Friday 24 April 2015

A Week Of Learning

Made another Boxy bag using the same tutorial as before from kelbysews.

It's gorgeous...made with a FQ of Riley Blake fabric. This time I used nylon for the lining to make it a bit water resistant. Now this was interesting as I had never sewn nylon before. Very flimsy and very thin. For the interfacing I used Vilene H640...good choice normally, but together with the thin nylon this came out a bit floppy for my liking.
Afterwards I explored the net about interfacings, and came across this very useful post at You Sew Girl comparing Vilene to Pellon interfacings. This would have been useful before I actually started...also saw that she combines interfacings for making bags which I probably should have done for this one to give it more stability.
Guess I will have to make another one to get the structure right.

Also, when I took my sewing machine in the other day to have the tech look at my backwards stitching, I got talking to the owner about zippers. Incidentally there was nothing wrong with my machine...seems I am going through a period of being at war with my machine. This does happen from time to time.
Anyway, the owner introduced me to invisible zippers and send me on my way with a folder of instructions to try out at home. Good thing the folder had actual step-by-step samples which was brilliant as the written instructions were hard to follow (I am not a sewer so sometimes do not understand the words that are used).

So invisible, you can't even see it

Looking good from the back

Invisible Zipper foot
Impressed with my efforts...took a while to get the hang of it. I think I ripped this zipper out about three times as it kept sliding away from me. The invisible zipper foot has these little grooves on the underside where the teeth of the zipper neatly fit in (that is, if you align everything properly). Very cool actually and works a treat. So my next pillow will have an invisible zipper (here is hoping).
Again, after I had done all this I came across a free Craftsy class 'Mastering Zipper techniques'. Will have to watch this and hopefully pick up a few tips in areas where I struggle, i.e. sewing a straight line next to the zipper teeth.


Monday 20 April 2015

April 2015 FMQ Challenge

If you are not yet participating in the FMQ Challenge over at Quiltshopgal, you should consider it. It is such a good learning opportunity.

The expert this month was Christina Cameli and as always there were several options to participate. As it so happened I had purchased Christina's Craftsy class "The Secrets of Free-Motion Quilting" a few months earlier, attracted by some of her designs. While I had watched the class already a few times I had not really tried the designs, so this was the perfect opportunity. I really like her Craftsy class...there is something for everybody, whether you are a beginner or  a more experienced Freemotion quilter. I actually had difficulties choosing a design because there are quite a few that I really like.

In the end I chose the tuft design for one of the panels of the pillow. Practiced it a bit first and noticed that I was not that crash hot on quilting away from myself and keeping a straight line was even more of a problem. So I made use of the Full line stencil (machine quilting guide) that I recently acquired and roughly marked myself a grid on my fabric. That worked a treat.
Now the idea was not to follow the lines...they are about 2in apart and that proofed too big, however just having the grid there as a reference kept my lines fairly straight. I love the tuft design and it was relatively easy to stitch, however I must admit that I continued to struggle with quilting away from myself. Somehow my stitches turned a bit wonky going backwards which immediately made me loose concentration. Tried different needles and settings, asked Christina through the class and was thinking that maybe I am just not very used to quilting straight backwards. Yesterday then I stitched backwards with the walking foot and  to my surprise I had the same issue there, so it is definitely the machine...will take it in to the shop today to have the technician look at this. Also could not keep it very consistent from row to row (this looked so easy in the class!), but thought that this just added to the organic feel of it (which I think it did).

First panel done...colours are a bit off in this photo. I used variegated Aurifil 50/2 thread with an 80/12 needle. I love variegated thread. This is an orange type thread going from a light beige to orange to a type of deep rusty colour. This is from the Sheena Norquay collection. Very nice thread indeed...the length of each colour was just right for the leaves.

 For the second panel I chose a leaf design with an 'S' shape in there...loved the look of this.
Action shot on the second panel
Now I am sure there is an unspoken rule about not using variegated thread on a design that requires a lot of backtracking. Well, to hell with it...I could not resist and yes, the backtracking and thread build-up are very obvious and in parts look untidy, but I like it! Must say that this was rather labour intensive. I worked about two days on this little 17inx17in square. This is where the FMQ challenge is so very useful...yes, I can practice the design a bit on a small piece of fabric, however it is only when you stitch this out over a larger area that you begin to understand how to stitch the design. I had done leaf designs before and knew that they can be tricky at times in terms of moving from one area to another, so I thought this would be a good exercise in sharpening my skills. Many times I had odd areas that required me to stop and think, and as you can see I filled some of them with beads rather than more lines which added to the design, I think. And then there was the blasted 'S' shape in each leaf...I can confidently say that I have committed this to muscle memory after completing this a gazillion times...very funny, I could only do the first 'S' if I approached it in a particular way...any deviation from it and the old brain could not cope and would do anything but an 'S'.

And here it new favourite pillow...big thank you to Christina Cameli for this lovely design.

Close up of the unruly leaves
And who would have thought...I finally managed to put a zipper in properly (mind you, took about three attempts)
A decent zipper for a change

If you want to have a look at my pillows so far, I am now keeping them on a board on Pinterest

Linking up to the April 2015 FMQ Challenge over at Quiltshopgal. Have a look at the beautiful pillows and maybe even consider giving it a go yourself.


Thursday 16 April 2015

WIP: A Field Guide

Feeling productive. Stitched the Field Guide Quilt together after I had put it away as I really did not like my colour choices.

Who would have thought... put it together and quite liked it again. Not my favourite quilt in terms of colours but not quite as bad as I had thought either.

Not quite sure how to quilt it...overall design could be good but I am also thinking that I could stitch down the beige coloured cross shape at each intersection to make the charm squares stand out more...hmm, so many choices, always very difficult.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced


Tuesday 14 April 2015

WIP: Stretched Star Revisited

Well, what an adventure this quilt has been. After some discolouration after I got it wet to remove some marking I embarked on treating the quilt with Dylon Colour Run Remover. Did two treatments on the weekend and discovered to my horror that every alternative white patch in the last two rows had changed into this yellow-greenish colour! Did not take any photos...too horrendous to put on film. Not sure what happened... I wondered whether I had used a different type of white fabric, maybe in the last two rows?

Anyway, treated it again...well, this time the yellow-green discolouration had grown to cover most of the alternative patches, so at least I knew it was not another type of white I had used. I decided that this was it...I was not going to treat it again but just washed it (again!) in some wool wash. To my surprise, this seemed to make a difference in the yellow-green disclouration, so after this I washed it another two or three times. This time though I used normal washing powder, albeit on the gentle cycle. Yep, that did the trick...quilt is back to normal! You have to wonder what happened...maybe the yellow colour ran from the backing?

All told this quilt has been washed in the washing machine 6 -7 times. I must say I was very impressed that the quilt came out in one piece. Crinkly, but intact. So this morning I went ahead and blocked it as I had lost a good inch all around in crinkles.
Here is my very scientific method...I use the tiles as a reference point for straightness and then gently pull the moistened quilt into shape. As you can see there is some fullness left in the star blocks which really is to be expected as I did not quilt them down. All in all, a good result!

While I was mucking around with the quilt for the last two days,  I have been practising FMQ in preparation for this months' pillow challenge featuring expert Christina Cameli.
I love variegated thread
Not quite right
Looks better when the leaves interlock
I noticed that my machine does not like to go backwards in a straight line when stitching dead straight away from yourself...this makes sense really, as the thread goes from front to back through the needle and going backwards the thread places itself either left or right from the needle when stitching, creating a few wonky stitches when the thread switches from left to right. I mucked around with this for a very long time, trialling different thread and needles etc. only to find that it is the speed and movement that will make the difference. This was an interesting you can see I do not practice for long on one thing and usually start breaking out into just stitching swirls and plumes. Yep, my machine definitely got a bit of a workout...mind you, these are just a few samples. I did use a lot of fabric up just practicing.

Time to get that pillow done.


Saturday 11 April 2015

WIP: Stretched Stars Finished

I have had an interesting time with this quilt.

But more on that later. Firstly, let me show you how I sew the binding on...was going to take a photo of those little clips I use for a long time, but kept forgetting it. Every time I come across those Quilter's Clips you can buy, I think about taking a photo of those inexpensive bull clips that I use.
Works just as well...I only ever use one or two to hold the next section in place, shifting them as I move around the edge.
So, here I was sewing on the binding when the cat decided to force her way onto my lap to take up her favourite sleeping position at night in front of the telly. Normally I would move the quilt out of the way, but I really wanted to get this done...well, the cat was equally determined not to give in, so here you see me trying to sew while she was holding her position. This was hilarious!
In the end she did win as I felt sorry for her. You cannot see it but the poor animal had some blood taken (from the neck!) earlier in the day by the vet to work out what is wrong with her. She has had some kind of gastro upset in the last few months and she has been on and off to the vet to work out what is going on. Poor on a really bland diet and the needle today did freak her out.

Well, I managed to finish the quilt off the next day and here it is
The binding looks really nice with those bright colours
Back to my earlier point. I had some faded blue chalk from one of a quilting motifs that I had tried left on the quilt. I decided to make it disappear with the iron...well, usually this does work. Not this time! Not only did it not disappear but I nearly "burnt" the fabric. As I was not sure whether the fabric got singed or the iron had left some mark behind, I washed that spot off the quilt. All was well until I discovered the next day that I had some colour run in the areas that got wet.
 Not sure you can see it, but believe me it is there in several spots...The red colour is definitely running...cannot believe it. This fabric has been washed (I think). Bit undecided whether to wash the whole quilt now with the product below or just leave it.

