Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cleaning Your Iron

I prefer to work with appliqued elements on my quilt projects. And, my favorite technique is still machine fused applique using Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 fusible web. Therefore, this gives me the added task of ensuring my iron stays away from that sticky fused residue.

But, does it.....

Simply, no.
So here is what I do to keep my iron clean, longer.

Keeping It All Clean

Method One... 

I know there are great products on the market to keep that iron base clean; however, it isn't usually the thing I think about when out shopping. And... I would still rather spend my money on fabric!!

So, when I need to clean my iron; and I either don't want to spend money for it or am not near a store to buy some. I head down to the kitchen and get the Comet and a damp cloth. I've used this method a few times and am very happy with the results.

Here is my proof on all this...


PS.. I also used the Comet on my green cutting mat, and it took off a lot of black marks and grit. I have no idea what one should use to clean them, but this did work.

Method Two... 

Since all things still do get dirty even after our best effort and wishing it wasn't so.... that iron will still give it's best effort at ironing and pressing our projects. And in the process, will pick up whatever it comes in contact with, such as: pencil, ink, or fusible web.

Sometimes it just has a hissy fit and sputters out water when the steam feature is used. So if or when any of this stuff happens, I've adopted another way to keep both fabric and iron clean.....

by using a pressing cloth. I have some thin, white cotton fabric that never gets picked for any quilt projects. Now, it works perfectly as a pressing cloth. If you look on the photo, I placed an "x" in the top corner to show you that it's important to mark the right side. This way, it always faces up; not allowing the iron to mess up the fabric or the fused applique pieces from messing up the iron.

Generally, one wouldn't think the pressing surface would get so dirty, but it does. If all we used our irons for, was pressing freshly laundered clothing, that may be so. However, it's all that other stuff we prefer to use the iron for; creates opportunity for this to happen.
Now, all I need to clean are those quilting gloves.  Haven't ever remembered to look at the package instructions or go online to see how to clean them.   ....perhaps one day I'll get to that as well.

Hang in there, and happy crafting!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Applique Stitches

Have you ever tried fused machine applique—on a quilt project? I’ve collected some of my work; and with these images, want to demonstrate the various stitching methods and thread colors that can be used. You may use only one stitching method or a combination of these stitches on your project.

Here is how easy it is to create beautiful designs.

Buttonhole Stitch:

This is a favorite stitch for finishing up the edges of the raw-edge fused applique method. It can be done by hand or by machine. Some people like to do it in the traditional color of black; however, any color can be used, as it depends on what project goals are in mind. 

I love experimenting with thread color and so have done it using different colors, such as: black, green. Generally, I like using green for floral designs and plant life; and black for most other designs. If you don't like the black, as shown below, then choose other colors.
Coneflower--buttonhole stitch
Appliqued with all green thread.

Butterfly--buttonhole stitch
Appliqued with all black thread.


Holly and Ivy--combines buttonhole and zigzag stitching
Leaves-green thread; Berries-red thread
Images: The holly and ivy design was all done by machine. For those curvy lines, I just used a straight stitch and went over the lines twice. 


Applique Stitch:

Another stitch that is similar to the buttonhole stitch; it is called the applique stitch. I have this one on my sewing machine. It is a bit less bulky, and is also a faster method because it uses less back and forth stitches in the process of creating each stitch.

This stitch I have done using a variety of colors and they all look great in the design. The thread color can match the applique piece; or be in contrasting colors, such as: white on black, red on red, black on any color. 

Orange heart--applique stitch
Blue/Green tulip--buttonhole stitch
Green/Yellow leaves--zigzag stitch

Hexagons--applique stitch
Appliqued with all green thread.
Hexagon snowman--applique stitch
Appliqued with all white thread.

Images: The hexagon blocks are from Block of the Month 2012 on Craftsy.
If you find creating hexagons too difficult on your hands or like that method, as little as I do; why not use a machine stitching to attach to your quilt.

Zigzag Stitch:

The zigzag stitch is a favorite stitch to use, as well, for applique designs. All machines have this stitch, and so if your machine doesn’t have the buttonhole or other applique stitches on it; you can still finish fused applique designs with stunning results.

It is the quickest stitch and allows one to finish up a quilt block with much greater speed. This may be one factor in choosing this stitch. My experience confirms that it can also be a great stitch to use when the applique piece has many curves or bends in it, as it can much more easily go around these shapes. The finished results feel smooth to the touch and can be a better choice, if you want a delicate result. 

Ghost--combines buttonhole and zigzag stitching
Appliqued with all black thread.

Orange blossom--zigzag stitch
Appliqued with thread matching fabric colors.


