Splendor QAL: Week #4 – Layout and Finish the Quilt Top

SplendorWhoop!  Whoop!  We are almost complete with our Splendor Quilt!  This is the final week of our quilt along and I do hope you all have been enjoying making these fab flower blocks!

This week – Week #4 – is all about laying out all the blocks and pieces and stitchin’ up that quilt top.  Relax and enjoy the process – it’s easy stitchin! 🙂

1. But first, just a reminder that all of your petals (large and small) should be appliqued stitched to their individual background blocks at this point. If you need reference, refer back to Week #2 & Week #3 of our Splendor QuiltAlong posts.

Read Splendor QAL Week #2 – Applique the Small Flower Blocks
Read Splendor QAL Week #3 – Applique the Large Flower Block

Also be sure to remove all of that stabilizer from the backside of your blocks.  I like to score mine with a straight pin and carefully tear away the stabilizer using tweezers if needed in the narrower sections between the petals. 

Splendor Stabilizer

2. Next, following the Splendor Background Diagram on page 2 of the Splendor pattern, lay out all of your pieces on your design board or floor.  Take special note of which way some of the smaller flower blocks are orientated (look at the large petal on the small flower block – is it pointing  up, down to the right or to the left??  – these differences in orientation  give the circle of small flowers movement and rhythm around the large center flower block.

New Splendor Layout

Once you are satisfied with your layout, stitch the background strips to each background corner block. Refer to the page 2 of the Splendor pattern again.

Next, stitch the single background  strip to its corresponding small flower block.

Not so hard right!?!

3.  And to finish your quilt top, refer to page 5 in the Splendor pattern and begin to stitch blocks together to form a row.  You’ll have a top row, a middle row (which will consist of the larger center flower block we created in Week #3) and a bottom row.

Watch the video below for how easy!!

Once all three rows are stitched together – your Splendor Quilt top is complete!

Finished Splendor

Great job and bravo! Now you’re ready to machine quilt some awesome designs in all of that negative space in the background or  send the top to your favorite machine quilter to do the same!

I’ll be sending this off to my favorite machine quilter, Teresa of Quilting is my Bliss who also machine quilted the first Splendor quilt! Below  are some up close photos of the fabulous quilting Teresa did on the first Splendor quilt!!  I’ll be sure to post the photos of the second Splendor quilt when she completes it!
Splendor Close Up 2

Splendor Close Up 1

This now concludes our Splendor QuiltAlong – send me your pictures so we can see your beautiful 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

ModTV QAL: Week #4 – Personalize the Screen & Finish

Wowee!  We are almost complete with our ModTV’s!!  This is the final week of our quilt ModTV_CW110_FRONTalong and I do hope you all have been enjoying making these cute retro TV blocks!

This week – Week #4 – is all about personalizing the TV screen and finishing off your block into a pillow, wallhanging or make even more TV blocks for a fabulous lap quilt!  Here’s one of my customer’s ModTV quilt that she made for her husband.  She printed all of his favorite TV shows on photo fabrics, added a pocket for the remote control in one of the color bar blocks and voila! – he loved it!

Customer ModTV

Ok – so by now you should have made at least one ModTV block and it should be trimmed to 12-1/2″ x 12-1/2″.  If you need to catch up or need extra help, please refer back to the previous blog posts below.  You can also find a weekly companion tutorial video for each week on our Colourwerx YouTube channel !

READ WEEK 1 – GATHER YOUR PATTERN & MATERIALS

READ WEEK 2 – PIECE THE TV & LEGS

READ WEEK 3 – PIECE THE ANTENNA UNITS & COLOR BAR BLOCKS

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR COLOURWERX YOU TUBE CHANNEL

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So let’s get started and finish up those cute ModTV blocks!

Check out this week’s video!!  You can view the companion You Tube video for this week right here!

Personalize the TV Screen —
The very last piece to go on your TV block is the TV screen.  It is not pieced in but rather fused on with an adhesive fusible web (like Heat ‘n Bond Lite or Steam A Seam II Lite) and then appliqued stitched on. 

