Sunday, July 22, 2012

A crafty day...

I have been doing sewing stuff since 7:00 this morning.  I woke up and picked out fabric for applique (I need a better selection- I have NO "mottled" colors...I had to use solids) and traced out the shapes, cut them out, ironed the steam a seam on, and assembled the applique.

Then, I painted my first quilt, as part of Annette Kennedy's Craftsy class.  It looks pretty amazing in the photo I took (on facebook for a sneak peak) and from far away- you just have to promise not to get too close...  I will post it here once I quilt it, but the paint needs 24 hours to dry completely.

Then, I was going to quilt a snowflake (I picked a new design to try), but remembered I promised my nephew I would make him a "Rosin Bag" to play with.  Well- I've never seen one of these, so I googled, and almost all of them are labeled (pitchers get easily confused?) and have serged edges.  So out came the embroidery machine and the serger...  I stuffed it with felt.  I thought that would give it a little more weight than cotton, but I didn't want to pay to mail a bean bag to Texas!  I think it looks pretty cute.

Since I was making stuff to send to Courtney, I used some of the Riley Blake fabric I got in a grab bag to make her 3 more snack bags for the twins.  I use these now for lunch and really like them- as long as they don't sit too close to a freezer meal or cold coke. Once they get wet, they are useless.  Turns out my serger tension was a little messed up, so on a the lining and one or two of the bags you can see the threads, but I fixed it on most of them.   If you can count, you'll see there are 6 in the picture.  Three are for a friend I told I would make some for -in March?-  sorry!  But I made them!  And with adorable number fabric too.

Sorry the photo is so bad- I took it on my phone.  Kevin usually does my blog photography, but he was gone, and I am impatient.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Snowflake Quilt: Blocks 4 and 5

I'm making a bit more progress on my snowflake quilt.  I've run into a problem: there just aren't 12+ quilting designs that I've mastered...  I want this to be a sampler quilt, but I also don't want it to be a beginner one.  So once I did the scallops, the spirals, and the checkboard, I was kind of stuck.  I planned on stippling the large center block, so I can't use that.  So it sat for awhile, and I worked on my Dresden plate quilt.

Well, I made some progress.  First- I bought two more sheets of felt and did the applique of the snowflake on the two squares I ran out for.  Then, I tried to figure out what to do about the center snowflake- it's huge, and I was going to have to join felt (would look bad) or use a different material.  After a few small scale tests, I decided to use fleece.  I got it appliqued and after 3 days of cutting and many blisters all cut out.  Now I'm just worried because there is a lot of excess fluff.  If me and the lint roller don't work really hard, it will show under the organza, still I think it will look better than joining felt.  Maybe I should have used batting, but I thought that would look too different from felt.

So, I was back to needing to quilt- but I still don't have mastery of new designs.  I've been sketching a lot of McTavishing, but I'm not good enough at it to want it on this quilt.  I've been drawing echo-arches, paisley, etc.  And I suck.

I am taking a class at the Des Moines quilt show with Diane Gaudynski so I researched her.  She has a design called "Diane-shiko" that I love.  Without reading the instructions on how to do it (I found them after I figured it out), I started sketching it.  Unlike Leah Day's designs, these require marking a grid on the quilt.  So I started on paper and marked a grid.  Then I circumscribed a circle along each- way too much travel stitching.  So I thought that must not be how she does it.  So then I drew the arcs inside the squares- less traveling, but still some.  Then, I figured out I got it- I drew half circles up a line, and then back down it.  YES! The drawing was perfect. So I quilted it.  No, the quilting was not- I got build up whenever I had to change direction at the vertex of the square.  Plus, the 3/4" grid I marked was too large scale for this quilt.  So I ripped it out.

And then, I figured it out- squiggle lines!  Rather than reversing direction at each vertex, cross to the other side of the line and make that arc, cross back and forth down the length of the line.  At the end of the piece- come back down the line making the other circle.  It worked perfectly.  Once you have all the vertical done, do the horizontal.  And this makes the overlapping circles, with no circles to do at all.

