Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pin Weaving Mini-Tutorial

If you're looking for my Sewvivor Round 2 Post, please click here or scroll down, it's the next post. Remember to vote before midnight, eastern time on Wednesday!

I wanted to share how I did the pin weaving on the top of my bag. It's a simple technique with beautiful results! I didn't take a ton of pictures while I was doing it, thinking I'd be able to find a tutorial that someone else had made and just link to that. Wrong. The other methods I found were REALLY cool, but quite different than what I did. So here's the very basics of how to pin weave with fabric strips.

First you need a foam board. Mine measures 11" x 14", and can produce a piece of woven fabric up to about 8.5" x 11.5". Mark the board with a 1" grid. Please note that the edges of your fabric may not be all usable, so plan on a piece a couple of inches larger than you will need.

Place strong pins (T-pins are great, I don't have any) pointing in towards the center at about a 45 degree angle every half inch across the short ends of the foam board. I found it useful to put an extra pin 1/4" on the outside of each row to help keep the edges under control.

Next you will need two skeins of embroidery floss. I used three because I couldn't decide on two colors. They can be the same color or different colors, but I like different colors in mine. Tie the ends of the skeins together and loop the knot around one of the corner pins. Next, TIGHTLY wind the floss across the board as shown, moving around two pins at each end so that the rows of floss are 1/2 apart (1/4" on the sides). When you get to the end tie a knot to secure the end as best you can. Remember you want it TIGHT. If you use a larger foam board you may need more embroidery floss.
Cut 1" strips of fabric that you want to weave with. Mine were 1/4 of a width of fabric and were just about perfect. You want them to be 1-2" longer than the width of your foam board. You will need approximately 3 strips for every inch that you will fill. Start by weaving a strip of fabric over, under, over, under, etc. until you get to the other side. Then fold the strip into thirds. If you kind of wiggle the strip back and forth while folding from the ends it kind of folds on itself. The above photo shows a strip that has been folded once. Make sure that the raw edges of the strips are on the top. Continue weaving strips through, alternating over-under to under-over with each strip. Slide the folded strips close together and continue adding strips until you reach the desired size or can't fit any more on your board.
 Cut a piece of fusible interfacing about the size of your woven area and fuse it on according to manufacturers directions. I used a black knit interfacing, but any lightweight fusible will do.
After applying the interfacing you can remove the pins and turn over your creation!
This does need to be quilted to add stability. You can do freemotion or carefully use a walking foot. If you're worried about catching anything while quilting you can sandwich it between water-soluble stabilizer and wash it off afterward.

As I said I wasn't planning to make a tutorial of my own when I started this. If there are any steps that need additional photos, PLEASE let me know in the comments and I'll do what I can to make it more user-friendly.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sewvivor Round 2: The Graffiti Tote

I am happy to say that I BARELY squeaked through round 1 of Sewvivor and now it's on to round 2! Our instructions were to make a quilted bag. I needed a new purse anyway so I was excited from the start to make something that I would really love. I'd say that I succeeded!

When I first started designing this bag I decided I wanted a big area of negative space just for quilting however I wanted. Recently I became acquainted with the amazingly talented Karlee Porter and her Graffiti Quilting style, and I wanted to include my take on that in my bag. That vision ultimately became what I'm calling "The Graffiti Tote." I had so much fun quilting many different designs on each side. I'm still not a natural doodler, so I had my laptop open with several different pages of inspiration pulled up while I was quilting, so I could pause and think about what do do next. I had hoped to go take some photos in front of some amazing graffiti but just did not have time to work that into my family's schedule. I've decided that close-up photos are probably best for this one anyway.

One of my favorite motifs to quilt right now is one that I'm calling "Twisting Triangles." I happened across this YouTube video a few months ago, (which has cool doodling, but is kind of odd) and wondered if I could turn it into a quilting design. Yep, it totally works! It's slow but SOOOOOOO worth it. I use a straight ruler with my longarm, but it could be done with a walking foot on a domestic machine if you don't mind turning your quilt a lot.
The effect of this design is best when you're using it to fill a hexagon or larger space. When you alternate the direction that you "twist" with each triangle, it makes a tessellating fan shape. I love it. I had originally planned on putting two different sized hexagons on each side of the bag, but there were so many other designs I wanted to try that I didn't have room. So I just did one.

