Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Graceful Over Under Applique

There are 4 blocks in the Ocean Waves Opportunity Quilt (I've started calling it Tropical Twist) that have at the top of the design a ribbon bow. This can all be stitched out of a single fabric (easiest method), or two fabrics - one for the top loops and the other for the legs & center knot (easy), or two fabrics "twisted" to depict the ribbon bending (not EASY but fun and very elegant). Many applique artists use this design element in their quilts to depict bending leaves or twisting ribbons. The results are beautiful. Visit Mary Sorensen's site or Nancy Pearson's site for lots of gorgeous examples of patterns and quilts that incorporate this technique.

For the adventurous followers of my blog that would like to try this Over Under technique, below are the step by step instructions for use with the Template Free applique method.
1. Stitch BOTH the Over and Under fabrics in place basting exactly on the stitch line.
2. From the back insert a pin across the marked line that indicates where the Over Under clip will occur. 3. Using the pin as a guide, mark on the front where to clip the top fabric.

4. Make the clip right to the stitching line.
5. Pull back the top fabric to expose the seam allowance of the fabric underneath.
6. Mark the Under fabric to indicate where the clip needs to occur and clip to the turn line.
7. Carefully remove the basting stitches surrounding the Over Under clipping so that the seam allowances can be positioned as needed.
8. The two seam allowances will interlock at the clip.
9. Here is an example of the technique on a ribbon bow applique shape. Note that after the two seam allowances were fit together the stitch line was re-basted. This is helpful or very small or intricate shapes or to avoid fraying if the entire piece will not be finished in a single sitting.

10. Here is the finished over under edge. Notice that the lighter blue fabric edge closest to the view is UNDER the darker blue fabric. But, the lighter blue fabric furthest away from the viewer is OVER the darker blue fabric. Here is another view of the same applique shape. From this angle notice that the lighter blue fabric edge to the left of the needle is UNDER the darker blue fabric and the lighter blue fabric to the right of the needle is OVER the darker blue fabric.
Happy Stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale - AKA The Savage Quilter

Monday, October 20, 2008

Birthday Roses - too pretty to not share

This has absolutely nothing to do with applique or quilting but I had to post because the photos are so pretty. These are the birthday roses Jim gave me on the 7th of this month. This is what they looked like on the 14th. I didn't have to throw them away until last Friday the 17th.
Happy Stitching,
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale
AKA The Savage Quilter

Baltimore BOM – Block One - Split Leaves – Tips & Tricks

I finally finished the appliquéing the split leaves on the first block of our Baltimore Block of the Month. I did use the Template Free Method (also known as Back Basting) but did prepare the leaf fabric by machine. As instructed in class, I took 3-4 inch strips of the leaf fabric and sewed them by machine using a very short stitch length. I then pressed the quarter inch seams open. I trimmed the seam allowances to a scant eight inch and positioned the strip down on my background fabric. I then basted the leaves from the back and trimmed the appliqué shapes using the basting lines as a guide; all the usual steps.

BUT when I got to the points there was just way too much bulk. Just like trying to get into Levi’s between Christmas and New Year’s Day – 10 pounds of fat into a 5 pound sack. Arrghhhh!!!! Tip # 1 – I trimmed the seam allowance to almost ZERO where the two leaf fabrics join. It will never matter if the fabrics come apart in this area because it is all turned under and the leaf edge is securely appliquéd down. I angled the cut sharply so that the seam allowances right where the edge turns is only a scant eighth inch is but the very edge is zero. The leaf point turned like a dream with almost no extra bulk in the point. If only ALL extra bulk could be as easily discarded!!!

After the leaves were all appliquéd down it was time to do the embroidery. This was not as easy for me to master as the bulky points. We were instructed to try either the reverse buttonhole stitch or an elongated lazy daisy stitch. I quickly eliminated the reserve buttonhole stitch because it made the leaves look like cactus. I made a mental note that if I ever decide to make a Cowboy Album quilt this is the perfect stitch for desert plants! So now I’m left with lazy daisy stitches. I had several false starts where I ripped all the stitches out and had to start over. They just looked awful! I elongated them more and they looked odd. I shortened them and they look even odder. And to make it worse, even after all the effort to complete the embroidery, from 2 feet away you couldn’t even see it. I was just going to skip the embroidery altogether and call it a day when I had my Ah Ha moment! Tip # 2 – the color of the embroidery thread makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in the world. At first I was using a dark blue green embroidery thread in the same color family as the background (my PERFECT background that is) and the leaf colors. It was dull, added nothing to the block, and because I was using only one strand, disappeared right into the background. The eye just blended everything! Of course I was using all my color tools and following all the RULES – the way only a kid who went to Catholic school for 16 years and only got 1 demerit could do – yes 16 if you count collage! Fortunately, my husband was a bold fresh kid that did not bend to the will of the nuns and he suggested - “try another color – ANY color – that looks so boring”. Trembling, sure I would be punished; I selected embroidery thread in a dull gold color that was in one of the leaf fabrics. WOW!!! The block just popped!

