July 31, 2015

Free Motion Quilting

Hello again!

I seem to keep gushing about so many new and exciting (to me) things lately, and I'm going to share another with you today.  Having recently finished my Red Velvet layer cake quilt top, I'd been feeling a little gun shy at the prospects of starting quilting.  But I finally knuckled down and put together some small practise squares, beginning with some meander/stipple quilting and then doing some border doodle designs.

I managed to get my Ricky Tims harmonic convergence wallhanging spray basted without the help of Greta (cat) and then I was good to go!  I decided on a medium-sized meander in the central base of the wallhanging so as to catch all of those seams and to soften the harsh straight lines.

I used a turquoise thread with good contrast against the different fabrics, which was a tip I picked up from one of the FMQ resources I've been trolling recently in preparation for this next step - it definitely helped me to see where I had already sewn, which was a huge help and very useful.  I also really like the look of contrast threads so that made for an added bonus.

In the inner border, I decided on this cute doodle line - I love how playful and whimsical it looks.

Now my next step is trying to decide what to do for the quilting in the outer borders, which feature little hanging mugs.  I would love to trace quilt around each of the mugs, but my FMQ isn't very precis quite yet (although if I do all of them, I'm sure it will improve rapidly!)

And finally, I was looking around for some quilting glove options.  I haven't seen any actual marketed quilting gloves in my area but I did notice this neat gardening gloves at my local grocery store:

They're cotton with a textured rubber on the palms and fingers and man do they grip the fabric!  And the best part, they were a mere 20:kr SEK ($3.00 CAD) - sweet!

July 29, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Hello, hello!

I've been busy, busy sewing away - here's a little update on my current WIP status:
  • HST sampler QAL - add borders, quilt & bind
  • Red Velvet layer cake - quilt & bind
  • Diamond Jubilee jelly roll race - quilt & bind
And here's a little sneak peak at the work I've been doing today on my jelly roll race quilt.  First, sandwiching and spray basting, which was a real joy with Greta (cat) involved, I can assure you.

Then under the machine and the quilting began!  I decided on soft rolling waves along the length of the strips, so as to give some sense of movement and soften all of those hard lines.


Everything was going swimmingly until I ran out of thread - eek!   Another trip to the quilt shop is clearly in order and in the meantime, I have another - new - project to begin.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced:

July 27, 2015

Red Velvet Progress

Hello, hello!

Remember that Red Velvet layer cake quilt I dug out from the depths of my quilting stash?  Turns out that I started this quilt back in 2010 - bought the fabric, took the course, made six blocks and then put it away for some five years (don't judge).  Well, in twelve short days, it went from forgotten and unloved to this:

Yup, that is indeed a finished quilt top you're looking at there!  And please excuse the poor lighting - we've had nothing but dark and dreary weather here lately.

For the contrast colour, I opted for some Moda Bella solid in a pale blue and the outer border is a very pretty beige/cream with a swirling mosaic design that nicely picks up the tones in the beige fabric used in the X blocks and will match nicely with the fabric I've picked out for the binding.

And here's the truly awesome and impressive part, you see that dark brown I used for the star points?  All along I'd been fretting over whether or not I'd have enough to finish everything.  I did all the cutting for the remainder of the piecing and was super thrilled that I had just enough with a tiny bit to spare.  Except I either miscounted or miscut because to my horror while piecing the inner border, I was six squares short!  Noooo!

All I can say is, thank goodness for stash fabric!  Around the time I bought these fabrics, I was also working on a number of projects that used browns, all bought from the same store during the same year and I luckily managed to find another reddish brown in the same value as the original in the quilt.  You can't even tell the difference up close.  Whew!

Next step is deciding on a quilting pattern - suggestions are welcome.

July 24, 2015

Tulapink Handbag

Hello and welcome back!

If you'll recall, earlier this week I shared my new sewing machine with you - a Janome MC 6600P - and I also mentioned that I'd already completed a project on it but at that time I didn't reveal what it was.  Well, now is the time.

In preparation for a recent sewing day with friends, these luscious Tulapink fabrics followed me home (completely on their own accord, I swear!):

From my own perspective, I found this really interesting, because that beautiful eclectic top motif is so not my usual style (bold colours, clean and geometric design).  And while I'm definitely a big fan of orange and turquoise, those lovely lilac and lavender shades of purple rarely see their ways into my wardrobe or projects.  I guess what I'm saying is that even I was surprised with my choices here but I had a plan...

So from that - to this:

I really couldn't have planned a better fit for the fabric on that flap had I tried.  In addition to the lovely fabrics, I used a double-sided fusible stiff interfacing (quite stiff) so the bag retains its shape even when empty.

There is a zippered pocket on the back.  I love that little peak of lining fabric around the zip.  Incidentally, this is the first time I've shortened a zipper for a project - crazy easy; why haven't I done this before?

And on the inside, there are two spacious interior pockets and plenty of space for even long wallets and sunglasses and the like.

My new Janome sewed through that stiff interfacing and multiple layers of it and fabric all like a breeze.  I did use my old Elna girl's freearm to sew the lining to the top of the bag and do the top stitching along that top edge but the rest is pure Janome work.  This bag has some pretty serious WOW factor going for it - or so I've been told by those who have seen it.

If you're interested in the pattern (the handbag is called 'Paris'), it's available for free from Romanian Quilt Studio.  It was very well written with clear instructions and plenty of helpful photos and diagrams.  The only addition I would make to the instructions is that when you sew the lining gusset to the lining sides, it doesn't state what seam allowance to use.  I would recommend that you use a 1/4" SA for this.  I mistakenly used a typical handbag SA of 3/8" and my lining was a bit small matching up to my bag.  I made it work but the smaller SA would have made it a perfect fit.

July 22, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Welcome back!

Last year I joined in Material Girl's layer cake quilt-along project, featuring HST blocks.  I really enjoyed working on this project - two blocks were released a week for ten weeks and surprisingly, I managed to keep pace.  Then I came to the sashing and promptly ran out of Kona white.  A trip to the quilt shop for more white and I discovered while cutting the new sashing strips that it was not Kona white that I'd purchased.  Sigh.

Suffice it to say, I got busy, life happened and this project has since sat on my sewing table for a year.

More Kona white purchased and a dose of enthusiasm later, and I'm pleased to show off a freshly sashed quilt top:

I'm so happy with how this is turning out so far.  The sashing went together well and now I need to start deciding on borders and binding.  I intend to do scrappy binding, which I love the look of but for the borders, only a few of the fabrics I used are larger than FQs so I'll have to choose from among them.  I have a good chunk of the turquoise from the first block in row two (left side) and a really large chunk of the buttery yellow from the last block in row four (right side) so those are the most likely choices.

Detail shot of the pieced blocks:

And for good measure, one more shot from dead on at the foot of the bed:

Linking up to Freshly Pieced:


July 20, 2015

New Toy!!!

I'm so excited, I have a new (or more accurately, new-to-me) toy to share today!

But first, I'd like to introduce you to my old workhorse sewing machine, my Elna, which I inherited from my ex-fiance's sister, who herself inherited it from one of the family's great aunts, as I recall.  It's some 50 years old, solid metal, heavy and just keeps on chuggin' - you gotta love that!  Honestly, it's a fabulous machine, high quality and I've loved it deeply for many years.

Elna Supermatic, circa 1961

At this point, I'm sure you're sensing a 'but' so here it is...but, it doesn't quilt.  As you can see, it's a freearm machine, which is awesome for hemming trousers (and being barely over 5'0", every single pair of trousers I buy requires hemming) but not so great for quilting.  Plus, it's so old that you can't buy a walking foot attachment for it, let along a FMQ foot attachment.

I wanted more.  So I finally did something about it.

