Threadbenders Quilt Shop

Threadbenders Quilt Shop
Threadbenders Quilt Shop

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fussy Cut Applique: Modern Broidery Perse

We' ve been talking about piecing with those great novelty prints. And it's a whole lot of fun.
But there is another way: applique!

Broidery perse one of the earliest American quilt techniques. The very first prints in England and America came from India. They were extraordinarily expensive and frugal quilters used them very sparingly. So they would cut out some of the fabulous flowers and paisleys and applique them onto a white/cream background. Tree of life was one of the most popular patterns. The flowers/foliage on the tree would  be cut and appliqued from the chinz.
P&B Textiles
Of course, everything old is new again. Quilters have rediscovered fussy cutting as a way to applique those amazing english rose prints and more.

Original broidery perse was needle turned, hand stitched and very labor intensive. There are people who still have that skill, but modern fusible webs give us another alternative.
The Crafty Quilter
You can back your applique flowers with fusible, fussy cut them to your delight and apply them with a hot iron. A talented sewing machine with a button hole stitch makes a darling edge. Or an inobtrusive zigzag will work in a pinch.

You can place a fabulous image from your print right where you want it. How cute is that!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fussy Cutting for Pieced Quilts:

 Fussy cutting for piecing has to always take the seam measurement into account. You want to look at the pieces put together with the seam allowances in the piece but somehow subtracted from your design.

The hexagon  pieces here are  carefully cut with the rose center, and the leaves and petals going around. It isn't exactly how the fabric was printed, but it holds the image of the rose beautifully.

What should your seam allowance be? It can be anything you like as long as you're consistent. Mary Ellen Hopkins called it your Personal Private Measurement. For many of us, our foot width  from the edge is a good choice. 1/4" is standard, but not necessary. What is important is that you know where it is on your ruler, and you stick with it.

The same print can give you many choices for your blocks. It's all in where you place the design elements.
For more complicated pieced fussy cutting, some people use mirrors to see what their design will actually look like.

Wise choices and a consistent seam allowance let you put your prints right where they shine.
Next time we'll talk about fussy cutting for applique.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Novelty Prints: Picking Prints for Fussy Cutting

Fussy cutting is ALL about the fabric.It's picking the exactly right print for a quilt and then picking out exactly the right image in the fabric for the piece. And it's always dramatic.

The simplest fabric for fussy cutting has already been designed for the purpose. There are fabulous panel prints that are just made to cut apart and put in a quilt square. 
Some fabrics require a little more thought.
Love this Dick and Jane panel. But say, it's a bit large. Cropping it is easy. Focus on the part of the print that matters most to you. You'll lose something but it makes the print more important in the quilt.
Fussy cutting for piecing usually involves placing the fabric in a square or rectangle. Your print may or may not be the size square you need. You can use borders to plump it out a bit. If you need it smaller, then cut judiciously. 

Sometimes a print will offer you several great choices for a mixture of blocks.
Some prints are more random and you'll need to turn and twist to get the look you want.

Your clear plastic ruler is a real help for this. It allows you to center in on just the part you want and figure your seam allowance. Does it matter if you have extra bits of the print around the edge? Actually, no. Your eye will pretty much ignore the periphery and focus on the center.
You may find a print is too small for your block. Not to worry. Add a border or two and you're good to go.

Take your novelty print over to your cutting board, tart looking at it through your ruler and you'll see it in a totally different way.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fussy Cut Piecing: The Fabric Makes the Quilt

We've talked a lot about working smart rather than hard. Here's a secret.If you choose amazing fabric, the fabric makes your quilt amazing.Even if the pattern is really simple. The fabric ALWAYS makes the quilt.

A lot of modern piecing construction is about sewing together strips and cutting them into segments. If you need a quilt finished fast, that's a great method. But you never know where the print will land in the block. That takes a little more precision and care but it's in no way hard. You just need to choose fabulous fabric and fussy cut.

Fussy cutting is placing your fabric exactly where you want it in your quilts. It's not hard, although it takes a bit of planning. 
For the next couple of blogs we'll look at fussy cutting techniques and the kinds of fabrics that make it so exciting, personal and fun.

But it always starts with the fabric. Have you seen a print that was perfect for your daughter? Weird and fabulous and something they really love? That is a reason to buy the fabric now. No I'm not kidding. NOW! Fabric comes and goes out of production very quickly and you never know. You may be hunting it years from now.

Those odd, personal fabrics are known as novelty prints. They can be the backbone of amazing quilts. They are so fun. And they make fussy cut quilts awesome.
What makes great novelty fabrics?

  • Larger prints 
  • Fabrics that are personal for a particular person
  • Great colors
  • Clean clear printing/design

When you see a novelty print that is perfect for someone you love, make sure to add it to your stash because you'll want it when you're ready. And besides, you need to age your fabric to perfection.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Going to the Hexie Place: A Classic One Block Wonder

Charm block issues
In this world of modern quilting, it's easy to overlook some of the classic wonders. There are a number of one block patterns in the quilt world. But they hexie block is probably most familiar to everyone.

hexie made from batiks
Grandmother's Flower Garden is the classic hexie quilt. From the thirties to the 70's it may have been the most recognizable and most popular quilt pattern out there.
While you're hyperventilating, I suggest you take a deep breath. Yes those are very little pieces. But the construction of a hexie quilt is so simple. And it brings us back to hand stitching.

Hexie blocks
Again, stop hyperventilating. Deep breath. Hexies are one of the most fun take along projects ever! They're pieced over paper, to keep the edges sharp and they are a project that goes whever you are.

hexie template
The secret is the shape. This hexie template makes it possible to even fussy cut your hexies so you have perfect six sided blocks, with repeating patterns.
back of block
The edges are folded over a paper template and basted down. When you have enough hexies, you whip stitch your blocks together.
fussy cut block
How pretty is that?
Hexagon Quilt
What can you make out of hexies? Much more than flower gardens. Check out this star quilt.
Patricia Cummings Hexagon Quilt
Or this wonderful mosaic. Don't be afraid of hand stitching or the hexie place. It's a great place for a quilter to play

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Open Sesame: Why Quilters Need Open Storage

Whenever I see someone's beautifully ordered sewing room, I have to ask myself. It's very pretty, but where does she really sew? She does have a small pile of fabric by the serger, but it's all folded. There's nothing on the floor. I actually wonder if she really does spend days cleaning her sewing room rather than sewing.

There are, I'm told, people who do this. There are people who run marathons too. I am amazed by them, but I don't think I'll be joining them soon.

But for many of us, if it's out of sight it's out of mind. If I can't see it, I can't find it. That's when it's wonderful to have some open storage options.

Open storage is all about pretty. If you're going to leave it out for people to see they might as well see something delightful. There's nothing as pretty as a fabric bowl for a place to put things.
Show me a sewing room with put away scissors, folded up fabric and a clean floor, and I'm looking at a room that no one is sewing in. Because you need to see things to find things. 

And in all fairness, some of our sewing things are just pretty. Those buttons are just button cute. Why not have them where you can see them, find them, and enjoy them?

So to help with that we're doing a fabric bowl class on Monday, February 17th at 11:AM. Come in, make some really pretty bowls and store your pretties where you can find them and enjoy them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Someone Else's Quilt Top

It's always an intimate moment. You're in a rummage sale or a resale shop, looking through the piles, seeing what is there. And you see an odd little bundle. Maybe it's wrapped in brown paper. Or in a plastic bag. Or maybe it looks like a pile of scraps. But when you unwrap it, that's not what it is. It's the quilt squares left from an unfinished quilt. The moment is intimate, because the woman who made those blocks is about to show you things about her life she might never have told you if you were her best friend.

I've heard quilts described as historic documents. I believe that's fair. Both my grandmothers died before I was born. I know more about them from their quilts than from family stories.The fabrics the quilts are made of, the woman's stitches, machine or hand, her quilting stitch, the patterns she told tell you so much about her. It's a look through her eyes.

I think it's even truer with an unfinished top or squares because you can look inside. You can really see how she made that quilt.
Unfinished Pretty Lady quilt

But past a glimpse into this woman's world, it's the fulfilling of a legacy. She had so many hopes and dreams for that unfinished quilt. Was it for her grandchild? Her husband? A friend that needed comfort and her care?  This was an act of love for someone, that never quite got finished.We can only guess who. But her quilt is there, unfinished and left behind.

The odd thing about quilts is that they always are comfort of one sort or another. Whether it was made for one person's comfort or another, there's still someone else who could use that act of love. So when we take in someone's unfinished quilt and pass it on to someone else we pass on that woman's life, her work, her love. And we add a little of our own.
machine embroidered blocks

The next time you find that odd brown paper package of someone's stitched dreams, you might want to take them home. In fulfilling other people's dreams, we sometimes find our own.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quilts to Warm the Heart

In the middle of February, it makes perfect sense to find a way to warm up. Any way. Warmer thoughts. Hot tea. Cocoa even if it spills in your lap. Pets who sit on you. Beach movies. Especially this winter.

But we forget about how strongly we respond to color.
So it's no surprise that there's a holiday that gives you the opportunity to make everything warmly, wonderfully red.
If Valentine's day hadn't been a tradition we would have had to invent it. Just to warm up. Imagine Valentine's day in July. You just can't. It's made for cold weather.

And it's made to lift us up in the dark of the winter. When we're young it's about candy and paper valentines. When we're older it's about matters of the heart. When we're a bit older than that it comes back around to candy, with or without the cards. But it's about two things, always. The promise of warmth in the middle of cold. The promise of the people we love, even in the coldest time of year.

Modern Heart Tutorial
So get out your red fabric and make yourself warmer. Here's some modern quilts, for Valentine's Day.
Vanessa Christenson  I Heart You

Love both of these half hearts. One appliqued, one pieced. Sometimes part images are much more striking than fully realized ones.


There are a number of great pieced heart patterns. 

Pamela Lincoln, Mug Rug
And there are quilts that have a personal message, that's not clear, but is lovely anyway.
You can cut a heart.

Leah Day, The Free Motion Quilting Project.
Stitch hearts
Marian Howard Gallian,Pink Hippo Quilts

Applique them.
Or lose them. 
But no matter what, they remind you of the sweet warm things that seem to get forgotten in the snow.
Don't have enough red fabric? We have a sale going on right up through Valentine's Day. We can help you fill out your red stash, just to warm up.