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Patriotic Stars Table Runner Problems and Fix

In my last post, “Patriotic Stars Release!” I mentioned that the heavy quilting in the center of my sample created some problems.  I thought it would be good if I explained what happened, and then tell you how I fixed it.  Unfortunately, I did not take photos, as I was going through a whole big argument with myself at the same time as chewing myself out for getting in a hurry and “you should have known better.”  Anyone else ever done that?  I am hoping by writing this post, I can either keep someone from doing what I did to begin with, or give hope that it can be fixed if someone is experiencing what I did.

So here is the story…

I pieced my table runner all together:  the three pieces that make up the center, the silver/white border, and the red border.  I then placed the stars from the “Patriotic Stars Scatterings Kit” on the center panel, and fused them down when I was happy with the layout.  I sandwiched it with two layers of cotton batting (so it could be used on the table to protect from hot dishes), and the blue fabric on the back.  So far, so good!

Then I sat down at my vintage Singer 201-2 (which I love dearly, and keep set up for free motion machine quilting at all times!) and quilted the center panel.  I was really happy with how it turned out, other than the fact that I had wanted to use silver metallic thread, but it kept shredding, so I switched to light gray rayon embroidery thread.  It sewed great, and looked good, although without the twinkle.

I then switched to my “modern” computerized machine with the walking foot on, and stitched in the ditch around the silver/white border, and added three rows of straight stitch to the red border.  I wanted to keep the borders simple, so that they did not take the eye away from the center panel.

I then made the binding, and started pinning it on, and realized that I had big problems. To be honest, I had noticed the problems earlier in the process, but I had hoped the straight stitching would pull it in and fix it.  (This was when the “you should have known better” argument with myself started.) The outside borders ruffled really badly.  The heavy quilting in the center had really pulled that center panel in, and the borders were just too long.  I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t that bad, but it really was, and I knew I would never be happy with it that way.  Not to mention that this table runner was the sample for the “Patriotic Stars” kit, and I wanted to photograph it and show it to quilt shop owners as a visual for the kit.    But the 4th of July was getting closer and closer…  Oh, well.  I don’t like shoddy workmanship and this was definitely that!

So…  I spent the time (yikes!) and ripped out the straight stitch quilting on both the red and the silver/white border.  Then, I ripped out the seams holding those eight pieces to the center panel, being careful not to mess the batting or the backing up.  I then pressed the pieces with sizing to see if the marks from the threads would come out, and they did.  I was prepared to have to cut new pieces, so that was good.

Then I measured the center panel as it laid flat.  I was quite relieved at this point to find that it really laid down as a rectangle.  Thank the Lord, the top and bottom were the same length as were the two ends!  Yay!  I wold like to emphasize that I did not measure the fabric of the panel, but how the panel laid.  The fabric was still the same length as it had been before I quilted it, but the quilting had pulled it in, so it no longer LAID at that length.  That meant that the borders were going to be smaller than the actual fabric in the quilted center panel.

I shortened the silver/white pieces to measure the same as what the center panel laid, and stitched them onto the panel, pinning closely together and easing the quilted center panel to match the border.  They were a bit over an inch too long!   No wonder I had ruffles!

I repeated the process with the end silver/white pieces, and then the long red pieces, and the end red pieces.  Now it laid flat!  Another YAY!

Adding Borders

I pinned the border pieces down really well, keeping my pins fairly close together (2 to 3 inches apart), and redid the straight stitch quilting in the ditch on the silver/white and the lines on the red.  And it laid flat again!  (Insert HUGE sigh of relief.)  I bound it, and now I don’t have to be embarrassed by it anymore!

So what did I learn?   First of all, if I am going to do heavy quilting like that, I need to match sashing or borders to the finished blocks after the quilting is completed.  Also, I need to slow down and take the time to fix things if they need fixed.  A couple of hours of time is a worthwhile investment in something you will be proud to use for years.  Not to mention, that it is a great kit, and we still have Labor Day and Veteran’s Day coming up this year!

