The goings on

The past couple of weeks have been bumpy ones for me. But despite the demise of my machine, I’ve been sewing as much as I can on one I’m borrowing from a friend. Its not the same, but its doing the job. I’m terribly excited to show you some of the big projects I’ve been working on, but since I have to keep them hush hush until the right moment, I want to show you some of the custom things I’ve made for the shop.

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First up, I was asked to make one of my quilted crib sheets for a new babe who lives in a very cold climate. I hope it keeps her snuggly and warm!

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I also made a rag quilt, which was a request from a very good customer of mine.

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This was definitely outside of my comfort zone, but its a very heavy and soft quilt, and I know it will be well loved. Plus, aren’t those foxes adorable? I love this collection from Rae Hoekstra for Cloud 9.

So that’s all I have to show for now, but I can promise you will want to stay tuned because I have a LOAD of great stuff coming. Thank you so much for bearing with me through this time. I really hope to be able to get a replacement machine soon. If you would like to help me reach that goal, I have some Liberty + leather bags left in the shop! Every little bit is helpful!

-Meredith

Where have I been, anyway?

I suppose I should come clean about where I’ve been for a week now. First I was just in the zone- planning and sewing the many major projects I have due before the end of the month. I’ve been trying to be extremely diligent in handling my sewing responsibilities. I want them to be well done, and finished in a timely manner especially since all the ones I’m working on are for other people.

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So fast forward to Monday. I’m feeling awesome because I am getting stuff done. All of the packages I was expecting Saturday wouldn’t arrive until Tuesday because of President’s Day, so Monday was the day to check off what I could do! That is until I was sewing a seam, and BAM. My machine just dies.

Completely, totally dies.

So that’s where I’ve been and that’s where I’m at. Monday was the worst day I’ve had on record in a long time, mainly because of the way I reacted to everything that happened. I’m praying a new machine will be provided, because I’ve picked up work on Layla’s Hello Kitty machine. Its a darn good little machine, but its a starter machine, and I have major projects going that require an awesome, heavy duty machine.

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Layla’s machine is fairly noisy, so I can’t use it while anyone is sleeping. So thanks to Layla asking me a bajillion times a day to teach her to knit, I’ve been practicing it myself so I can pass along what I learn. I bought some cheapo skeins at JoAnn’s yesterday, and marching to the beat of my own drum [in true Meredith style], I just started knitting/purling with both colors and I’m kind of loving the peppered look. I’m not following any pattern- just going. And if the yarn makes it far enough, I suppose this will turn into a scarf of sorts.

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Thank you for bearing with me. I cannot say enough about this absolutely wonderful crafting community. Both friends and strangers have offered to lend me machines, and I’m just so touched. I really have no words for the generosity of this community. A friend of mine is going to allow me to use her machine temporarily, but please pray that something happens and I can get a new machine. I’ll keep you updated!

-Meredith

Liberty + Leather (and a little sale)

I’ve been one busy lady this past week. I made a bunch of new bags for my Etsy shop. I generally sell them on Instagram, but they go so fast on there and they don’t hang around long enough to be blogged about.

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So let me tell you about these! All bags are one of a kind.

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All the new bags have a main Liberty patchwork section with a faux leather bottom. Its an absolutely gorgeous leather both in texture and color, and unfortunately I don’t have much left, so if you like these you’ll want to snatch one up quickly.

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They are all fully lined with either a royal blue or indigo chambray dot.

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And all of them have a metal YKK zipper closure.

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Most bags are flat pouches, perfect for use as a clutch.

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But I also made a few flat bottom cosmetic style bags which are larger and ideal for travel, makeup, and even to hold knitting projects.

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So those are the details. Several have already sold, so go check them out before they’re gone! If you’re headed to Quiltcon this weekend, they make great little travel bags, but they’re also great Valentine’s gifts.

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All of my blog followers can use BLOGFRIEND for a discount through tomorrow only. Go check them out here!

Have a great Tuesday!

