Adventures with Jan, Part 1

Who, you may ask, is Jan?

Actually, what would be a better question.

I need to get a picture, but Jan is my brand new sewing machine (Oh good grief, I named my sewing machine! It’ll be the car next…). It isn’t a totally random name as it is a Janome machine.

I have only had it/her (anthropomorphising- sorry Dad) for a couple of weeks. I spent a silly amount of money at the Festival of Quilts on buying a new machine because I needed more versatility for quilt-along.  Actually, trying out different makes of machine was a lot of fun, and highly amusing. Possibly another post… 

Anyway, my new machine arrived about 10 days later, at which point I realised just how big it is and how much more space than my current machine I would need for storage (I finally got a wheeled bag ordered on Friday, so hopefully that will help). On the other hand, I love the automated things it has which I didn’t have before, although I have reverted today to using the foot pedal rather than the Stop/Start button. And the main plus is the huge throat space and the quilting extension table which came with it.

I did a sampler thing to try out a load of the stitches which I thought I might use (I think there are quite a lot I won’t use), but on Saturday I decided to attempt my first project with the machine. I prepped a couple of mug bags the other day, adding the interfacing and batting on Saturday afternoon, so it was silly to not start sewing.

I have wanted to do a mug bag for a while, especially as I have been carrying a mug to and from quilting classes and groups, and at some point I will probably drop the bag it is in. A mug bag will hopefully give a little more protection. I eventually managed to find a pretty pattern (it turned out I had had this pinned on Pinterest for a while) and set about making it. The pattern is by Bronwyn of Red Brolly (Red Brolly’s Facebook page), but currently her website is unavailable due to personal reasons.

I have broken into my stash (shock, horror!) and found some gorgeous fabrics to attempt 2 bags. I went for some Tilda Candy Bloom fabric which I picked up at last year’s FOQ, and some Ella Blue Chirpy Lola fabric I got in a sale earlier this year. The Solids were Kona from my stash (still trying to work out which colours they were).

The pattern proved straightforward, and I have started to get used to using Jan. I have even braved using some of the auto-stitch features and experimented with needle position. I remembered how to thread the spool and bobbin threads, and am even getting the hang of the automatic threader (I have that on my older machine but never used it).

I finished the bags by hand-sewing the bags into the wraps today whilst Maxi was at school, Mini was at Playgroup (having started last week), the washing machine and tumble dryer were going full pelt, and the sides in the kitchen were drying.

Then I discovered that American mugs must be smaller than UK mugs, as most of my mugs do not fit! Eep! The one I take to class goes in sideways, so that is ok, but I have had to dig out a smaller mug to go in the other. Note to self: if I make these again, add about an inch to each measurement. 

Here they are. I love them regardless of their tight fit. The only thing I will change on them is that I am not so happy with the button/ribbon closure, and may change them for Kam Snaps. Other than that, what do you think? (Matching mug rugs next…)

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Another Project Ticked off the List 😊

The tablet holder is done! And it isn’t perfect by any means, but I managed it and I love it!

 

The pattern and tutorial are courtesy of Caroline at SewCanShe. She originally designed the quilted ipad sleeve back in January. I had been looking for something for my (then) new Samsung Tab S2, but didn’t like any of the flippy  ones you can buy that turn into stands (too bulky) and didn’t want to pay for a soft case when I felt I could probably make my own. Caroline’s was absolutely perfect and the Blend fabric was gorgeous!

I was never going to be able to get the same fabric, but found some lovely fabric from Riley Blake, Lulabelle and Flutterberry, changing my mind several times about which design I wanted, before finally settling on some jewel-coloured cotton from Michael Miller. The designer is Tamara Kate, and the collection is Birds and the Bees. I have Feathered Flock and Love Bug, both in Navy. I originally bought them in a curated FQ pack from Elephant in My Handbag, which included a feather pattern from the same collection and 2 co-ordinating colours of Flurry from Dashwood Studios. They were used to make an organiser for a friend, and I loved the main fabrics so much, I decided they would be perfect for my tablet case. Now I just needed the pattern or tutorial.

 

Caroline is very busy with all sorts of things, but she did a downloadable tutorial in June. And yes, it has taken me this long to get round to utilising it! Having prepped last week, I sewed it this Thursday and Friday, choosing some stupidly hot days to work whilst Mini Mister was napping. All I can say is that an electric fan full on facing you, whilst you work at the sewing machine, is a definite need rather than an option.

 

I spray basted the 2 pieces of batting to the outer and lining fabrics, before spray basting the batting together, so I had a 4-layer sandwich. This meant I didn’t have to worry about pins or clips being in the way for drawing quilting lines on. Oh, and that was an issue as I couldn’t find any of my fabric marking pencils or chalk or the washable pen that I have. Once that was located  (and I really need some suggestions for better versions than the cheap one I have), I ruled one line at a time before quilting. I am pleased with the result as it is mostly straight, mostly at the correct spacing, and mostly at the right angles. I have to admit, some unpicking was required, including, after a change of bobbin,  when I realised that the tension hadn’t reset properly.

Quilted tablet holder Picklepiemama

Quilting complete

 

The quilted piece got straightened and cut in 2, before having 2 corners curved. Then it was on to the zip. And I don’t have a good history with zips and had never before attempted one not on a straight!

 

Well, I got there. Eventually. Using the slowest speed setting, and going back over with the top stitching (at least the basting stitches helped) several times to make sure it was all caught properly.

Quilted tablet cover top-stitching Picklepiemama

Top-stitching the zip and binding

I had made up some bias binding from some of the spare fabric,  my first attempt to make it using a continuous method. It was a bit wobbly, but there was enough to use. Binding the zip was hard work, especially ensuring that it was lined up properly to get the top-stitching to catch all the way round.

Quilted tablet holder binding pinned Picklepiemama

Zip binding pinned

Then I made a muck-up. A big mistake. I clipped together the raw sides, cut them straight, and the sewed round the 2 of them. Has anyone spotted what I forgot to do? It was nearly disaster…I had forgotten to start undoing the zip so the I could access it once all 4 sides were sewn up! The zip pull was sewn inside the pouch. Eek!

I thought I was going to have to unpick a load, but there was just enough of a gap to get my scissors in and grasp the zip pull with them. A bit of careful yanking with the scissors and I had moved it enough to get access to open it properly. Oops! This is why tutorials always warn you to move the zip into the middle before you close up.

Quilted tablet holder binding raw edges Picklepiemama

Binding the raw open edges

 

Quilted tablet holder Picklepiemama

Binding clipped round for sewing

The last thing was to put the binding round the 2 raw edges (needed some wiggling here to get it right), and then I could turn it and press. And it is done. What do you think? 😊

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Writing 101 – Day 8

Picture from Liberty's website

Picture from Liberty’s website

Being challenged to think about comments we have written on other blogs, and to expand on one of them, has prompted me to look back over all of the other blogs or pages I have visited over the last couple of months. I find that it hooks me in further to those other world’s and I can quite easily get lost and use up a whole evening – hence this post being a day late.

I ended up getting pulled in to not only this blog, but also her linked Pinterest page. VeryBerryHandmade had posted some gorgeous fabric. That was it. A picture. It cauht my attention.

PicklePie MamaSep 6, 2015

I love the first Michelle and the Felicite, as well as the teapots (its pink, so need I say more?!!!). I haven’t really looked at Liberty for fabric before (too enamoured with certain American designers and Makower), but these are prompting a possible new fabric love affair! The question is, what can I make with them…

OK, to be fair, it doesn’t take much to get me lusting after new fabrics, and there are some really pretty ones in her post. But then she replied this:

veryberryhandmadeSep 8, 2015

Hi – I have a Liberty Inspiration board here on Pinterest if you need some ideas!https://www.pinterest.com/aliatveryberry/liberty-inspiration/

Oh dear! As you already know, I am addicted to Pinterest. That’ll be a few more things to add to my project list. It expands again!

I think I will see what you think of my project list, if I should add anything, and what I should try next. Look out for it…

Calculating Hexagons

I have been working on building up basted hexagons for one of my quilts whilst we have been away. The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I started including a Hexie Counter to my widgets a couple of weeks ago. It is not perfect, but it does the job of giving me a visual reminder about how many I have reached. I am actually keeping an Excel spreadsheet, just so I don’t lose count!

Screenshot_2015-08-19-16-34-29

Hexie Counter

Now you may think that this is a little obsessive, especially given that I have been sorting all the basted hexies into colour sets and storing them like that. OK, it probably is, but there is a good reason. I need a massive number of hexies for even a small quilt and since I am not following a pattern and haven’t yet decided on the final size, I need to keep a track.

I found a great site when Googled how to work out the number of hexies required. CD Designs has a variety of helpful pages, but the one that has been most useful to me is the Calculating Hexagons page. Some wonderfully helpful person has worked out some formulae that give you the number of rows, columns, hexagons and half hexagons you require, dependent on the size of your hexagons and your intended quilt.

As I haven’t yet decided on the size of my finished quilt, I put in the figures for a twin (single), a double, a queen and a king, keeping my hexies 1 inch. The differences are huge!

               No. Hexies.       No. Half Hexies

Twin:           2532                 60

Double:       2930                 62

Queen:        3692                 71

King:            5538                 79

I wasn’t happy with just these figures (oh dear…). So I then decided to work out how many flowers I would need to make overall if I was to stick with my original idea for a Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt. And that depends on the size of flower and whether I put any ‘paths’ between them. You see how much I really need to get round to deciding!!

1 layer hexie flower

1 layer hexie flower

2 layer hexie flower

2 layer hexie flower

1 layer hexie flower with paths

1 layer hexie flower with paths

The number of flowers would give me the number of centres required, and since I have decided to go with Kona Solids for the centres (Woo-hoo! A decision I have actually made!) I needed to know how much material to prep.

I won’t bore you with the table of figures I came up with. Suffice to say that I need anything from 54 to 400 centres! For the moment I am aiming for a mid-point in these figures.

So far, having basted almost all of the Zoe Pearn ‘A Beautiful Thing’ fabric, I am up to 160 hexagons with 72 more prepped to baste. I am going to be spending a long, long time making this quilt.

DSC_2539

I have, therefore, decided that when I have finished the current lot, I am going to take a break and try to complete another of my projects. I don’t want to get hexie fatigue! Keep an eye on the counter though, as I will update it as I complete more hexies.

(Please note that this is not a sponsored post in any way. All opinions are my own)😊