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Tip's & How To's

 

Mckenna Ryan's Helps and How to's
 

Take Time with Your Fabrics
Your art quilt will come to life when you take the time to locate that specific place on the fabric that offers the most color, texture and movement. McKenna "auditions" several pieces of fabric before she selects the perfect spot and color for each appliqué piece. 

Concentrate on Cutting
McKenna is known for her intricate appliqué pieces, but don't let them intimidate you! Remember elements of nature don't grow perfectly, so you don't have to be so exact in cutting directly on the lines. Leave the precision cutting to the small intricate pieces that really matter. 

Mistakes … No Problem!
When fusing your appliqué pieces in place, press lightly so you can pull them apart and re-adjust if needed. Stand back and look at the over-all composition. If you are satisfied with what you see, then go ahead with your final pressing. If you would rather see different positioning possibilities for your appliqués before you fuse them in place, slide a piece of foam core behind your background, and pin on the appliqué pieces. Adjust to your heart's content! 

Free Motion Savvy
The quilting process is layering the quilt top, batting and backing and then quilting on the edge of each appliqué. McKenna suggests that you iron your blocks front and back before and during the quilting process to avoid puckering of the material. Attach a darning foot or a freehand embroidery foot to your machine, lower your feed-dogs and free motion (straight stitch) on the edges of each appliqué. If your sewing machine does not have the option of lowering your feed-dogs, tape a playing card over them. McKenna uses monofilament thread on the top of her machine and a cotton thread in her bobbin. Bring your bobbin thread to the top and knot your thread at the beginning and end of each appliqué piece by pressing your foot control quickly to make a few stitches that are very close together. This eliminates the need of having to pull your bobbin thread to the top each time you move to another appliqué piece. After all of the appliqué pieces are quilted, clip the threads between appliqués. 

On a multiple block quilt, start quilting in the center block first. Your next step will be to stitch in the ditch around that block. Now you are ready to move onto your next block repeating this process. After your entire quilt is quilted, go back and free motion quilt background designs like clouds, water, etc. 

Remember to relax and have fun. Free motion quilting is not as intimidating as it seems! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

"Do your patterns include fabric?"
No, fabrics are not included with the patterns. We occasionally offer kits for sale on our website, so you may find a kit you are looking for (patterns sold separately). To find a quilt shop in your area that carries Hoffman California Fabrics go to: www.hoffmanfabrics.com

"Where can I find the exact fabrics you use in your designs?"
You can download my fabric list for specific quilts on this website. You may follow the fabric list exactly, or choose another high thread count, quality fabric. To find a quilt shop in your area that carries Hoffman California Fabrics go to www.hoffmanfabrics.com. Have fun and don't be afraid to pick your own colors! 

"How important is the fabric I choose?"
Very! You'll find it fun and rewarding to take the time to locate the specific place on your fabric that offers the best color and movement for each appliqué piece. I audition several pieces of fabric before selecting just the right one for the job. I started creating my own fabric lines with Hoffman California Fabrics because I couldn't find exactly what I needed to create the details and textures for fawns, trees, and trout. I also use Hoffman's batiks because of the gorgeous color saturation and one-of-a-kind textures. 

"Should I pre-wash the fabric before starting my quilt?"
No, you don't need to pre-wash the fabric. I've designed the quilts as art-quilts, I suggest that you don't wash them because of the raw edge appliqué method. 

"What type of fusible web do you use?"
I use a light weight fusible web like Lite Steam-A-Seam. 

"What is the difference between Lite Steam-A-Seam and Lite Steam-A-Seam 2?"
Lite Steam-A-Seam, has the pressure sensitive adhesive (the "stick") on one side which allows for a temporary hold to the appliqué material. It shifts easily on the second material allowing you to quickly reposition your appliqué pieces until pressed with an iron for a permanent bond. Once fused the bond is the same as Steam-A-Seam 2. 

Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 has the pressure sensitive on both sides which allows for a temporary hold to both the appliqué material and the background material. You can hold your project vertically and the appliqué pieces stay in place and are still repositionable until fused with an iron. Before fusing, tack your project to a wall or try on a garment to check appliqué placement. You're able to reposition pieces while you're wearing them. Once fused the bond is the same as the original Steam-A-Seam. 

"How do I use the appliqué pressing sheet?"
The appliqué pressing sheet is a semi-transparent Teflon sheet that helps you assemble designs that have several layered pieces. After you have traced the pieces onto the fusible web, ironed them onto the wrong side of the fabric and cut out all the appliqué pieces from the cutting guide (found in the pattern), place the appliqué pressing sheet over the placement guide (also found in the pattern). Now, peel the paper backing off of each appliqué piece and start arranging them right on the sheet, following the placement guide on the pattern below your pressing sheet. After each piece is placed, tap them gently with the iron to fuse the pieces together. The pieces stick to each other, but not to the sheet. When you are finished, just lift off the complete element as one piece and iron it onto your background. It's easy! Instead of moving back and forth between the placement guide and the background, just arrange the whole composition right over the placement guide. You will save lots of time, and get exactly the look you want. 

"How do I create 3-D pieces?"
Three dimensional pieces are actually very simple to create. Using the dragonfly in "Calling Me Home" as an example, fuse the dragonfly together in one piece, then fuse the dragonfly wings to another piece of fabric that is the same color or a complimentary color. Next, cut around the wings so the backing and wings are even, the wings should be double-sided now and the body should still have fusible on the back side. You are now able to fuse the body of the dragonfly to the quilt and the wings will be 3-D. When quilting, simply stitch the body of the dragonfly down and leave the wings free. 

"What is monofilament thread and why should I use it?"
Monofilament thread is a clear thread that I use on the quilt top because it doesn't compete with the design. It simply takes on the color of the fabric beneath it. You won't need to change thread colors with every change of fabric color…a big time saver. I use clear monofilament thread on lighter fabrics and smoke monofilament thread on dark fabrics. 

"What size needle should I use?"
I like to use a quilting needle, size 75/11. When you are quilting on lighter fabric the quilting holes seem big, remember that you are working close to your quilt and if you hang it on the wall and stand back the holes don't seem so big. If the holes do still seem big, you can spray them lightly with water and iron them; this will help close the needle holes. 

"What kind of batting should I use?"
My favorite is Hobbs Heirloom 80/20. It's a lovely, light, cotton-poly blend. 

"Can I hand appliqué these designs?"
Of course! You'll need to adjust for seam allowances, though. 

"What is free motion quilting, and how do I do it?"
Free motion quilting is similar to a straight stitch, except you feed the quilt through your sewing machine and control the size of the stitch length by the speed of the foot control and your hand speed. The slower you go the more control you have! The quilting process is layering the quilt top, batting and backing and then quilting on the edge of each appliqué. I iron my blocks front and back before and during the quilting process to avoid puckering of the material. I use a darning foot or a freehand embroidery foot on my machine, lower my feed-dogs and free motion (straight stitch) on the edges of each appliqué. If your sewing machine does not have the option of lowering the feed-dogs, tape a playing card over them. I use monofilament thread on the top of my machine and a cotton thread in the bobbin. Then I bring the bobbin thread to the top and knot the thread at the beginning and end of each appliqué piece by pressing the foot control quickly to make a few stitches that are very close together. This eliminates the need of having to pull your bobbin thread to the top each time you move to another appliqué piece. After all of the appliqué pieces are quilted, I clip the threads between appliqués. 

On a multiple block quilt, I start quilting in the center block first. Then, I stitch in the ditch around that block. Now I am ready to move onto my next block repeating this process. After the entire quilt is quilted, I go back and free motion quilt background designs like clouds, water, etc. 

This technique allows you to quilt the design at the same time that you are stitching down each appliqué piece. Remember to relax and have fun. Free motion quilting is not as intimidating as it seems! 

"How do I hang my quilt?"
I create a sleeve on the back of my quilts. To make a sleeve, I cut a piece of material about 6 inches wide and about 4 inches short of the width of the quilt. Then, I finish the ends of the sleeve by turning the edge under a ¼" and sewing. Fold the sleeve in half lengthwise and iron. Then simply center it on the back of the quilt and sew the raw edge in with the binding. Hand stitch along the bottom of the sleeve so it lays flat. If you are planning on adding decorative quilting in the border, don't hand stitch the bottom of the sleeve until you finish quilting so you can flip it up out of the way. 

"How do I keep a large quilt from sagging when it is hung?"
Our original quilt hangers fit onto a 3/8" dowel, but for larger quilts, that won't be strong enough. What I've done in my studio is find a 1-1/2" or 2" dowel and cut it to whatever length is needed to fit the quilt. Then drill a 3/8" hole in each end and glue a 3/8" dowel peg into the hole. The quilt hangers fit neatly on the pegs and the larger dowel will support the quilt. It works wonderfully! 

"How do I attach my quilt hangers? How to these attach to the wall?
My quilt hangers fit onto the end of a 3/8" dowel. Simply buy a dowel and cut it to the correct length to fit your quilt. There are pre-drilled holes in the inside of each quilt hanger that make it easy to slide onto the ends of the dowel. The quilt hangers have basic mounts on the back, like on picture frames, which fit over a nail. 

"What is the recommended way to clean these quilts?"
I don't recommend washing these quilts. I designed them as art quilts and the raw, fused edges may fray with repeated washings. You may choose to vacuum them as needed. If you use these quilts in a way requiring washing, I recommend following the instructions on the fusible web package. 

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