Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Curved piecing part 2

Yaaa-hoo! Hot off the design wall. Licorice Allsorts. The pattern is the pickle dish in Kaffe Fassett's
As you can see I went for more of a scrappier look and bordered it with the background fabric which is Guinea Flower in mauve. I like the way the arcs float.

I did say I would show you how I did the curved piecing so lets start.
First, lay out the pieces. I use a felt covered board to transfer the pieces off the design wall so that I don't get them mixed up. I also like to put a pin in the arc that's the uppermost one so I don't mix them up.

Step 1
In the middle of the pieces that have curved edges, I make a very small, shallow clip within the seam allowance only.

Step 2
Every arc has a backgound pieced to the outer edge so I''ll sew them first. Pinning is the key to making sure it's going to sew together nicely.
Match the outer edges and center notches and pin. Then I put a pin in next to the middle pin  and another next to the outer pins and finally a couple inbetween. Doing it this way, it seems to fit together without any problems.

Step 3
At this point, I sew the seam and I recommend sewing with the foot down and needle down if you have that option. If I  have to lift the foot to adjust anything, the knee lift is great too. I also always sew with the concave piece on top, (the one that has an edge that looks like the mouth of a cave)

You can see with a large gentle curve, it's not looking too hard. I always use the tips of my scissors to help me with feeding through and keep the seam in front of the foot flat. It's my extra finger. You can use a stiletto or seam ripper the same way but I always have my scissors right there. . It's also really helpful to flip seams or for easing the top layer if you need to. If you've done dressmaking or made soft toys, it's really not that much different.

Step 4
It's time to pin and sew the ellipse shape to the arc. That's the small piece in the middle of the block.
The pinning is exactly the same. Make sure the ends are aligned and the edges of both pieces are absolutely together. Pin the ends, then the middle matching the clips. Then pin the same way as in the previous step.

It should fit together perfectly but if there is a discrepancy, you can hold the piece as I've shown in the picture below and give a little gentle stretch to both pieces. Be careful not to pull too hard or those stitches may pop open.

View from the other side. When you put it under the foot to sew, try to keep this side flat aginst the bed of the machine. You don't want to sew in any tucks.

Step 5
Go ahead and sew it the same way as the larger curved piece. You may have to go slower and keep the point of the scissors in front of the foot. Only be concerned about the area around the foot, not the parts over far to the left, they won't interfere with anything. 

Once that piece is sewn on, open up the seam on the right side and press, not iron. You don't want to stretch the block out of shape. Once the squares are sewn on, then it's time to sew the last curved seam.

Step 6
Pin the same way, matching seams and go ahead and sew the seam.

I took this photo to demonstrate how the piece on top is blousing up and creating what looks like a bulge. It's like a petticoat, it has flounce. To correct that, all you need do is pick up that piece on top and move it towards the back, it will magically flatten out as you distribute the bulk. When sewing curves, it's important to ensure that if you lift the foot to do any adjusting, the needle doesn't pull on the fabric or when you commence sewing again, your stitches will drift and create peaks on the right side.


I pressed the seams open when joining blocks to distribute the bulk. I used a stitch length of 2 when doing all the sewing. I also flipped the odd seam on the back to get seams butting opposite to each other when sewing the blocks together.

Whew, that  was a lot of photos but since I'm a very visual learner myself, I think it may help to explain things. If you've never had a go at curved piecing,  my hope is  that  this may encourage you. The larger gentle curves are easy but it does get more difficult as the curves get tighter and smaller so I don't attempt things like a 2" drunkards path. I do have my limits.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Curved piecing part 1

Thank you so much for the interest shown in how I'm tackling my curved piecing for the quilt shown on the previous post. The pattern is in the Quilt Romance book from Kaffe Fassett and is shown on the cover.
I can show you how I go about it but keep in mind, there are other ways. This is mainly for those of you who haven't tackled paper foundation piecing or curved piecing. My hope is that if it interests you, you'll have a go.

I'll divide the information up into two posts so that it's not so photo heavy.
I photocopy my templates, cut them out roughly leaving a margin, and glue stick them to firm cardboard or template plastic. The plastic we get is quite thick so works fine. I then glue sandpaper to the bottom of the templates and wait for it to dry before cutting them out exactly on the lines. The advantage of the sandpaper is that it really sticks to the fabric and doesn't shift around, much safer for the fingers.

It's really a good idea to use the smaller rotary cutter to cut around curves. The other tool I find invaluable is my rotating cutting board for moving the cutter around templates. A small mat that you can turn works well too.

I photocopied my paper pieces for the arcs on normal photocopy paper and cut them out. All the fabric shapes for this quilt are cut from strips, easy peasy so far.

One reason quilters get confused with paper foundation piecing (PFP) is that they try to think too much about how it works. My advice is don't think about it, just do it step by step.
There are two types of arcs in this pattern, ones that have light fabrics on the ends and ones that have dark fabrics on the ends. Here we go with one that has lights on the ends.
Step 1
Choose the two fabrics and place them right sides together.
The uppermost fabric is the one that will end up as the first one on the arc. In this case the light fabric.
Place the PF (paper foundation) on top of the strips with 1/4" seam allowance to the right of the first sewing line.
Lower the stitch length on your machine, 1.5 on my Bernina. Sew on the dotted line.

Step 2
Turn the PF over and open up the two fabrics. Press with a dry iron. I keep my ironing board at a low level beside the machine table.

Step 3
Hold the PF with the writing facing you. Fold the PF back on the next dotted line and trim the fabric you just sewed on, 1/4" beyond the fold.

Step 4
Open up the paper and on the fabric side, place the next strip even with the one you just trimmed. Make sure that the strip of  fabric is showing beyond the top and bottom of the PF.

Keeping the fabrics in place with your fingers, flip the whole lot over and sew on the next dotted line.
Keep repeating these steps, alternating the light and dark fabrics.

These arcs go really fast after the first couple when you should be starting to get a rythym going.
Once you have the fabrics sewn on the whole arc, trim evenly with the paper.

I remove the papers at this stage and don't sew the arc to any other block parts with the paper still in. It makes it difficult to sew and remove the papers afterwards. I have had no problems doing it this way.
To tear the paper off, hold your finger over the begining so as not to pull out any of the stitches and tear away and down.

If you're having trouble with the tearing, try folding the paper back at the stitch line each time before tearing.

It seems like a lot to take in but I wanted to show you as many detailed photos as possible. I only started  this project a week ago and I have done all 72 arcs plus pieced half the top together and just have to assemble the parts for the second half.

Still with me? Good because I wanted to let you know about a new blog. I'd love it if you could go over for a visit and give my daughter a big blog welcome. She has a love of bright colours and makes some wonderful things when she has the time. With four kiddos, that's the hard part so I know she'll appreciate the encouragement. You can find her at Sew Stitched Up.
See you for part 2 in a few days,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I love my curves

I don't mean my body silly, I'm talking quilts and blocks. I'm magnetically attracted to designs that feature circles and curved piecing. I've made a few as you can see, I've shown all these quilts before on my blog.
I especially love to foundation paper piece the arc shape and I'm having quite a good time with the pickle dish shown on my last post. Thanks for all the encouraging lovely comments, I feel spurred on by you all.

I've had a couple of relaxing evenings doing some more handquilting on the quilt in my new header, I may even finish it sometime this decade. Oh so slow going but it's being quilted within an inch of it's life. Don't ask me why I do that to myself, I'm such a sucker when I start these things and then I find myself committed but I'm happy at the end and it's just as well.

I have so many long term projects lying around and here's another stitchery block that's done and dusted. This one has taken me ages to finish.

I have done no cooking for several weeks :) while I've been in recovery mode but Mr Quiltsalott has gone back to work and I've had to re-aquaint myself with the kitchen. Sad but true.
I made these little quiche pies to go with a green salad for a light meal, they are so easy and the leftovers freeze wonderfully. You can use anything you like for the filling. Want the recipe? I'll give it to you anyway. Great for picnics too.

Rustic pies
3 sheets puff pastry
3 large eggs
300 ml's cream
3 rashers middle bacon, cut into small dice.
1/2 small onion finely chopped
3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
about 1/4 cup grated cheese

Grease a 12 hole muffin pan and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C
Using a soufle dish or large cutter, cut 4 circles of pastry out of each sheet.
Place pastry in muffin pan, the tops will flute a bit.
Put a little chopped bacon, onion, parsley and cheese in each pie.
Mix the egg and cream together well with a little black pepper in a measuring jug.
Pour egg mixture in each pie and top with a little grated cheese.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until puffed up and golden.
you may have to turn the oven down a little during cooking if they are browning too fast.

Is anybody interested in me talking about and showing how I'm tackling the arcs and curved piecing on the Licorice Allsorts quilt? If so, I'm happy to give you any info that might interest you next time I do a post. Let me know, I'm happy to oblige.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Temptation in blogland

Blog land is so full of inspiration and ever since I saw this post, I knew I was going to make this quilt from the book Quilt Romance. I'm doing my arcs scrappier, utilising the fabrics on hand. I'm having so much fun being back in my sewing room with this one that my other projects are going on hold for now.
I think I'll have to call it Licorice Allsorts because that's what the blocks remind me of.
I'm not all that good at following instructions to the letter, especially when I know a quicker way so I'm not marking and matching all the dots, I just fold the pieces in half and make the tiniest notch in the middle of the pieces for matching and pinning, it saves a lot of time.
I've been using a core board covered with felt to transfer the blocks from the wall onto the sewing table otherwise I know I would get myself into trouble and I don't want to become best friends with the seam ripper.
I like to use the sewing machine during the day and I keep the handwork for evenings so I'm not being anti social so I've have been appliqueing the baskets and here is the latest batch, I have now made a grand total of 99! These are addictive too and have been tempting a lot of quilters, check out Kathie's, she has them all on the wall. Warning, you could be tempted if you haven't been already.
I caught up with my blog reading in the weekend and have signed up for a quilt along, at Don't Look Now. Yet another long term project, sigh. Honestly I have no discipline! I am in good company though because there are already well over 100 who want to join in.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another excursion

All week, DH has been asking me when I feel up to going out to visit two quilt shops near Sydney. Over hill, down dale, over the Sydney Harbour bridge and far away we went. Last year we did a bridge climb to the top, the view is great from up there. First, before the bridge we visited Quiltsmith. It's my new favourite shop. So many fabrics, from reproduction to Kaffe's and other designers, they have a lot, it's a big store.

Do you have a system when you go into a quilt shop? I do, I look at fabrics, look at the books, look at the fabrics, go to the notions, look at the fabrics. Buy stuff. It takes ages you know.

I just have to tell you about this new Clover thimble. Check it out! Very soft flexible rubber sheath with the metal top. It doesn't slip off! I no longer have to huff and puff into the thimble to make it stick to my finger. It doesn't fly off, it's comfortable, light and it comes in three sizes. I really wanted the shocking pink one to fit but I had to go to large since I have a big knuckle.
Next stop was Cottage Quiltworks. It was their opening day after relocation. More gorgeous fabrics, wonderful light with the floor to ceiling windows and next door, they have a very large classroom. There were a lot of fabulous fabrics and the staff there are very welcoming and friendly. It was a lovely visit and even better they have a 30% off sale until the end of the month. Go visit if you're in the area.
I spent a good part of yesterday washing and ironing this lot, now I'm well enough to go spend time in the sewing room playing with it.
I went through a brief debate with myself about not washing fabric anymore because of the time and effort. We have dye catchers and other products to prevent bleeding that work very well. I soon realised that for applique, when using freezer paper templates, the sizing on the fabric prevents it from sticking on for long, now it's back to washing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Combatting cabin fever.

We've been stuck in the house long enough. It was a nice spring day yesterday apart from the wind so let me show you around a couple of local spots. You can see the Sea Cliff bridge in this photo, about ten minutes away from home. The pillars were built into the ocean and the bridge is used for a lot of car ads. A nice stop for lunch. in Whale season you might be lucky enough to spot some.
Good view, good food and good company.
Here's our local beach and where I'm standing is the launch spot for hand gliders and paragliders and no I'm not game. Australia has the most beautiful coastlines and I'm lucky enough to live so close to one of them.
Just on the outskirts of town is this Hindu temple and I've always meant to go and have a look. Unfortunately it was closed inside.
I couldn't resist taking this photo of two gum trees, there's such a contrast in the barks. The light one is a white gum and the dark one is a peppermint gum. Living in harmony.
And just so there's some quilty content, here's the next MM block. I won't talk about the pink reverse applique in the flowers.
I'm off on another short trip now so more next time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The lucky dip week

It's been pretty good having plenty on the go to keep me occupied this last week. I finished another Mary Mannakee block.I had some relaxing time reading. The book "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett is her first novel and recommended by another blogger, a really good read.
The quilt books are a get well gift from someone very special and I just have loved these two for the information and great quilts in them. Love the VA one a lot and highly recommend it.
And what's more, mail day today and look at these two great patterns by Di Ford available from Threadbare. 19th Century Baskets and Homage to Sallie Ann. Both reproduction quilts.
The fabric is the Civil War Bride background that was on backorder but they forgot to send the pattern. It's more gold/tan than the photo indicates. I think I have enough patterns to see me into the next century now.
I have got a bakers dozen of the little basket blocks done. I loved getting back to these.Now let me show you my lucky dip bin in the sewing room. It has practice blocks, partial quilt tops and other goodies in there, (read UFO's)
I had a delve to the bottom and found an old project that I could just pick up and do some stitching on while sitting in front of the telly.
An oldie but a goodie, the blocks are all ready to have the yo yo's stitched on, they are all labeled according to what rows they belong in and I have bags and bags of them. It's been nice having some different fabrics under the needle. It's been a good week and I'm feeling so much better, recovering very well from the operation. Thank you so very much for the well wishes from all my blogging friends, if I haven't replied to your comment, it's because you are down as a no reply blogger.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Laying about

I haven't seen the inside of my sewing room for a week, I haven't picked up a needle and thread until today, in fact I've been lying around just like Annie. She fancies this new pincushion, I don't mind sharing. It's the Moda French General one filled with some sort of sand which makes it quite weighty.
It's not out of choice, I've not lost my mojo, believe me. You see, I've been away on secret women's business.
I've been in hospital and I'm recovering from an operation. I'm mending slowly but it may take a couple of weeks.
I did get a bit of applique prepped and all ready to have sit and sew sessions. The only advantage to being laid up is that I'm exempt from housework, cooking and other chores and I get to be waited on.
The block prepped above is for the Mary Mannakee. I made a freezer paper template and left "bridges" to connect the two sections so that I could use one piece of the red and do it by using the cutaway method which I thought would be easier than doing two separate pieces.
Last week, I whipped up another one of these fabric boxes to hold bits and pieces while I work, I really like them as holders for all sorts of things.
I'm also renewing my love affair with these petite basket blocks for short stitching sessions. I missed doing these so now I'm back to it, I'm really enjoying the fact that I can just pick one up and have a stitching fix. I have enough of these prepped to last me a wee while.
I was really hoping to have the second border all done for the Princess Feather quilt but I still have some more circles to add which may have to wait. Go see Ann's, she has attached two borders to hers already and it looks amazing.