Well, here we are a day before Halloween.  My children both waited until the last minute to decide whether they needed costumes or not.  We are hosting our FLL team and siblings for trick-or-treating, so my son definitely needed a costume.  Their team name this year is Something to do with Waffles.  So they thought it would be fun to wear things associated with waffles.  My son chose butter.  We found a shirt on Amazon that was the right color and I bought some baby flannel that matched to make some pants.  My husband cut out some vinyl letters according to the son's wishes.  We borrowed a Cricut vinyl press and it worked so nicely in comparison to using the iron. It's been dark, gloomy, and rainy so the pictures are not wonderful.

My daughter is dressing up as Mothman, which she tells me is a cryptid.  Whatever that is.  We bought a black hoodie and duct taped some feather antennae to the hood.  She wanted wings and no one has wings left in stock this week, of course.  We ended up cutting out some wings using foam core board.  I then cut out a few pieces of felt to join them and added some elastic straps similar to backpack straps.  However, we weren't really sure how to add the felt pieces to the foam core.  I think the end decision was a combo of Gorilla Glue and duct tape.  Who knows if it will hold?  She's giving it a trial run at a party this afternoon.
Other than that, not much sewing has been accomplished.  Life has gotten in the way.  It's been a steady stream of accompanying the family to appointments, other meetings, and, on top of that, our furnace malfunctioned so we didn't have any heat for four days.  The first two weren't too bad, but the last two were slightly nippy.  

Next week is pretty busy too, but at least most of it is quilt-related.  :)  Two different guild meetings and a class.  I still need to prepare all my class materials--press, cut, pack up.

The week after that will be a flurry of FLL prep leading up to the competition on the 16th.  And then hopefully things will calm down.

Mini Swap Quilts

My guild did a mini quilt swap recently.  Here is what I made for my partner, who likes traditional quilts and fabrics.  I went with custom quilting since I know she's into that.

I requested something small for my swap and so my partner made me this cute little guy that will fit perfectly on my wall.  The back is as cute as the front.
We had our guild retreat over the weekend.  I went on Saturday only and took along my Cupcake 3 American Jane project.  I got one charm pack's worth, or 84 blocks, completely finished and started on the second charm pack, which I finished sewing and cutting yesterday.  These things take forever!!
We had an impromptu baby shower at the retreat for one of the girls.  Along with some purchased stuff, I made a set of burp cloths as well.  Here is a tutorial I made for them.
I've been super-productive recently.  I have quilted two quilts for clients.  

I have several of my own ready to go as well, including the ripped and re-sewn polar bear quilt.
What are you working on?

P.S.--I saw juncos in my yard yesterday.  They are winter birds here.  😩

NASA Quilt Finished!

Yesterday was the last day of my kids' fall break.  We hadn't done anything too exciting over the four-day weekend, other than attend a talk/solo cello concert in a cemetery about bugs that are decomposers.  So we decided to do a quick road trip to Casey, Illinois, home to many of the world's largest items and other big items.

Since I had a lot of car time, I took along the NASA quilt that needed to be bound.  My family patiently waited an extra 10 minutes in the car when we arrived so that I could sew down the last of the binding because I thought it would be fun to get a picture of the finished quilt with something that is the world's largest.

So, without further ado, here is the NASA quilt in the "World's Largest Mailbox."  In case you're wondering, you can actually place stamped mail in the largest mailbox to be mailed.  :)
The NASA quilt measures 55" x 61.25".  It is essentially double-sided since I used panels on the front and the back.  All fabrics are from Riley Blake.  I quilted it using the Sweep pantograph.  This one is for my son, who currently wishes to become an aerospace engineer.  This is #14 on my 2019 Finish-A-Long list.

I got a souvenir while we were in Casey.  I found this crimper/pleater in an antiques store there.  I have always been fascinated with the one that's at a museum near us, and now I have my own.

Finally, if you've been following my smelly and stained antique block saga, they have been soaking in a vinegar and water solution for a week and a half now, mostly because I've been lazy and haven't taken care of them.  They seem to no longer smell, though some still have black spots all over the feed sack backing. I'm going to hang them to drip dry in the tub and go from there.

Linking with For the love of geese and mmmquilts.

2019 Finish-A-Long Quarter 4 Goals

I thought I'd try something a bit different to help me finish some of my WIP.  I seem to be much more productive when I have firm deadlines.  So I looked through my pile of works-in-progress and made a list of some I'd like to try to finish in the next few months and I'm linking up with the 2019 Finish-A-Long Q4 to try to get more done.

