Quilting Assembly Line

In a previous post, I referred to the multitude of quilt tops I had ready for quilting.

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future table runner on Realtree camo fabric

Since I got the Qnique and Grace Frame, I may have quilted about 5 or 10 items. I hoped to have acquired expert status with this set up by now, but it hasn’t been like riding a bicycle. The  brain and muscle memories haven’t automatically renewed every time I tried a new project. Each project has its own set of peculiarities!

Since most of the pile (seven of them) consisted of table runners, I thought maybe I could pin several of them up to the Grace Frame, and quilt them all at the same time, and see how it went.

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5 table runners pinned up to the quilting frame

This frame is supposed to accommodate fabric to make a king-size quilt. I was able to comfortably fit 5 of the 7 table runners across the width, with a little space in between each. The backing is pinned (with the right side facing down) onto the first (top, furthest back) leader cloth, and to the second (center) leader cloth. I have marked on each leader cloth a mid-point. Normally I would fold the fabric of the top, bottom, and batting in half and pin that half-way point to the mid-point on the corresponding leader cloths. To match up the mid-points on all these separate fronts and backs of the table runners, I just counted the marks on the top leader cloths and lined them up with the marks on the bottom leader cloths. I realized later, that not all of the table runners were the exact same length,  so that was one major problem with this set up!

A while back I bought 2 big rolls of batting on sale, anticipating that I would be making a whole bunch of quilts. I use one of them most of the time, for the smaller baby quilts and lap quilts. I can position the roll on the floor in front of the frame, and just roll out the batting up  onto the frame as I am rolling out the fabric to be quilted. The one end of the batting layer is pinned to the backing, and then the quilt top is pinned to those two layers, forming the quilt sandwich. I actually purchased a fourth rail for the Grace frame, onto which the batting roll can be wound. One of these days I will find that fourth rail and install it. The second of the two batting rolls is for larger-sized quilts. The batting is folded double, and then wound onto the cardboard roll. So it doesn’t conveniently unwind from the roll like the first one does. You have to unroll the estimated length of batting, cut it off, and then unfold the large section of batting in half, and pin it to the backing.

One thing I enjoy about the Qnique and Grace Frame set up is that pinning the fabric layers to the frame takes significantly less time than pinning the layers of a quilt for quilting on a home sewing machine. You pin the selvedge edge of the backing to Leader #1, then the opposite end to Leader #2, then roll it up on the rails, smoothing it out with your hands. No need for fifty-thousand pins with the little foam bobbers, or safety pins, or clips. However, in this case, since all the table runners were not the same length, and there were so many separate edges above and underneath the batting layer, a bit of mayhem ensued.

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removing the quilted table toppers en masse

All five pieces were conjoined in the batting layer, as seen above. But when the ruler base attached to the throat plate of the Qnique slid across to continue quilting the top next to it, it sometimes slipped the backing layer of its neighbor (underneath the throat plate) out of alignment, which wasn’t easily seen from the top side. And because all the tops and bottoms were of slightly different dimensions, some of the backing layers had a bit of slack, which wasn’t easily seen from the top, and which resulted in a few big puckers.

DH (Skip) suggested that next time, I sew the edges of each runner together prior to quilting them on the frame. I don’t like that idea, because I feel that the seam ripper should be used for ripping out undesirable stitches that occur by accident, not on purpose. But, if I ever do 5 at a time again, it might be worth a try to see if sewing them together causes less shifting of layers.

After the quilting, and cutting out the separate runners, and truing up the edges, I found that I would need to rip and redo several areas of quilting, due to puckers, overlaps, and other unsightly mistakes. In a couple of spots, when I slid the Qnique over to the next runner, the hopping foot got entangled in the edge of the top fabric and had to be cut loose with scissors. Sheesh.

