Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Update on Green Tea and Sweet Beans

 If anyone is interested, Mrs. Pickles (the cat) is now on antibiotics! Let's hope for a full and speedy recovery! Does anyone want a cat, as both are stray cats on the farm?

I did very well at keeping up with the sew-alongs this year. The Wonderful Woodland is ready to be quilted; Among the Stars Again is already quilted and waiting for the binding to arrive. The Long Time Gone and Wanderer's Wife quilts are in the "to be quilted" pile. And Boho Heart needs the binding and the backing made. That has NEVER happened before that I'm as up-to-date with those sew-alongs, and there were FIVE of them. 

However, I'm doing another sew-along -- Green Tea and Sweet Beans and let's just say I'm behind! Big time behind! This was one of the projects I took to the retreat, and while I'm still behind, I've made tremendous progress. Let's take a look. 

These blocks are totally pieced. I had made four of the little pinwheels when the block was assigned but needed 12 more. So all of the pinwheels (actually, it's called propeller) are done, and the units are sewn together to make one big block. The other block was assigned this past month, and now it's together. 

Pieced block for Green Tea and Sweet Beans

And yes -- I twirled the seams on the back. It's so easy and makes the blocks lie so much flatter!

Twirled seams

There are still a couple of pieced blocks, but they are funky, so some thought has to go into how to sew them. The pattern was made for hand-piecing, and I'm not hand-piecing the blocks!

Next up is some applique. I'm mixing up the applique techniques in the quilt. Why not? It was easier to show the class the different methods when I did it right on this quilt, although by now, you'd think I'd have demos and examples of how all the other techniques are done! 

This is the FIRST block that was assigned, which wasn't even done yet! I use embroidery thread for the top (SULKY 40-weight) in a color that mostly matches the applique shapes. So many other brands of thread that can be used and other stitches, although I like to use a satin stitch. Though I prefer a 40-weight embroidery thread, you could use other threads - even cotton, which is not my favorite. There's no right or wrong with this -- if it works for you, then do it! And let's not forget that open-toe foot, which is critical to the success of machine applique. 

Using the open-toe foot for applique

I put a stabilizer on the back. This is where I use the scraps left from the machine embroidery. People frequently get confused with stabilizers, interfacings, interlinings, and fusibles. There are a ton of products, and each does a different job. I did a demo on the subject a while back and wrote one article on the fusible, and I don't think I got around to writing the one on stabilizers yet. Yikes! 

The stabilizer on the back

That stabilizer (Tear-A-Way is one brand) pulls off the back very easily once you've done the stitching. I ONLY need to use the stabilizer when doing a satin stitch; there's no need to use a stabilizer when you do a blanket stitch. It's the density of the stitch and the width of the stitch that make the stabilizer necessary. 

The stabilizer is removed from the back

And then, I turn the block upside down and give it a press on my wool pressing mat. 

Pressing the block from the wrong side 

OH -- I forgot to mention that I use pre-wound bobbins in the bobbin. Black or white, as when doing satin stitching, there's no need to put a matching thread in the bobbin. And I keep my almost empty pre-wounds to use up when doing applique. You'd be surprised how much is left on those almost empty pre-wounds! I use pre-wounds for machine embroidery, in case you're wondering. 

A pack of pre-wound bobbins

During my applique session, I emptied two spools of thread and one pre-wound bobbin. 

Out with the empties!

Here are the blocks that were done with raw edge applique and are now stitched. Yeah -- I'm so excited to be making progress! There are other blocks, but they had already been finished. 

Applique blocks - DONE

You have to love those points! 

A perfect applique point

And those orange peels are a breeze to go around, and no build-up in the center! 

The center of the orange peel block

And a perfect leaf!!

A beautifully finished leaf

So all the pieced blocks are together, and all the raw edge blocks were stitched. It's time to tackle the applique blocks where I turned the edges under with starch. 

This time to stitch them down, I use this thread called The Bottom Line by Superior Threads. Speaking of which, Heather Purcell (Mother Superior of Superior Threads -- passed away last week -- way too young. She and her husband started the company in 1998. I believe the company had been sold a couple of years ago, and they were no longer actively running the company). Let's just say that I LOVE their thread. And they have an amazing education section on their website

The Bottom Line thread

When this product came out, I splurged and purchased ALL the colors. They have new colors; I should get the rest as I LOVE the product. 

My collection of the Bottom Line thread

I use starch to turn the edges under and then stitch in place with the sewing machine, using an elongated zigzag. Again, I'm using the open-toe foot to see what's happening. If you do NOT have an open-toe foot, you NEED to buy one. Besides my quarter-inch foot, it's one that I use a lot. 

Using the open-toe foot for invisible applique

Look at how nice the edges look when stitched in place. Unless you look close, you wouldn't even know that it was stitched by a machine. And the sewing machine I'm using has a width of 1.5 or 1.0 for the zigzag; I really must get the PFAFF out because it can be set for a stitch width of 1.3, which is what I really want to use. Wait -- I'm not done with my applique -- I'll do that!

Invisible machine applique

And here are the applique blocks I worked on. The outside of the block is pieced, and the center is appliqued in place. 

My Garden Path blocks

This brings me to this block. This is the last block that is partially cut or sewn. After this one is done, I have more to cut and prep, as I'm still behind, but only by four or five blocks. 

The problem with this one is that the pieces are a smidgen too large. You have to trim the block to 8½", which would cut the green corners off, which will never do. And we had to make two of them, and I had only one prepped. 

One more applique block

So I sized the templates down a wee bit and was busy prepping the pieces last night. I have FOUR pieces left to prep, but I was tired, so I'll get to those today!

Prepping the applique shapes

My goal is to get those stitched in place, and then I have to move on to the prep work for the class this coming weekend. The four or five blocks I'm' behind will just have to wait for another day!

But how exciting to get that much done and to be up-to-date, more or less. OK - so - I"m not up-to-date, but I'm much further along than last week. There's hope for anyone who is behind! 

I see that one of the stores (Thimbles and Things) has released its fall class list, and I'm starting two new sew-alongs and some demos. Be sure to check that out. I MUST get that list of all the projects I'm teaching so you know which ones you want to sign up for. I'll try to get that done by the weekend. 

I'm back on a countdown with a definitive end date, so I need to get focused. Let's see -- a huge writing assignment (but I got started yesterday), a quilt to make (it got designed yesterday), four customer quilts to quilt (got to get started on that today), and a few clubs to prep for (did some of that yesterday), but I'm in slow motion mode. Slow and steady, there's no rush (yet), so I walked almost 15 KM yesterday -- went to the grocery store TWICE! 

I'll need to pick up the pace to get everything done, but I'll get there! 

And for those behind on any of the Jen Kingwell classes or if you haven't even started one, there's the make-up class for FOUR of the Jen Kingwell quilts -- Long Time Gone, Wanderer's Wife, Boho Heart, and Green Tea and Sweet Beans. They'll be combined into ONE class, so it's not a teaching class per se, but more a motivational class to help those that fell behind! Watch for more details on that. 

Well, I'm off to spin class. Yeah -- the fun never ends here. 

Have a great day!!!


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