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Archive for the ‘Fabric’ Category

Peek Into Batiks–June Block!

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Earlier in the year I shared that Michael Miller Fabrics is doing a Block of the Month called Peek Into Batiks. It all began here. That post has links to each month as the new block goes live. Well, June is my turn! I’ve got still photos and (gasp) a video! And, drum roll here is the link to the JUNE Pattern and instructions.

Here’s the finished block! Read on for step by step instructions.

First, of course, you need to cut your fabrics. I used a hybrid method using the AccuQuiltGo! for everything except the large black triangles on the border. First, let me show you how fast it went cutting the components on my AccuQuiltGO! in this video. The video isn’t perfect–I’m improving in my editing skills. I need to mark what is within camera view though! Next video will be even better…I’m learning! When I was playing, it stopped a couple times so just click play again to continue–keep an eye on where the progress bar is. Dunno what’s up with that…another learning curve LOL!

Wasn’t that amazing? Wait until you see the Winding Ways quilt I have in progress for later this year! For now, let’s stick to Peek Into Batiks! This step is where I veer from the instructions (of course, it’s me… who follows instructions EVER completely? Not me…) In the interest of fewer seams, I chose to use the flip-and-sew method for the Flying Geese Units.

I’ve set out the large rectangles and half square triangles to make the frame for the block.
Then I chain pieced the first side of the large Flying Geese.
For the second side of the Flying Geese, same process, just make sure you get the triangles doing in the correct direction. Sew, trim, press.
And the actual sewing bit…
In the interest of not ripping out seams, it really helps to lay these out so you have theirs organized correctly.
Next up, piecing the quarter-squares for the center. First, sew two triangles together.
The Janome M7 Continental lets me piece SO accurately. Between the M7 and AccuQuilt, even *I* can be precise!
I paired up the two-triangle units to make sure I didn’t mix them up while sewing.
Then, sewing the pairs together. Using the M7’s HP foot and throat plate meant PERFECT piecing. See next pic!
And two of the quarter-squares sewn together. I can’t believe I pieced that perfectly!
Here’s the back of the block. Notice that some seams are pressed to one side, but the main seams joining the four squares are pressed open. This helped keep everything nice and tidy and perfect on the front.
Once the center unit was ready, I set up the “frame” for the block.
I sewed the sections together in three rows. Notice the only imperfection is down where *I* used rotary cutting…sigh……..
Here’s the finished block again!

Remember, go here or HERE for all the links to the six blocks so far and to check in for the rest of the year. The finished quilt is beautiful!

Easy Peasy meets Soft ‘n Stable

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

In my last post I shared the Clam Up bag from byAnnie.com, and earlier I shared my AWESOME Running With Scissors bag made for her patterns. I love bags and baskets and boxes and things to organize. One of my favorite classes to teach is my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag, which makes a great 3 hours quickie class for a bag (or two if you are fast) or full day class where you can learn more details and extras. I decided to try Annie’s Soft ‘n Stable stabilizer instead of batting to see how it would work in MY bags, which are quick quick quick and FUN! (Like potato chips, you can’t make just one!)

Here it is: the Easy Peasy process using Soft ‘n Stable and accenting the zipper with “binding” the way Annie Unrein teaches in her patterns at byAnnie.com The fabric used is courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics–the main fabric is from the Lost in Paradise collection (shipped May 2020) and the other fabrics are the Garden Pindot collection on the outside and the inside (and that’s Hash Dots on the backing of the quilt you see awaiting quilting on the back of the table).
This is a sampling of the fun bags I teach in the Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Class…. if you think you’d like me to teach this for your guild–including LIVE ONLINE workshops, leave me a comment! They are fast and fun and can be customized so many ways.
This shows the Clam Up bag and my Easy-Peasy next to it. I made this bag long enough to hold my large Fiskars flat on the bottom. Frankly, it is large enough it could hold a small knitting project or paper piecing supplies! One thing I will do differently next time is FUSE the lining to the back side of the Soft ‘n Stable. I didn’t use the walking foot and it shows. Oh well…lesson learned!
Before installing the zipper and sewing the seams, I pinned it together to check size and how I wanted to finish it. Most of my Easy Peasy bags leave the boxed corner triangles on the outside (see that photo above with the many colorful bags made with batting). Leaving the triangles outside acts to stabilize the bag and keep it upright. With the Soft ‘n Stable doing that job, I chose to tuck the “corners” inside for this bag.
Next, before boxing the bag into shape, I used the 3-stitch zigzag to secure and tidy up the edges.
The narrow accufeed foot on my Janome M7 makes it a breeze to sew zippers to a quilted, puffy base without distortion.
Here I’m adding a decorative element to the zippers. Gotta love wonder clips!
On my Janome M7, I the three-stitch zigzag looks like this, but it is available on all but the most basic machines as a standard utility stitch. The M7 allows me great flexibility in both stitch width and length–not all machines do!

