Saturday, May 31, 2008

Binding, Journals, and Dear Jane

I guess I have been productive this week, though for some reason I don't feel like I've done all that much. I guess my issue is that I feel like I should have done more, but then again, don't I always!

I made a couple of quilted journal covers. One out of batiks left over from the Jewel of the Prairie Quilt I made 2 years ago. Just a simple cover that slips over a composition notebook, no frills, just quilted with swirls and bound at the top and bottom edges.

The second Journal Cover features the Eiffel Tower. It was the funniest thing because I woke up with this idea in my head that morning. I had a blast picking fabrics out of my stash and finding goodies to add to it. This one has a pocket for your pen on the inside cover, a ribbon book-mark and it closes with a jewelry clasp (which I think is such a clever idea!) I really love how this came out, and I'm looking forward to making some more covers, using different fabrics and ribbons.
I managed to complete two triangles for my Dear Jane project so I'm pretty excited about that. These are the 9th and 10th triangles on the top row. I used a combination of regular piecing, paper piecing and foundation piecing for both of these.
And last, but not least, the binding is on Spinning Wheels. I found the perfect blue, and I feel like it really gives a nice finish to this quilt. I'm not as fond of the poly batt for the edging, it always seems to be more prone to rippling than the cotton, but it's not bad. I'm looking forward to working on some of my own projects this week! I have several quilts waiting to be quilted and I'm eager to play with some ideas, so it should be a good week (as long as I don't get any wedding dresses to bustle!)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spinning my Wheels

I finished quilting this queen sized quilt this morning. I am calling it Spinning Wheels - not really an official name because it isn't my quilt, but one that I have finished for someone else. It started with a pile of blocks with various amounts of four different colors, and a lot of yardage that seems to have originally been planned for a backing. They were made by my clients relative and were all varying in size and accuracy. Not optimal quality, but sentimental, I wanted to use them as is and not spend a lot of time re-doing someone elses precious work.

I used EQ5 to come up with a layout that we both liked, and we decided to use the yardage as the setting squares and borders to float the blocks and show them off in all their glory! I had a bit of a time sewing everything together and trying to get them to lie as flat as possible. Seeing that it was a quilt top in need of every bit of help it could get I decided to use poly batting to give the poofy parts a little more lift, and I quilted it with a large meander to try to even things out as much as humanly possible.

Not too bad, all in all! I have a few puckers on the back that I need to take care of, but all in all, it's a nice quilt and should be usable for a good long time!
Now, I just have to bind it. The easy way would be to use the same fabric as the border, but I think I'd like to try to match the darker blue in the pinwheels to frame it up and give it a ncie finish. So, off I go to the fabric store! One more UFO bites the dust, unfortunately it's not one of mine, but I have every intention of tackling some of those next week...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My new buddies!

Last thursday I had quite the hectic day, including breakfast out with my friends, then a lunch date with some new friends. It was the first meeting of what we are calling O.C.E.A.N. Oregon Coast Etsy Artist's Network. We are forming a street team in Etsy. In case you are unfamiliar with it, Etsy is a great new (or not so new!) way to buy and sell handmade items (and vintage, and supplies). It is a worldwide internet community, and I find it really amazing that there are a number of us on Etsy in my small community here on the coast.

Anyway, we had our first meeting thursday and have been busy ever since! It looks like we are going to be applying for a booth at the blackberry festival in August, which will be very fun I think. I really wouldn't like to do it by myself, but with a group it will be awesome! I just need to get busy making some goodies to have for sale there. I'm thinking I will be needing more postcards and maybe some items in the $30.00 range also. I've started making some quilted journal covers that I think are pretty darn great - more on those later!

If you are interested in checking out Etsy, here's a great way to start: Check out this treasury I made last night. It expires Friday, so don't wait too long! Here's a picture of the team:

I think we are going to have a great time getting to know each other and growing our businesses!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fun with Amy Butler

I must say that I officially love Amy Butlers patterns! They really are wonderful. I finished the Weekenter Travel bag last week, and while there were some difficult bits, the bag is fabulous. I have to say that I do not like working with the stiff stuff in between (peltex, timtex). Not good on the fingernails, especially when you are trying to sew cording onto it around a curve with another layer of interfacing and fabric to shape the corners of the bag - you get the idea, I'm sure! But the bag came out beautifully, and I know my client will be very happy with it. And I did a fabulous job of matching up the pockets and the sides of the bag.

