Category Archives: machine applique

A Spot of Green . . .

. . . in honor of St Patrick’s Day. It’s rather nice to be thinking about St. Paddy’s Day and not about the self-confinement the Dear Husband I have entered as part of our responsibility to help flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve read a lot of posts today about how people are coping and I deeply appreciate the perspective that Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home brings to the situation. She lives in France some 5,000 miles way from my home in Portland, Oregon but we are definitely on the same page.

So back to the wearin’ of the green, or rather the sewin’ of the green:

That’s the last of the 20 roofs on my Dresden Neighborhood quilt (based on the pattern of the same name by Persimon Dreams).

I stitched all the roofs using the blanket stitch on my new Janome 9450QCP sewing machine. I confess: it was harder than I expected. Not because my machine is new. No, it’s because I’ve never machine appliquéd with a blanket stitch before! How did I get to this advanced age without learning that skill?

I had to practice — a lot — on scraps before attempting it on my funky little neighborhood. The most difficult part was stitching around the sharp corners. I couldn’t find a decent tutorial on how to do that so I fiddled with the points, trying different approaches until I was satisfied. And I matched my thread with the roof to minimize the imperfections.


See that zebra print roof above at about the 8:00 position? It’s the only roof that’s rounded and it was very easy going around it with the blanket stitch. Had I known that when I was cutting out the roofs, I would have made more of them rounded!

Uh-oh. There’s a dark smudge just to the left of the roof in the 11:00 position, made of the same zebra fabric. Here’s a close-up:


I have no idea how it got there. It definitely wasn’t there when I stitched around the roof. I tried dabbing it with a wet Q-tip but it looks like ink. The next time you see this there will probably be a chimney covering that sooty-looking spot. How appropriate.

What’s left? Doors and windows; a circle appliquéd in the center; and then it’s time to sandwich and quilt my little neighborhood.

As I was sewing the last roof on, the name for my quilt-in-progress popped into my head: Uptown Funk.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, family, Janome 9450QCP, machine applique, update, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 5 Comments

March Madness

Hooray — March is here! Spring is on its way! In celebration of my favorite season of the year, I’m working on a new project featuring the quintessential color of spring: green, of course. My favorite color.

You’re probably wondering why on earth I’ve started something new when I have so many Works-in-Progress and Unfinished Objects (aka WIPs and UFOs) on hand. All I can say in my defense is that a) I like working on multiple projects at once, and b) there’s a method to my madness.

Before I explain, let me show you the new project:

I’m building a wonky neighborhood using the pattern Dresden Neighborhood by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. The wedges are made with a Dresden plate ruler, hence the name of the pattern. Isn’t my little neighborhood cute? The houses will have wonky doors and windows, and the raw edges in the center will be covered by an appliquéd circle.

Here’s Kim’s version as shown on her pattern cover:

I came across the pattern last year and bought it right away. After looking at some clever and charming versions recently on Instagram and Pinterest, I decided to jump in and create my own version. I’m also working on a couple of large quilts so the idea of a small (24″ square finished) project has great appeal. That’s one reason.

The houses in this little neighborhood are meant to be embellished with decorative machine stitches, especially around the roofs. Late last year I upgraded my Janome sewing machine to the Horizon Memory Craft 9450 QCP model. I am absolutely loving some of the new features but haven’t yet played around with the decorative stitches. This project is the perfect jumping off point. That’s the second reason.

And the third reason? I’m going to be teaching a “Wonky Dresden Neighborhood” class in June. (I teach at Montavilla Sewing Center’s Lake Oswego store.) This is going to be my store sample so I have some extra motivation to finish it up as soon as possible and get it on display. Hardly a burden. I can’t wait to get back to it!

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, home dec, machine applique, update | 8 Comments

More Quilty Inspiration . . .

. . . coming to you from the streets of Portugal.

It’s been a week since we flew back to the states from Portugal. Fortunately, I have many memories and lots of photos to remind me of the delightful time my husband and I spent cruising the Douro River and the many shore excursions we took to medieval hill towns and modern cities. Everywhere we went, images appeared that made me think of quilt blocks, appliqué designs, and even free motion quilting motifs.

When we got to Lisbon, our final destination in Portugal, the amount of gorgeous tile work I was seeing made my head spin. These three designs were on the walkway outside our hotel:


This one was on the floor of the main entrance to the hotel:


On the north bank of the Tagus River near the Monument to the Discoveries there’s a huge tile wind rose and map of the world charting Portuguese explorations. The map is embellished by wonderful designs that would look right at home on a quilt:

We visited the National Tile Museum dedicated to the azulejo, a glazed colored tile traditionally used in Spanish and Portuguese buildings. The museum houses examples dating from the 15th century to today. With the battery in my cell phone running low I took very few pictures but they’re enough to give you a sense of what I was seeing:

Tile work from the 21st century evoking a sampler quilt (a modern take on Dear Jane, perhaps?):

Half square triangles! Four-patch kaleidoscope blocks!

