Rip As You Go?

Rip As You Go?

Some people like to have  knitting, crochet, or small piecing [hexies] projects handy, so when they find themselves in a situation that requires waiting, they have something productive to do. You’ve seen them in waiting rooms, mall benches, dentist offices, and the like. You may have been one of those people a time or two.

I have a couple of “Quilt As You Go” books, and they suggest that people carry around things to quilt.

I haven’t done any of those things yet, but when I had to have  my hair done last week,  I decided to bring something with me  that I don’t like to do.

A while ago, I found a wood lazy susan for $3 at a thrift shop. Of course I hunted down  a pink cutting mat to match Mustangs case tote, and had the mat cut to fit.  Them I made an awesome bag for it!

TurnTable_Bag.01

but it turns out , I don’t like the flimsy zipper, so I put the bag aside waiting for a better idea. Later I found one I liked, which sealed it’s fate, and mine. This bag has sat waiting for it’s proper zipper for way too long, so I packed it up with a seam ripper.

Yep, I may have just invented “Rip As You Go”

Any tears shed could be blamed on the coloring solution.

#ThingsIhateDoing #TimeSuck #RipAsYougo #HaveSeamRipperWillTravel #WeAllMakeMistakes #DontJudgeMe

Obey the Chocolate!

Obey the Chocolate!

I don’t know if chocolate is a quilter thing, or a ladies thing, but it is my husbands thing, so I try to keep some on hand.

Who knew Dove Chocolate would be an enabler?

A few months ago, I opened this one:

Buy_Frivolous

and of course I obeyed.

When I bought Frivol #8 last sumer, I told myself I wouldn’t get caught up in the “Got to have one of each” thing, but it turns out one can’t live with “Bread ‘n Butter” alone.

12_Frivols02

Why are  these in my office? Because I often find the cordinating fabric collections on sale, and I must buy them. That also explains the Windermere layer cake and the Songbird Gatherings mini charm pack. The Petite Prints Deux charm pack, and the Bread ‘n Butter Jelly Roll are hiding. One day, I will hear “Hello Darling, you must make me today” or “Little Miss Sunshine wants to come out and play” and I will be ready.

and I saved that Dove Chocolate wrapper in case he asks.

 

Minnie To The Max

Minnie   To The Max

Sometimes you just gotta do something relaxing, that doesn’t take much brain power.
This is that quilt.
I like fabric panels, even though I know there will be no lines . . . ahem . . . ditches to follow when I quilt it.

There’s a girl at work who is pregnant. One day, she  told me she would have 2 girls, and I asked if she was having twins. She said no, she had one girl already, and showed me some pictures of her family at a birthday party. The theme was pink Minnie Mouse. Probably a month later, I was drooling over fabric online, when I found some pink Minne Mouse fabric that reminded me of her. I threw  a couple yards in with my order, thinking I may make a baby quilt for my co-worker.
I was only thinking about it because I feared that somone else would want me to make them a quilt, too.

I have many thoughts on “Request sewing” but the bottom line is I don’t care for it. I really have enough to do, and I sew some out of need, and some for fun. The thing is we can’t control many things in life, but I can control what I sew.

peshaw! If you think you can get me to make you a $50 quilt and yes that is my piecedby.me water mark

Then I came across a Minnie panel with some pink in it, and decided I wasn’t going to overthink this, and just make her a darling baby quilt already! I would give it to her quietly, and hope I wouldn’t get any requests.
I ordered the panel, then cut strip pieces that I thought I would make a nice piano key border – something I haven’t done yet. Hey, why not practice on other peoples quilts?

When it came, I saw it was much too big to be the center of a baby quilt. Most panels are 24×44, but this one was 36×44. I hung it up for inspiration, and thought why not the back? That certainly solves two problems. 1 How to make a quilt out of a larger panel, and 2 what to put on the back!

Minnie_Backing

I had already cut 12 – 2 1/2″ strips of each contrasting colors, so I decided to do the whole quilt out of them. Notice the Remnant Quilt  pieces I was taking a “think break” from in the background.

Minnie_Cutting_Blocks

The 2 1/2″ strips were fed through Mustang when my brain needed a break from the remnant quilt process.

Minnie_Strips

I sewed the 2 contrast colors together, then sew those two strip sets together , alternating the colors to make a tube. Like I did for my Dish mat

The 6 resulting tubes of stips should cut to 8 – 6″ blocks each, but I got 9 out of mine. Normally, I’d use all 48 or [54 if you get 9] blocks, but I was limited to the size of the panel. I have some fabric left, so maybe I make another?

Minnie_Rows02

Once I joined the blocks to make a row, I pressed the first row on one direction, and the second row in the other.

Minnie_Rows_Back02

I usually press to the dark, but when I stitched the rows together, they were quite bulky, so I pressed them open, making a note to myself not to stitch in that ditch.

Minnie_Rows_Back_Pressed

I always place a pin in the top row to help keep me from sewing the next row to the top.

Minnie_Pin_Top

I arranged 42 blocks 6 across by 7 down, and quilted in the ditch diagonally in each direction.

Then I stitched around the  square in the center of each block, removing the pins after I completed each square so I wouldn’t miss one.

Minnie_Quilt_In_Square

The back looks kinda good!

Minnie_Quilt_In_Square_Back

Sometimes a contrast binding is called for, especially when the quilt contains large prints. I found some black fabric with white hearts, and used it for the binding.

Minnie_Finished_Binding

Finished!

Minnie_Finished

Yes, I did try to agonise  over thread colors, but went with pink on top and white on the bottom, and now I am happy I did.

Minnie_Finished02

My husband remarked that she may not know which side is the front!

Minnie_Finished03

Just for beginer quilters who use home machines, the quilting was a cinch! Here are my crudely drawn quilting diagrams.

First diagonal lines in one direction

Minnie_Finished_SID_01

Then diagonally in the other direction

Minnie_Finished_SID_02

Then outline the whole design following the V’s  on the edge of the border.

Minnie_Finished_SID_03

Finally, I outlined the little squares formed by the pattern. This was easy to stop with needle down in the corners, and spin the quilt through the throat of my machine to sew the next line in the square.

Minnie_Finished_Stitch_In_Ditch02

Simple, and easy for a domestic sewing machine.

The monday I was going to give the girl this quilt, she was off for maternity leave already, so I gave it to her best friend to give to her. No fan fare was made of it, so I am happy about it.

I think I’m ready to tackle another quilt!

  • which I am already playing hooky from as I write this.

Remnant Quilt – Why We Make Quilts!

Remnant Quilt – Why We Make Quilts!

Other possible titles include:
– How to complicate a simple pinwheel design
– Another quilt = another journey
– Why we buy TONS of fabric

I was at our fellowship Pot luck a couple of weeks ago, and the message was that we are all remnants in Christ.
On the way home, it hit me that I should make Sue a quilt out of remnants. Sue took her Mother in about 8 years ago, and once being very active in the church, began a process of passing the baton to others, as her Mothers needs increased. She is a very giving woman, so I wanted to make something for her.
First, I explored patterns, tried designing my own, then googled some, and looked at books. Ideas swirled in my head, as I went from deciding on one design, then changed my mind several times. Then I saw it. At first it was one of those “I’d like to make that one day” patterns, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. It was called “Staying Focused”
but could I do it all from remnants?
Sue’s favorite colors are blues and purples. Her living room furniture is blue, but I had seen her wear a lovely purple velour jogging suit many times. I know she has a prayer chair, and this would keep her wrapped in love while she converses with Our Father.
I poked around at my stash, mostly built on remnants from garage sales, back when I only dreamed about quilting, and found these delightful squares of fabric, in blue paisley with a bit of pink. They were already cut into 6.5 inch pieces.
Would it be enough?
I drew the block out in EQ7 and placed it in a quilt design. I scanned the focus fabric in, and colored the design. I would need 30 blocks with 4 HST’s of focus fabric in each to make a decent size lap/nap quilt. I counted the pieces, and as I got past 20, I was holding my breath. I exhaled when I got to 30! I had exactly enough! I would have to do the 4 HST at a time method, but it would work.
It was like these pieces were just waiting to tell me what they wanted to be.

