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!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quilt-a-Long, Part 2

Are you ready to start playing with all the fabric you've been cutting up? Me too! Today I'm going to tell/show you how to make 1 complete Pathway block. It's the only block you need for this quilt, so once you make one you'll know how to make them all.

The first step is actually to play with paper. We're going to draw a template on a piece of paper. Tape 2 pieces of paper together on the short end so you'll have one piece of paper that's nice and long.

1.  Draw a simple, gentle wave across the length of the paper with a pencil or marker. Use the picture below as a guide. The most important thing is to keep the curves gentle. Other than that there is no right or wrong for this; whatever you draw is correct. It does not have to match mine.

2.  Now cut along the wavy drawn line and also make another straight cut about 3" or so below your line. Easy peasy!

 This will give you a template that's about 3" x 16". Don't worry about the length; as long as it is at least 16" long or longer that's okay.

Now it's time to play with fabric! Remember those 16 x 10" rectangles of cream fabric you cut earlier? We're going to call these the B rectangles, that way I don't have to keep typing out those dimensions.

3. Fold a B rectangle 2" in along one 16" side with right sides together. If you wish you may pin this down. I did that at first, but then I just started taking them to the ironing board and pressed down a 2" fold.

4. Place your paper template onto the folded area and trace the wavy line onto the fabric using a water soluble or erasable fabric marking pencil/pen/chalk. I found this much easier to do if I didn't have the pins in the way holding the fold in place - that's why I started pressing the fold. NOTE: Make sure the curve is at least 1/4" from the folded edge to allow for the seam allowance.

A note on the marking pen you use. I am going to give a shameless plug to Pilot. They make a pen called the Frixon erasable gel pen. They may not have been intended for fabric use, but they work for marking fabric like nothing else I have ever tried. The best part is the marks stay as long as I need them and then a swipe of a warm iron and, viola, the marks are completely gone! Some fabric stores carry them, but a better (and probably cheaper, sorry to my local shop!) bet is an office supply store. I ordered a pack of 8 directly from Pilot with 6 different colors - 2 black pens - for a better price than I could find them singly here in Northern Virginia. (They didn't even charge shipping and that's all I ordered!)

5.  Now off we go to the sewing machine! Using a straight stitch, sew along the marked curvy line on the B rectangle. It does not matter if you don't follow it exactly. No one will ever know if you stayed on the line or not (especially if you use those nifty Frixon pens!)

If you wish you may press this stitching. I did it to remove my pen markings now, though pressing later would have done the job too.

6. Cut away the folded edge 1/4" from the stitching line. Remove those pesky pins if you still have them in. Using sharp scissors, clip and notch in the curved areas along the stitched seam allowance being careful not to snip your stitches. (clip in the dips and notch -cut a small vee - in the humps)

7. Carefully turn the stitched stitched facing edge to the wrong side to create a smooth edge. Use something with a blunt end, like a chopstick, to help and press the edge well. Check to make sure that none of your pen/pencil marks show through. Follow your product guidelines to remove the marks now if you have not already done so. Press the facing well so it is nice and flat.
8. Repeat for another B rectangle giving you two faced pieces. Your halfway to the finished block!

Now remember all those beautiful colored strips you cut from the fat quarters? I'm going to call them A strips - for the same lazy reason I call the other fabric B rectangles. Hey, if you know of a shortcut you should USE it.

9. Select one of your beautiful A strips and two faced B rectangles. Any A strip will work. Position and pin an A strip between the two Bs as shown in the photo below. Move the Bs to reveal as much of the A strip as you wish as long as you maintain at least 15 1/2" width (it can be wider not shorter). Pin in place.

10. Now at the sewing machine, edge stitch along the curved edges through all layers. The easiest way to do this is to use an edge stitch foot. It rides along the edge of the fabric and makes it super simple to keep the spacing even throughout. The one for my sewing machine, an Elna, looks like the one in the picture below.  The next picture is a closeup of the finished edges. If you don't own an edge foot, just straight stitch about 1/4" away from the folded edge as evenly as possible.
Here is what your Pathway block will look like from the right side.

