Wednesday, March 30, 2016

That Fast-Forward Button of Life

I'm not quite sure how to get out of this fast-forward mode.  But I must also say this is the happiest I have ever been.  So maybe this speed is a good one.  The Firefighter's Mom picked up her son's 23rd birthday present yesterday.  This project turned out great, and the mom was very pleased.  There's a hanging sleeve on the back.  Several times while working on this project I got a bit teary, mostly because of the picture of this young man as a 3-year old firefighter.  Frank's longarm quilting is, as usual, exquisite.  I love that he won't quilt through any faces.  And Terri had the perfect red for the backing on this quilt.  There are two more t-shirt projects in queue, one of which is already at Terri and Frank's.

While I work on bigger projects, it's fun to have smaller things to work at.  John needed a door prize for last week's Brookfield Jazz Society  meeting.  He even came up to the studio and looked through my pile of musical fabrics.  He pulled this piece, which wasn't quite big enough, but it looks great with black fabric around the feature fabric. 
And these little fabric key chains are the best use of little leftover bits of fabrics.  
Sarah S and Holly are leading the Chicago MQG in a Medallion Sew-Along, and this is so much fun.  This picture represents 3 rounds of instructions and is 27" square.  I think the finished project will be 60" square.  My goal with this piece is to use scraps and not cut into any new fabrics.  So far, so good.  The fun part is seeing the fabric and design choices of others.   Every month we are bringing what we have, and it's a Gawker's Paradise!

Next up in another Sloan Travel Bag.  I made one out of this fabric, but I gave it to my long-time friend Cathy whose birthday is today.  However, I love this fabric and bag so much that I must make myself one and not give it away this time.

Being busy and happy?  In the words of Martha Stewart:  a good thing.

Monday, March 21, 2016

This Week in the Studio

My sister-in-law picked up her "Hey Mercedes" bag from Sara Lawson's Windy City Bags.
Of course I had to make myself one, too.
Only one side of the bag has an outer pocket.  There are two zippered pockets inside.
Adding the gusset/bottom of a constrasting fabric worked well.
Meanwhile, it's t-shirt quilt time.  This is the second one I have done for this mom.  The first was for her older son, the hockey nut.  This younger son is all about firefighting. 
All the bits are connected and currently at Terri and Frank's being longarmed. 
Yesterday at the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild meeting, we did our pin cushion swap.  This is what I received from Iris, and I love it.  Victorians thought tomatoes ensured prosperity and warded off evil spirits.  Since tomatoes are seasonal, the sewing community co-opted this symbol for their pin cushions!  I love the strawberry filled with emery sand so I can keep my needles sharp. 
Thanks to Melissa, I learned how to make this pin cushion and did one for my partner Sue R in Marcia Derse fabrics but forgot to photograph it.  This "practice" pin cushion has been gifted to guild buddy Mary.  

It's time to turn to and get into Easter mode - lots of lamb cake baking this week and minimal sewing. Which for this week is fine. This will be a time for some creative ideas to percolate.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Chicago MQG Retreat at Siena Center

Eleven 6" rows of every color in the spectrum.  My design wall is 7' across and 8' down.  So this quilt - whether the background is black or light - will be spectacular and big.  I'm pretty happy to get this in process - its been an unstarted project for over 4 years. 

 The other project I started is something that will hang in my living room.  It's a smaller version of the Elliptical Drunkard's Path in a much narrower colorway. 

The weekend was a good one for many reasons - beautiful setting, excellent table mates, wonderful friends, great walking weather, and tons of creativity. But one of the things I loved most was working on my mom's 1948 Singer Featherweight - it's the machine I learned to sew on. I even took it to college with me in my sophomore year at Milligan. It is the perfect machine for piecing. I will for sure do the entire Elliptical Drunkard's Path on this machine. It will never be good for quilting or going through thicknesses, like purse straps, but it is a honey of a machine for piecing and I was glad to remaking my acquaintance with it!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Today in the Studio: A Picture Post

Using these peppered shot cottons and a smaller version of my elliptical drunkard's path template to make a 40" by 45" wall hanging for my living room.

Packing up "Jazz Piano" to gift to the Siena Center for one of their auctions or for their gift shop.  Since I started this piece there in 2014 and it has yet to be claimed, this seems appropriate.

Packing a prepackaged set of Jinny Beyer palette fabrics to make something.  There's the picture of the suggested project.  Also taking my bag of Allison Glass leftovers from our Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild Swap.  Just in case...

Finishing today - I hope, among the madness of packing for the weekend retreat in Racine - these two Hey Mercedes bags from Sara Lawson's 2nd book, Windy City Bags.  

Rejoicing in the completion of this scrappy Log Cabin project

Monday, March 7, 2016

Really Stepping Out of my Safe Zone

 (forgive the rather long introduction of how I came to evaluate the Craftsy Class on Essential Techniques for Sewing Knits...)

