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Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Entry - Quilt Shop Gal's FMQ Challenge

Time for the April entry in Darlene at Quilt Shop Gal's FMQ Challenge.

This month the expert was Christina Cameli. I chose to do Option 1 of the Challenge, using designs from Christina's Craftsy Class, The Secrets of Free Motion Quilting
Option 1 Pillow, April 2015 FMQ Challenge

The course was a lot of fun; I learned a lot about the ways designs are made and how that affects the way they fill the space. There were a lot of choices for designs to use. Christina groups the designs into families by the method to produce them. I chose to use designs from three of the families: nestled designs (pebbling), beads on a string, and the echo around family. Each of the families builds in a different way, and recognizing that helps you figure out where to go next. Since that's one of my big challenges with FMQ, I found this course very helpful, I have gone back to review the designs as I worked. It also helps you deconstruct other FMQ designs you see so that you can reproduce them or come up with new ones. Very informative!

  Here are the examples of the designs I used.
Nestled Design Family
Several styles of pebbling

Echo Around Family

Beads On A String Family
Be sure to check out the other April entries at Quilt Shop Gal. They're always fantastic.  And you can click through from her page to Craftsy. It is really worth looking at, if you haven't before.  I would highly recommend Craftsy courses in general, and Christina Cameli's course, The Secrets of Free Motion Quilting.

Have fun quilting. I'll see you next month!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Clever Catchall Tutorial

I'm posting another tutorial today, this time for a small container I call a catchall. It can catch whatever you'd like to put in it. I use mine to hold miscellaneous tools near my sewing machine, but it's also just the right size to hold a boutique-size box of tissues, or cotton balls, or balls of yarn, or embroidery threads, or... well, you get the picture. I made a bunch of these for my quilting retreat pals, and they seemed to be a hit, so I thought I'd pass it along. They do make nice gifts!

The Clever Catchall

I'm linking this up to the weekly #CreativeGoodness Linky Party that Darlene has going at QuiltShopGal. Since this is pretty fast and simple to make, I would consider it #KidFriendly for older children learning to use a sewing machine. If you choose, you could also use hand sewing and/or buttons to tack down the corners and flaps, which would be good for beginning sewers. All fabric cutting could be done ahead of time, or with scissors to make it even easier for children. I used my 15" square ruler and rotary cutter, so making this is super easy. You could use larger or smaller squares, adjusting the corner triangles to adjust the height and width of the finished piece. It's a fun thing to play with.

What you'll need:

  • Two 15" contrasting squares of  quilting cotton fabric, one for outside, 1 for inside
  • A 15" square of batting (I used a 14 1/2" square because my leftover scraps weren't quite big enough, but either size will work.)
  • Thread that contrasts with the inside fabric (I used Superior Threads Magnifico - it shows up nicely and I love the sheen
  • Sewing machine, pins
  • Buttons if you want to use them for tacking down the flaps
How To

Stack the fabrics as follows; Inside fabric right side up, Outside fabric wrong side up, and batting on top. Pin the layers together and sew 1/4" from the edge, leaving about 4" open at one side for turning.

After sewing, clip the corners and turn the square right sides out. Be sure you poke the points out. I use a Purple Thang, but you can use anything that works for you, providing it isn't so sharp you poke a hole in the fabric.

Press the square flat and make sure the opening is tucked in and pressed so that it is flush with the side. Top stitch all the way around the square. I did this twice because I like the look, but once will do. You could use a decorative stitch, if you like.This will close the opening you used for turning; no need to sew by hand.

Once the square is top stitched, fold it in half with the outside facing you., as below. You will mark the corners for sewing by making a mark 3 1/2" on either side of a folded corner and then drawing a line between them as in the photo.

Sew on these drawn lines to form the pouches at the corners.

When you have sewn both corners, fold the resulting pouch in half the other way, so that the seams you just sewed meet up at the middle. Then mark and sew the other two corners the same way.

You now have a box, but the flaps are sticking up. Fold them down and tack them. I chose to do this on the sewing machine using a decorative stitch, but you could sew a button on. With a fancy or playful craft button, this would be very effective.