Now there's only some trimming to do!

11. On the wrong side of your block, trim the excess A and B piece close to the seam allowance. Any sharp pair of scissors will work, just be careful not cut all the way through your block or you may wind up crying as you have to redo your wonderful block. I use applique scissors also called duckbilled scissors that have a very wide side that helps prevent mistakes like that.

12. Final trimming: Trim the entire block to 15 1/2" x 15 1/2". You may center the A strip or trim the block so it is off-center the choice is up to you, just make sure not to cut the block smaller than the given size. Ta-da! you have your first Pathway block done.

13. Repeat the steps to make a total of 30 blocks. Vary your A strips so you have as many different looking blocks as possible. Or ignore that completely and make them all the same A strips. Also if 30 blocks sound way too much, make yours smaller. It's your quilt, make it the way you want to!

Have fun! I'll have the next part (probably the last part!) in about a week. I want to give us all a chance to get enough blocks done so that you have a feel for the finished product. Happy quilting and keep looking for those things that sa(y) quilt to you!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Quilt-a-Long for You!

Hey there! I've not been writing much lately - or doing much of anything for that matter due to some pesky health issues. But that's not why I write this and definitely NOT why you read this. (Good grief I hope not - despite the fact that a friend or two has said I should write a book on those issues!)

In a fit of mental Fall Cleaning, I discovered that I really need to make quite a few kid quilts. Need, such a strong word; I don't need to make them, but I certainly want to. Then I thought why don't I do a quilt-a-long (hereafter abbreviated QAL, since it's not an easy word to type). For those of you that don't know what a QAL is here's a brief explanation. A QAL (see why I'm abbreviating?) is a quilting project that a group of people do together, but not necessarily physically together. Generally a leader - that would be me in this case - writes out all directions for the others as they are done and publishes them out in steps with time given in between so you can work on the project. The idea is that participants are working on the steps together and can ask questions/comment as if you are all in the same room taking a class. That's all there is to it. Now I'm not claiming to be a quilt instructor, but I hope you'll join along since I think making children't quilts should be fun. I heartily encourage you to post comments to this blog with your progress/questions/brags! I will do my best to answer them for you. I will also try to develop a hard shell as you find my mistakes and help me to correct them.

Remember this is supposed to be FUN. (Sorry, don't mean to shout, but I really wish I had sqiggy line to type out words that are to convey fun things! Someone with a software background please work on that - probably point out that it already exists is more like it.)

So consider this Step 1 of my Easy Kid's Quilt QAL! Definitely appropriate for all beginner quilters.

(This pattern is adapted from the Pathways pattern found in Aug. 2011 Quilter's World magazine, designed by Jen Eskridge for Reannalily Designs. )

QUILT SIZE: 75" X 90"   This is roughly a twin-size bed quilt.
BLOCK SIZE: 15" square

NOTE: If you want to make a smaller quilt, please do so. Another good size would be a quilt of only 20 blocks (75" x 60"), which would, of course not take quite so much fabric.

FABRIC: Please feel free to use whatever colors move you. These are only suggestions - and will help you follow along. All fabric measurements are based on 42" wide fabric. I am using cotton fabric.

7 yards cream solid
10 assorted colors fat quarters
3/4 yard fabric for binding - your color choice
backing fabric - 83" x 98"


Twin-size batting
thread to match project
paper (notebook paper is fine)
fabric marking pencil/pen

Okay, first things first. Prepare your fabric for quilting. For you that may mean washing all the fabric before you use it. For me it means, ironing with a good spray starch e.g., Mary Ellen's

From the fat quarters: Cut  30 strips 4 1/2" x 16"
From cream solid: Cut 15 rectangles 15" x 42" ; then subcut into 60 rectangles 16" x 10"

Here's my background fabric and the assorted strips that I've cut.

That's enough for keep you busy for a bit. I promise to post the next step in a day or so. Cutting fabric is okay, but if you're like me you like to get to the sewing part! Actually I like to get through the sewing part so I can start quilting! I mean, it's not a quilt unless it's quilted in my book.

In the meantime, look around and see what sa(y)s quilts to you!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tell Your Quilty Friends: Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Vol. 5 Blog Tour!

Tell Your Quilty Friends: Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Vol. 5 Blog Tour!joinforblogtour5 200 Tell Your Quilty Friends: Quiltmakers 100 Blocks Vol. 5 Blog Tour!

I don't know about you, but sometimes, I just want to find out what other people are doing. Luckily we live in such a wonderful world that I don't have to get up and get in the car, nor do I even have to pick up the telephone and call everyone I know - or don't know! Today I can go cruising around the world on the internet, connecting up with other people who inspire me to try things I have never even thought of.

Especially on those days when inspiration just won't come. Maybe it's a cloudy, dreary day. Maybe I woke up to discover that I ate too much salt the day before so I'm feeling fatter than ever. Maybe it's just one of those sewing days where all I get to do is work my seam ripper (as in what was happening to me last month with the blocks that became the Wine Country runner - see my earlier blogs). On those days, it can help to read what others are doing. I'll pull out magazines, but some of the best stuff is out here, in cyberspace, where talented sewists are blogging.

So take a chance, spend some time getting inspired and check out the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Vol. 5 Blog Tour. I guarantee you'll find something that will SA(y) Quilt!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beating the Quilt Imps

It seems like it took forever but I finally finished the last quilt I was working on. It morphed from a full-sized quilt into a table runner, thanks to the quilting imps that were trying to take over my sewing studio.

I'm really pleased with the end result, but I hope I've learned my lesson about dealing with odd-size blocks. It seemed that the harder I tried to add to a block to make it an easier size to work with - or trim it down, the worse things got. At one point I even ripped the entire project apart. And I do mean rip. I didn't take out my seam ripper and carefully pull out stitches. I grabbed the darn thing and I started pulling it apart. It felt really good doing it too! I can recommend it when you're thoroughly disgusted with a project even though you might destroy a block. Since you already hate it, you're not hurting and you might just help. While no blocks were completely destroyed in my ripping, it lightened my heart and allowed me to go back to the project with a new quilting eye.

I decided to use an extra block on the back of the runner. I don't remember where the idea came from, but the back of the project just screamed for something to be there.
I knew for sure I didn't want to put it on point though. Figuring out those side triangles on the front almost killed me and I didn't want to do it again. The solution was making it into a "square in a square" block. I even found a calculator online to help me figure out the size. Here's a closeup of the block.

The hardest part was getting it placed in the center of the runner. After I had the backing pieced, I folded it in half to find it's center and did the same for the front. Then I just matched up the center points. I believe that worked quite well if I say so myself!

I did a quick and dirty free motion scroll for the quilting that was inspired from the fabric on the front of the quilt. This was a good project to practice my machine quilting. I'm getting better, but I still need more practice. Which means I need to start a new project! Hopefully those imps will not keep me from finding something else that sa(y)s quilts!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

Too much time has gone by since I wrote last, but life does seem to have a very nasty habit of interfering with my plans, or maybe my lack thereof. It has been good to be back sewing again. I had a few weeks there that I made the close acquaintance of our local hospital having and recovering from back surgery. It's a very nice hospital as hospitals go, (I've unfortunately been in my fair share, but that's another story.) and I love my surgeon, but all in all much happier to be at home.

