Saturday, April 30, 2011

Of prewashing and soap

Do you pre-wash?

Do you purchase and stack in your fabric storage area only to be removed for cutting then sewing?

Do you wash then starch?

Do you treat different fabrics differently based on the use (or stashing) you have in mind for it?

For the record I once washed and now I soak (using hot-ish water with no liquids or soaps so no need to rinse) except I don't do this for pre-cuts. But I do do it for batting. 

I line dry and then iron and store.

I feel a little guilty about all the water - but that is one of the reasons I now go down the soaking route.  

Why do I go to all this trouble? I want to remove as much of the manufacturing chemicals as possible. I want to test for colourfastness (and sometimes am extremely glad I did) . I want to preshrink - the crinkly look is not for me. It shocks me how grey the soaking water comes out after a soak (or how yellow for the batting). I don't know if it is normal chemicals or it is dust accumulated over the manufacturing, shipping and sitting on shelf . I do know I don't want it stitched into my sewing.   

The reason I don't go and add the starch back in is that I don't like the idea of adding back in a chemical after I have just gone to all the trouble and time of removing them. And if I iron it and cut carefully I can still get accurate pieces.

This is not the only way to to treat (or pre-treat) your fabric but it is the way I use right now.
What do you do? Why?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fabric Shopping - Bali style

When I was in Bali recently I had a pretty minimal shopping list. Some Bali coffee and some batik tools.

I first learnt to batik in craft class at school and then developed them further when I was on exchange in an Indonesian school when I was fifteen. In the last year or so I have really been wanting to give it another try.

I already had a couple of  tjanting tools but I also wanted some with different sized tips and some stamps. I failed on the stamps but I did get the tools.

Also for good measure and because I am never likely to have the skill to make some of these designs I got some completed batik. These first three are from the markets in Ubud and are actually sarongs but are 100% cotton in a weight that approximates quilting weight and equal about two yards worth each.

 I also went to a standard local fabric store in the capital Denpasar.The journey there was interesting - we knew we were heading into the 'non-touristy' areas when all the billboards ceased to be printed in English and I was please to realise that I could still translate the majority of them. All those years in Indonesian class seem not to have been in vein!

I was able to stock up on 2-3 yards of each of the batik stamped fabrics below for about $3 per yard as well as 5 yards of linen with a great drape for the same price per yard.

All in all I would call that a successful fabric trip.

Although I am not at all sure what it will all become...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Travel Wallet tutorial

Last week I left for a little break on a jet plane. I had a milestone birthday and three of my best friends have the same milestone birthday within three weeks so we ditched work, children and took a short break in a lovely villa in Bali. We have only been talking about doing something like it for the best part of the last five years. 

So with the knowledge I once lost my boarding pass between the check-in counter and the gate - in the small airport in Perth without stopping to eat or anything- I decided to make myself a little travel wallet. Somewhere to put all the travel docs, insurance info, have my passport within easy reach as well as a little pocket at the back to stash my boarding pass!

And since I worked out a design I thought I might as well put together a tutorial to share. First off though I need to apologise for the pictures. The light today was terrible and some photos couldn't be used at all!

(Finished size 9"x5"x1")


From print (feature) fabric cut
1x 9.5” x10.5” rectangle
1x 9.5”x 10” rectangle
From the lining (plain) fabric cut
1x 5”x7” rectangle
1x 9.5”x10.5” rectangle
1x 9.5” x 10” rectangle
3x 9.5”x9”rectangle
2x 2”x9”rectangles
From fusible fleece (I used Pellon medium weight) cut
1x 5⅜”x10½”rectangle
1x 8¾ x 5¼” rectangle
From heavy iron-on interfacing
1x 8¾” x 9¾” rectangle
1x 8¾ x 9¼” rectangle
1x 8¾“ x 4“ rectangle
From paper backed fusible web cut
3x 9”x4.24”rectangles
1x 4.5” x3.25” rectangle

Rule a line down the centre of the pocket panel and Mark the 1 /4” seam line on one half. Press the paper backed fusible web into this rectangle.

Fold right sides together and sew closed leaving a small gap for turning.
Remove paper backing and open out.
Be careful not to let it stick to itself and pull out all creases before pressing. Press to stick both halves together. Topstitch folded edge. Do not sew opening closed but do press seam allowances inward.

Measure 4⅟₄” down from the top of the front panel to mark bottom edge of wallet front.
Centre pocket in a pleasing location, pin.
Using a ⅛” topstitch around side and bottom of pocket to secure to front panel ensuring you close the opening at the bottom.

Fuse fusible fleece to the back of the front panel ensuring seam allowances left clear.
Fuse heavy interfacing to the back of the lining panel - also ensuring seam allowance left clear.
Mark 4¾“down from top edge (pocket opening). Sew top edge and bottom and sides between the marks you made.
Clip sewn corners. Turn out. Topstitch along the bottom edge - the one without the pocket.
Set aside.

Mark 5½” down from the front flap edge.
Fuse fusible fleece to outer fabric as before leaving seam allowances free on the larger marked area, this will become the front flap and top edge.
Fuse heavy interfacing to the other half of the outer panel, keeping seam allowances free.
Fuse heavy interfacing to the back/flap lining panel.
Sew front and back panels together this time making the mark 4¾” from the back edge - the one with the interfacing. Turn out.
Topstitch front flap.

Turn in all opening seam allowances
Place passport pocket half on cutting mat with lining side facing up.
Mark 5¼” from the pocket edge. Draw a line across.
Place back/front flap panel lining side up on top with the bottom edge on the line you drew.
Sew front panel to back panel along this line with a narrow topstitch.
The side openings in the front and back panels will be either side of the line you just sewed.

Make as for front pocket by fusing paper backed web to one half keeping seam allowances free.
Sew along long edge to form a tube, turnout and press. Leave side edges raw and do not turn in seam allowances. A ⅛” basting may assist for the next step.

Prepare the side panels by sewing right sides together along the raw short edge. Turn out and press.

Mark ¼ seam allowances on one side. Flip and mark centre and equidistant between the centre line and the seam allowance on each side.

Insert the side panels into the opening at the back off the wallet matching the marked line and the folded edge. Fold side panel towards middle of the wallet.
Pin including the back pocket.
Sew down one side first. Through all layers, go slowly. Consider a walking foot. Aim for a ⅛” seam.
Then it gets fiddly. Align the raw edge of the first divider with the first line you drew. Fold over the side panel enclosing the raw edge with the side panel. Pin. Sew.
Repeat with the next two dividers.
Finally insert the end of the side panel into the front side seam space.
Pin, pushing the dividers to the inside to form the edge and allow room for the presser foot. Sew.
Then it gets really tricky. Repeat on the other side. Because there is less room for movement it will be a little more awkward.

Sew press studs to the front either side of the passport pocket down the bottom.

Plan your next holiday :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April block

April block by HandmadeRetro
April block, a photo by HandmadeRetro on Flickr.
How to I forget to upload the picture - the completed block from yesterdays post!

Friday, April 15, 2011

do. Good Stitches April Rainbow block-with a Perth fabric secret

So after a 5am wake-up time, a frantic trip tp the airport and a cross country flight with a lot of toddlers I have arrived in Perth for a quick visit before my flight to Bali tomorrow. As is often the way I had a long list of things to do before I went and I didnt get to the all. One that didnt happen was my April block for do. Good Stitches, and while I would probably have time to get it done on my return without being late but when I have a free day why risk it?

It also givs me a chance to introduce you to a little Perth secret – Textile Traders. It is a fabric chain store- in that there are several around WA but they only exist in Western Australia as far as I can tell. Lead by Benny (and I have it on good autority that his advert persona is not an act) they stock some designer quilting weight fabrics for about $12-$15 in Australia! It seems that excess stock is sold at auction and Benny buys it for the stores so nowhere gets a whole line. That being said I have found several Amy Butler Lotus prints in one store in the past as well as heaps of Prints Charming. A great place to happen upon Out of Print or had to find fabric at a reasonable price but I think it really comes down to the luck of the find.

