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.

 
 

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.

 
 

Let It Snow Wall Frame

This blog post was published on the AccuQuilt blog yesterday and has the machine embroidery for the lowercase alphabet die that was recently released as well as my Holiday Elements machine embroidery design set.

As always, if I made this again, I would make snowflakes that showed up just a bit more—a darker thread for the stitches around them would give that little bit of additional contrast that is needed. But I absolutely love those cute snow people as well as the lettering.

This is stretched on a 20″ x 24″ canvas frame and has batting underneath, but does not have quilting stitches through the layers.

 
 

Baby Quilt with Spring Medley Applique Machine Embroidery Tutorial

This is a quilt tutorial that I wrote for AccuQuilt for their blog. It was a lot of fun, but is very simple to do. The Spring Medley applique is cute, but this can also be made with a lot of the other different applique dies.  I used the 10″ Qube, but it will also work with the 9″ and the 12″ blocks too.

 
 

Bear’s Paw Table Runner Tutorial

AccuQuilt has another new die–they just keep releasing more and more–it’s hard to keep up with trying out each new one. This one is a Bear’s Paw die that is a Block on Board (BOB) which means one run through the cutter and you have a complete block ready to stitch. The quarter block of the Bear’s Paw looks like a maple leaf so I used that idea to make this table runner. You can go over to the AccuQuilt blog to see the full tutorial.

 
 

Crazy Quilt Star Throw Quilt

I just finished this Crazy Quilt Star Throw Quilt made with the AccuQuilt GO Crazy Quilt die. I love the Crazy Quilt dies (both Studio and GO!). They are just incredible. There are so many different layouts that one can create with it–and the blocks stitch up faster than almost any other block. I used Square in a Square (aka Economy Block) blocks alternating with Crazy Quilt blocks.  Read the full tutorial on the AccuQuilt blog.

Crazy Quilt Star
Crazy Quilt Star
 
 

Vortex Mosaic Throw Quilt Tutorial

The new 10″ Qube die set from AccuQuilt is a great size because multiples of 10 are so easy to make. And there’s no math to think about. Obviously 1/4 of 10 is 2.5 which is not an even number—but with the Qube set, there’s no math involved except the finished size of the quilt. This is a tutorial I wrote for the AccuQuilt blog. And this is a picture of the quilt. I really loved making this. The blocks are simple even though it looks much more complex than it is.