Thursday, September 26, 2013

Applique the Linda Cantrell Way….

I so enjoyed the Linda Cantrell lecture and was really excited about attending her workshop the next day.   The workshop was called “Self Portrait Quilts” and I wasn’t all that excited about it, thinking that it was going to involve a lot of drawing.  However, she provided patterns for our applique and the workshop was really about various applique techniques.

She talked about fusing quilts and told us that she is currently trying a new technique to stop the fraying.   She is using June Taylor’s “Fray Block”, and painting it on with a small paintbrush……


….AFTER she has fused it to the background piece.  

She also suggested using a Size 60 Machine needle which makes tiny holes and helps prevent fraying.

Now, onto her hand applique lessons…..

She first cuts her pattern out of freezer paper, sometimes ironing two pieces together to make a stiffer pattern.  The pattern is not reversed when it is drawn on which makes it much easier to do.

She then puts the freezer paper pattern on the back of the fabric, placing the dull side to the fabric and the shiny side up. 

Next step is to iron the seam allowance onto the shiny side of the freezer paper.  The edges stick beautifully, making for a neat applique piece…..


On the larger pieces, she goes back and cut’s out the center of the pattern so that only the ironed edges remain…..


The final step is to put all of the pieces together using a fine bead of Elmer’s glue……


She had a great suggestion for using the glue.   First, she takes the cap off of a bottle of glue and cuts of the “Eiffel Tower” on the bottle.  She also trims off the top of the orange tip.  She then takes the tip end off of a  mechanical pencil and inserts it into the orange tip.   The smaller opening from the mechanical pencil allows for a VERY fine bead of glue to be spread……. DSC00844

Linda was AMAZING to watch as she ironed around a 1/4 inch circle…..DSC00875DSC00878

We asked how she kept from getting pointy edges along her curves and she said that she only irons the edge of the seam allowance first and then goes back and presses the rest of the seam allowance down after the fact.

It was great fun to learn yet another way to applique!!!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Discharging the day….


First of all, I need to jump ahead to a post that I haven’t written yet…..

Last week, I took a class from Linda Cantrell and I still haven’t blogged about it, but I want to jump forward to something that she showed and tell how it relates to what I did today.

She showed us two small quilts that she has made…..




She then showed us how she uses  a Clorox Bleach Pen…..


… make the shadings in her vase.  Working with a shape similar to her vase, she uses the small tipped end of the pen to draw onto the fabric.   After a few minutes, the bleach discharges the color in the fabric, leaving a wonderful design (see the brown design on the left)……


Now, let’s fast forward to this afternoon.   I have been looking for another project to try more hand applique and thought that one of these types of wallhangings would be fun to work on and doable to finish.

I started out by searching my computer and the internet for photos of sunflowers, stems and leaves, coming up with these (among others)….











My plan is to make a vase that holds a single sunflower, along with several leaves.  

Next I started looking for vase pictures…..I know that I could draw one pretty easily but always feel more comfortable with having something to look at.   I found this one…


I used my copier and played with all of the patterns until I got it the size that I wanted it.

THEN, I started thinking about Linda’s technique of using the Clorox Bleach pen so, after a quick run to the store, I was ready to give it a try. 

After looking at this design, I decided to try to replicate it by cutting it out as a stencil and using the bleach to take the color out of the fabric.

First step was to cut the template out of freezer paper and carefully iron it onto the fabric.  In this photo, the fabric looks blue, but it is really a deep purple….  DSC01019

I then squeezed out a puddle of bleach and started going over my stencil with a small paintbrush.   The results were instantaneous!!!!DSC01020

I quickly realized that the color would never discharge completely, so I took of the paper and washed the fabric.   Here is the result…..


You can see that I did a bit of bleach doodling around the edges as well!!!

It didn’t look like much until I put the vase outline over it…..



My original thought was to use colored markers to fill in the spaces, but finally decided to simply use a black Pigma pen to add some outlines.   I also added a little bit of color in the flower centers.  Finally, I realized that the contour lines at the top of the vase had spread and gotten too big, so I used another marker to make them slimmer and to add a bit of shadowing…..


The final step was to prepare it for appliqueing, this time using Linda Cantrell’s method of preparation….I will blog about that later….



I am REALLY excited about this result.  Now I guess that I need to go back and finish designing the wallhanging, but in any event, I had a GREAT afternoon!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The hilarity associated with Linda Cantrell


This past week, Linda Cantrell visited my guild and gave a 45 minute talk about her wonderful, comic approach to quilting. 

I first noticed Linda’s quilts MANY years ago at the Houston Quilt Festival when this quilt caught my attention….


I remember spend 15 minutes looking at this quilt, taking in all of the details and enjoying the humorous aspects of the quilt.

As she showed her many quilts, I was truly amazed at the details that she included in each quilt.  Have a look at this one…..


…and then check out some of the details…..DSC00835

One of my favorite pieces was a story quilt of Sunbonnet Sue, starting with her shotgun wedding to Overall Sam, and ending with a true “Cliff Hanger” where she falls off of a cliff and is holding onto a tree branch as a UFO targets her….DSC00818

The story continues in the next quilt where you see Sue sleeping on a park bench under a stack of newspapers (bottom right)!!!DSC00819

This quilt looked into a local diner and pictured the occupants of one booth throughout the hours of the day……DSC00823

As wonderful as her quilts were, her delivery was even better.   We interrupted her several times with applause and all came away with a happy, content feeling about the art of quilting!!!

