Thread Bunny

Quilting in real life

August 26, 2015
by bunny
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Scrappy Quilted Key Fobs

I am always on the prowl for easy, quick things to make. My guild is having an “In the Bag” swap, where we make something that would be found in a handbag and swap it with partners. I found that making key fobs is quick, super easy, and fun! So here is my tutorial.

This is a wristlet key fob, so you’re making a thin strip of quilted fabric, which is folded over to make a loop.

You will need:

  • Scrap fabric, measuring 3 x 11 inches (I raided my scrap basked and found lots of pieces)
  • 1 x 11-inch strip of batting (also great use of scraps)
  • Pliers, with duct tape to prevent scratching the hardware
  • Key fob hardware with split rings (I ordered mine from Amazon, about $9 for a package of 25)
  • Sewing machine, iron, thread

Start by trimming your fabric to 3 inches by 11 inches.

Use a fabric scrap

3 x 11 inch fabric scrap

Press both the long edges in about a quarter of an inch. I use a generous quarter inch, probably more like 1/3 inch.

Pressed long edges

Edges pressed in about a quarter inch

Tuck the strip of batting just under the long edge fold you pressed.

Batting in fabric

Tuck the batting into the fabric

Bring the long edges together and press. Line up those long edges as best you can–you want them to match!

folded fabric over batting

Fold the fabric over the batting

pressed quilt sandwich

Pressed quilt sandwich

The final width of the sandwich should be just over 1″. The key fob hardware is 1.25″ wide, and a 1-inch sandwich seems to fit perfectly after crimping.

Sew the quilt sandwich (no need to pin) with your walking foot, making three seams (sew the matched long edges first).

Quilt with walking foot

Quilt with the walking foot

Quilting lines on fob

Three quilting lines

Get your hardware out.

hardware and tools

Getting ready to attach the hardware

Fold the little bitty quilt in half long way, and insert the raw ends into the key fob hardware. Make sure both ends are all the way in and the wrist strap is lining up straight from the hardware.

inserting quilt into hardware

Insert the quilt into the hardware

Use your pliers to crimp the fob clamp all the way down. Squeeze as hard as you can, in several directions, to get it very firmly closed.

pliers to crimp hardware

Crimping the fob hardware

Add the split ring.

split ring attached

Key fob with split ring

Voila, you’re done! Super easy, super useful, and looks great.

Finished key fob

Finished key fob

It’s so easy and fun, that I’ve raided my stash and can’t stop making them!!

Lots of key fobs

So pretty!

April 26, 2015
by bunny
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Sunday Stash in black and white

I went to a local quilt shop yesterday, looking to match some fabric and find some more low-volume prints, maybe a book. The fabric I wanted to match was long out of print, of course, and their selection on cream-colored fabrics was not to my liking. It was very disorienting to walk out with purchasing a single thing!

But when I got home, these beauties had just arrived in the mail! Half-yard cuts of the Cleta collection from Art Gallery Fabrics and Cotton + Steel Black & White collection.

Cleta collection

Cleta collection from Art Gallery Fabrics (plus one Cotton + Steel half yard)

black and white

Cotton + Steel Black and White collection

March 15, 2015
by bunny
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50 Shades of Gray

So I’m totally in love with the color gray. I adore it. I attended a program on color theory and design and the presenter said, “I know you love gray, but it’s not even on the color wheel, so branch out a little!” And I thought “Nooooooo, I love my grays!”

I have a gray-and-white top quilt that needs to be finished, and it’s going to be the first quilt I keep for myself.

 

gray quilt top

Gray quilt top, with black and white cat

I made a sort of improv back with some more gray fat quarters.

Gray quilt back

Improv quilt back, gray

I’m working on a gray, white, and teal quilt for a friend. I think the grays make the solid color really pop!

Gray and teal quilt squares

Black, white, gray, and deep teal.

 

And I got so excited at buying grays, I decided to cut myself a jelly roll and some charm squares to have on hand for precut quilts. Here are about 44 strips in a homemade gray jelly roll!

Gray jelly roll

Homemade jelly roll of black, white, and gray fabrics

February 27, 2015
by bunny
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Been a Bit Quiet

I’ve been quiet on the blogging front for a few months. I got caught up in holidays, extra work, and snow, and the craft room has been mostly empty. I made a bunch of six-pocket totes for Christmas, but I haven’t finished any larger projects in a while. I had planned to do a series of posts reviewing my trip to QuiltCon, but I had to cancel the trip due to a family emergency.

In any case, here is a snow-day project I did with my four-year-old. Weeks ago she picked out this Moda Candy pack at the fabric store, and I was saving it for a crafty project. We got socked in with snow, and it seemed like the perfect time!