I used Kona White on the back. The quilting shows up so well.

Here's the hexagon motif on the outside. I just love this quilting design!

This is technically the back of the tote, but both sides look nearly identical other than the quilting and I love them both. I've decided that graffiti quilting is super fun to do.

Here's a view of the back of the back. I loved including so many different design elements!

I loved this little area in the middle of this photo.

 And this one. I'm just so pleased with how this turned out. I used Soft and Stable instead of batting, and it not only adds excellent structure to the bag, but makes the quilting have a nice sturdy puff that batting just doesn't do. It worked so well.

Even though I wanted a lot of negative space I definitely wanted to include some piecing. I decided to frame the quilted area on the top and bottom with paper-pieced equilateral triangles, which I referred to as "waddling puffins" for a working title because they are squattier than flying geese. And puffins are cute.

I asked my sister (who is better with computers than I am) if she could make up a pattern for me and this is what she came up with. She's not a quilter so it is missing a couple of lines that would be helpful and doesn't have lines for outer seam allowances, but if you have done paper piecing before it's not really a problem. If you'd like to download the above picture and use it for your own paper piecing, go right ahead! I used 14 triangles across each edge of my tote. I used newsprint this time and I loved it. It came off SO easily.

I used my favorite prints from Emily Herrick's Rustique line and I love the saturation of the colors! I stitched in the ditch around the triangles, which was just enough quilting in relation to the heavy quilting in the center panels.
I decided to try leather handles for this because they are so sturdy and won't wear out quickly like fabric handles often do, and the leather just seems to go with the general feel of Rustique. I purchased a piece of leather meant for making a belt at my local Tandy Leather, as well as some screw-in rivet things. I'm sure they have a real name but I don't remember it. I was nervous about cutting the leather and putting the handles on but it was actually really easy to do. I used a box cutter, a ruler, and my older cutting mat and couldn't be happier with the results. I'm sure I will use leather handles often on bags that I make in the future--possibly even the same ones because they may last longer than the bag itself!

 A few months ago I learned a fun technique called pin weaving and I really wanted to include something made this way in my finished tote. It involves embroidery floss and 1" strips of fabric and is really easy to do. I decided that a flap to close the top of my bag would be the perfect place to include some pin weaving. This is one of my favorite elements of the whole bag! I'll be writing up a tutorial on it soon because the ones I found online were uber-complicated and quite different from this method. *update: see a tutorial here!

I made the flap and attached the snap before quilting it. I don't do well with free-motion on my domestic machine, so I used water-soluble stabilizer to mount the flap on my longarm and did an allover swirl pattern to stabilize the weaving. It was really easy to rinse off and then the flap dried overnight and part of the next day.

After quilting I trimmed the raw edge off of the flap, put a binding on that edge, and sewed it onto the inside of the bag, topstitching from the outside so I could hide my stitches in the ditch.

Last time I used a magnetic snap half of it eventually ripped through the lining of my purse. I was not happy with that, and didn't want it to happen again. This time I stabilized the lining with two pieces of fusible interfacing and a small batting scrap. I think it should hold pretty well.

I wanted the inside of the bag to be really user-friendly and I decided that making specialized pockets was the way to go. On this side I included a cell phone pocket and water bottle pocket, sized to fit my phone and my favorite water bottle, and a pen pocket. I didn't use a pattern for any of these but they were quite easy to make. I also stitched in the ditch from the other side below the snap to prevent it from pulling up and out of the bag.

The other side has two zippered pockets, one of which is waterproof for holding things like lotion and hand sanitizer that could possibly explode and make a mess. The fact that the waterproof PUL I used is bright pink is just a bonus!

I also included a fob to attach my keys to so they will no longer get lost in the abyss.

When making the bottom of the bag I first quilted the piece for the bottom, trimmed it up, and made a little pocket with another piece of Kona white and slid a piece of plastic canvas in. Nice and sturdy, yet washable!  Although, to be fair, I'll have to remove my leather handles if I do need to wash this purse. Good thing my fasteners are the screw-on kind.

 I also attached purse feet before sewing the bottom on.

To get the side panels to fold around the corners of the bottom piece, I did a stabilizing stitch and clipped up to it. A combination of pins and wonder clips worked really well to hold everything in place.

