Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Final Finish of 2013 - Hello 2014!

Better late than never right ?   I have so much Christmas fabric that I love, Love, love... and I never use it :(  This year I decided things would be different.... and they were -- just a little late for Christmas.   This afternoon I finished up the
"Redbird Christmas" pillow.  
I started with my "Family Tree Quilted Envelope Pillow" tutorial posted here on the Moda Bake Shop, designed a new applique center, and re-used my pillow insert. 
Redbird Christmas
The final finish of 2013.
I used hand dyed wool from a local quilt shop and some very old Holly Taylor fabric with a little Judie Rothermel and Blackbird Design fabrics mixed in.  For the pillow front, I cut my own 2.5" strips from yardage and it worked out perfectly.
I used Valdani 12Wt Pearle cotton to hand stitch the wool applique and Aurifil Mako 50Wt Cotton for the piecing, cotton applique, and machine quilting -- LOVE these threads!!

2021 update:  Ahhh -- for those of you that follow me now, you know I would choose to use Aurifil 12wt wool or 12wt cotton for my wool applique.   Being on a spool will allow you to use these high quality threads on your machine or by hand. 
 I quilted it with my Janome Horizon using a Queen Supreme Slider, Machingers gloves and lots of patience ;)
 As you can see - I added a little stuffing to the bird and the tree -- makes quilting it a little more of a challenge but I just LOVE the dimension that it adds.  What do you think ?
For the back I used the same Holly Taylor fabric from my stash -- it sure feels good to use up some fabric.   
(Rarely happens... ha ha ha).
If you're interested in the template for the tree and/or the bird pop on over to my Throwback Thursday blog post about Redbird Christmas and download it from there.
 I would like to take a minute and thank you all for supporting my blogging and sewing efforts this year!  It's really been an awesome adventure and without all the great bloggers and readers out there I'm not sure what would have motivated me to continue to learn and grow and share.   So.... 
Thank you all so much and have a wonderful New Year!    
2014 Can you believe it ?  
Bring it On!!

Off to celebrate my "little" brothers 50th Birthday -- he turns 50 tomorrow -- 
A New Years' Baby... 

Hugs to all,
Happy New Year!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Teardrops of Love Part 3: Stitching Basics - Long Edges and Easy Turns

I'm excited to share Part 3 of "Teardrops of Love - a needle turn applique tutorial".  Part 3 focuses on Stitching Basics - Long Edges and Easy Turns. 

Specifically we will cover:
  • thread color
  • threading and knotting your needle
  • hiding your knot 
  • needle turn stitch 
  • curves
  • making a turn at an outer point 
  • finishing off your stitching
If you missed Parts 1 and 2 of Teardrops of Love you can review them here:

Part 1: Tools
Part 2: Marking, Cutting and Basting Shapes

You can also download the Teardrops of Love PDF Summary and Shapes Template (to be updated with Part 3 soon) from my right sidebar.   

I LOVE feedback -- so please, if you have other tips and tricks and would like to share them with the readers please comment below for all to see.

Lets get started:

Our shapes are traced, marked, cut and basted onto the background fabric -- now for thread selection.  If you missed learning about my favorite threads - click here for a review in the Thread section.  I always choose from an Aurifil or Mettler thread -- they work for me -- I love them both.

Audition thread color:

... that you have in your stash -- if nothing matches exactly lean toward using a slightly darker shade (rather than a lighter one) - I think it blends better.  For this teardrop I chose to go with the Aurifil Mako 50Wt #2460.  It worked perfectly.

Cut threads: 

... Cut about 18 inches of thread from the spool.  Thread your "Ultra Fine" threader through the eye of the needle and then place one end of your thread through the guide to the left of the needle.  Hold the threader securely where the metal meets the paper and gently slide the thread through the eye of the needle by pulling the needle in the opposite direction of the threader paper guide.

Why 18 inches ?  You want to start small so you're not getting frustrated with your thread getting in the way or getting knotted as you stitch.  As you gain confidence you can use larger pieces of thread.  Be safe now, get comfortable, learn and gain confidence.   You CAN do it !!

A Quilters Knot:  

I was taught to make a quilters knot to avoid twisting a knot into my thread.  You want to avoid twists in your thread if you can (they make unwanted knots while you are stitching).  Follow these simple directions to make a quilters knot:

1.  Hold the threaded needle in your right hand (if you are right handed).
2.  Lay the long end of your thread over the top of the needle
3.  Secure this end against the needle with your thumb
4.  Loop the loose thread (to the left) under then over the needle 3 times

5.  Pinch the loops against the needle with your thumb and index finger and use your left hand to pull the needle, sliding the loops down the needle, over the eye, and all the way down the length of the thread making a knot at the end of your thread.

A Quilters Knot:

Try it a few times and learn a Quilters Knot - avoid using the twist method of making a knot. 

Time to Stitch - Yippee !

To get started choose a spot on your applique piece not immediately next to an inside or outside corner/point.  I chose to start about an inch away from the point of the teardrop.  This gives me some room to get in the swing of stitching before I need to stitch the actual point.

Note:  If you are working on a leaf or a piece where the alignment is critical, start near the critical alignment area so you can manipulate where the pieces come together.  This will make sense as you progress in your applique.

Once you've chosen your starting point, gather your fabric in your left hand.   Here is an image of how I hold my applique piece in my left hand.

... If you are left handed I apologize - please do the opposite of what I mention -- so sorry.

Your left hand does a TON of work for needle turn applique.  It holds and positions the fabric, it creases the fabric, it gives stability and it acts as a guide for your right hand to actually stitch -- don't underestimate the importance of this hand.  It is working above and below your applique piece at all times.

Bury your knot:

No need to have unsightly knots on the back side of your background fabric, bury your knot in the crease of your applique piece by coming up from the wrong side of the applique fabric.

See the knot on the back side of your applique piece.

Turn, Crease, Stitch, Repeat:

Now, use your needle to begin to turn the seam allowance under.  Press your needle into the fabric on the seam allowance and sweep the seam allowance under. 

 Continue to use your needle (and fingers if necessary) to work the seam allowance under to the inside marked line.  Once it's under, use your left thumb to crease the fabric so it will "stay" for stitching.

**  Don't crease too much - you want to maintain that 3 dimensional appearance for your applique - I LOVE the 3D effect!


Take your stitch by aligning the tip of your needle where the thread came up (from securing your knot), dropping behind the applique crease bury your needle to the back of the background fabric.

Travel an 1/8th of an inch behind the background fabric and when you come back to the top of the fabric grab "just a pinch" of the applique crease to secure it to the background.

** You are going to repeat this series of actions over and over.
  1. Use the needle to turn the seam allowance under to the inside mark
  2. Crease the turn with your left thumb and left hand fingers
  3. Place the tip of the needle under where your last stitch exited the top of the fabric
  4. Travel behind the background fabric about 1/8th of an inch
  5. Bring the tip of the needle through the background and grab "just a pinch" of the creased applique fabric to secure it.
Over and 
 over and

Things to consider:

  • Don't pull your stitch too taut - it will show a ripple or gathered effect on the applique
  • Turn your seam allowance as you go - don't get too far ahead of yourself -  you can turn further ahead on a straight edge than on a curved edge. 
  • Take smaller stitches when you are on a curve or nearing an inside or outside turn.
  • On a really tight curve you might take one stitch and one turn each time - doing this will allow you to create a very rounded edge with no flat spots.
  • Don't be hard on yourself - it's a learned motion - the comfort level will increase over time and with practice.

After a little more wash, rinse and repeat -- here is an image of the back side of the background fabric

 So we've worked ourselves up to the point of the teardrop - there are a few things to consider:

  • As you approach a turning point, take smaller stitches to secure the area and prepare to stitch the point.

  • Continue to turn, crease and stitch until you've reached the inside mark of the point.
  •  Take a stitch at the point of the turn.
  •  Now take an extra "in place" stitch at the inside mark of the point - this helps stabilize the point for you to turn
  •  Turn your fabric, prepare to turn the point under and stitch down the other side.  If there is excess fabric at the point, trim it off.  In the teardrop point there is no excess to be trimmed.
  •   Use the needle to grab both layers of applique fabric and turn both layers under the teardrop point.  The picture is deceiving - the needle does not go through the background fabric - only through the two layers of applique fabric.
  •  Turning the layers at the point under.  Once turned, use your left thumb and fingers to secure the turn - preparing to stitch it in place.
  •  Once the fabric point is turned and tucked under use thumb to secure it.
  •  Stitch just to the left of the point to secure it.  If necessary use the needle or a toothpick to smooth the fabric under the point.  Continue to wash, rinse and repeat taking smaller stitches near the point to secure the double layer of fabric under the point.
  •   Take smaller stitches near the point to secure the fabric
  •  Continue to turn the fabric, crease and stitch toward the original starting point.  Because this is a long straight edge, feel free to turn and crease ahead, aligning the edge with the original starting point.
  •  Continue to stitch and allow a few stitches to overlap at the original starting point.
  •  Finish top thread by stitching past the original starting point and then pushing the needle to the back of the fabric.
  • This view of the backside of the applique shows you the slight overlap in stitching and where the finishing thread came through from the front.

  •  Once you've double checked the front of the applique to make sure the thread is not loose or caught - stitch three "in place" stitches in the back to secure/knot the applique thread.
  •  This image shows the three small or "in place" stitches and the thread buried between the background and the applique.   Trim the thread where it exits the fabric from being buried.
  • WOW - you're almost there.  Now flip your applique back to the front and admire your beautiful work.  You've learned alot in this session so take it all in and know that you'll get better each time you do it.  
  •  Now lets cut those basting threads here and there on the front of your applique (use care to NOT cut your applique shape !!).   After the basting thread is cut in a few places it should pull right out of the shape exposing your somewhat finished teardrop!!   Yippee!!
  • There it is, your first teardrop is stitched down !  Wasn't that fun (I really think it's fun - I hope you do too!). 

If you've followed me this far -- Congratulations -- your well on your way to beautiful Needle Turned Applique!!   This tutorial can be followed to stitch down the remainder of your teardrops.

Stop by again for Part 4:  Continuing Needle Turn - Points Inside and Out.  Part 4 will cover stitching the hearts on the teardrop.  I'm getting excited to finish this top with you.

Until next time -- I hope you had a blessed Christmas and wishing everyone a Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

From Our Home to Yours...

Oh tidings of comfort and joy!
May you be blessed with time to spend with those you love.
Merry Christmas fellow quilters...


Saturday, December 14, 2013

And the Giveaway Winner is:

Thank you all for participating in Giveaway Day !  What a wonderful week of Giveaway's its been!   There were a total of 197 comments on the Giveaway Day post and many visitors new to my blog decided to follow -- welcome aboard!    I didn't exactly tally the responses to my question but I think "piecing" wins the majority vote!    I'm always in awe at those who have the patience and skill to piece - it's definitely not my strong point.
 Before I announce the winner let me share again "Teardrops of Love - a needle turn applique tutorial".   The first two Parts of the tutorial have been published;   Part 1: Tools and Part 2: Marking, Cutting and Basting.  There is also a PDF summary posted on my sidebar where you'll find the Applique Templates for the tutorial.  Stay tuned for Part 3...

If you're at all interested in Needle Turn Applique I would Love to have you follow along with the tutorial and let me know what you think.   I'm really excited to share my love of applique with others.

I'm also working on a Holiday version of my Family Tree Quilted Envelope Pillow.  You can see the original post here - and the free pattern & tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop here.   My goal is to have it done before Christmas -- keeping my fingers crossed.
 Now lets talk about our winner.... drum roll please... Mr Random Generator did the legwork tonight:
Here is comment number 113:
Congratulations Jessica!  Like many others I too love working on the binding.  There is something about the hand stitching that is so very relaxing.   I'll get your package in the mail Monday! 

We're expecting some snow this weekend -- perfect for sewing and preparing for the holidays.

May you all be blessed with time to share with your families this holiday.