Well, my first day of spring break was completely unproductive. But it felt GOOD to be unproductive! haha!
Thank you so much for all of your positive feedback and comments on my finished project. I really appreciate them. I am very excited by how Finding my Marbles turned out!
Today I thought I'd just show you some tips on what I learned as far as technical skills on my gentle curve piecing post, which I made yesterday. I won't call this a "tutorial," because I'm not sure I took enough detail photos to justify calling it that. And, truthfully, I don't think I know enough about any of these skills to be "tutoring" others yet! But, I'll show you what I did and what I think about what I did.
This is a little long and pretty photo loaded. Sorry for those of you with slow Internet connections. (I have one, too, so I empathize!)
Let's begin my a quick review of what you do for curve piecing. I won't go into a ton of detail on this aspect, because Jean Wells covers it in her book, Intuitive Color and Design, pretty well. If this interests you, you should probably consider picking up a copy of the book.
You basically take two strips of fabric (mine are about 3" wide) and overlap them a little (I probably overlaped these about an inch or less when I cut this curve-it's pretty gentle...not much overlap needed). Then, you slice a gentle curve with your rotary blade, making sure that your curve stays within where the two fabrics overlap (otherwise you'll have a big gap). Then, you flip this white piece over onto the blue piece and sew the seam. It's a little funny, because where the blue swings out, the white swings in, and vice versa. So, when you flip it over, it doesn't look like the seams will match up. You just have to sew slowly and readjust about every inch or so to match up the raw edges. After you sew it, open up the seam. I pressed toward the blue fabric.
In this photo, you can see how it looked after I sewed it. I kept repeating this as I went. Now, notice that for the blue to white, which I sewed above, the curve goes all the way from the bottom to the top of the piece. These are pretty easy to sew, and Jean's book shows you how to do this as well as how to sew even deeper curves (which I'm still struggling with). What the book really doesn't show you is how to sew the curves that start at the bottom but don't go all the way to the top. For example, see the blue that comes right after the white at the bottom of this piece? I really struggled with this. So, let me show you what I figured out in terms of making this part work.
I stacked two pieces of fabric on top of each other. Rather than just overlapping, stack them right on top of each other. We're going to cut a more severe curve here, so we need a lot of overlap in our fabric. (By the way, I precut all my strips to 3" for this project, as per Jean's instructions. I think if I were doing this again, I would cut some of these wider to give me more variety.)
I flipped the blue over on top of the orange (or maybe I did it the other way around...I can't remember...doesn't matter) and sewed along the cut edge. I pressed toward the orange. It now looks like this. Don't be too concerned about that nasty looking join at the end. We're going to cut that off in the next step anyway, when we attach it to our piece (shown on the left here).
I make another slice, making sure that both fabrics are included in my slice. I don't want to slice so far to the left that my blue/orange strip isn't under the slice or, again, I'll have a gap. If I had wanted to, I could have cut the bottom more to the left even, because the blue is underneath the light blue and the turquoise fabric. If I did this, the light blue would no longer go all the way to the bottom. That would have looked cool, too.
Flip it over and sew it on, like you've done before. See how that orange doesn't go all the way to the bottom?! Just keep repeating this. You can see if you look to the left a little, I did this same thing while putting the pieced curve at the bottom sometimes (instead of the top, like I did on the blue/orange piece).
And, by the way, I borrowed some of these strategies from this tutorial at Textiles4you. (This strategy uses satin stitching, which I thought would be too heavy for my project, so I changed it up a bit. It also uses a raw-edge technique, which I didn't want to do, because I didn't want to satin stitch.)
Lynn, Alamosa Quilter, has some great strategies that she posted with her Radiator Quilt, which I wish I would have thought to look at again before doing this. Her strategies are good. You should check it out if you're thinking of doing this.
I cut out the center of each circle, leaving myself a little seam allowance. I also snipped the seam allowances up to about within two threads of my drawn line. Yes, this was scary. But I figured the worst that could happen would be I'd have to rip this blue piece off my other piece and put a new one on. Better might have been to do this BEFORE I sewed it to my other piece! haha.
I flipped the piece over and grabbed those little clipped pieces and pulled them to the back. I used my iron to press these toward the back. If you have a little mini iron, that would make it easier, but it really wasn't too bad, once you got a circle started. Be careful not to burn your fingers.
I noted two things here...It would have been better if I had drawn my circles on the wrong side of my fabric so I could see what I was doing here (relative to whether or not I was pulling back enough to meet my drawn line).
I also wished I had the freezer paper openings to guide me, like Lynn had when she did hers. That would have been better. But this actually worked out surprisingly well, considering how I was winging it.
I checked on the front to see if I was pretty close to my drawn lines. Not bad. If I needed to, I flipped it back over and pulled some of the little flaps of fabric back more and pressed again. I thought this was pretty close, and when I erased the lines, it would look just fine. I repeated this for all the other circles. (Make sure you do this on the back of your fabric. It creates a little shine on the fabric with the starch. You don't want that shine on the front of your fabric.)
Yes, I like this.
Next, I flipped the piece with holes in it back, being careful not to move anything. I grabbed my Sewline glue stick (I really like this water soluble glue), and I ran some glue around the circle holes to adhere the two fabrics together while I sewed. I suppose you could use pins, too. But I thought I would run less risk of things shifting if I glued it.
Here's the glue. It looks a little nasty, but it won't show on the front, and when I'm done, I can soak this piece in water and this will all dissolve. Next, I flipped this back over onto the pieced fabric, making sure things were aligned the way I wanted them. I pressed down to set the glue and let it dry.
I also decided to float a piece of tear-away stabilizer on the back of my pieced fabric just for a little extra stability as I stitched. I was worried with all those seam allowances and the small size of the holes that I might need a little more stability. I didn't adhere it. I just floated it. But you could stick it down, too, if you wanted to.
I used some of this smoke colored monofiliment thread in the top, because I wanted my stitches to be as invisible as possible. (Use smoke color on dark fabrics and the white/clear color on light colored fabrics.) In the bobbin, I'm using a blue cotton thread to match my fabric. I have heard it's not good for your machine to use this monofilament in your bobbin.
I'm also using a topstitch needle. I'm not sure if that matters or not. You can see here that my needle is going into the fabric just about one or two threads from the opening of the circle. This is the left-hand swing to my zig-zag (the "zig?").
I know this looks like the same photo, but it's not. This is the "zag" on my stitch. My point here is that the needle barely moved. It's a tiny zig zag. (Apparently I had some lint on my machine, too! Sorry!) I tried this on a practice piece, where I let the "zig" go on the marble fabric and the "zag" go on my blue fabric. I didn't like it. I thought the stitches were too visible when I did that. So, I'm staying on the blue but VERY close to the folded edge.
I tore away the excess stabilizer. I then used my appliqué scissors to trim away the excess marble fabric. I cut about 1/4" from my sewn line...sometimes a little closer. I figured my quilting up to the marble lines would catch some of that extra fabric and would provide even more security. I left the stabilizer on the back of the marbles, just for more support.
Here's another look after it's quilted. See how I quilted right up to the edges to sew down that extra fabric in the back and to hide those zig zag stitches? Can't even see them now. And the fact that my marbles aren't perfectly round is okay, too. My pebbles in the quilting aren't pefectly round either. So it all works!
I don't have a ton of tips for you on the free motion quilting design--the pebbling--except that I learned how to do it from Leah Day's website. Here is the link to her video on how to do it. If you'd like to learn that, I'll send you to her. She's much more of an expert than I am on this. Thanks to her for all her advice and to Lynn for advice she sent me on it, too. It was all helpful. My biggest advice...Take a deep breath, and go for it on a practice piece. Practice and practice until you feel ready (or are bored with practicing, like I was!). Then, just do it!
One last tip. I got a new tool the other day that made a world of difference for me in finishing my binding! I don't know about you, but that point where I get my binding all sewn on and the last thing I need to do is to join my two binding ends, I get a little frazzled. I know how to do the join, but it's not the easiest thing to do, and it's not always the easiest thing to get the length of that join just right (i.e., so you don't have too much or not enough binding to finish and close the gap). The other day, I was ordering a new little ruler from Missouri Star Quilt Co. It seemed a shame to waste all that shipping/handling cost on one tiny ruler. So, I started looking around to see if there was anything else I "needed." I saw this little binding tool and thougth I'd give it a whirl.
And I gotta tell you, I LOVE IT! I have tried other binding tools. I won't mention names, but they are all pointless if you ask me. This one, however is EASY to use, makes the job of joining your binding a SNAP, and the binding turns out JUST THE RIGHT LENGTH! This was the best $9 I have spent in a LONG time. Again, can I do the binding without it. Sure. But, this made it so quick and easy, I will use it every time.
It took me just a few seconds to realize that when cutting the right side of the binding, you like up the "R" on the bottom of the ruler to the marked line (the marked line will actually line up with that vertical line on the ruler), but when you flip it around to line up the left side, you actually put the little tip, where the L is, on the marked line. Once I figured that out, this was EASY PEASY. (And those directions are right here on the ruler. You can see it in the pictures of step 3. I was just being dense!)
Here is the link to where you can get one, and there is also a demonstration video of how it is used at that site, too. Check it out to decide if it's a tool you'd like to have, too.
Well, I hope these tips were helpful. Sorry it's such a long post! Tomorrow I will show you what I started on this weekend when I went to Marshall and hung out with Linda, Pat, and the gang. I'm a bad girl. I started a new project. Ha!
Until next time,