Friday, May 4, 2012

Easy I-Spy Scrap Quilt

It's been a long time since I posted something new here, and this twin bed quilt seems like a good project to share.  I had been saving fabrics to make an I spy quilt for my son, and when we ordered his first twin mattress, I needed to make a twin bed quilt quick.  I didn't want to just sew square after plain square of random novelty fabrics; I wanted to do something to unify the quilt.  I am very happy with how this turned out, and I think the primary colored frames around the different I-spy prints work well to unify both the fabrics and the random collection of colorful toys that often litter my son's room!  I looked online a few times and couldn't find a design for an I spy quilt like this, but I finally found something on google images that inspired me.  That was this quilt, at Don't Call Me Betsy, which was the very first quilt she ever made!  It's an easy idea and I decided to use it in order to both unify and speed along the construction of my bed sized quilt, which I needed to sew quickly!

I finished this quilt so quickly that it was done before hubby has even started building the bed!

I used 6 inch squares for the block centers and 3 inch strips to frame them, and then trimmed each block to 11 inches square.  My son chose many of his I-spy fabrics, and some were such large prints that I used a few 11 inch square blocks without borders.  He was insistent about that Thomas the Tank Engine fabric, and this one didn't work well in 6 inch squares.  I used scrap and stash fabrics in primary colors to make the "frames," although for a few squares I used strips of the novelty I spy fabrics, when the print was small enough.

I used 2 of each fabric so he can also look for matches, as he likes matching games a lot right now.  To make this twin quilt takes 35 blocks, in 7 rows of 5, so you need 2 each of 17 different fabrics, one of which you will use 3 times.  To make this quilt harmonious, I stuck with a palette of mostly primary colors in the prints, and enhanced this by using reds, blues, and greens for the framing strips.

This is an easy, quick, I-spy quilt to sew that uses scraps but has a coherent quality that brings the diverse prints together in a fun way.

I am feeling quite quilt-y lately; I just finished a new top which I will quilt soon and I have a lot of quilt ideas swirling in my head, so I hope to make more posts again here soon.  I hope you and yours enjoy a beautiful day today and that you all have a beautiful tomorrow, too!  Happy Sewing!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Instant Consciousness Doubler

from the flickr creative commons free photo pool, by chsh/ii
2006, Akeno, Yamanashi
(please pray for Japan)

I have had it on my heart for some time to include posts here on the topic of personal growth.  This first post on the topic is not my writing, but is an incredibly helpful nugget of wisdom found in the book the Handbook to Higher Consciousness, by Ken Keyes Jr.  I think that you can read this book as a free pdf online and it is well worth your time; this is only a tiny percent of the wisdom shared in this classic book.

Whether you do take the time to read the whole book or not, please read the following excerpt, which is like a shortcut to world peace.  I say this because we will not see world peace until we can all get along in a loving and peaceful manner with our own loved ones and those people we meet on our paths.  Peace be with you today and always!.

-=-The Instant Consciousness Doubler

Most of the time a major expansion of your consciousness requires a lot of continuous inner work, but there is one shortcut through the woods which may be called an Instant Consciousness Doubler.  Since consciousness and Love are synonymous, you might also consider this an Instant Love Doubler.

Here are the directions for making a significant instant expansion of your consciousness:

Expand your Love, your Consciousness, and your loving compassion by experiencing everything that everyone does or says as if you had done or said it.

When you use this Instant Consciousness Doubler, you will bring into play a certain programming in your biocomputer that may not consciously use now in responding to the actions and words of other people.  You are usually aware of some of the inside reasons and feelings that account for what you do.  But when you perceive similar behavior in another person, you usually interpret it with different programming than you use for experiencing your own thoughts and actions.

This leads us into such psychological conjugations as, "I am firm, you are obstinate, he is pigheaded."  "I am frank, you are blunt, he is rude."  "I enjoy my food, you overeat, he is a glutton."  "I occasionally correct people for their own good, you are quite argumentative, he has a terrible temper."  In all of the above situations, the external actions could have been the same, but the programming that you use to interpret the situation is entirely different.

