Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Couple with Tree + Making Small Circles to Applique

The hard part of this month's section of Sweet Land of Liberty is finished.  In fact, this particular block is finished -- unless I decide to embroider the writing that's on the pattern.  (Which I probably won't, though maybe I'll write it with a marker.)

appliqued couple with tree for Sweet Land of Liberty quilt by Cheri Payne

I thought this was a hard block to make because of the narrow tree branches, the tiny hands and feet, and the wee fruit on the tree.  Those little circles finish at about 3/8".  I think they are the smallest pieces I've ever appliqued.

The next time I make a block like this I think I'll machine stitch some seams:  where the man's shirt joins his pants; where the head joins the neckline of the shirt/dress; and possibly where hands and feet join clothing.  I think it would alleviate the overlapping layers that I have now.

Someone asked for suggestions about how to make small circles.  This is how I do it.  (Not all steps have photos.)

#1.  Cut the circle out of cardboard -- a used file folder, an empty cereal box, any stiff cardboard will do.  Just not plastic!

#2.  Place the cardboard circle on the fabric you're using and cut the fabric 1/4" outside the cardboard.

#3.  Knot a piece of thread (long enough to go around several circles).  Put the needle in the fabric close to the edge and let the knot end extend an inch or two.  Make a running stitch around the circle close to the edge.  When the last stitch meets the first stitch, take one more stitch so stitches overlap a little.  Be sure the ends of both threads are on the same side of the fabric.  Leave a tail on this end of the thread, too.

preparing fabric to make a small circle to applique

#4.  Place the fabric circle on your ironing board with the thread tails next to the ironing board.

#5.  Place the cardboard circle in the center of the fabric circle.

preparing fabric to make a small circle to applique

#6.  While holding the cardboard circle down with one finger, gently pull the thread tails so they gather the fabric around the cardboard circle.  If you're not careful, the cardboard circle may pop out of the middle.  Your circle should look like this.

preparing fabric to make a small circle to applique

#7.  Press.  Hold the iron in place long enough to make a crease around the edge of the circle.  It doesn't hurt to press both sides.

#8.  When the circle is cool, gently pull the gathers apart just enough to remove the cardboard circle, then pull the thread ends to make the circle round again, and press once more.

I wait to remove the basting thread until I'm just about finished appliqueing the circle in place.  I clip the tail without the knot, then gently tug the knotted tail while holding the circle with my thumb and finger.  If the thread doesn't budge I pull just a little harder and if it still doesn't budge, I clip the tail and leave the basting thread in place.

Gayle of mangofeet left a comment on a previous post recommending this Craftsy tutorial by Sarah Fielke.  She uses aluminum foil to fold the edges around the circle, then presses in place.  I succeeded with this method once but then couldn't manage to make it work again.  The circle I made this way didn't hold the edges in place as well as the stitches did.

I know many of you probably use needle-turned applique but I still haven't had success with that method yet.  (Yet!)  If you don't do needle-turned applique, how do you prepare small circles for applique?

I'm linking this post to
> Moving It Forward Monday at Em's Scrapbag
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
> BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts

--Nancy.
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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Doing the Hard Part First

I spent some time today working on the applique block for this month's Sweet Land of Liberty sew-along.  I thought I should work on what looked to me like the hardest part first and when that's finished, it will be easy going.  At least I hope so.

Below is a part of a drawing of a tree for applique onto an 8½" block.

part of tree pattern for Cheri Payne's Sweet Land of Liberty quilt

Below is Cheri's version of that block.  I could make the tree easily if I were using wool, or raw-edge applique, or fusing the tree to the block.  But I'm not.  I'm using cotton and turning edges under.  You can see that some of the branches are so close together there's barely fabric to turn under.

poor photo of one block of Cheri Payne's Sweet Land of Liberty quilt

I deliberated how to cut out the tree because there just isn't much to it -- it's all thinness.  And then I remembered that I could trace it onto the dull side of freezer paper, cut it out, iron it onto fabric, and cut around it.  And that's just what I did.  Except I adjusted some of the branches so there was a little more space between them, so that there was enough to turn under.

tree pattern traced onto freezer paper for Sweet Land of Liberty

When that was done, I knew it would not work for me to baste the edges under.  I remembered having used glue to hold turned edges into place when I made several blocks for an Airedale Terrier rescue quilt years ago. 

