Friday, October 30, 2015

Print your label by home inkjet printer.

I usually print my own label using my Epson inkjet printer. I used to print them on light-weight white polyester-cotton blend fabric that I found here. The result was fine. If only it can hold more ink and was 100% cotton.

Last year I bought  5 yards of American made-PFD cotton fabric from eQuilter for wholecloth painting experiment. At first I thought that it was the same as Kona cotton but it wasn't , this fabric was thinner and stiffer than Kona. So I just left it in storage box. (Almost forgot about it.) Until yesterday I printed my new sized labels. I made them slightly bigger so I can use with bias maker. At first I printed them on white Kona , I ironed fabric to freezer paper and fed to printer. The result was terrible. The fabric was too soft. Then they curled and separated while printing. OK, Not every printer love Kona cotton. I had to clean printer head twice. If I have to print some thing on Kona I will order from Spoonflower. The next, I used American made-PFD with label sticker on the back. (Label sticker is the printable sticker that use for print product label). They were better than I expected. They looked great and the most important point was my printer still perfect fine.

After heat fixed and washing test, they slightly faded. Normally computer- printed fabric may fade after wash as the inks did not penetrate to the back. They just smear on top so they may scrub off while washing. As my craft may not wash often so this way were fine.

Actually I planed to print my labels on Spoonflower, those labels were my print testing swatch. With beyond expectation result, at this time I had 110 labels in hand for small purses and crafts. Anyway I may order quilt labels from Spoonflower when I finish my miniature quilt top. I was not decided that I should print the whole backing or small labels. 
Even though I found perfect combination for fabric printing with my printer (Epson ME 340, genuine Epson Ink), I will not print them often as the risk of printer's head broken is so high.

I just share my experience, If you would like to try this way, take your own risk. I am not responsible to your broken printer.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hexagon patchwork : English Paper Piecing

My goal for this year is making a miniature quilt. I found that English Paper Piecing is the recommended way for small geometric shape/tessellation quilts. I started with hexagon patchwork. At first I thought it was time consuming method as we had to work twice (I mean basting and piecing steps) and why the stitches are shown. I had tested and tried in different ways, tools and materials. The tips and technique that I share below was what I found and the way I work.

I: Materials and Tools

Paper Template - My favorite paper is 170 gsm cardstock. I had tried typical printing papers, cardboard and expensive plastic templates and don't like them all. I also printed and cut all paper templates myself.

Needle - I prefer short and small needle like #12 quilting needle.

Thread - I always leave the basting thread in my quilt so white threads/batting colored threads are my choice. I use both polyester and cotton leftover threads for basting. For piecing, I use coordinated color 50 wt cotton threads. At this time, 50 wt Aurifil is the best.
Fabric - Tight weave fabrics as quilting cotton, lightweight cotton are the best. I tried to use lightweight linen and the result is really bad. If I have to use them again, machine piecing and lightweight woven interfacing may help. Precut fabrics are awesome for hexies.

Plastic template - The most fun part of patchwork is Fussy cutting/Crop cutting. I make cutting templates from clear PVC sheet. I usually use square shape. If the prints are close or small hexies( 3/8inch or smaller), I will use the circle. Hexagon with 1/4 or 3/8 seam allowances is my last choice because it is the hardest way.

II : Basting

Just like the traditional way, I place the paper template to the wrong side of the fabric square. Fold the seam allowances over the template and baste.

I use paper clips, small binder clips and plastic binder clips for secure fabric and template while basting. I use a small back stitch to secure the two edge at each corner. If the edges are longer than 1 1/4", I will sew a few running stitches in seam allowances. The stitches will not go through paper template.

III : Piecing

 I use small, short whip stitches. I had tried ladder stitches and I got the weak and crooked seams. My favorite way is whip stitch while holding the folded edges together, not right side together like traditional way. With this way, the needle will catch only the back fabric and the stitches are almost invisible.
I found that plastic binder clips are useful when work with small size hexies. In this photo, they are 3/8 inch hexagons.

 For a hexagon flower/Grandmother flower, I assemble the petals (6 outer hexagon) and then join this c-shaped unit to the center hexagon.

For larger scale hexagon patchwork, I join them by row and then sew each rows together.

IV : Removing the template.
I just use my hands to remove the template. Use left hand to open the seam allowances, then grab the flat edge of template with right hand and pull it off. For 1/2" hexagons and smaller sizes, I use tweezers.

Happy sewing.