Thursday, June 28, 2012

Adventures in Longarm Quilting

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I'd met Renae Allen when I bought some of her Skill Builder Series.  I also saw her at HMQS and got to chat for a couple of minutes.  She is one of the nicest people you could ever meet.  Well, last week she called me up out of the blue to let me know that Teryl Loy was running some sort of a special right now on Innova longarms.  At HMQS I had narrowed down my longarm choices to APQS and Innova, and had pretty much decided on the APQS, but would have been thrilled with either one.  I was only able to use each machine for 15 minutes or so at the show, which was really nice, but I wanted some more experience.  I asked Renae if she'd  be willing to let me do a quilt on her Innova to get a better feel for it, and she said yes!  Renae is a fabulous free-motion quilter, and does a lot of her quilts on a domestic sewing machine (even beautiful feathers!  on a DSM!) but she does some lovely longarming too. 

She lives about 40 minutes away from me (30 from my in-laws who watched the kids for me) so I went up yesterday to do some quilting.  I ended up getting a private lesson on some tips and tricks about loading the quilt that I didn't know before---little stuff that will make the whole process easier and more accurate.  She also taught me how to use rulers and templates.  I don't own any rulers yet so I hadn't tried them.  Longarm rulers are much thicker than rotary cutting rulers for safety reasons, so I can't just use rulers I already have.

I am much taller than Renae, so I did almost all of my quilting sitting on a barstool.  I was actually barely shorter than her sitting on it....  I do a fair amount of my quilting sitting anyway because we haven't raised my frame yet.  It works well except that I have to move my chair often.  Maybe I'll get a drafter's chair with wheels.
 I had marked the design on the borders before I went with overlapping half-oval shapes.  A combination of this curved ruler and a circle for the ends worked really well.  It was SO MUCH EASIER than trying to free-hand.  I thought I'd be able to follow my lines with no problems.  Wrong.  It was very difficult to do.  I need some rulers.
 I did some squares in the inner border, and free-hand loops in the center.  I used a right-angle ruler for the squares, and it was really easy after a minute of getting the hang of it.  FYI--I did remove all the markings.
 It was so much fun!!!  I want an Innova!  I'm sure I would be happy with an APQS, but there was absolutely nothing about the Innova that I didn't like.  It is a fabulous machine.  Now I just have to wait until I can get my own.  Even though they do have a special right now, I still need to wait a while.  The stitch regulator on the APQS beeps as a safety feature, which is one thing I know I wouldn't like.  Annoying.  So I think I've decided on Innova!
It was great to be able to do a whole quilt from start to finish rather than just spending a few minutes trying out a machine at a show.  I was able to get a really good feel for it.  I'm so grateful to Renae for all of her help and patience.  She taught me some things that will really make a difference in my quilting.  I'm really glad that I can call her a friend. 

I'm linking up to TNT Thursday at Happy Quilting today.  Yay for trying new things!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pattern Review: Inflight Hobo Bag by Joel Dewberry

I'm so happy to have finished something for ME!  I spend so much of my sewing time doing things for other people, is was nice to spend some time doing something for myself.  I used a lovely Lotta Jansdotter print with a Shot Cotton for the accent color.  The gray is quite purplish and so pretty!  The red has purple undertones because it is woven with red and bluish/purplish yarns.  I love the dimension of the shot cotton.  Yum.
Overall I really liked this pattern, but it had a few minor problems which I'll get into later.  It only called for interfacing in the handle, but because I used a regular quilting-weight cotton, I added Pellon Shape Flex interfacing.  It's a 100% cotton woven interfacing, and was fabulous to work with.  I used it in all of the exterior pieces.

I really like how the handles are connected using some hardware.  The thing I like best about this is that, at least in my purses, the handles always wear out first.  This way, if I choose, I can easily put a new handle on without opening any seams.  Once the whole thing wears out I can salvage the hardware and use it again in another purse. 

The pattern called for piping on the inner edges of the contrast stripes, and I chose to leave it off.  I've done plenty of piping and it doesn't scare me, I just didn't want it on this bag.  I pressed my seams toward the red strips and topstitched 1/4" away in gray thread. 

