Create experiences that leave you in awe, for these will be the highlights of your life. ~Ryan Blair

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chocolate Hearts

February 2015.... Heart Month

Here begins my new Pieced Strings Series for the New Year... After having fun creating these mini quilt blocks (last year) using pieced strings from my fabric stash; I am ready to embellish the blocks.

Instructions for preparing the blocks using narrow fabric strings, are also shown in these projects, available on my Craftsy page:

I will not be repeating that portion of the mini quilt, here on the blog, as these will be available for free download, to compliment this series.  (Find the links on the right-hand column of this blog.)



I have chosen my pink block to embellish for my first mini quilt project in this series. I felt this color theme fit perfectly with the month of FEBRUARY.



To help hold the strings from shifting too much, I added the batting layer to the wrong side of the top fabric piece; and then, added some stitched lines. To add the lines on this pink block, I used an asterisk shape. Next step, is to prepare the templates for the applique design.

To make your heart templates, use a small piece of paper, and fold it in half. Then cut out your hearts in a variety of sizes. Trim them, until you have the shape and sizes, you desire.

In the following photo, the hearts shown are in three sizes:  Measurements are across the widest part (from side to side only). Large: (4.5"); Medium: (2.5"); Small: (2")

Make your hearts in the sizes you desire for your quilt block. Use as many or as few as desired.


Now that your heart templates are made, you will need to decide what type of fabric you will use for each of them. As we are focused on using fabric scraps, why not try one of these options:

Sew together several strips of fabric until they are wide enough to use for your hearts.

Use fabric scraps and stitch together enough pieces to make unique scrappy hearts.

Start with a square of fabric and cover it with fancy stitching, in two or more thread colors. Fuse or pin a piece of medium-weight interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric piece before starting to add the stitches. Then cut out your hearts from this embellished fabric.

Now, what could be better then adding hearts to this mini quilt done in browns to remind us of yummy chocolate hearts that are everywhere as Valentine's Day approaches.

The BEST THING about these chocolate hearts is that they are CALORIE-FREE!! 



I really wanted to experiment with embellishing a fabric square with fancy machine stitching to see what it looked like; and it was pretty. However, since my background block was not well suited to hearts made from these squares; I had to rethink my design.


So if you need to use another color, why not chocolate brown? They really did pop when placed on the pink background; and I was happy to try out an optional layout.


Since, I had to rethink what applique design would really work on my chosen block, I thought adding another element would really bring out my new design. Thus, I constructed an envelope template to add to the block. Sew together several strips to make your envelope fabric and cut out when ready.

To make the envelope template, find a paper envelope; and open it up to see the shape you'll need to draw out, if needed. My envelope is 4 1/4" wide from side to side; and from the bottom edge to top tip is: 4" high. (Make sure you add an extra allowance to the envelope flap, (bottom edge of flap) so it can be placed correctly underneath the bottom section of the envelope.)



Once the templates are prepared; trace shapes onto the paper-side of the fusible web. Then iron to your chosen fabrics and cut out around each template. Position them on the quilt block and when happy with the arrangement, fuse them in place.

Machine (or hand) stitch around each applique. I added a fancy stitch along the seam lines on the outside portion of the envelope for added embellishment. Thread colors used matched the fabric colors on this project.

To fasten the backing fabric layer to the batting/top fabric layer, stitch around the applique design, through all three layers. Add any other stitching, as desired. (You may use temporary spray or pins to hold the layers together, while you add the stitching.)

Prepare the binding and add to the quilt block. I will not be showing that step, at this time; as I wish to consider combining several of these blocks into larger projects. These will be determined later.


A pattern will be placed on my Craftsy page, when it is ready. (Templates will be included in the pattern.)


So what I have decided to do, is this:
  1. PROVIDE an instructions only tutorial (no templates) on this blog. 
  2. IF YOU would prefer to download a pattern that includes the applique templates, I plan to post a complete pattern on my Craftsy page. (Each pattern will be available for a FREE download once it is posted; and only for the duration of that month.)
  3. PATTERN will be available to purchase as a single pattern; once that month is over, for anyone that missed out. However, the blog post will remain available, if you choose to draw out your own templates for the project.
  4. ONCE this series has run its course, I plan to also provide a 'templates only pattern' available for purchase to include the complete series of templates.
  5. PLAN TO provide at least six new applique designs for this series, in this calendar year.
  6. BLOG entry will include photos and instructions to embellish the mini quilt block.  
  7. FINISHING of each of these blocks is up to you. I will be leaving the binding until later... (so as to explore other possibilities in using these blocks.) 