-Meredith

Oliver + S : More Sketchbook Shirts, More Liberty

I told you I wouldn’t be able to quit. The Sketchbook Shirt pattern is just too good!

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This time I made Wallace two of the short sleeved versions of the shirt with the standard fold down collar.

I used my one of my all time favorite prints, Queue for the Zoo in green. 20150201-DSC_0002 20150201-DSC_0029

This awesome madras style print called Sam is from Liberty’s newest Alice in Wonderland collection.

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For the Zoo fabric, I chose some natural tortoise buttons. Its a different choice for me, but I think they suit the shirt nicely.

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I went with some two hole pearl finish buttons for the blue shirt, though I was hoping to find some more buttons with four holes. I have no clue why, but the two hole ones seems little feminine. I feel like I need to go check out my husband’s shirts to see what sort of buttons are on those. Anyway, they were what I had, so I used them. I don’t think Wallace cares at all. :)20150201-DSC_0099 20150201-DSC_0113

I’m so glad I got this pattern from Oliver + S. Its the perfect staple shirt for my boy, and I’m going to be using it until I can’t squeeze him into the range of sizes any more. The pattern, like all Oliver + S patterns, is written so clearly and it makes sewing a seemingly difficult garment quite simple. To me, the thought of sewing a shirt, and doing it well is quite daunting. But I’ve tackled this and feel very confident about sewing shirts now. So much that I’ve made four in less than two weeks. All that to say, if you think you can’t, you can! And you should!

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I’m hoping the next garments I’ll get to show you will be some for me, but if you have children you know how that goes. They always come first!

-Meredith

Right Turn Bag

I dabble in so many different aspects of sewing, that sometimes its a while before I work on one specific thing or another. In other words, I can sometimes be a binge crafter. Its been a while since I’ve done foundation piecing, and I was reminded as I was working on my latest project just how delightful it is! 20150201-DSC_0136

Of course, it helps to be working with such gorgeous fabrics! These are mostly Anna Maria Horner, with a Juliana Horner, a Cotton + Steel, and a Lotta Jansdotter print mixed in.

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My favorite part of this bag is all the texture on the front side. After I pieced together the strips, I added some AMH ribbon and then used various decorative stitches from my Janome to embellish. For those large stitches, I used my go to Aurifil 28 wt in various colors. I love that stuff!

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The back and strap are velveteen from AMH’s Field Study collection. 20150201-DSC_0138 20150201-DSC_0132

The interior print is from Honor Roll, and the wicker print pocket lining is from Juliana Horner’s debut collection, Rosette.

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I so love working with Anna Maria’s bold, beautiful fabric. Her work was really my first love in the wonderful world of sewing, and I collect every single piece of fabric she designs. Her collections, both old and new, compliment each other so perfectly, yet they all have their own stories and distinctions. I hope she is doing this forever! What incredible talent she has been blessed with.

Who is your favorite designer and why? What sort of fabrics get you excited to sew?

-Meredith

Opposites Attract Quilt Along : Sew [part 2]

Today we’re tacking part two of sewing our blocks for the Opposites Attract QAL. Who’s ready to start sewing up the Large Introvert blocks?

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How did things go with the Small Introvert blocks? I’d love to see your progress. After this week, we’ll be halfway done with our blocks, so we’re making great progress.

I’m loving seeing my small and large blocks together! I’m hoping my quilt will be a riot of bright, cheerful colors.

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Remember to post pictures to the Flickr pool and use #oppositesattractquilt on Instagram!

-Meredith

Oliver + S : Modified Jump Rope Shirt

I love the Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress. It was one of the first garment patterns I sewed for Layla so long ago. Its that time of year now when I start thinking about refreshing her wardrobe because she’s outgrown everything she has. She’s looking more like a toothpick everyday because she’s just getting taller. Anyway, I figured I would start by making her a couple of new shirts.

I used the Jump Rope Dress pattern, but modified it by shortening it to a shirt, and using bias tape on the armholes to keep the shirts sleeveless. Its the perfect look for Florida, and she’ll be able to wear them anytime.

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The first one is this great Nani Iro double gauze. I love this print because its so muted, but so feminine.

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The weight is absolutely wonderful, and its so soft!

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Layla chose this fabric from the Jones and Vandermeer site. She caught one glimpse of this Cookie Book fabric from Kim Knight and had to have it.

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I’m so glad I got it for her because I’m partial to this top as well. I love the vintage vibe of the fabric, and the colors are perfect.

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I used a 28 wt Aurifil for topstitching to make the dark aqua from the flowers pop.

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This is just the beginning of the clothes making for 2015. I need to refresh all my patterns for Layla as she is in the next size up, and Wallace will probably need something other than Sketchbook shirts. And then there’s me. I’m making me-stuff too!

What are your favorite kid’s patterns?

-Meredith

Kids and Quilts : A Liberty Love Story

I finished up Wallace’s new Liberty quilt, and now he and Layla have coordinating quilts. Same pattern, different color schemes to suit them. I’m not going to coordinate outfits or anything, but I’m ridiculously excited about these quilts. 20150127-DSC_0003

I do love kids and quilts. I’m happy that Wallace is far less particular about his than Layla. After she was born, I made the mistake of playing the door mat when someone bashed a quilt I had made for Layla, and they gave her a “made in China” piece of garbage blanket that was fleecy. To this day she prefers that stuff to even the most buttery soft quilts. But I digress. Let’s talk about the kid who thus far appreciates whatever I choose to wrap him in. Seeing the two of them wrapped up in their quilts just makes my heart happy. Its a small, tangible portrait of my love for them. How I hope they always know they hold my heart!

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Wallace was definitely in need of a quilt upgrade. Aside from a couple of blankets, he is too big and too tall for me to cover him in any of the ones I made before he was born. I’m happy that this one not only gives him room to grow, but he’s already getting a lot of use out of it. Notice those wrinkles? Those are love wrinkles.

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Believe it or not, I kind of expect to make more coordinated quilts in the future. I’m sure I’ll make costumes, clothes, and toys to go together. Even though he’s only eight months old, Wallace is head over heels in love with Layla. He watches her every move, and the two of them share such a special bond. She entertains him and just bubbles over with love for him, and he giggles at her and crawls around wherever she roams. When she takes her baths, he follows her right to the tub and stands there and splashes the water. If she’s in trouble and has been sent to her room, guess who is right behind her trying to rescue her? These two do make my heart so full, and I just know they’ll be partners in crime throughout childhood. And I’m going to be very tired.

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About the quilt… I used one of my all time favorite Liberty prints, Queue for the Zoo, in the blue colorway for Wallace’s quilt back. Layla’s has the same print in purple. His quilt is bound with my latest chambray obsession, Robert Kaufman’s Chambray Dot in indigo. Go buy bolts of that stuff! You will thank me later. :) The dot fabric on both quilts is Nani Iro Pocho which I bought at Jones and Vandermeer. All the patchwork portions are various Liberty prints.

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The original post about Layla’s quilt can be found here.

I hope this post finds you warm inside and out.

-Meredith

Picture Perfect Binding : a tutorial

Ready for a binding tutorial? I’ve gotten lots of requests for a straight grain binding tutorial. This one gets your picture perfect, crisp corners, professional results every single time. Its the essential skill for finishing quilts, and you’ll want to add it to your repertoire! This method showcases straight grain binding, which is perfect for most every quilt with the exception of those with curved edges.

