Kraft-Tex Tray

The folks at C&T just sent me a package of the beautiful new hand-dyed, prewashed, Kraft-Tex. (Please note that they provide this to me with no obligation and I do not get a kickback if you buy it.  However, if your local quilt shop doesn’t carry it, you can get it directly from C&T here.)

The denim blue called to me first, and I needed a little tray to go beside my machine.  Unless my tools are “corralled” they tend to roll or bounce off the table when I sew.  The fabric tray I’ve been using was looking a little tired (the sides had sort of collapsed) and I thought Kraft-Tex would be a good material for making a sturdier tool tray.

I made a prototype from cardboard first to figure out the best size and shape for my tools.  Here are instructions for making the tray in case you want one, too:

Cut the Kraft-Tex 6-1/2″ x 8″ and mark (with a heat-erasable pen) 1″ in from each side.  Put a #70 needle in the sewing machine, lengthen the stitch a little, and remove the thread.  Stitch around the central rectangle without thread to mark the edges of the tray base and kind of score the Kraft-Tex so it will fold well on those lines.  Fold and press along these lines–it’s fine to fold all the way to the edge even though it wasn’t necessary to sew that far.

This picture was taken later in the process, but you can see where the material was pressed along the fold lines.  You can press either with or without steam; both work fine without distorting the Kraft-Tex.

Select your lining fabric and cut it 1″ bigger than the Kraft-Tex in both length and width; my lining fabric was cut 7-1/2″ x 9″.  Fuse the lining material to some stiff interfacing, then apply Heat’n’Bond or your favorite fusible web to the interfacing.

Once all of that is fused, cut the lining down to 7″ x 8-1/2″ using either a pinking blade in your rotary cutter or your pinking shears.  Or, if you don’t want a decorative edge, just cut the edge straight.  NOTE that if you use a pinking blade in your rotary cutter, you will want to cut on the back side of your cutting mat because the blade can kind of chew up the mat.  Also, the blade will chew up the edge of your ruler, so either use an old ruler or cut about 1/8″ away from the ruler.

Now lay the Kraft-Tex down on the fusible side of the trimmed lining.  Note that Kraft-Tex has a slightly different texture on each side, but there is no “right” side–use the one you like best.  Get everything centered, then turn the decorative edge to the outside and clip it in place with something heatproof. Fuse the edges, then the central part of the lining, to the Kraft-Tex.  Again, you can use steam if it helps.

Now put some thread in the machine!  Sew around the edges of the tray bottom where you previously pressed the sides up.  I marked the edges again with heat-erasable marker to make this easier.  This step will help hold the lining in place.  Edge stitch around the upper edge of the tray as well

Now don’t do what I did 😉  I mistakenly cut out all 4 corners on my first box.  Just cut one side of each corner to create a flap that can be used to hold the box together!

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how the corner will look finished–see the flaps?

Fold and press the box along the stitching lines bordering the bottom.  Fold the flaps in and glue or sew them in place.  I glued them, then sewed a decorative X in each corner.  I used the awl shown in the picture to punch little holes for the needle to go through when I made the X stitches by hand.

And that’s it!  The resulting tray looks plenty sturdy to hold those little tools beside my machine.  And besides, it was fun to make something new!

What have you been up to?

Improvising

I’m doing a trunk show focused on improvisation for the Heart of the Triad Quilt Guild tomorrow–please come if you’re in the North Carolina Triad area. To help me update my talk, this post is focused on some of my favorite ways to improvise in quilting. .

The first time I recall improvising was about 20 years ago when I had scraps left from this quilt (made while we lived near Pennsylvania Amish country):

Amish design quilt

I combined the scraps with yellow and just sewed them together in strips, then blocks, to make a quilt for the friend who helped me choose colors for the Amish quilt.

improv quilt blocks

Improv quilt blocks I made about 10 years ago

Combining scraps from a single project, sometimes with the addition of another fabric for “spark”, remains one of my favorite ways to improvise.  I no longer cut the scraps into strips; I just start sewing.

modern art quilt

Whirlwind, my 2014 Quilt Alliance challenge quilt, finished 20″ x 20″

The quilt above won a judge’s choice award, possibly because some of the pieces in it finish as small as 1/4″.

Another favorite way to improvise a design is by modifying a traditional block.  Sometimes I cut off part of it, sometimes I stretch or distort it, sometimes I scatter the pieces around.  Here are a few examples.

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013, finished 20″ x 20″

Zippy Star by Mary Puckett

Zippy Star I

I have done a number of things with those pesky orphan blocks (blocks left over from previous projects).  I swear they multiply when I’m not looking 😉  One option I like is to cut them into circles and applique them onto a different background:

This also works for quilt tops I don’t like once they are made:  This top

Became this:As a final example, I had a quilt that was quilted, and bound, and I STILL didn’t like it.

This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!

I cut it up into place mats, where it worked out just fine:

Of course, there are many more ways to improvise in quilting.  My plan is to try them ALL!

What are your favorite ways to improvise?