I found a half-yard of white fabric, turned over the edges to finish them, and then folded down about 2 inches of top to make a sleeve. Then I found some Steam a Seam and cut 30 small pieces. She picked up each square of fabric, and put it where she wanted it, and I ironed it down. She helped me count 15 seconds for each piece. Before very long we had a banner to hang in her room!

 

Banner

Banner for daughter’s room

September 28, 2014
by bunny
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Passion for Purple

Another finished project! This once was a surprise for a professional colleague, who puts on a conference I attend every year. She loves purple (as do I!).

Passion for Purple quilt

A Passion for Purple

This is a lap-size version of BQ from Maple Island Quilts, which is a satisfyingly large block to put together! In fact, I was working on a nearly king-size BQ when I realized I had enough black and white left to do this lap size quilt. I browsed my stash and shopped for truly stunning purples. I quilted an irregular grid in variegated purple thread (after starting off with white thread and not liking the look) and used Hobbs Tuscany wool batting.

Detail of quilt

Detail of quilt

Interestingly enough, the recipient of this quilt sent me a box of purple fabric she had “intended to do something with” and never got around to. She did not know I was making this quilt! So I used some of her fabric on the back to make this improv-style pieced back.

Backing of purple quilt

Backing

I had serious problems quilting this quilt, which mostly boiled down to the fact that I didn’t baste it well. I’m a bit lazy: I have been basting by laying the layers on a small folding table, pinning, and sliding. I didn’t get it taut enough (something I corrected in the Desert Blooms quilt). I had massive folds and puckers quilted into the back. I also had some fairly serious wavy quilting lines that were supposed to be straight. I decided I didn’t have enough time to fix it and left it in.

 

Bad basting

Pucker city!

How do you hide something like that? You put the label over it, of course!

quilt label

Label

September 21, 2014
by bunny
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The Desert Blooms

I’m very pleased to have finished this lap quilt and given it to one of my very best friends, who I’ve known and loved since the fifth grade. I had fun with this simple Buttonholes pattern from Timeless Treasures (apparently no longer available) with a Tonga Treats Mocha Kiss (batik) jelly roll pack. My friend got married in the desert, and these colors make me think of blooming cacti in the warm sand.

pink and brown quilt

The Desert Blooms quilt

I did simple grid machine quilting with variecolored pink thread, and I marked my lines with a Hera marker (one of my new favorite tools).

Detail of quilting

Detail of quilting

The batting is wool (Hobbs Tuscany wool), and I made a sort of improv backing from some fabrics I had lying around (I really like this backing!).

improvisational backing of quilt

Improv backing

After disastrous basting on the last lap quilt (which isn’t quite yet finished), I decided to do a better job, so I steam mopped the kitchen floor, laid down the backing, taped it down, then put the batting and top on and pin basted quickly and carefully. As a result, the quilting was much smoother–the best I’ve ever done in the machine, actually.

Finally, I used Spoonflower to create and print my own custom quilt label, and here it is! Do you like my little bunny critter? I love making quilt labels this way. So much more readable and permanent and easy to do! I’m getting much more confident and skilled with a good blind stitch, too.

Quilt label

label for Desert Blooms

September 14, 2014
by bunny
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Sunday Stash 9-14

I did the Quilt Carolina stash dash this week, with my most excellent grandmother-in-law. I couldn’t do all 15 shops, so I decided to do just the Triad shops because I hadn’t been to any of them before. We had an absolute blast, and I got wayyyy too much fabric. We did five shops together, then I stopped by a sixth on the way home. I hit a seventh shop when I bought my passport on Wednesday, and a final eighth shop when I turned in my passport on Friday.

The data: 225 miles, 6 shops, 19.25 yards of fabric, 6 fat quarters, and 1 jelly roll. Yow!!

 

 

Pile of fabric

Quilt Carolina fabric haul

September 7, 2014
by bunny
1 Comment

A Few of My Favorite Things

I’ve been productive lately! Nearly finished with two quilts, and a third close behind. I’ve been thinking how much I totally adore (totes adorbs!) some of my handy new tools. In no particular order:

  • The Kwik Klip tool. Holy cow, it has made pin basting enormously easier, faster, and much kinder to my poor fingertips.
  • Wonder Clips. I love how these help a quilt binding lie truly flat, and not distorted, the way the barrette-style clips do.
  • Hera Marker. TOTALLY in love with this tool for marking quilt tops without leaving mess I have to wash off!
  • Variegated thread. Just did a purple quilt with variegated thread and now doing one with variegated pink. Loving the look!
  • Gooseneck LED lamp. I can see clearly now! My little lamp is making things much more illuminated for my tired, aging eyes.