Here is my list of proposed finishes for Q4.

1.  Pink Grapefruit quilt

I am taking a class with Coleen Merte in November.  Everything for the quilt needs to be pre-cut before the class, so surely I can finish a quilt top in a short amount of time, right?  It will just be the quilting and binding that will take some time.  But definitely doable.

2.   FQS mystery BOM

It just needs the binding stitched down.

3.  Kimberly Einmo class quilt

I want to do custom quilting on this one.  I just haven't worked out what exactly yet.  The goal is to quilt and bind it.

4.  Polar Bear quilt

I was planning on quilting this last week until I noticed that it is super wavy and crooked.  So it needs to be ripped apart and re-sewn.   Then quilting and binding.

5.  Lucky charm quilt

Another that I want to custom quilt but can't decided on a design.

6.  Cross quilt

This one needs to be quilted and bound.  I'm not in love with the backing fabric I bought, but can't find anything to coordinate with the top.  I do have a quilting plan already, so that's a plus.

7.  Strawberry quilt

This one is for my daughter and she wants custom quilting, so I've been dragging my feet for a very long time.

8.  Summer book club blocks

I started making some blocks this summer but got busy doing other things.  I need to make a ton of blocks and then figure out from there what to do.  It's unlikely this one will get done this quarter, but a girl can dream, right?

9.  Churn dash mini

This one needs borders of some sort and then quilting and binding.

10.  Range kit

Cut, sew, quilt, bind.  I can't wait to make this, but I've been holding back because I feel like I need to get more things finished first.

11.  Antique blocks

If you've followed my blog recently, you have read about these several times.  I think they are now sufficiently cleaned and the smell has gone away, so I will need to tear some apart and re-sew the center seam, then create a quilt top with them. If I am going to do this one, it will need to be done before February, so it seems like a great one to add to the list.

12.  Purple flower quilt

Quilt and bind.

13.  Crabby mini

Fabric has been pulled and pattern prepared forever.  I just need to do it.  I find so much of paper-piecing to be so intimidating.  Not the sewing itself, but the figuring out the right way to put the fabric and then removing all the paper at the end.

14. NASA quilt

The binding needs to be sewn down.

15.  American Jane Cupcake Mix 3

There is no way this will get done since one of the fabric lines I want to include doesn't come out until February.  I am listing it here because I am currently working on it and am intending to continue working on it throughout quarter 4.

Clearly I have a lot of quilting to do.  You can see I'm great at making tops, but not so quick at turning them into quilts. Let's get quilting!

Antique Blocks Revisited

Last week I decided that since I have finished everything that had a firm deadline, I'd start on the antique blocks.  I pressed each of them and was very discouraged.  They were more stained than I thought, they were not as flat as I'd hoped and will require disassembly and reassembly to fix, and, most discouraging of all, when the iron hit them they smelled so bad that I felt more than a bit sick.  

I set them aside while I considered what to do.

In the meantime, I thought that maybe I'd finally finish a top I made years ago.  I'd found some matching fabric that I could use for backing and binding on an Instagram de-stash, so I figured that was a sign.  I gave the top a good press and noticed that it was really wavy and bumpy and even had a bit of a curve to it.  Big old sigh.  I will be ripping it apart and reassembling it using proper measurement techniques so that it will be closer to flat.

Okay.  Now what?  I have stinky, wavy antique blocks, a wavy quilt top, and a lot of disappointment and disgust.

My friend invited me over for a sew day, so I thought this would be a perfect time to finish my dinosaur napkins.  You may recall I mentioned a while back that we didn't have any more than four of any napkins except a set of Valentine's Day ones and I'd found this cute dinosaur fabric that I thought would be great.  I had all eight cut, but the thought of doing all the ironing to prepare them wasn't appealing.  It seemed like a great take along project though, so that's what I did.  It was nice to counteract the tedium of all the ironing with being able to have a nice chat. And now I have a set of eight guest-ready napkins.

If you're wondering what my process is, it's to cut as large of squares as I can get from my fabric, which usually works out to 17-18".  Then I press up a 1/2" hem all the way around.  Next I fold in the raw edges so that I'm left with an approximate 1/4" hem.  I then just topstitch down the hem and voila!

I'd also packed an ongoing project to work on, but the napkins took longer than I expected (don't things always?) and my day was cut a bit short since my husband sold our car while he was at work and had no way to get home! For the time being we are back to two cars and 2.5 drivers.

