fabric · quilting

Week 1: Fabric

It’s finally here! The Shining Star QAL from Suzy Quilts!

Isn’t it gorgeous?

In week 1 we choose our fabrics. I really struggled to decide! She released the pattern in late June and straight away I knew I wanted to make it and participate in the QAL, so I’ve been considering fabric for a long time.

I really like the two color version, but I wasn’t totally sold. The multicolored ones though seemed too busy for what I wanted. I hemmed and I hawed and I pawed through my stash and I consulted the swatches. Finally I had sort of an idea and made a test block.

Dark background, bright shining star.

I thought I wanted the stars to, well, shine. So I dug up some navy and limey yellow fabrics from my stash and whipped up a test block. And, yep, it was the right idea! But I didn’t really want blue and gold, since those are my school colors (I’m a high school teacher) and they didn’t quite have the pop and flair I wanted.

Purple wine with an ombre of stars

I decided to go for my favorite maroonypurpleyburgundy which is just the best color. Plum? Eggplant? Wine? Whatever you call it, it’s my hands down favorite.

Maybe this will be the layout, or maybe I’ll change my mind.

I went to one of my LQSs (I have something like 5, or maybe more, within 30 minutes) and bought the last of their Kona Raisin (fingers crossed I don’t run out) and chose 9 stained glass colors in shining star colors. This shop cuts FQs so I could just get what I needed of those.

Then I sat in the Jimmy John’s drive thru forever, so I had to pull it out and admire it while I waited.

Next week I think we cut into it and maybe even make the flying geese! I need to consult the schedule.

quilting · sewing

Approaching the finishline

Suzy Quilts’ next QAL for the Shining Star quilt starts today! BTW, the pattern is 30% off today if you read this in time. Of course I bought it yesterday to be prepared and missed the sale. Sigh.

But before I can launch into my next SQ-QAL, I must finish up the last step on the Holiday Party quilt I made in the fall. See, I finished the QAL in the throw size, but it was so enormous that I wanted to add a border and make it usable on the queen sized guest bed.

The top I finished last fall.

I had to purchase more of the white (Moda Bella 200) in order to add the border, which I did this spring, but then I just never got around to it. You know how it goes.

Finally adding the last six inches.

The new Shining Star pattern caught my eye though and Quilty Aunt and I decided to participate in the QAL together. That meant I really wanted to get those borders on so I can stop having that WIP hanging over my head.

After a bit of a disaster with the iron puking up rusty water on the snow white border (saved with liberally applied Shout and hopefully any shadow will disappear in the wash), I had the four borders on.

I didn’t take a picture of the iron stain because I was too busy panicking. But looks pretty white after the cleanup! Thanks, Shout!

I think for Shining Star I am going to avoid pure white fabric!

With the borders on, all that remained to declare the top finished was trim the hairy backside. I spread it on the floor and snipped off all the threads I could take. I mean, there’s only so much thread trimming I can handle without going a little bit nuts.

Look at all those threads!

Then I folded it up, ready for an appointment with the long arm rental place. And forgot to take a new top picture with the borders. Wompwomp. Oh well, I’ll post a totally finished picture after I quilt it!

The reverse side during the thread trim phase.

Fabric: Stay Gold collection by Ruby Star Society and Moda Bella 200.

Size: 88.5″ x 88.5″ after applying 6″ unfinished borders.

fabric · quilting

Making Swatch Cards

I love buying fun prints and patterned fabrics, and I love sewing with them; however, sometimes I need some solid fabrics to tone down a busy collection or to showcase an awesome print. In order to get good color matches, I ordered an Art Gallery Pure Solids swatch book.

The swatches, though, come all glued in lovely color coordinated columns that make it difficult to set colors side-by-side. The obvious answer is to cut them apart and make individual swatch cards that can be sorted and pulled and curated into palettes. There are several tutorials on other blogs as to how people have done this, including a post on SuzyQuilts and one on Modern Handcraft, but here’s how I accomplished the task.

The swatches all in a brilliantly colorful pile.

On the SuzyQuilts blog, the poster recommended purchasing cardstock and linked to the type she used. It was $15, though, and I didn’t really want to spend more money. That’s enough to purchase almost two yards of fabric, after all! Instead, I dug around on my shelves for something sturdy that would work.

Monogrammed cards from twelve years ago. I can let them go.

I found a box of monogrammed thank you cards from our wedding. We got married in 2010! These cards are beautiful with our initials on them and a gilded edge, but unfortunately they have both our first initials plus the B and just don’t seem to apply to any situation but sending thank you cards after a wedding. Those thank yous are long since written, mailed, read, and recycled and it’s time to find a new purpose for these cards. So I put an old blade on my rotary cutter and sliced a bunch up to make swatches.

The cards were 5″ x 8″ so I cut them into 2.5″ x 2″ pieces. Then I used an old roll of double-sided tape to stick the fabric on the front and back, taking advantage of the fold that was pre-creased by the way they were attached to the swatch book.

That Scotch double sided tape was ancient! Finally found its purpose.

The tutorials I looked at before beginning both cut up the name that had been printed on the swatch book and adhered it to the cards with the colors on them. That was an awful lot of cutting though — it required two cuts for each name to get it centered and neat. Also, the cardboard of the book was quite thick and I was concerned it wouldn’t adhere well enough for any sort of potentially rough handling, like if I tossed all the swatches in a box and they got all jumbled together and rifled through, which is totally how I operate. Instead, I decided to just write the name of each color on the bottom of the card. My handwriting is not the most consistent or beautiful, but I can read it (mostly) and it was easy and practical.

I ran out of the double-sided tape before the last two rows. I poked around my studio for a bit, looking for sticky stuff. I nixed the spray adhesive before I even got started due to containment issues. I found some scrap booking glue lines, but they were too lumpy. I didn’t like how craft glue discolored the swatches. The glue stick didn’t work at all. Finally I remembered a package of Ultra Hold Heat N Bond. This stuff is super thick and I’ve made the mistake of trying to applique with it, but it gunks up a needle terribly. (In fact, on the package it says Do Not Sew, if I only read the package I wouldn’t have ended up with gunky needles.) I tried the Heat N Bond on a scrap of fabric and a piece of card and it worked great, so I was back in business.

All done, phew!

Once I finished, it was time to play! All the writing out of color names had me thinking about my favorite names. I really like the clever ones that evoke the color without being too much of a normal name for that color. Cotton Candy? YAWN. Denim Blue? Snore. But Miami Sunset? Gorgeous! Mauvelous? Cute! Olive Oil? Perfection!

Olive Oil, Mauvelous, and Miami Sunset were particularly clever names

As I wrote, I also noticed quite a few watery names. One of the first things I had to do was gather together the oceanic colors and see how they looked together. Way to go Art Gallery, I think you captured the colors of the sea pretty darn well.

You can quilt with all the colors of the ocean.

I also found many food and drink names. I like how all the drinks put together make quite an interesting palette.

I would take a tray full of all of these, please.

Of course, then there were the names that just didn’t quite suit in my opinion. Chocolate is much too red for its name, and lemonade is too vibrant. Blueberry zest? What is that anyway? I know how to zest a citrus fruit, but not a berry, and really blueberries are dusty blue, not deep blue.

These three together are strangely primary.

Next I had to play with sorting by value, saturation, color family. So many ways to have fun with these cards!

So many different ways to sort them!

All together, this was a day well spent. Now I need to pick my next quilt palette.

A vibrant pile of color.
From the ends, they make a gorgeous gradient.

quilting · sewing

Ruby Star Rainbow

I reorganized the layout of my studio and it’s starting to feel like a space for creating. Before, it was just the room in the basement where I sew (and paint, and play with art supplies). Now it feels a bit more purposeful, even if it does still house the elliptical and the filing cabinet of boring paperwork.

I like the new furniture arangement, but something was still missing… wall art! Any good studio needs the maker’s art hung plentifully, in my opinion. So I have made a commitment to getting some mini quilts put together (and maybe I’ll even paint something for myself!).

Ruby Star Rainbow

Conveniently a group of pattern designers were offering a QAL of minis designed by different new designers so I signed up for the free patterns. My first finished mini is the Anna’s Star Block by Broadcloth Studio. I think once the QAL is finished she’s going to list the pattern for sale. I’m not sure if I’ll make any of the other minis from this collection, so far they’re not speaking to me.

I used Ruby Star Society fabric from both the Rise and Stay Gold collections. I love Ruby Star fabrics, the colors, the prints, the touch of metallic…gorgeous.

I quilted it using my walking foot on my little sewing machine. I knew I wanted the rainbow to be closely spaced diagonal lines, and the star to be something different, but I wasn’t sure what.

After consulting with my quilting aunt, I took her advice to do some point to point triangle things in the school of Angela Walters. From there I sort of ad libbed how to bring it all together and get a star effect.

I’ll show you the back if you’ll overlook the occasional bobbin barf.

I used plain muslin for the backing since it’ll only be hung on the wall. I bound it with a teal solid and stitched on the binding with the machine since you won’t see the back. I would not machine bind a bed or throw quilt because I don’t like the way it looks on the back, but I figured this was faster and I just wanted it done!

I hung it up with command strips so I can move it easily if I decide on a different placement as I finish more studio wall art.

Such a cheerful block for the wall!

sewing · studio

Helping Paws

I’ve recently moved my sewing things into a room in the basement, giving me a lot more space and a glorious window looking out into the forest, creek, and distant cow pasture that is my backyard.

Often, I share this new space with my feline friend Butternut. He has his own chair next to the sewing machine where he keeps me company.

Butternut’s chair is the one on the left with the padded seat.

He also enjoys checking the pattern layouts for the next garment. I have assembled the pieces of the Chi Town Chinos by Alina Sewing & Design. My next project is a pair of slate blue chino pants in this gorgeous fabric from Sewing Studio. Seriously, the color is amazing.

Gotta make sure the pages are glued together in the right order

Garment sewing aside, the most common project I make is covers for dog beds. Elbie loves a nice bed but gets the covers pretty gross. I recover her dog beds fairly regularly. A couple years ago, we got a new mattress topper and I sliced the old king-sized memory foam topper into rectangles and made several double-layered beds.

I had one piece left and when my husband moved his office to the upstairs (we basically switched spare rooms to give me more space and him a bit more comfort and accessibility), I decided to finally cover the last piece as an office bed for Elbs.

Comfy new office bed for a work from home dog.

Butternut had to do some quality control on the project and make sure it was comfortable enough for his big sister. He was very thorough.

Butternut assesses the comfort of this project. Meanwhile, I’m crawling on the floor attaching the bottom fabric to the side binding.
I had to put the project on hold for a couple hours while the quality control officer completed his evaluation.
garment · sewing

Golden cardigan

I sewed a cardigan!

It’s perfect and I love it.

My recent plunge into quilting has reignited a passion for my sewing machine. In hindsight, it seems to me to have been inevitable that I would progress into garment sewing. One if the things I love most about knitting is the stack of sweaters in my closet.

I did have a vague understanding that one needs a serger machine to sew with knits, but I fell down a rabbit hole of garment sewing research on the internet and found out that’s not necessarily true. I discovered that one can successfully sew with stretchy sweater knit fabric on a normal, domestic sewing machine with a zigzag or stretch stitch (the lightning bolt one).

I ordered Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet and sent the PDF pattern off to a local blueprint printshop to be printed. Then I ordered some golden sweater knit fabric from Amazon after careful research and deliberating about type of fabric. I also ordered some jersey point needles and clear elastic tape as recommended for the shoulder seam.

A week or so later, I had all the pieces in place, traced out the pattern onto fresh paper, and sewed it all up. We had an extended weekend due to staffing shortages closing the school district, so I buckled down and made the whole thing in two days. One day for cutting, one for sewing.

It’s just my style.

The fabric ended up being perfect, in the end, but it was kind of annoying to work with because it snagged on every little rough spot on my fingers and fingernails. Weirdly, when I wear it I never snag it, it was just in the intimacy of sewing and smoothing the fabric I guess.

I did modify the patch pockets. The original pockets required turning under the edges, but this fabric would NOT iron. Instead, I just sewed them with raw edges by sewing really close to the edge. The fabric doesn’t ravel so it looks fairly neat still and was much more pleasant to execute. I also made them much bigger and changed the way the top was put together by making them out of one longer piece of fabric. I didn’t like how bulky the original construction was, and it was much too small for my comfortable, slouchy, hands-in-pockets life.

I also had to redo the bottom band. When I sewed in the sleeve cuffs (love those), I had to switch from my walking foot to the regular foot in order to fit the cuff circumference. It seemed to work great so I didn’t switch back to sew on the bottom band.

Big mistake. The bottom band ended up very ruffly and definitely not something I wanted to live with. This fabric is not very easy to pick out stitches for, so I only unpicked the front band as far as the bottom band. Then I sliced off the seam of the bottom band and resewed it.

I trimmed the front bands to match the new length, sewed them down, and called it finished!

I love these boots too. They’re Reiker and they match everything I own.

I’ve worn it to work just once so far, but it was amazing. It looks just structured enough and is SO comfortable and fits so perfectly.

I already ordered some french terry to make another one. Can’t wait for it to arrive!


New Beginnings

I’ve been an obsessive knitter for a while now. But recently (by “recently” I mean “recently” in terms of a knitter, which is a pretty long time to other people, as in a couple years), I’ve been exploring other needle arts.

It all started when I was cold in the new house and we had lost the couch blanket in the move. I wanted a blanket, so I started to knit one. Out of sock yarn.

That was taking a little bit of time, but I was still cold so I decided to start crocheting. Plus, I had this yarn from my mom that she wanted a blanket from, but it was cotton/wool blend best suited to crochet. So I made her a blanket for Christmas.

Then I began to obsessively crochet (yes, I finally made my crocheted blanket and then we found the old couch blanket). Meanwhile, my aunt who is also a fantastic textile artist started quilting in addition to knitting.

Really, all of this needling about is her fault.

But anyway, I was a little at loose ends between projects and accidentally fell into a quilt shop (no, really, I couldn’t help it). I bought a jelly roll and a ruler and came home and made a log cabin quilt just as fast as you can blink.

And then more quilts, and more crochet blankets, and a bit of a knitted sweater, and suddenly a sewn cardigan, and…now I can’t keep up with the projects.

When I was just a knitter, Ravelry held all of my projects. Now, with this great diversity of needlecrafts, I think I’d better make my own space to keep track of things. So here we are. First post on my new stitch blog!