I am a quilter who also loves - thanks to Sara Lawson's various bag patterns and books - to make bags and purses.   Sara unwittingly pointed me into a new direction - wanting to make clothing - when she created a new fabric line, Jungle Avenue.  I saw Dotted Boulevard in a knit and thought it would make a great something.  So I bought three yards.  And this lovely fabric has been sitting in my studio for the past two years, being very very patient.  In full disclosure I must admit that I am no stranger to Craftsy and have bought clothing patterns and kits there during this time, all with the three yards of Dotted Boulevard in mind. See below.

This past winter I bought a knit top, perfect for outdoor walking in the spring and fall.  It was super on-sale - and also several inches too long.   And I still didn't know how to work with knits. When Sara asked if I would take a Craftsy class and evaluate it, it took me just a few minutes to find the Essential Techniques for Sewing Knits knits.

My goals in taking this class were to be able to hem my sports top using my regular sewing machine,
make a t-shirt and/or a dress, and figure out what to do with my Dotted Boulevard knit.  And I definitely reached these first two goals.

This class was divided into five chapters - 1) Different Knits  2) Cutting and Marking Patterns 3) Hemming Knits  4) Garment Details, and 5) Sewing a V-neck Binding.   Look!  Chapter 3 - just what I wanted!  I did watch all five chapters in order, and each one was more than useful.  I am a genius with quilting cottons but knew nothing about knits.  Something basic like cutting out pattern pieces one at a time rather than in multiple layers (like you would do with quilting) was good for me to learn.  So was you should not pin pattern pieces but instead use weights.  After Chapter Three I had to start putting into practice what I was learning. 
marking the folding and pinning lines - using double-sided fusible to stabilize the hem while sewing

I don't have a serger and don't intend to get one. So I was thrilled to learn how to use a double needle, which all of our machines are capable of using. On the fabric top there are two parallel rows of stitches. But on the bottom side there is a zig-zag stitch, perfect for hemming knits.  One of the instructors was very clear to use the appropriate needle, one with a ball point end.  The hem on my purchased top turned out very well.

My machine ready for the twin needle

Just like purse making, it all starts with cutting out the pattern pieces

My sporty athletic top (not the look I was going for) on the bottom, and a striped tunic.  I'm proud of the workmanship on these sleeves and the necks. The top is Rowe's Tunic/Top, and the grey stripe dress is The Bess Top by Imagine Gnats. 
Yoke detail from the back of the shirt
This Craftsy class gave me a context for knits and the skills and tips needed to work with them.   Like anything else, working with knits is a skill;  I'm confident I'll continue to improve this skill, especially since I can go back to any of the lessons at any time.  The first top I did is the one to the left.  That neckline was a traditional v-binding, and it went very well.  However, the grey-stiped dress did not have a pattern piece for the neckline - directions said to bind with bias.  But something said in Lesson 4 came back to me:  the neckline binding is 7/8" of the finished neckline.  And using this little gem, the neckline on the grey dress worked quite well!

So next week, perhaps I will use the shirt pattern with the interesting yoking, using a solid black knit for the sleeves and neck and add pockets and turn Dotted Boulevard into a summer dress with pockets.  Perhaps.  If I can drag myself away from the two Hey, Mercedes bags I've started.  At least I know I can!  This Craftsy class was a huge success! 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Top 10 of Quilty Procrastination

 10.  Finish basting the cheery scrappy Log Cabin and make the binding.

9. Retype my log-in and password cheat sheet.

 8. Study what's on the design wall, a piece named "Carolyn Friedlander meets Yoshiko Jinzenji.  I know I want to sashiko quilt this piece.  I just don't know how. 

7.  Talk myself out of doing the machine quilting on the Scrappy Log Cabin, like right now.  I really like doing straight line machine quilting with my walking foot.  (Of course I would prefer to have this quilt long-armed, but My Answer is Yes really drained my long-arming account....).  Quilting this quilt will be my reward for doing the Knit class evaluation.

6.  Dither about which fabrics to use for the sleeves on the back of the Elliptical Drunkard's Path and My Answer is Yes.   I don't want to use fabrics I love, but I also don't want to use dorky fabrics (***For cry eye, Donna, these are just sleeves for the back of a quilt...***)  Remember to tell Jacquie G how much you rely on her Quilt Sleeve tutorial.

5.  Start a new project box for The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild Medallion Sew-A-Long.

4.  Rearrange the studio tables.

3.  Vacuum.  Seriously.

2. Wonder if John's sisters weren't right when they questioned why I wanted to work with knits and do clothing...

1.  Blog about what I am not doing.  Not only do I have several kits of knits and clothing patterns, I have told Sara Lawson I would be a guest blogger at Sew Sweetness on March 7.  My topic is the evaluation of a chosen class from CraftsyEssential Techniques for Sewing Knits.  I've watched 3/5th of the class and have learned a lot.  And it's time to put what I've learned into practice.  But I'm dragging my feet.  Perhaps tomorrow....