PaintBox QAL – Week #6 -Machine Quilting Your Top

PaintBox Front Cover copyWelcome back !!  It’s the final week of our PaintBox QuiltAlong and this is the week to finish off your quilt top.

Last week we pieced the triangles and also stitched the rows together to complete your quilt top.  You can review Week 5’s post right here!

This week, I’m going to share some insights, successes and some fails (at least for me) into machine quilting your Paint Box quilt top on your domestic sewing machine.

Full disclosure now! – I am “the world’s worst free motion machine quilter” (at least that’s what I think) and because of that – I own a longarm machine and 100% prefer my quilt tops machine quilted on my longarm with an overall pattern or for something fancier, sent to a professional machine quilter like  Teresa Silva of Quilting is my Bliss for some of her gorgeous free hand long arm machine quilting – however, I know that not everyone can afford long arm services or a long arm machine or may just prefer their tops not to be longarmed, so hence this week’s blog subject about quilting your top on your domestic home machine!

However before moving on and in case you are taking your PaintBox quilt to your favorite longarm machine quilter,  pictured below is the pantograph all over quilt design I use on most of my PaintBox samples – it’s called Monsoon and I love it!

Pattern 1

On the other hand though sometimes a nice straight stitch will do the trick.

One of my favorite books out there for ideas on using your walking foot and  straight stitch machine quilting is Jacquie Gering’s “Walk” – I highly recommend this book as it’s a terrific reference on straight stitch machine quilting and is chocked full of different ideas and designs that you can quilt on your tops using just the walking foot and your straight stitch on your domestic machine.

The designs she offers range from very simple to very complex but all are accomplished with just a straight stitch and your walking foot (or even feed foot), and best of all no lowering of feed dogs or feeling totally out of control (my problem with the process).  Also the sequel to this best selling book, “Walk 2.0”will be released in May, so both books together would be a terrific reference pairing for your quilting library!

When I do choose to quilt my tops on my domestic machine, I prefer the control and regimented pace I feel when using my walking foot/dual feed foot, keeping the feed dogs up and just using my straight stitch across the top.  That doesn’t mean I don’t make a design though.  Here’s some “curvacious” quilting I just completed on this single ModCat wallhanging.  My feed dogs were up, I set my machine to the straight stitch and used my dual feed foot (which is similar to a walking foot).  I then gently moved the quilt top from side to side to create the gentle curves.

Cat Curvy
And some more quilting I did on a ModTiki – again nothing fancy – just straight stitch quilting and making a wonky chevron look.  Beautiful and looks fancier than it really is!
Tiki Chevron
First things first – Get a plan!

You should have an idea of what pattern or stitch you might like to machine quilt on your quilt top before beginning.  I like to have a plan before I begin quilting.  Instead of marking your top and then erasing and marking and erasing, why not take a picture of your quilt top and print out the picture on your printer.??

Now you can draw on the printout your ideas for patterns or lines across the quilt top and see how you might like to quilt your top.  You can do this just once or print more copies and try out a whole bunch of different ideas.  Penciling in your quilting ideas before beginning will give you an idea of what the design will look like on your quilt top and also provide you with at the very least a starting point – a good thing!  Here’s a few examples of the quilting ideas and plans I drew before starting to quilt my PaintBox quilt top.  The first one is just some simple straight up and down gridding…..

….and the second drawing plan had simple diagonal cross hatching plus a squarish design within the blocks…

Basting Your Quilt Top with the Batting & Backing Fabric
Next get ready to make your quilting sandwich – meaning baste your quilt top with the batting and backing.  For this project, I spray basted my batting to my backing fabric and then again, spray basted the top to the batting.  This was my first time spray basting a larger quilt like this and I  used the 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray .  It worked great – no safety pins needed.
Baste 1
It did take quite a bit of patience though and I had to roll the batting (and then the quilt top) accordian style and work on only basting about 1 foot at a time.   I just kept smoothing and smoothing the fabric or batting across the surfaces and then gave it a really good pressing before starting to quilt the top.

If you like using fusible spray to baste your quilt – please check out Christa Watson’s tutorial on basting your top.  She actually spray bastes small to queen size quilts with her method, and machine quilts all of her tops on her domestic machine with no problems!

WATCH CHRISTA’S BASTING YOUR QUILT TOP TUTORIAL HERE!

Marking and the First Stitches to Stabilize
I chose to diagonally cross hatch my quilt top referring to my 2nd plan above.  I wanted to stitch a 1/4″ to either side of the seam lines so that it would be like a double stitch line, but I needed to mark in some of these lines first.  I did use my Frixion pen to make the markings BUT BUT BUT – I am fully aware that my pen markings may reappear sometime in the future  as this is the chance I take when marking my lines with the Frixion pen.  If you are not ok with this, please do use a washable marker or water soluble pen. 

I also threaded my machine with a 90/14 Microtex Needle and King Tut 40 weight thread in the color of Alabaster.  This particular thread color is a wonderful variegated neutral and works marvelous with almost any fabric collection.

Since I don’t like to ‘fight’ with my quilt when I machine quilt I rolled up the sides of the quilt diagonally toward my first center seam lines to be machine stitched.  The first lines I stitched were what I call the “main veins” of the quilt.  Since I was cross hatching on a diagonal, the first seams I stitched were the long diagonal lines from top left to bottom right and vice versa thus stitching what you might call a large “X” across the quilt.

The main “veins” of the quilt have now been stabilized and I can now cross hatch and stitch my diagonal lines working always out from the center “main veins” of the quilt to the outer edges.

