Sunday, March 31, 2013

Threadbias Quilt Design Tool Winner!

Congratulations to lucky commenter #36 - Amanda Reilly! You're the winner of a one-month trial of the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool. Thanks to everyone for entering :)

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend! I know I'm hoping to get to my sewing machine today after a bit of craft room spring cleaning. It's a bit of a disaster zone at the moment, with too many projects strewn everywhere to get much of anything done, but I'm hoping to do a bit of duffle sewing today, now that the Lucky Stars block for April is all set up and ready to go out to club members tomorrow. If you're not already a club member, you can absolutely still join us, and receive all of the previous blocks as well as April's block tomorrow - you can sign up right here. Have a great Sunday!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Digging into my zipper stash

In just two short weeks, my road trip to the Stash Bash retreat will begin, and I'm definitely not heading there empty-handed. We're planning to do a little pouch swap, and there's a few people that I want to bring a special something to as well, so I decided to dig into my zipper stash and make a pile of pouches. I just finished my last pouch yesterday, so that's one more thing I can check off my to do list, yay!

A pile of pouches for Stash Bash!

The first pouch I worked on is for the pouch swap. I wanted to do some teeny tiny piecing, and I wanted to use one of my Lucky Stars blocks, so I decided to use the new April block, which will be arriving to club members' inboxes first thing Monday morning. This teeny tiny version of the block finished at 3 1/2" - throughout the piecing, I felt like I needed smaller hands to work with these tiny pieces of fabric!

Lucky Stars pouch exterior

I sashed the block with some Essex linen in Steel, and decided to add a pinstripe effect with some simple quilting on the pouch. I wanted a bright, fun color for the zipper, so I picked out a fun green zipper, Washi triangles for the lining. On this pouch, I wanted a softer look, so I used Pellon fusible fleece. It's still definitely durable, but would be good for holding a Kindle or a camera, since it's a bit more padded.

Lucky Stars pouch interior

For the second pouch, I wanted to try to use some of my Anna Maria Horner scraps. I've destashed a lot of my Anna Maria Horner fabric, and used a lot of it, too, so all that's left is scraps. I decided to use an Anna Maria Horner to go with my bits and strings of fabric, her feather pattern, but there was no way that I had enough to make the full-size feather, so I shrunk it. I used the copier function of my printer to shrink the pattern by 50%, and I was able to put together enough strings to make a darling little feather. I used Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Black for the stem of the feather, and paired it with a mostly low-volume print from Art Gallery's new Urban Mod collection called Triangularity. Isn't that a fun word??? I added a bit more of the Triangularity print around the feather to create a nice rectangular size, and turned it into a pouch.

Feather pouch exterior

I found a red zipper in my stash that had a cute pull already attached to it, and installed that for the pouch. The lining of this one is from my biggest AMH leftover scrap, a print from her Innocent Crush line, and I used Pellon Craft Fuse for the interfacing on this one - I've used Craft Fuse on several pouches, and I like the crisp look it gives.

Feather pouch interior

You're going to get to see much more of the third pouch on Tuesday, when I will be sharing a quick tutorial for it. For now, I'll give you a quick tease :)

3rd pouch - sneak peek! Stay tuned for the tutorial next week

Stay tuned on Monday for my first update on my duffle progress, and have a great weekend!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Big plans to travel handmade

The Stash Bash

I'm super excited to be heading to The Stash Bash next month in Georgia, and there's nothing like travelling handmade, having something totally unique and totally you to carry your stuff in. So, I've got big plans over these next few weeks, not only to make a Studio Cherie Quilted Travel Duffle, but I'm also hoping to eek out enough time to put together my Sew Sweetness Aeroplane Bag.

six-hour road trip: here I come!

The Duffle comes first, because I'm lacking a duffle, and because I'm fully expecting that I'm going to need a duffle, stuffed full of fabric to use throughout the retreat weekend! I'm using a super fun Kokka print by Nancy Wolff, but I had a hard time figuring out what to pair it with. Tentatively, I'm planning to use an orange Sketch print for the bag's accent straps, but I'm not sure if it works. What do you think? Is the orange too bold?

