Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Year's Eve UFO Challenge

I've joined a UFO Challenge over at  Finn's blog.  Here is a logo  for anyone else in the challenge to put in their sidebar if they'd like. 

If you click on the image above, it will take you the post at Finn's blog where she describes the Challenge.  The basic idea of the challenge is to pledge a certain amount of UFO projects to be finished by this New Year's Eve.  I'll post tommorrow about what projects I plan on trying to finish.  Gotta go for now,  Dancing With the Stars is on and my family is calling me to come and watch.   :-)

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Greetings!

 Have you ever been to a quilt shop or quilt show and seen a fellow quilter  holding  a handful of fabric scraps and trying them out against the bolts of fabric?  Well, maybe that was me. 

   Sometimes I want to carry some samples from a project I am working on, or collecting  fabrics for, and I used to just put them in my pocket.  After enough fabric scraps showed up in the bottom of the washing machine because I forgot they were in my pocket,  I started keeping them a little more organized and flat by sticking them inside a greeting card to carry in my purse.  Eventually, I had the notion to attach them to the card with staples or tape so I could see them as a group. 


    Here's a little Easter card that became a holder for fabrics to make a blue, white and yellow quilt.  I just used a stapler to hold them in place:



This  birthday card travelled to at least one quilt show with me when I was collecting fabrics for a purple and green card trick quilt:



An anniversary card got converted to a plaid stash.  The card came from my parents, and I stapled the samples to the back of the card so I could still read the beautiful verse on the inside:



A christmas card became a year long resident in my bag as I collected batiks for a Beth Ferrier mystery quilt I was working on.  I never knew what colors were going to be used in the next month's pattern, and I wanted to be able to remember what fabrics I had used so far.  Every month found a few more colors added to the card.



This sparkly  birthday card contains a sample of gold fabrics.  I don't remember exactly why I needed to keep them with me, but if I'm ever shopping for gold fabrics, I'm ready!




Greeting cards make handy storage for fabric samples, and also serve as reminders of the occasions for which they were received.  I think the senders would be glad to know that their greeting cards have lived extended lives as keepers of my treasured fabrics.

Oh, and if you see me in the fabric store with my stapled greeting card in hand, be sure to say "Hello"!

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Auditioning border fabrics

I usually decide on a border fabric, or fabrics, after I have the center of the quilt made.  Here's a tip for auditioning fabrics without having to take the whole quilt with you to the fabric store.

Once upon a time, I made this quilt:


It is an Eleanor Burns pattern, called "Star Log Cabin", and it is queen size.  After I had made all the central log cabin blocks, I was trying to decide on what fabric to use for the inner border that separated the center squares from the piano key border.  I did not want to have to bring all my squares with me to the fabric store and try to lay them out while I auditioned fabrics. 







Instead, I did this:

I laid out snippets and leftovers of the fabrics I had used onto a piece of paper, and machine-basted them, just enought to loosely secure them to the page.  Then I trimmed it down to 8.5 X 11 inches, and slipped it into a clear plastic sleeve.  That way, I could bring the plastic sleeve with me to the fabric store, and the snippets stayed safely in place, allowing me to  see a whole variety of fabrics at once.

I didn't do anything fancy with the stitching, just went around trying to be sure I caught at least a small piece of each fabric.





I found this fabric sampler in my drawer with my fall fabrics that I showed yesterday, and thought it was worth sharing here.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Favorite Fabric Friday

Since we have just begun the Fall season, I thought I'd show some Fall fabrics I've been hoarding saving to make an autumn quilt.

When considering fabrics for an autumn quilt, I always like to throw in a little purple. It seems to set off the orange colors. (I think it's a color wheel thing, but I'm no expert.)

Only 4 of the 7 fabrics are strictly "autumn" fabrics but once in a while, if I see a fall fabric that I just love, I buy a fat quarter to add  to the collection.

The name printed on the selvage edge of the fabric on the far right is called "October Sunset". Wouldn't that be a great name for a quilt made up of these colors?

On my ridiculously long list of "quilts I'm going to make someday" is a fall quilt using a pattern from Judy Martin called "Autumn Fantasy". Here's a photo from Judy's Gallery:  Autumn Fantasy

Only time will tell when this quilt will make it to the top of my list, but I'll have my fabric ready when it does.  :-)

Happy Autumn!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wheel of Fortune quilt

In a back issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine from 1989,  I came across this article about an amazing quilter by the name of Malinda S. Seay, and the quilt she made in 1872 for her 4 year old son, Albert.

Malinda's quilt was handmade from start to finish.  To begin, she had to weave her own cotton fabric made from thread she spun on her spinning wheel, using cotton she had picked  herself.  She also gathered leaves, berries, bark and other organic materials to make the dye to color her fabric.  The picture of the quilt is in black and white, but it says that she chose orange and blue for her colors.  (This was one dynamic lady!)

