I’m into Squares

AQuilt_croppeddvanced quilters will have to refrain from laughing at my puny quilting efforts. Those who want to learn basic quilting, read on. Especially if you’re an experienced garment sewer like I am, eager to expand your horizons into new prints, colors and techniques. Here’s the story of my latest simple quilt.

I have been dutifully trying to use cottons from my acquired stash. It seems to me, though, that to finish projects one has to acquire yet more fabrics because you don’t have just the right patterns, stripes or solids in quantity. This time, I put out a plea to my local recycling Web site: Did anyone have fabric they were not using, so I could “finish up” projects or make lap quilts for charity? Why, yes they did. And they would be more than happy to have me pick it up from their porches or homes. In large bins. All of the fabrics you see in the pictured sample are the result. The bluish-looking solid is actually a spruce green. The red is a floral, the cream is a leafy lattice, and there’s a floral element to the dark green striped fabric. Despite the flora, and no holiday element whatsoever, my quilt looks like Christmas. Which makes it less useful, I’m afraid, as a lap quilt or to give away. I’m less enthused about it myself, in the early summertime, though the colors are lovely.

The real simplicity to this project is the squares. It’s impossible to miss if you’re a really creative quilter. My quilt has only squares! I use a “strip” quilting method, and over time I’ve perfected the quarter-inch (1/4″) seam allowance so that in the sample above, the corners match beautifully. Though I’ve read many techniques for creating triangles, especially ones that won’t distort on the bias, I’ve never tried to cut or sew triangles! There–it’s out now! I can’t be frightened of the technique, which is well explained, but I do fear combining colors and prints. After all, a triangle meets up with another triangle, and each should complement the other somehow. But soon, soon I hope to try a whole bunch of triangles. And maybe some off-set columns (strips). You see, I have a lot of fabric to practice with!

Colorful Charity Sewing

SoundStitches sewing blog charity sewing Days for GirlsHere’s what I did last weekend: I stitched colorful fabrics to help girls stay in school! A co-worker alerted me to a sewing session to benefit a group that believes, “Every girl in the world deserves education, safety, and dignity.” Well, I decided I not only believe in that, but I could spend a few hours proving it! Here’s a bit more on Days for Girls International:

We help girls gain access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene and awareness, by direct distribution of sustainable feminine hygiene kits, by partnering with nonprofits, groups and organizations, by raising awareness, and by helping communities around the world start their own programs.

Practically-speaking, we stitched soft cotton covers and liners that will go into kits with washcloths, soap, and various plastic bags to make these necessary items easier to manage. We also consumed tasty soup, snacks, chatted, and enjoyed the great view afforded by our hostess’ hillside home! The goal of this program is to enable girls to continue attending school when they are often absent for one reason alone. More days in school leads to higher educational attainment and delayed motherhood, which leads to better maternal and infant health, and overall quality of life. Learn more or find a session near you: Days for Girls International

The organizer had assembled ready-to-sew kits. The fabrics were the delightful, high quality, and well-coordinated cottons you see in the picture, making it a pleasure to stitch together various combinations. I hope to attend the next session! This is actually the second session I’ve attended. The first was with school-aged girls, organized by a local mom, and held in a local crafts/sewing studio. Though puberty has not arrived for these girls yet, they were eager to either learn or practice their sewing skills to benefit other girls. And what a great, informal way to learn that the arrival of puberty is a challenge all girls can handle!

 

Vintage Textile Soak

Can you tell I was a child of the early 80s? Laura Ingalls Wilder-style ruffles were the fashion! I made this white flannel nightgown, complete with lace and embroidered initials, for a 4-H project when I was about 12. But this nightgown wasn’t this sparkling when I pulled it out recently. Oh, no it was brown and icky. It was living in a dry cleaning bag from the 90s — it must have been that old because my parents haven’t lived near the dry cleaner’s whose name the bag bears for more than a decade! I was lamenting how sad and brown the item was, when my friend Maris lent me her bag of Vintage Textile Soak. She used it to clean her daughter’s christening gown for wear by her granddaughter. She showed me the gown — it’s beautiful, white and as fresh-looking as it must have been the day it was finished!

The package for Vintage Textile Soak says the active ingredient is sodium bircarbonate. I dissolved the powder per instructions, and let it sit “from 4 to 24 hours or as needed.” Well it didn’t need that long. I started soaking at dinnertime, and in the morning the white flannel was sparkling. No traces of brown anywhere. My mom will be thrilled to see it so clean and new-looking. Info below on this product, which could reclaim any number of treasured items in your household.

This nightgown has another story, and here it is: The project was conceived as a 4-H project when I was about 11 or 12. Putting together the nightgown was not a big deal, though it looks detailed. I don’t remember all the details about its construction. My mom and I DO remember the embroidery part. I was SO OVER this project by then. But my mom reminded me of the plans to embroider my initial in pink and the little green leaves. I didn’t WANNA! My mom had to nag to get me to do it. The embroidery is not very well done, and doesn’t do the nightgown justice. Alas, it was finished, and it was entered into the 4-H sewing exhibit. I don’t even remember what prize it won! (Maybe my mom does.) And now I can share it with all of you. Thanks Maris!

Vintage Textile Soak, Arlington, Texas, 817-912-0905

Charity Sewing

Sometimes you just run out of things to make for yourself, or you’re motivated to do something for someone else. My local American Sewing Guild group is working on blankets for several charities. Armed with fabric from “Erma’s Stash,” last weekend a group got together to sew up blankets for injured veterans, for babies just coming home from hospital, and for hospice patients. Some of us cut, some of us sewed, and some of us pressed. I cut out two blankets, then borrowed a machine to complete one of them. I took two further sets home to finish, and felt good handing mine off to our charity sewing chairwoman later in the week. Below is a picture of our group. Unfortunately, I took no pictures of mine, but they were soft muted colors, and for one I sandwiched a layer of flannel in between and tied like a quilt. For the other, I simply stitched, then I used a fancy leaf embroidery pattern to create the “quilt” effect. It was quite rewarding. I simply followed these steps: cut two squares, pin together, sew, press, turn right side out, topstitch. Then uses some method to keep it from shifting after washes. To find instructions for these simple blankets, see American Sewing Guild Community Service. Alternatively, simply ask at your church or churches of your neighbors.

Inspired

Once again, I’m inspired and impressed. This time it’s sewing student Katelyn, and I love how she is wearing her first sewn dress. Check out the boots, belt and casual sweater. Isn’t this the way we all take photos of our new creations?! She used Simplicity 2004, pictured below. It’s a Sew Simple dress, with just back, front and facings.

Katelyn ended up not admiring the fabric as much as she first thought. At some point she realized it was simple quilting cotton. But lots of garments are cotton, and and I love it in this picture with the accessories. I hope she will attempt it in another color because it’s great practice. I know she’s itching to make it up in a slippery fabric. I agreed it would look cute, but cautioned that slippery shiny fabrics can be hard to manage. Katelyn’s also tackling a bathrobe next and she asks, “Should I do it with or without contrast facing?” Whatever she creates next, I enjoyed getting to know her and wish her the best in sewing and her other ventures.

 

Quilt for Auction

This lovely quilt was brought to our regular “show and tell” by North Seattle ASG member Jean Meier. The quilt, constructed of blocks to which raw edge circular shapes are attached, will be auctioned at the Spring for Seniors event benefitting the Ballard Northwest Senior Center. I just love the modern mix of colors, shapes and techniques that Jean incorporated.

The event is March 25, 2012 at 5:00 p.m., Leif Erickson Hall. More details on the Ballard NW Senior Center Web site.

You too can show off your garment and quilting projects — and learn from others — by attending a local American Sewing Guild meeting. We have very active neighborhood groups in the Puget Sound area. How about your area? To search for locations, click American Sewing Guild.