I’ve finished postage stamp block #4.
I like this block a lot — it’s got all sorts of fun fabrics in it.
Here’s a look at how all four of the finished blocks look together:
Usually, I would wait until the end to figure out their final placement and sew them together, but with this quilt, I’m thinking of sewing them together as I go along. The idea of looking at all 20 blocks and all those seams makes me want to cry. What do you all think?
I recently started reading the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog. In poking through the archives, I found this list of Reader Submitted Sewing Tips, which includes all sorts of helpful hints. One in particular (submitted by someone named Debbie) caught my attention, as it’s relevant to a conversation Lyn and I were having recently:
Being a newbie, I was always pulling tangled messes out of the wash
until I started just clipping the corners of the fabric before washing it.
It wonâ€™t fray and itâ€™s quick and painless.
I never knew that. I’ve frowned at my share of frayed fat quarters and (especially) fat eighths. I’m going to try Debbie’s tip the next time I have fabric to wash — I’ll report back on how it works.
The rest of the reader’s tips are well worth reading, there are all sorts of good ideas in there.
I’ve finally begun cutting fabric for my next project, which will be a simple (but colorful) attic windows quilt. I cut out the strips for all the window sills and sides, but haven’t notched off the corners yet. This quilt is simple, but will give me loads of practice with set-in seams. The squares (windows) are going to be 12×12 and the quilt will be 5 blocks by 5 blocks. And I’ll probably have a border or two. So lap-quilt sized, which is my favorite size quilt to make.
In other quilting news, I saw this neat idea for how to piece/make backing for a quilt over on the LJ quilting group.
When I have to seam backing, I get my two pieces cut and put them right sides together. I sew with a 1/2 inch seam allowance with a very narrow tight zigzag on both sides to make a big tube. When it’s all sewn up I nip the middle of one of the 44 inch pieces and rip it in half so the seams get distributed evenly without any annoying measuring and cutting. I press the seams open and I’m done.
An LJ user, opheliaspins, posted in the quilting community there that she’s beginning a charm quilt and is in need of pink scraps. She’s looking for 2000-3000 distinct pink patterns — I’m going to use her request as an excuse to paw through my stash a bit and send a few off to her.
I’ve been thinking more and more of late that I may want my next major project (after the current one) to be a scrappy quilt. Not a charm quilt–as that’s much too ambitious–but I want an excuse to use a whole bunch of different fabrics in a quilt — but in a way that is still coherent and conveys a theme of some sort.
I had a day off from work the other day and drove up to the Jinny Beyer shop — her fabrics are so amazing I’m always inspired when I’m in that shop, I bought a few fat-eighths — for no particular purpose. One of them was a set of all of the fabrics in her fabric line “County Clare.” I’m hoping they’ll give me some inspiration when I spread them out on my quilting table and begin thinking about my fall project.
Unfortunately, I won’t get to that project unless I start making some progress on my summer project, though! The weather (well, sunlight) has been so nice that I haven’t been wanting to spend much time in the basement.
Teresa over at Making Light summarizes some recent unfortunate happenings regarding a knitting community and a “Socks Club.” In brief, from Majikthise:
Blue Moon Fiber Arts woman-owned small business of great renown in the among the knitting cognoscenti has been retroactively refused credit card order processing for its Rockinâ€™ Socks Club. (Itâ€™s like the fruit of the month club for people who crave enough hand-painted yarn to knit a pair socks.)
The officials in the bank, apparently, could not wrap their brains around the fact that people might want to spend money on yarn and join a socks club. So, they not only refused to process any additional orders, they refunded a bunch of money. I’m with Teresa on this — there is rank sexism at work here:
I donâ€™t think theyâ€™d have done it to a group of men. Imagine, ludicrously, a bunch of female bankers deciding to cancel the credit card charges and refund the money of hundreds of men whoâ€™d subscribed to the Fishing Lure of the Month Club, on the grounds that there canâ€™t possibly be that many people out fishing on a regular basis. Personally, I canâ€™t imagine it at all. Why not? Because stupid women donâ€™t wind up running banks! You have to be male and have the right social background to be entrusted with a job like that when youâ€™re too stupid to pour piss out of a boot that has the instructions printed on the bottom.
I’ve been working on a new system for organizing my fabric, inspired by Quiltville’s scrap user’s system. But mine is very scaled down.
I have been going through my stash and organizing it. Anything 6 by 6 or bigger gets folded and stored in a drawer with fat quarters. Anything that is 1.5 to 6 inches by 12 inches or more, gets rolled up and stored in a drawer with strips. Everything else gets cut into the largest sized squares possible, in several pre-determined sizes. I keep these squares in drawers, organized like this:
Drawer 1: 1.5 inch squares
Drawer 2: 2.5 inch squares (with 2 inch squares in a large ziplock bag)
Drawer 3: 3.5 inch squares
Drawer 4: 4.5 inch squares
The cool thing about this is that I can easily combine the squares to make standard sized blocks — for example, one 4.5 inch and four 2.5 inch squares equal one 6 inch block. I can go right to the drawers and start pulling out fabrics.
Which is exactly what I did last weekend. I needed to make an 8 inch square for a swap. I decided to make a sawtooth star block, and Lyn was nice enough to calculate the measurements for me, so I was able to go right to my drawers and choose squares in all the right sizes. It was great. And you can see how scrappy and wonderful it turned out:
It’s actually square in real life — I took the picture in a hurry. Because I didn’t have to worry about cutting a little of this fabric and a little of that one, my choices were not constrained by the effort involved in cutting. I could really focus on the fabrics I wanted, so I picked 10 different fabrics for this one little square. The sewing was a snap. I made the whole thing (including fabric selection) in 45 minutes!!!
This was such a satisfying experience, and it demonstrated (to me) the effectiveness of my new system — and reassured me that it was worth the effort of going through my stash and all my scraps to get the new system up and running.
I have a tote bag full of scraps that are in the “to be processed stage.” Every now and then I iron a few of them and cut them. I hope to be through them by the end of the year, but that is looking increasingly unlikely. Once that is done, I plan to maintain the system by sorting all my scraps into the FQ drawer, the strip drawer, or a square drawer as I work through my projects — so that I’ll never have a scrap backlog again.
That’s the future. For now, there’s a system and a plan in place, and now I know it works — how cool is that?
I posted a while ago about the box of scraps I won in an eBay auction. It arrived a few days ago, and it is even more awesome than I anticipated.
The box was bulging when I got it, and when I opened it, fabric sprang out — it was compressed so tightly into the box. There was no way I could have put the fabric back in — which was unfortunate, because I opened it in my car! There are at least 60 different fabrics in there, ranging in size from 1×45 inch strips to 1/2 yard cuts. It’s a treasure trove for a scrap quilter.
I washed it all, and I’m working my way through it, cutting pieces for my postage stamp quilt, and cutting standard-sized squares and strips from all the smaller pieces, as suggested by the article on using scraps that I posted previously.
As I mentioned below, I *heart* scraps! But they are messy. So I read Scrap User’s System with great interest. I don’t have the space or the need for such an elaborate implementation, but the basic approach is quite appealing!
I did a little bit of re-arranging of my quilting space this week. I forgot to get a ‘before’ picture, but below is the ‘after’ picture. In the corner where those two sets of shelves are used to be a very old rickety desk with an equally rickety ‘hutch’ on top that had no back. There was a lot of unusable space. I realized that things were starting to get crowded and were just ending up in unusable piles, so, a trip to Ikea was in order!
While I was travelling a couple of weekends ago, TheGuy made the trip for me and assembled the shelves. Yay! When I got back, I moved the shelves into place and started re-organizing. I now have a better way to keep track of books, magazines, and catalogs, and a lot more shelfspace to store things on. I think it’s a good step forward.
In actual quilting news, I started working on a kit I bought from Jinny Beyer several months ago: Mini Palette Kit. It has a small piece of each fabric in her palette. Once it’s finished I’m going to hang it somewhere in my quilting space to use as a reference. Anyway, here are the new shelves:
Hancock’s of Paducah, which puts out a great catalog, is having a year-end sale giving people 20% off orders before December 31st. Just search on the item number “THANKS” and add it to your shopping cart. I just stocked up on a bit of a batting and bought two new cutting mats (mine is pretty worn out - 2 years old!).
As for my projects- I’ve pieced together the top of the Christmas quilt and added a thin red border. I’m going to use green as a backing fabric and as a fat border on it, but I don’t have the fabric yet - need to order it from Jinny Beyer. Once that top is done, though, I’ll probably set it aside for awhile before finishing it.
I’ve got the fabrics for the little quilt codenamed “Neuro” that will be my next project. There are fishies! I’ll do some pics of the fabric soon. It will be a very simple pattern, like so:
Picture little fishies swimming in each of the blank blocks on a seascape kind of background. The quilt will be about 30 inches by 30 inches when finished.
Several weeks ago Wendy mentioned on her site that she was looking for scraps for a quilt that, if I recall correctly, her mother is working on. I finally took some time to go through my scrap box and came up with a bunch 2-3×2-3 inch squares. Not as many as I’d thought I might find, but between 45 and 50. Hopefully they will be helpful.
Hancock’s of Paducah put some of their Christmas fabric on sale this month, so of course I had to buy some. I decided to get some of this and this.
Those were sale items. And then I was browsing around and saw this and had to have some.
No idea what I’ll use these for, but they’re pretty!
I’ve made several purses and bags out of high quality “quilt” type cottons, and I’ve faced the same challenge with them all: adding body to the purse without adding a lot of weight and/or stiffness. I want the bag to stand upright, without being artifically stiff. This means I have to add interfacing of some sort, otherwise the bag would just flop over.
The best solution I’ve found is to use a medium-weight cotton woven fabric (which I buy super cheap whenever I see it onsale — I never pay more than $2.50 a yard for it), to which I fuse a heavy interfacing. I sandwhich this interfacing/fabric piece between the outer fabric and the lining of the bag. This creates a nice balance of weight, stiffness and flexibility that wears well.
The best interfacing I’ve found for this is Pellon 65. I can sew through it, although I do switch to a denim needle when I’m sewing through more than one layer of it.
For the Flying Diaper Bag, I used an interfacing called Shade Fuse (that I cannot find on-line) that is designed for use in making lampshades. It is really stiff. Too stiff. I had intended to do a lot of top-stitching on that bag, but I couldn’t because even with a denim needle I could not sew through two layers of the fusible/fabric pieces. I have some left that I will probably use on some parts of future bags, but I don’t plan to use it for a whole bag again.
I have been using my zipper foot for quilting, with the feed dogs covered (using the cover that came with my button hole attachment).
I have several unidentified feet for my machine, and I’m trying to determine if one of them is a walking foot. The only problem is that I don’t know what a walking foot looks like. So I googled up a few. I found several for sale on the internet, including exhibit A, exhibit B and exhibit C (which has the benefit of being marketed for the Featherweight 221).
All of these look very strange to me, and none look quite like anything I have. What sort of walking foot should I be looking for?
My sewing machine is old and limited — it doesn’t do anything fancy. It doesn’t even zig-zag. It sews straight lines forward and straight lines backward and nothing more.
And I love it to pieces.
It’s a Featherweight 221. Based on its serial number, it was manufactured on September 16, 1946 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I’ve been in love with this sewing machine my whole life — it once belonged to my great aunt, and then to my Mom. I think it’s beautiful, but more than that it is durable, hard working and trustworthy. I don’t normally obsess about material objects in this way, but this sewing machine is special. It is very high on the list of things I would try to save if my house were on fire.
I need natural light to photograph it better, but here’s a peek at the gorgeous art deco face plate: