Sunday, December 10, 2017

Twice-turned Christmas stocking tutorial

There was very little happening in the sewing room recently.  I started experiencing sewing withdrawal and needed some fun sewing this week. Itching to make something Christmas related,  I floated the idea of replacing the kids' Christmas stockings to freshen up our Christmas decor.  That didn't go over very well.  Apparently, my sentimental teens like the ones I made each of them when they were born.  I can't quibble.  I wasn't contemplating sewing myself a new stocking to replace the one my grandmother knit for me 40-something years ago!

The mice were on my side though and provided me with a reason to sew some stockings.  When I spoke with my mom on Monday, she told me that mice had gotten into her bin of Christmas decorations and among other messiness had shredded the Christmas stockings.  They weren't stockings with sentimental value, so I think it's OK I had a skip in my step on the way down to the sewing room on Tuesday to make these:

Quilt as you go, twice turned Christmas Stockings

I made the star with my Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler by Deb Tucker of Studio 180 Design.  I think I'm a little bit addicted to these blocks.  Where else can I use them?  A 4" block with no trouble at all!  Now I want to try a 3" one.  Maybe I need a few new ornaments for the tree.

At work at the Quilting Connection last month I learned a new technique for making quick, easy, lined stockings.  I loved that I didn't have to cut individual stocking shapes from print fabric, lining and batting before sewing.  We used pretty Christmas prints, no patchwork piecing, so it was a very quick project.  For mom and dad's stocking I wanted some piecing, so I pieced a panel to use for one of the fabric pieces.  Read on for more details.

Materials :
  • Stocking template of your choice (I just traced an existing stocking onto freezer paper and added 1/4" around the shape to account for bulk at the seams)
  • 2 rectangles of thin batting* - I used Thermore
  • 2 rectangles of lining fabric*
  • 2 rectangles of print fabric* (or one rectangle and one pieced panel large enough to fit the template plus at least 1/4" all around
  • 2" x 5" piece of fabric for hanging loop
  • fabric for the cuff (length = twice the width of top of stocking + 1/2" for seam allowances, height = twice the height you want the cuff to be + 1/2" for seam allowances)
*These rectangle pieces are all the same size, large enough to fit your template plus at least 1/4" all around.

Materials for optional pieced panel
  • 1 - 4 1/2" (unfinished size) pieced block (or fussy cut print square)
  • assorted scrap strips
  • 1 rectangle of Thermore (or lighweight interfacing you can see a traced outline through) large enough to fit stocking template plus at least 1/4" all around.

    Piecing the optional panel

    (Skip ahead to the next section, Stocking body assembly,  if you are using a print instead of a pieced panel for the front of your stocking.) 

    Step 1:  Trace the template on a piece of Thermore.  Make sure you use a marker dark enough to show through on the other side of the Thermore as well.

    Step 2:  Place your block or 4 1/2" fussy cut square right side up on the batting, positioning where you would like to see it in the stocking shape.

    (It turns out I didn't take enough pictures of this part as I made my stocking, so I just made a rough start on a mini stocking too illustrate.  Pretend the white square is actually a star block!)

    Step 3: Choose a scrap strip that is long enough to extend along one full side of your block and past it, overlapping the drawn line of the stocking shape.  Place the strip right side down on the block, matching one end with one side of the block and one side with a side of the block.   The strip should extend past the block, over the stocking outline.  Sew the strip down with a 1/4" seam.  Fold the strip back, out of the way of the square, and press.  You now have a strip sewn to one side of the block.
    Sigh.  I forgot to take a picture of the strip folded back out of the way of the square.

    Step 4: Add a second strip to another side in the same way, ensuring that it covers the end of the first strip, runs along the side of the block and extends past the stocking outline.


     Step 5:  Continue adding strips in this way, always ensuring the strips extend past the stocking outline.

     (We now rejoin my original stocking in progress.)

    Step 6:  Continue adding strips in this way until the entire stocking shape is filled. Here's what mine looked like.  I added the strips near the toe at an angle, but you can add them however you like, as long as any seam allowances inside the stocking outline end up covered.  Notice that the stocking outline is completely covered as well.

    Here's what it looks like from the back.

    Next comes the stocking assembly  If you skipped the pieced panel and are using a print fabric instead, this is where you should join in.

