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


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!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quilt-a-Long Finale!

Well after letting a whole month go whizzing by I was feeling supremely guilty or is that "quilty"! I have lit into the quilt-a-long quilt like a crazy woman and it is done!

When I left you last time you had put your blocks together and were having the time of your lives quilting them to your hearts desires, which your are no doubts still doing. That's okay. These instructions will still be here when you're ready for them. Enjoy the quilting, Lord knows I do.

BINDING After all the quilting is done, trim your quilt so that the quilt sandwich layers are all lined up and the quilt is square. Since you squared it before you started to quilt this is not hard, it is just a matter of cleaning up edges. Then you need to cut binding strips. Most of the time I cut binding from straight of grain and that's what we'll do here. Another time maybe we'll tackle bias binding. Bias binding is very strong and can handle a lot of wear and tear and can go around a lot of corners. An example is the wedding ring quilt I made - all those corners needed a bias binding so I wouldn't be fighting with the binding all the time.  I'm also going to do a continuous binding with mitered corners. Yep, mitered corners. Please, don't go screaming from the room. They really aren't that hard. They only LOOK hard. I mean for crying out loud if guys can figure out how to miter corners in construction we can do it in quilting - no real offense intended guys!
1.  Measure through the middle of your quilt both ways and double it to get the length of binding you will need.
2.  Cut 2 1/2" strips of fabric in the color of your choice. Cut enough strips so that you have the length you measured in step 1. I used 2 different fabrics.
3.  Sew your strips together. It's best to use a diagonal sewing line and I wish to heaven I had taken pictures of how I did this, but I only took a picture of the finished product. I can't draw here either so I will try to write it out. You have 2 strips. 1 strip the end right side up (the rest of the strip should go off to your left) and take the 2nd strip right side down perpendicular to it (the rest of the strip should hang directly down). It will look like you have a little box of the 2 fabrics in front of you, wrong side up. Carefully pin to hold at the edge. With a pencil or marker, draw a diagonal line from the top left corner of the box to the bottom right corner. This is your sewing line. As long as the strips are perpendicular to each other, they don't have to be exactly lined up - it's ok if #2 strip is up a bit. You can check before you sew if you take out your pins and fold the fabric back on the sewing line. It should look like you have one long strip of fabric. Grit your teeth sew on that line! Viola! Trim and there you go.
 Do that again and again until you have the length you need. Press all the seams to one side. Then press the entire puppy in half.
Now you have this long fabric string that your cat is going bonkers over. What to do. Go rummage in the recycling bin. You do have a recycling bin? Tut - tut. Grab an empty paper towel holder or toilet tissue holder and start winding. The larger the quilt, the larger the holder you'd want.

You're now ready to sew the binding to the quilt!

Bring your quilt to your machine quilt top up. That's right. We start with right side up. Unroll some of your gorgeous binding and match the raw edge to the raw edge of the quilt. Try to start about 3/4 of the way down one of the sides. Not right at a corner! Not right at the top or the bottom. Leave yourself about 6 - 10 inches of unsewn binding. Sew with your normal 1/4" seam.

Now I do not sew with my binding sitting next to me like the picture. I tried to keep it in my lap, but it jumps around and drives me crazy. Instead I just let it go to the floor. It's fine down there; I just kicked it to the side. The cat looked at it once or twice and decided that it wasn't worth the trouble.

Continue sewing until you come to your first corner. 1/4" away stop, back stitch, and pull the quilt out. Carefully turn the entire quilt so that you can continue sewing down the next side. Turn the binding up so that it is above the edge of the quilt. You'll see that nice diagonal line in the corner.

Now flip the binding down, over your finger so the top fold is even with top edge of the quilt.
Hold that down, and slide the whole thing under your needle and start sewing again. Make sure your secure your stitches. Ta-da! You've mitered your first corner! Easy peasy! Continue sewing until the next corner. Stop 1/4" from the edge, secure the stitching and miter another one. Do this until you come back to where you have the binding tail that you left behind.

Fold back 1/4" and finger press on the binding tail. If you have lots of binding left over, measure so that you can nestle 3 or 4 inches of binding into the tail and cut off the rest. Fold over 1/4" of the end here too. Carefully nestle the binding into the tail, making sure there are no lumps. Then continue sewing until you meet up with your starting point. Secure the end.

