26 February 2011

It's been a somewhat busy week here, surrounded by scraps. At least in the relative term. I was dragging my heels finishing up the binding on this fun set of placemats using fabrics from Farmdale by Alexander Henry.

But the work paid off... the placemats sold through my Etsy shop within 36 hours of the posting! Somewhat gratifying as I am slowly getting that venue back up and running.

Also, as of today, I finished quilting my submission for the current Project Modern Challenge 2. Unfortunately I have to hold off on any photos until after the judging, but let's just say I am glad to be through with the quilting, though it is far from completion. The binding is going to be its own challenge! At least I have one month to work on that, including my 5 day excursion to the midwest in about 2 weeks!

One of my more pressing projects for the last couple of weeks is this baby quilt, put together with the new son of one of my closest college friends in mind. Granted, I haven't seen her in several years, now living on the opposite side of the continent from one another, and never having met her husband (though hearing about him many years ago, the last time we met up), but for some reason I was compelled to make this quilt.

I also reached out and made some new blocks related to the Seams Perfect Bee on Flickr. I will post more about those in an upcoming post.

18 February 2011

Message in a bag

Several years ago I picked up a great looking book, Quilted Bags and Totes, by Denise Clason. This book is filled with a wide variety of interesting, attractive bags, but the one I kept eyeing and was intent on {eventually} making is her messenger bag.

But there are all these zippers, clips, pockets, attachments... you get the point. Have I mentioned that I'm a lazy stitcher? The fewer steps involved, the happier I generally am. Plus, I have to admit, I kind of forgot about the book until I rearranged my sewing room, as mentioned previously.

Anyhoo... I've been working on putting together some cool items for my {Urban} HOME goods swap partner.

The market bags here were easy enough. In fact, I had fun making them and was glad to be reminded how EASY and QUICKLY they go once you just get down to it. So, I figured these both could be considered the "second," peripheral gifty. But what to do for the main object?? My swap partner has not been the most interactive with feedback and inspiration, which is fine, but does make the selection of a fitting craft item that will be enjoyed a little more difficult. So, I took verbatim one of the things she had suggested in her initial form entered at the beginning of the swap - a messenger bag. But can I ever do things the easy way? Use a pattern someone else has already labored over and figured out? Follow instructions?? NOOOOO. I have to WING it, go all intuitive and make things up as I go.
Now, I will say that I am happy with the outcome, short of a couple of minor points (I think it ended up a smidge too big/wide, and the one layer of batting between the lining and outside twill is not sufficiently form-stabilizing). However, this was not a short process. I went to town on the pockets in the lining (though I think I might have put the separate sized pockets on the wrong sides of the bag, once I tried it on for size... hope my partner can get used to it!) But there are pockets to fit a composition notebook, an eyeglass case (or pair of sunglasses without the case), 3 pen/pencil holders, a smaller pocket for wallet or such and the bag itself is of ample size to fit a laptop computer and a couple of other books - let's just hope it's sturdy enough for all of that!

And after some mental gymnastics, I recalled how to connect the 3-dimensional lining to the 3-dimensional outer casing, flip it all around and THEN actually had to worry about those pesky attachments for the strap (as you may notice, I did decide to skip any zippers or clips - ooops). But, in the end I do in fact have a bag that seems to wear well (if a bit floppy) and I hope that my secret swap partner enjoys!

And another package is ready to get together to take to the post office, most likely this coming Monday. Whew!

17 February 2011

PMQG meeting

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this. My first couple of visits with the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, early last year, I felt rather intimidated by the whole experience. I gave it a couple of shots, but can't say I was too disappointed to stop making the meetings because of my work schedule at the time. However, part of this whole new leaf in the new year, and making a real effort at building a niche in this field included (for me), a second try with the PMQG. And so far, I am very glad I have.

As of January 2011 (perhaps a bit earlier) there are new officers, a new organization to the organization, and what seems to me to be a much more cohesive and productive agenda. And on top of that, perhaps I am just warming up to the faces, finally - in my introverted way. Whatever the combination, I think it's working.

Tonight's swap was a "mug rug" or "snack mat" swap. Those of us who chose to participate made one of these mini-quilts, perfect for enjoying a muffin with a cup of coffee. I had fun using some Amy Butler, Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably FQs I had as extras from the Fig Tree Quilts Summertime Stars pattern I started working on ages ago.

So, this is what I came up with. I hope that Cherri enjoys! And I was the lucky recipient of this beautiful hexie mat from Paula!

I already know I won't be able to be at the next meeting, but presumably at April's meeting I'll be able to do show-and-tell finally, with the quilt I'm doing for the Project Modern Challenge this time around... something to work toward, of course!

My space

It's too bad I don't have any before pictures prepared... but here is the evolution of my sewing space this past week or so:

That large, blank space with the peeling peach paint became my primary work space for about 4 days (I can't tell you what it takes out of a person to be on hands, knees or butt on a cold cement floor for hours at a time. Then add to that discomfort the fact that my overhead lighting burnt out while working on this fabulous queen sized quarter log cabin quilt that I am basting for hand-quilting! Daytime only until the electrician came...)

Now, I've rearranged the room to hopefully offer a slightly more intimate work space, as well as allowing me to get work done without looking directly out the little window which offers a brilliant view of my neighbors' driveway and entrance. Any time there was activity at their house I felt terribly voyeuristic.

I'm definitely feeling this will be a good set-up for me. And you are getting a peek at some of my upcoming projects. There MIGHT even be a tute in one or two of the bits currently in progress, who knows!

11 February 2011

ongoing project

Yesterday I took apart my sewing room (slightly) to clear floor space for quilt basting. Moved the ironing board and *NEW* iron, one tower of shelves with fabric, detached the 2 sides of my sewing table from one another, and got out the broom and mop. I got 2 quilts pin-basted yesterday, and today will be attacking the queen sized log cabin with a needle and thread, getting it ready for the hand-quilting frame. Fun photos to follow.

So, not having too much of interest I can update here, thought I would just load a photo of that quilt top based on the Philip Jacobs fabric I was searching for last month...

07 February 2011

Bees and Swaps (wasps come in a few months)

For the last week or so I've been busy busy busy working on blocks and projects for a couple of bees and swaps on Flickr.
The first bee that I've gotten involved with is the Seams Perfect - a Modern Scrap Bee with a group of 11 other ladies. This month was Liberty's month to choose the project, and she went with a Mod Mosaic block, designed by Elizabeth Hartman, a.k.a. Oh, Fransson!.

This was my first time experimenting with this technique, though I've been seeing it around the Flickerverse, as my SO refers to it. I love the chance to use up these tiny little scraps, do some totally intuitive, improvised piecing and have it come out so effectively! However it was definitely more labor intensive than I had thought it would be, but completely worth it! Thanks, Liberty for the excuse to give this a shot (and for choosing my colors so well!!)

Next, I put in a while back to be on the wait list for one of the more popular sewing swaps for modern quilters on Flickr, the Urban Home Goods Swap. I'm using it as an exercise in trying something I might not otherwise do, and choosing a style based on someone else's tastes as opposed to my own. Hopefully I'm on mark with this one...

Still have a couple more things to add to it, but making some headway...

And last, but certainly not least, I had just the right timing in discovering this charity quilting bee, do. Good Stitches. From what I can gather, they now have at least 4 different quilting circles going, each one making blocks every month to be finished as a quilt for charitable donation. I am now part of the "Bliss" circle, and happy to get the chance to be involved!

So, I need not say that this has pulled me away from some of my personal projects, but at the same time may help keep me balanced - plus I'm enjoying making things for others, and perhaps that will also help me get into the mindset of making things with the intention of selling... hmmm, what a concept!

01 February 2011

QAYG reversible placemat tutorial

I am not sure when I first began making these placemats, but I seem to have found a general layout that appeals to me and comes together rather quickly and effectively with all sorts of different fabric choices. Thought I might share one of the methods I use to make a fun set of Quilt-as-you-go reversible mats.

Total yardage requirements are for a set of 6 placemats, each approx. 13" x 18" finished.

Yardage requirements:
*A - 1/4 (3/8)
B - 1/3 (3/8)
C - 1/4 (3/8)
*D - 1/2 (3/4)
E - 3/4
F - 3/8
Binding - 2/3 yd
* if you use the same fabric for A & D, you will need 3/4 yd total
(yardages in parentheses are for directional fabrics)
You will also need 6 pieces of batting, approximately 14” x 19”, preferably with no polyester content, as you will be ironing over the batting as well.
Thread to match (or artfully contrast) your fabrics.

We'll start by getting all of your fabric pieces cut first. This is generally pretty straight forward, but be aware of any directional fabrics and be sure it is running the direction you would like in that position and where applicable, adjust the cutting instructions to make the 13 1/2” strip first and then subcut by the appropriate widths for that piece.

**Fabric A: Cut 2 strips 4 1/2” x WOF
sub-cut at 13 1/2” for a total of 6 rectangles 4 1/2” x 13 1/2”
Fabric B: Cut 4 strips 2 1/2” x WOF
sub-cut at 13 1/2” for a total of 12 rectangles 2 1/2” x 13 1/2”
Fabric C: Cut 2 strips 2 1/2” x WOF
sub-cut at 13 1/2” for a total of 6 rectangles 2 1/2” x 13 1/2”
**Fabric D: Cut 2 strips 8 1/2” x WOF
sub cut at 13 1/2” for a total of 6 rectangles 8 1/2” x 13 1/2”
Fabric E: Cut 2 strips 13 1/2” x WOF
from each strip cut (3) 4 1/2” x 13 1/2” rectangles and (3) 8 1/2” x 13 1/2” rectangles
Fabric F: From the 3/8 yd, cut 6 rectangles 6 1/2” x 13 1/2”
** In this set I've pictured, I DID choose to use the same fabric for A and D, so instead I cut (2) strips at 13 1/2" and from each strip sub-cut (3) 4 1/2" and (3) 8 1/2" for a total of 6 rectangles of each size.

Start with one of the pieces of batting, take a rectangle A and one of the 4 1/2” wide rectangles E. Layer them on either side of the batting, front of fabric facing out and lining up the edges as best you can.

Have the batting so that fabric E is showing. Take a rectangle F and place it face down, lining up the raw edges on the right side. Pin in place.

Next, turn over the batting, and place a rectangle B face down on A, again lining up the raw edges on the right. Reset your pins to go through all layers.

Carefully stitch with your walking foot, 1/4” from the matching raw edges of the fabrics on top. At this point it is good to check to see if your seam allowance on the back side is approximately 1/4”. Don’t worry if it’s a little bit off, that’s to be expected, just be sure there isn’t too much of a difference.
Take out the pins and press each side open. Try to get your rectangle F to lie flat against the batting, then flip over to work on the other side.

Next, take a rectangle C and place it face down on B, again lining up the right-hand raw edges. Pin in place. Stitch as before, take out pins and press open. Repeat with another rectangle B.

You will notice that on the "back" side of your mat (piece F) the seams from the piecing you have been doing are coming through as quilting stitches, securing the batting and fabrics thus far...

At this point the raw edges of your second strip B and of fabric F on the opposite side should line up. Take a rectangle D and place it face down on the same side you’ve been working from. Pin in place, then turn your project over and place an 8 1/2” wide rectangle E face down over F. Reset pins to go through all layers, stitch and press open.

Voila! I do recommend adding a little more quilting in some of the larger sections without stitching. I will often add just a couple more lines across, either parallel to or perpendicular to the stitching already in place, but you are certainly free to quilt however you like (be it meandering, pictorial, zigzags, echo, etc.)

Repeat for all 6 mats. Square up mats to approx. 13 1/2” x 18 1/2” and bind as you would a small quilt.