Author Archives: Dawn

More About Masks

I’m shifting gears in my mask-making endeavors. Since mid-March, when the Dear Husband and I started sheltering in place at our Portland White House, I’ve made several dozen face masks using one of the first tutorials I came across, that of ER nurse Jessica Nandino. Between then and now, I’ve tried a few other patterns and haven’t found any I liked better.

Until now:

This is PJ Wong’s design. (I haven’t met PJ yet, although we both teach for Montavilla Sewing Centers. She’s an expert on designs and projects for machine embroidery and leads several clubs at Montavilla devoted to sewing, serging, and machine embroidery.) On the Montavilla website I came across this link taking me to instructions for two masks PJ has designed: one with a vertical center seam and one with three pleats. Both designs include instructions for an optional filter pocket, and the pleated mask also includes a casing for a nose wire. The site includes pdf patterns, written directions, and video tutorials.

I tried PJ’s design for the mask with the center seam (often called a duckbill mask) and proclaimed it a winner. What I like most about her design is the inclusion of a facing, separate from the mask and lining pieces, that gives the mask a beautifully finished look — inside and out. What’s more, the facing creates a casing at the sides that allows the mask to be secured with ties or elastic or — a new discovery for me — “t-shirt yarn.” (More on that below.)

As you see in the photo above, I used quarter-inch double fold bias tape on my first mask. All I had to do was stitch the tape closed and thread it through the casing. I cut my lengths of bias tape 36″ long, leaving a length of 18″ on each side at the top and 15″ at the bottom. That leaves plenty of tape to tie at the back of the head and the base of the neck. If you look carefully at the casing, you can tell that I stitched a little bar tack in the middle of the casing to maintain those lengths.

Here’s my first effort:

PJ’s duckbill pattern comes in four sizes, small through extra large. The one I made first is a medium and felt a bit large on me so I decided to try making a mask in the small size. And while I was at it, I wanted to try a different method of securing the mask in place. To be honest, cutting bias strips and sewing fabric ties was the one thing I found rather tedious about the other mask design I’ve been using, although it certainly has other features I really like.

I had seen several references on Instagram to using t-shirt fabric to make ear loops for masks. It is said to be softer than elastic hence more comfortable around the ears. All roads pointed toward a tutorial by craftpassion.com on making t-shirt “yarn.” It was a breeze to make and now I have a small ball of yarn made from one of the DH’s t-shirts, enough for a few dozen masks. (I haven’t told him yet about his sacrifice.)

Here’s my second effort, with t-shirt yarn for the ear loops:

The ear loops are very comfortable. And look how cute the mask is on the inside:

See what I mean about the nice finish? PJ’s directions call for the facing (green fabric) to be stitched down right next to the lining (yellow dotted fabric), which is left open so that a filter can be slipped into the center of the mask. Since I’m not using a filter, I stitched the ends of the lining closed.

The next version I made was for my twin sister, Diane, who needs a mask to go with the dress she is planning to wear to a wedding later this month. The dress is a navy knit wrap with a gray leaf design on it. She wanted a mask that would complement her dress, and she asked for a mask that would hold a nose wire. I made this one for her:

Take a look at the inside:

How cute is that lining fabric? Even with the addition of the gray leaf strip at the top, which holds a nose wire, the mask is nice enough to wear inside out:


Kidding, of course. But now I may have to make a mask for myself with the lemon fabric on the outside because it goes so well with my top!

 

 

 

Posted in bias tape, face masks, family, tutorial, update | 8 Comments

Here, There, and Everywhere

Do you ever buy a piece of fabric that you have no idea what to do with but you just know you have to have it? A couple years ago I was in a quilt shop in Bend, Oregon and spotted a succulent print in greens from the “Canyon” line designed by Kate Spain for Moda. I had to have some!

It sat on a shelf in my sewing room cabinet until a few weeks ago when I pulled it out to make this test block from a new pattern by Margot Languedoc called Pretty Little Baskets:

The pattern is definitely on my “to do” list but I only made one block with that fabric.

Then very recently Sew Kind of Wonderful released a new pattern called Curvy Bow Tie using the new Wonder Curve Ruler and I used a bit more of the fabric to make this test block:

Such a cute block but I wondered if the fabric would look better as the background of the block rather than the focal point. I made another block to see:

Oh yes, I like that better. But I’m not ready to make an entire quilt out of it just yet. (I love the Curvy Bow Tie pattern, though, and do plan to make a quilt when I’ve decided on a color scheme.)