Quilted Duffle plans

For my Aeroplane bag, I'm totally going with a QAYG exterior, with either some fun patchwork  or some of my Melody Miller stash, like these viewfinders. If I don't get to work on it before the retreat, it's definitely coming with me as a project to work on at the retreat!


Do you like to sew bags? Do you want to hear all the gory details of putting these two bags together, like I did when I made my Weekender? Bags are definitely not my forte, they take a lot of brainpower for me to process the idea of making something 3D as opposed to a nice 2D quilt, but I'm always so happy with the results. First up on the bag-making agenda: cutting a zillion and twelve pieces of fabric and interfacing, wish me luck! And don't forget to enter the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool giveaway, it's still open until tomorrow at midnight. Have a great day :)
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Threadbias On Tour: The Cross Maze Block Tutorial

 

Have you checked out Threadbias? It's a great online sewing community website designed for and run by sewists like you and me. You can share and plan projects, connect with others, exchange ideas, and now, you can even use Threadbias to design your own blocks and quilts. Threadbias just launched its new Quilt Design Tool at QuiltCon, and I've spent the last week or so working with it and putting together a fun block tutorial for you.

The Threadbias Quilt Design Tool allows you to not only build blocks, but lay out full quilts, using actual fabric swatches. As a web-based tool, it's also always fully up-to-date, to avoid any glitches or software trouble. I have several computers in my house, and in trying the Quilt Design Tool on all of them, it seemed that it ran the best using the Google Chrome browser. It's also fully PC and Mac friendly, since it's web-based!


One of the nice features of the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool is that you can try before you buy. There is a "lite" version that's available to everyone with a Threadbias account, which is absolutely free. You can try all of the features of the Quilt Design Tool out, with a 9" x 9" workspace. You cannot save your design in "lite" mode, but you can get a feel for how the tool works before you purchase your monthly subscription to the tool. Subscriptions are only $10 a month, and can be cancelled at any time - even after cancellation, you'll still be able to view the designs you've created during your subscription, you just won't be able to alter them.

If you'd like to see more of what you can create with the Quilt Design Tool, you can watch this demo video Threadbias shared at QuiltCon or check out the series of video tutorials, created by Alex from Threadbias.



And because this is a blog hop about a quilt design tool, I've created a new block tutorial for you guys! This block was super easy to put together in the Quilt Design Tool, using some simple shapes and filling them with fun fabrics in my stash. 

Are you ready for the block tutorial? I'm calling this block the Cross Maze, and I definitely see myself making a full quilt with this block soon. I hope you enjoy it! And as always, if you use this tutorial, I'd love to see your work in my Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy Flickr group, or my new Threadbias group by the same name!


IMG_4866rt2

Cross Maze Block Tutorial

18" finished block
All seams are a scant ¼” unless otherwise noted


CUTTING:
white text print:
(2) 1 ½” x 18 ½”
(2) 1 ½” x 16 ½”

(4) 1 ½” x 2 ½”

(4) 1 ½” x 3 ½”

(2) 1 ½” x 4 ½”

(4) 1 ½” x 5 ½”
(4) 1 ½” x 6 ½”


dark blue:

(4) 2 ½”


teal:
(4) 2 ½” x 5 ½”
(4) 2 ½” x 4 ½”
(4) 2 ½” x 3 ½”

fuchsia:
(1) 4 ½” x 12 ½”
(2) 3 ½” x 4 ½”

ASSEMBLY:
This block is put together in three simple units: A, B, and C.

Unit A
1. Align the raw edges, right sides together, of one teal 2 ½” x 3 ½” rectangle and one 1 ½” x 3 ½” white rectangle. Join and press seams open.

2. Next, join one 1 ½” x 2 ½” white rectangle with one dark blue 2 ½” square. Join the teal/white unit with the white/dark blue unit and press seams open.


  

3. Align the bottom raw edges of one 2 ½” x 5 ½” teal rectangle, right sides together, with the top raw edge of the patchwork unit you just created. Sew together, and press seams open.


4. Align one 1 ½” x 5 ½” white rectangle with the right side of the patchwork, right sides together, and sew together. Press seams open.


