Cynthia's mom is doing MUCH BETTER! Thanks for the prayers - she's supposed to be moved to rehab in the next day or so. It looks like only her speech was affected, which is good. Praise the Lord!!
Ali, a couple of posts ago, you mentioned you wanted to get your sewing machine out and learn. I have what is probably the easiest first project for you:
Seriously, this is EASY - all straight seams (unless you decide you want to have diamonds instead of squares...still easy, but not AS easy as straight blocks.) You can use "found" fabrics - old t-shirts with graphics will work for this, or you can buy a few. A finished square of 10" x 10" will make a nice throw pillow - so it's not so overwhelming. Here's what I did yesterday.......
We ran to Thrall-Mart yesterday. While there, I decided - on a whim - to see if they had any fabric suitable to make a wall-hanging for SG's aunt. She likes animals, so I wanted something animal-y; she really likes cats......and her favorite color is red. I hit the jackpot - Herself found a bolt of RED cotton with cartoon-y cats on it. For $3.29/yard. :rubs hands: I grabbed a yard, of course. :lol: (You can get by with fat quarters only if you want. This is just what *I* did this time.)
OK, I had the "main" fabric, now what? I started looking at the fat quarters..and found a "stack" (4 fat quarters of "go-with" fabric for $5.97. FQs are normally $1.97 each, so you basically get 1 FQ free when you buy the stack) of whimsical dog-themed fabrics. I grabbed that, then tossed in 1 FQ of black, 1 of a white, and 1 of a red (to tie all of the other fabrics together.) Total cost: a little under $16. (Quick note: for quilts, you don't have to have matchy-matchy fabrics. I like using complementary colors in all sorts of patterns - I like the interest that adds. So, you don't have to look for solids to go together, unless you just like the look. In this quilt, the black is all-over small flower-outlines, the white is all-over medium flower-outlines (Totally different flowers, for the record), and the "stack" consisted of 1 FQ of bright dog faces, 1 of bright cartoon-y dogs, 1 of blue/green with white paw-print outlines, and 1 green with "bow-wow" printed all over it.)
I got it home, and started thinking - how could I use the main fabric to make the best use of it? It's got LARGE cats on it....I did some measuring, and decided that 6" squares would make the best use of the fabric (and mean that I wouldn't have to have many squares to make a hanging. That's a good point - less cutting and sewing! :wink:) Now, you need to allow 1/4" per seam...so my 6" squares *should* (if I cut/sew them perfectly) end up as 5" squares. (I'm not perfect. It's no biggie - honest! If you're not perfectly precise, your finished item will be "quaint". I can live with that!)
After a little cutting, this is what I had:
I was able to get 9 6" squares out of each FQ (plus a little bit left over - I think I have a 2.5" or so strip left of each one). There were 7 different cats in the main fabric, plus a cute mouse, so I cut 1 more cat so I'd have the same number of all the fabrics (which was stupid, IF I had remembered WALL-HANGING). Now - I have quilting tools, because I went thru a phase a few years ago. You DO NOT NEED specialized tools for this. Rotary cutters are nice, but they're pricey (as are the mats and rulers! Oy!); you can cut a piece of cardboard/cardstock/something a little sturdier than paper in the size you need, and trace around it with a regular old pencil. Cut it out with scissors, and you're good. It'll take a little longer, but not *that* much longer. (And if you do decide you want to spring for a rotary cutter and mat.......don't buy a quilting mat. Seriously. I have 1 - it was over $40. I just bought Himself a "craft mat" for X-acto knives; it's smaller, yes - but it was only $4. I bought me a craft mat last week that's 9.5" x 12" - it was $5.99. I don't *need* the large one - I have to move it all around anyway to make the cuts easier, and I'd rather not promote overpriced stuff if I have better alternatives. I haven't found a better alternative to rotary cutters yet - buy Fiskars; they're cheaper than Olfa and work just as well.)
OK...I have a pile of squares here...now what? I played around with them, and decided that I wanted the bright "fill in" squares to go with the cats, and the dark "fill in" squares to go with the bright dogs. (This wasn't really the best idea - you'll see in a minute). So.....I put the squares right-sides together, and sewed up 1 seam, then added the next square to the bottom of the 2...and so forth. I ended up with a lot of strips (that I stupidly didn't photograph - Sorry!!!), that I then played around with:
OK - if I had decided that this looked good, I'd have been almost done. If you want easy - at this point, you have strips. All you have to do is decide which strip goes where, line them up right sides together, and sew the long seam. (HINT: to keep your seam allowances even, use the foot on your machine as your guide. MOST standard feet are right at 1/4" from the needle to the outside of the foot - simply line up the edge of the fabric to the outside edge of the foot, and go. Your seams will be straight and even, with very little hassle on your part. :wink:)
However....I don't do things the easy way often. I decided that it looked more interesting to me if I turned each strip so that the squares became diamonds:
Had I thought of this at first, I would have put all the bright fabrics together, and the "dark" fabrics together - that way we'd have more contrast in the rows. Ah, well - it still looks bright and cheerful, so it's good.
Anyway, if you do the up-and-down option, once you sew all the strips, you're ready to put a border on it and quilt it. If you did it like I did (I'm sorry!), you'll need to do 1 of 2 things: either square it up by cutting off the hanging off triangle-bits, or by using "setting triangles" I chose (of course...:Sigh:) to use triangles. SO. I cut out 9 more 6" squares, which I then cut in half so I'd have the proper-sized triangles:
God is good - I had EXACTLY the right amount of triangles to square up the top! (And..you'll note that it morphed from a "wall hanging" into something...well, larger. :sigh: It's now a "lap quilt", something I swore I'd NEVER DO. Ah, well. :lol:)
I don't really recommend doing set-in triangles as a first (or 4th, even!) project - they're not hard to sew in, but they're hard to match up exactly. I've never done them before.....and some of them are off. Ah, well - Auntie is the type of person that I envy - she's so happy to receive ANYTHING that it's perfect. And she's sincere - I need to work on that. I know that she's going to LOVE the fact that I *made* something just for *her* - it doesn't matter that my sewing isn't perfect. :whew: (Honestly, most people that love you are like that - they don't care if the scarf you knit them is too long/short/wide/thin - the simple fact that you invested your TIME in making something just for THEM makes the gift perfect.)
Anyway. Here is the top with the setting triangles in, and the inner border sewn on:
For the border, all I did was some simple math (since I've never done something quite so large before, I was worried I didn't have enough of the fabric - I only had 1 FQ of it, after all. No worries - I have a full-length strip about 2" wide left over. God really IS good, isn't He?) I held up the FQ long-ways to the quilt top, and checked to see how many I needed to do 1 long side and the short side. I doubled that number (told you it was easy math! You could do it "right" - measure the length of your fabric, then actually measure the length and height of the top, then do the math. Me? I'm lazy. :lol:) I cut the strips I had calculated, sewed them together end-to-end, then painstakingly pinned the LONG strip to the top and stitched it on, carefully easing it around the funky, not-quite-round ends. (Corners are MUCH easier. For a square/rectangle top, you simply make 2 strips for the sides, and 2 strips for the top/bottom. Sew both sides on, then the top and bottom (or vice-versa). Easy-peasy!
At this point, you're ready to quilt it. That's easy, but tedious - it's hand-sewing (unless you don't mind how machine stitches look, in which case you use the machine and get done fast. I don't mind the hand-work, so I do that.) Layer a bottom fabric (if you made a small wall-hanging, you might be able to get away with using a FQ for the back - I'm pretty sure you could do that for a pillow top. For mine, I dug out roughly 2 yards of muslin I had in the stash.) Put a layer of quilt batting on it (I think I paid $5 for a bag of polyester batting at Wall-Mart. If you want to make pot-holders, you only need 1 square per, and use an old towel for the batting (it's better at conducting heat than polyfill is..and safer. Harder to sew thru, though - so keep that in mind!) Put the top on, well, top, and use safety pins to secure the whole shebang.
You can do 1 of 2 things here - either "traditional" quilt it (where you actually stitch around each square.....tedious!) or you can "tie" it (where you use a darning needle to pull yarn up on either side of the seam at the corner of the squares, and you...well, tie it in a knot or bow. Easy, but some people don't like the look, and I don't think it's as secure.)
OK.....once you get all the quilting done, it's time to bind it. You sewed the strips on before you quilted; you can either add another border (you can buy binding at craft stores; it's not that expensive, or you can simply make another long strip and sew it on - that's what I'm going to do, with the red fabric I still have) or call the one you already sewed on good. Either way, you need to turn under the raw edge and stitch it down to cover the raw edge of the backing fabric. Usually you hand-sew it down (so it looks "better" on the right side), but you can also machine stitch it down.
Anyway - there ya go. A pretty easy first project that will end up as something useful and pretty. :grin: And good seaming practice!