Sunday, March 14, 2010

Playing with My Embroidery Machine

This machine is awesome, but has NOT been one I could just pick up and start using successfully. I have done a lot of “trial and error” work, and I have a long, long ways to go. Some letters come out better than others. The “T” is giving me bunches of trouble because I am OCD on everything being geometrically correct and lined up just so-so. The upper case T’s leave a tiny little break in the thread at the top middle of the letter, and it’s driving me nuts. Patience is definitely going to be the order of the day as I learn to use this machine. The needle threader is GREAT!!!! The one on the quilting machine was a pain in the neck from the beginning, and it no longer even comes near to working; this one is wonderful. It works without failure and makes my life so much less complicated. My eyes love it! The thread cutter is just icing on the cake. It’s like getting the best present ever from Santa. No more do I find myself looking for the scissors I mistakingly knocked on the floor. Maybe I will be lucky and find a tutorial for using the machine. That would be a great find!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A New Sewing Machine

I have been reading reviews and watching for some weeks now the Brother Embroidery and Sewing Machine SE-350 at our local Walmart. Originally the machine was priced over $400.00, but since it is being discontinued at Wmart, the two left were reduced to $299.00. After fretting and stewing about the cost and whether I really wanted or needed another machine, I decided to bite the bullet and get it. Well, I am happy as a clam. It is MUCH heavier than my Brother XR-7700 Quilting and Sewing machine , and it runs quieter, is computerized, cuts my thread for me automatically at the end of a seam, and actually has a REAL carrying handle and a cloth cover. It seems like a far sturdier machine than my first. The instructional DVD which comes with the machine is well done, easy to follow, and very helpful. I also have my old Singer Featherweight which has been overhauled and is as good as new. That is one of the best machines ever made....heavy duty and dependable. It’s a great one for quilters.If you are interested in knowing more about them, this is a wonderful website devoted entirely to the old Featherweights - April1930s.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ragged Square Quilts

Making my Ragged Square Quilts was just the most fun. Not knowing what I was getting into, I decided first to use the concept to make a dolly quilt. Following the wonderful tutorial on Crazy Mom Quilts, I used rectangular scraps from my scrap box. My sandwich was white flannel on the bottom, Heritage batting for the center, white flannel for the top, and then I stitched the little rectangular pieces on top of all three layers. The last thing I did was sew the binding around the edges and put the label on the back.

I was so tickled with the way it turned out, I could’t wait to start the lap quilt. Since I did not have many coordinated red and black fabrics, I went to our local quilting shop and treated myself to 12 - 1/4 yard pieces of really nice fabrics and a one yard piece of batik for the back. The red and black strips were from Moda jelly rolls. Mixing and matching the large, medium, and small squares for the top was a challenge, but it also was lots of fun. For the binding I used left over pieces from the top, and this was my first “one piece” binding following a tutorial by Heather Bailey entitled “Continuous Quilt Binding Directions.” The quilt turned out to fit a little breakfast table I have in my kitchen perfectly, so it is now being used as a colorful tablecloth instead of a lap quilt.
Here is the layout of the squares before stitching.

These photos show how the squares ravel after prepared to pull a LOT of little strings!The more you wash it the cuter it becomes.

My finished lap quilt turned tablecloth.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Making Quilt Labels

Whenever I make a quilt or any sewn, knitted, or quilted gift, I make a label for it saying I made it, when, where, and for whom. On lap quilts and larger ones, I write the information on a rectangular piece of white muslin with a Pigma Micron archival in pen #01, sew a border around it using left over pieces of fabric, and then whip it to the back of the quilt by hand using small blind stitches. I select a font and size in Microsoft Word, type in the information, print it out, and then trace over it onto the muslin. For totes, large and small, I use Shrinky Dink plastic. Usually I use the frosted or clear sheets and write on them with Sharpie pens. I punch one hole in each corner before baking, and use those little holes for sewing the label to the item. For knitted hats and scarves, I punch only one hole in upper right hand corner of the Shrinky Dink, and then after baking I thread a piece of narrow gross grain ribbon through hole and tie the label to the item. Both styles are easy and lots of fun to make.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

T-Shirt Quilt

My nephew, Gabe, will be 8 years old this year, and I wanted to make him a little quilt for his bunk bed. I call it his “Henry T-Shirt Quilt”. Two years ago my daughter made my grandson, Henry, a great quilt top from his favorite outgrown T-shirts and used warm and wonderful feeling fleece for the backing. I thought it was such a neat idea it I decided to make one for him. I used 12 t-shirt squares - all the fronts and a few of the backs - and the side borders and backing were navy fleece. I made a small pillow, 2 pillow cases out of the extra T-shirts, and the left over pieces of cotton I stripped together for the binding. It was a fun project, and for it the fleece worked out great. Once again, I used the Heritage batting for the center. The end product was one warm, soft, and cozy quilt that fits his bunk bed perfectly. After completing the project, I actually found a good site to go to for help named Tee Shirt Quilts. It is full of pictures, suggestions, and instructions that are easy to understand and follow.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eloise’s Bunting Birthday

My granddaughter will be 5 years old this year so I decided to make bunting flags following a tutorial I found by TeresaDownUnder. Each triangle is a different pink print while the backs are all pink and white gingham. The gross grain ribbon is pink and white polka dots. If it is for Eloise, it has to be PINK!!!!! I appliqued the letters with my machine using the blanket stitch. I have found that it seems to work the best for me. This project was lots of fun and not difficult. It took time and patience to do the applique, but the rest was a snap. The tutorial was excellent with great pictures and easy to follow instructions.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Making a Mini Book

A number of years ago I received the sweetest little mini book from a fellow knitter I met online at a spinning/weaving/knitting site. It was entitled "An Irish Breakfast." If only I had her name and address somewhere, I would give her credit for that precious little gift. The cover paper was a combination of green and white polka dots and shamrocks, and on the inside she had stamped and colored different items from an Irish breakfast. It remains one of my favorite little treasures. There is nothing like giving and receiving handmade gifts. I decided to try to replicate it, but it was not as easy as it looked. Folding the poster board correctly was a challenge, and it took a lot of patience getting the cover papers to fit and seal properly. Then making the correct number of fan folds for the inside and folding them correctly really confused me. Being that I did not have any of the stamps, I had to sketch each of the little pictures by hand and then color them. After several attempts, I finally came up with a rough copy, but it was nothing like the one given to me. Still, I am happy with the way it turned out, and I hope my special friend gets a kick out of it. I have a lot of fun coming up with little things to include in goodie bags for my friends. The internet is overflowing with tutorials and no end of ideas that do not cost an arm and a leg and do not take so long to make. A good tutorial for making mini books is at LostButtonStudio.