A little tutorial on making practically perfect points in quilt blocks

Ok so there is no doubt, I love making pretty points when sewing my blocks together. I LOVE to match up my seams as nicely as I can. It makes me all excited when I do this and then look at the nice points and matched seams.

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When I say this and then explain how I do this, you may think I’m a little OCD or particular. But really, nothing can be further from the truth. IRL you would not find me OCD at all. But for some reason, it makes my insides all a flutter when I make a nice point and match my seams.

It isn’t that I’ve always been able to do this. And frankly, I don’t always succeed. But when I do, my heart goes pitter pat and the butterflies make me a little dizzy with happiness.

When I was a little girl, my quilting mostly consisted of making plain patchwork and then tying them off. No “quilting” per se. I also did more clothing construction that quilt making. So my sewing start is that of a different nature than just starting out quilting in the sense that I do now.

I know when I first really took a real dive into quilting as I do now, my seams were not perfectly matched and my points were poo. I mean real poo. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes they are still real poo. And that makes me unhappy. I don’t like poo. I like pretty, heart fluttering, practically perfect points.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my tips that I’ve learned along the way. I didn’t have someone show these to me. They are just things that I trial and error have taught me. Maybe you already know how to do this. Maybe your seams and points are already perfect. Maybe you have another method that works better for you. That’s ok. Let’s call this “The Anjeanette way of putting seams together and matching points.” Ok? There are a whole lotta words about to happen with some pictures thrown in. I suggest reading through it all once before you try it, because peppered throughout is a lot of back story to why I do it the way I do.

So lets start with a row of four half square triangles put together. I’m working on my block for this week’s Layer Cake Sampler Quilt Along that my sweet friend Amanda of Material Girl is hosting. I thought I’d take pictures along the way to share. Your blocks may look different but this is the basic method I use each time I am sewing blocks and even quilt tops together. Just adjust for your specific pattern. I do this before I press my seams for each row.

A few things first:

Starch, steam or sizing. I like to starch/steam or use sizing (whatever your preference is here) BEFORE I cut my fabric out. If I starch before, I can usually successfully starch during the construction as well. If I don’t starch before, and I decide to starch during the construction, I find that sometimes it can really mess with my sizing and that just isn’t fun when you end up with different sized blocks. Staying consistent during the entire process, makes a huge difference in my accuracy. *I’m going to say this again and again.

Rulers, Mats and  Rotary Cutters. I use the same ruler, mats and rotary cutter for the whole process. If I’m going to change anything, I change it before I start, if I can help it. If you use the marking on your cutting mats, they may be marked differently on different mats and that can account for a difference in your sewing. Rulers and rotary cutters are the same way. Of course, sometimes you just have to change out your blade during the process. It happens, but I’d rather do that before I start, if possible.

Needle Down. I think this and the automatic cutting feature on my machine are worth their weight in gold. I always use needle down. If I have to stop for any reason, I think it keeps my fabric from moving around. Love this feature. If you don’t have it, and I didn’t for over 10 years of sewing, just try to leave your needle down if you stop during your sewing while the fabric is still under the presser foot and you are still working on that seam. I used to use my wheel on the right of my machine more than anything else before I got my current machine with the needle down feature.

1/4” foot. If you have a 1/4” foot, use it. If you don’t, learn how to get that accurate 1/4” seam. There are lots of tutorials on how to do this.

Seam Ripper. Become best friends with your seam ripper. If you don’t like it, find one you do like. Scratch that, find one you love. I believe that your seam ripper should be your best friend. You should not hate it, you should really love it. There are all kinds of really cool seam rippers on the market. If I have just sewn something and I see a big mistake, I don’t understand pressing on. It isn’t going to get better as you go. If it is something that will be taken care of in the seam allowance, or if it is close, I may leave it. But if you have just stitched something wrong, say your end is totally wonky, it isn’t going to get better. Actually, it could end up messing up your whole block or quilt. What a waste, when undoing a few stitches or a row of stitches just may save the whole thing.

Skinny/Thin Pins This one is one that really drives me crazy. I use the thinnest pins I can find. I have found that using the flower head pins you usually find in shops that are designated for quilting, to be really thick. I think shoving something big like that into my fabric can distort the fabric and therefore make my sewing off. Who wants that? Yes, the thinner pins do give and bend more, but they seem to work better for me. I love my thin pins. I even have gotten to know the “quirks” of some of them. I have one that the blue bead head was put on crooked. Every time I use it, it makes me smile. I love my pins.

