Friday, September 28, 2018

Charity Quilting

A couple more charity quilts I picked up at the last Annapolis Quilts for Kids workshop.
I usually quilt them in pairs because a single cut off the roll of batting is enough to do two little quilts. These are already trimmed and read for the next workshop.

According to EpochConverter I'm right on track for finishing one charity quilt per week for 2018.
I found the time to piece a simple quilt top, too.

2018 Charity Quilt Count: 41

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Knitting Update

This is an unnamed shawl. I had an idea of a design I wanted to try. I also had 200 grams of superwash worsted. I decided it was time to test my idea. I worked on this when I didn't have to think too much about the knitting. Stitched in garter stitch, with simple short-row shaping, and a size 8 needle, it was a quick knit.
Here is the shape of the shawl before blocking. A somewhat wing-like shape.
I expected it to grow, but not by as much as it did. Still, a very satisfying finish. I have a couple ideas for how to modify this design to make it more striking. I'll have to play with the design, and maybe even write down the directions. I don't doubt I could do it again, but that isn't the same as directions someone else can follow.
With only 200 grams of yarn (I didn't have a label so I can't tell you how many yards that works out to) I think it is a pretty good size. Since it is garter in worsted it's pretty squishy and warm, too.
It works as a scarf, too.

Tools (affiliate links):
Knitting needles: Knit Picks Interchangeable knitting needle set
Blocking mats: Balance From Puzzle Exercise Mat with EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles
Blocking wires: Knit Picks Lace Blocking Wires & T-Pins
Knit blockers: Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers & Pin Kit

Monday, September 24, 2018

Large Format Printing

I recently ordered large format printing for a pattern I ordered online. In the past, I've done the print on my printer using letter sized paper and taped it all together. Many independent designers also offer their patterns as A0 size. That means you can print most of their patterns on three or four large sheets, very minimal or no taping required.
After doing a little bit of homework, I decided to go with PDF Plotting. I discovered they have super-quick service (they printed my pattern the day after I ordered it and shipped it the same day). Even with hurricane Florence barreling down on the East coast I had my pattern in a couple days. Ordering was super easy, even the upload was smooth.

How much to print my pattern? I printed the three sheets needed to print the Relaxed Raglan and Add-on Pack from Patterns for Pirates for $2.50/sheet, plus priority shipping. Totally worth it not to have to print the 30+ pages and taping them together.

Have you used a printer to make printing pdf patterns easier? I would love to hear about your experience.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Charity Quilting

I had a couple more charity quilts to quilt before the last meeting of the Annapolis Quilts for Kids. This is one I pieced using a bunch of leftover bits. Scrappy is wonderful in a kid quilt. 
Disappearing 9-patch pieced by another member of the chapter.
I dropped off six quilts last Saturday. I also picked up a stack of finished tops to quilt. I'll have to try to keep up.

2018 Charity Quilt Count: 39

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Not all Sewing is Glamorous

I know many a maker that will deny they mend or hem pants. I won't say that. What I will say is that I only mend for two people. The two people who live in my house. If you don't live here, don't even ask.

I'm sharing this project more to give you a quick review of the Juki TL-2010Q which I used for this project. Anyone that has tried to hem jeans on a cheap, plastic, domestic machine can tell you it is no simple task.
I only needed to shorten my jeans by about 1.5". First, I trimmed off the existing hem with my Fiskars 8-inch scissors. These are the titanium coated scissors and they are great. 
I didn't want to muck about with fraying of the bottom edge, so I took a couple minutes to clean up the edge with the serger. 
I pressed a double hem and threaded the machine with some blue thread. I used Superior Threads Omni for the top thread. 
Here is a close-up of the top stitching. The Juki TL-2010Q didn't even hesitate going over the bulky side seams. With any cheap, plastic, domestic sewing machine you might have to slow down over those areas to make sure you didn't break a needle, or bog down the motor. The Juki didn't miss a beat. Great job!

Start to finish: 30 minutes. Worth my time to keep from walking on the hem of my pants.