The ongoing project is making a quilt using a bunch of Cupcake Mix Recipe 3 papers and American Jane charm packs.  I'd been collecting them for a while and this seemed like a good idea since all the fabrics from the various lines work well together.  I'd had the first pack (her Bread and Butter line) sewn and cut for a while, but hadn't pressed them (since April or May, maybe??  Nope, March.)  So I pulled out these to work on. I have my guild retreat next weekend and this is the project I'm planning to work on there as well. I'm using Kona Snow with them and will need to cut a bunch of 5" squares.
Well, as I'm pressing these I am seriously doubting my sanity.  These things are tiny!  And there will be a lot of paper to remove!  Right now I am leaning toward making the Jacob's ladder version of the blocks, which appear to finish at 2.5". What!?!?!?!?!
Anyway, I found this quilt, with the pattern available for free here, as a basic outline of what I will do with my blocks.  Though at this size it may be years before I get all of them sewn.  This image is a screen shot of the quilt I'm using as inspiration.

Okay, so back to the antique blocks.  I was Googling what to do with them to get rid of the smell.  I found a few different products to try and then realized that I had one of them already.  I figured that since I have something in hand it would be worth a shot.  I used a small tote, four gallons of water, and 12 tablespoons of the Vintage Textile Soak.
The water started turning a gross yellowish color right away and the smell was not good either.  The fabrics themselves had dark spots on them that I figured were from age.  They didn't really looks like stains per se.  Some of the backing fabric, which does appear to be from feed sacks, has black spots.  I'm not sure if this is mildew, mold, or something else.  The spots are very dark black and have a tar-like look.
Okay, so after the first several hours the water was looking pretty nasty.  When I dumped it out to start fresh again it almost felt oily.  The blocks definitely looked a lot brighter, but they still smelled terrible.
I left them soaking in the Vintage Textile Soak another 24 hours.  Thankfully, none of the colors bled, though I found one that looked a lot lighter than I remembered.  However, the black spots were still on the backings and the blocks still smelled pretty bad.  Here you can see a few of the black spots.  The giant white circle in the second picture is a reflection of the light above.

I drained the water, rinsed the blocks, added fresh water, and added vinegar and have left them for another 24 hours.  I haven't checked them yet to see how that turned out.

So the question is, what is the black substance on the feed sack backings?  And how should I proceed?  If they still smell terrible I'm not sure that I should continue since I'd have to handle them quite a bit.  And if the black stuff is mold or mildew, that's certainly not healthy to work with.  Any thoughts?

Linking with For the love of geese (hey, look, my mini from last week is featured!) and My Quilt Infatuation.

Binding Tutorial

Warning:  this is a picture-heavy post.

I made this mini quilt for my friend's birthday.  She likes Tula Pink fabric, so I used Tula Pink True Colors along with some Moda white for the front, and a Tula Pink unicorn fabric from her latest line for the back and binding.  The pattern I used is the kite block from Flying Parrot Quilts. I quilted it using the pattern "Abstract Butterfly".  It finished at 20" square. I love how it turned out.

I have also created a binding tutorial that I will share here.  It is also available as a free download.

How to Bind a Quilt

The Math

1.     Figure out how many binding strips you need.  Measure the perimeter of your quilt and add 12”.  For example, 60 + 60 + 80 + 80 + 12 = 292”.  

2.     Divide this number by 40”, which is a good measurement for width of fabric (selvedge to selvedge).  This number will tell you how many strips you need to cut.  For our example, 292/40 = 7.3, so I need to cut eight strips of fabric.

3.     Decide what size you want your binding to be.  Often times a pattern will tell you to cut 2.5” strips.  I prefer the look of 2.25” strips and I feel that they are more balanced and equal on the front and back.  It’s a matter of personal preference.  

4.     To figure yardage for binding, multiply the number of strips needed by the width you will cut them.  For our example, 8 * 2.25 = 18”, so I will need ½ yard of fabric minimum.  I prefer to add on a few inches in case of shrinkage during prewashing or to allow for squaring up the fabric or any mis-cuts.  So, I would purchase 5/8 yard.

The Creation

5.     Cut your strips of fabric and join them at a 45-degree angle.  The easy way to do this is place one fabric right side up.  Use the right end of this piece and the left end of the next piece face down, as shown.  Sew from the top left to the bottom right, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.  You can mark the sewing line on your fabric with a fabric marker or pencil, or use a tool such as what you can see on my sewing machine bed.

