Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts

Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts
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Friday, January 31, 2014

Quilting Fabric Stashes

I have been quilting since I was in 8th grade or since 1967 however you might want to look at it. My first quilt to me was beautiful but as a quilt it was a disaster. The squares weren't the same size, the seams weren't the same size and many times I sewed the seams with a basting stitch. Big oops! When it came to the fabric for this quilt, I went the old fashioned route. I dove into my mother's leftover scraps 'bag'. I didn't know a single thing about making a quilt other than what little I may have gleaned from reading Laura Ingall's Little House on the Prairie book series. So being ignorant I used any and all fabrics that I found, trying to get enough for a decent sized quilt. This meant that some old leftover green, ugly upholstery fabric was paired up with fragile summer fabrics. 100% cottons were mixed with polyester blends. I didn't finish the quilt until 12th grade and was able to take it away with me to college. It may have been a weird quilt, but from what I had to work with, I feel like for a supposedly unartistic person, the color sense and design was there. I loved that quilt and it cheered me tremendously to see it and use it. Eventually sometime after my first son Ron was born it disintegrated. I can only date it back to Ron as I have a picture of him sitting on it, but never had one of Steve near it. I threw it away and have regretted it ever since. However, what I did do was the leftover blocks were saved in my sewing stuff which amazingly used to fit in a green plastic carrying case that enclosed my quilting, embroidery and mending tools. but I suppose I was ahead of most girls at college who didn't even have a sewing needle with them! One day I found those old blocks and picked them apart, cut them to exact squares and sewed them back together again, getting rid of the green upholstery fabric and and the super thin polyester fabric. One of the prints was leftover from the first dress I ever made myself. hose blocks are still waiting for the perfect project for them.

I missed being in the USA for most of the bicentennial year of 1976 as I went to college in Canada and got to go to Colombia during my summer break. So I missed the start of the ongoing quilting craze and the fabrics that came into being during that point in time in the USA. My second quilt was yet again made out of scrounged fabric. Then I found Eleanor Burn's Log Cabin in a Day book. I had to make one and for the first time in my life I went out and bought quilting fabric to make a quilt. Of course there were leftovers and also the quilting bug really bit at that point or was it the accumulation of quilting fabric bug? Anyhow I bought fabric. I made quilts. I bought more fabric. People found out I quilted and was into other sewing expressions as well, so I was given 'gifts' of their fabric and tools that they no longer wanted. Yard sales started having quilting fabric and sewing notions for sale and I bought as I had funds. Then our wonderful thrift store opened and I bought more fabric. I was given more fabric. Now I have enough fabric to make projects for the next several hundred years! Yet I still don't understand the immense amount of books that are geared to getting rid of your stash. Why would I want to do that???

In the last little while, I realized that the lap quilt I used in my sitting spot in the living room had bit the dust and was full of tears and stains and needed to be replaced. So I'm borrowing a lap quilt I made for Hubby while I  am getting inspired  and start to make a new lap quilt. One of the first things I did was to scrounge through all the pre-made blocks I've been making and storing for years. Maybe you know what I mean. You finish a quilt project and you have some pieces leftover that make up a nice block and so you sew it together and then set it aside as you don't have anything to go with it. As I dug deeper into into my box of UFOs I found one piece where I had sewn four blocks together and then put the project away as it didn't look right. The blocks weren't all the same sizes so it wasn't going to work in the way I had planned at first so it was put away. So tonight I sat down to do one of my most unfavorite sewing projects--unsewing. Picked out two of the blocks that I thought would go with the other pieces of the lap quilt I want to make. Unsewing gives you time to think and I started to realize how long ago I had made the blocks (20+ years) and the type of fabric I had used. All were small prints or tiny dots. While they all coordinated, they sure don't look like the kind of fabrics that I use now. I love big flowery prints with coordinating fabrics (not necessarily from the same manufacturer) and have plenty of them stashed away.

