National Sewing Machine Day

Today is National Sewing Machine Day- and I almost missed it!  I thought I would take a moment to introduce you to my machine.  She is a Bernina 1008 that joined me in December of 2013 shortly after the Singer I learned to sew on as a child sewed her last stitches.  I am a big fan of the basic mechanical machines.  Most of the electronic machines I have used over the years seem fussy, but I also haven’t been using high end electronic machines, so that could be part of it!

Bernina 1008

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about what it takes to get fabric to the point that we are ready to cut it up to make quilts, clothing, bags, etcetera.  I am working in Connecticut right now, and one of the things that fascinates me about New England is its rich history in textile manufacturing.  While I am here, I am trying to visit as many important places related to textile history as I can.  So far, this summer, I have visited Old Sturbridge Village, The National Quilt Museum, and The American Textile History Museum.  These are all wonderful places to visit, and I hope that you will make the time to go if you are ever in the area.  One of my next stops will hopefully be The Windham Textile and History Museum which is right down the road.  I have been there before, but it has been quite a few years.  Below are a few photos of very early equipment and machinery which has been developed over time to streamline the process of creating fabric.

Fiber Preparation

Cotton Gin from The American Textile History Museum

Cotton Gin from The American Textile History Museum

American Textile History Museum

American Textile History Museum

Spinning

Small Spinning Wheel for Flax and a Larger Wheel for Wool.  Old Sturbridge Village

Small Spinning Wheel for Flax and a Larger Wheel for Wool. Old Sturbridge Village

Spinning Wheels at The American Textile History Museum

Spinning Wheels at The American Textile History Museum

Spinning Mule at Old Sturbridge Village

Spinning Mule at Old Sturbridge Village

American Textile History Museum

American Textile History Museum

Weaving

Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village

American Textile History Museum

American Textile History Museum

The American Textile History Museum has a room the demonstrates textile production.  Here is a panoramic shot of the space- I would love to see this in action!

Textile Production ATHM

End of Our Rope (uh- fabric)- A Selvage Mug Rug: Mini Quilt #20

This is my travel week for my summer job, and I’m sure you all know how stressful packing, moving, and traveling can be.  I have arrived in Connecticut and spent almost all day cleaning- yuck.  Now I need to unpack.  I  feel like packing for two months can (almost) be worse than a full move because it is difficult to anticipate exactly what will be needed during that time.  This year the preparation for leaving also involved planning and/or prepping tops for my Mini Quilt Mania series.  In all of the shuffle, I nearly forgot about this week’s quilt!  So I decided to stick with something simple, cute, and quickly executed- enter the Cotton and Steel selvage mug rug!

CS Selvage Mug Rug full view

I really like the selvage quilts that so many people have been making recently, but I tend to use every last bit of printed fabric in my projects without thinking about saving the printed edge first.  The one exception to this is Cotton and Steel fabrics.  I love the selvage designs on these prints.  The graphics are great, the fonts are varied and interesting, the colors reflect the print, and the text even tells a bit of a story.  I can’t through these selvages away!

For this mini, I topstitched several selvage strips together overlapping the raw edges with a finished ones.  Then I cut 45 degree triangle pieces from the larger strip, similar to how I made last week’s Topsy Turvy Mini Quilt.  I turned them together to form a square, and here we are!

CS Selvage Mug Rug detail

I kept the quilting simple with a half inch diagonal grid, and the binding is mostly red with a bit of the scrap selvage strips included.

CS Selvage Mug Rug back view

This little quilt is going to be on my work table this summer- I can have water bottle condensation dripping on all that pretty garment fabric! This was my first attempt at a selvage quilt, and I like it even more than I thought I would.   Now I might need to start saving all of the selvages. . .

Thank you so much to everyone who has been visiting and commenting on my posts!  I have been reading all of your wonderful comments, and I will be catching up on responses in the next few days now that I will be back in a routine.  I really appreciate your thoughts and feedback!

Quilt Stats

Title: End of Our Rope (uh-fabric): A Cotton and Steel Selvage Mug Rug

Size: 7″x7″

Techniques:  Topstitched construction with finished edges overlapping raw edges

Quilting:  1/2″ diagonal grid in red, done with a walking foot on a Bernina 1008

Fabric:  Cotton and Steel fabrics from assorted designers

Batting:  Warm and White cotton batting

Thread:  Pieced using white Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with Mettler cotton quilting thread in red

Binding:  Cotton and Steel Essentials fabric and scraps of selvage, cut on the bias, machine stitched to the front and hand stitched to the back

What was new?

Using Selvages!

Quilt 20 / 50

Quilt 20 / 50

Goal #6 is Finished!

Goal #6 is Finished!

Marsala Mini: Mini Quilt #13

Pantone’s color of the year for 2015 is Marsala, a warm red with brown undertones.  Every year, I look forward to finding out the color of the year, and I knew that this year I would explore the color in the form of a quilt.  I was even more excited when I heard about the Pantone Quilt Challenge at On the Windy Side and Play Crafts.Marsala Mini Front View

The Pantone website features a quote by their executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, describing marsala as a color which “enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability. Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us into its embracing warmth.”  The challenge for me was that marsala isn’t a color that I’m particularly drawn to.  However, I learned long ago that there is no “ugly” color- it is all in how you use it.  I certainly wouldn’t label marsala with the U-word, but it is skating a bit to close too brown for my taste, and so many red-brown fabrics can look depressing or even dead.  Fortunately, last fall I picked up several fat quarters of marsala-like fabrics from a clearance bin.  Maybe my subconscious is better at picking up color trends than the rest of my brain, but I was sure glad that I had these when the color of the year was announced!  I mixed those with a few other marsala-y reds to come up with my basic palette. Marsala Fabric

When I am not immediately inspired, I will often do some sort of free writing or word association with the topic or theme.  For me marsala is associated with things like wine, curry, tomato sauce, roses, lipstick-  sensuality, volume, and curves come to mind.  The more I thought about this color, the more I thought that marsala calls out to be used in an Art Nouveau inspired design.

In looking at some Art Nouveau research, I landed on this tile design.  For me, the curves of this design seemed to be the perfect match for marsala.ANTD-080_i

I popped the image into the computer to create three graphics that would help in the creation of this quilt.  The first was a line drawing for the main pieces of fabric.  I printed this image on freezer paper so I could cut apart the image, iron the pieces to fabric and press the seam allowances around the paper.  This allowed me to assemble the quilt top using English Paper Piecing style techniques.Marsala Mini line drawing a

Over the line drawing I added a layer showing the smaller pieces of fabric that I would later add using wonder under.  I also printed this off on freezer paper to make it easier to cut these shapes.  (Hint:  Freezer paper won’t stick well to the paper backing of wonder under.  I ironed the wonder under to the back of the fabric and the freezer paper to the front.  It was really easy to cut these fairly small shapes, and you could even leave the freezer paper in place to add stability to the fabric after the paper wonder under backing is removed.  Once the fabric is ironed in place you can peel back the freezer paper.)Marsala Mini line drawing b

The final graphic I created was a color image which I used to help determine general fabric placement.  After quite a bit of experimentation, I decided that marsala paired beautifully with oranges and deep, muted violets, blues, and greys.Marsala Mini color

The main construction of the top was done entirely by hand.

Main Marsala top construction with tan appliqués in place

Main Marsala top construction with tan appliqués in place

With the main construction complete, I adhered the smaller pieces to the quilt using Wonder Under before using a machine blanket stitch to sew around the edges of the appliqués.Marsala Process B

Here is the back view of the quilt top- I just love seeing “behind the scenes” on this sort of construction!Marsala Process B back

The quilt back is improvisationally pieced using marsala colored fabrics.

Marsala Mini back view

Marsala Mini back view

For the quilting I decided to do fairly heavy quilting echoing each shape in the design.

Marsala Front detail

Marsala Mini front detail

Marsala Mini back detail

Marsala Mini back detail

I am pretty sure that this is my favorite mini I have done in this series, so I am really glad that I went out of my comfort zone to embrace marsala!  What do you think of marsala?  Are you making a project using marsala this year?

Quilt Stats

Title:  Marsala Mini

Size: 13″x17″

Techniques:  English paper piecing, machine appliqué, improvisational piecing

Quilting:  Echo stitching done using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008

Fabrics:  Kona in wine and charcoal; Alison Glass prints; Basketweave, Whisper, and a couple other prints from Riverwoods Collection by the Troy Corporation; Carolyn Friedlander Botanics print; several prints and batiks from unidentified fat quarters.

Batting:  Warm and White Cotton Batting

Thread:  Pieced with Gutermann Mara 100 color 245 (a warm clay/taupe color), Machine appliquéd with Gutermann Mara 100 in color 257 (a dark plum sort of color), Quilted with Connecting Threads Essential cotton thread in Red

Binding:  Strips cut on the bias in 2″ widths, machine sewn to the front, hand sewn to the back

What was new:

Using English paper piecing techniques on irregularly curved shapes

Quilt 13 / 50

Quilt 13 / 50

Goal #12 is Finished!

Goal #12 is Finished!

I’m linking this post up with Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt InfatuationFabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, Pet Project at Pink Doxies, Show Off Saturday at Sew Can She, and Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts.  Please stop by to see all of the lovely work being created!

 


Preparing a Canvas Drop Cloth for Use in a Sewing Project

Confession:  I thoroughly enjoy the hardware store- especially when I can find materials to use in a non-traditional manner.  One of the items I like to re-invent is the canvas drop cloth.  Canvas is really useful in sewing and craft projects, but tends to be sort of expensive (for what it is) in the big-box craft stores.  In the tote bag series I am currently writing, canvas is used to add strength to the project.  I thought I would share how I prepare a drop cloth for this type of project.

Preparing a DropclothYou will find canvas drop cloths in the paint section of most major hardware stores.  I selected the 6’x9′ size because this size fits easily into a standard home washing machine and has no internal seams.  The amount of canvas in this drop cloth is roughly equivalent to purchasing 5 to 5 and a half yards of canvas off of a bolt at the fabric store.  My experience has been that a drop cloth costs about the same as 1 to 2 yards of plain canvas from the fabric store.  This is a good deal, especially for projects that you will never see this fabric.Dropcloth PackageTake a look at the fiber content.  You want something that is mostly cotton, but polyester is fine too.  The thing you want to watch for in non-traditional sources is spandex- canvas is a no stretch zone! (Unless I change my mind for a specific project that I haven’t dreamed up yet)  The good news is that a drop cloth should never have spandex, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much!

Care LabelLay your drop cloth out flat on the floor (or a table if you are lucky enough to have a surface the cloth can lay completely flat without hanging over the edges).  Now get out a measuring tape or two.  The metal construction kind is great for this type of thing.Tape MeasuresNext, we are going to measure the cloth to determine a starting measurement.  I put a permanent marker “X” in the corner, so I will know which corner my measurements are based from.  You can see that this drop cloth is about 107″ x 70.25″ to start with.  Make note of this measurement- you will need it later!Mark Drop Cloth CornerWash and dry the drop cloth.  Use hot water.  MAKE IT SHRINK!  This is the time you want the cloth to shrink- not when it is inside your super cute tote bag!  Lay the cloth out flat and measure it again.Drop Cloth ShrinksWow!  Now the same cloth measures 102.5″ x 67.25″.  That is a big difference.  Now wash and dry it again.  Use hot water, again.  Try to make it shrink again.  Measure once more.  Did it shrink by more than about a quarter inch?  If so repeat the washing/drying process.  You want to have two consecutive washings with the measurements not changing.  I usually end up doing 2-3 passes through the wash.  (Note:  Canvas purchased off a bolt at the fabric store will also shrink a lot, so make sure that you prewash that really well, too.)

Cat HelpsOptional Step:  Ask your cat to move off of the drop cloth.  This may take awhile.

Once you have shrunk your drop cloth you are ready to get rid of those wonky hems on the edges.  We are going to rip the edges to make sure that the final piece of fabric is on the grainline.  Clip about 3/4″ into the drop cloth.  Make sure you cut through the hem perpendicular to the clip.  The cut itself should be about 1 inch.Clip FabricNow rip the fabric, starting with the clip you just made.  If the rip runs back into the hem, make another clip 1/2″ to 1″ further in on the edge of the cloth and rip again.Rip FabricRepeat the clipping and ripping process on all four sides.  Prepared DropclothNow you are ready to go!  I’m excited- Are you?

 


Fabric!

Earlier this month, Sew Mama Sew hosted a giveaway week, and I am super excited that I won a fantastic bundle of fabric from Cynthia Brunz at Quilting is more fun than Housework.  The fabric arrived yesterday and it is beautiful!

April Showers Bundle


 

All of the fabrics in this bundle are from April Showers by Bonnie & Camille, which is put out by Moda.  I always think that it is difficult to do justice to fabric in a photograph, and these are even more fantastic in person.  The colors work wonderfully with the cheerful patterns of the design, and the texture is lovely.

April Showers Fabric

 

I am so excited to get to work with these prints!