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overlap from the throat plate sliding under and shifting the backing
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big pucker

The worst shifting and puckering occurred in the inner  three table runners. The outer two turned out with the least amount of rework needed, perhaps because the bungee clips which hold the fabric taut, are attached to the two outside runners. This is the reason for DH’s suggestion that all the lengthwise edges be seamed together for quilting, so that the tops and bottoms are one continuous piece of fabric during the quilting step. But I also feel that these errors can be chalked up to overall unfamiliarity with the process. Perhaps they could be prevented in the future by smoothing all the fabric pieces, exercising extreme vigilance of the under layer, and perhaps installing the fourth rail and rolling the batting on it, thereby keeping the batting layer more taut and uniformly stretched out during quilting.

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Best result, one of the two end runners

Next pass, I pinned up the last two table runners to the frame. These, too, were of slightly different lengths, so one of them had some slack in it during the quilting step.

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last two runners quilted together

I pinned them up closer together, practically touching, but I didn’t sew the edges together. I ended up with a couple of minor puckers and overlaps. But the one with the pink backing, because of its additional length compared to the other one, had about a 5-inch space at the end that couldn’t be passed over with the machine, because its neighbor was already at the end of its quiltable area.

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unable to finish this area

So this last little bit, as well as several areas on the previously mentioned runners that had to be picked out and re-quilted, were done on the Brother SC9500 with the free-motion hopping foot installed. BTW, that Brother is an awesome little machine, and very affordable!

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Rework on the Brother machine

I did manage to get all the quilts (3) and table runners (7) finished, reworked if necessary, and bound. Here are a few pics of the finished items.

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lap quilt from Robert Kaufman Celebrate Suess fabric collection
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Lap quilt with Robert Kaufman Celebrate Suess IV precuts
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Christmas Tossed 9-Patch lap quilt (pieced last year) with red satin blanket binding
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Orange and Blue/Camo table runner

 

 

 

Mossy Oak runner
Mossy Oak Breakup/ stitched camo remnant runner
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Gator collegiate fabric/ RealTree remnant runner
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Red berry Tree Hugger/Real Tree remnant runner
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Pink Tree Hugger/ Real Tree remnant runner
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TrueTimber MC2 remnant runner

The last one is not bound yet, because I couldn’t find anything in the stash right away that would make it “pop.” But the cats love it already. This is a slippery, satiny fabric that is possibly meant to represent snowy winter camouflage. For a backing, I used a silvery hologram-looking knit fabric. I love all of the camo remnants!

The Tree Hugger machine embroidery pattern came from Embroidery Library.

So the Assembly Line experiment was not trouble-free, but it was an adventure!

 

 

Building a “Cat-Proof” Christmas Tree

For the first time in many, many years, we decided to forgo getting a regular Christmas tree and make our own…out of wood.  The reason became very clear as we watched our six month old kittens repeatedly try to climb an artificial plant in our TV room only to have it come crashing to the floor.  Now, we have had cats forever and we have witnessed them denuding the Christmas tree one or two feet above the floor, drinking all the water out of the tree stand and pulling the tree skirt out from under the tree to make a nest.  But this year we decided to surrender to the cats and make a cat proof tree, or as one of our sons calls it, a cat accommodating tree!

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basic plywood tree

I acquired three 2’ x 4’ sheets of ½ inch Baltic plywood, and using scraps of wood and green deck screws, fastened the sheets together to form a 6’ x 4’ pallet for my wife to draw a Christmas tree. The plan was to construct a tree that could easily be disassembled once Christmas was over and to store the tree in the attic. I asked Jennifer to outline the tree and locate two large openings for shelves and two smaller openings to use for hanging cat play toys.  When this was completed I took a jig saw and cut out the tree and large openings. I used an electric drill with a 4” diameter hole saw to cut out the smaller openings.

I painted the tree with forest green paint and took it inside for Jennifer to decorate the tree.  We covered the dining room table with brown paper and it became our inside work bench for constructing the tree. Jennifer will tell you that our dining room table is my favorite work bench!!

While Jennifer added snow, popcorn, holly and beads, I began construction on the boxes that were to provide the support for the tree. The plan was to mount a 5” wide by 10”  deep by 10” high box to the back of the tree at the center. Five inches of the box was left exposed from the front and would be decorated as the tree trunk.  Two boxes 12”x 12” x 10” deep would be constructed and decorated as Christmas presents, these would be attached to the front of the tree on the left and right side of the trunk. This provided a very stable tripod arrangement to support the tree. These were fastened from the back of the tree using the same deck screws used throughout the build. The boxes were constructed using ½ inch Baltic plywood. I used a skill saw to cut out all the parts since my table saw was still occupied by the Boy Scout Eagle project we are working on (Adirondack chairs for a homeless shelter in town. Maybe a topic for another blog… how to build chairs with 10 boys 13 to 14 years old trying to use electric drills and sanders!)

Two 12” inch deep shelves were cut from the same ½ “ Baltic plywood. These had their front corners rounded off with the jig saw and painted red. Later these had a wooden strip attached to the bottom which provided a bracket for attaching the shelves to the tree.

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three wooden boxes form tripod base

The tree was moved to the TV room and placed in front of the fireplace. The backup plan for supporting the tree was to run a board between the tree and underside of the fireplace mantel.  We then loaded the tops of the boxes and shelves with treats and hung two catnip toys in front of the small openings and sat back to see what happened. Our 16-year-old cat and the two kittens immediately put the tree to use. They climbed the front, the back and in between. The tree did not even shudder! Success!

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cats checking out the tree

Of course, after 30 minutes the newness wore off and they haven’t been near the tree again. However, my wife and I have felt stress-free! No broken glass Christmas decorations!  No throw-up from the cats reacting to the chemicals added to the Christmas stand water to extend the life of the dying tree (only kidding about the chemicals). No urine stains on the Christmas tree skirt!  No 50,000 pine needles all over the floor to clog up the vacuum!  And I figure that if I get one of those tree shaped things you hang up in your car that are pine scented, we can even enjoy the smell of a real tree! Next, we might even add LED lights, battery-powered so we don’t duplicate the cat-atrophy I saw on the movie Christmas Lampoon!

Planting Time

As you may have seen from our previous post, we’ve gone all out for planting a raised-bed winter garden. In the prior blog entry, we go through the process of building the planters out of wood harvested from our own back yard and bolstered with our daughter-in-law’s no-longer-needed bed slats, and filling them with nutrient-building amended potting soil. We have great hopes that the planters will make it easier and better on us oldsters, to be able to maintain a home-grown garden. The planters are about waist-high, so we’re saying “no” to back-breaking shoveling, hoeing, and bending over to weed.

Today I picked out some winter veggies from our local Garden Center that are supposed to work for our growing season, although technically, I’m told the optimal time for planting the winter crop was last month. We will see if we can keep our little project going.

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selection of winter veggie plants and herbs

We have a couple of strawberry plants, various herbs, lettuce, arugula, broccoli, and a couple of different types of cabbage. We like greens, which would be an acceptable winter crop, but for me, lots of collards, turnip greens and kale are a dietary no-no (kidney stones).

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raised bed planters

Some sustainability experts say that it’s best that your garden is situated somewhere you’ll naturally see it and come in contact with it every day, like say, a spot you walk by on your way to go to work. These guys are out on the back patio, sort of hidden. If we open the blinds in the hall bathroom, we may be likely catch a glimpse of the planters if we happen to wander into that bathroom. Otherwise, it’s “out of sight, out of mind” for the garden. Maybe if we set the alarms on our cell phones each day to “go check out the garden” then our recent efforts won’t slide by the wayside. Sheesh! The ancestors had some valid motivations to tend to their gardens, such as “you want to eat some real food, don’t you?”

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planting time

The weather report says we’re not supposed to have a freeze any time soon. About a week from today, it says, the temperature is supposed to go down to 35 F at night. The hay that we’re using for mulch will keep the moisture in the soil, and if it rains very hard, will prevent the dirt from splashing up onto the plants. Hopefully our shade cloth that is on order will get there by then so we can be ready to protect these little babies!

Building Raised-bed, Easy-water, Easy-weed Garden Planters with Family and Friends

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garden planter #1

 

My wife and I have started gardens in the past with a moderate level of success.  We have picked out a patch in our back yard, tilled the earth, worked in some potting soil and then after germinating some seeds, transplanted the seedlings and then watered and watched the bed to see what happened.  We found that the bugs liked our tomatoes, but didn’t like our squash enough to pollinate the squash flowers. Our food production was minimal.  And we hated having to bend over in the hot sun to tend the garden!  So when I saw Jon Peters’ YouTube video on constructing a raised bed garden, I was inspired to build a couple of these beds for our future garden efforts.

Urban Lumbering and Photovoltaics

We were fairly true to Jon’s design with just a few variations.  I’ll cover these variations in the following paragraphs but first, a few words on urban lumbering.  About four years ago, I entered into a contract with my local utility company with what is called a feed-in-tariff  agreement. Basically if I purchased a photovoltaic system for my house, the utility company would meter my power production and pay me $0.32/kWh for the next 20years. I received a 30% tax credit and was able to write off the cost of the system over four years. [I won’t go into the political ramifications of this program. I’ll save that for another rant on another blog.] So what has this got to do with urban lumbering?  In order to maximize our solar exposure to the photovoltaic system, we had to cut down some red oak trees and some pine trees.   Since I am a woodworker and a wood hoarder, I couldn’t bring myself to the decision of cutting down these trees and having them hauled off to the local wood-burning power plant.  So I called Lumber by Lance and Phil the Tree Guy and had them come to my house and turn these trees into beautiful stickered piles of lumber.  I watched as 4/4, 6/4 and 8/4 slabs of beautiful heart pine and quarter-sawn oak fell off the portable saw mill.

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Part of the wood piled up in the back yard

This project was perfectly timed, since one of my wood piles had air-dried for four years. We decided to not plane or joint any of the wood since, for this project, it was going to be used to hold a bunch of dirt!  

 Help from Family Sustainability Experts

Our two sons from Puerto Rico came home for Thanksgiving and wanted to help build the raised beds.  Our older son is the director of an educational  non-profit organization based in Puerto Rico, focusing on promoting sustainability and ecological agriculture, Plenitud PR (www.Plenitudpr.org or Plenitud PR on Facebook).  Our younger son is an instructor and project manager at the Plenitud farm and teaching center. This was just the type of project they live for!

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preliminary work on the planter box components

We used the same dimensions that Jon Peters used, 36 inches by 57 inches. The boys found lengths of lumber from my stash that were approximately 8 and 6 inches wide. These were cut to length, and using battens cut from old bed slats, they were fastened together to form 14 inch high sides for the boxes that would make up the raised beds.  Hardware cloth (purchased at a local hardware store) came in 3 foot widths in a roll 10 feet long, just enough to make two beds. This hardware cloth was stapled to the bottom of the boxes with crown staples. Then 1×2 slats of wood were used to frame the hardware cloth for additional support. Before adding the 1×2 slats, pressure-treated 2×4’s were used as cross pieces to add additional support to the hardware cloth. Jon Peters had suggested that additional support might be needed. In a kit-build, Jon Peters demonstrated that another way to construct the bottom of the boxes was to use slats spaced with gaps for drainage.

We took a different approach for the construction of the legs. Jon used 32-inch lengths of pressure-treated 4×4’s.  He removed half the thickness of the 4×4’s for a distance of about 14 inches from one end of the board. This formed a step for the box to sit on. My experience with the current method of pressure-treating 4×4’s is that the penetration of the chemicals into the core of the wood is not always as thorough as it could be. We decided to go with two 2×4’s, one 32 inches long and one 18 inches long, glued and screwed together. These legs were then fastened to the boxes with 2 ½ and 3 inch Robinson deck screws.

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attaching legs to planter boxes

The boxes were moved to the back yard deck. This kept the boxes out of the way of lawn mowers and weed eaters. Once located on the deck, architectural (weed prevention ) cloth was stapled to the inside of the boxes. This was to provide for a layer to retain the soil while letting water drain through.

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in place on the deck

Our Puerto Rico Sustainability Experts then stepped up and set about helping us put together a perfect growing media for the new raised beds.  The basic recipe for the soil mix was 40-50% organic matter, 25-30% perlite and 25-30% peat moss (not a sustainable component) or coconut fiber (a sustainable component). Our specific mix was comprised of Black Cow © (cow manure fertilizer as a source of nutrients), CocoLoco © (worm castings, coconut fiber, perlite and soil), peat moss, potting mix, and additional perlite.  This was mixed up on a tarp (see the YouTube video) and placed in the raised beds.

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ready to mix the garden soil

After filling each raised bed with the soil mixture, we added a layer of hay to the top of the soil mixture. This layer of mulch slows down evaporation of water from the bed and protects new seedlings.

Additional Support System for the Raised Beds

The next day we acquired some 10-ft lengths of ½ inch PVC pipe and clamps and constructed a support system for each bed.  The support will provide for shade (50% black cloth) during the summer months and for cover during the winter to protect the plants from frost.

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shade cloth is still on order

Now on to the local nursery to pick out some fall/winter seeds and seedlings!

Thanksgiving Day

We have so much to be thankful for!

We’re having our big get-together tomorrow so all the kids involved can also celebrate the holiday with other family members as well. We are all pretty much in good health at the moment. We’re looking forward to a fulfilling future. We’re grateful for the ancestors who survived, in spite of many challenges, to extend the familial pedigrees up to this day.

A  recent tendency is to “boo-hiss” the Pilgrims who came to America and displaced (a generic way of stating it) the Natives.  I don’t think I have any actual Mayflower ancestors, but Skip does. Some of our ancestors may not have done the right thing. They could have stayed in England, or France, or Ireland, or Germany, or (according to Skip’s DNA map) an obscure island out in the middle of the ocean, but somewhere down the line they made a decision to come to the New World. Did they ever imagine a time when someone could record their thoughts and instantly project them, electronically, to folks around the world, without waiting months for a letter in return? Thankful for communications, media, technology. Even though it will, at times, make me totally crazy.

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Thanksgiving 2016 wooden puzzle

Here’s the panel I hastily painted for Skip to cut into puzzle pieces–about 120 pieces.

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cutting pattern on back of puzzle

We’ve made puzzles before that have the pieces cut out first, then we painted a picture on top of the cut-out pieces. He likes it better to have the image painted on first, then he draws a jigsaw pattern on the back and uses the pattern as a guide for where to cut with the saw blade.

Prior to cutting, he masked the image on the front with painter’s tape. Then, after cutting out, he removed the pieces of tape.

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painter’s tape

Cutting the pieces generates some dust and small fibrous pieces on the cut edges, which we will deal with once the puzzle is reassembled.

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in a lidded plastic box for safekeeping

Next step: printing a copy of the subject matter to attach to the box so the kids will know what the puzzle is supposed to look like.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pick Your Passion, 2nd Year in a Row: Quilting, Woodworking, Football, and Bluegrass!

Last year about this time, I blogged about the local Quilting and Bluegrass Festival, here. This year it was very similar, but more so!

Similarities: the Festival was held on a day when our college town had a football game. The Festival showcases 100+ gorgeous quilted works of art. One of the bands that played last year came back:  Patchwork. The vendors and store owners in the center had cool crafty eye candy to ponder and peruse, and the quilts were truly marvelous to behold!

Skip was busy helping out with an Eagle Scout project, which consisted of building some chairs for a community group home (he loves it when the younger generation wants to do woodworking),

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Eagle Scout woodworking project

so I sashayed up to the local shopping center to see some quilts.

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I entered three raffles, hope I win them!

Several of these pics include an information sheet pinned to the quilt, so you can zoom up and see the details, thereby crediting those who produced these amazing articles.

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Celestial Soda Pop
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Gator Life by Lucy Goddard-Teel
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cool crafts in the corridors
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gorgeous smaller quilts
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The Hubby Quilt

 

I learned there are several quilt guilds in the area, holding meetings at various times, day or night. So there ought to be one that fits the schedule of just about any quilter or  wannabe-quilter in town.