There are several different ways you can choose to personalize your TV screen and therefore make it truly a unique creation.  First know that whichever method you choose, you will need both a 5″ x7″ piece of the fabric (or photo fabric) and of the adhesive fusible web.

Iron

Once you decide what to do, iron the 5″ x 7″ piece of adhesive fusible web onto the WRONG side of the fabric (yes, even the photo fabric), and then trim the piece to 4″ x 6″.  You can even follow along in the pattern on page 5 and use a thread spool to round the corners of the TV  Screen. 

When you are ready, peel the release paper off the backside of the screen, and using a pressing cloth, iron (or fuse) the screen in the center of the TV unit. 

Iron 1

Iron 2

Zig Zag stitch around the edges of the screen to secure it to the block.  

IMG_1453

Here’s a few ideas for you to personalize your TV screens!

1. Use the same fabric as the background fabric or a similar fabric.  The easiest and sometimes the most graphic looking!  These blocks are totally fabulous and create the ultimate mid-mod statement!

ModTv Image 2

2. Use a fun stripe or zig zag fabric.  If you want to give the look of  static running across your TV screen , a fun stripe or colorful zigzag will do the trick!  I used this fun colorful wonky zig zag from the Kaffe Fassett Collective!

IMG_1003

3. Fussy Cut a Motif from a Licensed Fabric.  This is where I think most of us have a lot of fun – fussy cutting around a motif as if this scene is “playing” on the TV set!  And there are so many great fabrics to choose from these days:  Wizard of Oz!, Star Wars, I Love Lucy!, Star Trek, Cartoons, Cats, Dogs – you name it!

 

4. Use Photo Fabric for the Ultimate Personalization. I love this idea as it instantly creates a super fun memorial pillow.  There are many brands of photo fabric out there – but for me, I find these two brands EQ Printables or June Tailor Computer Printer Fabric to be the most reliable and both are available at your local quilt shop or Joann’s Fabrics.

 

ModTV Image 3

Here’s a block I made as a gift to Jenny Doan at the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

IMG_5384

Here are a few tips when working with photo fabric:

Resize your photo to a 5″ x 7″ – but make sure when you trim the photo to 4″ x 6″ that you have left ample head room to do so and you wont be cutting off someone’s head ! Also color correct it and “sharpen” it if needed with your photo app or photo program on your computer.

Before printing on the photo fabric, print the image on a paper – waste a lot of paper until you are sure you have the image correctly sized and framed within the final 4″x6″ margins!   Photo Fabric is very expensive and you usually only get 5 or so sheets in a packet.

When you are ready to print the image on photo fabric, do not print your image using the fine or photo settings on your inkjet printer.  This will lay down way too much ink on the photo fabric and your image will appear very dark and may even smudge as it comes through your printer. Just use the regular settings and the photo should print on the phot fabric just fine!

To heat set the image so the block can be washed,  follow the photo fabric manufacturer’s directions.  Each company is slightly different!  Full disclosure here – I don’t heat set my photo fabric as I don’t wash my blocks.  Many of the projects I make are samples or for display only. There are ways though to heat set so you may want to print a test photo and try it first before your final photo printing!

Complete Your TV Block into a Wallhanging or Pillow —

To Make Into a Wallhanging – Once the TV screen has been fused and stitched in place, just add some batting and a backing fabric square that is 12-1/2″ x 12-1/2″.  Then quilt the block as desired and bind to create a small wallhanging.

I like to use a straight stitch or even my serpentine stitch (#4 on the Bernina) to stitch lines about a 1/4″ apart.  It looks like radio waves or TV signals!

 

If you did not want to bind your ModTV block, you could frame it using a 12″ x 12″ record album frame from Michael’s Arts & Crafts!

To Make Into a Pillow – As above, once the TV screen has been fused and stitched in place, just add some batting and 2 backing fabric rectangles that measure 9-1/2″ x 12-1/2″.  Also purchase a 12″ x 12″ pillow form from your local shop.   Place the batting on the wrong side of the block and machine quilt the block using a decorative stitch as described above or just stitch around the TV shape to give the block some texture.

For the backing of the pillow – Turn and press only one 9-1/2″ outer edge (not the 12-1/2” edge though) of each backing piece 1/4” over twice to the wrong side to encase the raw edge. Topstitch down the edge to secure.

