Monday, March 31, 2014

A few finishes

    This week seems like less ripping out or malfunctioning. I was able to finish the 3 Dudes comfort quilt and another Exploding Square one. I sewed more One block wonders blocks. Twenty five to go yet. Packing for a quilt workshop at Hudson River Art Workshops coming up with Rayna Gillman. I admire her work so much and it is my birthday present to myself as it is a big birthday. I want to learn from her to do more improv. I like the improv the best. I love to treadle crumb blocks and strips. I want to be much better at designing these.
    All these quilts are comfort quilts, waiting for a name to go out in its tote. All sewn on vintage Singers, pieced on a 15, FMQ on a 301.

Kids prints center, Disappearing Nine patch. Basted now, needs FMQ
Another Exploding Squares all done

3 Dudes design, all done

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ria's Tote- Accomplished!

    After a great deal of thinking, ripping, more ripping, and even more ripping, Ria's tote bag is done. I had searched for a pattern and found one that had a zipper top that could fall inside when not used instead of zipping flush with the top (hard to zip when full). I wanted handles that attached not at the top because of the strain it puts on the top edge. I thought I found the ticket with a pattern from byAnnie (the Totally Trendy Tote). Nope. I wish that pattern sellers would show you the insides and more closeups in their promo pictures. This pattern did not have a separate lining so that you could have pockets on the inside (pockets on the inside of a tote such an unusual concept?). From the photo, it looked as though it had a solid color bottom and then patterned body, but no. It calls for one large pattern fabric piece with dark strips sewed over the sides- not real useful when the bag is set on dirty surfaces and a waste of patterned fabric. I asked a few purse maker friends for advice. Since they do this stuff all the time, it was helpful, but the nitty gritty that they do automatically left me wondering what was next and why it wasn't right. I tried cutting a paper pattern out, but paper was not helpful here. I ended up dividing the fabric with one piece for the bottom and lower sides (the dark), and 2 pieces of patterned for the sides. I did not sew strips over the beautiful flower fabric.
Bottom piece with 2 pieces of patterned fabric attached. Front pockets done.
I ended up quilting the flowers after this on the whole bag.
Zipper pinned wrong way. Unfortunately, I sewed it this way. And ripped it out.

   The straps were supposed to be sewn and turned inside out and webbing pulled through the inside. I did not think I could do that well without stretching the seams on the straps. So, I used the Soft and Stable stuff cut in strips, put inside the straps and then sewn shut with rows of topstitching. I think they are stiff enough. The Soft and Stable is spongy to sew and bunches the fabric. It gives good body and flexibility, but sews funny. 
   I was advised not to cut the rectangles in the bottom to make the boxed bottom as per directions because it weakens the fabric. I sewed a triangle across the seam after I sewed the side seams and did not trim the triangles off as I wanted to bottom of the bag to have some weight. I used the outside dimensions of the bag and cut a out a lining. I made inside pockets by using a long strip of fabric doubled in width so I could fold it over lengthwise and used Decor Bond interfacing to make the pockets stiff. I put a long pocket, 6" deep, on both sides of the bag. I made one light, and one dark so maybe putting things in them would be easier to remember which side pocket. I asked Ria how wide she wanted the divisions in the pockets, drew lines and then top stitched over them. 

Inside pockets and bag bottom removable piece
    On the byAnnie site was a video tutorial on the zipper. It was helpful, but did not show the last step in attaching the zipper pieces to the bag. So, it took three tries (rip, rip, rip) to get it, the lining and the bag attached. I used the glue binding method I learned on Sharon Schamber's site that I use on all my quilts, to attach the binding before sewing. I sewed the binding to the front top edge (glued first), and then ironed and glued the binding to the bag and top stitched in the ditch on the front with invisible YLI thread. Ah, it is done.
Bag without binding and zipper, lining about to be ripped out
Gluing the binding; zipper and lining basted in 1/8" from edge

Binding, lining and zipper attached

   Bottom line- I would not buy the pattern again. The directions and illustrations were not easy to follow. I would make a mockup bag smaller and get all the mistakes made on that. I still have not found a tote that is simple, has a zipper, and has pockets inside and out that I would use. The Soft and Stable made the tote firm, but not stiff, so I would use that again. I would not use buttons again as the purse feet as prescribed in the pattern. 
Sits well with Soft and Stable

With zipper shut

   Now, I just have to get it to Ria. I would hate to crunch it up to mail it to her.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

And now for something a bit different...

     A friend of mine, who is incredibly talented, in entering a fiber art fashion show that is emphasizing creative use of materials, recycling, etc sponsored by the Impact Artist Gallery as a fundraiser at the Tonawanda Castle, April 6th. Susan made a bunch of dresses out of something like Tyvek and gave me one to add tangles. I used a very big Sharpie and stayed with one color. The back and front are drawn differently. It was hard to draw on this stuff as it was not smooth. I am glad it is done. It does not fit me as she made them all a size 10- so I can't even try it on and see how it looks not on a hanger.
    I guess we all need to dp something out of our comfort zone once in a while.
Finished Front


Back in process

More in process

Back finished

Monday, March 24, 2014

More organizing, it goes on and on...

