Book Review: Fool Proof Machine Quilting

On my quest to improve the ole' quilting skills I picked this book up from the library: Fool Proof Machine Quilting By Mary Mashuta

The technique that Mary explains in the book is brilliant. Using your walking foot, different threads and needles and freezer paper you can create intricate layered designs with relative ease. The book covers thread, needle and batting suggestions for different effects which I hadn't really seen before in any other how-to books.
She explains about preparing the quilt top and gives template making guidelines.
The cover of the book shows a nice example of what you can do with this method. Using a bunch of different template shapes she sews around the outline of the template and then mirrors it by following the first outline to double the effect. Thread selection plays a big part too -- by using a thicker thread and a top stitch needle the look completely changes and the quilting stands out even more.

Another great point is there is no math! All the templates are made by eyeballing - a particularly favorite method of mine. This was my first attempt at the method, which worked okay. I think a bigger space to work around makes the sewing easier. This clover was only 4" across and the curves were tight.

The method in this book is a good alternative to free-motion quilting. It gives a crisp finished look like straight line or in the ditch quilting, but with an added  design element that usually only comes with free-motion curves and loops. 

I have a stack of quilt tops to work on and I am going to try this method out but it is a little time consuming because you are doing each template separately and each block separately. So with a 3 outline design on 12 squares....well you see where that is going, but with any method it takes time to do it right.


Flying Geese Gone Wrong

What would you do if all your blocks came up wrong? It's a question I had to ask myself tonight, and it wasn't very fun.
See how wonky and unmatched everything is!

It's supposed to measure 9.5" square once trimmed! Ahh!
And the worst part is that I can trace back to exactly what I did wrong. I sewed my flying geese together improperly. I thought 'hey I've sewn geese before, no problem, dive right in' -- but I dove head first and came up on the shallow end. 
Bummed. Now I get to start over, but not before I read up on flying geese. 


Upcycled Hoodie to Cowl Neck

******If you are here for the giveaway it's still going on through midnight tonight, enter to win here!******

A while ago Mary from Craft Buds shared an awesome tutorial for turning a little boy hoodie into a an uber cute and very sophisticated cowl neck sweatshirt.

Well baby J doesn't have a hoodie to try, but I did. A well worn hoodie I've had close to 8 years; bought at american apparel which I love but hardly wear because the neck hole kept getting caught on my glasses. My head and glasses are too big, ha! So instead of donating it I used Mary's tutorial to accommodate the head and glasses!
Piping around the seam adds a little something, something
And then cowl neck sweatshirt was born, with ample room for my head. I asked hubby if it looked weird, and he said well it's kinda wonky at the bottom, I agree but a little hand in the front pocket takes care of it.

Mary wrote a great tutorial, it was straight forward and easy to follow. The one part I tripped up on was attaching the flaps to the body at the end. A nice straight across line and an opening the length of the flap is super important. I fudged that part a bit but no worries because I made it work and I love it even more now! I would defiantly reccomend this tute, I even have another hoodie to up-cycle!


Work's In Progress #11

***Hi! If you're looking for the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway it's right here!***

Hey there WIP crew! I took a week off to make some progress and now I feel super accomplished because I have a bunch of UFO's finished up and new projects to tell you about.

I've been whining about these baby lovelies not getting done for months. Well guess what, they are done and I love how they all turned out. 

These are my crinkle quilts, they crinkle when you grab them. Great for car seats, strollers, tummy time, play time and a diaper change. 
I used each quilt to try a different quilting technique. Continuous straight line quilting is where it's at for me. It's so versatile. I did a 1/4" seam, diamond pattern, lengthened embroidery stitch, a spider web, stars, maze and some boxed-in. What a practice session!

These started from fat-quarters and fabric from my stash and the idea of making baby lovelies to sell in a children's store near me. One day while in the store drooling over the local handmade goods I got to talking with the owner who said she'd look at my things. This was months ago, but I got them done and now it's moment of truth time where I go to the shop with my 'crinkle quilts' and see if she's interested.
And now I just told you so I have to!

