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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rag quilt: cutting the squares

It is time to start cutting for the rag quilt!

For the smaller quilt you will need:
240 6.5-inch squares of fabric
120 5-inch squares of batting.
(Dexter is making sure the fabric is good to go too  :)  )



 For the large square quilt you will need:
          96 9-inch squares fabric.

          48 7.5-inch squares of batting

As you can see, I have chosen a variety of patterns for each of the quilts.  The larger square quilt includes regular cotton fabric and flannel.  I have chosen the complete the back of the quilt in the flannel and the front in regular cotton.  The smaller square quilt has all cotton squares.

For this step, the initial squares of fabric, does not need to be perfect.  They need to grossly be the aforementioned size.  Later in the project you will be trimming these squares down to the perfect size with your stencils (as noted in the first rag quilt tutorial post).

You can choose what ever kind of batting you like.  I have chosen low loft polyester style.

Happy cutting!  I am looking forward to working on this tutorial with you!  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Linking up to Let's Get Acquaited. Thanks for visiting!
Stay tuned to later in the week for the next installment on the rag quilt tutorial.

Friday, March 29, 2013

An Ambivalent Finish

I finished up my pixelated heart baby quilt this week. I'm still on the fence about putting in in the silent auction with the handprint quilt, but I think I'm just going to bite the bullet & do it. I know what it cost to make, & what I believe it to be worth, but when you put something in a market, its value becomes whatever some one is willing to pay for it, & that's just something I'll have to accept.
The difficulty in pricing anything handmade is, for me at least, the biggest part of the struggle in selling a quilt. People too frequently assume handmade = cheap, or because I'm a stay at home mom that my "free" time isn't valuable, so I always feel a twinge of insecurity when asked how much a quilt I've made cost to make, or would cost to buy. Do I value it at materials alone? How much is my time worth, exactly? It's a calculation I don't feel comfortable making. So far, when making things for friends & family, I always just sew for the cost of the materials. I'd be sewing something anyways, & if I charged a fair price for time & labor, I doubt anyone would want to pay for my as-yet-mediocre quilting skills. (Although I'm improving!)
Anyways, here it is, in all its imperfect glory:

In other news, I decided this was the perfect quilt to test out some free motion quilting, since I'm not terribly emotionally invested in this guy. It's the very first thing I've ever tried to FMQ. I went with loop-the-loops, since I figured that was the most forgiving design. Overall, as a first attempt I'm fairly pleased with the results. The stitch length got a bit wonky at times, & I *may* have overlapped lines once or twice,but I avoided any major disasters. I really enjoyed the process, & I will definetely be doing more, although for important projects I'll be sticking to straight lines or hand quilting for a while yet.

I think next time I'll quilt in the borders too. My husband convinced me to leave them plain in this one, & I'm not sure I like the effect. I didn't have a a yard of fabric I wanted to sacrifice for the back either, so I had to piece one.

It's a cute little quilt, I guess, & if I were keeping it for myself I'd probably be pretty pleased with it. Since my baby has outgrown baby quilts however, into the auction it goes, & I'll hope it makes good money for the preschool.
Linking up to Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Patchwork Insecurity

The silent auction for my twins' school is coming up in a couple weeks, & I had originally told the organizers that I'd give them a baby quilt in addition to the handprint quilt. I wasn't really feeling the project though & didn't make much progress on it until this week, when I whipped up this top.

The patchwork finished at only 30 inches. I've since added a 2" white border & plan to bind it in red, since I feel like it needs something to hold it all together. I'm feeling ambivalent about this little guy, & totally insecure about putting it in an auction. Most of what's in the auction so far is services, (a night out at local restaurants, a beer tasting, salon services, a family photography session), & I feel like my little quit might not draw any bidders & I would be super embarrassed if this sucker went through the auction without a single bid. Or sold for $20.
I know the point is to raise money for the school & I shouldn't worry about my quilting skills, but I can't help it- that's just the kind of nut I am. My plan is to finish the quilt & then see how I feel about it. I guess the worst that happens is I bring home a baby quilt & my pride takes a knock.
So that's where I am this Wednesday-- feeling insecure & linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.
p.s. Lisa is feeling much less ambivalent about our pending rag quilt project! Check it out here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It is just about rag quilt time :)

Get your scraps, or just buy cute fabric.  Time to make the rag quilt. 

