Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Mini Link

The ScrapTherapy Mini Scrap Grid was developed to make "99 Bottles," the cover quilt from ScrapTherapy, Scraps Plus One! With all those tiny 9-patches in the quilt (492, to be exact), it seems appropriate to have an easier, more stable way to assemble them. Perhaps you're already familiar with the ScrapTherapy Small Scrap Grid or regular watercolor grid. It's printed, fusible interfacing!

Fuse small pieces of fabric to the interfacing, following the printed grid for fabric placement, then fold on the lines and sew the seam allowances. The interfacing stabilizes the small scraps so the sewing is easier and more efficient.

The Mini Scrap Grid is too wonderful to be reserved only for 99 Bottles! A new pattern, the ScrapTherapy Mini Mug Mat (pictured below) is now in stock and ready for you to make! And more patterns featuring the Mini Scrap Grid are in the works. Since the 9-patch is so versatile, the possibilities are endless and the interfacing isn't just restricted to ScrapTherapy projects! So much fun! And so much fun to use!

Although it looks a lot like regular watercolor grid interfacing, the Mini Scrap Grid is a specific tool with a specific job--to make 9-patch blocks that finish to 1-1/2” square. 9-patches, that’s it. Nothing else!

The interfacing, which is printed by Quiltsmart, comes by the panel. Each panel has enough interfacing to make 54 miniature 9-patches. The bigger the project, the more panels you need, of course! Instructions are printed right on the interfacing panel, but I took things a step further and created a tutorial that lives on the website--under the tab "Freebies and Fun Stuff"--this is definitely "Fun Stuff!"

Jump over to the website to read more, or here are some highlights:

Arrange the scraps. As you place the scrap squares, don't look at the interfacing section as one big 9 by 9 postage stamp block. Look at each little mini 9-patch section as a block by itself. You might have similar fabrics next to each other from 9-patch to 9-patch, but that's okay since they'll be cut apart before they're sewn into the project. Fuse with a medium-hot dry iron with a lift-and-press motion.

Fold on the first dotted line and secure the fold with pins. Then sew on the solid line.

Keep folding, pinning, and sewing until all horizontal seams are sewn.

Clip the seams at the cross hairs.

Rotate the piece 90˚ and fold again on the first dotted line, perpendicular to the existing seams. Oppose the seams. Secure with pins, and sew.

Once all the seams are sewn, cut on the dot-dash lines with a rotary cutter or with scissors. . .

. . . Press each individual 9-patch and trim.

Now, sew the 9-patch into your project(s)!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Joyful Field Trip

For the last several years on a weekend in early March, a small group of quilty friends and I head to Watkins Glen, New York for a long weekend. We say at the Inn Upstairs, right above O'Susannah's Quilts and Gifts. We combine cooking in and eating out, along with venturing out to shop on the main street right in town. Mostly we bring lots of quilty unfinished projects to work on.

And sometimes we experience something a little different. This time it was a field trip to Joyful Adornments just down the road in Odessa, New York to learn a little about making glass beads and buttons.

Bonnie, our hostess and owner of Joyful Adornments welcomed us into her studio. We opted to keep her in the driver seat as she made each of us a personalized glass bead to our individual specifications.

Before we got into the bead-making, Bonnie started by showing us how she makes a glass button--perfect to complete your next quilted bag, I might add. In fact, I used one of Bonnie's glass buttons on the Scrap Top Bag that is shown on the cover of ScrapTherapy, Scraps Plus One!

The button is built from the inside out using a special two-pronged holder. The glass is heated to liquid stage - like 3000˚ hot, then it's applied to the button one layer at a time. The silver tube in the background pulls the toxins out of the air in the enclosed studio space.

Here, Bonnie is showing us how to add a pencil-thin detail to a bead.

That bright gob of hot glass in the center is coming off the stick of blue-colored glass. Once the bead is finished, it's put in a kiln so it can cool down slowly without cracking. We had to wait overnight to get our beads when they cooled.

You know the little triangle-shaped dog-ears you cut off your half-square triangle seam allowance (maybe you don't cut them off, but I do!)?  Anyway, these little bits of colorful glass are sorta like that. They are the leftover scrap bits of glass. Aren't they cute?

Of course, every good tour ends in the gift shop. Following our up-close experience, we couldn't go home without a little souvenir, now could we?

Oooh! Bling-bling!

More Oooh! Irresistible!

Back at the Inn Upstairs, Marcia completed her quilt top. Ripple Effect, I believe the pattern is called.

Beth had a bunch of projects in the works.

Melonie created a window display of her booty from the weekend's gifts, gadgets, and finds.

Since Wenda couldn't join us this time due to illness, Petunia Pig sat in at the sewing machine. She didn't get much done and she wasn't much for gossip. However, she did a nice job watching over the bead stash!

And the group shot. Bottom row: Janine, Melonie, Marcia. Top row: Beth, and Bonnie the bead wizard. Petunia photo-bombed at the last minute.

Don't you just love quilty retreats?

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

That Label

I thought it might be fun to share some of my not-so-secret, but am-I-the-only-one-who-does-this? quilty techniques with you in a semi-regular series. Not formal, nothing scientific. No deadlines. Just stuff that I do that might be a little out of the ordinary.

To begin, we'll start at the end. The very last bit of making a quilt. The label. For me, it's just about the last step in the process. Once the quilt is quilted and bound, it's time to add a label. At least for me. I know some people sew the label to the quilt back before making the quilt sandwich, that way the label is secured by the quilting stitches. I'm not one of those people. I can imagine, if I did, my label would end up all wonky, out of alignment with the edge of the quilt. And I'm too tidy-butt for that.

I usually make the label from one of the leftover blocks or I highlight an element of the pieced quilt top, and I write the pertinent data on the label with a permanent fabric marker. I then fold the raw edges of the label under about 1/4" and pin it onto the quilt backing, typically on the lower right of the quilt back. Once it's pinned, I then use a slip stitch to secure the folded edge of the label to the quilt backing. None of that is so unusual.

Sometimes my labels can get pretty big. So, a few years back, I thought that with time and wear, it wouldn't take much for that slip stitch to break and unravel, leaving a nameless, orphan quilt with no history. So sad.

To avoid this tragic state of affairs, I started highlighting the quilt label with a running stitch using peal cotton, in a coordinating color. I make the running stitches only through the label and the backing, not all the way through the quilt sandwich. See the stitching just inside the seam of the on-point square on this label?

Some labels get a little more attention. Like this one for Miracle Max a quilt from ScrapTherapy, Scraps Plus One! The cross stitch pattern is from a book called Two Hour Cross Stitch Flowers.

Here's another label from a pattern from Scraps Plus One! This time I added some embroidery following a design from the Quilt Label Collective. See the running stitch along the edge of the yellow border?

There it is again on the label for 99 Bottles, another pattern in Scraps Plus One! Just inside the inner blue border.

Ya know, the label doesn't have to be 'over the top' to earn a bit of running stitch embellishment. In fact, the more plain the label the more it can use that little extra something.

So the running stitch adds a little bit of personality to the label and serves a purpose--that one little added security that will help the quilt maintain its identity!

Do you do something like this to your quilt labels to add a decorative touch and a bit more stability? Better question: Do you add a label to your finished quilt?

Happy Stitching!