Monday, April 18, 2011

My Doll Quilt Swap Revealed (And Received!)

One of the best things I love about Flickr is the sewing community.  There is such a huge sewing support system on there who will give you critical feedback on your pieces and lots of encouragement.  I've made many good friends through Flickr and have acquired a good handful of beautiful quilted pieces through swaps.  If you are sewing/quilting and don't know about swaps, make a Flickr account and search for "sewing swaps" and a bunch of groups will pop up.  I give all credit to swaps for helping my technical skills and making me a better designer and quilter.

One of the most prestigious swaps out there is the Doll Quilt Swap.  More than 200 people sign up to do it but they only keep it to 200 people to participate so everyone is chosen by lottery.  You are then given a partner and are to make them a mini quilt of their style and likes.  This was the first time I applied and got in to play!  It was very exciting.  My partner was Kimmie and she is one of our "Swap Mamas" so that was kind of intimidating!  Her likes are red, black, and white, polka dots, sewing notion themes, and Wizard of Oz.  Her style is different from mine so I found this exciting and challenging.  The one thing we both agree on is NO WONKY!  We love clean, straight edges and designs that are given a purpose so that was awesome for me.  We had 3 months to get this quilt done and no surprise here, I finally started working on it a week before it was due!  I always knew I wanted to do squares in squares block but had a hard time figuring out what to put in the middle.  Inspiration finally struck the week it was due.  I think this quilt is something Kimmie is going to love because it holds all her favorites and surprisingly, it has my style in it too with the block letters and straight and simple designs!

DQS10 Sent

And look at what my partner, Lori, gave me!!!

DQS10 Received

This quilt has my favorite colors (aqua, pink, and red) and the squares are polka dots or those cute Japanese fabric characters I love.  Not only did she make me this quilt but made Gavin the little bunny who has his own quilt!  G loves it.  We named him Bobo.  And she also gave me a charm pack of City Weekend, one of my favorite fabric lines!

This swap was so awesome, I can't wait to do it again!  Hopefully I'll be able to get in to play this year!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just a quick note.


Just a quick note to say that Rita from Red Pepper Quilts had a post a few months back about washing batting. I meant to add that to the list of links on the pre-washing post but I forgot! She gives some very useful information so if you haven't read it yet, check it out!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Sewing 101: Pre-Washing Fabrics

Hi there!

I was able to post this earlier than I thought, so I hope you enjoy!

Today in our Sewing 101 Series I'm going to be discussing pre-washing your fabrics. Let me start off by saying that there are many different approaches to washing your fabrics, but I'm going to share the ways that work best for me. There are a lot of different videos online that demonstrate how to wash fabrics and clothes so if the ways I present don't work for you or you have special fabrics, watching some videos on youtube may be a good way to learn! Also, this is going to be a lengthy post! I tried to do my best to keep it as concise as possible, but also informative!

In my demonstration photos I will be using a cotton fabric (LizzyDish to be exact!), since that is what most quilting fabrics are. I will also mention a little bit about flannel and linen. If you have other types of fabric you would like to know how to wash, scroll down to the bottom for some links that I've posted!

So, why should you pre-wash fabrics?
Well, most fabrics have a 3-5% shrinkage rate. This means that when they become wet and heated they will shrink up. This could be bad news if you spent a lot of time on a quilt, but didn't allow for shrinkage in your seams because the seams could easily rip in the wash. Shrinkage will vary depending on your fabric quality. Most high-end fabrics will withstand washing pretty well, but I personally pre-wash all my fabrics. Also, pre-washing will eliminate any excess dye and any chemicals from manufacturing that could be on your fabric. (Chemicals sounds harsh and scary, but don't worry it's not going to kill you or anything! Just think of it as dirt that got on it while they were making it and shipping it to you.)

Now, first things first, make sure you know what type of fabric you are dealing with. Chances are if you bought it you know what it is! Most quilting fabrics are cottons and if you check the manufacturers website they will usually tell you whether it is machine washable or not. You can find out the manufacturer by looking on the selvage of the fabric.

There are 2 ways to wash.
By machine, or by hand. Either way you want to use a Phosphate-free detergent! This will ensure that there is less damage to the fibers and it will ensure that your colors stay brighter longer. The label will usually tell you if it's phosphate free or not. I always use Woolite because it is very delicate on fabric.

Machine is obviously much faster, but can leave you with a big wad of jumbled fabric if you aren't careful. Because the machine agitates the fabric so much it can can cause the edges to fray and then before you know it all the threads can get tied in knots. These can be easy to get it out, but you will lose quite a bit of length from your fabric so beware. A great way to solve this problem is by serging the edges before you put them in the wash. This way, the edges are "sealed" and they won't fray in the wash. If you are going to machine wash, you may want to run an extra rinse cycle depending on how much fabric you put in to make sure all the excess detergent is out. (The more fabric, the more you should rinse).

Because I don't have a serging machine, I usually hand wash my fabrics. Plus I'm just kind of addicted to it. I find it very relaxing, but I may just be weird! Here is a list of things you will need for hand washing:

  • A sink or bathtub*, preferably both.
  • A phosphate-free detergent
  • Several old towels**
  • A fan that can sit on the floor
  • Clean hands***
*If you don't have a bathtub or are tight on space you can also fill a large container with water, but you will have to refill it several times so I suggest placing it in the bottom of your shower for easy refilling.
**The more fabric you are washing the more towels you will need. If they are thin, you will probably need to double up to prevent water from leaking through.
***You may also need clean feet if you have a lot of fabric!

Ok! Here we go:

I use both my sink and bathtub because I find it to be the easiest way to switch back and forth between hot and cold water. Also, just like clothes, you should wash fabrics together that have like colors just in case one bleeds.
Turn on the hot water in your sink and when it becomes warm pull up the drain and add in a small drop of detergent. This will allow the detergent to mix into all the water.

When the sink becomes about halfway full add in your fabric.

This will significantly increase the water level so if you need to let out a little thats ok, but make sure to plug the drain back up. The water should be as hot as you can stand to have your hands in. The hotter you get your fabric, the more it will allow for full shrinkage. Once the sink is full you can turn the water off.

Once you get your fabric in the sink (in this case I have 2 yards) start rubbing small sections together in a back and forth motion. DO NOT ring your fabric, just rub back and forth. Ringing it will cause shape loss which can effect the way the pattern looks!

This is how it should look in your hands, and then just move your hands back and forth in circular motions.

After you feel like you have "massaged" every bit of the fabric, take it out of the sink and put it in the bath tub! Here's a picture of the water afterwards. As you can see it's sort of a pinkish gray color. That's partly from the pink dye and the dirt that was in the fabric.

Turn on the cold water. This shock of hot to cold will help the fibers shrink up to their final size.

I like to put my fabric directly under the faucet and let the water run over it for a few minutes, turning it every once in a while so that different sections are under the water.

Then, I like to hold the fabric up to the water and let the water run over different sections to really make sure the soap gets out. You will be amazed at how much soap still comes out of the fabric even though you only used a little bit in the sink.

Repeat the rinsing several times and then let the most of the water drain and gather up all your fabric. This is where you need your clean hands! Make a fist and push down on the fabric all over to get even more soap and water out. If you are washing a lot of fabric at once, get your clean feet and stomp on the fabric kind of like stomping grapes! If you are still seeing a lot of soap come out, you may want to rinse again and then repeat this step.

Once you're done in the tub, lay out your towels either on the floor, or a table if you are short on floor space and then lay your fabric on top. If you are really tight on space you can hang the fabric on your towel rack like you would your bath towels but I recommend putting a towel on the floor underneath because it will drip quite a bit.

If it's nice outside you can line dry your fabrics. I like to just put a fan by mine. You CAN put them in the dryer on a low heat setting but DO NOT put dripping wet fabrics in the dryer. Make sure they are just damp. If the fabric is dripping wet it could potentially start an electrical fire. The clothes you take out of the washing machine and put in your dryer have been thoroughly drained and aren't dripping so they're safe, so make sure your fabrics have dried a little bit before you put them in. They will only need a couple of minutes in the dryer.

When your fabric is almost dry, with just a little moisture left, iron your fabric. This the best time to iron it because the wrinkles aren't completely set in yet! Make sure you select the proper heat setting for your fabric.

The best way is to move your iron in tiny circular motions with just a little bit of pressure. Because it's still a little wet the fibers are still very flexible if you apply a lot of pressure and move the iron in only one direction it can slightly warp the fabric and therefore the design.

You will have a little fraying on the edges, but nothing drastic, just trim up and then fold your fabric for easy storage.

Jeni from In Color Order who was featured on our blog a couple of weeks ago has some great advice on folding fabrics on her blog!

I've washed linen using the same methods above and it was fine. However, some linens have a very thin weave and you need to be mindful of that when washing. Too much agitating on the fibers can cause extreme warping, so be a little more delicate. Also, when it comes to ironing linen can be a pain. Make sure your iron is very hot, and use a lot of steam if you can. You should also be mindful of warping when ironing linen. Make sure to press the fabric rather than moving the iron back and forth.

Flannel can really be treated just like the cotton, except that you need to be more mindful of the edges fraying. Some flannels can fray quite a bit. They also shrink A LOT. It's best to wash them in the hottest water possible and you should probably wash them twice for best results.

Here's a few links that might also come in handy:
Calli at Make It Do is doing a series on washing bedding so you may want to check that out too!

I hope this helped give you more information about washing your fabric!


P.S. Anna doesn't pre-wash her fabrics and all her quilts turn out beautifully! So if you can't pre-wash or just want to be like Anna then just allow for a little extra seam allowance.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sneaky Peaky.

Hello everyone!
Here's a sneak peak at our new line coming out May 31st!

These are just 3 of the 6 fabrics we plan to have and just 1 of the 2 color ways. We will have these available in both fat quarters and charm packs. Yardage will be available upon request but will NOT be listed for sale in our Etsy Shop. As I mentioned previously these will be available May 31st, HOWEVER, we will release them for Pre-Sale on May14th. Because we are ordering them from Spoonflower and the manufacturing process takes a little time, we wanted to offer the Pre-Sale option. We'll let you know the details for Pre-Sale a little sooner to the release date, so stay tuned!

Now, if you're wondering what happened to this, don't worry! Our goal for this summer is to release something new every month! So this kite fabric will make it's debut in June along with the rest of the Highest Heights collection and a quilt pattern!

Stay tuned for more sneak peaks and let us know what you think of the fabrics. And check back tomorrow for our next segment in our Sewing 101 Series! I'll be discussing pre-washing your fabric.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hang in there!

Hello everyone! I just stopped by to say that we haven't forgotten about you! Both Anna and I are coming up on the end of the semester and while for most people that just means studying for tests, for us it means working on very elaborate final projects for each class for the next 3 weeks! BUT we are also working on stuff for you guys! So hopefully later this week we will continue our sewing 101 series and I'll post some sneak peaks for ya. In the mean time sit tight, and if you want you can take a look at our pinterest pages for some pretty spring pictures! You can find our pinterest info on our new "about" page. And for some visual goodies, here are some things inspiring me right now:

And I'll add this last one, only because I'm incorporating it into one of my final projects!

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The {You Plus Me} Pillow

This pillow is a lot of firsts.  My first time to use Alexander Henry's Farmdale.  It's been my favorite fabric line for a long while now and I had been saving it for a "special treat".  My first time to make piping.  I had been putting it off for so long because I was scared of it.  Not sure why because it turned out to be not that bad and it makes the pillow look so cute!  And I used my first pattern to make this pillow!  Ahh...such a nice sense of achievement on this little baby.  It's going in our living room!

You Plus Me Pillow

You Plus Me Pillow

You Plus Me Pillow

I am in love with it.  I'm cutting up fabric for the You Plus Me Quilt and also putting together the pattern for ya'll!  Excitement is rapidly setting in!!!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sewing 101 [Rotary Cutters from Red Pepper Quilts]

I saw this post from Red Pepper Quilts tonight and quickly had to post it.  Another newbie advice: buy a rotary cutting mat and rotary!  They are so essential to make exact precise cuts.  Also, they save you so much time when cutting.  If you think that scissors are enough, you are DEAD wrong.  Sorry to be so blunt...but it's true!

Rotary Cutting
[source : Red Pepper Quilts]

I own the Fiskars Rotary Cutter and the Olfa Gridded Cutting Mat.  I have used both for the last 4 years and I am about to buy a new mat and cutter since they're both worn down from so much use through the years.  I'll be investing in an Olfa cutter this time.  Excited about that!!!

Oh yeah, and you need a straight edge to help you cut and measure.  I'm about to buy a new one of those too since all my numbers are rubbed off on mine.

Happy sewing!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Feature Friday {Noodle Head}

Today we have Anna from Noodle Head as our Friday Feature! 


She is a fabulous designer of one of kind bags, totes, clutches, and all sorts of cute and useful stuff.  She also makes quilts and pillows and beautiful things for the home.  Swoon.  We are so excited to have her stop by and answer some questions.  


1. How did you start sewing? 

I guess I started sewing when I was pretty little, with my mom. We would mostly sew clothes and of course I would get frustrated and give up and my mom would pretty much finish things up. It was great though, I didn't realize it until I got back into sewing the value of what she taught me.

sherbet pips

2. What do you sew on?

I bought myself an upgrade from my free sewing machine last summer. It's a Janome MemoryCraft 5200. I love everything about it except where the reverse button is, I always seem to forget.


3. What is your favorite thing to sew/quilt?

I think I'd definitely have to say any project that involves zippers. I think there's something just so useful about them that I just can't resist. I love making useful things.

more pillows

4. Who are your favorite fabric designers?

I guess I can't say I have a distinct favorite, but here's a little list: Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner, anything japanese, Amy Butler.


5. Do you have a favorite fabric line?

I think it changes by my mood and day. I think if I could pick a fabric that I love and always have on hand would be linen! I love how it gives breathing room to a design.


6. What is the best sewing/quilting pattern you've ever followed so far?

Wow, this ones a doozie! I don't think I've ever followed a quilting pattern, so I guess a sewing pattern that comes to mind is probably the Oliver + S Ice Cream Social Dress. But there are many many other hot on it's heels!

Isn't she lovely? Thank you Anna for letting us interview you. It was a pleasure!

Be sure to check out her blog for more tutorials, patterns, and more.

Happy weekend everyone!