Friday, April 11, 2014

Anthropologie Hack: Chalkboard Table Runner

I recently happened to venture into Anthropologie and spotted this awesome chalkboard runner.  Their runner is just paper but it got me thinking about the chalk cloth I bought ages ago and still hadn't used.  I paired it with this beautiful ink Peppered Cotton and even took some pictures of my process so you can make your own:-)

Determine your desired finished size and how wide you want your outer border.  The basic technique is the same as for my Self Binding Linen Napkins but I've added some math so you can customize the size.  In my case, I wanted this to fit my kitchen island so my finished runner will be 24" x 78" with a 3" border.  

Cut your chalk cloth:
width = Finished width - 2 x border width + 1"
example width = 24" - 2 x 3" + 1 = 19"

length = Finished length - 2 x border width + 1"
example length = 78" - 2 x 3" + 1" = 73" 

Cut your outer fabric:
width = Finished width + 2 x border width + 1"
example width = 24" + 2 x 3" + 1" = 31"

length = Finished length + 2 x border width + 1".
example length = 78" + 2 x 3" + 1" = 85" 

* All seam allowances are 1/2"

Before you use your chalk cloth you'll want to "cure" it.  I put my kids to work with some sidewalk chalk and my cut piece of cloth.  Oilcloth Addict has a great tutorial on how to do this.  

From there the process is the same as the napkins.  Starting with 1 side, match the centers of the two fabrics and stitch along the side using 1/2" seam allowance.  It's best not to use pins on chalk cloth as they will leave permanent holes.  I also switched to a denim needle and increased my stitch length.  

Repeat on the remaining 3 sides starting and stopping where you meet a seam allowance.  Leave a small hole in 1 side for turning.  You will have odd wing like things sticking out from each corner, that's the way it should be.

Miter the corners by lining up the sewn seams and drawing a line from the folded edge to the seam line.  Sew along the drawn line and trim 1/2" from the sewn line for all 4 corners.

Turn you table runner right side out through the hole.  Poke the corners out using a chopstick and evenly distribute the border around your runner.  You can press the outer border flat but do NOT iron the chalk cloth directly or it will melt.  Topstitch around the edge of the border making sure you close the hole left for turning.  
Throw a party and show off your latest creation:-)

There are some great tips on working with chalk cloth in general at the split stitch and Oilcloth Addict.

Sharing the fun with Crazy Mom Quilts on Finish it Up Friday!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

W.i.P Wednesday: A Walk in the Park

After the 90 Sewing Circles of Hell, piecing blocks feels like a walk in the park... albeit a very looong one:-)  I finally got back to working on the Central Park blocks that I started on the Boston MQG retreat last month.  Hyacinth Quilt Designs has a fabulous Garden Fence tutorial for making these.  I'd already made most of the outer rings but since I was using a layer cake there wasn't enough of each print to cut the center squares.

I decided to use my favorite FSDS Olive for the centers...  all 35 of them.  I'm not good at making the exact same block over and over again!  If I did it again I'd work smarter and strip piece the olive with the yellow top and bottom strips and then subcut the units.  Then I'd just have to add the sides individually.

Then I followed the same process to attach all the outer rings to the centers...  35 times.

And now I just need to finish squaring up all 35 blocks so I can add the sashing and put the top together.  A bit tedious but I love the way it's turning out:-)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Checking in at this week's W.i.P. Wednesday:-)

Friday, April 4, 2014

I Survived the Sewing Circle Tote

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my new Sewing Circle Tote...  now that it's done!

The 28 page pattern by Elizabeth Hartman is meticulously written and well illustrated.  There was never a point where I was unclear what to do next but as my friend Aimee famously said "There are two kinds of sewers - those who can follow a pattern and those who just want to blow their brains out..."  I'm definitely the latter:-)

If you've been following my progress on Facebook and Instagram you know I skipped around a bit on the directions, mostly because I didn't have all of my fabrics picked out in advance.

Steps 13 - 34  I started by making the Patchwork Pockets which is definitely the highlight of the project.  I used the Melody Miller telephones as my inspiration and pulled scraps from my stash from there.  I was on a roll and just kept going... oops, need those straps now.  Go back to Step 1.

Steps 1 - 8  Making the straps isn't hard but if I did it again I'd cut my fabric at 4 1/2" to give the cotton webbing a little more breathing room.  Advance to Step 35 and realize the directions said make 2 straps 60" long, NOT make a strap 60" long and cut it in 2.  Make a trip to Quilter's Way for more fabric and repeat Steps 1 - 8.

Steps 35 - 41  Decide to add piping to the side panels ala the Amy Butler Weekender bag.  Bag is coming together and now needs the bottom I skipped making.

Steps 9 - 12  My bag just made it to 2nd base.  Quilting through Peltex is insane and it's really hard to move this under the machine.  Either my arms are too short or I have to sit next to my machine to get everything through.

Steps 42 - 45  Attaching the bottom to the bag is even worse than quilting it.  There is much cursing going on but it's finally done.

Steps 46 - 67  I'm losing my ability to follow a pattern, all those zip pockets are unnecessary.  I'm only making the big one.

Steps 68 - 76  The gathered pockets look cool but I'm only doing the big one and the two sides.  I decide I'd rather have a slip pocket on the other side for folders.  Go off pattern using Elizabeth's technique from the Perfect Quilted Tote.  Realize this requires math.  More cursing but the interior pockets are finally done.

Steps 77 - 80  Seems easy after putting together the exterior.  I might actually get this thing finished:-)

Step 82  Sew through my thumb while using the zipper foot to attach the interior and exterior bottoms.  Cursing, tears, and a delay while I remove the bloodstains from the handles.  A smart person would have stopped here.

