Friday, July 26, 2013

Florentine Edge Appliqué

Pipe Dreams, an original quilt by Ann Fahl
Have you seen the September 2013 issue of American Quilter Magazine? The above quilt was featured in my article about Florentine Edge Appliqué on pages 24-28.  I've probably mentioned this technique  before, I am really enjoying using it on my newest quilts. Pipe Dreams was about getting a new toilet.  You can read all the details on my website.

The article looks great, but what is funny is that I sent images of a newer quilt; which they decided not to use. So all of my blog readers can read the back story of this newer quilt and the article! 
Coneflower Tea, © an original quilt by Ann Fahl  22 x 22 inches
The quilt Coneflower Tea, contains so many of my personal images, I just love it.  It is hanging in my studio right now. The base of the quilt or the "tablecloth" is a large ginkgo leaf.  On it, rests a teapot and 2 cups.  This teapot is a favorite of mine, it also appears in another quilt titled Tea Party.  This quilt is particularly colorful and my cat Oreo is included. The actual teapot is bright red. Back to Coneflower Tea, the pot in this quilt is decorated with a small pink coneflower.

To tell you the truth, I've never made tea in this pot.  It sits in my family room, where I can enjoy looking at it.  So in this newer quilt, I've removed the lid and arranged some large coneflowers inside.
Closeup of the ginkgo leaf.
The very wide stitch on the edge of the lime/yellow leaf is my Florentine Edge Appliqué.  In the past I have wanted a wide zigzag stitch.  My machine gives a 7mm stitch and I believe Bernina has a 9 mm wide stitch, neither is wide enough for my needs.  By accident I found if I set my machine for a free-motion zigzag and moved the quilt side to side, I could create an edge that was 1, 1.5, 2 inches or wider as needed. Eureka, I have done it! This creates a soft edge, not a hard defined edge that a standard satin stitch provides. This is exactly what I'm looking for. 
Detail of bright blue leaves with green variegated Florentine Edge
These leaves are small, only 3 or 4 inches long.  I love how the blue fabric pops when edged with the green variegated Rainbow thread.

Briefly this is what you do to create this stitch, there are 3 steps:

1.Set up the machine with feed dogs down, darning foot installed
2.Set zigzag width for about 3 (you can experiment with the width)
3.Stitch along the edge with a free-motion zigzag stitch for 1 or 2 inches
4.Retrace your steps and go back over the zigzags you have just created
5.Now move the fabric side-to-side going as far into the center of the shape as you'd like.
6.When you have covered the first row of zigzag stitching, begin again with step #3. Continue around the shape in this manner until the edges are covered.

This isn't a fast method.  It takes time to create this interesting edge but it is worth the time.  For detailed instructions, check out the article in AQ, or see my booklet titled Applique Ann's Way.

Ann Fahl

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fun and Inspiration with Mary Ellen Hopkins

Back in the early 1980's I was a new quilter. My husband was watching the children while I spent a Saturday at a WQI meeting (Wis Quilters Inc.) At the time, the members had to bring their own lunch to eat between the morning lecture and the afternoon speaker.  This particular meeting, Mary Ellen Hopkins was the speaker for both time slots.  I had no idea what was in store for me that day.

Mary Ellen Hopkins

What a treat, she was a stand up comedienne/quilter.  This was the first day I was ever hit with a big idea, inspiration that kicked off my own colorful quilting career.  Mary Ellen was so funny, her entire talk was lots of fun.  She started to talk about finding a colorful splashy fabric that could be cut up into half squares; arrange the pieces and sew them back together! Just one fabric, not 5, 10 or 20! This is when the inspiration hit.

Only the day before I had been shopping in a local chain store and seen a red, blue and yellow print that I loved, but couldn't figure out what to do with it. You can guess what I did. The very next day, I drove to that store and purchased some of that fabric*.  I set the triangles in a black border and was absolutely thrilled with the result and ready to create another. This quilt led to another, and another, and you get the idea. 
Closeup of a similar quilt, using one fabric and sewing it together.

Mary Ellen has recently died.  She taught, lectured, and wrote books and articles that entertained and inspired quilters around the world.  I was one of them.  Thanks Mary Ellen.

Symphony of Color by Ann Fahl
*Ann no longer has the quilt that was inspired this day.  It was called "Fun with Triangles."  There is no photo of it, but it is in the collection of Wheaton Franciscan Hospital in Racine.  The fabric scraps, if there were any, were all cut up into triangles and used up! Some of Ann's more recent triangle pieces can be seen on her website. Half squares will always be an important part of her quilts.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Folding Quilts: Storing and Shipping without Creases

Summer Sanctuary, quilt by Ann Fahl 48 x 53 inches*

It has been a long time since I wrote the article for Quilter's Newsletter Magazine about bias folding. Without a doubt it is the all time most popular topic I've ever authored.

Since birth, I've been a textile person. My great grandmother gave me a quilt, which was nothing but a tiny strip of cloth by the time it got to my youngest sister.  All that was left was a piece of binding, perhaps 2 feet long, she called it her "yum yum."  My quilts have changed since then.......

Creases in Quilts

From the beginning of my quilting career in 1978, it troubled me that women would unwrap their precious quilts to share with others and that horrible center fold would mar the overall effect of the quilt because it was on the straight of the grain. These creases became a breast sticking out in the middle of the design that destroyed the appearance of their beautiful work.

Folding in Thirds


Several years later an instructor mentioned that if one folded a quilt in thirds instead of halves, this wouldn't happen.  And she was right. Chances are the quilt wouldn't be creased in the same place twice when divided in three.  This was the beginning of my quest to find a way to send and exhibit my quilts without hard creases.

Rolling Quilts


The obvious way was to roll my quilts on cardboard tubes or small PVC pipes.  Wrap the cardboard with muslin to protect the fabrics from glue and other chemicals in the paper.  To this day, I continue to store all my quilts this way.  When shipped, there is extra cost involved when sending tubes.  For the most part, show producers can deal with receiving and reshipping the tubes.

Shipping Quilts 


First I used 4" PVC piping with rubber caps. This worked quite well, but the PVC eventually cracked. Unfortunately they weighted quite a bit and this method became too expensive. Next, I began using the telescoping boxes from Uline S-4872T.  These are much lighter and easy to ship. But the boxes are becoming quite expensive.  If the quilt shipped is quite large there are additional charges involved in sending extra long packages.

Folding Quilts and How-To

So, I'm back to sending my quilts in square boxes. This is the most economical method. Then there is the same old problem: the quilt arrives at its destination with hard creases.  The answer is to fold the quilt on the bias.

This is how it is done.

Lay out the quilt on a table or flat surface. Fold the first corner into the middle.

Take the second corner and fold toward the middle.
Fold the third corner, notice that the corner goes past the edge.

The third corner has been folded under.
The last corner has been folded up and anything that hangs over has been tucked in, just like before.

You now have a neat little package to fit on a shelf in the linen closet, a shipping box, in the tote bag to take to guild meeting, or your suitcase.  If it is too big to fit the space, then open up the quilt and bring the corners further into the quilt and your package will be smaller. After you've done this a couple of times, you'll be comfortable with the procedure.

Why does this work?


When a fiber is folded on the straight of the grain, or on top of itself, the fiber is crimped really hard.  If a fiber is folded on the bias, the fold is much softer and causes less damage to the threads in the fabric. When a quilt is bias folded, it can be unfolded, shaken out, and the creases will hang out quickly. When folded on the straight, especially for a long time, the creases may never come out.

When shipping to shows


Bonnie Browning asked me to state that AQS would prefer that entrants fold the quilt with the right side on the outside of the package. Fold your quilt in which ever way you feel is appropriate for your purpose.  But always fold on the bias!

Happy folding, and have a good summer.  I'm going to work out in the garden.

*I chose this quilt Summer Sanctuary  to demonstrate the technique because it has a green front and a red back. It is easier to distinguish between the two!