Sep 23, 2010

I thought this would be a simple quilt...

I wanted to make a quilt. I wanted it to be quick and easy. I wanted it to be flannel, front & back with batting. I had these flannels in my stash from a Black Friday sale at JoAnn's years ago:


They're very juvenile but go together perfectly.

I saw a free pattern on the internet but I discarded it as it was made for a larger number of fabrics than four and I wanted to use just these and not buy more. I decided I wanted a "simple" rail fence quilt with large blocks for less piecing.

Here are the blocks spaced 4 inches apart with a 12 inch border 

This looked huge and the scale wasn't right.

I then spaced the rails 3 inches apart with a 9 inch border and some white fabric to block it down to 9 inches

This looks more balanced to me and the blocks are only slightly smaller. I also searched Google for images of rail fence quilts and decided it needed a small inner border to contain it.

I have at least 3 yards of each fabric so I started designing big making it 8 X 8 array of blocks in Inkscape. I liked the look of it and figured the size to be 96 inches square. Then I got out the book Machine Quilting in Sections by Marti Michell to start planning how to tackle this quilt to quilt it in sections. She has lots of great examples with flannel quilts. I looked in the appendix to compare the size of the quilt I designed with bed sizes and realized I designed a quilt big enough to cover a king size bed when all I wanted was about twin size for in front of the TV! So it was back to the drawing board, Inkscape, to trim it down a lot! I let my desire to use up fabric overrule the size I wanted.

Here's what my finished quilt should look like with the red border standing in for the print:

So now it's 5 X 7 blocks and more appropriately sized, after making several revisions. I then wrote up what I needed to cut and sew. This took me all afternoon and evening on Tuesday. I also had a massive sinus headache that slowed  me down a bit.

I didn't think it would take so much planning to design a "simple" quilt. I believed I could just jump right into it and have the strips cut Tuesday night and have it ready to quilt by the weekend. Is it just me? I don't like not having a plan and a picture of the end product before starting any project. I have graph paper in square and hexagon grids so I can plan the outcome and then I have to color it in or I use the computer. I think that is why just grabbing strips and sewing them together doesn't appeal to me very much. All this figuring out and planning is fun and not fun at the same time. I do like the planning but at the same time I want to go straight to the fabric.

I have cut into this particular fabric already. I've made up 2 sections of it and I'm ready to finish the rest of the center and get batting for it. I really shouldn't have done this quilt when I have a few on the side but it's for a good reason, really it is, and the other projects just weren't calling to me. My hexies are turning into flowers whenever I have to sit and wait somewhere. I really need to cut more.

Sep 20, 2010

I finally made myself a new bag

I got into my sewing space this weekend to make my self a grab bag from All People Quilt.com(links to a .pdf file). I used some black denim I've had for ever and the leftover red tone on tone, from my daughter's lunchbag, for the lining.



And looped closed:



The denim is very stiff and unsuitable for clothes but perfect for a bag. The original option was to use 2 quilting cottons and batting in between but I didn't want the extra work on the first one I made.   I did do extra work anyways because I zigzagged the edges to finish them. The seam allowance was only a 1/4 inch and I was afraid it would fray too easy. Next time I'll use the same pattern but take a 1/2 inch seam allowance, there's plenty of room for it.

I like this bag because there are no separate straps to make which makes it quicker to sew. The handles on this one are funny, IMHO, to sew together but come out awesome. I would recommend basting the loop parts before stitching them closed. Next time I'm going to try to close up the straps the way I've seen it done on a Burda Charlie Bag with a lining added. You sew up one side of the handle to the end, on both sides, then line up the ends & stitch them closed going from the lining to the outer fabric, or vise versa, without stopping so you only have to turn under & stitch down one side to close it. It's hard to explain but should make finishing easier. I also skipped the pockets, I didn't feel a need for them.

I think I will make this one from cotton with the batting soon. I'd love to have one in Day of the Dead fabric for October.

Sep 16, 2010

Hexies and a new vintage machine

I've worked on my hexies and I've gotten them all basted. Here are the next ones I've worked on:



And here they are all together, I think that's a nickle in there:



I've tried placing them into matching rows but it looks too uniform:



Then I tried flowers which I like but they don't really sing to me:



I'm working on them tomorrow at my son's music class so I'll sew them into flowers but I think I'm going to make a garland out of them for my sewing room. I don't know if I'll attach them end to end or maybe on a fake vine. Either way, I'm going to back them and either stuff them or batt and quilt them, most likely by hand.

