Owl Quilt-Along with Amy: Week 3

Wheee! This week's (September 26) quilt-along video was fun. After stabilizing the quilt in week 2 with stitch in the ditch quilting (SID) using my AcuFeed SID foot (my machine's built-in version of a walking foot), it was finally time to play with free motion quilting.

Don't you just love his googley-eyed face?

You can catch the replay of the live video on the Amy's Quilting Adventures FB page. It's right at an hour long and I talk about the choices I make for the quilting while I make them. I also talk about a few basics of setting up for free motion in general, and then some details about setting up for free motion quilting on the Janome 9400. Then I quilt the entirety of this owl on camera.

He was pretty straightforward to quilt, mostly just outlining the different shapes but getting a bit creative with the feathers on his tummy and adding some highlights to that multicolored print at the tips of his wings. I kept the lines "sketchy" meaning they don't need to be right on top of the printed lines. This made it easier to stitch, to stay relaxed, be fun, and I think it fit the aesthetic of the panel.

I'm still using the dark violet thread so most of the stitching is pretty visible unless on the violet or black printed areas. I stitched up some freehand clamshell-like feathers for his belly and if you look closely, you can see a bit of the white pencil I used as reference lines. I started with two rows of clamshells and then went to one row per line as the feathers got bigger. I also began to curve the lines to follow the curve of his tummy.

I am sorry that we ran out of this panel so quickly. I had no way to know how many of you would want to join in and since the panel is stinkin' cute, the fabric company ran out after my second re-order. We do still have quite a bit of the below companion print if you need something for your backing.

The response to this quilt-along has been wonderful! Whether you bought fabric or are just following along to watch and learn, I am encouraged to do more of these. It's so fun to stitch and answer questions together. I am always a bit timid in telling people what to do and how to do it (there are a myriad of ways after all!) but as a teacher, there is a need to do just that to some extent. So I'm glad to get such positive feedback.

Thank you!

Owl Quilt-Along with Amy: Week 2

Welcome to the Quilt-Along with Amy!

Week 2 is all about the basics of machine quilting. The quilt has been basted with pins, my personal favorite method. On a quilt like this with blocks and sashing, I like to stabilize my quilt before getting to the free motion fun.

You can see the live video I shot last week for this segment on the Amy's Quilting Adventures Facebook page. I warn you it is a long one. I'm working on editing it down to a more streamlined version for youtube.

What is quilt stabilization?

It's pretty much a permanent, beefed up version of basting. Quilting some of the major lines (or bones) of the quilt keeps things from shifting, breaks the quilt into smaller areas, and helps assure that seams stay straight and don't get distorted with quilting over them in multiple directions.

For the most part, we're talking about Stitch-in-the-Ditch, SID for short.

Those of you who have followed me for a while or taken my Craftsy classes,know that I like to do my SID in free motion with a ruler most of the time, as I don't have to rotate my quilt as often when working in free motion.  But sometimes a walking foot is perfect for smaller quilts like this. Plus I want to leave ruler work for another quilt-along in the future.

What is a walking foot?

A walking foot, sometimes referred to as an even feed foot, has a set of feed dogs that help move the fabric from the top side. This allows layers to be pulled through the machine together without shifting. If you've ever sewn two squares the exact size and the top fabric has "grown" by the time you get to the end, you've seen how the regular feed dogs under the fabric pull the bottom fabric through more effectively than the top.

The basic walking foot has a lever that goes over the needle clamp and it is powered by the action of the needle going up and down. You can get these for just about any sewing machine as long as you match up the right shank type. Some walking feet are a bit lightweight and too cheap in my opinion. Others include options to make using it easier, like a SID guide, open toe options, and most have a guide bar that can be used for parallel lines of stitching.

Some machines have "built-in" or integrated walking feet and these are wonderful. They are powered by the actual machine and are synced with the movement of the lower feed dogs. Unlike the needle bar powered versions whose upper teeth only go forward, some of these systems can be used with decorative stitches too as the upper feed dogs go into reverse. Typically, they work best on simpler stitches without a lot of reverse as there can be a little bit of a lag between the upper and lower sets.

Pfaff machines have had them for quite a long time. Janome rolled out their own versions with the 6600 and 7700 models and then an improved version for their newer, bigger machines, called the Acufeed Flex system. I love the Acufeed Flex feet for my machines. In this case, the Janome 9400. I also have interchangeable feet for the base of the integrated walking foot for SID which makes this pretty easy-peasy. See more about the SD foot above at AmyQuilts.com

How do I Stabilize My Quilt?

Opinions vary, but for the most part, it's a lot like basting. Work from the center to the edges, to keep things nice and even, not creeping in one particular direction. I did my stitching in pairs of lines as shown in the graphic below. Then I went around the outer sashing and the inner edge of the border (not shown).

Once I've done this stitching, I can remove a lot of my pins as well and the layers are less likely to shift, nor is the top likely to warp its main lines.

The Stitch for the Ditch

I used my built-in walking foot, the Acufeed Flex SD foot, which is a foot made for Stitch in the Ditch. There's a guide to keep the foot moving more easily right down the seam line. I keep my guide running on the downhill side of the seam. This is the side that does not have the seam allowance under it. Get things running just right, and the stitches will hide right under the fold of the seam. In the picture of my SD foot above, the downhill side is on the left.

My first thread audition
I used a pretty dark violet colored Glide thread and you can hardly see it, down in the ditch. In fact, when doing the live video of this process, I stitched over and area I had already stitched and it took about 6 inches before I saw my earlier stitching.

The darker violet thread below is what I used and you can see the backing I chose there on the right. This busier back will help the dark thread blend in a little better. If I had not been doing this quilt on camera, I would have used the lighter thread. I may use it for some of the background spaces.

The stitch itself is just a straight stitch with a fairly good length of 2.4mm. I did alter my needle drop position (by adjusting the width setting) so that it was one needle position off of center towards the downhill side, changing it as the downhill side changed.

After stitching the lines represented in the diagram, I went back and stitched between the green and purple sashing strips. With the other lines stitched, I didn't need to do those from the center out, but did it as felt best as I moved from area to area.

One thing I did that seemed to surprise my viewers on the video is that I pulled up my bobbin thread before I started the SID. This just gives a neater look to the back as the bobbin thread tail doesn't get stitched up.

There were several short lines that I would have left until doing the free motion and done with a straight ruler, or possibly even free hand if I hadn't said this was going to be a ruler-free project.

Next: the Free Motion Quilting!

The next segment will be done via live video again on the Amy's Quilting Adventures Facebook page on Wednesday September 26 around 7pm eastern time in the US. I will post the recording on the FB page too, so you can watch it later. We will get started with the free motion around the owls and I'm excited about it. Join us, won't you?

Sew much fun,

PS If you have questions regarding any of the feet or products I show, we likely can fix you up with the right foot or whatever for your machine (or other fun supplies!), even if we don't list it at our online shop. Just shoot me an email at amy@amysquiltingadventures.com

Amy is a guest on American Patchwork and Quilting Podcast

I'll be chatting it up today with Pat Sloan as one of the guests on the American Patchwork and Quilting Podcast, episode #392.

You can catch it LIVE here: http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/radio/index.html

After the airing, you can listen later at the same link. Just look for episode #392. This is the second time to be a guest with the lovely, fun, and talented Pat Sloan. The first time was episode #298 back in April of 2016. So much has changed since then!

Owl Quilt-Along Panel Assembly Tutorial

There's a hurricane south of us and the school system is excessively cautious, so I lost quite a bit of my work day Friday to time with my kiddos. I could have let them do what they wanted while I tried to power through and work on this post, but instead we had some fun. I have to admit, with both parents working on a relatively new small business, sometimes fun family time is hard to come by.

We've just got a bit of rain and wind so far. No damage, but I still expect  lower areas here to get some flooding. Though it's been far more gentle of a rain than we had expected. My thoughts do go out to those closer to the coast in South and North Carolina.

On with the tutorial! First, remember this is a "relaxed quilt along," The main focus will be free motion quilting the actual owl panels, so if you are short on time, feel free to just use the panel as-is. If you want a bigger quilt, feel free to do your own arrangement of panel and other fabrics. I think the squares will make excellent pillows or bag sides as well, if you'd like a smaller project.

You will need:
one Boho Owl panel
1/2 yard each of two coordinating fabrics (actual fabric use is about 1/3 yard, but you will likely need a smidgen more for squaring up)
1/4 yard for cornerstones
Optional: outer border fabric

I wanted to make use of the print to the outsides of the blocks so I incorporated it as a border. 

First step is to cut carefully 1/4 inch to the outside of the magenta frame around the blocks on 3 sides, and 4-1/2 inches away from either the left or right sides to keep that outer print. You will have two blocks with the outer print to the right and two with it to the left.

From two coordinating prints, you will need to cut eight 2-1/2 inch strips by 16-1/2 inches. It is important to note that this is not the final length of these strips! The digitally printed squares are not 16 inches square, and vary in that measurement depending on horizontal or vertical. We'll trim them down later.

Next, cut nine 4-1/2 inch squares from a third fabric for the cornerstones. 

Sew your strips in pairs, long sides together. Press to the dark side. Then trim them down to match the actual length or width of the blocks.  Leaving them at 16 inches long and easing them to fit will yield in a wavy outer edge. I found them to measure 15-1/4" wide by 15-7/8" long. 

Sew a strip pair between the inner sides of each two pairs of blocks, keeping the outer 4-1/2" strip to the outside. To get the alternating placement of colors like I did, you'll want to alternate the colors between the two pairs of blocks. One will have the first color on the right, and the other pair will have it on the left. See diagram below.

Watch your quarter inch seam allowance to make sure you don't get a strip of the printed color from the seam allowance showing. You may find it best to keep the panel on top so you can see the line where the seam allowance meets the narrow magenta border. Press towards the strips.

Stitch 2 pairs of strips between 3 conerstone squares, paying attention to the color arrangement as shown below, to make the 3 sashing rows, alternating in color placement as shown.

Sew these horizontal sashing units between the pairs of blocks, making sure to align seam between the the outer corner stones and the strips with the printed line of the outer magenta border of the owl block and the outer fabric. Press towards the strips as you go. Double check your color placement before sewing!

I plan on adding a 6 inch border to this but ran out of the print I wanted to use. I am totally blown away by the response we got to this project and have ordered more of the coordinating fabrics for delivery next week. (Edited to add: The companion fabric is back in stock) Cut 6 inch strips by the length needed to attach them by the method of your choice. I will be using a mitered border for this and will do a post when I add it.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. I am still honing my graphic design and pattern writing skills, so forgive me if it's not as clear as it could be. I'm a work in progress!

Looking forward to next Wednesday and our quilt along video on the Amy's Quilting Adventures page on Facebook.

We have plenty of this line left if you want to sew and quilt along. Explore and place orders at AmyQuilts.com