Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer” and A Busy Week

I have a number of pieces of antique furniture, as much out of obligation as desire. These belonged to my grandparents, great-grandparents, and in one case to my great-great-grandmother. One of them contains Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer”.

Granny once commented on it, saying that whenever her sister, Bess, had a sewing project that “fizzled”, the project went into that drawer. I’m not sure what happened after that. This would have been in the early part of the 20th Century, but I don’t even know whether the “fizzle” items were clothing or something else.  By the time I inherited the furniture they were long gone!

I think some of my UFOs probably should go in the “fizzle drawer”, but I don’t know when to quit, so I keep working on them.  This next one was a class I did not especially enjoy, but I’ve converted it to 4 large blocks to be combined into a donation quilt.

This next one is not a fizzle, it’s a set of place mats I made for a quick holiday class to teach this fall.  I developed this pattern YEARS ago for McCall’s Quick Quilts and have made many versions of it since.  Place mats are a nice hostess gift to have on hand.

We went to the “apple barn” this weekend and got some apples–must be fall!  Here is the view from the apple barn, looking across some trees heavy with red apples to the mountains beyond.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

How was your week?

Ironing Spray

I’m a big fan of Mary Ellen’s Best Press because it does a great job of getting out wrinkles and smoothing fabric without leaving flakes like starch can do. I recently tried Flatter and found that it works just as well.

I’m also a fan of Pinterest and recently found a recipe for “Quilter’s Moonshine” ironing spray. The original post, by Joanne Hubbard, gives the recipe here.  So off I went to the liquor store to buy the cheapest vodka I could find.  I guess if your quilt isn’t turning out you can drink your ironing spray 😀

Another ingredient in the Quilter’s Moonshine is liquid starch, so I went looking for that, as well.  Not, of course, at the liquor store.  The only starch I’ve seen in years was in a pressurized spray can, but sure enough, there was actual liquid starch in a spray bottle at the grocery store.  They also had powdered starch that had to be mixed with water, but I passed on that.

To my surprise, I found another ironing spray right there on the shelf in the grocery store!  I’ve tried it now and it works really well.  My only objection is that it has a strong scent.  Not unpleasant, but not something I really want to smell all day, either.

Finally the ingredients were assembled!  The recipe makes over a gallon, so I cut it in half.  I used a funnel to get it into the best empty spray bottles I found around the house, and voila!  Ironing spray!  It worked just fine and the faint scent was not a problem.

So check out the link to Joanne Hubbard’s blog and give it a try!

 

Fun with Rickrack

Or ricrac, or rick rack, whatever. I found a lot of spellings when I was trying to decide!

This fun way to piece curves was part of a class I taught this past weekend, and it was so cute in the blocks the students made that I just had to do a tutorial.

We were piecing quarter circles as part of my quilt YOW, which you’ve already seen:

So here is a partially assembled block with one curved seam left to go:curved piecing tutorial

Select rickrack and lay it along the edge of the convex piece.  Probably would work with the concave piece, too, but I haven’t tried that:rickrack curved piecingSew the rickrack down with the usual 1/4 inch seam

Now turn the raw edge and attached rickrack to the back along the 1/4 inch seam and press.  Here’s the front:tutorial use rickrack in quilts

And here’s the back:curved piecing tutorial

Lay the convex piece on top of the concave piece and line up the edges.

Flip over and try to line up the raw edges all along the seam on the back.applique curved blocks

Applique the convex piece to the concave piece by stitching in the ditch.  I used silver metallic thread just for fun, but matching thread works well, of course.  And here’s the finished block.applicurve

Sort of modern-retro.  Go try it!

Road Trip

We recently went to the Southwest to visit family, and of course that required visits to a few quilt shops! I like to visit quilt shops when I travel because I always find something new. All these shops have websites, so I’m embedding links to allow you to visit them, too.

First stop was Thread Bear in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Las Vegas is a nice little town northeast of Albuquerque.  It has interesting architecture for those of us who like to see fun buildings of different eras. We stayed in the oldest hotel in town, on the town square. It was built in the late 1800s.

fabric, thread bear, las vegas NM

Fabric from Thread Bear in Las Vegas, NM

But about the quilt shop: Thread Bear had lots of fun fabric from which to choose!  I limited myself (with some effort) to the two pieces above.

Next was Loveland, Colorado, where Stitches has opened since my last visit to the town. They had lots of lovely modern fabrics, so I had to have a few fat quarters. One of the pinks and the yellow are the same pattern as the purple fabric I got at Thread Bear–that’s always fun 🙂

Fabric from Stitches in Loveland, Colorado

After Loveland, we went on to Albuquerque, NM, which has several quilt shops.  I limited myself to purchases at two of them.  Especially notable, however, was Hip Stitch.  They had so much beautiful fabric (including what looked like the full line of Grunge) that I was in there a looong time (just ask my husband!) trying to limit my selection.  Then when I got to checkout, the clerk helpfully pointed out that they stock postal service flat rate boxes, so I could buy more than I could carry and have it mailed to me!  Oh my, what marketing!  So if you own a quilt shop, take note!  Anyway, here are my fabrics from Hip Stitch (I resisted the urge to buy more and have it shipped):

Hip Stitch albuquerque, nm

Fabric from Hip Stitch in Albuquerque. The red has a silver metallic print that I couldn’t resist.

Next is Albuquerque was Stitchology, where I selected several fat quarters from their nice variety.  They also had lots of lovely fabric for clothing construction, but I stuck to my priorities and did not get drawn back into that!

fabric, stitchology, albuquerque

Fat quarters from Stitchology in Albuquerque

I was able (with a little effort) to fit all my finds into my suitcase.  I do have a project planned for each of these fabrics!  I’m off to the studio now…hope you have a good week!

Another Kind of Sewing

A friend and her dog visited recently, and luckily the friend enjoys cooking and sewing as much as I do, so we had a great time.

Australian Cattle Dog

Michele and Cowboy

Unfortunately, I did NOT get pix of all the yummy food.  However, we did make a cover for Cowboy’s portable crate.

Cowboy is a very talented dog but also a very “reactive” one who is curious about anything he can see.  So his portable crate needed a cover to let him get some rest between trials at the doggie events in which he competes.

Cowboy’s portable crate

Michele had been throwing a 20-year-old fitted sheet over the crate with reasonable result.  However, we made a dee-luxe cover with many fine features 😉

There is a little door at the top for giving treats.

There is a screen in one side where a fan can blow in cool air.  The screen has a flap to cover it when Cowboy needs rest more than he needs a breeze.

And of course there is a big flap over one end of the crate that can be thrown up to let Cowboy in and out.

We enjoyed the many challenges involved in making the crate cover.  Naturally, we had to make a few little bags for ourselves, as well.  A good time was had by all.

Cowboy is an Australian Cattle Dog

Straight Pins: A Brief Review

I’ve used the same straight pins for years because they are smooth, sharp, and a little flexible, with glass heads that don’t melt if you happen to iron over them.  Pins are very important in quilting!  ( As always, I do NOT get payment or product for this review; I’m telling you about these pins because I use them.)

These pins used to come from the Clotilde catalog (IBC stands for “Imported by Clotilde”), but that business was sold to Annie’s Catalog a few years ago.

Recently when I ordered pins I noticed that Dritz also makes silk pins, and they were just a tad cheaper.  I decided to try them.  Here are both boxes of pins:

Those are the Dritz pins on the left, the IBC pins on the right.

The Dritz pins came in a nicer box than the pins from Annie’s.  They might even be better pins if I were sewing on thin, lightweight fabric.  However, they were thinner and even more flexible than the IBC pins, and that made them actually difficult to get through quilting cotton!

There is a larger IBC straight pin for quilting, 1-3/4 inches long!

I don’t like the size of these larger pins, but I expect that for some projects they would be better. For now, I’m sticking with my regular IBC pins.

Any other suggestions for great quilting straight pins?

 

Review: Annie’s Soft and Stable

A while back a bag pattern called for “foam interfacing” and I had NO IDEA what that was. Luckily, the folks at my local quilt shop DID know!  They sold me Annie’s Soft and Stable and it has worked out very well!

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

The bag above was the one that initially required foam interfacing.  I used the foam interfacing again recently, when I made a new version of the Market Tote from Bijou Lovely.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Finished Bird Bag

It worked just as well on the larger bag as it had on the smaller one.  It gives the bag lots of structure with little weight.

The very BEST part was making handles with foam interfacing rather than the usual turn-the-tube method!  I just cut strips of foam interfacing, wrapped them with fabric (turning under the last edge), and sewed three straight lines–one down the middle of the handle to close the fabric and one about 1/4″ from each edge of the handle as decorative top-stitching.  It made comfortable, sturdy handles for the bag. Definitely making handles that way in the future!

There are several other brands of foam interfacing, including a couple (from the reliable Pellon company) that are fusible.  It also comes in more than one thickness.  I haven’t really tried any of the other brands, but this one worked out well.

Giving Kraft-Tex a (Second) Chance

I made a couple of bags using Kraft-Tex for a sturdy bottom section a while back, and wasn’t that happy with it.  My review is here, if you want to read it.

Kraft-Tex review

Tote bag made with Kraft-Tex for the bottom section

However, when I got some lovely bird fabric in a guild swap, I decided to make another tote bag and use Kraft-Tex to protect the bottom again. I pre-washed the Kraft-Tex to soften it a little, then crumpled it in my hands to soften it a little more.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Since I didn’t really want the thick Kraft-Tex in the seams, the shortage worked out OK

I had BARELY enough for a shorter-than-recommended bottom section, but it worked out fine.  I used the same pattern as before, the Market Tote which is free at Bijou Lovely.

Market Tote from Bijou LovelyAs you can see, I had some beautiful birds-in-the-grass fabric (a Moda print) for the inside.

Kraft-Tex for tote bagI used a buttonhole stitch to secure the top edge of the Kraft-Tex.  Overall, the Kraft-Tex was much easier to use this time.  It makes a sturdy bottom for the bag, is washable, and presumably will wear better than a plain fabric bottom.

As before, the Market Bag tutorial was very well done and easy to follow.  The only change I made was to revise the way the bottom was attached so that I didn’t have Kraft-Tex in the seams; that would have been quite bulky.  I laid the Kraft-Tex on the top fabric and secured the edges with buttonhole stitch just inside the seamline, so it wasn’t necessary to have Kraft-Tex in the seams to hold it in place.  That worked a lot better.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Finished Bird Bag

In other words, I am now revising my opinion of Kraft-Tex and probably will use it for this purpose again!  It still does’t really look like leather to me, but in this case that isn’t the point.

A Cute Apron and a Pattern Review

Kitchen apron

Photo courtesy of Indygo Junction

My husband recently discarded some shirts, so I was interested to see this “Kitchen Shirt Tales” pattern from Indygo Junction.

It looked pretty simple, and I’ve made dozens of aprons over the years, but I decided it was worth the money to buy the pattern rather than having to figure it out on my own.  The pattern was downloadable, which added to the appeal–instant gratification!

I was pleased with the way the apron came out, but only because I abandoned the instructions part way through construction.

The instructions were MUCH too complex for a simple garment like this.  For example, rather than providing a pattern for the garment in different sizes (if, indeed, one needs a choice of sizes for an apron), the instructions were to measure yourself and then derive the cutting lines through a rather complex formula. After figuring out these measurements, you were instructed to draw the curve for cutting out the top by connecting the measurements..  I did get it drawn just fine, but  it would have been so much simpler to just have a pattern piece for cutting out the main body of the apron!

As you can see below, the apron looked just fine on two of my colleagues who are different sizes.

At this point, the instructions became confusing and there were VERY few illustrations.  I usually do pretty well with verbal instructions, but the most commercial patterns have a drawing for each step for a reason.

This pattern would need many, many more drawings to be clear.  I quit the instructions at that point and made the rest up as I went along.

I still think it is a great idea to recycle a shirt into an apron, and this is cute the way it came out.  The pattern, however, could be greatly improved by the addition of a pattern piece for cutting and many additional illustrations.

Finished! In 2016

First, the Christmas tree picture with fireplace was at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, N.C. That fireplace is big enough for a man to stand up in. Hopefully when there’s no fire.

And now, the 2016 finishes.

Asheville Quilt Show

Scan Me, a quilt made to promote safer sex.

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss won a blue ribbon.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler Quilt

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest this year

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

Loes Hinse blouse

Blouse from a Loes Hinse pattern, in Cherrywood fabrics

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks placemats, made in class with Karen Combs

Sweetpea Pod pattern review

These Sweetpea Pod bags were so fun that I made a LOT of them!

And, of course, the quilts for Ronald McDonald House:

Happy new year, and may you have a great year of quilts in 2017!