Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thread Thursday: So Fine Attraction

Last month I decided I wanted a change.  One of those changes was to cancel my long-standing (five years or so) charm pack club membership with the Fat Quarter Shop.
I realized that while I love Magnifico from Superior Threads, I like the blending qualities of So Fine! #50 so much more.  I changed my club subscription from Magnifico to So Fine!  This is the first shipment I received.
I love each of these colors and look forward to continuing to build my collection of So Fine! threads.

I had a little trouble with Superior Threads' website as there wasn't an option to cancel my Magnifico subscription online.  A quick email was all it took to get it sorted.  Their customer service is very good.  I was just frustrated that I was unable to do it on the website like the site said I could.  (Clicking the cancel button just tells you to contact them via email or phone to cancel, which isn't a cancellation at all.)  This could be a holdover from when they revamped their website a couple months ago, so I hope this is just a hiccup they can fix.

Have you tried any new threads this year?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Tool Tip: The Phonebook

This one isn't really news, but I wanted to share it just in case you hadn't heard about it.
There are so many tutorials out there on making different string blocks.  I will just cover this one tip.  If you want to learn more, go check out this great tutorial from Bonnie Hunter.  First, start with a nice thick phone book that the phone people will give you even if you never, ever, ever intend to use it to look up a phone number.  I recommend you take a look at how many of these end up in the landfill and make sure that if you don't recycle them for foundation paper piecing you at least make sure it makes it into the recycle bin.
I cut my squares to 6.5" by 6.5" for a finished block of 6" by 6".  This is a great size for ease of sewing and for making charity quilts.
When I sew these blocks I do not mark.  I grab a mostly straight sting and pin it to the center of the paper along the diagonal.  This is the only piece I pin.  I find that the paper is a little slippery and the first strips might become a little wonky without the pinning.  By pinning, I mean I stick two pins in that center piece just long enough to stitch it and the next strip down.  I work on two or three at a time, adding from the center out.  I do press with my iron but finger pressing will work if you don't want to take the time.  This is my personal preference.  Do what makes you happy.
Once I have covered all of the paper with my strings I press the block and trim from the backside to my desired measurement.  I made up a few blocks and set this project aside for a while.  I have plenty of strings to work from and I'll use this a quick project I can pick up when I don't have much time.  Pulling the papers off will be a good project on game night.

Have you been working on any scrappy projects to work through some of your scraps?  I would love the hear about it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

In the Mail Monday

To be truthful, I received a collection of charm squares came on Saturday but I'm not going to let that slow me down.
One of my new-found peeps on Instagram put out the call to swap some 5" charm squares and as you  know, I have stacks and stacks and stacks.  At least three stacks.  That seems about right.  This picture shows about... half, yeah, half of those charms.  I figured I should totally play along and send some charms.  I like fabric!
On Saturday this great package of charms showed up.  Slow-poke me still hadn't made it to the post office when it arrived.  I'm a much better swap partner than it seems, really!  Look at these bright and cheery colors!  I totally need to get moving on a charm quilt or I'll be buried in these things.  Thank you Sara!  It was great.  I mailed those charms, promise!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

All You Need is LOVE!

If you've never played the card game Fluxx you should totally go and buy a copy.  The game is easy to play and fun.  Why do I bring this up?  Because one of the ways to win is with a card called "All You Need is Love."  (My mad Google Skills tell me this goal is available in Fluxx 2.0 and they are on version 5.0 so your mileage may vary.)  What does that have to do with what I made this week?  You'll have to follow along to find out.

Leasa over at Project Leasa challenged pretty much all of Instagram to sew from their stash in 2015.  She has started off with a great challenge for January.  Go get the details of the first challenge from her blog and meet me back here.  I'll wait.
The challenge was to use at least 75% of the materials for the project from your stash.  I will have to admit that I had 100% of these materials on-hand.  Batting, thread, fabric, everything!  Don't be proud of me.  This means I'm about two steps from being a hoarder.  Okay, a few more than two steps, but I have plenty of fabric.  This fabric has been around since some time in 2012 when I received it as part of the Fat Quarter Shop's charm pack club.  (Sadly, I canceled this subscription in December.)
The background fabric is leftover backing from my Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt.  Leasa shared this pattern from Robert Kaufman and I thought it would work out great for the fabrics I had on hand.  I modified the pattern for the size I wanted to make and the fabric I had on-hand.  Each of these little square finishes at 2" by 2".
I pressed my design boards into action to keep everything straight after I decided on the layout.  This charm pack had several repeats of some fabrics so it wasn't easy to keep the fabrics from being close to their mates.  I'm sure I could have agonized over fabric placement and made it much more pleasing but I have vowed that a finished quilt is much better than a perfect quilt that may never happen.
The piecing was really straightforward.  I changed the large background areas to use a solid piece of fabric instead of piecing 25 tiny squares for what is basically a solid block.
I had plenty of fabric left over after I had made the center so I decided that adding the little charms around the outside would really make this little quilt shine.  I put some of the leftover black squares in there to let the quilt breath a little.
Once I got it all pieced together I decided it needed something to fill in one of those large, empty, corner squares.  Something that echoed the design in meaning and color.  I used this design from Urban Threads Embroidery.  I love their designs.  If you ever want to buy me something and are just plain stumped, a gift certificate for Urban Threads would be great!
While the embroidery was stitching along I found a piece of batting leftover from a larger quilt and pieced it so it would be big enough for this project.  See how good I am at using up my stash?
The quilting on this one was something that kind of came to me once I got the top on the frame.  I used a combination of motifs to create a subtle background and a more pronounced stitching on the heart and the border.  This is the back of the quilt where you can make out the shape of the heart.
Top thread for the heart is Magnifico and the top thread for the background areas is So Fine!  Both threads are from Superior Threads.
I even quilted the letters of the embroidery design to make the rest of the design stand out.  I'm really pleased with how this turned out.  The embroidery threads are all Sulky with Bottom Line from Superior in the bobbin.
I had just enough of this coordinating print to make up the binding.  The selvage was almost too cute to cut.  (Guilty secret:  I don't really care how cute the selvage is.  I'm rarely in love with it and won't cut it off to save it.)
Since I planned on hanging this quilt in my dining room it had to have the right kind of hanger.  I used a leftover piece of the backing fabric to make a hanging sleeve for the top of the quilt.  (Sorry, this is the best picture of it.  If you need more detail you'll have to drop me a note.)
The label almost didn't make it onto the quilt.  I pressed down the top two edges of this label, hand stitched those two edges and then stitched it into the binding when I attached the binding to the back.  This is also how the hanging sleeve got attached.  I may attach more labels like this.
The binding was finished by machine on the front of the quilt.  There it is:  a little quilt called All You Need is LOVE!  Finished size:  30" by 30".

Have you joined the Sew My Stash 2015 crowd?  I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sew Your Stash Saturday - January

I saw a post on Instagram about sewing from your stash in 2015.  I can totally get behind this.  Partly because we all have fabric in our stash that we bought years ago and still haven't managed to get to.  This is sad.  At the beginning of 2014 I said I wouldn't buy fabric.  I managed to make it about six months without buying too much fabric.  This year I'm going to try even harder.  The most difficult part is when making quilts.  You can't finish a quilt without backing and that can be a huge investment in fabric and money.

