Monday, March 27, 2017

My Vote is In

I have been hand stitching the binding on my big-ish quilt, but it is so tedious that after awhile I switch to quilting the background for my dog quilt.  This is the quilt on which I tried the Modpodge technique instead of fusible (scroll back to last week's post for directions).

**Easy to prepare.

**Cut patterns right side up.  Easy.

**Fuses down nicely ("Glossy" version), although a couple of sharp points have worked loose, but only the tips.

**Edges don't fray.

**Does not gum up the sewing machine needle.

**Have to let it dry for an hour after painting the Modpodge on the fabric.

**Using "Glossy" the fabric is definitely stiffer than traditional fusing material.

**It is tough to sew through.  My machine does it just fine, but using a needle to bury the
threads dug a hole in my finger.  The stitching doesn't bury itself down into the batting as much as I would like.

**Because of the stiffness I don't think the quilting has as much puff as it normally would.  However, I am using a low-loft batting so I am guessing.

My vote is in.  I mostly don't like the heavy stiffness because it prevents the fabric from flowing under the quilting needle - sort of like pushing card stock and trying quilt it.  Using the "Fabric" variety of Modpodge probably doesn't make it so stiff, but it also doesn't iron down securely.  I won't be using this as a regular part of my sewing.  Anyone want some Modpodge?

No way to capture the stiffness in a photo, but I was still able to quilt it.

TIP:  Don't let a fail stop you from trying new things.  You never know until you try if a new process fits you.

I wonder what would happen if I diluted the Modpodge a little.  Time for some scientific experimentation.  Later!

I have used Softfuse for several years and like it better than anything else.  You can purchase it on Amazon.  One of my local quilt stores carries it, but it is generally harder to find than some other brands.  It comes with paper on only one side so patterns have to be reversed if you draw them on the paper side, but I have a work-around for that.

How do I manage a work-around for the pattern?  I iron fusible to the back of a reasonable amount fabric before cutting pieces. Set the prepared fabric on a pressing sheet (silicone or teflon) right side up, fusible down.   Then iron the freezer paper pattern to the right side of the fabric, cut it out and pull the pattern off (like I did with Modpodge).  The fabric lifts right off the pressing sheet, fusible still on the back.  I try to gauge how much fabric to prepare so I don't have a lot of extra fabric with fusible on it.  You can always fix some more and it doesn't have to dry like Modpodge.

I wrote the above two days ago, but this morning while walking my dog in the fog I had a brilliant idea.  It is not really new, but I just adapted it to Modpodge.  One thing I really like about the Modpodge technique is the non-fraying edges.  So here is my idea.  Cut loosely around the pattern leaving about 1/8 inch beyond the edges.  Then paint only the outer edges with the Modpodge.  Let it dry then cut the details of the pattern.  It will keep the edges from fraying.  It will iron to the background fabric.  It will still be soft in the middle.  You won't have useless, stiff, leftover fabric scraps.  You could still use some fusible in the center if it is a large piece.  Worth a try, don't you think?

Sew some happy seams this week!  I wish you a bunch of new ideas to think about.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Stepping Out

Last week I suggested you try something new so I followed my own advice and changed the order of binding my quilt.  I wanted a small feather to meander on the one-inch border of the quilt.  I had to be very careful not to stitch where the binding would cover the quilting.  That's a tall order on such a narrow binding.  I decided to stitch the binding on first and do the quilting after that, but I didn't hand stitch it to the back.  I'll do that later.

When you do a lot of heavy quilting you will notice that the unquilted outer edges get a bit ruffled.  This is natural and normal, but can cause problems.  I was worried about potential puckers when I sewed the binding on.  For the umpteenth time I watched Sharon Schamber's video on applying a straight binding.  She glues every step of the way, so I did, and that stabilized the fabric, which allowed me to lay the binding down without puckers or pleats before stitching.  It also stiffened it, which made the sewing easier and more accurate.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I realized that I had achieved success.

TIP:  If you are fussy, I highly recommend Sharon Schamber's U-tube tutorial on bindings.  If you show your quilts it is a must see.

Now, the binding was on and I had to quilt that narrow border.  There was still some excess fabric with which to contend, but I dove in and quilted one side.  Wow!  All excess fabric quilted out perfectly and filled the feathers.  Not all my trials turn out so well so I am dancing the happy dance.

Excess fabric at left.  Quilted border on right.  Unfinished binding on outer edge.

Note the double freezer paper pattern in the back.  That is for marking the spine of the feathers.  The feathers themselves I quilted freehand.

(The safety pin is a reminder that I need to restitch that spot.  You can't see it, but the stitching is ragged and there is a visible knot.  That is a quick and easy re-do.)

TIP:  You don't have to be as fussy as I am, but I spent a lot of time designing and sewing this quilt.  I will definitely be showing it.  If you want to win anything you have to be fussy and binding is a critical issue among the judges.

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you success in a new endeavor.

Monday, March 13, 2017


The quilting is done.  What a letdown and yet a relief.  Now I need to block it.  Not my favorite activity.  I keep my styrofoam blocking board in our detached garage, which keeps it in good shape and out of the way.  Unfortunately, the mountains have been full of tremendous winds in the last week and trying bring the board into the house would be insane.  Meanwhile that project is on hold until DH can bring board in.

I started redoing my picture of our dog Dixie.  You can read what happened to that project several months ago here.  After looking at the little quilt for all this time and still loving it, I finally decided what to do.  It came together so well first time around that I really didn't want to start over.  So...I cut the dog off the quilt, trimmed it carefully, and then painted the edges with Inktense pencil and medium.  A tiny bit of batting showed only on the cut edge because I had already quilted it.  I heat set the color by ironing the edges.  So, it is ready to thread paint onto a new, quilted background.

The background pieces were fixed to muslin (as the dog is), but I had to do that part over because the fusible gummed up my needle so badly.  I managed to quilt the dog in spite of the problems.  I decided to use a new technique developed by Lara Bucella, which she writes about in her book, "Crafted Appliqué - New Possibilities."

TIP:  Get her book to get complete directions.

Instead of using fusible web she uses Modpodge to adhere fabric to fabric.  I remember using that for decoupage many years ago.  Today Joann's carries a large variety of Modpodge glues.  You paint the Modpodge onto the back of the fabric and let it dry (an hour or so).  Make sure it doesn't soak through to the front.  I lay it all on a garbage bag to protect the surface of my table.  Use a light hand with a foam brush, which can be washed clean and used again.  When dry, cut your pieces and iron them onto a fabric background.  One of the real benefits is that the edges stay sharp - no fraying - beautiful!

There are several labels on Modpodge, so what is the right one to use?

**"Fabric" (blue label):  Treated fabric pieces cling to the background fabric in the planning stage.  They will not stay forever even when ironed so you need to stitch the pieces down when you have them where you want them.

**"Gloss" (red label):  When ironed it will stick tight.  I used this today and found that I could gently, but firmly pull it off if necessary, but it does iron on pretty securely.  I will still quilt it later.  It has about the same stiffness as fusible web.  It is supposed to wash well, but I haven't tried that yet.

Supplies for Modpodge fusing.

The author says that freezer paper patterns will gently adhere to the back of the Gloss treated fabric, but I had no success with that.  Those patterns have to be reversed.  What I did discover is that I could cut the freezer paper pattern right side up.  Set the treated fabric on a non-fabric pressing cloth (silicone or teflon) right side up, glue side down, and lightly iron the freezer paper to the right side of the fabric.  It stays put long enough to cut the pattern.  None of this turning yourself inside out trying to get your brain around backwards patterns.  The pieces are cut about 1/16 inch larger than the pattern so adjoining pieces will overlap and iron on to each other.  I ironed the pieces together on the silicone sheet and was able to lift them up as a unit ready to place on the muslin background.

Treated fabric on pressing cloth with pattern underneath.  It all sits on my light table.
TIP:  If you are following a special design or pattern, place a copy of that design under the pressing sheet (hopefully you have one that you can see through) so you can see where to put the cut pieces before ironing.  I set it up on my light table so I could see the design lines better.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story.  I have to stop now to block the other quilt!

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you a new adventure - try something different.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

To Rip or Not to Rip

I just ripped off Shakespeare with that title, but he'll never know.  How do YOU decide whether to rip?  There are definite reasons, but these vary with the individual.

*Major mistake -  We probably all rip those out or throw the project in the trash.

*Poor product choice - You bought a product that looked and sounded really cool, but it turned into a disaster.  Read about my poor choices here.

**Poor color or fabric choice.

**Poor thread choice.

**Poor planning.


**You are unhappy with your work and know you can do it better

**You are a fussy quilter and strive very hard for perfection.
I could go on and on, but I did some ripping this week for about 8-10 hours.  That sounds like a lot of ripping, but I spent a third of the time tying knots and burying them, and another third restitching.  I did a really stupid thing.  While I was away from my sewing machine for two months I forgot some choices I had made before I left.

Initially I had improved my corners with an after-the-fact addition to the design of my quilt top.  This required a minor adjustment to my quilting design.  I had to flatten the circles slightly on top.  When I did the first panel I left out some little "horns," for lack of a better description.

The devil in in the details.  See the "horns?"
When I came home and started sewing again I barged right in, flattened the tops of the circles, but stitched the horns.  I did the remaining 7 panels in this manner.  When I came back to the first one I realized I had done those last 7 wrong.  Oh goodness me.  What to do?  My choice was based on the following:

**If I added the "horns" to the first one I would have to rip out a small amount of micro-stippling.  I decided that was more daunting than redoing the other seven panels.

**The "horns" were really hard to get exactly alike and symmetrical so there were variations that bothered me.  I imagine many people would never notice the diversity, but I did.

**With no "horns" the upper, squashed part of the circles look like a pretty, slender swag, but the design still retains the look of a circle.

Poor light for a photo due to heavy weather out the window, but I hope you can see the pretty swags.
TIP:  When you have been away from your project for while check your work before starting to sew to be sure you remember what you have done previously, or keep notes as you progress.  Some quilters actually keep notebooks as they go, but I don't.  I'm really good at ripping!

In the end, the decision to rip, or not, is yours based on your individual sensibilities and the purpose of the quilt.  Making a quilt for a child to drag around will lead you to different decisions than if you are making an art quilt for show.  I have ripped and I have repaired.  Today I will finish the last two corners, and then will block my quilt and bind it before doing the final quilting on a narrow border.  Eventually the end always comes when you persist.

TIP: Ask yourself these defining questions:  Is it more important to you how you feel about your work or is it more important to you how a stranger judges your work?  Some will make a choice.  Some think both are important.  I know where I stand.  What about you?

Sew lots of happy seams this this week.  I wish you no errors, but if necessary, easy ripping.