If you ever have the chance to attend one of her lectures, DO NOT MISS IT!!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Applique the “Piece O’ Cake” way….


Last month I was able to attend a one day workshop presented by Becky Goldsmith of Piece O’ Cake designs.  If you have read this blog for ANY length of time, you will know that I am not big on hand work but I really wanted to spend more time with Becky so decided to take the class.


Becky had a wonderful set up that allowed us to see everything that she did and to easily follow her instructions.

She walked us thru the process of making the templates, marking the fabrics, preparing a layout guide and finally doing the actual sewing.

As we worked thru the day, I  (yes I) started getting excited about trying some hand applique!!!

One of the most interesting things about her presentation was the way that the needle is held……


Now in this photo, I am holding a toothpick, but it allows you to better see how the needle is positioned to make the stitch. 

Per Becky’s suggestion, I am using a stick on thimble pad on my index finger and also have a stick on metal  thimble on the bottom finger…..


The top one is great for stitching and the needle bounces off of the bottom thimble and makes it easier to bring the needle back up thru the fabric.

She also had some needles for us to try and they were wonderful!!!…..


SO, I came home and decided to put it to the test.  

I modified her technique a bit and used freezer paper for my templates rather than encasing the paper templates in laminate and then cutting them out.  I then ironed the template onto the fabric and used a pencil or blue wash-out pen to draw around them…..


Becky also encouraged us to not worry about how wide our line was.  Instead she really wanted us to be able to see it…..


After the pieces are cut out and ready for applique, you start by finger pressing around the drawn line, trying to keep the line as part of the seam allowance…..


The piece is placed on the background, using a pattern drawn onto clear vinyl….


After pinning it in place, you stitch the piece from the top of the applique, working from right to left.  You fold the seam allowance and the left hand holds it in place while you stitch.


Now comes the other of Becky’s great tips……she uses a toothpick to fold the fabric under, sometimes “patting” it in place rather than folding it under.   She encouraged us to wet the toothpick first so it would grab the fabric better.  This is SO much easier than using the needle as it is larger and it also doesn’t tend to shred the fabric as much.

Here is my finished applique piece…

It is by no means perfect, but it is MUCH better than anything that I have ever done before.   I think that it is the use of the toothpick and also the way of holding the needle that has made the difference for me.

One thing that I loved about Becky is that she puts detailed videos on her website so that you can go and easily see her technique.  You might want to check it out at…..

Now to try another piece and see if I can improve my technique!!!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Climbing out from under your quilting stuff….


Last week I received the following email from a friend……

“I tried to get into my sewing room today to straighten it up because I can barely find my Bernina for all the mess.   Who wants to sew when their creative space is in such disarray she can't even find the full spool of white thread she knows she used two weeks ago!!!???

I am finally admitting, I need serious help.  I'm holding on to those tiny scraps that I think I might need for an applique hat on some project in the future. I'm clinging to 1"x3" remnants of fabrics I loved and used at one time.

I'm looking at projects I know for sure I'll never complete and trying to find a place for them on the shelves - valuable real estate that could be used for far more important (not to mention possibly completed) projects.

I need to purge in the worst way and I don't know how to begin.  One scrap at a time isn't going to get the job done.  I know I would be so much more productive if my  sewing room was clean and clear of this fabric baggage I tend to wrap around me and not let go like Aunt Frannie's mangy fur coat.

If anyone has any suggestions/helpful hints of how to make that first bold move to just get rid of stuff, I'd appreciate it. It's ridiculous when your fabric scrap (I mean scraps) collection so voluminous you can't even get to your sewing machine to sew!!!”


Haven’t we all felt that way at some time!!!


I wrote back that I thought the hardest part was to actually throw stuff away, so my suggestion was that she give it to someone else.  I was able to make a few suggestions including giving her tiny scraps to a group of ladies who use them to stuff dog beds for the local animal shelter.

I also told her that several years ago I went thru several BIG boxes of scraps and cut them into usable sizes of strips, squares or rectangles.  I did this based on Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User System .     I did add some other size squares to her list. 

I have these stored in two plastic drawer sets and have used these bits to make several quilts.  I also use the squares a lot when I am needing small pieces for an applique.  Instead of going thru my big pieces of fabrics, I first grab the
squares and see if I can find one that works.   They are easier to go thru and doesn't cause NEARLY as much mess!!


Later in the day, I had about two hours to work in my studio and wasn’t sure what to work on….until my eyes landed on the basket of scraps that needed to be cut down…..


My first step was to pull out all of the larger pieces, iron them and cut them into strips.

The next day, I finished up by cutting squares and rectangles.   The final result of my labors looked like this…..


The basket at the back contains the little string bits that will be put into dog beds and the small stack on the back right went into my “string piecing” drawer.

I am so glad that my friend ask the question because it made me think about what I needed to do too!!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

One last post about Texas….


As we were leaving the great state of Texas, we passed my favorite rest stop… that just says “you are in TEXAS”!!!!


I have always loved the oil derrick covered picnic tables…..guess I will see them the next time we drive across!!

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