Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009


14 Comments

WIP Wednesday – A Little of This and a Little of That

But mostly this:

IMG_1715

I added in another Dear Stella fabric to finish out the piecing, opting for larger pieces on the inside of the quilt rather than putting borders on it – mostly because borders always give me trouble. The top ended up finishing out at 64 1/2″ square (just shy of my target 65″ square).

Now all I have to do is piece the back, cut the batting to size, and get it basted. I’m pondering whether or not I’ll do the quilting on this one. When they’re larger than a wall hanging or table runner I usually send them out to my quilter (also known as my mom). I did the same with Shattered, which is quite a bit smaller than this one. My only excuse being that I was thinking of straight line quilting which I think will work well with the top and that’s something I like to think I can handle.

I feel like I should mention a disclaimer here because if you read here long enough you’re probably thinking that Shattered been out for a long time, but we’re on a “I’m not in a hurry” understanding. She’s just waiting on my say so and I’m thinking I like the process a great deal more than the finishing. Not so coincidentally, it helps me avoid putting the binding on which is precisely what I will continue to do once it comes back. I hate doing the binding.

Well, mostly I hate hand stitching. It makes my hands cramp up all funny. On the other hand, I don’t like the way binding looks when folks machine stitch it on.

So.

There you go.

Anyway…

Also Finished This Week:

Quick Finishes (or the “finish it already!!” group):

Waiting:

  • Shattered – needs quilting and binding
  • fleece quilt (pictured here) – need to finish sewing nine patch blocks, need to finish sewing together rows and then needs some sort of binding to help keep it square-ish – but mostly waiting on inspiration.

In Progress:

The Great Big Wish/To Do List:

IMG_1076

From “Sewing in No Time” by Emma Hardy:

  • fireplace screen
  • drawstring toy bags
  • fabric covered storage box
  • floor pillows
  • floral pillow with ties

From “Quilt Revival” by Nancy Mahoney:

  • 30′s Shadow Star

From “Oliver+S Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson:

  • tutu (x2)
  • reversible bucket hat (x3)

From Oliver+S:

From “Little Stitches” by Aneela Hoey:

  • Empire State Building Needle Case
  • Rain, Rain Go Away Hanging Hoop

From “Liberty Book of Home Sewing” by Liberty of London:

  • Sugar Bag Doorstop
  • Toiletry Bag
  • Bean Bag
  • Keepsake Board
  • Lampshade

WIP Wednesday at Freshly PiecedI’m linking up with Lee @ Freshly Pieced!


14 Comments

WIP Wednesday – Long Time Coming

IMG_1681If the pile of trimmings on my cutting board are any indication, Herbert and I have been making much needed progress on my WIP list. Yes, it has been since January that I wrote a WIP Wednesday post and yes, I did spend most of February doing nothing. Well, not nothing, but certainly very little sewing. I tried to get things going with a rather easy sort of project. It was meant to be a quick finish so that I could get back into sewing after having struggled a bit with more precise piecing for my version of Empty Bobbin’s “Seeing Squares.” In my mind I wanted something like Amanda Blake Soule’s beach blanket from “Handmade Home,” but I didn’t have the yardage necessary for something exactly like it. Time to improvise, yes?

Famous last words.

IMG_1619

I ended up with something like this. If you read the “Design Friday” post on this you’ll remember how I ended up here and where I thought I’d be headed. Simple borders on the top and bottom. Simple. Except it wasn’t. I had wings. The seams were straight on the inside and every single one of my attempts to “fix” it without taking it apart only made things worse. The damn problem kept reoccurring. Tears, dear reader, lots of tears. My brave husband even tried to help me sort it out.

House and Country” broke me. I wanted to ship it out to someone’s house in the country and bury it in the pasture. I put it away for a day at which point I decided that the issue was something my rotary cutter could fix (and it would be faster than the seam ripper). Break me? I’ll break you down instead “simple” quilt.

I cut the fabric up into the largest squares I could get from each portion of the quilt and re-pieced. Only I was still having difficulties with finished block sizes. My cutting? My sewing? Both? After having my far more talented mother double-check my block sizes we determined that it was more than likely the seam allowances. More seam ripping. More sewing and piecing. New sewing machine. A living room floor layout to see what the next step would be. More fabric.

IMG_1685

New iron. The nicely pressed big blocks are hanging up on my design wall now waiting for the new fabric and more piecing so that I can finish the top of this “easy” quilt. Dear reader, never declare a project to be “easy” before beginning. Bad idea.

IMG_1629Sunbonnet Sue still sits patiently on the back of the glider in my studio waiting for the day that I feel like finishing her. On the other hand, at least the binding is most of the way finished. I just need to finish the hand stitching. I predict she’ll be finished in time for Yule this year.

IMG_1684If you remember this slightly cryptic post, then you’ve seen at least a portion of this quilt. I’m using Art Gallery Blenders and Kona solids in my rainbow-tastic version of Empty Bobbin’s “Seeing Squares.” So far. So good, but I still have a long way to go.

IMG_1632This pile of strips is being pieced using Rayna Gillman’s book “Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts.” I’ve been using the leftovers from the Batik Squares quilt I gave to my mom plus another fat quarter I picked up at JoAnns a few weeks ago.

IMG_1690I’m taking the strips, sewing them together, and then cutting and piecing them together in what will one day be my very own Batik Squares quilt. I’m trying to decide if I will stick to the same form as the last Batik Squares I made, or if I will follow Gillman’s directions in the book more closely.

Quick Finishes (or the “finish it already!!” group):

Waiting:

  • Shattered – needs quilting and binding
  • fleece quilt (pictured here) – need to finish sewing nine patch blocks, need to finish sewing together rows and then needs some sort of binding to help keep it square-ish – but mostly waiting on inspiration.
  • The beach blanket from “Handmade Home” by Amanda Blake Soule – waiting on fabric to finish the top

In Progress:

The Great Big Wish/To Do List:

IMG_1076

From “Sewing in No Time” by Emma Hardy:

  • fireplace screen
  • drawstring toy bags
  • fabric covered storage box
  • floor pillows
  • floral pillow with ties

From “Quilt Revival” by Nancy Mahoney:

  • 30′s Shadow Star

From “Oliver+S Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson:

  • tutu (x2)
  • reversible bucket hat (x3)

From Oliver+S:

From “Little Stitches” by Aneela Hoey:

  • Empire State Building Needle Case
  • Rain, Rain Go Away Hanging Hoop

From “Liberty Book of Home Sewing” by Liberty of London:

  • Sugar Bag Doorstop
  • Toiletry Bag
  • Bean Bag
  • Keepsake Board
  • Lampshade

WIP Wednesday at Freshly PiecedI haven’t done this in a loooong time, but today I’m linking up with Lee @ Freshly Pieced!


5 Comments

In which I inadvertently become a collector…

…of sorts.

I’ve been sewing for awhile on a Brother Innovis-40 – mostly practical sorts of sewing projects. A purse. A bag. Some pot holders. Simple stuff. I’ve fixed more than a few items of clothing. Snow pants. My son’s winter jacket because, dear reader, he’s a growing boy and it’s almost the end of the season. Please, child of mine, be more careful when taking your coat out of your locker!

If it doesn’t require a great deal of accuracy my Brother works just fine. For quilting, though, one requires some accuracy at least some of the time. The alternative, your standard (and bulky) walking foot, didn’t really appeal to me. Not to mention there’s only 40 stitches and no low bobbin warning. I’ve made it to the end of a row of quilting only to discover that I was out of bobbin thread for most of it more than a time or two.

That wasn’t what did it, though. I bought my machine from a local dealer and wanted to take it in for your average tune-up/cleaning sort of thing. When I called I was told that I would have to leave it with them for five weeks. I might get it back sooner than that, but it’s really hard to say. When I balked at the length of time (I may have said that it was “unacceptable”), the lady on the other end of the phone laughed and said, “I know.”

Reader, this is not something I took into account when buying my machine. You buy it, they service it. It can’t be all that different from a car, right? I mean, I can make an appointment with my dealership, sometimes you might have to wait for a part, but generally speaking they can plan for this sort of thing. Not so with this particular place and the nearest Brother dealer is 40-ish minutes or more away.

Rule number one when shopping for a sewing machine? Ask the store about their turnaround time on repairs.

I decided to go with a different machine after a bit of coaxing from the husband (I believe he threatened to buy one on his own if I didn’t). I went with a different local sewing machine dealer with a very reasonable repair time frame. My mom took her Pfaff (1475 CD) there to have them give it a once over and had a very positive experience. She loves her Pfaff. I love her Pfaff. Perhaps it’s time to get a Pfaff of my own?

Enter Herbert Pfaff.

herbertpfaff
Why call the machine Herbert? Because the machine reminds me a crotchety old man. Temperamental. Fussy. Easily confused. Touchy. Whereas my Brother had no personality (and no name), Herbert Pfaff reminds me of my grandmother. He’s got personality oozing out of every gear.

It’s bittersweet, really. There’s so much I like about the machine (IDT, automatic tie-off, plenty of stitches, more than one light, bigger harp space, a free arm) and a few things I’m not too thrilled with, but can accept (the bobbin winder, the bobbin thread path, pushing reverse does not automatically reverse like my Brother did, tie off button requires that you actively be sewing while pushing the button which means forecasting where the machine will end up in time). The other things I’m hoping are just user error.

For instance, why ,when I ask him to always end needle down, does he sometimes end with the needle up even though the light is lit on the button? If I push the button again the light stays lit and the needle goes down. I’ve been using this to my advantage, but it’s puzzling to me. Is this a feature or a flaw?

Why is he prone to getting all tangled up on the bottom of the fabric? I have re-threaded both ends, switched bobbins, tried longer tails and shorter tails, used a startie/stopie and yet he still persists. He does so less often than he did at first, but why does he keep doing this?

How come when I ask him to automatically tie off at the end of a seam, he can never figure out where that is? End of seam, no tie off. Hit the button. No tie off. Sometimes I get the feeling that he interprets this like I’m asking him to rub his belly and pat his head at the same time.

Why is the cover so darn difficult to get on the machine?

Still, he’s accurate and the IDT is pretty freaking fantastic. I’m hopeful that a lesson or two with the dealer might help us work together better, but please Herbert, don’t make me regret buying you. The last machine that I regretted buying, Selma Singer (and I was a great deal more fond of her at first), found a second life as an end table, but you’re far too pricey for that sort of thing.

Not to mention completely the wrong shape.

petuniadecker

Thank goodness for Petunia Decker. She’s the recent purchase that I don’t regret in the slightest. I’ve been using a Panasonic iron my other grandmother gave me when I graduated from high school. It works great for clothing and most sewing projects, but not so much for quilting – it didn’t get near as hot as my mom’s Rowenta, there was no steam pulse, and you could never really shut the steam off all the way. I had been eyeing up this iron for several months. It’s reasonably priced, well rated on Amazon, and then the Snarky Quilter wrote about hers awhile back. It seemed like the best value for the cost. The husband’s been working more overtime than I care to really think about so why not?

Petunia made her way home yesterday afternoon. After opening the box, I immediately put her through her paces. In short? She’s perfect – ample heat, ginormous water reservoir, auto shut-off, self-cleaning, steam pulse, water spray, and steam that shuts off completely. Simply lovely.

*sigh* I guess you can’t win them all.


2 Comments

Design Friday – “House and Country”

I spent an excessive amount of time yesterday shopping for fabric on the computer to finish two projects I just started (and would really like to finish). The first of the two is a picnic blanket inspired by one I saw in “Handmade Home” by Amanda Blake Soule. I say inspired because you know I can’t follow a pattern or recipe as written. Where’s the fun in that?

I loved the idea of the picnic blanket more than I loved the specific pattern. Mostly, though, I wanted to use what I had on hand which did not match the yardage Soulemama called for. I had three fat quarters of Lucy’s Crab Shack, two half-yards of Dear Stella Town & Country, plus an assortment of Kona Cotton charm squares from the new colors (CHS-134-42) and a couple of 5″ squares of Michael Miller’s Eiffel Tower.

To which you are now feeling a little confused and befuzzled, yes? I’ll admit it’s a bit of a mishmash, but I’ve never been one to let that stop me from continuing on anyway trusting that it will at some point come together. At best I end up with something uniquely my own. At worst, I hack at it with my rotary cutter and end up with something entirely different. My quilting motto? There are very few mistakes you can’t fix by cutting something apart. You just need a little…imagination.

It’s still a work in progress, but I’m happy to report that very little extra cutting was required. The fact that my quilt top needs some squaring up before attaching the borders (under an inch compared to the middle) is only a tiny speed bump on my way to completion. Well, that and waiting for the rest of the fabric to arrive. Details, shmetails.

Until then, and seeing as I’m entirely enamored with the fabric collages that online retailers put together in order to highlight a collection, I decided to create my own nifty graphic for no other reason than because I can. Why should they have all the fun?

I’m calling it “House and Country” because every quilt needs a name and I’m weird like that.

picnic blanket_text

As for the other quilt? That’s the one I spent two hours on the computer shopping for only to end up rather “Meh!” about what I picked out. Five minutes in JoAnn Fabrics and I had six Kona solids that were perfect to finish off the quilt, but that, dear reader, is another tale for another day.

*sigh* These are the perils of shopping online.


3 Comments

WIP Wednesday – Mostly Linen

Most of the surfaces in my kitchen seem to have a fine layer of flour sitting on them, even though I’ve tried my best to wipe everything down.  It’s probably not a surprise then that I’ve been doing quite a bit of this:

IMG_1351(from Ken Forkish’s “Flour Water Salt Yeast“)

And not so much of this:
IMG_1282

That’s not to say that I haven’t accomplished anything, it’s just been quite a bit slower than usual.  Most of my “to do list” remains in tact, but I did get a few choice (and very exciting) projects finished.

IMG_1298

First up is my very own Pleated Beauty Bag from “Bend the Rules Sewing” by Amy Karol.  I started it last week and finished it up this last weekend.  I realize that I’m probably a less than unbiased judge of the bag, but in my most humble opinion, if it’s not squee-worthy then I don’t know what is.  No, seriously, with all due respect to last week’s composition book cover, this is hands down my most favorite project ever.

EVER.

rsz_img_1306close up of the stitching and pleat

IMG_1309lining and pocket on the inside of the bag

Did I mention it was an economical project to boot?  Here’s the cost breakdown:

2/3 yard of 100% linen from JoAnn Fabrics – $7.10
1 yard quilting cotton from JoAnn Fabrics Saturday after Thanksgiving sale – $2.10
Incidentals from my stash (thread, fusible interfacing, fabric for purse bottom pocket, purse bottom) – $5

Grand total?  $14.20

The only change I made to the pattern was swapping out the flannel used in the lining for a light weight fusible interfacing that I already had on hand. I have no idea which one it was as I suspect I bought the interfacing in 2009-ish.  I was a bit short on the fabric needed to make the pillow for the rigid interfacing in the bottom so I just used some Kona Coal from my stash.  The rigid interfacing was the same one I bought for the crowns I made the kids this past Halloween.  I’m also planning on picking up a magnetic closure to put on the inside because it feels to me like it needs it.

I love the box bottom on this bag and was a bit uneasy about making it since I’ve found the process a bit frustrating in the past.  A quick search online to see if there was another way to do it netted this tutorial from Lazy Girl Designs that fit the bill perfectly (also pinned on my Sewing and Quilting Tutorials board).

If I made another one (which I’m definitely open to), I would either swap out the inside pocket for a zipper one or I would have stitched a few lines in it to make it a bit more useful and a lot less floppy.

IMG_1327My only other finish this week was a linen bread bag of my very own.  This one’s a bit on the small side since I didn’t have very much linen left.  I predict another trip to the fabric store is in order as we’re definitely going to need another much bigger one!

Quick Finishes (or the “finish it already!!” group):

Waiting:

  • Shattered – needs quilting and binding
  • fleece quilt (pictured here) – need to finish sewing nine patch blocks, need to finish sewing together rows and then needs some sort of binding to help keep it square-ish – but mostly waiting on inspiration.

In Progress:

Time Sensitive/Need to Get Started ASAP:

  • red/gold bunting for Imbloc/Chinese New year (need to purchase fabric)

The Great Big Wish/To Do List:

IMG_1076

From “Sewing in No Time” by Emma Hardy:

  • fireplace screen
  • drawstring toy bags
  • fabric covered storage box
  • floor pillows
  • floral pillow with ties

From “Quilt Revival” by Nancy Mahoney:

  • 30′s Shadow Star

From “Oliver+S Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson:

  • tutu (x2)
  • reversible bucket hat (x3)
  • travel quilt (?)

From “Handmade Home” by Amanda Blake Soule:

  • beach blanket

From Oliver+S:

From “Little Stitches” by Aneela Hoey:

  • Empire State Building Needle Case
  • Rain, Rain Go Away Hanging Hoop

From “Liberty Book of Home Sewing” by Liberty of London:

  • Sugar Bag Doorstop
  • Toiletry Bag
  • Bean Bag
  • Keepsake Board
  • Lampshade

Seeing Squares (small) from Empty Bobbin

Batik Squares quilt (my own design)