Sunday, October 5, 2014

Potholders: Just Fooling Around

I'm not a football fan. In fact, sports in general simply bore me. But my sister is a rabid Steelers fan, so I made these for her birthday.

I found the Steelers fabric in a bag of scraps which was a gift from one of my other sisters. They were oddly shaped pieces which is why I had to piece the front of the potholders with that black strip. I backed them with some heavy red fabric that was the wrong weight for quilting or doll clothes. And instead of batting, I used some Table Felt (a.k.a. Silence Cloth) which had been sitting around in my sewing room for years. I think it will be thick enough for functional potholders. Even if it's not, I doubt if that will be a problem. My sister was so pleased with my gift that she plans to use them as decorative objects so that they will "stay nice." 

Because this was a small project, and I was making it up as I went along, I decided to experiment a bit with the binding. I used 2.5 inch wide strips cut crosswise to the grain of the fabric and folded it bringing the long cut edges together. (This is what I usually do with all my quilts because it protects the edge of the quilt which tends to get a lot of wear.)

 On one of them, I sewed the raw edges of the binding to the raw edges from the front of potholder using a 1/4 inch seam and using the standard method of mitering the corners. (Here's a tutorial if you've never done this before.) I brought the folded edge of the binding to the back and then glued it down using dots of Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It. (I also tried Jillily Studio's Appli-Glue and Elmer's Washable School Glue. I liked Roxanne's best. It's a little thicker and seems to grab hold more quickly.)

Having the folded edge of the binding glued down makes it a lot easier to machine stitch the other side of the binding because it can't shift and is not distorted by pins. And this is important because I was planning to attach the folded edge of the binding by sewing a line of stitches right next to the binding, in the ditch so to speak,  on the front of the potholder. I've found that if I use a thread color that matches the binding, the stitches blend in with the binding and do not really show up on the front of the quilt. On the back of the quilt, the stitches stay on the binding because the part that is folded to the back is wider than the part that is in front.

On the second one I sewed the binding to the back of the potholder. Then I brought the folded edge to the front and sewed it down by machine right on the binding. At the corners I sewed a little past the corner, then reverse stitched back to it before lifting my presser foot (with the needle down) and pivoting the potholder to go down the next side. In effect, I was back-stitching in both directions on each corner. (There's a close up below, though I don't know how well you can see it since both the binding and the thread are black.)

In this second method, I liked the reinforcement of the corners, but when stitching down the binding from the front, my stitches sometimes wandered off the binding in the back. But hey, it's just a potholder. And that's a liberating thought considering how tense I sometimes get about my quilts.

So on the whole I was pleased with my quickie project. I wish I had chosen a white or unbleached muslin for the backing so that the lines of quilting wouldn't show up so much. But as I said, it's just a potholder. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Carolina Chain

About two months ago I hurt my right shoulder. I'm not sure how I did it, but I was feeling pain whenever I lifted my arm up or to the side. And despite physical therapy, it got worse before it got better. I couldn't drive for a couple of weeks, and I couldn't even use a fork with my right hand. But the worst part was that I couldn't sew or quilt or wield my rotary cutter for what seemed like an eternity.

This was especially frustrating because just before my injury I had started a new project which I was eager to work on. I'd been watching one of Bonnie Hunter's Quilt-Cam episodes wherein she was sewing Carolina Chain blocks. This pattern had appeared in her "Addicted to Scraps" column in the May/June 2010 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine.They looked like such fun that I just had to start cutting and sewing them. Bonnie's are made with 2 inch strips, but I decided to cut mine at 2.5" inches. So my basic unit finishes at 6 inches instead of 4.5 inches, and my finished blocks measure 12 inches.

The basic unit is a modified Nine Patch. It's one of the easiest blocks I've ever sewn. No triangles or bias edges -- and only two spots where you're matching seams. Half are made with a dark background and half with a light background.

When four of them are joined together, a pattern of light and dark chains emerges.

This pattern would make a striking two-color quilt, but I've decided to go for a totally scrappy look.  However, I can see that I'm going to need lots more variety to really make it sing. 

Since this was a spur of the moment project, I'm planning to make it into another baby quilt. Because after two months of inactivity, I am really in the mood for a quick finish. 

Today I'm linking to "Let's Make Baby Quilts" at Michelle's Romantic Tangle.