Thursday, December 31, 2015

Quick denim quilt tutorial, part 1

Cut yourself a bunch of squares out of recycled denim. We used six 4" squares for the tutorial to give you the basics. I recommend at least 6" squares for a lap or full sized quilt. Precise cutting is the key to everything. You'll be happy later if you take time to do this part right.

Put one square right side up.

Place a second square right side down on top of the square above.

Using your presser foot to measure seam allowance as shown in the picture, stitch these two together. At the beginning and the end, do a forward and reverse stitch or two to secure the line of stitching.

Place the two squares right side up.

Place one square right side down on the end of the first set of sewn squares.

Stitch this square down as above, securing with a forward and reverse stitch on the ends. 

This is what it looks like when turned over. Use as many squares as you like to make a row. 

You remember your iron, right? You're about to use it.

Turn your row right side down. 

Press the seams open with a hot iron. 

When you've done all the seams, turn the row right side up and iron from the top to give it an extra oomph to keep the seams open. Repeat with all rows. 

Place an ironed row right side up.

Place a second row right side down on the first row.

Match the seams. Try to match the seam and not the seam allowance. 

Pin on the left side of the seam to hold. Repeat with all squares in the row. Don't worry if there's a little give in the squares. 

Start at one end (forward and reverse) and stitch the two rows together until you get to the seam/pin. You can stretch the squares a skosh with your hands if there was a little give. The goal is to not have pinches of fabric, especially at the seams. If you cut them precisely, you should be fine. 

Take the pin out and hold the seam in place by hand. Go very slowly here. The fabric is thick. 

Stitch the seam intersection together...

Go forward, backward, and forward again to double reinforce the seam joint.

Seam done. Repeat as often as necessary with rows. you can do two rows, then two rows, then two rows, etc. to make handling easier, then stitch the sections of two rows together. 

Take this to the ironing board and place it right side down.

Press the new seam open with high heat, paying attention to the intersections of seams. Go slowly. It pays to do it right the first time. 

Here is the wrong side pressed. 

Turn it over and press again. 

Your quilt top is now made. 

How to add backing and tie the quilt will be in part 2 of the tutorial. Now, go make a quilt!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

My daughter's friend is getting married. My daughter being the poor, starving graduate student that she is asked if we could collaborate. She sent me a wonderful picture of her friend after a run with her fiance. We'll call that something borrowed. I decided to print it and pair it with some beautiful sky fabric I have. Something blue! I had the pillow front planned.

I asked my daughter how her friend's home was decorated. She said, "Well, it's colorful!" That made me remember my small collection of cutter quilts. Something very, very old. I wanted to accent the colors and brighten them up, so I grabbed some white bias tape I had on hand. If had not had the bias tape I would have made strips the way I do with pie potholders. The bias part is not important for my pillow. When I applied the white on the colorful patchwork, I also added a piece of fabric as a lining since the quilt itself is pretty old. This will give it some longevity as the patchwork piece will not be pushed and pulled in all directions; the lining will. There are directions all over the internet for prairie points. Everyone makes them their own way. I fold a 2" square, then fold it again on the diagonal and call it a point.

So, what's the something new? The pillow.

Here it is with the points pinned on and the back with the patchwork pieces framed. I made the back a little larger than the front to give me some design flexibility. 

You can kind of see the decorative stitching around the picture itself. The points turned out beautifully. I might make them out of 3" squares next time. 

And here's the back. I love these old cutter quilt tops. I hate to think of them getting dusty and being unused in someone's attic. We can bring some life to them if we give them a second chance. My hints include reinforcing the seams as many are hand sewn and not very sturdy and to line any piece you use to keep it alive a little longer. As mentioned, with this pillow, I used a lining and then did the bias tape stitching. It just about pops when you see it in person; the colors which once seemed a tad dull on their own are bright as can be with the white framing. 

 And so, the pillow is made. I think I love it!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sewing & pattern fun

Just a diversion on another cold and icky day.

I love the animated patterns:

And the behavior associated with vintage patterns explained here cracks me up (there is some cussing!):

And then, there's always the sewing cat:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Another dress from heck and vacation sewing

About 2 years ago, I cut out a dress from Smurfs material. It's a size 5/6 for little girls. I thought it would be fun to put together, embellish, and possibly sell. I started sewing it together and saw that the fabric had some small blue blotches here and there. Argh. I got mad at it and put it away. Did I mention the dress has a zipper and I hate zippers? Argh again.

I pulled it out before vacation in February and decided it was time to finish it. Two years was long enough to get over being mad at the fabric. Peter Pan collar, a bodice to which I could add some trim, and what a cute dress it was turning out to be. A friend had given me a zipper and I put it in as best I could. Then it broke. The derned zipper broke.

Off to the store with me. I was determined by now and bought a zipper for the stupid dress. Before I could sew it in, I had to rip out the other one without ruining the back of the dress. I've mentioned before this is my favorite sewing tool:
I got it out and went to work. One stitch at a time, then two and three, and finally, got it out without too much damage. I was happy to throw the broken zipper away. It gave me a feeling of power. Take that, zipper!

The new zipper went in okay and I added a little hook at the top of it to provide full closure. I had asked my nieces to get me some arm measurements from their daughters, so that made finishing the sleeves possible. Last came the hem. Easy peasy as I was going to add trim anyway. Whirrrrr on the machine. Honesty, I don't think I hate it anymore! But I can't sell it. I messaged my niece on Facebook last night and asked if her daughter/s could wear this size, and yes, they can! I packaged it up and mailed it off to Texas this morning. I even included extra trim in case she can use it for their hair or something. So, how did it turn out?

I hope the girls love it.

While I was on vacation, I started a small lap quilt. I took the white and red fabric with me, but my poor sister had to go to the fabric store to pick out the green. She is the one who found just the right green! There's more to come on this one; I never go out of town without my hand sewing.

It's a lot further along now, but this is how it begins.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Steal my stuff!

No, seriously, steal it.

Part of the reason I do this blog is to teach others how to do simple stuff; it's not all show and tell, ya know. Those of us who sew need to pass it along. And we need to do it freely. So what if you use a Christmas Stocking project to make money on your own? Good for you. Way to go. You put your own spin on it and you had the initiative to do it. Steal all my projects. I'm down with it. Some are on my projects/tutorial page and some are in the blog itself.

Additionally, if you need help with any of these simple sewing thingies, just ask. You can put a comment with a question and I'll get back to you. If you subscribe to email notifications for replies, you'll get a handy dandy email when I do. If I don't have the answer, I'll see if I can find one. has been redesigned and will launch later today. That's another free site. I add definitions often. If you have any suggestions, contact me and I'll see what I can do about writing it up. Use the dictionary. Share the dictionary.

So here's the deal - you have my permission to use any ideas you see on this site. If you care to, link back to Use our eBay link to do  your buying if you can. That helps pay the cyber rent. Or don't. No strings attached.

Think of this as open source sewing ideas and instruction. That's about it. Steal my stuff.

Sneak peak at strawberry pinwheel baby quilt I'm finishing today. I was testing out a method of making triangles with two squares like this tutorial shows.