Monday, April 10, 2017

Baker Street Bags: Mastering the pattern

I wanted to show how I am progressing in my bag making, here's my first Baker Street bag, a free pattern on Craftsy by Sew Sweetness. I made the Kennedy bag, but this one is one I'll probably use more now. It's a recessed zipper and I am finally getting confident in doing those thanks to Sara Lawson's great pattern directions. Without further comment I'll just photo bomb you with the bags in order, and on the third one, progression photos.

Hand basted zipper panel:

Birthing hole for the bag: 

And the finished bag!

Best advice I can offer on this one, not just go slowly around the curves, but to clip them, it really does help and my animals one is the best so far because I did clip them. Really happy with it. Thank you for checking out my Baker Street Bag blog post. I really had fun with these and will be making two more with the denim gussets. I did them up in a batch, along with the linings for a second one like this for my dear friend Lisa C. I know she'll love it and I couldn't help but to start on it and one for her sweet daughter. I am blessed by her friendship over the years. Thanks for coming by Sight Unsewn and I hope you try this pattern! It's a quick and fun bag to sew!

Sew SweetnessBag Sewing Contest 2017

Sara Lawson, the driving force behind Sew Sweetness patterns, is having a contest. A bag sewing one, so of course I wanted in on this, I have been hard at work on her Baker Street Bag free pattern. I did the Kennedy one, but this, this I wanted something special. I created this bag for myself after two test bags. I call it, "Jungle Animal Fun" and I hope you like it. I'll do a separate post on it, with some progression pics, but this is my entry into the contest.

Hope you liked looking at this bag and that you will enter the contest! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Getting started on a QAYG project

So, you've decided you want to make your first Quilt As You Go (QAYG) project. There's a few ways to do QAYG. Rag quilts are one way, Fun & Done are another, and also there are the kind Gourmet Quilter, she’s on youtube and her name there is a link to a great playlist of her tutorials where she does QAYG with connecting the quilted blocks with sashing. For me the hardest part is figuring out how much fabric I need, and for that I use a free online quilting calculating, don't worry I'll link to it too!

These are the sizes I've gone with, and once you figure about the size you want, you need to figure out how many blocks and rows you need to make around the size you want. I went with 90” long x 70” wide, on my leopard print quilt, and it's perfect for my double bed. It's more like a bed spread. You can also measure and get an idea of what you want, with a measuring tape. This is my Fun & Done youtube playlist, this will help you on getting this style of quilting down pat.

Once you have a pinned down measurement, we'll go with mine, you have to figure out what block style you want, now assuming you go with a simple block one like I did, you can use one print or two prints like I used on this project, the Star Wars print quilt. You can let the print(s) be your block, and just cut them into 10” blocks like I did. This meant I had 9 rows of 7 blocks. I say, stick with something simple and make a plan. I drafted up paper plans and digital mock ups for my quilts and it helped a lot to get a clearer picture in my mine of what I was going for. Get a notebook and keep it for your quilting notes. Onto the great quilting calculator. There is one there for piece counting I found very useful. It's great for getting an idea of how many 10” blocks can be cut from a width and length of fabric. I always pre-wash my fabrics, so I account a bit for shrinkage and always buy just under a yard over what I come up with. This one is very useful for figuring out how much fabric to buy.

So for my project, I needed 63 blocks, and I figured 108” of fabric or 3 yards, would potentially shrink to 100” and so this is the calculating I did on mine for a 3 yard chunk of pre-washed fabric:

You can see from this screenshot it would give me 40 blocks, which is perfect. I needed 3 yards total for one of the fabrics for the top to cut out 32 blocks. The contrasting fabric was also for 3 yards, and I cut 31 of those to total the 63 blocks this project called for. Now I did Fun & Done style, so my backing fabric was a different story, I needed 8 yards of it for 63 blocks of 12” x 12” squares. I came up with 288 for 8 yards, for the width, I took off 8” and input 280 in text input for the calculator. It gave me 69 blocks of 12” x 12” so I was able to get what I needed out of 8 yards of black backing fabric, to do one of these two quilts:

