Mad City Mini Mosaic Quilt For the Project Quilting Challenge: Hometown Proud

Mad City Mini Mosaic Quilt For the Project Quilting Challenge: Hometown Proud

It’s the middle of winter up here in Wisconsin, and cabin fever makes us do some wacky things. Waaaay back in the freezing February of 1979, the victorious Pail & Shovel party leaders fulfilled their student campaign promise to bring wackiness back to the UW-Madison campus. They built the head, crown, and torch of Lady Liberty and assembled it on top of the frozen ice on Lake Mendota. What a site! It created the illusion that the Statue of Liberty was rising out of (or sinking into) our frozen lake. It was a pretty amazing.

Since then, our Lady Liberty has suffered a fire, vandalism, and the effects of aging, only showing up (with a lot of reconstruction) a few winters over the years. So to get a glimpse of her on the frozen lake is pretty awesome. And really lifts your spirits in the dreaded cold post-holiday winter up here.

I think it was around February 2009, when the Hoofers (a UW student organization) took on the task of re-assembling it, that our Lady Liberty gloriously appeared again, not far from where I worked on the UW campus. So, during one of our lunch breaks on a beautiful cold but sunny day, , my co-worker and I just had to hike down to the lake, walk out onto the ice, and see it up close. Awesome!

Day One: When I heard this week’s Project Quilting challenge was “Hometown Proud”, I knew just what I was going to create! I brought up my Google file of photos of that day and found one to use as my inspiration!

Nothing says “Mad-Town Madison” and hometown pride better (except maybe the 1,000 pink flamingos on Bascom Hill in the springtime…LOL!)

I’ve been experimenting with a fabric mosaic technique (see my earlier blog post), so got out my stash of batiks in as many shades of blues and grays that I could find, and cut them up into 3/8th inch squares to fill in my sketch of our Lady Liberty.

To add a bit more realism to the scene, I cut silhouettes of a photographer and friend out of the darkest blue batik I could find, and decided to create the crown of the statue with fabrics cut to shape too, rather than using just squares.

Day Two: in the photos above all the bits of fabric have been fused down onto a white background (note the parchment paper to save my iron from a sticky mess). Then I added a layer of tulle over the top of all the fabric pieces to help keep them in place while machine quilting.

Next up…layering it on top of the batting & backing, and adding a border or two. I think I may get this project done in time to link it up for the contest! Yay!

Day Three: It took a lot of fabric auditioning time to find the right borders from my fabric stash, but I finally found something I liked.

Next came machine quilting. I wanted to emphasize the tiles by quilting between them, but also quilt in the sculpted face of the statue with grey thread.

In the photo above I’m going back and forth over the facial features with grey thread and free motion quilting,

Day Four: After adding the binding and hanging corners and hand sewing the binding to the back, I felt it still needed a bit more definition between the statue and the background.  So I went over some of the stitches with black thread, giving it a bit more depth…

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I think the black really made the statute’s features show up from a distance…

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And the black helped define the statue against the ice and sky backgrounds…

Here’s some photos of the finished fabric mosaic…

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A closeup of the “ice”

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And last but not least, the photo I’m going to uplink to the First Challenge of the Project Quilting Season 9…

MadCity Lady Liberty Lake Mendota

MadCity Lady Liberty Lake Mendota

Voting begins Sunday, January 15th after noon.  I hope you’ll stop by and vote for your favorites (of course, I’m hoping one of your favorites will be mine).  🙂

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

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Making a Mosaic With Fabric

Making a Mosaic With Fabric

I was looking through my Quilting Arts magazines and found an article by Cheryl Lynch where she shared her technique to make mini mosaic quilts.

I’ve always been drawn to mosaics, whether they’re made in glass, tile, paint, or fabric. It’s something about their detail I guess…so I was intrigued with the idea of making a mosaic pattern out of fabric.

After a little searching, I found her Etsy shop online and decided the best way to learn her technique was to purchase one of her kits, and the cutting template.

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It arrived fast, and I was so excited to get started. Her kit included the instructions, lots and lots of batik fabric squares (to cut up for the “tiles”), a sheet of Steam a Seam II, tulle, a light batik for the “grout”, and full size pattern. It was hard choosing which of her darling patterns to try, but I decided on the bicycle pattern (I love bicycling). The plastic slotted template I bought in addition to her kit helps in cutting the 3/8″ square “tiles” with your rotary cutter. I tried doing it with a regular rotary ruler, and you can do it–but believe me, the slotted specialized template makes it so much easier.

