A Fun Quilty Week

This has been a quilt-filled week, starting last Sunday when Beth, my daughter-in-law, and I went to see the Sacred Threads quilt show together. We had a lot of fun. The quilts were interesting and, in many cases, moving. I took a lot of pictures, but I am only including the picture I took of Vikki Pignatelli, the founder of the show, standing in front of one of her quilts, because one of the white-gloved women told me I could only take photos for my personal use. Her story about why and how she started the show was fascinating. You can hear it on The Quilt Show Number 102 even if you are not yet a member. You can sign up for a free membership.

Vikki Pignatelli at Sacred Threads 2015.

Vikki Pignatelli at Sacred Threads 2015.

I have been waking up a little earlier than normal during the week just to squeeze in a little work in my studio before my grandson arrives for the afternoons. This has enabled me to get my Ikebana on a Sashiko background quilt top completed, except for the borders, which I plan on putting on later today. I got my order from Superior Threads just in time for the weekend. Here it is, on the quilt ready to stitch. I went through my stash and discovered one more piece of Peppered Cotton in a nice green, just right for the border and binding. I want to quilt some sort of leafy vine around the quilt in the border.

Blue thread

I hope to get the border marked, the stabilizer pealed off the back, the quilt sandwiched and start the quilting this coming week if things work out well. I have all the quilting worked out in my head, so we’ll see how it goes.

Then I’m looking forward to starting my next quilting adventure…a new version of my quilt “Waiting…”, as the second in that series. I have many changes I want to make to that quilt, which I am planning as a show quilt for next year’s shows. Speaking of shows, I have to send off my two Canterbury quilts this coming week…one to Houston and one to AQS Chattanooga.

Sew happy everyone! Have fun this week!

Precision Broiderie Perse by Machine

Machine appliqueing with very narrow zig zag

Machine appliqueing with very narrow zig zag

My current quilt project includes a  broiderie perse Japanese flower arrangement (Ikebana).  I “painted” the flowers in Corel Painter 15 based on some Dover black and white drawings that I heavily edited. (See my post on painting the flowers).  Broiderie Perse flower arrangement appliques using printed flowers has been around since the 1700s.

I am using my technique for narrow stitching the raw edged appliques, and I thought I would just share with you how I set it up to be as precise as possible.

  • I set my zig zag stitch width to .9 (the blanket stitch would also work if it were set just as narrow and shortened).
  • I set my tension a little looser on top and thread my bobbin for embroidery.  This has to be done carefully and with a test to make sure that even though the top thread pulls to the back a little bit it doesn’t make the stitch come out unsecured.
  • I use my magnifying glass attachment
  • My needle is a 6.0/8 Microtex Superior Titanium
  • I use the 37D quarter inch foot for my Bernina 830 LE.  And yes, usually this foot is for straight stitching, but it will accept a zig zag width up to 1.1.  I like this narrow foot because it has an open toe, it holds the applique tight to the fabric while stitching, it has a mark at the back of the open toe that shows the precise center of the foot, and I can engage my machine’s dual feed mechanism, which helps the stitching to be more even.  If you don’t have this foot, I suggest your open toed embroidery foot instead.


37D foot in action

37D foot in action

  • I use a very thin thread–usually Kimono silk 100 weight or Bottom Line 60 weight–in a matching color to the edge of the applique.

I discovered if I use this setup and aim the edge of the applique right at that center-back mark on the foot, keeping the edge as close to centered in the foot as possible that it stitches precisely with the zig on the applique and the zag on the background fabric (doesn’t matter which side the fabric is on and which side the applique is on). Also, by doing this, I can tell exactly when I need to turn and how far.  There is a lot of turning in machine applique of flowers.

Stitching fairly slow to medium speed and trying to keep an even timing, produces the best most even stitch.

The result is very hard to see, but even under a magnifying glass it looks pretty.

I sometimes use monopoly using this very same setup only I use a universal Schmetz 7.0/10 needle for the monopoly.  I don’t know why, but it seems to keep it from misbehaving so much.  I don’t like working with monopoly because it is so lively and hard to see.  Still, sometimes it is the right thing to use, especially in something like this.

