July 27, 2015

Quiltmaking Essentials

Quiltmaking Essentials 2
I am telling you, mitered corners still elude me. When working with them I still need to refer to directions, even after all these years of quilting. It is probably because I don't use them in all my quilts, but some borders won't look good without them. I wish I had someone next to me right as I am doing it...

... but the next best thing is a good reference book. Quiltmaking Essentials 2 by Donna Lynn Thomas covers not only borders but also backings, bindings, sashings, and quilt block settings with lots of diagrams and photographs of quilts illustrating the different options. It is a wonderful resource for your library, particularly for those times when you make beautiful blocks but have no idea where to go from there.

Or, let's say you like the blocks of a quilt pattern but wish you could set them another way (am I the only one?): Donna shows you options and guides you with detailed and easy-to-understand instructions. You will also learn how to calculate border width, how to sew on-point quilts, unequal size block settings, how to bind scalloped borders... You get the idea!

I am going back to my cutting table to practice mitered corners again. After reading Donna's explanation, I am confident I learned it once and for all. I will keep the book nearby just in case...

July 23, 2015

City Girl Sew Along - Block 24

Wow! Two weeks working hard to finish all my school projects as the Summer semester ends next week and no chance to get into my quilt room! Everything is done now and here it is: block 24 for our City Girl Sew Along - The Scoop. It is my idea of how to celebrate all the work that went into this semester of graduate school: lots of ice cream! Besides, every city has an ice cream shop, so I needed to make one for 'our city'...

This block features Riley Blake Designs Honeycomb Dots in three colors. I think they are so fun!

Here is what you will need for this block:

(1) 8-1/2" x 8-1/2" square of white fabric for background
(1) 4-1/2" x 3-1/2" rectangle of yellow dots fabric
(1) 4-1/2" x 3-1/2" rectangle of orange dots fabric
(1) 4-1/2" x 3-1/2" rectangle of brown dots fabric
(1) 13" x 3" rectangle of tan fabric for cones
Fusible web for applique shapes (HeatnBond Lite is my favorite)
Matching thread for applique (I used Aurifil for most of the applique', except when I did not have the color I needed!)

The background white is also by Riley Blake Designs. With the busy colors for the ice creams, I thought white would make the best backdrop for them.

Click here to download template for the ice cream cones. Trace shapes onto the smooth side of fusible web (for more details on how to work with fusible web, click here). Iron them to the wrong side of each corresponding fabric as shown above. Cut around shapes using sharp scissors, and fuse them to background...

... according to the photo above. Machine applique' each shape with matching thread, and voila'! Super easy, and all that I could handle this week!

Now, take a peek at Ann's blocks. She is slowly catching up with me!

Gorgeous, huh? Her fabric choices are so cool!

How are your blocks coming along? You can make them at your leisure - just be sure to send me pictures as you finish them or when the quilt is complete. If you would like to join the sew along now you can find all the blocks with tutorials in the City Girl Sew Along page.

Enjoy your weekend!

July 9, 2015

City Girl Sew Along - Block #23

"The Gym" is block #23 for the City Girl Sew Along. Just piece two fabrics together for the background, and choose a dark gray for the silhouette which is appliqued. This block will take no time at all, so let's get started.

What you will need:
(1) 4-1/2" x 8-1/2" rectangle of light yellow print wall fabric
(1) 4-1/2" x 8-1/2" rectangle of print fabric for bottom wall (I used Halle Rose by Riley Blake Designs)
(1) 7-1/2" x 7-1/2" square of dark gray fabric for the applique
Matching thread for applique (I used Aurifil 12 wt #2630 as top thread, with 50 wt in bobbin)
Fusible web (I used HeatnBond Lite)

Gather all materials next to your sewing machine. You can download the applique template by clicking here (it has been reversed already). Trace shapes onto smooth side of fusible web and fuse them to the wrong side of dark gray fabric (for details on how to work with fusible web, click here).

Stitch together wall rectangles using a 1/4" seam. Press seam towards dark fabric.

Now, fuse applique shapes to background and applique' them with a blanket stitch. Notice the back of my block: there are two areas I appliqued with black thread instead of the gray Aurifil as I did not want to call attention to them: the part where the head meets the neck (shown above), and the other is where the neck meets the body (not shown).

By doing that the outline of the shape makes more sense. Easy, huh? We will continue to use applique' for a few more blocks. Check out all the blocks we have made so far by going to the City Girl Sew Along tab.

Have a great weekend!

July 2, 2015

City Block Sew Along - Block #22

Train Station is the name of block #22 for our City Girl Sew Along. It features reverse applique which is super easy to do. The train is set against a light gray background (Solid by Riley Blake Designs), so the train could be coming out of a tunnel, too!

Here is what you will need:

(1) 2-1/2" x 5-1/2" rectangle medium gray fabric for tracks
(1) 6" x 5-1/2" rectangle of blue/gray fabric for train (I used Mini Quatrefoil by Riley Blake Designs)
(1) 8-1/2" x 8-1/2" square of light gray fabric for background
Scraps of yellow fabric for lights
Fusible web (I use HeatnBond Lite)
Matching thread for applique (I always use Aurifil, unless I don't have matching color)
Fabric marker

This is what I gathered near my sewing machine. The template can be downloaded by clicking here. Trace template onto smooth side of fusible web (for details on how to work with fusible web, click here).

