How to make applique templates using an iPad!

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Hellooo! So, I’ve made a couple of things for Mr f&f lately with motifs on and thought it might be something that you would be interested in? So I’m going to show you how to applique using images traced from a tablet screen!!!

How to applique - making templates on an iPad and reverse applique coaster by fabricandflowers

Using your tablet (I have an iPad) find an image that you want to replicate in applique. Get the image to the approximate size that you want to copy on the screen, and take a screenshot.

Go into your photos, and open up the picture that you have just taken. Get a piece of paper and place over the screen. It’s best to hold the screen at an angle to get a true light-box effect and hold the paper in position with your fingers just off the edge of the screen (I’ve found that finger movements are still picked up through the paper, which is why I take a photo of the image, otherwise it keeps resizing as you’re trying to trace!!).

Disclaimer: this technique is based on my own experience and not recommended by device manufacturers so should be undertaken at your own risk!

Use a pencil to lightly sketch the outline of your shape, being careful not to put too much pressure on the screen to prevent causing damage. Again, try and keep your hand off the screen to stop the picture moving around. When you have got the rough outline, take the paper off the screen, place it on a flat surface and draw over the lines again to make them more visible, and add in any extra detail that you need.

Cut the shape out. Now, you are ready to applique!

Reverse Applique: Punisher teapot coaster

This was Mr f&f’s Valentine present (how romantic am I?!). He recently got this teapot and joked that it needed its own special coaster. Who would be better to look after it than The Punisher?!

How to applique - reverse applique coaster by fabricandflowers

I wanted a slightly rougher, less refined look for this project. Having never tried it, I thought reverse applique – where the fabric is layered and the top one then cut away to reveal the one underneath – would be good, as over time the fabric edges would fray.

I placed the motif on the right side of the top layer of fabric. To draw around the outside of the shape, I used a Sewline pencil as it shows clearly on the dark fabric (or you can see my post here for other options).

Layer the fabric that you want to reveal under the front fabric (making sure that it is under the motif that you have drawn!) and secure in place pinning from the front. As this is a small project, I then put some wadding behind so that I would be quilting and securing the layers together at the same time. If I was working on a bigger project, I would probably use a glue pen or do a little stitching to secure the fabric layers together.

I free motion stitched the layers together, using the pencil lines as a guide. If you’ve never tried free motion quilting, a small project like this is a great way to have a go as it is easier to control a small piece of fabric, and also a ridiculous amount of fun! Everyone has a slightly different way that they like to set up the machine, mine is to;

How to applique - reverse applique coaster and tips for free motion sewing by fabricandflowers
  • Use an open-toe foot so that you can see where you’re sewing: this also means that the fabric isn’t ‘gripped’ as much by the machine, giving you more control over moving the fabric around.
  • Set the stitch length to ‘0’ as you will be moving the fabric around, which will determine the size of your stitches (and preserve your sewing machine needle!)
  • Some people like to drop the feed-dogs on their machine (the grippy bits that sit under the sewing machine foot). Personally, I like to leave them up as I find that it gives me slightly more control of the fabric as it can’t jump too much.
  • Generally, you will want to sew slower than normal to give you more control over the movement of the fabric – I have a digital machine and normally reduce the speed by about 50%!
  • Leave a long tail of thread at the beginning and end of your stitching so that they can be pulled through to the back and knotted.

When you are happy with your stitching, it is time to cut away the top layer of fabric. I pinched the back two layers (wadding and light grey fabric) with my left hand and the top black layer with my right thumb and forefinger before snipping a hole to start cutting (Note – if I do this again I will probably cut a little access hole in the top fabric before layering together as I was petrified of ruining my work!). I used a mix of little sharp embroidery scissors and duck-billed applique scissors which are great for cutting as close as you can to the stitching.

To finish the coaster, I trimmed the top to 5″, placed backing fabric right side together to the front and sewed around the edge, leaving a gap along one side to turn it out. With coasters, I always like to trim away the excess wadding and angle the corners so that when it’s turned out you get as sharp corners and smooth edges as possible.

Once turned through, a little press and some top-stitching and it was all finished. Ta-dah!!! Such a fun little project – probably only took a couple of hours all in, including taking the photos!

For standard applique – like the tie-fighter coffee cosy! – I cut the template into smaller pieces eg. wings, body, and window, for each of the fabrics I wanted to use for each section. Iron bondaweb – which is fusible on both sides, but with a bit of paper on one side – to the wrong side of the fabric. Turn your template pieces over (so that they were reversed) and draw around them on to the bondaweb before cutting out. Peel the backing off the bondaweb and arrange each of the pieces on to the fabric and iron in place. Decorate with stitching – I used free motion quilting as detailed.

How to applique - making templates on an iPad and reverse applique coaster by fabricandflowers

Now to decide what applique to do for his birthday….!!! I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and if you have a go at making your own templates then please do let me know – I’d love to see what you create!

Sx

Today’s sky::: bright but cloudy

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#QuiltingTheory – Fabric

In this weeks post, we are going to be looking at fabric. Yay! When starting out, the selection of quilting fabrics can be exciting and scary. There are so many colours, patterns and different types of fabric cuts that you can buy……the amount of choice and decisions to be made can be overwhelming. It doesn’t take long before a fabric shop can feel like a candy shop though!!!

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Today, we’re going to be looking at the different ways in which you can buy quilting fabric cuts, and use them. There’s a lot of detail covered, so if you would like to jump to a particular section, here are the different headings;

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links and you can read my full disclosure privacy policy here. Thank you.

Buying Quilting Fabric

There are a few different ways to buy fabric for quilting projects;

  • Precuts: 42 pieces cut to a certain shape/size from one range of fabric.
  • Quilting cuts: most common are Fat Quarters/Fat Eighths.
  • Yardage/Meterage: ideal for larger projects and quilt backings.

When I first started quilting, pre-cuts were a great way of getting variety in my patchwork, which was great when I didn’t have a stash and still nervous about putting colours and patterns together.

Pre-cuts will sometimes have duplicates of fabric patterns/colourways, depending on the size of the range (which can be anything from 20+ different prints). Common pre-cuts are;

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
  • Mini/Candy Charms: (42) 2.5″ squares
  • Charm Pack: (42) 5″ squares
  • Layer Cake: (42) 10″ squares
  • Jelly Roll: (42) x 2.5″ x Width of Fabric strips

My only advice with pre-cuts is to be extra careful when sewing them together. Double check the size as I have often found that I need to use a slightly more scant seam allowance than I normally would to achieve accurate results.

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to start quilting and grow your skills. Today we're looking at quilting fabric cuts and how to draw marks on fabric by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

If you’re looking to buy bigger pieces of fabric – either for a specific project or to build up your stash – the most common cut is a Fat Quarter. However, Fat Eighths are also great for smaller projects or applique/scrap projects.

Using quilting fabric

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to start quilting and grow your skills. Today we're looking at quilting fabric cuts and how to draw marks on fabric by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Selvedge

The selvedge runs along each side edge of each fabric, and prevents it from unravelling . One side will detail the manufacturer, designer and name of the fabric range as well as individual colour dots (or sometimes motifs!) that identify the exact colours used in the fabric printing. This is a great way of getting an exact colour match if you are looking to use solids.

Some quilters like to cut off the informational selvedge by 1-2″ to use them in other projects (Pinterest is a great source of projects!). The other selvedge side sometimes has the design print running all the way to the edge of the fabric but also needs to be cut off as it has a different texture (like a tape) and tiny holes.

Generally, cutting off the selvedges will leave 42″ of useable fabric.

Right/Wrong side of fabric

For most fabrics, it is easy to tell the difference between the front (right side) and back (wrong side) of the fabric as the front tends to have stronger colour where the pattern is printed on.

On some fabrics though, such as solids, batiks or Liberty Tana Lawns, it can be a bit trickier to identify the front of the fabric as the printing process and/or thinner fabrics means that the colours seep through to a much greater extent. Where this is the case, I normally do a couple of things;

  • Fold the fabric back on itself. If there is no noticeable difference in the colour/texture of the fabric, I don’t worry about it too much!
  • If there is a noticeable difference, I will decide which side to work with. As I cut the pieces out, I will mark them (with one of the marking tools or maybe a bit of washi tape) so that they all get used in the same way.

To wash or not to wash fabric?

This is a subject that causes much debate between quilters – should fabrics be pre-washed, or left until the quilt is finished???

Fabric undergoes lots of different processes and treatments whilst it’s being made. One of these includes adding starch. Pre-washing will remove this and can mean that, even with pressing, it can be difficult to get all the creases out of the fabric again.

Generally speaking, as long as you are using the same fabric type throughout your project eg. all cotton, it doesn’t make too much difference to the finished item as they should all react in a similar way to being washed.

One benefit of leaving washing until the quilt is finished, is that the fabric will shrink (generally by 3-5%) giving the quilt a lovely crinkled effect and – assuming all the fabric are made with the same materials – all fabrics will shrink by the same amount.

HOWEVER, it does become a bit nerve-racking to do this if the project you are working on is high contrast or has a very vibrant colour eg. red or navy.

I follow the non-wash* approach and throw in a couple of colour catchers with the first wash. If it’s a particularly strong colour, I’ll put a couple of extras in for good measure. The sheets absorb any colour that does run and so far, this strategy has always worked for me. And sometimes it’s the colours that you don’t expect to run that do! I would, however, always recommend using your own discretion or testing the fabric if you’re especially concerned and it’s a project that you are going to invest a lot of time and money in.

*NOTE: this is different to dress-making where I would always recommend pre-washing your fabric as it is devastating to make an item of clothing that is the perfect fit only to have it shrink after its first wash!

How to cut fabric straight

Ooooh, this is a good topic! From experience, I have found that some fabrics can be printed wonky. It’s frustrating, but it does happen, so ‘straight’ can sometimes be relative to the pattern of the fabric you are using!

When I am cutting fabric, I use a quilting ruler as a guide against the selvedge (a straight edge) to ensure accuracy.

However, if the fabric has a noticeable pattern – and it is not perpendicular to the selvedge – I cut in line with this as any unevenness can be highly noticeable once it’s pieced into a quilt.

Marking Tools for Quilting Fabric

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to start quilting and grow your skills. Today we're looking at quilting fabric cuts and how to draw marks on fabric by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

When quilting, you will sometimes want to draw on your fabric – either to mark a sewing line, quilting pattern or template line for applique.

There are lots of different pens, pencils and tools available for drawing and marking on fabric. Again, what you use is most often down to personal preference and the project that you are working on. Over the years, I have tried out a number of the most commonly used options;

  • Frixion pen (A): draw on the fabric and when finished, run over the lines with a hot iron and the lines will disappear. It’s magic! However, the lines can come back if the temperature gets extremely cold and, depending on the fabric, it can leave a residual line which doesn’t completely disappear.
  • Washable pen (B): draws just like a felt-tip pen, but the line washes away when dabbed with water.
  • Air erasable pen (C): Once drawn, the pen line will gradually disappear the longer it’s left in the open. This is okay if you only need a mark temporarily, but if the project is going to take a bit of time it can be frustrating if your marks have disappeared! Also worth noting that it disappears a lot quicker in hot weather!!!
  • Silver gel pen (D): These are great for needle-turn applique. You can draw the shape/lines on the front of the fabric and the line gradually wears off as you handle the fabric. It also shows up on a variety of different coloured fabrics.
  • Mechanical pencil (E): a pencil with a retractable/extendable lead inside. Each pencil often comes with a few leads inside and refills can be purchased.
  • Ceramic lead pencil (F): much like a mechanical pencil, the lead can be extended/retracted and the refills can be purchased. The leads come in different colours – I like the yellow as it seems to show on both light and dark fabrics (I know it looks barely visible in the picture but I promise that under the light of a sewing machine it does show up!). The line can then be erased with a damp sponge or gentle rubbing. Also useful for dress-making.

If I am drawing on the front of the fabric, I tend to use a washable pen (drawing embroidery lines), silver gel pen (for marking dark fabrics/zips when pouch making and needle-turn applique) and ceramic lead pencil.

If I want to mark the back of the fabrics/within the seam allowance I use a mechanical pencil. These probably get the most use in my sewing room and I buy them in packs (or refills) – they can be picked up easily and cheaply so are quite cost efficient too!

Phew – yet another mammoth post!!!!! I hope it’s all been useful. Please do make sure that you carry out your own checks when using, washing and marking fabrics as the reactions/results can vary depending on so many different factors – please remember that these are only my thoughts and experiences!

If you’d like to look at any of the other posts in #QuiltingTheory please have a look at the schedule;

See you next week when we’ll be looking at quilting tools!

Sx

Today’s sky:: blue skies but a little cloudy

If you would like monthly news and updates, please sign-up to my newsletter.
To check out my quilt and bag patterns, visit my Etsy shop.

For my favourite sewing equipment and tools, visit my Amazon store.

Rainbow Twist Quilt, Love Patchwork & Quilting, Issue 68

I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally be able to share the Rainbow Twist quilt that I made for Love Patchwork & Quilting back in July!

Rainbow Twist Quilt, Love Patchwork & Quilting Issue 68, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Its the biggest quilt I’ve ever made at 85″ square, and I had such fun choosing all the Kona colours to create an ombre effect – I used 27 in total!

Rainbow Twist Quilt, Love Patchwork & Quilting Issue 68, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Rainbow Twist is based on a Drunkards Path block (I used my Drunkards Wheel template set, or you can use any 4.5″ set). As the pieces are so big, despite the size of the finished quilt, it does go together quickly. The trickiest bit is making sure that you keep all the colours in the right order! One of the things that I found helpful was to write the colour on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the top piece of each relevant pile (do check your own fabric before doing this to make sure it doesn’t mark – painters tape/washi tape would probably do the same thing!).

Rainbow Twist Quilt, Love Patchwork & Quilting Issue 68, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Quilting wise, I had decided early on that I wanted to do 1″ lines in the background. It seemed a good idea, and I love the finished result…….BUT!!! Do you remember that heatwave we had? When it was so ridiculously hot that us Brits struggled to do anything? Yep, that’s when I was buried under this beast of a quilt!!!!! I may have questioned my sanity – and uttered a few unseemly words! – during the quilting process, but I am so glad I persevered! It is quilted entirely with Aurifil 50wt threads – I used the mid-tone of each colour and they blend in beautifully.

Rainbow Twist Quilt, Love Patchwork & Quilting Issue 68, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I went for a face (or invisible) binding to finish the quilt. If you’ve never done one before, I can highly recommend Silly BooDilly’s tutorial. I also curved the edges on two corners to mimic the twist of the quilt, I am looking to add a tutorial to the blog for this over the next few days as it was such a fun technique to try and I’d love to share with you how I did this!

Back soon,

S x

Today’s sky::: grey and miserable and raining. Again!

Zippy Pouch Along – finishing the Zippy Pouch!

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links and you can read my full disclosure privacy policy here. Thank you.

Hello! Are you ready for the finishing touches on your (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch?! The final step is adding the binding and, if you wish, a zipper pull.

I prefer a narrow binding of 2″ but if you like a thicker binding please alter to your own measurements. When attached the binding, it is important to remember that we are using a width of fabric strip around corners, so we need to ease the fabric in to get a nice smooth binding. I have found that the best way to do this, is by pinning the binding on from the front. Normally, I will pin in the centre of the curve first (where we marked for joining the front/zip band together) and then either side for the rest of the curve. 

Zippy Pouch Along - finishing the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

To sew the binding in position, I sew from the zip band side. This means that as I work my way around the corner I can stop, lift the presser foot and rearrange the fabric as I go to stop any bunching. When it comes to sewing across the bottom of the pouch, make sure to push the zip band/pouch down flat. Due to all the layers in the centre of the zip band, it is worth going slowly to achieve good stitching and save your machine needle!

Zippy Pouch Along - finishing the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
Zippy Pouch Along - finishing the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Fold the binding up and over towards the zip band. If you have added pockets, you may find it helps to trim some of the bulk out from the seams before wrapping the binding over. I slip stitch the binding in place, as I would for a quilt. 

Zippy Pouch Along - finishing the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch, pattern by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

And Ta-Dah! You’re all done! If you would like, you can check out my Mini Macaron Zip Pull Tutorial or check out this tutorial for the fabric tassel that I added to this Not So Little Zippy Pouch. I’m even been looking at a few enamel pins which I think I’ll be adding to my Christmas wish list to put on the front, the bat is my favourite so far!!!! (click pics to find the makers!).

Enamel Pin ideas for quilters by fabricandflowers

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sew along and I can’t wait to see all your finished pouches. I have adjusted the timings slightly – all pictures posted by Midnight on the 4th December GMT using the hashtag #zippypouchalong will be eligible for the lovely prize from Rose Garden Patchwork, with the winner being announced on 5th December.

You can pick up a copy of the pattern here, and don’t forget to follow @fabricandflowers and @rosegardenpatchwork and use the hashtag #zippypouchalong so that I can see all the fabulous pouches that you’re making!

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast, grey and raining. Boo!

If you would like monthly news and updates, please sign-up to my newsletter.
To check out my quilt and bag patterns, visit my Etsy shop.

For my favourite sewing equipment and tools, visit my Amazon store.

Gingerbread Man Christmas Banner

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links and you can read my full disclosure privacy policy here. Thank you.

Have you seen the Gingerbread House quilt-a-long that Love Patchwork & Quilting are running this month? It’s a row-by-row design by Gracey of Burlap & Blossom Patterns which you can find in Issue 66.

Gingerbread Man Christmas wall decoration with details on how to add embroidered words by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I was asked if I would like to have a go at making a block and after a quick look at the pattern, I couldn’t say no! I decided upon a Gingerbread man, because who doesn’t love a good gingerbread man (although Boy 2 was a bit disappointed when I told him I’m made one only for him to then realise it was in fabric and not an actual biscuit. Oops!)

There are a lot of little pieces in this block – the buttons are cut at just 1″ (so, finishing at 1/2″!) and I’d been gifted some fabric with little snowflakes on which I thought would make cute buttons!

It’s a fun make and actually comes together quite quickly.  I wanted to use stripes for the cuffs. If you would like to do this too, make sure that you cut your squares out at a 45* angle to the selvedge (on the bias) so that the stripes are going in the right direction. along the arm.

Gingerbread Man Christmas wall decoration with details on how to add embroidered words by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

As we have enough cushions in our house (according to Mr f&f anyway!) I thought a Christmas Banner would be a fun make.  The blocks finish at 10.5″ inches but for mine, I extended the top and bottom border (piece’s A and G) by 4.5″ and 5.5″ respectively, as well as curving the bottom of piece G to mirror the writing. 

Gingerbread Man Christmas wall decoration with details on how to add embroidered words by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

To add a more festive touch, I printed out ‘Merry Christmas’ so that I could trace the words on to the fabric using a water-soluble pen (if you are wondering, I used the Tempas Sans font at size 120 and curved the words slightly in Microsoft Office).

Gingerbread Man Christmas wall decoration with details on how to add embroidered words by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

It took a little time to embroider each of the letters – I used a padded satin-stitch – but I think it was worth it!

I’m so pleased with him, although I might have to find some little button eyes in green, I think that would finish him off nicely?! Have you started any Christmas makes yet? You can check out this post if you’re thinking of making your own family sized Advent Calendar.

I think I’m going to have to make a present list and get started on it soon! And if you’ve enjoyed this post, please sign up to my newsletter to find out about new tutorials and patterns.

See you soon, 

S x

Today’s sky::: grey, windy and miserable. Meh!