Things that make you go “MMMMMM…made in America…mmmmm”

I got an email from the Gainesville Handweavers Guild to be on the lookout for a new, made-in-America quilting cotton fabric. AMB’s web site said that the fabric could be found at a couple of shops in the NC – SC area where I happened to be for a few days, visiting while a family member attended Evolution2014 in Raleigh. IMG_1841

Cary NC Quilt Shop

Quilt Shop in Cary, NC

I stopped by here and snagged some fat quarters of the American Made Brand fabric, which my email said is from cotton grown in Arkansas, milled in SC…and then apparently marketed out of Seattle.

While in the vicinity of Raleigh, I was by no means subject to any sort of sensory deprivation. The beautiful sights, flavors, and atmosphere had me swooning with summer joy!

Raleigh Convention Center

View of our hotel from inside the Raleigh Convention Center

Convention Center artwork

Convention Center artwork

For more art on display at the center, click here.
Raleigh Convention Center

Raleigh Convention Center

One regret: the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo is coming to Raleigh, right here at the Convention Center, this weekend, and I will be long gone by then! If only…woulda, coulda, shoulda….sniffle…

We got take-out from The Pit, a famous North Carolina Barbecue place that has been featured on Man V. Food and Bobby Flay’s Throwdown. My favorite: the mashed potatoes with spicy gravy. Another: Soul Rolls, a deep-fried egg roll stuffed with smooth, piquant, mellow-seasoned chopped pork and collard greens and tender-crisp shredded carrots. We sampled a lot of delicious food in this town.

So what do you think about AMB: American-Made Brand fabric? Everyone I’ve spoken to about it is excited that there’s an American-made cotton quilting fabric on the market now. Is anyone up to their Farm-to-Fabric challenge? Hurry, there’s a deadline to register.

A Nice Warm Blankie on Election Night

It’s Election Night and I finally finished the Baby Brit Quilt-Along I started back in August. I posted here under the title a Little Quilting Help From Friends. Ah, what a carefree time that was! I met with Ann and Anna for lunch, and heard from Ann all about her new quilting adventures. And I heard from Anna about her life and times.

Ann, Anna and Me

I am so sorry to say that Anna got killed in a motorcycle accident just a couple of weeks after this happy-go-lucky photo was taken of us by the waiter at The Braised Onion.

I mentioned in the post that I’d begun a quilt-along and had been shopping in my fabric stash for suitable remnants to go into the project. This is how it finally turned out.

Little Baby Brit, a bound and ready comforter

My note of identification on the back

At the time, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was the big thing of wonder in the world. Somewhere back in my ancestry, I have a connection to Great Britain, but it’s great to be an American.

Thank you again, Cynthia Horst, for the inspiration and the great tutorials that helped me through it! I feel a sense of accomplishment, although we went through a lot of turmoil to get here and there’s likely to be more changes and cloudy days ahead. Cynthia had to interrupt the scheduled segments of the quilt-along to rush to help her daughter and premature grandbaby, whose schedule to enter this earth life did not correspond with everyone else’s! But now we have a little comforter to cheer and keep us warm this winter, and a few months ago it was all just a dream.

I used Warm and Natural needled cotton batting. I didn’t have a single piece big enough for this larger-than-a-baby-quilt-size, so I pieced together some remnants; you know me! And for the border strips and cross-strips, I did a sampler using some of the omnimotion, heirloom and quilting stitches programmed into my sewing machine. The quilting stitches worked out best; the ominimotion stitches were complex and used a great huge amount of thread.

Sampler stitches on the cross-strips

I mostly used lusciousKing Tut thread (first time I’ve tried it) until the 500 yard spool I had ran out, then I had to resort to Joann’s Coats and Clark’s brand machine quilting thread. Not highly recommended, as the thread shredded several times before I was finally through, even though I was using a topstitch needle with a big eye.

Coats and Clark’s thread shred

I did a free-motion stipple stitch around the border pieces. I used Karen Grof’s method for binding that I learned from her class at the Quilt Expo and I was pretty happy with that.

Squaring up the corners and borders

Snuggling in to watch election results

I guess I am a blanket sort of a person. I make baby blankets, I make fleece blankets for bigger kids, and now I make quilts. And, like a proper old hippie, I think of the appropriate rock ‘n roll tune while I work, and right now it’s Bruce Springsteen’s “Cover Me.”

We will wake up in the morning, and no matter who wins the election, half the people in the US won’t be happy. But when the cold night looms dark and threatening, some of us will have a nice warm blankie.

A Tale o’ Two Tee Shirts

Life wouldn’t be the same without our tee-shirts. Can you imagine a wardrobe without them?

We have a family member who works at Thread Pit, where you can buy cool tee shirts, cheap.

