For my work, I have found that test samples are indispensable when I am making a significant fabric art project or quilt.
Test and practice piece for my first wool applique by machine project
For my work, test samples are indispensable, especially when I am making an important fabric art or quilting project and I highly recommend them for your work. I have had some of my students object to the use of the fabric, thread, and time that they take, sew I will tell you how I use mine.
I sandwiched two 24 x 25 inch test samples using the fabric on top that I am using in my main project.
Here is a sample test of borders for my quilt Out of Mom’s Workbasket
The point of these samples is to help me with the borders. I have divided the sandwiches into three sections and then one of the sections on one of the sandwiches into three blocks, since my border has corner stone blocks. I expect these two sandwiched samplers to help me do the following;
Practice my quilting so I am at my best when working on the finished project
Decide on the quilt patterns I want to use on the borders and corner blocks
Decide on the best way to mark them
Decide on the background stitching I want to use
Decide on the thread color, weight, and needles I want to quilt with
Decide on the stitch settings I want to use
Practice painting the designs to polish my painting skills before using it on my finished quilt, determine if I want them painted at all, and what paints to use.
Help prevent problems and mistakes on the main quilt.
If you finish the edges with a binding or serging, they make wonderful pet presents, knee guards for working on your knees in various chores, a sitting pad for a rest on an outdoor bench or step outdoors, and reference aids in your studios.
Here is a stitch out sample of the upper left corner of my quilt Pendragon. I digitized the outline of the ancient design, which needed a lot of fixing, so I had to do a stitchout before putting it on the quilt. I also wanted to try the painting to see how that would go. So I just stapled the sample into the book with notes.
Sew happy everyone! Try using test samples if you don’t already. They are worth the time and supplies they take. Have fun in your studios!
I don’t know about you, but September always seems to be the beginning of the sewing/quilting season to me. I get kind of excited wondering what I can make and share in my studio.
I was looking at some of my already published YouTube projects, many of which also have workbooks and patterns available on my site store for little or no cost. There are several there that will make wonderful Fall and Winter celebratory additions to a home or to make as gifts.
Fall Table Runner
Last year, with the help of my family production team, I made a fall table runner, but we did not get it out until mid November, which was clearly too late. We realized it, but published it anyway for people to enjoy watching at least. This year, you might want to look at this, purchase the workbook/pattern/digital embroidery (all in one package) and make it for your Fall celebrations. It has three how-to videos linked below and the downloadable workbook package below that.
Here is the finished wool applique by machine sampler.
This is a fun little project that uses mostly circles and decorative stitching to make a little wall hanging using wool. It is very like what some of you may do by hand, but is all done by machine with some specialty threads. I had so much fun doing this and I think you would too. You can choose your own colors. It does not have a pattern, but if you watch all three videos you really won’t need one. You can probably tell it was inspired by Sue Spargo’s fabulous hand stitched wool pieces.
This project results in a really delightful decorator pillow for your living room or bed room. It would make a really nice gift for someone. Truth be told, I made it with mostly the leftovers from the wool sampler above and a pillow I got from Amazon. It does have two how-to videos on YouTube and a downloadable FREE workbook/pattern on my website shop. Links of all below.
Sew I hope you will take a look at these projects and even make one or more of them. It would really help me if you subscribed to my YouTube and watched the projects. I don’t currently get any money from these on YouTube and very few people have gotten the workbooks/patterns. It would be fabulous if you did watch them all the way through and provided me with comments and suggestions. I will also answer your questions along the way if you decide to make one or more of these projects. Together they are like a virtual class where the instruction is free and the patterns are either free or modestly priced.
Some of my videos are simply sharing my work with you and are there for your viewing pleasure. I am working on one like that now where I am currently making a new show quilt and showing bits and pieces here and there as I do so.
