Friday, 18 September 2015

How-to: Unpicking Quilting

Last night I spent a lot of time un-quilting - unpicking the quilting I had done earlier that day. Not because I wasn't happy with the shape of my quilting, (I'm learning to let go a bit in that regard), but because the tension was off. There's a tip worth mentioning: Check your tension! It could save you so much time.

The quilting wasn't bad all over, but there were enough bad places that I didn't feel happy to let it go. So, out came the seam ripper.

Now, I don't like waste, so I try to conserve long lengths of thread wherever I can when I'm unpicking. Here's how I do it with quilting:
  • Turn the quilt over so you're working from the back - I'd much rather damage the back by accident, where I can potentially cover it with a label or even a patch, than poke a hole in the front. 
  • Pull the thread ends to the back (i.e. the side you're working on) - both the top thread and the bobbin thread. (Note that in the photo I had already done some unpicking, so you can't see the end of the top thread.) If your stitching overlaps like mine did, it's important to start from the last stitch you made. 
  • Gently tug on the bobbin thread until a little loop of top thread pulls through.

  • Carefully slide your seam ripper under the little arch formed by the top thread and bobbin thread, let go of the bobbin thread, and use your seam ripper to pull the bobbin thread through the top thread loop. You can use any thin tool really, just as long as it can get into that little arch.

  • Repeat for each stitch, or if your problem was a tension one like mine, you might be able to pull out several stitches at once through the existing 'loops' of top thread. 
  • Every now and then, gently pull the on the top thread and wind it up. I like to use an empty thread spool or bobbin. See photo below. The yellow circle is where the top thread comes through to the back.

You'll also want to trim the bobbin thread now and then as it gets longer, so that pulling it through that little loop remains a quick action.

This method is also great if you run out of bobbin thread or your thread breaks. You can unpick without damaging the thread or your quilt, until your thread tails are long enough to tie off and bury.

One final tip - watch a TV show or movie while you work. I watched The Darling Buds of May while I did my unpicking. I know it well enough to stay focused on what I'm doing and just look up for my favourite parts. It's good to re-focus the eyes now and then, and visual entertainment is a good way to remember to do that.

How do you like to unpick - if 'like' is the right word?! It's surprising just how many ways there are to do many tasks in sewing, unsewing included.

Happy sewing, and may your seam ripper be seldom called upon. ;)

Hope x

P.S. Just for clarity's sake, the pictures do show the back of the quilt - it's a pieced backing. :)

Sunday, 23 August 2015

ZigZag Love in Miniature

It's finished! My itty bitty heart quilt. What do you think?

Each heart in this quilt is 1.5” small and uses one mini charm from V and Co's Simply Style fabric collection. I normally love to piece tiny, rotary-cut patchwork pieces, but for this quilt I chose to make foundation papers. I foundation pieced the heart halves, then removed the papers before sewing the halves into rows.

It's hard to tell the size in photos, so here's one with my hand for some scale:

I kept the quilting simple, just in-the-ditch with black thread (though the background is actually dark navy blue), and pale green thread inside the zigzags and diamonds for some contrast. To quilt inside the diamonds without stopping and starting for each one, I used the same method I described in this previous blog post.

I actually added the borders after I'd done most of the quilting. Because I'd gone edge to edge with my quilting, it meant I could simply pull my threads to the top after quilting each row, then tie them off and not have to worry about burying them because adding the borders covered them up nicely. A little more green stitching on the borders, and I was ready to trim and bind.

(By the way, don't you just love trimming mini quilts? So much easier than trimming a large quilt!)

For speed, I chose to machine bind the quilt. It really is a nice, quick way to finish up a wall hanging. To make the stitching almost invisible, I used black for the top thread and green in the bobbin. The tension was spot on, so neither colour shows through to the other side.

I'm working on a second ZigZag Love pattern, with more sizes and variations, to compliment my first pattern. The foundation piecing pattern for little quilt will be included, as well as some larger sizes, so if you think you'd like to make one of your own be sure to keep an eye on my blog to find out when the pattern is released.

You can also sign up for my brand new mailing list! Simply fill in the form on my sidebar (up towards the top of the blog). When I start sending out newsletters you'll be the first to know about my new patterns, tutorials and other quilty news and exclusive offers. If there's anything you'd like to hear about, make sure you let me know.

Bye for now, and happy sewing!

Hope x

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Sweet Hearts

I've been working on a mini version of my ZigZag Love quilt. A mini mini. I'm almost there, just the binding to do and then I'll show you the whole thing. For now, here's a peek at the first row, laid on top of my original ZigZag Love:

I'll be back soon with the finished quilt.

Bye for now,

Hope x 

P.S. If you follow me at Facebook, you'll have seen this photo already. If you follow me at Instagram, you'll have seen a lot more. Why not head over and say hello? I'd love to see what you've been up to as well. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

How It All Began - ZigZag Love

It occurs to me that I haven't actually shared ZigZag Love - my first and most popular pattern - on this blog. So, here's a little bit about my quilt. :)

The quilt started out as a bunch of sketches on grid paper back in July 2012. I was playing with hearts and really, the design almost happened by itself. Most unusually for me, the actual making of the quilt happened just days after the design (I have LOTS of sketches waiting to be made into quilts). I had ordered a charm pack of Marmalade by Bonnie & Camille for Moda, and it arrived while the design was fresh in my mind. Perfect! I dug straight in and started sewing that same day.

