A HOT time making masks

A Hot Time making masks – Having a heatwave in Delaware this past week, where outside temps are in the nineties every day. The humidity has been over 80% most days as well. I have a freestanding Haier air conditioner in my sewing room and it isn’t keeping up with the heat. Temps have been over 80 in my studio space all week. We live in a 117 year old house without central air and this morning, my kitchen a/c said it was 80 when I got up. Trying to sleep last night in the bedroom at 80 degrees was miserable. Our pool was 95 last night and I am ever so grateful for the brief downpour we had this morning, to add cool water to the pool, bring up the water level and cool off the surfaces, decking, roof and more. The morning temp dropped from 81 to 77 so that was quite nice. So, time spent in my sewing room studio above the garage is “weather dependent” right now.

I was creating a few masks for my granddaughters last weekend and posted some photos on Facebook. The 3 below are size small, and took me about 3 hours from start to finish. This is my absolute favorite style of mask to make, and although very time intensive is the best style for fit I have made.

small masks for little people

The ones in the photo below I made on “speculation” a few would be purchased. I spent Sunday and Monday making 10 masks in my sewing room where the temperature was nearing 85 degrees.

Medium masks
amazing cats
Laurel Burch fabric
mint with teal green purple

Medium turquoise

My grand kids don’t know yet if they are going back to school “physically” in the fall, but if they do, they will need to be wearing masks all the time for the foreseeable future. One of the granddaughters liked some of the “speculation” masks I made and I made the elastic adjustment to fit her face properly.

Since I was having the kids for a pool time one day this week, they all came up to the sewing room (85 degrees in the late afternoon) and picked out 5 fabrics each from the “quilters resource center” (aka – stash). The are elementary and middle school age and the fabric choices were so interesting.

Masks for a middle school boy
Middle school boy…(middle fabric is more maroon than pink)

The fabric on the far right is official Boy Scout fabric with words.

Masks choices
Artsy middle school girl picked fabric with a vine theme
Second grader masks
Elementary school child choices

The nearly 8 year old elementary child came over yesterday morning and she learned to iron. She loves the OLISO iron with the pop up feet. Close supervision kept her from burning any fingers. She mastered spritzing the fabric with the spray bottle and loved watching the steam roll up off the fabric when she press it. She also learned about proper rotary cutting. Once the pieces were cut for 4 masks, she pressed the pleats using the pleating guide and enjoyed working with all my little binding clips to keep them in place. She also did the stitching on the ear channel (where the elastic goes) on my Janome 8900. She could sit on my stool, and I could sit behind her. It was easier for her to sew with the stop/start button. I made sure the plastic guide was set up, and she learned to chain piece. She really likes my little snips.

I was able to rotate this design on the screen in my machine. The pattern was purchased from Creative Appliques

The pleating template is part of the pattern, and there are multiple sizes in the pattern, so chose carefully based on your own machine hoop limitations. There is a 4×4 hoop option at Creative Appliques, along with other mask styles.

Using my Janome 11000 and the MA hoop(8×12 adjustable), I could get 4 of the small masks in one hooping. I like to conserve stabilizer by maximizing the number in the hoop. Mediums can be stitched 3 in a hoop with careful adjustments to mask placement on the screen and in the machine. I’ve mentioned “windowing stabilizer” on other blog posts. Link to that post – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/windowing-stabilizer-the-twist-and-more/

I also have a video on removing items from the hoop for windowing – https://www.flickr.com/photos/92296158@N02/49789624736/in/album-72157712813350817/

Mediums in the hoop
3 mediums in my MA hoop

When I make this particular style mask, my husband creates nose wires for me from copper electric wire he has. He strips the plastic coating off the wire, pulls out the copper wire and strips it bare, cuts it to my desired length and curls the ends.

Cutting and prepping the fabric for these masks is much more time consuming than the donation masks I made back in March, April and May. They take longer because each mask has 5 pieces of fabric, and every piece is a different size. Each piece is prepared a differently before they are stitched, pleating folding, pressing etc.

Beyond the directions provided by Creative Applique, I add machine stitching on the ear channels so nothing “ravels” in the wash, and I add extra stitches to hold the nose wire “in place”. I also have been cutting into my $14/yard fabric for these masks. So, they are time consuming and rather expensive to make when you consider all the stabilizer, thread, and extra stitching I do. These masks have such a nicer fit than a typical 6×9 rectangular mask. There are 5 different pieces that go into the one mask, all cut to various sizes.

prepped and ready
Taped and stitching

When I am working on these masks, you can’t take your eyes off the machine for a minute, and there is a lot of taping things in place so the foot of the machine doesn’t get caught.

My daughter and I think it is important for the children to be “invested” in the process of making masks. Their labor and efforts will be remembered, and help them to have a better understanding of what actually goes into what “grandma” made. The “big” kids will get their turn, individually, to come over and spend some time making their masks.

I stopped making masks in May because I was burnt out and depressed. I am ONLY making masks for my family now. When asked by friends, I will sell them masks, because it is a lot of work. The idea of “selling to friends or strangers” can be a contentious subject. Believe me, I am not profiteering on COVID-19. If you are new here, understand that I have made and donated nearly 200, and many went to friends when you couldn’t BUY a mask anywhere back in early April. I stopped making donation masks in May because I was burnt out! I have invested a lot of money since the outbreak of COVID-19 in supplies, and charging people now is a way to recover the costs and enable me to continue to move forward and to supply masks to charitable groups. There are still groups asking for mask donations.

I set my price for these masks based on the time it takes me to make a high quality product and to offset the costs of fabric, elastic, stabilizer. You can buy a cheaper mask online and if money is your issue, then buy a box of disposable masks. You will get something made in a factory and it will go in the landfill.

masculine fabric for masks
Medium size masked prepped for stitching

Scrap Happy and Allietare Updates

Fair warning – lots of photos!  