The photos don’t do it justice but in person you can really see how it adds just the right spark to the block. I just KNOW somehow, somewhere my punishment for breaking the rules is lurking. But my block is coming out to pretty I don’t care – la di da....
Once the color was right it was easy to figure out Tip #3 – proportion matters! Using only one strand of floss, the elongated lazy daisy stitches were definitely the way to go. But at first they looked a little odd and I thought it was because the slant of the stitch was off. Not so! It was the proportion between the length of the stitch and the width between the stitches. If I kept the width between the stitches about the same as the height of the stitch they started to really look nice. And then I discovered that I could gradually reduce the size and width between stitches so I could make smaller stitches at the point and even adjust the slant of the stitch. I’m sure the embroidery police would have a field day finding flaws in my stitches. I guess they can get in line behind the color police!

Until next time, happy stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale
Aka The Savage Quilter

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fabric Folding Fun - No Origami Experience Required

Here I am attempting to fold one of THREE pieces of PERFECT background fabric. I had just pulled it out of the dryer and asked Jim to help me. He agreed to help but only if I let him take a photo. It took him a while to get the shot because at first he was laughing so hard he couldn’t look through the viewfinder. Then I had to wait for him to find the wide angle lens. Then I had to wait for him to laugh some more. Anyway, one end is by the front door and I’m up on the first landing. The fabric stretches across the dining room, living room and up the stairs. Feel free to contact me if you can recommend a tractor trailer slip cover pattern that doesn’t have any buttons or a zipper – you know how I hate to sew!

Oh boy, the second class of the Baltimore BOM is this Saturday and I only have about a third of the leaves stitched, Yikes! I do have an excellent excuse – work – you know that thing to do so that you can have enough money to do what you REALLY like to do. It’s been crazy and the only way I could catch up was putting in extra hours in the evenings and on weekends – my prime time stitching hours. But I have good news and I have better news. My employer is graciously awarding me COMP time in exchange for my extra hours AND I will be putting these hours to good use by traveling to scenic Lakeland, Florida to take 3 days of classes with Sharon Schamber . Yippee! She and Diane Gaudynski are my quilting inspiration. I’m taking a second class with Diane next year but that’s a story for a different blog.

As of this week I caught up at work (so back to my usual 50-60 hours a week) and have been happily working on my projects. Jim promised to take some photo for me this weekend so I can share them with you along with tips on Over Under Appliqué (for our Opportunity Quilt) and Split Leaves (for the Baltimore BOM).

Until next time, happy stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale

Aka The Savage Quilter

Join the appliqué journey

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tips & Tricks

Hi fellow quilt lovers! Here's the latest on the Ocean Waves 2009/2010 Opportunity Quilt...
Except for the Bougainvillea block, all the piece and parts have been handed out to the team of volunteers. Yippee! I have received several emails regarding color choices so I wanted to write a few lines on that topic and hopefully put everyone at ease.
As you stitch on your block, the guiding principle is "Go with what you like and what is pleasing to you." Of course I think this is good advice no matter what you are stitching. Otherwise, the joy just seems to get sucked right out of a project. Now that I think about it, this probably translates to many aspects of our life. For example, I LIKE Dairy Queen Ice Cream Sundae’s (I’m lying I really LOVE them). They are definitely pleasing to me. AND, when I can’t have them it definitely sucks…you get the point.

Anyway, back to quilting. A few guidelines (the only hard rule is that there are no rules)

1. In general use “greyer” or “duller” versions of a color for shapes located furthest back from the viewer. For example, make the back petals of a flower from a duller pink fabric and make the front petals from a brighter pink fabric.

2. To add visual interest, change the value of the fabric color as you move around an element or a block. An example would be to make flowers or leaves in the center of a block darker (or lighter) in value and make the surrounding shapes lighter (or darker).

3. You do not need to use 8 completely different fabrics for a flower with 8 petals. You can use a single mottled fabric and fussy cut lighter & darker areas from it. Or, you can repeat 2 or 3 fabrics.

4. The key to a realistic flower or leaf is to stay in the same color family when selecting fabrics for each shape, i.e. either cool or warm tones. In a single flower I would not mix a blue pink with a peach pink unless that is how it occurs in nature. Even in something like a pansy which can have deep purple petals and yellow petals I would try to select a purple and a yellow that shares similar characteristics – i.e. bright & clear, OR soft & muted, OR pastel. I would NOT choose a bright & clear yellow and then a muted pastel purple.

I hope these tips help and everyone is having fun stitching!

Here are some photos my husband took of me while I was drafting the final versions of the patterns.