Tools (affiliate links):
BLACK+DECKER Vitessa Advanced Steam Iron
Fiskars 8-inch scissors
Juki TL-2010Q

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mystery in Black and White

Last week I shared my version of my latest mystery quilt.
I finished up the center of the top with black setting triangles cut from some leftover quilt backing. 
I used some more leftover quilt backing to make a narrow (1.5" finished) inner border and a wider (4" finished) outer border. It measures about 56" by 68" which isn't a big quilt, but as big as I intend to go with it. This one will get set aside until I can either piece a backing or buy some. I might have something suitable around here somewhere. I haven't decided how I'm going to quilt it, so there isn't a rush.

Tools (affiliate links):
Creative Grids 6.5" x 24.5" Rectangle
6.5" Easy Angle Ruler
Fiskars Rotary Cutter
Fiskars Self Healing Rotary Cutting Mat
BLACK+DECKER Vitessa Advanced Steam Iron
Grabbit Magnetic Pin Cushion
Fiskars 8-inch scissors
Juki TL-2010Q

Friday, September 14, 2018

Charity Quilting

A charity quilt is a great way to sew something quick without having to do too much planning. If you're interested in working with Quilts for Kids but don't know your local chapter, you can order kits (for a small fee) through their online shop. If you want to help out, but aren't a quilter, you can also make a donation to pay for supplies and shipping costs.
I've been slowly piecing charity quilt tops while working on other projects. When I need to accomplish something, but pulling out a big project is just too stressful, this is perfect. 
Another great thing about charity quilts is if you just don't know what you want to do. They don't take very much time and feel like a big win once finished.
I quilted both of these. All that remains is the trimming and binding.

2018 Charity Quilt Count: 37

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Best Tools: Brother 10-Needle

A fellow member of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild wanted to sell her Brother 10-Needle embroidery machine. I've wanted a multi-needle embroidery machine since I started using my Pfaff Creative Performance more often. A single needle machine is fine if you do designs with few colors, but if you want to make more than one of a thing, or designs with several colors, changing threads can be a full-time job. There are tricks you can use when creating, or combining designs, but you still have to change the thread for every color change. This was a deal I couldn't pass up.
Gettng this monster home was no easy task. This machine weighs in around 90+ pounds. Definitely a two-peep carry. Thankfully, I brought along my darling husband to be the second peep. We went back and forth on where to put the darn thing, because while the footprint isn't huge, it is larger than the desktop I was using for the Pfaff Creative Performance. I had this IKEA table I had intended to use for standing and sewing. That standing and sewing didn't seem to materialize, though it did collect more than a few things on and around it. We moved all the collected stuff and moved it into the next room where I could plug it into a protected outlet on my conditioner/UPS. I use the same one to protect my desktop computer and my long arm.
There isn't much space between the long arm frame and that table but the machine fits and I can get my behind between the two.
Because I couldn't think about anything else, I made a mess of my workspace and got to stitching. This was pretty much the state of my cutting table for about a week.
I made this fun hand-sanitizer holder that looks sort of like a baseball (design from Designs by Little Bee). That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but telling the machine which of those 10 needles you want it to use for each step isn't as simple as one would think. I learned so much making this. I'll be making more, and learning more.

I will get around to putting a couple things in my Etsy shop at some point. Right now it is a somewhat lonely place with a couple dice bags just hanging out waiting for someone to want them.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Mystery in Black and White

Due to conflicting schedules, this is how my mystery quilt project has been languishing. This past weekend, I finally managed to get the rest of the clues. In truth, this project has been taking up two project boxes and I have new projects that want some of that project box real estate. I use the Iris 12" by 12" clear boxes for quilts, bags, and even yarn.
That meant I managed to get to work on this quilt. The directions for these blocks are written with the stitch and flip method of adding those corners. This is, in my opinion, one of the most wasteful ways of making blocks such as these. I think doing it this way wasted about 240 square inches of fabric. Yes, I know, there will always be waste. But I can do more than a little with that many square inches. using a tool such as the 6.5" Easy Angle Ruler would really be so much better and result in almost no waste. I know there are some "bonus triangle" lovers out there. If you really want them, you can have mine, because I'm not going to use them.
I pieced the 20 blocks I had set up.
I had cut plenty more squares and rectangles during my fit of cutting a few months ago. I didn't want to stitch and flip a bunch more units so I played around with the squares until I had an alternate block I liked.
That's how I ended up with my alternate blocks. This isn't the final layout, but you get the idea. Those two in the middle are pointing the other way on purpose.
I cut the setting triangles using some leftover backing fabric from another project. This is one of those things where you're told to cut the squares really big, then cut twice on the diagonal to get the right size setting triangles. This is another place where the 6.5" Easy Angle Ruler and the right size flying geese ruler (Amazon has failed me on this one) can save you some time. I cut a strip 6.5" wide and cut my goose units from it. That meant I could use much narrower fabric to cut the setting triangles. At some point, I'll sit still long enough to write it up as an actual tip. It's easy enough to do if you cut one the way the directions say, then use it make yourself a template.
I've assembled the center of the quilt. Now I just need to trim it and add a couple borders to make it bigger. I really like how it turned out. I may use this block in another project. If I do, I'll sort out how to cut the pieces with some of my fancy, modern tools and share that with you .

