Let the handwork begin!!

Over the last 9 months I have been working on my color wheel quilt. A few weeks ago I posted about using the Pathagorean Theorum to calculate the size of the triangles needed to fill the corners.

Now the question was exactly what to add to the corners. In my original design, the outside circles were going to move in curvy lines…..

But, when I started laying out circles in different orientations, having curves in the outside drew the eye away from the center rather than toward it……

I had also considered making the darkest grey into a circle, but quickly decided that it wasn’t worth the effort!!!

After a lot more playing around……

…….I decided that a starburst effect would draw the eye to the middle……

At this point I realized that I needed a bit more fabric than I had on hand so, while I waited for UPS to make a drop to my door, I started making all of the circles. I found that the colors were much easier to pick since I had my fabrics folded so well. This was the basic way that I worked…..

SUCH luscious colors!!!!

You can check out this post where I tell how I prepared the circles.

Once the fabric arrived I made strip sets and then trimmed them down to a size that was a few inches larger than the final product…..

Now I needed to transfer the circle pattern onto each of the 4 fabric triangles. I started by tracing the triangle onto the fabric and adding the straight radiating lines. Next step was to trace the circles onto the fabric……

Final step was to baste each of the circles into place….

Then it was time to put it up on the design wall…..

Happily, I am pleased with how this looks!!!

So, now every night will find me sitting in my chair and appliquéing circles!!!

LET THE FUN TIMES BEGIN!!!

Circling around for the perfect circle…..

After a week of experimenting, I think that I have finally found the way to prepare perfect circles for hand appliqueing…..read on to see my technique……

Last week, I talked about my plans for the center of my Color Wheel quilt….you can read about the decision process here. Now it was time to put the idea into effect which meant preparing LOTS of circles for hand applique.

When I was at Houston last year I spent a few minutes listening to Karen Kay Buckley talk about her method of preparing applique pieces before sewing. I not only listened, but did a little retail therapy, coming home with a bunch of her templates including two sizes of “Perfect Circles”……

Karen’s templates are made from Templar which means that you can iron on them and they will not melt and can be used over and over….all VERY good things!!

I started with the smallest circle, thinking that I knew EXACTLY what to do. Well, the finished circle had lots of little points and dips and was not circular at all. Okay….let’s start over and try a few different things!! After having made almost half of the needed circles, I now have a fairly good protocol!!!

Getting it ready……

I first placed the template on the reverse side of the fabric and made numerous dots around the template so that I would know where the circle would go……

On the first few, I drew in the entire circle but realized that I was just making more work for myself to remove all of those heavy lines…..so dots it is!!!

Next step is to sew a running stitch around the circle…..

I tried using the sewing machine to sew around the larger circles, but it never looked as good as hand stitching. Also, I had originally pulled the thread knot all the way thru but found it was better to leave BOTH strands of thread loose so that I could gather from either side. ALSO, it is important to both start and end the stitching on the FRONT side of the fabric.

I took it to the ironing board and brushed Magic Sizing on the outside edge of the circle…..

Originally I had sprayed the entire circle but decided that it was unnecessary and just made a bigger mess…….

Now For the Magic……

I put the template in the middle of the fabric circle and started gently pulling BOTH of the threads until the fabric gathered around the perfect circle template…..

While holding the two gathering stitch ends tightly, I pressed the edge of the circle until it was dry, then moving the iron carefully over the gathers until it dried as well. After flipping the template over, I did a final press of the circle……

Removing the template…..

Before taking the template plastic out of the circle, I learned that it was SUPER important for the entire circle (and template) to be cool. Then I loosened the gathers close to the string tails and pulled out the template, leaving something that did NOT look like a perfect circle……

The final step was to carefully pull on BOTH of the thread tails until the edges laid down again…..

The first few times I did this, I pulled too hard and misshaped the circle again, so be GENTLE!!!

When it was back in perfect shape, I turned it over again and gave the front one final pressing.

The result is one PERFECT CIRCLE!!!!!……

I know that these don’t look round but I promise that they are. The pinning distorts how they look in the photo!!!

So, the current status is 50 circles made and 58 to go!!!

As I am working on these, I am starting to think about what fabric I want to put in the middle of the quilt and I am toying with the idea of a black gradation that gets lighter as it moves to the middle of the piece. And that means that I am going to have to dye it myself….of course it cant be easy!!!

And then I have to actually applique all of these circles!!!

Applique the “Piece O’ Cake” way….