Ok now let’s evaluate our rows.

The first thing I do is I take two rows that I’m going to sew together. I look at them along the line I am going to sew them together. I look at how many points they each have and place a priority on each intersection. Based on the priorities, I will put the row with the most priorities on top. For example, sometimes there are less points on one row, sometimes there are the same number. I look at how many of the points have just a single HST and how many have two. The more fabrics at each intersection, the bulkier it is going to be. I think about how I want to press my fabric to make each seam lay the nicest. My first preference would be to nestle my seams. That means to press the seams of one row to one side and the next row to the opposite side. For example, the top row would all have the seams pressed to the right, and the next row all to the left. That is the easiest. When the seams of each row come together, they nestle nicely and almost lock into place. It is the most simple for me to match up this way. Sometimes this just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes you have two HST blocks that come together at the same intersection in one row, for example. This is four fabrics that are going to compete at the intersection from just that one row. In this instance, I would opt to press that seam of that row, open on both rows.

I go about looking at all the intersections of all my rows and decide how to press them. Then I press based on what I’ve decided about my intersections and priorities. Don’t push your iron back and forth or you will get a mess under it. If you didn’t use starch before you started cutting your blocks, I would not use it now. Usually I am pressing my seams in alternating directions for each row for less bulky seams,  and pressing open large/bulky seams. I press my rows first with the right side facing up on the pressing board. I gently press the seam the direction I want it to go. Remember not to push the fabric because you don’t want to distort it.

I go back to my sewing machine and I determine how many points are in each row. I’m talking about where the rows are going to be sewn together now. I like to put the intersections that are going to need the most care, on top when sewing so that I can make sure they are being sewn the best way possible.

For these rows, I’ve determined there are 3 intersections on the top and bottom row. I’ve put a red 1, 2, and 3 in the picture to signify each intersection. Pretty simple as there were four squares making this row. Of these three intersections the set up for this block has both rows with the first intersection with one HST coming together on the left side of both HST. These HSTs will go in the same direction when they are stitched together. The second intersection both layers have two HST coming together at the intersection. The third intersection is a reverse of the first.  Based on my quick review of my priorities for seams, I’ve determined it doesn’t matter which of these goes on top as they are all the same. Had I had some solid squares for example, in one of the rows instead of HST, that would make me put that row on the bottom.

practically perfect points by Anjeanette lining up the rows

Now that you are this far, let’s start to sew these two perfectly paired rows together. Wait! Not so fast. There are a few things you want to remember as you sew. You can play around with this part until it works best for you, but as a general rule, I always sew about two threads to the right of the points. When you open up your two or more layers of fabric, you are adding a little bit of bulk to your seam. If you sew directly on the top of your points, they are going to get sucked into the depths of your seam. I like to lay out my rows to be sewn and make sure I can see the tips of the points. If I can’t, I will mark the point with something like a disappearing FriXion pen at the very tip so that I know where they are as I am sewing. Also, remember to watch your fabric feeding into the sewing machine. You want to make sure both layers of the fabric are aligned at the edge. If the bottom layer moves, you are going to have a wavy seam.

Practically perfect points by Anjeanette marking the point

To match your rows: Take a pin and run it through the very tip of the left point on the first seam intersection. Quickly flip the row over and look from the right side to make sure you did indeed get the tip of the point.

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With right sides of the rows together, run the pin through the very tip of the coordinating point from the other row, and push the pin all the way in. Just straight in.

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It is a place holder right now, just keeping your points together not keeping the rows securely together. Also, your fabric should be lining up at about the same place on the top. If it isn’t, you either made a cutting or a sewing error. At this point, they should be lining up pretty well i.e. > 1/8 of an inch or less difference here.

 

 

 

Take a pin and do the same thing on the the third intersection. Look on the other side or right side of the fabric to make sure the pin is at the tip of the point. pretty points by Anjeanette 4Now run the pin through the tip of the other row.

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If any of your intersection only have one side with a point and the other  coordinating seam with no points, I first run the pin through the tip of the top point and then just pin the seam intersection to match the seams , making sure the top of the fabric from both rows are level with each other. If your seams are pressed alternately, you can nestle them together tightly and just pin them together. If your seams were open, you are going to want to make sure the pin goes directly through both the seams.  I usually pin before the intersection and sometimes after depending. But always before.

 

 

Now take your left ends of the rows. Making sure the outside edges match up, pin both layers together. Since this is where you are going to start to sew, place the pin down about an inch instead of at the very end.

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On your right end of the rows, match the outside edges and pin both layers together at the end.

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I always match my intersections first then my ends. These are the important things that are going to make the block or quilt off. Between the intersections and ends you can ease in a tiny bit of variance by pulling the fabric taught as you sew.

Now that you have these parts pinned, you will want to secure the intersections. We only pushed a pin straight through and there is nothing really keeping it there. Making sure the pin is running straight in, I put a pin to both the right and left side of the intersection. As long as you weren’t moving your fabric around when you were putting the pins in, this should be good.

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This is how I pin to both sides of a pressed open seam.

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This is how I pin both sides of a point intersection of seams that are pressed alternately. I decided to pin on the left side along the HST line but you could run your pin straight if that works for you. Both ways though, I’m pinning fairly close to the intersection.

 

I don’t just shove a pin into the intersection points, fold it back and push it back out the bottom.  Instead push a pin straight through and then stabilize on both sided because when you put a pin into two layers of fabric, you kind of bend the fabric around the pin to get the pin to run in the top and out again at the bottom of the pin. This almost always screws up my points by moving the bottom layer of fabric out of line. Hopefully the pictures will help clarify what I’m talking about here.

You can choose to pin between the blocks too. As a general rule, if the size of the squares are more than say 4 or 5 inches wide, I would secure a pin in the middle. You could also just move from intersection to intersection and hold the fabric taught while you sew. The thing you want to watch is that both layers of he fabric on the right side, going into the machine, are matched up at the right side all the way to the next intersection.

That seems like a whole lotta words just to describe how to get your rows ready to sew. It only takes a minute at most to do all of this. And in my opinion, it makes all the difference in the world.

 

NOW we can start to sew. I always like to start each row by lifting the presser foot, placing the fabric down and then lowering the foot onto the fabric.

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I do this even if I am chain stitching instead of just feeding the next row right into the lowered foot. Sometimes feeding the fabric through a lowered foot will move one of the layers just enough that it makes the ends out of alignment. Just raise and lower your foot before starting to sew. As you sew, take the pins out just before you get to them. I prefer not to sew over them, but I sometimes do if I am sewing very slowly. With these thin pins that can bend them. So 99% of the time, I take my pins out just before they get to the presser foot.

As you are sewing the rows together also think about the way the seams coming under the presser foot are pressed. If they are pressed in alternating ways, I hold my fingers right on the seam and make sure I can feel both the seams nestled tightly as I proceed to sew the rows. I’m not pressing down enough to hold the fabric from moving. But I am using the seams being locked and guiding it together with my fingers. If you are joining two seams that have been pressed open, you can still feel if the seams are matching up. Also, you don’t want your bottom seam to flip in the opposite direction of the way you have pressed. Holding your fingers over the intersecting seams just helps ensure your seams stay pressed the correct way as you are sewing your rows together.

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As you get to a point or intersection, make sure to sew to the right of the point. This is where it is helpful to have a pen marking to make sure you know exactly where the tip is. Sew about two threads over to the right of the pen marking.

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As you are sewing the entire length of the seam, make sure the right side of the fabric is moving at the same point under the presser foot.

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If you sew a wavy line now, you are going to get a wavy seam. Oftentimes, you will end up with a bubble or nipple at your intersections. This is because when you got to the bulk of the intersection, you let the fabric drift away from your 1/4” mark too much to the left.

Take it slow. If you have issues with a bulky intersection, it may help to sew to the intersection from one direction and then turn the whole piece around and sew the rest from the other direction and through the intersection.

When you have stitched the whole row together, open it up and see what your intersections look like.

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Make sure your points are present (not cut off) and your intersections are matching up nicely. If they are not, do not press your seam. This is the part where you want to bring in your best friend the seam ripper out. I’m not kidding. If you only have one intersection or point that is off, you can just unstitch about 1/2” before and 1/2” after the intersection. If your whole row is off, take the whole row out and try it again. The good news is that if you have done all I have spelled out, you are usually only going to have one place where the alignment is off. Unstitch that one intersection enough that you can make any adjustment needed, pin it again the way I’ve described, taking note of how it was off before and making an adjustment to correct that, and sew that seam once again.

If your points and intersections are all nice and pretty, this is the part where you can shout your “Hallelujahs” and press the seam.

If I have stitched together a bunch of points and bulky intersections, I am going to press my seams open. This is a matter of preference. You are going to have people that swear by another way. This is what works for me. Remember that while you are pressing the seams open, you don’t want to make the rest of your seams all folded and wonky.  You want them to stay where they are so that they lay nicely while you quilt your quilt. This kind of reminds me of how I learned to cross stitch. My Mom always said the back should be as pretty and orderly as the front.

 

 

Since I learned to sew clothing first, I always set my seams by pressing them closed first.

I am going to press my seams open since they were kinda bulky.  I don’t want to burn my fingers and have found the wood piece that accompanied my Dresden plate template works well for pressing seams open. pretty points by Anjeanette 17It has a point that helps me open them up and then I use it in front of the iron in place of my fingers. Also, because it is wood it doesn’t melt and it doesn’t conduct the heat of the iron onto my fingers. When I am pressing my seams open, I use the front part of my iron down the length of the seam. Once I have gone down the length, then I use the whole iron to press it straight down. I will press the length of all my seams for the block then turn it over and give it one more press from the top. pretty points by Anjeanette 18

Sometimes when I am pressing heavy seams open or to the side, they don’t want to play nice. At that point I may use some starch to coerce them to do what I want. I would not use anything like this at this point if I did not use it before cutting my fabric though because of the sizing issues I’ve encountered in the past.  Sometimes I will press up to a bulky point, turn the block around and press from the other direction to the same bulky point to get the final press.

Now let’s admire your block. If you matched the ends of each row before you stitched them, you shouldn’t have any trimming aside from threads at this point. Make sure that your block is indeed the size it should be at this point. It is silly to combine blocks of different sizes at this point if you want your quilt to behave nicely. If they are off or different sizes now, they are going to make your quilt off. pretty points by Anjeanette 19

I absolutely believe that if you are careful to cut your initial squares or shapes, you sew carefully and you square up your blocks after each block is made, it makes putting the blocks together a breeze. You know they are going to match up nicely.

Let’s admire our points. Practically Perfect. I call this good enough.pretty points by Anjeanette 20

Practically Perfect! I’m happy with this.

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Score! Perfect!

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And all together the block is practically perfect. I call these pretty points.

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I put my blocks together into a quilt top the same way I’ve described for putting a single block together.

I hope this helps. Again, this is what works for me. Please feel free to tell me if you found something that works better for you. I’m always open to learning or trying something new. This did contain a lot of detail and tons of words. But it really is just keeping most of these things in your mind as you sew. The pinning takes seconds and it all adds up to a better end result. It isn’t hard and it doesn’t take long, and the pay off is practically perfect.

I’m participating in a Layer Cake Sampler Quilt Along, join in too!

My friend Amanda Castor of Material Girl Quilts is hosting a Layer Cake Sampler Quilt Along. Amanda is a great pattern designer who also owns an online fabric shop.  If you have ever looked at the Moda Bake Shop, I’m sure you have seen one of her designs.

Anyway, she is doing a quilt along for this fun sampler. In the past, I’ve stayed away from Samplers because I just can’t wrap my brain around them. I think that some are just spectacular, but I like a little more order in my world. One of my goals this year has been to push myself to do things I wouldn’t normally do. I find that almost always, I love the end result when I do just that. And this sampler is just too fun to pass up.

So when Amanda said she was doing a Quilt Along  of her lovely sampler, I decided it was something I HAD to do. It is two simple blocks a week and they are made from layer cakes. Can’t be more simple!

I am going to do a 4 by 4 layout. Amanda shares two different layouts on her blog. I did a mock up in EQ7 so I can color in to see what I want to do. I love doing this and seeing how color placement can change something.

Layer Cake Sampler to color in

Of course, you will have to refer to the images Amanda has done that show you which is a background and which is a patterned fabric in this.

 

color me happy layer cake sampler

Here was my original mock up with the layer cake I plan to use. I’m going to use V and Co Color me Happy line. I think I may just use the blues, greens and greys and fill in with some solids maybe? Still playing around with it in my mind a little. I need to take colored pencils to paper first to see how my idea would look as a 4 by 4 layout.

Please join in. Blocks 1 and 2 start today. It is just two a week. Oh and check out Material Girl Quilts blog for all the details. (I secretly want to make it in her layout 2 that she shared. Wouldn’t that rock with that dark blue for the background? Sigh.)

We hung the quilts for the Stitched DC Art Show

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Here in Maryland, we have had some pretty big snow storms lately. We actually ended up getting snowed in for a whole day. I mean completely snowed in. Of course this happened on the day we were supposed to set up for Stitched DC Show. On Friday a handful of us from DC Modern Quilt Guild, ventured out to hang the quilts. We had received some more snow and luckily school was cancelled for my kids. My husband was already off and we decided to take the boys into DC and do it together.

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I don’t live exactly close to DC, even though I am in the DC Modern Quilt Guild. It is just the closest Guild that I felt like I could belong in. So by the time my little family of four made it, there were several of my friends who had been there for a little bit already working on setting up.

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Jessie’s mini quilt was originally supposed to hang under the signage for the Anocostia Arts Center. But it just didn’t seem like a great place for it. Above Linda was holding it in its original position. They decided to hang Melinda’s Hexagon mini there instead. I think it worked well because some of the colors for the sign went with Melinda’s mini. Also, this meant Jessie’s got to hang next to my quilt.

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The Art Center is a really cool configuration. It is kind of two hallways that form a capital T. I guess it used to be an old Woolworth’s store. I Loved the old wood floors in part of it.

My husband hadn’t really met my guild yet, so I guess you could say it was his coming out party too. HA! He is very meticulous when it comes to measurements and things being level and correct. I am totally fine eyeballing something. When we hang anything at home, he will always pull out the level and make sure everything is perfectly in line. I thought this job was perfect for him. He got to evenly space the quilts and decide exactly where they would hang. I kept teasing him and saying that his quilts weren’t hanging straight. It was nice having him there to help. I’m sure he was much more productive than I was. I’m nursing a killer headache lately. My hubby and Frederick did an amazing job working together. 

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The Gallery director and assistant had printed out pictures of each quilt and taped it to the wall where it was supposed to go. Above is one space with just two quilts hung and below are Linda and her husband hanging the other four.

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The Arts Center recently opened NURISH. Taken from their site “This is the second restaurant for entrepreneur Kera Carpenter (owner/operator of Domku in Petworth). With an anticipated opening of January 2014, Nurish will offer a full expresso bar, breakfast, lunch, supper, and beer and wine.”

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My quilt was hanging to the side of the entrance to Nurish. Jessie’s mini ended up being hung on the right side of this door, but I didn’t get a picture of it.

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It was nice to be able to support our show and help hang the quilts. I had family plans on opening night and wasn’t going to be able to attend. I was happy that I got to be part of it in another way then.  There are more pictures on our guild’s flickr stream. I really adore my quilt guild. I am so glad I found them when I did. I really need that kind of creative sharing in my life.

My Botanics Star Quilt

Botanics Star Quilt front

 

DC Modern Quilt Guild is having an exhibit at the Anacostia Arts Center named Stitched. One of our members, Frederick, managed to arrange it all for us. Of course, the board of the guild has also put in a lot of time too.  Our quilts are going to be on display for a good month starting February 15th. We have the option to put a price on our quilts if someone wants to purchase it.

Anyway, we knew about this a while ago. When I first heard about it, I was already planning to make a wall hanging with Carolyn Friedlander Botanics line.  The orange speaks to me and the textures are just delicious.  After I missed out on the Architextures line, I was determined to snatch up some of the Botanics line. I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and make a wall hanging and submit it to the gallery too. If my quilt does not sell, I will be delighted to hang it up on my wall. If it does sell, well then I’ll just have to buy myself some more fabric. Win/win!