Here is mine:
It isn't perfect but I really like it.  If you do a marked design, you have to mark well.  I marked very poorly.  First, the 3/4" lines were done well, but the Frixion pen was very hard on the surface of the quilt, and stretched the organza, making it dificult to stay straight.  Then I eyeballed a line between them to make it 3/8" scale- and that was my downfall.  Don't eyeball things.
I'm happy to report the lines ironed out with no issue at all. 

So the second Diane Gaudynski design is apple core- a common quilting pieced design. 
This is a building block for the previous one- I squiggled up the lines, but didn't squiggle back down to form circles.  It is important on apple core to pay attention to if the block is an "in" or an "out" on the horizontal, and do the opposite on the vertical.  This one had a grid marked at 1/4" scale.  I used a Frixion highlighter and was much more accurate with my marking- the soft tip of the highlighter didn't stretch the fabric.  However, it left prominent white lines when the color was ironed out.  Except only prominent if you get really close to the fabric and look for them.  You can't see them at all at a distance, and even up close you have to look- so I'm going to just cross my fingers and hope they wash out when I wash the entire quilt, but all is well if they don't.

So now I have 7 more small blocks, plus the large block to go.  Uh-oh.  I don't know what 7 other designs I have enough mastery of to use!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New Wallet...

I fell in love with this pattern the first time I saw it on  I purchased it for $10 from  I consider this to be very expensive for a pattern, and I do not usually spend that amount of money.  

The pattern is EXTREMELY well written.  The steps are very clear and mostly well illustrated (a few steps require you to read to understand the illustrations).  The cutting diagrams are clear, however, I chose to not use them.  You use almost all of the 3 fat quarters if you make the optional insert, but not so much that you really need to follow the layouts exactly.

 I had put off making it for awhile because it looked difficult.  Here is my take on that: it would be very difficult to make it really well.  But it is not at all difficult to make “okay”.  A beginner could do it, though there is one seam that has a very big hump in it, so a beginner machine might not like it (I’m still in awe of how my new machine doesn’t even give this a second thought.)  It also took way less time than I thought it would.  Half of an afternoon, less if you don’t make stupid mistakes like I did.  (The materials list literally says “seam ripper- don’t kid yourself”.   She was right, I definitely needed it.)

The pattern is not completely foolproof.  I’m not sure how I did it, but I managed to put the vinyl pocket on the wrong side.  I guess I did the self-binding (a great feature) wrong.    I also loved the idea of the paper piece to guide you sewing the corners, however, I wasn’t able to follow my sewn-on guidelines very well. 

-It is probably my sewing, and not the pattern, but I feel like it has a “crafty” feel. It doesn’t look store bought. The fact that the inner fabric shows a little when it is closed contributes to this.  Maybe I didn’t do a good enough job pressing before doing the final top-stitching?
-The zipper pocket is unfinished.  I think this is necessary, because otherwise you can’t turn the wallet through it, but I would have liked a bag made of fashion fabric to hold the coins.  I don’t like that I can see the interfacing.
-There was one confusing instruction:  for the optional insert, it says to interface and topstitch the pocket fabric as you did before, but the pockets were never interfaced before.  Turns out, I cut a piece wrong (forgot to go on the fold) and don't have enough for the insert anyway, so it is moot.

I'm very happy with my wallet.  It fits everything I need, and has room for plenty more.  Plus the magnet clasp is something I haven't used before, and makes it seem more finished than just velcro would.  I also really like the zipper on the outside of the wallet.  The tabs on the sides makes for a very professional finish on that part.

AND while I probably didn't need to, I got to use a TON of feet for this project.
I used my zipper foot, my edgestitch foot, my applique foot (to trace the curves), my regular foot, my quarter inch foot, and my jeans foot (to sew through ALL the layers, and topstitch them).  Feet are fun.