Monday, November 4, 2013

Outline Quilting

This rail fence quilt features a quilted grid on the main layout and a wavy line in the 1" accent sashing. I was temporarily stumped on how to quilt the outer border until I realized it would be a perfect candidate for outline quilting. For busy prints such as this, outline quilting is good practice for learning to quilt in different directions and double-stitching on your domestic machine. I also outline quilt applique shapes to get them to lay flat and reinforce the applique stitches, but there's no applique on this quilt!

Using the same orange thread throughout (Presencia's 50/3 100% cotton), I stitched around the outer edge of this flower. Sometimes I would stitch the inner parts of the flower and other times I would elect to travel to an adjacent flower to continue quilting.

Filling in open spaces with loops and meandering lines is a means to travel and bridge the quilting design from one flower or leaf to the  next. I also stitched-in-the-ditch along the sashing/border to move up the edge, then continued stitching out into the open area to outline quilt additional prints.

By outline quilting the flowers and some leaves, the quilting density is a bit heavier. This gives the outer border more stability than quilting loops alone. Also, the orange thread both blends into the background and highlights the flowers. I'm very pleased with the final result!

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs

Monday, October 28, 2013

My New Serger! Bernina 1300

Here she is, my new baby! She makes alterations and finished edges so much faster and easier than my regular sewing machine, which I keep set up for piecing and quilting.

I chose this particular machine, Bernina 1300, because it also converts to cover stitch for an all-in-one machine. Sometimes a separate cover stitch machine is preferred to compliment a separate serger but I decided to go with this singular model.

My three guide classes were expertly taught by Jackie at A Common Thread in Lake Oswego, Oregon. read your manual and attempt to thread the machine beforehand. Using different colored threads will help you see what each thread is doing as it stitches out. I took none of these steps before the first class so it took me awhile to get going. Now I'm flying and love sewing on this serger!

I also purchased the Serger Technique Reference Book by Bernina. Lots of helpful photos and clear step-by-step instructions. It always takes a bit of patience, trial and error, and determination to learn something but the effort is worth it!

My first alteration on this machine was making Hannah's trail run t-shirt (from last post) a little bit smaller. Even a women's small is too big for her so I took in the sides with a 4-thread overlock stitch and hemmed the sleeves and bottom edge with a coverstitch.

I used small spools of Dual Duty XP thread, which worked well and color matched. My favorite thread to use is Superior's Omni Thread.

Hannah is going to costume design for The Young Professional show at Oregon Children's Theatre, A WWII Radio Christmas, 1943 edition. This machine will be great for her to use!

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wonder Woman & Bat Girl Costumes

Hannah and I ran the Multnomah Falls Trail Run this past Sunday, despite the wacky weather. We started at Wahkeena Falls, ran past the visitors center and climbed uphill for 1.5 miles to the top of Multnomah Falls. The original plan was to make a 5.2 mile loop, but because of fallen trees blocking the path, we turned around at the top and went back to the start to finish the race. Total distance was a good 4+ miles.

An added incentive was a costume contest, superhero style. I went as Bat Girl and Hannah was Wonder Woman--the cutest version yet! For the Bat Girl look, I scored a costume from Goodwill. Took the bat logo off the dress and attached it to a moisture-wicking running shirt. Used the belt, cape, and arm covers from the kit. Wore my black running tights and added a pair of yellow socks from Target--cut off the toes/heels so I could pull them up as leg warmers and they worked great!

Though there were a few bat outfits, there was only one Wonder Woman. Found a Curves red athletic shirt at Goodwill, made a WW logo out of yellow felt and permanent black marker and sewed that to the shirt. Made the skirt from blue spandex by making a 1.5 inch casing at the top to insert the elastic and a seam at the back--no need to hem. Added a strip of gold stiff ribbon with a 4" elastic band at the back for the waistband, not sewn to the skirt, just positioned over it. Gold lame was wonder-undered to stiff interfacing + elastic at the back for the crown, along with a red star fused to the front (use a pressing cloth with such delicate fabrics.) Made a red cape out of waterproof nylon. Used sticky Velcro to attach the cape to the shirt. I recommend the sewn-on Velcro but sticky was all I had on hand. Used an old graduation honor gold cord to attach a lasso to the skirt. Sewed through the three loops at the top to hold it in place. Silver spandex was used to make armbands. For each rectangle, I sewed a tapered seam, wide at the top of the forearm and a bit more narrow at the wrist. Finished off with black running tights and Nike red running socks.

Believe me,  you really do believe you have super powers while in costume. I had to walk a majority of the uphill but on the downhill, I descended with strength and was able to overcome at least one person who had passed me earlier. Sweet victory.

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Modern Log Cabin Blocks for Christmas!

Taking some blocks from another quilt I was working on, I decided to slice and dice them and add additional strips to make them into a modern version of Log Cabin blocks. These are flannel fabrics spanning the last decade of my stash.

The centers have a focus fabric of either red or white poinsettias, framed by green, red, and white prints. And to add interest, I have a red polka-dot on black fabric. The strips of varying width are sewn around like a picture frame/color story block. I considered going all red on one side and green on the other to create a Sunshine & Shadow block but I chose modern over traditional this time.

I love the red and white candy-stripe fabric shown in the block below, right. There's just a small amount to work with so trying to stretch it as far as possible!

I'm hoping to end up with at least 12 blocks, which I will float against a solid colored background, perhaps with a slightly wonky on-point setting. Who knows, but Christmas is coming and I'd like to get this one finished!

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Joy's Bridesmaid Dress

This bridesmaid's dress of deep turquoise dupioni silk was originally worn in a wedding 5 years ago. The dress was given to Joy, who needed a solid colored bridesmaid's dress. But the bride wanted each attendant to add some color. That's where I came in.

As a quilter, alterations are rare but I don't mind taking a stab at it. I have tons more confidence with quilt making, that's for sure! I procrastinate when I lack confidence so I had to mull this over and visualize how it was going to go down before I started ripping seams. I took lots of photos to remember the original look!

I removed 2" from the length of the bodice and took out the zipper.

After reattaching the bodice to the skirt and removing some of the fullness near the top of the skirt, I shortened the zipper and sewed it back into place. Then I prepared a ruffled strip of raspberry organza, which was layered on top of a black organza strip to frame the bright color.

The fabric has a nice shimmer that adds a touch of elegance and class to the already fine fabric this dress is made of. 

The most time consuming aspect of this project was gathering the ruffle and adjusting it to the skirt of the dress.

Here's the result, with just a bit of color showing at the hem. When Joy tried it on, she was delighted with her "party dress".

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer Highlights: Weddings & the Sisters Quilt Show

As the first day of school today marks a rapid transition into fall, there are summer events worth highlighting and remembering.

We were delighted to welcome Sarah home in June from Indonesia so she could fulfill bridesmaid duties at the union of her friends, Charis & Josh.
The second weekend in July marked the 38th annual Sisters Quilt Show, the fourth time I've gone round the mountain to attend. Lots of  beautiful quilts with a strong modern influence among the traditional. We spent 3.5 hours walking, snapping photos, and enjoyed every bit of it!

We had a double treat in Sisters: the quilt show on Saturday and Kaitlyn & Elliot's wedding on Sunday at a local ranch.

Martin had the privilege to conduct the ceremony and it was one of the most beautiful events we have ever witnessed. We were able to meet up with three of our kids and enjoy the day together celebrating!

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quilts & washing machines

Earlier this summer, the washing machine went on the blink! Ironic and inconvenient at the same time. Ironic because I last posted on removing renegade dyes from quilts and recently on washing quilts. Inconvenient because all four of my kids had returned home with piles of dirty laundry. We revisited our local Laundromat, surviving until things got resolved. First world problems.

Long story short, I eventually fixed the KitchenAid washer I've owned since August 1989. It's been so great for washing fabric, quilts, and soaking batting. I like that I can manipulate the dials and not have to override a lid lock or a locked-in wash cycle.

While you can still buy a new traditional style washer without a lot of bells and whistles, the quality of both low-end and high-end equipment isn't long-lasting. One technician said today's appliances will last 5-10 years. I'd be more inclined to take a chance with a good used machine. No guarantees.

Thanks to the University of YouTube and Robert at DeWhitt's Appliances, I learned much about basic troubleshooting a washer's ills--faulty lid switch, timer, broken coupler, etc. We tested the lid switch with a meter and it tested in good working order. Then we tested the timer which appeared to be dead, so we pulled it and I took it with me on my tour of appliance shops that have used parts.

When I took off the machine's front casing, I realized the problem--burned out wiring. I called to get a replacement that is no longer available, but called Robert and he gave me a connector with newer wiring that my husband joined to the washer. A free fix! And it's been working for several weeks now.
It's important to keep your inner and outer wash baskets clean. The outer basket tends to collect dirt along its walls. This greasy, grimy dirt can transfer back onto clothing and quilts and it's not easy to remove. There are machine cleaners on the market, but you can also fill the washer with hot water, add a cup of bleach and let it sit for a bit. I use a soft brush to scrub out the wash basket holes before spinning the water out. Run water through once more before putting in a load of laundry. For the zealous cleaner, a complete dismantle of the inner/outer washers is really recommended for a thorough clean.

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to remove renegade fabric dyes

After I washed and dried the batik quilt to remove a few marking lines, there were some pink streaks of dye on the blue batik. Ugh! I popped the quilt into the washing machine for a rinse cycle only, added a Color Catcher by Shout--looks like a white dryer sheet--and it picked up the renegade dyes the second time around.

Lesson's always wise (the first time around) to use a dye catcher when washing batik or any other fabric that might be a "bleeder". With treatment, the problem usually corrects itself.

Two other products, Synthrapol and Retayne, are also used to treat these types of fabric. I use Synthrapol when I know there is excess dye in a fabric. I usually wash those fabrics before cutting them for a quilt. When I suspect a fabric in a quilt might bleed but I did not prewash or pre-treat the fabric, I will use Retayne. This product keeps the dye from transferring to another fabric.

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs

Monday, May 27, 2013

Quilting Batiks--Part 2

The batik quilt I've been quilting on for-e-v-e-r is finally finished. It's the pattern Yellow Brick Road (Atkinson Designs) and is my resume of stitches, the ultimate sampler of designs I've used in my own quilts and to teach others. Every fabric is quilted with a different design.

I used Presencia's 50 wt. cotton thread--color #106 to quilt a very organic version of Dianeshiko I learned from Diane Gaudynski herself. She uses silk thread and wool batting to show off her perfect form and technique that is so incredibly lovely.

Mine is more funky to say the least! I drew a 1/2" grid in this space and quilted continuous curves on either side of the line, working vertically and finishing with the horizontal lines. I use the ditch seam line to travel to any unfinished lines to complete the quilting.

When it's completed, it looks like cathedral windows, little pumpkin seeds, a nice background fill design.

The blue patches featured some sort of feather I quilted a shell template with pebbles added to fill the background.

I took a basic template outline and redesigned it for continuous quilting...filled in the detail to make a modern flower design and added some additional echoing. Really like this one!

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs

Friday, May 24, 2013

Matchstick Quilting

Matchstick quilting is a simple, no-mark free form design that is beginner friendly and quick to quilt. (Click on the photo for a closer view). 

Stitching horizontal lines of varying widths gives a nice surface texture to this orange batik that looks like a sunset sky.

