Saturday, January 25, 2014

Welcome! Redbird and Berries - Grow Your Blog - and a Giveaway!

Welcome everyone - it's a busy and exciting time here at the blog - I'm so thrilled you stopped by!

I'm really excited to share my latest design and Mini Quilt recipe, "Redbird and Berries" published today on the Moda Bake Shop.  To celebrate my 2nd Moda Bake Shop recipe I'm having a "Redbird and Berries" Giveaway.  Be sure to enter below!


Welcome Grow Your Blog hoppers! 
2 Bags Full
Special thanks to Vicki at 2 Bags Full for hosting such a great blog hop.  Once you've entered the "Redbird and Berries" Giveaway be sure to click the icon above for an opportunity to visit more than 500 quilters, crafters and DIY'ers sharing their ideas, blogs and giveaways with thousands of readers across the world.   What an awesome opportunity to find other creative peeps to connect with.

About me:  My name is Karen - and I'm a bird-aholic, fabric-aholic, swim-aholic, blog-aholic, wool-aholic, applique-aholic, free motion quilt-aholic, and gramma-aholic.  I've never sold a pattern but I have a few free tutorials and patterns to share with you.  Checkout my sidebar and my blog header to find them.

Now that you know all about me, let me share more of "Redbird and Berries" and talk Giveaway!

This pretty little wall hanging, "Redbird and Berries" was inspired by the many Northern Cardinals that grace our front yard year-round.  
The recipe uses fun Mini Charms of "Little Black Dress 2" by BasicGrey for Moda paired with "Grunge" for Moda.   
I had a blast putting this 21.5" x 29.5" wall hanging together.  It was prepared with needle turn applique, bias stems, and Perfect Circle berries and was quilted on my Janome Horizon.    You can download the free tutorial by visiting the Moda Bake Shop here.  Redbird and Berries PDF Download is also now available for free at My Craftsy Store. Click ==> here.
Of course I used Aurifil Mako 50Wt Cotton for the hand and machine stitching.  I just love Aurifil thread.  I free motion quilted the entire top without a single thread break - now that's enough to make a girl sing!!

If you're new to hand applique -- you can checkout my needle turn applique tutorial "Teardrops of Love" by clicking here.
When you visit the Moda Bake Shop recipe for "Redbirds and Berries" you'll find all the details to make this mini-quilt and a printer friendly version you can download.  I didn't go into the fine details of layering the Redbird - if ya'll are interested I can share that here with a blog post.   Leave a comment letting me know if this would be helpful.

Redbird and Berries PDF Download is also now available for free at My Craftsy Store. Click ==> here.

You can see the Mask and Beak Tutorial by clicking ==> here.
On with the Giveaway!! 

Giveaway Closed :(

I'm excited to share with one lucky reader a "Redbird and Berries" starter kit.  The kit includes 30+ mini charm pieces of Little Black Dress 2, several Grunge Couture bias stems, and enough Grunge fabric to make the Redbird including the mask and beak.  What a great start to having your own "Redbird and Berries" mini quilt.
Redbird and Berries Starter Kit Giveaway
To enter the giveaway -- leave a comment below telling me what you like best about the mini quilt.

Giveaway Closed :(

If you're a follower (old or new) -- let me know that in a separate comment for a 2nd chance to win.

If you leave a comment on the Moda Bake Shop recipe you'll earn a 3rd chance to win!

Tweet, blog, or Pinterest about "Redbird and Berries", come back and tell me and earn even more  chances to win!

WOW!   That's at least 6 different ways to win.   Best of luck everyone.

I'll announce the winner on February 15th along with the other "Grow Your Blog" participants.  Don't forget to visit there by clicking the icon above.

Before I go I want to give special thanks to my sisters (Janet and Michele) and my husband (Cliff) for their support on this project.  The three of them are my sounding boards and my cheerleaders - I'm fortunate to have them in my life.   Love you guys.

Hugs all,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Teardrops of Love Part 4: Points Inside and Out

Welcome to Part 4 of "Teardrops of Love - a needle turn applique tutorial".

Part 4 - Points Inside and Out is where we needle turn the applique heart on our previously appliqued teardrop. 
If you're joining for the first time, Welcome! - -  you'll want to review Parts 1 through 3 of the tutorial - just click on the links below.

Part 1: Tools - a few of my favorite things
Part 2: Marking, Cutting and Basting Shapes
Part 3: Stitching Basics - Long Edges and Easy Turns

You can also download the "Teardrops of Love" PDF Summary and Shapes Template  from my sidebar.  It will be updated to include Part 4 in the next few days.

In today's post we will cover many of the same skills that we learned in Part 3 but in less detail.  Specifically: 
  • choosing a thread color
  • hiding your knot
  • needle turn stitch
  • easy curves
  • making a turn at an outer point
  • (NEW) making a turn at an inside point
  • finishing off your stitching
If you need more detail on any of the above items -- skip on over to Part 3 by clicking here.