I like the feet on the bottom. I hadn't used them before, but I think I likely will again.

The finished bag measures 4" by 12.5" on the bottom and it is 10.5" tall. This has been a really fun challenge for me and I now have what may be my favorite purse that I will ever own. I really love it that much. If you haven't already, please go visit the main Sewvivor Round 2 Post and vote for your favorite entries! I would appreciate your vote very much!

Linking up to LAFF.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sewvivor Challenge #1: Nautical--The Mermaid Dress

So do you remember how I was entering the "Sewvivor" competition? Well, I am thrilled to say that I was accepted as one of the 16 contestants! What an honor! I've been following all of the sneak peeks on Instagram, and let's just say I have been anxiously waiting for this day to come to actually see what everyone has made. They all look amazing.

Did I mention I'm finally on Instagram now? You can follow me @thequiltingmill if you'd like to. I'm not the best blogger, but I've already decided that sharing quick things on Instagram is the way to go.

For those of you following Sewvivor you know that the first challenge had to be anything quilted that is nautically inspired. Traditional "nautical" really isn't my thing. At all. Like, so much that I almost didn't try out for the competition. Luckily I quickly got an idea for something outside the box for this challenge. Way outside. My 5-year-old daughter has been pretending to be a mermaid all summer and wanted a mermaid tail to dress up in. She even made instructions for me how to make one.
First step: cut out the front and back of the tail. Second: cut triangles for the fins. Third: I think that's a picture of thread, but I'm not totally sure. Fourth, sew the fins onto the tail. Sounds simple enough, right?

 She jumped up and down with excitement when I told her I would finally make one for her. I decided to make a whole costume rather than just a tail, because what would she wear with it? Nothing I could think of would be cute. So I give you, the Mermaid Dress!

I have to say that an extra-special thanks goes out to my sweet friend Danielle for most of the photography! Taking great pictures is not my strong point and I really appreciate her help. Now, more about this mermaid!

After picking out fabric with my munchkin (of course all pink), I got started quilting some satin for the main part of the tail. I marked horizontal lines using my channel lock and a blue marker, and some reference points across the top line, and then quilted in the scales for the tail. I used Winline 80/20 batting and Kona White on the back.

I thought this view from under the longarm was just cool.

Although her instructions were pretty great, I used the somewhat hideous McCall's 5498 as a jumping off point. I made a few alterations including different sleeves, changing the tail length and shape, and overhauling the fins. I cut the tail portions out of the quilted fabric that I created. I am really pleased with how everything turned out, and my munchkin sure loves it! She chose a tulle with a concentric circle pattern made with glitter for the "shiny parts," and glitter is now all over my house. Everywhere. I've found it in some, um, *interesting* places, and I'm sure we'll continue to until long after she outgrows this costume.

In addition to the tail I also quilted veins into the fins, stabilizing the tulle with several layers of organza to maintain at least a little translucency. I loaded the layers on my longarm all at once, traced the outlines of my fin pattern, then quilted in the veins. I cut them out after they were quilted.

I LOVE how the tail and fins turned out. The fins on the original pattern were in serious need of help, and I'm much happier with this version.

The morning of our photo shoot I told my munchkin that I was going to try to do something special with her hair. My creative girl asked if she could draw some pictures of mermaid hairstyles so I would know how to do it right. I just love this picture that she drew. It was too cute not to share. She tells me that the largest one close to the middle has a big beard. Unfortunately I was reminded that I'm terrible at doing hair and was unable to create what I had envisioned, or any of her drawings for that matter. She still looked cute and had a lot of fun being a mermaid.

I had so much fun working on this challenge! It was great to have an excuse to take the time to make something special for my daughter that I may not have otherwise. I have one very happy girl! And yes, she can walk in it.

And now some photo overload. In some of these she's making odd faces, or her Tinkerbell and friends temporary tattoo is especially visible, but there are some more views of details that don't show as well in the other photos.

And, just because, here's a picture of little brother throwing a rock in the water, and I actually took it at just the right moment to get the rock in the frame. I'm probably more proud of this than I should be.

If you haven't yet, please go check out the main post for challenge #1  and vote for your FIVE favorite entries. If one of them happens to be a quilted mermaid dress, that would be fine with me! Thanks so much for reading! I hope to see you in round two, because I've got some great ideas!
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