Sunday, August 29, 2010

Crazy curves!

I am no stranger to piecing curves but this kind of curved piecing was new to me. 'The Quilt Show Episode 204' starts with Ricky Tims demonstrating his improvisational curves. When I first saw it I thought " That looks interesting but not enough to try it!" But this blog has a get me to try new things so I tried it and I am so happy I did!

The whole idea is to cut smooth curves and just sew them together. You don't worry about any seam allowance. I started with a 3-1/2" square and cut a curve in the one side. I cut the next piece matching the curve and sewed them together. I used a little less than 1/4" seam to sew them together.

As you can see it looks like it is going to be a problem...

But it isn't...a little squirt of water and a hot iron and ...

The block is remarkably flat. It is about 12" 'square'!

I do have a few tips. Each piece I added was made extra wide until I got a feel for it. Each side you'll end up cutting a curve out of it so you don't want to shortchange yourself. You don't use any pins for this technique. When you start sewing use your needle down position. You'll be stopping a bit until you get a feel for your hand motion. My left hand held the underneath fabric and the right hand held onto the top fabric. It is a bit of a juggling act to line up the top and bottom but it doesn't take long to get a feel for it.

My mind is swirling with the possibilities, both simple and VERY complicated.

I would have missed out on an amazing technique. Thank you Blog!
And thank you Ricky Tims!

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I've been busy cleaning up my sewing room and doing a little reorganizing. I was finding that things I used often weren't within easy reach anymore...that could have been in part because I had a mountain of things to put away. And while I was putting things away I found a mountain of UFO's! But one in particular caught my eye...

I want to introduce you to my scraps...anything less than about 2-1/2 inches wide (unless I know a use for it) goes into my scrap container or should I say CONTAINERS!

And from these scraps I cut 2" squares for 9-patch blocks.
Here they are, in all their chain pieced glory.

This is what I found. Here are the sections all pressed and waiting to be sewn together. But now that it's found again what in the world am I going to do with it. I think my 9-patch mojo (do people still use that word?) is gone. This pile is literally a history of my quilting past dating back almost 20 years.

Maybe I've been too co-ordinated in my fabric choices lately. I used to love scrappy...the more the better but now it is more of I love planned scrappy so back to the UFO pile you go 9-patches.
But that gets me thinking about those 3 containers full of scraps.

Do I even want them? What will I do with them if I keep them?
These are the questions that are swirling in my brain right now.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I'm free.. to hand quilt without a hoop! This was a wonderful challenge that really will give me more options for quilting.

It began with The Quilt Show Episode 203 with Suzanne Marshall and also Sharon Schamber's video on quilting hoopless. They both have a different way of going about it so I tried both techniques.

The most important thing was to get the basting right. Your quilt top needs to be well basted.

First I knotted my basting thread at both ends to keep it secure. I basted about 2 fingers apart (about 1-1/2") horizontally and vertically. It is a lot closer than my usual basting. I also did a fairly large back stitch every couple of stitches. This really seemed to help anchor the quilt even better. I really think that made a difference to reduce shifting while I was quilting.

Before we get to the quilting I should say that I used a size 10 straw needle (which is what I use for applique). I found I needed a longer needle because you need to have enough needle to hang into. I also used Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 batting. And I sat at a table for a bit of extra stability.

There are 2 methods for quilting...the first is that you pinch your quilt just before your quilting line. Then to quilt you move both the needle hand and the hand that is pinching the quilt. This was how Suzanne Marshall quilted. It has the advantage of being able to quilt any size quilt. Although I could do it OK I did not find this a natural motion and really preferred the hoop.

The next technique is to pinch the quilt in your hand. The motion of quilting comes from the non-needle hand. Basically the needle stays flat and you load the needle with the other hand using an up and down motion. This method felt completely natural and I really like it...for small quilts. For larger quilts it would be pretty hard to hang onto. I can see me doing this from now on!

It took a bit of practice to follow the straight lines and then again on the curves. One tip for the might only be able to put on 2 or 3 stitches at a time. It wasn't long though before my stitches were getting consistent. One other important thing was after taking a needle full of stitches I smoothed out the area I was quilting. It didn't take long before I just did it and didn't even think about it. Again...quite natural!

Ta Da!

And for the puckers!

Remember the little needle turn quilt from last week? Well I liked this so much I got it ready for hoopless quilting today!

Try is definitely one to try! Happy stitching!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trying Needle Turn...Again

I don't do needle turn applique...but I was somewhat determined to give it another chance. After watching The Quilt Show Episode #203 with Suzanne Marshall, I knew I would have to give up my preferred method and give needle turn another try. Suzanne was truly inspiring. I did learn needle turn many years ago but I really did not enjoy it. Keeping an open mind....

I picked a pattern with one block and got to work using Suzanne Marshall's tips from the episode. I prepared my pieces and started on my block. So far so good.

I went piece by piece until I got to this point. I had had enough. I figured I had done enough to give it a chance but I still don't like it. I finished the block using my preferred method using freezer paper and basting the seam allowances down.

I didn't do too badly. A few curves were a little more straight than they should have been and it was taking me forever but I was satisfied.

I realized that I like freezer paper applique for lots of reasons...

*I don't have to pay as much attention while I am sewing because I don't need to follow a line.

*I like seeing how the finished product is going to look as I sew.

*I am faster at it than I am with needle turn.

*Most of all, I enjoy it!


Has anyone noticed that the new freezer paper is a lighter weight than what we used to get?


Something I will do from this episode is a new to me way of making bias stems. I don't know why everyone isn't doing it this way. It was fast, easy and I can make bias stems in any size without burning my fingers on those bias bars.


Simply start with a bias edge on a piece of fabric, fold it over a little less than 1/4" and press. Fold it again to make the size of stems you want and press. Baste down the center and cut from the main piece leaving the basting intact. You don't have to be neat as you trim! I used those fancy applique scissors I never use and they worked perfectly!


Next up...I am going to learn to hand quilt without a hoop. I am just getting my materials together for this one and can't wait to show how I do!

So what else has been taking up my time?


We have been harvesting yellow beans, golden beets, red onions, carrots, kohlrabi, peppers and soon we'll have corn and summer squash!

Happy Stitching!