It is possible to accomplish some amazing quilted textures and designs using a variety of stitches with your feed dogs up. This is particularly the case if you are blessed with a machine with 9mm wide stitches and even more-so if your machine will do sideways stitching for extra large motifs. I was recently reminded of this in my recent presentation at Suzzie’s Quilt Shop in Manassas Virginia where I showed and talked about my quilts. For that I pulled out my two architectural quilts where I used decorative stitches and straight line walking foot quilting a lot.
Some machines provide precise information as to the width and length of a decorative stitch, and are somewhat adjustable. Here is a screen shot from my B880 plus simulator with a flower motif that uses sideways motion to achieve a bigger design. I learned that it is important to keep a flexible clear plastic ruler with both inches and metric for figuring how to use such motifs. Here you see 41.6 mm wide (about 1.45 inches) by 72.2mm (about 2.85 inches). Many of these extra large stitch designs are not adjustable, so in this case, I would probably try to accommodate the design by slightly adjusting the size of the fabric I was going to use if at all possible. Therefore, it helps to plan out the use of such designs before you plunge in. I am thinking of making a small whole cloth quilt project of some sort just to show off what can be done.
This is big enough to be a nice quilting motif in multiple repeats down the middle of a sashing, for instance.
This would make a lovely quilting stitch down a narrow sashing, for instance, or the center of a larger design.
But I have also used more ordinary stitches in rows, even curved rows (such stitches will curve well, and you can even adjust the width while stitching on my Berninas, and probably other brands) to build up the texture of an area to look like stucco or rock face or some such:
For textured areas, choose geometric patterns that would fit together well in rows sewn closely together.
This method was what I used for some of the walls in this architectural quilt. Note that I had to curve and narrow the decorative stitch design and place them close together. Also it wasn’t perfect, but still looked nice.
From Perspective in Threads, (the colors are off in this picture, but you can see the stitching) entirely done with threads…some decorative stitching, some straight line sewing using a walking foot, and some free motion — stitched in four different thread weights (12, 40, 50, and 100).
This is more detail from the same quilt, and is closer to the correct color than the first detail shot. Look at the wall surrounding the back arch that looks kind of like stucco. That is rows of decorative stitching. The shadows under the steps are simply well-placed rows of straight stitches.
If you do landscapes or small pictorial renderings and want a nice field with flowers and grass, for instance a stitch design with small flowers stitched with variegated threads might just be what you need. This is just a 9.0 mm width and a 15.7 mm (.62 inches) length design. Rows of this spaced closely together would work.
This shows stitch 128 choice.
I did something like this (I don’t remember the exact stitch, but it might have been this one) in the yard on the rendering of the house on “Dad’s House Plan”.
Sew it is possible to get some wonderfully appropriate and detailed quilting on your domestic sewing machine if you are not comfortable with free motion stitching, and even if you are. Sometimes, it is just the right texture that you need and can obtain with those decorative stitches.
Sew happy everyone! Try something new with decorative stitches and have fun in your studios. I plan on going back to a blog every couple of weeks again. Please comment, pay a visit to my YouTube. Cheers.
Hi everybody! I cannot believe it is March already!!! I am currently working on a small landscape wall art quilt with mountains and evergreen trees that includes the writing of a workbook with pattern, hand cutting or svg cutting files for use with a digital cutter, and a set of videos for my YouTube channel. I am loving this project! A couple of family members came up with the concept and I knew as soon as I saw it that I would love doing it and how to do it. It involves prepared turned-edge applique-piecing by machine, stitched raw edge applique, yarn couching and big thread free motion stitching. It will be a lovely size for wall art in a home or office–somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 x 20 inches. I hope some of my followers will do this project once it is available and really enjoy it.
So far, I am about half way through the construction and filming but I am not sure when it will be published. The workbook and pattern set are also nearly finished and that will be available in my shop on my website.
Way back in May of 2021, I presented the first of my landscape quilting techniques sampler piece and promised more. I was astonished to realize it has been so long since that was published!!! Here’s the link for the first of two videos for this project: Landscape Quilting Deciduous Trees Skillbuilder. Yes, it was early in my adventure in my YouTube channel and that shows, but the techniques are solid and fun, and the promise was real. I believe we (me and my family production crew) have come a long ways in our production of such projects and videos in this time. This project included stitched raw edge applique, broiderie perse, and free-motion quilting with 40 weight and 12 weight decorative threads. The quilting and decorative stitching is found in the second video: http://Landscape Art Quilting Part 2 So this will be the second in my Landscape Skill-building series. I hope to have a few more in the future.
Overall, I am trying to get faster and better in the videoing and the production of patterns and workbooks. It’s a stretch but I enjoy having a creative challenge as I reach my 76th birthday this Friday, March 3rd!!!! I anticipate many years still in this creative endeavor, and am increasingly employing the high tech tools in my studio to help overcome some of my aging factors that make hand sewing, for instance, and other things involved in fabric art more difficult. Age should not be a limiting factor in creative pursuits. Here’s an amazing performance of a 100 year old ballerina that highlights my point:
I have also started making a new deep space show quilt based on a fabulous NASA photo. At least I hope it will come out good enough to be a show quilt. This will be my fourth space show quilt. I am filming some of that as I work through it, but it is not intended for a tutorial, just some fun videos. This type of quilt is almost entirely made at my sit down Bernina Q20 longarm in free motion. The galaxy is made from Angelina Fibers and nylon veiling. I really like this kind of quilting. It’s like playing and dancing to me! Here is my third deep space quilt, which won a couple of ribbons in its show life, although these are difficult to photograph:
I am hopeful I will get some good ideas from my “production crew” on how to best video my new space project. Cameras have a hard time dealing with such reflective sparklies.
And no, that’s not all I am working on, in case you are wondering, but we will chat about these later in the year when I am closer to getting them up and running for you to see.
Sew happy everyone!! Young, old, and in between, have fun in your studios!
A video studio (not mine) from stock photos. Where’s the sewing machine?!!!
This has been one of those days that are both fun and frustrating.
I am making several versions of a quick little project for Christmas presents and simultaneously using the making of them for a short video project. It had gone very well until today with a pretty good overhead scene and one at the machine showing the start of the project I did yesterday. I had a whole scene worked out at the machine that took about an hour and a half to film. It actually took me more than two hours by the time I did the preparations filming things and so forth. It went so well at the machine. I was so happy with what I thought was an interesting video showing some special stitching techniques and how to do them at my Bernina 880 plus. And JUST as I came to the end of the scene, the camera ran out of battery power. I didn’t see it happen because I was concentrating on the stitching. The camera did what it has only done once before and gave me a warning that it hadn’t completed the file and did I want it to repair it. Sigh.
Practice Stitch Library showing extra wide multi-directional special stitching
Now the last time it did that on a previous project, I said yes and it reformatted the whole card and wiped out all the files on that card. So instead, I turned off the camera and removed it. I took the card to the computer to see. The two previous scenes were fine (phew!), but today’s was corrupted and unable to play! Oh fiddlesticks! The item itself, however, was beautiful. I’ll tell you later what it is.
Fortunately it’s a small project, I had leftover fabric, and I was able to prepare the next piece to redo today’s filming and am now ready to redo today’s work tomorrow. It will at least result in two of these small presents, and I was planning on making several anyway. So in essence, I did not lose much time. That is, if tomorrow’s filming goes better. Plus, I think my demonstration will go better because I have done a full run-through now. Hahaha.
The moral of the story is to have extra supplies and fabrics, and try to not get too upset when these things happen in this combination video work and sewing adventure and look on the bright side. I think you are going to like this project. I have several shorter projects lined up for the next few videos and then I will launch into quilted fabric art for 2023. Yes, I have a list much longer than I can possibly do already worked out for next year, which, to my delight, includes a couple of show quilts!!! Perhaps my biggest challenge will be choosing which project to do first and so on. But I am anticipating having some fun my studio.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio even when things don’t always work out like you want. Cheers everyone!
This is a nice jacket pattern I have. I plan to make this one and do the embroidery too.
