Sunday, December 10, 2017

Filling a defined shape with a quilting motif

Sometimes we want to fill a specific space on a quilt with a quilting motif. It could be an alternate block, a setting triangle, sashing or other defined space. Why not practice free-motion quilting and filling shapes using improv patchwork? 
Filling defined shapes and spaces with free-motion quilting.
This improv quilt is for Jesse The Wonder Cat and the kitties at The Cat Clinic. The improvisational patchwork actually has parts of a fabric handbag that never made it to the quilting stage, so I decided to repurpose the pieces for the kitties. Other improv blocks were incorporated to make the top to size.
The "handbag" kitty quilt, 30.5" x 25"
When I sit down to quilt these small format quilts, I decide on a technique or motif I need to practice. With the larger blocks and a variety of sizes of squares, rectangles and triangles, this quilt top was a good canvas for fillers and motifs in defined spaces.
Zig-zags and a feather in triangular shapes
Moving from section to section, I also got in practice for ditch stitching. You can see the outlines of the shapes (stitching in the ditch) more clearly from the back.
Ditch stitching (back view).
These kitty charity quilts have an abundance of potential for practicing free-motion quilting. And the kitties love them!

Enjoy the antics of the special kitties, Jesse the Wonder Cat, Silly Willie the Super Scooter, Good Golly Miss Dolly that reside at the Cat Clinic of Chattanooga. And if you're thinking about opening your heart to a furry friend this holiday season, there are many cats and dogs that need forever homes. Contact your local shelter to inquire.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

No-sew products for piecing batting scraps, and more

Rarely (if ever) does the size of a quilt batting perfectly coincide with the size of your quilt top. There are always trimmings and irregular-sized pieces left over. And... the frugal and efficient makers that we are... we save them. Right? 
Using Heat Press to fuse batting scraps together.
If you're not making a lot of little projects—mug rugs, zippered pouches, soft books, and such—you probably have a "collection" of these miscellaneous chunks... too big to throw away but not quite big enough for a current need.

Heat Press to the Rescue
I posted two methods for joining batting pieces together: by machine in this post, and by hand in this post. But here is a great product for piecing batting scraps together—using an iron. It's called "Heat Press."

Heat Press is 1.5" wide and is packaged in a roll.
Heat Press is a lightweight, fusible tricot product. It comes on a roll: 15 yards by 1.5" wide. Just lay out the batting pieces, butting them together. Cut a length of Heat Press to cover the join and fuse (low heat with the iron*). Easy and fast and the product is undetectable when machine quilting. [NOTE: I have not tried it with hand quilting, but would be interested in hearing anyone's experience with hand quilting or hand stitching with this product. How 'bout you, my blog stalker, have you hand stitched with this product?]

*The package instructions recommend different heat settings depending on the fiber content of the batting and whether your iron has a teflon plate or not. Be sure to read this so you don't melt the fusible or damage the batting.

More products for other uses
The Heat Press website is chock full of helpful information: video demos, tips and information about related products such as an Appliqué Tape and (OMGosh) a "Stretchy Hem Tape" for working with knits that comes in white and black! Anyone tried this stuff?

These products were invented by Jeanne Harwood, a quilter, garment sewer, instructor and consultant to apparel manufacturers. The products are 100% Made in the USA and can be purchased through the Heat Press website or ask for them at YLQS [your local quilt shop].

Got batting scraps? Use 'em and fuse 'em for your next project.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

When does a 1/4 inch really matter?

When does a 1/4" really matter?
Because I did technical writing in a previous career—writing procedures for digital file creation and file submission to networked, production printing systems—I sometimes get asked to proof or "tech-edit" quilting patterns. A while ago, someone asked if I would look over a draft of instructions they were writing for an easy scrap quilt.

To protect the innocent, I won't show a picture of the quilt design, but will say that the objectives for the project were as follows:
  • to mix a variety of scraps with one background fabric
  • an opportunity to try improv patchwork
  • quilt size: throw or couch quilt
  • experience level: confident beginner
The quilt layout was basically a strip quilt with horizontal strips of [improv] patchwork alternating with strips of the background fabric. The designer was calling the pattern "an easy improv quilt." (keep this concept in mind)

The first read-through
On first review of cutting instructions, here's what was specified:

From the background fabric cut: 
        3 pieces 42" x 6"
        1 piece  42" x 6.25"
        1 piece  42" x 6.5"

Really? REALLY?? The difference between 6" and 6.25" or between 6.25" and 6.5" is A QUARTER OF AN INCH! And once those strips are pieced together with the patchwork/improv strips (and even if the maker did nail the 1/4" seam allowances) who's gonna see the difference between a 6" wide strip, a 6.25" wide strip and a 6.5" wide strip???... on a throw size quilt?  (I think nobody.)

Oh, and when the quilt's washed and the fabric gets all crinkley... ya think you could tell the diff' then?

Would it not be easier and pragmatic to cut 5 pieces 42" x 6"? [or 5 pieces 42" x 6.5"]? (I gently reminded the designer that the pattern's objective was "easy improv.")

Pattern writers have a responsibility
OMGosh, folks. Pattern designers/writers... be kind to those that will make your projects! Pattern designers have a responsibility to be clear, accurate, concise, and present the information and directions in an organized format (visually and in written form). I listened to an interview with Sam Hunter of Hunter's Design Studio and she talked about writing patterns (and re-writing poorly written or confusing ones) and she was right on. It's not easy—or fast—if done correctly. But if you have that skill, talent or passion for creating patterns, and execute the process with your reader in mind, your patterns are golden. (I've used one of Sam Hunter's and it was great!)

If you attempt pattern writing, put yourself in the shoes of those that purchase or will use your pattern—and be accountable. Makers will not only appreciate it, but they will be more successful and feel confident to make the "next something" that catches their eye.

Consumers have a responsibility, too!
And the other side of that coin? When you purchase a pattern, please adhere to copyright laws! Read Sam's post on the ultimate effect of stealing patterns.
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