I am so excited to be working on another Kimberbell project, the Vintage Boardwalk quilt.
Kimberbell seems to have cornered the market on fast cute easy to stitch adorable quilts and pillows. They have tons of other cute things also, but I really like the quilts (wall hanging size) and the bench pillows.
I have made several of these quilts and bench pillows in the past and have learned a few 'tricks' to help me with achieving a nice finish. I want to share with you one of the most important ones I use in this post.
Warning, this is a very long post, but well worth the read if you are currently or planning on stitching a Kimberbell quilt or bench pillow.
Kimberbell designs have a tendency to use a lot of satin stitch finishes on their applique pieces. This gives them a cute look, but can be a nightmare when it comes to the fabric puckering if the correct stabilizers are not used. These stabilizers can give your quilt a 'bulky' look if they are not removed after the applique design is finished. The instructions give you several different kinds of stabilizer to use depending on the individual design. Kimberbell seems to be starting to understand some of the problems the designs are having and have now started suggesting that a fusible woven interfacing be ironed on the back of each 'background' piece of fabric. Plus, you still need to use tear away and cut away stabilizers.
I find all of this confusing and I know it can be very disappointing if even after all of the correct steps are followed you still have a puckered block. Ironing on the fusible woven interfacing helps, but I don't really want to have to iron stuff on the back of every single block.
I decided to find an alternative way to make these cute projects without all of the stabilizer issues and problems. I am lucky enough to have a friend, Chantell of https://www.chantells-creations.com/ who digitizes and her 'specialty' is quilt blocks. I asked her if she would help me out and make a variety of quilting backgrounds in several sizes. Lucky for me, she agreed. I am hoping that she will have them up for sale on her website today or tomorrow, but if she doesn't, you can contact her directly and I know she will help you get them. The beauty of using these specially created blocks is that once you trim them out they will be the exact size you need for the quilt. Chantell has now finished the quilting backgrounds that will work for this quilt, you can find them here: https://www.chantells-creations.com/quilts8000/q8021.htm
I do need to point out now that this particular method shouldn't be tried if you are just a beginner, new to your machine, or only have a machine that the biggest hoop is a 5x7. For this particular quilt you will need a 6x10, 8x8, and 9.5 x14 hoop. I have stitched all of these designs out on my Babylock Destiny machine.
Here is a sample of how one of my blocks look. See? No puckering. One other thing that does need to be mentioned is the use of the fusible woven interfacing on the back of certain fabrics to help with fabric 'bleed through'. In this example I did iron it on the back of the yellow fabric because I could see the dark blue fabric through it.
Interested? It is very easy and the only stabilizer you need is No Show Mesh. Chantell's background design goes as follows: Hoop the stabilizer and stitch out the block outline. This line is important because after you are finished stitching the block, you turn your block to the back and trim it from this line (which gives you a 1/4 inch seam allowance. You could use a darker color of thread if it helps you see it better.
Next you add the batting and after it stitches down, you trim it. This keeps any batting from being in your 1/4 seam which keeps down the 'bulk' in your quilt.
Once that is done, you place your background fabric down covering the block outline, and stitch out the quilting portion of the design.
Then you stitch out your applique design. Super easy once you have done it once or twice. There are many advantages to using this method. First and most important, no puckering. The batting makes for a great stabilizer so no need for any additional stabilizers besides the No Show Mesh. Second, once you sew all of your blocks together, quilting in the ditch is really all you need to do since all of your quilting is complete (I do add another piece of batting to the back of the whole quilt). Third, if your block has some special addition, like a bow or drawstring, you can add it now while it is just a 'block' instead of a waiting until it is a whole quilt. Because I do add another piece of batting to the whole back, any of the designs that wanted you to cut a hole, etc. will still work because the additional back batting covers it. Your pattern instructions will tell you to wait until the quilt is complete to add the detail items, because they expect you to quilt the whole project after it is put together. Sewing little buttons on is a lot easier at this stage than it is trying to 'wrestle' a whole quilt.
You will need to use a bigger hoop on these blocks than what is called for in the Kimberbell instructions. For example the above design needs to be finished at 4.5 x 8.5 which means I had to use my 6x10 hoop so the design would fit in the hoop.
I combine the two designs in my software, but you can also do that on your embroidery machine. I just find it easier to combine the blocks before I load them to my flash drive. By combining them first you can make sure the applique is centered in the middle of the hoop, or if it is one of the designs like the Food Stand or the Bike that needs to be a 1/4 up from the bottom edge of the fabric, you can place it correctly beforehand.
I hope that you understand what I have explained and are excited to give it a try.
Here are a couple other finished blocks for you to see how they look, and for your enjoyment since this post had a lot of words and not many pictures :-)