Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wonderland Quilt Along Block #3: Suits

I hope this month's block suits you. Now that I've got that bad pun out of my system, let's embark on some appliqué. My go-to appliqué method is raw-edge, fusible appliqué. First, download the pattern. Then, use pen or permanent marker to trace the shapes onto the side of fusible paper that has the sticky stuff attached. If you use Lite Steam-A-Seam II, just place the pattern underneath the fusible paper, and trace the image. You do not need to add seam allowance for raw-edge appliqué unless shapes are going to be placed adjacent to each other. For this block, we won't be dealing with multiple layers. If you want to do turned-edge appliqué, then you will need to account for the seam allowance. I do recommend extending the portion of shapes that extend beyond the block (which I did with the base of the spade and club).

I like to use Lite Steam a Seam II because it is resilient. It doesn't scotch or have unraveling glue strands. It is slightly tacky, so you can lay out your fused pieces without them blowing everywhere when a breeze comes through your sewing area. It also stays put once it is fused into place. It also doesn't have an uneven surface that shows as a texture on your completed pieces.

Bubble/rough cut around the shapes, and pull off the side of the paper that doesn't have the fusible, if your fusible has one. If you like, after bubble cutting around the shape, cut out the middle of the fusible, leaving about 1/2" on the inside of the line. The fusible paper should look more like an outline. Even without fusible being applied to the entire shape, the edges will be secure enough for machine stitching.

Position on the WRONG SIDE of your fabric. Protect your ironing surface from any overhanging fusible with the release paper (the part of the fusible paper that you peeled off) or parchment paper. For a better long-term option, splurge on an appliqué pressing sheet. It'll be worth it to avoid getting fusible on your clothes or (if you've given up ironing like I have) your next quilt project.

I used the Sewline Large Ironing Pad which reflects heat so I don't have to set my iron to scorching temperatures when applying my fusible.

If you are going to be using a light-colored fabric for the shapes, or a high-contrast pattern for the background, you may have some undesired shadowing. To avoid this, apply fusible to a square of white solid fabric slightly larger than your appliqué shape. Then fuse the shape to the white.

Cut a background square that is larger than 6 1/2". Use an air or wet erase marker to mark a 6" square, which will indicate the visible, finished size of the block.

Cut out the appliqué shapes on the line. Peel off the paper backing, and place the shapes. Measure to assure the appliqué pieces are centered before pressing. The diamond can be appliquéd or paper-pieced. For appliqué, cut the diamond shape from the paper-piecing pattern to use as the template.

Select your threads. I recommend a 50wt Aurifil so the stitches don't get piled on top of each other and jammed into the machine. I'm using the Curious Dream large thread collection to coordinate with my chosen fabrics.

Apply stabilizer to the back of the blocks. I prefer a tear-away iron on fusible.

When I bought my first sewing machine, I figured the way to tell which one was best was to compare the number of decorative stitches. While I have more knowledge about sewing machine functions at this point (automatic needle threader dependence, knee lift love, needle position adjustability, stitch regulation, etc.), I still love having a few stitches to play around with. Appliqué is the perfect time to show off a little flair. While you can just topstitch around the edge if you don't have numerous stitches, or a zig-zag with a shortened stitch length will do the trick, it's fun to try some different looks.

The key is to test out your stitches first using the same material and stabilizer. Adjust the stitch width and length to get a look you like.

Make sure to put the needle down, lift the presser foot, and pivot frequently so your line doesn't look abrupt and jerky. Aim to go just off the appliqué piece (on the background, and then back on so the edge is secured nicely. During tight corners, adjust the stitch width down to get in and out of the nooks and crannies. The more washing and heavy use the quilt will be getting, the more dense you may want your stitch so the raw edge doesn't get too loose.

Remove the stabilizer, or else your block will be crispier and crunchier than Rice Krispies. I know this because I've tried it. Just call me the Mistake Master. Or Afton. Just not Aspen. Moving on...

Now square up your blocks to 6 1/2". If you want to do this in luxury and style, use a rotating mat. No shame in going old school and manually rotating the block, but you'll have to come to grips with missing the fun of spinning.

Sew the blocks together in a column.

Admire your work. Then share it using the hastag #WonderlandQuiltAlong and in the Wonderland Quilt Along Facebook group.
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Kitty Caddy Quilt Along with Fat Quarter Shop

Today I have a very adorable, useful project courtesy of Fat Quarter Shop and Stacy Hsu. It's the Kitty Caddy Clutch Quilt Along. Only there's a catch; it's not a quilt. But it's very handy for containing your quilting necessities, so I'm going to overlook the technicality. You will too once you see how enamoring this feline is. What's that? You're a dog person? Fat Quarter Shop has you covered, because there's a puppy version too!

