Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Little of This...

...and a little of that.  That's kind of what I have been working on lately: a little bit of everything!

IMG_2397 Busy!
Busy Studio!

For some reason, I got out some hand-dyed fabrics I bought about 20 years ago and started playing around with them over the weekend.  Finally.  I've been wanting to have a go at an off-set "modern" log cabin -- different sized "logs", sort of a cut and deal the pieces around as you go type of thing.  For whatever reason, I thought the hand-dyes were the way to go.  Why not?

Our internet/cable/phones went out Monday morning, so I actually got way more done than I normally would have.  Here's a look at the log cabin blocks:

IMG_2419 Modern Log Cabin

I would not normally put those colors together (that's just an iPhone shot... which seemed to tone everything down a bit) - but it all sort of "worked".  And Dave, GDFTCB didn't object, so I figured I was good to go.

Here's a look at how things stood as of yesterday afternoon:

IMG_2421 Modern Log Cabin

I should have it together in no time! (Except that now that I've seen the inner Studio in this photo, I feel the need to clean and organize....)

Remember the blue and white table runner I showed you a while ago? I mentioned in that post that I had made two. I finally quilted the other one over the weekend, too, and got the front part of the binding sewn on.

IMG_2402 The other Blue/white Tablerunner
Just finished quilting!

That's pre-binding. I shot a couple pix as I was binding it (just with my iPhone - I really need to remember to take the camera downstairs!) and will share those soon. Too often, people make binding a quilt seem WAY more challenging than it has to be, so I thought I'd share a couple tips. Look for those soon!

Oh! And the gloves? That's the tip for today.  They are machine quilting gloves, sold in any quilt shop - very lightweight, with rubberized fingertips.  You wouldn't think something like that would make a big difference when you machine quilt, but oh, my, yes, they do!  You need some.  Even though you'll feel compelled to imitate Mickey Mouse when you wear them.  Not that I'd do that...

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jill's Super Shopper: All Done!

Oh, is THIS going to be a photo-heavy post!  I'll try to keep the chit-chat to a minimum, but for whatever reason, I shot a ton of photos of Jill's bag and I couldn't decide which ones to leave out ... so here we go!

Here's the front:

DSCN1517 Jill's Super Shopper

On the right, I used one of the panels I told you about (the owl) and on the left, I used another panel (the red skunk that some of us thought was a red fox...) and a little strip of fabric toward the bottom as an accent.  

DSCN1519 Jill's Super Shopper
A skunk.  Not a fox.

Here's a look at how the button and its loop came out:

DSCN1518 Jill's Super Shopper

I guess I mixed stripes with dots.  (I also run with scissors, but don't tell anyone.)

How about a look at that front pocket?

DSCN1521 Jill's Super Shopper

I used red leaf fab and goldish leaf fab; I didn't think there was enough color otherwise.  LOL!

I quilted in that lovely King Tut 930 that I told you about in an earlier post and mimicked the leaf design.

I used one of my husband's golf gloves to give me an extra hand showing the pockets.
DSCN1524 Jill's Super Shopper

I couldn't resist writing that.

Here's the side tag detail:

DSCN1522 Jill's Super Shopper

Because I love the thread I chose so much, I did a lot of extra top-stitching.  Here's a close-up of that front pocket:

DSCN1526 Jill's Super Shopper

Let's check out the other side of the bag!  Back to the Japanese Maple tree:

DSCN1527 Jill's Super Shopper

I used a squirrel panel on the right and another little "breaker strip" (I just made that term up) on the left-hand side.  The fabric above the green leaf pocket is one of my faves in the bundle.  Check it out:

DSCN1528 Jill's Super Shopper

That's what inspired my quilt design for the majority of the outside of the bag!  Love it!  (Loopies only made possible with my Bernina Stitch Regulator.  I ♥  my Bernina!!!)

Here's my husband's glove giving me a hand with the other exterior pocket:

DSCN1529 Jill's Super Shopper

I did the same leaf stitching motif there (not exactly the same; I free-handed it) and lots of top-stitching and cool fabric as an accent on top.

Let's get a hand inside that bag, too!

