Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Machine Applique Versus Hand Applique

I've been using my strike-offs to get a start on making my Sentimental Stitches quilt in both colorways (free pattern download).

Sentimental Stitches Quilt - Green Version

Sentimental Stitches Quilt - Red Version

I love both colorways, so my plan is to try to make both after I receive more fabric. Each quilt is about 56" square with 6" appliqued blocks, so I'm hoping I can get both done.

Here are the blocks I've completed so far. Three blocks for the red version and one block for the green version:

Just for fun, I decided to have a little competition between machine applique and hand applique while making the blocks. I timed how long it would take to make one by machine with turned under edges, and how long it would take to make one with the needle turn hand applique methodI held out a little hope that needle turn by hand would reign supreme, but unfortunately, it really lost big time. Of course, I have to admit, I was watching a movie part of the time, but during the parts when I had my nose to the grindstone, I would have already finished one by machine.

Why did I want needle turn to win out? Most importantly, I find it so relaxing, and love working with a needle and thread. Second, the preparation of needle turn is a breeze. But, I added the preparation time into the total time, so unfortunately, it didn't make up for the difference in how fast a machine can stitch around the shape versus my hand!

Luckily, they all look nice in the end. Can you tell which one I stitched by hand?

Until next time,


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Do-it-yourself Pressing Station

I have long yearned for a larger pressing area to press my quilt tops in the making. I had never seen anything that quite fit my needs, until recently.

In the new August 2014 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine, fellow Henry Glass designer, Jill Finley, is featured, and she shares her tips for studio storage. One of her wonderful ideas is a fabric-and-batting covered board atop a bookcase on wheels.

Her moveable pressing station was perfect for my needs. I have a small studio, and storage is a must for any new additions - my ironing board had a lot of unused space underneath, so a bookcase was perfect! And to have a pressing station on wheels, so that I could move it out of the way if need be, was another plus!

The first step was to find a bookcase that would work - the right height and on casters if possible. After much hunting on-line I never really found anything I was happy with.  I decided to go to the local antique mall to see if I could find a second hand bookcase that fit all of my parameters.

I was in luck! I found a beautiful solid maple cabinet that was perfect. And I liked the fact that it had doors, because I prefer to have everything behind closed doors to keep my studio calm and uncluttered. And it has two drawers, too! Here is the cabinet after the casters were added to the bottom:

The cabinet after casters were added

A look inside
Next, I needed to create the pressing surface. I purchased a 24" x 48" piece of poplar at the hardware store that was 1/2" thick. First, I sealed the wood on one side to make it waterproof for steam pressing. Then, I glued two pieces of 16 1/2" long pieces of wood (the depth of the cabinet top) to the bottom of the wood, so that the pressing surface would be more secure on top of the cabinet (actually there are 3 pieces because I made a mistake, but I only needed 2). The pieces are spaced the width of cabinet apart.

I bought 1 1/2 yards of cotton flannel for the padding, and 1 1/2 yards of lightweight cotton twill for the cover. I used a staple gun to stretch and staple the two pieces around the wood separately.

Bottom of the pressing surface after the flannel and fabric was stretched and stapled around the wood

The pressing surface can be removed at anytime, such as when not being used and I need the extra space, or if I ever want to revert the cabinet to being a piece of furniture.

Here is a view of the top of the pressing station. One of the first things I pressed after it was all put together was some recently pre-washed yardage. What a difference it made!

I'm so excited to put it to further use in my quilt making this week! And I haven't even loaded the shelves yet ... it won't take long, I'm afraid.

Until next time,


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How to Make Perfect Circles and Berries for Hand Applique

Last month, at International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh, I offered two demonstrations for quilt shop owners in the Henry Glass Fabrics booth. The first demo was how to make skinny stems for hand applique. The second demo was how to make perfect circles and berries for hand applique. We recorded the second demo to share with you!

Turn up the volume, I need a microphone!

This is the method I have used to make hundreds of circles and berries for a multitude of projects, and which gives the very best results!

Until next time,