Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hearts are ready for posting

A baker's dozen ready to be sent off to Evie.

Hearts for Christchurch

Edited to put my photo back in. Where are they going??

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More hearts for Christchurch

As promised, some hearts made from the remaining wool.  Here are three of them all stuffed and finished.

This was a bit of an experiment.  I didn't have much dissolving stabiliser so I tried something else.

I started by ironing on some fusible web to the front of the fabric.

Teased out the wool roving to cover the fusible web.

Scattered my threads over the wool.

This is where things went a bit wrong. I thought a layer of bondable Angelina fibre on top would be a good idea. I only have white and thought it would blend into the wool. Wrong! I managed to peel the layer of Angelina and my fancy yarns off the wool and turn it over.

Then I used the backing paper from the fusible web. I put the paper on top of the wool and threads and sewed some lines to hold it all down. I tore the paper off and sewed some lines going across the previous lines.  That was a bit difficult.  The foot kept getting caught in the yarns.

And the finished fabric after washing in hot soapy water.

And this was my second attempt. I used the two small pieces of soluble stabiliser instead. I also put the Angelina fibres under the fancy yarns instead.

Here's a good tip I picked up from Abby Glassenberg. Instead of cutting the felt out with a seam allowance, use a freezer paper template, sew around the freezer paper and then trim back the seam allowance. Abby makes the most amazing soft sculptures. They aren't toys. They're works of art.
I have reused the same bit of freezer paper for six hearts here. I'm not going to turn these hearts out to I have sewn the felt on to the wrong side of the fabric. I cut a little triangle out so that I could place the ribbon for hanging the heart.

After cutting out the heart, I stuffed them...

... and then sewed the hole shut to complete the heart.

This is my second piece. The Angelina fibre didn't go like a white spiderweb this time. You can't really see it in this photo but it went iridescent instead of white. Not sure if that was because it was next to the wool roving this time and bonded with the wool or if I put hotter water on and it washed some of the dye ou of the wool. Anyway, it looks great and I can't wait to make up another set of hearts with pink felt. I've run out of ribbon so they will have to wait. :(

Craft Expo

It's been a crazy week. Last weekend was Craft Expo. A little disappointing! There were a lot of quilting shops and although I'm a quilter, I go to these shows hoping to see something different.

The Japanese quilt exhibition was excellent, as was the exhibition of Jocelyne Leath's work.

I made one purchase - a kit for a felted wool scarf.

I made mine very holey so I didn't use up all the kit.

And this is what I have left over. I'm going to use it to make more hearts for Christchurch.

Mum and I did a workshop at one of the few non-quilty stands. We each made a coaster and also got another one to take home. You need a set of four so it will be a race to see who is going to get them for Christmas! I reckon if I finish first then I can have dips on being the giver.  Saves having to think about buying a present!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More tips on baste and topstitch

Some more tips...

Clip curves to just before the paper.  If you clip right into the paper then you will get pokies (little threads sticking out) but if you stop about 1mm to 2mm before the paper, the fabric will stretch as you press the fold and will make a nice smooth curve with no pokies.
 If you need to press a long curve or a tight curve, a little bit of glue (ordinary glue stick glue) will help hold everything in place. Don't use it too much otherwise it's difficult to remove the paper later.

When topstitching a piece where four shapes meet, stop at the beginning of the seam allowance.  If you sew the whole seam allowance down then you won't be able to fold it back... as I'm about to demonstrate.

Take the point at the tail end in the seam allowance and press it open.

Fold the seam back so now you have the tail tucked in and a neat angle to the seam.

Now the next piece can be positioned. Press the corner as precisely as possible. Line up the edges on the basting lines on the previous two pieces. This is easier if you have the corner facing you. Pin the corner. Flip the work over and  make sure that the freezer paper is positioned correctly in line with the design on the stabiliser. Baste the unfolded edges. Flip the work over again and topstitch the folded edges.

That was an obtuse angle - easy to fold.  Here is an acute angle. I press one side, unfold and then press the other side. That keeps the corner crisp and accurate. Then I fold both sides in at the point and use my origami skills (what origami skills!!) to fold the tail back and make a kite shape.  You may have to click on this photo to see what I mean.

Here is the topstitching stage on a similar piece. I've positioned the piece so the corner is exactly where I want it, basted the unfolded edges and now I'm ready to topstitch, starting on the left side. I've pivoted the kite shape bit so that I have a clear folded edge to topstitch.

I used to try to trim the bulk out by cutting the point off but that just makes it difficult to turn under and leads to pokies. Leaving a 4mm to 5mm seam allowance all the way around works better.

When I get to the corner, I leave my needle in the work and turn the work around ready to come down the other side.  The kite shape is in the way but because of the way it is folded, it pivots easily at the point.  I take a pin and just poke it back under.

And there you go, ready to sew the second side. It will feel like there is a bump under this point but by the time you remove the stabiliser and freezer paper, this seam will be flat.

I've finished half of it already. This piece is 400mm by 300mm so some of the pieces are quite small. The feet are fused but the rest is done using the baste and topstitch method.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Numbering system

I think the best way to explain the logic behind my numbering system is to look at an example.

Here I have a design for a little fish.

 The first thing to do is identify all the angles that could be a problem.  An acute angle is an angle less than 90 degrees.  I'm going to introduce another term, a sharp angle.  As a maths teacher, I have to tell you that this term doesn't exist - except in my quilting world!  My definition of a sharp angle is an angle less than 60 degrees.  Obtuse angles are angles more than 90 degrees and they are not a problem.  Anything down to 60 degrees you can fold the fabric and tuck in the excess without much problem.  Less than 60 degrees and you are into advanced hand applique territory.  We don't want to go there. We want to keep things simple and fast.

So I have marked my sharp angles above.

Looking at my sharp angles, I see that I have a piece with two sharp angles.  I'm going to make that my first piece so I don't have to fold those angles. This piece is basted flat all the way around the shape.
This design has gentle wavy lines from one edge to the other so it makes sense to construct the design in strips.

Piece 2 is folded on the edge that is connected to piece 1. Here I would baste the other three sides first and then topstitch the folded edge (the bold line).
 Piece 3 finishes off the strip. Again, the folded edge is marked in bold.
 This next strip has two pieces with sharp angles. If I did the fish body first then I'd have to fold both sides of the sharp angle in the top bit. So I do the top bit first.
 Now we get into the interesting bit - folding two sides. I've marked the folded edges with a bold red line.  This is a nice obtuse angle so not a problem.
 And the next piece on the strip also has two folded sides.  This time it is an acute angle but not a sharp angle.
 The rest of the angles in this design are almost right angles or bigger so they can be done in any order.
 Here's a little exercise for you to try.  Draw yourself some doodles. Mark the sharp angles and then start numbering the pieces.  Usually one of the pieces in the middle is a good place to start. Imagine piecing this design and mark each fold as I have done in this example with a bold line or highlighter.  As you mark each fold, make sure none of the folds are sharp angles.  I must have done this about a dozen times on paper before I made the heart quilt I use in my profile.

More tips on piecing using the baste and topstitch method coming up as I continue with the gecko quilt.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gecko - my baste and topstitch method

It took me a while to get a drawing on freezer paper that I was happy with. I decided to draw this freehand and I ended up with a deformed gecko! This is my gecko after a bit of surgery.

When I'm happy with the design, I go over the lines with a drawing pen, trying to keep the lines flowing smoothly. I don't want any sketchy lines at this point. If the line is ambiguous then the piecing won't be accurate. I've rubbed out any pencil lines so that the lines are clean.

Then I trace the design on to tear-away stabiliser.  I'm doing this one in two sections since this is the width of my stabiliser.  Again, accuracy is key to this fitting together.

I haven't traced the feet on to the stabiliser as I'm going to fuse them so I don't need these lines on my stabiliser.

I number the pieces of freezer paper before I cut them up. I have a system for numbering. I'll bore you with that another time.  Too tired tonight and I still need to do some school work!

So here's my first piece with the seam allowance trimmed to about 5mm.

The piece is positioned under the stabiliser, matching the edge of the freezer paper to the line on the stabiliser. This is the basting stage. I put cream thread in the bobbin and clear monofilament in the needle. With a straight stitch, a darning foot on the machine and the feed dogs up (not down!) I baste around the shape. I'm aiming to sew just outside the freezer paper. If you sew too far into the seam allowance then it's difficult to tear out the stabiliser.

And a view from the right side. The first piece is basted all the way around the shape.

Turn over the edge of the next piece where is overlaps the first piece and baste all way around the unfolded edge. Turn over and topstitch the folded edge with a narrow zigzag.  The monofilament is in the needle so these stitches will hardly show. This edge should land just over the basted line.  Sometimes, to get the seams to match, the basting stitches show but that's fine.  Just remove them.

There are heaps more tips I could share with you just in this little bit I've done tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Must go and do some of the work I get paid to do!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hearts for Christchurch

I have started making hearts for the people of Christchurch after the earthquake there but I have to say, I can't believe the devastation in Japan! At the time I'm writing this, the nuclear power plant has exploded but they are still not sure what has happened there exactly. I guess we can feel a bit smug here in New Zealand, being nuclear free. Somehow, feeling smug doesn't feel good in this situation!

Just to lighten the mood slightly, here's a site showing how Christchurch residents are coping with the disruption to sewerage. There are some great inventive people there! Have a look at these long drops.

So, they really need something like a stuffed heart to decorate their dunnies, don't they. :) Seriously though, I think Hearts for Christchurch is a great project and a lovely way to show support.  I hope Evie, the organiser of the appeal, gets 400,000 hearts.

Here is my first heart in the making...
Asymmetric heart inside a symmetrical heart

I tried using the 'making great circles' method I've posted about before, just to see how far I could take the technique.  This method works for shapes other than circles as long as they are large enough and convex.  The left side of my heart is slightly concave and that presented a problem, as did the concave peak at the top. I ended up using hand applique for the peak.
Auditioning the fabric

I wanted to quilt my heart.  I cut out a heart shape in thin cotton batting and put it behind the appliqued heart with no backing fabric. After I quilted it, I put the backing fabric on right side together and stitched around the batting so that there was only fabric in the seam.  That kept the bulk from the seam and meant that I could turn it out.  I left a hole for stuffing and then hand stitched the hole. The ribbon was stitched into the seam when I added the back.

And here is my completed heart.  I have put a message on the back but that's for the recipient only!  If you would like to make a heart, click here.