Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Love Always 9th May

Hi Everyone,
Well, this year life has got in the way of my blogging. Have been meaning each week to write my quilting diary and each week I say I will do it next week so lots of catching up to do.
This week it is Love Always as it is fresh in my mind as have been working on part 5 this week.
In my last blog, way back in Jan I had just finished my center block.


Very happy and thought my colours for this quilt are set and know where I am heading with it.
Had an idea what I wanted for my vases, a sort of oriental look using fabrics that some metallic on them for an extra bit of bling along with my metallic thread.


Part two is tulips and I had a lovely mottled peach/pink fabric that was ideal for it.

Part 3 I loved making, it is much busier  and reminded me of Love Entwined with the tiny stems and little berries.


The stems were very narrow so used a variegated thread and triple stitch on machine to thread painted them in.




Finished and I think my favourite of the four vase blocks.

Part 4 a vase of carnation and wanted to use a sister fabric to the first block, pink with a bit of blue. This block had lots of twiggy stems to deal with first.


They were a little larger than in the last block so used a very small zigzag stitch to stitch them. 
Next was the flowers, tried the oval base to them in the pattern but couldn't get my colours right so opted to use part of another pattern of Esther's instead.


Very Happy, they look how I picture carnations to be.
Now to have the blocks so far together.


Very soft and romantic

I carried on with other things during the month but the more I looked at my blocks something was wrong, it was lovely but where was the pop?
There are still elements to add around the center but they can't be the pop so I started to play with my center flowers, making new ones that were darker and also introduced a bit of orange, to give me more options for my border flowers


With two made and pinned in place I liked the look, more so when placed with the completed blocks.


Felt I was on the right track but decided to leave it until the last block was made
1st of this month part 5 came out and was keen to make a start.


Decided on my vase fabric and carried through the gold I have used on all my vases.
Didn't want a solid colour for my star flowers so tried a little japanese print that is for my Queens Garden quilt.


It is a beautiful fabric with a wonderful sheen, had my blue that I wanted but also gold and green.
This is where the wheels fell off as when I put my vase up with the other blocks the balance fell apart and nothing gelled together.


My deeper center was going to work as it was drawing the eye in but  only my latest vase stood out and all the flowers were there but doing nothing. 
It was time for some serious reverse stitching so took all my blocks to quilt group last Friday and unpicked my center flowers and the two tall vases, felt they were the ones that would be easiest to alter, changing my block flowers was not an option LOL 

First for new fabric was the tulip block


Wasn't sure about this fabric but it brought my flowers to life.


Loved my original blue vase but it didn't have any variation in it even though it had lots of swirls, this is not my favourite fabriv but it brings out the colours in the flowers.

New Center Block

Like the first one I used a limited number of fabrics and changed their placement for each flower. Decided I didn't really like the way the center petal overlapped the side ones with these fabrics so put it underneath instead, strange because I was very happy with it on top in the lighter flowers.
Now I could finish my last block.


I wanted more gold tones to balance the yellow in my tulips so decided to go with an earthy look heading into orange and finish the star flowers with bright orange centers.


To stitch those tiny flower centers I reduced my inwards stitch width to 1.6 instead of my normal 1.8 but left the length between stitches at 2. You are turning your fabric every stitch on such a small circle, if the stitches are too close together or too long they will stitch over each other instead of being seperate.

With my block finished and all my changes made it was time to put them all back together.


Set out like the pattern with the similar shape vases opposite each other the vases look good but it is unbalanced


A change around and it all flows and is much better on the eye and
the flowers take center stage.

Hope you have enjoyed seeing how Love Always has evolved into a totally different quilt to how it started. Going to link with Esther's WOW on Wednesday now and head back to some stitching.

Enjoy your week everyone,
Cheers Jenny

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Work on Wed 17th Jan

Hi everyone,

Blogging got forgotten over Christmas and the New Year but do hope that it was a good time for you all and there was plenty of family and friends around you.
My time has been divided between stitching and gardening, we are finally after years of having building materials and may need one day things stored all around the yard getting outside things finished and the gardens in order so whenevr the weather has been not too hot have been outside.
After finishing Secret Garden put it aside until I found my backing. All my other quilt tops were finished as well so it was time for a new project.


In the Pink, another Esther's patterns from before I joined her group had been on my mind so it was time to make it. A lovely mix of piecing and applique that I found irresitible.

Had a fabric to use for the main fabric and found a wonderful hydrangea fabric to go with it so matched my other fabrics to that and was underway. Started with the pieced blocks, easiest one first




It is a straightforward nine patch that is then cut into four and rearrange and sewn back together. Straightaway could see I have far more contrast in my fabric than Esther so am ging to have a much stronger look.


Second of the blocks again a reassembled nine patch but you make the half square tringle blocks before you start, little more fiddly to get the points perfect but love how exact Esther's measurements always are. Cut correctly they go to together perfectly.


 Twelve blocks like this to make

With a few of these made started on to the first of the applique blocks, which I had to piece first.


