Sunday, August 16, 2015

Log Cabin Star--Free Starter Template

Can you stand one more Log Cabin pattern variation? Ta-da! This pattern can be made large, as in a big block style shown in this wall quilt (60" square) or reduced in size to make blocks for a bed quilt. I started by drafting a right angle section of a star for a 4 section star. Simply sew strips of fabric (2 1/2" wide in my project) and alternately attach strips to each side of the point of star section. For best results, cut strips on the lengthwise of fabric (parallel to the selvage edge, or you may experience stretching of the fabric while sewing. To overcome this distortion, if you want to cut strips on the cross grain, you can attach strips with EZ Steam II 1/4" strips of fusible tape, then stitch the seam line. Yes, takes a little longer, but the results are worth the effort.

Click here for your free Log Cabin Star template--you can enlarge or shrink as you wish. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Canteen Bag--Using Kaleidoscope Prints

I have some stunning Kaleidoscope prints by textile designer, Paula Nadelstern. The panels are so much art as is, I did not relish the idea of cutting the panels into pieces.

My inspiration was to create a project that would feature the beauty of each little fabric canvas--and so was born my original design, the Canteen Bag. I determined the largest circle I could cut from one panel and basically designed a round bag around this idea. The photos that show multiple bags are created from Paula's Fabracadabra line, and were featured at the last Quilt Market in Houston along with Paula's new textile lines. There are also 2 photos featuring single Canteen Bags made up in prints from Paula's earlier textile lines--my first prototypes. 

I did not create a pattern for this project, as it is a little fussy. However, experienced folks could recreate the look. See older post below for information about applying piping. Hint: apply binding to the center "rim" of the bag, not the circular body itself. When applying piping to the circular body, I realized the length of the piping would shorten somewhat during the circular sewing route, resulting in a tightening effect once the project is turned right side out. Applying the piping to the edges of the straight edge rim reduces the tightening effect.
Last summer, I also discovered a new product on the market, "Soft and Stable" and received a sample from Annie at to create the Canteen Bag for the Houston Quilt Market. Discovering this fabulous type of bag batting made all the difference in the success of the bag, keeping it's shape and providing a stable filler. The "batting" is a 1/4" thick foam layer with soft, pliable knit fabric on either side of the foam. Easy to sew, one only needs to do a little experimental sewing to get a feel for the properties--I would recommend an even-feed, or walking foot when using a foam batting product.The set of 5 bags at top were batted with "Soft and Stable". Notice in the prototype photos at the bottom of this post that the circular shape is somewhat out of round. The bags do not hold shape in a fashion that the foam batting produces.
So, remember to branch out and try new things, techniques, ideas. Happy Sewing!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Quilt Transport Tote

Quilt Transport Zippered Tote
No more trekking to the quilt guild with project wrapped up in a pillow case, or worse yet, a Hefty bag! You, too, can sashay in style with an over-sized tote bag. This tote is constructed with upholstery fabric I spied on sale at my local big box store, thus adding some body at the get-go, and wearing like iron.

Center front pocket, 10" x 10"
Tote is approximately 26" x 20", with a center front pocket about 10" x 10", tucked neatly under the construction of the straps. Cut the lining for the pocket 1/2" longer for the height, stitch right sides together at the top edge, turn right side out and flip the lining over and to the back. This creates the 1/4" strip of decorative color band at the top of the pocket--easy way to introduce accent!

Straps (2) are about 80" long, top-stitched to the body (pocket side edges tucked under strap edges). Don't fret about needing one continuous length for straps. Notice the horizontal bands of color accents on the straps? These are joins for lengths of strap fabric. Ta-da, just like I meant to do that!
Add a zippered flap for secure closing

Zipper installation--who is a fan of that? Nobody? Me either. To make the task simpler, I installed zipper legs on two long bands of fabric, then when it was time to put in the lining, simply tucked the fabric bands in between the body and lining pieces. No wrestling with the whole bulk of the tote to install the zipper.

You can make your tote wider in depth by varying the corner detail. To construct the corner tuck, sew each corner separately. After side seams and bottom seams are stitched on both the body and lining, with right sides together, place bottom seam line atop side seam line, pin to hold in place, then mark a perpendicular line across the corner--mine is about 2 1/2" total length (1 1/4" each side of seam lines).  Stitch on the marked line. Repeat for 3 more corners. Trimming off the triangle of fabric created from this process is not necessary--leaving it provides a bit more stability at the corner. To increase the depth of your bag, mark the perpendicular line longer, (for example, a 4" marked line would be farther from the corner of intersecting side and bottom seam line).

Corner detail
I simply quilted the layers to add more body. The major drawback to this Quilt Transport Tote is that I finished my project before I discovered the wonderful foam batting products now available. This would have been an ideal filler for this project.

