Thursday, February 28, 2013

Setting Seams (A Tutorial)

My SIL just started sewing this past Christmas by making some emblished dish towels, pot holders, and an table runner for her sister.  She is now knee deep in her first quilt and it appears to be going great.  I tell you that to tell you this.  When I first started sewing I had a ton of problems getting my seams to lay flat.  No matter how much I pressed and pressed there always seemed to be a little fold in the fabric right at my seams that just wouldn't fold flat.  One day as I was sewing with my mom she showed me that I was suppose to set the seams first.  I had no idea what she meant but she taught me what she had learned in a class when she first started quilting.  I assumed that everyone did this until a friend asked me once how I got my seams so nice and flat and showed me that annoying fold of fabric on her quilt seams.  I took some photos (sorry they aren't the best) and thought I would share what I do here just in case there is the off chance that some of you still don't know about setting your seams.

Keep in mind I press my seams to one side so if you press your seams open you probably don't have this problem.  To start you will want to sew your seam just like normal.  Then lay your piece on your pressing surface.  The side you are pressing your seam to will be facing up.

Then you are going to press the seam.  Be sure to press DO NOT use the back and forth motion you use for ironing clothes as this can stretch and warp your fabrics.  I use a dry warm iron when I press my seams.  When I first started quilting I used steam like it was my best friend.  I later found that this too can cause your fabrics to warp and become distorted.  I know some people still prefer steam-I do when ironing my fabrics prior to cutting just be careful if you chose to use steam.

Now open your fabrics and press in the direction you want your seam to go.  This should leave you with a super flat, super crisp seam.

Please don't judge my ugly ironing board cover.  I really do have every intention of making a new one someday.  It's just one of those projects I haven't found time to get to yet.  And I'm sorry the photos are a little blurry I took them on my iphone a while back to help out a friend.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WIP Wednesday

Even my trimming bin is happy with these colors.

I can't believe that it is already Wednesday again.  It feels like the week is passing by so quickly and so slowly all at the same time.  I haven't really made a ton of progress in the sewing front this week.  I managed to make a little progress on Complications Quilt.  That's what I'm calling it for now-it needs a better name but well this quilt has proven to be very complicated to me so I am going to refer to it as that until I come up with something better.

I had been working with the assumption that I would make all the blocks first and then start trying to assemble the puzzle pieces together.  I of course got ahead of myself though and decided to put together the first chunk of the puzzle.  It has grown a little since I snapped this picture but I am really glad I decided to start putting it together because it really helped me see that while I thought I was dispersing the colors pretty evenly I had large sections that didn't have as much contrast as I had hoped for so I was able to make some corrections.

My other project this week was to update the look of my blog a little.  When I first started blogging I was lucky enough to win a blog header in a give away.  I used a basic blogger template and called it done.  I eventually changed my background to a template from a free site and thought it looked okay.  Occasionally I have updated that template like now to give it a fresh look.  Just recently though I figured out that I could add to the header templates and all through a site like picmonkey.  So I took a basic header template that matched my background over to picmonkey and added in some more elements and then I got this.

I have to admit I am pretty proud of myself for figuring it out.  I'm not the most technology savvy person out there so little things like this are a big deal to me.  Although I am learning more and more and there are some great tutorials floating around out there.  Oh and see my pretty comments button up there, I made that too with some free clip art and the addition of a little text.

Be sure to head over to Lee's and see what everyone else is up to this week.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Confessions of a Noncommenter

I am horrible at comment love!  There I made my confession.  I don't know what it is that makes it so hard to leave comments on the blogs I love.  I guess part of it is my own insecurities that I don't always feel like I can add to the conversation, or that I don't know what I would say other than that the bloggers newest project looks pretty or I like the fabrics.  Sometimes I am so amazed at the skill level that I'm just in awe.  So then why don't I say that?

I never really thought much about comments until lately.  When I first started blogging I did it as a way to share my bee blocks and swaps.  Then after a couple of bad experiences I stopped participating in bees and swaps for a while and my blog just became a place to share my own projects.  That was great and I knew everyone who was reading on a regular basis because they commented regularly and because my base of readers was so small.

I don't have a ton of followers here which is okay because I'm happy just to share what I make and talk freely about what's going on in my little corner of the quilt world.  I don't check my stats page very often but every once in a while I will pop over there just to see what post are getting the most traction so I know what my readers are enjoying hearing about.  I don't want to bore you guys with a bunch of stories that you don't care to read.  Most of the time my WIP Wednesday post have the most views which is no surprise to me because it's a linky party after all and half the fun is popping by the other blogs to see what everyone else is working on.

Friday I linked up with Amanda Jean the second time for Finish it up Friday and all of the sudden I had a ton of page views.  It was totally unexpected to me but I guess it shouldn't really be a surprise because her blog is so popular.  What I did find interesting was that for all of those visitors very few left comments.  I don't want to sound like I'm complaining because that isn't my intention at all.  I just know that I'm not great about leaving comments so it got me thinking.  What is it that gets you to take that extra moment to comment?  Do you think wow that looks cool and then move on to the next blog in your reader?  I know that at home I have that nifty next button that leads me read through my reader on the actual blog page but when I catch up on some blogs during my lunch hour I read them through google reader and honestly sometimes I'm just lazy most of the time and don't take that extra minute to click through to the blog and comment.

 So now I am making a commitment to myself and to all of you that I am going to make it a priority to leave a little comment love for the bloggers I enjoy reading.  I hope you will take a moment out of your day to do the same even if it's not here on my blog because after all you never know when you might give someone that extra spark they need to keep sharing.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Puzzle Piece One

I made some progress on my latest quilt top this weekend.  While everyone was at Quiltcon the online universe was pretty quiet so the time I usually spend stalking flickr and my google reader being overwhelmed with inspiration was spent in quality sewing time instead.

Sorry for the poor photo.  I snapped it on my iphone
because I haven't been able to find my
camera since the move.

I mentioned before that the instructions for this quilt are all in German and while google translate does provide some help it is far from perfect.  So I spend a lot of time just looking at the pictures and then just winging it.  So far this method has worked okay for me for the most part.  I did choose at the start of this project not to sew all of the blocks together to avoid those partial seams which I am now pretty proud of myself for doing.  Because of that I was able to put together the first segment of the quilt top last night.  It might not look like much yet but I am already in love with this quilt top.  It's been a long time since I worked on something without sashing between the blocks so I really love how these different blocks just sort of melt into each other.  It's a lot of fun but I know I still have a long way to go.

Finally this block doesn't allow me to avoid those partial seams altogether so I am doing the best I can with it.  I was able to get to this far and then well I sewed it together and took it apart what seems like 100 times. I know I am suppose to sew those two little triangles on next but I'm not sure where I should be sewing them.  If anyone has any advice I'd love to hear it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I'm A Hoot For You

I'm so excited to have a finished project again in time for Finish it up Friday.  When my aunt asked me to make a quilt for my cousin I have to admit I freaked out a little bit.  I was excited to do it and the opportunity came at a moment when I needed a good confidence boost but at the same time I was scared to death to think someone would actually be paying me to make a quilt.  What if it isn't good enough, what if she sees something completely different than I do, what if, what if.  That was what was going through my head.  Then I sent her some pattern ideas and fabric ideas and she told me a little about what she liked.  I asked more questions and my aunt just told me not to worry about it and to just go for it that I was the quilter and she trusted me.  Talk about pressure.  In the end I made this sweet little quilt and I really hope that both my aunt and my cousin will love it as much as I do.

I typically quilt my own baby quilts but this time I chose to have it quilted on the long arm.  I had no idea how I was going to have it done but I was thinking some sweet flowers, after all it is a little girls quilt.  When I went in to pick out the quilting pattern Ellen (my long arm quilter) had the perfect design.  It is owls and flowers.  How sweet!  Here is a close up of one of the owls.  It is a little hard to see them in the patchwork part of the quilt but she did a great job lining it up so there are three owls across the top boarder that appear to be peaking out of the patchwork.

I think it's a little easier to see in this black and white photo

So what did you finish this week?  Head over to Amanda Jean's to see what everyone else is up to.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I haven't had a chance to do a whole lot of sewing since this weekend but I did make a little more progress on my newest project since I posted about Catnip earlier this week.  I mentioned before that there are y-seams in this quilt and that all of the instructions are in German.  At first I was sewing my blocks only part way because I wanted to avoid those tricky y-seams.  Now I realize they aren't actually y-seams but partial seams.  It's still scary but I think this will be an amazing chance for me to learn some new skills and really improve on what I already know.  Plus it's being made with some beautiful fabrics so it's easy to look at.

I already made some progress on the learning front because one of the blocks I tackled required partial seams already.  These blocks are far from perfect and I am sure most of you will be able to see pretty easily where my last seam was but over all I am pretty proud of them.  I have no delusions that I would want to make an entire quilt out of blocks that require this kind of seam but a few blocks wasn't so bad.

At the end of the 12 steps there is still a lot of empty space in this quilt I am planning to repeat some of my blocks rather than fill in all of those spaces with little postage stamp size squares but I'm not there yet.  Suggestions are welcome!

Be sure to head over to Lee's and see what everyone else is working on this week.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


New projects seem to be like catnip around here.  Like a kid who sees something shiny and gets distracted that has been my feeling lately.  With so many of my quilty friends getting ready to head off to Quiltcon the online community has been pretty quiet.  Typically this week I would be getting ready to go to the Mid Atlantic Quilt Show with my mom but for various reasons we aren't going to make it this year.  I was feeling a little down and out about that so I started surfing around online.  One of my friends told me about the Sew Sew Modern Swap that she had just finished up and how great it was.  I haven't done a swap in a long time but on that particular day was feeling up to the challenge so I went over and signed up-not sure if I made it in yet or not but one of the rules is that you have to post a mosaic before you can join.  So in looking through flickr and picking out favorites to include in my mosaic I came across this quilt.  It stayed in my head for a couple of days and Friday I decided I had to make one of my own.

I had full intentions of using my Marmalade and Vintage Modern for a second Farmer's Wife Quilt.  But I knew it would look perfect with a few other fabrics mixed in for this quilt.  The original directions are in German and google translator helped me navigate the basics but it still doesn't make complete sense so I am following along with the pictures the best I can.  Of course then there is the conversion from centimeters to inches and unfortunately the math didn't transfer right on so I had to make some adjustments there as well.  I'm still not sure it will all turn out right but I'm hopeful.

Right now I have finished the first two steps but I haven't sewn them all together yet.  The original instructions use y-seams to connect the different blocks.  Sine there is a lot of space left after making the 12 steps that you fill in with postage stamp like squares I decided to leave my blocks in pieces until I decide on a final layout just in case I need to move some things around.  I've never sewn y-seams before either so I am trying to avoid them the best I can.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WIP Wednesday

So last week I went through my sewing room and made a really BIG list.  I'm not sure if this is a sewing rut or just a lack of inspiration.  A lot of people said just pick something and go for it.  I wish my brain worked like that and that I could force myself just to sew something, anything.  I did make some progress just not as much as I would have liked.  I've been sidelined with a migraine that just won't quit.  It eases up but then it seems to come back with force.  Any one who gets migraines knows how bad that they can be.  Any suggestions on what works for you would be welcome because so far I haven't found that magical combination that can knock mine out.

But back to sewing news.  I did manage to drop off two quilts to the long arm.  One is the baby quilt I have been working on for my Aunt.  I am super excited to see this one when it is done because we picked the cutest owl and flower quilt pattern for it is sweet pink thread.  It should be finished soon so hopefully I will have pictures to show soon.

I also dropped off Posh Enigma.  The quilt was named this for the fabric and pattern that I used to make it and it just kind of stuck.  I started that quilt way back in 2009 when I first took up quilting.  The top has been done since then and just needed a backing.  I had picked up backing in 2009 in one of the prints that is also used in the quilt top.  Fairy something, but it wasn't wide enough and it was just barely long enough.  That was before I knew it was okay to piece quilt backs so when I realized it wouldn't work I put the quilt top away in a closet.  I pulled it out to try to finish it and by chance I had a piece of Bliss laying out in my sewing space.  Honestly I'm not sure why the Bliss was out because it was just something I had left over from making My Cup Runneth Over.  The tone on tone pink print seemed like just the ticket though so I sewed a strip down the side and wah lah a quilt back was done.

This quilt isn't my taste anymore so I am not sure what I will do with it when I am done.  My mom mentioned that she liked it and I told her she could have it but she turned me down.  I think she was just being nice because it isn't her taste either-it isn't yellow.  Perhaps I will donate this one, after all you can't keep all the quilts you make, right?

Be sure to head over to Lee's to see what everyone else is up to.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Really BIG List

It should come as no surprise to any of you that I have what I like to refer to as Quilter's ADD.  For every finished project I have shared here I probably have three more unfinished ones.  I find this a little odd because I don't keep a large stash of fabric, I usually only buy what I need for a specific project at a specific time unless it is one of my favorite designers and happens to be a great deal, and well I know I don't have hours each week to devote to sewing so I try not to take on more than I can handle.  But then sometimes I find because I am on facebook, flickr, and I read so many lovely blogs I get overwhelmed by inspiration.  I want to join in on quilt alongs, swaps, and bees because that's how you get the chance to learn new things and meet the amazing people in this community.  Well I have been sitting out of all of these things lately and I miss them terribly but then I realized I don't really need more projects.  When we moved recently I moved so many quilting boxes.  WAY more than I need thought I had.  So I figured now was as good a time as any to look back through the blog and see just how many projects I have talked about here that I've never posted finished photos of and maybe do an update.  Now it is a really BIG list but not all of them are destine to be completed, especially not by me but I am hoping that by putting this out there I will be able to focus on what is outstanding and maybe wrap up a few projects.  