My Easy-Peasy Inside-Out process is fun, fast, and infinitely adaptable. I’ll be making a new version of my notebook cover–I’ve also got an iPad case, a business card case, and a few other goodies up my sleeve. Maybe I’ll self-publish a book of patterns and variations on the theme…what do you think?

Next up, I’ll share a basket pattern that again modifies what I’ve learned from the byAnnie.com patterns! Stay tuned!

Found in Paradise: a clam!

Monday, June 8th, 2020

OK, that’s a bit punny…. I’ve used some of the fun Michael Miller Fabrics Lost in Paradise fabric to make a byAnnie.com pattern called Clam Up. Before COVID hit, I was thinking about my travel teaching, and I made the Running With Scissors tote and blogged about it, here. I wanted a companion bag for bulky stuff I needs to schlep with me. Both of these bags are good for use in your sewing space, retreats or a whole bunch of other things!

The Clam Up bag pattern allows you to select various sizes. I chose a Large to use for travel teaching. I used the Lost in Paradise print as well as the Garden Pindots (the magenta) and Hash Dot in an aqua color way. A quick google showed lots of the Lost in Paradise prints available on Etsy–the collection came out in May 2020.

I really like bags that open up wide, where I don’t have to root around–I can just open ‘er up and SEE what I need to grab. The large was big enough to set my mug inside…at least unzipped.

The Large bag is large enough to fit a 45mm rotary cutter on the bottom (flat) and in this photo shows my MUG inside! The gussets on the side allow the bag to open up (like a clam, get it?!) wide so you can see what is in the bag, but prevents stuff from falling out.

Annie Unrein and her staff suggest quilting up your fabrics, using her Soft n Stable instead of batting. The Soft n Stable is a foam with a soft, grippy fabric on the outsides. I love that it stands up and holds it shape, the cotton doesn’t slip ‘n slide around, and doesn’t require a ton of quilting to look good in the finished project.

Here I have quilted the sandwich of inside and outside fabrics. I chose to piece the outside so it would have the magenta on the bottom, feature the print, and use a coordinating magenta/fuchsia bag zipper (wider zipper tape) from byAnnie. You can see I’ve used the walking foot for simple outlining for the feature fabric and a simple grid on the base.
Here, I’ve used paper from the recycling bin to create a full-size pattern. Son had asked me to print the video game he was giving his brother as a gift…definitely not my game LOL! Now it is time to cut out the bag.
Annie has some great tips about sewing zippers, and has started doing “add-on” videos to help teach you how to make her bags to perfection. I’ve been sewing 50 years and am pretty adept, and I’m picking up great tips. I am also developing a great fondness for the Garden Pindot (the magenta) and the Hash Dot fabrics…they are really great blenders. Have been adding to my stash!
LOOK at all that can fit inside here: rotary cutter, roll of package tape (for when I need to ship a box home from a venue), and large spools of thread. I often let students borrow tools to try them out (sometimes I sell them, too, but always tell them to try mine out to see if they like the tool before purchasing it). Now I can set this bag out as a “ok for students to use stuff” and keep my things that I need at the teacher table to use in the Running with Scissors bag.
Originally this was designed as a travel-teacher duo. Don’t know when I will be able to travel teach again, but these are great in the studio and for guild sewing days and retreats, too. And a whole lot of other things. Here’s the link to the blogpost again for the Running With Scissors bag. I have quite honestly kept that bag out as what now appears to be a permanent addition to my cutting workspace!
And here’s a closer look at the pattern, the blender fabrics (always available from Michael Miller), and the zipper from byAnnie.com . I LOVE being able to get coordinated components from byAnnie–the mesh, elastic, zippers, all the colors match or coordinate for tons of fun! I must have about a dozen (or more) of her zippers and a stash of bag-making components now!

