Snowy days

We had a snow day yesterday, that turned out to be an ice day instead. The kids and my sister both had days off school and we all sat around in our pjs all day and had hot chocolate with marshmallows. Lots of electronics for the boys and a marathon of Veep episodes for my sister and I. (How did I not watch that show before yesterday?!)

Today everyone is back in school, leaving me in a sunny, dripping world, with embroidered snowflakes as a reminder of yesterday. I did the last bits of finish up work on this quilted wall hanging. It is a combo of machine quilting, fused fabric appliqué, and hand emboidery.

It turned out just the way I wanted it, from the quilt lines of the falling snow flakes to the little bunny pausing to watch the bids fly over the trees. So much fun to make!

On the road

This is one of my favorite quilts that I’ve made.  I like so much about it – the combination of four patch and half square triangles.  The fabric.  The colors.  The size, which is perfect for couch napping.

The top was made with a layer cake and a charm pack of the fabric line Road 15 by Sweetwater for Moda.  I bought Kona solids in matching colors and started to slice.  I used almost every scrap of the fabric, cutting the final square blocks to 8 1/2 inches.

The backing fabric was a great green and white houses design.  I didn’t have quite enough, so I added some additional Road 15 yardage, and bought some crosshatched deep red fabric for the binding.

This is the third project I’ve made with Road 15.  I sewed a Go Anywhere bag from a Noodlehead pattern and a matching ipad cover from the red houses print, which is my favorite of the favorites.  Something about those little houses just really appeals to me.  I have additional yardage of it to play with in the future.

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A mini finish

With the kids back to school today, I got a little sewing done. The Lover’s Knot block is up on the wall. I think It needs friends, however. More minis to be made.

Lessons learned: I need to continue to work on precision in seam allowances, and when cutting strips for this block, cut how many background strips I think I’ll need and then double that amount!

I quilted around the black lines with white, and then machine stitched the binding. When I’m not going to hand sew the binding on, I sew the binding to the front first, and then stitch in the ditch at the front binding edge, capturing the back edge of the binding. It looks better on the front that way, but if I don’t sew the binding on precisely in the beginning, I can sometimes not catch all of the edge when I go around the second time with the ditch stitching. I need to get better at judging the seam allowance I use when originally attaching the binding to give me enough to work with on the back.

I only machine finish bindings on wall hangings so far, because the back isn’t ever going to show, so I can work to improve without too much consequence. All my blanket bindings I hand sew.

Black and white

I was going to say that it has been a productive day, but that would imply actually completing tasks from the to-do list, or even packing for the weekend away that starts in a about an hour. So instead I’ll say it was an activity filled day.

Started off right with two 60% off coupons that let me buy a new cutting mat and a smaller square ruler to make things go more smoothly with planned projects. Such a deal with the discounts!

Then I went online and bought this pattern for a lover’s knot block (though the designer calls it a carpenter’s square) to make into a mini quilt for our bedroom wall. Our room is black and white overall, with a little yellow and tan thrown in, and I want to make a few minis to cover a blank wall by the closet.

This block requires a lot of precision, in both cutting and sewing.

Neither of those are my strongest skills, but working on this should help.

I’m adding extra rows to make it a little bigger. The dramatic contrast is great, but if I do it again (and I plan to) I will put a color square in the very center. Yellow, perhaps.

This is also giving me practice with my new Juki sewing machine. I’m crazy about the auto cut feature, but I keep forgetting I can use the foot pedal to use it. And the leg lever to lift the foot makes things so much faster. I can’t imagine I’ll ever get to use the rabbit speed though. Medium seems like I’m racing beyond my fingers as it is.

Rainy days are sewing days

It has been wet and gray, weather that makes me want to curl up with a stack of fabrics and a rotary cutter!

A while back I made another diamond quilt, inspired by one I saw a pic of online. The inspiration quilt was arranged with very symmetrical rows, but I wanted a more random distribution to go with the scrappy stripes. (I can’t find the original inspiration picture, but it was a little like this one, but with wider diamonds and a scrappy background.) Mine ended up rather differently, like this:

Yesterday I gathered a pile of floral fabrics and a diamond template and started cutting to make my second diamond quilt.

My diamonds are 12 inches high, with the blocks end up at 12 1/2″ by 7 1/2″ wide. I always make them a little bigger and then trim them to the exact size to make up for any inaccuracies in my piecing. I don’t use pins when I sew the blocks so trimming fixes any shifting. And it doesn’t take long to trim them. In this case there were 24 diamond blocks.

It was definitely a quicker top the second time around, mainly because I wasn’t having to sew all the strips together for stripes, and I also made most of the background blocks bigger as well. Much less sewing all around, and I like the solid effect as well, though I think I will try a third with a single color background. I was determined to make this one without buying any more fabric which made a patchwork background mandatory. And I do love scrappy in a quilt!

Dye lots really matter!

Muir wrap knitting project in progress

Recently I started knitting Muir, a Knitty.com pattern that I’ve long had on my Ravelry favorites list. But as I knit repeats and weighed yarn balls, it became clear that no matter what the many people who’ve made this project with Malabrigo lace yarn have said, my knitting gauge wasn’t going to be able to stretch only two skeins of yarn to all the repeats and the borders. So I went online and ordered another skein of the colorway VAA from the fast and friendly people at Jimmy Beans Wool.

Which is where my neglect of dye lots comes in.

Malabrigo lace yarn

My plan to switch skeins every couple rows is not going to save this, not when I already have four repeats done with just the original, darker yarn. The differences are too drastic. The new yarn has a third color completely dominating it, a color not even present in the first skein.

I think this is going to be another navy-is-my-friend overdyeing project. Navy acid dyes have saved me many times. I’ll feed the new yarn in here and there and then plunk the whole thing in the dyeing crockpot when I’m done.

Color changes aside, I love this yarn. Malabrigo lace is one of the softest yarns I’ve ever come across, and it is a joy to knit. I’ve been knitting a lot of worsted and thicker yarns lately, so the soft, weightless slip of this through my fingers is pure joy.

Improved ironing – a fast DIY

I don’t use an ironing board when I do my quilting – at least not the traditional long, narrow, collapsible type. There just isn’t enough surface space. So I made my own. The first one was a 2 x 2 square, which was just the right she for my sewing table top, and very portable, but too short for sewing long seams. And if I put my little cutting board on it, there wasn’t much ironing room left.

Cutting board on ironing surface

So today I made a new, larger board.

Cutting board

This one is 2 x 4 – a lot less portable, but definitely a lot more ironing surface.

These are really easy to make if you have a staple gun. I got my board at Home Depot. They sell both the 2 x 2 and 2 x 4 sizes precut. The only other materials I needed were all cotton batting and a heavy cotton fabric. I used a printed canvas floral.

Then it is just layering, folding, and stapling. The board is the smallest element, then the batting, and the outer fabric the largest to wrap around all the rest.

Iron board in progress - layers

I cut off the fabric and batting in triangles at the corners to make it less bulky and folded it like wrapping a present. Making the batting smaller than the outer fabric meant I could fold the edges of the fabric over the batting and staple it under, so there were no raw edges to worry about.

My plan is to get a cart for the sewing room and place this on top so I can move it around to where I need it, depending on the type of project. For now, it works really well on the dining room table. I can iron longer pieces or iron and cut smaller pieces without having to move everything.