Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crème Glacée

The one and only, Madame Samm, designed this oh-so-me blog.  She designed it, she organized it and then she spent the time to teach me how to use it.  I just love what she came up with and I'm mystified that she saw me so clearly!

In return she asked for ice cream.

I don't blog so good yet, but I definitely can do ice cream!

Originally I designed this cone pattern for a table mat for my daughter for her birthday and it eventually evolved into this end result.

I don't really enjoy mass production or even duplication when a creation is intended for a specific reason.  So, I really needed Samm's ice cream to be different.  Immediately I was in a rough patch to come up with a different design.  It didn't really work, I still only liked the same color cones, hard as I tried to change them, and I still only liked the same center arrangement.

Then I got stuck again for a border.  This I had to muse on for a couple of weeks before I finally thought about my recent thin paper pieced stripe design.  I think it will work...

I moved on to the quilting letting the cones dictate where the quilting went.

I'm pretty pleased with this new Crème Glacée table mat.  French is Samm's first language so I thought a french title was fitting for her.  Not to mention that the words ice cream in french just look as delicious as the cones don't you agree?

When I added the little cone dot just inside the binding, I didn't cut the fabric thinking about where the dots would fall.  They show only in sections...I immediately thought I have to take those off and fussy cut the dotted strips...then I took another look...I think it adds visual interest the way it is.  so, it stays put.

Gosh darn it!  Another little quiltie that was so hard to let drop into that big blue postal box.  I hope you like it too Samm.

Enjoy a lovely end of summer ice cream social!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's time to sew for Halloween!

How frightfully fun is that?!

It's the time of year where we can just let our imagination and creativity run wild with some fun creations.  Some come out seriously beautiful and others come out quirky and whimsical and sometimes just plain silly.

Back in the day...I didn't much use my imagination.  I looked for books and patterns to use.  And I pretty much had to like the whole thing at the prices of patterns and books.  Now I use at least some imagination...for instance, this spooky pumpkin patch comes from several sources.  The woven background is from a book, the pumpkin is from an applique pattern, the twisted pumpkin vine and quilt label came from my imagination, the crows came from a rubber stamp.

So I'm looking at books and patterns completely different now than I did "back in the day".  I see bits and pieces of ideas rather than the whole of what is presented.  And, as you can see, those bits and pieces come from everywhere!

It's Halloween Mug Rug Swap time on Flickr!
My favorite swap time.

We are assigned secret partners who give us an indication of what types of things they like and dislike and we then create from there.  I've been pretty lucky with partners for one of the rules is that the mug rug has to be fashioned to their likes.  This is the one rule that I don't get along very well with because if I want to receive in a swap something that I'd make for myself, well then, why don't I just make it myself?  In a swap I want to receive something that my partner wants to make and I want it to tell me something about that person and their creative soul.  (Well don't I just feel better about airing that in public)  In any case, we then get to post sneak peeks as we create...

Carol says "no sneak peeks!" that that's just for the doll quilt swap.  Ok, so maybe we could call them progress peeks.  Either way, if you go check out the Scrappy Mug Rug Swap you'll see that Carol has been out-voted in favor of sneak peeks.  Sorry Carol.  They're just too fun not to do them.  My partner's mug rug is finished now and waiting to be mailed.

We can include bits of goodies if we so candy, fabric pieces, stickers, whatever we find that we might like to send.  Only the mug rug is mandatory but extra little goodies are just fun to include.  It seems to have become my signature thing to include a fabric postcard.  And...

It's Halloween fabric postcard swap time on Flickr too!

Check out this Fabric Postcard Swap.  Although it's too late to join in for Halloween and Fall, you could be getting ready for Christmas...I would think there will be another round for the holidays.   

So I have two postcards ready to send.  I can't say who gets which yet.  And, I just might make one or two more before it's time to send them...just to keep my partner wondering what she'll get...since the postcard swap is not a secret partner swap at this point.

For myself, I'm enjoying my Halloween quilt that I made last year.

Those gorgeous pumpkins were made for me by a wonderful friend.

Have a frightfully good fun time preparing for the onslaught of ghouls that are sure to come soon!


Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm back from my little run-about...

...and busy trying to catch up with all of you and what you've been up to while I was playing biker chic.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Off For 3 Days of Irresponsible Fun!

Street Vibrations
Reno, Nevada

I have a list of quilt shops in and near Reno!  Now how to get my ride to take me to one or two of them...

