Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pillow Finish!

I found a few spare minutes to finish my Make it Sew Modern-Inspired pillow!

Funny thing about this.  Several months ago we were at my in-laws' house, and I was looking through a quilting magazine belonging to my mother-in-law.  I saw a picture of a pillow and thought, "That has to be on my couch."  I didn't even notice what the page was advertising.  I took a picture of it with my phone and started planning dimensions. 

Weeks later I was looking at Diary of a Quilter at this post about the new book coming out, and it had the same exact picture of the same pillow!  I hadn't even known it was in a book, but now that I think of it, anything pictured in a magazine is going to have the pattern available somewhere, or else it wouldn't be in the magazine.  If you want to make a pillow like this, you can buy the book here.  I made mine with satin-backed shantung and I LOVE it.  Mine is 16", I don't know how big the one in the book is.  I'm glad I've finally finished it.

I think it does look great on my couch. =)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Work In Progress Wednesday, Superhero Style

I've been really busy on a client project this week but managed to make a little progress on the superhero baby quilt.  Okay, my husband made progress on it while I was working on my client project, but I was in the same room and offered suggestions.  He cut out the freezer paper for pressing under the edges of the appliques, and cut out some windows for the daytime buildings.  Now maybe I can teach him how to use monofilament to actually do the applique...

Here's the daytime half, with appliques pinned roughly in place.  The Daily Planet is finally in this edition as well, although it looks more like a blob right now.

Here's Thor, ready to fight some bad guys.  Too bad the fabric doesn't look more like Chris Hemsworth... =)
My bargello is still on the back burner, but I've finally decided on fabric for my EZ Dresden post June 12th.  I ordered some Joel Dewberry Heirloom in Sapphire from an etsy shop, and I hope it gets here really soon!  It's a good thing I've got one of the later dates in the hop so I can be ready.  The blog hop starts FRIDAY at and there will be PRIZES!  Be sure to check it out.  I'll be sharing more details on Friday too.

Head over to Freshly Pieced for Work in Progress Wednesday!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quilter's Block

I'm going to be doing a special tutorial for a blog hop on June 12th as part of a kick-off for the SEW EZ Dresden Challenge!  I was there when it happened, but I'm still pretty stunned that I have been given the opportunity to participate in this. The blog hop will be June 1st-15th, and I'll post more information about it soon.  Many new people will be visiting the blog and seeing my tutorial, and I want it to be just right.  I have an idea up my sleeve that looks pretty fabulous in my head, but my biggest problem is FABRIC!!!  I can't decide what to use!  Too bad the idea in my head doesn't have a specific color scheme.  I want something really fresh and modern looking, but also that I personally love.  I spent almost two hours today at a local quilt shop and couldn't make up my mind.  My sweet husband kept making suggestions, and was shot down every time.  Poor guy.  I did a smaller version of it with the leftovers from my bargello, but without the purple.  I loved it, but it needs more color. 

I'm really leaning toward Joel Dewberry's Heirloom line in the Sapphire colorway.  See it here.  I LOVE these colors, and his designs are fabulous.  If the shop I had been at today carried that line it would have been an easy decision.  I also just found out that the mother of one of my best friends teaches piano to his kids.  Small world, huh?

I really need to make up my mind QUICK so I can get started on this project and have it done by June 12th. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(Too many) Works in Progress

I have a lot going right now.  Four projects going, three of which need to be done by June 1st if not sooner,  another which is HUGE and needs to be done by about June 20th, and another that I haven't started yet but I have until June 12th.  Stress much?  Yes, sometimes.  My huge project is for a client who has asked me not to blog about it in detail, so I'll just say it's going to keep me very busy. 

So here's what I've currently got going.
My Bargello top is done!  It ended up skinnier than I wanted it, so I added another row to each side, then some borders.  The binding will be the purple.  I LOVE it.  My problem is that I have next to no idea how I want to quilt it.  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!  My husband thinks I should do something that looks like a sine wave.  I really want to have this done by June 1st for the Blogger's Quilt Festival. 
*Edit:  I just looked again at Amy's Creative Side and realized that entries for the festival ended last night at midnight.  So I guess 1) I won't be entering this quilt and 2) I don't have to finish it by June 1st.  I guess it's going back on the back burner.  I was excited to get it done.  I'm not sure why I thought I had that long.  Too bad.  I guess I'll have to plan ahead for next time.

