Thursday, July 16, 2015

Among the BEST of the BEST! (& a giveaway!)

Quiltmaker magazine just released a brand new collection of Reader Favorites, a special collector's edition of 22 patterns selected from the past 33 years of publications.  Including this sweet little baby!  

Originally published in Quiltmaker May/June 2014 (& featured on the cover), my little Sheep Shape quilt pattern makes a new appearance as one of Quiltmaker's top 5 reader favorite kids' quilts, amazing!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ottoman Pouf Pillow!

Welcome to my stop on the Riley Blake Designs Home Dec ♥ Blog Tour!

Ottoman Pouf featuring Riley Blake Designs' "Sweet Nothings" by Zoe Pearn
Amy Butler's fun "Gumdrop" pillow pattern makes a great little footstool or seat.  I love it to prop my legs at the end of the day, watch my favorite Netflix series, bind a quilt or do a little handwork.

We've made this little pillow several different ways - using regular cotton fabric, pre-quilted fabric, and now with this luscious RBD home dec!  Soft and pretty, the fabric is easy to cut and sew using a regular needle.

I fortified the seams with an edge stitch.  I use an edge-stitch or edge-joining foot, which has a straight guide right down the center of the foot.

The guide easily glides along an edge, especially if you have pressed the seams to the side.  Then I just move my needle position to the far left or far right and stitch a nice, even 1/8" topstitch.

Then it was time to stuff.  It took 10 bags --  Charlie helped!  

The RBD home dec material is just as vibrant and beautiful as the original cotton prints.  It perfectly matches my quilt and pillow made a few years ago for my "How to Quilt" Cutting Corners series using the same line of fabric!
Pieceful Beginnings 

At this very moment I am on the East Coast finishing up a Mid-Atlantic Coast tour with my choir.
We've performed in some amazing places, have seen some amazing things, met some amazing people and sang our little hearts out.  Tomorrow we'll be homeward bound!  And then.... prop my tired feet up....  Aaah.

See the full range of Riley Blake Home Dec fabrics HERE.  And be sure to check out all of these creative ideas on the RBD Home Dec ♥ Blog Tour listed below.  I'm lucky to be included in this lineup with some my favorite people!  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Easy Applique' - Machine Blanket-Stitch

Cut it out, stitch it on, done!  For applique' the easy way, a blanket stitch is my go-to.  Many recent projects have had some sort of applique', and all of them used a blanket stitch.

Applique' turned this Simple Sadie into something super sweet for my niece's new baby!  I love to take clues from a cute print and enlarge the motif.  

  (I also took clues from the print for the quilting motifs.  Fabric: Gigi Giraffes?)

A blanket stitch is formed with a straight stitch along the outer edge of the applique' followed by a perpendicular stitch in and out of the applique' shape.  

I think it gives a neat, clean finish to raw-edge applique'.  Don't have a blanket-stitch option on your machine?  Try another decorative stitch, blind-hem stitch, even a shortened zig-zag stitch.

Here are a few TIPS:
* You know that little hole on the hook of the bobbin case?  Now is the time to thread the bobbin through it!  This creates a little bit of extra tension so the bobbin thread won't peek through to the top.

Or you can reduce the top tension by a little.  Or do both.

* Test your stitches on a scrap of fabric.  If you find that it puckers too much, try using a stabilizer such as freezer paper.  Press the waxy side of freezer paper to the wrong side of your fabric.  The stitches will perforate the paper and you can tear it off afterwards.  Play with the stitch length and width to see what looks good to you.  I generally use a width of about 2.0 to 2.5 with the stitch length also at 2.5.

* I like to match the thread color to the applique', but some people use black thread overall for a rustic, folk-artsy charm.

* Position applique' using lightweight fusible web, glue stick, 505 fabric adhesive spray, or pin in place (see more ways to prep and stitch in my raw-edge machine applique' basics tutorial:  I ♥ Applique').

* If possible, use an open-toe foot so you can see where you're stitching.

*Stitch in the ditch for the forward-moving stitches - the needle should hug the applique' edge for the outline stitch in the background fabric.  Aim for a perpendicular line from the edge for the horizontal stitches.  That can be a bit tricky on curves, but if the needle is down, it's easier to accomplish. Pivot with the needle in the "ditch", either before or after the horizontal stitch.  Sometimes, you just have to slow down and operate one stitch at a time.

* Some machines have a needle down option - very useful so you don't lose your position, especially when pivoting to change directions.  Otherwise, use the hand wheel to position the needle down.

*Lock stitches at the beginning and ending by holding the fabric so you get a couple of stitches in the same position.  If sewing around a shape, overlap the end stitches over the beginning stitches.
Little wall-hangings for choir seamstresses using scraps from our choir dresses.
Blanket-stitch applique' worked great on these ↑ polyester scraps.  It also worked beautifully on Minky plush fur too!  (I'll have to share some faux fur tips on another day.)
A comfy, cuddlesoft comfortor for someone special.
The other day, my Aunt & Uncle came over to make some quilts for gifts, also blanket-stitched projects.  Uncle Jack cut everything out and Aunt Margie got a good start stitching them down.  We used 505 basting spray to adhere the pieces.  They both rocked it!!  (I'll show final pictures later.)  Ü

Not bad for a couple of 82 year olds!  Loved it!
Armed & Dangerous.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fancy Finishes: Ric-Rac!

Here's a quick and fancy finish in the simplest way possible... using Ric-Rac!  

Today's tutorial is sponsored by Riley Blake Designs featuring fabrics from their new line by Zoe Pearn, Summer Song 2 and a few of my favorite notions they call Sew Together.

RBD's 1-1/2"-wide Jumbo Ric-Rac is my favorite for a quick finish - I think it resembles scallops without all the effort!  
"Simple Sadie" Free pattern
This "Simple Sadie" is the perfect quick quilt (8 seams, total!!)  Collect some large-print fabric that is just too cute to cut, add a border, then embellish with Ric-Rac or other notions instead of binding!  

This fabric is so adorable, even the selvages are just too cute!!
1-1/4 yards main print; (Summer Song 2 collection by Zoe Pearn for Riley Blake Designs)
   Cut:  1 @ 34 x 42" rectangle, 4 @ 5" squares
5/8 yard border print;
   Cut:  2 @ 5" x 34" strips, 2 @ 5" x 42" strips

1-1/2 yards backing  (RBD Gingham or Swiss Dots)
1/3 yard binding (optional) OR 6 yards Jumbo Teal Ric-Rac
48" x 58" batting  
GLUE STICK!  (a few, maybe!)
Removable fabric marking pen
I also added a little Hot Pink gathered gros-grain ribbon (6 yards) at the seamlines (do that before adding the ric-rac).  Simple cuteness.  

Here are a couple of samples I made to see how much of the ric-rac I wanted to reveal.  If you line up the edge of the jumbo ric-rac with the raw edge of the quilt then take 1/4" seam, you get windows! ↓↓

I love it, but couldn't figure out how to get the corners decent.  So I opted for the scallop look.  Whatever is laid out on the quilt body, that's what will show, minus the seam allowance, once the seam is sewn.

Cut out fabrics as indicated.  Stitch side borders to quilt center.  Stitch 5" squares to each end of the top and bottom border.  Match seams and sew top and bottom borders to the quilt.  If adding gathered ribbon trim to the seamlines, use a glue stick to position, then machine-stitch right down the center.  It is also helpful if you have pressed your seams open.

Mark each corner of the quilt top with a removable pen (I like Frixion gel pens),

...then use a glue stick or pins to position the ric-rac in just the right place.  

Careful to keep the inside corner free.

Stitch to baste the ric-rac in place with a scant 1/4" seam allowance.

Now, to get that no-binding finish--the Knife-Edge or Envelope finish.  This technique works best on small projects, crib-size or smaller.

1)  First, lay out the backing with quilt top right sides together and pin.

2)  Stitch all the way around the perimeter of the quilt, using 1/4" seam allowance (from the edge of the quilt top, not including the ric-rac).   Leave an 8- to 10-inch opening on one side for turning.  Trim the backing if necessary.  

3)  Next, place quilt, top side down, over a piece of batting, about 3" longer and wider than the quilt.  I like Hobbs' Polydown for a comfy baby quilt.  Gives a little extra pouf.  Pin through all three layers.

Stitch along the same stitching lines used to sew the top and backing together.  Pivot at the corners and leave the same opening.
Trim the batting to about 1" from the stitches.  Clip the corners.

4)  Turn the quilt right side out through the opening.

5)  Hand-stitch the opening closed.

Now with all the outside edges completely finished, the quilt is ready to tie, tack or "quilt as desired" (see a tutorial:  Quilt it!).  How do you think I should quilt it?  By machine?  Big stitch with perle cotton?  Should I tie it?  I want this to be a snuggly soft quilt, so the quilting will be minimal.  The batting label will indicate how far apart the quilting can be.
"Simple Sadie" 43" x 53" baby quilt
featuring Summer Song 2 by Zoe Pearn for Riley Blake Designs,
and Sew Together notions.
Back to Ric-Rac! Looking through pictures, I realized that I've used ric-rac in quite a few of my projects!  Not just the Jumbo stuff, but others in the same family - the 3/4" small, and the 1" gathered gros-grain ribbon that gives a ric-racky appearance.  More ways to fancify!

This sweet Bloomin' Posy topper also features coordinating 3/4" ric-rac.

Tried to set my serpentine stitch (darning stitch) to apply the small ric-rac.  Worked pretty well with a stitch length of 2.5 and a width of 5.0.  Or you can just stitch a straight line down the middle.

Small ric-rac accent
Jumbo ric-rac makes a quick finish on this PJ pillow.  And more gathered ribbon for the purse handle.
Jumbo ric-rac alaso makes great flower stems!  In both the "Sheep Shape" quilt and the "Hexagarden" below, after basting in place, I used an edge-stitch to sew down each side of the stems.

Hope you enjoyed this little Fancy Finishes tutorial and showcase of a few of my favorite things!  

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