Have the sewing room I dream of TONIGHT! Not really. I wish is right. Soon enough, though.
If you’ve read my previous post about painting over tacky wall paper, then you know my husband and I live in a pretty budget friendly house (that’s code for–NO ROOM for anything). So, a little over a year ago, we started building our dream workshop to house our hobbies. Brady drew up a big metal building and then we planned to frame off 1/4 of it on the interior to make that my sewing/quilting “studio”. My awesome father-in-law got involved and literally has done more than my husband and I combined.
The shop is basically done, and Brady has been working on my sewing room for the last 6 months.
If you use a long arm quilting machine, you probably have noticed that it isn’t always easy to keep your most valued tools at hand while working. I know this was an issue I had, as I currently rent time on a community machine and couldn’t just keep my items laying around wherever I pleased.
I used to be big into making aprons, but since I took up sewing…my cooking time has long diminished. The need for aprons in my household had kind of gone away, until I realized a sewing apron would really solve a lot of my problems.
I had written a pattern for a simple pocketed apron a few years ago and tweaked a few things to make sure it would accommodate my needs. Plus…Alison Glass’s Ex Libris fabric had just come out and I had to have something showing off that wonderful panel print. I really wish that I had bought an entire bolt of that color way of the corsage print, because I can’t seem to find more of it anywhere. When I adjusted my pattern, the bottom patchwork section of the apron had been a complementary strip of fabric–so I just added in the extra 1/4″ seam allowances for the little squares and pieced them to go with the center. The pocket on the front of the apron is actually 3 pockets, which easily contain my seam ripper, scissors, and a water soluble marking pin. The top flap that folds down on the body of the apron is where I slip my needle for burying threads so I always have it handy.
If you have a spare apron laying around, you wouldn’t even need to make a special one for quilting. I really love mine, and it has seriously uncomplicated my life in the quilting room. Instead of wasting time searching for my scissors or seam ripper, I know where everything is and they’re always within reach.
I know I’m surely not the first person to do this, but I hadn’t seen other quilters suggest this, so I thought I would put it out there. If you can’t tell, I’ve got a serious Alison Glass fabric love going on.
This past July (2015), Sew-lebrity Victoria Findlay Wolfe visited our guild for a trunk show and two days of workshops. This was the first workshop I had ever really had the time or opportunity to take by one of the more “known” teachers/quilters/designers, and it was a blast! Some of the other members in the SAMQG have taken lots of classes with other “sew-lebrities” and said that the VFW workshops were some of the most fun and they really got a lot out of them. I really learned a lot, and had not tried VFW’s technique of “made” fabric.
Let me just start by saying that I am not an improv kind of girl. Starting the “made” fabric was actually really a lot of work, and it took some time to get it out of my head that “made” fabric did not have to be some planned, geometric masterpiece. The more you wing it, the better it looks, in my opinion. VFW’s basic teaching is to create your “made” fabric and then cut down to manageable sizes to piece with.
In the class, I started with a triangle template and trimmed my pieces down to size. Then I had planned on cutting some solids from the same template to use with my made fabrics so they didn’t just get lost in an all made-fabric quilt.
There must be something in the water…or maybe I’m just at that season in my life where the wedding showers have ended and baby showers are now the reigning social event! That being said, there’s nothing I love more than designing and putting together cute baby quilts. Let’s face it…quilts are very time consuming. BUT if you do small ones, they take significantly less time, and are loved the same! It’s really fun to play around with layout and quilt design when you know the process will be quick and fun and you’ll learn something from the quilt you create. I recently did a quilt for a baby boy with all gray fabric, and really loved the mother-to-be’s registry choices. I could tell that she had very modern taste and would probably be okay with me throwing something together that was a little Libs Elliott inspired.
One issue that comes up with making things from quilted leathers or faux leathers is that they typically can’t be thrown into the washing machine with little care. This creates a problem when you’re constructing fashionable diaper bags with leather that REALLY need to be washed.
A possible solution that I’ve found is called Kraft-Tex, produced by C&T Publishing.
You can probably tell that I like to dabble in all things quilty. Last summer, I decided that I wanted to conquer English Paper Piecing. What I didn’t realize at the time was that EPP is extremely addictive because you can take it anywhere…it’s easy to do on the couch while watching tv, great for road trips (when you aren’t driving), and can also be done at social gatherings.
When people hear “EPP” or English paper piecing, many probably envision little hexagons, endearingly called “hexies” pieced together with traditional or reproduction fabrics that may end up looking a little dated. I’m not crazy about that look, but I LOVE Willyne Hammerstein’s book Millefiori Quilts. (And now there’s a second book to follow the first.) In the first book, one quilt pattern in particular caught my eye–the “La Passacaglia”. It combines pentagons, triangles, diamonds, and other shapes to create a myriad of rosettes that are breathtaking. I will say there is a slight drawback if you are using the practice of fussy-cutting (positioning your templates on specific motifs on the fabric to create another design), and that is using fabric yardage inefficiently. But you’ll be making scraps for other projects as you go, so really, it’s a win-win!
Here are a couple of pictures of some of my completed rosettes.
This summer I had the amazing opportunity to do some work for Janome. I made a few garments and a bag for them to use in a photo shoot, and even though it was stressful, seeing the finished products come to life on other people was maybe the best feeling in the world!
I can’t post the video yet, as they haven’t released the advertised equipment yet, but I did screenshot some of the items I made to share with you. I never thought I would have an opportunity to do something like this, and it was a blast! I only recently started my trek into clothing, even though I’ve dabbled in bags since the beginning. I must say I’m smitten and sometimes so in awe of the pattern designers.
I can’t wait to continue my journey into exploring different garment fabrics, and even incorporating some into the quilts I make. Even though I adore quilting and the process that goes into it, sometimes trying things you aren’t comfortable with are really refreshing and have the ability to breathe new life into your work. Now that the school year has started, I’m back at quilting, but it’s really nice to know that garments will be on the sidelines waiting for me the next time I want to stray away and try something new 🙂
Since the last time I posted (I know…it’s been a while!), I have taken up long arm quilting. Somewhere along the line, I had this idea in my head that long arm quilting was “cheating”, and if a quilt was quilted on a long arm, then it wasn’t really “your” work. I could not have been MORE wrong.
The time and skill that go into this type of quilting is ridiculous! I also had no idea that there were multiple types of long arm quilting. I just assumed that all “long arm” quilting was a computer program that you just pressed play, and BOOM! it’s done. Once I realized there was a niche of long arm quilting that I would absolutely adore, I’ve been hooked ever since. (And plus…there’s no more basting with safety pins on your living room floor! You can’t beat that!!!)
The category of quilting that I specialize in is free motion quilting. That means no pantographs, no computer programs…just you and the machine. Your hands and brain putting the thread and needle to work to create something magical that can’t be duplicated.
Mini quilt swaps are becoming all the rage! You can find them everywhere, from private blogs, Facebook, Instagram, and even quilt guilds are becoming involved. If you aren’t familiar with what a mini-quilt swap is–it’s usually created by one person, and then other people sign up to help moderate. Partners are assigned, sometimes based on similar likes and interests. You are given a deadline, and after you sign up, you are asked to create something awesome for your swap partner. It’s on a small scale, normally the quilt sizes are limited to under 24″, so there is plenty of time for creativity and finishing.
I “borrowed” this photo collage from The Houston Modern Quilt Guild Blog at houstonmodernquiltguild.blogspot.com and it shows some great examples of some minis:
Some of the more popular swaps are the #schnitzelandboo mini quilt swap (@schnitzelandboo), the #igminiswap and countless other swaps that include other items besides mini quilts. Many of them have themes that you are supposed to stay within. For example, The Strawberry swap has a strawberry theme, $itchesgetstiches (expletive) moderated by (@weenchaweena) has a swearing theme, and countless others are themed after seasons, holidays, etc.
Typically, these swaps have rules and guidelines you are supposed to follow, and the intention is to make connections with other sewists across the globe.
These swaps are so much fun to participate in, that I felt the need to do a blog post on them. Many people don’t know where to start, but they are really simple to get involved in, and probably the most difficult part is meeting the deadline before the sign up closes! Many swaps have limits for how many people can sign up, as they are usually free to participate in, and overseen by a Regular Jo with a real job.
Here are some pointers I personally have for you if you plan on participating in a swap:
1. Plan ahead. Have some ideas you can easily use and alter to fit your partner’s likes.
2. “Stalk” your partner’s social media accounts to find out what they like. This is really a lot of fun, and you can easily uncover favorite colors, patterns, and other fun things about your partner’s interests.
3. DON’T BACK OUT! Someone is looking forward to your handmade gift. If you can’t commit to the swap, don’t sign up! How disappointed would you be if you took the time to make an awesome mini for someone, and then received nothing in return?
4. Once you have your partner assignment, get your fabric and pattern early, and get to work! Have your mini done way before the deadline so you don’t have to sweat not making the ship date.
5. Put your personal touches into the gift. Don’t forget a quilt label! You want your partner to know where the quilt came from, who made it, and when.
6. HAVE FUN! These swaps are intended to be fun, so HAVE FUN!
I absolutely love making things for other people, and it makes it so much more fun when you don’t know them. It’s awesome to have the challenge of making something for someone else by trying to find out what they’re interested in.
The first swap I participated in was the Sewing Loft Blog Mini Quilt Swap. Here’s what I made for my partner: