Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Old Thread

What do you do with old thread? There isn't enough on there to do much, but it seems such a waste to throw out! Do you save it for hand sewing projects? I'm wondering if it's even worth the extra room these spools take up....

Friday, 26 March 2010

Weekend Plans

I didn't start quilting for realz until a couple of months ago. I have been obsessively researching quilting methods and tutorials ever since, and I've managed to cobble together a few quilts, table runners and blocks. A couple of friends of mine have been subjected to my quilting related gushing, and have since caught the bug! One friend in particular has spent far more money than is sensible on eBay, locked in bidding wars over charm packs of 4" and 5" squares of adorable fabrics.

Tomorrow, we are all gathering together for a Day of Quilting. I am going to show them a few methods that I've learned over the past few weeks (talk about blind leading the blind..!) and hopefully finish off the top of my son's quilt and/or get started on my husband's quilt.

I am SO EXCITED. A day of non-stop quilting! Hanging out with my girlfriends! Talking about babies all day, since we're all pregnant together! Eating yummy foods!


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

What I've been working on

I've been tackling a couple of small projects recently, mostly because I've lost a bit of steam with regards to my son's quilt but also because I wanted to learn a few new techniques.
For a super small project, I came across a tutorial for this wonky star. I love it! So much of quilting is about perfect accuracy, so the randomness of the points on the star really appeal to my chaotic side. :) In fact, I may start a full quilt based on these blocks just for me, using these fabrics as a starting point.

I also found a tutorial for a tiny ticker tape doll quilt. I didn't follow the tutorial exactly, and my quilt ended up being a bit larger, 33" x 25" or so, instead of the suggested 16" x 20". (I kind of just cut a piece of fabric without measuring it...)

This doll quilt was super fun to make. I love how the quilted back turned out, with all of the oddly spaced and shaped squares. Also not in the tutorial, I decided to try my hand at a pieced backing. I am really happy with how it turned out! The fabric on the back is completely unadorned, so it was nice to add a bit of spice with the stripe of colour down one side.

I hope the almost-7-year-old enjoys it. I've been sewing it with her around, and when she asked who it was for, I just said "Oh, I don't know yet...". I'm sure she'll be surprised, at least!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Burgundy Buttons Giveaway!

There is a great giveaway going on at Park City Girl. Burgundy Buttons is giving away a Verna jelly roll and two yards of complimentary fabric.

Go and enter! And if you're like me, get sucked into the Burgundy Buttons website and spend money you may or may not have....

Finished House Block. Um.

So I managed to finish the house block I promised for Bumble Beans. Unfortunately, I messed up somewhere along the line, and it isn't quite 10.5" square. Eeesh.

I tried to make one out of my scrap pile, but almost none of my scrap pieces were big enough! Frustrating. So in the end, I decided to cut into my new fat quarter set that I bought and I ended up with a very cheerful (if not quite to size) house!

I'm especially digging the red brick design in the fabric I used for the roof. :)

Hopefully Bumble Beans has better sewing skills than me, and can make use of my block even though it isn't perfect....

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Need a quilt pattern idea!

My husband has been watching me beaver away at the kids' quilts over these past weeks, and just the other day said that he would like a quilt of his own. I'm ecstatic! I would love to make a quilt for my dear husband, but now I'm at a loss.

You see, he wants it to be "camo" themed. He wants the fabric to be from camouflage, and clearly, the pattern needs to reflect the manliness of such fabrics.

I am off to an army surplus store today, to see what kinds of fabric they might have, but I wonder if there are any quilt patterns out there that are geared towards more Manly Quilts.

Any help would be appreciated!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The infamous baby quilt

The first quilt I ever started was my eldest daughter's. However, I jumped in head first into a project filled with triangles and had no idea what I was doing! I got discouraged after time and put it away for several years.

For whatever reason, I decided to make a baby quilt for our newest addition, due out in the beginning of June. I paid a visit to a nearby quilting shop and fell in love with my first Moda charm pack.

Again, I didn't really know what I was doing. As with my eldest daughter's quilt, I went ahead with the idea of backing the quilt with a fleece blanket rather than doing the batting-backing-quilting-basting route.

Unfortunately, fleece is stretchy. I didn't adjust the settings on my sewing machine, so the fleece stretched out considerably as I was sewing the two together. I was left with a ton of bunched up, curled under sections of the blanket and it made me Very Sad and Frustrated.

I thought that basting it would help. It didn't. More of the fleece got bunched up and my beautiful quilt top was slowly being destroyed by my efforts to marry stretchy fleece with not-so-stretchy cotton.

I put the blanket away, depressed. I went to work on my triangles-ahoy blanket, and managed to finish it to a good standard. I realised my mistake in time and changed the sewing machine settings so I could sew the fleece blanket and quilt top together without much hassle. Instead of trying to sew it together like a traditional quilt, I sewed it front facing together, with a gap at the bottom, turned it all right side out and top stitched the edges.