Peony--zigzag stitching
Appliqued with a variety of thread matching fabrics.

The quilt blocks for my "Flag Quest" designs will be appliqued with a variety of colors and using the zigzag stitch as shown on the Peony. These will be showcased later in another project. 
I wanted to show you how these stitches can make any design beautiful; and when you consider your next quilting project; perhaps you’ll be able to give this applique method a try.

For a quick little project, check out my mouse pad mini quilts on “My Craftsy Store”. Along with one free pattern, there are a variety of designs to choose from with more coming soon.

Hang in there, and happy crafting!!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Star of David

Creating the Star of David 

To create the Star of David on the ISRAEL flag. Make the star from two equal-sided triangles.
(A)  Draw a line 1 3/4" long. (shown in blue)
(B)  Find the center of this line and draw a hatched line straight up from center at approximately the same distance.  (shown in red)
(C)  Mark a point on this hatched line at 1 3/4" from line A.
(D)  Draw a line from each end of your bottom straight line (A) to meet with the point you made.  (shown in red)
(E)  Then, draw three parallel lines about 1/8" away on the inside of the triangle to give it thickness.  (shown in blue)
(F)  Lastly, cut out the inner section to complete the triangle. Use this to make your two triangles for the Star of David.

Please Note:
This diagram is for illustration purposes only. It may not be to scale.
Continue the journey with me, next time... as we discover more flag styles.
Hang in there, and happy crafting!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flag Quest Pattern

Do you like seeing your country’s flag blowing in the breeze? This design will allow that perfect image to flow under your mouse; each time you work at your computer and travel that universal network.

P   A warm and cozy place for your mouse to work and sleep when you are away.
P  Choose the pattern that best reflects your country's flag for you; and get two variations, in the pattern.
P  Add creativity; and produce your own unique mini quilt for your computer station. 

When I originally created this one, I did not know it would be such a fun experience to change the design to reflect so many world flags. The additional styles were fun to create and will be used in a new project.

I have changed my mind (several times now) on how I will sell them. Instead of the complete set of twelve, as shown below, I am going to offer some of them as individual designs. This allows the purchase price to be more compatible with the other mouse pad patterns.

After I publish a few; it will be up to individuals to request additional designs. This will free up my time for new ideas that are waiting to be tried. It also will allow me to just add those that would be of interest.

I also am not adding the Mouse Pad Collection logo to these patterns, as I've decided they can be used for either a mouse pad mini quilt or used as designs in other quilt projects. They will be getting a brand new cover.


As the theme of these mini quilts was originally to showcase how to make our computer station more quilt friendly; I designed “cat and mouse” and “mac and me”. The third one to fit into this technology theme was inspired by the Windows logo. From its bright colors and flowing style; my flag design was born. It's now ready for that twist to...

[Canada -- template pieces]


Create Your Own
So—get ready to go on your own quest—choose the template pieces and fabric colors that best fit your country’s flag; add creativity, and produce your own personal mini quilt. Or, perhaps, you wish to use pieces that remind you of where you’d like to journey to on your next adventure; whether real or imaginary. Feel free to embellish this one, as you wish, with both plain and printed fabrics.

Hang in there, and happy crafting!!


Friday, April 5, 2013

Special Sewing Day

I love the thought that I can still experience new ‘firsts’ in my life. This one was spent with my granddaughter; sewing up some projects she had requested. She loved helping me pick out fabrics, arranging stuff on my tables, and tidying up our workspace.

She really was impressed with how quick and easy a more complex design can be created. Our first blanket was the checkerboard pattern. With the leftover strips, I made the matching pillow.
Initially, it was a blanket and pillow for her little kitty. Then, she thought more pillows would be fun for her other special friends. Not wanting to waste the pieces we didn’t use, more blankets were made.

Here are the results of those happy hours we spent at my sewing machine, this week.


[Blankets and Pillows with Kitty]

[All Projects]


While I was finishing the sewing on the second day, she created some cute items with scrap fabrics and straight pins. Most of them are bugs, with others being baskets and boats. Aren’t they cute!

[Creative Bugs with Straight Pins]


We had also worked on a cover strip for a plastic jar; that just may become a piggy bank. This was a great project to show her how fused applique can decorate the fabric; and we used cat silhouettes in a colorful selection of fabrics.

[Cat Appliques on Fabric Strip]


She inspired me; and knowing that we’d do this again. My thoughts went to how I could rearrange my work space to accommodate her presence better.  By the time the day was done, we had a new arrangement and we both look forward to our next sewing adventure.


Hang in there, and happy crafting!!