Tag Archives: free-motion quilting

Too Many Coffee Breaks

Paper Pieced Coffee Quilt
Paper Pieced Coffee Quilt

Believe it or not, I actually do quilt almost every single day.  Blogging about the work as I go, however, has not been my strong suit.  Maybe if I bring this quilt to my PC for coffee breaks, I could write a few lines about what I am working on daily.

You may have noticed that I don’t have a lot of interest (or ability, for that matter) when it comes to piecing by a pattern. It is exciting to me to try many different techniques, with the expectation that some trend will develop in my quilts, but thus far that hasn’t happened.  That being said, I am currently working on a quilt club “Mystery Quilt” which is involving hundreds of little pieces, which may (or may not) evolve into a neat, precise whole.

Also in the works, thanks to Tim Latimer  (see timquilts.com)  is a redesign of a vintage quilt top rescue.  I am still in the process of deconstruction, but have a plan in mind.  More on that later this week.

The third project in the works, which will also appear in days to come, is a baby quilt, designed in the black, white and bright colors that are of the most interest to infants.

So back to my Coffee Break Quilt.  I found a free paper-pieced pattern for the coffee cup on Pinterest, selected colors that make me happy, and surrounded the blocks with those colors in solids, to give me a nice background for machine quilting.  The backing is flannel, to make it a nice cozy quilt for actually curling up with a hot beverage.  Here’s a close-up, for a better look at the quilting.

Coffee Break detail
Coffee Break detail
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Revisiting Portrait Quilting

Izzy on sax quiltIzzy saxIzzy on the Sax copy

My talented granddaughter recently experimented with the alto sax.  (This proud grandma can’t avoid mentioning the fact that she is proficient on the flute, but I’ll refrain from listing her other wonderful talents and attributes, so that we can get back to the quilting.)  I liked this photo so much that I wanted to try a wall hanging from it.  Here is the process used:

  1. The first step was using a photo editing program to posterize, change to gray scale, and enlarge the photo.  The enlarged photo was then printed in sections.  You may have to think through programs available to you, to accomplish this.  Once printed, the sections were overlapped and taped, to recreate the picture.
  2. Use a broad marker to outline the shapes you will use as patterns.
  3. I decided there were areas of background that could be pieced at random, and prepared these next.  (As the first photo shows, this included mainly areas to the upper right and upper left)  These were then attached to a light muslin base the size of the completed quilt.
  4. I now started building the images of granddaughter and sax from background pieces up, by tracing the desired area onto tracing paper and cutting them from my chosen fabric, already attached to a fusible backing.  These were pressed in place, sometimes directly onto the muslin, but at other times (such as in completing the face)  the pieces were first assembled by ironing them onto a non-stick surface.   An applique pressing sheet was used, but the release paper from a previous fusing process also works.  As pieces were added to the muslin they were machine stitched, using both straight and decorative stitches.  (Unfortunately the photos for this post are not clear enough to show detail, but this means you will freely use your own imagination.)
  5. When the image was complete, I chose to add borders, then a quilt sandwich was formed (quilt, light weight cotton batting and backing fabric) and was bonded together with basting adhesive.
  6. Now came the fun part.  Free-motion quilting was used to add dimension to everything.  If this is not joyful for you, however, a machine straight stitch would work just fine for all the quilting.
  7. A traditional binding was then attached.

While I enjoyed the process of this, my second portrait quilt, it has probably become just another chapter in my quilting education.  I am ever drawn onward to learning new techniques.  If another portrait quilt is attempted, I believe it will be more spontaneous and abstract.  But half the fun in this learning process is finding out what happens next!

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section, and I would love to hear about your quilting experiences.

Design Your Own Wallet

finished wallet

Summer is drawing to an end and I must return from the long vacation I gave myself from blogging.  The quilting has continued throughout, of course, so there is plenty to talk about.

This post is largely intended to inspire you to create your own custom utilitarian items, using your quilting skills.  You will see the insight to be gained from such projects.  In attempting my first wallet, I considered what I want to have with me, so that I am free from a larger purse.  In my case, that is ID, space for credit and reward cards, cash and my smart phone.  I wished to have a handle so that my hands can be free when shopping.

