Adventures in the life of a gorram nerd

Archive for the ‘How to’ Category

Sewing strips and tricks

I’m making some great progress on the wedding quilt blocks. I started by cutting all of the fabric into 2.5″ strips (which are approximately 40″ long). 2.5″ strips are one of my favorite things to work with since they give you so many possibilities of what you can do. In most (all?) cases, I make strip sets where I sew a certain number of strips together a specific way and then subcut for my pattern. Today, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks for sewing accurate strip sets.

For the wedding quilt, I ended up with 20 inner-beige and 40 outer-color strips. The way that I’m making the block is to sew the strips together and then subcut to get the actual 6.5″ blocks. This is a faster and more accurate way to build the blocks than to cut all of the pieces at 2.5″ x 6.5″ and then sew them together.

Pastel wedding color palette pink brown tan wedding quilt guest book quilt layout Inkscape Rail Fence signature block blocks photo fabric Pacific Fabrics Dots Zig Zag Flowers

When you’re sewing fabric, because of how it feeds into the machine, the top piece gets stretched and pushed back just a little while the bottom is pulled through just a little so things don’t exactly line up the way you had originally had them. This can actually be handy if you have two pieces where one is slightly longer than the other – put the shorter one on top. If they’re more than slightly off, then you may want to recut (do as I say, not as I do…). For my Bernina, I have a walking foot which is great to avoid the stretching problem for sewing on binding but I don’t like using it for piecing. I exclusively use my #37 1/4″ foot for all of my sewing, which is a foot that is 1/4″ wide from the center to the outer edge. Since the goal is to sew a 1/4″ seam, then you try to have the fabric lining up with the edge of the foot and you should get a 1/4″ seam.

Bernina Baby Lock Singer Pfaff Sewing foot 1/4" foot Quarter inch foot #37 37 #57 57 walking foot strip piecing tips and tricks

For strips or any time I’m not sewing over pins, I use my Bernina #57 foot. It’s a 1/4″ foot with a guide to block the fabric when it hits the 1/4″ mark. This makes it so easy to sew long strips since you don’t have to pay quite as much attention to ensure that your seam is 1/4″.

Another trick is to sew the strips from opposite sides. If you’re sewing always from the right, then what ends up happening is you get a bit of stretched out fabric when you get to the left times however many seams you’re doing. So, rather, alternate the direction that you’re sewing from. This mitigates the stretch so it doesn’t all end up on one side.

Pastel wedding color palette pink brown tan wedding quilt guest book quilt layout Inkscape Rail Fence signature block blocks photo fabric Pacific Fabrics Dots Zig Zag Flowers strip set sewing strips 2.5" 2.5 inch strip strips tricks tips

Feel free to share any of your tips and tricks in the comment section!

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Christmas ornaments – Tutorial

Recently, I was invited to a white elephant exchange. For those who haven’t done one, you bring a gift and it can be nice, weird, random junk, etc then everyone picks numbers and chooses a gift. Later numbers can steal from earlier numbers. I like bringing nice or weird gifts, rather than junk, and I wanted to make something. I knew that the participants were all big Seahawks fans so I started googling around for ornament tutorials. I found this wonderful YouTube tutorial that showed how to take a clear ornament and glue an image on the outside. It seemed easy enough, so I bought some supplies and made a test ornament.

I bought clear glass balls in 2 sizes (2 5/8″ and 3 1/4″) as well as plastic ones (2 5/8″) that snap in half. I could see pros and cons for both types so I wanted to get both to play with. For my white elephant ornament, I used a glass 2 5/8″ ball.

I also purchased Skittles and Jelly Beans to fill the ornaments with. One of the key players on the Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch, loves Skittles, so Skittles is sort of the unofficial candy of the Seahawks. I’m also making ornaments for my office and jelly beans are our official office snack during non-football season (Skittles during football season, of course… gotta support the Seahawks!)

Glass plastic acrylic ornament ornaments Christmas DIY tutorial how to make an ornament Seahawks Skittles Mod Podge Doctor Who Galaga Marshawn Lynch blue green ribbon Jelly beans Jelly Belly

Additional supplies: Mod Podge glue, paint brush, and ribbon for the top of the ornaments.

Glass plastic acrylic ornament ornaments Christmas DIY tutorial how to make an ornament Seahawks Skittles Mod Podge Doctor Who Galaga Marshawn Lynch blue green ribbon

Step 1) Print out the decals that you are going to use. In the YouTube video, the gal uses an old Seahawks program. I didn’t have one of those lying around. The left is the Seahawks logo. Then the top is the Dalek and Tardis from Doctor Who, the ship from the video game Galaga which my boss and I are fiercely competitive at (though I have the top 3 high scores right now… just saying), and then the bottom right is my office logo.

Glass plastic acrylic ornament ornaments Christmas DIY tutorial how to make an ornament Seahawks Skittles Mod Podge Doctor Who Galaga Marshawn Lynch blue green ribbon

2) Cut out the decals

Glass plastic acrylic ornament ornaments Christmas DIY tutorial how to make an ornament Seahawks Skittles Mod Podge Doctor Who Galaga Marshawn Lynch blue green ribbon

3) Take out the top of the ornament. Fill however far you want with whatever you want.

Reject Skittles

Glass plastic acrylic ornament ornaments Christmas DIY tutorial how to make an ornament Seahawks Skittles Mod Podge Doctor Who Galaga Marshawn Lynch

4) Using the paintbrush, brush a small ring at the top of the ornament and glue in the top piece. Then brush a light layer where you are going to glue the decal.

(Sorry, no picture. iPhone plus gluey fingers plus an unsealed ornament seemed like a horrible idea)

5) Lay the decal onto the ornament. Brush another layer of glue on top. *Important* Have an idea of where you’re going to set this to dry. Oops… I frantically grabbed my tea ball holder.

Glass plastic acrylic ornament ornaments Christmas DIY tutorial how to make an ornament Seahawks Skittles Mod Podge Doctor Who Galaga Marshawn Lynch blue green ribbon

6) Let the ornament dry.

Glass plastic acrylic ornament ornaments Christmas DIY tutorial how to make an ornament Seahawks Skittles Mod Podge Doctor Who Galaga Marshawn Lynch blue green ribbon

7) After it’s dry, tie the ribbons on the top to make it look nice and pretty. I forgot to get a picture of the final ornament before it went to its new home … next ones, I will make sure to get pictures.

For my next batch, I plan to put the logos higher. I also had a few creases in the paper. But overall, I am thrilled with how it came out. Though I didn’t anticipate the lack of crafty people at the gift exchange and had to explain that you don’t crack it open Easter egg style to get the Skittles out. Or throw it at people as a Skittle/glass bomb. Luckily the gal who took it home understood what not to do.

Tetris – applique letters (pt 1)

Moving onto the top of the Tetris quilt, it’s going to say “shit happens”. To do this, I’m going to cut out the letters with fusible web and glue/sew them onto the black background.

To start with, I get fusible web (meaning both sides are meltable glue) and section it off into 4″ squares, so my letters will be consistent.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Each square is cut out and then each letter is drawn into the square. The important thing here is for each letter to be the mirror of itself. The fusible will be on the back of the letter, so it and the sketch, need to be reversed. I also want to keep each leg and such of the letter as uniform as possible.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Once the 11 letters are made, then I put these onto the white (letter) fabric and lightly iron it to stick the fusible onto the wrong side of the fabric. The layout and orientation of the letters doesn’t matter here, but sorry to any OCD people.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Once the fabric cools, I cut out each letter and, voila, I have letters ready to fuse. Next, I will lay them out on the black background piece, peel of the backs, and iron, and later stitch, them down.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web