As you can imagine, I went through quite a few erasers! Before I knew it I had quite a pile of eraser crumbs beneath my feet. But when I quit drawing for the evening I decided I was too tired and would not sweep them up until the next day. Well, the next day I decided to iron some fabric before I sat down to draw. Do you see this coming??? Of course I knocked the hot iron on the floor, face down on the eraser crumbs. They melted instantly and stuck to the iron. Good news - I didn't have to sweep. And, viola! When the iron cooled down I just peeled melted eraser off the sole plate of the iron. If it hadn't stunk up the whole first floor of the house I would consider sending it in as a tip to Fons & Porter under the heading "how to avoid sweeping".
Until next time, happy stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale

Aka The Savage Quilter
Join the applique journey

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Saga of the Background continues...

Or "As the Needle Turns" (get needle turn applique? I crack myself up.)

Does this ever happen to you? I don't know how I manage to get myself into these situations! All I had to do was find a color I liked and buy about 5 yards of it for a simple BOM class at my local quilt shop. I am sure this is how many of us end up surrounded by yard and yards of fabric and taking an oath to never, ever, under any circumstances buy another piece of cloth!!! I'm still in shock.

As my blog readers may know I ordered several yards of custom hand-dyed Cherrywood fabric, in the perfect color, for my BAQ background. As soon as I had confirmation of the order, I received an email notifying me of a sale at one of my favorite online shops. Following the links I discovered the Moda version of the same PERFECT color in the $3 bargain bin in one of the shops! It was the original "perfect color" and now it's $3!! I had to order it!!! So before the month is out I will have altogether 12-15 yards of the medium aqua blue fabric , enough to do my BAQ on point, and enough for the setting triangles, borders, matching pillow case to store it, and a slip cover for a tractor trailer.

Don't forget I also have 10 yards of the original "Perfect" color that I decided was not appropriate for this project.

I swear, I am not buying another piece of fabric, never! ever! until I go to Quilt Scene on Saturday morning!

Until next time – happy stitching!

Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale Aka The Savage Quilter

Join the applique journey

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Baltimore Album Quilt with a Tropical Twist

I finally finished drafting the patterns for the Opportunity Quilt! Woohoo! In the final draft a I did make a few minor modifications. For example, when I drew out the Hibiscus Border I liked it so much I eliminated the Pineapple Border. So now all four borders are the same pattern. I also simplified the Fancy Vase in the center medallion to balance the composition. All in all I think the group will like it and the volunteers will enjoy stitching on their blocks/borders.

I stopped at Kinko's yesterday and made the copies. The background fabric has been washed, cut, and serged (to prevent raveling). I prepared small packets of "Bow" fabric for the 4 blocks that have a bow in the design. And, I already gave LaVerne the Vase fabric that coordinates with the Bow fabric. SOOOO, I think we are all set to begin. For those of you that cannot wait until OW meeting to begin stitching, I will be at Quilt Scene on Saturday morning for a class. If you let me know you are coming to pick up your pattern and background fabric I will bring it along and meet you after class (12:30 PM). Otherwise I will see you at Ocean Waves on 9/13/2008.

Until next time – happy stitching!

Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale Aka The Savage Quilter

Join the applique journey

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Baltimore Album BOM - the background fabric

Well I finally found the PERFECT background fabric for my Baltimore Album BOM!!! It's an a medium light, aqua blue. I know you are all thinking "huh?" "Aqua BLUE???" "Perfect??" What makes it a PERFECT background??? I'm so glad you asked! In my mind, the perfect color is the one that sets off all the colors you put on top of it. On Friday night I pulled samples all the colors I love from my stash and hit my favorite quilt shop early Saturday morning. Then I played! Aqua blue is the compliment (spelling) of Red so it really makes all the batiks in the red, pink, purple, burgundy family pop! The blue-ish greens blend beautifully. The "Ick" greens don't go but I reserve those for my reproduction quilts anyway. And the royal blues are gorgeous on it - perfect for the vases, birds, bows, etc. that adorne BAQ blocks.

Of course, all is not well in paradise. I couldn't find enough of this color all in one fabric - that would just be too easy. I have 1 yard in a Cherrywood hand-dye, and 3 yards in a Moda floral, tone on tone. I was able to get 9 blocks from the Moda. And if I'm REALLY careful I may be able to get 4 from the Cherrywood. However, I would have to cut it to finished size and be be extremely careful I get NO shrinkage at all when I applique. I'm no too worried about that because the beauty of the Template Free applique method is that everything comes out perfectly flat with almost no shrinkage.

I did try to find more of the Moda fabric online. But, the few sources I could find where sold out. So I had no choice but to go online and order several more yards of the my favorite Cherrywood hand-dye. Unfortunately, it's all in 2 yard increments - the only thing I really DO NOT like about Cherrywood - which means I will have to piece my borders - something else I really DO NOT like to do.