My next Amy Butler project will be the laptop cover - Sharan got a free sample at Quilt Market last weekend, so I'll be excited to work on it next! Plus I found a site with some free patterns! I cannot wait to get started making some of these great things - they will make great gifts!

What am I sewing today? I have a wedding dress to hem and bustle, and another 16 blocks to machine quilt for a quilt I'm trying to finish up this week. Won't be able to put pictures up on this one till later, but it's really a neat quilt. Not too much fun to quilt - it has a lot of embellishment - feathers, buttons, ribbon. It has 56 blocks with 1" sashing in between, so I stitched in the ditch all the blocks over the weekend (about 3 hours worth of sewing) and am now outline stitching the blocks. If I do about 14 a day I will finish it up on Thursday, and be able to pass it on to the binding person.

What I really need to do is work on the Round Robin, and the Row Robins that are all due in about 16 days!!! Yikes! Deadlines get me motivated, but this one is getting way too close for comfort! Time to get sewing - so hopefully I can get everthing finished on time!

Friday, May 09, 2008

New Blocks done for my Dear Jane quilt

I had a nice afternoon yesterday with my quilter friends. I got out the Dear Jane tote and made three blocks. I whipped out a couple of quick and easy blocks to get me in the mood, then tackled the last block of Row C.

The first block I did was I-2 , Kaye's Courtyard. Easy as could be, just a simple 9-patch set on point. The measurements for the 9-patch were a little finicky, but it came out just as perfect as could be. I'm not troubled by working with sixteenths of an inch because I had a ruler when I first started out that was actually printed a sixteenth of an inch off so I always had to measure that little extra to make my blocks come out right. Now I'm quite good at eyeballing that space between the eighths!
The second Block I did was I-1. For this one I wanted to use a civil war reproduction that was given to me by my fellow Dear Jane quilter, but I totally miscalculated the large squares and cut them 1/4 inch too small. Since I discovered this after cutting and sewing the 9-patches I faced a dilema - my decision was to add a second blue fabric to the block. My original plan was to use a different blue in each square, one blue per square. Well, I've already accidently duplicated a couple of fabrics, so what's the problem with making a block with two blues? I found one that worked, and finished the block. No one will ever notice!

Now that I was all warmed up and in the mood I decided to tack C-13. I've been stalled on this one for a while due to fabric choices. Well, since I've gone over the line and used two fabrics, I stepped all the way over and not only used 2 fabrics, but I used three fabrics, and one of them is red!!! Talk about pushing the boundaries! To tell you the truth I'm liking the red white and blue block, and may add a few more subltle dashes of red. After all this is an election year, and I think it is quite appropriate to the quilt. This block also had some finicky small measurements, ant the finished size of those triangles is 3/8 of an inch. That's a small triangle! Big thanks to the tips in Sally Collins book on precision piecing - sew larger and cut down to size is the trick with these little babies!

Acually there is one more block in the C row and then it will be done. It's an applique block, and my pieces are ready to sew, so when I'm ready for a sit-down break this afternoon, I'll be doing that. Hopefully I can get in the grove of making a block a day or so. If I can do that I could get the top done this year. Wouldn't that be fabulous?

Hope your day is sew wonderful, too!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hide and Seek (or Lost and Found!)

I found my camera cable, so now I can add the pictures of the Let's Pretend Quilt I finished on Monday! It's amazing the things you can find if you start cleaning out drawers. I think I do too much of the "stash and dash" method of cleaning. It works in the short term and makes your room look cleaner, but eventually you end up with drawers, shelves, and bins overflowing with unrelated items, making it really hard to find anything when you need it. I decided to clean out one drawer, shelf, or bin a day until I can get everything more organized and accessable.
So - on to the quilt. This is a half size sample of a pattern we have at Threads That Bind. It's made with strips from a Jelly Roll, and a panel, with a little yardage for the sashing and border. It has a bias binding, which is super cute because it is tape measures. (Or rulers, as the case may be!)

Here is a nice shot of putting the binding on. For most quilts these days I do a binding that is machine stitched on the back and then turned to the front and topstitched. It finishes quickly, and looks great. Saves me a lot of time over hand stitching to the back of the quilt, and I feel that if the quilt is machine quilted there is not a problem with machine stitching the binding on as well.

This is the label, which I remembered to stitch into the binding. This is a great way of attaching a label as it eliminates the hand sewing on two sides of it (do you see a theme developing here?). This also works if you are hand stitching the binding to the back because you stitch the label to the back as you sew the binding to the front. This is a nice secure way of attaching your label as it would be quite a bit harder to remove in the case of a stolen quilt.

The finished quilt, and some of the details:

For the quilting I used C&C variegated yellow for the top and the back. I almost ran out of thread, so had to use something slightly different on part of the back, but you can't tell. From now on I will be buying the larger spools of thread! I can't tell you how many times I've had to go hunting for a little more thread to quilt the last corner of a quilt!! I'm very happy that my machine seems to like the C&C threads because they are fairly easy to come by most of the time.

Off to the sewing room with me now for the task of the day! Wonder what I will find in drawer number 2?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fun Find of the Day

I found something fabulous yesterday while I was browsing in Bi-Mart. I've been thinking of making a client file for my alteration business so I can better keep track of things. I was looking at the envelope files, but thought they were a little expensive for being just a plain brown, nothing fancy organization tool. Then, I spotted this lovely sage green faux suede box with a lid! All ready for hanging folders to go in. For only $5.99! Add another $7.00 for the hanging folders and I am all set for only a little more cash than that ho-hum folder! As excited as I get about these things you would think I would be a lot more organized than I am. Now I just have to be faithful about keeping my files up. I have piles of stuff here and there that I'll be able to store away now, though!

I was so thrilled at this great find that I got it all set up, then decided where I wanted to keep it, which meant clearing out a spot with a pile of misc. stuff all sitting on a broken basket. So I started clearing out the basket and found, among other things, a shop sample that was not finished! I made myself finish putting all the other stuff away, then got busy this afternoon and made this cute little quilt. It is from the Take 5 Goes to Charm School Pattern using Look and Learn fabrics from American Jane. I quilted it with C&C Gumball variegated thread in a Meander Pattern. Then I used a bias binding with tape measures on it - such a cute finish!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Quick and Easy Quilt Label

I thought I would share a nice looking quilt label that doesn't take a lot of time or work to make. All you need is a square of light fabric to write on, 4-6 inches square, a piece of freezer paper to iron on the back of this, and a few 1" strips to frame your border.

Iron the freezer paper to the back of your light fabric. Then write your label. (I like to use an oversized piece because sometimes I make a mistake and this way I can just flip it over and use the other end to write on!). Write your label with a permanent pen. Pigma markers are awesome, but what I really like to use is a gel pen. They come in so many colors and add a custom touch to your label.

What information to put on your label? The name of the quilt. Your name. The name of the person who quilted it, if not yourself. The date. (I usually just use month and year) I like to add my location. If you are sending it out to shows, it is a good idea to put all contact information on the label. If it is a gift, put the recipient's name and occasion. As you can see, there is a great deal that you can put on the label, so you may want to make it a nice large one! Another great tip is to write the measurements of the quilt. That way you don't have to remeasure it beacause you forgot how big it actually is!

After you have finished writing your label, remove the freezer paper and press the label. Trim to a square, I like to trim about 1/2" outside of the writing to make the label as small as possible (less sewing to do!). Add a 1" strip to each side, press seam allowance toward strip, trim even with top and bottom. Then add a 1" strip to the top and the bottom, press seam allowance toward strips and trim even with sides. Press 1/4 inch under all around this sewn block, then pin to back of quilt and applique down.

See how easy it is to make a cute label for your quilt?  I hope you do label the quilts you make.  Someday, someone will want to know who made it and why, and this might be their only clue!

Have a quilty day!