Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Charm Pack 101 for Machine Embroiderers

Charm packs, those little 5" x 5" fabric swatches, have been around for a while, and we're sure fortunes have been made coming up with ways to use them. The machine embroidery community, on the other hand, has totally ignored them. Why? If you think about it, machine embroiderers are usually thread heavy, but a little light on fabric stash, so what could be better than an assortment of 40 matching fabrics, sized perfectly for 4" x 4" applique?

We decided to start a new trend-- so here's one take on how to use them in the hoop. Our first up Christmas project, entitled "Charm Pack Village," debuts on Black Friday. We used a charm pack named "White Christmas," designed by Zen Chic. Look at all the fabrics included-- light, medium, and dark tones-- all perfectly sorted.

In no time at all, we were stitching up a little house in a 4" x 4" hoop. One charm square was used for the background, and others were snipped into little house and roof parts. Then we just picked an accent thread color right from the fabrics, gold, for the door and windows. 

In no time at all, we had a little village of nine different houses!

Another advantage of the charm pack-- there was plenty of matching fabric left over for little sashing and cornerstone pieces.

Then we digitized a beautiful header to complete the wall hanging. The header require a bigger piece of fabric, so we had ordered an extra half yard of this collection which was also used for the backing.


We had so much fun with the idea, don't be surprised if you see Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's themes coming next!

All of our fabric came from the Fat Quarter Shop...
you can use the link above right to go to the store-- then just click "Charm Packs" on the left and prepare to be inspired! There are tons of Chrismtas themed ones.. so you can make your wallhanging with your own favorite.

So that is Charm Pack 101--the wallhanging pattern will debut on Black Friday-- gosh-- can you believe that is only ten days away!

We are also starting a new free stitch-a-long that day-- use the link above, top right, to sign up for our e-mail list so you won't miss a stitch!


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Can a quilt be a quick Christmas gift?

  Today we are stitching along with the Fat Quarter Shop to see if a quilt can be a QUICK Christmas gift!

Face it— if we, as quilters, were looking for a hobby that delivers faster results with less precision, we’d all be handing out these for the holidays. Yes,  I was a bit skeptical of the “shortcut quilt.”

I worked on the Layer Cake Custard Quilt-- 
a layer cake and 3-1/2 yards of background fabric is all you need to get started. You can see that half of the blocks are just plain layer cake squares and the other half are deconstructed nine patches. Simple, right?

I love Christmas fabric— every year, multiple favorite designers put out a new collection which results in a quandary— which to buy? Fortunately, the Fat Quarter Shop has taken the pain out of that decision with their curated collections. We found this one— HOT DOG!— some choice Christmas prints from three different designers. Problem solved. And FQS must already have a delivery drone—it always seems like the package is on our doorstop the next day!

The pattern certainly looked hopeful— no triangles, and very few points to match up. Cutting was a breeze—my bestie Tere helped. I usually don't cut an entire quilt out in one sitting, but under her tutelage I did— a definite time saver-- we logged in about an hour and half.

On to block making. Seventeen blocks were simple layer cake squares with a little frame around them... easy peasy.. and they show off beautiful prints so well. The addition of the frame insures you are not going to have to match points in those corners.

Those blocks took a couple of hours. I really put the pedal to the metal on all of those straight seams.

I have never made deconstructed blocks before-- taking a rotary cutter to a perfectly good nine patch goes against my grain. 

Once I got over my inhibitions, it was fun and easy. Elapsed time for this project, about six hours, just putting in a hour here or there. 

Layout time! That's my favorite part and this was easy— I just divided the blocks into reds, blacks, whites, and greens,  and since this pattern has such a diagonal feel to me, layered the colors out in stripes.  

Final assembly took about another 2 hours.

I was planning on just doing some easy straight line quilting on the diagonal— but at this point, I am liking this SOOoooo MUCH and am so far ahead of deadline, I decided to give it an upgrade, and send it to my favorite longarmer, Sara Velder of Acorn Ridge quilts. Sara is the one who quilted my prize winning Judy Niemeyer quilt. This time, she’s just doing an edge to edge— Since those plus sign patches remind me of blinking lights, we're going with a star pattern. Once again, Sara had it finished in just a few days.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I have an absolutely blockbuster Christmas gift, truly, at 8 hours, quilted in a day. Any machine embroidery fans  will recognize the opportunity for some embroidery in those big square block