Have a great weekend everyone!  See you on the flip side.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fabric Postcard and Binding Tutorial

This tutorial has been updated and can be found here:

I've had several requests to explain how I bind my fabric postcards.  So I'm finally getting around to posting a tutorial of my process.

You really aren't going to believe how simple this is!

But first, you need your postcard front design, a layer of stiff sew-in Peltex, a light to medium weight regular fusible interfacing and a backing to write your message on.

Step 1:  Create your postcard front design  This ice cream cone is paper pieced.  When I raw edge applique a design, I use Wonder Under for fusing the pieces together.  Lay your design on the Peltex.  Pressing them together helps keep the layers together while you top stitch on your design through the Peltex.

Now do ALL your stitching before you add the backing.

I use a paper backing because I really do mail my postcards and I like that it's easier to write on paper.  I also like the security of knowing the stamp will remain on the postcard.  However, you certainly can use fabric as your backing.
I use Post Card rubber stamps on my backings.  You can  also just use a marker and write "Post Card" or print the words on your printer. The backing can even be left blank. It's totally a personal preference.  Then I fuse the wrong side of the paper with a piece of interfacing.  This insures that your paper backing will not fall off after satin stitching the binding.  (The sewing perforates the paper)

Now lightly glue stick around the outside edges of your backing just enough to stick it to your completed card top., wrong sides together.  Edge stitch close to the edge just to keep the layers together while you add the binding.  (You don’t see that in the photo because I didn’t use to do that.  But have since learned it is very helpful to keep your design from bubbling while gluing the binding on.)

Choose your binding fabric and cut a 3/4" strip long enough for all four sides of your card.  Press this strip in half lengthwise.

 I usually cut the short lengths first, then the longer lengths after the short lengths are attached.

With a glue stick, run glue along the edge of the paper side or back side of the card.  Be careful not to get the glue out farther than the binding will cover.  It's just to hold the binding in place until it is sewn down.

Place the glued paper side down on one half of the binding.  Repeat for the other short side.

On the front of your card, run glue along the edge being careful not to extend the glue farther than the binding will cover.  Fold over the binding to the front and press it into the glue.

Cut binding lengths for the long edges and repeat the glue process first gluing to the back and then to the front.

When all the edges have binding glued on, just run the iron over both sides lightly to melt any little glue globs that might have happened.  I know you're thinking this is going to gum up your needle...nope!...your needle will not have a clue that it was anywhere near glue.

Now we're ready to stitch that binding down permanent.  With a straight stitch, back tack to just off the edge.  Then stitch forward just to the inside edge of the binding. 


Change your stitch to a zigzag.  You'll have to find the best satin stitch length for your machine.  I set my machine for a width of 3 and just a smidge longer than my preset satin stitch.

This now is the reason to fuse interfacing to the back of the paper backing.  The satin stitch will perforate the paper.  The interfacing assures you that your backing will still remain connected to the card.

Satin stitch all the way across to where the binding meets again.  Straight stitch to the edge, back tack to the satin stitch, turn your card, repeating the stitching for the first three sides.

When I get to the last edge, I pull my starting thread tails across the binding so that they will get stitched into the satin stitching.

When I get to the end, I sew several tiny straight stitches along the inside of the satin stitching to finish the sewing.

Keep the raw edges at the corners from fraying by adding a tiny bit of fray check along the edge.  Not too much, mind you.

If the satin stitched binding edges leave little frays sticking out, trim them close.

WhaLa...all done!

You can view all my fabric postcards displayed as a set in my Flickr photostream here 

Lots of people like to just satin stitch the raw edges of their layers together.  I like the way the binding and contrasting satin stitch frame the little art work within.  I'll be happy to answer any questions you may still have.

Good mail day to you,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Dressmaker Collage is Framed!

I am so pleased with how the entire final project turned out.
My Dad does nice woodworking don't you think?

My creative process is rather unorthodox.  At least I've never read or heard of anyone else that goes through my same process.  I  hardly ever have a finished product in mind.  My process goes like this:

I see an object that I want to put into fabric.  In this case it's a dressmaker form...and I want it to be paper pieced.  So I trace a form shape I like, then change it into a paper piecing pattern, then give it a test run with fabric and sewing machine.

Ah, I like how it turned out! Ok, so that's the end of the plan.  It gets laid aside with other project beginnings and I wait until it speaks to me or until I get inspired in some other way of what I'd like to do with it.  

