Quilt 2 and More Lessons

I have finally boxed up and mailed off quilt number 2, so I figured this is a good time to discuss just what I learned from it.

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Actual Sewing Lessons

  • I can’t sew straight.  That’s not totally true, but when sewing over long distances (such as the binding), I found that I wavered…a lot.  I had some serious difficulty keeping my lines straight any time I had to sew something longer than 10 inches.
  • Stitch in the ditch is hard.  Stitch in the ditch is when you try and sew in the seams you made when joining two pieces of fabric together.  If your lines weren’t perfect to begin with, this will be difficult.  My problem seemed to be with when I ironed seams.  I wasn’t getting my seams to fall completely flat, so stitching in the ditch meant I sometimes ended up sewing over an ironed seam that wasn’t quite where it should have been.
  • Seam ripping happens.  I did a lot of seam ripping on this project.  Some of it was productive and really enhanced the final product.  Some of it wasn’t as productive and meant wasted time.
  • I need to work on “squaring up.”  If you don’t sew everything exactly perfect, your final product won’t be exactly square.  This can be a problem when you’re trying to do things like miter corners.  There are tips and tricks for making things square, but, at the end of the day, they only work if you’re a fraction of an inch off over the entire project.  I need to work on having more consistent internal seams, but I also need to work on these little tricks too.

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Life Lessons

  • It’s okay to take your time.  Several times during this process I would find myself ripping the same seam over and over again.  I would get frustrated that things weren’t going as well as I wanted.  So I’d step back.  Sometimes I just took 10 minutes to do something else, other times I took an entire week to do something, anything, else.  If I hadn’t stepped back when I needed to, for as long as I needed to, I would have ended up with a much sadder final product.  I need to remember that taking time and taking breaks from projects doesn’t mean there isn’t progress and that things aren’t getting done.  It means I care enough to do it right, and I know that means I need to be in the right frame of mind to do it properly.
  • Draw out your path.  When I was working on joining the triangles, I drew in my seam allowance on every triangle to help me make sure I was doing things right when pining and sewing.  Without those lines, my triangles wouldn’t have had as sharp of points, and my rows wouldn’t be as even.  It’s okay to map out the path you intend to follow, especially if this is the first time you’re doing it.  In the future I might not need to draw my seam allowances on triangles (and in fact didn’t need to when I was playing with hexagons), but that’s only because I spent so much time trying to do it right with my initial run through.
  • You’ll always see all the things you did wrong, but that isn’t what others see.  Every time I finish a project like this, all I can see is every mistake.  I see every wobbly line, every blunted point, every misplaced thread.  But that’s not what others see.  They see the good because they didn’t sweat the process and see every mistake being made.  They can look at it as a whole while I still see individual parts.  While they might notice the stitching being off here or there, they don’t see it as part of a catalog of everything that is wrong like I do.  When they give you a compliment, take it at face value (and don’t mention problems x, y, and z).

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Quilt Progress

As soon as I finished my brother’s quilt, I started on another one for my cousin.  This time I wanted to try out triangles.  She picked out the grey/yellow/green color scheme, and I got to work.  Along the way I have learned a LOT.  This quilt is still in progress, but I thought I’d share how it was going so far.

Triangle Quilt in Progress

So far I have half of the top sewn together (top right), and it was an ordeal to get me there.  I cut around 300 triangles so I had some extras to play with during the layout.  In the end, I decided on 14 down by 20 across, which meant a total of 280 triangles used.  In the middle two pictures, you can see how I laid everything out on the floor of our spare bedroom.  I had to move almost everything out, but it worked.  Once I had the layout, I carefully picked up each row in order and kept the rows separate from each other.  I also made a giant chart of every triangle and what it was.  I obviously didn’t do it well enough, though, because on the bottom row of the sewn top you can see that one of those green triangles matches up with another same fabric triangle directly above it.  I could pull it all out, but I’m not going to.  It would involve ripping the row as well as ripping several triangles.  It will bug me, but it stays.

Once I figured out how to join the triangles together, things went really well, but before that, it was several hours of sewing, ripping, and questioning what the heck I was doing.  In the bottom left picture, you can see how I put together the triangles at first.  The problem with this, of course, is that when I join the rows together, those pretty points will become blunt tops.  I had half a row done before I realized that.  (And had ripped out triangles again and again trying to get that point.)  The bottom right picture is what I actually needed.  I need that point nestled 1/4 inch in so I can have the crisp point when I joint he rows.  To get this, I actually drew in my quarter inch seam allowance on the back of each triangle.  The point where those seam allowances crossed was the recessed point I wanted.  It added a little time, but saved me a ton of grief in the long run.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how this quilt is coming along.  My lines are straight, my points are crisp, and everything seems to line up fairly well.  I’m excited to finish the top and get to the actual quilting.  I haven’t decided what I want to do for that yet, though.

My First Quilt

One of the hobbies I recently picked up was quilting. I enjoy sewing, but have learned that clothing isn’t necessarily my forte (though that might just be because I need more practice).  My great-aunt was an amazing quilter-doing everything by hand.  She had a set number of quilts she would do in a year, and it was always filled as soon as she opened up bookings for the year.  She charged a pretty penny or her creations, and everyone who commissioned one thought it was money well spent.  So I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually give it a try.

ians quilt

Review

I decided on a Craftsy course that taught beginning sewing methods.  When I signed up, the course was free, so it seemed like an excellent way to try quilting without too much investment.  I started with the mug rugs, because I had enough scraps from other projects to not need to purchase fabric.  I probably made about ten different mug rugs before I decided I was ready to try something big.

I know myself, I work better when I have a purpose, so I enlisted my brother as a client.  He gave me colors and helped me pick the fabrics.  It took me forever to complete because it was always a secondary project-something to work on while I was between other projects, but it is finally done.  I can see all the flaws in it, but I also have learned how to fix them or avoid them.

Would I do the course again?  Absolutely.  Not that I need to, but I found it very informative and helpful.  Plus, the “patterns” were super useful, and I can use them again any time I want.  Not all Cratsy courses are the same, so you might feel differently about others, but I really liked this one.  As for quilting?  I’m already practicing small scale in preparation for the next one.

Burp Cloths

As I mentioned previously, my niece recently had a baby.  As part of her gift, I made her some baby bibs.  The other part of her gift was burp cloths (coordinated with the bibs of course).  Burp cloths are one of the easiest sewing projects I have ever done.  For them you will need:

  • Soft fabric (I used baby fleece, but terrycloth is another good option)
  • Coordinating thread
  • A sewing machine

Check out the sewing instructions here, or my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board.

Burp Cloths

Review

Burp cloths are a simple and quick project.  I decided to add a little extra interest to mine by adding the stripe in the center of the patterned side.  I also added the iron on appliques, just like I did with the bibs.  In fact, I used the same shapes on the burp cloths as I did with the bibs.

I ended up making a set of four burp cloths, and the entire process took around an hour.  I did it assembly style.  I cut all pieces for all the cloths as once.  I sewed all the stripes together.  I sewed front to back, etc.  This made the entire process very efficient.

I will absolutely make these in the future.  They are quick, simple, and easily to customize.  Besides, my understanding is that one can never have too many burp cloths as they are constantly used and abused.

Baby Bibs

Back in November, my niece had a baby shower, and just about two weeks ago, she finally had her sweet baby!  It’s crazy to know I am a great aunt (i’m only 32!), but I am beyond excited for her, and can’t wait until February when we will be visiting her and her family.  So today’s post is part of her shower gift:  bibs!  You will need:

  • 2 types of fabric
  • Coordinating thread
  • A sewing machine
  • Fusible web (optional)

Check out all the directions here, or my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board.

Baby Bibs

Review

At first I wasn’t sure about the size of the bibs when I printed out the template.  It just seemed so small.  And, I was going to make it smaller once I considered the seam allowances that would be used.  Though many of my friends have children, ever since I moved it has been a while since I’ve been around a baby.  I took it up with my husband; he’s a nurse and sees more babies than I do.  We decided the best course of action was to actually make a bib and see what we thought when it was done.  So I whipped up a bib and we agreed-this actually is appropriate for a young baby!

As for the project itself, it was super simple.  The directions were straightforward, and I never ran across anything that I didn’t understand.  I used lightweight fleece for my bibs and found that I could get several bibs from one piece of fabric.  I also decided to add a little extra touch to mine to make them a little more unique, so I used the fusible webbing to add the accent details to the front of each bib.

I wasn’t able to attend the shower (it involved a plane ride), but by all accounts, my niece liked my gift.  Her little boy is still a bit young to actually use the bibs, but I can ‘t wait to see the pictures once he is ready!

The NEVER AGAIN Project

A few posts ago I talked about making a rag quilt for my mom to give to one of her friends.  Well, she asked me for a second project as well.  Sadly, sometimes projects don’t go as well as you had hoped, and this was one of those projects in a major way.  Perhaps you are more adventurous than me, and you’ll want to know what you need for this baby sleeping bag project.

  • Two matching fabrics
  • Sewing machine
  • Buttons
  • Snaps
  • Binding
  • Batting

You can check out the original directions here, or my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board (even though I thought long and hard about deleting the pin).

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Review

Obviously I didn’t love this project at all.  My main problem came from the published directions. I consider myself a novice at sewing.  I am mostly self taught, and usually look for projects that are appropriate for beginners.  I spent a lot of time reading, sewing, seam ripping, re-reading, re-sewing, and seam ripping yet again.  I got very frustrated at my inability to understand exactly what I needed to do.  I even asked my husband to look over it with me with fresh eyes, but he, too, was unclear about what I was supposed to do.  Eventually I ended up making several miniature versions of the bag until I figured out which interpretation was the correct interpretation. I really feel like I shouldn’t have had to do this, but maybe it was also my novice eyes not reading correctly.  I’m not totally sure.

When I finally finished the project, I was annoyed by what it looked like.  The bottom “point” of the sleeping bag simply gets folded under.  Considering I had to sew buttons and snaps on the front of the bag, it seemed like a silly idea not to put one on the back to keep that point tucked back.  I also wasn’t sure that the final product was all that functional.  It seemed like something that might be cute for a photo session, but ultimately something that a parent would see as clutter instead of useful.  This is not a project I will be repeating.

Rag Quilt

Right before I moved, my mom had asked me to make a few baby related projects that she could give to some of her friends that were pregnant or that had just given birth.  Knowing that I would have some free time, I was excited to jump into the projects.  Today’s project, the rag quilt, was the perfect started project for me!  You will need:

  • Fabric (I used minky and baby fleece)
  • A sewing machine
  • Batting
  • Thread and scissors

My mom sent me several pictures of rag quilts, but no tutorials.  Luckily, I found this awesome tutorial.  You can also check out my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board.

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Review

I loved how simple this project was.  The pictures my mom sent me were all squares, so I went with squares instead of strips like the original tutorial.  I had never attempted anything like this before, so I was worried about my ability to make straight lines that lined up “perfectly.”  Luckily, I found this awesome additional tutorial that made me feel more confident about making perfect squares.  This is also pinned on my Crafts as Gifts board.

One of the parts that was hardest for me during the entire process was the final snipping of edges so they would curl nicely after I washed thru quilt.  My normal sewing scissors weren’t able to cut the small seam allowances as well as I wanted, so I ended up using some embroidery scissors.  I have never used those for a long period of time, and, while they did the trick, they also started to hurt my hands!

I didn’t get a “final” picture of my quilt because I was in a hurry to box it up and send it off to my mom so she could give it to her friend, but I was super pleased with the final result.  In fact, I already have squares cut and ready to go for my next quilt!

Infinity Scarf

First of all, I would like to apologize for not having a post go up on Friday.  Normally I write my posts the night before or the morning of posting.  We ended up with a bit of a family emergency at the end of last week, and I totally forgot about the post I had planned until Saturday night.

Onward to today’s post!

One thing I’ve been wanting to do is make my own scarves.  I love scarves, so when I saw today’s pin about making your own infinity scarf, I had to five it a try!  The entire project is perfect for a novice, and it only took me about 15 minutes!  Score!  For this project, you will need:

  • 2 fat squares
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors

This project is super simple!  Check out the original tutorial, or my pin on my Sew Many Possibilities board.

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Review

First of all, I need to talk about the changes I made.  For one, I did not put batting into my scarf.  I wanted it to be super light since living in the desert means a long warm season.  I wanted this to be something I could wear during all those warm months.  Secondly, since I didn’t put batting in, I also didn’t do any sort of quilting to the scarf either.  I think these changes were perfectly fine and better matched what I wanted out of the scarf both for practicality and for aesthetics.

The tutorial was pretty easy to follow.  I got a little confused when I was joining the two short ends together, but then I realized I wasn’t turning the whole scarf right side out, but rather pulling it “half way” so I could line up the short ends.  Also, since I didn’t have batting in my scarf, I was able to use a much smaller “pull through” hole on the long side seam.  Instead of 8 inches, I did about 3.

I love the look of my final scarf.  My only complaint is that it is a little stiff.  I’ve seen a few tutorials on making t-shirts softer, so I might give that a try.  I love that fat quarters are fairly inexpensive, and they allow for lots of customization.  I plan on making more of these scarves, and maybe even giving them as gifts.  I have some other (non fat quarter) fabric that I think I will try it with as well. They are just so easy and you feel pretty accomplished when you are done!

Dog Collar

I have greyhounds, so that means we use martingale collars.  These collars are used with dogs like greyhounds because their necks are as large as, or sometimes larger than, their heads.  These collars are designed to not slip off the dog’s neck due to a looping system.  The ones I use look like this. This specific style is useful because it allows for some individual sizing, so I can switch it between my dogs.  Before the move, I asked one of the foster moms to make me two collars so the boys could have fancy collars in addition to the regular webbing collars.

I love how they look, and now I want more, especially because I need to wash the collars on a semi-frequent basis due to all the red dust out here.  Today, I’m going to do my best to walk you through how I made my own collar.

Materials

  • Fabric (one fat square would work)
  • Stiff, fusible interfacing
  • A sewing machine
  • 2 Square rings
  • 1 Split square ring
  • 1 D ring

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Process

  1. Cut your fabric. I cut two 18” x 2.5” strips and two 12” x 2.5” strips from the fabric. I cut one 17” x 2” strip and one 11” x 2” strip from the interfacing.
  2. Center and iron one piece of interfacing to one long strip and one short strip on the wrong side of the fabric.
  3. Make a tube out of your long strips by putting the right sides together and sewing down the long side seams using a 1/4” seam allowance.  Make sure to backstitch at each end.
  4. Trim the seams close to the stitching, careful not to cut the stitches.
  5. Repeat steps three and four with the short  strips.
  6. Turn your tubes right side out. Be gentle, but make sure to push out at all seams. Fold the unseen end edges of the tube inward. Iron everything flat.
  7. Topstitch around the ironed tubes.  This will close the ends and give it a finished look.  It is up to you where you topstitch, but I stitched at about 1/8”.  I just pivoted in each corner.
  8. Take the long strip and split square ring.  Loop the end of the strip through the right part of the ring and sew the end down so the square ring is now “trapped” at the end of the split square.
  9. Loop through one of the square rings, and come back to the split ring. On the right side of the split ring, come up from under the end you sewed down, go over the splitter, then come back down and under the left side of the split square.
  10. Loop the open end through a square ring and sew closed, trapping this ring like you did with the other end.
  11. You should now have a square ring that leads into the split ring and a loop with another square ring at the end (or middle of the loop, depending on how you look at it).
  12. Take the short strip and create a loop that goes through the two end square rings.  When sewing this closed, insert the D ring between the end flaps. Sew on either side of the D ring to close the loop and trap the D ring.
  13. That’s it!  You’re done!

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Tips and Tricks

  • This is a million times easier if you have a collar, or at least a picture of a collar to look at for the structure.  I did my best in my descriptions, but it really makes a difference to have a reference.
  • I, somehow, bought the wrong side D ring, so it was too small. Simple fix (seen above):  just add a little square of fabric that is smaller to hold the D ring.  This also allowed me to add the flower in the picture.  The flower had an alligator clip that I slipped into the fabric square.
  • I didn’t like the quality of the finished product when I took the pictures for the process, so I started over.  It does take time to make everything look good and clean.  Find some scrap fabric and make a few mock collars until you feel comfortable with the process. I didn’t bother with interfacing for the mock collars.
  • I like to actually start by cutting my pieces larger than the final product, and then trimming down to the final size.  For example, I actually made all of my first cuts 1/2” wider than the final measurements, and then I took a quarter inch off each side. This allowed me to try and really get precise, even cuts.  I need to do things like that to make it as precise as possible, but you might be a better cutter than I am.
  • I got my measurements from an existing collar that I added seam allowances to.  If you have a dog that is bigger or smaller than my greyhounds, you’ll need to adjust the length of the strips.  I used 2” rings because I like the larger look on my dogs, but your strips might be thinner if your dog doesn’t look as good with a big collar.  Just remember to add seam allowance.
  • I used fat quarters for my fabric. This is a pretty economical way of getting collar fabric because it is often cheap (99cents each in my case), and it usually comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Once you have the basics done, look for embellishments.  The flower I used was in the clearance section.  Since it’s on the alligator clip, I can add or remove it as I see fit. You could also make a bow or add some rhinestones. There are tons of customization options.

Analysis

Overall this project wasn’t that hard. I messed up a few times when I first started trying to make it, but I slowly learned things like the best order to sew the closures. I can probably make one collar in forty-five minutes now. If you have a friend with a dog, this can be a great personalized gift to share with him or her.

 

10 Minute Skirt

I hope everyone had a fun holiday weekend!  The husband and I went hiking.  I got a mild sunburn, but it was a lot of fun.  Our little section of Arizona has some great parks that were fun to explore.  In addition to hiking, I also decided to do a quick little sewing project.  And when I say quick, I mean quick!  It only took me 10 minutes!  Today I’m going to show you how to make a 1o minute skirt.  You will need:

  • A knit jersey pillow case
  • Elastic
  • A sewing machine and thread

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Process

  1. Take the pillow case, and cut open the bottom so you now have a tube of fabric.
  2. Measure your waist. Cut the elastic 1 inch larger than your waist if you want the skirt to ride a skosh loose on the hips. Cut the elastic exactly at the measurement if you want to have the skirt be a skosh snug at the hips.
  3. Sew together the elastic (making sure not to twist it) so you have an elastic loop.
  4. Using the end of the pillowcase that you cut, sew the elastic into the waist by folding over the cut edge and sewing the elastic into a “tube.”
  5. You’re done!  Because the pillow case already has a folded hem on the opening, there is nothing else to do!

Hints and Tips

  • If your waist measures larger than the pillowcase, cut open the side seams before inserting the elastic and add a stripe of fabric down either side.
  • If you want a shorter skirt, simply cut off more at the waist before sewing in the elastic.
  • You could easily add pockets or a slit to the skirt if you don’t like the straight, maxi look.
  • There are many ways to put elastic into a waist.  If you don’t like (or don’t understand) the way I did, simply follow your favorite technique.
  • I love buying clearance sheet sets as a source of fun fabric. I had pulled out this sheet set to make a skirt, took a look at the pillow case that came with it and thought to myself, “this is going to be easier than I thought!” The best time to buy clearance jersey sheet sets is when the back to school and college supplies go on sale at Target.
  • I used a jersey pillowcase because otherwise my steps would be very small because there would be no stretch when I was walking. If you make the skirt shorter or add a slit, you probably could also do this with a regular cotton pillowcase.  I haven’t tried, so I don’t know.