Friday, October 9, 2015

GO! On the Road

'Tis the season. Temperatures are dropping. Sleeves are lengthening. Leaves are falling. And it's time to get in gear on all those holiday gifts that are coming up. One can always use a zipper bag, right? And one can never have too many? Hmmmm.

This week I'm on the road with the GO! Cute Car.

Once I added the words -- meant to be a bit of Jack Kerouac tribute -- I wasn't sure I liked them. Oh, well. It's not like I could successfully unpick them. I have a quilt buddy who says she very rarely picks out stitching. She just looks at a mistake, shrugs, and says, "That's how God intended it to be." So . . . the words stay.

Then, there's the more light-hearted cheerful one:

And the one that makes me think of a vacation in warmer climes:

And my favorite, of course, the Ghastlies!

Look at those happy faces! Who wouldn't want to go on a road trip with a Ghastlie entourage? . . . Upon reflection, just about anyone of sound mind . . . . Still, they are awfully cute.  (Just to note, the bare branched tree is from the GO! Stems and Leaves die.)

With a little handwork along the way?

Anyway, it's a start on some of those little gifts I need.

And more GO! ahead -- I did just get the half-hexagon die . . . some of those fabrics go way back.  My reproductions are vintage!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

GO! Flowering Snowball

Which GO! dies make up my favorites? The ones that have shapes I would find it such a pain in the neck to cut out, I'd never even consider making the quilt. The latest to fit this bill would be the Flowering Snowball. What a gorgeous block! I hope to make up a bed quilt with this one eventually, but I settled on a table runner to start out easy.

The first block I sewed up came out perfectly! Exactly 12 1/2" square. The next one came out as well. By the third block, I was apparently getting a bit cocky (aka careless), and I stretched out the bias curves. A little starch and a hot iron brought the block back into square. I was more careful with the last one, and it came out exact again. Lesson learned: careful on the bias!

But, oh, I'm really loving this! (Here it is out on my deck. Can you tell we're having a very Fall overcast day?)

And it looks so pretty on my table.

Meanwhile, I'm still on my GO! a week plan. Coming up:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

GO! All Together Now

Sometimes I hate having bits and pieces left over from a charm pack. I feel like I need (NEED) to get it all used up.  I didn't quite meet that goal with these, but I came darn close!

Just because I have better pictures now, I'll start from the beginning. First came the GO! tablemat for my office.

Then came using the leftovers and the GO! equilateral triangles die along with the Pyramid Triangle Foundation from Miniatures in Minutes to make a miniature quilt (11 1/2" by 12 1/2").

But after that I still had both a handful of little triangles and a few left over charms. I ran a few more bits through the GO! Equilateral Triangles die and then ran some other little leftovers through with the GO! 1" strip cutter. (Run them through twice and the result is 1" squares, easy peasy.)

So I used the 13-Square foundation from Miniatures in Minutes to make a 7 by 7 Trip Around the World -- that became a little zipper pouch.  Because you can never have too many little zipper bags, right?

Next came a 5 by 5 squares block and the Pyramid Triangle foundation.  Those two became pincushions. (For any interested, you can find a pdf on how I use the 13-Square foundation to make smaller blocks here and here).

So, there it is, two charm packs done! (Almost) no little bits leftover. I'll admit to a couple surviving charms, but I can live with that. I have a little private challenge going with myself: can I work on a AccuQuilt GO! related project every week? How long before the semester swamps me and I'm out of my sewing room for a while? Hard to say, but for now, I'm good.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

GO! Tumbler Gift Bags

Years ago I came across this great idea for using the Accuquilt GO! 6 1/2" Tumbler to make little drawstring bags. You can find the tutorial here at Jo's Country Junction.

One of the things I really like about this little bag is the way that when it is opened up, it is wider at the top opening. That makes it a lot more versatile.

While drawstring bags are super easy to make, there is always one part of making them I hate -- weaving the cord through the casing. Am I the only one who has to fight to get the safety pin through the opening? I'm always getting the pin stuck on the wrong side of the seam allowance. Then I have to back up and bring it forward again, where I find that it is still not placed right. It's worse than trying to parallel park! So annoying.

