Monday, 27 October 2014

Sewing Machines Blocks For my Bee Mates

I am Queen Bee this November.  This is my first year participating in an online bee.  Throughout the year, I have made easy blocks and more difficult ones, some I loved, some I don't want to make again, but there isn't a single one I regret doing.  I really enjoy the idea of getting together as a group to work on a common project.

Now, it's my turn to be Queen Bee and after much pondering, I kept coming back to this fabulous quilt by Cheryl Arkison.  I don't want to make an exact copy of her quilt, though.  I am asking my bee mates to make a simple sewing machine blocks using any technique they want.  Here is one idea:

My version of a sewing machine block

The rest of this post is written with my bee mates in mind, but if you are interested in the instructions for the block above, read on...

The General Idea

This quilt will hang in my sewing room, which is mostly aqua with touches of red and white.  I would like to see a variety of sewing machines in different sizes and different techniques: paper piecing, traditional piecing (improv or with precise measurements), appliqué... anything goes... subject to Rule Number One:

Rule Number One

This is supposed to be a low-fuss, simple block.  Do not complicate things my making an intricate pieced background, or choosing a paper pieced block with a hundred pieces.  Because that would make the rest of us look bad...


The finished block will be 9" (vertical) x 12" (horizontal). 
No need to trim if it runs a little large, in fact, aim for a 10 x 13 unfinished.
Make sure there is at least 1" of background on all sides around the machine.


The main colour scheme is - no surprise here - aqua, red, pink and white.  Don't worry about your fabrics being "modern".  1930s, solids, flowers, geometrics, I love them all.

A favourite combination

 ...but feel free to include another bright colour such as yellow, green, or orange if you want.

Other happy colours

Just make sure to include at least one colour of the first group.  In other words, a yellow machine on a red background = OK; green machine on orange background: NOT OK.

Don't feel that you have to have a dark machine on a light background.  You can also have light on dark, or dark on dark, as long as there is enough contrast.  Oh, and it's OK to use more than one fabric for the background or the machine, subject to Rule Number One.

How to Make a Sewing Machine Block

Here is the pattern /method for the block I made.  You can replicate this block, or use the same method to change up the sizes and draw your own pattern:

1 - Draw a 9 x 12 rectangle on graph paper.  Here, each square represents 1/2".  Draw your sewing machine and break down in logical pieces.

2 - Number each piece.  I used letters for the background and numbers for the machine, to keep them separate.  Then figure out the measurements.  I find it easier to write down the finished sizes, then to add 1/2" to my cutting sizes.  If your fabric is directional, make sure you identify which is the vertical and which is the horizontal measurement.

I crossed of the pieces as I cut them...

3 - Get cutting.  Here are all my pieces, ready to sew.

4 - Piecing time.  You are all experienced, so that part should go well, but in any event, here's how I proceeded:

- Sew the little triangle of background on piece 1
- Sew 1 and F
- Sew 2 and G
- Sew C & D to each side of 4

- Sew 1F to 2G
- Sew C4D to E

- Take 1F2G and add 5, then 3
- Add B and H
- Add A and 4CDE

Make this machine, make it bigger, make it smaller, leave it as is or add a needle, or a spool holder...

Paper pieced blocks

Are you a paper piecing fan?  Got a good sewing machine block pattern?  Feel free to use it.  I looked around, hoping to post some suggestions, but the only free pattern I could find was too small and would need to be enlarged.  This is why I can't recommend it, but if you want to give it a try, please do.  Try not to get too complicated, though.  This block by Charise Creates is beautiful, but it would make everyone else's block look too simple.  Again, stick to rule number one.


Do you enjoy appliqué?  If so, then perhaps you want to appliqué your sewing machine, using your favourite method.  Machine appliqué?  Yes.  Raw edge? Go for it!  I am a bit of a traditionalist, so for my other sample block, I am using the needle turn method, using freezer paper as a template:

1 - Draw your shape on the dull side of freezer paper

I went antique machine this time
2 - Cut your shape and iron on your chosen fabric.
One of my favourite Kaffe Fassett fabrics
3 - Cut the fabric leaving a 3/8" seam allowance.
4 - Pin on your background.

