Quilter's World Updates

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In the Quilting World

Quilter's World Update

Let me introduce myself: I'm Carolyn Vagts, editor of Quilter's World magazine and writer of this update. That's my day job, and at night, I'm an addicted quilter. I tend to eat, breath and sometimes sleep with my quilting. I have a beautiful studio with my work space right in it. How convenient, since I work at and with quilting. As editor, I am very hands-on with every issue. I also manage to design quilt patterns in my spare time. One of the things I try to incorporate in my patterns is versatility. A good pattern should be used many times. A pattern is the technical part of construction. It gives you the measurements to cut out the pieces and how to put those pieces together. What it doesn't give you is limitations on fabric choices or maybe the ability to tweak it. If you can visualize the changes you want, you can most likely execute them. I rarely make a pattern as it is given, even my own designs. I think of the pattern as a house under construction. It will need to be decorated with my style and my color choices. And maybe I'll need to redecorate a bit.

Focused is a pattern I designed to use a large-print fabric. The center of each block allows a large piece of fabric to be displayed without chopping up the motif on the fabric. Sometimes the fabric is much too beautiful to cut up. This pattern is available at AnniesCraftStore.com. It's a great pattern to make as it is given, or you can explore other options with it -- your choice!

Tic-Tac-Toe pattern
The Focused quilt pattern can be purchased at AnniesCraftStore.com.

My friends at AccuQuilt recently sent me some wonderful new applique dies. These are new releases to celebrate the company's 10th anniversary. I love to do fusible applique and couldn't wait to try out these new dies. This was an opportunity for me to break out my container of scraps and stashed batik fabrics. Once I saw the new dies, I knew I wanted to use my Focused pattern but tweak it a bit.

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Three new AccuQuilt dies.

My AccuQuilt die-cutting machines have become the most-used items in my studio of late. I can use them to cut almost any shape I want, and by doing this, I put my stash to good use. I decided to use the new frog die for this project. I knew just what I wanted to do. First, I selected several nice green batiks from my scraps, trimmed them to 6-inch squares and then applied fusible web to one side of each square. Now, I say "one side" instead of "wrong side" because with batiks it really doesn't matter which side. Batiks are just as beautiful on one side as the other, and that makes them perfect for this project. Also, batiks are the finest quality of material and rarely fray. This makes them perfect for many types of fusible applique. Using batiks and a great fusible web, like Bosal Splendid Web, will ensure a good finish. Once the fusible web was applied and cooled, I began to cut out my frogs.

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Cutting out my many frogs in different shades of green.

There is no easier way to cut out detailed applique than to use a die-cutting machine. You can cut out one at a time or a stack of them, and they're always perfect. I decided on a pale blue background fabric for the blocks after auditioning a few fabrics with my frogs. Then I cut out Woven Fusible Stabilizer #300, also made by Bosal, in squares large enough to cover any applique area on my blocks, and fused them to the back of each square I would be appliqueing. Using a stabilizer helps to make your stitches look beautiful, especially if you decide to use stitches other than the straight stitch. I'll be using a straight stitch for this project because of the detail in the applique.

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Adding the stabilizer to the back of each block before stitching will ensure a nice smooth surface.

Another great advantage to using batiks while die-cutting is the ability to reverse the motif by simply laying the fused fabric upside down when cutting.

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The frogs can easily be reversed by flipping over the fused piece of fabric and cutting it out that way.

Because I'm someone who simply can't do a pattern as it is given, I decided to add a few lily pads to the mix.

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Cutting out a few lily pads to add to some of the blocks.

After I fused all the block centers, I began the process of stitching the applique into place. To get a nice finish and make the intricate curves and detail I reduced my stitch length to a 1.8 setting and went slowly, making sure to use the needle-down feature. This feature will allow you to make the sharp turns without losing any spacing in your stitches.

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Slowly stitching all my frogs and lily pads into place.

After all the applique was completed, I had to make more decisions. I used the Focused pattern as my inspiration for this quilt, but I wanted to use fabrics from my scrap stash. So I pulled out aqua and blue scrap fabrics, pressed them, and started to cut the strips needed from them. I wanted to create the feel of a pond with the scrappy strips.

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Sorting out scraps in aquas and blues that are large enough to cut strips from.

After I had several strips cut, I began to stitch them to a couple around the appliqued frog squares in no particular order, Log Cabin style.

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Stitching random shades of blues and aquas around several blocks to see how they would look.

I continued adding the strips until I had the blocks complete to the right size and pressed them. I loved them. The colors were just what I wanted, and the AccuQuilt die frog shape was the cutest. The detail of the frog was crisp and clear, and by cutting out the frogs with the die, I saved a boatload of time. And all my frogs are perfect. This is going to make a very special quilt for a very special little boy. This will definitely be a one-of-a-kind quilt.

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After I get this adorable quilt top finished, it's on to the new elephant AccuQuilt die and probably my pink and purple batik scraps. I bet I could easily make a dozen quilts just with my scraps and small pieces of stashed fabrics.

If you're looking for a fun way to use your scraps, maybe it's time to check out an AccuQuilt die-cutting machine. There are so many possibilities!

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