If you want to find some inspiration for working through your stash, check out Sew My Stash 2015 on Project: Leasa's site.  She'll be posting challenges to keep everyone motivated.  I know that if I don't keep working I won't ever get through all this fabric.
I told you about the bags I made using The Green Bag Lady's pattern.  I also made stacks of fabric napkins with some fabrics I had just taking up room.  You can find my tutorial for cloth napkins in the side bar or here.
One of my cousins mentioned that her son thought the fabric napkins I sent for the winter holiday one year were too big (I think they were about 14" by 14").  It seems she gives them about 1/4 of a paper towel with meals for their little fingers.  I wanted to send along some small cloth napkins that were made with fun prints for him to use.
These are small napkins, measuring around 9.5" by 9.5".  I cut them this small for a couple reasons.  One, I can cut four napkin sides out of a piece of fabric that is more than 10" by width-of-fabric.  This means a little over a half yard will make four double-sided napkins.  The second reason is that it is a good size for little hands.  In truth with a cloth napkin it isn't a bad size for grown-ups.  Most of these fabrics came from a couple grab bags of remnants I ordered from the Fat Quarter Shop.  I should not be allowed to buy fabric like that.

These 24 napkins will head off to the other coast for my cousins to use.  Next time I talk about Sew My Stash 2015 I'll have something a little more ambitious to share.  More on that another time.

Have you tried to add cloth napkins to your everyday life?  What kinds of projects would you like to try to work through some of that fabric you've been hoarding?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Green Bag Lady

If you haven't heard of The Green Bag Lady you totally need to head over to her site and check it out.
I've entered a couple of their give-away events and have won a couple bags.  I won this bag (#31414) just this month.  Here it is with a charity quilt inside.  I'll hand over the quilt to another member of Annapolis Quilts for Kids for finishing.  I'll have to hope I get my great Hawaiian print bag back!
This bag (#27877) I won a few months ago and I sent it to The Coast Guard Lady for the winter holiday.  I also included one I made so she would have more than one.
I went through my stash and found some older fabrics that I've had hanging around for years.  Since this is Sew My Stash 2015 I figured this was a great way to use up some of these fabrics and get them off my shelves.  Not all of these are the large size, a few of them ended up smaller based on the amount of fabric I had available.
The pattern for these is available for free on The Green Bag Lady's site (just look in the sidebar of her site for a link to a pdf pattern and a video tutorial).
I made up 14 bags, ten of them are the large size.  Four of them are smaller bags.  I did all the construction on my serger and the top-stitch finishing the top of the bags was done with my sewing machine.  They make up quick once you've got them cut.
Thirteen of these bags and a stack of cloth napkins will be headed to my cousin.  If more people used cloth napkins and fabric shopping bags the world would be a little nicer.  A boring paper napkin or plastic bag just can't compare to the smiles fabric bags or napkins can make.

What have you sewn for Sew Your Stash 2015 (#sewmystash2015)?  If you have some fabric that you know you won't put into a new project this is a great way to use some of it up and make some great shopping totes that fold up and fit in your handbag.  Save the plastic trees!

Monday, January 19, 2015

In The Mail Monday: Books, Bags and Zippers!

I realized that I haven't done one of these in a while.  I've gotten a few smiles in the mail the last few weeks.
I mentioned that I joined a swap to make some wonderful bags using the pattern and tutorial from Noodlehead.  I found I didn't have very many zippers in the proper size, so I ordered a fistful to make up for my general lack of 12" zippers.  It seems I am not able to buy just a few zippers.  I ended up with 50 new zippers!  Don't tell my DH. 
If you want a fistful (or two, or three) of zippers in a rainbow of colors I highly recommend checking out the great deals you can get from ZipIt Zippers.  I now have 25 new 12" zippers and some 10" and 14" zips in case I want to make different sized bags.
This is the bag I won from the fun give-away that The Green Bag Lady hosted.  Here it is stuffed with a charity quilt for Quilts for Kids.  The Green Bag Lady is doing another give-away.  If pink is your color you need to go there and enter, but hurry "DEADLINE FOR THE FREEBIE IS 9pm (MST) Tuesday, Jan 20."
At the last meeting of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild our president passed around her brand new copy of Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman.  I loved all the different blocks and had placed my order for a copy before the end of the meeting.  I think I may have to pull from this one for the bee I have joined with other members of the guild.  I need to get to work!  I'm the queen bee for February!