Happy sewing/quilting!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Notes on Piping

My latest project involves making piping for some bags. I found cotton 1/4" filler cord in the upholstery department as shown in the photo below. The sales clerk rolled it up loosely and placed in a shopping bag, as normal. However, when I got home and unrolled it, the cord had developed bulges here and there--it was no longer uniform as it had appeared on the spool. Cotton filler shown on right in the photo. 

Determined to produce a better end result, I started hunting for alternatives for the filler and found a 3/16" diameter nylon braided rope in the marine department at the local big box store. 

The rope is washable, uniform the length of the rope, flexible, and stable. I also had less problem with twisting of fabric. (See photo below). Cotton filler cord piping is on the left below, nylon on the right.

 I used 1 1/4" wide strips of bias cut (on 45 degree angle) fabric strips to make the piping. 

Moral of the story--use your imagination and consider alternatives for your creative work. Poke around the craft section and even the hardware section of department stores--you never know when you might spot something that you can work into a project! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Novelty Print Cosmetic Bag

Who can resist those fun novelty aka conversational print fabrics? No resistance to buying them, but much resistance to cutting them up into pieces! Follows is one idea to lessen the guilt of owning and not using them, and while it won't use up a lot of yardage, it does allow you to show off one of your babies. These little vignettes were cut from a Robert Kaufman print (Who's That Girl), 9 1/2" x 5 1/2" and lined, adding some leftover heart appliques (see Valentine Treat Sacks) for embellishment. I used 9" x 5" Pellon 987 fusible fleece to add body, and threw in a 7" zipper. The 2 very small pieces of fabric shown in the photo were used to make a tab ending on each end of the zipper, to finish it before sewing into the black and white stripe/lining.  The zipper bling is a string of crewel yarn, I think--not sure as I do not do embroidery work of any kind--I just collect bits of stuff and use it whenever. The small oak and maple leaves on the zipper pull dangle are resin and purchased at  Hope you enjoyed the sharing!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hand Piecing a Lone Star Table Pad

For those of you who are thinking you might like to try the therapeutic delights of hand piecing, I'm sharing some thoughts of my latest effort, a Lone Star design table pad. There are easier methods to construct a Lone Star, but since I wanted to use my CherryWood fabric, and since it would be a small piece, I wanted to use the best workmanship. Actually, the real reason is that I'm very vain. I knew folks could get a real good view as tot whether or not the points were meeting at that close angle! (Tee-hee). Seriously, sometimes I just long to sit and do some handwork, so this is my project.

I first cut strips of fabric, 2 3/4" wide, then cut 60 degree diamonds from the strips. I then cut a template from plastic to draw around (yes, I drew the seam lines on each diamond, Virginia) and it measures 2 1/8" between parallel sides. Not sure how I came up with those measurements in the beginning, but it is what it is!

To get exacting piecing, I first stabbed a pin at one seam line end through the pencil line, then down to the under layer. Repeat for the other end of the seam line. After the two ends were positioned, I pinned on the seam line a couple of pins, again pinning through the pencil lines on both layers.

After joining pairs in this manner, I used the same basic technique to join multiple pieces together, by stabbing pins through the end points and pinning the seam lines in between. I did save most pressing for last--it is helpful that once you begin pressing to alternate the direction you press the seams so you don't wind up with a wad of fabric layers in one spot due to multiple layers of seam allowances.

The backing is constructed of 6 large diamonds
rather than a whole cloth piece. Since I intended to quilt almost to the edge, then turn under the edge to the back instead of binding, I foresaw that a wholecloth piece of fabric was going to be a problem and the inside "V's" of the outer edge. By piecing the backing, the seam allowances of the backing provided the solution of how to handle that area. Finished table top is about 42" wide at tip to tip of start.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Square Hole from a Round Peg

This two sided wall quilt makes use of a circular block whose edges are folded inward (to the front side or back side) to form square blocks. All curved shapes on the quilt are a result of this technique. In addition to the use of the block shape as a design element, some of the individual circular blocks are strip-pieced for added interest. There are no additional, separately pieced borders--all border effects are built into the piecing of the blocks. Quilt uses Timeless Treasures fabrics and is 36" x 36".

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"Ocean Currents"--Make a Quilt using One Template

Use one template to create a design in your next quilt top by playing with value. "Ocean Currents" is a 60" square quilt that uses one half of a 5" x 10" rectangle as a template. By using the 1 x 2 ratio, you can rotate the block 90 degrees to produce unexpected results. Check out the top 2 and bottom 2 rows in the finished quilt photo to see what I mean. Value contrast and rotating pairs of blocks yields a secondary design of "flowing arrows".

This block is a bit trickier to sew accurately and is best done by using pins to match the seam line beginnings and ends. Accuracy is very important with this block and fudge factor does not apply here. Make sure the edges of your triangle blocks meet as shown in the photo to ensure an even outer edge of your 5" x 10" (plus seam allowances) block.

"Ocean Currents" features batiks on front and back with cotton batting and simple machine quilting. To draft a block for this quilt, simply draw a 5" x 10" rectangle, then draw a line through opposite corners. Add seam allowances to all sides of the half triangle.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Leafy Mug Rug--Gift Idea

Looking for patterns to start making gifts for the Holiday Season? How about leaf-shaped beverage coasters for a unique, eclectic addition to entertaining? Elegantly styled, the leaf top constructs quickly as there is no curved seam sewing. The coasters are a universal gift-giving solution. Make several sets in a variety of colors to have on hand for those last minute occasions when a gift is needed in a hurry.
 Pattern is available through Craftsy independent designers store (link in upper sidebar) as a pdf download, templates included. Want a larger set for oversized mugs? Simply enlarge the templates on a copy machine.   Cheers!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Apple Core in Kaffe Fassett

 Now that we're within spittin' distance of fall, this little piece (33" x 42") in Kaffe Fassett stripes with eggplant backing is just the project to experiment with an apple core pattern. I used Pellon Legacy 100%  Natural Cotton batting and machine topstitched using the sewing foot as a guide to stitch 1/4" away from seam lines.
The quilt is bound with double-fold bias strips cut from the same fabric as backing and hand sewn to close the backside.

Use this small quilt as wall art, a baby quilt, or--my favorite--a bath mat. A cool way to add color and flair to the bath!
The trick to successfully sewing the individual apple core components together is to divide the seam lines into sections. For this fabric, I was able to simply fold the side of the fabric component I would be sewing on in half, then crease the fold at the seam line with my nail. I was not able to crease several ahead as the creases would relax by the time I got to pinning--I just creased two at a time that I would be immediately pinning and sewing. If your fabric won't crease visibly, a light pencil mark on the wrong side will work. Place the two fabric components, right sides together, in the usual manner, but pin the register marks (creases) first, then align the corners and pin, then ease the fabric between and pin. Use as many pins as needed to achieve a seam line free of tucks. Although this pattern is more effort than many, it's very satisfying when well done!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

ID Wallet

Sometimes one just feels the need to make something small and FAST after all the intensive work a quilt requires. I use the business card case, a.k.a. ID wallet in my "Sophisticated Trio of Handbag Accessories" pattern to fashion this little number out of a lovely periwinkle blue/lavender-ish Ultrasuede. When I want to go on a walk or travel light, I can fit my ID, bank card, and a few bills tucked in here, and away we go!

The "Sophisticated Trio of Handbag Accessories" pattern can be purchased through the Craftsy storefront upper right.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Remembering Easter

Sharing today a small wall quilt, named "Remembering Easter". This quilt is simply made, with machine applique, machine quilting and a bit of hand quilting, a tad of piecing and is 17" by 31" at longest point. A colorful version to celebrate life using a variety of cottons and Pellon 987F fusible fleece.

This quilt's genesus was the desire to use the little pieced blocks--they were leftovers from Color Pools table runner (see earlier post) and for some reason I felt compelled to USE THEM. I am truly odd and sure this is some kind of condition I have. Anyway, the quilt started construction from this point, adding elements and colors that were cheerful. You just never know where inspiration will begin!

Fix a Quilt Boo Boo

I can't believe I did this. I made a table topper, Heart Strings, and used a white pencil to outline heart shapes for some very sparse quilting. Being the overly detailed personality that I am, I used Fray Check to hold down the thread whiskers at the seam line end, but did so before I removed the white pencil lines. Do you see where this is going? I glued down the white pencil dust. I still use Fray Check quite a bit, but I think I'll be sure to remember to remove pencil lines first or use the product on the back side from now on. This is a great product and I've never noticed any visibility from using it--this is clearly operator error! There is a happy ending--I covered the boo-boos by coloring the whitish spots with a permanent black Sharpie. Whew!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Beatin' the Blues

Sharing this most recent completion, for someone special. Used raw edge applique and zigzag machined edges, machine quilted. A very simple approach to using fabric to design. A bit of  stimulation for the day. Now...........tag, you're it! This piece approximately 15" x 22".

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Re-purpose Your Fabric


Just wanted to pass along this tip, in case there are folks who haven't had this experience. I am making a wall quilt and needed a purple fabric, one with not too much red or too much blue in it. I ruffled through all the candidates in my stash and nothing seemed just right, except this piece with the gold metallic stars on it. Can't remember where or why I picked this up and never seem to have the project that wants it with the gold stars shining away, wanting attention. Voila! I turned it to the reverse side and there hides a perfectly suitable, hand-dye look that I did use in my quilt. Moral: always check the back sides of candidate fabrics when auditioning!