Applique of Airedale being groomed or Airedale Terrier rescue quilt Applique of Airedale nose-poking the letter "N" for Airedale Terrier rescue quilt
The pieces were tiny and I was new to applique.  Glue worked.

I pulled out my Elmer's washable glue stick and, after about an hour, I had a tree.  It's not quite like Cheri's pattern but that's the beauty of Cheri's patterns and primitive quilts.  Adapt as needed.  A wonderfully imperfect tree.

adapted tree pattern ready to be appliqued for Sweet Land of Liberty

I don't know what I'll do about those berries, though....  They are very tiny at just 3/8 of an inch.  They will challenge me for sure!

Next I'll choose clothing fabrics for the people and get them ready to applique.  Will I embroider on the block?  Probably not.  Maybe I'll use a Micron pen or some other permanent pen/marker.  Or leave it blank.

After this hardest block is finished I think it should be smooth sailing for the other blocks this month.  Maybe not fast, but not as challenging.

If you applique, what methods do you use?  By machine, hand, fuse, glue, needle-turned, raw-edge, turned-edge...?  

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

My One Monthly Goal for June

June looks like it will be a really busy month.  We have two family birthdays to celebrate, other obligations, and I have blocks for two quilt-alongs to sew/stitch (Sweet Land of Liberty and Linda Brannock's Flowers), both of which will require hand applique.  But I want to finish cutting and sewing blocks for two different quilts:  Payne's Everyday Patchwork Sampler Quilt and the Civil War quilt, Blue and Gray.

For Everyday Patchwork my goal is to make five more 6" blocks.   Cheri gave patterns for 25 blocks for this sampler but since I want 30 I'm scouting around for five more 6" blocks that would be in keeping with Cheri's style.


My goal for the Blue and Gray quilt is to make 11 more large 9-patch blocks and 7 more small cross blocks for cornerstones in the sashing.



















Now if I can just focus and do it, plus the other cutting and stitching for the sew-alongs, I should be fine!

I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal - June Goal Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

--Nancy.
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Monday, June 4, 2018

Sweet Land of Liberty, May

This is the fifth installment of the Sweet Land of Liberty sew-along hosted by Lori of Humble Quilts.  The pattern was created by Cheri Payne and I love it in all its primitive busyness.  But I feel way out of my element making this quilt.  On the other hand, it's a great learning experience and pushes me to test my abilities and push them along a little more.




















I still have a flag to add to the blocks above.  I oriented my dolls differently than in the pattern which might make it a little difficult for one of the dolls to hold the flag pole.  I also need to figure out how to cut and applique a quarter inch strip for the pole.  It may be a chunky, out-of-proportion pole for the flag -- more like she's holding a log, maybe.

I'm far behind on this quilt.  The sew-along began in January and I hesitated, wavered, was indecisive about whether or not to participate.  In February I decided to join in and began with one of that month's pieces, the eagle.  When I finished the eagle, I put it away for safe keeping and promptly forgot where it was.  I searched but couldn't find it.  It reappeared in May and I picked up with the May blocks.  I'll have to spend extra time to finish the January through April blocks, plus keep up with June's.  And I have to give credit to Robin for help with the pattern.  She is very generous!

Here's the eagle surrounded by this month's Economy blocks, flying geese, and the little flag.  It almost looks like the beginnings of a medallion quilt, don't you think? 


The eagle needs a few stars and an eye.  I probably won't do any lettering and I'll let the hand quilting accent the wings instead of adding the suggested embroidery.

Gosh, those Economy blocks are hard to make, especially considering they only have eight seams!  Even though I followed the pattern, and even though I realigned the tape guide on my sewing machine, I couldn't get them right.  I eventually figured out the problem.  I should have made them all while I was on a roll.  If you have any pointers or tricks for Economy blocks I'd be thrilled to hear them.

Many thanks to Lori for this sew-along, to Cheri Payne for creating the pattern, and many, many thanks to Robin for help with the pattern.

I better get back to cutting and sewing!

I'm linking this post to Month 5 Sweet land of Liberty Linky Party! at Humble Quilts.

