Tutorial: Wrapping Your Embroidery Hoop

An easy way to spruce up your embroidery hoop for display is to wrap it. It brings the final product up a level for a finished look without using too much fabric or effort. When you’ve worked hard on a piece such as Canned Pineapples, it’s nice to give it a little extra touch.

Wrapping the hoop adds a bit of grip to the outer hoop to improve the tension of the embroidered piece.  The results will make the framed work look its best!.

Embroidery Hoop tutorial

Choose a ribbon or fabric that compliments the main piece. In this Canned Pineapples hoop quilt, I used a fabric from the same fabric collection as the main fabric of the quilt block. It automatically complements the main fabric and brings out some of the greens in the quilt block.

Cut your wrapping fabric into 1/2″ strips. For a 12″ hoop, I cut 8 strips off a fat quarter.

Separate your embroidery hoop into the inner hoop and the outer hoop. We will only be wrapping the outer one. Starting at the hardware of the hoop, wrap a fabric strip around the hoop. Start on the inner side, and wrap the fabric around to overlap and secure the strip in place. No glue is necessary.

Embroidery Hoop tutorial
Embroidery Hoop tutorial

Adding more strips: When you come to the end of a strip, you can tuck a second strip under the first and wrap it around to overlap both strips.

Embroidery Hoop tutorial

Continue till you come full circle to the hoop hardware again. Trim the excess off so the end is on the inside of the hoop and hold it firmly. Use a clip to hold the fabric in place while you get your glue or needle/thread ready.

Embroidery Hoop tutorial

Glue or stitch the end in place.

Embroidery Hoop tutorial

Snip away any “fly-aways” to get it neatened up. Alternatively, you can do this after the embroidered piece is framed.

Embroidery Hoop tutorial

Voilà – a custom look to your framed piece!

How to Wrap Your Embroidery Hoop, Pattern: Canned Pineapples by 3rd Story Workshop

Tutorial: Basic Embroidery Stitches

In this post, you’ll get an idea of how to make some simple embroidery stitches to complete your Canned Pineapples hoop quilt! We’ll cover a back stitch, woven wheel stitch, and a running stitch. I’m not an expert in this realm, but I sure have fun adding these embellishments to my block.

Looking for info on picking fabric colours and how to finish your hoop? Check out these useful posts:

Hoop or Not to Hoop?

Most of us imagine embroidery work is done in a hoop. It makes sense: The fabric is held in place at a consistent tension, just taut enough. I found that since I interface my block before I embroider, it’s possible to skip the hoop since the fabric is stiffened. Up to you – do what feels comfortable for you!

Back Stitch

To create the outline of the jar to “can” your pineapple blocks, you can use a simple back stitch. You will bring your needle up ahead of the stitch and insert back down at the start of the stitch. As always a picture is worth a thousand words.

Back stitch tutorial by 3rd Story Workshop

Three tricks for the best-looking back stitch:

  1. Make the line as straight as possible.
  2. Keep your stitch length as consistent as possible.
  3. Minimize the gaps between each stitch by inserting your needle in the exact same place as you brought the thread up.

Here’s a video of how that all works:

In the pattern, I suggest that you can use a stem stitch if you’re feeling fancy. The outline of the jar lid in this version uses a stem stitch. If you’re interested in learning more about that, join the 3rd Story Workshop Community on Facebook to access a video on how it!

Woven Wheel Stitch

This little round stitch gives a small rosette look and makes the lightning bugs around the central pineapple block ones. You will start with five spokes and weave them in a circular direction. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures (which… it literally is.)

Running Stitch

The simplest of them all, the running stitch is a simple up and down through the fabric in a straight line. For your Canned Pineapples, you’ll go around your woven wheels to get the effect of radiating light!

Above all, have fun with it!

Colour Post: The Glowing Effect

Starry Night — one of the world’s most well-known paintings — has been subsumed into the image bank of my mind and probably influenced the design of my hoop quilt design, Canned Pineapples. In this post, we’ll talk about how to choose colours to achieve this effect.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night, by legendary artist Vincent Van Gogh, has inspired countless artists after him, such as musician Don McLean who wrote the song “Starry, Starry Night”. Besides the dynamic brush strokes that are Van Gogh’s signature technique, the emanating light around each star and the moon give the painting its mood.

Photo by Kitty Wilkin (Night Quilter) for The 2019 Quilter’s Planner

The design was inspired by a summer’s night camping in upstate New York with my friends (amongst them my future husband — read the full story here). Fireflies — or lightning bugs, depending where you’re from — danced in the woods, glowing like I had never seen before. The quilt design takes a traditional pineapple quilt block and randomizes the colours of the radiating pieces a bit. The effect are glowing fireflies.

Pineapple quilt block, tiny sewing

Each pineapple block uses six colours to make the glow. All you really need is some scraps in the right colours. How do we choose the “right” colours?

Note that the colour code from the pattern is in parentheses below.

Because the pieces of the pineapple block are very small (approximately 1/4″ width), solid fabrics will show this effect best. Small-scale prints can also work well. The exception is the background fabric (N) — go as crazy as you want with that! 

Pineapple quilt block

Fireflies: Choose the colour of your firefly (YL). For simplicity, white works best. Yellow is a step up in difficulty, but you can use the colours in the pattern as a guide.

Background: Choose your background fabric (N). This can be a night colour like navy, a print with dots in your firefly colour or something that looks like a natural surrounding.

A navy, a Cotton + Steel sprinkle print, or a bold print like Anna Maria Horner’s “Imposter” from her Passionflower Collection (above).

In-between colours: Next, you will choose the four “in-between” colours (YM, YD, G, B). You will want to “bridge” your firefly colour to your background.

The simplest is using a white firefly. Find fabrics that form a tone gradient from white to the general colour of your background. Here, my background fabric is a blue-grey. I used a combination of solid scraps and a chopped up ombre similar to the blue-grey of my background. Use the swatch chart provided to keep track of your colour selection.

Fabric color selection, Canned Pineapples hoop quilt pattern
Bridging the white of the fireflies (lightest at left) to the blue-grey background.

If you’re using a yellow firefly, you will want to refer to the colour wheel. Identify your yellow and your general background colour and build a loose “bridge” between them.

CMY color wheel

This colour wheel comes as a free download if you’re a subscriber of my newsletter! Sign up here: https://3rdstoryworkshop.com/newsletter

That’s it! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Spoonflower’s New Quilting Cotton

Introducing Spoonflower’s newest substrate, Petal Signature Cotton™! This new quilting weight cotton is colour-fast and is easy to work with.
Pictured here is a baby version of my Striped Scallops pattern with a lively background fabric designed by yours truly.

Modern quilt pattern with Spoonflower fabric
Photo by Emma Poliquin Photography.
Background fabric design by Andrea Tsang Jackson, 3rd Story Workshop.

I really like the idea of custom printed fabric, as it’s less wasteful on an industry level. The fabric is printed only in the yardage that the consumer wants. You can find all the fabrics in this quilt here.

Photo by Emma Poliquin Photography.

This new cotton was developed specifically for Spoonflower’s print-on-demand service and its weight is 4.3 oz/sq yd. It’s a plain weave crafting cotton – versatile for garments, bags and other craft uses.

Photo by Emma Poliquin Photography.

Its colour-fastness surprised me – I pre-washed the fabric and there was no colour difference at all between the unwashed and washed fabric.

Modern quilt pattern by 3rd Story Workshop
Striped Scallops pattern with fabric designed by Andrea Tsang Jackson.
Printed on Spoonflower’s Petal Signature Cotton.
Pieced by Emma Poliquin. Quilted by Violet Quilts.
Photo by Emma Poliquin Photography.

Petal Signature Cotton has a stable and sturdy hand, which made it easier to sew these skinny strips:

Striped Scallops block.

Check out this video about the thought, research and development that went into bringing this product to reality:

Get 10% off 1 or more yards of Petal Signature Cotton at Spoonflower in any of their thousands of prints until May 19, 2019. No promo code required! You can find my Spoonflower fabric designs here.

Modern quilt pattern by 3rd Story Workshop

Striped Scallops Pattern Release

Striped Scallops gives illusion of curves without curved piecing! Learn to get comfortable with some skinny piecing and a scant 1/4″ seam allowance with this pattern.

Small throw, 50″ x 56 1/2″. Quilted by Violet Quilts.

Striped Scallops comes in 5 sizes: Baby (38” x 44 1⁄2”), Small Throw (50” x 56 1⁄2”), Throw (50” x 68 1⁄2”), Twin (74” x 92 1⁄2”), and Double/Full (86″ x 92 1⁄2″). I like a contrast of solid vs. print. The sample above shows the background colour in Kona Nectarine and the scallops in various Rifle Paper Co. designs. Below, we have my own Spoonflower fabric as the dominant feature with a textured “solid” as the scallop.

A single block Striped Scallops block in my Spoonflower fabric, Nebulous

The ample negative space provides an opportunity to show off the quilting. This palm leaves motif adds the perfect tropical touch to this small throw.

Quilted by Sheri Lund of Violet Quilts.

In addition to the various sizes, the pattern comes with 3 alternative layouts, including an interweaving scallop arrangement. Check out Dena’s version here!

Alternative layouts for Striped Scallops.

This neutral palette in a twin size was pieced by Brenda Harvey, Jennifer Trott-Zisserson and Anja Clyke. It’s also quilted by Sheri Lund of Violet Quilts!

Striped Scallops pattern by 3rd Story Workshop
Gradient quilt pattern, Striped Scallops by 3rd Story Workshop.
Who loves a good gradient?

As always, this new pattern is on sale at launch time. So what are you waiting for? Grab your own copy of Striped Scallops!

Meet “R”: Typecast Blog Tour

Today is my day on the Typecast of Characters Blog Tour hosted by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Whole Circle Studio! Today’s instalment is brought to you by the letter “R”.

Typecast R, typography quilt block

Typecast is an alphabet of English paper pieced uppercase letters. Each finishes at 6” x 9”.

I had the privilege of meeting Sheri at QuiltCon in Nashville. Sheri is a graphic designer by training and worked extensively in the museum exhibit design field for a very long time. Her experience and passion for type shows in Typecast.

The letters are made of modular pieces that are used throughout the alphabet. And careful consideration has been paid attention to in the kerning of the letters (spacing between the characters)! This is something that type designers live for…

English paper piecing progress

I chose “R” for no real reason other than I like the letter form. The combination of the curve and the diagonal add movement. It’s not symmetrical along any axis which adds to the dynamism of the shape.

Typecast “R” in Nebulous by 3rd Story Workshop with a white R.

I used my own fabric design printed on Spoonflower fabric. The subtle difference between the lighter parts of the fabric and the white of the “R” make you look a little more carefully at what is going on, both in the shape as well as the fabric.

The Typecast pattern guide and paper packs are available for purchase and all the details can be found at in the Whole Circle Studio shop!

There is lots of inspiration on the blog tour, so check out all the posts from A through Z!

TYPECAST OF CHARACTERS BLOG TOUR

X Sew-Along: Week 6, Catch-up / Improv Challenge

If you’re still working on your quilting or binding, keep plugging away! Or if you want to play… this week is also our improv challenge. We’ve got some lovely offcuts to work with and some leftover fabric, so what don’t we make something to complement the quilt like a pillow? Or just experiment for no good reason other than to do it? Let’s have a look at what we can achieve this week with our improv challenge:

Improv Quilted pillow
Photo by Emma Poliquin.

#1 / Have fun

This is the most important element of the improv challenge. I love that I can just sit down and sew without measuring anything. Just do it. Put to pieces of fabric together and sew! Trim and then add more.

Improv pillow with Everyone's Got an X modern quilt pattern.
Photo by Emma Poliquin.

#2 / Lay it out

Lay out your piece and see what you’ve got. You’ll see some angles that will come together well. You’ll see where you might want to contrast light and dark, or put two similar tones together. You can try and line up your strip sets or you can say, “I’ve already done this precisely for the quilt, so this time I don’t care this time!”

Lay out improv quilt

#3 / Trim as you go

As you put your pieces together trim any funny bits off so you can add your next straight seams. You might have some groups of shapes that go well together. In this case put a few ‘slabs’ together and then join those slabs to make a bigger piece.

Improv (ignore the scissors in this photo!): Three slabs joined together - rectangle with yellow stripes at top, rectangle at the bottom with peach stripes, three longs strips at the right.

Improv with slabs above (ignore the scissors in photo for now). There are three slabs joined together:

  • Rectangle with yellow stripes at top
  • Rectangle at the bottom with peach stripes
  • Three longs strips at the right.

#4 / Experiment

With a lap size, you can easily get one 20″ x 20″ improve piece and with a baby quilt, you can get a 16″ x 16″ piece. Probably more! With this size of work — because it’s small and not too time consuming, feel free to try something new! If you mess up, the investment of time and fabric is low. Don’t even take out the seam you don’t like, just CUT IT OUT and use the fabric again. Take the opportunity to try a new quilting technique, some hand work or embroidery or pieces some improv curves together (see next point).

Modern handmade pillow with hand stitching
Hand stitching with sashiko thread (black) and perle cotton (off-white).

#5 / Try improv curves

I did an improv curve on this one pink and charcoal pillow. I overlapped two pieces of fabric and cut a random curve in the overlapped area with my rotary cutter. Then sewed them together without too much pinning or care. Again, If it doesn’t work out, take your scissors and cut the seam out and use the fabric again. If you want to try these out, start with them and then move on to other more straightforward seams. That way, if it doesn’t work, you haven’t spent a whole bunch of time on the improv only to “mess it up” with a curve that just isn’t quite right.

Improv curves.

Ready… set… play!

Handmade pillow with hand stitching. Improv quilting
Photo by Emma Poliquin.

X Sew-Along: Week 5, Binding

The binding is a shining feature of the design of Everyone’s Got an X. It adds serifs to the top and bottom of the X, like a serifed typeface such as Garamond or Linotype Didot.  It’s totally optional to do a piecing binding, but if want to give it a go, here are some things to keep in mind.

The method I use is attached the binding to the front of the quilt by machine and then hand-stitching it to the back. You could try machine-binding all the way, but this way, you can see that everything aligns well on the front.

Squaring up

When your X is all quilted, we first need to trim off the excess batting and backing. You’ll notice that the bar or the stripes may have bubbled outward a bit. This is because the edge is on a bias and has some stretch. Don’t worry, we can carefully trim it off, using the seam of your side borders as the reference for “true” right angles. Make sure your cut is perpendicular to those seams and you should be good to go. Don’t trim off much, just a tiny bit to correct the bulge. You should not need to trim off any of your background fabric (Fabric A).

Serifs

From The Brand Collective.

What are serifs anyway? According to Wikipedia: “In typography, a serif is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular font or family of fonts. A typeface or “font family” making use of serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface), and a typeface that does not include them is a sans-serif one. We will be adding serifs to our X using the binding. 

Pieced binding

Time to piece the binding. Follow the directions in the pattern to join your binding pieces. Here are some tips:

  1. Use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance to keep your measurements true or else you may find that they don’t line up with your X.
  2. Press your seams open. This will prevent extra bulk at each of the joins.
  3. Use a shorter stitch length, like 1.2 or 1.5. This will hide any visible stitching as the binding gets tugged on.
Seams pressed to the side (top) will give you a very bulky bump at the join. When using pieced binding, press your seams open.

You will have two identical strips of pieced binding. After they are pieced, fold and press them in half along the length of it:

Lining up

There are only two places where we need to line up each binding strip with the quilt: In-between the arms of the X. Mark a 1/4″ from the edge of your quilt top.

Align your binding with the quilt, raw edges together; estimate where it should lie. Fold back the binding and check to see if the edges align at the 1/4″ mark. If not, fiddle until it does, then pin in place. Repeat with other point.

Folding back to check if it aligns.

At first, sew only across those points and check to see if you are satisfied with your work. If not, you’ll only have to “unsew” a small section and redo it.

When you’ve got it right enough, sew in either direction and turn the corner as you would normally. One side you will have to do with the quilt back facing up, but you can find out how to do that here! Leave a generous tail for you to join the binding later. Repeat with the other binding strip.

It should look something like this! Join your tails as you would normally. And now sit down the couch, put on a show or a podcast and stitch that binding down on the back.

X Sew-Along: Week 4, Trimming & Quilting

You’ve got a quilt top now it’s time for the next step: Trimming it and quilting it. Here are some tips on trimming accurately, quilting designs and thread selection.

Trimming

Finding the centre line. Fold your quilt top in half and press. This crease line will be your guide in figuring out where to trim. You will measure upward from the vertex of the X, where all four fabrics meet. This line falls parallel to the crease line. Make sure you are using the right measurement for your baby or lap size quilt. Mark it.

Measure up from the vertex (lower left corner of photo above) and parallel to your crease line.

Draw a perpendicular line at the measured marking. A way to double-check that your line is straight is to see if it is also perpendicular to both side border seams. If you’ve done it right, it should be!

Is your drawn line also perpendicular to your side border seam?

Once you’ve drawn your line, measure from the vertex to the line again, just to be sure. Then you can cut. (Keep your scraps for improv week!) Repeat with the other side of the quilt top.

We’re back to bias edges!

Now that you’ve cut it, handle the quilt top as little as possible. You’ve just cut some bias edges. 

Baste using your preferred method.

Quilting Plan

In February at QuiltCon, I took a class from the queen of minimalist quilts, Season Evans on how to quilt minimalist quilts. She gave us some tracing paper to get some quilting designs overlaid on our quilt designs (print-outs that we brought to class). You can do this on an iPad or smart phone over a photo of your quilt top, using the “Mark-up” tool. There are two main options for you to choose from: an all-over design or a complementary design.

All-over designs: These straight lines are perfect if just want to get it quilted and done!

Pieced, quilted and bound by Anja Clyke. Photo by Emma Poliquin.

These scallops are an all-over design but harder to execute on a domestic machine.

Complementary designs can:

  • Highlight the X
  • Downplays the negative space OR highlight it
  • Complements the X
  • Add a completely different element to the design

This sketch adds new design elements – Xs – to the quilt in the negative space. The horizontals help to emphasize the typographic nature of the design. Remember when you were learning to print, you had a top line and baseline to guide the size of your letter? That’s what I’m getting at. It will also emphasize the serifed binding.

I think mine will look something like this, but it needs some more thought still.

Thread Selection

What do you have on hand? I am in love with Aurifil 50 wt 2215 which I used to piece the quilt together (bottom spool). It look great across all the colours of the quilt top.

The rust colour (Aurifil 2155) brings in a different colour from the backing fabric. The Gutterman up top will disappear nicely into the background fabric. I think I might bring in some hand quilting as well. I haven’t decided yet!

I’d love to see your sketches, quilt plan, thread choices and your process! Post them on Instagram with #everyonesgotanX or in our Facebook group. Here’s some more inspiration:

Dot-to-dot quilting using a free-motion ruler foot.
Hand-quilting details mixed in. Photo by Emma Poliquin.
Echoing the X shape with straight lines. Photo by Emma Poliquin.

Tutorial: What is a Scant 1/4″?

What is a scant 1/4″ seam allowance? Why do I need it? How do I get it? This post will answer all your questions about this quilting term!

What is it?

A scant 1/4″ seam allowance is a seam allowance that is ever so slightly narrower than one 1/4″ inch. You can notice here that where the seam folds in, the top of the assembly dips a little. A few of the fibres of the fabric that get swallowed up in that dip.  A scant 1/4″ compensates for the loss of some fabric in the folds of a seam, so that the dimensions of your block remain true.

A teensy bit of fabric gets lost in the seam.

Why should I care?

Striped Scallops blocks

See this block here? It’s from my newest pattern, Striped Scallops. There are eleven vertical seams in this 12 1/2″ (unfinished) block — ELEVEN! If you use a “true quarter inch” seam, you lose a little bit in each seam and by the end of it all, it’s noticeably smaller than that bottom rectangle, which has been accurately cut at 12 1/2″. See the teal block below.

I used my 1/4″ foot for a “true” 1/4″ seam and it ate up almost 1/2″ over the width of the block!

In my experience, ignoring a scant 1/4″ is most noticeable and puzzling when a pattern has seams meeting a perpendicular (such as Banner Year and even a traditional log cabin). Multiple seams meeting at a single perpendicular, like in this Striped Scallops, exacerbate the issue. The tiny bites those seams take out your fabric start to add up!

How do I get it?

It’s a matter of testing! Cut six 2 1/2″ squares. It’s best to use contrasting fabrics and alternate them. Don’t follow my example of this six-squared gradient. Although it’s pretty, it’s harder to see what you’re looking for!

Sew the squares together into a row, using a reference that you think is a good 1/4″ seam allowance. This might be a tape line on your sewing machine, a 1/4″ foot, the edge of your normal foot. Press all the seams to one side or press them all open — whichever is your general preference. Get your ruler out and see what you’ve got.

The six squares above should theoretically add up to a row that measures 12 1/2″, right? It is actually only 12 1/8″! Yikes. If you look at the 8 1/2″ mark and follow the squares going to the left, you can see that each is a bit smaller than 2″. This means that the seam allowance is too big and I need to make it narrower.

My seam guide with my scant 1/4″ reference.

Adjust your reference – move your tape line, change your sewing machine foot, or adjust your seam guide. I use a Janome Seam Guide (affiliate link) on my Juki. Repeat the exercise with new squares till you get accurate 2″ widths and the right overall length.

This one is five squares; each colour is 2″ and the overall length actually measures 10 1/2″. This is it! We’ve found it!

Keep a reference

I “recorded” this accurate scant 1/4″ on a postcard so that I can set up my seam guide in a jiffy. Once I found the scant 1/4″, I sewed a line on a postcard and labelled it. I keep it next to my sewing machine so if I have to set up my scant 1/4″ with my seam guide, it’s easy to find.

Using tape as a seam guide.

Some considerations

Pressing seams open vs. pressing seams to one side: This here is not a debate of which is better – open or to one side. Rather, I am telling you if you prefer pressing your seams to one side, make your scant test that way. If you are a press-open type, do your test with your seams open. Each method will yield different results because there is a differing amount of fabric folded under at the seam. No use testing in conditions that are not true to reality!

Spoonflower’s New Petal Signature Cotton, in my own fabric design – Nebulous in Navy.

Different substrates: Different fabric manufacturers and different weights of fabric will have a different scant 1/4″ because of the amount of bulk at the seam. I usually use one manufacturer for a whole quilt and mostly in quilting cotton, so one test for that manufacturer usually suffices. If you like mixing manufacturers (and you should, it’s fun!), it gets a bit dicier. However, unless you are working with vastly different substrates — like cotton lawn and quilting cotton — you should be fine. Art Gallery has a noticeably different “hand” (different tactile feel to the fabric) because of its thread count so this may warrant some experimentation if you’re mixing it in. A linen/cotton blend is also noticeably heavier and will need another test.

This fabric is Spoonflower’s New Petal Signature Cotton. It felt a bit heavier than the quilting cottons I was used to using so I thought I should test it out with 5 x 2 1/2″ squares. And my hunch was right… I needed a narrower 1/4″ to get it to be accurate. This test doesn’t take too long, so if you’re in doubt, do a test with your chosen fabrics before you start a project. Especially if the project at hand is a higher-stakes one — high time or fabric investment!

There you have it. A scant 1/4″ seam allowance. It’ll help you with your accuracy!