The purpose of the Instant Consciousness Doubler is to remind you to use the same programming in perceiving and interpreting the actions and words of other people that you use in understanding your own actions and words.  If you simply delay your response to each situation long enough to run it through the programming you reserve for yourself, you may find that your ability to understand and love other people will instantly double.  You may be able to simply bypass the old programming and let it gradually wither away from disuse.  You begin to realize that you would probably feel and say the same things that other people are doing and saying if you could just stand in their shoes and see things from their point of view.-=-

reprinted from Handbook to Higher Consciousness, by Ken Keyes, Jr., Fifth Edition, copyright 1975 by the Living Love Center.

 This advice has been so helpful to me in my life and I wanted to share it with you.  I will appreciate any comments letting me know whether this is helpful and if you would like to see more posts on this topic of growth, or if you think this kind of post is out of place here! I hope you have a great day today!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New to Sewing Help: How To Start Sewing on a Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Hi!  I am writing this post to help someone who has acquired a vintage (or "old") Singer sewing machine with no manual and is anxious to start sewing. Others have told her to order her manual.  I agree, reading your manual is the number one first thing to do to start sewing. 

But if you must wait to get your manual, I have taken some pictures which I hope will help you to get started right away.  Because really, the best way to learn to sew is to sew.  And I want you to get started as soon as you can!

Your Singer may be different than mine, of course, but hopefully you might be able to figure out what to do for your machine from seeing how mine (ca. 1960)  is set up.

Step 1: Wind the Bobbin

The first thing to do is to loosen the stop motion screw (so the needle will not go up and down while the motor is winding the bobbin).  You do this by turning the larger disc on the handwheel away from you, while simultaneously turning the smaller wheel towards you. 

Use two hands for this, I am using one in the picture because I needed the other hand for the camera.

Then you will set a spool of thread on the spool pin in the front of the machine, making sure the thread is leaving the spool at the front.  Pull the thread through the tension discs to the right of the spool.  Place an empty bobbin on the bobbin pin, which is on the top right of the machine in front of the handwheel.  Pull the thread up (making sure it is engaged in the tension discs), and bring it through the inside of the bobbin and out through a hole on the left side of the bobbin.

Hold onto the thread tail, and then press the bobbin winder down towards the handwheel.  Then start the machine, using either the foot pedal or the knee pedal, if your machine has one.  Hold onto the thread end until the bobbin has wound around a few times, after which you can stop winding, clip the thread end and keep winding until your bobbin is full. 

Then you will stop the machine, of course, and lift the bobbin winder back up, away from the handwheel.  Cut the thread, and remove the bobbin.  Tighten the stop motion screw by turning it in the opposite direction as before.  That is, turn the larger wheel towards you and the smaller screw/ wheel away from you.

Step 2: Inserting the Bobbin

The way the bobbin fits into the machine is probably the biggest difference between machines, and I don't think that all Singers have a drop in bobbin like mine does.  For this kind, you simply inset the bobbin with the thread leading forward from the left side.  Pull the thread first towards the front and then towards the left to engage it in the slot under the spring.  Pull out a few inches of thread.

The needle is already threaded in that photo; I am about to tell you how to do that!

If your bobbin is not top loading like this one, then you will need to remove the bobbin cover and place the bobbin in that casing, thread it through the slot, and replace the bobbin looks completely different than this!  Hopefully you can see how it is assembled when you unassemble it and then reassemble it again in the right way!  Good luck!

Step 3: Threading the Machine
Turn the power to the machine OFF.
Turn the handwheel towards you to bring the needle to its highest position.  Place a spool of thread on the top spool pin, making sure the thread is unwinding from the front.  Thread it through the first thread guide, at the top of the machine.  Then take the thread down, running it behind the next thread guide, on the front of the machine.  Then thread it between the tension discs and back up, pulling it to engage the little hook

Here is a closer picture to show you how the thread will look when properly engaged and threaded through the tension discs:

You see, it will come up under the tension discs, and then it falls behind the little metal finger and down through the little round hook to the left of the discs...then it goes up and you thread it through the take up lever (see previous photo), which is the metal "eye" you will see sticking out in he front of the top of the machine.

