Sunday, December 6, 2015

quilting with Eric Carle fabric

Over the past year I've been hosting a sewing group at my local library.  It's been my way to still connect with other sewists since I closed my shop.  I had a bunch of Eric Carle fabric that I intended to use for a project years ago but never did.  My kids are past the Eric Carle stage and I don't know anyone with kids that age.  I decided to donate the fabric to our sewing group so we could make quilts to raffle off and support the children's department at the library.   We have been working on several quilts (we have 3 in progress!).  I planned to have these completed during this past summer so we could sell tickets during the local fair and holiday season.  Picking a winner just before Christmas was the goal.  But seeing as how it's almost mid December and I'm just to the quilting stage on 2 of them, none of that is happening.  Spring quilts?!?  I think that sounds like a good idea too.

 These are the first two quilts in the early planning stages.  All wrinkly, unsewn and untrimmed.

 Now pressed and trimmed and the sewing has begun. We were working with some odd scraps.  You would never know that there is a seam right through one of those ice cream cones.  One of the ladies helping was super good at matching so I left that up to her.

I finally got so fed up with the lack of progress that one day last weekend I finished assembling the tops and layered and pinned them.

All ready for quilting.  My favorite part.  My least favorite part of a quilt?...assembling and adding the borders.  It's the in between part where big pieces are going together and it's harder to maneuver the large pieces of fabric.  I wish I had a piecing wall or larger floor space at least.
Now back to my favorite part - the quilting.  I use my Viking Mega Quilter.  I have played around with a long arm but I love the freedom to move anywhere I want without a restriction of working in a horizontal path across the quilt.  Plus, I feel like I have more control using my hands to move the quilt.

I ran out of bobbin thread at this stage and I haven't filled more yet.  It's only been a week so I don't think I'm procrastinating too much at this point.  We'll see how long this goes on for....

Friday, August 28, 2015

A little trick for quilt binding

My biggest challenge in binding a quilt was to have it fold over easily and keep the binding edge looking sharp and straight.  I thought I would share how I like to bind a quilt.  Not saying it's the best way just the way that works best for me.

I always use a french fold binding, which means that I simply fold the 2 1/2" wide strip in half with raw edges meeting and press.  This will gives me 2 layers of fabric over my quilt edge and is a heck of a lot easier and faster, in my opinion, to fold it in half rather than use a bias tape maker or try to fold without a bias tape maker.

If I can I will machine stitch on instead of handsewing.  Usually by the binding stage I'm ready to be done with a quilt and want to get it over with.  But when I do decide to handstitch I end up finding a mental place and just enjoy the process.

So here is my quilt with the binding already sewn on.  I'm machine sewing this binding on so I first attached it to the back of the quilt.  There's a ton of tutorials and instructions out there leading up to this process so I won't bore you with that.  But I will say I always join my strips together on the diagonal and I do not use bias binding unless something has a curved edge.

Next and here's my "big trick"!  Get ready....

I press the binding away from the quilt.  A good steamy press and it always lays flat.  Now I use cotton batting so I'm not sure how too much steam or heat would affect a poly batting but I'll let you be the judge.

Once I've pressed it away from the quilt all the way around then I flip the quilt over and fold the binding over just as it will be sewn onto the quilt and press again.  This is definitely a pressing step vs. an ironing step and your fingers might get a little toasty but I get a rhythm and I can usually do it without burning too bad.

I pay special attention to the corners and get them to miter as perfectly as possible so I don't have to fiddle with it later.

Very often I do not even have to pin or clip the binding down to sew although when I do I end up taking the time to do it I am usually glad I did especially when I am handsewing.

This binding method usually takes me under and hour to complete if I am machine sewing.  I like how it takes away the wonkyness that I used to get before I pressed. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Snack Bag Tutorial

* This is a serger version but these are just as easily made on the sewing machine.  Sewing machine version coming very soon.

I've posted a snack bag tutorial before but it's been a couple years... what!?  And since then I've made dozens and have refined my skills and techniques.  So here we go with a 2nd take (2 1/2 years later) with a lot more pictures and directions. 