The Superhero Quilt has been sitting for a while, and we just found out that this baby is coming sooner than expected, maybe even this week.  We found several fabrics with superheroes on them and cut them out.  This week I traced around each one onto freezer paper to help me turn the edges for applique.  I don't have a light box, but I have sliding glass doors in my kitchen, and it worked great.  My husband is going to cut out the freezer paper for me, so I'll get to actually sewing these on sometime after he does that, but he'd better hurry!
 My last WiP this week is a new project, but needs to be done my June 1st as well.  I'm making a pillow inspired by one in Make it Sew Modern.  I'm using poly satin-backed shantung (say that five times fast).  I've been using so much cotton lately that I forgot how SLIPPERY this stuff is!  It is going to look great on my couch.  More on this later.
I really hope I can get all this done and maintain my sanity.

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

Monday, May 21, 2012

Airplane Baby Quilt

Nicole and her mom made this quilt.  Nicole's brother is a pilot, and he and his wife are expecting a boy, so they chose this pattern, available here.  They decided to provide their own batting.  I'm not sure what kind of batting it was, but it was a low loft.  They wanted it to still be puffy so we put three layers of batting in this quilt.  It was definitely puffy!  I had to be careful not to quilt it too close together to avoid making it stiff.
 I machine quilted little swags on the wings of the planes.
 I also did little freehand airplanes.  I put two of these in each of the patchwork blocks.
 I put stars and and loops in the border.
 I did meandering loops in the rest of the quilt, around all of the appliqued airplanes and between the quilted airplanes.  I also did the binding for them.
 Here's my three-year old trying to hold up the quilt for a picture.  Her arms are stretched as high as they go!  It didn't work out so well, but I'm glad she was willing to try!  My husband did a much better job.
  They came to pick it up on Saturday and they loved it.  I think it turned out really well!  It was fun to quilt this.  I had seen a picture of the pattern a few weeks ago, so when she showed me the quilt, I was excited to get to quilt this particular pattern.  This is also the first quilt that Nicole and her mom ever made, and they did a very good job!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tutorial: How to press your binding in half really fast

When you make a traditional double-fold binding it takes a while to fold your binding in half and press it.  It takes a really long time if your quilt is very large.   Enter shortcut.  I'd seen a version of this before, and used it a few times, but at HMQS last weekend Suzanne Michelle Hyland demonstrated this easy technique, improved over the one I knew, and I doubt I will ever go back.

Materials needed: ironing board and iron, cross-grain binding strips (sorry, this won't work with bias binding), and three LONG pins, such as corsage pins.  If you have joined your binding strips on the bias to reduce bulk, be sure to trim off your dog ears left behind at the seams before continuing.

I've had these corsage pins since high school--I'm glad I could find them.  Apparently I got them for 40% off. =)
 The first step is to fold and press the first 10 or so inches of your binding the old-fashioned way.
Next take a corsage pin, poke it through your ironing board cover and back out, over the end of your binding, and back into the cover on the other side.  You want a snug fit, but don't actually go through your binding.
 Next leave a space about 6" wide and do this again twice.  I'm right handed so I did the two pins to the right.  For you southpaws out there, it would probably be easier to do it the other way. Having two pins on the right side helps add stability, but it would probably work if you only had one.
 This is the fun part.  Lay your iron on your binding between the pins.  Using your left hand, pull the binding through under the iron.
 Use your right hand to help feed the strip through evenly.  You will use both hands at the same time, I couldn't do that and take pictures.  This is why you need to trim off your dog ears--they would get caught going through the pins.
 If you are doing a very long binding, it seems like a good idea to pause every little while and lift up your iron so your board doesn't get too hot.  We don't want any fires here.  My iron has an automatic shutoff if it is left in the down position for more than 10 or 15 seconds, so I used that as my cue to take a quick pause.  Lifting the iron also reset the safety feature and turned it back on.
 And there you have it!  You can fold and press your entire binding in a matter of just a few minutes.  Remember, this only works for cross-grain binding.  This method would stretch bias binding out of shape.

Now here's another tip I recently learned.  I used to just leave my binding in a pile next to me and sew it on.  It was constantly getting tangled around itself and I'd have to pause and straighten it out.  Rolling it this way will keep it neat and organized, and it will also unroll evenly without even twisting!  It is also a convenient way to store your binding if you aren't going to use it right away.

First, hold the end of your binding in the crook of your thumb and forefinger, as shown, leaving a small tail.
 Wind your binding around your finger, then over the center again, making a loop.
 Next wind it around your thumb and back over the center again.  Make sure that the same side of your strip stays down the whole time.  If it twists, it will twist when you unroll it.
 Keep winding around your finger and thumb until all of it is wound up.  Remove it from your hand and turn over.  The tail sticking out from inside is what you will start with.  As you sew it onto your quilt it will come out easily and evenly.  I did mine pretty loosely, and then put the binding bundle in my lap.  As I was sewing it on I almost forgot about where the binding was coming from, it was so easy.
I hope these were helpful ideas!  They sure make binding easier for me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Amber's Quilt (Finally!)

I had a few technical difficulties with my equipment upgrades before I got started on Amber's quilt, so it got delayed by a few days several times.  It feels so good to finally have this finished!

Amber made this quilt using her husband's uniforms from Afghanistan.  She added a few other fabrics to make it large enough.  I love the idea of doing this--what a special keepsake!  I'm grateful to her husband and all of our armed forces who are serving to keep us safe in our country, and I'm happy for all the ones that come home safe.  My brother-in-law just went back yesterday after 2 weeks of R&R, so we're all thinking about him right now too.

Amber found a sheet to use on the back that was just the right color.  It was a little shiny but it matched really well.  I've heard that sometimes sheets can cause problems with the quilting, but it worked great in this case.  She wanted it machine quilted with stars and after I made a few suggestions, she decided on this stars and loops pattern.  There were a few spots that were really thick, such as pocket flaps with velcro, that were too thick to quilt through so I just had to go around them.  Luckily the Winline Batting I used can be quilted as far apart as 10 inches and still won't bunch or beard.  Even where I did go around pockets the quilting is still much less than 10 inches apart.
 I think it turned out really well!  I hope her family loves it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Some Mother's Day Love

My husband gave me my favorite thing for Mother's Day--fabric.
He gave me the Kona Classic, Brights, and Darks charm packs from Fat Quarter Shop.  I've got a color wheel project brewing, so these will be perfect.  Too bad it is going to be a while until I get to do that project.

These are actually the first charm packs I've owned.  Kind of funny.

On the docket today: finish binding Amber's quilt, photo shoot, and ship it off to her, then maybe if I'm lucky squeeze in finishing another quick project that I'll post about when it is done.  There are a few more things on the back burner for a couple of days too....  Too much on my to-do list right now.

Monday, May 14, 2012

HMQS Classes and Long Arm Research

Saturday at HMQS I took three classes, from 8:00 until 3:30 with only a half hour break.  It was crazy busy, but so fun! 

My first class was from Sue Patten about freehand free motion.  She was vibrant and dynamic, and very inspiring.  She had excellent handouts and talked a lot about training your muscle memory so you really own specific designs.  Once you own those, you can change them to fit what you need without learning a whole new design.  It's all about making your skills work in various ways.

My second class was from Mindy Wylie and was about custom quilting.  I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, and it was all about using templates, tools, and rulers to accomplish specific patterns.  I can see that this is going to be really fun and useful information.  The hopping foot on my machine right now is not the right shape to use templates and rulers, so I'm going to have to check if such a thing is available for my machine, but it will definitely be fun to do (with gorgeous results) when I do get my longarm, if not before then. 

My third class was from Suzanne Michelle Hyland and was called "Sew Fast, Sew Precise Machine Binding."  It was a great class and she taught us a very useful method for binding that is very precise.  This was a hands-on class and we were supposed to bring a mini quilt to practice the method on.  I haven't finished my bargello yet, so I took the sampler I made at my first day of HMQS in Linda Taylor's class and bound that.  The method is almost exactly the same as what I am currently doing, but it adds the step of using a couching foot and water soluble thread to zig-zag a strand of cotton yard to the center of the binding strip before you fold it in half, then when you topstitch in the ditch from the front using a stitch-in-the-ditch presser foot, a metal guide going through the center of the foot pushes the yarn to the side and you stitch in the right place every time.  Then when you wash the quilt the water soluble thread dissolves and goes away!  The yarn stays there, but isn't really noticeable and is very soft.  This method does take longer than standard binding, but is consistently accurate.  It doesn't take nearly as long as hand-stitching binding, but takes longer than standard machine stitched binding, so I don't think I'll use it very often.  I think I will use it when I want my  binding super accurate but don't want to take the time to hand-stitch.  I feel like I'm getting very good results with the method I'm currently using, so I don't think it's worth the time and cost in extra materials to do it this way every time.  I will be using at least one of her tips, and possibly two.  She recommended using monofilament thread on the top of the quilt for topstitching in the ditch, and it is almost invisible!  I love that.  she also recommended using the water soluble thread to make tailor's tacks on the corners to hold the binding corners in place much more accurately than pins while you are sewing around.  This worked really well. 

Here's my finished binding:
You can see the tailor's tacks and the zig-zagging.  I actually decided to use regular thread for the zig-zag on this one and save the water soluble thread for another project in the future.  I LOVE how invisible the stitching is from the front, and it is so even and accurate from the back.  It was an interesting method to learn.

Backing up a day, I spend Friday going through the vendor booths and looking at some of the beautiful quilts.  One of my good friends came with me and we had a good time!  I have done a lot of research online about different longarm manufacturers, and I got to test drive five different brands at the show.  Two of them I immediately crossed off my list because the stitches didn't look the same length even with a stitch regulator.  With the other three, I changed my mind with every machine I tried!  They were all great in different ways, but I'm pretty sure that I have decided on APQS.  The machine handles so smoothly and is really easy to manage, and has gorgeous stitches.  I'm probably going to get the Lucey model, which has fewer bells and whistles but all the features I need and want, and still has a 26" throat space.  It is also very comparable in price, even less expensive than similar sized models in other brands.  I also like that the APQS is designed to be easy to service and maintain yourself.  I've been very impressed with what I've seen online too.  I was able to run back in quickly on Saturday after my classes were over and before the show closed to do a quick comparison again of how my top two choices felt while using them, and APQS is it.  What a wonderful machine.

Now I only wish I could get one right away!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

HMQS Day 1 and Free Quilting Service!

I took a freehand long arm class yesterday at HMQS from Linda Taylor.  She was WONDERFUL!  What a great teacher, and what a great quilter.  She made the class really fun. 

I was so excited to get into this hands-on class.  I haven't spent much time using an actual long arm before, so this was a great way to do some serious test-driving of at least one model.  I've decided that I like Gammills a lot.  They have some fantastic features that so far I haven't seen in other models.  I've also decided that an 18 inch throat is NOT ENOUGH ROOM!  It's funny because I'm currently using a machine with a nine inch throat.  When I'm quilting at home I have the mindset that I don't have a lot of space, and that's okay.  When I was using the long arm I thought I had tons of space... but I didn't really.  I will definitely be buying a machine with at least 26" of throat space, if not 30".  I still have more research to do, which I will get to do tomorrow when I go back to HMQS.  I'm especially interested in trying out APQS and Innova long arms.

So more about my class.  This is what we ended up with:
 I'm amazing, aren't I?  Ha!  Okay, I'm working on it, but I didn't do this whole thing.  The border was all stitched out already when we got there, as well as the straight lines separating the areas.
 There were 18 of us in the class, with two machines on each of five frames, so we had 4 people on each frame and took turns working on our own project.  We sat as Linda demonstrated different techniques (drawing them), practiced drawing our own a few times, then went to sew them.  Then we sat down and learned a few new techniques and went and sewed those. 
 It was so much fun!  I was so excited to go that I just had butterflies all over.
 I learned several new techniques that will really improve my quilting and increase my repertoire.  I really need to practice these before I put them on anyone else's quilts.  (Did you see that ugly feathered medallion?  There was a reason I didn't take a close-up of it.)   I promise I will practice, practice, practice. 
 The backs of our quilts were white.  You can barely see the difference in the shade of the bobbin thread on the border that was stitched with a computerized machine compared to what I did in class.
This class was great.  It was great to get hands-on time on a long-arm and get comfortable with it.  The only down-side that I can think of is that now I really don't want to wait to get my long arm, but I have to.  It will be at least 6 more months.  I'm glad I can still work on my skills with what I currently have.

So speaking of practice, I've decided to offer FREE QUILTING, for a limited time, to anyone making a quilt to  be donated to a humanitarian cause.  I will provide batting and thread, but binding is not included.  I also can't promise quick turnaround time on this offer, but I will do my best.  Let me know if you are interested!

Coming soon--pictures of Amber's quilt!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

HMQS this weekend

I've been MIA lately.  It's been my goal to post every day or every other day, especially because I'm so new at this and don't have much content yet.  I'll get some stuff up again soon, maybe later today, but definitely tomorrow.

I finally got my new carriage in the mail (long story short--first one didn't fit on my frame and I had to get a new one) and I've got everything set up and ready to go.  I've got a quilt loaded and ready to quilt later today.

HMQS (the Home Machine Quilting Show) is in Salt Lake starting today through Saturday.  I'm taking some classes on Saturday, but wasn't able to get into any hands-on classes. I was pretty bummed about that.  Well, I got a phone call last night saying that a hands-on class I'd put myself on the waiting list for had an opening, and it is this morning! So I'm on my way to SLC in a few minutes.  I hope I learn some good tips and tricks to improve my skills.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Humanitarian Sewing

Last night the ladies in my church got together to do some humanitarian projects.  One of the main things was to sew large bibs to give to a local care center for the people there to use.  We were able to get 19 done and quite a few more in progress, which is a pretty good start.  I took Darryl with me (my new brother) and was doing some seriously fast sewing.  It was fun.  I'm glad we were able to accomplish as much as we did.
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