Saturday, July 24, 2010

Red Hat Tote

I had wanted to make something a little special for my mother's birthday. Her and my aunt are both active members of their local Red Hat what better gift than a custom-made Red Hat tote.  :>) After much searching I found the "perfect" fabric for it and just needed to find the "perfect" pattern. I was looking for the pattern when I spied this lovely sample tote hanging above a fabric display. Unfortunately when I asked for the pattern, I discovered that there wasn't one. It was a "panel tote"....meaning I had to purchase the panel in order to make the tote. So the panel was added to my growing pile of fabric.

Took everything home and sat down to make the "panel tote"....thinking it would be relatively easy. After all, how hard is it to cut out the pieces and sew them together. Turns out it wasn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be. Distinguishing the front and back pieces was easy. What was not easy was figuring out which strips were for the handle and which ones were for the bag gusset. Not a single thing was marked.....and the strips were all the same length. One set was a bit wider than the other set....that was the only difference. I ended up using the strips that should have been for the tote handles for the bag gusset instead. Didn't figure this out until the body of the bag was assembled and I was looking at the handles thinking "these are awful skinny!". Had a moment of panic before I realized that I had more than enough of the lining fabric left and this would make wonderful handles. Yes, I did line the bag.....and even included pockets on the inside (something the panel did not include).

The "panel tote" turned out to be a practice piece for the one I finally made for my mother. Although it's not as "fancy" as the practice piece, it did go together beautifully. I was smart enough to make patterns as I went so other totes can be made at a later date.....if needed or desired. The practice piece went to my oldest daughter who absolutely loves how large it is. She uses it on a daily basis. The Red Hat tote went to my mother who absolutely adores it.  :>) She can't wait to show it off to her Red Hat group and plans on using it on their next outing. Isn't it wonderful when things that don't start off the best end up turning out better than you could imagine??  :>)

Friday, July 9, 2010

30's Sampler

There are two things I really enjoy about quilting.....samplers and block of the months. To have the two combined is sheer joy for me. When I saw this quilt and learned that it was being offered as a block of the month.....well, I just couldn't refuse.  :>) Not only is it a sampler.....and done using 30's reproduction fabrics (which I adore!).....but it is a bom that is done at your own pace. Which means no waiting each month for a new block. Yea!! I've been picking up a new block every week and have been making the block the very next day. It's been great.  :>)

I have to confess that these blocks have been a bit challenging for me as well. I'm learning new techniques and have really been enjoying that. It's also nice knowing that I only have to make one block.....for those techniques that may not be the most enjoyable for me. One of the new things I learned was English Paper Piecing. I knew what it was. Was familiar with how it was done, but had never given it a try myself.....until the flower basket block. Not only did this block give me the chance to try my hand at English Paper Piecing, but I also got to try my hand at invisible machine applique.

EPP templates were included with the block. Little tiny ones (finished out at 1"). I opted to make my own out of freezer paper. I then ironed the seam allowance of each little piece to the waxy side of the freezer paper. Worked out great! I had pieces with wonderful stability to work with. Got to play with my Clover mini iron. And discovered that it was real easy to take the freezer paper out and still have the piece retain its shape. Used this method with the basket and leaves. A bit of glue stick helped the pieces stay in place on the block background and I was ready for invisible machine applique. I was a bit torn as to what thread to use. Should I use one that matches the applique fabric? Or should I use an invisible thread? I opted to use an invisible thread simply because it was my first attempt at this and I had wanted to try a couple of different stitches. The first stitch I tried was a small zig-zag. Worked out rather nicely. Then I tried a small blanket stitch. Also worked out rather nicely. As for preference? I really don't have one. Both worked nicely for what I was doing. Both were relatively "invisible" due to the thread I was using. The blanket stitch was a bit nicer in that it really help keep those leaf points nice....and worked beautifully on sharp inside points. I think it will all depend on what I'm stitching down as to which stitch I will use. It's nice knowing that I have options.  :>)

The bow-tie block was a new block for me. I had tons of fun with this one and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and easily the smaller units went together. Not sure if I would do an entire quilt using this block due to all the small pieces (the completed block measures 10 1/2") but I am glad that I got to make one for the sampler.

The Wheel of Fortune block was another interesting adventure for me. This block used templates....which I had used before so that wasn't really anything new. The challenge with this block is that the block instructions consisted of one page with a 6" drawing of the block......and nothing else. Nothing saying how large the completed block should be. No templates. Nothing. I have to confess I did puzzle over this one for a night. Then it dawned on me. Why not simply look the block up in my Encyclopedia of Pieced Blocks.....find the block number......use this to locate the block in Block Base and then transfer it over to EQ7 where I can print out templates the size I need......which is exactly what I did. Had a completed block that afternoon.

Brickwork was a fun block to do. It was another block that I had never made before. Not really a very difficult block to do. The biggest challenge was making sure all the pieces were laid out in the right order....and stayed that way. The block consists of approximately 70 "bricks" that are 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" in size. This block measured 11 1/2" when completed. Today I will go and pick up my next block. Wonder what it will be??