Stitch 1
And I kept stitching and stitching……

Stitch 2

…and stitching and stitching……

Stitch 3

…and then I decided to stitch 1/4″ to either side of the vertical and the horizontal seam lines….
Stitch 4

And I kept stitching and stitching……as you can guess, although simple to do, this process can take a long, long, long time.  Just cross hatching 1/4″ to either side of the seam lines on this 48″ square top took me almost 7 hours of straight stitching with just a few short breaks to stretch here and there.

Stitch 6
Next I thought I would try my idea to machine quilt the ‘square within the square design’  I had drawn on my quilt top photo (see below) —

Drawing 2B

I marked a center square in the middle and tried out my idea…..

Well – time again for another full disclosure!  I hated it!  It just didn’t ‘sing’ to me and frankly I was having a hard time keeping the stitched squares even with the sewn squares –  it just looked sloppy!  😦    So out came the seam ripper and time to reconsider what to do next.

Eager to finish the quilting as I was now in hour 8 of machine quilting, I decided to carry on with the diagonal and straight seam quilting and halved the distance between those lines I already stitched.

The results as you see was a nice effect even though some of my stitching was a bit wobbly due to the evening wearing on and I was getting tired!

Stitch 9
Life Lesson 101!  Which reminds me to remind you of one big life lesson – be kind to bekindyouyourself – I have to remind myself of this all the time!  We are our own worst critics!  But let’s face it – we are not perfect and guess what – your machine quilting will likely not be either….its only fabric and it is a handmade item.  Also believe me on this one – your quilt top always looks 200% better after you remove all of your drawn lines (that you may or may not have stitched on when quilting your top) and after the quilt is squared down and trimmed.

Once I was completed with my machine quilting, I trimmed the batting/backing edges square to the quilt top and cut the binding from my remaining sashing fabric and sewed it on.

Viola!  All done and ready to grace our dining room table…

Table 1

…or be taken on a nice picnic outside on this beautiful Spring day in our desert oasis!!

Outside 2

 

IMG_9836

This now concludes our PaintBox QuiltAlong – send me your pictures so we can see your gorgeous PaintBox quilts!

Thank you so much for following along and for your continued support!  Look for more Colourwerx QuiltAlongs on our Colourwerx Facebook page or on our website under QuiltAlongs!mouth21

Until your next colour fix – happy quilting!  Linda & Carl xxoo

 

 

PaintBox QAL – Week 5 – Quilt Top Assembly

PaintBox Front Cover copyHello again!  Whoop!  Whoop!  We are approaching the final weeks in our Paint Box QuiltAlong!  This week is all about assembling your quilt top and stitching it all together! Next week in our final week, I will be showing how I’ll be machine quilting my top on my domestic sewing machine!

But when last we spoke in Week #4 Blog’s Post, I mentioned that once I had laid out all my units on my design board, I was pondering whether I wanted to fiddle with the layout to play with the subtle color changes in this Linen Texture strip roll designed by Laundry Basket Quilts.  You’ll find the Quilt Top Layout Diagram on page 6 of the PaintBox pattern.

Here’s where we left off last week with my layout :

Layout 1

LAYOUT #1

I did fiddle with color placement  here and there and finally ended up with the new layout below –  do you see the difference?…Instead of keeping color groupings close together, I mixed up each quandrants’ units (for example the violets and pink palettes) to see if the colors would morph or “move” across the quilt top better.  Mmmmmmmm….

LAYOUT 2

LAYOUT #2

See the difference side by side??

Lol! After an hour or so of pondering this and some choice comments from Carl like “What’s that?!?  What happened to the first layout?” I decided to back to the first layout!  LOL!  Sometimes you first instinct is indeed the best!

Layout 1

LAYOUT #1

First Make Blocks!  So once you have decided on your layout, it’s time to start stitching, but first things first:   We need to make blocks out of those sashing triangles and colored triangle units so the quilt top goes together much more easily.  BIG TIP!  BE SURE TO SNAP A PHOTO FOR REFERENCE OF YOUR FINAL LAYOUT!  YOU’LL NEED IT!

Start with Row 2’s first sashing triangle and the orange colored triangle (note the yellow circle below and refer to the layout diagram on page 6 of the pattern).   Place these 2 units right sides together and stitch down the long diagonal edge.  TIP!  Sometimes I mark or crease the center of the colored triangle unit so that I can pin the center seams of the units together.  Remember these are triangles and the fabric has been cut on the bias so those edges can stretch out of shape very easily.  Having that center seam pinned aids you in placing the the 2 units together at their centers and then you also know that the outer tips of the 2 triangles have to meet as well when stitching!

Press the seam toward the coloured triangle unit and repeat until you have stitched all units together.  Referring to page 4 – Step 5 in the Paint Box pattern trim the blocks down to the desired size.  TIP! TIP!  Be sure to use  the diagonal line of your square ruler along the diagonal line of the block to aid you in squaring up the block to the appropriate size.  Note from the pics below that you probably won’t be trimming very much off – just a sliver here and there.

I usually sew these block units together quadrant by quadrant – meaning I pick up all the triangles from the top color  quadrant and sew those units together, then the second and so on like below:

Once complete, refer to your layout photo and return the blocks to places.

Now you are ready to start assembling the quilt top row by row.  Most of your seams usually end up nicely nesting together from block to block simply because of how you  rotated the ruler while cutting the triangles in Week #3.

Nest 4
However, you may find that some seams will need to be repressed in the opposite direction to make the seams nest before you stitch the blocks together. I found that I repressed about half of the sashing triangle seams in the opposite direction before sewing the triangle units together to form a block.