Iron applique shapes to wrong side of fabrics as shown above. As you can see, my lines are not usually straight because of the bumpy side of the fusible web. However, that is not a problem because I can fix them as I cut each shape.

Cut shapes inside the train carefully. Your train should look like this when you are done. One of the reasons we are doing this is because we will then be able to choose any print for the train and won't have to worry that it will show through the yellow for the lights, for instance.

Fuse shapes to fabric according to the photo above. I ironed some fusible web to the back of two pieces of yellow fabric, then inserted them between the train and the background where the holes for the lights were. For the reverse applique, machine applique around the cutouts on the train using thread that matches the train fabric. Then, machine applique the top lights and the tracks. Finally, using the fabric marker write the destination for your train.

How are you doing with your blocks? Take a look at Ann's blocks 13, 14 and 15 - aren't they gorgeous?

I can't wait to see what her finished quilt will look like. In the meantime, we have a few more blocks to make - I am thinking we will have about 35... If you get delayed, remember to check the City Girl Sew Along page where you can find all the blocks we have made so far.

Have a wonderful weekend,

July 1, 2015

Another Little Gem

Yesterday I finished another quilt from the Little Gems book by Connie Kauffman, this one for my son Ryan who turned 14 at the beginning of June. I was busy trying to meet a couple of deadlines so he had to wait a few weeks for his gift. I think it was worth the wait! Although it measures only 12" x 12", carefully chosen colors and fabrics make it really striking. It will eventually hang in his bedroom but for now he wants it downstairs where he can see it all the time.

Martingale - Little Gems (Print version + eBook bundle)
This is Connie's version (and also the cover of the book). Ryan likes teals, blues, etc, so I found lots of perfect batiks in my stash. He loves it! I decided not to add buttons or beads and he is glad. 

I had the perfect, super light batik to use instead of her white for the prairie points. I pieced it using Aurifil 50wt thread, and quilted in the ditch using Aurifil's monofilament - it added light and shine to the quilt. Martingale's Papers for Foundation Piecing was easy to use and rip when the top was done. 

The quilt uses only one block, just like the one I made for Christopher from the same book (click here to see it). One block + great step-by-step instructions = a fast project. This equation always works for me...

The patterns in Little Gems are so beautiful... Two quilts down, 13 more gems to go!

June 29, 2015

Bed cover makeovers

Martingale - Quick Change (Print version + eBook bundle)Have you seen this book?  It gave me the idea of having a couple different, plain bed coverlets which can be spruced up with bed runners and matching pillows/pillowcases. What do you think? It would be a wonderful way to keep bedroom decor fresh without spending a ton of money and time!

Quick Change, compiled by Karen Burns at Martingale, showcases beautiful designs by a host of accomplished quilters, including Kimberly Jolly from Fat Quarter Shop. The 13 patterns offer many color/block combinations for when you just want to start working right away on a project. Alternatively, they provide enough inspiration and opportunity for you to customize a design to your own liking.

Patterns are divided into bold and bright, rich and earthy, ocean blues, and summertime. You can skip to the theme that appeals to you or make one of each. With that in mind, making one of each theme would make a perfect bridal shower gift...

Take a look at some of the gorgeous bed runners:
Martingale - Quick Change (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Quick Change (Print version + eBook bundle)
(Photographs by Brent Kane for Martingale)
Martingale - Quick Change (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Quick Change (Print version + eBook bundle)

Whether you are a beginner (plenty of diagrams make the whole process soooo easy!) or an experienced quilter, the hardest part will be to decide which one to put together first. I am dealing with that 'problem' right now...

The book has an eVersion, too, which is great for those of  us who are running out of bookshelf room. If  you are looking for a quick, fun project or need a gift which will make a big impression without a huge investment of time and money, this may be the book for you.

Enjoy your day!

June 26, 2015

City Girl Sew Along - Block #21

This is another common sight in cities - the Bus Stop - and it is block #21 for our City Girl Sew Along. Simple and fast to make: you can use one fabric for the background or piece it as I did. All fabrics are by Riley Blake Designs and the light green print is my favorite -  Sew Charming C4546 - super cute!

Here is what you will need for this block:

(1) 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" rectangle of white/gray print fabric (background bottom)
(1) 3-1/2" x 8-1/2" rectangle of green print fabric (background top) -
(1) 5-1/2" x 1/2" rectangle of medium gray fabric (pole)
(1) 6" x 3" rectangle of same medium gray fabric for bench
(1) 3" x 3" square of light gray fabric for the stop sign
fusible web
matching thread for machine applique' (Aurifil 50wt will be perfect!)
fabric marker

Gather all pieces next to your sewing machine. To download template click here and for details on how to work with fusible web, click here. The picture above shows templates fused to wrong side of fabrics already (except for the third leg of the bench which I forgot but added later).

Cut around the fused shapes. Snip the corners of the light gray square so you will turn it into an octagon for the bus stop sign.

Stitch background pieces together using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seam towards green fabric.

Fuse shapes to background according to placement shown above and machine applique with matching thread using a blanket stitch (or the stitch of your choice). Using the fabric marker, add the words 'Bus Stop' to the sign. Press on the wrong side to set the applique stitches.

That is it! Thank you for sewing along for the past 21 weeks! Send me photographs of your blocks so I can feature them on my next post. If you are catching up with us you can find all the blocks on the City Girl Sew Along page of this block or in our Pinterest Board.

In the meantime, have a fun weekend! (I am linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts)


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