Thursday, June 30, 2022

My Mom's 70th Birthday ~ Purple Quilt

Before we can talk about the purple quilt, let me tell you a little bit about a red quilt I made 10 years ago... 10 years ago, when my mom turned 60 years old, to celebrate her special birthday, I made her a red quilt. There is an old tradition in Japan that when you celebrate your 60th birthday you wear a red vest and hat with your family and friends. My mom didn't want to wear them AT ALL, so I made her a red quilt instead. Even though I was born and raised in Japan, I had no clue about this tradition, how it started, and the meaning behind it. So I did a quick search and I wrote about that in my blog post 10 years ago, if you are interested, you can read it here.
During the research, I found out that there is a theme color for each decade and the color for 70 is purple. I told her that when she turns 70, I will make her a purple quilt. 10 years passed so quickly... and to tell you the truth, I had forgotten about the promise I made. One Sunday, I was facetiming with my mom and she was using the red quilt I made. Talk about divine timing!! I was thinking to myself "Thank you God SO MUCH!!" I definitely want to keep my promise to her. The last couple years were very hard for her and I wanted to do something special.

I made the red quilt with only solid fabrics to play with color gradients. For the purple quilt, I thought it would be fun to use prints and make it scrappy. I had most of the fabrics on my shelf, but I added some new ones to them. I used Half Square Triangles to create this quilt and I will show you how to make 8 of them very quickly. There are MANY tutorial posts and videos out there if you want to explore.

* Purple Quilt How to

Finished quilt size 64 1/2" x 80 1/2"

1. Cut 40 pieces of 9 3/4" x 9 3/4" squares from dark fabrics and 40 pieces of 9 3/4" x 9 3/4" squares form light fabrics.
2. Combine a dark and a light square, right sides together. Draw diagonal lines on the square.
3. Sew 1/4" seam on each side of each diagonal line. I had my 1/4" Quilting Foot with Guide on my Baby lock machine, so I just use that as a guide to sew 1/4" seam from the diagonal line. You could draw the lines next to the diagonal line before you sew too. Draw a vertical and a horizontal line in the middle of the square.
4. Cut in the middle of the sewed diagonal lines, on the vertical and horizontal lines to make 8 triangles.
5. Open them up and press them with an iron!
6. I didn't have a specific design idea in mind. After I made all the HSTs, I sat in front of my design wall and moved them around for a few days. I thought about doing a more unified look at first, but then I changed my mind to do a more scrappy look. I pieced squares first, then pieced them to make rows and sewed the rows together. Once I finished with the quilt top, I was going to take pictures and like always, my little dog came and joined the photoshoot. He was too cute to dismiss...
I machine quilted it myself, added the label and packaged it. Now the quilt is on its way to Japan and I hope my mom will receive it before her birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!!
P.S. In case you are curious... The theme color for 80 is yellow. I normally don't use many yellow fabrics, but I better start thinking about what to do!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Queen's Cross Quilt with Piping Finish

Have you seen the Queen's Cross Quilt designed by talented Aussie Quilt designer Jen Kingwell ? A few years ago, I learned that she is coming to a quilt shop not far from where I live; I had to sign up. I loved her Queen's Cross quilt; especially the block designs with lots of circles. After the class I was pretty much obsessed with making those blocks. I enjoyed finding fabrics from my scraps, stash and quilt shops. I had so much fun creating different blocks with various combination of colors and patterns.

I decided to make a quilt with just the blocks that I love so much, instead of combining them with other blocks like in the original design. The blocks are all hand pieced and appliqued, but I used my baby lock sewing machine to sew the blocks, borders and sashing together. After hand quilting it, I thought about how I wanted to finish the quilt... should I do a simple binding? I put so much time and effort so far, I wanted to do something very special to finish off the quilt. I decided to add piping!

I have made/used piping for a small project such as pillows and pouches, but I have never done it for a quilt. I was not 100% confident in my abilities to do it, but there is a first time for everything, right? I will share what I did with you.

* You Will Need

Cord of your preference

Fabric strips

Clear thread and regular thread

Zipper foot

* How to

1. I wanted very thin piping, so I bought Dritz's 3/32" cable cord. Then I cut 1 1/4" wide fabric strips from the same fabrics I used in the quilting. You could make the piping from just one fabric, but I was going for a scrappy look for the piping as well. It is a little more work, I knew it would be worth it. I prefer the fabric strips that are cut in bias for binding, but I didn't have enough fabrics. I just cut them with the grain and mitered the ends. I pieced them together long enough to go around the whole quilt.

2. After I pieced the strips, opened the seams and pressed, I folded the fabric strip in half and very LIGHTLY ironed it to just leave a half line mark. The reason for this is that it is easier for me to keep the cord in the middle lining up with the folded line while I sewed the cord in, at the same time keeping the seams lined up nicely together.

3. Attach the Zipper foot to your machine. The zipper foot is one of the feet I use most often. I use it for inserting zippers, snap tape, attaching piping and decorative cording. When you sew, don't sew right up against the cord. It is better to have some "give" when you are sewing the piping to your project.
4. I used clear thread for the top and regular thread for the bottom. I didn't want to find out afterwards that the color of the basting thread doesn't match after I finish sewing the piping onto the quilt. I tried to use clear thread for the bottom as well, but winding the bobbin with clear thread was a nightmare! After reading some posts online about other people's experiences, I decided to use the clear thread just on top.

5. Just keep sewing! You want to go a little slower when you are dealing with clear thread.
Looking at the growing pile is so exciting!
6. I wasn't comfortable sewing the piping and bias tape at the same time, so sewed the piping to the quilt first with the largest stitch setting. Then I sewed the bias tape. I made my bias tape out of 2" wide strips.
Here is the view from the front. Ahhh, so exciting! It is coming together!

7. I like finishing my binding by hand using blind stitch. It is calming to sit and do hand work, at the same time I enjoy feeling anticipation of seeing the finished quilt soon!
This was definitely a labor intensive quilt for sure from start to finish, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I am going to enjoy looking at it for a while before moving on to my next project.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Tutorial ~ Simple Triangular Pen Case

I have been thinking about designing a triangular pen case without adding different panels on the sides. What I did is a very simple way to create "triangles" with a bigger boxed bottom. I hope you enjoy this fun, fast and functional (because you can use your leftover strips!) tutorial.

* You will need

1½" wide strips
10"x10" batting
10"x10" backing
9" zipper

* How to

1. Cut 9 - 1½"x 9" strips. This is where you could have fun. You could use 9 different strips, alternate 2 different kind of strips, coordinate 4 different fabrics (cut 2 strips from three fabrics and and 3 strips from one fabric) or whatever your heart desires!
2. Layer backing (right side down)and batting on the table. Lay the first strip right side up and the second strip on top of the first strip right side down. sew with ¼" seam.
3. Open the fabric and press with iron. Repeat the process with all the strips. Trim the edges and make a 9"x 9½" rectangle.
4. Quilt it as you like. The strips are sewed on to the backing and batting, so if you want to skip this step and move on that is fine too. I just think the quilting will add more to the design. This is a small enough project that you may not need anything special to quilt it, but
I like to use my Digital Dual Feed Foot to ensure an even feed for the layers while quilting.
5.Sew the zipper on the 9½" seam using the Baby Lock zipper foot. Lay the zipper right side down onto the right side of the fabric.
6.Fold the seam towards the body, press and top stitch.
7. Repeat the process to attach the other side of the zipper.
8.Fold the fabric right sides together and sew the sides with ¼" seam. I used zigzag stitch to finish the seam.
9. Make boxed bottom. I explained this process in a different post if you need a reference. I drew a sewing line that is 2½", it is 1¼" perpendicular from the middle towards the edge.
10. Done!
I decided to add a ribbon on the zipper.
After I finished making one, I wanted to experiment with different ways to combine fabrics and quilting designs. So five others were born. I bet you could go through your scraps and whip up a few of these easily in one afternoon. Have fun sewing!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Babylock Decals

Look at these fun decals I received in the mail! Baby Lock came out with some decals to decorate your sewing machine with. They are also great to use on your laptops, phones, water bottles and much more. They are not available online, but you can find them at your nearest retailer so go check them out.

The decal that popped out to me is this one,
I went to New York City at the end of October, and I am kind of obsessed with New York right now... the design of this decal reminded me of the famous "I N.Y" sign. hahaha.

Several styles of packages are available. They will make a fun Christmas gift for Baby Lock sewing machine lovers!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Heart Pillow

Today marks my 3rd mastectomy anniversary. If you are interested you can read about it in my blog post after when I was diagnosed, the day of the mastectomy and the day I came home from the hospital.

I reflected on the past three years and the main thing that comes to my mind is that how grateful I am. I woke up this morning, got ready, went to church and later that day I was able to Facetime my sons who are both serving our church in Japan. I was able to cook and had dinner with my family. They are all small and simple things, but to me the fact that I am still here and able to be with my family is a tremendous blessing. I have been working on heart shaped pillows to donate again this year. As I was stitching them I had this epiphany, that it is better if there were no need for these pillows, that means no one is getting breast cancer. But the reality is, there is a need for them. 1 out of 8 women get diagnosed with breast cancer. I hope you are not the one in these statistics, but if there is someone somewhere diagnosed with breast cancer, I hope my pillow will bring some comfort and love; just like the pillow I received, did.

Cindy of Riley Blake Designs has a great video tutorial using my heart pillow pattern; if you would like to make some to give to someone or to donate, please do so.

"Early detection is the key!", I say this all the time to whoever wants to ask me questions about breast cancer. Getting a mammogram doesn't take much time out of your day but it makes a big difference in your survival rate and treatment options. Please take care of yourselves everyone!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

McCall's 8044 Skirt with Linen

Hello! How have you all been?? As I mentioned in the last post, I had a pretty busy summer and I didn't sew much... I just wanted to spend more time with my children. They are growing up too fast, but they seem to not mind that at all. I was having a hard time catching up with the speed. Now that my middle son has left home and my youngest has gone back to school, I am getting my sewing mojo back! There were a few things I wanted to sew, but I decided to try the McCall's 8044, pattern first.
When my family and I took a quick trip to Colorado this summer, I visited a fabric shop called Fancy Tiger Crafts. They had a great selection of linens and I picked up a Terrazzo printed linen without any particular project in mind. When I was looking at the pattern, the fabric came to my mind right away. I was drawn to the picture of style C on the pattern, but I didn't quite have enough to make that, so I went with style B instead.
I used my Babylock 5/8" adjustable seam guide foot again to ensure the accuracy of the seam while I was sewing. It not only sped things up, I feel like I could sew with confidence.
It is hard to tell with this fabric, but there are buttons on the side. I like how this pattern doesn't require that much fabric, the skirt drapes nicely and also looks slimming.
Since this is made with thin linen, I won't be wearing it during the winter, but I could enjoy it a little bit longer with the right layering. I pulled out a cardigan from my closet and got ready for the evening.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

A New Dress from Casual Chic Clothes/ きれいめカジュアル服

It has been a while since my last post. I hope you all had a great summer. You might be asking what I have been up to and here it is... In the beginning of summer, I was planning to sew many clothes using my stash of fabric. I did sew a couple of things for myself and did some charity sewing, after that the desire to sew sizzled down. It was not gone, but sizzled down, way down. I was wondering why that was and I analyzed myself. I was busy working to finish our basement, I just wanted to spend more time with my kids as much as possible while I could instead of sewing or quilting. My kids are older now and my oldest is currently serving a two year church mission in Japan, and my middle child has been getting ready to go to Japan as well for two years. He is leaving this week. My youngest just turned 16 this summer, driving, more time with friends, extra curricular activities, dating etc. she is ever so busy. I realized that the gate with a sign saying "empty nester" is getting closer and closer by the second. Yup, the realization is setting in. I cooked their favorite meals, we went out together, played games, watched movies, just sat and talked and sometimes I hung out with their friends too! I have no regrets how I spent this summer. I am going to get back to a normal schedule soon and start sewing more and I am excited about that now. Meanwhile, Let me share a dress I made at the end of June from the Japanese sewing book "Casual Chic Clothes"
There are many things I want to make from this book and the first thing I wanted to try was this dress. I love the design so much and I happened to have shirting fabric in my fabric closet; there is no reason not to try!
As I am getting old... I mean matured in my age, I say "nah" to somethings that are "too cute" or "too fluffy"; but I felt like the sleeves are exceptional and I really love them. I also think using gray and white thin striped fabric instead of pastel color helps tone down the cuteness of it.
When I looked at the pictures, I realized that the waistband is sitting lower than the natural waistline. I have a short torso, and I wanted the waistband to sit on my natural waistline, so I shortened the patterns close to a couple inches.
Also I added a thin liner for the skirt; that added more volume to the skirt than I wanted, but oh well.
I love how it turned out and I wore the dress several times this summer. I would definitely go back to this pattern someday once I make other things from my "to sew list".
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