DSCN1533 Jill's Super Shopper

The inside of the bag is made from the four leaf prints - green, red, goldish and tan.  There are three interior pockets - the little bird you see in the pic above, the plaid raccoon below...

DSCN1535 Jill's Super Shopper

... and the little spotted bug below:

DSCN1541 Jill's Super Shopper

I used very cool buttons on the two larger pockets, so Jill's stuff wouldn't spill out if her Super Shopper gets knocked over!  

Jill, your bag is winging its way to you right NOW!  I hope you're thrilled with it.  It was a gas to make and a delight to get to know you a little better as we went through the creative process together!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 27, 2011

To Wash Or Not To Wash...

...that is the question.  There are 1.72 gazillion different thoughts on this (I've studied the issue in depth, can you tell?) but here are mine:  I pre-wash my fabrics.  UNLESS I'm using a jelly roll, charm pack, or some other kind of special pre-cut.  Until lately, I ALWAYS pre-washed ... then I fell in love with charm packs (pre-cut 5" squares that you can have all kinds of fun with!) and now am on to jelly rolls.  But the question is "why" pre-wash.

Here's my partial list:

  • Pre-washing removes excess dye.  Don't just think in terms of dyes bleeding when you do wash your finished project, think about skin irritation, too.
  • Pre-washing removes any odors.  (Not to sound picky, but sometimes fabs that have been in a shop a while get a wee bit musty...)
  • Pre-washing = pre-shrinking.
  • Since I always let my Guide Dog for the Color Blind check my new fabrics, pre-washing also removes any Sibe fuzz that may have transferred over.
  • Pre-washed fab feels nicer to me.  And I love the smell of fresh laundry.
  • My top reason:  my quilting mentor told me to.  Hahahahaha!  But seriously, she did and it made sense, so I do.  Fabric, except those pre-cuts, is not allowed into my Studio until it's been washed.  Here's how I do it!

To help prevent tons of unravelling, trim the corners off -- just about 1/4 of an inch in:

DSCN1508 Cutting corners
The extremely cool fabs I won from Fabricworm being prepped for the wash

You'll still have a little fraying, but not as badly as if you don't trim the corners.  No, I don't count fat quarters as pre-cuts.  They get washed.  Always.  Throw it in the washer and dryer, using normal cycles.  Give it a work out!  And give it one of these in the wash:

DSCN1510 Color Catcher sheets
This is an un-paid product endorsement

Toss one sheet in when you wash your fabric -- or if you don't pre-wash, make sure you toss one in when you do wash your project. You'll be so glad you did; the sheets soak up excess dye to prevent bleeding over onto other fabs.

Those are my thoughts on washing fabric.  In other news, Jill's Super Shopper is DONE and in the mail; I'll post pix of the finished bag tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jill's Super Shopper: Part Deux

Where was I with Jill's Super Shopper?  Oh, right - I was showing you the inside pockets being fitted with VCBs.  (Very cool buttons.)  Did you notice the quilting I did on them? Here's another look:

IMG_2231 Jill's Super Shopper

Check the quilting, then check the sort of green striped fab at the top of that photo.  It inspired me!  Little things like that make me smile.

For the quilting and top-stitching, I'm using one of my VERY favorite brands of thread -- King Tut.  I've written a few times (especially here and here) about my love for this thread; it's just a joy to work with and oh, the richness of color!  Sigh.  For Jill's Super Shopper, I'm using 930 -- Thebes, a variegated blue.  It's just incredible!

I decided to make a couple accessories for Jill. Here is a key fob under construction:

DSCN1493 Jill's Super Shopper

Can you see the thread better there? See what I mean? GORGEOUS!

Oh. And yes, I use masking tape to hold my tag in place. It's Tyvek, so it's strong, but slippery. I don't want pins to leave holes... so masking tape does well! Except ... when inserting the tags into the side of glasses cases. There's nothing to tape the tag to - so I try to pin it in. For whatever reason, the zigzag stitch either does very well with the tag ... or eats the Tyvek and makes the tags wonky. On Jill's glasses case, part of the tag was destroyed in the stitching process, so ... I cut it out and initialed the case instead.

DSCN1503 Jill's Super Shopper

If you've had people claim your work as their own, you'll understand my habit of signing or tagging. (Same with watermarking my photos.)

Moving right along ... let's have a look at my least favorite steps!

IMG_2334 Jill's Super Shopper

That's right - boxing the corners. It's just ... awkward!

After I box, instead of trimming those flaps off like many people do, I sew the flaps of the outside of the bag to the flaps of the inside of the bag...

IMG_2335 Jill's Super Shopper

...not to make another awkward step, but so the lining won't pull out of the bag. The hard part is making sure you do it as the bag will lay, so there's some twisting and turning involved to get it like this:

DSCN1504 Jill's Super Shopper

Isn't that attractive?!?! But it means we're almost home! Time to turn it right-side-out, add the straps, and do some top-stitching!

IMG_2343 Jill's Super Shopper

And remember my motto: Pins are your friends. Just don't sew over them.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Won!

Well, technically, Dave and Zim won, since I signed in with the Army of Four address... but I'm the one who left the comment!  Check it out:

Screen shot 2011-05-23 at 12.31.57 PM

I won the weekly give-away over at Fabricworm! It arrived in yesterday's mail and WOW, I just love it! It's a fat quarter bundle of extremely cool retro 1950s-style fabs.

Dave was so incredibly pleased with our win --

DSCN1485 Dave
"I think Rastro Jetson would dig these!  And so do I!!!"
 -- and with the fabs themselves. Of COURSE I let him go through them... he's my my Guide Dog for the Color Blind, so it's the least I could do!

DSCN1488 Fabric!

Aren't they a gas?!?  I love the fabrics - and the quality is so fine!!

We'll be washing and pressing them this afternoon!

DSCN1481 Dave

Many, many thanks to Cynthia and everyone at Fabricworm!!!  We're just thrilled with our prize!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Few Tips

I have some friends who are new to quilting.  This is REALLY exciting to me; I love to help people discover the big, fun world of quilting.  When I first started quilting - about '88 or '89 - I didn't even know how to change the bobbin on my sewing machine.  Let's not even talk about sewing a straight line.  Mostly because I still find that to be a bit challenging.  Seriously!

Anyway - what I've found along the way to wherever it is that I am, is that there are a lot of "tricks" or methods that many of us take for granted that everyone else knows ... only ... someone might not.  (That someone is usually me!)  Somewhere along the line, we all have an "Ah HA!" moment.  I'll be doing posts now and then to fill you in on some of those "little things" that make life easier for quilters.  Or at least for me.

I may have mentioned this before, but I can't for the life of me find it in the archives.  When you're sewing a button on, you want your stitches uniformly snug - BUT you don't want your button on tightly or it will be difficult to fasten.  I use either a nail or a pin for a spacer - like so:

DSCN1440 Button!

It's second nature to me now, but I had to learn it at some point!

I try to use a design wall for quilts, to help decide on the layout.  However, what I use is just some cotton batting tacked above my closet - so I don't leave it up.  It's also not large enough for some quilts, so I use the floor.  Since I don't want to leave the quilt pieces on the floor, but I need to remember how they were arranged, I number my blocks - starting at the upper left corner, going across the row, then down to the next row and across... and so on.  There are little flag-pin markers on the market, but hey, those cost money, so I tear up scrap paper and do the same thing:

IMG_2222 Blocks

Just remember to use glass-head pins, not plastic, or you'll be very sorry when you hit it with a hot iron. Trust me. And don't ask how I know that!

Moving right along...

Let's talk color. I've had a lot of people compliment me on my use of color. That always tickles me, as I am clinically color blind. Maybe that works in my favor; it's like I have nothing to lose, so I'll try all kinds of combos. But really - just try something! If you aren't sure, leave it on a design wall or put it on the floor in front of your treadmill while you work out. You'll know what works.  Just keep trying and changing things around!

IMG_2237 Dave
Dave, GDFTCB, admiring some Jason Yenter fabrics

Not everyone has a Guide Dog for the Color Blind like I do, but ask your spouse, your friends, your neighbors - use FaceBook!  Just make sure you settle on the combo YOU like.  You have nothing to lose.

I hope those tips help.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jill's Super Shopper: In Process!

