Monday, May 9, 2011

Manicuring your FQ stash

Hello all you lovely quilters in Blogland.  My name is Benta, and I blog over at SLIKstitches.  I have been following Stash Manicure for quite a while now, and have learnt so many things, so I am delighted to have this opportunity to share an idea with all of you.


 Thought I would bring you some hot beverages too...help yourself while I share why I am here.


When I started quilting I used to buy lovely fabrics randomly: a FQ (or several) that I liked, at a time.  It has taken me 20 years, but I have realised that isn’t the best way to buy fabric, as I never have enough to make a decent size quilt.  So now I try and buy a couple of metres (yards for our American cousins) at a time, but I had to find a way to use up my FQ stash to make room for the new fabrics.  I had been making (and refining) a handy little bag for many years and realised it was perfect for FQ busting.  (I think I may have had a slight addition to buying FQs, but I did manage to quit improve without the need for a self-help group.)

This post sort of started back at Christmas when I was the luckiest of all the lucky Christmas Giveaway winners on Stash Manicure.  Madame Samm send me the bestest Christmas pressie – a sparkly red package bursting with fabrics, designs, embellishments, a cuppa cozie, a fridge magnet … oh I can feel myself coming over all unnecessary just thinking about it!

[I hope you dont think I'm boasting... well, OK, I am, a little bit, but I’m not just boasting – there is a point to this, stick with me …] ... The fabric was a layer cake: 42 squares of loveliness – Moda’s Arnold’s Attic - but when I eventually prepared myself to cut into it, I had a design in mind that needed 45 squares, so I got some Moda Bistro FQs in a similar colourway.  At the end I had a FQ left over.
 
I used the leftover FQ to make a FQ buster bag, and I sent it to Madame Samm, as a thank you for the goodies.  She tells me that she uses it every day in her car to hold necessary essentials.  Over the years I have made loads of them: as gifts, and as handy places to store things for me and my girls… and now I am going to share with you :-)
 
Take your FQ (ideally not one with a directional design), and fold over half an inch to the back along the selvedge edge. Press






Fold the FQ in half, right sides together, so the folded selvedge edge is along the top, and stitch the two sides together from the end of the folded fabric (ie 1 inch down from the top edge) to the bottom end.



You now have a tube (folded selvedge along the top, fold to the left and stitched seam to the right).   


Rearrange the tube so the seam goes down the middle of the tube.  Press seam open.  You had previously pressed the selvedge edge down, you now want to press it ‘open’ even though it isn’t actually stitched.


Fold the bottom of the piece up so it just touches the bottom of the folded selvedge edge.  
Finger press so you can see the fold. Open up and stitch using the fold mark as your stitching guide

The fabric is now two distinct sections: top, and bottom.  This next bit may sound (read?) confusing, but it does work.  

Turn the bottom section inside out, so it covers the top section.  Put your fingers, or knitting needle or something similar - but NOT the blade of a pair of scissors (please don’t ask me how I know that isn’t a good idea!) into the corners to turn them neatly.
  
Now we are going to create a channel for a drawstring.  Start to turn your selvedge edge down.  Fold down another half inch, and pin, working your way around to the front. 

When you have finished this folding and pinning you can stitch along the edge, and then, using your preferred method, you can thread 20 inches or so of suitable ribbon through the casing. (If you are confident, you could be encasing your ribbon as you did the pinning)

You now have a pretty little bag which can hold all sorts of bits and pieces, and no raw edges to be seen.
However, this project does come with a wealth warning ... I’ve found that now I buy FQs because ‘that fabric will be perfect for… Lisa, Niki, Jane, …”

Thanks all for reading this far … with all the love I can put into this bag, this is for you. love Benta


PS I know lots of guest bloggers finish with a giveaway, I am too,... but with a difference!  I have two [nearly] finished quilts that do not have a home to go to, and I would like to donate them to a charity, but I dont know where to send them - hospice, soldiers, children's home, hospital ... so I'd like you to make a suggestion.  Either a UK charity, or an international one: I will post the quilts as a gift from you.  Visit my blog to see the quilts, and suggest a charity by commenting here and on my blog.  Thanks

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To Mumm's who happen to quilt and stitch!




It's Mumm's Day

Whoever you mother, know that your role
has a wonderful impact on children, pets,
 husbands, boyfriends, significant others
everyone you come in contact with can feel your warmth.