5. Finally, sew one 1 ½” x 6 ½” white rectangle to the bottom of this patchwork unit and press well. Repeat to create a total of four A units.






Unit B
1. Join a teal 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle, right sides together, with a white 1 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle. Press seams open.

2. Next, align a pink 3 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle with the remaining long raw edge of the white rectangle and join. Press seams open and repeat to make a total of two B units.






Unit C
1. Take the center piece of your block, the 4 ½” x 12 ½” pink piece, and sew
one 2 ½” x 4 ½” teal to both short ends of the rectangle
. Press seams open.




PUTTING THE BLOCK TOGETHER:
1. Begin by laying out your four unit As, two unit Bs, and one unit C as shown below.



2. Join each A unit to a B unit, then join an additional A unit on the to the opposite side of the B unit. Press seams open as you go. Repeat for the other side of the block.

3. Join an A/B/A unit to the right side of Unit C, and press seams open. Repeat on with the remaining A/B/A unit and press seams open.




4. Finally, join the shorter set of white borders to the top and bottom of the block, followed by the longer white borders on the sides. Press seams open and ta da! A finished block!


And you can find more block tutorials and reviews of the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool at the following blogs over the next two weeks:

Monday, March 25 - Freshly Pieced
Tuesday, March 26 - Don't Call Me Betsy
Wednesday, March 27 - Generation Q Magazine
Thursday, March 28 - The Sometimes Crafter
Friday, March 29 - Diary of a Quilter
Monday, April 1 - Swim, Bike, Quilt 
Tuesday, April 2 - Fresh Lemons
Wednesday, April 3 - West Coast Crafty
Thursday, April 4 - Sew, Mama, Sew!
Friday, April 5 - Alison Glass
Saturday, April 6 - Pink Castle Fabrics

Sunday, April 7 - Ellison Lane Quilts

Still reading? Good for you, because Threadbias is giving away a one-month subscription to the Quilt Design Tool to one lucky reader! You must have a Threadbias account to win, and if you don't have an account already, you can click here to start one. If you already have a subscription to the Quilt Design Tool, you're still eligible to enter - you would receive an additional month for free if you win. To enter, leave a comment here before midnight on Thursday, and a winner will be drawn Friday morning! THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
Friday, March 22, 2013

A little feather for Friday

I'm working on a few projects I can't share at the moment, which is both exciting and infuriating all at the same time. My To Sew list seems to multiply every time I have these kinds of projects that I can't show on my blog, so yesterday I sat down and decided to sew for fun. I pulled together some of my favorite Anna Maria Horner scraps, and put together a little feather, AMH style, using her feather bed pattern.

A fun feather

I paired the AMH scraps with a nice mostly low-volume print from Art Gallery's new Urban Mod collection, and I think I'm going to turn it into a little zipper pouch. It's a good size for keeping one of my English paper piecing projects in, with room for scissors and all of those other necessary goodies.

I'm off to teach my Beginning Free Motion Quilting class this morning at Inspire Quilting & Sewing this morning. How are you spending your Friday? Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meet My Juki TL98Q

Today I'm participating in a fun week-long blog hop, hosted by Sew at Home Mummy and The Tilted Quilt, called Meet My Machine. If you're thinking about buying a new sewing machine, this blog hop is a perfect way for you to get up close and personal with many, many different kinds of machines and find a good fit for you.

My Juki TL98Q

I'm excited to finally sit down and write about my new-to-me Juki TL98Q. I found this machine on Craig's List back in December, after reading for the last several years about the awesomeness that is this semi-industrial sewing machine. I bought it from the previous owner after doing a thorough test drive and falling in love with it.

Juki TL98Q Pros:

This machine is fast. No doubt about it. Faster than any other machine I've owned or test drove. And because of that speed, it sounds a bit noisy, perhaps a bit industrial. Very much like the machines you see on Project Runway, actually, which I don't mind a bit. The thread cutter, which is located on the foot pedal, is also a bit noisy, but I actually like that - so that I notice if I accidentally tap that part of the foot pedal! By the way, having the thread cutter on the foot pedal is positively genius. All sewing machines should have this feature!

Love this foot pedal

The Juki is also super sturdy. The body and exterior is die-cast aluminum, as opposed to the plastic bodied machines that we're all so used to, so it feels like it could last forever. It's a mechanical straight-stitch machine, so no fancy computerized stitches or computer to deal with. As a result, this machine does an amazing straight stitch. Even the sewing feet are metal, including the compensating 1/4" foot. Because of all of that metal, it is hefty to lug around, but it's do-able.

This machine did come with a knee lift, so far, I haven't really used it. I do know that lots of Juki owners love the knee lift, it's just something I haven't tried out yet. I keep meaning to when I free-motion, and just keep forgetting to attach it.

Oiling the Juki is definitely necessary, and I try to do it every day that I sew on it. Fortunately, the oil is clear and I haven't had any leakage, but I make sure to sew on a test scrap for at least a few minutes after oiling the machine, just in case.

Oiling

While the machine is semi-industrial, it does take standard sewing machine needles. So far, I've used mostly 90/20 Sharps and 100/16 topstitch needles (for my FMQ journey on this machine, see my post here) on it without any problems. The previous owner of the machine said that I needed to use Organ needles, but I have not found that to be true. I've used Schmetz and Klasse needles, without any trouble, and one Organ needle, which caused a great deal of thread breakage. I've also found that the machine isn't particularly picky about thread, as I've used Aurifil and Gutermann on it without issue. I prefer to piece with the Aurifil, and the machine has a shelf on the back to set large cones, so that works great for my huge Aurifil cones.

Rocking a full cone of Aurifil

Free motion quilting on this machine is beautiful. I use a Sew Steady extension table and a Topstitch 100/16 Needle and just go to town with it. The large throat space makes quilting large projects a breeze, and it's got a needle up/down feature as well so I can make sure that every time I let up on the foot pedal, the needle stops in the down position.

Needle up/down button - so necessary!

Being a mechanical machine, the Juki is also the kind of machine that you can open and see every inch of. It even came with a repair manual! I feel confident after I clean out the lint from my Juki because I can see and get to all of the places the lint could pile up, unlike on my Husqvarna Viking Sapphire.

Yay, a service and repair manual!

Juki TL98Q Cons:

The only real con that comes to mind with this machine is the lack of light - I do wish there was more light on the machine, but that's easily fixed by adding something like Mighty Bright Sewing Machine Light, which is quite inexpensive and easy to install. I also use my OttLite Desk Lamp to add some extra light to my workspace.

I'm still getting used to using a side loading bobbin, and I often have to dig out the manual to make sure I thread the bobbin properly and load it correctly. This isn't really a con, more that it's a challenge for me, since this is the first side-loading bobbin machine I've owned. It's getting easier, and I'm sure it will become old hat soon enough.

Side loading bobbin

For those of you who are familiar with my other machine, the Husvqvarna Viking Sapphire 835, I do still own it. And I do still use it, from time to time, but the Juki has become my primary machine. All in all, I love my Juki. Piecing on her is easy and accurate, and if I had to do it all over again, I would definitely buy it again! I use it nearly every day, and more than that, I thoroughly enjoy sewing with it.

The Tilted Quilt meet My Machine Linky Party


Not only can you link up your own machine post right here as a part of this blog hop, but you can read more machine feedback throughout this blog hop at the following blogs:

SUNDAY, MARCH 17

MONDAY, MARCH 18

TUESDAY, MARCH 19

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20

THURSDAY, MARCH 21

FRIDAY, MARCH 22
Monday, March 18, 2013

A quilty kind of weekend

Monday again already? How is it that the weekend is over already?!

Olivia trying out my favorite longarm of the day, the Juki

It was a busy weekend, but a good one, and even a quilty one for the most part. I spent Saturday visiting some local quilt shops and attending the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo in sort of nearby Lakeland. It was an interesting trip. Most of the booths were comprised of local quilt shops and machine vendors, with some random vendors, like an exercise booth and a hand lotion booth. I went with Olivia, a friend from the Tampa Modern Quilt Guild, and we had a good time, trying out longarm machines and poking through fabric booths trying to find modern goodies, which were tough to find. I even fell in love with the Juki TL-2200QVP Quilt Virtuoso Pro, a gorgeous longarm machine, but alas, I have no room for such a fun toy.

Fabric @ Original Sewing Expo in Lakeland
 
I did luck out and find a yard bundle of one of my favorite lines of all time, MoMo's It's a Hoot. Snapped that right up as soon as I found it! I also picked up a few extra FriXion pens. Have you tried those before? They're a standard office supply pen that you can find at Staples, Office Depot, and the like that is erasable, and disappears when an iron is applied. They're great for marking HSTs and such!

My haul from the Original Sewing Expo in Lakeland

We saw a few cool product demos, like this bias binding ruler by TQM that makes bias binding take a bit less brain power. The ruler even folded up in the middle, which I thought was pretty cool. There was a other ruler, also by TQM, in the same booth that helped you join the two tails of binding after you've sewn the rest on, and that was awfully tempting.

Binding tool @ Original Sewing Expo in Lakeland

We also managed to get clobbered by chicken feathers. Literally. After the expo, we went to a few local quilt shops, and on our way to one of them, we wound up behind a chicken truck.

What the??? What's all that flying white stuff?

At first, we had no idea what was on the truck, only that little white pieces were flying off the truck at us. Then at a stoplight, we were able to get close enough to see the poor little chickens all caged up on the truck. It was definitely a hilarious sight to see.

OMG, it's chickens!

I spent the rest of the weekend starting on a new pouch for the upcoming Stash Bash sewing retreat next month (still a few tickets available right here), using a new star for the Lucky Stars BOM, but way tinier. This little guy is going to be 3" finished. Can't wait to finish this little pouch up this week! Have a great day today :)

Doing some teeny tiny #paperpiecing tonight for the #stashbash pouch swap!

Charm Madness begins tomorrow!


Tomorrow kicks off the Charm Madness Blog Hop! Tutorials, a linky, giveaways, and  prizes, all hosted by the fine folks at Sew Lux Fabrics. You'll find updated links to all the posts as the blog hop progresses over the next three weeks right here. Giveaways will be happening on Sundays at the Sew Lux blog, where you'll also be able to link up your own project made using charm squares later this month. If you're in need of some charm squares, you can save 10% on all charm packs and mini charm packs now through 3/22 at sewluxfabric.com.  Discount will be automatically applied at checkout, no coupon code needed.



Charm Madness at Sew Lux Fabric


The Charm Madness Blog Hop Participants & Schedule

Tuesday 3/19 - Jennie at Clover & Violet
Wednesday, 3/20 - Jess at Sew Crafty Jess
Thursday, 3/21 - Rhonda at Quilter in the Gap
Friday, 3/22 - Jenelle at Echinops &Aster
Sunday, 3/24 - Week 1 Giveaway Post


Tuesday, 3/26 - Lori at Lori H Designs
Wednesday, 3/27 - Kelsey at Kelsey Sews
Thursday, 3/28 - Lindsay at CraftBuds/LindsaySews
Friday - 3/29 - Jennifer at That Girl, ThatQuilt
Saturday, 3/30 - Stacey at The Tilted Quilt
Sunday, 3/31 - Week 2 Giveaway Post


Monday, 4/1 - Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts 
Tuesday, 4/2 - Wendi at prsd4tim2
Wednesday, 4/3 - Elizabeth at Don't Call Me Betsy
Thursday, 4/4 - Ginny at Fish Creek Studio
Saturday, 4/6 - Leona at Leona's Quilting Adventure
Sunday, 4/7 - Week 3 Giveaway Post

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bummed About Google Reader

I'm sure you've all heard the news about Google closing down Google Reader in a few short months. Like many of you, Google Reader has been a daily part of my life for several years now, so to say that I'm bothered by this news is probably an understatement. Given the amount of negative feedback I've been reading all over the Internet this week, it's entirely possible that Google may reverse their decision, but it's probably highly unlikely.

There are lots of other RSS readers and other methods you can use to follow blogs, but I always found Reader to be the cleanest and easiest to use. I'm in the midst of testing out both Bloglovin and Feedly, two different RSS readers that have been recommended to me by various tech-y friends, as my new Reader replacement. Below you'll find screenshots from both services, in case you haven't checked them out. I'll keep you posted on my thoughts on the two of them, and if you try one of them, or some other RSS reader, I'd love to hear about your thoughts. Happy St. Patrick's Day :)



Friday, March 15, 2013

FMQ Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks

I've spent the last few weeks dealing with FMQ headaches, as I get to know my Juki better. I've been teaching free-motion quilting now for several months, and have dealt with FMQ troubleshooting on lots of different brands, but this was my first Juki, so it's been a little bit of a challenge. Admittedly, my Viking Sapphire was extremely easy to free-motion on - turn it on, put the proper foot on and go, basically, but the Juki has taken a bit more tweaking. One of the things I hear most often in my free motion quilting classes is that the most challenging parts of FMQ is troubleshooting tension problems, so I wanted to share with you some of my tips and tricks to help you find the right settings on your machine for FMQ...

Cathedral Windows FMQ

Free Motion Quilting Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks
So you're free-motioning, and things are going well at first...until blam - a skipped stitch! Or blam - thread breakage! What do you do? Follow these tips and tricks below and I feel sure you will find the answer to your problem.

1. Change your needle. If it's been on there a while, it may be worn out. More often than not, a new needle will fix things up for you. Free-motion quilting puts a lot of stress on your needle, and it's more prone to bend or warp during free-motion quilting than when piecing. I try my best to remember to start each free motion project with a fresh needle.

2. Cut both your bobbin and top threads and rethread both. Dig out your manual for this one, and follow the directions step by step. One of my FMQ students had been using her machine for over ten years, and threading it improperly all along!

Wiggle FMQ


3. Clean out your machine. Take out your bobbin and clean the bobbin case throroughly. Keep your eyes peeled for stray threads, too. Use a tweezer to grab any stray threads you find.

4. Try a bigger needle - your needle may be too small for this. Ultimately, this has been the biggest solution with my Juki. I'm now using a Topstitch 100/16 Needle for FMQ on the Juki, which seems to work best. It has a much larger eye than the 90/20 needle that I use on my Sapphire for FMQ, so experiment with your machine to find what works best. Bigger needles, in general, are more rigid and will resist bending, even when FMQ'ing, and the needle bending is what most often causes skipped stitches and broken threads.

Sharp vs Topstich Needle


5. Can you adjust the pressure of the presser foot? It may be too strong/high. On the Juki, my presser foot pressure guide looks about like so...

6. Give it some gas. If your motor (and therefore your needle) is moving too slowly, it can create additional pressure on the needle, often causing thread breakage or skipped stitches. Try to keep your speed nice and even, at a medium to fast pace, to keep your stitches even and your needle nice and sturdy.

7. What kind of thread are you using? Some machines just don't like certain brands of thread. I've found so far that my Sapphire despises Superior threads and the Juki doesn't like Coats & Clark threads. Each machine is different, so try other brands. The one thread brand that I can't recall hearing anyone say their machine doesn't like is Aurifil, so you may want to give that a try.

Mixed FMQ


8. Set your stitch length to zero. Many machines don't need this in order to FMQ properly, but if you're still having trouble after all of the other steps, give this a try.

9. Make sure your needle and foot are installed properly. Double-check that your needle is fully screwed in and that your free motion foot of choice is installed accurately. I once had a student using a spring-loaded open toe foot who had stitch problems until we realized that the needle rest was not sitting on the needle screw as it should be. Once we reinstalled the foot properly, all was well!

10. Try lowering your top thread tension. Is your top thread breaking? If you've already followed the steps above, it's possible your thread tension may be too tight. Try lowering the tension.

If all else fails, take your machine in to a dealer for a full cleaning - it's possible that your machine may need to have the timing adjusted if all of these tips have failed you. Make sure to tell your dealer what's going wrong and what you've done to try to solve the problem.

By the way, if you're in the Tampa area, I'll actually be teaching my Beginning Free Motion Quilting class at Inspire Quilting & Sewing next Friday, and there are still a few seats available, so if you're new to free motioning or feel like you need help, I'd love to see you there! Have a great weekend :)
 hello

Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy six year old boy and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?

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