Monday, December 31, 2012

Adding Machine Embroidery to Rag Quilts

Hi all!

I hope that everyone has a great New Years Eve tonight and I hope that everyone is safe and having fun!

Since I have a cold and my brain is fuzzy I was looking for something easier to do to keep myself busy.

I decided to start quilting the rag quilt that I have cut out.  Since I am a little tired of the big X through the middle of the blocks I decided to add some machine embroidery (ME) quilting motifs to the middle of the blocks.  When I posted this to my facebook page I got a couple questions about it so I thought that I would post a little tutorial on it.

I like to add machine embroidery to my rag blocks - but - I like to add looser designs that simulate the effect of quilting.  If you want to add something with a satin stitch or something more intricate you will HAVE to stabilize your blocks much more than I do with these lighter designs.

First I die cut my rag blocks and layer the bottom layer, batting and top layer.   You can see the dies cut fringe pocking out of the hoop.

I decide what design I want to do and pick my hoop accordingly.  You want to make sure that your design is big enough to hold the batting in place.  If it is not large enough then your batting will sag and your quilt will be lumpy.   

I am pretty casual with the way that I hoop this.  I have done more with my hooping and I haven't really found that it affects the design at all - unless it is a more detailed design with a lot more stitching.  So, you can see that here I have just the two sides caught in the hoop edges making sure that I have the fabric centered.


Load up your hoop and stitch out your design.


After the design is finished unhoop and trim threads.  This design took about 4 minutes to stitch out.  As you can see it is a quilting design not a really intricate one.  But, can you see the way that the design goes to edges of where the batting is?

Now you'll just sew your rag quilt together as normal.

Options - you can hoop a wash-away stabilizer and then just baste your rag block to the top and stitch out your design.  You can also use a product like Hoopables to stabilize your block.  I have only found this necessary if the ME design has more stitches to it.  You'll have to play around to see what works best for you.

I know that some of you are probably thinking - wow, that takes a lot longer.  Yes and no.  It does take a bit longer but while the design is stitching I am able to be doing other things like prepping more blocks rather than sitting at the machine stitching the X.  And, sometimes, you have a quilt that is just worth the extra!

I'm still ME blocks for not one but two quilts and having fun.  I'll post a few pictures once I am further along.

Happy New Years everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sick Day Sewing

Hi all!

As you can probably tell from the title of this post - I am sick.  Blah!  Just a bad cold ie, fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose, achy and tired body.  You know the drill.  In short -it sucks!  I am probably one of the worst people when I get a bad cold like this too.  I get frustrated and cranky because I am fed up with being sick.  And I get bored!  I hate laying around all day - unable to do anything - and when I try to do something I mess it up because I can't think straight.   LOL!  Ok enough with the pity party for me.  I just want to get rid of this cold because I have stuff that I want to do!

 So, as I looked for something easy, I thought that I would play with my new tote bag die and make a couple tote bags.  

The one on the right was my first one made out of some fabric that I bought (no idea why!) a long time ago so it was perfect to be the test one.

The one on the left is my second one made from a Northcott panel from a while ago.  Funky but I managed to not get the center of the focus area right in the center of the bag.  Oh well I still like it!  I also used a slippery polyester lining fabric I bought gobs of a few years ago so I thought that it might work for bag linings.  I actually like this for a lining fabric - it's just a little fussier to use.

What I would like to do with this is make this into a class to teach.  We kit up the entire tote bag, outer fabric, lining, batting and handles - all die cut - so that people just come in and sew.  Wouldn't that be fun?  Come to a class and leave with a finished tote and lots of options for embellishing future totes!

Would you want to take a class like that if the cutting was all done for you ahead of time?

Ok time to pull out some more fabric for more totes :-D

Friday, December 28, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

I think that all of us have been affected by the events in Sandy Hook.  And I think that we have all wished that there was something, anything, that we could do.

Thank you to SewCalGal for posting something small and concrete that we can do.

There is a call for Snowflakes, by the PTA for the school in Sandy Hook.  Snowflakes are wanted to decorate the school, for when the kids return in January.  These can be paper, fabric, machine embroidery, mixed-media arts, etc.  

For those with a fabric die cutter snowflake this is a great time to make some snowflakes. 

EmbLibrary is also giving a free machine embroidery snowflake design away to encourage those with ME machines to help make snowflakes.

Sarah Vedeler has made one of her snowflake embroidery designs available for a short period of time.

Please make and send snowflakes by January 12, 2013 to the Connecticut PTSA address

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514 USA

I wanted to do this activity with my two boys so that we could talk about what happened together.  So, I came up with something simple that we could easily do.

Since I have two Go! dies with snowflakes on them I decided to use those to make snowflakes to hang in the school.

We placed paper over the are of the die that we wanted to cut and placed a cutting mat on top and ran it through the cutter.


Nope that's not my hand!  Here is my oldest running the Go!

 My youngest was manning the Studio cutter with the adapter pad to get pretty snowflakes.  You can embellish these anyway that you would like.

As an aside - the paper that comes on the Studio dies, between the label and the die, is perfect for this!  It is good sturdy, slightly shinny, card stock.


Next we punched a hole in the top of each snowflake and placed a Christmas tree ornament hanger in each.  You could also use fishing line and tie a loop or how ever else you would like to hang them.


And now we have a pile of snowflakes that I will mail out today!  This gave us a great opportunity to talk about the events and my kids feel good that they were able to do something small but tangible to help the children in the school feel better.

Some of you might be wondering why I didn't do machine embroidery or something harder.  Well, my two boys made all of these will my help only on the first couple - the rest was completely them.  That is why I didn't do something harder.  I wanted this to come from their hands.

I encourage you all to cut a few snowflakes.  I know that many of you have at least one snowflake die, or machine embroidery design and I am sure that you could make at least one snowflake to help welcome a sad child back to school.

Let's Sew it Together!

Hi all!

I so wanted to have this top together before Christmas but, well, life and the holiday season got in the way.  Better late than never LOL!

The next steps are pretty straight forward now that we have our blocks together.

Sew the blocks into 6 rows of 5 blocks (unless of course you have made a larger quilt).  I just tried to not have two like prints next to each other in the HSTs.


Next sew the rows together and press.  Look at all those secondary stars!  How cool are they!?  I also love how the chains just jump right out at you.  Stars and chains are two of my favorite things in a quilt and this quilt includes both!

The next, and last, step is to put on borders.  I am auditioning a few different prints that I have yardage of in my stash so I think I will probably go with one of them.  I'll put up another post on this later.

So how is yours coming along?  Add a link to your blog post showing your top if you like so that we can all share or you can add a picture to my facebook page.  Any questions?  It's pretty straightforward at this point I think.

If you are enjoying my QAL I hope that you will follow my blog - it's easy just click on the follow area under my picture.

Happy Quilting!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Starting a New Rag Quilt!

I love rag quilts!  Don't you?

I love them because they are cuddly and warm in the winter.

So, when the Studio Rags to Riches set went on sale I grabbed it.  It arrived this morning and I tore into the box and immediately marked my dies.

Next I pulled out my bags of batting bits.  You know when you you trim a quilt and you have strips of batting left-over that are just too big to throw out?  I have been throwing all of mine into a bag and storing them away.  Well, when my set came I decided to deal with the batting left-overs first to get it out of the way.


I used my dies to cut down the batting scraps into something usable - yey!  There are 3 rag batting dies; the small square, the rectangle and the large square to correspond to the rag dies.  I know have a bin of batting shapes ready to go for my next rag quilt!  Yey!  I love having bins of usable things instead of bags of yuck :-D

Now I know some of you will say - I don't like batting in my rag quilts because it makes them heavy.  I do like batting for a few reasons.  

  1. it stabilizes the blocks and gives them great body.  
  2. I get to use up my batting scraps that would otherwise be thrown out.
  3. it stabilizes the stitches so they don't pop
  4. this is what it looks like outside my quilting studio window right now

Yep.  Snowy and cold!  You can never have a quilt that is too warm for me :-D  Bring on the batting I say!

Do you like rag quilts too?  Do you put batting in them?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope that your day is filled with love and laughter and joy this holiday season!

I thought that I might share a bit of my "loot" this year.

Of course when my boys and my Mom asked what I wanted for Christmas I said dies!  I picked out a few dies when they were on sale and Voila!  Christmas shopping was done for 3 people :-D

Check them out! 
  • The birds die - too cute to not get.  
  • The holly berry and leave jumbo die will work very nicely with my smaller one and make Christmas appliques a snap!  
  • The small tumbler multiple was too great to pass up (and one I have been wanting for a while now) and it can cut 80 small tumblers in one pass!  I can just see amazing Eye-Spy quilts made with this die!  
  • The large bear die will work really well for instant baby quilts.  I think the bears would be really cute in Minke or a nice flannel - you can even use the circle dies for the belly, nose and eyes. 
  •  The basket die was such a great price and when combined with some of the flower dies would make a nice applique so fast and easy!
People who just start die-cutting often lament at the thought of purchasing all the dies.  Dies make great and really easy gifts!  You would be surprised how quickly you will accumulate dies in a very short time and they are so much more affordable when they go on sale.  Make a wish-list; or, ask for gift cards and you will soon be adding to your collection and you'll be so surprised at how fast it grows!

I got some other quilty stocking stuffers and other great gifts but I just had to share my new dies.  Hmmmm, now to put them to use!

Did you get any quilty gifts this year?  Or dies?  Please feel free to share any pictures on my Facebook page!

So have a very Merry Holiday season everyone and here's to many more days of quilting together!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I have so many things to do!

This time of year I think we all have lots of things to do and yet I find myself trying to avoid doing what I should be doing and doing what I want to do instead!


Yesterday I had my December Go! Club meeting and I featured the various holiday applique dies.  My plan was to make the snow pillow pattern on the Holiday Accessories die - but - with two sick kids at home I ran out of time to do anything more than cut some of the shapes.

When I got home after the meeting I decided to work on the pillow and finish it.  I think it is so cute!  I love the way that it turned out and that it is more wintery rather than just Christmasy.  It will grace my couch for most of the winter I think.

Ok maybe I should do something that I need to get done now - sigh!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Next Step in the Scrappy Christmas QAL

How are you coming along with the QAL?  Any progress?

Let's get those blocks together!

First take your two stacks of squares and set them together - ready to sew.


Because we pressed half of our units to the HST the center seam will butt and it will be easy to sew.   Do not flip anything at this point!  press to one side but make sure you are consistent.


Flip half of the units and pin together to get your intersections and sew the two half blocks together.


Press to one side and Voila!  You have your blocks all ready to go.  Make sure that your chains line up properly in all of your blocks.  It is much easier to correct now rather than once we sew them together - I know this for a fact LOL!

Only two more steps and we are done with the top!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Next Step in the QAL!

Ok all!  Let's get going on the other part of the block!

This time you will be putting a dark quarter of the 4-patch against the wide part of the half square triangle (HST).  This is unlike the other sections where the dark part of the 4-patch went to the point.


 Press towards the HST - so that our seams will butt when we put it together.


But the seams in the middle and sew two of these together.  Press towards a side or swirl your seams in the middle.  Notice the chain running through the block?


See how the two different units (last weeks and this weeks) are not identical?  We need to have the chain running through the blocks so that it will all line up at the end.

Try to get contrast between you HST fabric and your squares so that there is some definition.  Try to avoid things like two dark greens together or two reds etc.  This was a bit of a challenge sometimes but if it happens don't sweat too much about it!

So, how is it all coming along?  Are you keeping up?  Or, are you collecting the steps?  Let's here how you are doing!  Also, feel free to share any pictures on the facebook page!

Happy sewing!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Finished Charity Stockings!

I am so thrilled!

Here they are the finished stockings!

212 finished stockings ready to go to a local charity to give away at Christmas to needy children.

I cut all the fabric on my Studio cutter using the 2 part stocking die and our guild members sewed up the little stockings.  Want to see how we did it?  You can check out my stocking video here.

If you have been following my blog for a while you will have seen my various adventures with these stockings and the fun that I have had with them.  I am so proud of my guild members and of the one individual that donated most of the fabric used in these - thank you - you know who you are ;-)

I would encourage you all to think about giving back in this season where we get so much.  Sometimes the best way to make yourself feel good is to make someone else feel good.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Chisel Swirl Baby Quilt


Hi all!

In preparation for my monthly Go! club at my LQS, this month was the chisel die, I decided to whip together a quick little baby quilt to showcase the how chisel die shapes can make a type of star.  there are many, many different stars that the chisel die can make - this is just one of them.  But, I thought that it worked up nicely into a baby quilt and people wanted a little tut so here it is!

You will need the Go! chisel die and the Go! 3" finished HST die.  You will need to cut 16 red chisels (or your feature fabric) chisels and 16 of your background chisels.

NOTE!  We need all like chisels for this so you cannot fan-fold your fabric!  All the chisels can only be cut either right-side-up or right-side down.  This is extremely important.  You may want to pre-cut rectangles 4" x 10.5" and then layer them all right side up.

You will also need 16 total feature fabric 3" finished HST - you get 4 in one pass with the Go! die.  And 16 of your background fabric HST

Sew the background chisels to the feature fabric HST and the background HST to the feature fabric chisels and press to the feature fabric.

Sew these together in units of two with the feature fabric on the right and the background fabric on the left.  Look kind of odd huh?


Following the block sew first two of the units together and then again so that you have 4 of the units sewn together.  Nice and easy and what a neat spinning star!

Sew 4 of these stars together to create the secondary background star in the center.  I love how the little hour-glass units appear and make the stars look like they are spinning!

I added two borders - one first border cut at 2" and then a second 4.5" border with corner-stones. 

For an extra little embellishment I added rick-rack into the binding as a flap.   I love how cute it is!

What do you think?  Any questions feel free to leave them here!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Let's Get Started on the Blocks!

Ok everyone it is time to start on the blocks of our Scrappy Christmas QAL!

We are going to be sewing with half of your 4-patch units and half of your HST's.  Last installment we organized our units so we would be ready for today!


Today we are going to take 120 of your 4-patch units and 120 of your HST's, leave the others for next week, and lay them out like in the photo.  We are going to be constructing 1/4 of the block (well really 1/2 but you get the idea).  In this quarter your 4-patch print and the top of the HST will be touching.  So, I tried to arrange it so that I had contrast between the prints.  Red to green or black etc.


Sew them all together and press to the 4-patches.  Hello Mr Grinch!  Flip around half of these.


Sew these together butting the center seam.  I didn't pin here - the seams butted nicely.  Press to one side.

Hello again Mr Grinch!  Isn't that too cute how that worked out with the HST!

That's it for this week!  How is your quilt progressing?  Any questions feel free to leave them here!  You can find the previous installments in the QAL tab.

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