Friday, December 30, 2011

A Retreat at Home!

Have you ever done this?  Had your own quilting "retreat" in your own home?  

Well, I decided to do just that this past couple of days.  I decided, after doing so much sewing for dead-lines, to just work on some loose-ends and do some of my own "stuff."  I have to say it felt wonderful!  I stayed in my PJ's and sewed on what-ever I felt like working on and did I ever get a lot done!

 

First I decided to put together those little postage stamp baskets that I made a long time ago for my Postage Stamp Basket video tutorial into a nice little wall quilt.  I just love vintage blocks in 30's prints!  I plan on hand-quilting this so I've layered it and will hand-quilt at my leisure now ;-)

 

Next I was a couple months behind on Accuquilt's BOM so I decided to get caught up on that.  The block on the left I am less than thrilled about - I had altered their piecing method to make the blue one solid strip but I think that it is just way too much blue!  I think I am going to rip that off and alter the block so there is less blue and maybe a couple more leaves.  It just doesn't seem to fit to me.  Or, maybe I'll just sub out the entire block with something else.  I haven't decided yet.

 

I found this panel in my stash with  co-ordinating fabrics and thought that I could whip up 4 preemie quilts for our local NICU.  I try to make several of these every year.  Sometimes I make just 4 or 5 but other years I have made 20 or so :-D  I love the safari fabrics and I think that they might appeal to new parent who have been to Africa.  When I look at these I think about a couple of our friends who have spent time living in Africa and how they would be perfect for them!

Our NICU likes our preemie quilts to be about 22" square to 24" square.  If you are interested in making some of these for your local NICU make sure that you check to see what they would like first - since I have been told that other hospitals like other sizes.  If you would like to see a tutorial on how I do the "inside-out" method to make these so that you don't need to do a binding you can find one here.

 

I used the same fabrics and another jungle print for the backs.  I love how they turned out!  Now I have 4 little quilts for 4 little babies ready to be turned in.  Wait!  I'm the one collecting the preemie quilts for our guild LOL!  Looks like I'll just go put them with the others ;-)

 

After I had finished trimming allllllllllll those HST I decided to get those pin-wheels finished and ready for my next leaders and enders quilt.  This was a picture I had found on the web and really liked it so I adapted it for my 2" squares.  I love the optical illusion it creates.  When I showed my husband and Mother the blocks I needed they argued with me for a couple of minutes telling me that I was wrong!  So, finally I had to cover up all but one row of the quilt and show them the blocks - pine-wheel, 16-patch - etc - and then they could see it. 
I needed 15 pinwheels going one way and 16 of the mirror image.  That is all finished now and I am happy with the way that they turned out.  Now I just have all those 16-patches to finish.  I feel a little guilty working on this leaders and enders quilt when the one I am working on is not finished yet.  But, I've found that when I feel like working on something I should strike while the iron is hot!

 

Next I pulled out all those rag squares I cut with my 8.5" rag die when I was demoing the Accuquilt Go! for a local quilt shop and for my rag die video tutorial and had set aside to work on later - sigh.  These are ready to be quilted now but I am debating on how I want to quilt them - just the large X or free motion?

I pulled out all my long pieces of batting scraps and was able to cut enough squares of batting (6.5" square) to line the entire quilt!  This will be a 7 x 9 setting  63 squares all together all from scrap batting!  Yey I love using up scraps of batting for rag quilts!  I remember years ago I worked for a quilt shop and people would come in and say - I need 3 meters of batting for this rag quilt.  I would always ask them if they had any batting scraps, cut from the edges of finished quilts, sitting around?  Usually, unless they were a newbie, they would say YES!  I would then suggest that they use those up and then come back and buy what they needed to finish.  People would be thrilled I had made the suggestion.  I'm not sure that the quilt shop was thrilled LOL!  But, people were happy to find a use for those bits.

Sometimes I/we can get bogged down by stuff; UFO's, WIP's, stash, scraps, batting bits, to do lists etc.  The last couple days I gave myself permission to get some of those things done and out of the way or at least make some progress on them.  I used only what I had on hand and what I had already started.  I have to say - I feel great!  I was able to bust some stash and de-clutter my mind and sewing area and now I feel like working on these projects more now and getting more things out of the way.  YEY!

Wow that was a long post LOL!  Are any of you working on UFO's or WIP's?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas and My Next leaders and Enders Quilt

Merry Christmas ~ Happy Holidays everyone!!

I hope that you all are having an amazing holiday!
Since I had some time yesterday I decided to pull out my next leaders and enders project and do a couple of test blocks ~ just to make sure that everything was going to work!

This leaders and enders is completely from scraps - I love using my scraps up and making something useful from them.  The white fabric is actually left-overs trimmed from the back of a quilt if you can believe it.  But by cutting tight I should have enough to make the center of a lap quilt.  It's great because these were pieces that were destined for the garbage bin.


These are the blocks.  A simple 16-patch and a pin-wheel.  Nice and simple and traditional.  And, a great way to use up some scraps!  The half-square triangles (HST) are 3.5" unfinished and the small squares are 2" unfinished.  If you want to see what this quilt looks like put together you can see it here.  I'll need two sets of pin-wheels - one going one direction and the other going the other direction (if that makes any sense). 

This should be a fun project - maybe I'll just sew it - I'll wait and see what I feel like doing.  It's just a small lap quilt so it might be a nice one just to work on.  I think I can officially count this as a UFO since I had cut it out a few years ago too!  Hmmm . . . . first UFO finish of 2012 maybe??

I cut all the white fabrics before I got my Accuquilt Go! die cutter so all of those 2" square were cut by hand and the half-square triangles started off as 4" squares to be trimmed down later.   So that work was all done already.

 

I chain-pieced the HST and cut them apart but then I had to trim all those little guys.  Since these were not cut with the 3" finished HST die so I had to pull out my Eleanor Burns Triangle Square Up ruler and get trimming.  Keep in mind I have not had to do work like this since I got my Go!  I forgot how much work that is when you have lots of HST to deal with!  It took me about 1 1/2 hours to trim all of them while we were watching a movie.  Oh well at least it is done.

Don't get me wrong there are pluses and minuses to cutting this way or using the die cuts.  If you are an accurate piecer using the die-cut HST is much faster and much easier.  However, with the Triangle Square Up ruler you can accommodate any inaccuracies in your 1/4" seam.  It is a very forgiving way to piece - it just takes a lot more time to do all the trimming!  The other nice thing about the ruler is that it has multiple sizes right on the ruler so one tool will do the job.  If I am only cutting a few (and I didn't have the die) this is the way that I would cut; but, if I had to do this amount again I would get the die! 

Before I got my Go! this was my favorite way to make HST.  I NEVER thought that I would like using the HST dies - I was POSITIVE that I would just trim and be happy but I think I might be a little bit spoiled now LOL!

Anyone else find a it of time to do some quilting?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Made MYSELF a Stocking - and I bought a little something

Ok - how cool is this - I made myself a stocking!

  Yes you read that correctly - I made MYSELF a stocking!  It's not for someone else, it's not a gift.  This is for me!!!!

 

I've only had the pattern for a few years now LOL!  What gave me the kick in the pants is that our quilting guild was having a stocking challenge for our Christmas party.  I decided that this was an excellent opportunity, not only to participate, but, also to actually MAKE this stocking for myself that I have wanted for years now.  The pattern is called "Steppin' Out" by Lorraine Designs and I just love how fierce this boot looks.
Of course after I finished this my boys decided that this could easily become a pirate boot/stocking - sigh - so much for a funky, cool stocking all for myself LOL!  BTW I did hang my stocking by the pirate nutcracker on purpose.

Just to let you know our guild had a voters choice in 4 different categories for our stocking challenge and I won "Most Unique" - yey!  I was very happy!


Next I bought myself a little something-something that I have been wanting/needing for a while.  I bought the 1.5" finished half-square triangle die.  Why did I buy this?  Well, if you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I love my 2" squares a lot for busting scraps and making projects out of nothing.  This die works really well with my 2" square die in that I can make half square triangles that will finish at the same size as my 2" squares.  This die will allow me to use up even more scraps and have even less waste; and, it will allow me more freedom in patterns I choose for leaders and enders!  For instance the Split Nine-Patch!  I am very happy to add this to my die collection.

So there you go!  I made myself something and bought myself something!  Are you doing anything for yourself this holiday season?

