Friday, April 17, 2015

made in America

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I was able to finish another quilt this week. It's been so busy 'round here, with spring school activities and everything else, that this finish feels especially good!
This quilt was made from American Made Brand Solids, an assortment of scraps and a little bit of stash. It's very patriotic on will be donated to the Quilts of Valor. I love how it turned out and I hope that the recipient doesn't mind some quilting that is less than perfect. I branched out with the quilting, and while it isn't perfect, I love what it adds to this quilt! I have lots of photos to share and I will just let them speak for themselves.

The quilt measures approximately 60" x 72".

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Monday, April 13, 2015

happy flags

Each summer, some friends and I (from all over the country) meet up at Gruber's for a weekend retreat. We look forward to it with great anticipation all year long! During that weekend, it has become a tradition to exchange "happies", which are nothing more than little gifts to make the recipient happy. Last year, I gave spools of Aurifil thread with a little happy flag in the middle. Someone discovered that the flag fits well on the spool holder of most sewing machines, which was a "happy" accident. (har, har, har!)
I had a request from a reader to share how to make these, which I thought was a good idea for a blog post. Here you go, Jeannie, this is for you!
For supplies, you will need: plastic drinking straws, a happy stamp and ink pad (or you can write it by hand), washi tape, a scissors and some double-sided adhesive.
Cut the straws down to about 5" in length. Cut a piece of washi tape about 4" long and wrap it around the end of the straw, as shown. Line up the edges of the tape as evenly as possible.
Place the sticky sides of the washi tape together and trim uneven ends (if necessary), so there is no sticky surface exposed. Crease the tape close to the straw, so that it is fully sealed.
Stamp (or write) "happy" on a small piece of white paper. Use double-sided adhesive to attach the paper to the washi tape.
Cut out a little triangle from the end of each flag, as shown.
Place a small square of washi tape to the bottom of the spool so the flag won't fall out.
Then, place the flag in a spool of thread. Gift it or keep it for yourself...or do some of each! :)
There you go! One quick little project to brighten someone's day!
Happy, HAPPY Monday to you!

Friday, April 10, 2015

bright birch trees redux complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I'm happy to share a completed quilt with you today! It's been awhile since I finished a big project. Let me tell you, it feels GREAT! This is my second time making this quilt (pattern is here) and I seriously want to make another, but this time with a variety of neutral backgrounds. I don't see that happening anytime soon, but it's fun to dream about! :)
This quilt is the poster child for "every scrap deserves a chance". It's so enjoyable to look at all of the little scraps used. I LOVE this tiny running chicken detail! (I'm so glad it's head didn't get cut off. ha!)
This kitty face is pretty cute, too! My daughter did a lot of happy squealing when I pointed them out to her. So fun!
I had the hardest time deciding on a back for this quilt, but I found this small gray print that tones down the brightness of the front quite nicely. I quilted it with an all over stipple in gray thread and it's bound in a gray solid, too. Hurray for gray! The quilt measures 60" x 75".

This is only my second (non-mini) quilt finish of the year. Can you believe it??? I need to get crackin'!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday! It's nice to have you here! :)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

thank you!!!

Thank you all so much for the enthusiastic and kind response to my fabric line announcement! I can't tell you how grateful I am for your kind words...they mean so much!!!
Yesterday I did a double header trunk show for a quilt guild in Rochester, MN. After I showed my quilts at the afternoon meeting, a kind woman folded and carefully placed my quilts in the pews in front of the church. It was pretty fun to see them all lined up like that! I texted the photo to my husband and commented on how church pews make good quilt holders. His immediate response was, "we aren't buying any." Well, it was worth a shot, anyway, don't you think? Maybe I can keep working on him...the pews would be pretty fun to fill up with throw pillows, too! :)

Hope you are having a terrific Tuesday!

Monday, April 06, 2015

good neighbors fabric

I'm happy to announce that I have designed a fabric line for Connecting Threads! Good neighbors is a collection of colorful and simple prints that will work well (or "get along", if you will) with many other fabrics. This is just a quick peek to let the cat out of the bag, but I'll share more soon! I can't wait to sew with them!!! The collection is scheduled to release this fall.

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 03, 2015

mini spiderweb quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
When making this quilt, I had visions of a larger lap size quilt or a pillow cover, but then I did a reality check. If I put that much time and effort into something that size, no one would be allowed to use it. Ever! So, a mini it is!
I absolutely love how it turned out! The measurements are here, if you'd like to make one of your own. It's a great way to use up some teeny tiny scraps! The quilt measures about 13 1/2" x 16 1/2".
Speaking of teeny tiny scraps....I was in Duluth earlier this week and I had a chance to meet up with my friend Sue for lunch and shopping. She made the sweetest little pin cushion for me! Thanks so much, Sue! The scrappy patchwork above the pin cushion is her work as well. There was more than a little squealing going on at the table. I feel the need to dive into my scrap bins again--surprise, surprise! (The blocks were made using Victoria's technique.)

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

big, big bear paw

Well, I'm not sure how much of a break that was, but I'm back! And I'm happy to be here! A big thank you to all of you who checked in and sent me kind notes in my absence. I appreciate it!
I've been sewing a lot, which is good! This block, a HUGE bear paw block, was made for my friend Terri for our Sew Sisters Bee. I LOVED making it and I really (really) wanted to keep it. The block will finish at 28"! Terri posted a tutorial here if you would like to make one/some of your own.

The great thing about being in a bee is that it pushes you out of your comfort zone. I pulled out all the larger scale multi-colored prints that I had on hand (I can't believe I found this many) and paired them with a hot pink solid. I need to remember to use bolder backgrounds more often...there is so much impact. The funny thing is, some of the print fabrics came from Terri several years ago. How crazy is it that they will end up in her quilt after all?! I love it!

I hope to see you all back here tomorrow for finish it up Friday! Have a fantastic day!

Monday, February 23, 2015

bright birch trees redux

I know some people never make the same quilt pattern twice, but I'm not one of those people! This is my second bright birch trees quilt, and this one will be going to a friend of mine. I decided to go with nearly the same color scheme as the first version.
I love how the scrappy strips are set in the bright, bold background colors (and white). This pattern is my very favorite way to use up tiny scraps....because you KNOW that I just can't bear to throw them away.
I've been working on this one off and on since last November. I'm happy to have it in quilt top form. One step closer to a finish!

Last March I took the month off from social media. It was much needed and the break was so refreshing. I decided to make it an annual thing, which means I'll be stepping away from the blog and Instagram for the next month to recharge my batteries a bit. I'll be honest, it's very hard for me to take a break, but I also know that I need do it. So, I'll see you in a few weeks! I'll be back before you know it. :)

And of course, happy Monday to you!

Friday, February 20, 2015

a Dresden block

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

My Gruber's retreat friends and I are doing a quilting bee this year. It's been a few years since I've been a part of a bee and I'm excited to be a part of this one. It's funny, one block per month doesn't seem like that much of a commitment, but the months fly by. (A sure sign that I'm getting old. ha!) February seemed to go especially quick!
This block is for Cindy. She requested a bright colored Dresden block with a black and white center. She will be attaching the blocks to a background, so even if it doesn't LOOK like it's finished, it sure is! This was the first full sized Dresden block I've made. It was fun, but appliqueing the center was tricky since there was very little fabric to attach the circle to for basting purposes. One and a half tries later, the center is attached. Yay! So, a small finish, but a finish nonetheless. I'll take it!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

a messenger bag

I'm not a big fan of making hand made bags, but I do love carrying them. Every once in awhile I make one anyway, even if the process isn't my favorite. The results are totally worth it!
Over the past several days I sewed up this messenger bag. I didn't follow a pattern at all, but I did consult my friend Tara on a few parts of the construction. (Thanks Tara!) The outside is made from denim, the flap is scrappy, of course! I used a linen strap that I found in the epic bag of scraps that I received from Mary. It was so nice to have that part done!
There are multiple layers and various materials in this baby, including: lightweight denim, canvas, interfacing, batting, linen and quilting cotton. (Oh my!)
The lining fabric is red and white polka dot, which is probably no surprise at all. I love that it's so happy! I added 4 simple slide pockets on the inside....
...and I even added a zipper pocket to the back of the bag. I watched the instructions on how to make a zippered pocket in Tara's Quilt as You Go Patchwork Bags Craftsy class, which completely demystified the process. I felt so smart and accomplished! It's not perfectly straight, but not bad at all for a first try.
The bag measures about 13" wide x 14" tall x 3" deep. I LOVE how it turned out! I can't wait to fill it up and start carrying it around. It's going to hold lots and lots of stuff....but not the kitchen sink! :)

I haven't said it in awhile, but...hurray for scraps!!!

On an unrelated note...I apologize to those of you who follow my blog via email who received a weird email message linking to me last week. My blog got hacked (what a mess) and I apologize for the trouble. Please delete the email message and move on. Hopefully it's all taken care of now. Thank you to those of you who gave me a heads up. I appreciate it!

Friday, February 13, 2015

zippers galore

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
Apparently zippers have been the theme the past few months at my place!
I made another baggy pouch, this time in size large. Pattern is by Aneela Hooey. It's a fun one! I love making it with patchwork. I used mini charms from V and Co. (Color Theory) and Kate Spain (Paradiso). The two lines work SO well together. I'm pleased that I was able to use the mini charm packs and not hoard them until the end of time. That's a big WIN for me! I LOVE this pouch!!!
Last Sunday I taught a few new friends how to make simple zipper pouches. We were going to make the pouches out of a single fabric exterior, but patchwork is always cuter, so we went that route. More 2 1/2" squares, except we used scraps this time. (Yay scraps!) I love how they turned out! One woman had never sewn before...I think she is going to be hooked. more Work In Progress bag. I had to finish this because I had the zipper done, thanks to yesterday's tutorial. This makes bag #18. Now I think I'm ready to move on and sew something without a zipper! :)

Of course, finishing my pattern was the biggest finish of all this week. Many, many thanks to those of you who purchased a copy! I appreciate your support!

I decided to pick 5 winners for the giveaway. They are: CathyCathy L, Susie at ProspertyStuff, Elizabeth Peterson and Aliceart. Thanks to all of you who entered.

Good gravy, could this post HAVE any more links? :)

Now, at last, it's your turn. Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for finishing with me. Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

sewing with vinyl and shortening zippers

When developing the pattern for my Work In Progress bags, I tested at least 7 different kinds of vinyl! I bought 3 at JoAnn's, 3 different ones at Wal-Mart and I also used two that I had on hand. Ok, so maybe 8 different kinds.

Here in the US (I'm not sure about other countries) vinyl is sold by the yard and it comes on 54" wide roll. Vinyl comes in different weights, ranging from 4 gauge (the very lightest I found, which is the thickness of a really cheap shower curtain) to 20 gauge (which is pretty thick).

I tested 8 gauge vinyl for the pattern and I found it to be a little bit wimpy. It could work in a pinch, but it was too thin for my tastes.

I tried 12 and 16 gauge vinyl and those both worked beautifully! There is a little bit of heft to it, but not overly thick and pretty easy to sew through. 12 or 16 gauge is what I recommend for the pattern. Easy to use, but sturdy enough to hold up over repeated use.

I also made at least one bag with 20 gauge vinyl, which worked, but that stuff is pretty thick! After making several WIP bags, the thickness didn't phase me, but if you are just starting out, it might be a little intimidating.

I purchased vinyl at JoAnn's and at my store it ranged in price from $4.99-$8.99/yard.

My local Wal-Mart also carries vinyl on the roll (sometimes referred to as clear table covering) in the craft section, but they don't specify the gauge anywhere on their product. (Because why would it be that easy, right?) I tried 3 of their products, Heavy Weight Clear, Clear Vinyl Premium and Super Weight Clear. If I had to guess, I would say that they would be 12, 16 and 20 gauge respectively. That's just a guess! All of them worked well for the pattern. At my store, the prices ranged from $2.97-$4.77, which is significantly cheaper than JoAnn's and no coupons needed! But, finding someone to cut it might be a little tricky.

I had some vinyl on hand that I used as well. It had been rolled up, folded up and shoved in the back of a closet for a few years. It was kind of a mess and it was creased in some areas. I cut around the most significant creases. For the less significant creases, I found that if you place a piece of fabric over the vinyl, a warm iron can release/relax some of the kinks. I would be cautious in doing this, because you don't want to melt the vinyl (and ruin your iron), but it does help. I would start with a warm iron and increase the temperature gradually, as needed. Just be careful!

When purchasing and storing vinyl, be cautious not to crease or smash it. Also, don't roll it up too tightly into a tube, or it will retain it's curl and it is harder to use. A little experience talking!

Now, a few thoughts about sewing with vinyl....

Sewing with vinyl isn’t difficult, but it takes a bit of getting used to. Don’t expect perfection right out of the gate! Be sure to sew slowly and take your time. That really does help! You can't pin through vinyl (without leaving holes) so Clover wonder clips are essential. They hold the layers in place while you sew. I used a standard piecing foot on my sewing machine--even when attaching the zipper to the vinyl. If the vinyl sticks to the sole plate of your machine, you can place a piece of tissue paper under the vinyl and it will allow the piece to move through your machine easily. Sometimes the first few stitches are sticky, so I just nudge it along to get it moving and usually it's smooth sailing from there. I used a Universal 80/12 sewing machine needle.
I've heard that a Teflon foot helps, but I have never tried one. If you have, I'd love to hear if you think it was beneficial.
Now, a few things about zippers. I feel like I'm writing a book report. Hahaha!

Did you know that a zipper is always measured from end stop to end stop? (Not from one end of the zipper tape to the other.) I didn't know that until last week. There is a whole diagram here about how to measure a zipper that is pretty interesting.

My local quilt shop sells zippers for $1.10 (which is a good price) and they come in so many fun colors. They only carry one size (14"), but since they have vinyl teeth, they are easily shortened.

I thought it would be beneficial to share how to shorten a zipper. As always, this is just one way to do it!
Here I have a 14" zipper and two fabric tabs that I made. (These tabs can vary in size, depending upon your project. I made smaller tabs when I made my sew together bags.)
Slip one of the zipper tabs over the end with the metal stop and sew in place. Don't encase the metal stop inside the fabric tab.
Mark the length that you want your zipper to be. In this case, I want my zipper, with tabs, to be 13 3/4", so I made marks at 13 3/4". A sharpie works great for this step.
Cut on the markings. Be careful NOT to slide the zipper right off the end!
Place the remaining fabric tab over the zipper ends so they are fully enclosed. Pinch the two parts of the zipper tape together. Carefully take the piece to your machine and sew it in place.
It's a little tricky! As you can see, the tab isn't placed exactly 90 degrees on my zipper. But really, it's ok! Once the zipper is installed, you won't even notice. The overall measurement of the zipper, with tabs, is about 13 3/4". That's it!

Ok, that is a LOT of information in one blog post! I hope that it helps clear up any questions you may have. If I missed anything, please ask and I will try to answer in the comments.

Go forth and sew with vinyl AND zippers without fear! :)