Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not a Bunch of Squares ~ Improv Patchwork {a tutorial}

Happy New Year!  I'm so excited to be back here to share.  For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jennifer and my blog is That Girl... That Quilt.  My brain is all too often overflowing with creative ideas so how perfect that I have the opportunity today to post on two blogs! 

I adore patchwork and I get a lot of questions about how I make my patchwork projects.  The short answer: no templates, no patterns, no sketches... just fabric, a ruler, a rotary cutter and your creativity.  So today I wanted to show you how to make improvisational patchwork.  It might feel a little strange at first if you are not used to sewing as you go but I promise that it's lots of fun and a great way to work with your stash!

I like to choose a foundation fabric piece first.  This isn't a foundation fabric in the traditional quilting sense.  It's more like the inspiration and the fabric you will be building your block around.  In my patchwork I use a lot of linen.  I love the texture created by using a mix of quilting cottons and linens.

Now find a similar sized piece of fabric and stitch the pieces right sides together {RST}.  Open and press.  Square your new "block" if it will drive you nuts to have wonky sides.  I like to keep it improvisational so I don't square until my block is done.

Next find a piece of fabric that is similar in size to your new created "block".  Stitch this fabric {RST} to your existing block.  Open and press.

Here's where it gets fun!  Take some smaller pieces and stitch them together to form a strip that is the approximate length of the block.  Press each seam and then stitch the strip to the block.  Unless you are just extremely talented {or lucky}, the seams of the strip and the seams of the block will not match.  If this bothers you ... breathe ... remember that you are learning something new!

Get creative and continue to build your block until you have a nice sized patchwork piece. 

I am using a 12.5" square ruler to square up the block.  Make three more patchwork blocks and you will have yourself a nice 12" x 48" patchwork table runner!

Stitch all four blocks together and press your seams.  Baste, quilt, and bind.  For a small project like this, machine binding works great.  If you need a tutorial, here's one that I wrote several months back that will walk you step by step through machine binding.

Too busy to make your own improv patchwork??  I'm giving this little table runner away on my blog today...

Thanks for letting me share!  I hope you will visit me over at That Girl... That Quilt soon!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's that time again...you know that rest thing...lol...oh and I have an announcement

Stay Tuned for February!

Each  Sunday we will have You Tube Videos
for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Quilters..
I have lined up not 1 but 2 companies who
will supply us with HOW TO videos...

Something else to look forward to..

Sew today, please REST, I will try to too~!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tips, Tricks and a Tutorial...

Hello every one! I'm Karen from Sew Many Ways and I am so happy to be here at Stash Manicure. I want to thank Madame Samm for having me here again. Today, I'll be sharing some of my tips and tricks to help you whittle away at your fabric stash.

Whether you have a sewing room full of fabric or a little stash like mine, we all need to dig into it and use up what we have. I know we all have that fabric that we just can't cut into or can't find the right pattern to use it with, but every once in a while it's a good idea to pull out the yardage we've had for a while and do something with it.

Later on in this post, I have a quick tutorial for an endless scarf or cowl neck that will use up a quick 1 yard piece of fabric. Right now, I'll share some tips that will help you organize your stash, so it makes it easier to just Grab and Go to start sewing. There is a lot of precious sewing time wasted looking for patterns, fabric and what nots just to start a project. Here are some tips to help you get ready to sew.

The first area...our patterns or books of inspiration. We all have magazines, books and pictures of inspiration. Here is how I store mine for a quick reference. The top shelf are cheap cardboard magazine holders from Staples office supply store. Organize them by magazine title or by seasons of the quilts. It may be your first instinct to organize by the title (like all of the Better Homes together), but just think when you want to make a quilt for Christmas, you'd have to look through a lot of different bins of magazines for something for the holidays. If you stored all the magazine you have for Christmas creations, it's easier to browse through that pile.

Here are the cheapo boxes I bought. They were in the clearance section for 50 cents for a package of 6! Woo Hoo! Love a bargain...but the colors weren't so great. My best tip to make your sewing room look cohesive and not so AHHHH, is to have things match. The boxes came in a rainbow package...now that would have been too much going on, so I covered the front part with a little piece of fabric. Love my Mod Podge (glue/sealer).

The bottom shelf holds my notebooks. These are priceless in terms of finding something fast! I have one for patterns, one for templates, one for inspiration etc.

I buy top loading, clear page protectors that can be used with a three ring binder.

The page protectors are easy to see, keeps things clean, wrinkle free and easy to flip through.

