Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Finished another project today!

This one is a pillow made for the Alchemy (or custom) section on Etsy. It is a pillow similar to one sold in a popular boutique store, but doesn't smell like kerosene like theirs does. We took a while to go back and forth with digital photos of fabric choices, but eventually settled on an assortment of fabrics and I was able to get going on the pillow. I think it turned out fabulous, and have a trial one I made that I am going to finish up and list as well.

The pieces are all hand cut one at a time and fuzed to the background. They are then stitched around with orange thread with a zigzag stitch. The finished pillow is really quite lovely and it is pretty fun to work with. I discovered as I did the first one that it was best to not fuse all the pieces down before stitching, but to do this in stages because the patches can work loose while you are turning the pillow top under the machine to go around all the curves.

It is finished with cording and an invisible zipper. It measures 22 inches across and I stuffed it with a 24 inch pillow form so it is nice and plump! Now I just need to get a box and take it to the post office! Yippee, another finished project!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Finally finished something!

Well, this is my second try at this post. I finished the first one, thought I posted it, but it is nowhere to be found now. So, if this ends up posting twice tonight, please forgive me, I have no clue what is going on! And I actually finished up two projects today, so I have a little more to add anyway.

Project number one that is done is what I like to call an "orphan" project. I found the completed blocks and outer border in a bin of stuff going to a yard sale. The quilt guild was allowed first dibs at the goodies, and I pulled out the blocks, and some other neat stuff, for a donation to the bell choir to purchase music. What a good cause, and what a great opportunity. The blocks didn't look like much by themselves, but when set together you get a great secondary pattern with the stars and the squares surrounding them.

I added a narrow pink border using some fabrics of a similar vintage from my stash, then finished it off with the floral border. I backed it with a beautiful rose print fabric, then quilted it in a simple meander using variegated thread. I had thought about doing a more complicated custom quilting on it, but since I intended it to go for sale in my Etsy shop decided to keep it simple so I could sell it at a lower price. I'm glad I did because the backing tended to drag on my machine bed and was a little difficult to deal with.

So here it is, click on the picture and it will take you to the listing on Etsy with more detailed description. I am happy it's done, even though I lost my binding fabric and had to use a different one. I need to get back to the plan of getting the binding ready when I do the top and storing them together. That worked out really well for me! I'm sure I looked at that pink fabric last month and said to myself "I've used that enough, let's pass it on to someone else" without even thinking about having saved it for the binding.

The second project of the day was finishing up a baby quilt for my daughter's friend. We made the top at Christmas when she was visiting, so I needed to get the quilt done to sent to it's new owner. The baby is due in a little over a month, so I don't have any more time to procrastinate this one. It will be off in the mail on Monday, I hope! Isn't it beautiful? It's for a baby boy, we loved the border fabric and picked the rest of the fabrics to go with that. She chose a nice fluffy bat, so it's a snuggly soft little quilt, and we hope it will become a favorite!

So much for keeping up with my Wednesday Projects! Well, we'll just call it spring break and start again on Wednesday. I don't want to keep from talking about my other projects just because I had a couple bad weeks, so I'm just going to pretend I planned it that way all along and carry on! Didn't want it to become a catch-up situation, so I think that will work the best for me! And this way I won't avoid blogging because I feel guilty about messing up. I hope to finish lots of projects and post a lot more over the next few months. I feel excited about getting some of the projects I have in my basket finished and making room for some new ones. I'm setting some goals for the quilts I want to get done for the fair and the quilt show this year, last year I didn't get anything entered and I don't want to repeat that this year.

Back to the sewing room, I am making myself tidy up each night before I quit so I don't have to spend valuable quilting time looking for stuff!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday Project: Adding Borders to your Mini 9-Patch and Snowball

We made it! Today we finish up the 9-patch and Snowball quilt by adding borders. Borders can be kind of tricky, especially with larger quilts, so working with a smaller size is a good way to practice techniques that will give you nice borders on any size of quilt.
For this step you will need the 1/3 yard blue fabric for cutting the border strips. Cut 3 strips that are 3" wide from the width of the fabric (selvedge to selvedge). Cut one of these strips in half. These will be your side borders. Give your quilt top one last pressing, then lay it out flat on your table. Measure it from the top to the bottom at both sided and through the center of the quilt. Because your blocks are 3 inches finished, your quilt should measure 21 1/2 inches. Chances are it will not, it will most likely be a little smaller, or even a little larger. If these three measurements are more than 1/4" different, I will add the three measurements together and divide by three to get my border measurement. You will cut your two short strips to this measurement.

For a small quilt like this you don't have to do a lot of pinning, but for a larger quilt I highly recomment that you pin at least every 10 - 12 inches. For this little one you can pin the center of the border strip to the center of the side of the quilt and at each end. When I sew a border on I like to sew with the border on the bottom and the quilt on the top so I can make sure my seam allowances all lay nice and flat when I'm stitching. Stitch each side border to the top, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press the seam allowances out toward the border.

Now repeat the measuring process, this time measuring from side to side to find the measurement for the top and bottom borders. Pin and sew the borders on in the same manner, and press. Now step back and admire your little quilt! You can quilt this in a simple manner by simply quilting a diagonal line through the nine-patch blocks, or do an overall pattern if you like. You can add buttons or beads to the snowballs for a fun touch.

I hope you enjoyed making this little quilt, I had fun making it, and think it is an easy little project that looks much more difficult than it actually is. I'm thinking about what to talk about next week, so no hints, but it will be fun to see what comes up between now and then!

Monday, March 09, 2009

OOPS! Wednesday project - a little late!

Sorry for missing getting this out on Wednesday, but it has been a horribly busy week. Next time I do a series I will have them all written out beforehand so I can just post them as needed. My sincere apologies, now on with the sewing!

Today we will be setting our blocks together. This goes pretty easily with these small blocks because you can lay them out on your counter or cutting table and you don't have to have a big floor space. It gets a little trickier if you have to lay out a quilt with big blocks, so this is really good practice!

For this quilt we are making 7 rows of 7 blocks. Start with a nine-patch, then alternate with a snowball and lay the first block out in a row.

Starting from right to left, sew together - with blocks this small I don't spend a lot of time fussing about matching the seams, though I do like to sew with the snowball on top so I can see where the point is and don't blunt it. Sew with a 1/4" seam, making sure that your nine patch is fully flat so you don't have any little pleats where the seam lies. Open up your blocks and press toward the 9-patch block. Check to see if your points line up with your seams on the 9-patch, which they should. If they are obviousy off, pick out your seam and try again.

Continue adding blocks in this manner until you have all 7 sewn in a row.

Now, you can sew the second row in the same manner. This row starts and ends with a snowball block.

Aren't they pretty? Now you are ready to sew two rows together. Flip the second row over onto the first row, right sides together.
The trick to sewing these together is to match up the seam allowances between blocks. Since all the seams are pressed toward the 9-patch blocks, you will have a great reference point to match these seams. Line up the two seams and pinch them between your fingers. Now slide yolur fingers slightly side to side until you feel those seam allowances nestle into each other. If you feel a big ridge, they are overlapping so you will want to slide them apart. If you feel a valley, then they are too far apart and you want to slide them closer together. I do this for each seam as I approach it while sewing, but if you want to do them all at once and pin them you can do that also. I recommend placing one pin on each side of the seam instead of trying to pin it in the middle. When you pin in the middle you often end up pushing your seam allowances out a smidge with the pin itself. This is what those intersections should look like after they are sewn together. If you have one or two that are off, simply unstitchf about halway down the block on each side and try again. Press seam allowance to one side (doesn't really matter which way) when you are satisfied with the way your rows look.
Make a third row, sew it onto the first two, then continue on until you have all 7 rows sewn together:
Now, this Wednesday, we will add the borders to your little quilt. This lesson is one that is valuable for quilts of any size, but like this one is a little easier because you are working with smaller pieces, so it's less bulky and hard to handle. If you have trouble with your borders being wavy or too small, I think my pointers will help you with this. Till then, happy sewing!