Monday, December 19, 2011

WINNERS!

Hi everyone!

Sorry this post is a day late but time just got away from me yesterday!  Ok let's get to it!  We have two drawings. 

The first draw is for the die-cut applique shapes from SewCalGal's Christmas blog hop.  There were 186 valid entries into the draw.  the rest were anonymous or no-reply - sorry guys!   And the winner, drawn from a random number generator is (if you can believe it) comment #1!!!

sosarahsew has left a new comment on your post "A Christmas Tree-Skirt and GIVEAWAY!":

I made a tree skirt 18 years ago from some fabric my parents brought back from Norway. It had 8 scenes of Norwegian Christmas that I fashioned into an octogon tree skirt. I accidentlally left it in the bag with the old fake tree I gave to my son since he is in his first home, so now I need something new!
 
Congrats Sosarahsew!!!  you will receive all the die-cut applique shapes to make your own tree skirt!
 
Next is the drawing for a Lapel Stick - the best fabric glue stick!  There were 18 valid entries into this give-away and the number drawn by random.org random number generator is #11!
Gene Black has left a new comment on your post "Review of the Slice Fabrique and a Fabric Postcard...":

The Slice Fabrique is certainly interesting. I would like to try one.

I would also love to try the Lapel Stick. I have seen a few people using it online and I love trying new products. 

Congrats to both of you as soon as I get your address your prizes will be sent out!
 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review of the Slice Fabrique and a Fabric Postcard Tutorial!

Hi all!

I was lucky enough to be given the chance to review the Slice Fabrique fabric cutter.  If you have been reading my blog for a while - you know that I love to use my die-cutters to create projects quickly, easily and with great precision.
The Slice has been around for a while for scrapbookers but now they have come out with one for us quilters!  The Slice Fabrique is a different from my other die-cutters.  For one it is electronic and it is computerized.   This means that we can re-size the images!!!  Yes, you read that correctly - you can re-size the images from 1" to 4" big.  It also primarily focuses on applique images - not piecing - although there are a few piecing images on the Applique Basics card that comes with the machine - but here I am getting ahead of myself.

First let's open up the box:

Inside you will find everything you need to get Slicing right away.  The roll of fusible on the right is extra fusible that the good people at Making Memories sent me :-D  I think they knew I wouldn't be able to stop once I started LOL!  The Slice uses SD cards, like they type in cameras,  instead of dies so the storage of your designs is very minimal.  


The Slice Fabrique comes with the Applique Basics SD card which contains ALL of these re-sizable shapes!  And yes that is an upper and lower case alphabet and set of numbers there.   this is a major plus to the Slice Fabric in my eyes!  The cost of the alphabet and numbers dies for the Accuquilt Go! or for the Sizzix are quite costly.  To give you an idea - the cost of the one alphabet available for the Go! is MORE expensive than buying the Slice Fabrique which comes with this alphabet!  The SD cards are about $60.00 CND regular price and many come with additional alphabets on them.  Plus, these alphabets are re-sizable to give us even greater freedom.  I absolutely love that.


Ok let's get to slicing!  First you need to prepare the 6" square glass mat but spreading the adhesive over the mat.



And let it dry for a couple of minutes.
 
Next we need to prepare our fabric.  The Slice Fabrique requires that you put fusible on the back of your fabric before you use it.  This is a necessary step since it stabilizes the fabric  during the cutting process.  Some of the designs like the hexagons would be great for piecing and we wouldn't want fusible on them.  I am told that you can spray baste paper onto the back and then cut and peel the paper off if you want them for piecing.  I haven't tried this though - just passing it on ;-)


Now let's turn to the machine.  The Slice Fabrique is cordless so I let it charge for about an hour before I used it.  You can also use it while it is plugged in and charging.  First it takes us to the home screen.


Then we press Select and choose settings.
  
Then it asked me to home the cutter - which I did because the instructions told me to ;-)  I guess this centers the blade.
  
Back to the menu now and I chose Applique.


 

I chose this pretty snowflake.
 

The snowflake could be as small as 2" or as large as 4"

 

For this project I chose 3.5" to work with my fabric postcards.
 

