A quick note: my fall online teaching schedule is up! In addition to repeating a couple of my most-requested classes, I’ve got some brand-new classes to share with you all. 🙂
And now to the topic at hand – foundation piecing (also called foundation paper piecing) is a great technique for achieving precise piecing and sharp points even with tiny pieces and fabric edges that are not on-grain. For this method, the pattern is printed (or traced) onto foundation paper. This paper acts as both a stabilizer and a stitching guide while the block is being constructed. When all of the pieced sections of the design have been joined together, the paper is carefully torn away from the underside of the quilt top.
New to foundation piecing? We All Sew has a great FREE foundation pieced block tutorial that provides a good starting point. Don’t worry if you don’t have the same kind of machine used in the tutorial – most any machine with a basic straight stitch should do just fine.
Although I generally don’t do a lot of foundation paper piecing, I fell in love with the Take Wing pattern by Lillyella Stitchery when I came across it on Instagram. Just beautiful!
I purchased the pattern right away, but then had to set it aside for a bit because I already had too many irons in the fire. But when the August Java Batiks box from Cotton Cuts arrived, I knew immediately just what I wanted to make! Continue Reading…
A quick note: my new fall online teaching schedule is up! In addition to repeating a couple of my most-requested classes, I’ve got some brand-new classes to share with you all.
I haven’t been posting much this summer, but I’ve certainly been sewing up a storm! I’m finding it good therapy. 🙂
Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to enjoy our usual fireworks display downtown this year, but I was inspired by the July Java batiks box from Cotton Cuts to create some fireworks of my own (metaphorically speaking, of course). 😉
Goodies from the July Java Batiks box from Cotton Cuts.
I started by cutting out shapes with my Tri-Recs rulers, and created little four-patches for the corner of each block. (This was a design-as-I-go project – I didn’t have a pattern.)
I used the Tri-Recs rulers to cut out the star block, AKA my fireworks burst.
I turned my blocks on point, and added more four-patches to the setting triangles.
Building my design – I decided to extend the expanding “fireworks” by added four-patches to the areas where the setting triangles would be.
Some exciting news – I’m teaching my first online class next week! 🙂
I’m a little nervous, but also very excited about engaging “live” with fellow quilters again – I’ve missed everyone so much while keeping safe at home during this pandemic.
Here is the info from the Lakeshore Sewing website:
Creative Machine Quilting with a Walking Foot
Learn from the comfort of your own home! Join this beginner-friendly hands-on zoom class with author and designer Beth Ann Williams, featuring a mix of live instruction and Q&A, up-close photography, and video clips showing the techniques in action. Together we’ll make a set of swatches that you’ll be able to refer to for inspiration whenever you wonder “How can I quilt this?” Go beyond quilting in-the-ditch and discover fast, fun, and deceptively easy ways to complement piecing, enhance a focal area, and create a variety of textures, all while machine quilting with a walking foot.
Confident Beginner – Intermediate $35; Tues., 7/14 & 7/21/2020, 1:30 – 4 PM.
We’ll be quilting on sample swatches in class, but here is a selection of finished projects by Beth Ann Williams using some of the techniques we’ll cover in class.
Please call the Wyoming Lakeshore Sewing store at 616-531-5561 to register.
The class supply list is available here, in the store, or on the Lakeshore Sewing website. Continue Reading…
Now that I’m participating in at least four new sew-alongs over the next few months, my finishing-spree is more important that ever!
This time, I’d like to share yet another machine quilting option – quilting with the decorative stitches that are built into your sewing machine.
Hold Tight Petite quilt, made by Beth Ann Williams, pattern by Sharon Holland.
My observations & recommendations: Continue Reading…
I hope all of my US friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My husband and son couldn’t get away, but my daughter Connor and I had a fabulous road trip together to visit my family in Pennsylvania and New York. We had a wonderful time staying with my parents and then with my sister – including cherished opportunities to connect with many of my cousins and other extended family members. What a treat that was!
But now I’m home and back in finishing mode.
I’ve switched gears from machine-guided quilting with my walking foot to free-motion quilting with my darning or free-motion foot. This allows me to stitch in any direction I please – but also means that I am solely responsible for moving the quilt. The feed dogs of the sewing machine are disengaged so that the needle goes up and down, but doesn’t move the fabric. This means I need to have a careful balance between the speed at which I am running my sewing machine and the speed at which I am moving the fabric – run the machine too fast, and the stitches are too small; move the quilt too quickly, and the stitches are too long. The goal is to create beautiful patterning (“drawing” with the sewing machine) while still keeping the stitches all approximately the same length.
Batting choice, needle choice, thread choice and tension settings can each make a significant difference in the appearance and quality of the stitching.
I often reach for 40 wt. variegated thread (with 60 wt. poly in the bobbin) when free-motion quilting. I love how the color changes add a subtle sparkle to the quilt.
But one of the main challenges of free-motion quilting is the physicality of moving the quilt. Fabric can get very heavy, and it’s all too easy for one’s hands to slip and lose control. Having a large stable, flat surface to work on really helps; this could be an extension table, a Sew Steady Table, or a cabinet with a surface flush with the surface of your machine. A Supreme Slider can also be a big plus – but you must first make sure it is anchored securely so that it doesn’t slide right into your stitches. Ask me how I know that…
In the past, I have steered away from the various hoops designed to assist with free-motion quilting, feeling that the downsides outweighed the potential pay-off. But I’ve been rethinking that.
I’m currently working on my Snowflake quilt from the sew-along with Nicole from Modern Handcraft.
As I quilt this, I’m considering what I learned from the previous two quilts in my Finishing Spree – my Church Window quilt (pattern by Brittany of Lo & Behold Stitchery) and the Enchanted Carpet bargello quilt made by my friend Ruth DeJager (original design from my book Colorwash Bargello Quilts). Continue Reading…
Ronan contemplating my Talk of the Town quilt (pattern by Amy Ellis) turned Quilt-As-You-Go
Sometimes projects take a turn or two (or more!) along the way and don’t turn out as originally envisioned. I like to reframe these as opportunities for new “design decisions”. 😉
Earlier this fall, I signed up to participate in the Modern Patchwork Quilt Along – Talk of the Town Quilt with Amy Ellis. Little did I know that this was going to turn into quite the series of such decisions…
I read through the pattern carefully and selected the appropriate number of fat quarters specified for the size quilt I wanted to make.
My initial fabric pull for my Talk of the Town Quilt
The pattern was well-written and the diagrams looked very clear. But as soon as I started cutting my fabric, I realized I had a significant problem… the cutting diagrams assumed perfect 18″ x 22″ usable fabric from each fat quarter, and my prewashed fat quarters of fabric didn’t even come close. Most were around 21″, and that’s counting the selvage along one end. So I didn’t have enough fabric!
I had to improvise. Continue Reading…
Colorblock Love quilt made by Beth Ann Williams using the pattern by Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio.
Do you know what Matchstitck Quilting is? I didn’t until a few months ago when my friends Ruth and Michele told me about it. Yes, apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock… LOL
I had difficulty wrapping my brain around it at first; quilting lines only the width of a matchstick apart? Why on earth would you quilt so densely? But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became. So I did a little research and then let the idea simmer a while.
Meanwhile, my son Jack almost never asks me to make anything for him; so on the rare occasion that he does, I tend to drop everything else and make it. That was the case for this project. I fell in love with the Colorblock Love pattern by Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio when Mr. Domestic adapted it to make a Pride Pillow and featured it on his Instagram page to promote his fundraiser for the Trevor Project. When I told my family I was planning to make the rainbow version, Jack asked me why I didn’t make a Trans Pride wall hanging instead. So I did!
Although I usually love the extra patterning free-motion quilting brings to a quilt, I felt that it would be more distracting than complementary to the graphic nature of this quilt. Then I remembered Matchstick Quilting!
There are many different approaches to matchstick quilting. Here is what I did for this particular quilt: Continue Reading…
My most recent sew-along top finish – the Granny Cabin from Then Came June. Now it needs to be quilted!
I’ve been neck-deep in sew-alongs this fall – I find myself really energized by having multiple projects going on at a time. What I like best is that no matter how little time, energy, or physical mobility I have on any given day, there is sure to be something productive I can do on at least one project, whether it is collecting fabrics, playing with relative values to explore interesting design variations, cutting, sewing, basting, auditioning thread colors for machine quilting, actual quilting, or binding. But every once in a while, there is a time of reckoning when there is a pile-up of projects in the last few stages of completion and it’s time to wrap things up!
Now I plan to start a series of posts about my finishing spree – or how I’m turning my pile of quilt tops into finished quilts.
I’ll share some of my favorite ways to machine quilt, resources to help make the process easier, a variety of approaches to quilt labels, and a selection of binding techniques that I find most helpful.
I’m sure there will be some bouncing back and forth between topics as I work on whittling down my UFO (AKA UnFinished Object) pile, but I’ll tag each post with “Finishing Spree” so that they will be easy to identify.
You might also find the tag cloud on my site helpful – it’s usually located in the sidebar on the righthand side of the page if you are on a laptop or PC OR near the bottom of the page if you are on your phone. Just click on the topic of your choice to bring up all of my posts with that tag.
Meanwhile, Happy Quilting!
My clamshell “Shimmer” quilt has been a labor of love and persistence – for such a relatively small piece, it sure has been labor intensive! But I’ve enjoyed each step of the process as it stretched my creative muscles to experiment with new-to-me products, techniques and approaches.
Below is my completed quilt top. It’s a little wrinkly, as there was an unfortunate incident overnight with a leaky pipe right above my worktable that left my quilt top not only soaked but stained when I found it in the morning, and I had to wash the unquilted top. Not usually recommended!
I also had some bleeding from the dark purple fabrics. I’ve always prewashed everything in the past; but in this case, I had followed the recommendations from Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) and I did not do so. I will never skip that step again!
The fabric shrank a little when I washed it, creating the appearance of small tucks and wrinkles in the quilt top. At this point, I was hoping they would disappear when I quilted the top.
I was very discouraged by these developments, but decided to press on.
Shimmer clamshell quilt top designed and made by Beth Ann Williams
I considered an all-over free-motion quilting design, as that has been my go-to approach in the past. But in the spirit of trying something new, I opted to treat each individual patch as an opportunity to play with a different motif or style of patterning. But first I stabilized the quilt top by quilting on either side of each patch to create an all-over latticework which I also extended into the white negative space around the outer edges of the quilt.
This left me with very tiny spaces to fill with free-motion quilting, but it was also fun. 😀
Shimmer clamshell quilt by Beth Ann Williams – free-motion quilting in progress.
So I’ve been offline for a bit, for both good and not-so-good reasons. First, the good – John and I took a WONDERFUL trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York to stay with my sister and brother-in-law. While we were there, we were also able to get together with my parents and with my brother and sister-in-law and their amazing kiddos. So lots and lots of fun all around!
But what a different story when we got home… we first found the dryer broken (unfortunate, but not so bad), then drips in the basement (somewhat alarming), then standing water in the basement (red alert!). The hot water heater had sprung several leaks, couldn’t be repaired and had to be replaced; and then the technician let us know that our furnace also needs to be replaced asap, as well as the chimney (fire hazard). Whew!
Since my studio is downstairs (along with the dryer, water heater, furnace and chimney), and everything had to be packed up and/or pushed to one side in each of the large rooms downstairs in order to mop up water and create space for the repair crews to work, my creative activities will be a bit curtailed for the immediate future.
But a very bright spot in the midst of all this – the biennial Quilts on the Grand show put on by the West Michigan Quilters’ Guild at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids, MI. Continue Reading…