 

Last month I was able to attend a one day workshop presented by Becky Goldsmith of Piece O’ Cake designs.  If you have read this blog for ANY length of time, you will know that I am not big on hand work but I really wanted to spend more time with Becky so decided to take the class.

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Becky had a wonderful set up that allowed us to see everything that she did and to easily follow her instructions.

She walked us thru the process of making the templates, marking the fabrics, preparing a layout guide and finally doing the actual sewing.

As we worked thru the day, I  (yes I) started getting excited about trying some hand applique!!!

One of the most interesting things about her presentation was the way that the needle is held……

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Now in this photo, I am holding a toothpick, but it allows you to better see how the needle is positioned to make the stitch. 

Per Becky’s suggestion, I am using a stick on thimble pad on my index finger and also have a stick on metal  thimble on the bottom finger…..

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The top one is great for stitching and the needle bounces off of the bottom thimble and makes it easier to bring the needle back up thru the fabric.

She also had some needles for us to try and they were wonderful!!!…..

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SO, I came home and decided to put it to the test.  

I modified her technique a bit and used freezer paper for my templates rather than encasing the paper templates in laminate and then cutting them out.  I then ironed the template onto the fabric and used a pencil or blue wash-out pen to draw around them…..

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Becky also encouraged us to not worry about how wide our line was.  Instead she really wanted us to be able to see it…..

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After the pieces are cut out and ready for applique, you start by finger pressing around the drawn line, trying to keep the line as part of the seam allowance…..

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The piece is placed on the background, using a pattern drawn onto clear vinyl….

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After pinning it in place, you stitch the piece from the top of the applique, working from right to left.  You fold the seam allowance and the left hand holds it in place while you stitch.

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Now comes the other of Becky’s great tips……she uses a toothpick to fold the fabric under, sometimes “patting” it in place rather than folding it under.   She encouraged us to wet the toothpick first so it would grab the fabric better.  This is SO much easier than using the needle as it is larger and it also doesn’t tend to shred the fabric as much.

Here is my finished applique piece…..photo

It is by no means perfect, but it is MUCH better than anything that I have ever done before.   I think that it is the use of the toothpick and also the way of holding the needle that has made the difference for me.

One thing that I loved about Becky is that she puts detailed videos on her website so that you can go and easily see her technique.  You might want to check it out at…..  http://www.pieceocake.com/Lessons/LessonsFromPOC-AppliqueTechniques.html

Now to try another piece and see if I can improve my technique!!!!

Frances is doing handwork????

Say it isn’t so!!!!!

Yes, I have finally become tired of not having anything to do with my hands while Michael and I are watching TV at night.  Many times I sit with my computer in my lap but it is so easy to get so completely engrossed in what I am doing that I lose the time with my husband, not to mention that it is almost impossible to concentrate on whatever we are watching.

I was sitting at my local quilt shop and saw this cute pattern….

6102QZQauOL._SS500_ ……and simply couldn’t resist it!!!

I know the basics of doing applique but it is obvious that I need to refine my technique. 

For the first block, I cut the pieces out of freezer paper, used starch to fold the raw edges under and then hand-stitched them to the background.  So far this has worked fairly well, and hopefully I will get better at rounding the corners smoothly!!!!

Here is the first block……

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I am thinking about making 4 or 9 of these, piecing them into a small wall hanging and then using my new found beading skill to add interest (and maybe hide a few flaws).

More to come!!!!!!

Escada Azul

 

Wow, I just had a very fun 3 day weekend….it is sad to see it past!!!   On Friday, I mailed my Sunflower quilt to the East Cobb Quilt Guild show in Atlanta,  where it will be judged next Monday and then hung the following Thursday.  I am looking forward to seeing it hanging in this wonderful show.

On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I worked on several different projects and truly enjoyed spending long hours in my studio.

The prize of the weekend was finishing the blue stair quilt that I showed a couple of posts back.  It is now named “Escada Azul” (Blue Stairs)……

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Here is the photo that the quilt was based on……

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As with most of my pieces, I learned a lot about myself!!  I ended up doing a lot of applique to set the piece together and found that I enjoyed the hand work.  I also had one piece that didn’t l0ok right but I had decided that it was “good enough”.  I thought about it during the night and went in first thing Monday morning and ripped the piece out and re-did it, being much happier with the result.

I also quilted a wallhanging for a friend who is in a time crunch trying to get her booth ready for the upcoming Atlanta show.    I still find it nerve racking to quilt for another quilter….someone who KNOWS what it is supposed to look like!!!

Oh well, so much for the Holiday….now it is on to Accounting work!!!