April 22, 2014

Local classes!

I have two classes coming up at Pink Castle Fabrics soon.

Hand Appliqué is this Saturday, April 26 from 10 - 2.  This is the perfect time to learn how to do needle-turn appliqué!  Hand Appliqué is the perfect summer project - no need for a machine - it goes anywhere with you.  I love to have a project ready any time we go on a road trip.  A little hand stitching in the car, on the beach, by the pool, on the deck... perfect!  Sign up here!

My Turnstile class is May 24 from 10:15 - 1:15.  We'll learn how to do a partial seam so that you can make this fun quilt using a charm pack.  Wouldn't this make an adorable baby quilt with a cute charm pack or some fussy cut squares?   Go sign up now and join us!

April 16, 2014

Testing fun!

One of the issues that always causes a bit of trouble in appliqué is when light fabrics are placed over dark ones and the dark shows through making the lighter fabric look dull.  My usual solution to this problem is to cut out a white or light "lining" piece that is just a bit smaller than the appliqué shape and slip it between the background and the appliqué piece.

However, this doesn't work as well when you are doing fusible appliqué.  I'm working on a project now where I want to appliqué white strips over dark red fabric (Kona Rich Red).  So I decided to do some testing.  I prepared three blocks using three different methods.  For Block A, I didn't do anything special - just fused the white on top of the red using my usual fusible product (Heat N Bond Lite).  For Block B, I used a different fusible web (the kind without paper attached - Pellon Wonder Web 807 in this case) to fuse my Kona White to some bleached muslin and treated it as one piece of fabric. Then I used the Heat N Bond Lite to fuse the appliqué to the background.  For Block C, I used the same procedure, but used a second piece of Kona White in place of the muslin.

The results!  I was quite pleased with how Block A turned out.  One of the things I like about Kona solids is the weight of them and I think this helped reduce the show through.  However, placing the blocks side by side, it was clear that B was a brighter white than A and C was brighter yet than B.  I've included a picture here, but it is very difficult to see these subtle differences.  (C even looks a bit yellower in this shot, I think, but it isn't.  Photography is not my strong suit!)

While Block C was the whitest, I decided that the double layer of Kona made the appliqué piece a little stiff.  I'll be using the bleached muslin method from Block B to make my quilt.

It was a lot of fun to take the time to do this test.  Do you ever test things before you make a quilt?  If so, share what you've done in the comments!

April 13, 2014

Sew Solid Sunday #4

Welcome back to Sew Solid Sunday!  Whether you already love working with solids or are thinking you might like to, but aren't sure where to start, I hope we'll have some inspiration here for you.

So, this was my couch a few days ago.  It is April people, April!  And I still have a snowflake on my couch - a sorry state of affairs.  Sew Solid Sunday to the rescue!

Those of you who have been around here for a while know how much I love working with bias.  (You can see some previous projects in my Modern Bias collections on Pinterest or Flickr).  It feels like I haven't done a bias project for a while and its light, airy feel is perfect for Spring.

So here is my couch now. MUCH better :)  I seem to be drawn to this Kona Peridot and White combo as you may have seen in my White Diamonds table runner in the new issue of Modern Patchwork.  It just feels so fresh!

So, let me tell you how I got from Snowflake to Daisy.
Makes a 16" pillow.
1/2 yard Robert Kaufman Kona Peridot
1/2 yard Robert Kaufman Kona White

Trim the Peridot to 16 1/2" square for the background.
Cut 6 one inch wide bias strips from the white, plus two 4 1/2" squares.

Trace the templates (download here) onto freezer paper and cut them out on the lines (Be sure to print them at actual size).  Fold the circle in half twice to make a plus sign and then twice more to make an "x".
Pressed lines/circle template
Press creases in the background 9 3/4" from the top and 10 3/4" from the left raw edges.  Place the center of the circle template at the intersection of the pressed lines.  Press the circle in place and, using a removable marking pencil, trace around the circle.

Background ready!
Center the petal template over one of the pressed lines; press in place and trace around the template.  Rotate the template to trace outlines for 8 petals.  Remove both templates from the background.

To make the bias strips, set your machine for basting.  Fold the bias strip approximately in thirds and baste down the center without stretching the strip.  Press.

(In the picture, I haven't yet folded the right side of the bias strip over).

With the raw edge against the background, pin the bias strips in place over the marked lines.  Be sure the ends extend into the circle just a little bit so the circle will cover them.  Stitch the bias strips in place along the long edges.  Remove the basting.

Here is what you should have now (ignoring the circle of white stitching at the center):
A couple of  notes about this picture - I originally planned to make the pillow in this orientation but, when I'd finished it, I liked it better turned a quarter turn.  As the WIP sat on my design wall, I began to like the open center.  I stitched a few rounds of white stitching where the center was planned to see if I should leave it like that.  In the end, I decided I liked the solid center best.

Press the circle template onto the wrong side one of the 4 1/2" white squares (With solids, there really is not right and wrong side - so many errors avoided!).  Trace around the circle.  Place the second white square right sides together with the first one and, using small stitches, stitch on the traced line.  Trim the seam allowance to about 1/8".  Carefully cut a slit in one of the circles and turn the piece right side out.  Press.

Place the circle at the center of the daisy, on the traced line, and stitch in place along the outer edges.  To reduce the green showing through here, I cut a third white circle about 1/4" smaller in diameter and sandwiched it in between the background and my center circle.  Your pillow top is done!

I like to quilt my pillow fronts.  I usually use muslin as a back to layer with the batting and top.  I'm out of muslin at the moment, so I used some more Kona White (I buy it by the bolt so I have plenty!).  I quilted a spiral in the center of the daisy and echo quilted inside and outside the daisy petals.  I used Auriful #2021 for construction and quilting the daisy center and Aurifil #1231 for the rest of the quilting.  The #1231 is a bit lighter than the Peridot, and I think it worked out well.

For the pillow back, I took the rest of the half yard cut of Peridot and cut about 6 1/2" off (the width of my ruler).  I inserted the zipper between this section and the rest of the half yard.  I trimmed the result to 16 1/2" square and sewed it, right sides together with the quilted front using a 3/8" seam on the sides and a 1/2" seam at the corners.  My pillows often have "ears" that are too perky, so I wanted a slightly larger seam at the corners.

So, that's it for me!  What have you been sewing with solids?

April 11, 2014

It's a Process...

Ombre Tulips - 23" x 29"
Thinking ahead to the upcoming Sew Solid Sunday (Apr 13), I wanted to revisit Ombre Tulips from the last edition.

You may recall that I wasn't very happy with the quilting on this little quilt when I finished it.  Several things persuaded me to go ahead and bind it and hang it up in my house.
1)  I wanted to do a hanging sleeve tutorial and this was the perfect sized quilt on which to do that;
2)  I have a blank bathroom wall that desperately needs a bit of spring;
3)  I did not want to have an almost finished quilt hanging around my sewing room taking up space and;
4)  The longer I'm a quilter and the more quilts I make, the more I realize that this is a process, not a destination.

To expand on this last point - I'm trying to improve my free motion quilting skills and just because they aren't where I'd like them to be, I have decided not to be ashamed of that.  Would I enter this quilt in a show?  Definitely not!  However, it is worthy of hanging in my house and bringing a bit of Spring to an otherwise blank wall.

I'm linking up to Amanda Jean's Finish It Up Friday - go check out all the other great finishes!

Hope to see you back here on Sunday for another Sew Solid Sunday!

April 10, 2014

Catching up...

I've been trying to write a blog post for at least a week now!  In addition to the usual sewing and other Esch House Quilts work, lots of other fun things have kept me away.

First, my older daughter was home from college for a week.  It is wonderful to have her back from time to time.  I just know her future holds lots of good things!

Then we had to replace my old car.  It had been on the agenda for a while, but I have quite a few road trips coming up in the next few months, so now was the time.  This is always complicated for us because we have a pop-up camper that we need to be able to tow and I really prefer to drive a car.  I ended up giving in to the marketplace and buying an SUV - a 2008 Mazda CX7.  I'm really happy with our decision and look forward to driving this car for many years (I had my last one for 14 years.)

Machine Applique!
It got it's first outing the day after I bought it when I drove to Cleveland to teach at the OSQE* there.  My Cleveland students were so wonderful and I had lots of fun, despite two days of rain (I kept thinking "at least it isn't snow!").  I managed to squeeze in a visit to two great quilt shops recommended by my IG fans, Abigayle's and Anna's.  There were several others on my list too, but I ran out of time.

Older side and the atrium
I also made a quick visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  I only had a little over an hour to spend there, but I'm so glad I went!  It is a beautiful place and I could have spent the whole day there, but a short visit was better than none.  The architecture of the Museum is interesting - they have a very modern building and a beautiful, classically designed building joined by an amazing atrium/courtyard.

The modern side
This week, my Dad and his wife are in town visiting.  We don't get to see them often because they live in Savannah, GA, so it has been wonderful to spend a bit of time with them.

The rest of the month should be a bit quieter.  As it needs to be if I'm going to get everything ready for Quilt Market in May :)  I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Spring (or late summer/early fall if you're in the southern hemisphere)!

I'll be back on Sunday with the latest Sew Solid Sunday - do you have a solid project to share?

*I'll be teaching at OSQE's in Raleigh, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Tinley Park, IL later this year.

April 1, 2014

Modern Patchwork is coming soon!

I'm so happy that the new Spring 2014 issue of Modern Patchwork is due out later this month.  Modern Patchwork is one of my favorite magazines - there are always so many great projects in each issue.  The previous, Winter, issue had a black and white cover, so I guess they decided to go for color this time :)

I'm pleased to say that my White Diamonds table runner is included in this issue.  The fresh green and crisp white just say spring to me!  I envision a small vase of flowers at the center of each diamond.  Wouldn't that make a pretty centerpiece?  Perfect for a holiday table or a gift - Mother's Day isn't that far off!

You know I'm a huge fan of solids, but I think White Diamonds would look beautiful in so many prints too. Maybe some fresh spring florals or bright geometrics...

You can pre-order Modern Patchwork here in digital or hard copy formats.

March 26, 2014

How to make a 4" hanging sleeve

My quilt guild worlds are happily colliding this summer!  The Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild's biannual quilt show July 26 and 27 will feature a special exhibit of modern quilts by the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild.  I volunteered to do a tutorial on how to make a quilt sleeve for tonight's AAMQG meeting, so I thought I'd share it here as well.

I owe this method to long-time GAAQG member, Carol Riffe, whose instructions I learned from many years ago.  So, let's get started!

1.  Cut or piece a strip of fabric 9" x the width of the quilt.

Step 2
2.  Turn the short ends under twice, toward the wrong side, and stitch in place.

Steps 3 and 4
3.  With the wrong sides together and the long raw edges lined up, stitch a half inch seam.  Press.

4.  Using a long basting stitch, baste along the other long edge ½" from the fold.

Step 5

5.  Center and nest these seam allowances and press the sleeve flat.

Step 6

6.  Pin the sleeve to the quilt back at least ½" from the top edge of the quilt and with the basted seam facing out and the stitched seam against the back of the quilt.

Steps 7 and 8
7.  Hand sew along both long and both short edges, leaving an opening for the hanging rod.
8.  Remove the basting stitches.

Most quilt shows use much larger rods than the small one in the picture here.  The extra fullness in the sleeve helps the quilts hang flatter.  I've also adapted this method to hang quilts in my home using smaller measurements to suit the rod I plan to use.  Now, go enter your quilt in a show!