Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Island Batik Tool Time and other news

It's Tool Time!  I was so excited to see this challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors.  What a fun idea!  We're to use any tool (not shared in previous months) that hopefully isn't one previously sponsored.  We're to use it to make a project lap size or larger.  Oops, I forgot about that part, but my project does work for someone's lap. lol.  Since I'm a lover of tools, I wanted to try something I hadn't before. 
Hazel, my 10 year old rescue Chocolate Lab mix, seems to like her new lap quilt.  
But it's also a rug.  A Jelly Roll rug, to be specific, except that Moda has trademarked the words "Jelly roll" for their precut strips, and Island Batik calls it a strip pack.  My rug used one whole package of strips, plus a roll of Bosal Katahdin batting, precut at 2 1/2" wide and 50 yards long, and almost a whole spool of Aurifil 40wt thread, which was used to make about 7 bobbins, which are now empty.  Yup, lots of thread.  And a Schmetz Jeans needle or 2.  I have seen tons of these rugs on Pinterest and Instagram, and wanted to make one.  I've seen quite a few videos on Youtube, as well.  And lots of "tools" to help make the rug.  I saw Jerry's Jellyroll Jig by Hip Stitch  on The Fat Quarter Shop and it was available in colors, so I ordered the Mulberry one.  It was a better price than some of the other similar tools, and in a fun color.  (It's currently sold out on the Fat Quarter Shop's store, but you can contact them to see if they're getting more).  
I picked the Victoria and Albert collection, because this was the only strip pack I had that has purple in it.  I'll be moving upstairs in this house, since Mom's now in a facility, and I need to rent the basement apartment to help cover the property taxes, etc.  We need to put some of her stuff in storage and get rid of some of her hoarded stuff, and get rid of the carpet (probably from the 1970s) in that room (my allergies would not tolerate it!)  And I think it's hardwood floors, so I wanted a small rug for next to my bed, that would go with my Jewel Box quilt.  This is okay, but I did order other purple strip packs for the next rug.  I think Hazel will enjoy having this to sleep on.  

I do think I'll order the pattern, because I'm sure it has some information I didn't think about.  I thought I could figure it out.  I did, mostly, and learned a bit about the process.  

1.  If the video says "5 bobbins) make 7.  I actually almost did an 8th, but had a 50wt one in the same color, so I used that to finish the last 20".  
2.  You need quite a bit of time for this.  Allow about 8 hours or more.  It's not quick.  
3.   Your shoulders will get a workout.  
5.  Get a good clean bucket or basket.  I used my trash can.  It's the one under my sewing desk, for trimmings and some paper garbage, so it's not really dirty, but it was so helpful.  
8.  Get a wooden dowel wide enough to go across the basket.  
9.  Starch or Best Press will help.  
10.  Remember to stretch out your shoulders, and clean off your desk next to your machine (or work on a larger clean surface for this project).  You're welcome.  

So, Here's what I did.  After opening the strip pack, and petting it, I put the matching strips together (Island Batik's packs have 2 of 20 different colors/tjaps).  I then put them in the order I thought would look the best.  I chose to have a light center for the rug, and darkest green for the outer.  I sorted the strips into the order I wanted to sew.  Join all of these into one loooooonnnnnnngggg strip.  Over 1720", Or over 143'.  Or over 47 yards, almost half of a football field.  In fabric strips that are 2 1/2" wide.  That's why you'll want about 50 yards of batting.  I sewed this with a bias seam, trimmed off the triangles, and pressed this seam open, just like I do on my binding.  Except that is usually less than 500".  Yes, it's loooonnnngggg.   Find the end with the color you want on the OUTSIDE of the rug.  And use the Jelly Roll Jig to make the first fold.  Put your fabric strip, right side down (check when pressing that your strips are all sewn correctly, you'll want to fix it before this step).  Set up your roll of batting so that it will unroll without twisting.  I used my tube turner dowel and tube for this.  I just taped them to the top of my trashcan (which was emptied) with shipping tape.  One video said to fold the strip so it was easier, but I just put it in the bottom of the can next to the batting.  Put the batting on the wrong side of the strip.  I liked the Katahdin, because it kind of stuck to the fabric.  Keep them centered.  

