January 17, 2014

Ombre Quilt

I had to make a manly quilt.  My husband was looking a little longingly at the quilts I made my parents for Christmas.  His birthday is in the beginning of January and so I surprised him with a quilt of his own.
It took me a long time to lay out all of the squares and get it to to the point where I felt it looked like an ombre. 

When I quilted it, I sewed straight lines horizontally across the quilt. It was very simple.  I made the stripes different sizes to give it some personality.

I used grey fleece for the back of the quilt.

It was a success.  I love it.   

The best picture I could get with the two of them.

January 5, 2014

Piecing Batting

I set out to begin my next quilting project which is a twin size quilt for my Husband's birthday this next week.  I looked at my stash of batting that I already had and found scraps from previous quilts.  But, I had a pretty big pile of scraps.  I started going through it and realized I had some pretty big pieces of batting.  Crossing my fingers, I measured the pieces and found that I had enough to piece four equal parts together to make a twin size blanket.  Happy day!  This not only helped me use up my scraps, but it saved me from having to purchase more batting.

From my scraps I cut four rectangles a little bigger than 45"x 36".  I then used my rotary cutter and gave the four pieces a straight edge.  Having a straight edge is important because when it is sewn together, there can't be any overlapping of the batting. 

I used stitch number 05
Once I had four equal pieces with straight edges, I used a 3-step zig-zag stitch on my machine to sew the two pieces of batting together (this makes three stitches before it switches directions and then stitches it three times the opposite way).

  I had to hold the batting pretty tight on both sides of the presser foot as it was stitching to keep the batting from gathering.  It was pretty simple and no pins were needed to hold it in place. Once all four pieces were sewn together the size of the batting was 90"x 72".  Perfect for quilting.

I had to roll it up to fit it through my machine.

Close up of the stitches
If you look closely you can see the seams.

January 4, 2014

Nap Time Creation

My Model was a little high maintenance today.  I got the dress on her, but brushing her hair was out of the question.  I think she is still lovely.

This dress has scalloped lace around the neck and sleeves, pleats, and an adorable bow in the back. I love this fabric.  So dainty, yet classic.

Taking in Elastic Pants

My sweet little three-year-old Princess is tiny.  It is hard to find pants that fit her.  When normal three-year-old are girls are breaking out the 3T clothes, my baby is constantly holding up her 2T pants just to keep them from falling to her ankles.  Problem is, if we buy a size smaller than 2T the pants wont be long enough for her.  Therefore, Mama has another reason to use her sewing machine.

This is a short tutorial on how to tighten the elastic on the inside waistband.  Even if you don't have this issue in your home, I have found it is good to take something apart and put it back together just to be able to understand how it was sewn together in the first place.  Not to mention, this is is one step closer to being able to take in, or let out pants - which is a big money saver.

First, take a seam ripper to those stitches where the tag has been sewn to the pants.


 Pull that elastic out of the hole that you made.  You can see the teal thread where the elastic was sewn together. 

 Use that trusty seam ripper and undo the stitches holding that elastic together.

Pull the elastic so that it is overlapping quite a bit.  I overlapped the elastic a good inch and a half or more.   (This will vary depending on how much you need taken in.)  Hold the elastic away from the rest of the pants and sew it together on your machine.  Take care not to sew the elastic to the pants.  The only thing you want to sew in this step is the elastic.  I didn't feel the need to use pins to hold it together because my presser foot held the elastic in place once I dropped the foot down.

Tuck the elastic back inside the waistband tube. 

This is a good picture showing how much I overlapped the elastic.
 Change your thread to a coordinating color.  Flip the pants inside out and sew the pants back together as close to the original seam as possible.  This should be easy because you have the stitches on either side of your hole to guide you. 

I had to stretch the elastic to sew the hole back together again.

 My seam wasn't perfect, but from the outside, you can't even tell.  I consider that a success.

Taking in these elastic pants took me less than 5 minutes. 

December 13, 2013

Christmas Quilting

I made this quilt for my Mother.  I wanted it to be beautiful, without being old fashioned.  I am so happy with the result that it is difficult for me to give it away and not keep it for myself. 

I needed the pattern to be pretty simple because I made the decision to make quilts a little bit last minute.  Squares are definitely the least complicated shape to quilt.  I alternated big squares with four small squares that equaled the same dimensions as the big squares.

I wanted the big squares to be 8" square. Plus a seam allowance of 1/4" on each side, I cut my big squares 8.5" x 8.5".

The small squares were a little bit tricky because I had to add a double seam allowance.  Once for when the small squares were being sewn together, and another for when they were sewn to the big squares.   I needed my small squares to be 8.5 x 8.5 once four of them were sewn together.

My small squares were 4.75" x 4.75".  Once sewn together each square was 4.25 and equaled 8.5" as a whole.

After cutting the fabric, I separated all of the colors into piles and randomly pieced the small squares together.  Making sure that there weren't two red, or two blue sewn together. Once all of my squares were the same size (8.5 x 8.5) I laid out all of the squares on the floor and tried to make it so no two same fabrics were being sewn together.  Since this was laid out in my living room all day, I had to pretend with my three year old that this blanket was hot lava so she wouldn't step on it and ruin my perfectly placed squares.  It only kind of worked. 

I did one solid piece of this fabric as my back.
My quilting skills are still pretty basic, and so for now, I like to have one solid fabric for one side, and the actual piecing of fabrics for the other side.  I think this is pretty standard, but I have seen some beautiful quilts that are two sided.  But for this quilt I used a solid piece of fabric.  The quilt was wider than the width of one yard, so I had to cut two pieces of fabric and seam it down the middle.  This was not difficult. 

Once both sides were complete, I started the quilting process.  I decided to be brave and free motion quilt this by hand.  It went better than I expected, but also taught me that I still have a long way to go before I will call my skill level "good". 

I flipped the back and taped it taut to the ground.  (Non-carpet flooring works much better - but this is the only space I have big enough in my wee little apartment.)  Then I placed the batting down on top of the back and last I laid the pieced squares on top. 

After smoothing out the top I pinned the three pieces together with safety pins.  This not only keeps the three pieces of your quilt together, but also keeps it pulled tight and helps avoid wrinkles when free motion quilting.   After pinning it together  I began to quilt.  My foot had to be changed to the free motion foot, and the feed dogs had to be dropped.  This allows movement of the quilt in any direction wanted. Making sure the tension is adjusted for free motion quilting is important.   Usually the tension on my machine is somewhere between a five and three, but when i quilt it is about a seven.  Check the tension on a scrap piece of your fabrics AND batting. 

 Free motion quilting this by hand was a little bit difficult and frustrating.  I believe I broke about  seven or eight needles through out this quilting process.  The speed of my stitches and the movement of my quilt aren't quite in sync.  When trying to move the quilt faster than your needle is stitching causes there to be a lot of pressure on the needle and it will bend or break.  I should have taken a picture of some of my bent needles.  A few of them were incredible. 

After i finished quilting (which is really more like doodling), I cut off the extra batting and squared off my quilt. 

Binding a quilt with a machine:

I began first by cutting my fabric into strips of 2.5".  My quilt was 54"x72" so total, I needed 252 inches of fabric strips to cover the perimeter of my quilt.  I always add a little bit more,  just in case. To get one continuous strip of fabric, I had to sew these strips together.  

Lay the fabrics as shown, and sew at a diagonal.

When it is open, it will look like this on the back.

And beautifully sewn together from the front.
 Fold and iron the 200+ inch strip of fabric in half.

Fold and iron the very edge of your binding strip to eliminate raw edges.

Begin sewing the binding onto the quilt in the middle of one side (NOT at the edge of the quilt), and a few inches from the end of the strip (NOT at the edge of the binding).  Once the binding strip has been sewn all the way around the quilt, the other end will be stuffed inside of the beginning end and finished being sewn.  This make the connecting ends almost invisible.

To make the corners beautiful, sew to the edge of the quilt and stop 1/4" before reaching the corner.

 Fold the binding strip diagonal and then fold it over on top of itself. Then sew that in place.

This is what it will look like once it has been sewn in place.

After the binding strip has been sewn all the way around the perimeter of your quilt, fold it around the raw edge of the quilt and using 1/4" seam allowance sew this binding in place.  My quilting skills are not yet advanced enough to do the binding by hand.  This way is faster and easier.  One day soon I will be trying and documenting my attempt. 


My Mother's Christmas Quilt