Top Thread: Superior Thread's King Tut (Color 912--St. George)
Bobbin Thread: Isacord (Color: Wine)

Matchstick quilting can be completed using a walking foot. The walking foot provides some control with the feed dogs up. The foot has openings on either side that serve as a guide to see previously quilted lines.

Finish a line of quilting by stopping the needle in the "ditch"--the sewn seam joining two pieces of fabric.

Pivot and stitch in the ditch for 2-5 stitches, depending on the spacing width desired for each line.

With needle down in the ditch, pivot the needle and reposition the quilt to begin another line of quilting.

Continue in this manner, varying the width of the lines. Sometimes it's easier to backstitch in the ditch rather than turn the quilt around completely.

The final line here is quilted about 1/8" away from the outside seam (the ditch). Take a few small stitches at the end and leave thread ends to knot off and bury in the batting.

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Quilt Market meets Portlandia by carrie bloomston

Quilt Market: It's a trade show for shop owners but includes teachers, designers, and the creative crew who are trying to find their place in this world. Spring market rotates to 5 different cities so 2008 was the last time all were gathered in my hometown.

The event kicks off with Schoolhouse...8 hours of 15 short classes featuring current trends in the market. So much has, online shops, modern, youthful designers barely out of high school and the entire state of Utah presenting.

There's no logical strategy for visiting all 975 booths, but I knew to sprint to Gen Q Mag's booth to claim a free awesome charm pack of Moda's Simply Style by Vanessa Christenson (modern, youthful designer...also from Utah).

I stopped by the booths of those I saw at Schoolhouse, including this girl:

Amanda Murphy, author of Modern Holiday (C&T Publishing)...a graphic designer who breathes fresh energy into the look of modern/tradition. Definitely knows her stuff about visually aesthetic pleasures to sew up and I bet she got good grades in school too.
Because my last name is Baggs, people wonder whether I make bags for a living. I do not, but Nicole Mallalieu of You Sew Girl!  taught me to avoid a "saggy" bottom in a bag by inserting template plastic into the base. That's the trick and it really makes a good bag design into something great! That and a bit o' classy hardware like O-rings set them apart from the rest.

This Australian designer offers computer-aided drafted (CAD) full-size heavier paper patterns and industry construction tips with helpful, descriptive photos. Get that information into your head when you see her patterns are priced a bit higher to simply cover her production costs on another continent. Bags, hats, dresses, skirts--her finished work is the most professional I have seen. Plus she's super friendly, patient, and happy to answer how-to questions.

Finally, I got to meet local designer, Violet Craft That's her real name, not her stage name. She has a marvelous fabric line "Waterfront Park" by Michael Miller featuring a print of the Portland bridges so shops can take a bit of the city home with them.

Yesterday ended with Hannah's performance at Curious Comedy Theatre's Friday Night Fights We called the phone book and here's who showed up to support our girl and the six other cool teenagers who punished another team of wise-cracking adults to WIN AGAIN!

A great hour of entertainment for only 5 bucks. Catch their next show on Friday, June 7 at 10 p.m.

Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs

Friday, April 26, 2013

Quilting batiks

I have just a few squares to quilt on a batik quilt featuring many of the free motion designs I've used over the years. Each print features a different design:
 Meandering Triangles

Echoed Swirls

Wiggle Worms (thanks be Diane Gaudynski)
Molten Lava

Leaf Print Outlined + Meandering Leaves

Leaf Print Outlined + Echoed

Teardrops (L) + Flower (R)
Clamshells (above) Meandering Starbursts (below)
Echoed Freeform Feather
Wavy Grid
Curly Swirls
View of the backing fabric and feather stencil design
Backing laid over front border & binding
Sarah will have this on her bed when she comes home from Indonesia next month, where she has seen the men print batik fabric. She also taught me the proper way to pronounce "batik". The k is silent and there is a heavy accent I can't quite emulate. Lots of her clothes have been made from batik this past year and she's bringing home some remnants! Yes, I'm excited!
Copyright ©2013, Sharon Baggs