Monday, October 31, 2011

My Sewing Space

I've decided to be brave and share my sewing space with everyone.  It's against my better judgment to post pictures without cleaning first but that wouldn't be a realistic view into my daily life.  I am, after all, rather messy.  I do take time out to clean up if I absolutely have to but I dread cleaning.  I know I know, it probably wouldn't be that bad if I would keep things clean as I go.  I just can't work that way.  So, I'm going to put on my big girl pants and post some pictures.  Keep in mind it would probably be easier for me to stay organized if I had my own studio.  Right now my sewing space is smack in the middle of our dining room and kitchen.  Hopefully one day soon we will settle down and buy a home with a large finished basement that I can take over!  Ahh...a girl can dream!

So the first picture shows my cutting table aka the breakfast table.  We used to actually sit and eat at this table.  That was before I decided I wanted to start an online quilt store.  My hubby really doesn't like the cutting mat as a permanent fixture.  I should move it each day but then I think why bother.  I just have to put it back.  My trusty iron and ironing board now reside right next to the table.  I haven't put the ironing board up in months.    

I left the Sonic cup in the picture because I love Sonic!  I'm a Diet Dr. Pepper-aholic.

Next up is where I do all my piecing.  I use the fold up tables from Wal-Mart.  They're inexpensive and work pretty good but it's impossible to sew at full speed with these tables.  If I go too fast the table bounces up and down and I can't see anything!  Not a good plan.  

This is where things get a bit scary.  My table is always cluttered up.  Even if I clean it up it doesn't take long to look like this again!  I can't explain it...I have clutter problems!  You can see my Pfaff and Babylock in the picture!  I love them both!

If you look close you can see the hunting gear on the back side of the table.  That is NOT mine.  Dear hubby has taken over part of my table as a storage area for his bow and hunting gear.  I guess that's ok since I have taken over the breakfast table, dining room and most of the house.

Next up...Roscoe, my Gammill.  He's my trusty long arm that my dad found for me in Phoenix.  Dad even packed it up and hauled it to me in the back of his truck!  What a great dad! Gammill!
You can see the clutter problems have followed me to the long arm table.  I have thread, screwdrivers, a flashlight, rulers, and who knows what else on Roscoe's table.  I think I even see thread hanging off the table.  Sounds about right to me.  The shelves at the end hold all my bolts of fabric.  Well, that's one section of shelves.  My awesome step dad built all the shelves for me.  Man, I'm a lucky girl with a great family!  FYI...the wooden plates hanging on the wall were collected while hubby and I were stationed in Germany.  We tried to get a plate every time we traveled.

Thread every where!
That's a picture of the floor right next to Roscoe.  Yes, I throw all my thread on the floor as I sew.  I just can't be bothered with the trash can.  I do pick it all up after I finish each quilt.  I do not vacuum it up anymore.  I learned the hard way the vacuum cleaner does not like all that thread!   The craziest thing ever was when I found thread hanging off the blinds.  I guess I was really putting some muscle behind my tossing that day. 

This window comes in very handy for Roscoe's accessory storage.  Notice there is a trash's just not used for thread!  More cones of thread, rulers, templates, bobbins, etc.  I even sit here if I get stumped or just need a break.  I'm fighting two bulging discs right now so sitting seems to happen more than usual.  I had 8 shots in my back on Friday.  I'm hoping that helps and I can bypass surgery. 

Oh look, batting scraps stuffed in the corner.  I would like to say my scraps are dwindling because I've been using them up.  Check out my review of the heat press batting tape.  I really love this stuff!  My unopened packs of batting are under my bed.  And I'm not taking a picture of that! 

Another look at my shelves!

More shelves.  Don't you love the bright California Dreamin collection on the bottom shelf!
You'll notice soccer cleats in this picture.  It's soccer season!  We've only lost one game so far...Go Lightning!  And I love to store all my packing supplies on the top of these shelves.  It keeps it off the floor!

One more close up Roscoe just for fun!
That's my messy sewing space.  I guess it's a good thing I can find everything I need.  I usually feel lost and I can't find anything after I clean up. 

Hopefully I'm not the only messy quilter out there.  I like to think I'm just a little  disorganized but who am I kidding....I'm messy.  I don't like to clean so I avoid it if I can.  

I would like to let you all know about a new friend I found, Connie from Quilting By The River.  Check out her blog where you can learn about a giveaway that we're sponsoring.  She has designed a beautiful quilt using the Amelia collection by Me & My Sister for Moda.  She's so talented!

That's all for now!  Let me know what you think.  I hope there are some other messy people out there!

I almost forgot...Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Batiks Galore!

I thought I would share a sneak peek of what's keeping me busy.  I recently designed a pattern that I named Rectangle Tango. Now it's time to quilt it and get it finished!  I just love the feeling of pulling it off the frame and seeing the almost finished product (don't forget the pesky binding)!  I guess I'm about a third of the way done and I hope I can finish the quilting tomorrow.

I used the Mango Margarita Bali Pop by Hoffman Fabrics.  I just love this Bali Pop!  It's full of bright colors.  I'm going to have to hide it because I know my dad's going to try and steal it! 

I can't wait to get it finished and post pictures of the final quilt. 

I just have show off what my family has been up to while I've been sewing.  Afterall, I'm not the only talented one in this family.  It's Halloween so that means it's time for pumpkin carving!

Our Creepy Pumpkins!
I don't have much else tonight.  It's been a long day filled with doctor's appointments and house cleaning.  I really dislike cleaning and cooking.  I wish I could snap my fingers or click my heels and my house would magically be clean and dinner would be ready!  Ahhh...a girl can dream!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sometimes Things Just Go Really Wrong...

Have you ever had one of those days when everything you touch turns in to a disaster?  I loaded a baby quilt on Roscoe, my Gammill long arm machine, so I could quilt it for a customer.  My very first quilt given to me by a customer.  Yikes!  I've made quilts for family but I've never quilted for anyone outside the family.  Needless to say I was a nervous wreck which is probably why I sewed Roscoe to the quilt!!!!  Can you believe that?  I must have talent to be able to do that!

Check it out!  Is that talent or what!
Just in case you're as baffled as I was...the yellow fabric was a flange that she added around her embroidered blocks.   Boy was I shocked when I was sewing along and then Roscoe just stopped.  It took me a second to figure out I had sewed him right to the quilt!  What a goober!  Thank goodness I didn't rip a hole in the quilt! 

I did manage to finish the quilt and I had a good laugh too!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Joining Binding Strips

I have to admit I've never been a fan of binding.  I love piecing tops and I love the gratification of quilting the top.  But the thought of binding makes me cringe.  In fact, I dislike it so much that the quilt I made for my mother wasn't even finished.  I gave it to her along with the fabric she needed to bind it!  Looking back, it probably wasn't the nicest thing I ever did but I was intimidated by the whole binding process.  I'm much more confident now in my ability to bind a quilt and I even hand stitched the last one.  That in itself was a miracle. 

This is my first hand sewn binding!  The gorgeous Princess in the picture is my 14 year old daughter.  She designed this quilt!  I'm so proud of her.

I'm going to show you how I joined my binding strips in this tutorial.  Attaching it to the quilt and stitching it down will come later.  

I always join my strips on the bias because it's less bulky and I just think it looks nicer.  So, that's what I'm going to show preferred method.  

First, I cut my binding strips.  In this case I needed (7) 2.5" strips.

I laid the first strip right side up on my cutting mat.  I lined the strip up so that the 45 degree line was lined up with the bottom left corner of the strip.  See below picture.

The second strip will be perpendicular to the first strip with right sides together.

Second strip laying on top of first strip, right sides together

Now, here's where I do things a little bit different.  I hate drawing lines on fabric.  I never do a good job because the pen always gets stuck and I have to drag it along.  It just irritates me.  So, I found that I really like using Marin & Colusa Stitching Lines.  The beauty of the stitching lines is you cut them to the size you need.  I just happened to have some leftover pieces from a different project that worked perfectly for this.  My scrap pieces were 3.5" long, the perfect size for my binding.  I simply laid the stitching line across my fabric.

You can see the solid black line is matched to the 45 degree line on my mat. 
I pinned the stitching line in place once it's lined up.

Pinned in place ready to sew!
Now, I just stitched right down the line.  I did change my stitch length to 2.0.

Stitching right along
After it's stitched, I rip the paper right off.  I did not throw the stitching lines away!  I can still use each side.  

I keep both of these pieces.  I will use each one for joining more strips. 
Now it's time to trim and press.

I placed the 1/4" line of my ruler on the seam and trimmed off the excess fabric.
I pressed the strip. 
Remember those little pieces I ripped off's time to use them.  I found the end of the strips I just joined and started over.  I placed the end right side up on the cutting mat and lined it up with the 45 degree line again.  I put strip number 3 perpendicular with right sides together. This time I lined up the dotted line of the stitching lines with the 45 degree on my cutting mat. 

Pin it in place, sew, rip paper off, trim, and press.   

Now it's time to throw away the paper.  I used the Stitching Lines the most efficient way!

I continued with this process until I had all 7 strips joined together.  Once they are all joined I pressed the binding in half lengthwise with wrong sides together.  My binding ended up being 1.25" x 280" (approximately).  Now it's time to put it on the quilt...but I'm saving that for next time.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I join my binding strips.  I really like using the stitching lines for this because I hate drawing on fabric.  I did forget to mention that the Stitching Lines are also a great tool for making half square triangles.  The great thing is you cut them to the size you need.  And if you're into saving money you can use them several times just like I did.

Just remember, there's always more than one way to do something, especially in quilting.  This is certainly not the only way to join binding strips, but it is my favorite way.      

As always, leave us a comment and let us know what you think.  Have you used the stitching lines?  What did you think?  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Add a Flange to Your Quilts

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm always looking for ways to add a little flair to my projects.  Who doesn't love flair?  I know I get tired of doing the same old thing all the time so I thought I would try adding a flange to a border.  Are you asking yourself right now, "What the heck is a flange?"  A flange, by definition is a projecting edge of cloth used for decoration.  I have to confess I had no idea the folded piece of fabric sticking out on quilts was called a flange. But, I guess flange sounds better than folded fabric thingy.  Any who...a flange is actually very easy to add to a quilt.  You can add it to the border or individual blocks. 

First, cut the flange pieces.  The size will vary depending on what you're adding it to.  For my demonstration, I added a flange in between the quilt top and the border.  

I measured the width and length of my quilt top and cut 4 pieces that were 1.5" wide x the appropriate length.  The 1.5" width is a personal preference, it will yield approximately a 1/2" flange.  A wider cut will yield a wider flange.   

Next press the flange in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.

Lay the flange on top of the quilt top (or block) with raw edges lined up.  

Sew or pin all 4 pieces of flange in place one piece at a time.  I attached the top and bottom then the left and right.   I chose to sew it in place because I didn't want to try to pin through multiple layers of fabric ~ the quilt top, the flange, and the border fabric.

Flange sewn to quilt top. 

**Note ~ I used a very small seam allowance when attaching the flange because I didn't want the threads to show.  This will ensure the 1/4" seam attaching the border will cover all my stitching when I attach the flange.  

This is my 1/4" foot.  You can see I'm not following the edge of my foot because I want to make sure these stitches are buried in the seam allowance.

Once the 4 pieces of flange are added it's time for the final borders.  Add the borders as you normally do.  If you have trouble with skipping stitches you may need to try a larger needle.  A flange does add some thickness to the seam.   

Adding the border...notice I am now following my 1/4" foot. 

Last border going on now

Ta Da!  The white flange is all done!
I really like the way the flange adds just enough separation between the quilt top and the border.  It also adds just the right amount of dimension! 

Here's a quick look at an individual block with flange...

I added the flange to this block to help it stand out.  Without the flange, the block would get a little lost since it has a lot of black and it's surrounded by black.  
And a close up...

Next time you need to add a little flair give flange a try.  It's quick and easy and adds a lot to your quilt.  

As always, I try to do my best describing the process but I'm human and I do mess up.  I know, it's hard to believe but it's true.  If you have questions please let me know.  Post a comment or send an email to 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lazy Angle Ruler...Take it or Leave it?

I've seen a lot of amazing patterns lately that use the Lazy Angle Ruler.  So naturally, I wanted to try it out.  I played around with the ruler this morning and I've decided...I'll take it!

Like anything else new, there was a small learning curve.  But after ripping out the very first seam...I was good to go. 

So, let me show you what I did today.

First, I grabbed some left over Amelia fabric, a little white, and my cutter and away I went.

The cool thing about this ruler is you use strips of fabric ranging from 1.5" to 6.5" in width.  So, you could use jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc. if you love precuts which I do!

I decided I would use 5.5" strips just because that was the size of my scraps.

I'm going to cut my A pieces first. 
The ruler is lined up exactly how I will cut.  You cut along the diagonal edge of the ruler.  This is considered a right facing A piece.

Next, you need to flip the ruler around to line up the diagonal edge and make another A piece.  See below

Note my ruler is now upside down and I will cut along the straight edge on the right of the ruler. 

I kept flipping the ruler until I had 4 A pieces.  Now, it's time to do the B pieces. 

The B pieces will be triangular shapes.

I have the left side of my fabric lined up with the 5.5" line on the ruler.  Cut along diagonal side.

Now, you have to flip the ruler so it is right side down and flipped left to right.

Cut along straight edge on right side

I know that part sounds confusing but after you do it once, it's a piece of cake!  If I can do it, you can do it. 

I kept flipping the ruler until I had 4 B pieces.  Then I cut another set of A & B pieces in another color combo just for fun!

Here's all my pieces! 
Now it's time to sew them all together.   Here's where things got a little scary for me but I managed to get the hang of it after one seam gone awry!

You will sew one A piece and one B piece together. 

The B piece should line up with the right edge of the A piece. 
This is the important part...if you don't line them up right you will have to rip the seam out...ask me how I know.  You guessed it!  I ripped out the first seam.  There should be a little bow formed at the bottom and of course your pieces are right sides together. 

The blue piece overlaps the white just enough to create the little bow tie.
I found it was easier to measure to make sure I had them lined up correctly.

You can see that there is 1/4" seam from the edge of the pieces to the seam I made. 
I kept telling myself that my thread needed to be right in the center of the intersection of the two pieces.  If it ends up to the left or right of the little intersection you will have to rip out your seam.  It's not hard at just takes a little practice.  I hate ripping out seams so I measured before I sewed.  However, after a couple blocks I was confident enough to eyeball it with no problems at all.

Now you can press it open and block done.

You will have little triangles that need to be trimmed at the top and bottom.

little triangle at the top that needs to be clipped off
little triangle at the bottom that needs to be clipped off

After you sew 4 blocks together you can twist and turn however you like.  One design is below...

This is 4 blocks put together to form a spinning star.'s another color version. 

I like the white star too!

But guess what...we've only just begun.  You can take this block and slice and dice it to get something like this...

Or this...

Both of the above variations have two B pieces.  But guess what...there's still more.  You can keep slicing and dicing and adding B pieces to make all kinds of stuff!  The included directions show 18 block variations!  I did NOT make 18 blocks...sorry.  I ran out of time.  I do have kids and I already obsess about quilting more than I should.  But you get the idea, the possibilities are endless!  And don't worry.  You won't have to sell your first born to buy this awesome gadget.  The Creative Grids Lazy Angle Ruler is very reasonably priced at $21.95.  Not too bad for such a versatile little gadget! 

So, don't be scared, you can do it!  And don't be discouraged if you rip out a seam.  In fact, I would start with a few scraps just in case.

We would love to hear from you if you have this ruler or if you've used it.  We welcome all comments even if you aren't as gaga as I am over this ruler!

Happy sewing!
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