Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tips, Tricks, and Tuts Tuesday - Quilt Backings

Let's talk about Quilt Backings on today's Tips, Tricks, and Tuts Tuesday.  What do you do for your quilt backings?

I used to be a strict, rigid, matchy, matchy quilt backing person.  I would buy matching yardage for the back to match the front.  While that is perfectly okay and I still do that sometimes, there are other options for quilt backings.

My latest favorite is pieced backings.  There are a whole host of options and ways to piece a quilt backing but I'll show you a few that Victoriana Quilt Designs posted on Pinterest.  There is no need to re-invent the wheel and she gave permission to share on blogs as long as its linked back to her.

Backing #1 is just simply leftover fabrics in a 4 patch.  They don't have to be the same size.  If I'm guessing I might say the four patches were the same size but after quilting, the quilt wasn't centered so therefore you get this look.    And speaking of centering a quilt top on a backing... It is almost impossible for a longarm-er to center a quilt top to a backing.  Different patterns "shrink at different rates therefore making it difficult to center a top to a backing.  A good longarm-er can get close though.  I've used this method lots of times.

Backing #2 is a neat way to add just a little bit to the length and width without just adding a strip to the top and side.  I like it.  I haven't used this one yet but no doubt I will one day.


Backing #3 is not a favorite of mine because it requires some centering of the quilt top to the backing.  Remember what I said about that.  It makes it challenging for a longarm-er.


Backing #4 is another one I've used a lot of times.  A width of fabric down the middle and then split the outer fabric needed in half.  Adding the strips just gives it some variety.


Backing #5 is another good one to use up the scraps.  It requires a little more time to piece the strip.  Another variation is to make a few of the quilt blocks that are on the front and piece them together in a strip.


Backing #6 is another variation of using up the scraps.  I've done this a few times also.  I usually just cut 2 1/2" or 3 1/2" strips and piece them end to end.  Sometimes I vary it a little by making a row of 2 1/2" ones and then a row of 3 1/2" ones; alternating back and forth.  


One of my all time favorites is wide back quilt backings.  They are quick and easy!  The hardest thing about a wide back is getting it square since it's wider than your 24" ruler.  You can read about it here on how I square my wide backings.  Another tip about wide backing or pieced ones for that matter is this.  If the backing fabric feels stiff, beware!  Unless you like a hard scratchy quilt.  Buy a small amount and take it home and pre-wash it to see if it softens up.  Sometimes they will and sometimes they won't.  Ask me how I know that!  I bought a piece of wide backing thinking the stiffness would wash out.  It DIDN'T!!!  And no one likes to use the quilt because it's hard and scratchy.  Ugh!  

One last time on backings.  If you're taking it to a longarm quilter, make sure your backing is AT LEAST 6" - 8" wider (more if you have it) and longer than the quilt top.  You cannot expect great results from the longarm quilter if the backing is too short.  It's necessary to clamp on to to stabilize the quilt to quilt it.  It also needs to be square.  If you piece backings together, the edges must be even.  Even if you're just sewing two strips together. When you get to the end and have uneven edges, trim them so they are square.  If it looks like this, it isn't square.


So there you have it.  Get creative and use up your scraps or bust your stash on your backings from Tips, Tricks, and Tuts Tuesday-Quilt Backings.  

  


  

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Handmaids Postcard Challenge & Tutorial

Janet at Joy Studio and creator of some awesome fabric lines like She Who Sews, and Draw Near, and Angel Band, to name a few, is having a Handmaids Postcard Challenge and Exchange.  I jumped off the deep end and decided to participate.  What was I thinking?  I'm right smack dab in the middle of a move.  I barely know where my sewing machine is let alone some of the She Who Sews fabric.  But it sounded fun and there were prizes involved.  I only needed to make 2.

You might remember from my Facebook posts or Quilt Market posts that I met J. Wecker Fresch at Quilt Market last fall in Houston.  It was so exciting and something I'll not likely forget.  You can read about it here.

 Now I've never made a fabric postcard but how hard could it be?  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was pretty darn easy.  The hardest part was finding my supplies and deciding what I was going to do.  I decided on a crazy quilt theme.

Here's what you'll need to make a fabric postcard.

2 - 5" x 7" fusible web (like Wonder Under or Steam A Seam 2)
1 - 5" x 7" Pellon Peltex (very stiff fusible interfacing)
1 - 5" x 7" light colored fabric for the address side of the postcard
Scraps or 5" x 7" fabric for the front of the postcard

I started by arranging my scraps on top of one of the 5" x 7" pieces of fusible web.  When I was happy with them, I ironed them to the fusible web.


Remove the paper backing and adhere (iron) to the Peltex.  Now go to the sewing machine and play with your decorative stitches.  I don't use my decorative stitches very often so it's fun when I can.

Trim to the size of the Peltex.  Set this aside and begin working on the back of the postcard.

I used a muslin for the back so the address would show up better.  According to the US Postal Service, you will need to write the word "postcard" on the postcard somewhere.  Not sure why that is, afterall, I would think it would be pretty obvious.  But never the less, I went to my embroidery machine and obliged them.  Then I embroidered my "theme"  Sew Crazy to be your friend.   I added a "divider" with some of the fabric by fussy cutting a piece of the tape measure and applique-ing it on.

I was a little disappointed after I ironed the backing to the wonder under.  I later figured out that the stablizer I used "shrank" when I applied steam to it.  Once I figured it out, I was able to fix it on the second postcard.  I could have embroidered my message and signature but I wanted to personalize it with my handwriting.


Now you're ready to fuse the front and the back together.  Trim the postcard to 4 1/2" x 6" (a standard size for post cards).  I used a satin stitch zig-zag around the outer edge to hold the 2 pieces together and ensure the fusing doesn't come apart with all the handling the postcard might go through at the post office. 

Here are both post cards after I signed them and addressed them to the recipients.  I used a pigma pen marker to write my message and addresses.


See that was pretty quick and easy.  I can't wait to get my postcard from the Handmaids Postcard Challenge and Exchange in the mail.  I wonder if I'll get it before I move?  I guess if not, the post office will forward it to me in IL.  





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Friday, February 20, 2015

The Queen and Her Court Crown Jewels

When I saw this Block of the Month almost 6 years ago, I knew I had to do it, if for no other reason than for the name; THE QUEEN AND HER COURT CROWN JEWELS.  After all, I had just become the "Quilting Queen".  I had just purchased my quilting machine and had been jokingly been given the name "The Quilting Queen".  The name stuck and I decided to use it as my business name.  

Ok, back to the block of the month.... I collected the pattern and fabrics each month and never started it.  You see, other than the name and the colors, I wasn't crazy about it.  It was made from batiks.  I don't really like batiks.   Do you?  Some of my friends just absolutely LOVE them but I don't.  They are stiff and they smell...  yes I know I can wash them and that helps with the softness and the smell but they are still stiff.  And as a long arm quilter, I really don't like to quilt them either.  If you have to rip out, it tends to leave needle marks in the batiks.  And when batiks first came out, most of what I was seeing were dull, dark, drab colors.  I don't particularly like dull, dark, or drab.  But this one wasn't.  It was bright and fun and pretty.  So I collected them each month. 

Two years ago I decided I was going to bust my UFO's so I got this one out and made a few blocks.



 But The Queen and Her Court Crown Jewels just wasn't keeping my attention... probably because of the batiks.  I kept finding other UFO's to work on and other projects to start that became UFO's.  Now I have to admit, since then, for whatever reason, batiks have grown on me a just a little.  So in 2015, I've decided I'm busting this UFO into a finished quilt.  










I've finished all 12 of the sampler blocks and I'm working on the middle block for the center of the quilt.  I've purchased my fusible web and I'm ready to trace the applique pieces.   If you're interested in the pattern, you can find it here.  I just might get The Queen and Her Court Crown Jewels finished before this year is up.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snowball Block Layouts

I posted yesterday HERE about my new ruler from Ruler Revolutions to make snowball blocks quick and easy.  I am using the snowball block with a quilt I'm making for the Addicted to Scraps column at Quiltmaker Magazine (You can read about it here on their blog).  I can't show you that particular layout yet but I can show you some Snowball Block Layouts that I played with in EQ.

The blocks is so versatile and so easy to make.

Here is a layout with a Card Trick block


A Shoe fly Block


The Flying Dutchman


Friendship Version 1


Look what happens when I change up the colors in Friendship block version 2


Of course it's hard to go wrong with a Nine patch block



Here's a version I found on Pinterest here 


Or this cute Chinese Lantern with the snowball block from Pinterest


Or this favorite from Pinterest  You know I'd love this one for the colors alone.

Be sure to visit this site.  There are several snowball layouts shown there.


Or another favorite with stars found here


So go have a snowball fight in your stash.... or in the snow if you have some.... a lot of us do.










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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tips, Tricks, and Tuts Tuesday - Snowball Blocks

A couple of months ago in this POST I talked about a new method I discovered for making snowball blocks.  It uses the ruler from Ruler Revolution and it is so easy.  So here's the ruler.


I'll show you today on Tips, Tricks, and Tuts Tuesday how to make this quick and easy snowball block.  I started by cutting a 6 1/2" background square and a 6 1/2" square from a colored fabric.  In my case it is red.  You don't have to use a 6 1/2" square, there are various sizes that will work with the ruler.

I'm using this marker to mark the lines on my fabric.  My favorite is the Frixion pen but the point of it wouldn't fit in the slots of the ruler so I went to my second favorite marking pen.  It's from Fons and Porter and works like a mechanical pencil.  You can get various colors of lead for it.  I have black in it for now.


You will want to mark your colored square.  You can mark the diagonal lines on the background square but don't cut it!  Ask me how I know that.  It wasn't a total loss, just a new block for another project.   Place the pencil in the slots and draw the diagonal lines across each corner and then the 4 lines going up and down and across.  The diagonal lines are the sewing lines and the up/down/across lines are cutting lines.



I didn't draw my cutting lines on every square.  I drew them of here for you to see.


Now sew on the diagonal lines across each corner.  I chain pieced my blocks.  Even if you're just doing one block, you can still chain piece.  Just left the pressure foot of your sewing machine and rotate the square to the next corner.


Now you're ready to cut.  If you drew the cutting lines, cut down through the middle and across the middle of the COLORED square.  If you don't draw the cutting lines, just eyeball them.  They don't have to be perfectly cut down through the middle.  There is a "fudge factor" built in, which is why this block is so easy.


Now snip off the corners, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.


Press the corners out to the colored square.


I found that if you don't have a 6 1/2" square but have a strip of fabric, it will work also.  Or if you have pre-cut 2 1/2 - 3 1/2" squares, they will work too.



Now the fun part begins.  You're ready to square the block up.  Using my 6 1/2" square up ruler, I lined the edges of the ruler up with the edges of  the background square.  


Trim off the excess 


And TA DA!  You have a perfect, easy peasy snowball block.  


There are 2 sizes of rulers.  A 3x3 works with any block that has a 9 patch layout and the 4x4 works with any block that has a 4 patch layout.  

Come back tomorrow and I'll show you some layouts I've been playing with using the snowball block. 

I'm linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts on her Let's Bee Social #60.  Go over Bee Social with the others posting.  



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