Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A New Project - Day 2

I had a very productive day today - got several small jobs finished, worked on a large one and made some good headway, then worked on my new project for a while this afternoon. I wanted to make 6 1/2 inch fan blocks for the corners. I printed up some paper piecing templates using my Electric Quilt program and cut some strips for the fan blades. I laid the strips out and decided on the arrangement I wanted, and brought my fabric and paper piecing templates to the sewing machine.

I haven't done any paper piecing for a while, so was off to a slow start, but after getting into the upside down and backwards mode I made short work of sewing the fans. I realized that I made two going one way, and two the other, but decided that would work for my design. At least I didn't have one odd ball, with two you can just say that you meant to do it that way! I trimmed them up, then was ready for the next step.

I wanted to add piping to the curved edges of the fan, so tried out my handy piping foot for this - it worked brilliantly! Now the best thing about this technique - you press the seam allowance on the piping under and are ready to machine applique your fan to your background. To do this you stitch in the ditch of the seam between the piping and the fan. I tried the piping foot for this, but wasn't thrilled with the results. I also tried my regular straight stitch foot, and though it was better, still not very easy. I finally tried my adjustable zipper foot and it was the best for this step. It's pretty tricky to stitch right in that ditch so the visibility of the zipper foot made all the difference.

I think they came out really pretty! My quilt is coming together well and I think it will be wonderful when it is finished!
I also did some quilting this evening. I've got 4 quilts basted and really need to get them going, but seem to be stuck on ideas for how to quilt them. So I started one, just doing some basic outlining, then stitching some curves in the checkerboard border. I then tackled the largest one, more outlining - it's a has a cross stitched center and so far is looking good! Still not sure what I'm going to do in all the borders, which are not cross stitch, but I figure by the time I get there I will have an idea (hopefully!) It felt good to make such good progress on my pile of things to do, I hope I can keep up the good work.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A New Project

I was hard at work tonight, creating something new! Fun!

For my project I made some narrow piping for an accent. Out of pretty sky blue Fairy Frost (I don't think it's really sky blue, but I forgot what the actual name of the color was - I'll try to remember to check when I go in to the shop to teach tomorrow night).

Making this piping is really easy - there are several great piping books available by Susan K Cleveland. The one I learned with was Piping Hot Curves. I actually bought the book and ruler set, and love the ruler - it has a groove in it so you can trim your finished piping to have a perfect 1/4 inch seam allowance.
First things first. You start off with a 1 1/4 inch strip of bias (for my project I cut 6 of these out a half-yard of fabric). Sew them together end to end with a diagonal seam. You then sew the narrow poly cord into the fold of the fabric to create the cording. You can use your zipper foot for this, but I purchased a cording foot and it makes it even easier to sew because it has a groove for the cord and a perfect 1/4 seam allowance! As you can tell, I am all about the tools - I firmly believe that if there is a tool to make a technique easier it's well worth investing in it! Especially if it involves getting a perfect seam allowance!
After you sew your long strip, you trim it up so it has that 1/4 seam allowance, then it's ready to sew to your quilt.

Of course, it helps to have a good assistant to help with those trimmed edges!

After making my piping, I added it to the edges of an Emporer's Collection panel. I am still playing with the borders, but it's looking good so far! I want to do something a little different in the corners, but as it is late, it's time to wrap it up for the night. Hopefully I'll have time tomorrow to finish the borders!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Project Quilting - Challenge Three

I didn't finish my Challenge project in time to enter it, but I did get it finished, so I wanted to share what I did. It isn't as pretty as some of the other entries, but it is very practical and much appreciated by the beneficiary of my work!
The rules of this challenge were to make a quilt totally out of recycled materials, excluding the thread and the batting. We were also to add three recycled embellishments to the quilt. When I first read the rules, the first recycled materials I thought of was my drawer full of jeans. I've been saving them for some time, using them occasionally for patches on other jeans, but mostly thinking that sometime I would make a quilt out of them.

At this point I thought that I didn't just want to make another lap quilt, but wanted to make something a little more creative. After thinking a bit I realized that I have been talking about making a dog bed for quite some time, but haven't actually done anything about it. So I grabbed my doggie's fleece mat and ran it through the washer and dryer. This was going to be one side of my project, and determined the finished size of the bed.

I started by cutting all of my jeans into two units - 6 1/2 inch squares to piece together for the top, and long 6" sections to make the sides. I used the back of the legs to cut the long strips because they had less wear, then used the front of the legs to cut out the squares for the top. I saved all the leftover pieces of jeans to use for the stuffing, which is scraps from my quilting - batting, thread, pant hems that have been cut off, anything fabric that is waste from my sewing room. It makes a pretty heavy filling, but the dog doesn't mind!

I started out with the sides of the quilt. I used fusible backed scraps to cut out Tipper's name and fused them to the center of one long strip, then stitched around the edge of each letter to keep in place. I then cut two strips 4 inches wide by the length of the long zipper I had. (This was recycled from a previous use as a jacket zipper) I turned under 1/2 inch on one side of each strip, then sewed one strip to each side of the zipper to enclose it. I trimmed this to 6 inches, then sewed enough strips to go all the way around my dog bed.

I then sewed all my 6 1/2 inch squared together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I ended up with 7 rows of 4 squares. After sewing and pressing this, I layered it with batting and used a piece of fabric from some old curtains for the backing. (Yeah, getting rid on one more thing I've been holding on to for way too long - more than 15 years!) I simply quilted diagonally through each square, and I eyeballed it, didn't want to take time for marking! I did use my walking foot for this and it definitely kept my fabric from creeping.

After finishing the quiting I trimmed the denim quilt section to the same measurement as the fleece mat. I added the sides to the denim side first, then repeated my steps to add the fleece. I wish I had thought to take pictures as I was sewing, but you'll have to make to with my verbal explanation! I had loosely planned my strip by centering the name on one long side, then adding strips, added the zipper strip so it would be on the back side, then added more strips to go around the fourth side. I didn't do any precise measureing, just loose estimations. When I sewed the strip to the top of the dog bed I centered the name on one side, pinning right sides together. At the corner I made a 1/2 cut in the strip so I could turn the corner, continuing pinning and going around the corners until I got to where I needed to join the strips. I pinned the two strips and sewed that final seam, then pinned the strip to the last side. I sewed a 1/2 inch seam all the way around. I then repeated this using the fleece mat, being sure to make the corners line up with the corners on the denim top to make a nice square cushion. (Make sure you open up the zipper a bit so you can turn the whole thing right side out when you finish!)

I turned it right side out, then made the sack for the stuffing out of the rest of that old curtain. I dumped all my saved filling material into the sack, then put this in the bed. Fluffed it up, laid it out and called the dog - she laid right down on it and loves it! I really enjoyed making this project, and I liked the feeling of the denim squares so much that I plan on creating a lap quilt using future denim scraps - but instead of saving the whole pair of pants I will simply cut my squares and save them, discarding the rest of the pieces so they won't take up so much space! I think a denim quilt with flannel backing would be so nice for picnics by the beach!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Free Day

Today was a nice day, it was a free day - just a day where I pretty much just puttered around and did what I felt like doing at the moment. It was really nice! I've been working hard to get things finished and was starting to feel like I was on some kind of a hamster wheel, which is not fun (at least for a non-hamster!). I still have a lot of projects to work on and goals to meet, but I feel a bit more relaxed and rested now.

I have a lot of quilting to do, more pattern writing, and of course the random alteration gig that helps keep us in groceries! And I am only two months from taking a very special trip - I finally turned in my Passport application this week - so that's one thing off my list!

I finished my pattern for this quilt and have it printed and ready for sale in my Etsy shop -

I will be teaching this quilt as a class this fall. It's super easy, and so pretty, plus you can make it with only 3 different fabrics. I see possibilities every time I go into a fabric shop - saw some lovely autumn fabrics this week to use with it.

Next on the list is the pattern for the sample I made using a Kona Bay Emporer's Collection panel. Not to mention some Christmas projects for the quilt shop. As usual I am a busy quilter! Ah, but it's better than being bored and hanging out in bars - that's a pretty common joke at the quilt shop for husbands that complain about visiting us! Most of them are pretty good about it, they know it's good to keep their ladies happy.
I am looking forward to my copy of EQ7 arriving next week - can't wait to see what improvements have been added - though I've barely learned 6 at this point. Am considering working on a block of the month, we'll have to see about that and if I can keep up with the commitment, or be perhaps be committed! Like I said earlier, too many ideas and projects in my head to ever do them all.
Had fun playing Bunco tonight, even won a prize of a set of lovely handmade cards - that's one hobby I don't think I'll ever take up, but I do love the nice things that can be made.
Time for sleep, and hopefully another good day tomorrow, think I'll actually do some quilting!