Saturday, February 9, 2013

Learning New Things

It snowed a few inches here yesterday and I've been using the wintry weather as an excuse to catch up on some sewing. I also tackled two of my sewing phobias -- free-motion quilting and zippers!

On several of the blogs I read, fabrics are quilted with gorgeous shapes and patterns -- flowers, loop-de-loops, vines, you name it. I usually rely on good old straight-line quilting because it's easy and I doubted my cheap sewing machine's capabilities to do anything trickier, but I should have had more faith. After finally reading the manual cover-to-cover, I figured out that all I needed in order to free-motion quilt was to snap a little plate on top of the feed dogs. Done! I used the same straight stitch that I use for my regular quilting. I'm kind of embarrassed it took me so long to figure it out.

I did a practice run on a sample quilt sandwich, and while it certainly wasn't perfect and I think I need a higher-tech machine to really achieve anything exciting, I was successful in quilting a few basic patterns. It took a few tries to get the hang of the speed and motion (it's a real workout for your arms!), but I'm glad I finally know how to do it. I ended up making these oven mitts, using a free pattern from Skip to My Lou and some wavy quilting lines.

I also ordered a couple of zippers last week, deciding it was finally time to take the plunge and figure out how to sew them on. There are quite a few helpful tutorials I found via Pinterest, and I ended up consulting a few of them to figure out a method that works for me. Bottom line: zippers are not really all that scary! You just have to be mindful of how far the zipper is from your foot. (In one instance, I got a little too close and the zipper caught on the fabric when I tried to open or close it. It required a few extra stitches to pull the fabric out of the way, but I'm happy I was able to figure out a solution all on my own!)

I made two pouches: one from some awesome Rainy Day fabric I found on Connecting Threads, and the other from V and Co's Simply Color line with some leftover Pat Bravo fabric from last year's Aviary quilt. For the purple pouch, I figured out how to add a bit of fabric on either side of the zipper, allowing for a bit more room. I also boxed the bottom corners to allow for a wider storage space. Now that I can add zippers, I want to make all sorts of pouches in all sorts of sizes!


Yesterday, I made a curtain for a bookcase in my room that I recently repurposed for make-up/jewelry/random beauty stuff storage. I bought a larger bookcase for my actual books, and since then, I've spent the last few weekends purging and reorganizing my room. I have a pretty small room, so when it gets cluttered, it's really noticeable. I made a concerted effort to evaluate what I actually need versus what I was holding onto for sentimental reasons. I managed to get rid of six garbage bags full of stuff! It was a big task, but I'm much happier with my living space now.

Using this bookcase for storage allowed me to clear my dresser tops of all sorts of bottles and containers, but I wanted to be able to hide it all away. I had bought some storage cubes from IKEA which were supposed to go in my drawers but ended up fitting nicely on the shelf. When I saw that the Simply Color line (mentioned above) had hit stores, I knew the eggplant colorway would be perfect in my room, so I ordered two yards of the vine fabric. I measured the size of the book case, and made the curtain about 15 inches wider, just so it has that drapey, curtainy look. The height is just the selvage-to-selvage width allowing for a hem and the curtain rod opening at the top. (It is not a precise science!) I hung it on a tension rod and voila!

(Apologies for the not-so-great  pictures. My brother took my camera  with him on his Caribbean cruise, so I had to use my phone.)

I reorganized all of my sewing supplies, too, including my burgeoning fabric stash. I also bought a labelmaker, which I've been using to label everything. It's my new favorite toy! Additionally, I've started using plastic mesh bags to store the fabric and supplies for works-in-progress. It has gone a long way toward helping me keep my sanity in my sewing space -- which is, incidentally, also the dining room that I share with my (very patient) roommate. I see all these pictures online of dedicated craft rooms and huge sewing tables, and I get all kinds of jealous. I always wonder how non-rich, non-professional crafty people cope with real spaces.

I swear I will show pictures of Drea's quilt next time, but I just wanted to mention these little projects while they are still on my mind. As for the rest of this weekend, I might finally cut into my Liberty Lifestyle fabric that's intended for a second quilt of my very own. We'll see how brave I'm feeling!