My Grandma-in-Law has requested a quilt and I am so happy to make one for her. All she specified is blue and white -- and we okay'd the pink floral, it just yells Gramma! It's going to be an Irish Chain Nine-patch with a ring of Sawtooth stars. 

Hershel looking tough in the background of the quilt blocks : )

A Bento Box cut-out
And I finished the Ribbon Rainbow if you hadn't seen it yet but you probably did because I posted it all over the place ;)
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Thanks for checking out my WIP, go on over to Lee's to see all the amazing ladies at work ...

No More Fabric

What?! You might say, no more fabric? It is almost inconceivable. Limit buying fabric. Those words just don't look right in a sentence. I know, trust me I know. That is why my sewing room is flowing with fabric, but is there a point when enough is ...well enough?

It's a topic of dicussion among the bloggers : 502,000 discussion according to Google! So why do we do it? Why must we buy fabric in all colors, all styles, all patters, all designers? I don't know about you but I buy when it's cheap and when I like it - that is my only criteria and because of that my fabric stash has grown to the point where I don't have any more room for fabric (I should add in my sewing room, because I know there ladies out there with closets, garages, attics full of fabric)

So I am not going to buy anymore fabric (unless needed for a custom sewing order) and I even shook on it with my husband. It's sealed - it's a deal. And you know I feel good about it. It clears my mind to focus on the projects I've got going now -- and the ones I am going to start on using fabric from the stacks.

6 months, that's how long I committed to. It's going to be an interesting time, I am sure I will go through the stages of withdrawal and want to buy something/anything JUST GIVE ME A FAT-QUARTER! But then I'd have to tell the hubby and I just don't want to do that, lol!

Tell me your about your fabric hoarding...I'd love to hear!

Blue Birds Top 10 Quilting Tips

Disclaimer: I am not a master quilter - but I have made a bunch of quilts and I consider myself an experinced quilter. Being experienced just means I messed up along the way and found new ways of doing things which work better for me. These are the tips and techniques I have learned in the past few months that have helped me become a better quilter.  This is how I sew and quilt and I hope these tid-bits will help you in your quilting journey.

1. Color choice is endless so look for patterns you like and hold onto them until the right set of fabrics come along.

2. Experiment with pattern and color in your blocks, sketch them out or use a software program to try before you commit. That way if you don't like it you haven't spent a month working on it before you realize it.

3. Practice precision when cutting and sewing. Squares and strips that are cut just a little off  add up when you sew a row of them together. That goes for sewing pieces together too. My best tool for this is a 1/4" piecing foot - or a well marked sewing machine plate and rotary cutter, grid ruler and mat.

4. Ironing is worth it, set your seams before opening them up or pressing them to the side. Study the design before ironing so you make the best choice for the situation. For example if you are sewing black and white fabric together press towards the black or if making a pinwheel block press open so that there isn't a wad of seams at the end.

5. When quilting the top to batting and backing check your thread line from the spool to the needle every time you move your quilt. More often than not this is where problems originate. Sloppy thread leads to sloppy tension which means sloppy stitches.

6. Don't be afraid of the seam ripper it can be your best friend. Embrace the process and rip it out when you are not happy with it.
7. When sashing or binding cut the strips a little longer than measured; ending up with not enough is always worse than a little too much.
8. When hand sewing your binding down use threads 1' - 2' long. Any longer and it takes forever to pull a 3' long piece of thread through each time -  not to mention the tangles and knots it creates.

9. Use a longer stitch setting when quilting long rows, sewing binding on or doing continuous line quilting. The long stitch makes the thread stand out more when quilting and it goes a bit quicker.
10. And we all want to go little quicker, right ; ) But that leads me to my newest motto: take the the time to make it right. This goes for a lot in life but let's start with the quilts.
Cheers & Happy Quilting!

Scrappy Sewn Note Pad Project

I love sewing with paper. Good simple things come of it. Recently I sewed cards together and I liked the outcome, so I got to experimenting with my scrap notebook paper. And I came up with these cute, easy, scrappy, recycled note pads.
perfect place to put a list
This is such a simple thing to do I had to share with you, because don't we all need a few more places to scribble our lists?
Start with some left over paper, notebook paper is good,
or even left overs from the printer

Cut the paper down to note sized pads, here's a couple ways to cut

My sewing machine, with a sharp needle will handle 10-15 pieces of thin paper plus the decorative paper that wraps around the top of the pad. Do a test or two on your machine to see how many it can handle.

Staple at the very top to secure all pieces together
Pretty pieces of paper

Now to add the interest. I used scrap pieces of decorative paper from the craft store and cut them wide enough to just hang off the ends of the pad by a tiny bit. They are 2" lengthwise. But these numbers are totally up to you, make it what size seems right for the pad, with enough room to sew a 1/4" seam at the bottom.

Pretty paper, folded in half and slipped over
the stapled end of the pad

Hold in place to get the stitching started and
and leave plenty of thread at either side

tie off each end of the seam to secure the thread

Viola` a scrappy sewn note pad

So many things to do.....

Ribbon Rainbow

**edited to add: I'm also linking up to amylouwho: sew and tell for June! Thanks for stopping by!***

Hello! I am linking up for the first time to the Bloggers Quilt Festival 2011!!! It's an amazing show with so many talented artists and quilters. Go there right now to see them all!
This quilt is brand new but also a new favorite of mine. I've only been back in the quilting game for a year or so now. In that time I've made a bunch of quilts and this one really exemplifies my style. I have a quilt crush.  I  designed the quilt myself with two things in mind: rainbows and zigzags. Using fabric from the stash, mostly solids but a few polka dots here and there I pieced this using HST and solid squares. Simple yet complex! There are a lot of lines and colors to keep straight. I was humbled by the seam ripper more than once. This quilt was a challenge to make, but worth every effort and every seam I ripped out! Now I'll let the pictures do the talking.....
Ribbon RainbowFabric: cotton in white, solid or solid w/white
Batting: Poly/Cotton blend 80%/20%
Dimensions: 46"x70"
Started: March 2011
Finished: April 2011
Quilting style: Continuous Straight Line diagonals & zigzag boarder
Sewn & Quilted by me on Husqvarna Viking 980 Prisma

I am also linking with some great linky parties happening all week. Check them out in my side bar to the left.

Binding the Quilt: a Tutorial

Binding is the last step of making a quilt! Hooray you've made it this far, but I have to break it to you binding has as many parts to it as the rest of the quilt! Quilts can be so simple to make there are just a ton of steps along the way. But what makes it simple is that each step can be broken down and done in about 15 minutes. All is takes is perseverance to see a quilt to the end. Ah, nothing quick about making a quilt, but that's also why quilts are so special. They truly are labor's of love.
A bit about binding: Stripes, polka dots and coordinating fabrics are all game on today quilts. For the concrete cabin quilts I used my favorite print to give a framed in boarder to the purple quilt and the red quilt I used a neutral muslin - the same for the sashing and backing to keep it simple. That's what great about binding it is another tool in the quilter's design box that gives each quilt a unique and personal touch.

Before we start I have a personal quilting confession to make - I don't use bias strips. I just never have and this method works for me so I go with it. but ssshhhh....don't tell ; )

You will need to start: 

1 concrete cabin quilt measuring 44"x69"
Binding strip measuring 2.5" x 235" (perimeter + extra)
spool of thread

The first step in the binding process is to make a really long strip of fabric 2.5" wide and the length of the perimeter of the quilt, plus a few inches for the corners and overlap. Start by cutting enough strips from your chosen fabric to make this happen. To join strips together sew the strips at an angle which gives a nice clean look when finished. Here's the steps in photo form:
Make sure right sides are together when using solid fabrics.
This may seem obvious, but  I made the mistake of sewing 
the wrong sides together! hello seam ripper! 
Line up strips at 90 degrees then draw a line from top left to
bottom right to make a 45 degree angle. Pin and sew on the line.
They turn our like this. Trim and press open.
Once you have all your strips sewn together the length
of the quilt perimeter plus some extra press the strip in half.
Now that you have a finished quilt and a super long strip of binding we are ready to pin them together. This is easiest if you have a nice big work area to lay out the quilt. Start at the middle of the quilt on any side and pin the binding to the very edge matching up the raw edges of the strip with the raw edge of the quilt. The folded edge lays toward the inside of the quilt like in the picture below.
At the corners a little fold is in order to give those clean mitered corners. Start with the strip layed out beyond the edge of the quilt.
 Next fold the strip toward you at a 45 degree angle matching up the folded line with the corner of the quilt.
Then fold the binding strip over the first fold to make a little dog ear flap like the in picture below.
Finish with pins on either side to hold in place; continue pinning at 4"-6" intervals and around each corner until you arrive at the starting point. Now we do a little finishing on that end piece.

Trim the binding strip to allow for a fold and a bit to overlap the beginning of the binding. I fold the end at an angle and press it closed to give a crisp and finished end to work with. Next place the starting point inside the finished end of the strip and pin securely. No finishing is needed on the starting point because it is hidden under the end strip.
Alright, we are getting close to having this quilt finished! Next step is to sew the binding strip onto the quilt - it's also the last step using the sewing machine - a little milestone in the process.
Sew biding with a .25" seam allowance. Make sure the layers of the quilt and the binding are matching up as you go. Like in the picture below the quilt tends to move around - so watch out for that bulge and take it slow.
The next tricky move is sewing around the corners. When coming up to the first corner stop .25" from the edge. You can feel the folded edge under the presser foot  -- you don't want to sew over that folded edge, that is what becomes a mitered corner. Do a little backstitching here to secure the stitch.

Then remove the quilt from under the presser foot, leaving thread intact and flip the dog ear flap over. Turn the quilt so that you are ready to start sewing the next side.
Start sewing at .25" from the edge on the opposite side of the dog ear flap; there might be a little hole between the stitches and that is okay. It will get sewn down when we flip the quilt and the hole makes is easier to turn right side out. 
Do a little backstitch again and then keep on sewing down the line and repeat the steps around each corner until you get back at the starting point. Backstitch at the starting point to secure the stitch and you are all done sewing the binding to the quilt. Now it's time to hand stitch the folded edge down to the backside of the quilt. Truly the last step of making a quilt!

One of my favorite things about binding is that you finish it by hand sewing the finished binding onto the quilt. I do this part on the couch, usually with Hershel (like in the picture at left) or the Hubby. It's a great way to start using the quilt, even before it's completely finished!
Get comfy in your favorite spot with a sewing kit, mine includes these items: thread to match the binding fabric, a sewing needle, a pin, scissors and a thimble.

Hand sewing around the quilt to secure the binding is simple and can be done in a couple sessions. Start with a thread about 1.5feet long. I made the mistake of using a super long thread my first few times and it just caused frustration getting knotted up and it took a while to pull that long thread all the way through. Stick with a foot or two max and no need to double it up, one thread will do just fine.

I outline the trickier parts below in pictures -- anchoring the thread (do this at the start and finish of each thread) and turning over and securing the corners.

Start with a knot and then sew a few anchoring stitches 
Fold the corner down like shown and stitch to just
before the edge, at the .25" seam

The front of the quilt with the corner folded down.
Use a fingernail to get the mitered edge looking crisp
and pointy.

Next, fold the opposite side down to make a nice diagonal in the corner.
Sew up through the quilt and the binding and then down
to the inside of the quilt and you've got a secured mitered corner.

Finished binding corner

Continue stitching around the quilt until you meet back up with your starting point and secure the thread with a few anchoring stitches. And now you just made a quilt from start to finish! No unfinished projects around here (ha! just don't peak in the cupboards!)

This is the last piece of the Concrete Cabin Quilt puzzle. I hope you enjoyed the tutorials and gleaned some good information from them. Each one has nuggets of my quilting knowledge, but together they make so much more. A quilt, a how-to, a beginning of pattern and instruction writing. For me projects are what keep my mind going and this quilt-along was somewhat like writing a term paper back in college. It keeps the mind sharp and active and I have really enjoyed it - maybe even more than term papers!

Please let me know what you think of this tutorial and any suggestions to make it better would be appreciated! If you do make a quilt and would like to show it off add it to the flickr group, I would love to see what you come up with.

This tutorial is one of five in a Concrete Cabin Quilt Tutorial Series
Find the other tutorials by their links:


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