Saturday 18 April 2015

All Types of Stitching

No posts here for a few weeks because of family diversions but now I want to tell you about my new blog which is to have a wider range of stitching content.

The address is and please notice the hyphen between stitch and pretty.

The quilting artfully blog will still be there and the posts remain accessible for reference, but new information, tutorials and images will now be on my new blog called Stitch Pretty.  It will include quilting material as well as hand embroidery, ribbon embroidery, applique and other textile art content.

These images are of my needlework box made by hand using a curved needle to sew the difficult shapes.  It is made from fabric covered card, the fabric is laced onto the card not glued.

Thank you for taking an interest in the Quilting Arts blog and I hope you will join me on the new Stitch Pretty blog:

Sunday 8 March 2015

More Image Transfers to Fabric

Referring back to Transfer Artist Paper (TAP): I have found that it transfers very well on to silk Dupion - see the image of my granddaughter on the left.

Lesley Riley, who developed TAP advises using white cotton with a high thread count but the results on my silk were excellent as well. Some others that I had done on cotton are shown in my previous post about image transfers

I have only tried white silk Dupion so far - however I imagine a pastel coloured silk  would look very pretty too.

Another way of getting an image on to silk Dupion is to adhere a piece of it to a sheet of freezer paper.  Here you can see the freezer paper and the silk rolled back with images which have been put through my Epson inkjet printer.

Freezer paper sheets are available in A4 size if you don't want to cut a piece from the roll and at least you will know they are very straight and exactly the right size.

In order to match up the piece of silk with the freezer paper I made a plastic template to draw around and then cut the silk a tiny fraction smaller so it wouldn't hang over the edge of the freezer paper and cause problems with the printer.  Make sure to leave no loose threads though as the printer may get these round the roller.

My Epson printer seen above has a straight feed through and when using the freezer paper method is probably less likely to cause problems than if using a printer which turns the paper over.

 This Canon printer shown here to the right takes the paper into the front and rolls it around the roller and turns it over.  I have found this works fine when printing on commercial cotton sheets backed with paper and also on the TAP sheets.

 A couple more tips on using the TAP sheets. You can print, draw or paint on the white side of the TAP.  They have a bluish tint on the reverse so you know which way to put them into the printer or which way to iron them on to the fabric.

 The first example shows a fairy that has been scanned in and printed on to the TAP, then after trimming off the surplus it has been ironed with a hot dry iron on to white cotton.

 You can see by the indentation in the cloth how the whole of the TAP sheet transfers firmly on to the fabric, so any surround not wanted should be trimmed off before ironing.

The other example shows that when it is ironed on to the fabric the image is reversed (silly me!) So if it is text or you want it to face in a particular direction reverse the image before putting it on to the TAP.  The top one was pencil and the lower one Sharpie pens.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Transferring Images to Fabric

There are a number of ways this can be done.

Photos can be edited on the computer and then printed on to sheets of cotton, linen, silk and organza backed with peel-off paper.

Images can be already on the computer, for example family and holiday photo.  But also other types of images can be scanned in as these artist's sketches of fairies were.

Fabric sheets are commercially available through web sites such as and Rainbow Silks.  They are supplied singly or in packs of 50 and come in various sizes such as A4 and A3. These commercial sheets are treated in different ways.  Some have a washable finish, some have an adhesive so they can be stuck to a surface instead of being sewn on.

Then there is a product called Transfer Artists Paper (or TAP).  These were invented by a lady called Lesley Riley who has written books about how to use these sheets as well as a DVD demonstrating how to use them in making memory quilts.

The TAP has a special finish on one side that takes a printed or drawn images and once ironed with a hot dry iron transfers the image to the cotton fabric. Once the image is transferred and iron-fixed it can be washed.

For people with the ability to draw or paint the TAP is a lovely way to put your own artistic creation on to fabric.

A third option is to cut pieces of freezer paper to the size your printer can handle and iron these on to your own fabric making sure that the edges line up exactly and there are no loose threads to annoy the printer. This works well with silk and lightweight cottons. Here a piece of A4 paper is used to get the right size of freezer paper and then some fabric will be cut to the same shape and size and ironed to the waxy side before being fed through the printer.

These images are on a commercially available cotton or silk sheets which have had the backing peeled off ready to be sewn to a block for a quilt or to a cloth page for a Fabric Art Journal.

If your inkjet printer uses pigment ink there is no need to prepare the fabric in any special way.  Most printers do use pigment ink these days.  If you should have an old printer that has inks that dye the fabric then there is a product called Bubble Jet Set designed to prepare fabrics for printing so that the article with the image can be washed and will not fade.  However with modern inkjet printers and with commercially available fabric sheets it is unlikely you will need to bother with this type of preparation.

 This article will be continued ......

Saturday 28 February 2015

Machine Quilting

We are busy making blocks for our Sampler Quilt as well as producing cloth book covers and pages.  These will both need some quilting or embroidery at some stage and I imagine that most people will want to use some machine embroidery.

We haven't done much practice on machine embroidery in preparation for the quilting that is necessary so it would be a good idea to have a go at it and get some practice in before our next Quilters session.

Reminder: for free motion embroidery or quilting drop the feed dogs, put the stitch length to 0, use a hoop if not working with stabiliser or wadding, put the hoop the opposite way round from hand embroidery i.e. with the fabric resting on the base of the machine.

So try making all kinds of shapes - some curved and some angular.  I am told that different people are better at one or the other so see which one you get on best with.  For me it's curved shapes - I always find them easier than angles and quite relaxing to do.

Adjust your upper tension only - not a good idea (unless you are really experienced) to mess about with the bobbin tension just yet.  Start off with it set at the regular tension, about 4 and then adjust it as you do the try-outs.  You will find as you change the upper tension (needle tension) that your thread will show more on the front or on the back according to your setting.

These images are of the back and the front and I have been moving the tension wheel about quite a lot to see what would happen to the thread.  It is fun to try out the different ways your machine will react as you go from a very low upper tension e.g. 0.5 to a very high one e.g. 7 or 8.

Use cotton quilting thread and use two different colours for practice so you can see how the tension adjustments are working i.e. one colour in the needle and a very different colour in the bobbin.

For these experiments I used green on top and red in the bobbin.

Use your foot control to change the speed of the stitching and see how that affects the length of the stitches.

Use your hand movements to see how the speed and direction affect the stitches on both back and front of the work.

You will notice that as you change direction it does alter the tension and using two different colour threads will make this more obvious.

After practicing quite a lot with the hoop change over to a quilt sandwich i.e. wadding in between two fabrics either tacked or pinned together.

I have used some silk as a top fabric here so I can see the effect better.  You can see I have used a  chalk pencil to draw some lines to give me some guidance and ideas for my quilting.

It is still free motion but the lines will help me to get some symmetry into it.  Again this is just practice and a learning curve - not aiming for a work of art!

 As you can see it certainly wasn't a work of art but it did help me to remember how to do stippling.

 But you may not want to use free motion embroidery or quilting.  You may want more order and control so do practice that too.

 You can see the blue sample here (which was part of my course work) is a square of fabric separated up into small blocks and different ways of doing quilting with the feed dogs up as in normal sewing.  I have used the machine's guide sometimes, others were drawn,  I used my walking foot throughout to give it stability.

It's much tidier and this may appeal more to some people than free motion.  However practice is essential here as well so that is the advice for today practice; practice; practice.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Art Journals

I do apologise for the long break since my last post.  My laptop has been upgraded to windows 8.1 and then it kept on adding more upgrades each time I switched it on.  I have had to get the software functioning properly again and other stuff loaded so hence the long gap.

So back to Cloth Books or Art Journals. I have made some labels for the second signature of my cloth book.  I plan to decorate the third signature with machine embroidered applique.  You may remember we were practising free machine embroider techniques before Christmas and we did some applique motifs at that time.  So I plan to add those to my final four pages.

I have been thinking about different ways of binding the books.  We have already started with sewing down the centre of the cover and then adding signatures one at a time..

I think this is a good method as it is easy to do and the signatures produce several pages for the book all at once.

But there are many other alternative methods and one I have tried is making pairs of pages back to back which are mounted into the book separately and then a cover wraps around and is fastened on to the pages in some way.  I used buttons sewn through from the front to the back and this worked quite well..

Something similar could be done using metal grommets or eyelets and then threading cord or ribbon through these holes.  Packs of metal grommets are available as are the tools to fix them.  I bought mine shown here from a website call U-Handbag.  It's worth a look and is a nice site with lots of handbag making accessories.  The grommets (or eyelets) and tools are listed under metal hardware.

There is a tutorial on the site about using the eyelets but I wasn't able to print it off unfortunately.

Simply put: you make a hole in the padded and backed fabric a little smaller than the metal eyelet.  There is a tool that you place the bottom part on to, then thread the fabric hole onto that, then put the upper part on top and push the tool you can see it the photo on the left into the hole, hold it firm and whack it with a mallet.  The other photo shows a kit you can buy with a different sort of tool but I liked the first type best and the eyelet seemed smoother.

Here you see both the eyelets I tried using cotton fabrics top and bottom with thin wadding in between.  If I decide to use this method on a book I would make the page a little thicker as on this example there is a gap between the material and the eyelet.

An alternative way of doing this would be to make buttonholes on the sewing machine (or by hand) and thread cord or ribbon through these.  In this case the cover would not be a wrap-around type but would need reinforced cover pages back and front with buttonholes and the cord or ribbon laced across the spine.

I am lucky that my lovely sewing machine has the facility for making sewn eyelets through which a hole can be punched after stitching.

On my machine this is in the same section as the buttonhole stitches so it may be the same on your machine.  However if your machine does not do eyelets a small buttonhole would do just as well  and a lot of machines have the facility for making buttonholes.

Once the holes are made using whatever method you choose then ribbon or cord can be threaded through the holes with a bodkin or large eyed darning needle to join them all together.

 I also made a small trial cloth book right at the beginning to see how it went together.  Having decided not to throw this empty trial book away I have started to stitch or fuse little embroideries and other  bits I have found on to the cover and will use this to try out hand embroidery stitches.

This is a really interesting subject and I think we will get lots of unexpected benefits from exploring the techniques.  The challenge to come will be making a memory Art Journal with family photos, images we like and perhaps some clip art - all enhanced with the treasures we have stored up just waiting to be used.

Tuesday 10 February 2015


My laptop needs to go in for a service and an upgrade and will be away for a few days so not able to do any blogging I'm afraid.

In the meantime here are some images of a few samples from my course work.

This one is Biscuit Patchwork - which is circles of fabric stuffed with wadding and attached to a background.


This is a sample of Cathedral Window Patchwork


 Obviously this is Crazy Quilting
The one above is Folded Star Patchwork made with lots of Prairie Points
English Paper Piecing using hexagons is the last one.


Hope to be back soon.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Quilting the First Block

The framing pieces are joined to the block and then the sashing strips and little corner squares are added.  A worksheet explaining how to do all this has been circulated.

Next the backing is placed face down, with wadding on top and the front placed on top of the other layers face up.

This is now ready for quilting.  Do not quilt the sashing as this will be turned back before joining when the quilt is finally being assembled.

Quilting can be done in a variety of ways and it can be machine quilted or hand quilted.

A hand quilting stitch is a small even running stitch through the three layers. 

Work with one hand on top and the other underneath to guide the needle back and to ensure that the stitch has gone through all three layers.  You will need a thimble on both the top stitching finger and the bottom guiding finger.

Types of quilting: 

Contour quilting is where lines of stitching are done about 1/4" from the seams following the outline of the patchwork shapes.

Echo quilting follows the lines of appliqued shapes and multiple rows radiate outwards to emphasise and echo the shapes.

In-the-ditch quilting: the stitches are worked directly on to the seam lines and this is useful if you don't want the quilting stitches to show.

There are many other types of quilting which are described in detail in the specialist books.

Machine quilting can be free motion or controlled in a measured way.  A walking foot can be used to ensure all the layers stay together if you have one.  Also most machines are provided with a guide which can help to keep the lines of quilting evenly distanced.

Quilting cotton is available for hand and machine in a huge range of colours both plain and variegated.  Using a quilting needle for either hand or machine may make the job easier.

Here you see that I have used the guide supplied with my machine and I am machine quilting lines of one of the fancy built in stitches.  The tape shown in the photo is removable tape and I was using it to extend the line from the edges of the quilt blocks so that I could keep to the same angle..

First of all I stitched in the ditch along the vertical lines of the little blocks both the inner lines and then down the straight edges. Then I did some other quilting across the background.  See the back of the work below to explain what I mean.

 Use threads that match on back and front.

The last picture isn't very clear but shows part of the finished quilted block.

 Note the sashing not shown here as the picture has been cropped and edited.

A worksheet on quilting will be circulated.

Next post on the blog will be further development of our cloth books.