Steps 83 - 87  Easy peasy, just keep your bloody thumb away from the straps.

Steps 88 - 89  The second hardest part of making this bag!  Sewing the facing through all those layers while trying to maneuver the bag was insane.  Run out of thread and have to wait until morning for another trip to Quilter's Way.  Using contrasting thread was probably a mistake.

Step 90 ENJOY YOUR FINISHED TOTE!  Thanks, Elizabeth;-)

Mods in case I make this again:
  • Rework the bottom.  I'd leave the exterior bottom as plain fabric/duck.  Quilt the interior bottom with batting and duck.  Add the 3 layers of Peltex as a slip in between the layers or make a false bottom.  
  • There shouldn't be a lot of stress on the top facing.  Try just using a double sided fusible to keep it in place or possibly handstitch the folded edge to the bag.
  • Still a lot of pockets, Simplify and lose a couple more of the interior pockets.
  • I'd probably skip the short handles also.  

So excited to be linking up with Finish it Up Friday!!!  Welcome back, Crazy Mom Quilts...  we missed you:-)

Also starting a new tradition with Sewjo Saturday at My Go-Go Life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Quilts and Color at the MFA

It feels like quilts are everywhere these days...  I was so excited to be invited to preview the Quilts and Color exhibit at the MFA yesterday.  Not only did I get to see these stunning quilts in person but I got to hear many of the stories behind them directly from the collector, Gerald Roy.

Gerry and his partner Paul Pilgrim amassed more than 1,200 quilts in the last 50 years.  Somehow from these they were able to whittle down the exhibit to 60 of the most exceptional and unique.  The quilts chosen represent the best uses of color and were then arranged to illustrate various lessons in color/design theory.  Each section also features a piece of abstract art that illustrates the same principal.

Obviously, I was drawn to this fairly traditional quilt for it's pink and green color scheme.  Made in the 1890s it illustrates how complementary colors appear to vibrate.

But many of the quilts on display clearly illustrate the roots of today's modern quilting movement.  Lose the borders and this scrappy triangle (Thousand Pyramids) quilt from the 1920s could have been one of the many triangle quilts being worked on at the last Boston MQG retreat.

And thanks to the EconomyBlockAlong made popular by Red Pepper Quilts and I'm a Ginger Monkey this quilt from 1870 could just as believably have been made today.

My favorite of all the quilts is this Field of Diamonds quilt from 1860.  Even if I didn't appreciate the effort involved in piecing all of these tiny hexagons, the optical illusion and secondary patterns would keep me fascinated.

At the same time the To Boston With Love flags have been rehung so you have double the reasons to visit in April:-)  A huge thank you to Jennifer, Amelia, and the rest of the MFA staff involved with this fabulous exhibit for granting me a sneak peek and some behind the scenes insights into this not to be missed quilt extravaganza!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

W.i.P Wednesday: Back to the Beach

It's hard to believe we've made it to Block 12 of our Toes in the Sand BOM at Quilter's Way.  I've pretty much abandoned using the fabrics provided for the month and just pull from the scraps from previous months to create the blocks I want.

No construction surprises...  at this point I can whip these up pretty quickly:-)  My only tip is to press the triangles around the center hexagon in the opposite direction of how you press the outer ring.  In my case I pressed the chevron triangles towards the center hexagon and the aqua triangles away from the floral hexagons.  That way your seam allowances will nest and give you pretty points.

We're going to take a month off and meet up again in May to show off our completed tops.  I can't wait to see this one finished!!!  It'll be perfectly beachy for summer... if it ever stops snowing around here;-)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Checking in at this week's W.i.P. Wednesday:-)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quilting With A Modern Slant

A long, long time ago my dear friend Rachel had the idea to write a book about the modern quilting community and because she's totally awesome invited me along for the ride.

As part of this adventure I got to go to Quilt Market and meet lots of "famous" quilters, do a photo shoot at Gather Here, and have way too much fun hanging out with people who are as insane about fabric as I am.  This weekend I had the privilege of joining Rachel and the phenomenal Pippa Patchwork for a talk at JP Knit & Stitch.  It was such a treat to meet so many lovely quilters and hear their quilting stories at this adorable shop.  A huge thank you to Genevieve and the rest of the gang for inviting us to join them!!!

If you haven't checked it out yet, Quilting With a Modern Slant profiles an amazing array of modern quilters.  What I love most about this book is that it is less about a specific technique or quilt pattern instead choosing to focus on what inspires different artists and the quilts they create.  It is loaded with delightful quilty eye candy and stories about the makers.  Interspersed are great quilting tips and useful tutorials (including a few by yours truly:-).  Even Martha thinks it's a good thing!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

W.i.P. Wednesday: Unpacked

Despite yet another snow storm, Thursday morning I packed up my car and headed for Kennebunk, Maine for the Boston MQG's 4th annual retreat.

As usual I spent more time socializing than sewing but I did manage to pick away at a few projects...  I got the center section of this Pure Plus quilted but decided it would be easier to use my guide bars to quilt the negative space once I got home.

I also re-made the month 2 blocks for the Toes in the Sand BOM so I'll be all set to put together the top once I finish month 12 at Quilter's Way next week.

And I finally cut up my Central Park layer cake.

I'm making Garden Fence blocks based on the awesome tutorial by Hyacinth Quilt Designs.  It doesn't quite work for a layer cake because you don't have enough for the center 4 1/2" squares but I'm thinking I'll use coordinating solids for the centers mixed in with bits of yardage I also have.

As always we capped off the trip with a stop at Marden's to pick up a "little" fabric:-)  I'm still riding the contact creativity high I got from being surrounded by so many amazing quilters.  I'm unpacked and ready to get back at it!

Keeping up with W.i.P. Wednesday