Oh, The Places I’ve Been!

Well.  I’m exaggerating a bit.

Saperstein

I went into Los Angeles to meet my sister, who was accompanying her husband for his treatments here, in the Saperstein Center, at Cedars Sinai Hospital.  I’m including this photo so my mother will know what it looks like.  It’s a comfortable room, with private bays all along the sides of the main room.  My sister and I curl up in the comfy chemo chairs (that aren’t being used, of course) and talk while we wait to visit with him.  But this time while he was in treatment and couldn’t be visited, we first went to lunch at a favorite place of mine:

Sycamore Kitchen Yummies

Sycamore Kitchen, which has very inventive and delicious food.

Then to The Grove, where we hit Barnes and Noble because I was looking for Quilty Magazine, because I’d just hit print:

Gingham Quilt

My gingham quilt was featured in “Girls on Film,” paired with Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ.

Gingham Quilt front

Here’s a better look at it, and here’s the blog post about it.  We didn’t find the magazine; my issue came a couple of days later in the mail.

HighHeeledShoes

And then Nordstrom’s where just seeing these makes my feet hurt.  The heels on the left remind me of my mother’s “spectator” pumps, worn for years and very stylish.

Tennies

Better.

Then back to the hospital.  We later had dinner at a lovely little Italian place, then it was home for me, as we were both tired and she had to drive to her hotel.

Students

Another place I’ve been is my local community college, where school started.  (The white blobs are where I whited out each student’s name.)  This ought to give you a representative sample of who is in my classroom. I finally have a great class! (Intro to Literature) and I’m more excited to teach this semester than I have been in a while.

Square-in-Square Blocks

I’ve also found a few minutes to spend in the sewing room.  No, I’m not playing in the Economy Block Sew-a-Long.  The pretty pink, yellow and chocolate square-in-a-square blocks are for a friend’s baby quilt, and I’ve already sent them to the quilter who is putting it all together.  We used Red Pepper Quilt’s tutorial *here.*

Into the Woods front

I’ve  already made a quilt out of the (officially known) Square-in-a-Square block, in my quilt “Into the Woods,” (number 103 on the 200 Quilts list, shown below), so I’m squared out. The block in my quilt above is 9″ square, larger than the baby blocks, and I drafted it in my quilt software, QuiltPro.

ABL Jan14 block

This is the block for January for the Always Bee Learning Bee.  Toni of Hoosier Toni wants to make Christmas quilts for her children’s bed, and I thought her choice of the SpiderWeb block was great.

ABL Block with extra Jan14

This is like the one we made a couple of months ago for another bee; the tutorial is found *here.*

MCM January14 Block

This is for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, for Linda of Buzzing and Bumbling.  Her house burned to the ground right before Thanksgiving last year, so we were happy to make her house blocks to help her re-create her life in a new fashion.  This is my own design.  I’ve got a PDF file of the templates here: *Hyde Park House*, but I have to warn you that since it’s a 12″ block finished, some of the templates “fall” off the page, and you’ll have to figure it out the measurements.  What I did was measure the templates, then write the measurements down on the paper.  Then I used that as a guide for cutting out the pieces.  Somehow I ended up short on the height and had to add another strip of green on the bottom.  Just don’t be too precious about this and you’ll get through.  Hey, it’s free and untested, so Buyer Beware.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 5.08.48 PM

Lastly, my mind has been in Budapest, Croatia and Slovenia, places I hope to go to this summer.  The challenge is when you are in lots of places, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where you need to be.  Today I needed to be here in my sewing room, finishing up the Amish With A Twist 2 quilt top (next post).

And often when you are too distracted with your head in many places, you fall into the procrastinating habit.  I had a student from my last class write to me, as she was worried about trying to overcome her habit of procrastination (although her habit is very slight, truthfully). I told her I sometimes ask myself “What do I want to have done before this day ends?” and sometimes that helps.  Other times it is just not wanting to face that dreaded task every day, so you finally find the resources to get it done.

Although you might think this doesn’t really apply to us quilters, I think it does.  Sometimes we put off tackling the really hard tasks and instead do our bee blocks (Ahem.)  Other times we have sketched out a terrific quilt, but are seduced by the latest trend on Instagram (Economy Blocks) and let that pull us away from doing the hard work of designing and figuring out the quilt in our head.

An article in the New Yorker noted that “The essence of procrastination lies in not doing what you think you should be doing, a mental contortion that surely accounts for the great psychic toll the habit takes on people. This is the perplexing thing about procrastination: although it seems to involve avoiding unpleasant tasks, indulging in it generally doesn’t make people happy.”

So I’m trying to figure out which place I should go next, which direction I should head in my quilting.  Shall I fall back on something easier to do than what I have to (“we often procrastinate not by doing fun tasks but by doing jobs whose only allure is that they aren’t what we should be doing”) , distract myself by buying more fabric (judging from the recent Instagram De-Stash, a lot of people have been doing this one!), or simply surf the web some more to get so many ideas, I can’t possibly make them all in my lifetime (“many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle”).

Ultimately, it comes down to Getting The Work Done: “Since open-ended tasks with distant deadlines are much easier to postpone than focussed, short-term projects, dividing projects into smaller, more defined sections helps.”  And aren’t most of our UFOs the result of procrastination?

So get yourself a notebook, break down the quilt you want to make into smaller steps, and check them off as you go.  It also helps to set a deadline–try the Finish-A-Long if you need a little help with that; because of that I finished several dead-in-the-water quilt tops, surprising even myself with twenty-four completed quilts in 2013.  Not all of these were begun and finished in that calendar year, but that’s when they came alive.    I’ll close with some lines from one of my son’s favorite books, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss:

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

parr

Happy Quilting!

Y-Seam Tutorial

During Thanksgiving Week, I thought it was time to re-post this tutorial from Leanne’s blog, from the Third Quarter Finish-A-Long Tutorials. As background, I’ve been sewing and quilting for more years than I should admit to, and during that time have completed over 120 quilts.  So I’ve faced down more than my share of the Dreaded Y-seams.

In June of this year, I made this quilt for my sister.  As you can see there are lots of peaks and valleys in this thing–lots of Y-seams going both ways (some people call them Y-seams and V-seams) but really, let’s keep it simple.

They are called Y-seams because the V-part of the letter Y usually has fabric with no seam, and the tail of the Y has a seam. I’ve marked the Y for you in red in the picture on the left.  The picture on the right is the other type of Y-seam.  I’ll show you both.

Let’s start with the first type of Y-seam, where the “tail” of the Y is facing toward you and the “V” of the Y is underneath.  Place a pin at the 1/4-inch mark through the seam, and into a spot that would be the peak of the 1/4″ seamline, if you could draw it on and imagine it.

Most beginners want to pin that seam to death.  Run screaming in the other direction.  The success of the Y-seam depends on the “float” of the fabric.

I sometimes will place one pin on either side of the seam, just to anchor it as I get going, then another pin or two along the starting point.  Then I take out the (above) pin.  I want my fabric to float — don’t want to anchor that second half of the seam too much, as I need it to pivot.

Start sewing from the left edge, as the seam faces you, using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Fold the seam toward you, and as you approach the seam, slow down and use a bit smaller stitch.  You are trying to anchor the stitching a bit.

When you get to the seamline, when you are on top of the thread marking that other seam, STOP.  Make a tiny stitch on top of the one before to anchor, but DON’T GO OVER THE SEAM LINE.

Lift your needle out of the cloth.  I pulled it away to show you what I mean, but you don’t need to do that.  Just give yourself a little room to smooth the (green) seam allowances out of the way, and to find the place to insert your needle again.

Re-insert your needle just on the other side.  Then line up the next two raw edges, smoothing the fabric away from the needle and your presser foot.  Sounds more confusing than it is.  Take a few tiny stitches to anchor, then change your stitch length back to normal.

Another shot of my needle placed just on the other side of the seam allowances (which I flipped to the back of my presser foot).

Depending on the amount of cloth in your Y-seam, and if you just feel better about it, go ahead now, and pin those raw edges together and stitch the rest of the seam.

When you are through sewing, clip the thread if it is restricting the ability of the seam allowance to open up and lay flat.  If you left a bit of thread there (pulled it away from the needle as in my photo above) there should be no problem. 

Press, keeping the tail of the Y-seam open.

From the front, it looks like this.

Now we’ll tackle the other kind of seam–where the seam of the Y’s tail is underneath, and you see the “V” part of the Y.

First locate the valley of the one-quarter-inch seamline and put a pin there.

Snip to within a couple of threads of the pin.  Leaving the pin there insures that you won’t cut too far.  If that happens, curse a little.  You can sometime rescue the piece with a bit of fusible interfacing.  Better to not cut too far.  Half of the seam (1/8″) is all that’s needed.

Find the 1/4-inch peak of the seam below, and poke the pin in to anchor.  You can leave in that center pin to hold it, and if you are afraid it will slip, it’s okay to put one pin on the backside.  If you can, try to avoid that pin on the right.  Again, the success of a Y-seam lays in the ability of the fabric to move and pivot.

Just as in the first type of seam, start stitching from the left side of the seam, towards that center pin.

When you get to the pin, STOP with your needle down in the fabric.  Remove the pin, then pivot the fabric so that you can match raw edges.  Move the first seam out away from you, as you align the new sides.  It may feel a bit bulky under your foot, but smooth any excess fabric out away from you.

Here you can see that I’ve pivoted, repinned the new raw edges together and am starting down the other side of the seam.

This is what it looks like from the back. That deep fold is the V part of the Y-seam.

The front.  Give it light press.  Resist the urge to saturate it with your pressing goo and mash it flat with your iron.

Sometimes your seam gets a little jig-jaggy.  As long as it’s not too bad, it will be fine.  I did the same kind of stitching process on this one: shorten your stitches as you approach the point, then lengthen them out on the other side.

A better point.  All of these work fine in the quilt, because you haven’t a) stitched it to death, and b) murdered it with your iron.

You can see one type of Y-seam where I joined the green roofs to the yellow houses.  And you can see the other type where I joined the purple roofs to the sky.

Now you know all my dressmaker/quilter tricks: never be afraid of Y-seams again!

One more time, thanks to Leanne, of She Can Quilt, for hosting a series of guest tutorials for the Finish-A-Long Motivational Program.  (Just kidding on the name of it, but it does help get those UFOs out of the closet and onto the bed.  Or wall.)

Elizabeth’s Project Folio–Part III (Bringing it Home)

Project Portfolio Filled_1

Elizabeth’s Project Folio, front and filled with my next project, a bag made of Keiko Goke fabric

Project Portfolio Filled_Back

Elizabeth’s Project Folio, back

Project Portfolio Blue_opened

Elizabeth’s Project Folio, interior of blue folio

These are not only good for holding sewing projects they can also be used for:

• long car trips, holding each child’s stash of car junk
• teaching, corraling all the supplies for each lesson unit
• teaching, holding copied pages in place so they don’t go all over your bag
• errands–one for the Post Office, one holding grocery lists and coupons (you can make that one smaller by adjusting your dimensions), carrying swatches for decorating (one folio for each room you are working on)
• hand-sewing projects, such as cross-stitching a sampler
• knitting, as they are big enough to hold your needles, or needle-kit
• packing for a weekend away (one can hold lingerie, one your workout sweats, one can hold rolled-up T-shirts, etc.)

I’m sure you can think of others.  Send me a note telling me what you used yours for!

Finally, to thank you for your readership, I’m giving away the white flowered project folio to one of my followers or Bloglovin’/Feedly readers.  In your comment (at the end of this post), tell me what you’d use your portfolio for, and tell me how you follow me.  I’ll close this giveaway on early Monday morning (8/26), and send it off.

Project Portfolios in bag

They fit in my tote bag easily.  Because one side is vinyl, you can see what’s in there quickly.  Because the other side is fabric, they don’t stick together and slide out without difficulty.

Reminder: All of these measure roughly 11 x 17.  You are more than welcome to make these for your own use, or sell them in a craft faire, but please please, don’t take any of my tutorial and copy it onto your blog.  Practice Friendly Attribution, if you please, by linking back here, if you would.  And please please don’t steal borrow my content to make your own pattern, and call it your own.

Okay, the folios are in the home stretch. Let’s bring ‘em home!

If you are coming into this tutorial mid-way, see previous posts Part I and Part II.

STEP FOUR: Zipper

Zipper

A zipper is made of two narrow pieces of tape (think of it as stiff fabric ) joined by an interesting plastic coil.  Usually these strips of fabric are hooked together at one end.  Years of no Home Economic Education has scared most sewers when it comes to zippers, but when you think about it as two strips of fabric that have to be sewn into a seam, tempers and anxiety seem to lower.  And when you get to sew the zipper in flat, like in this bag, things couldn’t be easier.  Note: Some of this tutorial is for beginners, so if you are experienced in zipper-putting-in, just scroll on down.

You’ll be stitching this to the interfaced backing piece.  Set aside the fabric lining for a later step.

14 Marking Zipper

(You see the vinyl front window laid on top of the backing in the above photo, but you’ll be sewing the zipper ONLY to the interfaced backing at this point.)

I usually buy zippers a little bigger than what I need, so if you have done the same, lay out your zipper along the 17″ longer edge of the project folio backing.  Put one pin 1/2″ in from the raw edge, and one pin 1/2″ away from the raw edge, as shown up above on the left.

14 Marking Zipper_2

At the outer pin, you’ll be doing a bar tack, which is only a zig-zag stitch done in place.  Set your sewing machine for a wide zig-zag (so it will clear the zipper teeth), your stitch length to zero, and sew the bar tack in place.  Then about 1/2″ away from that towards the zipper stop, trim off the zipper tape.  If you are using a plastic zipper, you can cut right through it.  If you are using a metal zipper, snip the tape to the teeth, then kind of wiggle off the excess zipper tape.14 Marking Zipper_3

14 Zipper_1

One of the challenges of zipper-sewing, is 1) sewing straight and 2) sewing close enough to the teeth, and 3) getting around that zipper pull.  Use a zipper foot (shown above) for the second, and the first?  Practice makes perfect, so don’t worry about it.  I’ll walk you through the third, below.

First, unzip the zipper for about 4 inches, then:

• lay the edge of the zipper tape even with the raw edges, as shown above,
• zipper FACE DOWN
• on the RIGHT SIDE of the interfaced back folio fabric
• along the 17″ side.

I align the outside long edge of the zipper with the raw edge in this application.  Stitch to the top stop (the silver metal piece), re-align the long edge of the tape with the outside edge and stitch for another couple of inches.

14 Zipper_2

Stop, and put the needle down into the fabric.  Then grab the zipper pull tab, and wiggle it past the needle and close the zipper.  Now you have unlimited easy access to sewing it down.

14 Zipper_3

Remember that inner pin, set 1/2″ in from the raw edge?  Sew to that spot.  You want to leave the last 1/2″ unseen.  I usually hit the stitch-in-place button on my sewing machine, but you can also backstitch to secure it.  Now you’ll be attaching the lining to the back–that piece of fabric that is the same size as the back.

14 Zipper Lining

Lay the lining for the back on the zipper.  The zipper is face down so the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric will be facing the WRONG SIDE of the zipper.  I pin the raw edges of the fabrics together in a few spots so I’m not scrambling as I sew.  You’ll be sewing from the OTHER side of things, along the already-stitched line, so FLIP over the assembly, as shown below.15 Zipper 2_1

You’ll begin at the bottom edge of the sewn-in-zipper.  Remember to stay 1/2″ away from the raw edge as you begin.  Stitch along the already-stitched line until you get about three inches from the end.  Stop, and leave the needle in the fabric.  Reach inside and and slide the zipper pull tab down past your needle, wiggling it as you go by the needle, then continue stitching until the edge.

15 Zipper 2_2

Press both sides away from the zipper, then topstitch close to the edge, about 1/8″ away.

16 Zipper_1

The other side is easier because you only have don’t have a lining to deal with.  The zipper is now flat, intalled on the back.  Working on a flat surface, line up the back with the front, aligning the side raw edges, as shown.  Place a few pins anchoring the zipper tape to the front upper edge of the front vinyl window.

16 Zipper_2

Slide the zipper pull tab down a couple of inches, and start stitching.  When you get close to the zipper pull tab, keep the needle in your fabric, and ease the pull tab past your needle, closing the zipper.  Continue stitching.  Remember to STOP stitching 1/2″ in from the other edge.

16 Zipper_3

I was racing through making these, so you get to see my hideous white bar tack on my zipper in white thread.  No one is going to see this, so don’t worry.  But do notice that I stopped 1/2″ away from the side raw edges.

16 Zipper_4

Stitch alongside your first stitching line, about 1/8″ away.  Notice how both stop at the right place, above.  This second stitching will help anchor the zipper tape.  You can stitch 1/4″ away, if you like.

STEP FIVE: Bottom Edge Closure

17 Bottom Seam_1

Remember how the back of this thing is longer than the front vinyl window part?  You’ll now stitch them together.

First, treat the back two pieces as one, pinning them together at the lower edge.

Now, lifting aside the lining on that 2 1/2″ piece on the bottom of the vinyl window, pin the interfaced strip to the back of the folio, matching raw edges, along the 17″ dimension.  Another view is below.

17 Bottom Seam_3

This is taken from the vinyl window side, and you can see it gleaming there in the photo.  But again, you are sewing the interfaced strip along the lower vinyl window to the two pieces of the back, treating them as one piece.  Stitch in a 1/4″ seam, then press to one side, towards the front.

17 Bottom Seam _3

Fold down the loose piece, tucking the raw edge up to the inside, and pin in place, hiding that seam you just sewed.  You can sew this by hand, taking small stitches, or you can machine stitch this closed.

17 Bottom Seam_4

To do that, open up your nifty zipper all the way, and this will slide in right under your presser foot.  Stitch close to the folded edge, sewing it down.  Sorry it’s not such a great photo, but I’m confident you can figure it out.  (Or just sew the edge down by hand.)

With both the bottom seam and the zipper seam completed, your portfolio is now a tube.  Press that seam, keeping your iron away from the vinyl.

STEP SIX: Closing the Sides

19 Sewing Sides

Blurry Photo Apology!

Starting at the zipper edge, line up the sides, pinning occasionally, raw edges even.  The bottom seam will loop around towards the front, so don’t try to force it.  Stitch, then stitch again, 1/4″ inch away.

19 Sewing Sides_2

Trim.  This is a better photo, and you can see how the seams don’t match up to where you think they will at the bottom.  Just let them go where they want to.

18 Side Finish

You can simply zig-zag those side seams to finish them, or make a simple binding.  Cut a piece of fabric about an  inch and 1/2″ wide and a bit longer than your sides (should be about 16 x 1.5″ in a perfect world).  Matching raw edges, sew the long side of the binding strip to the portfolio side seam.  You can pin it, and then flip it over to stitch over the previous stitching, like you did with the zipper, if you want.

18 Side Finish_1

Then fold the long raw edge in and fold the binding over the raw seam allowances.  Pin, as shown above, and below.

18 Side Finish_4

18 Side Finish_2

Stitch close to the folded edge, securing the binding in place.

18 Side Finish_6

Make sure you do not stitch the zipper into your seam.  Lift it up and out of the way.

18 Side Finish_5

Trim the binding even with the side seams, then zig-zag (overcast it) to keep the ends from fraying.  Again, lift the zipper up and out of the way.

20 Folio Flipped Out

Flip the folio inside out and wiggle that end of the zipper to a nice squared-off edge.  Congratulate yourself!  You are done!

Project Portfolio Filled_Interior

Here’s what the other side looks like, interior view.

Project Portfolios

I made a conscious choice not to “box” the lower corners to create a dimensional folio.  I want to be able to lay in flat things (books, patterns, fabric, etc) and then, when done, store them flat.  In use, I haven’t missed the boxed corner at all.  Everything flexes around what I want to put it (refer back to the original post and that overstuffed folio *here.*)

Zipper Pull Ribbon

I thread a bit of ribbon through my zipper pulls to make them easier to grab.  Trim the edges at an angle, and apply a little bit of Fray Chek to them, if you are worried about fraying.

Three Portfolios_corners

Project Portfolio Three_top

Okay, now tell me how you’ll use your flowered Elizabeth’s Project Folio in your comment below, and how you follow me (email, Feedly, Bloglovin’).

˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙
Note: the Giveaway is closed now, but thanks for stopping by!

Project Portfolio Tutorial–Part I

Project Portfolios

A long time ago, in a foreign market, I bought zip portfolios to hold stuff.  But they weren’t always quite right–too small, too rigid–for my projects, too wrong-sized.  So I decided this summer to make my own.

1Project Portfolio

But that’s just a way to lead you into thinking about your fall, now that schools are beginning to start and you can finally finish a sentence — or a seam —  without being interrupted by your offspring or husbands or pets or whatever.  And now you are going to be sewing up a storm, and need a way to keep all your projects organized as you head out to sewing circles, sew days, quilt nights, or just stay home and quilt in your jammies.  Because it’s almost fall, after all, and you can. (My apologies to my Southern Hemispheric readers–just substitute in the appropriate season.)

Project Portfolio_chair

Materials:
Two coordinating fabrics.  One will show on the outside, and the other will be the lining, but will show through the vinyl window
Clear medium-weight vinyl from the upholstery department.  Save the tissue they have with the vinyl–it’s easier to store that way
Fusible medium-weight interfacing
Zipper, approximately 20″ (you’ll be trimming it to size)
Matching thread

(Note: I am using three different fabrics in the following illustrations, so you may see some switching out.)

Project Portfolio Cutting Diagram

STEP ONE: Fusing

2Fusing back piece

Lay the fusible interfacing shiny side (resin-coated side) down onto the Wrong Side (WS) of your outer backing piece.  If you like to live dangerously, don’t use a press cloth while fusing the interfacing to the back in an ordered fashion: overlapping the iron shape, giving it a shot of steam, counting one-two-three-four in each position of the iron.

3Fused Pieces

Lay the interfacing fusible-side down and fuse to TWO of the four narrower pieces that will border your clear vinyl window on the side.

Then fuse interfacing to only TWO of the wider strips, as these will be used on the upper and lower edges of the “vinyl window.”

The results are above: one large rectangle of interfacing fused to main back fabric, and four pieces of interfacing fused to the four strips of main fabric.

4Trim to Interfacing

Trim up so the backing is even with the interfacing.  Try not to fixate on the fact that now your portfolio will be a hair smaller.  It’s really not important what the final dimension is, as you can still pack a ton of stuff in there.  Trust me.

5 Trim Lining

Lay the fused backing piece on top on the lining piece, making sure that both right sides of the fabrics are facing outward.  Pin.  Trim.

6 Trimmed Backing Complete

So this is what you’ll have: a two-sided rectangle.  Unpin the two layers, and set aside for now.

Tomorrow’s post will show STEP TWO: Making the vinyl window front.

All of these folios measure roughly 11 x 17.  You are more than welcome to make these for your own use, or sell them in a craft faire, but please please, don’t take any of my tutorial and copy it onto your blog.  Link back here, if you would.  And please please don’t steal my content to make your own pattern, and call it your own.  Practice Friendly Attribution, if you please.

Working, and in Progress

Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced with this post.

WIP on

First up, re-cover my pin wall.

New Pinwall

(1) How I built my pin wall: 2 sheets of 1/2″ foam core art board taped side by side, covered with gridded flannel bordered by plain flannel.  I wish I had more gridded flannel, but at the time, that’s all I had.  I have seen it at JoAnn’s.  Then I wrapped this layer to the back and stapled in place using really short staples, then covered that with tape. I then affixed it to my wall by using door jamb covers–long rounded metallic bars, each about six feet in length;I used four: two for each side, top and bottom.  I also put a flat washer on two screws and screwed them into the wall at a stud, at the midseam of the foam core art boards.

Pin wall 2

(2 & 3) Over that, I layered this Thermolam Plus, using straight pins to anchor it into place. The fabric really sticks to it – like magic, and when it gets all thready, use one of those sticky roller things that is used to clean off clothes.  NOTE the number on the upper left side (TP970).  That will save your bacon when you go into buy more, because now they’ve renamed it Quilter’s Batt or Fleece or Something or Other, and you just have to go through the bolts to find this magic stuff.

The little pin cushion hangs on my pin wall with giant corsage pins.  I am not a pin-cushion person, although I have many beautiful ones given to me as gifts.  This little one holds these pins which are helpful for holding large swaths of cloth, like when you are smoothing a quilt backing onto a quilt top already on the wall to check for size.  Or for holding necklaces, notices for doctor’s visits, etc.  I put all sorts of stuff along the edges of my pin wall.

Ironing Board Cover DIY

Next up was a new ironing board cover.  I fell in love with this sewing machine fabric when I saw it on the Fat Quarter Shop, and of course they had it to me within two days.  It’s by Timeless Treasures and is pattern # SEW-C1485, if you want some.

I just trace out my old cover, leaving GENEROUS seam allowance width all along the outside edge (like 1-1/2″ and that doesn’t even seem like enough).  Make a casing, leaving an opening at the bottom.  I thread through some old hem tape (notice the lady’s hairdo is right out of the 1980s) but warning: 3 yards is not enough (I had to piece some more on the ends).  I think the picture of the ironing board up on its end looks like one of those bugs that goes into that position when tapped (stink bugs?).  There are many good tutorials online for making ironing board covers, if you do a search.

Alberta Slab

What other works in progress have I been working on?  I made this “slab” for the Alberta Flood quilt block collection, hosted by Cheryl Arkinson of Dining Room Empire.  The deadline is July 30th, and so far she has 276 blocks!

MCM Block July 2013

Finished my block for the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  Deborah of Simply Miss Luella wanted a house block of any kind.  I made my favorite one, and happily, she loves it!  You can find a PDF to download here, where I made one for another bee.

Rhonda's Hot Mitts

And finally, hot mitts for my friend Rhonda for her birthday (which was in June–sorry, Rhonda).  Happy Belated 29th birthday, Rhonda!!  May you see many more 29th birthdays!  Tutorial is here.  It’s also one of my Finish–A-Long projects–that makes TWO down, and many more scary ones to go.

FinishALong Button

And lastly, thanks for you all your sweet comments about going to a retreat.  I’m working my way through replying, as it seemed to strike a chord with many of you.  I appreciate the time you took to write and leave your thoughts–it enriches us all.

Hot Mitts

Hot Mitts

No, this isn’t a reference to our past election and Governor Romney.

Old Hot Mitt

This is in rereference to my hideously stained and abused and damaged kitchen hot mitts.  I went to buy some new ones and didn’t care for the ones at a famous cooking store and at Macy’s–where Martha has taken over everything in the domestic world–there were only hot mitts with ruffles.  Ruffles?  I knew they’d be disgusting looking in short order.  (Ruffles?  I’m still shaking my head.  Very cute, I want the kind of mitt that if I have to use the thumb to scootch things over onto the cooling rack, I won’t worry about how precious those tools are.  Just want them to work.)

Old Hot Mitt1

So one day, I turned the ones I liked inside-out to see how they were made.

Old Hot Mitt 2

Then I traced it with a sharpie onto what was laying around on the counter–an ad from the car dealer.  Actually this ended up being a good idea because it was thicker than regular paper and pretty sturdy.

Old Hot Mitt 3

And after I cut it out, I had a pattern.  But I decided I should allow for shrinkage, because I wash and dry these over and over, so I enlarged it by 10% which yielded the pattern at the end of this post.  Print it out, match up the car writing and making sure your 1-inch guide on the side is really one-inch (every printer is a little bit different), tape it together and you’ve got a good pattern.  I’d actually purchased a pattern but took it back when I realized how easy this was going to be.

Insulated Fabric

Utility Fabric

Go the Big Box fabric store and buy some utility fabric that looks like this: a metallic cotton on the outside, cotton batting on the inside, already quilted together.  Use your coupon.  I bought one yard and I’ll get four mitts out of it. Get yourself some 80% cotton/20% wool batting or some 100% cotton batting, if you don’t have scraps laying around.

Bias Tape Maker

And throw a bias tape maker into your cart, too.  I chose the 1″ version and it worked great. I picked up the Dritz (on the left) and on the right, I show the full complement of Clover Bias Tape Makers.  Either work fine.  They have decent directions on the back of the Dritz.

Layer Up Fabrics

Layer in the following order: (1) Utility fabric, metallic side down  -  then –  (2) your cotton batting – then – (3) your chosen fabric.  I’m using some of Malka Dubrawsky’s first line.  I love it, but I have never figured out how to use it.  This will be perfect as it will brighten up my kitchen every day. Using pins, secure it in a few places.  Cut out what you need by placing your hot mitt pattern down and guesttimating: I think mine ended up about 14″ by 18.”  Roughly.  Quilt all layers together.  Don’t get too precious about it!

Cutting Out1

Now lay out your pattern and cut out one mitt.

Cutting out 2

Reverse the pattern by flipping it over, and cut your second mitt.  Match them up, metallic sides out, then pin in a few places so it doesn’t shift.  Sew from under the thumb all the way around the mitt STOPPING 2″ FROM EDGE.  Leave that edge flapping, as it will be easier to attach the bias tape.

Making Bias Tape

(You can click to enlarge this picture so you can see the writing better.)

Follow the directions on the back of the tape maker package for cuting a bias strip.  Basically you fold the corner down into the fabric, creating a bias edge.  Cut the strips 1 3/4″ wide for a one-inch bias strip.  Feed it through the bias tape maker tool, using a pin to help out the leading edge if you need to.  Then use your iron to set the folds.

Bias Binding

I put two pins on the tape, as I drew it out, and then pressed it.  It sounds WAY more complicated than it is.

Beginning with one of the loose edges, fold the tape over the lower raw edge, and stitch the tape onto the mitt.  I found it easiest to stitch from the “inside” which would be what I would see when I use the mitt.

Again, don’t get too precious about this–just make sure that both folds of the tape are caught in the stitching.  I did one, and then decided I wanted to trim out that seam allowance under the thumb edge for about one-quarter inch up from the lower edge, just to get rid of some bulk.  The world won’t end if you don’t.

Hot Mitt inside

Finish stitching that last two inches, and backstitch to secure.

Hot Mitt binding joining

I also zig-zagged that last two inches to finish it off.  Given that it’s BIAS tape, it’s not going to ravel, but hey.  Just thought it needed it.

Hot Mitt binding finished

Flip your mitt right-side out and admire what you’ve done!

Coasters

I cut some scraps into squares with rounded edges, and used the leftover bias tape to make a couple of coasters.  Don’t examine my stitching, because like I said, I didn’t do anything too precious on this project.  Just sturdy.

Okay, below are the patterns.  Print them out and adjust your printer settings so the inch mark is true, then tape your two halves together.  I scanned my pattern so it’s pretty true; I’m hoping you don’t have to do too much monkeying around.  My hand size? Medium in rubber gloves, so if yours is smaller or larger, use your copier/printed to enlarge or smallerize your pattern.  


Hot Mitt Lower Hot Mitt Upper

Have fun making them!

Hot Mitts final

 

This is one of the projects on my Finish-A-Long listthat I have completed, from Leanne’s Finish-A-Long!

FinishALong Button

Sunshine and Shadow Quilt Tutorial

SunshineShadowBlock

Here’s the recipe for the quilt I gave to my sister-in-law, Janice.  But I think you’ll notice how “lopsided” the block is–and that’s because I wanted to eliminate the sashing step, including it in the making of the quilt.  I also wanted to make this quilt completely from my fabric stash, so I chose colors I had multiples of, in different designs and shadings.  What is sashing?  It’s those long strips that separate blocks from each other and can be part of the design of a quilt, letting each block float in its own little world.  Many modern quilts eliminate them, but I like them occasionally.

Choosing from the Stash

I started with the centers and cut all of them from the same line, but used two versions of the yellow flowers.  Then I pulled out a lot of different fabrics, trying to keep in the same tonality in the blues, and in the yellows, so the quilt top would be harmonious.

1. After cutting, the first step is to sew two blue strips on the sides of the large center block.

SunshineShadow1
2. Sew two yellow blocks on the end of the blue rectangles.

SunshineShadow2

3. Line them up.  After choosing good sets that go well together, stitch the yellow square/blue strip pieces onto the center.  I pressed the seams towards the blue, away from the yellows.  Sew the strips onto the center section.

SunshineShadow3

4. True up, by placing a 9 1/2″ ruler on top.  I found if I trued it up at this stage, the rest of the construction went smoothly.

SunshineShadow4

5. Sew all but one of the blue squares onto the larger yellow strips.  Then get ready to put them all together.  You won’t use all the blue square/yellow strip pieces at this point.  Just set the extras aside.  I wanted to audition how the random yellows and blue fit together, so I took one large block, a yellow strip and a blue square/yellow strip piece, making sure I wasn’t duplicating fabrics in any significant way.

SunshineShadow5

6. I pinned the yellow strip on the bottom, and folded up the other strip and pinned it to where it would eventually be sewn.  Sew on the yellow strip.

SunshineShadow6

Here it is, with yellow strip sewn on, showing that I pressed the seam to the outside yellow.

Pressing

In all cases, first press seam flat to eliminate puckers, wobbly edges, then press the seam open.

SunshineShadow7

7. Sew the blue square/yellow strip piece on the center construction, matching seams, etc.  This is the finished block.

SunshineShadow8

8. Because my pin wall is longer from side to side, than from top to bottom, I rotated the blocks a half turn and laid them out on the wall.  I kept using my digital camera to make sure that there weren’t too many of those darker yellow-gold pieces mushed together, as well as eyeballing a good distribution of the rest of the colors.  The quilt looks a bit strange now, because you are still missing a length of “sashing” on the left side and on the bottom.

SunshineShadow9

9. Because I still wanted to sew these as blocks, I laid out the “sashing” pieces, each with a blue square on them, where they should go. I laid them out, again checking for color and value distribution.  I had to sew that random last blue square onto a yellow strip/blue square piece, then I sewed these pieces onto the adjacent block.  When you replace these new expanded blocks on your pin wall, be careful not to rotate them into a wrong orientation. Use your last digital photo as a guide.

10. Put quilt together:  I put row markers (shown in *this post*) on the blocks on the left side of the wall, in order to keep track.  Then I stitched the rows together, going across.  Stitch rows together, going down, until the quilt top is complete.  I think it goes much faster (have I said this before?) because you are sewing blocks, rather than long strips of sashing.

SunshineShadow FavMuseumShot

Quilt as desired (and my favorite way is calling Cathy and having her do it for me).  I used the extra bits of blue strips I’d cut out, plus extra, to make a scrappy binding.

Okay here’s the honest truth: I started out with a completely different idea for this quilt and cut a whole lot of blue and yellow fabrics into 2 1/2″ strips, but realized that my time was short so I had to step up to a quicker quilt.  That’s when I had the idea of adding the sashing pieces to the block, because sometimes sashing just wobbles and stretches and becomes one pain-in-the-rear step to making a quilt.  This was was much faster, and I think the integrity of the quilt doesn’t suffer for it.  You’ll notice I tried to press to the “sashing” side always, as I think that distinguishes those pieces from the “block.”

SunshineShadowLabel

To make the label, I did the usual method of pressing some fabric to freezer paper, running it through my Epson printer (they have the best inks), bordering it, then stitching it onto the quilt invisibly around the outside edges.  I also like to do it on the inside edge of the border, where the label meets the edging.  No one can tell, but it poofs out less from the surface of the quilt if it has that second round of stitching.

SunshineShadow

BlueYellowFullQuiltwTitles

I’m actually planning to make another like this, as it is really quick, and I like the fact that I can use up my stash.

I seem to have lost a few days here, but with the weekend coming (a holiday weekend!), I hope to find time to dive into some stitching, and some blogging.

Snapshot: Constructing the Double Polaroid Blocks

First, let me say a thank you to Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics, who is hosting WIP Wednesday for us.  Click *here* to return to her blog and see other fabulous Works-in-Progress.

If you missed yesterday’s post about Snapshot, my latest quilt (above), scroll down as there is information for fabric requirements and a basic How-To for Polaroid Blocks.

The first picture (top) is Snapshot in a beauty pose.  This one (above) is the one where she’s in under the fluorescent lights in her doctor’s office, wearing only a flimsy gown that opens in the back.  You know the feeling.  But we need to examine the quilt to see how it’s put together, so I thought you needed a clinical kind of picture. Here you can see some of the variety in the tilting, and in stacking the blocks.  I had some scraps of fabric at the end and late one night made the one at the bottom left into two colors. (I should go to bed earlier, I think.)

I did these in sets.  You’ll end up making about 4 sets, alternating the blue fabric with the green fabric (only use one color at a time), as each stack is made up of 13 blocks.  However, I made a few more of each color, because I doubled up on some colors for variety (you can see it above where there are two blue blocks together).  So make 4 1/2 sets.
For each set of 13 double blocks, you’ll need:
8 strips of either blue or green (don’t mix), cut  1 and 1/2″ wide
2 strips of either blue of green (don’t mix), cut 1 and 1/4″ wide
26 Polaroid blocks, in pairs of two (take some time to match up the ones you want together)

Start by sewing the Polaroid blocks to to the wider  (1 and 1/2″) strip, placing Polaroids face down.  You are sewing this to the TOP of the blocks.

Lay out the strip of blocks and cut the blocks apart.  With scissors.  Remember those?  We finished up our discussion of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Your Brains in class, and the last section talked about tools; when we adapt and adopt a tool, it become an extension of us and we may leave older tools behind if the new one suits us better.  So if you feel like the rotary cutter is an extension of your hand, you may need to practice using scissors again.  Kidding.

Press the fabric away from the block, like this:

Now sew another wide strip on the bottom of your Polaroids.

Here’s four blocks, with the top and bottom borders sewn.  Again, you are using the 1 and 1/2″ width fabric.

Lay out a strip of the narrower fabric (1 and 1/4″) and place your blocks side by side, matching up your pairs.  Separate them by about 1/4″ at the bottom.   I pinned them so it would be easier to transfer to the sewing machine.  Sew the first set (one side) onto the center strip. You should be able to get about 7 Polaroids per strip.

As you sew on the first set, pay attention matching the edge of the Polaroid block to the edge of the center strip, letting those little bits of borders stick out.  You can cut them off in an earlier stage if you need to, but I did mine after sewing them.

NOW trim off the little edges if they bug you.  For sure, trim off the big overhangs!  Just lay out the strip as shown, and cut the overhangs off, even with the long strip.  DO NOT CUT THEM APART!!!   Let me repeat.  DO NOT CUT THEM APART!!

Now, take your “right leaning” and “left leaning” PDF printouts from the last post, and set one of them at a time on the table while you do the next step.  I made all the greens to lean to the LEFT. All my blues lean to the RIGHT.  It feels backwards, but here we go.  I used the picture to get in my mind which Polaroid should be 1/4″ up and which one should be 1/4″ (or the width of that top border) down as I’m lining them up along that center strip.

Notice in this high-quality illustration that the blocks lean to the right.  To accomplish this, you have to offset them when you sew them to the center strip.  The left block is “lower” on the strip, and the block on the right side is “higher.”  This is why I used two colors: to keep things straight.

But my greens tilt the OTHER way, so I used the “left leaning” diagram to help me.

(Diagram in action!)

Again, to get the tilt, you need to jog the one on the top down about one-fourth inch.  What I did was line up the edge of the green border  with the top of my center picture in my Polaroid block.  (I know this sounds confusing, so just look at the pictures.) This will give you that offset you need in order to tilt your block.  Do this with the remainder of your pairs.  Pin, then stitch.

When working with the blue, I reversed the sewing, stitching the blocks on the right-hand side of the center strip first, then the left.

Here it is sewn.  You can really see the slipped alignment here.  Press this seam toward the center strip.  See two steps down, for the why of pressing.

Cut these blocks apart now; the cut will be angled to fit the skewed alignment.

Here’s one that’s been cut apart after sewing.  Here you can see the shift.

And in comparing these two blocks (the one directly above and the one below), you can see the difference the pressing makes.  The pressed edges can either make a block look like it’s resting on the top or like it’s “sunken” into the strips surrounding it.  I wanted my Polaroids to have that look of being bordered by strips, not the strips “supporting” and “lifting” up the Polaroids.  So that’s why all the pressing directions indicate which way to press the seams.

Here you can see the different pressing.  All right Goldilocks, you are through the deep scary forest and just about to claim that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Using the wider (1 1/4″) strip again, sew the outer borders onto both sides of your block assemblage. Cut apart.

You should have 13 blocks that look like this.  Now comes more fun, more forest.

Get out that PDF picture again.  Lay it at the top while you trim your blocks.  The size you want to trim to is 4 1/2″ by 7 1/2″.

You need to tilt your ruler a bit, making sure you leave at least 1/2″ space between the edge of your white Polaroid interior block and the planned cutting line on the outside edge of your ruler.  (This is why you make extra blocks, if you get my drift.)  I tried to vary my cuts, because I think one of the charm of these Polaroid blocks is their wonkiness when set into their frames, much like a child would paste vacation photos into an album.  So sometimes I was just over 1/2″ from that edge, and other times I was closer to 3/4″.

Keep at eye on that 4 1/2 line, as well as the 7 1/2″ line.  Be a juggler, keeping all these things in mind as you go for your first cut, slicing off the top of the block.  Then flip it around, putting the cut edge at the bottom.

Lay the 4 1/2″ line of your ruler at the bottom, lining up your freshly cut edge.  Check your measurements.  You want the bottom lined up, but you also have to check that the block is centered so when you cut off that right side, you’ll have an evenly centered  7 1/2″ block.  If you are good to go, slice off that right-hand side.

At first, I flipped it around again, as I’d only have to pay attention to one last side (shown above).  But after a while I became confident enough to slice off the top, >flip<, slice off the right and top edges again, then >flip< cut the last edge off.  Which is what I’m doing in the picture above.

I took this photo mid-cutting to show you how the block can feel skitty-wampus when you look at the first two cuts.  But then you slice off the two side edges and you are Through The Forest Again!  In the arrangement of my quilt, I used 28 blue double-Polaroid blocks and 24 green.  Make enough that you have some to play around with, and if you like decorations on the back of your quilts, include some for that too.

NEXT POST:  Putting the quilt top together, and one day closer to my surprise giveaway.

Portuguese Tile Quilt

I started with this picture of some tiles from Portugal.

Then I mocked up a quilt in my Quilt-Pro 5 program.  I mapped it out with 8″ squares, set 6 across in 6 rows, with a 4″ border, yielding a 56″ square quilt.

I’m using the Madrona Road fabric, as I’m always wading into my outdated stash to try a new quilt, and wanted to take this new line for a test drive.  Because of the barn and the truck, I thought back to my days of Amish quilting and went with black for that windmill blade, just like the tile in Portugal, shown above.  Besides every quilt needs some contrast and this line reads to me, for the most part, as in the middle-intensity value range, a favorite of mine and nearly every other quilter.  (I have to work to get the darks and the lights into my stash.)

To cut out the large pieces, I laid out my fabric RIGHT SIDES UP, and cut a rectangle that was 7″ by 4 1/2″, then lay the template on the rectangle (see picture below), and sliced it into two. Here’s the template: PortugueseTileWindmilltemplateSM.

Print it out so you’ll have the pieces to use as a guide for cutting.  (Okay, full disclosure.  I at first didn’t lay the fabric RIGHT SIDE UP, and have quite a few pieces that are backwards, ensuring that I’ll be making this again. So try not to screw up like I did.)

I could have either cut all the black pieces according to a template, or figured out a way to make it easier.  I went with the second.  Cut a rectangle 5 3/8″ by 2 3/4″ and then slice it from corner-to-corner, diagonally.  You will have dog ears you’ll have to cut off, if that’s a consideration for you.

Cut 72 pieces of the blue line, 72 pieces of the pink/orange fabrics and 144 black triangles (that’s 72 rectangles, cut in two).

Lay a triangle across the larger piece.  To get it lined up, put the black on top, with the left point sticking 1/4″ out over the edge.  Don’t worry about that right-hand side longer point.  Stitch.  Press towards the black.

Now lop off those points, by truing this block up to 4 1/2″ square (see below).

I’ve laid them out on my  pin wall.  I don’t have enough of them to do the REAL work of laying them out, because I’m headed downstairs to make some corn-shrimp-coconut soup for dinner, but I’m thinking I do want to mix up the different types of fabric within the pink/orange group and the blue group.

Thanks for you nice atta’ boy comments yesterday.  I took to catch up on the speeches from the Democratic Convention (remember, I’d assigned the watching of these to my students, so feel like I need to keep up), and cut and sewed my cloth.  It’s amazing the difference a day makes.  I liked what Betty said, that this exhaustion must be in the zeitgeist or something.  But after a break of a day, I may even feel like grading, knowing I have this little project to come back to throughout the day.

Village Houses: Joybells Ring in Heaven’s Street

When I was at our sewing group, Lisa brought out her “house” quilt, the earliest group quilt that we’d attempted together.  You saw hers.  Here’s mine:

We had the common fabrics to use of the fairy print (on navy) and the pink striped (shown in some of the houses).

And here we are: Tracy, Lisa, Susan (who has moved away) and me, all holding up our quilt squares.  I love how they are all laid around the sofa everywhere.  And I love seeing that houses quilt in the background (#14 on my 100 quilts list, made 10 years earlier in 1988).

Detail.  I wanted it to have bits and pieces of a neighborhood so I included those things in each deep border above and below the houses.  I guess at the time it had significance, as I notice some World Wide Web fabric there (the earth globe above).  The internet was just getting popular then — seems like a millenium ago.

This one’s my house.  I guess my fairy was tired and lay down on the front walkway.

Label.

I entered into Road to California in 2000; here’s what I wrote on the entry form:

As I was designing all the houses, I tried to include a wide variety of styles, to illustrate the diversity of a street in Heaven, a celestial neighborhood that would be knit together in love and faith. In the upper and lower borders, I placed activities that the people in the houses might do: getting together with friends, outdoor activities, celebrating holidays, and of course, quilting.  The name of this quilt comes from an old saying that explains that when a child is given a home, “Joy-bells ring in Heaven’s street.”

You know those things you buy at quilt shows, like the panel above.  Whenever are you going to use them, if not for backs?

Okay, here’s a few of the houses.  The links underneath each illustration are templates for each house.  They are PDF download files, but I’d ask you to remember that since I was a novice at this software at that time, they aren’t perfect.  Some have a lot of pieces, others are more streamlined.  A mix is best, if you’re making a village.

1930s Prairie House ESE

BackPorchHouseESE

HouseintheVillageESE

RiversideAveHouseESE

SmallSchoolhouseESE

StLouisHouseESE