Tuesday Tips: Accuquilt Die Cutting

Tuesday Tips: Accuquilt Die Cutting

So I’ve been debating whether or not to buy one of the new fabric die cutters available out there…I wondered… Was it really worth the price? Would it really save me time?

After watching a b’zillion videos on the Accuquilt website, and an in-person demo at one of my fabulous local quilt stores, Mill House Quilts, I was “hooked”. It wasn’t the time saved or even the “rotary cutting wrist relief” that sold me on them… It was the consistent accuracy of the pieces the Accuquilt dies cut.

There are several sizes of Accuquilt Die Cutters (ranging in price) for me to chose from.  I felt a little like Goldi-locks–this one’s too big, this one’s too small, this one is just right!  I felt for me the Go!Baby was a bit too small. I wanted to use the larger strip cutting dies, and the Baby only accepts the small dies.  On the other end of the spectrum the Go!Big Electric was too much for my small sewing space.  It would be a great choice for people with hand issues that can’t handle the manual crank.  And the Studio (the top of the line and most expensive) was way over my needs, space, and budget.  So I settled on the Go!. It can handle the larger dies, but is light-weight and easy to fold up and put on the floor under my cutting table when not in use.  Very easy to bring up and use anytime.  Of course I waited until it was on sale, and it came with a “Value Die” (55018) a 6×12″ cutting mat, die pick, and pattern booklet.   I also bought the 1-1/2 inch strip cutter–thinking ahead to log cabins in my future (yes!).

I absolutely love it!

There’s one tip I learned along the way that I’d like to share with you about preparing the fabric.  I found it helpful.  I create a simple cardboard template for the die to help.  Here’s a sample of the one I made for my 2″ finished half square triangle die…

I’m in the process of making a baby quilt for a friend (soon-to-be grandma again) that has 4″ finished Signature Blocks.  To create the two corners of the block, I need 2″ finished half square triangles, and I happen to have this die (yay! It’s part of the “value die”).   To make the cardboard template, I measure and add about a quarter inch or so on each side all around that particular die and cut it out (with paper scissors).  Then whenever I use that die, I can use this template to help me visually prepare the fabric so it’s not too large or small and I can make the most of the fabric strip or scrap from my stash.

I can place it on my ruler when I’m cutting a strip to judge the correct width…

and then place the carboard template at the end of a strip and roll the fabric around it…

…until I’ve got 6 layers of fabric (the most my Go! will cut at one time)…then I cut off the excess fabric on the strip (if any)…

And give it a quick press with my iron…

**IMPORTANT**:  Don’t forget to slip the cardboard template OUT of the fabric before you take it to the die cutter! –you do NOT want to run the cardboard template through the die cutter with the cardboard inside!!

Place the fabric over the template, being sure it hangs over all the edges of the marked die, cover with the plastic cutting mat, and run it through your die cutter…

Here’s a quick video of the cutting process…(forgive my amateur video taking!)… it’s difficult trying to do this with only one hand!  LOL

It actually didn’t take long at all! From beginning to end I cut 24 perfect half square triangles in about 2 minutes.

The best part (and the real reason I was hooked on a die cutter) is the accuracy. Each triangle is perfectly cut.  And even better, all the “dog ears” are cut off…making piecing a breeze.

Between then and now (my birthday was in there and the family knows what I want–LOL), I’ve accumulated a few more dies.  I plan to make templates for all of them except the very large strip cutters.

That’s all for today… I hope this was helpful.  I’ll share the quilt I’m making with you next time.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my friends in the U.S.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

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How to Make Fold-Over Labels for Your Quilts or Other Sewing Projects

How to Make Fold-Over Labels for Your Quilts or Other Sewing Projects

Earlier I blogged about how to make a flat label to sew onto your quilts or other sewn items.  But today I wanted to make some folded labels to insert into the binding of my quilts for sale (see below).

QuiltLabel1I found a great tutorial by “Easy Sewing for Beginners” (HERE)  and I decided to use my Inkjet “TransferMagic” heat transfer paper.  (It has an Oops proof guarantee after all!).  Following the instructions, I created a document on MSWord, reversed the images/words, and printed it onto the heat transfer paper—being careful to put the paper into the printer the right way.

