Monday, 5 September 2011

The Stencil Option

Making Peaceful Pathways?
Have you considered the stencil option for your verses? Here's how I made mine:

From the pattern, trace the verses on a sheet of freezer paper which has been cut down to size.  With a cutting matt and scalpel, cut away the letters. Keep the letter insides where required and set aside, you will need these to complete your letters when ironing onto the fabric.

When you have cut away all your verses, iron them onto your background fabric. Use a hot iron - no steam, and ensure that all the edges are securely fixed down onto the fabric. You don't want any paint leakage when you begin to stencil.

When all your stencils are ironed to your fabric, it's time to paint the stencils. I have chosen a clear red without blue undertones. You can see the two reds here. As the fabrics I will be using in this quilt are not blue-reds, I have opted for a clear red hue for my verses.

You can stencil with any appropriate acrylic / fabric paint and textile medium, according to the manufacturer's directions. I use Permaset Aqua Fabric Magic. This paint does not require additional textile mediums and is an environmentally friendly textile ink.

The two reds here are: Mid red and Bright Red. The mid red has blue undertones and I have used the Bright Red in this case. These pigments won't fade or wash away and are considered to last as long as commerically printed fabric.

Stenciling is straight forward. The most important step to remember is that your brush should always be a little on the dry side and that it is better to build up colour gradually, remember - you are not painting and your brush should not be heavily coated. Saturating the stencil in colour will result in leaking and smears. Work as dry as you can.

Before painting in the stencil, always work a little product off onto some scrap fabric or paper toweling to blot off any excess paint.

Dab a little onto the freezer paper first, to ensure that it is not too wet. Build up the colour gradually as you work.

Then leave the stencil to dry about 2 minutes, it should be almost dry.

Now gently peel the stencil away from your fabric carefully

Some paints require a curing period of up to several hours prior to heat setting. With Permaset this is not required, so within a few minutes of peeling away the stencil, heat set your paint by ironing over the paint for several minutes with a hot dry iron. Your stencil is now set and is permanent.

Remember to cover the stencil with grease / parchment paper to protect your iron!

Now the stencils are heat set and permanent, it's time to get them into position. In this picture below, you can see the stenciled fabric and the template pattern behind.

DO NOT PRESS your block with the paper behind it from this point on as the graphite may transfer onto your lovely white block!

Using AURIFIL thread (this is a heavier thread used for embroidery), and a plain stitch on my machine, I followed the lines of the template and simply stitched over them. I released the top tension on my machine (because this thread is thicker) and it stitches beautifully without knots or shredding. It's a delight to work with. And I stitched 2 lines very close together to create a thicker line.

I used the printed template as a paper pattern to directly stitch over.

And to achieve this thickness, I actually stitched 2 lines very close together

Now, the inner text is framed in red according to the pattern, which is how I wanted it. You'll notice that I have stitched another line around it in white, following the template. This extra line is for my own personal margins, it shows me where to add a seam allowance to finish this block when I come to set it into the borders.

 For many of us, quilts are personal undertakings, and I am no different. Although I have been stenciling for a few years and am able to cut smooth flowing script, you'll have probably noticed the the text in these blocks is not perfect. However, I believe in the perfection of imperfections and in this case it is a sentimental imperfection for me - this is because I had my DD cut them out for me. I wanted her to do this and as you can see, she has never stenciled before! Therefore, some of the lines are jagged instead of smooth, so they do require some neatening up.

You can go back in with a toothpick and the original pigment ink if there is a larger
gap. You can also use Fabrico or Sharpie or Faber Castell Indian Ink in red or black. Basically, fill in the jagged and missed lines to make it as neat as cursive as possible.

I have not heavily corrected the text lines as I intend to sew over them at the quilting stage.

The red inner line to set the text, the white outer line to mark the boundary and then, I cut inside the last black outline (see template). Always measure twice and cut once and don't cut if you are unsure.

It is not necessary to cut this block down to size yet. I have been generous with allowances on this block as I know many quilters are embroidering and this shrinks the fabric down. My red stitching line didn't pull in, however it is a straight line. If you embroider or zig zag, you will have to test and re-measure. The template gives you 1/8th more.

This finished block measures 6.5 x 8.5inches with seam allowances, ready for setting into the border later.

A note on stenciling:
I used Permaset and the curing / iron times apply to this pigment only.
I have previously used and can recommend Jo Sonja Artist Paints and Textile Medium
There are lots of new products on the market, including paint stitcks, fabric fast pencils and crayons that will work just as well. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Stenciling is not a new technique, it is an old fashioned heirloom technique that is present in some of the oldest known quilts. It's definitely a method worth trying. If you are interested, why not try stenciling my Tulip Delight Table Runner - (on the sidebar) I have this project on offer for free.

Why not give it a go?

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

WOW: the dreaded FLU

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

This year is shaping out to be busier than I thought; full days working at my 'hobby' and there's still so much to do and get done.

There are so many exciting things to get started on, that the last thing I wanted to WOW was this: this week I am recovering from the dreaded FLU. Lots of raw honey from the comb, lemon, tea and rest.

My Peaceful Pathways Stencil Tutorial will be up in the next day or so. I have snapped it, but it's sitting to the side for today.

I had my inexperienced DD cut the stencils (to demonstrate that really, anyone can try this method) and all 12 are now almost done. I am still going to stitch in the set frame.

Last night I managed to neaten her amateur lines (as her cutting wasn't as precise as I am used to...) but I had to go to bed after doing just this single one...

Always Perseveres? Well ....tries to anyhow...

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

IQC: Sunshine & Shadow

This is my post from the IQC Blog which I am a part of

I already have a quilt called Sunshine & Shadow, which was made around a light and shadow design, so this quilt has been on my mind a lot - whenever I talk or think about the challenge.

It's just about September already and the year is really turning out to be busier than I could have imagined, so I have had to just launch in. Actually I reviving previous thouhgts about shade and light. My challenge work (untitled at this stage) is started, I am also working from a photo for this challenge (which I have just misplaced yesterday...)

I especially liked the idea Annabel raised when she was discussing the challenge theme, concerning shadow being a degree of absence rather than a void.

 I am absolutely
 going to finish this challenge
on time

Monday, 29 August 2011

Getting Ready With Reds

To Test or Not To Test?
There's really no question....

Who's making Peaceful Pathways?? There are many of you out there who pre-wash as a matter of course for all your quilts. For those of you who usually don't pre-wash (such as myself), I strongly suggest that you should pre-test all fabrics to check for colour fastness when working with reds. I am one of those quilters who does not pre-wash as a general rule - however, when working with reds, I always pre -test and go on to pre-wash if required.   

I love classic red and white...but this is a combination that requires extra care. Any colour bleeding is difficult to deal with (but can be avoided), so you want to make sure all your reds are colour fast before you launch into cutting and sewing.

This is how I test my reds before I start sewing

Select the reds you are planing to use and stitch them alongside some crisp white fabric.

use washing detergent and boiling water, and add each fabric option to this solution - individually.

If you add all your red tests in together at once, and you do experience running, you wont know which fabric is responsible, so repeat the process for each selected fabric.

Agitate the fabric in the soapy solution and leave it alone - about 30 minutes.

Clear water is the best sign.

If the water is stained, set the fabric aside and repeat this process. The second time around is to find out whether the fabric will continue to bleed...or whether it is stable after the first wash and rinse.

If the fabric does bleed, wash again until you achieve clear water. Then assess the fabric - is it still a nice shade of red? still a clear print? If it still bleeds after the second test, leave this fabric out of your quilts. Some fabrics continue bleeding and it's easier to discard them now than suffer the annoyance of bleeding later.

All fabric should rinse clear by the second test.

All fabrics should be colour tested - especially reds.
Fabrics that bleed must be pre-washed prior to use.
Fabrics which do not bleed - prewashing is optional, in my own opinion and practice.

Here are my reds. Once they are squeezed of excess water, I patted them down on a towel in preparation for a vigorous ironing test.

...if my cat will give up enough ironing board space...

Use a hot steam iron and press all the fabric to check for any leakage or running.

This is where the stitched white fabric is so important - press open the seams and inspect. You want to make sure there is no bleed in or around the seams.

This fabric is colour fast. You can see the seams are spotless and there is no colour run into the white. Ah, perfect! If only all reds were this easy...

