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In the Quilting World

Autumn Colors & Pumpkins

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, breathe 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'm also very hands-on with this update. I love to share my experiences with other quilters in hopes it will inspire them to explore the endless possibilities available to them.

With each update I select a book or pattern to accompany it. It's usually something that I feel goes along with the content of my update. It's that time of the year again where I get itchy to work on fun autumn projects. My favorite time of the year is autumn. I love the colors, the cool evenings, the harvesting of the fields and gardens, and, of course, Thanksgiving. This is the time of year I find I get really creative. All I want to do is stay in my studio and create. I love the rich autumn colors and truly enjoy working with those colors to decorate my home. Pumpkin Patch Place Mats is a pattern that is most appropriate for the season, and I must admit it's what got me started on this quest to create the perfect topper for my dining table -- one that could be used from September to Thanksgiving. Ahh, pumpkins. Pumpkins are the perfect solution. I do love Halloween also, but that is a much shorter season. So, without further ado, I began to plan my topper.

Patches & Pinwheels
The Pumpkin Patch Place Mats pattern can be purchased at AnniesCraftStore.com.

First, I had to decide just what I wanted to applique onto my topper, so I began sketching pumpkins and leaves. I knew I wanted my topper to be more round than squarish, so I decided to go with a wedge-style topper using a 30-degree ruler with a round "petal" end. This particular ruler is 9 1/2 inches at its widest and 20 inches long. Once the decision was made to use the wedge ruler, I checked to make sure the pumpkins were the right size for the wedges. Then it was time to cut out the wedges from my chosen background fabric.

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My sketched pumpkins and cutting out the background wedges.

After I cut out all the wedges from the background fabric, I then selected fabrics from my scraps to make the pumpkins and leaves. Now this is where a nice stash of scraps is wonderful. I save all my scraps, sorting them by warm and cool colors, and storing them in see-through containers. I can't even imagine not having these containers full of fabric since I use them so often. They are my source for endless inspiration and my go-to place for most any project.

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The background wedges cut out, the pumpkins drawn on double-sided, paper-release fusible web, and a selection of autumn-color fabrics!

Once I had the fabrics sorted into possible pumpkins and leaf colors, I cut the traced fusible-web shapes apart and sorted them into piles. Then I began to iron the fusible-web shapes to the chosen fabrics.

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Fusible-web shapes cut apart and sorted into piles and then fused to fabrics.

When all the pieces were fused and trimmed, I began fusing the pumpkin pieces into place on each of the wedges. I had made two sizes of pumpkins, so I made six wedges with the larger pumpkin and six with the smaller. Once I had laid out the pumpkins and added the leaves, it was obvious that my larger leaves were too big so I set them aside and traced more of the smaller leaves. If you're going to make changes to a design, now is the time to make them. Not too many designs are perfect the first time around. Tweaking is usually necessary -- well, at least for me.

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Laying out the applique pieces before fusing them into place.

With my pumpkins fused into place, I added stabilizer to the back side of each wedge. Next I straight-stitched the inner curves on the pumpkins with a slightly darker-color thread, and then I switched to a machine buttonhole stitch to sew the outer edges of each of the pumpkin bodies and stems. This took a while, but doing each piece slowly ensures a nice finish.

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Stitching the pumpkins into place with a buttonhole stitch.

After all the pumpkins were stitched into place, I fused the leaves into place and began stitching them. The "vines," or whatever you want to call them, will be stitched in place when I quilt the topper. Adding detail when I quilt a piece is something I love to do.

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Using a buttonhole stitch gives the leaves and pumpkins a nice finish.

With all the applique stitching completed I started stitching the wedges together into pairs to make six sets. Then I stitched three sets into one half, repeating to make the second half. Lastly, I stitched the two halves together to complete the appliqued top of my round table topper.

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Two wedge units stitched together.
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My table topper is ready to layer, quilt and bind!

I love my pumpkin table topper and can't wait for another free afternoon when I can layer and quilt it. Using the things you already have in your sewing room or studio can be so much fun! The satisfaction one feels knowing that you already have everything you need to complete a project without running to the quilt shop is amazing. It makes it all worthwhile when I have to clean my studio.

If you have an idea for a project, make it! Just remember that every quilt pattern started somewhere on someone's design wall or sketch pad. If you can't find what you're looking for, maybe you need to design it yourself. I bet you're more talented than you think.

If you have any tips on how you channel your ideas into quilts I'd love to hear from you at editor@quiltersworld.com.

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