Monday, September 24, 2012

Let's Get Organized!

Ok you might remember this picture from a few months ago…
Well I finally came up with something to keep scissors and pins near my sewing machine but out of mischievous little hands. (Unfortunately it doesn't keep trucks and tractors off the sewing machine which someone is convinced is a garage.)
 This is an elevator bucket.  Usually these are attached to a belt in a grain leg and pick up grain from the pit and move it to the top of the leg.  In other words… they make a great little container to hold crafty things.  I actually have three in garage next to the door which are suppose to catch all the things that end up on the kitchen counter instead.

I thought about spray painting this one white but was worried it might get scratched up so instead I decorated it with some pretty purple vinyl swirls.

My wonderful husband hung it for me and it has filled with scissors, seam rippers, and my bobbin case ever since.  I can reach it sitting down at my sewing machine and best of all my sewing table is not covered with stuff I have to move whenever I want to work on something big.
What do you do to keep your sewing area organized?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review: What A Novel Idea!

A lot of times I love a novelty line when it comes out but don’t have any idea what I would do with it.  I really enjoyed Pat Sloan’s What a Novel Idea because all 12 quilts used novelty patterns in a fun, creative way. 
Come in and purchase this book at Always in Stitches!
I made the quilt on the cover, “Let’s Go Camping” out of Moda’s The Berenstain Bears line.  I’d been eyeing it for a while but had no idea what to do with it.

This quilt was a nine patch with a few extras.  My favorite part was the middle triangle border and it was really quick to piece.
Middle border
It was a great way to showcase a lot of different pieces in this line.  I especially loved the block with the tree house! 

Also note some of the fabrics in this line (polka dots and the sports print I used for the backing)  could be used for a lot of different things.

There are a few other quilts in the book I’ll have to try with the next novelty line I fall in love with.  I really like “Sailing, Sailing” which has a chevron design to it and “A Pair of Winners.”

A few notes from one quilter to another:  I really loved this quilt as I was piecing it until I added the outer border.  I feel like the fabric I picked out was a little too busy and red compared to the rest of the quilt.  If I were doing it again I would either choose a different outer border or incorporate some red into the nine-patch blocks (maybe make the center block of each nine patch red.)  Also a plug for reading the instructions completely before starting: I'm not a trimmer and the instructions had you cut the squares for the triangles too big and then trim each block.  A lot of people do it this way, but I'm not that patient.  If you have the same vices I do cut your 3" blocks at 2 7/8" and you won't have to trim them. 
Happy sewing!

Chalkboard Table Runner Tutorial

Ok I’m in trouble… this project has been at the shop in a while and I hadn’t gotten the tutorial posted.  Last weekend I found out the shop has sold out of chalkboard fabric, but I’m still posting because I think this would also make up nicely with some of the laminated fabric.   (And there are some really cute designs at the shop!) Update: We've got more chalkboard fabric in.

So here’s what you’ll need:
1/2 yd chalkboard fabric
1/2 yd backing

14 x 40 strip of batting

1 fat quarter for binding (This was enough for bias 2 ¼” binding)
Place chalkboard fabric face down and iron lightly on your LOWEST setting to get out any creases. Cut 14” by 40” strip of backing, chalkboard fabric and batting.

Layer together: With the chalkboard fabric face down use an adhesive spray to attach batting and then again to attach backing.  (I used Krylon, but even a basting spray would work.)

Layer in order: Chalkboard, Batting, Backing

Cut binding and bind tablerunner using a leather or other heavy duty needle.

Make some food, invite some people over and enjoy!

Or just write messages to each other all week!

Happy Sewing!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hooded Vest Tutorial

Ok so you remember the French seam tutorial from my last post well this was what I was “French seaming.”

Adorable, right?  I had pinned this hooded vest tutorial and pattern quite a while ago, but I felt like Linus would be too hot in a lined vest and I could never manage to get the pattern to print (This might be because of my own lack of intelligence and patience, especially patience.)  So I decided to make my own pattern!

I've just started experimenting with drawing my own patterns, and I just want to say it has been a lot of fun! 
(Sidenote: Ok now don't stop reading because you're scared to make your own pattern.  I mean it!  It's really easy! Check out this tutorial from Dana at made.)
Here's what you'll need:
Shirt to trace for pattern
Freezer paper
1 fat quarter for binding
1 yard* of double sided quilted fabric (for a 2T/3T)
One coil separating zipper
(Make sure you have a heavy needle on hand too.)
*I used a directional print you might be able to get by with 3/4 yd if it wasn't directional.)
I wanted my vest to be about a 2T/3T so I traced a 4T shirt I already had on to freezer paper to make my pattern. (I figure a 3T jacket is about the size of a 4T shirt.) 

I traced two pattern pieces: the front and the back.  I only traced half of the shirt. (Since it's a jacket I'll need the front in two pieces and the back can be cut out on the fold.) Once I traced it I cleaned up my lines and added 5/8" to everywhere I need a seam allowance.  For this vest I added 5/8" to all outside edges except the armhole and hem since these will be bound.

Adding seam allowance

Finished Pattern Pieces

Ok now I got excited and forgot to take pictures for a little while.  But you need to cut the back out on the fold and two front pieces.
Now for sewing:  Sew together the back and front pieces at the shoulder using a French seam.  Then sew together the sides still using French seams.  (At this point I had Linus try on the vest for fit.) 

First step of the French seam (wrong sides together 1/4" seam)

Trim seam with pinking shears

Fold over onself and press

Then sew seam at 3/8" hiding the raw edge.

Next I bound the armholes.  I cut my fat quarter into single fold 1 ¼” wide binding.  Pressed one side in ¼” and then measured how much I needed for the armhole (adding ½” for seam allowance.”  After I had cut my binding for each armhole,  I put it together with a ¼” seam so it was a continuous circle the size of the armhole.  I then pinned it to the armhole right sides together and stitched them with a ¼” seam.

Next I trimmed the seam with my pinking shears and pressed my binding over the raw edge and topstitched on the outside of the binding as close to the seam as I could get.
This is actually the binding on the hem but you get the idea. I did them both the same way.

There are two ways to do the next step: the right way and the way I did it. (I did switch to a heavier needle here just because of the bulk of the zipper and remaining seams.)
The right way: Make your zipper the length of you jacket minus 5/8” for the seam allowance around the neck.  Then bind the hem and then sew the zipper in.
The way I did it:  I knew my chances of everything lining up right on the first try were slim so I put the zipper in first making sure it started 5/8” from the neck line.  I zipped it up, admired it and then ripped out the bottom inch of it (trimmed on side of the vest which was about an 1/8” too long.) See the picture above. Bound the hem and then finished the zipper again.  I hate using my seam ripper but this seemed to work well for me and didn't take that much extra time.

Zipper reattached.

To finish the zipper, I trimmed the fabric in the seam allowance with my pinking shears, folded the zipper tape over it and topstitched along the zipper hiding the raw edge between the zipper tape and the jacket.

I hadn't topstitched yet in this picture but you can see how topstitching will hide your raw edge and help everything lay flat.

Next I made the pattern for my hood.  I measured from the middle of the back neckline to the edge of my front neckline to know how wide to make my hood pattern.  I then traced the curve from one of Linus’s sweatshirts. (I should have used a larger size sweatshirt because the hood ended up a little on the small side.)  I added a 5/8” seam allowance around the all the edges except the front which will be bound. 
Adam snapped this picture of Linus "helping."

Once I cut out the pattern I cut two hood pieces from the quilted fabric.  I sewed them together with a French seam.

Then bound the front edge like the armholes and hem.  Then I attached the hood to the jacket at the neckline with a French seam.
When I finished this even Adam ooed and awwed over how great it looked!  I can't believe how rewarding it was to draw my own pattern.  I also can't believe how hard it is to get a 19 month old boy to stand still.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mail time, Demo Day, and French Seam Tutorial

I love getting mail that’s not bills and I especially love getting fabric.  This cute little bundle was waiting for me when I got home yesterday from Natalie at Craftin’ Mechanic. 

Thanks, Natalie!

Now I just have to decide what I want to do with it.  And check out Natalie’s t-shirt quilt she just finished up.  I just love the back of it!
Also come by the shop tomorrow for Demo Day.  Always in Stitches will be having a Demo Day the first Saturday of the month all summer.  I’ll be demonstrating these new binding rulers they picked up at Quilt Market.  I'll be there in the afternoon, but there will be all sorts of demos all day!

Now on to a little tutorial:  I just finished a cute vest which will soon become a tutorial but since it will be a long one I wanted to conquer the French seams I used first.
French seams are great way to make a garment look polished inside and out.  (Wow! Takes me back to those 4-H days!)  And here’s how you do it.
All of the seam allowances are 5/8”.  Put your wrong sides together and stitch a ¼” seam.
These are the right sides so basically the first step of a French seam is to do the opposite of what you would normally do.
Then turn your fabric so the right sides are together and the raw edge of the fabric is sandwiched between them.  Press.
This is the inside of the vest.  The raw edge is now sandwiched between the right sides.
Finally with the right sides still together stitch a 3/8” seam.  Turn press and as Linus would say, “Ta Da!”  The raw edge is completely hidden and the inside looks just as pretty and finished as the outside.

Kind of makes you curious about the rest of this project, right?  I guess I better get back to work then!
Happy sewing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Road Trip

I’m taking vacation next week and can’t wait to get caught up on some sewing and blogging, but in the meantime I thought I would share our weekend with you.
We went to Adam’s cousin’s wedding in Chicago this weekend. As you can see Linus fell asleep (blanket in tow) before we ever hit the highway. I worked on the binding of my Berenstein Bears quilt (post coming soon!) Afterall what's a long car ride without a little hand sewing?

The wedding was pretty fancy and long for a little boy, but he did hit the dance floor right before we left. Unfortunately I didn’t have sense enough to get pictures or video.

But the real excitement for me came the next morning when we stopped at IKEA on the way home.

I had never been to IKEA, but have talked about going for something like 10 years so it was a little surreal actually stopping. We went a little crazy, but had a lot of fun! It sure doesn’t top the quilt shop but it was a great feeling to be able to scratch it off my bucket list. So long IKEA! Maybe we’ll meet again in another 10 years.