Just a few years ago, I dug in the scrap storage boxes and put together about 30 blocks using Pat Sloan’s pattern Scrap Happy Little Wishes Star Challenge. (See Pat’s post – Scrap Happy Stars for the free pattern)

I wrote about the project once or twice at the time and showed off my blocks, joined together with black sashing here – Just a border or two.

Well, if you have been following me for any time at all, you know you sometimes never see the end result…or maybe I left you wondering “what did she decide?”…..

Well, let me tell you….NOTHING for almost 5 years!  Honestly, I have told others that I am a “top maker’ not a quilter at times.  I have a LOT of tops made, hanging on hangers on my storage shelves that get forgotten because something ‘new and exciting’ comes along.  In fact, some are hanging so long I had to put them on NEW hangers because the hook of the hanger was stretched out due to the weight.

I get tempted by shiny new fun patters.  Why, just the other day, Pat Sloan started another “new sew along” and I was really feeling tempted.   And then, our local quilt shop, Serendipity Quilt Shop in Dagsboro Delaware announced a new sew along.  The pattern, Serendipity House in the Pumpkin patch, calls to me. Check it out here – House in the Pumpkin Patch.  You know if you follow me that I always have a container of “autumn colors” just waiting on another opportunity! Now I have TWO fun sew alongs to think about.

Before I could l do anything else though, I needed to fold up the massive (111″ x 120″) backing  for my Allietare quilt and get the backing and top in the mail to California for quilting by my wonderful sister in law, the One Block Wonder Woman .

Remember the fabrics I was using?  (Some of this may be a repeat of a previous post/photos…but I just love this fabric group!)

Border fabric choices

Top fabric (wine labels) is the border fabric. The herringbone gold and the grape fabric are on the back, along with this wonderful Bella Toscana fabric I was inspired by last month –

Bella Toscana by Windham Fabrics

My plan was pretty simple for the backing – scribbled out quickly.  (The quilt will be WIDE because of the drop on our king size bed. I like a quilt to hang over the sides and get to the bottom of the thick top  mattress.)  My quilt top is 111″ wide by 99 ” long.

Planning the backing

Careful planning…no, what I call “quilt math”, but careful measurements of the actual project, careful cutting etc and I fairly quickly had a quilt back ready. What really slowed me down was ironing those massive pieces before cutting, and after stitching.

Backing ready to stitch Allietare

Carolyn was kind enough to advise me she needed 4 inches on the sides for the long arm clamps; and to remember to do 1/2″ seams, pressed open. I did leave the selvedge on the edges of the final pieces, as they will be where the clamps are and they will get trimmed off after the quilting. I’d forgotten to take a photo of the backing before I shipped it, but Carolyn, the One Block Wonder Woman was kind enough to snap a picture of it on her design wall.  She said it was so big it took over her sewing room! The backing is about 120″ wide by 110″ long.

Quilt backing for Allietare

Remember the front?

Alllietare Winter Mystery Quilt outside

I’m so glad it arrived by mail without TOO many wrinkles.  Hanging up for a bit will help them to shake out I hope.  I hate to see her have to iron that beast, enough that she is loading it on the long arm and doing all the quilting.  If you quilt for others and they mail you tops/backings, how do you manage the inevitable winkling from the shipping?  Does a steamer work or do you have to iron the whole thing??   Allietare is a pattern by the queen of scraps, Bonnie Hunter and the pattern is available on her online store.

Anyway; now that Allietare is ‘under control’ and OFF my table, back to my Pat Sloan  Scrap Happy Little Wishes story!  I went to the sewing room and looked at one of my cutting tables, buried in STUFF.  A disaster zone for sure!  I went up with the intent of “cleaning it up” but to be honest, it looks like this 4 days later STILL.

Disaster zone

Last week I was making “string blocks” for borders, so there are bins of stings, baskets of scraps and so much more on that table.  I had one basket of string blocks made, and decided to join them together into a “string border”.  (I wanted to sew, not clean….at least, that is what I told myself when I picked up the baskets).  Sewing string blocks uses scraps, which I needed to clear up, right?  I use phone book paper as a foundation for my string blocks.  At one time, I had my strings sorted by width, then as I was digging for the right color, I resorted by color. Sometimes I have to get in the scrap aver boxes to find the perfect strip.  Anyway, working on string blocks is what I do when I have no sewing “plan”, and I hadn’t quite gotten to the Scrap Happy Little Wishes quilt.  (I’ve had vertigo for a week now, so mindless sewing of string blocks was about all I could manage) . Honestly, cleaning up from multiple projects was more than my wobbly head could manage last week.

Since my BIG cutting table was cleared off, I could lay out all the string blocks and arrange them so there were not similar fabrics too close together.

More string border blocks

Anyway, at some point I measured what I had sewn together and discovered I had enough to go around something that was hanging on a hanger waiting on borders.  I had made 268″ of a 6″ wide border, and while getting down my Scrap Happy Quilt, I found 336″ of  4″ borders all done too.

String borders

I laid out my Scrap Happy Stars on the table and immediately decided I didn’t want to put either of those string borders “next to the black sashing”.

Scrap Happy Stars on the table

There JUST wasn’t enough space between the busy scrappy stars and the scrap borders.  So, I executed plan B.  I got out a bin of reds and oranges and yellows, did some more quilt math, and decided a 4″ border was what would work.  I have a tone on tone ORANGE (shown at the top of the photo above) that was also used in the sashing stones, and I decided it was perfect.  At this point, the quilt top was feeling rather “dark” to me, but the orange really brightened  it up.  I cut the sashing into 4″ strips, sewed it all together and then sub cut to length for the sizes I needed.  I added some cornerstones from my 4″ scrap storage, and in no time at all I had the borders attached.

Scrap Happy Little Wishes Challenge

At this point, I think I am going to leave “well enough alone” and figure out a backing and start quilting it.  My brain this morning was running along the line of putting it on my quilting machine frame (the one with the 9″ throat and the Janome 1500).  I need to learn how to use that machine, loading etc, and it is high time.  I am glad I bought some wide backing last winter from Marshall’s Dry Goods, but not sure if grey paisley is what I want to use.  I have some purple wide backing, but have to check and see if there is “enough”.  If not, I may order something else.  Did you know they sell 108″ wide back for $7.99 a yard, and you can get a 15 yard BOLT for under $80.  Great choices and I am thinking I have some shopping to do.

Sidenote Serendipity Quilt Shop is a small business in a very small town, and since the onset of the COVID-19 lockdowns, they have converted to totally online sales until it is safe for everyone to shop in person in their store. If you need something, new fabric is arriving daily, and they have $5 flat rate shipping or porch pick-up. Their amazing online shopping website is running well and this week (through July 12) there is 20% off on Moda Grunge.  So, if you need some fabric or notions, try to support the small business so they will be there after COVID-19 is history.  Serendipity is where I ordered that fabulous Bella Toscana fabric, catching it on sale.  I think I bought 7 or 8 yards, so I have enough for matching pillowcases.  The facebook post by Serendipity inspired me to get my Bonnie Hunter Allietare off the hanger!!  

It is a very nice feeling to move two projects forward that have been “hanging around” for so long.  No worries though, I have lots more UFO’s to tackle.  All but one of the series of Scrap Dance Mystery Quilts I have done over the years are still “on hangers” . Well, except the last one, it is still on the design wall.  Carole is publishing the TWIST soon.  When I was looking through photos yesterday I realised I had ONE of the Scrap Dance series finished.  I had to go back to my blog and find the post about it.  Turns out, I finished it around September 2015, about the same time I was making the blocks for the Scrap Happy Stars!

Scrap Dance Quilt Along Finish!

Seems I like those scrappy projects!!!I was busy that year.  (You may see some of the same fabrics in BOTH projects!)

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.  I appreciate all of your comments when you take the time to post them.  I often say I am slow to blog anymore because I don’t have much to say, or I don’t have any photos to support the post. Today it seems like I might be overwhelming you with photos and narrative.   So, I am glad you took the time to get this far, and hope you enjoyed the post.

What are you doing on this hot July day for fun???

Making Labels for Quilts

In the last couple of weeks I got motivated to make labels for projects that are “nearing” completion or are completed.  If you have been reading my blog in the last month or so, you know that I finished TWO of my Pat Sloan projects (Get to the Point and Mama’s Garden) that were started in classes several years ago.  I am also working toward completion of my Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt, Allietare.

I like to make a label for my quilt as the “final step” in the project. I use my embroidery machine to make a simple label, and fuse & stitch it on.  (More about the embroidery machine in a minute.) Often times I will use part of the backing fabric as a border on the label so it kind of “floats” on the backing. I learned a trick years ago for “making perfect circles for applique” and use the method when I add the fusing product to my label.  Basically, I lay the fusible product on top of my label with the fusing facing the wording and stitch all the way around, then I slit the fusing in the middle with my snips, and turn the whole thing “right side out” . This way there is a nice neat “edge” on the label turned under, and I have the added benefit of a “hard to remove” label. I do stitch around the label by hand, avoiding going into the front of the quilt, much the way you stitch binding. I will put a link to a video at the bottom of the page that gives you a better “visual” than my explanation.

If I am “efficient” I have the label ready, so when the binding goes on, two edges of the label are stitched down by machine. Like I said, “IF I AM EFFICIENT“.  That means in my life that I better make the label BEFORE I bind the quilt, and that doesn’t always happen, so SOME have to be hand stitched on all 4 sides.  When I hand stitch, I use a matching thread so my sloppy hand sewing doesn’t show.  

Let’s talk about making machine embroidery labels.  If you followed me for anytime you know that I have two embroidery machines. I have the Brother PE500 with the 4×4 hoop and the Janome 11000 with lots of hoops, including an adjustable hoop up to 6×12 or so.  For years I made my labels on the Brother machine, using the available fonts in the machine, typing one line at a time on the tiny screen.   The example below is one done on the Brother machine, one line at a time.  Around 2017 I was given a hoop that can be repositioned on the machine, so making a bigger label could be done with out “re-hooping”. Using it for the label below I could get a longer label, and still keep everything lined up straight.  I got “pretty good” at the alignment thing and figuring out where to start the next line using the plastic grid that came with the hoops.  

Banner label

The yellow label was applied on the back of this project BEFORE the binding went on.  The beauty of using fusible on the back is that it will stay in place while you are working on the binding. 

When I made my label for the Mama’s Garden quilt, I was using a fabric piece that Pat Sloan had signed for me several years ago, either when I took her class or went to a guild lecture she gave.  I had to try to line up the wording on my Janome 11000 (again one line at a time), using built in fonts.  I had fun with this label as it is the first attempt at making a label on my Janome, and I got to use some larger fonts.  I wish I had pushed the words pattern by a little farther to the left, but, I can live with the final result.

Quilt label with signature

This label was stitched on after the binding went on. I used green of the backing fabric for the edge of the label, but set it opposite of the backing so it does not completely disappear.

I have a couple of “free software” programs for embroidery, and decided I would try one of them to make my next label, using the software on the computer.  The program I chose to use was called Embrilliance Express and I used the fonts in the program.  I was really pleased with the result on the screen and with the stitch out.

Get to the Point label

I haven’t figured out how to tell the software to cut the jump stitches between letters, but I can live with them.  If you use Embrilliance Express and know the secret, do share!

  I hooped this fabric in my 8×8 hoop and got a nice size label.  I did the fusible trick and got nice edges and corners when I turned the label out right. I fused it on and hand stitched it down on all four sides.

I had such good success with the creation of the label in the Embrilliance Express software on the computer that I got busy and made another label and stitched it out for my Allietare quilt.

Allietare label

For this label I used my inspiration fabric on the edges of the top and bottom.  I will add the fusible after I get the quilt ready to bind.  I still need to get busy and make that backing and ship it all off to my favorite sister-in-law, One Block Wonder Woman

She has graciously offered to quilt it for me on her big long arm machine, Greta the Gammill.  Go take a look at her blog I linked and check out her adventures. 

So, that is my adventure in making quilt labels this month, and over the years. I need to learn how to import fonts into the Embrilliance program, and hope I can do that without buying something else.  I am so tickled with how the last two worked out and am writing about it to encourage you to use your embroidery machines if you have them.  Even if you just have a 4×4 hoop, you can make a multi line label!  Embrilliance is free in the “express mode”, and it is not to hard to navigate, which is perfect in my life!

Do you label your quilts?  What information do you like to include on the label?  How do you make your labels and apply them?  Love to hear what your methods are, as I like to continue to learn new tricks.

Here is the link Making perfect circles for applique  for the method I use for adding the fusible to my label and getting a nice clean edge.  The not only works for circles, it also is useful for rectangles or squares.  I tend to get a more “rounded” corner instead of a sharp 90 degree turn, which is fine for a quilt label in my life.

 

Fun with kids and a final finish

Had some fun this week with a grandchild. My very youngest granddaughter  (age 4)  and her mom invited me for a bike ride around our favorite trail. The weather was perfect for getting out and getting some fresh air.  The state parks require you to still bring a mask and wear it whenever you are near other park users.  It gets a little tricky to pull the mask up over your mouth and nose when riding, but we managed. Sadly, not another person we saw had masks, around their neck, on their face at all. The park has big signs when you enter, but virtually ignored. We try to do the right thing, and that’s the best we can do.  My daughter and I feel like we don’t want to hear about people complaining about those “bike riders”, so we follow the rules.  Anyway, we had a great mid day ride, and then treated ourselves to a “take out lunch”.

a little exercise

Our take out lunch was from a little restaurant downtown (Cafe on the Circle, Georgetown DE). I phoned ahead and ordered the special for the day. It was a wonderful grilled chicken with avocado, bacon and ranch on a soft kaiser roll. My daughter chose potato salad and I chose coleslaw. The sides were both delicious. The Cafe on the Circle has lovely outdoor seating behind the restaurant.  Highly recommend if you are looking for a take out lunch. I’m planning to pick up lunch again later this week. (We have only done take out twice since March, and I am SO ready to not be cooking every day!) 

After lunch, my granddaughter and I went up to my sewing room to see about repairs to a much loved “unicorn backpack”.  It seems that the poor unicorn had lost a leg, in what her mother referred to as a “shark attack”. (Kid shark, baby shark, doggie shark???) The bag also had a critical “loop” come undone that helped hold the straps in place.  My granddaughter helped me with the sewing while her mommy took pictures. 

Sewing with a 4 year old

  It only took me two tries to get it right….Goofy Moofie!  I forgot the first time thru to loop the plastic bit over the strap, so we did a little unsewing and re-sewing. She loved the pink thread I used to close up the lining.  I did do a little reinforcement stitching on the other straps attachments. (Makes you wonder why they weren’t tacked down better!)

Then, we had to figure out what to do for the poor unicorn who had lost it’s leg in that “shark attack”.  Did we want to make a new leg, remove the remaining leg, or perhaps we could learn about differently abled bodied unicorns…..Mommy and child discussed and we repaired where the leg had come off, and she has a great tale to tell of her one legged unicorn!

A little hand sewing

We learned how to use a needle threader and she and I stitched together, sewing up the wounded parts, just like a doctor would. Four years old and wanting to sew. Those little fingers did a great job holding on to the needle and thread. She got the concept pretty quickly of pushing the needle through. 

All and all a great kind of Stitching Grandma day!  (Don’t judge the messy sewing room….)

Finished the binding on Mama’s Garden and hand stitched the label and hanging sleeve too! I did the “binding with the flange” also known as Susie’s Magic Binding.  

Binding on Mama's Garden

Just love the way that little pop of color looks.  

mama's garden completed

Mama’s Garden is officially complete!

  Just in time to take to the Material Girls Quilt bee on Wednesday morning!  We are having an “outside” / “in the garage in case of rain” quilt bee with appropriate social distancing and wearing our wonderful hand made masks!  It will be fun to have “something finished” to show !  It will be nice to catch up in person with conversations, and see how others are coping. 

It is fun teaching a young person to do something you love!  Last week I babysat and taught two grandchildren how to play backgammon. (They both beat me!).  A year and a half ago I taught my husband to play while we were on a cruise.  I love the game, and it is very fun to play.  Next time I play with the grandkids, I am not going to give them all my “favorite moves”….but while they were learning the ins and outs, they learned all my secrets!

We are keeping our family circles pretty tight for a while, when things are starting to “open back up”.  None of us want to be the guinea pig for the COVID-19 virus, so we are taking steps to ease back into community life very carefully, and not put the rest of the family at unnecessary risk. This way, we can spend time together, which we desperately missed in the months of March, April and May.  We are “bouncing contact situations” off of each other to make certain none of us do anything the others are not comfortable with. It is MUCH more fun to see them in person than over a video chat!  Social distancing from friends is not fun, but as long as we can see “each other” in the family, it is tolerable.  We will “avoid” restaurants and hair salons, and such for just a little longer to see how the area responds to things opening up. My enjoyment of food is getting kicked up a notch with the take out lunch following the bike ride, and family dinner with pizza made by someone else, and NOT out of the freezer!!!  

 How are you doing with the “distancing”??  Have you had any fun with a project lately?  Taught a youngster a thing or two??  

Mama’s Garden nearly finished

Last week, we left off with the applique pieces all fused on, and ready to stitch. https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/2015-was-a-good-year/

stitching around

Fun with blanket stitching

thread fun

Playing with variegated threads

applique stitched down

Top stitching completed

Once all the applique was stitched down, I had to start thinking about borders. I re-read all the instructions, and I looked at lots of “other quilters projects” that had been made, including Pat Sloan’s. I decided to dig out my container of Pat Sloan “Bobbins and Bits” fabric by Moda and lay it all out around this project. In doing so, I shared photos on Facebook and got input from some friends.

more choices

Each of the potential border fabrics was in the background

Fun fabrics

Decision time

fabric to chose from

Tough decision for a 4-5″ border

The favorite by far was the red background sunflower. However, I listened to the advice of three people, one non-quilter and two quilters, and decided to follow their suggestions.

I went with a fabric that was NOT in the project, and did so to give a frame to the busy piece. The recommendation to NOT use a piece already in the project was strong and the logic was it would draw your eye directly to it’s matching bit instead of framing the project. I think the advice was exactly what I needed, so I changed direction entirely. My non-quilting daughter suggested finding a color that was in the project but not overwhelmingly so. That was also great advice. My other quilting buddy said pick a fabric that will give your eye a “resting spot”.

Borders are on

Border is on – ready to quilt

The green was a good choice, and I was quite happy to fold up the remaining fabric for another project.

I had fun with the quilting and thread choices on my domestic sewing machine. I did mostly “walking foot” but some free motion.

Quilting on my domestic machine

Fun with flowers

 
fun with the quilting

Hanging sleeve ready

The back of the project – hanging sleeve

I used the same fabric on the back of the project as I did for the borders and had “just enough”. It is a neat fabric and I love the way the quilting shows on the back. I made color choices for the front with the thread, but stuck with Superior bottom line silver in the bobbin.

When I put the binding on, I will stitch down the hanging sleeve by machine along the top edge, and hand stitch the bottom and sides of the sleeve. I even have the label finished. I did it on my embroidery machine, and still have some “alignment learning curve” to get past, but I had to try and do the label and preserve the signature that was already on the fabric.

Quilt label

Pat Sloan signed this fabric 5 years ago!

When I made this label, I added a strip of the backing fabric to the white on the top and the bottom, so it would fit in my embroidery machine hoop. I trimmed off the excess when I was finished with the stitching. Then, I used a technique I learned from Pat Sloan years ago for making circles. I laid a piece of fusible interfacing with the sticky side facing the label stitching, and stitched all around the edges of the label. I slit the fusing and turned it around to the back of the piece. Now, I had a nice finished edge along my label, and I could press the label to the back of the project. I will add some hand stitching to the label after the binding is finished.

Trimmed and ready to bind

Ready to bind

Overall I am very pleased with the project. The binding will be put on today, using my favorite Susie’s Magic Binding technique. This has been a fun project.

What have you been working on?

Progress on a UFO – Allietare Mystery Quilt Circa 2015-16

This month seems to have motivated me a little bit to work on some projects that have been “fermenting” on the shelf or on hangers! Last blog post I talked a little about getting stalled when it came to putting borders on quilts.

One project that has been quietly hanging in my quilting room is a Bonnie Hunter pattern. It was the Winter 2015/16 mystery quilt she called Allietare. The pattern was inspired by one of Bonnie’s trips to Europe and the Tuscan countryside.

My quilt top has been assembled since about March, 2016, all but the last border. Apparently, I had shopped for border fabric, because I had a box, with 4 different fabrics.

Looking back through my project notebook, I had receipts from Hancock Fabrics (RIP) and Hobby Lobby for various pieces in the quilt. I also had the “color chips” from the original pattern, where Bonnie recommended, 5 color groups for the project. I remember when I started to shop for fabric that the colors on Bonnie’s graphic were not the same colors in the “suggested” colors. I had a scrap of fabric that really “matched” the graphic.

Colors

(Note…the “spelling changed from Allietore to Allietare” about the 2nd week of the project. I never made a new book cover.)

I really felt like the choice of black was too harsh for these colors, so I opted for a brown. And Bonnie suggested just one constant color and that was a GREY. Again, I felt like I need to use the green, like in my inspiration fabric.

Bits and pieces from the project
Inspiration fabric
inspiration fabric with “leftover blocks”

I was really happy with my fabric choices for the quilt top, but when it came to the border fabric, I stopped. I have to say I had 4 & 5 yard pieces of three different fabrics, and at the time, they just didn’t click with me for the project.

One more round if borders to go

Early this week, my local quilt shop posted a sale and some photos of fabric and one of them caught my eye. In fact, I got so excited, I had to go out to my quilt room, get the quilt top off the hanger and spread it out on the table to measure for borders.

Bella Toscana by Windham Fabrics

I debated and debated ordering this fabric for the borders. Because we still can’t enter the store, I didn’t have a good feel for it and how the width and the height of the repeat (12″) would work for my border. And in the long run, I thought it might be to light alongside that chocolate brown border.

So, I decided against ordering it for the border. What made my decision easier was pulling the box of fabric that I had originally purchased.

Border fabric choices
border fabric choices

As I set out the 3 fabrics on top of the quilt top, I knew why the grapes wouldn’t work, and why the gold wouldn’t work. But, I didn’t know why that top fabric had been previously thought “unworthy”. It was perfect.

So, I did my measuring and decided to cut 8.5″ strips of the wine label fabric for the borders. Lots of discussion with my husband about how to best show the labels. Yesterday after lunch I got busy, did the cutting and got the borders on, and the quilt top is now READY to be quilted.

on the work table
on the work table
border fabric choices

Now that the borders are on, the quilt top is 99 x 111″, perfect for our king size bed.

Borders are finally on
99″ long x 111″ wide King Size Allietare
Alllietare Winter Mystery Quilt outside

So, now, what about that Bella Toscana? I think it is going on the back of the quilt. I just loved that fabric, and have to do some quilt math in order to use it. The quilt is 99″ long. So, I think I will order 4 yards, and build the backing with that piece of Bella Toscana down the center. Because the quilt is very wide (111″), I need to build it up with something else. I initially thought to use the GRAPES fabric, but there is not enough to get the width I need on both sides of the center. I think that gold herringbone will come into play in the process, so, yes, a pieced back, with several sections. It will be fantastic, and I can’t wait to place my order today!

The big debate then is the quilting. As soon as my sister-in-law, Carolyn (aka OneBlockWonderWoman.wordpress.com) saw the photo, she volunteered to quilt it for me. We had lots of fun discussion about mailing it to her, or arriving with my suitcases full of quilts to long arm at her house on Greta the Gammil. That debate is still underway. In any event, I am really pleased with the outcome of the border.

If you are interested in the pattern, you can find it on Bonnie Hunter’s digital store https://quiltville.com/shop.html#!/Allietare-Digital-Pattern/p/59334161/category=13038426

For more about my adventures making this quilt top, just put Allietare in the search block on this page.

Are you catching up on anything this week?

UFO Complete — Get to the Point!

Not too long after I retired, I signed up for a series of “beginner quilt classes” at the local quilt shop.  We used two books by Pat Sloan, and made several patterns from “I Can’t Believe I’m Quilting” and the advanced book .  One project has been “fermenting” on my shelf. The pattern was called Get To The Point, and  I originally wrote about it in an early 2013 post- A Good Sewing Week.

A few weeks went by and it got mentioned – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/on-point-with-borders-wip-still/  . 

Later in 2013 I started to feel a little bugged by “unfinished class projects”  – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/unfinished-projects-starting-to-bug-me/

That doesn’t mean I finished them all, because a few years later I mentioned this quilt again again – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/such-a-follower/   and then again early the next year –https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/on-point-and-setting-triangles/

Looking back at all those blog posts (do that later), I realized I had multiple projects going on, and a lot of indecision about how to proceed with many of these projects. I’ve learned a lot with those projects, and one thing I learned about me is l love to piece quilt tops, but get stuck with the borders and the “finishing”.   

With this project, I decided to try my hand at “free motion quilting” not long after I put the top together and I hated the result, so the project got folded up and put on the shelf.  A few years later, it was one of my UFO challenge projects, and I took it off the shelf and worked at removing all of the free motion quilting. Oh, my seam ripper and I became very good friends.  Back on to the shelf it went to continue the fermentation process.  

This past week, I went out to my sewing room thinking I would work on my Vintage Christmas blocks, but somehow, that project caught my eye and I pulled it off the shelf and unfolded it to have a look.  I’d done some basic “stitch in a ditch” after removing the free motion quilting (or maybe that was before the free motion, I don’t remember). Anyway, I decided I could tackle this top and clear it off the shelf for good. 

Machine quilting

Because the quilt had been well anchored with the “stitch in the ditch”, I started with the borders. After the borders I moved into all the setting triangles, while thinking about how to quilt the sashing blocks.

Fun with quilting big spaces

These big squares got a squared off spiral, starting on the outer edge of the block and working around to the middle.  The quilt had poly bat and I remember the disaster I had with “not enough quilting” on another project, so I went with a lot of stitching to really anchor this top.  (No I don’t use poly batting any longer, but I didn’t want to totally take this apart).

I spent a lot of hours at my machine this week, with the walking foot on, and did a lot of “straight line” quilting. I used at least 4 bobbins of Superior Bottom Line silver thread, as I worked my way across the quilt, down the borders and around and around the triangles points. I also used Silver (Masterpiece by Superior) on the top of the quilt.  I like the silver because it pretty much disappears into the quilt and you see the texture but not a lot of the stitching.

IMG_20200527_205054458_HDR

The back of the quilt really shows off the quilting. The original “stitch in the ditch” quilting was a different thread, so it tends to be more visible on the back, but I am ok with that. 

IMG_20200527_121907055_HDR

 I finished the last block, trimmed the quilt and got the binding on yesterday, too. 

lots of quilting

I am SO happy that I had tucked away fabric for binding inside the folded quilt to use for the binding.   I did my favorite “binding with a flange” also known as Susie’s Magic Binding.  (The purple for the flange came from a scrap leftover from the Senior Quilt 2020 backing).

Get to the point

It finished at  57×74 (who knows why? Not me).  It is a great throw size for snuggling under in the recliner or on the back of the couch.  In this photo it is on top of the queen size bed in the guest room which currently has (gasp) a comforter on it, not a quilt. (It made a nice neutral backdrop.)  Before the evening was over last night, I ran it through the washer and dryer, and was able to sleep under it !  Ok, still needs a label, and I will try to do that today. 

Oh, one more thing — I assembled the Scrap Dance TWIST and put on one narrow border.  It is now an official UFO/waiting on borders! The pattern is by Carole Carter on her blog From My Carolina Home

Twist assembled with one border

It is 86×98 and I plan to put a 6″ border of some kind all around, but it needs some thought (oh geez) and a good pressing! (Shooting for a generous king size of course).

If you are interested in the Scrap Dance Twist pattern, it is available on Carole’s blog for another week or so, before she takes it down and publishes it for sale. Honestly, if you like scrappy patterns, this is a great one to make.  

Speaking of UFO’s….I took down off of hangers in my sewing room a bunch of them yesterday, to do a little show and tell during a zoom quilter chat.  There are a bunch, and when my friend asked how many I didn’t count the ones in bins.  Borders seem to stop me. I don’t know why, searching for the perfect fabric to set things off?  Realizing I have been making KING SIZED quilt tops (at least 5 or 6), and the idea of quilting them maybe is what stops me.  I ordered some grey wide backing in February, and have enough to finish at least 2 king sized. Perhaps my next UFO will be one of the oldest tops .  I’ll have to get back to you on that. Don’t hold your breath!  

Disclaimer….if you go back to those old posts that I shared in the links at the top of this post, the CROSSROADS and the 9 patch CUPCAKES, Friendship Star table runner are really finished!  The Allietare is still “waiting on borders”, as are several other “Scrap Dance mystery quilts”. 

What are you working on this week?

The Twist – A Scrap Dance Mystery -My Reveal

Last Friday (May 15) the  Scrap Dance Twist – The reveal was posted on the From My Carolina Home blog.  I have to tell you, I was expecting all those half square triangles we made in a previous step to turn into star points, so I was VERY excited to see the TWIST blocks!  Go over and take a look at the link above, but don’t forget to come back~!~

When I did Step 6 of the Scrap Dance Twist, making some wonderful 9 patches with my 4 patches and back ground fabrics, I put them up on my design wall, as there were so many, and they were now “too big” for the box.  I studied on them for 4 or 5 days and KNEW I had to take them apart and change out one of my white fabrics.  Honestly, WHAT was I thinking using that particular white fabric that was SO thin.  Honestly, how did that get in my stash…??????   Well…anyway….in the last couple of days, before I went on to Step 7 – The Reveal, I decided to rip out all those pieces.  I think what put me “over the edge” was the post Carole had done on Quilt Repair by hand.  She was repairing a vintage quilt that really had some horribly worn fabrics.  Reading that post convinced me to get rid of the inferior fabric!  Honestly….it was plain white, but was just not nice. I didn’t want my quilt shredding because of poor fabric.  Out came the seam ripper, and I spent an evening watching movies and taking out those pieces. Then I dug into my big tote of white fabrics and cut a big stack of replacement squares, and put the “Block A’ back together.  All but about 6 blocks had the crummy fabric, so you can imagine there was a lot of taking apart etc.  It wasn’t as bad as you might expect and in the course of a couple of afternoon’s work I had all my A blocks reassembled and I was ready to move on to Step 7!

As soon as I opened my box of remaining “parts” I discovered the big stack of background fabrics that also had some of that “inferior” white fabric.  I removed it all, and dug back into my giant bin of white fabric, cut some more background pieces from several different pieces, and got busy making the “B” block”.  Carole calls it the FOOTPRINT block!    My 28 “B” blocks went together nicely, and after clearing room on my design wall, I got all 56 blocks (A&B) up on the wall.  (Note; my design wall is a queen size flannel sheet, pinned to the wall with giant push pins.  I use pins to hold my blocks on the sheet, but only pin to the sheet, not the wall.)

TWIST - king size

There are a few blocks to move around, as suggested by Carole in her post.  I have some darker “center” squares and I want to balance them out a little bit more, as well as move some of the pieces that have the same prints a bit further away.  Scrappy can get tricky that way, and I could spend days moving things around.  I played with the photo on Google photos a bit, and with Flickr too.  I like to look at the blocks in black and white (B&W) to see if the darkness jumps out at me in any way.  I do find it helpful and will be using the B&W below as I start to move things around a bit.

Black and white twist

Looking at the blocks on the design wall in a photo doesn’t really let you see much of the prints that were used.  I took some pictures of my fabric pull earlier in the year, so this might help you see more clearly how very scrappy the pieces are.

Fun with  4.5inch squares

Those blocks in the above photo were the centers for all the 9 patch blocks in A & B.

Below are the fabrics I used for the little 4 patches in Block A.

5 inch squares

I have to say this pattern has been fun to work on, as are all of the mystery quilts that Carole designs.  I’ve enjoyed seeing what is happening on the Friends of From My Carolina Home Blog Facebook group.  If you are following Carole’s blog, consider joining the Facebook group.  You would be amazed at all the different background fabric choices people have made, and color choices for their blocks.  I always say mine is “all scrappy all the time”, but I do admit to cutting yardage for the background fabrics.

So, next up is moving blocks around to please me, then assembling the rows.  I was asked in the group if I would put borders on, and if so, what.  My plan will be a narrow white border to start with, then I will dig in my stash to come up with an outer border of some sort. Fingers crossed I won’t leave this one on a hanger to “ferment” while I agonize over those borders! That is where I always seem to get “stuck”.  The layout should be 84×96 before borders, so I have to play with the quilt-math, and decide how big I want to go.  I just bought some wide backing but don’t remember if it was 108 or 90 wide, and that will be important when it comes time to add those borders.

I’m really happy that Carole moved this project along to the “every two week” point with the clues.  If you haven’t done so yet, go download them from her blog. It won’t be long before the free pattern goes away and gets published for sale.

Are you doing the “TWIST” too?  How’s your progress?

Bits and pieces and more masks

Last week was a struggle to have any fun. I had “two emergency” visits to the dentist and another set for today.  Seems an old woman with an old root canal and crown must say goodbye to the tooth instead of getting it repaired. Getting in to the dentist, endodontist and the  oral surgeon are all tricky escapades during the global pandemic of Covid-19. The bright side is that once the antibiotics started to work, I could reduce all the pain relief medications; but it did take through the weekend.  Slowed me down on having fun.

I was able to do a little stitch out on a couple of dish towels, one for each daughter.

Home in Delaware

The towel above was fun to do. I’ve found that the secret to doing applique on the embroidery machine is using Wonder under or Heat n’ Bond light on the back of the fabric before you place it. Then when you trim after the tack down stitch you get a nicer cut. That said, I should have used some water soluble stabilizer on top of the towel before the applique. It would have made close trimming easier, without fighting with the nap of the towel.  I chose this design for my daughter who moved “home” to Delaware recently, after moving around the country and world for the last 12 years with the US Military.  (Years ago, while in Texas, she and I were shopping and saw “TEXAS” state towels and discussed how they were made and could be done for every state, and if they would be “marketable” .  When I saw this design I scooped it up!)

Heather's towel

This towel, for my youngest daughter, was a LONG stitch out. Over 30,000 stitches, and I forgot to take a photo before I gifted it. My daughter was sweet to send me a picture back for the blog.  This towel has more of a woven weave and I had to use a LOT of tear away stabilizer, plus water soluble on top.  I have a couple of “oops” moments and can see them in the picture, one being an orange thread dangling above the back wheel, and one being a “skip” of stitches on the front wheel.  Why is it you don’t see those things until after it comes out of the hoop??? Snipping the loose thread can be done now, but fixing that front wheel is never going to happen. You can only hope the rider doesn’t feel the bump in the road! (Oh, and don’t get me started on the beak of the bird…..it’s not there….).  Anyway, both towels were fun to do and I tried to pick a design that suited each daughter. My youngest daughter loves to ride, and her “cruiser” is orange and white.  Both embroidery designs came from Oh My Crafty Supplies

In the midst of my dental emergency, I was committed to pick up kits from the local quilt shop for another batch of masks.  This batch was quilters cotton and batik fabric with ELASTIC !! YAY, no ties. No flannel.  So, I picked them up on Wednesday and was able to hand them off on Sunday afternoon.  My friend Pam offered to deliver this batch to the local hospital.

Batik for masks

I told my hubby that this batik looked like a virus. When I cut these I layered the two fabrics  right sides together and made short work of matching pieces together.  I thought I was being efficient.  After doing the first one, I changed my method a bit.  I marked a dot where the elastic was to go on all the pieces, and tack stitched the elastic in place. I did this rather than trying to pin in place and hope it didn’t wiggle out while I was stitching the two pieces of fabric together with the elastic inside. It was taking a lot of time to “pin” the elastic and fabric.  So, marking the placement gave me consistent placement of the elastic, and I could just “hold” the elastic in place while I tacked it down on the edges of the mask.

More masks production

Once the elastic was managed it was easy to put the fabric pieces right sides together and just sew around the edges, leaving a gap for turning.
I used my pleating template and clips again and lots of steam to pleat the masks.  The walking foot is the best foot for me when top stitching to secure the pleats.

28 completed masks

Did you know with careful cutting you can get 28 masks out of 2 yards of fabric? (These are cut 6×9″) I was happy the quilt shop was able to provide elastic.

I just got an order in on Monday of some nice soft elastic and used it for masks for my son-in-law. He has to go daily out for his work, all day wearing a mask, and I made him 4 new masks yesterday. I much prefer making the masks on the embroidery machine using the Creative Appliques pattern . I was able to get 4 mask “fronts” and ear flaps from one fat quarter, and using two other batik fat quarters the pieces for the inside. I tried to “mix up” the insides a bit when I assembled so he could distinguish from one to another, though they look similar.

Creative Appliques style mask size large

I have a bunch more mask parts cut out and pre-pleated and ready to stitch out.  I took a break though and made some “ear saver mask extenders” using another pattern from Creative Appliques.

Extenders

I used black vinyl on top and black felt on the bottom with medium tear away for stabilizer. The idea here is to keep the elastic off the ears which can be a problem for wearing for long periods of time. I used 9″ elastic and knotted it into a loop.  The loop goes into the mask flaps and gets snapped into the extender.  The Creative Appliques pattern is a fast stitch out.  A couple of weeks ago I tried another pattern and it was way more stitches than necessary, but pretty!  The tan ones were the original ones I made and I used buttons and snaps.  (Of course I sewed the buttons on using my sewing machine.  The tan ones are only about 4″ long, and the black ones from Creative Appliques are 7″. They come in a variety of lengths at C.A., the pattern gives you lots to choose from.

various extenders

Of course, I had to “test drive” the mask with extender. 

Creative applique mask

The good thing about a mask is it hides all the wrinkles, and you can blame the mask for COVID-19 bad hair! 

I really like this mask because it fits close on the nose with a wire, and the part I called ear flaps (where the elastic goes through) hold it close to the sides of your face. Because of the shape it is a much nicer fit.  Making them on the embroidery machine uses a lot of stabilizer, but I have said before how I manage that with the “windowing technique” I use.  If I was more efficient I could probably “mass produce” them like I did the ones for the hospital, but I am only doing this style for “special requests” as they take me longer, but give you a better mask.   Creative Appliques sells this style pattern for the home sewing machine also.Creative Appliques sewing machine mask pattern

I’ve seen masks for sale all over the place from $8 to $15 or more.  I don’t think I could “earn a living” making them.  I might make some to sell to help recover the expense of all the elastic, twill tape, stabilizer I have used in the last 2 months.  Are you selling masks?  What style?  How much?

Embroidery machine fun with Space Guy’s

I have really been enjoying the bigger hoop size of the Janome 11000. I have had the machine for over a year and the last 6 months have been seeing lots of hours put on the machine. I am always “window shopping designs” and trying to find appropriate uses for what I find.

Recently, my granddaughter had a birthday party that had some “space guy’s” for a theme.  Pictured below is a decoration that was in the bathroom the day of her 4th birthday party.  Can you guess the character’s name?

Who is this space guy

Not to long after her birthday, while video chatting, this now 4 year old  got out a “Little Golden Book” that featured these characters and told me all about the good guys, and the bad guys, and named each one as she “told me” the story.  She and her daddy are big fans of the characters!

So, one day, while taking a break from making masks, I tripped over some cute little “space guy’s” on an embroidery website.  I just KNEW that those designs were destined for my collection.

The whole family

They came in full thread stitch outs and applique stitch outs, and I purchased both sets.  There was a large variety of sizes, so I got out my 8×8 hoop and got busy stitching.  I decided to use the “applique” designs because the stitch count on the full thread was VERY dense.

8 inch stitch out

I stitched on white vinyl, and didn’t really have a plan for what I was going to do with the end result.  My daughter suggested it would be great on “next years” school bag.  I decided to go MUCH smaller with the next design, and turn the stitch out into dolls for playing.

Smaller size stitch out

That fuzzy guy turned out so cute!

That fuzzy guy

The next two I stitched represent lightness and darkness.  Again, these are stitched out on vinyl.

darkness and light

And of course, you have to have a princess in the crowd.

The "good guys"

The first group of 4 finished – mounted to peltex and bosal innerform foam for substance.  Kind of like “paper dolls”.  My granddaughter came by one day with her mom to deliver groceries, and we were able to play together at the car window with our little Space Guys characters.

First round of space characters

Last week I worked on another batch and created  4 more.  My favorite is the green guy.  Hubby liked the glittery green vinyl.

Having fun with vinyl

I got the group layered up and they are now “ready to gift” .   More “good guys” than bad guys in the collection!!

Space dudes

These were fun to make with things that were already in my stash.  I was gifted a big container of vinyl from a friend, and used several of her pieces as the colors were just perfect.  Thanks Nancy B.

Hubby thinks that a “smaller sized” one of these characters on a neck tie will suit the son-in-law on his next birthday!  🙂  I might just have to do that! He would wear it I am sure!  So much for the “big hoop” when going small seemed like the perfect solution!!

Have you had any fun with machine embroidery lately?