--Nancy.
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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Primitive Stars for Slow Sunday Stitching


The day's almost over but I've been able to put a few stitches into these wheel-like stars for a "Sweet Land of Liberty" block I'm making for Lorl's sew-along at Humble Quilts.  They've already been rearranged again since this photo, for maybe the third or fourth time.  Trivia question:  How many ways can three colors be arranged?  Surely not that many!  But then I've tried a few other colors, too....  I think I've settled on the colors above.  Except maybe that green....  (Oh, my indecisive nature.)

I love the opportunity Sunday provides to set aside worldly things, focus on the things of God, attend church and renew covenants, and generally find peace in my world.  I hope you have, or have had now that it's evening, a quiet, peaceful Sabbath.

I'm linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Thank you for hosting, Kathy.

--Nancy.
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Friday, June 1, 2018

Volunteer Bloom and Berries

This is Block B of Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt.  When I learned its name I thought about making it as ugly as possible.  Volunteer plants are usually prolific self-sowers which can become weeds and ruin a garden.  My kinder nature prevailed.  This may not be the most beautiful flower block but it's definitely not as ugly as it could have been.

Volunteer Bloom and Berries from Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt pattern

Choosing colors, choosing fabrics is always one of the hardest and most time-consuming parts of making a quilt for me.  And nearly always, after a block or a quilt is finished, I can see how other fabrics or colors would have been better.  It's true for this block but I'm satisfied with it.

These are the fabrics I used (minus the strip at the bottom).


Part of me wants to swipe away the little mat under the vase.  I tried several other fabrics. 

Volunteer Bloom and Berries from Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt patternVolunteer Bloom and Berries from Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt pattern

I liked the colors of the strip on the left but I thought it was too dark.  After I added the blue berries it seemed to drag the eye downward to the bottom of the block. The colors in fabric on the right didn't quite do it.  I think the one I used, gold with red, white, and black, is perfect when viewing it in person, just not so much in the photo.

This was a challenging block to make with all the inward points and curves.  The right vase handle may need to be adjusted (obvious in the top photo).  My novice applique skills got a workout with this block.

I consider this a finish though in truth it's an interim finish, on its way to become part of a quilt.  I need little finishes for encouragement.  How about you?

I'm linking this post to
> follow Friday at crazy mom quilts
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
> Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday (TGIFF) at Devoted Quilter
> BOMs Away Monday at What a Hoot!
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

25 Everyday Patchwork Blocks

What a hodge podge of blocks!  And fabrics.  And colors.  Each block will get its own border and then sashing will separate the blocks.  I like the idea that each block will have a little breathing space and its own little frame.


These are the 25 blocks for Cheri Payne's Everyday Patchwork series on her blog.  I will add five more blocks to make a rectangular quilt instead of a square one.  I love some of these blocks, others not so much.  And some I disliked making but like the finished block a lot.

I used lots of scraps for the blocks but also cut into some new fabric.  Some of the light blocks look really light.  I won't tea dye them because I will want to wash and dry this quilt without losing color.  But I have some walnut dye I made last fall that I may use on the very lightest ones.  We'll see.

Finishing these blocks was my One Monthly Goal for May so I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal - May Finish link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

I'm also linking this post to
> sew stitch snap SHARE #27 at Koka Quilts
> Linky Tuesday May 29th at Freemotion by the River
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Monday, May 28, 2018

Re: Blogger's Email Notification Changes

Have any of you bloggers who use Google's Blogspot noticed that you're not receiving email notices of comments?  I'm fairly certain it has to do with the E.U.'s GDPR requirements.  It bothers me just a little that U.S. citizens must follow E.U. laws even though people who know more than I do tell me it's a good thing for privacy.


Unless Blogger reverses their settings for comments, we will have to check blog posts for comments and leave our responses there.  But it makes me sad.  Without the email notices we don't have any easy way to respond to comments directly, and therefore no back and forth chat, no knowing if a blogger responded to a comment, no socialization/connection with each other now.

I comment on too many blogs to return to each one to see if you responded to my comment.  My solution for now is to include my email address if any of you want to respond to one of my comments directly.  

What's your plan for your own blog?  As far as comments on this blog, if you'd like a direct response, please leave your email address (in some for or another).  Thanks!

--Nancy.
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