Welcome back to the Patchwork Flowers Hoop Along. Do you have your fabric picked out? Do you have it cut? Need a refresher, click here to read Part One and click here to read the update. Today we are going to start stitching/embroidering the blocks. There are three patchwork in-the-hoop blocks that make up the large nine patch blocks in the runner:
Before you start to embroider: Setup your craft iron close to your embroidery sewing machine for easy access. I setup a craft iron with my June Tailor Quilter's Cut 'N Press board beside me for easy access. You generally leave the hoop on your machine while you press the strips, but once in a while you will need to remove the hoop to press one of the pieces of fabric. So it's nice to have the ironing surface handy.
Top Thread: Use cotton thread on top, in a shade that matches or blends-in with the colors of the fabric strips. Generally there is no need to change the thread color, except where the fabric color changes dramatically. The color changes in the patchwork designs are in place to stop the sewing process, to allow you to place the fabric strips into position.
Bobbin Thread: Embroidery bobbin thread is fine in the bobbin. I tried using regular cotton in the bobbin, but found it too heavy and unnecessary.
Top Tension: It’s very important to note that the patchwork is stitched with a balanced tension. In embroidery mode, your embroidery sewing machine automatically lowers the top tension so that the top thread wraps slightly to the back. So, when you want to actually stitch fabric pieces together in embroidery mode, you have to increase your top tension to balance, as it would be for regular sewing. My top thread tension is usually at 2.8 for embroidery, I need to increase it to 4.0 to balance for the patchwork.
You are ready to stitch!
Let's start with the Flower block. Hoop the Fusible No-Show mesh stabilizer, with the fusible side up. I usually leave the stabilizer on the roll; just reel off enough to hoop and for slack during the embroidery process. Use a quilting clip on the end of the stabilizer roll to keep it from unravelling too much, and place it out of the way of the embroidery arm.
Select your design and stitch out the first color. These basting stitches are the placement lines for all the patchwork.
The diagram in your Embroidery Directions shows the order in which all the patches are stitched. We start with the square in the top left corner.
Place the patch #1 fabric into the hoop, with the right side up and centered on the basting lines. This is the only patch that is placed right side up. The remainder of the patches are placed right side down, facing the stitched fabrics. They are stitched in place and then flipped to the right side.
Using your craft iron, press patch #1 to fuse into place. Slip a strip of quilted fabric (a hot pad works) underneath the hoop to protect your sewing machine’s surface when pressing. The craft iron gets very hot; be careful not to touch any plastic parts on your embroidery sewing machine. Oh, you know that metal stand that your craft iron rests on? Don't touch it.
Don’t feel comfortable using a craft iron so close to your embroidery sewing machine? You can use regular "No-Show" mesh stabilizer with a fabric glue stick. You will need to finger press the seam line really well, but other than that there is no difference. It actually works great. You can apply the glue onto the back of the fabric or right onto the stabilizer, just be sure to stay away from the stitching line.
Stitch the next color. This bastes patch #1 into place.
Trim the fabric edges close to the basting. Do not trim the fabric along the outer edges.
Place patch #2 over top of the lower edge of patch #1, with right side down and centered across. Stitch the next color. This stitches patch #2 in place.
Flip patch #2 to the right side and press. Stitch the next color. This bastes patch #2 in place. Trim the fabric edges close to the basting.
You will have noticed that there are no instructions to remove the embroidery hoop in order to apply, press or trim the fabric pieces. First of all there is no need, you can easily complete all the steps with the hoop in place. Additionally, the embroidery goes along much faster when you don't have to snap the hoop on and off your embroidery sewing machine.
If you have extra lift on your presser foot, this comes in handy. I press my extra lift button after each seam is completed. The extra room under the foot allows me to manipulate the fabric pieces more easily.
Follow the Flower Block patchwork diagram in your instructions and the slide show below to complete the first patchwork-in-the-hoop block.
I really enjoy the process of patchwork in the hoop I hope you do as well. Once you get into the rhythm you can get quite a few blocks done very quickly. You'll need a total of 12 Flower Blocks. I usually listen to the radio or watch TV while I am stitching. My TV is strategically placed in my sewing room for best viewing while I am at my embroidery machine.
Triangle in Square Block
Please remember that you need a left and right side of the triangular pattern piece. I almost forgot this. The green fabric that I used for my purple table runner was reversible so it didn't matter. It wasn't until I started stitching the blocks for my hoop along table runner that I remembered. I stitched the wrong side, that's how I remembered of course. And that's what prompted my update post. Anyway, this is a quick and easy block, you'll have all twelve done in not time. The stitching process is the same as for the Flower block.
Square in Square Block
And last but not least, the Square in Square block. This too is a fairly simple block and you only need three of them, one for the center of each larger block.
Once all the blocks are stitched, trim away all the thread tails from the front and back and roughly trim away the stabilizer close to the fabric. Flip the blocks over to the wrong side and press with a dry iron. Do not use steam. Flip the blocks to the right side and press once again.
Carefully trim 1/8” beyond the outside line and press. The blocks measure 5” (6”) (7”) (8”).