Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What to Do with a Free Fat Quarter

My local quilt shop offers a fun way to win a fat quarter. Hidden within a handful of the store’s bolts are petal-shaped pieces of fabric. If you’re at the cutting table and one of the petals falls out of a bolt you’re buying from, you get to pick a free fat quarter. The funny thing is, you could already be buying lots of amazing fabric, but somehow the prospect of the fat quarter is extra exciting. After all, it’s free, and you get to pick whichever one you want! I’ve encountered a petal just once in my years of shopping there, and I think I spent more time laboring over which fat quarter to choose than I did the many other fabric decisions I made that day.

I didn’t want to pick something practical, though. I wanted something different from my innate fabric tendencies. So I chose Lush Foliage, from Pat Bravo’s Hyperreal Garden line for Art Gallery Fabrics.

That fabric provided the inspiration for the palette behind my latest project, a clam shell journal cover.

This is my first stab at a clam shell anything and my first project for the Curves Class I’m taking at Stitched in Color. I used Steam-A-Seam 2, because I had some on hand, to adhere the clam shells to the background fabric and then top-stitched the clam shells.

The class project was actually a pillow, but Curly and Moe (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent) are hell-bent on destroying the pillows in our house, so any pillow—let alone one with raw-edge applique—has a limited shelf life. The journal cover was a more practical option for me.

I don’t know what it is about me and purple these days. I’ve been using it a lot (here and here), in part because I had a few yards of a purple fabric from Amy Butler’s Love line and in part because the purples I’ve been encountering are especially lovely—more eggplant and plum than everyday purple. I chose fabric from Lizzy House, Tula Pink, and Robert Kaufman’s Quilter’s Linen line to flesh out my collection of clam shells.

Fellow Curves classmates: If you’re interested, I used this journal tutorial, also from Stitched in Color, to transform my clam shells into a cover. I started with 18 clam shells and used a background that was larger than the square for the pillow project. Once the clam shells were securely stitched, I cut that fabric down and used more Hyperreal Garden to make my fabric rectangle the size specified in the tutorial. (Between the clam shells and those extra pieces, I used almost the entire fat quarter. You can see some of that added fabric in the picture of the journal back, below.) The Steam-A-Seam 2 did add some bulk to the seams but not so much that I would do a second cover differently.

What are your experiences with clam shells? I enjoyed this project; the raw-edge applique was nice and easy. If I did another clam shell project, what would you recommend?

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Keep Calm Craft On, Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, and Finish It Up Friday ...

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday

Welcome! If you’re new around these parts, I’m Michelle and you’ve landed at From Bolt to Beauty, where I chronicle my triumphs (and tribulations) at my sewing machine.

I sew—bags, pouches, pillows, curtains, you name it. I quilt—big projects, little projects, and everything in between. Sometimes I even play with felt or paper.

This week’s finish is another Sew Together Bag. My first one, a Christmas gift for my mom, was my last big finish of 2014. It was a lot easier than I imagined it would be. The zippers—all four of them—were a breeze. (Don’t believe me? Check out my review of the pattern.) Still riding the satisfaction of that finish, it was time for another Sew Together Bag, for me ...

My latest one features Anna Maria Horner’s Loulouthi line on the exterior and Lizzy House and Tula Pink prints on the inside. Everything is trimmed with Quilter’s Linen in garnet. My 10-year-old self would have been heartbroken to hear that I’m not a fan of rainbow quilts, but I would have redeemed myself with the purple and pink interior of this bag.

Would you believe that this latest iteration was harder for me than the original one? I had higher expectations this go-round. The first time, I was preoccupied with the zippers, and that part went smoothly. This time I was hoping to reduce the puckering I experienced on the sides and to bind the bag more neatly. I had some success on those fronts.

For instance, check out the stitching under the binding. It completely blends into the zipper, and I love that! I have seen other quilters sew binding to a quilt top, wrap around to the back, and sew from the back, using bobbin thread that matches the front. The method worked especially well here with the burgundy zipper and thread. Now that I’ve experimented with it, I’d consider binding a quilt that way, too.

Bags #3 and #4 are already in process. I need a little break from Sew Together Bags, but I look forward to finishing them up with slender sides and beautiful binding.

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday and Bag Brag Tuesday ...

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So what have you been up to the past week? If this is your first time at TGIFF, the rules are simple:

•    Post your finish in the linky tool.
•    Point your readers back to TGIFF with a text link or button. (You’re welcome to swipe the TGIFF image above.)
•    Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Place to Lay My Head

I am a high-maintenance sleeper. For me, a good night of sleep requires a regular bedtime, a cool temperature in my bedroom, four pillows, multiple blankets, blackout shades, and a box fan for white noise. Maybe that doesn’t sound too outrageous to you, but I have thought on more than one occasion, as I smuggled a box fan into yet another hotel or B&B, that this can’t be normal. (Chelsea, I bet you’re super excited to room with me at the guild retreat now!)

One thing I am not high-maintenance about is my sheets. We sleep in white sheets at my house. They’re easier than patterned sheets—they don’t fade, and if you mix and match two different white sheet sets, no one notices.

Lately, however, my white pillowcases have started to show their wear. It seems silly to purchase new ones when I have plenty of fabric on hand. And you know what? I’d like to lay my head on some Free Market Fancy at night!

I found instructions for Guest Pillowcases in my copy of Weekend Sewing, by Heather Ross. She constructs the cases in an interesting way, so I thought I’d give her method a try.

What started out as one Free Market Fancy pillowcase for myself ...

Grew into a set of three ...

Plus two for some little girls who like to lay their heads on pink ...

I know what you’re thinking, and your right: This is another small project to work on so I can avoid all the quilt tops that are piling up. It’s true. And my new machine—a Janome 1600P, purchased to be a piecing and quilting workhorse—has not been used. Of course, the first time I tried to use it, I did Something Very Bad to it. (The smell of melting plastic was a dead giveaway!) This was not a manufacturing problem; it was a me-being-a-bonehead problem. I’ve since remedied the situation—too horrified to go back to the dealer and confess my boneheadedness, I purchased a new foot pedal online—but between that incident and all the quilting waiting for me on the horizon, I’m feeling a bit timid!

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday, Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Finish It Up Friday ...

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