What follows is just my method for making sure the safety pin that's bringing the cord through doesn't have to fight those seam allowances. If you're interested in making these, I'd suggest hopping over to Jo's tutorial and reading through her directions first. Then what I'm doing here will make more sense and you can decide if you want to add these steps in or not. (I know it would probably be easier if I just recreated the entire directions here, but this is Jo's smart idea, so I don't want to infringe and recreate her tutorial).

To begin, after I've run the fabric through the GO! and I have my four patches ready, I make marks in the seam allowance on the wrong side of the fabric. For bags where the lining is completely inside the bag, I mark 1" and 1 1/2" down from the wide side of the tumbler (what will be the top of the bag) on all four sides. (These identify where the casing for the drawstring cord will go.)

For some of the bags, I use Jo's idea and fold over the lining fabric so that it forms a binding edge at the top.  Like this:

When I'm going to use that little binding edge, I mark the fabric that will be the outer fabric of the bag at 3/4" and 1 1/4" and the lining fabric at 1 1/4" and 1 3/4".

When it is time to sew the side seams, I sew through the side seams of the lining (still leaving a turning opening at the bottom), but for the outer fabric, I skip over the half inch between the marks. In the picture below, you can see that the blue fabric is the lining so the seam is unbroken, and the yellow is the outer fabric, so I left that part of the seam open.

Next comes the part where I take steps to ensure the cord doesn't get caught in the seam allowance.  I put a little glue in the seam allowance between the two marked lines (for both the outer and lining fabrics) and then iron the seam allowances back.  (Sometimes I iron all fabric in between the two casing areas and sometimes I just iron open the specific spots. In the picture below, I ironed the whole part open). Do this on both sides of the tumbler, front and back.

After that I just turn the bag inside out, sew the opening in the lining closed, and stuff the lining inside the bag.  I draw the casing lines on the outer side of the bag at 3/4" and 1 1/4" from the top of the bag. And in the best of all possible worlds, with those pesky seam allowances glued down out of the way, the safety pin holding the cord slides right through those openings with no trouble at all!

These little bags are so useful. You can tuck a gift card into them, a tiny little toy, or, even better yet, little chocolate kisses.

These little bags weren't what I originally had in mind to show this week. I have a table runner in process. I just got distracted.  Perhaps I'll have the runner done and ready to show by the end of next week?

Monday, September 7, 2015

GO! Triangles

When it was Christmas of last year, I just couldn't think of anything I wanted, so I set aside some fun money and waited to be inspired. Come August I was still waiting. I realized that as next Christmas appears on the horizon, this might be a "Use it or Lose it!" proposition. That's all it took -- I decided there were some Accuquilt GO! dies with my name on them. The dies arrived on my doorstep and I headed down to my sewing room.

I began with a very pretty charm pack that I thought would sew up into a lovely table topper in my office.

I ran the charms through the GO! and thought surely I could do something with the little waste triangles on the side.

Sure enough. I realized I could run them through another GO! triangle die that has three sizes, one of which fits the foundation from Miniatures in Minutes.

Soon I had a stack of little triangles. (Yeah!)

But first up was the original triangles. I'm loving the way this looks in my office! All those soft colors just blend so beautifully.

Then it was time to think about those wee triangles. It had been so long since I made one of the triangle foundations, I actually had to look at the book to remember how to do it! Sheesh. Here's the foundation, marked and ready to start adding fabric.

Here are the triangles laid out and ready to sew.

And after the foundation was sewn up and the paper removed -- with a close-up to remind me of why I still love this technique. The odds that I'd get all those points to match when the patches are so small (1" top to bottom, finished)? Uh, let's just say, not good.

And here it is, up on my kitchen wall.

Of course, when it's me behind the camera, the photo is awful. The colors are really much prettier in life, a bit of teal, very soft. Still, you get the idea -- it's just a pretty soft blend of color.

I love actually finishing something. And, hey, a twofer -- two somethings!

Since there's some other new dies on my sewing room table, I'm hoping I can stay motivated and get some more projects done. (Odds?) My goal is to have something to show by the end of next week. We'll see . . .

Saturday, February 14, 2015

To Love

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

— William Shakespeare

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sewing Spool Blocks with Inset Seams

Probably everyone has their own way of doing these, but I thought I’d show how I sew the inset seams of the spool blocks. NOTE: I set the stitch length on my sewing maching a little shorter to help the accuracy of sewing to exact start and stop points. Also, I do not press the block until it is completely finished, not even finger pressing along the way.

1.  First, I use the stamps I purchased from Cindy Blackberg.

2.  Next, I use Judy Martin’s Ultimate Point Trimmer to trim the corners off the central square. This step isn’t necessary, but it does make lining up the patches easier.

 3.  To begin sewing, line up the square against one of the light outer patches and sew along the stamped seam line. Do not sew into the seam allowances, not even a wee tiny bit! You are better off stopping a wee bit short of the intersection point than sewing past it. (NOTE: it doesn’t matter if you choose to sew to the light or dark patches first — I’m just saying to use the light side because it’s going to be easier to distinguish light and dark patches in these directions).
4. After adding the patch on one side, repeat on the opposite side of the square.

5. Place one of the remaining dark patches in position.

Flip it over and line it up exactly over the light patch on the left side of the block.

6. Pin the inner square so that the seam allowance is tucked out of the way. Sew from the outer triangle points to the inner square — while you sew through the seam allowance at the outer edge, do not sew into the seam allowance at the inside.  NOTE: I like to sew from the outside in since then I don’t have to worry about the outer triangle tips shifting. If you prefer to sew from the inside out, flip the block over and sew on the other side.

7. Flip the dark patch over so that it is aligned with the other light patch. The seams that are already sewn have a tendency to pull at the patch, so to make alignment easier, I pin along the outer edge. (As you work the block, it will be the light patch on top.)

Then I line up the center and make sure that the seam allowance of the inner square is out of the way.

8.  Once again, begin at the outer triangle points, sew through the outer seam allowance but stop before sewing into the inner seam allowance. Be careful not to sew past the previously stitched seam. Remember you are better off stopping a little short than sewing past. NOTE: Since the pins can distort the block while sewing, I pull them out as I approach them.

9.  Now you need to sew the the final inner seam. Line up the patches and sew from stitched seam to stitched seam along the stamped line. Once again, be careful not to sew past the already stitched seams. NOTE: if you have trouble lining up the patches exactly at this stage, it’s most likely an indicator that you crossed seam lines somewhere and stitched into the seam allowance. Look for where the problem is and simply take out the offending stitch.

After sewing that final seam, your block should look like this.

10.  Repeat steps 5 thru 9 for the remaining patch.

11.  Since I want the seam allowances to lock when I sew the blocks together, I press accordingly. There are two common layouts for this block. One aligns the outer patches light to dark.

The other stacks the spools, dark to dark.

If you want the light to dark variation, then it makes sense to press all of the long seam allowances (those that go to the outer edges of the block) to the dark patches. If you are stacking the blocks, then half the blocks will press to the dark patches and half will press to the light. NOTE: within any given block, the pressing is consistent, the long seam allowances all pressed to the dark or all pressed to the light.

Since I think the block lies flattest when the seam allowances open in the center, I pick the direction for the first long seam allowance and then pivot the other seam allowances (the inner square) in a circle from there.

So, for instance, in the picture below, the block on the left presses the long seam allowances to the light outer patches. 1. Press the long seam allowance to the light patch. 2. Circle around and press the short inner square seam in towards the square. 3. Continue to circle around and press the next inner square seam out to the dark patch. 4. This will open up the seam allowances at the center intersection. Simply press them flat.  NOTE: as you press the patches in any given block, the direction of the circle will alternate between clockwise and counter-clockwise — though this should be obvious once you are actually doing it.

Whew! That probably sounds pretty complicated in the directions, but in actuality, the stamped sewing lines make this block really quite easy to sew. I can have one sewn and pressed in a little under ten minutes.

And because I am a woman on a mission, I finally finished my wee twister quilt. All I needed to finish was a little stitch in the ditch and binding. Sheesh. But, I’m happy now because it’s all done, sitting on the table by my office chair, and making me quite happy as a little mug rug.  Yeah for finishes!