Rock & Roll Marathon T-Shirt Quilt

I know now for a fact that I married into a family as crazy as I am.  My brother-in-law, Marc, started running many years ago.  Running.  As in, putting on tennis shoes and moving quicker than walking between extreme distances for no other reason than because he could.  If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is.  Why on EARTH would you not drive?  I’ve always said, “I’m built for comfort, not for speed.”  Much like a Cadillac ya know?  LOL  One of his brood (and he has 9…NINE) has serious issues with Crohns & Colitis so he took up that charity as a reason to run every single Rock & Roll Marathon he could in 2017.  Here he is with #8, Wyneth (age 18) following the last race of the year in San Antonio last December.  She finished both races WAY before him…because he’s old.  lol  Hi Marc! 
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Before they hot-footed it out of town (ha ha), he left me an entire box of shirts from all of his races so I could make him a t-shirt quilt.  I’d agreed to this early on in 2017 so it was no surprise.  Here’s the pile of shirts on the longarm.  They are fairly easy to make since the block is done already but there is a lot of shirt prep that has to occur.  This is my second t-shirt quilt.  My first was for my husband made from his Harley Davidson shirts.

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Here’s some how-to’s to make a t-shirt quilt.  There are several schools of thought on stabilizing t-shirts but I always do and have never had a bad outcome.  T-shirts, whether cotton or synthetic are made to stretch. The odds of stretch and a crappy outcome are VERY high if the shirts are not stabilized no matter whether they are synthetic or just plain cotton t-shirts.  If anyone ever brought me a t-shirt quilt to put on the longarm that wasn’t stabilized, I’d refuse it.  Before he left, I order an entire bolt of Pellon 906 Sheerweight and used the entire thing on this soon-to-be king sized quilt.

First, I cut off the sleeves on the body side of the shirt right next to the seam.  Reason:  if you need any design on the sleeve, you’ll leave the design and any needed seam allowance intact if you cut away on the body side of the sleeve seam.  These designs will be used as cornerstones in the sashing.

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Then cut off the shoulder seams.

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Then cut off the side seams.  Take the side of the shirt you want and head to the ironing board.

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I cut up 25 pieces of stabilizer (5 shirts across and 5 down) that were large enough to cover the design I wanted + one inch on each side lengthwise.  I don’t worry about the height of the design until later but I do put the stabilizer up to the neckline.  I do not stabilize the cotton sashing or the borders – only the shirt pieces in the quilt.

Can you tell how wrinkled this design is from the inside?  It’s been wadded in a box or suitcase ever since the race.  If you don’t press it first, you’ll stabilize the wrinkles which is bad…very bad.

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Because the shirts are synthetic, I used a piece of silk organza to press the area without steam.  Silk organza is a wonderful pressing cloth because it can take pretty much any heat that any iron wants to give it and leave the fabric underneath without any press marks or shiny spots.

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The wrinkles weren’t completely gone, but they were minimal enough to go ahead and stabilize.

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I pressed the sheerweight stabilizer onto the fabric vs. ironing it.  Again, no steam.

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Look how smooth this shirt front turned out.  Now it won’t give me any bias-like issues on the longarm or when adding the sashing.  Do you notice the Roman numerals above the design?  That shirt is #16 in the quilt.  I chalk-in a design order for the blocks in Roman numerals on my quilts because neither chalk nor Frixion pens like to make curves in regular numbers.  It helps that these shirts are going into the quilt in date order and I have a photo of the approved design, but if I have quilt blocks made of regular fabric, once I like a design, I’ll ID them with numbers like II-IV, which is the 2nd row, 4th block.  Works for me.  🙂

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Here’s the final agreed-upon layout – in race date order vs. color wise.  There will be 2″ sashing in between the columns and rows with the 20 Years Running from the sleeves in the cornerstones and 4 corners of the quilt in the border.  The top 3 rows are his half-marathons and the bottom two rows are his 5ks.  There’s a sample cornerstone between rows/columns 3 & 4.  That’s 227.5 miles of shirts.  Like I said, he’s insane.  And he’s 60!

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I really have to take issue with the shirts for San Antonio.  No Alamo?  No city skyline with the Tower of the Americas?  No Military City USA anything?  For a city with an enormous amount of character and the 7th largest in the US, whoever designed these shirts should be fired.  Just sayin’.  Once the shirt is stabilized, having a quilt ruler for just such a purpose, and a rotating quilt mat is enormously helpful.

