Don’t Call Me A Hot Head – Curtains

Don’t Call Me A Hot Head – Curtains

Sometimes you want a break from quilting, and sometimes the sun kicking your butt makes you take a break from quilting to make insulated curtains for the office.

When I sit at my computer in the evening, the glorious sun shares it’s wealth of color and heat – right on top of my head. I think I can enjoy it, but after about 6 minutes, I feel like I am on fire, and it takes me about 30 minutes to cool down and feel right again. Last year, I am ashamed to say that I hung a towel over the lace curtain. It doesn’t cover the whole window, just the part where the sun heats up my head.
Last Christmas, on the Eve, in fact, my monitor died. At 4 pm. I remember this because I thought “I have 2 hours before the stores close” and ran out and bought a 32″ flat screen TV to hook up to my computer. It worked, but the other window behind me glared onto it, so that I had to hang a sheet over that lace curtain.
So now what we have is a trashy looking office, which simply won’t do for a person of my taste and creativity.
Enter Timeless Treasures Suffolk panel!

Picture 56404

I decided to get two of these and cut them in half. I am not a fan of black backgrounds on fabric, so I will add some more color to lighten it up. I added a wide strip of sky blue batik, and a narrow strip of lavender to build it out to the dimensions I require.
When I use quilters cotton for curtains, I place a layer of thick white felt behind it, because the sun will shine through it, and wash out the colors. Now, if these were going to be “black out” curtains, I would add a layer of black felt instead, but I actually want a bit of sunlight to show through.
Once I have these two layers done, I move on to the batting, and backing.

Office_Panel

Experience has shown that no matter what color you use on the back, it will fade to nearly white, so now I just use Kona white.
It so happened that I needed more Kona white to finish the second of the “Twin” quilts, so I bought extra.
While cutting the back of the panels, I used the selvage for the edge of the liner of the cut out and had some extra in between, so I cut strips for the quilt. If I didn’t have the selvage, I’d have to hem it – only as a fray check because it doesn’t show.

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Don’t forget to notch it.

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The cutout is turned out and top stitched.

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A scrap is added on top of the cutout to finish the edges when it is sewn together.

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Before sewing all the layers together, you want to sew  the batting to the backing [about 6 inches] where you will leave it open to turn it out. You be glad you did when you go to hand sew it closed.

Curtains_Office_Layer

After it is sewn and turned right sides out,  I usually stitch right at bottom of the cutout, but that stitch placement didn’t look good on the front.

Curtains_Office_Back_TurnedOut

I use number 4 thick poly batting for the middle, and I quilt it according to what looks good on the front – not what the manufacturor says.

They are 27″W x 29″L and quite poofy!

I did not quilt these more because every stitch that has the sun behind it will show as points of light. You can see a bit of that in the Bedroom Curtains I made. If the curtain was bigger, I could have quilted the batting to the backing before sewing the front on to avoid the light comming through the stitches. These are small, and I will hand or gentle cycle wash them.

Curtains_Office_Finished_Back

The front

Curtains_Office_Finished_Top

Now when I go in the office, I am greeted by the amazing glow of big beautiful flowers.

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Both of these pictures were taken on a sunny afternoon. Above with lights on, and below with lights off.

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Good bye Hot head! Now I can get back to quilting.

#InsulatedCurtains #WindowTreatments #DontCallMeAHotHead #SunIsNotKickingMyButt #Ahhhhhh

Seams Sew Easy

Seams Sew Easy

. . . . not to staple the packaging to the product!

I mostly use my Featherweight to sew 1/4″ seams, but last month I decided to use her for flip and sews. You know where you place a small square piece on a larger piece and sew corner to corner, commonly called “sno-balls” I thought a darling daisy shaped seam guide  might be worthy of such a splendid machine.

Seams_Sew_Easy_01

My thoughts were not shared with the packaging department, where the wicked stapler vicously weilded his weaponry through the bag and the seam guide, tearing it in several directions.

Seams_Sew_Easy_03

I’m a fixer. I fix things. I tried to snap the pieces together flat to no avail.

When I spend slave-like-a-dog-cash on an 80 year old machine, countless hours polishing her to a fine sheen, more time selecting and assembling fabric to make a  tote with matching scratch free bed cover to protect her from the elements, I will not unceremoniously place a jagged thingy of any sort on her bed!

 

Seams_Sew_Easy_02

Hopefully Connecting Threads will replace this item, so I can get on with my life. I have a lot of snoballs to make!

  • Before I recieve suggestions on how to live without this seam guide, just know that:

1 I will not

2 I have other machines, and did in fact already use my Rocketeer to do some snoballing.

Q: what is it?

A: This picture of my Rocketeer with “The Angler” seam guide was a test after I refurbished it.  Normally, I would have made tiny holes to screw it into the bed instead of the tape. Anyway there are 1/4 inch lines on BOTH sides of the needle, plus diagonal lines to sew corner to corner without having to mark the fabric. The daisy shaped one has different lines, but works much the same way.

Thread_CrossWound_500_01

 

#SeamsSewEasy #BeeinMyBonnet #BadStapler #Rocketeer

 

Quarter Square Triangle from Layer Cake Alternative

Quarter Square Triangle from Layer Cake Alternative

Today, lets play with two 10 in squares sliced 4 times to get 8 Quarter Square Triangles, or QST’s.

I am a Jenny fan, and I do buy precuts, but many times I want to make additional blocks to make the quilt bigger, or I run into a piece in a pack that I don’t want to use for the quilt I am making.
This will require hitting my stash for co-ordinating fabric, and knowing what size that block is and how much fabric I need, would be helpful.
So if you want to know just what size block you get when you slice and dice a 10 inch square 4 times, like in Jenny’s  Checkered Lattice Quilt, here you go:

I grabbed some crappy scraps and sewed them right, or as I like to say “pretty” sides together with a 1/4″ seam on all 4 sides. In reality, I sewed these wrong sides together, but I didn’t rip the stiches out, because A: No side of this fabric was very pretty, and B: this was only an experiment.
PRETTY sides together folks!
I sliced my sandwich in half using Missouri Star’s wonderful 5×15 ruler in each direction.

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_01

Then I sliced the sandwich corner to corner in each direction, making 8 pieces.

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_02

Each piece will be a 2 color triangle measuring 4 3/4″ tall and about 9 1/2″ long.

The backside is shown here

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_03

It is important to note that you get 4 with blue on the left and 4 with blue on the right.

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_Makes8QSTs_01

I sewed them together, matching up the opposite colors.

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_Makes8QSTs_03

If you do this, you will get almost 6 1/2″ block.

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_Makes8QSTs_04

If you trim sparingly, you will get 6 1/8 which is odd, so I recommend trimming to an even 6″ which I did not do here. It’s difficult to trim to 6 1/8, so I won’t do that again!

Make sure you get your corners better than I did below! See the top two? You’ll see them later in the finished block as cut off points!

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_Makes8QSTs_05

#WhyWeExperimentWithCrappyFabric

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_Makes8QSTs_06

and here’s our cut off points, right smack in the middle!

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_Makes8QSTs_07

Sewing those four 6 1/8 blocks gets you one 11 3/4 block, but if you trim to 6″, count on getting 11 1/2″

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_Makes8QSTs_08

Here’s the “pretty” side.  Ooops!

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_Makes8QSTs_09

 

 Alternative for additional blocks or Stash busting instructions:
I measured the results of the 8 piece cutting method, and discovered you can get the same cut with two 5″ squares!
Can you say “Charm Pack Hack”?

 

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_04

Yes, two charms will make 2 of the same size QST’s as Jenny’s method above.
Note that these are not Half Square Triangles [HST’s] so you can’t sew them corner to corner.
You have 2 options.
1. Sew down opposite sides which will give you two of the same QSTs.
Cutting from the bottom left to the top right as shown, will give you two with the top color [blue] on the right, and the bottom neutral color on the left.
If you cut from the bottom right to the top left [not shown], you will get two pieces with your top color [blue] on the left.

However, once you turn one upside down to sew it to the other, they will line up perfectly for the checkered lattice quilt.
OR
2. sew down one side plus around the corner like an L shape. Cutting diagonally through the point where the stitch lines meet, will give you two opposite QST’s, one with blue on the right, and one with blue on the left. [shown with red number 3]

Now if you take these two opposites [red #3] and face them together, they won’t be opposite anymore. The two blues will be next to each other!  I only included this option  in case you need to replace a block or two. Misstakes happen!

Two_Ten_Inch_Square_Cut_8Pcs_05b

Lets take example number 1 and play a bit . . .

When you cut it, go ahead and cut it corner to corner, and remove those few stitches.

You will get 2 of the same pieces which will line up as opposites.

Now lets sew them together, and here is our square again. See the pretty side up? I can learn!

Charm_Pack_Hack_04

Even though this block cries out for prettier fabric, I have 2 quilts going on right now, and  I’m not getting out more fabric, so here is the Checkered Lattice block made with 2 crappy charms. It trims to 7 1/2 inches.

That means one charm pack [of 40 pieces] will get you 20 blocks, which if placed 4 across and 5 down, will get you a 28×35 quilt before borders.

2 charm packs +4 extra pieces makes 42 blocks to get 6 across and 7 down for a 42×49 quilt before borders.

When trimming/squaring up this block, make sure you get the 3 3/4″ mark in the center, and your corners on the fabric color change for the best results when assembling.

Charm_Pack_Hack_05

 

There you have it. A charmpack Hack by Yours truly,

PrettyCurious, author of WhatWerks

 

#CheckeredLatticeQuilt #10inchSquaresSliced4Times #PrecutAlternative #LayerCakeHacks #CharmPackHack #TheydontCallMePrettyCuriousForNothing #MistakesHappen

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

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.

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I pressed and stacked them.

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Remnant_Assembly_05

Every other block was turned to make a secondary pattern.

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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.

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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

 

#AllSeamsMatter #ChangeYourNeedle #GoSmall

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]

#BuyMoreBobbins #BeCreative