Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Natty Top

I have about a dozen things I really should be working on before taking time to make new clothes, but I couldn’t resist!

I found a simple and flattering pattern on Pinterest, and the perfect knit fabric to make it in at Quilting Mayhem.

Natty Top PDF Pattern
Natty Top Free PDF Pattern

(Click the photo to be taken to the original site for the free pattern download.)

art gallery petal and plume knit
Art Gallery Fabric: Petal and Plume Knit

(Click the fabric photo to purchase online through Quilting Mayhem.)

The pattern calls for using a serger and/or a double needle. When I started making the shirt on Thursday evening I had neither. I quick trip to the craft store and I was able to pick up the needle Friday, and finish the shirt on Saturday morning. I love how it turned out!

natty top petal and plume art gallery

Nathan and I went out for a Saturday morning date to the Lake Stevens Aquafest craft show, and then met up with Grandma and Grandpa for lunch… so it was a perfect time to wear it and feel all fancy!

natty top petal and plume art gallery

Plus, I went to a bachelorette party Saturday night! It was my first time going to such a party, and I had a blast. I’m thankful to be meeting new friends here, and that I made my first shirt that fit and lasted through the night (and beyond!) so that is a bonus!

This evening I was going to make more progress on a quilt I’m working on for the shop, but my fashion fabric was freshly washed in the dryer, so it had to be dealt with instead. I decided to use the same pattern, but try to make it out of a non-stretch cotton fabric.

natty top non-stretch cotton fabric

It worked out perfectly fine. I’m thinking about letting out the seam a little bit on the hip, just enough for a little wiggle room, but still it isn’t to shabby if I may say so myself. In all reality, the shirt is finished. I can put it on and take it off without dislocating my shoulders so I will probably just leave it. I just won’t eat any Mexican or Chinese food when I wear it because there is no extra room.

Now I’m anxious to do more fashion sewing because Pinterest has provided me with another tutorial for a vintage inspired top that I really want to try next.

retro inspired wrap shirt tutorial
Retro Inspired Wrap Shirt Tutorial

(Click the photo for a direct link to the tutorial.)

I would have started this shirt tonight, but I’m about 5″ short on fabric! Thankfully, Quilting Mayhem carries the fabric I have planned for this shirt.

cotton and steel fabric tokyo train lawn
Cotton + Steel Fabrics: Tokyo Train Lawn

(Click the photo to buy the fabric online.)

I know octopus fabric isn’t everyone’s style, but I think it is going to be so cute when it’s done. I’m seriously developing a thing for steam-punky octopi – yeah they are a thing!

***Note to Self: Maybe I should do a round-up of octopi fabric on Spoonflower, because I’m already spending so much time browsing through it to begin with!***

Anyway, I have to pick up a little bit more of this fabric before I can start the shirt so in the meantime I guess I will have to focus on the things that need to be done.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

This Otter Life

This week I’m teaching a Kid’s Sewing Camp at Quilting Mayhem. It has been so much fun! Mind you, it has been a little challenging to keep the kids happy for six hours each day, but they are doing amazing!

So far this week we’ve made a pillowcase (complete with french seam), a book bag, an infinity scarf, and a drawstring bag! Tomorrow we are assembling our stitch books and making a set of pot holders. Then we round-up the week with show-n-tell, and the kids have a passion (or at least a great interest) in sewing more. I feel like it’s a complete win!

Next week I’m teaching a Teen Sewing Class, and then guess what!!!

After that I’m going to be an official employee of Quilting Mayhem!!!!!!

The mothership is drawing me in, and I love it. I’m going to be working on their website and marketing stuff or whatever random thing they need me to do. It is amazing how much my life has changed and stayed the same in such a short period of time.

Seriously, a little over a year ago, I was living in Oklahoma, teaching classes, and kind of not satisfied with where I was. I sold off almost everything, packed my things in luggage and took a flight to Seattle. I spent a couple of months couch surfing, and during that time I met the love of my life -which was totally not part of my game plan! Now I have a family, a new business forming, a new job in a new quilt shop, and I’m back to teaching the crafts and skills I love. This time last year I was struggling, trying to keep my head above water with the new move and everything, but now it feels like things are really starting to solidify for me. I appreciate and love it so much I could never put it into the proper words.

I suppose that’s the way an “Otter Life” just works out. :)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mini 16-Patch Quilt Block

In week four of Quilting Mayhem’s Traditional Block Thursday they did a 16-patch block.

Here is the mini-version!

Oh yeah, wait! I messed it up so many times! Measuring twice, and cutting/sewing once, was not happening the night I made these blocks. Finally, the last one turned out because the seam allowances finally properly aligned in my favor.

Here is how to make it:

Cutting Instructions:

Fabric A = Ivory
2 – 7/8″ x 4″ strips

Fabric B = Purple
2 – 7/8″ x 4″ strips

***A couple of my strips are slightly bigger than 4″ long, that is okay because we trim them down later. Most important is that they are exactly 7/8″ wide!***

Sewing Instructions:

Use a 1/4″ seam allowance. It needs to be exact!

***Normally I use a scant seam, but it is important it is exactly 1/4″ because the pieces are so small, even being off a little bit will set the block off.***

Take one of each fabric, right sides together and sew on the 1/4″ seam. I sew both sets at the same time by chain piecing.

***Chain piecing is sewing pieces of fabric together without trimming the threads between each piece until the step of sewing is complete. In a lot of cases you don’t even have to lift your presser foot, though with teeny tiny pieces like this I usually do because it helps keep the fabrics in place.***

Trim your threads, open each unit, and arrange so the pattern alternates.

Sew these pieces together right side together.

***In the picture you can see one of the strips being longer than the others. I just matched as closely together making sure I didn’t lose my 4″-length in the process.***

Press all the seams to one direction.

***Normally I press towards the dark to hide seam allowances, but for this block it helps the seams line up to press them all one direction.***

Cut this into 4 blocks each 7/8″ wide.

Arrange the pieces in an alternating pattern so they will look like a checker board. In the picture I flipped the last two over so you could see how the seams alternate now that the strips turn opposite directions.

Sew two rows at a time, right sides together.

Since the seams alternate they will match up and sort of “lock-in” place when you are sewing rows to each other.

Chain piece both sets of rows.

Trim the threads, open the units up to make sure they are arranged correctly. Then sew them together.

Press the block flat, and trim to a 2″ square.

Now we have three completed mini-blocks!

Mini 9-Patch Tutorial

Obviously, I’m behind on Quilting Mayhem’s Traditional Block Thursday, but I’m making progress.

Today I skipped to the 9-patch block that they did in week three.

This 9-patch goes together so quickly it’s almost ridiculous.

Here are the instructions for the mini-version.

Cutting Instructions:

Fabric A = Coral
4 – 1″ squares

Fabric B = Teal
4 – 1″ squares

Fabric C = Ivory
1 – 1″ square

Sewing Instructions:

Lay out the squares the way you want them.

Sew using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Sew the first and second square of each row together, right sides together.

I chain piece as often as I can.

***Chain piecing is sewing pieces of fabric together without trimming the threads between each piece until the step of sewing is complete. In a lot of cases you don’t even have to lift your presser foot, though with teeny tiny pieces like this I usually do because it helps keep the fabrics in place.***

Once the first two squares of each of the three rows has been pieced trim the threads, and open them in order. Sew the last square of each row to the end.

Trim the threads and press the seams. I press the odd rows in one direction and the even rows the opposite direction. This helps the seams match up and sort of “lock-in” place when you are sewing rows to each other.

Line up the seams and the edges of the first two rows, sew them right sides together, keeping the 1/4″ seam.

Trim your threads, open up the two rows, and add the third row in the same manner.

Press the block open, and now it is time to square it up.

The middle square should be 1/2″ so line up as closely as possible, and make up the differences if necessary. Trim the two sides, flip, realign, and trim the opposite two sides.

You are done!

Now I have one mini 9-patch and two mini Churn Dash Blocks. :) I’m so excited with their teeny tiny cuteness!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mini Churn Dash Quilt Block Tutorial

Every Thursday, Quilting Mayhem posts a traditional quilt block on their Facebook. At the end of the 12 weeks of posts they are going to host a class showing how to assemble the blocks into a quilt.

I think its fun to see the traditional blocks, and its fun to make them in modern fabrics.

However, the most fun I ever have with making traditional blocks is making them teeny tiny!!

So last night, I took their block post from week 7 and made it miniature. I love how it turned out, and hope you do to.

Here is how to make it.

Cutting Instructions:

Fabric A = Coral
1 – 1″ square
2 – 1 1/2″ squares

Fabric B = Teal
1 – 1″ x 5″ rectangle

Fabric C = Ivory
1 – 1″ x 5″ rectangle
2 – 1 1/2″ squares

Sewing Instructions:

Use a 1/4″ seam allowance

Start by sewing your rectangles of fabric B and Fabric C right sides together.

Press your seam open.

***Normally I press towards the dark, but in small blocks like this, it sometimes helps reduce bulk by pressing open.***

Trim this strip to 1″ wide– 1/2″ of each color showing.

Sub-cut this strip into four 1″ squares.

***When I can I “chain cut” so that I can cut the pieces I need with as little movement as possible. In this case I trim the edge, flip it around to the 4″ side of the ruler, trim the opposite edge, and slide my ruler back in one-inch intervals until I’ve cut my 4 squares.***

To make the half-square-triangles for the corner blocks, start by marking a diagonal line down the middle of the light fabric in each set.

**You can use any marking utensil that doesn’t bleed since you will be cutting on this line later.**

Keeping your 1/4″ seam allowance **or scant seam** sew on each side of the diagonal line.

You can chain piece these squares all the way down one side of the line, and turn them and stitch all the way down the other side of the line on both pieces.

***Chain piecing is sewing pieces of fabric together without trimming the threads between each piece until the step of sewing is complete. In a lot of cases you don’t even have to lift your presser foot, though with teeny tiny pieces like this I usually do because it helps keep the fabrics in place.***

Once you have sewn down both sides of the line, trim your threads and cut on the line. Each square now has two triangle pieces that, when opened, will make a half-square-triangle block.

All of these years I’ve been pressing my HST blocks open and then squaring them up. I recently discovered the easiest way in the world to square them up in half the time!

Leaving the block folded and flat, place your ruler on the stitch line. For a 1″ block make sure the top left 1″ mark and bottom-right 1″ mark on your square are positioned exactly on the stitch line with the 1/2″ mark in the middle. (As pictured.)

Then trim the right side of the ruler and the top, and you are done squaring!!!

***As you can see in my picture, I make the HST big and then cut quite a bit off. I do that with smaller blocks like this because it leaves more room to fix and error on the stitching or cutting line.***

***This method works with ever size, you just have to match the points of your ruler the same way!!!***

Press the seams.

***I probably should have pressed these seams open as well, but I’m so in the habit of pressing to the dark that I just went with it. (You know because quilting is an exact science!!!)***

Now you have all your pieces ready to lay out.

Chain piece the first two blocks of each row together, using the 1/4″ seam allowance.

Trim the threads, open each row up, and chain piece the third block to each row.

Normally I press all my odd rows in a block or quilt to one side and all the even rows the opposite direction. For whatever reason, on this block I pressed my odd rows toward the inside and my even row toward the outside.

(There is no rhyme or reason to this, no secret mystery to solve, it just happened that way.)

The direction you iron your seams doesn’t matter so much on this block, except for dealing with bulk. However, ironing the odd rows the same and the even rows opposite of the odd makes it drastically easier to match points because it helps the seams kind of slide into each other when you put the rows right side together.

Matching your seam points sew the first row to the second.

Trim your threads, open it up, and sew the third row to the second row.

Your block is almost complete!!

Press it open.

Up to this point we were completely mathematical. Now, we are going to square it up to 2″ and its very likely your seams are not exactly straight, but they are close enough! Eyeball the difference, center everything the best you can and be done with it.

A lady at a shop I used to work at would say “It makes no difference on a galloping horse.” Meaning, when you are done, and the block or quilt is in use, no one is going to notice that little 1/16th or even 1/8th of a difference “mistake”. So be done with it, and love it because you did it!!