Fabric Christmas Cards: A Holiday How-To!

Fabric Christmas Cards: A Holiday How-To!

A Free Craft Project By Liz Kettle

snowflake postcard

I love sending fabric postcards to friends and family but I have gotten out of the habit in the last year as I spend more time communicating virtually. A friend posted a challenge on her blog to send out some actual physical mail and I thought I would take up that challenge and challenge all of you to consider it as well. We all love getting real mail!

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Snow season is just getting started in earnest here in Colorado so I thought some snowflake postcards would be perfect. These snowflakes are created by combining and manipulating the decorative stitches on your machine. Even if you don’t have a lot of fancy stitches I know you will find a couple that can be combined to make a pretty snowflake.

stitch outs

Look at your programmed decorative stitches for patterns that are geometric in form; triangles, diamonds, circles, points. Consider creating a program stitch dictionary as in the photo above that shows what all those stitches you have actually look like…you will be so glad you did this! How do these stitches change when you alter the length or width? What pattern do they create when stitched back to back in mirror image? It can take a bit of play and experimentation to find ones that work well together so be sure to make some notes about the ones you like and the adjustments you make for future reference.

These snowflakes look great on winter and holiday themed quilts as well as make great postcards. Have fun playing with your different stitches!

snowflake supplies

Supplies:
Rotary cutter, ruler and mat
Embroidery scissor with double curve
Light and dark blue fabric
Firm stabilizer (I used Pellon Peltex #72-fusible on both sides)
Threads: White rayon, silver or white metallic or hologram and a lightweight polyester bobbin thread.
Embroidery or metallic machine needle 90/14
Chalk or marking pencil in white
Ruler with a 60degree line
Ribbon for text

In nature snowflakes are created around six fold symmetry. A ruler with a 60degree line makes creating a snowflake guide easy. The 2” length described here is the length I used for the Vintage German Snowflake. To create smaller or larger flakes simply draw a shorter or longer line. Sorry about the dye on my hands in the photos…just having too much fun around here!

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1. Use a ruler to draw a line 2 inches long. Place a small dot in the center.

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2. Place the 60degree line on your ruler on the drawn line with the edge of the ruler at the center dot. Draw a line approximately 2” long

snowflake 60d 3

3. Move the 60degree line on the ruler to the new line. Place it at the intersection of the two previous lines. Draw a line approximately 2” long.

Making the snowflake postcard:

1. Use the rotary cutter, mat and ruler to cut your fabrics and stabilizer 4”x6”. The 60mm rotary cutter makes cutting through heavy stabilizers a dream!
2. Fuse the dark blue fabric to one side of the stabilizer. If you don’t have Peltex 72, use a fusible web such as Misty Fuse to adhere the fabric to the stabilizer.
3. Pick one of the snowflake designs I have given you below or experiment with your stitches to come up with new patterns. Determine the best method of stitching your chosen design. Does it look better stitched from the outside to the center, from the center out, or can it be stitched across the length of the snowflake.
4. Use a marking pencil to mark the 60degree lines on the dark blue fabric as shown above.

5. Stitch the snowflakes on the dark blue fabric and stabilizer using the directions below.

snowflake postcard text

6. For the text, I printed on ribbon using my inkjet printer. This technique is in both of my books and I have a tutorial on my web site in the group forum section. Alternative methods would be to use rubber stamps or a fabric marker to write by hand. Use fusible web to secure the ribbon and stitch around the edge as desired.

snowflake postcard fuse back

7. Fuse the light blue fabric to the back of the postcard.

snowflake postcard edge

8. Stitch around the perimeter of the postcard. I used a zigzag stitch in silver metallic thread. I like to stitch around the perimeter twice for a full but not quite satin stitch. Straight and decorative stitches are great options as well.
9. Use a Sharpie or fabric marker to write your message and address your card. I apply a 1st class stamp rather than a postcard stamp and send it on its way.

VINTAGE GERMAN SNOWFLAKE

I used a silver metallic thread to give a vintage mercury glass feel to this snowflake. The stitches for this snowflake are two that are on my 22 year old machine that only has a total of 12 stitches. Havel’s 5” double curved scissors are the perfect tool for clipping threads during machine embroidery. They get super close to the fabric to give you a clean cut but the curve prevents that horrid moment when you realize you just cut your fabric. The double curve is great when you are using an embroidery hoop and the finger holes are the perfect size. You are going to love these scissors!!

snowflake vintage first

You can see how closely the curved embroidery scissors trim the thread. No whispy fray bits of thread in sight!

You can see how closely the curved embroidery scissors trim the thread. No whispy fray bits of thread in sight!

1. An eyelet stitch was stitched to provide an open center. If you don’t have an eyelet stitch, simply draw a small circle and begin your stitching at the edge of the circle.

snowflake vintage german 1

2. Next an oval satin stitch at a slightly reduced width was stitched from the edge of the eyelet stitch out for two repeats.

snowflake vintage german 2

3. A flower chain stitch was inserted between each of the previous stitch lines to create this vintage look snowflake.

FEATHER SNOWFLAKE

This delicate snowflake uses a programmed feather stitch that looks best stitched from the outside into the center. I drew my lines 1 1/5” long.

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Begin the stitch at the outer edge of the circle then stitch towards the center. Stitch on all 6 radiating lines.

 

POINSETTIA SNOWFLAKE
To create this snowflake the stitch is made by slightly lengthening the stitch length on a satin stitch triangle stitch. My length setting was .80

snowflake poinsettia 1

1. Stitch the design in one direction for one repeat, pivot 180degrees and stitch back to the center.

snowflake poinsettia 2

2. Pivot again and repeat along each snowflake guide line.

snowflake poinsettia circle

3. Finally, one repeat of a circle satin stitch and a couple straight stitches are added to the tip of each point.

I have a dear friend who is leaving her frigid climate for the warm breezes of Florida next week…I will be sending her one of these so she doesn’t forget the pleasure of snow! She will be jealous of all our snow don’t you think?

Liz Kettle is a mixed media and textile artist living in snowy Colorado. She is co-author of 2 books, Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond and Threads: The Basics and Beyond. Liz loves teaching and sharing the joy of making stuff in her articles, classes and at her fabulous retreat, Textile Evolution. Visit her blog and website, www.TextileEvolution.com

 

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Spare Change for the Better

“Spare Change for the Better” Quilt
by Terry White copyright 2016

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“Spare Change for the Better” Quilt “60×75”

My quilt, “Spare Change for the Better” began with a clean up day in my Stitch Studio. Once in a while, I need to clean up my Stitch Studio. Recently, I had worked on several projects, one after another, with no clean up time in between. So, there was no “going forward” on the next project until this room was straightened out!

I had been thread painting and making small embellished quilts, fabric books and purses, so there were lots of little stacks of things and random baskets of scraps all over the place that needed to be dealt with. As I began to order and bag the scraps, I began to gather some autumn shades together and got the idea for a scrap quilt. I went on a tangent! I started to think about this fabric as spare change…the kind of money that you put into a big glass jar until you have enough to really do something with it. Well, there was enough of it to make an interesting quilt.

It was time for a little change in the Stitch Studio. I had been doing tiny intricate things and, now, I wanted to stitch straight lines and make something big and simple. It was a change of season and I needed a change!

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I began with a simple log cabin structure. I made a stack of four sided pieces. I then stitched strips of all sizes and angles to each one. I considered each block as I chose the fabric strips because I wanted to make each block good looking. I like to press and trim at each step. I think this makes stitching easier and it keeps things nice and neat.

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As I was stitching along, I decided that I would cut into the log cabin blocks and insert a black cross. This suggested crossroads to me….a choosing place, a place to change. It also made each block more interesting and added a continuity to the blocks.

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I cut black strips 1 1/2 inch wide, 1 1/4 inch wide and 1 inch wide. I stitched the 1 1/2 inch wide strips into the largest blocks, the 1 1/4 inch wide strips into the medium blocks and the 1 inch wide strips into the smallest blocks. I found that working with Havel’s Fabric Cutter made my work go very smoothly…and fun…so, guess what?…I ended up making a lot more blocks!….this quilt was growing!

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I very simply cut a block in two pieces and stitched a black strip in between the pieces. When adding the black strips, press the seam allowance toward the black strips. This makes the black strip stand out like a column. It gives the whole quilt a nice continuity.

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I like to offset the crosses, you know, make them “wonky”. I think this adds to the liveliness of the work.

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When I began to finish some of the blocks, I put them up on my design wall.

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I liked how things were going…..I didn’t want to change my layout. So, of course, I had to come up with an idea to join the blocks together. This is not my first time around the block (Oh, wow, that is a decent pun), so I wanted to choose a color of fabric that could be used to join things….a “bridge”. The fabric would have to add to the quilt, not detract; it should add some brightness; it should also recede into the background. My choice was a deep blue with black in it with thundercloud imagery.

I really liked this addition. Using just the one fabric in the background would help to maintain the design. This blue fabric was something that I received in a big batch of fabrics….someone else’s scraps. Here, you can see, I placed some pieces of the blue between the blocks to try it out.

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After making more blocks and looking at it on the wall…it needed a “background”. I began to look at another group of scraps.

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This lighter group of fabrics evoke the light, sky, arial debris and browning grasses which I see in the early fall. I continued to use the same block for the light fabrics…starting with a log cabin structure and then adding the cross. The solid cotton I used for the crosses in the light blocks is a shade of gold. I chose a cream and grey textured print (leftovers from a quilt backing) for the “bridge” pieces for the light blocks.

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Then this scrap quilt decided to take over…..it got big!

13 Spare Change TW

Keb’ Mo’s song,”Time for a Change” kept playing in my mind, so I put his music on in my studio. I like to listen to my music when I’m working in the Studio….it helps me to focus on my work….I feel immersed in the moment. To stitch the quilt blocks together, I separated the quilt into sections. To identify the first section to stitch together, I took a photo of the quilt, then cropped it and chose a section with which to work.

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The next three photos show my sequence of stitching and trimming and stitching. I stitched strips of blue or cream fabrics to each block so that they would fit together into a stitched set.

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Then, I stitched the 3 block sets together.

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I would like to note here that it is really helpful to use a walking foot on your sewing machine or a differential feed foot as pictured here. This type of sewing aid helps to keep the fabrics together while stitching and prevents puckering.

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Then I stitched each section together, then stitched the large sections together…..all the time using the “bridge” strips to achieve sort of square sections that will fit together.

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After stitching the quilt top together, I wasn’t happy with it. It needed something. So, first, I turned it on its side……much better. It still needed something more. So, I took a picture of it, put it into a drawing program on my computer, then added these lines.

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terry-white-headshot-2014Terry White is a studio fiber artist. She has been doing this work since 1996, and she discovered the techniques she uses: threadpaint, machine appliqué, piece, quilt, embellish with beads, fibers and minutiae with sewing machine techniques, through experimentation and self-study. Terry teaches these techniques through classes and videos. Over the years Terry has been published in over 50 articles in magazines and books, including: McCall’s Needlework; Quilter’s Newsletter; Machine Embroidery and Textile Arts; CMA trade magazine; Stitch n Sew Quilts; Quick n Easy Quilts; Quilt World magazine and Calendar; Quilting Arts Calendar 2003; America from the Heart; America’s Best; America Sews. She is a wife, stitcher, artist, sister, mother, friend, nana, gardener, baker, writer, student, teacher and American. See more of Terry’s work at www.threadpaint.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Creating with Havel’s Sewing Pinking Shears

In thinking about a few of my favorite things in the studio, there is one tool that some might considered old fashioned, and wonder what to do with it in making quilts. It is one of my favorite things, because it can add so much to an object, a quilt and even the binding as a design element.

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Here is my line up of favorite tools from Havel’s Sewing. Second from the left are the pinking shears. Great handles and easy to use.

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You might be wondering what this is. The green is the landscape for a pictorial quilt and perhaps a house might go on that mound of green. The tops of those hills have been cut with pinking shears. Isn’t it a cool look?

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These are half square triangles – raw edge applique and the fabrics have Mistyfuse on the back. I love the triangles on all of the edges. It invites a viewer in to see more, and how that effect was made.

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Close up of the half square triangles

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Hexagons are all the rage right now in quilting. Aren’t these fun? Raw edge applique, and each side was cut with pinking shears.

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This is one of my most favorite ways to use the pinking shears. Stems and flowers. Love the wonkiness of the stems, but then the flowers are very whimsical with where they are cut. This adds a playful element to your quilts.

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The start of a small house quilt. You can see the landscaping has been cut in triangles, adding some dimension to the small hills. The sides of the house, door, window and roof have also been cut. The sky is the limit to what you can do. The door is half and half. I like the unevenness of it all.

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The new ticket to binding and making a really fun edge. The fabric has been pre-fused with Mistyfuse, and it just folds over to the back. I love this.

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Closer look.

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Happy cutting it up!
— Jamie Fingal

 

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Free Quilt Pattern – A Whimsical Pumpkin Centerpiece

Free Quilt Pattern: A Whimsical Pumpkin Centerpiece

By Terry White ©2012

This bright modern pumpkin patch centerpiece can stay on your table all season long. It can be also be used as a wall hanging. The design also works well as a quilt pattern. Add a few borders and it will be large enough for a throw….I think plaid in fall colors would be lovely.

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I used linen as the base fabric for this quilt applique project. Linen can be found in the drapery section of your fabric store (sometimes on the bargain tables) and it is usually at least 50 inches wide. Good substitutes for linen are osnaburg and heavy weight muslin or homespun.

Wool felt is so easy to work with; it has so much body, comes in great colors and is easy to cut. You can simply fuse the wool to the linen and be done (as seen in the photo) or stitch it down….which I intend to do when I finish writing this quilt pattern for the Havel’s blog!

When you look at this design, you are looking down at the top of a large pumpkin. The pumpkin leaves and vines are surrounding the central pumpkin with little orange, purple and red pumpkins growing in the corners. This pattern was so much fun to design!

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Materials List

  • Linen square cut 36”
  • Linen or cotton fabric 36” square for backwool-felt-640x584
  • 18” squares of wool felt in the following colors:
  • Gold, deep gold, orange, rose, purple, green
  • Medium weight fusible interfacing 36” square
  • Fusible web for backing 36” square
  • 1 yard fusible web for appliqué pieces
  • 30 weight cotton thread in orange
  • 30 weight cotton thread in linen color
  • 30 weight cotton thread to match wool felt (if you choose to stitch
    the pieces down)

Supplies

Start by preparing the linen or other even weave fabric. Cut it to 36” square. To do that, make a little cut at the 36” mark and pull threads. Cut along the line that the pulled threads make. When cut, pull a few more threads so that you have a fringe. Square up the fabric and press with sizing (I use a lot of sizing).

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Next, fuse the iron-on interfacing to the back of the linen.

Fold the linen square in half and finger press a few inches in the center. Fold the square in half the other way and finger press the same way. Mark the intersection with a fabric marker. You will center the pumpkin stem on this mark.

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Trace the pattern pieces onto the fusible web. I like to use a mechanical pencil. Trace all the pieces together that will be cut from the same color wool.

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Iron the fusible web to the wool according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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Carefully cut out the pieces. I like to use Havel’s small curved embroidery scissors because they give me better control. The curved blade helps me to cut lovely curved shapes.

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Here is a tip for using fusible web: Pull away part of the paper backing before cutting out the shape. That way it is very easy to pull the paper away from the appliqué….it gives you a starting point.

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As you cut out the shapes, lay them out on your ironing board or other fabric covered surface. This way, you can see if you like your color choices. Pull away the backing paper before you lay out your appliqués onto the linen. Arrange the shapes according to the photo. You can use a yardstick to help with placement. The central pumpkin is divided into eight equal parts, so you can line up the pieces along the yardstick top to bottom and side to side.

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(Use your colored fabric markers to draw details on the small pumpkins if you are not going to stitch the appliqué down.)

To stitch details on the small pumpkins, turn each upside down and use a long straight stitch following the drawn lines on fusible web paper backing. Stitch each line three times. Use the colored thread in the bobbin. I used Star cotton orange variegated thread. I used the same color for the gold, purple and red pumpkins.

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Trim the threads and pull the paper backing away.

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Gather the threads to the back of the appliqué. When you iron the shape to the linen capture the threads underneath.

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Lay out your pieces onto the linen and fuse. Set your iron to wool. The wool is thick and it takes a while to heat through the wool enough for the fusible to melt. Patience is required at this step. Heat a section at a time and go back over it several times. Once the fusible is melted and the felt is secure….it is really secure.

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Here are the pretty threads I’ve chosen to stitch my appliqués.

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The photo shows an open appliqué foot. I am using a buttonhole or blanket stitch and you can see that I can get right at the edge of the appliqué because I can see it. I lowered the top tension (thread tension) so that the thread can move freely and make a full beautiful stitch. I suggest you test your threads, settings and materials before stitching.

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After all the stitching, the next step is to fuse your backing fabric to the back of the panel.

Make the backing about an inch smaller than your finished panel.

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Fold and press the top of the panel to the back.

When starched linen is folded and pressed like this, it is very stable and doesn’t move around too much. However, if you want, you can use fabric glue or fusible hem tape to glue it in place.

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Stitching from the top, use the linen colored thread and a large blanket or buttonhole stitch to sew along the edge. I use the same thread in the bobbin as the top, and lower the top thread tension for a full stitch. I used a variegated linen color thread.

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Click here to print out the pattern pieces
for the Fall Pumpkin Appliqué Centerpiece.


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Fly a Fall Flag

by Jamie Fingal

Learn how to make three flags, using scrap fabrics, fusing, wool blended felt backing and free motion machine quilting.

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Each flag measures 6″ x 8″ vertical format. I used wool blended felt for the foundation and backing. If you so desire one layer of felt is okay. I prefer the firmness of 2 layers. I would not recommend polyester felt, because noxious fumes will release when ironed or fused to other materials. Choose three background colors, that fit on a 6×8 foundation.

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So, let’s get started. Cut out the felt 6” x 8” using a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat.

Fusing Lesson

A Fusing Lesson
Picture 1: I use Mistyfuse, a fusible web, that doesn’t change the hand of the cloth. It is very easy to sew though on the machine, as well as, hand sewing. I buy it by the bolt. So, I have rolled it out onto the wrong side of the fabric.

Picture 2: Using a pressing sheet (Goddess Fat Sheet by Mistyfuse), I run my dry iron on the cotton setting over the entire area, making sure that the edges are all melted into the fabric. You can lift up an edge of the sheet to see how it is working.

Picture 3: On the left is the fabric without Mistyfuse, and on the right, is the fused fabric. You see it has a sheen to it, so you will know what side has the fusible on it. Trim off the edges that are not fused, and set aside. You will need 3 different pieces of fabric for the backgrounds. Fuse all of your fabrics for this project.

Brainstorming Quilt Project Ideas

Here is a page from my journal/sketchbook on brainstorming ideas for this project.

Auditioning Fabric Options

These are fused fabrics that I am auditioning for this project. This is the way that I normally work when I am making an art quilt. I am looking for colors that compliment each other, good contrasts, texture, and to make sure they are the same value. I am seeing that the blue/black geometric is too strong for this group. The batik with the chevrons is also too strong, but could be used, if cut for an accent.

Fusing the Backing of the Project

This is the background for the FALL flag, and I am fusing it into place on the wool blended felt. All of the flags will use the same method.

Trim the Sides

Turn it over and cut from the back, to trim the sides.

Auditioning More Fabric Options

I am now auditioning fabrics that will work well with this background.

Fusing to Create Fabric Leaves

Making Interesting Leaves: For this I am using 3 fabrics. 2 for the leaf sides and one for the center. I am fusing them together on a Goddess Sheet, but you can use Parchment Paper too. The fabric won’t stick to either, and it is a great way to build objects before fusing them to your actual project.

Cutting Out Fabric Leaves

Fussy cut your leaves out – one by one. You will need three of the same size, and one larger size. I would say that the smaller ones are 2” long and 1- 1-1/2” wide. I used 5 pieces of different fabric for the small leaves, and 3 pieces for the large leaf. The large leaf is about 4” long by 2” wide.

Situating Fabric Leaves on Background

Fuse them onto the background, leaving room for the text in the middle. Note: the fabric that I used for the leaves, is echoed onto the next leaf, sort of like a natural progression into fall.

FALL Using Fabric Pen

Place the lower portion of your flag on the piece of fabric that you have selected for your text. Draw squares onto the fabric with a Pentel Gel Roller for Fabric. The flag will be your guide to making sure that you don’t run out of room. You can write each letter into the square, but out with your scissors and fuse them on the flag, making sure there is some space between each letter. If you don’t trust your own writing, you could print the text out on your computer, and copy it onto your fabric by using the light coming through a window as your light box.

Finished Fall Flag Quilt

The flag is backed with another piece of felt. You can choose not to do this step. This is the way that I make all of my quilts. This piece is ready to be free motion machine quilted.

Auditioning Fabric For Second Fabric Flag

Now on to the next flag – I begin by auditioning the background fabrics for the 3 lanterns.

Fabric Lanterns For Flag 2

The royal blue makes a great background, and the colors that I chose for the lanterns are all complimentary colors, so they POP out. Cut 2 round and 1 rectangle.

Creating the Fabric Lanterns

Add the lantern tops and rope, by using black fabric. You could use another color for these, but I think the black really sets it off.

Finished Lanterns and Beauty Fabric Flag

The text using the same method as the FALL flag. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Use a color that goes with everything else that you have chosen, but is set off by the background. Back the flag with another piece of wool blended felt, or not, and set aside for the sewing machine.

Creating the Third Fabric Flag

Creating the Third Flag – Artist: You only need 3 pieces of fabric. One for the background, the hand, and the text. I used the green for the background and the orange for the hand. Lavender for the text.

Tracing the Third Flag

Trace your hand on a piece of paper, using a black pen. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Tracing the Fabric Hand

Lay it on the piece of fabric that you have chosen for the hand. Pin it into place. I find it easier to pin where the fingers are. Cut it out.

Putting the Fabric onto the Backing

Fuse it into place and cut the excess from the back, like how we did it on the first flag.

Completed Third Fabric Flag

Line up the bottom portion of the flag to make sure that the boxes fit. Draw, cut, and fuse into place.

First Fall Fabric Flag

FALL
Free motion machine quilting. This is a great way to practice this skill. Simply outline the leaves and do as little or as much as you want in the veins of the leaves. Follow the lines of the text boxes. I did not stop and start these separately, but chose a dark line to sew over to the next block. I simply sewed the sides to the felt backing.

Second Fabric Flag Beauty

BEAUTY

Third Fabric Flag Artist

ARTIST

All Three Finished Fabric Flags

The Finished Flags: I have all of my flags hung using a laundry line and clothes pins. You can also sew pop tops on the back of the flags and hang on the wall with a small nail. I hope you have enjoyed this project. Happy FALL!

 

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