She made her own templates for her patterns and did the piecing by hand.  For the batting, it was back to the hand picked cotton that she carded, and more of her hand woven fabric for the backing. 

Busy with chores during the day, she did most of her quilting at night, using light from an oil lamp she had made from a tin can, with a wick made from cotton strips, and oil from animal fat.  Her quilt frame was made from trees that grew in the nearby woods.

With all the work that went into just getting the materials to make the quilt, you might picture a pretty nine-patch or log cabin.  (I did.)  However, the pattern she chose, called "Wheel of Fortune" was very complex, consisting of curved pieces fitting into a circle, with 8 narrow points that meet in the center,  and surrounded by tiny rectangles.  Here is the pattern for just one block:


Amazing, isn't it?  And, judging from the photo in the magazine, it appears that she made a quilt that must have contained at least 25 or more of these blocks!    My colored-pencil version of the block was difficult enough to draw, even with the help of a computer, and Malinda  had 32 pairs of tiny rectangles in her circle, not 24.  I can't imagine making all those quilt pieces come together.  Heck, I can't imagine all the hard work it must have taken just to get through the day back in 1872!  I would have been an awful pioneer.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tips for Tote-making

I finished the tote bag I was making yesterday.

The basics of making this carryall tote are similiar to any general quilted tote.
  • Make the bag  using a flip and sew technique with the batting as the foundation.
  • Trim the excess batting from  the front and back of the bag, measure for size, and cut 2 lining pieces to match.
  • Sew the bag front to the bag back on three sides
  • Sew the lining front to the lining back, leaving an opening in the bottom seam 
  • Box the corners of the bag and lining to give the tote some depth
  • Make the handles
  • Center the handles on the outer fabric and baste in place
  • Place lining  inside the tote bag, right sides together and sew around the top opening
  • Reach through hole you left in the lining seam and turn the bag right side out
  • Top stitch around the bag opening
  • Hand sew or fabric glue the opening in the lining.
The obvious difference between a carryall tote and a Tiny Tote is the size of the pieces.  Beyond that, there are a few other changes.  For one, the carryall tote is bigger and has room for an inside pocket .  In addition, I add batting to the handles to make them more comfortable, and also a loop closure with a button for a little security. 

I like to make the handles using 2 different fabrics, but, of course they could be made using just one.  I cut two 2-inch strips of each fabric that are each about 30 inches long.  (I find the ideal length for tote handles is 25 inches, but I start with  30 inch strips  to be sure I have enough.)  I also cut two strips of batting that are also 30 inches long, but are slightly less than 2 inches wide. (approximately 1 7/8)


Stack 2 handle fabrics with right sides together, and lay a batting strip on top of them.   Center the batting strip in the middle of the fabric.







Sew with a healthy quarter inch seam down both long edges of the handle. Since I cut the batting strip a little narrower than the fabric strips, it allows me to see the edges of the handle fabrics as I'm sewing, and make sure they stay  lined up.


Turn the handle inside out, and press.  There will be some bulk due to the batting in the seam allowances, but that's okay.  It actually makes for a more comfortable, padded handle.




Sew a row of stitching right down the center of the ironed handles.  I use the markings on my soleplate as a guide.







Make two more rows of stitching approximately halfway between your center row of stitching and the edge of the handle.  (Use whatever is convenient on your machine to line them up, either a marking on the soleplate, or the edge of you presser foot as a guide. )  Trim the handles to 25 inches.



If you want to add a button and loop closure, you'll need to make a loop.  I use a half inch bias tape maker that I already had on hand. 

Start with a one inch strip of fabric for your loop  that is approximately 8 inches long.  Later, it will be trimmed a little shorter, but a little extra now helps keep your fingers out of the way of the iron in the next step.





Feed the fabric into the wide end of the tape maker. It will come out the other side with the 2 edges folded in towards the center.  Use your iron to press the folds as you slowly draw the tape maker along the fabric. Steam is good here, but WATCH those fingers!
Fold the bias strip in half, press again, and sew the fold closed.  What started as a one inch wide strip now measures 1/4 inch.  I trim the length to about 6 inches.
Pin the handles and the loop closure to the top of the bag, with raw edges all facing out.  Baste.  Finish the bag in the same manner as the Tiny Tote.  Add a button to the top band for fastening the loop.





Here's how the pocket looks inside the bag.







Now you have a finished tote, with padded handles, a button and loop closure, and an inside pocket.   Enjoy!


















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Monday, September 21, 2009

Easy Peasy Pocket

 Here's a simple way to add a pocket to the lining of a tote.

I decided I wanted my pocket to be 10 inches wide, and 4.5 inches deep. I cut a rectangle of pocket fabric that was 10.5 inches wide and 9.5 inches long.









I folded the rectangle, right sides together, and sewed up the two short sides.










