The Mad Patcher

The Mad Patcher

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Happy Color Quilt

QuiltingPosted by The Mad Patcher Feb 11, 2017 01:53PM
I did it! I finished my happy color quilt. For the longest time I had 2/3 of a jelly roll hidden away in a corner, because I didn't know what to do with it. About a month ago I was browsing through various quilting channels and then it struck me - finally I had an idea! I used Angela Walters' Strip City Quilt from the Midnight Quilt Show as an inspiration. I improvised here and there, so I did not follow here instructions to the point. For example I added three squares that are different than the others to make it more interesting.

At first I didn't have enough color strips in my jelly roll, but I just added some leftover black and white strips from another roll and that solved my problem. I finished piecing the top after only two nights, because it was so much fun! I spent a lot of time measuring and cutting my pieces as accurately as possible and for this reason almost all the points matched up perfectly in the end.

This time I found it really difficult to find a proper backing for my quilt. I spent A LOT of time going back and forth between different fabrics at the fabric store and I ultimately decided on an apple background - I was still doubting my decision even when I had bought the fabric - but when I added it to the quilt sandwich I had finished the binding I was really happy about my decision. I ended up liking the backing so much, because all the colors from the front are represented in the apples and it gives the quilt a playful touch.

For the quilting I chose a simple diamond pattern. Angela Walters does a similar thing, though she adds a floral pattern to the middle of each square. I chose not to do that, because the colors on my quilt were already busy enough. I quilted with a walking foot to make sure that all the layers got fed through the sewing machine evenly. I used the fabric corners as orientation points for my quilting and I think it turned out great. We already love it here at home. It adds some color and happiness to these dark winter days.

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How to attach and use a walking foot

QuiltingPosted by The Mad Patcher Nov 27, 2016 09:06PM
If you are fairly new to quilting, or maybe sewing in general, you will probably wonder what this curious looking sewing machine foot is. It is called a walking foot. A walking foot is a quilter's best friend and many fellow sewers swear by it when sewing garments and bags. Especially when handling several thick layers of fabric and stretchy fabrics the walking foot, also called 'even feed foot', will make sewing easier.

Every time your needle moves up and down your feed dogs, the zigzaggy things under your needle, will move up and grab the fabric to move it backwards. This makes sewing easier and gives a more even stitch length, since you do not have to pull the fabric through manually. Some fabrics tend to shift when moving them through the sewing machine. This happens because the feed dogs only pull on one side. The walking foot makes it possible for all layers to move evenly, because it provides feed dogs on the upper side of the fabric.

I have seen many new sewers ask questions about how to attach and use the walking foot. Compared to other sewing machine feet this one looks like a monster, but believe me when I say it looks worse than it is. Just follow these steps:

1. Screw off your existing sewing machine foot.
2. Attach the walking foot by attaching (in this case) the black part with the screw to the foot holder on your machine.
3. Make sure that the movable arm on your foot is grabbing the needle arm on your machine. The needle arm is right where the tightening screw of the needle is located. This will make sure that your walking foot's feed dogs move up and down every time your needle moves up and down.

For first-timers I recommend going nice and slow to get used to the foot.

Quilters are dealing with at least three layers of fabric and even if the quilt is properly basted, it can sometimes be difficult to keep the layers from shifting. A walking foot will prevent this from happening. It is important to notice that the walking foot is not recommmended for free motion quilting. You will need a darning / embroidery foot for free motion quilting.

Walking feet tend to be a little more expensive than other feet but you get a lot of utility out of them, so it's worth it. As I mentioned before you can use them for sewing garments and other stretchy fabrics as well. I recommend avoiding the cheepest models, since the plastic parts in them tend to be less durable. But you don't necessarily have to use a brand foot either, since most mid-price range feet are just as good.

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Piece, press, quilt

QuiltingPosted by The Mad Patcher Nov 16, 2016 02:33PM

I never iron my clothes - but I always press my seams when sewing quilts. Mostly because a proper pressing makes projects look so much more professional and working with on it is so much more fun.

You can reduce a lot of bulk by pressing your seams flat, which will make the layering of the top, batting and back easier to deal with.

Just give your pieces a gentle press. You can use steam, if you want to, but try to avoid moving the iron back and forth too much, since this may stretch your fabric and ruin the shape of your piece. Don't iron your seams.

I always press my seams to the side. Some people like to press their seams open, but I prefer pressing them to the side, since an open seam will make it impossible for you to stitch in the ditch when quilting and I usually do not think about my quilting pattern before I actually start quilting. Most quilters agree that pressing your seam to the dark side is best, since the dark fabric won't show through the light fabric in the end.

In some cases you may have to square up your pieces - pressing your piece will make it easier to get exact squares. Also your pieces will line up more accurately, especially if you make sure to press seams that are going to form an intersection in each their direction, so they can nest properly.

Protip: Make sure to give your seams a little press before you actually open up the fabric to press it to the side. This will set the seam and make it more receptive to a precise pressing.

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Quilting - 5 beginner mistakes

QuiltingPosted by Jaqueline Nov 16, 2016 01:55PM

I made so many rookie mistakes when I started quilting. Most people would probably agree that you never stop learning, no matter how long you've been doing it. This is certainly true when it comes to quilting - but that is what makes it fun, right? You will inevitably become better at it every single time, so go for it!

1. Not paying enough attention to accuracy when cutting pieces

When I started quilting I thought that cutting my pieces would be the smallest of my problems. I had a standard long ruler that is usually used for paper-crafting and I had a pair of relatively short scissors not made for cutting fabrics - but I thought that would be okay, since they were really sharp.

In my very first project I wanted to piece together 5 inch squares and long strips. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, since my cutting was not very straight, all my pieces were kinda off, which made it extremely difficult to put the squares together and still maintain a straight line throughout the quilt. So the most important thing was getting a bigger ruler - 5 by 16 inches should suffice - even better if it's a non-slip ruler.

Protip: If you don't like cutting yardage, you can by precuts in different sizes at many fabric stores.

2. Not marking my 1/4 inch line

It is very common for quilters to have a 1/4 inch seam allowance when they sew together their pieces. Now I know why! Before I started quilting I read about it on internet blogs and because I was so excited to start sewing my own quilt, I did not pay enough attention to this detail. I put my pieces together with what I thought was the same seam allowance, but when I tried putting together my rows almost none of my corners matched.

Most quilters use the 1/4 inch, because it is easy to calculate with and many machines have a 1/4 mark that you can follow when sewing. It gives you just enough seam allowance to make the pressing of the seams easier and to not waste any fabric. If your machine does not have a mark, you can mark it yourself. If you feel uncomfortable drawing directly on your machine you can place a piece of tape where you need to set your mark and draw on the tape. Simply measure a 1/4 inch from the needle and set your mark.

Protip: You can get presser feet for most machines that have a 1/4 inch "guide".

3. Not pressing my seams

When I started quilting I did not even own an iron. Honestly, I hate ironing and always make sure that my new clothing does not require this kind of care. I created my first project completely without setting or pressing my seams. That was definitely a mistake. My fabric was bulking up everywhere.

If you want to keep your seams straight and make it easier to join them accurately with other seams later on, it is important to press them. The buzzword here is PRESSING - not ironing! If you go back and forth while pressing on your freshly joined pieces, your fabric might stretch and make it impossible to created exact squares afterward.

When pressing your seams, apply a slight pressure with your iron and only move it back and forth a bit if absolutely necessary.

Protip: Pressing your seams in opposite directions will make nesting easier and create perfect intersections. Let all seams on a joined stripe go in the same direction and all seams of the stripe that you want to join it with in the other direction. When you put the stripes right sides together you will feel the seams locking really nicely against each other.

4. Not pinning enough

If you are all new to the whole quilting thing, pinning can be a lifesaver. Better safe than sorry, right?

I did not use enough pins when I started, which led to me using the seam ripper a quadrillion times before I got things right. Once you get a feeling for quilting and piecing you won't need the pins anymore.

Protip: If you do not like pinning, you can use fabric glue, which will wash out, or sewing clips.

5. Choosing a very thick batting

We love my first quilt here at home, because it is nice and warm. It is actually more like a duvet, which is great. However, when I quilted it, the fact that I used a very thick batting for my first project did make it somewhat more complicated. First of all my sewing machine had to go through a very thick layer, so I had to use a stronger needle, which I figured out after struggling with it for quite a while.

My first quilt was quite large and it was a hassle to move this monster through the sewing machine. I had to baste my layers much more than I have to with thinner batting, unfortunately I figured that out after I was done. I pin-basted it every 10 inches, but it should have been every 5. When the batting is very thick the fabric can easily pull in awkward directions while moving through the machine, which is why the basting is so important.

So to make your first project a little easier to deal with, do yourself a favor and choose a thinner batting.

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