 

Favorite tools

August 24, 2014
by bunny
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Sunday Stash 8-24

I dropped by the Durham Orange Quilters’ Guild show today (I’m not a member of that guild anymore, but they do put on great shows!). Lovely quilts to see, and some of my favorite vendors. I bought some yardage and then fell in love with this FQ bundle from Cotton + Steel of the basics. Total splurge! That’s 34 fat quarters. I might need to just admire it and pet it for a while…

 

fat quarter collection

Cotton + Steel basics (34 fat quarters)

August 18, 2014
by bunny
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Washing a Quilt

I recently borrowed back some quilts I had given away over the years (I needed them to show off to my quilt guild for a member spotlight). One friend said she had been too nervous ever to wash the quilt, and they had put it up when they had kids, as they were afraid it would get dirty.  So I washed it before returning it. Her statement made me realize that not everyone knows how to care for quilts that have been made especially for them.

I make all my quilts to be well loved, well used, and washed (unless it’s a wall quilt, which is a different beast). I tend to prewash my fabrics before piecing, which gets rid of any dye running and shrinking. However, I can’t prewash precut strips or squares. I just washed a baby quilt that used a charm pack, and was very pleased when the colors were fine.

So, if you have a quilt that needs cleaning, here are my tips.

  • Spot clean as necessary. A damp rag, even a little mild soap on it, can get up stains and spots surprisingly well.
  • Dry clean is an option, but go for a cleaning service that is chemical-free.
  • For heirloom quilts or damaged quilts that cannot handle a wet washing, place them on the floor, put a window screen over it, and vacuum. This will get up the worst of any dirt or dust while still protecting delicate fabrics. Museums actually use this technique for some of their textile art.

For wet-washing a quilt at home, you want to be sure to be gentle on the quilt. A wet quilt is extremely heavy, and the thread in the seams can come under a lot of tension and break if you are pulling too much. So here’s what I do.

  1. Use a front loading washer. A front-loader has no need of an agitator, because the soapy water falls through the quilt, instead of twisting around (which is very hard on a quilt). It washes more thoroughly with a lot less water (great for clothes, too, not just quilts). If you don’t own a front-loading washer, you can usually find them at laundromats, and it might be worthwhile to visit one now and then for a quilt washing.
  2. Use a delicate or hand-wash cycle with cold water. I like to throw in (not too dirty) towels and blankets to fill out the load and cushion the quilt a bit. This keeps the load from being unbalanced during the spin cycle.
  3. Use extremely mild laundry soap. I make my own, but you can also purchase Orvus Quilt Soap. You want something that washes super clean and leaves no residue. You don’t need much of it. Skip the fabric softener: this leaves a chemical residue on your fabric. Absolutely do not bleach.
  4. Consider adding an extra rinse to the wash cycle to make sure all the soap has come out.
  5. If you can control the spin speed, set it to medium, not maximum. If the quilt seems too heavy and wet, you can do another spin at high (but still not maximum) speed.
  6. Be very gentle and careful removing the quilt from the washer. It’s still wet, not matter how fast the spin cycle was, and too much pulling on it can damage the seams and quilting stitches.
  7. If at all possible, it is highly recommended that you dry the quilt flat. This is hard to accomplish, because you want air underneath the quilt as well as on top, so just spreading it across the floor or a table is not optimum. Draping it across chairs might cause too much tension on the seams, and might also result in weird “humps” in the quilt when it dries. Line drying is not recommended (the whole weight of a wet quilt pulls too much where it is pinned on the line). Here is where I got a bit creative. Years ago, my husband and I bought a super cheap futon at Walmart. It’s ugly, the cats claw it, and it’s not all that comfortable, but I hang on to it because it has a metal frame. If we remove the futon mattress and lay the frame flat, I have the perfect tool for flat-drying a quilt. I can even speed up the process by pointing a fan at it. When the quilt seems 95% dry, I will toss it in the dryer on Low or Perm Press to soften it up a bit.
cheap futon

Our el-cheapo futon from Walmart

 

Metal frame of futon

Behold, the metal frame! (and a mess underneath)

 

Flat-drying a quilt

Dry that quilt (mostly) flat

 

Some people wash their quilts in a bathtub. You can use mild soap and cold water, and even let it soak if need be. This will prevent the need for agitation, but you will end up with an extremely heavy, very wet quilt to remove from the tub. Wringing it is not recommended (stress on the seams), and then you still need to dry it carefully. I prefer to use the washing machine.

Note: When storing a quilt that is not in use, do not enclose it in plastic (bags or boxes). Plastic traps moisture, which will eventually mold and damage the quilt.