Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Surprise Blocks for Sept 24th

The second block of the year is called Silver Maple.  I'm not sure where I saw this block, but I loved it on sight.  I think that it looks like maple leaves, and I love the way they interlock when you put blocks next to each other.
Also, I'm not sure if I ever explained properly about the applique blocks.  Each year we put out 20 pieced 12-inch blocks.  They never use applique or paper-piecing in them.  However, this year, as something new to try, I decided to offer some companion applique blocks.  They will use the same 2 groups of fabrics, and also finish at 12 inches.  They are the same price as the pieced blocks, $5.50 when you pick them up from the store, or $6.50 mailed out.  They are available at the same time as the odd-numbered pieced blocks-- so that the 1st block, Crossed Tulips was out on Sept 10th, and the 2nd applique block will be available on October 8th alongside the third pieced block.  I hope this makes it all clearer!

This was the first applique block:
I'm hoping to do needle-turn applique on the 1930's fabric blocks, and fusible/machine applique with the etchings ones.   Hope I can keep up. 

Friday, September 23, 2011


 Yesterday we were in Paducah, Kentucky.  It is a pleasant town of about 25,000 people.  We went to Eleanor Burns quilt shop, which was very pleasant, and then to the Quilt Museum.  It had amazing quilts, as you would expect.  No photography allowed, so I can't show you.  However, this is their lobby and meeting room:

 they have a lot of lovely stained glass windows,
and there was a case full of Yo-yo things,
 Did you have a yo-yo clown as a child? I remember that we did,
 finished touring the museum just in time for lunch.  As a stroke of luck, it was BBQ fest right beside the museum with dozens of BBQ booths. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hello from sunny St. Louis

 We have been driving south from Saskatchewan. The photo above is taken in Minnesota, showing the incredible color of the fields being harvested.  Just like a postcard!  Monika, you would love to take photos along the road to use later for your stitchings.
Also, we stopped at a famous quilt shop in St.Cloud, called Grubers.  They were great!  Sorry no photos.  I was too busy ogling fabric and fibers.
We drove through Minnesota, then Iowa, which I also liked a lot.  Then on to Hannibal, Missouri, where Mark Twain was born and wrote about.  That was a lot of fun, but again, I forgot to immortalize our visit in photos.  It had a wonderful quilt shop too!!
ON to St. Louis, where we came to a halt for an extra day to get some car repairs.  I must say there are some really great people in St. Louis.  If you need repairs, Sig's garage is the place to go,
We should be back on the road soon, heading for Paducah, Kentucky!  and I will try to take some photos!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dyeing Wool

 The other day I was dying some wool for the shop, because we had no greens. None at all.  So i dyed many shades of green , and then a few dark orange and coral, until I ran out of yardage:

  Funny how they seem to be very much like the shades found in my orchid!
 I also experimented in dying some wool yarn that I had on hand:

 It was quite a lot of fun.  I rolled them into balls and now I'm trying to think of something to make with them.

 I'm planning to go back to Savannah in the next few days -- Hurray!!  I've got Georgia on my Mind!
Tomorrow will be filled with errands, and hopefully getting the house painting and caulking finished.  We painted most of what needed doing ourselves, until our energies gave out.  Now our friendly and helpful neighbor is finishing the high parts and fascias.  I am so glad that he was willing to help out.  The house is looking pretty spiffy for being over 100 years old!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

SSS Show and Tell on Saturday

these are the pictures from the Sampler Show and Tell on Saturday!  There were some wonderful quilts!
thank you to all who came out and showed their projects, and also to those who came to ooh and aahh..
beautiful effect with a simple alternating frame around each block

using 9 blocks, with courthouse steps around each one

close up of the wonderful setting with stars and edging

the art to heart colorway

my favorite of the day!


here it takes on a wintry look!

fussy cut borders!  lucky girl who gets this quilt as a gift!

did that block slip? -- another innovative setting from Tillie, --unexpected and engaging

this was from a couple years ago; "A Thousand Flowers"

notice the diagonal corner treatment!

another from a few years ago, "Marleigh"

beautiful flowers from the staff!! to celebrate our 10th anniversary of being in business--August 30, 2001 until now and still going strong!  

thank you again for coming out!
and I hope that those of you who came to view the quilts here on the blog enjoyed the show as well!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some Applique Basics

Because we are offering some 12 applique blocks this year that co-ordinate with the Saturday Surprise blocks, I prepared some General Applique Instructions for those who are new to applique.
fusible applique on "Groovin'" designed by Bird on a Wire, sewn by me
needle-turn applique combined with pieced quilt
As well, I'll do free demonstrations of these 2 methods on Saturday afternoon, at 2, 2:15, 3, 3:15, 4 and 4:15 p.m.  

I usually do either needleturn or fusible applique.
There are other methods of applique that you can find in books that you might like better!!!

Needle-turn is a hand sewing method that requires you to add a small seam allowance to your shapes, since you turn it under as you stitch it onto the background fabrics. 
Fusible applique uses a product called fusible web which is a type of two sided tape that is heat activated, which bonds two fabrics together.

You can get more comprehensive instructions in a basic applique book or magazine.  You can also access a wealth of demos and tutorials on the internet.