 

 

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This one features Overshot squares made with fabrics woven by the quilt maker
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This quilt is to be raffled off in May…
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“Australian Dreams” by Charlotte Mason
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“The Bear Went Over the Mountain” HAND-QUILTED by Doris Lockward

 

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Skinny MInnie table runner

I bought this cute mini-table runner from one of the vendors. It’s a great little project to place on a side table in the house during football season. Speaking of which, gotta go watch the game…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Souls

by jenny

I saw an interesting post on Facebook about the celebration of All Souls’ Day in Lithuania. To get some background on the subject, see this post. (from a blog in 2014, but with great info)

Growing up, I never heard much about the two days after Halloween, All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Is All Souls’ Day the same as Dia de los Muertos? I would love to start some American traditions for All Souls’ Day. Imagine, a public holiday for people to honor and connect with their ancestors! It might spark a new family history revolution!

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(this mug is sitting on the desk at our local Family History Center)

Meanwhile, back in Lithuania, the government has issued pamphlets to the people, giving guidelines on what they can do if and when they are faced with an attack from the Russian Army, which is predicted to happen in the very near future: see this article. Googling Lithuania, I haven’t seen anything new posted in the past few days. Is the invading nation waiting to see who will end up being the new leader of the free world?

 

 

On October 31

Skip, who is somewhat tone deaf, was trying to tell me about the famous Halloween Song that they always sang when he was a youngster.

“You know, the song “On October 31?” he said.

” No, I’ve never heard of it.” I said.

“You know, this one…” and he started singing it. It went like this.

“Oh, yes, that one. I didn’t know it actually had words.” I said.  “It’s from the Peer Gynt Suite by Grieg, right?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

Same famous melody, two totally different contexts!

“Music Time” at Meade Heights Elementary School in Ft. Meade, Maryland in the mid-60’s, was sitting in the same seats in our classroom and listening to LP’s played on a portable record player. There were no visuals. Perhaps, as first or second or third graders, the teacher would have us draw what we felt when we heard the music. But I was never introduced to those lyrics that were well-known to Skip. Wonder if it was a regional thing?

Thinking, on the last day of October, how quickly this month evaporated, and that soon it will be gone altogether.

Other October things:

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Making Strides Breast Cancer Awareness Walkathon

Lately, October has been the month of Breast Cancer Awareness, and every year we have more friends and relatives to whom we dedicate our service and consideration. Here’s hoping for a cure!

As for crafting, it’s been a few weeks of machine embroidery  on dish towels and future table runners. Designs from Embroidery Library.

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Grill Sergeant Dish Towel
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Flippin’ awesome dish towel
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dish towels out of Kokka fabric

Kokka is a Japanese fabric company. Every once in a while I’ll go to a sewing expo somewhere and find a vendor who has Kokka fabrics–usually in 1/2-yard packages that cost about as much as a yard of other fabrics, but they are so darn cool!

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I think these are from Kokka too.
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Dish towels, green theme
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future table runner on Realtree camo fabric

The red and green dish towels were machine embroidered on packaged sewn dish towels from JoAnn Fabric. They are sturdy cotton with a loop on one corner for hanging. The beige dish towels were also pre-made, but I forgot where they came from. The others were sewn from fabric. The table runner is a Realtree cotton duck cloth fabric remnant from JoAnn’s.

Happy October 31 everyone!

A Left Brain Autumn Table Runner Post

For Autumn table runner number 3, I’m doing a left brain sort of a project. Actually they’re all pretty left brain for me, because rather than offering a tutorial or a gallery of images, I tend to analyze everything that went into a project. To the nth degree.

This project looks pretty simple, but it was troublesome to pull off.

I had it in my head that I wanted to do some machine appliqué text letters. But nothing in my pattern files fit. Ditto for the two of my favorite sources for machine embroidery patterns,  Embroidery Library site and Urban Threads. I found the appliqué font for this project, Sporty Script, at Rivermill. It was delivered in a zipped file, including several different sizes. I chose the biggest size, 7 inches, for this.

