November 28, 2008

How to Make a Doll Quilt from Memory Fabrics Part 2

This is the Second Part of our tutorial, how to make the quilt top. How are you doing? Hopefully following along right as rain, but don't hesitate to throw up a comment if you need a little extra explanation. Thread Selection! Thread always seems to stop creators in their tracks. What kind do you need? Any kind that doesn't make loads of lint or break when you sew will do. Some quilters love cotton others swear by polyester. Here you will find a very interesting collection of data on thread on the microscopic level. But if that's a bit much for you. Just look in your thread collection. Most everyone has one, while you create this little project if the bobbin area fills with lint from the thread you might want to think about getting a different kind. Or if it breaks and makes you crazy try something different.

Now color. Here I have a couple of spools from my thread box. The big guy is a cone of off white/muslin colored thread. It's polyester so it's strong and it's cheap, but not all sewing machines like cones. It's also a bit light for the fabrics here. But I'd use it in a pinch. To light is better than to dark.

Next you see the Polyneon Madeira makes this and it is amazingly wonderful. You can get it for about $2.45 a spool (over 1000 yards!)from personally it's my favorite for embroidery and plan to replace all my embroidery threads with this when they run out. It's the perfect shade of purple for this project. But it would be better if it was cotton for quilting. My favorite quilting thread is Aurifil but it's not avail. locally, and it's a bit pricey at $8.50 for a 1300 yard spool. So I'll be using the polyneon. It's strong like poly without the lint.

The last there is Sulky Rayon. Avail in all Joann's in almost any color. It's great for embroidery (but my machine needs a bit of adjustment to really go to town with this thread), but it's not strong. I can pull it with my fingers and cause it to snap. That's the trouble with Rayon, it's not a good choice for a quilt. Not to mention this is a dark royal purple. Great for the quilting perhaps, but if any of your stitches pull a little bit that purple will scream "look at me this work isn't perfect" And it's so annoying when the thread starts yelling like that.

You can also see the bobbin thread I selected is grey. This is a fine choice, you can use grey for darker colors like this or you can match the upper thread. If you match the upper thread you might find yourself needing to buy more bobbins. My grey is Rayon which isn't my first choice but it was already wound and this will use it up.

I have been buying Madeira Bobbinfil which is Polyester for the bottom and this is amazing for embroidery. Loads go a long way. It comes in black and white so for other colors you sort of have to "make do", but it's intended for embroider. I have also heard and read raves about the Bottom line bobbin thread. Bobbin thread is thinner, and not the best choice for quilting. Before I make a quilt I select my thread color and order a nice big spool of Aurifil, then I can load the bobbin thread with that use it through out the quilt even to the quilting. It seems no matter what I've done nor the size of the quilt a spool of Aurifil gets the job done. But remember you're checking your thread to see what you have. The spool of white that came with your sewing machine will work just fine if that's what you have.

Now as a rule I ALWAYS work left to right top to bottom when I sew. It might not seem to matter now, but if you get any bigger it will help you keep your place. Let to right and top to bottom. It doesn't matter what rule you follow, just pick and order and stick with it. Right yourself a sticky note it will help. I have taken those first to and put them in the sewing machine.
See how I have lined the two fabrics together and placed them in the sewing machine? Now... A word to the wise. There are no quilt police living in your house. If this is your first project, just line the fabric up with your sewing machine foot. Do that each time and all your seams will be the same. Every time. I promise. And that my dears is the most important thing. The same each time.

If you've done a project before see if you can see which setting creates a 1/4" seam. Does your manual tell you? If I set my ULT to 6.5mm wide on a straight stitch it will sew a 1/4" seam. If you don't know. Turn the fly wheel - that's the thing on the side of the sewing machine. Turn it until the needle is down. Now take a ruler or a tape measure and measure from the edge of your sewing machines foot (that's the part that sits on the fabric. Adjust the needle until you measure 1/4" Now the points on your other projects should all be perfect. Don't worry if it doesn't turn out perfect the first time, sometimes a tiny adjustment will move the threads over a tiny bit and then all will be wonder.

But for the purpose of this little quilt you don't have to do any of that. Select a straight stitch. As a beginner I found it handy to use a locking stitch. If your machine makes this stitch it will look like three dashed or straight lines of stitches. That means the sewing machine sews one stitch and then sews back half way and then forward again. This takes more thread but the machine sews a bit slower which can be helpful and you can handle your fabric more without worrying about the stitches coming out. To this day I love a locking stitch for bias square triangles or block swaps because they stay put so much better. Through all the wear and tear on them.

If you can't find that stitch with the three lines. Just select the straight stitch. This one is one solid or dashed line and when you sew a test bit of fabric it sews a nice straight line, so skipping about left or right.

Now when the first piece is sewn open it up to see your first row. Isn't it pretty? And easy too. The normal quilters "rule" is to iron the fabric so the fabric seam goes towards the darker side.

What are rules except things meant to be broken? In the case of memory fabrics some of them don't like to listen, especially the ones with heavier weights of interfacing. It's okay if the seam goes the other way. It will all work out. Now you can iron. Personally I have so many things going on around me when I sew, my three year old and my husband and my kitties, that the hot iron makes me worry about them. So if I can I like to finger press.

Finger Press? What's that? That's when you take newly sewn fabric turn it upside down. Look a see what the fabric wants to do, or which is the dark side, whatever. Now run your fingernail over that seam. That will cause it to lay flat. Nice wham, bam, thank you mam pressing of the seams. This will help your sewing machine move more easily over the seams as your top grows and will help the quilt to lay flat. You honestly don't have to use either method. You can just go with the flow, but your seams might not always line up perfectly. If that's okay with you then it's okay with the rest of us.

Now that you've sewn the first one move on to the next one, turning the pretty sides in together and sewing. When you work in a pattern such as left to right top to bottom, you can begin to string your work together. This is called a Daisy Chain. This chain will hold all the "first square sewn to the second square" all the way around the quilt. Above you can see where I turned the sewing machine to the side and you can see my sewn pieces collecting in a chain off the back of the sewing machine. They don't get in the way here and they stay in order. When all are sewn cut them apart going back to the first one you sewed and placing it in the upper left.

It should look something like this. Once you have this part you're ready to move on a bit.
Still going from left to right take to peices again. Since they are sewn this will be four squares! You're doing great the finish line is nearing!
I'd like to draw your attention now to a little error I made. This happens when you don't use interfacing to stabilize your fabrics. I have two options at this point rip it out, to try for it to be better the second time or the second is to just go with it. I've decided to let it be. This is a bottom edge that I can trim up later, so it doesn't worry me. Also I know it was caused by the strech of the dark fabric remember I cautioned you about this? Well there it is.
Now here I have lined up the next section of sewing. This is the entire upper corner of the baby doll blanket. Four squares this time! It's not any harder at all. Just be sure to look at the seam in the center. Try your best to make sure that is lined up so the two pieces will make a nice transion from one set of squares to another.
This is the back side of your four square. Check your seams and finger press as needed.

Look here all four are sewn and laid back out. Don't forget to go back to the first group on the Daisy chain.

Now again about left to right top to bottom. You might want to grab those two on the left and sew them together right as rain and then sewing the second two on the right. No, no... This is how the eye reads. That means that if anything is wrong with that center line that runs from the top of your square to the bottom the eye will see it. Strangers who don't know you will see it. But if you sew the one on the top left to the one on the top right, the eye doesn't see the lines the same, and voila beautious!

Congratulations, you've just sewn your first quilt top! I'm so proud of you! First and foremost be proud of yourself. These techniques can be applied to a quilt of anysize or even a wallhanging.

Next time we'll talk about batting and how to baste your quilt. Happy Sewing!

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