Sunday, December 14, 2014

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Putting it All Together

I admit I've been bad.  I haven't posted in weeks. After putting some of the rows together for this quilt and fighting a lot with it, I've taken a break from my quilt and yesterday I took my machine in for an cleaning.  So let me tell you how I started putting these blocks together.

First, I started with my sashing.  All the sashing does is hide the seams from sewing the blocks together. When I was picking my fabric, I admit I just didn't care what my sashing looked like at this point, so its the same fabric as the backing.  To make the sashing, I used 1.5" strips x width of fabric and folded each side in towards the middle about 1/4" towards the middle and ironed. The ends are not quite to the center which is fine.

I still don't have all the inner/outer border blocks done yet but I did start putting some of the rows together.  I used an all cotton thread to sew the blocks together.  Just line up what designs you can (assuming there are any) and pin. Usually, you can locate the block outline from where you attached your backing fabric but if I just sewed on that line, my patterns didn't always match.  I did have some trouble with the blocks moving so I started pinning the top and bottoms to stabilize any shifting.  I also eventually switched to my duel-feed foot which worked out much better but more on that later.

After getting one row sewn together, I ironed the seam open and trimmed it a little if I needed to. Then I took a piece of the sashing and glued it down.  Then I switched my thread to a monopoly.  It looks a bit like clear fishing line. I used Superior Mono Poly (very fine) in the top thread and pre-wound bobbins of the same in the bobbin.  This is because the bobbin thread is going to be on the front side of you quilt and believe me, you don't want to see it and mess up all that pretty embroidery.

So far I haven't had any trouble with this thread.  I was told that if I was going to wind my own bobbins to make sure you wind it SLOWLY to not stretch the thread as it winds. I decided at this point, I'm just too lazy to mess with it and paid the $10 to get the pre-wound bobbins. 

So after loading my machine with the MonoPoly thread, I used a blanket stitch to sew the sashing down. Now, your row is finished and can be sewn to another row.

Here's where I'm having trouble. These rows are really, really stiff.  I mean board like stiff. I admit. I had to sew, rip out, sew, rip out a lot more than I like to get a row together before I changed to my duel-feed foot. This is also called a walking foot. Do not attempt to sew these together with a regular foot. If that's all you have then hopefully your sewing skills are better then mine. I had a lot of trouble before I switch to the duel feed food. Mine looks like a conveyor belt type thing.  This foot helps feed your material from the top, while the feed dogs move your fabric from the bottom. This "sandwiching" helps keep everything moving together. 

When sewing two rows together, don't bother pinning the entire row.  I pinned 2 blocks together at the seams and at the design in 14" lengths or the length of 2 blocks in my case.  Don't do any more than small segments. After you've sewn that, open it up and see if your seams and design matches.  If not, then you don't have as much to rip out. If it's okay, then pin your next 14"segment and so on until your row is attached. 

I tried to baste at the seams and that didn't work out at all but that's not to say it wouldn't work out for someone else.  My sewing skills are not the best but that was a suggestion we got in class so I tried it. But I like my current method. The only thing I do now (that I've had more practice) is I trim all the seams after putting the blocks together before I attach the sashing. That get's rid of a lot of the bulk and the sashing lays flatter. 

Once I got a row together, I labeled it just to make sure I don't get confused which row is which. And finally, I've attached a picture of the center medallion part laid out in blocks on my bed, which doesn't really fit but you'll get the idea of how its coming along. 

So after I get my machine back, I'm going to finish the remaining blocks and get this quilt sewn together over the winter.  I'm thinking my next project will be the "Affairs of the Heart" quilt. I've got the pattern and lots of batik scraps. And I'm thinking I can get my machine to do some of the applique and give the quilt a little different look than all needle turn or fusing everything down. And I've also decided instead of a black background I'll make mine white although, the black is tempting. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Block A6

Well, we finally got all of our blocks for the quilt to finish up.  This was my first block of the month and I'm fairly sure its my last.  This was just too slow for me.  I know they want to you to come back to the quilt shop each month to try to get you to buy more stuff but face it, we're going to buy what we need where we want to.  If I need something and I want it now or I know the shop has it, I'll go get it if not then I might look online for my item.  All I know is, I don't like getting my patterns a few at a time.  I could've been much farther along in this quilt if I had had my patterns. So block of the month style just doesn't work for me.