I used the plastic pieces to help feed the fabric and batting into the jig.  So easy.  It started folding right away, so I pulled out enough that I could fold over the edge of the fabric, so the batting was fully encased, and I would have a good end for the finish of the rug.  
You can see a video on how to use the Jelly Roll Jig here.  Once you get it started, you can just fold it again, and stitch it so the edges and batting are encased.  It's a long line of stitching, but fairly fast and SOOOOO much easier with the Jig.  Some of the other videos said to use Clover clips to do the fold, clip as much as you can, and then stitch, and take out the clips as you stitch.   Then you'll need to stop and clip (because you'll run out) and stitch.  And stop and clip.  The Jig means you can just get your fabric and batting smooth, slide the jig, and sew.  Smooth, slide and sew.  I know it saved me lots of time.  

About the Jig.  It's actually made in the USA with a 3-D printer.  I had never used something made with a 3-D printer before, and found this really interesting.  It looks like lines of plastic, not a smooth finish you'll find on molded plastic, but that doesn't make it rough, just different.  So unusual.  
Make sure you feed the fabric so the fold goes the right direction, and then you'll be having fun.  I did start this into a ball, but realized I was not keeping the rope from twisting and that became a problem later.  I think this is where the pattern  would be helpful.  But just keep sewing.  

Once the Jig is up (I mean done) lol and your strip is now a rope ball, put it back into the basket.  Form your center part of the rug, and make sure it will rotate so the outer part of the rug will be to the left of the machine.  
And keep sewing.  One thing I figured out at this stage was that you needed to keep the fabric just touching, even to the point of pushing the outer edge a little bit more, as it is being stitched to the previous row around the curve, so the rug will stay flat.  I did NOT realize this with the first few rounds, so my rug is not flat before the coral fabric strips, but after that it's not too bad.  When I did the fabric wrapped clothesline baskets, you needed to keep the outer rope taut, so the basket stands up.  NOT in this case, make it looser.  They need to just touch, and even push it, almost as if you were easing a gathered sleeve.  

When I was done, I sprayed it liberally with Best Press and used a steam iron.  It came out better, but it's not flat.  I'm wondering if Hazel will mind, and I do know it's washable, so maybe I'll wash it and lay it flat, and steam it again.  I do need the pattern, lol.  

I need to take more photos in daylight.  The fabric is much prettier than this shows.  I just wanted to get this post up.  

The next thing to share is that I finished the Table Topper snowflake runner from last month.  I used a Variegated blue Forty-3 thread from Aurifil, and a quilting design of snowflakes I purchased from My Creative Stitches.  I used the Basic Bluebird to bind the edges.  Vanna, my Handi-quilter Amara with Prostitcher, did a really nice job.

And I was accepted for a juried Arts show.  The Long Island Arts Council is having a Fair on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Small Business Saturday) at the Samanea (formerly Source Mall at Fortunoff's) in Westbury, Long Island NY.  I'm honored to be in a juried arts show, and so excited about the weekend, hoping that many customers support my small business.  If you can't get there, I do sell on Etsy.  There's a link on the right side.  If you see something you need, please consider purchasing it from me.  I do put my heart into everything I sell.  

I wanted to make some embroidered ornaments for this show.  I have 3 done so far, and hope to finish the set from Embroidery Library.  They are cute!  They are about 5" tall.  Gingerbread cookies that never go stale!  It's felt and Aurifil thread.
Thanks so much for reading this long post.  
I do hope you decide to make something fun from Island Batik, and share the photos.  

