Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quilter vs Zipper Cushion

I knew in my heart of hearts this wasn't going to be easy. I don't make clothes very often for a reason. I have gravitated to the quilting arena because zippers don't show up very often. However in slipcovers, zippers are inherent. I suppose I could put in hook and loop tape, but then I would have to change the patterns to reflect that and my patterns are awful enough as they are. They leave out so much that I'm almost pulling out my hair trying to figure out what to do. The book I'm using is called Custom Slipcovers Made Easy. There's nothing easy about it the way this is written since the author has assumed so much.

Ahh, but there's nothing now to do but go on since I've purchased the fabric and started. So gentle reader I tried to put the darn zipper in. You read about the trials and tribulations about getting the darn zipper put together. That done, I managed to use my trusty Steam-a-Seam2 to stick the zipper to the basted seam. Worked well enough, but then I made a fatal error - I waited overnight to actually sew the zipper in. At least I think that was the error. When I tried to open up the seam the next day, the darn thing was almost glued shut and my seam ripper actually ripped right through the zipper tape! I could have cried - or screamed. Maybe I did both.
 Crap, I now had to start all over again with a new length of zipper tape and I had to cut a new piece for the zipper to go into. I hate putting zippers in. Have I said that? Second time around it only took me 15 minutes to get the zipper put together - I'm getting faster. I did use the fusible tape again, but I didn't wait overnight to sew it. No problems. Whew!

Now onto sewing the welting onto main cushion pieces so it will go into the seam. I've never used welting before, so I follow my directions in my beloved book. It has pictures and all, but a big drawback. The fabric they decided to use looks the same on the front and back, so you can't tell the wrong side from the right side in the pictures. What mistake do you think I made when sewing on my welting? Right, I sewed it to the wrong side of the fabric. Bad part is that I didn't discover this until it was sewn onto the box band. By that time I was completely fried!

If the welting had been huge, I would have probably swallowed, waited till morning and pulled the whole thing apart yet again. But, my welting is very small, so it is now on the inside, quite invisible. This quilter gave up, I hate to say.

The cushion cover is complete and on. Not great, but okay. Lesson: not all things say quilts! Now, onward to the rest of the slipcover . . . ho ho!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quilter vs Slipcover, Part 2

I should have known this wasn't going to go well because every time I measured something the number 13 kept coming up. I should have just put all my stuff up and just went back downstairs and climbed back into bed. It didn't matter that it was a bright shiny sunny day. The darn "13" was a big warning and I ignored it.

Today I decided to start on the cushion for the chair, at least to cut all the fabric out and to get the zipper done. Remember I'm a quilter. Ever the word "zipper" makes me kind of feel sick, but I've actually made clothes way back when so I gulped and thought "Go ahead girl, you can do this."  It would really be a big help if the books I'm using would have had a good editor. I'd volunteer! Used to do that in a previous life. Not sure how they got published to be honest. (Not true, I know how that happens. But, good golly, they've left out so much information. Sigh.) Anyway, onward. Managed to measure (Here are those 13s that shouldn't be there. I mean I would measure a length of fabric and find it to be say 10 inches. Then check it and find it to be 13 inches! This kind of thing happened 3 !!! separate times. Freaky.) and then cut out the side panels for the cushion. Involves some crawling around on the floor, which Tigger the cat loves. Nothing like a cat who loves to rub on your scissors while you're cutting. He likes to live dangerously - only 9 lives right? Me, I'm worried about his paws and maybe his nose!

Now to the zipper. For this I have zipper chain, which I need to cut to length and then attach the pull and stop. My instructions consist of saying: cut to length needed, slide pull on and attach stop at bottom. Should be easy. Sure.
This is what zipper chain separated looks like and the pull. Now imagine trying to put that pull on the end of the chain. Just slide it on - easy as pie right? An hour later I felt like poking my eyes out! I even resorted to looking at Youtube videos to no avail. They all use plastic zippers. Not the same product folks.
 
I understood the problem - the darn teeth would not mesh in the pull and the more frustrated I became the harder it got to do it. A little zen was needed. Deep breathing and looking straight down into the top of the zipper and praying a lot . . . . and it finally caught.
I quickly put pins in both ends so the pull would not come off  and then gently ran it up and down the zipper to make sure the teeth would mesh well. Then I installed the metal stop at the bottom. Next time (if I ever take on this kind of project again) I will probably buy plastic chain despite the fact that I dislike plastic zippers intently. They appear much easier to work with.
 
I think I'll stop for today while I'm ahead. Too many 13s for my blood. The quilter in me is spooked! I need to fumigate my quilting space to get rid of them and then I think I'll go read some good quilting magazine before I tackle the full cushion, which is next.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quilting vs Slipcovers

Do you know what happens when you put your house on the market? It means that there is no way that you can possibly sew because you must keep you're house as neat as pin. Secondly, when you finally sell, you're scrambling to pack everything or get it ready for the movers. And then I watch as they wrap up my very dear to me sewing cabinet and TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN! I almost screamed. No, the sewing machine was not inside, but still, there were some notions stored in there. Aargh.

But I don't really want to talk about the move. It really went mostly smoothly. It just takes forever to find stuff again - I don't care how carefully I think I marked it. And I thought I my first project would be, of course, a quilting one, but no it's something completely different.

Our living room furniture is looking a bit haggard, lots actually. Yet we like it. It's comfy. New stuff is expensive and we're retired now. So I found a great website while searching out how to make slipcovers, www.newtoto,com, which I recommend greatly for upholstery-type fabric. Great prices and they offer free swatches.


I had a book on how to do this, but it is not really clear. I'm going to try to do the chair first, and I'll document my progress here. You may see me crying - I'm a quilter remember. Here goes: First order of business ordered 10 yards of fabric and then went to local fabric shop for rest of supplies - 10 yds. of cording for welting, 2 yds. of zipper chain and stop sets, and thread. I already had pins. Shocking what it takes just for the chair. And, yes, the fabric cost was low enough, under $10/yd! I said it was good.

1. First order of business, make the welting. Gulp, gotta cut into this fabric and make 10 yards of bias. Book wants me to cut individual strips, but I would rather do it the quilting way with continuous bias strips. I'm a renegade already.
 

Tigger thinks he's a big help in holding down the fabric.
 
Cutting those strips took forever. But I'd rather have 10 yards continuous bias than have to sew together lots of little strips. The quilter way was the way to do it.
This is my pile of cord (tiny isn't it?), and fabric. All I have to do is sew them together. It's a matter of getting my brain and fingers to work together and praying that my machine and the thread will work for that amount of time too. I have a good machine (fingers crossed that nothing awful has happened to it in the move - this is the shake down cruise so to speak), and the thread is brand new. Let's go.
This is what it looks like without my fingers getting in the way. Use a zipper foot to get close to the cording. Not too difficult, just need to get into a rhythm.
 Machine held out and so did I! Only had to wind one bobbin too, major miracle. Nice pile of welting to use on the chair. Close- up is below.
I even have extra bias strip if I need to make more welting, but I will need to buy more cording. First major hurdle completed.  Now on to the cushion. Wonder if I'll use my quilting powers there too?
 



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Halloween

I've had this wonderful pattern for a Halloween quilt for a couple of years and I decided that this year I would make it, just for me! It's different from my normal quilts: lots of applique and embroidery, but it's way cute. So off I go, I even started early enough - or so I thought August. It only had 5 major blocks, not so big so surely I could get those done. So I started on the first block. It turned out great, but it took a lot
longer than I thought to get it done. The cat on the roof is really cute though and was worth all the time and effort so off I went on to the next blocks sure that I would still make deadline. And maybe I would have if life hadn't intervened. Why does stuff like that have to happen? I forget that I don't have 4-5 hours a day to devout to quilting every single day. The other blocks have gotten done. See them below.
So you can see these blocks came out cuter than cute and I love all of them, but they took me gosh darn forever. You do not want to know how long it took to blanket stitch around each one of those fence posts.  However it's worth it. Now that the main blocks are done it's time to finish off the quilt. I thought that would be quick. That's what I get for thinking. It is now well past Halloween. I will finish this quilt. I happen to really like it. But it is driving me crazy. I discovered that there were 2 more blocks, plus corner blocks, not to mention the border. Oh yes the border -  I mean for crying out loud today alone I cut out 14 bats for the border. The person who designed this is just crackin' up. Easy quilt! Sure it's easy, but it will take them 2 years at least! Ha ha ha! 
 I guess Halloween and trick or treat can sa(y) quilts right?

My Helper

Every once in a while, or maybe quite a lot depending on the day, I require some help. In quilting that usually means that I'm scrambling to look something up in one of my many quilting books. Or, egads, trying to find that one article that I pulled out of the magazine that had an amazing tip that I knew I would use one day - TODAY IS THAT DAY - but of course I can't find the darn article in the array of articles that I have saved. Truly I thought I had a system that would help me find them again, but it obviously isn't working. Arghh!

Oh well, soldiering on I continue and mutter to myself as I sit at my sewing machine. Much to my surprise, I do wind up with a helper. He doesn't really solve the problem, but by getting right in my face and forcing me to slow down I'm able to figure out what I was doing wrong. Who's my hero? My cat, of course - Tigger.
Normally Tigger sits on the other side of the room. But that day he just came right up onto the machine. After he had my attention, he backed off and let me sew, but stayed where he could keep an eye on things.
 
Thanks Tigger. This piecing will be done very soon and I will be ready to quilt this quilt very soon. Seems even cats have a lot to sa(y) about quilts!
 



Friday, August 16, 2013

Time Flies

I really can't believe that so much time has gone by since I've last sat down to write. I'm so ashamed. Writing is not my forte, obviously, I've said that before, but gee whiz, for the very few of you who actually read this blog . . . well.  I can only say I'm like your old high school friend who pops up now and again. I think of you a lot, and I mean to get to you, but life gets in my way.

This time, old friends, life did get in the way. For part of the time I was I just wanted to be sewing, not writing, BUT I was doing neither. I will not go into details, just suffice it to say I was too sick to even think - well I was thinking about it - to sick to pick up a needle, so I was reduced to looking at magazines and such. Dreaming about doing things. Do you dream about what you want to do? I highly recommend it. The hard part is remembering to put it down on paper somewhere so you won't forget what you dreamed! Old School: if you see something in a magazine that you like, cut it out and put it in folder or tape/paste it your doodle book. New School: Use Pinterest! It's a great online bulletin board.

One of the things I came across was snowball blocks. Not new, definitely old school, but they can be very fun and they are easy, peasy to do! I used them to showcase a fabric. Large trains, in this case, otherwise they would have been cut up. I didn't want to use them in the border of the quilt either.  So fussy cut the print you want to showcase and then cut out 4 smaller squares.
Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each of the small squares. Sew them on the corner of the big square. This shows just the first square.
Then you trim off everything with a 1/4" seam. It will look strange and feel stranger! Yes, you're cutting both squares at the outer edge. So this is what it looks like before you press it.
Now press the small squares out. It's a miracle! You get your square back.
I  had so much fun with this. I hope you will try it. Doesn't have to be something big. Mine wasn't.
Okay . . . it looks bigger. I love it when life sa(y)s quilts!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lousy Blogger

It's official, in case you hadn't noticed it, I'm a lousy blogger. Lousy in that I never get to my blog! I'm supposed to be carrying on about quilty stuff and that's great, but I find that I like to "do" quilty stuff and sitting at the computer doesn't always satisfy that need. Maybe it's the fact that I like to give you guys pictures to go along with my terrible ramblings and if I don't have them I feel bad about writing? That's why I wasn't a journalism major in college.

Yet, I wasn't a quilting major either. I was an economics major. My son, though, bless his wonderful heart, all through high school thought that meant I was a "home economics major." Not in a bad way, but just because I did the quilty thing and lots of other crafty things. He was kind of embarrassed to discover later that - no - Mom was really a math kind of girl!

Well I've really turned that mostly toward my quilting. I do hope that the few of you that actually read this poor excuse of a blog enjoy it. Maybe it makes you smile and maybe it makes you think that one day you can try it, if you're not already dabbling in the fine fun of quilting. It is an art, but it is also fun and that's why I do it.

The last blog had the finale of making the Pathways quilt. Did you make yours?
Then like you, probably the holidays and regular life interrupted my ability, time, (and desire - my head is hanging in shame) to get to this venue. But here are a few of the quilts I've done.

My friends children are now having their own children so I have baby quilts to make. But I'm a superstitious old fool and won't start a baby quilt until after the child is born. Then I quilt like mad to get it done. Here is one that is finished.
I have another almost done and one more that isn't even started! Luckily babies understand. I also made a table runner and place mats as gifts for people we were visiting over the holidays. Did I think of this way in advance? Of course not!


And now we're in a brand new year! I've got quilting projects galore. I'd really like to share them with you. I'll try to be better about writing, but remember with me the problem is that so many things sa(y) quilts!