Thursday, June 30, 2011

A new pillow for our bed--An AccuQuilt Go! Baby tutorial

The hubs and I have disagreements over decorative pillows.  He sees them as generally unnecessary.  I love them.  Besides, it's smaller than a new quilt. I've had this one in mind for a while, I just haven't wanted to cut the hexagons from my Modern Meadow scraps.  When Carolyn over at AccuQuilt offered me the chance to try out the Go! Baby in their bloggers program, I immediately chose the hexagons as one of my dies. 

This is one of my favorite pillows I've ever made.  I'm totally in love with hexagons right now, I still love Modern Meadows, and I love the flange.

Here is what you'll need to make your own:
(45) 5" squares for the hexagons (scraps work great as well)
(1) 26" x 26" piece of batting
(1) 26" x 26" piece of fabric for the front lining (I use Ikea sheets)
(2) pieces of fabric 16" x 23" each for the envelope back
(2) pieces of lining fabric 16" x 23" for the back (again, I just use a sheet)

Step 1: Cut the hexagons
I'm not going to show "action" shots.  There are lots of those around.  It's pretty self-explanatory to use this machine.  You put the fabric in and roll it through.  The one thing I want to address is waste.  This was my main concern with the dies.  This guy worked perfectly with scraps.  I probably would have wasted as much fabric had I cut these with my hexagon ruler. I carefully folded my fabric in half then half again.  I just trailed the remaining fabric behind as I rolled it through. No precutting was even required.

If you are careful there is minimal waste.  There are three hexagon sizes on this die.  Had I used the middle die precutting would be required.  Using the largest shape on the end made it much easier to cut because I didn't have to precut anything.

Edit:  A cut hexagon is 5" wide (point to point), with a 2.5" side and is about 4.25" tall. These could also be cut with a hexagon ruler if you don't have a Go! cutter.

Step 2:  Arrange the hexagons.
Arrange them as shown below:  Columns alternate with 6 hexes then 7, ending with a column of 6.

Step 3:  Machine-piece the hexagons
Rather than do a full tutorial on this, I will just refer you to the two tutorials I learned from over at So Happy and Lady Harvatine.  My must-do tip is to mark your seams.  It makes all the difference when the Y-seams come together.  Sew the columns of hexes first, then press seams open.  Carefully join the pieced columns.

Press all seams open after joining columns.  When sewing all three points, be careful not to catch the ends in the seam.  It presses better and lays flatter if you hold the ends out of the way.

Step 4:  Quilting
After piecing the top, baste (spray or pin) the lining piece, batting and top.  Quilt as desired.

I did straight-line quilting by following the seams.  I first followed the vertical lines approximately 1/4" from the seam on each side.  I then followed the horizontal seams approximately 1/2" from the seam.

After quilting, square up the pillow top.  Trim the top and bottom along the edges of the shorter columns.  Trim the sides by lining up the ruler with the points of the valleys where the seams meet.  This will be approximately 22 1/2" wide and 23" tall.

Step 5:  Prepare the envelope back
Pair each back panel with a lining panel.  I chose to do one white panel and one patterned panel.  Place right sides together of the lining and backing panels.  Sew with a 1/4" seam down one long side.  Flip right side out and press.  To make this edge seam as crisp as possible, press open first before folding and pressing the seam flat.  Edge stitch as desired.

Place right sides together of the outermost backing panel and the pillow top.  The backing panels are about 1/2" taller than the pillow top.  This provides for potential differences in seam allowances and will be trimmed later on).  Make sure all raw edges of fabrics meet or overlap slightly.  Pin well.

Repeat with inner panel, overlapping as shown.

Step 6: Sew together
Sew the pillow sandwich with 1/4" seam and a walking foot.  The wrong side of the pillow front should face up.

Trim any excess from the backing and clip corners slightly.  Turn pillow cover right side out.  Push out corners.  At this point you have a finished pillow cover for a 22" pillow form.  To add the flange, continue onto the next step.

Step 7: Flange
Carefully edgestitch about 1/8" from the edge all around the pillow.  Roll the seams as you go to get them as close as possible.  I use an edge-piecing sewing foot for this step.

Lay the cover flat and pin all the way around about 1.5" in from the edge.  (As this picture shows, I used straight pins.  After drawing blood twice while sewing, I would strongly suggest using safety pins for this step.)

With a walking foot sew around the perimeter of the pillow 1.5" inside the edge.  Once finished this will fit an 18-20" pillow form.

Finished!  I think it makes a rather nice addition to our bedroom set, even if it is just for decoration.

Go! Baby product notes:
I was invited to participate in the AccuQuilt bloggers program.  I received a free Go! Baby and three dies to test and review.  I will also have the opportunity to give away a Go! Baby and three dies to one of my readers. I chose dies for items that are difficult or tedious to cut.  I don't do applique on my quilts and as such didn't choose any applique dies.  I chose the hexagon die, 2" square, and drunkards path.  I will provide short tutorials on the remaining dies in the future.
  • I found the Go! dies work fabulous with scraps.  It's easy to use and fast.  I cut all the hexagons for this pillow from various scraps in about 15 minutes.  Although, I'm not sure I would use the Go! to cut an entire quilt if I had yardage.  I would likely stick to my hexagon ruler if I had fabric strips the width of fabric.
  • Follow the directions precisely on the Go! cutter.  You may not get accurate cuts if you don't cut along the lengthwise grain as directed.
  • Overall, I was really happy with the results from the Go! cutting my hexagons for this project.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"It's not you, it's me."