Thanks to everyone for their great feedback on Part 3 - I love it when comments help me learn and grow (or make me blush)....  Comments are the best -- thank you, thank you !!

Ok - Lets get started:

This is where we left off - the Teardrop was appliqued and the coordinating heart was marked, creased with the Hera marker, and pinned. 

Baste the heart to the Background: outlined in Part 2 - use YLI basting thread to baste your heart shape on the background fabric - in this case the "background" is the Teardrop that we previously appliqued.

Audition applique thread color:

... as we did in Part 3 choose a thread color that matches your applique piece (not the background).  If nothing matches exactly lean toward using a slightly darker shade of thread - I think it blends better.  

For the heart shape I decided to go with Aurifil Mako 50Wt Color #2000.  The color worked perfectly...

Have I mentioned that I love Aurifil for hand stitching as well as machine quilting ? No?

Prepare your needle, thread, and Quilters Knot:

...As we did in Part 3, cut about 18 inches of thread from the spool.  Thread with the "Ultra Fine" threader and tie a Quilters Knot.  Need more detail - click here.

Bury the knot:

...bury your Quilters Knot by drawing the needle from the back of the applique fabric. Come through on the marked line to prepare for your first stitch. 

Time to Stitch - Woohoo!

...we're ready to start the wash (ha ha ha).  You know what to do.... Turn, Crease, Stitch and Repeat...

Use your needle to turn the seam allowance under immediately in front of where the knot was buried.  Use your marked and Hera creased line as your guide.  Turn just enough to take a stitch.
Turn, Crease, Stitch, Repeat:

... once the seam allowance is turned under, align the tip of your needle where the thread came up (from burying the knot), drop behind the applique crease, bury your needle through the background fabric, travel appx 1/8th of an inch and when the needle comes back to the top fabric grab "just a pinch" of the applique crease to secure it to the background.   (Whew - that was a mouthful).  If you need more review click back to Part 3.  
  • Now work your way down the side of the heart toward the point.  
  • Remember as you approach the point you'll want to take smaller stitches to begin to stabilize your fabric to turn.   
  • When you reach the point where you need to turn, take a stitch at the point of the turn, and then take another stitch to secure the point.
  • At this point you'll want to trim any excess fabric at the tip of the point.  When we stitched the teardrop there really wasn't any excess fabric.  On the outside point of the heart there is.  
  • Use the Elan scissors and trim the excess - it makes the turn easier and allows for a smooth point.
  • Now you're ready to turn the point seam allowance under.  Use the needle to grab both layers of the applique fabric and turn both layers under the heart point.  
  • Note:  The needle does not go through the background fabric here - it is only use to turn the applique.
  • After you sweep the fabric under the point immediately use your left hand thumb to hold the fabric stable - now you want to get a stitch in there to stabilize the turned fabric.   Celebrate !!
  • Here is the first stitch going in after the turn - Yippee!
Now that the outside point is turned we're back to Turn, Crease, Stitch and Repeat.  These steps are the foundation for needle turn applique:
  1. Use the needle to turn the seam allowance under to the marked edge (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 excited the top of the fabric
  4. Travel behind the background fabric approximately 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.
When you're on a straight edge it's ok to turn the fabric ahead of your stitching -- that way you can take several stitches without using your needle to turn.
As I worked my way down the side of the heart I ran into some trouble where my seam allowance was cut a little short.  The fabric starts to fray and I realize the secret weapon must be brought out.  So a plain old toothpick dampened helps solve the turning trouble.   Just a little help and we round the bend without a mess. 
  • Now we're on that Turn, Crease, Stitch and Repeat roll - as you work around the curve be sure to take smaller stitches so your curve will be smooth and not choppy. 
  • Continue to to wash, rinse and repeat until you can't easily turn the fabric near the inside point.
  • When you approach the inside point of the heart it will be necessary to trim the fabric.  You'll know it's time when you can no longer easily turn the fabric under.  
  • Use the Elan scissors and trim to within a few threads of your marked line directly at the point.
  • Continue by turning the near fabric under.  No need to take any stitches at this point. 
  • Shift your needle to the fabric on the far side of the inside point.  The needle should turn the far fabric under, sweep under the point and end at the near side fabric.  
  • This part is a little tricky but with some practice you'll get it.  The key is to have both sides of the point turned under before you place too many stitches.
  • If the first sweep doesn't turn the allowance under nicely, try again.   
  • If necessary use the damp toothpick or use your fingers.  
  • Don't work it so much that the fabric frays and becomes unworkable.
  • Stitch your way toward the point now.  When you reach the point your stitches will be so small they are nearly like "stay" or in place stitches.

  • Slow, small, but sure!
  • No need to over stitch the inside point. 
  • If you have fraying dampen your needle or a toothpick and gently sweep them under.  
  • Soon you'll find yourself coming up the other side of the point.  Congratulations!
  • You're in the groove now -- keep stitching -- taking small stitches on that curve so it will be smooth when you're done.
  • Rounding the bend to the home stretch -- Wash, rinse, repeat !
  •  Keep going...
  • When you use the a Hera Marker to crease your fabric it makes it easier to turn ahead - even on a curve.  
  • Turn ahead as long as you're not jeopardizing the shape of the applique.
  • As you near the original starting point starting thinking about turning your fabric ahead all the way to the starting point.
  • The more room you leave yourself to smooth the turned fabric the nicer the junction finishes.
  • Continue to stitch past the starting point by a couple of small stitches.
  • Push your needle and ALL of the thread through to the background.  
  • Make sure there are no loose or knotted or caught threads on the right side of the applique.
  •  Take 3 small stitches in place to secure the applique thread on the back.
  • Now bury your thread by traveling between the background and the applique piece.  
  • Trim the thread flush where it exits the travel.
  • Nearly done... snip a few sections of the basting thread and remove them.
Ta-daa!  It's not perfect but it's hand made by YOU!!  Congratulations!
This concludes Part 4 of "Teardrops of Love".  We've covered alot of information since we started this journey and I hope that you find it beneficial for your needle turn skills.  At this point you're prepared to stitch the remaining teardrops and hearts onto the background fabric.

We'll be back soon with a wrap up, Part 5.   In part 5 I'm considering covering applique berries and stems -- let me know if this would be helpful.

Thanks so much for sharing the journey.

Until next time.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A New Year of Work In Progress

Ahhh the New Year has brought a whirlwind of activity for me!!   I can't believe it's already the middle of the month.  I thought I'd share a sampling of the multitude of things capturing my attention and "spare" time.

Preparing new wool designs / samples for an upcoming Fiber Fest!
Trying out my hand at free motion feathers... a few tweaks ARE necessary!  Thanks for the feedback my friend  ;)
Creating the TearDrops of Love Tutorial (Part 4 is prepped and nearly ready to be published)
Sewing and documenting an upcoming Moda Bake Shop Recipe (keep an eye out - currently scheduled for Jan 24th)
 Needle turning my Quilting the Garden Block 3 (Loving this Herb basket -shhh I"m behind)
Choosing fabrics for this months' QTG Block 4 (Ohh  I really love this block) - wait till you see it!!
Making a couple of fantastic short trips scouting for, observing and photographing a Snowy Owl.  So very blessed - and I shared one of these trips with my sister - how special is that ?
Oh and did I mention that I decided to participate in the most fantastic new (free) Block of the Month?  "Benjamin Biggs" is an 1848 Wedding Quilt.  The very talented ladies, Brenda and Gay, at Dear Jane-Just Takes 2 and Sentimental Stitches have reproduced the pattern and offer a block a month for free!  
The first block is available until the end of the month of January, 2014 -- so if you're interested you should jump on the download - click the Dear Jane-Just Takes 2 link above.

Although Brenda did a fantastic job of mimicking the original first block "Apple Pie Ridge Star" (see it in the upper left corner of the quilt picture above), I wasn't happy with the chunky style.  Several ladies did investigative work and found various versions of the block online -- so I decided to put my own twist on it.  The pattern is free for the taking -- but to stay true to the rules of the game - I will leave it available until the end of the month.  The pattern has been uploaded to the Just Takes 2 Facebook page and well as the Just Takes 2 Yahoo Group page.  If you don't have access to either and would like this block -- leave me a message (be sure you are not a NO-REPLY blogger) and I'll send you the PDF - but only until the end of January, 2014.
These are the fabrics I'll use to complete my version of the Ben Biggs Wedding Quilt.  I've decided to use a bit of French General, Jo Morton, Laundry Basket, Primitive Gatherings and other fabrics.  So excited to give it a go!!
The finished quilt measure 100 inches square !  Woohoo !!  Don't you just LOVE the scalloped border ?

Oh and the snowstorms brought many opportunities to watch the beautiful birds that frequent our yard.

Northern Cardinals  (Male and Female)
 White Breasted Nuthatch
 Purple Finch
 More Northern Cardinals (Male and Female)
Thanks for stopping by today -- It's a tough week here on the farm as we mark the Anniversary week of loosing two of my forever horse friends -- Chief and Nuisance.  They passed a year apart from one another during this week 2 and 3 years ago.   I miss them both terribly -- they were so important to me.  You can see their pictures and read more here:  Chief was shown on my first ever blog post -  gosh I miss him. I leave you with the sunrise that greeted me this morning - a reminder of their beauty!
Take care now,