Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A New Fun Technique

One of the things that I did at the retreat was to play with a pack of 5-inch charm squares that I've been wanting to do something with.  I'd also had an idea about how to do a sew/cut/sew project.
So, the idea was to make this block using a quick-sew technique:

 I made this little top starting by sewing them together into one big grid of squares!

1. sew 5-inch squares all together-- I started with 48 squares.  I sewed them into a 6 x 8 grid.  It is important to use and even number of rows and columns!

2. cut a strip from the left side of the grid
3. move it to the right side of the grid, and sew it on
4. do the same for the top and bottom of the piece, so that you have a unit like in the photo- squares in the center surrounded by a 1/2 width border
5. then cut through the center of every other square!
 If you just want a pile of the main blocks to sew into a quilt, just cut the strips crosswise at this point as well and in this example I would end up with 12 blocks!  Starting with the 5-inch squares, the resulting blocks now measure 9 inches with the seam allowance-- they'll finish at 8-12".

However, I decided to put in a small sashing.

6.  So if you want a sashing, delay cutting the strips into individual blocks.  Just sew the sashing strips in between the columns.

7.  Then, cut the unit cross-wise and sew in the sashing strips going the other direction.  you can move the strips around so that there is a bit of variation in the color distribution of the blocks.

8. Now the unit is all sewn together again. 

I like this technique a lot! I think I need to figure out a larger project using this technique.  I think that the sashing in this example would have been better using a plain white so that the blocks stand out more. Live and learn!

These are some photos from the past weekend at the Shekinah retreat!
 There was some wonderful show and tell on Saturday evening.  Sorry about the dark photos,
Shan's quilt that was amazing!

Sandy's sampler using a triple bar sashing
She had made two! of these little child quilts, with different colors of sashing
Jackie used the same pattern, (Town Square by Mountain Peak Creations) to make a larger size
Nancy used another Mountainpeek pattern and some wonderful Westminster fabrics to make this one!
 There were a lot of other great projects!

Monday, November 21, 2011

post retreat

We had the retreat at Shekinah this weekend and it was wonderful! Very relaxing and sociable and relaxing! I came home and went to bed at 7:30 and slept until eight this morning. Then I went to the shop and spent until 2:30 p.m. With a fabric rep ordering the bulk of our fabric orders from now through may! I hope to update the blog tomorrow with lots of photos from the retreat, I was pleased to finish couple of projects including a baby quilt! I hope you had a good weekend too!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

WIP Wednesday

What is a WIP?  A work in progress, and on Wednesdays you can see how many of your computer-quilt friends are coming along with some of the projects they've mentioned by going to this site that Monika has set up:   the Needle and Thread Network     Yay Monika!
Again, I seem to have a hodge-podge of activities going on in my sewing room (okay, my living room sofa sees a lot of stitching and crocheting.... and knitting... and reading)

First up, a finish! I completed the quilting on this long table runner.  I think that perhaps I should have taken the time to put a real binding on it.  They seem to lay more flat with a binding.  
 And of course I had to start a new project with the "Restoration" line of fabrics.  I was going to just sew the "Marmalade" pattern, but have now made some changes to that plan!! Stay tuned for developments.  I hope to make some serious progress on this tomorrow.
 Every once in a long while I seem to make a little stuffed animal.  This is a little felt dog, who has no name. 
 He does have a scarf, but perhaps needs something else.
 Although, he does have a big friend. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Palette Generator

Through another blog, I came across this interesting toy, the Color Palette Generator, here
You upload a photograph and it generates color chips from it. 
Why am I randomly surfing the net? because my sewing room is messy and I have too many projects on the go.  Aargh.  Time to do some slogging and heavy lifting so to speak. 
Hopefully I will have some progress to show on the Work in Progress Wednesday. 
By the way, the snow is pretty.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Block 5 Flagstones, and new Applique

Today, Saturday, is another Saturday Surprise Sampler Day!
This is the 5th pieced block, called Flagstones,

 and we have our third applique block, Oak Leaves and Cherries,

After this block, I am officially switching to fusible applique for both versions.  I didn't even add the cherries to the needleturn 1930's block.
but I did have a lot of fun auditioning where I wanted to put the red circles on the etchings version!

this is the list of the upcoming pick-up dates:

