Christa’s Quilt Along – Abacus Week 2: Machine Applique

Welcome to week 2 of my Abacus Quilt Along. Today we will learn a super simple machine applique technique than can be applied to any design, not just circles. It took me a total of 4 1/4 hours to complete this week’s lesson. Remember, you can join in at any time and sew on your own schedule.

Step 1 – Fusing the Circles to the Background (1/2 hour)

Remove the paper backings from all 36 of your circles if needed. Place a circle roughly in the middle of each background square and fuse them in place, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

At this point, the circles don’t have to perfectly centered as we will trim down some of the excess. Just be sure there’s at least 1/4″ of background around the entire circle.

 fused circlesFused circles organized by color – aren’t they pretty?

Step 2 – Machine Applique the Circles (3 hours)

Using a matching thread and a straight stitch, slowly and carefully stitch around the edge of each circle, keeping your thread on top of the bead fabric. Sew very close to the edge without going off of the fabric. Always stop stitching with your needle down for smooth, continuous stitches. If you have a knee-lift for your machine, use it to lift the presser foot every few inches as you turn the circle to sew.

applique-stitchHint: Using an open toe applique foot makes it easier to see what you are doing.

If desired, you may use a decorative stitch instead. Or for a more “industrial” look, go around each circle two or three times. Be sure to start and stop by pulling the bobbin thread up through to the top of the fabric for a clean look.

Practice on a few scraps first to check your stitch length, thread color and tension, and to audition possible machine applique stitches. Note that I did not need to use any stabilizer. The fusible web on the back of the fabrics provided enough stability for this method.

applique-and-quilt-practiceThe sample above was my practice piece for both applique and quilting. I first tried a very thin and narrow zig zag stitch by reducing my length and width. Although I liked the look of the edges, I don’t like how it competed with the lines of quilting. That’s why I decided to go with a cleaner line of stitching around the edges. Try a few things and see what you like!

stitched circlesMatch thread colors to your fabrics to help make the stitching seem to disappear!

When you have finished stitching, pull all of your threads to the back of each quilt block and make a knot by hand. Clip off the excess threads. For efficiency, I did all the applique stitching first and then went back and tied all the knots.

back of bead blockWhat the backs of your bead blocks should look like when stitched.

Step 3 – Trimming the Circles (3/4 hour)

Use a small square ruler to align your circle so that you will be trimming exactly 1/4″ away from the edges on two sides. I have drawn black lines on the picture below showing how you should line up your ruler so that the circle fits within a 4″ x 4″ finished frame. You will be cutting exactly 1/4″ away on all four sides of the black frame shown below.

Line-TrimmingMake the first trim to the right and top of the block, leaving 1/4″ around the two edges.

Trim right side

Flip the block around and line it up so that now you are trimming the other two sides, forming a perfectly trimmed 4 1/2″ block.

circle second trimRepeat for all 36 blocks. The picture below shows a trimmed block next to an untrimmed block for comparison.

trimmed blockHave fun doing your “homework” and feel free to leave comments below or email me with any questions! Don’t forget to share you progress on your own blogs, on my flickr group, or on instagram #abacusqal.

I can’t wait to see how you’re doing!

Be sure to visit my Abacus quilt along page for links to the supply list and all tutorials.

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Aurifil Thread Winner

Thank you for your comments on my last giveaway. I think that’s the most comments I’ve ever received for a giveaway. I guess you guys really like Aurifil thread as much as I do!

abacus_aurifil_threadCongratulations to Kathie H. who won the Abacus thread bundle! I will have another giveaway related to the Abacus Quilt Along this Thursday so stay tuned! And be sure to come back tomorrow for the next quilt along tutorial.

20140909_aurifilSome of my personal stash of Aurifil – you could say I’ve got a passion for thread!

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Save 50% on Angela Walter’s Machine Quilting Craftsy Class

One of the perks I love about partnering with Craftsy is getting to pick and choose which Craftsy classes I get to watch, and then sharing information about those classes with you. But what I’m also super excited about is getting to offer exclusive discounts just for my blog readers! Whoo hoo!

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For one week only, you guys can save 50% off of Angela Walters’ latest craftsy class, Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know how much I love machine quilting. I also love how well Angela’s designs work on nearly any quilt, no matter what type of machine you use to quilt them.

Angela WaltersMeeting Angela at QuiltCon in 2013 – I’m a huge fan of her work and teaching style!

I’ll tell you a quick story then get onto the review. When I met Angela for the first time at QuiltCon in 2013, I told her how much I loved the design aspect of her quilting and how I would enjoy incorporating some of her techniques into my domestic quilting. She responded by saying, “You get it! The type of machine you use doesn’t matter – it’s the design that counts.” Ever since then, I’ve been a big fan-girl. :-)

The fact that Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety is demonstrated on a sit-down domestic machine is just icing on the cake!

Angela Walters at QuiltConAngela at QuiltCon – she can rock a feather like no other!!

Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety focuses on six basic quilting designs that anyone can learn:

  • pebbles
  • swirls
  • squares
  • feathers
  • clamshells
  • ribbon candy

By applying small changes to these “staple” designs, you really can creative a big variety of unique quilting textures. Each of the six lessons runs about 20-25 minutes each, which is the perfect amount of time for me to watch a segment while taking a break from work and eating my lunch. :-)

I also enjoy the format of this particular class in that each of the lessons is independent of the others, so you can watch them in any order. Say for example, you want to skip pebbles for now, and get straight into watching the section on feathers or ribbon candy; you can totally do that and you won’t be behind!

One of my favorite techniques that Angela encourages is the idea of combining designs. I’ve done that before when I quilted pebbles and swirls into the background spaces of my String of Pearls quilt:

Swirls and PearlsI call this combination of designs, “Swirls and Pearls” – it’s so effective!

Although I love being a teacher myself, I also enjoy being a student, especially when I can learn from such a warm and friendly person as Angela Walters. She’s very engaging and is also quick to respond to questions and comments during the class.

In fact, the interactive platform is one of the things I love best about Craftsy classes. The first thing I usually do when watching a class is read through all of the comments and questions that others have left before I begin each section. It gives me a good idea of what is coming up, and I can easily add to the discussion if I feel so inclined.

AW_class_projectDetail of gorgeous quilting posted by one of the students from class, Dana R.

After watching Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety, I’m sure you will be inspired to add all sorts of small changes to your quilting that will result in a big variety of textures and designs! Just imagine the endless possibilities. :-)

Oh, and be sure to click on the “projects” section of the class to see what your fellow students are making. It’s full of delicious eye candy!

Remember, the 50% class discount is only valid for the next 7 days, so sign up now, before you miss it!

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Christa’s Giveaway – Aurifil Thread Bundle

It’s time for another giveaway! As with all of the giveaways I’m hosting during my Abacus Quilt Along, you do not have to follow along to participate in the giveaway. Everyone is welcome to comment and enter for a chance to win.

abacus_aurifil_threadBeautiful Aurifil threads I used in my version of Abacus.

Up for grabs this week: A bundle of beautiful 50 weight Aurifil cotton threads! One lucky winner will receive 8 small spools of the same exact colors I used for the machine applique on Abacus; plus a large spool of the same grey I used for the machine quilting.

Click here for a listing of the exact colors of threads and fabrics I chose.

Abacus_machinequilting

Machine quilting is my favorite part of making any quilt – it’s quick, easy, and fun!

To enter, simply leave a comment letting me know what you think about machine applique! Do you love it or hate it? Or are you somewhere in between? You can also mention your favorite method of applique if you like. :-)

Good luck!

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Christa’s Quilt Along – Abacus Week 1: Fusing and Cutting

Welcome to my Fall 2014 Quilt Along – Abacus! Join me as we make a modern applique quilt perfect for the wall, floor, or any place you’d like to add some color! My version of Abacus finishes at 32″ x 32″. Please feel free to tweak the size, colors, and fabrics to make it yourself and make it your own!

Abacus-Finished-for-BlogAbacus by Christa Watson, 32″ x 32″, made from Kona Solids.

At any time, you can click on the Abacus main page which will has the supply list, the quilt along schedule, and links for all the tutorials as they go live. It took me a total of 3 hours to complete this week’s lesson. This is not a race, so please, work at your own pace. :-)

Now, let’s get started! All fabrics are based on 40″ of useable fabric width. I recommend washing and starching all fabrics prior to beginning. Wash lights and darks separately with dye magnet sheets such as Shout Color Catchers.

Step 1 – Cutting the Colored Bead Strips (1/2 hour)

  • 1 – 5″ x 40″ strip of 4 different fabrics (solids 1-4 below)
  • 1 – 5″ x 20″ strip of 4 different fabrics (solids 5-8 below)

Step 2 – Cutting the Background Fabric (1 hour)

From the background (grey) fabric, cut: 5 strips, 5” x 42”. Crosscut them into a total of 36 squares, 5” x 5” each. You should be able to get 8 squares per strip. These are cut oversized for now and will be trimmed down later.

cut squaresCut a total of 36 squares, 5″ x 5″ each.

Also, from the background fabric, cut 4 strips: 4 1/2” x 42.” Cut these into 7 different rectangles that will form the negative space above the abacus strips.

The measurements are 4 1/2” wide by:

4 1/2”; 8 1/2”; 12 1/2”; 16 1/2”; 20 1/2”; 24 1/2”; 28 1/2”

Background-Strip-NumbersCut background strips according to the diagram above.

Step 3 – Fusing and Cutting the Bead Fabrics (1 hour)

Cut 12 strips of paper backed fusible web, 4 3/4” x 15”. (You will get 3 circles per strip.)

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, adhere full and partial fusible web strips to the wrong side (back side) of your bead fabric strips.

fusible webAdhere fusible web to the back side of your “bead” fabrics.

Cover strips of fabric with fusible web:

  • 40” of fabric strip 1;
  • 35” of strip 2;
  • 30” of strip 3;
  • 25” of strip 4;
  • 20” of strip 5;
  • 15” of strip 6;
  • 10” of strip 7; and
  • 5” of strip 8.

Cut additional strips of fusible web if needed.

fusible squaresCut your fusible backed fabric strips into squares approximately, 5” x 5”:

  • 8 squares of fabric 1;
  • 7 squares of fabric 2;
  • 6 squares of fabric 3;
  • 5 squares of fabric 4;
  • 4 squares of fabric 5,
  • 3 squares of fabric 6,
  • 2 squares of fabric 7,
  • and 1 square of fabric 8.

For Die Cutting the Circles (1/2 hour):

Note, using a die cutter is super fast. If cutting the traditional way by hand, allow additional time. Run the fusible backed squares through your die cutting machine, using a 4” diameter circle die. Repeat to cut all 36 circles.

die cutterUse a 4″ diameter circle die if using a die cutter. I used the Sizzix.

20140908_sizzix6Repeat to cut a total of 36 circles.

For Traditional Cutting of the Circles (Time May Vary):

Click the picture below to print off the circle template onto a piece of stiff cardstock. Or print in onto plain paper and trace it onto template plastic, cutting carefully on the line. Use a lightbox or window if needed for tracing. Be sure to print at 100% scaling and measure the diameter to ensure it is 4”.

White CircleCircle Template – be sure to click the picture, save it, and print at 100% scaling.

Trace around your circle template on the back of each fused square and cut the circles out on the line slowly and carefully, for a total of 36 fused circles.

20140908_sizzix7Congratulations! You are now ready to assemble an awesome quilt from just circles and squares! Come back next week for block assembly and easy, yes easy machine applique!

Here’s a hint: choose thin blending cotton threads such as Aurifil 50 weight in colors to match your fabrics for quick and beautiful machine applique!

Something new I am adding this year is a parade of quilts! If you finish your quilts by November 10th, you can email me a picture of your quilt (along with a blog link if you have one) and I’ll feature them on my blog on November 12th.

I also invite you to share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #abacusqal, or on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along

Let’s share the love! Please grab a quilt along button and add it to your blog.

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Kaufman Solids Bundle Winner and a Few Tidbits

Thanks for all your sweet comments during the Kaufman Bundle giveaway. It’s great to know that so many of you are still making quilts from my Quilt Alongs. I love it!

Abacus starts tomorrow and I can already tell it’s going to be fun to see how everyone interprets it in their choice of fabrics and colors. And now, on to the winner!

20140918_kona_giveaway

Congratulations to Abby L. who is my random winner for the fabulous Kona Solids bundle!! I will have another giveaway later this week, so stay tuned. :-)

See you tomorrow for Abacus!! (The pic below shows the EQ7 drawing and then my sewn quilt top. )

20140918_abacus

P.S. In other news, I got an email today letting me know that Craftsy’s super big fall sale has been extended one more day. So check it out if you haven’t already.

craftsy-logo

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Craftsy Class Review and a Free Class – Creative Quilt Backs

I’m so excited to partner with Craftsy and kick off my fall roundup of online classes to share with you. For starters, why don’t we start with a free class? As of this writing, I counted 35 free “mini” classes offered by Craftsy and my favorite has to be Creative Quilt Backs by Elizabeth Hartman.

Creative Quilt BacksThis class was the first one I watched when I first discovered all that Craftsy has to offer and I became a huge Craftsy fan right away!

In Creative Quilt Backs, Elizabeth walks you through the basics of how to calculate the size needed for various types of pieced backings. She includes very detailed step by step directions that help you get comfortable with the dreaded “quilt math!”

She also gives great tips on how to use large scale prints, and how to use up those leftovers by making a secondary composition on the back. I love making scrappy back art, and here are just a few of the fun quilt backs I’ve made since watching this class:

modern _logs_backingThe Back of Modern Logs

Strips of Color

The back of Colorful Chevrons

Pieced BackingThe back of String of Pearls

Craftsy’s free mini classes are very similar to the regular paid classes with well produced step-by-step videos from some of your favorite teachers. They are just a tad shorter and don’t include the back and forth teacher communication, but they are a great way to check out the Craftsy Platform.

Be sure to check out Creative Quilt Backs with Elizabeth Hartman and jazz up your finishes!

 

 

 

 

 

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New Precuts in the House (er, Warehouse that is!)

Since I missed Fabric Friday, I want to share a few of my newest precuts with you on Showcase Saturday! Cheezy, yes I know, but what can I say, I love alliteration!

I also love the bundles of Windham fat quarters we are starting to accumulate. At last count we had 15 different collections. Here are three of my favorites:

20140920_mormorMormor by Lotta Jansdotter is an ecletic mix of colorful modern florals and geometrics. The bundle includes 20 prints and 3 solids in shades of eggplant, coral, grey, teal, blue, and citron.

20140920_enchantedI’ve recently become a fan of Sarah Fielke and her whimsical, colorful style. Enchanted is a 17 piece bundle that includes 13 prints and 4 solids. Don’t you just love that peacock print?

20140920_playtimeThe story of Emma and Bobby deciding what to play is the subject of this delightful collection of storybook prints. With classic 30’s colors and inspired playful images of bears, ducks, dolls and other toys, plus beautiful florals, Storybook Playtime by Whistler Studios is sure to inspire your next retro quilt.

Click here to see all Windham Fat Quarter Bundles. Enjoy the eye candy!!

 

 

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Giveaway Featuring Kona Solids and Abacus Quilt Along Schedule

Thanks to my fabulous friends at Robert Kaufman for donating this lovely bundle of Kona Solids for one of you to win!

20140918_kona_giveaway

This is to get you guys jazzed about my upcoming Quilt Along which starts next week!

Included in the bundle are 8 fat quarters of the exact same colors I am using in my version of Abacus. They are: Navy, Turquoise, Baby Blue, Jade Green, Berry, Cerise, Petunia and Pomegranate. Also included is a nice sized chunk of Medium Grey which is what I picked for my background and binding.

Abacus Full Res

Now, you don’t have to quilt along to enter and win, and what you make from these fabrics is entirely up to you! The contest is open to everyone through next Tuesday at noon.

To enter, just leave a comment below telling me which is your favorite quilt along that I’ve offered (or one you’d love for me to do in the future).

Click here to see all of my quilt alongs.

I know we don’t all have time to do every quilt along, but isn’t it fun to dream, or follow along virtually?

Abacus Quilt Along Schedule, Posted Each Wednesday:

  • Week 1 – Fusing & Cutting (September 24)
  • Week 2 – Machine Applique (October 1)
  • Week 3 – Sewing the Top (October 8)
  • Week 4 – Backing and Basting (October 15)
  • Week 5 – Machine Quilting (October 22)
  • Week 6 – Binding to Finish (October 29)
  • Parade of Quilts – November 12

New this year – a parade of quilts! If you finish your quilt by November 10th, email me a picture and I’ll feature it on my blog on November 12th!

Click here for the Abacus Quilt Along supply list.

Start gathering (or winning) your fabrics and I’ll see you next week!

EQP.S. I’ve also made Abacus available as a free EQ7 download. Click here to import it into your Electric Quilt software.

P.P.S. For a bonus entry, please share my Quilt Along logo on your blog, instagram, flickr, facebook, or social media of choice. #abacusqal

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Better late than never, I’m happy to announce the winner of last week’s Sizzix Die Cutter giveaway!

20140916_sizzix

Congratulations to Elizabeth M. aka catskillquilter who said,

“Amazing! Circles take a LONG time to cut correctly with scissors! I am following Sizzix on Facebook. Thanks for the chance!”

I agree – it was such a breeze to cut all of my circles with the Sizzix circle die!

Watch out for the next giveaway coming up on Thursday for your chance to win another fabulous prize! (Hint: look at the picture above – what other goodies do you see?)

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