Saturday, 1 December 2012

Kangaroo applique

Kangaroo templates

These instructions are designed for beginners. The applique will be the mirror image of the template - so if you want you kangaroo to face right - you need to trace the kangaroo that faces left.

You will need
 A4 piece of 2 sided iron on  applique film. (This looks like a very fine fibrous web with paper on one side.)
Fabric and threads.

Printing the template

1. Click the picture and copy it.
2. Paste the picture in to a document file. eg WORD
3. Turn the paper orientation in the document file to landscape.
4. Minimize the margins.
5. Now you can alter the size of the images - by changing the size of the picture on the page.
6. Print

I have been using the templates so that 2 kangaroos fill an A4 page. These kangaroos are 6 1/4" long and 4 1/4" high (approx) 

Making the applique

On a firm surface lay down your printout and add the fusible web, on top, with the paper side up.
Trace the kangaroos onto the web paper.

DO NOT cut out yet

Iron the web to the wrong side of the fabric you are using for the kangaroo.

Cut around the shapes well outside the lines. Clip into the corners. Now carefully cut out the kangaroo.

Peel off paper.

Turn the kangaroo over and place onto the backing fabric.  Check position .

 (To protect your iron - cover the applique with a piece of baking paper - while ironing). Iron the kangaroo onto the fabric. Remove the baking paper. (save for next time)

Test sample

Please don't skip this.  I still to this regularly.
Iron a small piece of the off cuts from the applique onto some scrap fabric.
Use this to check the tension, and stitch size before starting on the good piece.

Sewing the applique

The applique needs some stitching around it to ensure that it stays in place. There are many methods for doing this - here I will show 2 machine methods. In these examples I am using a highly contrasting thread - to make the photography easier. You may prefer to match you thread to the applique fabric under normal circumstances.

1. Blanket stitch. This stitch gives a strong edge and is available on most machines. It is less prone to cause unwanted gathering than the Satin stitch option.

2. Satin Stitch. This also gives a strong edge and as it a basically a zigzag - it is even more common than blanket stitch.


1. On the test sample try some different widths and lengths of stitch. The width is how far the stitching goes onto the applique. The length is how far the stitches are apart. On my machine: the blanket stitch need to have the length reduced; where as the zigzag needs to be both narrower and have the length reduced.

2. Check the tension. If the top thread is loopy underneath tighten the top thread. If the bottom thread is coming through to the top loosen the top thread.

3. When appliqueing all the way around a shape I do not reverse to secure the thread at the beginning as it is secured by being stitched over at the end.

4. To go around the gentle curves sew slowly and steer the fabric. To go around a point  stop with the needle in the backing fabric only, lift foot, turn, put foot down again and continue.
 To go around a concave shape (eg top of leg) stop with the needle in the applique, lift foot, turn, put foot down again and continue.

5. When you get to where you began either do a few stitches on the spot OR reverse for a few stitches.

Finished kangaroos

Satin stitch

Blanket stitch

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Mystery Quilts: Other fabric requirements.

Mystery Quilts: Other fabric requirements.

I order to make good choices it is important to have selected the feature fabrics first!

The other fabric are divide into 2 types:

Frame fabric. This fabric will be used to frame the feature fabrics to ensure they stand out. It need to be a contrasting fabric to all the others and is probably better if one solid color; for example: white, yellow, red, navy, black. You will need approximately 2 yards (queen) or 1 1/4 yards (single). This will be cut into 1 1/2" strip or 2 1/2 strip first border.

Background fabrics. These need to tone with your feature fabrics, however they need to be small scale prints or tone on tone, and most of them need to be less bright than the feature fabrics. This is a great way to use up lots of little bits.  You will need approximately the equivalent of 6 yards (queen) or 3 1/2 yards (single)  These will be cut into strips 2 1/2", 3 1/2" or  4 1/2"


Highly symmetrical quilt: my feature fabrics will be Japanese figures printed on a light  fabric, therefore my background fabrics will be mainly navy, bottle green, black or burgundy red to pick up the colors in printed figures. My Frame fabric will be white. Pictured left to right : feature fabric, frame fabric, background fabrics.

Spontaneous quilt: my feature fabrics will be Australian animals with a green printed on a light  fabric, therefore my background fabrics will be mainly yellows and green. My frame fabric will be brown. Pictured left to right : feature fabric, frame fabric, background fabrics.

 PS I have decided there is not enough contrast in this selection ... I will re do tomorrow and up date

A finished block showing how the background fabrics pick up the colors in the feature fabrics


Mystery Quilt - Feature Fabrics

I am going to have 2 mystery quilts with the sewing up by January 14. 
However I am going to put up the fabric and cutting requirements beforehand to enable you to fit this in with your lives.