Again referring to the layout on page 6, notice that the rows are on point and you will be stitching block to block to block to form diagonal rows.  Sometimes (even though my diagram in the pattern shows this differently) I find it easier to toss aside the outer colored triangles that make up the top and bottom corner units (i.e.: Row #1) and just concentrate on getting the other rows together first. I usually stitch the top half together first and put it aside, followed by the bottom half and then join to the 2 halves together to complete the top.

Halves

When you join the 2 halves together – pin, pin, pin!!

Pin1

Again, some seams will nest and some will not.

I’m not the most patient quilter and at this point I am anxious to see my top done, so I usually pin at each and every seam regardless if the seams are nesting or not and stitch the top together.  Most times the quilting gods are with me and it works out beautifully! 🙂

Pin 4

Here is my quilt top with the corner units left off.  As a sidenote: You could indeed leave the quilt top just like this if you wanted more of a hexagon shaped quilt or were perhaps using it as a table topper of some sort. It’s kinda different looking!

Corners Off

Next stitch the 2 outer colored triangles together to form your corner units.

And to complete the top, stitch these outer corner units on!  Voila!  Just like that you PaintBox quilt top is complete!

Top Done

That’s it for this week!  Join us next week for Week #6 – Machine Quilting the Top where I’ll share how I am machine quilting my Paint Box quilt using my domestic machine, some straight line quilting techniques  and perhaps a few decorative stitches as well!

Until then, please be sure to email us at colourwerx@yahoo.com if you have any questions.  Or feel free to post progress pictures on our Colourwerx QAL Facebook Group.

Until your next colour fix and next week’s QAL post ~  happy and bright quilting always!    L&C xxoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paint Box QAL – Week #1 -Gather the Pattern & Materials

Hello!  And welcome to the ‘first week’ of our second Colourwerx QAL (quilt along) PaintBox Front Cover copywhere we’ll be making our super fun Paint Box Pattern!

First, I want to thank you so much for joining us here and on our Facebook Colourwerx QuiltAlong Page.  Whether you’ll be sewing up the pattern along side us or just observing from afar, we welcome you and are overwhelmed by your enthusiasm so far – so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Also, if you want to join with other quilty friends and aren’t yet a member of our Facebook group, I  invite you to join our free QAL Facebook group where you can ask questions, share your progress and of course, post pictures of your finished projects so everyone can share in the fun!  Also feel free to share this invite and any other QAL news with quilty buddies and invite them to join along in the fun!

JOIN THE COLOURWERX QAL FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

Look for a companion video to be posted later this week…..

So this is Week#1 of the Paint Box QAL –  First let’s review the schedule!

PaintBox QAL Slug

As you can see it’s a 5-week QAL this time, but please know that you can take it at your own pace and join in anytime.  All of the videos and blog posts will remain here, as well as be posted on our website and social media pages throughout the year.  It’s free to join and we’ll be making the 48″ x 48″ quilt top.   Feel free to hop in anytime!PaintBox Front Cover copy

GATHER YOUR PATTERN, MATERIALS & TOOLS —
Here’s what you’ll need though to join in on the stitchin’ fun –
• The PaintBox pattern by Colourwerx – use the coupon code QAL at checkout to save 10% off the pattern! Yippee!

PURCHASE THE PAINTBOX PATTERN – PAPER VERSION
PURCHASE THE PAINTBOX PATTERN – PDF VERSION

•  A strip roll (or jelly roll) – choose a strip roll containing (40) precut 2-1/2″ wide strips – alert!  you’ll need to cut each strip to 2″ wide!!   If you’d like to “bust your stash” – Cut (40) 2″ wide x 41-43″ long strips from your stash;

IMG_8984

•  Sashing Triangles & Binding  – choose two coordinating fabrics that match or compliment your strips – these fabrics make up the “sashing triangles” – the black and white striped triangles you see on the pattern cover.  You’ll need a 1-yard cut of each fabric.  Keep in mind that one of these fabrics will also be your binding.

IMG_8985

•  A Speciality 90 Degree Ruler  for Cutting the Triangles – the Creative Grids Quarter Square Triangle Ruler CGRT90.  I really like the Creative Grids brand of rulers – first, they have a non-slip surface so it won’t slip while cutting and secondly, the measurements are clear and exact on the ruler to assist you in lining up your strips seams straight and true while cutting the triangles. We have these available for purchase in our Colourwerx shop and again, if you use the discount code QAL at checkout you’ll save 10% – double yippee!

PURCHASE THE CREATIVE GRIDS TRIANGLE RULER HERE

CGRT90-1

•  Optional for the QAL – Backing Fabric : 3-1/2 yards

WANT A FABRIC KIT INSTEAD?? 
Both Colourwerx and our good sewing pal, Christa Watson from Christa Quilts have put together a special fabric kit for the Paint Box Quilt Along! Both of these kits are offered at a discount for a limited time!

PaintBox Designs copy

BRIGHT AND COLORFUL GRIDWORK KIT FROM CHRISTA QUILTS: Christa’s kit features her bright and geometric new fabric collection called “GridWork” (pictured on the left) and she’s offering a discount on this – use the code PAINT. (This kit does not include the pattern).

GORGEOUS JEWEL BOX BATIK KIT FROM COLOURWERX: If you love those jewelled toned batiks, then this Colourwerx Jewel Box batik fabric kit featuring Island Batik fabrics is the perfect kit for you.

 

PURCHASE COLOURWERX’S JEWEL BOX BATIK FABRIC KIT

START THINKING ABOUT COLOUR PLACEMENT–
While you’re gathering your fabrics, pattern and tools this week, it’s time to start thinking about color placement on the Paint Box pattern.  Part of the fun of making the Paint Box pattern is that when it is finally assembled and finished,  lots and lots of secondary designs pop up and its hard to figure out where the individual block starts and stop.

