Friday odds and ends

Just a few odds and ends. I made a comfort / charity quilt this week. This fabric was incredibly bright so I asked my friend Wanda what to do. She suggested putting white with it. I decided it was too bright for strips, so I cut it into 6 1/2″ half square triangles with my Accuquilt GO die. The triangles sewed into absolutely perfect pinwheels. I have never had such perfect centers on pinwheels in my quilting life. Then I didn’t know what to do with it for sashing, but decided on the darker red (with advice from Wanda and Sherry). So here’s the top, not quilted, but it will be soon. It is very bright.

I also finished a couple more animals–and I love them. This is so much fun. Here’s an elephant and a squirrel. It’s funny how digital photography changes how we see things. When I was working on the squirrel, I did not even realize how “brown/yellow” some of those fabrics were. It was not until I saw the photo that I could see it in the block. Another thing that helps me ‘see’ colors is to turn the lights off and look at blocks in semi-darkness.

I’ve been in the pool – either laps or water aerobics every day this week. I’m sore and tired, but will go again this morning. After that I’m working on a table topper for my friends, Tim (who turns 30 today) and his wife, Anna for a birthday/house warming party on Saturday. I’ll take pictures when it’s finished.

Screen Print Animals Construction Process

As I mentioned before, I used Sharon Schamber’s Piecelique technique for this. If you’re not familiar with it, it is a process of creating a foundation pattern and templates, then using liquid starch, a hot iron, and Elmer’s glue to ‘baste’ the block together before stitching. There are many videos out there by Sharon and even some on youtube that may be free to watch. If not, you can always go to her website and purchase an instructional DVD or book.

I started by sorting fabric according to the colors of the printed blocks. My goal was to find very similar colors that would not stand out on their own, but would be slightly lighter or darker and would enhance the color of the printed block. I also looked for fabric that might have a touch of yellow in it to bring out the outline in the printed block. This process required pulling out all my batiks and sorting them in another way. This is what it looked like:

Then I got busy creating a pattern. I used Electric Quilt in the beginning, and then I just used freezer paper and a ruler. The key here is to make two patterns which are mirror images of each other. One will be pressed to a second sheet of freezer paper and then cut into templates, the first will be used as the foundation pattern to stick the pieces onto with a hot iron while gluing the pieces together.

The next step is to press the freezer paper pattern to the fabric. I cut a very wide seam allowance around mine (> 1/2 inch) because they will be trimmed later. Part of the reason that I do that is because, unlike Sharon, I put my glue just past the 1/4 inch area so that I can cut the glue off after I stitch. It’s a little more complicated this way, but my longarm doesn’t like the glue and I don’t want to go through the process of soaking each block in cold water to dissolve the glue after it is finished.

You can see that I marked the edge that will be turned. I use a foam paint brush and spray starch to slightly moisten the edge that will be turned and then press it with a hot iron–important for your fingers not to use steam here.

And this is what the block looks like during the glue construction:

Once all the pieces are glued into place, the center is added. Note that for gluing, I work from the outside in. When I stitch, it is from the inside out. The center was glued in differently. I laid the animal down on the board, then placed the glued block on top of it and worked with it until it was in a pleasing arrangement. Then I folded each area of the block back and applied glue and pressed. Note that I had to be very careful all along not to press the animal because it is a t-shirt screen print and the ink will melt under a hot iron.

You can see a thin line of glue here – and on this one the glue line is within the 1/4 inch seam. I did that on the first one but changed it for all the rest. On the first one I did not use spray starch either, and you can see that the seam lines are not crisp before stitching. None of this affects the final result, but the spray starch and keeping the glue out of the seam allowance sure make life easier for me. It also goes to show that each must find their own way in terms of methods.