Star detail

Since I knew it could be in an art show, I decided to do something geometric. I wanted some depth to the stars so I went with coordinating colors for each star. I planned out the background fabrics carefully too. I know that the first impression may be that it is just scrappy and random, but it took me a few days and some rearranging to get everything exactly where I wanted it to go. I wanted a little added dimension to the whole thing so I played with the free motion quilting as well as added in two extra star points to the top before I put the binding on.

star points

I love a good overall meander when free motion quilting. It just feels so good to move the fabric around under my needle. I wanted there to be movement around the strong lines of stars. The background I started with a circle around one of the stars. From there I did a combination of stippling and pebble quilting.  It took me several times at the machine to get all the background quilted. I am delighted with how it came out.

Botanics Star Quilt back

I put this up on my wall to get a picture to submit it to the art center. I am so tickled with how it came out. It makes me happy just to look at it.

Botanics Star Quilt back close up

Instagram is crazy awesome because, it puts you in touch with people that you may not otherwise get to communicate with. Carolyn Friedlander has left a few comments on my pictures of this quilt. Who doesn’t love that?

Instagram comment

 

One of the ladies from the art center emailed me to ask me if it would be ok to use an image of my quilt on the flier for the show. Uhm, yes! Of course!

I love this quilt so much. I can’t wait to see it in the gallery. Wouldn’t it be a treat if it did sell?

Getting ready for Christmas Cards

I don’t know about you, but I love pictures in my Christmas cards. I love to see pictures that include my friends and not just their kids. I want to see how my cousin really looks and not just their kids. I want to see my siblings with their kids, and not just their kids. 20131215_999_29

So each year, I get the crazy idea in my head that it is a good idea to take family pictures.

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Nothing fancy of course, because we just don’t plan it out well enough. I just want a casual “we are all together and dressed up” kind of picture.

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This year, we added a sweet Goldendoodle puppy to the family. He was born at the end of August and already is a beast! His name, Bear, fits him to a T. He is like a giant teddy bear.

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So this last weekend, I rallied the troops. We thought wrangling them on the stairs would help hold the puppy in too.

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I had my sweet hubby snap a few pictures of me too. I needed to update all my pictures on my social media. My other picture was almost two years old.

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I think he did a great job. I had great plans to have my hair colored and cut before pictures. Life happens and I’m real. Let’s just pretend the grey streaks are actually highlights, K?

pictures for cards

I think this one is actually my favorite picture. It makes me really happy. I love how it isn’t technically great, but it is so us.

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We opted for this one. And I like it too.

Now I’m sewing my fingers off trying to catch up on all my Christmas sewing!

How about you? Do you love picture cards? Do you include yourself in the pictures? I sure hope you do.

How to make a kite template for the Maple Leaf

I’ve had some confusion about the kite template for the Maple Leaf point on Moda Bake Shop tutorial.

There is a picture of the template which essentially is a line drawing of the template. It is towards the bottom of the post, right where the part about making the point is. You can right click on the image and save as on your computer. I have it here too. When you are printing it out, make sure you are not changing the scaling of the image or it won’t come out the right size. There is a 1″ block you can check for accuracy.

Super Sized Maple Leaf Throw byAnjeanette kite template

If you are still having problems with it, you can make your own template.

Start with a 4 ½” square.

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Measure inside the square ¼” on the left side and the bottom side.

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On the ¼” line make these measurements:

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On the left side measure 2 ¼” and place a dot

On the bottom measure 2 ¼” and place a dot

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From the top and right corner, measure in ¼”.

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Connect the dots from the top right corner and left side dot. Draw a line.

Connect the dots from the top right corner and bottom dot. Draw a line.

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This drawn line is essentially where you want your seam to end up. Now we need to draw the cutting line. From the two lines you have drawn connecting the dots, measure over ¼” and draw a parallel line.

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Cut on these last lines you have drawn. This is your kite template.

I really hope this helps. I adore this pattern and would love for it to be useful for you. I would also love to see if you make one of the oversized maple leaf throws yourself. Please do share!!

 

Take care,

Anjeanette

Schnitzel and Boo Mini Swap

I had so much fun making my mini for the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Swap.

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If you follow me on Instagram you saw my progress. I do so love Instagram so much more than anything else right now.

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I have wanted to try a double wedding ring pattern for a long time now. But I wanted to do stars at the intersections. I thought a mini was a great time to try the idea out.

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My partner mentioned in one of her question and answer things, that she liked wonky. I decided to try wonky star points for it.  I am not a wonky star person, so I think it was fun to force myself to step outside of myself.

