Archive for the ‘Free projects’ Category

How I pieced a utility/throw quilt on my longarm quilting machine

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Recently I pieced this utility/throw/snuggle quilt for my eldest son.

Piecing...on the longarm.

Laid out over the quilting machine

Lighting muted to show quilting texture on top

Back Side -- Sample of the Freehand Quilting Textures

Once I finished piecing the quilt on the longarm, I used the long rectangular strips as “freehand practice blocks,” doing something different in each strip/rectangle.

I have received numerous requests for how to do the piecing on the longarm What I am able to provide by way of  free instruction is limited to text description.

TERMS OF USE: This basic process is presented “as is” and does not constitute any type of warranty or guarantee for your outcome.  If you choose to use my process, you agree that you are using it at your own discretion, at your own risk and that you alone are responsible for your results.

My basic process for piecing on the longarm:

Backing fabric loaded on the longarm.

Quilt batting loaded on top of backing fabric.

Begin piecing top (on top of the batting & backing).  Personal side note: My favorite thread to use for piecing on the longarm is Superior So Fine.

Select a variety of strips, allowing two strips (same width of strip, but differing lengths) per row.  By having differing lengths, the center/off-center joins of each row will be staggered.

For each 2 strip (per row) section, I pressed the short, raw edge of one strip under (to the wrong side) 1/4″ — this is what will form the join in that row.

FIRST ROW: Lay fabric pieces right side up on top of batting, placing the pressed short edge of the one strip over (overlapping)  the other strip’s raw, short edge by 1/4″.  This is the row’s center (off-center)  join.  It can be be off center or wherever you want but please make it a DIFFERENT place in each row to eliminate bulk build up at the joins. Secure with a few pins.  Turn on channel locks of the longarm.  Stitch across the top edge of the pieces making sure not to hit any pins and going at a slow pace, smoothing as you go.  You may wish to remove the pins as you go or after you have finished stitching across the row. Once you get to the other side of the row, turn off the channel locks, go back to the center join and topstitch the pressed edge (center join).  Pull up the center join/topstitching threads as necessary, as you go.  I like to tie them off and bury them as I go using a Spiral Eye Needle.

ALL REMAINING ROWS: Row by row, lay the two strips wrong side up on top of the previously stitched row with the pressed short edge on the bottom and raw short edge on the top at the “off center” join. The raw short edge should overlap the pressed edge by 1/4″. Place a few pins across the strips (out of the way of  the stitching line) to keep the strips from shifting during the stitching process. Channel lock stitch 1/4″ (long raw edges) across the width of the quilt. You may wish to remove the pins as you go or after you have finished stitching across the row. Once you get to the other side of the row, turn off the channel locks.  Bring your iron over to the longarm. Press the long seam all the way across to set the seam.  Open and press the new row forward, toward you and on to the batting so that fabric is now right side up and the next row is formed.  Bring your longarm back to the center join and topstitch the pressed edge (center join).  Pull up the center join/topstitching threads as necessary, as you go.  I like to tie them off and bury them as I go using a Spiral Eye Needle.

Repeat as often as needed until the quilt reaches the length you desire, advancing your backing & batting on the rollers as necessary.

LAST ROW: Stitch 1/4″ from bottom edge.

Keep in mind that the piecing/stitching also acts as quilting and it is visible on the back (as rectangles).

Now go back and fill in all those rectangles with lovely freehand quilting!

Happy stitching.

About this technique: I am NOT the first to “piece” a quilt on the longarm. I learned the basics  from Deb Levy through her videos available to “Premium (paid) Members” at MQ Resource.   HOWEVER, my method is not exactly the same as hers.  Additionally, Deb stated in the video that piecing on the longarm was not original to her.  She did not say who was first, nor do I know who was.  Further, what I learned from Deb did not involve the center/off-center joining strips together within the rows. She demonstrated the sewing of single strips which were complete rows themselves.  I don’t know if others have done the ‘join’ or not.  Certainly, someone out there may very likely have thought of it. But no one ‘taught’ that part to me, nor did I ever see, hear, read about how to do it.  It was just something I thought to try when I was trying the basic technique and it worked for me.

Several projects to help you sew up sweet, fabric Christmas ornaments…

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Like to make hand-made Christmas ornaments? Want to add a little something extra to your package wrapping?  With just a little planning one or more of these can be fun family and/or group projects over the coming weeks heading toward Christmas.

Try making some fabric ornaments out of fabric scraps on hand. Here are links to the last several fabric Christmas ornament projects I designed/wrote:

Elf Pillows On Point

Elf Pillows On Point, Variation #1

Elf Pillows On Point, Variation #2

Ornament Pattern 2008

3 different Yo-Yo Ornies – 2007

FREE PROJECT: Ice-Me-Nicely™ Covered Ice Packs

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Ice-Me-Nicely Covered Ice Pack Project

The back story: When I tore my ACL and discovered surgery would be required to repair it, I learned that I would soon begin a love affair with ice packs. A friend whose son had a meniscus repair a year or so ago told me how to make my own ‘slushy ice pack’ that would be more malleable around the knee.  I gave it a try and discovered how fantastic these homemade ice packs really are. Only…I absolutely hated wrapping them in a towel.  The towel would slip and not stay securely on the pack.

Solution: Make my own Terry Cloth cover for each size.

©Tracy L. Chapman & Sew Thankful Inc. April 2010. All rights reserved.

User assumes all risk. Tracy L. Chapman & Sew Thankful Inc. shall have no liability with respect to loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this project.

Click here for a printable PDF of this project (requires Acrobat Reader).

Please read entire pattern carefully all the way through before beginning.

Two Sizes – Finished Measurements:

  • Large – approximately 12” wide x 12” tall
  • Small – approximately 8” wide x 9” tall

Materials required for each ice pack and cover:

Large

Ice Pack Insert:

  • (2) Gallon Size Double Zipper Ziploc Freezer Bags
  • Water – 6 cups
  • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol – 2 cups

*Note: Water to Alcohol mixture should be approximately 3 parts water to 1 part alcohol. You may wish to use more or less total liquid for a ‘fatter’ or ‘thinner’ ice pack

  • Permanent Marker

 

Cover:

  • Cotton Terry Cloth  12” wide  x 26”  (idea: use a hand towel or recycle old bath towels)
  • Accent Fabric Strip 1.75” x 12”
  • Binding Fabric Strip 1.75” x 42+”
  • Sew In Hook & Loop Tape (Velcro) ¾” x 9”
  • Thread – recommend matching color to towel for construction, contrasting/decorative threads optional

 

Small

Ice Pack Insert:

  • (2) Quart Size Double Zipper Ziploc Freezer Bags
  • Water – 3 cups
  • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol – 1 cup

*Note: Water to Alcohol mixture should be approximately 3 parts water to 1 part alcohol. You may wish to use more or less total liquid for a ‘fatter’ or ‘thinner’ ice pack

  • Permanent Marker

 

Cover:

  • Cotton Terry Cloth 8” wide x 20” tall (idea: use a hand towel or recycle old bath towels)
  • Accent Fabric Strip 1.75” x  8”
  • Binding Fabric Strip 1.75” x  34+”
  • Sew In Hook & Loop Tape (Velcro) ¾” x 6”
  • Thread – recommend matching color to towel for construction, contrasting/decorative threads optional

 

Instructions:

Prepare Ice Pack Insert:

  • Combine Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol and water in 1st double zipper freezer bag.  Carefully remove excess air from bag and close seal.  Place this bag inside the 2nd double zipper freezer bag with seal at the opposite end.  Remove excess air from 2nd bag and seal zipper.
  • Use a permanent marker and label the bag “DO NOT EAT, DRINK OR INGEST”

Label Ice Pack Insert & Double Bag Solution

  • Place pack in freezer several hours or until needed – the alcohol will prevent a super hard freeze, allowing the pack to be “slushy” and malleable.  If your freezer temperature setting is extremely low, the pack may become pretty hard over time.  Simply allow pack to set at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes before use and pack will become more slushy and malleable.

Prepare Ice Pack Cover:

 

Prewash and preshrink Terry Cloth and cut to size(s) specified.

Determine which end will be the top/flap end of the Terry Cloth cover and “round” corners on this end, as shown.

  • Hint:  Use a plate, roll of tape or any solid, flat, round object to achieve a nice, even rounded edge.

Round the top/flap corners

Fold ‘Accent Strip’ in half lengthwise with right sides out, match up raw edges and press.

Align raw edges of Accent Strip with raw edges of bottom of Terry Cloth, stitch using a ¼” seam allowance.

Accent Strip

Press, fold snugly over to the other side and topstitch down.

  • Optional:  Topstitch with decorative threads using a zigzag or decorative stitch.

Accent Strip Stitched Down

Center and sew in ‘soft’ side of Hook & Loop Tape parallel to the Accent Strip, butted flush alongside the accent strip.

Center and sew in hard side of Hook & Loop Tape on opposite end and opposite side of Terry Cloth approximately 1/2” from top (raw) edge of Terry Cloth.

I recommend using a thread that matches/blends with the towel color for this. Doing so will help make the stitching less noticeable on the reverse side which will be seen when the flap is folded over.

Hard Velcro Positioned

Bring bottom (accent) edge of towel up toward top (raw) edge of Terry Cloth:

  • For large size, place 3” below and parallel to top edge, pin to secure placement.
  • For small size, place 2” below and parallel to top edge, pin to secure placement.

Press Binding Strip ¼” under (to the wrong side) on one narrow end.

Fold Binding Strip in half lengthwise matching raw edges with right sides out and press.

Flip the cover over.

Align folded/pressed narrow end of binding strip at one folded edge of Terry Cloth cover (raw edges out/aligned) and pin binding all the way around, as shown.

Note: As you pin, pull and re-position the previously placed pins from the other side.

Use a ¼” seam allowance and begin stitching on binding.  Continue sewing up one side, around the top and down the other side toward the opposite folded edge of Terry Cloth.

Binding StitchingStop stitching approximately 3” from the folded edge.  Backstitch to secure stitching.  Remove from sewing machine.

Measure and cut binding strip approximately ¼” longer than the folded edge of Terry Cloth.

Clip Binding Tail

Press the new end of binding under ¼”. Refold in half, align with edge of Terry Cloth cover, press again.

Binding Tail Turned Under 1/4″

Return to sewing machine and continue stitching all the way down to the end. Backstitch to secure.

Press binding toward the outside.

Press to the outside. Inspect seam all the way around to make certain all layers are sewn in the seam. Trim excess/bulky Terry Cloth from seam allowance (no more than 1/16th – 1/8th inch / do NOT cut too close to seam).

Clip curves carefully to reduce puckering (be careful not to cut into stitched seam).

Wrap binding around Terry Cloth edge snugly and press. Pin if necessary to secure, easing around the curved flap edges. Topstitch close to edge to secure all the way around. Return to sewing machine and continue stitching all the way down to the end. Backstitch to secure.

Finish binding stitches

If desired, add decorative top-stitching all the way around for additional seam strength and visual interest.

Option: Add decorative topstitching

Option: Add Decorative Top Stitching

Store your cover(s) in a location you will remember.  When you need to use your icepack, simply pull it out of the freezer, insert it into the cover and ENJOY the cooling sensation.  When finished, remove the cover and return icepack to freezer. This icepack can last years.

Note: Inspect icepack for leakage with each use.  If signs of leakage occur, simply re-bag the liquid in two new heavy Ziploc Freezer Bags.

The cover is machine washable – For best results, press hook and loop tape together securely to prevent snagging on other laundry items. Recommend cool wash, medium heat dryer.

Idea:  Consider adding embroidery (monogram or other designs, perhaps) or appliqué to the Terry Cloth for extra decorative interest.

Click here for a printable PDF of this project (requires Acrobat Reader).

©Tracy L. Chapman & Sew Thankful Inc. April 2010. All rights reserved.

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Happy Spring & National Quilting Day — and a BIG Thank YOU!

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Happy Spring and Happy National Quilting Day! Did you know that the National Quilting Association has designed a free pattern for your group or guild as you celebrate National Quilting Day?

Check it out:  http://nqaquilts.org/nqday/nqday2010.php (this link opens in a new window).

I want to say a BIG “Thank YOU!” to everyone who wrote such warm and encouraging notes (both on the blog and through private email) to my last blog post.  It meant more than you can imagine! I really, REALLY appreciate your all your kindness, concern and understanding.

Status update – I have made good progress this week. I am down to one crutch (comfortably) and doc says I can get rid of it as soon as I feel ready.  I am ‘shooting’ for Tuesday, but we will see.  I have been diligent in working on my Physical Therapy, home exercises, stationary bike (I’m up to 35+ minutes now and have added resistance & a little speed), as well as the 6-8 hours a day on the CPM. It’s still a little (OK, a LOT) frustrating how much time is eaten up by all these requirements; but I believe that my investment of time and energy now will pay off.  In fact, I am already beginning to see proof of that.

Patience–especially with myself–has never been my strong suit, so I am learning life lessons on many levels. Thanks again for your kindness, encouragement and understanding.  I truly feel like I’m well on my way back to my energetic, creative self.

The best intentions and adjusting when reality sets in…

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Last week I had one of my best ideas yet for a new free pattern/project. It has all of the characteristics I love for free projects:

  • The project is quick and easy — perfect for beginners
  • It doesn’t require any unusual materials
  • It’s useful — virtually EVERYBODY can use the finished product

Because it’s such an easy project I *thought* there wouldn’t be any problem having step-by-step pictures prepared and instructions ready by yesterday. So, of course, I announced that in the eNews last weekend because I was so excited to have a new project to share with subscribers.

I was so excited.

Then reality set in. What was I thinking?!!!  The required 6 – 8 hours a day I have to spend attached to a CPM machine (no, that’s not me in the video) for my knee rehabilitation in addition to the extra physical therapy has seriously diminished my available time.

As much as I hate to admit it, my body is still recovering from the trauma of surgery and the painful rehabilitation.  Just completing the normal, required personal, family and business tasks each day put me past my limit.  It’s frustrating and disappointing.  But it is what it is.

I’m not seeking sympathy nor am I making excuses. I’m human and this situation is what it is. An honest reality check that I can only do what I can do. I don’t want to get bogged down in self-pity or become depressed.  I must keep moving forward, adjusting as I go.

First, I apologize for not being able to meet my own publicly announced deadline.  Second, I am forgiving myself so I can accept the lesson and adjust. Third, I am moving forward.  The project is still in the works and I am making progress on it, even if it seems SO slow.   I am getting stronger every day and as I become stronger I will begin to have more time to spend.  I truly *hope* that it will be finished by next Saturday/Sunday but I can’t promise that (yet). I don’t want to rush and risk errors or poor quality.

I can only say for certain that I will announce it and provide the link in the FREE eNews just as soon as the project is ready.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

In the end, circumstances are temporary and we can choose how we deal with them. We can give up or we can adjust as necessary and keep on going.  I have decided that I will not let what I can’t do today get in the way of what I can do today.