Friday, April 27, 2012

Tweet Tweet

I realize that many times over the past few years, I have had a lack of desire to quilt and/or blog, so if you have not seen me lately, it's because I was busy working on projects that were not quilt related.

Recently, my attention was redirected to working on a project for my sister. She wanted birdhouses, but I couldn't figure out what to do, so in the meantime, I dug out a book I've reviewed in 2010, "Nature's Elegance" by Jan Kornfeind. This was a design I really liked and am happy to have the opportunity to create it now.  This project is also the first quilt that I actually have completely finished, since doing my 2010 Quilt Challenge. 


Quilt chosen:  "From A Baltimore Garden Wall Hanging"

There are two quilts in this book that have birds on them, and so I was able to take elements from both projects. The first was the applique design and border choices, and the second from the other quilt was choosing to use a darker background fabric for the center block, instead of a cream print fabric.

I used a dark green thread to do the applique stitching around the applique pieces. Then, using a darker blue thread to do shadow quilting around the design; and some stitching in the ditch around the borders.  

Placing the Applique Pieces

Closeup of the Vase and Stems

Closeup of the Bird

Complete with Borders

The quilt design measures 28" x 30" in the book. Since I used fat quarters for the quilt top, not including the applique, I only needed to adjust the width of the outer border. This made the finished quilt size at 26" x 28". I also used two tiny square buttons for the bird's eyes. These I stitched on with orange thread to make them look more like real eyes.

 Finished Quilt

Happy Quilting

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hexagon Challenge

Love quilting; but feel like the techniques challenge your abilities more than your desire to give them a try? Well, that is why quilting has such diversity.

Here is one such situation...
At the beginning of this year, I joined a block of the month at Craftsy. I knew that as I looked at the list of techniques that were to be done, there were several that got this response: "Oh, no, not that one!"

April's Technique: "English Paper Piecing"

Okay, so this looks fun and I think I can give it a try; afterall, it's only one block. I have never done this technique and so why not do it as the video teaches. 

This is what usually happens when I encounter techniques that have a negative appeal, I have a mental battle with myself for a while until I decide it's time to follow my heart. As quilting for me--is a time to enjoy--and a place where I can create my own rules. This brings me either a "I do it another way" or a "don't do it at all" result. (I generally change something, to make it my own.)

So, instead of skipping this month's technique, I decide to do it my own way. So, if you love dislike paper piecing of any kind as much as I do, here is how my first block turned out.

Changing the Rules

Since I always choose machine stitching over hand-stitching, whenever I can, this is how my block emerged. I also like using double stick fusible web.

Here, I only need one template for my pattern. I place it underneath the fusible web and trace out the number of hexagons that I will need for my design.

Tracing the hexagons onto the fusible web

For all of my BOM blocks I am using fabrics from my stash. So each month, I decide on the colour scheme that best suits the technique's design. Since my background fabric had greens in it, I choose to use a variety of greens for my hexagon shapes. I already had these precut squares in my stash.

Hexagon Fabrics--Greens

Following the fusible web instructions, I proceed to attach the hexagons to each fabric. With a quick press of the iron, they are adhered to the fabric. And are ready to cut out. Leave a generous one-quarter inch seam allowance around each as you trim the extra fabric away.

Placing the fusible web hexagon on the fabric

Trimming the extra fabric around the hexagon

I left the top paper liner on as I pressed the seam allowance over the paper. Two reasons for this: the paper helps define where the edge of the hexagon shape is and the iron doesn't pick up any of the adhesive.

Pressing the edges over the hexagon shape

 Seam allowances marked

Then, I removed the second paper liner; and with the tip of the iron very carefully pressed the seam allowances in place. With the seams already pressed, this makes it easy to do this step. Continue to press down each side until you are all the way around.

 Very carefully press down the seam allowances

Hexies ready for block placement

Once I liked the colour arrangement, I carefully pressed each hexagon in place.  If one wishes, they could hand-stitch the hexies together before placing on the block. However, I decided I'd try this one without doing that so if anyone couldn't do hand-stitching it would still look great.

When stitching down each hexagon, begin at a centre point where the hexagons touch, this helps keep the hexies from wanting to split apart. Usually when doing fused applique, the complete shape is adhered to the background fabric. However, with these shapes, the fused edge is used in the seam allowance.

My machine has two applique stitches. They are both similiar to what we call the blanket stitch. I have used a dark green thread to simplify the process of not having to change thread colours. And I do like the contract it makes.

Arranging the hexagons

Using an applique stitch around each hexie

 Finished Hexagon Block
Size: 12.5" square

If you wish to see how this is different from the original method, check out the free block of the month at Craftsy. You can still join, if you wish to try out new or different techniques this year and end up with a finished project before Christmas.

And check out this great site for printing hexagon sizes that was shared on the Craftsy chat. I love when websites give these out for free. The instant download sure is handy for saving time and getting that project started.

So... now I have one more hexagon block to create; however, that will have to wait as I need time to figure out how I will redesign it, as there is a challenge to make it our own. One that I must take up!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you see that--your own method to suit YOU--is always the best way!!