Your favorite types of quilt prints/designs is the main reason to build up your stash with the kind of fabrics you like and enjoy using. I have plenty of fabric at this point as I have mentioned. I'm not a modern art quilter. I really don't like the huge geometric prints, nor many of the colors that are current today. So I'm not inclined to feel like I have to buy ANY fabric at this point (it helps to not have the money to be buying more fabric LOL!). I have plenty of my kind of fabric so I don't HAVE to buy more fabric. It isn't like I'm going to ever run out. When I do get a chance to buy quilting fabric at our thrift store, I will generally pick it up no matter what it looks like as they sell for 25-50 cents a yard! You can't pass that up that kind of bargain and I have found that bringing some kind of new fabric into my sewing room helps with inspiring me.

Quilting, embroidery and sewing are such wonderful creative hobbies to have. Even when my arthritis has gotten me down so that I can't do much of anything physical, I can still read books and magazines about the needle arts.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Making Hexagons for Quilting and Crafting Part 2

After posting my last entry earlier today, on making hexagons using the Fiskars hexagon punch, I decided to see how much bigger paper template you would need to be able to combine them with hexagons cut from 2 1/2" strip templates (mine is from Fons & Porter). Well, what a surprise at how close they are! The photo above is actually green batik cut from a 2 1/2" strip and then I ironed a freezer paper template punched out with the X-Large hexagon punch on to it. It is a tad smaller than it could be by 1/16 - 1/8". As long as you don't flip back and forth between punched templates and traced templates, you should end up with the same size basted hexagons and they would work up together with no problems. On a really huge project, you might lose an inch or two, but with smaller projects the slight difference in size won't make me go back to tracing or cutting paper templates out individually.

Making Hexagons for Quilting and Crafting

Since taking the Craftsy 2012 BOM class, I have been fascinated with hexagons and have spent plenty of evenings basting them with the thoughts of someday making something special with them. One difficult thing for me however, is cutting out all the paper templates so my fabric wraps around it and sews up accurately. One night hubby was surfing the internet and found these and told me to go ahead and try them. They are Fiskars Hexagon Punch tool. Currently they come in three sizes; Medium 159070-1001  0.50" on each side, Large 159080-1001  0.75" on each side and Extra Large 159090-1001 1" on each side. Maybe if enough quilters like them we could encourage Fiskars to make them in some even larger sizes as well. Currently Fiskars  promotes them as crafting/scrapbook notions.

When I make hexagons I use freezer paper to make the paper template, iron it waxy side down to the wrong side of the fabric and then cut them out leaving a 1/4" seam allowance on each side. You can trace your own sizes on the freezer paper out of the roll that is sold at the grocery store or from freezer paper that is made to go through the printer so that the template will be printed out for you and then all you have to do is cut them out and then iron them onto fabric etc. It is the tracing of the template and cutting them out that becomes difficult for everyone I am sure, and especially difficult for those of us with arthritis in our hands.

When I got the Large and X-Large punches in the mail the other day, I set out to see how they worked and if they would make nice and exact templates. I ended up with a minimal amount of 'hanging chads' on two of the sides, but each side was precisely cut (or bent--those sides with the chads) and the 'chads' could be worked around. Then hubby got involved and discovered that if you put freezer paper doubled over with the two waxy sides together, you would get a nice clean punch out with no 'chads' and to top it off you would get two punches for the work of one! I also tried to see if the punch would cut through fabric, but it didn't and it had not been advertised saying it would be. While the punch itself  felt somewhat heavy and sturdy in my hands, it was easy to squeeze the punch and have the templates pop out.

These punches will really move along my hexagon making as it cuts out so much wasted time. If, like me, you use freezer paper as a stabilizer for other projects, leftover bits can be punched to make templates from the odd sizes, thus eliminating waste. I had a spare minute last night and a leftover piece of freezer paper just begging to be put to good use and in that minute, I had about 12 templates punched out! It would have taken a lot more time than that to cut them out manually.

The only problem with these punches is they don't go up to large enough sizes. While there are several different acrylic templates for cutting 2 1/2" strips into hexagon fabric pieces, you still have to cut out a paper template, so a punch that handles that size of template would be fantastic. If you like these punches write to Fiskars and encourage them to make larger sizes. How will companies know what we want unless we tell them? I bought my punches on line and they can easily be found. Do price comparisons to see if you can get a bargain (as they are all made by Fiskars). I found mine for almost half off.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

An Embroidery Pattern Book

The joys of Pinterest and the internet. Last night while seeing some of the newest pins coming my way, I saw a pin for an old book called, An Embroidery Pattern Book  Today I checked it's source out to find it is part of the Open Library and I could have a copy of the book sent for FREE to my Kindle. I saw some of the pictures before downloading it and I think that anyone who does hand embroidery and those who digitize their own designs might see and receive some interesting ideas for their work.

You can find the book Here.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Life is {Sew} Daily: {Sewing Basics}

Life is {Sew} Daily: {Sewing Basics}: Sewing Kit Essentials How to Thread a Sewing Machine How to Make a Sash How to Make Cording/Piping How to Install a Zipper - ...  Check out this blog where you can learn all sorts of sewing techniques and other aspects of running a home by a Home Economics teacher.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Wonderbag Portable Slow Cooker

Once in awhile I see something that I would like to share, that doesn't fit in with this sewing blog or my reading blog so I usually skip it. Today however, I just saw something unique that readers might be interested in checking out and felt compelled to share. It is called the Wonderbag Portable Slow Cooker .  This reminds me of the things that they talked about with the Y2K scare as a way to cook without using precious fuel.

Basically  you chop your food up, bring it up to boiling and then put it in this Wonderbag, and it continues to cook for hours in an insulated bag that retains the heat from the initial bringing the contains up to boiling. Other that the stove to bring the food to the temperature for cooking, it uses no fuel, no electric plugs, nothing. Greatly economical to use.

The most interesting part of all this, I thought, is if you buy one for yourself another is donated to a family in Africa so that they can use it for cooking and thus save precious and expensive wood for cooking. When I see on PBS specials what many African women go through daily to gather fuel, water and prep food, this would be more marvelous than anything they could imagine. My heart for several years now has gone out to third world women and their need to help support their families. Ten per cent of  the profits from out store, Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts, goes to help women learn to sew and make crafts and be able to support their families other than by prostitution. I also collect embroidery supplies that I pass on to a missionary friend in the Congo that helps women in her area learn to embroider so they can sell their creations, also yet again to learn that they do have skills and talents above prostitution. This Wonderbag is yet another way for these women to support themselves and ease their financial situation.

I urge you to check this out, research it, ask questions of those who have bought one (I haven't, I only just saw it advertised a few minutes ago) and see if this is something you would like to have and use to also help support women in Africa. Crafting provides a world wide bond among women, and what better way to show your additional support for your sisters around the world than to help ease their financial burdens?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Hexies - Betcha can't make just one!

I had always looked at hexagon quilting projects as something that would be horribly difficult to do. Then I took a Craftsy class in 2013 that involved making two blocks using hexagons. I couldn't believe how easy they were. Soon my Pinterest>Quilting>Hexagons was getting fuller and fuller. First with hexagon quilts both antique and vintage, then variations on a theme with some of the hexagons being used were pieced themselves, and then seeing embroidered hexagons, and all sorts of interesting creations. I find them fascinating. I want to make a hexagon something. I want to use my silk ties from the thrift shop in a hexie quilt or wall-hanging.

One of the things that I have always done with my quilting is when I'm done with a project, the leftovers are cut into set sizes so it is easier to make quicky quilts. I sat down to clean up my latest sewing 'mess' and realized that some scraps that aren't big enough for my pre-cuts are still big enough to make a hexagon out of it. So the other night, I cut up a bunch of scraps into hexagons and sat down and started hand sewing them. I couldn't stop. Remember the old Lays potato chip jingle - betcha can't eat just one. Well that is what it feels like when I start sewing hexagons! I had made 20 in three different sizes before I forced myself to quit so I would be able to use my hands the next day (the downside to rheumatoid arthritis).

I especially love the looks of hexagons with embroidery and the ones with a binding around them looks interesting as well. I have found several websites that they tell how they are made, at least I assume so. The sites are all in French and it has been a very long time since High School French class. Anyone out there know some good books that I could use for a reference? I'm also trying to find one or two basic hexagon quilting books, Any one with a good recommendation? I'm thinking of these ones.