Next up: inspired by Annie’s construction techniques and materials, I made one of my Easy-Peasy-Inside-Out bags merging my process and her materials. Check back soon!

Note: for this post, the fabric, pattern and zipper are courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics and byAnnie.com–THANK YOU! But I love the stuff so much I have spent a goodly chunk of my own hard-earned money buying more of the fabrics and notions.

Canticle of the Stars

Monday, May 11th, 2020
Canticle of the Stars, or should I call it Anthem of Light? Chime in!
Completed May 2020, 36 tall x 46.5 wide.

There is a thing called star trails photography (just google it…it’s really cool). The earth rotates on its axis. The North Star is static in our northern skies. If you take time lapse photos and then “stack” (merge) them, you get star trails….images that describe the lines created by the light of the stars. Did you know that starlight comes in different colors??? It does… I love the feeling of the vastness of space. When I went to college, I comforted myself knowing that my then-boyfriend and I could both look up at the constellation Orion in the sky even though we would be 3000 miles apart. I love wondering what is out there, and feeling snug and at home in my own world. The universe is Out There and it is Within Us. I love the resulting art quilt. While trying to figure out the title (star trails was too boring), I wrote a poem to go with this quilt:

As many of you know by now, I was selected to be a Michael Miller Brand Ambassador this year. At the start (last December) we received a box STUFFED with goodies (post here). I decided to challenge myself, using items ONLY from this box to make an art quilt in my style, but using fabrics that are totally not in my usual wheel house: commercial solids, prints, and bling. I love the result…in trying to figure out the title (star trails was too boring), I wrote a poem above. Help me decide should the title be Canticle of the Stars? or Anthem of Light? Leave comments and thoughts!

So, how do you make an image that is DARK work successfully as an artwork? In this case, the answer is a lot of quilting with light thread in seven shades from pink to peach to green to blues! Here are the fabrics I used:

The quilt is under the fabrics, with the top visible in the upper half and the backing below. The Michael Miller Fabrics are from left to right: Michael Miller Krystal in Aubergine 1278, Wine 2248, Coal 1302 and 1257 Evergreen. Fairy Frost in Black. Cotton Couture SC5333 in Midnite and Ink. Marble CX1087 in Stone, graphite (or onyx) and night (I think on the denim blue). Michael Miller Jet Black which is part of the Cotton Couture line. I overdyed the green with a navy dye to use as the backing.

The quilting was done entirely on my Janome M7 Continental. The sky was done with the walking foot and the trees was free-motion quilted. It has been eons since I did walking foot quilting…I may do more of it soon! And the threads I used:

It is VERY rare for me to use a walking foot for quilting, but for the sky on this one I did. I used the dark blue So Fine to help hold down the Mistyfused pieces (cut curved, but on the bias so I could adapt their arc) and solid black (I can’t remember if it was the Mettler or So Fine) for the treelike silhouette. The six colors are the star trails in the sky. I used both regular straight stitch and the triple-straight stitch with the walking foot.
Detail, Canticle of the Stars. The edges of the print fabrics are definitely rougher than I am used to with the batiks and hand-dyes I use due to the different thread count, but I think they work because the light edges become another star trail.
And a very close up of the raw edges, some wool lint (sigh…do you know how many times I vacuumed and lint roller this quilt??????) from my pressing surface, and the quilting. The pale green turned into that creamy yellow color when quilted. It’s amazing what thread will do!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey to the stars, and back to home on Earth.

Mastering Metallics

Thursday, April 9th, 2020
Mastering Metallics is a half day workshop which will teach students to use metallic in both the needle and the bobbin. The workshop will debut at International Quilt Festival in Fall 2020, and is the half-day version of my Tame Fussy Fiddly Threads class. The class is Wednesday afternoon. Fly in Tuesday, join me in the Machine Quilting Forum (there are TWO this year!) Wednesday morning, then come take this workshop with me on Wednesday afternoon. We will finish up just in time to get to Preview Night at 5!

Ta DAAAA! A month or so ago, I asked for input from folks on Facebook about which color to make my project for my new Mastering Metallics workshop. Folks liked pretty much all THREE versions. I ordered up samples from Spoonflower:

Here’s the rather spendy order testing all three color ways and three fabrics: Petal Cotton (the basic), Cotton Poplin and Organic Cotton Sateen. Left to right colors are blue, sky blue and aqua, with the later two being VERY close…the aqua has just a bit more yellow in it.

I am hoping to sell the fabric on Spoonflower later this year–if anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll email you when it is ready. I am planning to offer the blue and aqua (but if someone REALLY wants the sky blue, in the middle above, just ask and I’ll add that also). I need to re-do the master graphic file to be 44″ across rather than 36″ vertically–I will need to add some larger snowflakes so they fit a 12 x 44″ space nicely without getting cut off at a 12″ line. This way, one yard would yield a table runner and four to six placemat tops. The Blue works perfectly with Michael Miller Cotton Couture Sailor, which I will use in class kits for the back and binding.

I ordered a full yard of the Sateen, which is what I used for my Thread-Coloring the Garden workshop which features a photo printed on fabric. I was delighted that the new Cotton Poplin showcased the snowflake design as well as the more expensive sateen, so I’ll use that in the workshop. That also means the table runners will be width-of-fabric, not the shorter 36 inches (I learned the hard way you need to print designs so the lengthwise grain of the fabric is vertical on the photo image with the sateen!).

First I used two of the less expensive 8″ samples to test various threads. The Petal cotton has a coarser weave–not as clunky as Kona Cotton, and the image is nice and crisp. The Cotton Poplin is softer and has a lovely hand to it, so I will choose that for the class kits.
The workshop kit will include Silver metallic (the snowflake being quilted here) and Halo used in the bobbin (upper snowflake). I’m also showing how to use the very heavy Razzle Dazzle on the sample, but to keep kit costs down won’t include it since the class time is just 3 hours. I will have some for sale, and it is of course readily available from Superior Threads. The heavy sateen is gorgeous, but given the cost I’ll use the still very nice poplin for class kits.
Detail of finished tablerunner. The crinkly looking snowflake is the Razzle Dazzle used in the bobbin. The others are done with Silver Metallic or Halo.
The quilting on the back looks awesome if I say so myself. LOVE my Janome M7 Continental! I’ll be teaching in Janome classrooms, so I wanted to fine tune settings to share with class by quilting this on my Janome. I ended up dyeing this fabric to sorta match. Because of the COVID-19 shut downs, I was unable to order the Cotton Couture Sailor (blue) fabric and receive it in time, and I needed to get the sample done quickly for Quilts. Inc to put in the class catalog. Kits will include backing, and I will have some extra if folks want to buy enough to bind the quilt. You can also order — Michael Miller is AMAZING at getting perfect color matching so one can also order the Cotton Couture Sailor to use on the back and bindings without worrying about color matching.
And one end of the table runner after I finished the binding and a little extra how-to tip that I’ll share in class.

I hope some of you will want to join me in class at International Quilt Festival–this pandemic physical-distancing should be well over by then! Sign ups usually go live in July, and I will be sure to share with you my teaching schedule, times, class numbers and so on. In the meantime, if you are interested in purchasing fabric from Spoonflower, let me know! If there is a fair bit of interest I’ll move that to a front burner on the to-do list.