Saturday, December 15, 2012

Race to the New Year!

It seems like this week has totally gotten away from me. I worked six days this week and had events and activities going on almost every day. So the beginning of my quilt top, is still just a quilt top as of today (Saturday). I need to get the batting and backing and when I made it to Joann's I had another project in order so I decided to focus on that project.

I am a proud Wildcat, having graduated from Central Washington University and the University of Arizona. So when I saw NCAA fabrics were on sale at Joann's purchased the U of A print and some ASU print. Then I got coordinating broad cloth fabrics to the prints. I have quite a few friends who went to UA or ASU so I thought they would make great holiday presents. 

On Thursday, I got the fabrics and started cutting out my 5 inch squares.  


I produced enough squares to make 32 coasters, 16 UA and 16 ASU. This way I could make sets of 4.
Cutting went pretty fast, I was able to cut 5 inch strips and then used a 5 inch block ruler to cut those strips down. I recently got this chart which comes in a word document that I got from the linked website and it is great because it let me know that from a yard of fabric I should be able to get 56 5 inch squares. So even with my cuts for all of the coasters thus far I still have about 1/2 a yard of each fabric to play with or make more coasters from. 

To make the coasters the most time consuming part is ironing the coordinator fabrics in half. Thankfully my wonderful husband helped me do about 1/4 of them on Thursday night so I was able to complete 8 coasters by the end of the night. 

Today I finished making the additional 24 coasters, to do this I made an assembly line process. First I ironed and then stacked all the fabrics, then I did the first sew, next I cut the corners and inverted the coordinating fabrics, then did the second sew to ensure the middles met appropriately. Then I took all 24 and cut off the little strings and such. It took me about 3 hours to complete all of this but when I was done I was very happy with the results 

Bear Down, Arizona!


For the tutorial link on how to make these coasters be sure to check out my past post 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekend Update

This weekend went by way to fast! So instead of making three post to cover Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I'm just going to put everything in one post. 

Friday I didn't get much time to work on my quilting, I mainly looked up potential patterns to try to decide what I would want to do with the items that came in my Craftsy grab bag box that I purchased. 

Items In my Craftsy Grab Bag (Fabric Covered Journal, 4 2 inch by 2 inch Moda Mini Charm Packs, a May Fair charm pack, a Roll of 20 coordinating fabrics that are 6 inches wide and 44 inches long, and a Robert Kauffman Fat Quarter Bundle of 10 coordinating fabrics. 
On Friday I didn't decide on what to start next, but I did update my Craftsy account to add my latest projects, including my completed candle mats. When I did that I also pinned the info to my Pinterest. And to my surprise before bed while I was surfing pinterest I saw that Craftsy had repinned my own pin--- and from that 25 people had also pinned it! 

Of Course, I took a Photo of it to share!
As of tonight (Sunday) 42 people have repinned and 8 have liked it! Made me very proud! 

Saturday was spent mainly at work, I worked in the morning and then had my office holiday party in the evening. To ensure I got my next project going I picked a pattern to work of with my Craftsy grab box materials. I decided to use inspiration from Melissa at the Polka Dot Chair blog. She had made quick and easy quilts for her kids using blocks of 6.5 inch by 9.5 inch fabrics. I decided to use my 6 inch cuts to build this quilt so I wouldn't have to do a bunch of cutting. My blocks would be 6 inches by 8.5 I decided because this would allow me to get five blocks from each fabric and have very little waste. So between work and the holiday party I got started on ironing and cutting out my blocks, but didn't get much further than that. 

Sunday, I spent the morning baking cookies for our HOA's annual Ladies Luncheon and Cookie Exchange, but when I returned from the luncheon I set forth working off the calories by cutting fabric. I got all my blocks cut out (with only one small miss cut-- where I cut 2 blocks an inch shorter than they needed to be) and then took them to the living room to space plan. 

I liked how in Melissa's quilt she had a row that was offset, and you cut the first block in that row in half and then moved the second part of it to the end of that row. So I did my planning and decided instead of doing 7 blocks across, and 12 blocks down as I planned I would do 6 blocks by 12 and it'd be a good size for use in our living room. 

I went forth with sewing each row together, first the ones with all standard blocks, then the ones with the 1/2 block, I chain pieced each row, and ironed them all at once instead of between stitchings, this saved me a ton of time. I should have done that when I was working on the Christmas Tree Skirt (Live and Learn I guess!). 

Once I started linking the rows I realized that the rows with the 1/2 blocks were a 1/4 inch shorter than the whole block rows due to seam allowance. I also had found the blocks weren't all a perfect 6 inches tall. So when I got everything sewed together I laid it out on my living room floor and took my long ruler to one side and started trimming. I ended up getting it cut straight 66.5 Inches Long by 46.5 Inches Wide, can't say I had a good method for doing this but I got the job done and was happy with the result. 

I have to say I would have never chose the fabrics on my own, but I love them. I'm a huge fan of purple and the husbands a big fan of green so this will look really nice in our house. 





To finish the quilt I'll need to go get backing fabric, batting, and a binding fabric (which I'm thinking solid purple for both of those). I can't wait to get going on finishing the quilt so we can use it. I will probably choose to stitch in the ditch which is what Melissa of Polka Dot Chair did.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Candle Mats

As I shared yesterday, my goal today was to create Candle Mat's that could be used as gifts, my inspiration for this was a Pinterest pin of an Etsy product (which if you don't want to make yourself you can buy for about $15). 

After purchasing some white fabric and navy fabric I decided to make my candle mats with the navy snowman fabric I had been using in my holiday projects. I love this fabric because it's holiday but doesn't scream Christmas. 

To make my candle mats I wanted to do a 10.5 by 10.5 square, and I didn't want to have to make 8 half square triangles per candle mat, so I made large pin wheels with only four sides. So all together I created 3 candle mats, with the use of 6 HST's made from originally 6 inch by 6 inch square (I make them big and cut them down to ensure it looks like had good accuracy). The first square I did on it's own, but when I started the second I decided to do all the cuts for the third as well and produce them at the same time, turned out to be a great idea because I wasn't switching task all the time. 

I used pinwheel instructions from Quilts for Kids which is a non-profit organization that collects quilts for kids who have illnesses or hardships going on in their lives. (Seems like a good organization, and once I get to making quilts I would love to do something like this.) 

The three mats turned out really well I think, I loved how the backs turned out the most. 


The back almost looks like a snowflake pattern because I kept my bobbin thread white.

On the top I quilted each individual pinwheel, for white I used navy thread, for the snowman fabric I used white thread. And handy dandy,stitch 23. 
The interesting thing about stitching these versus my last projects is I was just using regular cotton thread so I was able to up the speed on my machine to full blast and it was fun! I zipped right through each pinwheel segment. I also kept my 1/4 foot quilting foot on the machine which I don't know should have been left on, but it allowed me to make sure I was leaving the right amount of space so all of the pinwheel segments were quilted in the same way. 


All Three Completed Candle Mats, one with a candle to show scale. 


This is a candle mat on top of our sub-woofer. I figured if it's going to be in the living room it might as well be festive. 
Just another picture but on our end table. 
I am certainly glad I made three, I might make a few more even. I am going to keep one for myself and I have two that will be gifts and I'm super excited to finally get to share my quilted pieces with other people. 

Now I just need to get some quilting tags so I can put created by on each one :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Day Without Sewing

With the completion of the tree skirt, I needed to take some time today to explore what would be my next project. Instead of working on putting together a few random blocks for practice I went to the Internet to explore patterns. I found a bunch of fun patterns through www.craftsy.com, as well as McCall's, and www.free-quilting.com. I saved them on my computer and my pinterest to help me keep track of ideas. 

