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?

Place Setting Carrier Revisited

It turns out people in my modern guild read my blog (thanks!).  At the gift exchange last Christmas, one of the most coveted gifts was a place setting carrier for potlucks.  The woman who made it had gotten the idea from one of my blog posts, here.

A place setting carrier is used to bring a plate and flatware from home when attending a potluck so that the waste of paper plates and plastic flatware is avoided.

There is a pattern available on Craftsy (which has changed its name), but she used  this free pattern from the St. Croix International Quilters’ Guild, designed by Joline Cook.  The carrier made for our gift exchange was so popular that the entire guild decided to make carriers for our February meeting!

Since the guild LOVES potlucks, these will be used!  Do be advised that, if you use the free pattern, it takes quite a bit of thinking it through to get it put together correctly.  I’m still not sure mine is the way the instructions intended, but it is functional 🙂

Someone in the guild also suggested tucking a plastic grocery bag in the carrier so that dirty dishes can be transported home without having to wash the carrier, too.

Time for a potluck!

A Travel Sewing Machine

As I was carrying my sewing machine up the steps a few weeks ago, it occurred that the price of repair for my shoulder (if I hurt it, which I haven’t yet) would be a lot more than the price of a lighter sewing machine for travel. Of course, I have a wonderful rolling travel case for the heavy machine, but that case doesn’t do stairs.

I considered for quite a while, since it seems to me that my home already contains enough “things”. I decided that, since I’m planning more sewing travel in the coming year, a lighter machine was worth the investment.  (A little more self-justification: I was the only serious sewist I know who owned only one machine!)

After some research, I settled on a Bernette 33, which is made by Bernina and sold by my Bernina dealer.  It is just what I was looking for:  smaller, lighter, with no computer parts to worry about.

Bernette 33, my new travel companion!

So far it performs just fine.  I’ve mainly used it for piecing, since that is most of what I do when I go to sewing gatherings or teach.  It certainly doesn’t feel as sturdy or sew as smoothly as my Bernina, but I think it is “just right” for travel.  And the price was right, too.

Of course I made it a cover to match the bag that carries its accessories:

This fun fabric came in prints of two sizes, so I had one of each to use

How many sewing machines do you own?

 

Thrift Shop Finds

My friend Tierney occasionally blogs about fabric she’s found in thrift shops and I’m always envious 😉 The good news is that I recently found a new (to me) and really good thrift shop. (Better news: it’s near an excellent bakery. Oops!)

A recent trip yielded 3 flat sheets, all in the same floral print.  They seem to be twin size.

I think they will make wonderful backing for some quilts!  Back in the day before there was much wide fabric available, I usually bought sheets to back my quilts, so this is a great throwback!

On the same trip I found these pewter buttons, which I believe to be good quality because they have detail on the back, not just the front.  I will use them to decorate a quilt at some point.

Oh yes…cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, and cookies 😀

Bag With Kraft-Tex Base

A while back I made a bag for carrying stuff to guild meetings and used some scraps of Kraft-Tex to reinforce the base. I have enjoyed that addition, both because it helps the bag stand up on its own and because I don’t have to worry about putting the bag on the floor.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Then recently I saw this Alexander Henry fabric and of course I was forced to buy it 😉

Alexander Henry fabric showing melodramatic “sewing woes”

I decided to make another tote bag using this tutorial from Bijou Lovely Designs, Holly DeGroot’s blog.  Her tutorial includes the free pattern, so go make it if you want to.  Her instructions and illustrations are excellent.

Here are my modifications for making the base of Kraft-Tex.

Holly’s instructions used the same fabric for the bag lining and the base, so of course I didn’t do that.  I cut the Kraft-Tex base 1/2″ narrower (top to bottom measurement) than Holly’s instructions, because the base on her bag is joined with a 1/4″ seam and then pressed back.  I just appliqued the Kraft-Tex to the bag.  Naturally, that required clips rather than pins–don’t want holes in the Kraft-Tex!

You can see that the fabric wasn’t printed entirely straight; the other side was straighter.  Luckily, this bag is for fun.

You can see my top-stitching here. This is the straighter side 🙂

When it came time to press the seams open, I just folded back the seams that contained Kraft-Tex, then ran the handle of my scissors along the seam to crease the Kraft-Tex into place.

You can also see where I stitched around the edge to hold the Kraft-Tex in place before assembly

The seams were not as bulky as I had anticipated, and gave me no trouble.  The only difficult part was turning the bag right-side-out through the opening in the lining.  The Kraft-Tex was a little stiff for that, but not too bad.

The Kraft-Tex stood up but the bag sides above it drooped

When I got the bag done, the Kraft-Tex part was great, but the rest of the bag was limp despite interfacing.  I took the bag for a shakedown cruise when we went to the big city Saturday, and it was a pain to get things in and out of it because the sides collapsed.  So…

I took out the top seams, inserted pieces of Peltex cut to fit, and stitched all around them.  They needed to overlap the Kraft-Tex a little to make the whole thing stand up.

That makes this “Holly’s bag with significant modifications”, but you can still get the measurements and construction details from her blog.  I like the bag now, and it is a good size.  Next time I’ll use Peltex from the get-go, probably still with the Kraft-Tex.

Snow Day = Sew Day*

*Thanks to the Studio Stitch website for the catchy title!

We recently had enough snow that my office was closed for a day!  My husband built  a wood fire in my studio, and I spent the day getting a few projects DONE.

The tractor was ready to plow us out, but wasn’t needed for the amount of snow we got.

First, I trimmed and bound the Christmas quilt for some very special people.  You’ve seen the top before, but here it is again. It finished 55″ square.

And here is a closeup of the quilting done by Julia Madison.

I went on to make this reversible, cross-back apron, which has been on the bucket list for about a year.  The pattern is from Indygo Junction and was very easy.  Luckily, my friend Sally agreed to model it!

I also made progress on a couple of UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) but pictures of those will have to wait until they’ve been quilted.

Happy holidays to everyone!

A Few Extra Projects

Have you ever noticed that, whenever you try to finish a big project, other little projects just creep in?
Since I always have at least one “big project” going, I guess it’s inevitable that the other things that need doing have to be fit in sideways. Lately there’s been a lot of that.
First, I appliqued an orphan block to a bag for a speaker I invited to our modern guild.

orphan block on bag

This is a great use for orphan blocks. Just attach to a bag, and you have a handmade gift!

Then I found a tutorial for a pyramid bag and had to make a few…plus one more this week!Finally, our travel wine glasses (they are Lexan, and disassemble for safe travel) needed a travel case:In the midst of all this, I started having trouble with my walking foot while trying to quilt another project! Does a walking foot wear out???

In any case, I think I have procrastinated with little projects as long as I can, so I’d better go bind a few quilts.  Have a good week!

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!