12 April 2015

Howto: Binding little round things

I wasn't sure how I would finish the edges of my lonestar circle coasters. I liked the idea of double-fold quilt binding, but it seemed like it might be tricky, especially the curves and the relatively tight diameter. I decided to try it on one coaster, and then decide what to do with the rest.


It turned out exactly like I wanted. I'll show you how I did it.

I used 17" lengths of 2 1/4" bias strips for my 4 1/2" diameter circles. If you're working with a different sized circle the length of your bias strip will be

      (Diameter * 3.14) + 3"

This will give you about 3/4" extra length for wiggle room. Please note that you must use bias-cut binding strips. Binding strips cut on the grain will not conform to the curve, and your finished project will not sit flat. Bias is essential!


Mark a 45-degree diagonal line on the wrong side of one end of the bias strip starting at the top right corner. (Pay attention to the diagonal orientation - top right corner to bottom left edge. It won't work if you draw from the bottom right corner.) Press the strip in half.


Begin pinning the strip to the front of the circle. Leave a 4" unpinned tail at the marked end.


Carefully pin the bias strip about 2/3 of the way around the circle. Pin every 3/4" to 1", angling the pins toward the center of the circle. Gather the folded edge as you pin. Be careful not to stretch the cut bias edge.


Go back to the 4" marked tail. Gingerly wrap the tail around the circle edge as if you were going to pin it. Place a pin in the coaster circle where the binding ends (note the yellow flower pin head behind my finger).


Now set the marked binding tail aside and pick up the opposite binding tail. As before, wrap it around the circle edge until you reach the marker pin. Mark the bias strip at the pin (I've made a small tick mark in the photo).


Flip the coaster over, with the trailing binding strip extended and the new mark visible. Trim the strip 2 1/4" from the mark you just made. (If you look very closely you can see my tick mark on the fabric at 2 1/4".)


Press the crease flat at the two ends of the binding strip.


Pin the two ends together right sides together at a 90-degree angle, aligning the edges.


Sew along the marked line.


Time for a reality check. Before you trim anything, fold the bias strip in half to make sure you didn't make a Möbius strip or some other unworkable shape.


But it looks good! So trim the excess, and press the seam flat.


Re-crease the binding strip.


Pin around the remaining 1/3 of the circle, careful to even out any excess or tightness. Now sew around the circle with a 1/4" seam allowance.


Turn and press the binding to the back of the coaster. Finish the back of the binding as you wish. I enjoy finishing by hand!

09 April 2015

A pile of coasters

My mom was at my home the other day. She picked up a quilted fabric coaster I had made from an orphan block and said, "This is what I want." Well, there's no arguing with that,is there.


I got it in my head to make some mini lonestars, cropped round & quilted. I wasn't sure how many I'd make. Maybe 4 or a couple more, I thought. Once I got going they came together pretty fast & I ended up making 12, enough for three game tables when my mom & dad host bridge night.



The first couple blocks I assembled in standard concentric rings of like fabrics. Lonestars are strip-pieced and assembled in 8 wedges, then combined to form the whole star.



Then I tried making two contrasting sets of 8 wedges, using the same fabrics but in different order, and mixing the two sets together for a pinwheel effect.



And then mixing sets with varying fabric choices, though all the star blocks use just 4 fabrics.



Finally I collected strip-piecing remnants to make one scrappy block. It's in the top left corner of the group shot at the top of the post.



The coasters are machine quilted along the seam lines, trimmed to 4 1/2" diameter with a rotary circle cutter, and bound with 2 1/4" double fold bias tape.



I finished the binding during several days of my commute. I'm tickled that the backing fabric looks a bit like that old end table that everyone forgets to use a coaster on. Now it's time to get these in the mail!

19 July 2013

Yoga bag

Hamish is on a yoga kick lately, but sadly lacks appropriate yoga lifestyle accessories. So I set about making a bag for his yoga mat.


I picked a handsome Parson Gray canvas print and studied up on free patterns and tutorials. Nothing matched my vision exactly, but several tutorials had helpful bits and pieces.


There are three open pockets on the outside of the bag around the base. The bag and pockets are lined with quilting-weight cotton.


The inner lining has a small pattern-matched envelope pocket for storing cash and keys.


It was a fun project, and came together more quickly than I expected. The final closure at the top where the zipper, strap, shell & lining come together was a bit tricky – I don't have a lot of bag making experience – but a bit of hand stitching did the job.

The three sources I found the most helpful were Amy Butler's free Nigella pattern for proportions and outer pocket, Modest Maven's tutorial for zipper and inner envelope pocket, and Jane's Girl Designs tutorial for another take on inserting a zipper.

12 July 2013

NYC MOD Double Wedding Ring Challenge + Giveaway

The NYC MOD quilters have partnered with EZ Quilting/Simplicity, Interweave and Juki to sponsor the Double Wedding Ring Quilt Challenge! Use the Double wedding ring template/or pattern to create a project, then enter it to win amazing prizes!


