quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing

Upcycled Baby Blankets

A friend of mine called me a few months ago needing some help. Her dog chewed up her husband’s favorite childhood comforter and she wanted to cut it up and turn it into 4 blankets – one for each of her children. But she doesn’t sew so….

The comforter is super cute, and I see why husband loved it. White background with cute, brightly colored bicycles on it. It’s your standard sorta 70’s or 80’s era comforter with invisible thread and a poly backing that is somehow magically attached to the bike fabric. Except this one had holes.

Lucky for me, the blankets didn’t need to be the same size and I was able to cut around the holes to get four decent sized blankets. Decent enough for kids, at least. Cutting it was a bit of a challenge since the comforter has some puckers in it from the original quilting. Once I did get the pieces cut, I measured them – I arbitrarily picked sizes based on the space I could work with – then I cut flannel to size.

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The easy part was getting a square piece of flannel cut. Because of the gathers in the top, I had to ease in in a few spots from the top and that made sewing down the binding a little less straightforward. I sewed binding to the flannel on two of the blankets, folding the binding to the top, and for the other two I sewed the binding to the top, and folded the binding to the back. I’m not sure which I liked better as they both presented some challenges.

Sewing the binding to the flannel was much easier but stitching the binding to the top of the blanket was harder because I had to work with all the puckers, folds and gathers from the top piece. The inverse is also true. In the end, though, they all look great and my friend is super excited with them.

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I used a yellow and white polka flannel on the back of each blanket and each blanket has a different binding from my pile of scrap bindings. That also allows each child to have his or her own blanket that they can identify by the binding. I consider that a big win, especially for the littles that can’t read a name or a label.

Even bigger win is that she picked them up this morning and is going to surprise her husband for their anniversary tonight. Sweet!

 

quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing

Remove the Clutter and Create

I strongly believe that in order to create freely, we sometimes have to get rid of the clutter in our lives. That clutter can come in different forms: doing the laundry, cleaning the house, volunteering, helping with homework, and many times for me, cleaning up my sewing room and knocking out some unfinished projects.

When I head to my sewing machine and see small projects littered in my space, I get a little anxious. I WANT to create what I want to create when I have time to sew. The quilt or project I’m working on is THE NUMBER ONE THING, right? I don’t necessarily want to work on those other things I’ve put aside for another day. That’s why those things have been case aside anyhow.

Then I finish my project, and I’m ready to move on to something else, but I have to find inspiration. That’s when the clutter actually helps. If I knock out the little things that I have pushed aside for a variety of reasons, then I help myself in few ways:

  1. I finish a project.
  2. I get said project off the floor and start cleaning(ish).
  3. If a project is finished, then I have more space in my head to create. I’m not bogged down my the pressure to finish “other” things. This is important for me because I tend to get wrapped up in the minutiae.

Recently I finished a few projects, and put another aside for not cooperating, and I started tackling some things that have been yelling “Finish me!”

First up:  a Daisy scout vest. Just needed to sew on a few patches. It took all of 20 minutes. Done and done.

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2. A seriously overdue baby quilt. A very good friend of mine asked me to make quilts for babies 1 and 2. And I had those suckers finished on time. The quilt for baby 3? Just finishing it. Awesome, except she’s 18 months old now. Hey, I was busy writing a book, y’all.

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I was also struggling with how to incorporate the elephants. I’m not sure why but whatevs. It all finally came together. img_95613. And last but not least, a journal cover for a teacher. It’s part of her Christmas gift and all I can say is I hope she likes it. If not, I do, and I’ll gladly take it back.

img_9584Interestingly, another super groovy idea came into my head late one night after I’d finished round 2 with my Bejeweler, proving that sometimes the best way to get your creative going is to clean up projects and free your mind. It makes me happy.

Now if I can just finish up these projects to get to some stuff I really want to work on I’ll be set!

friends, make something, sewing

Hack A Quilt Tote

I was at the beach this week for fall break and wrote a post that was supposed to appear instead of this one. Then I got home last night and decided to make a bag for Mary’s Hack That Tote! blog tour instead of my wimpy little post. Seems reasonable, right? 5 days of travel surely meant I had time to come home and make a bag. Well, in my head it did.