Here’s a quick slide show of the five Paint Box patterns I’ve made so far so you can see different colour combinations at work:

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When I start a new Paint Box quilt – I first start thinking about dividing my (40) fabric strips into five colour groups which will contain eight (8) strips each.

One of the easiest ways to figure out colour placement is to actually colour in a black and white diagram of the quilt top.   It may take a few passes but once you settle in on colour placement, the actual sorting and stitching together of your strips will go so much faster.

Here’s an example of how I planned out the Paint Box quilt  you see on the pattern cover.  This one uses Christa Watson’s of ChristaQuilts new fabric collection, Gridwork.

Paint Box QAL Colour Plan

Now it’s your turn to start thinking about colours.  Use this handy black and white diagram below  to assist you in planning your colour placement for your Paint Box quilt.  You can use crayons, colored pencils or markers – whatever works for you. I’ve shaded in the the sashing triangle fabric areas – these strips will be cut from your two complimenting 1-yard cuts of fabric.

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE PAINT BOX LINE ART HERE

Paintbox Layout

That’s it for Week #1!!  Next week – Week #2: we’ll be Sorting the Strips into Groups and Cutting – woohoo!

Until then, please be sure to email us at colourwerx@yahoo.com if you have any questions.  Or feel free to post progress pictures on our Colourwerx QAL Facebook Group.

Until your next colour fix and next week’s QAL post ~  happy and bright quilting always!    L&C xxoo

 

Waterfall – New Pattern Preview

CW125 Waterfall Front copyIt’s time for another pattern preview from our Fall release of new patterns that previewed at the International Quilt Market in Fall 2019.

Meet Waterfall. You can purchase the pattern in paper or PDF format right here in our Colourwerx shop!

I absolutely love this pattern that Carl designed.  The 15″ block itself is quite simple but when twelve 15″ blocks are stitched together to make the 60″ x 60″ quilt,  the secondary patterns created are magical and it’s pretty difficult to decipher where the actual block starts and stops.

Waterfall Patterns

Selecting fabrics for the Waterfall pattern is super simple too.   Just 2-1/2 yards of a neutral background fabric plus twelve 3/8 yard cuts of other fabrics – the twelve fabrics should be separated into four color groups with each group containing three fabrics.

Cutting and stitching each block together is a breeze and as long as your 1/4″ seam is consistent – you shouldn’t have any worries about creating this simple block and finishing off a super simple quilt for yourself or a loved one in no time. I find once I get stitching this quilt – I cannot stop – the block is fun to make and I can’t wait to see the finished quilt put together.

Our first version of this new pattern was made for Island Batik using our second signature collection,”Jewel Box” designed especially for Colourwerx by Kathy Brett Engle.

Oasis copy

We also made a Cool and a Warm version out of Kaffe Fassett Collective Classic fabrics for our friends at Free Spirit Fabrics.

Here’s another one I can’t wait to make using Martha Negley’s rich and super saturated “Veggies” collection from again our friends at Free Spirit Fabrics.

Waterfall Veggies Rev 2
We also made one using the Good Vibes Only collection designed by Sassafras Lane for Windham Fabrics.  This version graces the cover of our pattern!

New GVO Waterfall copy
And here are a few more virtual versions that we submitted to various fabric companies using a selection of gorgeous fabrics  from Figo fabrics, beiges and taupes from Windham Fabrics and also a Christmas themed fabric from Michael Miller Fabrics (how appropriate considering the day I am writing this post 🙂 !!

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The possibilities for this Waterfall pattern are endless!
Purchase the Paper Waterfall Pattern here! 
Purchase the PDF Waterfall Pattern here!

And also be sure to check back into our Colourwerx shop as we will have kits for most of these versions coming real soon!

And of course, by all means – please do send us a picture of your completed Waterfall quilts – we always love to see and share all of your beautiful creations made using our Colourwerx patterns!

Carl and I are so thankful for your support and wish you happy and bright quilting always!  And also Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays to you all!  Until your next colour fix and see you in 2020 ~ L&C xxoo

 

ColourMaze QAL -Week #4 – Assembly & Borders

ColourMaze Front Cover(1)Welcome back!  We’re in the last week of our amazing ColourMaze QuiltAlong!  This week is all about stitching the ColourMaze Blocks together to form vertical rows and then completing your quilt top by sewing those rows together!  If you’re doing placemats or a table runner – just refer back to the pattern on pages 5 & 6 for sashing and border directions!

As always, there is a fun short companion video to this post.  So if you’re more of a ‘visual’ person, then hop on on over to our Colourwerx You Tube Channel and subscribe to view the video!

LInda Week 4
Let’s get stitchin’!!  Once your ColourMaze blocks are complete, you’ll then stitch the remaining  1″ strips to the top edge of each block.  For tips and trick on sewing those thin little strips to your blocks, check out Week #3’s ColourMaze QAL here.  If you’re making the Lap Quilt – you should have (3) 1″ strips left – set those aside.

While you’re at the machine – just go ahead and stitch the sashing and outer border strips together too.  All of the directions are on pages 5 & 6 of the ColourMaze Pattern.

Next the fun begins – lay out on your design wall or floor the blocks in the order you prefer!  Notice that I bolded the words “you prefer” – that’s because there is no right or wrong way to do this.  I usually just choose a layout because I’m either pleased with how the order and colors flow from one block to another such as the Violet Craft Modern Classics sample below:

….Or I follow color wheel order like the Kaffe Fassett sample below….

Anything goes!  Once you’ve decided your order, stitch those remaining (3) 1″ strips to the bottom edge of the the bottom block in each row.   Now you’re ready to start stitching block to block to block to form vertical rows.   On my Violet Craft Modern Classics sample, here’s Row #1….
Row 1

And Row #2….
Row 2

And Row #3….
Row 3

Next, stitch the sashing strips on to one side of each vertical row!  Now  you”re ready to stitch the rows together to complete your quilt top.

Colourmaze Geo 1

Geo Pop on Black (purchase a kit from christaquilts.com)

But wait – I have a tip!  Sometimes when stitching these long vertical rows together, the top row may creep ahead of the bottom row thus causing those strong horizontal lines (which were/are the 1″ strips in each block) to look off kilter.  Part of the illusion of the ColourMaze design is that when all those little horizontal strips are lined up parallel across the vertical rows, it looks like a maze.  So wouldn’t it be rather maddening after all your work  to have them unparallel across the rows once the top is done? I think so!

So here’s what I do…. first, I place my two rows Right Sides Together.  I then pin as usual but when I come to a place in the pinning where the thin strips need to stay aligned and parallel to each other from block to block – I “sneak, peek and pin” –  🙂  yes,  a very technical term.  But here it is a nutshell:  I peel back the top row just enough so I can sneak a peek and realign the strips so that they are directly on top of each other.  I then fold back the top layer to match to up the edges and pin in place.  Works like a dream and almost always those thin little strips are aligned and parallel from each other from row to row!

Once you have the three rows stitched together – just finish off your ColourMaze quilt top by stitching the last outer border strip onto the remaining edge!  And now you are complete and ready for the big reveal to family and friends!  Great job!  Go celebrate!

And what to do with all of the offcuts from the strips – how about make some scrappy binding!  Here’s mine…I just sewed all the scrap strips together and made more than enough binding for my lap quilt!
Binding

This now concludes our ColourMaze QuiltAlong!  Thank you so much for following along and for your continued support!  Look for more Colourwerx QuiltAlongs on our Colourwerx Facebook page or on our website under QuiltAlongs!mouth21

Until your next colour fix – happy quilting!  Linda & Carl xxoo

 

 

 

 

ColourMaze QAL – Week #3 – Piecing the Block

Hey, hey!  Welcome to Week #3 of the ColourMaze QAL!  This week is all about piecing the beautiful ColourMaze block!

Test Block
If you’d like to view our companion video to Week #3, you can view it on our Colourwerx You Tube channel and also subscribe so you won’t miss future broadcasts!

Linda Week 3
Let’ s get stitchin’!!    Before I start any new sewing project that requires some pretty precise piecing as this ColourMaze Block I like to ‘set my machine up for sewing success’.  Over the years, I believe that all of these steps help me to stitch a much more accurate scant 1/4″ seam and improve my piecing accuracy!

Here’s what I do every time I start a new patchwork project:Clean

  1.  Clean and Oil That Machine – I’m always amazed at how much ‘fabric dust’ one accumulates under the stitch plate within a few days of stitching….those fibers and all that dust can really inhibit the machine from ‘taking its best stitch’ which in turn cause inaccuracies in your 1/4″ seam allowance.  Every few days actually, I just make a habit to lift up that stitch plate , remove all the dust bunnies and give it my machine a good drink of oil to boot.  You might find depending upon your climate that your machine requires more oil than the manufacturer recommends.  For me, the desert air here actually dries out my machine alot and I find that I really need to oil it at least once a week and sometimes in Summer twice a week;

  2. Start with a New Needle! – an absolute must!  When Carl and I owned our quilt shop, Linderella’s Quilt Works, in Southern Pines, NC, we were always always amused by customers who would brag and boast that they had never, ever, ever changed the needle on their sewing machine….uh, say what?  That needle takes alot of abuse with just regular stitching and if you’ve every run smack-dab over a pin – whoa!  Check out the picture below – The picture to the left is a new needle and the picture on the right? That’s what the tip of your needle now looks like after you hit a pin – time to change the needle!
    Dull-Needle-Close-Up
    Additionally, the needle manufacturer actually recommends that you change it every 8-10 hours of sewing…that might be too much or too little depending on the project…I usually change my needle whenever I start a new project …. For piecing, my go-to needle is the Schmetz 75/11 Quilting Needle.  This needle has a super sharp tapered point that penetrates the fabric without leaving a large hole and also eliminates skipped stitches;IMG_7750
  3. Change the Stitch Plate to a Single Hole Stitch Plate – This little guy is a game changer!  If you don’t already own one, run (don’t walk) to your sewing machine dealer.  By changing over to a single hole stitch plate,  the needle and thread (as it loops around the bobbin thread to make each stitch),  are forced to stay perfectly straight up and down in the single hole thus creating a more perfect straight stitch.  The single hole stitch plate also prevents fabric from getting caught or chewed up under the stitch plate as you start stitching.  Just remember to switch the stitch plate back to the rectangular opening stitch plate if you choose a zig zag stitch or other decorative stitch – if not, you’ll hear a violent crunch and then definitely need to change that needle!IMG_7757
  4. Change Thread to a 50 Weight Cotton Thread – One of major reasons 1/4″ seams are inaccurate is thread takes up a lot of space in the seam allowance, and if one is using a thicker shaft thread such as a 40 weight or 30 weight, some of that precious seam allowance has just been robbed by the thicker thread (compounded by perhaps slight inaccuracies in cutting and pressing)  – all of these factors cause the block not to finish at the exact measurement the pattern says it will – a great example of this is when your points are cut off while making a star block.  So I always switch out to a 50 weight cotton thread for the top and for the bobbin. My go to preference is Aurifil 50 weight Silvery Gray – #2615 – this color is fabulous and no matter what my fabric color is (dark or light)  this thread color camouflages itself in the seams.  There are many other great brands such as Gutterman, Superior etc…. just choose a neutral color like tan or gray and make sure it is 50 weight cotton;IMG_7752
  5. Change the Presser Foot to a 1/4″ Patchwork Presser Foot –  Another must have and available from your sewing machine dealer.  This foot helps you achieve and stay true to the 1/4″ seam allowance that all quilting seams require.  I prefer the 1/4″ foot without the guide  – personally for me, I find that when I use the 1/4″ presser foot with the guide, I become lazy about my 1/4″ seam and begin to push my fabric up against that guide thinking everything is just peachy.  The results?  My seam allowance is larger than a 1/4″ and my piecing is inaccurate.