  • Anna Marie Horner Chevrons-I made a few of these as part of this great quilt along.  However I decided I wasn't loving the project and stopped with just a few made.  I am thinking I might revisit these blocks and turn them into some throw pillows.  
  • Swell Quilt-After Mary sent me a jelly roll of Swell that she somehow managed to track down I swapped some amazing fabrics with a Canadian friend to get the last of the pieces I needed for this quilt.  I haven't settled on a pattern yet even though I based all of my fabric sizes off a quilt in Camille's book.
  • Anchors Away-this is a really hard one for me because in theory I love this quilt.  I'm scared to death of it but I love it.  The fabrics are Neptune, which is out of print and extremely hard to find.  I have enough to make the quilt but I am so chicken to cut into it much less cut circles out of it.  And then of course there is the applique of the circles which is beyond scary to me as well.  Then again it will be a great learning experience.
  • Swoon-I got this kit from my parents a little over a year ago.  If you follow along regularly you know I have broken this one out of the closest and am working on putting the blocks together.  2 down and 7 to go.
  • Sunny Trails-I have all of the sub-blocks made for this one and just need to go about sewing 18 more blocks and then putting the top together.  I'm not very good at making blocks that require you to sew a square to something and then cut off a triangle and flip back the square.  If anyone has any good tips for making those blocks better I would love to hear them.    
  • Spools of Love-This quilt top was made for me by a lovely group of women.  It is the top that I received back as part of a year of traveling quilts.  The group is a spin off of the Old Red Barn QAL Group and though I sat out the second round I am considering jumping back in for round three because it was just so much fun.  This one just needs a backing and I have it started and it is about half pieced.  Hopefully it won't take me too long to finish it up.
  • Summer Love-I started this quilt with the intention of entering it into a challenge that was being hosted by the Old Red Barn Group.  I only managed to get a few of the blocks done before life got in the way.  Of course because it is a dreamy combination of solids and Freshcuts I plan on finishing this one up.  I'm just not sure when.
  • Dance Party-This is an original quilt for me.  Inspired by a simple quilt block on a repeat and the bright colors of the 80's.  I planned to make this a lap size quilt when I started but I am amending my plan there.  I'm hoping to finish it up into a baby quilt.  After all you never really know when you might need a fun and funky baby shower gift.
  • Posh Enigma-This is one of the first quilt tops I made when I started quilting.  It isn't my taste at all but it only needs a backing made up for it and then it will be ready to be quilted so I might just do that.  I bought fabric for the back way back in 2009 when I first made up the top but it isn't wide enough.  I'm sure I can figure out something.
  • Paintbox QAL-I gave up on this one after making just a few blocks.  Recently I gave my mom the jelly roll strip and the coordinating pieces we had picked out together.  She has adopted this WIP but I don't know that she knows what she is in for.  
  • Spider Webs-I have a set of pink and orange spider web blocks from a bee I participated in.  They just need to be sewn up into a quilt top.  Perhaps I will get around to that one of these days.
  • Scrappy Stars-This is also a a result of a bee.  I was actually the bee mama for Bee Stitched and these blocks were all the rage back in 2010 when that bee was started.  They are fun and I have one row sewn together for this quilt.  It needs some TLC but it's going to be awesome when it's done.
  • Flower Power-These are log cabin blocks with fussy cut flowers in the middle that I received back as part of the fussy cut bee.  I guess I should make up and finish at least one of my 5 bee quilts.
  • Pinwheel Sampler-This was made as part of a QAL hosted by Rachel.  It's a super cute quilt and it is just in need of a backing.  Of course since I have no idea what I am going to do with it when I am done with it I have let it sit in the closet unfinished for a while.
  • Hexagons-This is my five year project but I am sure it will take longer than that to finish.  Hand stitching all of those little buggers is more than I bargained for.
  • Mod Bento Box-I collected these blocks as part of two rounds of the mod bento box swap.  I sewed half of them into a baby quilt but it still needs to have the quilting finished (its about 1/2 done) and binding.  My mom adopted the other half to make into a baby quilt as well.
  • Modern Meadow Bricks-I have the pieces cut for this quilt so I really just need to break them out and start sewing.  This was originally going to be a quilt for the hubs but since I made him a UNC Quilt with the help of a few friends I'm not sure he will get to keep this one.  I will of course share :)
  • Spring Weekends-I didn't participate in the QAL for this one but stumbled on it after it was over as a result of WIP Wednesday and had to make one.  This is actually all basted and ready to go.  It just needs to be quilted.  I have a new idea in mind for it so I just need to pick up some more yellow thread and get with it.
  • Well Hello Betty-this adorable little quilt top is done and is just in need of backing.  Does anyone know what color teal matches the solid in the Hello Betty line?  Maybe a solid back would be the way to go on this one.
  • Mod Times QAL-I didn't keep up with this quilt along either.  I thought I was going to get creative and piece rainbow string blocks for the middles on this one.  I have about 1/2 of those done.  But I'm not giving up on this one.  It sits in the back of my brain because I know it will make an awesome gender neutral baby quilt.
  • Farmer's Wife QAL-I am actually actively working on this one.  I have about 68 blocks done and now I am just trying to make some decisions about sashing and corner stones.  But if I don't have this one finished by the end of 2013 I will be surprised.
  • Summer Sampler-I don't know how to paper piece.  The rest of the blocks for this quilt required paper piecing.  So I think I have decided to make these into a small quilt to be donated.  A good friend gifted me the fabric to make this quilt at a time when I was really down an out so I think donating the quilt would be a great way to continue to share the love on this one.
  • 100 Quilts for Kids-I made a MoMo Wonderland quilt top a little over 2 years ago for the 100 Quilts for Kids drive but didn't finish it in time.  I would really like to get a head start on that one so that I can donate it this year as part of the drive.  Better late than never.
If you are still with me then you know I have a ton of projects.  I am planning to take a break from new projects for a while to try and get some of these done.  Of course that is always easier said than done because as a result of this weeks WIP Wednesday I stumbled across this BOM quilt that is awesome.  I have some fat quarters already picked out to use so I might just have to sneak that in there.  And of course there are other projects that I haven't talked about here before so I didn't include on the list, like my 4th of July quilt.  Hope to see you all around soon because that will mean I'm not buried under a pile of half finished projects.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I haven't been doing a whole lot of sewing this week, what with having to move all those boxes again and everything but I have made a couple of Swoon blocks.  I fell in love with this quilt way back when it first came out and I was lucky enough to get a quilt kit for it from my parents for Christmas 2011.  So this one has been sitting around in my sewing room for a while.  I love that it only takes 9 of these huge blocks to make a queen size quilt.  The fabric is all from the Ruby line by Bonnie and Camille.

Be sure to head over to Lee's to see what everyone else is up to.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Back of the Closet

So I will be the first to admit I have quilting ADD.  I started trying to work my way through the projects in my sewing room a little at a time.  I was working on my Sunny Trails quilt but I was getting frustrated because the blocks weren't playing nice.  Then like something shinny in the corner of my room I saw my Swoon quilt kit that my parents had given me over a year ago.  Of course this meant I had to start working on that instead.  So I picked up the pieces of my Sunny Trails quilt and moved on to Swoon.  I think I told you guys that we recently moved.  In all of my wisdom I stacked most of my sewing things in the closet of the spare bedroom.  At the time this made total sense because I was going to use a corner of the spare room as my sewing space.  What I didn't anticipate is that I would stack a ton of stuff in front of that closet door.  So I needed to sharpen my fabric pencils to mark the lines on the back of the HST blocks.  I knew I had two pencil sharpeners in a box but they were in that back corner of the closet.  What to do?  Well I had to go to Petsmart to get some supplies for the pup so no problem I popped into Target and picked up a .69 cent pencil sharpener.  No harm, no foul.  But then when I was ready to trim up those HST blocks I realized that my Tucker Trimmer was also in said box.  No fair!  Now this closet has two doors so I tried every maneuver possible to avoid unstacking the boxes blocking the second door.  Of course nothing worked so I ended up spending a little over an hour of my sewing time moving around the room to get to the two boxes still in the closet with sewing items in them.  Of course this was what seemed like the 107th time I had moved these boxes so I made sure nothing sewing related went back in the closet.  I need to figure out where to put everything but clearly the closet is not the correct option.  At least not for now.