Another couple of cool functions the Slice Fabrique can do are Shadow - which is when you would want to give your applique 3D shadowing.  You would put the shadow behind the applique.  Really neat!  The other thing is mirror - but since the snowflake is already it's own mirror image that was unnecessary here.

After I had chosen my design and the size it was time to load the fabric.

 
You NEED to make sure that the prepared fabric is firmly adhered to the glass mat.  If you don't smooth it out and make sure that it is sticking your design will completely mess up.  This happened to me the first time and it was completely user error.

 

Next place the Slice on top of the fabric and glass mat.  Hold the sides firmly and press the button on the back right to start cutting.  You really do need to hold the Slice down here since it will want to move a bit as the blade drops down and starts to rotate around and cut the fabric.  Can you see the white part on the right of the slice?  That is the mechanism and the blade is in there.

 

The Slice will tell you when it is finished.  Then you lift off the Slice and it will look a little like this - huh??!!  Did it do anything?
 
It sure did!  Look at that!!  Cool huh?  Beautiful and intricate.

 
We now have a positive and a negative design.  I love it!  Look at how pretty they both are.
Let's talk a bit about the Slice Fabrique now.  

I really like this little machine.  There are lots of positives:
  • I think that for the alphabets alone it is a great idea.  
  • Even if you're not interested in the alphabets the ability to re-size designs will give quilters an affordable way to die-cut applique shapes and lots of options!
  • By using SD cards instead of dies the cards are less expensive than dies.  The Applique Basics card alone is filled with many wonderful shapes that I think would make any quilter happy.  
  • If you read the instructions it is user-friendly.
  • It is cordless so you can charge it and take it with you.
  • There is a hands free attachment that you can purchase if you don't like holding onto the machine.
  • Frankly, this machine is another option for quilters - it won't replace the other machines but it does give us more flexibility in out applique designs.  It is a great addition to any sewing room.
Now, there are s few negatives to this machine. 
  • There is a learing curve to using it.  I did mess up my first cut because I didn't ready the instructions clearly enough - but after that I was fine.
  • There is a bit more fabric waste than with other die-cutters.  Now that said Making Memories has an excellent blog with video tutorials which are extremely well done and really helped decrease fabric waste.
  • The glue needed for the glass mat could get seriously expensive - however - they have a spray adhesive that you can get and I am told that it works better than the glue.
  • The size limitations on the applique - 4" is as large as you can go.  However, I think that the ability to re-size out-weighs this negative for me.
  • They recommend using the Slice fusible webbing but I am told that other brands like Steam A Seam 2 and Wonder Under will also work.
  • The blades do wear out but they are not expensive and I have still not worn one out yet.
I am really happy with this machine.  It has honestly filled a gap for me with my die-cutters.  It allows us to re-size designs and give us an affordable source for multiple alphabets.  I really, really like those options.  I think that the Slice Fabrique would be great for ANY quilter would does applique - especially if they don't like cutting those shapes out like me!  I think it would be a great present under the tree this Christmas ;-)

Ok since I was cutting up some fabric I decided to work on a project while I was trying out this machine.  Every year I make fabric post-cards for my Christmas cards and the Slice is PERFECT for this!  You probably noticed that I started off with a rectangle of fabric that I cut into with the slice.  This was a 4" x 6" rectangle that is the size of a postcard.  As you saw int he review I pre-fused it and then cut out the shape.

 
I also cut a 4" x 6" piece of timtex - available at lots of quilt shops or fabric stores.  I grabbed my Lapel Stick - my absolute favorite fabric glue and started gluing.

 
I glued a 4" square of silver fabric to one piece of timtex and a 4" x 6" piece to another.

 
Then I very carefully ironed everything down.  The silver will melt if your iron is too hot.  At this stage you can do some machine quilting on these if you wish but I decided not to.

Then I used my Lapel Stick again to glue my postcard back onto the other side.  I have a stamp for this but you can draw this by hand.

 

Next zig zag around the outside - I love my uneven zig zag stitch for this since it is so forgiving - and if you use white thread it really looks like icicles!  So simple - so pretty!

So there you go!  I used both the applique shape and the background fabric to create these very pretty fabric post cards!  What do you think?  If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them here!  Will you be asking for a Slice Fabrique for Christmas?

