Thursday, July 28, 2016

crosscut quilt along

Ever since Debbie at A Quilter's Table posted a tutorial for her awesome Crosscut Quilt I've wanted to make one. When she announced that she would be hosting a quilt along this past week via Instagram I was all over it! I quickly prepped my fabric and was ready to start on Monday when she posted her first step.
I chose a variety of low volume prints from my stash for the background and an assortment of red strips for the accent. Honestly, I chose red because that's what I had the most strips of!

Day one, we made X blocks, and day two we trimmed them all to equal size an sewed them into a 3x3 grid. My blocks were trimmed to 9 inches, finishing at 8 1/2 inches.
At this point we had what would be a lovely quilt top, don't you think? Even Ally approved. But that was not the end of it.....

The next day we were instructed to cut up our quilt top into smaller squares. Some members of the quilt along balked at this step. Not me! I was excited to chop it up and see where it would go. And so I did.
I cut 16 six inch blocks. Then I scrambled them around and sewed them back together to make this...
hmmm I'm not sure what that extra red piece is in the bottom corner, but you get the idea.

And now I have a confession to make. In my usual fashion, I couldn't stop. Once I got to this point I had to finish it. So, without waiting for the rest of the quilt along gals, I quilted it up and put the binding on that same day!  I'm impatient like that I guess.

I started out straight line quilting on a diagonal, fairly densely. My quilting lines were about 1/4 inch apart, give or take. Since this project was all about improv, I didn't worry about consistency much. Ok, let's be honest, my straight line quilting is often imperfect! When I got tired of going in one direction, I would turn and do a section of straight lines in a different direction. I continued in this manner until the whole thing was quilted.
And the binding? scrappy low volumes with some little red pieces tucked in here and there. Can you see them?
I think you can see my quilting a bit better in this picture. 

At this point, Ally came in to see what I had done and she was APPALLED! I think her exact words were "MOM! This is a MESS! There's no symmetry!" then she proceeded to inform the dog that I had made something ugly. Ha! When she asked what it was for I told her it was for her new apartment, hahaha. NO WAY! this baby is MINE. 

 I had so much fun dabbling in improv, exploring a new to me technique. Thank you Debbie for hosting this awesome quilt along! I loved it! There are so many fabulous crosscut quilts being made... check out #crosscutquiltalong to see them all.

My crosscut quilt finished at 22 inches square.

Friday, July 22, 2016

sewing with handwovens

I've shared before that I am enjoying incorporating my handwoven fabrics into my sewing projects. I really like combining them with purchased quilting cottons. Here's my latest, a Lola Pouch (pattern by Sotak Handmade)
Having found no real tips or examples that suit me online, I've been experimenting and have come up with a method that works for me. I thought I'd share my tips here. Maybe they will help someone else? At the very least, I will have them documented for my future projects.

First off, I learned early on from my awesome weaving friend Kathie to make use of every inch of my warp. I usually put enough warp on my loom to weave 2 or 3 dishtowels, plus extra. Once I have woven the towels, I plain weave the rest of my warp into fabric that can later be used for whatever I choose.
I am really loving weaving my 8/2 cotton yarn (very thin) onto my thicker cotton warp. It makes a sturdy fabric that still has a bit of drape. After I remove it from my loom, I zigzag the edges, wash & machine dry, just like my towels.

The trouble (not trouble really, the interesting thing) about handwoven fabric is that you can't just cut into it. The edges will unravel if you don't finish the edges first. Here's how I have done this for the bags I've been making.

First, I iron ShapeFlex 101 (SF101 my favorite interfacing) on the back of my fabric piece, and draw the pattern pieces right on the SF101 with a pencil or marker.
I set my machine to a small, tight zigzag (these are the settings that are working best for me, you'll have to experiment on your machine!) You want the zigzag to be less than a 1/4 inch wide so that it ends up in your seam allowance later on.

Now I do a zigzag stitch all the way around inside the drawn lines of my pieces.
It's a good idea to zigzag on the outside of your lines too, so that your leftover fabrics will still be useable. Even small strips can be made into bookmarks or perhaps sewn into a patchwork project. I don't want to waste even a tiny bit of fabric I have worked so hard to create!

Now I simply cut apart on the drawn lines. I like to use scissors for this part. I suppose you could use a rotary cutter if you have very good control. And your pieces are ready to be sewn into a project! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pow Wow baby quilt

This is my first documented finish for the third quarter of the Finish-along. I finished another before this but I can't share it just yet! Anyways, here it is, a baby quilt for the final KNOWN pregnant person in my life. It's a Pow Wow quilt by Cluck Cluck Sew. Baby's room is being decorated in black, white and gold. I used solid black Kona Cotton and white cotton with gold polka dots and triangles from Hobby Lobby. I chose to bind the quilt in black & white stripe which always makes me happy!
I did the quilting myself, just some straight lines & echo quilting in the white sections. I wish I had more confidence in quilting on my domestic machine, but this worked out pretty well.

I had grand plans for photographing this one. Our public library has some bright blue metallic walls which I figured would make the quilt really pop. And it would have. However....

The packing tape which I tried to bunch up and stick the quilt on the wall with stuck to EVERYTHING... my hands, the wall, my camera. Everything except the quilt! Ha. I got lots of shots of the quilt falling to the ground and gobs of tape stuck to the wall. sigh. So I went with the tried & true quilt holder-upper.

Hubby always does a great job, but it's not quite what I was going for! If I was more photo-editing savvy I'd photo shop out his fingers & legs. Oh well, you get the point. For the record, packing tape does not stick to quilts. At the advice of Debbie at A Quilter's Table I've ordered some industrial strength sticky velcro to try next time. Meanwhile, this little guy is in the mail.

Oh, another plus! All those flying geese (each "arrow" is made of 2 flying geese) yielded me 100 extra half square triangle blocks (2 1/2" square). Since Ally is decorating her new apartment in the same colors, I put these together into a pillow topper for her! Score! Also, I picked up a bunch of different black/white/gold fabrics to make more pillows. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 15, 2016

San Francisco Swing Dress

More pattern testing! I recently got to test out Caroline Hulse of Sew Caroline's newest pattern, the San Francisco Swing Top & Dress, available today. 
Ally was the lucky recipient of two dresses. She loves to wear little knit swing dresses & this pattern fit the bill.
The pattern calls for knit with at least 40% stretch. I did see that one tester made the top out of a woven and was happy with the result. My dresses are both knits. This one is a blend, cotton/spandex and the blue one below is cotton interlock. It's a quick make, front, back, neckband and sleeve bands and easy to assemble. The high neck is very cute & easy to do.

I made the dress version. The top also has an option for a split back, which is adorable. 

I'll be making more of these for sure! Had a great time testing it out for Caroline.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Laura Purse

Svetlana over at Sotak Handmade has done it again! Her newest pattern, the Laura Purse, is out today. I had the privilege of pattern testing the bag for her these last few weeks. I love pattern testing! Especially for Svetlana, as her patterns are so well done. The hardest part of testing is keeping things a secret from you!

The first bag I made was using some of Joann's quilting cottons. It was barely finished when Ally snatched it out of my studio and claimed it for her own. I was lucky to get it back from her for some photos! 
This purse is a good sized bucket bag, with an interior zipper pocket and a slip pocket too. It's very sturdy, with canvas as the interlining. I was afraid of the grommets but I shouldn't have been! A few whacks with a hammer & they went in perfectly. The shoulder strap is removeable & the drawstring tie closes it all up neat and tidy (and is a great design feature too).


I had a hard time deciding whether to use the cute stripe or the floral for the exterior of the bag!

After Ally ran off with my original, I decided to make another bag for me. While shop hopping nearby quilt stores to collect my row by row patterns, I found the perfect fabric at Not Your Mama's Quilt Shop in Plano. It's called "Wove it or Weave it" by Michael Miller & I seriously want to go back and buy up the entire line.

The "solid" blue is Peppered Cotton that I picked up at Urban Spools (and yes, I bought several colors) Seriously, this is my new favorite purse. It's so spacious, I can fit everything but the kitchen sink in there!
I have always been terrible at inset zipper pockets, but I followed Svetlana's directions and both purses came out great! not a tuck or bubble in sight. whew!

It took me one pretty solid day of sewing for each bag. Totally worth it for the awesome finished product. This is a pattern I'll return to again for sure.

You can buy your copy of the pattern here. Thanks so much Svetlana for letting me test this one out! It's a keeper.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

quilts for a broken world

Whenever tragedy strikes I feel so helpless. Like the horrible shootings in Orlando recently. Totally senseless. Innocent people gone. Loved ones mourning. I didn't know anyone there, yet I felt the pain as if they were my own children or friends. 

When I heard the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild was rallying to make rainbow heart quilts (#quiltsforpulse) for the victims families & the wounded left behind I went immediately to my studio and began sewing heart blocks. 
My guild, the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild, collected dozens of blocks at our meeting last week. They will be assembled into finished quilts and sent to the Orlando Guild. It's a small thing to do really, but I know it will bring comfort to those who are hurting. And it made me feel better to do something. Anything.

