I'm so glad you decided to join me on my blog. I'll offer product tips, techniques and information. You'll also see the more personal side of our business. I hope you'll enjoy following us on this new journey. Carol

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Make Your Own Design Wall

I finally got around to making a Design Wall for my studio. We moved almost a year ago and I didn't realize how much I depended on one until I didn't have one.

My studio is very small.  I had to come up with a solution that would give me the maximum amount of space. The room is 11' x 10'. By the time I put a Cutting Table, Ironing Board and my Sewing Machine in there, that doesn't leave much room for anything else. I know I'm spoiled because every room I've worked in before this has been much larger and many people work in a much smaller space.

I found a couple YouTube videos about how to make a design wall and used a little bit from each to make mine. One of the videos showed using duct tape to make a design wall that hinged. I knew I wouldn't have room to swing the wall out on a hinge so I decided that I'd make 2 of them but keep them separate.

I purchased 2 sheets of Insulation Board. They are 8' tall and 4' wide. My ceiling is 8' so they just fit in the room. It was tricky getting them through the doorway and standing them up to see how they would work out.

The only place I had to work on this project was my living room floor. Here's a picture of one sheet on its side and the other sheet is on the floor.

I decided that since it was so hard to get the board through the door and to stand it up, I would take 12" off the length. I don't make that many huge quilts. I'd have to stand on a ladder to reach the top if it was 8' tall and I can probably reach almost to the top of a 7' one if I stand on a step stool. We'll see if someday I regret that decision but for right now, I'm fine with it.

I used a ballpoint pen to mark so it scored the line. Then I used my acrylic ruler and a razor knife to cut on that line. I had to make a couple passes because the insulation board is 5/8" thick.

The front and back of the board was covered with a layer of plastic which I peeled off.

I chose the plain side as the "right" side of my Design Wall. I put that side face up on the floor. I used batting to cover it. I had quite a bit on a roll so that was the least expensive way for me to do it. I didn't have to buy something to cover it. You could also use flannel. The down side to flannel is that it typically is 32" - 40" wide which means you would need to piece it to make it fit on a 4' piece of Insulation Board. 

I started by just laying the batting over the top and roughly centered it. It doesn't have to be exactly in the center because you are going to wrap it onto the back and no one will ever know whether it was centered or not. The way I did it you probably won't even remember which side was longer, even if you were to look on the back when it's all finished.

This was the time consuming and hard part. I smoothed out the batting. This involved crawling around on the tile floor on my hands and knees. I started on one end and smoothed it out. I pinned the batting into the side of the Insulation Board with straight pins.

 I worked my way all the way around smoothing it out and pinning it as I went along.

 I will say that on the first one I did I didn't pull the batting as tight as I could have. I made it much tighter when I covered the second one.

Once it was pinned all the way around I flipped it over so I could work on the back. I pulled the batting around to the back and pinned it in place. 

I worked my way all the way around and pinned an inch or two in from the raw edges. I folded and mitered the corners.

I roughly trimmed the batting all the way around. On some sides it was a lot wider. This probably wasn't a necessary step. It is the back and no one is going to see it. But I felt that I needed to do it so I did.

Then I started taping the back. I used duct tape. I had some on hand and felt that it would be stronger and less expensive to use than shipping tape, which I also had on hand. I knew that blue painter's tape which I also had wouldn't work. It wouldn't be permanent. I cut small pieces and put them every few inches all the way around, removing the pins as I went along.

After I went all the way around with the short pieces I did really long ones to make sure it was very secure.

Voila! Flip it over and the Design Wall was completed. The first one took about an hour and a half to do. I did the second one in a little over an hour. This picture shows the finished one in front of the second piece of Insulation Board which hasn't been trimmed yet.

I put them in my room with the cut edge at the top. I figured it was rougher and might not be as straight on the floor. I keep them one in front of the other off to one side when I'm laying out a small project. 

For a larger one I just slide the top one over to the left, line them up in the middle and I have one large Design Wall. Here's a picture of a project up on the wall.

Watch for another blog post soon about why it is a good idea to have a Design Wall. It is actually related to the project you see in this picture. 

Until then, Happy Sewing and Quilting,


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Frozen Outfits Part 3

I have started on the Princess Anna dress. There is a lot of fusible applique in this project. The challenge will be placing the pieces in the skirt correctly since the fabric is so dark. Here are the pieces all cut out. The angle is weird - sorry about that.