What I really wanted to do with that fabric was make a pair of pillowcases for the Portland White House (using my own tutorial). So I did:

And I used some scraps to try out a new mask tutorial:

Now I can’t stop thinking of ways to use this fabric. Wouldn’t it make a great camp shirt?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in bias tape, bowties, face masks, home dec, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update, Wonder Curve Ruler | 11 Comments

Who Knew?

Who knew that playing around with computer-generated quilt labels could be so much fun? Well, not everyone’s kind of fun, I suppose. But I was delighted to learn from comments on my last post that my accidental method of making labels with fusible-backed fabric worked for other quilters using different fusibles and printing their labels on different computers. As promised, I will work on a tutorial for my website to show the method step by step.

One quilter, Marge, noted that she starches her label fabric and sends it right through the printer. No interfacing, just one layer of fabric. Of course I had to try it! I decided to make a new label for Ramblin’ Rose, another kaleiodoscope quilt from 2009 that needed more information:

Ramblin’ Rose, 53″ x 59″ (2009)

 

I’m happy to report that Marge’s method worked beautifully. Marge did say she “starches the heck” out of her fabric so I made sure I did too. As a matter of fact, I spent more time starching the fabric than I would have just fusing interfacing to fabric. You really have to iron the fabric after each application of starch until it’s completely dry. The weight and feel of the “page” of starched fabric felt almost identical to the fused layer I experimented with earlier.

Unfortunately, when I printed my starched page I realized that the top line of the label was too close to the top of the page, not allowing enough room to draw around a compact disc for my preferred round label. I had to prepare a new one. Instead of starching a new piece of fabric, I went back to my method of fusing interfacing to the label fabric.

Here’s the old label still on the quilt and the one I just made:

In my last post I described how I used a piece of quilter’s cotton for the back of my label. My friend Arden suggested I try using fusible interfacing instead. That’s what I use for my label backing when I make hand printed labels. With those I have only two layers: the label fabric and the interfacing used for the backing instead of fabric. With a computer-generated label, though, I have three layers: the label fabric fused with interfacing and the second piece of interfacing used as the label backing. Would two layers of interfacing plus the label fabric make the finished label too stiff, I wondered?

Worth a try. Yes, the label did feel a little stiff and I found it very challenging pushing the needle through the layers when I hand appliquéd the label in place. I’m wondering if washing the quilt would soften the label a bit. Ramblin’ Rose has been displayed on a quilt rack in my sewing room for over a decade so it could probably use a trip to the laundry room. I’ll toss it in the washer and dryer and report back.

By the way, here’s a look at the back of Ramblin’ Rose (with the old label still in place — and the hanging sleeve so it could hang in a quilt show):

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, appliqué, kaleidoscope quilts, quilt labels, tutorial, update | 2 Comments

Label Me Surprised

A quilt I made over 10 years ago has an updated label, thanks to a mistake I made the other day creating a computer-generated label for my latest quilt, Uptown Funk. The label pictured above is the fourth one I’ve made using my computer and inkjet printer — and I may never go back to printing them by hand. (The smaller label on the left is the one I removed from the quilt so I could sew the new one on.)

For the first computer-generated label I made, created last fall for Give me the Simple Life, I followed a tutorial that called for label fabric to be fused to a layer of freezer paper and run through the printer. I had to use two layers of freezer paper before I was successful. Even then, the freezer paper rippled a little bit so it took a couple of tries (i.e. the printer jammed and I had to start over) before I got a label I could use.

On my second label, made for All You Need Is Love, I wanted an extra layer under the label so the print on the backing fabric wouldn’t show through. As an experiment I fused interfacing to the back of my label fabric before pressing it to one layer of freezer paper. There was very little rippling of the freezer paper. It went through the printer easily and I got a useable label on the first try. That in itself was serendipitous. Little did I know there was more serendipity to come!

To make label #3 for Uptown Funk, I decided to follow the second method. Three layers: label fabric, fusible interfacing, freezer paper. I made my preparations and trooped from my sewing room on the second story of our house down to the basement where the computer and printer are. Once there I realized I had only two of my three layers. I had fused the interfacing to the label fabric and trimmed it to size but had forgotten all about the freezer paper.

Arghh!! Did I really want to climb two flights of stairs to my sewing room to complete the freezer paper step? Or should I take a chance and run the fabric through the printer without the freezer paper? The worst that could happen is the printer would jam, right? So I tried it with just the two layers . . . and it worked — beautifully!

Was it just a fluke? Or have I stumbled onto an important discovery?