QuiltLabel2 I cut the labels out carefully and placed each face down onto two different surfaces—a wide twill tape and a 5/8” Offray ribbon–and pressed with a hot iron using the package instructions.

QuiltLabel3After they cooled, I peeled back the backing paper very slowly and carefully and it worked…

QuiltLabel4HOWEVER,  I didn’t like the shininess and the patchy look.

The tutorial mentioned using wax paper and a hot iron to “melt” the transfer into the ribbon to solve that problem. I tried it, being sure to cover the wax paper with parchment so it wouldn’t hurt my iron)…

and UGH, …this is what happened…see below.

QuiltLabel5Instead of melting it into the ribbon, it lifted up parts of the words and images.  It didn’t matter if I pulled back the wax paper before or after it cooled–it still happened.

I thought—maybe she meant “freezer paper” instead of wax paper.  …Nope—that didn’t work either.  The same thing happened.  Finally I tried parchment paper alone…same unfortunate result.

Her tutorial used a “glossy” transfer paper & mine wasn’t glossy.  I think that might be the reason…my heat transfer paper might not have been the same as hers.  But I’m not going out shopping today to spend time searching or spend more $$ to find out if another brand might work at this point.  

Without ironing the labels, they actually DO work, 

…but the shininess bothered me.  They just didn’t look as nice as I wanted.   And I wondered what might happen if they were exposed to heat later–for example, what if someone accidentally ironed them later? …and I wonder if any other heat source (like a hot dryer) might damage them?


So ON TO PLAN B!!!

Just as I did in my tutorial for making flat quilt labels, I prepared some tightly woven cotton fabric by ironing a sheet of freezer paper to the back and cutting it to 8-1/2 x 11 inches with my rotary cutter & ruler (see the tutorial here for more information).

I created a document on MSWord (just like before), but used the “insert line” feature to give me some nice dashed guidelines as cutting guides.  This time I did not need to reverse the images/words…

QuiltLabel6After printing them directly onto the prepared cotton fabric through my inkjet printer, I cut them out, giving myself about a 1/4 inch beyond the dashed guidelines on each side of the labels.

QuiltLabel7After peeling off the freezer paper backing, it was a snap to fold in the sides of each label along the dashed lines and iron them down.

QuiltLabel8I used matching thread and a straight stitch to top stitch along the side of each label.  Doing one after another (chain piecing) makes it go fast…

QuiltLabel9After a good press, and folding them in half…THEY’RE DONE!  AND LOOKING GREAT!

QuiltLabel11Now I really like these.  They’re not stiff, there’s no blotchy shine or patchiness, and they’re  heat set and should wear for a long time.

QuiltLabel1aI’ll keep them in a jar ready for me to sew into my future quilts…like this one.

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UPDATE:  I was curious how well these labels would wear after washing, so I attached 2 of them to a small improvised scrap quilt/binding & ran it (with my wash) through 2 machine washing & drying cycles and this is the result (see below)…


The label on the left is brand new…the 2 labels on the right were run through the regular washer/dryer cycle with regular detergent twice.  Not bad! 


And here (afew weeks later) are the three labels side-by-side after the third (on the right) was machine washed & dryed 5 times.  Not bad at all!

I hope this tutorial was helpful, and that it’s given you a few good ideas.  Give it a try and make some labels for your quilts.  
Whether you sell your quilts, give them to those you love, or keep them for yourself, it’s always important to label your work.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Art Quilt with Ties

A dear friend lost her husband to cancer this past year.  When she approached me to make a memorial art quilt out of his ties for her mother-in-law, I didn’t have to think twice about it, since it had already been on my mind.

But I’d never worked with ties before as material for an art quilt—could I be successful?  How hard is it to take a tie apart?  How strong is the material?  Should I use a stabilizer? These are all questions I pondered while going through the huge box of ties that she provided.  I’d love to share with you what I discovered.