You can see here I can get several more than I needed, so At this point, I was ready to and did buy my fabrics. You have to prepare them, and I believe washing with some white vinegar is useful to help the dyes not to run, and so I do that; you might not, you can use color catchers, or whatever works for you. The point of this tutorial is to help you get confident enough to buy that fabric you need to make a quilt this way. I've done a tutorial on Fun & Done already, so I won't rehash this, but you have to think about what you want in the middle of your quilt. I used flannel in one, and it was too light, even for Florida, so in my leopard one I used 100% cotton batting, the Warm'n Natural and it was great. Use what you like, and use coupons if you get it at JoAnn's, I've bought batting from as well as fabric, for my backings. Don't let the math keep you from attempting a quilt if you have the desire to do so. Just use that chart at the beginning as a guide. My measurements didn't match exactly what they had there, but I wanted 10” blocks and to use “X” styled quilting. You can do free motion quilting (FMQ) or whatever style you like. But the thing with QAYG is that you don't have to manipulate a huge pile of fabric and try to quilt it after the fact like in traditional style quilting where you piece together a top, then you add batting and back fabrics underneath your top, pin or spray basting it and then quilting it all together. To me that is so complicated I knew I couldn’t do it, so when QAYG was brought up, it peaked my interest and I hope I've helped to interest you in trying it.

You can make something smaller, just to test it. You can make a smaller project like a table runner or a desk quilt I like to call the place mat looking two block quilts. I hope you found this useful and have wheels turning in your mind of the possibilities you could create using this technique. Thank you for reading, if you need help the group is here for you and so am I. If I could make these quilts you can too!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Quickie Eye Mask

I use a CPAP machine at night, and have a Himalayan salt lamp I leave on, so it makes a fair amount of light. I had a mask I bought for a dollar at the Dollar Tree, and it just wasn't wide enough to go over my full face mask over the part that's over my nose and brows. This isn't a big project, but it's one that will get used nightly and I thought it was worth sharing how I did it. Here you can see the parts and elastic I used, I cut this about 2 & 1/2” wider than the mask I bought.

And you can see here where I have the two sides pinned in, with the elastic I roughly measured to fit around the back of my head, with the mask, minus seam allowance. I made sure the elastic was set properly with pins so that I could back tack over it about 5 times and make sure it wasn't going to just rip out on me. I used an area about 3 & 1/2” wide to turn it right side out through, up top along the one seam where it is a more gentle curve.

After sewing it, turning it, and then giving it a good press, I top stitched it, closing the turning opening shut. It might not be the prettiest eye mask around, but boy does it keep the light out! And compared to my old worn out mask it might last longer because of being made with denim and cotton, rather than the satin and terry cloth the old one was made from.

Here is a shot of it laying over-top of my mask so you can get a better idea of why the old one wasn't keeping the light out. You can see it was much too small when put over the bulky face mask. This works great. Hope you liked this little project, I figured something small, just to get an hour on the machine would be fun. I did most of it by turning the hand wheel, so I could control where the stitching went.

Thanks for dropping by my blog and if you use a CPAP and need something like this, it's not hard to do. Give it a shot, it's a useful project if you have any kind of night light in your room. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fun & Done, QAYG

I wanted to do a small tutorial on the Fun & Done, style of Quilting as You Go (QAYG) and though there are templates available, I did it with my cutting set. A rotary cutter, self-healing mat, and several rulers; these tools I already had from when I did my first two quilts, rag styled. Those were a good introduction to QAYG, because of how I had the sandwiches made and quilted them, adding them to one another, one block at a time. I did two test mini-quilts so build up my confidence sewing in this style, and they became a library book bag.

In traditional style quilting you finish the top, add the layer of batting, and then quilt it all with your backing fabric at the same time. The QAYG style was much easier for me, but I bit off a lot on the second rag quilt. I designed it to be like an 'Around the World' pattern with the different shades of denim against the leopard print flannel. It's just very heavy, too heavy to sleep under, so I moved on to other QAYG projects. The testing blocks I did helped make me feel I could tackle a full quilt, the first one was sad, but the second was good enough I felt I could do it. If I could do it, trust me, with some patience you can too!

Okay, now let's get to it. First up you have to select at least three fabrics, one for your backing, and two others if you're aiming for a simple block styled quilt. For the front blocks, I used two alternating Star Wars prints on my first Fun & Done, QAYG, and one print and one solid on my second. I stuck with quilting weight cotton and 100% cotton batting, but you can use whatever you want. My current project is a t-shirt Fun & Done, QAYG styled quilt. For both of the first two, I used 10” blocks of batting and top fabric, and then 12” of backing fabric.

Because I quilted them on my new modern Singer HD4423, I used a walking foot (thought I have and use a walking foot for straight stitch only machines on my vintage Singer 201-2) and it kept inhaling or eating the edge of the fabric down into the bobbin area.

From advice I gathered in a couple of sewing facebook groups, I cut up some plain tissue paper I picked up in the Dollar Tree, I cut them up into rectangles and placed a rectangle underneath the backing fabric, and then an inch inward, began my X's for my quilting of my odd looking quilt sandwiches. This kept my fabric from being eaten anymore.