As this is the first sewing project featuring text as the main design element, that I’ve done in a while, I was experimenting. Just playing around, really, to get a feel for what I could do, how it would end up. My fabrics were remnants, of course, of about a yard each for the top and bottom. The top piece is Hoodie’s Collection for Michael Miller Daisy Drama  in fall colors. The bottom is a mustard-colored Fabric Traditions NTT print with glitter shot through it. At first, I wanted the fabric of the text appliqués to be a yellow-orange or a sherbet-color, but I tried mocking that up, and didn’t like the resulting look much. In the end, I decided on the green batik. It picks up some of the color of the green and beige and yellow in the top fabric, but it’s more subtle than a solid orange or yellow would have been.

The thread for the satin stitch around the letters was a light gold Robison-Anton rayon, color Patricia. When I first bought an embroidery machine, I got several boxes of thread with it from the dealer. I didn’t realize this spool was from the special Marcia Pollard Elegance Collection, as I guess the free box was a sampler of various RA threads. But I liked the color, and have used it for a lot of machine embroidery. The machine’s embroidery software has a matching feature, so that if you don’t have a color your pattern calls for, it will bring up the closest color you have on hand, if you have entered all your inventory into the program’s database. Anyway, I forgot to search in the matching db, but took off for the sewing store thinking I could just grab another spool of “Patricia,” pay, and leave. Wrong. They didn’t have it. So to be on the safe side I got 3 spools of similar gold colors, hoping one of them would be a good match. One of them was ok, but it took some testing to determine that.

To do appliqué embroidery on a quilting cotton-type fabric, I hoop up the fabric and stabilizer(s), in this order: 1) tear-away stabilizer on bottom, 2) table runner top background fabric (the Daisy), 3) fabric of the text appliqués (the green batik), 4) possibly a transparent water-soluble stabilizer on top, but not always necessary. I didn’t break it down into a detailed mathematical placement here, so the lettering is somewhat haphazardly scattered. I did do some general arithmetic to make sure I had enough surface area to put 13 letters down, including 3 upper case ones, that were in a 7-inch font size. As I hooped and appliquéd the letters one or two at a time, I didn’t get the same amount of space in between them, like you would if you were hand-lettering from a Speedball chart. I will need more practice positioning with chalk or a disappearing marker, before trying to eyeball it next time.

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Sorry to report that, weirdly enough, after many attempts, I could not get this photo, taken with an iPhone in the portrait position, to rotate into the correct position!  A WordPress phenomenon! I’ve found since, that a workaround is to only use iPhone photos taken in the landscape position. Unless you know how to insert some code that will get the program not to automatically rotate your portrait photos, which I currently don’t.

I added some leaves and acorns cut with the Accuquilt Go! Big machine and Fall Medley template and applied with Steam-a-Seam 2. Then stitched around the shapes with a machine satin-stitch.

I loaded the top, bottom, and batting onto the quilting frame, with the long edges pinned to the leader cloths, in hopes that it would only take two passes to quilt with the Qnique. It did, but the bobbin stitches for about half of the runner were horrifically ugly.

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Ugly bobbin stitches with obvious tension problem.

I briefly considered leaving this the way it is, because the top looks fine, and hopefully no one will come over for dinner and snoop underneath the runner, to see what the underside looks like. But dang! If they do, seeing this will ruin their appetite for sure. So I picked out all the ugly stitches while watching the Blacklist last night on TV.

Next, redid the meander stitch quilting using sewing machine with a free-motion spring foot, then squared up the corners and edges. For the binding, nothing I had in a package looked good, so I went into the scrap bin and cut up all the scraps of the green batik into 2-inch wide strips, sewed them together, folded the strips in half long-wise, and sewed the binding out of that.

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The applique saying is “Happy Fall Y’all” and with a black cat and a velvet pumpkins on the table, it’s beginning to look like Halloween around here.  Never mind about the digital photo orbs in the background.

Autumn Table Runners

This is the second autumn table runner post, the first one presented a few posts ago, here. That first one was pretty much general quilting, with a pieced top and a whole underneath side, with batting in between, quilted on the Qnique longarm, or “mid arm,” as some people designate it. The raw edges are bound with Wright’s Quilt Binding.

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pieced Autumn table runner

If you had to categorize this next one, the main descriptive word that comes up is “appliqué.” It is quilted, in that small pieces of fabric were put together on the top. But the underside is not pieced, unless you count that I ripped it in half length-wise and serged the two long halves together.  And there is no batting in the center.

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appliqué Autumn table runner, with Sheenah

Naturally, the fabrics used in these projects are mostly remnants from the 50%-off bin at JoAnn Fabric Store. I had a couple of larger pieces of fabric, say, almost a yard each, for the top and bottom. The top is a plaid fabric with metallic orange-gold threads woven into the check pattern. The backing is a striped very low-pile flannel in yellow, tan, and tobacco-ey colors that wash together.  You can see the center seam of the runner above, and I decided to make one side a maple motif, and the other side an oak motif. All the leaf, pumpkin, and blackbird appliqués were cut with the Accuquilt Go! Big machine and templates. I backed each appliqué piece with Steam-a-Seam 2 double-sided fusible web, also cut on the Accuquilt cutter, and then ironed them on to the runner top side.

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deciding where the appliqué shapes were going to go, and securing them down

After the appliqués were applied, I wanted to pull them all together with branches and tree motifs. I looked at lots of methods for yarn and textile couching, which is technically just laying down strands of yarn or string and then sewing over them. Looking through my box of sewing machine feet, AKA my Foot Stash, I found that I had a heretofore unused Yarn Couching Feet Set.

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couching kit

The two plastic feet each had a small hole (one was larger) through which the end of the yarn was to be threaded. You hold the end of the yarn in one hand and move it around, if in “free motion” mode, and then sew over it. (You can also use it with an embroidery hoop and software pattern.) The kit also contained two different types of hooks to mount on the back of your machine, to use as thread guides for the yarn, a device for threading thick yarn into small holes, and some sample yarn and a DVD and basic instruction sheet.

I found this process to be pretty interesting, but this yarn was very slubby and every so often I had to cut and re-thread, because the big slubs wouldn’t go through the hole.

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yarn couching on the oak side

Next, after couching, I needed to sew down the appliqués. Originally I wanted to do a big thread-art project, using different colors of thread to add shading to the pumpkins and also do the tree trunks and branches in embroidery thread. But since I used the thicker yarn, I decided to just basically outline the shapes in one color and not do a whole bunch of shading, and leave it as sort of “primitive” colors and shapes.

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finished runner, with free-mo embroidered appliqués

After going over all the appliqués with free-motion embroidery, I spray-starched the backing and ironed both top and back, making sure the back piece lined up with the top. Then I sewed all around the edges of the top  with Wright’s Bias Tape Maxi Piping in black, with the piping facing inward, toward the center of the cloth. I then sewed the backing on, right side facing the appliquéd side of the top, and sewed the edges, leaving the piping sandwiched between, and leaving about a fist’s length of seam unsewn, for turning. After turning inside out, and hand-sewing the opening closed, I pressed the edges, making sure the piping was peeking out and at the very edge of the seams. Then I top-stitched around the edges, about 1/4 inch from the piping edge, using thread that matched the top (and back for the bobbin thread).

Sometimes people will comment on the nice stitching, so I wanted to come clean and say that it isn’t me who’s responsible for that, it’s my Foot Stash. I use a special see-through foot with a little groove in the bottom, for sewing piping, and another special see-through foot with a metal attachment, called an edge-stitching foot, for top-stitching.  And the machine has a triple-stitch function that I use for pretty top-stitching, setting the length on a 5 or so (normally it’s more like a 2.5 for ordinary seams).

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Skip’s natural-edge table decked out for a Fall party

It was fun to make, and the cats definitely like it.  Sigh.  Cat people will understand.

 

Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts