Thursday, February 27, 2014

Needle Turn Applique Catch Up and Process

Getting caught up on my "Quilting the Garden" BOM by Blackbird Designs.  A good friend and mentor of mine, Debbie Wick, made the quilt years ago and small group of close friends meet at Debbie's house each month to work on our own versions of this beautiful quilt with Debbie's guidance.

Here is the latest block we're working on, Summer Cottage, this is an image of Debbie's finished block.  Awesome isn't it?  She does fantastic work...
And here is the same block from the "Quilting the Garden" book: (I don't remember if this is Alma's or Barb's block - sorry).
My Summer Cottage block currently looks like this - The roof is ready to stitch down.
 What do you think of those side windows ?  Don't they look like stained glass?  The fabric was a  special gift from Debbie.  Love them.
Love that background fabric too!  Another special gift - thank you my friend.
In case you're interested in the process -- I've outlined some details:

*** NOTE:  If you're new to Needle Turn Applique and want to learn more, you can reference "Teardrops of Love - a needle turn applique tutorial" on my blog header tabs.  There is an in-depth 4 part tutorial documented there. ***

The grass has some areas that are needle turned and some that can be left raw because another applique piece will be placed on top of it.

To transition from one area to the next first snip the fabric at the transition mark, travel with a running stitch to the next transition, snip the fabric again, and continue with your needle turn.
When you prepare the piece for needle turn, don't mark the areas that can be left raw - this will be your clue to transition from turning to raw edge.  Be sure to give yourself a comfortable amount of leeway so you don't end up with raw edge where you need needle turn.  At the end of the turned area, snip or clip the fabric so it will lay flat and then travel with a running stitch to the next area that will be turned.  Here is another view:
Below is the completed view.  The raw edge area will have a flower pot positioned on top of it.
Another important tool for applique piece placement is an overlay.   There are several tools you can use including the Dritz overlay sheets or thin clear vinyl.  I use the Dritz flimsy clear sheets (it comes on a roll), trace the edges of the critical pieces on the sheet with a dry erase marker, and then use the marked overlay to position each applique piece.   When you're not using the overlay it has enough "cling" to hang on a clean painted wall. 
Using the overlay for the grass placement.
Using the overlay for the house placement.  It's hard to tell from this picture but the needle turn lines are drawn on the pink house and should line up exactly under the overlay lines of the same.
A view of placing the roof - I'm making progress.
Here are some of the other blocks I have going - Block1 - my poor little bird still needs to be stitched.
Detail view:
I love the star -- it's an old Blackbird Design fabric !!  Woohoo!
Block 2 -- remember I worked on this one when we went to San Diego in October -- great place to visit quilt shops !

Oh - and the Herb Block -- it's a bit stalled but an easy one to work on in time:  I love the background on this one too!!
That's all for tonight - If you have any questions on the Overlay or the stitching for layering of applique pieces please leave me a comment - I would be happy to try to answer them.
Have a good week all and stay tuned -- that 100 post giveaway is in the works - and some other exciting news to share with you!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Redbird and Berries Mini Quilt - Mask and Beak Tutorial

Hi everyone - those that are working on the "Redbird and Berries" Mini Quilt in cotton (Recipe published at the Moda Bake Shop) and now available as a free download on My Craftsy Store,  I've put together a little tutorial to help position the Redbird mask and beak.  I hope you find it helpful.   
If you are new to needle turn applique please be sure to review "Teardrops of Love - a needle turn applique tutorial" under my blog header or by clicking here.  The 4 Part tutorial shares tools, steps, tips and tricks for basic needle turn applique.

First up:  Using template plastic, cut out the full bird template with face, mask and beak intact.  Additionally, cut out separate mask and beak templates as shown on the pattern.  (Pattern found on the last page of the Printer Friendly PDF at the Moda Bake Shop recipe - click here.)

As outlined in Teardrops of Love Part 2: Marking, Cutting and Basting Shapes, using the template plastic, trace the outline of the redbird on the fabric of your choice.

Place tick lines/marks on your fabric where the top and the bottom of the mask will border the red face of the cardinal.   This will help with mask alignment in a later step.  Be sure to mark the lines on the INSIDE of the face (the outside edge will be trimmed away).

As outlined in Teardrops of Love Part 1: Tools -- I used a Sewline Fabric Lead in Pink to trace the  redbird on the grunge fabric, skipping over the area where the mask and beak will be positioned.
After tracing around the perimeter of the template for your redbird, mask and beak, cut around the traced lines leaving appx 1/4 inch allowance to turn under.  Don't worry if you leave more than that, you can always trim as you go.
Next, as called out in Teardrops of Love Part 2: Marking, Cutting and Basting Shapes, baste the Redbird to the background fabric. I started stitching just above the upper tick mark and worked my way around the Redbird to the bottom tick mark.
When you get to the bottom tick mark for the mask you'll want to trim the excess fabric that is nearby the mask location.  There is no need to turn this fabric under - -the mask will be positioned here for a finished edge.

