Sunday, March 29, 2020

Social distancing Make Nine finish: the Bristol Top

Are you weathering the COVID-19 storm? As quilters, sewers, knitters and makers, we know the power of stitching and its ability to soothe the soul and ease a worried mind. During this time of social distancing, I have been making charity quilts and checking off items on my Make Nine 2020 list. The Bristol Top is one of my Make Nine finishes.
Me in my new Bristol Top [The Sewing Workshop pattern] made with knits from Art Gallery Fabrics.
I'm standing in front of a work-in-progress, The Farmer's Wife sampler quilt.

The Bristol Top
In a garment sewing workshop I took a few years ago, I saw several people making and wearing the Bristol. It looked great on everyone! I initially passed up this pattern because I didn't see its potential. However, upon seeing how it fit on the body and what others did with color blocking, mini stripes and pattern hacks, I wanted to try it.

Bristol Dress and Top pattern from The Sewing Workshop.

This top makes up so much cuter than its line drawing schematic on the pattern package lead me to believe. This pattern paired with knits from Art Gallery Fabrics is very comfortable to wear.

Contrasting fabric for the yoke.

Pattern details
The fun details for the Bristol—the cuffs, the lower band, front and back yokes and a back panel—are part of its eight pattern pieces. All these have color blocking potential! The construction for the Bristol is straightforward. In fact, the printed instructions are only one side of a single sheet of newsprint.

Cutting out the pattern pieces.

I didn't have quite enough of this yellow knit [from Art Gallery Fabrics] for the entire top, so this situation pushed me to find a coordinating print—which I used for the yoke and neckband.

The sleeve cuffs were an easy, styling detail. They can be worn turned up or down. If you have a directional print, you'll want to pay attention to how the cuffs are attached to the sleeve (if that matters to you).

Cuffs for the Bristol Top.

The diagonal seam lines in the back would make for a slimming effect if the sides and back panels were made with contrasting fabrics. I'm looking forward to trying Bristol with other fabric combinations... and I might try a pattern hack and make it with short sleeves.

Back view of my Bristol Top.

Behind me in the photo above is my Farmer's Wife sampler quilt. It's another WIP [work in  progress] I am working on during this world-wide quarantine.

I hope you have taken up your needles, threads and fabrics to help get through this worrisome time as well. If you need patterns or supplies, contact YLQS [your local quilt shop]! Many shops have on-line shopping, respond to emails and social media requests, offer curb-side pick-up and they still need our support to get through this trying time.

(To my blog stalker: I hope you are well and accomplishing many of your quilting projects.)


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Celebrate National Quilting Day

Celebrate Quilts and Quiltmaking today!

National Quilting Day
Celebrate quilts and quiltmaking, March 21, 2020.

  • Hang a quilt outside your home. Make someone smile!
  • Contact YLQS (your local quilt shop) and order something so you can...
  • Start a quilt, work on a quilt, finish a quilt.
  • Make a quilt for someone else.
  • Make a quilt for charity.
  • Dig out your UFOs and do something with them (finish, repurpose, or give away).
  • Make something with orphan blocks (they don't have to be your blocks).
  • Play in your fabric scraps.
  • Work on your Guild Challenge.
  • Organize your quilting space... so you can do one or more of the above!

We've got a quilt hanging on the railing today. What's your plan of action?


(Geesh, that ironwork needs a paint job...)

Friday, March 20, 2020

How to support your local shops during COVID-19 social distancing

With the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus, many of us are practicing social distancing and self-quarantine. As quilters, sewers, knitters and makers, we have the skill set (and the supplies, no doubt) to combat this isolation time with the crafts we are passionate about. We got this!
Attending to my Farmer's Wife sampler WIP [work in progress]. Assembling blocks 2 x 2.

Don't forget YLQS (your local quilt shop)!
During this uncertain time, however, I encourage you to not forget about our beloved quilt shops, yarn shops and independent sewing centers. These small businesses still depend on us!

Farmer's Wife blocks. Fabrics from Art Gallery Fabrics.
Directory of Shops that carry Art Gallery Fabrics.

How YLQS is managing
Independent quilt, fabric and yarn shops are getting creative with ways to continue to support our quilting/sewing/crafting endeavors—offering curb-side pickup, personal local deliveries, virtual shopping via Facebook Live, Instagram and social media platforms, offering discounts on products and shipping, while figuring out how to use alternative methods to bring us instruction, tutorials and classes—in addition to keeping a sanitized shop and protecting themselves and their staff. It's an enormous feat of juggling and the learning curve for implementing new technology can be steep.

Ways WE can help and support YLQS:
Keep making and crafting!
Assembling rows of 6" bloc
  • Go through your stash and revisit those UFOs. You'll likely need borders, sashing, backing or bindings to finish them. Call or contact YLQS and have them ship what you need.
  • Visit YLQS on line. Fill the shopping cart and they will ship fabrics and supplies to you.
  • Many LQSs are making kits of their shop samples, packaging class/club/BOM projects so you have everything you need to hunker down and craft at home while we get through this time. Buy a kit for yourself or for your kids as a creative outlet from on-line learning. 
  • Ask for a personal shopping assistant. I've seen several shops walk through their store via Facebook Live and show new fabrics, kits, notions and products they have that will inspire or help you with your craft. Place an order.
  • Purchase gift certificates—for your own future buying needs or for your friends.
  • Shops are posting Flash Sales on social media and through e-news blasts. Take advantage of them.
  • Fabric companies have opened up the archives of free project patterns for us to access. Be inspired to make something!
  • Fabric and pattern designers, brand ambassadors and others are hosting "I-sew-lation" quilt-alongs and sew-alongs. Refresh your stash, buy the kit, pattern or book, and join in.
  • Follow, Like and leave comments on social media. The traffic will elevate YLQS's page in on-line rankings... making them get noticed by others with similar interests.
  • Post photos of your UFOs, WIPs and Finishes and tag and hashtag YLQS, the fabric and pattern designers and fabric companies. These small things improve on-line rankings. Spread the love!
Adding additional fabrics for a scrappier sampler quilt.

Non-quilters and non-sewers can support too!
  • Purchase gift items (books, note pads, greeting cards, jewelry, etc.), gift certificates and finished shop samples and display items
  • Inquire about and employ a shop's other services such as making T-shirt quilts, making heirloom or commemorative gifts (pillows, etc.), or embroidery services.
  • Got a quilt top you've inherited, rescued or purchased? Commission their quilting services. Get that quilt finished so it can be enjoyed.
Completed Farmer'sWife sampler top. Auditioning possible borders.
I have placed an online order with my LQS for two fabrics to audition additional options.

Out of sight but not out of mind
I'm again working on my Farmer's Wife sampler quilt during social distancing. I've ordered two fabrics from one of my quilt shops for possible borders. I hope you revisit your UFOs and order supplies to finish a few of them. Studies have shown that participating in hobbies and crafts during uncertain times relieves stress and calms nerves.

YLQS may be temporarily out of sight... but don't let them be out of mind. They are depending on all of us NOW so when the world gets back to normal, these small businesses will still be afloat!


Sunday, March 8, 2020

Make designer pillowcases with double border prints

Want a quick, easy project with a designer touch? Make pillowcases using a fabric with a double border print.
Pillowcases made with a double border fabric print offers a designer touch with no extra work!

For these pillowcases, I used fabrics from Cori Dantini's "Hello... Big World" fabric collection for Blend Fabrics. The endearing llamas, lions, deer and other animals are surrounded by whimsical flowers and butterflies in a grassy field. The soft color palette is reminiscent of a cheery spring or summer day.

Double border print from Hello... Big World collection by Cori Dantini for Blend Fabrics.

So, what's a "double border print"?
A double border print has the focal design or image running along the selvedges of the fabric. A complementary solid, texture or some smaller design generally runs between the two border designs.
Delightful Days double border print from Hello... Big World.
Blue/aqua colorway.

There are two colorways for the double border prints in the Hello... Big World: aqua and pink.

Delightful Days double border print from Hello... Big World.
Pink colorway.

For pillowcases, the fabric is folded in the middle with the selvedge edges meeting. The border design appears on one long side of the pillowcase. When pillows are placed side by side on a bed, the border scene continues from one pillow to the next (see top photo above).

I like the magic burrito pillowcase construction technique that uses French seams to enclose all the raw edges. Here is a tutorial for this method from Twiddletails. Note that there is no fabric waste with a double border print, which can occur with some direction prints.

Choose a complementary fabric for the pillowcase cuff.

Visit your local quilt shop or independent sewing center and seek out those double border print fabrics! Choose a complimentary print for the pillowcase cuff and you're all set. Achieve a designer look with no extra fuss!


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Crumbs, scraps, strings and test blocks for charity quilts

2020 is a Leap Year. How did you spend your extra day in February?

After assembling my crumb quilt blocks and experimenting with knit fabric scraps, I was inspired to revisit my stash of test blocks and patchwork trimmings I keep for charity projects.
Test blocks and patchwork trimmings.

With a variety of patchwork trimmings, test blocks and UFO blocks at the ready, I decided to spend the good part of February 29 feeding random scraps and strings through the sewing machine to make charity quilt tops. The weather was chilly but the beautiful sunlight poured through the windows of my studio. Natural light facilitates the ability to enjoy and choose fabrics and colors... and "charity quilts" is also an item on my 2020 Make Nine list.

Using up scraps, strips and strings
I had a stack of strip-pieced blocks from a Cuddle Quilt workshop from several years ago.
Strip pieced quilt blocks with alternate blocks.

Alternate plain blocks were cut for this set of pieced blocks. This quilt will go to my guild's Cuddle Quilt project.
Cuddle quilt top. 39.5" square.

Trimmings from the blocks above were pieced and combined with a red-white-blue star test block. When quilted, this will be a kitty quilt for the cats at the Chattanooga Cat Clinic.
A "modern" kitty quilt?
Improv piecing, light ground and lots of "negative space."    29.5" x 28" 

More string blocks were added to the block stash. These are 5" blocks that finish at 4.5".
5" (unfinished) string blocks.

I often make long strips of patchwork with fabric samples and scraps. This is easy-going, mindless piecing. These scrappy units and strips will accumulate when using the leaders and enders process.
Improv patchwork strips.

These patchwork strips make colorful borders and sashings.
Kitty quilt top. 28.5" x 25"

Printed panels and parts of panels make quick quilt tops.
Kitty quilt top from parts of two holiday panels. 28.5" x 27"


Successful results
Eleven charity quilt tops are now awaiting backings, batting, basting, quilting and finishing.
Eleven charity quilt tops ready to be quilted.

I would say my February 29 was a productive day in the quilt making department. Hope your leap day was enjoyable and productive, too!

A note about leap days: German mathematician and astronomer, Christopher Clavius [1538 - 1612], figured out how and when to insert a leap day into the Gregorian calendar. Without leap years, February would eventually be a summer month.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Making quilts with knit fabrics

Can you make a quilt with knit fabrics? With thoughtful consideration for tools and process, it is definitely achievable! Here's what I learned from this experiment.
Choose a stretch, knit, jersey or ball point needle for sewing with knit fabrics.

What to do with knit fabric scraps?
I love scrappy quilts! I also embrace the challenge of working with scraps—for bags, charity quilts, pouches, wall pieces and bed quilts. I had several small samples of Art Gallery knit fabrics [95% cotton, 5% spandex] that were languishing in the scrap box. The pieces were not large enough for a garment (without extensive patchwork, color blocking and searching for an appropriate coordinating fabric), so another solution was needed.

Knit patchwork quilt top.

While visiting with Jan and Andrea, shopkeepers at Bumbletees Fabrics, the possibility of successfully making a quilt with knit fabrics was planted in my mind. They showed me a quilted throw made with a beautiful Art Gallery floral knit [Floral Glow Twilit from the Autumn Vibes collection]. The throw was free-motion quilted on a long arm using Cuddle fabric for the backing. This throw has a major snuggle factor!

Quilted knit throw

So, with knit scraps in hand, I embarked on another kitty quilt to experiment with quiltmaking with knits. (The kitties love it when I do fabric experiments.)

Choosing tools and materials appropriate for sewing and quilting knits
Needles: I've learned from past projects that using a sewing machine needle made for knit fabrics—ballpoint, stretch, jersey, knit—is imperative. 
Thread: I used an Aurifil 50 wt cotton for piecing and WonderFil Tutti [50 wt. variegated cotton] on the top and DecoBob [80 wt. poly] in the bobbin for quilting.
Stitch selection: I used the lightning bolt stitch #17 on my Janome for piecing. This stitch accommodates the stretch of the knit fabrics without popping the stitching when the fabric stretches.

WonderFil DecoBob 80wt for bobbin, Tutti variegated on top.
Use a needle designed for knit fabrics.

Cotton Batting: I was able to zigzag stitch batting scraps together to get the size needed.

Piecing batting scraps with a 3-step zigzag stitch.

Backing fabric: Cotton flannel was used for the backing.
Basting: I pin basted the quilt sandwich. Because the knit fabric wanted to roll at the edges, I found that pin basting very close to the edge was very helpful. I think spray basting would be a good basting solution as well.

Pin basting very close to the edge to minimize fabric curling.

Free motion quilting on knits 
The next conundrum would be the free-motion quilting on a "stretchy" fabric. Even with the presser foot raised to the highest position, the open-toe free-motion [hopping] foot dragged in places and caused pleats.

Pleats and tucks caused by the presser foot during quilting.

The next foot I tried was the free-motion [cupped] zigzag cording foot (below center). This foot dragged on the knit top more than the open-toe foot. Hmmmm....

Left: open-toe free-motion foot. Center: zigzag free-motion foot. Right: convertible free-motion foot.

The successful foot for free-motion quilting across the knit fabrics was the convertible free-motion foot (above right). It does not hop when quilting. The presser foot height was set so the foot just hovered over the quilt top without dragging on the fabric. (Be sure the presser foot is down/engaged when adjusting height so you can see how close the foot is to the fabric.)

Close-up of quilting and scrappy binding.

Binding: regular (woven) quilting cotton was used for the scrappy binding which was attached by machine with a blind hem stitch.

Shrinkage: After washing, only the cotton binding showed signs of shrinkage. The quilted knit fabrics looked the the same before and after washing the finished quilt.

Finished quilt: 28" x 24"

The flannel backing is an all-over cat print.

Flannel cat print backing.

Kitty Approved!

Stan Leigh approves!

This was a good experiment. Now I have notes and experience for future quilted projects that include knit fabrics. Give knit quilts a try! Just think through the process and it won't be as difficult as you might presume.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Ghastlie heart for Valentine's Day

I was at The Quilting Squares of Franklin quilt shop on Friday. The Ghastlies were there!! Valentine's Day is this coming Friday. And one of my Make Nine projects is pillowcases. Kismet!

"Ghastlie Love." Alexander Henry Fabrics.

Ghastlie Heart Valentine pillow cases
The fabrics I chose for my Valentine pillow cases are Alexander Henry's "A Ghastlie Heart" (of course!) and "A Ghastlie Screen," with a bold, graphic, Art Deco flavor. Both of these fabrics come in other colorways and there are several more prints/patterns in the collection. Call The Quilting Squares of Franklin or visit you local quilt shop and snatch some Ghastlies for Valentine's Day.

The makings of pillowcases: A Ghastlie Heart and A Ghastlie Screen from Alexander Henry Fabrics.

I use the burrito construction method with French seams to make my pillowcases and omit the accent band at the cuff. I'm checking off another Make Nine finish for 2020.

A Ghastlie Heart pillow cases.

Wishing everyone a Delicious Valentine's Day (and night) with Ghastlie pillow cases.

A Ghastlie Love fabric from Alexander Henry Fabrics.

💗 💗 💗

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Odette top in Lugu and Plaid knits: a Make Nine finish

Hello to February and my first Make Nine 2020 finish! This is the Odette Top made with Lugu and Mad Plaid cotton knits from Art Gallery Fabrics.
Lugu & Plaid Odette knit top. Odette and Ivy pattern from The Sewing Workshop.
Cotton knit prints [Lugu and Mad Plaid collections] from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Fabric purchasing factors
These two cotton knits were purchased together [Barb's Sewing Center] with the thought of using them in a color block garment. I liked both of these collections from Art Gallery independently when each was released. But it wasn't until I saw the bolts side by side at the fabric shop that I realized I liked them together as well.

There is an interesting contrast between the geometric plaid print [Electric Watermelon Plaid (gotta love the name)] and the hand drawn, whimsical owls by fabric designer, Jessica Swift. The color palettes harmonize—maybe with a syncopated beat. The Odette & Ivy Top pattern is a go-to pattern of mine, and the winter weather prompted a top with long sleeves.

Electric Watermelon Plaid and Sova Sunshine (owls) knits [Art Gallery Fabrics].
Pattern: Odette & Ivy Tops [from The Sewing Workshop].

My Make Nine journal indicates I started this project on January 19, 2020 with the pattern layout and fabric cutting. The top was completed on February 1. 

Odette Top: front, back.

Working with a Plaid
I was careful to position and match the plaids for both sleeves. The pattern piece layout wasn't as "fabric efficient" as it would be with a solid or all-over print, but it was well worth the extra time and slightly more fabric waste. [I'm sure I'll use the scraps in future projects.]

Matching the plaids.

I waited choosing the fabric for the neckband until the top was fully assembled. I decided on the plaid but was concerned about the alignment of the stripes on the narrow neckband. 

After attaching the neckband, I realized the turquoise stripe in the plaid abutted the Lugu fabric. It was not what I originally intended but after sewing, it looked like a faux piping detail. Happy accident!

A turquoise stripe at the neckband edge looks like a faux piping.

This top coordinates nicely with my Valencia pants in a charcoal Art Gallery denim fabric (a 2019 Make Nine project). Love it when things come together!

Lugu top coordinates with charcoal Valencia pants.

And, the asymmetrical peplum is in just the right position to access the patch pocket in my pants.

Wearing my new Lugu Odette top with the Valencia pants.

It's Groundhog Day
I understand groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, prognosticating an early Spring this year. Winter or Spring, I predict I'll keep on keepin' on with my Make Nine projects. And if, as in the Groundhog Day movie, the day gets into a continuous loop, at least it will be a loop of finishes!

I'd be OK with that, too. How 'bout you?


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