It is instinctive. YOU are gentle in nature,
 YOU put everyone ahead of yourself , YOU are unselfish-
and YOU give and YOU keep on giving... YOU are MUMM's !

Sew dear Mumm's
 all around the world...
HAPPY MUMM's DAY from my heart to yours!


YOU Sew MATTER ! 
to me, to us, to everyone!


Happy Mumm's Day!




Saturday, May 7, 2011

AN ORIGINAL QUILT?-----BY WHO?-------ME?-------SERIOUSLY?

Seriously! I have an idea how you can bust some serious stash. Afterall that is the goal around here, right? A few years ago I made a few Drunkard's Path blocks by a new technique at the time. It was a fairly easy technique, but I found out really soon that I did not want to make enough for a whole quilt.  I decided to make those blocks the center of a medalian quilt.  Around, around, and around I went as I kept adding to my quilt.  Checkerboard, Applique, some Log Cabin blocks.  The final round included applique in the corners.  This quilt has been a real crowd pleaser.   Someone once ask me what is it that makes a successful scrap quilt.  I think the answer is the same as with any planned farics quilt.  Pick your colors and then use as many prints in those colors as you like.  This makes for a perfect recipe for a Stash Busting quilt.  You can trim that stash down to a managable size.
The second quilt I want to show you was designed in the same way, but started with four  applique blocks that were copied from an 1800's antique quilt.  I seperated them with a star center and then used Flying Geese for the first round.  At that point I decided to turn it on point.  Wanting to change the size of the block from the small Flying Geese, I decided to use large trangles.  The corners are plain coordinating fabric.  I plan to go one more round repeating the Flying Geese.  As you can see from the picture, it is  not finished.  The antique quilt that the center blocks were taken from was a red and green quilt.

I have another Medalian quilt started.  The center, once again, is four orphan blocks. 
The next row is applique. The pattern was taken from a rug in our family room.

The next will be these 9 patches~~~~~~~~~

My hope is that I have inspired you to make your own Medalian quilt.  The best place to start is your orphan block box.  You might have a fantastic blocks for a center and maybe some other blocks suitable for a round.  If so, you are halfway through already.

I hope you will visit me over at Molly's Place.  I have just finished a twelve month free Block of the Month of embroidered trees called Tree Time.   Texas Boots are the theme for my next free BOM.  I hope you will come on over and see what's going on. I'm open 24 hours a day 24/7. 
I hope your holiday season is all you have dreamed of.

Thanks for letting me fill in today Madame Samm and I hope I was able to 
entertain you all. 

Molly Fryer

A special note to Molly for filling in 
for a guest who was a NO show...
That is why our PLAN B girls are essential..
very appreciated....
Thanks to bits...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Road to Reinvention... is littered with Handbags?

Our NEWEST pattern- The Quattro

Thanks Madame Samm for the invitation to talk to you today! 

My name’s Kat Southern, head creator at StudioKat Designs, and today I’d like to share a little bit about how I got started as an independent pattern designer. Then hop on over to my Blogto enter our special giveaway in honor of Sew I Quilt! (There'll be a special link at the bottom of this post.)

I get a lot of questions from folks who are interested in how I went about starting this pattern business. And it's when people find out that prior to the start-up, I spent 29 years managing a wastewater lab for a municipality, that the inevitable questions about 're-invention' comes up...

      What made you think you could succeed?...

      How did you know where to start?...

     Weren't you scared of taking such a big chance or by doing something so different from anything you'd done before?...

And that’s when the term reinvention comes up. Now I know that reinvention is often spoke of nowadays as a desirable thing, after all, they say Cher reinvents herself every 10 years right? But somehow, the term ‘reinvention just  feels wrong to me. It seems to hint that in some way I was broken before. Reinvention sounds like maybe I just wasn't good enough as I was.

But what if we just look at this another way? What if our goal was instead, to use our time in our 20s, 30s and 40s, to collect skills and knowledge, and gain experience, expertise and wisdom.  Things like job changes, failures, disappointments, layoffs, hobbies and evening classes would simply be viewed as a means of clarifying what we really want and love to do… a means of discovering our natural gifts, inclinations and strengths. 