IMG_7878Get Your 1/4″ Seam Mojo Going!  Now that my machine is ready to go – I always like to test my scant 1/4″ seam. Let’s face it, a 1/4″ seam is not a whole lot of room (as evidenced by the photo to the right – this is the Wrong side of one of those 1″ strips after it is sewn in to the block –  the seams almost touch!  Not alot of room to spare!)  And alot of things take up space or rob you of that precious seam allowance like thread, pressing, inaccurate cutting, wobbly stitches, thread build up from from seam ripping etc.   So a scant 1/4″ seam is what’s really required, and a scant 1/4″ seam is just a hair less than a full 1/4″ seam allowance.

Quilter beware!! – Alot of the 1/4″ presser feet for machines are a full 1/4″ – I have found this with my Bernina for sure and I need to slightly “back off” from the right edge of the foot to achieve a scant 1/4″.  One of the best ways to figure this out is to simply stitch a test strip.

Test Your Scant 1/4″ Seam: Cut (2) 2″ wide strips of fabric – any length will work. Stitch your best scant 1/4″ seam.  Press the seam to one side and the strips should measure 3-1/2″ wide at the top, middle and bottom.  If not, try again and adjust where you place the fabric edge up against the edge of the presser foot – like I said, you may need to back off from the edge or move your fabric ever so slightly to the left (toward the needle).

Still Can’t Get That Scant 1/4″ Seam??  If you’re having trouble achieving a scant 1/4″ seam,  there’s a fabulous tool to help you – available at most quilt shops.  Its called the Perkins Perfect Piecing Seam Guide.  It’s a small little ruler with a hole in the middle and a scant 1/4″ seam drawn on the side of the ruler. Place it under your stitch plate, drop the needle in the hole and voila!: the right edge of the ruler denotes the scant 1/4″ seam on your machine – you may even notice as I did that the scant 1/4″ seam is just to the left of the right edge of the 1/4″ presser foot.    I like to run a piece of tape from the stitch plate down the slide on table and then line my fabric up against the tape edge to keep my fabric straight while stitching!

TTest Blockhis is a TEST! 

Now you’re ready to start stitchin’ up the gorgeous ColourMaze block!  I like to always stitch up a test block. Test blocks are great ways to work out all the kinks. I find whenever I skip this step – I always wish somewhere along the way that I had chosen to make a test block to avoid headaches in the future.

All of the directions to make the ColourMaze block are on pages 2 & 3 of the pattern.  There you’ll find step-by-step detailed directions, full color diagrams and pressing directions to assist you. Here are some notes  that I hope you find helpful while making your ColourMaze test block and future blocks:

1. Measure and Trim After Each SubUnit is Created:  I’m what you might call a cautious quilter – I like to check the accuracy of my seam allowance and stitching at almost every step in the block construction.   The ColourMaze Block is created by piecing together 3 sub units (top, middle and bottom) and these 3 sub units come together to create the block.  I like to measure and trim after each subunit is completed.  The pattern itself tells you what each subunit should measure after stitching is complete. For me, its a good way to check and make sure that my stitching and pressing is consistent and the block itself is being assembled accurately.  That way I can correct and mistakes while the block is being constructed and I am assured the my block will be fairly close to the finished size according to the pattern.

TRimSubUnit
2. Those Thin 1″ Strips & Tips– Again those thin little strips can be quite squirrely.  At first, you might find it difficult to stitch an accurate scant 1/4″ seam down the edge as the  little strip wants to  slip and slide along the edge of the larger fabric strip.  If so, here are a few tips:

a.  Get a Grip!   Pinning may help but pins also take up space and throw off the seam allowance.  I find that by pressing down on the strip with a pretty firm grip of your finger or even a stiletto is good at preventing the strip from slipping and thus causing your seam allowance to waiver.  I do this when starting to stitch down the 1″ strips and especially near the end of the strip to avoid my seam allowance from waivering as the end of the strip approaches the needle.

b. Draw In Your Scant 1/4″ Seam!  If you’re having a lot of difficulty keeping true to that 1/4″ seam, why not just draw your 1/4″ seam down the edge of the 1″ strip?  Remember it should be a scant 1/4″ or a hair less than a full 1/4″.  Carl does this often and his piecing is really accurate.  With a Frixion Iron Off pen or a washable marker, just lightly draw the 1/4″ seam down each edge of the 1″ strip and then sew directly on the line. Works like magic!

c.  Be Just a Tad More Scant!  When stitching down the edge of the 1″ strips,  I find that if I am just a ‘tad’ more scant (like just a hair less again) with my already scant 1/4″ seam, that the seam allowance works out perfectly and that my strip is stitched on straighter.

