We have remnants, we need to know the STORIES!

Overall, I had a pretty happy day. I know, you’re about to tell me, “But yesterday was International Happiness Day.” True, I missed the boat not blogging about happiness yesterday. But I thought about it. And International Happiness Day is growing into something bigger. I have plenty going on now to make me happy.

I finally got the Ruby back from the repair shop. It has been in limbo there since early November. Funny, when I look at the Husqvarna Viking website, I do not even see Ruby, now they have a Ruby Deluxe. Perhaps the Ruby model is no longer produced, historically kind of like the Edsel? I didn’t sew on Ruby right away, because I’d been in a car accident and then hurt my head and got my neck and back jacked up. But today I plugged in the Ruby and made another rag quilt while watching the opening day of Rootstech. Ruby was all better, smooth and beautiful like I remembered! sigh! Rootstech is a 3-day genealogy workshop that is in its 3rd year of production. And it is BIG! An estimated ten thousand people listened to the streaming videos today, besides the throng of over 5,000 that attended in person at Salt Lake City.

Several points impressed me from the conference talks. One was that stories were stressed. Not just names and dates. Over and over I heard, we need to know the stories. WE NEED TO KNOW THE STORIES! Another point stressed: what will our great-grandchildren wish they knew about us? What would we know about our ancestors if they’d had social media like we have today?

I finished another larger rag quilt, using cotton flannel remnants. This one will go to Baby L, and the little one I already gave her will seem like a changing pad compared to this.

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Then I finished another lap quilt, one not made of remnants but of charming designer flannel fabric: Les Amis by Patti Sloniger for Michael Miller Fabrics LLC.

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20130321-211730.jpgdetail of Michael Miller fabric “Les amis de la foret”

For those creative readers who love this fabric, perhaps you could be the next fabulous new fabric designer? Check out this contest from Spoonflower and give it a chance!

I have sewn things that were given away, and later I forgot. If I did not keep a record I might not remember what I have done. Like the felted name tags for the FTWG conference, all gone and not remembered in the least. This giftee may not know that I picked the designer fabric just for her, with its French motif and Pantone color of the year, but here I note the remnants of the story.

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Weekly Photo Challenge — Unique

newest "leaf" on the family "palm tree"

newest “leaf” on the family “palm tree”

For more Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique go to the WPWPC page.

& Baby Rag Quilt

I said I would post when I got the rag quilt finished so here it is.

Pink flannel remnants

Pink flannel remnants

It started as a pile of remnants that were smaller than .85 yard. Usually I can make a baby receiving blanket with a remnant that is .85 to a yard in size. If smaller, the remnants can be cut up and sewn together. Woo hoo! More work! But sometimes worth it…

Cut up on this Accuquilt-Go cutter thingie

Cut up on this Accuquilt-Go cutter thingie

blocks for a rag quilt

blocks for a rag quilt

I used a 10-inch rag quilt block template. It saves a lot of elbow (and wrist) grease, cutting all those bazillion little snips around the edges. You position 2 layers of flannel on the template, right sides of both facing out and wrong sides facing each other.

Sew blocks together with 1-inch seams, fringe on the right side

Sew blocks together with 1-inch seams, fringe on the right side

You can cut 6.5-inch blocks of batting or muslin to insert between the two blocks, or not. I chose not to, because here in Florida it doesn’t get that chilly. You don’t want the poor infant sweating to death at nap time underneath her rag quilt. If you don’t stuff anything between the layers, with right sides facing out, once you’ve run them through the cutter they are ready to be sewn to the next block. Oh, I almost forgot: you sew the front and back block together with a big “X” from southwest to northeast and northwest to southeast. Then you sew one block to the next with a 1″ seam.

Easy little Florida baby rag quilt

Easy little Florida baby rag quilt

Then after you’ve sewn the blocks together and rows together in an orderly sequence, top stitch around the edge of it and machine wash and dry it to fluff up the rag edges. This ends up being rather small. For a larger-than-newborn baby, I’d add another row or two. And wash it a couple of times and shake out all that fiber debris from the raggy edges. But it was so super easy, and cute, and economical (once you figure the Go gadget has paid for itself) and it kept some flannel remnants from going into the landfill!

Blankets from Very EZ to Somewhat EZ

Ahhh blankets! How great it is to cover up with a soft and fluffy one.

This one is the easiest possible: get a piece of fleece and just serge around the edge. You don’t even really have to finish a fleece blanket; it won’t ravel, but the serged edge makes it look nice and done.

Serged-edge fleece blanket

It’s possible to find a remnant of fleece that is a yard or more, which will give it to you for 1/2 price! Cheap and good!

This one is adapted from my go-to receiving blanket, see the free pattern on youcanmakethis.com. This one is made without an edging at all. I used flannel for one side and minky for the other, which made for a little uneven seaming. To compensate, I used a roller foot for the machine, and pinned the edges together prior to sewing. Sew with the minky layer on top, keeping the pinned edges aligned until you get right up to removing the pins: the roller foot will not let the fabric stretch. Once turned inside out, I like to top-stitch the edges with the flannel side on top: I like the triple-stitch in a 4.5 or longer stitch length for a nice prominent top-stitch. I added a little embroidery motif on the plain but fluffy side to go with the flannel fabric.

minky-flannel receiving blanket

This one is my second attempt at free-motion quilting, another baby quilt of a non-standard size similar to the one I made in a November Post, Epic Remnants.

embroidering a lotus on the plain block

I started with some cotton collegiate sport fabric (which caused my husband to question my allegiance. I hope another trip to genuflect before the bull gator in front of Ben Hill Griffin stadium is not on the agenda) for the backing. I wanted large blocks for the front, like my previous project, so most of them ended up 12″ square, except for a shorter row. It’s ok. It’s ok. I ended up with some pretty uneven cutting lines so a lot of it had to end up getting sheared off anyway. It’s not a standard size project. I chose a shade of yellow flannel from JoAnn’s and some Wilderness Tan flannel from fabric.com for the contrasting blocks. To embellish the plain yellow, I added a machine embroidery lotus motif, symbolizing peace as in “please go to sleep now so I can get some things done” and the baby’s name. I used a layer of Warm & Natural Needled cotton batting in between the top and backing. I love it; the fabric sort of adheres to this batting like static cling.

The difference between this project and Epic Remnants, is that I used a new free-motion foot this time.

left: spring-action foot, right: free-motion open-toed foot

The spring-action free motion foot has a spring on it and you don’t have to manually set the + and – on the machine settings to do free-motion sewing; the foot just bounces over the fabric. It made for a much less labor-intensive sewing session. Although I did find a cheap set of 8 Dritz Quilting finger grips to wear while machine-quilting. They are sticky plastic finger cots with grips on the finger pad side and holes for ventilation on the top, fingernail side, to keep your hands from getting sweaty with them on. All pinned together, I started machine quilting from the middle, rolling the side that would come in contact with the inside of the sewing machine.

Machine quilting with spring-action free motion foot

I used the stipple motif, which is just stitching around and moving the fabric sandwich here and there, pivoting and turning where you feel like it. It’s possible to find errors in this but I hope that cuteness will more than make up for them.

finished little free-mo quilt

I used extra-wide double-folded bias tape in goldenrod for the binding, and finished it with a hearty top-stitching. This blanket had a few more steps than the first one, but it wasn’t a gargantuan task like say, a Queen-size pieced quilt would be. Maybe I’ll tackle a bigger one some day…

More Legacy Needlework

Here is part of a quilt top made by another of my great-grandmothers, Edith Mane Colby, who was born in 1877 in Maine.

Quilt top made circa early 1900's

She died in 1910.

It is a crazy quilt, made from scraps of fabric, many of which are so old and worn they are very ragged and holey now. The fabric pieces had a seam allowance of about 1/2 inch, and were stitched together with rather thick embroidery thread in a feather stitch. There was a backing, but it is mostly shredded as you can see in this photo.

Reverse side, with remnants of shredded backing on top

.

irregular pieces are sewn into square blocks, then sewn together

a separate, smaller piece

The fabric pieces for this quilt were likely remnants and scraps from cotton dresses and shirts worn by the family members during the years 1880 through 1910. Can you see it in your mind’s eye? [The Sherlock Holmes stories were written by A. Conan Doyle during 1880 and 1914, to give you a bit of a time line reference].

My mom, who was named for her grandmother, decided to use some of the quilt to make art quilts for family members for Christmas presents this past year. This one was given to me.

Mom's art quilt

close-up of the patchwork

She pieced together some fabrics she had in her stash with old pieces of her grandmother’s quilt and other interesting items of note. Some of the fabrics, especially old, worn, and fray-prone ones, were overlaid with netting to protect them and to add some texture. On the left side of the full pic, I see three white-embroidered cutwork flower-shapes; these once adorned my Aunt Jeanne’s wedding dress (made by Gran.) I also see some crocheted edging that has been couched over the top of the mini-quilt, adding color and texture.

To Grayzie, an art quilt is still a quilt, and highly sought-after

Here is my poor shortcut to a quilt, lacking the handiwork, but useful and practical in that it is made with modern-day remnants (so, please don’t hate, ancestors!)

pre-pieced remnant

I started with an adorable boy-baby cotton flannel fabric remnant. These pre-pieced baby-quilt fabrics can be pretty pricey, unless you settle for a remnant. But they are too tiny to stand alone, so you must pair them with other fabrics to made a worthwhile project. For mine, I happened to have 2 yards of Minky Cuddle Lamb in baby blue in the stash, that I’d bought online at fabric.com during one of their sales, and I probably used a code to get a percentage off, too. I trimmed about an 8″ strip off the Minky so it would line up with the remnant, once they’d been matched together and an allowance for a “cuff” at either end was turned down. I sewed the flannel remnant to the Minky, wrong sides together, on both long edges, forming a big tube. Then I turned the tube right-side out. I wanted to machine-embroider the baby’s name on the top cuff, which I did, using Tear-Easy stabilizer in the hoop, spray-gluing the Minky to the Tear-Easy, and then spray-gluing a water-soluable stabilizer piece to the top of the Minky. Then I basted the layers of stabilizer and fabric together in the hoop, using the machine’s Fix function. Even with glue and stitching, I was paranoid about the works moving around during embroidery because the layers are so heavy and bulky, they’re liable to shift and then…disaster. However, the embroidery went well. I stitched through all layers, in the ditch at the junction of the Minky and flannel seams, having lined them up so that the flannel panel was (theoretically) exactly in the middle, leaving Minky borders on both long sides. Then I folded the top and bottom edges under, turned under an inch or less, and hand-basted the layers all together to make sure that the flannel top edges were securely covered by the Minky “cuff” at top and bottom. Then I machine sewed all the layers across the top and bottom seams of the “cuffs.” To machine sew, I used a roller foot. That Minky can sure slide around and get warped and distorted, as I can attest from having tried to machine seam it first without the benefit of basting the layers together. Once basted, and sewn with the roller foot, it was good going. I added another seam about an inch away from all the edges of the blanket. With lots of seams, and no batting inside to shift around, I reasoned that I didn’t need to further quilt the blanket, but I thought it would look so cute with a little tie-quilting. And so it was quickly done, with a few strands of cotton yarn.

Modern-day shortcut quilt

A quickie quilt, with remnants

In 1890, or 2012, who wouldn’t want a warm quilt to sleep with, and to dream with? 🙂

Epic remnants and Free Motion Quilting

My DH pointed out to me yesterday, as he studied in Exodus 26:12, that specific uses for fabric remnants were given back in Moses’ time. Check out the King James version Online (and many variations.)

I had a little piece of yellow Daisy Lace fabric by Tina Givens Fairy Tip Toes for Westminster Fabrics, not quite 36 inches square.

Daisy Lace (Lorna Doones are Elizabeth's prescription for nausea)

I also had two coordinating Fairy Tip Toes prints, a Chocolate Cup Cake Medley and a Yellow Ribbon Fare. Plus, I found some plain yellow not-quite-quilting standard fabric, and serged together a patchwork top in 13″ squares. I used the Daisy Lace for the backing, and some Warm & Natural Needled Cotton batting (on sale at JoAnn’s).

Westminster Fabrics

I added some simple machine embroidery to the plain yellow blocks, in a dark plum color thread.

Machine embroidering motif on a plain block

I tried to embroider a name with my sewing machine’s Text Stitching function, but I couldn’t get it to do right through all the layers, so I picked it all out, then hand-embroidered it in the same needle hole-ridden spot.

Embroidery

The real reason for this madness was that I was dying to try free-motion quilting.

Currently, I subscribe to so many sites that send me creative prompts all the time. Knitting, crocheting, Artist Daily, quilting, Real Simple, Fabulous After Forty are a few of the emails I get every day! Lately I’ve actually paid some attention to the Art Quilting (or is it Quilting Arts?) ideas that filter across the ethernet to my inbox. “You can do it!” they assure me. “Don’t be afraid!” “Just put on some music, get comfortable, set your feed dogs on free motion, and go for it!”

Although I’ve always thought of myself as (gawsh, gee-whiz) artistic, I also have that left-brain push that wants me to go by the book, everything pigeonholed into the correct category and function, to make it work. That’s why I needed to see the instructions for free-motion quilting, even though what it amounts to is, you just do your own thing. You lower the feed dogs (my machine has a settings screen with check boxes and + or – numbers), attach a free-motion foot (mine is open-toed) and just move the fabric around while you put your foot on the pedal.
I tried it out and needed to adjust the plus or minuses, which govern how close the needle gets to the throat plate: you want to have enough room for the fabric to move around freely. The current issue of Quilting Arts has several articles on free-motion machine quilting. I decided to try the stipple motif, which turned out not exactly perfect. But you don’t have to be. Grabbing the rather heavy thickness of several layers of fabric and batting, and moving it around, can be a bit strenuous! I can see how Nancy Zieman’s grabaroos might be useful.

For the binding, I used double fold bias tape in a coordinating plum shade.

finished little quilt

It is small, maybe a good size to throw down on the floor and let the baby roll around on! Not exactly an epic project, like using a remnant to decorate the tabernacle in Moses’ time, but in my personal history, it is my very first attempt at free-motion machine quilting. I like it!

Quickie Quilt 2 With Remnants

Here is a pic of the remnants I used for this project.

remnants

I like to have an assortment of flannel and soft minky in the baby-blanket-making stash. The pink flannel became the designated backing, since it was the biggest piece. The others would have to be pieced together, which I did on the serger; having decided how many blocks would need to be cut to fit on the backing piece.

lining up the blocks on the backing

I did a little machine embroidery on the pink flannel backing. I had a couple of options for finishing: satin blanket binding or white jumbo rick-rack. Which would you have chosen?

I wasn’t going to add batting, until I showed the work-in-progress to the Wednesday Night Knitting Group, and Lois asked “What kind of batting are you going to use?” After mulling it over, I knew that I would insert batting (polyester because that’s what I have in the batting stash just now), use the satin blanket binding, and tie-quilt the patches with white baby yarn. Thanks, Lois!

finished

the backing side

Quickie Quilt with remnants

Remnant Redo a little late this week, but I like having it done on Friday rather than Monday. A Monday deadline is so…ahem! workaday.
I found these two remnants at different stores, but how incredible that they go together so well!

Green wide-wale "Soft N Comfy" from Joann's & cotton flannel/chenille from Hobby Lobby


I am behind on my baby blanket quota, so these soft, pastel colored remnants had to be put to use to make it right. The two fit together fairly evenly, although they made a non-standard size throw (30″ x 50″). Perhaps it can be used for a more casual wrap, cushion, or floor pad. I didn’t have to cut off and discard any of the fabric, except for four tiny triangles where I turned under the borders to miter the corners before sewing them down. I embroidered the lad’s name in an acorn font that came with my Husqvarna Viking. I like to think that he will grow into a strong oak!

embroidering the top border

I seamed the sides right-sides together, then turned them out, inserted a thin layer of batting and top-stitched along the seams. On the top and bottom borders, I stitched a decorative seam in the center of the panels to bind the layers together. Then I tie-quilted it with cotton yarn tied at intervals on the patchwork flannel/chenille side. The chenille patches are thick and fluffy like fake sherpa, and the Soft N Comfy minky backing is dreamy-soft. A sensory smorgasbord!

last step: tie-quilting

Just saying: I don’t love to do remnant projects only because I’m too cheap to buy real fabric {although I’m not denying that completely}. I see it as a creative calling to rescue the odd bolt-end and find a worthy use for its wonderfulness. Postaweek 2011 remnant project!

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