Because I chose a decorative stitch, I wanted just one motif sewn. I can do that on my machine by starting to sew the stitch, then pressing the stop button (on my machine it's the second one down) and the machine will stop and tie off after making one motif. If you have this feature, it can be very helpful. I also used it to tack down the corners to that they aren't gaping open. It gives them more strength, so they can hold things like small scissors, tweezers, thread picks, stilettos, etc. This could also be easily done by hand.

Use this photo as a guide to determine where the tacking stitches should go. I just eyeball them, making sure the corner pocket stays straight and centered.

That's it, a finished Clever Catchall!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tea Wallet Tutorial

Today, I'm going to try my hand at writing a tutorial for what I call a Twelve Bag Tea Wallet. A friend asked me to do this at a retreat back in February, but it's taken me until now to collect the photos and write it up.

I will be linking this to Quilt Shop Gal's Creative Goodness Linky Party for this week. If you enjoy these sort of crafty, creative posts, check it out. So many creative ideas!

Now to the job at hand!

Twelve Bag Tea Wallet

Supply List

  • Fat Quarter of Cotton Fabric
  • Matching Thread
  • Button or snap for closure. If using snap, two small pieces of interfacing
  • Small hair elastic if desired to use with button
  • Marking pen of your choice (I use chalk on dark fabrics and water eraseable on light)
  • Usual implements for cutting and pinning and a sewing machine.


Make the body of the wallet

Cut fabric 20.5"x15.5".
Sew 15.5 sides together using 1/4" seam
Sew along the raw 15 ½” edge, using a ¼” seam to form a tube.

From your fat quarter, cut a rectangle 15 ½” by 20 ½”.
Fold fabric crosswise in half, right sides together; press. The rectangle is now 10 ¼” by 15 ½”

Sew along the raw 15 ½” edge, using a ¼” seam to form a tube.

Iron seam open so it is centered

Open the tube and line up the seam with the crease that is opposite it, so that the seam is in the middle of the rectangle. Press this flat, pressing the seam open, as in the photo. (This is important to avoid excessive thickness on the outside edges of the finished pockets.)

Mark 3.5" from each side on one end of tube.

Sew one of the 10 ½” raw edges using a ¼” seam backstitching at the beginning and end..

Sew to marks, backstitching at beginning and end. Clip corners.

On the opposite 10 ½” raw edge, mark (or use a pin to mark) 3 ½” from each edge. You will leave the area between the marks open for turning. 

Sew from each edge to the mark, backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam. Clip all corners as in the photo.

Turn right side out and press.

Turn the rectangle right side out and press, making sure to make sure all corners are square and the seams are straight. Don’t worry about sewing the opening that you used for turning shut. It will be sewn when we put in the closure.

Fold short sides 3.5" toward center and press.

With the center seam running vertically so you can see it, turn up both short sides by 3 ½”. Press well.
Fold each of the flaps back and press.

Now take the flaps you just folded up and fold them back outward, matching the edges with the folded edge. Press well. This makes 1 ¾” deep pockets.
Pin the pockets in place so that they don’t slide during the sewing.
Mark sewing lines 3" from edges.

Mark a line 3” from the side edges. These marks should be parallel to the center seam. You will sew along this seam to divide the wallet into three sections.

Sew edges , then sew on marked lines, backstitching at beginning and end of each.

Topstitch along the side edges (parallel to the center seam). Use a ¼” or less seam and backstitch at the beginning and end. (Don’t mark or sew the top and bottom sides.) Go slowly over the thick areas of the pockets. A walking foot is helpful here.Similarly, sew along the lines you marked, backstitching at each end as before.

The body of the wallet is made.

Make the Closure
In the picture at the top of this post, there are 3 options for closing the wallet.

Option 1: Hair elastic and button

Sliip  loop or hair elastic into outside pocket and sew close to edge.

Cut a small hair elastic (or a piece of a larger one) so that you can more easily fold it in half. Insert the cut ends into the outside pocket in the top of the wallet body. Topstitch the opening close to the edge, bacstitching over the elastic to reinforce it. Topstitch the  center opening of the opposite edge as well.
Sew a button to the outside of this side (opposite the elastic), being careful not to sew the pocket closed. (Sew only through the outside layer.)

Option 2: Loop and button

Make the loop by cutting a 1 ¼” by 4” strip from the leftover fabric. Fold this in half lengthwise and press. Open the strip and fold the sides into the center fold and press, then fold again down the center and press well, giving you a strip that is ⅜” by 4”.
Fold the strip in half so that it forms a v shape at the point, as shown in the picture. Proceed as for the hair elastic, using this strip instead.

Option 3: Snap

For this option, you will need to cut four flap pieces from your leftover fabric about 4” by 3” and two pieces of interfacing the same size. I used fusible fleece rather than interfacing, because I had it handy. Use whatever, you just need to reinforce the flaps so that they can hold up to snapping and unsnapping the flaps.

The picture to the left is not to scale due to the constraints of my software. Use it to draft your own pattern, but be sure to mark the snap position in the center top area.

To cut the flaps, I stack the fabric right sides together and rotary cut it so that all 4 flaps are the same. Iron (or baste or glue) the interfacing to one of each pair. Install the snap according to package instructions if it’s a magnetic snap, or sew it in if it’s an old-fashioned snap, into the side with the interfacing, measuring and marking carefully to place both of the pieces of the snap so that they will match up.


Once the snap is installed in each pair, put the flaps right side together and sew ¼” around the outside, leaving one side open for turning. Turn right side out and topstitch.


Insert the first flap into the top outside pocket and then sew close to the edge, closing the middle pocket and sewing in the flap.

Second flap attached, but not inserted.
Attach the other side of the snap, then insert the other flap into the opposite (bottom) outside pocket and pin in place. (This is to insure that the snaps will line up.) Unsnap and sew the bottom center section close to the edge to attach the flap and close the outside center pocket.

Second flap inserted and pinned in place ready to sew

To use the wallet, put tea bags and/or sweetener packets as desired into pockets. Fold one side to center, then the other. Fold the bottom up to the top and snap.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Entry Quilt Shop Gal FMQ Challenge

It's March (the bitter end - and it's been bitter here... brrr!); time for an entry in Darlene at Quilt Shop Gal's FMQ Challenge.

This month Patsy Thompson was the expert. I love Patsy's beautiful and colorful hyperquilting, so I really didn't want to miss this one. Since I had already bought her Craftsy class and watched it all, I decided to go for Option 2, which was to use the techniques from that class in a quilted pillow.

It has been really cold and dreary here. Spring hasn't really arrived yet, and somehow I just couldn't bring myself to use those bright, beautiful colors. I had done January's challenge in black and white, so I thought I would use a similar color scheme, but this time I'd use a black background and white and gray and metallic gold threads for the high contrast look of hyperquilting. Here is the result.

Finished March Pillow

The center feathered wreath was trapunto done with a thread that dissolves in water, which was new for me, but not too difficult. I simply sewed the extra layer of batting to the quilt top, cut away the excess batting in the back, then layered my usual quilt sandwich. Here are a few photos to illustrate.
The Vanish Lite (soluble thread) goes in the top thread, then sew the outline of the trapunto area.