I once read an article that described this type of progression as a means of 'defining your reach'. The basic premise was that when we reach our 40s, 50s and 60s and beyond, we’ll be prepared to combine all these various life experiences and be ready to do the work that we've always been destined to do. I like this. It feels right to me somehow. Maybe that's because I'm in my 50s now, but maybe it's not...

In my case, the 29 years I spent in an analytical lab was very heavily left-brained, and for the most part, I enjoyed it, but maybe that's why my off-time was filled with right-brained activities. I learned to play a clarinet in my 30s and joined an orchestra.

I became obcessed with sewing and all types of needle-work, designing window treatments and various home décor items for my house and my friends. I secretly dreamed of starting a home-based business, and 'tried on' several possibilities while I still had the safety net of a fulltime job, before finally developing my vision for handbag design.

So did I reinvent myself? I think not. Rather, I like to think that I created a plan that allowed me to learn all the things I needed to learn, so that when the time was right, (at age 51), I’d finally be able to do what I loved. I learned HTML, and read every book I could find (seriously, I really did!) about small home-based businesses in general and the crafting businesses in particular.

But here’s the deal, it all happened so slowly and gradually that I don't recall feeling like I was taking a leap at all. Rather, it felt more like I was FINALLY pulling together all my interests and AT LAST getting to do what I was always destined to do. And I’m pleased to say that 6 years and 24 patterns later, I’m STILL learning new things, and the release of my very first eBook this week is just one more little course adjustment in our progression. 
So what about you? Are you intentionally developing your natural abilities? Are you using your occasional disappointments and setbacks to fine tune your vision for your future? And what steps can you take today, to get you further your growth? 
So how's about leave me a comment here and then...
answer the following question about this post 
for a chance to win our special GIVEaway in honor of Sew We Quilt! 

What would YOUR dream job be?  

***
StudioKat Designs on the Web


* * * * * * * *
Did you enjoy this article? Please feel free to re-tweet it or pass it on to others at Facebook or StumbleUpon, and feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section!

Kat's comments below...had to reload to get blogger to read ...


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My First Rag Quilt - A Tutorial (And a Giveaway)

Hello all you stash Enthusiasts, Melissa from Happy Quilting here.  So did the tile get your attention??/  Don't you all just love giveaways!!!  I know I do.  So, I will start by saying the giveaway information is at the bottom of this post.  So, if you have no interest in rag quilts, or maybe chuckling on and off at my quirky humor feel free to just surf on down.  It won't hurt my feelings, and honestly, how am I ever to know :)

So a few weeks ago I was pondering on what to do with these.  They are a bunch of HST's that I have left over from my Happy Quilting Quilt A Long :)  I wanted to try something new and different.  The next day I was reading one of the many quilting blogs I follow and a pictures was posted of a rag quilt.  Light bulb!!!!


It was the perfect idea!!  I could use them to make a Rag Quilt.  But not just a plain old square rag quilt, a pieced rag quilt, with a cut little pattern.  So here is where I admit something kind of crazy, I have never made a Rag Quilt before.  I know, lots of people start with these, but somehow I missed them.  So a quick trip to google, and I have more info on rag quilts then I would ever need.

So using the cumulative knowledge, I set out to make my First Pieced Rag Quilt!!  And I thought you might like to come along for the ride :)  I learned a lot along the way and will be sharing those thoughts as well.  So look out for Italics, those are my inner thoughts on things I wish I would have done different, helpful tidbits, and just plain quirkiness 

STEP 1 - MAKING HALF SQUARE TRIANGLES


So, In order to make a "Pieced" rag quilt you have to start first with making the pieces.  Makes sense, right.  HST's are a great piecing tool because they give you so many design options.  So, here is how to make one :)  I very much doubt there are many of you who haven't done this, but I wanted to be thorough :)

Start with 2 squares that are the same size.  I like one being solid and one print to help the design show up but it isn't necessary.   These can be any size, charm squares work great for it!!!


Lay the 2 squares with right sides together and draw a line diagonally from corner to corner on the wrong side of the fabric on one of the squares.


Now sew a 1/4" seam on the left and the right hand side of that line. I always forget to trim my threads before taking pictures.  


Now using your ruler and cutter, or your scissors for that matter, as long as you can cut semi straight, cut along the drawn line creating 2 separate pieces.


Press your seam.  I like to press my seams to the print side.  You can press them any way you prefer.  I really need to buy a new iron, mine leaks water like a sieve.


