Friday, July 31, 2015

REWIND: Back Basting Applique

Welcome back to REWIND! Every now and then I "rewind" and republish one of my older posts that you may have missed! Today I'm going to share a post from November 2014  in which I write about back basting applique.

I used this applique method to make fruit and flower blocks in the border in my Gardens of a King quilt designed by Missie Carpenter of Traditional Primitives. It is a great technique to add to your skills set so why not give it a try? You'll be surprised at how easy it is and the great results that you will achieve.

Gardens of a King by Karen H
Pattern by Missie Carpenter of Traditional Primitives

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TUTORIAL: Back basting applique

I am not an expert when it comes to applique but I enjoy doing it and I think that sometimes just a little bit of applique can add so much to a quilt. There are lots of different ways of doing applique and each has its own place. One of the methods I like is back basting applique. There are small applique blocks in Gardens of a King quilt that lend themselves perfectly to back basting applique.
So what is back basting applique? Simply put you baste your applique fabric to the background but you baste it from the wrong side. Once it is basted you do needle turn applique that is surprisingly easy!

The first step is to draw the shape on the wrong side of your background fabric. I will use a fleur de lis shape. I place my design on a light box or tape it to a window. I place my fabric over the pattern  with the wrong facing side up and I trace the shape with a fabric safe marker that makes a fine line. I like to use a mechanical pencil or a Frixion pen.

Cut a piece of applique fabric that is large enough to cover the entire shape.

I place the the applique fabric on the right side of my background fabric and hold it up to the light to make sure that it is correctly positioned which means that the applique fabric extends beyond my drawing on all sides. Depending on the size of the applique I may place a few pins to hold it in place. I then take a needle and thread and run basting stitches on the lines.

I turn the fabric over and on the right side I draw on the lines of the basting thread with a fabric safe marking tool. I like to use my mechanical pencil or a Frixion pen. If you use a pencil be sure that you can see the line but you don't want it do dark that it will show after the applique is finished. A chalk pencil would work equally well. Use the marking tool you have in your tool box that you like and that works for you!

Trim the excess fabric leaving a narrow seam allowance. I like to leave somewhere between 1/8" and 1/4". If there are inner points or curves you will need to clip them to make it easy to turn the seam allowance. In fact I like to clip all the way around the shape. I find that it makes turning the seam allowance much easier. I do not clip right to the line; I stop a few threads short of the line because I can always clip more but I can't clip less!

Now it is time to applique. Remove a few basting stitches and tuck the seam allowance under on the drawn line with the tip of your needle. Stitch until you reach the point where you need to remove another couple of basting stitches. Continue in this manner until the applique is completed removing only a basting stitch or two at a time. I like to use Superior's The Bottom Line thread for my applique. A soft taupe colour seems to work on virtually all colours!

This is the fleur de lis from the front.

This is the fleur de lis from the wrong side. When I press the piece all of the Frixion pen marks will disappear!

This method works well for simple shapes like the fleur de lis but it is even better for more complex, layered designs and small pieces! As with any applique work you have to give thought to the order of sewing pieces. For example in the picture below I stitched cherries before the stems because the stems sit on top of the cherries. The leaves were stitched before the branches. I'll often write the order of sewing pieces on the wrong side of the fabric so I know what to do next. I marked all of the leaves and most of the cherries as "1" because there were stems and branches that had to go on top of them. I back basted all of the pieces marked "1" at the same time and then I appliqued them in place. At the bottom of the picture you can see there is a cherry that is on top of another so the top cherry was marked "2". I continue numbering all of the shapes in this way. The back basted piece in the picture is the last stem that I need to applique and then the piece will be finished.

HELPFUL TIP: One of the tools I keep in my sewing kit is an orange stick (just below the scissors in the picture). It is great for turning applique edges especially if there is an inner point or inner curve to be turned. The wood just grabs the fabric and tucks it neatly into place! And it does it the first time so if the seam allowance is narrow there is little or no fraying. A needle is slippery so if I have to poke the fabric a few times it might start to fray and that will make the applique more difficult!

An important consideration is if your pattern is oriented the way it should look when it's finished your will need to create a reverse image for tracing on the wrong side of the background fabric. If you just trace it onto the wrong side of your fabric the final applique will be a mirror image of the pattern. To eliminate this problem I trace my pattern on the wrong side of the pattern with a fine Sharpie marker and that is what I use to trace the design on the wrong side of my fabric. Problem solved! Another option is to use your printer to print a mirror image.

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I adore the Gardens of a King pattern by Missie Carpenter of Traditional Primitives. In fact I like it so much that I am seriously considering making another. At first glance you wouldn't think so but it is English paper pieced just like my hexagon quilts! These blocks measure about 6" across and they were a great way to use up some really small scraps.

Look at this block with the tiny little hexagon in the middle! Love it! I used Missie's starch basting method to prepare all of the pieces.

When I made the Gardens of a King quilt I made it exactly as per the pattern because I was testing the pattern for Missie. I don't get any compensation for testing or promoting this pattern nor do I have a commercial interest in the pattern - Missie just asked me if I would be willing to test the pattern for her and I thought that it would be a fun thing to do. I enjoyed making Gardens of a King and am so proud of my quilt top that I can't resist sharing it with you!

Some of the applique blocks are challenging and if applique is not your thing you may think that this isn't a quilt you could make. My applique work is far from perfect and I had to work really carefully on this block; the purple flowers were very difficult because I used cotton fabrics but the pattern is based on wool applique which I understand is fast, fun and easy. When you are making a quilt from a pattern you can change it up to suit your skill level or design sense. I think that if you had a large pretty print you could just skip the applique and frame the fabric with the oval. How quick and pretty would that be? Very quick and pretty and it can be just as effective as the applique!

I would like the next Gardens quilt to have more a Canadian flavour to it! I'm already jotting down ideas about how I might do that. I also bought a fabric challenge kit so I may combine the challenge with this quilt pattern and come up with something similar but uniquely my own.

I know that some readers have purchased the Gardens of a King pattern and have had some questions. I'm always happy to answer/help and I know that Missie too is always available. What you may not know is that she has set up a help page on her blog and I encourage you to visit Missie's help page on her blog. She has developed some very unique approaches to piecing that you will find helpful and worth adding to your skill set. She is also working on a new quilt design that has fleurs-de-lis! It looks very interesting and I can't wait to see the finished quilt!

Well people, I've got stuff to do so I had better get on with the doing. Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

TUTORIAL: Fun with half and half hexagons

Good morning people! I've done several tutorials about how I like to have fun with hexagons, more fun than just using one fabric basted to a paper hexagon. When I made my Stars in the Loft hexagon quilt I didn't have enough fabrics or the right fabrics to cut the kinds of designs that I wanted to create so I developed a technique in which I paper foundation pieced with my sewing machine on my paper hexagon and once that was done I continued in the usual English paper piecing method. The reason I pieced on the paper is that if the seams of two fabrics extend into the corner I wanted to make sure that everything lined up perfectly. This is a great technique but in sewing on the paper it is sacrificed. I have other techniques that I developed for fancy hexagons such as made fabric. So I gave it some thought and figured that there was no reason why I couldn't use the "made fabric" for half and half hexagons.

Stars in the Loft by Karen H

Today I'll to share my simplified method to make the half and half hexagons rosette designs from my quilt. I call the hexagon half and half because one half is made with one fabric and the other a different fabric. This refined technique is faster and easier than my previous method and it is gentle on your hexagon papers.

TIP: You can purchase precut papers or if you are like me you can cut them out yourself. You will find templates with various sizes of hexagons under the tab English Paper Piecing Instructions & Hexagon Fun at the top of this page. If your printer doesn't print them the exact size you may need to enlarger or reduce the template. If you are gentle with the paper you will get many uses out of them. I use regular 20lb bond paper to print my hexagons and I cut them when I don't feel like sewing!

I start out by sewing two strips of fabric together using a 1/4" seam allowance. I shortened my stitch length because I will be cutting up the strip and I don't want the seams to come undone at the end. For a 1" hexagon I used two strips that measure 1 1/2" by 20". When the strip was sewn I pressed the seam allowance open.

I placed my hexagon on the strip being sure to line up the points of the hexagon on the seam. I used my children's washable glue stick to hold the paper template in place. Make sure that there is glue near the points of the hexagon that line up on the seam line.

I cut around the hexagon with my scissors leaving a generous seam allowance. I find that 3/8" works well. You don't have to fuss around with a ruler and rotary cutter - just use your scissors. The seam allowance doesn't have to be the same all the way around because you are going to baste the fabric to the paper and whip stitch your hexagons together unlike traditional patchwork where you must sew your patches together on the 1/4" seam allowance line.

I thread baste my hexagon from the back. To begin I start at one of the corners that is lined up with the seam. I fold over the seam allowance on the right side.

I fold over the seam allowance on the other side making sure I have a nice sharp point.

I turn over the hexagon to make sure that the point is lined up on the seam. If it isn't I lift the seam allowances to make sure the point is lined up and repeat the folds until it is correct.

I then start thread basting from the back and work around the hexagon until I get to the second point that lines up on the seam allowance. I repeat the process described above to line up the point on the seam allowance and continue basting.

This is what the hexagon will look like from the front and the back. Because I've basted from the back there are no holes in my paper and when it is removed it will be in great shape and ready to be used again and again. I use a washable children's glue stick to hold the fabric in place so the bond is very weak which means the paper comes out easily! When do I take the paper out? As soon as a hexagon is completely surrounded by other hexagons I remove the paper.

I fussy cut one hexagon for the centre of my rosette (or flower if you prefer) and then arrange the half and half hexagons around the centre. Following are four arrangements.

Another option that would be interesting would be to alternate three solid hexagons with three half and half hexagons! Play around and see what you can come up with!

For a little more fun here are some close-ups of the half and half hexagon rosettes in my Stars in the Loft hexagon quilt.

This is just one of countless designs that I have. It is fun, it is easy and it is a great way to use up strips of fabric. Although all of the examples above use only two fabrics for the half and half hexagons there is no reason why you couldn't use an variety of colours. Wouldn't it be fun to use the same light colour for all six hexagons but different jelly colours for the other half and then sew them into a pinwheel design like the block show above? It sure would be fun!

For those of you who are interested in the Brinton Hall quilt pattern in Quiltmania (pattern designed by Leigh Lattimore) I have found another quilt maker who is working on it. Kelly of Always Applique hasn't been blogging for several moths but on Monday she posted with oodles of pretty pictures of the projects she is working on including her Brinton Hall quilt which you can see here.

I hope you enjoy this little tutorial. Time for me to do some sewing so until I post again, happy sewing to you!
Karen H

Monday, July 27, 2015

Green Parrot is a top!

My Green Parrot hexagon quilt is finally a quilt top! It came together very quickly because most of the hexagon rosettes were already made and stitched together. You will recall that I removed four rows of hexagon rosettes  from my gargantuan quilt Birds in the Loft and I used them to make this quilt! Even the four stars came out of Birds so although there was some basting and sewing most of the work had already been done.

I had considered adding to the corners to square them off but Lyn suggested leaving them angled. I had never considered that option but now that the top is together I quite like the corners as they are!

I've got a few projects to finish but I'm also starting to pull fabrics for the next quilt. I'm going to need oodles of golds, yellows, honey and soft orange fabrics for this one! My plan is to work with 3/4" hexagons.

I thought I would share another picture of my little "helper". What I mean by "helper" is that he continues to help himself to my hexagons! He got it in his mouth, paused for a second and then was off like a shot!

Pink goes well with his complexion. I wonder what he would look like if his cheeks would blush. This is what he would look like! Pretty darned cute!

It is a short post today because I've got fabrics to pull and things to do. On Wednesday I've planned some fast, fun and easy hexagon fun! You'll want to save those narrow strips for this one.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, July 24, 2015

Green Parrot and Brinton Hall

I've third and final round of hexagons to the top section of my Green Parrot hexagon quilt. I used the same pale green that I used in the medallion. I'm going to have to add a few more hexagons to the corners so I can square it up later.

When I place this top section above the middle section you can see the overall design begin to emerge. You can see the red stars that were removed from my Birds in the Loft quilt. There are three in the picture below and there is one more in the bottom section. Most of the rosettes were removed from the same quilt (and they were already stitched together) so that is why this quilt is coming together so quickly.

The next step is to add the pale green border to the bottom section, make the corner fillers and sew all three sections together into a quilt top. The end is in sight! Yahoo!

The next issue of Quiltmania should be in my mailbox any day now and I am looking forward to the second installment of Leigh Lattimore's Brinton Hall quilt which was inspired by the Brereton bed hangings. The original quilt was made by Anna Margaretta Brereton (nee Lloyd) of Brinton Hall. I was contacted by her 3x great granddaughter and she provided me with some wonderful information about the original quilt which was made in 1800. What I found particularly interesting was that the quilt has undergone at least two remodels. The first was in 1820 or 1830 and at that time diagonal inset strips were added by another quilt maker. One hundred years later it was cut in half vertically and reworked. There was no explanation for either revision to the quilt.

Leigh's interpretation of the bed hangings is much more colourful. I am seriously tempted to create my own interpretation but not until I finish one or two other things. For now I'll share a picture of what I've done so far. The centre section of seven medallions and the long strips at the edges are all thread basted to the pieced background. The blue looks quite vivid on my monitor but it is actually a dull, dusty blue.

There is a narrow 3/4" border to be added to this but I won't stitch it down until I've finished the applique. Are you making a Brinton Hall quilt? If you post pictures on your blog please leave a comment with a link to your blog post so we can all see what you are doing! So far I know of or have found the following:
  • LuAnn of Loose Threads is here;
  • Nan of Do It Right Quilter is here;
  • Nathalie of Les Tresors de Nath is here;
  • Cecile of Inspirations is here;
  • Kelly of Always Applique is here and
  • Katy of Katy Quilts is here.
I've got some work cut out for me so it is time to get cracking. Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More Quilts at the Creek

Today I've got some more quilts from the third annual Quilts at the Creek. While the show is organized by the York Heritage Quilters' Guild anyone can show a quilt. There are no ribbon, no viewers choice and no judging. It is simply a showing of quilts old and new, modern and traditional. I took lots of pictures but with almost 280 quilts on display it was impossible take pictures of every one of them. So get your cup of tea and lets get going. In this picture I think you can an idea of the range of styles of quilts! Check out the portrait in the front left side!

The quilt on the left was a simple square in a square quilt but the colours were so rich that it immediately caught my eye.

The quilt was quilted with big stitch and two colours of thread were used to create an argyle design.

This quilt was exquisite. The piecing was perfect and the applique was stunning.

The quilting was done by machine, well done by machine.

I thought that it was very interesting the way this quilt was finished. Notice how the star points extend beyond  the edge of the quilt!

My friend Gail made this one. She has a such good taste in fabrics and is able to work effortlessly with both colour, value and scale. She pieced her quilt by machine and hand quilted it. The narrow pops of thin red lines really make this quilt stand out.

I loved the warm and earthy colours in this quilt. I believe the information card said that the maker was challenged to make the quilt with old fabrics from her stash. My guess is that this quilt may have been paper pieced. There are instructions for a liberated quilt very similar to this in Sujata Shah's book Cultural Fusions Quilts. I am very tempted to give it a go. 

This quilt was very interesting. The centre panel looks like applique but it isn't!

It is a printed panel and the yellow background was very densely quilted to make the floral motifs pop. And pop they did!

The red stripe border on this quilt makes the whole thing sing, sing, sing! I love the old timey look of this quilt. I want one of these too.

This quilt was made by renowned quilt maker Mary Elizabeth Kinch. Her work really speaks to me. She published a pattern for this quilt in the June 2005 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. I love all of the madders she used for the little (I do mean little) half square triangles!

The quilting was absolutely perfect.

There were so many beautiful quilts and each one was a labour of love. Before I go I thought I would share one more quilt. Naturally it is a hexagon quilt! I was told that this one was pieced by machine. It is a new quilt in a simple grandmother's flower garden arrangement but it looks old and loved.

What I found particularly interesting was the machine quilting. A simple leaf was quilted in each of the white path hexagons and in the flower a simple dahlia motif. The effect was perfect.

boomerRose, one of the organizers of Quilts at the Creek sent me a link to a Flickr page that has been set up to share pictures from the show. Thanks for the link; unfortunately you are a no reply blogger so I couldn't sent a personal note. For all you readers, get yourself a nice cup of something, settle back and enjoy the slide show which you will find it here.

Time for me to get back to my sewing. I've been working away on Green Parrot and my Brinton Hall quilt. I'll have pictures to share in my next blog post. Until I post again, happy sewing.
Karen H