Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Quilt Designs

Quilt On!

I didn’t forget to blog this time … I just ran out of time. There was quilting to be done!

I managed to get the Grandma quilt done, but just under the wire (23 minutes to spare …). I didn’t even have a chance to wash it. I told her that if it ever needs to be washed, she’s to ask me to do it. I need to make sure no colours bleed. There’s a lot of white on that quilt!!! I did do a test of all the fabrics soaking in hot water and no dye came out, so maybe she’ll be okay if it gets washed without me. Let’s not tempt fate though, alright Grandma??

Let’s go!

Last we spoke, we had the quilt burrito on the table and ready to quilt. As usual, I started with the center. It’s the hardest part to quilt because it has the thickest quilt roll taking up space in the throat. I find it easier to do the hard part first when I’m all fired up to work and gradually reward and encourage myself to keep going as I get to easier and easier sections. First though, the planning. At work, I’ll go through lull periods once in a while. They’re usually only a few days long when the last project is all but wrapped up and the new project hasn’t been issued yet. It can get deadly dull, so I try to have a few personal projects to work on at these times. During the last lull, I just couldn’t get this quilt out of my head, so I took the opportunity to doodle quilt designs on a copy of the quilt top template during a meeting. Green is for the designs focused around the big stars and pink is around the small stars. I came up with most of these ideas while I was quilting the top, but it felt good to see it on paper! I decided to be daring and try to quilt *gasp* FEATHERS in the border. We’ll see how I did!

I also picked out the thread before quilting. White is for the white bits (duh), mint is for the small green-and-purple stars, green is for both the big and small green-and-yellow stars, and the purple is for the big purple-and-green stars. I tried to pick something that would blend well on both sides of the the star … except the purple. I went for broke on the purple thread. What can I say – I really like that purple thread! This is the new Glide thread that I bought two cases of back in the new year. It is a HUGE improvement over the 40 weight Superior Threads “So Fine” thread. My sewing machine does not like quilting with that stuff. I’m using it for piecing right now to use it up.

I just wanted to highlight the star blocks, so I used point-to-point straight lines to “point” at the stars. I used arcs and loops inside the stars. I was mostly playing with designs on this quilt. I messed up a good portion of them, but when the quilt is on the bed, you can’t even tell unless you’re looking at each individual block. 🙂 The mint green thread blended in perfectly on the small star, don’t you think? One last thing I did on this block after I put it back on the machine is I added one extra arrow line on the bottom triangle. I know all the others only had three, but because I left such a big gap, it was more noticeable to have three lines with a big gap than one triangle with an extra lines. Things that are good to know for the future!

After the center was done, I did the top and bottom, then left and right. I did not do the borders at this stage – I left that for the end so I could just spin the quilt and keep all the bulk off to the side of the sewing machine. This also made me less nervous to quilt the feather borders because I wasn’t also focusing on fighting the quilt bulk in the throat. Every time I completed a side, I had to drag the quilt downstairs to re-roll it for accessing the next edge. The joys of working in small spaces! The good thing about this is it helped me catch the one or two times that I accidentally sewed down a flap on the backing. ARRRRRG!!! I’d rip them out at the table and mark them with safety pins. Once I was finished everything (or if I got close to a pin while wuilting a different section, I hunted for pins and fixed any mistakes I had to rip out.

Feathers!! I’d never ever done them before this quilt and everyone online who tries them for the first time complains long and loud that they’re really hard. I was super nervous!!! As you go through life, you’ll find one or two things that just come naturally to you that everyone else seems to be struggling to do (I’m looking at you, math nerds. Your awesome brains suck. 😛 ) For me, it’s feathers. There are some patterns that feel super natural for me to make (like the wishbones or “fake cursive” I used in the eagle quilt). Thankfully, feathers were one of those things! I was actually happy how they turned out!

This part of the blog is where things fall apart a bit. While rushing to finish, I forgot to take pictures. Actually, I didn’t even remember to take pictures of me giving it to my grandmother for her birthday or of it on her bed for over a week. That’s okay, though, because I did eventually get a picture of it on her bed. She was so so happy with her quilt and that makes all the work totally worth it! 🙂

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing · Quilt Designs

A Return to the Quilting

So … I didn’t start with either of the projects I have coming due. Who’s surprised?? No one? Me either. 😛

First, I got distracted by a new project I’ve been thinking of doing for some time now. I figured it would be super easy and super fast, so why not start there? I’m making sleep masks. 🙂 I’m extremely light-sensitive when I’m trying to sleep – oh, the wars over the lights that my brother and I fought as kids – and husband is often up later than me when he’s on call. Solution? A sleep mask. I’ve bought a few over the years – I usually wear out one a year – and thought, “Why don’t I just make them out of my scraps instead?”

First, I drew a template using a current sleep mask on to batting and cut it down. The pictures show version 2. Since I have a long, thin nose, some masks are uncomfortable because they put too much pressure on the bridge of my nose, so I cut the nose curve higher on version 1 and even higher on version 2. I think I have it about right now. Next step was to cut some scrap fabric the same size as the batting template. I had some long pieces of De La Luna that I couldn’t throw away (Again – no one shows surprise!), so I cut them up for this project. I tried to get the little butterflies to land in the middle of the mask. I was only successful with one, but they still function perfectly well as masks. I decided to use some thin elastic I had in my sewing kit to make the string around. Remember to put the elastic inside the mask before sewing!!! Guess what happened to version 1? Yeah … and remember to leave a gap at the top to pull the mask inside out. It has to be big enough that the fabric will fit through when bunched up. That part I did remember!

Once the mask was flipped out, I used my fingers to push out all the edges for a smoother look, pinned the open top in place, and pressed it with an iron to get a crisp line. Then it was simple to run a 1/8″ topstitch around the edge. Voila! Sleeping mask for Auntie M! I even modeled it for you.

Mmm so sexy. 😀 On version 2, I matched the thread colour for the top stitch, but on version 1, I just wanted to finish it to see what worked/didn’t work.

On to distraction #2! Wait … you didn’t think the sleep mask was the only thing keeping me from the work I was supposed to be doing, did you? Tut tut. Distraction #2 – a cousin called me last week to announce … her daughter is expecting a sister in January! 😀 Yay more family babies!!! The last time any babies were born to our family, I was crocheting baby blankets. I get to quilt a baby blanket instead this time!!! 😀 TO THE FABRIQUE ESTATES!!!

I have a few (very very few, surprisingly) panels in my stash, most of which are for babies. Since it’s super early, we don’t know the gender of the little one. That doesn’t really matter anyways for this cousin – when she was expecting her first daughter (and knew it was a girl), she decorated her baby room with seafoam green, royal purple, and robin-egg blue. She and I are cut from the same cloth! 😀 I decided to go with the owls panel I bought last winter. Kelly from The Cottage Quilter demoed the panel at quilt guild and as soon as I saw it, I had to have one. I’m so glad now that I did!! I also pulled one of my stocks of solid fabrics and coordinated up a cool tone and a warm tone collection of 4 fabrics each. Everything is now set aside now until winter – I have to work on the other quilts – but it felt so cool to be able to go into my nicely-sorted room and just pull out what I needed. 🙂 Plus, I’m in design mode for the new quilt!! I love design mode. 😀

Finally … on to what I’m supposed to be doing!

First order of business: Grandma quilt. I know the window for getting at least one block before class this week is swiftly closing, but I wanted to have this done first. And I was so close!!! I had no idea that I had one row to sew on, then the border, then done! Why did I avoid doing this quilt for so long! It was almost finished! Oh well … It’s finished now. 😀 Because it’s huge, I had to hang it on the clothes line in order to attach the border. Snowdog was such a little jerk!!! He wanted to go in the house (because it was hot out and we have A/C inside now), so he kept stepping on the part of the quilt I was working on to get my attention. I was afraid he’d track dirt on it, so I gave into his demands. Spoiled boy!

When I measured it on the clothes line, it came up to 93″ square. The Cottage Quilter had a summer sale a few weeks ago, so I’ve already picked up the backing and the batting. I’ll baste the quilt sometime this week – probably Thursday after quilt class – and get cracking on the quilting part. I only have two weeks (not including the week we’re in) to get the quilting done and we’re going to the family cottage for the August long weekend cause Auntie M needs a break! A little pressure never hurt anyone, right? Oh, yeah … there’s also an interview to prep for next week and we have to finish the shed painting project … *le sigh* I’m just not going to be able to quilt it as extensively as I quilted Dan’s. That’s fine, I didn’t really intend to do it that intensely, but I did want to do a medium amount of quilting on it! Chop chop Auntie M.

Final sewing adventure (man I got busy this week!): the BOTM. The one I need to have at least one of so I don’t get dinged with a $5 fine? Oh, and it’s complicated … yay … It’s paper piecing. Paper piecing is cool because you put the fabric on the back side side, the sew through the paper following the line, flip it over, press back the top fabric, and like magic – it’s perfect! It’s also annoying because it’s all angles and I don’t cut my fabric to match it very well, but I managed to get three birds done all the same! That’s more than I expected of myself!! There are supposed to be 5 large and 7 small birds strutting across the row. I’ll probably do what I did with the Dresden plates and finish them before I start the next row. Please oh please … next month be easy!!! I would have taken the model picture on the quilt topped cutting station … but it was occupied. Animals, I tell you …

~M

Finished Projects · Sewing Room

Fabrique Estates – Now Open!

It’s finally finished!

In case you don’t remember, I was working on finishing an old Victorian cupboard that my mother had given to me when she moved. There were several coats of very ugly paint on it that I wanted to get off. I put a layer of paint remover on it and got it down to the last layer of paint. Then I threw a tarp over it, went on a quilt retreat, and got too busy to deal with it. 😀

When I got back to it, I started off sanding by hand. I did the whole top of of the cabinet by hand. It took two days. Half-way through the second day, I decided to dig out my husband’s belt sander for the rest. Even if I made a mess of it, it was never going to be an expensive antique. You can see that someone filled in half the doors with poly-fill when it split (which is the reason the thing got painted instead of varnished). Someday, my husband wants to take off those doors, dig out the poly-fill and replace it with epoxy, but for now I just wanted this project DONE. And I didn’t botch it too badly with the belt sander, so bonus! This work took a day, with one more day to hand sand the places that still have paint (mostly around the hinges).