Personally, I went for the cat, as my Tula Pink Tabby Road fabrics were crying meowing out to be used.

Don't fret, I'll get you covered with the necessary supplies, pertinent links, and some helpful hints. First, grab your pattern. The YouTube video outlines the project details, so you'll want to check that out below.

Gather up your supplies (Affiliate links present, so you can find your supplies and I can afford to keep the blog a hip-happening place.):
Fabric (3 fat 1/8ths, and 1 fat quarter + 1 fat 1/8th)
1" Bias Tape Maker (Clover or VRSS Set)
Pellon Fisible Fleece
10"+ Zipper
Zipper Foot
Aurifloss and Embroidery Needles

When choosing fabrics, keep in mind that piece N is going to be hidden inside the pocket, so use your favorite prints for someplace more noticeable.

I'm a hand embroidery newbie, so I consulted Boho Embroidery from Lucky Spools. I grabbed my Aurifloss, embroidery needles, a Clover air erasable marker, and snips before setting to work on the face. Shown in the picture below is the Sewline Large Ironing Pad, which I was asked to review. It reflects heat so you can achieve crisp seams with less intense iron temperatures. It's great as a secondary ironing station or for travel, since it can be smashed into a bag, and laid flat again without incident. (Don't put it in the wash though.) It's so much better than those bunchy mats I've experienced at many guild workshops. It's a great companion to the larger size Olfa foldable mat, whether you have a modestly sized crafting space at home, or want to be well-set for traveling to classes.

Inspired by the Wonder Cushion tutorial, I sliced piece D of the mouse pincushion and added seam allowance.

Then I cut 1" strips, folded them in half right-sides-together, and sewed the unit back together including the insertions so that I could use the mouse to store Wonder Clips.

Even if you don't customize your pincushion, there's a zipper pocket and a trio of open pockets for storing all your treasured notions.

Make sure to cut your binding on the bias so it will cooperate around the curve. I tried out snaps for the first time with this project. Once you figure out which side goes where, it's actually really fun, and a nice touch when you don't need heavy hardware.

Share your own cute version with the hashtags #fqsquiltalong and #kittycaddyclutch.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Quilters' Wish List

Whether you're shopping for the beloved quilter in your life or yourself (because I'm not in a position to judge), I have some ideas for sewing merriment at incredible prices!

 Now $199.99 on Amazon.

Black Friday Specials

Thursday, November 16, 2017

EQ8 Release

EQ8 was just released! Visit for details or ask for EQ8 at your local quilt shop!

I always use Electric Quilt to design my quilts, and was excited to hear about the updated interface and new features of EQ8. While there are over 40 new and updated features, here are my #EQ8Top10.

1. Import Fabric
EQ8 has a preloaded library of over 6,200 fabrics. In addition, you can scan in and upload your own fabrics, or download current lines from the free monthly fabric library. It helps me greatly to experiment with color combinations, scale, and contrast before I start cutting.

2. Copyright Free Blocks
Even modern quilts are rooted in traditional blocks. The extensive EQ8 Block Library helps me avoid starting from scratch, so I can move quickly from designing to constructing in my favorite style. There's no need for me to purchase a new pattern every time I want to make a quilt using a new block, whether I'm paper-piecing, appliquéing, EPP, or using traditional construction methods.

3. Colored Foundation Patterns
As much as I love the gray-scale option for cutting back on printing costs, I really love being able to print paper-piecing units in color. No more hand writing color labels all over my print-outs!

4. Improved Template Patterns (Ability to Mirror Template Patterns for Fusible Appliqué)
Since raw edge is my favorite, this feature is a must-have. I'll be spending less time taping patterns to the window for tracing.

5. Easier Custom Quilt Design Tools
Now block size and position snap right into place! This is wonderful news since I love using non-standard gridwork in my modern quilts.

6. Preserve Aspect Ratio
This feature will be great for adjusting the size of my quilts without distorting the design.

7. No More Hidden Tools
In the past, I missed out of some design options because I didn't notice them in hidden menus. Now everything is out in the open.

8. Zoom In and Zoom Out
I can use Command or CTRL and my mouse's scroll to zoom in and out.

9. Export Images for Print, Web and Facebook
It's the day and age of social media, so saving steps is a major plus.

10. Yardage Estimates
A "buy bunches more than you'll ever need" philosophy can be cost-prohibitive, and finding out that you're short on fabric is never fun one block away from completing a top. Now you can even get yardage estimates for fat quarters in case you were seduced by the sultry bundles, as I have been.

Have you taken the plunge and purchased EQ8? What's your favorite feature?

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