 The pattern also called for one inner zippered pocket, centered on one side.  I like more pockets, so I moved the zipper over and added a cell phone pocket on this side,

...and another zippered pocket and a pencil/pen pocket on this side.  The white zippers are really bright, but they were free, so I'm okay with that.  They'll be easy to find in the dark. 
So this pattern had three problems that I noticed.  First of all, the markings for the magnetic clasp were on the OUTSIDE pattern piece.  That just isn't where a magnetic clasp should go.  The second was that the lining was bigger around the top than the outer portion of the bag.  It is very possible that the curved/bias edges of my lining had stretched, but I had more than two inches of extra fabric to ease in, so I don't think it was all stretching.  I rememdied this with a little gathering stitch around the top.  The third issue was in the pleats on the bottom of the bag.  There were three marks on the pattern pieces, and there was an illustration in the pattern, but it was very unclear how much to pleat the edges.  I think it needed more instruction on this part.  I chose to use the outer two marks and turn mine into a box pleat.  It worked fine and gives nice shape to the bag. 
 Even with the shortcomings of the pattern, I think it is still worth it.  I wouldn't recommend this pattern to someone with little or no experience because those problems could really get in the way.  However, someone with some experience who feels confident tackling imprefection would likely be very happy with it. This pattern can be purchased here.
Personally, I am really looking forward to using and loving my new purse.
I'll be entering this in Purse Palooza 2012 within a few days, and I'm linking up to {Sew} Modern Monday today.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saving the World, One Zipper at a Time

I need a new purse.  I was thinking for a while what kind of purse I wanted to make and finally made up my mind.  I went to my LQS (local quilt shop) and bought some beautiful fabric, then headed over to JoAnn's for the hardware I needed.  This morning I started cutting everything out and realized... no zippers.  I forgot. Rats.

I've been thinking a little about being more resourceful after talking with Elisa at our Guild meeting last night.  While I won't pretend to be good at recycling and I'm not very thrifty either, I decided to take a baby step in the right direction.

Here's one of my old bags: handles sadly fraying, zippers still in good condition.
 So I unpicked those babies.  It took an hour.  Was it worth it?  I don't know, but I do get some satisfaction from saving a trip back to the store and a few dollars on zippers.  I was thinking about buying orange zippers for an unexpected splash of color, but white is fine.  I'm being resourceful, right?

Here's a sneak peek at my bag, with interfacing all fused and ready to start sewing.
It looks like it is going to go together quickly.  That's especially good because I've got other stuff on my to-do-in-the-near-future list.  I'm really excited about it.  This is the first purse I've made with a real pattern--I usually just make up my own.  I always like how they turn out, but this is fun too.  I'll give more details about the pattern and such when I finish this thing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Day of Summer at The Quilting Mill

I decided to take the day off of sewing and enjoy the day with the kids. 
 At the splash pad.  It took my little guy a while to warm up to the water, which was surprising considering how much he loves baths.
 When we got home he took a nap, and we picked berries in the back yard.  Yum.  Most of these are red raspberries, with a few black raspberries on top.  I think I see some jam in my future, if they last that long.
I hope you are all enjoying the start of summer!

Work In Progress Wednesday: Applique Superheroes

Now that my Dresden Wave mini is done, it is time to focus back on another project that has been sitting for a few weeks--the Superhero Quilt.  I sat down and turned all the edges of the superhero appliques.  I've done two turned-edge applique quilts before (rather than raw-edge with fusible web) and those were done by hand.  At the time I made the first one I didn't have children yet (it was for my daughter) and the second one I was still teaching and did hand stitching during faculty meetings.  This time I'm using monofilament and a tiny zig-zag, and I think it is working great. 