IMG_1462

Place the two backing fabric units RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER over the MODTV block and stitch around all sides. Turn the unit right side out and poke out the corners. Stuff with a 12” x 12” travel pillow form through the slit on the backside.

This now concludes our ModTV QuiltAlong – send me your pictures so we can see your cute and fun retro TV sets!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonky Piecing & Easy Applique QAL – Week 4 – Easy Machine Applique & Finish

Wonky Week 3 Slug 4Welcome back!   It’s our final week – Week #4 – of our Wonky Piecing & Easy Appliqué QuiltAlong !  This week is all about applique stitching your animal shapes to your background fabric and then finishing off your project into either a wallhanging or pillow!

I’ll also be sharing with you how to get your sewing machine ready for machine applique, how to do some basic applique stitches, sew in and out of points and some very  general “rules of the road” to perfect your own applique stitch!  So let’s get started!

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First off, my biggest tip to perfect applique stitching is: practice, practice practice….  Machine applique requires practice and alot of patience.  You may want to review this blog post, watch my companion video or subscribe to our Colourwerx UTube channel.  Then set yourself up with some basic scrap shapes like squares and circles on a background fabric and practice, practice, practice.

But first things first….

Set Your Machine Up For Success –
Here’s how I set my machine up for a day of applique:
1.  Open Toe Presser Foot – a must!  Notice that this foot  has no bars or metal in the middle of the two outer prongs – this allows you to see the “open road” ahead of you while stitching.  For me, it is a must have before I start any applique stitching;

Open Toe
2.  Schmetz 90/14 Quilting Needle – here we go again 🙂  but this size and type needle is perfect for applique stitching and allows me to switch from thread to thread regardless of the thread thickness as I applique stitch;

Needle
3.  Bobbin Thread – Regardless of the thread you choose for stitching around your shapes, I always use a neutral colored cotton 50 weight thread in the bobbin – usually the same weight and color thread that I piece my quilts with — something like a tan or light grey Aurifil 50 weight (look for the orange colored spool) works well.  Although the exception to this is that if the piece will be finished as a wallhanging and I have already pre-quilted the background fabric, I will match my bobbin thread to the backing fabric – again, using a 50 weight thread;


4.  Set Your Stitch to ZigZag – This is stitch #2 on my Bernina machine and my go-to stitch settings are: Width – 3.0, and Length – just under 0.8-0.9.  This seems to be good starting point for me.  Your machine may be slightly different and more than likely, you’ll need to adjust your settings as you practice and gain more confidence.

Machine 1
5.  Very Important:  Test Your Stitch & Adjust Your Tension – Once you have your machine set up, test your machine by stitching out a straight line of zigzag stitches.

Test 1

Check your tension –   common issues are these:
If you see the bobbin thread (gray) on top like this, adjust your tension dial to a higher number;

Test 2

If you see the top thread (orange) on the bottom of your stitches like this, adjust your tension dial to a lower number;

Test 3

If your stitches “caterpillar” like this – you’ll need to attach a stabilizer to the wrong side  of your background fabric.

Test 4

Sulky

Stabilizer is just as the name suggests:  it provides stability to your stitching and helps to avoid distorted stitches.  Any stabilizer (like you use with digitized embroidery machines) will work just fine and even freezer paper works in a pinch!  My favorite brand is Sulky Iron On Tear Away Stabilizer.  (Sidenote:  If you pre-quilted your background fabric,  you won’t need to add a stabilizer.  The batting acts like the stabilizer.) 

Iron Your Shapes On to Your Background Fabric –
Once your machine is set up, you are ready to go and it’s time to iron your animal shapes onto your background fabric.

Score the release paper on the back of your applique shapes with a pin and then peel the release paper off.

Score

Place your shapes in place on your background fabric – making sure that those shapes  that are overlapped by others are placed down first.  Once satisfied with placement, with a hot iron, press the shapes down applying at least 10-15 seconds of heat to the shape to secure it firmly to your background fabric.