I created a production line testing all my reds this way...

Now I am left with reds which I know are colour fast. And I have tested them alongside crisp white fabric, so I am confident that my red and white quilt will stay red and white - in all the right places.

As you can see, I tested small swatches which I cut from my chosen fabrics. As I know they don't run and are completely colour fast, I will not be pre-washing my reds prior to sewing as it is completely unnecessary for me. I am one of those quilters who doesn't pre-wash as matter of course.

Pre- colour testring means that in the future, I can wash my red quilt (this is especially important for useful quilts such as bed quilts) without that worry in the back of my mind that it might come out of the washing machine pinkish.

Quilts we make today might be around for generations, so any extra time taken in preparation is definitely worth the effort.

Always colour test your reds

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

WOW: the morning after

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

My WIP today is getting back into the swing of things
It's the morning after a long day of car driving. How long? 1400 kms in a day!

Can you guess where we drove to? This is a random picture taken whilst we were having a about to go back again coffee. Yes, the ACT (on essential but uneventful family business). No art or quilts I'm afraid. Actually I didn't even go to the Capitol Theatre, it was just located outside the cafe we stopped at and I was fiddling with my phone when this random picture snapped. I don't have any photos of the trip as it was so fast paced. Today, at some point, I will unpack the car. I haven't got to it yet. The boot is full and we are all too tired. I have much to do, so I seriously need to get back into my routine and

UPDATE: 10:04 Typing this post has encouraged me to venture to the driveway and take a pic. Why? did? I? Pack? my? design? journal?? Are quilter's eternal optimists?

Friday, 19 August 2011

Making HST's... fast!

This is how I quickly create Half Square Triangles (HST) using a paper method. Those of you making Peaceful Pathways Block 1 (my BOM), this is the method I used.
There are many ways to create HST: this is just 1 way. There are pre-paper printed sheets you can purchase, or you can trace a triangle template to make it the traditional way.
I like to do things as simply, quickly and as economically as possible. Above all though– it must be accurate! This method is accurate and simple if followed correctly. There’s no need to trim after cutting.
If you try this method, make 1 sheet first and then measure for accuracy to ensure that you are doing it right.
Also ensure that your stitches are shortened, approx. 1.8 stitch length
Now, in this tutorial, we are using the pattern sheet printed on A4 which is included in my Peaceful Pathways (BOM) pattern.
Firstly, cut away excess paper from around the pattern.

Making HST's fast

Cut 2 fabric pieces (red and white) slightly larger than the pattern. Place right sides of fabric together.

This is a picture of the trimmed paper template and pinned into position

Sew along the indicated red lines (sew directly over the paper pattern) and then turn and press the back of your piece with a dry iron to set the seams on the back of the fabric.
Note: the ink from the pattern transferred to my ironing board during this process (as it is facing down during this step), so I recommend using parchment paper beneath (or simply do what I do - iron down a sheet of freezer paper during sewing sessions to keep your board perfectly clean for your DH's shirts!)

Trim all the edges. You can’t see it but the fabric is beneath this pattern. Cut on all black lines with a rotary cutter and ruler.

These are cut apart pieces

Press open towards the darker side with papers still attached

Trim off the tiny triangle ears protruding

Remove papers

Measure your HST – it should be perfect. In no time at all, you finished 12 perfect 12 x HST (with seam allowance). How great is that?
Peaceful Pathways calls for 360 x HST which equals 30 x A4 paper templates with 12 HST on a sheet. So after this one, you only have 29 to go. You can make all 360 in a single afternoon.

What could be more enjoyable to do on a sewing afternoon? Easy! Perfect!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

WOW: Hex Again !

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

This week I am still stitching my crochet hex scarf together. This scarf has already taken me longer than my entire shawl took to knit. I keep putting it down…and finding it again a few days later. So, whilst I still have cool evenings to wear it, I might actually try to finish it this week…you know, eventually…
Right now it’s looking like this-

it’s at that tedious joining together stage. I have gone for joining on the front side as I liked the texture of having the hex’s joined this way…then I changed my mind and considered Y stitching them seamlessly….but returned here. Now I am sticking to it.

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