Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Itsy Bitsy Spider Quilt

Yep, I am still here.
And I have just found an easier way to post to the blog!  I am using a Blogger App for iPad and this is my first attempt.  Let's cross our fingers that this works.

I have recently finished a small strip quilt...a spider web quilt.  I planned the strip placement in this, though, as opposed to making it scrappy.

I love to see the texture of a quilt once it has been washed!

This one was double batted...one layer of cotton and one layer of thin polyester.  I wanted it to be washable (it's a baby quilt) but I also love the crinkle that cotton provides after washing, so I used both.

This is the first quilt I have quilted in quite a while.  I have been working in other things lately...sewing, yes, but mostly slow piecing.

I alternated the wedges to give each spiderweb a bit more interest.

I really like the brown fabric that the kites (four "kites" make a star) provide!  Actually, the size of this quilt was determined by the amount of brown fabric I had!

The back fabric represents the rain...see the droplets?

Because the seams were pressed open during construction, I was concerned about the stability of the piecing.  So, in addition to the spider webs, I heavily quilted the center of the stars made by the kites, sewing a circle filled with pebbles...or water droplets.  That should prevent any seams from separating over time.

In the outer border I quilted a trio of swirly lines and droplets to represent the rain which comes down and washes the spider out.

I made faux piping on the binding, which allows the whole quilt to be done by machine.  I strongly dislike doing handwork!  From the back, you only see the brown binding, but on front there is a blue flange between the binding and the body of the quilt.

While they don't know it yet, this quilt will be given to my son and daughter in law who has just given birth to my grandson!  Yep, he was born 5 weeks early and weighed only 5# 2oz, but he was perfect!  He is now 4weeks old...still one week shy of his due date!  

I need to get that baby a loofah! 


Friday, July 11, 2014

Sewing Room Tour

Here is my new sewing room!
It is a big one...23 by 19 feet, with TWO large closets!

The sewing room is the large room over the garage, at the end of a hall...the previous owners used it as a media room.  Here is the view from the door:

Now, look to the right...there are a couple of recliners for resting, reading or viewing TV.

Beyond the chairs, my L-shaped sewing desk holds my machines and stuff.
Beyond that, there is a small table holding an iron and some cases.
I didn't clean up the room for these pictures nor did I stage things (those bras behind the serger were already there awaiting repair!), so some things just need to be overlooked! :)

Continuing to move LEFT, you see my long arm sewing machine (for quilting) in front of four windows.  Again, staging would have required that all blinds on those windows be pointed the same way.  Sigh.

There is an ironing board temporarily placed in front of the long arm...I am putting some piecing there as I finish sewing each one.
I guess I should have picked up that plastic bag in the floor, eh?

To the left of the long arm is one of the closets...the larger one.  It was empty...like a room...and I moved furniture into it.  I'll show you an inside shot in a minute

You can see my big cutting table in the foreground, covered with my latest project. 
This table divides the room into two sections...one for working and the other for not working. :)
Also, there is a chest next to the closet doors.  It is a cheap piece of furniture that I have had since I was a child...purchased at Woolco...and it has had to be glued back together more than once. 
I don't care...it is worth the trouble

See both closets now?  The door to the left one is closed.

Beyond (to the left of) that second closet is my TV (which is across the room from the recliners) and next to it is the bathroom.
I am toying with the idea of swapping the recliners and the TV...flipping that side of the room.

Now that I have turned around, you can see out the door we came in.  
The bathroom on the right is also open to the bedroom...see the door in the hallway?  We use that room as our office.

Oh, and the dress form is not usually in the middle of the room!  I have been working on that dress.

Above is a charity quilt I am making...loaded on the long arm.
It isn't beautiful but I didn't choose the fabrics! ;)
I cut the pieces using the WINDING WAY die and my AccuQuilt GO cutter.  It was the first time to use the GO, plus, I had never made a WINDING WAY pattern before so doing it for charity takes the pressure off!

This is another shot of my sewing desk area.  The long arm is to the left, behind that ironing board covered in strata..this is the beginning of a colorful 'spool' quilt.
Here you can see the entry door...double doors.  That doorway just beyond the doors opens to a 3rd floor attic, and there is another door to the left of that one that leads to a 2nd floor attic...my sewing room is on the second floor.
I had to buy a new cutting mat for the table when we moved.  My old one disintegrated when the movers tried to touch it!  It was very old and brittle. 
Inside the larger closet, I installed some shelves over a couple of cabinets.  I have fabric in those bins...threads for the long arm are on the shelves.  On the counter sits a brand new Brother Scan  Cut that is still wrapped in plastic, awaiting my use!  in the floor beyond the green cabinet is an AccuQuilt GO die cutter.
This is the other side of that closet,  These cubbies were stored in the attic at my previous home because the sewing room walls were too short for them.  Here, they can finally be used!  They need painting badly...in their former life, they were JEANS display racks at JCPenney.
Eventually, these cubbies will be better organized but for now, my stuff is out of boxes and findable!
This is the inside of the other closet.  It has shelves on the left and back walls, but not the right wall.
This room had carpet when we bought the house, but we had it removed and had wooden flooring installed.  I love the ease of cleaning up a wood floor as opposed to carpet!
The card table was brought in for a project that has yet to even be started but like all horizontal surfaces, it is collecting more than its share of 'stuff'.
Here is the dress I am working on.  See?  The lining at the neckline is free and the pleats are being adjusted to alter the size of the neckline.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little visit! 
Next time, perhaps I'll make tea!

Testing the upload

Here are a couple of test photos...tiny toads that are everywhere in our new yard! We call them snake bait...because we have also seen two snakes here!

I'm baaaaaaack!

Well, spank me now...it has been a REALLY long time since I posted!
Yep, life gets busy.
We bought a new sewing room (with a house attached) and moved in December, 2013, and it is taking a while to get back into the swing of things.
I am doing some sewing, though...in addition to a bunch of ither things. So far, we have not painted the new house...just moved our stuff in...but I am trying to decide which rooms and what colors to change first.
I'm gonna try to give a little tour of my new sewing room...i say "try" because I am doing this from the Ipad.
See? That is one of the reasons I don't post much...it just takes SO LONG to resize each and every picture! It is far easier to post on Facebook, where the pictures upload so easily and resize automagically! But I will give it a go...!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pants these days

I was asked a question on a chat list regarding the pants pattern I am using these days. As usual, there is no short answer I can give, so I will put a few images here to illustrate the pattern creation.

I made a CROTCH TEMPLATE using Romex cable (insulated wire) and traced it onto paper and measured it, as described in the book FITTING and PATTERN ALTERATION, A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration (Second Edition) by Liechty, Rasband, and Pottberg-Steineckert.

If you don't have that book, here are a few YouTube videos that show you how to make a template and use it with your pattern.



(sorry...I am having trouble with Blogger...these links SHOULD open in a new window but on my computer, that just isn't happening!)

On that last video, Lorraine Henry talks about how, in RTW, they shorten the crotch length by 1" and add that to the back waist height. WEll, I found that is NOT good for me. That gives me the fit of RTW...pants that pull down in back! So I need to make the crotch match my template...period.


Once I knew the exact shape of my body, I could see why my previously-made pants weren’t ‘just right’. Although the FLAT back crotch shape gave me more back pants width, I could never get the actual SHAPE just right using the settings in PMB. So I finally decided to go back to just altering the pattern before printing it, as I had done back in Version 2!

I will post some pictures to demonstrate the alterations I did to the last pair. I still had to adjust the waist tilt and level after the pattern was printed, but this will give you and idea of what I am doing.

I used the ROUND back crotch but used the FLAT FRONT shape! This more nearly matched the template I had created.

Crotch Cut: Slack Cut
Front Crotch Curve: Flat
Back Crotch Curve: Round
Back Crotch: Wild Cut

Front Dart Length: 3.5
Back Dart Length: 4.75
Front Dart Position: 3
Back Dart Position: 3

As usual, I moved the sideseams forward by 0.75”.

Sideseam Movement: -0.75

Even though I needed a bit more back crotch extension, I used 0 for that setting, because the alteration I was about to do would increase that area. I DID adjust the crotch BREAKS to affect the curve shape.

Front Crotch Extension: 0
Back Crotch Extension: 0
Front Crotch Break: 0.5
Back Crotch Break: 1.5

No ease was added.

Waist Ease: 0
Hip Ease: 0
Crotch Ease: 0

Then I opened the saved pattern in the PATTERN EDITOR and made the necessary alterations to the BACK pattern.

The original pattern, created with the settings I listed above, is in BLUE.

I SELECTED everything between HIP LEVEL and KNEE LEVEL (PINK) and shifted it medially (toward the inseam) by 0.75".

Next, I selected the crotch curve and moved it downward by 0.375".

Well, duh...the instructions are written with the pictures...I really don't need to type it again!

Here you can see the BEFORE and AFTER patterns superimposed.

This alteration eliminates the poufiness on the sideseam at hip level that my straight body doesn't fill.

It adds width across the pants back at just the right level for my bum...and creates the back crotch shape that I couldn't seem to create by using the FLAT back crotch shape combined with the various tools provided within the program (PMB).

When I FLIP the original FRONT pattern, which was NOT altered, and superimpose it on this new, altered BACK pattern, you can see that the sideseam shapes are much more similar than the original patterns. Eliminating that poufiness at the side hip makes the seams more similar.

So, in a nutshell, I am back to altering the pattern instead of using the FLAT back crotch shape combined with various settings to try to make it conform to my shape. But the result was better. And the alteration was not difficult or time consuming!

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm so glad I sew...

Today I did a bit of clothing shopping. Originally, my plan was to go to my regular sewing group which meets on Mondays, but my morning's to-do list quickly ate up my day!  When the afternoon errands put me in the vicinity of Coldwater Creek, I got sucked in.

First I make the rounds in the store, pulling things that might work and letting the ladies start a dressing room for me (they will take my choices from my arms and put them into the dressing room to await my arrival).  Once I am sure I have seen all there is to see, it is time for the try-ons.

As is usually the case, I am between sizes on most of the tops I chose.  The ladies who work there try their best to get me to go down a size...and I will humor them and try on the smaller sizes they bring...but in general, I buy the larger size.  I can sew.  I can shorten tops that are too long.  I can raise the armholes as I take in the side seams when needed.  Because almost invariably, those smaller sized garments are too tight.  Not sausage casing, but tighter than I am comfortable wearing.  I ended up with one Medium, 2 X-Larges, and the rest were Larges...and if they had had the XL tops in a Large, I would have gotten the smaller size.  But they didn't.  And I can sew.

The ladies there think I buy my clothes too big.  But I know how to sew.  I can make those clothes fit better than they did in that dressing room.  And while I am not fond of alterations, I can make these changes quicker than I could make the tops from scratch.

Plus, everything was on sale.  Big time.  Buying the fabric to make these tops would have cost more than the tops did.  Assuming I could even find these nice fabrics...

Anyway, I have a bit of sewing to do to make these tops fit me.  But I didn't just walk away with nothing, nor did I end up with clothes that are too tight.  A win.  :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Grandma's Quilt

If you wait until you are finally READY, you will be waiting all your life...

Two years ago, I got a long arm quilting machine and frame...an A-1. A few years prior, I had purchased a Handi-Quilter Frame to use with a domestic machine and had made several quilts using that, but I was limited in the size of the quilt designs that were possible...I needed a longer throat on the machine to do larger, more sweeping designs. So, my dear husband agreed to the purchase of the larger machine.

My husband liked the idea of quilting for other people (and earning money!) but I was hesitant...firstly, I didn't have the skills yet. I would wait until I was ready. And secondly, I was NOT going to 'market' myself...if anyone ASKED me to quilt for them, I would do it, but I wasn't comfortable putting myself out there. But more importantly, I really just wanted the machine to enable me to complete the art quilts which I loved making.

I knew I would gain skills as I quilted each quilt, but as it turns out, I cannot make quilts fast enough to get as much quilting practice as I wanted! I did bring home a 'hospice' quilt from the local guild to quilt and I did an all-over design on it. But I had not done any quilts that had definite 'blocks' and sashing and borders and stuff. No traditional quilts.

Enter Grandma's quilt.

This was a flimsy top that was hand-pieced by Grandma Grace, my husband's now-deceased maternal grandmother. His sister, Julie, had it and was more than willing to let me take it home to quilt it. Grandma had used whatever fabrics were available to her in her small town...perhaps from Sears or Wal-Mart. She used muslin for the background...the kind with tiny dark bits of the cotton plant stuck in the weave...and pieced and appliqued a two-fabric Dresden plate design onto the muslin. She used a solid avocado green that is surely a poly-cotton blend, as well as a green floral print, which seems to be a cotton fabric. She also sewed a strip of the solid green to one side of each block before piecing them all together, so there is a strip of green between rows of the plates.

Well, her seam allowances varied, as did the block sizes and the widths of the solid strips. The outer edge of the quilt top was not even...some blocks jutted out more than others. Plus, Julie had washed this flimsy after bringing it home. That meant that the muslin had shrunk, but we all know that poly-cotton doesn't shrink, so the plates were a bit 'proud' of the muslin...they were blousy.

The raw edges of the poly-cotton fabric were resistant to staying turned under and wanted to 'peak out' between the hand stitches every here and there. Grandma's stitches were large, too...I wondered what kind of thread was used and how strong it was? I felt like I needed to 'nail down' every seam with my quilting!

Does it sound like I am making excuses? grin.

I have had this quilt top in my possession for nearly two years...I brought it home in the fall of 2011. I decided it was TIME to get this one done.

The quilt top came to me with several yards of the green poly-cotton, which was (we think) intended to be used as the backing for the quilt. Too bad there wasn't quite enough.

After much ironing to force the seam allowances to behave (where possible, sometimes they were sewn down in the wrong direction so could not be forced!), I finally added borders around all edges of the quilt top (borders that I cut from the green fabric) then loaded it on the frame and set to work. I bought some natural colored cotton sateen to use as the backing...120 inches wide, 320 thread count. Nicer than anything used on the top!

After basting the edges and stitching in the ditches, I came up with a design for the 'plates' and began there, although I still didn't yet see the big picture in my head. As I stitched the plates, I began to think of them as lily pads...YES! I decided to do 'frog eggs' in the long sashing strips...coupled with a wavy stitching pattern, I could perhaps disguise the mismatched widths and crooked stripes.

I used chalk to mark the quilt, giving me guidelines so I could keep all the swirls going in the same direction, as well as create' targets' for the scalloped outline that would jump on and off the edge of the plates...er, lily pads.

I began to think of this quilt as a pond...after all, it had lily pads and frog eggs!  I felt like the background stitching would need to be done in blue thread and perhaps done in a style that would give the impression of water.   Ideas were percolating...

But just before I started the blue stitching, I decided...what if...what if I put a few water lilies in there? I could do some triangular feathers at the block intersections that would a) help nail down those seams and b) break up the background stitching. So I drew out a design and added the feathered lilies...I liked the way they looked!

Too bad I hadn't thought of this design BEFORE I stitched the stripes with the wavy lines and frog eggs...I could have lessened the thread build-up that occurred. Oh well! That is why it is good to have experience...

Next, it was time to tackle the borders. I wanted to do a feather border on this one, even though it probably wasn't the BEST design for this particular quilt. But I needed the practice at doing feathers, so feathers it is!

There weren't many feathers, and by the time I felt halfway competent, I was finished.  sigh.

I did the top border and TRIED to do the side borders as I rolled each section, but didn't like the thread build-up that resulted with that method.  So I skipped the sides, did the bottom, then moved on to the blue background quilting.  Once that was finished, I took the quilt off the frame and turned it 90 degrees then reloaded it to stitch the side borders.  It made it SOOOO much easier and they looked better, too.

Once I started doing the blue background stitching, I was again reminded of my inexperience! There were areas of ballooning fabric between a few of the plates...er, lily pads.  Because the blocks were stitched together willy-nilly, the excess fabric had to be dealt with somehow!

I tried stitching closely, but that still resulting in some pleating and puckering.

So I took a needle and thread and (by hand) sewed double-ended darts at a few of the seams to tuck out the excess muslin before quilting those areas. That worked!

I started out using a darker thread to sew these temporary 'darts' then removed the thread after quilting, but it didn't take long before I realized...use matching thread and you can leave it in!  duh...

Once the quilting was finished, I cut some bias strips from the remaining green fabric and joined them together to create the binding.  After pressing it in half, I loosely wound it around an empty thread cone and put that cone on a thread holder next to my machine.  This made it so much easier to control the binding as I applied it the around the edges of the quilt.

Now all that is left to do is sew the binding down by hand on the backside...I will let Julie do that! I will take this quilt to her this weekend...I wonder if she even remembers I have it!

The blue thread I chose was very faint...not the bright teal I had originally envisioned!
Probably a better choice...

This binding on the edge looks wide, but has not been wrapped to the back yet.  It will finish much narrower...

Despite my wavy lines and frog eggs, the sashing strips ARE still crooked. 
No miracles were performed in the making of this quilt! ;)

Using colored threads in the bobbin, too, makes the back of the quilt kind of interesting.  The colors are subtle and the stitching really shows up.

 Eventually, the green binding will show on the back edges.

And, as a side note...I now have, in my possession, my FIRST CUSTOMER QUILT!
That's right...I will be quilting for someone else...on a quilt that I didn't make...for money!

I am ready.

While my skills have improved, there is still a lot of improvement needed (duh!) but the only way to get better is to DO IT! This customer knows my work and is pleased with what she has seen me do...she is delighted that I agreed to quilt for her!
And you know that makes me feel good...

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