Keep any eye out for an update with the finished top. Let's hope this doesn't end up on next year's Get It Done UFO Challenge.

Tools (affiliate links):
Creative Grids 6.5" x 24.5" Rectangle
6.5" Easy Angle Ruler
Fiskars Rotary Cutter
Fiskars Self Healing Rotary Cutting Mat
BLACK+DECKER Vitessa Advanced Steam Iron
Grabbit Magnetic Pin Cushion
Fiskars 8-inch scissors
Juki TL-2010Q

Friday, September 7, 2018

2018 Leader and Ender Project

Every year Bonnie Hunter adds a new pattern to her growing collection of free patterns. If you want to get a look at her quilt patterns I highly recommend you check it out. I must admit that I'm still cutting tumblers for the 2015 Leaders and Enders challenge. This year it's Jewel Box Stars!
I decided I should pull out my collection of batik fabrics. This quilt block is a collection of light and dark fabrics and I'm sure I can make that work with this jumble of fabrics.
I will admit I got a little carried away with the cutting of the half-square triangle units. That's enough for an entire quilt. But that's what leader/ender projects are all about. I grabbed all the fabrics that would read as light, and paired them with colors that read as dark or bright. I'm really mixing it up.
Here is what four blocks will look like when pieced. I'm nowhere near this part of the project. The light fabrics will be much more varied, too.
I've almost completed all the 4-patch blocks. My units are 4.5" by 4.5", finish at 4" by 4". For the record, I haven't put a dent in that collection of batik fabrics. Not really.

Have you jumped in to try a leader/ender project? I'd love to hear how it worked for you.

Tools (affiliate links):
Creative Grids 6.5" x 24.5" Rectangle
6.5" Easy Angle Ruler
Fiskars Rotary Cutter
Fiskars Self Healing Rotary Cutting Mat
BLACK+DECKER Vitessa Advanced Steam Iron
Grabbit Magnetic Pin Cushion
Fiskars 8-inch scissors

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Travel Knitting Holey Chevrons

I like to start a project at the beginning of any trip. This time I decided to make Stephen West's Holey Chevrons. I didn't want serious knitting and this qualifies. Simple garter stitch is perfect for travel knitting. No (or little) counting and you don't have to focus too much.
I grabbed two cakes of striping yarn I dyed in June. I just went with whatever color I wanted to use next.
I made good progress by the time we had boarded for the outbound flight. 
Once we reached our destination, I had make excellent progress. 
I had a bunch of time in the car, too, so I got even more done. 
By the time I was back in the airport for my return flight I was well on my way, though not yet to the second cake of yarn. Someday I will learn that most travel projects are better for one-skein projects.
We ended up waiting for the jetway to be fixed, so I got in another row while waiting to deplane. 
I kept working on it for a couple more weeks. Here and there, in little moments. 
I finally got to the chevrons part last week. 
A little day trip in the car and I was well on my way to finished. 
I finished the bind off before Labor Day. 
Here it is before blocking. 
And on the blocking boards. I love my blocking wires and knit blockers. Totally worth it if you knit or crochet as much as I do. 
I'm really glad I decided to strip the edging. I think it makes this project. 
With two cakes of yarn (about 200 grams of fingering) this shawl is decently sized. 
I might knit this one again. It's quick and a satisfying finish.