Thursday, October 25, 2012

Foundation Piecing: Square In A Square Tutorial

Use pre-cut square and triangle patches to precision-piece this classic block. Because you stitch on the printed line, your points will be perfect, and your blocks square! Email Jodi ( to receive a PDF file to print the 3" foundations used to make this table mat. Practice with them first, if you like, or perhaps you'll be ready to piece project blocks now. Choose varied scraps in "light" and "dark" groups, use a one color scheme like this one, or simply jumble a varied color selection.
This project uses 3" foundations, and is approx. 14" x 14" finished size.

Step 1. Trim foundation COPY a scant 1/8" beyond outer solid (final trim) line.

Step 2. Next, use a straight edge (bookmark, postcard, small flat ruler) to make a guide edge to crease the foundation on all inner SOLID lines. Note how the foundation is being folded so that printed side of foundations are on the inside

Step 3. Measure patch #1 (center square) size, outlined in red here. Cut designated fabric patch with 1/4" + 1/4" seam allowances added to that size, or 2" for this project block.

Step 4. Turn foundation so printed side is DOWN. Attach fabric patch backside to backside of foundation using fabric glue stick - just a dab will do. The fabric edges should extend beyond the area's creased lines approx. 1/4".
Here is patch #1 in position on the BACKSIDE of the foundation.

 Step 5. Turn foundation over to be print side up. Fold at crease between patch #1 and patch #2. Use a rotary ruler and cutter to trim excess fabric patch away at selected seam allowance width. Repeat this for remaining 3 sides of square. For most projects, this would be the 1/4" previously referenced. Here, I am using the "Add-An-Eighth" ruler which has a raised lip 1/8" in from right edge. When I align it at the crease, that lip "catches" at fold to help me trim at exactly the right place. Eighth-inch allowances work well for miniatures or small scale blocks. Use the "Add-A-Quarter" ruler if you prefer the larger allowance.
Step 6. Analyse for information to pre-cut the triangle patches for the first row (#2-5). Here, one of those triangles is highlighted. With the 1/4" line of the ruler at triangle "square" edge, I can estimate that a 2" half-square triangle would be about right. Round slightly higher for security, such as 2 1/4", if desired. At right, two fabric squares are cut, then cut on the diagonal to produce the 4 patches needed to complete this round of one block.
Step 7. Fold over the diagram on the same line as step 5, for patch #2. (Here it is highlighted in red on front and back of the sample foundation.) 

 Step 8. With diagram folded, visualize the triangle shape needed to be underneath  the crease-defined focus area (#2 this time as marked in red). Place the cut triangle face up on the table. Position the red-lined shape over cut triangle and adjust so crease lines of diagram fall within cut edges. Both face fabric surfaces will be touching. When adjusting is done. carefully unfold diagram and pick up the foundation and patches. Take care that nothing shifts. (You can just see the white edge above left thumb, showing the patch aligned correctly underneath foundation.)

Step 9. Move to the sewing machine. Adjust the stitching length to about half the length of the usual straight stitch used in conventional piecing. You can see the stitch length in photo for Step 14. (For regular stitching on my Pfaff machine, I usually set the stitch length at 3+. For foundation piecing, I set it at 2.) Short stitching helps perforate the paper for easier removal later. Working with miniatures, it also makes the seam more secure for narrow-cut allowances.
Stitch, beginning 2-3 stitches before the diagrammed line begins (the line between what is already in place and what is being added). Stitch across the line, making the needle pierce the layers exactly ON the line. Stitch 2-3 stitches beyond the end of the line. Pull away from machine, clip threads, etc.

Step 10. Press triangle patch #2 back. 

Step 11. Move to rotary mat. Fold back on stitching line. Use Add-A-Quarter ruler to trim away extending triangles tips.

Continue adding the first row of triangle patches #3-5 in the same manner, repeating steps 8, 10-11. This photo shows row 1 complete.
Step 12. Measure the target triangle and determine "squares" cut size to pre-cut outer row triangles patches #6-9 as previously done in step 6 for first triangles row. The extended seam allow. on the straight inner seam edge hits the ruler near the 3" mark. Therefore, two 3" square patches will work to cut, then subcut diagonally into the needed large triangles. 

Step 13. Fold foundation on target seam line for patch #6. "See" the patch's triangle shape defined by creases (and here outlined in red). Place triangle face up on table, position target triangle over the patch, etc., as in step 8. Adjust, unfold, take to sewing machine.
Step 14. Begin 2-3 stitches before line, across line, end 2-3 beyond end of line, as in step 9.

Step 15. Press patch back. Turn work over on cutting mat, re-fold diagram and trim tips as in step 11. Repeat positioning, stitching, pressing and trimming of tips for #7.

Step 16. Add #8-9 in similar fashion. However, since these two are the FINAL patches to be added, the drawn seamline extends to the foundation outer line. For this block, seam line extends at both ends. Therefore, begin stitching from foundation paper cut edge, stitch along the line, then stitch off the cut edge at the end. (This makes the seam more complete and allows for easier paper removal.)
Step 17. Press the final patches back. Give the block a final good press. (I like to use steam or Best Press spray.)
Step 18. Turn the foundation over; place on the cutting mat. Use a rotary ruler and cutter to trim the block to its finished size by trimming exactly on the outer solid line. Try to "split" the line as you cut for increased precision.

Here is the final block, trimmed to final size.

Step 19. Remove the paper. Begin at the highest number patch. Fold back on the seam line, then begin at one end to tear away the paper section at the stitching perforations. Continue to the next highest number. Flex the fabric to release it from where it was previously connected at stitching. Fold and tear away. Keep working in reverse number order until all paper is removed. (#1 patch affixed with glue may need slightly more effort to remove.) Once paper is removed, handle patches with care to avoid stretching any bias edges.

Nine Block Table Mat Project
For the project shown at the top of this blog, prepare 5 "dark" blocks (right) and 4 "light" blocks.
Lay out the 9 blocks as shown. Join into rows, then join rows. Press seams in opposing directions. Add borders and/or posts as desired. 

For this layout, cut:
4 narrow borders 1" x 9 1/2"
4 post corners 1" x 1"
4 outer borders 2 1/2" x 10 1/2"
4 outer post corners 2 1/2" x 2 1/2"
binding of choice.

Layer, machine quilt, attach binding, and you're done.

Now, wasn't that fun!

Watch for other foundation piecing tutorials to continue 
learning more advanced layouts and shapes placement techniques.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spider In A Papercraft Halloween Wreath

Full of favorite things! When I saw the inspiring original of this wreath in an upscale boutique, I instantly wanted my own. And my Silhouette empowers me to make the attempt.

Great timing, too. I have been scouting a chance to feature the 3D spider from Snapdragon Snippets. What a great chance to use my extensive collection of Stuff!

Examining the boutique wreath, I discovered a great innovation: wrap the wreath base form (theirs was straw; mine is 12" extruded foam) with "Green Wrap" shipping honeycomb packing paper. 

Since my base started white, I wrapped  a first layer of taupe lightweight home dec leftover fabric. Both were cut into 3-4" wide strips, with joints glued in place on the wreath backside. "Freaky Fabric" loose weave adds the next texture to the base.

Here is a pre-assembled grouping of the embellishment elements. Some of the top layer circles were slashed to center then cut edges overlapped to create a slightly cupped shape. Spider, star and black circles have glitter added.

To create the fold-over circles garland, I used the ovals design tool to shape a 1" circle, duplicated it, then moved it to overlap slightly, and finally used the weld tool to combine the shapes. After cutting, these are folded to align halves enclosing the jute twine, and glued in place side by side.

Some surprising materials: White "poppies" are 3 coffee filters. (Tea dye-dip and center-scrunch, then cluster. Brewed coffee  makes a good overdye for the vintage effect.) Black twill tape fringe centers were glued between 3 gathered filter sheets. Black door screen mesh is gathered and stitched. Separated platinum-colored holly with jewel sprigs, fine netting ribbon rosettes, fringe "beads" for centers are other items included.

Paper tassels are recycled Bible pages, layered and stitched together, then "fringed" by rotary cutting at 1/4" intervals, "rolled" and glued, finally tea-dyed and wind-dried (makes them fluffy!).

What would I do differently next time? Start with a larger wreath -- I had so much fun, there were too many shapes to fit on. I'm already thinking about another vintage-style wreath for other holidays decor. 

Shapes used:
3d spider by Snapdragon Snippets, scalloped layering shapes, pleated rosettes, simple flowers, Halloween Trick or Title Ornate Frame. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Haunty Jaunt Project Tutorial

As you work on your own Halloween count-off wall quilt, refer to these explanations and photos to make the process even easier.

The first operation is to prepare the "flying geese" units (see Instructions Step 3).
 Accurately cut the A rectangles & C squares, then use a straight edge like this see-thru ruler to carefully trace a diagonal . pencil line on BACKSIDE exactly through the corners.

Next, position one C square on the right end of one A rectangle with face sides together. Make sure all cut edges that CAN align are lined up exactly. With regular length stitches, sew from corner to corner ON (or a hair to the RIGHT of) the traced line. Repeat for all required units.

Press the corners of C square back so that 3 corners stack exactly. Get the feedback: if the face triangle corners DO NOT reach to align with the others, adjust by checking square position, or by stitching a hair MORE to the right of the line. Soon you will know the exact spot to sew to get the most accurate pieced unit.
Turn unit over to view from backside. Carefully fold back the "excess" two corner layers (one layer of A rectangle, one layer of C square) and trim away 1/4" beyond stitching. 

Be sure to do these operations in this EXACT order each time: 1.) Stitch; 2.) Press; 3.) Trim. This will help the bias seam to not stretch out of shape during the pressing step.

Now repeat the positioning and stitching process for the second C square on the opposite end of the A rectangle unit. Note that when positioning correctly, the diagonal line and stitching that follows will cross the previously-stitched seam. THIS IS CORRECT.

As a  building block unit, they are often made in multiples. Make the process go more quickly by "railroading" or "chaining" the units as you sew them. That is, stitch across the first unit, park with needle down at end of seam (but leave attached to machine), then position and sew right on to the next unit. Assist the beginning and end of a "run" by double-folding a fabric scrap, sewing across it to start, sewing onto it to end, with needle & presser fut paused at edge awaiting the next run. This saves time & reduces thread clippings and waste.

Press second C corner back as before....
then trim away excess underneath layer "corners" as before, leaving the 1/4" seam allowance beyond the stitched seam. Check feedback for accuracy as before.
(See Instructions Step 4.) Transfer day numbers to the flying geese units by using a light box or similar set up so that light will allow the digits on the pattern page to show through the fabric to be traced.

Here you can see the pen-inked number '30' completed on a unit. The solid lines are aligned with the angled seam lines. Trace the basic outline, then fill it out to match the provided numbers when the patch is away from the light box and can be seen more clearly.

 (See Instructions Step 22 at the end of pg. 2.) The "31" number is ink-traced onto the Inner Moon applique piece. Please NOTE that the moon pattern is REVERSED, so the triangle stitching guide is opposite where it should be in finished quilt top.

Turn over Inner Moon applique (prepared with fusing at edge only as shown) and mark on the BACKSIDE the positions of 3 triangle corner points with pencil or (here) temporary blue marker.

Turn again, line up the corner points again, and mark the triangle stithing lines and the "31" on the FRONTSIDE of the Inner Moon.
BEFORE fusing the moon front and back together, and then onto the quilt top, glue the washer in place behind and within the triangle. Quilting stitching will eventually hold the washer in place.

Now the two moon pieces can be joined, or positioned and fused onto the quilt top itself, as in next photo. 
Shown here, the fusing paper would STILL be in place on the outer moon (back layer), but has been REMOVED from the front.

One of the best ways to layer or arrange multiple applique pieces is to use the "non-stick" Applique Pressing Sheet available for purchase from the better quilting shops. Prepared pieces are fused to the sheet which has been laid over the pattern sheet showing applique positions, and which can be seen through the sheet. Layers are added, peeled off when cooled, then fused to the quilt top.

The cutting chart (see Pattern Sheet 2) is organized for efficient fabric use. First,one
 4 1/2" strip of "charcoal" fabric is cut to size from the length of the 1/2 yard piece.

