Saturday, October 30, 2010

Red & Aqua for Blogger's Quilt Festival

To those of you quilt-hopping in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, welcome!


What's my favorite quilt of the moment?  I guess it's this one, and the ones to come from do. Good Stitches, a virtual quilting bee for charity.  This quilt is an expression of love, of friendship and of generosity.  And, it's not really "mine" at all.

Congrats, team =)

I made my first quilt, the Colorbrick, at the beginning of this year.  Course, once a blogger catches the quilting bug the quilting bees start calling.  "Come play with us!"  "Look, you can use my fabric!"  "We'll help you make a quilt!"  The lure is strong, but something stopped me.

Fact is, I don't need many quilts for our house.  I have a bonafide quilt-hating-husband (who's otherwise a gem), so my only excuses for making quilts is this bed, that bed and the other.  After that, I think my license to quilt (for us) will expire. I've gotta savor the process every time, you know?

from the back

Nope, I don't want a quilt for "me" from a quilting bee, but I do want to play.  And, then there's this other thing, I'd like to do some good.  Help others.  Make quilts for people who actually need them.  Children that don't have quilting mamas, or aunts, or grandmothers.  Yes, a quilting bee for charity would be perfect!

the binding

But, I couldn't find one.  So, I made one.  It's called do. Good Stitches. 10 talented ladies joined me in our first sewing circle called "Love" which makes quilts to be distributed to needy children through Wrap Them in Love.  This Red & Aqua Sampler Quilt is our first completed quilt.  It was my pleasure to plan, piece and finish it.  In the process I learned that differing shades of aqua only enhanced the quilt, that finding bee blocks in the mail for weeks is completely enchanting, and that there are a LOT of people who want to get involved doing some good!

Red & Aqua Sampler Quilt Top

Right now we have 3 active sewing circles and 2 more that are to launch December or January.  If you'd like to get involved, please drop by our group page on Flickr to get the gooey details and fill out our new members form. You can also see bits of the 7 other quilts that are currently in process!

Blessings,

Rachel

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fat Quarter Surprise {a Halloween Giveaway}

Fat Quarter Surprise Giveaway

Trick or treat!  Wanna win a stack of 8 designer fat quarters?  Two winners will each take home a Fat Quarter Surprise set from Sew Love Fabrics this Halloween.  All of the fabrics are cut from those you see in Ruth's shop. The lucky winners will pass along favorite colors and/or designers, and she'll do her best to match your tastes

Enter now through Halloween night (midnight Sunday, October 31st).

Fat Quarter Stack

Ways to Enter {Leave a comment for each}

1:  Tell us what fabric is tops on your wish list!
2.  Follow Stitched in Color
3.  Let me know what you'd like to hear or see more of at Stitched in Color.  I'd love constructive criticism with the suggestions.  Don't worry, I can handle it!

Happy Halloween!  And thanks, Sew Love Fabrics!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stash Buster Patchwork Tablecloth

a Patchwork Tablecloth

Talk about a stash buster!  When I first got it into my head last night to make this tablecloth I waivered at the thought of consuming so much yardage.  But then my very resistance turned into yet another reason to surrender to the party-throwing gaiety - fabric is meant to be USED!  In fact, I was just starting to admit to myself that my fabric cabinet was getting rather fat with the goods.  So, here's to slimming down!

my dishes love this fabric

This Friday we'll be hosting 16 adults, 5 kids and 4 toddlers for dinner.  That many!  And, since we're having soup, tables and real dishes are a must, yes?  And if we're going to have to use plastic fold-up tables, you bet I'm covering them with tablecloths. 

what, it matches the banner?

