Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm in love!

Over the weekend, Mom and I had the opportunity to sneak away to the Sew, Quilt, Needlework, and Craft Expo in Sacramento.

I always love visiting Robin and the ladies in the Bird Brain Designs.  They'res so nice and personable, and their embroidery designs are just the best!  I used their Redwork Snowmen pattern for Mom's Christmas quilt a few years ago ...

Redwork Snowmen - photo by Bird Brain Designs

Snow Peeps quilt by Shelley @ Cora's Quilts

... but embroidery time these days is just non-existent!  I've long had my eye on their Quilts in the Garden pattern.  It's such a beautiful, feminine work, and I keep imagining it set as the centerpiece in a beautiful red and cream quilt!

Quilts In The Garden  - photo by Bird Brain Designs
So, imagine my surprise when I walked into their booth and saw that they have a new fabric line out based on this print!  And let me tell you, the photos don't do the line justice.  The colors are gorgeous!  Two of the prints feature the Quilts in the Garden motif, and yes!  The large print is large enough to embroider or embellish!

Stitched Garden - Red

Stitched Garden - Stripe

The other coordinating prints are just as lovely!  While the fabric line comes in blue and black colorways as well, I think this shade of "Turkey Red" is my all time favorite color!

We're lucky enough to have a few fat quarter bundles in our shop!  Each kit contains 14 fat quarters (18" x 22"), plus a 1-yard cut of the Stitched Garden print.  It's so pretty ... I just want to hoard it all!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!  While there is absolutely no spring cleaning going on around, I was sorting through one of my fabric scrap boxes and came across a nice little baggy with the Honeysweet scraps from my Stroll pattern.  Inspired by all of the sunshine outside, I sat down and made this sweet little bunting runner.

I finished the runner with some large scale stippling and my favorite floral print from the line, and its now happily living on top of our piano.

Since we have nothing else living on top the piano, it makes for a very boring photo, indeed!

I used the block from our Regatta Gala and just set the blocks at different heights for a bit of a wavy effect.  I'm so happy with the way it turned out, that I added the instructions for making this mini-runner to the pattern!

The update versions are available in both our Craftsy and Etsy shops.  If you've already purchased the pattern, you should be able to download the update version.

Be sure to check out all the other fantastic spring patterns over on Design Wall Monday @ Patchwork Times.  Thanks for stopping by and happy sewing!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tutorial: Piecing with Fusible Interfacing


Welcome to the Super Mario Brothers Quilt Along & Block of the Month (BOM) club!  We're so excited that you're joining us over the next 12 months to make this AWESOME quilt!

Our quilt, finishing at 82" x 100", is constructed with over 5,500 tiny squares, most finishing at 1".  Don't let that turn you off, though!  We'll be piecing using Fusible Interfacing.

Credit for this genius method of piecing belongs to Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson!  You can view her original tutorial here.

A Word about Fabric Choices:

While the Fusible Interfacing piecing method is an amazingly quick way to accurately piece together hundreds of tiny squares, you'll be using your iron a lot.  Be sure to select quilt shop quality fabrics for your project.

With a large quilt like this, it might be tempting to use cheaper, chain-store fabric to cut costs a bit ... but those fabrics are cheap for a reason!  They're more likely to bleed, distort, scorch and shrink significantly, even with a lower-heat iron.

We've chosen to use Moda's Bella Solids in our quilt kits.  You can find the color chart for our kits here

Other great solid lines are Connecting Thread's Quilter's Candy Solids and Robert Kaufman's Kona Cotton Solids.

How Our Patterns Work:

Patterns for each of the blocks will be available on the Mario Quilt Along & BOM Information Page.  Each pattern will provide a cutting list for the fabric squares and for the fusible interfacing.  As the interfacing only comes in a 20" width, we've provided grids on the pattern to show you how to divide up the backing for each block.

Gather Your Materials:

For piecing using the Fusible Interfacing method, you'll need:
  • Fabric Squares as directed by the pattern
  • Fusible Interfacing - we like Pellon 906F or P44F
  • Cutting Mat, Rotary Ruler (18" or longer), Rotary Cutter or Small, Very Sharp Scissors, Pencil or Fabric Pen
  • Iron and Ironing Surface (18" or wider makes the process much easier!)

Mis En Place:

1.  Square up and press your fabric.
Note: Pre-washing your fabric is a personal choice.  We chose not to, opting to use a "color-catcher" with the quilt's first washing instead.  We do highly recommend starching your fabric with the first pressing, however.  This gives you nice crisp fabric to work with.
2.  Cut out your fabric squares as directed in the pattern.

3.  Cut out your Fusible Interfacing Squares as directed in the pattern.

4.  Lay the first Fusible Interfacing square textured-side-up on your rotary mat.  Using the rotary ruler and fabric pen, draw the grid in the size directed by the pattern.

Use the markings on the rotary mat to align each grid line.  Using the pencil lines and ruler alone will make parts of your grid too big!

5.  Place the Fusible Interfacing textured-side up on your ironing surface and lay out the fabric squares according to the pattern.

