My Favorite Iron for Quilting

My Favorite Iron for Quilting

One New Year resolution for 2019 is to organize leftover scraps, so I decided to spend a little time this morning ironing the mess. It just makes it so much easier to find what I need. That made me think about how much I love my iron…and about sharing that with you.

You may remember the earlier blog about the problems I had with the Rowenta Pro Steam Iron. I desperately needed a new iron. There are so many irons out there, I had no idea where to start.

Then I remembered the iron I used while I was at the quilting retreat at The Jones Mansion …a gravity fed iron. It was by far the BEST iron I’d ever used.

The model I decided to purchase was the Hot Steam Gravity Fed Iron, and I ordered it through Wawak.com sewing supplies (right around $100, including the iron, hot plate, hose, & water tank).

It was easy to hang the water tank from a plant hanger I attached to the wall above my window. And it uses tap water with a demineralizer (resin) that only needs replacing a couple times a year. It heats up fast, creates nice flat seams, and the on-demand steam by pressing the thumb switch is wonderful.

The only downside is that it’s not very portable. Because of the water tank, it is easiest to keep it in one spot.

Here’s the water tank…

And my lovely iron…I’ve had it for almost 5 years now and still love it! ❤️

Paired with my homemade large ironing board surface and my new Wooly ironing mat, I’m a very happy camper (or I should say happy quilter)!

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING,

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Project Quilting 10.3: EQ8 and French Inspiration

Project Quilting 10.3: EQ8 and French Inspiration

This is the third challenge in Season 10 of Project Quilting, and the only rule is that it’s “Bigger than a breadbox” Wikipedia says they’re usually 16″ x 8″ or so, and that’s the MINIMUM size for the completed piece to meet this week’s challenge” … OK, I can do that.

I’ve been wanting to challenge myself by:

  1. Using a small French linen printed panel I bought at the Madison Quilt Expo
  2. Improving my piecing ability
  3. Designing it completely on EQ8 (Electric Quilt software)

First I got out every red & beige fabric I could find from my stash. I love the fat quarter pack I recently found at the Craftsy site (which is now Bluprint), called Boundless Ruby Rue. Isn’t it beautiful fabric?

Next I opened up my EQ8 software and created a quilt the size of my center panel (finished 6×6 inches) and experimented by adding one border after another until I reached the required size. EQ8 lets you import pdf images from fabric companies (I found my Ruby Rhu online & downloaded) so I could “paint” the blocks on my pattern draft with my actual fabric! And could scan the panel so it shows ad well. So cool.

I printed out a first draft the quilt (full color & one just outline), and rotary cutting instructions (see above & below).

After adding the first two borders (above), I did a little tweaking on the pattern to get the next borders right.

Piecing 4-patches this tiny isn’t easy. There are so many seams, even a slight error on piecing really adds up to a disaster! I found it helpful to “square up” each tiny 4-patch before continuing to piece the row.

It helped enormously to do some checking every step along the way! You wouldn’t think it, but even a sliver makes a difference (and I can use all the help I can get).

Almost there! All I need is one more border. I had just enough of the light rose stripe to finish the last row of 4 patches…so I’ll need to choose a different fabric for the last border.

Here’s the final draft of the pattern for my wall hanging done on my EQ8 software…

And here’s the actual wall hanging…it ended up to be 20 inches square.

I couldn’t bare to part with it, and I think I found the perfect spot for it on my kitchen wall…next to my Cappuccino maker.

But first…coffee! LOL. (My sister brought me this sign the last time she visited…my morning for sure!)

I’m entering this wall hanging in this week’s Project Quilting Challenge Season 10, challenge #3. Stop by their website to see this week’s entries and to vote for you favorites (hope one of them is mine, #25 hint, hint).

Voting starts Sunday afternoon, Feb. 10 -& runs through Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.

HOW TO VOTE: Just go to the link above, scroll down to the bottom until you see the thumbnail photos of the quilts. Then click on the heart in the upper right hand side of the photo of the entry you want to vote for ❤️ and it’ll fill the heart in & tell you how many votes you have left. If there are over a hundred entries, you’ll get 10 votes. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Voting has closed. Thanks so much for your votes!

I didn’t win, but a very talented quilter, fellow Etsy Quiltsy Team member, and good friend Sally Manke did! Very well deserved. congrats Sally! Mine came in at #29 of 136 entries

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Quilted Hearts and Twister

Quilted Hearts and Twister

I’ve been wanting to make something for Valentines Day, and when the theme of “Red, White, & Blue” for Project Quilting Challenge #2 (Season 10), I knew what I wanted to make.

The challenge states you can use reds, whites, and blues…any shades…no other colors, but you DON’T have to use all three colors.

  1. RULE#1…Your project should contain ONLY the colors RED, WHITE, and BLUE. It does not have to use all three, but it cannot include any additional colors.

So I decided, with Valentines Day coming up, I’d limit my colors to just the red and white. I went to work scrounging in my fabric stash for every shade of red and white (with no other colors in them) that I could find.

After going through my patterns, searching Pinterest, and having a desire to use my Lil’ Twister tool again, I found a tutorial by Connie Kresin on the cutest little Twister heart pattern and decided that was the one!

I made a quick sketch of the layout of the square colors on paper, and then cut the fabric stash into 5 inch squares. Here they are (below) pinned on my design wall. I realized quickly that it’s best to have contrast between each square (except for the background that’s all the same white with red print).

I sewed the squares together.

Question: do you press the seams to one side (each row in opposite directions) so the seams nest together making the columns easier to sew together? Or do you press the seams open so there’s less bulk at the intersections, making it easier to cut and piece the pinwheels later?

I decided to press the seams open. It takes longer, but it sure makes cutting & sewing the pinwheels easier later.

The next step involves the Lil’ Twister square template. Just line the black lines on the template with where the seams intersect and cut. I twisted them slightly and carefully placed them side by side in a row as I cut them.

Before going on to cut the next row, I like to sew the row together, and even sew the rows together too…less chance of getting them mixed up.

after cutting everything out, you’ll end up with lots of tiny pieces of leftover fabric… I like to trim them to 2-1/2 inch squares to use in another project. I ran out of the background fabric, but if I had more of it I might have used these squares in one of the borders.

This is the fun part! I love ❤️ seeing the pattern–in this case the heart–emerge as I piece it together. Magical!

To keep everything nice and flat, I used Best Press on each row.

All that was left was to add a couple borders, add the batting and backing, and quilt it on my domestic machine (my sweet Bernina 570QE).

Using various reds (Aurifil and Sulky threads), I free motion quilted petals in each pinwheel. And with a walking foot and white thread, did a straight stitch around the heart shape and around the border.

and here it is!

I’m entering this Twisted Heart wall hanging in this week’s Project Quilting.

UPDATE: The voting is now closed. No prizes this time, but it did rank #11 out if 118 entries. Thanks so much for your vote!

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Project Quilting Inspiration

Project Quilting Inspiration

It’s that time of year again! The holidays are over, and it’s time for Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams to begin the first week of the Project Quilting Season 10 challenge.

When I saw the first challenge phrase, “Hope Springs Eternal“, I instantly thought of a photo my son & daughter-in-law sent us of our sweet little granddaughter looking up in awe as she “helped” decorate their Christmas tree.

Isn’t she a sweetie? She’s just between 1-1/2 & 2…So this is the first time she’s really enjoying the tree. And that look on her face is just full of wonder and hope for what’s to come.

Not only does it represent the hope of things to come for her, it represents our hope of flying half way around the world to see her soon. I’m so grateful that I live in an age where we can video-chat online weekly and get instant photos every day, but it’s just not the same as seeing them all in person. I can’t wait to give her a hug and play together.

To start the challenge, I printed an outline of the photo on paper and used my Cutterpillar light box to lightly trace some of the important features onto white muslin with pencil.

Next I sandwiched the white muslin on top of batting and backing and started thread sketching (which also served as free motion quilting) with black cotton Aurufil thread and my Bernina BSR foot.

I decided to thread sketch everything…her sweatshirt, hair, and even the needles on the branches of the Christmas tree. And it helped to look at the photo of her beside me on my computer as I sketched in all of her features, starting with her eyes.

I’m so glad I’ve got a nice selection of variegated cotton Sulky thread! I think they really help add depth…

my granddaughter has the cutest pink cheeks (just want to kiss them!), and I couldn’t get the effect I wanted with thread…so broke out my stash of Derwent color pencils and started coloring… adding a bit if color to her lips, her hair, and some shading.

Now that’s a bit better!

A little more shading, and then I added a double border of batik fabrics.

Here’s some close up photos…

I started so late on this challenge, … I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time. But once I started, it just came together and I loved every minute. You really CAN do it in a week.

Participating in PQ is so much fun, because it forces me to try a new technique or idea and actually get it done. I don’t have time to worry about failing or to quit and start over. It is what it is. And I can’t procrastinate when it HAS to be done from start to finish in only one week!

The voting starts this Sunday afternoon (January 13, 2019). Come vote for your favorites…but of course I’d love your vote!

VOTE HERE. Be sure to scroll down to the end.

I believe the voting is open January 13-19 and the winners announced Jan. 20.

Until next time,

Happy Quilting!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Mosaic Quilts: My Infatuation Continues

Mosaic Quilts: My Infatuation Continues

So after seeing the gorgeous quilts by Heidi Proffetty (see my earlier post) and not having access to a digital fabric cutter (which is really a necessity for her technique), I thought I’d try creating another small mosaic art quilt using the simpler tiny squares recommended by Cheryl Lynch (see previous blog post).

I thought you might enjoy following along with the process.

The first step was to find a very simple, but inspiring photo that I could trace to make the pattern outline. I found a photo that I had taken last spring of a Trillium (my fav woodland wildflower).

I downloaded a tracing app for my iPad and used it to roughly trace the outline of the petals & leaves. Note: There are a lot of tracing apps out there (and I certainly haven’t tried them all), but this one (free) allowed me to upload my photo and trace over it with my finger or my computer stylus. It’s rough, but that’s okay…I can go over the lines again with a black Sharpie pen after it’s printed.

This particular app allows you to fade out the background (photo) so you can print only the lines, which saves printer ink. That’s a nice feature.

After saving the tracing as a jpeg file, I needed to enlarge it at 200% to get it to print to the size of a sheet of copy paper, which was the size I was looking for. Once my outline was printed, I used Cheryl Lynch’s technique of taping it to a piece of core board and then thumbtacking a sheet of Steam-a-Seam 2 over it, uncovering the top of the fusible to expose the sticky side up.

Next, it was time to go through my collection of cotton batik fabrics to see what colors might work for the tiles. I cut them into 3/4 inch squares, using Cheryl Lynch’s mini mosaic cutting guide and found that the more variation you have in the light/dark of each color, the better it looks.

Now for the fun part…placing each individual square fabric “tile” with a tweezers. It’s somewhat like putting a puzzle together…one area of color at a time, but you don’t have to make them all fit…you can trim pieces to fit as needed.

For a project this small it doesn’t take long to cut enough squares of fabric to get started. The variation in the value of each fabric color is the key. You don’t want them to look too flat by having each tile exactly the same color value. I added some bright yellow strips in the center of the flower.

It’s slowly progressing! It takes quite awhile to individually place each square with a tweezers, but it’s surprising how much is accomplished by working on it in 30 minute segments throughout a couple of days. Before you know it, it’s finished and ready to fuse to the “grout” fabric and add the tulle netting over the top …

…adding the borders, batting, & backing …

and do the machine quilting using white cotton thread and a walking foot. I stitched between the rows of mosaic squares in the “grout area”, and outlined the petals and leaves. I added a few quilted veins into the petals of the Trillium too.

Close up of the quilted veins & center of the Trillium

What do you think? Originally the background was all browns and green, but I decided it needed more contrast, so I took out some of the squares and re-did the top portion of the background in blue sky.

This one’s completed and for sale at my Etsy Shop.

I’m ready to try it again…how about you?

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Infatuated with Mosaic Quilts

Infatuated with Mosaic Quilts

Over and over again, I’m drawn to quilts that incorporate tiny bits of fabric into mosaic patterns. They create such interesting designs, I can’t get enough.

Recently I was thrilled with an episode of Quilting Arts TV that featured a mosaic quilt technique used by Heidi Proffetty. I was so blown away by her talent, that I wanted to share some of her amazing work with you.

Her quilt “Daddy Hold My Hand” (below) is a great example of her mosaic fabric technique.

“Daddy Hold My Hand” by Heidi Proffetty

I found this wonderful article from Superior Threads about her:

https://www.superiorthreads.com/feature-mosaic-art-quilts

Heidi says she begins with an inspiring photo. Using her computer, she reduces the colors and transforms the photo into a mosaic drawing. Using her iPad and a vector app, she creates a .SGV file that she can upload to her digital cutter to cut all the individual tiny pieces (like tiles) of fabric for the mosaic quilt. After assembling the tiny pieces onto a background fabric, she free-motion stitches them all in place.

Here’s a more detailed step-by-step article about her process:

https://www.superiorthreads.com/feature/mosaic-art-quilts-step-by-step

Heidi recently won First Place (People, Portraits, and Figures) for her quilt “Is She Ready Yet?at the 2018 Houston Int’l Quilt Festival. Isn’t it stunning

Close-up (quilt by Heidi Proffetty)

You can see the free-motion quilting in the closeup. And you can readily understand how a digital fabric cutter could be helpful in cutting each and every one of these unique shapes. Just the thought of cutting them all by hand is overwhelming.

Although I’d love to try her technique, I don’t have access to a digital fabric cutter, so I’d need to cut the individual pieces by hand. Wouldn’t it be fun to give this technique a try in a small scale project. Something a bit smaller…for example, try it on just a section of an inspirational photo?

I’ve tried a similar technique doing mosaic art quilts like my Lady Liberty, but the mosaic fabric shapes used were all squares. Using all these individual and unique shapes adds so much depth to her work. It would be fascinating to try.

This will take some experimentation, but let’s see if I can come up with something…

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

How to Hang a Quilt on the Wall

The best way to hang a quilt on your wall is to sew a fabric hanging sleeve to the back. Here’s how…

What you’ll need:

  • A strip of cotton fabric that coordinates with the backing (or plain muslin fabric), 8-1/2 inch wide by the width of your quilt
  • Needle & thread
  • a wooden dowel
  • nails or 2 Command Strip hooks

How to make the hanging sleeve:

Cut an 8-1/2” strip of cotton fabric the same width as your finished quilt. This will make your finished sleeve 4 inches wide. (*NOTE:  if you’re going to enter your quilt in a show, most require a hanging sleeve 4” wide; however, if you’re using a wooden dowel to hang the sleeve on your wall you only need the finished sleeve to be wide enough to slip the dowel through—so you can opt to cut it smaller…see note at bottom.)

Sleeve1

Fold under the short ends of your strip 1/4 inch or more and press; then fold it over once more about 1/4” or more and press.  Using your sewing machine, topstitch.

sleeve2

sleeve3

Next fold the strip down the middle the long way (wrong sides together) and iron to make a crease down the center.

sleeve4

Open the strip back up and press each long edge to that center creas.

sleeve5

Now open the strip up again and bring the long edges together (wrong sides together), pin, and machine stitch a 1/4” seam. Now you have a long tube.

sleeve6

sleeve7

Carefully press that seam open. Be careful not to disturb your original press lines on the edges.  (NOTE: You’ll notice that the sleeve doesn’t lie flat—the front side (without the seam) is a bit wider than the back, so it “curls”.  Don’t worry–it’s meant to be that way.)

sleeve8

Lay the back of the sleeve (hemmed side) onto the back of your quilt, positioning the top crease about 1/2” from the top (or just a “smidge” under the binding)—and pin. Then pin the lower creased edge.

By hand, with a needle and matching thread, whip stitch the top creased edge and bottom creased edge to the quilt backing.  (NOTE:  Be sure not to sew all the way through the quilt…we don’t want the stitching to show on the front of the quilt.)

sleeve9a

You can also whip stitch the short ends to the quilt…but only the back part…. (NOTE:  Be sure not to whip stitch the front of the short ends—you need the ends open so you can slip the dowel inside the sleeve.)

Again, notice the front of the sleeve will poof out just a bit (see photo below). That’s okay! This is done on purpose to accommodate the width of the wooden dowel (or rod) so that the front of the quilt doesn’t buckle or get distorted when you hang it up.

sleeve9b

The wooden dowel can be any diameter, but I like to choose the smallest diameter dowel that can handle the weight of the quilt without bending out of shape.  For most of my quilts and wall hangings, I use a 3/8 to 1/2 inch diameter wooden dowel.  For my smaller wallhangings, I might even use a smaller one. If you’re hanging a very large bed-sized quilt, or a quilt that is unusually heavy, you might want to consider a larger diameter dowel or even use a metal curtain rod.

Cut the wooden dowel about an inch or less than your quilt back.  Twist an eye screw into each end.  Slip the dowel evenly through the hanging sleeve.  Hold the quilt (with dowel) up against your wall, positioning where you want it and being sure it’s level. Then mark with a pencil where the center of the eye screws are.  Then hammer the nails at those marks, and hang the quilt by putting the eye screws on the nails.

sleeve9c

If you’d rather not use the eye screws, you can cut the dowel almost the same size as the quilt, and hang the dowel ends directly on command strip hooks or nails instead.

That’s it!  Here’s a photo of my latest quilted wallhanging on my wall…

sleeve9d

By the way, this one’s for sale in my Etsy shop.

I hang all of my quilted wall hangings and art quilts this way. Here’s one in my livingroom… and a large landscape art quilt in my diningroom…

sleeve9e

IMG_7471

And s photo of the hanging sleeve on the back of one of my smaller art quilts. I used a 3/8 inch diameter wooden dowel for this one…

sleeve9g

sleeve9h

This method of hanging quilts works great for most of my quilted wall hangings and quilts. However, I’ve found a different method for hanging my small art quilts.

If you’d like to see that tutorial, just go to my earlier blog HERE.

Most quilt contests require a hanging sleeve that is 4 inches wide, so by cutting your original strip 8-1/2” it will end up being 4” wide. However, if you’re just hanging it at home, you don’t really need to start with your strip that wide. Just be sure your strip us wide enough so when it’s finished you can insert the dowel through it with a little extra wiggle room (don’t make it too tight).

I hope this tutorial on hanging your quilt is helpful.

Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING,

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts