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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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Hello Again!!!

I haven’t been adding to the website for a couple of months, but that doesn’t mean I have been idle.   It just means that there have been some exciting “behind the scenes” happenings!   Over the early months of this year, it became apparent that we really needed to take a big plunge a purchase a large laser in order to grow the business.  This meant really evaluating what we needed, researching brands and prices, figuring how we were going to get such a large thing into my space, and then placing the order.

Once all of that was decided, we had to ready the space.  This meant running exhaust to the outside, wiring (when all is said and done, this takes four outlets!), cleaning out and getting rid for just the space, and figuring out the best arrangement for efficiency.

I am very happy to say that the new laser has been delivered!  It is installed in the lower level work area.  This machine utilizes a different software than I have used in the past and it took some work to learn the new software and I needed to check that my designs aren’t being distorted at all.  I am confident enough that all is working as it should be that I am in the process of releasing a new “Scatterings” kit, all cut with the new laser as part of this learning process, and am convinced that I am ready to start cutting the more complex kits.  I have two different designs almost ready to start cutting, and they are much more complex than previous kits.  I am sure you are going to love at least one of these!

These photos will give you a bit of an idea of what it took to make this happen!

Backing to Deck
Backing it in!
Will This Fit
How will this fit?
The Journey In
Inside looking out.
Tight Fit
He measured really well!
We Did It
Taa Daa!!!

This is a game changer!  I am actually a bit upset with myself for not making this move sooner.   I hope you stick around and watch this unfold!

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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?