I am pleased with how it's coming along. I realized that I should have bought a black zipper, instead of a blue one. I also got an invisible zipper because it was all I could find at the time in the blue. However, I don't think that is a good option for a little girl's "play" dress. So I'm at a stopping point until I get a new zipper. Here's what I've done so far.

That's all for now. Check back for more updates.

Happy Sewing,

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Frozen Dresses Part 2

I decided to start with Anna's cape. I thought it would be a good way to ease into both of these projects. If she wants to Tristyn can wear the cape by itself.

I was right. It was a very easy project. I did the whole thing in an afternoon.

Here are the pieces all cut out and ready to sew.

The pattern called for ball fringe to put around the cape overlay. I couldn't find a ball fringe that went with the fabrics. But I did find this cute trim. It looked like it might be hard to sew in place so I decided to apply some fusible web to the back to help it stick to the fabric.

The project has several pieces that are fused to the cape fabric. Since most of the fabrics are felt I wasn't worried that they would fray. However, since it is for a little girl who loves to wear all of her princess dresses, I think it will probably get washed. So I decided to just do a straight stitch close to the edge of those pieces. I also decided to do a straight line of stitching on each side of the fusible on the trim after I fused it in place.

I'm happy with how the cape turned out. 

Next comes the dress. It will be at least a few days before I have a chance to get to that. Until I get an electrician into my studio to get some canned lights I can only work during the day. And life will be getting in the way of play during the day for the rest of the week.

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Frozen Dresses Part 1

My three year old granddaughter loves the movie Frozen and just about everything Frozen like so many other little girls. I saw this pattern at Jo-Ann Fabrics about a month ago. 

I sent a picture to my daughter and asked her if Tristyn would like one of these dresses. She told me that she'd love it. When I asked which one she'd like she said I don't know because she loves both characters the same. Some days she wears her hair like Queen Elsa and other days it is Princess Anna. So I guess I need to make both.

I bought the fabric a couple weeks ago for both dresses. I wanted to measure Tristyn before cutting into the fabric. I started playing with the pattern pieces. I divided them up so the Anna ones were in one bag with that fabric and the Elsa fabrics and pieces were all together. I started working on the applique pieces for the Elsa dress thinking Tristyn would pick that one first.

They came over on Saturday night and I showed Tristyn the pattern and the fabrics. I told her I needed to measure her so I could make them. Then she had to measure me too. Very cute the way she did it. Then she announced that she wanted the Anna dress, preferably right that moment.

As I've had time for the last couple days I've been cutting out the pieces for Anna's Dress and Cape. Today is the day I start working on them. I'm trying to decide if I want to start with the cape or the dress. I'm sure the cape will be easiest. I guess I'll decide once I get in  my studio and take a closer look at things.

Stay tuned to watch my progress. Wish me luck.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gracin's Angel

I love making these little Guardian Angels from Bird Brain Designs. In the past I have stitched out the designs, most of the time with Turkey Red Perle Cotton.

I wanted to make another one for my grandson, Gracin for his dedication day at church. However, I am having difficulties with my right hand so stitching is out of the question right now. I have turned other stitching designs into applique projects before. You can read the blog posts about them here and here. So I decided to make a machine applique angel for him. 

All of the angels looked like girls to me so I did a little adjusting to the pattern. Here is a picture of the original angel I chose and how I adapted it to look more like a boy. It also shows the fabrics I used. I have been saving jeans for years. I chose a pair of my husband's to use for the overalls. I thought that would give even more special meaning to the piece.

I traced the pattern pieces onto fusible web. I traced the entire shape of the body rather than breaking it down into smaller pieces. I actually ended up tracing a second body piece so I had one for the front of the angel and one for the back. Even though I could have used the circle from the body piece as the head, I decided to trace just the circle portion of it onto the fusible web for the face.

I then fused all of the pieces onto the appropriate fabrics. Here are all of the pieces cut and ready to assemble. The wings are cut from a small scrap of batting.

I positioned the wings where I wanted them on top of the back. I like to use an applique pressing sheet when I do fusible applique. You can see a good example of this in this blog post. I assembled all of the pieces for the front of the angel onto the pressing sheet. Then I put that whole piece on top of the back and batting and fused it together.

I used a blanket stitch to stitch around all of the fabric pieces. This is my favorite setting for this because the bite is relatively small. With tiny pieces I don't like the stitch to come in too far into the shape.

I free hand, free motioned a heart onto one side of the wings. It is really hard to get the batting stabilized enough to do that. I don't love the heart but he won't care.

I wrote a poem I found appropriate for the dedication inside a card. Then I wrote a little message to him on the back of the angel. Here's what he looks like all finished. I think he's pretty cute.

Happy Sewing, Stitching and Creating,


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Road to California Quilt Show

I was lucky enough to help my friends Bruce and Diane Magidson in their booth at Road to California in January. They started their business, Sew Batik, about the same time we started. So we have traveled to the same shows for years. I LOVE their fabric. It was always torture for me when our booths were across from each other at a show because I'd want to buy "one of each". I even used their fabrics in the Chevron Charm Table Runner I made for our booth. So when they asked for my help at the show I jumped at the chance.

Who wouldn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous fabric for three full days?! The fabrics behind me in the picture are their Wide Backs. These are the perfect size for large quilts so you don't need to piece the back. What a great idea. I'm wearing the jacket I made from one of the Rayon Batiks that I bought last year at the show. You can read about the jacket in this Blog Post.

If you have never attended Road to California it should be on your Quilt Show Bucket List. It is one of the largest quilt shows in Western US and in the country. They use up every square foot of the Ontario Convention Center. There are incredible quilts on display as well as a wide variety of classes to attend and of course LOTS of opportunities to shop.

It is also a very busy show for the vendors. As a result at a show like that usually there isn't much opportunity to leave the booth to look at the quilts. Which is exactly what happened in my case. But here is a link to the award winning quilts on the show website. The Best of Show Quilt was a Whole Cloth Quilt. It is the first time ever that a quilt like that won Best of Show. The quilt is called "Vivaldi by Moonlight." Here's a picture of the quilt.

All weekend as I was surrounded by beautiful fabrics and was looking at everything that people bought, I found some things that I just had to take home with me. Here are the additions to my Stash from the show. I'm proud to say that I have either started or completed two of the three projects. I think that's a new record for me.

I used these to make a Birthday Banner for my granddaughter Elsie's First Birthday. You can read about that in this Blog Post . Here's a picture of the finished product.

I also bought this fabric and pattern.

The fabric is a Rayon Batik. I love how the jacket I made turned out so I had to buy more for another project. It drapes so nicely and is so figure flattering. I have the dress finished except for the hem. Here's a picture of it just before I sewed the side seams.

The last thing I bought was the Honey Bun Pouf pattern and some fabric for that. The sample was in perfect view of the cash register where I was working all weekend. The fabric reminds me of water, and bubbles. Since we live at the beach and the fabric coordinates with our color scheme I thought it would be fun to have a couple of these for the grandchildren to sit on when they come to visit. I have to buy some canvas fabric so I haven't started on this one yet but it is in the queue.

I had a great time. It was fun to spend the weekend with Bruce and Diane. I saw so many of our customers and vendor friends. That is one thing I really miss about being off the road. We made many good friends over the course of those 10 years.

Happy Quilting,


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Elsie's Birthday Banner

When  my first granddaughter, Tristyn was about to turn 1 I made a Birthday Banner for her. I attached Velcro to the two pennants in the middle and made numbers and st, nd, rd, th to put after them. So each year she can put the appropriate numbers and letters on there to customize the banner. The way I did the numbers I think she can use it until she's 98 years old.

I decided that this would be a great tradition for all of my grandchildren. It is a fast and easy project and one that I hope they will want to use for many, many years to come. With the birth of three babies last year I have multiple banners to make. Little Elsie is the first of them to celebrate this precious milestone.

I purchased the fabrics when I was working in the Sew Batik Booth at Road to California Quilt Show in January. The pattern is Celebration by CW Design Co.

I started by cutting the yellow dot fabric into 3 strips that were 10 1/2" by the Width of the Fabric. This is what I used for the pennants. I placed the template onto the fabric and made the first cut which also cut off the selvages. 

Then I lined up the template on the opposite side. Sometimes I could line it up perfectly and only had to cut one side. Other times it looked like this where I had to cut both sides. It just depended on which side I cut from first if I cut both sides or how much I over cut at the point.

I alternated like this until I cut all of the pennants. I chose to use the same fabric on the front and back so I cut a total of 28. I really only needed 27 because I used Blackboard Fabric for the space. Since the fabric was folded in half it was just easier to do the extra one. The Blackboard Fabric was much easier and will look way better than the Velcro method I used for Tristyn's. I may actually ask her if she wants me to swap those pennants out for Blackboard Fabric on hers.

I traced the letters onto fusible web. I like Steam a Seam2 Lite. It isn't as stiff as Heat and Bond and Wonder Under.

I used the turquoise fabric for the letters. I cut a piece of the fabric roughly the same size as the traced letters. I peeled the paper off of the fusible web and placed the sticky side of it onto the fabric. Since I was working with a batik I didn't have to worry about right and wrong sides. If I was using a different type of fabric, I'd want to make sure that I put the letters onto the wrong side of the fabric.

 Then it was time to cut out all of the letters.

I fused them onto the yellow fabric with the dots. I needed to make sure that I had enough clearance at the top so that the fabric that will string the letters together wouldn't cover up the letters. There also had to be enough room on the sides so that when it came time to pink the edges I wouldn't cut off the letters. I did a rough measurement of where the start of the small letters like a, i and r would start. Then I applied that measurement to things like the hump part of the h, b and d so all of the letters would be in approximately the same part of each pennant. I played around with positioning of the letters too. This is what I came up with.

I decided to use a Satin Stitch to stitch around the letters. Normally my choice of stitch for a fusible applique project is a Blanket Stitch. For this one I wanted to use a contrasting thread and I wanted it to define the letters. I experimented with several different stitch lengths and widths until I settled on .4 and 2.0.

If you just stitch onto the fabric at this point it is going to pucker. So I needed a stabilizer behind the fabric. Several years ago I learned that a really good and very inexpensive stabilizer for machine applique is sheets of Smart & Final Sandwich Wrap. It is a thin paper that peels off really easily when you're done. Depending on how much of this kind of work you do, one package could be a lifetime supply.

I determined that I needed 5" squares. I was able to get 4 from a single sheet so I cut 7 sheets into 5" squares.

I pinned them to the back of each pennant making sure that the letters were completely covered from the back. I tried to place the pins far enough from the letters so that they wouldn't be in the way as I stitched around the letter.

One thing I discovered as I was doing the stitching is that it was important to let the machine do the work. I just guided the fabric, especially around the curves. If I tried to feed the fabric through the machine the stitches were uneven.This is what the letter looks like after I stitched around it.

After I finished all of the letters I put the backing fabric behind each letter and behind the Blackboard Fabric pennant. I put the letter fabric piece on top and started in the top right hand corner of each pennant piece and stitched 1/4" around both sides. It wasn't necessary to stitch across the top because the "binding" goes there. Once I had stitched around all of the pieces I used a pair of pinking shears to cut close to the stitching. I chose this method rather than a pinking blade in  my rotary cutter because there were some places where the letters were so close to the stitching line that I didn't want to accidentally cut part of a letter.

The pattern calls for a package of  Wrights Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape (1/2"). I opted to make my own. Since the banner is going to curve you really need the bias tape or bias strips at the top. If you want to know how to quickly and easily Cut Long Bias Strips you can read this earlier Blog Post. As I was working on the pennants I thought about what color I wanted here. Since it's for a girl I wanted to use either pink or purple. There is a lot of bright pink in the fabric but also a hint of purple. So I auditioned both colors. Even though the pink made the pink dots pop I liked the purple better. It went better with the turquoise letters.


You can view this Blog Post to see how to Make Your Own Double Fold Bias Tape. Here is my finished "Bias Tape." It will get attached to the top of the pennants.

I opened the strips at the ends and cut them so they were straight. I folded them under 1/4" and refolded the strip. That will give me clean, finished ends. I left 20" tales on both ends. It is definitely necessary to pin this in place. Normally I pin perpendicular to the sewing machine needle.  Bias strips means that the fabric has a tendancy to move more than a straight of grain strip would so in this case I opted to pin in the same direction as the needle. I really wanted things to stay in place.It just meant that when I sewed the strips I had to go slowly.

It is necessary to prime the Blackboard fabric. This is done by running a piece of chalk in both directions to cover the entire piece of fabric. Then you wipe it off and do the same thing again. Once this was done I wrote 1st on it so the Birthday Banner says "Happy 1st Birthday." Here it is hanging between two trees in the park across the street from my house.

My hope is that hanging it will be a birthday tradition for Elsie as she grows up. She may or may not think it's "cool" when she's a teenager. But sometimes traditions hold strong. Who knows? Maybe it will be important to her and she'll still want to hang it up when she's 50; I hope so.

Happy Sewing and Crafting,