I began this project as one quilt in 2 sizes but the 2 quilts ended up being very different in character. The instructions are for the central panel - I will make some suggestions for the borders to be added to make the required size.

1.  Highly symmetrical quilt Queen: 74" square (queen or double size with borders). This will be actually the simpler option to piece due to the symmetry. If you are a fan of my Trinity Celtic Knot quilt please choose this option.

2. Spontaneous quilt Single: 44" x  64" ( single or Aussie hero size with borders). This quilt is not symmetric and therefore has a more modern look.

These quilts is planned around some large feature fabric pieces.  They do not need to all be cut from the same fabric.   If any of you are like me you have those fabrics in your stash that you just don't want to cut up too small and loose the impact.

These are the sizes of the feature fabric pieces you will need:

1.  Highly symmetrical quilt, Queen :including seam allowances of 1/4 "

ONE 18 1/2" x 18 1/2 "    FOUR 7  1/2" x7 1/2"     FOUR 5 1/2" x 5 1/2  "     TWO 8 1/2"wide x 12 1/2" high   TWO 12 1/2" wide by 8  1/2 " high         TWO 9  1/2" wide x 6 1/2 " high    TWO   6  1/2" wide x 9 1/2 " high

2.  Spontaneous quilt, Single: including seam allowances of 1/4 "

ONE  12 1/2" x 12 1/2"  FOUR 6  1/2" x 6 1/2 "           THREE 5 1/2 " x 5 1/2 "        ONE  9 1/2 " wide x 6  1/2" high         ONE  4  1/2" wide x 6  1/2  high                    ONE  6  1/2" wide x 8  1/2 " high        ONE  7 1/2" wide x 5  1/2" high

The next post has the other fabric requirements.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

For Want of a Laundry Bag

 I have just posted 15 laundry bags off through Aussie Heros quilts and laundry bags.

If I am asked why laundry bags?  My plagiarism of a classic poem (14th century) expresses my response.

 For Want of a Laundry Bag
For want of laundry bag a sock was lost.
For want of a sock some time was lost.
For want of some time some rest was lost.
For want of some rest a  temper was lost.
For want of  good temper a relationship was lost.
For want of a relationship the message was lost.
For want of the message the area was lost.
For want of the area the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the peace was lost.

 All for the want of a laundry bag.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Rose of Sharon Quilt

 This quilt is for a friend  of the family who loves pink and pretty as a style. I have tried to make it neither childish or something that looks like it is for the elderly.

The Rose of Sharon center was chosen because of our shared faith in Jesus. The term "Rose of Sharon" is used in Song of Solomon 2:1. In the some English translations of the bible. In this popular old song celebrates the link to Jesus.

Sweet Jesus, Sweet Jesus,
What a wonder you are,
You're brighter than the morning star.
You're fairer, much fairer
Than the lily that grows by the wayside,
Precious, more precious than gold.

You're like the rose of Sharon,
You're the fairest of the fair,
You are all my heart could e'er desire.
Sweet Jesus, Sweet Jesus,
What a wonder you are,
You're precious, more precious than gold.
--Author not known

This link is probably why this traditional applique pattern has been given this name.

Feathers quilting: In this quilt I have been working on my free form feathers and I am pleased with how I am progressing. I am feeling more confident with each project. (Now all I have to do is master shamrocks for another project!!!!)

Shiney Quilt (Thai silk)

This is a quilt got a friend that likes bling. We had looked at various patterned together and none of them met her taste in shinny. One day at the local markets there was a lady selling these Thai Silk (rayon????) bed spreads. I over-locked the edges due to fraying. Then I simply quilted along the straight lines in the fabric (including going up and down on the lines in between the elephants. The backing is cotton which means that it will not constantly slip off the bed!!!!

It is just what she wanted - sometimes simple is best.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Piano Keys Quilts

The finished dimensions of these quilts are 45" x 72" which is approximately the correct size for the Aussie Hero quilts. Piano keys are a great way to use up all those small bits left over from other projects

Central Panel:

The central Panel of this quilt is made from a large print fabric - I used 1 yard, measured the usable width, and divided this number by 3.  ( The usable width is the width of the fabric less the selvages and any fabric that is not printed with the design.). In this case 42" /3 = 14". I then cut the the 1 yard length vertically making 3 panels 36" x 14 "(the finished size of the panel  in the quilt is 35.5" by 13.3").  Each panel can make the center of 1 quilt.

Panel Frame:

The goal is to frame the panel as you would a picture. The first 1 or 2 frames are solid fabric and then I use a mixture of piano keys and whole fabric borders.