Your almost done! Press the binding to the back. Wiggle the corners into a pleasing shape. You may need to cut out bulk from the corners so they will turn well.

 Pin the binding into place, making sure that it covers your machine stitching (of the binding). Hand stitch the binding to the backing. Add a label - if you desire - and you are done!
The Front
and the back!
Hope you had fun. Enjoy the process and remember to look for those things that SA(y) Quilt!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quilt-a-Long, Part 3

Well, I was an optimist wasn't I? Thinking it would only take me a week to put a whole quilt top together, even if it's only a lap quilt. What in the world was I thinking? Did you do better than that? I'm sorry I let you down if you did and you should have left me a "get a move on" comment! Actually, I have been moving on. With the quilt and lots of other things.  But first where are we on the quilt? Put the blocks together! This is getting to the part I really like. Piecing is fun, but the quilting is where my heart is. For me, that's where it all comes together. Hey, it's what makes a quilt a Quilt!

You'll need a space large enough to spread your quilt out on. A lot of times this means the floor, though it can be a bed, a table, or even the wall with some flannel or something to hold your blocks up on the wall. Lay the blocks out in a pattern that pleases YOU! That's right, it's all about you. Put them out in even rows alternating the wavy block. You can see part of my quilt, the blocks already sewn together below.  I just looked at the colors of the fabrics and moved them around until I like how they looked.

After you're happy with the arrangement sew the rows together using the usual 1/4 inch seam allowance. Your quilt top is done! Now it's ready to make into a quilt sandwich - do you understand why quilter's are a hungry bunch?

Make sure that your quilt top is square, measuring through the middle and the ends both ways. You'll probably need to trim a little, don't worry that's ok. Cut backing fabric same size as the quilt top. Sometimes I cut mine a little bit larger and trim it back later. It's okay to piece fabrics together to get enough for the back. I didn't take a picture of it yet, but mine has two different fabrics for the back - a lavendar print and a solid since I didn't have enough of either, but I loved them (and this little lap quilt will be going to a cute little 9 year old). Cut batting an inch or two wider and longer than the quilt top. I use a cotton batting that is thin. If you like a thick batting, you may need to adjust sizes. As you quilt, batting gets scrunched up.

SUPPLIES: Firm surface - large table or floor
                    blue painter's tape
                    safety pins or needle and thread  (For whatever reason machine quilter's tend to use pins and hand quilter's tend to baste)

 Making a quilt sandwich is tedious, but it is extremely important. When done right it will make quilting so much easier. I usually wind up crawling around on the floor and looking like some kind of sick crab in heat. My cat thinks this is great. He comes in and and helps hold down every quilt sandwich, making sure it will never blow away. I'm sure there is some terribly funny SNLive skit hiding there somewhere! Anyway, first lay your backing fabric right side DOWN on a firm surface and smooth it out. Tape it down on the corners and at least once on each side. You do not want it to move around. Carefully lay batting down on top of backing fabric and smooth out. Next lay down quilt top right side UP. Make sure edges line up! Now for the crawling around part - starting near the CENTER of your quilt pin all through all the layers. Check the batting package to see how close you'll need to quilt to determine how far apart the pins can go. Generally I put them about 5 - 6 inches apart. OR I thread a needle with contrasting thread and baste straight lines radiating out from the center of the quilt. When basting lines I do the cross hatch lines first and then radiate the lines out to the corners. REMEMBER: You need to remove pins as you get to them if you are machine quilting!

Now you're ready to quilt as desired! The way these blocks were constructed makes it super easy to follow the facing and quilt a wavy line down each block. You can do that by machine or by hand or both! Your choice. I tried it both ways. I settled on machine. Since I usually hand quilt this was a good project for me. You can mark the lines if you like, but remember no one will SEE the marks. So if you miss them it's ok. Keep going. Varying the width of the lines is good. It adds interest.

Hopefully next time we'll finish up this puppy. That should be putting on the binding! In the meantime I'll try not to get too distracted by things that SA(y) Quilts!