quilting

Fussy Cutting

Some of the coolest blocks I’ve seen for #100Days100Blocks are fussy cut or meticulously cut. This can mean a couple of things but for the sake of this post let’s focus on cutting your fabric in such a way that when you sew the fabric back together you recreate the pattern. Like this:

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This year for #100Days100Blocks2018 I really want to hone my skills, and I thought I’d show you my process. Obviously step one is to pick the block. I’m working on block 28 from Tula Pink’s City Sampler Book. Here it is:

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Here is my fabric pull:

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My plan is to recreate the raccoon on the right side of the block, put a strip in the middle and use the solid for the left. This means, I need three pieces of raccoon fabric to line up.

I start by picking what I think of as the “anchor piece”. It’s the piece of the block I’m going to build off. In this case I’m going to start by cutting the bottom piece and then work my way up.

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Next I lay the piece I just cut over the fabric and match the pattern.

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The pins point to some of the places that I matched the pattern such as the stems of leaves and raccoon fur.

It’s time to cut the fabric! First identify seam you want to match. In the picture below that is labeled with an “A.” Next, identify the side that is going to match the edge of the block. In the picture below that is labeled as side “B.”

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You’ll notice I did not work too hard to match the pattern on the bottom of the piece. The seam isn’t going to match here, so it’s not that important.

When you are fussy cutting your seam allowance is 1/2 inch of the total size you’re cutting. Let’s say the piece you were cutting was 1.5 in by 3.5 in (that isn’t what you would cut for this block, but I do not have permission to disclose details of the patterns so we’re making stuff up.) This means when you’re cutting you will overlap your side “A” fabric by .5 inches.

Next it’s time to line up your ruler. I line the ruler flush against side “B” and then 1/2 down on side “A.” Then I cut 1.5 inches down on the “B” side and 3.5 inches across on the “A” side.

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I used washi tape to mark where the edge of the anchor piece meets the fabric I’m cutting.  Since it’s really hard to see.

You can see below the cut extends down a half inch below the anchor piece.

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At this point, I remove the anchor piece and put a piece of paper under the corner I already cut. This helps me line the ruler up with the corner so I can cut the other two sides.

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After I’m done cutting I set out the pieces.

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At this stage I often feel a little nervous because the fabric doesn’t look like it will ever match. But as you can see below, it will

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Another trick, I use a quarter inch presser foot that is a quarter inch on both sides of the foot. In this block, it doesn’t matter if the blue fabric lines up exactly, so I want any fabric shifting to be absorbed by the blue. Therefore, I run what I am trying to match through the machine first.

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I try not to obsess about if the pattern looks lined up while I’m sewing and focus on trusting my cutting and lining up the edges. After I’m done, there is a good press with starch and then it’s done!

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A word about perfectionism: I have a three rips rule. If my seams don’t still line up after trying three times I either need to re-cut my pieces or let it go. You’ll notice that ears and leaf to the left line up much better than the ear on the right. At the end of the day, I’m not making a show quilt. No one will notice the leaf being one stitch off, but they will notice the overall effect of the block. Finished is ALWAYS better than perfect! 🙂

Another note: I recently watch GeekyBobbin do an Instagram live in which she recommended starching your fabric (are you following her on wordpress or instagram? You should be.). It’s making my process MUCH easier. She also recommends glue basting which I have not been able to get to work for me. That goes to show that all methods don’t work for all quilters and you must find what fits you.

Happy fussy cutting!

Project Status, quilting

How I sew my blocks for #100Days100Blocks2018

The countdown is on! We are on our way to the start of another 100Days100Blocks challenge. I love this project! I have so much fun sewing along with all the other quilters. Since this quilt-a-long is such a marathon, I thought I’d share my process with you.

First, I sew ahead. I would not be able to manage this pace otherwise.

I start by putting all the fabrics I’m using in one spot so I can pull fabric for multiple blocks at the same time.

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I usually pick a focal fabric (in this case Prince Charming), and then look for accent colors in the print. I set the blocks together how I envision it working and then take a picture so I don’t forget what I had in mind when I actually go to cut fabric.

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Next I put the fabric in bags with one of my alphabities blocks, so I don’t forget which block I was pulling fabric for (notice a theme of me forgetting things sometimes?).

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After I cut the fabric I lay it all out on a piece of batting so I can see it all together. I also work at least two blocks at a time. Having two blocks going means I can chain piece.

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Here’s how I have my sewing area set up: I bought a press and flip cutting mat. It has a cutting mat on one side and a pressing mat on the other. I also have a tiny iron. I set up the pressing mat and iron on the side of my sewing table. I place the batting on the floor to my left. I press and then realign the blocks.

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Using the batting and pressing right next to my sewing machine minimizes that chance that I mix up pieces. I did that a ton last year and ripping seams is a pain! I also keep the alphabities piece over the block so as to not mix things up.

The process then become a lot of sew, press, repeat until…Ta Da! A finished block.

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Hope that was helpful. Happy stitching!

quilting

Sometimes You Have To Try: A look at my mishaps while trying to appliqué borders

I finished hand sewing together all the blocks for my Mischief Quit! I started the quilt in June of 2017. The fabric was gift from my mom for my birthday and the pattern was a Mother’s Day gift from my husband. I met my goal of having the block assembled in less than a year by mere days, but it still counts!! (If you’d like to try this quilt kit you can buy it here.)

Now comes the next big step: appliqueing on the borders. I have never done anything like this before. So it will come as no surprise I spent a lot of time on the internet. Then I read Flossie Teacakes’s Guide to English Paper Piecing. Lastly, Karen Tripp, the DIY Addict herself, shared a photo of my quilt top on her Instagram page and asked people for advice.

I now had mountains of information and needed to get on with it. I figured there are four borders to attach so I have four tries to figure out what technique works the best for me. As it turns out, I did something different with each borders. Yay for being a beginner. 🙄

Attempt #1

One of the Instagrammers shared that she left the end paper pieces in and machine sewed right through them. This was my ideal since I was afraid of removing the edge pieces and distorting that beautiful pattern in Karen’s design. I used a Hera marking tool to mark the border fabric.img_1409

See the line? It means no markings to remove later. 🙂

Next I pressed the edges and applied the applique glue. I was immediately concerned that the glue’s hold wasn’t strong enough so I added pins. I sewed right through the papers and got beautiful crisp edges…then I tried to take the papers out and it was a DISASTER. I destroyed the papers, which I was bummed about because I already have plans for a repeat, AND I don’t think I was able to get all the paper out.

Conclusion: be brave and take the paper’s out first.

Attempt #2

I took the papers out, pressed the fabric and secured the fabric with pins this time. It went okay but the fabric felt a little shifty to me. AND a few of my corners rounded a bit after taking the papers out. I did not like that.

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See the rounded corner on the right? Not what I was going for.

Conclusion: Better pinning is needed and need a way to preserve edges without paper.

Attempt #3

For this attempt, I pressed the edge while the papers were still in to crisp up the borders and then I took the papers out and pressed AGAIN with a bit of Best Press. This left me with nice pretty edges. I decided to give the glue another chances…and the second half came unglued while sewing. I had to stop to realign the fabric and pin. I felt grumpy about that.

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Conclusion: Pressing before removing the papers makes a big difference and the glue is not enough.

Attempt #4

Taking in everything I learned, I pressed the edges with the papers still in. Then I removed the papers and pressed again with the Best Press.

Before Best Press:

After Best Press: Then I glued the borders and then let it sit under heavy stuff all day to make sure it set

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And I added a few pins just to be sure.

Conclusion: I still had some shifting problems. I don’t think I pinned frequently enough. I’m chalking this up to being a beginning. I think I’ll need to practice some more.

Mitering the Corners

I used Angela Walter’s framework for mitering my borders. You can check out her episode of the Midnight Quilt Show (skip to about 7 minutes in).

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After I sewed the corners, I went around the corners to make sure everything we super tacked down and wasn’t going to move. Then I trimmed some of the bulk from the seam allowance.

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I’d love say that I used pinking shears for a super strategic reason. The truth is I was afraid to use the rotary cutter because I didn’t want to cut something I wasn’t supposed to and my fabric scissors were in the other room and I did not want to go get them.

A few side notes:

I love my “purple thang” tool. It is amazing for popping out papers and for tucking in fabric tails while sewing. It costs hardly anything and is super helpful.

I accidentally got too close to a pin and now it was stuck. The Purple Thang pushed it right out!

I had to remind myself over and over again that I am a beginner. I have NEVER done this before so the results will reflect my novice status. As we tell our OCD clients All. The. Time: done is better than perfect. When a cold Illinois winter hits and I’m snuggled under this quilt feeling super proud of myself, I’m not going to notice those few bits of paper I wasn’t able to pull out or that corners didn’t miter exactly.

Enjoy!