Please, please, please!   Learn from MY mistake and avoid making one yourself!

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Patriotic Stars Release!

I am so happy to inform you that a new kit, “Patriotic Stars” Scatterings, is being released today.  This is a simple kit, but I have had so much fun playing with it and thinking of all the possibilities!  I LOVE this table runner!  It was so much fun to make, and I have quite a few stars left over!  I know it is a bit late for the Fourth of July, but we still have Labor Day and Veteran’s Day ahead of us this year.  And there are many possibilities for Quilts of Valor as well.  I love the sparkle of the Michael Miller Fairy Frost… white with silver glitter.   This same fabric is featured in the “Snowflakes” and “Let It Snow” kits.  I wish photos could do it justice, but I haven’t figured out how!  The featured photo for this particular article was taken outside in the sun.  A passer-by actually commented on how much she loved the sparkle, but alas.   The sparkle once again eludes the camera.  Sorry, but you will just have to take my word for it, unless you have seen the other kits.

I also made a 10” square that I will turn into a hot pad, so that I could practice the free motion quilting that I was envisioning.  As you can see, I did change the quilting a bit when I moved over to the table runner.  I started out thinking fireworks, and ended up moving more toward celebration.

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For both the table runner and the hot pad, I used two layers of cotton batting, so that they would be more usable as items to protect my table from heat.  But then I also used rayon embroidery thread to quilt them, so that it would be shiny too.  I don’t know how that is going to work with hot things.  Oh, well.  Time will tell.

Another thing I didn’t think through as well as I should have, was the amount of “shrinkage” I had from heavily quilting the center panel of the table runner through two layers of batting.  That probably would not have been an issue if I was heavily quilting the outside sashes, but that was not what I planned to do.  So I had to do some “unsewing” and some re-calculating (Quilters started doing that WAY before GPS was invented!) and I got it fixed.  I may do a whole ‘nuther blog on that process.  I DID take photos just in case.

Whether you buy a kit or not, I hope this inspires you to be creative today!

And while I don’t agree with all of Mr. Reagan’s politics, I do agree with this quote from him!

Blog Quote 4 July

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Welcome Spring!

Artfully Quilted Design LLC "Brown Bunny" Fusible Laser Cut Applique

This year, I am so happy to put winter behind us, and move forward to spring!  It seems like most of my family and many of my friends have had bugs of one kind or another off and on all winter, including myself.   But spring is here, and I welcome it with open arms!

To me, spring means change…  The sun comes out from behind the clouds more often.  The grass turns from brown to green.   The bare branches of the trees start to show color, greens and pinks and yellows and whites.  The snowblower gets put away and the rakes and shovels come out.

And then there is new life!   We have a farm close to us that raise sheep, and I am waiting for the sight of the dozens of newborn lambs that will soon be in their pasture.  The birds are nesting and getting ready to lay their eggs.  Soon the chipmunks will be out of their winter holes and on my front porch to taunt my dog.  🙂

Another new thing?   Two new kits to honor spring!!!

The first is the “Brown Bunny”, pictured at the beginning of this article.  This beautiful bunny is 12 ½ high X 12 wide and is a simple kit to put together.  This would make a lovely medallion center for a baby quilt and would look great on a door hanging, wall hanging, or table runner.

The second new kit is “Watercolor Flowers” Scatterings.  This kit contains fusible laser cut flowers, four each of 2”, 1¾”, and 1¼”, plus sixteen 1” and twelve 1¾” leaves.  These work great in little arrangements on the border of a quilt, in the corner blocks, or scattered on top of a quilt, wall hanging or table runner.  They could even be used on child’s clothing.

Artfully Quilted Design LLC "Watercolor Flowers" Scatterings

I hope this has inspired you to bring some spring into your home!

Happy sewing!

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The Design Progresses… Slowly

My new design is still that… a design.  But progress IS being made!  I did make the prototype cut… a fancy way of saying that I have cut it out of poster board!  My designs fit together like a puzzle, and I am very picky about them fitting together perfectly.  When I first started making these for myself, I was cutting them out of the fabric with the fusible on the back, and then finding something I wasn’t happy with, and starting over.  I was raised by the “Waste not, Want not” rule and that was not acceptable to me, not to mention that it gets expensive!  Do you know that fusible is more expensive per square inch than good batik quilt fabric?  And I was throwing both away!?!?!   So I started trying to figure out a better way.  One day it clicked that poster board is cheap, relative to fabric with fusible, and works well to assemble a puzzle.  I have a pretty good grasp on how thin an area can be cut from fabric and still not fall apart when handled, so I can tell that the poster board as well.

So now the process is to cut the design out of poster board and work the puzzle.  I also quickly color the pieces with marker, just so it doesn’t get too confusing looking at a pile of white puzzle pieces.  The colors aren’t always right, but they do the job!  So, the puzzle is made, the fabric ordered, AND I get a backorder notice.  Grrr… but only until I could wrap my mind around it.

Okay, move forward and start the assembly instructions.  These take a LONG time to write, and I usually do them after making the initial kit to photograph, but I am too excited about this kit and don’t want to have to wait!   So now the instructions are written, and hopefully ready to go.  And I think this is going to change the order of my process!  While writing the instructions, I changed the order of a few pieces, as I “built” the kit on the computer.  This saved some back and forth in the assembly and simplified a few things.  I even eliminated a couple of pieces (this kit has a LOT of pieces!) that just did not seem necessary in light of my fabric choices.  I was able to change the cut files to match, eliminating even more steps.   So much better!   So once again, what started as frustration, turned into learning a better more efficient process.

Bring on the fabric, please!!!

Are you frustrated with a project?   Take a deep breath and move forward with what you can!

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Video Tutorials are Now on the Website!

A video tutorial for the entire process of assembling the Bluebird of Hope kit and the Scarlet Cardinal kit are now available on the website!  At this point each of these tutorials is located in the Store on the appropriate product page.  Just click the “Video Tutorial” tab on the left side of the screen and the video will come up.

These two videos are each about 45 minutes long.  Please feel free to fast forward!  🙂  I did want to do a couple of videos that showed the entire process, with a lot of explanation (and some less than professional moments), so that you could see how easy these kits are to assemble.

I apologize for the amateurness of these, but you have to start somewhere, right?  What a learning process this all has been for me!

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The Store is Open!

Quite a few years ago, we built our own house.  Hands on built.   During that time we learned a very important life lesson.  If you think it will take an hour, it will take a day.  If you think it will take a day, it will take a week.  If you think it will take a week, it will take a month.

As it turns out, that also applies to stores and websites.

I started considering this about three years ago, and dismissed it for all of the reasons we as humans come up with because we are reluctant to step into unknown territory. However, it would not go away.  Finally at the beginning of this year I decided I HAD to do this.   Every argument I came up with would be demolished by something I read or heard.   Beyond that, I just knew this was what I had to do or I would forever wonder…  What if?

So here I am.  Here IT is!   This truly is a culmination of my life:  all that I have experienced and all that I have learned (about myself, about my craft, about life, about those I love).

I hope you will come along and watch my store grow and maybe even help me with suggestions, photos of your work, and even questions.

And please examine those thoughts that keep coming back to you and won’t go away.  Please don’t get to your sunset years and find yourself asking…  What if?

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Fusible Web Test Project

Quilting, Applique, Fusible Web, Challenge, Steam a Seam 2, MIsty Fuse, Splendid Web Plus, Iron On, Challenge, Test

I just finished doing a test of three brands of fusible web to determine what works best for the laser cut fusible appliques that I will be selling. I wanted to be sure that my kits were high quality and would hold up whatever finishing touches were used.   I purchased each of these at the full price charged by the store.  No freebies or perks here, I just simply wanted the best product for my project!