I used a running stitch to travel along the raw edge that will not be turned under.  This helps keep the fabric stable when you stitch the next layer over it.

Don't travel too close to the edge as you will be turning the black mask fabric under here and you don't want your running stitch in the way of that.
Now, grab that template, position it over the redbird, and align it with the traced lines on the mask to aid in positioning the mask. You can see from the image below that it fits fairly well -- just be sure it also aligns with the tick marks under the black fabric.  The turn or traced line on the mask should be resting on the tick mark you made on the redbird.
Once you find the right position for the mask, use applique pins to secure it for stitching.

The mask should include markings where the beak will be positioned.
Before you begin to sew the mask, trim excess fabric so you have a scant 1/4 inch (or less) to turn under.  There is a fine line between leaving too much bulk to turn under or having too little fabric to turn -- you will find your comfort zone after stitching for a while.  I'm confident that over time your comfort zone will change -- allowing you to leave a smaller seam allowance.

You can see I used black thread for sewing the mask.  Rule of thumb: Try to match thread to the color of the applique piece you're stitching, not the color of the background.
OK, before you begin to sew the mask, check once again to ensure that the inside mark on the mask aligns with the tick mark you put on the redbird.  I goofed my first time around and it was not aligned correctly.  That old seam ripper comes in handy at times ;)   When positioned correctly, needle turn it in place like you would any other applique piece.
Stitch around the perimeter of the mask, trimming and turning as you go.  In this case, because the beak area is so small, I decided to needle turn the entire mask. (I did not leave a raw edge where the beak will be positioned).
Once the entire mask is sewn on, then finish off the black thread on the back of the background fabric as described in Teardrops of Love Part 3: Long Edges and Easy Turns
Next up -- get that beak sewn on!!  Before you begin to stitch give yourself a little jump start and finger press the bottom edge of the beak (see below).  This makes it a bit easier to start turning and sewing the beak on.
Referring to the redbird template, position the beak such that that top of the beak is somewhat flush with the top outer edge of the mask - and the bottom of the beak is buried within the mask area (see below).

Pin in place. 

You may notice that I broke the Rule of Thumb when sewing the beak -- I did not have any thread the correct color so I stuck with the black (which really wasn't so smart).  Best to try to match the color of the applique piece - and if you can't exactly match go darker (but not as dark as black (?What was I thinking ?)).
You're almost done, now sew around the perimeter of the beak, bury and tie off your thread on the backside of the background and Admire Your Work !!   Don't be hard on yourself - it doesn't have to be perfect.  It will look beautiful when you're done.... Woohoo!

That's a wrap!!  If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section or send me an email - I will do my best to answer them.  Also remember, if you have pictures of quilts made from Moda Bake Shop Recipes you can share them at the Moda Bake Shop Flickr group.

Also remember you can download the PDF version of Redbird and Berries is available as a free download from My Craftsy Store.

Now be sure to stay tuned for the 100th post milestone giveaway!  I'm getting my thoughts, and some prizes together to share with you!!  Thanks for being loyal followers - it's so much fun... 

Have a wonderful weekend all -- I need to get some rest as we're sledding with the grandchildren tomorrow (oops - today - oh my!!).


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Redbird and Berries Winner and New Wool WIP

Hi everyone -- so very excited to announce the winner of the Grow Your Blog & Redbird and Berries Giveaway.   Thanks again to Vicki at 2 Bags Full for hosting a spectacular Grow Your Blog event. 

My blog certainly grew and I'm thankful for each and every follower (old and new) -- welcome and lets have some fun!!

There were an overwhelming number of entries in the giveaway -- I can't thank you all enough for your generous comments and positive feedback on the "Redbird and Berries Mini Quilt.

Before we get to the winner I wanted to share a new wool design I've been working on for the upcoming Winter Recess Fiber Arts Festival.  The stitching is done but I've yet to quilt, bind and label it for Monday's show -- Gosh I wonder if I'll make the cut ?? 

I wanted to make something springy -- because you know -- I think we've all had enough cold and snowy weather here in the North East...  What do you think ?

 The Back:
 I'm not sure yet what I'll name this design but I'm enjoying the way it's coming together.  Of course I'm always bugging my sisters and husband for their input -- Hope I don't have to pay them by the hour ;)   

Would love to get your feedback on it -- too bright ? just right ? background opinions ?   I'm kinda finding my way with this design work so thanks for any feedback good and bad.

Ok -- now the winner....

There were 382 comments on my blog and over 100 comments on the Bake Shop Blog -- WOW... that is just awesome - thank you all so much.

Mr. Random Generator was used to choose the winner:
And the Winner is:
Congratulations France -- I'll be sending you an email later this evening and I look forward to getting your package in the mail.   

By the way -- this is my 100th post -- how did we get here ?  Stay tuned this week for a giveaway -- I would love to celebrate this milestone.

Have a wonderful weekend all !

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Finish - Simple Delightful Flowered Table Runner

A finish for the Fiber Festival! Woohoo - Yippee - Happy Dance!  
I attended a local Fiber Festival last fall with my sister Michele and we met several lovely and talented vendors there.  Included were spinners, felters, dyers, knitters and their animals including llamas, sheep, bunnies, alpaca and so on.   After having a brief discussion and sharing pictures with the owner of "Felt Goods", Cheryl Germain, she invited me to participate in the 2014 Winter Break Fiber Festival in Ithaca, NY coming up Monday, Feb 17th.   After enjoying the Christmas season I decided to prepare a table runner with wool and cotton and some pretty feather stitching.   What an excellent way to practice your Free Motion Quilting!

What I ended up with was a simple, delightful, flowered, feathered table runner -- I just LOVE it!
I started by marking the feather spine along a 16" by WOF (width of fabric) background with a water soluble pen.  Ask me why I didn't use my Hera Marker ? -- Maybe a senior moment ??

After practicing my feathers for days and days (and weeks and months) on paper, I jumped right in and stitched along the marked spine.  I used the bumpback method on the feathers, working my way up one side of the spine, traveling back to the starting point, and then working my way up the other side.  Although they could use a little sprucing up -- I was just tickled with how they came out.  Be sure to jump to the bottom of this post where I brag about all of the lovely ladies that have helped or inspired me to develop my free motion feather skills over the last two years.  They are the best !!

I used Aurifil Mako 50wt Cotton #2310 thread to do the stitching on this little gem and, as always, it worked wonderfully!!  No breaks, no nasty thread buildup - just pretty stitches !!  Thanks Aurifil!!
I did have a slight problem that required ripping out my first feather set -- but that was because I failed to adjust my tension when switching to free motion stitching from feed dog (walking foot) stitching.  I find that I MUST set my tension to a higher number when I free motion quilt -- else I end up with Eyelashes on the back and very loose threads on the front :(

I stitched the main set of feathers, and then decided on the flower design.  Special thanks to Mark Lipinski's Facebook Fan Page for posting art work and inspiring tutorials every day.  Mark had recently shared a 3D flower tutorial (thanks Mark) so I set out to find a similar tutorial that would allow for a 3D flower with wool incorporated into the design.  I built the complete wool and cotton flower before I attached it to the background.  When ready, I used Valdani thread to hand stitch the wool (only) to the background fabric.  
This allowed the fabric center to be more 3D (because it was not stitched down).   The center of the flower was ruched using Anita Shackelford's Circular Ruching Guide -- a lovely tool and technique I learned from the talented Sharon Stroud many moons ago -- thanks Sharon!!
Once all 4 flowers were attached to the background I added some complimentary feathers around them, again marking the spine only with a water soluble pen.   Then the filler decision had to be made.  I didn't want anything to compete with the feathers so a small stipple seemed like the right thing to do (new to me -- but it was fun!!). 
A fantastic journey -- I learned alot - and I KNOW I will be doing it again soon.

Now let me share with you a few of the talented ladies that I've learned from and/or have been inspired by over the last two years.  First up, Leah Day -- if you want to learn to FMQ and you haven't visited Leah's Free Motion Quilting Project blog - you should make it a MUST STOP.  Leah shares so much information about FMQ it will blow your mind.  

From Leah's blog I found Joanne Threadhead -- another talented Domestic machine quilter (one of her many, many skills).  Joanne comes from a long line of quilters, she shares great tutorials on her blog, and teaches basic and intermediate FMQ near her hometown of Manitoba, Canada.  You really should stop by her blog.

From Joanne's blog I discovered yet another lovely, giving and talented lady, Wendy Sheppard.   I must say that Wendy's feathers are the closest to what I would consider "my style".  Not to say that I can stitch them yet, but I swoon over the composition of Wendy's feathers.  I also took Wendy's "Learn to Machine Quilt" class online at Annie's -- I highly recommend taking this class if you haven't already.  You can find Wendy's blog here (Ivory Spring), her fantastic "Thread Talk" and "Virtual Trunk Show" with hordes of pictures of her feather quilts on her sidebar. 

A couple other ladies that inspired me included Angela Walters and Patsy Thompson - both ladies so very skilled in what they do.  Both have books, online courses and DVD's to go along with pages and pages of free information about quilting.  I should also Mention Karen McTavish -- Karen has several YouTube video's of her creating her beautiful bump back Victorian style feathers -- oh so sweet!!

Last but not least,  most recently I've been inspired by the wonderfully creative art made by Leslie McNeil of MarveLes Art Studio .  Talk about talented - my goodness Leslie makes the most fantastic art quilts I've ever seen. Check out her blog - and while you're there jump on over to her Etsy shop -- WOW !!
So these are the ladies that have inspired and/or taught me Free Motion Quilting and Feathers over the last few years - Thank you all sew much !

I hope you found this information helpful -- a future tutorial or pattern might find its way on the blog in the near future - stay tuned.

By the way -- Happy Valentine's Day and be sure to jump to this post if you haven't already entered the Redbird and Berries Giveaway that ends February 15th!!

I'll be back then to announce a winner -- and I'm thinking 100th post is coming right up -- another giveaway may be in order ??

Hugs all -- have a safe, warm and productive weekend.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday

Hello dear friends -- this week brings with it a few items that need to be finished in short order.  I hope you enjoy the journey with me while I share some Work in Progress.

* The Redbird and Berries Giveaway is open until Feb 15th  -- click here to enter *

I'm still humbled by the positive feedback on the Redbird and Berries Mini Quilt.  Not only on my blog but also on the Moda Bake Shop post -- thank you all so much.  I tried my best to keep up with replies on the comments but a few things got in the way -- Soo many of you were "No-Reply" Bloggers and did not provide your email address in your comment :(   Please, please, if you've never checked, be sure to check to see if you are a "No-Reply" blogger.  Click here to see one of the many great tutorials for "No Reply" blogger syndrome.  Thanks again for all of your fantastic feedback !!

On with the Work in Progress....

I'm working on completing a pair of wool appliqued, envelope backed, quilted pillows.  The last two nights I finished the pebble quilting on them.  I still debating on doing an outline or stem stitch around the wool pieces using Pearl cotton - not sure - what do you think ?
I had a blast quilting these pieces -- they were small and manageable.   I do, however, need to design a new quilting foot that works well with wool applique with a 1/4 inch (or more) rise on it.  Does anyone have any input or suggestions for this ?   Hoping to turn this project into my first pattern and share on Craftsy - very exciting!!
Next up -- I'm nearly done with the applique on "Teardrops of Love - a needle turn applique tutorial".  Sorry about all the wrinkles...  I haven't pressed it yet   :(
I think it needs a few more hearts appliqued before it's done.  That won't take long.  I just LOVE the French General charm pack that I used - have I mentioned that I'm addicted to birds ?
One thing I realized while stitching this piece is that with every new needle turn piece I learn something new or just feel more comfortable - this is why with needle turn applique as well as Free Motion quilting "practice, practice, practice" is always the motto...
 I had fun doing some fussy cutting of the fabric for these teardrops.
Once I get Teardrops of Love quilted I'll finish up the tutorial and post Part 5 - Wrapup.  At that point maybe starting an advanced Needle Turn Tutorial would be in order ?  What do you think  - more on layering, large pieces, etc ?

Finally...  Redbird and Berries in Wool is ready to be layered, basted and quilted...
This piece (above) looks a little wonky because I originally made bias (cotton) stems and machine appliqued them onto the background.  I did NOT like them but rather than ripping them out I decided to stitch the wool stems on top of the cotton stems.  I hope this does not come back to haunt me when I start quilting.  Keep your fingers crossed.
I used a hand blanket stitch on the wool Redbird using Valdani 12 Wt Cotton thread, an overhand or whip stitch on the wool stems with DMC Cotton and, to finish the berries, I put a stitch or two in the center of them and left the edges raw to add dimension.   What do you think ?
Amongst other ongoing projects like Benjamin Biggs Wedding Quilt and Quilting the Garden BOM, the "to-do" list includes writing a post for layering of the cotton Redbird (mask and beak) -- I haven't forgotten ;)  

One other thing I wanted to share -- for those of you that LOVE applique, please stop by and visit my friend Wilma from the Netherlands -- she blogs here at Quilting Willempje.  Her most recent post shows the lovely handwork she has done on Esther Aliu's Love Entwined 1790 Marriage Coverlet.  You have to see this -- oh it makes my heart skip a beat - just beautiful!! 

Lastly, here in the Northeast, we had a foot of snowfall overnight.  This is a view out to the barnyard.
I'm thankful that I can work from home most days -- no trekking into Campus for me (thank heavens).

Happy hump day all!