Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I've been featured!

I was so excited to see I made it into my first treasury over at Etsy. Click here to check it out. It's a compilation of Modern Mom's Must Haves. I have to admit, this item/fabric combo is one of my current favs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Quilt Sandwich"

To prepare your quilt top to be made into a full blown quilt, you'll need to make a "quilt sandwich." And basically what that means is putting all your quilt layers together in preparation for quilting them together (either by hand or machine.)

Sorry I didn't take many pictures of this process, but it's pretty easy so hopefully you'll still get the idea.

To start, lay your backing fabric face down. Since we are working on a small doll quilt, your cutting mat is a great spot to use. If you are working on a larger quilt, use the floor or a large tabletop (but make sure the floor or table are surfaces you don't mind getting scratched up.) Smooth the fabric out. Then place pieces of blue painters tape around all sides, taping the fabric to the work surface, to hold the fabric taut. Be careful not to stretch or pull the fabric. You just need it taut so it doesn't wrinkle or move around under the other layers.

Next smooth out your batting on top of the backing fabric. Batting and cotton magical "stick" together, so no more tape will be needed.

Now lay your quilt top on top of the batting, smoothing it out. Be careful to keep all your pressed seems in their proper place and not flipped over. Also double check to make sure the backing fabric and batting are underlying the entire quilt top. It's important to always cut your batting and backing fabric 2-4" larger on each side to allow for any variance, especially once it's getting quilted. (An easy way to do this is simply lay your quilt top on top of the batting or backing fabric, then using hand scissors, eyeball the extra 2-4" on each side and snip away the batting or backing. It doesn't need to be perfect, because the excess with get trimmed away later.)

The final step is to pin it all together. Using bent quilting safety pins, pin through all the layers.
Place pins approximately 5" apart, which is about the size of your fist. Also, vary the pin placement, row by row. See picture below.

Again, if you're sandwiching anything larger then a doll quilt, this next tool is your best friend. It is used to close the safety pins. Do it once without it, and you'll know what I mean when you wake up the next morning with busied finger tips. It's very inexpensive and can be found at every quilting store.

And that's it. You're done. Just remove the tape from the backing fabric.

In my next couple posts, we'll talk about machine quilting. This is a new topic for me, so I'm in that exciting and giddy phase.

Also if you took a closer look at my quilt sandwich above, you may have noticed that I pieced my batting. We'll talk about that later too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Current WIP

(work in progress)
using this little guy

Monday, August 17, 2009

Doll Quilt Tutorial

Making doll quilts are my favorite way to practice quilting. In this doll quilt, Im trying out the string block. Click here to see my tutorial on how to make the string block.
For the doll quilt, you'll need 4 string blocks. Lay the blocks out, deciding which positioning you like best.
Then sew the top and bottom pieces together using a 1/4" seam. Because of the bulkiness of this type of block, I recommend ironing your seams open. Once that's done, sew the right and left halves together and press the seam open.
Next, we'll add a border. I wanted mine to be 2.5" finished, so I cut my border pieces 3" wide (allowing for a 1/4" on both sides.) For length, measure your blocks. I like to make my borders 1/4" longer than needed, just to make sure it fits.
With the border pieces on the top and bottom, square up the block, cutting off the excess edges on the borders. To do this, line up a long ruler, matching the edge of the string blocks at the top and bottom corners, and using your rotary cutter, trim the border edges

Next we'll need to add the left and right side borders. The width of these will be the same as before, but the length will change. To find the length, simply measure your quilt again, this time including the borders you've just attached (measure from the outside edge of your top border down to the very bottom of your lower border.) Once all the borders are added, square it up again.

Now that all the edges of the blocks have been sewn, you can remove the paper. Be gentle so you dont rip out any seams or damage any fabric. If you used a small stitch length it should come off really easily. If not, then it will just take little bit more time and you'll have to be very careful as to not to not cause any damage. Also, if you went overboard with the glue when making the string block and are having a hard time getting the paper to separate from the fabric strip it was glued to, just dampen the fabric a tiny bit with your finger that's been dipped in water. It wont take much to get the glue to dissolve.After the trauma of removing the paper, press the quilt top again.

Next up, I'll show you how to make the "quilt sandwich" and machine quilt it, then add the binding.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

sew4home nursery sewing

sew4home is hosting a segment on designing a stylish baby nursery. All of the fabrics they use come from the Andalucia collection by Patty Young from Michael Miller fabrics, which I haven't loved so much until I sew them put into action in the nursery. I absolutely love all the bright girlie colors and am really tempted to start working on nursery items for my future baby girl (if I am ever fortunate to have one someday!)

Like these gorgeous crib bumpers!Or these oh-so-useful collapsible storage binsCheckout the list of everything else they have in store for the stylish nursery here.

and the best part is that they have tutorials for all of it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

$50 gift certificate giveaway

The Quilt Shoppe is celebrating their 2nd birthday. And Rachel at p.s. i quilt is hosting a giveaway of a $50 gift certificate to the Quilt Shoppe. So everyone be sure to head over to p.s. i quilt to enter! Good luck!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

String Block Tutorial

I've recently seen other quilting bloggers post about string block quilts. Now that I've been sewing for a few years, I finally have enough scraps to start on some stash busting projects. I definitely wanted to try my hand out on the string block, and now it's one of my favorites.

Here's my two cents in a little tutorial to get you started on your own stash busting project.

This is a paper-pieced block, so start by cutting a square piece of paper to use as the foundation for your block. I used regular ol' printer paper, but you can use just about any paper you have on hand, just make sure it's not a thick paper. I've heard phone book pages work well too.

I have a lot of smaller scraps so I'm making my blocks a little smaller, at 6 inches square. You can make your blocks any size you want, up to 12 inches.Next, cut a strip of solid colored fabric (or a print if you'd like) that is long enough to reach all the way from one corner to the other, diagonally across the paper block. The length does not have to be exact, just make sure it fully covers both corners. You do need to make sure the width is exact though - making sure both side are cut straight and has the same width the whole length of the strip. The middle strips are the only ones that will line up when you put multiple blocks together. My white strips are cut 1 in. wide.

Draw a thin line down the center of the strip with a fabric pen or pencil. Using a fabric glue stick (or any washable glue stick) apply a thin amount of glue down the diagonal of the paper block. Dont go overboard on the glue or you will have a heck of a time removing the paper later.Next, lay the white strip of fabric on top of the glue line. Make sure the line drawn on the fabric crosses exactly over the corner. Press the fabric down to make sure it is fully adhered to the block. Here's a close up of how the line should pass perfectly over the corner on both ends.Now we will apply the printed fabrics on both sides of the solid to fill up the rest of the block.

To start out, cut a printed fabric to any width, just make sure both sides are cut straight and that it will reach all the way across the block diagonally.Lay the print facing down on the white strip matching up one long side.
DECREASE the stitch length on your sewing machine in order to perforate the paper when sewing. I set my machine at 1. (It definitely takes a bit longer to sew at such a short stitch length, but it will be well worth your time when you're rippin' off all that paper later. It will be MUCH easier and put less stress on the stitches and fabric. Believe me, I learned the hard way!) Sew a 1/4 in. seam down the edge of the fabric pieces, going through the fabrics AND the paper.Fold the printed fabric over and press.Do the same to the other side of the white strip.And just keep going to cover the rest of the paper block, making sure to vary the widths of the strips. Align the long edge of the next strip with the last strip on the block, just as before with right sides together using a 1/4" seam sewing through the fabrics and paper. Do this on each end of the block, moving away from the center.

Since each strip will have a 1/4" seam on both sides (making a 1/2" total taken away by seam allowances) I would recommend keeping your cut widths between 1" (so the smallest strip will have a 1/2" visible area) to 2". But if you are making a larger block size, like a 12" block, you could definitely use even wider strips.
Once your block is covered, flip it over to the back side and using the paper as a guide, trim the excess fabric.And voila! Your done! Pretty easy. But dont be too excited just yet to start rippin' away all the paper. Remove the paper only when all four sides have been sewn to an adjoining block or border. Then have fun, but be gentle. It should come off really easily if you used a short stitch length.

I love quilt blocks that you don't have a hundred corners to line up. I cant wait to make a bunch more of these! I used fabrics all from the same line (Sweet Escape from Free Spirit.) Make your blocks more scrappy by using any of your scraps from your stash. See examples here, here, and here.

I'd love to hear any questions or comments you may have. If you make anything from my tutorials, I'd love to see it! Post your pictures to the Zanie Zoo flickr pool.

My next tutorial will show you how to combine four string blocks to make a doll quilt. Here's a sneak peak so you get an idea of what it looks like with multiple blocks sewn together.