Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weekender Sew Along: Installing the Zipper

I get the dubious honor of blogging about installing the zipper in my version of the Weekender Bag.  I chose a very obvious directional print for my exterior, and I was hesitant to cut the top panel pattern pieces out until I could really think the instructions through and determine which way I wanted the print to run.

After scouring the web for images of other people's bag, I decided that you have to choose the direction in which your print will run.  Because the pattern piece wraps across the top and down the sides of the bag, you could either have your fabric print run "right side up" when looking at the bag from the top, OR when looking at the bag from the side - but you can't have both.  For my bag, I chose to have the print "right side up" when viewing the bag from the side.

What this means is that I cut the pattern piece out from my fabric running in the opposite direction from the instructions.  The instructions tell you to lay out the pattern piece out at the bottom of your yardage with the fabric folded selvage to selvage.  To switch it, there is enough space left in the middle of your yardage (if you followed the cutting instructions) to lay your pattern piece out running down the middle of the yardage.

Then, my next challenge was to line up my print after the 2 pieces are sewed together.  To ensure a perfect match, I cut out my first pattern piece, then drew a line where the 1" seam would be sewn.

Then I folded down that line, and moved the fabric around on my remaining yardage until I found the exact spot where I should cut the second piece.  Then I overlaid the paper pattern piece onto the spot and cut it out.

To double check that my print lined up correctly, I set my machine to the longest stitch length and basted the entire seam.  It's easier to rip out a basting stitch than a regular stitch, and I had to do just that to adjust how the print was matching.  After I got it right, I went back and used a small stitch on the first 6" of each bottom side, just like the pattern calls for.

Side note - don't forget to first add the 3 pieces of interfacing to each top panel piece, like I did.  Oops!

After all of this, it's finally time to add the zipper.  I followed the pattern and laid the zipper down on the seam.  However, the pattern then calls for you to flip the piece over and attach the zipper from the right side of the fabric.  I'm not sure how this would be accomplished neatly, given that you have a zillion layers of fabric, interfacing and zipper tape to go through, as well as avoiding pins or clips.  So I just attached the zipper from the back.

Then use your seam ripper to remove the basting stitches.

After you pick out all of the threads left behind from the basting, your zipper is done and you are ready to move on to the next step!

Friday, August 23, 2013

QFB: Quilts for the Watertown Police Department

On Thursday, Natalie and I had the privilege and pleasure of delivering the first of the Quilts for Boston to the Watertown Police Department.

Handing off the Quilts at Watertown PD
l-r: Detective Donohue, Captain Rocca, Natalie, and Sergeant Hoiseth

Members of the Watertown Police Department were the first responders to the events that occurred several days after the bombing, on the evening of Thursday, April 18 through Friday April 19, 2013. You can find a description of the events here

Their bravery, hard work, and effort over two difficult days-- together with the work of other local law enforcement and emergency personnel -- resulted in the apprehension of the second bombing suspect without further loss of life.  They are heroes to everyone in our Greater Boston community and nationwide, and it was an honor to be able to present them with a small, but heartfelt, token of our appreciation, respect, and gratitude.

Trunk full of quilts
Here's what 20 handmade quilts look like -- they filled Natalie's entire trunk! 

Natalie and Alice carefully photographed each of the donated quilts before they were loaded into Natalie's car. We're in the process of creating a photo collection in which every completed quilt will appear, so please be patient! We know everyone who contributed blocks is eager to see their block(s) appear in a quilt and we are working hard to make that happen.

At Police Headquarters, we were met by Captain Thomas F. Rocca, Detective Kathleen E. Donohue, and Sergeant Wayne C. Hoiseth, who graciously accepted the quilts on behalf of the Department (and just as graciously agreed to pose for a few photos).

Handing off the Quilts at Watertown PD

This quilt was claimed by Detective Donohue:

A Quilt is Chosen

And the rest were taken upstairs to be distributed to officers and their families.

Quilt Hand Off

More quilts are scheduled to be delivered in the coming weeks, as completed quilts come streaming in from our members and the other generous volunteers who have given their time to quilt and bind them. Delivering these quilts was a simply amazing experience. As Natalie said afterwards, "giving away quilts is the best part of quilting!" We wish we could have brought each and every one of you with us, but rest assured that you were there with us in spirit! Thank you again, from the bottoms of our hearts, to all who participated in this project.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekender Sew Along: Creating Patchwork Panels

Weekender Pocket Quilt as You Go

When I learned that a handful of my fellow BMQG members were taking the plunge and making a weekender bag I decided to join in. I’ve had the pattern for ages, and even picked out fabric a while ago, so this was the motivation I needed to get started.

I decided to make a patchwork version of the bag, and making the patchwork panels has been really fun! It’s a lot like composing a small improv quilt. I have a few tips to share today for anyone else thinking of making a bag this way.

Basically, to make patchwork panels, you forgo using interfacing and instead cut the exterior pattern pieces out of a sturdy fabric such as duck cotton or canvas. Next, you cut batting that is ½ inch smaller than your exterior pattern pieces. Finally, you use a variety of scrap fabrics and use a quilt-as-you-go method to create quilted pattern pieces. Using the heavy duty base cotton and quilting creates structured pieces for the bag that do not require additional interfacing.

Weekender Pocket

Here are my tips:

·         DO read everything you can from those who have already made the bag before beginning! This goes for making the weekender in general, not just the patchwork panels, though it certainly helps ensure success when making modification to a pattern. I’d highly recommend reading Elizabeth Hartman’s post on her blog, Oh Fransson, about making her patchwork weekender, as she was the first person (that I am aware of) to construct the bag this way. This post details very clearly how she made her patchwork panels, and I followed this procedure pretty closely.  I’d also recommend checking out posts from Stephanie of Providence Handmade, as she wrote a very detailed post about modifications she made and what worked for her. There are also a ton of patchwork versions of this project that you can find on pinterest or flickr for inspiration!

Denim needle  

·         DO use a strong, sharp needle to make the panels. The cotton duck that others have recommended is very heavy-duty and I recommend using denim needles to create these panels.

adding a neutral scrap  

·         DO use a white or neutral fabric to hide dark seam allowances. For example, in the photo below if you look closely you can see that the darker color may show through the lighter fabric sewn on top. Follow this recommendation I added a scrap in the seam allowance to avoid this issue.

laying out my favorites  

·         DO join together smaller patchwork sections before adding them to the pattern piece.

·         DO go slow at first to stitch evenly.

·         DO pair together fabrics you love!

·         DO zigzag around the edge of each piece to prevent fraying

·         DON’T worry about perfection—this is about enjoying the process and making something you’ll love!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2013 Lowell Quilt Festival

We had another fabulous exhibit at the Lowell Quilt Festival this year. A huge thank you to our Show Chair Andrea and everyone who volunteered their time and energy to make this show the success that it was!!!  We truly cannot do a show of this magnitude without your help.

We had 51 amazing quilts on display, including several from our Madrona Road challenge, some of the completed Quilts for Boston quilts, and an incredible 12 entries for the Red Nails challenge

Appleton Mills really is the perfect backdrop to showcase our modern quilts.  I love the exposed beams and skylights!  There's something special about seeing a collection of quilts hanging together. 

And I love that we are the kind of show that let's you touch the quilts;-)  People were truly fascinated not just by the bold, graphic designs but the intricate quilting that adds another layer of texture to these stunning quilts.  Many people also mentioned to me how much they loved being able to just soak up the details of the quilt.  Something to remember during our usual show and tell, don't be so quick to put your quilts away.  People really want to see them!  

You can see all the quilts in our Flickr group but the photos really don't do them justice.  Several of our members have also done blog posts about the show.  Definitely worth reading for those who just can't get enough;-)

My Quilting Journey by Hemamalini
Laurie on Dresden Lane

2013 LQF Mosaic

1. Cracking Up, 2. On the Plus Side, 3. Sister Love, 4. Flea Frenzy, 5. PB-Complete, 6. Single Girl, 7. Dots and Ties, 8. Sandy's Star, 9. February Heart, 10. Stack of Books, 11. Little Bookworms, 12. Modern Pods, 13. For Beatrice Grace, 14. Curry Strings, 15. Madrona Road Challenges, 16. Blind Co-pilot, 17. Modern Hexagon, 18. Double Hex, 19. Stars Falling Over Texas, 20. Precious Why?, 21. Shades of Blue, 22. Sawtooth Star Variation, 23. Dancing in September, 24. Strings & Things, 25. Orange You Glad You Married Me, 26. Sea Adventure, 27. Star of the Sea, 28. Circle Peeps, 29. Tumbling Blocks, 30. Fugitive Memories, 31. Metro Hoops, 32. It Bugs Me!

Red Nails Challenge Quilts

1. Falling Petals, 2. Tree, 3. Shades of Grey, 4. Red Nails, 5. By Samantha Russell, 6. Run Janny Run, 7. On the Point, 8. Glam Rock Girl, 9. Winter is Coming, 10. By Jane Fitzpatrick, 11. Sticks and Stones, 12. Variation

Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekender Sew Along - Week 2

Have you picked your fabrics for the Amy Butler Weekender yet?  I found this awesome map print at Fabric Corner and paired it with apple green instead of my usual pink.

I decided to go the traditional route rather than quilting this so I had to cut out all those extra Peltex and Shape-Flex pieces.  The cutting definitely gets tedious but I took a tip from Stephanie and Natalie about the joys of sewing on vacation and decided to setup my "sweat" shop on the porch in Maine.

I did things a bit out of order and started with making my handles (Step 5).  They go together easily and the directions are clear.  Some people have suggested making them a bit wider.  I didn't but probably will next time, I'm afraid these are going to be hard on the shoulder.

Step 3:  I LOVE making bias binding!!!  I don't bother pinning, if you've got the overlap correct the needle will sit right inside the intersection.  I chain piece all my strips making sure not to get them twisted around.

I used Nancy Zieman's Wrap 'n Fuse Piping.  It really does bond so joining the ends at the bottom in Step 6 was a bit of a challenge but it saves you from step 3F, stitching the cording.  I didn't think it through before I started but I'm pretty sure that if you make two strips of piping each the length of 1 package of Wrap 'n Fuse you can get 1 pocket top and 1 main panel from each strip.

Step 4 is also well written and easy to follow.  I really like her Peltex sandwich method for putting together the various layers.  It prevents the bunchy look you get when you affix Decor-Bond to your exterior fabric and makes the bag nice and stiff.

The hardest part of Step 6 is pinning the straps through the layers of Peltex.  Next time I'll try a glue stick.  As suggested by some other bloggers, I stitched along my rows of topstitching up to the 9" mark and stitched an X at the top to make the straps more secure.

It definitely makes life easier to use Clover Wonder Clips to hold the layers together for Step 7.  

Remember to tuck your straps inside your pocket so they don't get stitched into your piping and just take it nice and slow.  It also helps to use coordinating thread.

And there you have it, your front and back bag panels:-)  Tune in next week when we tackle the dreaded zipper installation in Step 8;-)

Remember you can ask questions in our MQG Community Forum and add your progress pics to our Flickr pool.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lowell Quilt Festival Opens Today

The Lowell Quilt Festival opens today including our exhibit at Appleton Mills.  This amazing renovated shoe mill provides a stunning backdrop to our quilts!

We have 51 fabulous quilts on display including some of the completed Quilts for Boston quilts and an incredible 12 entries for the Red Nails Challenge.

The show is FREE and  runs Thursday 10-6, Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-4.  We will also be hosting a Gallery Night reception Friday 5-8.  Friends and family are welcome to attend.  

Appleton Mills is at 219 Jackson Street, Lowell.  There is metered parking in front and behind the building and also a parking garage across the street.  There is also a shuttle bus available from the main venue.  

We hope to see you there!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weekender Sew Along - Week 1

Welcome to week one of the Weekender Sew Along. Week one is all about cutting and getting prepared to begin assembling this bad boy.
First we need to cut out the pattern pieces. Luckily, there's only one place where you need to tape the pattern together.

Once you have your templates cut out, it's time to cut out your bag fabric, interfacing and lining. If you're doing the quilt-as-you-go method for your bag, you should make your panels this week. I'm sort of doing the quilt-as-you-go method, but with just one fabric. As a result, as you can see by the picture above, I cut my batting 1/2" smaller on all sides before I began quilting the panels.

Here you can see my quilted panel. This piece is the main bag panel. If you're looking to do a quilt-as-you-go version, check out Elizabeth Hartman's tutorial here.

If you're using the traditional method, once you cut your fabric and interfacing, fuse those bad boys together and get ready for week two!

Since we're all in this together, if you run into problems or have questions, I started a post on the MQG Community in the Boston MQG Group. If you have questions, feel free to post here: 

Friday, August 2, 2013


Are you ready for the Weekender?  This month we'll be hosting an Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag sew-along.  A group of us from the BMQG registered to go to the MQG Sew Down in September.  Once we got our tickets and finalized our travel arrangements the next big question was what bag are we going to make??? We've all been meaning to make the Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag so this seems like the perfect time.  Of course to get it done in time we were going to have to hold each other accountable and every time I mentioned our plan to someone else they wanted to do it also until the idea for a sew-along was born.  As Aimee says, "This way we'll have somebody to talk us down from the ledge!"  Obviously she's been on the receiving end of my late night sewing mishap meltdowns;-)

Monday we'll officially kick things off.  You have the weekend to finish gathering your supplies.  There are two basic versions of this pattern, the original and the quilted version à la the adorable Elizabeth Hartman (who incidentally will be teaching Perfect Quilted Totes at the Sew Down).  You will need:
  • The pattern, Weekender Travel Bag by Amy Butler.
  • Fabric(s) and interfacing according to the pattern.  If you are doing the patchwork version you won't need the interfacing, Peltex stabilizer or lining fabric.
  • 5 yds. of 6/32" cotton cording.  Note, this is the same as 3/16" cording (3rd grade math, equivalent fractions).  I am using Nancy Zieman's Wrap 'n Fuse Piping 3/16".
  • A zipper.  Read the various blogs for opinions on what style is best.  We won't need this for a few weeks so you have some time to decide.
  • Coordinating Thread.
  • It is recommended that you use heavyweight jeans/denim or size 16 sewing machine needles for sewing through all the layers.
  • Many people also recommend the use of a piping foot to make attaching all the cording easier.
  • Also suggested, Wonder Clips for holding all your pieces together while sewing.
For  local peeps, Quilter's Way will be stocking everything you need to make this.  Also the fabulous Jane has already made this bag so she's an excellent resource if you run in to trouble:-)  Does it make you nervous that Amy lists a seam ripper in the tools needed section?

The goal is to wrap this up August 31st which gives you just enough wiggle room to put the finishing touches on your bag and actually pack it before you leave for Philly.  Each week we'll have guest posts by BMQG members to help you along.  Ready for some fun?  If you have always wanted to make this bag or have nothing better to do this summer then you are welcome to join us too.  Just call us Weekender Support Central!