1 Prepare your fabrics:
           In these examples, my finished block size is going to be 12 inches, so I will start with a larger piece of fabric -- about 14" square.  This is so that later you can trim your block to the correct size.
Iron the background fabric, and then lightly mark some guidelines with a chalk liner or other marking pencil that will wash or brush out later.

I like to draw two diagonal lines that cross in the center of the square, and then mark a perimeter that is   11" so that all my applique pieces will be at least a half inch from the seam line of the finished square.  After all the stitching is finished, and when you are ready to sew your blocks into the quilt setting, trim them to the correct size.

Press all the fabrics that will be used for the applique cut-outs

2. Needleturn Applique:
Trace the applique pattern pieces. onto the dull side of freezer paper,
Cut out. the templates from the freezer paper.  (If you need multiples of a shape, you can stack layers of freezer paper and cut them out in stacks rather than tracing and cutting each piece separately.)

Arrange on the cut out pieces onto the right side of the fabrics, leaving enough space around each shape so that you can add a narrow seam allowance when you cut them out. Press the pieces onto the right side of the cloth.  The heat of the iron makes the shiny side of the paper melt a little bit and creates a temporary bond with the fabric.

Cut the pieces out, adding the seam allowance as you go.  I usually cut add justa little more than 1/8th of an inch.
Using the pattern diagrams and the marked chalk lines on your fabric as guides, lay out the pieces on your background square to get familiar with where they will go.  Remember to keep them contained within the chalk outline you drew.  You might want to lightly mark some reference lines to remind you where you put them as you sew them down. 
From this point on, I add only a few pieces at a time, since it is easier to handle the whole piece without a lot of little pieces glued or pinned on.
In general, add pieces that will be placed underneath other ones first.  Sometimes the pieces will overlap so that you won’t have to turn under some edges since they’ll be covered by another shape.
Use a dab of basting glue or some applique pins (very short ones) to keep your piece in place as you sew it on.

Use an applique needle, called a “sharp”, which has a small eye, and a very thin thread such as silk,  to sew on your pieces with the same sort of stitch that you would use to hand-stitch your bindings.  The color of the thread should match your applique piece, rather than the background.  I tend to use a grey or taupe color that blends with many colors of applique rather than having a lot of different threads. 
 You use the tip of your needle to flip the seam allowance under as you stitch.  Keep knots on the back or underneath the applique pieces. I like to hold a small cushion on my lap under the piece to lay it on as I work.

When you have sewn on all your pieces, iron the block from the back. 

3. Fusible Applique:
There are various brands of “FusibleWeb” that you can use to do this type of machine applique.  They usually come with some instructions on a sheet or piece of plastic.
Again I usually make the background piece larger than the pattern calls for so that I can trim it to size after the applique is completed.
In this method, you need to reverse the patterns.  Often times the shapes are symmetrical, and so it makes no difference, but sometimes you will have a directional piece where this is important.
Place the paper backed fusible web over the applique pattern and use a pencil to trace the pattern.  You won’t need to add a seam allowance unless a piece is layered with another shape.  In that instance, add about 1/8th of an inch to the edge that fits under another piece.   You can trace the pieces close together.  If you need 12 leaves, you will need to trace the shape 12 times. 
Group the pieces into sections by color/fabric use. 

Loosely cut around the shapes and fuse the web and traced patterns to the WRONG side of the fabrics.  Don’t remove the paper backing, and be careful that you don’t get any of the sticky stuff onto your iron.  It can be useful to use a teflon sheet between your iron and the fabrics as you work in order to protect it. 
Use scissors to cut out the pieces along the traced lines, and peel off the paper backing.

Refer to your diagram for placement of the pieces onto your background fabric.  When happy with the arrangement, fuse them to the background using hot iron.

I like to stitch around each shape with a co-ordinating color of thread using either a narrow satin stitch or a machine buttonhole stitch.  You might prefer to use other colors, such as black or something.
Attach a tear-away stabilizer to the back of the piece before stitching the appliques.
Begin by stitching 2 or 3 stitches in one spot to anchor the threads, and then go around each piece, pivoting at corners, and trying to go around curves evenly.
At the end of the stitching, either stitch 2 or 3 threads in one place, or pull the threads to the wrong side of the background fabric and knot the threads. 
Carefully remove the stabilizer and press the block well. 

When your are ready to sew the block into your quilt, trim the square to the correct size. 

4.  Customizing your blocks. 
There are many ways you can make your appliques unique.
    Add more design pieces.  You might want to add to the pattern by layering another shape onto a large piece, or by adding in more of a basic shape, such as leaves or circles.
    Add decorative stitches by hand or machine.  You might want to embroider additional lines onto the design, such as tendrils to leaves, or french knots to the centers of flowers.
You might want to hand embroider around shapes with a stem stitch, or chain stitch to emphasize or outline a shape.
    Some applique blocks can be drawn on with a pigma pen or other fabric marker.  You could add words, or shading to a piece. 

I’ll try to add little tips as I think of them, but keep in mind that I am not an expert!! You might enjoy learning more about applique from a book or a demo/tutorial.
this is a good one from the blog "Applique Today" needleturn tutorial, the blog is here

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Now this is quite interesting...

this tutorial, is on how to make a type of woven circle thing out of rope, or heavy cord, and combine them into larger pieces.  It is from the Free people blog
  this is another photo from their blog where they have wrapped twigs with yarn and fabric

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