Sewing

The Daily Duffle WIP – with bears.

A little WIP-sharing today, in the hopes that if I tell you about it, I’ll stick with it. I’ve got half-projects EVERYWHERE right now. I know that’s a common problem with us crafters, but like, seriously. EVERYWHERE. I should take one of those “honest” photos of what my sewing table actually looks like – except you can’t see the table, let alone get any sewing done on it. Project piles everywhere.

(I’m thinking I need a thing with a couple of drawers, like on wheels, where I can store my current WIPs. I’m a little worried that’s just where WIPs would go to die – or at least become UFOs, but if I only allow the things I’m currently working on into the drawers? I dunno, but there has to be a better use for a sewing table than just holding piles, right?!)

Anyway, so yeah. I started another dang project. I’ve got two trips coming up, and although there’s no chance even in the pits of hell that I’d be able to get this done for the first (exactly one week from today), I know it’ll be useful for the second (at the end of May).

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This is The Daily Duffle pattern, by Sassafras Lane. I have bears on the outside, along with the woodgrain, and the blue lace fabric as my lining. I only had a half-meter of the bears, and I was determined to get as much of this project out of stash as possible. So I’m using the Cotton + Steel peaches and Lizzy House constellations to make up the round sides. A few mods I already have planned: skipping the long strap, ’cause I always end up detaching them from store-boughten bags, so really, why would I go to the trouble of making one?! Because of that, I’ll possibly make the short handles a bit longer, so I can tuck the duffle under my arm if I need to. I’m using Bosal In-R-Foam, which I’ve never used before, instead of a fusible fleece and the Vilene G700 woven interfacing that I’ve gushed about before (’cause I’m THAT person now, that one that gushes about interfacing. Sigh.). I’m not sure if that’s going to be enough, since I’ve never used the foam before, so I’ll have to wing that as I go.

I starting cutting and interfacing last night, so there’s still a ways to go. Full report back with project details when I’ve finished!

Hand-Piecing Help

Photo by Lucy of Charm About You

photo by Lucy of Charm About You

Last week, I begged for help with some hand-piecing woes – as much as I love the hand-pieced stars that I was making, I was disappointed in how difficult I found it to actually, you know, piece them.

My good friend Rebecca pointed me towards a tutorial that might help: Lucy from the blog Charm About You recently posted some tips for successful hand-piecing, and her work is truly beautiful.

Photo by Lucy of Charm About You

photo by Lucy of Charm About You

Rebecca was right, Lucy’s tutorial is invaluable! By the time you read this post, I’ll have had a chance to try them out with actual sewing, but I can already tell that this is a game-changer for me: just the way she explains how to deal with seams (or not deal with them, as it were), seems so obvious, but really wasn’t to this hand-piecing newbie. I’m so excited to get back to my stars – thank you so much, Lucy!

If you’re interested in giving hand-piecing a try, definitely check out Lucy’s post, “Hand-Piecing A Quilt” as well as her more recent post, “Homemade Amusements – Dolly”, where she gives a detailed explanation of how to put together a more complex block by hand.

I’ve also been recommended this book, “Quiltmaking by Hand: Simple Stitches, Exquisite Quilts” by Jinny Beyer. I’ve had the chance to sample the book just a bit and it looks like an amazingly detailed encyclopedic resource for making quilts by hand. I’m going to see how the tips in this book work out for my stars and possibly add it to my library!

Star-A-Day

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The other day, I shared my new Diamond Hex Quilt obsession – a long-term EPP project that I expect I’ll be working for a good portion of my life. But actually, that is not the only loooooong-term / slow craft project I’ve started lately.

A few weeks ago, I went on a little mini-holiday with some friends and finally started the Star-A-Day pattern by Somerset Designs that I bought last summer. My friends and I chatted with these guys a bit at the Festival of Quilts and they were just the super-nicest ever. And they do some truly beautiful, really special work. I saw a lot of really beautiful things at the festival last year, but their Star-A-Day quilt, even though it is the simplest of their many wonderful designs, was the thing that most captured my imagination.

I love the simplicity of these teeny stars, and the extreme scrappiness of their tiny pieces and, just like my EPP, the notion of gradually adding to the project one wee star at a time. The pattern includes acrylic templates and the design is meant to be completely hand-pieced – one star every day for one entire year will make the right amount for a quilt!

The hand-piecing aspect was what appealed to me most – you know I love stitching by hand so much more than by machine – but I have to admit, I had a hard time with these stars and haven’t made any more since. The extreme tininess made hand-piecing very start-and-stoppy, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to deal with all the seams. I really want to sit down and try to improve my method for this project, because I do love those stars very much and I know I’ll just keep avoiding it if it’s an aggravating process! But aren’t they they cutest???

If anyone has any amazing hand-piecing tips to share, I’d be crazy grateful! :)

(You can find the Star-A-Day pattern with acrylic template set here.)

Hand-Pieced Mini Swap FO

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It just occurred to me, right now, that I never showed you the finished mini-quilt I made for the Hand-Pieced Mini Swap. That was, like, a millionty years ago, but I still really wanted to show you how it turned out!

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I’m so, so, so happy with this mini – it’s the first time I really played with layout and EPP, seeing what shapes matched well with others. What I ended up with wasn’t the most adventurous EPP design or anything, but it suited my partner (it was the first one she responded excitedly to when I was sharing doodles on Instagram), and I got to play with fabric placement to really pull out repeating shapes. Getting going was a struggle, but I loved this project once I got down to sewing.

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It really inspired me to play with EPP a little more, and I bought a big stack of shapes at the Festival of Quilts this summer. Now all I need is the time to sit down with them and plan myself a new project!

Merry Medallion Quilt-Along: Putting it all Together!

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

Yay! Almost there! This week’s tutorial will put everything together, which is a lot of pinning and sewing, but really not very many seams to sew. You’ve already done the hardest work. By the end of this post, you’ll have a completed quilt top – hurrah!!

What You’ll Need

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

– your three low volume half-meter cuts
– and one mid-volume fat quarter

Cutting The Pieces

Before anything else, we have to cut up those fabrics above. I didn’t have you cut these fabrics at the beginning, with the others, because seeing all the other elements together might help determine which of these fabrics you use where. I didn’t decide on my ‘mid-volume’ fabric until yesterday, and the arrangement of fabrics for my border rounds (this isn’t exactly the right term, but these rounds are more than sashing, so we’ll stick with ‘borders’) fell perfectly into place once I laid all the bits on the floor. So, if you look at this quilt diagram:

Merry Medallion Borders

You’ll see each border round marked with a label, numbered from the inside working outward. Choose which fabric will be Border 1, which will be Border 2, etc. Then cut:

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

Border 1:

– With fabric folded (as shown above, the fold on the left), cut four 3.5″ strips across the width of the fabric. Take care that the fold is perfectly perpendicular to your cuts, or you’ll end up with v-shaped strips!
– Without moving the fabric, trim down each of those strips to 24.5″. Note: measure out 12.25″ from fold to end up with 24.5″ strips.
– You’ll end up with four 3.5″ x 24.5″ strips.

Border 2:
– Just as before, with fabric folded, cut four 3.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.
– Without moving the fabric, trim down each of those strips to 42.5″. (Measure 21.25″ from fold, but this will be little more than trimming off the selvedge edges.)
– You’ll end up with four 3.5″ x 42.5″ strips.

Border 3:
– One last time, with fabric folded, cut six 2.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.
– Cut two of these strips in half (along the fold crease), then sew a half-strip to the end of each full-length strip to make four really long strips. Trim each to 56.5″ and press seam opens.
– You’ll end up with four 2.5″ x 56.5″ strips.

Mid-Volume Fabric:
– (8) 3.5″ squares
– (4) 2.5″ squares

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

Prepping Borders

Prepping your borders is easy-peasy and will take less than five minutes. Ready? On two strips of each border fabric, sew an equal-sized mid-volume square to both ends. This is exactly what we did with the diamond-blocks last week. The strips are long enough that you can even chain-piece this step, feeding one end in right after the other.

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

Just like last week, for each border round, you’ll have two plain strips and two strips with mid-volume squares on either end.

Final Assembly!

Here we go! All the pieces are ready and they just need us to slap ’em together. We’ll put everything together in rounds, working from the center star outward, and attaching each round will be exactly the same as the first.

Pin your two shorter Border 1 strips to the top and bottom of your center star. Sew all the way across and press seams towards the border.

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

Then pin your two longer Border 1 strips to the sides of your center star, lining the corner squares up with the previously attached border on each end. Sew all the way across and press seams towards the border.

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

That’s it! Simply repeat that same process until your quilt is all finished, one round at a time – the short geese strips on top and bottom of your center section, press towards border, then the long geese strips on each side, press towards border (take care to make sure your geese are flying in the same direction!). Then Border 2, then the HSTs, then Border 3 – and that’s it! Seriously, that’s really it – you’re done!

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

My only comment on putting it all together is that the math for medallion quilts really depends on every tiny seam of the previous round being perfectly accurate. That sounds obvious, but think about each of those geese being off by a tiny bit, you could work up to a half-inch off by the time you tally it all up. Chances are very good that some of your strips will end up being a little bit off – mine totally were, and a little bit more so as I got to the outermost rounds. I mean, c’mon, nobody’s seams are really that perfect, are they? If you are off a little, it’s probably just a very little, and you should be able to just ease that difference in along the seam – when you pin, make sure that any excess of one side is distributed evenly along the seam, and you’ll be fine!

Finishing (When You’re Ready)

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

I promised you a finished quilt top in a month and you did it! Pat your darn self right on the back. I really, really hope you love your quilt as much as I love mine!! We now have four full months to quilt and bind our Merry Medallions to have them ready by the beginning of December – this series won’t go into these steps, but you can follow these tutorials to complete your quilt, down to the very last stitch:

Merry Medallion - Putting It All Together!

I hope you’ll email me or leave a comment on these posts if you make a Merry Medallion of your own – there’s seriously nothing I love more than seeing your versions of projects. And of course, I’ll be back sooner or later to show you my finished quilt!

Merry Christmas in July, peeps!

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