Once all the squares are in place, double check your square placement against the pattern.  This is the point of no return!!

6.  Following the manufacturer's directions, press all the squares into place.  It's important to press the squares (pick the iron up and set it back down in a new place) rather than iron (moving the iron back and forth without picking it up).

Vertical Seams:

7.  Once all the fabric squares have been pressed into place, fold the Fusible Interfacing fabric-sides-together along the first vertical line and press with the iron to make a crease.  Open and repeat with the remaining vertical lines.

8. Sew each vertical seam using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Keep them as straight as possible.

9.  You won't be able to press your seam allowances open until you've cut through the fusible webbing along the edges.

There are several methods for cutting them open:
  • Good: Use a small pair of scissors with with very sharp tips to carefully cut open each seam.  This isn't a great choice for those with small amounts of patience or carpel tunnel.
  • Better:  Use a rotary cutter and ruler to gently trim off a scant portion of the seam.  This is still a time-consuming process, and it's easy to mis-align the ruler and trim off more than intended - that fusible interfacing is slippery!
  • Best:  Use a rotary cutter and gently trim off a scant portion of the seam, free-handed - without the ruler.  While this is the speediest method, it's still a good idea to go slowly ... and watch for those fingers ...

10.  Once all the seams have been trimmed, press {not iron!} each seam open.  Trim away any excess threads and remove any bits of fabric fuzz caught in the seams.

Horizontal Seams:

11. Once all the Vertical Seams have been pressed open, fold the Fusible Interfacing fabric-sides-together along the first horizontal line and press with the iron to make a crease.  Open and repeat for the remaining vertical lines.

12.  Sew each vertical seam using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Keep your seams as straight as possible.

13. Open up your seam allowances using one of the methods in step #9.

Putting It All Together:

14.  Finish assembling all of your squares according to the picture grid in the pattern.  Lay the pieces out on your design wall or on a clean surface to double check for mistakes.

15.  Using 1/4" seams, piece together the larger blocks, carefully aligning the seam intersections.

16.  Press all seams open and then sit back and enjoy your block!

Share process pictures and photos of your finished blocks with us.  Post to our flickr group or on Facebook or Instagram using #cqmario.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Settling In ... and EQ6 Missing Pop-up menus!

We're slowly settling into our new house.  The shop is open again and it's nice to be gradually settling into new routines.

As I mentioned last week, while our new home is slightly larger than our previous house (and is filled with huge windows and tons of great natural light), it only has three bedrooms.  While I'm sure that midnight tent parties and nightly sleepovers are an inevitable part of having two boys less than two years apart ... neither of our boys are great sleepers.  Permanently sharing a room is not a happy option at this point.

As we don't tend to do a lot of formal entertaining, we decided to re-purpose the dining room as a studio space.  As a bonus, the room is open to our family room, where the majority of the kids' toys live ... so theoretically, we can all play together. :)

Here's the "before" shot.  Please excuse the bad photography, taken left-handed while carrying a screaming, teething baby, while standing on one leg, trying to keep my toddler out of the shot using the other. Yoga is totally doing wonders for my balance. :)

The bookcases, which we already owned, were placed randomly by the movers, so these aren't their permanent resting places. My new work-space will be set up in the right-hand corner, and my sewing machine will live right in front of the window, overlooking the backyard.  There's a beautiful little aspen-esque tree, a great spot for a garden box, and a great view of the boys' back yard play area.

The only "problem" with the room is that it gets so much sunlight, I'm finding it hard to find places to store my fabric.  Hubby's solution was, "Then it must be time to get rid of some of it."  Fat chance. :)  Instead, while he's away on business for the weekend, I'm creating an ever expanding shopping list for our next Ikea excursion.

I'm hoping to post some progress pictures soon - it just needs a little bit more sprucing up before sharing.

In the meantime, I'm dying to dust off my sewing machine ... but my accessories are buried in a box ... underneath other boxes, behind stacks of still more boxes.  So, instead I'm working on some fun upcoming quilts, including a new free pattern series, a couple book reviews, and a few super secret projects.

I was happy to sit down to a computer screen that looked exactly like it had when I unplugged it at the last house ... except for my Electric Quilt 6 program.  It took me a few minutes to figure out that something was off ...

When I clicked on the little paint brush icon, my fabric sketchbook window was supposed to pop up, but it was nowhere to be found.  This had happened once before when I had first started using the program several years ago.  While the window is a floating window that you can position anywhere on the screen ... unfortunately you can also drag it completely off of the screen where it disappears and you can't bring it back.

To make a long story much shorter, I spent over two hours pouring through very unhelpful internet forums to find a fix and came up with absolutely nothing!  Surely it's not possible that I'm the only person having this problem!

After another 30 minutes of fiddling with the program, I finally found a workaround.  In case you're having the same problems too, you can restore all default settings by clicking:

File → Preferences Restore Restore Default Settings

Crisis averted.   Now ... if I can only figure out how to get all my other custom settings back in place.  Sigh...