At this stage, I needed to do something about the strip around the top piece. I sanded off most of it, but I couldn’t get all of it, especially in the corners. There’s also existing paint under the lip on the front of the top piece that I couldn’t get off. I decided to paint just those bits to hide the old paint, so off to the local paint shop I went for some black chalk paint. I popped on two layers of the black paint, then decided to move on applying a finishing oil to the rest of the cupboard. I’m not a fan of staining and varnishing – I prefer finishing oil. I chose tung oil over the family favourite linseed oil for a couple of reasons. Tung oil is an indoor-only oil (linseed protects both indoor and outdoor surfaces), but since this is an indoor piece, this is a non-issue. I only needed to wait 24 hours between applications for the oil to cure instead of the 72 hours for linseed oil!!! I would have been all month at this with linseed oil! Also, while they both have a strong wood sealant smell, linseed oil smells stronger and lasts much, much longer. Stinky quilt fabric?? I don’t think so!!!

One of the cool things that came out of the oil finish was the colour. As soon as the oil went on, the unit developed a reddish look. I really like how it turned out! Maybe it was made with red pine? That would account for the colour, at least. I wound up putting two coats on the front and side and four coats on the top. Each little cubby got a good scrubbing out with dishsoap and water, the unit dried while the last coat cured, then the fabric condo came inside to be installed in its forever home!

Now presenting – Fabrique Estates!

To make it easier to slide the fabric in and out, I cut up shelf liners from a couple of old pillow cases. I know there’s still a door missing. No worries – it’s coming eventually, it’s just not finished yet. I was more focused on getting the unit done and out of the elements. The last door can wait until the weather gets a little cooler. It’s been +30 degrees Celcius here all week … and it’s been even hotter inside than outside. We’re getting a new furnace installed next week and with it is coming central air conditioning. I CANNOT WAIT. We have a window unit downstairs in the living room/work room so we can get some work done during the week, but the unit we had in the upstairs bedroom broke at the end of the season last fall and we’ve been toughing it out until the installation date. When I was upstairs folding fabric and re-installing the latches, the sweat was just pouring off my face!! Sewing is officially on hold until after next week! I have a dream of getting the pressing board I’m making for the top done. I should be able to do most of that downstairs in the cooler work area, so maybe I’ll just focus on that for now.

Would you like a fabric tour? Of course! I’ll show you around! 😀

First, the missing square. In the bottom two cubbies are my backing fabrics. I have a couple of cool ones that I picked out on sale for future projects I have planned, but the rest are just old, clean sheets. They’ll be perfect backings for practice quilts or learning block quilts. The top right contains what is left of my mother-in-law’s stash’s raid. I put quite a dint in that stash! The left top is fabric that needs to be taken out, folded, and re-sorted. The heat was getting to me by this point. 😛 Cool thing about these little latches. One of the original latches broke when the unit was getting transferred home. This isn’t the first time this has happened – Mum already replaced a broken latch with one she found at a Home Hardware when we were still living in Orillia (before Y2K – yes I’m getting old!!!). After much hunting online, I found the neatest manufacturer in Quebec City – Old Quebec Hardware. They make antique-looking hardware for cabinets and one of the latches they offer was an exact match to the replacement my mother had added! The cost and the shipping were both reasonable (considering buying original hardware off eBay would have been FIFTY DOLLARS EACH PLUS SHIPPING!!!), so I bought two for symmetry on the lower doors. They look pretty good!

The Fabrique Estates would not be complete without my Tula Pink stash!!! I might have a wee little addiction going on here … but I have a solution that I’ll outline later.
Picture 1: On the right side at the top are all my solids bundles. The second row of solids are the Tula coordinating solids, cause gotta match!! Right?? You can also see the Tula stash overflow at the very bottom with more to-sort-later fabric jammed in the middle.
Picture 2: LOOK AT THE STASH LOVELINESS!!! 😀 The top two cubbies are mostly All Stars on the left with Zuma on the right. Both of these will eventually be made up into kid quilts for the niblings (the plural of niece and nephew … LOVING THIS WORD!!!) as they come along. In the bottom left, you can see the Pinkerville line that we all know is going into my eldest niece’s quilt this fall. And on the right … the line that started the obsession. It’s my De La Luna stash!!! This is going to be made into a quilt for Auntie M!!!! No sharing!!! Although … I ordered 2 meters of each fabric, so I’m probably going to have sooo much left over … MOAR QUILTS FOR AUNTIE ME!!! (not a typo 😉 ) If you’re super curious to see what the different lines look like, you can wander over to tulapink.com to see the different fabrics unfolded.
Picture 3: Other little stashes. I’ve got my Boundless fabric bundles – you can see one on the bottom right with coordinated thread!!! That’s going to be for my sister’s quilt whenever I get started on it. You can also see more of the Fairy Lights glow-in-the-dark collection (originally destined for the eldest niece quilt before Pinkerville was unveiled to the world) and the cutest Peter Pan fabric you’ve ever seen by Sarah Jane from Michael Miller Fabric. I have a plan for that fabric already, but realized I needed just a little more to make it work. It’s in the mail now – as soon as it arrives, I’ll re-fold it to stack in the cubby like the Fairy Lights.

I’m still keeping my great-grandfather’s cupboard in this room. Again – fabric needs to be sorted a bit, but this is where I intend to store my kits, my patterns, and my fabric scraps. The fabric you see was supposed to be made into clothes some time ago … future me, to work!!

I emptied two large totes into the cupboard!!! That’s a lot of fabric! I definitely have more than I need at this point (although compared to other people’s stashes!!! But I’m not comparing …). I have a plan for the future – no more totes. I can only buy what I have space for in Fabrique Estates. If there’s no space, either a current tenant gets evicted or the new applicant does not get to come home with me. 😀 Tough I know! The exception will be for batting. I will turn one of these two totes into my batting tote. Batting isn’t cheap and it’s better to get it on sale than buy at full-price when you need it. THAT’S IT THOUGH. No extra fabric!! Here’s a Snowdog picture with the empty totes. He’s proud of me! 😀 He is also not enjoying the heat. I wonder if he dreams of snow?

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing

Retreat Distractions

I meant to get this post up sooner, I really did … but then I changed what I was doing, so I had to wait until I was finished. 😛

The mini-distraction project at quilt retreat was a charm square tote class taught by the always-amazing Kim Boaro of FibreChick. The idea was to have a project to use charm packs from our stashes, although Kim did have fabric and some charm packs for sale at the retreat. Charm packs are 5″x5″ pre-cut squares from a fabric line (roughly 40 squares to a pack). I impulse purchased the most adorable bee-themed charm pack last winter when we were first talking about getting into beekeeping, so I knew exactly what I would use for the project! Of course, that didn’t stop me from replacing the empty spot with a new charm pack from FibreChick … It’s going to be a Christmas present. DON’T JUDGE ME!!!

Since I’ve already made a charm-pack purse (although I cut the fabric myself for the purse, remember?), I decided to go with some of the suggested alterations she had to the pattern. Instead of it being rows of blocks, I decided to stagger the blocks so I wouldn’t have to focus on making my points meet (sneaky!) The one nice thing about this fabric line is that only one of the included fabrics is directional – the ones with the writing on them. I had to make sure that I laid them out the same way for each side of the bag (5 across, 4 down on each side). Of course, I didn’t plan for Morgan error, so when I assembled it, the writing was sideways instead of facing the up-and-down. I actually kind of prefer the look! And the writing is pointing the same direction on each side, so all good! I used the leftovers from one of the fabrics from the husband quilt for the liner and some of the cut off batting from the husband quilt … using up scraps!!! (I also bought the fabric I needed for the strap from FibreChick … IT STILL COUNTS AS STASH BUSTING)

Laying out the fabric patterns

After sewing the squares in rows and sewing the rows together off-spaced, the instructions wanted me to stitch in the ditch around the squares. It does look nice on the sample bag, but I wanted to try something different. When I eventually start to make a hexie quilt (little hexagons), I wanted to use a blanket stitch to machine quilt them. Perfect practice opportunity! And I got to do a little FMQ at quilt retreat, which always makes me happy. 😀 I played two rounds of thread chicken … AND WON!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Thread chicken is where you’re trying to finish your project (or your section) as the thread is running out and you’re playing to finish before it runs out. Also works for yarn – I do not win at yarn chicken ever. Thread seems to be my jam. 😉

I got the bag together just under the wire and thought it looked so cute! It’s an extra-big sized tote – it even comfortably fits a project box! I didn’t completely finish it off – I left the lining opening un-stitched. Why? Because there is supposed to be a pocket inside and I ran out of time to make one with my scraps. I was toying with the idea of not putting in a pocket. Because the tote is so big, I’ll probably be using it to transport large items (LIKE QUILTS!!!) to the beach or weekend visits, but in case I want to bring just the tote, it’s nice to have pockets to easily find keys or phones. So … guess what I suddenly decided I needed to do last night … at 11PM … while waiting for husband to come home from working nights … I don’t do well when I’m left alone in the house.

First step – fix the liner. I had to rip the sides out of the liner so the pocket fit the width of the bag. The only reason any of this worked was because I made the liner too big by accident when I first made it. At the time, I thought it wouldn’t matter because it’s in the big and you can’t see that it’s a little big. Thank goodness I just left it as-is! I also ripped open the bottom of the bag a bit more so I could run the stitches on the pocket sections easier and to add stabilizer better. Since the pocket has lots of fabric and stabilizer, it’s really heavy, which means I have to bolster the single layer of fabric liner so it holds the pocket without collapsing. This is not the right way to add stabilizer AT ALL, but it was what I had to work with. On to the pocket!

I sewed all the liner scraps together to make a pocket, but it was only big enough for one side, so I got the mis-cut scraps from the drawstring bag to make up the other side of the pocket. Popped a little stabilizer on the back of the pieced side, stuck it into the liner, and then re-stitched the liner sides. I decided to use a specialty stitch on the pocket bottom and to create pocket sections. Guess what specialty stitch my sewing machine has … HONEYCOMB STITCH!!! How perfect does this look??

Finished product! Both sides! I hung them in my lilac trees for a pretty background. Love me some lilacs. 😀 Now to finish off a big quilt to carry in it!!!

I mean … go to the beach and get some sun so I stop looking like a mountain goblin …

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing

A Story About Yarn UFOs

That was not supposed to be the title, but this blog entry earned it.

I’ll explain.

Back when I first started sewing … a year ago … on my birthday in January, funnily enough … the very first thing I made was a pillow case. The class was offered by a local online fabric store (now closed) and hosted at our local yarn store, Stix and Stones. In case you were wondering, yes, I knit (*cough*CROCHET!!) as well. I have … three? … yes, three projects on needles right now. I keep telling myself that I have to finish the oldest project before starting anything new (two years and counting … 😥 ), but I keep wanting to do something different! I think that’s why I’m so focused on finishing what I start quilt-wise instead of having a ton of projects in boxes. The UnFinished Objects (UFOs) can really weigh on you!

ANYWAY … rabbit hole exited … my first project was a pillow case. I had literally never ever touched a sewing machine before this class. I did try to get Red, my mum’s old sewing machine, running during my honeymoon, but that failed for a couple of reasons. Reason #1 – never.EVER. get a puppy on the first day of your honeymoon. You parents out there – remember your newborn? The first few weeks (more like months … for some of you poor poor souls, years) were my first two weeks with a puppy. Up every two hours to pee, like clockwork, and absolutely no rush about doing the business (unless, of course, it’s my fault we didn’t get outside right away – then puddles abound!). I would literally stay up long enough in the morning to make sure my new husband was out of bed and watching the little monster before passing out for 4-5 hours. Even he admits that the Snowdog ruined our honeymoon – and he’s a guy!! They don’t usually grasp these concepts! Back to the sewing machine … Reason #2 sewing failed was because the sewing machine had (I found out much, much later while talking to my mother) never been cleaned in all the years she owned it. She got it before I was born!!!! And I’m over 30!!!! Poor Red! She was so packed full of lint, I was pulling out solidified wads with my nail file. When we got home from the horrormoon ( 😀 ), off Red went to The Sewing Machine for a cleaning. By the time I got her back, I had moved on to better things (the two-years-in-progress yarn project, ironically) and Red was tucked into the cupboard for a later sewing attempt, which turned out to be the pillow case class last year.

See? The train of thought always comes back to the station!! It just sometimes takes the scenic route through my head doing so. Poor husband – the long rambling boring stories are the bane of his existence. 😀

Back on track. Project #1, in January 2018 – pillow case. Definitely an excellent learning project for sewing n00bs (pronounced n-oo-bs, as in newbies – oh, by the way, I’m also a computer nerd by trade. “n00bs” is a nerdy computer gaming term. I know – I’m all over the map today). Project #2, in February 2018 – a lined drawstring bag designed by Jeni Baker. The class was hosted by the same person who taught the pillow case class and she walked us through the basics of actually creating something (verses sewing some straight lines and pulling everything inside out). Again ironically, once the bag got home, I immediately dropped a knitting project into it that I was having trouble completing. The project is still there. Any guesses what that was??

Oh screw it … I’m taking a picture. You get three mentions on the blog, you deserve to have your picture took.

It’s hard to see in the picture, but it’s eventually going to be a Wonder Woman shawl. The pattern (by Carissa Browning) is available on Ravelry. It will be beautiful … when (let’s be honest … IF) it ever gets done.

At this point, I changed the title of the blog entry. I really should be starting the rest of this on a new entry, but I can’t justify posting a yarn project in a quilting blog, so on we go to what was supposed to be the point of this update.

I ordered some scrap cuts of some fabric I love (but am too faint of heart to cut into) from Troll Brothers Quilt Design back at the start of the year. It came in the same package as the Tula Pink Pinkerville collection. The scrap cuts come from the Fairy Lights collection by Lewis & Irene fabrics. I had originally thought of using this line for my niece’s quilt when I get time next winter, but then Pinkerville released and I couldn’t help myself. 😀 I decided to make another lined drawstring bag for my niece, since I was going to be seeing a lot of her while staying with my parents. Just for clarification – I only have the two nieces. The oldest is 4 and the youngest is 16 months. In the future, I intend to spread my love (and treasures) more evenly, but the 16mth old doesn’t understand gift-giving yet. I made sure to spend lots of one-on-one time with her, which I think makes a bigger impact at this stage. She did get one of the two dolly quilts I made last year and I intend to make her quilt after completing her sister’s. I know, I know – I don’t need to make excuses to you, but I like to maintain clear air. 🙂

The scrap cuttings were the perfect size for the project. I think I have a 2″ square of each left for MY scraps pile. The larger print became the body of the bag and the pink-with-white-polkadot fabric was the cuff around the top where the drawstring runs through. As this is a lined drawstring bag, I rooted around in my scraps bin for something that would work for the liner. I found an antique-looking length of thin white cotton. Remember the Ugly Row fabric? This came from the same pile and I never used it. Who ever uses off-white, especially old off-white? It makes a perfect no-one-ever-sees-it lining for a drawstring bag, though! And there was lots to fit!

Did you notice the key word there? WAS. Yeah … There was lots until I cut it wrong …

The first cut was a strip of fabric, 12.5″ wide by 21″ long. It was to be sub-cut in half to make two pieces that are 12.5″ x 10.5″. I successfully cut the first long strip, then moved on to cutting the next two pieces. I cut them one at a time, lining up my ruler and making the cut each time. After cutting both pieces, I thought, “Huh, those look kinda small …”

LOOK AT THAT. I lined it up at eleven and a half and cut it. TWICE. These are relatively big pieces to come out of a scrap pile!! I could have smacked myself! There was no way that the remaining strip would work, it just looked too small, but I measured it anyways …

IT’S BARELY BIG ENOUGH. I usually cut 0.5-1 inch big so I can square off the fabric properly, but I’d already been given a lucky star, so no more wishes from me! FYI – You’re not supposed to use the measurements on your mat to cut because they aren’t accurate enough. I know that. But they’re accurate enough for a rough measurement of how much you need/have.

Now that everything was cut to the CORRECT size, it was a relatively simple job to sew the strips together. Last time, I found marking off the bag opening and making sure the drawstring channels weren’t sewn shut to be a challenge and I thought it was a bit tricky this time too. Not as tricky as properly sewing the flat bottom corners, evidently.

Flat-bottom bags, you make my sanity go bye-bye

Of course, I sewed the right side wrong AND cut it. I did this on both the liner and the exterior. Way to go M! By this point, I just wanted to get it done – I still had to pack for my trip and get to bed. Packing was extra tricky since I was taking the bus and leaving husband the car (I would be gone all week and would be using one of my parents’ cars while visiting). Thankfully, this flat bottom is fixable. See the square marked on the fabric in the picture? I just had to pick out the stitches, pinch the square together at the corner marked, and re-sew. The only annoying thing is that the square didn’t perfectly line up on both sides of the liner. Usually, when the corner isn’t clipped, you just get it as close as you can and sew it to look like the left side. It took a couple of tries, but I got it! All that was left was to flip the bag inside out, make the drawstring, and thread it through!

What a pretty bag for a princess girl who’s favourite colour is pink!
Want to know the real reason I wanted this fabric in particular for her special bag?

IT’S GLOW IN THE DARK!!! I’m telling you, it does not get much cooler than that.

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

Up and Away

First, I must apologize for posting this so late. I did intend to get it out last week, but my week got completely out of hand. I didn’t even get to take the glamour shots of the quilt until I was en route to the recipient! I’ll go into more of that next week as a way of excusing my bad behaviour … but today, the eagle quilt!

When last I left you, I had completed the oh-so-fun directional sashing on the quilt. I’m pretty sure I had the next step completed before I even posted the sashing blog – and that would be basting the quilt. As previously mentioned, I decided to use the fabric I had originally purchased for the husband quilt. Because this from a standard size bolt of fabric (44″ wide) instead of wide-backing fabric (100″ wide), I decided to see if I could get away with just one WOF (width of fabric) cut from the stash.

5 inches too short!!!

As you can see, I was a mere 5″ short of being able to use one continuous piece of fabric. I could have cut more, but I had a better idea. When I was making the small eagle borders, I had lots of yardage left over of just trees and lake. I pulled them out, figured out what would go together as seamlessly as possible, and whipped up two rows of trees-and-water inserts. I put the fabric 1/3 of the way in from the fold and sewed in the two inserts. I slapped it back on the table and basted the thing in about 20 minutes.

Stepping back to take pictures at this stage is often when I start to plan how I’m going to do the quilting. I immediately knew what I wanted to do for the eagle. Past practice of some quilting techniques had already given me an idea for the sky and water. I asked husband for his input on a couple of things, and left the rest of it for after I finished the main panel of the quilt.

For the large eagle, I didn’t want to overwhelm the bird with quilting, but allow it to stand out on its own. To that end, I simply traced around the eagle and accented the feathers on the wing and tail tips. For the first time, I changed my thread colour (the tail being much lighter than the body). Getting adventurous up in here!

I’m going to stop here and outline my free-motion quilting settings on my sewing machine (Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 930). These obviously apply to just me, but I had to do some tweaking to get the tension as close to perfect as I could and it’s good to go over the settings again.

On this quilt, I made use of the spring-action free-motion quilting foot (also known as a hopping foot). The nice thing about this foot is that it touches down on the quilt between each stitch and I find that makes for smoother stitching. The thing I don’t like about it is how it works with my auto needle up-down feature. When I slightly depress the pedal, the foot and needle “prep” to stitch. It causes the machine to hesitate for a couple of seconds. On normal stitching, that’s fine because I can just keep moving the needle and the quilt slowly. With the hopping foot, the foot is pressed against the quilt and the foot freezes every time the prep stitch happens. It gets a little aggravating when I’m starting FMQ for the first time in a bit and am trying to go slow.

When it comes to my machine settings, there are a couple of places I need to go. First, into the Tools section. This is where I select my FMQ foot preferences. When I use the ruler foot, I select the FreeM Floating option. Turning on FMQ automatically sets the tension, but I find I need to adjust it depending on how heavy the quilt is and what kind of fabric and batting I’m using. These were the settings for the eagle quilt. The husband quilt was set to 5.2 I think??? I should start writing this down for my reference. 😀

On to the sewing options. In the electronic window, I have to change my sewing speed and my stitch regulator setting. The stitch regulator should be set as close to 0 as possible. I can change this using the little > and < arrows on the side. The second step is to slow this puppy down! Lowering the speed means that the flat-out speed (pedal to the floor) is a lot slower than on the high setting. I find I have to start out on setting 2 when I start quilting and step it up to 3 after the first three-five hours. Oh, yeah … quilting takes hours. I don’t find it’s hard work, but it is definitely a time sink. I can change the speed using the sewing buttons available right above the needle. This is also when I select the needle-down default (right). That means that every time I stop sewing, the needle is in the fabric. It’s so helpful!! My stitch doesn’t move while I re-adjust and it *mostly* keeps my work from having big stitch gaps. The final thing to notice is the foot up-down button (bottom). When working with ruler or walking feet, this button gets used all the time. It half-lifts the foot so I can re-position my work a little bit (or just see where I’m going next).

I completely forgot to take a picture of the next bit, so I’ll have to talk through what I did for the water and the sky. Continuous wavy lines have always looked like water to me, so I did that for the water. I was trying to find something more complex for the sky, but I sort of ran out of time looking, so I went with swirls and a couple of clouds. I am not good at swirls. I need practice. But, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I decided to outline the large tree and then make Christmas tree shapes over the forest sections afterwards. The Christmas tree motif was a good effort, but it just looks like a bunch of triangles stacked on each other, so I probably won’t do that again. The tree … well, the tree was my fun bit.

When I started the first stitch, something just felt a little “off”. I checked my stitching a couple of times, but everything looked fine, so I just kept going. I did almost the whole tree until my thread broke, which was weird because it hadn’t broken once this quilt. Then I flipped the quilt over …

Oh good lord. This is what happens when your tension is way off. It’s known in the sewing community as making eyelashes. I almost cried – there was so much of it! What I think happened is when I changed thread colour to make the tree, I must not have threaded the machine properly, so the upper thread didn’t make it into the tension disks and the bobbin thread just pulled it all to the back. This took me a good 15-20 minutes to cut and pull out all the thread. The good news is that this did not happen again after I carefully re-threaded the machine.

This brought me to the borders and sashing of the quilt. I was starting to run out of time at this point, so I pulled out the Taj ruler (by Angela Walters) and put a little leaf-motif around the pinecones and a larger leaf motif on the eagle borders by using the inside and outside of the ruler. You’ll be able to see in the binding pictures. I used wishbones on the internal birch bark sashing and just free-handed some straight lines around the birch bark edge as part of it would be covered by the binding and I didn’t want it to look cut off.

At this point, I truly ran out of time. The quilt was not ready for Dad’s birthday, but he was coming to visit us the very next weekend, so I did the binding the day after his birthday. But first, I had to square up the quilt. Because the quilt was so small, I was able to square one edge without folding the quilt in half, as long as I had two rulers … oh, look, something came in the mail!!

Yup, I caved and got another Frosted ruler. I had to get a new 6″x24″ ruler anyways because the one I had didn’t have markings for half or quarter inches on it because it was designed for cutting angles … the things you don’t know when you’re just starting out. I squared everything up and measured to cut up the pretty pine binding! I absolutely love how this fabric finished off the quilt – it suits it perfectly.

And finally, the finished masterpiece!

As I said at the top, I literally took these pictures on my way out the door to give the quilt to Dad, so I apologize that for re-using the back yard for the photos. I do intend to take my future quilts to different photo-shoot areas. You can see how much snow we have here … and all of it covered by a nice thick layer of ice. yaaay.

Stay safe. Stay warm.

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects

Has Issues Focusing …

Sooo … I might have gotten completely distracted by the challenge fabric and worked on that instead. Bad M!

I decided that this challenge would be perfect to try out on a charm-square bag! There are lots of free tutorials online for this if you want to make it yourself. I used this one, but it was just a series of pictures showing how it goes together. Some people may prefer to find something with more words.

http://www.handmadiya.com/2015/10/patchwork-bag-of-squares.html

First, cut out your squares. I cut eight 4″ squares of each colour. I’d recommend going much, much bigger than that, but I’m trying to just use the three FQ fabrics, so mine will be a mini-tote. Incidentally, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love my frosted 6″ square ruler. Every time I use it, I think about getting all the frosted rulers. They just work for me!

Squaring up the squares!

Next, lay out your fabric to see what you want to go where. This is when I realized I was 2 squares short – kinda. I technically had one white and one yellow square left over, but I thought it would throw off the pattern I had going. I didn’t want to use any more of my focus fabric, so I dipped into my stash and came up with this dark royal blue that matched the dark leaves perfectly. Plus, it’s better to have dark on the bottom of the bag – that’s where all the dirt gets picked up!

Square placement

Next, I sewed the rows together. You can do this in whichever direction makes most sense to you. Once I had the whole bag together, I pinned it so I could see the shape that I was going for.

At this point, I switched to the lining. I had great plans for the lining as well. I took the gold and the white left over fabric and ran a seam down it, joining the two pieces together. Then, I folded it and half and placed the unpinned bag on top to see if I had enough fabric for it. I did! I outlined the bag shape with wide margins (a little bigger than a 1/4″). Bag came off the lining, the lining got pinned together so the layers would not shift, and I cut out the outline.

This is where a better walkthrough or doing more research would have helped. I forgot that most bags have some sort of fusible lining in it to had a little thickness and help give the bag some form. To be honest, though – I’m not a huge fan of fusible lining and I love the feeling of just cloth bags. They crumple better too if you’re cramming them into a pocket. What you’re supposed to do at this step is attach batting or a fusible lining to pieced part, turn it into a proper bag, sew the cloth lining into a bag, then attach the two part together so the lining is loose in the bag.

What I did was attach the lining to the bag right away and do some stitch-in-the-ditch quilting around each square. I wanted the lining and the front to have a joined feel instead of the loose bag lining feel you usually get with the standard method. It also made up for not having the fusible lining added. It did halt my progress on another front, though. Part of the reason for the loose lining is to hide all the edge seams on the inside of the bag. Since the lining was already attached to the bag, I can’t nicely join all the sides together to make the bag on the machine. I found a spool of hand quilting thread that I had been intending to take to the guild for the grab table. It’s a nice soft yellow. Hand quilting thread has a coating on it that is horrible for machines because it gums up the tension disks – it almost feels like upholstery thread. I don’t hand quilt at all and bought the thread because it was on sale for 10 cents and I mis-read the label. Since I remembered I still had this thread, I decided to hand-stitch the seams together instead! This will make the seams bump up together with a “hidden” stitch and it will allow me to incorporate my exclusive handbag handle design.

Because of how this bag goes together, the mouth of the bag is more narrow than the hold of the bag (as in ship’s hold … the interior of the bag?). Since I’m building the bag on the small side to begin with, this made the opening very narrow indeed. I could easily get my fist in and out, but I could potentially see having a problem with a super bulky wallet and definitely issues with inserting a book. To fix that, I decided to add a wider handle to the bag. The problem is that this style of bag usually attaches the handles to the upper points. So I changed the design.

I cut the handles out of the remaining square of the focus fabric. I cut on an acute diagonal so I would get as much width out of it as possible. I sewed a seam up the two edges to make an elongated triangle. The ends didn’t match up, but I cut them square after sewing the seam. Once this was done, I measured the length of the two top panels of the bag as the handle will be attached to the side. I marked the top and bottom on the handle and drew a line to follow. Back at the sewing machine, I ran the lines under my walking foot and sewed down the point. I turned just after the edge of the fabric so I would have less bulk bunching when I turned it inside out. Finally, I cut off the excess fabric and turned the handle inside out. I used my Purple Thang to make the point as pointy as possible. Word of caution: while this is a wonderful tool, I have accidentally ripped through fabric with it by pushing too hard, so keep that in mind. The handles got spritzed and ironed and are ready to be attached to the bag!

My hand sewing is really slow and I’m also knitting a birthday gift for someone turning an age on January 22, so it’s not my biggest priority right now. It is coming along though! I’m adding a bonus picture showing one side almost finished. It might look a bit funny at the bottom where everything comes together because of the way I sewed on the first handle, but I figure I’ll put a pale yellow button over that spot on both sides it it does. I’m also thinking of putting a yellow button at the top and adding a fabric loop so you can “close” the bag, but I think the mouth might be small enough to make that redundant.

As punishment for having my dessert first, I also did most of my block-of-the-month. I am really struggling with these block. Not because the patterns are wrong (Kim does a really good job at writing them) but because I evidently don’t read patterns well. All the quilts I’ve made so far have either been completely out of my head or I borrowed elements from a pattern and modified it to suit myself. The modified patterns gave me the most trouble because I was trying to understand how they did what they did so I could change or increase it. All my bags were just a little bit wrong because I would do something then realize I mis-understood what I was doing. That’s learning for me and that’s why I leave my mistakes in. I’m teaching myself to hide the mistakes in plain sight. This month’s block was a pointed flower block and I didn’t realize until I started joining them all together that I’d done it completely wrong. All the piecing was done right, but the joining was not done in the right order so it doesn’t look pointed. Since I didn’t realize this until the end of the process, I’m finishing it as-is and taking it in as an alternative design piece. It doesn’t look bad – in fact, it looks like it’s on purpose because they’re all done the same way. It’s just not according to pattern. When I post the completed quilt top in May, you’ll have to see if you can spot it.

I’m going to blame it on the concert I was watching while I was doing this. I usually watch Netflix, but I sometimes get distracted by the screen and I wanted to concentrate so I didn’t make any mistakes (HA!). It was the memorial concert for “Beard Guy” Mike Taylor from Walk Off The Earth. Like a good Canadian, I’ve always enjoyed their music and have quite a bit of it, but I’m in no way a super-fan or know much about the band’s personal life. Regardless, this concert brought me to tears a couple of times. It’s so amazing to see the impact a single person can have on a large group of people and so sad to think that most of the time, it’s not celebrated until after the person is gone.

This week, find someone who means a lot to you and tell them what makes them so special and why you love them. We should all do this more often, but it’s so easy to get bogged down in life and forget. Try to remember to show your love more often. I wish I could show my dearly departed aunt, Auntie El, how much she had meant to me and how big of an impact her presence had in my life. The only way I can do that now is to reflect her in how I behave in my own life and that will just have to be enough.

~M