Saturday, June 17, 2017

Practicing on a String Bean

Practicing on a string bean comes from the Francis books. Francis' little sister mostly eats baby food until she can eat regular food, but in the mean time, she eats string beans to get in shape for it.

My practicing on a string bean involves making knitted, embroidered, or quilted things for practice. So, if somebody asks, "Can you make something like this thing?" I can show them examples or know I know enough to do it without having practiced first.

This page is my huge list of things to learn, although it isn't complete yet. Sometimes I know what I should learn and do not know the steps to get there yet.

As far as quilting is concerned, the beginner quilting skills I listed in the page are not the things beginner quilters learn to do all at once, but they are the most common techniques quilters use and form the basis for all quilts. I also listed some common quilt top patterns, including tumblers, diamonds (done!), half-square triangles, pyramids, hexagons, baby blocks, apple core, clamshell, and squares (about 1/3 the way done), jelly roll, rag, crazy (combined with embroidery practice), and cathedral window (in planning mode). I will study each one, design the quilt according to common variations on the pattern, and make the quilt so it obviously the pattern and stands out a little.

The embroidery stitches are all the basic stitches and their less basic variations, along with some fillers from Needle 'n' Thread. However, because I like Chinese embroidery, I have included stitches from a Chinese embroidery book Mom and Dad got me for Easter. I am not studying Chinese embroidery, but think the stitches could be used in other embroideries. To become vaguely familiar with embroidery embellishment techniques, I will also learn beading, couching, applique (combined with quilting), goldwork, and ribbons. For things technically different than embroidery, but very closely related, I will practice crewel, whitework (cutwork, drawn thread) counted thread (specifically needlepoint, cross stitch, and chicken scratch, the first two because I should and the third because it is pretty), and within specific embroidery traditions, I will learn Ecclesiastical, Jacobean, and blackwork embroidery, because I am a nerd. Jacobean and crewel will probably combine, but not all crewel is Jacobean and vice-versa.

For now, knitting is not as important as quilting and embroidery, and I will probably have to practice on toys or clothing because I am not comfortable making my own patterns or adapting other people's yet.

I have a feeling art will be extremely helpful, but I do not know why yet. Just in case, I am learning drawing, watercolors, and photography. Drawing will obviously be useful for making my own embroidery or applique patterns and quilting templates, and photography for item listings, but there are probably far more reasons to learn art. I might figure it out eventually.

Interior design will help me understand how and why people decorate, and how I can make items that would work well in people's homes.

Sewing is the least urgent, but will help me learn more about how fabric and sewing works in general, which might give ideas on how to make quilts more interesting or unique. It will also improve some items in the shop like towels and let me add some new kinds of items to the shop.

Whenever possible, the stuff made for practice is posted in the shop, like with this embroidery sampler. That seems to work best for embroideries, maybe because it is so easy and quick to undo mistakes and redo it the right way, compared to how long that takes for knitting and quilting.

Hopefully sometime in the next five years after all this work, I can be a certified master knitter, quilter, and embroiderer.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Whoop Whoop Friday

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday.

I spent a ton of time this week preparing hanging towels for the shop, and managed to finish four of them, two of which were disasters because I am not very experienced with regular sewing like this.

Two of the towels came out well.
Sorry for the bad webcam picture.
Mom taught me to do buttonholes by machine, too.

The bigger finish was finishing the studio yesterday, with help from Dad. But I successfully hung up the pictures and other wall things by myself with a hammer or drill.

The studio will normally only look this clean for an hour during the day or overnight, so I took the pictures before starting work.

The stuff in the baskets are sign posts for craft shows.

The weird poles are dismantled craft show displays.

This is the craft show chair, because I am lazy and did not want to move the chair from the sewing machine to the corner so often.

The other finish was pebbling practice. I only pebbled one and a half potholders because I decided I hate pebbling.

I was sort of hoping they would be good enough for the shop, but the navy blue thread was too dark for the lighter parts. Instead, Mom gets them.

I had never pebbled before and will probably do it again once I get used to other FMQ patterns.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Studio Tour

Dad and I mostly-finished the studio today. It is in the attic/basement-like room and has room to spread out projects.

Some things are borrowed, shared, mine, or made with things we had around.

Dad made the rack and the shelves, cut the wood to the right size for the ironing board, and covered up the random hole in the wall:
Antique crates from my room, for patterns and crafting books, and there is a toast holder or some other kind of holder (not sure) for rulers, templates, and cereal boxes that will become templates as needed.

The pillow forms and quilting hoop will go on the shelf, once another shelf is added.
He also made the wooden table years ago.

The ironing board is set on top of a folding table for my craft show booth and fits a whole yard of fabric. Mom was brave and helped me with the staplegun.

Sometimes Dad needs the plastic table for Wittenberg Door Campus Ministry, but the rest of the time, it is a good sewing table, and the wooden table is a good cutting table. Pushed together, they are big enough to back a small quilt.

This is Dad's old footlocker, which will be used for scraps once the rest of the weird old musty smell has been banished.
Used filing cabinets for fabric:
I got the fabric box a long time ago and now it has novelty fabric. The knitting bag on top of the filing cabinet has batting and muslin scraps.

Project storage, and a crate also used in the craft show booth (unpainted side down). The drawers were among the first office furniture I got specifically for Ingleside Creations, along with a tub, clipboards, little stacking drawers, and file holder thingy.

The bookshelf does not fit books, but it works well for button jars and things. The thing in front of it is an old family sewing box that I am borrowing. It has thread and bobbins right now.

The red lamp looks like a space shuttle.
The blue thing is a light box for tracing embroidery patterns onto fabric. I have had it for a few years, but not used it much before this year.

The little lamps were my grandparents', but nobody was using them, and I already had the big one. Embroidering is so much easier when everything is evenly lit. The Ott lamp doesn't work, but it has a magnifying glass.

I am also using my grandma's old cello chair, because it is the right height for a short person like me to comfortably sit at a table and sew.

Mom also got me a big trash can and spray bottles (for starch and water) that spray instead of splurt! They work so well.

I still have to hang up pictures and things, but aside from that, the studio is done.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Log Cabin T-Shirt Quilt

The t-shirt quilt is done, and the customer received it today and is extremely happy with it!

It is an improv log cabin quilt, made into sections that were pieced together. I know where all the sections were, but hopefully it is not obvious to most people. That kind of defeats the purpose of an improv quilt.
Quilt hanger: Dad

The knit fabric was less finicky than I thought it would be and everything was much easier than expected.

Apparently, most people used iron-on stabilizer, but I thought that would make the quilt too stiff. My friend wanted a nice, soft, cozy one, and instead, I used freezer paper on the back of the t-shirts, to tear away after sewing the blocks together, and once the t-shirts were bordered with the regular cotton, almost a quart of starch dabbed onto the t-shirts with a sponge.
Favorite logo.

None of the t-shirts have turquoise in them, but turquoise goes well with green and grey, which go well with yellow and purple. Also, purple, red-orange, yellow, and turquoise match, but even if the red-orange is removed, they still work. I actually forgot that one of the potential t-shirts was blue and thought it was turquoise, but because of the other colors, it worked out fine. Next time, I will definitely make a paper list of all the colors in the t-shirts instead of keeping it in my head.

I found several reference photos for different possible designs and my friend picked out the one to use, and approved the colors, but other than that, said I should make it however would work best. That is a scary thing to say. If anybody else tells me to pick out the fabric and does not approve it, I would have to say something like, "Please pick out the fabric, or at least approve it, before you receive a Civil War quilt when you actually wanted a retro quilt."

In this case, that was very helpful because I ran out of fabric, did not have a ride to the fabric store, and had to dig through the small stash, and also did not have to photograph the fabric, warn her the lighting might not show the true colors, and wait for her approval. Because of that, I could work on the quilt almost constantly from May 27 through May 29, and finished it on May 31. The quilt was too big for the laundry/sewing room and the storeroom was still chaotic, so I worked on it when Mom and Dad were gone and I could commandeer the dining room.

Mom and Dad were very busy on Thursday, when I got the fabric, but still helped me get to Jo-Ann and the quilting store. One of the turquoise fabrics bought on Thursday had butterflies on it, not flowers, but at first look, I thought they were flowers. That turned out better than I thought it would at first because I still had some good turquoise scraps the right size from other projects.

All the fabrics used. Eight of them were from the stash or scrap bag: far left log, bottom log, third log from bottom, first log left from center, third log left from center, second log up from center, third log up from center, far right log.

To prevent as much style confusion as possible, anybody who orders any quilt has to fill out an application that asks about the kind of prints the person likes and the preferred colors. Then I can use that information to design a quilt that matches the person's style.

In my friend's case, I checked that she did not want novelty fabrics, and sent her a color scheme picture for approval. I know her pretty well and can guess the kind of fabric she likes, especially because she and her roommate share a comfort quilt I made and they like the fabric in it. It tended to the vaguely contemporary and not quite traditional side, with as few geometric prints (plaid, stripes, ikat, etc.) as possible. I had to use plaid and diamonds because of the fabric shortage, but the only stripes are made from lined up things like flowers or dots.

Also, no solids, but tone-on-tone or batik fabric instead, which can fulfill the same purpose as solids under the right circumstances (giving the eye a place to rest). Because the t-shirts drew the eye, the other fabrics just had to add interest, and solids would not do that well. The turquoise prevents the other fabrics from blending into the logos too much and not letting the eye move around as easily.

Now I know the actual amounts necessary, and not to get fat quarters--twenty-one prints in 1/4, 1/3, or 1/2 yard cuts. The whole thing, from ironing the fabric to trimming the threads, took 40 hours. I did not expect it to be that long at first, but there was no way to make an assembly line system.

I had to piece some of the strips together, because of the fabric shortage. I tried to hide it by stitching in the ditch on all the seams that are supposed to exist.

Hopefully the uneven quilting will not distort too much, and medium grey thread blended in well with everything. I am not good enough at FMQ to evenly quilt anything that way, and straight lines across would look weird on the logos. FMQ might look weird on the logos, too, but that might just be me.

Backed in flannel.

On this quilt, I got too much thread for quilting (4 spools), but now know 2 spools is enough, and 2 spools for piecing.

To prevent unnecessary shifting while quilting, I basted each t-shirt down, which left tiny pricks that "heal" after a couple washes. Next time, I will use safety pins all around the logo instead, but not on it, instead.

The Baylor bear is so cute, but a little crooked.

The binding is scrappy and mostly turquoise so the color does not look too random. It has two purple bits, though, just for fun.

Square corners because I am bad at mitered corners.
T-shirt quilts are probably the only quilts I will make that should be washed on the delicate cycle and hung to dry. This will prevent the logos from cracking and peeling, because t-shirt logos hate friction and heat. Normally, I wash quilts however will get them cleanest fastest, but not this kind.

If anybody wants a t-shirt quilt with this pattern, she can order here, or if a different pattern would be better, email or send an Etsy conversation through Ingleside Creations (right corner in the header, across from the shop name). I probably will not make the quilt in 96 hours, because that was insane, but it should take no more than 4 weeks after the t-shirts arrive.