How bouts a tablecloth made to match my fall banner?  Hmm... yes, I think so!  (I'm also contemplating making 4 baby bibs in fall colors - yes, I know it's a little overboard, but I'll be putting cloth napkins on everyone else's plates so it really won't look right unless....)

pieced edges

That said, I did grieve to use up so much precious Good Folks fabric.  I consoled myself with the thought that this tablecloth is for me, hence I could always rework it into some other project if desired.  Wow, I am that person now.  As you can see, I just worked with the fabric I found in my cabinet - mostly half yard cuts which just barely spanned the table.  A little scrappy here and there + a border to give it extra width = a patchwork tablecloth I'll love each fall.  Included are some of the prints I purchased recently by RoseMarie Lavin, Freebird Ovals in Bark (I wish for more of those - they're so handy) and that solid plum that I used for Aria's Christmas stocking.

Fabric not wide enough = pieced edges

Guess what I realized after I finished piecing the top?  I had intended to use that solid plum for a color-spectrum baby quilt I'm making for a good friend.  Oops.  Now I don't have enough.  Is it still a stash-buster if it's now forcing me to go shopping?  Oh well, a girl can never have enough Kona.

the inspiration

The dishes made me do it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Colorbrick: How to Spray Baste Your Quilt

This post is part of a series {Colorbrick} a Beginner’s Quilt-Along. You can join in anytime, even if you’re not a beginner! Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

For quilters, basting is when you take your finished quilt top, quilt back and batting and make a "quilt sandwich" with your batting in the middle.  The goal is to smoothly connect all layers so that you can quilt (as in stitching through all 3 layers) them together without things shifting about as you go.  There are many ways to baste a quilt.  This is just what works best for me (largely because it is faster).  If you prefer to pin baste, check out this tutorial at Red Pepper Quilts.  For a comparison of pin basting and spray basting, see this post.

Get Ready

To baste you will need your quilt top, a backing that measures approximately 2 inches bigger than your quilt top on all sides, and a batting that is bigger than your quilt top, but smaller than your quilt back.  No need to be precise about the batting and backing measurements, as you will trim them to match the quilt top exactly when we're done quilting.

Other supplies:  masking tape, spray adhesive made for quilting (I'm happy with the Dritz brand, though others recommend the 505 Fix & Spray), clothesline/clothespins or large flat sheet.

It is not healthy to breathe the spray adhesive, so do not use this product around young children and take extra care if you are pregnant.  In an ideal world, you would use it outside only.  Today I used the clothesline method, which was suggested by one of my readers, specifically so that I could keep the spray out of my house.  If you do not have a clothesline, you could spray baste flat on your porch or inside on your floor with windows open. I will outline that process at the end of this tutorial.

No matter which method you use, aim to hold the can about 12 inches from the fabric as you spray lightly and evenly, moving your arm from side to side in large sweeping motions.  How much to spray?  Think of this like spraying hairspray.  You don't want to wet the fabric.  You want just enough to make it tacky.  It should feel tacky on the fabric when you touch it, but it may not stick together like crazy, even though you used enough product.  I've heard that using too much could cause your needles to gum up.  Don't forget to shake the can well before spraying.

Step 1:  Iron

A smooth, unwrinkled quilt top and backing will make basting easier, no matter what method you use to baste your quilt.  Take the time to iron out those fold lines!

Step 2:  Spray the Backing

Spray Basting 1

Hang your quilt back on your clothesline.  Spray the wrong side of your backing (if you can figure out the wrong side!) with spray adhesive.  I was able to carry this inside all by myself by folding the right sides of the backing together so that the tacky sides remain facing out.


Step 3:  Tape Down the Backing

Spray Basting 2

Back inside your house, lay out your quilt back on a smooth, flat surface with the right side down and the tacky side up.  Tape all the way around the edges with masking tape.  As you go make sure that the quilt back is laying flat and taut, but not stretched.  Pulling it just a little to make it taut is a good idea.

Step 4:  Lay Out the Batting

Spray Basting 3

Fold your batting into quarters so that it's easier to manipulate (or, if you have help, skip the folding and request assistance).  Place the batting on one corner of your quilt back with the folds towards the center of the quilt.  Unfold carefully, being sure that all batting remains on your quilt back and keeping everything nice and straight.  If you find you've gone wrong somewhere, go ahead and lift up your batting to reposition it.  Your spray adhesive should allow for easy repositioning, but you should feel a light pull as you peel the batting away from the backing.  Adjust until your batting lies smooth.