 Next, patch B4 is trimmed to 4 1/4" size from one end of cut strip, using rotary tools and gridded mat. (B4 is 4 1/2" x 4 1/4".)
 Now, remainder of cut strip is trimmed to 
3 3/4". Follow chart and instructions to cut UL3 and UR7 patches from this strip.
Follow this procedure for remaining Tower Piecing patches: Once a strip (or multiple strips of same width) are cut from the yardage, they are "sub-cut" into smaller patches following the chart IN ORDER. LABEL each patch as cut to avoid confusion. Here, the great temporary marking pen "Frixion" is shown. Ink from Frixion dissappears with the heat from an iron.
(See Instructions Steps 12-18.) Use conventional piecing to assemble the Tower Mid section, Tower Mid Left & Mid Right sections, and the Upper Left & Upper Right sections. Shown here are the Upper sections, divided into "Left" and "Right". (This sample does not have the inked numbers; Instructions advise to put them on the "flying geese" units prior to the piecing.)

(See Instructions Step 22 for specific details for ALL appliques.)
Here are some specific tips for the fusible applique for this quilt. At right, view the Pennant inner and outer shapes are prepared with fusing, trimmed WITHOUT the lower jagged edges cut out. See the pencil lines on the fusing paper of the outer shape. Fuse the inner (centered) on the outer, then trim both layers on the lines, 
 Tower and Turret rims will need to be trimmed to fit the patchwork. Here, the upper Tower rim should be positioned, "tacked" in place in a couple of strategic spots to hold in place, then trimmed to match side and upper seams of #30 numbered unit.
Turret rim will need right side edge trimmed to match Tower edge, or open the adjacent seam stitching in the are, fuse that edge onto exposed tower patch, then re-stitch the seam to enclose the raw right edge.
 The middle Tower rim also needs to be positioned, tacked, and trimmed around BOTH #12 & #13 so it matches up with corresponding patchwork seams. 

(See Instructions, Step 24.) When patchwork, applique and all borders are in place, glue the washers in place behind the numbered "triangle" of each flying geese unit.

Take care in handling from this point on so that no washers fall off (making it impossible for the magnet bat to stick!).
(See Instructions, Steps 27-28.) For ease in handling during painting, attach a screw to the backside of the wood half egg.
Paint body with two coats of acrylic paint. I used Delta Ceramcoat color grape.
If you wish, "shade" the edges of painted half egg. Get a painting tutorial online, or advice from someone you know. Basically, it involves using a wide brush, primed with water, "touched dry" on a paper towel, then left side loaded with black paint. On a non-absorbent sheet, make a 1/4" long brush stroke, then make a series of 3-4 identical brush strokes moving slightly to the right for 2 then back. This blends the black with the water in the brush to make a gradation in the depth of paint color that will be applied. With the brush loaded that way, paint around the edge of the egg with the darkest side at edge.
Use the rounded end of a brush to make "tutti dot" eyes with white or ivory paint. Use a smaller rounded brush end to make "tutti dot" pupils in eyes. Also paint tiny fangs with white used for eyes (see next illustration for marking position of mouth and fangs with pencil),

Apply protective varnish coat if desired.
Make a copy of the painting illustration, cut out the mouth and fangs shapes. Paint tiny fangs with white used for eyes. Apply protective varnish coat if desired.  Ink mounth and outline fangs with a permanent Pigma black pen or equivalent.

 Trace bat body onto black wool felt. This traced side will be the backside of the bat.

Also trace the vein detail stitching lines. Here I have used a separate card stock copy of the bat body with vein detail, cut on the vein and body contour lines, then folded strategic parts away to trace along the cut edges.

Layer with a second piece of black wool felt. Shorten the machine stitching length; thread machine with black on top and in bobbin. Stitch around outline, up and back on vein lines. Overlap stitches before tying off.

Trim away excess felt a scant 1/8" beyond stitching. On FRONT layer ONLY, cut a small vertical slit, insert magnet disc between felt layers. Apply glue to keep it in place. Reposition back layers as necessary to align slit edges. Glue painted bat body half-egg securely in place, to cover slit.