But what will you do when your tee-shirt slogan becomes passe or the fabric gets threadbare or you just plain outgrow the shirt? Landfill? According to a story on ArticleClick, remnant fabrics and used clothing take up 10% of space in landfills in LA.

Lucky for me, when I was shopping at the local Hospice Thrift store, I spotted two tee’s from bygone rock concerts (or maybe Wal-Mart, who knows?) One, a bejeweled Led Zeppelin and the other, a Nirvana, each a couple of $’s apiece. Only bad thing was, they were both size SMALL.

Another day, I scooped up some remnants at the Wal-Mart cutting counter. This pink cotton jersey knit, which set me back about $2.40, turned out to be an almost perfect match to the Nirvana shirt.

Remnant tee shirt project

All I did was 1) cut the side seams of the tee-shirt all the way from sleeve to hem. 2) Cut two five-inch wide strips of the remnant (by the way, I washed it first) and 3) serged the fabric strips to the tee shirt seams, right sides together. I turned down a hem at each end, then after serging the side seams, I sewed the hems with a 2.5 zigzag stitch. I did go back over the seams, too, that had been serged, with the zigzag for reinforcement. It took me less than an hour, I think, while singing “hey! wait! I got a real complaint!”

side panel

Remnant redo Nirvana

So that’s one less crusty band shirt and remnant roll in the landfill today.

Next is a shirt I made from a 1-yard remnant of knit fabric that, if not sold 1/2 price as a remnant, would have been $14.99. It was quite stretchy and a bit hard to work with. That is why I wanted to use it to make my first Emma Seabrooke SewkeyesE project, the Claire Tee Top. Seabrooke markets “Knit Patterns for the Hard to Fit” in which tops are based on shoulder size, cup size and bust measurement. She also sells a line of knit stay-tapes. I picked up a few of these at the Quilt Expo, and I love working with them.

Me and tee

The point is that as we go from the size small to the large, do our shoulders really grow in the same proportion as our wobbly bits? No, not really, except for maybe bit of fatback accumulating up there. And then when you get into the larger sizes, you get even more hit and miss when you try on clothes. Some L sizes are bigger on top, some bigger in the hips and smaller on top, all permutations, etc. Good luck!

I like the way it fits in the shoulders but skims the body and doesn’t hug the spare tire like Saran Wrap. Do you think it is an extreme contrast to the sliced and diced Nirvana tee? I will definitely try more of Emma Seabrooke’s designs for the hard to fit, while trying to avoid putting more fabric in the landfill.

Quilting and the Wave Stitch

I finally finished my Tossed Nine-Patch quilt, started at the Quilt Expo‘s Crazy For Quilting class taught by “the two Cathies,” Stachowicz and Gandy. You know, the “quilt in a day” that has taken me a little over a month…

finished, bound quilt

I only ran into one real glitch, and it’s my own stupid fault. The pattern sheet says 9 Nine-Patch blocks is a wall hanging, 12 Nine-Patch blocks is a lap quilt. I found that I had plenty enough (and more) 5-inch squares to make the lap quilt (96 squares), so I went ahead with it. Aargh, I later recalled that in class, one of the Cathies told us “Make 9 blocks!” The moment of recall came at the same time I discovered that I didn’t have enough fabric strips in the kit to make the inner border. I added one strip of semi-coordinating fabric remnant from my own stash to stretch the border. That is my non-standard addition to this quilt that makes it not a cookie-cutter commercial item. All of it but that is from the “Modernology” collection of Art Gallery fabrics.

the innermost part of the brown floral strip is not like the others

This blog is all about using remnants, so a project of all designer fabrics, planned and purchased, is not really my aim. I ended up with the coordinating art gallery fabrics because they were pre-packaged in a kit I purchased with the Expo class. I understand how the commercial quilters must go with designer, matchy-matchy fabrics because interdependence on notions, fabric and machines along with imagination makes the whole sewing business world go round. The real aim of my blog and work is to use up fabric that I already own or that I can get cheap, as a remnant.

I did have enough fabric in the kit for the outer border–go figure! But I didn’t get fabric in the kit to use for the backing or the binding. I pondered the choices I had in my stash, and discussed it with DH. Should I try to go with the art gallery fabric for the back and binding, or just use any old fabric, maybe even a solid color? One, I discovered there are no stores within a million miles of me that stock art gallery fabrics, and two, if I buy that fabric from an online venue, it’s going to add about $50 to the cost of this little lap quilt. I (we) decided to spring for the matching fabric just this once, and I ordered it from Hawthorne Threads. It came in the mail, like, immediately.

Now the wave-stitched sashing along the inner border was not part of the Eleanor Burns Tossed Nine-Patch pattern. It was an added little perk that showed what a Babylock serger can do, and BTW Babylock sponsored this particular Crazy About Quilting workshop at the Expo. Oh, what a beautiful little accent that wave stitching provided. One would draw a conclusion that to achieve this lovely effect, one would have to shell out $2500 for the machine that produces it. However, a recent blog entry from Sew Fun! the Husqvarna Viking blog, mentioned a wavy-edge serging technique that I can try. May not be the exact same wave but still a cute accent. After a lot of nail-biting and soul-searching, I decided to machine quilt it in the stipple motif. I can’t say I’m enthralled with the results, but it’s ok. I used more cotton thread for the machine quilting than I ever imagined. I had to wind about 10 bobbins.

Wave-stitched sashing (chartreuse fabric with turquoise stitching)

My moniker

This is the first quilt like this I’ve ever done. It is about 62″ by 48,” lap quilt size. Now I can say that I like the fabrics together, I like the randomness of the tossed blocks, and I like that IT IS FINISHED!

just before binding

Update on Expo Wristlet

I can hardly believe it’s been a full week since I was at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Lakeland! I finally finished my eReader wristlet that I began in Hope Yoder‘s workshop. This project featured some machine quilting and applique, sewing, and attaching hardware.

finished wristlet

eReaders, AKA iPads, Kindles and Nooks, are everywhere, and I’ve seen so many articles about crafty cases for these new electronic devices. Although this workshop was rather expensive, I was not at all disappointed. The fabrics in the kit were vibrant Michael Miller coordinating prints, the pattern is easy to follow and explains much, we got Steam a Seam 2 to transfer the applique pieces, heavy interfacing to protect the tablet, a Velcro fastener, durable hardware for attaching the strap, a charm for the strap, and an embroidered, matching-fabric-covered button. Plus, we got to assemble it all on a Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond sewing machine, using a walking foot with a 1/4-inch seam allowance guide. Machine tool heaven!

iPad with magnetic cover fits snugly in wristlet

When you have 20 women (or 40, as was the case in another class I took at the Expo) making a project together, [I think] it is so interesting to watch their behavior. A few rush through the directions and then get to hear the teacher say something like, “No one should be on Step 3 yet! Hold on!” Then some women rush to get the jump on using the iron or the clapper. In this project we made extensive use of a clapper, or point presser, to iron the thing completely flat. Problem was, we only had 2 clappers among 20 women. You get my drift? 🙂 But overall, the camaraderie was great, and the instructor provided lots of personal attention to each one of us. And the educators, women who help you with the machines they furnish, are always around helping you make sure it is threaded right, and that you have the special top-stitching needle for the top-stitching step, a full-enough bobbin and the right foot for the job. Craft, sewing, and machine heaven!

Quilt Expo Day 3

I got up early and sped from the hotel to the Lakeland Center for my last 2 classes. Crazy for Quilting with Kathy Stachowicz and Cathy Gandy had the class make a quilt top in 3 hours, using a Babylock serger. I didn’t finish in the three-hour session, but I sure learned a lot of amazing techniques. The Tossed Nine-Patch was an Eleanor Burns pattern. The pre-cut fabrics were from art gallery and were a jumble of very vibrant hues and patterns. One class member said to me out of the corner of her mouth, as we ironed our seam allowances flat, “I would have never put these colors together! Never!” I looked at mine and agreed. Here is a pic of the finished quilt top that was made with the same art gallery fabric squares in our kits.

quilt top from Crazy class

At the beginning of class, when they were trying to tape this quilt top to the partition wall so everyone could see what it was supposed to look like, I stopped to lend a hand, and they mistook me for a friend and fellow quilter, Kay Capps Cross of Cross Cuts Quilting. They even showed me this you tube pic of her–check it out and see my Sewing Personality doppelganger!

Did I mention this session was in the Babylock salon? I was laughing with my tablemate about something teacher Pam Crosby said in class the previous day, that no one ever unthreads their serger, and my neighbor said she’s got one of those Babylock sergers, and you don’t have to worry about threading it. “What?” I said. Here’s what the inside thread panel looks like:

threading panel popped on Babylock serger

This machine also makes the exciting “wave” stitch I’d heard talked about in various classes. Ooooh, I’m telling you, it was sweet; I love to test-drive a great machine! At the end of class they offered the machines (not the wave-sewing ones, of which the class only had 4) to us for a classroom model discount, even though they were all brand-new out of the box, but alas, I didn’t have a deuce and a half thousand dollars! Actually by this point in the Expo I was getting pretty low on cash.

The 3-hour class ended with my assessment that I’ve still got a lot to do at home to get this thing finished, but it will be a breeze with the serger techniques they taught. In a couple more hours, it will be all done.

close up of blue-green Wave-stitched sashing insert at corner

It was Saturday, and when I got out of class, lunch time, and lots more people had come. The faces in the crowd had morphed from predominantly wrinkled and gray to a younger, more buxom cohort, and the shopping venues were suffocatingly crammed with all manner of folks. I overhead one old man talking to another in the hallway, “Women, women, and more women! I’ve never seen so many women in one place!” I was wearing a jaunty scarf I’d bought the day before at a vendor booth, and I was getting compliments right and left!

I did see some yarn this year at the Expo. Some Art Fabric had a big rack of repurposed yarn (–the result of someone patiently unraveling sweaters?), which was beautiful, but didn’t seem to be selling like hotcakes. I love this store to the point of swooning! I also found lots of yarn at a vendor booth for the Sew & Quilt Shop in Bunnell. They were holding Make & Take workshops teaching how to knit ruffle scarves, and loads of people were standing around learning like mad. And they had piles of savory fabrics and a long-arm quilting machine in the booth. The proprietress explained to me the other day that when their local yarn shop went out of business, they took on the obligation of stocking yarn in the local area. I mean, “good” yarn, like Rosetti and Berocco, not the generic stuff like you see in JoAnn’s (which is still ok but not as plushy).

I had a fun time in the Vogue Fabrics booth, searching through buttons in the “1 Pound 5 Dollars” display. And I took advantage of the 6 blank hem-stitched hand towels for $20 special at All About Blanks. Heavenly linens, all ready to be embellished.

My last class was with Emma Seabrooke, Constructing Contemporary Knits. It was all theory, not a hands-on workshop, but was excellent. No power-point, no hand-outs, just face time with her and looking at her wonderful wardrobe items. I especially loved that she has her own line of stay tapes for sewing with knits. They are in different widths for seams and hems and necklines, and some are of knit and others of woven material. Seeing her stay tapes and learning how she applies them for different purposes, to magnificent effects, satisfies a searching feeling that I’ve always had. I know in my heart that seams and hems and necklines on knits need to be stabilized, but the commercial patterns don’t fill you in on any methods that seem to be satisfactory. Sure, you can buy Steam-a-Seam at the local fabric store, or order some Vilene from overseas, but they’ve been agonizing to apply. I’m so glad I went to this class and took notes. Seabrooke specializes in hard-to-fit patterns. She says that even though she is in the business of selling patterns, and she has 33 patterns, that you should only have one or two basic patterns that fit you, and you can make every garment as a variation of those specialized, fit-to-you patterns. She said that patterns fit to your shoulder dimensions, which you’ve had since you were about 16 years old.

Last year, I didn’t take any classes, stayed only a few hours, and just wandered around shopping and watching the crowd for trends. This Expo, I didn’t catch a single demonstration, although there were many scheduled. I signed up for seven classes, and allowed only a few hours in between for shopping. I had a good mix of hands-on classes and one-hour lectures. It was easy to see that in this Expo, big money changed hands! Business in the Sewing and Crafting universe is alive and well.


Day 2 of Quilt Expo

Whew! End of day 2 of my trip to the Original Quilting & Sewing Expo in Lakeland. I was able to spend the first part of the day loving it up with 2 grandsons and their dad and mom (who celebrated her birthday lunch with us at Hurricane Wings). And, I am happy that Fabric Warehouse kept my purchase (the one I lost by walking off and leaving it) and I was able to retrieve that cute Pul and Dr Suess print package.

My first class was after lunch, with Pam Crosby from The Sewing Workshop about Sewing Stretch Knits. I loved the outfit she wore, made from the patterns they sell for $22 apiece (with a price break if you buy more at the same time) in various analogous colors of linen: gold, yellow and green. I especially liked the Nine Lives vest with the asymmetrical hem. But the focus here was on stretch tshirts, vests, cardis and shrugs. I got lots of good ideas. The Sewing Workshop.
My evening class was with June Colburn called Dyeing by the Yard. This one was my “impulse buy” of all the classes, and it was such a departure from the usual. The first hour, she gave us a fashion show of some of her fabulous silk garments. The second hour, we broke into groups of four and dyed a yard of plain white silk. Here are the results of our table, with Marie, Shirley, Sue, and me (and I apologize for the deplorable iPhone 3 photos).




20120225-054632.jpg The 3rd hour of class we did silk screen printing on panels of discarded kimono linings. I did not know whether the brownish antiqued appearance of the silk was from dye or DNA transfer, but the results were nice! We were allowed to choose from many Asian themed stencils and several colors of dye. My project ended up as a dresser scarf. Here is a pic of one June had made with a liner that was less stained.

20120225-055330.jpg we had great fun with this! Thanks to the innovative instructor and my very congenial table mates!

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