By the end of the night I decided my project for tomorrow will be to make Candle Mats. I saw a few on Craftsy as well as pinterest and they are really cute and they'd make the perfect secret santa project for my office. My inspiration candle mat was this from Pinterest via Etsy.


I loved the pinwheels and that they quilted each individual wheel. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Finished Project: Christmas Tree Skirt!


 Tuesdays I work late so I always spend the first hour of the day doing laundry and watching the latest episode of the amazing race. Once I had both those tasks in motion I got back to working on the tree skirt. I had my binding complete from last night, so the first order of business was to cut the opening in the tree skirt and then pin the binding so it could be attached.

Cutting the opening was a bit scary but instead of going circular like the video I chose a square opening. I think it looks nicer and I figured it'd be easier to bind.

As I shared a few days back in regard to binding, I'm about speed and efficiency so machine binding is all I'm currently interested in. I watched a great tutorial on Riley Blake Designs website on how to machine bind and decided to try their method. Instead of binding from on top and them matching the seams to the bottom, this method had me attaching the binding to the bottom and rolling it to the top and sewing from the top, where you could see what was and was not getting sewn. Way smart.

Let me tell you the cutout was literally the hardest part to bind. One because there was no excess batting to need to cover so you have some more fabric to bring over than you do else where and two because the corners were so short it was hard to miter them.

I got the whole skirt bottom binding attached then flipped it to the front to begin pinning so I could see it to the top. When I got to the cutout I decided it wasn't working, it just seemed like to much fabric so I got out the seam ripper and took it apart. Then I re-positioned and sewed it again, well I ended up sewing it the same way, but when I was done this time I got it to be more manageable and was able to pin it in a way I liked.

I finally went at sewing the top binding on and thankfully it almost completely turned out as I had anticipated! Woo! Especially because I was at this point 15 minutes before I needed to leave for work! I took it to the living room so I could lay it flat and take photos and only found two areas where I'll need to go back and rip the seam and resew but thankfully thy were small areas!!

So happy to have this second project complete and cannot wait to use it on our tree!

*** UPDATE*** Now that I'm home from work I seam ripped the three areas that needed attention and resewed them, they look beautiful! I also now have the skirt under our tree (pictures below!)

Cutting the opening for the tree. Scary but manageable. 






Completed Skirt, I love the the middle closes on it's own so you don't have to tie it shut.

Completed Skirt, showing off the opening. 

Showing front and back fabrics. The backing fabric is cute so I might  reverse this every couple of days so I can enjoy both sides!


Completed Skirt looking at it head on. The opening is on the right side as the backing fabric and some of the Merry Christmas Fabrics on the front side are one directional.

The Reverse of the Tree Skirt!
Closeup of Cutout Binding

Closeup of Front and Back Binding




Completed Skirt Serving Its Purpose! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Matching fabrics and preparing binding

Today during lunch my goal was to find a backing fabric, border fabric and batting for the tree skirt that is underway. I took two of my completed coasters with me to Hobby Lobby to help me in matching the process. For the backing and binding I ended up choosing a red fabric with white polka dots, and for the backing a white fabric with green and red Christmas trees. For the batting I choose a type called natural and warm. For the batting I decided to buy extra for fear that I'd calculated my finished piece size incorrectly. As for the binding and border I knew based on the Missouri Quilt video I needed at least 15 inches for the border and so I believe I decided on 25 inches worth to ensure I had the right amount of it for the border and binding.

When I got home I cut out my border pieces and attached them as instructed in the video. The method they used to have all the borders be straight edges was a blessing! So easy. Next I had to take the backing fabric, batting and tree skirt and pin them together for quilting.

Last week my fantastic quilting teacher had shown me how to use a large piece of cardboard (mine was left over from a large piece of furniture we'd purchased) to secure your backing fabric right side down with pins to ensure it was as tight as possible. After getting the backing secured I needed to lay down the batting. The type I bought was having static cling to everything it touched so the hubby helped me lay it out on the backing fabric. Next we laid out the skirt top an I was able to begin pinning. I pinned the outer border and then squares within. I saw one video in my research that says you should have pins one fist apart from each-other, but there was no way I was going to spend the time putting a pin in all 64 squares. I think I had 24 all together.

After pinning I cut the excess patting and binding down to .5 inches from the edge of the border. This helped a lot when I started quilting. For my Table Runner I had all the excess batting still attached which made it hard to maneuver in the sewing machine. I quilted four areas using stitch 29 again (I think it's my favorite). I used silver rayon thread and did the stitching at speed two. Another great tip my quilting instructor taught me was with the Rayon strings the need room to move and if you put them where your normal spool goes they'll tighten up and potentially your string will break mid sew. So I did what she showed me, I got a coffee cup from the kitchen put the spool in it and in wound a little to release the tension and then set it up in my upper threader. This worked great! I was quilted the border, and 3 inside block sets as you'll see in the photos. I figured this would give good definition on the skirt top and bottom.

After all the quilting was done I cut my binding. I had five strips of about 40 inches each, I sewed the ends together and ironed them in half and finally called it a night.

Border sewed on, ready to meet the backing fabric and batting.



Close up of Skirt Top prior to pinning


Cardboard where I laid out and pinned all three pieces and then cut to size.
Backing Fabric
All three layers pinned together ready to quilt.
Closeup of the Top Stitching in Silver Rayon Thread
Closeup of backing, to show fabric as well as under stitching, if you look closely you'll see the 4 areas that were quilted.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gifts Galore!

Most of today was spent enjoy football, food, and the company of our friends. However, this evening I took some time to do a few quick quilting projects. 

As I mentioned yesterday evening, I wanted to make the Tissue Holder that was featured on the Riley Blake Designs website. To do this all you need is 3 pieces of 4 by 6 inch fabric. To make the tissue holder you form it inside out, then sew around the outside and invert to have your Right Sides showing. This was really quick and looks way cuter than carry around a plastic stash of klennex. I plan to make a few more of these, likely one with the peacock fabric, and the others from different fabrics I have a good amount of. 

Completed holder, showing tissue inside :)

Completed Holder Closed
Once completing this little project (less than 15 minutes!) I decided to see if I could reverse engineer my coffee coaster from yesterday to use less material. The Riley Blake Design pattern for the coffee coaster/hot pads calls for 5 squares of equal size, one square is your backing, and then the other 4 are ironed in half, and when you sew it together and invert it only 1/2 of each fabric still shows... this lead me to wonder if you really needed the underside of fabric. So I took the corners that I had cut off my Christmas Tree Skirt and used the seam ripper to borrow the 1/2 triangle squares then I cut down the 5 inch corner square to the size of the 2 half triangles (because they were cut just over 1/4 inch they weren't a full 5 inches together). Once I had this done I laid the fabrics the same way requested by the original pattern, but I did Wrong Sides up so when I inverted the Right Sides would come through. The results were just ok. In the original design the middle points of the fabrics meet but aren't sewn together which looks fine, but with this there was a good amount of gap, so I took my hand at sewing a few extra lines in to hold down the middle better.  The coaster turned out to be usable, but I wouldn't do this for future coasters, the original way was better. 

What I consider the Top

Bottom of Coaster
Once this was complete I decided to go back to the original pattern;  I had 15 charm squares left from my Mr. Claus set I'd ordered for the Christmas Tree Skirt, so I ended up using them to create 3 more coasters to go with the one I completed last night. 

Complete Set, Fronts of Each. To get the centers to meet I ended up pinning them and then sewing the outer border. 

Two Fronts, Two Backs. The Merry Christmas Fabric is on the back of all 4, 2 are Red, 2 are Green. It was the only fabric that required it go a specific direction so I figured I'd match it. 
So far that's what I've done for the evening, I might try a few more things but we'll see. I'll be sure to update if I do!