Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Love Letters Baby Quilt

My friend Mellie designed and published this adorable "mod alphabet" quilt pattern. I decided it would be perfect for a quilt for baby Aubrey!

I had a hard time getting all the letters in one photo. The background is Kona Cotton "Thistle." If you have a Kona color card, you know it's actually a very nice light lavender, not the "meh" grey it looks in my photo.

Here's a photo of the entire alphabet, lifted from WeShallSew on etsy:

Isn't it just the cleverest idea? The letters go together so quickly, making them is addictive! The pattern includes a good tutorial on curved piecing, and I also have a curved piecing tute here.

I'm planning to add a Bloc_Loc "Cogwheels" block to the quilt also. Tutorial next Tuesday!

Here's a photo of a cogwheels quilt, store sample from Cotton Candy Sewing Shop in Loveland. Aren't the blocks fun?

When the quilt is finished, I'll be offering a copy of "Love Letters" as a giveaway. But if you can't wait, you can get your own copy from Melissa's etsy shop, here.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.

And WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Modern Quilts.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

As well as WIP Wednesdays with Tami's Amis.

I have some exciting progress on my "Year in Temperatures" scarf to show you tomorrow. Come back to see!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day: Make a Recyclable Bag

According to WikipediaEarth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.

Quilters have been recycling since the first person put layers of cloth together to make a warm covering. And quilters were stitching fabric bags to carry things way before it was "cool!"

In honor of Earth Day 2014, here is a tutorial to make a basic tote, or "market" bag. The fabric is from Timeless Treasures and is part of a line of "save the Earth" fabrics. The lining is recycled quilt backing.

1. Cut out the pieces

I used fat quarters for the outside of my bag, so that determined the size. I squared up the fat quarter to the largest possible size, which turns out to be about 21" X 23" -- you can make your bag any size you like!

Cut the lining to the same size.

The size of the bag handles was determined by the amount of fabric I had left. So they were cut 4.5" by about 15" -- again, you are the boss of your bag, make them the length you like! I don't like shoulder bags, so if you do, you may want to make your handles a bit longer.

2. Make the handles.

 Press each handle in half lengthwise. I made a white chalk mark just so you could see where the center pressing line is -- you don't need to do that.

Fold each lengthwise side to the center line and press.

Like this:

Then press the handle in half lengthwise again. Your handle will be four layers of fabric thick, plenty for light use. If you want a stronger handle, interline it with batting, interfacing, or fusible fleece.

Topstitch each long edge of both handles, stitching as close to the edge as you are comfortable sewing. 

Mark the center of the top of the bag with chalk, or a pin. Then pin the handles in place on the lining pieces with the raw edges flush and the handle toward the bottom of the bag.

See how I have them lined up on my cutting mat so the edges of  the handles are the same distance apart on the front and back of the bag lining?

Baste the handles in place. 

3. Stitch the bag pieces.

Next, pin the front and back of the lining right-sides together. Stitch down each side seam and partway across the bottom. Leave an opening about 6" wide in the bottom seam.

I use red pins to signal "stop stitching here" so I remember to leave an opening in the bottom seam. This will be where I turn the bag right-side-out when the lining and the outside is sewn together.

Repeat for the outer layers -- but this time, stitch down each side and all the way across the bottom.

Turn the outside of the bag right-side-out and tuck it inside the lining. Right sides of the bag and the lining will be facing each other. Pin all the way around the top.

I like to push the seam allowances in opposing directions to reduce bulk along the top seam:

Be sure you don't catch the handles in your stitching.

 4. Make the "box corners"

This is another decision point. How wide do you want the bottom of your bag? I measured an existing market bag and determined that each box corner should be about 3" deep.

Draw a square 3" from the bottom outside corner seams. Repeat on each side of each bottom corner of the outer bag and the lining -- you'll be drawing 8 squares.

To form the "box," pull the layers apart and match the vertical seams as best you can. Stab a pin through the box at the seam line:

And flip to the back side to see that the layers are matched up.

Once you have the vertical seams lined up, pin across the box marking:

And stitch along that line. Back-tack the stitching at the beginning and end of the stitching line.

Trim the seam to about 1/4" to 1/2" inch -- use a scissors or a ruler and rotary cutter.

5. Turn the bag!

Now you're ready to turn your bag right-side out. Remember that opening we left in the bottom of the lining? Reach through it and grab the outside layers of the bag. Pull them through and use your fingers to push out the corners of the bag and lining.

Press the top edge, making the edges as flush with each other as you can. Edgestitch along the top edge, then again about 1/4" down from that stitching line.

The last step is to close the opening in the bottom seam of the lining. Press the seam allowance to the wrong side:

And edge stitch along the opening:

I like to press along the front and back bottom between the "box corners." I just think it makes the bag look more "finished!"

Here is my dress form, Esmerelda, modeling my Earth Day market bag, front:

and back!

Updating post to link up to Show and Tell Tuesday at i have to say.

Now that I've made this super-simple tote, I'm ready to try a really nice one. The tutorial I'll be using is on The Inspired Wren blog, here. Come back next week to see how it turns out!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Monday, April 21, 2014

Design Wall Giveaway

Last summer I attended "Quilt Wyoming" in Casper. One of the classes I took was taught by Kathleen Moorhead Johnson of August Wind Quilt Designs.

I only completed one block in class. As I was digging through the UFO bin, I came across my Prairie Windmill quilt blocks. All the sub-units were made, so I decided this would be perfect for my April UFO project.

The colors in the photo of this post are more true. Doesn't it look like Neapolitan ice cream? My favorite when I was growing up! 

Here's a shot with the border fabric:

I'm planning to have this top pieced by Friday for TGIFF.

stitch by stitch

Linking up to Anything Goes Mondays at Stitch by Stitch.

And the Giveaway

While at Quilt Wyoming, I bought an extra copy of the pattern for a giveaway. Now that I've (mostly) finished my quilt, I can tell you Kathleen is an excellent pattern-writer. Here is a photo of her Prairie Windmill quilt from her website, August Wind Quilt Designs.

Kathy points out, "The trick is choosing two different colorways and choosing fabrics from light to dark."

If you'd like this pattern to sew for yourself, please comment on this post and tell me what two colorways you would choose to make "Prairie Windmill."

  • Giveaway ends Saturday, April 26 at noon MDT.
  • International entries welcome!
  • If you're a no-reply commenter, please include contact information. If I can't find contact information for the winner, I'll choose a different winner.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. I have a new tutorial for an easy-to-make market bag, come back and see!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sittin' and Knittin'

Yes, it's knitting report day! And last night's snow in Colorado makes today the perfect day to watch Dr. Who on Netflix and knit.

The next deadline for Hats for Sailors is coming up fast -- May 27. I should have a pretty good-sized box of hats to send to our hat "curator," thanks to friends and fellow knitters Marilyn, Cornelia and Gina!

Here are the latest I've knit myself.

First, not for a Sailor because the yarn has acrylic in it (baaaaddd idea in a fire danger environment!). But I just couldn't resist this Schachenmayr "Boston" in neon colors. I got mine from Jimmy Beans Wool -- and they have a free pattern for the cowl and matching hat.

Since this set can't go to a Sailor, I don't know who will end up with it. But as my Mama always said, "someone will love it!" It was a really fun and really fast knit!

This hat was my "car" knitting for more than a year. Knit two, purl two ribbing 128 stitches on a size 4 needle is not a fast knit. This will be a really warm hat, with its double layer of ribbing. The yarn is Tribute Merino DK 100% Superwash Merino from Stitchjones, colorway "Dark + Divine."  Pattern is "Exeter," free on Ravelry.

Here's a closeup of the decreases at the top. Decreasing in k2P2 rib is a little tricky, because the pattern needs to remain consistent. But worth it, doncha think?

This pattern is from the 2010-11 "Knit Happy" Stimulus Program at Table Rock Llamas. It was a free pattern to members of the "club," and I can't find an existing link. The closest I've found is "Amelie Hat," also free on Ravelry.

It's one of those hats that "looks better on the head." The brim is double layers with a picot turning edge. I used Lily Chin's crochet provisional cast on -- go here for a YouTube tutorial or search for "Lily Chin provisional cast on."

The yarn is a combination of leftover Cascade 220 Superwash and Liberty Wool, both 100% washable wool. I will make this hat again, but use a smaller needle for the brim. Although the hat looks enormous, it really fits fine on the head!

If you're a knitter, I hope you'll consider knitting a hat for a Sailor. As long as it's 100% wool and machine wash, hats can be any color and any style!

Tomorrow is "Finally it's Finished Friday," and I don't have a thing to wear (I mean, share). I do, however, have a wonderful stash report for Saturday -- hope you'll come back to read all about it!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Crazy for Shelburne

I think I'm pretty safe that the recipient of this quilt doesn't read my blog. This quilt is an Anniversary gift for my brother and his wife of 50 years!

My sister-in-law likes "brown and sage green." Well, if you've bought fabric in the last 25 years, you know sage green is no longer available in fabric!

So I found this kit at Laughing Ladies Quilting in Berthoud, Colorado:

Crazy For Shelburne by Karen Witt
I'm substituting a green print in the blocks that have red in the kit. It isn't "sage" green, but it's as close as I could find.

I already have the "Magic Triangles" and the four patches made. Go here for my tutorial on Sally Schnieder's Magic Triangle tool. Because the split half-square triangles must all "spin" in the same direction, there is no "speedy" way to make them. I am using my Bloc_Loc half square triangle ruler to square them up, though. Two blocks down, only 23 to go!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Come back tomorrow for the latest Knitting Report -- I have some new Hats for Sailors to show you!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Tool: A New Bloc_Loc Ruler

I would testify that the Bloc_Loc rulers are the single greatest invention for quilters since the rotary cutter!

I bought two new Bloc_Loc rulers at the Springtime in the Rockies show this past weekend. Here is a photo of both of them; today I'll only talk about the Strip Set Ruler.

The "secret" to the Bloc_Loc tools is the groove on the reverse side. This groove "locks" onto the pressed seam and holds the ruler firmly in place, allowing a perfectly straight cut every time. The Strip-Set Ruler has two grooves, perpendicular to each other. [That's OPI's "Kiss Me On My Tulips" nail color.]

The Strip-Set Ruler is made to work with 2.5" strips, so it's perfect for jelly roll projects. It can also be used with wider or narrower strips -- but I'm making four-patches from 2.5" strips today.

Press the seams in one direction. I've pressed them toward the darker fabric. Place the ruler on the strip set and "snuggle" the groove onto the seam. If your strip set is pressed so that it has a bit of a "curve," locking the ruler onto the seam will automatically straighten the seam and result in a perfectly perpendicular cut.

Note: My photos show instructions for a right-handed cutter. If you cut left-handed, watch Janna's video on YouTube!

Cut off the selvage edges on the left side:

Leaving the ruler in place, cut the excess strip set off at the right side:

Here, you can see there is a darker black line at 2.5" increments on the ruler. Slide the ruler to the left until the 7.5" line coincides with the left edge of the strip set.

And make your first cut:

Slide the ruler to the left again, and cut:

Continue across the width of the ruler until you have four perfect two-patches:

Since I'm making a pile of four-patches, I layered two strip sets, wrong sides together with the seams "snuggled," and used the ruler to cut both layers at once. Although the Strip Set Ruler instructions don't call for this method, it worked perfectly for me.

Bloc_Loc now has its own YouTube channel with instructions for their tools. I urge you to go here and watch Janna's instructions for using the Strip Set Ruler.  I bought my ruler from a new shop in Loveland, Quilter's Dream. They're just getting started as a shop, but I bet if you call them at 970-669-2441, they'll mail you a ruler! Or you can go to the Bloc_Loc website and order direct from the manufacturer.

Come back next week to see what I make with the other ruler shown, the Bloomin' Cogwheels Ruler!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature