Friday, April 30, 2010

Eleventh Hour Spring Top Week Entry!

Here's my entry for Spring Top Week at Made by Rae. Yes, the deadline is one hour away! Yes, I only started it this morning! And YES, the only way it ended up getting done was because Susan sat next to me and practically forced me at gunpoint! (ha ha! Really though, Susan, THANKS for your help -- it is the only way it was ever going to happen!)

Let me just say, sewing apparel is not my strong point. In fact, it scares the living daylights out of me! But I SURVIVED! And I think my top is wearable!

Then, of course, being loopy and crazed after surviving the creation of this top whilst juggling, wrestling and wrangling five children (who may or may not have watched two movies during the process), we had a very goofy "photo shoot" outside in the wind. Hey, you've gotta take ADVANTAGE of wind in a photo shoot, right??

...somewhat embarassing...

...even more embarassing!

But it was really funny at the time!
Oh dear.
I am sure I will regret posting these photos!

1st Quilt Ever -- Borders

Let's put the borders on our quilt so we can call the top Officially DONE!

Start by laying your 3/8-yard cut of border fabric on your cutting mat with the fold lined up on one of the lines. Trim the top edge so it's straight, then cut five 2 1/2" strips. Remove selvages.

Sew your strips together to create one long strip, using a 1/4" seam allowance, then press seams open. (You want them open so your borders will lay as flat as possible.)

First you will sew borders on the two long sides. Overlap your border strip at the top edge about 1/2", and align the edges.

Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance, lining up the edges as you go.

You will have better success with this step if you smooth the quilt top out to the side as much as possible. This will help defeat gravity a little bit, creating less drag on your borders.

Once you reach the end, trim your long border strip about 1/2" past the edge, as shown. Repeat to attach your border strip to the other long side of your quilt top.

Lay your quilt top right side up on your ironing board. Press your seam to set the stitches.

Press your seam allowances toward the border. Repeat for the other long side's border.

Trim the excess in line with the edge of your quilt.

Repeat all steps for top and bottom borders.

Borders are on! Your quilt top is officially DONE!!

Tomorrow I will post about adding the pieced strip to the back. Then on Monday we'll start talking about QUILTING!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thank You!

Thank you for all the happy birthday wishes! Totally made my day! And thank YOU, Ms. Susie Blog Hijacker! :o)

So what Susan neglected to mention is that I am now officially OLD. Ha ha, just kidding! Although, I have now officially entered my FOURTH decade of life. Saying it that way certainly makes me SOUND old, right?? Thirty! It always sounded so old when I was little. But thirty's nothing.

Besides, my kids are keeping me young. Guess what my boys gave me for my birthday...

Yep! My very own pink Razor scooter -- complete with streamers and a bell! Guess I've stolen Buzz's scooter from him one too many times! They totally know what I like... pink and girly! In fact, last year they gave me a Barbie. Yep. My boys know what I like! :o)

THANK YOU, also, to my sweet husband Paul, who took the day off work so I could do a little shopping and a little sewing -- it's exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday!

All right, enough blabbitty-blah-blah! Must get back to working on the next step in 1st Quilt Ever!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Birthday!

I am temporarily hijacking this blog to wish Care a Happy Birthday!!!


She loves sharing her ideas and works so hard to make such great tutorials-I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do! And everything is free! What?! She is amazing! The only thing she gets out of it is the joy of seeing you use the tutorials and share your projects-so thanks to all those that have! (I love seeing them too) Keep enjoying this awesome blog everyone!

What an amazing, talented, giving person-I'm glad to know her!

Happy, Happy Birthday!!!!

Enjoy your special day Care!

(is that enough exclamation points? If not here's a few more!!!!!!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

1st Quilt Ever -- Putting Rows Together

We're getting so close to having the entire quilt top completed!!

Lay out all your rows on the floor, in order. (I'm only showing my first two rows here.) You will sew together two rows at a time, matching up seams and "finger pinning" as before to get the corners of your blocks to line up. It is easiest to press after sewing each seam rather than after the entire top is together.

Having trouble matching up those seams? Let me show you how to "fudge" them!

Match up your seams, "finger pinning" as you've done before.

This one really isn't matching up -- look how much excess fabric there is on the lower layer versus the upper layer! I really want my seams to match up, so I'm going to do my best to make it happen.

Hold your finger where the two seams should be matching up. Continue sewing, but give a little resistance where you are holding your seams, stretching a little as you sew. You should be able to gently ease the two layers together -- and if they still don't match perfectly, at least they will be close!

It's working!!

Here's the point where I was having trouble... matching up perfectly after just a little bit of tweaking!

After sewing and pressing your rows into pairs, sew 1-2 to 3-4 and 5-6 to 7 and press. You now have two halves to sew together.

A quick tip: Your quilt top is getting quite large, and a little bit unwieldy. You can make it a little easier to handle when sewing those two halves together by enlarging your sewing area. I simply open the top drawer of my sewing table to hold up some of the quilt, but you could also set up a TV table or card table to the left of your machine. The weight of the quilt will be distributed a little better, enabling you to get your quilt top through the machine without having to fight it as much. (You will DEFINITELY want to use the same trick come quilting time!!)

Your quilt top is ready for borders!

Monday, April 26, 2010

1st Quilt Ever -- Assembling Rows

You've come up with a layout for your quilt that you're happy with -- now it's time to sew those blocks into rows!

I prefer to chain piece this step. It may seem a little bit daunting to keep track of all those squares without mixing up your perfect layout -- so I will show you the method I use to keep track of everything.

We will sew two rows together at a time. Place your row 1 stack and your row 2 stack to the side of your machine, with the row 1 stack closest to you. Orient the stacks so that the bottom edge of the stacks are closest to you.

Remove your #1 paper and pin it in the top left corner of just the first block in your row. (I moved my stack to take this photo, but you should keep yours to the left of your machine.)

Take the first block from the top of your pile and place it in front of you. Then take the second block and place it to the right of the first.

Fold the second over the top of the first, like you are shutting a book. Line up the edges carefully and sew the right hand side with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Once you've sewn all the way to the end of your seam, leave your first two squares under the presser foot, as shown. Take the top block from your stack and place it in front of you. Take the next block and place it to the right. (Keep those blocks oriented the same way they were in your stack!)

Fold the right side over the left side, again like you are shutting a book. Sew the seam on the right hand side, stopping after you finish the seam and leaving the blocks under your machine.

Now you are left with one block -- #5 in the row. Place it carefully out of the way, keeping the bottom edge closest to you. I push mine to the back of my sewing table.

You will start the process again for your row 2 stack, sewing your blocks together the exact same way.

Push your row two #5 block out of the way -- be sure to mentally keep track of which one is your row 1 #5 block and which is your row 2 #5 block!

You now have four pairs of blocks trailing out the back of your sewing machine.

Take the pair furthest from you and snip the threads. Open the pair of blocks, keeping the end you just snipped towards yourself. Snip the second pair and open it, again keeping the end you snipped towards yourself, and place it to the right of your first pair.

Once again you will shut your blocks like a book and sew the right hand side.

Repeat for the next two pairs.

You will now snip off the row from the back of your machine, keeping the edge you just snipped closest to you, bring it to the front and open it. Lay your row 1 #5 block to the right of your row, close it like shutting a book, and sew. Repeat for row #2.

If all of this made sense, you have now survived sewing two rows of your quilt together!!
Continue this method with all other rows.

After each of your rows are together you will press the seam allowances between the blocks. Note that there are other seams in your blocks -- those are already pressed. You only need to press the seams you just sewed.

Here's what you will do: Alternate the direction you press your seam allowances for each row. I press all my odd-numbered rows' seam allowances to the left, and all my even-numbered rows' seam allowances to the right.

Rows! Done! We're nearing the end of the piecing!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

1st Quilt Ever -- Cutting & Arranging Blocks

You've got your nine-patches all sewn together and pressed -- now it's time to cut them! (Are you scared? Don't be!)

Line up one block on your cutting mat so that all the edges are aligned with lines on the mat. It should fit within a 17" square. You will then cut your nine-patch in quarters... Measure carefully...

...and you will end up with four 8 1/2" blocks. Pretty painless? Pretty easy? You bet!
Repeat for your other eight squares.
Note: It may be tempting to stack a few and cut them all at the same time. I find that my cutting becomes less accurate when I do this. It's only nine squares -- doing them one at a time won't take THAT long! :o)

You now have 36 squares to work with -- and it's time to lay out your quilt!! WOO HOO!

Now, there IS a little bit of method to the madness. When laying out your quilt, you want to create continuous "trails" with the skinnier strips and smaller squares. This diagram may help you with your layout (although obviously your "trails" won't be as obvious as this). One row will look like this...

...and the row below it will look like this.

This way you have the same "trails" running horizontally and vertically through your quilt.

Scrappy madness!
It's hard to see those "trails" now, but if you look closely you will find them!

Do your best to distribute your fabrics evenly. I like to try not to have the same fabrics touching themselves anywhere in the quilt. I also like to try and distribute the fabrics in the larger squares fairly evenly throughout -- although in my example you can see on the bottom row I have two next to each other! (I changed it after taking this photo!)

It may take some time and a lot of tweaking to come up with a layout you are pleased with. You WILL have one block leftover -- set it aside for later.

Once you are happy with your layout you will stack up and label your rows. First, create seven little squares of paper and label them 1 - 7. Then, starting with row 1, take the first block and stack it on top of the second. Take those two and stack them on top of the third, and so on until you have one stack. Bust out your #1 paper and a pin, and pin ALL the row 1 squares together in the top left corner.

Repeat for your other six rows, and stack your stacks.

You're all set!

Friday, April 23, 2010

1st Quilt Ever -- FLICKR GROUP!

I'm thrilled that there is at least a small handful of people following along to make their own
1st Quilt Ever!!
Won't it be even MORE fun for everyone to show off their fabric selections, progress, and finished quilts in one place??
And even post discussions and help each other out with questions?

I've created a Flickr group!!

When everyone has completed their quilts I will (with permission) host a
"1st Quilt Ever" Quilt Show
here on my blog!

I am so excited to have people following along and making their own quilts!!

Click here to join the Flickr group!