Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Yoga Mat Bags!!

My friend came up this weekend and we spent practically the whole weekend planning and making yoga mat bags for her and another friend. You can see the bags here and the machine embroideries that we did on the bottom of the bags. I think that the embroideries add a really special touch. You can also see the little sun logo that I put on the bags incase I decide to make more. I really love them both and didn't want to give them up when they were finished. The rest of the weekend we spent planning and having a birthday party for my two boys. :)
Basically the bag is a tube with a round bottom on it and a drawstring top. Measure the width of the mat to get the length of the bag and roll up the bag ( I did it loosely) to get the diameter. There is a great free computer program at http://www.wildginger.com/wildthings/ that is a free bag making program. You just type in your needed dimensions and it will give you a pattern. There is also a great pattern book that includes a zippered yoga mat bag by Cindy Taylor Oates called "Purses, Bags and Totes" http://www.sewthankful.com/PursesBagsTotesPatternBook.html I have not made this bag yet but all her bags are great and I want to get this book.
If you want more information on the bags please post a comment here and I will blog on the directions more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day and Doll Making

Happy Valentine's Day!

I took a great doll course the last two Saturdays from Jacquie Lecuyer of "Off the Floor Designs" and it was really great! She does custom dolls and also sells dolls and patterns off her web site. In the class we made her "Quiet Quilter" Doll. She has a pin cushion for a hat and is holding a needle and quilting hoop. I did her dress in fabric that has two geishas quilting which I thought was pretty neat. I still have to make her shoes but I did get her hair and glasses on. I can't decide if I want to embellish her more or not. We want her to teach meore classes at our local quilt shop and Jacquie said that she would teach "Uma: The Forest Elf From Another World" next. (In this picture you can also see the mess that my sewing room is in right now.)

Here is Jacquie's web site if you would like to take a look http://www.offthefloordolls.com

Sometimes it is really great and rewarding to do something completely different from anything that you have done before to re-energize yourself and your creative impulses. It can really get you going again if you've been in a slump. I really didn't think that I would like doll-making; but, I thought that a nice quilter doll would look great in my studio so I took the course. Now I can't wait to make more dolls! Stepping outside your own personal box is a great thing to do now and again.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sweat Shirt Jackets

This is one of my sweatshirt jackets that I have made. Some people call them foundation garments as the jacket is made on the base of a sweatshirt. This particular one is my scrap Halloween jacket. I used scraps from various halloween projects including some 4 year old paper-pieced pumpkin blocks. You can see on the sleeve an embroidered skeleton that I think looks great on the sleeve.
Sweatshirt jackets are great because they illiminate cutting a pattern and they fit like a comfy sweatshirt. You can really do a lot of different fun things with them for relatively little cost.
The long and the short of this method is:
  1. buy a sweatshirt that is one size too big for you and has set-in sleeves.
  2. cut off the ribbing around the sleeves and bottom. I leave on the top until the end.
  3. cut it apart on the seams and down the cetre of the front.
  4. make fabric somehow to cover the sweatshirt pieces.
  5. baste the fabric onto the sweatshirt pieces.
  6. quilt the pieces.
  7. trim away the excess top fabric from the sweatshirt pieces.
  8. sew the sweatshirt back together and over-cast the edges. Make sure that the jacket has a nice fit.
  9. you can either bind the edges witha bias or turn the fabric to the back and top-stitch.
Would you like more information on this? Please leave a comment here. I have been thinking about doing a pictorial lesson on my blog but I would like to know if there is interest first.
As always please feel free to leave me comments and let me know if there is anything that you would like to see.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fusible Quilting

Hi all! I had a suggestion to blog on my Pineneedles designs since I have now completed two of the complete arrangements. I have some advice to keep you from having the various problems that I have had. You can also see a list of various notions that McKenna Ryan uses on her site http://www.pineneedles.com/

1. Good quality batik fabric is the easiest to work with, has the most colour variation, and, frays the least. Batik has a higher thread count so when you are cutting the designs out you can get the very intricate detail without all the fraying. On McKenna Ryan's site http://www.pineneedles.com/ you can download a chart with her fabric suggestions on it. They are 99.99% batiks and very helpful if you want to make the exact quilt that she did. I used this for both of my quilts to shop with. She also has her own fabric line out now so that you can get her colours exactly.

2. Use only Steam-A-Seam2 LITE fusible webbing. Regular Steam-A-Seam2 is great for big applique pieces but too heavey for such small pieces. On my first quilt I used a few different brands. Wonder Under just flakes off and makes it impossible to cut and attatch the very small pieces. Heat N'Bond is not something I like either. If you over-heat it it becomes hard and papery. You need to be able to iron the block SEVERAL times as you apply the pieces. Steam-A-Seam2 LITE has an almost plasticy type webbing that stays together.

3. Use a small mini-iron to attatch your pieces. You can't possibly lay down all those small pieces using a big iron. You WILL burn yourself (I know this from experience).

4. You will need some type of applique pressing sheet. Make sure you don't get the brown one as you will need to be able to see through it when you lay the placement diagram undernieth it. You cannot do without this item.

5. Use good sharp right to the point, spring-loaded scissors. I did my first block with regular scissors and my hand ached the next day. You will need good blades on the scissors to get good detail. I really like the fiscars scissors in the picture.

6. Get some iron cleaner to get the fusible webbing off your iron. Everyone has accidents :)

7. I use only Sew Art Invisible Nylon Monofilament thread. It comes in clear and smoke. Use the smoke on the dark areas you are appliqueing and the clear everywhere else. I will not use any other brand of nylon monofilament thread. It is the strongest, has the least shine and is recommended by both McKenna Ryan and Harriet Hargrave (good enough for me). Cheaper brands will yellow and break with age. As for polyester monofilament I use only Sulky or YLI; but, polyester has more shine than nylon so it's not as invisible.

8. Use Microtex 60/8 needles to applique with the monofilament thread. They have a sharp small point and they leave the smallest hole in the applique thus giving a neater finish. If you can't get Microtex Sharpes use Universal 60/8 needles.

9. Always "hollow out" you fusible webbing pieces before you put them onto the back on the fabric. When you are doing this type of design you will have many overlapping pieces and some of them will be very large. If you have multiple solid layers on top of each other your blocks will become stiff and be able to stand up by themselves. I put a sample of a "hollowed out" piece in the picture. You can see the fusible web on the back of the fabric; notice how the fusible only extends about 1/2" to 3/4" into the center of the block? This will make your quilt much softer.

10. Take your time choosing your fabrics!!! Fabric choice is everything in these quilts. There are so many beautiful batiks and hand-dyed fabrics out there that there is no reason to settle for something. Audition many different fabrics and have fun with it. Also, never buy your border fabrics until your quilt top is ready. I have never stayed with my first choice or even McKenna Ryan's choices. :) Let the centre of the quilt tell you what should be on the borders.

11. I quilt the quilt and applique at the same time. Yes I know that sounds daunting; but, What I do is fuse down all the pieces, sew the quilt top together, layer the quilt sandwich and then quilt and appliqe the quilt at the same time. I free-motion quilt 1/16" inside each and every applique piece. I have found that when I applique separately I was quilting over the same lines again and that felt like I was wasting my time. It is a bit harder to maneuver the whole quilt but if you take breaks and don't rush you will be fine.

12. I generally use 50 wt or 60 wt 100% cotton thread in the bobbin. I really like cotton but many people like polyester. The choice is yours.

13. Use machine quilting gloves. I really like Machingers. They give you greater accuracy when you quilt and your fingers won't get as tired.

I hope that you enjoyed this! If you have any questions please feel free to post a comment. I may have forgotten to add something that might help you.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Spray Basted Quilt

This is the quilt that I spray basted today (with 505 Spray and Fix; it is the only one that I will use for quilts). I made the top probably about a month ago. It is a gift for a very good friend of mine. It is really simple but I think that it is nice; just a simple 4-patch 1-patch. It is 72" x 92". I think that I will machine quilt it with some nice undulating feathers. She is coming to visit next weekend so I'd better get cracking if I am going to finish it before she gets here.

Thank you all for your really nice comments about the flying geese quilt. I really love the comments! I am going to try and baste it this weekend and maybe that will make me come up with some ideas about how to quilt it. Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Flying Geese Top Finished

Here it is the finished flying geese top!! I went with my original fabric for the sashing (cut on the lengthwise grain) and I think that it worked really well. Notice the corners? This is a great way to finish your quilt borders when you don't have enough border fabric. I cut 2" squares and added a border; then, I cut the remaining border fabric (on the lengthwise grain) then added units of the 2' squares until I had enough to finish the borders. I think that the little 2" cut squares gives the quilt a lot of interest and movement. It is also a great way to use up those little scraps of fabric that get stashed away and we do nothing with. What do you think?
I now have used up most of the fabric I purchsed in this fabric line and I have just enough set aside to bind the two quilts I did out of the remainders. Now if I could just make several more quilts out of my stash I would be really happy! It was one of my New Years resolutions to use up more of what I had and do less "just because" projects. You know, the projects that you buy the fabric and make a quilt just because. . . you bought the fabric :)

Binding Update

Hello my friend! I'm motoring right along with my St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt quilt.  I took it off the frame a couple days ago and st...