The first step is to cut the variety of batik fabrics (by color) into tiny tiles, and organize them by color. Variety is the key. Batiks really help…not only do they provide the variation, the color permeates through to the back of the fabric so there’s no “wrong side”…so you never have to worry which side is up!

After sliding her master pattern under a sheet of Steam a Seam II (with one sticky exposed and facing side up) I secured them with thumbtacks to a foam core base. Using the pattern underneath as my guide, I placed each individual fabric square with a tweezers on top of the base following the outline of the pattern and then filled each section in…being sure to leave a little space in between each “tile” to let the fabric “grout” show through (the light batik fabric is added later and will show through these spaces).

It was a bit time-consuming, BUT I actually found the process relaxing and almost therapeutic and satisfying …kind of like putting a puzzle together or coloring in a coloring book. I also enjoyed the fact that it was an easy project to work on for a while, step away to do other things, and then come back and continue.

Isn’t it amazing how much progress you can make on a project (whether it’s sewing, quilting, or even cleaning a closet)… if you can carve out 20 minutes here and there throughout your day?

The next step was covering it with parchment (to protect the iron) and fusing it to the light batik “grout” fabric. Then layering it on top of a quilt sandwich (batting & backing) and adding a piece of light-colored tulle before adding the 2 narrow borders and machine quilting.

It’s hard deciding on the borders (see photos above)! But you know, I don’t think you can make a bad choice when you’re auditioning fabrics for your borders. You intuitively know when something really isn’t working. And when I came down to the last few choices…I think any of them would have worked. It’s just a matter of going with your gut, …so I finally decided on a grey batik and a medium brown batik–both from my stash.

Next up was machine quilting through all the layers. You could free motion quilt, but for this piece I was able to follow the grout lines pretty easily using my walking foot. I found a cotton Aurafil thread in a matching color and outlined the main bicycle, then continued along the horizontal lines of the background.

To finish up, I added a couple of folded squares (triangles) to the top corners of the back of the mini quilt for easy hanging with a thin wooden dowel. For more info on how to do that, see my earlier blog here. And finished it off with matching binding.

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I hope you’ll give mini mosaic quilting a try.  I can’ wait to start a new one using my own design.  (Or if you’d rather purchase this finished art quilt, it’s now for sale in my Etsy Shop.)

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

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

Shimmering Winter Stars Quilted Wall Hanging

Shimmering Winter Stars Quilted Wall Hanging

I’ve just finished my “Shimmering Winter Star” wall hanging.

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From a distance, doesn’t it look as if the pieced triangles are twinkling or shimmering?

I started the design on my Electric Quilt 7 software with some ideas I’ve seen on Pinterest and the internet.  The triangles intersect the colors so they co-mingle and create a secondary design.  I especially love the work of Jenny Bowker “Shimmering Triangles”.  If you’re interested, she has a pattern for purchase online through Craftsy here.

Here’s a photo of the squares of batik Christmas fabric up on my design wall that I cut out of a layer cake to create the color scheme.  You can see the EQ7 sketch in the lower right hand corner.  (Sorry—my design wall isn’t yellow, but a light cream–I can’t seem to correct the color cast.)

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After organizing the color scheme, I got to work making the half square triangles.  It’s so easy–simply match up two contrasting squares …

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Put them right sides together, and

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(using a ruler and a disappearing ink pen) mark lines corner to corner, then across left to right and north to south.

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And sew  1/4 inch on either side of each line…

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Use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut them apart on the drawn lines…

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…open and press… and you have 8 half-square triangles!  Ta-da!

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If you line the 45 degree line on your ruler up with the seam line (corner to corner) on the half square triangle, it’s easy to trim each one down to size.

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After making dozens and dozens of them, I put them up on the design wall (to double check the placement) and then pieced them together into the blocks I needed.

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Here you can see how they’re coming together on the design wall…not yet pieced together.  (Sorry it’s a bit blurry)

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And here it is—all finished with a green batik border, quilted with a meandering star pattern, and ready to go!  I was so pleased to get it in my shop before December!!  Yippee.

Unfortunately, I have another project that won’t get done in time.  Oh well, there’s always next Christmas right?

Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Project Quilting Last Challenge for 2016 #PQ7

Project Quilting Last Challenge for 2016 #PQ7

#PQ7 There’s one last challenge this year for Kim Lapacek’s PROJECT QUILTING (2016).  My goal this winter was to make a quilt or quilted item for each challenge.  And I’ve just made it!

When I heard the challenge was “A Goose in the Monkey Wrench”, I immediately thought about creating my own version of a large “Monkey Wrench” block  by inserting “Flying Geese” into and maybe around it.  I opened up my Electric Quilt (EQ7) and found the “Monkey Wrench” block, then inserted Flying Geese around the structure of the block.  It needed more, so I played around with adding flying geese in the  border, turning and twisting them until I found an interesting pattern.

