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Quiltmaker project tips

Nancy Mahoney's Garden Waltz Quilt

      Garden Waltz is a quilt designed by Nancy Mahoney and patterned in Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Spring ’14 Collector’s edition.

It’s a beautiful quilt with some really eye catching applique.  The large applique patches  can become stiff, though, if made using the traditional method of applying fusible webbing behind the full applique patch. One way around this is to use a very light weight fusible such as Shades SoftFuse Premium.

Or you can try this:

Trace template D on the paper side of the fusible webbing instead of applying the fusible to the back of the green print/ black print bands as instructed in the magazine.                                                          


Trim away the fusible 1/4” on either side of the traced line.


Position and fuse to the back of the fabric band.


Trim on the marked line


Fuse in place on the quilt and sew a blanket stitch around the outside of the applique.


Trim the background fabric from behind the applique, being very careful not to cut into the applique patch.  This reduces bulk in your quilt.  


Many quilters use this method to reduce stiffness in their applique projects.  Give it a try and see if it works for you.




Patch Pal Series

I've really enjoyed the Patch Pal quilt series and Quiltmaker is extending the fun by publishing Patch Pals through 2012.   At first glance, they look time consuming but I found that not to be the case.  I've sewn all but one of the quilts in the series and have spent no more than 15 - 18 hours on each quilt, start to finish.  

Here are a few suggestions that might help your patch pals come to life quickly and easily.

I find it helpful to put a guide on my ruler when cutting multiples of the same size patch.  I use the QTools Cutting Edge.  The fabric butts up against the guide and keeps the patches the same size with every cut.  

Another challenge is positioning the fabric patches correctly.  I keep the patches separated by color and unit then grab them on a rotating basis as I lay out the sections.  I don't worry too much if I have a couple identical patches lying next to each other- it will all blend in the end.  Assembling the body in sections as illustrated in the magazine helps break up the work load, too- so to speak.  Check, double check (triple check?) the positioning of the patches before piecing to insure proper placement.  

Whenever possible, press the seam allowances in opposite directions when joining the rows.  Not only does it reduce bulk in the quilt, it helps the seams line up perfectly. 

A quilter has to be especially exact with piecing when adding a pieced border to the body of a quilt.  Mine came out "right on the money" with Pokey Patch but my border on Beary Patch was too long.  I measured how much length I needed to subtract, divided this amount between 4 or 5 of the border blocks and then sewed slightly larger seam allowances.   Spacing the mistake over multiple blocks fools the eye into thinking the blocks are all still the same size.  Maybe these tips will help you avoid the extra work I had to do.  Use a 1/4" seam guide on your sewing machine, stay with the same size thread through out the quilt, and make your half-square triangle units slightly larger and then trim them to an exact 2 1/4" (or whatever size is called for in your quilt).  



Hummingbird Updated

One of my jobs as a home sewer for Quiltmaker is to test a quilt pattern and share any tips or techniques that make the project easier of speedier.  I had a great time making the Hummingbird Update quilt for the July/August 2011 issue of Quiltmaker;  but because I try my best to stay away from bias seams, I didn't cut the 7 1/4" squares into 4 triangle As.  Instead, I used the quarter-square triangle technique to make the 6 1/2 " units.  Pair 2 different colored squares right sides together.  Because you're making pairs, you'll need to cut 1 extra square for a total of 100, and  once the units are pieced, you'll discard one unit.  Mark a line on the wrong side of the paired fabrics diagonally from corner to corner.  Sew 1/4" on either side of the line, (view 1) cut on the line and open up the 2 squares.  Iron the seam toward the same color fabric in both blocks.  Position these blocks right sides together by lining up the seams, opposite color to opposite color (view 2).  Mark a diagonal line from the unseamed corner to the other unseamed corner, sew 1/4" on either side of the line, cut on the line and open up the fabrics to reveal 2 units.  Repeat until you've made 99 units.  I cut my beginning squares 7 1/2" by 7 1/2", and I do this so that there will be extra fabric to cut away from the completed unit to ensure an exact 6 1/2" square.

I used heat resistant template plastic to make the template for the B applique patches.  I "paint" the 1/4" seam of the applique patch to be turned under with a solution of 1/2 liquid starch and 1/2 water using a small stencil brush,  then use a small craft iron to turn under the patch edges (view 3).  The small tip of the craft iron works better than the edge of a regular iron and I'd highly recommend buying a small iron if you plan to do a lot of applique.  The combination of the heat and starch ensures a tight, crisp turned under edge.  


I took a class from the great quilter Sharon Schamber this winter, and she taught a wonderful technique for keeping an applique patch in place until sewn.  Use water soluble Elmer's school glue and run a small line of glue about 1/8" away from the turned under edge of the patch (view 4). Position the patch and iron to set the glue.  Keeping the glue away from the edge ensures you won't sew into it when blind stitching the patch in place.


To save money- and I'm a big fan of saving money- I used the colored paper sales inserts from the sunday paper as a stabilizer when sewing on the applique.  Don't use the black and white newsprint because the ink can rub off on your fabric.


My points aren't perfect on this project, but the beauty of busily printed fabrics is that they hide a multiple of mistakes- including imperfect points.


This quilt has curved border corners and it wasn't until I'd cut the binding on the straight of grain that I realized i needed bias binding to ease around the corners.  Instead of recutting the full length of the binding on the bias, I cut 4, 12" -15" bias lengths, pinned the straight of grain binding around the quilt, determined where the bias binding needed to lay, and replaced those areas with the bias binding.  Problem solved!


I love the optical illusion quality of this quilt.  I look at it once and I see the circles floating above the background and the next time I look, the background pops out.  It's even more apparent when you see the quilt in person.  And couldn't you just see this quilt in a black and white color scheme? or a red and grey?  I hope many of you give this quilt a try and share your results with us.



Snowbird by Design

My second home is in Arizona and I wanted to honor my adopted home by designing a southwest themed block.

My first try looked something like this but it made me think of a robot so that design went into the reject pile.


Next came this look. It was better but seemed too blocky and boring.



I added some diagonal lines and because that seemed to give the block more movement and interest, I was happy.


Now it was time to pick the fabrics, and as luck would have it, my AZ quilt guild was hosting a shop hop.  I knew I wanted turquoise in the middle square to represent the turquoise stones that are so popular in southwest jewelry.  I found a piece of fabric with purple, gold and turquoise colors in it's pattern and I used those colors to pick the fabrics for the rest of the patches in the block.



I fell in love with the result when I constructed the block.

Snowbird by Design


 I NEEDED to make a quilt from this block and these fabrics!  Trouble was, I only bought enough fabric on my first shopping trip for the sample block.  I hurried back to the same shops hoping there was still enough of the fabrics I needed on their shelves.  We all know the agony of trying to find a fabric that has gone out of (print?).  Luckily, it was only a few days between buying the first fabrics and going back for more so the shops had what I needed.  Here’s a picture of the quilt I made from my block design.  This quilt will be patterned in a future “Quilts From 100 Blocks” issue by Quiltmaker so keep an eye out for it. 




Last Updated: Nov 25th, 2015 - 4:52 PM

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