Whew that was a long one!  I feel like you deserve a prize if you made it to the end LOL!  Well how about this - our friends at Lapel Stick would like to offer one of my readers the chance to try Lapel Stick out!  If you would like the chance to win a Lapel Stick fabric glue stick just leave a comment here saying that you would like to be entered - I'll pick a winner on Sunday right after I pick a winner for the die-cut applique shapes from my other give-away!  There is still time to enter if you haven't yet!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Tree-Skirt and GIVEAWAY!

Hi all!

Welcome to all of my existing readers and new readers alike!  Today is my day in SewCalGal's Christmas blog hop!  You have to hop on over to SewCalGal's blog and check out the list of all the other hoppers - there are some great tips and tutorials and a great give-away so run on over and check it all out!

I hope that you like my tutorial using the Accuquilt Go! Sleigh and Snowflakes die.  I have been wanting to make a new tree-skirt for our tree for a while and this blog hop gave me the perfect excuse.  I love this die since it makes cutting reindeer and the sleigh so quick and easy - not to mention the snowflake (but I don't use that shape today).

First let's start with the background for the tree-skirt.  I decided to do a non-round tree-skirt so we are going to need to peice it.  Now if you feel comfortable making an octagon without peicing feel free!

You will need:
2 x 12.5" squares
1 x 12.5" by 36" rectangle
1 x 18.5" square

Cross-cut the 18.5" square on each diagonal to make 4 triangles.

Piece two of the  triangles to each side of the 12.5" squares as shown.

Piece these two units to either side of the long rectangle as shown.  Now we have our center.  Trim off the excess from the setting triangles


Now cut 4 strips 3.5" by the width of fabric for the borders.  You can either use your 3.5" strip die or rotary cut these.

Add these onto the sides first to the shorter 12.5" sides and trim to the correct angle to match up with the longer sides.

Add the longer sides. 

And trim off the excess.  Whew, the hard work is now finished!!

Ok now onto the fun and easy part!

Press fusible onto the back of some brown fabric and cut 8 reindeer (9 if you want Rudolph!).  Press some fusible onto the back of some red fabric and cut the sleigh. Choose some various Christmas prints and put some fusible on the back of those to make 4 presents using your 2" square die (or you can rotary cut these as well).  The presents in the sleigh make it look like Santa is completely enveloped and covered in presents!


Lay out your top and draw a circle in the middle - mine was about 7" square or the size of my side plate.  Then draw a line from the circle to the end - you will be cutting on these lines later.  Lay out your applique shapes until you are happy with them and press.

I debated adding some snowflakes around the reindeer but every time I placed them I didn't like the effect - maybe if I used a blue snowflake print as my background fabric I would have liked it better with the snowflakes.  But, against the white background I just didn't like it as much so I left them out.  I really like the simplicity of this design.

Layer your quilt top, batting and backing and applique and quilt as desired. I used Sliver metallic thread by Sulky to machine quilt and to applique.


After I finished all of that my kids started to ask where Santa was in the sleigh!  So I grabbed the Holiday Accessories die and cut out the mitt and the small circle.  I placed the mitt and the circle on the presents to look like Santa was completely engulfed in the presents on the sleigh with only the top of his hat one one mitt sticking out.  This is optional but I think it gives a little more action to the tree-skirt.  You could also use the bow on the Holiday Accessories die to add a bow to the present heap but again I thought that it got a bit fussy for my taste and i really like how this one is simple and flowing.


Next I free-motion quilted the reins using black thread and a very fine zig-zag stitch to join the reindeer and the sleigh together.  I love the movement the reins give to the piece.  It makes the whole thing flow.  I thought about adding cording but I figured that with the hustle and bustle of Christmas morning that cording might not last too long before it was pulled off.

You will need to cut bias binding for this since because of the circle in the middle.  If you need a tutorial on cutting bias binding you can find one here.

Well there it is!  I hope that you have enjoyed my tutorial to make this tree-skirt.  You could easily embellish this more that I have - with bells and ribbons etc - it is all up to you!

Ok now onto the GIVE-AWAY!!!

How would you like to win all the applique shapes needed for this tree-skirt?  The sleigh, the reindeer and presents all pre-fused and die-cut?  I debated doing the background fabric as well but since I started thinking about a blue sky or a night sky instead of the white I thought that I would leave that up to you!  LOL

Ok here's the fine print!

