Monday, November 24, 2008

Sewing Room Clean-up

I had another snow day last Friday. My quilting friend came over and we spent most of the day cleaning up my sewing room. It had not been tidied for a very long time and had reached the stage where I could not do any sewing in there. I also could not find things very easily--it was such a mess. It had also become a dumping ground for stuff that did not have another home. These before pictures tell the sorry tale... they were actually taken part way into the clean-up.

I am happy to say that now the room is looking much better. My sewing machine has been moved out of the family room and back into the sewing room where it belongs. I even did some sewing in there tonight for the first time in over a year. My family is very happy. They were beginning to think that my "sewing room" had taken over the rest of the house... Here are some pictures of the very neat version of my sewing room. All of the containers and drawers now have labels to tell me where things are...It looks so much better!!! I have a much better idea how much I have in my "stash" and where all my tools are as well. It will be a lot more fun to spend time in here now!!!
Tonight, I made a cloth book from a panel for my cousin's new baby boy. They live on a farm so I thought this cloth book panel was perfect for baby "Cameron".

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snow Day!

Yesterday, I did not go to work because of heavy snowfall and poor road conditions. Today, I am not able to get to work either for the same reason. So, yesterday, I had a snow day! That meant I could spend much of the day sewing! I completed the last 18 of my Cobblestones blocks and worked on a Christmas gift. I can't post a picture of the Christmas gift--that might ruin the surprise! However, I can show you pictures of several layout options for my Cobblestones quilt. There are 48 blocks in this lap quilt and over 80 options on layouts. Here are some of the designs I tried on the family room floor last night. Let me know which one you like.

Today, I am going to clean up my very messy sewing room. Stay tuned for some before and after pictures.

Monday, November 17, 2008

10 Things I learned

My sewing spot, all ready to start the workshop...

This past Saturday, I went to a workshop organized by my quilt guild, the London Friendship Quilters Guild. The teacher was Heather Stewart. There were about 20 quilters there and we spent a glorious day sewing and learning. During the process of starting a "Cobblestones" quilt, Heather gave us many tips and tricks, many of which she has developed herself in her 27 years of teaching quilting.

Here are 10 of the many things I learned on Saturday:

1. Use a dry iron (no steam) to press when quilting. The steam can distort the fabric. Always iron in the direction the threads are going . Don't wiggle the iron or iron in circles or curves. This also makes the fabric go off grain. (I have to admit I was a steaming wiggler before Saturday!)

2. Wear leather shoes when using a rotary cutter. Protect your feet while cutting. If you drop the rotary cutter, a lot of blood can be shed. Heather told us of a quilter who had to have surgery to fix a severed tendon in her foot after dropping her rotary cutter on her foot.

3. Clean your equipment. Rulers can be washed in dish soap and water in the sink to remove oils from your hands. Take apart your rotary cutter after doing a lot of cutting (say for one quilt) and clean the blade and plastic parts with a soft cloth to remove fabric lint. Take the blade out of the rotary cutter with a fridge magnet to avoid cutting yourself. Cutting mats can be cleaned with a damp scrubby--the kind you get in the bath aisle at the drug store --using a circular motion and some elbow grease.

4. When cutting with a rotary cutter, hold it like this:
Note the index finger is on the ridges of the handle just above the blade to apply pressure to the right spot on the blade for even cutting. The above picture also shows how to hold your other hand on the ruler--at least one inch back from the edge to avoid cuts if the blade slips up onto the ruler, and with just the tips of the fingers on the ruler for more even pressure on the ruler. She called this her "live spider" as opposed to a "dead spider" where the hand is flat on the ruler.

5. Always stand to do rotary cutting. Your cutting surface should be 3 inches below your elbow to help avoid repetitive strain injuries.

