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Sewing to Dots

Quiltmaking by HandIt has been exciting to see the recurrence of interest in hand piecing. At the turn of the century with everything geared to machine piecing I was determined to try and keep hand sewing alive into the new millennium. My Quiltmaking by Hand book was the result and I am happy to say it has even more popularity today than when it was published.

However, there are often questions people have and one appeared on Facebook recently that I thought would be a good subject to address in a blog post. Here is the question:

“Cosmos is my first ever hand piecing project, and I’m so enjoying it. I am looking for an answer I haven’t been able to find, either in your tips, videos or last year’s Craftsy BOM. I understand sewing dot to dot, but some template points don’t include dots and I’m wondering if in these cases I should sew to the fabric edge? E.g. Block 5 step a and b, or where the final edge of the block is.”

This is a very good question. First of all I’d like to address dots on the templates. Some fabric pieces are cut with templates, some are cut with measurements for rotary cutting. Some templates have dots, some do not. “Dots” are often placed at the intersection of seam allowances on templates. These are guides for sewing pieces together. The pieces should be pinned so that the dots meet when the pieces are sewn together.

Let’s take template “N” in the Cosmos block 5. The dotted line is the sewing line and you can see that a dot is placed where those lines meet. These dots should be transferred to the wrong side of the cut pieces to act as a guide for getting the pieces matched up for sewing.template nDots can be marked on the fabric in a few different ways:

  1. Use a 16th inch hole punch and punch out holes in the template at the dots. Then place the template on the cut piece and mark the dots with a mechanical chalk or lead pencil.
  2. Perfect piecerThe Perfect Piecer is a tool I developed to aid in marking onto the pieces. It has all the common angles used in piecing along with holes where the seam allowances intersect. Use it to transfer the dots to the cut piece.
  3. Using the Perfect Piecer or a ruler with ¼ inch marked on it, draw the quarter inch sewing line on the back side of the pieces.

The next question is, do you stop at the dots or sew through the dots to the edge of the fabric? What if there are no dots? The answer depends on the pieces you are sewing. If the pieces you are sewing result in an inward angle that will require a set-in seam, then you must start and stop at the the dots or, if there are no dots, at the place where the seam allowances intersect. My preference is to sew to the edge. Using block 5 from Cosmos is a good illustration and we can take it step by step.Block 5 CosmosIn Step a, there is no inward angle created when sewing the pieces together, so you can sew to the edge. In Steps b, c and d, once again there are no inward angles created, only outward angles, so you can sew to the edges.

However Step e is different. When the N/Nr pieces are sewn you must stop at the dots to leave the “y” seam for adding the Fabric 9 square. The same is true for Step f. You must stop at the dots in order to add the P patches in Step g.

Thank you to Coleen who sent us that question and, hopefully, like Coleen, many of you are giving hand piecing a try. If you are unfamiliar with Cosmos, it is our free block of the month. A new block pattern is available in our newsletter each month. You can sign up at www.jinnybeyer.com.

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Jinny Beyer Club

Jinny in clubOften on Facebook we show photos of people bringing show and tell to Jinny Beyer Club. I realized some of you may not know what “Club” is.

Jinny Beyer Club is a gathering of quilt enthusiasts at our shop on the second Saturday of each month (except for November when we are in the middle of our annual Shop Hop “Quilters’ Quest”).

There is a nominal fee for the year and a daily fee for visitors. We have Show and Tell, give out door prizes, talk about what is new at the Studio, and have a theme that we follow throughout the year.

Borders 1This year the theme is all about border print fabrics and all the things you can do with them. Border prints are not just for going around the outside of quilts. So far this year we have shown how they can be used in stars (fussy cutting to get a kaleidoscopic effect). Each block of our Block of the Month quilt, Cosmos, has the border print “fussy cut” in some way.Cosmos with bordersWe have also shown how they can be cut up and used in triangles for a Thousand Pyramids quilt.

Thousand PyramidsBP1This month we talked about the book One-Derful 1 Fabric Quilts by Kay Nickols. She shows so many ways to cut a single fabric and achieve amazing results. Many of her examples use border prints. One of our favorites is featured on the cover of her book.One-derful BookKay explains in detail lots of options and how to cut the fabric to the best advantage. In a nutshell:

Cut identical squares and divide them diagonally from corner to cornerone fabric 1Sort the triangles into like piles and join them into squares

one fabric 2Alternate the squares for the quilt.

one fabric 3Here are just a few examples made by staff members that we shared at Club this past Saturday.