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First of all, it’s SO EASY to take a tie apart.  There’s one strong thread that holds the seam down the back of the tie.  Once you locate this thread, make one cut, and give it a good tug from the opposite end, and it’s done!  Take out the lining and you’ll still need to deal with both ends.  I chose to cut them off, but a little seam ripping would also work.

I had an idea in my head about what I wanted to do…a small landscape art quilt based loosely on a pattern I’d used earlier (see post HERE).  So my first task was to see what I had to work with.  I pulled all the ties that had the colors and textures that might work, and lined them up on my design wall (there were a lot more that didn’t make the cut and were left in the box for later).

What amazed and surprised me was the texture and beauty of the tie fabric once it was washed, ironed, and ready for use.  Some were very light weight and needed stability (I ironed on a light weight fusible woven interfacing to those).  Others were a heavier weight and I used them as they were.  I also found out that the reverse side is sometimes even more interesting than the “right” side.  I used both to get the shading I needed.

I knew I needed to wash all the ties—but when: before or after deconstruction?  I experimented, putting about a dozen ties in a zippered netted bag (the kind used for dedicates) and tried washing some before and some after deconstruction.  Both came out tangled, and both worked, but washing before deconstructing really helped keep the mess and tangles to a minimum and made it much easier to pull apart and iron. Once that was done, and the ties were all deconstructed and ironed, I started pulling out ties for the birds.

Here I’ve cut the pieces for the bird applique (using Steam-a-seam 2) and will fuse it together.

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I was surprised by the texture of the beautiful silks used in the ties.  I even used the linings for solid black and white on the bird’s head.  So the entire center of the art quilt was made exclusively with the tie materials.

Here you can see the chickadees fused and ready to be placed on the background.  I’m starting to choose the ties by color and texture that will work for the sky, mountains, and foreground.

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There were some limitations in the color selection, so I got creative and used both sides of the ties and added yellows and gold.

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Most of the tie material is not backed with interfacing, or Steam-a-Seam 2—they’re simply laid onto a fusible pellon fleece batting with the fusible side facing up.  However, the log cabin was prefused together the same way as the chickadees.  Notice the smoke coming up from the chimney of the log cabin—it’s that tie interfacing.  It was shear and luminescent and made the perfect smoke.

Here (below) it’s starting to take shape. I tried to get contrast between the sky, mountains, and foreground scenery.

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When the branches, leaves, and pre-fused chickadees were added, it really started to look complete.  Notice I placed a piece of parchment paper under the leaf in the lower left hand corner so it wouldn’t fuse down and I could choose to fuse it on top of the border after the border was added.  The backing and batting are about 3-4 inches larger on all sizes to make it easier to add a border if I chose to.

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I thought it did need a border, so I added a narrow inner border using black cotton fabric (the only part of the quilt that wasn’t tie material), and pieced a border of tie material for the outer border.

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Then I quilted everything using several colors of veriagated cotton threads.  I used a bit of gold thread on the sky for sparkle.

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And here it is—finished and ready to present to my friend to give to her mother-in-law in remembrance of her son…

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After I finished, I really felt my friend needed a remembrance art quilt she could keep too, so I created a second art quilt just for her… actually, she can choose which one to keep and which one to give.  It’s based on the same idea, with the same Chickadees, but has a pieced background over Lake Mendota with the sun.

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And couldn’t forget her two wonderful children…  I thought they might like a Christmas stocking to remember their dad each year.  I couldn’t find enough “Christmas-like” ties to choose from so I used a red cotton fabric for the cuffs, backing, and lining and did a crazy-quilt patch design on the front, using tie material backed with fusible stabilizer.

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I really enjoyed working with ties.  It was a new experience, and I may get out the box of my father’s ties that I’ve been saving to do something similar.

Whether you have saved a loved ones ties, or decide to go to a thrift store, I encourage you to give it a try.  I found the tie material is so beautiful, the silks give your project a wonderful sheen, and there are so many patterns, textures, and colors to choose from. Why not give it a try?

Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING!!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

DIY Four Circle Table Topper with Bernina Circular Embroidery Attachment

DIY Four Circle Table Topper with Bernina Circular Embroidery Attachment

I’ve been eyeing a special attachment for my Bernina sewing machine for quite some time.  I was at Mill House Quilts in Waunakee this past week, where they have all the newest Bernina sewing machines along with a great assortment of attachments and feet.  Then I saw it, they had it in stock!, so I finally decided to buy it — the Circular Embroidery Attachment.  (cue the trumpets) Ta da!

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I have lots of ideas of how I  want to use the attachment (none of which included embroidery–hehe), so I got online to find a few YouTube videos to visually see how to attach it to my machine and how they used it.  Here are some great links if you’re interested:

The attachment comes with 2 screws and a nifty small screwdriver, and attaches to the bed of my machine with one screw in the hole on the right of my pressure foot.  One video suggested taping the other end near the pin to be sure it doesn’t wiggle (which I did—see blue painter’s tape in the second photo below).

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There’s a sharp pin under that plastic nob on the left of the tape (see above).  You carefully take off that plastic bit and poke the center of your fabric through the sharp pin and replace the plastic bit, and that’s all there is to it.  You place the fabric under the pressure foot and “step on the gas” and it glides around in a circular pattern all on its own with little help from you.  You do need to stabilize the fabric so it doesn’t wrinkle and bunch up, but if you’re doing the project I’m doing, it’s not necessary.  The directions recommend using a open embroidery type foot, but since I’ll be sewing through a few layers with batting I’m using my walking foot.

The pin is on a sliding mechanism so that you can adjust the size of the circle you want to sew.  The distance between the pin and your needle x 2 = the size of the diameter of the circle.  So for this particular project, I measured and slid the pin at a distance from the needle so the circles would measure around 8-1/2 to 9 inches.

So here’s my first project using the Circular Embroidery Attachment – A Four Circle Table Topper.

I went through my stash of unused layer cake squares and chose 8 coordinating fabrics (4 peach/pink and 4 mint green), and cut 4 squares of batting to match.

Then I layered them starting with the batting on the bottom, mint fabric face up, then peach/pink fabric face down (so the 2 fabrics are right sides together).

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Line them all up and use your ruler to find the center and mark a dot lightly with a water soluble marker (or other washable mark).  Then take it all over to your sewing machine and put the pin of the circular embroidery attachment through all the layers at that center mark and feed the right end (edge) of the fabric under the pressure foot.

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It’s so easy!  It walks (sews) itself around in a perfect circle and comes back to exactly where it was started.  LOVE IT!

Here’s my short (very short) YouTube video showing how it works on my machine…(my very first one)…

After trimming around the edges with a pinking shears (or pinking rotary cutter if you have one), you cut a small slit along an edge being sure to only cut the top fabric.  Be sure the cut slit is in a spot where the fabric will eventually be folded over (so the it will be hidden).  Then turn the circle inside-out, using a blunt ended tool (like a bamboo paper folder, purple-thang, or bamboo skewer) to be sure all the edges are nice and crisp, and press.  OH, you might want to use a tiny bit of water to get rid of the water soluble mark you made in the center…you don’t want to permanently heat set it into the fabric with your iron.

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Use a ruler and a water soluble marker or chalk, draw a square box within the finished circle (being sure that the cut slit falls beyond the square in the outer edge (see top of the photo below).  Each of the corners of the square should just touch the edge of the circle.  I was lucky enough that my square ruler was a perfect fit.

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After making four of these, place them on a flat surface and see what arrangement you like best, turning up two edges on each one to expose the fabric underneath… it’s important that the “flap” that has the cut (used to turn them right side out) is in one of the seams so it’s covered.  Then it’s similar to sewing a 4 patch together—Take the 2 upper circles and match them BACK to BACK using the drawn lines as a sewing guide, pin,  and sew them together edge to edge, do the same with the lower 2.  Then sew the top 2 with the bottom 2 and it will look something like this..

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Iron the flaps down and use your favorite decorative stitch around each edge of the flaps (petals) to finish.

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I chose a blanket stitch in green variegated thread, but you could opt to use a straight stitch, any decorative stitch, or just tack the flaps at each center point.  You could even hand sew them down if you wanted to.  You need to at least tack them down (or sew them) to be sure that the cut you made to turn the circles inside out is completely covered.

And here it is, all finished

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What’s nice about this pattern is the quilting is done as you go, and the back is as interesting as the front…

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So it’s completely reversible.

And no worries if you don’t have the attachment…you can create these table toppers by tracing a circle (using a platter or template) onto the fabric and carefully sewing on the line.  That will work, but I’ve found this is a time saver, I can make any size circle,  and just looks a bit better too.

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I think they make a wonderful gift—Mother’s Day is coming up.

So I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and that you’ll try making a reversible 4-circle table topper.  I have them for sale in my Mulberry Patch Quilts Etsy Shop if you’d like to purchase one instead, along with lots of other ideas for Mother’s Day.

I’ll be posting other ideas for using my Bernina Circular Embroidery Attachment in the future…hope you’ll come back again! And be sure to post a comment below on how you use your circular attachment—any tips or ideas?

Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Quiltsy Team Charity a Day for National Quilt Month

Quiltsy Team Charity a Day for National Quilt Month

March is National Quilt month!
My Quiltsy Team (a group of quilting artists who sell their work on the Etsy.com website) is celebrating by featuring a different member each day and the charities they support.  So today I’d like to share photos of donations I’ve just finished up to give to Mikayla’s Grace.

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Mikayla’s Grace is a local charity in my area that supports families with a baby in the NICU (neonatal ICU) and those who experience the death of an infant at hospitals throughout Wisconsin by providing NICU care packages that offer both practical and emotional support for parents.  They also reach out to comfort women who experience miscarriages.

I’ve knitted quite a few preemie hats throughout this past year, but when a call came out for special small items, it was an opportunity for me to try a new technique…combining quilting with crochet!  I’ve seen quilts that were made up of squares with crocheted edgings and then put together like a granny square afghan.

So, starting with small squares of cotton and soft flannel, I made little tiny quilts by sewing them right sides together,

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with a quarter inch seam (leaving an opening to turn)

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And then turning the right side out and top stitching around the edges.

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I found yarn was too thick, but white pearl cotton was just the right size, to do a blanket stitch around the perimeter of the square.

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That gave me something to anchor my crochet edge stitching to.  And then it was a matter of crocheting whatever edge stitch I desired around the entire square for several rows.

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Here’s a few simple edgings done in green baby yarn (top) and blue cotton yarn (bottom). I liked using the soft baby (or sports weight) yarn the best.

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And here’s a few more in coral and mint green.  You can see I tried to use the yarn to do the blanket stitch (one on the right), and although I like the look of it better I found it very difficult to thread and poke through the edging, so I went back to using the pearl cotton.

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By folding, they make the cutest little wraps—you can see how small they are next to my hand…

Next I decided to make some little quilts for preemies out of some beautiful cotton fabrics and soft flannel.

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Squares put together and backed with soft flannel.

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Aren’t the chicks cute?  I love the bright, cheerful colors.  And here are a few more pieced in strips across the quilt with soft minky fabric on the back.

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Last but not least, I added a couple of tiny knit afghans that I made out of soft yellow baby yarn with a blue crochet edging.  Can you see the “heart” created by the pattern? So fun.

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I hope these small gifts bring love and comfort to the families they go to!

I’m so blessed to be a part of such  great Etsy Team.  Each member is not only creative, but so caring and generous.  Just this past month when one of our members found out about a need for quilts for victims of fires in Tennessee, our Quiltsy Team immediately went to work and made 67 quilts to donate to them–yup SIXTY SEVEN!!  An amazing group that I am so thankful for.

Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Quilting Up My Scraps

Quilting Up My Scraps

Do you, like me, have tons of scrap fabric you’ve been saving to use…someday?  I’m embarrassed (or proud?) to tell you that my stash of scraps takes up two bookshelves in my sewing studio.  They’re nicely sorted by color, and look very pretty, but one of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to start using up my scraps.  Not that I won’t create more scraps that’ll grow yet again—but I need to use them up before they take over my studio!

