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Sewing Cuddle Strip Quilts

Teresa Coates Fat Quarter Shop video

I’m often on the road teaching quilters and sewists how to sew with minky/Cuddle fabrics, and this summer I was able to film some videos with Fat Quarter Shop. In this video I share a bunch of tips and tricks for making the most popular kind of Cuddle project: the strip quilt. Shannon Fabrics offers a wide variety of quilt kits, from 27″ squares to 58″ x 72″ throws, but regardless, they are all constructed in the same method. If you’ve been wanting to make one, but weren’t sure how, this video is for you:

Still have questions? Go ahead and ask!

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Larry the Lion — sewing plush stuffed animals

You’ve probably seen Funky Friends Factory patterns in a quilt shop somewhere along the way. They are popular among sewists, but usually whenever I’ve asked someone about their experience with the pattern, they admit that they’ve been too scared to try! Like so many fabrics and quilt patterns, these stuffed animal patterns often live in our stash but never get put to use. That’s just silly–give it a try!

As a pattern, Larry the Lion is cute, but thankfully I’d seen Gayle Camargo’s version in Luxe Cuddle and I knew it could be so much more. I used Luxe Cuddle Hide for the body, Llama Cuddle for the mane and Cuddle for the face. First thing I did was print out the pattern at 120% (in retrospect 150% would have been so much easier) and tape the pieces together as needed. I traced each piece on the back of the appropriate fabric using a Sharpie and then cut them out with my favorite Famore Scalpel Style Seam Ripper. Then it was just a matter of following the pattern. Honestly, Pauline is one of my favorite pattern writers; the directions are clear and she has photos and videos on her site to make it all even easier.

Once I got the muzzle put together, I was sold on it. So freaking cute already and it’s just six pieces so far!

One thing to remember when you are working with Cuddle is to use a walking foot. This would have sat forever under a standard foot, but the walking foot and a longer stitch length makes it sail right through (this is on the Bernina 350QE).

Another tool that really helped with this project was ByAnnie’s stiletto. It has a thin metal shank at the one end to help push fabric down under the foot as it sews. It also works beautifully to pull up the fibers that get stuck in the seams.

Completely pieced together but totally flat, Larry looks more like roadkill.

So I stuffed him really well with almost an entire 16oz. bag of Royal Silk fiber fill from Fairfield. First his feet and legs, then his head, but and finally his body. Just keep stuffing until he’s full, then knot off some threads for the whiskers and toes, and … ta-dah!

I’m so thrilled with him!! It’s a shame I had to pack him off for Quilt Festival, but I think he’ll be my new travel companion for classes in 2019. He’s too cute to leave at home.

P.S. If you’ll be at Quilt Market, come by booth #1400 and say hi! During Quilt Festival I’ll be teaching a bunch of classes and also in booth #100 doing demos. Hope to see you there!

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Filming for The Quilt Show

One thing I never expected to happen in my life:

  • film an episode of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.

But that’s exactly what I did on Saturday afternoon.

The craziness began at Quilt Market in the spring when Alex came by the Shannon Fabrics booth, excited to share the Wyatt Wolf quilt with her audience. I’d made it with a bunch of Luxe Cuddle, Cuddle Suede and Kona Cotton –which is kinda crazy in and of itself– and used a paper piecing pattern from Violet Craft to do it.  She invited me to come on the show and I did.

We talked about the Wolf Abstractions quilt, as well as the Ascension quilt I’d made with Hawke, a denim quilt I’ve been working on as a commission and the Freewheelin’ Single Girl quilt I made for myself.  All include fabrics/materials that are atypical in quilting: plush fabrics, denim, knits, used clothing, silver lame and more.

I have watched a dozen or so episodes of the show and have always enjoyed it, but I wasn’t expecting the level of production or kindness that I got.  Ricky is incredibly talented and his quilts left my mouth gaping. Alex is a pro at making people comfortable. Everyone behind the scenes was happy to answer questions, fetch waters, help carry samples and be there when I needed them.

The best part, though, was that my daughter was able to join me and play personal assistant/cheerleader. It made the entire weekend so much better to have her there, supporting my work and calming my nerves.

The show will air sometime later this year or early 2019.

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Join me at Quilt Festival!

I'll be teaching at Houston Quilt FestivalI’m super excited that I will be staying in Houston after Quilt Market this November to teach at Quilt Festival!

Friday

Friday Sampler 10am to noon

Take the Fear out of Sewing Plush Fabrics 6pm to 9pm

Saturday

Quick & Easy Cuddle Quilts 8am to 5pm

Sunday

Sew a Luxe Stuffed Animal 9am to noon {SOLD OUT}

I’ll be making up kits and more tip sheets, prepping for all the classes PLUS I’ll be in the Custom Creations booth with Cindy, the Fat Quarter Queen.

I hope I’ll see you there!

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Alex Anderson and I doing tutorials– whoda thunk?

I met Alex Anderson last fall at Quilt Market, years after I started following her in the quilt industry.  I look up to her immensely as she has much the same passion that I do about sewing and quilting. We both really just want everyone to find their happy place here! A lot of that passion involves teaching the basics and I’ve often admired her Alex’s ability to seem so approachable and excited in her public presentation.  The truth is, she is actually one of the nicest people I’ve met.  She knows her stuff, too.

As the head educator for Shannon Fabrics, she invited me up to her home in northern California to do some videos and I jumped at the chance.  It was a mix of fear, excitement, admiration, and joy to be honest.  But I’m so glad I did it.  We got to share some great information and I got to get over my awkwardness (or at least a bit) by the time we filmed the last video.

If you are interested in sewing with Cuddle fabrics, I think we’ve included some helpful info. Give ’em a watch and let me know what else you are curious to know.

You can see more tutorials and interview on The Quilt Show YouTube channel.

xo,

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What’s What: Top-stitching, Edge-stitching, Under-stitching

 The Back to School Blog Hop is back and I’m excited to participate again this year.  We had a great run last year (I talked about all sort of pressing issues – pardon the pun) and it’s back again with 32 sewists and quilters sharing our hard-earned wisdom with y’all.  Thanks to the amazing Sam Hunter for spearheading this yet again! Check out the end of this post for a link to all the participating blogs.


If you got your start with sewing in the quilting realm, top-stitching, edge-stitching, and under-stitching can seem a bit foreign when you find them in your apparel/bag/accessory patterns. They sound pretty similar, and they actually are, but each serves different functions in the construction of your sewing project.

Let’s start with the most common: Top-stitching.

This is the one we are most familiar with; it’s used to emphasize the structure of a garment’s design and gives a nice, flat edge to collars and cuffs, pockets and necklines.

Technically the top-stitching should be 1/4″ from the edge, so if you have a 1/4″ foot for your machine, this is the perfect time to break it out.  You will get a much straighter stitch line and since the whole point is for the stitch line to show, it’s important. If you don’t have a 1/4″ foot, use something that will bump against the edge of your fabric to keep it in place (a stack of Post-Its work great).

The top-stitching on the denim jacket was done with two stitching lines, 1/4″ apart, but if you’re doing this kind of top stitching someplace where the back won’t be seen (along a waistband, a mock flat fell seam, etc), you can use the wide double needle instead.

The purpose of top-stitching is really two-fold: keep the edge flat and add a design element. The second aspect means it’s a time you can use fancy and/or heavier threads. If you have some nice 30 wt. threads, this is a great way to use them, especially on heavier fabrics such as wool, denim and linens. I used 30 wt. (Coats and Clark) and 40 wt. (Aurifil) red thread on this piece of wool and you can see that the top one shows up a bit better.

But the real difference is the stitch length.  Take note that extending your stitch length on top stitching is important. When I use a 4.0mm stitch length, it looks best to me.

On these I used the wide double needle to create parallel top-stitching on wool, merino wool, and canvas. You can see the the coarser wool eats the thread a bit more, so I’d probably want to use an even heavier thread for top-stitching if I really want it to pop, while it shows up beautifully on the canvas.


Edge-stitching is a close cousin to top-stitching, but makes for an even crisper, neater edge. It’s generally used on collars and cuffs, as well as alongside zippers on pouches, pocket edges, bag straps and bag openings.

   
Stitching line is about 1/8″ (or less) from the edge/fold and is used more as a tool for keeping the edge flat than as a decorative addition. Use a standard weight thread that matches your fabric.

But how do you get it to stay straight, you wonder… a lovely little invention called an Edge-stitch foot (sometimes it is referred to as a Joining foot or Stitch-in-the-Ditch foot). I first stumbled onto it about five years ago when I was teaching at Modern Domestic.  I was instantly sold and if you don’t have one already, I want you to head over to your local sewing machine shop and pick one up. Now.

The little guide down the middle keeps your edge straight and with a tick of your needle, you’ll be sewing a consistently straight line down the edge of your piece.  It’s a little magic for your machine and adds a whole level of ‘pro’ to your sewing, I promise.


And for the one that confuses too many: Under-stitching.  Used almost exclusively in garment sewing, it can be a bit bewildering.  It’s a technique that is very important when sewing apparel, though, so make sure you don’t skip it because it seems unnecessary. It can make a huge difference in how a garment lies on the body.

First, you’ll sew your seam, then press with your iron (on an appropriate heat seating) to set the seam.  From the wrong side, press the seam allowance toward your facing/lining.  Turn it over and press from the right side (use a pressing cloth if needed), keeping the seam allowance to the facing/lining side.

Use your edge-stitch foot, ticking your needle over just slightly to the left, and run the guide down the seam line, sewing the facing/lining to the seam allowance.

 

You will use a standard weight thread that coordinates with your fabric so it doesn’t show (i used red only so you can see it).  Then fold the lining at the seam and it will automatically pull toward the inside, hiding the lining and the hard edge of the seam.

This is the lining of a little girls dress, made with Embrace double gauze, and you can see how neat it makes the whole neckline look, both the back where we can see the facing and the front where the outer fabric curves over beautifully.


So there you have it: Top-stitching, Edge-stitching and Under-stitching.  Each has purpose and learning how to master them will make all your sewing and quilting better, more handmade and less homemade.  If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to check out everyone else in the Back to School Blog Hop 2017!

Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt – www.huntersdesignstudio.com

Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting – www.mandalei.com

Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling – www.justquiltingpdx.com

Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine – www.LoveBugStudios.com

Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates – www.designcamppdx.blogspot.com

Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching – www.crinkledreams.com

Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo – www.vintagefabricstudio.com

Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique – www.thebitchystitcher.com

Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com

Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines – www.quiltingjetgirl.com

Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips – www.craftyplanner.com

Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children – www.thetartankiwi.com

Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution – www.badassquilterssociety.com

Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric – www.wombatquilts.com

Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam – www.sewmuchcosplay.com

Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread – www.terificreations.com

Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www. higheredhands.blogspot.com

Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) – www.ipleadquilty.com

Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) – www.jessicakdarling.com

Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com

Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching – www.smudgeddesignstudio.com

Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs – www.quiltjane.com

Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room – www.onequiltingcircle.com

Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine – www.christaquilts.com

Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch – www.berrybarndesigns.com

Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding – www.websterquilt.blogspot.com

Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro – www.sarahgoerquilts.com

Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips – www.chittenden.co.za

Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips – www.muppin.com

Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them – www.gogokim.com

Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué – www.sandrahealydesigns.com

Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting – www.utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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Curves Ahead: a series for 2017

There’s something about a nice curve that you can’t help but love. Smooth, swooping, they are beautiful and this year I’m going to help you learn to tackle them in your sewing and quilting. I’ve long been a fan of them and after asking what you, dear readers, want to learn in 2017, it sounds like a lot (a lot!) of sewists want to master this one.

Together we’re going to take this one on and I’ll give you a little insight into how I work, and hopefully you can take a little bit of that and make it work for you, too.

Each month I’ll post a tutorial on a certain kind of curve sewing and then explore patterns that use it so you can practice each skill.  We’ll learn about:

  • freeform/improv curves
  • curvy needle-turn applique
  • inset circles
  • Drunkard’s Path blocks
  • Double Wedding Ring blocks
  • Winding Ways blocks
  • Clamshell blocks
  • Apple Core paper piecing
  • scalloped binding
  • and garment-making, too

  If you have other techniques you’d like to see, just let me know! I’ll add in some posts that share my opinion and experience with various rulers, rotary cutters, dies, templates, and more.  It should be lots of fun and (fingers crossed) will be helpful to you! Look for the first post in early February when we tackle the Drunkard’s Path block. If you want to make sure and follow along, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll include additional tips, the series schedule and post recaps for you in each monthly email.

In the mean time, find some scraps that are at least 8″ square, get out your template plastic (or a cereal box), and get ready to give the Drunkard’s Path block a shot.

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A Grand Finale

The story begins last October at Fall Quilt Market in Houston. Like everyone else I was awed by Elizabeth Hartman’s Fancy Forest Quilt and wanted to make it. So I proposed that we make it with some Hoffman/Me+You batiks and sell bundles, teach the class, make everyone happy. It worked and over ten weeks, starting in late February, I taught (with the stalwart assistance of the amazing Paula Chipman) 42 students to make the Fancy Forest quilt. I’m proud to say that a good number of them actually finished: 6 of them with the full quilt and a dozen more finished the small version.

It was amazing to see them all complete the myriad animals, struggling at times and cheering with their own success at others. The class was all I had imagined and more, with it becoming a support group of sorts, students encouraging each other as much (or more) than I was encouraging them. Paula helped me out every Sunday class, keeping me in check when needed and getting me back on track when my rambling wandered off. I could not have done it without her.

On our final day, I felt a bit misty-eyed watching everyone still working so diligently on their quilt tops. Then Eileen handed me a bag and said it was for us. I looked at her quizzically, then peered inside to find these beauties. She’d painted us our very own Fancy Forest quilts! I nearly lost it, gave her a huge (maybe awkward) hug and thanked her one million times. 

We’ve filled up the Fabric Depot class again and the next session (with “only” 24 this time) starts Sunday after this. I can hardly wait to get in the classroom again and see what this crew makes.