    November 5th– Block 5 (Pieced), 3rd Applique
    November 19 - Block 6
    December 3 -  Block 7 (Pieced), 4th  Applique
    December17 - Block 8
    December 31 -  Block 9 (Pieced), 5thApplique
    January 14 - Block 10
    January 28 -  Block 11 (Pieced), 6thApplique
    February 11 - Block 12
    February 25 -  Block 13 (Pieced), 7thApplique
    March 11 - Block 14
    March 25 Block 15 (Pieced), 8th Applique
    April 8 - Block 16
    April 27 -  Block 17 (Pieced), 9thApplique
    May 11 - Block 18
    May 25 -  Block 19 (Pieced), 10thApplique
    June 8 Block 20

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Christmas Fabric Gift Bag Tutorial

fold-over top gift bag with button and string closure

Recently I was chatting with a friend who mentioned that she is making a real effort this year to prepare for and enjoy the Christmas season.  I have been thinking about this, and like this attitude.   I recall some years when Christmas was so magical, and I loved the tree decorating and wrapping gifts, and baking.  Other years it has seemed less magical, and some things that should have been enjoyable didn't seem exciting any more.  I think that to "enjoy the season" is a frame of mind that I will cultivate this year.
In keeping with this resolution, I spent a couple of hours this morning sewing some fabric gift bags.  For the last few years, I've purchased lots of paper gift bags as well as wrapping paper.  This creates a lot of paper waste on Christmas morning.  If we use fabric gift bags, they can just be stored with the decorations and be available to use again and again!!! This has the added benefit of not having to stand in line buying more paper products, tape and bows.....
I certainly have lots of fabric leftovers so this should be  pretty low-cost venture!
I have prepared a pictorial step by step on how I made a basic fabric gift bag:

1. cut some rectangles of festive fabric to use as the outside of the bag.  You  can piece them to make your scraps larger or to make the bag prettier.
 2. cut a lining rectangle the same size as the outer fabric.  The lining can be another patterned fabric, or you can just use muslin.
 3.  If you want a padded bag, cut an additional rectangle of batting.  If you just want it a bit thicker, you can use a piece of flannel.  Or, you might just want to stick with using the 2 fabric layers.
 4. If you want to use some of your festive embellishment ribbons, get them out to have close at hand.
 5.  If you want to decorate the outside of the bag, do it now.  In this example, I am using a piece of flannel as interior batting for the bag and some ribbon for trim.  I sewed the trim to the outside of the bag and the flannel batting to help stabilize these 2 layers.  If you want to do any other decoration, do it now.
 6.  Fold the rectangles of outside fabric and lining in half vertically and sew seams up the sides.  (At his point they are looking like little pillow cases!)
NB!  Leave an opening 3 or 4 inches,  in one side seam of the Lining fabric.  I forgot to do this in the lining photo here, and had to un-pick part of the seam later.
 7. If you want a flat bag, skip this step.
If you want a "boxed" bottom to your bag, pull the corner of the bag so that the side seam is perpendicular to the bottom, and sew a seam across the point.  The farther in that you sew the seam determines the width of the base of the bag.
 sew these seams on both the lining and the outside.  Make them the same size.  Back-stitch the seam ends.
 trim away the extra fabric
8. Turn the lining right side out.  (Now you can see the opening in the side seam!
 9. Tuck the lining into the outside of the bag, matching the side seams. Pin.
 10.  Sew a the bag outside to the lining all the way around the top edge.
 11. pull out the lining from the bag and then reach through the opening and turn the whole thing right side out.
 12.  Push the corners of the base out nicely.  Sew the gap in the lining closed.  I just do this by machine since it won't show.  I don't know where my photo of this step went to.

13. Top-stitch around the top edge of the bag to keep the lining in place.
 14.  This bag was the right size for a wine bottle, so I tacked on an extra bit of ribbon to use as a closure.
 15. The full bag!
 16.  My assortment of gift bags:  in addition to the one show above, I made a flat one, a tall one that can fold over to close, and 2 shorter ones with boxed bottoms. 
 this one has a velcro closure.  It is quite difficult to machine stitch through velcro.
 this one has a magnetic snap closure.  a bit deluxe, but I had it on hand.  I would have like to have used some regular sew-on snaps, but didn't have any.
 I sewed a felt decoration to the flap to cover where the snap is.  This bag also features a flap variation that I found in an Art to Heart book called "12 Days of Christmas"
There are all sorts of variations and decorative things that you could do!!! Just have fun and use your imagination!  And enjoy thinking about what to put in them!

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