Sunday, June 7, 2020

Quilter's Knot Video Tutorial

I  finally got around to creating my own YouTube Channel AND uploaded my first video!
I've been wanting to do this for a while now, but it took Saturday's class on Big Stitch Hand Quilting and the need for a follow up video on the Quilter's Knot to get my butt in gear and do something about it.

One of the reasons I kept putting it off was because I don't have a tripod, especially one for an overhead camera.  But, I just happened to see a gal on instagram post an overhead tripod hack, and the lightbulb went off!  It worked great, even though it looks very DIY!!

So, here's the link to the video on how to do a quilter's knot.  There's no music because I haven't figured out how to do that, but hopefully that will come!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Face Mask Tutorial

As cranky as it makes me to stitch face masks, I've finally come to the realization that it is a necessary evil at the moment, and hopefully only a temporary thing.

I was nervous about jumping on the mask-stitching band wagon until a friend researched this pattern and got the seal of approval from a local health care professional who manages a number of assisted living facilities.  I was willing to help her with the need, and before long I began getting requests from numerous people for directions or completed masks!  AARRGGHHH!!!!  I still must be stuck in the first stage of grief (total and absolute denial!!), because I simply cannot wrap my brain around the fact that we are needing to stitch masks....

Anyway, there are tons of tutorials out there, but I like this pattern because it's quick and easy, doesn't require a serger, uses only one piece of fabric, and has been trialed by someone in the healthcare industry.  Also, by leaving the top edge open, it creates a pocket to insert a filter of some sort if you wish.


Supplies needed:

Fabric:  one piece of fabric, 8-1/2" x 17"
1/4" elastic:  two 7" pieces 

Note:  a fat quarter or 1/4 yard of fabric will yield two masks; one-half yard yields 5 masks, and one yard of fabric will yield eight masks.

Press under 1/2" on shorter sides; turn under and press again creating a double fold.

Line up pressed-under edges and fold length of fabric in half; press crease along bottom edge.

Fold and press three pleats, aiming for a finished height of 4".
(I just eyeball this part and simply try to get my pleats as even as possible.)

Open up fabric and pin each pleat from the wrong side.

On right side, pin ends of elastic close to top edges and close to center fold.

Now, fold right sides together and pin through all layers, making sure to remove pins from underneath.

Stitch starting approximately 1-1/2" from raw edge along folded edge, and 1/4" seams along sides.  Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.  I also backstitch over the elastic so that it will be nice and secure.

Turn inside out, poke out corners (I like to use a Clover Tailor's Awl), and smooth out pleats.

And, that's it!

Note:  as you may well be aware, 1/4" elastic is basically impossible to source at the moment.  So, an ingenious alternative is to cut 1" strips from an old t-shirt.  Cut strips parallel to the hemline, then pull the strip until it curls.  If your t-shirt fabric is stretchy enough, you can simply use the strips in place of elastic.  Or, cut them into four 16" lengths and use them as ties in place of the elastic.  Stretchy hairbands are another option as well.

Also, you may wish to serge or overcast the short edges before pressing under, but I normally don't take the time to do that.

Trusting you are staying sane and healthy during these crazy times!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Vinyl Zip Pouches from Vintage Patterns

These zip pouches still give me the goosebumps....

When my siblings were cleaning out my parents' house this past summer,  they found a box containing my mother's wedding dress pattern, scraps of the bridal fabric, and even the receipt....

I knew my mother's wedding dress was long gone.  I can still remember the day when she threw it out....  It had been stored in the farmhouse attic, and at some point the roof had leaked.  When my mother discovered that her dress had been ruined, she simply threw it out....  That always haunted me!  She seemed OK with it (at least from what I had observed as a child), but I always wished that she had saved it so that we could have salvaged at least something from it.

So, imagine my surprise when my sister presented me with the newly-found box of scraps.  I was thrilled!  But, it wasn't until a few months later when I opened the box to sift through it again that I discovered the receipt!!  It's the coolest document ever to me; it lists my mother's maiden name,  the address of where she was living at the time, the yardage amounts for her dress and her two bridesmaids' dresses,  how much they paid for all the fabric, and the date.  It even documents that weddings weren't such a big deal back then - my mother bought all that fabric on August 10, made her dress, and was married by the end of September of that same year.  Done.

