Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Getting in the Mood

We have a Christmas themed Retreat coming up at the end of October. Here's a post to get us in the mood. During this Retreat most of the participants are going to bring their own frames and sewing machines. We decided that it would give us more quilting-on-the-frame time. Don't worry if you don't have a frame yet or can't bring yours. We'll have an extra frame or two for you.

Here are some ideas for make-in-advance practice pieces. We'll be learning all sorts of designs but there will definitely be lots of Christmas themed line designs. so when you're making up your practice piece for your frame, it might be fun to stitch together some Christmas fabric from your stash. Choose fun fabric and keep the piecing simple. These are just strips sewn together. They'll make a great 'canvas' to draw on with thread and lovely line designs. 

I'd recommend using some plain black fabric too because the Christmas threads look so pretty against the black.

Some people were keen to piece the Christmas Tree table runner so I'm going to give some basic instructions for that here.

I wanted the table runner to fit on my 6 foot frame so I cut my backing fabric about 50 inches long and 18 inches tall. There are 8 trees. Each tree is a bit more than 5 1/2 inches at the base and almost 11 inches tall. I just folded a piece of computer paper long ways and cut a shape that was pleasing to me, I wasn't following any pattern. I wanted the trees to be big enough to be able to play around with various line designs. 

Once I had a shaped that I liked, I traced the shape on the thinnest Vilene (Vilene Easy Fuse Ultra Soft Light | H180 | Empress Mills) and cut roughly around that tree shape, leaving a bit of space around the line. Then I ironed the Vilene tree shapes to the back of the Christmas tree fabrics. The Vilene backing gives the fabric a bit of extra structure and keeps the edges from fraying too much.  I also found it easier to cut a nice straight line when I was cutting through the Vilene backed fabric. I'd chosen a neutral gold spotty background to look like snow. Lastly sitting at my sewing machine, I raw edge appliqued the trees to the background fabric. 

A note about the tree trunks. I wanted them to look chunky so I folded a bit of fabric so that the raw edges were inside, then folded that in half and slipped the ends under the tree and stitched that down. 

Then I flipped the trunks and pinned them up onto the trees so they would be out of the way when I was quilting the background. Once the background was quilted I stitched them down. We'll be doing all the quilting at the retreat. But here are a few ideas to get you thinking. We'll have lots of fun playing with all sorts of different threads and quilting patterns. If you're wanting to quilt the table runner, stitch it to your other practice piece to save time loading the quilt. You'll be able to rotary cut them apart when we take it off the frame later. Have fun making your practice pieces. 

I've backed most of my practice pieces with Fleece but you can use backing fabric and wadding if you like. To save time you could pin the layers on the fabric poles before you come. If not we'll all be helping each other to load on the day.We're so looking forward to seeing you all at the Retreat! It will be here before we know it. Martha, Emily and Jackie xxx

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