So let's talk about this Block A6H5.  This block was fairly easy to do. I guess they are all now. Practice makes perfect, but there are a lot of thread changes which is fairly consistent with the applique border blocks. And since there are a lot of changes I decided not to do a video.

First step is to stitch the outline of the block. Next, place fabric 4 over the outline and tack down and trim closely on the inside of the block. Then using thread B, stitch the decorative stitching.

Next, stitch down fabrics 3 and 1 and trim closely within the block. Use thread B and stitch the decorative stitching. Change to thread A and stitch the decorative stitching.

Using your water soluble thread, place fabric 4 and tack down and trim. Switch to thread B and stitch the decorative stitching. Next, switch to thread D and stitch the satin stitch. Change to thread A and stitch the decorative stitching.

Switch to water soluble thread and stitch the outline of the large flower. Place fabric 3 over the area and stitch down and trim closely. Change the needle thread to D and stitch the decorative stitching. Then change to A then B.

After stitching your flower, place the backing fabric on the back of your hoop and tack down. From here on out, put matching thread in the bobbin area. Place thread B in the needle and bobbin and stitch. Next, change to thread D and stitch then thread A and finally thread C.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I know you've probably seen or heard of these bowls. In case you haven't, these are sewn bowls that you can microwave but they won't get hot.  You know when you microwave a bowl of oatmeal or a mug of tea and you reach in to get your stuff out and burn your fingers? Well, if you put the bowl or mug in a "microwave-a-bowl" first you won't get burned.

So I decided to make some. They're really easy to make. I know a couple ladies make them for craft shows each fall and they practically walk out the door.  First of all, here's what you'll need to make these:


Microwaveable 100% Cotton Batting (Pellon or Warm & Natural)
100% Cotton Fabric
100% Cotton Thread

Notice how there is nothing on the list like polyester.  That's because we don't want anything to catch fire. Hot tea, good. Fire, bad. You get the idea.  You can get all of these materials at any craft store.

So let's get started.  You can make these any size you want but here's the basics.  Cut 2, 10" squares from your cotton fabric and batting. I used the Pellon microwaveable batting and I found it a little stretchy so don't worry if it doesn't line up exactly with your cotton square.

Next, layer your cotton fabric on top of your batting and sew from corner to corner making a large X across your fabric. Do this to both squares.

Next, make your darts.  Darts will draw the fabric from a square shape into a more round shape. To sew the darts. Fold your square in half on the vertical, lay it down on a hard surface. Keeping the fold side to the right, measure 1" to the left and mark and 2" down and mark.  You can use a pencil or pen or chalk. Whatever you've got on hand. Now, draw a line from the top mark to the bottom, making a triangle.

Grab, the bottom of the fold and flip up. Keep the folded of the square to the right, make a second set of marks and triangle.  Unfold the square and fold in half horizontally and repeat the process.  You should have 4 marks like this.  Repeat this on the second square.

Refold the square one way so you can see the line you marked and sew along the line. Do this on all 4 lines. Trim away the triangle, making sure you don't cut into the sewn lines.  Repeat this on the second square.

After you've sewn and trimmed the darts on both squares, place the squares right sides together lining up the seams for the darts and pin together.  Next, sew all around the square leaving a 3-4" opening for turning. Tip: Don't leave a corner open. Make sure your opening is along a straight edge.  This is a little tricky since there's a lot of batting at the darts even with the trimming. Before you turn your square right sides out, trim off the little tips of corners to get rid of the extra batting.  Just don't cut your stitch line.  Turn your square right sides out and pop your corners out as far as possible.

At the opening, turn your fabric inward and either pin, clamp or just hold it in place.  Now you're going to top stitch all around the edge about 1/4" in from the outside. This will sew your opening closed.  Topstitching is a bit tough.  There's a lot of layers at this point so just do your best. Your bowl is now complete.

Your bowl is also completely washable and reversible. I'm sure it'll get gunky with food spills so wash away, my friend, wash away. Also if you want your bowl taller just make the darts deeper. So instead of 2" down the fold, go 2.5" or 3" etc.

You can make 15", 12" or 10" squares.  I did one that was 8" and it was a bit small even for a mug to fit into so I would stick with the bigger squares.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Outer Border

I've been working on the outer border for a while now and I'm about 75% done.  Out of 44 blocks I've got around 32 done so I'm getting there. I decided not to do a video of these blocks just photos. There's a lot of fabric placement and thread changes and trying to operate a camera at the same time is just begging for something bad to happen. So I decided not to risk it.

Here's the border block and corners. They are the smallest blocks I've done for this quilt. The borders are 4.5'x6" and roughly 12K stitches and the corners are 4.5" square with around 9K stitches.

Outer Border Corner

The outer borders require some accurate piecing first.  The first piece for the corner is strips of fabrics 1 and 4. The second strip is made from fabrics 3, 1 and 4. In the top photo of the square, strip 1 is the white, brown, white and strip 2 is pink, white and brown.

To make the square, stitch out your placement area. Then place strip 1, right side up and tack down. You need to line up the seams with the placement lines then tack down. If your 1/4" seam is off or wiggles a bit you're going to have trouble lining up the seams with the placement line.

Place a piece of tape at the seam areas and place strip 2, right sides together and tack down. The tape will keep your fabric from shifting. Place the strip 1 on the last placement area and tack down. 

Your block should look like this after the last fabric stip is sewn down. Next, place your backing fabric on the back of your hoop and tack down. Then place thread C in the needle and bobbin and stitch.

Place thread D, in the needle and bobbin and stitch. Finally, put thread A in the needle and bobbin and stitch the final decorative stitching.  Looks like my center white square is a hair too big and it makes the stitching in the center look shifted.

Outer Border

Half of the outer border is made with strip 1, which is made by sewing fabric 4 and 1 together and using single strips of fabric 3.  The other half is made using strip 2, which is made by sewing fabric 3 and 1 together and single strips of fabric 4.  The outer border block shown is made using my strip 2. You will also need scraps of 4, 3 and 1.

Begin by stitching the placement area.  Place your scrap of fabric 1 over the bottom triangle and tack down, using water soluble thread and trim along the left and right sides.  Change your needle thread to a neutral thread. Next, place your single strip of fabric 4 on the right side, right sides together and tack down, flip and sew down.

Place a piece of tape at the seam, align the seam of your fabric 2 strip (or 1 whatever your doing) right sides together and tack down, flip, sew and trim.

Continue alternating between fabric 4 (brown strip) and your pieced strip until you come to the top. Using scraps of fabrics 4 and 3, place the fabrics in their respective corners and tack down using water soluble thread. Place the backing fabric on the back and tack down. Now you're ready to do all the decorative stitching.

Since I'm working with my strip set 2, I'll start with thread D (on the pink fabric), switch to thread C (for the brown fabric area) and finish with thread A down the middle. 

Just remember to put matching thread in your bobbin and always pull it up to the top before sewing. I still get some thread nests but probably not as many. 

I'm finding the inner border to be much harder than the outer border.  With this border you have to sew 2 fabrics together. If I need to sew 3 together its a lot harder to get those seams to line up on the placement lines. Maybe its just me and my cruddy sewing skills. 

I laid out the blocks I've got done on my bed and I put each row in a zip bag. That way I'll sew each row together first, do the sashing and then start sewing all the rows together.  I took a few pictures using my phone and thought I'd give a sneak peak. 

At our last class, one of the ladies had started sewing hers together and it looks really, really good. I really can't wait to see all the quilts sewn together. Also, the quilt shop has decided they can't schedule our trunk show at the end of February and it turns out the date they settled on is January 17. So hopefully, weather permitting, I'll get some good pictures of other quilts that are being done in different color schemes.