I like to use freezer paper for my applique.  Usually I do the dull side of the paper against the motifs, but this time I did it the other way, and I must say I don't like it.  I've heard of people using a glue stick to hold the edges down when you iron, but if you put the paper the other way, you don't have to.  The iron just makes the edges stick to the fabric for you.  I also don't really want to use a glue stick on this one.  I still have some windows and other shapes I haven't made yet, so I'll do those with the freezer paper the other way.  Here's Thor, showing his edges that won't stay down.
 This is Superman in progress.  This method works pretty well, I just have to keep turning the edges back under before I sew them down.  They are still creased from the iron, which helps a lot.
 Green Lantern, all done and ready to save the Universe.
 This is going to be the Daily Planet.  It still needs some detail.
 After sewing around the whole motif I cut the  back out so I could remove the paper, leaving a seam allowance of a little more than 1/4".
The little guy this is for was born almost two weeks ago, so I'm going to try to get this done before the end of the month.  Other projects to finish before June is out include two baby-size quilts for a client. 

My bargello is still on the back burner.  Hopefully I'll be able to quilt and bind this one soon--it's so small it won't take very long!  I should just do it.  I still haven't decided how to quilt it.  I do have some pretty dark gray thread for it though.

I'm linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced today. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dresden wave pouch

A month ago we had a pouch swap at the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild.  I had some leftover  chunks of strip-pieced sets from my still unfinished mini bargello quilt, and already had my dresden wave idea in my head, so I decided to use it to make a pouch for the swap.  I couldn't share it at that point, so I'm doing so now.  My strip set was too wide, so I had to pick off one strip to get 8".  The purple was right on the edge, so I chose to remove that one.  If it had been in the middle I would have left it, I think this could have used a splash of color, but I still like how it turned out.

It started out the same way as in my other tutorial, so I'll spare you the details.  I decided make one half wave one way and the other wave the other way so the seams would match up on the sides.

I lined them up right sides together and squared them up at the same time to assure the seams would match.

I decided to quilt this one (yeah, most pouches aren't quilted) and used my walking foot to quilt 1/2" from each seam.  This show stopping with the needle down right in the seam to pivot around the corner of the wave.

And here's the finished pouch.  I was planning on sharing a tutorial on doing the zipper and everything, but the end turned out puckered, so I would recommend trying a different method than I used, but I don't have a good one to suggest at this point.  The kind with little tabs covering the ends look nice, I can tell you that much.  I don't know where a tutorial for that kind of zipper can be found.
This almost looks like a black and white picture, but no, it's just  a black and white pouch on a gray mat (with orange stripes).

I'm linking up today to {Sew} Modern Monday.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

EZ Dresden Ruler Winner!

It's time to announce the winner of the EZ Dresden Ruler! 

Our winner is... Mike!  Here's what he said:

Thanks Mike!  I've sent you an email.  Your comment just made me laugh.

I'd like to thank each and every one of you for your comments.  So many of you said such nice things about my tutorial, it just made me feel so good!  Many of you also had some good ideas of how to keep my little guy busy while I'm trying to get things done, and I appreciate those too!  In addition, quite a few people gave me a much needed reminder that this stage of my life will pass much too quickly and I need to enjoy my kids while I can.  I am going to remember this!  I've arranged with a 13-year-old neighbor to come over sometimes and play with the kids for a while so I can sew, which will give me time to get some things done, but when she's not here, I'm not going to stress about what I need/want to accomplish. I'm going to make an effort to focus more on my kids and my time with them.  I'll save sewing for nap times and when my neighbor is here.  Thank you also to my new followers!  I get giddy each time one of you decides to follow me.

So now it is time to start on your own dresden projects!  If you do anything using my wave idea, I'd love to see it.  Whatever you come up with, be sure to come back to between September 1-6 to link up and enter to win those fabulous prizes! 
If you didn't win but want a ruler of your own, many quilt shops carry them, but I also found this one on Amazon for just over $7!  Can't beat that.  There weren't many left at this price.  Good luck and happy sewing!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dresden Wave in daylight hours

I'd like to start out today's post with a huge THANK YOU for all of your wonderful comments so far!  I have loved reading each one of them. 
As promised, here are some updated, better photos of my Dresden Wave mini.

 My little guy helping.
 The back, highlighting the allover paisley quilting.  I thought about piecing the back, but this will likely be a wall hanging, so I decided not to.

