Sunday, September 30, 2012

I’m in an orange frame of mind

12Sept30 It must be because I have an October birthday, but my favourite holiday has always been Hallowe’en. Walking along the sidewalk in my costume with my dad, clutching my pillowcase with the night’s haul in it, dead leaves crunching under my shoes, running up another set of uneven porch stairs to another old wooden porch in our neighbourhood; beating my fist on the door while standing under the porch light that was always surrounded by a cloud of fluttering moths, and screaming at the top of my lungs: “Trick or Tree-eet!” Then later, on our way back home, the smell of decaying leaves mixed with charred pumpkin.

I couldn’t resist these lovely fabrics yesterday while we were shopping in Kamloops. They wanted to come home with me and I couldn’t say “no”. I just adore this beautiful Spooktacular fabric from Henry Glass. That orange just gets my imagination going overtime. And it was 70 per cent off, so I have two and a half meters to play with! And some lovely remnants and fat quarters to go with it. Now if I could just get to my sewing machine! It’s currently being occupied by a skookum big quilt. I’m making headway on the quilt, but it’s going to be at least another week before I can get it off of my machine. Until then, I can’t do much else except admire by beautiful Hallowe’en fabric. And that gorgeous Full Moon outside. Can’t wait to see October’s Harvest Moon!

Until then,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Off on the wrong foot

12Sept27fmq Right now I’m thinking that zippers are easier than shoving a queen-sized around in a sewing machine! But that’s all right. My Horizon is a beautiful machine. If I could just distract Rusty and Ginger from plunking themselves down on the quilt while I’m trying to pull/push it around under the needle…

12Sept27darning I’ve been practicing  one of the FMQ patterns I wanted to try. Used it as a warm up this morning before I started quilting. Looked not bad. Put a new needle in and shoved Plan B underneath. About 20 seconds later I realized I had the wrong foot on. I usually use a clear plastic cross-hatch for quilting, but this time I thought I’d try the closed-toe darning foot. Mistake. The small metal foot kept catching on every seam – and there are hundreds. I had to keep stopping, raising the presser foot to let the seam underneath it and then continuing. Pain in the neck! The bobbin finally ran out so I could change the foot without interrupting my sewing part way through. Oh well. It’s a very small portion of the quilt compared to the overall size.

My only real concern right now is that the backing covers the entire quilt. I washed the flannelette before I started and had to piece together the backing because it was pretty narrow. Trying to line up the pattern on the flannelette didn’t leave me very much wriggle room on the back. Here’s hoping…

Until next time,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Making do

12Sept14seams I’ve bought my share of useless gadgets over the years, but I don’t have much in the way of sewing/quilting gadgets. I’d rather spend my money on fabric, I guess. Even then, I look for sales and great deals. Every once in a while, I think I could really use a tailor’s ham to help me press those really awkward seams in bags – because I like my seams to be flat! And sometimes I just can’t get at them with the iron. Drives me buggy.

A week or two ago when I was putting together the last bag, I found this little 2x2 sitting next to my ironing board – the hazards of having a partner who likes to work with wood. There are usually bits and pieces lying around. Like my fabric. I was fretting over the fact that I wouldn’t be able to press the seams right into the 12Sept14join2 corner when the light bulb came on. With just a little bit of co-ordination among the 2x2, the bag and the iron, I was able to get right into the corners and iron those suckers flat!

For some time now, I’ve been keeping my scrap pieces of batting and sewing them together for small projects like mug rugs or other small projects. Any scrap piece over 2 inches wide will do. I used to zig-zag them, but that always pulled the two sides together and made them pucker. Then my neighbour, Judy, suggested that I use a joining stitch. On my Horizon, the #75 stitch works great. I can sew my bits and pieces together and use them on other projects, and you’d never know by looking at them or feeling them that it’s not one solid piece of batting inside. It satisfies the frugal part of me.

12Sept24sunwheel After a few pep talks and a sip of beer (no wine in the house!), I hoisted Plan B onto my sewing machine. She’s a heavy sucker. Flannelette backing. I planned to start with a little stitch in the ditch around the featured areas and was going to use a walking foot until I looked at it and realized how much turning that was going to involve. The weight and bulk of this queen-sized quilt just made that impossible. I’ve never tried freemotion SID before, but following along with FMQ lessons from SewCalGal and Leah Day this past year has helped me immensely – if not to improve, to at least get over my fear of trying. But I think I`ve improved, too. I also decided to place single motifs around the quilt at certain points, which I never would have done if it had not been for Free Motion Quilt Challenge lessons. Like math when you`re a kid, you never think you`re going to use it, but…

Until next time,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Zipper-dee do-dah

12Sept20zip It’s taken some time, but I think that I’m getting the hang of zippers. I’m finished my latest bag and the zippers not only look okay, but they’re facing the right side and they work!

I was attracted to this pattern which I found in recent issue #60 of the magazine Magic Patch. Mostly I wanted to try the binding around the bag frame. I liked the look of it and I thought 12Sept20bag it was an easy way of finishing off the rough edges. Not. Not easy at all, as least, not at this point of my bag-making. I attached the binding and then had to machine-sew it down with a zig zag stitch because I didn’t want to spend the next two weeks hand-sewing it. The zig zag stitch didn’t really look all that good – and I missed in several places that I had to go back and hand-sew anyway – but it’s done.

I also tacked the lining down in several places. By hand. In all four bottom places, and also at both top corners in the in the top centre of the inside pocket because I didn’t want it to feel flimsy when using the pocket. And it doesn’t.

I’m getting better with my pockets. I have an outside patch combined with a zipper pocket; a pleat pocket on the side and a divided inside patch pocket in two different 12Sept20inside shades of pink.

I began with the basic design from the Magic Patch bag instructions and then improvised. A lot. I made it a little smaller because I goofed on the cutting. If I did it again, I’d make it a lot smaller: make it about two-thirds the height. I’m not really big on BIG bags. I like them small and compact. I also forgot the ties at the top when it came time to attach them, so that looks a bit odd. 12Sept20patch All of the pockets were my idea. The handles were my idea. I couldn’t figure out exactly how they installed the top zipper, so I put it together myself after looking at a lot of different tutorials.

In the end, it mostly worked. It was a pain in the butt having to flip the top zipper strips OUT so that the corners were nice and square when I sewed the binding on, and one end is very slightly narrower than the other end. But does anyone other than the creator notice these things? It’ll look better next time I do it.

The really BIG problem with this purse is that I sewed a pin into the fabric.Stitched through the plastic head. Lesson learned: don’t pin to the backside of the fabric you’re stitching, because it’s too 12Sept20pin easy to forget that they’re there. I sewed right over top of it. And how do you fix that? I have to either cut the plastic or cut the stitches, and I don’t really want to do the later.

So, I think this is my last practice bag for now. I need to make some Christmas presents, and they’ll be what they will be.My next project is to FMQ my Plan B quilt.That’s going to be fun.

Until next time,

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stop and smell the apples

12Sept18sampleapple I love this time of year. The mid-day temperature is just right for working outside, and the fresh air is full of the smells of ripening fruit and vegetables and hay fields. The only thing I don’t like is that it means Winter isn’t too far away. Well, we’ll worry about that when it comes. Until then, we’ll be enjoying each day as it comes.

I was between projects, so I was able to get my September Free Motion Quilting Challenge finished (with lots of time to spare until the end of the month). Quilter Paula Reid gave us our marching orders this month in the form of an eight-inch stencil design. Back in April, Don Linn showed us how to transfer an image using tulle. I didn’t have any at the time, so I used Solvy, a water soluble stabilizer made by Sulky. This time I thought I’d use the tulle, since I have a few pieces now. But I 12Sept18sample didn’t have a disappearing transfer pen. So I tried using the Solvy again. Last time I used pen, and a little bit of the ink stayed behind. I used pencil this time and couldn’t see the stencil I’d traced. So I used transfer paper like Paula did.

Like everything, using transfer paper takes practice. The one time I tried it, my motif turned out pretty ugly. This time it wasn’t bad, but transfer paper makes it hard to see where you’ve sewn if you’re travelling over the same lines. It turned out okay. But I got tired of doing my challenges on plain old white fabric, so this time I whipped together a simple eight-inch foundation-pieced block from The Quilters Cache out of some scraps and fat quarters I didn’t really like – but I like the way they turned out. I didn’t intend it, but it looks very “September-y”. It was nice to finish something, however small.

Thanks again to Paula Reid, and to Sew Cal Gal for organizing this amazing year-long series of Free Motion Quilting tutorials. Go here to see how everyone else is responding to September’s challenge.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A peek at the Fair

12Sept12FFa My schedule at work has changed, this past week, and boy am I mixed up. It’s thrown everyone in my office for a loop.I have a weekly deadline, which has been more or less the same for the past 10 years. Last week’s change in timing was major and now everyone's struggling to adjust. It’ll take a little while, but we’ll do it. It’s a good change and means that I’ll be working only 12Sept12FFb five days per week now, instead of seven. What am I going to do with all of this free time?

Our annual Fall Fair was held last week, and that means quilts! Once again I was expecting to have something entered for judging, and once again I didn’t get anything finished in time.Happily, this was not the case for everyone and there were some really cute quilts entered.The pictures in this post are all from the Fair (and none of them are mine!)/








12Sept12FFj I know some of the quilters, but the name on the entry card remains covered unless they win a ribbon. I guess it’s supposed to protect the feelings of the ones who didn’t win, but I think they’re all winners and I’d love to know all of their names.

I haven’t started quilting Plan B yet; and the latest bag is still waiting for handles. Once I get my new schedule sorted out, maybe my projects will get finished faster. But right now there’s lots of yardwork to finish up while we still have some decent weather.

Until next time,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Plan B

12Sept6planb The quilt formerly known as the Mexican Star Quilt is now known as the Plan B Quilt. That’s because I kept running out of material and had to substitute with something else. Or I’d change my plan part way through it. But, a year and a half later, I finally have it pin-basted and ready (or not, here I come) to quilt. Just need some thread, and I’ll be getting that this weekend!

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

One of those days…

12Sept4thread when I should have quit after the first mistake because nothing went right after that. Monday was a holiday here which meant I only had to spend a couple of hours in the office. So I spent most of the day at the sewing machine. With my seam ripper.

I’ve been working on a bag for the past couple of weeks – alternating between it and my “Mexican Star” quilt, which I’ve renamed the “Plan B” quilt – from a magazine pattern which has some interesting features that I’d like to try. And, as usual, I added a few of my own. It has side gussets and a flat bottom, and a recessed zipper. And binding all around the edges. What can I say, it looked simple.

12Sept4zip2 I added an easy patch pocket on the front and also a simple zippered pocket. For the patch pocket, I put together a simple little paper-pieced pinwheel. Looked pretty good until I went to stitch it down. I’ll have to work on making that look neater. Then I put a zippered pocket in above it. Easy. I used the instructions that I found here. Just make a welt pocket and sew a zipper in. Well, my welt construction was way neater than my last two attempts. It probably would have looked great as a welt pocket, but as a zipper pocket not so good. The opening was too wide or the zip was too skinny and I missed half of it with the 12Sept4zip needle. I even taped it down before sewing, but it didn’t help. I finally had to resort to re-stitching it all with an ugly industrial-sized blanket stitch. It’s on there for good now.

There is one thing that I m really proud of here, and that’s this pleated pocket. Second one I’ve made, first one that turned out well, thanks to this tutorial. It really was easy!

12Sept4pocket I used the opportunity to practice my free motion quilting on something I might actually use rather than another practice sandwich. And I have Plan B in need of quilting pretty soon, so I’m thinking about how I want to quilt it. My participation in SewCalGal’s Free Motion Quilt Challenge this year has boosted my confidence in free motion quilting. Now when that little voice in my head says “time to ruin the quilt”, I kick its scrawny little butt to the corner and go about my quilting. Whether I’ve gotten better isn’t the question – the fact is, I enjoy free motion quilting now. So I practice more. And yes, I get better. What I’ve done here looks pretty wonky, but it’s improving.

12Sept4fmq Pinks and grays aren’t my preferred palette, so I don’t have much in the way of thread. The only pink or gray thread I had was some gray Gutermann’s silk. I didn’t have much luck with it last time I used it. And I didn’t have much luck with it this time either. Gutermann’s polyester is my Go To thread. I use it for everything and would buy it by the caselot if I could. Even the silk thread – it showed up really nicely against the cream fabric, but it kept breaking (see the first picture on this post). I was using a new 80# top stitch needle. I’m sure if I’d fiddled with the tension for a couple of hours I might have gotten it to work right, but I’m not at that stage yet. Instead I just trimmed my thread, rethreaded my machine and started again. It’s practice. Backed myself into a few corners, stopped and started again. Easy.

Now I’m working on the binding. I’ve spent twice as much time unstitching the binding as I have sewing it on. The second time I stitched it on, I zigzagged it real good, so it’s taking an extra long time to unstitch it. If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because I’ve gone cross-eyed.

Until next time,