I make piano keys using pieces of fabric that are the same length but different widths - however the width is always smaller than the length. I precut the piano keys from small scraps, in 3" 4.5" 6" 7.5" lengths and select the colors I want for each project.

This quilt uses the piano keys in a different way to make the sense a 3d image or an old fashioned labyrinth. The inspiration was from some old Finnish Labyrinths that date back over 3000years

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Aussie heros quilts

For some time I have been thinking about quilts for Australians in the armed forces. Their seemed to be a good system in the USA for providing that kind of support but very little locally.

Fortunately quilters with far better organizational skills than me have worked out a system - they have called themselves Aussie Hero's Quilts (and laundry bags).

I thought that this would be a great way to use up some of those piano key borders that I had cut from scraps while making other projects.

The first one has a cushion panel in the center.

The next 2 have home made panels cut from an all over print. I took a 1 meter length of fabric and cut it into thirds lengthways. This gave me the beginnings of the required proportions of the quilt.
This final quilt has a UFO (unfinished object) panel in the center.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

 Tropical Island quilt. Structurally this is a very simple quilt - a panel framed firstly in gold and then in blue. The detail is in the quilting.
In both the panel and blue border I quilted around the printed fish and other features. In the Gold border I did a swirl pattern.

This quilt was made for a young friend Abby in Taiwan. She was so excited to get it that she sent me a picture of herself with the parcel.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

High school students come to help Quilt!!!

I had a group of high school students over to see my quilting machine. I decided to put on the frame this quilt top which I had made from a panel I was given. The idea was that they would do a wavy line with loops in it. Sometimes this became a little chaotic - as each student had a turn.  They really seemed to enjoy it - one student asking if they could get one for the high school... not with in budget unfortunately.

I also quilted up this panel experimenting with chains of teddies in the border. (not ready yet to share a method!!!!) .

Both quilts went to the local family crisis care.

Giraffe Quilt again - spot print

 I have finished the second giraffe quilt that I designed. This time with a spotted print rather than sewing the spots on individually (much quicker).  While the colors are more difficult to photograph well the quilt itself has turned out really well. I did add 2 more borders to make this pattern up to a toddler size quilt. I was also pleased with the African animal print that I found for the second border.

The pattern is available:

This is the original with the sewn on spots for comparison: 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wonky framed squares in 2 quilts

Recently I have given away 2 picture "eye spy" quilts to adults. This quilt went to a young dad with cancer - the family chose to have an eye spy quilt for the 1 year old son to enjoy when visiting.

Unfortunately it was raining so the pictures were taken inside and do not show off the quilting very well.

This quilt went to the local hostel for the elderly. They have specifically asked me to include pictures in the quilts. This is more intellectually simulating and may initiate conversations with the carers.

 I used the swirls and curls method of quilting this.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Auturm Fairy - Large Panel

I also had a large fairy panel ( see previous post for smaller fairy panels). I liked the idea of these but was not sure about them when they arrived (I have to use mail order).

Firstly the color in the image was greatly improved by the right borders - they looked flat before adding  the matched  borders - to the colors lifted the fairy out of the image. At first I was going to applique a few small fairies in the larger red border but they seemed to detract from the centre in reality.

Therefore I tried to quilt the shapes of the hawthorn (also known as mayflower) from the image to the borders. I deliberately varied the width of the echo quilting around the leaves I find this gives the feeling of movement. I quilted the fairy along the lines with in the picture. On the face I just quilted around the eyes and mouth. This is the first quilt where I have tried using rayon embroidery thread as well as cotton.   I am really pleased with the result.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Blossom fairies

This quilt is made from the flower fairy selection by Michael Miller.  I chose this group because the home it is going to has light grey walls. These panels make a lovely quilt for a baby - the small blocks in the sashing are also provided with the panels. I did find matching the reds in the flowers a bit tricky and made a great mess as I pulled out everything in my stash that might have been suitable for an audition.
 The boarders provided  a great opportunity to practice the free motion feathers I have been working on.

The actual small panel I chose only to quilt the main shapes lightly so that the had a relatively puffy look.

Photos in an Irish chain quilt

Elisa, one of our exchange student from Finland, chose to have a photo quilt with Aboriginal art prints as well. At first I could not think of a design that would show both these elements off well - until I made an Irish chain quilt with embroideries - I though why not try Photos?

Each of the Aboriginal prints occurs 4 times - so that I did not get the repeats together I made 4 sections of 4 x 5 blocks each section had only one of the repeat pieces. I then added one more block for the center and pieced them together.

The photos I cropped, simplified the backgrounds and increased the color contrasts so that they printed clearly on fabric.