Sunday, October 26, 2014

Frustrating Sewing Day

Today was supposed to be a super accomplished sewing day, but instead it ended up being one of those days where nothing got accomplished. Don't lie, I know you have those too!

I had decided to sit down and knock out this bear bargello quilt.

It was fun to make, but the honeymoon has worn off and I am off% ready to be done with it.

One reason I'm done with this quilt is that at some point, something went massively awry with the fusible web. I was using heat 'n bond, which I know is on the lower end of fusibles but I have used it many times before without incident. At some point, I have no idea when, why, or how, the fusible somehow stained the fabric. It's not too noticeable in my salmon because they are meant to look scaly. But its really obvious on this bear in particular because I only put a strip of fusible down to try to keep him soft.

See the shadow on his forehead? That's the fusible web. You can see it has imprinted some kind of grid pattern too. (sorry for the lint, ignore that!) Also all of the fused pieces are crazy stiff. I know heat n bond can be stiff, but this is a whole new level of stiffness. I am thinking that maybe all of this is related to it being expired fusible? I don't know if it actually is, but it certainly could be two years old at this point.

So anyways, ready to get this quilt the heck out of here!

Joann's had a big sale all week, so I went over there and purchased some crazy soft and comfy "ultra cuddle" fleece. My boyfriend has a ratty old blanket made of this material and he takes it everywhere he loves it so much. I will admit it is super soft stuff. But I've never sewn with it before so today was an adventure in getting to know this fabric!

First when I sewed the two chunks of the backing together, I didn't realize that the grains were going in the opposite direction for the two pieces. It is a velvety material so grain really matters. Then when attempted to resew it correctly, my thread would NOT stop breaking. I tried everything! I changed the needle, wound a new bobbin, rethreaded the machine, changed the foot, and finally took apart the machine and cleaned and oiled it. I'm not sure what worked but finally something seemed to click and the breakages ceased. (phew!)

So onto my porch for a little spray basting:

The advantage and disadvantage of this cuddle stuff is that it is really clingy. So it was easy to pull it nice and smooth for the basting but it also wrinkles really easily. We'll see how well it keeps its position during quilting.

Speaking of quilting, that was the next thing I tried. And then promptly stopped. Because every single stitch was bringing up pilled backing fluff.

So if you have any tips on that, let me know. For now I guess I am setting it aside and returned to plugging away at my skill builder BOM. I am still a number of blocks behind, but this week made progress on the book shelf block:

I have started to just do my own thing on this quilt. This block was supposed to be made with a glueing technique that I despised, so I just pieced it following a tutorial here. I guess I am more set in my ways than I thought because I have not wanted to use a lot of the new skills that are being taught in this skill builder!

Okay one last thing I accomplished this week, to end on a high note.

I have taken up jogging, even though I hate it, because it's good exercise and a great time to chat with my boyfriend and a great way to get to know our neighborhood. Just this week we found out that the high school less than a block away from us is actually a combined middle and high school! We learned this by jogging over there and jogging around their track for a bit.

Anyways, my little ipod has no clip and my shorts have no pocket. So in anticipation of a 5k race on Saturday, I modified my shorts with this little ipod holder.

 It took about two second to make with some scrap fabric, and it working like a charm at holding my ipod during the race. Woohoo!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Project Progress

Well I am pleased to say that my veggie quilt is done and off to it's new home at my parent's house!

And yes, I am making the world's worst face in this photo. The sun was too darn bright.

Here is my dad enjoying the quilt in Alaska. The perfect size for snuggling under in front of the tv!

Before I gave it to him, I ran it through the wash to get all of the glue that I used in the appliques out. I was sure to add three sheets of color catchers, but when I went to move the quilt to the dryer, my boyfriend asked, "Why did you add all of these fabric softeners?" Oops. Luckily all of my fabric had been prewashed so no bleeding occurred. 

I'm a recent convert to washing my quilts before I give them away. I read on a blog someone who was worried about things coming apart or bleeding in quilts she gave away, but she wanted the new owners to know the quilts were washable, but also to let her know if they had a problem in the wash. The best way around this is to wash it yourself! That way any washing disasters can occur BEFORE you give the quilt away. So that's what I've been trying lately.

Well now that my veggie quilt is out of the way, it's been time to tackle some other UFOs. 

My Celtic Solstice is ready to be quilted but stuck in the corner until my stencils arrive. Unfortunately they were mailed to California instead of to my new home in Missouri, and I haven't been able to get the stencil company to respond to my requests to re-mail them to the correct address.

Now last weekend my guild hosted our first big retreat, "Sew Me St. Louis." As usual, I have no photos. But it was a blast.

Here is all my stuff packed to go. I brought waaaaay too much, but I didn't want to run out of things to do. Everyone in the group brought projects they didn't want to work on, but had to. Being stuck in a room with a sewing machine is a great way to finish up those projects that have been dragging on. We were joking about trading projects because nobody liked the one they were working on.

The first thing I tackled was this bargello. It only needed a tiny bit of satin stitching, and now it is DONE! Quilting will come after Celtic Solstice is complete.

Then I worked on a few Christmas projects, managed to sew through my finger (yep), and got down to business with my Skill Builder BOM. I've fallen behind on this project (and I think I haven't even shared all my block finishes on here) but I am bound and determined to get it done by the end of the year. I don't want this project to drag on!

Here are the three blocks I completed over the weekend:

This is supposed to be spools of ribbon, FYI

All three of these were supposed to be completed with some kind of gluing technique, but after I tried it on the rotary cutter I determined that it was absolutely not my cup of tea and I used fusible web on the others.

In fabric news, I am working on my fabric choices for Grand Illusion:

I think I have the pinks down pat, although the color card is a little more salmon/coral than my pinks. I bought a lovely yellow that I think matches perfectly. But I am short on teals and as you can see, my greens are rather dark. I am debating if I want to go with the dark greens or go buy some lighter shades.

I am very excited because my mom will be participating this year with me! Working on a quilt is way more fun when there are others to work with. That's one reason I enjoyed the retreat so much, just being able to sit and chat with others about the problems we were facing on our quilts, to swap ideas and advice, was tons of fun!

Here are my mom's fabrics so far:

So bright and cheery!

Finally, my lovely monthly fabric bundle came in the mail yesterday. GORGEOUS, as always.

Do you do any monthly fabric clubs? I am loving this one, but realistically I haven't used many of the fabrics yet. They are fun and modern but for example they don't work well with a mystery like Grand illusion where the pattern should be subtle and color is most important. So I can't decide whether I should continue this club next year. But I really love receiving these, I look forward to them every month and it is a total delight when they arrive. So...what's your vote on whether I should continue?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bonnie's New Mystery!!!

You guys. YOU GUYS!! Bonnie Hunter has posted the intro to her newest mystery quilt. I had an absolute blast and a half making Celtic Solstice last year and I CAN'T WAIT to do this year's!!!

I love Bonnie's quilts because they always look gorgeous. I know when I do her mystery quilt that I will love the outcome. Plus she always has such amazing technique tips...and all those small pieces really challenge me to get better at precision piecing.

Grand Illusion

Speaking of Bonnie's mystery, right now I am working on finishing Celtic Solstice! My goal was to complete it before her next mystery starts. The first clue doesn't go out until November 28 so I should be good. Here is my sandwich being put together last night.

This time I tried spray basting. We shall see how it works. To be safe I am stitching securing stitches in wash-away thread.  The batting is wool. I have never used wool before but I am quite excited about it. It seems quite soft and fluffy! Also this thing is a true behemoth. The biggest quilt I have ever made, literally. I'm basically in a wrestling match with it at the machine. I'll let you know how it goes!

Here our newest foster kitty, Rosie, models on the quilt. She is a real sweetie, she has been keeping me lots of company in the sewing room. :)