I'll be making my first DWR quilt for this challenge using my red and neutral over-dyed fabrics from the last post. I pieced my first four arcs.


Challenge Categories:

  • SMALL - ONE RING: 20″ or smaller. This is a great way to play and learn your curves, and try your own version of making this fun design.
  • TRADITIONAL: 4 rings or larger. Make the traditional double wedding pattern by using the template and your choice of fabrics…not straying to far from the traditional style.
  • MODERN: 4 rings or larger. How can you interpret the double wedding ring, put a MODERN spin on a traditional design? Piece it, applique, fuse, whole cloth? Possibilities are endless! 
For all categories, quilts must be made of three layers and bound.

The EZ Double Wedding Ring templates are available at www.simplicity.com or at your local store. You don’t have to use Darlene’s Double Wedding Ring templates to enter, but we’d sure like it if you did! Any double Wedding ring template will work.

The judges for the challenge are Darlene Zimmerman ( EZ quilting), Vivika DeNegre (Interweave), Lisa Mason(president of NYC MOD), Victoria Findlay Wolfe(Quiltcon Winner, with Double Edged Love), and Elisa Albury.

The deadline for entries in December 1, 2013. You can enter up to three times, one project in each category, any project you have started this year. Enter at the following pages:
Small
Traditional
Modern

Prize Categories:

1. Grand Prize from any of the 3 categories
2. One winner from Small
3. One winner from Traditional
4. One winner from Modern
5. Judges Choice

Grand Prize:

  • Photo of the Grand Prize project in EZ/Simplicity advertisement in Modern Patchwork Magazine,
  • Complete collection of EZ Templates by Darlene Zimmerman, Deluxe sidewinder and Deluxe Bias Tape and Quilt Binding Machine
  • Juki HZL Exceed F600 Sewing Machine
  • Featured in an article in Spring issue of Modern Patchwork 2014
  • 15 Minutes of Play
  • FQ bundles of Robert Kaufman Kona cotton & Darlene Zimmerman collection

Additional prizes for all other categories will include:

  • EZ Quilting Templates and Notions
  • Special gift from Modern Patchwork
  • 15 Minutes of Play by Victoria Findlay Wolfe
  • One year Membership from The Quilt Alliance
  • Oliso Irons 3 small traditional and modern
  • Gutterman Thread (In-home Cabinet) 100 spools, 100 m, 100% cotton
  • $50 Gift Certificate to Canton Village Quilt Works
  • Gift Certificate from Fabric Depot online store
  • American Spirit by Fairfield queen-sized
  • FQ bundles of Robert Kaufman Kona cotton & Darlene Zimmerman collection
  • Fabric Bundles by New Castle Fabric
  • Fabric Bundles by Fabric Traditions
  • Darlene’s latest quilt
  • The Spray and Fix Sewing Adhesive Collection by ODIF USA traditional
  • A FREE class at Craftsy.com
  • Joy of Quilting by Kathy Doughty, Material Obsession
Winners will be announced Dec 15th, 2013. Winning quilts with need to be sent in by January 1st.

Blog hop Schedule:

July 8th
​NYC MOD​ Quilters (http://nycmetromodquilters.blogspot.com)
Interweave (quiltingdaily.com)

July 9th
Emily Bailey (emsscrapbag.blogspot.com)
Shelly Pagliai (http://prairiemoonquilts.com)

July 10th
Amy Ellis (amyscreativeside.com)
Faith Jones (www.freshlemonsquilts.com)

July 11th
Amy Smart (http://www.diaryofaquilter.com)

July 12th
Dan Rouse (hi!)
Elisa Albury (www.stitchoutsidetheditch.com)

July 13
Jenny Cameron (Fiberlosophy.blogspot.com)

July 14th
Jane Davidson (http://quiltjane.blogspot.com)

July 15th
Joanna Wilczynska (http://shape-moth.blogspot.com)
Jackie Kunkel (http://cvquiltworks.blogspot.com)

July 16th
Kathy Doughty (http://www.materialobsession.typepad.com)
Juki (http://jukihomesewing.wordpress.com)

July 17th
Lisa Mason (http://theredheadedmermaid.blogspot.com)
Flaun Cline (http://ipleadquilty.blogspot.com)

July 18
Pat Sloan (http://blog.patsloan.com)
Jessica Alexandrakis (http://lifeunderquilts.blogspot.com)

July 19th
Jacquie Gering (http://tallgrassprairiestudio.blogspot.com)
Lee Heinrich (http://www.freshlypieced.com)
Monica Solorio-Snow (http://thehappyzombie.com/blog)

Giveaway!

I've been given a set of EZ Double Wedding Ring templates to give away to one lucky reader. Please leave one comment on this post for your chance to win. I'll pick a random comment next week.

26 June 2013

Fiber reactive dye for a tea-stain effect

I'm starting a quilt project with prints in a range of reds, and a range of off-whites and tans, but I had a hard time finding fabrics with compatible color tone. I want all the fabrics to have an aged, muted tone, like they were all French General prints (fabrics printed by Moda with an aged, French countryside personality), even if the prints are not all French General fussy.

The first thing that came to mind was Penny Sew Take a Hike's tea-stained Scrappy Trips quilt. The tea stain softens the chaotic colors and unifies the composition. So off to the internet I went, searching for information on colorfastness. Alas, I couldn't find anything that made me feel confident that the color would persist through washings. And though it seems very abstract compared to color-fastness, several people were worried that the tannic acids in tea would damage the fabric in the long term.

The final fabric pull, including many over-dyed prints.

I set about searching for permanent dye solutions, and found several very helpful sources. First, I came upon a post by Deborah Schlegel at Art Threads about using Ecru fiber-reactive dye to stain a cotton sweater. Next I found an old Flickr discussion prompted by Rossie Hutchinson culminating in a experiment to find the best fiber-reactive color for tea-stain effect. Of the three she tested, Rossie also preferred Ecru. Voila - a plan!


I pulled out all my fabrics with true whites -- mostly red prints, but many off-whites too -- and set about dyeing in batches. I adapted Dharma Trading's instructions for tub dyeing, using a 5-gallon bucket, 4 gallons of water, 4 cups salt, 2 Tbs Ecru dye, and 1/2 cup soda ash to dye about 2 lbs of fabric (~6 yards). That's too much fabric for that volume of water if you need completely even color, but I was open to some mottling. I did have some unexpected results, but more on that later.

My first surprise was that although I pre-washed every scrap, some fabrics sucked up the dye color, and some hardly took a sip. I did a total of three dye batches, and a few of the fabrics went through all three. Here are a few of the dyed reds next to undyed yardage. The Julie Comstock Junk Drawer print was dyed twice, and the Sweetwater Tangled Threads just once.


And here are some tans. The Metro Circles and Oval Elements prints received two batches of dye because I want them not just dingy but dark. But the fancy Japanese woven (second from bottom) was only in the dye bath a few minutes before I pulled it out, and let the others stir and soak for another half hour.


But the biggest surprise came in the color tone of a few dyed fabrics. These three prints were in the same dye bath. All were dyed primarily to reduce contrast between the print and the background, mitigate the yellow, and perhaps add some mottling. But the colors came out so differently! The keys and the birds look great, but the foliage print is so orange -- where did that come from?


I wonder if certain fabric is more receptive to a specific component in the dye, or perhaps some components of the dye are absorbed and removed from solution more quickly, leaving scraps on the inside of the fabric pile to fight for what's left when they're stirred free. Who knows? I'm sure that orange fabric is not going to be in this quilt, but I think I'll use the original.

I'll leave you with photos of the final 40 or so of each color. Not the greatest photos, but I love how the fabric turned out.



What do you know about tea staining, and dyeing for tea-stained effect? I'd love to hear.

28 May 2013

Camp Stitchalot

Won't you join me on a quilting retreat this summer? I'll be teaching at Camp Stitchalot in Ann Arbor this August 9-11, hosted by Pink Castle Fabrics. There will also be three more amazing teachers: Jacquie Gering (Tallgrass Prairie Studio), Amanda Jean Nyberg (Crazy Mom Quilts), and Rossie Hutchinson (Fresh Modern Quilts).


I'll be teaching curved piecing techniques, starting with curved improv. This is the 20" block I made for the retreat sample quilt. The idea for the retreat is we'll have focused instruction time with each teacher, then mentored studio time to explore the new techniques individually and together.


Brenda and Rossie sent out four solids to each of the teachers, with instructions to stick to the palette so all our blocks would work together for the sample quilt. Not very good at following directions, I added four additional fabrics in equal measure, including two prints, naturally. Hopefully it won't get me in too much trouble.









I love quilts where improv and traditional precise piecing bump into each other, and that's what I was exploring in this block. I used the same approach in my recent Sunrise and Orb quilts.


I'll have more photos and discussion soon of the quilt beneath the block in this photo. It's another use of improv curved piecing, here in a (perhaps) more approachable rectangular setting.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to Summer Camp Stitchalot. Brenda's (Just a Bit Frayed) spring retreat came off as a mad success. You can read full reports, including descriptions of the idyllic rural B&B venue, from Katy Ginger Monkey Jones here and here, and more from Rossie Hutchinson here.

Hope to see you at camp!

22 May 2013

Happy Harvey Milk Day

Today is Harvey Milk Day in California, honoring the birth date of one of my heroes in the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. We've come so far in the last couple years -- it's hard to imagine the challenges Harvey faced when he won public office as an openly gay man.

Harvey Milk. Photo by permission of Daniel Nicoletta
Two years ago I started a portrait quilt of Harvey Milk, based on this famous photo by Daniel Nicoletta.  I finished in June 2011.


Nicoletta's photo was taken during his campaign for City Supervisor, and his campaign button is prominently displayed on his chest.


We've made so much progress, and there is still so much to do. Thank you for your support in the fight for full equality.