Then I started stitching. I set my machine to a 2.0 mm stitch so that the thread would not show. As I mentioned before, the stitching goes from the center out. The key is to stitch the first seam that has no other seams crossing it. Trim that seam and then stitch the next seam that either has no other seams crossing it or has the stitched seam crossing it. Here’s a picture if that explanation doesn’t make sense. You can see on the pattern that I examined it closely to make sure that I numbered the pieces and the seams so that I would get them in the right order when stitching. This is what the stitching looks like. You can see the seams are trimmed immediately after stitching.

And then once everything is stitched, it is a matter of trimming the block and giving it a final press.

Screen Print Animal Project Design Process

I am working on a new project that was conceived some time ago. It is a series of animals that were screen printed onto quilting fabric and which I am now incorporating into quilt blocks. This is one of those projects where I saw the artwork first and just instantly knew I wanted to do something with it–but so far, there is no design for the finished quilt. It’s one of those that just doesn’t work for me in Electric Quilt until it’s at least partly done.

I showed you the animals when I was working on Delirious. They are original artwork done by Jody at Flytrap Studios. Because I make t-shirt quilts and saw Jody’s t-shirts for sale, the idea for  a whole t-shirt quilt using her prints seemed very appealing. I contacted her, we met and talked and in the conversation decided that since she was getting ready to do a big print session, why not print them onto nice quilting fabric rather than t-shirts. I had some beautiful bright colored fat quarters and gave them to her for printing. She brought back these gorgeous prints which have been on my design wall for quite some time.

As an aside, isn’t it wonderful to talk to an artist? Jody has a wonderful eye for color and balance and art. She’s young and idealistic and just won’t compromise when it comes to art. And she’s not afraid to say what she likes and what she doesn’t. I can’t tell you how energized I was after that conversation. I’m twice as old as she is, but she made me feel so young and inspired again!

Back to the animals: No matter what I tried with those prints on the design wall, even the smallest strip of contrasting fabric of any color seemed to overwhelm the print itself. Can you see how the prints get lost on that yellow background? They are subtle, but so wonderful. They are also fairly small and get lost in a big block–by that we’re talking more than 6 inches. Thus, it wouldn’t work just to have them sitting on the plain piece of fabric. After going through almost every fabric in my stash, cutting strips and pinning them to the wall with the prints to see what would work, the batiks came out as winners.

Here’s a picture of my design wall and as you can see, the batik square on the lower right is much more balanced (blue with blue) than the plain bright fabric in the other squares. It allows the print to stand out.

Animals on design wall with plain and batik squares

Here’s one of the prints alone on the blue background fabric.

Print on fabric before putting into a block

The reason the batiks worked is because of the process used to make batiks. No matter how bright a batik may seem, if there is more than one color in it, the colors are a little ‘muddied.’ That means if using a similar color as the original print, that the original print stands out more than the batik beside it. And the fact that the batiks that worked had more than one color added interest to the block. In my mind, I saw these prints fitting into a crazy quilt block.

I finally got to put some of these together yesterday, and this is the result. Needless to say, I am pleased.

Completed animal block

To put them together, I used my own variation of Sharon Schamber’s Piecelique technique. Tomorrow I’ll show you how I did it.

Lazy Girl Blog Free Projects: Holiday Fabric Garland and Ornament

This is a post from the Lazy Girl blog from December 2008. It’s a great idea for embellishing a gift – or even adding some dimension to a quilt in just the right places (after it’s quilted, please!). As always, I was thinking of stepping this up a bit–using the Accuquilt GO cutter.

Lazy Girl | Blog » Free Projects: Holiday Fabric Garland and Ornament.

After fusing the squares and before cutting, look at your Accuquilt dies. You could use the strip cutter to cut the squares very quickly. Or you could use stars and circles. Or you could use stars and circles on a ribbon to create a garland for hanging Christmas cards with those tiny little clothespins. Or what about adding hotfix crystals? Or why not make a magic wand for a little girl using the star and some ribbons hanging off the star.

Just remember, when you see an idea that someone else has shown, it’s just a seed to get you started. Look around and think about what you can do with it. I’d love to hear your ideas.

PS: I updated the Links page yesterday, I found a couple of the links were broken. Will keep checking, but let me know if you find any broken links so I can repair.

Brick Ripple Quilt

Here’s a quilt I worked on last week. I call it Brick Ripple. It uses the 3 1/2 x 6 1/2″ Accuquilt brick die. I did a similar quilt using regular 3-strip rail fence blocks. It seemed to me that this would work with bricks too. Because of the design, I had to create a quilt in custom set in EQ7. You will see that two of the corner setting triangles are one size and the other two are a different size. But it has to be that way to make the design work.  This is a very quick quilt to make and can have lots of different personalities depending on fabric selections. Let me know what you think.

Brick Ripple

Texting in Electric Quilt Software

I sent this to the EQ listserv, but wanted to post it here for those who don’t subscribe to that list. I’d love to hear whether any of you use the text tool in EQ. Did you know that I use the text feature in EQ to create many of the instructions that I provide here? It is the easiest way to do it. I would love for the software to use a notecard that could be attached to the quilt in the way that I use the text with the quilt. I created some images (some  of which you have seen in my instructions), to demonstrate how I use the text feature that is available on Layer 2 of the Quilt Worktable. I just wish it were available on the block worktable when I’m writing instructions.  I have gotten absolutely no response from anyone at EQ nor anyone on the listserv, so at this time, it appears I’m the only one interested. I can survive with the software the way it is, but I’d love to believe that they’re even slightly considering my suggestions. On their behalf, they’re still shipping EQ7 like mad, so maybe they’re just overwhelmed right now.

Here’s the link to my example pictures,; but if you’ve downloaded my instructions you already know what I’m talking about.

There are such an incredible number of possibilities for text. I use the text feature on Layer 2 of the quilt worktable for making quilt instructions and for keeping notes with the image of the quilt. What is really nice, is that I don’t have to copy and paste anything from one notecard to another (in fact text on Layer 2 won’t copy and paste from one text box to another). When I make modifications – I just make the minor changes to the quilt and to the text, save it to the sketchbook and it’s all right there and ready to print. Needless to say, I don’t find the notecard tool useful because it’s so much easier to have the information with the quilt.

One day when working in Word with a metafile of a block and the outlines wouldn’t move with the shapes and the label text wouldn’t size the way I wanted it and I was totally frustrated; I just added the block to the quilt worktable, added the labels using text on Layer 2, and exported the image. Quick and easy to insert a single image into a Word document.

There are also other features I’d like with the text tool.  I’d love to be able to use the text tool on the block worktable for the ability to create alphabet blocks or word blocks with various fonts and to create applique motifs to go with them on the block worktable. I know I can add letters and motifs to layer 2, but then I am creating my blocks in layer 2 of the quilt worktable and the letters and motifs are separate and have to be repositioned every time I make a change to the quilt. I’d like to be able to set them as blocks.

One issue I have in quilt design and working with text on the quilt worktable in Layer 2 is that the only way to really size the alphabet is to eyeball it. The text box that is created has a very large margin around it, so even creating a text box does not mean that I get the size text that I have drawn initially. I have to play with it awhile and measure with the ruler, etc.

Recently I was trying to make a banner and wanted text with a different first letter in each word (different font or size), and I had to create multiple text boxes for a one line banner.

I’d really be interested to hear whether others have used text in quilt design or other applications. For instance, some use the custom quilt worktable for room layouts. This would be an excellent way to use text. You could even create rooms as applique blocks and then put them all together on the custom quilt worktable.

Patience Corners from the Peacemakers in Noble, OK

I got a wonderful note from Mary Ellen Keck with photos of a Patience Corners quilt made by her church quilting group, the Peacemakers at First Baptist Church in Noble. Mary Ellen did the quilting and binding. This group makes and gives their quilts to many groups including the battered women’s shelter, to abused children and to the police to give to children who are taken away from their parents, to resthomes, and very proudly to the veteran’s home in Norman, Oklahoma for the men and women living there who have served our country. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone in that quilting group because I know that each and every one of those quilts is a dear possession to the recipients.

