Sunday, October 27, 2013

Christmas Projects

I have spent this week working away on Christmas projects. I can't show you any, but they are really cool and I am very happy with the outcome.

Here are some of the supplies for one of them:

Aren't the colors pretty? You might recognize the labels as coming from Joann's.  They had a great sale all week  - $1 fat quarters. I bought a bunch, I couldn't help it.  Their fabric is definitely low quality and I would never use it in a quilt, but for sewing and craft projects it seems to work fine.

HOWEVER, Joann's has the horrible habit of putting those "fabric quarters" stickers directly onto the fabric! (WHYYYYYY?) So, I have a bunch of fat quarters with sticker residue on them because the stickers never come off cleanly.  Anyone have suggestions for how to get the sticker remnants off of my fabric?

In other news, I recovered my ironing board!

This fabric is linen and is from the line "field study." I have admired it for some time but never bought any because I didn't know what the heck to do with linen. Then another blog I follow (I have forgotten who) made an ironing board cover from this fabric, and I was inspired to do the same.  

There are a lot of tutorials online for how to make one of these, and this was incredibly easy! I bought a bath towel, trimmed it to match the top of the board, and put it under the fabric as batting. Then I sewed a tube made from old binding strips around the edge of the fabric (also loosely trimmed to the shape of the board), put some yarn in it, and drew it tight like a drawstring. DONE!

I have to admit, having fabric this bright is a teeny bit distracting when I am ironing, but it's so pretty I am sure I will get used to it.  Plus I left the old cover on underneath so if I want to go back to bland beige I can just pop this cover off.

As a side note, I recently became unemployed. It sucks, but I am sure glad I have a hobby. I don't know what everyone else who is unemployed does all day. You can only look at job boards for so long. Having sewing projects to work gives me goals to accomplish each day and makes me feel productive. I try to switch between a bit of job searching and a bit of sewing throughout the day. All this extra sewing time is enabling me to get a lot more done than I otherwise would have (I wasn't even going to sew Christmas presents this year because I didn't feel I had time or inspiration...) Once these presents are done, I am hoping to tackle a bunch of UFOs and get them off of my plate so I can have a clean, fresh sewing start to 2014.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Time With Friends

Last week I spent visiting an old friend that I have known since elementary school.

Here we are as kids:

And here we are last week!

Things haven't changed a bit!

On the last day I was visiting her, she casually whipped out a seriously antique sewing machine and asked if I could make it run. (Answer: "Um heck yes!") She says it belonged to her great grandmother. It definitely seems old but uses electricity so also can't be too old.  I'm thinking 40's? 30's?

Anyways, we got it up and running pretty quickly. Instead of foot pedal it has a knee pedal. The only tricky thing I was unable to figure out is how to stitch backwards.  The instruction manual doesn't mention anything about it, and when I tried to manually twist the wheel backwards it cause a huge thread tangle. So I'm thinking it just doesn't stitch backwards at all.
Getting some help as I work out the kinks. He was very excited to be in charge of the knee pedal.

Reading the instruction manual and threading the bobbin

Here is the million dollar question: my friend doesn't know how to sew, but I want her to use the machine and not just put it back on a shelf, especially since I got it running and all threaded up for her.  Is there an incredibly simple and easy sewing project that involves only straight lines I can recommend she do? She wants to make a t-shirt quilt but I'm thinking something even smaller than a quilt.  Maybe I will suggest a pillowcase, those are super simple.  I just hope this machine gets used now that it works!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Layer Cake Bargello

I thought I would take a break from hand applique and work a little on reducing my number of UFOs. The first one I pulled out was my layer cake bargello.

Previously I had stitched 10" strips together in color order, to create large 40" x 10" rainbow strips.

I cut my fabric into strips, organized here by their width.

I don't have a design wall so I draped them in order on the back of my couch. Of course, kitty had to help.

See her in the back corner of this photo?

Here is the whole thing stitched together. I took a page from Leah Day and stuck it up on the wall for a while so I can ponder how to finish it.

I really like quilts that take a standard pattern and add some interesting applique to the front. Here are some examples.
Seen at Quilting in the Garden 2012

Seen at Quilting by the Bay 2012

Seen at the Sisters Quilt Show 2013

Seen at the Sisters Quilt Show 2013

Seen at Sisters Quilt Show 2013

I want mine to look like these, somehow.  I need to figure out what shapes I even want to applique on top, and what color. Plus, since this was a layer cake, I am out of fabric, so I need to purchase more (once I get a plan!)

Next project: Whipping up Christmas gifts! Yep, it's that time of year...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hand Applique Time!

After my disaster trying to turn edges on the carrots, I set them aside and worked on a much easier shape: the onion.

All the pieces have had their edges turned and pressed and are ready to be stitched down! I am still learning this new fancy camera and somehow keep getting a lot of blurry photos...

For the sake of color I decided to make this a nice red onion. It has a lot of gentle curves and was much easier to create. For the heck of it, I decided to sit down and try to hand stitch it down, following carefully the steps in Simply Successful Applique. It came out pretty well!

Above are shots of my first piece all pinned down and all stitched down.

First piece stitched down.  You can see the stitches, but only barely.

Second piece joins the first. I had some rippling issues, due to not properly pin basting things down as I should.

And here is the finished onion! All it needs is some embroidered roots, which I will get to at some point.

I'm pretty proud of this. It's my first real hand applique foray. Part of the reason it looks so great is the thread...Libby Lehman's The Bottom Line from Superior Threads. This is pretty much my favorite thread.  It is 60wt but super strong. I was able to purchase a variety pack so I now have spools of 36 different colors! They are only about 100 yards each, but the color variety is what counts since you don't need very much thread for hand applique.

After I finished this onion, I have continued to work on other veggies.  I'll be honest: turning all those edges so painstakingly is not very fun, but the hand stitching really is.

I kind of want to use an embroidery hoop, but it doesn't seem like anyone does for applique. Any opinions?

Now, off to work on my bell pepper block!