A triangle strip which goes across the block. The first one, though I cut to measurement was too long so went back to my tried and true method of foundation or paper piecing it. Result was perfect and the triangles I had already cut worked perfectly. Next add to each side and the block is ready for applique. 


First applique block ready for stitching, have eight of these to make.
Doesn't show well here but am using two shade of purple for my flowers, single one and center one of the three are darker as are the little petals.



Next up five of these for the center, added a third purple as felt my other two were too similar in colour and wanted to get some more movement into the quilt.

The center is the trickiest part of this pattern. Esther puts five center blocks together and then adds the applique as the flower stems all crossover the seams into the center block. I decided to put nine blocks together and save myself having to worry about Y seams when adding the other blocks.


Put the first two rows of three together and suddenly realised my little applique swirls in the center had to go into those corner seams, thats why Esther had only put the five corner blocks together Lol
Luckily was able to add my swirls with only a little unpick of two seams before adding the bottom three blocks.


Laid out on the floor the pattern is starting to come together.

It took a couple of sessions to position the flowers and lay all the stems into the center


Love how the center looks.

Haven't started stitching it yet as got sidetracked into writing a tutorial on how I set up my machine and do my applique stitching. Wrote this up last week so have a look if you would like to know more.

Then it was the 1st Jan and Esther released her BOM's for 2018, all gorgeous and I did have trouble deciding which to make but Love Always had a special pull because of its relationship to Love Entwined. Couldn't get my head around a colourway so finally decided to make the center from my stash and see what happened. 
Didn't take many photo's along the way s wasn't sure if I would continue with it, even using an offcut of fabric not quite the right size for my background


Decided I want to make this without using batiks which are my turn to fabric for flowers and leaves.
Already failed with this as my circle is a batik.
Fussy cut my star center from an oriental fabric with gold accents and placed it on a cream with gold so that headed me down the metallic look as well, so finished it off with metallic thread.
Was very happy with my first flower so decided to make the other two from the same four fabrics and try for a different look for each one.




It worked, loving the varying tones in what is obviously the same flower.

Had a decision to make at this stage, metallic thread for the stems and leaves or not as had used it for everything else. 


Decision made, stayed with the gold and think it was the right choice, block just sparkles.
It is Maderia mettalic No3 a soft gold which gives a lovely aged look. My machine is set exactly the same as I stitch my other applique and gives me no problem
Have not stitched the outer edge of circle yet. Will do that when the center is placed on the next ring.


Closeup of fabrics and stitching

Hooray, my blogging is up to date and hopefull I can stay that way for a while.
Linking to Esther's  WOW then will get some stitching done.
Enjoy your stitching everyone.
Cheers Jenny

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Machine Stitching my Applique

Hi Everyone,

Have been asked how I stitch my applique, know I have written a tutorial in the past but never label my blogs so now I can't find it. This one will be more detailed with set up for my machine first as this is the most important part for getting a great result.
Am showing how I appliqued the leaves and flower of a block from In The Pink, an early pattern by Esther Aliu which I have been making since I finished Secret Garden. Will blog my progress with ITP seperately though.
Here we go.
Probably the most important thing in machine applique is to forget what you know about the perfect settings for stitching. Your machine is set by the manufacturer to stitch with the perfect stitch, if you are stitching seams that is and every one knows that fabric or thread choice can mean you need to make slight adjustments. For applique these adjustments are much bigger.


On the left is my machines default setting for tension, have to say I normally set it at 3 for straight stitching as it seems to stitch better for me.
On the right for applique I reduce my top tension to 1 and then stitch a sample with my chosen thread and fabrics to make any fine adjustment, metallic thread may need to be a little less than 1 depending on fabric.
You can see at the bottom of these photo's a sliding control, this is stitching speed and you can see it is set just under the center. I will not be stitching fast and this setting stops an accidental press of the foot that will send me racing away - and unpicking.


My usual stitch is a single blanket/buttonhole stitch although machine has two others that I use on occasion but this is the one I use most.
On the left default setting and the right my setting. It is length that I reduce most as doing raw edge it seems to almost seal the edges as I stitch.
For smaller pieces and narrow points or areas my width could reduce down to 1.4
Stitch adjusts in .2 increments at the push of a button so easy to do while stitching.
Have also set the needle to the down position, vital for all the stopping and turning of fabric.


The threads I am stitching my block with are Maderia Polyneon and a Mettler Polysheen variegate.
They are synthetic threads so care needs to be taken to press from the back of the work when stitching with these as too hot an iron can melt them.
On the right is my normal bobbin thread, Seralene which is similar to Bobbinfill, Decobob or other  lightweight specialist bobbin threads.
My Bernina machine has an eye on the hook of the bobbin case which I use when threading the bobbin as it tightens the bottom tension slightly with out having to alter the actual bobbin tension.
I only have two shades of bobbin thread for applique, beige for light backgrounds and black for very dark ones but have a Decobob  bobbin set of colours that will use if am concerned about a particular area
Needle is an 80-12 Cordenet or topstitch needle, the sharp point and slightly larger eye I find ideal for the majority of threads I use including metallic

As most of my threads are on small cones and my machines main holder for thread is horizontal I prefer to feed my thread from a stand. Also gives a better feed with specialty threads. A tip given to me that I use is to tape a safety pin to end of machine and use that as the first feed from the stand as in photo on right.

The last thing I alter before I start stitching is the pressure on my foot. can't take a photo as the numbers don't stay on screen long enough but machine has recommended pressure of 47. Once again I am not straight stitching so I reduce pressure to between 25 and 30.
This means I can move the fabric under the foot while stitching gentle curves.

Have checked my settings are right by stitching a test of same fabrics and thread plus my stabiliser.

If you haven't done much machine applique I would suggest you start by just stitching for a while and feeling and understanding how your machine stitches ie left, right, forward and repeat or maybe its left, right, forward, back, forward then left, right again, it all depends on your machine.
Get into the rhythm and count it in your head so you can predict where the needle will stop and go next. You really need to know this for when you turn your fabric or to pivot at a corner or point. Thanks Terry, I know my stitch so well had forgotten to mention the importance of this.


Although my stitching would look good without stabiliser, (used it hardly at all for Love Entwined )
I now use it all the time for stitching my outside edges. This one which I love using is a heavy tearaway which looks and feels like blotting paper, it is made from recycled cotton.
I'm stitching the flower at the top of photo so have cut a piece the size I need.

Time to start stitching


Nearly forgot, am using an open toed embroidery foot which gives clear vision of the stitching area.
I prefer to tie off all my stitching on the reverse so make sure I have both threads long enough for tying and secure the top one with my fingers as I set the needle for my first stitch.  Botom thread is laying flat and out behind the needle.
Needle is positioned JUST off the edge of the fabric, you do not want to catch the fabric edge as this can cause fraying, too far away from the edge also creates problems as background may pucker or fabric can fray because you have only caught one or two threads.

I have picked a place to start where because I am stitching stem and leaves in one colour I won't have to stop and restart my stitching.  I use a small straight stitch to travel either under or on my stitching.


My skills in paint are terrible but the black line is where I will stitch, the two red lines on the swirl at top of photo are where I will straight stitch in, turn and stitch around the swirl, then straight stitch back out to carry on up the stem.


Stitch slowly and maintain the needle entering your background just off your applique.
Where the base of the flower is I will again use a small straight stitch to move to the other edge, stitching right next to the flower but not on it. those stitches will covered when stitching the flower.

For the swirls there is a lot of stopping and turning of fabric. Not that much going around the outside as the lighter pressure on the foot will let me slowly stitch most of the outside curve with out stopping. Coming out though it will be stop and move fabric every stitch for the tighest part.
then plain sailing to the point of the leaf.


Here I have reached the very point and have turned my fabric so that I can take one stitch inwards right on the point. Machine has a pattern start button so that I only do the in and back stitch then turn my fabric for the forward stitch down the next side. With knowing my stitch well I can stop and place my needle precisely for the point if necessary or adjust a couple of stitches coming to the point, this is where the rhythm comes in.


Ready to stitch down the side, shows where I will stitch past my starting point and finish where I made my first turn to go from the stem around the leaf. Will show point better on the flower.


Stitching finished and on the reverse the top thread is clearly being pulled through by the bobbin thread. Hands up in horror if this was a seam but for applique this is what you want on the back of your work.


Positioning for the start, though thinking about it, it can be easier to start on the straight rather than right on the point as I have here.


Approaching the point this is where I start reducing my stitch, 1.6for next few stitches then to 1.4
Note that my applique edge where I will stitch is always at 90 degrees to my needle, use the inside right edge of the foot as your guide and stop and turn fabric a fraction every stitch of necessary to keep that edge at 90 degrees, moving the fabric at the start of your forward stitch.


My forward stitch has taken me right to the point so have turned fabric so that point is at 90 degrees to my foot to make 1 horizontal stitch in and back to the same point.


Next stitch is forward and am stitching away from the point, two stitches at 1.4, two at 1.6 then back to 1.8. the rest of the curve I can gently move my fabric as I stitch.




You can see the top threads clearly on the reverse. The cut in my stabiliser is because when I started stitching the flower my fabric was not sitting perfectly on my stabiliser and a quick snip let me correct it.

For the center I wanted to do some additional stitching and decided I could do it as at the same time as stitching the edge.


Used an air dissappearing pen to draw my stitching lines on the center.


Stitched the first side reducing my stitch to 1.6 at the start of the neck and kept that size to the point.
Turned my work to start the additional stitching and stitched with a small straight stitch in to the start of my marking the changed to triple stitch for a defined stitch and stitched on my drawn lines, stitched back out to the point and then completed the second side.



That is my flower finished and once the other panel is stitched it will look like this completed block


Hope this helps you understand my way of stitching and how I set my machine.
Suggest you make up some samples, have a pad and pencil alongside and play with your machine noting your settings and record what works for you.

Enjoy your applique everyone.
Cheers Jenny