This also means I completed my One Monthly Goal!  Yay, me!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Stitch it and Gift it Blog Hop

Hi, and thanks for stopping by!  I hope you've been enjoying all the fun items being made for the Stitch it and Gift it blog hop.  I love doing hops with Carla at Creatin' in the Sticks.  She has wonderful ideas, is so creative with her own designs, and makes it so easy to participate, since she's so organized.  

So, any ideas what to give?  I've had an idea for a while, but haven't had time or a good reason to make it.  So, I grabbed some time, since this hop is a great reason! 

I've wanted to make a sleep mask for a while.  I want to make one as a gift, too.  I have a bigger than average head (no, really, I'm not egotistical, but my head needs a 7 5/8" hat, which is larger than most women).  Normal sleep masks that you can buy in the store are too tight on my head and face.  I love it being super dark when I fall asleep, and if I sleep later, don't like being disturbed by sunlight.  And since I'm a night owl, I sleep late often, so I need a good mask!  I also thought I would make one to give to my sister-in-law for Christmas.  She likes to sleep late, too.  But she has a normal size head.  

Anyway, back to the mask.  I'm also trying to learn more about embroidered applique and machine embroidery.  Projects make you learn something.  And I ADORE Sarah Vedeler designs.  She had a cute pattern for a sleep mask, which I purchased a while ago.  I don't see it currently on her website, but you can ask if it's available.  

So, I grabbed some fabric and set to work.  I picked some Island Batik Mum in purple, which I had around, and some scraps from secret sewing, but it's Moo Milk, which is available all the time, and some flannel scraps I had from making pajamas, for the back.  I'm an Island Batik Ambassador, and they provide lots of fabric for me to make projects, but I also purchase it.  Thread is from Aurifil, which I've purchased and have been provided as Island Batik Ambassador, too.  

And here it is!  

I must admit I didn't follow all the directions, and know when I make another, I'll do it a little differently.  I do love the soft flannel for the back, but forgot to finish stitching the heart before adding it.  I would also cut the frames larger than needed, and trim close to the satin stitching after it's finished.  I would also add a little tuck in the fabric, and have it come down more around the nose, to block out more light, but that's just me.  I do LOVE how easily it stitched out, the details in the stitching, and the hearts, which is View 2 in the design files.  I would have changed the thread color for the heart fill, though.  That's where I goofed up, thinking it was time to add the backing, lol.  So, this practice mask will probably be not be seen again, but I do know how to make it better.  That's the thing about trying something new.  Learning something new is important!  I learned more about my machine and how to do Sarah's files, which I hope to use again.  

So, my sister-in-law and I should have fun sleep masks for Christmas this year.  I may bundle hers with a mug rug, and some of chamomile tea.  

Please visit the other bloggers who have something fun and inspirational to share with you. 

Wednesday, November 13th

And check back with Carla at Creatin In the Sticks for the blogs from Monday and Tuesday, and the ones to come, for more!  
Thanks for stopping by! 

Please also check out the Virtual Craft Fair sponsored by Quilt Shop Gal!  There's a new list of shops and another give-away today.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Quilt Shop Gal's Virtual Craft Fair!

Thanks so much for visiting.  I'm participating in Quilt Shop Gal's Virtual Craft Fair.  Darlene is such a great cheerleader and friend, and supports so many in our wonderful industry, and I'm honored to be participating in this fair. 

What do you have to do?  Just look in my Etsy shop and see if there's anything you need or want for a gift, or for yourself.  I sell a variety of products, and even have patterns I've designed, some Aurifil thread, and Island Batik fabric, as well as out of print and vintage supplies.  And of course I have quilts and table toppers I've made.  

I love making, and have turned this passion into a business, which I hope will grow.  I'm now also doing long arm quilting, and will accept tops that you may wish to have quilted before Christmas.  Contact me to get scheduled. 

There are a number of other vendors in this Virtual Craft Fair, so please consider looking at their shops, as well.  Go to Quilt Shop Gal's blog for the list, and for the information about the door prize.  You have to do a little "sleuthing" to find the item, and enter to win a prize. 
Quilt Shop Gal's Virtual Craft Fair

I'm offering a 10% coupon code for reading my blog and hope that you'll use it before the end of the year. 

Just enter QSGFAIR2019 when checking out. 

Or use this link. Coupon Link


Thanks so much to Darlene for hosting, and I hope you have fun shopping!  Thanks also to the daily prize sponsors. 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

November's One Monthly Goal


It's time to link up with Patty for One Monthly Goal.  I forgot to blog about this in October, but my goal wasn't finished, anyway.  I'm hoping I have a better result for November.  

November's Island Batik Ambassador challenge is Tool Time.  I have a new tool and some products to try out, so that's going to be my goal for this month, at least the one I can share.  I'll give details on that soon, but it uses a strip pack.  And lots of thread, lol.  I did puck the collection, but haven't taken a photo of it yet.   Just know I think I'll love it, it will be big, use tons of thread, and be comfy. lol.  I think Hazel, my dog, is going to love it, too.  

The other goal is secret sewing.  One of my pattern designs was accepted for the 2020 Island Batik catalog, so I have to get that made and sent to them so the wonderful Jerry Khiev can do his magic and make it look awesome.  Then I need to write the pattern.  This will be shown in Spring of next year.  

I am also hoping to finish quilting my table runner from October, and get that listed, plus I have a runner, another top, and some smaller items to quilt.  I spoke to my rep, Fred, at Pocono Sew and Vac, and as soon as I mentioned I've had thread fraying issues since the beginning, he seems to know what to do.  He says there's an adjustment that is often needed after shipping, which causes the thread to shred.  I'm hoping I can get to PA within the next few days, so I can get this fixed and finish the secret sewing.  I'm also hoping to join a guild or 2, to advertise that I'm now selling Island Batik fabric, as well as doing long arm quilting for others.  I'm going to be updating my blog, as well.  I have also been asked to do custom memory quilts, and I'm hoping to have that done before Christmas.  Then there's the Christmas gifts to make.  

I am so happy to be busy, and love what I'm doing.  Did you see that the application for being an Island Batik Ambassador is open?  I did reapply, so I'm hoping to be chosen again.  Check their blog if you're interested.  

Thanks for stopping by!  

Friday, November 1, 2019

October Island Batik Ambassador Challenge Top it Off

Thanks for visiting.  Best laid plans, and all. 

I've had a busy few months, especially after Mom's fall in the beginning of September, and her still being in rehab, which is good in some ways, and not in others.  My schedule is still subject to changes minute by minute.  Mom's care is good, she's comfortable, and I'm healing from all the pain and injuries dealing with her inability to stand and walk unassisted for the month plus she was home before her fall.  She's now classified as "2 person assist" and I can't care for her alone anymore.  Alzheimer's stinks.  If she didn't want to stand up, she would throw herself backwards, with my arms behind her, or just the position I needed to be in to help her stand from bed or the bathroom, required my arms to be in an awkward position, and my elbows were twisted a few times, not to mention the strength needed to lift her weight, if she wasn't helping.  My chiropractor is awesome.  

With that, and also a 2 week visit by my brother and sister-in-law, where she decided she finally wanted to learn to sew, plus other activities, has led me to this period.  A plan that went awry, and will not be finished this month.  

Here's the runner, and how it started.  That's actually a funny story. 

The Island Batik Ambassadors were asked to Top it Off.  With applique, for a holiday.  There have been some gorgeous table toppers and runners.  Check Island Batik on Facebook if you need some fun inspiration from the other Ambassadors.  I wanted to use my Accuquilt GO! dies and embroidery machine.  When you purchase the dies, you can download a file, free, that does some basic machine embroidery edges.  I wanted to either use the Fall leaves, or these 3 1/2" snowflakes.  So, I went through my boxes of Island Batik fabric and tried to decide which color I would choose, which would decide the applique.  Both had similar ideas, trying to show the shape just as it would fall, in the wind or swirl a little.  So, when I found these gorgeous blues, and the 2 with snowflake designs, that color won, so I put the orange and green fabrics back.  I searched through the bundles of Blenders I have as well.  Island Batik is so generous in their supply of fabrics for Ambassadors, that I have a ton of choices from the years.  The blenders are always available, though.  Anyway, I had an assortment in shades of blue, and the creamy beige center has swirls of blue.  I think it's a Neutral that's always available, but forgive me for not checking.  I pulled some of the solid White fabric for the applique.  

So, without actually planning the final size, but hoping for about 45" long, I made a pile of the blues, and cut 4 1/2" by 18" strips, 2 of each, because I wanted the "ombre" effect.  I also wanted the center to be a good size, so a nice centerpiece would not hide the design and the fabric.  That's 8 1/2 by 18.  The 18" got trimmed to 16 1/2, and I started sewing based on the colors, which I had sorted from darkest to lightest, deciding the snowflake design would be at the ends.   And I kept sewing, and sewing, and eventually ran out of strips.  Not realizing I ended up with something about 76" long.  Yes, you can laugh.  I didn't expect it to be big enough for a bed runner, but maybe it's also good for a really really long banquet table. lol

Then I cut a 4 1/2" piece of the white, and ironed on Light Steam a Seam, and cut out 9 snowflakes.  I put the runner on the guest bed, and decided I want the snowflakes to look swirly and random, but not measured.  Once I liked the placement, I pinned them down.  Using an Embroidery Machine has a few limits, and on mine, I can't change the angle of the design.  It only stitches with the arm going east to west.  I decided I would need to change the angle of the fabric as I loaded it in the hoop, to make sure the flakes still looked random and twirly.  I loaded up some stabilizer, and got the first snowflake about where I wanted it, and stitched, and stitched, and stitched.  One snowflake takes about 15 minutes just to stitch.  That's not counting changing the placement of the hoop, winding 3 bobbins (total) of thread, and getting the placement adjusted.  And I had cut 9 snowflakes.  Once I got 6 stitched on, I decided I needed more.  I cut out a few more from another strip, and ended up using 15.  So, did you do the math?  That's about 4 hours of embroidery machine work alone.  Yes, I used 3+ bobbins and quite a bit of the spool of Aurifil 40wt thread in white.  So, my quick little project has already taken over 6 hours.  

Next step is to get backing and batting ready.  I found a piece of navy wide backing, scraps from the Quilt of Valor, and some batting, Warm & Natural, a scrap from another quilt.  I was really really hoping to have it done.  But I also wanted to use silver metallic thread.  I have a spool from Superior.  So, it's currently on Vanna, my Handi-quilter Amara, and NOT being stitched out because the thread is shredding.  I have so many issues with shredding thread, that it makes learning to long arm very frustrating.  I can't even get the top edge basted on.  I do have an awesome snowflake panto to use with the computer, but I need to double think my thread choice.  I am not sure if I'll use creamy beige, white, navy or clear.   About the shredding thread, it happens with all brands, I've changed and checked the needles, the tension is good when it actually stitches, and I've tried Sewers Aide.  I've replaced the last "pig tail" thread guide, and double checked within the tension disks and elsewhere for a burr or rough spot.  I can't figure it out.  No matter what, the thread shreds.  I want to be able to quilt for others, but this issue frustrates me so much.  I don't want to have to worry about damaging someone's quilt, or having to bury so many threads.  I plan to call my tech tomorrow, to see if there's another thing I'm not thinking of, but tonight's attempt brought me to tears, and I may have damaged the quilt top when I pulled the machine.  I don't want to look at it yet.  

So, it's not getting done in October.  November is Tool Time, and I have something I think will be fun, planned.  I have some secret sewing to do first, and hope that Vanna cooperates for that project.  
Thanks again for reading.