In my last blog, I showed what happens when you fail to measure twice, cut once, and cut it wrong anyway. I thought I had the darn thing licked, turning it into a nice little log cabin-like block. But alas, alack, and woe is me - picture me forlorn with my hand on forehead since I'm typing here - because one bad cut deserves another. I made as many of the blocks as I could with the fabric I had at my disposal. I really, really just wanted to use what was in my stash. That seems a very financially prudent thing to do plus I was still recuperating and not anxious to go gallivanting around to store after store, despite the fact that I generally love fondling fabric. It's a perfectly legal thing to do you know. Anyway I spent time staring at them trying to figure out how to use them, moving them around my make-shift design wall (a few pieces of old batting scraps do the trick), and came up with the idea below.

I decided that I really liked the on-point design. It takes 4 of the blocks to make the large square. With 4 log cabins left over, I just put them out to the side for the moment, but I'm sure that's not where they'll be in the final product. The design will become a table runner with solid side triangles surrounding the large on-point design. All to the good. Except. The problem is that the pretty little block that resulted is not a standard size, which means nothing is standard. To the reference books I went, found the formulas from geometry that I no longer keep in my head, and then tried very hard to measure accurately so that my side triangles would be cut correctly. I swear that there are sewing imps that live in my house whose only job is to make sure I cannot get a correctly sized triangle cut! Oh I double and triple checked my numbers, but the triangles that I cut for the side insertions were waaaay too big! I really don't know what I did wrong. But at this point I didn't care, I decided to just plow ahead. After all art quilters do this all the time. When they are given fabric shreds they somehow turn it into beautiful works of art. If they can do it, so can I. (Sounds a bit militant and defensive at the same time doesn't it?)

I've started to use those large triangles. At least since they were too large they could be cut to a smaller size and that's what I did. The hardest part is dealing with all the bias edges. Bias edges stretch so easily, so I've had to be very careful when sewing and pressing. Note: if you're working with bias edges you must press - lift the iron up and down - not iron. Otherwise your fabric will grow. This particular fabric I will never use again! (Probably not true, that's the militant still screaming at the imps.) It is a cotton batik, but I swear it seems to be a stretch cotton. Edges ripple while you look at it, never mind touching it. Sigh. Getting this quilt squared up is going to be a bear.

This was supposed to be an easy project, getting me back into the sewing room with little angst. It's evolved into something much bigger and more difficult, but I can say for sure that even when the imps of the sewing room try to stop me, I still sa(y) quilts! I'll take a picture of the finished product, that is, if the imps ever stop throwing up roadblocks!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fussy Cutting

I've been collecting fabric for making a series of quilts with a wine theme. So I sat down the other day and started sketching out designs. Who knew that it could take all day to do this? I now fully understand why designers, amateur and professional alike have gone to computer-aided design (CAD). I love that; it gives great new meaning to the phrase "You're such a CAD!" Anyway, even though it's really fun to be surrounded by graph paper and piles of colored pencils, markers, and even crayons, it is so dag-gone slow! And, I'm pretty limited to solid colors. I don't know about you, but most of my fabrics are prints. One really important think to note: If you ever decide to play with design this way. Once you get the design down and are ready to play with color, take your original graph paper drawing and copy it. You can then try out different colors and not have to redraw the whole darn thing each time. I eventually came up with the idea of a table runner that would use a simple block, but the center would be a kaleidoscope. That's represented by the solid red square in the picture.

I had a cute fabric that was covered with gadgets for opening wine bottles that would be perfect. Making that center square was going to require a lot of fussy cutting. Fussy cutting - not when your fabric doesn't behave, that's a whole 'nother problem - is being very picky about what you cut out, choosing a particular motif on your fabric to highlight. In this case a square is divided into quarters and each quarter is cut from exactly the same motif on the fabric. It's not hard, but it does take planning.

I learned how to do it from Jinny Beyer, but I'm sure there are different ways of going about it. I take my template - a triangle in my case - find the motif on the fabric that I want to use and then copy some of the lines onto the template so I can always align it exactly the same way.

Then I trace around the template and cut out the resulting shape, here a triangle.

For my block I needed 4 triangles of exactly the same motif to make 1 block. The whole quilt called for 24 of these blocks. That's 96 triangles folks and a lot of fussy cutting. It leaves you with very holey fabric! You can imagine how hard it started to get near the end to find exactly the same motif in 4 different places.

I don't want to imply that for all 24 blocks that the resulting motif is the same. I would have to have a huge amount of fabric to do that. I was able to find the same motif about 12 times in the yardage that had - a little more than 1/2 yard. That would make 3 blocks. Then I switched to another one, until I had enough for my project. For this project that worked, but for others you would need more yardage to get the exact same motif for every block. For example it's not unusual for a pattern to call for 4 yards of fabric to be able to get enough repeats of the motif for a kaleidoscope block. My kaleidoscope block looks like this.
Very cute and just the look I wanted. My only problem: I had cut my triangle too small! When I made my template, I drew out my square with  the seam allowance on graph paper. Then I divided it into 4 equal triangles and that's what I copied onto template plastic. What I forgot is that I would be sewing those templates back together and I had not added THAT seam allowance back in to get the correct size. Aargh! Now I had 96 little triangles, and what in the world could I do with them? I tried to just make the block smaller, but the measurements were so far off that I would have gone crazy. Then I just made a simple 9-square block with the kaleidoscope square in the middle. It was still way too small. How could I make it bigger? Add strips of course! Strip therapy always comes in handy and here's the resulting block.
Not too bad for a mistake if I do say so myself. The lesson, keep on quilting. Even a mistake can sa(y) quilt!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Strip Therapy

I'm so behind the curve on this one. For forever I have walked into fabric shops and drooled over those gorgeous coils of fabric called Pops. They are usually made up of hand-dyed fabric and called Bali Pops. Doesn't matter, they're beautiful. I pick them up, love on them, and put them back. There are roughly 40 2 1/2" strips in a Pop and at $30 a pop (ha ha) I've never been able to bring myself to buy one. Who knows why, since I don't seem to have a problem with other fabric I love that now runs somewhere around $9 - 11 per yard! I just start thinking how should I use all those strips? Do I cut them into triangles? Squares? Shorter strips? How many strips do I need? What size quilt should I make? The questions keep piling up and I freeze.

A few months ago, I was strolling through Wal-Mart (That's what people do right? Pushing a cart, humming to oneself . . .  la, la, te, da) and I wandered down the defunct fabric aisle (That's another whole story.) and low and behold piled on a bottom shelf where Pops. These were not Bali Pops, matter of fact I'm not sure what they were/are. Ugly comes to mind. Who actually made these fabrics and thought someone would buy them? And that's exactly it, no one would buy them, so they cut them in strips so you couldn't see the whole ugly pattern, put them together and, viola! someone will buy them. This time that someone was me. The colors were not what I would normally buy, but the whole darn Pop was only $5! All those questions still hounded me, but at $5, I didn't care. I could become one of the cool sewists - yes, that's the current term. I'm not a sewer, I'm a sewist! Maybe I'm a quilting sewist; I get confused with the new stuff. Anyway, now I could afford to figure out how to play with the Pops. Note that this happened a few months ago. It has taken me a long time to be brave enough to open up the coils, hey, I had to buy more than one. They were only 5 bucks! Hubby bravely followed me into fabric shops and encouraged me to buy a book on using the darn things. Encouraging me to buy a book is as hard as it is to get me to buy fabric buy the yard; not very.

Over the past holidays, I decided that since I'm a sewist, I should, you know, sew! The Pops and the book were there so I've bravely attacked them. I had to find something that would look good with these colors though. I recently set up a tropical fish tank, so seeing a quilt that turned strips into fish was very appealing. Not sure where I'm going to go with this, but all those bright colors are becoming fabric fish!

Use your imagination at this point!

I need to get back to those fish, but I promise I'll keep you posted. Us quilting sewists find lots of things that SA(y) Quilts!