I love that the pattern lists her name in pencil and documents her tiny size.  

I think she even looks a bit like the bride in the pattern!

I knew I wanted to do something with the pattern for my sisters and sister-in-law for Christmas, but what??  I was so grateful that the idea for these zip pouches came to me one day in class when I was chatting about it with some of my students.

  The pouch made out of the receipt is backed with some of the bridal fabric scraps.

We also came across one of my dad's shirt patterns, so it made the perfect zip pouch as well.

I love the "J. J. Newberry Co." stamp!!

It took me a little bit to figure out just how to I wanted to do them, but I am tickled with the results!

Here's how I went about it:
After ironing a piece of Kona cotton (color PFD) fabric onto a sheet of freezer paper, I fed the fabric through my ink jet printer and photocopied the images onto it.

Then, I ironed some fusible vinyl onto the fabric.  Just be sure to cover it with a press cloth before fusing.

I trimmed the zippers, added zipper tabs, and turned the photocopied fabric into a zip pouch using this method.
They are easy to make as long as you have an ink jet printer that will feed the fabric through easily.

I am so, so pleased with how these turned out!!

Now I can't stop thinking about what else I can turn into vinyl zip pouches....

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Too Cool T-shirt Quilt Tips and Tricks

Last month I made two t-shirt quilts in one week for customers to give as Christmas presents and was reminded of just how much I love this method of constructing t-shirt quilts!  
In fact, if someone asks me to make one with sashing or simple squares, I try to get out of it....  :)
This method is fun and doesn't feel tedious or boring.   Plus, customers and recipients are impressed with your expertise and can't figure out how you were able to pull it off - definitely the sweet spot all sewists dream of!

First of all, you'll need a copy of the book by Andrea Funk and Millie Funk.  Previous editions are perfectly fine to use too.  It can be a little hard to source, so you may need to ask your local quilt shop to order it for you.

I follow the method outlined in the book, except I do like to stabilize my shirts with a fusible interfacing.  I use the cheapest, lightest weight interfacing I can find.  Even though it's a little more time consuming, I find it makes the process so much easier in the long run.

Also, instead of having plexiglass templates made, I simply use the following rulers:
16-1/2 x 16-1/2"
12-1/2 x 12-1/2"
8-1/2" x 8-1/2"
4-1/2" x 4-1/2"

Additionally, I find a 2" ruler (not 2-1/2") used along with the 16-1/2" square ruler is helpful in case I need to cut a block 20-1/2".  When cutting, you simply add the 2" ruler to both sides of the 16-1/2" square ruler to yield 20-1/2".

Since I make so many of these quilts, I had my templates laminated.

And, I made up an Excel spreadsheet so that all I have to do is plug in the numbers for each size of block and it does the math for me!

I always do the machine quilting on my domestic machine.  

I like to do a large meandering free motion quilting stitch for my customers.  I find if I can use a fine thread, it blends nicely and the meandering stitch doesn't compete with the designs of the shirts.  But, t-shirt quilts can be a little tricky to quilt through without thread breakage.  I have always used Aurifil thread and a topstitching needle in the past, but on these two quilts I tried So Fine thread by Superior Threads in place of the Aurifil and was super pleased!  

Since So Fine is a polyester thread, it is strong enough to resist breakage.  And, because it is a 50-weight thread, it is nice and fine and blends beautifully.  I would highly recommend giving it a try!  I like to use a light gray shade if there are a lot of lighter colored shirts in the quilt, and a darker shade of gray if there are lots of darker colors.  It's always helpful to audition the thread across as many colors in the quilt as possible.  You want to go with a thread that looks good on the lightest and darkest shirts; I usually go lighter vs darker because I don't like the look of a dark thread on a light fabric.

always, always, always hand stitch the binding on my quilts, but when it comes to customer quilts, I try to keep my time to a minimum in order to keep their cost as low as possible, so I usually machine stitch the binding down.  T-shirt quilts are probably the only quilt that I think a machine-stitched binding looks appropriate.  (Keep in mind that's just my personal opinion!)

Wanna know the secret to a perfectly-stitched machine binding?  Glue basting - it works like a charm!

Since I always hand stitch the binding down on my quilts, I cut my bindings 2-1/4".  But, if I am machine stitching the binding, I like to cut it at 2-1/2" to give me a little extra allowance to glue the binding down and have it cover the stitching line.  I simply machine stitch the binding to the front, wrap it to the back, glue baste it with Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It making sure the edge of the binding covers the machine stitching line, and heat set it with a dry iron.

Then, I topstitch from the front, and the back turns out perfect - every time!  If you are careful with your glue basting, your stitching lines will be perfection.

I often encourage customers to include a label to document the quilt.
If I'm stitching a quilt for myself or for a gift, a hand-written label is a nice touch.
But if it's for a customer, I usually type up the label, then run it through my ink jet printer and print it onto Kona cotton.  You simply need to iron some freezer paper onto a piece of fabric and trim it to an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet so that it will feed through your printer.  Then, peel off the freezer paper and heat set it with a dry iron.

That's it for my T-shirt quilt tips and tricks!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Cross Stitch Project Bag

Here's a basic how-to for this simple project bag, perfect for counted cross stitch!
Finished size:  13" high x 14" wide

I couldn't resist stitching one out of this cute camper fabric in preparation for stitching Lori Holt's Happy Camper counted cross stitch pattern!

  I decided to use ByAnnie's Soft and Stable foam stabilizer to give it a bit more structure,
and I wanted to round my corners to reduce wear.  I changed out the dimensions a bit so that it would be the perfect size for an 8-1/2" x 11" counted cross stitch chart, as well as supplies for a project.

Supplies needed:
  • Fabric:
    • fat quarter - one for front (visible through vinyl)
    • fat quarter - one for back, contrasting bands on front, and zipper pull
    • 1/2 yard for binding
  • Shape Flex 101 fusible interfacing: 3-1/2" x 15"
  • ByAnnie's Soft & Stable: 14-1/2" by 15-1/2" 
  • Zipper: nylon zipper 16" or longer
  • Thread in neutral shade to match fabric (I used Aurifil, but So Fine would be a good choice as well.)
  • 1/4" Wash Away Wonder Tape (for basting zipper)
  • Clover Wonder Clips
  • 1/2" Bias Tape Maker
  • Fray Check

Cut fabric:
  • Front (visible through vinyl): 14-1/2" high x 15-1/2" wide
  • Backing fabric:
    • back: 14-1/2" high x 15-1/2" wide
    • top band -  3-1/2" high x 15" wide
    • binding for top of vinyl: 2-1/2" x 15" 
    • zipper pull:  1" x 10"
  • Bias binding: cut 2 strips 2-1/4" wide x width of fabric, cut on bias
  • Vinyl: 11 x 14-1/2"
Machine quilt:
  • Sandwich the backing fabric, Soft & Stable, and front fabric; pin to hold layers.
  • Machine quilt as desired.  (I used a walking foot and stitched a cross-hatch design 1-1/4" apart; then I went back and stitched another line of stitches1/4" to the right of each line of stitching.)
  • Trim quilted piece to 13" high x 14" wide.
Prepare top band:
  • Fuse interfacing to the back of the 3-1/2" x 15" backing fabric following manufacturer's instructions; fold in half lengthwise and press to create band for top of zipper.
Prepare vinyl:
  • Pin 2-1/2 x 15" strip of quilting cotton in half lengthwise to create binding for top of vinyl.
  • Clip binding to top of vinyl using Wonder Clips.  Stitch to vinyl using a 3/8" seam.  (You may need to use a teflon foot if you find the vinyl sticks.)
  • Wrap binding to back of vinyl and top stitch close to binding fold.
Install zipper:
  • Using Wonder Tape, adhere fold of top band to zipper along stitching line, centering band lengthwise.  Top stitch band to zipper close to fold using a zipper foot.  (If using a handbag zipper, you can use a 1/4" patchwork foot in place of zipper foot.)
  • Do the same thing with the vinyl section.
  • Layer zippered vinyl front section over quilted sandwich; trim zipper vinyl section as needed.  ***Be sure to slide zipper tab in before trimming!
  • Clip layers together and stitch 1/8" from edge.
  • Round corners using a 2-1/2" round object; stitch again 1/8" from edge.
  • Bind edges with bias binding.
  • Stitch zipper pull using 1/2" bias tape maker.  Slide through zipper tab and stitch to secure.  Cut ends on diagonal and apply a bit of Fray Check to prevent fraying.

    I want to play around with some other sizes, but this is a good start for now.  
    The current counted cross stitch craze has totally sucked me in, so I'm sure I'll be stitching some more bags for additional projects!

    Saturday, April 27, 2019

    Zipper Tab Tutorial

    This is my technique for neatly covering zipper ends with zipper tabs for zip pouches!  

    I use this same technique for pillows too, especially if the pillow doesn't have binding or has more of a modern esthetic to it.  There are tons of tutorials already out there, but everyone's measurements and techniques are slightly different, so I decided it was time to document my own method, both for you and for me!

    First of all, I always start with a zipper long enough that both metal stops extend beyond the body of the pouch.  It's so much easier!  This way you don't have to worry about accidentally hitting one of the metal stops with your machine needle, potentially breaking the needle or messing up the timing on your machine.  In fact, I keep a supply of 14" zippers on hand from an Etsy shop called Zipit (one in every color they carry!) so that I always have a zipper to choose from.  Occasionally I need a longer zipper, especially for pillows, but 14" is almost always long enough when it comes to zip pouches. Then, from time to time I simply order replacement zippers for the zippers I used up from my supply.

    OK, here's how to go about it!
    Slice off the metal bottom stop with a rotary cutter.  (I have a rotary cutter designated for paper and zipper cutting.)

    Now trim down the other end of the zipper so that the length of the zipper tape is 3/4" shorter than the length of the unfinished pouch piece.

    But, be sure to slide the zipper tab in before slicing so that it doesn't get cut off!

    This is what your trimmed down zipper should look like.

    To make the fabric-covered zipper tabs, cut a strip of fabric 1-1/2" x 4".
    Press in half lengthwise.

    Open fabric strip up, fold lengthwise edges into the center, and press again.

    Fold and press one more time.

    Cut pressed strip in half, yielding two tabs.

    Slip zipper into the tab, making sure the end of the zipper is the whole way in and butted up against the folded edge.  Pin.

    Repeat on other end of zipper.

    Carefully topstitch through all layers.  Don't stitch too close to the edge of the fabric fold, or you will run the risk of not catching the under layers of the tab.

    The extra length of the fabric makes it easier to stitch a tidy seam, especially those first few stitches.

    Trim off excess fabric even with the edges of the zipper tape.

    If you were careful about slipping your zipper the whole way into the tab, your covered zipper should still be 1/4 - 3/8" shorter than your unfinished pouch piece on both ends.

    Now you can insert your zipper!  

    You will need to use a zipper foot to install the zipper into the pouch.
    If you are using a Bernina zipper foot, simply move your needle the whole way over and line the edge of the foot up against the edge of the zipper tape and stitch.
    You can hand baste your zipper if you like, but careful pinning is usually sufficient.

    Then, I overcast the raw edge, along with the zipper, with a zig zag stitch.  It makes for a nice finish when you peek into the pouch.

    And last, 
     topstitch along the zipper from the outside.

    To finish the pouch, open up the zipper (important - or you won't be able to turn your pouch right side out!), pin right sides together, stitch sides and bottom with a 1/4" seam, and overcast the edges with a zig zag stitch.  Then, turn pouch right side out and you're finished!

    And that's it!
    Don't forget to add a tag, of course!