Thursday, January 30, 2014

Facing and Sleeve

I used a facing to finish the edge of this piece. You can see it stitched down and pinned here.

And here is the strip I chose for the sleeve. It is a piece of bias binding from a package. And once those are stitched I called it done! Yippee! Onto the next project!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Some Final Touches

My final touches for the top of this mini-quilt included couching some yarn to the front of the pitcher and adding a smattering of buttons. Here are some photos of that work.

I extended the yarn off of the vase and into the background. The yarn is supposed to be a twirling vine shape or something.

And here are some red, white and blue buttons from my button stash.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Leaves, Stems and Flag

I'm getting close to stitching all the parts of the bouquet down, but before I do that I need to stitch some stems on for the flower buds and flag stick. The stems and flag stick are strips of yarn couched to the background. For me couching is just using a zig-zag machine stitch over the strip of yarn. Here is the yarn I used.

The leaves for this piece are made by stitching batik fabric leaf shapes to a wool background. The wool background was then cut about 1/8" from the batik fabric. In some instances I did a wavy shape cut in the wool to make it a little more interesting. 

One of the leaves was given a bent shape in the middle before stitching it to the background.

The flag was made by appliqueing star fabric to a red and white striped fabric and then stitching it to the flag pole. I hand stitched the flowers and flag to the quilted background. The leaves were machine stitched down.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ruched Flowers and Embellishments

This photos shows a close up of the bouquet in my July 4th Mini Quilt. The three large flower heads and three flower buds are made from ruched strips of fabric. This post shows how I did the ruching. Its pretty simple.

I taught myself to ruch from on line information. I Googled "ruching" and found several good on line references. There are different approaches and I selected the method that uses strips of fabric to make the ruched design. There are other methods that involved cutting a circle out of fabric and gathering it. I haven't learned that yet. I like the ease of the strip method, and I find that I often have left over fabric strips from projects. This is a good use for those strips and it’s a quick take along hand project.

Here is a summary of the steps for ruching:

  • Cut a strip of fabric about 2.5 inches in diameter. For smaller flowers or buds, use about an 18" length. If you want a larger flower, use a one yard length. The width of the fabric can vary, so if you have something close to 2.5 inches, go ahead and use it. 

  • If you want the edges to be unfrayed, then iron the edges down about 1/4 inch as shown in this photo.  If you want the edges to be frayed, leave them as they are.

  • Thread a needle with thread that matches the fabric. Knot the end.

  • Bring the needle up from the backside of the fabric at one end of the strip.

  • Stitch through the strip at a 45 degree angle using a running stitch. When you get to the edge of the strip make sure the needle goes through to the backside of the strip.

  • Bring the needle and thread around to the front and stitch through in the other direction at a 45 degree angle. Once again make sure the thread comes out the backside of the strip when you get to the edge of that strip.

  • Do a couple of "zig zags" and then pull the thread to gather up. Gather up as you go along so you don't have to put too much strain on the thread. You don't want it to break and have to start over.
  • When the gathered piece is about a long as you want it to be, secure the gathers by taking some back stitches in the back and knot the thread. These are short bud pieces. If I wanted to make a large flower head I would have much longer gathered lengths. 

  • Shape the gathered length in a circle or U shape or however you want. Then stitch it down by hand to the quilt top. I like to stitch it to the top after it is quilted because the layers add more support for this embellishment.

And there you have it, easy ruching!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy Fourth of July - Sandwiching and Quilting

Normally I don't do my machine quilting until all the surface applique pieces are on the front. The machine quilting is often the technique I use to permanently hold these to the top. But in this instance I want the flowers and leaves in the pitcher to stand off the surface a bit, so I'm going to do all my machine quilting first.

This photo shows the fabric I used for the back of the quilt. It was given to me by Nancy Jacobus, a dear friend who passed away this last year. I will always think of her when I see this fabric.

Instead of using pins, I held my quilt sandwich together by sprinkling some Bo-Nash powder on the backing fabric and ironing it to the batt, and then sprinkling Bo-Nash to the batt and ironing the top to the batt. Bo Nash is the product that is often demonstrated at quilt shows. They use it to attach Angelina fibers to quilt tops. It worked very well for this small quilt. Here is the photo of the Bo-Nash product.

My Sweet Sixteen was used for the machine quilting. These photos show the stitching design I used. 

And now I move on to the ruched flowers...

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July - the Background...

This post is all about the background and pitcher for this patriotic mini-quilt.

Red, white and blue were my obvious color choices, with red and white ruched flowers in the pitcher. I decided a dark blue would set the red off nicely so I found a piece of blue batik in my stash that would be my primary background.

I've been trying to jazz up my backgrounds more, so I started pondering what to add to this.  I have been fixated on rectangular shapes lately. That is part of the reason I have been doing so many city-scapes. I don't know why, but the stacking of vertical shapes catches my eye and seems appealing. I'm sure a few sessions in therapy would turn up some underlying psychological issue to explain it, but I'm not going there!

So, some rectangular blue pieces along the "horizon" line could look like decorative items on a table, or just some abstract shape for interest. I wanted the blue rectangles to be a subtle addition. I cut the rectangles out and turned the edges under with a glue stick. I wanted them to be a little wonky, so I didn't take great care to see that they were symmetrical or straight. I arranged them, pinned and glued them, and then applique stitched them down. I thought a hand stitched edge would be more subtle.

Next for the pitcher. I collect pitchers and have quite a few on display in my house. I used this one as the model for this pitcher.

The overall shape was all I was after, kind of chunky looking. I drew the pitcher on freezer paper, found a red small print, and cut the shape out. Here's a photo of the freezer paper pattern and some of the blues I considered for the background rectangles:

Next came hand-appliqueing the pitcher to the background. I also stitched on a sliver of dark red to depict the inside of the pitcher edge. That turned out to not be necessary since the flowers and leaves covered it up.

With the background complete it is now ready for sandwiching and quilting. I'll show that on my next post.

Thanks for visiting my blog!