Now, it's just trimming your block.  You will be trimming it to a 1/2" smaller square than you started with.  So, since this started as a 5" square, I will be trimming it to 4 1/2".  To do this, align your ruler so that the 45 degree line is along the diagonal seam of your block and that the left side edge is on the 4 1/2" line of your ruler.  Trim the excess on the right that is sticking out.


Rotate your block, this is where I wish I had one of those spinning mats, and align your ruler just like before.  Trim away.  Sometimes, there isn't a whole lot to trim away.  Keep rotating your block until you have trimmed all 4 sides and have a perfect square :)


So Now you know how to make a HST!!!  Now, just decide how many squares you want in your rag quilt and make up your HST's.  It helps to do them assembly style, but you already knew that.  I am doing a 7 x 7 layout so I need to make 49 HST's blocks or have 25 sets of charm squares.  Oh, and if mine look smaller from here on out it is because they are.  They are actually 4" blocks going forward.

STEP 2 - MAKING THE PIECED RAG SQUARES

Okay, so now your Pieced HST's are ready you need to get the rest of the parts of your rag quilt squares ready.  Here is where there are like a million options.  Basically here you are looking for a backing and a center.  People use snuggle flannel, flannel, minky, cotton, the sky is the limit.  It just depends what "feel" you want.   I choose to do a cotton print backing, so that it matched the front, and a felt square center.  If I had it to do over I would have used snuggle flannel instead of felt, it was stiff and hard to work with, but it was what I had on hand.  

Now, You want to cut the same number of squares out of your backing and center as you have for your top.  Now here is where there is another option. Some people cut the same size squares, and some people cut their center, the batting piece, a 1/2" smaller.   I went for the same size as I wanted the red felt to really stand out in all those little cuts.  Although, I have to admit, when dealing with the bulk, you tend to wish you choose different, but it was worth it in the end.


So, now you should have a stack of backing squares, a stack of center or batting squares, and a stack of pieced top squares.  And you are ready to go.  Oh, and one more mention, you can just do 2 layers, but goodness, as there weren't enough options already.


You are now ready to make what I like to call square sandwiches.  It is just like making a quilt sandwich but you do it with each individual block.  Take a backing square, a center square, and a pieced top square.  Stack them up so that the backing square is wrong side face up, the center square you can face any way you like, and the pieced square is faced right side up.  Then go ahead and pin along either side of your seam to make your square sandwich.  Repeat this with all of your squares.


Now, here is where we have some more options.  Seriously, I have to admit, I was a little overwhelmed when taking on this project with how many decisions I had to make to come out with pretty much the same product.  You are going to sew your pieced sections together.  You can sew a X through each square set, you can sew a border around the whole square set, or you can sew nothing at all and just keep the pins.  This is not pictured, obviously.  I choose to sew a single line down the seam line of my pieced square so that it enhances the design.  You don't see it much on the front but it looks cute on the back.


Start by feeding your first squares set into your machine.  Sometimes it is hard to start right on the edge because the layers want to bulk up so I recommend starting about 1/8" in from the edge.  No worries, it will all get sewn into the row seams.  Sew down the seam line.  Just keep feeding in square after square until you have sewn them all.  If you have a walking foot, put it on for this step and leave it on for the remainder of the project,  It helps a ton!!!  Trim the threads between your square sets so you have a stack of squares.  Leave the pins in.



STEP 3 - CHOOSING A LAYOUT

So, now all of your square sets are nice and sewn together and you are ready to choose a layout.    The possibilities are quite numerous.  Here are a few ideas.  



I tend to love pinwheels so that is what I decided to go with.  Layout your blocks (in however many rows and columns you decided on) in your choose pattern.  I like to take a little time here so that I get a nice mix of color that is pleasing to the eye.


STEP 4 - SEWING THE ROWS TOGETHER


Once you have the layout down you are ready to start sewing your rows together.  This is a little different than sewing normally as you are going to be putting wrong sides together.  Ya totally backwards, it took me a minute to wrap my head around that.  Grab your first two pieces in your first row and place them wrong sides together.  I didn't bother with pins, I rarely do for things under 5" that do have seams to worry about.


Now sew a 1/2" , Yes, a 1/2" not a 1/4", seam along the side of your square.  If you have a heavy duty needle available I would highly recommend it.  It took me 2 broken needles to figure that out.  


