Sunday, 30 September 2012

Finally, some sewing done

It's been another busy week in the I-have-to-work-for-a-salary-world. I got to a bit of sewing today and hemmed up this little scarf. The fabric is voile - which is pronounced to rhyme with "oil"; I thought is rhymed with "ull". I got it at Greenwood Quiltery earlier this week, on a whirlwind stop at the store. I want to pair it with a white t-shirt, khaki jacket, and dressy jeans.

The fabric came in a kit, about 18" x 60". I trimmed it down to 11" then put a double 3/8" hem on each edge. I'm happy with how it turned out.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

TTT - Starch

Back again - the week goes around pretty quickly around here. The new blogger interface finally appeared on my blog - I've been avoiding installing it until I was forced to. I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Today I want to talk about starch. I really like starch. It's changed my quilting life.

I pre-wash everything, probably because I started sewing clothing and there you have to pre-wash/pre-treat all your fabric. I also worry that colours will run - which has happened to me - thankfully in the pre-wash stage. I also like the fact that if there is going to be shrinkage in any way it happens before all the sewing work.

Anyway, when you/I pre-wash I take the sizing out of the fabric - that's the stuff the  manufacturer adds to fabric to make it sort of stiff and have body. I add some back in with starch because I prefer to sew with a little body in the fabric. After I've pre-washed and dried (in the dryer) I iron/press my fabric. If I'm using the fabric right away, I give it a light starch when pressing; if the fabric is going in the stash, I don't starch it until I use it.

Another great thing about starch is it helps relax the fabric a bit so you can get the wrinkles out. My Dear Jane blocks lay really flat partly because I starch them when I'm finished (and all the fabric has a light starching before sewing).

Mostly I use this starch which I get at my local grocery store (Loblaw's)

It was recommended to me by my local quilt shop owner when I made a lone star quilt for my cousin
which had a lot of bias edges and the starch would help to reduce stretching.

I like that's it's not too heavy, is very reasonably priced (under $4 a can), and is easy to find. It also flakes minimally.  I think this company makes a heavier starch in a purple can but I've never tried it.

Some people say moths are attracted to starch - I don't know. I have never had a moth problem.

In the spring I bought some of this at a quilt show
because it was on sale there. I got mixed reviews on it from other quilters but thought I'd try it. It has it's place in quilting - and since the bottle is nearly empty I've clearly used it - but I don't use it very often. I like that it's really light - almost too light for my taste. It's also pretty expensive at around $12 a bottle. It flakes now and then. The smell is kinda iffy - it's scented which bothers some people. It is a non-aerosol can.

I did some applique on my Dear Jane quilt and used the blue starch - it worked excellently for that type of job.

I think the most important thing to remember about starch is to not over do it.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

TTT - Squaring up your fabric before cutting

I kinda feel like I've planned out these TTT backwards - oh, well. If somebody learns something, that's awesome.

Today I'm going to talk about squaring up your fabric before you start cutting. If your fabric is squared on the grain of the fabric, your quilt will lay flatter and you'll have fewer distortions.

Notes of caution: I always pre-wash my fabric before cutting or sewing (unless I use pre-cuts like jelly rolls or charm packs; which I've yet to use anyway) to avoid accidents like colour bleed or shrinking. I always buy a little more fabric than I need to allow for squaring up - I have seen cheap fabric go off grain by up to 10cm. With printed fabric, especially something with stripes or plaids, you sometimes lose your stripe or plaid if you square your fabric to the grain - then it's your choice about whether to square the fabric or cut to the printed pattern. I seldom buy stripes or plaids for that reason, but if I do have them, I use them sparingly and not in the borders unless I'm sure they're on straight of grain (I had this problem with some of my Dear Jane fabrics and for them I cut to the printed pattern to maintain the plaids as much as possible). If you rip your fabric to get a straight edge - it doesn't always leave you on the straight of grain so be careful. I ripped the red to get a manageable size and it's off - as you see in the photos. The white I'm using I also ripped and it's not off grain as much as the red. I find the cheaper the fabric, the more it rips crookedly.

Step 1: Wash and press your fabric if that's your plan. Then, match up the selvages (the finished ends, not the ones you cut) of your fabric. I hold my hands about 1/2 yard apart and grip the fabric like this:

Thumb towards me, then the front layer of fabric, then pointy finger, then back layer of fabric, then middle finger.
You match up the edges of the fabric, not the corners.

2. Wiggle and manoeuvre your fingers until your fabric hangs straight down with no ridges or bumps:

This one is good, no ridges or bumps running on the diagonal and the folded edge on the bottom is even.

This one is not good - see the ridge running diagonally on top of the arrow. The folded bottom edge is not quite straight on the left side - extend the arrow to the edge and you'll see it - it's subtle in this photo.

This one is even worse - see the ridge above the arrow? See how the folded edge is uneven on the left side?
Thanks Mom for holding the fabric.

3. Once you get rid of your ridges, carefully lay your fabric on your cutting surface.
4. Now you need to trim the fabric to get a straight line. Use a long ruler and lay it straightly and evenly along the FOLDED edge of your fabric. I will cut on the right side of the ruler - I need the 6" of ruler to lay along the fold to help me be straight.

5. Move the ruler left or right until you can get a straight line through all your layers.

At the selvage edge I'm off by close to an inch. The ruler is along the edge of the top layer of fabric to help you see.

This is how much I'm off at the folded edge - not too much
6. Cut - with some pressure (but not too much) and a sharp blade. Press evenly all the way along and put pressure on the ruler so it doesn't shift.

The fold is towards me (at the bottom) and I'll cut along the right hand side of the ruler.
7. When I cut the rest, I turn the fabric around so that the fold is away from me (at the top) and line up the ruler so that I'll cut along the right edge. The fabric covered by the ruler is my 1 3/4" strip that I need. I'm right handed - if you're left handed, you should still align your fabric so that the measured part you are cutting is under the ruler.

These are all the photos I took so this must be the end of the tutorial. This tutorial also talks about cutting accurately.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Back to the Hunter's Star

I haven't got any sewing done all week. Work was chaotic this week - next week I'm determined to get in some sewing time.

Today I cut up the fabric for the second half of the red and white hunter's star I'm making for my cousin. The finished half you can see here. The great thing about this project is that I can sew it in little bits of time which might be what I have this week.

Here's the fabric cut:

It doesn't look as big as the pile I cut for the first half so hopefully I have enough. There is a lot of leftover fabric in case I need it though. If you look closely, you can see my handprint in the white squares.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

TTT - Your seam ripper


Unless you're perfect, you need to rip out seams now and then. Here's a helpful way that will reduce your time a little.

From the BOBBIN side of your seam, rip out your stitches every 3-8, depending on how dense your stitches are. I usually go about every 5 stitches.
first ripped stitch, heading to the right to finish

Once you're ripped out your stitches, your seam will look like this:
about every 3-4 stitches ripped; this seam is denser

Turn over your fabric, so the NEEDLE side of your seam is facing up.
see the loop to the right of the seam ripper?

Starting at an edge, gently pull on a stitch. You should get a big loop. Pull on the loop gently and you should be able to pull a long thread. If you pull on the loop too much with the seam ripper, you'll rip the thread - pull with your fingers once you get it started.

You should end up with a long thread like this:

Clip your long thread and brush off/pick off your short threads and you're done. If your seam is really long, you might have to clip your long thread a few times to help it along. My seam here was only 1.5" long to rip out so my long thread came apart in one length.

What I like about ripping out seams this way is that it's less tedious than ripping every stitch and you don't distort your fabric by pulling it apart. If the sewing is really dense, it's never easy to pull out the stitches - take your time and you'll get better results.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Even more sayings

The end (for now)

More Sayings

Inspirational Sayings

I found these on a facebook page and want to use them in my job. I keep these things in pinterest and I can't pinterest from facebook so I'm posting them here so I can pinterest them for later use. Sources sometimes unknown - from facebook it's!/BedeempledBrain
I think I need two posts cause there are a lot of pictures.

Stay tuned for more

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Coquette, wide mouth pouch, and a week

What a week it's been. Work is back in session and it was super busy - no time to sew, write a blog, or read a blog! Hopefully next week slows down a bit.

This deliciousness arrived Thursday from Intrepid Thread:

It's called Coquette, and along with some white, will made a quilt for my cousin's little girl (E) who will turn three in October. I will use some variation of a drunkard's path.

I have several options in mind:

option one which I can't copy/pin and I think it might be my favourite

and these ones:
Option 2 from

option 3 from

option 4 from:
Any thoughts or opinions on layout?

Last weekend I tried to make a triangle pouch for my purse - it was too small. I tried again this weekend and am successful. I blogged about the first pouch I made here; this one has different measurements than the first one, but same process.
all finished and closed

open with all my purse junk in it
I'm not sure what I'll work on this week. That bra pattern didn't get worked on before going back to work, so it might be that.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

TTT - scant 1/4" seams

So far we've gone over cutting and pinning. We need to talk about 1/4" seams. It has taken me a lot of years to master the scant 1/4" seam, so I'm passing on my knowledge to you - and hopefully it doesn't take you as long as it took me.

What is a scant 1/4" seam?

A scant 1/4" seam is very slightly smaller than a full 1/4" seam - about a thread width smaller. In quilting, and any sewing, accuracy is important so that your seams match up, you maintain your points, and your finished product is the size it's supposed to be. If your seams are out even 1/16", then every time you add a seam, you're out another 1/16" - at 4 seams you're out 1/4"; over an entire quilt that can really add up. The reason you need a scant 1/4" seam is that when you press your seams to one side, thread takes up space - it's only a little space - but it can add up.

In the photos below, the seam on the left is a scant 1/4" - green arrow. It's hard to see, but look closely. The seam is just to the inside/right of the 1/2" mark on the ruler (which represents a 1/4" seam from my yellow orientation line. The centre line is my orientation line - yellow arrow. The right seam is just to the right/outside of the 1/4" mark - black arrow - this is a full 1/4" seam ( I think of it as a generous 1/4").

ruler oriented a different way
Test yourself. Sew/draw a registration line on a piece of fabric or paper. Sew a 1/4" seam along that line. Are you scant or full?

A test for scant 1/4" seams

Take two scrap pieces of fabric that are exactly the same width. Mine are 1 3/4" cause that's what's laying around. Sew a 1/4" seam - start with how you usually sew a 1/4" seam. Press open your seam like you would when quilting. Lay your ruler down on your fabric; your width should  be exactly double your original width minus 1/2". In my case, 1 3/4" + 1 3/4" = 3.5" minus 1/2" = 3".
I checked my seam before pressing open. If I line my seam up on my 1/4" mark on the ruler, my fabric falls just short of the edge of the ruler - about a thread width.

a 3" piece - my seams are a scant 1/4"
If your piece is not exactly the right size you need to adjust the width of your 1/4" seam.

How to get a scant 1/4" seam

I have two 1/4" feet. I like the metal one with the black guide the best. It's the one that came with my machine:
my favourite one

I don't use this one too much
If I just use my quarter inch foot and line the fabric up along the black guide, my 1/4" seams are too generous. To compensate, I move my needle position to the right of centre. On my machine it looks like this (I have a Janome 4100). Centre is at 3.5 and I move the needle to 4.3. Make sure your needle will still go through the hole in your needle plate - I need a zig-zag needle plate to do this.
If you can't move the needle, here is another suggestion.
You likely have a 1/4" mark on your needle plate. On my maching it's on the bobbin cover:
the arrow shows the 1/4" mark
If I sew following this mark, my fabric does not go all the way to the edge of the guide on the presser foot but I get a scant 1/4" seam. I feel like I'm not as accurate unless my fabric touches the guide on the machine; this method won't work for me for tiny pieces, such as in my Dear Jane quilt, because the registration mark is far away from the needle.
When I'm sewing a scant 1/4" seam, it looks like this:
I've move my needle to slightly right of centre, my fabric lines up with the guide on my foot, and I'm not on the 1/4" mark on my needle plate BUT I get a scant 1/4" seam.

What do I do now?

Now, you have to practice and play. Every machine is different so try the tests and fiddle around until you get a seam allowance that is a scant 1/4". Try the ruler test and sew two pieces of fabric together. Try a 1/4" foot if you don't have one. Your accuracy will improve and your quilts will look better.