6. Your sewing machine bed should be 2-3 inches below your elbows when you are sitting at the sewing machine. Sit up straight and align the centre of your body with the needle. Your back will not hurt as much after a long sewing session. (I also have to admit I was a hunched over sewer, at least until Saturday)

7. Your foot pedal should be directly in front of your knee with your foot pointing straight ahead--this also helps to avoid a sore back. Heather gave each of us a piece of rubber web (the stuff you buy to put under throw carpets so they don't slide across the floor) to put under our foot pedals so they did not slide across the floor as we sewed.

8. When ironing, let the pieces cool on the flat surface of the ironing board before moving them to the sewing machine. This will help the pieces to keep their shape.

9. Use cascade cutting when using the rotary cutter. We were cutting 1 1/2 inch strips. Heather suggested we cut the edges of the fabric off to create a straight edge (to the right of the ruler in the picture below) and then cut a 6 inch strip (the width of the ruler).
She then moved the ruler to her left and put the edge of the ruler at 4 1/2 inches. She cut here and then moved it over to 3"...
and then 1.5 inches.

All this cutting, and we did not have to move the fabric once! This sped up the cutting process considerably.

10. Keep sewing. They make more fabric every day. Always wash your fabric before sewing with it to wash out the chemicals and to preshrink it.

And now, here are some pictures of my Cobblestones blocks. I finished 3 blocks at the workshop and had several more in various stages of being done at the end of the day. I spend some time last night making some more blocks. Here is a picture of my completed blocks as of last night. There are many different layout options for this quilt. When I have all 48 blocks done for my lap size quilt, I will play with the blocks and take some pictures to post on my blog. The blocks are 8.5 inches before sewing them together.

I'm off to do more sewing...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Trees are done!

I finally figured out a way to make the trees work!!! Thanks to Christine for your suggestions! Here they are...
Tonight, I started on the houses, but yikes!!!, each one has a triangle roof!!! I have 8 houses to make. Wish me luck...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Table Runners and Cobblestones

I finished two table runners on the weekend. Here is the first, made from a Moda Charm pack.
The second one is a gift for my cousin and his wife who grow pumpkins. I am a bit late for this year's pumpkin season, but they can display it next year at pumpkin time!

I spent much of my time this past weekend preparing 20 fat quarters for a "Cobblestones" workshop which is coming up this Saturday. It is being led by Heather Stewart for a group of London Friendship Quilters Guild members. Heather is our speaker this Thursday night at our guild meeting. There is a lot of cutting for this quilt! It should sew up much more quickly now that all of the cutting is done. I am looking forward to a day of uninterrupted sewing time. This fabric was purchased when I was on vacation during the March Break 2008. The fabrics are from a Moda fabric bundle called "Acorn Hollow". I love these colours! With all of this prep work done, I can get back to my triangle trees later this week.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tree triangle problems and a new BOM project.

I started a new project last night--I puchased the pattern for a table topper at the quilt store in St. Jacob's. It has a central square surrounded by pieced stars, houses and trees. I picked out some homespuns from my stash and started cutting out the pieces last night. I am working on the trees tonight and now realize that the pattern does not have any measurements or templates for the triangles. I cut out what I thought would work but the side triangles are too small once they are sewn to the trees. I called a quilting friend for some advice and will try her idea in a few minutes. If anyone has any other ideas on how to solve this problem, please let me know! Here are a couple of pictures of my project. The centre square with a frame sewn on it is in the first picture. The other fabrics will be used for the 8 houses.

The other picture shows my tree problems...

I also started a new BOM project from Claudia's Quilt Shoppe - Free BOM
I made the centre block of what will be a wallhanging. Various borders will be added to the centre block each month. I purchased this material at a quilt store near Peterborough last winter.

I'm off to work on the trees...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More quilt show photos

The above quilt was made my friend, Jacqui. It is an underground railroad quilt--she made two --this one is wall hanging size and the other is bed size.

This quilt was made by Cynthia. I love the snowmen!

The above wall hanging was made entirely of felted wool.

My twin neices turned 9 last week. Every year, I make them flannel PJ's for their birthday. They are so cozy and warm! Here are pictures of this year's gifts:

I have some wall hangings mostly done. I will post pictures when they are done.