Oh well, I will suffer on.

Until next time – happy stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale Aka The Savage Quilter
Join the applique journey

P.S. - I'm having lunch with Marcia this week and will let you know the latest on her affair with the milkman!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Baltimore Album BOM

Hi everyone,
I have been so busy with work and preparing the patterns for the OW 2009/2010 Opportunity Quilt that I haven't had a chance to update you on what's going on with the Baltimore Album BOM project (the primary reason I started this group).

Well, the first session was pretty good. Lots of information, and it was fun to spend the morning with friends that I never get enough time with. We saw lots of samples and a slide show of finished BAQ (Baltimore Album Quilts)to start thinking about where we want to go with this project. A major thing I learned is that DESIGN size and BLOCK size are 2 VERY different things! I still remember the first quilt I ever saw (remember I grew up in Miami so quilts were like snow - only things I read about in my Little House on the Prairie books. Or like fur coats - only things you saw on the Let's Make a Deal) and being bowled over by the graphic impact - due in part to the size of the blocks. I remember reading that they were 16 inch blocks. So, for years I have been making 16” FINISHED blocks but was never able to achieve the same impact. Then last Saturday Patsy (one of the instructors and my friend) talked about enlarging and reducing the blocks and suggested we enlarge the block to 16” simply because it would be easier to stitch a grape the size of a grape rather than the size of a corn kernel. And then the clouds parted, the ray of light shown through, and the DUH moment happened! It’s not BLOCK size it’s DESIGN size!!! The block ends up being 18-20 inches finished and the design is 16 inches. I took my trusty copies to Kinko’s and was shocked at the difference a few inches made. Sad but true – SIZE DOES MATTER – at least in precious gems and Baltimore Album blocks. The first thing I did was make sure the OW quilt designs measured 16 inches and cut the background squares for that project 20 inches.

Oh, but what to do about my BAQ project? I had already cut the backgrounds a little larger thinking I would put the blocks on point. In my imagination, I pictured a 13 block BAQ, on point, on a dramatic dark background. But after my epiphany, I realized the backgrounds were not even large enough for a straight set. So now the search is on for background # 2. Questions swirling though my mind…
1) do I still want an on point set?
2) do I still want a dark background?
3) do I use just one background fabric for all the blocks or should I use different ones?
4) Do I still even want to use cotton? I have this dreamy silk dupioni (spelling?) that I bought in Paducah last year that would be the perfect color. After all BAQ are basically appliqué & embroidery, and embroidery does look gorgeous on silk. Yeah, but I don’t think I have enough fabric and I’m not sure I have enough courage to take such a bold chance
5) will Marcia ever leave Rodney for the milk man?
For answers to these and many more questions, stay tuned to “How the Quilt Turns”.

Until next time – happy stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale
The Savage Quilter
Join the applique journey

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Baltimore Album Quilt with a Tropical Twist

The Beginning...It was dark and stormy the night my Dad met my Mom ...NO, not THAT beginning...The beginning of how a Baltimore Album Quilt with a Tropical Twist came to be.

It all started when I raised my hand at our local quilt guild meeting and asked the question "Who is doing next year's Opportunity Quilt?" Next thing I knew I was in charge and had a group of 15 volunteers. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Especially since I am an official card-carrying member of Quilt Fanatics (not really true) and addicted to all things applique (very true). This all happened about three weeks ago.

Since then we have already had our official kickoff meeting, and except for being 10 minutes late to my own meeting, it went extremely well! At the meeting I shared sketches of patterns I drafted (applique of course) in the style of a Baltimore Album Quilt. The theme I chose was Tropical Flowers. No one barfed so I guess they will do.

I then showed everyone the background fabric that a small group of us had chosen. This small group is also in a Baltimore Album Class at our local quilt shop, Quilt Scene in South Miami. While there we spotted the PERFECT background fabric. A light green on green cotton print. The pattern (vines, leaves, flowers) is even perfect to follow for free hand quilting if we choose to not mark the background - not too dense and not too sparse. The green is perfect too - one of those colors that any other color would look great on.

We decided that instead of making up kits, that we would let each volunteer (one to a block/border/etc.) select their own fabrics from their own stash. The only guideline is that they must use a batik or hand-dyed fabric that is pre-washed. A call has gone out to all guild members that we are looking for batiks for this project so I don't anticipate a shortage of batiks or making too much of a dent in any single person's stash. The only tough one will be "whites" for the Gardenia Wreath with Bow block. But we will be fine.

Currently, I am busy trying to finish inking, numbering, and notating the patterns so that they can be handed out to the volunteer stitchers at our next guild meeting.

I will post photos of the patterns and fabrics shortly, and as the weeks progress, post the finished blocks themselves.

Happy stitching,

aka The Savage Quilter!
Join the applique journey