Pattern Ease

You might want to make an overlay sheet for something like the ModFish which has several shapes overlapped on one another.  This can be made from tracing paper or a dress making interfacing product called Pattern – Ease which is sold at stores like Joann’s.  Pattern Ease is a non fusible, woven lightweight interfacing.  I like it because I can trace my pattern on it, place it over my background and then move the individual shapes into place under the Pattern Ease. Once satisfied, I can iron right through the Pattern Ease to secure the shapes in place.

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Additionally, I like to fuse the smaller shapes onto their bigger shapes and stitch around those smaller shapes before fusing that bigger shape onto the background fabric.  Great examples of this are: the ModCat head and eyes and eyelids, or the ModDog eyeball; or the ModFish eye, or ModFish fin on the belly! .

Small Shapes

Why make your job harder?  Take for example the ModCat head, once the eyes and eyelids are fused in place, I leave the release paper on the wrong side of the head as it acts as a stabilizer and then I applique stitch around those shapes…I only have to wrestle with the head and concentrate on making my stitching around the eyes perfect and not deal with the whole background fabric, etc.  Easy-peazy!

Applique Stitching “Rules of the Road” –
I’ll do my best to explain these here on the blog but if you are more of a visual learner than I would encourage you to check out my companion video to this week’s quilt along which is now posted on our Colourwerx website and Colourwerx UTube channel.

1. Starting: Whenever I start, I like to bring my bobbin thread to the top.  This stops all of those nasty thread nests from occurring as you start. Turning your hand wheel one whole rotation, lower the needle into the fabric and then all the way back up again.  Pull on the top threads and pop the bobbin thread up to the top.  Now hold onto both the top and bobbin threads to start stitching. Secure the start of your stitch by either engaging your “secure stitch function” (check your manuals) or taking a stitch in place.   You can also just start stitching and when you finish going around the shape, you can bring all the threads to the backside, knot the threads and tie off.

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2.  Start Stitching:  Notice the photos below – the needle is “zagging” just to the outside of the applique shape and then “zigging” back onto the shape itself.  The foot is NOT really positioned in “dead center” of the shape and the background fabric.  The foot actually rides more onto the applique shape itself .  This is where I personally like my zig zag stitch to fall when I stitch.

3.  Stitching Around Curves:  Again check out the companion video as that might help, but the general rule on stitching around curves is as follows:

if it’s an outside curve, stop and pivot on the on the outside edge:  to do this, stop with the needle down on the OUTSIDE edge of the applique, lift the presser foot with the needle still down,  pivot (or turn toward you) the applique piece ever so slightly, drop the presser foot and take a stitch or two until you feel you need to stop again and pivot to maintain your stitch quality and position on the edge of the applique;

 

…if it’s an inside curve, stop and pivot on the inside edge: just as above, stop with the needle down on the INSIDE edge of the applique, lift the presser foot with the needle still down,  pivot (or turn away from you) the applique piece ever so slightly, drop the presser foot and take a stitch or two until you feel you need to stop again and pivot to maintain your stitch quality and place on the edge of the applique.

When you are turning the corner and the stitch is falling on the outside edge of the applique, try to aim for the same exact point as you go around the corner (see the 4th picture where the purple pen indicates).

Straightaways are easy – curves and circles are not so easy because it requires patience and lots of stop and pivots , stops and pivots to stitch around the curve.  You might find that it will take you just as long to stitch around a small curve as it does for you to stitch the rest of the applique with straightaways. A great example of this is the top of the cat tail or the little paws on the Mini ModDog.   Be patient, slow down and practice.

3.  Stitching In and Out Of A Point: There are some really beautiful ways of stitching in and out of points but this requires dialing your stitch width down and up again as you keep stitching (meaning reducing your stitch width as you approach the point and then increasing your stitch width as you stitch out of the point)…this is a little like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time and takes a lot of practice.

I prefer to do a more “lazy man’s” way of stitching in and out of points.  Stitch all the way down and directly over the point. Keeping the needle down, lift your presser foot and pivot the piece so that it is now at a 45 degree angle to the presser foot.  Take one, (sometimes two) complete stitches so the needle is again on the outside edge but on the opposite side of the point.  Again keeping the needle down, lift the presser foot and pivot the piece so you are ready to stitch down the new side.  Continue on stitching.   It’s appears a bit bulky but it works!

