how to do circles – circles are different..

In my last post I talked about the method I use for applique. I use that method for most shapes but when doing circles, I use another method to get the seam allowance turned under without any of those little pleats or tucks around the edges. And these lollipop trees have lots of circles!
First of all, you need a plastic circle shape. I either make my own by cutting out template plastic. Or even better, is to use little plastic shapes that are made specially for this purpose- they come in sets of varying sizes and are usually found in your local quilt shop. They are also heat-proof, which the template plastic isn’t.
I’ve tried two different methods- one using alfoil, which I’ve seen a few well-known quilters use, as well as the more traditional method with a gathering thread. Personally, I think the gathering thread actually gets smoother edges and is less likely to have little puckers than the alfoil. Try it yourself and see what you think.
First of all, place the shape on the wrong side of the fabric, trace around the plastic and then cut a circle with about a 1/4″ allowance. This doesn’t have to be exact- it just gets turned under anyway.
Alfoil method: take a square piece of alfoil, layer the fabric, right side down and then the circle shape.
Press the alfoil around, pinching the alfoil tightly around the edges and smoothing to avoid little pleats at the edge.
After you have it as smooth as possible, just scrunch the alfoil together at its opening and then press with a hot iron on both sides.
Put it aside to cool down a little. If using a plastic shape, don’t press for too long or it will melt!
When cool, take the alfoil off, remove the plastic shape and you have a fabric circle with its edges turned under, ready to applique.

Gathering thread method: after cutting out the fabric circle, run a line of large stitches around the edge and leave the ends with a long tail- don’t backstitch at the start or end.
Place the plastic shape in the middle of the circle, and pull the ends of the thread so it gathers the fabric around the circle. It will naturally pull the fabric in tight without any pleats along the edge- I find this more successful than when using the alfoil.
Press the fabric circle with the iron, just around the edges. You could also use starch if you want, to give a bit more crispness on the edge.
When you are ready to applique, just remove the plastic shape and tuck the loose thread ends under. You don’t remove the gathering thread. It can just stay there because it won’t be seen.

how to… use freezer paper for applique

I mentioned on a previous post recently that I had tried lots of different methods for applique- this was mainly to just trial them and see which I prefer. While doing blocks for my ‘Lollipop Tree’ quilt, I’ve had ample opportunity to try them out! I finished another block this weekend…
lollypop_tree_10 thought I would show the method that I like the best, using freezer paper. First of all, I trace the pattern pieces onto the freezer paper and then cut them out right on the line.
I will be ironing those pattern pieces onto the wrong-side of the chosen fabric. You therefore need to remember, when tracing the pieces, to use a mirror-reverse of the design if appropriate: this pattern I’m doing is symmetrical, meaning that the left side of the block is the reverse-image of the right, so I have two of every piece each at reverse angle to the other and then it doesn’t matter how I place them on the wrong side of the fabric.
You then cut out each piece, allowing for a quarter inch seam allowance all around. I’m showing below the last piece I usually put on each block which is the tree trunk. You can free-hand cut it out- you don’t need to mark it all first. The seam allowance just gets turned under so it doesn’t have to be exact.
I take a can of spray starch, spray some into the can lid, and then dip into it with an old paintbrush.
Dab with the brush onto the seam allowance all around the piece. While it is still damp, press the seam allowance over with a hot iron.
You can use the tip of the iron to flip over the edge as you move it along, and use a stiletto to aid you.
Press all the edges down. Going around curves can be a little touchy but I have a trick to ensure you don’t get any tucks or pleats: when pressing the allowance over, press with the tip of the iron only along the very edge of the shape, like only a millimetre or two, so that the iron is just pressing along the very edge and not the whole seam allowance. Once you have gone around the edge of the curve, without any pleats, you can then press the whole 1/4″ seam allowance- it doesn’t matter if the allowance gets a tuck or looks a little frilly as long as the very edge is smooth. Just press all that down afterwards. It gets hidden underneath when you stitch it down anyway. You only need to worry about what the edge looks like from the right side.

clockwise: pressing curves

clockwise: pressing curves

Now the piece is ready to applique down. Peel off the piece of freezer paper and the pressed edges will stay in place and it will have nice crisp edges to stitch down.

gatton quilters

The recent meeting of Gatton Quilters was another good get together, with new and completed projects to show off, news to catch up on and more planning of future events.
There was this Show and Tell:

Jan M- a double-sided doona cover

Jan M- a double-sided doona cover

From our Art Quilt sub-group, Dana finished her Fractured Picture which was part of our Art Quilt Challenge from last year: we are planning to get all these completed pictures together for a little mini display at our anniversary dinner later this year.
Dana also showed her textile journal pages for the themes ‘Doors’ and utilising plastic mesh:
Jan M had her fantastic page finished for the Doors theme:
Shirley showed her ‘Childhood memory’-themed page in which she recreated the Mother Shipton’s Cave at Highbridge in Knaresborough
and Meryl’s childhood memory was the swimming hole at Helidon Spa:
The Gatton Quilters group meets once a month on the third Saturday, and those who can make it also have a sewing get together on Tuesday mornings. New members are always welcome!

the bloggers quilt festival

I’m joining in the ‘Bloggers Quilt Festival’ where by we have to include a blog post about a quilt we have finished this year. You can click on the link and go to look at the online quilt show, and in a few days you then vote for the quilts you like the best.
I’m entering my ‘Bordered Diamonds’ quilt: here’s another look at it:
We can choose two categories to enter, so I think I’ll choose the Bed Quilt and ROYGBIV (aka lots of colour!) categories.
Here are its details:
~Pieced by me, from a Kaffe Fassett pattern.
~Fabrics used were a mixture of Kaffe Fassett and other bright coloured prints
~Made in 2012/13- finished April 2013.
~Measures: 55″ by 80″
~Quilted: by myself on a long-arm quilting machine, in a free-hand pattern.
I get a smile whenever I look at it!

a childhood memory

With ‘childhood memories’ as the theme, I set out to make the next fabric journal page in my local quilting group’s art group challenge. My sister reminded me of a beach shack we used to go to for our summer holidays when we were children. Our Dad used to rent it from a friend and we would head up to Moonta Bay, north of Adelaide, to stay in this little rough-and-ready shack for a couple of days. There wasn’t much at Moonta Bay in those days, and our weeks would be spent on the beach.
I wanted to make this in a style of using all hand-stitching, scrap fabrics and imprecise seams.
I started out with the background, adding border strips with a black backstitch so the stitches would peek through from the front.
The I had to go through my scraps and work out what bits and pieces I would need.

I cut out all the little shapes and stitched them on with backstitch, leaving the raw edges to roughen up.
The cheesecloth that I added for the sky was a piece that was the perfect colour, graduating from sandy to blue.

And then embellished with more handstitching.
Amanda can even remember the milk can which would be filled with our daily milk order.
I then turned under the edges of the border and attached it to a pievce of natural linen.

I did this piece in the style of the quilter Janet Bolton- check out her work.
I’m linking up here to Nina-Marie Sayre’s blog “Off the Wall Friday“- have a look at what some creative people can do!

little birds

A little look at some other things I’ve been working on. After I did the workshop with Sue Spargo last year on wool applique, I fell in love with working in wool so I joined up for her Block of the Month program for this year. At the time I thought I’d easily fit it in, but going back to a day job for a short while has severely reduced my time! But that’s okay- I just keep doing little bits on my various projects to keep them all moving along.
These are the first month’s instalment..
and as you can see even they aren’t finished yet.
But, aren’t they cute!
The addition of lots of handstitching adds that little something, and these have got a lot more to add to them yet..
and the project is called ‘Bird Dance’- how could I resist?

mums all around us

You know when you read quilting magazines and whenever there is an article about a quilter, invariably the interview will start off with “.. got her love of quilting from her (insert significant loved one here)” It’s like we always want to be able to see where we do inherit our traits and characteristics from, whether it be our hobbies and past-times, or the foods we eat or our mannerisms that grow on us with age. I know there are some things I do or say that make me think “I sound just like my own mother” which I hoped I would nver do! On this lovely Mother’s Day, with love shown to me by my family, my thoughts turn to my own mother.
My mum didn’t quilt but she did do other handicrafts, and also loved gardening and especially bonsaii plants. In her later years she turned to making teddy bears, which I remembered happened after she accompanied me to a quilt show one year and saw the stalls selling teddy bear fur and patterns. So she set to and made teddy bears, making a bear for each of her 6 grandchildren.
teddyshelf(not all of these were made by Granny)
This bear below was made with long wild-looking fur, so we nick-named it Yeti!
And this one was given some glasses and a little leather cap made for her by Grandpa to resemble one of his own.
So, even though she didn’t make quilts herself I made a couple for her. I made this quilt below for Mum and gave it to her a year after Grandpa passed away.
I incorporated lots of features that she had admired in other quilts I made- she was enamoured with the ‘stack-and-wack’ quilts so I added in a border of s&w blocks.
I couldn’t find any bonsaii-themed fabric, so instead made the centre medallion myself. I made the tree and the pot by normal applique methods but did the leaves by doing some confetti piecing: lots and lots of little green scraps sandwiched in between some wash-away Solvy with free-hand stitching all over to anchor them down.
This was also made in the days before I had my long-arm machine, so the quilting was done on my domestic sewing machine.
I traced the feathered wreath patterns in the s&w border on to some plastic and then sewed through it, easily peeling off the plastic after. With the purple triangles surrounding the bonsaii block, I clearly remember putting the needle down to start with no idea what design to use. I literally pulled the thread up, looked at it again, still didn’t know what to do, then just started sewing lines. I’m quite happy with them now!
This next quilt wasn’t made until after Mum passed away with cancer, 2 years after that.
She had gone to New Zealand with her sister and brother-in-law on a trip that she had always dreamed of doing, and I had asked her to bring me back a little ‘New Zealand-type’ fabric, meaning just a fat quarter or two. Instead she brought me back a whole pile of fabrics!, so I had to think of something fitting to use them on. I looked through lots of magazines and picked a couple of patterns to show to her when she was in the hospice. She picked this one with the blocks resembling hearts, and I promised to make that quilt for her.
Even though she never saw the finished quilt, I still think of her whenever I look at it.
Quilts are like that; they are warm and cuddly and give you a sense of well-being. Happy Mothers Day to everyone!

quilting along

My next block in the “My favourite block” quiltalong is the Dancing Diamonds. I think it is Block #16, even though I think I have missed one along the way- #13, which I’ll have to do next. All of the blocks have now been published on the Persimmon Dreams website which has been hosting this quiltalong, and we are encouraged to try and join all the blocks together for a finished qilt-top by May 25. Prizes even, if you do!
If you would like to take a look at all of the blocks that participants have been making, go to the Flickr site for some eye-candy.
This is my block #16:
dancing diamonds2

This was also a quick and straight-forward block to make. It utilised 4-patch squares and flying geese..
I used a text print for the background print- these are my favourite to use for a ‘neutral’, and also some of the pink with white spot- I used this in the leaf block that I designed for this quiltalong back in February, and wanted to bring some more of it into a few other blocks in the quilt-top.
I think it would be a lot more effective if you made lots of these blocks and joined them together, because you could then see the weaving effect that shows from the careful placement of the colours.
I’m joining in with Freshly Pieced’s Work In Progress blog today.

photos for April

I try to take at least one photo a day, and I do so following the themes given by “fmsphotoaday” . Here are a few of my favourites from April:

April 4 The theme was “this happened today” : I made a mud cake using the good whiskey, as you do:
#fmsphotoaday apr4 {this happened today} I used the good whiskey in the mud cake...

April 11 For the theme “detail”, a look at some stitching I’ve done from an online class with Karen Ruane :
#fmsphotoaday apr11 {detail} #quilts #quilting #stitching

April 20 The theme was “on my mind”: this group of three are never far from my mind:
#fmsphotoaday apr20 {on my mind...}

April 21 The theme was “fire”:
#fmsphotoaday apr21{fire }

April 27 For the theme “earth”, this picture of a beautiful example of fruit from our earth:
#fmsphotoaday apr27{earth}  fruit of the ...

April 28 The theme “my Sunday”: how many Sunday afternoons are spent: backyard basketball
#fmsphotoaday apr28 {my Sunday} backyard basketball

free-styling it

When I started to develop my long-arm quilting business, I knew I needed to work out what style of quilting would be ‘my style’. There are quite a few long-arm quilters that quilters can choose to take their tops to these days, but all of them have their own style of quilting. I guess it’s like most things- you tend to gravitate to what you like to do mixed with what seems to come naturally to you. I have always liked to do free-motion quilting, often making up designs as I go. For most of the quilts that I do for other people I have used this free-style approach and utilising no, or minimal, marking. Luckily, so far that’s also what most customers have wanted.
I recently finished quilting this brightly coloured quilt for a client. It is only a small quilt; Colleen had made it as a tablecloth for her daughter.
She wanted an effect that wasn’t heavy on the quilting, with just a few specifications here and there.
In the flowered border I did a free-style continuous plume running around the edge…
with the flying geese blocks I just did a serpentine curve around the triangle edges and some curved shapes connecting the blocks.
There was also a little bunch of grapes here and there…
And, last but not least, here is my ‘rose of the week’- isn’t it just the most beautiful shade..