What if this ruins the whole quilt? Somehow things have not gone that smoothly with this quilt. On the other hand, I have used this product before with an enormous blue colour run and that had worked fine...

Wish me luck with this! I think I will have to bite the bullet, so to speak...cannot give it away like that as there will be a major colour run disaster when the person first washes the quilt, apart from the fact that I really cannot just leave it like that now.

Wow...the trials and tribulations of quilting.

As this quilt was finished on a Friday, I will link up to TGIFF which was hosted by Lorna over at SewFresh Quilts.


Tuesday 7 April 2015

WIP: Stretched Star

This should be titled "Not Impressed".

Had my WIP rolled up for some time by now and then spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to figure out how to quilt this. Initially I was going to quilt a motif in the white squares, however then changed my mind. Actually regretted not having done an overall design on it...I reckon that would have been the best for this quilt.

Now that I was left with the Stitch-in-the ditch quilting and no particularly brilliant ideas, I went for the easy option and just echoed the stars using my sewing foot as a guide after a few initial mishaps.  Probably pays to think this through a bit...I started off with variegated rainbow thread and 1/4in that looked absolutely horrendous! Why? ...not entirely sure on the thread but the 1/4in echo just highlighted the imperfections in the piecing and it appeared as if I could not sew a straight line at all. Actually started to doubt my piecing abilities...changed to white thread after a lot of unpicking.

So, here it is...not impressed at all, but it will have to do.

I have got some pulling of the fabric going on in parts and just realised that I have sewn at least 3 lines on the wrong side of the star, so will have some unpicking to do later. After this I am done with a nice striped binding for this quilt, so hopefully that will lift it up a bit.

Definitely overall design next time.


Saturday 4 April 2015

Boxy Bag

I am on a month leave...yah! You would think that I walk into my sewing room, roaring to complete one of the many WIPs lying around. Have to say when I walked in there the other day, I felt completely overwhelmed...there is stuff everywhere. I think I have got about 3 - 4 WIPs in production at varying stages. So I started with cleaning out my fabric stash...yep, got right to the bottom of the bin, looking through the fabric, re-folding it and wondering more than once why I had purchased particular fabric.

Yes, and you guessed it...started (and completed!) another "on the to-do-list" project. Made one of those boxy bags that I had been collecting instructions for for some time. I went with a tutorial from kelbysews. This boxy bag has exposed seams on the inside and was a bit easier to construct for a newbie.
The instructions were easy to follow with lots of great pictures, so there I was with my Ipad next to me laying out the panels and fabric pieces exactly how she had done it to get a handle on how all of this fitted together. I am particularly spatially challenged and cannot think through how things fit together unless I hold things in my hand and can touch and look at it. At times this was a challenge.
Boxy bag...approx. 4 1/2" x 4" x 8"
As you can see the birds ended up on the side...well, they were supposed to be somewhere in the middle!
Again, struggled with the zipper and actually bought the wrong zipper I think. Mine was an open end zipper...not sure what you use them for, but obviously not for this, as it left a bit of a hole on one side even though I went to some pains to center it appropriately. I think I am doing something wrong with the side is always sewn in beautifully, but the second side has a lot to be desired...spacing is again off, even though I thought I was sewing it down exactly the same way as the first side. However, managed to pull the zipper pull away from under where I was sewing to make things I reckon I am getting there.

Kelby did provide some additional information about interfacing which I skimmed over...I used fusible fleece, however did not do any additional quilting on the bag, which left the whole thing fairly spongy. When I tried to attach the zipper with the lining and the exterior panel with the fusible fleece, my lining started to slip away into the the end I placed some lightweight fusible interfacing on the lining as well which did the trick at keeping it in place.
Lining with exposed seams
The exposed seams worked very well...I used one of my overlock stitches to tidy them up and I must say having them inside the bag is really hardly noticeable, except for the fact that I forgot to change the thread and had sewn my initial seam with dark blue thread (oops!).

Love those little tags on the side
Overall, most rewarding little project...took me just a couple of hours yesterday evening. I have another few tutorials saved with various Boxy Bags tutorials with the inside seams not exposed...not sure whether I will try this as this looks just as good with the exposed seams, I think. The only other thing that I would do different next time is that I would quilt the outside of the bag to make the exterior a bit firmer.

Linking up to the #CreativeGoodness Linky Party over at Darlene's Quiltshopgal to show off my little bag and check out what other quilters are up to.


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