Sew I recently purchased three nice cotton blend oxford shirts on a very good sale that fit me perfectly 😮 (!) to replace some in my closet that are decidedly worn. Well, they are 15 or more years old, I think!! I plan on embellishing the new ones with in-the -hoop embroidery and decorative stitching. 🌺
I also have a nice light suede cloth jacket I no longer wear very much but is in great shape and I thought I would alter that down a little bit and embroider that too. Maybe I will do some yarn couching on it (inspired by Bethanne Nemesh, but different). This is all so I can dress in keeping with my fabric artist lifestyle and go out from time to time. 🙃 I might also change the buttons to something more decorative. These will be nice additions to my wardrobe and are a nice fit (my old shirts are a size larger). I seem to be ok with most of my jeans and slacks, though a new pair of dress slacks might be in order.
My current fall and winter work “uniform” is usually a shirt and black jeans plus a sweater when needed. I suddenly realized how surprisingly old my whole wardrobe is, and it looks it too. So I also have plans to make a nice black suede jacket, a denim one, and a light wool slacks suit out of some of the fabulous fabrics I have in my fashion stash under my bed. I have a few beautiful silk blouses I made some time back in good shape. I think they look nice even a little looser than I used to wear them. We’ll see how much, if any of this that I will get done.
If only I had a fairy godmother with her magic wand. LOL
This all, however, must wait for me to finish the Thanksgiving project and a few other things. Are you doing any fall and winter fashion sewing? Are you embellishing it?
Hi everyone! I got to thinking a lot this week about what is needed to advance one’s fabric artistry abilities. This was brought on because one of my best friends is getting a new sewing machine next week. It’s already in, she just has to go pick it up and has scheduled a class for learning to use it.
For several years now I have been helping Anita learn how to add fabric as a new medium to her already wonderful art and basic sewing skills. She has made amazing progress. In return, she has helped me reorganize my fabric and thread stash, assembled kits when I made them for classes, worked with me to make church banners (we go to the same church), willingly tested some of my ideas, and generally encouraged me in my current projects. We enjoy our sewing and chatting time together.
Her wonderful old Bernina 1230, which was nearly 25 years old and was originally mine, had the mother board die and they don’t make or have replacements anymore, so she bought a new Bernina 480. This is a great choice for her because it has a 9mm stitch width with lots of decorative stitches and the harp space is one inch wider than her 1230. It will advance her work. Over the next year or so she plans to add some of the accessories that don’t come with it to stretch the usefulness of the already fabulous machine for her kind of work. It will take a Bernina Stitch Regulator, but I think she probably won’t get this for a while. The others include:
The Gold ocher color bobbin case that gives a tighter bobbin tension than the black one that comes with it and is particularly useful for decorative stitching, free motion embroidery, and quilting. I think they should have included this in the initial machine package (do you hear me Bernina?).
A single hole stitch plate for straight stitch accuracy and free motion stitching.
The walking foot which is extremely helpful for a quilter/bagmaker
Multi-Spool Holder: Attaches to the back of the machine and allows the use of threads on cones (cheaper by the yard) and has a telescopic threading rod that also helps manage the threads from metallics and other difficult threads.
Bernina Thread Lubrication Unit: Helps handle metallics and other difficult threads (Rayons, for instance)
A quarter inch foot number 96 C with guide or #37 which enables really accurate quarter inch and eighth inch seams to piece things together.
20c open toed embroidery foot A definite necessity for any fabric artist.
Narrow hemstitch foot (there are five of them of various types which make different kinds of narrow hems. Probably #63 would be my choice. She wants to make some scarves among other things that need narrow hems.
Free Motion Couching foot #43: couch heavy threads, cords, and yarns to the surface of the fabric. I have also used this as a free motion stitch foot for stitching over uneven surfaces before I got the cup foot.
39C clear embroidery foot: It is a great foot for decorative stitching and has a small hole for threading cordonet thread or other light cording through to stitch over with decorative stitching.
So far, she has developed fine skills and used them for free motion embroidery, hand embroidered baby quilts, appliqued bed runners, quilts for her grand children with free motion quilting, bags, a lovely drapey jacket, table toppers, and a beautiful Victorian ball gown for her grand daughter complete with a perfect fluffy petticoat for it. I would say she has clearly graduated from a basic sewer to advanced intermediate sewer and intermediate quilter, and is hovering on the edge of tipping the scale into an advanced fabric artist and quilter. While it is unfortunate her old machine died, this new machine will be a blessing for her.
Anita’s lovely granddaughter modeling her beautiful satin jacquard ball gown Anita made for her.
Sew in addition to a good sewing machine, what, in my humble opinion, does it take to become a master sewing artist? It definitely does NOT mean that everything you make is a masterpiece. Sometimes the pieces are, frankly, not very good. It does, however, mean that you are capable of making a masterpiece and do from time to time and are willing to take the leap to try. Since I am an incorrigible list maker, I have a list of what I think is needed to reach for advanced fabric artist and quilter. It’s an ongoing endeavor and lots of fun to do.
It takes a good understanding of your machine (or machines) and a number of interesting things you can do with it beyond make a seam or a buttonhole and kind of constant testing and trying out of possibilities with it. Never stop learning. I am constantly working on this myself. Indeed, I have spent the last six months or so learning things I didn’t know or needed to improve in using my Bernina 880 plus. I’m sure my sons and daughter-in-law are tired of hearing “wow! Did you know I can do such and such with my machine?” But I have to tell someone!
Handwork, even if you are, like me, primarily a machine person. You can turn your understanding of handwork into using your machine for about 90 percent of the time.
It really helps to gain a solid understanding of interfacings, stabilizers, and battings; fibers and their properties; thread types and weights and what they are for; what needles you need for which threads and kind of sewing; markers; and tools available beyond the obvious.
There are always new developments in sewing tools and I am often surprised by what’s available now. The struggle is figuring out what tools are really needed or at least would help speed or improve a frequently needed process and which can be passed over. I am sort of a gadget/tool fan, so I often have to tell myself “no” firmly when confronted with the purchase of a new tool. Hahaha. I do have a large collection, but I have been sewing since I was five and am now 75. Plus I inherited both my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s sewing supplies. So the vast majority of my sewing tools have been around for a long while.
But chiefly, it takes allowing yourself to have confidence in your abilities, and a certain amount of willingness for risk taking that comes with realization that one will sometimes fail and have to spend a lot of time unstitching or remaking pieces of a project or start all over using a different direction. It’s part of the adventure. Also, sometimes, you just have to abandon a project and realize it is ok to do so. I constantly work on this.
Where I personally need to work the hardest is in my designs. That is the hardest thing for me because I almost never use someone else’s designs and often have a vision in my mind that may be difficult to get down into a workable pattern or guide either on paper or on my computer.
Piecing accurately. Even an art quilter needs to piece from time to time. I think I am just fair intermediate piecer.
Speaking of patterns, I am working on improving my professional pattern-making skills to a higher level for use by people who would like to try the projects I present on my YouTube channel, in my blog here, and in books. I no longer have classes since Covid shut them down and I switched to videos and writing permanently, but I still teach by these methods and one-on-one in person.
There are other things that may add a lot to a project, especially in the embellishment arena, but are not required. These might include crystals and beads, fabric paints, found objects, charms, 3 dimensional sewing (like butterflies and flowers for instance), machine embroidery–both in-the-hoop if you have an embroidery machine and out of the hoop (even if you do have an embroidery machine).
I’m sure I have forgotten something. Do you have any ideas?
The thing to know is that you probably already have most of these things in your virtual tool belt and, like me, mainly just need to learn more in each of these categories. I find it fun. Do you?
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio and let me know what your fabric adventures are.
Sky Horse from 2014. This quilt won several ribbons and was shown at Houston IQF in 2014. It is inspired by NASA photos of the Horsehead Nebula.
I was just listening to Dee’s Saturday Sampler (TQS) talking about adding hot fix crystals to quilts. Now she did a nice presentation. But there were a few points that I would like to add. I have lots of experience doing this across the years, especially for my deep space quilt series and Christmas quilts. Also, I add a few crystals for many other types of quilts. Even though I wrote about this in a blog back in 2018, I thought it was time to revisit this technique and update what I said back then.
Stellar Nursery, my first deep space quilt using NASA’s “Mountains of Creation” pictures.
My love for embellishments started decades ago when I had my own fashion design and tailoring business when I designed and my shop made formals, wedding dresses, and costumes for operas, dancers, and skaters. Back at the beginning of that business, I hand sewed or glued most of my embellishments on. Now I mostly use hot fix embellishments, including Swarowski crystals, hot fix pearls, and different shapes.
Out of Mom’s Workbasket. This quilt won Third Place in the Traditional category in Pennsylvania National Quilt Festival 2021. I did not show it elsewhere because it is white and precious to me. I used hot fix pearls across the quilt.
I recently replaced my hot fix crystal wand. It works very well for me especially when I use hot fix transfer tape! What a great invention and what a wonderful improvement to my crystal placements!!! It works also with digital cutters that make hot fix crystal designs, such as the Brother Scan and Cut, but you need the Rhinestone Starter Kit to go with it for that. I do not have this kit, so I have not tried making them.
Sew here are my steps for adding hot fix crystals to a quilt.
Put on your music or audiobook.
With your craft or old scissors, cut a piece of the transfer tape (I use both a smaller cut of around a six inch square and a larger cut of about a 10 inch square. It’s reusable about four or more times.
Place the item you are embellishing flat on the table or ironing board.
Remove the backing from the transfer tape.
Working in sections, place your hot fix crystals (or other hot fix embellishments) on a section of the quilt in the pattern you want them .
Lower your transfer tape piece carefully down over the section of crystals trying not to disturb the pattern and press it down around the crystals and more or less attaching to your project.
Grab a large ceramic cup or dish to put your hot wand into. I think the cup works a little better than the dish shown here, but either one works better than those little stands that comes with some of them.
With the wand iron, heat each crystal with the tape still in place for as long as it needs. You can move the whole tape with the crystals on them a little bit as you need them. Hold it firmly in place and tap your toe, or count slowly.
tiny ones require about 12 toe taps or slow counts.
medium ones require about 20 counts
the larger ones require more…30 to 40 counts to be really secure.
the shaped ones do best with a small iron flat on the tape. I did have one iron get too hot on the tape once and it melted a piece of the tape! I only had it happen once and that iron died shortly thereafter, so it may have been operating badly on the way out.
The transfer tape does not melt and acts as a pressing cloth, protecting the fabric to which you are attaching the crystal from burns by the wand. It also holds the crystals in place so they don’t go flipping off into never never land. If it gets just a little out of alignment, you just move the tape…the crystal stays on the tape until it is fully glued down and then releases with no problem. This means you can pick up your tape slowly to check if you’ve missed one or if it needs more time and replace the tape if so.
Another way to approach it is to place multiple crystals on the tape upside down with the crystals to the sticky side and just move the tape around and place the crystals on one by one. This is a particularly good method for clothing and other shaped pieces when you are having a hard time getting them flat for crystal placement.
I like to shake the quilt when all the crystals are cool to see if anything falls off. Sometimes it does, but now is the time to find out. So just put the crystal back down and cover it with the tape and re-iron. Occasionally, a crystal does not seem to have adequate glue, so you can throw that one away and use another one, or use glue to affix it.
These crystals and pearls really add some loveliness to your projects. They are washable and durable, especially if you shake the item to make sure they are fully attached. Some say it is possible to get carried away with such crystals and pearls. Some quilt police types feel they should never be on your quilt. I say, it’s your quilt. Add the sparkle you want and ignore them and enjoy your blinged out piece.
I used to think that cutters beyond scissors or rotary cutters were not a necessity in my studio. Indeed, I was a little snobbish about it. LOL But now I would really not like to do without them. I have both a die cutter and a digital cutter and use them both.
Some years ago I bought the Accuquilt Go! cutter and have slowly added the admittedly expensive dies to my collection over the years. Quilt shows often have particularly good sales for these dies. The most important use I make of them is to cut borders, blocks, and bindings. I can cut out a fast simple cuddle quilt in a matter of minutes, truly, and they are accurate and easy. It enables me to make a wonderful quilt in a couple of days, complete with quilting and binding. It helps me use up some of the fabrics I have laying around, thereby freeing up space in my stash. I also have a collection of fun shapes..circles, leaves, animals, flowers, and so on…that I have used a lot, particularly when I was putting together kits for teaching and needed a lot of them, and they make a nice addition to some of those fast cuddle quilts. You can cut layers of fabric at once in the Go! cutter and it is an excellent tool for quilters of all stripes. I wouldn’t like to do without it.
I got a Brother Scan and Cut 125e in March for my birthday and now I wonder how I ever did without it, especially for the kind of applique quilting I often do. The primary advantage of a digital cutter for me, of course, is that I can design my own shapes, or use published patterns, and don’t have to depend on the die shapes that are available or cut intricate shapes out by scissors. You can only cut one layer at a time, but it will cut paper, fabric of a wide variety, cork, vinyl, plastic, and so on. You do need several kinds of mats and blades for cutting all those things, and I did find it a little hard to figure out at first, but it is so easy to use now that I have. I have made several greeting cards for friend and family with it too. I suspect other brands work as well, and my library has Silhouette cutters available for public use, which I have used. So you might check at your local libraries.
I have found that the Scan and Cut will cut fabrics with precision in very detailed shapes that are hard to accomplish with scissors. This is especially good as my aging hands with developing arthritis find such intricate cutting to be harder to do otherwise. In fact even if you don’t find scissors cutting difficult, the cutter is still a fast and accurate way to cut your appliques. I keep coming up with other ideas for its use.
So recently, over YouTube I learned how to make a stencil with the Scan and Cut and I plan on making some for marking refined and delicate quilting patterns on quilts. I have not yet tried it, but that opens a world of possibilities for future quilting. I have gotten pretty good in free motion stitching with my Bernina Q20 sitdown longarm without marks, but sometimes it is important to have the quilt marked for stitching with attention to detail or when you need symmetry. It will cut stencil plastic easily, but I am thinking of trying a doubled layer of freezer paper for single or limited use designs and it could be ironed in place for Pounce chalk marking. If I create quilting designs that I think will be useful on multiple quilts, I will cut it from the stencil plastic.
As those of you who follow my work know, I use stitched, raw-edge applique quite a lot. In the past, I printed out the applique shapes onto printer paper in reverse, and traced the shapes onto the fusible web and cut it out with scissors. Now, I send the shape to the Scan and Cut, iron the fusible web onto the fabric wrong side, and send it through the cutter. I get it done in a third of the time or less and with greater accuracy.
But what if you wanted to do stitched turned edge appliques? For that, I turn to the expertise of Kathy McNeil where she demonstrates the method, but I add in the cutter to help out. She uses a very light weight fusible interfacing precut by hand in the shape of her applique and irons it to the wrong side of her fabric, then cuts around it a little less than a quarter of an inch from the edge of the shape. Then she prepares the applique using glue and appliquick sticks available in her web store. Here’s a video of that process. She sews her appliques on by hand. I would use the machine of course.
So if I start with the applique shape I have drawn or downloaded on my computer, and instead of printing it onto paper and tracing it to the interfacing, I can wirelessly send it to the Scan and Cut from my computer. The shape needs to be reversed for ironing onto the back. You can do that at the cutter if you want to before cutting. Then cut the interfacing pieces and iron them to the applique fabric and continue as she shows with the sticks and the glue. So if you have a bunch of these appliques, you can cut as many as will fit onto a 15″ x 15″ piece of interfacing (the size of the cutting mat) at one time. It’s quite easy to take the shapes and move them around once they are digitally in your Scan and Cut. NOTE: You need to use the low tack mat for the really light weight interfacing by itself.
Sew I have found that having both cutters in my studio is a really nice addition to the tools available for me and they each have their own use and don’t cancel each other’s usefulness out. They are separate tools with their own uses.
Hi everybody! I think we all need a diversion and some quilting to help deal with the roiling of events in the news lately. As for me, I have been starting two new projects after my last one that was going to be entirely on painting quilts took a nose dive. By the way, if you want to know about painting quilted fabrics stay tuned. I will still present these techniques scattered throughout my other projects as needed, but not a whole video series for those techniques after all. Mostly I have to work on camera placement and filming techniques for painting quilted fabrics. The problem was entirely related to painting while filming.
Sew what are these new projects? Well, one of them, and the next video project, is a second dive into wool applique by machine in which I will be making a pretty scene with a Kingfisher bird on black wool that will be sized for use as a decorative pillow top. I am nearly finished making the pattern and I will be using my Scan and Cut digital cutter to cut the pieces. The downloadable pattern will be available on my shop for a small amount and will include both a pdf file for those who do not have a digital cutter and the svg files divided by color for those who do. I will be providing videos showing how I do them for this project, including the use of my new Scan and Cut.
The second project is a new “show quilt”! Sew there will be a video exhibiting only some of the making of this quilt and there will be no pattern. I am making my fourth deep space quilt and as soon as my fabric arrives this week I’m ready to start construction. I will be using Deep Space II #98 Peppered Cotton designed by Pepper Cory to build the scene, inspired by NASA photos of M51 Galaxy (there are many), which is a spiral galaxy that has a second spiral galaxy farther away and kind of behind it on the edge, making it look like a small spiral is attached to the larger M51’s tail. Unlike most of the other peppered cottons, this one is not a shot cotton but is yarn dyed intensely black. It makes me happy that the name of the fabric is “Deep Space II”. Thank you Pepper for bringing it to my attention. I love making deep space quilts. They are a whole cloth quilt, built entirely with free motion stitching and almost no marking. It includes a little paint, a large Angelina Fibers applique, and covered with black veiling, then quilted together in ways that make sense, and adding some free motion embroidery to represent the space dust. After that, I add a lot of hot fix crystals, kind of using the NASA photo as a guide for placement to represent stars. Some of the larger stars or star clusters are sometimes backed with an embroidered representation of the light that shoots out around it from the lens flair often in a cross shape that is highlighted on the NASA photos. This adds to the interest and beauty of the quilt in my humble opinion.
Practicing for making a deep space quilt.
I like having two very different style projects going at once because it allows me to move from one to the other when I need a break from some aspect of a project.
Sew this past week I spent a fair amount of time thinking about and updating my Quilt Project Plans spreadsheet for the remainder of this year and into next year. It is way more than I can possibly do in that space of time perhaps, but it is wonderful to look forward to the near future projects and be able to pick from some of those I have already thought through a lot. I also keep a handwritten notebook where I describe most of the projects more fully and sometimes keep outlines and notes to help me make them. I have been doing this for many years. Way back to when I only did clothing designs and sewing. It’s sometimes fun to take one of the old notebooks and look through them to see just what I actually made of the many plans that have floated by. I sometimes pull a long-forgotten project out and make it.
Here are some pages from my Pendragon quilt project that I did complete and that was shown in several prestigious quilt shows, including Houston. The sample shown here is a test for the upper left corner of the border.
Sew happy everyone! And remember, sometimes you need to abandon a project and not feel like it is a fail. Doing so can often open up an explosion of new ideas when you realize you no longer have to struggle to complete something that just isn’t working, and sometimes persistence through the challenges helps you to finish works and you come out with a real winner. Give yourself permission to take the path that works best and be sure to have fun in your studios!