After completing the quilt that had been bugging me for years, I realised that I couldn't let the baby's quilt bug me for years as well, so I pulled out my trusty seam ripper and went to work.

And I fixed the baby blanket! I ripped out all the terrible basting that I had attempted, ripped out all the quilting in the middle, and adjusted my sewing machine settings to allow me to sew that quilt top directly onto the fleece blanket.

Due to some hasty decisions on my part, the blanket had to be trimmed down a bit and the edges are no longer uniform in size. I'm sad about all the mistakes I made that led to irrevocable damage to the blanket, but I'm so, so happy that I managed to fix all the problems that I created in the first place.

I know that a fleece backing to a quilt top isn't a traditional method of quilting, and it certainly doesn't lend itself well to machine quilting the centre of the quilt, but I think it turned out well in the end. The tops of my kids' quilts will be pretty, and the bottoms will be fuzzy and warm. Not bad!

The fleece backing on this blanket is a lime green colour. I think it complements the quilt top nicely.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Filmstrip Quilt: FIN

My current method for making quick quilts is to back them with a fleece blanket. There is no batting in the middle, so the pink fleece blanket shows through the white fabric; I'm fine with this.

My daughter looooves it! I adore the fabrics and the pattern. I'm very proud of how it has turned out!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

House Block for Charity

Bumble Beans is calling all quilters to make house blocks for a homeless charity in NYC.

I have never made a house block before, and frankly, I find them intimidating. But!

I'm determined to stretch myself as a newbie quilter, so I'm going for it. Doing it for charity is a definite plus.

If this is something you are interested in, the deadline is the end of April. There is also a giveaway attached, and we all love giveaways, right? :)

Mothering Sunday

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, mothers-to-be, and mother-figures everywhere.

Friday, 12 March 2010

The Disappearing 9 Patch!

So the project I've been dying to write about can finally be revealed! I made two table runners, inspired by this tutorial over at p.s. i quilt, as Mother's Day gifts for my own mom and my MIL.

I had so much fun making these runners. The fabric was mostly from one of Moda's charm packs (sadly I didn't write down which pack it was!) and some of my own scrap fabrics. I miscalculated quite severely when I bought the pack, thinking that the table runners would be small enough to be covered by one pack for the both of them, and then discovered a few days later that I would either need to buy another pack or make up the shortage with my own fabrics. Since I bought the one and only charm pack of that kind at my local quilting shop, I was kind of stuck!

The two table runners have very different colour schemes as a result; my mom's is full of pales blues and creams, while my MIL's is full of bright(ish) pinks, browns and golds. I personally prefer the blue version, but other people have complimented me on the pinky one, so I'm happy enough. :)

These pictures also show my attempts at machine quilting. The top one was done "free style" but I don't actually have the proper machine foot for the job. I simply lowered the feed dogs, removed my normal machine foot and went for it. Eeep! The lines and curves are wonky in places, but eh. It's for my momma, and she said she likes it. ;) The nice looking circles were already on the fabric before I bought it, so even though it makes me look wicked talented, I can't claim ownership of that little detail. I went for straight(ish) quilting lines on the other table runner, and although I did like that method, I think the lines are too close together for such a small piece. If I had to do it over, I would sew the lines twice as far apart.

This project was a lot of firsts for me -- first time doing a disappearing 9 patch (LOVE IT), first time machine quilting (well, not actually the very first time, but the first time doing it right -- more on that another time), and the first time I managed to bind a quilt and use a disappearing stitch on the other side.

These pictures are just horrible, because I took them at night after I finished them (when will I ever learn?), but you can kinda-sorta see the binding:

I used fabric I already owned for the binding, and I'm not too sure about the colour combo for my MIL's, but again, too late now!

Mother's Day is on Sunday, and they received these in the post yesterday or perhaps even the day before. I am really proud of myself for making these in the first place, but also sending them well before the date!

Someday I'll be brave enough to machine quilt a full sized quilt, but I'll probably have to invest in a proper machine foot for the job. As for now, I'm going to stick with the sew-and-turn method of quilt making with a fleece backing....

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Fat quarters ahoy!

So I went to the quilting shop to buy a squaring ruler, and spent 40 minutes looking through their stockpile of beautiful fat quarters and found these:

My tastes in fabric have been leaning towards more of the Moda-esque bright pinks and greens or pale and antique-y blues, creams and pinks. I thought it was time to break out of those colours, even if I do adore them!

This is the first time I've chosen multi-patterned, multi-coloured fabrics to go together. I think I did pretty well!

Now, to find a project for them....

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Filmstrip blocks and Chain piecing

Sorry, this picture was taken at night, but the colours and patterns are fantastic! I especially love that little bird up there. I think I have finished sewing all the blocks for my little girl's quilt, but I need to measure up to be sure. I have more squares and borders cut up and ready to sew if needed, but I would be veeeerrrry happy if I could start putting it all together!

