Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's a Puzzle!

I love this part of a large project! 
The anticipation is almost too much to bear.

My hexagon puzzle is coming together. I can now see the end of the endless nights sewing them be replaced by endless nights of big stitching! Another week and I'll be removing the freezer paper.

And another project finished! I am smitten with how cute this pineapple's just 18" square!

Now it is time to dig out the next UFO....

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

FMQ Challenge

I finally started practicing my free motion quilting! Part of the reason I am doing this challenge from SewCalGal is to get much better at FMQ. And then when I do I can get some of my UFO's quilted! After this months' practicing, I know I need a lot more!

I have learned a few things already...
The most important is that in the past I have always rushed through machine quilting. I have to stop and re-think learn to do this well I have to take my time and realize that this is not a race to the finish- in other words enjoy the process.

Then take the time to really get your needle right and your tension balanced. What a difference that makes! In the past I have tweaked it but always said it was good enough when I got it looking 'ok'. We don't want the back to look like this!

For right now I am using up fabrics and threads I know I will not be using in any quilt. 
Here is my first practice!

And from the shows it a bit better. I had some fun playing.

Then, because I love to make something even when I am practicing, I quilted these to make some barrel bags. I added some loops in between the leaves.

And the finished bags... they are so cute!

One more important thing- when you get tired, stop. Your stitches will just get sloppy and you'll feel frustrated- that is experience talking!

I have already noticed that my stitches are getting more consistent. And I already have tried some threads I didn't like (too thick) , but they'll be fine for practicing.

I have some more practicing to do before February's challenge!

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Thing Leads to Another

Someone please stop me because I am supposed to be trying to finish some UFOs- not start some new ones!

It all started with finishing these bags. The charm squares were cut before Christmas and I knew I probably wouldn't get these bags made right away but I had them ready to go anyways. This past week I got to work on them...part of my endeavour to finish some UFOs.

This one is the only one with the zipper in it so far...5 to go but they go in quite quickly. Then they will be completely finished.

Here they all are...

The pattern was the Button Bag from This &That  patterns. They have been quite fun to make and are a great size! I also got to use an old tool I have never actually used before. The Quilter's 1/4" Ruler made marking the seams to make the hourglass blocks easy and accurate. Along with my sandpaper board these went together wonderfully. Too wonderfully.

That led to trying blocks of different sizes. I like making little quilts so how small could I go?

In the bag pattern I started with 4-3/4" squares so I tried 4", 3" and 2-1/2" squares. I ended up with 3-1/4", 2-1/4" and 1-3/4" unfinished blocks.

And here is a picture of the ruler and the finished samples!

So now I am just itching to make a little quilt with that small size. I am not sure I would go smaller but I may try one block starting off with 2-1/4" squares just to see.

I did not mean for this little bag pattern to lead to something else but it seems as if it has!

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A New Year and MANY UFO's!

A new year seems to be a good time to look around and see what you've got hiding in bins, hiding under other UFO's and just hiding in plain other words it has been a UFO for so long that when you look at it you don't even realize it's not done! It's become a fixture. Well, I have a couple of those...OK... maybe more than a couple.

My January find is this little pineapple quilt (3" blocks) that has been pinned to my bulletin board for months (almost a year actually!). I think it's time to get the paper out and finish it.

It is going to take me a while to get all those papers out!

I did finish two things this week though...

My Christmas bags-22 of them!

A scarf all done and blocked. I think it is going to be a wonderful gift.

And we have an amaryllis in bloom finally!

It is so beautiful!
In the sunlight you can actually see gold shimmer on the petals!

Happy Stitching!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas Bags!

I had good intentions. A month before Christmas I took all the novelty Christmas prints from my Christmas fabric bin to make gift bags. I didn't get them done. While I was cleaning up my sewing room I found the little pile and thought to myself 'Ann, you are not going to leave these until December of next year so do them right now!'
Well I listened to myself and I am ready for next Christmas!

I thought I would share with you how I make my Christmas gift bags.
They are fast, easy and they look great!

This is a great way to use up those leftover Christmas prints or other fabrics you know you'll never use for something else.

I don't worry much about size. As long as you can take your rectangle of fabric, fold it in half and it looks like it will do, then I use it. It just so happens that most of my fabrics were fat quarter sized.

This is also a great way to use up bits of red, green and blue threads.

So let's get started! The first thing to do is to finish all the raw edges.

I serged mine but a zigzag stitch would work just as well.

The next thing to do is to fold over the long edge to make the cuff at the top of the bag.

A great tool is a hem guide but if you don't have one it is easy to make one . All you need is thin cardboard (like a cereal box), a quilting ruler and a fine sharpie.

I like a 2-1/2 inch cuff so from a straight edge of the cardboard measure 2-1/2" and draw a marking line. You can make whatever width of cuff you like for these bags. If you have small pieces you may want the cuff smaller...for bigger bags maybe you want the cuff bigger (not too much bigger though or it will end up being floppy). Just mark multiple lines on your cardboard.

Fold over the cuff, wrong sides together and use your hem guide to press the cuff down. You get a nice even cuff making it much easier to sew later.

Fold the bag in half with the cuff along the top.
Mark the edge where the cuff ends and then unfold the cuff.

Now you mark the area to leave open for putting your cording in. Measure 1/4" up and 3/4" up from the chalk mark and put in pins. You'll be leaving this area un-sewn. Pin here and there around the rest of the bag to keep it together while you sew.

To sew around the bag use about a 3/8" to a 1/2" seam allowance. It doesn't have to be perfect! Make sure you back stitch every time you start and stop sewing. Starting at the top, sew down to the first pin used for marking and back stitch. Leave that space between the marking pins open and start sewing again making sure to back stitch. Continue to sew down the side and along the bottom of the bag.

Press the seam open from the top edge to about 6" down and refold the cuff. The seams inside the cuff should be open and matched. Pin the cuff down, just to keep it in place for sewing.

Now to sew the channel where the cording will go...

If you are wanting to match thread, make sure the thread that matches your fabric is in the bobbin.

Also this is where your open arm on your sewing machine comes in handy!

Sew along the bottom edge of the cuff. I sewed right in the middle of the serged area. This will make sure that the small opening in the seam line is left open for the cording. Double check to make sure you won't be sewing over it. For the second row of sewing I used my seam guide and lined up my fabric at the 1-1/2" marking. If you used a different cuff size than I did make sure you adjust this to fit your cuff. The channel should be about 5/8" to 3/4" wide.

You are now done the sewing! Turn your bag right side out and using a point turner, gently push the corners out and lightly press your gift bag.

Now all that is left is the cording. Thread your cording or ribbon through the channel. I try to leave about 6" tails. If you use a thicker cording or ribbon then leave a slightly longer tail. 

And all done and ready to be filled!

And here it is all tied up!

Now I am off to put the finishing touches on the rest them!

Happy Stitching!