Nautical Medley Embroidery and Home School Fun

It’s Friday and we haven’t been out of the house and yard for many days. We wave at the neighbors or talk at a distance from across the fence. Or we text. And they are so kind to offer to buy groceries for us, but in fact we have a couple of freezers (one in the fridge and one free-standing) so we are good with food. And if needed, I’ll bake bread.

It’s such a bright spot to talk to the children. What’s really fun is hearing how the ten grandchildren are doing – five in each household. One household has chickens and rabbits, so they’re busy taking care of themselves and their creatures. The other household has four boys and a girl. Yesterday I got a hilarious phone call from the Mom (former school teacher) saying she was going crazy. At 11am on Thursday, the 11 year olds were finished with all of their school assignments for the next three weeks, their household chores were all done, and they were just cruising for trouble. The 8 year old is being very hard to teach as it is difficult to keep him on task, the 5 year old complaining that he’s not getting enough attention and the 2 year old pulling out all the toys. And watching TV for four hours a day is just not acceptable so what is she going to do. My husband suggested Lego challenges like the Lego TV show. I am sure they will be fine so long as they can get outside and run and run and run.

Here’s a memory picture—just to think about what has been and might be:

I quilted the background for the Northwoods Medley and Camper quilt on Sunday and Monday and although I work out on the elliptical and bicycle for 3 miles on each every day, my ribs were really sore. Quilting does use muscles which haven’t been exercised in awhile. So, I decided to work on some embroidery at the computer and embroidery machine. This is the progress on the Nautical Medley. They turned out pretty well. The wheel was really hard as the embroidery software wanted to put starts and stops all over the place with so many moving parts for the spokes and making everything stitch in a logical order was not easy. There may be more changes, and the sailboat is yet to come.

 

 

  
 

GO!™ Camper and Northwoods Quilt and Border Tutorial

I have been working on a quilt using the GO!™ Camper and Northwoods dies and the embroidery that I digitized for these dies. With the embroidery, I made quilt blocks that fit a 7″ x 8″ embroidery hoop. The applique dies are often perfect for a full quilt block and that is what I like to make.  This is the quilt as I am quilting it on the longarm. You can see the Electric Quilt software version just below that.

 

I created the embroidery blocks so that there are blocks with birds flying one way and the same block with birds flying in the opposite direction. I also moved the squirrels and bunnies to different places on the blocks so it would look more natural. And of course, any of the birds, or other creatures can be omitted as there are color stops for each one.

The following information is a tutorial for making the border—specifically the triangle border. This is an image showing the measurements for each border.

The body of the quilt is made of embroidered blocks that have been cut to 8-1/2″ square (unfinished) and stitched together to make a top that is 40-1/2″ x 40-1/2″.

The first border is cut and stitched as follows:
  • Cut 5 each 2-1/2″ x width of fabric (WOF) strips. Seam together three of the strips in the same manner that you would seam binding (45 degree angle).
  • Cut  2 strips 2-1/2″ x 40-1/2″  for the inner side border and stitch to the quilt sides. Ease as needed to fit.
  • Cut 2 strips 2-1/2″ x 44-1/2″ from the three strips that were seamed together. Stitch these two strips to the quilt top and bottom that include the side strips already stitched on. Ease as needed to fit.
The second border is cut and stitched as follows (make four borders):
  • Colored Border Fabric:
    • Cut 44 each Triangle in a Square (4″ finished) Die 55753 (Shape #13) from the 8″ Qube Companion Set Angles.
    • Cut 4 Squares(4″ finished) Die 55708 (Shape 1) from the 8″ Qube Set,
  • Background Fabric:
    • Cut 40 each Triangle in a Square (4″ finished) Die 55753 (Shape #13) from the 8″ Companion Set Angles. 
    • Cut 8 each Triangle in a Square Sides (4″ finished) Die 55754 (Shape #14) from the 8″ Companion Set Angles. 

Assemble the border as follows:

Lay out one color and one background  Triangle in a Square shapes and stitch together as shown.

Lay out the next Triangle in a Square Shape and stitch. Continue stitching shapes together in a row until there are 11 color shapes and 10 background shapes.

       

When there are 11 color Triangles and 10 background triangles stitched together, add the end side triangles (Shape 14).  Complete this process four times to make four borders.

On the end of two of the borders, stitch a 4-1/2″ square (4″ finished). Stitch the borders that do not have the squares to the quilt first. Then stitch the borders with the end squares to the quilt next. I used the points of the triangles to match to the seam allowances of the quilt blocks and eased the border as needed to fit the inner border. It seemed that it might not fit or it would pucker, but once it was pinned and stitched, it fit perfectly.  Triangles are often like that because there is so much bias involved. But if you work gently and patiently, you will find they can be manipulated into place beautifully. And the great plus is that with AccuQuilt all the shapes are perfectly cut to get the perfect fit.

The third border is cut and stitched as follows:
  • Cut 6 each 2-1/2″ x WOF strips from color border fabric. Seam together three of the strips in the same manner that you would seam binding (45 degree angle). Make 2 sets of three strips seamed together.
  • Cut 2 strips 2-1/2″ x 52-1/2″ for the outer side borders. Stitch to the sides of the quilt.
  • Cut 2 strips 2-1/2″ x  56-1/2″ for the outer top and bottom borders. Stitch to the top and bottom of the quilt.

Your quilt top is finished. Just quilt as desired. With this much embroidery, a meander is a great way to quilt. I am using a water meander on mine. And of course, the borders can be quilted geometrically with rulers or with an overall fill.

 

 

  
 

Belated Valentine

This is a belated Valentine. Somehow my New Year’s resolution to write several posts a week has not come to fruition. What happens is that I get so involved in projects that the hyperfocus excludes all else.

When my second grader grandson was here on Thursday, Feb 13, making Valentine’s and asked what to write on his Valentine cards, I told him to write “Happy Valentine’s Day” or “Be My Valentine.” He asked me what that means. My response was that it’s like saying “Merry Christmas” at Christmas time. That was not the best explanation but the first thing that came to mind. Children ask the most unexpected questions, and I often wonder how they process and perceive what we say.

And it’s been incredibly busy here. A couple of the projects I can’t tell you about yet, but there are two others that are interesting in that one in my opinion is a complete fail and the other is beginning to shape up into something pretty.

First for the complete fail. I was looking for fabric to go with the pink and purchased the green fabric as I thought it would be perfect and it’s such a cute print. I made one block and thought it looked pretty good so decided to make the rest of the blocks. As I worked, it was very apparent to me that I didn’t like the green but was determined to finish what I had cut. So here’s the block and the quilt top. They definitely are not on my list of winners. The top has to be quilted and I will do that soon and then see if there are any takers among the 10 grandchildren.

The one good thing about this quilt is the blocks I chose to go together. I love the look of the stars framed by the chain. Now the challenge is to make it in colors I love.

I’ll tell you about the second project tomorrow. It’s a much happier story.

 

  
 

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.