Monday, October 28, 2013

Patches the Pumpkin Patch Protector

It's completed! Patches the Pumpkin Patch Protector, whose pattern is by Jaynette Huff is done! I downloaded this pattern from Martingale - it was free and I couldn't resist....but I didn't expect to make it for a while. One day, I felt like starting something new and voila! The rest is history.

I blogged about Patches in my last post, but I'm so happy with the result that I had to share it (aka show off!).  My husband's comment was: "No offence, but he rather looks like a Calvin Klein scarecrow". No offence taken...I'll choose to take that as a compliment (it might be the white linen shirt!)

Patches the Pumpkin Patch Protector, pattern by Jaynette Huff

Here he is in all of his glory!  For now, he resides at work - it's frankly too large to put on the wall at home! That's what happens when you don't look at the measurements of a project before you start.

I want to thank Martingale for the free pattern and I need to give credit to Craftsy: First to Carol Doak for her Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing course and then to Leah Day for her Free Motion Quilting a Sampler.

I also hand appliquéd the birds - and I used the skills I learned in Kathy Wylie's class.

Free-Motion Process:

  • I marked the clouds so that I would get them right.
  • I used multi-coloured thread to stitch the wheat - both on the wheat fabric and on the horizon. I like the way it came out.
  • Quilting around the pumpkins makes them "pop".
  • You can't seem them in this picture, but the black border has pumpkins quilted on them. I made a template so that the pumpkins would all be the same size and also made a template of a pumpkin leaf since I had the horrible time trying to draw them!
Isn't it great to be putting all that learning into practice? Don't give up - it is all about practice!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ambitious Paper-Piecing Project

I’m not sure why I started this project. I had many projects in mind that I was going to make. This one wasn't even near the top of the list but somehow it was at the right place at the right time (on the top of the pile when I got bored!)

It’s the perfect time to make this project since it’s a fall scarecrow with pumpkins. I also didn't realise how large it would end up being (it’s 24 by 36 inches). The project, Patches the Pumpkin Patch Protector by Jaynette Huff, was free on one of my favourite book publishing  internet sites – Martingale. You just have to sign up. They’ll ask you to get their newsletter, which is great if you want to find out about the books that are coming out and if you want to know more about their authors. It’s one of the few newsletters that I read fairly regularly.

Here’s a picture of the pattern as well as my unfinished version.  I just need to add the patches and finishing details and then quilt it. Doesn't that black border scream for some cool quilting?

I was going to make an elaborate backing using the four pumpkins in the corners of the original pattern….but then I got side tracked with needle-turn appliqué. I also found some great backing fabric when I was taking the course last week, so I may actually finish this project before winter comes!

I have no idea where Patches is going to reside, but he’s sure to spend a few days at work with me.

What I learned:

  • It might be a good idea to look at the size of the finished quilt before starting it (I keep saying that but I’m having problems learning that one!)
  • I had the perfect hand-dyed fabric for this quilt – but I didn't want to use it! After some serious self-talk, it’s in the quilt!
  • The pattern called for 1/3 of a yard of fabric for the field background. I only had a fat quarter – but that’s the fabric I wanted. Thank goodness, it turns out that you can do a lot of fudging with paper piecing!

Happy fall from Patches and Andrée!

Learning Needle Turn Appliqué from an Expert

I had the pleasure last week of taking a hand appliqué course with international award winning quilter, Kathy Wylie. Wow, this lady knows appliqué! She was the speaker at our guild meeting last Tuesday. She’s funny, smart, knowledgeable and really down to earth. Her work is meticulous and has won many prizes. Those are actually the kind of quilts that I see at quilt shows and in magazines and automatically think that I’ll never be able to do that. Both the appliqué and the quilting are really unbelievable. She has sure earned those prizes.

I registered for the course this summer, before even knowing what we would be appliquéing. It’s just as well, or I probably wouldn't have had the confidence to take the course. We learned to appliquéd a small section of her pattern, Flourish on the Vine. Our pattern is one of the horizontal stem pieces coming out of the centre. It’s placed at both ends of the runner.
Flourish on the Vine by Kathy Wylie
Applique project

I thought I was exhausted coming home after the workshop, but once I got some supper in me, I kept going and finished the section we were working on. I even transferred the rest of the pattern onto freezer paper. It’s now all ready to cut out and be appliquéd.

Applique inside the lines
Applique Inside the Lines
I've only done needle-turn appliqué a couple of times before. Based on the book, Appliqué Inside the Lines: 12 Quilt Projects to Embroider and Appliqué by Carol Armstrong, I embroidered and appliquéd two projects that are in my cubicle.

I put aside the Flourish on the Vine project to practice a little more. I’m working on the feather project from the book that I had started but never finished. I’m doing the project as fall coloured leaves. I know that quilters will recognize them as feathers but anyone else will see leaves!

Dresden Plate

What did I learn?

  • Like anything else, the more you practice the better you get.
  • Appliqué is addictive.
  • It’s best to appliqué in really good light. It makes all the difference!
  • It’s important to have a ¼ inch to do the needle-turn. Less is NOT a good thing!
  • Kathy taught us to mark the pattern onto the fabric before doing the appliqué. It really helps! 
  • It’s also important to mark the appliqué piece on the fabric before cutting it a ¼ inch larger. This helps you guide where you should be turning and appliquéing. 
  • We learned many other things, but I’m not going to reveal all of Kathy’s secrets here. Instead, I’ll encourage you to take one of her classes!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing?

The quilting world seems to be enamored with quilts that are covered in free motion quilting. As I’m learning to free motion quilt, I can see the appeal – up to a point. A heavily quilted area will make a less quilted area pop. The effect can be quite stunning.

Partially quilted wall hanging
This is what I did with my paper pieced wall hanging. Originally, I lightly quilted the border and some of the design elements. The star and the area surrounding it were only stitched-in-the-ditch. After seeing that “popping” effect on quilts at the Philadelphia quilt show, I went back and stippled the blue area surrounding the star. What a difference this makes (the pictures, unfortunately, don't do it justice).

In this case, and because it’s a wall hanging, some background free motion quilting makes a lot of sense. What I’m not convinced of is doing this much quilting on a quilt that is made to be cuddled, such as a
Finished Sunflower Fun Wall Hanging
throw or bed cover.

A few years ago, I took a machine quilting course. To practice, I decided that I would machine quilt one of the cuddle quilts that I was making. Our guild gives these to the local hospital for premature newborn babies to help keep them warm and to brighten up the room. So, on I went to quilt the cuddle quilt with a few different motifs I had learned. It wasn't quilted densely, but more than just stitch-in-the-ditch. That practice quilt was so stiff that even Boots, my brother’s dog, wouldn't sleep on it!  I’m sure that some of that stiffness can be reduced by using different batting, but I've decided that I’ll keep practicing my free motion quilting on wall hangings and table runners and keep my quilts cuddly!