Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Quilt for my son

My son is now 24.  This isn't his first quilt, but I was surprised he didn't remember the first.  It meant a lot to me, as it was the second class I took for quilting.  I made him a twin size Amish Quilt by Quilt In A Day.  It was rainbow brights on a black ground, and I still have it.  It didn't wear well, since I probably used poly-cotton fabric (it was made about 20 years ago) and it was only tied, not quilted, but he saw it recently and said he forgot.  He knows I've made many quilts since, and given some to others, so he wanted a new one. 

I asked him to pick out a book, and he said he wanted blues.  He picked the Double Irish Chain by Quilt In A Day, and I picked out batiks from Timeless Treasures, since my wholesale friend can get them for me.  I started this before Christmas, and the main part of the top was completed to show him on Christmas morning.  I had his usual pajama gift, too, but since money is so tight, I told him this was it.  Even with the break on the price, the fabric cost more than $90 for the top!  The backing was another $25 (yeah for wide Roc-Lon premium muslin at wholesale prices) and the batting was another $40.  The quilt measures about 104 by 120 inches.  It's HUGE!! 

It's all pieced with Aurifil 50wt Mako cotton thread, and I used my Viking Sapphire as well as my vintage Featherweight, depending on where and when I was working on the top.  I did have a challenge doing the 9 patch corners, since there was a typo in the book.  For me to solve an issue, I need to let it "veg" in my brain for a bit.  If I get frustrated, I need to set the problem aside until I can ponder the answer.  In this case, it sat for a few months.  I finally pulled it out again and looked at the pictures in the book, and compared them to my fabrics, and was able to finish the top.  I love being able to spread the whole thing out on the huge work table at Enright's, and that Bernie will come help me pin the layers.  She's truly a gem! 

So, here are some pictures.  My plan to quilt includes straight lines down the "chain" blocks, on the diagonals, which is traditional in this style quilt.  I'll use some sort of stencil on the 'background" blue blocks, and I have something planned for the borders.  I'll do another post when it's all done. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tutorial: How to make a decorative pillow cover

Do you want an easy, fun, fairly inexpensive way to brighten your living space?  Throw pillows are great!  You can add a cover to an existing pillow in about an hour, and change the look of your room.  This is the Envelope style cover.  No zippers needed. 

Here's the info:  You need a sewing machine, zipper foot, fabric, scissors, rotary cutter, ruler and mat (optional) thread and trim, if desired.  The amount of fabric and trim depends on the size of the pillow.  I'm making covers for 19" square pillows, so I have 3/4 yard of 54" wide fabric, and 2 1/4 yards of piping.  If your fabric is 45" wide, you'll need 1 1/4 yards.  For two pillows, you'll need 1 7/8 yards. 

Measure your pillow, add 1/2" to each side (1 inch total).  So, for a 19" finished cover, I need 20" of fabric.  I make sure my fabric is straight and even, and cut a 20" by width of fabric (WOF).  I then cut off the selvage on one side, and cut a 20" square, plus 2 15" by 20" rectangles.  Smaller pillow sizes need thinner rectangles, An 18" would be 13" by 18.

First, finish the edge of one side of the rectangle, the 20" side, not the short side.  I use my serger first, to finish the edge, then roll it and stitch it.  If you don't have a serger, you can press in 1/4" and press it in again, and stitch.  I do have a rolled hem foot that does the same thing, but it's a smaller hem, and this fabric is thick, so it was easier to just use my regular foot.  Do both rectangles, only one edge each. 

Switch to your zipper foot, and determine where 1/2: seam allowance is.  Place the fabric edge along this line, and baste on your piping trim.  Put the trim right sides down on the right side of the fabric, with the 'bump" of the piping towards the center, and the raw edges together.  This piping was thin, so the seam allowance is less than 1/2", so the edges don't meet, but the stitching line on the piping is along the 1/2" seam line.   I'm going to overlap the ends, rather than connecting them, so I start in the center, with a little curve up to the stitching line. 

When you get to a corner, snip the piping seam allowance where you will turn.  Don't snip past the stitching line on the piping.  Create a little fold in the piping, and pivot around the corner, lining up the piping along the next edge. Continue for all 4 corners. 

Overlap the ends, curving the end down after it crosses the beginning piece. 
Trim the thread and cut the extra piping (I usually do it even with the fabric edge.)

Now, lay your pillow front, right sides up on a flat surface.  Lay one of the rectangles right side down, with the finished edge towards the middle, and the raw edges matching.  Lay the second rectangle over that, on the opposite side, again matching raw edges.  They should overlap in the middle. 

Pin the overlap edges to hold them in place, then add a few more pins to keep it together. 

HINT!!  Move your needle 2 steps LEFT from where you basted the piping.  It helps to hide the stitches on the piping and gets you a little closer to the bump. The pillow looks better!  Trying to get closer to the bump is important.  The foot will push away from this, so I actually steer more right, so it actually looks like I'm not sewing straight, but it keeps it closer to the piping. 

Stitch around all 4 sides, backstitching where the overlaps begin and end. 
Notice the needle is more to the left from the basting stitches for the piping. 

I like to serge these edges, just to prevent fraying.  That's optional.  You can also use pinking shears, if you have them. 
Trim the corners, turn right side out, and press.  Insert pillow and TADAAH!  You have a new look!

Sorry, I don't have the pillow body to show you the finished pillow.  This is the back.  Any fabric can be used, but make sure you have the design going the same way, if using certain prints.  If using a quilted square, prepare the front as you wish (quilted, embelished, etc) and trim to the size plus 1/2" for the seams.  Cut your back fabric, and finish as above.   

Want something a little different?  What about a flange?? That's the outer flat edge on some decorative pillows.  It makes the pillow seem larger, but it's only extra fabric.  Add 4" to your cut measurements.  For example, cut a 24" square for the front, and it will hold my 19" pillow.  Cut the2 back rectangles 24 by 17".  Follow the above directions, turn and press.  Topstitch 2 inches away from piping through all the layers, around the whole pillow.  It looks like a frame.  Press again (the stitches look better!) and insert the pillow.  You have a nice flange edged pillow. 

Let me know if you make any pillows using these directions!  I'll be making 6 in total this time, for a customer.  I do plan to make a few new ones for my living room.  It's also a great way to use an extra quilt block.  Add a frame to make it the size you need, quilt it, and add a cute accent to your bed! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June's FMQ challenge

June's post by Cindy Needham was great!  Her idea is creative and fun, and you really get into your groove, what she calls the Hum-Purr of the machine.  I do really need to practice more, though.  I've been making other things this month, not doing as much quilting, so changing the foot and settings hasn't happened enough to improve my skills much.  Also, I usually use a Gypsy Fabric Gripper to help hold the fabric.  I had issues when I wanted to quilt right to the edge of something small, though.  I couldn't hold anything!  Everyone has been talking about Machinger's gloves, and I picked up a pair to try.  It does allow me to grip closer to the edge, but I really need to practice more, now, since I'm used to one version of the glide, and this is different.  I actually switched mid way through this sample.  Can you tell where??? lol

When I was a little girl, I loved coloring in the doodles.  I used to make a swirly scribble/doodle, and pick different colors for each section.  When I taught after-school daycare and my elementary classes, I used this trick, too.  It's a great time filler for students who finish early, or on rainy days when recess was inside.  I laughed when I saw Cindy's swirl, since it was so much like my old doodles! 

So, I grabbed an old piece of dusty rose fabric (probably poly/cotton broadcloth!) and some Warm & Natural batting scraps, and my dark brown Aurifil 50wt thread, and filled in the scribble with designs.  I drew a 1" graph area, too, and tried a variety of fills in each square.  As a practice, it was successful in some ways, but I laughed out loud when I goofed.  I'll just say I laughed quite a bit.  I may look worse because I really wanted the stitches to show.  When the thread coordinates better, I think I sew better.  Yeah, that's it!!  I'll stick with that idea!! ;)

I need more practice!!  I'm going to give my brain time to process this.  I did notice I was improving on backtracking, going over the same lines.  This will help me master feathers soon. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Michele's Project

I know she's going to say "Finally", maybe not to me, but I know she should!

Michele asked me to make cushions for her 4 dining room chairs, and something to decorate the backs.  We played with ideas, and came up with a design.  She had the fabric, and I needed to get the foam, ribbon and piping.  I actually ended up making the piping, since either it was too thin or too fancy and very expensive in the store.  It takes some time to make 24 yards of piping, but not as long as it seems, Michele.

Here they are!  Her chairs are creamy white, like the stripe in the fabric, and are shaped differently than mine.  These should look wonderful on her chairs. 

I know I procrastinate.  In this case, it was because I hadn't done something exactly like this before, and I needed the thinking process to work, make the design, and to work with the stripes.  I think it came out really cute, and I made sure the stripes matched on the pieces.  The center stripe on both is cream, and the stripes match along the front and back on the chair cushion along the sides.  Both are also reversible.  I'm happy with the finished set. 

I'm not exactly happy with all the life issues that happened in the process of this project, but sometimes you just have to deal with life first.  I think I've conquered the life challenges, and could deal with this challenge, finally. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Just for me

Every once in a while, I need to make something for me.  It keeps me happy, and makes sewing for others less of a job and keeps it as a passion, and a joy.  Sometimes it's an apron, or a table runner, or a quilt, but today it's a shirt. 

Since my budget is very tight, I can't afford to buy clothes right now.  I like having something (or lots of somethings, lol) new every season.  It's just fun!  I'm sure you agree, and do the same.  Anyway, I was contemplating some new shirts, and was looking through some fabrics that I bought a few years ago (when the budget was happier!lol). 

I discovered this pretty piece of 35" wide cotton, with an interesting weave, and pink flowers.  I pulled my favorite camp shirt pattern, and searched for buttons, and some Aurifil thread to match.  Now I have a fun new shirt to wear with jeans or white capris.  It's comfy, pretty, and airy.  Perfect for a hot Summer day.  I even have pink sandals that would look cute with it! 

I even played with a fun little flower stitch for the topstiching on the collar and yoke edges.  I love my Sony Cybershot camera!  Look at that detail!The flower is about the size of a quarter. 

Does anyone remember what this weave is called?  It's vintage, 35" wide 100% cotton.  Is it Dobby?  It almost feels like seersucker on the front, but it doesn't have the usual puckers.  The texture is just from this design in the weave.  I did pre-wash this, but do that anyway when making clothes. 

Matching buttons. 

Matching peony from my garden!