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!


Gift Pillow

detail of knife edge pillowA guest room at my brother’s home has rust brown color sheets, so I decided on these colors for a simple pillow. I’m happy with the result, which is neither country cute nor too modern. I first had in mind a cover for a travel pillow that was resting on the bed. Silly me, I thought all travel pillows were the same size! So this square pillow is the result instead. It’s on its way in the mail, and I hope it will be enjoyed.

I used a “knife edge” technique that makes the corners tuck in instead of sticking out — with no stuffing to give them definition. The photo below shows the detail, and it’s easy to do. Wrong side out, select a short distance in from the corners. One-half inch might do, or one inch. Draw a dot or an “X” using chalk or a disappearing fabric marker. Then use a large dinner plate or some other round flat object to taper a line towards both edges. Those lines, along with a regular seam allowance, are the lines you’ll stitch along. Proceed with trimming and turning inside out as usual.

When this type of pillow is turned to the right side and filled, the corners have a nice shape — worthy of gift giving. Of course there are many other pillow creation techniques, but it’s the one I chose for this pillow. And with that, I say “Happy Holidays”!



soundstitches sewing blog gift pillow

Table Runner

RunnerNow that this gift has been given out and nicely received, I can post this table runner that I made for my second cousin Molly, at whose lovely house in the sunny desert we spent the holidays. I don’t tackle too many quilt projects — I favor garments — so it had to be something easy to finish and something classy and artistic (just like my recipient). I chose — and bought new — one (subtly) printed black and one printed white fabric. When I bought these I was sure I would do stripes, but I knew I had something good when I found a gray lightweight wool in my stash to provide contrast. The batting is a layer of sweatshirt material (reduce, reuse…!), the backing is the white print fabric, and the binding as you can see is the black print. To determine the width of strips, use your ultimate measurements and divide into the numbers of strips. (Very generally!) With such a small project, getting enough length in a strip is usually not a problem.

Molly’s home is black, white and cream. She’s an artist, and appreciates bold textures more than colors. This gift rolled up nicely in my baggage for a plane trip, and it looks lovely on her modern glass table. (This picture is taken on my wood table.)

When it comes to making gifts for an upcoming deadline such as a holiday, I try to keep it simple to avoid becoming overly-stressed. This was just such a gift — fun to make, easy to present, decorative and useful.

Teapot Cozy

2013_Blog_TeapotCoverCold tea is an ongoing problem in our house. First, we consume a lot of it. Second, we don’t consume it all at the same time. One person might brew some early in the morning, another person — a late sleeper — might pour some out an hour or more later. The solution is a teapot cozy, and I’ve included a free tea cozy pattern with this post.

The outer layer is wool from Pendleton that I later made into a dress. I love the blue and gray plaid with thin red stripe. The dress isn’t a keeper, but of course I had left over material, and it’s perfect for a tea cozy (I also made a classy holiday stocking from the remnants ). Across the top and sides I used blue piping. The “sandwich” layer is Warm n Natural batting, leftover from the Roman blind lining in my sewing room. And the tea pot is fully lined with blue denim from long ago. I know it’s long ago because mid-college on, I owned a rabbit. That rabbit moved with me during my wandering years, and I have several pieces of fabric that she chewed into. Hence the several spots in my tea cozy lining with sewed-on flowers or buttons. I had fun cutting out and then singeing the edges of the wool fabric to seal them and make them ravel less. I might have used more flowers to make the effect more even, but I’m not much of a crafter and I figured it’s just a lining, after all. But it’s nice enough that it could be used as the top.

Since then our tea has been much warmer. Your teapot is the basis for the size of your cozy. Mine measured 25″ from spout to handle. You can use the free pattern to draft your own version. (Print several, then tape together to see if it wraps around.) Here are the instructions: Cut all pieces on the fold of fabric, as the pattern indicates. Cut 2 each on the fold of these items: 1. decorator fabric, 2. lining fabric, and 3. batting or insulating material. Baste piping (optional) to the right side of one layer of the decorator fabric at the stitching line (I used 1/2″ inch/1.27 centimeter), raw edge of piping pointing in the same direction as the raw edge of fabric. Do not install piping along the long bottom edge. Piping or not, leave the long bottom edge open. If you want to further embellish your decorator fabric, you should do so now. Embellishments could include embroidery or attaching fabric flowers or buttons (as I did to disguise holes).

Similarly, stitch the curved edges of the two right sides of decorator fabric using (again, I used 1/2 inch/1.27 centimeter seam allowances). Trim bulk from the curved seam allowance. Press up the long open bottom 1/2 ” (this will be folded up later).

copyright 2013 SoundStitches sewing blog teapot cozy lining

Pin one layer of batting to the curved edge of the lining piece, matching raw edges. Do the same with the remaining layer of lining and batting. Trim the batting layer close to the stitching line. Then stitch the curved edge of right sides of lining/batting. Remove some of the bulk by trimming. Press up the bottom 1/2″ (to fold up later). Press open the seam allowances and turn inside out. Push the lining up into the decorator fabric wrong sides together. You might have to do a lot of pushing so that the lining/batting layer fills all of the nooks and crannies of the decorator layer. Cute, eh? You’re on your way to keeping that tea hot!

The remaining step is to pin and sew the bottom all the way around. (In mine, I trimmed some of the decorator fabric and this allowed me to press then stitch a double fold of denim lining all the way around — it’s another easy detail but you can simply press up once and match the edge of the decorator fabric.)


Where Women Create

I had a peek at an interesting book recently — Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women. Locally I’ve given sessions on how to organize sewing spaces, so I was shopping for further ideas. While I wouldn’t call this book a practical guide on how to organize your crafting space, I did find inspiration since all of the women in the book have successful crafting, quilting or design careers. Since I could care less about Hollywood stars, the photos and the stories were inspiring to me! Some of the artists featured say they enjoy seeing their in-progress creations left out everywhere; others say they do their best work when they can find everything easily.

The book might serve as a wonderful justification for the mess in your space, because these women have a lot of stuff! I showed one photograph of a crafter’s studio to my husband with these very words: “It could be worse!” The book had only few examples for sewers or quilters. And if you’re a crafter, there are ideas for how to blend softer materials such as fabrics with harder ones such as paper and buttons. There are many reviews of this book on Amazon.com (link below) to see if the book is for you. ** In looking up the book, I’ve just discovered that there is another! It’s called Where Women Create: Book of Organization: The Art of Creating Order (long title!) and seems to have actual advice! I’m in!

Author Jo Packham partners with Stampington & Company — the creators of a magazine that I like called Altered Couture. She also creates and edits Stampington’s magazine Where Women Create, which I haven’t seen except on Amazon.com (maybe in bookstores such as Barnes and Noble too). I imagine each issue shares artists’ spaces, and tasked with filling an entire magazine, might have practical organizing advice. (Let me know what you think, if you have one.) All of the Stampington magazines are pricey, but full of wonderful photographs and techniques.

Where Women Create on Amazon.com

Feast of Color and Pattern

This post simply highlights a bedspread that my sewing student Shari has on her bed. She acquired it in South Africa while she and her family were living there. No need to embellish this fabric — the colors from various items of clothing speak for themselves. The simple shapes give the stage to all the fantastic patterns. The sun was coming in through a window as I took this picture and I can see why Shari loves the bedspread. It’s a perfect synergy — a creation worth more than the sum of its parts.