Bennett’s Quilt

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I’ve had this quilt finished for a few months now but haven’t gotten around to taking pictures of it.  It matches the other bedding I’ve already posted about here.  Once his room is finished, I’ll post more pictures of everything all together.   My husband is sanding the wood floor in the baby room as I type, and it looks like we should have the floor finished within a couple of days.  That’s the last major step, so once the finish cures for a day or two, we should be able to start moving furniture in, hanging curtains and pictures, etc.  It will definitely be nice to have things more together than they have been.  We’re really cutting it close on this one—my due date is two days away.  However, with my luck, the baby will go late (ugh), and we’ll have things ready and waiting.  At this point, I don’t even care what’s finished and what’s not.  I just want this baby OUT!

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Onto the quilt—I chose a chain-link type pattern.  There are several patterns for sale, and the one that I followed most closely for mine was from Cluck Cluck Sew and can be found here.  I did not buy the pattern because I wanted to make several changes to it for size and visual reasons, so I thought it would kind of be pointless since I wouldn’t be following the actual pattern anyway.  I first saw this type of design in a very different quilt on flickr, which led to some googling, and this quilt was born.

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For the back, I had hoped to be able to make it work with just one width of fabric across the quilt, but it turned out to not be quite enough, so I added the polka dot scrap strips down the middles.  I like the look, though, so it probably worked out for the best anyway.

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For the quilting, I again went out of my stippling comfort zone and did right angles intersecting each other in box shapes.  I thought this mimicked the quilt top better, and I’m very happy with how they turned out.  However, since I don’t have the skill to do right angles (and keep them straight!) with the free motion foot, I had to use the walking foot, which involved LOTS of turning, which was soooo not fun.  However, I’m happy I suffered through it because I love the end result.  Maybe one day I’ll be good enough to do that with the free motion foot, which would make things a lot easier.

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I bound the quilt in a gray matching print, and I haven’t added the label yet.  I think I’d like to make one with his name and birth information on it, so I’ll just sew that on later.

September Bee Blocks

This month I was quite behind on the bee blocks.  I haven’t been feeling the best during my last month of pregnancy, so I just kept putting them off.  Finally, today I just decided to get them over with, and luckily they were all fast and easy, so I wish I had done them sooner and not worried about it all month long.

We Bee Learning

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This block was supposed to have burgundy, gold, and forest green.  I had the burgundy and gold from a blind scrap bag I had bought a while back from my local quilt shop.  All of these colors are not my normal style, so I was lucky I had even those two already.  I did have to buy the forest green solid, but I only needed 1/4 yard and didn’t buy extra since I don’t see myself using it again.  It was 66 cents with a coupon, so it definitely didn’t break me!

Stash Bee

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For this block, she asked for bright, modern, happy colors, which suited my stash perfectly since that’s what I usually buy myself.  This whole block was made from my scrap pile (I love it when that happens!), and I really like the way it turned out.  The colors are pretty bad in the photo, but it’s cheerful and should fit well with the three samples she posted.  In retrospect, I kind of wish I had chosen a scrappy type block instead of my tree block.  I love my trees, but some of the scrappy blocks I’ve been seeing are AWESOME!

99 Bee

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I really liked these blocks as well.  They were very fast and easy to sew up, and sometimes that is definitely not the case with the blocks from the 99 book.  It was really a good thing for me that the blocks were simple this month, or I might have been very late, depending on when the baby comes.  As it is, they’re all packaged up and ready to mail as soon as I can make it to the post office.  In this block, I loved the purple chevron fabric and the flower square.  I would love to see this quilt all put together with the different blocks.  It’s definitely scrappy, but I think it would look great all together.  I’m still deciding what I want my block to be for this bee.  Luckily, I don’t have to decide until January. 

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in all these bees since the beginning of the year.  Time really flies.  These were my first bees, and I think next year I might do things a bit differently.  First, committing to a bee for an entire year (or two years for stash bee) is really a big deal.  I’m not sure I want to do that again.  Most months I love doing the blocks, but on months like these when I have other major life events going on (baby this time, but it could easily be something else), I just don’t want to deal with it.   I think I might prefer the month-long swap things where you sign up month to month.  It’s easier to plan around a schedule that way.  I have had fun and have learned a lot through these bees, but I’ll probably think more carefully before signing up for a long one again. 

Of the three, my favorite has been the 99 bee.  Wee Bee learning is very simple—sometimes a little to simple to be interesting, but it’s designed for beginners, so that makes sense.  Stash bee is unpredictable—half of the blocks I’ve loved making, and half not so much.  Also, some of those blocks are out of my comfort zone, which has been difficult to get used to.  So far I’ve been able to handle everything, even if I’ve procrastinated due to fear, but some blocks are definitely something I wouldn’t take on unless forced.  I’ve learned a lot, though, so I really shouldn’t complain.

99 Bee has some paper-piecing doozies, too, but at least there is a book with instructions.  Also, I tend to like the finished products better because the blocks are, by nature, more modern, and the participants have so far sent more modern fabrics, which have mostly been to my taste.  While this isn’t really that important, for some reason it does increase enjoyment for me.  I like getting to sew with pretty fabrics I like!

Anyway, at least they’re finished for this month.  If I can, I’m going to try to get October’s done as well before the baby comes.  I’m due on the 2nd, so this may or may not happen, but I’ll give it a good shot if I don’t deliver on or before my due date—which will probably be my luck anyhow.  I’m so ready to get this baby out!

teacher Christmas Gifts—a Fold-Up Tote Tutorial

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This is the first year my little boy has been in school, and since I’m having a baby soon (eta 1 week, hopefully!), I decided to get a head start on all homemade Christmas gifts.  I wanted to do something kind of small for his teachers since he has three of them, and I found this fold-up bag tutorial on Pinterest from zaaberry.blogspot.com.

I thought it was really cute and a good way to use up some spare fabric I had lying around.  However, I decide to make a couple changes.  First, I wanted my bag to be lined.  It didn’t seem like it would be very sturdy if it weren’t, so I added a lining and interfacing for the outer layer of the bag.  I also made the straps slightly longer so it would be easier to throw it over a shoulder.  I topstitched in a couple of spots as well to make things hold up better.  If you want to make a bag with the modifications, I would recommend reading the original tutorial first and then reading the directions for my changes below.

Overall, I think they came out quite nicely.  The three teal ones are for his teachers, and the other two are for my adoptive college students at church.  I could definitely see myself keeping one of these rolled up in my car for quick trips to Aldi or the farmer’s market or library when I never seem to have a spare bag.  With the extra layer of interfacing and lining, I think they would hold a good amount of weight, too.

STEP ONE

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Cut your fabrics as follows:

Focus Fabric: 

  • 15×10” panels (cut 2)
  • straps:  cut a piece of fabric 4” x width of fabric.  Trim off selvages and then cut this long strip in half- – you should have about 21 inches or so for each strap

Lining Fabric: 

  • 15×6” panels (cut 2)
  • lining:  15×29.5” panel

Fusible Interfacing: 

  • 15×15.5” (cut 2)
  • 2” strips the length of your fabric straps (around 21”)—cut 2 strips

Thin elastic:  8” piece.  Note that I increased the length from the original tutorial.  The extra length is needed to accommodate the extra bulk from the lining and interfacing.

***All seams are 1/2” unless otherwise noted.

STEP TWO

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Sew one focus and one accent panel together using a 1/4” seam to make the back outside panel of the bag.   On next set, fold elastic in half and pin to the center of one of the panels.  Sew focus and accent fabrics together in same manner you did for the back panel.  Press seam toward the top accent fabric and top stitch.  Fuse interfacing to wrong sides of the panels.  Sew side and bottom seams of outer panels, right sides of fabric together.  Add button.  You can do this later if necessary, but I find it easier to sew now so you don’t have to worry about the knot showing later.

STEP THREE

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Sew side seams of lining, leaving a 3-4” opening for turning later.

STEP FOUR

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Straps:  Iron the fusible interfacing strip in the middle of the fabric straps.  It helps to lay fabric face down, lay your interfacing on top of your fabric (fusible side on wrong side of strap fabric) and then once it’s lined up, lay a pressing cloth over it all before ironing.  If you iron directly n the interfacing, it will melt.  Fuse the interfacing to the straps in this manner, and then iron straps in half, fold in sides to meet in the middle and iron again, so it’s now folded up into fourths.  Top stitch along each side of each strap to hold in place.

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PIn straps to the main part of the bag, three inches from each side seam on both panels.  Make sure your straps aren’t twisted here.  Place the whole outer bag into the lining, line up top edges of bag and lining, and pin.  Sew a half inch seam around the whole top of the bag.  Pull the outer bag through the opening you left in your lining for turning.  Sew the opening closed either by hand or machine.  I used a very narrow seam by machine for efficiency.  It won’t really be seen in the side lining anyway.  Pull lining inside bag and press.  I then topstitched around the very top of the bag to hold the lining in place and make my top nice and neat.

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You’re finished!  To fold up bag, fold in thirds lengthwise, and then roll until you can loop your elastic around your button.

Trapunto Applique Tutorial

I fell in love a little over a year ago with this quilt found on Michael Miller’s Blog:

I decided to loosely recreate it, but I wanted the airplane motif to really stand out, so I decided to use a trapunto effect to make it really pop.  There are several ways to do this, but mainly trapunto consists of adding extra padding or stuffing to make a design pop up more than the fabric around it.

Appliques can be sewn on in many ways—a common method is to use fusible web and then machine sew around the edges.  While I do use that sometimes, I tend to like the look of hand appliques better.  For some reason it seems to look more professional and finished to me, so that’s how I did this one.  It was relatively simple since it’s all straight lines.

First, I made my pattern.  There’s a downloadable pattern here, but since I didn’t find it until after I had already finished the applique, I made my own.  I blew up the airplane portion of this quilt in word (hence the pixellation in the pattern), printed it out, and cut out the design.  I then cut the fabric 1/4” larger on all sides.

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After that, iron the edges under, pin in place on your quilt, and hand-sew the applique on (or use fusible web if you choose that method).  Once that’s finished, cut a piece of batting that is a little larger than your appliqued design and pin it on the back of the quilt.  Make sure it’s secure because you don’t want the batting to shift around while you sew from the front.

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Flip the quilt over and sew around the edges of the applique from the front.  I did not sew on the actual applique—just very close in the ditch.  If you were using fusible web, you could sew right on the edge of the applique at this point.

Once it’s sewn down, trim the excess batting from the back.  Be very careful not to cut your quilt top.  Go slowly, and it also helps to pull the batting back so you can see the fabric easily and be sure it’s not going to get caught in your scissors.  To be extra careful, you can use a pair of blunt tip scissors.

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For now, you’re finished until you actually quilt the top.  It pops up a bit now from the extra padding, but once it’s added to the quilt batting and back, it will really stand out.  If you quilt over top of the trapunto, it will flatten it out quite a bit, so I outlined the applique while I was free-motion-quilting, and then quilted around it, and it stands out nicely.  It really helps draw more attention to the applique.

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