    Stocking body assembly

    Step 1: If you are using a print fabric for the front of your stocking, trace the stocking template on the wrong side of the fabric. If you are using the pieced panel, the traced outline of the stocking you used for the piecing will show through the Thermore. 

    Step 2:  Layer your batting, lining and print/pieced panels in the following order:
    1. batting
    2. lining, right side up
    3. lining, right side down
    4. batting
    5. print, right side up
    6. print or pieced panel for front of stocking, right side down 
     Note that the traced outline should be visible on top of the stack.

    Step 3:  Pin all the layers together carefully.  Sew along the traced outline of the sides and toe of the stocking shape, leaving the top of the stocking unsewn and backstitching at the beginning and end of the stitching.  You might like to use a walking foot for this.

    Step 4:  Trim around the stocking outline, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.  Clip the seams on the curves, cutting the seam allowance perpendicular to the seam line but being careful not to cut into the seam itself.

    Now here comes the fun part!

    Step 5:  Reach in between the two layers of lining fabric and pull the stocking inside out.

    Well, not looking fun yet.  Keep going

    Step 6:  Now reach in between the two print layers and turn the stocking inside out again.

    Aren't you glad you kept going?  I forgot to take a picture, and the stocking is now in the care of the postal service, on its way to Nova Scotia, so I can't do it now, but I trust me when I say that the inside of this stocking is beautifully finished, with no unfinished edges. There is still that unfinished top, but adding the cuff will take care of that.

    Step 7:  Trim the top of the stocking to get a clean, straight edge.

    Making the hanging loop

    Step 1:  Fold the 2" x 5" piece of fabric in half lengthwise. Press.  Unfold fabric.  Fold long sides of fabric to the center fold.  Press.

    Step 2:  Fold in half lengthwise again to enclose the raw edges.

    Step 3: Topstitch about 1/8" from each edge.

    Step 4:  Fold strip in half end to end and baste the ends together to make a loop.

    Step 5: Pin the loop to the inside of the stocking, matching raw end with the raw edge at the top of the stocking.

    Adding the cuff

    Step 1:  Fold the cuff fabric in half end-to-end.  Sew the ends together with a 1/4" seam allowance.  (Check that the resulting tube fits snugly inside the top of the stocking.)

    Step 2:  Bring the raw edges of the tube together, encasing the wrong side of the fabric.  This will become the cuff.

    I used Cuddle fabric (similar to minky) for my cuff and I have to say that stuff was awfully slippery.  By the second stocking, I figured out to baste the raw edges of the tube together before the next step.  I don't think this would be necessary with less slippery fabrics, but I guess it wouldn't hurt.

    Step 4: Tuck the cuff into the top of the stocking,  matching raw edges of the cuff with the raw edge at the top of the stocking, distributing the fabric as evenly as possible.  A little bit of fullness here and there is OK.  Pin into place and sew all around, 1/4" from the edge.

     Step 5:  Pull the cuff out of the stocking and bring it down over the raw edge.

    There you go.  You're done! You might want to make another one to keep it company.

    Linking up with:
    Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
    Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts 
    Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017

    Making up my mind

    Sometimes I design a quilt in EQ or on paper and the finished quilt looks exactly like what I designed.  Other times, there are changes along the way.  My Rainbow Scrap challenge definitely falls into that second group.  Here's what it looks like so far.

    RSC Butterflies on the design wall November 7th, 2017

    I took the time to remake the yellow butterfly.  The fabrics in my original one were just too quiet compared to those in the other butterflies and it just faded away.  This new one in bolder yellows can hold its own better. (You can find my butterfly block tutorial here.)

    The layout bears very little resemblance to either of the layouts I planned in January when I designed the butterfly and made my first block.

    RSC Butterflies layout 1

    RSC Butterflies layout 2

    When I decided to stop at 9 blocks I had to rework things a little.  I thought I might add some Spring Bloom blocks to help grow the quilt to a usable size.  The green triangles were going to be prairie points.

    RSC Butterflies layout 3

    Yes, this was it.  Definitely.  Yet by the time I made the last butterfly block, I wasn't sure about those coloured blooms.  How about white blooms, like dogwood?

    RSC Butterflies layout 4

    Much better.  But what about this one?

    RSC Butterflies layout 5

    Hmm.  Nope.  I like the blooms in the corners better.

    But wait.  By the time I was ready to start assembling the top, I was in a more traditional mood and wanted to frame things with a border, and I didn't want blooms anymore.  Without the blooms, those corners were awfully empty, not a very traditional look.  The nine-patches came out to play.

    RSC Butterflies layout 6

    Layout 6 was the layout I shared in October. This weekend I started actually assembling the quilt and in full size in fabric on the design wall, I felt there was too much blank background so I tweaked things.  I polled the household and everyone was in favour of coloured cornerstones too.

    RSC Butterflies layout 7

    This last variation is what is taking shape on my design wall.  It is far enough along that I am committed to it now. The final border will have a little extra something to spruce it up a bit too.

    Here's the thing.  As I was looking through my EQ project file to extract these layouts to share here (there are dozens of iterations in that file, some of which are definitely in the "what was I thinking?!" category)  I realized my mood has shifted back to the more minimalist, modern look and the lighter feel of the light borders. Today I am gravitating to design 4 above, or maybe even this one:

    RSC Butterflies layout 8

    It is definitely time to finish this quilt! 

    Linking up with
    Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
    Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

    Monday, October 30, 2017

    Stars and Stars

    You might have noticed I like star blocks. Perhaps it's related to my astronomer husband. In any case, stars have been forming in my sewing room. (Did I mention he studies star-forming regions?)

    I did finally remake Jelly Bean Stars, using the leftovers of bright fabrics from my Wandering Geese remake, just as I made the original from leftovers from making the original Wandering Geese.  I tweaked this version a bit.  Here are the two side by side.

    Magnitudes (2017) and Jelly Bean Stars (2012)
    With a few more years of quilting and designing under my belt, I decided the smaller stars in the sashing needed to shine more.  In the original, honestly, they look more like little X's joining the blocks.  A combination of extending the small star points into the border and making the small stars the same color as the large ones made them pop more. I also decided there was enough to look at here without having a triple border.  Making the borders the same colour as the sashing makes everything else float on the background and gives a more modern feel.

    I think this new version has a crisper look than the original.  It's all spiffed up, so it needs a new name. Stellar magnitude refers to the brightness of a star, and I have big (bright) ones and smaller (dimmer) ones on this quilt.  "Magnitudes" seems a fitting name.

    Magnitudes is now quilted and has a pretty blue binding but I haven't had time and pretty weather together at the same time to take nice pictures yet.  I wanted this quilt finished sooner than later and had too much on my plate already, so I sent it to Liz Meimann of A Quilted Memory for all-over longarm quilting.  Here's a peek until I can get proper glamour shots.

    And a peek at the back too.  I found the perfect backing, but it was 60" wide and needed 66".  I really didn't want to buy a whole other length just for that 6", so I pieced a strip from scraps and inserted it into the back to make up the required width.

    I love the way the back turned out, but honestly, "just slapping fabric together" for those improv blocks took me longer than planned blocks would have!  I really wanted to use up little scraps from the front though, so improv it was.  

    I will be re-writing the pattern to reflect my design tweaks and to include additional sizes, and re-releasing it as Magnitudes. I just need to write up a different star quilt pattern first so it can go out to testers.  Then, and only then can I play with my Anne of Green Gables fabrics!

    Saturday, October 21, 2017

    Pink RSC butterfly

    October's butterfly block for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is done!  The colour this month is pink.  I'm glad this is about scraps, because I didn't have many big bits of pink to work with.

    October RSC butterfly block: pink

    I reached for the 60 degree triangle ruler for this one.  The upper wings are just rows of little 2" tall triangles.  The lower wings are a log cabin style block built around a triangle instead of a square.  Looking at this one I wish I had played more with the lower wings in the rest of my butterflies.  Not enough to want to remake any though!

    I skipped the grey and neutral months, but I made two blue blocks so I now have nine butterflies.  I had planned to make extra of some colours to bring the total to 12 but I have decided to just use the nine I have.  I may remake the yellow one in stronger yellows though.  I'll see how I feel once I make the setting locks and see how everything looks then. Here's the flutter:

    Nine RSC butterfly blocks

    When I started making these in January I shared two layouts I was considering. Of course the more time passes between the idea and the execution, the less likely I am to use the original idea. When I decided I'd stop at 9 blocks, I tweaked things a bit, adding a few Spring Blooms blocks.  By the time I finished the last block on Monday, I wasn't sure about the blooms idea and I went back into EQ and tweaked things again.  Here's the final layout...unless there is too long a gap between now and when I actually assemble the top, in which case I might change my mind again.

    I have enough background fabric but not enough green so this weekend I'm shifting to finishing up a few things.

    1. Lemoyne stars using various construction methods to decide which one to use in a pattern
    2. Binding the new and improved Jelly Bean Stars sample  
    3. Adding borders to a new larger and "grown up" Starlight Wishes
    4. Not finishing up, but at least making progress hand quilting Chic Country 
    I really want to cut into my Anne of Green Gables fabrics, but I'm saving those as a reward for tackling the short list above.  We'll see how I do!

    Linking up with
    ScrapHappy Saturday at So Scrappy 

    Tuesday, October 10, 2017

    A tale of two fabrics

    I started working on Lemoyne Star blocks in batiks last week.  Here's what I was hoping for:

    This was not last week's attempt!  Last week's block turned out like this:

    I think this looks like a hot mess.   I love this batik print, but it didn't work here at all!  One problem was that the dark background in the print and spots where the blue is deeper blend into my block background too much.  Another is that the scale of the print is too large for the pieces so the pretty gets cut up and lost, and I'm left with, well, this.

    This was just too depressing to deal with last week.  What to do?  Start a new project, of course!  I worked on that the rest of the week and pieced a backing for it today.  It's all in bright, pretty leftovers from my recently finished Wandering Geese quilt, and the pieces and colours all played together just as they were supposed to.  I'll share more about that one later this week.  Anyway, working on that cheered me up considerably, so I had the courage to pull out the Lemoyne Stars again.

    I bought a few brighter, smaller scale batiks to substitute for some of my previously selected batiks.  I still love the first selection, but they are going to have to find another project to play in (oh, the hardship!).  Tonight I made the lighter block above, and I think I can keep going on that track.  First I'll need to press my new selections that got forgotten in the dryer last night.

    I think I will leave that for tomorrow evening.  Right now, as the weather had cooled off, I feel like an evening with a quilt pooled in my lap while I hand quilt it sounds appealing.  I have made woefully little progress quilting my daughter's Chic Country so I had better get to it while the mood strikes!

    Sunday, October 1, 2017

    Wandering Geese, Take 2

    Wandering Geese, Moda Grunge version, had its photo shoot at a local conservation area yesterday.  The weather was beautiful for a walk, but a little breezy for pictures!

     (I'm not sure how to embed video here, but if you want to see what I mean, you can see the video on Facebook here.)

    We did manage to get a few pretty photos by ducking into the woods.

    I love how the quilt is just floating here!  I'm surprised my husband's feet aren't showing, but I'll take it!

    We gave up on the shot I wanted, of prairie and sky in the background. Laying it down on the ground on the prairie path was the closest we could get.

    My husband indulged me, stepped off a path (after I checked for poison ivy), tripped on some vines and set up this quilt on a tree shot, hanging it off a large knot like a towel on towel hook.

    This quilt was quilted entirely with my walking foot, using black Aurifil thread to stitch in the ditch around every patch and diagonal lines one inch apart in the background.  I toyed with stitching triangles of some sort in the piano key border, but realized as I was marking them that they would be too busy.  I opted for two sets of straight lines running perpendicular to the piano keys.  These lines, and a few extra ones in the large flying geese, are stitched with a variegated Sulky Blendables thread that picks up all the colors and seems to add a soft glow.  I couldn't get that to show up in my picture, but it worked really well.

    This quilt will replace the original on the cover of the pattern.  I just need to take a few possible covers to the printer's and see which photo looks best in print.  The colors on my computer monitor and the printed page seldom agree!

    In the meantime, I'm using up scraps from this quilt to make an updated version of Jelly Bean Stars in Moda Grunge as well.  Pictures of that will follow eventually, but for now I'll share one more picture from yesterday, just because I have about 50 of them to choose from (gotta love digital photography)!