Inside the cafe at the museum:

Looking for the restrooms? They’re in this hallway:

Taking a city bus back to our hotel, we spied more contemporary tile work that may well have been made by the same artists whose work we saw at the museum:

Looking at these photos makes me very eager to get back to my various and sundry quilting projects. I hope to have something to show you very soon.

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, appliqué, Dear Jane, faux-kaleido quilts, free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, machine applique, needleturn appliqué, update | 9 Comments

In a Bind

I’m not really in a bind. I’ve just spent part of the last three days binding two quilts. I really enjoy the process of finishing a quilt by hand-stitching the binding. I’m not bothered by the amount of time it takes; I’m content with either sitting in my sewing room listening to music or settling down in the TV room with a movie I’ve watched so many times I hardly need to look at the screen. I did some of each over the weekend.

My movie of choice was Lonesome Dove, with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s actually a miniseries from 1989 based on (and very faithful to) Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, which I have read not once but twice. I had this picture on my bulletin board at work for many years:

Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in Lonesome Dove
Robert Duvall as Gus McRae and Tommy Lee Jones as Woodrow Call in Lonesome Dove

 

I never noticed before how many quilts were used in Lonesome Dove. Watching this beloved movie again while working on a quilt of my own making was a double pleasure.

Here’s a look at Sunrise Bow-tique, one of the quilts I bound over the weekend:

Sunrise Bow-tique, 33.5" x 42"
Sunrise Bow-tique, 33.5″ x 42″

 

I wrote about the quilt top in a post last month called Batik Bowties, which you can read here. The top features bowtie blocks with machine appliquéd knots. In the alternating blocks I used an ombre fabric that gradates from pale yellow to burnt sienna.

Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting quilted an allover design of spirals, some with sun rays emanating from them, very much in keeping with the colors and name of my quilt. I’m so pleased with her quilting! Here’s a close-up:

Sunrise Bow-tique, detail 600

I found this fabric in my stash that seemed perfect for the back:

Back of Sunrise Bow-tique
Back of Sunrise Bow-tique

 

This close-up shows more of Nancy’s quilting:

Sunrise Bow-tique, detail of back
Sunrise Bow-tique, detail of back

 

I still need to take photos of my other newly-finished quilt, Cosmic Kaleidoscopes. I hope you’ll stop by later this week for a look at it.

 

 

 

Posted in bowties, gradated fabric, machine applique, update | 6 Comments

Batik Bowties

Here is a little top I just finished that features raw-edge machine appliqué in the bowtie blocks and a gradated fabric in the alternating blocks and setting triangles:

gradated-bowtie
Raw-edge machine appliqué is a technique I avoided for years because of concerns about fabric fraying around the edges. Then in October, Nicole of Sister’s Choice Quilts wrote about machine appliqué using Steam-a-Seam-2, a double-sided fusible web. I’ve used Steam-a-Seam-2 on other projects but not in combination with machine appliqué. Nicole reports that she has never had a problem with frayed edges and proved it by showing pictures of one of her quilts that’s been washed multiple times. Based on Nicole’s photos, comments, and excellent instructions (see them here), I decided to give machine appliqué a try.

I chose the bowtie block, one of my all-time favorites, which I’ve always made the traditional way using Y-seams. Y-seams are a little time-consuming but the results are wonderful. (A note to those of you who avoid Y-seams like the plague: I have my own little trick in sewing them, which I will share in a future tutorial).

The bowtie blocks shown above came together much more quickly: each block is a simple four-patch with a contrasting square for the knot, fused in place and finished with a blanket stitch. The fastest bowtie block ever!

Here’s a close-up of a block with the fused knot . . .

bowtie block before 400-001

. . . and the same block with the blanket stitch added:

bowtie block after 400
Here’s the same block from the back:

bowtie block from the back 400
When I made the four-patch blocks, I rotated or “popped” the seam allowances open, allowing the four connecting seams to be pressed in the same clockwise direction. This gives each block a nice flat center — an important consideration when you are fusing another layer of fabric to it.

For the alternating blocks I chose an ombre fabric from the Daiwabo Collection by E. E. Schenck that gradates from a pale lemony yellow to a burnt sienna. Because the alternating blocks are set on point, I had to cut them on the bias to achieve the gradated effect.

The result is Bow-tique Sunrise, a colorful, quirky little quilt. It measures 35″ x 43″, and the blocks are 6″ square. Instead of adding borders, I’m going to finish it as is, binding it in the multicolored batik featured in the bowtie blocks. Don’t you think it will make a cute baby quilt?

 

 

 

Posted in bowties, gradated fabric, machine applique, update | 1 Comment