Now with that and a little practice – applique away!

Finish your Animal –
To Make Into a Wallhanging – Once all appliqué stitching is complete, trim your project down so the edges are neat and even.  Here are the approximate measurements of my samples to give you an idea:
•  Mini MoDog 12-1/2″ x 16-1/2″
•  ModCat – 15″ x 21″
•  ModFish – 21″ x 14-16

Bind the wallhanging as desired.

To Make Into a Pillow – Once all appliqué stitching is complete, trim your project down so the edges are neat and even. I’ll explain in detail below what I do for a Mini ModDog, but if you are making a Cat or Fish, you may want to find the appropriate size pillow form first and then cut the project 1/2″ larger than the pillow size and then size the backing fabric accordingly using the Mini ModDog examples below.

Trim the Mini ModDog to 12-1/2″ X 16-1/2″.

I use a Travel Pillow Form for my Mini ModDogs that measures 12″ x 16″.

Cut the Backing Fabric into 2 pieces: 12-1/2” x 14-1/2” and 12-1/2” x 12-1/2”.  Turn and press only one outer edge (not the 12-1/2” edges though) of each backing piece 1/4” over twice to the wrong side to encase the raw edge. Topstitch down the edge to secure. Place the two backing fabric units RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER over the Mod Dog and stitch around all sides. Turn the unit right side out and poke out the corners. Stuff with a 12” x 16” travel pillow form through the slit on the backside.

This now concludes our Wonky Pieced & Easy Applique QuiltAlong – send me your pictures so we can see your cute and fun Wonky Pieced Mod Animals!!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonky Piecing & Easy Applique QAL – Week 3 – Machine Quilt the Background

Wonky Week 3 SlugWelcome back!   It’s Week #3 of our Wonky Piecing & Easy Appliqué QuiltAlong !  This week we’ll be machine quilting the background fabric.

There are so many different ways you can machine quilt the background fabric and anything goes so don’t be afraid to use this little quilt along project to experiment:

•  you could practice your free motion quilting and simply stipple the background;
BG Quilt 1
•  you could practice ‘matchstick quilting’ – this is simply stitching straight lines about 1/4″ apart up and down over the background fabric; or,

BG Quilt 2
•  you could mark diagonal lines about 3″ apart, set your machine to a decorative stitch and stitch a crosshatch pattern.

BG Quilt 3

Really – anything goes, so have fun ….

But I’d like to share with you three of my favorite machine quilting patterns that look “artsy”, are pretty easy to do and imho, make a great quilted background for smaller quilts like these.  I’ll do my best to explain how to do these patterns here in the blog but if you are more of a visual learner than I would encourage you to check out my companion video to this week’s quilt along which will be posted on our Colourwerx website and Colourwerx UTube channel in a few days.

Linda Week 3

These are the three patterns I use most often:
•  The Wonky Slanted Line pattern – you see this most often in my Mini ModDog pillows and quilts, and if you have the Mini ModDog pattern, you’ll find instructions on how to do this pattern on page 2;

Wonky Slanted

•  The Curvaceous Quilting Pattern – easy to do and very relaxing!

Curvaceous

•  The Wonky Chevron Pattern – this is fun and  is wonderfully forgiving.

Wonky Chevron

Create the Quilting Sandwich —
First you’ll need to gather your Background Fabric (a fat quarter or a piece about 18″ x 21″) , and a scrap piece of batting or fusible batting of the same size.  If you’ve already decided to make your animal into a wallhanging, then you should also gather a fat quarter size of fabric to use as your backing fabric too. (If you are making a pillow, you don’t need to add a backing fabric unless of course you think you might wash the pillow in the future).

Place the batting on the WRONG side of the Background Fabric and secure.  You can do this by safety pinning the two layers together or using a fusible adhesive spray like 505 Temporary Spray Adhesive.  If you are making a wallhanging, go ahead and fuse (or safety pin)  your backing fabric to the other side of the batting as well.    You now have your quilting sandwich ready for machine quilting.

FuseWonky Slanted

Let’s get started with the first quilting pattern –

#1 – The Wonky Slanted Line Pattern —
When I quilt this pattern, I like to use a chunky thread – like the Aurifil 12 weight – and a variety of different thread colors – usually I choose 5-6 different colors.  But this method also looks very nice with any variegated thread or even just a lovely solid thread.

Also just a tip – if you are using a a chunkier thread, make sure you change your sewing machine needle to a larger size.  I prefer to use the Schmetz 90/14 Quilting Needle.  This size accommodates a variety of different weight threads with no problems.

schmetz-quilting-needles-size-90-14-184-p
The first step is to draw a few wonky lines on your background fabric.  With a iron off marker (or water soluble pen), just drop your ruler at a slant and draw a line.  Slant the ruler in opposite direction and draw another line.  You can also use a Hera marker to make these lines as well.  Hera Markers are sold at all quilt shops and actually just crease your fabric with the rounded edge – so no fear of a marker staining the fabric or never coming off.

Start with about 3-4 lines and with your first thread color.  Set your machine to a straight stitch, leave the feed dogs up and put your walking foot on (or engage your even feed system).  Also set your stitch length to about 3.0 so the stitches are a bit longer.   Stitch directly across those drawn lines.

Wonky 1

Mark another 3-4 lines.  Switch threads if you’d like, and stitch on those lines.

Wonky 2

Continue adding wonky slanted lines and stitching until you have filled the background fabric.


Voila!  Done And it looks super especially behind your dog, cat or fish!Curvaceous

#2 – The Curvaceous Quilting Pattern —
I really love doing curvy quilting – it looks very artsy and I love the movement it provides to the background fabric.  I use this pattern alot when making the ModFish as it gives the feeling that the fish are swimming with the movement the curved lines create.

To start, again set your machine to a straight stitch, leave the feed dogs up and put your walking foot on (or engage your even feed system).  Also set your stitch length to about 3.0 so the stitches are a bit longer.  Start in the middle of the fat quarter and just stitch straight stitches from the top to the bottom, gently ‘ungulating’ from right to left creating a curved stitched line.  Think of driving down a country road – no sharp turns.

Curvy 1

Move over about 2-3″ and stitch another curvy line.  Again move over another 2-3″ and stitch another curvy line.  Keep filling the background with curved stitched lines about 2-3″ apart.
Curvy 2
To fill in the background, next begin to stitch in between the stitched lines with more curvy quilting.  How dense you make the curvy quilting is entirely up to you.  I find that it really depends upon my mood – some curvaceous quilting is quilted quite dense and some not so much…again, anything goes and stop when it looks good to you!

That’s it – doesn’t that look great!?!?Wonky Chevron

#3 – The Wonky Chevron Pattern —
This is a fun pattern, looks great with a variegated thread and one that I use alot on my little ModCat wallhangings .  Once again, set your machine to a straight stitch leave the feed dogs up and put your walking foot on (or engage your even feed system).

The first step is to draw a few chevron-like lines across the center portion of your background fabric.  With a iron off marker (or water soluable pen),  just drop your ruler slanting it right and left and draw wonky angles or chevrons. Don’t worry about making the chevrons too even or regimented – in fact the more uneven they are the better!
Chev 1

Stitch directly on the drawn line  (it’s ok if you are not directly on the drawn line – it’s more of a guide for you to start from…)  Now move down about an inch and “echo” the same chevron pattern but don’t try to be too perfect – in fact, adding little changes or additional little chevrons to “mix it up” as you stitch along makes it look more artsy.

Chev 2

Keep echoing and stitching  out from the middle drawn first chevron until you reach the edge.  Turn the background fabric around and start to do the same chevron echo stitching from the middle drawn line out to the other edge filling up the background fabric with wonky chevron lines.   Check that out!

What fun!  🙂  I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!  be sure to chedk out the companion video to this week’s blog coming out in a few days on the Colourwerx website and Colourwerx UTube channel .

That’s it for Week #3!!  Next week – our final week – Week #4: we’ll be machine applique stitching our animal shapes onto the background fabric and I’ll be sharing some tips and tricks with you!

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

Wonky Piecing & Easy Applique QAL – Week 2 -Wonky Piecing Made Simple & Cutting Out Your Animal Shapes!

Wonky Week 2 SlugWelcome back!   It’s Week #2 of our Wonky Piecing & Easy Appliqué QuiltAlong !  This week we’ll be creating our Wonky Piecing Strip Sets, fusing your animal shapes onto those strips sets and then cutting out the animal shapes.

If you’re just joining us this week, be sure to review Week #1’s Blog Post to find out how to purchase the pattern and what fabrics and materials you’ll need to gather –

READ WEEK #1’S POST BY CLICKING HERE

Also, just a friendly reminder!   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

Let’s get started! —
I love ‘wonky piecing’!  It’s liberating, easy to do and best of all you don’t need to have an exact or even perfect 1/4″ seam.   First, gather your strips.

Lay out the strips near your sewing machine in a pleasing manner.  This can be in whatever order you think looks good and there is no right or wrong. I’ll be making a ModCat with you while we quilt along together so here are my strips laid out on the cutting board in what looks like to me a very pleasing manner.

Wonky 1

Follow the directions for wonky piecing in your patterns:  MiniModDog – Page 1; ModCat – pages 3-4; ModFish – pages 4-5.  In the pattern you’ll find fully illustrated diagrams to assist you.

But first I want to share a little trick that I like to do.  I like to “audition” the wonky angle before stitching 2 strips together. Begin your wonky piecing with the two bottom strips.

Here’s what I do to “audition” the angle before stitching:  I place the top strip Right Side Up on the other strip, slanting it at an angle or in the case below, slanting from top left to bottom right  – this allows you to “audition” the wonky angle before stitching it.

Wonky 2

Once satisfied with your “slant”, just flip the the top strip over on top of the bottom strip mimicking that angle so the strips are now Right Sides Together.

Wonky 3

Next just stitch the strips together and cut away the extra fabric beyond the stitching line as per your pattern instructions.

To add the next strip, just take the third strip in sequence, place it Right Side Together slanting in the opposite direction and “audition” the angle.  Looks good!  Ok – Flip that strip over so the strips are now Right Sides Together mimicking the angle and stitch to the second strip.

Then just continue on until your wonky pieced strip set is large enough for your animal shape.  Here are my (2) Wonky Pieced Strip Sets for my ModCat – one for the body and one for the head .

Wonky 12

And here’s an example of what some Wonky Strip Pieced Sets might look like for a ModDog or ModFish:

Now you’re done with your Wonky Piecing and the real fun begins…fusing your animal shapes onto the wrong side of the strips sets and cutting out your animal shapes out!!

First, Rough Cut Out Your Shapes From the Fusible Web —
This step seems to confuse some people. 

Simply put, it means to cut out your animal shapes from the fusible web 1/4″-1/2″ BEYOND THE DRAWN LINE NOT ON THE DRAWN LINE like so…

Rouch Cut

Next, fuse your shapes to the WRONG side of your wonky pieced strip sets.  Also fuse the other shapes to the your selected fabrics at this time:  for example, the dog collar, or let’s say the fish faces or cat eyelids, etc…

With a sharp pair of scissors, cut out the shapes on the drawn line – take your time here and be exact.   Here’s my ModCat shapes all cut out.

Here’s what your ModDog or ModFish shapes might look like after being cut out:

Just a word on scissors I love these Karen Kay Buckley Precision Tip scissors pictured below.  These are about 5″ long, easy and comfortable to grip and are the perfect little pair of scissors for precision cutting of applique shapes of any size.  There are my go-to scissors for just this kind of work and I highly recommend them!

You can purchase them at your local quilt shop or any online retailer.

Cut 2

Look for a little companion video on Week #2 – Wonky Piecing to be posted in a few days!

Yay!  🙂  That’s it for Week #2!!  Next week – Week #3: we’ll be machine quilting up the background fabric and I’ll show you a few different ideas that you can incorporate into your quilting!!