Two options for square size, 9 inch or 6.5 inch.  Both will be listed
throughout the tutorial on how many you will need of each.  The smaller squares will just require a
little more sewing, as well, there are more squares  :)

Things you will need:

if doing the small squares.  The original size of the squares will be 6.5 inches.  You will need 240 6.5-inch squares . 
If doing the larger squares, which the original square size will be 9 inches.  You will need a total of 96 9-inch squares. For one of the quilts I will be doing I plan to have a flannel back and regular cotton top.  But the
other will have cotton on both sides.  So if you plan to split the fabric types per side just split the yardage needed between the two types.
Another note on fabric.  Feel free to raid your stash and make it scrappy.  I have completed all of my rag quilts with lots of colors.  Just makes me smile to see all the colors.

Stencil of a square in 6 inch or 8.5 inch.  You can make your own from cardboard (as I have done many times).  But keep in mind, when cutting with rotatory cutter, your square will probably shrink a little.

You can also get plastic ones sold at joanns/hancock,or other fabric places.

Or if you are handy, you can even cut your own out of plastic.

Finished Size
Quilt with small squares will be finished to be size of 57x47.5
and with the large squares of 58x43.5
these are approximates.

I know I have a ton of scrap batting laying around from various projects, and my wonderful mom.  So I usually resort to that.  If you don't have any laying around a twin size batting roll will be plenty.

And of course will need thread.  I always use white.  But you can choose any color you want.

Check in next week for instructions on cutting your squares.  Please contact me with any questions!  Can't wait to get started next weekend.

This is a great project for any level sewer.  This was the first thing I learned to sew.  And now I am hooked  :)

Linking up to The Complete Guide of Imperfect Homemaker and Do It Yourself Divas

***Please note, I updated the above numbers for starting size of smaller squares and the final size of the larger quilt.  Also, I had my math all wrong, and updated the correct number of squares.  If any further changes please I will let you know right away prior to Monday.  (I normally just do this quilt by the seat of my pants and do not figure out exact numbers and sizes.  So I am doing trial run of both this week.  Please be patient.  It will be worked out, including my math skills  :)  )

Napkins Napkins, Let's Make Some Napkins :)

As Kate mentioned, I have been on a napkin making frenzy, (and yes Kate,
some are headed your way this week!)

I decided while making them, to make 2 different types and various sizes.

Lets start with the first type I started with, a simple square hemmed out.

To start, I cut various sizes for my napkins, since I had no idea how large
I really wanted them to be.  Sizes are 10, 12 and 15 inches to start.  After
hemming they are all a little smaller by ~ 1 inch.

Next, I folding over two opposite edges (about 1/8-1/4 inch width) ironed it
down, and then folding it down again and ironed.  This way the edge not
exposed to fray as easily.  These sides were then pinned down, and then

Next I did the same to the other sides.

When I got the corners, I made sure to stitch around each corner to help
secure these edges as well.

This truly is a simple little napkin to make.  I chose some fun fabric to
add flair to each meal.

The second type of napkin I made actually is quicker to make then the above
because there is no hemming.

I took two pieces of equally sized fabric (here 12 inch squares) and matched
them up with the nice sides on the inside.

Next I stitched around all of the edges leaving ~2 inch opening on the last

Next I worked on turning the piece inside out using the hole made in the
last step so the nice sides of the fabric on are now facing out.

Luckily I have small enough fingers that I can grab each corner and pull all
the fabric out.  But if you don't, a chop stick, knitting needle, etc can
help accomplish this.

I then lined up the fabric at the hole with the edges folded in and stitched
along this to close it up. I tried to use the smallest seam I could as in an
attempt to hide this stitch.

And viola, another finished napkin.  I chose just simple cotton fabric for
these napkins.

