Archive for March, 2011

Saying Goodbye to a Favorite Quilt

March 21, 2011

Over the past couple of months, I have had the pleasure of working with my daughter’s fourth grade class on a quilt for the school’s annual fund raiser. On Saturday, I had to bid farewell to this favorite quilt which the students aptly named A Colorful Paradise.

While I am happy to report that the quilt raised a nice amount in the auction and I am moving onto some other wonderful projects, I am missing its splash of color in my studio on this overcast day.


Organizing Our Fabric Stash and Finding a Project To Do

March 15, 2011

Nothing sparks creativity in the sewing room like organizing your fabric stash. Reconnecting with lost loves (fabric that is) you misplaced when another fabric or project moved in. Several Sundays ago, my daughter and I were organizing our stashes when she rediscovered a fat quarter she bought last fall. With nothing but chilly temps and grey skies in the forecast, we knew how the rest of the afternoon would be spent.

She decided to make a pillowcase, something she has made before, but we changed it up a bit since the coveted piece of fabric was one fat quarter (18″ x 22″), plenty big enough if she were making a pillow case for her dolls, not so big for her own pillow. In this fast-paced, instant gratification world we often find ourselves participating in, I also wanted to take this simple project and impart some lessons about paying attention to the details; this meant a 1-hour project became a 2-hour project.

The first lesson was about choosing a fabric that would pair nicely with – and showcase – the Monopoly novelty print (chosen because of her love of the game). She has a fairly good color sense and went straight for the mini blue dot fabric. Just for comparison, I pulled out some other fabrics to show her how the look/feel of the pillowcase would change based on the color/print of the coordinating fabric. I cut the pieces based on the seam allowance (1/2 inch), piecing, and desired finished size. I talked her through the math – always good to take the math lesson from school and bring it into everyday life where I am constantly having to respond to the question “Do you really use this math in your life, mom?”

Next we talked about sewing a really straight seam – especially important because any wavering from the 1/2″ seam allowance would really show up on the finished pillowcase since the line between the two fabrics is so distinct. If she had chosen a really busy fabric to go with the Monopoly print, that line would be less evident.

We talked about pinning; I like to place the pins perpendicular to the fabric edge because there is less shifting than when you pin parallel to the fabric edge. (Another chance to use math terms in the conversation.) The topic of ironing also came up: Iron at a 45 degree angle when you press the seam open. Then, turn the pillowcase right-side out and press everything again to get a really crisp look.

Finally we discussed the finishing details. We could have simply hemmed the opening, stitching it in place on the sewing machine, a perfectly fine option she had chosen in the past. However, she decided to bind the edge with the blue dot fabric, an effect that helped to define the outer edge of the Monopoly fabric. We made the edging using a 1″ bias tape maker. This time, we did place the pins parallel to the edge, a technique that worked better given the application.

With the edging in place, the pillowcase was finished and ready for use. As we wrapped up the project, she was quite proud of the end result, remarking “it looks like we bought the pillowcase rather than made it.” Always the stamp of excellence from a tween!