I managed to sew the above blocks together in about an hour and a half, including all the ironing in between, due to the awesome technique of chain piecing. I haven't ever tried it before today, and it saved so much time! Instead of sewing each block separately, I sewed a long line of borders along each central block piece without breaking the thread in between each block. At first, I wasn't quite brave enough to keep sewing as I slid the fabric under the foot, so I would stop sewing and lift the foot to place the next block of fabric underneath, but it worked just fine to do it the faster/lazier way.

Simply snip the threads in between each block and you're good to go!

The beginnings of a Filmstrip Quilt

The beginnings of the white centred squares. I find cutting fabric into small, measured pieces to be oddly enjoyable. I mean, it should be tedious, but for some reason it isn't.

Some of the completed blocks. I need to buy a quilt squaring thingy, I think. The fabric isn't quite matching up on the sides, and if I don't want everything to end up sliding slightly sideways when I start sewing it together, I need to ensure that my pieces are all cut to size correctly.

Next up, patterned fabrics inside a white border. Stay tuned!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Christmas in March

I like having projects, especially now that I'm 3 months away from having a newborn and I know my sewing machine will not see the light of day for a very, very long time after that!

One of my most important projects for me personally was to make reusable Christmas bags. Instead of wrapping everything in paper, I made a bunch of cloth bags out of Christmas fabric that presents can be plopped into easily and quickly. No more staying up till 3 am wrapping presents! No more mounds of wrapping paper spread all over the living room! And the best part -- cute bags that can be reused over and over again, hopefully creating some nice memories for our family.

I made several sizes. These little bags are about 8" square:

This patchwork one is about 16" square, just using the squares from the above bags and sewing them into groups of four:

This is my favourite type of bag. Most of them are just squares/rectangles with a bit of ribbon tacked to the back to tie them up. This is more of a parcel style bag, with velcro fastenings along one side. It looks like a pre-wrapped present! I'm especially proud of the ribbon bow:

A group shot. I made around 30 bags altogether, and I figure if that's not enough this Christmas I can always make a few more in 2011 sometime. It was a fun, easy project, and the fabric was all just gorgeous to work with. It was interesting to get all excited about Christmas so early in the year!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Five Little Blocks

This afternoon I sewed together five of the fifteen 9-square blocks that I need for my son's quilt.

I am using the I-Spy fabric I bought recently, but had to add extra squares in there to make it the size I wanted. Unfortunately, when I cut most of the 90-odd squares I wanted, I hadn't bought a rotary cutter yet. It is difficult to cut exactly square with scissors, and the blocks are a little off as a result. I'm not going to stress out about it, but I do need to square up the blocks before sewing everything together. For that I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get a quilting ruler. There's just no way I'm going to get these blocks perfectly square without one!

No blog entry is complete without a few pictures, so here is what I made today.

I love the little chap in the corner, with his nicely combed hair and hands in his pocket. He's so cheerful!

Doesn't the bottom middle square look like a section from a Candy Land game?

I love the Uncle Sam hats.

The little rocket man kills me!

And of course, SOCK MONKEYS.

The Never-Ending Quilt Project is Finished

At last!

My oldest child will be 7 next month. Four or five years ago, my mother and I decided to make her a quilt. We had no real idea what we were doing; no experience quilting, no idea how to cut things square or line up seams. We dove right in to make a quilt full of triangles of all different sizes, and it was -- predictably -- not all that easy to do!

I soldiered on with it until the halfway point, then sewed an entire strip of triangles with the wrong seam allowance. (Yes, I was trying to match up seams in huge chunks at a time; no wonder I was frustrated) It wasn't the end of the world, because I had sewn the patches too big rather than too small, but it was still mightily depressing and I put the quilt away for a very long time.

Until now! For whatever reason, I felt the urge to pick it back up again and finish what I started so many years ago. The prospect of fixing the seam allowances and finishing off the rest of the quilt didn't seem so daunting any more, and I was determined to finish it before Cookie #4 is born.

Once I got into it, the process didn't take me all that long. The seam allowances are still mightily wonky, but there wasn't much I could do since the triangles were cut wrong to begin with. The key to good quilting is painstaking accuracy, but at the time, I cheerily cut away thinking that it would all work out without much effort on my part. Lesson learned, folks!

I backed the quilt with a fleece blanket. I tried to do this with my baby quilt project, but after a lot of thought I realised that the tension was too high on my machine and it stretched out the fleece far too much to make it match to the cotton fabric of the quilt top. After adjusting the machine settings, I simply sewed round the edges, pulled the blanket through a hole at the bottom, and finished off the edges with a final seam around the outside. It isn't quilted, so you won't find any fancy stitch work on it, but it is finished! That's the main thing.

Since the fleece backing worked so well with this quilt and my baby quilt (more on that later), I will be using the same method for my other two quilts for the kids. It's not the traditional way of quilting by any means, but fleece blankets are so soft and cuddly, don't you think?

PS -- I can't get Blogger to reduce the size of the image, but it is clickable, if you want to look at the entire quilt and not just half of it...