Sunday, February 25, 2018

Adding color flavor to 4-patches with decorative stitches and 12 wt. thread

Notes to self: "A little spice goes a long way," "Less is more," and "It's all in the details."
4 patch blocks with decorative machine stitching.
Yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles. 12 wt. Spaghetti by WonderFil Threads.
These 4-patch blocks were pieced with squares from a charm pack from Diamond Textiles and leftovers from jackets I made with these fabrics. These yarn-dyed cotton fabrics are rich with texture. Some have a pronounced plaid or check while others have a more subtle pattern. A few have a brushed surface. They all whisper, "comfort."

My original ideas was to combine the 4-patches with wool appliqué blocks.
Auditioning the 4-patch blocks with wool appliqué.
But there needed to be a better dialog between the brighter colors of the wool and the 4-patch blocks.

Enter: 12 wt. thread (Spaghetti from WonderFil Threads) and decorative stitches!
Sewing across the seams with decorative stitches.
Putting my sewing machine's built-in decorative stitches to work not only started the "color conversation" but it was fun to experiment with fabric pattern and stitch combinations.
Decorative machine stitches using 12 wt. thread.
WonderFil's 12 wt. cotton thread holds its own. The decorative stitches add detail and color to the blocks. I do like to "spin" the seam allowances at the intersection of the 4-patch blocks (see photo below). This makes a flatter seam and easier sewing of the decorative stitches across the intersection. You will be thankful you used this seam allowance technique when you get to the quilting step, too.
Spinning the seam allowances on the 4-patch blocks.

I am pleased with how this sprinkling of decorative stitches is adding a wonderful new flavor to my 4-patch blocks. 
4-patch blocks with decorative machine stitches in 12 wt. threads.

Hey there, blog stalker: do you add decorative stitches to your patchwork or appliqué?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

"From Field to Fabric" presentation at the Choo Choo Quilters guild

As a fabric strategist and sales representative, I often find myself digging deeper into various aspects of the fabric industry to either answer a question from a fellow quilter, student or a shop owner, or to just gain a better understanding of this field for myself.
"From Field to Fabric," a presentation about cotton fabric production.
My slide presentation, "From Field to Fabric," is a compilation of the research I did to address the question, "Is there a difference between "quilt-shop quality" fabric and that "stuff" from the big box stores?" After some research, an examination of the production processes, and embarking on an undercover mission to test the theory (which I tell about in my presentation), I can provide a heartfelt and resounding, "YES, there is!"

I'll be presenting "From Field to Fabric" at the Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting on Monday. The presentation covers a brief history of cotton, the fabric manufacturing processes—from weaving through printing and finishing—and I point out things that can affect quality. This weekend, I also updated the presentation to include the digitally printed fabrics that have entered the quilting market.

Ever wonder how cotton fibers are magically transformed into the lovely quilting fabrics we find at the quilt shops? I'm sharing findings from my investigation at the next guild meeting.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Want to start sewing with knits? Consider these tips

Hooray for the home sewers and garment makers! More quilt shops and independent sewing centers are offering knit fabrics these days. The knits from Art Gallery Fabrics (AGF) have been my go-to favorites for the past year and I have an AGF knit top for every day of the week—long and short sleeves.
Make a knit top for every day of the week! Fabrics from Art Gallery Fabrics (AGF).
Lately, quite a few quilt shop owners have decided to make the leap into offering knits in their stores, and have asked me, "what prints or colors should I start with?" Here are a few tips to consider.

Veronica's thoughts: The basic white shirt
Like the "little black dress," the "white shirt" is a staple for anyone's wardrobe. Personally, I don't think you can have too many white shirts in your closet because they are so versatile.
Knit tops: Pandalicious (left) and Etno (right) prints from AGF.
A white shirt goes with any other print or color you might wear in a jacket, skirt or pants. It can be dressed up with a blazer or be paired with jeans for a classic casual look. A white knit top is also a good backdrop to showcase a colorful scarf or unique piece of jewelry.

Want more color?
If you want to entertain more color, Art Gallery has plenty of multi-color florals, prints and solids that can mix and match with sweaters, jackets, skirts or pants—in classic and on-trend colors. Hey, if your personality can pull off bold colors and a wild or wacky print—go for it! Life is too short.
A variety of knits from AGF: florals, geometrics, stripes in light, medium and dark colors.

What's your sewing skill level?
Another consideration I discuss with shop owners is the skill level of those who will be sewing with these fabulous new fabrics. For the beginner garment sewer, all-over prints like large and small florals, a print with a randomly placed design motif, and solids are great choices.
K-47701 "Capped Dim" in knit
from the Forest Floor collection by Bonnie Christine for AGF.
With stripes, plaids or a directional print, a pattern layout might require extra fabric and/or careful sewing to match stripes or plaids at side and shoulder seams. You also wouldn't want the stripes running slightly uphill across your garment (unless this is an intended design statement!). All-over prints and solids are more forgiving for a beginner project.
K-4608 "Stitched Road Beryl"
from the Emmy Grace collection by Bari J for AGF.

The "Big Picture" from Walter's vantage point
I posed the knit question to Walter Bravo, President of AGF. Since AGF ships to quilt shops and sewing centers across the country—urban, suburban, rural, coastal, inland and areas in between—the answer is dependent on different factors. He suggests the following considerations:
Knit outfit (far left) and other childrenswear pieces
from the Little Town collection by Amy Sinibaldi for AGF.
  • Will the knits be used for childrenswear or adult garments? Consider the scale of the print.
  • Do you embrace color and print or are you more conservative? 
  • Prints and motifs can be a reflection of lifestyle and the part of the country in which people live (or have lived)—like the southwest or near the ocean.
  • The choice of a color and print can reflect a culture or heritage, an urban vs. a country environment, or for casual or corporate attire.
Hooded knit jacket. Made by the talented staff at Stitchers Playhouse.
Childrenswear featuring Buck Forest from the Hello Bear collection.
Made by the talented staff at Bernina in Stitches.
Art Gallery Fabrics has an immense selection of knit fabrics—prints, solids and new yarn-dyed stripes. Contact your local quilt shop or sewing center and ask them about knit fabrics.
Art Gallery knits awaiting my next sewing project.
Coincidentally, the March 2018 issue of Threads magazine has an article on how to adapt sewing patterns for wovens so you an use them with knits. The cover photo features an AGF knit from the Indie Bohème collection by Pat Bravo. Does it get any better than this?!
March 2018 issue of Threads magazine features an article
 about using woven patterns with knit fabrics.
Cover photo: AGF knit from Indie Bohème collection.

Knits: they're not just for garments
While you might immediately think of T-shirts and tops when you think about knit fabrics, you can also use knits for home dec, accessories and other quilting and stitching projects. Check out the Art Gallery Fabrics LookBooks for additional inspiration.

So, what are you waiting for? Run to your local independent quilt and fabric shop, fall in love with knits and make something!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

What's in your Super [Stitching] Bowl today?

It's Super Bowl Sunday. 
Whether you're a football fan, have a team in the game that you're pulling for [or against!], or are a football widow(er)... if you're also a maker, chances are you'll be stitching something while you're watching/listening to/avoiding today's broadcast. 

So, what kind of stitching will you be doing today?
Wool appliqué, yarn-dyed wovens [Diamond Textiles],
quilting cottons [Art Gallery Fabrics].
Decorative hand stitching on wool appliqué (above). Hand stitching a purse frame to an eyeglass case (below).
"Try it Out" eyeglass case kit from The Textile Pantry.
Creating a ruched embellishment.
Ruched embellishment [The Textile Pantry].
Adding the buttons to a jacket.
Jacket detail: button loops, yarn-dyed brushed cotton and ikat [Diamond Textiles].
Hemming and finishing a sleeve lining.
Sleeve lining. Enclosing the seam allowances.
Free-motion embroidery by machine.
Free-motion embroidery. WonderFil Threads. Adornit ArtPlay embroidery.
Fabric from Diamond Textiles and Art Gallery Fabrics.
 Hand embroidery and kantha stitching.
"Sunshine Girl" ArtPlay embroidery [Adornit].
Yarn dyed cotton fabric for background from Diamond Textiles.
Serging a knit garment.
Knit top from self-drafted pattern. Knit from Art Gallery Fabrics.
Or, perhaps you'll be doing a bit of "un-stitching." This is a vintage quilt top I'm using as inspiration for a Guild Challenge.
Vintage quilt top. ChattMQG "Cut it Up" Guild Challenge.
Whatever your stitching mojo involves, fill up a Bowl with Super, colorful threads and sumptuous stitching goodies and have a Super Stitching Super Bowl Sunday!
A bowl of Super Stitching goodness.

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