But first let me tell you why I really love these! 
~ I love to save money, be creative and add color to my life where I can.
~ I am directly recycling and using scrap fabrics.
~ These are food safe.  I was not comfortable making snack bags out of just fabric, nylon or laminated fabrics because for one, wet or greasy foods would leak through the fabric and nylon.  I wasn't getting any good answers from manufactures if the laminated cotton was food safe.  Plus let's face it, laminated fabric is expensive!
~ Easy to clean.  I frequently will flip them inside out and rinse them under the faucet adding a little soap if needed.  
~ These are machine washable!  When the fabric gets dirty I half flip them inside out, so the inside and outside of the bags are exposed and toss them in with my towels.  I don't use fabric softener in this load.  To be perfectly honest they often go in the dryer too.  I use a low temp setting and I have never had a problem.  Of course putting heat on them may make them emit some horrible chemical but my thinking is when it cools down it goes back to the original state...oh yes,  I have spent many moments thinking about all the possibilities!  The bags we have now are about 2 years old and are in great condition.

Plastic cereal bag
scrap fabrics measuring at least 4" x 7"
3/4" velcro (hook & loop)

Sewing machine
scissors (rotary cutter, mat & ruler are helpful)

 First grab a plastic bag from a cereal box.  I LOVE this stuff.  First of all you can't recycle them or at least around here that I know of, so this is a great re-use of a material that won't biodegrade for many years.  They come with food packaged in them so you know they are food safe and they are super easy to sew.  Sewing some plastics are impossible because once the needle hits it it will tear like you cut it with scissors.  This however, holds the stitches just perfectly.

 Next cut off the bottom and then cut up the seam line on the side of the bag to open it up flat.

 For these snack bags I cut them 4" tall x 7" wide.  Out of this bag I was able to get enough for 4 snack bags.  The next bag I used I could only get 2 so they will vary.

 I'm all about cutting corners and taking shortcuts so at this point I'm going to use the plastic I cut out and fussy cut the butterfly out.  It's hard to see the cereal bag plastic in this photo.  The left side is a little easier to see.  I am not concerned about keeping the sides totally straight...the serger will help me straighten them out.

 Next I'm using the fussy cut piece to cut out the other side.  Now if I had been thinking ahead I would have placed the other fabric underneath when fussy cutting so I could have avoided this step but I can't win them all. And, oh yeah, why not square up the edges...just because I said that I didn't care about it in the previous step.

 I cut in half a 3/4" wide piece of hook and loop.  The full width makes it a little too strong for little hands to get apart and lets face it if you can get two out of one, why not!?

 Ok so time to re-thread the serger.  Thought I would add a variety of colors to make it fun.

 Grab a piece of plastic and one fabric side, put together and zip through the serger on one long side.  Nothin fancy about it.  No need to do anything with the tails.  Those will be taken care of in the next step.  Repeat for the other plastic and fabric piece.  *Tip on sewing with the plastic.  I always put the plastic down and fabric face up so the feed dogs help pull the plastic through otherwise the plastic will stick to the presser foot and slip across the fabric resulting in a mismatched side.

 I cut the length of hook and loop about 1/2" shorter than the width of the snack bag that way it won't get too bulky in the side seam.  I stitch it on about a 1/4" down from the top.  Stitch across the top.
 Pivot and it will take about 3 more stitches down.
 Then pivot again and stitch back across the bottom.  You'll have to pivot once more on the end.

On the hook side (rougher side) you might find that the thread gets caught and messy.  It happens and I just take a deep breath before I start swearing then cut the thread, re-thread the needle and continue on. 

 Alright hook and loop done. 
 Now put them insides together, just like it will be when it's done.   The hook and loop will hold the top together.
 But you will want to hold the sides and bottom together with something.  Wonder clips are perfect here but any sort of clip will do, just not pins because you want to avoid putting unnecessary holes in the plastic.
 Put your snack bag into the serger starting at a top corner.  Run just a couple stitches, leave the needles in the down position then lift the presser foot, grab the tail and....
 ...swing it all the way over in front of the blade.
 Stitch all the way down to the bottom corner.  Run it off 1 or 2 stitches. Lift the presser foot and....
 ...pivot to the bottom edge.  Make sure that the needles will start right at the corner.  Repeat for the next bottom corner.
 Serge all the way to the last top corner and run off 1 stitch. 
 Lift the needles and the presser foot.
 Then flip over the entire piece carefully - your threads are still attached (you don't want to pull it too far out of the machine) and put it back in on the flip side.  Line up the needles so they will start serging right back at the top.  *It's important to lift the blade before you start serging again because you don't want to chance cutting your stitches.  (Please ignore the horrible nails.)
 Serge down about 1 1/2" and run off the side.
 Snip all your threads and your done!