Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Hi all -

I continue to play with little things, putting off basting my sister's wedding quilt that has to be done by Christmas. Yep, I hate basting the big quilts so I'll do anything to put that off. But I promise I'll start it soon.....

So, instead I decided to go ahead and make this month's Superior University project, which is a little chalkboard with that chalkboard fabric. It's not something that I would have made on my own, but it was a fun little project that I think might end up being useful. The kit had the chalkboard fabric, a thick heavyweight stabilizer that I hadn't seen before (Pellon 71F), a little piece of elastic for making a chalk holder and a couple of spools of quilting thread. I just had to supply the fabric and a little piece of lightweight stabilizer. I like that these kits have small amounts of things that you might not play with much and so don't want to buy a large amount of, like the chalkboard fabric.

It was a simple pattern where you just fuse the heavyweight stabilizer to the center of the wrong side of the fabric. Then you fold the edges of the fabric around to the front and put the chalkboard fabric in the middle. So the fabric makes a frame around the chalkboard and you slide the elastic pieces under the bottom of the frame to make the chalk holder. I went ahead and sewed around the opening and along the miters in the corners with a matching thread and a narrow zigzag to hold everything in place.

Now for the fun part -- playing with the decorative stitches on my new machine! I started with a scalloped floral stitch around the inside of the frame:

I really liked how this looked! The corners even came out okay, even though I just sewed to the corner and turned the piece when it looked like I was in the right place. Here it is with just that first line of stitching:

But one line of stitching is never enough! I decided that the next stitching should be a boxy stitch and should be closer to the center than to the outside. I took a couple of pictures after this step, but they didn't come out for some reason. It seemed that the green I used being next to the black of the chalkboard fabric caused the camera to have difficulty getting the image. I would put the chalkboard on the floor in a shaded area and everything would look good to me, but then I would point the camera at it and the image would get all washed out like it was in bright sunlight. Interesting!

For the final line of stitching, I decided on a more complicated straight-line design. This one when right around the outside edge and was also used to secure the pocket on the back of the board:

(I went to a darker area of the house to get this picture.) Here's a close-up of some of the stitching:

And here's the back with the pocket:

I used another fancy stitch on the edge of the pocket. Unfortunately, it didn't show up as well as I had hoped with the stars in the fabric:

It was so much fun to play with the decorative stitches! I've never had a machine with this much variety before. And along with the stitches, this machine has a bunch of ways to combine and alter the stitches, so I have a lot to play with!

I'm thinking that this chalkboard will be useful by my cutting table so I can write down temporary notes about what I'm doing. Currently, I do that with post-it notes, but that's pretty wasteful. Here it is on the wall by my cutting table:

Pretty nice, huh? Now I just have to get some chalk.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Name Tag Bags

Hi all -

My latest project has been to make a set of name tag bags for myself and my two Sew Day friends who are also going to Houston. Here are the bags that I made:

They are from the "To Market, To Market Tote & Tag" pattern by Patterns by Annie.

I found the pattern to be pretty straightforward, although I kept making mistakes on the first one since I had a different construction in my head than what she had in the pattern. The one place where I thought the instructions were lacking was where the instructions describe how to put together the strap with the hardware. The written instructions didn't make any sense to me at all. In the instructions, Annie points you to a video on her web site, but that video is for a strap that doesn't have all of the hardware that this one has. I think the instructions could greatly benefit from some drawings for this step. But the video did give me enough of a hint that I was able to work the rest of it out myself.

The only change I made from the pattern was that I decided make the bag just using fabrics stabilized with DecorBond. The instructions tell you to quilt the pieces using either Soft and Stable or regular batting. I thought this would make the bags too thick and ungainly. The bags with the DecorBond are still fairly thick, so I think I made the correct choice.

The first bag I made is for myself and I decided to use Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Here is the front:

You can see there's a vinyl pocket for the name tag and a little zippered pocket for money or whatever. And zippered pocket is on a flap that opens up to reveal a larger pocket inside:

On the back there's another pocket:

The second bag is for my friend Cathy. The choice of fabrics was pretty easy since she is very fond of chickens:

Can you tell that the red fabric actually has little yellow chicks on it? On the inside you can see the chicken wire lining fabric I used:

And on the back her pocket has the addition of some sewn slots for holding pens (hard to see in the picture since the thread is black and blends in with the fabric). I couldn't do that on mine since I got confused and put things together in the wrong order.

It was a little harder for me to decide on the fabrics for Cindy's bag. Cindy doesn't really have a motif that she collects. She's an art quilter and has made some really cool butterfly and moth quilts, so I decided to go with butterflies:

The inside:

And the back:

I really fell in love with this fabric combination while I was making the bag so I'm going to have to think about a quilt for them. Unfortunately, I don't have much of this gray, which I really love, but other grays will be nice, too.


New Sewing Machine & Table

Hi all -

I finally have the new sewing machine and table. My new machine is the Bernina 770QE and I bought a Koala table for it. I got the sewing machine at the end of June, but it took another 4-6 weeks for the table to come in so I've just been using it on my kitchen table. My new table arrived on Tuesday and now everything is set up. Here it is when I first got the machine into the table:

And a view from the side:

You see where Lance is laying? That's where he likes to lay, so we have a bit of a battle when I'm sewing. He usually wins and I have to adjust my chair around him. At this point I still had to install the shelves and stuff. You can see that when I sew I have a window next to my right elbow. On the sill, I keep the silverware container from my old dishwasher with my sewing supplies in the compartments. The cardboard is there to shade the stuff, like the sewing machine oil, from the hot sunlight. If you look closely at the window just above the cardboard, you'll see a circle. That circle is one of those magnetic scissors holders, another very convenient aspect of the window.

Here is what my sewing area looks like after installing the shelves and moving the pressing table back into position:

And from another angle (before cleaning up the mess):

You can see that my pressing table backs right up to the sewing table and the cutting table is against the next wall. I've found this to be a really convenient set up. I just have to keep the shade down on the window next to the pressing table so the sun doesn't warp my cutting mats.

Of course, nothing is perfect. We had a storm yesterday and the skylight right above the sewing table decided to start leaking. Luckily, the leak was away from the sewing machine so it didn't get wet. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a roofer to come up here and fix that. I live in an area where it's very difficult to find any workmen who'll come up here so this isn't going to be easy. Wish me luck!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Classmate Bag

Hi all -

As usual, I got a little side-tracked and made a little bag. For this bag, I used the "Classmate" pattern from Atkinson Designs. This is a pretty cool pattern with a lot of useful pockets. Here's the outside of the bag:

 And the inside:

I thought this might be a fun bag to take to my classes in Houston. If I make this bag again, I think I will probably add a zipper pocket on the outside so I can get at some stuff from the outside without opening the bag. The instructions for this bag were good and it went together quickly.

I've continued to work on my FMQ challenge wallhanging and I might be done with the quilting on that one. I have to look at it for a little while to decide if it needs more. I'll share pictures when that one is finished.

Next week is looking to be a good one. It's my birthday week so I have several fun things planned. First is lunch with some friends on Monday. Then, my new sewing table is going to be delivered on Tuesday. It's coming in right on time, but it sure seems like forever since I ordered it! Then lunch and a movie with a friend on Wednesday, and meeting up with two other friends on Thursday at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival. Friday will be a day to spend at home with the pets, skipping work to finish off a wonderful week.