Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Small Quilts: New Techniques

If you've followed me for any length of time, you will know that I love to made small quilts in between my larger projects. I love small quilts for lots of reasons; they challenge my piecing ability, they don't take a lot of fabric, they are finished quickly, and they are great for trying out new techniques.
Magpie Quilts
Square Table Runner
 I purchased my Brother embroidery machine, not just for the ability to embroidery some of the fabulous designs out there, but also to try to add some more advanced quilting designs to my smaller projects. This little quilt is just over 18" square. I scaled down one of my favourite 12" blocks, a friendship star and I substituted some four-patch squares for some plain squares.
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Layout #1
Originally, I was going to make a longer skinny runner with the blocks, but after playing around with them on my design wall, I changed my mind and made it square.
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Layout #2
If you don't have a design wall, use the floor or the top of a bed. Somewhere you can stand back and look at the overall effect of your arrangements. And be open to changing your design mid way through construction. Another way to look at your quilt is through a photo - take a quick snap shot with your phone and you'll see your quilts in a whole new light!
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Quilting on the Embroidery Machine
After piecing the top and layering it with a backing and batting, it was time to quilt. I normally do free motion quilting on my Janome 8900 machine and don't leave a lot of extra batting or backing around the edges as it's not really needed. BUT if you are going to use your embroidery machine, you WILL need extra fabric to properly hoop your quilt. I missed this step and had to add some extra fabric all around, but it would have been much easier to have the extra fabric from the beginning.
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Quilting on the Embroidery Machine
I picked a design I really liked from Embroidery Online #80185 (Geometric Quilting Motifs) and expanded it to fit my hoop. My squares were 6" finished and the quilting design on my embroidery machine was around 5.5" to fit my hoop size. Take care when hooping your quilt that it stays square within your hoop, don't stretch it out of shape. There's no need for stabilizer when quilting on an embroidery machine. You may want to machine baste with a long stitch to hold all the layers together (I used pins and removed them in the area I was working) plus a basting stitch around the edges of the quilt. I did not do this and had some issues with the quilt top and batting getting caught on the embroidery foot and flipping over, getting stitched down and having to do some un-sewing to fix it.
Magpie Quilts
Quilting on the Embroidery Machine
Start with a new needle, preferrably an 80 or 90 embroidery needle. Put in a full bobbin and carefully thread your upper thread. My machine allows me to centre the design easily to the centre of the block and when it's all lined up and centred, I started stitching. I repeated the same design around the quilt, centred on each block and each four-patch in the sashing.
Magpie Quilts
Friendship Star Quilt with Machine Embroidery Quilting
The design I picked left more unquilted space than I would have liked - next time I'll find a design that is more square than round. But overall, the process was straightforward and I liked the finished project.
Magpie Quilts
Friendship Star Quilt with Machine Embroidery Quilting
All in all, this was a successful try at a new technique and the quilted table runner looks great!

--Ann

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Selvedge Mug Rugs

I collect the selvedge from my bought fabrics so I can make these pretty mug rugs. Normally, this piece of the fabric ends up in the trash, but I will cut them off both sides of a piece of yardage. When fabric is pressed and squared and ready to be cut, I line up my ruler and cut about 1" off the edges. This gives me the white strip with the fabric details like designer, manufacturer and colors plus about 1/2" of the actual printed fabric. Some people prefer to sew and not see any of the fabric, but I like the pop of color that I get with this width.
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Selvedge Mug Rug
These are simple, quilt as you go pieces. Cut your backing and batting about 1/2" larger all around than your desired finished size. Lay a single piece of selvedge from one corner to the opposite corner. Line up a second piece over the raw edge (the colorful fabric edge), overlapping about 1/4". Sew close to the selvedge edge of the second piece, through both fabrics, the batting and the backing. I use a white or off-white thread for almost all my selvedge piecing. Continue adding strips in this method right through to the corner.
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Selvedge Mug Rug
On the other half, tuck the raw edge under the selvedge edge and stitch through all layers. Repeat until your batting is covered with strips of selvedge.
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Selvedge Mug Rug with scrap binding
Trim your quilted piece to your desired finished size. I make mine 7"x9" and I can bind with a single strip of fabric cut the width of fabric. Or I will look through the left over pieces of binding from other projects to see if there is a piece or a few pieces that can be pieced together to make a binding.
Magpie Quilts
Selvedge Mug Rugs
Super fun to make, these mug rugs make great gifts!

--Ann

Monday, 4 March 2019

Moda Love Quilt

Search Moda Love Quilt anywhere you're online (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and you'll find so many examples of this beautiful quilt. It's a free pattern found here https://www.unitednotions.com/Moda-Love-Layer-Cake-Quilt.pdf

Magpie Quilts
And sew easy! I started with a pack of 10" squares from the fabric line Grandale by Keera Job Design Studio from Riley Blake Designs that I already had, added a background and I was ready to sew.
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I have to say that I was amazed how quickly this quilt went together. It finished at 70" square, but I went a little larger by adding a border. If you want to do this, buy some yardage at the same time you purchase your 10" squares.
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This is now waiting to be quilted as soon as I get some backing!

--Ann

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Pink Hearts!

Hearts like these have been popping up all over the place and I'm sure you can find tutorials and instructions for something similar if you look.
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I started with a bunch of pink 2.5" squares that I had already cut - they are the basis for the single Irish chain baby quilts I frequently make.

Sew 3 pink and 1 white/background 2.5" square together to make a 4-patch block as shown below. These little 4-patches should measure 4.5" unfinished. Don't worry if yours aren't exact, you'll just have to make some adjustments as you continue.
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 Add a 1.5" strip of white/background 4.5" long (or the actual measurement of your 4-patch) to one bottom edge of the 4-patch. Press toward the white! (I don't press to the dark side all the time!) Then add da 1.5" strip of white/background 5.5" long (or the actual measurement of your 4-patch plus the first white strip) to the other bottom edge of your heart. Again, press towards the white!
Magpie Quilts
Make a lot! 59 of these blocks for a baby quilt, more if you want something bigger. You will need to add set in and corner triangles to the edges to fill out the quilt and make it straight on the sides. I use an app called QuiltingCalc from Robert Kaufman. Just punch in the size of your finished heart square (Mine were 5.5" square, so less .25" seam allowances on 2 sides, finished size is 5")
https://www.missouriquiltco.com/shop/detail/48580/shannon-fabrics/shannon-fabrics/cuddle-embossed-heart-blush-60-minky-yardage
Pink embossed heart Minky
Piece them all together row by row - you'll be working diagonally, so keep it laid out on a design wall or on the floor or on a bed, so you can keep everything in order. Press each row in opposite directions, one row toward the top, the next toward the bottom.

Magpie Quilts
 I found a sweet Minky backing that had embossed hearts. I took the remainder of the bolt that was here locally, but I also found it online at Missouri Quilt Co. here.
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 Then came quilting. An all-over meandering design of little loopy hearts in a pale pink variegated cotton thread. This is where you need to be relaxed and put on your fav tunes and get in the zone!
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And just add a label and it's finished! A triple heart quilt - hearts on the front, back, and quilting.
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Doesn't it look soft and ready for baby cuddles?

--Ann

Monday, 25 February 2019

Progress update: Lady Slipper Applique

This piece began as a class from Renske Helmuth at Quilt Canada when it was held in Calgary, Alberta in 2010. It's my oldest unfinished project at the moment and my goal is to finish it this year!
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I took the class to learn to do needle turn applique and fell in love with the Sashiko stitiching used in the border. The Sashiko design was transferred to the fabric with a light box and a heat disappearing white marking pen. I don't remember the brand name, but if you want something that disappears after stitching, test first so you don't end up with permanent marks on your quilt.
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Renske was an awesome instructor, but I did eventually go back to doing the applique with a freezer paper backing that I'd remove when stitching was complete or nearly complete. I'm sure that if I had finished it soon after taking the class, I would have continued with her method of using the freezer paper on the front, but I left it too long!
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Normally, quilt borders are sewn on in four pieces, first the sides and then the top and bottom. With the sashiko stitching, this wasn't possible and the instructions I had for this piece didn't include the how-to to put the border on. I ended up cutting the centre out and reverse appliquéing it to the lady slipper piece.
Magpie Quilts
 I then added quilt batting and a backing and hand quilted around where I appliqued the border and around all the applique flowers and leaves. I'm still undecided if that is enough quilting or if I will do some more in the background. If I were machine quilting it (which I am not planning to do), I would fill the background with pebbles or some kind of texture that would make the flowers really stand out. Anyway, the jury is still out on that decision, for now, the hand quilting gives enough definition to the flowers.
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 Keeping the border straight was a lot more difficult with the reverse applique than it would have been if the border had been stitched by machine.
Magpie Quilts
The shading on these flowers was achieved by using a variegated fabric with gradients from light to darker. By placing the templated for the applique strategically, the lady's slippers look round and have depth they wouldn't have had with a plain fabric. But you could probably achieve the same effect by using a pencil crayon or Shiva paint sticks.

All in all, this was a huge learning project for me and it's not finished yet! I intend to finish it, not with binding, but with a facing, including a sleeve for hanging. I've picked out the perfect place for it in my house to hang it.

--Ann