From the back; trimming away the extra batting. After this, I added the regular layer of batting and a plain muslin backing.
Once I had the complete quilt sandwich, I could quilt as usual, sort of. I haven't been quilting much lately - overstretched my hand and it hurts, but I remembered something I had won in an earlier version of Darlene's FMQ Challenge, a set of Grip and Stitch Disks from Clever Craft Tools. You see, when I used my gloves, I tended to aggravate the sore hand, but resting my hands on the disks kept them in a neutral position that didn't hurt. I need more practice with them to get better control, but they do really grip the fabric, making it slide easily.
Grip and Stitch disks ready for quilting.
I quilted the wreath as usual. I then set about quilting the straight lines in the background. For this, I tried another Patsy Thompson suggestion, a short ruler made for FMQ. It kept my lines pretty straight, until I had to move the ruler. Again, a little practice should improve that. I think I could learn to really like using a ruler as a guide. (Note, this isn't the ruler you use for cutting fabric. It's much thicker so the presser foot can ride up against it as you quilt. See Patsy's website and You Tube videos for more details.)
The clear acrylic tool in the lower left corner is the quilting ruler. This one has handles to make it easier to use.
After I finished the usual quilting, I went back to add the hyperquilting, in my case, extra quilting in the feathers of the wreath. This is just some embellishment to add detail and complexity.
Adding Hyperquilting to the wreath.
After that, I turned it into a pillow, just as I did in January.

I'm going to link this up to the Quilt Shop Gal FMQ March Challenge site. Check it out; so many beautiful pillows this month! Thanks, Darlene and Patsy for the great inspiration. I used a lot of new things this time around that I wouldn't even have known about if it hadn't been for the two of you! You're both the greatest!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

1,2,3! January 2015 FMQ Challenge with Quilt Shop Gal

If you've been following these posts, you know I started this blog to enter the Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) Challenge form Sew Cal Gal, first offered in 2012.  I had just started learning FMQ, and that Challenge provided so many ideas and opportunities for practice, that it has made it possible for me to quilt my own quilts on my domestic sewing machine and do much better quilting than ever before.

It's now 2015, Sew Cal Gal has become Darlene at Quilt Shop Gal, she has a new FMQ Challenge, and this one is really going to be fun! If you are a beginner like I was in 2012, this is a great opportunity to learn FMQ. For me, I'm not an expert yet, so I really look forward to learning more techniques and new patterns and getting lots more practice! There will be a new challenge each month with guest instructors/experts to guide the challenges, just as there were in 2012. Hooray!

Let the Challenge Begin!

For the January challenge, we are making a heart-themed pillow with  three options:
1. Using patterns from Molly Hanson's book "Free Motion Quilting for Beginners", make a pillow using her FMQ motifs.
2. Make and quilt a pillow using Francis Moore's swirl in a heart motif.
3. Make and quilt a pillow using Lu Ann Kessi's heart motif filled with feathers.

I tried to combine all three options in my entry.
January Entry

I began by sketching the design ideas on paper, then making a freezer paper template of a heart, which I traced on my fabric. I added the curves for the feather spines at this point as well, which I drew in freehand. I wanted to use an idea from a Cindy Needham Craftsy class - divide and conquer - for the background, so I used a ruler to put in some radiating lines on and around the diagonals. Because I really wanted those feathers to pop, I cut an extra layer of wool batting into a heart shape using my template, and stuck that to the back of the top fabric with gluestick right under the central heart motif so that it would give a trapunto effect. Then I sandwiched it with more wool batting and a backing.

Ready to quilt.
I started in the middle with the feathered heart, then quilted the radiating lines. Next I added a paisley design from Molly Hanson's book down the middle of each of the background sections, then filled in with a combination of Molly Hanson's loop and words and Francis Moore's heart and swirl motif. Of course I practiced all of these on paper for several days before even trying to stitch them. I have found that sketching and doodling is the best thing for getting that muscle memory developed.

Cenral Heart - Lu Ann Kessi's motif
Option 3
Radiating lines - Cindy Needham Craftsy Class

Paisley motif - Molly Hanson's motif
Option 1
Combination: Loop with words Molly Hanson's
 & heart with swirl - Francis Moore's motif
Options 1&2

Once the pillow top was quilted, I needed to make a pillow of it. I used the directions in Molly Hanson's book to make my black and white heart themed pillow form with black binding.
Pillow back.

I'm linking this up at Quilt Shop Gal's 2015 FMQ Challenge for January. Be sure to check the other entries - they are great! And enter yourself - there are some great prizes offered, and they are awarded by the luck of the draw form entries, so you don't have to be an expert to win - beginners have an equal chance!