After a bit of fiddling to figure out which way to press the seams, it was all smooth sailing. After cutting it all out, chain piecing made the sewing pretty quick, and soon after I was laying it out ready to piece the rows. That part took me the longest I think. 'Random' takes so much fiddling to achieve sometimes. ;)

When it came to quilting, I had plans for some free-motion in the zigzags, but I was having trouble seeing white thread on white fabric, so I gave that a miss and stuck with quilting in the ditch, and again about a quarter inch into the zigzags and diamonds. I like the way it turned out, the texture is just right I think. 

I didn't make the quilt with the intention of writing a pattern. It received such an awesome response on Flickr though, with requests for a pattern or tutorial coming from several people, so I decided to give it a go. And now here I am, a couple of years later with several more patterns available and more on the way. 

ZigZag Love remains my most popular pattern, and I get such lovely comments and emails about it from people who have made their own. I am incredibly grateful to each and every one of you who has bought the pattern - thank you a million times over! 

This pattern writing venture of mine would probably never have happened without this little heart quilt, where it all started for me. I hope it continues for a long time yet. 

Thanks so much for visiting, and for your support. Happy Sewing! 

Hope x 

P.S. If you'd like to see the original post on my other blog, When Inspiration Strikes, click here

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

How Did You Quilt That? ZigZag Love

A question I've been asked about my ZigZag Love pattern is how did I quilt in the diamonds? Did I start and stop in each one? Is there a way to do it without stopping and starting? Well, since I've drawn up a little diagram to show how I did it, I thought I'd share it here in case others find it useful.

The travelling in the seams is not really noticeable from the front of the quilt, and looks fine at the back too.

Bye for now, and happy sewing!

Hope x

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Willoughby Bay - A Sail Boat Quilt Pattern

I am happy to announce that I have a new pattern available! 

Willoughby Bay is a little wall hanging with a decidedly nautical feel. It would be great on the wall of a baby nursery or a child's bedroom, or anywhere you want to hang something cute!

I named the quilt for Willoughby Bay in Sydney, which I used to live just a couple of minutes walk from. I'd often retreat to Primrose Park and look out at all the sailing boats on the water of the Bay. It was several years ago now, but I've found a photo to show you:

Ok, so there aren't many sails, and there's as much tree as sea, but there are a lot of boats and it's what comes to mind when I think of sailboats. :)

These patchwork boats are very little - just 2.75" tall - and I think they're a lot of fun to make. Here's a close-up with a pen to give you more of an idea of scale: 

Cute, huh?

Cutting instructions are included for both a scrappy look as shown and a single fabric for each element. I'd love to see this quilt in some different colours. Deep indigo seas with jewel-coloured boats, or a colour palette based on a sunrise or sunset... One great suggestion I've had is for pirate ships!

The pattern is suitable for confident beginners, through to more experienced sewists. I have written comprehensive instructions with lots of diagrams throughout, so I think that a newer beginner could also give it a decent go. As ever, I'm just an email away if you need any advice. 

The pattern is available through Craftsy, Etsy and My Pattern Shop. Or, you can click the nifty button below to buy it now. All options offer 'instant' download after payment.   

I'd love to hear what you think of my newest design. If you have any questions or comments, please leave me a comment and say hello.  

Bye for now, and happy sewing!

Hope x

Thursday, 14 May 2015

(Copy) Right or Wrong

As a quilt designer/pattern writer, copyright is a subject I've spent quite a bit of time looking into and thinking about. To try to make it clear what I expect with regard to my patterns, I wrote a page on copyright which you can access by the Copyright tab at the top of this blog (or click here).

Since writing that page, I've been thinking more and more about it. Everything there holds true, but lately I've been wondering... what is important to me? Why do I write patterns? Why do I want people to buy my patterns? There's the obvious answer (income!) but there is a bit more to it than that.

I want you to buy my pattern because you want to make a quilt from the design. I want to show you how I do things and for you to feel confident trying them for yourself. I want you to enjoy the process, to love your quilt, and to feel like it is exactly that - your quilt.

Yes, your quilt. So that means you can do what you like with it. Sell it, give it, auction it, exhibit it, donate it... it's up to you. You made it, you put all that time, thought, money, effort and love into it, who am I to dictate what you do with it next?

You know what else I want? I want you to share. If you like the pattern, if you think a friend would enjoy making it, then please tell them about the pattern. Show them your quilt, show them the pattern. What the hell, even give them a copy of the pattern.

I know! That's a bit of no-no, right? Your friend should buy their own copy, really. But you know what? I'm not going to jump on you and call you nasty names if you share with a friend. Please, please, please tell them how they can buy their own pattern, suggest that they do so (it's what I'd prefer, obviously), but don't feel guilty if they choose not to. I understand.

For me, making a quilt is about doing something I love. Writing patterns is about sharing what I love, and selling patterns is about doing that in a way that helps buy food and pay the mortgage. I hate that there should be guilt associated with quilting in any way, shape or form. I know that if you give someone a copy of my pattern you're not trying to deprive me of income, you're not being mean or nasty. You're not a bad person. You just want to share, right? And that you want to share my design, my pattern? That is a compliment to me, for which I thank you.

Having said all that though, do keep scale in mind. One or two friends is very different to a whole quilting group or guild, and different to a class of students. No mass distribution, please! Also keep in mind that what I have said relates to my patterns, not quilt patterns in general. If in doubt, ask. That's the safest and most respectful way to do most things, I think.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them. :)

Hope x