I turned the pocket right sides out, and pressed, leaving me with a pocket measuring 10 inches by 4.75 inches, with 3 finished edges and one raw edge.








My tote lining fabrics were already cut to size.  I took ONE lining fabric and laid it right side up, then centered the pocket. The raw edge faces the center of the lining, and the folded edge extends off the bottom.  Sew along the raw edge of the pocket. (Note: this is done BEFORE sewing the lining fabrics together.)






Fold the pocket up and press.  Sew the two short edges to the lining fabric with a narrow top stitch to secure.  I recommend backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam for strength.  Now you have a pocket!










I wanted to make a divider in my pocket to hold a pencil, so I measured 2 inches in from the right side of the pocket, and drew a chalk line.  Then I sewed right on the line, creating a narrow pocket.








Here you can see how the pocket will work.  Now you can go ahead and sew the two lining pieces together, and finish your tote!  I'll post a picture of the finished tote tomorrow, assuming I have it finished by then.  ;-)


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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And then there were three...

 
I feel very fortunate that my sister and another lifelong friend are also members of my choral group. It really makes rehearsals fun.   After I made my music tote, I decided to make one for each of them too.  Here are  the 3 bags finished:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
and here's a closeup:
In order to set off the vertical black and white stripes from the black top and bottom strips, I added the red/black piping.  I cut a 1 inch strip of the red/black fabric, folded it with wrong sides together and pressed with the iron.  I laid the strips on top of the black/white fabric with the folded edges toward the center, and the raw edges facing out.  In order to place the piping strips even and  straight, I used a ruler and placed the folded edges against it.
I basted the piping strips with a very narrow seam before adding the black strips for the top and bottom.  After pressing, I loaded up a yarn needle with a double thickness of cotton yarn, and inserted it into the fold of the piping strip
and out the other side:
It gave the piping a little bit of dimension, rather than lying flat.
Easy as pie, right?
I have quilter friend who works with my husband.  (She doesn't have a blog, but she should because it would be so much fun to read!)  Knowing how much my life has been consumed with "all things doggie" lately, she sent these fabrics home to me via my husband.
 The black and white paw print fabric was perfect for my black and white tote project, and so of course it ended up being included.  Check out the 3rd strip from the right:
Now I have a bag that reflects both my love of music and my love of my dog!  Thanks Gwen!
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Friday, September 11, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation

There wasn’t a lot of quilting done this summer, but there was a LOT of this:

Toby collage Toby is approaching the 9 month mark now, and is starting to be just a little less puppy and a little more dog, but not by much.

Without much quiet time to break out the needle and thread, I have turned to the written word for entertainment.  Here’s a few books I read a this summer that I thought were worth mentioning.

 

bk single thread The first is “A Single Thread”  by Marie Bostwick.  The story is centered around the happenings at a quilt shop, and is told from the point of view of two different characters.  I found it to be a really enjoyable read, with characters you could care about, and, of course, Quilting!

 

bk hooked Next was “Hooked on Murder” by Betty Hechtman.   As you might guess from the title, this one is a murder mystery.  The “hooked” part is because it concerns a group of ladies who crochet.  It was a pleasant enough read, but it felt a little bit like the crochet part was an afterthought to the story.  A good one to borrow from the library, but I wouldn’t buy it.

 

bk confessions I’m a big fan of Jane Austen, and have read her books, listened to them on tape, and of course watched the movies.   There are a lot of writers who are offering alternative books for Austen fans, many claiming to be written “in the style” of Jane Austen.  Some do a better job than others, and so I usually read the book reviews carefully on Amazon before I decide to buy any of them.  This one, called “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict” by Laurie Viera Rigler is about a modern girl who wakes up one day and finds herself living in the time of Jane Austen.  I enjoyed it not so much because the story was particularly engaging, but because it was fun to realize just how different the lifestyle of a young woman was from our modern experience, and yet how much the same are our feelings.  (Probably why Austen fans still find her books appealing.)

 

bk memoirsAnd while on the subject of Jane Austen, I also read “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen” by Syrie James.  The premise of this book is that Jane Austen’s memoirs turn up in an attic.   It’s written very well and loosely based on some of the things we know about Austen’s life.  The author makes connections between fictional events in the book to characters and events in Austen’s novels to try and show how Jane’s life may have inspired her writing.

 

bk monk Last, but certainly not least, is this series of “Monk” novels by Lee Goldberg.  They are like finding lost episodes of the “Monk” television series.  The author gets the tone of each character exactly right, and I read parts of them out loud to my family because I was enjoying them so much.  They are quick to read, and if you like the TV show, you are sure to like the books.

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Like so many, I can’t  look at the calendar today and not remember September 11th.  Toby and I recently visited the September 11th Memorial site in our town.  Very solemn.patriotic pup

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