Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wonderland Quilt Along Block #11: The Teacup

Hey everyone! I'm so excited to have you here for block #11 of the Wonderland Quilt Along. As always, make this project your own. Fandom in Stitches has some fun Disney version blocks you might want to add to the mix.

Today we have a wee cup and plate. Go ahead and pick up your pattern.

Now that you're all ready, I have some tricks. Let's start off with that skinny little handle. You may remember my suggestion to use the Quick Turn for the tube on our last block. You could do that, as it can turn little tubes too, but I have another idea. This time I'm using the Clover Hot Ruler, one of my favorite toys. I cut a scrap of fabric on the bias (diagonally) and pressed it over 1/4" using the ruler.

I removed it from the ruler and folded it over again 1/4" before pressing.

I then opened up one side and cut it down to 1/8".

I tucked the 1/8" side under the longer one. This will be the back side.

Then I bent that baby into submission and pressed until cooperation was reached. If you didn't cut on the bias, you're bending may be not-so-much at this point.

Affix your handle on C, the larger side template, with a thin line of school glue, or a glue stick applied to the handle. I ran some stitches over the top and bottom 1/8" from the raw edge of C so I wouldn't be surprised by any sneaky shifting. My top part could have handled being scooted down a bit, but you'll know better.

I sewed the curves using the same process as last month with the Hookah block. Every few stitches I lift the presser foot with the needle down and reposition the top fabric so the raw edges are aligned.

Then I take a few more stitches and repeat the process.

To allow this block to press flat I clip the seam without cutting through my line of stitching.

After sewing on the two side pieces, put removable stabilizer on the back and appliquƩ the handle down. I used Aurifil clear invisible thread in the top and a matching 50 wt in the bobbin.

The plate is constructed using stitch and flip triangles. I like to sew just a bit to the side of the drawn line that is closest to the corner I will be pressing toward. I'm using my seam ripper as a pointer for you here. This accounts for the tiny bit of bulk the thread width and fold over of the fabric takes up.

Don't forget to cut away the extra fabric from the seam allowance.

Now, I'll share a sneaky trick. I actually cut B 5 1/2" x 2". Then I sewed it on and cut the remaining unit to 5 1/2". This way if my block shrunk during my curved piecing (which it did, given that the 1-1/4" mark isn't exactly on the seam line at the top of the cup), I'm covered.

I cheated again! Here I cut piece A 5 1/2" x 6" (or something larger than the specified 5 1/2" anyway). I attached the 5 1/2" side and trimmed my block down to 10 1/2".

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ch- Ch- Changes

Have you noticed things shaking up recently? I feel like a bit of a curmudgeon, as I'm a bit skeptical of such modifications.

Craftsy Unlimited has now become Bluprint. It works the same way, except there are now fitness classes and such. I had been hoping for offerings in these categories for a while, so this is an answer to my dreams. That said, there are currently more lecture, rather than participatory, classes than I would have expected such as "How to Boost Your Physical & Mental Energy" and "Physiology & Fitness". You can do Hip Hop with Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance, so I may have to give that a try. If you aren't already subscribed, you can give he trial a spin for free. Let me know what you think. I'm still getting used to the new format, and have my fingers crossed for more of the awesome quilting classes I've come to expect from Craftsy.

FREE 7 Day Bluprint Trial at

Then, on a less pleasant note, there's the robot take-over of Instagram. Posts keep popping up that have beautiful quilt pictures---none of which belong to the account where they are found. They typically have the same text as the original followed by a request that the viewer follow the account. Further down (and generally beyond the three dots that you have to click to expand the description) is sometimes attribution in order to comply with IG guidelines and then a ton of hashtags that often make no sense. What's with these accounts that contain not a shred of original content? From what I've heard, they are automatically programmed bots that poach content in order to gather followers, likes, and comments---all of which makes an account more valuable. Handles with more interaction and followers appear more often now that a chronological feed is no more, and have access to additional features such as the swipe up option that links to a store. The accounts can be sold or used to gain paid influencer posts. It is possible to block these accounts or report them to IG. The multitude of them, and that they often don't violate IG policy is creating issues for those wanting to communicate authentically and efficiently.

On a related subject, what do you think of the IG Stories? I suspect IG encourages users to create story content so their intermingled sponsored offerings are more lucrative. However, I find that most videos aren't particularly edifying, especially since the creator does not have much incentive to invest effort in the quality of the short-lived video. Oh the other hand, I frequently hear stats being quoted about how video is the new mode of social media.

Now, for something awesome! Target has School List Assist. Since I have giant teacher wish lists to manage and dread going to the store for discount crayons only to find the bin completely emptied, I was excited to see this website feature. I just picked my kids' schools and grades. It allowed me to automatically add everything on the list to my shopping cart, while giving me the option to delete or edit whatever I wanted. Since I have a Redcard, I can save 5% and have everything shipped to me for free. If I want the items sooner, I can choose to pick the items up at customer service instead without having to search the store with kids that will beg for all the things that aren't on the list at all.

It's been a while since I mentioned, but I've been planning to get Invisiline to straighten up my teeth. (In case you might ever entertain a similar idea, I though I'd share.) I healed up from my gum graft which my orthodontist mandated so my teeth would remain secure even with the shifting they would encounter. I'd postponed the procedure so that I wouldn't disrupt my son's nursing with a day's worth of localized anesthesia, but went ahead when he had reach the 11 month mark. Anyhow, I wanted to share a few impressions from my initial experience. This YouTube video sums it up nicely, and ether girl in it is more adorable than me. As for me, here are a few things that caught me unawares:

  • I can't open or close my mouth completely. There are bumps on the trays (clear retainers) that prevent you from grinding your teeth together and attempt to retrain your bite. It's awkward to not be able to press my teeth together without a 1/4" gap. Because I have elastic bands as well, I find that when I yawn at night, it makes one side pop off and need reattachment. I don't open my mouth completely since it's being rubber banded shut.
  • I have a lisp because I have to place my tongue in new places to make sounds and I haven't quite figured it out yet. I hear it'll get better. Until then, I can't even say "lisp".
  • It's pokey. For the first three days, the edges of the trays that are nearest to the gum jabbed the inside of my cheek/lip and rubbed blisters, especially where there are hooks to attach the bands.  Because of the unfamiliarity of the bands, I couldn't keep from finagling with them with my tongue, making my tongue roughed up too.
  • Unlike my former retainer, the trays are very difficult to take out and put back in. I have to pull out the back portion first on both sides and then yank so hard it feels like I'm either going to crack the trays or pull my teeth out. This is not something I can do in any kind of inconspicuous fashion, so I have to spend some quality time in front of a bathroom mirror any time I want to eat. Putting the trays back in is easier with the exception of the elastic bands. I have shot more bands than I can count across the bathroom attempting to draw one end over the clear hooks. It isn't quick or pretty at this point. Because you don't want any food trapped in the trays and rotting your teeth out, you need to brush every time you eat even the slightest snack or drink anything but water.
  • In the past week, I've lost 7 pounds due to how much of a deterrent the trays are to eating. You have to really want a snack to go through the trouble of taking out your trays, brushing your teeth, and putting them back in, which isn't the sort of thing it's proper to do at the table. For me, I can afford the loss since I still look pregnant. I know this because a Dad at who saw me at my daughter's cheerleading practice told his wife who is an assistant to my orthodontist who congratulated me and asked what trimester I was in. Um...the eighth. šŸ˜ž It also occurred when I was supplementing my stash at a local sewing machine shop. The owner said, "You're not expecting again, are you?" šŸ˜§ For the record, the appropriate time to ask a woman if they're pregnant is never, ever, ever. Because if a woman want you to know that information, she'll tell you. Furthermore, "You're going to have to have a talk with your husband about fixing that," and "Have you figured out how that happens?" (referring to pregnancy) are not humorous, ever,---whether you're a friend or a complete stranger, or the former moving to the later because of the question you just asked. I'm done ranting about that and will move back to ranting about my teeth. (Lucky you!)
  • Perhaps it's my orthodontist's preference, but I have a lot of tooth-colored knobs on my teeth to help the trays push my teeth around. There are only a couple teeth that do not have these "attachments", and some have multiple ones. These are exposed when the trays are out and are abrasive. They are unpleasant to pull my lips around, which is impossible to avoid when eating.

What changes have you noticed in the quilting world and beyond? Is it for the best, or not so much?

Follow on Bloglovin

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Wonderland Quilt Along Block #10: The Hookah

Welcome to the latest installment of the Wonderland Quilt Along. I've enjoyed seeing everyone's blocks in the Facebook Group and at #WonderlandQuiltAlong on Instagram. Some genius ideas have cropped up including glow in the dark fabric for the Cheshire cat's mouth and embroidered labels for the bottle and cake. This month I'm bringing out a few new tricks to push your skills including curved piecing and turning a tube.

Grab your free pattern for the Hookah. If you've just arrived, check out the previous posts for the other blocks. It's not too late to catch up! There's going to be a grand sharing of finished quilts with a chance to win incredible prizes. Hint: Aurifil thread! šŸ’• Stay tuned for more awesomeness. Don't worry, you don't have to make every block just as I have. Feel free to make it your own. Swap some of my blocks for those of your own creation, design you own layout, or use one of the blocks to create an entirely unique project (such as the mushroom as part of a gnome quilt, or the flamingo with lawn chairs and flip flops).

Now, about those curves; line up just the very top part. Take a few stitches and stop with the needle down.

Lift the presser foot while leaving the needle down.

Guide the bottom fabric with your right hand. Lift the top fabric with your left hand. Realign the raw edges of the fabric, and lower the presser foot. Take a few more stitches. Continue alternating between realigning the edges and taking a few stitches until you finish the seam.

Snip the seam and press.

Now let's talk some strip piecing. There are two sets of identical rows (rows with C & D and K & L) in the hookah, so I've given you instructions to make the process faster by cross-cutting. Cut two background pieces 5" x 4" for C and two background pieces 3" x 3" for K. Cut a 1 1/2" x 4" piece of a different fabric for D and a 5 1/2" x 3" piece of another non-background fabric for L. Sew a C piece to both 4" sides of D and a K piece to both 3" sides of L.

After you sew the pieces together, you will have the makings for two rows per unit.

Cut the CDC unit into two 2" sections and the KLK unit into two identical 1 1/2" sections. Use the pattern diagram to locate where these rows are positioned.

Sew together each row, and then connect the rows.

For the hose, cut a 2 1/2" bias strip.

I cut two strips from a fat quarter and connected the ends, making sure to overlap so the edges met at the quarter inch mark. Then I folded the strip in half so the long edges meet and stitched 1/4" from the edge of the long side, pressed the seam open, and stitched one of the short ends.

I used a Dritz Quick Turn to reverse the tube. You put the big tube part in the open end.

Push it to the closed end.

Poke the end of the fabric tube into the plastic tube using the wooden stick.

Keep shoving and scrunching the fabric tube onto the plastic tube until you can push the sewn end of the fabric tube through the open end using the stick.

After pressing the tube flat, I used a glue stick to position it how I liked on the background fabric, which i cut oversized. I machine appliquƩd it down using Aurifil clear monofilament thread with a 50 wt thread that matched the top fabric in the bobbin. Here's what the stitch looks like from the stabilizer side, as you can't actually see the stitches on the top.

Don't sew the two parts together yet. You'll need to attach the Mushroom block to the left side of the Hookah body first. Then stitch the hose part to the Mushroom/ Hookah Body unit.

Thanks for joining me. Sorry I haven't been very responsive to comments. I hadn't realized they weren't coming to my inbox. Thankfully, that's fixed now.

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wonderland Quilt Along Block #9: The Cheshire

Hello fellow Wonderland Quilt Alongers! It's been so much fun seeing what everyone is making in the Facebook group and on IG. This time around, we'll be pulling both machine appliquƩ and paper-piecing techniques overviewed from previous blocks.

