Friday, October 21, 2016

Block 3 - A Little Birdie Told Me - Be My Neighbor

Applique can add beauty, or a bit of whimsey to a quilting project that piecing or creative quilting design cannot match.

Of all the the techniques that I have taught over the years, applique seems to stir fear in the hearts of my quilting students.  Never have really understood why.  Maybe it's the four-letter word - "hand." Applique is best known to be done by hand, but can also be achieved by machine.

Block 3 in our Neighborhood Sew Along has a sweet little bird sitting atop the roof singing a tune, I'm sure.  To encourage you to give applique a try, I have a couple tips and will show a couple ways to achieve success.

Option 1 - Finished Edge Fusible Applique

You will need Lightweight Fusible Interfacing and a pen or fine tipped marker. Trace the needed shapes on to fusible.

Next roughly cut apart pieces, placing them with coordinating fabric.  Leave at least a 1/4" margin around all pieces

With right sides together (right side of fabric and bumpy-fusible side of interfacing) sew interfacing to fabric following drawn lines.  Cut out shapes leaving a narrow 1/8" margin.

Cut  small slit in the center of interfacing being careful not to cut fabric as well.  Sharp, pointed scissors are best.  

Using that wonderful chopstick (we talked about in previous post) carefully turn the pieces right side out.  Use the chopstick to aid in turning and pushing out tight corners.

Since you cannot apply a hot iron at this point,  use the flat edge of chopstick and the heat from your fingers to press edges flat.

Here are two pieces of the bird.  You would next place the pieces on the block and fuse them in place according to interfacing instructions.  Then tack in place by hand or machine.

Because the edges are finished or turned, it gives more of the appearance of being "hand" finished.  It also gives "lift" or a 3-dimensional look to your work.

But we have some really tiny pieces with this project, so not all can be accomplished with this method.  The tiny beak is just too small to turn.

So let's look at my favorite method.....

Option 2 - Raw Edge Applique

This method requires a double sided fusible - like Heat N Bond or Steam A Seam Lite (I carry both).  Again trace pattern pieces on the paper side of fusible.

These fusibles have a paper and a fusible side.  When you fuse it to the backside of fabric, allow to cool, you can remove the paper backing to reveal a second fusible side.  This fusible side is slightly tacky (like a Post-It Note) and helps with placement.

 Roughly cut pieces apart, leaving margins and place on the back side of appropriate fabric.

Take pieces and fusible to ironing board and fuse to backside of fabrics.  Allow to cool and then cut shapes on drawn lines.  Remove (peel) paper backing off.  If you are having trouble removing, bend a corner back or pop up with the point of a pin.

Next apply pieces to your block. When happy with placement, iron in place.  Pieces CANNOT be moved or removed easily so be sure you have it where you want.  Use that chopstick again to move or place small pieces.

Pieces can be secured with machine stitching.  Work on a sample scrap trying different stitches on your sewing machine and don't forget to adjust both stitch length and width. You may choose a tight narrow zig-zag, a blanket or blind stitch, or a simple narrow topstitch.  Choose whatever you find pleasing.  I choose a blindstitch.

 Here's a little BlueBird for my block.  I didn't add a eye yet.  Maybe a button or bead when the quilt is finished.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Block Two - Be My Neighbor

Are you having fun?  I have loved diving into my scraps, pulling out a bit of fabric and remembering when and where I used this fabric, friends I may have been with, or the lucky recipient of something made with love.  Brings warm and fuzzy feelings to be using the last bits.

Building Permits for Block Two went out early this morning. So let's get started.

Cut all your pieces according to pattern instructions.  And then piece together in sections.  There are two distinct buildings, so it is easier, I find, to build one at a time.

Two roofs which require those pesky Flying Geese.  The silo has a chimney - a neat little twist.

Have both my roof sections completed here.

And then there's all those HST's (Half Square Triangles).  They can be a bit tricky if your seam size strays North of a quarter-inch.

But there's a solution....

If you find that your HSTs aren't quite measuring up to size, cut your squares a little larger.  Draw the diagonal line and sew either side of line like normal.

Cut apart and press open.

Get out that square-up ruler.  Align the diagonal line on the ruler with the seam of the square as pictured.  Align with the measurements of square required and trim away excess.

Making your HSTs over-sized assures that you will have perfectly sized HSTs.
And that's it for this week.  Wasn't that fun?

Happy Sewing!

P.S. Don't forget to SHARE your pics!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Five Weeks Til Christmas

Block One is out today.

This quilt was inspired by a pattern by Kate Spain called Solstice for Moda Fabrics.  I have adapted it for another Moda fabric line from Sandy Gervais called Very Merry.  I have added different borders and prepared instructions for multiple sizes.
You are welcome to use your own color / fabric adaptations.  If you wish to use our fabrics, Kits will be available at our website - KK's Quilt Studio.   

For Block One.  If you would like to make:

Bed Runner (34 x 106 inches) - Make one Block
Throw/Lap Size (70 x 70 inches) - Make one Block
Queen Size (88 x 106 inches) - Make six Blocks
King - (106 x 106 inches) - Make five Blocks

There are several Flying Geese in this block.  I HATE all those extra little triangles that usually get trimmed away.  Just a waste.  So I am all about the No Waste Method of making Flying Geese.  It may even make you love making Flying Geese.  I used to avoid them - passing on patterns that had them.

First cut one large square (geese) and four smaller squares (sky).  Measurements depend on finished size.  I have a handy chart I saved from somewhere - can't see to find where - but Dani Fisk - this is yours, Thank you.
Right Click on picture to save.

Moving along.  Draw a line corner to corner on all your smaller sky pieces.

Place two sky pieces on larger goose as shown below and sew a scant 1/4 inch away from line - both sides.

Cut apart on drawn line.  Press open.  Yes, they look like little kitties!

Place last two squares on these "kitties!"
Repeat sewing either side of line and cut apart.  Trim away all those little dog ear corners.

You are almost there.  Press open again and voila!  Four Flying Geese almost like magic before your eyes!  And virtually pain free!

That's all for today.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Every where I look, my yard is filled spiders and their webs.  They've been there all summer, but it seems as fall approached they kicked up the "decorating" to full gear!

Working on the Be My Neighbor Sew Along has been great.  Bags, baskets and drawers of little bits, strips, and fabric ends have been hiding in the corners of my Studio and under my cutting table reproducing - I'm almost positive!  Well it's time to clean the cobwebs!

It's been on my bucket list - a string quilt.  So the spiders have inspired me to get started on the spider web block.  This is a foundation piecing block.  And I'm always looking for another way to use a ruler.

I pulled out my Cozy Quilt Designs Strip Tube Ruler and the EZ Dresden Ruler.  (Both are available on my website if there are not already in your arsenal.)

The is a recycling, Use-It-Up project, so I dug into my computer paper recycling bin as well.  Use scrap paper for a foundation for the strip piecing.  With the Strip Tube Ruler as a template, I can get two triangles from an 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper.

Yes, a corner is missing, but there's enough to get the job done.  I do not want to put a seam any closer to the corner because of bulky seam issues.
 Using the center line of the ruler, make a small mark indicating the center of the long edge of the triangle (the hypotenuse for all you math geniuses!)

Draw a line from that mark to the corner.

Do the same for both triangles on the page.

Cut the sheet in half.  Make lots more.

You can use scrap computer paper, old catalog pages, or newsprint, even old phone books.

Just make them all the same size.

Make as many foundations as you have scraps, or as big a quilt as you want.

I always go BIG and have A LOT of scraps and this will be an ongoing project - so stay tuned.

Next use you EZ Dresden Ruler to cut the center "kite" pieces which will form a star. These pieces will all be white or off-white / cream pieces.  Cut 8 inch wedges.  If you have a large enough piece of fabric, cut an 8 inch strip and cut wedges as shown below, flipping the template as you go.  (Cut your pieces 8 inches, not six as in the picture.)

Let's go to the sewing machine.  Lower the stitch length.  Tighter stitches will make it easier to remove paper when completed.
Center a "kite" on the center line of paper foundation right side up.  Place first scrap strip face down.

Seam width is not as important, but try to stay 1/4 inch along aligned edges.


Flip strip.  Press.  Repeat.

Keep adding strips until paper foundation is covered and looks something like this..

I know, it looks like a HOT MESS!  It gets better!

 Flip the pieced triangle over, paper side up.  Using your cutting ruler and rotary cutter, trim away uneven fabric edges.

Then it's looking a lot more like what we are shooting for!  And we did't have to do any strange math calculations.  Hurrah!

Here's two together!  Now only about 80 more!

So stay tuned.  I'll be working and the pile grows.

If you are one of those overachievers.......remove paper carefully so as not to stretch those bias edges.  Sew triangles together forming quilt top.  Quilt as desired and POST pics!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tool Tip Tuesday

Not all sewing room tools are found on the LQS notions walls.

