A visit to Stash Manicure and Annie who makes awesome fabric postcards

Blog visiting is addictive isn’t it? I was visiting SewCalGal the other day, and she talked about guest blogging on Stash Manicure. I decided to drop in on SewCalGal via Madame Samm over at Stash Manicure. While I was there I found another post that was really fun by Annie: Stash Manicure: Meet Annie, a postcard ARTiste( she says she’s not..U B the judge lol). She makes these awesome fabric postcards. I love these postcards. They have bound edges and wonderful designs. I’ve seen a lot of fabric postcards, but haven’t been inspired to make them until I saw these.  Now, I have this great link and am going to get back to this one day soon.

Not much quilting going on here this week. I went to a Slap Happy Quilters’ retreat last weekend and am a little burned out on quilting. But I will get back to it today. The retreat was wonderful–I used my Accuquilt to cut a lot of kits for other quilters to make comfort quilts for the Alamance Regional Cancer Center patients. It also gave me an opportunity to re-examine my priorities in charity quilting. Sometimes I try to do everything – make the patterns, cut, make and quilt the quilts and then I’m really spread too thin. I made the decision to focus on making the patterns and my friend, Sherry who is a fantastic quiltmaker, will help by testing the patterns and adding her touch to the instructions. In this way, perhaps even more quilts will be made and my efforts will actually be more efficient. Thank you Sherry for helping me think this through 🙂 

Quilt in Progress – Naming It

I have so much trouble naming my quilts. Perhaps they should just be numbered–but that wouldn’t be fair. I absolutely love this one in progress. Names I’m thinking of: Dueling Triangles and Triangle Float. I thought of a couple of others yesterday, but didn’t write them down and couldn’t remember them last night.

So, here’s what I’m working on. I really do like making blocks and then layering them with a solid block or another block, stitching from corner to corner and seeing what the surprise turns out to be. Not long ago, I ordered a pattern that looked like this:

However, when I read the instructions and started to make this block, I was not happy. It required that I cut half square triangles, add strips to either side, then trim the strips and stitch one triangle to the other matching those seams. That seemed like a lot of work. Thus, I had to rethink whether I wanted to make this really pretty pattern.

I started thinking about one of my favorite patterns which is a “Half Fast Log Cabin” (yes, that’s a pattern–and a great one–and don’t say it too fast or you’ll be in trouble with the other quilters in the room!). With that pattern, a log cabin block is made in rounds of color, a solid block is layered on top, marked corner to corner and stitched on either side of the line to make two new blocks. It has become one of my most favorite patterns for showcasing large prints.

So, I decided to try making something simpler than the half fast log cabin and simpler than the new pattern for which I paid real money. I made a square, added 2 1/2″ strips and then added a solid block and marked it corner to corner and stitched quarter inch seams on either side. This is what I got:

I worked on it in Electric quilt and you can see the drawing in the previous post below. However, when I started making it up in fabric, and put it on the design wall, the design I wanted to see didn’t show up very well. I decided it was because I used 2 1/2″ strips all around and that if the strips were narrower, the triangle would show up more.

So, back to the drawing board. I was able to cut the blocks down so that the strips were narrower as if they had been 2 inch strips originally. Once this went on the drawing board, I was much happier. Now, I have stitched some of these together into rows and I am liking it better. Color choice has something to do with this too. I am using two very vibrant fabrics and that makes the actual design disappear a bit – if one fabric were stronger than the other, the design would definitely be more evident. And now that the blocks are smaller, I’ve got to make more blocks.

Here’s what it looks like so far. I’m still not thrilled with the way it looks in fabric, but have a feeling that it’s going to get better when I finish the rest of the blocks and stitch the rows together. I will use quilting to make the rows more apparent – perhaps some straight lines through one color of diagonal lines.

I’m also working on the instructions. That always takes longer than I expect–I was certain they’d be done yesterday, but hopefully, I’ll finish them today. This is a lot of fun–and it goes so fast when each block turns into two–maybe I should call this Double or Nothing! Or maybe I could name it Double Fun! 

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.