Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soaking up some summer

before it ends, which means I'm taking a bit of a  blog break.

See you in September!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What happens when your sewing machine is MIA?

Saturday, I finally took my sewing machine to the local dealership in for a bit of TLC.  Long overdue for a kindly check-up and cleaning.   I'm going to sound silly admitting how hard it was for me to hand her over.   She's been my faithful companion in all my sewing projects over the past 19 years and she's my first machine.  Hearing that I wouldn't see her again for at least a week made these creative fingers a bit twitchy.  She's more than earned a week off and I knew that to satisfy my creative impulses during her hiatus, I'd have to tackle other disciplines (read: finish up some other projects...  Sewing is my first love, but not my only creative pursuit).  Needlepoint is one other love that has my attention this week.

I have been working on this project on and off over the years.  It may have been a kit, but at the time I inherited the unworked canvas, the yarn wasn't with it.  Instead, I have acquired the tapestry yarn for it in fruitful forays at thrift stores.  Of course this meant it took time to find the colours I needed.  This spring I managed to find enough skeins to work the background, so I can finally finish it.

This particular piece of needlepoint is extra special as it belonged to my beloved great-grandmother.  She was talented in several needle arts - sewing, crochet, tatting, needlepoint, rug hooking and she passed on her love of needlecrafts to me. When I was a young girl, she taught me hand sewing, crochet and needlepoint.  I do regret I didn't learn tatting from her experienced hands before she died.  I can remember her sitting in her old rocker with her tatting shuttle nimbly forming intricate loops and knots of the most beautiful lace as she rocked.  Her hands knew the motions intuitively, so that even if she nodded off, the shuttle kept at its work only to pause if an error was made.  Eyes closed, she would undo the error and resume her rhythmic rocking and tatting.

Right now, I'm appreciative of the meditative aspect my needle point allows.  Time to dream, to plan and time to remember the wonderful woman that started me on my creative path all those years ago.  With my hands and mind so happily occupied, I'm not missing my machine quite as keenly. ;o)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Closer, thanks to a friend that lives far away

Do you remember my quilt made from charm squares?  Well, when I asked for input on how I should proceed, I also received a most generous offer from my sweet friend, Nicolette.  Amazingly, she also had purchased the exact charm pack years ago and said she could send me some of hers so that I could make my quilt larger.  Grateful, I accepted her kind offer.

A week ago, the charms from Nicolette arrived.  Excited as I was, imagine my surprise in finding even more in that packet.   She sent me some divine linen (it's so much finer than what I have been working with - it's as soft as a dream...) and she included the most adorable fabric die cuts.  Cute puppies, kitties, birds and hearts.  I can't decide if they will become fabric cards or be used in a quilt. 

Thank you, Nicolette!

I used all but one of the charms from Nicolette for the quilt top.  The last charm was incorporated into the piece-y strip (it's in the foreground of the above photo) I sewed for the quilt back.

This is where I'm currently at with my quilt.  It's pinned (my least favourite part in the whole process of quilting) and awaits my decision on how I will machine quilt it.  I'm trying to stretch myself with each quilt I make.  The easiest fastest default way to quilt this would be to stipple it, but I'm not going to.  I'm working on coming up with a free motion design that will be light, airy and dainty (trying to keep in mind the scale and delicate prints used in the quilt). That's the hope anyways. Fingers crossed.  At least I'm much closer to finishing this.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Winging it

I love making gifts. Figuring out what to make sometimes is the hardest part. I always strive to make something I know will be liked, made use of and enjoyed. The best part about handmade gift making is making it memorable (whether it's with a special fabric or a unique stitching detail) - something you won't find in mass produced items.
This time around, I was making a gift for a little girl. I decided she might like a doll quilt and with no pattern in mind, I came up with this.

Not only did I "wing it" with the pattern design, I did the same with the quilting...

hearts in a row and flowers all over

one large flower, loop de loops and a small space of straight line quilting.

The quilting designs just developed as I moved from block to block.

The whole process was fun and this definitely fits the "one-of-a-kind" description. It's not a work of perfection, but it's not meant to be.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Easy-Peasy Baby Quilt

I'm taking a chance sharing this online before this gift reaches its new home but I'm willing to guess that the new momma isn't online as much these days. Hopefully, I'm not spoiling her surprise... but then again she doesn't even know I made her babe something.
Let me start off by saying that the finished quilt looks nothing like the kit directed. I was kinda bored by the way the original looked... so I completely changed the design, added some fabrics from my stash and did my own thing. Of course, I'm not saying what I came up with is more complicated. No, this is a really easy design. It's a big fabric square surrounded by little squares. Simple, right?

Now, because I changed the kit's design, I didn't have enough of the kit fabric to finish the backing. What's a girl to do? Add in a strip of squares from the front of the quilt!

The thing I really like about this baby quilt is that I've combined different textures. There's corduroy, flannel and some quilting cotton to mix things up.

I kept the quilting simple, too. Stipple quilt the heck out of the central flannel square and then "x's" through the smaller squares. Easy-peasy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Patchwork Pyramid (coin) Purse

How about my patchwork version instead of the selvedge version or the printed fabric version to tempt you into using my tutorial?

The only difference from my tutorial is that you need to make two patchwork pieces to make the outside of the bag. From fat quarters, I used two fabrics cut into 1.5" strips to quick piece the checkerboard patchwork. The finished size of each square will be at 6.5" instead of the 6" size given in my tutorial. Just cut your lining to match the new size and you will be fine.

This time I used a 3/8" ribbon for the zipper pull rather than 1".

If you do use my tutorial, I would love to see your version(s). Also, let me know if you have any problems following it. I'm happy to help.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How to sew a coin purse

Materials needed:
Cut two 6" x 6" squares of fabric* (print) for the outside of the coin purse
Cut two 6" x 6" squares of fabric* (solid) for the lining
4" zipper (you can use a longer zip and just cut it shorter for this project)
Cut two 1& 1/2" x 3" rectangles from a coordinating fabric* for covering the ends of the zipper
Cut one piece of 1" ribbon at 3" to make a tab to be sewn into the end of the coin purse
Cut one piece of ribbon at 10" to be tied onto the zipper pull (the width of the ribbon you can use will depend upon the diameter of the hole in your zipper pull. Mine was able to accommodate a 1" ribbon).
You will need the zipper foot for your machine. I also used my walking foot to assemble this - just a personal preference really. You don't actually need to have a walking foot to make this project.
*I used quilting cotton for this coin purse version. Click here to see my selvedge version.
1. Take the two small rectangles (that will be used for covering the zipper) and press the raw edges under 1/4" on each of the short ends.
2. Take the rectangles you prepped in step #1 and fold them in half over each end of the zipper. The fabric will be wider than the zipper tape, but that's good because it will make this step easier. Place the pressed edges close to, but not covering the zipper end stops. Straight stitch across the short edge (through both layers of the fabric and the zipper tape - being mindful of the zipper stops).
Here's what my zipper looked like with both ends now enclosed in fabric. Notice that the fabric is wider than the zipper tape? I cut the fabric a bit wider on purpose as it makes assembly less tricky.
I simply trim the fabric on these tabs to be flush with the edges of the zipper tape.
3. Take the zipper, one square of the outside fabric and lay them together with the fabric right side up and the zipper tape facing right side down. Align the zipper tape along one edge. Pin it in place.
4. Lay one of your lining fabric squares right side down on top of the zipper tape. Pin in place.
5. Using your zipper foot, you will stitch the lining, the zipper and the outside fabric together at the same time. Sew a 1/4" seam and remember to back stitch at the beginning and end of this seam. (It helps to move the zipper pull out of your way as you stitch this seam, so you may open or close the zipper as needed to do this. Just remember to leave your needle in the down position while you maneuver the zipper pull or you will end up with a crooked seam!)
6. Use your iron to press both layers of fabric away from the zipper teeth.
Here's how it will look from the outside....
here's the view from the inside.
7. Repeat steps #3-#6 to attach the zipper and make the opposite side of your coin purse.
Here's how it will look:
8. Using the zipper foot, top stitch a mere 1/8" from the edge of the fabric along the top edge of the fabric used for the outside of the coin purse.
Top stitch along the opposite edge.
9. Right sides together, using a 1/4" seam, stitch the lining together at the bottom of the coin purse (the bottom is the edge that parallels the seam where the zipper is located), leaving an opening in the middle. Stitch in approximately 1&1/2" in from each end - back stitching at start and finish. The middle of this edge is left unsewn so that we can turn the coin purse right side out when we're done. Press the seam allowance open. 10. Right sides together, stitch a 1/4" seam across the bottom of the outside fabric. Press the seam allowance open, as shown below.
11. Take your coin purse by the edge which has your zipper's end stop. Keeping right sides of the fabric to the inside, take the bottom seam of the outside of the bag and line it up with the zipper tape - centering them. Pin in place.
Flip the coin purse over and do the same with the lining. Line up the bottom seam so that it lays on top of the zipper tape. Pin in place. Now you have the outside fabric right sides together and the lining right sides together and their bottom seams stacked on top of each other. The open edge will become one side seam in your coin purse.
Here's how it looks to have the bottom seam aligned on top of the zipper ( the far end in this shot is the end that is pinned and ready to be stitched).
12. Using a 1/4" seam stitch across the open edge that you have pinned all the layers together. Back stitch at start and end. Here's what the seam looks like from the lining side.
13. Take the short length of your ribbon. Fold it in half and baste the short ends together.
Take the unstitched side seam of the coin purse and measure down 1/2" from the top edge of the outside fabric. Pin and then baste the ribbon loop in place - being careful to ONLY attach the ribbon to the outside fabric NOT through the lining.
14. Before stitching this last seam, make sure the zipper is OPEN - you will not be able to turn the coin purse right side out otherwise. Place right sides together (lining with lining and outside fabric with outside fabric), stitch your remaining side seam with a 1/4" seam. Stitch the outside fabric together first, starting at the bottom edge and heading towards the zipper - make sure you push the fabric that encloses the zipper tape towards the lining - do not stitch through this. Back stitch at the start of this seam and again when you reach the edge where the zipper is attached. When you stitch the second half of this side seam (the side the lining comprises), you may find that there's too much bulk at the top of the seam. It's alright if you don't sew the seam completely to the top - as long as you back stitch to secure where you stop. In my example, I did sew all the way to the top, but I think I actually prefer not to. It makes the sewing easier and by not stitching through the tab that encloses the end of your zipper, the corner turns out nicer when you turn everything right side out.

15. Turn your coin purse right side out, using the opening you left in the bottom seam of the lining.
16. Take the 10" length of ribbon and thread both cut ends through the zipper pull, easing the ribbon along until you have made a loop close to the zipper pull.
17. Thread the cut ends of the ribbon through the loop and pull until you have tightened the loop onto the zipper pull.
18. Hand stitch the opening left in the lining.

The coin purse is actually large enough to hold bank cards etc. - not just coins.
***Many thanks to all for the help I received regarding moving photos on Blogger. I couldn't cut and paste or move photos where I wanted until I switched to Html. Your help was much appreciated. It has saved me from ripping out my hair in frustration and saying nasty words to the computer. ;o)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Can you help???

Here I am adding text to the tutorial I promised and just as I'm about to finish I hit the wrong button and delete a very important photo. As you can imagine my tutorial is dependent on the photos and now I've lost one. Ack. What do I do? I can upload the photo to my post, but I can't move the photo to the appropriate place admongst my text - it needs to go at the end NOT the beginning of my tutorial. I use to be able to move photos on my posts- but it's not working. How do I move around photos on Blogger?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm back

online after having our router go down over last weekend. I'd love to spend time catching up with you. Instead, I'll wish you a happy day and save the catching up for tomorrow. Today's a special day in our household and my hubby has taken half the day off work so we can be together. We're off to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I'm still trying to figure out how 20 years passed so quickly. Must have something to do with the man I married. Time flies when you're having fun. ;o)
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