In this case, I was looking through some ephemera and collage downloads I have purchased and came across the assorted measuring tapes and the sheet of advertisements.  I thought somehow I could work them into whatever it was going to be with the dressmakers form.  I printed them to fabric, cut some out, and started arranging them around the dress form. 

Then I started thinking about all the sewing notions I'm surrounded with that go back as far as my grandmother.  Now we're talking antiques!  And since everything else began looking aged, a collage of antique sewing emerged into this piece that was so fun to create.

I knew right away that I wanted to frame it.  My 84 year old father likes to dabble with wood.  I gave him the inside opening measurement, said not too ornate or busy design-wise because the collage was already very busy.  This is what he came up with and I think it works perfectly!

Crazy process, eh?  But it works for me and always has.  Lots of flickr contacts said to frame it in an antique frame.   But, Dad's frame means so much more to me...especially with the other small connections to my mother and grandmother within the collage.

Thanks so much for spending some of your day with me today!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paper Piecing Tutorial

Like so many others, I feel that I have discovered several steps to "easier" paper piecing that I simply must share. I'm much better at teaching in person, so bear with me on this... Are you ready? Would you like to make this?

I first discovered paper piecing as a sure way to sew perfect quilt squares with perfect points because I did not at all like the idea of cutting all those little pieces and stitching them together just so and perfectly...I knew that wasn't going to happen. Being inflicted with the "perfectionist" illness without the patience for it, traditional quilt blocks were not going to be in my future. But I also was drawn to how many perfect little cutsie designs could be created with paper piecing. I can applique endlessly, but having the designs with stitched-in seams was very enticing for me. After laying out a small fortune for books and patterns, I was initially disappointed that nothing was coming out perfect! AND, I was spending way too much time with my seam ripper and getting such poor results. However, as usual, persistence pays off and I discovered little secrets and tips that have made paper piecing easier and quite enjoyable. So much so that I've even taught myself to make some of my own patterns. So, without further ado, let's stitch up my ice cream cone pattern.

First, get your pattern on paper that you will stitch on. You don't need fancy paper...I use regular 20# copy paper. This pattern is in 4 sections and you may be thinking that it's too complicated for a beginner...NOT!...with my tips for you, there is no such thing as a complicated paper piecing pattern. (At least that's how I feel about it now.) Cut the sections apart...don't be precise, just cut outside the seam allowance line.
Gather your fabrics. These can be from your scrap bin or you can make new scraps. I use both, depending on whether I have scraps for my plan or not. This particular pattern needs more background fabric than ice cream fabric so I just have chunks that are large enough for each scoop. But for the background fabric that will require several sections within each section, refer to the next photo.

Take note of which background section is the largest and about what size it is at it's widest part. Then add maybe a 1/2" to that measurement and slice a strip off your yardage to use for all your background pieces. Again, no need to be'll have the whole lenghth to work with if the short end is not wide enough.  Now you're ready to start stitching. Set your machine stitch length for a shorter than usual length. I normally stitch at 2-1/2 so I stitch paper piecing at just under 2.

It doesn't matter which section you start with. It only matters that you sew in numerical order with each section. (Even this rule can have exceptions, but for learning purposes, let's stick with the numerical order rule.) Take your cone fabric, lay it wrong side to the plain side of the paper being sure it covers past the cone lines. This is the only time you will want to hold this up to the light to be sure it covers. And you don't need to give a hoot about straight of that! Next...

...and here's where life gets really easy...(and every section you sew here after will be done this same way)...hold your pattern facing you with the next number section above the previous number section that you placed or just sewed. With your thumbs, mark each end of the sewing line. Fold it forward enough to see that you will place it on the right side of the background fabric strip with enough for a seam allowance showing and that there is still background fabric going past each of your thumbs. You need at least an 1/8" of seam allowance. Everything after that will get cut off. I usually allow about 1/4". Bring everything to your machine (the photo just shows the seam allowance you will have after sewing.) Keeping your pattern and two pieces of fabric in that position lying flat to stitch on the paper pattern line.

Now, some patterns end up with a pile of seams all in one place...such as a pinwheel...and you will want to press your seams open rather than to one side. If you want to press them open, you cannot sew all the way across the seam allowance. I always make only one stitch in the seam allowance (this also helps for trimming 1/8" seam allowances which in turn keeps fabric bulk at a minimum. Stitch on the line and at the end, sew only one stitch into the seam allowance. Now for trimming...

Flip the sewn section over to the fabric side and trim "all" the fabrics in that seam allowance to 1/8". (Trim them all together, not one at a time) DO NOT CUT THE PAPER! Now here is where I can't believe I didn't take a pressing photo...but open your newly sewn piece and press it back over it's seam allowance. It is said that you only need to finger press, but that isn't pressed enough for me. I use an "iron on a stick" (Clover mini iron) or my regular iron. Then from your pattern side, chop away the excess fabric outside the seam allowance.

Now find your next number, hold the pattern so that number is at the top and repeat the above steps until there is fabric behind every number.

Now getting the sections ready to be joined...

When you photo copy a pattern, there is every possibility that it won't be the "exact" size as the original. So even though I draw a 1/4" seam allowance around my pattern, I still cut that 1/4" allowance by the measurement of my usually cuts just outside my drawn line. Now we're ready to join the sections...but first, a few helpful extra tips to get you through the paper piecing process even easier...

Many times a necessary section will only be sewn in by a couple of stitches. After stitching be sure to hold the stitches in place as you pull the stitching away from the presser foot to cut your thread...otherwise you'll just pull them right out.

Don't worry about how much fabric you have in your seam allowance when your sew a piece in because you will trim away all but an 1/8" anyway. These chunks you cut off can be used for small sections as you go along.

You can see in my example that my top scoop fabric is way more than I needed. I actually changed the direction I was going to use it in, but as long as you end up with your fabric pieces extended past the sewing lines, too big is not a concern...too small is a major concern. You can hold your work up to the light to check it if you need to.

And this next one is important because a mistake will no doubt happen at some time...

Remove your stitches carefully, I would suggest one at a time so as not to disturb the paper. 20# copy paper is pretty tough, but if you use something lighter, be careful not to tear it...too much. When you resew the line, stitch in the same exact holes...and I say this, because if you still don't sew it correctly...because I probably got distracted :-)...and you need to take the stitches out again, your paper pattern will remain intact.

Now we're ready to connect our sections...

I join these sections from the bottom up but it doesn't really matter which order you do them.

The seam joining the cone and the first yummy scoop is a straight seam, so you just line them up and stitch all the way across. Be sure you've sewn the right seams together...then before pressing them, I remove the paper in the seam allowance. Fold it over, then tear it away. You can now either press the seam to one side or press it open.

Now for the angled seams. These are the ones that really got to me and made me cringe when I saw a pattern in sections. I could never get them right until I finally figured out how to easily...

Lay the sections together the way they go. Push a pin through the corresponding seam line corners of both pieces being sure the pin comes through both corner points. Hold the piece so the pin is straight across...this will keep your two sections exactly as they need to be. I wouldn't pin the sections together because once you angle the pin, the sections will slip slightly apart. If you're trying to match points, you won't be happy about that! Get the piece into sewing position before removing the pin at the end. It really isn't difficult, just be sure it stays where you want it when you begin to sew. You can even touch the seam allowance lightly with a glue stick for an assisted temporary hold. If your design requires matching a section in the center of the piece, poke your pins through those matching spots rather than at the ends. Stitch, check your match, tear the paper from the seam as you did previously and press.

Sometimes with angled seams (and in the center of pinwheels) you'll end up with too much seam bulk. By not stitching all the way through your seam allowances (as previously mentioned) you can press part of the seam open and the rest can be pressed to one side. When seams overlap, you can press the bulky sections up and down as shown below.

Now let's tear away the rest of the paper...

Work from the outside to the inside. Fold the paper up on the stitched line then tear away. The inside pieces tear away easier. I like to use tweezers with teeth to grab small pieces. It doesn't really matter if every tiny bit of paper is removed.

My ice cream cone pattern can be found here.  UPDATE: This link no longer works. If you provide me with your mailing info, I will mail a copy of the pattern to you. 

To finish off the top and bottom, I've sewn on a sash piece.

Your paper piecing patterns can be done in any size you want them just by reducing and enlarging the pattern.  The lime sherbet cone is at 50% the size of the original. Just remember when you reduce and enlarge that included 1/4" seam allowances will not be at 1/4" anymore.

I more enjoy the smaller paper piecing projects than the full size quilt sizes, but any size can be sewn in the manner as I've shown above. If I've left you still feeling you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Following are some of my paper piecing projects.

Make Mine A Triple Scoop, please

Nosey Parker

This Bird is Paper Pieced

Selvages Spool

Wonky Christmas Tree

Butterfly Potholder


Dressmaker Collage

I love it when I learn something new, so I hope I've been able to make paper piecing just a little easier for those that have been frustrated by it in the past. 
Happy Paper Piecing!