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I’ll post again when I’m finished!  If you are so inclined, he’d appreciate a donation to the Crohns Colitis Foundation.  http://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Ready-to-Wear FAST #2018rtwfast

For some inexplicable reason, I signed up to refrain from purchasing any ready-to-wear (RTW) clothes in 2018.  The blog GoodbyeValentino.com, by Sarah Gunn, co-author of The Tunic Bible (have it/love it), is sponsoring this event and the rules are pretty strict:  I vow not to purchase any RTW clothing in 2018.  That’s it.  I am allowed to wear what’s already in my closet, and I can purchase undies, shoes, and bags, but otherwise…No new jeans, tops, skirts, dresses, shorts, jammies, swimsuits, etc.  That’s a pretty tall order but I’m doing this for a couple of reasons:  1.  Clean out my fabric stash and;  2.  It will force me to improve my garment sewing skills.  There are over 1,000 participants in this year’s #2018rtwfast and there will be drawings and contests with some pretty snazzy prizes throughout the year.  I’m looking forward to it.  I already whipped up a jammie top on New Year’s Day in a darling little Riley Blake knit I got from Mood Fabrics – sorry, no photo because I left it at the coast.

I joined the Vogue pattern club (annual fee of $9.99) and purchased four new patterns that are on sale for $5.99 but I got them for the club price of $4.79 each.  Now that Hancock Fabrics has closed and the nearest JoAnn’s is in another county, I’ll be doing most of my pattern shopping online.  It seems lately I do all my shopping online from fabric (fashion and quilting) to notions.  Heck, I’m even ordering groceries with my phone and doing curbside pickup.  Probably not a bad idea with flu season in full swing.  Here’s what I ordered.

Vogue 9282 – Wide-leg pants

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Vogue 9057 – Shaped Hemline Top by Marci Tilton
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Vogue 9267 – Fit and Flare Dress with Waistband and Pockets
I think this dress will be perfect for work!  I love the neckline, the princess bodice, and the skirt pleats.  I love every bit of this dress.  I’ll probably hack the pattern many times throughout the year to customize it by modifying the neckline, sleeve length, waist position, etc.  My work peeps who might be reading – get ready to get sick of seeing this dress.
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Vogue 9265 – Princess Seam Flare Dress with Poof Sleeves
I have the 2018 Texas State Daughter’s of the American Revolution conference coming up in the beginning of March and I’ve got two evenings where I need to wear a formal.  I have one already hanging in my closet and this pattern will be perfect for the other.    Poofy sleeves are in apparently which is just fine with me now that I’m getting “grandma arms”.  I’m not sure what to do for fabric.

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Now, I’m no clothes horse and I don’t believe I’ve done any serious designer shopping in a couple of decades but I do drop $300-500 a year in places like Roz & Ali (formerly Dress Barn) for work clothes or Tractor Supply for my jeans – hey don’t judge – I’ve got cows!    In fact, jeans will be my biggest challenge this year.  I have Angela Wolff’s pattern but I’m terrified to try it.  I also have Kenneth King’s class on Craftsy.  Come to think of it, I shop pretty heavily in Sisters, a darling ladies shop in Port O’Connor that carries the cutest stuff and I buy a lot of my clothes for work there.  It will be SO hard to step away from the racks and stick to knickknacks and Yellow Box.  I’m just now beginning to realize the money I’m going to save.  $$$$

This challenge will also make me get my dress form into working order.  So I’m all set!  Here we go!

Stitching Santa 2017

One of the coolest things about our sewing community is that we have “secret language”. I can tell someone at my day job about a project I’m working on and while I work with some incredibly intelligent computer people, I mention “needing ballpoint needles for sewing with knits because…well, of course” they look at me like your face would look if I were to say on here, “The PPS has to be registered with AFSPC in order to submit the FSR.”  They might get what a sewing machine needle is but exactly why I need a special one for knits is obscure to them.  Poor dears…

Enter our very own Christmas Angel, Sheila from SewChet, and #StitchingSanta !
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In 2016, a fellow stateside participant in Stitching Santa, Jen Miller, contacted me via email because her secret recipient was a quilter and she had absolutely no idea what a quilter would like.  I provided her a laundry list of items and we corresponded a couple of times over email since then.

Well lo’ and behold, I was her Stitching Santa recipient this year!  She really came through with little necessary quilting gizmos and a handmade little basket to keep them all in.  I was thrilled!  It is so exciting to open gifts from someone who understands how much these things mean to me.  🙂

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I love the cord-wrapped candy cane that will hang in a predominant place on my Christmas tree for years to come to remind me of her sweet gift.  Believe it or not, I especially love the needle threader.  I break the cheap ones constantly and this one was just in time because I just broke my last one.  Jen, thank you SO much!  Look at this little basket.  Isn’t it cute?

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Another successful Stitching Santa has come to a close.  I highly encourage my readers to contact Sheila to get on next year’s list.  I’ve linked to her blog above or the web address in the photo.  Happy New Year to all!

Happy Campers! Sewing a Men’s Shirt, Simplicity 1544

Back in May of 2016, (I can’t believe it’s been that long), I ordered some blue cotton poplin fabric from Mood Fabrics that had campers, flamingos, and other beachy things on it.

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 The intent was to make a shirt for Keith for Christmas that he could wear to work on dress-down Fridays or to hang out at the coast.  I think I had been inspired by a blog post from another sewing blogger who had made a shirt for her spouse and thought, “Oh yeah, that’s cool! I wanna do that!”  Fabric arrived, I put it on the cutting table, then moved it to a shelf, and then it went into the fabric stash oblivion.  Fast forward to December 2017 and I bought a Craftsy class on sale with Janet Pray, “Sew Better, Sew Faster:  Shirtmaking.”

I have a couple of her classes and I really like her style and this particular class is geared toward making a men’s shirt.  A downloadable pattern comes with the class but I didn’t have the ink to print it so I pulled out Simplicity 1544.  I figured I’d use this pattern and her techniques.

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One thing I did with this pattern was to match it with a shirt that Keith wears already to make sure it would fit.  I had to add about 3 inches overall to the length on the lengthen/shorten lines and I made it with short sleeves using the measurements from said existing shirt.  Otherwise, I left the pattern as-is.

I had a lot of fun with pattern matching. In this instance, Steam-a-Seam is your friend.  I folded the edges of the pocket under, added the SAS to the pocket edges, placed it perfectly on the shirt front, and ironed it in place.  I did the back yoke the same way.  I’m giving those factory workers a run for their money.  🙂

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The collar.  Oh boy that collar.  And of course, I had to make it harder on myself by making it a contrasting band.  Why not?  Yeah, why not, I mean, how hard can it be?  Do I get credit for making a muslin if I really didn’t but I took it apart and re-sewed it more than once…or twice? Honestly, by the third time, I was a pro.  Janet’s method of making a collar burrito is ingenious and I cannot express in words the sheer joy of success when I got it right.  Really.  I did a dance around the kitchen like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky at the top of the steps.

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Keith isn’t much for modeling so this is the best I could get.  You should have seen his smile when I gave it to him Christmas morning.  He really likes things I make vs. things that are bought.  He’s such a sweetie.

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And look what was waiting for me Christmas Day!  I think my Santa thinks I’ve been a very good girl!!

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How about you?  Did Santa satisfy your stitching itch?

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase the Crafty class using the link in this blog, I will receive a small commission…and you’ll love the class!!)

Purely Gates American Eagles Machine Embroidery

Have you ever heard of machine embroidery with mylar?  Yes, that plastic iridescent stuff for gift bags.  A company called Purely Gates has an entire line of embroidery designs specifically for use with mylar.  It’s pretty cool because it spaces the stitching just far enough apart to allow the pretty sparkles to show through.

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This particular CD has a total of 20 different designs.

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I bought a Carhartt denim jacket just for this project.  I edited my design just a bit to remove the silver block from under the eagle’s feet and added the letters “USA”.

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I centered the design between the lower edge of the jacket’s yoke and the top of the bottom band.

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Here’s the finished project up close.  See the iridescence in the red and white feathers?  Pretty!

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Centering it just a bit lower on the jacket let the design show when I wear my hair down.  I’m SO wearing this to work tomorrow!

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I’m thinking about adding design #09 with just the eagle head and a collar of stars to the right front yoke of the jacket.  What do you think?

Oh, and since we actually had snow in my little South Texas town last week for the first time in like 30 years, I decided to allow snow on my blog for December!  Too fun!  Here’s some shots from my back yard.  This is my pool and the roof of my house.

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My view out back.  It was all gone by 2pm.

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Halloween Hooters Applique

Ok, so this is a bit late.  And I could hold on to it until next year but…nah.  While I was in Colorado Springs visiting the grands last August, I came across the CUTEST applique quilt, Halloween Hooters by Whistling Creek Productions.

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I did this quilt completely the old fashioned way: tracing by hand, cutting with scissors, and stitching by machine vs. an embroidery machine.  It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  I did enjoy the process.

I’m completely not a fan of a blanket stitch but instead, after seeing this on a blog somewhere, dropped the feed dogs, popped on the hopping foot, and stitched very close to the edge of the material.  It went very quickly and I got better as I went.