I was watching a TV program on Sewing with Nancy—click here to view the episode  on PBS with Nancy Zieman that featured a guest speaker with great ideas for using up those scraps.  Lynn Harris has written a quilt book entitled, “Every Last Piece” (see Amazon here).   She suggests cutting your scraps into strips of various widths and sewing them together, and cutting them to size with a standard 6-1/2 inch square ruler.  These squares can be used in any traditional quilt pattern out there.  Genius!  I was completely enamored with the first quilt she showed on the program—The Garden Window Quilt.  But there were so many more possibilities!

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These are the smallest of the scraps I keep—they’re not even big enough to be sorted in my bins by color.

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They are spewing out of washed salad tubs where I store all the “orphan” bits and bobs.

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I spent an afternoon with my music blaring cutting all those scraps (every last piece) into various sizes—5 inch & 2-1/2 inch squares, & long 2-1/2 inch strips.  These were put away for another day.  But anything smaller was cut into strips of different widths (all under 2-1/2″) and at least 6-1/2″ long.

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Once sorted, I had four piles—a selection of Black & Whites, a pile of Christmas fabrics, a pile of baby/kid’s prints, and a pile of great “earthy” traditional/county colors.

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After sewing enough strips together, I cut them to a perfect 6-1/2” square with my rotary cutter and ruler.  Easy-peasy!

I found that I had quite a lot of back and white fabrics—stripes, polka dots, herringbone… so decided my first quilt would be black and white…

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Then I found it … some fabric panels in my stash that  I had purchased a long time ago (note big monitor & 3-1/2” drives).  I LOVED this panel, but I never found the right quilt pattern.  It features a black cat getting into “trouble”, as cats often do.  Sitting on the warm monitor, …

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or playing (and getting tangled) in the yarn.  I just HAD to use it.  It’s called “Kats by Kelly’” for Timeless Treasures (I found the title in the selvage, which I added to a block).

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The scrap blocks were arranged to surround each of the cut panels (which magically cut to the perfect 6-1/2” size! …It was meant to be!).

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Kitty in the yarn again!

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Here I’m auditioning different fabrics for an inner border & outer border — too much!

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Not bad…but I don’t have enough (and it’s still a bit loud).

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This is more like it…but not quite.

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In the end I went with a narrow black inner border and some cute (lighter) fabric for the larger border, which I’m using for the backing as well.

All that’s left is quilting & binding.

Three more scrappy quilts to go:  1) Christmas; 2) Baby/kids; & 3) traditional/country fabrics.

So what do you think?  Isn’t it a great way to use up scraps?  I’ll share a pic of the finished quilt with you in a week or so.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Chickadee Mountain View Art Quilt

Chickadee Mountain View Art Quilt

I’ve been wanting to create a second art quilt using a pattern by McKenna Ryan as the inspiration.  It’s a peaceful mountain scene featuring a branch in the foreground with Chickadees.

The challenge for me was to try to find just the right fabrics for each portion of the scene by auditioning them one by one.  I wanted choose the best fabric to give  the contrast needed in the composition.

I started by creating the background, including the borders (so that the branch could be appliqued to extend into the borders.

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Then I draw each part of the landscape onto a sheet of Seam-a-Steam 2 Lite.  (I’m so glad this product is back on the market again.)  I love it because it a double-faced fusible that has paper on both sides.  You peel one side off, and it’s “sticky” so it clings to the fabric you want to use, but it repositionable.  Then you fuse it with the iron, and wait for it to cool down before cutting and peeling off the second paper to fuse it to the background.

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I started with the background and then cut and fused the individual items to it, starting with those furthest back and ending with those closest to the foreground.

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I “auditioned” several fabrics before deciding on which ones to use, and which ones didn’t work.

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The log cabin and trees were fun to pull together.  For the chickadees, I created each bird separately and fused the pieced together as one and then set and fused them to the branches.

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Here’s the chickadee & log cabin after they’ve been quilted with a bit of thread painting.

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After everything was fused down, I quilted and thread painted with different colors of thread.  My favorites are Aurofil and Sulky Blendables.

Here’s the result after quilting and binding.

 

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I immediately put it for sale in my Etsy shop, and it’s been sold and is on it’s way to it’s new home in Toronto, Ontario.

Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts