February 21, 2010

Weekend WIPs

things are coming right along with the baby quilt! all of the 9", 6", and 3" squares are cut, layered, and pinned. it took a while to lay them out and figure out which squares work well together and fit next to each other... but it's so fun to watch how much the quilt changes as you move just one little piece!

here's what i finally decided on, although that decision could change at any minute :)

the next step is to piece everything together, starting with the three layered squares. i'll top-stitch each of those, and then piece each of the 9" squares together. quite the process!

once that's done, i'll start on the animal border. i'm thinking i'm going to use some of the leftover colored fabrics to block out the corners of the quilt, and then applique some of the bigger animals (cut from the Noah's Ark Panel) on top. it'll be a good test of my newly-learned skills.

let me know what you think!

February 12, 2010

Quick & Easy Patchwork Coasters Tutorial

As promised, I've put together a short picture heavy tutorial on how to create a set of six patchwork coasters :)

Step 1: Gathering Your Materials

This project doesn't use anything out of the ordinary...

-seamstress's chalk or some type of erasable fabric pen
-a rotary cutter or fabric scissors
-a ruler (I use my quilting square because I'm horrible at gauging a straight line!)
-a cutting board (if you're using a rotary cutter) or a flat surface to measure your fabric on
-a chopstick (which I forgot to include in the picture, hence the bright red, Photoshopped chopstick that is pictured :) )
-5 coordinating fat quarters of fabric

Step 2: Choosing Your Fabrics

You'll need five coordinating pieces of fabric, although you can use up to 10 coordinating pieces, depending on how different you want your coasters to be. I usually try to find fat quarter sets, for two reasons. First of all, they already coordinate and are often from the same designer or line of fabric. Secondly, because we'll be cutting 4.5" squares, an 18"x22" piece of fabric works perfectly and isn't too unwieldy if you have a small cutting surface like I do.

Step 3: Cutting Your Fabrics

Iron your fabrics (and please ignore the wrinkles in mine that give away the fact that I didn't iron mine ;) ) and then place them on your cutting mat or flat surface. You'll be cutting 6 4.5" squares from each of your five pieces of fabric. If you have a 12"x18" cutting mat like I do, arrange the fat quarter so it lines up with the 18" side on your left. Trim any extra edges to square up the fabric according to the measurements on your cutting mat. Take your ruler (or look on your cutting mat) and measure 4.5" from the left side, and draw a straight line from top to bottom. Measure another 4.5" from the left, and draw a straight line 9" up from the bottom, then across the top of your rectangle to meet the adjoining chalk lines.

Cut along these lines, then lay your two pieces flat on your cutting surface again. Measure 4.5" in, and cut, then do the same measuring & cutting three more times until each of your squares measures 4.5".

Do the same with your felt -- cutting 6 4.5" squares total.

Step 4: Coordinating Colors

Your finished coasters will include five different pieces of fabric -- four on the top and one on the bottom. Lay your squares out in such a way that the tops coordinate. I've played around with the different combinations a lot and I lean toward using two of the same fabrics on top and a third on bottom, but as you can see, you can use four different pieces on top as well. I've also used three of the same fabric and one different color that stands out. It all depends on what look you're going for and how your fabrics fit together. When you're done arranging your six coaster tops, you'll have six pieces of fabric left over for the bottoms. Set these aside until after you've ironed the top pieces.

Step 5: Ironing and Arranging

Decide whether you want your coasters tops to be squares or triangles and then start pressing the top pieces of fabric, keeping them in sets according to coaster as you go. If you decide to go the triangular route, be sure to line up the sides of your square as you fold it in half, trimming off any excess fabric as you go.

Once you've pressed all of your top pieces, choose a coordinating fabric from your un-pressed stack to finish off the bottom of the coaster.

Steps 6-9: Layering the Fabrics

You're halfway there :) There aren't any truly "difficult" steps in this project, but this one might be the most confusing, so take a deep breath! Here we go...

Step 6: Place your felt square on a flat surface, and place the coasting backing right-side up on top of the felt. Easy enough, right? :)

Step 7: Place your first triangle (or rectangle) on top of the backing and square it up with the corner(s). Place your second triangle on top of the first, moving counter-clockwise (you'll thank me for this later :) ). Again, square this one up with the corners and the first triangle that's already been placed.

Step 8: Place your third triangle on top of the pile, again moving counter-clockwise. Square this one up with the corners it touches as well as the fabric across from it and make sure they aren't overlapping very much, if at all. You also don't want to have a gap in the center, so if you need to nudge it towards the middle a little bit, go ahead and do this. If you've cut your squares correctly, however... everything should fit perfectly :)

Step 9: Take your last triangle and place it in the last corner. Then lift up the first triangle (or rectangle) you placed, and tuck the final triangle under it (similar to how you would secure a cardboard box without any tape). Square all four pieces of fabric and make sure they're not poking over the sides of the felt, etc.

Repeat steps 6-9 until all of your coasters are set up and ready to sew.

