the perfect time for a giveaway. (And I’ll tell you why I’ve been away for awhile in tomorrow’s post).

These are my projects. They are quilted in the hoop table runners. The giveaway is a Christmas Tree and Star Table Runner.

EDIT: I found a service that will allow you to download the file directly without leaving a comment  although I must say how much I love to see your comments. It also means I can spend time responding to your comments rather than creating an email with a file attachment.

Click here to download the file. It will require you to leave your email address but rest assured that will only be used to send you more information from time to time. I won’t clog up your inbox with lots of email and you can unsubscribe any time.

NOTE: I love your comments, so if you have trouble finding a way to comment, click on the title so that only this post is on the page and the comment box will appear at the bottom.  And if that fails, send me a private message on Facebook. 

This is the completed table runner and the star and tree designs shown below. I used a metallic thread to stitch the tree stars and it really makes the whole table runner sparkle. The quilting is done using an echo stitch and works beautifully on the embroidery machine. Assembling the blocks into the runner is very easy. I have tried many methods for assembling quilted in the hoop blocks and finally feel like this is the easiest thing yet. All you have to do is comment on this blog post and then have fun stitching this embroidery.

           

This is the snowman table runner and it definitely has more moving parts and thread changes. But it still stitches in a flash and those snowmen are just plain fun as they come to life. You can get the snowman table runner from my web store and will be priced at half price ($6.00, regular price $12.00) for the entire month of December.  

 

 
 

Christmas Stockings

Quick update on December. My sewing activities have consisted only of making these few stockings–actually there are three more–two for the parents and one for a friend with a newborn.

These stockings were made with the AccuQuilt stocking die (Studio). Love that die as the stockings turn out perfectly and are so quick and easy. They are unlined, except that I cut four pieces for the cuff and lined the cuffs which make them much more stable for holding the machine embroidery. The snowflakes have been in my files for many years–not sure their origin, but think it may be Embroidery Library.  The lettering was done with my Art & Stitch Plus software—that works so well to adjust lettering to get all the names in the same space.

My stitching has been so limited because of the arthritis in my hands. Thought I would do some baking, but found that worked quite well except that using a cookie scoop for portioning and especially the cookie press are not easy with these hands. Maybe machine embroidery will be my focus for awhile.

Christmas is only a week away. Are you ready?