Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Anger Management Three-Seam Skirt (Tutorial)

... 'Cause band t-shirts aren't professional, but I needed to wear red for a school festival...

This little $4.50 caterpillar had no idea what she was destined for.

The skirt is lined with itself. Here are the two layers:

How did I do it? Easy.

Step 1: Snip the sheet above the corner seams (the part that make it a fitted sheet). Rip straight so you have a giant rectangle (this is the anger management part). Press. I like raw edges. Otherwise I'd have done something about them at this point.

Step 2: Sew the short sides of the rectangle together. (Seam 1)

Step 3: Fold the rectangle in half, almost as if you were folding the top down on a garbage bag. As you do this, be sure that the seam is to the inside and that the inner part is shorter than the outer part. Press the fold.

Step 4: Sew a top stitch about 1/8 inch from the folded edge. (Seam 2)

Step 5: Mark a line with tailor's chalk or a pencil 1 inch from your stitching line. Sew, but leave about 2 inches open. This is your casing. (Seam 3)

Step 6: Insert 3/4 inch elastic into the opening and fit. Stitch the ends together and tuck them into the casing.

Step 7: Stitch the casing closed.

The end!

Squiggle Practice

I ran out of space on my practice pad, but then I remembered I had this piece hanging sneakily in my closet.

So I found a chunk of backing fabric and used it to practice free-motion squiggles instead!

Alas my thread is black and it's hard to see exactly what I did.

Squiggles are a challenge! I didn't expect that!

But in the end it turned out alright. I've never made a quilted pillow before. I put together a back to it last night--just a trimmed-up fat quarter and a contrasting border--so I guess I'll use the front and back as free-motion practice pads and figure out how it gets put together later. There's whole groups devoted to pillows, after all :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Skills

My practice pad is filling up!

Tension issues didn't get entirely worked out, even once I moved to the quilt.

But I had fun doodling! Truth be told, I don't have a quilt journal, even though it's on the supply list for the quilt-along. I DO, however, keep a spiral pad in my purse and fill it with all kinds of jots and tittles and diagrams. I waffle between planning and flowing. In this case, I'm flowing.

And look! Look what ripples and currents emerged! That line at the bottom was entirely haphazard and I LOVE it!

Yup. Confidence growing. New skills accelerating! My non-ugly quilt-along quilt is coming along sweetly!

Speaking of sweetness, here's a post-laundering snippet of the "giant coaster" I made as a belated hostess gift. I ironed it after it popped out of the dryer and trimmed a few edges.

Love the backing fabric, too. I sent the piece as a gift with the Ent. It's already been delivered. Last I heard there was much gushing and flurries of activity as the girls were deciding where to hang it in their house. It's about 18 inches at its longest... and apparently the colors and textures are ideal!

As if free-motioning weren't enough to master, the Ent has been teaching me new skills, too. Here he demonstrates "slack lining". Don't know what that is? Imagine a tight rope, without the tight. FUN!

In other news, I start giving sewing lessons in two weeks. Hooray! Excited!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Practice

After checking out the Flickr pool for this quilt-along I realized I had much more to play with and set about filling my practice pad. I think the spiral leaf is my favorite.

In other news, I have a new way to organize my life! It's called "Weekend-Oriented". This requires immense planning such that the weekend can be optimized. (If you want something done, give it to a busy person... like me... Miss Get-It-Done these days!) Hence when I learned that a certain Ent (that's a Tolkien reference, not Ear-Nose-Throat) was headed my direction, I bumped up my nebulous plans and created the following:

Step 1--layout

Step 2--misspelled cursive

Step 3--clamp down those pinked edges!

Step 4--give the tension fairies black eyes.

When visiting Mr. Ent a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of staying with three lovely ladies in a textile-rich house. I created a mini-quilt (or GIANT coaster!) for them using pinked scraps I'd prepared for an eventual crazy quilt. Perfect opportunity to practice more free-motion, right? In theory, yes. Yes, I practiced! And I realized that all those edges were a pill to sew down, even though I'd set them together using a hunk of fusible interfacing. OH WELL. This sweet baby's in the wash as we speak so all the wonderful shrinkage can happen. Pics when it comes out. Love the backing fabric, but my pics were blurry.

In other news, real sewing commissions are coming in! First, a coworker approached me to make a Christmas pinafore for her daughter. Then, a student's mother approached me about teaching her daughter to sew on machine. Doors, open! Joy, come on in!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Free Motioning + Finger Fidgets

First few squiggles...

How narrow those strips are! Not a lot of space to oscillate!

Oh, wait. That's right. I pieced this top before I had my true 1/4 inch presser foot. So these little wiggles had less than an inch to breathe.

But what does 1/4 inch really look like? I was inspired to find out! I took the following two pictures a moment after breakfast this morning:

Tubes stitched using my new foot, then rotary sliced to approximate squares...

Forty-some of these puppies sat with me while preschoolers napped, teachers talked and elementary schoolers trotted from room to room. Two questions I get almost daily from students: "What are you making?" and "I like your _______, did you make it?" Answers: "I don't know, we'll see when I'm done!" and "Yes, thank you!"

So... what am I making? I don't know, we'll see when I'm done!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Practiced and Ready!

My sewing machine is all set for free-motion quilting!

Hmm... feed dogs taped but bobbin is harder to access... let's see how this goes...

First stitches on my practice pad! WHOA! Check the tension!

At least on the top it isn't too bad.

Now for filler. I adjusted the tension and it felt much better. Next step is learning how to "skate to where the puck is going"--look ahead of the needle rather than right where it's at.

I love it when even the practice run looks fun! So much potential, so many places to go, so many quilts to attack with gusto!

Like my Trees baby quilt! Just a few more seams and the top is together. I've had the backing fabric since this summer, and I'm looking forward to piecing it.

And what could be better than the correct 1/4 inch foot for my machine? At my mother's recommendation I visited a new Bernina shop in the area. The repairman on site took a look at the feet I brought in and easily snagged this one for me. YAY! No more wonky 3/8 inch seams! No more wondering if I mismeasured! Thanks Allison for this post encouraging me to check into things :-) Looking forward to putting this baby to work soon (after the quilt-along concludes... One presser foot at a time, and right now it's the darning foot!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lunch Bag

My lunch bag smelled horrible, even after using disinfecting wipes. I'll blame it on poorly-sealed plastic containers baking in Southern summer car heat.

Thank you, Alisa Burke, for inspiring me to take canvas off its stretchers and make things with it. Thank you for your lunch bag inspiration!

It began as this...

And ended as this!

Not gonna lie. Canvas is not my favorite thing to sew. Tension looks great from the top, but from the bottom it's all kinds of rats-nesty. Also, it's so thick it doesn't drape as it comes through the machine, so if I'm not careful to bend it, it presses against the wall and gets stuck. There's gotta be a trick, but I'm learning other tricks at present and would rather someone suggest a shortcut. Despite this, I love my new bag! Can't wait to stuff it full, show it off, clean it easily or clip off the button and put it to another use if it gets grungy. Hooray! Sewing machine neglect CURED! Now to tape off those feed dogs and see how else I can catch up on the Quilt Along...

Catching Up

If all the days since August 28th were merged into one, I think they'd resemble the photo below: sunset, colors, forward motion down a Tennessee highway, vestiges of where I've been and who I am and the now and the new and the coming.

Kind of meta for a sewing blog, ay? It's been a journey.

And now I've got some catching-up to do. For starters, let's get a winner for my 100th post giveaway, shall we?

Mazl tov to free indeed! Once again winning a giveaway of mine. But honestly, ya'll, I didn't plan on this thing being big, so I'm going to send something to everyone who entered. Look for an email!

I haven't been completely idle. Some in-between times allowed me to hand-stitch my flyfoot block.

Unfortunately it is smaller than the originals. I'll be brainstorming a Plan B... later...

I did get my practice pad for the Free Motion Quilt-Along basted!

And I got my quilt basted, too!

Excited about the new skills I'll be learning, I agreed to make a T-shirt quilt for my cousin. She and her husband were Titans cheerleaders, and she handed me a bag of memories.

Eight white, three gray, two navy blue. Hmm... I'll be brainstorming a plan... later... :-)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thick Week

I miss my sewing machine and she misses me. I've got new duties at work that don't allow much time for sit-and-sewing. I did not forget that my giveaway deadline came and went. This past weekend was very thick, too. Little down time, lots of high-energy time. Let's get through this next weekend and we shall see what we shall see.

Thanks for your grace and patience!