Perfect Circles…every time!!

A few of the quilts I am working on have one thing in common: lots and lots of circles!  Let me tell you about “Perfect Circles”, a product that should be in every quilters toolbox.  I would not attempt to make an appliqued circle without them!   “Perfect Circles” is a set of Mylar circles that range in size from 1/2″ – 2″ in diameter.

They are very easy to use but over the years I have come up with a few tips that I would like to share with you.  The very first (and most important) tip is that when you have a lot of circles (like 98!) you need some sort of motivation!!  I am prepping my fifth block of Sue Garman’s Friends of Baltimore and just about fainted when I saw  98 fairly small circles!

So I came up with a plan.  Every time I completed 20 tiny purple circles, I would reward myself with a few chocolate covered cranberries!!  Let’s be honest…chocolate covered anything would work!!

Here are the steps I use to make my circles:

1.  Trace the circle on to the wrong side of the fabric.  You can layer your fabric and cut more than one circle at a time.

2.  Cut the circle out leaving a decent 1/4 inch seam allowance.

3.  Thread a needle with some contrasting thread.  Take your first stitch so that the knot is on the right side of the fabric.  (This is  important!)

4.  Do a running stitch around the circle, halfway between the raw edge and the traced line.  Don’t go too close to the edge or your seam allowance will shred into nothing-ness! (Trust me!)

5.  Take your last stitch so that the needle comes out on the right side of the fabric, right beside the knot from where you started.  (This is important!)

6.  Gently pull the thread so that the seam allowance gathers around the Perfect Circle.  I like to pull the thread towards myself.

7.  Use a paint brush in  your left hand to dab some spray starch onto the seam allowance.  It should be moist, not wet.  You should still be holding onto the thread with your right hand.  Take a breath at some point!

8.  With your left hand, use your mini-iron to press the seam allowance flat against the Perfect Circle. You should still be holding the thread tight.  Turn the circle over and press with your iron to make sure that the fabric is absolutely dry.

9.  Very gently, pry open the circle where the knot and thread meet.  Remove template.

10.  Very gently, pull the thread so that the seam allowance lies perfectly flat again.

11.  Knot the thread or take a few back stitches to make sure the seam allowance stays in place.

12. Clip the thread and  press  one last time!  Isn’t it perfect??

13. Repeat 20 times and have some chocolate!!!

72 little circles later!

It took me a while but I finally stitched all 72 Perfect Circles on my Feathered Star blocks!

I spent some time playing around with a few different settings.  I have decided to  add a 1 1/2″  pink sashing between the blocks. It is the same pink fabric as the circles.  I do think the blocks could stand a little bit of applique.  I was thinking a tiny sprig of flowers coming out of where the sashing comes together.  We will see!! 

Here are a few of the other fabrics that I will add to this quilt.  The multi-colour stripe will definately be the binding!

Roseville….moving right along!

I have finished another block of Roseville!

These blocks are going together soooo quickly!!   The pattern pieces are fairly big and not at all complicated.  Although I am a huge fan of needleturn applique, I am using the freezer paper and starch method for this quilt.  I first saw Pearl Pereira of P3 Designs demonstrating this technique at The Applique Academy three years ago.   Pearl made this technique look very easy so I gave it a try.  The following year, I took a 3-day class with Pearl at The Applique Academy and I have never looked back.  I love being able to glue  the entire block in place before stitching.  So…when I say these blocks are finished, they aren’t exactly “finished”!  The blocks are glued in place and are just waiting to be stitched in place.  No edges to turn under because they are already turned under!  Just remember, everyone has their favourite “right” way of doing things.  Take the time to try different techniques of applique and find the one that works for you!

The fabric I am using for this quilt is “Summer House” by Lily Ashbury.  Some of the prints lend themselves to fussy cutting.  I fussy cut the circles for the vase from this fabric.

Here is a close-up of the circles on the vase.

Feathered Star Quilt

I had my day all planned….. I would sit by the window hand-quilting Amy’s quilt, sipping tea and listening to my new audiobook that I downloaded. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Well, Bruin had other plans for the quilt!  So I thought it was best to let sleeping kitties sleep! What else could I do?

I decided that I would dig out my Challenge blocks from a few years ago.  These blocks have been calling my name for a while and I cannot resist them any longer!  There are nine blocks in total and they are 18″ square.  My thought at the time was just to make the blocks and then see if they speak to me!!  (Believe it or not, some of my best conversations are between my quilts and I!!)  I sat and stared at them for a bit (while I sipped my tea!) and I have actually come up with a plan!!

I noticed that the yellow points of the stars do not show up like I thought they would.  My first thought was to  rip them out and replace them with blue points.  You know, I just didn’t see that happening!  My next thought was to applique a circle on to each of the yellow points.  So after auditioning a dark, medium and light pink circle, I decided I liked the subtleness of the light pink circles.  I am using Karen Kay Buckley’s “Perfect Circles”.

So I started to cut out 72 (yikes!) pink circles and I am now in the process of stitching them on to each yellow diamond.  So far I love it!

The next step will be to stitch the blocks together in three rows of three.

Once that is done, I will applique something pretty in the white spaces between the Feathered Stars.  And then, of course, it will need an appliqued border which I have percolating in my head!  And I do picture a scalloped outer border  with a stripey binding!!

But for now, I am appliqueing 72 (yikes!)  little circles!!

Hand-quilting….sooooo relaxing!!

In between working on my Roseville blocks (and a few other quilts in progress), I am hand-quilting  Amy and Bruce’s wedding quilt.  They will be getting married on September 1 (of this year!) so I better get stitching!

I find hand-quilting (like all hand work) very relaxing.  I tell myself that I will just sit and quilt  for a few minutes, but before I know it, a few hours have slipped by!  Of course, having the right tools makes a huge difference.  Just remember, what works for one quilter may not work for all quilters!  So…take the time to try different brands of needles, thread, scissors and batting. Find those tools that work for you.

Here are a few tools that work for me:

John James Size 10 Big Eye Quilting needles.  They are smooth and very sharp.  And the big eye is a bonus for easy threading!

A hoop to hold the quilt layers tight.  I have always used a  hoop to support the quilt while I am stitching the three layers together.  I have even quilted a king-sized quilt using a hoop.  The secret is to have lots of basting!!

Gingher scissors.  I treated myself to a pair of Gingher scissors for my last birthday!  They curve upward at the end so that I will not snip (another!) hole in a quilt!

Various thimbles.  “Various” because every time I sit down to quilt, the thimble I used last time  just doesn’t feel right!

Hand-quilting thread.  I like Dual Duty Plus because it is a cotton/polyester blend and it glides through the layers really well.  I also like YLI hand-quilting thread.

100% wool quilt batt.  I am using “Legacy” 100% wool.  Quilting through a wool batt is like quilting through butter.  It is an absolute dream to work with!

A decent light source.  Although there is no substitute for natural sunlight, there may be times when it is not that readily available.  I always keep my Ott light handy for times when I need just a bit more light.

Time.  No matter how busy I am, I can always find time to quilt!!

HAND-QUILTING TOOLS

Four blocks of Roseville completed!

Well!  I am thrilled with the way these blocks are turning out!  I am having way too much fun choosing fabrics for each of the blocks.  The fabric is “Summer House” by Lily Ashbury for Moda.  When I bought the fat quarter bundle last summer, I was not sure what I would ever do with.  All I knew was that I loved it and had to have it!!  I pre-washed the fat quarters and put it in my closet with the rest of my fabric.  When I was stumped by my first attempt at Roseville, I went through my closet looking for some inspiration.  My eye was immediately drawn to the bright, cheerful fabrics and I knew right away that this fabric was going to work!

Here are four of the blocks:

4 Blocks of Roseville

Not in love…with my quilt blocks!

Every now and then I am faced with a quilting dilemna.  You  know what I am talking about. I have chosen a pattern that I love. (Roseville by Kim McLean).  I have chosen fabrics that I love.   (Amelia by Me & My Sisters).  I have eagerly stitched a few blocks anticipating what the full size quilt will look like.   But, as I stitched the last block, I started to get this sinking feeling. You know the feeling!  It’s just not coming together like I thought it would.  I am not loving my quilt blocks anymore!   I still don’t know what went wrong!  I still love the fabric and I will save it for another project.  I still love the pattern.  So…after much thought, I have decided to start this quilt again, this time with a different line of fabric.  (Summer House by Moda).  Here is the first block:

ROSEVILLE BLOCK 1

This is not the first time I abandoned my blocks. A couple of years ago I was working on Spring Garden Sampler by The Rabbit Factory.  It was time to find a backing for it.  I searched through my stash and found a whole pile of appliqued blocks that I had forgotten about.  I decided to include the forgotten blocks in the backing.  So… my abandoned quilt blocks always make it into a quilt…just not always on the front!!

FRONT AND BACK OF SPRING GARDEN SAMPLER

These are the abandoned blocks that will some day grace the back of a quilt!