Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Poinsettia Mug Rug Tutorial - Raw Edge Applique

Anybody who has read this blog during the last couple of weeks will notice that I am obsessed with poinsettias this Christmas season. During the Christmas demonstration at the Eastern branch of the Irish Patchwork Society I showed some ladies how to make these poinsettia mug rugs and the participants seemed to enjoy them, so I thought I might share the process here as well. It's not a pattern as such, rather an idea for an easy last-minute gift or decorative element.

For the mug rugs in the tutorial photos I used raw edge appliqué to use up some of the scraps from my large poinsettia quilt, you may notice that some fraying develops around the edges, but I don't mind that. In my demonstration and in the Christmas wreath mini quilt I used fabrics prepared with the crafted appliqué technique, which yields a clean edge with no fraying - you can choose what suits you.

You'll need:

  • quilt sandwich (backing fabric + batting + background fabric) about 6.5'' squared (or any other size to your liking, but make sure to leave some margin for trimming)
  • green and red scraps
  • glue stick or pins if you're making it raw edge
  • matching thread
  • a piece of binding about 32'' long
I prefer to make this kind of appliqué freehand, without templates, and poinsettias are great for that, because they are not particularly symmetrical and their leaves have very simple shapes. When you are eyeballing a leaf shape, you give it unique character and are free to play with size, shape and positioning, however you can download this cheatsheet to use as your guide.

So, prepare your quilt sandwich and pin the corners to keep everything together. Start cutting your green leaves, you'll need from four to six of them. I made the green leaves serrated, but you can keep them smooth for ease of sewing. You can use just one fabric, but several different greens will enhance the look. Position the green leaves in such way that the center remains empty to avoid building up too many layers in the center.

When you're happy with the layout, dab a little glue from a school glue stick on the back of the leaves and iron them in place, or just pin with a couple of pins (if you're using crafted appliqué, just iron your leaves in place). Stitch them down close to the edge either with your free motion foot to with a normal foot - at this size the quilt sandwich is easy to rotate under the needle. I like using a dark thread, as the contour gives the appliqué more definition. You can also stitch the central vein if you want and even a couple of secondary ones.

Now cut out the first layer of red leaves, again about 5 of them. Choose the darker shades of red for these and lay them out so that they meet in the center.

Glue them and stitch them down using a dark red thread.

Now the last layer - again, 4-6 red leaves, but lighter and smaller than the previous layer. Make sure they cover the center and any remaining gaps.

Stitch them down.

You can also add some buds in the center with pieces of light green or use beads for that. If you feel the background is a little wavy, you can add some quilting there - either some free motion loops or stipples or echo-quilting with a normal foot.

The appliqué is ready, time to trim and bind the mug rug. Here it it with its friend.

And here are some that were made by the participants of the demonstration, they are just glued, not yet stitched. You can see how they all have different characters; also notice how the reds and greens interact with different background colors.

You can also add loops for hanging an use them as elements of decor.

I do hope you find this little tutorial helpful, this is really a quick and fun technique which works well with any flowers or other natural shapes. If you make something using this tutorial please share a link in the comments.

I'm linking this up to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday - check it out, there is always something new to learn.
Also linking up to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Christmas Wreath - Crafted Appliqué Style

Just wanted to share my entry to this year's Christmas challenge at the Eastern branch of Irish Patchwork Society.

I made it in express mode, in the last couple of days before the meeting, so no process pics. The background is a kind of ombre-effect log cabin, the image itself - free-hand, little-planned appliqué made using the Crafted appliqué method. I also used some beads for holly and mistletoe berries and poinsettia buds. The size is about 20''.

Here are some other beautiful entries from the challenge:

I was thrilled that my piece took the second place and brought me a beautiful fabric prize!

During the afternoon after the meeting there were some Christmas demonstrations, and I showed some ladies how to make poinsettia appliqué, and I think I'll also make a small tutorial for that here on the blog, too.

Linking up to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
Crafted Applique Linky Party at Buzzing Bumble

Friday, 25 November 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like ...

Dear Santa, I've been really good this year - I finished my Christmas quilt a month (a whole month!!!) ahead of Christmas. I think I deserve a present.

This is my Poinsettia wall hanging, 85 by 107 cm, all machine-pieced and machine-quilted. I used one of my favourite techniques, curve piecing, which I showed in this butterfly tutorial. Again, I designed the pattern with gentle, easy-to-sew curves, so the assembly was quite fast and smooth. The most complicated part was choosing the fabrics for each piece, I think there are 17 different red fabrics and 8 green ones here (not to mention three black ones :))).

I quilted the poinsettia with very simple curves that parallel the edges of various pieces and resemble the leaf veins, and the background with simple spirals.

The low winter sun means it's getting difficult to take pictures of a quilt without it being overshadowed by a tall tree or the neighboring house. Besides, the wind doesn't let it hang straight. However, I think I managed to get one beauty picture of it:

I got fascinated with poinsettias this year, and I have a couple of small projects with them in progress as well, which I hope to be able to share next week.

linking up to Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Natural History

It could have been a Friday (or even Thursday) Finish, but I couldn't catch the light to take pictures. Even today is mostly overcast, but still - here it is, the Natural History quilt.

If you're new here and like looking at WIP photos, you can see its beginnings here and here, and even here for the humble beginnings.

The quilt is made with quilt-as-you-go technique and it was fun to play with the different sashings and the scrappy binding. I love how all of the fabrics I used, have some texture of their own, which makes them blend with some backgrounds and stand in contrast to others. It makes it ever so natural ))). Here are some close ups:

Here is a prove of how the colors blend in with the world outside)))

I hope I'll be able to take some better photos of it in the not-too-distant future.

UPD: We did manage to catch some glimpses of sun on our walk in Howth (again, see how colors in the quilt are the same ones as around it):

Linking up to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Fab Tuesday at Quilt Story
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Thursday, 3 November 2016

#BraveQuilter October Wrap Up

The school break doesn't help sewing progress as we are trying to go out and about every day, still I think I met my October challenge of trying the quilt-as-you-go technique of putting blocks together. This is my progress to date:

I've put some of the blocks together to form larger blocks, but I'm still thinking whether I want to add something between those or just to trim them and connect as they are.

I found a lot of tutorials on the technique, many of them variations on the same basic process. This is the one I used a basis with a minor adjustment - I make the back sashing strips 1 1/8'' wide and stitch them down by machine. It's not as accurate on the back as hand-stitching (and this is why I don't usually stitch my bindings down by machine), but I just wanted it to go quicker.

I must say the block connection process was simpler than I had anticipated and technically goes very fast. It's all the design decisions like choosing the sashing for each piece and trimming down the blocks, which are all odd in size, that keep me back. I'm enjoying the work on this piece as it seems so unusual for me and I'm amazed how people comment on the color scheme in it, although it's very subdued and very natural - just the kind of colors you're most likely to see outside, especially this time of year.

A huge thank you is due to Julie at Pink Doxies, who has been hosting the #BraveQuilter challenge for a long time and has inspired me (and many others) to try out new things, share the experience and take pride in being a Brave Quilter!

Linking up to October #BraveQuilter Wrap Up Linky Party at Pink Doxies
Fabric, Thread and Yarn at France Nadeau
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Tips and Tutorials Tuesday - Nordic Christmas Mug Rug

With Nordic style Christmas decor being all the rage in stores again this year, I'm making some of my own using the "pixelated" or "watercolor" technique.

Here is a little tutorial on a Nordic Christmas mug rug, but the technique can be used for larger things, such as table runners or wall quilts. You only have to find a fair isle knitting chart or cross stitch embroidery chart with an image you like or make your own on a sheet of square graphed paper. I find that the minimum size for more or less interesting patterns is 7 by 7 squares, so my mug rug is 7.5'' squared. Here are some charts you can use.

You'll need:
  • 1.5'' squares of red and white fabrics - 49 in all, exact number of each color depends on your chosen pattern (mine required 21 red and 28 white)
  • 10.5'' squared piece of adhesive interfacing with grid (more on that below)
  • 7.5'' squared pieces of batting and backing
  • binding
Here we go:

Friday, 28 October 2016

Fossil Quilt - October OMG

This is still a work in progress, but I thought I might share some pictures of the previous stage as it represents my minimum goal for October - making the blocks for my fossil quilt.

This is the final (hopefully) layout and I have already started putting them together using the quilt-as-you-go method. Sorry for picture quality - I couldn't take it all off my design wall and the light in the room is not good enough.

I had a lot of fun quilting the blocks. Some are based on photos of real fossils (with a lot of artistic license), others are pure art)))

I also made three "geological strata" blocks which work nicely bringing together the colors on the FMQ blocks.

I also included a pieced butterfly block, just because I'm obsessed with pieced butterflies)) Anyway, it ties in somewhat with the "natural history" theme.

I think I might still finish it in the remaining October days, or in early November, anyway)). My work got interrupted by piecing Forest Friends blocks and also making Halloween costumes for the girls.

I didn't actually make the witch dress from scratch, instead I bought a nice "occasion" dress and covered the skirt and collar with the Halloween fabric - raw edges, no fuss ))) Will do for the holiday, and then she'll still have the nice dress to wear for Christmas or New Year parties.

The Witch and her Kitten went to school like this on Thursday, because next week is their mid-term break.

Happy Halloween!

Linking up to:
October OMG at Red Letter Quilts
Free motion Mavericks at Lizzy Lenard Vintage Sewing
Fabric, Thread and Yarn at France Nadeau
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

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