Seam

d.  Set the Seam!  Alot of us learned this tip in our Beginning Sewing classes and then promptly forget this useful tip  – I know I did !  But it does really help (and regardless of what you’re sewing)! Setting the seam’ simply means that after you stitch the seam, you press the seam in its closed position (just how you stitched it) – this will squish all the threads down into the seam allowance, and smooth and flatten the seam.  Next you press as you would normally- i.e.: open the seam or finger press the seam to one side or as the pattern directions say.  Then press the seam with the iron.  By adding this one little step of setting the seam in its closed position I can definitely see that my seams and stitching in general are more accurate and also that the block finishes flatter and nicer all around!

e.  Use a Little Steam and Mary Ellen’s Best Press – Yup, in addition to ‘setting the seam’, I also find with a little steam and a squirt of  Mary Ellen’s Best Press that these 1″ strips lay over nicely and behave!

f. Trim after Stitching the 1″ Strip to the Larger Strip:  Again, cautious quilter alert!  After I stitch the 1″ strips onto the larger strips, I like to check and of course, trim them to what their exact measurement should be before proceeding to the next step.  This little trim takes care of all my inaccurate, wobbly stitching when sewing the 1″ strip on in the first place.   So once these little strips are stitched on and pressed, I know that they should measure 3/4″ wide.  So I place the 3/4″ line of my ruler along the seam and trim off excess fabric off the top and side – alot of time I’m trimming off just slivers of fabric but I find this results in a more accurate final block.

TrimStrip

Make More ColourMaze Blocks:  Once my test block is complete and I’ve worked out all the kinks, I’m ready to construct more ColourMaze blocks.  I like to chain piece all the units first and ready them into the three subunits that make the block – top, middle and bottom – this makes the final block construction go oh so much faster!

So go forth and create ColourMaze blocks.  Mine are shown below. I making two ColourMaze quilts at the same time.  The first with Violet Craft Modern Classics and the second with the new Kaffe Fassett Rainbow Stash.

Both of these fabric kits are available in our Colourwerx shop!

Violet BlocksKaffe Blocks

That’s it for Week #3!  Happy quilting everyone! And by all means if you need any help or assistance, please email us at colourwerx@yahoo.com.

Next week – Week #4 – is our final week in the ColourMaze Quilt Along and we’ll discuss layout options and the steps to piece together the rows to complete the ColourMaze Quilt top!  be sure to check out the companion tutorial video to Week #3 on our Colourwerx You Tube channel and subscribe! WooHoo!

See ya next week everyone and thank you!  Until your next colour fix~  L&C xxoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

ColourMaze QAL – Week #2 – Sorting your Strips & Cutting

Hi guys!  We are in Week #2 of the Colourmaze QAL!  Welcome back!

materialsjpg.jpgJust to recap – Week#1 was all about getting the ColourMaze pattern (still available from our Colourwerx shop by clicking here) and also choosing your fabrics: A 40-piece 2-1/2″ strip roll and 1-3/4 yards of background fabric – you can of course cut the (40) 2-1/2″ strips from your stash too!  If you’re new this week, then just jump on in! You can review Week#1’s blog post here!

Also, our free Colourwerx QAL Facebook Group is really where all the action is and everyone is encouraged to ask questions, share  progress and of course, post pictures of  finished projects so everyone in the group can share in the fun!  We’re also doing weekly giveaways here too!  Click below to join the Colourwerx Quilt Along Facebook Group  or feel free to share this invite and any QAL news with other quilty buddies and invite them to join along in the fun!

JOIN THE COLOURWERX QAL FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 4.32.55 PM
Just like last week – Carl and I put together a little companion video to Week#2 QAL recapping this blog post along with tips and tricks.  You can view it on our  Colourwerx UTube channel so if you’d like to watch me ‘yak on’ instead of reading this post – you’ll find that video here…

Linda Video Wk 2

So let’s get started!   WEEK #2 – Sorting Your Strips & Cutting
To prepare you for piecing which is next week (and really, that’s the super fun part of this quilt, right?!?), you’ll need to cut your background fabric and strips this week!

  • Sort and Pair up the Strips! Unroll your strip roll and begin to group together strips into pairs.  Each pair of 2-1/2″ strips will make (1) ColourMaze block.    So if you want to make a couple of placemats, place together (4) pairs of strips for (4) placemats!   If you are making the 50″ x 70″ pattern cover quilt. group together (20) pairs of strips.  You may choose to pair your strips tone on tone, contrast or just random – whatever suits your fancy 😀.IMG_6988
    In Week #1’s post, there’s a slide show of different ColourMaze quilts showing the finished blocks so you can see that almost anything goes when pairing up the strips.
  • Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 4.26.21 PMCut Your Background Fabric:  First off, before cutting – I really, really, really  like to starch my fabric.  Mary Ellen’s Best Press is terrific stuff but it its too pricey to use on larger pieces and when I need to starch several yards or a larger piece such as this background fabric, I use the Faultless Gold Top Firm Finish Spray Starch. First you can’t beat the price at like $1.99 a can – available at Target, Walmart, the supermarket, etc….  Secondly, I just happen to love the way it makes my fabric feel.  It gives the fabric a firm hand but not too stiff and makes my cutting and piecing more precise.  Use a hot dry iron (no steam) and definitely starch the fabric before you make that first cut as the fabric may shrink ever so slightly after the starch is ironed dry.

You’ll find all of the cutting directions and dimensions in the Colourmaze pattern on pages 1 & 2.CW Strips

You’ll see in the pattern that you’ll need to cut  lots of 1″ strips from the background fabric – in fact you’ll actually be cutting a few dozen 1″ strips.  The idea of cutting 1″ strips seems easy enough but these smaller width strips can be tricky,  especially when you cut strip after strip after strip after strip after strip after…. – well you get the idea, right?

