Another Kind of Sewing

A friend and her dog visited recently, and luckily the friend enjoys cooking and sewing as much as I do, so we had a great time.

Australian Cattle Dog

Michele and Cowboy

Unfortunately, I did NOT get pix of all the yummy food.  However, we did make a cover for Cowboy’s portable crate.

Cowboy is a very talented dog but also a very “reactive” one who is curious about anything he can see.  So his portable crate needed a cover to let him get some rest between trials at the doggie events in which he competes.

Cowboy’s portable crate

Michele had been throwing a 20-year-old fitted sheet over the crate with reasonable result.  However, we made a dee-luxe cover with many fine features 😉

There is a little door at the top for giving treats.

There is a screen in one side where a fan can blow in cool air.  The screen has a flap to cover it when Cowboy needs rest more than he needs a breeze.

And of course there is a big flap over one end of the crate that can be thrown up to let Cowboy in and out.

We enjoyed the many challenges involved in making the crate cover.  Naturally, we had to make a few little bags for ourselves, as well.  A good time was had by all.

Cowboy is an Australian Cattle Dog

Straight Pins: A Brief Review

I’ve used the same straight pins for years because they are smooth, sharp, and a little flexible, with glass heads that don’t melt if you happen to iron over them.  Pins are very important in quilting!  ( As always, I do NOT get payment or product for this review; I’m telling you about these pins because I use them.)

These pins used to come from the Clotilde catalog (IBC stands for “Imported by Clotilde”), but that business was sold to Annie’s Catalog a few years ago.

Recently when I ordered pins I noticed that Dritz also makes silk pins, and they were just a tad cheaper.  I decided to try them.  Here are both boxes of pins:

Those are the Dritz pins on the left, the IBC pins on the right.

The Dritz pins came in a nicer box than the pins from Annie’s.  They might even be better pins if I were sewing on thin, lightweight fabric.  However, they were thinner and even more flexible than the IBC pins, and that made them actually difficult to get through quilting cotton!

There is a larger IBC straight pin for quilting, 1-3/4 inches long!

I don’t like the size of these larger pins, but I expect that for some projects they would be better. For now, I’m sticking with my regular IBC pins.

Any other suggestions for great quilting straight pins?

 

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.

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.

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!

Pincushion Project

Who can resist alliteration–just sayin’

traditional pincushion

Does everybody in American have one of these?

One of my quilt groups has a pincushion exchange scheduled for next month, and the last program was a display of many creative pincushions. I wish I had taken pictures! Since this is quite a creative group, I’ll be sure to take some at the exchange.

Meanwhile, I needed to make a pincushion. Note that I don’t say I need a pincushion. That certainly is not the case. I have a number of pincushions, and yes, I use all of them. However, to say I need another would be pushing it!

There are lots of great pincushion ideas on Pinterest, so I just made my own Pincushion board to collect a few. Then I chose one I thought I could make, and here it is:

pincushion

Dresden Pincushion, made from a free pattern at AllPeopleQuilt.com

I also noted that one of the bloggers I follow had gone crazy making pincushions, many of which were just little quilt blocks sewn together and filled. So I made a mini from some 2″ finished blocks I found in the orphan bin.

Then I went a little crazy myself, and took pictures of all my pincushions.  Most of them were gifts from friends or family, which gives them special meaning.

And finally, a fun factoid: I learned in my research that it is best to stuff pincushions with crushed walnut shells to give them a little heft!  And those crushed shells are sold as lizard litter in the pet store!  Who knew?

One last pincushion, a miniature: miniature pincushion

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Pattern Review: Sweetpea Pods

Note: As always, I received NO compensation of any type for this review.

One of the many things I enjoy about attending a quilt show is the opportunity to visit the vendors. Since my nearest “local” quilt shop is about an hour away, I often see things online long before I get to examine them in person. Occasionally I do buy online, but there’s no substitute for looking something over personally before buying.

Pattern review Sweetpea PodsAt the Vermont Quilt Festival, I came across this pattern that I had been considering online because it looked so darn cute.  I talked to the vendor about it to be sure it included instructions for doing that tricky thing with the zipper and learned that it did. She also had the extra zipper pulls that are useful for this design, so I bought the pattern and the zipper pulls.

And here we go:Pods3

This pattern has VERY clear instructions.  I read a fair number of patterns (and write my own), and this is one of the best-written patterns I have seen.

The little pods are easy to make, even with taking time to learn the zipper trick.  The zipper trick actually is easy, and instructions for that are very clear as well.  The pattern is set up so that you get two pods out of each set of instructions, so I cut them out with coordinated fabrics–outside fabric for one pouch was the lining for its mate!  What fun!Sweetpea Pods pattern review

This is so fast and fun that I made several of them.  The instructions say to zig-zag finish the inside seams, but I used my serger for that, so it was even faster!

This was a great break from a rather tedious project I’ve been working on.  I’m giving these to our daughter to use as teacher gifts, but I foresee another round of them for Christmas gifts coming right up!Sweetpea Pod pattern review

You can order the pattern at several places online, or go right to the source at the Lazy Girl Designs website.

2014 Projects, Part 2

To continue a review of projects from 2014, the point of this exercise is to get together a gallery page for each year I’ve done this blog.

I made “Drunk in the Garden” both to use this beautiful floral fabric that reminded me of Texas and to practice cutting and piecing gentle curves.

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Despite the beautiful fabric, the overall design never looked right to me, primarily because the gold fabrics varied too much in value.  I eventually cut this quilt up and made some place mats, which were much more successful.  You can see them here, if you like.

I designed a quilt for the Michael Miller challenge and, though it sank without a trace in the challenge, I liked it.  The design was improvised based on the little scan codes made up of triangles at my local garden center:

Michael Miller challenge quilt

Packet of Posy Seeds

Also in 2014, I designed a quilt and pillow for Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine.  Here is the picture from the magazine:

quilt photo

Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

And here is the “practice” quilt I made first to work out the details:

modern quilt

Zippy Star I, which sold at the Asheville Quilt Show in September

As if one Michael Miller challenge weren’t enough, I made this quilt for another later in the year:MM-finish1

And finally, I finished this quilt, which I had been working on for years.  Literally.

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern

And that was it for 2014!  One thing that is obvious from reviewing some of these pictures is that I have improved my photography since 2014.  For which I’m thankful.

Coming up next: a report from the 2016 Vermont Quilt Festival!

 

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Good News, Bad News!

First, the bad news: I sliced a good-sized hunk out of my finger with the (nice, sharp) rotary cutter. When I couldn’t get the bleeding stopped after an hour, I went to Urgent Care. A nice Physician Assistant there got it all fixed up.rotary cutter accident

Quilting with 9 fingers is a challenge 😉  Another learning experience…

In better news, I made Lora Douglas’s Roxie bag this week, and it is as cute as expected! This project is part of Quilted Adventure, an online retreat I’m taking part in throughout 2016.  As always, I learned several things from making this bag.  And unlike the learning experience mentioned above, this was fun:

Roxie Bag, Quilted Adventure

Roxie Bag, Designed by Lora Douglas

Lora’s instructions requested foam batting, a product I had never heard of!  Luckily, my “local” quilt shop had it. It did give the bag really nice structure without making it stiff, and I probably will use foam batting for future bags.  A nice find!

I purchased the hardware for the bag from Lora’s Etsy shop,  I had no idea a flex frame could be so sturdy.  Most bags I’ve seen were made with lengths of metal measuring tape as the closure.  That works just fine (if your husband isn’t very vigilant about his tools) but the closure isn’t very tight.  The flex frame that came with the kit holds that bag closed with certainty!  And unlike the measuring tape closure, this one can hold itself open when needed.

Lora Douglas

Roxie Bag with the top snapped open

Lora’s instructions also called for glue-basting the binding, which I had never done.  It actually worked great!  I’ll probably do that again.

If you’re interested in the year-long Quilted Adventure, all classes are online for the whole year, so you can sign up any time.  Just use the link above to go to Lora’s site and click the button in her margin.  If your main interest is the bag rather than the whole retreat, she’ll release the single pattern some time in 2017.

So the good learning experiences certainly outweighed the bad this week!