Today we'll look at sewing with small pieces or pointed piecing.

It's pretty basic.  Always have something under your needle.  Chain piece your projects - one piece following in after the other.  My Grandmother Stella new this long before I began sewing.  She had this small scrap of fabric that she ran through the machine at the beginning and stopped sewing on until it began to look like a very hairy spider!

Points tend to want to get pushed by the needle through the needleplate and all sorts of unhappiness begins as it gets tangled, jams the machine, and interrupts our sewing session possibly damaging the fabric.

If your machine head is portable, leave the spider in place.  Protect your sewing feet from damage or scratching by the feed dogs.  There should always be fabric between them.

Then there the matter of running the sewing machine with your fingers very close to that needle.  Another simple fix - go out to eat Chinese!

Grab an extra set of chop sticks.  Even if you can't manage to eat with them they are very handy to hold or guide small pieces of fabric through the sewing machine.

They are VERY inexpensive if not FREE and can be used for a multitude of small tasks.  Try turning that next applique project with a chopstick.  Great for pushing out and making nice corners.

Your long tweezers from your serger are also very handy.

Sew, that's it for today....Happy Sewing!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Block 1 Be My Neighbor Sew Along

You should have received your instructions for Block 1 this morning.  If you haven't signed up yet, there's still time.  Just send me your email (look to the right) or message me through Facebook and let me know you want to join The Neighborhood.

Patterns include cutting measurements and sewing instructions.  Colors and patterns are up to you as everything is in grey scale.  Let's see how creative you are!  Post your blocks and progress with the hashtag #ModaBeMyNeighbor

We got organized yesterday, so you should be ready to select, cut and sew.

Pick fabrics that will work and are large enough for piecing / measurements required.  Cut fabrics and organize in groupings as shown in pattern instructions.

This is the base of the tree and I sewed this unit, pressed and set aside.

I worked on the tree top next.  Cut rectangles and squares, and stack together.

For the tree top and roof of house, you are essentially creating a series of flying geese.  You can draw a diagonal line as given in the instructions.  I prefer to  eyeball it for smaller pieces using the blue tape line as a guide and extension of my center needle mark on my needle plate of my machine.
There are several tools out there to duplicate this effort.  This is what I find effective.

Two words of caution:
1.  Use only blue painters' tape or some low-tack tape.  DO NOT use masking tape.  It's hard to remove and either leaves a residue or will take cabinet or sewing machine finish right up with it!
2.  Sew to the outside of your line - the side you will cut away - just a smidge.  DO NOT sew on the drawn line.  Ask me how I know!

 You will not get a corner that folds back like this!  It should perfectly match the edge of the rectangle.  If it doesn't, unsew and try again.  Don't try to stretch it or squish it.
That's what God made seam rippers for!
Set the seam and press.

Next trim away the excess fabric from behind.  (you can save for another project if large enough-crumb sewing-blog post for another day ;-)

Do one side at a time.  Sewing, pressing and trimming.

Assemble all parts in units.  Units sewn to units.  Pin where necessary to ensure points align.

I fussy cut the flower pot for my windows.  And had to piece some fabric of the house.  Hey!  It's scraps - right?

And voila!  Block 1 is finished.  Only 15 more to go!

Here's the Schedule
Block 2    October 7th
Block 3    October 21st
Block 4    November 4th
Block 5    November 18th
Block 6    December 2nd
Block 7    December 16th
Block 8    December 30th
Block 9    January 13th
Block 10  January 27th
Block 11  February 10th
Block 12  February 24th
Block 13  March 10th
Block 14  March 24th
Block 15  April 7th
Block 16 and Setting   April 21st

Now what did you put in the Crock Pot for dinner?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Breaking Ground on Be My Neighbor Sew Along

Starting a new project is always fun for a quilter.  This one checks two things off my bucket list - using up scraps and a "house" quilt.

So let's get organized and set up for a sixteen block quilt.

The quilt patterns come in grey scale, so there is no correct color and I do not expect that any two will look alike.  I'll be posting pics of my progress and I encourage you to share your progress, too.

Share with the #ModaBeMyNeighbor tag on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

Ok - I sound like a broken record, but let's start with your machine!
When was the last time you popped the needleplate and cleaned the bobbin area?  (Check the Blog Archive for a recent post for machine cleaning.)

And new project - let's change that needle.  I like a size 75/11 or 80/12 Sharp.

Thread.  I prefer a 50 wt for piecing.  Lets go ahead and pre-wind several bobbins.  Choose a thread color complimentary of your fabrics.  I usually select a cream or grey/greenish leaning thread.  It tends to blend into any fabric.

Cutting mats, rotary cutters (change that blade - leaning harder means it's time for a new blade), scissors, and cutting rulers.  Don't forget the seam ripper!

And then there is that fabric....

I chose to use my extensive collection of scraps!

There are lots of blog and opinions out there about what to keep, how to keep it, and how to use it!  Well, I keep anything an inch and over, keep it in a basket, or sorted by color in drawers.  And I am about to use it!  No pre-cutting and more sorting.

So I am picking as I go - colors, prints,  just making it fun!

And you can may need a set up the iron and ironing board.  I have a small pressing board which reverses to a cutting mat and cordless iron right next to my machine.  Reduces steps and keeps me working.

 So put the Crock Pot on...and let's sew!   Look for Block 1 tomorrow!

Here's the Schedule
Blocks 1-16 can now be found on the Sew Along Page of my website

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Getting At Those Dustbunnies

April showers bring May flowers!  Showers clean away the grubby remains of winter.  And that's what we're doing today.  Cleaning out the fuzzy remains of those last 29 quilting/sewing projects!

These instructions are written for a  sewing machine with a top-loading bobbin.  Many of today's modern machines are top-loading.  But there are a few front or side-loading bobbins that we will discuss in another post.

So get your tools ready! Gather everything and let's get started! 

A good brush is essential.  There are brushes specifically sold for sewing machine cleaning.  Don't forget to check the automotive section of your local hardware store.  That's where I found the brush with the puffy red end.  It's for cleaning your dashboard and air vents.  A small paint brush is also handy for sewing machines.  Don't forget pipe cleaners and Q-tips for tight places.  Tweezers, not pictured, are good for grabbing on to loose threads or reaching in to tight spaces.

You should have a bottle of sewing machine oil handy.  DO NOT use any other type of lubricant or oil than what is SPECIFICALLY labeled as sewing machine oil. If your oil appears cloudy or yellowed, it's time for a fresh bottle.  Don't worry, it's inexpensive.  Repairmen are not!

A small lid from a plastic container for screws and small parts. And last, but not least, a small screwdriver.  Stubby, short ones work great for removing needleplate.

First let's remove the needle.  Dispose of safely.

Remove the screws from your needleplate.  Store them in a small lid where they won't roll away and become lost.  Remove bobbin cover and bobbin.

Remove the needleplate and store safely aside.

If you are unsure or haven't done this before, you may want a digital camera, phone with a camera, or a tablet to take pictures of your machine parts and placement for reference.  It may come in handy when you go to put things back together.

Having exposed the bobbin area where most of the bunnies breed, you'll want to remove the bobbin case next.  Here you will find the rotary hook - the silver round thingy!

If you haven't cleaned in a while - or EVER - you might find a compacted accumulation of lint and threads.  Depending on what materials you are sewing, this can build up fast.  Flannels, cotton quilt batting, and inexpensive threads are the biggest culprits.

Clean this area with a Q-tip with a drop of sewing machine oil.  It works like a magnet attracting dust.  Place a drop of oil at the bottom of the rotary hook.

Continue to clean the area around the hook with Q-tip, brushes, and/or tweezers.  If you have a automatic thread cutter, ensure it is free of stray threads.

Check the feed dogs for accumulated and compacted lint between the rows of teeth.  Remove with blade of small screwdriver or tweezers.

Once you have ensured that everything is clean and clear, it's time to put everything back together.

Before you replace the bobbin case, ensure it is clean and free of lint and threads.  If your case has a little tab of felt, DO NOT REMOVE!  It belongs there.
The bobbin case should lie flat in the rotary hook.  Not cockeyed!  To ensure you have placed it correctly, rotate the hand wheel towards you one full rotation slowly.  The rotary hook should rotate smoothly and completely without hanging up on bobbin case.  If the case gets hung up, STOP.  Remove and replace bobbin case correctly.

Now replace the needleplate and screws.  Tighten securely, but do not over tighten.

Insert a fresh needle for your next project.

Repeat this process often for best machine performance and longevity.  Try at least every 2-3 bobbin changes.  And if you sew often, send your machine to your dealer or qualified repairman for annual spa day maintenance.  Don't wait until something goes horribly wrong in the middle of a project - because, it will, you know!

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