Threadbenders Quilt Shop

Threadbenders Quilt Shop
Threadbenders Quilt Shop

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hand Applique: The Embroidered Edge

From Rocky Mountain Quilts

There's another traditional form of hand applique.

Rather than make the stitches invisible, you can pump them up and make them shine.
From Mrs. B's General Store
This became particularly popular in the thirties. There were a lot more applique quilts as cotton fabric more available and didn't need to be in tiny pieces. 
Found on
Many quilters decorated their edges with embroidery.
Very basic embroidery stitches work really well as a way of edging an applique. Most people stitch the fabric down as classic applique and then embroider them with basic edging stitches. The running stitch, the stem stitch and the buttonhole stitch are some of the best.

Embroidery cottons from Threadarific
All kinds of cotton embroidery threads work for this. Pearl cotton, embroidery floss and crochet cotton come in different sizes and every color.

Patsy Thompson Designs

This also looks really great on wool applique.
From Aurum Eve

From Fiber Luscious

Of course there's no reason it has to look old fashioned because it's old. It's a way to dress up and excite all kinds of contemporary design.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Applique by Hand: Zen for Stitchers

For many quilters, hand is a four letter word. We grew up with machines, our time was limited, and you can do a lot more sewing if a machine is sewing with you.
Sue Makinen
So, why would you choose to applique by hand? For the very reason we really choose to do anything. Because its fun!

It has some other great qualities as well. 
  • It's portable.
  •  It's calming.
  •  It can be done anywhere.
  •  It doesn't take your full attention, so you can do it chatting, talking, or watching TV.
We're going to look at several different applique techniques over the next week. There may well be as many applique techinques as there are quilters, but there are some classic ways to  do this that make your life Feasier.

Does it have to be old fashioned? Don't be silly. We can take all kinds of designs and use the techniques that work best for us. There are no rules. Merely suggestions.
from Cottontail Quilters

The most classic applique technique is needle turned applique. It's old school but it's lovely. You use the needle to turn the applique edges over as you stitch.
From Hetties Patch

The starting point is where you mark and cut your applique pieces.The tradition is that you trace them. You can make a pattern of paper, cardboard, freezer paper, pattern plastic or sand paper and trace endless pieces on your fabric. You cut them out with a 1/4 inch edge around them.

You can also take a running stitch around the edge and pull it in to turn your applique edge.

But there are some cool alternatives. You can also iron freezer paper  on to your fabric, cut out with your edge allowance and iron it down, with the paper in it.
Inklingo Pattern

Or there's a new product called Inklingo, where you can either print your pattern on paper of some kind or print the fabric itself. This is a real time saver and it ups your accuracy considerably.
From Martingale Press

In the end, you whip stitch the turned over edges invisibly to your top fabric.

It's not fast. But it is especially lovely. And it's probably what your grandmother did. Unless your grandmother was a dyed in the wool machine girl. Yes, they've always been out there. 

Next time we'll explore  applique with embroidery stitches.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Exploring Piecing and Applique: Yes, You Can Do It All

Applique quilt from Quilt Sister
You've probably heard people declare, I'm a "piecer", or" I do applique". They really are very different techniques.And they offer such different possibilities. We're going to look at applique over the next week, but before we do that, let's unpack the differences.

From Fussy Cutter Quilter Kits
Piecing is the sewing of fabric together in seams. We've talked a great deal about piecing. It's usually where beginning quilters start.

Piecing is almost always in straight lines. Except when it's not. There are fabulous curved piecers and piecing, but it's a high skill trick. Much piecing that looks curved is actually an optical illusion. It's worthy, it's lovely and it's very exacting.

Sue Makinen's Applique 
Applique is applying fabric on top of another fabric. Applique is the land of the curve. There is straight line applique, but one is tempted to ask," why?" It's so much easier to piece straight lines and so beautiful to applique curves.

by Barbara Baatz Hillman
There's also nothing against both piecing and applique within the same quilt. It's an astonishing combination that gives you the best of everything.

From Thimble Lady

But that being said, there are a lot of techniques within that. The biggest decision is whether to work by hand or by machine. 
There are wonderful reasons for both.

Hand applique is

  • Elegant and delicate
  • Can be intricate
  • Traditional
  • Portable( you can easily carry it with you)
From Sew Momma Sew
Machine Applique is
  • Faster
  • Less Intricate
  • More contemporary (usually)
  • Needs to be done in your sewing room with your machine.

In a way, the differences are almost along personality lines. Do you need to finish up fast, or do you want to do a long term masterpiece?
Both are fabulous. Applique is a wide world and we'll explore a good chunk of it. 
Sue Makinen is teaching a class on  hand applique for us on Saturday May 3rd, at 10:30-3.You can find more about Sue on our Blog Post Applique Treasures: Sue Makinen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Strip Piecing: It's all in How You Slice It

My father had a saying. If it's too hard, takes too long, or is to nasty, you're using the wrong tool or technique. This is always true in quilting.

Piecing little tiny bits of fabric may be a zen technique and may well sooth some souls, but most of us want to get on with it. It's a lot easier to sew and cut up strips than it is to sew tiny bits.
And Sew much more fun!

Remember all the wonderful blocks that we can  make out of half triangles. Take a collection of sewed strips, cut half triangles and find yourself with the basics for endless half triangle square blocks with tiny intricate strips. For very little effort.

Then the fun begins. They can be turned, twisted and sewed into so many possibilities.

By the way, this is much more fun if you have a photo wall. Take a sheet of Blue Dow( or another Styrofoam insulations). The 3-4 inch ones will stand up on their own. You can ask the person at the hardware store to cut it to whatever size fits your room. Throw a sheet over it or some other fabric ( I use black double knit. Which you can usually find most likely in an Amish shop). You can endlessly pin your squares up in any way, walk away, and look at it. Not only is that endless fun, but it's the best way to view your design. And when it's time to photo your quilt, you're ready.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sewing Heros: Wanda Sews Us Under the Table

Wanda's cute tee shirt baby dress.
I don't think we ever know most of the sewing heros in our lives. You know. The people who can sew anything!
If you're not in their sewing room, you don't know what's going on. Which is one of the delights of sewing with people. There are people who sew like mad spinning tops.
And then, there's Wanda. 
Another tee shirt dress

Wanda Everly Doyle sews like a force of nature. Relentlessly. Pretty much flawlessly. And five times faster than the rest of us. She is our amazing Wanda, and we love her.

Wanda's cute pillowcase dress
She also teaches us how, with great skill and  patience. This spring she's been doing a small mountain of the cutest kid dresses. So she's going to be doing a class on pillow case dresses  on Tuesday, April 29th at 11:00 am. Do you have a little girl who would shine in a sundress?

We also welcome anyone who wants to sew with us any day of the week. Bring in your machine, sit down and doodly do. We'll help you sew, laugh, cry, giggle, or drink coffee as needed. And you can watch our Wanda be amazing.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Applique Treasures: Sue Makinen

We've always known our greatest treasure is our quilt community. We have a new person who personifies that!
Sue Makinen has joined us as a teacher and staff.

Sue does the most amazing hand applique. And she's going to teach us in her beginning applique class.
Sue does her applique by hand, but she has some great tricks with patterns and starch that make it all work so much better.

Sue has worked with Kim Diehl, making a quilt called Checkard Past that Kim included in her book, Simple Charm.
Here's the great applique project we'll do in her class on Saturday May 3rd, at 10:30-3.
You'll find Sue, and the Simple Charm book at Threadbenders, waiting for you. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Seminole Stripping: Not Done in the Nude

Kathleen McCormick From Cambridge Quilts
We've talked about cutting strips and resewing them to make intricate patchwork.

The Seminole Indians have always been the masters of this. Seminoles were a tribe in the Florida cypress swamps. The people who had come to Christianize them also taught them to sew quilts as well. But they were developed a form of  strip patchwork that involved stitching, cutting and restitching.
 Vintage Seminole Skirt From/Miss Farfalla's Etsy Shop
Traditionally they made clothing with their piecing. This is a traditional Seminole skirt. They also made jackets, shirts and other garments, as well as quilts.

Seminole Pieced Apron from Ms Sews It All
It's easier to understand how this piecing is accomplished by seeing the back. It's all strips, cut at different angles and resewed.

Here are several construction diagrams. 

From Lakeview Stitching

From Creating So Many Colors
Seminole Tutorial
Karen Pior has this fabulous tutorial on her page at Sew Well Maide.

Contemporary quilt by Niki Valentine Vick
Seminole piecing is quick, very intricate and beautiful. 

Traditionally it's done with solids, but traditions, like rules, are made to be broken.
If you'd like to add amazing pieced detail to your quilting, Seminole pieces is an easy way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bargello U: Easy Bargello Piecing

We've talked a bit about how to make things in strips that look so much harder than they are.

Bargello piecing is so impressive looking. All those little pieces, done square after square. And it took you, how long? 
Don't be silly. We don't do hard here and we don't do time consuming. Bargello piecing is lightning fast.
These great fabrics are all part of the same fabric line and they're in stock in the store. You can sew along, if you want.

Take a number of strips. Sew them together. 
Cut them into segments.
The segments can either be the same or graduated in different widths. There's really no wrong way to do this.

Sew the segments at each end to each other to make a ring.This is the part my photo shop skills can't quite master. Would you please imagine I can show you that?
Sew the segments together moving up one square at a time.  
If you do different sized segments it looks like this.
Cut across all the segments to make it one bargello piece.
Tada! That wasn't that hard. It looks like a mountain of bits sewed together, but since we started with strip it's fast as a flash.
Things to remember when sewing strips:

  • Even counts. Keep your seam size as accurate as you can. It doesn't matter what it is, just be consistent.
  • Use a sharp rotary blade. Always. Actually it's much safer.
  • Trim you strips to straighten them up. They will get funky after several cuts
  • Press with steam when you're done, from the front. You'll want to make sure all the seams are flat and open.
  • Do lift and press rather than running an iron over it.
  • Seams in the back can point any way they like. It's better if you press to the dark side, but if they're inside your quilt making comments, squish them out. 
Sew up some seams and start cutting and stitching. It's endless fun and you'll find yourself amazed.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Strippy Stripes: Past the Jelly Roll

The advent of  the Modern Quilt Movement and pre cut jelly rolls have made strip quilts really popular. 

From Satin Moon 
We see a lot of the instant jelly roll quilts. They are fun. Just sew the strips together and you have a quilt

From Texas Lovely

But since the advent of the rotary cutter, quilters have begun to see pieced fabric just as fabric. A pieced section of strips is something you can cut up and sew together to make a more complicated, and interesting pattern. 
From Big Horn Quilts

So we'll look at several ways to take stripped piecing and turn it into much more intricate work, by cutting, turning and resewing our strips.
Reeze Hanson, Morning Glory Designs

Once you start viewing your pieced strips as a starting spot, you'll be amazed at what you can do with them. We'll look at cutting triangles, bargello,  and Seminole piecework as ways you can turn your strippy stripes into awesome piecing.