Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Free Form Piecing Tutorial

The long awaited free form piecing tutorial on how I put George together is here! 

So many have given George the Alligator tremendous amounts of love! 

And he sends it right back!

The first time he surfaced, I explained how his spiky spines, eyes, and eyebrows were stitched in. It's taken a bit of thought to explain how I pieced him into the background, and I've had re-create the process because my original pictures were terrible. Now I've got lots of visuals for everyone to follow. 

To start this project, I made paper pattern pieces of his tail, body, and head.

The pieces were cut with straight seams in mind, no curves. Hopefully those would land in the background's pieced seams, but if they didn't, well, I just dealt with it. I was more interested in getting George's proportions correct.

In the following pictures, I'm using George's body pattern, and scrap pieces of fabric to demonstrate the piecing.

His body is cut out with a 1/4" seam allowance all around.

and positioned onto the background, so that the top of his body is stitched into the background seam.

For this technique, I'm using 2 1/2" squares in the background, which helps when lining up seams, and stitching short seams. I have not tried this piecing technique with larger background pieces.

The background above his body has already been pieced together, but the sides around his body are free. This is what the background looks like if I remove the body piece.

Now I can stitch the top of the body to the background, but only in between the backgrounds' two outer vertical seams.

It's important to not stitch in this area at this time.

The side pieces are attached by sewing only an inch, starting from the outer edges and stitching toward the body.

Left side with vertical seam free.

Right side with vertical seam free.

Seams are pressed because it helps to line everything up in the next steps. The body and background now look like this, with some wings flapping at the top side of the body.

Now starts the fun part! 

The background gets taped down to a rotary cutting mat, with edges and seams lined up with marks on the mat. 

The body stays free.

When I was making George, the biggest issue I faced was having the correct angled piece in the background to sew the body to. Then it dawned on me - seams are 1/4" which means there is a 1/2" overlap between raw edges. So, using a ruler, I laid it on top of the background with the body overlapping onto the ruler by 1/2" inch.

Taking note of the change in angle before flipping the body up and out of the way, that spot is marked with a pin. 

The background is then cut from the pin to the top, using scissors to cut the last bit to avoid the rest of the background.

The same steps are done on the left side, before removing from the tape.

The left fabric edge at 1/2" line.

The pin mark for the angle change.

And the cut from pin to top.

After matching up the edges of the body and background on the sides, those seams are stitched.

On the right side, I stopped stitching 1/2" away from the angle change.

On the left side, I stitched to the angle change point, back stitching a couple stitches.

Why the different end treatments? I wanted to see which was easier to deal with for the next seam. Personally, I prefer stopping 1/2" back, because it allows for easier trimming later.

Now the unit looks like this, with sides seams sewn but gaps at the top. 

The body is flipped up and over, and those gaps stitched closed.

One part done!

The rest is treated the same way. The unit is taped down to the mat, with seams lined up. The ruler is used to find where to cut the background. Here, the right side is shown.

Since the prior seam was not sewn all the way to the point, that needs to be stitched, stopping with the needle down.

After pivoting the top fabric to match up the fabric edges, the seam is stitched, with a stop before the next angle change.

And that's more of the body pieced in!

Continuing on using the same technique finished the rest.

Awesome technique, isn't it? Using the ruler at the 1/2" mark to cut the same angle on the background has rocked my piecing world. It makes so many more ideas possible. Maybe I've invented something new! 

Happy Quilting!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holly Jolly

Just can't stop making items to decorate for Christmas this year! I started out really feeling the red and green, creating the two table runners, O Tannenbaum and Peppermint Candy. And even though it's close to Christmas, I'm still stitching away! This time, I was determined to use up old Christmas fabric, to make room for more fabric of course. I'm calling this lap size scrappy quilt Holly Jolly.

This is a pattern from the Precut Quilt book I gave away last week, and was really quick to put together. Measuring 54" x 69", it hardly made a dent in those Christmas fabrics. 

I did use some bigger yardage pieces for the back,

but I still have enough for another quilt. Still thinking about how to use it up, as it's nice to have an empty drawer.

For the quilting, I used the panto Holly Berry Flowers in gold Glide thread. The pattern is really hard to see, and turned out more dense than I expected.

Yet, it's very pretty, and the quilt adds more red and green to the living room. Merry Christmas!

Have a great day quilting!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Peppermint Candy

Christmas decorating has really hit me hard this year! After enjoying all of my fall runners and toppers around the house, the furniture now looks bare. So I've been hard at work, trying to fix that. Introducing another runner, Peppermint Candy!

Made for my coffee table, this one measures 13 1/2" x 45". Using Kona solids, which have really grown on me, this runner was super simple to put together. It so reminds me of peppermint sticks and green peppermint candies! 

Here's a closeup of the quilting, using Glide white, and red.

Each pinwheel was echoed, then the white background was stitched with straight lines. For the red candy stripe, I used a rope ruler to give me those pretty S curves. The whole runner is just yummy!

If you would like this bit of sweetness on your table, there is a pattern available at my Etsy store.

So now I have another new runner to enjoy, along with O Tannenbaum!

I'm hoping to get to a topper, and maybe a quilt done (mainly to use up the Christmas stash), but that may be a bit ambitious. The living room needs a bit more color, and more Christmas!

Happy Quilting!

Linking up with all of the fabulous linky parties listed on the right side bar - do pay them a visit!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Super Simple Binding

Today folks, it's all about joining binding. My process has evolved, and now it's down to such an easy process that I don't even think about it anymore! 

simple way to join binding ends

I used to be really confused about which piece went where, the angles, and which way to sew. But with this super simple way to join binding, I just pin, sew, cut, overlap, sew, and finish. No confusion whatsoever. Want to see how? Then follow along!

Prepare 2 1/2" binding strips, and fold down 2 1/2" at one end, pinning in place halfway down on the edge of the quilt.

measure back fold at beginning of binding

Start sewing the binding on approximately 6-8" below that fold.

sew six inches away from fold

Stop sewing when there's 6" to 8" left before the starting fold. That fold is at the very bottom of the picture below. 
stop sewing with an eight inches left
Remove the quilt from the machine, and smooth out the remaining binding toward the starting fold.

smooth binding to beginning fold

Cut the excess binding where it touches the starting fold. The cut is on the top piece in the picture below.

cut at fold

Unpin, and unfold both pieces.

unfolded binding for joining

Overlap them, right sides together, just as you would to join binding strips. Pin in place.

join ends

Stitch from corner on top to corner on bottom, but don't trim yet. Lay the binding against the quilt top to double check length.

check for length

Once it checks out, trim the triangle, 

trim excess fabric

press the seam open, and press the fold. Continue stitching down the binding, 

stitch remaining binding

and it's done. How fast and easy was that? No fuss, no muss! Give it a try the next time it's time to bind.

Happy Quilting!