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

PaintBox QAL – Week #3 – Stitching the Strips

Welcome back to Week #3 of the Colourwerx Paint Box Quilt Along!  This week is all PaintBox Front Cover copyabout stitching your strip sets together !  I love this step in the process as I find it quite relaxing to spend a few afternoons at the machine simple strip piecing the day away – no stress and eazy peazy!

Just a brief recap of where we are in the process and what the next few weeks have in store for us:
By now you’ve selected your materials and you’ve probably sorted the (40) strips into first: groups of 5 with 8 strips each group and then again into: groups of 10 with 4 strips in each group.

If you need further clarification regarding this step, refer to page 1 of the Paint Box pattern or Week #2 ‘s Blog where I discuss in depth the various ways to sort your strips into colour groups!  Also you should have gathered your two 1-yard cuts for the sashing triangles and cut strips from each of those fabrics according to the cutting directions on page 1 of the Paint Box pattern.

Week #3 – this week is all about piecing the strips.
Week #4 – we will cut the triangle shapes from the strips sets.
Week #5 – we will discuss arranging the blocks for the quilt top and sewing rows together.
Week #6 – finally concluding with steps and pictures of some some basic straight line machine quilting ideas to complete your quilt top.
PaintBox QAL Slug

Great!  You are now ready for some relaxing strip piecing! But first things first!

It’s important to set yourself and your sewing machine up for “Stitchin’ Success”!  If you prefer to watch a fun little video of the “Setting Your Machine up for Stitchin’ Success”  I have a companion video that explains the below steps….You can view it on our Colourwerx You Tube channel and also subscribe so you won’t miss future broadcasts!

VIEW THE SET YOUR MACHINE UP FOR STITCHIN’ SUCCESS VIDEO!

Linda Week 3
First let’s review how I set up my machine for stitchin’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 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!

Now you’re ready to start stitchin’ your Paint Box strips!!

Step #1 – STITCH THE STRIP ROLL GROUPINGS TOGETHER —
Ok – first things first, – if you used strips from a precut strip roll or jelly roll, make sure you have cut the strips to a width of 2″ wide.

However like I explained in Week #2’s blog post –  I confess that often times I cut the strips down to this width after I have stitched pairs of strips together.  Here’s an example:  I’ve stitched  (2) 2-1/2″ wide strips together with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  Before pressing the strips open, I place them (still Right Sides Together) on the cutting board, line up the 2″ mark of the ruler on the stitched side and then cut the width to 2″ wide. Easy Peazy!  However if this makes you nervous, then by all means, trim each of your strips to 2″ wide before stitching pairs together.

Continue stitchin’ strips together for each of the remaining nine color groupings!  Be sure to measure the strip width each time to make sure you are maintaining your scant 1/4″ seam!

Here’s what my coloured strip sets looked like after I was complete – I chose to cut my strips down to the 2″ width as I pieced the pairings together so I ended up with some lovely colorful trimmings too!


Step #2 – STITCH THE SASHING TRIANGLE STRIPS TOGETHER —

Referring to Page 3-Step #1 in the pattern, lay out your sashing strips near your sewing machine.  Start with the top strips in each pile and stitch together – again stitching a scant 1/4″ seam.

 Once the 3 strips from the top of the piles are stitched together, press the seams in the same direction and then measure the width of the strip set.  If all went well, then your strips width should match what the Paint Box pattern says on Page 3 – Step #2.    As above, you can also spritz your strip sets with a bit of starch or Mary Ellen’s Best Press at this point to give them a little body and a crisper, firmer press.

Continue strips piecing groups of 3 until you have created the appropriate number of sashing triangle strips sets!  Here’s what mine looked like when I was complete with a very relaxing weekend of strip piecing!

Strip Set 1

See – that wasn’t so bad! – eazy peazy and quite relaxing right?!?!  🙂
Strips set 3And that’s it!  You are now ready for Week #4 – Cutting the Triangles & Layout.

Make sure you have your Creative Grids Quarter Square Triangle Ruler CGRT90 CGRT90-1ready!!   I really like the Creative Grids brand of rulers! We also have these available for purchase in our Colourwerx shop!

PURCHASE THE CREATIVE GRIDS TRIANGLE RULER HERE

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 🙂 !!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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