Have you gotten any happy mail recently?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Swap: Winter Winds

I belong to the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild.  This month we had an opportunity to make mug rugs that have a winter theme.  I stumbled around until it occurred to me that I have the perfect pattern.
This is the Mini Hex N More from Jaybird Quilts.  I've played with the Sidekick and the Super Sidekick but this is the first project with the Mini Hex N More.  I decided that the Mini Northern Lights would be great when done in some of my leftover neutrals from the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt.
I cut down a few strips of the the last of the neutrals and got to work.  I picked three that read a little darker than others and laid out the rows.  My design board got another workout with this project.
Sewing these together was very straightforward.  I only had to rip out on row.  I think my seam allowance was off just a tiny bit.  I worked it out before I got any more rows stitched.
I had planned on this one being a little wider than it was long.  It ended up finishing around 9" by 9" though.  I see a crooked seam, but it is too late to do anything about it now.
After quilting I trimmed it up and prepared for the binding.
The quilting on this one was done free-motion on my Pfaff.  The stitching was done with Superior So Fine!
I decided that a 2" binding would give me a nice narrow binding.  Bed-size quilts usually get a 2.5" double-fold binding.  Smaller quilts call for smaller binding.
I didn't get a fancy label on this one.  Just the name, date and my name on the back in Micron Pigma Pen.  I really like how this one turned out.  I should have made two.  This one would look great on my cubicle wall.
What did I get at the swap?  I'm glad you asked!  I received this darling little mug rug from Ruthie.  The darling little birds sit on the branches.  I love this!  It will find a place on my cubicle wall.  Somewhere it can spend quality time with my growing collection of tiny quilts.  Thanks, Ruthie!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Charity Quilting: January Meeting

Today is the January meeting of Annapolis Quilts for Kids.
Since the last meeting I've been working on quilting a stack of quilts that I picked up at the December meeting.  I try to quilt at least two charity quilts per month.  Sometimes I manage to quilt more than that.
Today I will be handing in at least five six quilts for binding.  I may have pieced a couple of the blocks in some of these.  I know I cut some of the charms for the disappearing 9-patch blocks.  Otherwise all the piecing was done by other members of the chapter.  Some were quilted with a simple meander, others with other all-over designs.
All loaded up in my tote they are ready to go.

If you are in the area and are interested in joining you should check out the Annapolis Quilts for Kids blog and come see us.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thread Thursday: Express Your Love

Way back in 2013 Leah Day started a quilt along called Express Your Love.

I was taken with the goddess design and decided to print the design and give it a shot.  This design fits on a one-yard piece of fabric.

Late in 2014 I finally traced the design onto my Kona cotton, loaded the long arm and got stitching.  I traced the design using a Frixion pen.  These erasable pens are great for this kind of work.
I picked a really busy backing for this mini quilt.  The words were written by hand and then I traced, as best I could, with the long arm.  I changed colors with each ray and tried to use as many different quilting designs as possible.
How many colors did I use?  I didn't use all that I have, but I didn't skimp, either.  I think I had more than 25 but fewer than 30 different colors.  I used several more than once, but I tried to keep changing with different areas of the quilt.  For the top thread I used all Magnifico threads.  These are shiny thread suitable for quilting or embroidery.
I think I spent most of a day doing the quilting on this.  It isn't all perfect quilting by any means.  I wasn't going to stop and rip.  I wanted it done.  Ripping won't make you a better quilter.
Each new color let me add new dimension to the quilt.  I learned so much doing this quilt.
If I do this quilt again, the results will be very different.  I think I learned a great deal with this one.
After I trimmed it I had enough of the backing fabric to make the binding.  I decided a machine finished binding would be just the ticket.
Have you done a quilting or sewing project that really challenged you?  Something totally outside your comfort zone?  I'd love to hear about it.