Friday, November 25, 2021

HtbaS - Episode 56

I talk to my mom, and you get to eavesdrop! My crafting history (and hers too), and random ramblings about our Thanksgiving visit.

Here's what 53 finished pillowcases look like.  In your FACE, cancer!

Tuesday, November 22, 2021

Pillowcases Galore!

I talked in my last post about the bloat of fabric I was shedding through Good Stitching and making pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer.  ConKerr has collection sites all pretty much all of the quilt shops close to me, so it's easy to take the finished pillowcases with me to a guild meeting and drop them off then.

To make the pillow cases, I'm using a method similar to this one from Mama Spark, only I do way less pinning (I used four pins per pillowcase to make the "sausage rolls").  It involves French Seams, which sounds waaaay fancier and harder than it actually is, but is a good way to avoid exposed seam allowances and creates a sturdy finished project.

At the AMQG retreat last August, we had a mini workshop on making pillowcases this way, and Kathy, our instructor, taught us "The Rule of 3".  You need three pieces for each pillowcase, cut WOF (width of fabric, for the uninitiated).  A 3" strip (the accent piece), a 9" strip (not sure if this is called the flange or casing, or what, but it's the skinnier part at the open then of the pillowcase), and a 27" piece (the main body).  These are standard size pillows, not king size.  If you are into math, you'll note that 3 x 3" = 9", and 3 x 9" = 27".  Yay, math! Also note, that you can do the accent strip at 2" but it's not as fun mathematically.

You'll notice in this process that not all WOF's are equal. They vary between 40 - 45", so there is some trimming once you get your sausage sewn and turned. Here is what 53 pillowcases look like after being sausaged, and ready to be sewn up.
 (Princess Leia fabric FTW! Also, the black and white monster eyeballs make me laugh, and hopefully won't weird out the child).
I've gotten 10 of 53 finished and ready for drop-off.  I think I can get the rest done by Dec 3rd, but will strive for at least half of those done, and the rest by the 17th.

Merry Grinchmas, FINISHED!

I finished this a couple days ago, then forgot to take pictures.  Here the quilt is in its cuddled state, which means it has been crumpled and shed upon.
And here are close-ups of some of the blocks and border... if you look close you'll see some quilted hearts two sizes too small in the one of the Grinch in the mirror and the book cover.  You can click through to flickr to see some additional notes on the actual quilting if you want (not a lot of notes, but some).
Candy cane striped binding is my favorite part!

Friday, November 18, 2021

De-Bloating for Good.

I'm the primary tweeter for the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild twitter account, so I see a mix of tweets from fabric manufacturers, designers, quilters, and local Atlanta groups and businesses that I don't track in my own personal twitter feet.  Today, I saw a re-tweet of a message from ConKerr Cancer of Georgia, an organization that delivers hand-sewn pillowcases to kids with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. ConKerr, which was founded by a woman who lives down the road from one of our members, put the call out for 600 pillowcases by the end of the year.

Up until this year, I worked with a local church group to make prayer quilts for their members in need, and also to deliver to the children's hospital during the holiday season.  Once I became more involved in the AMQG, I stopped working with the church group mostly because of the time and distance to get to their location, but promised myself that I would continue to craft for charity.  In the first half of this year, I donated about 10 quilts to Project Linus, many of which were previous creations that just hadn't found a home yet.

On a personal level, I find it discouraging to make a quilt with no intended purpose. It's one thing to make a quilt and think, "I surely will enjoy watching Daryl Dixon embed some arrows in a zombie's head while under this quilt" (Walking Dead reference), and quite another to think, "I am making this quilt to learn a skill, but I don't see a place for it in my home, or in the home of anyone I know". I got into a place where I wasn't quilting for charity because I felt these quilts were purposeless, when I know that's not the case to the recipients. I booked up my quilting time with projects for myself or my family, and that's perfectly legitimate, but I've felt the loss of charitable crafting.

So when I saw the tweet from ConKerr, I thought, "Perfect! I can use some fabric from my stash and donate to charity." And, if I'm honest, not having to use part of my batting stash, as well as come up with thread for quilting and backing material (as well as time), is tantalizing. So I thought I'd take a little bit of time and pick out some fabrics to use to make some pillowcases.  I thought I could make 10 easily out of the fabric in my stash, especially since I have a decent selection of juvenile or novelty prints I don't have another purpose for since my kids are getting older.

So I started cutting. And cutting. And pressing and cutting some more.  At current count, I have cut fabric for 50 pillowcases. Five. Zero.  It is staggering to me, that 54 yards of fabric (and that is how the math works out, as I've triple checked it), some of which I have stored for over 8 years, is not even a quarter of my stash. I am floored. I am horrified at the sheer bloat of it all. I was trying to express this sense of waste to my husband, who immediately defended me (to myself, which is sort of silly, but one of the reasons I love him) as saying that the time clearly was not right yet for that fabric to be used, so I should not berate myself for holding onto it for so long.

So I am feeling lighter as I make plans to stitch these up. Removing this bulk from my stash, and bringing my stash of fabrics closer to a place that reflects who I am as a quilter right now, just feels... right. And good. And knowing these are going for a good purpose is icing on the cupcake.

I plan on using this as the maiden voyage for Marcia, and look forward to photographing a giant stack of pillowcases before I take them to the AMQG meeting on December 3rd. Since our meeting is conveniently at a drop-off site for ConKerr (Intown Quilters in Decatur, GA), that's a nice stretch goal to have them all done by then.

HtbaS: Episode 55

I talk about the Merry Grinchmas Quilt tutorial I put together, and how I efficiently manage time to get so much sewing done.

Also: Cats!

Merry Grinchmas Quilt, Part 3 of 3

Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here.

Oh, it's our favorite part! After spending a bunch of time piecing together a beautiful top, now you sit back and think, "Man, I am exhausted from all that piecing. I hope I have the right color, pattern, and size of fabric in my stash to use for a back for this quilt!" And... cue the sad trombone. Of course you don't. Or, in my case, you have a piece that is about 10 inches too short to fit. Such is life.  Here's what I ended up doing with my too short piece of fabric:

It's not a real quilt at my house until you've been helpered trying to make it. Here's a better picture of the backing I created:

I had a length of this red and white flannel plaid that was about 130" long, or 10" too short to cut into two 70" long pieces to sew together for the back. What I ended up doing was cutting one 70" piece, and cutting that lengthwise so I had two 70" x 21" pieces. The remaining 60" I also cut lengthwise so I ended up with two 60" x 21" pieces and sewed those together into one 120" x 21" piece, then trimmed to 70".  To make it the right height, I pieced in some 9 1/2" widths of the banner-type print (the remaining 2/3rd yard fabric) and some leftover FQs. Sew, press, etc., and voila! A back for my quilt.

Then it's time to layer and baste. With the aid of a Helper Cat, of course.
Note: my batting is not actually that short - I have a giant roll of 96" wide, so I haven't unfolded to the 96" width yet.  I am basting on my living room carpet, which is not my preferred area, but this quilt was a bit too big for my normal area in my sewing room.

Now... quilting. Yes another quandary.  I knew I wanted to free-motion within the panel blocks to emphasize the various pictures, so that wasn't a challenge.  I also decided to stitch 1/4" offset inside the sashing to stabilize it as well.  Here's how I do that with minimal starts and stops, and minimal overlap (click to embiggen on Flickr):
 I start in location 1, although you could pick any strip of sashing.  I stitch down the length of the center of the quilt to location 2 (amazing!), and with my needle down, turn the quilt 90 degrees. and stitch to location 3 (numbers are magic!).  All of these are about 1/4" offset from the seam joining the sashing to the block, or the width of your presser foot. When you go back up to location 4, turn the quilt again and sew over location 1 to location 5, and so on.  There is a very faint yellow circle around the areas where you will end up stitching over previous stitching lines, but those are pretty small areas.  After location 13, you can just follow the same pattern on the other vertical sashing strip, and then around the outside edge on until you get back to location 4, or 1, whichever you prefer.  Then it's a shorter straighter trip to stitch the other outside circuit for the outer sashing (not shown).

For the white and green solid borders, I'm against doing straight line offset quilting.  For the pieced border, I will probably free motion meander and emphasize some of the designs, but I'm not quite done yet.

For the binding, I have a candy-cane stripe like fabric that I'll stitch on so it runs diagonal and candy-cane-like.  I'll probably have it done this weekend, just in time for Thanksgiving snuggling and Grinchiness.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 17, 2021

Merry Grinchmas Quilt, Part 2 of 3

Part 1 is here.

By now you are eyeing the center of your quilt and think, "Yes, that will surely be big enough. I can just scrunch down and be covered by it."  But, no, you are WRONG. Now is the time to add a lot more borders. 3 borders to be exact.

Calm down, only one of them is fancy.

The first inner border is a skinny strip of white, which conveniently mirrors the skinny white border you can see around several of the panels. Cut 6 strips 1 1/2" wide of the white, and piece them together into one long strip. Double check your center measurements before cutting the length!  For mine, I cut 2 strips 55" long and sewed those on the sides. Then I cut 2 strips 49" long and sewed those one the tops and bottoms.  My quilt is now 49" x 56-1/2"

Now for the fancy border.  Another of the prints that came in the FQ bundle is a big picture print, which isn't in neatly laid out panel form.  I used my 6x12" rule and just started cutting up the vingnettes into pieces either 6" wide or 6" tall.  The 6" wide pieces will go into side borders.  The 6" tall pieces will go into the top of bottom pieces.  Here's a sample of how I cut it up, using the Kaufman picture from their website:

There will be waste.  This makes me shudder a bit, but I eventually got over it.  I think I ended up with 8 pieces that were 6" tall and  9 pieces that were 6" wide. Plus those two little pieces from the panel that you set aside before.  Then I started cutting up the other scraps from the FQs I already sliced up to frame the panel pieces into pieces 6" long by various widths - basically whatever sizes I could eek out.  Then just start fiddling with your layout.  You are trying to get 2 strips that are 6" by the 49" for the top and bottom borders and 2 strips that are 6" by 56 1/2" for the side borders.  Here's a sample of the top/bottom borders I ended up with:

You will also need to cut four 6" squares for the corners of this middle border. I used one of the previously uncut FQs, the green background with medium sized characters.  I fussy cut the 6" squares to center one of the characters.

So, sew all your bits together into a cohesive scrappy border, and then sew the borders on! Press, cry, etc. Not necessarily in that order.  Here's a close up of what the side of my quilt looks like with the sashing, white inner border, and pieced middle border:

Now for the final border! I wanted another solid border because I hate having so many seams on the outside of the quilt top, but you may want to just stop at this point. I cut 7 strips of 2 1/2" wide by WOF from the green fabric. Sew them all together into one long strip. Then measure and cut your outer borders.  My outer borders were cut to 70 1/2" for the sides (sewn on first), and 66" wide for the top and bottom (sewn on last).  Sew, cry, press, etc.

Here's the finished top! It's raining outside so I couldn't hang it up in my normal spot, so apologies for the crappy photograph.

Tomorrow is backing, quilting, and binding!

Wednesday, November 16, 2021

Merry Grinchmas Quilt, Part 1 of 3

My husband's family, specifically my MIL, goes INSANE with Christmas decorations.  She has, to date, 14 Christmas trees in her house, all decorated in different themes. My husband has come to have a certain distaste for decorations as a result, and is downright Grinchy as a result.  The bargain at our house is that he will put up outside decorations, which are all airport themed so as to appease his Grinchiness, and I decorate the inside and the tree.  So when Kaufman came out with the Grinch fabric line, I knew I had to make a quilt for him out of it.

I bought the Fat Quarter assortment of the fabric from Fat Quarter Shop, which includes 12 fat quarters and three 2/3 yard pieces.  One of those 2/3 yard pieces is a panel (link to Kaufman) of 11 different "pictures" in various sizes, so I decided to make that the focus of the quilt, rather than conventionally pieced quilt blocks.  This quilt is ALL about the fabric and print, rather than fancy piecing, so it comes together quickly after some math. Note: Jaybird Quilts actually has a published pattern for the Grinch fabric, so this design looks a little like her in that it's a 3x3 arrangement of these panel pieces, but she does a fancy postage stamp finish and fusible applique to mount the panel blocks. I've never found fusible applique to hold up well after repeated washings, so I opted for piecing instead.

Here is my materials list, but you can adjust according to your stash:
  • 1 FQ assortment of Grinch fabric
  • Red solid fabric (I had Kona Cardinal on hand from the Terrible Quilt): 1 yard or slightly less
  • White solid fabric (for inner border): 1/3 yard (if you cut WOF).  I had a weird long piece that allowed me to cut along the grain so I didn't have to piece it.
  • Green solid fabric (I used Kona Lime because it's a nice Grinchy shade): 1/2 yard
  • Binding fabric - you can do a scrapping binding using leftovers from the FQs, or scrape up a 1/2 yard of something else
  • Backing fabric - Again, piece it together using FQs leftovers and other cuts, or enough backing for a 66" x74" quilt.

To separate the panel into individual blocks, I lined up my ruler on the pictures and cut 1/2" bigger all around each picture.  Most of these pictures have a printed border that makes it easy, but for those that didn't, I just carried on the cutting line from the block closest to it.  The good news is that there is about one inch between each block, so cutting looks like this:

Unfortunately because of the nature of printing on fabric, the blocks don't always print on the grain, so your cuts will be slightly off grain. Always cut to the printing and not the grain for stuff like this, and if bias worries you, then just starch the snot out of it.
You'll note I've labeled the blocks A, B, or C.  Those correspond to various widths.  Save those other two smaller blocks because we'll use those later. (SPOILER ALERT: in a border!).
  • The 3 A blocks are the skinniest at about 9 3/4" x  11 1/4".
  • The 4 B blocks are 8 1/2" x 11 1/4".
  • The 2 C blocks are 9 3/4" x 11 1/14"
Because I am mildly OCD, and also anal, I like my quilt blocks to be the same size, so I needed to frame these pictures to make them all the same size.  Mine ended up 14 x 16 1/2" after trimming (so they will be 13 1/2" x 16" finished).  Here are the cutting directions for framing up those pictures using the FQ prints from the assortment you purchased:
  • A blocks: Cut 6 - 4 1/4 x 11/14" for the sides and 6 - 3 1/4"x14" for the top and bottom
  • B blocks: Cut 8 - 3 1/2 x 11/14" for the sides and 8 - 3 1/4"x14" for the top and bottom
  • C blocks: Cut 4 - 3 x 11/14" for the sides and 4 - 3 1/4"x14" for the top and bottom
Here what the blocks looked like all framed up, in bad lighting and photography:
As you can probably tell, I opted for the smallest print FQs to frame the biggest pictures, and the biggest prints to frame the skinniest pictures. I paid attention to direction for the stripes, but had a brain fart and didn't for the Grinch print in the middle row on the right. Oh well. I tried to balance the colors out so I didn't have ALL RED or ALL GREEN blocks, but do what makes you happy.

Take your nine blocks and arrange them in a 3x3 layout with good balance of colors. This is not my final layout, but it's an idea (too much red clustered together, IMO):

Now it's time to cut the sashing!
Here's the cut list:
  • Solid red:
    • A pieces: Cut 12 of 2 1/2" x 16 1/2"
    • B pieces: Cut 12 of 2 1/2" x 14"
  • Grinch print of your choice (I used the green small Who print)
    • C pieces: Cut 16 of 2 1/2" x 2 1/2"
Work some magic, wave your wand, and the sashing is magically pieced together! Just kidding. I just chained pieced all of these together, and always pressed to the sashing (because nested seams make for awesome matched corners):
Finish sewing it together, press, and enjoy your quilt center! It should measure about 50 1/2" x 55"

Next post: adding borders!
Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.

Friday, November 11, 2021

HtbaS - Episode 54

I talk about the Featherweight, the Terrible Quilt, and designing a cutting table using Ikea cabinets.
  • Lazy Daisy moved to a new podcast server.
  • Here is the feed for the "Classic" HtbaS on site and feed.
  • Here are the links for the podcast on PodOmatic: site and feed.
  • I am so smrt!

Thursday, November 10, 2021

A Very Terrible Quilt - FINISHED!

This is a Christmas present for my BIL. I am generally a fan of the Steelers, but not a fan of their QB. I am, however, a fan of this quilt.

It's a very simple design - the two complicated parts were the logo and the Roman numerals.
The logos are paper pieced based on a sketch of the letters I did.  The team has six Super Bowl wins, so once I created the numerals sections, I had to do some math to figure out the spacing. I, however, love math.
The logo is a set of 3 orange peel blocks, the template I got from McCall's on their website.  More math and setting triangles, which I need to do some work on.  My current method is to over-size the triangles and lop off the extra. I'd rather be more precise.
I backed the quilt with the team fleece print, and no batting.  There was some bearding of the fleece poking through the top with the quilting stitches, but since it's a mostly black quilt top with mostly black fleece, it's not that bad.  If you go this route, I would recommend matching your fleece back color as closely as possible to the quilt top because of this.
The back is very snuggly, though. All in all, I'm pleased with it and it was quick to come together.  Now to wrap it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2021

Meet Marcia

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
I don't really call my other machine, the Janome 6600, by her name, but I do sort of think of her as Jan. So it made sense (to me) that when we made the decision for me to buy this lovely Singer Featherweight, I would name her Marcia.  Perhaps that tiny plastic machine my daughter has will be called Cindy. If ever actually let her play with it again because it's such a poor example of a sewing machine and I hate to taint her early sewing experience.

Here is the story of Marcia as best I know:  Marcia was owned by a woman whose family lived close to Chris, a guild member of mine you may know as Frecklemama.  Chris got Marcia from the family and had her serviced by a local technician, who said he thought Marcia had only been sewn on for about 10 hours because she was in such great condition.  Marcia changed hands a couple times after Chris decided to part with her, and when she came back on the market this month I jumped on the chance and bought her this past weekend.

Marcia is a 1957 Singer Featherweight 221 flatbed, which makes her one of the oldest things in my house.  I got her to use as a traveling machine for classes and retreats because Jan is not exactly a delicate lady (30ish pounds). Featherweights are notoriously easy to take care of and service yourself, so that also made sense.  And the fact that the lack of fancy stitches makes for very accurate 1/4" piecing.

Marcia is having a slight hygeine problem as she and her case have a bit of the Featherweight Funk, as I call it, which comes from being stored and not aired out, so I'm doing my best to put the case in the sunshine for a couple days.  I'll also give it a gentle wash/wipe down.  The original accessories and bobbins are still in the box, and I don't want to trash the box but as it's cardboard I don't think I can eliminate the smell from it, so I'm waiting and seeing what can be done about that.

So, I'm very excited to begin piecing! I haven't figured out which project I want to do on her yet, or if she'll have a permanent installation at the house - right now she's sitting out on the game table in the living room.

Monday, November 7, 2021

Saturday Sampler Blocks - November

Oh hai! The quilt shop didn't even name this house, so I shall call it "Fred".  It reminds me of a Doctor Who episode with that swirly vortex door and the cat going into it.
And for Grandma's Garden, we have a butterfly!
Words of wisdom for this month are the classic: "Crack don't smoke itself."  Words to live by.

Friday, November 4, 2021

HtbaS - Episode 53

I talk about finishing the Halloween quilt and the hexagon quilt, and some other small projects I worked on during the week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2021

Attack of the Hexies: FINISHED!

I know. I can hardly believe I finished another quilt this week, too. I must have had a lot of pent up productivity after finishing up the Halloween quilt.  This is my entry to the "Attack of the Hexies" point-and-laugh along with Sandy and Jaye (who's laughing now, Jaye?!?).
This quilt is a Christmas gift for my niece and is called "Monkey Butt" (and hopefully my sister will not let her go on my blog for a bit - not sure she ever visits, but still...).  It got it's name from the word game we used to play with her when she was little - everyone would take turns naming an animal. Or rather, an animal butt. She learned a lot about animals and butts that way.  The battlecry of "Monkey Butt!" was usually the opening volley. Sometimes we still yell that out and she's 13 now.

The quilt is about 66x70".  The hexies are 5 1/2" cut (so 5" finished) from a fat quarter assortment of this sock monkey fabric.  They were machine pieced using the technique Jaye had on her blog for set-in seams.  Once I got going they came together quickly.

The quilt needed a nice white stop border, which really helps give the eye a place to rest in the crazy randomness of the colorful hexies.  I love that striped binding fabric, and am sad I only have a 4 inch piece of it left after binding this quilt. Alas.
It's quilted with an all-over stipple in Isocord thread (except for the obvious straight lines in the stop border).  The back was pieced with leftovers from the fat quarters and a strip from the border fabric, and a piece of red I had from curtains my mom gave me.
I'll talk more about the hexie assembly process in the podcast on Friday (as well as how I get so much sewing done).  I'm hoping to finish two more quilts this month. I have a backlog!