Saturday, March 30, 2013

SPRING Dimensional Swag

 Busy with thoughts of SPRING, this paper & ribbon swag celebrates
many of the symbols that signal the beautiful days ahead.
Here you see the full ensemble, featuring two styles of pennants
to display cap block letters in a collection of emerging colors
that measures 36" end to end.
All of the designs used on this project come from
those clever designers at Snapdragon Snippets 
which are available from Silhouette America's online store.

 At each end, the pennants are flanked by a pair of 
gigantic slice-form strawberries with realistic pip shapes cut into the half-face. Hanging even longer is a graceful 
four-petal tulip. To the  fruits and flowers I have added 
simple wire "vines" or wrapped "stem" to allow the cluster to extend downward from the end knots of jute string, netting, and varied ribbons.

 At the center hangs a miniature nest with plastic commercial bird eggs in a tiny twig nest. These are cushioned by natural Spanish moss nestled in a scalloped paper bowl and suspended on metallic netting.

If it is fair play to have a favorite among so many outstanding shapes, the water can would be the one I choose. Though it looks complex, it really goes together very quickly and intuitively. I added a few details to make this rendition personal: contrast smaller circle behind the perforated spout plate; colored brads at the upper handle ends; pink daisy with layered button center.

(See the water can construction sequence in the instructive tutorial at 3 Under 3 And More:

Half of a dimensional umbrella is another shape that dangles from the swag. Pink pearl beads glued near the fold "center" help the slice-form shapes stay in position. Below, three super-sized raindrops are connected to the "invisible" transparency sheet cut triangle that keeps them in place, too.

SIMPLIFY? Once again I have failed to keep my creativity in check. Perhaps you would leave some of these elements off, but in case you are interested to incorporate any of these in your seasonal projects, below is a list of the files I used.

collegiate letters
layered banners
3D umbrella (modified)
april charms (modified)
3d water can
3d tulip
3d bowl scallop
3d strawberry
faux stitched daisy (modified)


Monday, March 25, 2013

Three Quick Easter Projects

The Easter celebration is such an important time for me. 
But since it shifts around according to "new moons" and the Jewish calendar, etc., 
it has rushed in faster than usual this year, it seems. 
I have completed three projects, two with a more religious flavor, 
and one that is secular and more whimsical.

 TAG & PEN COMMENT BOARD is a way to start the thoughtful celebration of Easter Week. "...the tomb was EMPTY: what Easter means to me..." was text designed, a double layer frame (with dark back layer showing through letter cutouts) arranged around it, comment tags and ink pen provided for family members or visitors to think and share a thought. A personal approach to a very personal event.

This wrought iron standing easel frame was made for an 8x10 photograph,  but substitutes well here as the display space for a two-layer paper cutout. Text combines with a very graceful iris (or perhaps it is the lily that I was hoping for).

And finally, a colorful container filled with plastic painted eggs. The metal bin came from a thrift store for two dollars, and was a great reason to re-work a previous decor set. 3D carrot trio from Snapdragon Snippets dangle enticingly from the 3-layer "Happy Easter" saying, complemented by colorful plaid and burlap ribbon banding.

If you find your time short, too, 
perhaps one or two quick projects are still possible 
to celebrate the Easter season.

Friday, March 15, 2013

April On the Docket Tutorial

 This extensive tutorial shows construction steps for this mini quilt in the month-by-month series. Information about purchasing this pattern is available at .

Begin by making a regular weight photocopy of the April machine paper foundations (mpf) page, then trimming out one of each sections 1-3 just BEYOND the outer "final trim" solid lines.

Next, use a folding tool such as a bookmark or postcard or very thin ruler to crease each section along ALL of the interior solid stitching lines. To do this, position the straight edge accurately along a solid line on the front of the section. Then fold the paper back and crease against the guide edge.

NOTE that the paper is folding print side to print side.

On the front of the mpf diagram section 1, identify patch 1 and its designated fabric (background). Cut a patch roughly a generous 1/4" larger than the strip required. (NOTE that this shape would need to be REVERSED from the shape shown on the print side of diagram. A simple rectangle will work for this patch.)

Use fabric glue stick to position and attach the BACKSIDE of the fabric to the BACKSIDE of the paper.

Next, turn the foundation over so that the fabric is face side DOWN. Fold paper back along each of the crease lines that bound its shape - this time 4 sides.

This image shows the crease along the patch #3 side. An "Add-A-Quarter" ruler is being used. It has a 1/4" ridge on the underside that can be abutted next to the crease to assist a quick and accurate cut.

(Right) From the front side, identify patch #2 and its fabric (dark pink). Also identify the STITCHING line which is between #1 and #2. Fold the paper back on that line, keeping the #2 area as the top layer.

(Left) Identify the target patch that is being added so it can be positioned in the next step. This image shows patch #2 outlined in red, along with the 1/4" seam allowance extension beyond the creased edge.

