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

Painting on Fabric Quilts

Painting on Fabric Quilts

I treated myself to a box of Derwent Intense 24 Ink Pencils earlier this year, and an online class from IQuilt entitled “Artistic Painted Applique”.  The instructor, Linda Poole, showed us how to first create a pallet of color to familiarize ourselves with the variety of ink pencils in the pack.

After Ironing some freezer paper onto the back of a piece of white cotton, I drew some circles and filled each in with a different color of the Inktense Ink Pencils.

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Adding textile medium brings the pencils to life…

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They react like watercolor or paint on the fabric.

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Next I backed a piece of stabilizer to the back of my fabric & sketched a bird I’d seen at our feeder earlier this year.

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Then it was just a matter of coloring and adding the textile medium to blend it all together.

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The color is beyond the sketch lines because I needed to that cut it out and fold over the edges to applique.

I usually start with an overall idea of what I want to do…many times from a photograph I’ve taken.  But this time I worked “backwards”—having to come up with a background scene to place my little bird on.  It took me awhile to figure out what that would be.  The bird seemed to want to perch itself on a branch of some sort.  I was lucky enough to find a beautiful batik in my stash that worked perfectly for a background.

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I drew in some lines where fabric “branches” would be fused, and cut various sizes of leaves out of a multicolor orange batik for the leaves.  Next came the free-hand overall quilting to accentuate the veins of the leaves and down each branch.  I decided on overall “pebble” quilting for the background around the bird and some branches/leaves.

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I also quilted other free-hand stitches, including outlining the bird (and his feet)…

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and a feather stitch on the top portion, and swirls/meandering on the bottom.

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After trimming, I added folded triangles to each corner to make it easy to mount on the wall with a simple thin wooden dowel and one nail or hook.

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And I “framed” it with a black binding.

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The Red Breasted Grosbeak I saw earlier in the spring hasn’t come back, but this quilted art wall hanging will be a permanent reminder of his beauty!  Hope you enjoyed watching the process!

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Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Tuesday Tips: One Block Wonder

Tuesday Tips: One Block Wonder

Have you ever made a “One Block Wonder”?  You put 6 layers of the same fabric on top of each other lining up the patterns exactly, and then cut them into triangles and sew each group of 6 triangles together into a hexagon.  It’s so much fun.

I’ve discovered a wonderful internet site with a free tool to help you in your design process:  You can find it here:

http://oneblockwonder.com/design-helper/#

Once you’re at the site, you’ll see this screen under the tab “design helper”.

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Just upload a photo of your fabric by pressing “Choose image” and finding it on your computer…

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Then press “MAKE HEXIES”, and this is what you’ll see!

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The software magically changes the fabric into what the OBW quilt might be!  It’s set at the usual 3.75 inch triangle size and 40” wide fabric, but you can change those parameters if you need to.

I gave it a try with a fabric I recently made into a OBW lap size quilt. Here’s the fabric:

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After uploading the jpeg, I pressed “make hexies” and this is what appeared…isn’t it fun?

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The first screen shot is random, but the second screen shot was made when I pressed “by color”.  Then press “snapshot” to get a jpeg that you can save to your computer (right click).

I realized that the photo showed less than 40″ of my fabric, so I tried changing the parameters to about the size of the fabric on the photograph.  Let’s see if it changed the outcome:

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To compare the program’s outcome to my actual fabric quilt, here’s the OBW lap quilt on the design wall in my sewing studio…

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And here’s the same OBW quilt after it was quilted and finished:

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Not exactly as the program’s projection, but not far off.  I had an inkling the fabric would work when I bought it, but if I had used the program it would have confirmed it worked.

In some ways the program spoils the surprise you get when cutting the fabric up into triangles and sewing them back together, which is half the fun.  But at the same time I think it helps you decide before you buy if the fabric will work.  …And when you need to buy several yards of the fabric (quite an expense), you want to be sure it will work.

Here are some more examples showing some fabrics I have on hand, and how the program says they might look as OBWs.  The original jpeg of the fabric is in the upper left-hand size (note they’ve shown where the cuts will be for triangles), and the lower section shows the triangles sewn together and how they might look when sewn together…

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The first is a Kaffe Fassett Lotus Leaf, the second is a Kona Bay fabric, and the third is a fabric by TrendTex that I’ve had for ages and didn’t think would work at all.  It actually looks  pretty good.

I’m not sure about the width of fabric and the photo.  For example, if the fabric is 40″wide, but the photo only shows 20″ of it, should I  change the parameters to 20″ instead of 40″? I’m not, but one thing do know –it’s a lot of fun to play with.  And it’s a great tool for getting some idea how the fabric will or won’t work.

For example, here’s a fabric I KNOW won’t work well –it’s too much of the same colors, doesn’t have enough movement, and the print is too small.  The photo I took was of 20”, so I changed the width of fabric in the website program to 20”.

Let’s see what the program does with it…

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YUP, as you can see–although it’s pretty,  it doesn’t work.  It’s too much the same.

So why not take a moment to give the new website tool a try?  Take a photo of your fabric, and play.  Or if you don’t have a photo, go to their “Menu” tab where they have some sample fabrics to try.  Have fun…

Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts