Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quality over Quantity

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I have a pretty epic finish to share with you.  But first I just have to say, I've decided to stop fighting with myself to keep this blog updated on a regular basis.  I will continue to try to be better about posting, but I will never be that blogger that posts a single sentence or a picture of my dinner because really?  That's what Instagram is for.  Amiright?

So anyway.  I've been feeling like I may be in a bit of a rut lately.  And I wanted to quilt some stuff that I could go absolutely nuts with.  I have several Latte Quilts to quilt.  One of them happens to be Helper Bee's quilt. 
None of the Latte quilts are anywhere near their turn on the waiting list, but I wanted to do one.  So I did!  I took 63 freakin pictures of this sucker, so it will be hard to narrow it down here.  But first I'll give a little explanation of how this quilt is made.
It is an embroidery quilt.  You take several embroidery designs to build blocks, and stitch them in sections.  Once you have your blocks embroidered, you put batting on the back and "quilt-as-you-go" with decorative stitches and stippling.  This is great in theory, but the latte quilt is made with satin and is really a true heirloom.  With the amount of time put into the construction (for us it was a year and a half long class), that just is not enough quilting for it to make the impact that it should.
I did try to warn everyone not to put the batting behind their blocks, as they would likely want me to quilt it for them anyway.  Few listened. 
So what I ended up with was a bunch of quilt tops that had batting sewn into the blocks (and into the seams which makes for some serious bulk), and a bunch of stippling on them.  Have I mentioned I don't like stippling except for in micro?
The other thing is that with it being satin and with it having batting sewn into the blocks, precision is really important, but also really difficult.  So this quilt had a lot (A LOT) of fullness to ease in.
Here it is pre-quilting.

Do you see how the corners are poofy?  That's because the borders are not long enough.  And the entire quilt had to be shrunk down to accommodate for that.  But anyway!  I added another layer of Pellon Legacy Poly batting (that stuff seriously rocks my socks) and started stitching away.  I did things a little differently this time in that rather than stitching in the ditch right off the bat, I basted the crap out of this quilt, outlined all the motifs first and then did some of my filler work to work in that fullness and flatten it out a bit, THEN I went in and did the ditching around the blocks, sashings and borders.
The biggest challenge with this quilt was all of that stippling she had done.  The quilt didn't photograph well on the frame at all for me to show you any of that.  But suffice to say that ALL of her stippling was coming out.  So I didn't have much choice but the stipple over it to hold it all in.  And then stipple over it again.  And then one more time in micro for good measure. 

The part that's glowing is the part that I had gotten the micro-stippling done.  White thread really glows in black light!

So I'm going to try to stop talking now and just show pictures of the quilt completed.  :O)
Micro-stippling all done from the back side

All of the blocks

Center medallion

PreTTy, preTTy settings!

Trying to decide if I would fill in those little spaces...

The whole thing...

That's a lot of quilting!

And a very happy Helper Bee!!

It didn't take nearly as long to quilt it as I thought it would.  Now I have a bunch more to do, but this one was sort of the test run.
I had another pretty awesome finish this week, but more on that later.  
Merry Christmas! And in case you missed it, don't forget to fill out the Quilty Survey for a chance to win some swag!

Quilty Survey and free stuff!!

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The ladies and gent over at Generation Q Magazine have asked me for a favor and I'm happy to pass this info on.  Last month they launched the GenQ 2012 Addicted Stitcher Survery to gather all of the facts and numbers about us!  Please take a few moments to answer the survey questions through the link at the bottom of this post.  The info gathered will help our wonderful industry people to support and create new products that we want.  There's even a bribe!!!!  Read on...

We last poked and probed into your fabricky lives in late 2011, with our GenQ Modern Quilters Survey. And now it’s time to do it again with the GenQ 2012 Addicted Stitcher Survey. (New name, same mission.) We’d like to count noses, pins, rotary cutters, whatever it takes to grab a detailed snapshot of this niche in the sewing and crafting world.

Some of you have pained expressions, and you’re probably sighing with annoyance at yet another attempt for the corporate q-niverse to stick its demographic-hungry noses into stuff that just isn’t its business. The truth is that all of us stitchy types thrive when our industry answers our needs. And that’s what this survey does. It helps to provide information to the industry so our needs, and wants, can be better met.

Please take a few minutes to whip through the survey (it’s shorter this year) and tell us all about you. And there could be swag in it for you. The survey will be live until the end of the December 2012, and on Jan. 1, 2013, we’ll choose FIVE lucky survey-takers who will each receive a box of fabric, books and small stitchy goodies valued at $50.

Just use this link to find your way to our 2012 Addicted Stitcher Survey. And please freely post it far and wide, encouraging your friends and sew-pals to also participate! Thank you so much for being a part of this second annual survey! And if you want to know more about what we do, check us out at

Stand up and be counted!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Glorious Autumn: Pumpkin Patch(work) Tutorial

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Heeeeellooooooooo (in my best Mrs. Doubtfire voice)!!!  I know it's been a while.  But more on that later.
For now, I have a cute little tutorial for the Glorious Autumn Block Party hosted by the wonderful Michele.  If you haven't already, you should go over and check out some of the awesome tutorials by some pretty awesome people!

Doing this block was a great excuse for me to spend my Sunday sewing in a feverish panic.  ;)  It's called Pumpkin Patch(work)! And it really goes together pretty quickly.

What you'll need:
 8 1/2" square for background
(3) 2 1/2" strips for corners
5 1/2 x 7 1/2" scrap for pumpkin applique
1 1/2 x 2 1/2" scrap for stem
(4) 1 x 13" strips for frame (I tend to use a very scant 1/4" seam allowance so my blocks always come out a little larger than the pattern calls for - which is okay as long as it's consistent.  I find it easier to cut the strips longer and trim them down once attached!)
Coordinating thread for applique and embroidery

To start:
 Sew together your 2 1/2" strips.  This will form a long strip set that measures 6 1/2" in width.  Sub-cut (2) 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" squares from the strip set.

Cut each of these units diagonally, corner to corner so you have four triangles.

This will be the layout of the main part of your block:

To sew the corners onto the center square, center them so that there is an equal amount of overlap on each side.

Repeat for the next three corners.

Now for the applique!  You can download the "pattern" here.  Except no!  To download from that link, you have to be a registered member of Scribd.  Oops!  You can download it here instead!
It totally looks like a butt, doesn't it?  I know.  Awesome.
Use your favorite applique method to apply the stem and pumpkin to the block.

I used a really easy turned applique method.  If you want to try my method, you will need some water soluble stabilizer (Floriani Wet N Gone or similar).
I cut the applique template out of paper and traced it directly onto the wrong side of my fabric.  I then sewed around my drawn shape with the fabric right sides together with the stabilizer.

Once you've completely sewn around the shape (with a backstitch at your start and stop), trim to a 1/8 - 1/4" seam allowance and clip the curves, then turn it over to the stabilizer side and cut a slit big enough to turn it right sides out.

Smooth out all the edges (which I had obviously not done yet!) and press your pumpkin.  Repeat for the stem and applique it to your block.

Next, add one of the 1" strips to each side of the block.  Trim it flush with the block, add the other two strips, then trim again.

I added a couple of free motion embroidered squigglies coming off of my pumpkin as well, just for the fun of it.

And you're done!
If you'd like to print this tutorial, you may do so with the "printer friendly" button on my sidebar.
And so that you can see what the block looks like in repeat, I made a little wall hanging.  What I like best about blocks like these is that they're so versatile.  You can change it up by changing the applique, or doing no applique at all and leave the center of the block for quilting motif.  Anyway, this will now go in the massive pile of things I need to get quilted!

I hope you'll check out the Glorious Autumn Flickr Group to see all the blocks the participants have made.  And check back soon! I've got a pretty spectacular customer quilt finish to share.  :O)