“A Dog’s Breakfast”

My favourite teacher in high school had an interesting saying.  If something was gross or disgusting to him, he used to say “It looks like a dog’s breakfast.”  I have been thinking of him a lot lately, because when I look at the back of my hand-piecing, I think “it looks like a dog’s breakfast…how am I going to iron that flat??”  So, here are a few simple pressing tips that everyone who hand-pieces needs to know.

First, go put the kettle on and make a pot of tea.  Everything is easier to do when you are drinking tea.  Speaking of tea, my friend Kathy (an awesome and way-out-there quilter) gave me this tea pot for Christmas, along with an assortment of tea.

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My daughter gave me a Downton Abbey mug and Marilyn (a talented artist who designed my BOM “To Everything There Is a Season”) gave me a Downton Abbey tea towel, so I am all set!

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Now that I think about it, Marilyn gave me a Downton Abbey teapot last year for Christmas.  Hmmm…. I see a pattern here!

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Ok, so here we go.  We want the seam allowances to swirl in the same direction (either clockwise or counter-clockwise), to reduce bulk.  Here are just 3 hexies and I have swirled the seam allowances.  First, I just picked one of the seam allowances and pressed it to the right.  (It’s under the iron.)

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Next, I take my left hand and position my fingers on the connecting seam allowances, folding them in the same direction as the first one.  Notice that all 3 seams are going counter-clockwise.  That is about as complicated as it is going to get.  Seriously!  So, just  remember this, we are only swirling 3 connecting seam allowances at a time.  Do you notice what shape appears in the very centre when swirled correctly?  It is a quilt block called “Building Blocks”. Magical!  I am using Inklingo to make my hexies.  It’s as easy as stitching on the line!

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In this next example, I have stitched these hexies together and am now ready to start pressing.  “Looks like a dog’s breakfast.”

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I am going to do exactly what I did when I only had 3 hexies…press the first seam to the right…the one under the tip of the iron.

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Next, I position my left hand and guide the seam allowances in the same direction as the first one…

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So now I can see that the orange seam allowance is heading in a clockwise direction, so the connecting seam allowance have to follow in the same direction.  Notice my index finger and my thumb are holding the seam allowances in place.  Then I just pick up the iron and press.

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Here is the finished block from the back….

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…and the front.  Fancy!

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I finished stitching the corner block of Friends of Baltimore and dipped it in the sink to wash all of the ink and glue out.  Now, I am finishing the next corner block.  Cannot wait to finish this quilt!

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Once it is dry, I will trim it to the proper size.

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Til next time….

Kerry

Third Finish of the Year!

For some reason this post from yesterday disappeared:(  So I am re-posting it.  Thank you, technology, for keeping me on my toes…

We have had a couple of cool evenings lately, so it seemed like a good time to stitch the binding on Circle of Tulips.  So this is my third (!) finish of 2014!   My first finish was Owen’s quilt…

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…and my second finish was Civil War Bride..

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So, once I finished the binding, it was time to wash the quilt.  I didn’t have the heart to put this quilt in the washing machine, so I decided on the bathtub instead.  First, I filled the tub with cool water…

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…and added half a scoop of Oxi-Clean.

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I let the quilt soak for about an hour, swishing it around with my hands now and then.  I used a wool batt so once the quilt was wet, it smelled very much like a wet dog!

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I let the water drain out, rinsed the quilt under the tap (the quilt was very, very heavy) and pressed out as much of the water as I could.  I carried it downstairs where I had laid out a thick, clean blanket.  I placed the quilt on the blanket and smoothed it out, making the edges as square as I could.

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Even though I squeezed out a lot of water, within minutes the water was starting to be absorbed by the thick blanket.  I could have used towels, but I didn’t have enough clean towels at the time!  As you can see, even after soaking for an hour, the marks left behind from the Frixion marker did not come out, but I had a plan for that!

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Once the quilt was completely dry, I used my steam iron to remove the pen marks.  I never touched the quilt with the iron, I just held the iron 1/2″ or so away from the quilt and let the steam do the work.  So this picture is before I steamed it…

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…and after I steamed it.  Magical!

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Til next time…

Kerry

 

 

Moving right along…

I have  gone as far as I can go stitching the pieces on this block.  The remaining pieces will cover the seam that joins the block and the border, so those pieces cannot be stitched until the block and border are sewn together.  This presents a bit of a problem…..I am not going to wash the block before I stitch it to the border, because some of the pieces are just glued (and not stitched).  The reason for that is some of the vines from the border tuck under some of the pieces on the block.  My idea is to wash the block once it attached to the quilt.  I picture just dipping the 4 corners in the sink, one at a time.  This first block will be an experiment to see if that will work.  Keep your fingers crossed!

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When I first marked the block, I also marked the seam line and the cutting line.  That way when it comes time to trim the excess off, I don’t have to wonder “Is that the seam line or the cutting line?”  I know it is only a 1/4″, but it would truly be a disaster if I cut on the seam line!  The solid line is the seam line and the dotted line is the cutting line.

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Next, I lined up the border and the block and stitched them together.  Notice I didn’t trim the 3 remaining sides of the block, just the one I am stitching right now.

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So now, I can prep and stitch the remaining pieces in place…and do some embroidery!

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Til next time…

Kerry

Finishing a border and starting a binding!

I spent yesterday putting the finishing touches on the second border of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  All of the flowers and stems and leaves were finally stitched in place.  So, it was time to add the little red berries…..

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…and the embroidered stems.  I like to use 2 strands of embroidery thread for the stems.

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Each of the 13 roses has a (really tiny!) yellow center, so I prepped those, also.

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Once the yellow centers were stitched in place, I did some more embroidery.  Each of the roses and a few of the buds have these tiny little “hairs” stitched around them.  They are stitched with just one strand of embroidery floss.

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And now for the fun part!  When I am finished stitching a block or border, I wash it to remove the glue and starch and the marks from my water-soluble marker.  It is a simple process, really!  I fill the sink with hot water and add a bit of dish soap or Soak (if I happen to have some on hand).  Next, I just toss the block in and let it soak for about half an hour.

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Then, I  drain the water and rinse with tap water.

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I leave it fairly wet and lay it out on a couple of thick towels to dry.  Easy peasy!

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Next on my “To Do” list was “Put Binding on Circle of Tulips”.  To figure out how much binding I would need, I measured around each scallop and multiplied by the number of scallops.

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According to my calculations, I need approximately 308″ of binding.   I cut the bias strips 2 1/2″ wide and joined them all together in one long strip.  Next, I  pressed the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.

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And, I started stitching.  So far, so good!

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Til next time…

Kerry

Hexies Everywhere!

Recently, my hubby and I took a very last minute road trip to New York City, just for the fun of it.  Of course, we did all must-do things when you visit NYC.  See the Statue of Liberty…check.  Figure out the subway system…check. Walk in Central Park..check.  Visit The City Quilter…check!

When we visited Central Park, I couldn’t help but notice the sidewalk stones.  Hexagons…everywhere.  I was inspired!

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So, when we visited The City Quilter, I picked up some paper foundations to make some hexies.  Ok, maybe I went a little overboard!

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I couldn’t resist a few charm packs, just so I could get started!

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So this is how I spent the Easter weekend…making hexies!  Very addictive!  I am making them the old fashioned way…stitching the fabric to the paper template and whip stitching them together.  Very relaxing!  I am trying hard not to over think things and just keep them scrappy.

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In between my new found hexie obsession and cooking Easter dinner, I managed to finish the Xebec block of Sue Garman’s Ladies of the Sea.  Once the ship was complete and the flowers were stitched on, I started the skull and crossbones bones.  I must admit, I love this little touch!

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Next, I embroidered the ropes.

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When I was finally finished, it was time for a bath.

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I have just turned the third(!) corner of Circle of Tulips.  Good times!

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Til next time…

Kerry

 

First Border On!

Last Wednesday evening I finished stitching all I could on the first border of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  I filled the sink with hot soapy water and let the border soak for a while.  I use hot water because I think the glue and starch soften quicker in hot water…maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but that is just what I do!  Next, I like to use Soak in the water, but if I don’t have any Soak on hand, I use dish soap.

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I normally let it soak for an hour or two.  When I went to take the border out of the water, I was mildly shocked to see that most of the red fabrics had run into the white background.  After doing a quick bit of research online, I jumped in the car and went shopping for some Oxy-Clean and some color magnet sheets.  Luckily, I found them, came home and threw the border into the washing machine with both products.  I am happy (and sooooo relieved) to tell you the border came out of the washing machine without a speck of red dye on it.  Thank you, Quilting Gods!

The following day, I laid the border out on a towel and let it dry.  Once it was dry, I placed the border  onto the pattern and marked the cutting lines with a water soluble marker.  I always cut my background pieces  larger than the pattern calls for, so they need to trimmed to the correct size.

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Next, I stitched the border on.

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When I went to press the seam flat, I noticed that some of the navy blue fabric had frayed, and it was sticking out past the seam allowance.  I very carefully trimmed off the navy blue bits.  I mean….very, very carefully!

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So here we are!

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I promised myself once I had the first border stitched on, I would start the next block of Ladies of the Sea, another Sue Garman pattern.  The ship on this block is called The Xebec Pirate Ship.  It looks very interesting with that skull and crossbones!  I used a gradient fabric for the bias stems.DSCN5454

If you look closely, you will see  the color goes from light to dark green.  Fun!

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One day (when I have time!) I am going to do some research on cats and quilts.  I had not seen Bruin all morning.  I placed my quilt on the floor so I could take a picture of it. I went to find my camera and this is what I returned to find.  Sheesh!

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Til next time…

Kerry

Washing my finished block

Once I finished embroidering all the ropes with 2 strands of floss, I was ready to wash my block.  I must mention at this point that I prewash all of my fabric in Synthrapol before I even think of putting it in a quilt.  That way, the fabrics do not run in this washing process.  Why do I wash my blocks?  When I trace my pattern onto the background, I use a Clover water soluble marker and a Frixion marker.  To prep my applique pieces, I use starch and Roxeann’s Glue.  All of that stuff needs to be removed from the block before it can be stitched into a quilt. Oh….and did I mention the cat hair?

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It was in a class with Pearl Pereira at the Applique Academy that I learned about washing blocks.  By the way, have you seen Pearl’s new Block of the Month on her website?  It’s called Forever Blooming and it is free!  I have downloaded my patterns and I am raring to get started!  I am also super excited to be attending this years TESAA!  I will be taking classes with Rita Verroca and Sandra Leichner.  Only 42 more sleeps!

So, this is how I wash my block.  First, I check to make sure all the pieces are stitched down.  You really don’t want this to happen!

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Oops!  Can you see that I did not stitch all of the bias pieces down?  There are bias strips in between the leaves and they are not stitched yet.

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They should look like this.

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You only need a clean sink, some mild soap and a block.

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First, fill the sink with hot water and add a bit of soap.

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Now, place the block in the water.  If this is the first time you are doing this, you are allowed to hold your breath and close your eyes!  I usually let it soak for a couple of hours.  No need to check on it, it’s not going anywhere!

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Next, drain the water and rinse the block with clear water.  Gently press some of the water out.  I like to leave the block fairly wet.

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I place the block out on a thick towel and smooth it out.  From experience, I have found that leaving the block wet means less wrinkles when the block has finished drying.  I like to pin the corners of the block to the towel, just to keep it as flat as possible.

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Once the block is completely dry, I flip it over on the thick towel and press with a hot iron.

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Presto!

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Til next time…

Kerry