Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quilting -- Crafting A Better You!

Quilting/sewing/crafting can actually make one a better person!  Consider how this is so.

Recently, I decided that this tote bag needed a zipper closure instead of button and loop closure, since that would make it more practical to use.

The tote bag was completely finished.  To add a zipper would entail ripping out seams in the lining, and other tedious tasks.

It would requires patience, persistence, and determination........

These qualities also help a person deal with many situations in life in a positive manner. 

Who of us couldn't use more patience from time to time?  A patient person is a pleasure to be around.  So our relationships flourish.

To be able to persist in doing something of value, despite obstacles, results in confidence in oneself.  Self- confidence contributes to success in many areas of life.

Determination to stick to a course we know is beneficial, allows us to accomplish much good for others and ourselves.

Many other good qualities are strengthened by quilting/sewing/crafting.  Can you think of a few?

Here is the tote bag redesigned with a zipper closure.  Much better don't you think?  And my patience, persistence and determination has improved too.

So they next time you are faced with one of those oh-so-tedious sewing tasks, remember you are are building valuable life skills as you do it!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I Need a Bigger Sewing Room!

"I need a bigger sewing room/area!"  How many of you quilters/sewers have ever said this?

The last couple of days have been spent digging through my fabric stash.  

Before beginning this stash review, there were already three or four quilt idea "piles" of fabric, one quilt semi-started, and another finished quilt top pinned onto the design wall,  waiting to be quilted.

Now there is no surface without fabric on it!

There are so many ideas for quilts running around in my head, I can't decide where to start.  If only I had more room, to make working on multiple projects at once easier!


Maybe more room isn't a good thing.  There would just be more projects on the go at once.  

Maybe I just need to get at finishing what is started first? 

OK.  I can do that.......I'll just keep one or two of these fresh quilt idea "piles" over here .....don't want to forget my idea!......

If you need me, you know where I'll be..........

Friday, February 6, 2015

5 Fabric Quilts -- A Great Technique!

Quilters love techniques that, though simple, produce stunning results.

Recently I discovered this book at my local library.

The title alone is intriguing.  Only 5 fabrics?  And the quilt won't be boring? This merited looking into. 

The book reveals Kathy Brown's easy, yet foolproof way to make interesting quilts using only 5 fabrics. 

After observing and assisting many women trying to choose fabrics, Kathy was led to the conclusion, that choosing more than 5 coordinating fabrics becomes overwhelming for most people.

Her method of using just 5 fabrics in one quilt, eliminates the need to choose many fabrics for one quilt. (She does at times use an additional fabric for sashing etc.)
 Take a look at some of the quilts she has designed using just 5 fabrics.  

                                                            Terrific aren't they!

Here is the first quilt top I pieced from one pattern in this book.  I made mine slightly bigger by adding one more row to the length.  I love it.  Fun, Retro, Upbeat!

I have a second quilt top on the go from Kathy's book.  Different pattern this time.  Can't wait to see how it looks finished!

By the time one makes a couple of quilts from this book, you begin to understand how you could use this technique to design your own 5 fabric quilts.

So, pick up this book from your library or elsewhere and discover another great quilting technique! You will have beautiful, complex looking quilts done in no time flat!

Note: Kathy has a follow up book out entitled More Take 5 Quilts which you will enjoy also.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Colour, colour, everywhere.

One of the great appeals of quilt making is working with colours.

Some colours lift our spirits.  Cheerful yellows.  Spicy oranges.  Tangy greens.

Others calm and soothe us.  Soft greens.  Creamy neutrals.  Baby blues.

Chocolate browns,  deep grays, and navy blues make us feel grounded and steady.

Pure white refreshes.

Pinks contributes to a youthful feeling.

Turquoise, teals, and deep purples inspire feelings of an inner richesness.

Reds energize us.

Are there certain colours that you prefer to work with?  Do they inspire specific feelings for you?

Working with such an unending source of colour is a pure delight.  Is it any wonder then that quilt making becomes addictive?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rags to Riches -- The Gemma Bag

Meet the Gemma Bag:   The newest creation from Seaside Studio Quilts.

Gemma was born in a thrift store.  She began as just another leftover scrap of upholstery fabric.  Despite her small size, her beauty caught my eye.  So she promptly came home with me.

I had big plans for this little gem!

Gemma's transformation entailed a few more trips to the thrift store.  Eventually, I had gathered all that was needed.  Now the creative process began in earnest.

First, I resized and tweaked a pattern until it fit Gemma's proportions and matched the form I wanted.  Of course, this pattern had been a previous thrift store find!

A lustrous quilted lining was created from a lovely sateen sheet, another treasure pick up from the thrift store.

A high quality shoulder strap that matched beautifully, just happened to show up at the thrift store too! 

Coordinating zippers too, were sourced at that wonderful thrift store.

The only part of Gemma's transformation that was not from the thrift store was the interfacing used to give her some structure, batting leftovers used in the quilted lining and thread.

Gemma is now having her debut introduction on Etsy, at Seaside Studio Quilts.

The Gemma Bag!  A true life rags to riches story!
Large Zippered Pocket Inside

Top Zipper Opening

Two More Pockets Inside

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Walking Foot Wonders

We all love tools that make quilting/sewing easier.  An immensely helpful tool, that is sometimes overlooked, is the walking foot attachment for the sewing machine. ( It also may be called the even feed foot/attachment).

Walking foot attachment
 This is what it looks like.

 It attaches to the sewing machine in place of the regular  foot.  Notice the little slots in the foot, and the "grippers" above them.  These will grip the fabric thru the slots and move it along, at the same time as the feed dogs below the fabric do likewise.

"grippers" in down position- will grip the fabric thru slot in the foot

What is so wonderful about this?  When the fabric is pulled along from both the top and the bottom it means there is no shifting between layers.  No shifting between fabric layers means more precise piecing and quilting.  Gone is the frustration of uneven seams.  No more bunching of the top fabric while quilting layers.  Added to this is the ease of sewing; it's as if the fabric moves along by itself without needing much guidance.

So now you may be thinking, "that's great for seams and straight line quilting but what about curves?".
The walking foot is also great on gentle curves.  So the possibilities for quilting designs is not limited to straight lines only.
This baptist fan quilting was done using a walking foot.

Why not give this little wonder a try yourself?  You'll be impressed with how it makes your sewing/quilting easier!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Quilt Batting - Waste Not, Want Not

Quilt batting can get expensive!  Yet every quilt has to have it.  Is there a way to cut the expense of batting?

Here is one way to do so.

Find a batting that you really like.  One that will work for most of the type of quilts you will make.  Then, always buy that batting.  Then you will be able to piece batting leftovers together to use in quilts.

It's not hard to do, and works just as well in a quilt, provided a few sensible guidelines are followed.

Here is my method.  Butt the two batting pieces together snugly but with no overlap. Join them by machine using a large zigzag stitch and thread the color of the batting.

When selecting the batting pieces to join, it 's best to use the least amount of pieces possible.  So try a few layouts with your leftover pieces to get the best combination for the quilt it is for. Take into consideration how you plan to quilt it.  Do your best to place the joining seams in areas where the quilting will reinforce it. Also check to make sure any joining seams will not show thru the fabric on the right side.

From a queen size batting, it's possible to make a large quilt and a baby/toddler quilt.  Only the baby quilt needs piecing and usually only two large pieces joined are enough.

What about all those really small/thin strips of batting leftovers?

Join them together to make a practice size batting piece.  When you want to try out new quilting designs or methods use this as the batting in the practice sandwich.

Those longer strips of leftover batting are great to use in other craft projects too.  For example tote bag handles.  Use the strips instead of interfacing to get sturdy yet supple, soft handles.

What other waste not, want not tips/ideas do you use in quilting?  I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Seminole Patchwork - Simple yet Ingenious

Mention patchwork and most people think of the early pioneers of America.  But patchwork patterns were also explored by Native Americans.   For example, the Seminole and Miccosukee Native American people in the Florida region.

It is not known exactly when this style of patchwork came into use by the Seminole and Miccosukee people.  Some facts are clear though.   Seminole patchwork was a machine technique from its birth, being created on hand-cranked sewing machines obtained from traders as early as the 1880's.  The fabric for the patchwork was also obtained from traders.

In the 1920's and for the following two decades, Seminole patchwork exploded in creativity, resulting in a wonderful array of variations. It was mainly used to decorate clothing.

Seminole patchwork is an ingenious method.  Simple yet with unlimited possible variations.

Here is the basic principle of Seminole Patchwork.  Strips of fabric are sewn together.  The strips are cut into pieces and then sewn together in an offset position.  The long, raw edges of the band thus created are covered with thin fabric strips.  These bands of patchwork can then be used to decorate any item one chooses.  

Imagine the ways to use this patchwork technique.  On clothing, pillows, quilts, potholders, tote bags etc. etc.

Quilters love to explore new piecing techniques.  Seminole patchwork is a great one to consider trying your hand at.

A thorough reference guide to Seminole patchwork available here:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Beach tote DIY

A friend of mine is going to Mexico during spring break.  She wants to make a beach tote and found a great tutorial on line for a reversible one. It makes a very large tote bag.

When it came to figuring out how to resize it smaller my friend called on me for some help.  This is what we came up with. 

Cut the two pieces of fabric 15" wide x 27 1/2" L.    The corner square at 2" .  These measurements make a bag about 11" high x 13 1/2" across at top of bag,  4" wide.  Just a good size for a novel, sunscreen, water bottle and snacks. 

Since we weren't using heavy decor fabric, we interlined it with sturdy muslin.  Just cut the muslin to the same size as the two fabrics, put it on the wrong side of lining fabric and proceed like it is just one piece of fabric.

Here is the one I made using reclaimed vintage sheet material ( The pink floral ),  and a cheerful, lightweight twill stripe fabric.

My friend is using the same twill but with a different second fabric.  Her choice of color combination is very elegant!  See how these go together so great.

DIY fun is even better when shared with a friend. 

What is your favorite size of tote bag? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Unleash YOUR creative talents!

All quilters have creative talents.  It just goes with the territory of the art of quilting.  Unfortunately, some quilters don't think they are very creative. How can every quilter "unleash" their creative talent?

Now days there are so many beautiful fabric collections from fabulous designers, each with a pattern or two for their line of fabric.  We may drool over these luscious fabrics and desire to recreate that quilt shown.  That's fine.  Do it once in a while.  But doing so all the time may actually be stunting our own creativity!!

Creativity is like a muscle.  The more it's used the stronger it gets.  The stronger it gets the more confidence one has in using it.  So how does one strengthen their creativity?  By using it.

Here is one way to "unleash" YOUR creativity.  Use only a few fabrics from that collection you love.  Let them be your creative jump off point.  Look thru your fabric stash to see what goes with those fabrics.  Try not to limit yourself to fabrics similar to what you saw in the store.  Try even fabrics you may not at first think would look good together.  Here is where reclaimed sheet fabric comes in. Throw some of it in the mix.  You may be surprised at what fabulous ideas come out of seeing all these fabrics piled together!

If it seems over-whelming, eliminate some fabrics.  Go with the combinations YOU really love.  Then, pick a pattern if you haven't already, and just do it!

Remember it's YOUR creativity.  Use it and it will get better and better.  You will become more and more confident doing quilts your way.  And your enjoyment of quilting will grow along with your creativity.

So now, go unleash YOUR creativity!