Monday, June 30, 2014

In The Mail Monday: Zipit

Just a short post to hold you over until I can sit down and write something meaningful.  Yes, I've been doing things and taking pictures.  I just need to sit down and share it with you.
I occasionally buy zippers for projects.  For my money, the best price, service and selection is through Zip It on Etsy.  I can never buy just a couple of zippers, either.  I always end up with at least 25 zippers in a multitude of colors.  So, the next time you need a zipper, or 25 or 50, check out Zip It.

The small print:  I wrote this because I am legitimately happy with the price, service and selection I receive when shopping with Zip It.  I was not compensated for these statements.  Excuse me, I have zippered pouches, bags and stuff to make.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Piecing a Quilt Back

When I picked the fabrics for this quilt, I decided to use this 2 yard cut I picked up in the discontinued section of my local quilt shop.  I bought it for quilt backing but for a much smaller quilt.
After I had I pieced the quilt top and realized I would have to add something to the backing fabric to make it big enough.  Pieced backings are a great way to use up some of those orphan blocks and add some visual interest to the back of your quilt.
I had several leftover blocks, so those were pieced together to be inserted.  This part is very straight-forward; just regular piecing. Let's go over how I pieced rest of the quilt back.  (For the record, this is not the only way to do this.  This is MY way of doing it.) There are very specific reasons I piece my backings this way. 

To keep these long cuts (about 2 yards long) straight, I tear my fabric.  Cut a 1" snip about 12" from the selvage edge.  (I never remove the selvages from the outside edges of the quilt back before quilting, I'll go over this more later.)  Tear the fabric from this snip the length of the fabric.
When I measured my row of blocks, it was long enough for the quilt, but just a little bit shorter than the rest of the backing fabric.  I pieced in some muslin just so it would match up.  This muslin is well into the excess (meaning waste that will be cut off after quilting but is required for loading onto the frame) for this backing.
Since I ripped the fabric, I put in a much wider seam allowance.  For smaller piecing I don't mind the 1/4", but for those long seams I think a seam allowance of 1/2" to 5/8" is more appropriate. 
These wide seams get pressed open.  These are the only seams I press open.  I am trusting the light scrim on the back of my batting to help prevent bearding through these seams.  I know some people press all their seams open, but I don't for 1/4" seams.  I don't think it makes a strong enough seam when it is pressed open and I don't care for pressed fingers.
With my row of blocks stitched in, I tested against the top.  There were some choice words and a long sigh when I realized I was still about 3" too narrow.  If I was not my own long arm quilter this would have been more like 9" too short, but I'll cover that another time.  I had to come up with another 3-4" of backing fabric with seam allowance.
I had about 1/4 of a yard of this turquoise fabric and a trimmed off 2" strip of the chevron fabric.  I decided to sew those two together and then trim the 10" by width-of-fabric piece into 4.5" rectangles.  Then, I sewed them together into one long strip.  I really like this detail.  The chevrons just peek out of that bold, solid strip.
I repeated the process of tearing for the other side.  This is where it comes down to personal preference.  I put the first one in at around 12" from the selvage edge.  I did the same with the second insert, but I could have put it much closer to the first.  Don't be afraid to vary this to create a pleasing backing.  Just avoid getting too close to the edges (to me, anything 6" or less is too close).  I always make sure I have a nice solid piece along the edges.  I don't want to have too many seams along the edges that might interfere when I go to attach the binding.
Again, I used a 1/2" seam allowance and pressed open.
Once it was all pressed from the back, I turned it over and pressed from the front.  Remember, if you can't press it out it isn't likely to get quilted out.
This is what it looked like before I pinned it to the leader for quilting.  Let's talk about those selvages for a little bit.  As you can see, I left them on through the quilting process.  Why?  Well, I have yet to meet a cut edge that is as stable as the selvage.  The selvage won't fray or stretch and is sturdier than the rest of the fabric. This means I have a stable and straight edge to pin to my leaders. I don't square up my backings.  I just make sure the two sides, those with the selvages, are parallel and I have enough extra (6-8") on either end for the clamps.  Besides, I know the selvage is waste, why not use it my advantage so I can start my quilting as close to the usable fabric edge as possible and cut down on waste.   

Piecing tips:
  • always match the length of fabric or width of fabric (warp and weft), most fabric stretches much more along the width than the length
  • sew longer seams before cutting (I sewed the chevron strip to the turquoise before cutting), it is easier to press and trim to size than it is to cut and sew to size
  • tear fabric to keep long edges straight, your ruler can't slip if you tear and this doesn't need to be exact
  • pressing towards the smaller or larger piece may be easier than the dark side, use your best judgement
  • keep most piecing seams away from the edge of the backing to cut down on too many seams building up at the edges
  • leave the selvage on to keep that stable edge to attach to the quilt frame leaders
If you have any questions about how or why I piece my backs the way I do, please ask.  If you want to know why I load the quilt frame the way I do, I'll be doing another post to talk about that.  If you want to know about long arm quilting service, just leave a comment and as long as you are not a "no-reply-blogger" I will get back to you through email.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Charity Quilting: Minnie

I have several quilt tops made by other members of the Annapolis Quilts for Kids chapter.
On Tuesday, I loaded up the long arm and got quilting.  I've had a couple of these charity quilts waiting to be quilted.  A basting stitch to keep everything stable for quilting.  I used Magnifico for the top thread.  I love the shine this poly thread gives to the finished piece.  It is also a very strong thread.
I did a fun clam motif in the outer border.  The inner border was treated as one area with the main body of the quilt.
 The blocks were treated as one big area and quilted the same.
These flowers built on a center swirl were used to fill in the entire center space of the quilt.  This is one of my favorite motifs and is great for filling space quickly and adding loads of texture.
I think the two motifs really bring this little quilt alive.  After trimming I will send the quilt to another member of the Annapolis Quilts for Kids for the binding to be attached.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Triple-Zip Pouch Fun with Thing 1 & Thing 2

I found the Triple-Zip Pouch and knew it would be a great fit to use up some of my zippers.  The prices through ZipIt are just so good I can't help myself and always order way more than I need for a project.  If you decide to do a project with a bunch of zippers, I highly recommend you check out the store.  
I pulled all of the Dr. Seuss fabrics I had for this project.  I never went out of my way to buy these.  They all showed up in one big box of remnants or another.  I was pretty pleased that I had enough to make something with.
This is just an overview of how I put my bag together, not a tutorial.  For that, you should totally go check out A Quilter's Table for all the down and dirty details.  Besides, I went off-pattern from the first cut.  The first thing I did, other than cut my fabrics much bigger, was to change out that one dark zipper for a white zipper.  It seems selecting zippers in bad lighting could lead one to use a purple zipper where a navy zipper would be more appropriate.  Since I didn't have a navy zipper, the white got put in there.  I wanted this bag to have a strap, so that's where that long strip of yellow fabric comes in.  It is made like most fabric bag straps and even has some batting inside to give it more weight.  This was a great project to use up those smaller pieces of fusible batting you don't want to throw away.
I attached the ends for the zippers a little differently, but the result is still the same.  My way actually takes longer, but I like the precision it provides without pinning.
I had to pay close attention to the construction every step of the way for this one.  It wasn't hard once I got the hang of it, but I wanted to make sure I knew what was going on with each additional zipper.  The directions were easy to understand and likely saved me from making an error or two along the way.
The only part that was a little unclear was when I went to stitch up the bag and the lining.  It wasn't difficult, but since I've sewn more than one bag shut without a (non-destructive) way to get it turned right-side out (don't forget to open that zipper!) I was a little concerned.  It all worked out in the end.  I may have to take some pictures when I make the next one in an attempt to make it easier for me to repeat the process.
This bag was fun and I know I'll be making at least a couple more.  I do have an abundance of zippers.
Look at those happy Things!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tool Tip: Thread Snip

This is a quick little tip that I got from a video that was shared on Facebook.  I couldn't find the video, so you'll be stuck with my pictures and basic description.

Do you drop your scissors or the little block units when snipping the threads between chain-pieced units?  Do scissors just seem like an over-abundance of cutting capability to snip those threads so you can move on to the pressing and the next round of chain piecing?  This may be for you!  (You may also think it is just plain silly.  Make up your own mind.)
For this thread cutter you're going to need at least one letter opener like the one shown above and two pieces of hook fastener.  I went with the Command strips from 3M because I could get the fastener and the letter openers in one happy place.
You'll need two pieces of the fastener and one letter opener per installation.  I picked up enough for more than one, but I haven't decided where the second one will be installed.
Take two pieces of the fastener and stick them together with the hook sides of the strips.  This will make your cutter easier to move around or replace.  Pull the paper off the back of one of the Command strips and press firmly to attach to the letter opener.  Figure out where you want to put your cutter.
Pull the paper off the back of the other piece of fastener and press firmly to the underside of your sewing table or chosen location.  I put mine under the edge of my machine table to the left of the machine bed.
You can either turn it around to face the other way when not in use, or remove it and put it into a drawer nearby.  I didn't like mine hanging around, so I put it in the drawer to the right of the machine.

Now you are set to cut those threads at a faster pace without having to pick up your scissors.  Just hold the two chain pieced units, one in each hand, and slide the joint into the slot to cut the threads.  I haven't much testing this one except to make sure it cuts.  I will have to do a bunch of chain piecing to provide a fair review.  If you decide to give it a try, please let me know how it worked out for you.

Do you have any tips for making sewing tools out of unexpected things?

Monday, June 16, 2014

In the Mail Monday

When I went down to the NC Maker Faire, Susan had this great little iron for the booth.
I got a chance to use and decided I wanted one for use at home.
For reference, this iron is cordless in that the power supply is in the base.  The iron isn't much different from a regular iron otherwise.  The heating element is still in the iron, and the temperature and steam settings are on the iron.  The iron simply heats up when plugged into the base.  Remove it, it presses and makes steam.  You still have to put it back onto the base for it stay at the proper temperature.
The heat-resistant case is nice.  You can retract the cord into the base and put the cover over the iron while it is still warm so you can safely carry it.  It is comparable in size to my corded iron.
I put it on the end of the pressing station.  I haven't decided if it is a good "everyday" iron.  I may return to my corded iron because it has different auto-off features that I like better.  I will give a little more time before I make that decision.

Do you have a favorite iron?  In your mind, what is the best feature of your favorite iron?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hexies on the Road from Raleigh

On the trip back from Raleigh, NC, last Sunday, I used my hex punch to make a stack of papers for some EPP.
I also basted the rest of these centers for scrappy flowers.  I love how these flowers will become the center for a field of flowers.  I still don't know how this project will work out, but I'm willing to let it come at its own pace.
Because I am slightly crazy (hence the crazy projects) I also chopped up some charm squares (my papers work great with a 2.5" square) to work on another paper-piecing project.  These fabrics are Vintage Modern from Moda.  I have some coordinating yardage for this, so this should make up into a great throw quilt.  It will probably take me forever to finish, but hand-work is nice to have available.
I didn't get many basted on the trip home, but I did get a start.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thread Thursday

I know, I know, you've heard it before.
I still love getting thread in the mail.  Hopefully I'll get some time to actually use some of it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

NC Maker Faire

Over the weekend, we traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, to attend the NC Maker Faire.  If you've never been to a Maker Faire, I highly recommend you check the site and find one near you.  This is a great event that has something for children of all ages.
I went to the NC Maker Faire to help out Susan from The Bored Zombie.  She had posted that she was going to run a booth and make quilt blocks.  This is totally what I'm about so I couldn't pass it up.  (For the record, I took my camera, but promptly forgot it in the camper so all the pictures I got were from my phone.)

You can read all about the crowd-sourcing project over on The Bored Zombie.  I was there to help with the pressing, the trimming and the sewing.  I had an absolute blast.  Partly because I was totally in my element and because I love talking about all things quilting and sewing.
I could bore you with some more pictures of Maker Faire or just encourage you to GO to Maker Faire.  There are mini faires all over the country.  All over the world!  Go, make!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Quilt as Desired: My Favorite Flower Basket

Basket top c. 1940, Quilter: Karen McTavish, Two Harbors, Minnesota.  I love the rope motif that fills the sashing between the blocks.  
Learn more about Karen on her website McTavish Quilting Studio.

Please check out Mary Kerr's site to see the schedule of when and where these quilts will be throughout the year.  My photographs do not do them justice.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thread Thursday: Superior Thread of the Month Club

Not too long ago I signed up for Superior Thread's Magnifico Thread of the Month Club.
The best part about the club, other than amazing thread in the mailbox every month, is that I can add other things to the order and save on shipping.
This time, I got these fun colors of Magnifico as part of the Thread of Month Club.
I also got these fun samples of Fantastico.  These samples are part of the sample colors they have available.  Some of these may not be offered as colors in regular production.  I just like the fun colors.  I don't even mind that I don't get to pick these.  I like the surprise!
Like I say, I haven't met a Superior Thread I don't like.