Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"you can't rush art"

There is a line in the movie Toy Story 2 where the artist who is repairing Woody says, "you can't rush art". We've quoted that movie a LOT in our house over the past several years and I feel like that one line sums up this quilt project precisely. In fact, I may have found the title for this quilt!
I started this one to just play with my solid scraps and to do some mindless sewing. It's come a long way from the first blocks. It's taken turns that I didn't plan on and I always enjoy "just see where it goes". But then. THEN! I get to a point in the project where I just want it to be done already. I'm at that point with this quilt. I want it to be done, but I know that it isn't done. I guess I need to learn some patience. And quick! Ha!
See this little strip? It finishes at about 1" wide. This will probably be my favorite part of the whole quilt! I have a small scrap sickness. (I realize that's not news.)
I feel like I've been able to throw off some of my color inhibitions (I actually used brown and hunter green) in this project. In addition to that, I was able to push myself out of my improv box a little bit. Now if I could just find some more sewing time to see this through to completion, I'd be one happy camper. Or sewist. :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

dress up diamond pillow

Do you ever have a stack of fabric that you wonder what to do with, then one day, out of the blue you have a light bulb moment that marries the perfect idea to that stack of fabric? It's a fabulous thing when it happens and it's even better when you find the time to make that idea into a reality. I wish it happened to me on a more regular basis and faster, but you know.... :)
That's kind of what happened with this pillow. I had a cute stack of Wild fabric (by Dear Stella) since May. In July I had a light bulb moment....I could showcase the cute dress me fabric in the center of my diamond pillow pattern. This past Friday I finally sewed it up! It was SUCH a fun project (not to mention quick) and that was exactly what I needed.
The dress up fabric is appliqued on and then top stitched for durability. I worked with purples and violets because my daughter loves those colors and I thought they were a nice compliment to the blues/grays/blacks. I can't tell you how many times I squealed over making these teeny tiny clothes. I had SO much fun playing dress up! But those little heart shorts. Oh Mylanta. They are my favorite!!! My boys wouldn't readily admit it, but I could tell by the look on their faces that they thought they are pretty cute, too. (Shhh. Don't tell!)
When it came time to make the backing, I dug into the stash and unearthed this fabric. I don't have a lot of purple/violet in my stash and I really don't have that many larger cuts, so you can imagine my delight to find this fabric, which was EXACTLY the right length. I love it when that happens! Hurray for using the stash!

I'm so happy to have this one out of the old noggin and sewn up! My daughter saw the finished pillow, scooped it up and gave it a big hug. I'd call that success! I think it goes without saying, but I LOVE how it turned out, too!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Terri's quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
You may or may not know this, but finishing things is a big deal to me. My dad always impressed on me (and my siblings) "if you are going to start something, you need to finish it!" The end. I'm passionate about finishing what I start and sometimes I even adopt other peoples' WIPs and finish them! (No, I'm not offering to finish your WIPs!) :)
This past summer at the annual Gruber's retreat, Terri showed this quilt top that she had pieced a few years ago at that same retreat. Isn't it beautiful??? She was "over it," to use her words, so I offered to finish it. We decided it will be donated to Margaret's Hope Chest. Terri has one less WIP, I busted some stash, worked out a little bit of stress while quilting and I have a finish to share today. Plus, we get to support MHC. Everybody wins!
I pieced the back using larger chunks from my stash. I was able to eek out the backing using the width of fabric. It was close....within a 1/4" in some places, but it worked!
I stippled it using Isacord thread. This is my second time using this thread for quilting and man, it's smooth! I just wish it wasn't so shiny, or I'd use it all the time.
Apple green binding finishes things off. And another quilt is complete! Feels so good!
The quilt measures 42" x 56".

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday! And please, when visiting the blogs from the links below, be kind in your comments. Thank you!

Have a GREAT weekend! xo

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

a few binding tips

I've got a few binding tips and tricks to share with you today. Nothing earth shattering, but sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference! I hope you find them helpful as well.

First off, when attaching the binding to the quilt top, I find it very helpful to wrap the binding around an empty thread spool. I saw this tip somewhere awhile back and I thought "how can that work?" but it really does! When you place the quilt in the machine, just pop the spool of binding next to your spool of thread. The binding doesn't get tangled around the bulk of your quilt, the leg of your chair or anything else when you are sewing it on to the quilt. It's especially helpful on larger quilts. (It's a good thing my spool of thread was almost empty because my spool of binding took up so much room. Hahaha!)
I've been machine binding (some of) my quilts for about 3 years now using the tutorial here. (I can't believe it's been that long!) Here are a few tricks that I've recently discovered that make stitching the binding down on the front *almost* perfect.
After you have attached the binding strip to the back of the quilt, press the binding out/away from the bulk of the quilt. This helps to achieve a nice crisp edge. If I press it first, I find that the fabric behaves much better when I am folding it over onto the front side. It's even hard to put into words what it does, but this little step makes a big difference! I guess you will just have to try it and see!

When you are top stitching the binding down (on the front side) and you are nearing a corner, fold the bottom piece up FIRST as shown in the photo. I like to use a little clover wonder clip to temporarily hold it in place.
THEN, fold the right side in. The mitered corner turns out SO MUCH better with this folding arrangement. (Rather than my previous method, which was folding the right side in first, then folding the bottom up.)
The stitching on the backside is nearly perfect around the corner pivot. That's so satisfying!!! Usually 3 out of 4 of my corners look this good. I'll take it!
And the last thing...I've updated my original binding tutorial (way back from 2008!) to include step by step photos for making a mitered seam when joining the beginning and end of the binding strips. Boy, THAT was way overdue!

Monday, September 08, 2014


My oldest son turned 14 (four-teen!!!) yesterday. He has wanted a sew together bag for a LONG time and I finally made him one for his birthday in his signature colors, orange and gray.
This is the 4th sew together bag that I've made to date and I have another one in progress at the moment. They are time consuming and I almost ALWAYS break a needle toward the final stages of assembly, but they are so worth it! Pattern is available for purchase here.
There are plenty of spaces to fill, which appeals to my trinket-loving boy. He immediately filled it with some special Legos. I love that he is so excited about something hand made from his mama.
My husband remarked that my outfit matched my sewing project. It is funny, because that seems to happen all. the. time. (Does that happen to you, too? Or is it just me?)

This is scrap project #85/101!

We had absolutely gorgeous weather here over the weekend and fall is definitely in the air. I started a new knitting project that I've wanted to try for a LONG 6 or 7 years! I'm attempting to make some felted bowls using a free pattern from hither and yarn.
So far, so good! I've been knitting socks on size 2 needles, so knitting on size 9 needles feels like coloring with giant crayons. It's been fun to start (what should be) a quick project. I'm hoping it turns out as good as it is in my head. I'll keep you posted!

Also, thank you so much for all the sweet comments on my 5 year finish! I sure appreciate it! :)

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, September 05, 2014

a long time coming

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

This quilt has been a LONG time in the making...over 5 years! And it ended being a baby size. Ha! At one point it had larger borders on it (although I was never completely happy with them) and I had even pieced a backing for it. Needless to say, this is one of those quilts that changed directions many times. It happens! And I'm very happy with how it ended up.
The other day I was showing my husband the quilt top and he suggested that I chop off some of the borders and finish it up as a baby quilt for our friends. It was definitely the right decision! I will use the backing that I pieced before for the front of a different quilt. (More quilting. Hurray!)

The half square triangles finish at 2" and were cut using my GO! baby cutter. My kids even got in on the cutting action. (I love it when they help with that part!) The go baby cuts off the dog ears from the HSTs before you even sew, which makes piecing that many tiny triangles tolerable. It's intense, but I love the look!
I pieced a new backing from my stash (I LOVE it!!!) and started stippling. It wasn't looking good, so after 10 minutes of quilting and 2+ hours of ripping, I decided to quilt it as originally planned with a cross hatch. It turned out much better!
I've had this striped fabric sitting in my stash for years. It almost hurt to cut into it, but I knew it was meant to be...I could NOT have found a better match. I do love a striped binding!
The quilt measures 41" x 53". I'm happy to count it as scrap project #84/101!

(I so badly want to make another version of this quilt using modern fabrics. Wouldn't that be FUN???)

Finishing feels good. Finishing an old WIP feels GREAT!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

one way to make an ironing board cover

Over the weekend I recovered my ironing board. It seems like I always wait so long, and then when I finally get around to it, I kick myself for putting it off. (Same thing happens with my dull rotary cutter blades. I'm sure I'm not the only one, right?)
This is the before...just for a point of reference. It was actually worse in person. (Gross, I know.) Anyway....I know I could go out and just buy a new one, but they never fit quite right and the fabric selection is usually lame. I had plenty of supplies on hand (ahem) and it was a good Saturday morning project. I'm quite pleased with the results! I took photos along the way, so I could share the instructions with you, too.

Supplies needed:
-1 3/4 yards fabric** (I used quilting cotton, but a home dec or light canvas weight would also work)
-scrap batting (enough for 2-3 layers)
-4 1/2 yards of double fold binding*
-3 yards of 1/4" elastic
-basic sewing supplies

*double fold binding is basic quilt binding. I cut my strips 2.5" wide, joined them together end to end, then folded it in half lengthwise and pressed. If you need more extensive binding instructions, please see this tutorial.

**the fabric shown is Fly a Kite by October Afternoon for Riley Blake (2012)

Cut a layer (or two) of batting using your ironing board top as a template. I used two layers because while my batting is lofty, it's not super thick and I want my ironing board to be nicely padded.
This is a great way to use up batting scraps! If you have smaller batting pieces, simply zig zag a few together to make the pieces longer.
Cut another layer of batting, but this time let it drape off the sides a few inches. Set the batting aside.
Take the main fabric and cut it lengthwise, then trim off the selvage edge. It should measure about 20" x 63". You can save the other half for another ironing board cover some day, or you could share it with a friend.
Place the fabric on the floor, right side down and then place the ironing board on top of the fabric.
Measure and mark  2.75" from all of the edges of the ironing board. By the way, I love my Clover fine tip water soluble marker. It works perfectly for this!
Cut it out using a sharp scissors/and or a rotary cutter. (I did some of each.)
Now we will add the binding. Take the double fold binding strip and pin it to the bottom edge of the main fabric. In the photo the top pin is near the center mark. The bottom pin is where you will start sewing.
Use a 1/4" seam allowance and sew the binding to the main fabric. Take your time going around the curved edges. You will need to leave a tail at the beginning and the end of the piece. Once you sew around the final curve, back stitch and cut the threads.
You should have a loose tail at each end.
Trim the ends so they overlap by 1/2". Open up the strips, then sew the ends together using a 1/4" seam. Finger press the seams open.
Fold the strip in half once again. Take it back to the sewing machine and stitch the remaining section down using a 1/4" seam allowance. The binding strip should now be fully attached to the main fabric.
Finger press the edges, rolling the fabric back and forth to make a nice crisp edge.
Top stitch the entire piece.
Since your are sewing around curves, the binding will kind of stand up in certain places. It's ok. No worries!
Working on the bottom edge once again, place two pins about 2" apart. This will be the starting and stopping points of the second seam.
Sew on the inside edge of the binding. This will create a casing for the elastic. Back stitch at the beginning and the end of the seams.
When you are sewing, you will have to gather/pleat around the curves. It doesn't have to look pretty, since it will be hidden inside. Just make sure that you sew several small pleats as needed, not one big unruly one.
Use a safety pin to thread the elastic through the casing. This will take awhile.
 Gather the fabric as you work.
Once you get the elastic all the way though, distribute the gathers as evenly as possible. Make sure neither of the tail ends retract into the casing.
Place the layers of batting on top of the ironing board, then place the cover over all the layers. Tie the elastic and trim the excess tail ends, if necessary.
Tuck the ends inside. This is my favorite part about making my own. No awkward Velcro strips, no loose ends or strings dangling. Everything is neat and tidy and hidden. Hurray!
It looks pretty dandy on the back....and on the front!
I think it's time to break it in! The kids started school today, so it's perfect timing.

Speaking of my kids...they didn't want me to take first day of school photos at all, but were ok with it once I said I wouldn't post them here or on Instagram. It kind of makes me sad, but I can also understand where they are coming from. They started grades 8, 6 and 3. I can't believe it! On the other hand, helloooooo sewing time! :)

Happy Monday to you!