Cut an oversized patch for #2, or a strip as shown here (and often included in the kit this way). Lay fabric for #2 FACE side UP on the table. Next, position the folded diagram with patch area #2 on the TOP-most surface (fortunately so it can be easily seen). Adjust the position of the paper (with fabric attached) so that the creased area-defining shape is WITHIN the edges of the fabric below that is being added. Also position so there is 1/4" for the seam allowance beyond the crease edge.

Without allowing any shifting, CAREFULLY unfold the paper diagram so it lays flat. (From the previous image to this, the diagram was unfolded toward the right.)

Carefully pick up the work and take it to the sewing machine. Use a straight pin through paper and two fabric layers, if necessary.

Adjust machine stitch length to about half of what you normally stitch with for regular patchwork seaming.

This allows for a secure seam when working with miniaturized, intricate designs which may require narrower seam allowance trim. It also perforates the paper so that it can more easily be removed later.

Insert the needle 3 stitches BEFORE. Stitch EXACTLY along the solid line between patch #1 and patch #2. Stitch to the end of the line, then stitch only 3 stitches BEYOND the end of the line.

No need to stitch a full 1/4" beyond line end, since extra stitches will be pulled undone as the process continues.

Turn the work over and press patch #2 back. It will now be in position behind the #2 area where it needs to be.

You can double-check this by raising the diagram with print side toward you with a light source behind. Light showing through will show where patch #2 fabric is in relation to the diagram lines.

 Place work face down on cutting mat. Fold paper back at creases, one by one, to trim excess fabric 1/4" beyond crease. This trim step shows excess fabric #2 strip being trimmed . . .
. . . and this image shows a second crease line folded and being trimmed. 

 Continue in the same process for each successive patch, in sequence: identify patch by number, identify fabric required, then fold back on crease/seamline between patches already in place and the patch being added, position over FACE-UP fabric, etc.

For patches that lie along the paper section edges where a straight grainline is preferable, visualize straight grain parallel to straight edges of paper, then position accordingly. Here the grainlines have been drawn onto the backside to demonstrate. Patch shown red outlined is positioned so marked grainlines mirror the grain of fabric strip beneath.
Unfold, (pin), carry to sewing machine, stitch on target line between 1/2 and 3.  NOTE that since one end of this line and seam continues to the edge of the diagram, stitching will either begin at the paper edge, or continue off of the paper edge (depending on how the section is presented at the sewing machine. 

Trim around patch leaving 1/4" beyond creased bounding lines. At the edge of the diagram, fabric(s) can be trimmed just a little beyond the paper cut edge.

 Continue in sequence to add patch 4 and the remainder of patches, identifying. . . folding at target seamline crease . . . positioning over selected fabric face up on work surface . . .unfolding and carrying to sewing machine . . .
 . . .stitching 3 stitches before and after the line ends . . .
. . . and pressing back from the right side. Then trim by creasing on bounding lines and leaving 1/4" beyond creased edges.

 Remember when adding patches that fall at paper section edges and corner to follow the grainline identifying and positioning. This will help the patchwork be more stable (avoids bias grainline at section edges which is stretchy) and follows conventional piecing grainline more closely.

This image shows patch #10.
 When all fabrics are attached and in position, use a rotary ruler and cutter to trim excess paper and fabric at section edges. Place the pieced section FACE DOWN on rotary mat and carefully cut exactly on  OUTER solid line.

Transfer stem embroidery guideline to front side of fabric with temporary marking tool BEFORE removing paper.
Leave paper in place until all sections are completed and the joining into the whole panel will happen soon. 

Remove paper by working backward from HIGHEST number. Fold paper back along stitching line, tear away at perforations. Continue to handle the patchwork as gently as possible.

Re-adjust the machine stitch length to NORMAL.
Prepare the handle by following the instruction step in the pattern. This image shows the sequence. 
1.) Position one small background square with traced diagonal corner-to-corner pencil lines on BACKSIDE, aligned in the upper corner as shown; 2.) Stitch on* the line; 3.) Press corner layers back toward handle strip; 4.) Trim excess corners 1/4" beyond stitching. 5.) Position second square and repeat the stitching, pressing and trimming.

* Best stitching position is NEXT to the traced line on the corners side of line.

The handle section has one more small patch joined to the top. (See instructions in column on left on pattern.)

Prepare Section 3 by folding on stitching solid lines, and on positioning lines for the H and V folded strips.

Position and attach fabric for Patch #1. Here I have folded back all the surrounding patches so that I can ensure fabric adequately "covers" area for patch #1. Glue stitch in place, as usual.

 Use folding tool to add creases to the fabric at the H and V positioning guidelines.
Cut the H (horizontal) and V (vertical) basket strips following the information on printed on the diagram (being pointed to).

Also find the strip positioning and weaving information parallel with the right side of the diagram (under other fingers in this image).

 Press both H and V strips by folding long edges so meet at the approximate center back.

H strip on the left at top has first edge pressed only.
Position the H strips between horizontal creases over patch #1. 

This image shows that I have made guideline bracket lines to the right and along the bottom so that I will place the strips between the correct "pairs" of creases.

Baste (or glue-stick) strips ends in place. 

Next weave the V strips, beginning with center inserted under-over-under-over, then positioned between creases. Pin (or glue-stick) ends in place, then repeat for side strips.

Join patches #2 and #3 at basket side edges as done previously.

For COMBO patches 3 & 4, follow instructions (near beginning) to cut basket 2 orange strip and background squares, join with regular seams as shown. Next, cut the section into two 1" unit strips as shown. 

This Combo Unit will be used at top of basket (Combo patch 4).

This stitched-again unit will be used at bottom of basket (Combo patch 5).

Attach full unit for Combo 4 at basket upper edge, following the regular procedure to fold diagram and position target area #4 over strip unit, with interior short lines aligned over unit seams.

Attach narrower unit for Combo 5, stitch 1/4" inside of previous end stitching, trim excess to 1/4". Join as for Combo 4. 

Add the bottom strip #6 to complete section 3.

Remove all paper from sections. Adjust machine stitching. Join Sections 1 & 2 on appropriate side edges of handle pieced unit. Press seams toward center. Join Section 3 below.

Anchor embroidery thread on backside, bring to front, then complete chain stitched stem.

This image shows the embroidery stitch in progress.

Add the borders, then complete the layering, machine quilting and binding of the mini quilt. (Note in this image and the next that quilting lines are added at the centers of all the H and V reeds.) 

The final detail is a batting and fabric circle cut with a decorative edge (here with scalloped pinking shears). Attach with button at base of handle.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Act Upon These Values" Fabric Kit Chart - Quilts, Etc.

Here is the fabrics chart for the kit available for purchase from Quilts, Etc. for the project
"ACT UPON THESE VALUES"  Young Women's Wall Quilt
Spring 2013
Information regarding the purchase of this pattern can be found
on the website

April On the Docket Kit Chart - Quilts, Etc.

Here is the chart to decipher the fabrics in the kit being sold by Quilts, Etc. for
Spring 2013
Information regarding the purchase of this pattern through the mail
can be found on the website.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"LUckY" Letter Box Ensemble for St. Patrick's Day

 I have always enjoyed the approach of St. Patrick's Day  
beauuse it meant that Spring would be here in no time. 
But not until my clever son-in-law entered our lives did I realize how much fun 
this celebration could be. Now that he is one of the creative forces 
on the Snapdragon Snippets design team, it seems only fitting to put together 
a letter box ensemble dedicated to the "Irish" in all of us!

See how many symbols of LUCK festoon this creation! Nearly all are from the Snapdragon Snippets offerings in the Silhouette online store. (Perhaps YOU already own some - wouldn't that by LUCK-y!)

Letter 'L' comes first, with celtic knot shapes adorning the accent shape on the front. A trio of shamrocks arches above it. This shape was created from a card adornment, replicated, overlapped and welded. A separate outline shape of the trio is created as an internal offset, cut from Silhouette's double-sided adhesive, applied and then glitter-ized.

 U comes second, and I will admit this is the one I had the most mental fun with. Should it be a horseshoe? Wait -- what about the "pot of gold"? I added clear mylar shapes to the assembled box front and back, with black duplicate face shapes to enclose those plastic layers. The interior cavity thereby created was filled with novelty gold coins (from JoAnn Fabrics). Small green brads were planned into the design early, so holes were punched into the face shape prior to the layering.

In the middle is the "argyle" C, with swirly four-leaf clover. Tiny heart shape plus a smaller adhesive/glitterized heart has button "holes" added to make a center accent.
 K thinks it is the STAR of this show! 3D leprechaun hat (sized larger from original file size) rests at a jaunty angle, with emerald-plaid bowtie and wrapped band contributing a dressed-up aire. Arching below is the four-striped rainbow.

Y is the caboose, fanci-fied with more double-sided adhesive, cut as two shamrock swirls that are adhered and trimmed to size before the glitter is added. Enlarged horseshoe "charm" hangs from the Y's arm as the final bit of luck. Note that it is turned up to catch lots of good "fortune". In fact, now that I think of it, when that shape is added, it actually makes this ensemble say:

"Lucky YOU"!

All the letters are created as "lid" plus "base" from bazzill card stock, assembled, boxed, hot glued together, embellished, then hot glued to a decorative paper-covered base of foam core.

Shapes used: (from Snapdragon Snippets)
letter boxes L U C K Y
3d leprechaun hat
a2 card (shamrock for welded trio)
background shamrocks (Y flourish)
swirly shamrock
bow - narrow (bowtie)
(from other designers) pot of gold (rainbow)
celtic knot shapes (coming soon from new designer)