Monday, April 30, 2012

Pushing the boundaries

12Apr30a I hate leaving things until the last minute because I don’t like rushing to get things done. Happens all the time, but I still don’t like it. This month’s Free Motion Quilting Challenge came from Don Linn who demonstrated how to transfer a design onto cloth so that it could be quilted. I finally got a day off work today (second one this month!) and luckily, my calendar still says April.

12Apr30b I didn’t have any of the suggested tulle that he used, and I don’t have access to such things in my small town. I made it into “the city” a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t have time to stop for fabric (*sigh*). So, I wondered what I could do instead. I was about to use the ol’ deck door “light table” – which is really hard on the arms, but… – and then I remembered that I bought some Sulky Solvy a while back for a project that I hadn’t used it for (and now can’t remember even what it was). It was made for a project like this, although at $7 for a 19x32-inch piece, I’m certain it’s a bit pricier than tulle.

But it worked, and I had the opportunity to try something new. And honestly, even though this is the last day of the challenge, I didn’t feel rushed. I laid the Solvy 12Apr30c over the design and traced. Pencil didn’t work, so I used the only fine-tipped marker in the house, which was a Staedtler permanent marker. I tried a little piece first with the fabric and then washed it away. Seemed to work. It’s practice, right? So I made myself a sandwich and pinned it all together.

12Apr30d Sewing through it was no problem, and the wrinkles in the Solvy didn’t make my pattern move around. It stretched over the fabric slightly as I sewed, so it all stayed nicely in place until I was finished. Then I had to wash it off. Goooey! But it all washes off easily. Most of what you see here is shadow, but I think that because I stitched over permanent marker ink, some of the residue was left on the red polyester thread. Still, that doesn’t bother me. because I learned some new tricks. I think I’ll do some fill quilting on this and then bind it and have a little 10x10 inch mug rug or mat.

Meanwhile, the sun is mostly shining here and there’s so much yard work still to do today.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No zipper love

12Apr18bag Well, that was an unexpected blog holiday. Sometimes my long work days extend into the evening with meetings or activities – more activities now that the temperatures are rising.

But I’ve been busy at my machine, too. And I made a new bag, zipper and all. It’s from a free pattern at here at Sew Sweetness, and I chose it because of the zipper, the straps and the darts. There were some tough moments with the zipper, and a fair bit of unstitching, but it wasn’t as bad as the last bag I made. Maybe I’m getting better?

Again, it’s all practice material except for the Pellon 987F, which I bought at my local quilt shop. This is the second time I’ve used the Pellon and the second time my needle has repeatedly gotten stuck in it. I think I’ll be trying something else next time. But 12Apr18straps I was very happy with the way this bag turned out. Mostly. The straps are sewn inside the bag. Took me two tries, but I got ‘em right.

I did the inside divided pocket the right way this time – only took one try! That’s why we practise. As frustrating as it seems at the time, we’re always getting better. I love pockets, and there is such a variety of them to 12Apr18pockets pick and choose from.

This pattern has darts, too. Haven’t tried darts on a bag before. Easy. They don’t thrill me the way that boxed corners do, but you can’t put square corners on a rounded bottom.

The zipper was a pain. I spent the most time on it, trying to figure out what the instructions were telling me. After taking it apart a couple of times I finally went surfing the ‘net, looking for more zipper instructions, 12Apr18darts figuring that if I read a whole pile of them, something would sink in. I found out two things: this pattern seems to have a unique combination of strap placement as well as a zipper; and the majority of zipper tutorials out there spend a lot of time telling you how easy it is. Easy if it’s a simple zipper installment, but as I mentioned, the straps combined with the zipper and the lining made it a challenge. A challenge made a lot easier by Steam-A-Seam 2 quarter-inch double sided fusible tape. The first attempt I made at sewing the zipper resulted in scrunched up zipper material. This tape is wonderful and holds everything nicely in place while you sew. It even comes back off if you’ve sewn the zipper down wrong and have to move it around. Then you can fasten it down again by re-ironing it and it will stay in place while you sew.

12Apr18zipper But it won’t help you install the zipper right side up if you’re intent on putting it upside down. The zipper went in beautifully. Just upside down. *Sigh.* I can see more zipper practise in my future. Good thing I can get them for 10 cents apiece at the thrift store.

Until next time,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Deadlines are highly overrated

12Apr5front … Because stuff happens when it happens. I had to finish my “retirement bag” early. What was going to be a Christmas present to a co-worker became a retirement present when she announced last month that she would be retiring at the end of April. Okay, no problem. Six weeks to figure out how to make a bag. Then last week, retirement date suddenly got moved up to this past Tuesday.

Good thing I’d made a couple of practice bags because, at least I had a “clue”. I didn’t have time to figure out the zipper or the flap. My pockets didn’t turn out 12Apr5side quite the way I wanted them to. But I remembered to pay attention to the direction of my material (up and down or side to side?), and I didn’t put any pockets on the bottom of the bag this time – so I’m learning. I began work on it Monday night and finished up around 3:30 am on Tuesday, her last day of work. I can’t even describe how many times I changed my decision on what fabric to use, or how certain features stumped me, or how many times I had to pull out my stitches. But I got it done, and the finished bag didn’t look too bad. It wasn’t as fancy as I wanted to make it, but it turned out all right.

12Apr5inside My choice of fabrics was a surprise to me because they weren’t the ones that I was going to use. In fact, I cut some other fabric to use, but ended up using these – that I bought from the thrift store. in the end, they just suited her more than the first ones I’d chosen. Again, I used the Crab Bay Project tote at the Blank Quilting site (on page 8), but I made it horizontal this time instead of vertical, and it looked much better. Now that that’s out of the way, I can go back to working on zippers and flaps.

But one day soon I have to get back to my Mexican Star quilt – it’s so close to being done. Just another bag or two…

12Apr5eggies Until next time,