6.     Continue joining all your binding pieces until you have one long, continuous piece. I like to chain piece mine.  

7.     Before doing any cutting, test each of your seams to make sure they open up into a straight line.

8.     After you are satisfied that all of your joins are sewn correctly, carefully trim each piece so that you have a ¼” seam allowance remaining.

9.     Press each seam open.

10.  Press your binding in half with wrong sides together.

The Attachment

11.  Lay out your binding around your quilt top to make sure that you have made a long enough binding piece.  Also make sure that no joins are near the corners.  If they are, you need to adjust the layout until they are out of the corners.

12.  Make sure you have aligned the raw edges of the quilt and the binding.  Use a walking foot or your machine’s dual feed feature to do the sewing. Leaving an 8-12” tail for a mini or a 12-15” tail for a regular quilt, begin sewing your binding to the quilt around the middle of a side using a ¼” seam allowance.  If you’re working with a mini quilt, you will want to start sewing a few inches from the bottom corner instead. I would also suggest using pins to hold your binding in place no matter what size you are working on.

13.  When you get to the corner, stop sewing ¼” from the edge and pivot your quilt to sew at a 45-degree angle to the corner.  Remove quilt from machine.

14.  Fold the binding up at a 45-degree angle.

15.  Now fold it back down on itself, lining up the top fold with the edge of the quilt.

16.  Make sure that the raw edges are aligned, pin, and sew down the sides, again stopping ¼” from the edge, rotating, and sewing toward the corner at a 45-degree angle.

17.  Continue this process until you are back at the side you started on.

The Cutting

18.  Sew down a few inches.  You will want to have 12-20” of unsewn quilt left on a larger quilt, or as big of a space as you can get on a mini quilt.  Sometimes you might have to un-sew a bit of previously sewn binding to get enough slack to work with.

19.  Lay the unsewn side of your quilt on a flat surface.  Place both loose ends of the binding flat along the edge of the quilt.  Leave a 1/8” gap between the two where they meet.  Roll back the excess binding pieces flat along themselves.

20.  Trim the left-hand side at the fold along the 1/8” gap.

21.  Open the piece of binding that you just cut off.  Line up the open binding with the right side of the binding, making sure the left edges are aligned.

22.  Trim any excess binding to the right of your aligned pieces.  *Make sure you only cut the top piece of the binding, not the bottom one that's already sewn down.* Your binding is serving as a ruler, rather than having to remember any exact formula for size.  This method works for any size binding.  Set trimmed excess binding aside.

The Join

23.  You are now going to join your pieces using a mitered seam.  Though it’s a bit tricky at first, this process yields a beautiful, invisible join. With the quilt positioned so that the binding is on the top, open the left side so that the right side is facing up.

24.  Open the right side of the binding so that the wrong side is facing up. (If you are using solids, the right side has the ironed crease bumps and the wrong side had the ironed crease dents.)

25.  Overlap the pieces so that the left side goes straight across and the right side meets it at a right angle.  Sometimes it’s really tricky to get enough space to work with, so you may need to un-sew a bit of the seams in order to make the pieces easier to work with.  I like to pin my pieces in multiple places to hold them together.  

26.  Sew from top left to lower right.  You may find it easier to mark the diagonal line with a fabric marker or pencil before sewing.

27.  Before you cut, make sure that you open up the binding and make sure that you sewed the seam in the right direction and that nothing is twisted.  You also need to make sure that the binding lays flat along the quilt.  If it seems too big, you can make your seam allowance slightly larger and try again.


28.  Once you have verified that everything is oriented correctly and is the correct size, carefully trim your seam allowance to ¼”.

29.  Press open your seam.  Since the majority of the binding is already attached, I use a seam roller on this seam rather than trying to iron it.  You could also run your fingernail down the seam several times as well.

30.  Sew the loose binding into place.

31.  Admire your beautiful join.

Finishing Touches
32.  If you are planning to do a traditional binding process, sew the binding to the quilt top, then turn it to the back, clip in place, and hand-stitch down.

33.  If you are planning to machine-stitch down the binding, there are several ways to do it.  You could sew the binding to the front, fold it to the back, and stitch it down.  This will leave a line of stitching visible on the front of your quilt.  I don’t prefer this method because of the uncertainty of where that stitching line is going to land.  Instead, if I am finishing with the machine, I attach the binding to the back of the quilt first, then fold it to the front and stitch it down.  This way I am guaranteed that the front looks how I want.  The binding process works the same either way you decide.

And that's it.  Did you find this binding tutorial helpful?  Let me know if you have any questions or if something isn't clear.

Linking with For the love of geese and My Quilt Infatuation.