Sputnik!


A couple of months ago I acquired a few new toys from Sizzix and have been having a good time getting to know them. Last month we used the eclips2 to cut contact paper for glass etching as part of the Stuff Your Stocking event.

This month we have two quilt workshops coming up in the studio that use the Big Shot Pro die cut machine.  One of them is Sputnik, a raw edge applique quilt featuring circles cut using the Big Shot Pro.  Click here to see the free pattern from Sizzix, but note that we will only be using the circle die. Bring your fabrics ready to roll, but uncut.  We will fuse, cut and stitch during the workshop.

Juan and I have been talking about some things we want to experiment with, and I thought this quilt provided an opportunity. I wanted to see how Juan would do if I quilted the applique without stitching it down first. So, I put everything in place, then loaded it into Juan’s arms.


I wasn’t really sure how it would work because we have had some trouble with quilting through applique with fusible web. After talking to a few friends and getting a tip or two, we got rolling.


Not too bad. And this quilt was fun because almost all of the fabric, including the backing, was scrap.  The only new piece was the background, which is Kona Silver, and one of my favorites. It came together quickly, and I’m thinking of doing another one to have on hand as a baby gift. Or maybe several for charitable purposes. We shall see.

The other quilt we’ll be using the Big Shot Pro for is the Wave quilt by Victoria Findlay Wolfe. I’m planning on making mine this week, but here’s a preview from the free Sizzix pattern-


And how about this American flag version using the same die?  I’m thinking they both are pretty much fantastic.

The fuss about fusibles…

Recently I had the opportunity to do a guild presentation for the Plantation Quilters at Jarrell Plantation in Juliette, Georgia.  The program was a mashup of info on curved cutting, piecing, and applique with a discussion on fusibles and pressing aides.  One simply led into another.

I was grateful for the experience, as it gave me a chance to discuss fusibles and what the difference is from one to another.  There are a lot of products on the market, and I don’t pretend to cover all of the options here, but I just wanted to take a minute to explain the difference between some of the big players.

When someone asks me which fusible I recommend or is my favorite, I’d have to answer with “It depends.”  Fusible webbing products all basically have the same end purpose- to fuse fabric and/or fibers to each other, either temporarily or permanently.  Fusible webbing isn’t new on the market.  I remember when I first discovered Wonder Under, and was thrilled with the possibilities.  I think the first projects I made with it were three dimensional flowers, and I think maybe some garlands or something like that.  You know, 1995-ish.  However, there have been a number of developments in the fusible webbing world over the years, and there are many more options available today.

One of the biggest differences between fusibles has to do with weight, and the feel of the fabric after the fusible has been applied.  Some fusibles are very heavy and leave fabrics feeling particularly stiff, and can gum up a sewing machine needle quicker than quick.  And don’t even think about hand appliqueing through it.  Your hands will fall off.  It is important to read the packaging when it comes to which grade of fusible to buy.  Heat’n’Bond Ultrahold says plainly on the packaging “No Sew”, and trust me, it’s best to believe them.  Having said that, I have found that the Ultraholds of the world are not the best products for how I want my applique to finish.  I prefer products that have words like “lite” in the title.  They hold my pieces appropriately in place until I am ready to sew them down, and depending on the fabric and the fusible, generally finish with a soft hand, just the way a quilt should.

 

It doesn’t take a lot of experimenting to learn the difference between weights of fusible webbing, but there are other differences as well.  The three products shown above are my current favorites, and yes, I have a need for all three.

Let’s start with Soft Fuse.  It is the most similar to what I grew up with in my quilting experience.  It is a paperbacked, heat activated fusible.  Draw or trace images on the paper side of the fusible, then follow the directions to heat-fuse the adhesive side to the back of the fabric intended to be fused to the background.  (Remember- how ever you draw the images on the paper is how they will look when you fuse them to the background.  For instance, you must reverse letters before drawing them on the paper, or the letters will be backwards on your project.)  Cut images out following the drawn lines on the paper.  (I will say this multiple times- nothing beats Kay Buckley Perfect Scissors for this.)  Peel off paper backing, leaving the shiny adhesive on the fabric.  Again, following directions, use an iron to adhere the applique pieces to the background.  So, how is this any different than the traditionals?  It is remarkably lighter, but still does the job.  No heavy hand to the finished product.

Next in line of my favorite fusibles is Lite Steam-A-Seam 2.  Notice “lite” in the title.  Original Steam-A-Seam 2 is too heavy for most of my projects, although I use it from time to time on an unusual application.  This product is not used in the traditional manner.  It is a double-sided fusible that is both pressure and heat sensitive.  With this product, the fusible has paper on both sides, very different from traditional fusibles.  One of the papers has a blue grid printed on it.  The grid makes drawing images, particularly letters, much easier, and also makes it very obvious which is the “right” side.  Draw images on the paper with the blue grid, but just like with Soft Fuse, you must reverse images before you draw them on the grid.  Roughly cut out images, leaving both papers and the fusible in tact.  This is where you can run into a problem.  The papers have a tendency to come away from the fusible, and it can take some manipulation to make sure the fusible stays where it is supposed to.  When the backing paper is peeled back, the fusible should stick to the blue grid paper.  After removing the backing paper, stick the fusible (and the blue grid paper) to the back of the fabric simply by using your fingers to apply pressure.  Using the drawn image on the blue grid paper as a guide, cut out the applique shape.  (Again, Karen Kay Buckley scissors!)  Peel off the blue grid paper.  And here’s where the value of Steam-A-Seam 2 comes out- finger press the applique piece onto the background as desired.  Don’t like it?  No problem.  Move it.  When it is finally where you want it to be, follow the package directions and use the iron to heat set the adhesive.  It has a slightly heavier hand than Soft Fuse, but has the ability to be moved around repeatedly until the desired design is achieved.

Last is MistyFuse, which is a pretty amazing product.  Totally different than other fusibles because there is no paper involved at all.  The fusible looks something like a gauzy spider web, and comes in white, black and UV.  Black is used in a number of art applications, and the UV has been tested for it’s ability to stand up to UV light better than other fusibles, which can turn light fabrics yellow over time as exposed to sunlight.  The white is the most commonly used, and what I will focus on here.  With this product you must use a pressing sheet, of which there are plenty on the market, but MistyFuse likes the Goddess sheet in particular.  I can talk about those sheets as well another day, but what you need to know is that there is no difference (except maybe size) between the Goddess sheet and the Bo-Nash Giant sheet, and that you can essentially get the same effect from a roll of parchment paper.  Parchment paper will eventually burn, and need to be replaced with another piece of parchment paper, but other than that acts very similarly to the pressing sheets on the market when it comes to fusible webbing.  To use MistyFuse, draw images on a piece of parchment paper using a pencil.  Keep in mind that the image will be automatically reversed when using this process.  (In other words, write letters the correct way on the paper, they will transfer reversed on the back of the fabric, which will make them correct when fused to the background fabric.)  Lay the piece of parchment paper on the ironing surface, drawing side up.  Lay a piece of MistyFuse on the parchment paper, covering the images.  Lay fabric on top of MistyFuse.  Lay another piece of parchment paper on top of the fabric.  Following the directions, use the iron to fuse the MistyFuse to the fabric.  If done correctly, the fusible will be a very light, shiny surface on the back of the fabric, and the pencil-drawn images will have transferred to the back of the fabric as well- all ready to be cut out and fused to the background.  (One more time- Karen Kay Buckley…)  The other thing about MistyFuse is that you can prepare large-ish pieces of fabric ahead of time, and if you allow the fabric to cool and cure for about 20 minutes after applying MistyFuse, you can fold it up, put it in a drawer, and return to it at a later time.  Then it is possible to rotary cut shapes using templates, or draw directly on either side of the prepped fabric for whatever your heart desires.  Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me!

So, there it is.  Hopefully it wasn’t dreadfully boring.  I just wanted you to know you have options.  Now go forth and fuse.

I hate it when people call me crafty.

I can’t help it.  It just sounds like an insult.  Belittling.  Condescending.  A completely inept description of what goes on in my brain and in my life.  Crafty.  Bleh. But crafty, unfortunately, is what came to mind as I thought about writing this post.  I’m working on being more disciplined when it comes to blogging, so I know I need to write, but none of my current quilt projects are at a point where I want to write about them yet.  So, instead, here are a few of the goodies I’ve been working on lately.  I hope it doesn’t make me seem too crafty.

First up-

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Scarves-  I recently learned how to arm knit, which is a lot of fun.  The scarves shown above are listed on my Etsy site, which you can find on the right of this post, or by clicking here.  If you want to learn how to do it yourself, I found a great video that taught me how.  Just click the photo below and it will take you to it.

  IMG_6680Next-

IMG_6766This was a work in progress (WIP) that’s been hanging about for way too long.  Like years.  And the only reason it’s been around that long is that while I love making motifs, I do not love sewing them together.  So, it’s been complete, but in parts, for a long time.  I don’t know what my hangup is about this, but I don’t plan on any motif-style crochet for quite a while.  Also, this is the third time I’ve made this particular project, and it is now in the “never again” category in my brain.

Then there was this-

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Birthday preparations.  Because that’s what Grandmas do.

And why not this?-

IMG_6784Because if you are going to make one tutu, why not make another?  I can’t wait to see her pictures in this one!

Last one-

IMG_7008They look tiny in this picture, but these bags are actually about 14″ x 13″.  They are for the grands- for trick-or-treat, going to the library, or hauling around whatever their little hearts desire.  I was really excited about making these, and it should have been a pretty quick project- just some fusible applique and a little button hole stitching.  Well, there’s a reason I’m not posting a close up of these babies.  First, I forgot myself and I made the bags BEFORE I did the applique.  That made stitching it down loads of fun.  Second, I used Heat N Bond Ultra, because other than the stash of Steam A Seam 2 Lite that I am hording, that’s all I had.  I figured it was a small project, no biggie, I’ll just use the Heat N Bond Ultra.  Just this once.  Oy.  My needle gummed up every couple of inches, which made my machine start to skip stitches.  It took twice as long as it should have.  Then when I was filling in stitches by hand because I was fed up with the machine, I actually broke a hand-sewing needle.  Yes, broke it.

I’m so glad Steam A Seam 2 is back in production.

Well, that does it for me.  What about you?  Feeling crafty? Hahahahahahahaha!

Stuck at the start

I just adore Don't Look Now!'s patterns- so fresh and fun!  So, when we found out that we are having a granddaughter, I went straight to my collection of patterns and found this one.  I gave our daughter the option to choose between a few, but I was thrilled when she said she liked this one.  Now, while this applique' is not for the faint-of-heart, it isn't as hard as it looks.  Just a lot of pieces, but it is raw edge, so it's doable by machine.

I just adore Don’t Look Now!’s patterns- so fresh and fun! So, when we found out that we are having a granddaughter, I went straight to my collection of patterns and found this one. I gave our daughter the option to choose between a few, but I was thrilled when she said she liked this one. Now, while this applique’ is not for the faint-of-heart, it isn’t as hard as it looks. Just a lot of pieces, but it is raw edge, so it’s doable by machine.

To be truthful, even though this project isn't as complicated as it would seem, I do have to admit that I got stuck and it ended up in a plastic (gasp) box for a little while.  This is one of those projects that you have to lay it out and get it done without a lot of interruptions- you can't start to fuse all of those flowers and then put it away.  So, I had to get a question resolved before I could move on...

To be truthful, even though this project isn’t as complicated as it would seem, I do have to admit that I got stuck and it ended up in a plastic (gasp) box for a little while. This is one of those projects that you have to lay it out and get it done without a lot of interruptions- you can’t start to fuse all of those flowers and then put it away. So, I had to get a question resolved before I could move on…

Now, I may pretty good at what I do, but I'm not THAT good.  I followed the directions in the pattern and used the Clover Tape Maker to make 1/4" bias tape for the stems, and that's where I stopped.  Hello.  The pattern says to adhere the 1/4" stems to the background using 1/4" SteamASeam2.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Well I suppose it would be if your stems were all perfect 1/4" the entire length of the tape, and if you have ninja skills at lining up a piece of sticky 1/4" fusible web to a 1/4" piece of wiggly fabric.  However, I fail in both aspects, so it came to a screeching halt at this point.  I will get back to you with a resolution.  Trust me, I will find a way.

Now, I may pretty good at what I do, but I’m not THAT good. I followed the directions in the pattern and used the Clover Tape Maker to make 1/4″ bias tape for the stems, and that’s where I stopped. Hello. The pattern says to adhere the 1/4″ stems to the background using 1/4″ SteamASeam2. Sounds easy enough, right? Well I suppose it would be if your stems were all perfect 1/4″ the entire length of the tape, and if you have ninja skills at lining up a piece of sticky 1/4″ fusible web to a 1/4″ piece of wiggly fabric. However, I fail in both aspects, so it came to a screeching halt at this point. I will get back to you with a resolution. Trust me, I will find a way.

Koen’s Cars

Okay, so while I rarely make the same quilt twice, I do get stuck on a theme!  I love the chevron/ zigzag trend that is out right now.  The graphic nature of it appeals to me, and I love that while there are rules to follow, that means there are rules to be broken.  I am still following most of the rules at this point, but don't count on that lasting.

Okay, so while I rarely make the same quilt twice, I do get stuck on a theme! I love the chevron/ zigzag trend that is out right now. The graphic nature of it appeals to me, and I love that while there are rules to follow, that means there are rules to be broken. I am still following most of the rules at this point, but don’t count on that lasting.

I like to combine patterns, as well as change them.  I used two patterns in this quilt, "Peak Hour" by Don't Look Now and "Little Quilts 4 Little Kids" by Anka's Treasures.

I like to combine patterns, as well as change them. I used two patterns in this quilt, “Peak Hour” by Don’t Look Now and “Little Quilts 4 Little Kids” by Anka’s Treasures.

It begins with sewing strips together, but be careful to keep strips in the correct order if you would like the chevron look.  This pattern uses two different sizes of strips, and again, it is important to keep them in the right order.  Having said that, I cannot wait to do this again with varying sized strips and without regard to order!

It begins with sewing strips together, but be careful to keep strips in the correct order if you would like the chevron look. This pattern uses two different sizes of strips, and again, it is important to keep them in the right order. Having said that, I cannot wait to do this again with varying sized strips and without regard to order!

"Little Quilts 4 Little Kids" gives excellent instructions on how to cut your strip sets correctly to get these "wedges."

“Little Quilts 4 Little Kids” gives excellent instructions on how to cut your strip sets correctly to get these “wedges.”

Depending on which set of wedges you are working with, you add a triangle to each end- one that looks like this . . .

Depending on which set of wedges you are working with, you add a triangle to each end- one that looks like this . . .

and one that looks like this!

and one that looks like this!

Viola!

Viola!

When stitching together strip sets like this, I like to use fork pins.  The old fashioned way was to put a pin on either side of a set of matching seams.  Fork pins do the same job, but with only one pin.

When stitching together strip sets like this, I like to use fork pins. The old fashioned way was to put a pin on either side of a set of matching seams. Fork pins do the same job, but with only one pin.

At this point, most of my sections are sewn together.  Notice that the color pattern is a mirror image from the top to the bottom, but that the actual pattern of the chevron is not.  "Little Quilts 4 Little Kids" gives excellent directions on how to achieve this look.  Again, I look forward to playing with it a little!

At this point, most of my sections are sewn together. Notice that the color pattern is a mirror image from the top to the bottom, but that the actual pattern of the chevron is not. “Little Quilts 4 Little Kids” gives excellent directions on how to achieve this look. Again, I look forward to playing with it a little!

Whew, sections sewn together on each row, and rows laid out and ready for the applique'.  This is where I implemented a new pattern- "Peak Hour."  I wasn't sure how I wanted to lay out my cars, so I used paper pieces to try it out.  Like this . . .

Whew, sections sewn together on each row, and rows laid out and ready for the applique’. This is where I implemented a new pattern- “Peak Hour.” I wasn’t sure how I wanted to lay out my cars, so I used paper pieces to try it out. Like this . . .

or like this?

or like this?

Fusing and cutting!  The fun part, and maybe the scary part, is you don't really know what it is going to look like when you put all of these little pieces together!  It helps to take your time to choose which fabrics you want for your applique'.  But remember, this isn't brain surgery, and no one will die if it isn't perfect.  Not only that, but you certainly can try again if the first shot doesn't work out the way you planned.

Fusing and cutting! The fun part, and maybe the scary part, is you don’t really know what it is going to look like when you put all of these little pieces together! It helps to take your time to choose which fabrics you want for your applique’. But remember, this isn’t brain surgery, and no one will die if it isn’t perfect. Not only that, but you certainly can try again if the first shot doesn’t work out the way you planned.

Laying out the cars!  I have to admit, this sometimes isn't my strong point when I am digressing from a pattern.  Sometimes my applique' can look like it is floating in outer space without any connection to anything, and without any flow.  I used to do this when I was making scrapbook pages as well.  This time the final product was pleasing, although I would have liked to tweak the positioning a little more.  Remember once you have fused it to your background, it is pretty much a done deal, so feel good about it before you hit it with the iron!

Laying out the cars! I have to admit, this sometimes isn’t my strong point when I am digressing from a pattern. Sometimes my applique’ can look like it is floating in outer space without any connection to anything, and without any flow. I used to do this when I was making scrapbook pages as well. This time the final product was pleasing, although I would have liked to tweak the positioning a little more. Remember once you have fused it to your background, it is pretty much a done deal, so feel good about it before you hit it with the iron!

I love this machine button hole stitch for this type of project.  I like to play with my stitch length and width to get the size that is most pleasing for the applique'.  My friend Sherrie taught me how to do this, including leaving long threads so that I can easily finish of the stitches by hand.

I love this machine button hole stitch for this type of project. I like to play with my stitch length and width to get the size that is most pleasing for the applique’. My friend Sherrie taught me how to do this, including leaving long threads so that I can easily finish of the stitches by hand.

Ready to go!  Beep, beep!

Ready to go! Beep, beep!

Don't Look Now not only designs patterns, but fabric as well.  It turns out I was able to get the coordinating fabric that had the exact same car pattern as the applique' pattern I used, and I simply fussy cut the fabric into a fabulous border.  Unfortunately, I knew something just wasn't right.  It was missing the "umpf" that I normally love.  I had to leave it on the design wall for a few days so that I could mull it over in my sleep.  Yes, I literally dream about quilting.

Don’t Look Now not only designs patterns, but fabric as well. It turns out I was able to get the coordinating fabric that had the exact same car pattern as the applique’ pattern I used, and I simply fussy cut the fabric into a fabulous border. Unfortunately, I knew something just wasn’t right. It was missing the “umpf” that I normally love. I had to leave it on the design wall for a few days so that I could mull it over in my sleep. Yes, I literally dream about quilting.

The answer came, like a ton of bricks!  I think this was my favorite part of the whole process.  I needed just a tiny something to add a little pop and define the edges of the quilt.  So, I started with cutting 1" strips of black.

The answer came, like a ton of bricks! I think this was my favorite part of the whole process. I needed just a tiny something to add a little pop and define the edges of the quilt. So, I started with cutting 1″ strips of black.

Next, I sewed the black strip to the inside of the border strip using a 1/2" seam.  That's right, 1/2", NOT 1/4".  Then I pressed all of the black to the raw edge- essentially folding the black in half along the seam I had just sewn.  So, I had a 1/2" of black along the inside edge of my border strip.  If you try this at home, you know you have it right if you have three raw edges on your inside border- two black and one border.  I then added black corner pieces to the borders.  When I sewed the borders to the quilt using a 1/4" seam, I had created a 1/4" border without fighting with a tiny piece of fabric and without adding any width or length to the overall size.  It was just the pop I needed- all of the fun, and none of the pain!

Next, I sewed the black strip to the inside of the border strip using a 1/2″ seam. That’s right, 1/2″, NOT 1/4″. Then I pressed all of the black to the raw edge- essentially folding the black in half along the seam I had just sewn. So, I had a 1/2″ of black along the inside edge of my border strip. If you try this at home, you know you have it right if you have three raw edges on your inside border- two black and one border. I then added black corner pieces to the borders. When I sewed the borders to the quilt using a 1/4″ seam, I had created a 1/4″ border without fighting with a tiny piece of fabric and without adding any width or length to the overall size. It was just the pop I needed- all of the fun, and none of the pain!

See the difference?

See the difference?

After quilting, be sure to bury those threads!  By the way, I like Fons and Porter's self-threading needles for this.  You don't have to have an excessive amount of thread to be able to thread the needle and then bury the thread in the quilt.

After quilting, be sure to bury those threads! By the way, I like Fons and Porter’s self-threading needles for this. You don’t have to have an excessive amount of thread to be able to thread the needle and then bury the thread in the quilt.

I chose to use a long arm quilting machine to do the free motion quilting on the main parts of the quilt.  However, I wanted the applique' and the chevron to stand out, so I used my domestic machine to carefully outline each car and to stitch in the ditch in the chevrons.  It made for a nice contrast in stitching and gave the quilt depth.

I chose to use a long arm quilting machine to do the free motion quilting on the main parts of the quilt. However, I wanted the applique’ and the chevron to stand out, so I used my domestic machine to carefully outline each car and to stitch in the ditch in the chevrons. It made for a nice contrast in stitching and gave the quilt depth.

Oh how I just love a striped binding, and this one was so very perfect!  I didn't use all fabrics from the Don't Look Now line, but I had to have the stripe, it was just too perfect!

Oh how I just love a striped binding, and this one was so very perfect! I didn’t use all fabrics from the Don’t Look Now line, but I had to have the stripe, it was just too perfect!

Finally done, and before I sent it off to our grandson, I ran it through the wash.  I love the wrinkly look a quilt gets, and I really loved how the variation in the quilting came out in the wash!

Finally done, and before I sent it off to our grandson, I ran it through the wash. I love the wrinkly look a quilt gets, and I really loved how the variation in the quilting came out in the wash!