Monday, October 29, 2012

Baby Blanket in an Hour

Layout of satin and fleece for baby blanket

I rolled and pinned the satin, prior to sewing.

Zigzag stitched the edges

My husband's boss' wife just had baby number two. I was about to send a generic Hallmark card when I remembered that I can now sew a gift. I dont' know about anyone else but when I give a gift to someone that sews, I have that anxiety that goes with believing that my gift is going to be picked apart and criticized. (It's the thought that counts, right?)

Regardless, this is the first thing I've made that I am ready to give away. It is being given to a non-sewer.

It didn't take long to find ideas for making an easy baby blanket. One of the best things about learning how to sew in the age of blogging is that there is never a shortage of ideas for projects.

I resisted the urge to try to iron the satin flat. I have a feeling my smoke detector would have been triggered by even a low setting on the iron.

I used a transparent foot to sew a two layers of zigzag stitching around the satin border. The act of sewing created a nice crease.

Here's where the lessons learned portion of this blog comes in. As you may be able to see on the back of the blanket, there is a slight bunching. I only realized it when I was sewing the last of the the 4 sides. In hindsight, I should have played a bit more with my tension and changed the needle to a smaller size. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the way this came out.

Final version of fleece and satin baby blanket from front

Friday, October 19, 2012

Summer in the Park Quilt (MSQC Youtube Tutorial)

If you have searched for quilting tutorials on Youtube, you have no doubt run into any number of the Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorials. This is one the few videos that Jenny does not star in.

This is a really easy (even for me) tube quilt made from jelly roll strips.

I chose Moda's Spa by Deb Strain for this particular quilt. My sister doesn't read this so I can say to the world wide web that it's her Christmas gift.

You start by sewing alternating jelly roll strips. In this case I sewed blue-white-blue and another strip of white-blue-white. Now this is where the "tube" part comes in. The next thing you do is sewing these strips together (face to face).

As you can see from the video, you need a quilting ruler to get the correct angle to create a square.

For the quilt backing, I chose Spa Tonal Cobalt Damask Yardage, which I purchased from the Fat Quarter Shop. What I liked about the Fat Quarter Shop is that if they don't have what you're looking for in stock, or there is a note that says "coming soon", you can enter your email address and be notified right away when your product is available.

After piecing all the blocks together, I had an excess number of triangle shaped scraps that I turned into a series of squares. I then created a striped line down the back of the quilt, two thirds of the way accross. I have already "stitched in the ditch" but I want to fill the white areas with free-motion designs. I am learning as I go that miss-matching the thread is a bad idea. Even on my new Janome, I having having tension issues that are magnified by the fact that the bobbing thread is dark blue and the top thread is white. I think I'm going to have to rip these stitches and start again. I put this down last night and plan to come back to it.

This is the semi-completed quilt.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tumbler Quilt (continued)

If you have ever made a tumbler quilt, you've probably wondered how you were going to add sashing to this irregulary shaped quilt. I debated whether or not I would cut the edges to make a nice straight line or whether I would add small peices to the sashing to create a straight line.

In the end, I opted for a different option.

Here's what I ended up doing:

I began ironing the fold back and pinning the quilt to a white jelly roll strip.

It's hard to see because I used white thread but here is a view from the back.

I stitched down the side of the quilt, carefully, to preserve the shape of the quilt. I used the smallest seam possible. I am hoping the slight extra bulk doesn't come back to haunt me.

Here is the final quilt top, ready for a quilt sandwhich. I plan to do some free motion experimenting with this one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Before You Purchase Your First Sewing Machine...

If you are thinking about starting to sew, do not skimp on your sewing machine. I bought a Brother LS-2125, the reason being that it is so common it is available at your local Wal-Mart. I was new to sewing and I wanted a good starter machine that could piece and I could hopefully learn free motion quilting. Big mistake! After the second time I free motion quilted, upon going back to straight stitching, the tension was irreparably off. I should not have had to spend 3 hours trying to get a decent straight stitch. The machine is essentially toast. I don't think a decent stitch after only a month and a half and $70 is that great an expectation.

Even though I had this machine for only a month and a half, I just had to get a better machine. I already have a 1930's era White 77 series machine that is a sold metal work horse. I just needed another machine that I can do free motion and the occasional decorative stitch on.

Every blog I look at recommends Janome machines.

I wish I had seen this video on Youtube before. In the video, a sewing machine repair man warns against purchasing machine without a metal frame. When asked which brand he recommends, he states Janome.

When I took my Brother apart, I realized how cheaply made it was.
When searching for my new Janome I checked out Leah Day's posting on great sewing machines, under $500. I opted for the HD-1000.
Another Lesson Learned...

Thinking About Getting a Joann’s Fabric Gift Card?

Think Again…

I spend quite a bit of time in the Daly City, CA store location and have come to enjoy my afternoon trips and the 50% off coupons. So when my Aunt asked me which fabric store I would like a birthday gift card to, I told her Joann's, without hesitation.

After receiving the physical card in the mail I decided to activate it. It seems Joann's has a two part gift card activation system. They require that you enter the numbers off the physical card and the electronic gift card and electronic PIN, which is generated and emailed when purchasing the gift card. Sounds easy enough... After 4 unsucessful attemps, I called the 877# to use the activate card feature. No luck there either. I used the contact us link on the Joann homepage and sent an email to their customer service department. I NEVER heard back. When I say never, a month is too long to not respond to a customer. If that wasn’t bad enough, I wrote a snail mail letter and mailed it off with 5 pages of back-up documentation. Two weeks later, I’m still waiting to hear back.

Where is the $50 my Aunt sent me? I’d love to know.

Joann Fabric customer service has got to be the worst in the industry.