Now you are ready to attach the next piece in the row.  Once again, place your now sewn together squares 1 and 2 and place them wrong sides together with square 3.  Sew your 1/2" seam.  Continue this way down the entire row.


So this is what a row looks like.  So now, move on to the next row.  I found it helpful to stack mine up slightly so that I could take an entire row at a time to my machine.  I can only get up and down so much in a short period of time :)


So, here are all your rows sewn together.  I know, not much now but just give it time :)  Go ahead and remove your pins now.  I add a pin in each row on the number square of the row to help me keep my rows straight.  Just fyi



STEP 5 - SEWING THE TOP TOGETHER

So now, onto taking those rows and sewing them together to make a top.  This is done in the same way as making a row, just on a longer scale with seams to worry about.   Grab row 1 and row 2 and place them wrong sides together.

This is where the pinning gets important.  I found it easiest, and actually quite helpful when you get to the cutting stage, lucky break, to open your seams both front and back to pin them rather than to do a traditional "nested" seam.  Align the seams and pin both sides of the seam down.  Then pin the edges of the rows.

Hopefully this close-up helps a bit with the idea of opening the seams. Yes, that is a lot of bulk to sew through on those seams, once again, kicking myself for not going to the store to buy something other than felt.  Now, Sew a 1/2" seam down the length of the pinned side of the row.  Don't go over pins, take them out right before you get to them.  Seriously, I busted a third needle when I got lazy.  


So here is your first two rows sewn together.  You an see that design starting to form.  Just keep on with this process, adding one row after another until you have all of your rows sewn together.  I have little helpers in my sewing room who like to stick their toes in photos :)


So here is your top now.  Only one more sewing step to go.  And then it is on to sore hands :)


Lastly, sew a seam 1/2" in from the edge of the quilt around the the entire quilt.  I pinned all of my edges open so that the cutting would be the same.  However, it really wasn't necessary to pin, it would have been just as easy to lay them flat as I went around.  


STEP 6 - CUTTING

Okay, so onto the cutting.  Basically, anything sticking up has to be cut.  So go find your favorite Jane Austin flick and stick it in.  You will be here for a bit.

 I found the easiest way to cut is to fold the seam line I was working on in half so that I would cut through the whole width and still see the seam so as not to cut through it.  But if you happen to do this, and yes I did, no worries, You can just resew the seam again.  


So basically there are three types of seams to deal with when cutting, at least that is what I found.  Straight seams, which are the easies.  Just cut a nice little fringe like so.


Well call these seam centers.  Lots and lots of fabric.  I was seriously debating going and buying a pair of spring loaded scissors at this part.  You can cut these the same way as you do the straight seams.  It is okay if you cut the vertical seam, just don't cross the horizontal seam.


And lastly, The open seams in opposite directions.  Don't you just love these terms I am making up.  I found it easiest to first snip right next to the horizontal seam on both sides of the square on top and bottom.  This allows you to now fold your piece in half along the seam line and cut it just like all the other seams.


So now everything has cut little clips in it.  Make sure you also clipped around the outside edge.  And go massage your hand for a bit.  



STEP 7 - WASH AND ENJOY

Now just throw the blanket in the washer and dryer. And Ta Da!!!! It comes out in a cute, adorable little blanket.  Mine is small, the perfect size for a car seat snuggler and then to be drug around as a toddler when Mom doesn't want to cart around a huge blanket.


I hope you enjoy making up a Pieced Rag Quilt as much as I did!!!  I think I will be making another one very soon.  Although, I will be using larger squares and will not be using felt as the centers.  Thanks for joining me and if you happen to whip one of these up, please feel free to add a picture to my flickr group here :)  I would love to highlight it on my blog some time!!

SO ONTO THE PART ABOUT A GIVEAWAY!!

It just so happens that Happy Quilting has recently started having Sponsors and is celebrating the introduction of it's first sponsor, Burgundy Buttons, with a giveaway!!!  So, How about a chance to win 2 charm packs of your choice from the following options!!  They would be perfect for your own rag quilt!!!  Interested???  Just click on over to this post  and comment there (according to the guidelines) to enter :) Good Luck!!!
and don't forget to leave me a comment here, so I will be welcomed back..



Thanks to Madam Samm for having me and to you for joining me on my First Rag Quilt journey.  
 Happy Quilting to you all!!!