    Well, as I work, I mess things up. All those scraps, threads, detritus of making stuff just accumulates and then begins to interfere with working. I have to stop and reassess. I put all the surface stuff in a big box to clear and then sorted things out and put them away. I am trying to think about how to put stuff away and how I use it. For example, I make leader and enders as I sew and they end up in a heap. So, I put them in a small plastic crate near the iron so when I press my piecing, I can press them also. When I cut out pieces, I try to cut the scraps into sizes that I store in plastic trays. Instead of sorting them out as I cut them, I am stacking them in a small box near the cutting mats. When I have just a few minutes to work on something, I will take the basket to the bins and sort them into the right place. I keep thinking of few minute jobs when I am waiting on something else and making a basket for them. Bigger fabric pieces I keep stacked in a plastic tray so that I can cut bigger squares, 5", 6", or bigger when have more than 5 minutes to do something. I cut and save- 2", 2 1/2", 3, 4, 4 1/2, 5, 6, and bigger squares for my exploding squares quilts. I use the 2 1/2" pieces as leader/enders by my piecing machine and they are sorted by light and dark so I can piece 4 patches which I will use later in scrap quilt.

Cutting/Pressing area all better for now

Top surface ok, pieces for a circle quilt stacked under
on paper according to value (photo below). Not a great solution.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Some quilt progress

     Finally, the Red, White and blue quilt, 60 x 60, from the Cozy Quilt Pattern is done. I used the walking foot to do the straight line quilting in the diamond shape. I have difficulty with it because it has a tendency to put some pleats in the background fabric. I never have trouble when I FMQ. Any suggestions? I did the borders in free form red stars.

    I layed out all the blocks for the diagonal variation using the animal skin jelly rolls and numbered all the rows and blocks. I have two of them to piece, but I only took a photo of one because the other was on the floor. 

   I also finished a half sheet watercolor painting of my hydrangeas in the snow.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My most hated tool

    I am not sure why, but lately for every stitch I make, I am ripping out twice as much. I do not have a seam ripper that I like. I have tried a bunch, but they all are a pain. They need a thinner point to slip under stitches easier and are easier to hold. What would really help is not having to use one at all.

Not as easy as the delete key
     One item I have had an incredibly awful time with is FMQ the Big Leaf quilt I made. No matter what machine, what thread, what needle, it kept skipping stitches. Finally, I washed it to get rid of the spray basting (June Tailor which I never use), and it quilted better, but some of the batiks keep shredding the thread. Lots of ripping and muttering.
Still not done

    Just a note to think about: the Hands2Help Challenge from Sarah Craig at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. The button is on my sidebar, and I will be a guest blogger in May detailing the Exploding Squares quilt for you.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Quilt cards

    Just love to make quilt cards with my batik scraps. I had some birthdays around recently, including my grandson (forgot to take the picture of the trucks fabric card) and granddaughter (one day, two years apart although neither fell on my birthday, March 3rd). I like to make multiple cards at the same time because I get more warmed up as I go and it is a lot of scraps to take out and make a mess. I start with cut heavy weight interfacing and layer scraps on. I iron them and quilt them on, in this case my Singer 15 with belted motor. Then I used ribbon yarn to edge the cards. I did this on the 401 with zig zag and invisible thread. I just have to fasten the quilts onto the cardstock, stamp the inside, and address the envelopes.
Inside of Jolene's accordion card

Outside of card looking in
Before edging

Before edging

After edging

After Edging

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Just L-O-V-E the fabric scraps!

    Two generous women on the quilt retreat gave me an ultra big bag of scraps. It took me all week to sort out. Some were batiks that I sort out separately. All the bigger pieces I could cut into blocks, I pressed and stacked to cut. Any strip type pieces I sorted by color and put by color in my shallow stacking plastic boxes. The batiks, if small were put loose into baskets by color. Bigger pieces were folded and put by color value into shoebox type boxes. All that color was pure joy!

Strips being sorted by color

Sorting batik scraps by color

Bigger batik pieces

Pieces to press and cut into blocks

Kid fabric sorted out
     The sewing studio part is pretty neat now. The inspector general approves of the quilt yet not finished being FMQ.
Yes, somedays I use all the machines. Each has its purpose.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's kid stuff!

     My mom finished sewing strips I gave her from  One set of the blocks is the pattern from there, diagonal variations. I cut the animal skins jelly roll in half the long way and paired it with a greys roll and a white on white roll. This will make two comfort quilts. After I cut the tube, they really need squaring up, so I have to trim all 58 blocks to 8". Then I will have two quilts, 5 blocks by 6 blocks. Then add borders. These could be for a child or a man, I think.

Blocks cut from a tube of strips
     The next quilt I forgot to photo while on the design wall. I labeled the block numbers and took it down before I remembered. These blocks are 12.5" each and are made from 5" squares. I only used kid fabric in four squares so I could stretch the kid fabric I have.

    The next quilt is from strips again. It is the 3 Dudes pattern. I only had enough strips to have them sewn in groups of 4. This makes for small blocks. I think I will sew the 4 as shown and put sashing in between so I can get a decent size lap quilt.
Four blocks cut from one set of squares

One of the squares, another one sewn with stripes in the opposite direction

Monday, March 10, 2014

Catching Up

     When I looked at my camera, I realized I had not taken photos off in a while. I can't seem to do it quickly, as I label them as I take them off, put them in folders, and try to remember what is where. I don't just wholesale remove them in one folder as I know I will never get the time to sort them. A lot has happened since I took the first photos. My guild and some friends did a quilt retreat at Stella Niagara Center of Renewal in Lewiston, NY. Friday, Saturday and Sunday the last weekend of February was lots of fun. I kept quilting on one quilt, which is not done yet, so I am not showing it.
    Here are some of what other people worked on.

Ten minute table runner and purses

A quilt for WNY Heroes

Judy Niemeyer Paper Piecing

Twister pattern

     Before I left, I did two blocks for a collaborative quilt. It is a wonky star. I love the idea of wonky, don't know if I like the stars. I think I would have to crop the block smaller to be happy.