And then, just a few days ago, I woke to the news of the fallen police officers right here in Dallas.  Just miles from my home. Another senseless shooting. More innocent lives lost. More wounded. More grieving. More brokenness.

And within the day the Dallas Modern Guild and the Fort Worth Modern Guild had begun to rally. #quiltsforpeace was born and the McKinney Modern Guild quickly got on board. And I went back to my studio, set aside the projects I was working on, and began to make blue hearts.

Five blocks. One for each of the fallen officers. 

My heart is breaking for our world.  Why would anyone kill another based solely on who they love, the color of their skin or their occupation? How many lives will be lost before we come to our senses?  I don't understand. 

What can we do? For me, making quilt blocks is a simple act that I can participate in. And praying. For the families of the lost. For all who are fighting to heal. Even for those who are consumed by hate. Perhaps mostly for them, as they are the most in need of prayers. 

I urge you to do something. Maybe making quilt blocks is not an option for you. Maybe you can make a plate of cookies and deliver them to your local police station. Or to a neighbor who is different from you. Maybe you know someone who is hurting and you can just be with them. Certainly pray. Our world needs our prayers.

Friday, July 8, 2016

third quarter finish-along goals

Participating in the finish-along has been a huge help to me this year! I managed to complete all of my goals in the first and second quarter and am inspired to do it again this quarter. Here are the projects I WILL get done....

First up, this swap quilt needs to be quilted, labelled & bound before our August guild meeting, so it can be sent to my partner in the Triad meets McKinney swap. Sorry I can't reveal the colors just yet, but I'm so happy with the way it came out & I'm a tiny bit afraid to start quilting. But I shall, no worries....
This pile of lovelies is really two projects..... a PowWow baby quilt for a friend and a stack of pillows for Ally's new apartment. Both are decorating in black/white/gold which came in handy at fabric buying time....

This rather boring looking yardage of gray knit is destined to become two very cute dresses for my girls. Yes, they are getting matching dresses (I think the last time that happened they were six & infant & the dresses had bunnies on them!) Anyways, I can't share the pattern with you just yet as I have been pattern testing and it is yet to be released. Soon. Very soon.
And finally, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I WILL finish My Small World quilt top this quarter, come heck or high water! I started it with a gusto in January and have worked on it in fits & starts ever since. I love it and it needs to be finished. So there. I said it and now you can hold me to it!
So four, really five finishes for the third quarter. I think I can, I think I can...

Linking up at A Quilter's Table.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nametag swap

Last month at our Modern Guild meeting, we drew names to make each other new name tags. I was quite happy to choose Rachel, a friend and fellow board member. She requested teals & purples. Since I had a charm pack of grunge on hand, I pulled out all the colors that would work & made some EPP hexies. Because, well, hexies are my thing! 
A short time later, a little English paper piecing, a little hand embroidery... and this is how it turned out...
I even made her a lanyard using fabric scraps from my stash that matched her color request. I used Three Owls Handmade's tutorial for the lanyard, left off the hook and attached the name tag by sliding the attached loop onto the split ring. Easy peasy! I love wearing name tags on a lanyard, do you?

I received in return this beautiful name tag made by my friend Bettepat
The bright colors make me so happy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

bags from handwoven fabric

Ever since I started weaving, I have been saving scraps left over at the ends of my warps knowing eventually I would turn them into "something". Often these were the experiments, trying out different colors/weights of yarn to see what worked.  Always, they were too pretty to throw away!

The other day I bought a lime green jelly clip frame, not knowing what I would do with it. When I laid it next to my handwoven leftovers from my table runner, I knew they belonged together.

You might notice this is a tad wonky. sheesh! Turns out the handwoven is quite bulky and I had a difficult time jamming it into the frame! In fact I broke my purple-thang (insert cry here) let out quite a few not-nice words and basically got glue EVERYWHERE. Oh well, it's done.
I do love the yellow lining. Really, the materials are perfect together but I am a disaster when it comes to gluey projects. Lesson learned. Again.

Next I set out to make Sotak Handmade's Foldover pouch from another of my handwoven. This time....
Perfection! Of course Svetlana's pattern is perfect, as always. The fabric was bulky and the final turning was a challenge but it adds just the right bulk to this little bag. Yay!
I'll be making more of these for sure! Tips for working with handwoven fabric:

I traced my pattern pieces onto SF101 (my favorite interfacing), Ironed in onto the back of the fabric. Next I zigzagged just inside the cutting line to prevent my fabric from unravelling and cut the pieces out on the drawn line. 

Any time I needed to cut a piece of handwoven, I zigzagged on either side of the cutting line.

It worked out great! Now, what to try next....