BTW my husband came home with a Necchi type 565 yesterday from the charity store for $15! We believe it was one of the first to be made in Japan since I believe the 555 was still made in Italy and this one doesn't say "Made in Italy" anywhere, though the motor and bobbin hook say that specifically. He's opened it up and oiled everything. It does have plastic parts and the weirdest bobbin case I've seen.  Some of the plastic has come off of the bobbin case or it's damaged in some other way and the only problem we're having is the top thread seems to get hung up on it often and then we get thread buildup underneath. It has several built in stitches and a low/high speed control, and boy can it go fast! It looks like it'll be a great machine for as long as it lasts, once we fix it's issues. It also came in it's own little table with an inch measuring strip printed on it in front of the machine. I'll have to get it back together & take pictures to share next week.

Sep 9, 2010

My son is away at camp with school this week so I managed to get in 15 minutes of play today but it turned into an hour and all I got put together was this bit of a crazy block from scraps



This was my first time doing it. I read about it within the last couple of weeks and decided to go for it today because I haven't sewn for myself in ages! I really didn't want to work on a "project" either so I just sewed some scraps onto a dryer sheet. I will never use a dryer sheet again. I've read in several places over the years that you can do this but I had a few problems. I tried to iron my used dryer sheets because they come out of the dryer all wrinkly, I guess they get rid of them from your clothes by absorption. ^_^ My iron was too hot no matter what setting it was on and they left a lot of gunk on it. I gave that up and used it with all the wrinkles in it, after destroying 3 with the iron. Then, I wanted to piece a fairly large piece and the dryer sheet wasn't as big so I ended up trimming it off at the seam allowances. So in the future, I think I'll use a very light non-fusible interfacing if I think I need an extra base at all. I don't know how this will be used in the end but I plan to square it up and make more for something quick and brainless to sew on the machine and to use up my small scraps. Hopefully next time it won't take an hour.

Sep 4, 2010

I made a lunch box!

Back to school time has been kicking my butt. I haven't found any time to sew until I had to do this. My daughter got this bento box last weekend. It's square and wouldn't fit in her lunchbox laying flat so I decided to make her one. It's been an experience I don't want to repeat on my home machine.

From Sewing projects
Its 8 inches high, 7.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep but it kind of puffs out & looks much bigger.

Here it is open with plenty of room inside:



And here's a front shot:



She drew the phonebox on the front pocket.

The outside is actually an unfinished tote bag that was in the WIP pile for her. It's black cotton that I had interfaced and sewn into a bag shape. I just took a bigger seam across the points to make it square instead of rectangular. I bought a round and rectangular piece of plastic canvas, trimmed, then layered them to make the bottom stiff. The round one felt sturdier but I wanted nice straight sides. I hand-stitched them together then I stitched them in place.

I used some silver ironing board fabric & layered it with 2 pieces of batting to make the inside. This is where the hard part came in, I then decided to topstitch the seam allowances open so it would fit smoothly in the outer layer. Even with two sides open, there wasn't much space to fit all those thick layers under the presser foot. Next time I would stitch the seams to the right side and cover them with a binding, it would be much easier on a home machine. The top of the outer layer is then folded over twice to cover the inner layer 1 inch.

The original tote bag was much taller and I had to trim it 2 inches for this so I used the trimmings for the handles since they were already interfaced. They are the best handles I've ever made! I folded each side into the middle and secured it with a thin strip of interfacing and did the same to some of the red fabric cut 1.5 inches wide. I then top-stitched the red fabric onto the black and I made great sturdy handles!

The drawstring top on the bag was inspired by this lunchbox on Oh, Fransson! I didn't read her tutorial but I checked out the pictures on her Flicker group and loved how it all bunched together on the inside to close it. It's a simple drawstring band tucked under the self binding then the handles were layered on top of the band and also under the binding. I top-stitched it all together a 1/4 inch from the top and bottom then flipped the handles up and top-stitched them in place to stand up.

This took me three days! I think next time I'll buy one. The only thing is that this reflects her more than any we saw in the store this year. I just hope it holds up. I'm worn out now but I kind of want to make my own now.