Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Monday, June 30, 2014

Quilt Label Brilliance

I know I tend to rhapsodize about the West Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild, but here is reason number one zillion and two for why it's great to belong to a guild. A couple of months ago we were talking about quilt labels and I mentioned that I buy special ink jet printer fabric on rolls. I can cut the fabric to size and because it has a paper backing attached to keep it firm enough, I can run it right through my printer to make labels. The only problem is that it comes in one color – white.

One of my guild mates piped up and said that she didn't bother with special paper. She prints right on a scrap of the fabric from her quilt. How does that work you ask? Perfectly.

Just start with a scrap of fabric - in my case 8 ½ inches wide by 4 inches tall.

Spray the back of the fabric with some spray adhesive. I use OdifUsa 505 brand. Make sure to place the fabric on a scrap of paper so that you don’t end up with over-spray on your table or cutting mat.

Affix the fabric to a piece of regular computer paper, and trim to the proper size.

Now use whatever application you prefer to design your label. I use Microsoft PowerPoint, but as long as you can position the text and print, it really doesn't matter what you use.

Once your label is printed, let it dry completely (about fifteen minutes), then use a dry iron to heat set the ink.

Peel the computer paper off the back of your label, fold the edges under and give it a good press, and you are ready to stitch it onto the back of your quilt.

Brilliant right? And I never would have known to try this if I didn't belong to a guild with talented and clever quilters!

I also made the label for my Michael Miller challenge quilt but you will just have to wait until I can get some decent pictures to see more of that. 

Until next time, happy stitching!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pouch Crazy

Last week I wrote about the pouch I made for my sewing buddy. Well it didn't end there.
I made a three pocket pouch for my grandniece for her birthday. 
See... three lined pockets with matching zippers. I followed this tutorial with a few modifications.  I don't usually sew from other people's patterns as I like the design component so much. However, I learned some really neat tricks working with that pattern, which I was able to incorporate into the pouch for the guild swap.
And as my reward, I received this adorable thank you note. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to know that there are still kids who write thank you notes.
I had no sooner sent this pouch off and received the sweet note when my guild announced - you guessed it - a pouch swap. Because it was for someone in my guild, I wanted to make something original, so I went to the drawing board.
First I tried to think about a type of pouch that I would really use, and hope I've hit on something others will appreciate. 
Here in Atlanta it is festival season. Every neighborhood has their own festival to raise money for parks, and other improvements that taxes just can't cover. Ours is called Summerfest. Typically a festival is held on Saturday and Sunday and kicks off with a parade and road race in the morning. Key streets in the neighborhood are closed off to set up an artist market, food trucks, a stage for bands, beer sales, and did I mention an artist market? You get the picture. Me wandering around listening to music, sipping a beer, and needing a place to keep cash, ID, and a credit card - 'cause did I mention the artist market? 
Based on that need, I came up with this idea for a zippered pouch with a very long strap so it could be worn cross body.
As you can see, I used English paper piecing to make a fabric piece about
nine inches wide by 20 inches tall. The finished bag is closer to eight by nine. 
There it is all pieced with the papers still attached to the back. You can see that I used two different shades of orange combined with some gray scraps all left over from another project. The fabric shown here is from the Spot On and Metro Living collections from Robert Kaufman, and they differentiate the colors as orange and tangerine.
After I removed the paper templates, I fused a lightweight piece of interfacing to the back of the fabric to give it a bit more body and stability - I don't honestly trust my hand stitching all that well, but fusibles can fix anything.
Next I squared up the fabric, 
and cut it in half. 
Fortunately I had purchased a bulk package of YKK zippers a couple of months ago, so matching zippers were in my stash. You can see with this photo where this is headed.
I love this neat technique found in the triple zipper pouch tutorial for finishing the zipper ends. 

And I was able to line each pocket (one shallow pocket on each side and a large full sized pocket down the middle) with more Spot On (snow on white). The instructions for how to insert the zippers and line the pouch pockets in one fell swoop are included in the tutorial from Debbie at A Quilter's Table mentioned above. And yes, Debbie is a much more prolific quilter and blogger than me. Hats off to that, and to her awesome quilts.
The exchange happens on Thursday, so I really hope whoever gets this one likes it. And I have full plans to make another for myself. I'm noodling with using up some prized selvage strips for mine instead of the hand sewn hexies. What do you think?

Until next time!
Kay Stephenson for Stitching Times

Friday, June 13, 2014

Everyday Inspiration

The West Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild has hosted some of the best swaps and challenges in the past year and a half that we have been in existence, but I think the recent "Everyday Inspiration" is my favorite so far. Our President, Robyn Webb, challenged us to take pictures of things we see in our everyday life, and then to select one and create a quilt that is inspired by the photo.
As with most assignments, I chose not to completely follow directions. On a recent trip to San Francisco, I toured Heath Ceramics in Sausalito with family and friends. Even the historic factory design by Marquis and Stoller in 1959 is inspiring. Read more about that here.
But I was most taken with glaze samples that I saw hanging on the walls. The image immediately put me in mind of all the Kaffe Fassett shot cottons I had sitting in my stash - some dark, some light, and some just that shade of gold. I knew before we left the place that this image would somehow figure in my entry for the challenge.
Later that same day we were in Berkeley and stopped in a restaurant called Eureka, (which I am determined to call Bang because of their signage). When I saw that sign facing me as I sat down, I loved it! For those that aren't in the know, this is an exclamation mark, or exclamation point, but for printers and programmers, it is commonly referred to as the "bang". 
Not to stray too far afield, but the symbol was thought to derive from medieval copyists who used to write the Latin word io at the end of a sentence to indicate joy! what a perfect summation for what had been a perfect day in the bay area.
So I didn't choose just one photo for inspiration, but two. However, I didn't noodle on those images for long after we returned to Atlanta because we left a few days later for a week at the beach. I needed a hand project for the car ride and this was it! I printed out two inch squares on freezer paper, grabbed fabric and scissors and off we went. I never would have thought to make this sort of straight-forward grid using English paper piecing, but it worked out great. In the past when I've tried to work with the Kaffe Fassett shot cottons, I've found them to be a stretchy pain, but there was none of that with this method. 
I did have a bit of a fit with the big gold bang, as it wanted to move around quite a bit, and I wanted to do some thread painting prior to quilting. I compromised by spray basting it to the background and then stitching all around the raw edge to start. given the barn wood decor of the restaurant and the sign, I wanted to let the edges ravel and be a bit more rustic. For quilting I decided to use straight-forward stitch-in-the-ditch to make the "tiles" pop. 
This was a truly fun challenge that had our members stretching to try things they had not done before - like designing their own piece and working without a pattern. Check out some more of our finishes here, and consider a similar challenge for your guild in the future.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sewing Buddies Pouch Swap

Sewing Buddies is a program put together by Deborah Moebes over at Whipstitch which I've watched for a couple of years, but finally decided to join for 2014. She describes it as, "a fun opportunity to meet other folks who love sewing.  That’s it, in a nutshell.  I hope you’ll find that the videos, challenges, giveaways and other fun stuff that comes along as 2014 unfolds adds to that for you, but at the core, the Sewing Buddy Project is about making this virtual sewing community immediate and tangible for each of us, by giving us a friend to share ideas, make nerdy sewing jokes, challenge us to keep our goals, and to grow our sewing with."

One of the challenges this year was to make your buddy a pouch. My buddy needed a pouch for her iPhone, and she asked for, "one with a zipper. That would be really useful. And maybe the pouch could have an inside pocket for the ear buds. I like most colors but prefer that it not be pink - pink has never been a favorite. When you choose the fabric, think "fullness of color" ...I like color, color, color! (I think that is why pastels are not my favorite.)

I think I nailed it with this fabric. Nothing pastel here :-) The fabric is called Effervescence and is by Amelia Caruso for Robert Kaufman. It was screen printed in Japan with 15 different colors. 
The pattern runs the full width of the fabric with an awesome border that I thought would look great for a skirt or dress hemline. I've no idea where or when I bought this, but it's been in my stash for awhile, and I was happy to use a bit of it for this gift. 
As requested, the pouch has a zipper
and a little internal pocket for ear buds. I sort of used this pattern, with some modifications.

This was a fun swap and project, though I've got to say that if I was making this pattern again, I would rework it so I didn't have to put the zipper in by hand. That was a serious pain, and I wasn't happy with how messy the stitching looked. Ah well. "Tomorrow is another day"...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Remember that DIY Bath Remodel

I realized today that I never posted any finished pictures of my do-it-yourself bath remodel. I mentioned it nearly a year ago way down at the bottom of this post.

The photo on the left shows the room at it's very best... blah even at Christmas, and what were they thinking with that honking big sink in such a tiny room? At the time of my post last year, it looked like the photo on the right. I had pulled up the 1980's marble floor tiles and (as expected) found wonderful 1930's hex tiles underneath.
And then I started pulling tile off the walls. Oops. Guess I'm not going to be slapping new tile up over that backing. 
So I hired a handyman to help me with the wall board and a bit of carpentry.
While he was working on that, I decided I needed to strip 80 plus years of paint off the doors and door hardware. That old crock-pot works great to get the paint to loosen up from the nickle plated brass hinges and door knobs. Just put the metal pieces in the crock-pot with warm water and a bit of dish soap. Turn it on low and let it "cook" for several hours. The paint softens up and slides right off.  
Once the handyman was done I added some glass tile for a back splash, and painted the walls a bright sunny yellow.
The whole color scheme was worked around this fabric I fell in love with and had to have for a shower curtain. Designed by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery, it is from the Retro-Spective line described as "bringing you back in time, ...features designs from the 40's with the original colors of that period". 
I thought the yellow was a little too mustardy for the walls, so went with a shade more like lemon pudding. 
Now that I have lived with it for several months, I must say I don't love it. Kind of wish I had chosen something a little more
And I may get around to painting in there again this summer. Fortunately it's not a big space to paint.
I do love this cute little basket I made out of fabric scraps. It's all wrapped - not a bit of stitching. 
And the work to strip the doors was probably worth it. Of course there is no telling how many brain cells the chemicals and lead paint killed off.
This was my real nemesis. Don't let anyone tell you it's easy to drill through ceramic tile. Even with a great drill and the correct bit, it took hours. Never again.

But I adore the top down/bottom up shade. It is just the color of the tile and lets in lots of light, and a view of the trees and sky, without letting anyone peer in. All in all I'm happy with the project, and would definitely DIY again with some handyman help.