Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Free Motion Quilting: A Beginners Perspective

Well, I have finally done it. I've finally spent some time becoming familiar with free motion quilting. You know I have been dying to do this for like a year now. Now that I have logged some time at the machine, honing in on this skill, I have some mixed feelings. I learned so much doing it and still appreciate the art of it all… but… oi I'm just not sure it's for me.

I decided to get some more practice doing my free style quilting on making another fabric bowl. I just love them…what can I say?!? They're so freaking cute and fun to make. Plus, I'm not going to make a quilt just to practice free motion quilting on. I mean, come on, right? Like I have time to make a quilt right now. If you got a different project to try it out on, let me know gurl.

Remember this fabric? That's right; I used it for a purse a while back. It's like a light corduroy and I still haven't picked up any heavy weight interfacing so I needed something with a little stiffness. I'm not sure it was the best fabric choice to make my free motion quilting debut on since it's so busy. It was also confusing picking a thread color for it. I did try using a multi-color thread that I was hoping was going to look the best, but it turned out white just looked the best.
I traced the pattern off my computer screen on this notebook paper at 70%. If you're a good little seamster you can figure out the size from this or you can trace your own pattern or better yet, print it out. Anyways I only had a 19” x 28” piece of this fabric (hence the math on my pattern) so I shrunk down the original pattern so I could get enough pieces (12 petal pieces and 2 center/base pieces). I decided not to do different fabrics for the exterior and interior of the bowl.
LOOKIE What I Remembered To Do This Time! I remembered to iron the fusible interface on first BEFORE cutting. Who says this sexy dog can't learn new tricks? I'm just happy that I am learning from my mistakes.
This picture is classic maverick seamster - I cut all 12 petals (sides of bowl) pieces at once using an elaborate folding technique. Oh dear… when will I ever learn???

Hehe… never…
I really liked how last time I made them a littler larger and cut them down. It's really makes the world of a difference when you go to put them together to have a clean edge - makes it easier to bind them. So after cutting everything out I worked on what type of pattern I was going to free motion quilt.

I call the one on the right the sea shell and the one on the left the flower. I totally wish I did the flower pattern now, but it is pretty difficult and I just didn't feel confident enough to do it on the first time. But now that I have completed the project, I think I could have done it.

Now comes the part of this blog where I start to share what I learned free motion quilting. It's crucial to know how to set your sewing machine up before even trying this (obvious you'd think....). Not completely understanding how to get my machine set up properly prevented me doing this technique for a very long time. For my machine you gotta change the needle, lower the feetdogs, change the presser foot AND (here is the thing that f**ked up my sh*t) is that you have to move the presser foot lifter into a hover/mid-level position.

Man it is the hardest thing for me. I don't know if you have to do it on your machine but it is weird to me. I have got such strong muscle memory when it comes to lifting the presser foot up and down when sewing that it was hard for me not to do it. The other thing is that if you have to stop you can't easily pull out the thread if the presser foot wasn't up all the way. So here is what happen, I would have to stop quilting for some reason and I'd lift the presser foot up from the hoover position and then forget to make sure it was back in hoover position when I started sewing again.... and here's what happens when you accidentally forget to put the presser foot into the proper place……… I did this more often then I would like to admit.

That was frustration number one. Number two was my thread. I bought some sh*ty quality thread and it was not good. It just caused more problems than it was worth. I mean for a dollar more you can get some good quality thread. I have never had these problems on other spools I bought in the past. Only when I use this crappy, inexpensive thread. It was one of the first things my mom told me when I started sewing, “buy good thread, you'll never regret it”. Boy, was she right (do not tell her I said it or that I used crappy thread in my machine).  ANYWAYS... the pictures above illustrate this frustration.

Here it is all trimmed down and quilted (Don't ask about the center piece stitching – let's just say I should required to have a permit to even use a rotary cutter). I like it, obviously the quilting portion of this project requires more practice…. This is definitely novice work at best. The original pattern and tutorial I saw at Gret's Quilting Studio, she appliqued a cool design on each one and then free motion quilted around it (I think). Which I think is such a great idea. Yea..... I got A LOT more practicing to do.

Okay, I will tell you more about some things I learned about free motion quilting at the end, but let's finish up the project while I still got your attention. There's one thing I want to talk about. I deviated (shocked? you shouldn't be) from the way from the instructions and how I did it last time. What I did might make the difference when you go to sew your own fabric bowl together......

The instructions are to zigzag stitch each of the petals together along their sides BUT what I did this time instead (maybe by accident or maybe not – you'll never know) was to stitch the sides together by folding or stacking them on top of each other. I can't really explain this so I hope you can get what I am saying from this picture…. The seam on the left is stitched across the two pieces and the seam on the right the two pieces are stitched stacked on top of each other and sewn from the top. You can see that the downside of this way is that the bowl loses its reversibility and there are no visible seams on the inside. But the reason why I choose to do it this way on all of the sides is because it makes the petal pieces stand up tighter. This may be a solution for the lack of strong interfacing. I wish I could show it better… but it is something you gotta try for yourself.

I love it even though it reeks of rookie. The bottom needs to be weighted because it is a little tipsy (A very wise, learned seamstress taught me about doing this). I like it despite its many flaws – now that's deep.

Okie dokie here is everything else I learned about free motion quilting when doing this project. Hold on to your granny panties, this is gonna be a long one:

  • Crappy Thread = Never Again. Not only is it a source for headaches but why would you want to do that to your pretty pretty sewing machine?
  • Speed is King. Moving at slower speeds I think is harder; the sweet spot is a controlled quick speed.
  • Something was going on with my needle when I was doing free motion quilting. It was like making a clicking or like a ting-ing noise. I think if you look close at the pictures… its looks like the bottom stitch got pulled up through the fabric…. That may not make sense, but was that the problem that cause that sound? I'm not sure I know enough about sewing machines but it sounds like the needle isn't properly engaging with the bobbin. Now that sound only happened when I was free motion quilting, every other time is fine. I changed the setting on the machine to make the stitch tighter, closer together. I'm not sure if that is what I was supposed to do or not, but it felt right when I was doing it. I don't know, maybe I need to take a class.
  • I get what eyelashing is now, but not sure how to prevent it. Any suggestions?
  • This sounds a little random but the posture you have while sewing is so important. The first few pieces I was like hunched over and so I tried it just sitting back and relaxing and the experience was much much better.
  • I am still not sure how I should be rotating the fabric under the needle. I tried a couple different ways but never really got which way produced better results. Sometimes I just freed my mind from over thinking and just did it and that sometimes produced nicer work. But this can't just be a luck or a intuition based technique. There must methods. There must be!!!
  • Uhhhmm…. I think that's all for now…. But PLEASE if you're still reading and got deep and powerful skills of free motion quilting then, please, Direct me o wise one. Because as of right now I like it, but I think I like geometric patterns of quilting better AND they can be done without the hassle and heartache.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Storage Organizer Bin Container Thingie

I’m not sure what inspired this project. I completed this project like two weeks ago and I’m too old to remember that far back. I think I was coming off the high of the fabric bowl project and wanted to keep rolling with the storage container idea. I definitely need them. Lately the sewing room has been a wreck. Which I am fine with, I like chaos – it is an inevitable variable in this life, might as well learn how to embrace it.

I found this tutorial to make a Fabric Organizer Bin on my Pinterest page. Of course I got a mad ton of respect for my fellow bloggers however I didn't love this tutorial. I don't know why but for some reason I found it hard to read and the pictures were like very confusing. I love a free pattern, but you gotta put the measurements on it – so there’s the first frustration. But its free and that’s awesome so hit up Alida Garcia’s Tutorial and Free Pattern Download for a Fabric Organizer Bin aka Diaper Caddy. The plus side of this project, I was able to use my scraps.

So, like I've mentioned I don’t got a printer so I can’t just print out a free pattern. But I was able to ascertain the approximate measurements from the photos on the tutorial.

Look I know it’s easier to just print it up at work and take it home. But I actually am an advocate for doing it yourself. You learn so much.

I like to visualize the construction of a sewing project. By doing several drafts and exploring measurements and such it gives this little seamster much insight.

This was a fun project…. I remember having fun doing it. BUT its just a modified tote bag pattern…. So, been there done that sorta thing. And did it again. Then there was that one time I did it. Anyways the storage bin didn't turn out super great fantastic but I like it. It did inspire me to clean up my sewing room and now I have cool container to store my fabric selections for my next quilting project.

There were more things I did wrong than right on this project, but its cool. You gotta learn somehow. Take it from me you wanna know this:

  • YOU HAVE TO USE HEAVY DUTY STABILIZER. You have to, it’s the only way it’ll stand up. I guess there is the school of thought that it’ll stand up if you fill it up and it’s nice that it collapses down when not in use. I have been thinking of other ways around that…. I got some ideas brewing.
  • I made my straps too long, but I am glad I did and might have been the coolest mistake yet. You can see from the pic above that wrapping the strap around the container bin helped keep it up. Plus I like my stitching on the straps – I’m so talented.
  • Lastly, because I know how to do it now and did my own measuring and pattern making I now know how to make them for custom sizes. That’s right ladies, custom sizes….

Monday, November 17, 2014

My First Quilted Fabric Bowl

Hiiieeeeeeeeee! Sorry I haven't been active for awhile. Things have just been a little cray cray. Unfortunately it has totally affected how much time I could spend sewing as of late. Davey no sew, then Davey gots nothing to blog about. Before all the craziness set in I started a cool project in attempt to try new techniques and improve my sewing basics. This Quilted Fabric Bowl Tutorial by Geta Grama is amazing!!!! I remember when I saw this tutorial I was super impressed and thought it was so clever. I chose to do it now because I have desperately been dying to experiment with free motion quilting. I tried to do free motion quilting if you remember, but was unsuccessful because I didn't know how to properly set my sewing machine up to do it. Anyways that new technique combined with doing satin stitching (which I have been super interested in for some time as well) plus it has utility!! So big win win win win win all around. Anyways, like I said the tutorial is amazing and this was fun to do!

So I am trying to learn from my mistakes and one of those things I've learn is what I call the first pancake. Chefs’ use this term to describe how the first pancake is always a throwaway more of a way to test to see how hot the pan is. I'm using the term to say that I am going to try, from now on, to always do test run always. Until I’m a superhero level seamster man, I’m gonna try and never do a project unless I do a test run and experiment first. Like the stuffed animals I did recently, I would have done a much better stuffed fishies if I had done a one or two beforehand

Anyways that's a long way of saying because I knew this was gonna be a test run SO I choose to use this particular fabric and thread combination (Black with some white). I think the fabric is really beautiful - this green bamboo print. I had a lot of it I don't remember where I got it from, I think a leftover bin at Hancock. I always intended to use it for lining in a purse or handbag but because it had some stability and the only stabilizer I had was a medium I thought this would be good combo. I did all the quilting in black thread, but then had to switch to white and black only in the bobbin. Interesting effect none the less...

I don't remember……. because I started this project but only a month and a half ago……. I think I just looked at her pattern and just made my own by hand. I do not recommend you doing this. It was kind of problematic but it was kind of fun for me as a math guy to work through angles and such. Seriously though her pattern looks perfect and I'm going to use it next time.

So here you can see my pattern, the stack of cut out pieces and the stack of stabilizer pieces. I don't remember what my reasoning was for not ironing the stabilizer on to the fabric first and then cutting it out... But that's what I’m gonna do next time. It turned out okay in the end.

Here is a picture of what it looks like to do it that way and for you Type A's you probably don't want to see this picture. Nothing is perfectly aligned and all perfect, but this is how I roll people. I gots to be me!

Now comes the free motion quilting of the pieces together back to back. I saved one of the pieces to do some preliminary free motion quilting. I tried this lotus style and a few others (like the hearts and the ivy and the circles) but I'm not very good at it. But now that I'm looking at it again my lotus it's pretty good, hmmm.....

Anyways, because I couldn't imagine doing that much quilting on a practice run I kind of came up with my own idea. NOW I'm not saying I invented this, I'm just saying this is what I thought up. If you know what this is called let me know, I'm just calling it spider webbing. I just go back and forth various angles and distance from other stitches. It's fine if it's easy. I didn't like it when I did all them and I wasn't sure if it looks good at this point.

Before I could start satin stitching the sides of all the pieces I really need to clean up and all the edges. So what I did is I took my template and cut in a half inch on each side. And then traced it on each of the pieces and cut them out. I don't know if you can do this for every free motion quilting pattern but it works for this one because the lines continue to intersect regardless of where you started them at.

After that, I followed the rest of her instructions and I stitch them together the way she told me to and bingo bango! It’s a Quilted Fabric Bowl!!! Now because I didn't follow her pattern mine looks different than hers (of course) she has one additional side piece and hers are not as tall as mine. You can kind of see when you start to play with this overtime how the centerpiece determines how high of an angle the side pieces are raised up by

Anyways, because mine is a little too floppy and my stabilizer wasn't super heavy duty, I decided to just try and continue to stitch together each of the side pieces. My thinking was that I can always take out the seam if it did not work out. So you can kindof see what I mean in the pictures of how I stitched up the two angles together all around the bowl

And what an amazing idea because look what it gave me!!!! I love it!!!!! It looks like a tulip. And the top naturally curls so I just ironed them a little bit to enhance their curl and it worked out perfectly. In fact I think it's very architectural in a way.

And now I finally really like the freestyle free motion quilting (Just to be fair I know I shouldn’t be calling this free motion quilting cuz I just sewed in a line back and forth but come on!). When you look at it from the top it looks cool too!

What I will forever remember from the Quilted Fabric Bowl Tutorial:

  • Uhmm…. I’m gonna make a million, in a gazillion different sizes! You watch.
  • Perfect project to continue practicing free style quilting! ;)
  • This takes A LOT of thread!!!!
  • Seriously try this out sometime and see what you can do. I can’t wait to make more patterns and see what I can do!!
  • A tighter, more dense, freestyle quilting pattern would improve stability.
  • Satin stitching is great. I wish I could make my sewing machine make it so that their wider.
  • And they make a great hat.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Here Fishy Fishy Fishy Fishy

I hit the sewing machine this week to make gifts for a certain set of twins who turned one years old recently. I follow a blogger called Lauri, she has a free tutorial how to make fish soft toy. I was definitely inspired by her example. The tutorial has great and easy instructions. The only deviation I planned on having from her instructions is replicating the fish scales on each side – verses just one side like her instructions.

At first I thought I’d use lots and lots of different fabrics, but then I dialed it back. Most of the fabrics came from remnants of their baby quilts. I did decide to flip the fabrics for either side of the fish toy. You can see it better than I am explaining

Things were going great - I wasn’t rushing the project, I wasn’t being overtly sloppy. Hell I even cleaned my sewing machine first – LOOK! Ewww, that’s a dirty-dirty little sewing machine!

BUT I did forget to closely inspect my work and I ended made some mistakes. Oi vey…. Well luckily I only made them on one of the fish, I learned my lesson and double checked my work on the second fishy.

I finished the fishes with minimal heart ache and blood loss. It’s such an easy project I can’t recommend it enough for newbies. So I like it but then again I don’t…. Do you think they look weird?

I think the main problem I have with it was that I put too much batting into the scales. Yea, maybe that was it. Now I just need to ask myself, are they good enough or should I redo them?

Things I learned:

  • Always try new things, it’s how you learned.
  • Make a tester when starting a new project, it will help mitigate errors.
  • Watch those rounded edges. I may need to learn a thing or two about that.