I've spent the last two days at the Utah FACS Summer Conference for Family and Consumer Science teachers at BYU.  I haven't been teaching for the last year, but plan on keeping my teaching license current, and attending conferences is necessary to do that.  It is also a fun conference.  I went to some great workshops, showed three of my quilts in the annual quilt show, and got to reconnect with a few friends, some of whom I only see at these conferences. 

In one of my workshops I got to meet Amanda Herring of The Quilted Fish, who designs for Riley Blake Fabrics.  I'd heard her present at a conference before, but hadn't really talked to her.  She was SO NICE!  I mentioned something about my blog, and she offered to give me some fabric to give away sometime!  I'm not sure when that will happen, but I'm pretty excited about it.  She's got a new line coming out this fall called Flutter which is really cute!  It has a medallion/doily print that I especially like, and a nice orange colorway, as well as blue and red colorways.  I was really happy to get to talk with her for a few minutes.  She also brought some swag to give away, and I REALLY WANTED to win some.  The last time I heard her speak everyone wrote their names on papers and put them into a bowl, and Amanda chose several that had been intricately folded and commented on how those people must have really wanted to win.  Remembering that, I folded my name this time into a little accordion.  And... she drew my name!  I was the last one to win any fabric, although she had a few other things too.  I got a Fox Trails charm pack.  It will make such a cute baby quilt for a boy some time!  I'm excited to think about how I want to put that one together, but it won't be for a long time, because I have too many other ideas up my sleeve.

There are so many great things about living and quilting in Utah.  Riley Blake and several (maybe most or all) of their designers are here, Joel Dewberry is here, Winline Batting is here, Handiquilter is here, Superior Threads is in southern Utah....   Not to mention all the wonderful quilters themselves that live here. It is just a great place to be.

Monday, June 11, 2012

EZ Dresden Challenge Tutorial and Giveaway!

The giveaway is now closed.
Welcome to my little corner of blogland!  My name is Barbie, and I'm really excited to share a tutorial with you today using Darlene Zimmerman's EZ Dresden Ruler.  In honor of Darlene's 20th anniversary designing rulers for EZ Quilting and Simplicity, the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild is hosting the EZ Dresden Challenge this summer.  There are three categories: traditional (min. side length 50"), innovative (min. side length 50"), and mini (max. side length 24").  Full contest details can be found here.  Each category will have big prizes too, thanks to these great sponsors.  Be sure to come back to September 1-6 to link up your projects and enter to win!

When I was asked to participate in this blog hop I was intrigued by the "innovative" category, and became determined to come up with something non-circular, but also not just sewing the wedges into a straight line.  I also love strip-piecing and the complex look that you can get when you use it, so I came up with what I call the "Dresden Wave."
Warning: get ready for picture overload.  I taught junior high FACS (home ec.) for six years and I'm used to giving lots of detail with every step.  Here goes.

Start with various sets of strips sewn together into 8" wide units.  I chose to use strips at least 2" wide on the edges because some of them will get trimmed off, but you don't have to do this.  I'm using Joel Dewberry's Heirloom line in the Sapphire colorway.  From each strip set you can get three blocks.  It was nice using the same line of fabric to sew my strips because they were all the same length!  It made it easy to match up the ends and avoid having a curved strip set by the time I was done.  I recommend pressing seams open for this particular method.  I've always been a "press to the dark" girl, but in this case, it really distributed the bulk well.

Next, using the ruler, trim off one edge and then cut a wedge. 

Next we will be cutting a parallelogram.  I cut mine 2 1/2 inches wide.  Line up the 2 1/2" line of your regular ruler with the cut edge of your fabric, and use the EZ Dresden Ruler to make sure you still have the correct angle.  Cheat a tiny bit if you have to, but you want the angle pretty accurate.

Then continue cutting.  You will need one dresden wedge pointing each direction (one up, one down), two parallelograms leaning one direction, and one parallelogram leaning the other direction.  The shape of your wave will be determined by which direction your extra parallelogram leans, so you can do some blocks of each kind.  I did.

The reason I decided to use parallelograms is illustrated in this picture.  If you put an "up" wedge next to a "down" wedge and sew them together, the strips would go straight across the seam and it would just be sewn into a parallelogram anyway.  Save a step!  Cut a parallelogram!

Here's the fun part.  Rearrange your pieces and you get a wavy pattern!  I just love this.  So fun. 

To get them in the right order, first push them into wedge/parallelogram pairs, with the extra parallelogram in the middle.

Move the extra parallelogram out of the way.

Move the parallelograms to the other side of the wedges they are paired with.  You should see some motion here.

Put your extra parallelogram on the end.

Push together.  Voila!

If you put your other parallelogram on the side and it isn't making a wave like this on the right,

try switching the order of the pairs.  It should fix it.  I had to stare at one of these for a couple of minutes before I got it to work!
Next turn the pairs right sides together and pin, matching up the seams.  If you've pressed your seams open, this is where you'll be glad you did.

I went a little overboard and pinned at each seam, but you don't have to.

When you sew these babies, it is best to sew from the fat side of the wedge toward the narrow side.  This helps maintain the grain and keep it from stretching out of shape.

Here's why, for anyone who might care.  If you look closely at the cut edge of the fabric you can see little bits poking out.  You want to sew in the direction that would smooth them out, not rough them up.  Think petting a cat--they don't like it if you do it backwards.  Now, if you do it the other way, the grainline police aren't going to come get you, this is just Dr. Burnham from my clothing construction classes in college coming through.

Once you've sewn these press your seams open again.
Continue sewing your pieces together until you have a completed wave, pressing seams open as you go.
Now to trim them into rectangles.  I found that if I lined up my ruler so it matched with a line on my mat as well as a seam going across one of the wedges I was able to get the largest block possible. 

Sorry this is a different block.  Oops.  Trim as little off the top and bottom as possible, making sure to use the lines on your mat as a guide.  Mine ended up 7 1/4" tall.

Next trim the sides.

Mine were 8 3/4" wide.

I decided I liked this layout the best with four blocks.

I added 1" wide strips to the outsides to give me a half inch white border on each block.  I used a white-on-white print.  Then, to make them into squares, I added 2" wide strips to just one side of each block.

Sewed together, then added 2" borders.

 I quilted it with an allover paisley pattern.

Here it is all done and bound!  

I love how this turned out!  I can't wait to hang it on the wall in my studio.  Even though I wouldn't change this quilt, if I was going to make another one, I would choose a less busy background to let the blocks stand out a little more.  I still love it anyway.

I hope you liked this stop of the blog hop!  I had a lot of fun designing and making this quilt.  I'd love to hear if you make something using this idea!  And now for the giveaway... Along with the EZ Dresden ruler, I'm giving away a fat quarter of Joel Dewberry's Blockprint Blossom in Amethyst from the Heirloom line, and a package of my fav quilting needles, Superior Threads Titanium Coated Topstitch Needles, size 90/14.  These will fit a domestic machine.  To enter just leave a comment giving me your best advice on how to get anything done when you have a lovable but needy one-year-old around.  If you don't have any good advice, that's okay.  Just leave a comment.  I'll announce a winner sometime Saturday morning, June 16th, Mountain time.

The giveaway is now closed.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Be sure to check out the other great bloggers who are participating.  Here are the links:
June 1  Salt Lake MQG: Kick Off
June 2  Lee:
June 3  Kati
June 4  Victoria: and Tanya:
June 5 Val: and Leigh:
June 6  Amy: and Elisa
June 7  Katie: and Emily:
June 8  Melissa:  and Brooke:
June 9  Nicole: and Amy
June 10  Elizabeth: and Colleen:
June 11  Faith: and Deonn:
June 12 Angela: and Barbie:
June 13  Amy:
June 14  Jessica:
June 15  Salt Lake MQG: Wrap-up

If you happen to be looking for Heirloom fabric, I found mine in this etsy shop.  She has a great selection of beautiful fabrics and was pleasant to work with!  You can also check out some great finishes from this week at {Sew} Modern Monday.

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