Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to cut different sizes from one sewing pattern

I've been going "back to my roots", sewing clothes (making some PJ's) here before it gets too warm to wear them (blush).  I've sewn far more clothing items in my life than quilts, and one thing that is difficult with sewing garments, is that you can't try them on before you sew them.  It's actually a great way to learn what looks good on you and what doesn't.  You can hold the fabric up to you in the fabric store and see if the color looks good on you, but sometimes even that will throw you for a surprise as the patterns play out in the finished garment.

A sure way to solve this is to use the same pattern over and over again when you find one that you like :-).  This is true for my boys too.  But as they grow, I need to use a bigger size.  Plus, with 2 boys, I often make 2 different sizes of the same pattern for each kid (like the PJ's).  I thought I'd share with you the method I learned through trial and lots of error to get the most out of a pattern.  You COULD cut the smaller size, and tape it back together, or buy multiple patterns, or trace the different sizes onto a new sheet of tracing paper, but these are all tedious at best.

I found the best way is to cut "under" the pattern line you want.  If possible, I fold it along the size line and cut right next to it (making sure I pin right next to the line).  You can even fold along curved lines if you cut and unpin strategically.
A few more shortcuts I use are clipping at the notches, and using pins to mark the "markings" (again, you can do this "under" the pattern).
My kids love polar fleece, and I've sewn with a lot of it, and other stretchy fabric, using my serger, so one more tip I'll add, because I made this mistake while cutting these out, is to be sure you pay extra attention to the direction of fabric that you place the pattern on.  It usually stretches in one direction well, the other not so well, so if you try to use a scrap to save fabric, and cut against the grain when you should be cutting with the grain, you'll be in trouble!!  Luckily I had plenty of fabric ;-).

I'm joining up with Quiltstory's Fabric Tuesday for a change!  Come check out what others are working on!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Whirling Star

I've decided to add yet another quilt along to my list.  Here's my Whirling Star block from Faith's Fresh Lemons Blog's Solstice Star Series.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cheeseburger in Paradise Quilt

I finished up my 2nd Project Quilting quilt last night.  The theme was a song title.  This was such a fun quilt!  My friend Kathleen saw the border fabric (french fries) at a quilt store about an hour and a half away from me, and knew I was looking for some, called me up, asked if I wanted some, and bought it for me.  Isn't that so nice!?  Yesterday I was able to get it from her.  I think it's the perfect binding fabric!

I also decided to do more free-motion quilting around all of the little fabric pieces, then hand sewed on the sesame seeds with embroidery floss that I had.

Be sure to look at the Project Quilting Flickr Group!!  Anyone can jump right in and do the up-coming challenges as well!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Project Quilting part 2 WIP: Song Title

Here's my Project Quilting second quilt.  The "theme" this time around is "Song Title".  When I saw this Sunday, I immediately thought of Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise".  My husband is a huge Jimmy Buffet fan (parrot-head).  We probably have every CD he's ever come out with, and they get played regularly, although there are a few that got somewhat "censored" when our kids came along.  It also occurred to me that while I have been making relatives birthday cards since this Spring, I never made my husband one for his December birthday.  So this one's for him!  It's only 7 1/2 by 10 inches, making it a very small quilt (and yes, it does have batting in it).  I figure he can hang it up at work, or anywhere else he wants. 

Right now, though I'm trying to decide if I should quilt on top of the burger and tree leaves.  My machine started acting up a bit, so I took a bit of a break today, but hope to get it done tonight or tomorrow.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I also got this beauty in the mail today!  It's a postcard from Cheryl from our "Year of the Dragon" postcard swap! I just love the colors she picked!  I can't decide what's more fun... making these postcards, or getting them...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Octo-Swirl" Quilt Block Tutorial

You asked for it!  Here it is, my "octo-swirl quilt block" tutorial on how I made my quilt block that I donated to a charity quilt for breast cancer.  I couldn't resist the pop-culture reference ;-).  Here's the first block I made. 
The first thing I'll tell you is when you make up a block from total scratch, take notes on how you did it, in case you want to make it again!!  I didn't, and it was pretty darn hard to re-create it, but I did!

When I made my first block, I had a specific fabric that I wanted to use (the pink "Fandango" hearts), but only a small scrap of it, and the block needed to be 12.5 inches square.  I looked all through my "5500 Quilt Block" book, and didn't see what I wanted, so I looked at what I had.  I had some 2.5 inch jelly strips that I had collected on a local shop hop, and thought it'd be fun to wrap them around the block like a log cabin block, but I wanted something a little more challenging.  I decided to chop off the corners of my square block to make it an octagon.  I did a lot of experimenting, and even more while I made the blocks for this tutorial, and came up with these instruction.

They do include a partial seam, but don't let that scare you away, it's easy to do!

The blocks with pink in them use larger squares, 6.5 inches, and the block on the upper right uses a 5 inch square, the standard charm square size.  You could easily make up a bunch of these blocks with a pack of charm squares and a "jelly roll" of 2.5 inch strips.

Either way, you need 1 square (5 inch by 5 inch or 6.5 inch by 6.5 inch), and 2 jelly roll strips (2.5 by 42 inches,or width of fabric) that are cut from 2 different colors.  You could also make this block with all sorts of combinations of different sized squares and strips...
To cut the octagon, I use the 45 degree line on my cutting mat and line it up on the line, then chop off the corners so that the length and width are the same.  So if it's a 5 inch square, I put the ruler 2.5 inches to the left of the top and bottom point and cut, then do the same to the right side.  I hope these pictures will make it clearer.
I cut at 3 and 1/4 inch on both sides of the 6.5 inch square.

Then I flip it and do the same to the top and bottom.
From here on out, I'll just show the larger square, but the steps are the same for the smaller one.

The 2 most important steps come right at the beginning:

1: Make sure you leave a 5 inch "tail" that extends on both sides of the first seam.  This is critical, as you will see later.
2. Start the first seam in the middle of the side, or seam, making a "partial seam".  You only have to do this on the first one.

Sew right sides together. DO NOT trim the strip yet!!
Press the seam open, always toward the outer edge, or the pink or white in my case.
Next, flip the fabric over (right side down), and line up your ruler along the next seam.  In will be on the side where the seam is complete.  You will keep rotating around the octagon in the same direction.

Cut the first strip on this line.
Grab you second jelly roll strip (alternate color), and line it up, right sides together starting with the top of the first strip, and sew.
 Flip and cut as before (you can use the lines on your cutting mat if you want).

Take the first color strip, and sew your next seam, starting again at the top of the previous jelly roll strip.
 Continue as above, alternating colors, and going in the same direction, being VERY careful not to cut that first strip off.  You'll have to tuck it out of the way as you get all the way around.
After you trim off that 8th strip, simply fold the block, right sides together, lining up that last seam, and sew!
Press (you're almost done).

Here's what the block with the 5 inch center square looks like:

Next, you need to trim up the sides.  Be really careful which sides you trim.  Remember that there are 8!!!  I learned this the hard way with the 5 inch square.  Put the colors you want to be "straight" on the right, with the corner you want as the triangle on the upper right.  Here's your 2 choices.  See the difference?
With my block, I trimmed the larger square 1 1/4 inch from the inside seam on all 4 sides, making an 8.5 inch square block!!
With the 5 inch square center block, I trimmed it 2 inches from the inside seam, also making a 8.5 inch complete block.  You could use wider strips on a bigger block to expand the block too.

I wanted the purple as the triangle though, but didn't realize my mistake until it was too late.  I may play around some more with this one (and take better notes this time).

You can add white borders around the 8.5 inch square, as I did with my block for the breast cancer quilt, to make it a larger block.  Remember that with quilting, you can always take away, you can't add, meaning cut the wider borders a bit wider than you think you may need.  You can always trim it down smaller.

I sure hope I made sense.  Please ask if you have any question (or let me know if I made any mistakes)!!  Feel free to share, but please give me credit, as I now have a much better understanding of just how much time goes into these free tutorials!!  I've benefited from them a lot though, thanks to other bloggers, so I wanted to give a little back myself!!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIP Wed: More scraps....

I'm afraid I've been busy the last few days dealing with car problems.  We have a hybrid car, and the main battery pack bit the dust, but we're hoping it'll be covered in a warranty extension (fingers crossed). I did manage to get a few blocks sewn, including the first star (above) in Faith From Fresh Lemons blog's Solstice Star Series.  She sure savors "s"'s!  I did the Summer Sampler Series too last summer, and love her tutorials!  I also got another Scrap Attack block done (below), and am trying to design a quilt for this week's Project Quilting that needs to be based on a song title.  I'm keeping it under wraps, mainly because there's really not much to show yet.  Stay tuned.  My Etsy shop has some new Kindle covers, and I'm also hoping to show you how I did my block for breast cancer, so I can get a tutorial of my own up here soon! As usual, it's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced WIP Wed.  Come join us there!

Monday, January 23, 2012

More Postcards, Birthdays, New Year's and National Pie Day!

I just thought I'd share a few more postcards that I've been sending out lately.  I've been making these in lieu of standard paper cards for family birthdays and other events (Mother's Day, Father's Day, thank you cards, etc...).  They're fun to make and receive, much cheaper than the paper cards, are a great way to use up small fabric scraps.  One of these is for my twin brother's birthday, which is today ;-). These were super-easy and fast to make, and so much more personal (IMO) than a store-bough card.

I also don't think I've shared this amazing card that came to me in my last swap, "Winter pastimes".  Tamara, from our swap group made it.  I hate to pick favorites, because all of the cards are beautiful, but this one really is among my "top picks".  I'm pretty sure that those knitting needles are toothpicks!!

It's also the Chinese, or Lunar New Year (Happy New Year!), AND it's National Pie Day in the USA.  I've been requesting pie for my birthday for years, and was thrilled to hear a few years ago that I share my birthday with "Pie Day".  These are 2 of my favorite kitchen tools!  I make a lot of pies, quiche, and biscuits too, because you can take this lady away from the South, but you can't take the South away from this lady!!  I hope you too will enjoy a slice of pie today!

Finally, one last picture that I took on my walk with the dog this morning.  The sun is out, it's gorgeous today, and the last of the snow and ice has almost been melted away, but left these neat little sculptures for me to enjoy and share!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Treasure in the freezer

This morning, when I opened my freezer, I found this treasure in there that had been stored away by one of my kids. 

Here's where it came from:
You see, yesterday, the sun finally came out, and the icy hold that has gripped us for days finally started to melt!  For a few brief hours, all outside surfaces started shedding their icy skins, much like cicadas do, leaving behind exact reverse models of each little thing... rocks, fence posts, branches and such.  Most broke as they hit this ground, but this little ice shell is now being kept as a souvenir of this natural wonder.  I love the fact that my son recognized and appreciated it enough to save.

Here's a few pictures I took when I could.  It sure was pretty, but I'm glad it's gone!!