Then the thread heads down towards the needle.  On this machine, the next thread guide is to the left on the outside of the machine.  Then you pull it down and behind the guide at the top of the needle clamp.  Then you will thread the needle and pull the thread under the (raised) presser foot.  You will find the lever for raising and lowering the presser foot on the back of the machine behind the needle.

The thread guides on your machine may be slightly different than mine, though!  You just want to make sure that you pass the thread behind every single guide, because if you miss one you might lose your thread and frustrate yourself.

Step 4: Raising the bobbin thread
Pull several inches of needle thread off to the left of the needle.  Hold onto the end of the thread and turn the handwheel toward you, lowering the needle into the machine, keep turning until the needle comes back up, bringing a loop of bobbin thread up with it as well.  Pull out this loop until you have a few inches of bobbin thread coming out of the machine, pulled towards the left with the needle thread. 

Step 5: Starting to Sew
Place your fabric under the needle, and lower the presser foot.  Turn the handwheel towards you to lower the needle into the fabric. 

Use your left hand to gently guide your fabric. Turn the power to the machine on.
Use your foot or knee pedal to sew a couple of stitches forward, and then sew in reverse to "lock" your stitch.  To do this, just lift the stitch length regulator upwards using your right hand, and hold it a couple seconds to sew in reverse, then press it back down to begin sewing forward again.

 When you reach the end of your seam, sew in reverse for a couple of stitches again to lock the stitch down on that end as well.

And now (I hope) you are sewing!  I hope this helped and good luck! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sew Easy Laptop Sleeve with Pockets and a Free Camera Case Pattern

Hi! I want to show you a couple of easy projects and point you to another fun website, too.

I recently wanted to make a laptop sleeve, but all the patterns I found were missing a feature I wanted, which was large pockets.  I looked around at a lot of cool free patterns available online, and you can find some great ideas by doing this, too.

But there are very nice instructions in the One-Yard Wonders book for a quilted laptop sleeve, and I decided to use these for the measurements of the sleeve portion.  Their project example is made from a darling patchwork print and has the pattern for an adorable doggie applique.  But I wanted to make this project quickly.  So I did not follow their instructions of quilting this, and instead just basted the bag, padding, and lining pieces together around all four sides.  I did this with the serger.  You could also use spray adhesive to attach the three layers together.

To make the pocket, I simply made another 3 layered piece with the same dimensions around, and just a couple of inches shorter than the bag piece.  I simply hemmed the top edge of this piece and then layered the pocket piece on top of the bag before I sewed it together.  Now there is a roomy pocket on both the front and the back of this laptop sleeve that can easily hold a power cable and a jump drive, even an ipod and cable, or whatever you need.  Here it is, with a power cord and battery stuffed in the back pocket:

There is bias binding at the top (opening) edge, and I also used bias tape strips a couple of inches long, sewed closed and attached as loops to the top corners.  Then I added key ring loops.  I was thinking this would be for a strap, but with these dimensions that is awkward.  What would work better if you wanted to make this bag with straps would be to attach them at the top and bottom corners (when you sew the sleeve together), to make it a backpack.  Anyway, the key loops on the edge are handy, after all, for pulling the sleeve in and out of a larger bag or from beneath the couch or something.

Free Camera Case Pattern

I used the scraps from this project to make a bag for my camera.   I found a great free pattern (along with a lot more, too) at AllPeopleQuilt; here is the link.  I did quilt this one.  I also noticed that their case was going to be a good bit big for my camera, and so I modified the measurements accordingly.

You can see a strip of bias binding along the bottom in the back; that's because I decided to make this with a pocket, too, for holding the usb cable and a spare pair of batteries.

I should have used velcro on this pocket, though, as my batteries fell out in my purse when I carried my camera along!  The USB wire fits snugly in here though, so you could skip the velcro, too, but also make smaller battery pockets on the inside or outside of the side panels.  This doesn't need a strap, as you will use the camera strap for carrying it. 

I would love to know if you try one of these projects.  And I will love to make another post soon.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scrap Stash Organization

Hi! I am so happy to say that I finally, FINALLY got my large scrap stash organized.

I prefer not to throw anything out that could be put to good use, and I am thankfully blessed with the good sense to be able to imagine a use for any scrap. But having all my many scraps of all different sizes and shapes and contents stuffed into a big "barrel" pop-up hamper was definitely not working for me!

I have worked so hard on getting and keeping my sewing room clean and organized, and this was the last problem to solve. I want to make art quilts to raise money for Alzheimer's (see the link in my sidebar), but I have been avoiding making any scrap projects because the barrel issue made such a mess. First, let me show how it's all better now:

Here is a picture I took the last time I made a scrap project, to show what a ridiculous mess this scrap storage system would make.  Before I moved the scraps up to the barrel, I used a smaller version of this messy system, a scrap bag or basket.  This has always been a mess and much less than optimally organized!

I love keeping my sewing room clean and organized and I am so glad I finally got this big problem solved!

I searched around on the internet for various scrap management ideas and I stopped to read this post at quiltville, Scrap User's Organization System.  When I sew her system, I thought AHA!

So I decided my baby son really didn't need those plastic drawers in his closet, and that I needed them more!

Here's how I sorted my crazy mess of scraps into a workable order:

The top drawer holds red, orange, yellow, purple, and black and brown quilter's cotton scraps.  I see now that they are not in that order!  I was working quickly to get this done.  It took me a full day and a half to do this project, by the way.

I have a lot of blue and green cotton scraps, as these are my favorite colors- so they each got a bin.  The pink bin holds both pink scraps, and also pink pieces that are as big as a full yard.  The smaller bins hold small scraps of felt and silk.  I don't actually keep the bins on top of the drawer unit, but rather stash them neatly beneath my sewing table, which is well within arms length.  I can pull them out and put them on top when I need to work with them.

This middle drawer holds "crumbs:"  These are little small scraps to be used for string piecing and such.  The maximum size for the Alzheimer's Art Quilts is, I think, 10 by 12 inches, so I know I will be able to make something using even the smallest crumbs.  These small scraps are confined using a white open bin, so that this drawer can also hold muslin and batting scraps that can be used in making these small quilts or other little scrap projects (such as my favorite scrap project, soft crazy quilted color books for baby)..

This bottom drawer holds scraps from sheets I have already cut, a bag of plaid scraps, and a ziploc with denim and corduroy scraps, as well as some patterned white and light neutral quilter's cottons.  So it is kindof a miscellaneous drawer.

I had a lot of scrap knits, but no good bin to fit them; this reusable bag is the perfect size.  So for now, the knit scraps are in here, stashed under the sewing table next to the bins.

There is a couple more categories of scraps that I save.  One is the "stuffing scraps."  I stuff tiny pieces, even thread chains and serger trimmings, and small batting scraps, etc, into a drawstring garbage bag, which I use for stuffing things like pillows and toys.  Someone recently gave me an antique wardrobe which I am using as my "sewing room closet," although it doesn't fit in the sewing room and is at the end of our hall instead.  That "closet" holds the bag of stuffing scraps, a bag of larger felt scraps, and also some sheets I haven't cut yet, interfacings, and some other things.

I also have two large shoebox bins, one holds apparel fabric scraps for making Barbie doll clothes, and the other has novelty scraps, which I am collecting to make an I-spy/ Alphabet quilt sometime soon.

The last step to make this system workable is one more basket, empty now.  This is also stashed under my sewing table and I can use this to store daily scraps in for quick daily cleaning of my mess, and then sort these away every week or month or whenever.

It can be a good, useful, and productive thing to save and use lots of scraps, but this will work out MUCH better and be easier to do when the stash is workably organized.  Towards that end,  I hope this post is helpful!

Have a great day!