Thursday, April 26, 2018

A New Banner

I'm exhibiting to the quilt industry trade show next month, and about a week ago, I started thinking about my little half booth display. 

My main focus while at the show will be to introduce Your Nest™ Organizers to local quilt shops in a very big way. (Send your local shop owner to see me!)

This might be a little confusing, because I know you know me as the owner of Hummingbird Highway, but when Your Nest™ Organizers came along, I was advised to set up a new, separate company - specifically Pudgie Parrot LLC.

Pudgie Parrot (the name sorta inspired by my blue-fronted amazon parrot who likes eating cookies and ice cream from time to time) has its own website, and its own logo - a really adorable one designed by my good friend and amazing website guru Holly Knott

For my display, I decided to make a quilted banner. I already have a banner for Hummingbird Highway, so it only made sense to create one for Pudgie. And it's going to be all applique. 

First I need to improvise a pattern. I took a copy of the logo that prints out about 4x8" and blew it up four times, reversed it, then printed it onto about 10 pieces of paper.

With a small investment in tape, I joined all the pieces of paper together, then pinned the pattern to the right side of a single piece of fabric--about 2/3 yard of big white-on-white polky dots.

Then I grabbed a light box and a pencil and traced all the shapes. 

If you've been following me for any amount of time, then you know I'm a big fan of a hand applique technique known as back-basting applique or template-free applique. To do this, you trace the design on the back of your base fabric in reverse.

Then pin-baste oversized shapes of colorful fabric on the right side of the piece, starting with bottom layers first. Then baste with a super-close running stitch from the back of the work right on the drawn lines. This makes for REALLY accurate applique shapes!

For the basting I don't have knots at the beginning or end of the thread, and I use a larger needle (size 7 sharps) and quilting thread (I prefer YLI Quilting thread) in a weird color so I can see the threads (see the yellow stitching (below) around the shapes?) the green stitches around the 'bib' area are securing the applique shape. You can see the yellow basting thread around the yellow beak and the green belly particularly at the very bottom of the photo.

After I baste around the shape, I like to let the project 'rest' for a few hours, usually until my next sewing session the next evening in front of the TV. Or in the summer on the front porch. The photo below is the same step as the one above, but from the right side. Notice that the fabric shapes have been trimmed about 1/8" away from the basting.

Once the basting threads have rested, the thicker thread leaves a line of holes in the cloth - both the background cloth and the applique shape. Working from the front with a smaller needle (size 10 sharp) and fine thread (I prefer 60 wt cotton) that matches the applique shape color, I then remove the basting stitches a little at a time (about 1/2" ahead of where I'm sewing), then turn the applique edge under along that line of holes.

I secure the folded edge of the applique shape to the background with itty bitty applique stitches. The fabric tends to turn under nicely following the line of holes where the basting thread was, like ripping a check out of your checkbook at the perforation line.

Some areas are a little more challenging than others. All those little feather ruffles set into the wing were a bit of a job. The seam fabric needed to be crunched under all those tiny points and secured with not much room to spare!

This is where I am right now (below). The green part of the head, the branch and several of the letters are based, rested, and ready to turn under and secure. Once sewn, the branch will get some highlighted patches of lighter brown, and some bird toes, plus we've still got a few missing letters. . .

What's Pudgie Art? I didn't baste all the letters onto the fabric because there isn't enough space in between the letters to accommodate the seam allowances from neighboring letters. So I basted alternating letters, then secured those shapes, then basted the remaining letters. I ran out of gas on the parrot part. . .

Obviously, I'm not quite done yet with the applique. Once I do get that done I have to make the how-will-I-quilt-this decision. Hand? Machine? Some combination?

More to come!

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mmm, Chocolate!

Dave and I had a little get-together with friends last evening. Pizza, beer, and a little something sweet. I brought the little something sweet. And as long as I was making this yummy, quick-to-make treat, I thought I'd share the recipe. It's called Chocolate Covered Cherries Cake.

I got this recipe years ago from the local quilt shop owner. I'm usually not a fan of using cake mixes, but sometimes, a cake mix is just the ticket for a fast, easy, no-frills, tasty dessert!

This recipe calls for only four ingredients for the cake: devils food cake mix, cherry pie filling, almond flavoring, and a couple eggs.

Mix everything up  . . .

 . . . and place it in the pan. Ready for the oven . . .

In the oven (350˚) for 30-35minutes.

Out it comes!

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. A few more ingredients: butter, sugar, milk, and chocolate chips.

Mix and boil it all together in a saucepan . . .

Then pour the warm glaze over the warm cake.

As everything cools, the glaze firms up, but the cake stays really moist and cherry- chocolatey.

Did I mention that the house smells amazing while everything is baking?

I confess. I cheated. Fortunately, my friends 'get me,' I *had* to cut a slice yesterday before the party, so I could take a picture - for you! Business first, right?, then fun!

You might be asking, what did I do with that slice of cake - put it back in the pan for the party? Silly question. Somebody had to sample it to make sure it was okay to eat, right?