Hope you look into using some scraps or just picking up some fun cheap
material to make your own napkins.

Thank you Laura Beth for the inspiration.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sewing Sunday

Last week was a big one for finishes, & this week is a big one for beginnings. I found 2 hours together to sew today (unheard of in my house!) & got to start some of my new projects.
I've finally started a giant x+ Star Wars quilt.

The finished blocks are 24 inches. I'm loving the death star peeking out in this one. When I showed it to Lisa, she thought it was a bit busy (totally true), but I figure if I'm making a Star Wars quilt, than darn it-- I'm making a STAR WARS QUILT! Anyways, it's started, for better or worse. (Sorry for the poor picture quality-- my linoleum laundry room isn't ideal, but it's all I had to work with today.)
I started a baby quilt too-- all 2.5 inch squares. I love simple patchwork. It's so peaceful to mindlessly sew straight lines sometimes.
Lisa has been sewing napkins like it's her job (& I think some are headed my way soon!) She'll be back tomorrow with a little tutorial on her napkin making method & since our next joint project is a rag quilt, she'll be posting our fabric requirements then too.
Have a great week! Go visit Miss Luella's for Plum and June's Let's Get Acquainted this week!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Taking a little break from Quilting...

Our focus is quilting, but it is good to branch out a little right??  Now I
am not going to do anything intense like sewing an outfit for my dog Dexter.

But perhaps making something I regularly use around the house to save a few
dollars down the road, now that I will do.

After talking to my good friend Laura Beth, I became inspired to make

I figure I use them daily, and with Steve around all the time, the paper
towels are going twice as fast.

So a trip to the fabric store was needed.  I wanted the fabric to fun, have
personality, and be a little more durable for the multiple washings it will
be going thru.

Once I got the fabric, I cut them into various size squares (small 10 inch,
medium 12 inch and large 15 inch) then set to hemming the sides.

And look at what I got, fun napkins to clean up with, and save the paper
towels and environment a little.  This project is super quick and easy.
Instant gratification.  And adds a little flair to every meal.  :)

Happy Saturday Everyone  :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Four Quilts in One Week... Whew!

This was a big week of finishes for us! It's always fun to (finally) wrap up a project that's been lingering in your sewing space, isn't it? It always seems that no matter how much I love a project, there comes a point (usually once I've started the actual quilting) that I just want it D.O.N.E. I do like the quilting part of making a quilt, but once the end is in sight, I just want to sew non-stop until I can throw it in the washer & wait anxiously for the finished product to come out of the dryer.
I got to the what-will-it-look-like-dance-in-front-of-the-dryer twice this week, for 3 quilts. First for my boys' birthday quilts, which I blogged about here.
I can't keep the baby off the quilts, sorry! Here's the back, (which I think my boys like better than the trucks in front. I used a Caleb Grey airplane print from Out & About, even though they originally requested all trucks. Funny how quickly the tastes of a 4 year old can change!)

I quilted both my twins' quilts with a borrowed & kind of janky waking foot, & I had some issues with the fabric puckering on the back. The front came out fine, thankfully, & my boys don't seem to care that there is a pinch or two visible on the backside.
Last but not least for me was this little cutie, which is going to be raffled off at a silent auction to support my little dudes' preschool. (The quilt, not the kid. We're keeping him!)

I worked with another mom on this one-- We collaborated on colors & hand prints, she did the piecing, & I did the back, the binding & the quilting, & embroidered the kids' names by their handprints. (All the non-glamorous, but essential, parts of making a quilt.) I'm really pleased with how it turned out, & I'm hoping it will raise a good chunk of money for the school. It's a Montessori-based co-op, which means that parents participate, both in the classroom & in fundraising, cleaning, and most anything else that needs doing. It's a great way to be involved & our whole family has really enjoyed our first year there.
Not to be left out, Lisa also finished this big lap-sized rag quilt she (& her boyfriend) made for her boyfriend's mom.

This was Steve's first try at making a quilt of any sort, & I think he did a pretty nice job! Besides, how cool is it to have a boyfriend embrace your sewing habit? The most I can get my husband to do is help with basting on occasion, & he squeaks when I ask him to do that. Although he did buy me a sewing machine, so he's not all bad. :)
Have a great weekend!
Linking up to Finish It Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

scraps...hmmm crazy quilt!!! :)

Scraps, scraps.  Always have leftover scraps.

Now what to do with them

I have decided to make a crazy quilt, or something like that.  Not sure if
that is the technical name of it, but it is the basic idea.  There is no
organized fashion to putting things together, except all pieces must be sewn
to another piece in some fashion or another.

I am using multiple different thread colors, well at least that is the plan.
As of right now, I have started with teal thread.  I have my machine set to
the zig-zag stitch (well it is the fanciest coolest one it does) and the
widest setting. I want the thread colors to enhance the quilt  :)

I have noticed most crazy quilts are completed in squares that are then sewn
together.  As I have been working on my piece, I think I know why; to make
sure it lays down flat.  As you can see below I have a couple of wrinkles.

But, alas, it is a crazy quilt, with no pattern.  So I have figured out how
I will fix this.

First, I will iron it flat.

Then cut in the middle at the crease of the folded over part.

Next I will just sew one side on top of the other in the normal crazy

And finally, will continue to just sew on random pieces.

This is my first attempt at craziness with quilting.  I will def be trying this again, but with the squares I have seen in other posts.

Stay posted for updates on my crazy quilt.

linking up to  here adventures of a flower child

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's (Almost) a WIP!

I wrapped up 3 (count them--THREE!) quilts this week, & I am super excited to start something new. I've had a pile of Star Wars fabric staring at me for about a year now. I leave it out in my sewing space (aka our kitchen) intentionally so I am confronted with it every day in hopes I'll finally figure out what to do with it. Novelty fabric are tough, especially large scale prints & character fabrics, because really-- who wants to slice up Darth Vader? I'm pretty sure that would cause some horrible disturbance in the force or something & I just don't want to be responsible for that!

So the stack of Star Wars prints has sat & languished. My kids pull it down pretty regularly & pet it, & pick out all their favs, & generally make me feel guilty for not making their quilt.
Fast forward to a few months ago when I saw this block keep popping up on Flickr.

Honestly, I didn't really dig it at first. Then, I saw this giant + and x version & I was intrigued, but not totally persuaded.
Last night around 3am however, while up with a fussy baby, I decided the giant version was the perfect vehicle for the crazy star wars prints & this morning I'm off & running! (Or I will be as soon as my kids go down for a nap!)
Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!
p.s. thanks to Rossie for doing all the math or a 24 inch block!! I really hate math :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Twin Birthday Quilts

Back in December I asked my oldest boys what they wanted on their new blankets & the answer was an overwhelming "TRUCKS, Mama!" These are just simple patchwork, but since most (ok, all) of my sewing is done is stolen moments & 15 minute snatches throughout the day, (not to mention my habit of starting 4 or 5 projects at once), I've been poking away at these since January. I finally finshed the binding yesterday & all that's left is to embroider their names. (I've found it's best to label anything I make/buy for a specific kid to prevent later property disputes.)

That's baby brother modeling the new quilts. He thinks every quilt finished is specially made for him!
I also found some time yesterday to cut these up:

Like every other quilter in the free world, I jumped on the scrappy trip bandwagon this winter. I loved the pattern & the process for the scrappy trips, & decided to make Christmas versions for my aunts. I have 7 aunts to sew for, so Lisa suggested I aim for one quilt a month & that's my goal. (Yes, I could have used the time spent cutting to embroider my sons' quilts, but my quilting ADD wouldn't let me work on one project.)
Finally, just because Let's Get Acquainted is about pets this week, here's a gratuitous shot of Felon, one of our 3 feline babies. (We also have 2 parrots & assorted fish.)

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Getting my start- guess it was meant to be

A little over a year ago, I moved from middle of no where Virginia to an area bustling with 1million plus people Virginia.  It has been a nice change, and an area that fits my personality a lot better.  (But I do miss the beauty of the mountains, the quietness of rural Virginia, and most importantly, my friends there).  But it has been a good move, great career, more stuff to do, and met an awesome guy  :)

For some reason after I moved, I thought sewing would be a great idea.  Mentioned this to my friend casually, only to learn she had a sewing machine she never used and wanted it to have a good home.  So in a matter of a couple of weeks of looking into sewing and researching about sewing machines, I had a sewing machine.  It is a great little starter machine.  The brand is no longer made, but it is similar to a Singer, so finding parts is still quite easy.

So I have a machine, bought some fabric, and just went to town making squares that eventually become a rag quilt.

That was easy enough I decided, and just kept sewing.  My wonderful step mom learned I was sewing and took advantage of this, to help clean up her collection of sewing material.  So thanks to her, I have a wonderful starter stash of fabric for almost anything I can imagine.  And since I have a little bit of OCD, I decided to use a spare dresser to help store and organize my fabric. (And yes, Kate is jealous of my dresser of fabric).

Unfortunately, I enjoy shopping for fabric and finding a good sale, this dresser is quickly being outgrown.  But with all the future projects Kate and I have, I have a feeling all this wonderful fabric will be going to good use.

And on a side note, I am looking into finding a place more permanent to live (instead of a rental) and cannot wait to have a whole area really dedicated to sewing that is maximally organized for this as well  :)  There will be pics of this too in the future  :)

Happy St. Patty's day!! I'm linking up to Meet My Machine over at the Tilted Quilt!


Friday, March 15, 2013

A (small) Friday Finish

I've been quilting like crazy the past few days with a borrowed walking foot, & alas, NONE of the 3 quilts I desperately need to get done are finished. Can you hear me sigh from there? Sick kids, a second story remodel & a serious lack of sleep have combined to stall my plans. Never fear however-- I have twin boys turning 4 next week & come hell or high water their birthday quilts WILL be done!
I did wrap up this little guy though.

I think I might like the back better than the front.

It's a 36" square, intended as little baby play mat. I've had the pieces cut from way back in my hand sewing days, & used some leftover monaluna I had from making a friend's baby quilt last year.

Linking up to Can I Get A Whoop Whoop! & Finish It Up Friday.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finished Swoon, my first experience with triangles

Yup, Kate got me trying something other than squares and rectangles.  Triangles really are not that bad, it just got a little tedious at times.  But I agree with Kate, the end result is def worth it.  

 Front of the swoon.  Yes, I love these colors.  So happy and go lucky.  Also, it is scrappy.  Lots of cute patterns that you just can't help but smile when you see them.
The back is finished in flannel.  Adding the flannel def added a lot of warmth to the blanket.

So would I do it again.  YUP!!  :)

The link

Rag quilt intro

As Kate mentioned previously, I love my rag quilts.  They are the first thing I learned how to sew on my machine, and continue to be my go to when I need to make a quick quilt.  Probably one of the best parts is the more you wash the quilt, the better it looks.  :)
When provided enough time, and am not sidetracked with other things, 1 rag quilt can easily be completed in a week.  But when I teach Kate how to make this quilt, we will take a little bit longer to complete.
Below (I hope) are some examples of the quilts I have made.  Please forgive me for any mistakes, this is the first time ever I have blogged.
This is the first one I made.  Yea, it has multiple different stitch types throughout it, because well, the machine had different stitch types.  I had to try them all.  :)  And no, reading the instruction manual was not the ideal option for me.
 Another rag quilt I completed.  This one I hear spends time helping my friend study law.
And this one to the wonderful friend who gave me my sewing machine  :)
and for some variation, I tried random width rows in rag style.  I hear this one is cuddled up with frequently.

These are a few of the ones I have completed.  I have many more planned in the near future, and can't wait to try some variations.

Stay tuned to the end of the month, for instructions, lead by moi.  :)

FYI  the site I learned how to sew with the tutorial at imperfect homemaking linked below.

thank you imperfecthomemaking  :)