Category Archives: quilting

2022 Sewing

My goals for 2022 were to slow down, to enjoy the process and explore my creativity. I more or less succeeded, and sewed 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 2 dresses, 2 refashions, and 5 home projects.

I also did a few small cross stitch pieces, and a few craft projects. Sadly, I didn’t do any knitting or crocheting. My priority is to keep my hands functional. I can still crochet, but a few of my “knitting joints” are mildly arthritic, which will keep me sidelined for the most part.

Tops:

I sewed the Zero Waste Cropped Shirt by Birgitta Helmersson in a linen blend, 2 color blocked cotton tee shirts, a rayon jersey boxy tee, and a 3/4 sleeve Laundry Day Tee in a magenta light sweater knit. The winter LDT is my favorite item of clothing I sewed this year.

Bottoms:

I sewed a cropped Allegro elastic waist pants in a linen blend and 3 pairs of knit shorts.

Dresses:

I sewed my second Bardon dress in a quilting cotton I had bought many years ago, and a LDT dress in a rayon knit. Both are free patterns.

Refashions:

Both refashions were from my own closet.

Home:

My favorite projects of the year are the rag quilt and the fall wall hanging of my own design. The rag quilt was a big undertaking. I cut 250 8-inch squares and used 50 precuts. I used 99 different cotton prints for the top, and flannel for the backing and filling. I had collected most of the prints throughout many years and was glad to put them to use. The snipping of the raw edges meant yet more cutting. I also made a rag quilt pillow sham in November with 12 more prints. I put my sewing machine away for December to take a break.

I want to make 2-3 more quilts. I will be using precuts I already have, so it should go faster. I plan on sewing more home projects next year since I have enough clothes.

Fall Wall Quilt How-To

I loved designing and working on this quilt, and I love the finished quilt just as much. I also learned a few things along the way, from a few bloggers and my own experience. I included the links I used for anyone who might want to make something similar, or who wants to use some of these ideas as a jumping off point.

It all started with the fabrics, and an idea. I would make applique blocks and then add some simple piecing.

I decided on crows, pumpkins, and leaves. I drew two different sized pumpkins, and cut them into 3 sections. I found and downloaded a free crow template, and reduced it to 60% of its size. I added a wing piece. I downloaded 3 leaves from The Crafty Quilter.

When I first tried applique many years ago, I did it all by hand. Not the way I want to do it anymore! I used a excellent and very detailed post by the Crafty Quilter about machine applique.

I used 2 different techniques for transferring my shapes to fabric. For the pumpkins and moons I cut out the fabric and then sewed it to fusible interfacing, sewing the shiny side against the right side of fabric, and then making a hole in the interfacing and turning. Next I iron pressed my pumpkins onto the backing fabric.

This gives an added loftiness to the finished applique, but would be too hard to do for more complex shapes.

For the crows and leaves, I used Heat n Bond (I discovered I already had 2 packs).

I drew my shapes on the paper side of the Heat n Bond, cut them out, ironed them on the wrong side of the fabric, cut out the shapes on the drawn line, and then peeled off the paper, and ironed them on the backing fabric. I didn’t like the leaf fabric pictured, and didn’t use these leaves in the finished quilt.

The next step is sewing the shapes to the backing. There are many different stitches, threads, and stitch density to consider. So many decisions to make! I used a zigzag that wasn’t completely dense. The photo shows the stitching from the wrong side.

After getting the basic blocks done, and some additional patches and strips cut out, I played around with the layout. I taped it to the closet door and looked at it for a while. I saw that the center was weak, and felt it much improved when I rearranged to put the top third at the bottom. I also added a stem to the maple leaf, and changed the pumpkin stems from a dark green that didn’t stand out enough to a tiny print that looks tan from a distance.

I tried a spray adhesive for the first time for assembling the quilt top with the batting and backing. I used to hand baste, but this is easier.

The next step is make or break time: quilting the pieced top. Quilting even a small project can be daunting. I read Lori Kennedy’s 6 Ways to Ruin a Quilt with Machine Quilting and ventured forth.

I quilted to outline the shapes, and heavily quilted the pumpkins. For the crow blocks I didn’t quilt the crows at all, and heavily quilted the background.

After reading the very comprehensive blog on how to hang a quilt on the wall, I decided to add hanging tabs before attaching the binding by hand. I cut the binding with a width of 2 1/2 inches. I then tacked down the tabs and added a stick I cut in the yard and some twine.

Done!

I got started on this quilt without much thought on the technical aspects. What I learned in piecing, appliqueing, and quilting this project:

  1. Change feet for the job – I used 3 feet; the clear satin stitch foot for the applique, the1/4 inch seam foot for piecing, and the even feed or walking foot for quilting.
  2. Change threads – I needed different colors for the top thread and the bobbin thread which needed to match the dark fabric of the quilt back.
  3. Change tension – I didn’t practice with a quilt sandwich, and I had the dark bobbin thread showing on the front. I changed from a 4 down to a 1 after seeing this:

4. Think of ways to quilt to reduce thread ends to deal with. The multitude of hanging threads I needed to get rid of was the one bad part of this project. I mostly tried to bring all threads to the back and knot and bury them, but it was tedious and took so much time. Ugh!

The finished quilt is 18 x 25.

Links:

Crow Download: https://patternuniverse.com/download/crow-pattern/

Leaves Download: https://thecraftyquilter.com/2019/10/quilt-as-you-go-mug-rug-tutorial-with-applique/

The Crafty Quilter: Lesson 3: Applique: https://thecraftyquilter.com/2015/04/spring-petals-qal-week-3/

Lori Kennedy Quilts : 6 Ways to Ruin a Quilt with Machine Quilting: https://lorikennedyquilts.com/six-ways-to-ruin-a-quilt-with-machine-quilting/

The Ruffled Purse – How to Hang a Quilt on the Wall: https://theruffledpurse.com/how-to-hang-a-quilt-on-the-wall/

Ten Years Blogging!

Ten years ago I designed a WordPress site and published my first post. I was at the beginning phase of learning to sew my own clothes. I started by mostly refashioning thrift clothes. My progress was slow and gradual. Now, ten years later, almost everything I wear is me-made, and I have achieved my goal.

It would take too long to go through ten years and find the highlights; I’d rather be sewing! But I will share a few examples. Beware: image heavy!

This was the first project I shared (it was close to Halloween):

These are some of the outfits I’ve sewed:

Some of my refashions:

The main focus of my blog has been sewing clothes, but I’ve also done plenty of other needle arts and crafting.

My quilted projects:

My embroidery:

I stopped knitting because of carpal tunnel and arthritis issues. Sewing by machine is much easier on the hands.

Some knitting and crochet projects:

Some of my favorite posts:

The Dress Doctor Part 1

The Dress Doctor Part 2

Thoughts on First Year of Blogging

What My Mother Wore

End of Summer Leftovers

Sewing During the Pandemic

My most popular post is Easy Fix For Too Small Skirt. That’s a great title! Subsequently, I’ve realized my tutorial is not so easy; I removed and reinserted a zipper. I also removed the waistband and sewed foldover elastic.

I ‘ve never been a frequent poster, but my goal has been to have at least one post every month. I’ve only missed three months in 10 years.

What has changed in 10 years? I’m older, ha! The traffic on blogs has decreased as the rise of the smart phone has changed the focus to apps like Instagram, which are more easily read on a small device. In the sewing world, independent pattern companies have gained a larger customer base, and larger sizes are now routinely included as a result from some heated debates on Instagram. A few of those pattern companies were started as a progression from blogging.

I have a free WordPress account. I am happy with WordPress, and would recommend the platform, although I find it harder to use the new editor. Ads are perfectly fine at the end of a post, but a few times I have seen ads in the middle of a post which I don’t like. I appreciate the free platform, and that my blog will remain up indefinitely without any action from me. After uploading 1,679 photos and publishing 174 posts, I have only used 37% of my allotted storage space.

So should I continue? Most of what I sew is pretty boring – everyday tees, pants and shorts. But the things I make are my story, and I like telling it, so I doubt I will suddenly stop at this point in time.

I’m always excited about the latest thing I’m sewing! Currently I’m working on a fall/Halloween wall quilt. I finished sewing the quilt top, and I will be back with the completed project, and the story about it.

To my readers, I hope you have found something of use or interest in these pages. You probably also know the pleasures of creating with your own hands, and together we inspire each other to make, to learn, to grow.

Seasonal Refashions and Sewing

Two fairly quick refashions from my own closet:

I never wore a jersey knit romper I sewed a few years ago, so I refashioned it into a top for summer. It took a little work because I had to remove the underlining from the shorts portion.

It was worth a try to see if I will wear it now.

The vee back is noteworthy.

I still had the last of three rayon dresses I bought at the same time about 20 years ago that I had stashed away when they became too tight in the bust to wear. I made sleeveless summer tops from two of them.

The print of this fabric has beautiful warm fall colors, so I decided I wanted a sleeve on my new top. I used the cap sleeve from a pattern I had recently printed out, and managed to make it fit with gathering of the sleeve cap.

The blue Hawaiian top pictured, one of my previous dress to top refashions, is one of my all-time favorites and I used it as a guide to cut my new top.

This refashion is not as easy as just chopping off the bottom and rehemming. I have to use the bottom of the dress and cut out new armholes and neckline. I used bias tape to finish the neckline.

I need to make pants to go with this top, or it won’t get worn.

Now for some fall and Halloween sewing! I bought some fun Halloween fabric on sale, and was excited to sew something with it. I made a few dog bandanas for Sparky and one of his friends. I’ve made many revisions to my bandana pattern over the years. This is my current favorite, 2- sided with a curved shape. I used sew-in velcro for a few of them.

After sewing a few bandanas , I was inspired to put aside my garment sewing to start work on a wall quilt with simple piecing of different size squares and applique. I’m making it up as I go and enjoying the creative process.

I hope to finish the quilt top before the end of the month, but may not get the quilting and binding done. In any case, I plan on writing a second blog post this October, which will be a special post.

My First Quilt is A Rag

The title sounds dismissive, but I’m actually so proud of it! A rag quilt is not made from rags, but gets its name from the exposed raw edges that become frayed or ragged from washing. In the book Quilt As You Go by the British author, Carolyn Forster, it is referred to as fringed quilting. The frayed edges take on a ruffled look. I had been vaguely aware of rag quilts, but not at all interested. Then I became obsessed and just had to make one. I wanted to get going right away so didn’t start with a pillow cover as I had planned, although I’d still like to make one in the future.

Let’s go back to the beginning. The fabrics that fray the most are 100% cotton, flannel, and denim. Some rag quilters also use fleece or minky as a backing even though they don’t fray. I used 300 eight inch squares for 3 layers: I cut 250 squares myself and used a pack of 50 precuts I bought from Amazon as well. That’s a lot of cutting! The seam allowance is a generous 1/2 inch so the finished size of the squares will be 7 inches. My layout was 9 squares wide and 11 squares long for a finished quilt of 63 x 77. I used the 100th square as my test square, which I washed to get a preview of what the quilt would look like. My top layer is composed of 99 different pretty woven cotton prints, mostly floral and also some novelty prints included like the ones below, half cut from my own stash. I wanted prints that are fun and happy. The quilt would have had a more unified look if I had just used the pastel florals but I have been collecting fat quarters and bits of fabric for years so wanted to use what I had on hand as much as possible.

I bought 5 yards of flannel for the backing, and the flannel in the center was cut from an old sheet. I prewashed the new flannel and rewashed the old flannel, but I did not prewash my top cotton fabrics.

Next, I sandwiched the layers and quilted an X through them. I attached my walking foot and eyeballed the lines to sew without marking them.

Then I decided on the layout. I was unsure how best to sew the squares together. I first thought to sew in long strips, while the book suggests to sew the squares as 4-patches. I don’t think it matters too much. I started with 4-patches to help keep the seams of the squares matching up together. This is only seen on the back, so again, it doesn’t matter too much. The fabric on the back is important for contributing to the color of the ragged borders on the front.

The squares are sewn wrong sides together, and look like this. Weird!

I then attached them in bigger sections, and began to cut the seams allowances without cutting into the stitches. The snips are close together, between 1/4 and 1/2 inch apart.

I have a spring-loaded scissors of the type recommended to make the large number of snips needed, but it had dulled and wasn’t sharp enough. I used the the newer and very sharp Fiskars scissors in the photo, and my hand held out.

The exciting part is the first wash. I was a little scared of this, as I no longer have a laundromat in my area, and had read about the possibility of clogging the washer. I don’t have a dryer so no worries there. I have a top loader machine and meant to check on the quilt during the wash cycle, but I was doing something else and forgot. I didn’t have a problem, whew!

I washed it twice, and then hung it on the line and ran my hand up and down the quilt knocking as much of the fluff off as I could and watching it blow away.

I didn’t need to use a lint roller over the surface. The individual squares looked lint free, maybe because I didn’t use a dryer. But…little threads got all over the carpet while I was working on it, and carrying it around, and they were very hard to vacuum up. Rag quilts are very messy!! I read that they continue to shed until they are washed 3 to 6 times, and I also read they shed for a year or more. So we’ll see.

I have read rag quilts are quick to make, but that wasn’t my experience. It was much more physically exhausting than garment sewing. First I had to cut up all the fabric. The quilt was also heavier than I thought it would be, and once most of it was put together it was hard lifting it up and running it through the machine. Then I cut all those snips. My machine also got quite a workout sewing through all the layers. I bought a pack of 16 and 18 size needles, but I still broke a needle.

On the plus side, they’re fun to make! I love the texture, and the piecing doesn’t have to be precise. This project ticks my boxes of sewing goals for this year : try something new, enjoy the process, and use textiles I already have. And yes, it is my first completed quilt.

I absolutely love my ragggedy rag quilt! It’s pretty, but still an everyday quilt that will be able to withstand digging from little paws.

Quilt As You Go Placemats

My current obsession is the quilt-as-you-go technique. I bought the book Quilt As You Go by Carolyn Forster and love the variety of techniques. There are 14 techniques including chapters on stitch-and-flip, piecemakers quilting, manx log cabin, potholder quilting, japanese reversible patchwork, envelope quilting, cathedral windows, siddi quilting, applique quilting, lined circles, fringed quilting, and pojabi patchwork. I have also taken 2 Craftsy classes on QAYG, and watched YouTube videos.

I want to try almost every technique in the book except Suffolk puffs – Americans call them yo-yos. A quilt made from yo-yos would not stand up to digging paws and the openings look like they would make good spider homes.

I decided to try some of the techniques by sewing small projects such as placemats or pillow covers before attempting a larger quilt. The first method I tried is called piecemakers quilting in the book. It is also called a 1 hour serger quilt or a quilt as you go serger quilt. If it’s not done on a serger the ends can be finished with a zigzag or overcast stitch to reduce bulk.

I pieced 2 1/2 inch strips for the top of the placemats of different lengths for interest. I also cut 2 1/2 inch strips from the batting and backing. My finished placemats are about 12 by 16 inch, but I started with longer strips so they could be trimmed.

Every row is sewn with 6 layers: 2 top strips, 2 backing strips, and 2 layers of batting. You start with a conventional quilt sandwich: the backing wrong side up, batting, and the top strip right side up. Then you add your next row before sewing by putting a backing strip right side together to the first backing, a top strip right side together with the first row top strip, and then a batting strip on top.

So your layers are: batting, top RS down, top RS up, batting, back RS down, back RS up.

You sew the layers with a 1/4 inch seam. I found this hard to do on the serger because I have less control than on the sewing machine. I used clips to hold the layers together but I also had trouble catching all the layers a few times. You don’t have much room for error with a quarter inch seam so I took a slightly bigger seam allowance to compensate. I had trouble sewing with the less stable batting on top and found it worked better when I turned the layers over so that the batting was on the bottom against the feed dogs.

After you sew your seam you open the layers up. You have two rows sewn together to which you can add quilting. Then you add your next row to the second strip by putting another backing strip right sides together to the back, a top strip right sides together to the top and a batting strip on top. So you’re always sewing with the bulk to the left as you add rows.

I experimented by adding decorative stitching and attaching the binding by machine without any hand sewing. You can’t beat a beautiful traditional binding but you might come close. My ends aren’t straight so I need more practice with the binding.

I sewed the first placemat with wavy quilting, but I didn’t iron out the layers before sewing so there is a ridge. It doesn’t ever seem to work out to forego pressing yet I keep on trying.

This is an easy technique if you can catch all the layers and don’t need a precise join. For a quilt, its drawback might be a bulky seam. Another common QAYG technique uses sashing strips which are sometimes finished by hand sewing. This technique is much faster for a quilt that can be sewn together in rows. Some might find it less aesthetically pleasing to have a backing with many seams. I’m not sure yet which method I would use for a full sized quilt.

Next up: My first bed size quilt!!

2022 Sewing Goals and Make Nine

My Make Nine Challenge for 2022:

1) New Look A6284 – I love the square neckline, gathers, and all of the views, but I plan on making the short sleeve top with vintage fabric from an estate sale.

2) McCalls 6962 – I call this the butterfly top. It’s a shape that intrigues me yet might look big and awkward when worn. I hope a 2 yard cut is enough fabric or it might not get made. This is the line drawing:

3) Zero Waste Cropped Shirt by Birgitta Helmersson – This will be my first attempt at a zero waste pattern, although I’ve made a few other things without pattern pieces. I have a striped cotton/linen for this pattern.

4) Allegro by Love Notions – I’ve used this pattern before. This time I plan on making spring capris.

5) Quilt – This will be my year of the quilt; I actually have 3 in mind. I am excited about several different quilt-as-you-go techniques because I believe I will be able to finish a quilt (larger than a wall quilt) for the first time. I plan on a rag quilt with a flannel back, a stitch and flip with joining strips, and a strip quilt with 10 inch squares. I am going to make placemats or pillows to practice the techniques first. I also love the idea of a fusion quilt with quilted squares joined with crochet.

6) Nino Open Jacket – This is a free pattern from Fabrics Store that was called the Hana Kimono Jacket when I saved the pattern to my computer. They also have two other free jacket patterns I like: the Mariana Notched Collar and the Paola Workwear Jacket, so it depends on which pattern best suits my fabric. You must register with the website to download the free patterns.

7) Butterick 6683 – This is a caftan pattern. I like the top too, but am thinking of making the short caftan using another one of my rayon sarong rectangles.

8) Simplicity 2642 – I was thinking of making the short sleeved dress, but I might want to omit the elastic under the bust. The main motivation to make this is matching fabric I want to sew with this pattern.

9) McCalls 8029 – This is a cape. This looks like an easy pattern and the shape is interesting. It reminds me of when I used to wear a poncho in the early 70s.

Sewing goals and direction for 2022:

The main things on my mind are trying new things, and process over product.

Last year, I was very focused on making everything on my list, but this year’s list is just an example of patterns and ideas I find interesting, and may want to make. After the last 2 or 3 years of sewing, I don’t need hardly anything more to wear. My motivation is much more about having fabric and patterns I want to enjoy using, to experiment with various techniques, and using sewing and other needle arts and crafts as a creative outlet to pursue whatever strikes my fancy.