Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fiesta Mexico Block 3 First Part Done

Hi all -

Lately, I've been working on the class project from a Karen Kay Buckley class that I took in Houston in 2014. Yep, another class project that has been sitting around patiently waiting for some attention. What a coincidence that she is also the featured artist on the TQS show that came out today!

This class was a hand applique class with the project being block 3 of her Fiesta Mexico quilt. Here is a picture of the class project from the class materials so you can see where we're going:

The was the second hand applique class that I took from Karen. I need to find that first project so I can finish it up, too! I really love Karen's classes and think she is one of the best teachers out there. If you ever get a chance to take a class from her, I'd say go for it! And if you ever think about teaching classes and want to get good ideas of how to do that, take one of her classes. You'll learn a lot!

I didn't get much actually finished during class because, again, we were sharing 2 irons in a large class, so I spent my time making sure I learned as much as possible. Here was my project at the end of class:

Pretty sad, but it was enough! Once I got going again, I felt like I made some pretty fast progress. In the first week, I finished the main block:

Then I had to put the project aside for a few days because I realized I didn't have enough of the background fabric to do the borders, so I had to order more fabric. That's when I worked on the Caryl Bryer Fallert Gentry project. Some of the fabric I ordered was a perfect match so I was able to continue on with the borders. The first step was to trace the pattern onto the background fabric:

Each one of those stripes had to be hand appliqued to the background. That's a lot of hand applique! I found this fuchsia batik in my stash that I thought would work and started working away. It took me 2 weeks to finish that part, finally finishing a couple of days ago.

A lot of work, especially when you make small stitches like I do:

The next step was to sew the border pieces together. Before doing that, I figured I should iron and remark the pieces to remove the distortion that creeps in when you do applique. So I rinsed out the old markings and ironed the pieces using a fluffy towel so I wouldn't flatten the applique. Then I pulled out the light box, taped the pattern on it and lined up the pieces matching the pattern as much as possible.

Then I remarked the edges and the guidelines for the stripes that would be appliqued over the seams:

After marking, I trimmed the border pieces on the top and the sides:

I left the bottoms alone because the center part would be appliqued there later and it wouldn't hurt to have a little bit extra fabric. Once the pieces were trimmed, I sewed them together and finger-pressed the seams open:

Then I just had to hand applique the strips over the seams to finish this part of the border. I pushed the seam allowances out of the way while doing this stitching so that I was only stitching through one fabric thickness at this point. When the strips were in place, I ironed those seams open to finish this part of the border. Sorry I didn't get a picture of this step!

Now it was time to go back to the center block and add a mitered border:

To attach the center to the striped border, I had to iron 1/4" over on the edges. I had a Clover pressing tool that was useful for that"

Then I needed to applique the center to the border. Originally, I was going to do hand applique for this, but as I was preparing things I felt like it would be really difficult to do and that it would be hard to keep things in the right place, even with gluing, so I decided to do machine applique for this part.

I'm really glad I made that choice! The thick corners were hard to get through with the machine, so I was glad I wasn't trying to do it by hand. It still didn't turn out perfect, but it's good enough and I'm pleased with it.

The final step was another mitered border around the entire piece. The pattern had that border being 1" finished, like the border around the block, but that seemed a bit narrow to me so I opted for a 3" border. If it seems too big when I'm done, then I can always trim it down.

I'm really excited to have gotten this far!

The next step will be to add random hand appliqued circles to the striped border. Then it will match the class project picture. After that, I want to embellish this piece with hand embroidery and maybe some beads. I've been wanting to do this type of embellishment to a project, but I always chicken out at the end, being afraid that I'm going to ruin what I've done. I also tend to want to get the project finished when I get to this point, so decide not to put in the time to embellish it. I'm hoping this will be the project to break that barrier for me.

I don't know if I'll continue on with this project right now, or if I'll move onto something else for a while. I'm guessing I'll do something else for a little while, then will come back to this one with renewed interest and energy, but you never know!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cell Phone & Applique Bags

Hi all -

Today I want to share a couple of bags that I made. I actually finished these bags a couple of weeks ago, but am just now getting around to posting about them.

The first bag is from the Cell Phone, Camera Case & Wallet pattern from By Annie. I made this bag for my sister, Linda, to replace a small bag of about the same size that she uses as a purse. Hers is wearing out and I think this will be a perfect replacement. Here is the front of the bag, which has a pocket with a little pocket with a flap closure:

 And here is the bag with a vinyl ID pocket:

The bag has a double zipper and several credit card pockets on the inside:

The bag is only about 4" by 6", so putting in the binding on the inside to cover the seams was a bit of a trick, but I like how it turned out. Since Linda doesn't use Facebook, I posted some pictures there to share with my Facebook friends and now my other sister has requested one. I think I'd also like one for myself, so you'll be seeing several more of these in the future!

The other bags I made are a set designed for hand applique:

These are also from a pattern from By Annie, this time from her Applique to Go pattern. I picked this pattern up from Annie's booth at Houston last year. The little bag in front is what attracted me to the pattern. It's designed to hold the hand applique bobbin sets from Superior Threads. Here's my bag with my bobbin sets:

Perfect! Usually I'm too lazy to modify the pattern or do any embellishing, but this time I decided to push myself. Instead of the accent band being a single piece of fabric, I decided to get a little fancier and put some borders on the fabric strip and add some embellishments. I really love how it turned out! And it was so easy to do!

Originally I was just going to make the bag, but once I got going I decided that I really wanted the work-in-progress roll, too. I have a huge amount of the main fabric, so this was a good way to use it. The applique roll is created around a shipping tube that can also be used to hold your pattern and some supplies. Pretty cool idea! She suggests you use a tube that is at least 19" by 2". Since I'm a firm believer in "go big or go home," I decided to start with a tube that was 25" x 3". I figure that will be big enough for any project I might decide to do. And if I were, for some reason, working on something larger, it would be too large to put into a roll anyway so this should be a good size.

I decided to also make some changes to this pattern as I went along. My first change was to make the "design wall" that rolls out 10" longer than called for in the pattern since that seemed to make sense with my larger shipping tube:

I think that was a good choice and this looks about right to me.

The next change was to use cotton batting for the roll out part instead of the flannel suggested in the pattern. I did this for two reasons: batting is stickier than flannel so would hold on to the pieces better, and I had batting at home but didn't have flannel. I'm not sure if the batting will hold up as well with time, but we'll see how that goes.

Another change I decided to make was to add some heavy-weight stabilizer (DecorBond) to the back of the main fabric to give everything more stability. I was afraid that the roll-out area would flop around too much if it was just the fabric and batting, especially with the larger size of my roll. I really like the feel of it with the stabilizer so I think this was a good decision. I would add the stabilizer even if I was making a smaller version of the roll.

The pattern had the little bit of the main fabric folding over on the top and the bottom of the flannel piece as you see in my picture, but it had the flannel being the same length as the main fabric so that it would be inside the cylinder where you slide in the shipping tube and would go all the way to the end with the ties. I didn't like the idea of having the batting touching the shipping tube because it would be really hard to slide in the tube and, in the process of sliding it in, there was a good chance the batting would shift and possible tear. I also thought it would be cleaner on the tie end to have a little bit of the main fabric, so I changed the pattern to put some of the main fabric on both ends of the batting. (I hope this makes sense since it is a bit hard to explain in words.) I also stitched around the perimeter of the batting area to give it more stability, which wasn't called for in the pattern. That really helps to hold it all together.

Finally, the pattern had you use ribbons for the ties. I didn't have any appropriate ribbon at home and I've found that ribbon wears out if you keep tying and untying it, so I sewed straps instead. This also allowed me to pull in the contrast fabric that I used in the little applique bag. I don't know if it matters, but I cut the fabric for the straps on the bias since I think that's making it easier to tie the straps into bows and I think they hold the bows more securely than straps cut on the straight of grain would have. But I could be wrong about that.

The one pattern change that worried me the most was the decision to use the cotton batting rather than flannel. One big problem with batting is that it stretches easily. Flannel stretches easily, too, but not as much as batting does. The stretching was definitely a problem right away, as you can see in the picture of the roll above. So, after completing the roll, I decided to add some stitching in a grid across the batting. That made a huge difference!

Inspired by my new applique tools, I decided to pull out a project from a Karen Kay Buckley hand applique class from several years ago and put it in my new roll:

I've made a bunch of progress on that one and hope to be at my next milestone point next weekend so I can share it with you!

Another project I'm thinking about, because of a suggestion from my friend Renata, is a matching tote bag with an "infinity" handle. Renata found a bag with this handle by Nancy Zieman. The bag uses a single loop of fabric that isn't directly connected to the bag, but instead runs through channels on the sides to create the handles on both sides of the bag, with the ability to pull them away from the bag on the bottom so you can slide the applique roll in there for carrying. That sounds really interesting to me so I'm thinking about using some more of my huge supply of the main fabric to make a bag like that. Should be interesting!!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Feather Study 28 Piecing Finished

Hi all -

Recently, I pulled out a class project to work on. Feather Study 28, from a Caryl Bryer Fallert Gentry class, had been weighing on my mind for a while. It was a quilt that I really wanted to finish, but I knew that I needed to undo a bunch of work that I did in class before I could go any further. This was one of those frustrating classes where the instruction was great, but there was way too little room for us to really do the work. This was a class in Houston in 2012. Classroom space in Houston is generally pretty tight. You have a room that is filled with those brown rectangular tables with folding legs that you see everywhere. You generally have two people per table, with the tables set in three columns, one against each side wall and one down the middle. The teacher has a table or two up front and there are a couple of tables in the back with 2 irons set up. This was the setup that we had, along with a sewing machine for each student. We were learning Caryl's appli-piecing method in that class. For that, we also needed light boxes, irons and individual little design walls. So, we were sharing light boxes and irons and needed to put our design walls (a piece of white flannel) on the walls, where there wasn't enough room for everybody. I knew right away that I wouldn't get much done on the project because I tend to shut down in those tight situations. So I concentrated on listening and learning, and tried to get some work done with my design wall sharing my half-table space with my sewing machine.

I know it sounds like I was really upset about the setup, but I truly do understand the limitations of these types of classes and do my best to roll with it. I'm just sharing all of this to help you understand why the stuff I did in class didn't go well. We started by piecing one of the feather pieces. I decided to just work in my space and hope that I could get the pieces close enough together without trying to get time on one of the light boxes, but, as you can see, that didn't go well:

You can see how my finished section doesn't fit in with the rest of the pattern at all. So I knew I would have to take it home and redo it in more ideal circumstances. I did continue on and made a bit more progress that went better and here is what I had finished by the end of the class:

(The feather, stem and background piece are not sewn together in the picture, they are just laying next to each other.) So this was the state of the project when I pulled it out again last week.

The first thing I did was take apart the feather piece. That wasn't a lot of fun! It's not easy to unstitch invisible thread seams that have been glued together. I knew this would be hard, so I think that's probably what was keeping me from getting back to this piece. but I got it done and then continued on. Here you can see how well the pieces from the above picture fit together now:

(The are all sewn together in this picture.)

Once I got going, the technique was really fast and I got the entire top pieced in less than a week:

The colors are a lot brighter in person and the piece has a lot of excitement. This technique has you ironing the freezer paper pattern pieces to the backs of the fabric, then appliqueing them together along the seams with a narrow zigzag stitch. So, after you're done you have to take out all of the freezer paper. It was impossible to get out all of the paper, especially in the narrow points of the feathers, but I did a pretty good job of getting it out and I don't think the remaining paper will cause any problems:

I really love how this turned out and really look forward to quilting it! Of course, I'm also working on other things at the same time so we'll see when the quilting gets done....