Those tiny white pins are great for appliqué, but I could only find four...

5 - Using your freezer paper as a guide, gently roll the seam allowance under the paper and handstitch in place.  You may need to clip the curves.

My favourite appliqué method

I am not quite finished, but come back in a couple days and the finished product should be there.


You can embellish your block - again subject to rule number one:  perhaps you can add a needle or a spool holder, or you can embroider your name, your blog name or your initials where the sewing machine name would normally be?  If you feel your machine would look so much better with one or two buttons to represent some sort of dial - then you can include the buttons and pin a note where you want me to put them and I will make sure they make it on the finished product.

I hope you enjoy making a sewing machine block and I am looking forward to seeing what everyone is making!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

How to Make a Pretty Lanyard (Using a Boring One) - a Tutorial

I have been meaning for a while to make myself a pretty lanyard to hold my scissors when I do some hand stitching.  And I did!  See:

Pretty... but it didn't start that way

The biggest hurdle in creating a pretty lanyard proved to be obtaining the proper hardware.  My local quilt, fabric and craft shops do not carry the safety closure that allows for the lanyard to break apart if it gets stuck somewhere, and shipping fees to order the hardware were prohibitive.

Enters Mr. Running Thimble, with a supply of lanyards either promotional or from past conferences: 

Someone's trash...

While not all of them came with safety closures, some of them did, so I got to work.  Here's how I did it.

How to make a pretty lanyard

1 - Find a lanyard with a safety closure (if that is important to you - it is to me). Take a picture with your digital camera before taking it apart.  Why?  Well, they are not all made the same way.  Taking a picture takes no time at all, does not cost anything, and chances are you will have to refer to it when you put the lanyard back together.


2 - Take the lanyard apart:  Do not cut the ribbon but use your trusty seam ripper.  You want to save the ribbon which is usually pretty sturdy.  Sorry - no picture of that step.

3 - Cut strips of a single fabric (as I did in the one pictured above), or use scraps to create strips to cover the ribbon.  Each strip should be about three times as wide as the ribbon you are trying to cover, and at least 1 inch longer.

I know, I know... I did step 3 before step 2.

4 - Cover the ribbon, making sure you have at least a half inch extra fabric at both ends of the ribbon.  pin or clip in place (wonder clips work great for that kind of project), then run one or two seams to secure the fabric.

A little ironing...

... and a little clipping

5 - Re-create the lanyard, referring to the digital picture you took earlier if needed.  Because of the added thickness, the ribbon may be a bit hard to squeeze through the opening of the hardware depending on the size.  The extra fabric at each end of the ribbon should help.

I am a little fuzzy but you get the idea.

That is pretty much it, but before I show the final product, I have to tell you about a little mishap with this lanyard.  See, this one had an extra attachment, a little gizmo to attach a USB key, usually with all the conference materials.   I was going to use that to somehow attach a spool of thread.


Except that the little cord broke.  I did manage to find a way to attach an old bobbin.
It ain't pretty, but now I have scissors AND a place to put my thread when I do handwork.  I am saving this one for sewing.

I actually removed the scissors from the one on the right and used it to hold my work I.D.

Voila!  Here are my pretty lanyards.  That took no time at all.

I am a big fan of quick projects - this was no exception

I have already made a third one, and I just found two more that had the proper hardware... these are addictive  and I can think of many uses for them.  What would you use them for?

Oh and while these two pretties are not quilts, they most definitely are finished, so I am linking up with TGIFF at Dizzy Quilts.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Sunglasses Cases

A quick post today.  A couple weeks ago, the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild had a sunglasses case swap.  Here is the one I made:

The case is not too big.  My glasses are a little small...

And here is the lovely one I received, made by Aimee of Candy Coated Quilts:

Love my new case!

And here's the assortment of cases that were exchanged at the meeting.  Such a variety!  They were all so nice...

Yay for swaps!

Told you it was a quick one... That's it for now!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A quilty visit to Victoria BC

I just came back from a whirlwind week end to Canada's other coast.  Although the main purpose of my trip to Victoria BC was on the account of my other another passion - the "Running" part of the Running Thimble - there was certainly a lot happening in the "Thimble" department.

An infinity scarf started the night before my departure with fabric purchased at my LQS Patch Halifax was finished on the plane.

I wore this every day!

A few weeks before my trip, I had contacted MQG Victoria to find out about local quilt stores.  The President, Nicole, replied to me with more than a list of stores...  she offered to gather a couple people and meet me for a little shopping spree.  How nice is that? 

But before I could meet them up to let the quilt stuff begin, I had to first pick up my race package at the Victoria Marathon Race Expo.  Very un-quilty, right? I laughed when I came across this booth and had to snap a picture...  The day was starting on a bright note!

Running and quilting go well together!

I did eventually met with some Victoria Quilters... here we are at Satin Moon.

Stacie, myself (with scarf), owner Linda, Nicole and her sweet girl, and Judy

Some fabric was purchased there...

See? "Quilters Energy Bars".  You know I needed one of those!

More fabric was purchased at Gala Fabrics. Great prices... it was hard to resist some $6/m cotton, cheap laminated fabric or a 50% sale on voiles...

Don't you just love those sharks?
I see more infinity scarves in my future...

Here is a gift I made for Nicole.   I wish I could have had a gift for everyone who helped made my week-end memorable.

Also finished hand stitching this on the plane

And that is not all.  MQG Victoria member Stacie took me to Cloth Castle to meet yet another MQG Victoria member, Bryan.  So more fabric had to be purchased...

Bicycles, sewing machines, vintage kitchen things... I was feeling retro!

And since I was thinking more "Running" than "Thimble" when I packed, I had to buy another one of those to finish a project I was working on...

Best. Thimble. Ever.  And they are not paying me to say that.

The said project was a fleece blanket for the family friend who was hosting me for the week-end. I ran out of time and did not finish it before I left, but it got done on the long flight back.  It's a 2m piece of polar fleece that I finished with a simple blanket stitch with embroidery floss. It's hard to get a good picture of a fleece blanket, but you get the idea.

Not quite as good as quilts, but these are great TV blankets

When I was working on it during my last guild meeting, I had joked that I was working on a gift for someone who was not quite "quilt-worthy".  As someone who struggles to finish 3-4 quilts a year, I have to pick and chose who I give quilts to, right?

Well to set the record straight, my host ended up being totally quilt-worthy: picking me up and dropping me off at the airport, driving me places, cooking thanksgiving dinner, and - you will all appreciate that one - acting as a quilt holder!   Yes, a real quilt was also finished and delivered and pictures were taken... but that is a story for another day.

At times like this I wish I had time to make more quilts!

And in case you are wondering about the other part of my trip, I will simply tell you this:  The running was even better than the quilting, and I would not trade it for all the stash in the world.

Do you have another passion?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Union Jack

Being part of an online bee means at some point, you have to get out of that comfort zone and make a block you would have never made otherwise.  The September block was one of those... and it was October by the time I made it.

You've see them popping everywhere.  My friend Adrienne is pretty good at it.   Me?  I was so not excited about making this.  Paper piecing is not my favourite method.  It took a while to get started but really, all it took was a quiet Sunday morning, a nice coffee and some  good country music on the radio!

Don't worry, the dangling threads got cut

I like that Janet asked us to chose colourful prints and, not being a fan of the flag itself, I liked the option to reverse the red and blue placement.  I briefly considered using a fleur de lis print but then I thought it would be a little over the top.  In the end, it was quite enjoyable to make, but I can definitely say I have no intention of ever making another one in the future!

Since last week, I have been on a roll.  I whipped up a sunglasses case (to be revealed soon) for the MMQG swap and I "sorta" finished quilting the plus quilt.  I say "sorta" because I have not quilted the plus signs yet.  I have an upcoming trip and I needed the binding on so I'd have something to hand stitch during my flight.  I may add more quilting when I get back.

All ready to hand stitch... my favourite part!

My next challenge...  Figuring out what block to ask as Queen Bee for November.  So many choices...  For those of you who are part of online bees, how do you chose what block you want?