Friday, January 11, 2019

Spinning Stars (fixing a quilt top)

In a few weeks, I will be going to the second annual family craft retreat. This has me focused on what I want to bring and what I may have to do to have it ready to work on (so to speak).

One project that I didn't want to just pack up and take was the quilt I'm calling Bright Stars on Black. I did a lot of work on it at the last retreat, getting it to the point that the blocks were assembled, final layout was chosen, and the horizontal rows of the top were sewn.

After I got home, I had to cut a few more pieces from the black background and got the top completely assembled.
I put it on my design wall to take a look and discovered that I had rotated the centres of a few of the blocks. I had carefully positioned them to flow with the light to dark pattern of the quilt and they had gotten rotated when I sewed the rows together.

And there the quilt hung. For quite a while.

When I wanted the design wall for another quilt, I marked all the blocks that I wanted to change and took it off the wall. I put a safety pin on the top right of each block I wanted to fix (purple circle below - obviously the quilt was off the wall and rotated by the time I took the picture). Then I put a safety pin inside the centre at the corner that I wanted to face the top right (green circle).
Some were rotated 90^ and some were 180^ and this way I would be able to keep it straight.

And there the quilt sat for quite a while.

But thinking about bringing this to the retreat and basically putting the top together again did not sit well with me. So I pulled it out and decided that if I wasn't getting around to this at the sewing machine, I would do it by hand. The sewing part would be faster by machine, but the "surgery" part of it was most of the work and would be the same either way.

I pulled it out this week and got to work. One block at a time, I took out the seams around the centre square and rotated the it so the safety pins would line up.
From the back, I pinned the centre of each side to hold the block in place.
Then I pinned one side at a time to be sewn.
Normally in hand stitching you would mark the seam, but I just followed the previous stitching line.
At the middle of each side, four seams intersected. I reinforced the two that I wasn't sewing so that the stitching wouldn't come undone. Normally it would be held in place by the crossing seam, but I didn't trust the hand sewing to do that very well and a lot of them had already "popped" open and had to be resewn.

I followed a path at each intersection to get through it all efficiently without having to start a new thread:
However far the seam had popped open, I just made sure to overlap with the previous stitches about an inch or inch and half each time. I had to do the same thing at each corner.

When I made it around all four sides, I was done!
Next I pressed the seams depending on which direction the seams around it were going. Sometimes the block fit in perfect, but a lot of times I couldn't quite continue the left-right pattern of the pieces around it. (For example, at the bottom left, two adjacent seams are both pressed down.) The good part about hand sewing is that you don't sew down the seam allowances, so I could decide which way to press the seams after the sewing was done.

A final press from the front, and the block was fixed:
I didn't count but there were maybe 6 or 7 blocks that had to be fixed. I got them all done this week, which feels great.

Then I pulled out all the little stars I made for the border.
I have to decide where all of them will go. I'll try to match the rainbow gradient of the centre of the top but I'm sure it won't work out perfectly.

I haven't decided how far I want to get this before the retreat but I did order batting for it. Which means if I get the top done, I have the supplies to quilt it (and finish it?) at the retreat. The place we're going to this year is specifically set up for quilters so there are large tables to use. That would be a lot better for basting then anything I have here. Seems like I should take advantage of that. :)

Friday, January 4, 2019

Snappy Project Bag

For Christmas this year, I made a project bag for my sister. Now that she has it, I can share it here.

The steps are basic, but the result is cute and useful.

Step 1. Cut fabric for outside and lining.
For a bag that's 10"(height)x13"(width), I cut the two pieces 10.5"x13.5" for the outside and two pieces 12.75"x13.5" for the lining.

If you have a large enough piece and your fabric doesn't have a directional print, you can use one piece for the outside 20.5"x13.5" and one piece for the lining 25"x13.5".
The owls will be on the outside and the trees will be the lining.
2. Sew side and bottom seams.
Put right sides of outside fabric pieces together and sew a 1/4" seam on both sides and along the bottom. Do the same with the lining pieces. (If you used one piece of fabric, you don't need to sew the bottom seam -- just fold the fabric in half and sew the side seams.)
3. Press seams open.
I find it easier to turn seams inside right when I iron the seam allowances open first.
4. Box corners.
On the two bottom corners of both the outside and lining, fold the side seam to lie on top of the bottom seam (or the bottom fold if you used one piece of fabric). Sew a line perpendicular to the seam from fold to fold.
To make it even, I line up a line on the ruler with the seam and make sure it is an even distance to each fold. In this case, the 2.5" line is on the seam and the 1" and 4" lines are at the fold. It is 1.5" from 2.5" to both 1" and 4", so it is even.

Draw a line along the edge of the ruler and sew.

If you want a bigger boxed bottom, you sew the seam further from the corner. For instance, you could line up the .5" and 4.5" lines with the folds.

5. Trim seam allowance.
Cut the seam allowance of the boxed corners to 1/4" and sew over the raw edges to keep them from raveling. Instead of a zig zag or a regular blanket stitch, I used a blanket stitch where the "arms" are made of multiple stitches. It doesn't pull in the edge as much as a simple blanket stitch.
6. Insert lining.
Insert the lining into the outside fabric, wrong sides together. Match side seams, bottom seam and the boxed corners. You can see the lining is taller than the outside fabric.
7. Finish edge of the lining.
Fold over the raw edge of the lining fabric evenly around. 1/4" - 3/8" is good.
8. Cut and cover tape measure.
Didn't see this one coming, did you!? For the top closure, I used pieces of an old metal measuring tape.

Cut two pieces at 13". (You can use regular scissors - just don't use your best pair! :) Round the corners and be careful, because they're sharp! Then cover the end with electrical or duct tape. This will help prevent the tape from wearing through the fabric.
Want to hear a funny? When I first went to cut the tape, I was wondering whether it would be easier to measure the length on the cutting mat or with a ruler. Duh! The measurements are printed right on the tape!

9. Insert snaps.
Fold the excess lining length over a piece of the measuring tape -- one on each side. Insert with the concave (inny) curve facing the inside of the bag. To make it easy, this is the side with the numbers printed on it.
10. Pin and sew.
Pin the lining to the outer fabric. To make sure it was even all the way around, I used my hem measure. You can also use a ruler or measuring tape, or just make a mark on a stiff piece of paper and use that.
Sew along the folded edge of the lining. This is obvious, but make sure not to sew on the measuring tape! I put the needle in the right position so the foot could ride further away from the measuring tape.
I also sewed along the top edge to finish it off. This isn't strictly necessary for the bag's function but I thought it would make a nicer casing for the measuring tapes.
11. Enjoy!

The top pops open and snaps shut. It's tight enough to hold things inside but you can pull the yarn through it as you're knitting.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Lucy Boston Update 5

Christmas gifts are a little late this year so I have to postpone a couple of posts I've prepared about secret projects. In the meantime, I can give you an update on the Lucy Boston projects I stitched in the last quarter of the year.

One that I had designed previously is this batik X design:
The pattern isn't clearly defined, but I like how the colour moves across the block.

Next is a block I put together from some pieces I had cut previously and some new fabric I cut for it:
I don't have enough really dark blocks, so this will help.

The next block was also put together from previous prepared and new pieces:
It's a little Christmasy, but that's ok.

Then there was an extended break when I had to design some new blocks and couldn't find the energy and chunk of time to do it. Getting a few new fabrics when I visited Missouri in December provided an impetus to get started again.

Continuing with the Christmasy theme is this red and green block:
I love the soft reds in this one.

And finally, this happy blue and yellow number:
That's five more blocks, making 47 total. Nine more to go. I have 3-1/2 designed so I think in one more design session, I should be able to take care of the rest. I did feel like I was running out of ideas and inspiration last time though; I was exhausted when I was done!

It's not a hard deadline, but I'd love to finish sewing the blocks in January just because I started sewing them last January.

Here are all the blocks sewn so far:
(Clicking on the picture should give you a larger view.)

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...