Sunday, July 23, 2017

Christmas Elves Quilt Along: Tips and Ideas For Getting Started

The Christmas Elves quilt along begins in earnest next Saturday.

If you're thinking about making the quilt, the following information might be helpful. I've shared some of these ideas on my Facebook page and in various blog posts that I'll refer you to.

Fabrics Used
  • Most of the fabrics are scraps of Christmas fabrics and other bits and pieces that I've collected over several years.
  • The gray background fabric is "Gray Snow" from the Holiday Traditions collection for Henry Glass. I found it at my local quilt shop, and I bought 2 1/2" yards just to be sure I'd have enough. 
  • I got 1 yard of pink and red candy striped fabric. I'm planning to use it for binding and, possibly, for a narrow border, so I may have quite a bit leftover. The fabric is from "Cozy Christmas" by Lori Holt for Riley Blake Designs. This is from last year's collection, so I ordered it online.
Working With Fusible Web Applique

If you are new to using fusible web or if you'd like a quick refresher on the basics, you can visit an earlier page on my blog. It covers most of the tips for using fusible web. Topics include: choosing the right fusible web, cutting out applique pieces, protecting your iron, easy removal of the web's paper backing, and thread choices. Click on this link to go straight to the page.  Tips for Using Fusible Web

This quilt is quite detailed, so I'm strongly recommending that an applique pressing sheet or a piece of non-stick baking parchment be used to make the fusing and assembly easier.
  • You can see through the sheet. If you place the layout plan under the sheet, you can fuse  the appliques right on the layout.
  • It's often easier to fuse smaller sections of the applique together and then add them to other sections to make the whole applique piece.
  • Pieces of applique can be assembled separately and then combined into the whole.

Pieces of Block 1 ready to assemble
    The head was fused together first.

    Assembly line packages
    Stitching the Appliques in Place

    I almost always prefer a machine blanket stitch for stitching the appliques down, and that is what I've used throughout this quilt. I like the finished look on the edge of the applique. The width and length of the stitch may need to be altered - narrower and shorter for small pieces with tight curves, a bit larger for less detailed pieces. Zigzag stitching works well, too, but with either type of stitching, it really helps to practice on sample pieces. The main thing to remember is that you need to pivot often to go around curves or turn corners. Also, the pivot should only be made on the outside edge of the applique and with the needle down. A couple of years ago I created a tutorial for using the blanket stitch. Click here to view it. Machine Blanket Stitch Applique

    Hands and Faces

    Any number of fabric colors from light pink to dark brown can be used for hands and faces. It all depends on the skin tones you prefer to use. I've never been able to find the exact shades that I prefer, so I've learned a trick or two. I start with a peach Kona Cotton and a few tea bags. Hot tea will dye the peach into a much more natural color. Stronger tea or the addition of coffee will make slightly darker tones.  I know that tea and coffee stains can be hard to remove, but I'm not sure how well the colors will hold up when laundered. I don't plan on washing this quilt, though, so I'm not concerned.

    An earlier blog post explains the process in detail.  Click on this link to view it. A Christmas Elf and a Trick or Two

    A bit of colored pencil brightened up the faces. It was like being back in elementary school. Once done, the pencil can be set with a hot iron.

    The pattern for Block 1 and it's sashing pieces will be ready for you next Saturday. I'll include specific information for making that group of blocks in my blog next week.

    Wishing you a lovely July week.


    1. Karen, I love your designs and find your tutorials invaluable! Thank you.