Spiderman and Invisibility (or how to quilt with invisible thread)

The thing about having a wee boy is that despite having all the loveliest fabrics imaginable and an itch to try out some really complex and beautiful quilting designs (Kaleidoscope quilt anyone?), your child will look at you, big brown eyes shining and say “Will you make me a Spiderman quilt, Mummy?” And then will proceed to pick out two almost identical, but crucially apparently NOT THE SAME, equally busy and very Spidermanny fabrics for front and back respectively. It’s done, he loves it and his mummy, I kept the fabric whole and added a border – it’s not in itself worth a blog post… except perhaps for the quilting.

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This is the “back” of the quilt where you can see the quilting. I chose to do loop and star quilting as Kiddo loves it, having seen it on a quilt I made for another wee boy; I can attest that it is much easier the second time round – once you get your head round it it seems it’s a piece of cake! I showed how to do loop and star quilting (on paper) here if you needed any pointers:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2014/10/24/bartholomeows-reef-bermuda-baby-boy-quilt/

But on the front of the quilt I used invisible thread:

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Looking at the other side (which is not invisible) now, I am not sure I needed to bother. But I was concerned about the busyness of the print clashing with the quilting thread and it all looking like a giant mess. Especially as one side was very dark (the other had more white/light blue and grey in it). But for whatever reason, I chose invisible thread, and it certainly looks cleaner, but with subtle texture and pattern.

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That’s the side quilted with invisible thread and the next is the side quilted in a pale blue:

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The difference is more noticeable in real life! (isn’t it always?)

Anyway, this is the second time I used invisible thread, the first being on a project for Kiddo’s school last year when I made a quilt from the children’s drawings (but camera failure deleted the photos – arrrrggggh), and for which invisible thread was pretty important. At that time, I trawled through blogs and websites to try and get some understanding on how to use it, and made notes. Notes which I followed again with success again, so if only for myself I thought I would write them here too!

NB. *Apologies for not being able to credit the sources, but it was last year and I read quite a lot of articles about it… A google search will bring up all my sources! I do remember a newsletter from Barnyarns being really helpful – they are so knowledgeable about threads and notions! And it is where I got my thread. *

http://www.barnyarns.co.uk

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How to Quilt with Invisible Thread

  1. Invisible thread is either nylon (A.K.A. polyamide) or polyester. Polyester sews more like very fine thread and won’t melt as easily with an iron, so I decided to use it. I have some nylon invisible thread and it feels stiff, a bit more like wire but some folk prefer it apparently. The thread I used is called Superior MonoPoly clear very fine polyester, from Barnyarns. I used this as my top thread. It’s superfine but my Janome handled it easily.
  2. You CANNOT use invisible thread in your bobbin. It will stretch, break and tangle inside your machine. The tension would be all over the place even as you wind it. You need a very fine but strong polyester. I used The Bottom Line by Libby Lehrman for Superior Threads in my bobbin (I think Barnyarns recommended it as I got it from there too!) and it worked really well. It’s very fine (a 60 weight), but strong and I had no problems. You could try a 50 weight too but probably nothing thicker (the bigger the number, the finer the thread).
  3. Because invisible thread is a monofilament (one strand, not 2 or 3 ply), it is extremely fine (and stretchy). This means you need a very fine, very sharp needle. the thread will not expand to fill the hole made by a needle, unlike normal quilting thread, so you need a really fine needle like a size 70/10. If that’s not small enough try a size 60 (the smaller the number the finer the needle!). For sharpness use a microtex or a topstitch needle. I tried both and both worked well. I might say to go with a topstitch needle if you pushed me, but I doubt there’s a big difference. A 70/10 topstich needle was fine for me.
  4. I only free-motion quilted but I assume this next info is true for straight line quilting too. Turn the tension on your machine right down. because of the stretch, a normal tension will stretch and snap the thread. If your stitches are looking very very shiny and thin you will need to lower the tension even more. Experiment. On my Janome I had to reduce the tension to a 2.

and hopefully that’s it! Otherwise it was just like quilting with normal thread, and it feels like normal thread now it’s quilted.

I actually really like the thinness of the 60 wt bobbin thread too even though I usually only use 50 wt cotton – you can see the quilting but not too prominently (below). I need to do more experimenting!

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Phew! Hope that helps if you want to have a go with invisible thread, obviously there are loads of other options, I’m just saying what worked for me as I didn’t have any problems, but feel free to comment if you have any thoughts or experience with using invisible thread!

Happy sewing/crafting/drawing/art-making/life-making all.

Until the next time, Poppy xx

 

 

 

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A Patchwork Picnic

It isn’t though. It’s completely staged because I forgot to mention when I
wrote the tutorial for the one on the left that is was actually commissioned
for someone else. I don’t get to keep it. Yes, my new year’s resolution has
failed spectacularly to kick in, and I am still making for others with no
additions yet to our house. Still this one is a retirement gift for an
apparently wonderful NHS Healthcare worker (a Health Visitor) who seemingly
deserves things of much beauty and love. So. I’m spending time with it. Hanging
out. Like a crazy old quilt lady. I’ll may have to make me one too… 

I’m partly posting because I wanted a picture of the cushion when it was properly
filled – The cover is 19.5″ square and it looked too “floppy” last time, with a
20″ cushion pad. Now it has a 24″ pad and looks lovely! I think. I know,
everyone knows you should go bigger… And partly because I wanted to see it
alongside my Liberty dresden cushion, blogged here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love

My wee dog was most upset with this photo shoot. Usually a quilt on the
ground means happy hours of lazing about, snuggled next to mummy chewing a
stick, hopefully with the baby-dinosaur, which is clearly how he sees Kiddo,
engaged in some crafty activity and not charging about with various brightly
coloured missiles in his hands or leaping randomly off furniture. This time it
was a “I know it’s sunny but it’s way too cold for picnics” and everything
swept back in. He kept up this stance of protest next to a juicy pile of sticks
for some time before sloping back inside. Wee cutie. 

I know how he feels. Bring on summer. My ambition is to have a whole heap of
cushions ready for when it happens for real, hopefully very soon! Meanwhile, if
you fancy a go at either of them and need any guidance, the tutorial for the
one on the left is here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/114218367457/liberty-star-patchwork-pillow-cushion-tutorial

and link to someone else’s far-clever-than-mine tutorial on Dresden plate cushions is within: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love

Meanwhile, here’s to dreams of summer laziness amidst quilty love. And
apparently some big chewable sticks.

Till the next time, Poppy xx

Liberty Star Patchwork Pillow/ Cushion + Tutorial

Hello lovely creative types, so… how best to gloss over my prolonged bloggy abstinence? How about we make up with a tutorial? You might not need one as it’s pretty simple, but you know, since I took pictures…

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This is Liberty of London fabrics and linen. The pattern was actually born when i decided to make a thank-you present for my lovely neighbour who let me use her shower for 2 weeks whilst our bathroom was ripped out and replaced. I now have a hotel bathroom! I’m so tempted to hold dinner parties in it – it’s the nicest room in the house… Anyway, she is more traditional, so I made her this:

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This is made with Kona snow cotton… and Liberty fabrics I actually bought at THE REAL LIBERTY OF LONDON SHOP. In London no less. I was slightly in heaven. But also a bit overwhelmed by all its beauty after this pilgrimage (the shop itself is just aesthetically gorgeous)… and by the prices. I felt I should buy something so bought a little charm pack of 36 2.5″ squares, although I had to add 4 more from stash to make this. I must tell you though they came from  Alice Caroline Supply (http://www.alicecaroline.co.uk/) and are cheaper to buy from the website. But that wasn’t really the spirit of it all was it? My neighbour was suitably pleased.

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Bit of wobbly hand-quilting action going on there.

But I wasn’t thrilled to be honest. I thought that the patchwork border got lost round the sides of the cushion. Amateur. This is what it looked like before it became a cushion – I thought it would make a pretty mini-quilt or wall hanging…

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See what I mean? So I was a bit disappointed. Anyway, I thought I would try and fix it with an extra row of sashing:

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And certainly you can see it better. but if you decide to make one, you can decide on how you like it! So, for many folk, that will be it as it’s quite simple construction and with a little experience it’s straightforward to work this out, but as sometimes it’s nice to work from instructions, here goes! This is for the Liberty and Linen cushion. Clearly you can make it in anything you like – a moda mini-charm pack and white solid would be nice.

To make the patchwork cushion front, you will need:

  1. A 10″ piece of Linen (44″ wide, I’m assuming your solid comes as 44″ wide)
  2. Forty 2.5″ x 2.5″ Liberty or patterned fabric squares
  3. 24″x24″ square piece of batting (I used cotton)
  4. 24″x 24″ square piece of cotton backing fabric (this will be on the inside of the cushion, so it doesn’t need to be too nice)
  5. rotary cutter, ruler, scissors, thread, sewing machine, unpicker (you won’t need that) etc

Cutting instructions:

Let’s cut all our fabric up first.

1. Cut the linen fabric into four 2.5” x 44” strips.

2. Strip 1: cut into
Four 2.5” x 2.5″ squares
Four 2.5” x 4.5” rectangles
One 2.5” X 13.5” rectangle

3. Strip 2 : Cut into
One 2.5” x 13.5” rectangle
Two 2.5” x 10” rectangles

4. Strip 3: cut into
One 2.5” x 22” rectangle
One 2.5” x 18” rectangle

5. Strip 4: again cut into
One 2.5” x 22” rectangle
One 2.5” x 18” rectangle

You should now have linen cut into:
4 x (2.5” x 2.5) squares
4 x (2.5” x 4.5”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x10”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x 13.5”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x 18”) rectangle
2 x (2.5” x 22”) rectangles

6. And your 40 Liberty 2.5” x 2.5” fabric squares (either buy as a mini charm pack or cut these)

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Photo shows my cutting in progress. If you think you’ll get confused, label each pile’s measurements with a scrap of paper. I started to arrange my Liberty fabrics in a rainbow.

Layout

Now arrange your layout as you like it. If you are going for random, this will be easy, you won’t need to lay it all out, you can just start sewing! But I did this:

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In the centre, the top two squares will be the top two points of the star, the bottom two will be the bottom points of the star etc. The 4 in the middle will be aa 4-patch which makes the centre of the star.

I think of a rainbow (unsurprisingly!) when thinking about which colours go together. Red – orange – yellow – green – blue – dark blue/indigo – violet/purple – red to enable the colours to meld in a natural way. Obviously orange is made from red and yellow which is why it’s in between them etc, so it works better than red and green next to each other for example, when green has no red in it. Anyway, have a play around until you like it.

Making the patchwork star centre

(BTW I’m not generally a big presser until the end out of sheer laziness, but with this, given it’s going to be a centrepiece and small, I pressed at almost every stage. It keeps everything neater, there’s no doubt.)

1. Sew your centre 4 patch, first by sewing 2 squares together, then the second 2 together, then join them as a 4 patch. Press.

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2. The star points are flying geese rather than HSTs – much easier.  You are aiming for this:

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This is how you do it:

  • Draw a diagonal line in pencil joining opposite points on the wrong sides of each of your eight squares reserved for the star points.
  • Lay one of these patterned squares, right side down onto one of the 2.5” x 4.5” pices of linen, with the bottom end of your diagonal line towards the centre of the fabric (it won’t be in the centre). Make sure your edges line up nicely.
  • (if you are using directional prints then be careful with this step, you could easily end up with your fabric upside down. Ditto with getting the two fabrics mixed up – I did this and had to change my layout – rather than unpick…)
  • Sew along your pencil line.
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3. Now before you cut off the excess, it’s worth folding down the right side to check you are happy.

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4. If you are then you can go ahead and trim that excess piece on the wrong side – both the linen and patterned. You’ll end up with little triangles of scrap for a tiny project. Press.

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5. Repeat the process on the other side of your linen rectangle as shown in the picture. Don’t worry that there is a bit of overlap, that’s in the seam allowance when you sew them all together. Press.

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6. And you have one side of your star!. Do this with all 8 points onto your four 2.5” x 4.5” pieces of linen.

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7. Now take your top row star points and sew a 2.5” x 2.5” linen square onto either side. Repeat for the bottom two star points.

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8. Sew your side star point pieces to the centre 4-patch…

9. And then sew the top and bottom rows on.

10. Press everything.

Is it looking lovely yet?

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Adding the sashing

11. Sew one 2.5″ x 10″ rectangle to one side of your star. Trim off the excess (I always make sashing bigger and trim in case my seam allowance isn’t always perfect). Repeat on the other side. Trim excess.

12. THEN sew the 2.5 x 13.5″ pieces along the top and bottom, trimming the excess linen afterwards. Press.

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Making the patchwork borders

13. Sew your top 8 liberty squares together and put to one side. Repeat for the bottom eight squares. Now make the left side and right sides which will both have 6 squares. Press.

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(somehow I managed to sew 9 squares on the bottom row! Doh! Had to unpick after all…)

14. Sew the sides onto your star block first and then press, before sewing on the top and bottom pieces. pin your patchwork strips to the linen first to ensure it reaches the full length, and match up the seams at the corners as best you can. Press.

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Now at this point you can batt, back, quilt and bind and use as a mini quilt or wall hanging which measures 16.5” square (above). Or you can add the outer linen border to finish your cushion as I did.

Adding the final linen border

15. This is exactly what you did before. Sew the 2.5” x 18” linen strips onto the sides of your star block and trim the excess.

16. Now sew the final two pieces, the 2.5” x 22” rectangles to the top and bottom and trim the excess. Press everything…

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 And Ta-Dahhhhhh! You’re done!

17. Now, make a quilt sandwich as normal. Lay the cotton backing fabric face down, lay over the cotton batting, lay over the patchwork piece and smoother everything over to ensure there are no wrinkles. I pinned with safety pins (it’s not worth getting out the gun for such a small piece I found) to baste.

18. Quilt as you like – straight or hand quilting on this would be lovely! I machine- quilted with an overall stipple…

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19. And then did a little decorative hand quilting with perle 8 cotton in a red colour.

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20. Finally add your cushion back and a zip as I did (or make an envelope back as I showed here:  https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love   ).

My back is Heather Ross Unicorn in Purple from Far Far away II – and I LOVE it.

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Your cushion cover will measure about 19.5″ square.

Add an insert (go a bit bigger, maybe 22 – 24″ square, as you can see from the  picture above, mine isn’t full enough at 20″ square, I’ve ordered another insert) … and enjoy your new cushion!

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Well I hope this makes up for the absence. Actually, I Firefox has crashed so many times when I have attempted a blog post, I’ve lost 3 already, and this one crashed at least 15 times. I kept saving as a draft and wrote most on Word and copy/pasted. Anyone else having trouble? I’m either going to have to abandon Firefox (likely) or Tumblr (less likely). As a plus, I have a few posts to share when I resolve this. Meanwhile, hope your creative mojo is mojoing away.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Edited: you can see how it looks with a fuller cushion insert and in the sunshine here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2015/03/26/a-patchwork-picnic/