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This is what I came up with (above) after several trials and quite  few different colorings.  I’ve always wanted to do flying geese in gradated colors….now’s my chance.

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EQ7 allows me to print my drawing as a paper piecing pattern so I can print it on my favorite foundations—Carol Doak’s Foundation Paper.  After gathering some of my batiks and hand dyed fabrics in the colors I needed, I started paper piecing the center of the mini art quilt

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What I love about paper piecing is the precise points.  I could never do that with regular cutting and piecing.  Some people can…but not me.

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Here’s what it looked like after the center was finished and I started on the “flying geese” border—yikes, there’s a lot of little pieces!  Looks overwhelming.

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The only thing I don’t like about paper piecing is peeling all the little bits of paper off the back of the quilt top after it’s sewn together…but a good movie, and it goes quickly.

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Here (above) is the mini art quilt–quilted, bound, and finished.  It’s now for sale in my Etsy Shop here.

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I like the curves that were created by the flying geese around the border—reminds me of ribbons.

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I chose to do a simple stitch by the ditch (not “in the ditch”) quilting.

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Here’s the finished quilt (above), and the EQ7 rendition (below).    PQ EQ7

The colors are different, but it did turn out very much like my EQ7 rendition.

So the Challenge is finished for this year.  I want to send a special “thank you” to Kim Lapacek (and her mother) for all the hard work to make PROJECT QUILTING a reality.

I hope you’ll stop by Kim’s “Persimons Dream” website to vote for your favorite entries.  The voting begins at noon Sunday, March 20 and ends March 25.

I got the chance to talk with Kim at the Sun Prairie Quilt Show just a few weeks ago–she’s so much fun (that’s her on the right).  Catch her website to find out more about the quilts shown in the background.

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UPDATE:  The voting has ended and mine came in at second place (out of 32 entries).  Thanks so much for your votes!  It was a lot of fun.  Looking forward to next year!

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING,
AND

HAPPY NATIONAL QUILTING DAY!!!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Project Quilting Challenge 5: Through the Eyes of a Child

Project Quilting Challenge 5: Through the Eyes of a Child

We’re in Challenge 5 of PROJECT QUILTING (Season 7)…”Through the Eyes of a Child”.

I remember when my boys were little and we’d go hunting for bugs.  Off we’d go with a butterfly net and a magnifying glass to find as many different bugs (and other critters) as we could.  It always amazed them to see the small world open up with the magnifying glass.  So I created this baby quilt “Under the Magnifying Glass” for the contest this week.

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First I found this wonderful turquoise fabric in my stash that features bugs, frogs, salamanders, dragonflies, and turtles and a lot more.  To make it look as if the magnifying glass was actually zooming in on one section of the fabric, I enlarged it on my copier by 300% and traced a pattern.

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I transferred the pieces of the master pattern onto Steam-a-Seam-2, making sure to turn the pattern backwards before I traced it onto the fusible so it would turn out the right way around in the end.

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The magnifying glass was black fabric cut with a circle template—the handle was eyeballed and cut out.  By  using a lighter background within the circle I thought it made it stand out more.  Everything was fused in place with the heat of my iron.

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Adding the batting & backing, I machine stitched the pieces in place.

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And added a few hand stitches to accent the bugs, butterfly, and put a happy face on the turtle.

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The 3D butterfly was made by fusing fabric to both sides of the Steam-a-Seam-2, pinking the edges, and stitching it in place with a little tuck.

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And here’s the finished quilt…with the polka dot borders it turned out 30 x 34 inches.

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It’s machine washable, or could be used as a wall hanging in a child’s room, and is for sale in my Etsy Shop.

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I tried the “flange binding” — it adds a very thin faux piping accent and is so easy to do—it’s super easy to machine stitch into place.

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I hope you’ll come by the Persimon Dreams blog by Kim Lapacek to vote for your favorites.  You get to vote for 5 items (hope mine’s one of them), starting this SUNDAY (MARCH 6) and runs through March 11, 2016).

UPDATE:  The voting is over, and my entry was #7 out of 38 entries.  Although I didn’t win, everyone was a “winner” since we all won a pdf of a new messenger bag pattern from StudioCherie!  Thank you so much Cherie!  AND on top of that, my name was picked for a prize from Persimon Dreams — a beautiful charm pack by MODA called Simply Colorful II.

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Thanks so much Kim!

  
Oh, did I mention I got to talk with Kim at last week’s Sun Prairie Quilt Show?

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts