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Making fabric with scraps – Go wild!

by Elaine Theriault

Welcome back! Yesterday I gathered my supplies for an embellished journal cover I’m making using the Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2. During the remainder of the week, I’ll explore some of the exclusive stitches, embroidery options, and some of the features and functions that make the DESIGNER EPIC 2 – well, EPIC!

A menu on the screen of a computerized sewing machine; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The Settings Menu on the DESIGNER EPIC 2

Before I can embellish the journal cover, I need to ‘make’ the fabric. I’ll create a collage, and I have to say that this is one of the most freeing exercises you can do. Everything goes – all sizes work, and you pick the colors. This process has several names. It’s sometimes called improv piecing, ‘making’ fabric or creating a collage. Whatever you call it, it’s a great way to let your creativity burst from your head!

Let’s get started, as those embellishments anxiously await to see which will make the cut!

The first step is to determine the size of the collage piece. Take a tape measure and measure the outside edges of the journal from the back cover to the front, and be sure to measure when the journal is closed! Don’t measure it open, as you won’t have enough ease when you close the journal.

Also, measure the height and note the measurements, so you can refer back to them as you assemble the sections.

A yellow tape measure on a black journal

Measure the width of the collage needed.

There are so many ways to make a collage. You can start with a base fabric and add layers on top. You can sew small blocks together in a formal pattern, or go wild and keep piecing bits together until you get the size you need. That last method works for me!

But I decided to add a twist. I made a section of flying geese. I could’ve made those flying geese wonky, but I like some order to my chaos, and I used the Laser Guidance System instead of drawing lines.

A red laser on an orange fabric under the presser foot of a sewing machine; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

Using the Laser Guidance System to stitch diagonal lines

I’ve become so used to this feature that, well, I confess I’ll take my DESIGNER EPIC 2 to a sewing retreat to avoid drawing lines to make flying geese or half-square triangles. Yes, I know, I’m completely crazy, but it saves so much time.

It’s easy to engage using the button on the function panel. It’s the button on the right-hand side that looks like a wand! You bet this is magic, and I LOVE magic!

Six orange buttons on a white sewing machine; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The left side of the function panel

Even better, when the Laser Guidance system is engaged, a menu pops up on the lower right-hand of the capacitive touch screen. I can change the brightness of the laser, which is handy as I may have to increase or decrease the brightness depending on the fabric I’m using. Plus, I can move the laser beam 30mm to the left or right of the center needle position. It’s super easy to use, and you bet I use it whenever possible!

The touch screen on a computerized sewing machine; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The pop-up menu for the Laser Guidance system

Another reason I love piecing on my DESIGNER EPIC 2 is the IDF (Integrated Dual Feed), or what some people call the built-in walking foot. This function can easily be engaged or disengaged, depending on my stitch.

The integrated dual feed foot on a sewing machine; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The Integrated Dual Feed foot

And if I forget to engage it, I’ll get a pop-up message telling me to use it! Not only does the DESIGNER EPIC 2 have the tools, but it reminds you to use them when appropriate.

A pop-up message on a computerized sewing machine; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

A pop-up message to engage the Integrated Dual Feed system

To use the IDF, you must use one of the feet with a unique cut-out in the back to allow the IDF to reach the fabric. The stitches will not look right if you’re not using the correct foot. Don’t worry – you’ll get a pop-up message if it isn’t correct!

Two metal presser feet for a sewing machine on a blue background

A presser foot (left) with the cut-out for the IDF and no cut-out on the other foot

And why is this feature so important? A set of feed teeth on the bottom of the IDF will engage with the main feed teeth in the stitch plate area. The extra feed teeth allow both layers of fabric to move smoothly and evenly under the presser foot and provide a smoother seam with no stretching of the top fabric. So with all piecing and especially long pieces as in borders, the seams are smoother, and I use this feature whenever possible.

A black lever with small teeth on the bottom; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The Integrated Dual Feed

See how the IDF walks as you sew? I love it! And check out how the presser foot pops up slightly at the end, allowing easy access to start sewing the next seam, which is a brilliant feature for chain piecing!

Another feature I love and is becoming more important as my eyesight ages is the automatic needle threader. Pulling the thread through the thread path, inserting it into the automatic threader, and hitting the Thread button on the function panel is easy!

And just like that, the needle is threaded. This feature becomes even more important if you’re doing machine embroidery, where you’re often changing threads.

OK – so let’s start piecing. I made a series of flying geese, which I didn’t take a photo of, but those got sewn together in a formal style. Now I’ll do some improv piecing. And it’s so easy and so much fun.

I grab two fabric pieces that are more or less the same size, at least on one side. If there’s a weird edge on one side, I trim it away. Then it’s easy to sew these two pieces together.

Two pieces of orange fabric on a green cutting mat

Trimming a shape to sew to the next piece

If you’re the person who cuts all your scraps into the same size, this exercise might be easier, but it’s not nearly as much fun! And I love how the fabrics match my sewing machine!

Two pieces of orange fabric beside an orange sewing machine; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

Sewing another seam using scraps and improv piecing

Then as you join several pieces, they become almost the same length, so those can now be pieced. I do NOT measure anything with a ruler, which makes this a freeing exercise where size matters, but you can ‘fudge’ anything.

Two groups of orange fabric on a white background; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

Joining two sections together

Add any shape to any shape, and if it’s too wonky, trim a wee bit off and sew. I should also say that no piece is too small. How small you want to work is your choice, but I love working with small scraps.

Two pieces of orange fabric on a green cutting mat; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

Joining two small scraps

Although one must remember that we’ll be adding some embellishments to the journal cover, so we may want to add some larger pieces, you can also embellish over the seams. It’s your piece of art! Don’t be afraid to add a few colors that stretch the color family and look for different patterns on the fabric. I’m mainly using monochromatic prints these days, I have for years, so while the tones and shades are different, they mostly read as from the same color family.

Scraps of orange fabric sewn together and sitting on a green cutting mat; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

Use a variety of colors for the collage.

You can keep going until you create one large piece or make smaller blocks and join them. I seem to be of the mindset to make the smaller blocks and join them, as I prefer that style. But trim and add until it’s the size you want.

An Omnigrid quilter's ruler on a square of orange fabric on a green cutting mat; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

Trimming a small unit for the collage

Keep assembling smaller blocks or one large block and lay it out occasionally for inspiration. Notice my flying geese; I’ve added some larger pieces of fabric for when I add embellishments.

Pieces of orange fabric sewn together on a green cutting mat; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The ‘made’ fabric is almost large enough.

As I laid the three sections out, I saw I was a bit short in the top right-hand corner.

Pieces of orange fabric sewn together on a green cutting mat; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

Almost the correct size

To make the top right-hand section larger and to add some interest, I cut the section in half on the diagonal and added a strip of fabric.

Orange pieces of fabric sewn together; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The collage is complete.

AHA! I also found my piece of fabric for the lining of the journal cover. I’ll use a single fabric which will keep the inside simple.

A large piece of orange fabric; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The lining for the journal cover

I have the embellishments, the threads are ready, the collage is together, and I’m ready to start stitching! This next part is the most exciting, and I’ll begin with a couple of embroideries. Remember, you can embellish with anything, and I’ll also use non-machine embroidery embellishments.

A burgundy and white embroidery machine with the embroidery unit attached; Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

The Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2 with embroidery arm

Check back tomorrow to see what I’ve done! I can hardly wait to show you! And I’m doing all this work on the Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2, a fabulous sewing and embroidery machine. In the time I’ve stitched on it, I always found a way to stitch anything I wanted! You have to love that!

Have a super day!!

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: Gathering and sorting supplies to make an embellished journal cover

Go to part 3: Search tools to find machine embroidery designs – So many to choose from!


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