Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Little Forced Introspection

One of my favorite people on the planet is Kim Soper. Kim is a quilt maker and blogger and, over the past few years, has become a dear friend. It was a thrill to be by her side at QuiltCon last year as she won awards for her Lincoln quilt.

Earlier this month, Kim launched a series called the Creativity Project. In it, she interviews makers about why they do what they do. I was honored to take part in this feature recently.

I reaped the benefits of participating as soon as I gave Kim my answers to her questions. A little forced introspection proved to be a worthwhile, orienting activity and was particularly appropriate now, at the start of a new year. Her inquiries into my creative history and process helped me shape priorities on the horizon. Sharing that information with the crafty world at large—really baring my soul in certain regards (eep!)—encourages readers to hold me accountable to do what I say I am going to do.

Two interviews posted before mine, from Melanie Tuazon (Mel in the Attic) and Jessica Skultety (Quilty Habit). Fearing their responses would affect my own, I didn’t read their interviews until mine went live. I thought I’d give both their interviews a cursory read—after all, I had searched my own crafty soul to answer the same set of questions—and was surprised how different their answers were and how their responses further informed my understanding of my own creativity.

To learn more about the Creativity Project, go to Leland Ave Studios. If you’re willing to endure a little introspection yourself (I promise it will be worth your while!), take part in Kim’s anonymous survey about creativity here.

To read what Melanie, Jessica, and I had to say about our own creative endeavors, read the interviews:
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Friday, January 19, 2018

Technique: How I Finger-Press to Save Time

The front and back sides of a piece of patchwork

There are times I find peace in the routine of sewing. Cutting a project out, chain-piecing blocks, and pressing seams can be relaxing and meditative. Other times, I just need to get something done. In those latter cases, I try to cut corners without sacrificing quality.

This simple patchwork was the perfect candidate for a piecing short-cut.

One way to save time is by finger-pressing. When I finger-press a seam, I run my finger along it to open it up and then sew the piece to something else before heading to my ironing board. Not every project is a candidate for this short-cut, but I recently pieced squares to make a back for a table runner. It was a simple project, with manageable 5-inch blocks, so I thought I’d save some time by following these steps ...

Chain-piece the rows. I started by chain-piecing the rows. For me with this particular project, that meant chain-piecing the blocks for one row at a time. I’d sew the 14 blocks into 7 sets of 2 blocks and so on until the row was complete. Once one row was done, I’d start on the next.

Finger-press the seams to join. Then I took two rows that needed to be sewn together and finger-pressed the last inch of the seams to join. I actually used my finger nail to open the seam up—it works better for me. 

Pin and sew. I pinned all of the joins twice—on both sides of each seam—and then sewed the two rows together.

Two pins keep everything lined up for me.

These are the seams before I take them to the ironing board.

Press with the iron. Once all of the rows were sewn together, I took the patchwork to my ironing board. First I ironed all the vertical seams, the ones I had partially finger-pressed. Then I pressed the horizontal seams. After everything was pressed on the back of the piece, I pressed it from the front.
I start pressing the vertical seams.
Spray for good measure. Finally, I turned the patchwork over to the wrong side again, gave it a light spray of Best Press, let that soak into the fabric, and pressed one last time from the wrong side.

Ta da! The finished, perfectly pressed patchwork!
* * *
Some of you may be thinking that the time saver here would have been pressing my seams to the side with an iron. By alternating the direction of seams between rows, I could have nested my seams and skipped pinning. I could have, and so could you, if that’s what works best for you and gives you the results you want. I greatly prefer sewing my seams open; I like quilting over seams that lie as flat as possible.

Admittedly, I don’t rely on this technique all that much; I tend to use it for smaller seams. I specifically remember saving some time with my pin cushion production line by finger-pressing. : )

Do you have any other suggestions for shaving time off of pressing? (You can admit to not pressing unless absolutely necessary!)

More From Bolt to Beauty techniques ...
Linking up to Finish It Up Friday and Needle and Thread Thursday ...
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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Past, Present, Future

Now that the crafty deadlines of November and December have passed, I can do anything I want on my sewing machine. Anything. I could make a bag or finish a WIP. I could start a brand-new quilting project. That should feel empowering, but it feels a little overwhelming and I’m not sure where to start.

I thought I’d participate in Meadow Mist Designs’ Best of 2017 Linky Party as a way to review my sewing accomplishments of the past year and provide myself firmer footing to plan the next few months. (Could this also be a procrastination ploy, avoiding making any concrete decisions about future craftiness by looking at past projects? Why yes, yes it could be.)

Without further ado, here is an overview of From Bolt to Beauty 2017 in five “most” posts ...

Most Trafficked Post

The most popular post of 2017, according to log reports, is actually not from 2017. It’s my Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt post, which was published back in November 2015. I attribute the phenomenon to all the pins and links that point to that post and the allure of a title like Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt. I think of a lot of you are like me, suckers for a thick roll of 2.5-inch strips and attracted to the notion of an easy sew! (My follow-up to that design—my Still Pretty Simple Jelly Roll Quilt tutorial—has been on the back burner for months. It will have its day in the sun sometime in early 2018!)

Most Noteworthy Finish—According to You

My most popular finish, both here on the blog and on my Instagram feed, was Grape Fizz. It’s a showstopping design by Amy Garro that I rendered in shades of eggplant and lavender. I’m not the connoiseur of purple that some of you are, but this design is so bold and graphic in its purple-osity that I can see why it was so well received. To see more pics, including close-ups of Mary Gregory’s quilting, read the post.

Most Noteworthy Finish—According to Me

I love Grape Fizz, but I also really love my Ode to Art Gallery quilt. It was fun to play with all of those different prints and see them come together, with the help of navy plus signs, in a cohesive quilt top. I gifted the quilt just recently, and the recipient was elated. I don’t know much about her design sense, but I felt good about sending it off with her. The quilt is modern but not too modern. It has a lot of some colors and a lot of other colors, as well. It’s pretty and feminine, and I like gifting pretty and feminine quilts to friends who are like me, the lone lady in the house. 

Most Triumphant Sewing Feat

Hands down, the technical sewing I was most proud of this year is all the Y-seams I sewed! These appeared first in my Happy Hexie Baby Quilt. I’ve since sewn more, in a yet-to-be-unveiled project. (To learn more about my approach, see “How I Machine-Piece Hexagons” under the Techniques tab.)

Most Triumphant Quilting Feat

I tried two fancy-for-me quilting techniques this past year, both from Jacquie Gering’s book Walk. The first one, an orange peel design, went well but left a lot of room for improvement. The second, a cross-hatch with a secondary diamond pattern, however, rocked my world. It was a super fun experience with my walking foot and worth every stitch.

Do any of those “mosts” resonate with you? If you have a noteworthy finish or quilting feat or other “most” you’d like to share, the rest of us would like to celebrate with you!

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday and Finish It Up Friday ...

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