Friday, January 30, 2015

Month 1 of The Austin Bluebird Sampler

I will be checking in every once in awhile and show you some hints and technique to make the Austin Bluebird Sampler.  The first month has the big appliqué block with the bird in the cherry and pear tree.  I thought I'd post some pictures of how I did it.  I will also show how I enlarged the design without resorting to a printer.
We are dealing with just the appliqué right now.  The templates for the bird, leaves, pears, cherries, and such are all FULL SIZE in your pattern instructions.  What is not full size is the whole diagram. If you choose to enlarge it either on your home printer or at a office supply store - that is certainly one way to go.  With an appliqué this simple (yes - simple!) I choose to only draw the vine onto my background piece of fabric.  Since the other shapes are printed full size in your directions - they are ready to go.  This is how I go about tracing the full size vine (or tree branch) onto the background fabric.

I have drawn an 18" square onto graph paper. This is the diagram of this 18" block on the left.

Next, (I know this is hard to see - sorry) I have placed a dot onto the corresponding square where the vine crosses a grid line on the graph paper.  The small picture is on a graph - and the corresponding larger graph now has the dots where the vine crosses the large lines.  Just deal with the vine - not any other shapes. Now I just connect the dots....

Now my vine is drawn full size onto the 18" square.  This dark line is easily traced onto my 19" square background fabric using a light box or just tracing - since the background fabric is so light.  This is the only thing I draw onto my background fabric.  I draw it in light pencil or a washable marker.  This is the hardest part - and now it's over with.  Whew!

Looking at the diagram I see the first thing I need to appliqué is the bird.  Once the bird is sewn in place, the vine covers the bottom of it's feet.  In a futile, yet never-ending attempt to tackle my scrap box, this version of the Austin Bluebird Sampler is scrappy.

Now I place the horizontal vines next and sew them into place.

The vertical part of the vine is next, covering the raw ends of the horizontal vines.  Note that the branch with the bird, the upper right branch and the bottom vertical part of the vine needs to be appliquéd on all the edges - not just the long ones.  They are not covered by another appliqué piece.

Next I cut out all the other shapes.  You will see by the diagram that they all are placed on or around the vine.  You can place them by eye.  No surgical accuracy is needed - this is simple, folk art appliqué.  Just plop them down with the diagram as your guide and stitch in place.

The last thing I sew down is the berries (just my choice).  I make berries this way........

I cut out the circle shapes out of a heavy paper or card stock.  You may have card stock that you use in your home printer.  If not - never fear - you will have some of these.  Use those card inserts that are in all your magazines.  I cut out the circles (if you have a paper punch from the scrap booking store - these are quite nifty).  I also cut out fabric circle that are about 1/4" bigger all the way around.
This step is rather forgiving.  As you can see my fabric circles are not perfect, while my paper punched card stock ones are.  The next step is to take a running stitch all around the fabric circle about 1/8" in from the edge.  Gather the thread and snug it tight.  
This is the back side of the circles.  They are a bit un-tidy, but no fear - they are perfect on the other side.  Now I take these to my ironing board and spritz them with a bit of spray starch of Best Press.  I press them.  Once they are cool and dry, I snip the basting stitches and pull out the card stock circle.

Because of the pressing, the circles will keep their shape and you can easily applique a perfect circle down as your berry!

Here is my first appliqué block all ready to be trimmed down to exactly 18 1/2" square.



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bluebirds Are Here

A little Bluebird told me these shipped to me last week and an email from UPS confirms that they will land on my porch tomorrow.  The complete Austin Bluebird Sampler Kits are here!  I just added them to our Etsy store in 2 forms - the kit as you see here - which makes this quilt...

Or the SUPER KIT, as I call it - which has the above boxed kit AND the 12 spools of Aurifil Thread   to go with it.

Pretty exciting.  Thanks Lissa for shooting me the picture, and thanks Susan for designing that super cool kit box.

In other news, we are getting along fine here.  We've become accustomed to winter and are spending our evenings bundled up drinking tea, watching British tv, and working on quilts of course.

This project has consumed me in the last couple weeks, but it now has to go back on the shelf as I work on more pressing projects.
I happily stitch in each square as British murder mysteries flash by on the tv.

This is what the back looks like.  It must look like chaos to you machine piecers.  To hand piecers.... not so much.

It looks a bit better after it's pressed.

This eventually will be the start of another quilt, but it will be awhile before I can work on it again.

I hope to have more pictures soon of other works in progress.


P.S.   The wonderful staff at Moda Fabrics is looking through the warehouse today.  IF there are any extra kit boxes..... the loyal people who signed up last year for the Austin Bluebird Block Of The Month will each be getting a BOX.  IF.....  I'll know more later.


Friday, January 16, 2015

New Starts

I hope your year is starting out better than ours.  We have been under the weather.  It felt like it would never get better - but it has.  The 6 week bug has now been vanquished.

I had a great time with the Capital City Quilt Guild in Lansing Michigan yesterday.  Thanks to all who attended and put up with me.

We are now hard at work designing quilt patterns for our upcoming fabric line.  We just got a sneak peak at it today. Whee!  That means in approximately 6 weeks I will have lots and lots of pictures to show you as I cut, press, sew, and unsew our new creations.

I'm attempting a new scrap quilt - but I'm not sure how it's going. I'm winging it.  I have nothing drawn on graph paper and it's a new, exciting, scary place to be.  At first I thought I might try some of these....

These are small - 1 1/2" from side to side. I tried to baste the traditional way and was not happy.
I posted my dismay on Instagram and instantly got lots of good advice.  First, glue basting seems to be the best way for these tiny, irregular shapes and it always helps to watch videos of people who know what they are doing.  Also, you are not supposed to baste the bottom edges.  Whoops.

I decided against the clamshells for now and went down this path.....

More will be revealed.  As soon as I know what I'm doing. Hah.

I have heard from a little birdy (possibly an Austin Bluebirdy) that the Austin Bluebird Sampler kits will be shipping soon.  In the meantime, we do have the complete pattern in our Etsy store.

Have a great weekend everyone.



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year Update

Happy New Year to you all.  I hope you are all hale and hearty.  We are still enjoying ourselves here in Ann Arbaugh (heh)

This was in the window of Van Boven's Men store when I went in today.  Let's just say it's been a fun week.

While waiting for our next group of strike-offs, we are kind of in a holding pattern as to our next batch of patterns.  That gives me time to work on a new scrap quilt.  You might remember my last scrap quilt.  It was the Mrs. Billings Coverlet.  The new one is of my design.  It uses English Paper Piecing too.  It will also have lots of borders.  I have been forever hooked on this style.  You can thank my Northern European and Australian colleagues for that.  You will get more sneak peaks on this - and it will be another long term project.

This cookbook was a present from Polly.  It is delightful.  More than recipes - believe it when it says Recipes and Stories.  Bill and I are feeling a bit under the weather and I am making French Onion soup today.  It seemed just the thing for this frigid day.  I made the beef stock yesterday and we should have soup in a half an hour.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  Because we are a little under the weather my appearance at the Bed Turning at Happiness is Quilting in McKinney Texas on Friday is cancelled.  The Bed Turning IS NOT CANCELLED though - I will magically narrate the quilts via the miracle of iPhone Face Time. 

Our dear friend Carrie has a new adventure.  You probably already know.  She is now one of the creative geniuses working in Dallas for Moda Fabrics and United Notions.  Today was her first blog post in that capacity.  She reported on a little corner of the warehouse.  How exciting.  It should be shipping to quilt shops all over the world any minute now.  Look for some kits and patterns in our Etsy store when that happens.  Thanks for the update, Carrie!

Later this month I'll give a small tutorial on the first month.  Keep watching here...

That reminds me - there will be a few changes here.  Our website - will no longer be updated.  Everything will be right here on this blog.  It has been for awhile, we just haven't made it official.  All of our news is here and all of our products are in our Etsy store - and the Etsy store link is on the upper left of the blog.  You can also follow me on Instagram - and you will have all your Minick and Simpson bases covered.

I think that's about everything......... I'll keep working on the quilt and hopefully will have more photos soon.



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