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Friday, January 8, 2021

Conquered Curves


This Polarity quilt pattern caught my eye the minute I walked into Mad About Patchwork in the summer of 2019.  I have always shied away from curves, but with my DH's encouragement to give them a try, I purchased the pattern and material - mostly dark blues and neutrals in Kona solids.  I added only one  dark blue print to the mix.

 
I procrastinated in starting this project and then we moved, delaying the start even more.

Once my new sewing area was set up I decided it was time to give the pattern a go.   No longer allowing those darn curves  - which I had tried a few times over the years - to keep me at bay.

The pattern comes with a template which I copied and put on a firm piece of cardboard for the concave and convex pieces.  I did a few sample runs with some fabric from my stash.  I discovered after this first try,  I'd have to be careful to match the seams and followed some helpful suggestions that the designer, Stacey Lee O'Malley, from SloStudio, had written in the pattern.




Feeling more confident,  I started the cutting process -  first strips, then squares, then cutting the pieces with the template.

I always am a bit hesitant when I start cutting the required strips and find that I don't get the same number pieces that the pattern says I should get from that strip. I make it a habit to wash and dry my fabric before using and this causes a small bit of shrinkage in the fabric.  Most cottons are a 44/45" width with the selvage being part of this width.  It would be great if pattern designers took this into account, as I have run into this problem before.

The wonderful thing was,  I was able to contact Stacey, the designer, and she had some suggestions to overcome this issue.  I appreciate it when a designer is available to offer help.

 
While I was cutting the first of my pieces with the template, I saw that there was a lot of waste from each piece.  So I did some rejigging and found a way to get more pieces from the material.

I watched several You Tube videos for best way to sew concave and convex pieces together.  Many opinions are out there on which is the best method - pins, no pins, some pins.  I went with the many pins method and things went well.  I used a scant 1/4" seam allowance.


Once sewn, each square was pressed and trimmed to 10 1/2".




















Once trimmed, the pieces were then placed on the design board (and design floor) 😊


Although the quilt top was finished, I had to wait for a bit before I got it quilted (pandemic and all you know).  The design I chose was Easy Orange Peel and Jen at Happy Wife Quilting did a spectacular job. 



  

I added a label and chose a binding which was one of the quilt top fabrics (navy blue with small white crosses which show intermittently around the quilt).  And voila, my curved quilt was complete.  


 

I'm really happy with the final result and so glad I rose to the challenge and conquered curved piecing.


Sunday, October 18, 2020

TUTORIAL - Christmas Quilt-As-You-Go Placemats with Self Binding

 

I always love a good Christmas project and these festive placemats are fun and easy to make.  The quilt-as-you-go method is appealing and the fact that they can be bound with the backing is ideal for me.

 

First - choose your favorite holiday fabrics.  You'll need  some fusible fleece or regular thin batting.  The fusible fleece isn't too deep and easily adheres to the backing.  Pick a coordinating backing as this will also serve as your binding.  This piece should be at least 14" x 18" .  I always use a backing that is a bit bigger as it gives me 'wiggle room'.  You'll need thread that will show nicely as this will be quilting on the back of your placemats.

You'll also need a cutting mat, cutting ruler, rotary cutter and glue stick.


I like to use a template which I make out of simple printer paper pieced together.  It easily shows how much fabric I require and saves having to measure for every placemat.

I also make a template for the fusible fleece which is 12" x16".
Draw a slanted line on a top corner and the opposite bottom corner of the fusible fleece.  No specific measurements here - just draw and angle as you like.

Then press the batting onto the center of the backing, being sure to leave enough fabric
(at least 1") all around.  This will eventually be the self-binding.  You can easily trim later if you have too much.  Err on the side of caution as it's always better than having too little material.

The next step is to cut your strips of fabric  2 1/2" wide and at least 20" long.  Cut 8 or 9 strips to begin with.  You can cut some narrower strips to add some variation.  I didn't go any less than 1 1/2" wide.
 
Working from the far left side of the batting, place a strip of fabric right side up.  When placing strips be mindful of the edge of the batting and the diagonal line.  Make sure the strip covers the area.



Place a second strip of fabric right side down on the first strip.  You can line up the edges.  Or you can angle that strip and it creates an interesting element for the finished look.
 
TIP:  Every time you start to sew, put the needle down and up once to catch the bobbin thread.   When you finish a seam, bring your bobbin thread to the top and tie it. This makes a neater backing and saves a lot of time sewing in ends. 


 

 Important - Start as accurately as you can at the top of the fleece and end exactly on the diagonal line.  It is a bit tricky to see the line and sometimes I'll estimate or make a crease in the fabric at the line so I'll know where to stop.



Press each seam before placing the next fabric strip. 


Once you've sewn the strips from left to right, it should look like this.

 Trimming the excess fabric along the diagonal lines is next.  Place the placemat right side down on the cutting mat.  Fold back the backing and batting along the diagonal line.  Place the cutting ruler edge slightly to the right of the batting.  Be very careful as you don't want to cut the backing fabric or batting, just the excess strips of  fabric.


 
Once trimmed, the placemat should look like this.

Now you'll use the same method to sew fabric to the diagonal corners.  Line your first strip up with the diagonal line, making sure the strip covers all the ends of the vertical pieces already sewn. If not, move it down slightly.  Sew this strip from edge to edge remembering to pick up your bobbin thread at the beginning and end of the seam. 
Once you've sewn the diagonal corners, it should look like this.
Trim the excess fabric along the sides, top and bottom.  Place the placement right side down on cutting mat.  Fold back the backing and batting along each side.  Place the cutting ruler edge slightly to the right of the batting.  Again - Be very careful as you don't want to cut the backing fabric or batting, just the excess strip fabric.

Now to trim the backing to allow for the self binding.  With placemat right side up, place the 1" mark on the ruler along the edge of the placemat.  Cut the backing.  Do this on all 4 sides. 
 
The self binding is great.  There are lots of tutorials on line, but I like Lorena's Quilting video on YouTube.  She gives step-by-step instructions on how it's done.  All you need is an iron and glue stick.  
 
This method makes nice right angles at the corners.


When the binding was all in place, I did a blanket stitch around the edge to secure it.  Choose whatever stitch you like, an edge stitch works fine too.


Here's the back of my placemat.  You can see it doesn't have any loose threads to hide because I picked up the bobbin thread at the beginning and end of each seam. 

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  If you have any questions or comments leave them below.   Happy sewing!!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Test Knitting for Fun

Over the past several months,  I have offered to test knit patterns for several wonderful designers. 

Test knitting helps knitters with new patterns to spot any errors and offer any suggestions as testers go through the pattern.  Sock test knitting is especially enjoyable as I only am required to knit one sock thereby avoiding second sock syndrome :) 

Usually once patterns are out for test knitting, they have been almost perfected and just require a bit of tweaking.


Melanie (known as woolyhooker on Instagram) designed a beautiful sock pattern -  Cocolace Socks 
These socks have a lovely texture and knit up nicely. 


The story behind the sock pattern
Rosalind Socks created by Sarah Gordon (known as anemoneandvine on Instagram) is very interesting.  The cables are so cute and not difficult to knit.



If you are looking for a quick and practical Christmas gift, I'd recommend Ya Basic Bed Socks by Jacki Badger (the woolly badger on Instagram)  Make with a bulky yarn they are a fast knit - a pair in a day is no problem.

The Row by Row Sampler Socks by Irene of 3 Ply Podcast has such wonderful texture.  Each section has a different pattern which looks delightful.
Scatterby Socks by Amy Stringer is available free on Ravelry.  This pattern is easy to remember and and with slip stitches its perfect for variegated yarn.  I made them in a shortie version.
Hat knitting is fun too.  So when a designer is looking for hat testers I'm usually keen to hop on board.  The  All that Jazz Hat by Carina B.H. It's a cute beanie with a pop of color. 
 


Honeycomb Beanie by Daisy Randell has wonderful texture.  This pattern too is a fairly quick knit.




 

 

 

 

 

 

June of Forest City Knit Girls designed  En Route (hat and mitts).  This pattern uses only one skein of yarn to make both the hat and mittens.  As well, June is donating all sales to 2 of her special charities.




All of the patterns that I test knit were well written and easy to follow. 

I love knitting socks and hats.  They are always a 'go to' project to have on my needles.  And especially during these pandemic times, there is ample opportunity to get some knitting done.

 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Lots of Quilties


Here are some quilties I have made over the years for the local hospital.  Hope the newborns liked them.