Review: Annie’s Soft and Stable

A while back a bag pattern called for “foam interfacing” and I had NO IDEA what that was. Luckily, the folks at my local quilt shop DID know!  They sold me Annie’s Soft and Stable and it has worked out very well!

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

The bag above was the one that initially required foam interfacing.  I used the foam interfacing again recently, when I made a new version of the Market Tote from Bijou Lovely.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Finished Bird Bag

It worked just as well on the larger bag as it had on the smaller one.  It gives the bag lots of structure with little weight.

The very BEST part was making handles with foam interfacing rather than the usual turn-the-tube method!  I just cut strips of foam interfacing, wrapped them with fabric (turning under the last edge), and sewed three straight lines–one down the middle of the handle to close the fabric and one about 1/4″ from each edge of the handle as decorative top-stitching.  It made comfortable, sturdy handles for the bag. Definitely making handles that way in the future!

There are several other brands of foam interfacing, including a couple (from the reliable Pellon company) that are fusible.  It also comes in more than one thickness.  I haven’t really tried any of the other brands, but this one worked out well.

A Few Studio Upgrades

I have a great quilt studio with natural light and plenty of storage, but of course there’s always room for improvement!  For starters, I was given a robot vacuum cleaner for Christmas!

It runs on Friday mornings while I quilt, and I’ve pretty well learned what I need to block off or get out of the way so that it runs without glitches.  It’s great to have “somebody else” cleaning the floor while I sew 🙂

A while back, I got tired of having my main rulers “lost” on the cutting table all the time. You probably know what I mean–always under the fabric, looking for the big one but find the little one, etc.  I didn’t want one of those ruler racks taking up space on my table, so I finally settled on attaching hooks to the sides of the table.

quilt studio hacks

Hanging rulers from the side of the cutting table means I can always find them

The hooks have worked out well!  For some reason, the manufacturer (these are Command hooks) thinks the hooks need to flip up and down, so they have tape over the part that would flip.  However, they seem to stick to the table just fine, and now I always know where to find my rulers!

My final “upgrade” is a new rotary cutter.  I’ve been looking at the Martelli Ergo cutter for some time, wondering if it really is easier on the hands and wrists.  Finally, one of my friends bought one and confirmed that it really does make cutting easier.  She is left-handed, so was especially glad that it comes in a design specifically for lefties.

I bought one of my own, and II agree that this is much easier to use than any of my standard rotary cutters. It makes for less strain on (aging???) joints and better control while cutting.  I can recommend this cutter without reservation.

What’s new in your studio?

 

Giving Kraft-Tex a (Second) Chance

I made a couple of bags using Kraft-Tex for a sturdy bottom section a while back, and wasn’t that happy with it.  My review is here, if you want to read it.

Kraft-Tex review

Tote bag made with Kraft-Tex for the bottom section

However, when I got some lovely bird fabric in a guild swap, I decided to make another tote bag and use Kraft-Tex to protect the bottom again. I pre-washed the Kraft-Tex to soften it a little, then crumpled it in my hands to soften it a little more.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Since I didn’t really want the thick Kraft-Tex in the seams, the shortage worked out OK

I had BARELY enough for a shorter-than-recommended bottom section, but it worked out fine.  I used the same pattern as before, the Market Tote which is free at Bijou Lovely.

Market Tote from Bijou LovelyAs you can see, I had some beautiful birds-in-the-grass fabric (a Moda print) for the inside.

Kraft-Tex for tote bagI used a buttonhole stitch to secure the top edge of the Kraft-Tex.  Overall, the Kraft-Tex was much easier to use this time.  It makes a sturdy bottom for the bag, is washable, and presumably will wear better than a plain fabric bottom.

As before, the Market Bag tutorial was very well done and easy to follow.  The only change I made was to revise the way the bottom was attached so that I didn’t have Kraft-Tex in the seams; that would have been quite bulky.  I laid the Kraft-Tex on the top fabric and secured the edges with buttonhole stitch just inside the seamline, so it wasn’t necessary to have Kraft-Tex in the seams to hold it in place.  That worked a lot better.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Finished Bird Bag

In other words, I am now revising my opinion of Kraft-Tex and probably will use it for this purpose again!  It still does’t really look like leather to me, but in this case that isn’t the point.

QuiltCon Charity Quilt

The Modern Quilt Guild of Franklin (NC) has been working on this quilt designed by Sarah Overton of My Crowded Nest.  It is paper-pieced octagons,and the paper piecing certainly has helped it go together more smoothly with so many different people working on it.franklin-quilt-1

Several people took papers and fabric home to do a row at first, then we all met several times to put the rows together.franklin-quilt-3

We were working from a plan, but color placement was still a challenge!franklin-quilt-4

Of course the colors were chosen by the national MQG, but we added a few prints to liven things up.franklin-quilt-2

And finally, the top is done!franklin-quilt-6

It’s going to be quilted by Andrea Walker, so I’ll be sure to show a picture of the final quilt when it’s done.  After QuiltCon, it will be donated to our local hospice.

Guild Challenges, Part I

When I volunteered to arrange programs for one of my modern guilds this year, I didn’t realize the job included coming up with a challenge each month.  Luckily, there were lots of ideas for guild challenges in internet-world, so the challenges weren’t too much of a challenge.  (Sorry, that just slipped in!)

I thought it might be helpful to other modern guilds if I posted our proposed challenges, since I’m sure other folks are in need of ideas, too.  So here’s the first one: slabs.  If you don’t know what a slab quilt block is, Canadian quilter Cheryl Arkison published the idea in her book Sunday Morning Quilts.  You can see a picture and instructions here.

modern quilt challenge

Slabs can be addictive!  And a quilt of many colors is fun.

In January, each member received brief instructions on how to make a “slab” of a single color of the rainbow.  Sort of.  While trying to figure out how to set up the rainbow challenge, I found this quote from Isaac Asimov (one of my heroes):

It is customary to list indigo as a color lying between blue and violet, but it has never seemed to me that indigo is worth the dignity of being considered a separate color. To my eyes it seems merely deep blue.

So our colors for the challenge are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.  Seems like the main value of indigo and violet is that they let us spell out ROY G BIV.  Huh.

Our slabs are 15-1/2 inches square, to be 15 inch finished blocks.  Each person makes one in her assigned color, then can make as many others as she wants in as many of the six basic colors as she wants.  At the next meeting, we’ll put all our slabs in a pile and each person’s name will go in a basket once for each block she turns in.  Then we’ll draw a name and somebody gets all the blocks.  Of course she’s expected to make something wonderful with those blocks before the next meeting!

I e-mailed examples of slab quilts to guild members as part of the challenge and also took some of my quilts to show.

slab quilt

Jerri Szlizewski combined her purple slabs with neutral slabs, then appliqued purple dots on the neutral backgrounds

Improvised slab quilt

I cut up the yellow-orange slabs I got in a swap and inserted blue

Does your modern guild have some great challenge ideas?  Let me know!  I’ll be posting about our other challenges as we go along so you can use them, too.

 

QuiltCon, Anyone?

QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Guild’s annual gathering, will be in Savannah in February 2017, and I am going!mqg-new-logo

I recently read an interesting blog by Becca Fenstermaker about how to deal with a convention when you’re an introvert.  Believe it or not, that would be me, so I plan to use her idea.

Becca’s main suggestion was to start ahead of time and try to find people who will be attending, so you’ll have somebody to visit with when you get there.

Fortunately, there will be several people from at least two of my guilds, but of course the point is meeting new people as well as visiting with old friends.  So if you’re going, please leave me a note in the comments–I’d like to met you!

Meanwhile, I’ve made two more clusters of sweet pea pods.  The pattern is well illustrated and the directions easy to follow 🙂

Hope you have a good week!

A Cute Apron and a Pattern Review

Kitchen apron

Photo courtesy of Indygo Junction

My husband recently discarded some shirts, so I was interested to see this “Kitchen Shirt Tales” pattern from Indygo Junction.

It looked pretty simple, and I’ve made dozens of aprons over the years, but I decided it was worth the money to buy the pattern rather than having to figure it out on my own.  The pattern was downloadable, which added to the appeal–instant gratification!

I was pleased with the way the apron came out, but only because I abandoned the instructions part way through construction.

The instructions were MUCH too complex for a simple garment like this.  For example, rather than providing a pattern for the garment in different sizes (if, indeed, one needs a choice of sizes for an apron), the instructions were to measure yourself and then derive the cutting lines through a rather complex formula. After figuring out these measurements, you were instructed to draw the curve for cutting out the top by connecting the measurements..  I did get it drawn just fine, but  it would have been so much simpler to just have a pattern piece for cutting out the main body of the apron!

As you can see below, the apron looked just fine on two of my colleagues who are different sizes.

At this point, the instructions became confusing and there were VERY few illustrations.  I usually do pretty well with verbal instructions, but the most commercial patterns have a drawing for each step for a reason.

This pattern would need many, many more drawings to be clear.  I quit the instructions at that point and made the rest up as I went along.

I still think it is a great idea to recycle a shirt into an apron, and this is cute the way it came out.  The pattern, however, could be greatly improved by the addition of a pattern piece for cutting and many additional illustrations.

Finished! In 2016

First, the Christmas tree picture with fireplace was at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, N.C. That fireplace is big enough for a man to stand up in. Hopefully when there’s no fire.

And now, the 2016 finishes.

Asheville Quilt Show

Scan Me, a quilt made to promote safer sex.

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss won a blue ribbon.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler Quilt

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest this year

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

Loes Hinse blouse

Blouse from a Loes Hinse pattern, in Cherrywood fabrics

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks placemats, made in class with Karen Combs

Sweetpea Pod pattern review

These Sweetpea Pod bags were so fun that I made a LOT of them!

And, of course, the quilts for Ronald McDonald House:

Happy new year, and may you have a great year of quilts in 2017!

Slabs, Round 2

Cheryl Arkison is one of several people to suggest putting together scraps of the same color to make a quilt block (or fabric from which to cut quilt pieces).  Cheryl calls hers “slabs” and makes them big–15 inches square finished.Mary J Puckett quilt

Above is the quilt I made from a slab swap with one of my quilt groups a couple of years ago.  I had asked for slabs made from the yellow/orange family, and I loved what I got.  But I’m not one to leave well enough alone, so I cut them up and made the quilt shown above.

A relative-who-will-remain-nameless looked through my quilts online and asked for something similar, but in a larger size.

I’ve had fun collecting orange and yellow fabrics.  My friend Linda donated a large bag of orange “scraps”; I felt free to ask her since she claims to hate orange 😀  Then she brought me a big cut of solid orange to go with the scraps!

slab quilt

Linda even found an orange patterned bag to put her scraps in!

The rest came from my stash and from a few things I bought while travelling.  I improvised the squares, featuring a few funky fabrics in each one from the fabrics I bought especially for this quilt.

Then I used Moda Bella Amelia Blue to sash each square and cut the sashing so they are all wonky.  Each will finish 18″ square with sashing.orange4

This one will be big enough that it will need to go to the long-arm quilter.  I’ll have more pictures when it’s finished.

Meanwhile, how are those holiday projects coming along?