Here are some pictures of the quilt. They did a great job, and I love the colors. Don’t you love how the blocks seem to float on the background   🙂

[book id=’20’ /]

Courthouse Steps Baby Quilt

This is a repeat of a quilt that I showed you in 2008. It is a baby quilt that I made for my great niece. It has a Teddy Bear theme. I’ve been looking at it and thinking I would make another similar quilt. I have a fair number of orphan blocks, so thought you might like to see it again. I uploaded some better photos and have the EQ6 file here (click to download).

The star blocks are the Maverick Stars from and the courthouse steps are blocks that I made myself.

[book id=’19’ /]

Brick Quilts

I have been fascinated by brick quilts for a long time. I’m not sure why I find them so much fun to make. Perhaps it is because the pieces have one long side and it seems like I’m going faster. Anyway, here’s a quilt, one of a series, that I think you’ll enjoy. I have given instructions for multiple size bricks. You will have to adjust the number of blocks to make the size quilt you would like. The nice thing about calculating how many pieces you need is that each block has four light and four dark bricks.

This is very scrappy and Accuquilt GO die friendly. You can cut the length of the bricks across the width of fabric. Then fanfold it onto your strip die and away  you go. You’ll have this quilt cut very quickly. The Accuquilt GO cutter has introduced me to cutting and stitching lengthwise, and I think my blocks are much more accurate now.

Brick Quilt #1 - click for instructions

edit: ooooooooooh! I see another way to piece this! Do you see it? It could be blocks of brick four patches and blocks of four bricks alternating colors, then stitch into rows. Hmmmmmm! These would be rectangle blocks, not square, but it might work even better for pressing. I’ll have to try that and let you know.

Long Distance Quilting

I took a trip to my Mom’s this week. Most of our quilting is done long distance and it is not easy to quilt that way. We keep UPS in business, and they have great service. If my package gets to the UPS depot in the late afternoon, Mother gets it the next morning. It leaves Chapel Hill that night and makes it to Greensboro by 2am. UPS ground gets it on the truck to Shelby, and out for delivery the next morning.

One of the issues that we deal with in long distance quilting is that Mother doesn’t have a computer. Three times, we tried computers with her for email, but it was very frustrating for her. Since her stroke, some parts of her brain just don’t work normally. She has real trouble communicating numbers and the names of many things, although she knows exactly what she wants to say. And using a computer is the same way. My final solution for email was an HP service: which is an HP printer at her home that receives and prints email.  There is no way for her to email back, but at least she can receive text and picture messages. Even though verbal communication is difficult, she reads and understands everything.

I bought her an Accuquilt GO cutter for Mother’s Day. She hasn’t used it yet, but it will certainly get used. She has an incredible stash which hasn’t been touched in three years.  Her primary caregiver is going to help her explore her stash to find fabric for her next project. I would love to do this with her, but there is never enough time in a visit; and she can make this kind of decision if someone helps her overcome the physical limitations.

I had given her a Moda Butterfly Fling jelly roll before I even got my first Accuquilt GO. She has finally stitched it together, and we are making a Strip Twist quilt from with it. The strips Mother had stitched came home with me. Yesterday I pressed and cut them into triangles according to the instructions. I used a tiny bead of Elmer’s School glue to baste the triangles together and pressed it dry. I packaged them up, and she should have them first thing Monday morning. Once they’re stitched, I’ll try to make a trip back. She likes to make blocks but even more, she wants to put the blocks together to make the top. I can help her with that by trimming the blocks to size and then glue basting them into rows for her. She will enjoy laying them out so she can decide where each block goes in the quilt layout.

The Strip Twist quilt is one of my favorites. I have made it at least a dozen times for charity quilts and made it into a baby quilt using the Butterfly Fling jelly roll. It is also a great pattern for using your 2 1/2 inch strip die with your Accuquilt GO.

I’m glad to be home. I plan to be back to my quilt a week instructions by Monday. Hope you have a Happy Quilting weekend!