Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Too Slow

Arg! I so wanted to finish this quilt top today, but this is as far as I had gotten when I started to run out of daylight. Everything still photographed pretty well even in the lateness of the afternoon. Just wait till summer. I can take photos really late in the day then ;-)

One of those rows isn't sewn on yet, it's just pinned and folded over for this photo.

I did manage to get all of the blocks pieced and the rows put together. Now I'm just trying to blow through the sashing so I can move this quilt into the sandwiching phase. In the crazy perfect world that I pretend to live in, I will have binding on both the pink and blue quilts on Friday night. Now that I type it out, it does seem really crazy. That's still my goal, though. Sometimes you just have to go for crazy.

I really like the way that all of the pieced blocks turned out. I also sewed them all into their rows with the correct orientation. Not so much for the pink quilt. Don't worry, I'll show photos of them when they're both done so you can appreciate the goofiness of my little mistake.

I did go to the trouble to fussy cut this little bird on a branch. Hi birdie! He's so precious.

I followed around a little green quaker parrot while waiting for lunch today. He's part of a wild flock that lives in Austin. I'm in love with them.

I hope your Tuesday was full of nice birdies, too!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tutorial: Testing for Color Fastness

You know about my fear of dyes bleeding in finished quilts. Yikes.

I'm in Louisiana visiting my parents this weekend, so I brought along a little hand sewing. Before I cut up more scraps for rose star blocks, I wanted to test the color fastness of some fat quarters I bought. While you're usually pretty safe with quality quilt store fabrics, jewel tones make me nervous. Especially because I like to incorporate so much white in my quilts right now.

To test the color fastness, I gathered the questionable fabrics, some scissors, a container of hot, soapy water, and some paper towels.

I clipped a corner of each fabric, so I could test a small sample.

I dunked each clipping in the hot, soapy water and rubbed them with my fingers to make sure they were fully saturated. Then I pulled them out of the water and blotted them with a paper towel. If any dye transferred, I set that sample aside.

Here's a shot of a paper towel with dye transferred on it. It was hard to get a picture that successfully showed the dye transfer until the paper towel was dry. 

Some fabrics were clearly going to be problematic, and there was enough trace dye transfer that I went ahead and hand washed all of the fat quarters in hot, soapy water. Since there were only a few, I just agitated them in a large stock pot which I sat in the bottom of the sink. I did one load with the reds, pinks, and oranges and another load with the purples and blues.

You can see how much purple dye came out of the fabric when I poured out the water. I rinsed all of them and set aside the two which wouldn't quit putting off dye.

We had a fire going, so I just clipped a few at a time to the fire screen a safe distance away from the flames and ironed them once they were dry enough. I didn't want to put them in the dryer, because the fat quarters are too small. So much of the ends would ravel you'd lose a great deal of fabric.

I made sure to mark the two fabrics which wouldn't stop putting off dye with a note reminding me not to use them in any laundered projects. Maybe I'll save this pretty aqua and aubergine for some fabric flowers.

It takes very little time to test your fabric for color fastness. It's worth it to prevent the horror of pulling a quilt out of the washing machine to find that dyes bled into the lighter fabrics.

I hope everyone gets to do some sewing this weekend. Happy Crafting!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Worldwide Craftsy Meetup

Have you heard about Craftsy? It's awesome. It's like having a master in her craft come over to your house for some coffee and creating. I can't even remember how I found out about Craftsy in the fall, but I signed up for Quilting Quickly with Jenny Doan and was instantly hooked.

It is so much fun to sew along with an expert in your sewing room. I love how the classes are incredibly informative and you can rewind as often as you like. Even more, you can write questions to the instructor and she will reply. I love it!

Craftsy took it upon themselves to sponsor a worldwide Meetup today. Since I have left my day job in search of craftier pursuits, I offered to find a place where Craftsy's Austin fans could gather and socialize. Fortunately for me, April Kling Meyer recently opened Austin's newest fabric shop, Fabricker in a very central location. She generously offered up her space and the use of her fabric scrap stash, needles, and thread for all of our crafting desires. So many Austinites were excited to come out and craft that we made Craftsy's top ten list. They sent us some swag to win in a trivia game that was hysterical! We laughed a lot tonight.

A community Pinterest board was used to pick a project we could make in a group setting, and fabric flowers were the winner. I used some fabulous felt from Stitch Lab to craft up these lovelies.

I followed tutorials here and here.

I attempted this one as well. Alas, just like I was lamenting to Rachel Hauser with Stitched in Color yesterday, they can't all be winners.

If only I had the ultrasuede in my stash that the Martha Stewart tutorial uses, maybe it would have turned out better. Fun fact: I did speak to Martha Stewart on the phone once in my previous job. That was probably as close as it ever got to having anything to do with crafts. Well, except for one manager who really went out of his way to find outlets for my creativity. Kudos to him!

Do check out Craftsy. They're not sponsoring this free advertising. I just like to spread the word about good things. Amy Gibson with Sew Mama Sew actually partnered with Craftsy to do a free Block of the Month class that will run through the year. The class shows you how to quilt and bind as well, so you'll definitely have a finished quilt at the end of the year. Pretty great!

I hope everyone had an equally awesome and creative Thursday! I'm linking up with Somewhat Simple.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Three Quilts and a Block

I'm so excited I was able to finish quilting my pink baby quilt yesterday.

I love how it's looking, and I'm pumped to square it off and bind it. I just have to decide what fabric to bind it with, and then have it magically materialize in my hands. Doing some shopping or ordering some binding fabric offline would be a more traditional approach, but seeing as I haven't done that yet, I guess I'm still counting on magic.

I was also able to lay out the fabrics for a blue baby quilt and do all of the cutting for it. Since I wrote down directions from my first trial and error go of it with the pink quilt, cutting the background fabric for the blue baby quilt went super fast. Yay! I'll probably make at least one more of these before I finalize the pattern. I want to make sure the cutting process is straightforward and fabric usage is maximized.

I broke apart three Cape Ann charm packs to make these two quilts. Unfortunately, the super cute fabrics with the children's clothing on it mostly featured girls' clothes. I couldn't make them work for the boy's quilt, so I pilfered a few squares from a Pezzy Print charm pack and one from a Terrain charm pack. Phew! That's why it's good to keep a few charm packs on hand.

I get to gift these quilts to the children of two sisters. The little girl who gets the pink quilt is already here, but her boy cousin is still on the way.

In other sewing news, my Storm at Sea quilt still sits idly by.

Also, I haven't made any additional English paper pieced rose star blocks. However, I did buy some new fabric last week with more blocks in mind. I would love to use some of these fabrics for a Sparkle Punch quilt as well.

I haven't sewn this block together yet. Now that I have more fabric, the general idea is to break this one apart and substitute some of the pieces with colors that go together better. I just don't have enough scraps for these scrappy projects. I'm really tempted to just buy a half yard of whatever fabric different stores and sites have on sale in order to build up my stash.

I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced, Sew Much AdoSomeday Crafts, and Under the Table and Dreaming! Check out what other hump day projects folks are working on :-)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thoughts on Yardage

I spent some quality time with this baby quilt last night as I sandwiched it and started quilting.

I love the speed with which everything comes together when you are making a baby quilt. I could probably finish quilting this project today. How awesome would that be? I'll keep you posted. I probably won't bind it until later, though. I'm not really loving anything in my stash for the binding. I guess I could buy yardage in one of the fabrics from the squares. We'll see.

I'm using cotton batting. I bought a king size piece and cut it into smaller pieces to make baby quilts. Since the batting was on sale, it seemed like an economical approach.

Quilting can be expensive. When you're trying to make an heirloom, though, you have to find the balance between quality and quantity. Knowing what I want and waiting for a sale has saved me some cash, but I've also seen the bolts of fabric I want get smaller and smaller. Then I have to pay retail and shipping to get the fabric from an online source. Oops.

I've enjoyed making this baby quilt out of a charm pack. It does make me nervous about putting it in the wash, though. The great thing about buying yardage and cutting your own pieces is that you can wash and dry your fabric before you incorporate it into a quilt which takes hours of time to create.

Sure, washing and drying takes time. Plus, you have to iron your fabric when it comes out of the dryer. You know that's not my favorite activity. I wouldn't enjoy colors running all over my finished quilt after its first time in the washing machine, though. That would be a tear-inducing tragedy. A great gal who I met through my local modern quilt guild just had this experience. I know she'd tell you it's not something she wants to go through again.

I wanted to incorporate some reds into a new quilt project, so I bought a few fat quarters. They're lovely, but they terrify me. A fat quarter is too small to put through the washing machine, though I would happily machine wash as little has a half yard of fabric. When it comes to smaller jewel toned pieces, I have to test them for colorfastness before I start sewing with them. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't sleep at night. If you haven't done this before, just put a little soap in some warm water and dunk a bit of your potentially-quilt-ruining fabric in the water. Pull it out and blot it with a scrap of white quilting fabric. If the color transfers, steer clear of using it.

Phew! I feel a little better just talking about it. Quilt trauma. It's not good. Have any of you experienced the awful shock of colors running in a finished project? Did you have any success salvaging it? I'd love to hear about it.

I'm linking up with Quilt Story, Schwin & Schwin, Creative Itch, and Sugar Bee Crafts! Many thanks to these sites for introducing me to so many creative folks and their amazing work. It's great to check these sites later in the day when there is so. much. eye candy. Enjoy!

Fresh Poppy Design

Creative Itch

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quality Time with My Iron

Whew! I have had a crazy last few days. With my toe getting better, I was long overdue for one of those days full of errands. You know the ones, seven different stores in five hours or so. Then you unload the groceries when you get home. Good times.

It wasn't all work, though. I did have to get some fabric for some quilt backs while I was out, and you know how that turns into other fabric purchases as well. I was literally looking up yardage requirements for new projects on my phone while eyeing bolts of fabric at the store. Yay for gift cards from Christmas. I also washed all of that yardage when I got home. I was queen of the laundry room.

We had lovely weather in Austin on Friday, so I really had to pay some attention to the yard. We had a few giant invaders who had only been growing taller while my toe was limiting my mobility. Pretty shameful.

Saturday was ironing day. Ironing is the weeding of quilting. I do not enjoy it. Is there any way of making it fun? Is there a super awesome iron I should buy? I don't know. It's just not enjoyable to me. Because I had put off ironing for so long, I had about thirty yards of fabric to iron. Yikes. At least I get to turn it into beautiful quilts now, right? There's the silver lining!

I was determined to finish the top of this baby quilt yesterday, but I wasn't able to work on it for long before my sister came over to knock out a project on her to-do list. We set up a sweatshop and turned out twenty-three decorative towels . . . or napkins. They were supposed to be tea towels, but the fabric picked out by a group of non-sewing gals was completely synthetic. It was a bear to iron and sew, but we got them knocked out in about five hours.

After that, I kept on sewing until midnight. I had to finish the top of this baby quilt. It was my goal, and there was no way I was going to fall short.

I was so thrilled to get this top done. I haven't had a finished quilt top in this house since November, so it's definitely time! I can't wait to meet this little baby at her aunt's baby shower in a few weeks. Now I'm going to make a blue one for boy cousin who is on the way!

I'm linking up with Sew Modern Monday on Canoe Ridge Creations and with Sew Happy Geek's Maniac Monday. Definitely check them out to see what other folks got done over the weekend!

Sew Happy Geek