The great thing about the tissue paper is it easily rips out from the stitches and if you're slow and careful you don't harm your stitching.

I used safety pins to pin baste my sandwiches, and just put them over on the sides so I can leave those in while sewing both parts of the X's. You can do whatever works for you on the basting, as well as the quilting part. I did X's because it's what I've done on the previous QAYG projects, and what I am used to. I am not ready to try Full Motion Quilting (FMQ) yet, maybe someday, but not today. I had a helper on this one I am showing being quilted here, so it wasn't perfectly straight:

Once your sandwiches have been quilted, you're ready to attach the blocks to one another. I plan out my projects on paper and I number my rows so I know what ones go where. You can use whatever system works for you, but this is just what works for me. I used taped notebook paper to mock laminate my numbers so I can use them on other quilts. This plan you see below was actually for the Star Wars quilt I started two years ago. The pill bottle was how I stored my numbered safety pins, before I attached them to the quilt blocks that designated the start of a new row.

Here you can see the two blocks on the first attaching seam. You sew them with the backing fabric pulled between the right sides of the front fabric of the quilt. It sounds very strange, I know, but it won't be long before you grow accustomed to sewing blocks in the fashion. One thing you need to be aware of, is if your patterns match up before you start sewing. You lay the blocks so the right side of the backing side of the fabrics are touching and the right side of the front of the quilt blocks are facing outward.

Next you press the backing fabric down, I like to starch my fabric when pressing so it's more manageable and holds the folds I put in it better. I just grab a $.97 bottle of starch from Walmart and it seems to do the trick. So you press once, and then fold under and press a second time. Here is the first pressing.

And here is what it looks like under the needle when I am about to start a seam down over the pressed backing fabric, turned under, over-top of the front blocks.

This is all there is to it basically. You just sew them together, press once, twice, pin baste and then sew. One tip is to feel and make sure your layers aren't shifting as you sew. The pins usually prevent this, but I thought I'd mention it. Another tip is when you're trying to pin baste them hold them up to a light source so you can see behind the first block and make sure you've got the pinning of the second block straight. You should be able to see if you hold it up to a light and tell where the batting and top layer of fabric are to match them up.

Here you can see a row set up the same way, you just pull the backing up between the rows, and then sew it with the rows on top of one another like this looks like in the photo below the first one.

This is what it looks like before I pinned down the two sides of the backing fabric and sewed them down. This is after pressing down the backing fabric folded under by 1/2".

The way I do the corners is to fold the point in until it meets the corner of the top block's batting, and then roll the sides of the backing fabric down and finger press them before I press with the iron.

I pin baste the edges just like I did the sashing (back fabric that was pulled up between the blocks) of the rest of the quilt. Then I ran one seam around the outer edge and it was done.

Here is the finished second 10" block Fun & Done, QAYG styled quilt I made last year. 

I hope you found this tutorial useful and that you will give this type of quilting a try, I am by no means a master quilter, I refer to them as quilts, but I haven't done piecing or anything sophisticated yet. Maybe someday, but for now I let the pattern of the block fabrics speak for me. One video I will link here is Rose Smith's useful video for Fun & Done, QAYG, it was the one that light up my mental light bulb and made it all come together and make sense. 

The best advice I can offer is to be as accurate as possible in your measurements and you'll get better results. Make a test pair of blocks so you can see how easy it is for yourself, make them whatever sizes you like, but I went by having 2" larger backing blocks so I would end up with 1" sashings, and a 1/2" self-binding. Thank you for coming by and for checking out my blog. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Vintage Sewing Machines

I wanted to share something I composed a bit ago as a reply to someone in a facebook group about using these old machines and how to get started looking into buying and using one for bag making or sewing in general. My best advice, is to do some research, know ahead of time what model(s) of machines you are interested in as Singers come in many styles. There are also many wonderful other brands of machines as well. If you want to own say two, one main machine for straight stitch and a backup machine, then this really is worth the investment of time to learn about them.

I have both a Singer 15-91 and a 201-2, as well as a Red Eye (66) and a adorable 99 in a bentwood case. You have to think, what are your goals, do you just want a couple? Or you planning on collecting? If you want 1-2 main machines, if they move freely, have at least some kind of accessories and possibly the manual, it's well worth $150-$200 for a solid vintage machine, that you can sew with for another 20+ years. Often at garage sales you can score a vintage machine for much less. Plastic machines will be a headache and not worth the money in the long run. These old machines were not meant to be disposable. They were meant to be repaired and serviced by the women and men who relied on them back in the day.

When I got back into sewing my mom offered me her Necchi Supernova and it's a fine machine. But it couldn't do the denim straps I needed for my fun upcycled denim jean bags. I joined a facebook group to learn all I could about these fabulous machines and how they work. Not only to figure out which one I wanted to look for, but also so I can encourage others to pick up the torch of admiration of sewing and the tools it takes to make beautiful things.

I mentioned my potted motor machines (the Singer 201-2 & my 15-91) as they are often the first ones a person will get after researching the models. The later slant needle models, the two toned really cool space age looking ones, those are cool and some use cams that offer neat decorative stitches. So think about what you want from your journey in to the world of vintage machines. You can come to that huge open facebook group and get help from members to get through most any problem you can have with these old machines.

I recommend learning a little about them before making the plunge into buying one. Know the parts of a machine, like some have drop in bobbins, like class 66 metal bobbins, and some use a bobbin case that clicks in. I just bought a Kenmore 158.1941 and it was missing not just the bobbin case, but also the hook, but I got a great price on it in a cabinet, and took a chance I'd be able to buy a replacement hook. Which I found, along with the bobbin case and it now runs great! My point is I've seen machines in shops that were missing parts and you can't always replace them. For instance the tension assembly, if that is missing, you should check online before buying the machine, that you can get a replacement. But I was able to install my machine's new hook and had it sewing within ten minutes, most of that was due to learning how to thread it and it's bobbin case.

That's the beauty of them, they were made to be simple and user serviced. I personally had to get both of these two models, my 15-91 was frozen solid, but with the members' collective knowledge and encouragement I got it moving again! It will sew again! I haven't made a bag on it yet, but I've made some nice hats and a couple of bags using Beastie, my 201-2. Biggest thing is not to shy away from asking for help or questions. That's the only way to learn and gain confidence in using and servicing your own machines. If the one you are looking at is missing the pedal, you can probably replace that or the bobbin cases, but be aware, the Singer 301's and Featherweight's bobbin cases are harder to come by, and if you want one, make sure those have their original cases. I've heard there are reproduction cases out there, but that quality and performance of them can be hit or miss.

Now if you're seriously talking bags are all you're interested in making, you might want to like get an industrial, they won't break down like a domestic machine will after a steady 'diet' of heavy fabrics or leather use. And make no mistake these singers I mentioned above are domestic machines. Here's a great post on a awesome blog about the differences between a domestic machine and an industrial. Many unscrupulous ebay sellers or craig lister use the term industrial when listing a domestic machine and it's so wrong.

I hope this was helpful and if you have any questions I do hope you'll ask them!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Handy Purse Organizer from SewCanShe

A friend found this great little free pattern on Craftsy and of course I just had to make one to match my Kennedy bag. It's the perfect size for moving between my old purse and my new Kennedy bag. But it wasn't all smooth sailing, as I'll show you. I blame my un-interfaced poly cotton blend fabric for the lining. So if you have a cotton poly you are planning on using for the lining I'd use at least some Pellon 911FF or some other light weight interfacing on the pieces.

You can get this free pattern on Craftsy here: Handy Organizer by SewCanShe

This was also my first time using binding, and that was challenging to say the least. I wouldn't call this a beginner friendly pattern because of the binding and also the welted zipper, which is where my biggest frustration with this pattern occurred. Here are my pieces and binding laid out so you can see everything. I did not do mesh pockets as I wanted the bag to look like a mini version of my Kennedy bag.

Everything up until the zipper pocket was smooth sailing as you can see here by the half finished sides of my organizer.

My hand basted zipper, both sides, I really believe it helps more than pinning one would, because pins distort the zipper tape.

And then here you can see where it will not cover the interfaced half of the side panel properly.

I made a patchwork and fixed it, figuring it is on the inside anywhere and didn't need to be perfect. I can totally live with this, although it's not pretty, it's completely functional and I blame the fabric and if I made one again I would interface it with at least Pellon 911FF.

My next issue was the gusset being just over an inch too long, and you can see I had to trim it down enough to be even with the rest.

Overall I enjoyed making this pattern, with the exception of the zipper pocket panel fixes I had to make, and the difficulty of handling binding for the first time, I liked it a lot. Here's some photos of it with the next stages with the binding.

And the pay off, the cute little organizer insert sitting next to, and then nested inside my Kennedy bag. Love it!

I don't think I'll need to make another one of these, but I would, and like I mentioned I'd interface the zipper lining pocket and use a heavier weight 100% cotton as the lining next time around. I hope you enjoyed reading about this little organizer and if you you make one I'd love to see it! Thanks for dropping by.