As the phone was the largest item, I calculated the finished size based on it’s dimensions X 3, and made a quilt sandwich about an inch larger all around, to allow for fabric covered by binding and that taken up by the quilting.  After quilting, it looked like this:Wallet quilting

I used one fabric for my wallet, but this would also provide an opportunity to be creative.  Keep in mind that you will eventually have to sew many layers together, and avoid extra seams at the edges.  The batting provides some extra protection for my phone, but you could use something with less weight if your machine has trouble with many layers.

One end was then folded up, for the phone pocket, and fabric was accordion folded and sewn to the outside of the pocket in a way that fit the number and size of my cards.  (See below)

Wallet prep 4

(In designing your own wallet, it might make more sense to arrange the card pockets on the side opposite the phone pocket, to create fewer layers.)

The handle loop is added at this point.  I used a detachable fastener purchased at JoAnn Fabrics, I created the handle and loop at the same time by folding in raw edges on the long side and stitching.  I then cut off a piece long enough for the loop on the wallet itself and attached it now.  Here is a view taken after the binding is added (unfortunately).  It does show that I chose to put it on the inside so that it is concealed at times I am not using the handle.

Fasten detail

So there we have it.  Add binding all the way around and you are finished.  As you can see, there is nothing precision needed to design your own items, just a willingness to experiment and come up with an item that meets your needs and can be adapted for gifting.

Discovering Portrait Quilting

gemma selfiegemma selfie
For some time now, portrait quilts have intrigued me.  After studying them, listening to You Tube tutorials, reading and imagining, I finally jumped in and gave it a try last week.  There are as many styles and techniques as there are quilters, as we all know, so I kept reminding myself that there is no wrong or right when it comes to quilting.

I started with a selfie,Selfie for grandma posted by my son, as selfies already  have a nice low number of megapixels, making it easily simplified, and because the distortion makes me smile.  This was to be a trial piece and I anticipated it would go in a scrap pile somewhere when finished.  It really surprised me, therefore, when I actually started to really like it.  Many authors have mentioned that, with art quilting, you need to feel free to just go where the quilt takes you, and that it will often take it’s own direction.  Initially it was to be just the isolated head of my granddaughter, but as that neared completion, the distortion of the selfie begged to be explained, so the cell phone border was added, complete with hand embroidered icons and a sparkly “screen”.  The title then went from “A Selfie for Grandma”, to “Facetime with Gemma”.

The simplified process was as follows:

1.  Using a photo editor, the head was isolated and simplified using a poster app.

2.  The result was printed in gray scale and I then traced around each piece I was seeing, using parchment.  By cutting the parchment pieces apart, you have a pattern.Selfie for grandma

3.  At this point you need to consider the process you plan to use.  If doing hand applique you need to add 1/4 inch all around each piece, but I planned to bond and machine applique,   Bonding is applied to each fabric you plan to use, then the pieces are cut out.  (I traced onto the bond paper, so had to place my pattern face down as well.)

4.  The face on mine was treated as a base, with the smaller pieces ironed on.  Then the whole face was bonded to the background fabric.  I stitched close to all the edges before making a quilt sandwich, and used hand and machine embroidery on the eyes, eyebrows and eyelashes.  The rest of the quilting and machine embroidery were done after layering the quilt sandwich.

If you wish more detail on any of the steps, feel free to contact me through the comments.  I am always ready to talk about quilting.

A “Simple” Quilted Wall-Hanging

SimpleThings quilt

The second project completed while passing the winter in South Carolina, is the above quilt, inspired by the shaker tune, “Simple Gifts”, as well as by the fabric seen below.

simple fabric

“Simple Gifts”

‘Tis a gift to be simple,

‘Tis a gift to be free,

‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.

And when you find yourself in a place just right,

’twill be in the valley of love and delight.

The quilt top was pieced very randomly, to demonstrate the concepts of freedom and joyfulness, using this fabric with coordinating solids.  I chose to call it “Simple Gifts from the Valley of Delight”.

After completing the top, some machine embroidery was added, to delineate fantasy flowers, and to add a different “gift” word to each of the print squares.  I wished the appearance of the words to be subtle, so that the viewer would have to seek them out, much as in life,  we need to be watching for the presence of these gifts in order to recognize them when they occur.  Below is a close-up of one of the squares, that shows the word “joy”.

IMG_201Simple Square close50130_112630

Finally, the quilt sandwich was built, and I had the pleasure of adding the free-motion quilting,  This was a fun quilt, Put together in recognition of the generosity of a brand new friend, who seems to always put the needs of others before her own, and who told me to use whatever colors inspired me, as there is no color which would not be welcome in her home.

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Creating a Donald Duck (or any other favorite character) Quilt

finished donald

Sometime before last Christmas, I set aside blogging, as my then current projects were all to be top secret gifts.  Now as a snowbird on Hilton Head Island, with nothing more pressing than to enjoy the sun and do some quilting, it’s time to return to sharing. My first project after settling in was this quilt, in order to fulfill a Christmas IOU.  Well before Christmas, I  made several false starts that ended with tabling the project until after the busy holidays.  This had shown me what didn’t work, and made it easier to find a process that produced what I had imagined.  Below is a simple version of the steps.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more details.

first three steps

1.  The first step was searching out the images I wished to use and transferring them to my blocks.  I found mine in Google images which is acceptable when making an item for your own use.  I used a printshop type program to create like-sized images and to print them. .  At this point you could use whatever method you prefer.  (Print directly on your fabric, print a heat transfer or print a copy and trace)  I was forced to trace, as I had brought copies and have no printer with me.  Make extra paper copies with any method, to use as patterns for the applique.

Fused applique2.  In choosing fabric, I was guided by Donald’s original cartoon images, only darkening them a bit to suit my own taste.  I then chose to work the rest of the quilt in those colors, adding only a striped fabric to draw the design together.  Fuse your fabrics to Wonder Under or the bonding product of your choice.  Cut patterns from your Donald image and trace them right side down to the Wonder Under backing of the appropriate colors.  Cut out the pieces and bond them to your block using the transferred image for placement. I then stitched around each piece, very close to the edge.  Donald is always shown with black lines around each object so I tried using my machine satin stitch for this, but wasn’t happy with the look, so ended up using hand embroidery for his lines.  Your might, however, wish to experiment with your machine.  A blanket stitch might have sufficed.

3.  Once the blocks were complete, I cut an assortment of various width strips of each fabric and laid them out to decide on my design.  Some people complete their design on paper and then know exactly what to cut, but this is the method I chose for this project.

laying out the design

4.  Now you are ready to sew your pieces together and create a quilt sandwich of backing, batting and the top.  I have recently begun using a spray bonding product in place of pinning.  This works so much better than pinning if you plan to free-motion quilt, which is my preferred method.

That completes your quilt.   Next blog I’ll share another simple wall hanging created as a thank you for a special friend.

Iris Thread Sketching

The completed piece
The completed piece
Iris detail
Iris detail

My sewing machine has been humming, and I’m eager to post about it. As a pledge just made to 81 other quilting bloggers, I’ll include more of my processes, trials and tribulations, from this day forward.

I started this piece as another way to practice my free-motion quilting without boredom. There are so many possible processes when working with thread and fabric that I am constantly trying to incorporate more. These pieces will be far from perfection, but will make me happy to see posted on the walls of my sewing cave.

I first randomly pieced the iris print and white Kona cotton. This was layered with batting and more white Kona for the backing. As you saw in my previous post, I fastened the layers together with just a few pins and was on my way. Using white in my bobbin and various colors of polyester embroidery thread on top, I free-motioned around the lines of the iris, and when comfortable with the patterns involved, I continued onto the white background with approximations of what the rest of the flower might look like, if these particular plants were mutants. (I don’t think it looks too bad, over-all, if one isn’t too judgmental.)

When satisfied with the “sketching”, I changed the upper thread to white and completed the background using some of the free-motion that I am actually supposed to be practicing. I finished with a traditional binding with the hand stitched back side.

I like the way this method makes the print fabric begin to resemble applique.

Meanwhile, two new presser feet arrived in the mail today, so I will soon be doing some applique and might also be able to complete a better machine stitched binding on quilts which are to get a lot of laundering.