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I thought this was the perfect opportunity to use some of the fabric scraps from Riley Blake Stars and Stripes fabric. So glad I thought ahead and saved a few of those puppies;)

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Speaking of puppies, we got one! We are now the proud owners of a 14ish week old Golden Doodle! He is keeping us very busy!

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Precision sewing with small pieces.

I recently taught a class on my Fall Leaf Table Runner at a local quilt shop. It was super rewarding teaching a class. I sure just wish the LQS wasn’t so blasted far away.

           table runnerCharm_Leaf_from capital quilts class list

As I was preparing for my class, I made a list of my favorite tips for precise sewing, specifically with small pieces. That little leaf has some teeny pieces! When you are sewing with lots of small pieces, accuracy is very important. Being the slightest bit off, over and over, can really throw off your entire block. Some of these tips you may know already, some you may not.

Sit directly in front of your machine, specifically the needle. You can line things up more precisely if you are sitting square on.

Use a 1/4 inch foot if you have one.

Use needle down if you have it.

You can stick a piece of washi or masking/low tack tape straight from your needle towards you on your machine. As you sew, you can line up your fabric with the line to keep it straight.

Use small scrap of folded fabric as a leader and ender when you sew. Start sewing onto the scrap before you sew on your project fabric can help keep threads from getting sucked down into your machine. And finish again on the scrap.

When you are sewing small pieces, make sure you are holding the fabric the entire time it passes all the way through the presser foot. Use something like a stiletto, or a dull chopstick etc, or even your finger to hold the very last bit of the fabric you are sewing. If you let go before the entire piece goes through the presser foot, your fabric can move and the end your seam will be off.

If you are chain piecing, I suggest you lift your presser foot before you put any new piece of fabric under the foot, drop the food and then begin sewing. Chain piecing by letting the fabric be pulled under your presser foot can make the top piece of your fabric shift as it goes through the machine.

With small pieces, if you are sewing an angle, and you lead with the smallest part of the angle, your machine may want to suck the piece into it and eat up the end. Leaders can help with this. But also, try starting with your least pointy/ biggest end first. It may seem a little awkward, but having a larger surface going into the foot can help from getting it eaten up.

If you use starch, starch your fabric first. Starching after you have cut, can shrink the fabric and make your measurements off.

Take care when pressing. If you push or use steam, you can really distort a small piece.

Set your seam first. Press the stitch line before you open it up. Then open up your seam carefully and press along the seam first. Set the iron flat on your piece to press. Don’t push the iron back and forth.

My favorite way to make sure you have all your points still intact, for example for this leaf shape, is to place your fabric with the points on top. Before you send your fabric through the machine, make sure you know where the points are. If you can’t see them, say the seam is pressed over them, use a pin or make a mark with a disappearing pen to mark the points. As you are sewing, make sure that you are stitching to the right of the points you have marked, by at least one or two threads. No more clipped points!

My girlfriend Linda took my class with another friend of hers. I love seeing the different ways they were able to customize their runners to their own likes.  Linda’s is on the bottom. She used the same fabric to bind the runner, which made the background blend in with the binding. I think sometimes matching your binding can make your project look bigger. Linda’s friend, framed her runner with her darker binding. Both are wonderfully lovely!

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Linda mentioned a few tips that I didn’t share here because I think they need a post of their own.

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Look at her perfectly intact points on her leaf!

What are your favorite tips for precision sewing small pieces?

Playing with Fashion Fuse

So the mighty people at Pellon sent me a package to play with. They wanted us to play with Fashion Fuse and see what we could come up with. I received some gold Pleather and some white fur. I confess that I’ve never ever stitched with pleather before. I’ve also never had anything this gold. But I jumped in.

22 finished clutch

The fun of Fashion Fuse is that there are materials like leather, pleather and faux fur that you could not use a regular fusable interfacing for because of the temperatures you would have to set your iron to. These fabrics need a lower set iron to keep their “hand” or the softness of the material.

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I was fun to try something that I would never have tried otherwise. I never would have tried gold or pleather. I ditched the faux fur because it made me itch just being near it.

I thought that the gold was enough on it’s own so I went for a simple clutch. I think it is adorable. You should pop on over to the Pellon Projects Blog  to check it out.

Now I can officially say that I have a gold pleather clutch. I think I may use it for my sewing supplies.

What are you working on lately?