Tag Archives: quilt

106: Quilting with Wood

So, only posting one new project a month was supposed to give us more time to get more complex projects done.  I started this project 3 weeks ago, I swear, but didn’t get finished until 15 minutes before post! (…don’t mind the few threads I still have to tuck in).  So, here we have one false start, two new skills acquired, a last minute trip to the store because I ran out of thread, and in the end potentially a totally unique project – quilted wood*.

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The idea for this post was born out of a discussion with Rebecca at Hugs are Fun about making reverse applique with wood.  The concept is interesting – use the laser to cut whatever interesting designs you’d like, and have fabric peek though the negative spaces.  When brainstorming options on how to adhere the fabric to the wood, I thought “Why not quilt it?”  And if I’m quilting it, I might as well go whole hog and bind the edges as well.

Quilt backing and top.
Quilt backing and top.
Top makes a perfect fussy cutter!
Top makes a perfect fussy cutter!

First step was to design my pattern.  I couldn’t get traditional quilt blocks out of my head do I pulled out the Old Maid’s Puzzle Block – I used it back in Week 64 and still had the vector files.  I thickened the lines and merged them so I wouldn’t end up with a heap of triangles when I was done, and ran a line of holes for stitches at the base of each triangle, and the border edge.  For ease, I just did a simple backstitch, but you could really jazz this up with you wanted to figure out hole placement for fancy stitches.

Quilt layers, and the homemade binding
Quilt layers, and the homemade binding

A quilt is made up of layers and this project is no different – I have a thin (1/16′ bamboo) top layer with the reverse applique design, a fabric layer and then a solid, 1/8″ bamboo back layer.  The stitches hold the layers together.  Aligning the holes that are laser cut is a breeze – the top and the bottom are the same pattern that I removed the cut out triangles from.  The is no real possibility of misalignment.

While the holes are perfectly aligned, the Wonder Clips helped rule out user error :)
While the holes are perfectly aligned, the Wonder Clips helped rule out user error 🙂

Have I mentioned I’ve never actually quilted or bound a quilt before?  No?  All I can say is thank goodness for on-line videos. I picked some fabric I had for the middle layer, ran to my local quilt store, Prairie Stitches Quilt Shoppe, to ask for expert advice on binding fabrics (and picked up a package of Wonder Clips!) and picked out complimentary colors from my embroidery floss collection.  Who knew that having a laser cutting blog would build up my sewing stash?!

Front stitching.
Front stitching.
Back stitching. There's not a lot of options to hide messy stitches with the wood, so I had to make it neat!
Back stitching. There’s not a lot of options to hide messy stitches with the wood, so I had to make it neat!

I used the Wonder Clips to hold the layers together and did the internal stitching in pink first.  I made this relatively small, 6×6, so I wouldn’t have to piece together fabrics to make a continuous binding.  I just purchased 1/8th a yard from a bolt and had a ton to spare.  There multiple types of quilting bindings, and they have confusingly similar names.  I chose to make double fold binding tape for the edging because it was simpler – one stitch through and you are done.  Single fold binding requires two passes of stitches and flexibility to fold over corners, neither of which are an option on the wood.

Pink stitching is in place, and I used the clips to keep the binding from flopping around when stitching it up.
Pink stitching is in place, and I used the clips to keep the binding from flopping around when stitching it up.
Pretty proud of this neat little corner!
Pretty proud of this neat little corner!

Making double fold binding tape wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be – you simply iron your strip of fabric in half, the long way, and then iron each edge to the middle fold.  I used this video by Toni Barsi for tips on how to apply double fold bias tape and how to get it to go around your corners neatly!

Tidy and neatly bound wooden quilt!
Tidy and neatly bound wooden quilt!
Here's the back the sewing is done, I just have to hide the ends. The ends on the right and top are done, I just rand out of time.
Here’s the back the sewing is done, I just have to hide the ends. The ends on the right and top are done, I just rand out of time.

It turned out to be a very cute project, and I learned to create and then used double fold quilt binding.  I can see how the techniques could be refined to make some interesting and artistic quilts!  Now, to find a use for my little oddball quilt…

*I did a quick Google search and didn’t find any other examples of people quilting wood – “Quilted wood” is amazing wood grain, but not a quilt, and “wood quilt” brings up pictured of wooden pieces arranged like a quilt pattern, but not actually sewn.  I’d be interested if anyone has found a quilted, layered wood project like this.

68: Fussy Cut Templates

So, during Week 66, I made a disclaimer that the post wasn’t really about English Paper Piecing, but rather a platform to talk about how to laser cut paper. This week is about cutting and piecing together fabric – consider yourself forewarned!

To “fussy cut” a piece of fabric is to take great care in cutting the piece needed from  a specific area of the fabric.  You can do this to highlight a specific figure or artistic part of the fabric, but I most often see it used with English Paper Piecing to create a unique kaleidoscope effect with repeats of the same segment of fabric.

Here's my version - my first fussy cut bloom!  The 6 jewels with the same pattern are sewn points in to make this star, which has a kaleidoscope kind of feel to it.
Here’s my version – my first fussy cut star or flower! I used the jewel shape from Week 66 with the same pattern sewn points in to make this shape.  I like how the grey lines make a secondary, off kilter tar in the piece.
Step 1 for testing my aligning and sewing skills - cutting 6 of the same pattern segment in the jewel shape!
Step 1 for testing my aligning and sewing skills – cutting 6 of the same pattern segment in the jewel shape!
Six perfectly aligned jewel shapes!  Aren't they cute?
Six perfectly aligned jewel shapes! Aren’t they cute?

It’s easier to fussy cut, of course, when you can see what you want to cut.  This is where acrylic templates come in.  You can align your fabric under them template, and then use the outside lines as cut guides to trace or use a rotary cutter on.  There are many fussy cut templates commercially available, but they re overwhelmingly squares or hexagons (which, by all rights, are very popular shapes in quilting).  I couldn’t find a jewel shaped or octagonal template anywhere!

To get the outlines for the templates, I used the same vector lines I created for the  paper templates in Week 66 and added a 3/8″ (.375″) border for the fabric that needs to fold over the paper edges and get tacked together to make the final shape. With good advice from Ryan, I figured out the easiest way to do this is add a .375″ outside stroke to the piece, then hit “expand appearance.”  Then you get two lines: your original, and another the perfect distance away.

I used the expanded shapes to create two different kinds of templates, to see which I liked better.  I actually did find advantages and disadvantages to both types, and often swapped back and forth!

Template style 1 is on the right, style 2 is on the left!
Template style 1 is on the right, style 2 is on the left!
Cute framed Mermaid!
Cute framed Mermaid!

Template 1: Created with 1/8″ clear acrylic.  It’s a solid piece, with a deep vector line showing the dimensions of your finished EPP.

Pros:

  • Because of the full coverage, it flattened slightly wrinkly fabric in the center as well as around the edges.  
  • Smoothly ran across the fabric when I was looking for the perfect cut
  • The clear acrylic allowed me to see the edges of what I was cutting as well as the desired image.  Fussy cutting can waste a lot of fabric, and sometimes the perfect images is closer the 3/8″ from the edge.  3/8″ is pretty generous, and in dire need, you can short it a little.  Visually deciding what was enough to sew helped me waste less fabric!
  • Some artists actually use the acrylic to trace the outline of the desired image in the center with a removable marker, allowing them more reference points to align to for even more perfect fussy cuts!
  • Easier to put the 52 Lasers logo on it (which of course has nothing to do with functionality!)

Cons:

  • Clear edges could be a little distracting, especially with busy or loud patterns
  • Easy to lose!  It’s clear so it blends in with everything.
The template frames the spider cross stitch done by Rebecca of Hugs are Fun perfectly!
The template frames the spider cross stitch done by Rebecca of Hugs are Fun perfectly!

Template 2: Created with 1/8″ opaque white acrylic, and is just the area encompassed by the stroke.  The center is cut out, like a low-tech view finder.

Pros:

  • Smoothly ran across the fabric when I was looking for the perfect cut
  • I preferred the opaque edges when finding the perfect cuts – it separated out the noise of the full fabric

Cons:

  • You couldn’t see the edges, and a couple times I got too close to a hole or wayward rotary cut for my fussy cut to work.

The full clear template is probably more versatile, and I would probably like it better with frosted or tinted edges – enough to still see though, but to set it off from the rest of the fabric better.  You wouldn’t believe how many times I simply set it down and lost it. I found I used the different template types in tandem, specially when I was trying to utilize every scrap.  I could see if a given space would fit two shapes or only one!

The laser is a versatile tool – you can make any shape template imaginable!  This really helps with the new EPP books that are breaking away from the hexagon stereotype, like the eagerly anticipated All Points Patchwork: English Paper Piecing beyond the Hexagon by Diane Gilleland, coming out in May! (Not an affiliate link, I just think the sneak peek looks great!)

Thanks again to Rebecca at Hugs are Fun for letting me raid her stash.  Of course, it’s her fault I’ve wandered down this EPP path in the first place! 🙂

This photo is very badly posed, as I was trying to photograph with my left and hold the rotary blade with my right.  Rotary blades are dangerous, kids, don't try this at home.

This photo is very badly posed, as I was trying to photograph with my left and hold the rotary blade with my right. Rotary blades are dangerous, kids, don’t try this at home.

cut-octagons

Clear 2 inch diamond template
Clear 2 inch diamond template

Edited 6/14/2015 – you can now find them in my supply shop, Beadeux, along with other laser cut goodies!

64: To paint before, or paint after engraving?

I’ve been working one some new designs based on quilt blocks that involve engraving to create a two toned design.   Given that the engraved / unengraved area is roughly equal, I thought this would be a good time to test whether it’s better to paint first, then engrave away the color or surface you don’t need, or engrave first and fill in the engraved areas with paint.

Cut quilt blocks, with the transfer tape still in place.
Cut quilt blocks, with the transfer tape still in place.

During Week 24, we discussed why transfer tape was a wonderful time saving device when it comes to laser cutting. For Week 27, we used the transfer tape to personalize a wedding gift, engraving first, then painting.  Week 56 was all about decorating clothes pins, one of which I prepped by painting first, then engraving designs.

The patterns I vectorized were classic quilt block: Old Maid’s Puzzle, Contrary Wife, Pinwheel, Ohio Star, and Hexagon Star.  I made them jewelry sized – 1″ for the pendants and .375″ for the ones that were stud earrings.

To make the comparison a little more scientific, here are my 4 variable groups:

Naked Quilt blocks, just the bamboo!
1 – Naked Quilt blocks, just the bamboo!

1 – Au Naturale – this is unpainted cut and engraved bamboo.  You can see how the laser changes the surface of the bamboo when engraving.  By its nature, the laser burns the softer wood rings faster than the hard rings – leaving the a more pronounced wood texture than the surface.

These were probably my favorite.  Easiest prep, easiest clean up and cleanest lines of the bunch.
2 – Paint before engraving. These were probably my favorite. Easiest prep, easiest clean up and cleanest lines of the bunch.
This is the best shot I had of the gold painted wood before laser cutting - it was hard to tell the gold with the bit of shine.  Regular bamboo ply is on the right.
This is the best shot I had of the gold painted wood before laser cutting – it was hard to tell the gold with the bit of shine. Regular bamboo ply is on the right.

2. Painted first – I had some lovely gold spray paint, so I applied three coats to an uncut piece of bamboo.  It’s a little hard to see in photos, but it’s gorgeous.  Shiny and metallic.  I’m learning I really like spray paints, much better than acrylics at least.  We then engraved away the areas that shouldn’t be painted.

Blue paint in engraved areas
3. Paint after engraving.  The blue paint in engraved areas has an interesting weathered look.
Gold sprayed in the engraved areas.  It's not a smooth, shiny look.
Gold sprayed in the engraved areas. It’s not a smooth, shiny look.

3. Paint after engraving – to keep a constant, I used the gold again.  To add some variety, I used my favorite blue acrylic paint on some. The paint was applied to the engraved areas only – unengraved areas were protected by a layer of medium tack transfer tape applied before cutting.

Blue acrylic paint in the engraved areas, gold sprayed before engraving.
4. Two toned! Blue acrylic paint in the engraved areas, gold sprayed before engraving.
Gold sprayed on gold paint.  It would have been the same effect as if I had just sprayed a plain one!
Gold sprayed on gold paint. It would have been the same effect as if I had just sprayed a plain one!

4. Two toned! – Getting a little crazy here; I wanted to see how it worked to combine the techniques.  Theoretically, it should have lead to two neatly colored layers.  The first layer was the gold spray paint.  I did a second shot of gold paint post engraving on some; blue acrylic paint on others.

Things I learned:

Plethora of transfer tape
Plethora of transfer tape

–  Painting first is so much easier.  Painting the uncut surface is neat and fast.  It makes a cleaner line, and is much less work overall.   Also, if you paint first, you don’t necessarily need transfer tape.  Often times the soot cleans easily off of painted pieces, especially glossy paints.  Peeling all those little transfer tape papers was about to make my eyes cross.

– I preferred the paint on the smooth areas.  The paint simply wasn’t as vibrant in the engraved areas, where it was highly textured. (Another point in favor of painting it first!)

– Painting tiny laser cut bits with a brush is a PAIN.  I had more paint on my fingers than the pieces, I swear.  Also, excess paint went over the sides of the quilt patterns easily.  When painting first, the original edges are cut away, leaving clean sides.

Stack of quilt block pendants - no paint, gold on gold and blue overpaint.
Stack of quilt block pendants – no paint, gold on gold and blue overpaint.

– Spray painting tiny laser cut bits was much more painless; the spray didn’t drip down the sides but rather speckled it.  To keep them in place on the windy day outside, I stuck them to another bit of transfer tape (a method I used in Week 61: Hexagon Trivet)  With both “paint after” methods, the sides did not stay clean.

– The two toned pieces were unique, but spraying gold on gold was a bit pointless 🙂

So, my advice is to paint first to save yourself a lot of headaches, unless it’s something precise and small (in respect to the total surface area), like a name.

Side by side comparison, form the top to the bottom: 1) naked bamboo 2) gold painted before engraving 3) blue painted after engraving and 4) two toned
Side by side comparison, form the top to the bottom: 1) naked bamboo 2) gold painted before engraving 3) blue painted after engraving and 4) two toned