For one chance to win you can comment on this post.  Tell me anything about Christmas past or present.  Do you have a tree-skirt?  Did you make it - or are you thinking about making this one?

For a second chance to win, become a follower and leave another comment here for a second entry.  If you already follow my blog that's fine just leave a comment here telling me that you do.

For a third chance to win like me on Facebook and leave another comment here.  Again, if you already like me on Facebook just tell me so in a comment.

Every comment is your entry - 1 comment one entry ;-)

Please, please make sure your blogger is not set to no-reply!!!!  Please see my previous post here on how to make sure that you are not a no-reply blogger!  If a no-reply blogger is chosen then I will be forced to draw another name and I really don't want to do that!

The winner will be chosen on Sunday to give everyone a chance to enter! Good luck everyone!

Don't forget to visit all the other blogs on the hop!  There are some great tutorials offered.

Here is the line up for this blog hop:

Monday, December 12th

Tuesday, December 13th
Wednesday, December 14th
Thursday, December 15th
Friday, December 16th

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Christmas Tumbler

Ta da!  Another tumbler quilt!

 

I sure do love the tumbler die!  This is the large tumbler die for my Accuquilt Go!  once again.  I love, love, love it for doing seasonal quilts.  It is so fast to put together, uses up odd pieces of fabric and it showcases larger prints without cutting them up too small.  I thought about saving this for SewCalGal's Christmas Theme Blog Hop (which i am participating in) but there were a couple of tumbler quilts on her Halloween Hop so I thought that I would just show you this one and offer a different tutorial on my day.

This quilt will be a gift in a yearly drawing I do so hopefully who ever wins will like it!

I love this quilt because it is completely from my stash - top, backing, binding - everything - yey!  I love using my stash!

I found that about 10 years ago, maybe less, it was all about building a stash and accumulating fabric for your stash.  I read articles in quilting magazines about how to build a stash; and, many of us, me included, did just that - we built a mighty stash!  Sigh!

Now, the big trend in articles and books and quilt shop clubs seems to be busting your stash, scrap quilts - and using pre-cuts like jelly rolls - but that's a whole different story LOL!

Why did this new trend start do you think?  Is it the down-turn in the economy?  Hmmm. . . maybe.  Or, maybe, a lot of us looked at the hundreds, if not thousands, of yards of fabric that we have and realized that we would HAVE to make A LOT of quilts to use up our stash!  I am seriously amazed, every time I pull a complete quilt completely out of my stash, at how little difference it seems to make.  It seems like I own a nearly bottomless supply of fabric that I might never get through - odd predicament don't you think? 

Don't get me wrong I get so happy when I pull a quilt completely out of my stash - but I feel like I should ALWAYS be pulling quilts out of my stash instead of buying some new and yummy fabrics.  So, now when people ask me about building a stash, I tell them not to.  I advise new quilters to buy for the project and not for the stash; because, at some point you will have to bust that stash.  Thank goodness for things like the tumbler block to make it all come together!

So what do you do?  Buy for the stash or bust the stash?

Monday, December 05, 2011

In the Dye Pot!

I spent a portion of yesterday doing this - dying up some wool for the background of the rug that I want to start soon.  it is a pattern by Gene Shepherd called Pickering Oak.


There's the wool all simmering on the stove.  Unlike cotton fabric we have to heat wool on the stove to get it to absorb the dyes.  Imagine my whole house smelling like wet mittens over the heater.  At least it was nice out and I could open up the windows for a bit to air everything out. 

It wasn't going as dark as I wanted so I added more black dye.  Uh oh it went a little too dark I think! 

 

Well at least there is the other pot that I didn't add too much dye to.  Whew!

 

I guess I'll just have to wait until it all dries before I make up my mind.  Wool always looks so much darker when it is wet.

Hey not bad at all!!  It is a little bit darker and more blue than I wanted but I really like it!  I think I'll keep it as is and go with it.  Since the leaves will have so much orange in them this will be a nice compliment to the orange.

Dying is always such an adventure for me since I am so new to it - I really like to dye wool but I would just have a fit if someone asked me to replicate a recipe!  I know I know - I should start taking notes for my own sake at least.
Ok now that that is finished I have to dye for the leaves - more adventures!