I decided to test my inadvertent discovery today by making a new label for a quilt I’d made in 2009. Back then my standard label information consisted of the name I had given the quilt, my name, and the year completed. At the time I didn’t appreciate the importance of providing additional information, such as the the designer of the quilt (if it wasn’t me) or the name of the person who quilted it for me. Nowadays I make it a point to include all that information on my labels.

Fiesta was quilted for me by the late great Lee Fowler, and I have been wanting to update the label information to acknowledge that for a very long time. I’ve actually been meaning to go back and remake several of my older labels but have always found an excuse to put it off. Creating labels by hand can be onerous and time-consuming, even when the results are pleasing. But now, thanks to the ease and speed of making a computer-generated label, my procrastination may be a thing of the past.

Here, very briefly, are the steps I took to make this label:

First, featherweight interfacing is fused to the label fabric. (I used Pellon 911FF.) Both pieces are cut slightly larger than a standard sheet of paper, 8½” x 11″:


Second, the fused fabrics are trimmed to 8½” x 11″ exactly:


Third, the two layers are fed into the inkjet printer and the label is printed from a file created on the computer. I tried two different sizes of type since I had room on the page for two labels:


Going with the smaller type, I decided I wanted a round label 4″ in diameter. (Labels can be any shape but I like the look of a round label.) My standard pattern is a compact disc measuring 4⅝” in diameter but it seemed a bit large so I made a trip to the kitchen to find just the right size to trace around. This small blue bowl is exactly 4″ across:

The larger circle drawn around the label was made with a compact disc, the smaller with the blue bowl.

I traced around the blue bowl on the wrong side of my label backing fabric so that when I held both layers up to the light I could position the top layer properly:

I don’t have a light table so the window had to do.

After being stitched and turned inside out, my label was ready to sew into place:

I chose to appliqué mine by hand but on another quilt it might be machine appliquéd if the stitching lines wouldn’t be distracting on the right side of the quilt.

My labels were printed on an HP OfficeJet Pro 8620. I know that all inkjet printers are not created equally. There must be wide variations between brands and models. I can’t help but wonder: with two successful labels behind me made with the new combo of label fabric + fusible interfacing + fabric for the back of the label, how transferable is this method of printing computer-generated labels?

Ah, that’s where you come in. If you are the least bit intrigued with my accidental discovery, would you be willing to make a test label? If this method works with different brands of printers — and different brands of fusible interfacing — I would be willing to create a  tutorial for my website with detailed instructions and a lot of photos. I thank in advance any quilter who decides to go for this.

Before I sign off, here’s a look at Fiesta, the first in my series of kaleidoscope quilts, front and back:

Fiesta, 54″ square (2009)
Back of Fiesta (2009)

Yes, I need to get a new photo of the back with the updated label!

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, quilt labels, tutorial, update | 12 Comments

Uptown Funk Is Finished!

Uptown Funk, 2020 (24″ x 26″)

And now you know, if you’ve been following along as I pondered four binding options, that Option #1 — the lime green faux flange with the zebra fabric — was the winner.

But guess what? It wasn’t my first choice. Nope. I was going with Option #4, the green flange with the white background fabric as the binding. Here’s the mockup I showed you in my last post, with paper strips made from photocopied fabric:

Why this choice? I liked the idea of the white background fabric extending to the edges, almost as if the quilt were faced rather than bound, with that thin flange as a bright but understated accent. Plus it was an unexpected choice. (I have to thank my friend Deborah for suggesting white fabric. It never would have occurred to me, as I was gravitating to the black prints used in my quilt.)

I made my binding accordingly and started to apply it. Normally binding is stitched to the right side of the quilt and turned to the back. With this faux flange method, however, you sew the binding to the wrong side of the quilt and turn it to the right side to expose the flange. When I got ready to miter the first corner, I turned the binding to the right side. And this is what I saw:

Oh no! You can clearly see the green fabric through the white fabric in the binding. With this particular treatment the seam allowance must be pressed toward the binding fabric for the flange to lie flat. I tried pressing it the other way but it was a “no go.” There was no way I could see to remedy this problem.

Back to the drawing board — er, cutting table. My second choice for the binding was the zebra fabric. That was my husband’s first choice and also my twin sister’s. Some of my readers liked it too so I figured it was a keeper. (Thank you, Vickie R., for suggesting the zebra fabric. Like the white background fabric, it wasn’t even on my radar initially.)

I started cutting more binding strips . . .  until a certain feline came to investigate:


Princess Cordelia (Coco for short) was gently ejected from my sewing room so I could proceed. The binding went on very nicely.

The conventional way to finish a faux flange binding is to machine stitch in the ditch where the flange meets the binding fabric. Instead of doing that I fused the binding down with Steam-a-Seam-2, a  double-sided fusible web.

Here’s the back of Uptown Funk:

I love the way the binding looks with the backing fabric.

Here’s a close-up of the label:

Thank you, Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams, for designing Dresden Neighborhood! It was such a fun little quilt to make.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 4 Comments

And the Winner Is . . .

Hold on. Before I reveal my choice for the binding of my wonky Dresden Neighborhood quilt, take a look at my four options:


Did I make four different bindings? Oh no! I photocopied the fabrics, cut strips to look like binding, and pinned them to the quilt. Three of the four treatments involve a faux flange, in which the binding is made of two strips of fabric. I’ve never tried that method before.

Here’s a closeup of the fabric contenders:

There’s a white-on-black swirly print, a black-on-white zebra print, a green pindot on white (the same fabric as the background of the quilt), and the solid lime green flange fabric, the last of which I auditioned separately as a no-flange binding.

Let’s take a closer look, clockwise starting with the upper right corner:

Binding 1:


Binding 2:


Binding 3:


and binding 4:


Any one of them would work, don’t you think? But one emerged as the clear winner for me — and it wasn’t the one I was expecting.

Which one was it? Please come back tomorrow to find out!

 

 

 

Posted in update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 5 Comments

Another Walk in the Neighborhood

Uptown Funk, my version of Kim Lapacek’s pattern Dresden Neighborhood, needed more quilting. I knew it right away when I looked at it this morning. So what did it need? More quilting lines radiating out to the edges. Not all the way to the outside, mind you. As you can see, the new stitching lines, placed between the first set I showed you in yesterday’s post, are of staggered lengths and all end shy of the edges, some by quite a bit.

I’m very pleased with the effect but creating that effect was quite a chore, let me tell you. Each stitching line began and ended with four tiny stitches (1.0 on my computerized machine) to lock the threads in place in lieu of knotting. The main part of the line was sewn with a stitch length of 2.7. That’s a lot of stopping and starting while the stitch length was being adjusted. And I buried all the threads. Let’s see: 40 stitching lines — yes, 40! — means there were 80 sets of threads to be buried.

I’ve found that the key to burying threads easily, once you’ve drawn them to the same side of the fabric, is to trim both threads to the same length — three to four inches works best for me — and use a needle with a large eye so the thread ends go in easily:

Because I pulled the bobbin threads through to the front when I started the stitching lines in the interior of the quilt, I buried a lot of the threads in the roofs:

The roofs have a layer of fusible web underneath them so those threads aren’t going anywhere. It was very easy to pull the threads taut and clip them right where they came out of the fabric:

The top thread at the end of each stitching line got pulled to the back of the quilt and buried in the backing fabric.

Just before getting started this morning, I left my sewing room for a few minutes. Look who I found lounging on my ironing board when I came back:

Good thing Coco’s paws were clean!

Now I’m ready for the binding. For those of you who commented on my last post and offered suggestions on color and fabric choices: thank you so much! I’m going to audition everyone’s ideas before making a final decision.

I expect to have a Friday Finish to show you.

 

 

Posted in cats, Janome 9450QCP, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 5 Comments

A Walk in the Neighborhood

It’s a bit of a stretch. The reference is to the walking foot on my Janome sewing machine, used to quilt Uptown Funk, my version of the Dresden Neighborhood quilt.


I seriously considered doing some free motion quilting in the background. Little spirals would have looked good or perhaps some pebbling. Alas, free motion quilting is not my strong suit. After considerable waffling I opted to keep it simple and go for straight lines. The doors on my wonky Dresden houses appear to radiate from the center circle so I extended the concept with my quilting lines radiating to the outer edges of the quilt.

Here’s a peek at the backing fabric:

The fabric, an older print from Timeless Treasures, features another kind of uptown neighborhood: Central Park in New York City. I’ve used this fun retro print in other projects and am happy to report I have plenty left. (There’s a funny story about this fabric you can read about here.)

My wonky Dresden neighborhood quilt measures 24″ x 26″ after trimming. Now I’m trying to decide what fabric to use for binding. Solid black seems too severe. Solid green? No, that would be too much green. I’m leaning toward using one of the black prints from the quilt and maybe inserting a very thin green flange.

Do you approve?

 

 

 

 

Posted in free motion quilting, Janome 9450QCP, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 7 Comments

Of Luck and Labels

I made a serendipitous discovery today when making the label for All You Need Is Love, my latest quilt. Before I explain, let me show you a few photos of the quilt taken outdoors this afternoon. The photos are so much better than the indoor shots I showed you in my last post. I’m especially loving the contrast between the red of the quilt and the green of the grass:


Did you happen to notice the label in the lower left corner in the photo above?

No? How about in the photo below, showing the front of the quilt with one corner turned back?

It’s not very noticeable, is it? That was my goal!

Here’s a close-up:

The label contains important information: the name of the quilt, who designed it, who made it, where it was made, who quilted it, and the year it was finished. But I wanted the label to take a back seat to the message on the back of the quilt.

To achieve that I did three things: printed the label from my computer so that I could use smaller letters than I can comfortably write by hand; used red ink, which blends into the background better than black ink would; and reduced the size of my circle pattern from my usual measurement of 4⅝” in diameter (the width of a compact disc) to 3¾” in diameter . The quilt finishes at 38″ x 44″ so a smaller label was definitely called for.

This is my second experience printing a label using my inkjet printer. The first time was a few months ago when I made the label for Give Me the Simple Life. The procedure was pretty straightforward. You start with label fabric and freezer paper that are both cut larger than a standard piece of paper, press the shiny side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of the label fabric, and trim the result very carefully to exactly 8½” x 11″. You create a label on your computer, determining the font and point size based on the desired finished size of your label. You insert the fabric/freezer paper combo into your printer and print the label.

When I tried this the first time I found I had to use two layers of freezer paper to get my printer to accept the combo and even then it was a bit temperamental, jamming my printer a couple of times until I got the the result I wanted.

I would have followed the same procedure this time but for my concern that the bright little flowers on my background fabric would show through the white label fabric. I was using the same white fabric for the back of the label but I wanted an extra layer in the middle to make sure those bright little flowers stayed hidden.

I decided to try fusing featherweight interfacing to the back of my label fabric before pressing it to one layer of freezer paper. I’m so glad I did! The interfacing gave the fabric just the right amount of body to feed smoothly through my printer. Serendipity!

I previewed my label first on paper using two different shades of red:

The bottom red was a better match with the red in the quilt. Next I printed the label on my fabric/interfacing/freezer paper combo:

The ink on fabric wasn’t quite as bright as the ink on paper but would certainly be fine for my purpose.

After determining a circle 3¾” in diameter would work well as a finished label size (based on the width of the longest line), I wandered around my kitchen opening cupboard doors until I found something just the right size to trace around for the back of the label:

In the next photo the fabric for the back of the label is on top of the label fabric, right sides together and pinned in place. You can just make out the printing on the label through the top layer:


After stitching all the way around the circle (taking out the pins as I come to them) and trimming very close to the stitched edge with pinking shears, I cut a slit in the back of the label so it can be turned inside out:


With the label turned, pressed, and hand appliquéd in place, the slit in the back will never be seen. And I’m very happy with the result:

I have a feeling I will be using this method on future labels!

 

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, quilt labels, update, Wonder Curve Ruler | 9 Comments

Love Rocks

Always has, always will!

May I present my latest quilt finish? It’s called All You Need Is Love based on the pattern Love Rocks from the new book Text Me from Sew Kind of Wonderful:

 

The book features several sizes of alphabets made using Sew Kind of Wonderful’s new Wonder Curve ruler. I like to piece the backs of my quilts so I decided to have some fun with the alphabet and carry a message from the front of the quilt to the back:

 

My little quilt — 38″ x 44″ — sports an edge-to-edge quilting design. I wanted something modern and was attracted to this design that looks a bit like doodling:

“Modern Ties” is a whimsical design that offers a pleasing counterpoint to the precision of the letters. Sherry Wadley did such a nice job on this for me. The quilting enhances the design of the quilt without overpowering it, just the effect I was going for.

A lot of quilters I know don’t enjoy binding their quilts but I do. Stitching down the binding on this quilt was a breeze both because the quilt is small and because I used a nifty little “sticky thimble” to push the needle through the fabric:


The thimble is called a Poke-a-Dot — how cute is that? — and comes in a little round tin containing 24 dots. Each thimble can be used multiple times so I probably have a lifetime supply. I could have ordered just the small tin of Poke-A-Dots but I treated myself to a bigger tin — the full Appliqué Set from Jillily Studio — several weeks ago:

Having learned how to do needleturn appliqué last year in the making of Give Me the Simple Life, I’m interested in learning other approaches. And I do confess that the tin this appliqué set comes in influenced my decision to purchase it. (This is not a paid endorsement, by the way; I just happen to like these products.)

Another confession: I jumped the gun in showing you my latest quilt. It’s not quite finished. Still to come: the label.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, update, Wonder Curve Ruler | 5 Comments