Spray Basting 4

Step 5:  Spray the Quilt Top

Hang your quilt top on your clothesline.  Spray the wrong side with spray adhesive. 

Spray Basting 5

Again, fold it with right sides touching and remove from clothesline.  Carry it inside, keeping it folded.

Step 6:  Lay Out the Quilt Top

Spray Basting 6

Lay your folded quilt top on the batting with the wrong side/tacky side down.  Once you have half of the quilt positioned well, unfold it carefully.  Spread and reposition until it lies smooth and straight.  Look at your quilt from the side to check that the long sashing strips are straight.  If they're a little off, just pull and nudge things into place.  Last of all, run your hands over the quilt, with some pressure, to make sure that the adhesive is coming into firm contact with the fabric throughout.

If everything is going well, your quilt is now spray basted!  All 3 layers should be stuck together so that they act like one piece.  If you find things aren't sticking you probably didn't use enough spray adhesive.  You could spray a little more on spots that need it, watching out for overspray and being thoughtful of any little ones in the house.  Alternatively, you could use basting pins to secure spots that aren't sticking well.  With practice you will learn to apply the spray adhesive just right the first time around!

Spray Basting 7

Now you can fold and set aside your quilt - it's ready to be quilted!!!

How to Spray Baste on the Floor

If you're working inside, you want to protect your floor from adhesive overspray.  If you're working outside on a porch, you want to protect your quilt from any dirt.  Either way you need a smooth flat surface to baste.  Lay a spare sheet out and tape it down all the way around with masking tape.  When you're done basting, you can wash the sheet to remove any spray adhesive.

Now, lay out your quilt back very smoothly with the wrong side up.   Tape all the way around the edges with masking tape, securing the quilt back to your sheet.  As you go make sure that the quilt back is laying flat and taut, but not stretched.

Next position your batting on the quilt back.  Get it smooth and perfectly in place.  Then, fold it in half to reveal half of your quilt back underneath.

Spray the adhesive on the quilt back, evenly and lightly.  Unfold the batting, which should easily go back to it's perfectly placed position.

Repeat on the other side - fold in half, spray and unfold.  Your quilt back and batting should now be adhered and laying flat ready for the quilt top.

Now lay out your quilt top on top of the batting with the right side of the quilt top up.  Tug and position until everything is lined up just so.  When you're happy with the position, fold the quilt top in half.

Spray the batting that is revealed.  Unfold the quilt top and smooth it out.

Repeat, folding the opposite side of the quilt top which has not yet been adhered.  Spray the batting and unfold.

Give the entire quilt a nice smoothing, making sure that all layers have made firm contact throughout.  Your quilt is basted!

Questions?  Suggestions?  Please post them here!  

Happy basting =)

Monday, October 25, 2010

I HEART the Ovis Hill Farm Festival

Yesterday we made memories at the Ovis Hill Farm Festival.  The festivities are held on a real, old-fashioned sheep farm in Timmonsville, SC. Skilled artisians, story tellers, muscians, local farmers, bakers, painters and more converge in a little-known and much loved fall festival.

and lots of smiles

Each year is a little different.  This time around the kids got to play tug-o-war..

Tug-a-war

Ok, so did I.

Farm animals galore

We enjoyed our usual favorites like the hayride, boarder collie sheep-hearding demonstration, and petting zoo. I wanted to take one of these sweet calves home, but we don't have things ready for that - yet.  Our first farm animal just may be a pig this November.  But, you never know these things until they happen, so don't get your hope up (Rachel). 

Games

Besides the fun and games, there was a storyteller who shared an old American version of a traditional Baba Yaga fairytale. My kids were mezmerized, of course.  Storytelling is their favorite part of our homeschool.  There's something magical about hearing a tale spun straight from the lips of a real live person.

First Snowcones ever

I was a little sad that we missed out on the square-dancing this year, but on the upside Aria and Liam had their first snowcones ever.  I cautioned Liam not to eat the paper cup.

What was my favorite part of the festival?  The color of course!  Take a look at the children getting crafty.  These are pumpkins and a few of the gourds made by visitors throughout the day.

Pumpkin Painting

Festivities

Birdhouse-Making

And here are some wooly treasures hand-spun and plant-dyed. This rainbow takes my breath away.  I don't own any real, lovely yarn - but someday, someday! 

And,yes, they do spinning demonstrations too!

Handspun Treasures

Spinning Wheel Demos

Plant-dyed Wool Yarn

This is the one family outing that the kids and I look forward to most every fall. Maybe next year, if you live near South Carolina, you could join us at Ovis Hill Farm!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Colorbrick: Hello Quilt Top!

This post is part of a series {Colorbrick} a Beginner’s Quilt-Along. You can join in anytime, even if you’re not a beginner! Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

Isn't October just flying by?  So is this quilt-along.  At least, for me!  I see it's time for another post.  This one is oh-so-easy to explain.  Cool.  And when you're done piecing, I'd so very much love to see your quilt top!!!!  Please share a picture at our Flickr group when you have a minute!

Step 1: Piece Rows

quilt top 1

Let's connect our bricks into rows by stitching brick to brick with right sides together.  Use your trusty 1/4" inseam and have at it.  You can either add one brick at a time, which is the no-brainer way to make sure you keep everything in order.  Or, you can lay out your row, then make sets of bricks right side together and chain piece them to move things along a bit quicker.  You'll then have a few sets of bricks that need to be joined to complete a row. 

quilt top 2

Before you continue, give all of those seams a nice pressing. I like to press seams open, for the flattest look.


Step 2: Add Long Sashing

So to be honest, I had three rows stitched together this morning when my quilt-hating husband, nicely asked "Isn't there something wrong here?"  I stared blankly and he pointed out that I'd forgotten the long sashing.  Duh.

Attaching the sashing is easy, though tedious.  The Colorbrick quilt has 11 rows of bricks and 12 long sashing strips.  When you're finished you'll have sashing between every row and at the top and bottom too, to frame your bricks.  Sew one long sashing strip to the bottom of each row.  And, then add your last strip of sashing to the top row of bricks, so that it's sandwhiched in sashing.

quilt top 3

I suggest you break out the walking foot attachment at this time, since it helps me sew a long seam like this quite evenly.  To sew, flip your sashing so that right sides are together.  Pin along about every 4 inches (pin closer together if you don't have a walking foot or if you're having trouble with fabric bunching).  Stitch with a 1/4" seam.

Step 3: Join Rows

quilt top 4

Lay out your rows in order, noting the numbers you made on masking tape. The rows that contain chopped bricks should be 1/2" shorter than your regular 5-brick rows. Center those narrow chopped-brick rows so that they are 1/4" short on each side of the row. I chose to work with 4 rows at a time on my tabletop, just to avoid being on the floor so much.

quilt top 5

Starting with the rows nearest to you, flip the bottom row over onto the next row. Again, make sure it is centered. Pin every 4-5 inches and stitch a 1/4" seam.

Unlike when piecing individual bricks, I like to press my rows as I go. This makes a nice flat quilt-top-in-progress that's easier to match up with the next row. So, go ahead and press your row seam now.

Lay out your work and flip the next row (a 5-brick row) over onto your quilt-top-in-progress. Line it up with your first 5 brick row, to keep things straight. Pin, stitch and press.

Continue adding row by row!

Step 4: Trim Edges

After pressing your last row, you're nearly done. Before putting your gorgeous quilt top away, let's trim those edges. I like to do this on a smooth floor.

quilt top 6

Spread out your quilt nice and flat. Slide your cutting mat under the uneven edge until one of your cutting lines matches up with the short rows. Cut off that extra 1/4" of each side of your quilt, so that you have a nice straight side. (Note: I did not trim my sashing to the exact right size, hence the big sashing dog ears).

So, due to some backtracking and an unexpected trip to Target (that place is too good), I only got part of my quilt top pieced today.  When I finish it, I promise to share.  You too, OK?


Step 5: Prepare Your Quilt Back

I know, I threw this one in sneaky-like.  I hope you don't mind!

Measure your finished quilt top and note the measurement. For my next quilt-along post on Tuesday, you will need your quilt back ready. Your quilt back should be bigger than your quilt top by about 2" on each side. This leeway just makes the basting process more fail-proof. If you're using the wide linen I recommended, just cut a quilt back to size - easy peasy!  If you're using Kona cotton or any regular 44" wide fabric for your quilt back, you'll need to piece something together. You could keep it simple - just solid yardage with a seam wherever it falls. Or, you can dress up that seam by piecing some bricks from any leftover fabric into a single row and placing that row where your solid yardage pieces meet.  It would look something like this quilt back.

Quilting

I personally like a lot of solid on the back for this quilt to show off the stair-step quilting design.  The above is a picture of the back of my first Colorbrick quilt.  This baby was my first quilt ever... I hope to get the quilting a little straighter this time.  But, really, there's no harm in a little meander now and then!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Vintage with Pop

This morning, instead of working on my Colorbrick quilt for the post that's supposed to publish today, the kids and I made an apron for Abbey.  It doesn't seem that our purchased gift is going to arrive in time for the birthday party.  Will you forgive my quilt-along tardiness?  I'll post the next step for Colorbrick tomorrow!



I was totally thrilled to win this beautiful bias tape from The Modern Marigold last week.  It's made of vintage sheets in a pastel range of colors that I pretty much never work with.  I love it though and had decided to design a project for it.  An apron was the obvious choice here.

Take 1 ~ A Layer Cake Quilt

Have you seen this quilt by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts?  She paired vintage-inspired Dream On charm squares with bold lime green.  Such a fun, updated look!

Abbey's Apron

With Rita's color scheme in mind, I chose a bold turquoise polka dot for the body of the apron and embellished it with a textured pink pocket for the girliness factor.  And to seal the deal, I stitched a princess on top.  You know, because 6-year-old girls must be darn sure that anything they wear screams "GIRL!"  Aria was a bit stretched by the polka dot print.  "Isn't it turquoise, mama?"  "Yes, it's not blue."  Green flag to proceed.

her pose

When I finished applying the soft vintage trim, she exclaimed "Oh, I really like it!  I didn't know that was how it would look!  I wasn't sure...."  Hurray!  If Aria likes it, I think Abbey will too.

Abbey's Apron on Aria

Are your children such goofballs when you try to take their pictures? Aria loves to pose and chooses the funniest things. She walked into the room with both hands stuffed in that small center pocket, declaring that this was how she wanted to pose for the picture. I really should have snapped that shot!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

this Corner of my home

Come right in, sit down and get comfy.... oh, and bring your handwork!

Wine & Plum in Living

I love this little nook of my living room.  Over the year and a bit that I've been sewing, I've been nesting.  It's fun to see the little touches of handmade multiplying, pronouncing layers of love and friendliness and personality into our space.  The only catch I'm finding is that it's pretty much my personality.  Does anyone else have a husband who's starting to feel smothered in all the fabricy goodness?  Ahem.

Alabama Chanin Pincushion

This over the armchair pincushion is straight from Natalie Chanin's first book Alabama Stitch Book (which, OMG, is on sale for $13.00 - wish I hadn't just bought mine!). It's done in the bloomers stencil with reverse applique on jersey fabric - a fabric which rolls when cut rather than fraying like woven quilting cotton. It takes a good bit of time to do all that stitching, but I love the process. Making something so imminently practical and destined to be seen was totally motivating too.

Hurray, let's stitch!

So, my only misgiving is that my version seems to have come out different than Natalie's. I think I got the dimensions off somewhere or maybe it just looks funny on my big ol' couch arm.  But, whatever, I'm only going to say that once and now move on.  I do really love the plum and nude on our wine red couch.  Sisters on the color wheel always make me happy!

I'm excited to use this, but I haven't decided what I'll be hand-stitching next.  What are you working on?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Colorbrick: Musical Bricks

This post is part of a series {Colorbrick} a Beginner’s Quilt-Along. You can join in anytime, even if you’re not a beginner! Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

I think this is my favorite step - my very most favoritist step!  We're going to take all those beautiful bricks and lay them out to reveal your gorgeous quilt-to-be.  Ya!

Step 1:  Make Eleven Rows of Five

Musical Bricks Step 1

Set out your bricks in eleven rows with 5 bricks in each row.  They should be staggered, like real brickwork.  Of course, you'll want even - not staggered - sides on your quilt.  To that end, we will cut 5 bricks in half, placing the half-bricks so as to fill in the holes.  If you're wondering which bricks will be cut up, the 5 that are sticking out on the right are them.  More on that later.  At this step, your goal is to achieve a layout of color and print that makes you happy. 

Step 2:  Cut Bricks to Fill Holes

Musical Bricks Step 2

First we'll locate the 5 bricks that must be cut in half.  Start at the top of your layout.  In the first row NO bricks will be cut.  Row 1 will remain as is with 5 whole bricks.  In Row 2, the far right brick will be cut in half. Row 3 will remain whole.  In Row 4, the far right brick will be cut in half - and so on alternating with one row remaining whole and the next containing a brick on the far right to be cut.  After gathering all of your bricks, you should have 5 bricks total.  The last row, Row 11, contains 5 bricks that will remain whole.

Take your 5 bricks to your cutting mat and place them as shown.  Each brick measures 5.5 x 11 inches.  Cut your bricks in half to create two squares, each 5.5 inches square.

Step 3:  Place Half Bricks

Musical Bricks Step 3

When you cut a brick in half, one side is a plain printed square and the other is a pieced square made of a print and a strip of sashing.  All 5 pieced squares must go in the holes on the left side of your quilt.  Put them wherever you like them best - they do not have to be opposite their other halves.

Musical Bricks Step 3b

Place the simple printed squares in the holes on the right side of your quilt.  By the way, because we have cut one brick in half, the rows with chopped bricks will measure 1/2 inch shorter than the rows with 5 whole bricks.  That's ok - we'll just center the rows on each other when we go to piece the quilt and then trim the edges removing approximately 1/4 inch from each side.  Don't worry!

Step 4:  Finalize Layout

Musical Bricks Step 4

Now take the time to be sure that you love your layout.  I tend to play musical bricks, swapping and shifting until things look just right.  Try viewing your quilt from farther away or above to see if anything bothers you.  Walk around the quilt to check it out from different perspectives.  Sometimes taking a picture and looking at it on a computer screen can be helpful if you're having trouble.

If you are an experienced quilter, you can see how to continue from here.  Feel free to piece it together right away, if you have the time.  I'm going to continue now with directions for how to pick up and store your quilt layout for piecing later on.  With two little kids in my home, I don't have the luxury of leaving my works in progress out!

Step 5:  Mark Rows

Musical Bricks Step 5

I learned this technique for marking and storing quilts in progress from Oh, Fransson!  She's a great teacher.  Find some masking tape and place a piece on the far left brick of each row.  Then, number your rows.


Step 6:  Stack & Pin


Musical Bricks Step 6

Now stack up each row, keeping the bricks in order. So, first pick up the left brick and place it on top of the next brick. Continue all the way across until you've gathered the whole row. Finish by pinning your row together with one pin that points up towards the top of your quilt. In this way, you're preserving the order and orientation of each brick.

Don't they look nice all stacked up and fine?  I'll be back later this week with the final step for completing your quilt top!
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