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After you have finished quilting and squared up your quilt (trimmed it down so that your edges are even), you will need to determine just how much fabric you will need for binding. To calculate what you need, simply determine the perimeter of your quilt, and divide by 42″. My quilt is 40″ x 48″, and I know I cut my binding strips at 2.5″. If I were using standard 44″ fabric, I’ll account for the selvages and only count 42″. So the perimeter of my quilt is (40×2)+(48×2)=176″. I divide 176/42=4.1 and I’ll want to cut a little extra so I’ll cut 4.5 2.5″x42″ strips, so I’ll need (4.5×2.5=11.25) 1/2 yard for the binding. The fabric I chose for binding is actually 60″ so I cut four strips. Okay. I promise that’s it for math. If you’ve stuck with me to this point, I promise you can finish this to the end with a gorgeously clean result.

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So once you’ve cut your strips, you’re going to need to sew them together. You’ll want to place them right sides together, and orient the short ends to be perpendicular so that you can sew a 45° seam by sewing from corner to corner. It would be easier to sew them with a straight seam, but that would cause too much bulk when you attached it to the quilt. I promise this will make sense later.

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After you have sewn your strips together to make one long strip (don’t attach the two ends to make a circle!), trim those triangles off so that you leave about a 1/4″ seam. You’ll press those seams open.

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Fold your big, long strip in half lengthwise and press it.

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Now you’re going to attach the side with the raw edges to the raw edges of the front side of your quilt. Leaving a generous 8″ tail, begin around the center of one the sides of your quilt, and using a 1/4″ seam and beginning with an backstitch, sew the binding to the edge of your quilt.

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When you approach your corner, stop 1/4″ before the corner, raise your needle. You will now fold the binding up, and then down the adjacent edge of your quilt. This will form a triangle on the binding. Begin stitching the next side from the top edge, and continue in this manner along the sides and corners until you are about 8″ away from your beginning seam.

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When you are about that far away, backstitch and remove your quilt from the machine.

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Now we need to trim the excess binding and attach the strips so that they become one. To do this, trim a couple of inches off the beginning piece of binding.

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We’re going to use what you just trimmed off as a guide for where to cut the end binding. Overlap the beginning and end pieces, and open up the piece you trimmed off.

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Using that as a guide, trim the end piece so that it is overlapping your beginning piece 2.5″ (the width of your trimmed piece). Then trim off another 1/8″ for good measure. When I was taught, the lady told me to give it a haircut. :)

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Okay. Now your ready to attach the ends. We’re going to do this the same way we attached the pieces to begin with with a 45° seam, but its just a little trickier since its attached to the quilt. But you can do it!!! Keep going.

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Attach the ends so that they lay perpendicular. Its a great idea to keep them intact with pins while you sew. Once your seam is sewn, trim it down to 1/4″ and press open. Then fold the binding in half (it will naturally want to do this), and stitch the binding to the quilt the rest of the way.

Now this next step is not necessary, but I’m mentioning because I almost always do it. I love to think my quilts will last forever, and in the name of preservation I will stitch all the way around the edges of the quilt with an overlock stitch to ensure there is never any fraying. Again, not necessary, but you may want to do this on the extra special quilts you’ve poured your heart into, or those that you’ve made with more delicate fabrics like double gauze or linen (because it tends to fray like crazy). Aurifil’s 40wt thread is perfect for this!

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So now you are ready to begin hand stitching the binding to the backside of the quilt. Before you start, its a good idea to trim the corners of the quilt. Trim only the quilt, and not the binding or the stitching! This will help your corners to be perfect and flat. Okay, so you’ll need a sharp needle with a small eye. My local quilt shop carries some called “straw needles” that I always use for this purpose. Thread your needle and tie a hefty knot at one end. You’ll want to use a thread that matches your binding, not the backing.

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Fold the binding over to the back of the quilt, and beginning at somewhere other than a corner, pin down the edge in a single spot. Insert your needle through the backing of your quilt and up through the binding just to the left of your pin.

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Now insert your needle into the backing just below where it came out of the binding. Going toward the left (if you are right handed – the right if you are left handed), penetrate the backing and batting, but not the front of your quilt, and bring your needle out and through the binding about 1/4″ away. Continue to do this (its called a slip stitch or blind stitch) until you reach the corner.

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Notice how you can’t see your stitches and the binding has been attached invisibly?

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Once you reach the corner, sew all the way to the edge of the quilt, and then fold down that angled corner. Insert your needle up through the binding at the bottom of the corner, then insert it back into the binding and up to almost the top of the corner. 20150122-DSC_0055You’re going to blindstitch that corner down in the same manner that you’ve been stitching the binding to the quilt. This helps your corners to stay intact and crisp.

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After the corner is sewn down, keep on stitching until you’ve made it around the quilt. Once you’ve done several stitches, your hands pick up the rhythm, and it becomes a relaxing task. Keep on practicing, and you’ll be speeding through hand binding.

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This method of binding is what was taught to me when I started out. The woman who was gracious enough to teach me asked me, “well do you want to learn the quick way, or do you want to learn the right way?” Without hesitation, I answered, “the right way!” because I know how much time goes into making a quilt, and I don’t want to ruin its appearance with a quick finish. If its worth making, its worth doing it well to the very end.

There are many ways to bind up a quilt. The popular thing to do these days is to finish it on your machine. There’s not a thing wrong with that, but my method is the one I demonstrated to you today because I’m all about taking things slow, cutting carefully, measuring twice, and making sure everything is done right. I encourage you to give it a go, and I don’t doubt for a minute that you will love your clean, perfect, seamless finish on that quilt you’ve poured so much love and time into.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section, and I will do my best to answer!

Happy crafting!

-Meredith

HST Redux : The Kitchen Mat Tutorial

I don’t have pictures for our next step in the Opposites Attract QAL so that post will be up in the next day or two, but I do have a great tutorial for using up some of those HST leftovers! Be sure to cut those carefully, and you’ll have a precut project on your hands to whip up in an afternoon.

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I got out my leftovers from my Handcrafted version of the quilt, and began playing out with layout. I loved the look of these hourglass blocks!

And now I get to show you how to make one of these kitchen mats for yourself! Besides your triangle scraps, you’ll need an old towel, approximately 3/4″ yard for backing, 1/4″ yard for binding, thread, ruler, mat, rotary cutter. IMG_7064

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After you arrange your blocks (5 blocks x 7 blocks makes a mat approximately 20″ x 28″), sew them together with a 1/4″ seam on one of the 90° edges (those are the edges that should be even and straight, while the slanted edge will need to be trimmed and squared up later on).

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Press seams to one side (opposing sides for each side of the block- so I pressed my seams toward the Handcrafted prints).

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Then with right sides together, sew the diagonal edge of your pieces together with a 1/4″ seam.

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You’ll end up with a block like this. I trimmed mine down to 4.5″. Most acryllic rulers have a 45° angle guide that you should be able to use to ensure you are squaring up properly.

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Once you have sewn your blocks and are sure of your arrangement (because its always good to double check you are happy with it!), sew each  block together to form short rows. Then sew rows together, and remember to press your seams open.

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Sorry for this AWFUL blurry picture!

Now you’ll layer your mat top on the towel and backing, cut them so that you have a couple of inches on every side of the mat top. Make sure your layers are flat, and baste the layers together liberally with safety pins. Depending on the loft of your towel, your mat may want to shift around when quilting, so you want to be sure to baste well to prevent that from happening.

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Once you are satisfied with your basting, use your machine’s walking foot, and quilt in the design of your choosing. After you have quilted the mat, trim your mat and square it up. Cut three 2.5″ X WOF (width of fabric) for binding, and bind up the mat like you would a quilt. If you don’t know how to do this, fear not! I’ll be posting a very thorough binding tutorial this week.

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This is just one way you can use those left over triangles from your Opposites Attract Quilt, or any other quilt or pattern that will leave you with extras. Don’t look at them as scraps, but use them as a precut project! Turn them into a fun time, and you’ll have something new for your house, or a gift for a friend in no time. I’ll be posting many more tutorials like this one in the coming weeks. I’m determined to inspire you one way or another!

-Meredith