Just slip in your pattern on the top.

Here are the templates.

This one is my house inspiration book. All my dream kitchens in one book.

When you are in the office supply, look around for different ideas for holders. I saw these in the clearance (where else would I be LOL) They hold disks and business cards, but think outside the box.

These are coin collecting holders. Shhhh...I stole them from my dad. He'll never miss them.

Little square pockets that hold coins. I just grabbed this quarter to show you , but I just so happened to grab a 1965 coin...the year I was born. I just turned 46 this week. Yikes, how did that number creep up on me?

Forget about using these for coins. How about little fabric swatches. If you store your fabric in big bins or containers where you're not sure what's in there, why not take a snip from each piece of fabric in the container and put it in this organizer. Label the containers by numbers and then put that bin number on the corresponding sheet of fabric swatches

For example...all these swatches could be in bin #1. Easy to just look through a notebook of swatches rather than 15 bins of fabric. These are also great to hold a certain project of fabric. Just take this sheet to the fabric store to match more fabric. Oh, wait...you shouldn't be going to the fabric store to buy more fabric. This is Stash Manicure, not Stash Builders. Another great holder is for baseball cards.

Another idea for Grab and Go sewing is having projects AT THE READY! How many times do you feel like starting a new quilt, but just stand there in front of your stash and stare at it like it's going to throw fabric out at you for the whole quilt. Take an afternoon and get out all your patterns that you want to make and start putting together all the projects...LOTS of them!

Where to store them? Remember my theory about matching things...how about using gift boxes that are all the same size and color. They will store nicely, keep things clean, dust free and out of the sunlight. This was a 10 pack of boxes size 11" x 17"...they're on sale now after the holidays too.

Gather up all the fabric for your project...

add your book or pattern...

cover it up...

and put a label on the front with all the info...pattern name, fabric name, colors etc.

Here's another storage idea for a project. My sister founds these for me. They are 12" x 12", zip lock craft bags.

Kits all set to go!

Another tip to keep you organized for ease of sewing is folding your fabric so you can see it better. I use this cover from a notebook, because it's the same depth as the shelf I keep my fabric on.

When you buy fabric off the bolt, it's folded selvage to selvage.

Take the folded edge and bring it up to the selvage edge.

and then bring up the folded edge again to the top. You now have a piece of fabric that is about 5" wide by the length of the yardage you purchased.

Take your cardboard piece that is the depth of your storage space and place it on the end of the folded piece of fabric.

Keep folding your way down the length of the fabric.

Slide out your cardboard and you're ready to store it away.

Neat and all the same size.

Now that you have all your fabric folded...here's a Grab and Go tutorial for an endless scarf. I finally figured out how to make one of these by picking apart one that I purchased. Grab one yard of fabric and cut it to 30" x 36". You can use your cotton fabric, but fashion fabric works great for this too.

Take your piece of fabric and lay it out with the 36 inches going left to right and the 30 inches going top to bottom. Fold in half, right sides together and sew the length of the 36 inches with a 1/4 inch seam.

You should now have a tube that is 15" x 36".

Reach into the tube and grab the other end of the open ended tube and bring it towards you. Wow, that was a mouthful.

Here is a picture of both ends of the tube.

You should end up with 2 sets of fabric right sides together.

Match the one seam that you sewed.

Pin the seam and then pin all the way around the circle.

Leave an opening to turn the scarf right side out. I leave it open as big as my hand, so it will fit in there to grab the fabric.

Sew with a 1/4" seam all the way around and then turn right side out.

Machine or hand sew the opening closed.

You now have an endless cowl neck scarf or a fabric donut!

You can make these to match any outfit or coat.

They can be worn with an outfit as an accessory or as a scarf to keep your neck warm for the winter.

You can use fleece, flannel, faux fur, silk, rayon etc. The size can be changed of course, so experiment if you'd like. My daughter has a super long tube that her sister gave her for Christmas. You just keep wrapping it around your neck for a fuller look.

These would also make great gifts too. So how about making some now and tucking them away for a quick present when you need one and dare I say...start sewing them for Christmas presents. I know...you don't even want to think about it. Don't hate me for mentioning it LOL!!

Well, I hope you enjoyed all the tips and tricks to get your stash organized so you can start digging into it and whittling away at some of the yardage you have piling up. If you like this post, hop over to my blog Sew Many Ways... to find more organizing tips and my popular posts from the Tool Time Tuesday features.

A big thanks again to Madame Samm for having me here and a great big Happy New Year to every one.