Go ahead and grab your paper-piecing pattern and appliquĆ© templates. Make your paper-pieced units. Don't forget to cut the filler pieces for the side of the cat. I cut off the paw unit in this photo since I placed it upside down originally and don't want to lead you astray. Check with the diagram. Do as I say, not as I do.

If you will be placing light fabrics above darker or patterned fabrics within your appliquƩ work, it is advisable to fuse an extra layer of solid white underneath each shape to prevent shadowing. I apply a section of fusible to the white that is larger than the shape. I peel off the paper backing and fuse it to the wrong side of the intended fabric, grouping shapes by color as you see below. (Both the teeth and eyeballs are together.) I fuse my outlined and bubble cut fusible shapes to the white fabric before cutting out on the line. Confession: Those dark green pupils didn't need lined with the white, as they are darker than the solid white eyeballs. I just got carried away.

I use Steam-A-Seam II Lite by The Warm Company since it is slightly tacky, but completely re-positionable until fused.

Don't forget stabilizer. I like an iron-on tear away. Get it out of there before sandwiching your quilt or it will be crunchy. For harder to remove places, gently scratch the back with a seam ripper. Don't get carried away and jab a hole through. Confession: I did this on the card suits. If you do this, touch up with Fray Check on a cheap watercolor brush. Patch the hole on the wrong side of the block with white fabric that has fusible applied.

I used a fabric marker to draw the teeth lines. As another option, striped fabric may be able to do the work for you.

50 wt Aurifil threads are my choice for the appliquĆ©. Any smaller number for the weight is thicker than you need and will pile on itself when you have such a short stitch length. My chosen beauties are Light Emerald 2860, White 2024, and Light Blush 2420 (Formerly known as Fleshy Pink. However, I will no longer be using this term, with the exception of the Zombie Collection. For the record, I have not secured official endorsement of the aforementioned product.)  Matching the bobbin thread prevents any peeks of a different color from pulling to the top in case the tension isn't perfect. It's also better to have the top thread pull a bit to the back, rather than the other way around.

And there you have it. If you want a curved stripe like my original cat, cut a square 10" x 10" or bigger. Cut a curve across the middle with a Quick Curve Ruler or other specialized equipment (aka dinner plate).  Cut an arc about 3" wide out of the fabric you want to use for the stripe with the same curved instrument. Piece in the stripe. Then use this as if it were a solid fabric for the first piece of the body unit (C) when paper piecing. Make sure the stripe isn't aligned all cattywampus. (You make cheer for my clever little pun. Or groan. Whatever.)

And now...I bring you a clever photo beauty trick. If you don't want me to spoil the magic and leave you a sentiment of disillusionment, this is your warning. Click an affiliate link above and go buy something instead of sticking around to have your world rocked by the deliberate fakeness of my lovely oak backgrounds.

So you're still here, eh? Even after my bad pun. Whoa! In that case, pick out some enticing backgrounds from Dollar Tree. You'll need Con-Tact shelf liner (2 rolls per desired pattern) and Foam Board. Peel the paper backing from one corner of the shelf liner. Start at one corner of the foam board, align the two sides of the liner with the foam board, and adhere the Con-Tact shelf liner. Gently alternate unpeeling, smoothing out any air bubbles, and checking edge alignment. If things get wacky, pull the liner back a little, and try again. It's very repositionable.

Cut a skinny rectangle to fill the space, making sure the pattern goes the same direction. Use a gentle curve to blend in the new piece. Eyes are drawn to straight lines more than curved ones. At least, that's my theory. Peel and apply.

You'll have some overhang (not like my post-pregnancy kind, so don't panic). Flip the board over and cut it off with your rotary cutter.

Now use this as your photo background. Fool everyone into thinking you have well-lit wooden floors, or marble. Except me, that is. And everyone who didn't run off to get some pretty Aurifil threads. Now you can't even look at the following picture the same way, can you? Well, don't say I didn't warn you.

Follow on Bloglovin