I printed off and cut out more flowers than I needed and arranged the flowers in place on the quilt, using Steam-a-Seam 2 so I could hand stick them down before I fused them in place.  I found I really could use a lot of the things I learned when I studied Ikebana even though the flowers were flat.

A side note: I have my fourth year certificate in Sogetsu Ikebana school that I obtained while living in Kanazawa, Japan.  My class was a group of three wonderful Japanese women and myself.  All three had lived in the United States and spoke English very well.  They taught me flower arranging, how to keep house in Japan, Japanese cultural items I needed to know, and a bit of Japanese.  I don’t think I could have managed life in Kanazawa without them.  There was much to learn.  This quilt is being made in their honor.

Sew happy everyone.  Try some broiderie perse precision applique by machine in your next quilt project.


Peppered Ikebana Quilt: Putting It All Together

OK all…I have made all the appliques (sort of) and am ready to put them onto the Sashiko background.  I must confess, the background came out so pretty I am sorry to cover some of it with the moon and Ikebana arrangement, but it is going to look fabulous….at least I think it will.  I embroidered the whole thing because I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted the Ikebana arrangement, and the Ikebana arrangement ended up fighting with the background, so I am adding a larger moon than I originally intended.

flower 5 for applique_001

I worked it all out with paper cutouts and have just printed the flowers onto Electric Quilt Printable fabrics.  They came out vibrant and beautiful.  I still have to back the flower prints with fusible web and cut them out carefully.  I did finish the moon from Peppered Cotton and the Japanese Ikebana Vase from an interesting piece of what I believe to be hand dyed silk dupioni that I purchased some years ago from the old G Street Fabrics remnants table.

placement for the moon...the moon will cover all the blocks behind it.

placement for the moon…the moon will cover all the blocks behind it.

Sew I hope all my friends on Facebook that “liked” my picture of the background will still like the quilt when they see how much of the background is covered with the appliques.   Even though I kind of regret covering/removing those blocks, I think the result will be worth it.  What do you think?

And about another thing….Almost no one ever comments on my blog.  I would really love to hear from you.  Please feel free to comment.  I only remove the obvious spam that occasionally shows up.

Sew happy everyone!!!


Canterbury Quilts Both to Go to Shows

Most of you probably already know this, but I just had to put up a post in case you don’t read Facebook.

Canterbury Silk has been juried into AQS Chattanooga

Canterbury Silk - retake

Canterbury Knight has been juried into IQF Houston

Betty Jo Tatum--Canterbury Knight 2--May 2015

I hope I get the right quilt to the right show…LOL….If  you go to either or both of these shows, please look them up.  It’s been a pretty nice few days!

Sew happy everyone!

G Street Fabrics: Once a Mecca for Sewists

G street centreville
It was with real sadness that I read that G Street Fabrics was closing its two Northern Virginia stores concentrating all their efforts on their Rockville, Maryland store. It is my hope that they restore their Rockville store to G Street’s former glory.  It has been obviously in great decline for some time.  This includes the store in Centreville, pictured above, which is the one closest to me (and was also my Bernina dealer).

Today’s Rockville store is far from what it used to be just about a decade ago. I remember from its glory days when G Street in Rockville (at it’s older location) was a magical wonderland for those of us who love sewing and quilting.

You could find the most wonderful buttons, trims, and fabrics of all descriptions. They almost always had everything you needed to make sewing fun, special, and successful. They priced their fabrics fairly then…not the ten to twenty-five percent higher than the going market rate that I often found in their stores in recent years (thereby forcing me to buy elsewhere since I have a limited budget).


The old store had step-up stages of magnificent fabrics from all over the world. You could step up onto the stage for their specialty fabrics and enter into wonderland–silks, cottons, rayons, even high end polyesters, embroidered fabrics, and beauties you could only imagine.  There was another stage with fabulous tailoring wools, high-end blends, and other wonders for all seasons  where I used to buy the fabrics to make my late husband’s suits and coats, and my tailored suits for work when I worked in a job that needed professional tailored suits.  I still have several of those pieces in my stash.

They had laces, bridal hat forms, veilings, and everything one would need to build a fabulous wedding dress.

The remnant tables were really fun.  It was like treasure hunting to go through what was there and once in a while I would find a fabulous remnant of a specialty fabric for a bargain price that I could use for touches in clothes that would make them special.

