Friday, December 6, 2013
Last night I made more napkins. So, I also took photos to write a tutorial for those of you who asked, and those of you who need an easy and quick last minute Christmas, Birthday or Hostess Gift, and for the rest of you too.
To make these you need some fabrics for tops and backs of the napkins - the amount will depend on the size of your napkins. I used some prints from the Legacy line of fabrics and Essex Linen (it is a 50/50 linen cotton blend).
Cut squares (or rectangles if you prefer) of your top and bottom fabrics that are the same size. I cut 14.5" squares this time. If you use fat quarters, you can cut one side from each fat quarter and have some nice size pieces left over for another project.
Here is the thing, larger napkins are nicer on the lap but take up more fabric and fill the washing machine up faster, so I try to find the right balance between useful for those who will be using them and not too big. As my kids have grown up, our standard napkin size has also grown.
This is a great assembly line style of project - cut a bunch of fabrics and then do each step on the lot before you move to the next step - it is far faster than making one napkin at a time.
Put a front piece on a back piece right sides together. I don't bother to pin this, I just hold them carefully, but pin all around if you prefer.
Sew around all four sides, leaving about 3" unstitched to turn it right side out. I used a 1/4" seam allowance but if you want a larger seam allowance that works too.
Snip off the excess corner fabric, being careful to not snip your corner threads. If you do snip the corner thread, do not despair. Just resew the seam with a larger seam allowance.
Turn the napkin right side out through the hole. Use a pointy thing to make your corners nice but do try not to push your turning implement right through. If you do, turn it back and resew.
Carefully press all round making sure that your seams are fully opened. When you get to the unstitched turning hole, press the seam allowances under so that you cannot notice the spot (well, if you look carefully, you will see my turning spot in this picture, that is good enough). Neatness at this point makes a difference so press it nicely.
Top stitch all around the edge. Make sure that you topstitch with just a little less seam allowance than the inside seam allowance so that you fully close your turning hole with this step. I just eyeball this to about a 1/8" seam allowance.
Press again, stack them up and admire your beautiful napkins.
You can add quilting lines, use quilt blocks, piece in accent fabrics, whatever you like for these too. But in the end, I actually love the simplicity of the basic cloth napkin.
I will try to update you tomorrow with my sewing progress, what little there is.
Monday, December 2, 2013
I went to a baby shower on Saturday. It took place in the electrons of cyberspace, people attended from the ends of the Earth - Canada, New Zealand - and the rest of the earth - USA, the UK - all to celebrate the pending arrival of Sarah's first baby, also known as bean. Sarah, who blogs at Narcoleptic in a Cupboard, also lives at another end of the Earth in the Shetland Isles, and it was fun and amazing to attend a shower for her nonetheless. Her mom took awesome photos for us and she was positively glowing while she opened the presents, so a huge success all round.
I made that infinity scarf for a shower prize, and the lovely Reene from Nellie's Niceties won it. I had this fabric on my shelf for a long time and did not make the scarf, thinking it would be too much work. Wrong. It took 30 minutes, from the start of cutting to the end of hand stitching up the turning hole. I already made one for me and plan some more. These would be excellent quick to make Christmas presents.
Now that Sarah has it, I can tell you that I sent Sarah the Swirling Medallion Quilt. I made it for her last summer and it has been really hard keeping it a secret till now.
A number of folks commented on my napkins and wondered how they wash up. So after they all had been used, I washed and dried them on regular warm and warm settings with my towels. These two photos are straight from the dryer before pressing. You can see there is not much curling and a little draw in from the thread and they came nice and clean - which is not how they went into the washer. Now, I did prewash both the quilter's cottons and the essex linen before I made them, because I wash all my fabric when it arrives, and I would recommend that for napkins.
The back show very little curling on the seams before a press. Since I have become a quilter, I have an ironing board set up all the time and it took only a minute or two to give these a nice press and put them back in the napkin drawer.
A few people mentioned that cloth napkins were a bit posh and I guess that might be one way to look at it. I made the first set when my kids were really little, in an effort to save both money and the environment. My messy kids, and us parents too, needed to use paper napkins, paper towels or tissues at every meal and frankly in those days the cost was an issue.
And I thought this was one of those small things I could do to walk gently upon the earth. My old napkins have lasted 10 - 15 years, although they are now in tatters as they were used daily. I estimate that we have not thrown into the garbage at least 26,000 paper napkins, probably a lot more than that. And fabric napkins are soft and pretty too. Let me know if anyone wants a tutorial to make some for themselves.
Cheryl, from A Dining Room Empire, put out the call for scrappy slab blocks so that quilts could be made and donated to victims of the terrible flooding in Calgary last summer. I sent some blocks and many of you did too. One day I said on her blog that it was too bad I lived so far away (3 hours on the highway) or I could help with the assembly. Smart woman, she called me on it as she was here to teach a quilting class a few weeks ago and so she brought me blocks, batting and backing to complete two quilts .
Working on these quilts, made with blocks from all over the world sent by generous quilters who wanted to send a warm hug to a stranger in need, was really a lovely thing to do. The willingness of communities, including the whole world quilting community, to help those who need help, to bring them the warmth and comfort of a quilt is fantastic.
I finished these two quilts on Saturday night, but for the mending in of ends and a wash, and put a photo on instagram. Well, Cheryl saw it and let me know that she was back in town, so my guy stopped on the way to do an errand and put them in her hands Sunday morning before she left for her home.
Enough news for today, I will show off the mittens I am making next time (you can see Kristie's pair here, and Kelsey's pair here) - it is snowing a great deal today and a very cold snap is on the way, so mittens seemed in order.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
On Sunday, I realized it had been a while since I just finished something. And I had been doing laundry and realized just how shabby our old napkins were. So I got out my stack of prints from Angela Walter's Legacy line and a bunch of Essex linen and cut 10.5" squares.
I sewed the pieces wrong sides together, left a hole to turn through, pressed them and then topstitched around the edge, thus closing the turning hole in that process. Easy.
They are lovely and I am going to make more. Next time I think I will use 14 or 15" squares of fabric, but these are a good size as they are for every day use too.
I am also working to finish off the two slab quilts for Calgary. Cheryl gave me blocks, batting and backs for two quilts. I have pieced the blocks and finished the quilting, so all I have left to do is trimming and binding. It is crazy at my work right now but I am hoping to get these done and on their way back by Friday.
I am also still working on Sunset. You can see the improvement after the ripping out episode. I am just loving the impact of the quilting, so I hope to finish this on the weekend.
That is all I am focusing on this week in the sewing room, I should have more time next week to get back to my long list.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!
Saturday, November 23, 2013
I took that photo this morning. That is the nice pile of thread left from ripping out about 3" of matchstick quilting in Sunset last night. It looks pretty, and I have an awesome seam ripper made by Amy's husband Mark - Amy blogs at During Quiet Time and sometimes lets folks know when Mark has made some more (in fact I just saw one still available in her etsy shop).
Last night I saw nothing pretty in this pile.
After dinner, I started on the second half of the quilting on Sunset, I turned the quilt over to sew from the opposite top to bottom as the first half so that the quilt would be less bulky in the throat of my sewing machine.
But at the end of my allotted hour of matchstick quilting, I took a good look and saw the big stretch in the piecing line caused by the change of direction of the stitching.
This end was even worse, it is the end that had become the top. You can see how the stitching pulled the piecing line down.
I should have looked closely at it sooner. I have even been discussing distortion in piecing caused by matchstickquilting on instagram with a friend so I knew this could happen. But the sewing was peaceful, the threads were pretty and I just didn't stop to look.
After trying to convince myself I did not care, I got out my seam ripper and sliced the stitched on the back, and pulled out the long threads on top. This is what it looks like when you do that.
It does not take that long, in the end, to remove all your evening's work.
And I went to bed happy to know that the stretching was all gone. My plan now is to just stitch over the pieced parts in the same direction as the rest of the quilting to date. Once I am well into the background I will change directions to make room as this quilt is about 48" wide and a lot to stuff into the throat, especially as it gets pretty stiff with all the stitching.
See, all fixed, well it is, even if the photo looks a little curved.
This bump in the road is gone, I will share what happens next. I did end up exactly where I started last night, but I also learned some lessons too, so it was not all wasted time. I hope to have some time tonight to try again.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Despite all your support yesterday for seeing my seemingly never ending quilting on Sunset as she progresses, I found something new to share. I actually made this little 7.5" mug rug in October for the mug rug swap at my Modern Quilt Guild meeting but I forgot to share it here. It is another in the cycles series. The circle is a Kona aqua and the background and binding is Essex Linen.
I used one of my favourite Sweetwater text prints from the Mama Said Sew line on the back and it is matchstick quilted with a variegated blue Superior King Tut thread.
I want to make more of these and also placemats - I think that they would look so modern and crisp on my lovely wooden dining room table. I wonder if I will ever tire of making these bold and stark circles.
And congratulations to Cynthia from Cynthia Brunz Designs, who blogs at Quilting is More Fun that Housework. She is the lucky winner of the layer cake from the Fat Quarter Shop. Thank you to the Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring the give away.
Thank you to everyone who left comments on the giveaway, I enjoyed them all but there were just too many to respond to individually.
I hope you have a great Friday. I can hardly wait for the weekend, when, in addition to a lot of day job work, I can get back to the quilting on Sunset and also finishing my small share - 2 - of the slab quilts for Calgary.