Friday, December 31, 2010

Finally finished my Christmas Fabric Postcards!!

Yes!  I finally finished my Christmas fabric postcards!  I got the idea to do Crazy Patch Christmas cards since I have been teaching Crazy Shortcut Quilts this year.  I did the stitch and flip method to piece these using the Timtex as a foundation.  (Please feel free to post in the comments if you would like a tutorial on this)  I used a lot of scraps from my Christmas Crazy Shortcut Quilt which was great!  I only did a few with the decorative stitches on them since I was seriously running out of time and the clock was ticking to get these in the mail.  Well, needless to say these were more labour intensive than I planned LOL!  So the decorative stitches across the blocks had to be sacrificed or I would still be doing these.  Next year I am promising to start my Christmas fabric postcards in September!  I know - I say this every year :-)

The two top right hand cards are enclosed in a clear plastic self-sealing envelope that I send my cards in through the mail.  I take them into the post-office open and have the teller manually stamp the card - then I seal the envelopes and then hand them to the teller to go through the mail.  This way the stamp and card are ink stamped and not the clear envelope.  I think this really adds to the card.

I ran into a problem with these cards that was purely of my own making.  I usually use Wonder Under to fuse the backing onto the cars.  This year I decided to try Heat and Bond Ultra instead to make the cards really stiff.  What a mistake!!  With all the layers and the timtex I just couldn't get the edge stitches to work!  No matter what I tried it was skipping stitches :-(  Unfortunately I had fused all of my cards before I realistic this.  Note to self; test a new product on one card first!  I ended up just doing a straight stitch on some of the cards to finish the edges off.

I thought that I would share a picture of the two Accuquilt Go dies I got for Christmas.  My Mom gave me the feathers die and the Fall Melody die.  I can't wait to have some fun with these guys.  I am thinking about wool applique with the fall melody!!   I'll do the blanket stitch by machine though and just make it really large to look as close to hand as I can.  I absolutely love a lot of the things I've seen done with the feather die as well.  I think it would be amazing on boarders for an amazing effect.

I hope that you all had an amazing holiday season and are happy and healthy!  And please take a second and click follow on the right under my picture and follow Sunshower Quilts on Facebook as well!

Happy New Years all!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Sewing!!

Merry Christmas everyone!!  I hope that you are all having an amazing day today ~ and ~ I wish you all health, happiness and peace this holiday season.

My one son got a few more Zhu Zhu Pets for Christmas today.  Have you seen these little guys?  They are robotic hamsters that run around on a track and hamster wheels etc.  They are so cute and cuddly!  Well my son wanted beds for his hamsters and I find them quite expensive to buy the official ones in the stores.  I looked online and and found a quick and easy tutorial on the Sew, What's New blog.  I had everything I needed at home, here in my stash; so, I let my son pick out his fabrics and whipped up beds for all his hamsters in just a few minutes.  The left-over squares of fleece make great blankets for the little guys as well!  Now all the little hamsters can sleep in their own beds LOL!

I really like that my son appreciates the hand-made beds instead of really wanting the official Zhu Zhu Pets beds.  It's great when they appreciate a hand-made item. 

I also found these neat machine embroidery designs at Sew Weird.  Sooo cute!  I don't think that my son is interested in a lot of the clothing items but I do think that they are so sweet!  There is also a little tutorial for making clothing here, here and on the Girls in White Dresses blog

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Machine Quilting

I've been working, for the past few days, on machine quilting this quilt for a friend.  It's a beautiful Christmas quilt that is all fusible applique.  I am going around the outside of the images with invisible thread just to make it pop out a bit.  This is very time consuming work and the wool batting is making the quilt a bit harder to manipulate because of the bulk but I am slowly getting through the 12 applique blocks ~ 6 are finished now!!  I'm going to stop for the day since my hands and shoulders are a bit sore LOL!

I'll do holly leaves in the sashing and boarders and I think that will go a lot faster than this fussy work.

Has anyone else made this quilt?  I'd love to see some pictures of how you quilted it!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

To Pre-Wash or Not to Pre-Wash

To pre-wash your fabrics or not to pre-wash your fabrics?  Isn't that a major question for quilters??!!  If you want to get a room of quilters divided in less than 5 minutes bring up the subject of pre-washing your fabrics sometime.  When I first started quilting everyone pre-washed their fabrics.  It was what you did.   Then several years ago books/people/magazines etc started to say that pre-washing wasn't necessary if you used only good quality quilt shop fabric.  And when the dye magnets hit the shelves many of us figured that throwing those into the wash would be good enough.  There are a couple brands of these on the market but they are still relatively hard to find.  Basically you put them into the wash and they catch any excess dye that might bleed out so that it bleeds onto the little sheet instead of your quilt.  So guess what?  I stopped pre-washing.

Well quilters ~ I have a confession to make ~ I have gone back to pre-washing my fabrics 100%.  I've had a few instances of colour bleeds outside of the washing machine.

First I was machine quilting a quilt and rubbed out a chalk line with a damp towel.  Walked away for a few minutes and guess what?  The red had bled into the cream fabric.  I got it out but it still made me start to think about my choice to stop pre-washing.

The next instant was with a little Christmas table-topper I made using unwashed fabrics.  We had it on the table and some water got spilled on it.  The red ran soooo badly and the green ran a bit too.  I scrubbed and scrubbed but that red dye remained no matter what I did ~ and so that quilt sat like that for over a year.

The last thing that happened to me, that really cemented my position, was when I had my scrap Christmas Quiltor close-up here, on the bed for the Christmas season.  I always sleep with a glass of water beside the bed and when I woke up to take a drink of water I spilled a little bit!  Ooppps!  Guess what?  In the morning the binding fabrics and boarder fabrics had bled into the white boarders.  I scrubbed and scrubbed to get it out but no luck.  That was the last straw for me.  Dye magnets would not have helped in this situation at all.

All fabrics now go through the washer before they get to join my stash.  I want what ever is going to happen to those fabrics to happen before it goes into a quilt.  I will even set my fabrics with Synthropol to make sure that they are really set.  And then I love Mary Ellen's Best Press to starch them to a nice finish.  Since I have started doing this again I haven't had any surprises and I am much more confident with how my quilts will hold up.

Since we are now getting to the Christmas season again I decided to try to get the dies out of the quilts again.  So I took a bit of a desperate step.  I used a Tide Bleach stick and rubbed it over the white fabrics where the dyes had bled into them.  I gently rubbed it in until the dyes went away then immediately submersed it into water.  And rinsed and rinsed and rinsed.  I did this with both quilts then immediately got them into the washing machine.  As soon as the wash was over they went into the dryer so that they didn't have a chance to sit.  And guess what?  The horrible bleeding colour was gone and I didn't end up bleaching the colours surrounding it!!  Yey!  Two Christmas quilt salvaged and I am one happy but very resolved quilter ;)

So tell me?  Do you pre-wash or not pre-wash?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sew SImple Starry Table-Runners are Finished!

I am sew pleased to report that I have finally completely finished my Sew Simple Starry Table-Runners!  They are completely finished and even bound ~ so that is one more thing I can tick off my Christmas to do list!  After looking at all the corners to turn in the stars I decided not to do a zig-zag stitch around each of them but rather just free-motion quilt and applique, 1/16" inside the applique, at the same time and travel and use a meaner with loops to travel around and between the stars.  I LOVED this effect a lot and it made the applique sooo much easier than doing a zig-zag.  Since there is fusible behind the stars I'm not worried about them fraying or anything like that.

Since I bought 6" strips of the gold and silver fabrics I had a 2" strip left over from each of them so I decided to cut them into 20" segments and use them for a scrappy binding.  Then I put on a gold rayon thread ~ my fav ~ and used the herringbone stick to machine finish the binding.  It really adds a bit more bling to the project.  I just loved the effect and I loved not having the little strips left in my stash ;)

This was such an easy project to do by using the star die on my Go! cutter.  I can honestly say that I really don't think I would have finished this project had I traced and cut these out manually.  I can see me getting to the tenth star and giving up!  I actually have a hand-full of stars left-over from this project!  Maybe I'll make one of these for myself ;)  OR if you've been debating whether or not to buy one of these machines and would like to see the quality of the cuts feel free to leave me a message here and I'll send you a message to get your contact info and send you a few stars.

How are your holiday projects coming along?  More to do or are you all finished?