Step 10: Top Stitching

Now is when you'll start to thank me for making you place the triangles/rectangles in a counter-clockwise position. You'll start top-stitching, moving in a clockwise position, and the way you have placed the top pieces will allow you to sew in a smooth fashion, without causing the fabric to fold or catch.

I don't usually pin the layers of each coaster together, but if you're worried about fabrics slipping, feel free to pin as much as needed. Start top-stitching in the center of one side, with a quarter inch seam. When you reach the corner, lower your needle into the fabric, then raise your sewing machine foot and rotate your fabric 90 degrees to line up your fabric and stitch the second side. Continue sewing and turning until you're back to the spot where you started. Stitch about an inch over your initial starting point to secure the threads, then set the coaster aside.

Repeat until all six coasters are top-stitched and secure.

Step 11: Trimming Corners

Trim the corners of your now top-stitched coasters, making sure to not cut the stitches, but to trim just outside of them. Then sit & admire the cute little pile of trimmed corners :)

Step 12: Turning the Coasters

Place the center of your middle finger on the corner you've just trimmed, and your forefinger and ringfinger on either side. Stick your thumb inside the pile of fabric, in between the top and bottom fabrics, and find the inside corner of the fabric. Turn the coasters inside-out and push the corners as far out as possible with your fingers.

Step 13: Squaring it Up

Using your chopstick or another long, thin device like the eraser-end of a pencil, push the corners out to square up the coaster. Be careful to not poke through the stitches, but square it up as much as possible so that your fabric isn't bunched up inside the coaster.

Step 14: Pressing for the Last Time

Press your coasters one last time... pretty self-explanatory ;)

The Finished Product

If you're giving your coasters away, tie them up with a pretty ribbon and send them on their way! If you're keeping them for yourself, enjoy them just as they are. :)

*Note: because these are made with fabric and felt, they can be washed & dried just like any other fabric items! And that, in my mind, is the best thing about them :)

If you make any coasters using this tutorial, I'd love to see them! Happy crafting :)

February 10, 2010

two realizations

i've made two realizations today that, for some reason, i felt were blog-worthy. feel free to correct me if i'm wrong in this assumption ;)

1) after my first experience with fasting post-migraines, i switched to fasting from Starbucks coffee for the 40 day period. a significant sacrifice, since my husband works there (at least through next week he does... then no more opening shifts - woohoo :) ) and we get free coffee. anyways... my realization. after 40 days of not drinking Starbucks, i had it for the first time again this morning, and realized... wait for it... i don't like it anymore! maybe that's for the better, since 1) each drink has an exorbitant amount of calories and sugar, both of which are bad for my diabetes and 2) it means we won't be spending money there once hubby's not working there anymore.

2) this Christmas quilt, while the fabrics are gorgeous and the design is equally beautiful, is going to be a lot of work. and a lot of piecing. and a lot of time. therapeutic, yes, but still... a lot of work. it might be a WIP for a while :)

slowly but surely... :)

February 7, 2010

Weekend WIPs

hi guys :) i'm sure all of you who enjoy crafting are much like me and have gobs of projects in mind... as well as a few (dozen) in progress ;) as of a recent count, including machine sewing projects and cross-stitch projects... i'm up to 8 current works in progress (WIPs) and i thought it was about time that i started blogging some of them :)

two of these WIPs are quilts, and that's what i chose to focus on this weekend. i made an amazing discovery last weekend when i laid out my large cutting mat on our kitchen table, pulled it away from the wall, and realized i could make better use of my living space, which coincides with my crafting space :) Ryan might not be as pleased as I am to lose the use of the "living" side of our kitchen table, namely, you know, eating... but he IS pleased that i'm making good progress on these WIPs, because he thinks that it will diminish my pile of projects. that, of course, implies that i won't start more in the meantime ;)

in any case, the first of the two quilts is based on the filmstrip quilt from CrazyMomQuilts. it's a Christmas quilt, so potentially i have plenty of time to finish it before next Christmas ;)

i'm in love with this fabric i found for the back of the quilt. it's got a vintage feel to it while still being current enough to fit with the other fabrics. so fun :) i'm planning to make it a double-quilt and put a few of the patchwork film squares on the back as well. i've just started piecing squares together but i'm learning as i go! i'm sure it's going to change as i go, but it's going to be fun to see what happens.

the second quilt is a baby quilt for one of my friend's upcoming baby boy. she went with me last week to pick out fabrics, and we found the most adorable pastel flannels at Quilted Angel to integrate into a Noah's Ark theme.

it's going to be so fun to see how this quilt comes together, as i'm combining a ragged squares quilt, another quilt from Amanda at CrazyMomQuilts.com, with a traditional baby-quilt border and backing... and integrating the baby animals from a separate panel along the way.

i'm still waiting for two of the fabrics but when i start cutting and piecing i'll be sure to take more pictures.

i know it's a little crazy for me to be tackling two different quilts at the same time, as i have no quilting experience whatsoever. piecework? yes, but quilting? no. i think i'll be asking you all a lot of questions along the way! :)

in any case... here's to hoping that you all got some progress made on your current WIPs this weekend. i'd love to hear what you're working on! have a great start to your week :)