I planned to make a tote for Quilt Market LAST YEAR and failed. I ran out of time and couldn’t get it together. No biggie. I sat on the fabric for a FULL YEAR ready to make something but never really carved out the time for myself to do it. Always wanting to make a bag but couldn’t get it together.

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So when Mary asked me to participate in a book tour for Hack That Tote! I KNEW I had to make a tote bag with this fabric. I knew it! Then, once again, I ran out of time. I clearly have time management issues. And small children.

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I digress, though.

I LOVE a good tote bag. I mean, seriously LOVE…so picking my favorite pattern was a breeze. My specifications are big and kinda slouchy – sorta like this bag I bought several years ago.

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The obvious starting point for me is the pool tote.

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Using Mary’s tips about sizing up and down your tote, I grabbed my calculator and increased the size 10%. Not a lot, but enough to hold a good size quilt and supplies for binding.

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I lined each piece with a heavyweight non-woven fusible interfacing and added a small pocket to each side of the lining pieces.

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I made the interior following the steps for the Basic Tote.

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I attached cotton webbing to each side of the exterior tote bag before sewing the pieces together. Because I planned to use this as a bag to tote half finished, in need of binding quilts and other projects, the straps are rather long to accommodate the bulk of quilts.

I sewed the straps across the top, bottoms, sides and made an “X” in the center for stability. I also added an extra piece of interfacing on the back where the straps attached (something like 4″ x 15″).

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I placed the lining inside the exterior of the bag, wrong sides together. I pinned the top, attached a bias binding and voila!

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fullsizerender-9A quilt tote is born! The bag has a lap quilt AND and full size quilt in it with room to spare. Perfect for carrying around projects! I’m so excited about it!

Aside from showing you how to take a basic pattern and changing it into virtually any kind of bag, Mary also has great information about interfacings, fabrics and accessories for your bag. For a chance to win a copy of your own Hack That Tote! be sure to follow my blog and leave a comment about your favorite tote hack below or a hack you’d like to make.

I’ll pick a number using random.org for the winner (announced on 10/7). Winners in the States will receive a copy of the book, and winners outside the States will receive an e-book.

You can follow along and leave comments on all the blogs below to increase your chances to win this incredible book!

9/27 C&T  http://www.ctpub.com/blog/
9/28 Sue O’Very http://sueoverydesigns.com/blog/
9/29 Gen Q Teri Lucas http://generationqmagazine.com/
9/30 Patty Murphy  http://pattymurphyhandmade.com
10/1 Vanessa Lynch http://punkinpatterns.com/blog
10/2 Lindsay Conner http://lindsaysews.com
10/3 Stephanie Moore http://www.alittlemooreblog.com
10/4 Katy Cameron http://www.the-littlest-thistle.com
10/5 Kim Niedzwiecki http://www.gogokim.com
10/6 Mary Abreu  http://confessionsofacraftaddict.com

Happy Hacking!

book, featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing, Uncategorized

Piecing Makeover Blog Book Tour + Giveaway

What a week it’s been! Wow! Thanks for all the love, y’all! The week was such a success and I couldn’t have done it without C&T Publishing, AnneMarie, Jodie, Teri at GenQ, Sandi, Mary, and Kristin. Really big thanks to each of you!

My biggest tip to share is to ask for help. I mean – How easy is that!? Seriously, though. When I first started to quilt I always asked my mom but not everyone has a mom that sews, or is near. However,  if you are fortunate enough, your local quilt shop has staff on hand to help you work through your problems. Yes, it means another trip out, and you might come home with more fabric but getting inspired while getting help is fun! And I promise they LOVE to help figure out your quilting problems! If the shop can’t help, they will find someone that can. Honest.

If you don’t have a quilt shop near you, go online to see if you can find the answer to your problem, or send a message to a quilter via a blog or read a book – perhaps, mine?  A little time to noodle on the issue might work for you, too. Don’t be afraid to explore possibilities. And if you are worried about messing up your favorite piece of fabric, experiment with some muslin, or old scraps until you’ve solved your problem.

Most importantly, remember it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s how we learn. I have quilts riddled with errors and almost every quilt I make throws me for a loop at some point or another – I really should plan more! But I’ve learned a lot. Some of my (ahem) older friends have been a valuable source of knowledge, too.

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C&T is giving away one copy at each stop along the way and today is your last chance to win a copy of Piecing Makeover  for yourself (printed copy in the U.S. and e-book outside the States). Leave a comment on the blog and we will announce the winners tomorrow.

Here’s the list again so you can check to see if you have won on another page. Winners will be chosen at random using random.org number generator.

9/13  AnneMarie Chany http://www.genxquilters.com/
9/15 Teri Lucas/Gen Q Magazine  http://generationqmagazine.com/
9/16 Sandi Hazlewood http://www.craftyplanner.com/
9/18 Kristin Esser https://kristinesser.com/
Happy piecing, everyone!

*edited on 9/20 – Congratulations to Sally for winning a copy of Piecing Makeover!

quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing, Uncategorized

Quilts for …..

Last week we woke up to an unspeakable tragedy, and as usual, quilters jumped right in to help. I was compelled to make few block to send to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild, along with some binding, and then a friend asked me why I was doing it. Why am I sending blocks?

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You know, when you are asked a question like that, it kinda makes you think. Why was I doing it? What would compel a person to send blocks and supplies for quilts to people I don’t even know? The answer is simple: LOVE.

Steven Colbert coined it perfectly when he said “Love is a Verb and to Love is to Do”. And that’s what quilters do. This is how we band together for the greater good. In a time of tragedy, any tragedy, not just Orlando, this is how we can show strangers that we care. Think about it. To receive a quilt, a handmade gift always associated with love and kindness and warmth is truly a gift for people during a trying time. When one might be angry, or full of despair, or any other range of emotions, getting literally get wrapped in warmth and love is a great way to help people find comfort. Even if they are strangers.

So that’s why we do it. We can. We can do something good to help others.

Even if it’s only a quilt.

Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing

Pointed

Every so often I make a quilt that requires me to sew points at a bulky intersection. Over the years I have tried different things but find my best tip is to use pins. It seems counterintuitive, right? The pins will shift your points when you go through all the layers of fabric. Or will they?

Yes. If you pin through multiple layers of fabric at a bulky intersection with a point that will happen. But what if you use the points as a guideline?

Here’s how I handle that.

1. I stick a straight pin through the point on each piece.

First side


Through both points.

2. Nestle the pieces together so the pin is perpendicular to the fabric.


3. Place two straight pins on either side of the pin going through the point, about 1/8″ at most.

4. Push those pins through the fabric and remove the center pin.


5. BASTE the edge. 90% of the time this works. To avoid ripping out stitches, I baste first to make sure I’m sewing exactly through the points. It’s much easier to take out basting stitches and its gentler on your pieces.

6. Once your basting stitches are correct, sew over them with a regular stitch.


7. Press your pieces. Many times, seams with lots of bulk are great candidates for furling, but not always. And this seam wasn’t completely cooperating so I called it a day. It’s flat enough and a machine will easily be able to get through the intersection to quilt it.


8. Enjoy!

quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing

More Scrap Quilts

I have been busy sorting and cutting my scraps. I have entirely too many. A friend of mine suggested I toss them. Can you believe that?! I scoffed that the idea. It did, however, encourage me to start using them. Maybe.

I’m going on a quilt retreat in a few weeks so my plan is to cut now and so I can spend almost 3 days sewing. Sounds like a plan, eh?

I’m starting with this pile.

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and cutting my strips to 1 1/4″ each.

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It’s a weird size, I know. Not all of my scraps were large enough to make 1 1/2″ strips and I decided 1″ strips would be too small to deal with once they were pieced. I see no reason to have finished 1/2″ strips for this. That makes for precise work and a lot of sewing for what should be a quick and easy log cabin quilt.

The centers will be dark grey because: why not. Ready to get started but I think I have 2 other tops ahead of it. Maybe? I’m starting to lose count….