So when I wanted to get some fabric this morning off I went.

Rachel asked for Rainbow blocks in saturated colours, in any size or design and I couldn't go past piecing an actual rainbow!

Using the free-cutting technique Kerry asked for a few months ago in Bee {a little} bit Japanese I cut the centre half circle and then each of the rainbow bands in turn, sewing and pressing to the centre as went.

The final outside white area was cut and attached in the same way.

Off to Rachel now -she explains she would like to make a BIG  quilt so this is a BIG block- 20 inches by 24 inches.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Of doll quilts - A wonderful end to the week

I had a very ordinary week at work last week.Why is it that when you have lots to do but a plan to get it done with little room for movement that is exactly when the crisis always happens?

So by the time I had it home on Friday afternoon I was tired. At least I think it was Friday, the days all burred into one.

But my week was brightened when I got home to find my Doll Quilt waiting for me from DQS10! The information included in the partner email indicated I liked traditional designs with a modern twist and I think she really paid respect to that!
 How lucky am I? I am still trying to work out the perfect place to display it but having it off the wall means I can pick it up and admire it more often!
Thanks Lisa (Lisajanlovestoquilt)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A curvy weekend

Progress on the Double Wedding ring this weekend. The top is almost done and I have some (needing to be kep secrect at this stage) plans for the backing that I hope to execute this week as soon as a finish the last column.

Fingers crossed it will be ready to deliver in a week and a half!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A blocky weekend!

A bee block weekend was had by me last weekend

The end of the month was fast approaching and I had some bee blocks to make before they were late!

First up were two sets of blocks for Bee Seam Piecing Downunder with the February blocks for Erin being delayed after it took a whole month for an envelope to arrive in the mail from Adelaide. Continuing frustration from Australia Post is becoming the norm for me lately!

Erin had previously asked us for our favourite colour and sent us some fabric in that colour as well as other fabric and set us a free choice block. With the flying geese kick I had been on recently this was the first block I made.
Originally it was to be three rows of flying geese until I (thankfully checked) the instructions and noted Erin had asked for 10.5” blocks.
More triangles for block two seemed fitting and a pinwheel emerged from the machine.

Next up was two of these blocks for Nicole in the same bee but for March. Based on this quilt by Red Pepper Quilts that was apparently originally based on another seen on flickr she asked us to create these, full of squares and half square triangles. Unfortunately we were all a little short of the yellow as the bolt appears to have been narrower but this and the almost finished second was sent on the way.
This will be a wonderful quilt but with so many small pieces in each block is it one that is helpful to have some assistance in piecing!

Also on the list was the this scrappy stashbuster block for Crystal in Bee (a little bit) Japanese.
Thankfully she had precut all the tiny little squares for us and these came together surprisingly quickly.
A lovely detail that she requested was that we sub in two squares of our own and then raw edge applique another scrap of this same fabric to a label/siggy block to help her identify and remember everyone's contribution in the final quilt.
She also asked for our favourite quote to be included on the label - I went with the one I consider most fun.

The final bee blocks for the weekend were two for the Faith circle do. Good Stitches {a Charity Bee}. Kathy Dougherty of Material Obsession fame (both the store and the books) had given permission for us to use the stashbuster quilt pattern so long as it was not published publicly.
As this quilt will be going to a little baby girl I included some fun prints and a little pink.
I really love this quilt (it is on the long, long list for things I might get to one day) and was pleased to be able to have a small hand in one in the meantime.

To round out the weekend I finished the final two blocks I still had to go for the Quilt Bloggers Blockapalooza

and fixed an earlier one when I found some more orange stripe.

Sewing the top together is the next step!

This weekend it is all about the double wedding ring quilt top (and back hopefully!)