Piano Keys Quilt

Piano Keys Quilt

It’s finally finished! This project typifies what happens to me when I work on something that I can’t finish in one or two sittings at the machine – it takes much, much longer than it should to complete. I have a tendency to pick things up and put them down, and rather than pick them back up I move on to other projects that were planned more recently. Which is a shame, because look at how lovely this quilt is! A few more pictures are here, with more to come once the sun returns.

The fabric for this, and the pattern – Piano Keys – were purchased at Spool Sewing in Philadelphia in April 2011. (Spool has since closed as a retail outlet, though they do still offer classes through their sister store, Loop.)

As is typical for me, I did not immediately begin sewing this quilt. I cut the pieces in August 2011, and began sewing it in November. I do know, thanks to a photo, that I finished the quilt top in January 2012.

As I hadn’t yet purchased batting, or fabric to back and bind it with, the quilt got set aside. In April 2012 I picked it back up again and started working on the quilt sandwich, which I finished in May 2012.

That was the most challenging part – getting the backing, batting, and top pinned together so I could quilt it. It took a lot of space, time and patience, and I did actually wish for the curved pins recommended in a quilting book I was gifted when I started the project. I lucked out and the dimensions of the top and backing fabric were such that I only had to cut the correct length of backing fabric.

For the actual quilting, I just did parallel lines, roughly an inch apart. The width varies, and they aren’t perfectly straight, as I did it freehand. Overall I’m pleased with the look, though I think next time I might try doing the lines diagonally. I did find that this size quilt (I did the smaller lap size) was about the largest my machine can accomodate for the actual quilting part, so if I want to do something larger in the future, I’ll have to find a longarm sewing machine to rent or borrow time on. I will also need to get a walking foot for my machine – while I made it work, it wasn’t ideal.

Once it was quilted, I had to cut things down a bit to line them all up properly for binding. At this point I do recall that I had to trim off some parts of the quilt top as things had shifted during sewing. I made a mental note at that point to start with a backing larger than the quilt next time around.

I started working on the binding in October 2012. I was originally going to do a hand-sewn binding, and started that – you machine sew the binding to the front, fold it over so the seam is hidden, and use some sort of quilting voodoo to hand sew the binding down on the back invisibly.  I got a little more than one side done using that method, which I simply found too time consuming. It was also a slow enough process that I had to spend time looking at every stitch that was slightly too long, which was driving me crazy. I decided to machine bind it, and finally actually did that yesterday afternoon.

I looked at several tutorials, and liked how the finish looked on the backside using this method, but as I am having some sort of tension problems that prevent me from doing lots of zigzagging all at once, I had to pass that up for now. In the end I just did a straight stitch, through to the front of the quilt, right at the edge of the binding on the backside. Looks just fine. This was stupidly fast once I sat down and did it.

Overall, this was an easy pattern to make, and I’ll probably do it again. The various pieces of the top came together quickly. You will want to label the different sections as you make them – they don’t fit together interchangeably, and I had to rip some seams out when I put them together wrong.

I also found that I wound up with extra rectangles cut. I had purchased 1/4 yards of fabric, so I’m not sure if this happens if you work with fat quarters instead. But you might want to count as you cut if you don’t often find a use for smallish pieces of fabric.

This is not a blue ribbon quilt where everything is perfectly straight and aligned – but I knew if I went for that, I would drive myself crazy. It is a quilt full of beautiful colors and patterns, and I learned that I can make a quilt without too much fuss, which was the entire point. I can see myself making this for a gift (a gift which I start very, very far ahead of time, but still.)

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Christmas Tree Garland

ImageI’ve been on the lookout for some Christmas decorations this year, and when I saw these tiny Christmas tree ornaments, I was sold.

I have a ton of pieces of scrap fabric that feel too big to throw away, but too little to make any large projects with. But it’s all perfect for this!  Continue reading

Easy Jersey Skirt

Kwik Sew 3513 - Jersey Skirt

This was an insanely fast project – even if you don’t think you’re a quick sewer, this is definitely something you can do in an afternoon. There are four pieces (five if you cut the view with the flounce), and it’s very easy to zigzag them all together with your regular old sewing machine. I made it even easier by deciding not to hem the skirt. After it was assembled I just cleaned up up the raw edge and then zigzagged it, but I could have stopped at the clean edge, as jersey doesn’t really fray the way woven fabrics do.

Now, the thing with jersey is that typically you need a serger, which is a special type of sewing machine that most hobby home sewers do not own. I don’t have one, and my friend who is a freelance costumer and seamstress doesn’t have one. They’re expensive. Anyway, you can sew jersey with a regular machine, you just need to use some particular techniques. The pattern I used, Kwik Sew 3513, is part of a special line of patterns for serging. It also includes tips and instructions for making this with a regular machine, which made me feel more confident in proceeding. I also really like Kwik Sew patterns as they tend to have well-written directions and straightforward construction techniques. Continue reading

Pajama Set

Pajama Set

I finally finished working on a set of summer pajamas that have been on the “to make” list for quite some time. I gathered and prepped all of the fabric (uh, I think in April 2010…), and then it was a while before I began work on them. And once I did, I abandoned them partway through. Both of these patterns come from One Yard Wonders, which is a great book. The top is Summer Nightie, and the bottoms are Perfect Fit Sleep Shorts. Continue reading

PJ Pants

Here’s a little break from all the food posts. This weekend I finally had some time to get going on a sewing project that I’ve been looking forward to — a pair of pajama pants. I used Kwik-Sew 2662, which includes markings for shorts that I’ll be sure to do in the spring. I chose a fun black and white cotton fabric: Jane’s Hothouse Garden from Westminster Fabrics.

The pattern was quite easy, and included a couple of new things for me — pockets (not that hard, but something new nonetheless) and sewing on elastic, which was a little tricky until I figured out a method. The inside bottom edge of the waistband isn’t finished, but I decided that since I used pinking shears to cut out the pieces, it’d be fine. (I should also admit that I didn’t feel like sewing over the elastic for a third time, which seemed to be what the pattern was calling for.) Continue reading

Bibs and Burp Cloths

My friends Maya and Ian are expecting, and the baby shower was yesterday. That means I can now safely blog about this project, since they have been gifted away. As I am once again too impatient to deal with getting photos into this post (shakes fist at flickr manager plugin), go ahead and click here to see them.

Since my knitting mojo has been on hiatus for the last several months, I knew that deciding to knit something for their baby would not be a wise choice. Instead I thought I would sew up some bibs and burp cloths, as I have heard that you can never have enough of them.

The burp cloths were just from a tutorial I found online. There are tons and tons of them, and after looking around for quite a while I randomly settled on this one. I had originally been thinking I would just decorate some cloth diapers with fabric, since those would be quite absorbent, but then I got all caught up in reading reviews of them on Amazon and couldn’t figure out which ones were best. So, I went with this project. I picked out two fun prints and three colors of cotton flannel to back them, and I made a total of four burp cloths.

The bibs are from Bend-the-Rules Sewing, a fantastic book that I highly recommend. It is full of fun, cute projects for yourself, your house, and the little kids around you. The bibs were my first project out of the book, and they came out well. I do recommend following the pattern exactly and cutting the fronts and backs of the bibs together. I didn’t — I just cut all my tops and then all my bottoms — and it was a little difficult to match things up. The bibs were a bit challenging because of the curves, but I persevered and I think they will hold up. The only modification I made was to use fusible velcro instead of snaps. I made a total of six.

Perfect Box Pouch

Perfect Box Pouch
Perfect Box Pouch

Yesterday, while I was trapped inside my apartment before the local geek squad moved in to save the day (well, the evening), I made the cutest little box bag you have ever seen from this tutorial.

The fabric is from the Cherry Tart fat quarter pack at Spool Sewing. I forgot to jot down the fabric name & maker from the selvage (I think this one had it, some others from the pack did not), I will update that when I can. (ETA 8/2: Westminster Fabrics Strawberry Sunshine.) The lining is a plain beige shirting that I had leftover from the lining of the teal skirt.

The bag is small — the final dimensions are 5″ x 3″ x 2″; as my friend Julie pointed out, it is just the right size to throw in your purse or tote bag to corral whatever needs to be corralled. It’s also a great size to be a small cosmetics case or even something for dry snacks. Right now I am using it to take my makeup and travel deodorant to and from work.

This project was very easy, and is good practice for sewing in zippers if you need that. The only change I made to the pattern was in the interfacing I used. The medium weight that I had bought seemed way too stiff. So, I used the lightweight fusible interfacing I already had on hand, and just fused a piece of that to the backside of each piece of fabric (including the lining). It is keeping its shape nicely. Continue reading