(It was okay! *wink!*)

Want the recipe? CLICK HERE . . . This would be great for the guild break table! Click on the button to nab the instructions!


Happy Stitching

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pear Bound!

It has been a while since I've talked about binding, and 'binding' is one of those things that, I think, you just can't get enough of. Everyone has their own technique and tools they like. There are lots of good tutorials online, but I just thought I'd share, one more time, my take on putting the binding on a quilt. Or, in this case, a table runner.

The table runner in question is made from the pear blocks from Farm Girl Vintage by Lori Holt (aff link). It's a cute book, and I started the project a year or two ago as part of a monthly group meeting at the LQS.  I wrote about dragging it out of the UFO stack to finish it up here.

I arranged the rectangular half blocks in two rows. With a strip of white-on-white print between, and a white border around the outside. This isn't an actual pattern, I just made it up as I went.

And yes, I realize that the pears aren't all lined up up-side-down-side in an evenly alternating sequence. That was on purpose, to give the runner a more casual, fun feeling.

Once upon a time when this project was started, I was determined to use up some scraps, and pulled a bunch of green, greenish blue and yellow chunks of fabric for the top. With a few left, I patchworked leftover bits for the backing.

I had enough leftover pears for two place mats. To add interest and make the place mats rectangular, I improvised two borders for each mat using the exact same technique I used for the sashing on 99 Bottles in Scraps Plus One.

Layered and quilted. The quilting was done entirely with my walking foot.

I started with a line drawn at a random angle across the middle of the quilt with an air-erasable pen (the ink disappears after a couple days on the quilt). Then using the width of the walking foot between stitching lines, I filled in the quilting. I changed directions a couple times to create interest and texture.

Quilting done, time to bind. I trim the backing and batting even with the edge of the quilt top. Others like to trim after the binding is applied. It's a personal preference.

With the quilt flat, I secure the binding to the top of the quilt, aligning raw edges of the 2-1/4" binding, folded in half lengthwise, and secured with pins or clips at 2-3" intervls before I start sewing. I spent a lot of effort to make sure the quilt was flat through the piecing and quilting process, why ruin it now with a binding that is applied too loose or to tight risking quilt-wonkiness? (yep, that's a made-up word, but you get the idea - don't rush the end game!)

I leave myself a good 12" or so unsewn then clip (or pin) the binding in place. I use my dual feed quarter inch foot on my BERNINA to apply the binding, if you don't have a dual feed option, I'd switch back to a walking foot because of all the layers to sew through. (It's another end-game precaution).

As I approach the end of the first (and each side) I stop sewing about 1/4" from the (imaginary/estimated) quilt edge - the red dashed line in the photo - with needle submerged in the quilt, then pivot 45 degrees, and sew the last few stitches off the edge. This will keep the layers from getting puffy and out of shape with wear.

I break the thread and remove the project from the sewing machine to the work table. I fold the binding to the right, so the fold creates a 45 degree angle between the binding fold and the bottom edge of the quilt, and the binding raw edge forms a straight line to the right of the corner.

Then fold the binding back on top of itself. This is a 90 degree mitered corner. 

I start sewing right at the very top edge, at the binding fold.

Then I go through the process all over again. Clip or pin the binding in place (keeping everything flat and happy), then sew 1/4" from the raw edge with the dual feed (or walking) foot, and miter at the next corner.

Continuous Binding Closure. These next few steps are where everyone has lots of variations and preference. This is my preference.

I stop sewing to leave myself about 12" of unsewn binding on the last side. Then I make the two binding ends (the beginning and the end) meet, and I fold the binding back so the folds just *kiss*.

I measure half the binding width (in this case I started with 2-1/4" wide strips so half that width is 1-1/8") and make a mark on each side of the kissing folds. In this case I'm using my air erasable marker again, although it doesn't matter as this mark will be hidden once the binding is complete.

This step is important, otherwise the quilt will pull and drag. Pull up and temporarily accordion fold the quilt at the future location of the binding connection to give yourself plenty of slack to work on the binding. Secure the quilt folds with a clip or a sturdy pin.

Pull the binding ends away and to the right of the rest of the quilt, open the binding folds, place the strips right sides together, and align the marks with the outer edges of the binding fabric as shown below.

Then draw a line parallel to the quilt edge and diagonally on the wrong side of the top binding fabric. Secure with pins. Notice the red dashed lines in the photo below - one at the quilt edge and one where the purple pen marking is, and they're kinda parallel. The lighter mauve line is not what you want.

Then trim the binding fabric 1/4" away from the seam  . . .

 . . . and press the seam open. Then remove the clip holding the runner out of the way. The binding should be perfectly flat with the runner and it's ready to sew to the quilt edge

I'll nab a little time in front of the TV to sew the fold to the back of the quilt by hand. At the corners I'll reverse the miter bulk so they lie flat.

If you want a complete review of this process along with my take on a bunch of quilty techniques, grab a copy of Cut the Scraps!, Scraps Plus One!, The Versatile Nine Patch, or When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters.

I do love the feeling of a finished project. Once the binding is done, the only thing left is a label. How about you? Is this how you do your bindings?

Happy Stitching!