Saturday, October 27, 2012

October's FMQ Challenge

October's almost over!  I'm getting prepared for the Frankenstorm aka Sandy to hit between Sunday and Wednesday, so I need to get this post filed before, in case I lose power.  This is the 10th month of the FMQ challenge, and I can see real progress in my stitching and in my comfort zone, as well as the challenge of new designs. 

This month, Teri Lucas encouraged us to play.  Change the fabric, batting, threads, and spacial designs. 

So, I gathered some purple satin, and some polyester batting, layered that over some muslin and cotton batting, and grabbed an assortment of threads, including King Tut by Superior, and Aurifil 40wt and 50wt.  I used my regular quilting needle.  I was a little afraid of what would happen to the satin, but it was really cool to use.  I could see the thread easily (picked contrasting colors) and the shine of the fabric made it easier to stitch.  The biggest challenge was drawing some designs.  My usual favorite SewLine pencils didn't work well on satin, although I've used them to mark sewing dots on the wrong side and they work well for that.  I ended up finding a chalk pencil that gave enough of a mark for me to plan. 

So, I stitched my name, swirled, added a feather, some shells (really cool! New design for me, and I loved making them), and tried that sweet concentric circle thing (need way more practice) and some scrolls.  Added a few pebbles for traveling and filling in.  I played!  It was fun.  It didn't take long, but gave me some ideas for other designs and quilts.  It inspired me.  Sometimes finding inspiration is difficult, and we get stuck (like writer's block, only for quilters.)  This was a great challenge because it offered a chance to play. 

So, thanks again SewCal Gal and Teri!  This was wonderful! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

My favorite jeans!!

What do you do when the zipper breaks on your favorite jeans??  With the price of replacing the jeans so high, I just replace the zipper.  "Just" you say??  Yes, it's actually pretty easy. 

Here's how.
First measure the length of the zipper from the bottom stop to the top, where it goes under the waistband.  Get a jean style zipper this length or longer.  You can find them at JoAnn's or Walmart or many other sewing stores, or online at  That's where I used to get zippers when I did alterations and tailoring for the local dry cleaners.  I still have some (luckily).  I usually get one a little longer and trim the zipper tape to fit. 

Second, carefully use a seam ripper to remove the old, broken zipper.  Be careful not to cut the denim.  Usually, once I get about an inch out, I stick my finger in the space and yank the zipper away from the denim.  It breaks the thread and gets it out quickly.  Just be careful. 

You will probably have to cut the tape out below the bottom stop, since the bartacks on the bottom of the fly will be a challenge to remove and replace.  Just get out as much as you can, and carefully remove the tops from the waistband. 

Thread your machine with a good thread that matches the jeans (not the gold topstitch thread) and use a size 14 or Denim needle.  I use Aurifil thread (40 or 50wt) and a Schmetz Jeans needle.  Place your zipper foot on the ankle. 

Place the new zipper into position.  Make sure the bottom stop is as far down as it can go.  I usually pull one side of the zipper tape below the fly tab, and trim the zipper tape on the other side, so it can lay flat.  Pin it in place and make sure it's flat and close to where the original was.  I usually pin in the side that's between the sectioned part of the fly, not the part with the topstitching on the front.  Carefully push the top of the zipper underneath the waist band.  I trim the tape, as needed, and use a stiletto (awl) to push it in.. 

Line up your zipper foot so that it is away from the teeth, and stitch in this section as far as you can go.  Stitch from the top, and in my case, this is the left side.  If you can move your needle closer to the edge of the teeth, do so.  When you get to the bottom, stitch as far as you can.  Usually I angle this, because I want to make sure the bottom of the zipper doesn't pull out of the fly.  Back stitch here, too.  Stitch across the waistband area to close it and catch the top of the zipper in place.  Be careful sewing near the teeth.  I usually hand crank in this area, to make sure I don't break the needle.  Also, you will need to slide the zipper pull down when you begin, and back up when you finish.  Just put the needle down into the fabrc, and carefully jiggle the pull until it's behind the foot (close the zipper), and continue sewing. 

Close the button and make sure the closed zipper lays flat.  Pin it to the front of the jeans, from the zipper side.  Push the bottom tape down as far as it will go, and push the top of the zipper into the waistband area, trimming as needed.  Check to make sure it's flat, and pin carefully. 
From the zipper side, stitch the tape in place.  Go as far as you can, moving the zipper pull as needed, and backstitching at the top and bottom.  You won't be on the golden thread topstitched part here, so matching thread in the bobbin is important.  Again, stitch the top section into the waistband, and you should also be able to stitch the bottom tape area on to the fly section. 

Finally, Make sure the zipper opens and closes easily, and check again to see if it's flat. 

You just saved yourself at least $10 at the tailors, or so much more at your favorite store to replace your jeans! 

And, with most sewing challenges, it gets easier as you do them.  Let me know if you have any questions.  It's similar in trousers, too, although the fabric is easier to sew, and you don't need such a heavy weight zipper.  Have fun saving money, and getting some more wear out of your favorites! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lilac Wish Upon a Star

My newest wall hanging! 

It's called Wish Upon A Star by Eleanor Burns of Quilt In A Day.  It was pieced last year, and hung around waiting until I was able to quilt it.  I've been practicing my Free Motion Quilting, and felt it was time to do the feathers.  I worked quite a few hours on it over the last 2 weeks.  I enjoyed planning the designs and playing with Aurifil thread to make the designs work on the top.  I used a combination of Aurifil 40wt in lavender variagated on the center, border, and lighter parts of the star, and 50wt for the green, cream and darker purple sections.  I LOVE it!  It's going to hang on the wall in my bedroom, right where it's currently taped.  I need to get the curtain rod for it.  I'll pick up an inexpensive one soon. This was stitched on my domestic sewing machine.  The colors are prettier in person. It wasn't as sunny as I needed.  I used Warm & Natural cotton batting, and muslin on the back. 

Some of the details:  I used a floral stencil on the center square. 

And here's another view of the feathers in the star points.  I did end up changing the bobbin thread to match the top.  I think this makes the stitches look better. 

And the border:

Don't you love it??  I'm going to make another one soon, in different colors.  I haven't picked them yet, so suggestions are welcome.  I picked the colors based on the border fabric. 

If you want one for your wall, let me know.  It really was fun to make. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Greek Flag

Making a flag.

I am single, and hoping to find someone wonderful.  I use Eharmony for internet dating, and met a man named George in July.  We're friends, and I don't know where this will go, but he's a special man.  We have great conversations, and lots in common, but he's in Minnesota and I'm in PA.  We were hoping to meet in September, during a layover between his flights to Greece, but TSA thwarted that plan.  He's originally from Greece, and has a great accent.  As we started this friendship, I began learning more and more about his beautiful homeland. 

And, since I'm a quilter, my mind is always thinking of things to sew and quilt.  I wanted to make something that would celebrate his heritage and culture.  He didn't know what quilting was before we started talking (although he owns some "quilted bedding").  He was interested in what I do.  One night we were talking about the Greek Flag, and I mentioned the Greek Cross quilting block.  I had done one for the Quilt In A Day Facebook challenge.  He showed me a picture that broke down the flag into sewing sizes, using a 10" Cross block, with 2 1/2" stripes.  I thought "This was too easy!"

I checked with Missouri Star quilt company, and they had the perfect Blue Sky by Moda for the flag.  I found some great white cotton sateen, and set to work. 

I wanted the flag to look like it was flying,and although I haven't done a "bargello" style quilt, I've read enough directions and seen enough flags that I figured I could just wing it. 

I made the 10" square Cross square, and cut strips and sewed them together for the stripes.  I then just cut sections off the strips, moved them, and sewed them back together to give it the illusion of movement. 
George and I spoke again, and I discovered that the country Americans call Greece is actually called Hellas, (El las).  I actually wrote this in Greek letters and then wrote Greece in script, and stitched that into the stripes under the Cross block. 

I also quilted waves in the blue, to represent the waters around Greece, which is one of the things the blue in the flag represents, plus feather leaves in the white.  It measures about 28" wide by 20" tall,
It was made to honor George and his country, and to remind him of our friendship. 

I really had fun making this, and deciding how to quilt it.  I was careful with the curves, because I didn't want to have to use Bias cut binding, but I think it came out really well.  As far as I could tell, it's the only Greek Flag that's quilted on Etsy.  Although George has the original, I could make more if asked.  I'll probably do an American version soon, too. 

Thanks for reading!