Happy Stitching!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Pieced Strings

After having some time away from my sewing room, I may finally be ready to revisit these pieced string blocks from 2014, and share some new appliques, along with tips; and perhaps some more variations to this block.

My continued goal is to use fabrics from my stash; and these mini projects look great -- even with those older fabrics, that may not be current or fit some of the new patterns available.

Thank you so much for your interest in my free mini quilts; and perhaps, you'll see more that interest you. Please visit my Craftsy page for any new additions, coming this year.

Therefore, my hopes for this block series, are as follows:

Post a new block (perhaps one month a new applique; and the next month a new idea or variation) depends on my mood and how much can actually be realized. May include:
  • a new applique design,
  • a variation to the stitching lines that reinforce the strings from shifting during the quilting process, 
  • feature a new color theme,
  • ideas to make the blocks into a small wall hanging, or larger quilt,
  • variations to assembling the block, such as: 1 layer; 2 layers, or 3 layers.

Three of these mini quilts were completed, and are still available for a free download at my Craftsy page. (See links to these projects in the right-side column.)

The blocks shown below are ready to embellish; and these examples showcase how pretty a variety of colors can provide a working block to embellish or practice your machine stitching.

Use only one block or combine several for larger projects. Give it a try...

Three color variations; and Oh Lollipop!

Four Color Variations in Yellows and Browns

Dig into your scrap fabrics and enjoy making up your own variations for some fun mini projects!

3.) TIPS
I found adding the batting and top fabric; and then stitching them as one layer, gave it more stability, when adding the applique design. The stitching adds dimension behind the design, as well.

To further help in keeping things from shifting, add some straight lines to the block before adding the applique design. (Those of you not familiar with free motion quilting; or like me, not brave enough to try it yet, these lines are added using regular stitching.) Certainly, if you wish, you can add free motion stitching over the whole block before or after adding the appliques.



As you can see from the photos, you can use scraps from both the fabrics and batting pieces that are leftover from other projects. Once the mini quilt is complete, you would never know that they were made from discarded or leftover pieces from other projects.

To make this project even quicker to assemble, another option is to layer all three pieces together, (front fabric, batting, and back fabric) before adding any stitching lines.

Continue piecing together those fabric scraps, to make beautiful projects!

I will be adding an applique design to the sample shown in pink. It is still in the works, and will appear on this blog when it is ready. You may use any combination of reds, pinks, and whites.

Coming soon... to not miss this or future projects, why not join this blog to see them when they are posted.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

Time once again to reflect back on 2014! 
Or.. since it's been over three weeks now; and I haven't had much time to reflect; I am going to just forget about all that didn't get done; and start anew.

UFO Projects:
There are a few projects that got underway; however, didn't see the end before the old year passed. I am hopeful, that I'll get back to them and get them done.

1)  'Go Kite Go' quilt/pattern -- templates need to be drawn up before the pattern is ready.
2)  81-Block quilt blocks -- to replace the current fabric on my kitchen chairs.
3)  Quilt-as-You-Go project -- a large quilt using the quilt-as-you-go technique.

However, since it's a New Year; I'd like to ponder on what it is that would inspire me; and make those fabrics more than just pretty colors on my shelf.

New Bucket List for 2015:

Therefore, this list shows some of the items I'd like to add to this bucket.


I love machine applique; and have discovered some techniques that I hadn't known about; or haven't had the opportunity to make because of materials not being available; and so am creating my 2015 wish list.

To begin, I am adding two techniques to my bucket, from: (1) Melinda Bula; and (2) Rose Hughes designs. I did briefly check out these techniques; and will have to figure out which design I will select. There are so many lovely patterns and it will not be an easy decision. But it will be really fun to plan these out and add to my quilting repertoire.


New Pieced String Mini Quilts
I also wish to add new mini projects under my 'Pieced Strings Series'. Perhaps, I'll have time to add a new post each month with a new variation in color, style; and new applique designs.


2015 Applique Mystery Small Wall-hanging Quilt
This one is planned in my head; the design has been chosen, along with a few color variations. Due to family obligations, I have not been able to create my samples, however, it may still be a plan as I go project. Once I am ready, I will email those people that have requested to join in this project.


I have so many projects waiting on CRAFTSY that I'd love to revisit and make each one. These will definitely keep my busy.

So whatever it is that inspires you, I wish the best for your year; and hopefully, we'll be able to connect on social media, or through one of the many avenues that quilting takes us.