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I found some really cute Halloween fabric for the backing.  I totally don’t care that the stitching can be seen here.  It’s a wall hanging so it won’t be seen anyway.

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I think before it goes up next year, I’ll do some spider webs in the black center parts to fill it in a bit.  Overall I’m vey happy with how this turned out.  Too cute and totally fun!

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Brother Scan-N-Cut 650W and Allbrands.com

As mentioned in a previous post, several years ago I purchased a Cameo Silhouette (or Silhouette Cameo…I can never get that right) from Woot.com and had no idea what to do with it.  It was a deal that was too good to pass up at the time and I figured I’d use it one day.  Actually I forgot about it and it sat in a box for almost two years before it came to me that I could use it to cut out fabric applique pieces for quilts.  Once I had that in my head I tried and tried to work with it but to be honest, the learning curve on the software for that machine was too steep.  I ended up selling it.

On a Facebook page for Machine Embroidery Help I asked the question, “What can I use to cut out fabric applique pieces from a printed pattern, and then turn those images into machine embroidery files to applique to a quilt block?” The responses were numerous but one lady said, “Use a Brother Scan-N-Cut and Brother Simply Applique software”.  The software is designed to be a companion to the cutting machine.  Bingo.  I was on a mission to figure out how that might work.

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November 7th, I purchased a Brother Scan-N-Cut 650W from Allbrands.com.  Today is Cyber Monday – check them out!  They are a major retailer of all-things-sewing here in the southern US.  They are headquartered out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and just recently bought the Creative Sewing Center in nearby San Antonio where I went to a sewing class with Angela Wolf on Nov 17.  I’ll blog that amazing experience in another post.  I called the Allbrands 800 number for sales and purchased the machine and the software over the phone. I purchased a “seminar” model so I saved quite a bit from the regular retail price.  I’ve never been too proud for a floor model.  🙂

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The machine arrived in no time and I got everything all set up.  The only thing missing was the Wireless Activation Card which is included with the 650W model but not the 350 in case you are considering a purchase.  Go big.  Anyway, I called Allbrands the next business day and they sent a new Wireless Activation Card to me right away.  The wireless card is key because it’s what connects the machine to the Brother ScanNCut Canvas cloud that allows you to upload scanned image files directly from the machine.  The Canvas cloud allows you to save those files into a format that can be read by the Simply Applique software to turn that file into a machine embroidery file.  The Canvas cloud does a ton of other creative stuff too but I haven’t explored all that yet.  Brother has all this locked down pretty tight so you can’t go around scanning in proprietary images and embroidering them for profit.  “Cloud” means that you don’t have the powerful Canvas software locally on your own computer.  You do all editing online.  Here’s how it works.  I made this graphic to show you how it all works.  At least I think this is how it works.

AutoApplique Process with SNC 650

So…as I attempted to get the Canvas cloud to recognize the machine, I was never prompted to put in the 16-digit PIN on the new wireless card to associate the machine with my account in the cloud.  I ended up having to call Brother USA to see if they could disassociate the previous PIN used in the seminar demo so I would use my own PIN.  They were very nice and sent the trouble ticket up the chain and said they’d call me back.

The very next day, I received an email from the president of Allbrands.com, Mr. John Douthat (yeah right, like HE actually sent the email to me LOL) and it contained a survey asking about my satisfaction with my purchase.  I was nearly 3 weeks into this now with no direct connectivity yet to the SNC Canvas so my patience was dwindling.  I responded to the survey and in the comment box I wrote my story.  Well you won’t BELIEVE what happened!  About two hours after I hit “Send” my phone rang and it was a nice lady from Allbrands.com.  She told me that they were sending me another machine and a return shipping label for the other one.  Wow!  And in my email Inbox was an email from none other than Mr. Douthat himself instructing this lady to send me another machine.  I was cc’d on his email to her.  Now HOW NICE IS THAT??

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The new machine arrived this weekend and it connected to the Canvas cloud lickety-split.  Allbrands.com also tossed in a couple of other accessories like a pen holder (retail $15.99), a roll of high tack fabric support sheets (retail $19.99), and a Brother Scanning Mat (retail $22.99).  I couldn’t be happier!  Honestly, in this day and age, customer service like that is hard to find.  Maybe it’s just Southern Hospitality but I’ll continue to shop from them and sing their praises.  If you are ever considering an online purchase, please think of them first.

Here’s my first go at cutting out some dinosaurs.  They turned out great.  I haven’t had time yet to play with the download part back into Simply Applique and the subsequent stitching onto the blocks in my embroidery machine.  I’ll be tackling that this week.

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My goal is to fully automate applique quilts.  I’m loving this adventure!