I'm currently working on another Super Shopper.  This one is for my cousin's daughter -- I think that makes her my first cousin, once removed, but don't quote me on that.  Let's just call her Jill and know that I'm making a very CUTE bag she can use to carry baby stuff!

I ended up ordering fabric especially for the bag - Amy Schimler's Party Animals 2, by Robert Kaufman.  The Fat Quarter bundle came with some big panels of the animals and I knew I'd find a good way to put them to use.

I auditioned a bunch of different layouts, using the prints in various ways, then made my decisions and started cutting and sewing:

IMG_2240 Jill's Super Shopper
The start of Jill's Super Shopper

The outside parts are on the left/front of the photo; the panels out on the leaf of my table are the inside panels (which I lovingly refer to as "bag guts" at this stage).

Jill wanted to be able to shut things to avoid spillage, and expressed interest in big buttons. I had JUST the perfect ones! Here's the plan for the outside:

IMG_2254 Jill's Super Shopper
Front of bag with VCB.  (Very cool button.)

I broke up some of the prints on the front of the bag with a few of the panel animal prints and used others  for inside pockets! They need cool buttons, too, don't you think?

IMG_2291 Jill's Super Shopper
Bag guts being fitted with buttons and loops

For sure.

This fabric is a KICK to work with!  So playful and fun!  Hopefully, my playful and fun boys will grant me Studio time this afternoon so I can get back to it!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Patty's Super Shopper, Part II

Yesterday, I showed you the in-progress pix of the Super Shopper I made for my long-time friend Patty. Today ... the finished bag!  Here it is, hanging in my Japanese Maple:

DSCN1336 Patty's Super Shopper

If this was going to someone other than Patty, there's a real strong chance it wouldn't have left my house.  Seriously.

DSCN1323 Patty's Super Shopper

The front has that BDU pocket on a pocket on a pocket.  I love that.

My wavy quilting echoes the shape of the matryoshka dolls, only sideways.  That was my thinking, anyway.  Here's a look at the back:

DSCN1322 Patty's Super Shopper

I thought that BDU pocket needed some kick, so I appliqu├ęd a narrow (1/4"?) piece of one of the fabs across it.

Here's another look at the wavy quilting on the front.

DSCN1328 Patty's Super Shopper

Here's a detail shot of the top of the bag:

DSCN1325 Patty's Super Shopper

I like how the "fussy cut" matryoshka doll just takes charge.  I used another side-tab with button hole from the BDUs as a closure for the bag (like I did with an inside pocket) and tied a BDU button on with some cool orange and yellow and "other" embroidery thread.  I also popped the lining of the bag up about 3/8 of an inch and did two lines of top stitching.

Let's check out the top of the straps:

DSCN1327 Patty's Super Shopper

A bit of camo fabric on one; a small matryoshka doll on the other.  It's like the doll is the angel sitting on Patty's shoulder.

Here's the bottom right-hand corner:

DSCN1337 Patty's Super Shopper

And now, it's time to look inside!!!  Check out how everything came together:

DSCN1338 Patty's Super Shopper

In the line of pockets on one side, I tucked some little surprises for Patty.  How about a glasses case?

DSCN1342 Patty's Super Shopper

Maybe now you understand what I mean about the wavy quilting echoing the contours of the dolls!  And how about a key fob?

DSCN1343 Patty's Super Shopper

Yes, yes, I did mix gold and silver tones.  Hey, if I can mix all those crazy fabrics, why not mix those, too?!?!

The surprise bunnies are tucked into the big BDU cargo pocket:

DSCN1345 Patty's Super Shopper

Patty has now named the bunnies after her granddaughters and herself!  She is the bunny with her arms around the other bunnies, she told me.  I LOVE that kind of thing!!!

That side of the inside is complete with an American flag patch - because Patty is a patriot in a family full of patriots!!!

Last, but not least, here's how that inside pocket on a pocket came out:

DSCN1347 Patty's Super Shopper

I love everything about this bag - but most of all, I love the special friend for whom it was made.  Patty, I sincerely hope you (and the grandgirls!) have a ball carrying and exploring this bag.  It was a delight to make for you - and hey, I'm not sure I told you this ... but in that buttoned pocket in the last picture?  There are a billion smiles packed in there!  Enjoy!!!

Thanks for reading!