Monday, October 26, 2015

Longarming Apron-Tools of the trade

If you use a long arm quilting machine, you probably have noticed that it isn't always easy to keep your most valued tools at hand while working.  I know this was an issue I had, as I currently rent time on a community machine and couldn't just keep my items laying around wherever I pleased.  

I used to be big into making aprons, but since I took up sewing...my cooking time has long diminished.  The need for aprons in my household had kind of gone away, until I realized a sewing apron would really solve a lot of my problems.  

I had written a pattern for a simple pocketed apron a few years ago and tweaked a few things to make sure it would accommodate my needs.  Plus...Alison Glass's Ex Libris fabric had just come out and I had to have something showing off that wonderful panel print.  I really wish that I had bought an entire bolt of that color way of the corsage print, because I can't seem to find more of it anywhere.  When I adjusted my pattern, the bottom patchwork section of the apron had been a complementary strip of fabric--so I just added in the extra 1/4" seam allowances for the little squares and pieced them to go with the center.  The pocket on the front of the apron is actually 3 pockets, which easily contain my seam ripper, scissors, and a water soluble marking pin.  The top flap that folds down on the body of the apron is where I slip my needle for burying threads so I always have it handy.  


If you have a spare apron laying around, you wouldn't even need to make a special one for quilting.  I really love mine, and it has seriously uncomplicated my life in the quilting room.  Instead of wasting time searching for my scissors or seam ripper, I know where everything is and they're always within reach.  

I know I'm surely not the first person to do this, but I hadn't seen other quilters suggest this, so I thought I would put it out there.  If you can't tell, I've got a serious Alison Glass fabric love going on.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

15 Minutes of Play with VFW

This past July (2015), Sew-lebrity Victoria Findlay Wolfe visited our guild for a trunk show and two days of workshops.  This was the first workshop I had ever really had the time or opportunity to take by one of the more "known" teachers/quilters/designers, and it was a blast!  Some of the other members in the SAMQG have taken lots of classes with other "sew-lebrities" and said that the VFW workshops were some of the most fun and they really got a lot out of them.  I really learned a lot, and had not tried VFW's technique of "made" fabric.  


Let me just start by saying that I am not an improv kind of girl.  Starting the "made" fabric was actually really a lot of work, and it took some time to get it out of my head that "made" fabric did not have to be some planned, geometric masterpiece.  The more you wing it, the better it looks, in my opinion.  VFW's basic teaching is to create your "made" fabric and then cut down to manageable sizes to piece with.  

In the class, I started with a triangle template and trimmed my pieces down to size.  Then I had planned on cutting some solids from the same template to use with my made fabrics so they didn't just get lost in an all made-fabric quilt.
Please forgive the less than gorgeous carpet background on this pic...

The really great thing about VFW's techinque is that you can really use it with any quilt pattern, just by swapping your made fabric in place of the other fabric.  It can really do wonders and add interest to your quilt, along with color, texture, etc.  It is really freeing to sit and work on a project without any real plan or direction, and have your made-fabric as the result.  

Another thing Victoria teaches is that you don't have to have tons of time to sit and work on something, and you should practice "15 minutes of play" to create your made fabric.  Basically, 15 minutes a day will get you a lot of progress over a few days.  

This technique is a great scrap buster, and Victoria's motto is that anything goes!  I like to kind of divide my scraps up and get rid of the muted, subdued colors, so that when I'm blindly grabbing from my scrap bag to create made-fabric, I end up with an assortment of saturated colors and patterns that work well together.  These small pieces below were my made fabric trimmed down using VFW Quilts' 1" square template.  



I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with these, but they are really fun for a stress reliever...or even when you feel like you've lost your sewing mojo.  It's a quick project that you don't have to think about, but you're still making progress and getting something done, as many of us feel the need to do.  

I would highly recommend taking ANY workshop from Victoria, and I think her techniques are great for those of us with  jobs aside from sewing, or with children, etc.  You can still make time to be a maker, even if you have other deadlines looming and kids and a husband/wife to feed.   This workshop was definitely money well spent and Victoria is such a sweet person with lots to share!

She's also awesome enough to take lots of pictures with her workshop attendees :)




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Something in the water...

There must be something in the water...or maybe I'm just at that season in my life where the wedding showers have ended and baby showers are now the reigning social event!  That being said, there's nothing I love more than designing and putting together cute baby quilts.  Let's face it...quilts are very time consuming.  BUT if you do small ones, they take significantly less time, and are loved the same!  It's really fun to play around with layout and quilt design when you know the process will be quick and fun and you'll learn something from the quilt you create.  I recently did a quilt for a baby boy with all gray fabric, and really loved the mother-to-be's registry choices.  I could tell that she had very modern taste and would probably be okay with me throwing something together that was a little Libs Elliott inspired.

This was such a fun quilt to put together, and even more fun to quilt a little ruler work into the design.

And a quilt for a baby girl (with more more color), that I designed by changing up the typical chevron design slightly.  

Challenge yourself to play with color and design and sew up a quick baby quilt for a friend or family member.  It is a gift that they'll love, and probably cherish for many years to come. It's also a great gift if you use two layers of dense batting and the quilt can also be used as a playmat. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Using Kraft Tex in projects

I have always had a love for branching out and trying new things! I really love quilting adn sewing with leather and other leather-type prodcuts to see what kind of finish they will have.  I think products made with a combination of high quality quilting cotton and leathers and faux leathers have such a great impact as finished products.  Below are samples of some purses that I made with Kraft-Tex.  



Tula Pink Plume and Parisville patchwork purse with Stone Kraft-Tex

Alison Glass Ex Libris purse with Natural Kraft-Tex




One issue that comes up with making things from quilted leathers or faux leathers is that they typically can't be thrown into the washing machine with little care.  This creates a problem when you're constructing fashionable diaper bags with leather that REALLY need to be washed.  

A possible solution that I've found is called Kraft-Tex, produced by C&T Publishing.  
Kraft-Tex used to be available in just "Natural", which mimics the color of veg-tanned leather.  C&T publishing now offers multiple color options, including "stone", which is pictured above.  

So you might be thinking right now...hmmm...I wonder if Joanna is getting anything from C&T Publishing for featuring their products on her blog.  NOPE!  I just really like this product, and I know I was a little intimidated about first working with Kraft-Tex.  But YOU shouldn't be!  I have some great tips for you if you've never worked with this stuff before to make your life a little easier.

Tip #1
Once you sew a hole in this, it's there forever (think oil cloth).  Use a smaller needle, and space your stitches a little further away from each other to prevent unsightly stitches.

Tip #2
Kraft-Tex is easier to work with if you pre-wash it.  It isn't necessary, but I really like the look and feel of it after I've washed it.  And I wash and dry mine 3 times before I touch it with the sewing machine.  Washing and drying gives the Kraft-Tex a lovely texture that looks similar to that of worn leather.

Tip #3
After I wash and dry my Kraft-Tex (I throw it in with other loads of laundry I'm doing.  You don't have to worry about Kraft-Tex bleeding on anything.), I iron it with steam.  This will help (along with washing it) to soften it up a little and make it easier to work with.

Tip #4
Kraft-Tex doesn't really have a right vs. wrong side.  But you will want to make sure you keep using the same side as your "right" side.  Before I cut my pieces out of the Kraft-Tex, I stick a post it to the side I select as my "right" side.  And I do this again to the pieces I cut so I am able to keep it straight.

Tip #5
Kraft-Tex does NOT fray!  (Go ahead, do a little happy dance.)  This makes it really enjoyable to work with.  

Tip #6
You can also use permanent markers on your Kraft-Tex to create really awesome designs (If you're partial to doodling!).  I would recommend heat setting any marks that you make with your iron (without steam) prior to getting wet again.  

Tip #7
For the most part, Kraft-Tex wipes clean and is really versatile.  It's easy to get dirt from wear and tear off.

Tip #8
Dying.  You can darken it with natural dyes or synthetic.  

Basically, I think Kraft-Tex is awesome.  It really makes other colorful fabrics shine and sets your products apart from others.  It's a great product to consider, and even better when it is a fraction of the cost of real leather (with a consistent look and supply source).  

There are a wealth of projects, and if you search "Kraft-Tex"  on Pinterest.  You can create awesome stationary, make up bags, purses, and pretty much anything else you can think of, so try it out! Search Kraft-Tex Projects on Pinterest


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Millefiori

You can probably tell that I like to dabble in all things quilty.  Last summer, I decided that I wanted to conquer English Paper Piecing.  What I didn't realize at the time was that EPP is extremely addictive because you can take it anywhere...it's easy to do on the couch while watching tv, great for road trips (when you aren't driving), and can also be done at social gatherings.  

When people hear "EPP" or English paper piecing, many probably envision little hexagons, endearingly called "hexies" pieced together with traditional or reproduction fabrics that may end up looking a little dated.  I'm not crazy about that look, but I LOVE Willyne Hammerstein's book Millefiori Quilts.  (And now there's a second book to follow the first.)  In the first book, one quilt pattern in particular caught my eye--the "La Passacaglia".  It combines pentagons, triangles, diamonds, and other shapes to create a myriad of rosettes that are breathtaking.  I will say there is a slight drawback if you are using the practice of fussy-cutting (positioning your templates on specific motifs on the fabric to create another design), and that is using fabric yardage inefficiently.  But you'll be making scraps for other projects as you go, so really, it's a win-win!  

Here are a couple of pictures of some of my completed rosettes.




These all show really great examples of using fussy-cutting with your epp. I really can't wait 
to finally finish my quilt top.  I have all the pieces sewn together for the standard design by Hammerstein, but didn't like the fact that I would be chopping several rosettes in half to square up the top.  So I opted to fill in the rest of the quilt to be even with the rosettes that stick out...the quilt top is really pretty small when you consider how much time and cutting goes into it.  

I laid out my quilt top on a piece of foam board and pinned it so it wouldn't shift, then used the paper pieces to fill in around the edges.  I probably should really look into documenting the layout better than I did, but for now I just have some pictures on my phone.  I'll share those with you once I have completed and know the layout works, so if you want to do the same thing you can!  

I started this project in December 2014 and finished Hammerstein's layout in September 2015.  I'm not sure when I'll finish the fill-in part, but hopefully it's soon, because I am dying to quilt this thing!  

If you're looking for other pictures of some really awesome La Passacaglia quilts, you should check out the following Instagram users: @kamiemurdock, @lilabellelane, @izy_sewbusy to name just a few.  You can also search the hashtag #lapassacaglia for some really inspiring pictures!