The three fusible products that I chose were based on reviews and things I had heard or been told.  I was really hoping for Attached Inc’s Misty Fuse to be the winner, as it does not have the paper backing, so should be better for the environment and less paper waste for me to dispose of.  It also has the reputation of leaving the fabrics with a softer hand (Alittledesignhelp.com defines “hand” as “the ‘feel’ of the fabric against your skin.”) because of it’s sheerness.   I have used Bosal In-R-Form in tote bags before and loved it, and have read good things about their Splendid Web Plus, so chose that as a trial as well.  For the third choice, I used Warm Company’s Steam-a-Seam 2.  I have seen this brand recommended on many websites, so it also made my list.

Here are the steps I used for this test:

  • I used a piece of unwashed fabric from my stash and cut three 4 ½″ strips from this same piece so that all three fusibles would be tested on the exact same fabric.
  • I put the three different fusibles on the back of the fabric strips using the large heat press that I will be using for my fusible laser cut appliques, noting and following each of the manufacturer’s instructions, and documenting temperatures and steam/no-steam, etc for future reference.
  • I then cut three 3 ½″ squares from each of the strips, using the laser. This is important to note, as the heat of the laser melts the fusible while cutting, and the fusible bonds to the cut edge, helping to keep it from fraying afterwards.
  • I then ironed three squares of each type of fusible backed fabric to a base fabric (sheeting from my stash) that I had serged the edges on so it would hold up through the washings. I did this step using my Rowenta home iron, again following the manufacturers’ instructions.   I knew my future customers would be using a home iron, and thought it was important to replicate the process that would be used to put a kit together.
  • For each of the different fusibles, I left one square raw edged, the second one used the raw edge applique technique, stitching about an 1/8″ from the edge with a straight stitch, and the third square was stitched down with a traditional zig zag satin stitch. One of the things I looked at through this process was the ease of sewing through each of the fusibles.  I had no problem with the needle gumming or getting through with any of these products.
  • Then the washing began! I washed this sample several times to see how well each of the fusibles held up to the washing.  I did not give this piece special or gentle treatment.  I threw it in with whatever laundry I was doing that was appropriate:  towels, t-shirts, and even jeans!  I washed with warm water and used the regular setting on my dryer.

The following photos clearly show the results after five washings!

The left column is Attached Inc’s Misty Fuse, the middle column is Bosal Splendid Web Plus, and the right column is Warm Company’s Steam-a-Seam 2.   This was test for my purposes, so I didn’t get fancy.  I just wrote the names with a permanent maker on the backing fabric.

This first photo is the piece before washing.  You can see that they all started out the same.

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This next photo is after two washings.  I did NOT iron the samples after washing and drying for any of the washings.  I did not want to change the results in any way.  You can see that the top two squares in the first column (Misty Fuse) are starting to fray and bubbles are starting to form between the top and bottom fabric.  The same is happening in the middle column (Splendid Web Plus), but not as bad as the first column.  (This actually started happening after the first wash, and I took a picture, but it must have gotten deleted.)  The third column, Steam-a-Seam 2, is showing no fraying or bubbling. Please keep in mind that I was not careful in the washing and drying of this sample.  This test was for my purposes, and your project may call for some of the attributes of these other webs!

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The following photos are from washes 3, 4, and 5, as numbered.  I did not trim any frays, or iron after washing.  Number 4 looks smoother, but I think that is just because I got it out of the dryer faster.

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I quit after five washings, as I knew at that point what I was going to use!  There was such a difference between the three that I didn’t feel I needed to go any further.  The third column, Steam-a-Seam 2, was still firm with no bubbles, and no fraying on the top square that did not have any stitching.  Both of the others were bubbling and the raw edges were fraying.

Now you know!   The Artfully Quilted Design Pre-Fused Laser Cut Applique kits will be made with Steam-a-Seam 2!  An added plus?   The repositional quality of this fusible is wonderful for getting those little pieces in just the right place, and they stay there until you press it!