I'm pleased to introduce my new (new-to-me) Janome Memory Craft 6600 Professional sewing machine!  Complete with original foot attachments (a bunch) - including Janome's own specialised walking foot and FMQ foot, tools, tool box, presser foot lifter knee control and extra extension table!  All at a very reasonable price, and cheaper than brand new but in excellent condition.

Janome MC 6600P, circa 2011

A half century makes for quite an update.  So far I've been sewing on it for three days and I'm already in love with it.  I especially love the automatic thread cutter (so handy for saving on thread wastage), the speed slider, the needle up/down lock, the extra wide arm space, the see-through bobbin cover, the extra wide & marked throat plate, the extra high pressure foot lift and the fact that it sews like a hot knife through budder (yes, that's right, budder - not butter - it's just that smooth).  And I have an English copy of the manual on order.

So far I have one project completed on this girl already, which I'll be sharing with you shortly.  In the meantime, my goal is to finish up the piecing work on my other quilt projects so that I can give my Elna a little R&R time and move my Janome from the kitchen table to my proper sewing table for more long-term usage.

July 18, 2015

Playing with Fabric

Question: So what's a girl to do when she can't sew?

Answer: Play with fabric!

As I've been working on recent projects, I've decided that my fabric storage needs a serious overhaul.  I mean, serious.  Truth be told, I have fabric in piles throughout various areas of the flat but the majority of it is stashed away in my under-bed storage unit, which is a pain to haul out and things get lost and forgotten in there.  And I know from having re-organised my scrapbooking supplies, if I can see it, I'm more likely to use it.

So, I got to work and look at the prettiness now: MINI BOLTS!

Aren't they gorgeous?!  I just want to sit there and stroke them, they're so pretty like this.

For the bolts, I cut up a stash of old cereal boxes I'd been saving for templates.  The front and back panels measure 7.5" by 11", which is a perfect size for wrapping your typical single metre or so of fabric.

Then there's the question of how to anchor the ends.  Pins, rubber bands, masking tape, paper clips?  I started out with some spare pins but when I ran out of them, I came up with an even better solution, which I think I will ultimately switch to using instead: foldable bulldog clips!  I really like this option because they're sturdy and won't easily slip off the bolted fabric, plus they won't mark the fabric, damage the bolt inside or be harmful to Greta (cat) if she finds one laying around.  Oh, and let's not forget, I won't accidentally stab myself with them, either - always a bonus.

Now I can't wait to finish another box of cereal so I can continue to add to my mini bolt collection.  :)

July 15, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Hello, hello!

I've been in a whirlwind of sewing lately.  I have so many WIP projects, I simply can't justify starting any new ones without making more progress - and ultimately finishing - some first.  I've had a bit of an on-going list of what really needs finishing:
  1. Jelly roll race quilt - add borders (done!), sandwich & quilt.
  2. Harmonic convergence wallhanging - finish replacing borders, sandwich & quilt.
  3. HST quilt-along quilt - finish sashing, join rows, add borders, sandwich & quilt.
  4. Layer cake quilt - finish building blocks.
In last week's WIP Wednesday, I shared the progress I'd made on my Diamond Jubilee jelly roll race quilt; adding the borders.  Since then, I've moved on to further work on my Harmonic Convergence wallhanging.

First, a little back story: I originally added two borders when I finished the top.  However, I really didn't like the narrow, inner border I put on - it was a weird blue colour that didn't match the turquoise in the rest of the fabrics but was all that was available at the shop at the time.  Then, several years later, I came across a gorgeous turquoise print that matched perfectly!  I went ahead and ripped out the blue border and put in the new turquoise border instead...  Except that when I got to the final top border, it didn't fit.  Argh!

Along the way of fiddling with removing and resewing borders, the fabric stretched, the seams warped and the top border ended up an inch smaller than the width of the wallhanging.  I tried getting that border to fit - tried and tried and tried.  I'm sure I sewed it on and ripped it off three times before giving up, fearing that if I fussed with it any more, I'd just make it worse.

Well, I sat down recently and decided I wasn't going to let this project get the better of me!  After a thorough starching and pressing, I matched up the cornerstone seams and tacked them for good measure, pinned it to within an inch of life and at a snail's pace, stitch by agonisingly slow stitch, I eased that border into place and viola!

That border up there at the top?  That's the culprit.  But isn't that turquoise border lovely?  I'm sure the final effect will well be worth the effort.  Here's a closer look at that tricky border:

Looks harmless enough, doesn't it?  And just for good measure, here's a little detail shot across the wallhanging's piecing.

Now it's ready to be sandwiched, quilted and bound.  Hopefully I'll be able to hang it in my kitchen soon.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced:


July 13, 2015

Kiva - July 2015

Welcome back to this month's Kiva investment.

Wilman (Honduras)

A loan of $2,300 helps Wilman to buy 30 hives for his apiary.

Wilman is a farmer who is 35 years old, he is single and works especially in the production and sale of coffee and organic honey. He has more than 7 years of experience in the production of organic honey and he owns a very large apiary. Wilman has a son and his dream is to form a small patrimony so that his son can have better opportunities.

The production of organic honey is an novel activity in the region, as the weather conditions are adequate and the large existence of plants causes production to be abundant. Though Wilman has had this occupation for quite some time, the practices of organic rules have made his apiary more sustainable. Producing organic honey gives him better opportunities in the market for the product, to produce more without harming bees, and to take care of the environment with an apiary where good practices are put in place.

Curretnly, Wilman asks for a loan to expand his apiary, he wishes to obtain around 30 more hives, which will help him to have a better income to be able to support all his needs, and those of his son.

Like the idea of investing in micro-loans that make a real difference in real people?  Join Kiva today!

July 10, 2015

Red Velvet Layer Cake

Got your attention yet?  Sadly, this has nothing to do with actual moist, yummy red velvet cake but it does have everything to do with yummy fabric in quilt form.  Fandango fabrics by Moda, to be exact.

I've been steadily catching myself up on a number of partially complete projects recently but there has been one on my to-finish list that hasn't seen the light of day in more years than I'd care to count (or admit).  It all started many, many years ago in a tiny yet cosy little cellar quilt butique when I saw a sample of Thimble Blossom's Red Velvet layer cake quilt.  I bought the fabric, attended the class, got six blocks done and then under the bed it went...

The original 6 blocks.

Well, today I unearthed this hidden gem.  The photo above shows the original six blocks I had done in class.  This was my starting point.  I honestly don't know why I didn't continue it sooner.  I have the fabric (well, I apparently didn't buy the contrasting fabric but that's easily rectified).  I have the instructions - both in the original English and also a Swedish version.  I remember having pulled it out several years ago with the intention of continuing it, only to be confused (I'm not sure what by) and put it away again.

Anyway, I haven't let any of that stop me.  Perhaps I'm more confident these days.  Perhaps I'm more determined.  Or perhaps I just don't let myself get as hung up as I did in the past.  Whatever it is, I'm moving forward with this project and it feels great!  Here's where I left off today:

Block count tripled!

Check it out - 18 blocks done now!  All of the snowball blocks have been finished (with the exception of one that requires the missing contrast fabric) and two more X-blocks have been finished.  I've also done all of the cutting prep to continue working on more X-blocks tomorrow.

After all of that, I really do believe I deserve a wee bit of cake now...

July 08, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Hello and welcome back!

It's been a looong time since I last posted a WIP Wednesday.  So long, in fact, that I can't actually remember when the last one was...  Clearly that needs rectifying, so here we go.

Recently I've been working on my Diamond Jubilee jelly roll race quilt.  I stitched up the top (in true jelly roll race style) some three years ago now, during the year of the Diamond Jubilee...and then it sat there in my projects pile in my bedroom, folded, sad and ignored.  Until now.

Sadly, I didn't ever get around to going back to the quilt shop and buying more of the same London fabrics to finish it off so all that was left were two small cuts of the navy 'I love London' fabric (which I scooped up and may become the binding, if I'm lucky).  But I had long envisioned it having bold red borders and just when I thought I'd gone through all of the red fabrics in the shop without hitting on the right shade, I spied a series of Shadowplay fabrics - success!

I also decided to add a narrow inner border of Kona white to help lift the design and keep it from feeling too dark and heavy.  I'm glad I kept the borders pretty plain - there is so much pattern and chaos going on in the stripes in the quilt top itself that it needed some calming down with the more solid borders.

And here it is laid out on my bed - it looks fab with these sheets, too:

Now I need to go decide on a backing fabric.  I've been toying with the idea of using this white and beige woodgrain fabric, which also happens to be marked down in the summer sale.  Or I also like the idea of using a newsprint fabric, but the local quilt shop doesn't currently have much newsprint fabric available so I'm probably out of luck there.  Or I might try some of the local haberdashery shops that carry 60" or wider rolls of fabric and see what they have in the way of cottons that could work (and possibly save me piecing the back).

Either way, this quilt top is already Greta-approved.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced:


July 06, 2015

Gone Sewing

Summer has finally come to southern Sweden!

It's been pretty ridiculous, to tell the truth - still wearing winter boots, socks, jackets and gloves when cycling right up to July.  It's not normally like that here but we keep having Arctic winds blast through - brrr!  According to the forecasts, it's just here for a week so I jumped at the opportunity to spend time at friends' cottage in the warm weather and of course do some sewing while we were at it.

We worked on a baby quilt for friends, who had their baby last November (so yes, we're a little behind the game).  It's an adorable mix of different textured fabrics, including cotton, flannel and chenille and some Heat n'Bond style applique.  We spent about a day and a half hand stitching the applique down and enjoyed some fruit smoothies and Pimms with strawberries in the process - yum!

Hand stitching done, I sat outside with the machine and joined all of the blocks together, then added the borders.  I'd not sewn with chenille previously and I admit, it was a bit tricky.  It had a tendency to slip around so extra pins were useful to keep it in place.  At other times, the walking foot seemed to have trouble feeding it along and it would need a little push to move forward, which I discovered could also cause the thread to break - annoying.  But I persevered and it came together easily enough, despite all that.

Then we sandwiched the layers using fabric glue - I don't think I'll ever go back to basting and pinning ever again!  I got to work doing all of the straight quilting and my friend Ingrid will later do all of the meander and echo quilting.  I stitched in the ditch between the blocks and borders, stitched a square around the chenille blocks and one inch diagonal stripes over the nine patch blocks.  Then in the borders we made a zig zag pattern.

Not too shabby for four days of work!  We should hopefully finally be able to pass along this quilt by later this month.  Stay tuned for photos from that event.

July 03, 2015

Quiz, Quiz, Trade - Parent Getting-to-Know-You Game

Hello, hello!

I'm back with another new teaching resource, available from my TpT store, a Quiz, Quiz, Trade game designed for parents to get to know each other at the beginning of a new academic year.  I've used this game in my first class meetings with parents as an ice-breaker and as a way to introduce them to the sorts of learning activities their children will experience in my class.

What is 'quiz, quiz, trade', you ask?  It's a very simple game that builds both language and social skills (and if you use subject-specific questions, reinforces learnt knowledge, too).  You'll need to print out, cut and laminate the cards to start with.  Game play is very easy so it's a useful game for all ages - even adults.

Each player gets a card.  All players stand up and hold their coloured card in the air; they walk around the room looking for a player with a different coloured card than his/her own.  When they find someone with a different coloured card, they give the person a high-five and partner up.  One person reads the question on his/her card and the partner answers (quiz).  Then the second person reads the question on his/her card and the partner answers (quiz).  Finally, each person swaps cards (trade).  Easy peasy, right?

As always, if you use my resources, I'd love to hear how they worked out for you in your classroom.