Thursday, January 28, 2016

Coming Soon!

I'm hard at work at a project I can't show you, but I will be giving a few sneak peaks over the next week or two.  This is for a new Island Batik blog hop starting Feb 15.  That means I'd better get done because I am up first - nothing like a deadline to get me moving!

I'm also working on a ton of other projects, so no getting bored for me.  I've got all my stars made and will be putting the borders on this sweet quilt tomorrow.
The centers of the stars are made from squares cut from baby clothes, as well as some of the star points.  Isn't it bright and cheery?  There was even sunshine this morning while I was sewing, so I was a happy camper.  The iron and I were definitely working well - no harm done by yesterday's crash.  My husband and I had a lovely walk this afternoon and enjoyed a delicious hamburger for a late lunch.  I think I'll just have a bowl of cereal for my dinner tonight!  I might sneak in and finish those borders during the debate...I'm sure my husband will keep me updated on the high points.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Out of Steam

It's been a busy week already, and I am feeling a bit out of steam.  A good night to watch Downton Abbey on my DVR and put my feet up a bit!  I did finish up the cutting and prep for the star blocks I have been working on and hope to get the top pieced tomorrow. I also had a near miss with the iron.  I dropped it against the table and knocked the dial cover off of it.  It snapped back on again and I hope it is all right.  I shall see tomorrow I suppose.   Hopefully a good nights rest and we'll both be functional again!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Tips - Sewing Binding by Machine

My most used binding method is sewing the binding to the back by machine, then topstitching on the front by machine.  I've gotten pretty darn good at this, so wanted to share some tips with you - at the end you will find a link to a free downloadable pdf of the information so you can keep it handy.

No Hand Stitch Binding, Machine stitched on Front and Back

1. Square up and trim your quilt top – but first look at step 2. If you don’t want to cut the points off you need to trim the top so you have the correct seam allowance.

2. Cut your binding. The key to a great looking binding is to know your walking foot. Before you start cutting, you must figure out how wide your binding will need to be. The easiest way to be precise in this step is to measure how wide your seam will be to the edge of your walking foot. Simply sew a sample seam and measure. Every foot is different. For a ¼” seam, cut your strips 2”. If your seam is between ¼ and 3/8 (5/16) cut your strips 2.25”. For a 3/8” seam, cut your strip to 2.5”. These instructions are for a snug binding with very little overlap. If you want a little more overlap, simply cut your strip ¼” wider.

3. Cut enough strips to equal 2 x the length plus 2 x the width, plus 16” extra (at the minimum - a little extra length never hurts!)

4. Prepare binding: Join your binding with diagonal seams to minimize lumps. Trim your seam to ¼”, press open. Press the entire strip in half lengthwise.

5. Sew Binding to back of quilt. Start about ¼ of the way down one side of the quilt, leave 8” of binding free, pin here - then audition the binding placement by holding it to the edge all the way around the quilt. Make sure that none of your joins falls at a corner, and make sure you have figured your length correctly. Adjust your starting point if needed, then proceed to stitch where pinned. If you keep a slight tension on your binding as you sew, this will keep your quilt from rippling on the edges (but not too much, or your quilt will draw up at the edges!)

6. Mitering corners: As you come up to the corner, decrease your stitch length slightly. Stop stitching one seam length from the edge.

Rotate your quilt 90 degrees and backstitch off the edge of the quilt.

Raise your needle and pull the quilt towards you slightly (you can cut your thread here or not – I prefer not to).

Pull your binding up and away from you so the cut edge lines up with the side of the quilt.

 Fold your binding down at the top edge of the quilt, lining the cut edges with the edge of the quilt and the fold at the top edge.

 Continue sewing down to the next corner, repeat for all four corners.

7. End your stitching about 8-12 inches from the point that your binding starts from, cut your thread and lay your quilt flat on the table.

 I hope the pictures help you see how to do this- it’s a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it you will be able to join your ends perfectly every time! Pull both end of the binding flat against the quilt so they overlap.

Make sure you pull them snug so your binding will lay flat. 

Cut the top edge of your binding off so it overlaps the bottom by exactly the width of your binding (before it was pressed in half). 

I try to do this in the center of my gap so I have more room to manipulate the ends when I sew them together.

Open the ends of the binding and turn them so they face with right sides together.

Mark a diagonal seam, pin, and stitch.

Before you trim, check that the binding fits properly, then trim, finger press seam open and finish stitch the binding to the quilt.
8.  Turn the quilt over to the top side. Top stitch the binding with a matching thread. I like to use my normal presser foot on my machine for this, but if your walking foot allows for good visibility it could be used. Slow and steady does the best job, and it helps if your foot allows you to see the edge of the binding.
9.  When you get close to the corner prepare to sew the miter.

 Fold the binding up at the bottom first.
Then fold the side over, and carefully stitch until you get to the corner.

 I make a back stitch before I pivot, and stitch one stitch forward and one back after I turn the quilt to make sure the corner is secure.

10. Alternative finishing methods and tips:

Use a decorative stitch to catch the free edge of the binding. Try a blind hem stitch instead of top stitching. Many machines have a variety of decorative stitches that can be used to sew down the edge, making a unique and attractive finish.

You can also sew the binding to the top as in the traditional method, press the binding to the back and top stitch along the edge of the binding on top.

To make sewing the free edge easier you could use basting glue or use a zig-zag stitch to sew a fusible thread along the edge of the quilt to catch the free edge of the binding. You can also use pins or clips to hold the edge in place to make it easier to stitch.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial! I find that doing my bindings by machine is fast and looks great, and am happy to share how I do it.  If you would like a downloadable PDF of this tutorial you can get it here.  Let me know your opinion - have you tried binding by machine and what do you think?  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Allietare Mystery Quilt - Borders are Decided!

One of the perks of a busy weekend working at the quilt shop was that I had the opportunity to shop for the borders for my quilt!  I decided to go with the gold stripe and chose a nice red to go with it.  I hope to get the corners on and the borders sewn on this week - yay for a finished top!  I have determined that this is not going to go in the UFO bin and will be quilted up by the end of February.  I even have the thread ready, so just need to see if I have enough batting left on the roll for one more big quilt.  I will definitely have to start shopping for another roll now.

I worked on a valentine project for the quilt shop today.  I made 16 of these heart blocks:
This is a patten by Moda that uses 12 fat quarters.  I think it will be really pretty, and we'll make up some fat quarter bundles to sell with the pattern.

I worked on some star blocks as well today, plus finished another Dear Jane block in addition to the one I did Sunday.  I picked a simple one today because I didn't have a lot of time.  We had appointments to get our eyes checked today.  Both of us are getting new glasses this time around.  I am looking forward to seeing a bit better!

Here are my blocks - not good pictures today, will have to get some daylight ones tomorrow:



Be sure to check in tomorrow, I am writing a post about machine sewing your binding!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Feel so Smart - NOT!

I stayed up way too late last night trying to figure out how to add a signature to the end of my blog posts.  Google was of some help, but I didn't have any success until I finally read this article.  I was really delighted when I saw it finally show up.  That is the feeling smart part of this post.

The NOT part comes from realizing about 3/4 of the way through appliqueing the leaf that I had turned my background upside down.  Boo.  Since I was mostly done, I finished, and I am putting it in my finished pile for now.  I might decide to do it over, but we'll see.  Maybe I'll keep it because it adds charm to the quilt.  And only God is perfect.  Yeah, I can go with that one!  With no further ado - here is the 12th triangle in the top row.  I did this one with freezer paper applique and machine stitched the triangle on the top.  I used the triangle template to cut out my background by tracing around it and cutting a bit on the outside of the line to allow for shrinkage due to the applique. (I think this where I went wrong, as I traced the line on the wrong side, then used it for the front side so I could center the applique.) After I finished sewing, I pressed it and trimmed to the correct size.

I also finished G-4.  Foundation paper pieced perfection.  Those center pieces were sooo tiny!  I also realized that anytime I am estimating the size of a half square triangle piece, I should just add 1/4 of an inch to my estimate.  The second row of triangles were barely big enough!

I am looking forward to more piecing of the star blocks for the baby clothes quilt and a nice walk later this afternoon - a pleasant and pieceful day in my home (as long as I don't have to do too much reverse sewing!).  I hope your day is pleasant as well!
 photo My Logo_zps7432o4yw.jpg

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This Week's Finishes

I got some good quilting time in this week and have managed to finish quilting the Rainbow Swirls Log Cabin quilt as well as another lap quilt!
This is the only picture I have right now of Rainbow Swirls, but you can see I used variegated thread (Gumballs by Coats & Clark).  The batting is Warm and Natural.  No problems at all quilting this one, it took nearly 4 bobbins of thread.
This quilt is a variation of my Lover's Kiss pattern.  I made fewer blocks and added a piano key border.  The paris fabric was in my stash, and I paired it with strips from a Honey Honey jelly roll. (Kate Spain)

This one was quilted with Aurifil thread - of course it quilted up great!  This one took a bit over 3 bobbins to complete.  The batting is Warm and Natural as well.  I've almost used a whole roll of it this year!  I was really glad to have a chance to catch up on some machine quilting - I only have two more quilt tops in my pile to quilt at the moment.  I guess that means I'd better get to sewing, and I have a bunch of projects ready to be started.  I am really looking forward to piecing up a storm over the next couple of months.

I finished another block for Crazy Jane on Monday - G-3:
All applique, took me about an hour to finish.  Another Island Batik fabric - perfect for applique!  I love that it pressed so nicely and held the edge for stitching.  I'll have a few more blocks to show tomorrow when I can take pictures.  

I feel like I've been a bit more productive this week, thanks to my planner!  Listing three things I want to accomplish each day really seems to help me stay focused and accomplish those things.  I know the latter part of this week won't be quite as productive as I'll be working at the quilt shop while Sharan is away at the Oregon Gardens show.  Rainbow Swirls will be there in the booth as well as a few other samples I've made.  My quilts get to more shows than I do!  I don't mind, I'll be thinking of new shop samples to make while I work - can't complain about that, after all.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mail Call

It's always fun to get a squishy package of fabric in the mail - this week I had two packages! I am gathering fabric for two custom order quilts.  This package is for a lap quilt made of breast cancer fabrics.
I ordered different fabrics from an assortment of Etsy shops and these were the first to arrive.  The price for the fabrics was great, I got two yards for about $11.00!  They were packaged super nicely and the branding was nicely done.  I even got a cute little button - "Idle Yarn is the CATS play thing"
I would definitely shop from Slipped Stitch Fabrics again, I was very pleased with my purchase!

I also ordered a kit from Cotton Boll Quilting - not on Etsy, but they have their own website.  
Looks festive, doesn't it?  
I was slightly put off by the high shipping estimate, but was very happy to see that when the item shipped the price was reduced to the actual shipping price of a priority flat rate envelope.  This is what I am going to make out of these, but with a solid center as a table topper:
Two thumbs up for both of these shops!  Definitely check out Cotton Boll Quilting if you like kits - they have a great assortment of them.

Both of these reviews are simply my opinion of the items and service I received from these shops.  I was not paid or compensated in any way for my purchases, I was simply delighted with them and wanted to share with my readers.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Missing - the Last Piece

I guess I can say that putting together my top for Bonnie Hunter's Allietare Mystery Quilt is a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle!  I lay pieces out, stand back and think something like "That doesn't fit there!" or "I need a piece with a darker red".  I have sewn half of the top top together and am loving it, though.  Today I was working on laying out the last half, and I find that I am missing one of these units:
In fact, I think it may be this very unit!  I know I turned the half that I sewed on wrong, but maybe I set it down somewhere in my sewing room instead of with the rest of the units? I know at some point I had them all because I counted.  I keep hoping it will turn up, but if I don't find it soon, I will have to make a new one!

Here is the first half of my quilt:

I do like this one very much, even though I never would have thought I was a fan of red and gold.  I also love the grey in it.  So pretty.  Actually the colors makes me think of my Junior High school.  Our colors were maroon and gold.  We all thought it was a pretty yucky combination then, but what do Jr. High kids know?

I think I might finish putting my blocks together tomorrow.  Then I have an idea for my gold border.  I love the fabric, but I don't know that it will work on this quilt so we'll have to see what it looks like.  But first I will have to find that last missing piece!  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How to Prepare Knit Fabrics for use in a Quilt

I thought I would share how I prepare knit fabrics for use in a quilt.  This applies to t-shirts, or baby clothes.  First of all you want your item to be clean.  Then I cut along the seams until I have a flat panel to work with.  I give it a light pressing on the reverse side, being careful not to stretch the fabric.

 I use my ruler to check for placement - on this block you can see that I will have to use part of the curve of the neckline if I want to get all of the design in.
 I use a lightweight interfacing to fuse to the back of the shirt.  I cut my fusible about 1/2 inch larger than I want to cut my square.  I place it so that it covers the full area that I want to include in my square.
 The secret to getting a good bond with the fusible is to use a hot iron and a damp pressing cloth.  I just use muslin, dampen it in the sink and squeeze out the excess water.  I place the cloth over the fusible web (double check to make sure it is fusible side toward the t-shirt!)
 I then press, using steam as well.  I press until all the water is out of the cloth.
 I shake the t-shirt out in the air to cool it down so it doesn't warp my mat!  Then I trim my square up
 The finished cut!  You can see that little piece of neckline.  This will be in the seam allowance so wont show on the finished block.
These are pictures from earlier this fall - I am currently in the process of finishing the top and will share that when it is done!