Well, 6 1/2″ Blue paisley, you get your wish!

Remnant_Focus

Then I piled up possible complementary colors, and when I thought I had it, I made one block and hung it up on my block board to keep myself focused.

Remnant_Block

I confess to secretly making fun of people who have to rip out stitches when making blocks, because I don’t do it. I toss it and just make a new one.

Ripping Stitches

Oh sure if I miss-sew a completed block to another, I will take it apart, but making the block? Nope.
Well, Our Father has a way of humbling us, and because I had only exactly enough of the focus fabric, I had to rip out many stitches for this first block. For starters, the 6.5 inch pieces resulted in a 4 1/4 inch trimmed half square triangle, not the predicted 4 1/2, and I had to be very careful just to get that.

Remnant_HST_04

Now that I have my first block, and correct measurements, I can cut up all the other pieces.
While cutting, I ran out of the fabric I had chosen for the little crosses, which are actualy plus signs, because I will be turning every other block, to make a secondary design. I love secondary designs! I didn’t want to change the look, so I had to have the same exact shade of blue here.
I think I found it.

Since there will be  two blocks alternating the second color HST’s, I will use the other fabric for the crosses in the second block. Yes, I know one HST is turned wrong, but this is only an audition.

Remnant_Need_More_04

At some point, I decided I don’t like trimming HST’s.

Remnant_Counting_Colors

At yet another point, I decided I don’t like pressing.
and another point had me appriciating all those who do scrappy, because all those tiny pieces could have been bought in yardage, cut to size, sewn in one strip set and sliced and diced into nicely sewn units ready to form a block.

My scrap pile has pieces bigger than the ones I am sewing!

Remnant_Tiny_Pieces_02

At another point, I likend quilting to giving birth. There are elements we don’t like about it, yet we do it anyway, and are happy we did. It also seems to take way longer than we anticipated.
Yet we will do it again, and we will always start with the same enthusiastic anticipation.

A whole weekend of not much progress, but every day after work I pecked away at those pieces.

Remnant_Handy_Sew_Sampler_Cutter
To satisfy my curiosity, I counted them. 15 pieces per block without the sashing is 450 pieces. No wonder it seemed like I was going nowhere.

Remnant_Assembly

They finally begain to take shape, as I placed piece after piece under Mustang’s needle.

Remnant_Assembly_02

I pressed and stacked them.

Remnant_Assembly_03

Remnant_Assembly_05

Every other block was turned to make a secondary pattern.

Remnant_Assembly_04

If you’ve ever fussed over matching seams, how about matching seams that are an inch apart? I think I got most of them.

The blocks are finished and ready for sashing.

Then another snag: what would I use for sashing?

Not this!

Remnant_Audition_Fail

The search is on! I poked into every nook and cranny I had stuffed fabric into, and I wanted to break down and just buy some, but I remembered I had a tote of patriotic fabrics, all reds, whites and blues, and there, I finally found it. It was perfect!

Remnant_Sashing

Many calcuations were made to make this one piece do all the sashing. It seems the previous owner was one of those who like to tear her fabric in half at the fold line “to make it easier to handle” Rather than be upset about it, I was greatful that she at least donated her leftovers for me to find.
In case you think it’s easier to sash without cornerstones, you are mistaken.
You know what cornerstones are, don’t you?
Turns out they are not just another design element to fiddle with, pin and sew and hope you got them right.
Google says:
1. an important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.
2. a stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls.
Merriam Webster adds:
a basic element : foundation
Basically Cornerstones are our rock. They keep us centered, and true.
Again, I didn’t want to change the focus of this quilt, and it did occur to me to make cornerstones out of the same fabric, but I didn’t. I probably should have, but here we are.
No cornerstones means I have to line the rows up very carefully, and use lots of pins.
For future reference, no time is saved by not using cornerstones.

Remnant_Almost_Done_02

One more border in the light blue brings this out to 55″x65″

Remnant_Top_Finished

I did run out and buy a second “Cutting Mat” It’s a giant thick plastic mat – not self healing, and it will dull rotory blades. While Joanns calls it a “Cutting Mat” the computer did not want to sell it at the “half price for all cutting mats and tools” sale. However, they have come a long way in customer service in the last year, so the manager agreed to give me the half off. After I assured her I knew what I was doing: Two of these on the floor will make a 72×60 surface to trim finished baby and lap sized quilts easily. For bigger ones, I slide the mat under where I am trimming. I do not recommend these for cutting fabric and piecing, but for trimming down a finished quilt for binding, which will dull your “used at this point” blade anyway, gets a big YES from me. I have several rotory cutters, and reserve one just for this.

Where do you store a makeshift 72×60 mat? Under your rug of course!

Selecting the backing was more tricky. Back to my stash in my corner of Hubby’s workshop. I had at some point, drew out a yard marker on one of the shelves. I would need 4 yards to do an easy 2 piece back, or at minimum 3+ to piece a “fussy” [more math] 3 piece back.

Remnant_Backing_Audition

I came back with 6 possibilities. I chose the dusty blue with large navy flowers and white accents on the left.

Remnant_Assembly_Final_Choices

I stitched in the ditch along the sashing, and then made an x through each block.

Remnant_Quilting_Back

Then I had Emmy [Husqvarna Viking Emerald 183 that I bought just for specialty stitches] do her thing [serpentine] along the  sashing/border seam.

Sometimes an accent binding works, but I went with “same as border” binding

I honestly began tearing up as I had Emmy blanket stitch the lable on, because it means this journey is finished.

This is, to date, the hardest quilt I have done. All with remnants and love.

Remnant_Quilted_04

The label has our names, so I won’t picture it here, but it says:

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee” Isaiah 26:3

Edited to add that I gave it to  her last night, and with tearful eyes, she said it was the most thoughtful gift she had ever recieved. She took it to her living room filled with royal blues, and I swear it lit up the room. She said it matched perfectly. Then she put it in her prayer chair, and said she would use it there. All this without me saying a word about how I had pictured this quilt there while I was making it.

It was then I remembered her telling me at our last fellowship, that she had to put her fur baby to  sleep, and she had probably rested at her feet in this chair. While this quilt won’t replace her companion, it will add new comfort to the room.

This. Is. Why. We. Quilt!

#RemnantQuilt #WhyWeQuilt #CrossQuilt

Time For A Change – Needle

Time For A Change – Needle

If you’ve ever wondered when to change your needle, the time to change that needle is now.

Whenever I get a new [to me] machine, I treat it to new oil, and a shiny new Microtex needle. I mostly use Schmetz in the 80 or 90 size because I mostly sew through several layers. In fact I don’t buy anything else.
If the machine is not new to me, I usually replace my needles when I break them. Apparently, I break them often enough to not have to change them for any other reason.

Well, the other day, I was piecing strips for one quilt, and squares for another, and my fabric kept moving away from my stitch guide. I found it annoying, but I suffered through, until I saw it – a skipped stitch!
Oh no!

 

Stiching_Moving_Skipping

I remember reading other peoples complaints on skipped stitches, but It never happened to me before. One common suggestion was to change the needle. I peeked into my little bag of tricks I keep on my sewing table, and saw a brand of needle I hadn’t used before, but got for free with one of my fabric orders. It was a Groz-Beckert Mictrotex size 70. I didn’t feel like getting up to go get my box of stuff that would contain the needles I usually use, so I thought I would try these.

 

Stitching_All_Better

My seems instantly became straighter, and I barely had to touch the fabric as it feeds through. Shown below are two seems. The one on the left looking like I was drinking heavily, and the top one is after the needle change.

 

Stitching_Compare

 

Now, I don’t know whether to feel smart, that the new needle solved two problems, or dumb that I didn’t do it earlier.
So here is what I learned:

1) I only use my Featherweight for piecing, therefore it dosn’t need a 80 or 90 size needle.
2) Because I only use my FW for piecing, the needles do not break, therefore I will have to employ the rarely used sewing technique of replacing a prefectly good looking needle, just because it’s probably time.
3) When your machine is skipping like a school girl, it does NOT mean it’s happy.

I prompty placed the remaining 70 size needles in my Featherweight gear bag, where they now belong. Then I oiled her because I couldn’t remember that last time I did that, either. In my defense, I’ve only had Mustang for a year, and I overhauled her good when I got her. If she likes 70 size needles I will get her all she wants.

The package discription says:

“The very fine and tapered point of this Microtex needle is ideal for very fine fabrics, preventing runs. Recommended for silk, microfiber, batiste, organza, fine muslin and taffeta. Also recommended where discrete seams with very fine thread are desired”

But don’t let that fool you. It’s ok to use a 70 size needle for piecing quilting cotton, just like it’s ok to change a perfectly good looking needle after a year of sewing – preferably before  begining a new project. The perfectly executed stitches are all the evidence we need.

 

All_Seems_Matter

 

All seams matter.

How to Wind a Bobbin

How to Wind a Bobbin

. . . . When you have a fat little project stuffed under your needle.

I was making an insulated Hot Dish container, and had to literally open the head cover of my machine to lift the foot up high enough to stuff this under it. and then it happened. The bobbin thread ran out. What to do?  The hot dish was in the oven, and I had to leave in an hour!

Empty_Bobbin

Plus, I had red thread in the machine I was using.

Oh sure I have two spool holders, but I have been using Missouri Star 50 wt cotton thread in the little cone style spools, and two of these don’t fit at the same time. Technically one shouldn’t fit the way I’m doing it, but it works, and I like to  leave stuff alone if it’s working, so . . .

Looking around and thinking fast . . .

I see some white thread, right over there . . . .

Empty_Bobbin_03

and it’s already loaded and ready to go

Empty_Bobbin_04

Let me just give Victor a scoot, and we’ve made the distance!

Empty_Bobbin_05

That is how to rewind a bobbin without stopping to unthread the machine.

Now, really I should just buy more bobbins so I can fill about 5 or 6 at a time, like I do for my Featherweight, but every time I shop for them, pretty fabric jumps in my cart, and before I know it, my wallet is empty.

I’m nothing if not resourceful.

By the way, dinner was delish! [and arrived hot after the 40 minute trip]

Traditionally Modern Baby Quilt

Traditionally Modern Baby Quilt

This was one of my first quilts.

I had sewn before, but I was new to quilting. Quilting has fascinated me for years, as did Tae Kwon do, which I finanlly got to do, and it was as fun as I thought. So why not quilting?
So far I had made a patriotic quilt top, and a giant dahilia which I only quilted the middle circle, and made a duvet cover out of, because I ran out of time, and I really didn’t know how to quilt. I still really don’t know, but I know what works. I am able to look at things people do traditionally, and figure out how to do it differently. That’s probably how I managed to become trainer/line leader at any production job I’ve held. I follow instructions and then a light turns on. Why don’t I try this method? – and it works! Not only that, it works for other people too.
My daughter, whom I lovingly call “Brat” because she is so dramatic – unlike myself – enlisted in the Navy. She draws people in with her energy, and will have you doing stuff, you never would have done by yourself . . . OMG she IS like me! I mean I have succesfully trained people at work that others had no hope for.

If there is a desire, there is a way! It doesn’t have to be the the traditional way.

Which is how I did this quilt for Brat’s friend whom she met and became close friends with in the Navy. Brat and her friend enlisted at different times, and thusly got separated when her friends 3 years deployment was up. I wanted her friend to have a hug whenever she needed it, so I decided to make a cuddly quilt.
I found a free pattern included in one of those magazine solicitation envelopes that begs you to open it. It was called Modern Baby. What I did differently was, I used fleece for the backing! No one told me I couldn’t – well they would have if I had told a ‘real’ quilter what I was planning. So I didn’t tell anyone. At the very least I would fail without an audience.
My quote for the day:  You only fail when you quit trying!
The pattern calls for 12 fat quarters [well 13 if you count the one they want you to cut up for binding] , and I didn’t have any, but I wanted 16 blocks instead of 12 anyway, so I would need 16 pieces 17″ x 17″.

In my ‘dreaming about quilting’ phase, I had amassed over 6 totes of fabrics from garage and rummage sales. I washed, ironed, measured and pinned the measurements to each piece, then sorted by color until I had so much, I had to quit washing, and just sort. I now have, oh never mind, it’s at least 10 times that.

I looked on the friends Facebook page, and discovered she loves Sunflowers! Me too. Her hometown college is LSU, whose colors are purple and orange. How can I do sunflowers and purple and orange? I chose some green and blue, and of course yellow. I could hear the traditional quilters gasping and choking now, but they weren’t with me, so I soldiered on.
I followed the cutting directions, stacking one light, then one dark.

quilt_pattern_modernbaby_cutting
When I get a new toy [sewing machine] I like to use it for at least one project to get to know it better. For this one I enlisted Mr Wizard. His needle sits slightly to the left, and I made a fix for that, which everyone told me I couldn’t do. That will be an another post.

machine_mr-wizard
When the fabric pieces are all cut and stacked , I took the first 4 stacks of strips next to the square, one at a time, and picked up the first layer piece and placed it under the stack, exposing the second layer piece [pink pieces in pictures] and put the stack back in place.

quilt_pattern_arrange_stacks1

Then I took the last 4 stacks and picked up two layers of each stack, exposing the 3rd layer piece, and placed them under the stack they belonged to, and placed that stack back in place. The 3rd layer is shown in red.

quilt_pattern_arrange_stacks2

To keep these in order, I cut a piece of cardboard to lay the arrangement on, because I cut in one room and sew in another, so I needed to be able to carry this whole arrangement to my sewing machine.
Then I sewed the top layer together, making one block at a time. Then the next layer. What you see is what you sew!

quilt_pattern_modernbaby_sewing_pattern
Money was a bit tight, and I only bought what was needed, unless I find it darn near free, and it looks useful. I couldn’t find a way to square up the resulting 14.5″ block before sewing them all together, so I bought a giant square ruler online. It was a good investment.
Then I took a big breath, and sliced each block in half diagonally . . .

modernbaby_slice
and arranged them.

I didn’t have a design wall, so this is only the first two rows. The second two would be identical. Like miss-matched socks .

modernbaby_half

Now it gets tricky. I didn’t want the traditional cotton backing, and I sure didn’t want to fight that fleece.  I figured I would have to top stitch the design  before adding the backing.  Thinking that stitching a top directly to batting will likely create a ton of lint which would end up in my machine, I skipped the batting entirely. Besides, with fleece, I hardly think batting is needed.  I stitched the top to some heavy interfacing instead. This will prevent the quilt top from shifting around and losing it’s shape, and give me a better foundation to sew the fleece to.

Here it is laid out on the interfacing on the floor before I cut around it to sew.

modernbaby_quilt_to_interfacing02
After top stitching it to the interfacing, I simply placed the top on the fleece, pinned  everywhere, and sewed straight lines down between each block, starting in the center and working out because fleece stretches. Then I got brave, and stitched a square pattern in the center of each block. I was so glad I only did 16 blocks! That’s a lot of  ‘needle down’, then turning. I used My Viking for the quilting because it has a low gear setting,  which will slowly power through thick layers. Mr Wizard would have done it, but faster, and I wanted to go slow.

modernbaby_quilted03
I did an outer stitch to stablise it all, then trimmed the backing to match the top.

Then I You-tubed how to bind quilts!

After hours of videos, and many pots of coffee, I steeled my nerves, and did it! I used my new edge stitching foot, and top stitched on the binding. It worked, but I don’t do that anymore. Now, I stitch outside the binding.

How I do Binding is located in Dish mat – Because You Just Can’t Buy Awesome

quilt_modernbaby_edgestitchfoot
Oh yeah, this was my very first traditionally bound quilt, and it wasn’t awful.

Sometimes tradition works!