This is what I said when I broke up with the Farmer yesterday.  I think we're through.  I'm just not loving it, and I decided that my sewing time is too scarce to spend it on something I don't love.  We just can't keep seeing each other.  I decided I couldn't end the relationship on a bad note though.  I pieced 7 more blocks yesterday to give me 18 finished blocks.  This will make for a nice baby quilt once I add some borders.  The Farmer's book is shelved for now.  Maybe I'll pull it out in a couple years and start again.  Maybe someday we'll get back together, but for now he just isn't my style, and I can't spend precious time on him.  (Hmm, so maybe it is him and not me.)  I have a number of other projects going on right now that I do love so I'll stick to those.

I did actually enjoy working on these blocks.  The templates are perfect and everything fits together so nicely.  They were a good challenge without being too impossibly hard. I just don't think I want a whole quilt out of them.  I did cut corners wherever I could to make things easier.  I pieced all my half-square triangles the easy way, piecing 2 squares by marking the diagonal and sewing on either side.  I also figured out the math on as many blocks as I could and just cut them with a ruler. The templates are so helpful on the quirky blocks, but there is no need to use them when the cuts for a block are 2.5" or 3.5", etc. 

I chose not to add solids to these new blocks because I didn't have anything on hand that truly matched. 

#16--Calico Puzzle


#21--Contrary Wife


#31--Evening Star

#44--Gentleman's Fancy

#97--Waste Not

Friday, June 24, 2011

The 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee

My friend Amy from our local Modern Quilt Guild is heading up a new quilt bee.  This is an off-shoot from the 3x6 bee.  She is calling this bee the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee.  Participants will be placed in groups of six.  They will then make five blocks to exchange with other group members in everyone's requested colors.  Groups are reorganized quarterly.  Here is the button for the bee.  Does it look a bit familiar?  I was flattered when Amy asked if she could use a block from my most recent quilt for this. 

Head over and check it out.  You must have a swap history to join up.  Members will make blocks from their stash, although fabrics used should be "modern fabrics."

Here are some general fabric guidelines to set the expectation.  This isn't a comprehensive list, but helps members understand the direction of this bee and what participants can expect from group members:

Amy Butler
Heather Bailey
Heather Ross
Denyse Schmidt
Joel Dewberry
Moda (selected prints)
Kona and other solids
Paula Prass
Sandi Henderson
Michael Miller designers
Japanese fabrics ( Kokka, Cosmo, Echino - NOT TRADITIONAL Japanese fabrics )
Tanya Whelan
Anna Maria Horner
Tina Givens
Lizzy House
Erin McMorris
Jennifer Paganelli
Laurie Wisbrun
Tula Pink

Traditional Dislikes:
Novelty prints
Colors ( mauve, mint green, forest green, peach )
Religious theme

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Good Mail Day

Yesterday was a very happy mail day.  I received three wonderful things.  First I received a new computer.  My little netbook bit the dust a week or two ago.  It's been so hard living without it.  It usually lives on the kitchen counter, and I've missed it.  It's hard to sneak into the office to work on the desktop because the minute I leave the mini destroyers do things like climb on the counter and play with plants and knives or jump in the dishwasher. 

Second, I received this fun little package from Kelly over at kelbysews.  She sent me an angel package for the Goodie Bag Swap.  I was beginning to wonder if I got left out.  She was so sweet to put this great bag together for me.  All I wanted was a simple large pouch to keep sewing supplies in.  She threw in some fabulous extras as well.  I love the Orla Kiely design.  I need to figure out how to quilt that.

Miss C. quickly swiped the coloring book and happily enjoyed it all afternoon.

One of the best things is that the last item I received yesterday fits perfectly in the pouch Kelly gave me.

Now, I think I have some cutting to do.  Thanks to the third package, I'm quickly transforming these two stacks into a couple very fun projects.  More news on these projects and other fun developments to come.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not really feeling the Farmer love

I pieced 11 of the first 12 blocks last night.  I skipped the basket because I don't like baskets. Piecing these together really isn't too bad, but cutting them out is another story. Sadly, I'm not in love.  I am really happy with how the blocks came out.  I think I did a pretty good job constructing them, but my fabric choices on the other hand were not so hot.  I tried using all the Bliss fabrics, but many of the fabrics are quite busy.  I knew it could be problematic, but kept cutting.  I cut out all 11 blocks before piecing a single one.  Once I started piecing the blocks I realized it just feels like there is too much competition among the prints.  The block patterns are not standing out as well as I'd like.

I really do love these sampler blocks.  I'm just debating on what to do next.  I could keep the blocks I have and start mixing in solids in future blocks to try to tone down the busy-ness.  I could also change things up and just start making scrappy blocks and put the Bliss blocks away.  I want to love this quilt, and currently I'm on the fence about it.  It's just so different from my usual style. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Sewing Book for Miss C

Miss C likes to pretend she is sewing.  I love it.  She will pretend with all sorts of random things like a hair clip and a headband.  I decided to make her her very own sewing book.  I debated on the design for quite a while.  I wanted very simple but functional.  The original idea came from those cardboard pictures I had as a kid with the holes punched out around the edges to string shoelaces through.

I just pulled fabrics from my stash.  I started with 9.5" squares.  I arranged everything in order and then sewed the squares together to form pages using the same idea as Elizabeth's tutorial on Don't Call Me Betsy. Each layout is color coordinated so I had to be very careful everything was in order. 
 I then sewed LOTS of button holes onto the inside pages.  I also bound the shoelaces right into the binding so they didn't get lost.  Now Miss C can sew by stringing the shoelaces through the button holes.
I made five sets of pages which led to a very thick book.  I ended up binding this guy by hand.  I broke a needle trying to shove it under my machine. 

I'm happy to say it was a hit.

I'm linking this little project to Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story today.

Fresh Poppy Design