Borders 5If you would like to try this technique, check out this week’s web special featuring “One-derful 1 Fabric” kits. If you are not subscribed to our newsletter, sign-up and be eligible for our subscriber bonus as well. To sign up, just go to www.jinnybeyer.com and click on “Newsletter Signup.”

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Printing Templates Using Your Home Printer

With the Lucy Boston and Millefiori craze, I have been pleased that so many people are finding the joys of hand piecing, and are exploring more complex designs.

Cosmos redMany designs can be cut using rotary cutting techniques but others such as my 2016 BOM, Cosmos, are template based. We usually make our templates by placing semi-transparent template plastic over a pattern and tracing using a permanent marker. It’s a quick process if you are making only a couple of templates. I demonstrate the process at the beginning of my video Magical Effects with Border Prints.  This is a free video to watch.

Sampler quilts are another story — they might incorporate dozens of templates. Furthermore, some template plastics are very hard to write on. They are usually smooth, so they slip on the fabric and it is hard to get a good mark with pen or pencil. It is also easy to lose a little accuracy as you trace the templates onto the plastic. I wanted to find a faster, easier, more accurate way to make the templates.

After much searching we found the perfect product and have packaged it as Jinny Beyer Template Film. This all-purpose template material is matte on both sides, making it very easy to write on and adheres to the fabric without slipping.  Best of all it is heat resistant and can be run through your home laser printer or copier. If you don’t have a laser printer, most office supply stores have copying facilities and can run it through their machines.

Please note that it will not work on an inkjet printer or copier. The ink will not be dry and will smudge and give uneven lines.

For printing on a laser printer or copier follow these steps:

  1. Print a sample template page on paper and make sure that the size is 100%. If it is not the correct size, adjust your printer until you get it to print at 100%.
  2. Feed the template film into the printer one page at a time. Since both sides have a matte finish it does not matter which side you print on.

Template1Many of my patterns have pieces that are enhanced by “fussy cutting” border prints or other fabrics with mirror image motifs. For instance, a border print square is made by cutting four identical triangles. In order to insure that the triangles are cut exactly the same, I recommend marking some portion of the design onto the template. These registration marks will serve as a guide for cutting the additional pieces. BP1It is amazing to see how many different squares you can get from the same border print.

BP2If you are trying to make all of your squares just a little different, very soon it will be easy to get confused by all the different marks on the template. The nice thing about the Jinny Beyer Template Film is that the marks can be erased. Remove pencil or pen with a standard eraser. Remove permanent pen with rubbing alcohol.

**Tip: Put the registration marks on the side of the template that has not been printed. That way you will not inadvertently erase some of the template information.

Many of my patterns are template based and, in the future, we will be offering pre-printed templates that can be purchased separately from the pattern. We already have these available for the six pages of templates required for the 2016 Block of the Month.

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2016 Free BOM Quilt – Cosmos

2 Red Quilts for BlogI hope all of you have seen the JINNY BEYER STUDIO 2016 Block of the Month, Cosmos. This is a FREE program available to anyone who is subscribed to our monthly newsletter.

Month 1 for BlogTwo blocks were introduced in January along with general instructions. Many techniques are used each month including making and printing templates, the importance of grain line, hand piecing and more.

Each newsletter, which comes out the first Saturday of the month, will have a link to the pattern download for that month’s block. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter.  Look for our next newsletter this Saturday, February 6, to download the next (and past) patterns.Cosmos Tip VideoBesides the link to the patterns on the download page, did you notice the link which says, “Important Notes from Jinny”? Make sure you don’t miss this. Each month, we will refer to videos or quilt tips on our web site that will help you with the techniques in that month’s lesson. This page has all of the tips for making Cosmos in one spot.

Cosmos show and tell for blogThe blocks become more difficult as the months go on. In the past, some worried that their blocks were not turning out the correct size. Don’t worry! At the end, we will add strips around each block and they can be trimmed to exactly the right size.

As I try to do with many of my BOM programs, I want to challenge you to try new things, learn new skills, attempt techniques you’ve shied away from in the past, all to build your confidence as a quilter. I think you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

We would love to see pictures of your Cosmos quilt in progress. Send us pictures of your blocks to studio@jinnybeyer.com with the subject “Cosmos.”

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Cosmos – The 2016 Jinny Beyer Studio Block-of-the-Month

Cosmos blueAt the end of December, it is always hard to believe that the year went by so quickly. This year it practically swirled by. There was so much activity related to the Craftsy 2015 Block of the Month that those of us at the Studio hardly had time to blink our eyes. Craftsy has completed all 12 months of that program, but will be keeping the class on their roster so anyone can sign up and even watch all of the episodes at one time if you want. There are a lot of valuable tips and techniques that will help in any type of quilting you are interested in.

So now that the New Year is upon us, I am pleased to introduce you to the JINNY BEYER STUDIO 2016 Block of the Month, Cosmos.This is a FREE program available to anyone who is subscribed to our monthly newsletter. Each newsletter, which comes out the first Saturday of the month, will have a link to the pattern download for that month’s block. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter.  Look for our next newsletter on January 2 to download the first pattern.

Altogether, the 2016 BOM has two main color schemes: red/gold or blue/teal. Each of those is available with a light or a dark background for a total combination of four quilts to choose from. The blocks are organized by level of difficulty with the easier ones coming first and the more difficult ones coming later in the year. Each month, we will refer to videos or quilt tips on our web site that will help you with the techniques in that month’s lesson.

Cosmos redCosmos is a template-based pattern. A few of the pieces can be rotary cut and those are indicated in the individual patterns. However, because of the variance in the scale and design of the blocks there are a lot of odd-sized pieces that do not fit normal rotary cutting dimensions. We have put together Template Packs containing all six pages of templates already printed to scale onto Templar template plastic.  These template packs are available on our website under the kit options for the quilt.

Two blocks are introduced in January along with general instructions. Many techniques are used each month including making and printing templates, the importance of grain line, hand piecing and more. I hope you will give it a try.happy-new-year-big

 

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BOM, Behind the Scenes

titleCardThis week Craftsy released the last segment of the 2015 Block of the Month class. It has been quite a journey over the past 20 months from the time they first contacted me with the proposal to the final lesson.

The first few months were spent working out the details of the contract and deciding on the direction of the quilt.  The contract was not signed until late May and filming of the lessons was scheduled for late August. There was a lot to be done in a very short period of time.

I designed the quilt, did a digital mockup, and received Craftsy’s approval of the design. Diane Kirkhart tested the pattern and made the actual quilt. She worked with me to make the step-outs and both of us worked non-stop on the project throughout the summer of last year. I never could have made the filming deadline without her help.

I was assigned a producer who basically created the script for the class. For two months, at least four times a week,  we had phone conversations of up to two hours going through all the details of production, what would be done when and what props and step-outs we needed.

4816_00_Headshots_235_retouched- smallFrom the get go, I wanted to design a quilt that had a lot of different techniques so that there would be something new each month. Blocks were organized by technique and difficulty with the easier ones being in the first months and the more complex ones coming later. Both hand and machine piecing tips were explained as well as two different applique techniques. Most of all, I wanted to pass on my love of hand piecing and the relaxation simple stitching by hand can bring.

Craftsy outfit- smallFor the filming I was told I needed 12 different outfits. I have seen shows where the clothes of the presenter clash with the quilt or project being shown, so I was determined that what I wore would coordinate with the colors of the quilt. I went through my closet and found some things that would work and then I went shopping to fill in the gaps.

I spent a week in Denver in August of 2014 with the producer and the filming crews. They were all wonderful and it was quite a hectic time. But we filmed all twelve months of lessons during that time, spent time on publicity shots, had to shut down for a period because a thunderstorm with hail pelted down and wreaked havoc on the sound system. But in the end we made the deadline. They were a great group to work with.

Was it a lot of work? Definitely yes! But when this note was posted the day the last class aired, it made all the work and effort involved worthwhile.

“Jinny, thank you so much for such a wonderful class. I loved that it forced me to slow down and enjoy the process. I found hand piecing to be very relaxing and forgiving as well as very sturdy. I always assumed it would not be as stable as machine quilting but I was wrong. I also love the softer feel of the hand piecing. I just can’t believe the talent you have and obviously the patience it took you to design this quilt. I am so grateful that you shared your talents with us……”

It is messages like that which warm the heart of any teacher and make all of the hard work worthwhile.

The 2015 Block of the Month class will remain on Craftsy as a free class. If you didn’t sign up, you still can do so. You can go back and watch segments over and over. Even if you don’t want to make the quilt, you may learn some new tips by watching the videos.

4816 Block of the Month-15- small bannerIf you enjoyed this class, in January we will be debuting my 2016 Block of the Month quilt, Cosmos. The quilt pattern is free to JINNY BEYER STUDIO newsletter subscribers and each month there will be a link to the pattern for that month.

Please join me for another block of the month!

Jinny

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Working with Silk Thread

applique centerOur annual shop hop “Quilters’ Quest” is coming soon and I have been diligently working on our quilt. Everyone who comes to our shop during the Quest will get a free pattern for this quilt.

If you have been taking part in my Block of the Month classes on Craftsy, you know that I have been enjoying doing a lot of applique lately. I am now working on the applique portion of the Quest quilt and wanted to share with you a few tips.

First and foremost, I love the Apliquick tools for getting the edges turned under neatly and efficiently.

Second, my favorite thread for applique is silk. When silk thread is used the stitches are virtually invisible. There are few things to keep in mind, however.

silk thread blog
You can see the difference between the 50-wt. thread and the silk which seems to just sink into your fabric and disappear.

Since silk thread is so fine, it comes un-threaded very easily. There are a couple of solutions. One is to be sure to hold the tail of the thread as you pull the needle up through the fabric. The second is to actually tie the thread to the eye of the needle. The photos here show the knot that can be used. (We’ve used a very large needle and thick thread to make it easier for you to see.) Don’t worry about the knot having trouble going through the fabric. Silk is so fine that you won’t even notice it.

Thread your needle and with the short end of the thread wrap it once around your finger holding tight to the thread end.
Thread your needle and with the short end of the thread. Wrap it once around your finger holding tight to the thread end.
Thread2
Now take your needle and feed it between your finger nail and the thread going from your finger toward the tip of your nail (this way you are not likely to poke your finger).
Thread3
Still holding the end of that thread, draw the needle through
Thread4
which will create a knot.
Thread5
Draw it up tight to the eye of the needle. Tie a knot in the other end of your thread and you are ready to stitch without worrying about your thread coming out of the eye.

Another problem that you can have with silk thread is that it seems to fray more easily and eventually breaks. I discovered that the thimble makes all the difference.  One of my favorite thimbles is an antique Dorcas that is silver with a steel core. It is quite strong and durable, but this ended up being a problem, because the fraying of the thread occurred right where my thimble touched the eye of the needle causing the thread to actually be “cut”. When I switched to my Tommie Jane Lane all sterling thimble there was much less fraying. Some people also use a leather thimble which also is more gentle on the silk thread.

The other thing that I do is bring the tail of the thread almost all the way down to the fabric. Then each time I pull the needle through, I let the tail slip through the eye just a little. When the tail is short, then I bring it back down to my work and continue the process. In this way, one portion of the thread is not always between my thimble and the eye of the needle.

The color of thread does not have to exactly match the fabric. I like to select a thread that is slightly darker or that blends with one of the darker colors in the print. These are the six colors I am using for the seven fabrics in the applique motif. I’m using black on the dark purple, since the purple fabric has black lines in it. I selected a bronze for the orange fabric, a burgundy to use for both the fuchsia and the darker red, a gold for the gold fabric, red for the bright red and dark tealish green for the green print.

silk threadIf you have never used silk thread for applique, give it a try. I’m sure you will love it as much as I do.

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I’m just saying….

Hand sewing resizedIn 1974 when I taught my first quilting class, everyone in my class knew how to sew. They grew up sewing, knew how to thread a needle, take a stitch, etc. I grew up sewing my own clothes and making doll clothes…..often making my own patterns, so transferring that to quilting was not difficult.

Grandmother's Flower Garden
Grandmother’s Flower Garden

Schools no longer teach sewing to all students, mothers work and few sew. Most beginning quilting students I have in my classes are not just new to quilting but are also new to sewing. When someone wants to take up quilting, they think the first thing they need to do is purchase a sewing machine.

Garden Sunflower done in.....
Garden Sunflower

When I became interested in quilting in the early 70’s, templates were made for all patchwork patterns and almost all piecing was done by hand. Today many people pass up on patterns that require templates or ones that cannot be done by machine. They only want patterns where the pieces can be cut with a rotary cutter.  This eliminates a whole wealth of patterns and in my opinion eliminates a lot of the intricacies that were found in many of the quilts from the 1970’s and 80’s.

Suzie's Box
Suzi’s Box

Why not take a step back, look at some of those more intricate looking patterns and try one. If you want to take a try at a pattern that uses templates, sign up for my 2015 Block of the Month free class from Craftsy.  The early lessons have a lot of information on making templates and hand sewing which can be used in any pattern you may choose. Or, try the Quilter’s Design Board on my website. There, you can choose from hundreds of blocks, see how it looks in a quilt and print templates.

titleCard

I’ve been thrilled with the number of you who have discovered the joys of hand piecing and told me how much you (sometimes surprisingly) enjoy it. If you haven’t already, why don’t you give it a try.

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Where Did Those Stems Come From?

Craftsy BOM final quiltI hope you have been following my Craftsy Block of the Month. This has been a new endeavor for me. While you’ve been learning different techniques for making this quilt, I’ve been learning about how online classes work. You may be surprised to hear that I don’t know how the classes will look after the editing process until they are each released at the beginning of the month.

This month’s installment contains several lessons, the final being adding the appliqué. In your online lesson this month, I pull out these lovely appliqué flowers connected by stems and talk about how to place them.  But wait…what happened to the lesson on making those stems with bias bars?  Not everything we taped can be shown and making the stems uses the same technique as we used earlier in lesson 4 making the appliquéd basket handles for the cherry basket. Here, then, is a quick review. If you made the basket handles, you’ll remember that they are easier to make than they look.

I once again use the aluminum bias bars from Celtic Design Company. Making stems with bias bars is a very precise method and you do not have to turn your stems after sewing which is next to impossible with such skinny pieces.

Let’s start by cutting your fabric. Make sure your fabric has been squared up and use the 45-degree line on your ruler to position it diagonally across the fabric. Make your first cut along this diagonal edge. From there, cut bias strips at 1 1/8”.

Take your first strip and fold it WRONG sides together. Machine stitch 1/4” from the raw edge. Trim the seam allowance to a scant 1/8”.

Insert your 1/4” bias bar into the tube of fabric. Remember that you are dealing with bias so handle it gently. Rotate the seam to the center of the bar. Press the seam to the side.  Pull out the bar but be careful if it hasn’t cooled down.  You are now ready to add these to the appliquéd flowers.

Remember that if appliqué isn’t for you, these blocks still look lovely without it. It is, though, fun to try.

bias bars blog

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Craftsy BOM Progress

Craftsy BOM final quiltIn my Studio newsletter for June, I asked those participating in the Craftsy Block of the Month to send photos of their progress. I just wanted to take a moment to say what a beautiful job you are doing!

BOM1
You can tell by the smile on Marion’s face that she’s enjoying the Block of the Month.

I am thrilled with the number of you who have tried hand piecing and are really enjoying it. There have been many comments like this one from Marianne: “I would never have considered hand piecing were it not for this class. It’s far more relaxing and accurate than I anticipated—and I can work on blocks at times and in locations where I don’t have access to my sewing machine.”

BOM2
Becky A. loves needle-turned appliqué so she appliquéd the flowers and then even the basket handles making templates from the paper pieced pattern.

A few of you have been concerned that your blocks are not turning out to be the exact size. Remember all of the tips like making sure you are printing out templates the correct size. If your blocks are not exactly 9 ½” including seam allowances, don’t worry. We will be adding strips around the outside of all the blocks so that they “float” on the background. I will show you how to adjust the size of those strips  so that all the blocks will finish the same size.

BOM3
Catherine from Bordeaux, France is enjoying making her BOM blocks.

In the next lesson (which is almost here!), we will be working on the stems for the appliquéd flowers, doing slightly more complex foundation piecing and a more complex block. Just a hint: except for the foundation parts, the next block is best cut using templates and hand piecing. Don’t be daunted!  It is not as difficult as it looks and I think you will find that the effort is worth it.

block 11 basket of daffodils blue
Basket of Lilies