Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, decisions. What to do and how to do it?

I have been doing some rearranging in my sewing room. I just couldn't "see" the fabric that I have because it is all in tubs and plastic drawers. I have decided to take some of it out and put on shelves so I can see it. I am trying to come up with a way to organize the bits and pieces so I can use them in a quilt.

I have been searching pinterest and the internet sites and really just haven't come up with a really good solution to my problem. I have a 5 ft tall metal shelving unit that is full of books that I really don't need any more. I am thinking of putting them on etsy or ebay. What do you guys think?

I read where a lady bought the cardboard for comics to wrap her fabric around. Since I am trying to be very frugal and use what I have or not spend much money, I went to the USPS and picked up a few of their large priority boxes. Once cut where all the folds are they are the perfect size for wrapping up my yardage fabrics with no waste of the box. I guess if you want you could go through the dumpsters or ask at the stores when they are emptying boxes. I found it was to cumbersome and difficult the get the sizes I wanted. Plus I spent a lot of time cutting and not doing what I wanted to do,  organize.

A couple of years ago I went through a bunch of my patterns that no longer came close to fitting me. Some of them were 70's style and vintage 50's that I had aquired. I met this young lady that liked vintage style clothes so I gave her all those patterns. I did keep about 3 or 4 that were Vogue and designers. I have all the patterns I left organized in almost perfect fit plastic stackable drawers. It makes it very convenient to find a pattern. The only problem here is I can't get to them because of the tubs of fabric that I have collected over the years are in front of them. Some of the fabric is clothing that I wanted to make something out of long ago and don't remember what now. What should I do with it? Keep it, donate it? I'm sure most of you know how hard it is to let go of your stash. I also have some vintage fabric (pieces) I got from a friend and I'm not sure what I want to do with them either.

I welcome your help and ideas, any suggestions or tips ya'll would like to leave would be a great help.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Still Ripping!

Oh my GOSH! I am still ripping. I got the quilt sewn back together and what I felt was squared up to the best of my ability. I worked very hard to make sure that all the layers were nice and flat, no wrinkles. Then pin pin pin. Marked the center quilting area in a diagonal pattern with a yard stick, ruler and chalk. Quilting that went really well and fairly easy. Surprise!

Ugh, then I started on sewing around the borders. I "thought " I had done a pretty good job until I started doing the FM stars and loops on the larger outer boarder. My border started to lump. Take it out of the machine and look at the back. I couldn't believe what I saw. Wrinkles and lumps everywhere from sewing around the borders. So I ripped and ripped. Put it back on the board and stretched it as best as I could. This time I used spray glue. I love this stuff. I used it on Tyler's quilt with no pins whatsoever. I had minimum wrinkles to adjust while quilting it.

Using the spray glue for basting worked. I got around the borders with minimum wrinkling underneath. So I am now ready to get back to FM on the large border. So...what do you think?  I space out the stars with a ruler, then freehand them with chalk.  Do the swirls and loops up  to the star and very carefully do the star, come back the beginning and work my loops over to the other side of the star and on to the next star. I actually think it worked out pretty good, so far.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Alphabet Walk

2012 Handmade Christmas
I thought this was a cute game my DIL and granddaughter made up for the fabric alphabet letters I had made for Christmas. I hope these will help her learn her letters easily. I read something the other day about the children knowing the large alphabet when they got to preschool but not knowing the small ones. So, I think I need to get started now with the small letters for next year so she will be ahead of the game.

 These are made with fabric, fleece, sewn around the edges and can be thrown in the washer when dirty. I found similar sets on Etsy costing mega bucks $30-$50. Making them is somewhat time consuming. So I can really understand why they cost so much.

I was waiting to publish this until I had a little more to write about. But, my brain isn't thinking clearly lately. So, on with the blog.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rip, Rip, Sew, Rip

Rip, Rip, Sew, Rip. That's what I've been doing for days now. After deciding to remove the outside border of the "Buckaroo Stars" quilt and measuring it, I found that I needed to remove all the borders surrounding the main part of the quilt. I measured everything that I could possibly be measure so when I got ready to start adding the borders back on it would all match and be even.
Rhea's quilt in pieces. If she saw this she would probably call me nuts.
I did remember when I had originally made this quilt I had made it unusually long for a queen size quilt. I took off two rows of blocks. In doing so I ended up removing two of the stars. I had to remove two squares in different places to put the two stars back in the quilt.  My original goal when starting this quilt was to have fifty stars representing all 50 states in the quilt which meant I had to add about 30 more stars to the original pattern. While the quilt is in pieces, I noticed that I had accidentally put some of the same squares right next to each other. Something I hadn't notice before. I have taken the time to remove those pieces and replace them with other squares. It is slowly coming back together and looking like a quilt should.

While visiting another quilter's website http://lalaslovelys.blogspot.ca/  I saw the back of Lala's Lovely quilt back. It looked so neat and pretty I thought at first it was the front of the quilt.  I looked at mine and decided that I had better do some trimming of some threads and press it.  OK a lot of the threads. Not as good as hers but it does look better than it did.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tools of the Trade- Starch

I have decided to write a couple of posts about the tools we as sewers use most often and those that make our sewing lives much easier. Today we have more tools and gadgets to use during sewing than those of our parents or even when some us began in the 60's.

Starch. Do you use starch during your sewing or quilting? I have only just started using starch since I have started quilting. I rarely if ever used it while making clothing or other projects like stuffed animals or dolls. I am not a starch person. It's just one more step I like to avoid so I can keep on sewing.

I am most familiar with canned spray starch. My mother bought Faultless, Niagara, EasyOn what ever was on sale. I grew up using spray starch on clothing after they were washed and dried before permanent press and everyone had a dryer in their home. I even remember ironing my dad's undershirts for work, but I digress. I have found that with canned spray starch it leaves a glossy residue on my cotton fabric and eventually gums up the iron. It doesn't seem to matter as to which brand you use they all seem to gum up the nozzle so it doesn't always spray in a nice even spray but instead squirts out a big mess or foams up all over the can even if the nozzle has been cleaned with hot water. The cost varies from .97 to $1.50 per 20oz can depending on where you by it. While writing this I have also found out Niagara has a non aerosol bottle brand. Might look into it sometime. Next in line is powder starch.

I remembered my grandmother using starch from a bottle. You know the type it's in the coke bottle with an aluminum shaker and cork stopper. It sits in the frig until ready to use. After sprinkling the clothes, she would wrap up the clothes and put them in a plastic bag in the frig to be ironed at a later date. I believe she mixed the starch herself. I found out from a past pick up and delivery job I had several years ago that dry cleaners use 25 lb bags of powdered starch. I have no clue as to how it was mixed and used. I searched the local grocery stores and found Argo Starch a powdered starch that you could mix either by cooking it or mixing it with hot water. I tried the cooked method first figuring the starch would dissolve better in boiling water. I ended up with a rather thick paste that I diluted down and put in a spray bottle and the rest in the frig. It can be diluted to not be so heavy a starch.  I found that it spoils quicker than I was using it as I never returned the bottle to the frig after using it. I tried the hot water method and found that I had to shake it up really really well before using. This method still left shiny spots on my fabric. When looking at the box closer it actually says it's "glossy". I believe this is also the starch she used on her crochet to make the really pretty hats and baskets that sat on the dressers or tables. The cost of this box is about $1.80.

I found Mary Ellen's Best Press non-aerosol spray starch @ 7.95 for a 16 oz bottle. She has several scents to chose from. I chose the unscented brand as everything these days has some kind of fragrance added to it. Sometimes all those smells can be nose numbing and give those of us that are scent sensitive headaches. I like her starch. In fact I have bought it twice. I like it, but geesh it is expensive if you use it liberally and I like to use it liberally. The shiny spots are also minimal and my 15 y/o Rowenta didn't get gummed up as much. I did find that the fabric just wasn't has stiff as I would have liked it to be.

Last on the list of starches and my favorite I have used thus far is Sta-Flo liquid concentrate at $2.92 for a 64 oz bottle. I found this very easy to mix and pour into a non-aerosol bottle. If I want a really stiff piece of fabric I can add just a little more to the bottle. So far the only real problem I have found is the spray bottle I use does not have as fine a spray as I would like. So I end up having areas with no spray on it. Once I have sprayed the spots I missed I let it sit for about two or three minutes. This allows for the starch to soak in to the fabric. I iron my 100% pieces of cotton on high with no steam on the back. That way if I should get some shiny spots or flaking it won't be on the finished side of the fabric. I should mention that since I allow the fabric to sit and soak in the starch I have very little residue left on my fabric or my iron. Which is good because it saves me from having to clean my iron when I am really busy pressing and sewing.

Monday, January 28, 2013

ARRRRGH! The Perils of a Beginner Quilter

No, I'm not pretending to be a pirate, even though Gasparilla was held in Tampa this past weekend and the pirates invaded the city.  My arrrrgh! is because I have to do some ripping. No, a lot of ripping. I layered and pinned my daughter's quilt top this past weekend. I kept coming up with one side that just wouldn't lay properly. So...I ripped out the side and sewed it back up again. I thought maybe it was out of whack because I had stitched the length of grain of the border on the bottom and the stretchier squares on top so it made the side shorter. Nope...that didn't work.

I decided to measure both sides of the top. It is almost 1.5 in longer on one side than it is on the other. Then I started counting squares to make sure I had the same amount on both sides... why wouldn't I?  Duh... but, these squares are on the outside of the first border that goes around the quilt. Apparently since this was my first quilt I have made I added 1/2 a block to one side to make it "even". Yeah, I did. Who would do such a thing without measuring first? I guess me.

This quilt was from a book that I had bought. The original pattern called for it to be square. My daughter wanted it to fit her queen size bed in her spare room. So I decided to tackle my very first quilt. My mistake was in thinking that making a quilt was the same process as making a dress or pants. You can fudge on a sewing pattern, add piece here, if it's to short, take some away if it's to long. Not so with quilting. You really do have to use quarter inch seams. You can't fudge on them and take a little here or leave a little there. It screws with the consistency of the quilt pattern. Apparently so much that I added half a square to make the seams meet. HA.

Good thing I didn't send this off to be quilted by a professional. First off I think she would have sent it back because it was full of threads. Nope, I didn't trim off all or any of the threads. What was I thinking? I guess I wasn't. Boy would she have gone nuts trying to get the quilt to lie straight for the long arm. She would have definitely  sent it back then. I am hoping it won't take me more than a week to get it straightened out so I can get started on getting it quilted. I know my daughter is anxiously awaiting it's return so she can finish decorating her spare room.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My First Block Swap

Back in December I joined my first ever block swap. Not long ago I signed up for Strip piecing blah blah... You give it the measurement you want and the length of the fabric and it tells you how much to buy and how many strips to cut. Easy peasy, right? Wrong. There are no instructions that tell you what order to sew the squares and triangles. This was to be my first time making something with triangles. As you have seen my past three quilts are all squares or rectangles.

I had this really pretty blue fabric that I have had for several years. It was supposed to be the lining of a blue velveteen vest, but I changed my mind. Anyway back to my squares. I picked out what I thought might look like a snowflake.
As you can see the concept was a pretty good idea. My problem was I had no clue how to put this together and keep it square. The first time I sewed the four large triangles together to make a square. The I sewed the the white triangles to the blue square only to realize there was no way I was going to get it put together in the order I was sewing it. Needless to say I gave up on the above square. After playing around with the triangles a day or so I came up with the square below. But, as you can see in the top square things just don't match up like I would like them to.

I eventually settled on the block below. It's not the Friendship Block that I started with and it doesn't look like a snowflake, but I think I did a fair job of getting my points to be points and the square to be square. It is about 10 in.that should give everyone some leeway at cutting the square to 9 1/2 in.

I am getting excited to see what everyone else has made. I am thinking this will make a nice winter snuggle quilt to use during the winter months. Only in Florida do we rarely have anything below 40F.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Ideas

Good evening, it's been over a month since I last blogged. Sometimes life intervenes and other things are more important. Given that, here goes...

I think I might have mentioned that my daughter gave me back her quilt top that I had made last year so I could quilt it. After quilting my grandson's quilt, I felt more confidant that I would be able to machine quilt her top.

I have this really huge ironing board that I made several years ago, so I placed some light weight luan paneling on it to clip the quilt so I could pin it together. To get a better idea here are a couple of pictures of how I used my large ironing board to layer and pin my quilt.
 Doing it this way I don't have to crawl around on the floor and tape my quilt so I can pin it. It also saves my back.Tyler's quilt was a little smaller and I just laid it across the bed and spray basted. While sewing the basting spray gummed the needle a little bit but it didn't take much to clean it off and keep sewing.
How the board is attached to the ironing

This is what the ironing board looks like when I was ironing the back of the quilt. As you can tell I am really tight quarters. I eventually plan to remove the computer
desk to someplace else in the house and having more room.

This is the luan that I got from the Lowe's. It's really thin. That way the clips will fit the quilt layers and the board. Also another reason for the luan is the wood layer adds the firmness that one would get if the quilt were taped to the floor. I read that one lady taped her quilt to the wall. The wood on the ironing board is 3/8 in thick plus the layers of padding added for ironing. I would have had some difficulty in pinning the quilt. I would probably pinned the quilt to the ironing board.

I think I should have bought it as one big piece and had it cut to fit. I would like for it to have been about 5 or 6 inches deeper so it would have hung over all four sides and I wouldn't have had to keep sliding it back. It is the same width 24in as the ironing board itself. The ironing board is 60 in long. Much longer than that and it would be more difficult to handle than it is. When it's not being used with the cutting mat ,ironing or used as a cutting table it folds up neatly and stores in the closet. Out of the way. C-clamps hold the main frame to the ironing board. I have a very small bedroom which is used as a craft, sewing and bedroom.  I have another iron and ironing board in the bedroom that I use for regular laundry.

I have heard that necessity is the mother of invention. Maybe this is true. I bought two packages of the medium size basting pins. I'm glad I bought that size because I ran out and had to use the small ones I had that I had bought many years ago. Gosh! those things hurt your fingers while pinning them, which means they will hurt too when taking them out. Any way.... I ran out of basting pins altogether. Now what am I suppose to do?
Pinmoor 50 pk for 21.99
 I found these awhile back on the internet a while back and thought that this is a really cool idea. I have searched the hardware and craft stores to come up with something similar to use with the pins I have and not cost a small fortune. I've even thought of buying cheap toy erasers at the dollar store and trying them. I like cool tools to use in sewing and crafting especially those that you can create yourself and not cost a fortune.  I'd rather spend my money on fabric and other fun stuff, like patterns, books,etc... You get the idea.

After seeing the Pinmoor pins I came up with my own idea at the spur of the moment so I could finish pinning my quilt.

 No it's not food. It's corks from wine bottles. What do you use your leftover corks for?
Make sure you have a very sharp knife, be careful. Start the slice then roll it to finish the cut.
Then all that's left is to cut into quarters. I throw away the one that split because of
the corkscrew hole.
Do you drink wine and throw the corks in the draw? I do, I don't why, I just do. Not long ago I through away about 30 corks about 5 or 6 years worth of corks. Nope I don't drink wine every night. Although there are times I think I should.
Ha ha. :)
Since I remembered having seen the pinmoor pins I had this really cool idea to slice up some of the corks, quarter them and use them on my pins. WhaLa! It worked just perfect and didn't cost me anything but time. OH, have I mentioned  I like purple?  I got the purple clippies at Staples and I have several of their tiny purple storage boxes to keep the clippies in. I even have some purple binder.
Two bags of the clippies were plenty to clip the fabric to the boards.

I always have a hard time starting and ending my blogs. I am not an elegant writer like most of the blogs I read.