It was there I learned that fake furs could be as beautiful and feel and look almost like the real thing, and I made myself a fur jacket. Even their non-natural fabrics were plentiful and gorgeous.

Downstairs they had a huge floor where half of it was dedicated to home decorating and the other half to quilting.  They often had some magnificent quilts on the wall as you walked down.  The quilting section was as large as any local quilt shop and it was where I first got interesting in quilting.

It was fabulous. I miss it.  Sew I wish G Street well  in this new direction.  I hope that this move will allow them to return the remaining store to the mecca for sewists to visit from all over the country (I started visiting when I lived in Ithaca, New York decades ago).  It would make the hour of driving through thick traffic to get there from time to time well worth it for me, and I am sure, for many others.

Digitally Painting Flowers for Appliques

I have been making some progress on my Sashiko/Ikebana quilt. I got the blocks all embroidered with the Sashiko, cut and stithed together for the background, and I made the moon applique and turned the edge around a freezer paper template using starch, so it’s ready to applique. The next thing is making all the other appliques.

I looked through my stash and decided I did not want to use commercial fabrics for my broiderie perse appliqued flowers. I also found a wonderful set of line drawings on Dover Pictura, but they needed a lot of editing to make them work for outlines for my painted flowers.  So I thought I would tell you a little about how I approached that editing and painting. This is a very brief look..there is more to it, but the blog gets so long. Please ask questions if you want to know more.

I have found that a lot of line drawings you can find that are either copyright free or royalty free (that make them useable for my purposes) have lots of things that interfere either with digital painting or with digitizing for embroidery, but they are fairly easy to edit.  It does take time, though.  I use a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter 15 for this, but I could probably manage it in just one or the other.  I have found though that the combination gives me a very powerful setup, especially when I added Corel Draw and Bernina V7 to that mix. Then I can potentially use the same line drawing for fabric painting and for digitizing embroidery.  But for this project, you can probably do it all in most drawing packages.

First some of the drawings need to be a little simplified…removing dots, for instance, using the eraser tool.  So I start with Photoshop and edit the line drawings:

Preparing a line drawing

Then I make sure all the shapes have no “leaks” or gaps, using a narrow line drawing brush.

Editing a line drawing 1

Then I move it into Corel Painter 15 for the painting.  (Note, I save the outline as a .tif file and as a .jpg, and I use the .tif for the painting). I start by filling the shapes with color using the paintcan fill tool.  After I do that, I will add some highlights and lowlights using one of the digital air brush tools, and I might do some blending with the blending brush tools.  In some cases, I need to add some texture with some of the texture brushes,, as I did in the center of the blue flowers below.  I left the lines black because I think it looks good for fabric prints.  I will probably use the lines for stitching lines.

flower 4 for applique-a_003


But sometimes I just color the drawing with only minor editing.  In the drawing below, I filled all the lines in dark green (this requires care…just to touch inside the line so the lines go green and nothing else does).  I filled the leaves as much as possible (the spaces are very small) with the light green and then painted in the rest of colors using the scratch board brush.  I did not do any highlighting  or blending on the one below because the line drawing was so complex.

flower 5 for applique_001

Colors have to be more intense on the screen so they will print well on fabrics. If you try a paper print and it looks right, it’s probably too light. I can print an 11 x 17 inch fabric on my printer.  It will print larger, but I would have to prepare the printable fabric myself.  I get the 11 x 17 and 8.5 x 11 sheets from Electric Quilt.  After I print them with my ink jet printer, heat set, rinse, and iron dry it seems to be fairly permanent and washable.  So I print it and set it and then iron the fusible web on the back and carefully cut it out.  I do stitch the edge after ironing it in place.  Sometimes I use only a tiny straight stitch with 10o wt silk thread or with monopoly.  Sometimes the edge of the cut fabric shows a little white, and I use India ink markers to color the edges if needed.  This also needs to be heat set to make it washable.

It amazes me how far digital paint programs have come.  I especially love Corel Painter 15, but it really took me a lot of time before I began to really use the great features of this program.  I found some you tube videos by several of the digital painter experts that have helped me a lot.  One of the cool things about this is that I can resize the flowers, reverse print them, and print them all..then I have a lot of flowers without having to paint more.

Sew happy everyone! Try a little digital painting for fabrics.