Saturday, June 29, 2024

Finished or Not Friday: A New Tote and a Wall Hanging UFO Finish

I had to do some late Friday finishing so am a little late joining in with Quilty Girl Alycia for some "Finished or Not Friday" review! 

First off, a new project:  I made another tool tote for travel sewing:  I present my Catch-All Cutie II:

In 2021, I made my first “Catch-All Cutie” for my entry in a blogging challenge on the topic of “Zippered Accessories”.  

I love this pattern and its instructions are straightforward although not intuitive – it's best to just follow them verbatim step by step and in the end is actually very easy to make.  I added a twist to it in the form of a little container with a stuffed pincushion top to hold clips and pins which was inspired by a similar gift made and given to me by my MIL.  

This little tote is ingenious and indispensable when I travel with a sewing machine. I had made the original bag out of a "sewing themed" line of fabrics from a bundle that I had in stash.  With Red, Yellow and Aqua accents, it went well enough with the Red tote bag I had made for my Featherweight.  I made a point of putting Aqua and Yellow tools in it to coordinate.  It holds all the basic working tools you need when sewing while away.  Even better, when I fold down the sides, the inside pockets hold all the tools neatly and are easy to grab and put back as you sew.  Did I mention I love this bag?!?

So when when I purchased a new Juki machine last year and wanted to take it down to my MIL's, I also purchased a bag to transport it in.  I wound up getting an aqua colored one and admit I was thrilled my little “Cutie” coordinated with it too.  

However, eventually I found that I didn't like that if I alternated between which machine I carried, I had to make sure I moved the “Cutie” to that bag before traveling.  I have always held to the practice that with the exception of my house keys and ID, if I needed a specific thing/tool/item in more than one bag, I prefer to have multiples of that item and stock each bag I use them in with their own supply.  It only took about three trips (especially one where I started out with the plan to take the Featherweight but then switched and decided to take the Juki) to realize that I'd really like another “Cutie” – this time designed specifically for the Featherweight's tote.  

So I looked around for fabric to do just that.  I would have loved to get more of the Robert Kaufman Singer-themed fabric but that line had gone out of stock years ago.  I had a few scraps left though and knew just where in a new bag I could incorporate them if I could find other fabrics to coordinate with it.  

I lucked up on that when I saw prints from the “She Who Sews” line by J. Wecker Frisch in an Etsy shop one day.  There were Black and White and Red and White sewing themed prints with an “old-timey” look which was perfect for my needs.  I checked the fabric requirements in the pattern and saw that I only needed about a half yard of each to make the bag.  Sweet!  

Eventually I also caught both red and black Lori Holt zippers that were long enough for use on the exterior and interior on sale at Sentimental Stitches.  Later, the same vendor offered a beautiful pair of small black embroidery scissors with gold sunflower motifs on the handles.  The product description said how they reminded one of a Featherweight machine!  I agreed and even though they were on the pricey side, I ordered them anyway to add to the tools for the new bag.  

With an upcoming trip that I planned to take my Featherweight along with me, I got this new bag underway appropriately enough on “National Sewing Machine Day”.  Once again the instructions were straightforward although I had overlooked one important thing when I made the bag the first time:  the instructions do say that using directional fabrics is not recommended!  That had not been a factor for the fabrics used in the first bag but of course both of the fabrics I had purchased this time as well as my Singer scraps were just that, LOL!  

To add to the complications,  I wanted to feature certain motifs from the cover fabric on the sides of the bag.  Had I purchased a yard of each fabric it would have made it easier to finagle.  Fortunately, I was able to figure out how to make it all work by adding an additional seam at the bottom of the bag and get it made up for the trip.  Here it is in action:

I also ordered more tools to coordinate with this bag and they came in on Friday so now it is fully outfitted and ready for the next trip! 

Now for the UFO:  Americana Lone Star

As often happens, I decided to make this one to fill a need:     

I like to hang Red, White and Blue quilts during the summer or as I call it "the Patriotic Season" from Memorial Day until Labor Day which also includes July 4th.  The wall at the top of our entry stairs is one of my prime display spaces and I had finished the "Hometown USA" wall hanging seen above for it back in 2022.  In the past when I have hung quilts in this spot, I have also made companion wall hangings for the smaller space on the wall next to it like these: 

Pioneer Sampler and Honoring the Journeys

When I put up "Hometown" in 2022,  I had decided it was time to make a companion.  I started by looking through one of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine's compilations for "Patriotic Patterns".  Well it didn't take long to find one I had downloaded years ago and had always wanted to make.  

This was a goodie in that I was more than happy to follow the pattern cues for colors and was pretty sure I had fabrics in my RWB stash to execute it.  Even better, making a Lone Star quilt had always been on my quilt "Bucket List" and even though I have "fabric funded" a few projects, I hadn't made one yet.  

It did not take long to compile a project stash but a read of the pattern presented a new problem:  the pattern was designed to make a wall hanging that finished at 43 inches square but for my space I needed one of about 25 inches.  I figured out that if I made it using smaller blocks (6 inch Leymoyne Star corner blocks rather than the patterned 10 inch), it should fit my space.  However, I wasn't sure what size strips to use to piece the center Lone Star.  I had some estimates but not enough in my project stash to run a test.  

Fortunately at the time I was also embarking on another project that used Shot Cottons and since I had a big stash of those, I tested my block size theories using that stash.  The good news there is that not only did I get that done but I used the test block in the backing for that other project which at the moment is still awaiting quilting:

Strip size settled (1-1/2”), and after strip piecing the first star points I then realized I had to replace with fussy cuts the diamonds of the stripe fabric I wanted to use in the star point tips.  This was the only way to have the stripe run pointing into the tip the way I wanted.  For the Lemoyne Star corner blocks, I used my trusty Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler and Deb Tucker's techniques to make the 6 inch finished blocks needed.  

Once the top was finished it sat for the usual reason:  how do I want to quilt this?  Then it continued to sit until now for the other usual reason: the season passed and other projects became a priority.  So much for an “I can make this up quick” project!  This year however, when the RWB quilts went out on display again, I decided I really wanted to get this done.  Even better, looking at the top with fresh eyes, I also immediately came up with a very simple quilting plan.

Right before we were due to go on a camping trip for my DH's vacation two weeks ago, I figured I would try to get this layered so I could quilt it as soon as we got back.  To that end, before leaving on our trip, I had hoped to try a new basting technique:  

My MIL had seen some videos on glue basting, tried one of them and liked the results.  While I have done it for bindings, I've never tried it for a whole quilt.  Before we left, I had set up to try to get it done but found that the containers of glue I had on hand wouldn't dispense!  I picked up some new ones and once back did get the basting done.  My opinion:  the method does work but just like when using it for basting a binding, it is important to use a light hand with the glue:  you want thin lines or small dots not glops and slathers!  

I will also note that like so many I've seen described, my center Lone Star block was not exactly “flat” and bubbled a bit in spots.  The condition was helped a bit by giving it a good press.  I also decided to "double batt" it when I layered it.  I was hoping to further minimize how much of the puffiness I would have to try to “quilt out” later.

And yes, these are Franken-batts!

I also had to change machines:  I started quilting this on my vintage Singer 401 because that was what was in the sewing table and I had recently worked on another project that needed its zigzag capabilities.  However, while it started out okay, I started getting a lot thread breakage and I have found that after awhile the walking foot on that machine starts to jam up.  So change of personnel:  I swapped my Juki into the table and got it done!  I was even able to use the new add-on guide unit for the walking foot for that machine.  Good thing I had finally caved and purchased it about a month ago.

So now it's done!

Bound with more of the outer border fabric and up on the wall!

So now the side display space is filled with a permanent entry for when I decorate for this season each year!   Hmm, I had to take the other frame I normally hang there down but me thinks I need to find a little seasonal sign to add under it.  If I don't find one, that need might wind up generating a new cross stitch project, LOL!

That will be it for finishes this month but as always there's a lot on the table for July so hopefully there will be more then.  Now I'm headed back over to Quilty Girl Alycia's to see what everyone else has been up to for "Finished Or Not Friday" this week.  Won't you join me there?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

In Honor of National Sewing Machine Day

 As always a lot going on in the studio this week.  I was pleased to find out that today is National Sewing Machine Day.  

We quilters all appreciate how much the sewing machine contributes to our quilty crafting.  In my last post I had talked about wanting to switch over to my Juki machine but as of right now my Singer 401 is still in my sewing cabinet and the project it had been hard at work on was this one:

I had hoped to have finished these but I hit a snag.  I've put the project in time out for a while and then will try to take another stab at it.

In the meantime, a new project has been started:  

These are blocks for "Apple Crisp", a design that originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine and is now available free on their website.  

When I started quilting, "background fabrics" for me were almost always light to dark tans because I worked with a lot of shaded fabrics and Civil War reproductions.  However in recent years as I've embraced more fabrics in the brighter modern palette, I have expanded my use of backgrounds to include more whites and white-based "low volume" prints.  

In the process, the darker tans had been languishing but when I saw this lovely project on the APQ website a few years back, I loved its Fall vibe and thought it a perfect way to cull some of the darker tans from my background stash.  Although I had pulled together the group of tans for it a good while ago, the big push to start it now has to do with an upcoming event. 

 Angela Walters is getting ready to do another of her "Free Motion Quilting Challenge Alongs " this time with the theme of "How Do I Quilt It?".  She will be covering stitching designs on Chevron, Log Cabin, Curved and Snowball blocks.  I have a top ready for the Log Cabin session and realized that this was the perfect time to get "Crisp" started since half of the blocks for it are Snowball blocks.

According to the Challenge schedule, Angela will start showing designs for stitching Snowball blocks on July 16th.  If I can stick to a schedule of stitching "Daily Blocks",  I could have the top ready for quilting by then.  I really look forward to seeing what ideas she has that I might be able to use to quilt this one up quick!

However, having made a schedule for daily stitching I did have one issue:  we are going on vacation next week.  In order to stick to the schedule, that means I'll need to take my stitching with me.  Fortunately that's not a problem as I've already put my trusty Featherweight with the travel stuff:

When I took my Juki on my last two travel trips,  I realized something:  the "Catch-All Cutie" I had made a few years ago and love to bring as part of my "sewing machine travel kit" was colored perfectly to go with the Tutto bag I had purchased for toting my Juki machine.  

Rather than having to move that tote between the two travel bags, I thought about making another one that I can leave in my Featherweight tote bag.  I saw some cute "old-timey" fabric on Etsy and knew I still had a little of the "Singer" fabric leftover from making the Featherweight tote bag:

All of this would be perfect for a new "Cutie"!  Recently I also saw that Gaye at Sentimental Stiches had a pair of scissors that I thought went perfectly with my Featherweight so purchased those too (in the lower left) to go in the new "Cutie" bag.  When we get back, I plan to order one of the Lori Holt Red Olfa Splash rotary cutters to add to it as well.  

So as of right now I've cut all the parts out (although still debating between the handle choices on the lower left) and hope I  can get it made up before we leave on Sunday.      

Because it's that time of the year, the Red, White and Blue quilts have gone up for the "Patriotic Season" (May to September) so I also hope to get back to work on these in the coming weeks:

Two years ago, I got as far as quilting the front and back panels for a cover for a pillow for my living room chair so hopefully this year I can assemble and finally finish it.  I also pieced a Lone Star wall hanging that year but could not decide how to quilt it.  

Looking at a picture of it recently,  I suddenly realized exactly how I want to do that.  When we get back, I'm going to try layering it using a glue basting method from You Tube that my MIL has tried and says works great.  If it works for me too, I can get that quilted and hung up --- hopefully by month's end! 

One of the things that had attracted me to quilting was finding out that all of the construction of a quilt  can be done completely by machine.  Having grown up in the days of Home Ec training in school, I was excited to find a new use for a sewing machine.  Over twenty years on, it is still a thrill to put the "pedal to the metal" and get a quilt out of it, LOL!!  I hope you are having an enjoyable time working with your machine today and if not, pull it out and take it for a celebratory spin!