So first, I encourage you to change your rotary blade to a fresh new one for extra sharpness, and always use a good quality rotary ruler to measure the strip widths and to cut against.

Week 2 Blade
Just a little sidenote before cutting your fabric.I know some people like to use their rotary cutting mat to measure the width of strips but I can tell you from experience that cutting mats are notoriously “off” – why you ask?  The measurements are ‘printed’ on the cutting mat and the super thick line on the mat can throw off your cut by 1/32nd or 1/64th of an inch.  Additionally those printed measurements can expand and contract with heat and cold and also with general day to day use.   This all leads to tiny inaccuracies in your cutting but compounds itself cut after cut after cut.   It’s ok to use the cutting mat for general measurements such as to quickly check if a block is measuring 9-1/2″ x 9-1/2″ but for super accurate cutting and squaring down please use a good quality quilting ruler to measure and cut against not the cutting mat- just mho! 😉

First Tip on Cutting the Background Fabric  – I like to reduce the distance I need to travel with my rotary cutter from the bottom of the fabric to the top.  Once I find the straight of grain of the fabric (and here’s a great tutorial if you need one), I then match selvage edges at the top with my fold at the bottom.   I then fold my fabric in half again  – this reduces  the distance my rotary cutter needs to  travel from 22″ to 11″.   Yes,  I am cutting through four layers of fabric instead of two, but my rotary cutter is only traveling the length of 11″ to cut a strip….therefore reducing the likelihood of my ruler slipping or sliding from side to side resulting in an inaccurate cut.  Additionally, less pressure is needed to hold the ruler in place therefore less pain or cramping in my wrist or hand  if cutting for longer periods of time.  A win-win!


Once you are ready to begin, be sure to always cut yourself a fresh clean edge before proceeding to cut your strips.

Clean Edge

Next tip 🙂  –  I have found that sometimes after cutting 8, 9 or 10 strips in a row, sometimes it becomes impossible to precisely line up the ruler on the edge of the fabric straight – it’s as if the fabric edge has been warped or skewed and the edge is generally not true to the line under the ruler (at least not like it was when you made your very first clean cut). This happens because as you cut strip after strip, you are placing a lot of pressure 1) against the ruler by holding it steady in place and 2) by sliding the rotary cutter along the side of the ruler as you cut consecutive strips (especially smaller width strips like 1″ strips).

Ruler Skewed
So it’s not uncommon to see this and its a good practice that after cutting 10 or so strips, to simply cut a fresh, new clean edge to ensure you are cutting accurately and of course, to line the ruler up against.

Next up…..IMG_7051

  • Cut Your Fabric Strips for the ColourMaze Blocks:  Again, you’ll find all the dimensions to cut your block pieces, on pages 1 & 2 of the Colourmaze pattern.  Every (2) 2-1/2″ strips will yield (1) ColourMaze block, and after cutting the block pieces, you may indeed have some generous offcuts – think about whether you might like to make more Colourmaze blocks or save those offcuts for a scrappy binding.  Make sure you UNFOLD each strip and then cut your block pieces so you will be left with a longer offcut to use for other projects.

Additionally, in last week’s post I mentioned that if you are making the  50″x70″ Lap Quilt there are actually (21) blocks needed and you might be asking yourself “Where do I get the extra 2 strips for that 21st block if I am using a 40-piece strip roll ?”  Well I have the answer…..

If your strip roll has at least 2 different fabrics that are duplicated within the strip roll then you can pair these 4 strips together,  cut them for efficiency and yield 3 Colourmaze blocks out of these 4 total strips.

So first things first – look at your (40) strips and pull out the strips that are duplicated .   You need to locate a minimum of 2 fabrics that are duplicated – pair up these fabric strips (so you should have 4 strips total, 2 from Fabric A and 2 from Fabric B).

Duplicate Strip

Unfold the first Fabric A strip, cut the selvage edge off and then cut the (4) pieces specified in the pattern for (1) ColourMaze block starting with the largest unit to the smallest unit.

Strip Cut 1

With the leftover from strip #1, begin to cut the 2nd block’s pieces, Cut the largest unit first, and then with what’s left cut the smallest unit.   In other words, you may need to go out of order from the pattern.   Use the whole strip up!

Strip Cut 2

Unfold the the second Fabric A strip (aka the same fabric as the first) and continue to cut the remaining units required for the second block. If all works out, you should be left with approx. 29″ – just enough to cut the units for a 3rd ColourMaze block (i.e.: the 21st block for the lap size cover quilt).

Strip Cut 3

Repeat the above on the matching Fabric B strips to pair up with Fabric A.   Keep in mind that not all fabric strips are manufactured at exactly the same length – some are 44″ long, some 43″ and some even 42″….so before making your first cut on the fabric strips, mark out the segments on the strip with a washable marker to make sure you can get all the required pieces to make (3) blocks.

I demonstrate this in the companion QAL video here.

So this week is all about cutting – take your time, and remember that old phrase – measure twice, cut once!  And if you have any questions or need any additional assistance, please email Carl and I at colourwerx@yahoo.com or message us on our Facebook Colourwerx or Colourwerx QuiltAlong pages.

Be sure to check back in next week – Week #3 for Piecing the Block where I’ll share my all time favorite tip and tricks to perfect your 1/4″ seam and precision piecing skills! 

Thanks again for joining in on the quilt along fun and I can’t wait to see everyone’s blocks soon!   Until your next colour fix~ L&C xxoo