Friday, October 7, 2011

Ironing Mat Tutorial

LOL.  In writing the title for this post I accidentally wrote "Ironing Man" instead of "Ironing Mat".  It would be awesome if I had made an ironing man to do all of my ironing for me and had a tutorial to share with all of you about how you could make your very own ironing man, but unfortunately I don't.  Luckily though the ironing mat I did make is awesome enough to make up for the fact that we still need to do it ourselves.

Now onto why I made an ironing mat:
My sewing room, while spacious, still doesn't have a permanent place for an ironing board.  Normally when I sew I pull out the ironing board from the closet and set it up somewhere where I think it will be least offensive, but it ALWAYS ends up in the way, and often gets bumped, and the iron is constantly getting knocked over.  Not fun.

While making the friendship quilt I posted about a few days ago I was constantly having to press the seams of all of my half square triangles open, then press my pinwheels open, then press my flying geese open.  Needless to say I was getting really frustrated with moving back and forth between my sewing table and the ironing board. I needed a better ironing solution.  Thus came my idea to finally make myself an ironing mat.

I've seen the different ironing mats they sell at stores like Joanns and they always look so boring.  With all of the awesome fabrics out there who wants an ugly ironing mat?  I always have some InsulBright insulated batting on hand for making pot holders, so who's to say I couldn't make my own ironing mat?  And who's to say you can't make one too?

To make your own ironing mat you'll need:
100% cotton fabric for ironing mat top and backing
InsulBright insulated batting or any other insulated batting
100% cotton batting
optional cotton scraps to pad batting
cotton binding
cotton thread

My finished mat size is 30"x20", so I started by cutting all of my fabrics to just over that size.  Whatever size you decide to make your own mat make sure you leave enough extra fabric to compensate for any shifting that might occur in the quilting process.

 Cutting the fabric and batting pieces.

I then made my quilt sandwich, starting with laying the backing fabric face down on my surface, then adding the optional two layers of cotton muslin, then the cotton batting, then the InsulBright with the shiny side facing up (or whichever side is intended to be the HOT side, according to the insulated batting's directions), then my top fabric facing up.

All the layers sandwiched, with my top layer folded back so you can see the layers.

All the layers folded back so you can see the backing fabric.

I pinned all layers together and did a simple squiggle quilting line with my machine.  Straight quilting would have worked, as would have a zig-zag line, but I used the squiggle,

Squiggle quilted at different intervals.  I chose to do lines close to each line of flowers on the fabric to accentuate them.

I then straightened all of my edges, and rounded my corners using a rounded corner template.  There's a good one here, or you can just use the edge of a plate.

Ironing mat trimmed down with rounded corners.

I then made myself a strip of binding using another cotton fabric and attached it using the method found here

Binding made and pinned to the mat, ready to be sewn. (You'll notice that this isn't the final binding.  I ended up not liking the yellow with polka dots and ended up switching it out for a red with polka dots).

And it's done!  Enjoy!

 My completed ironing mat.

Having this ironing mat has been so handy in the last few weeks that I've been using it.  Not only is it gorgeous (I absolutely love the Denyse Schmidt print I used for the top) but it folds up easily and goes in the drawer of my sewing table so it's right there when I want to use it.

A note about the mat:  Using 100% cotton and insulated batting is essential.  Synthetic fabrics and batting aren't as resistant to the heat as cotton is, so for a project like an ironing mat you want to avoid them. Adding extra layers of cotton batting or cotton fabrics under the insulated batting help block the heat that makes it through the insulated batting from traveling through your mat to the surface below.  And just to be on the safe side, I would not use the ironing mat on any nice wood surface.  Since some heat does make it through the mat if the mat is used extensively, using it on a surface that is sensitive to heat (like a wooden dining room table) is probably not the best idea.   With that said I've been using it laid on top of my cutting mat as you see in the image above for a few weeks now and the small amount of heat that makes it through has not damaged my mat at all.

In other news, the SoCal Social it tomorrow and I'm so excited to attend!

p.s. I'm linking this up with fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feeling Stitchy September Stitch Along

If you're familiar at all with my blog you'll know that I include embroidery in a lot of the stuff that I do.  I love the freedom that embroidery gives you to make any design you want a reality.

With that said I follow the Feeling Stitchy blog and every month they host a stitch along that I try to participate in when I can.  For September they had a halloween themed stitch along and considering that halloween is my all time favorite holiday (Christmas is of course a close second) I had to get in on this one.

The design was made by Cathy Gaubert and it's called Hallowe'en Trio.
To start I made a reverse copy of the image and traced over all the lines with my red transfer pencil.  My fabric of choice for embroidery is linen, so I pulled out a remnant of white linen I had laying around and transferred the design by laying it face down on my fabric and ironing with a hot iron.
I wanted to really make this embroidery "full", so I decided that each piece needed some sort of filler.

For the ghost I used a brown thread for the outline and a cream embroidery thread to fill in the body.  I don't know what technique I used to fill in the body since I made it up as I went, but I'm sure it does have a name.

This is it with the pencil lines still visible.  Once I hand washed the embroidery to remove all the lines it was much harder to see what was going on.

Here he is all cleaned up.  I loved the loopy handwriting on the "Spooky" sign and was careful while embroidering to make sure that I kept to it as closely as I could.

 The black cat is made entirely of french knots.  It took quite a bit of time and embroidery thread but the effect was well worth it.
 I used seed stitching on the Jack O Lantern.  I figured that if I filled it in completely it would be just a little overdone since the cat was filled in completely.

I'm pretty darn happy with how it turned out, and plan to make it into a mug rug or something similar for myself.
 I'm also looking forward to seeing what the Feeling Stitchy blog has planned for us in October.

If you're interested in seeing what the other participants made there's a Flickr group here.

The Friendship Quilt

I'm back!  Well, I technically didn't go anywhere but I took a little break from blogging because I was a little bummed that nobody entered my giveaway.  But oh well, gotta roll with the punches, and since I'm going to the SoCal Social this weekend to meet other crafty bloggers I figured it was time to get back in the saddle and write about a few of the projects I've been working on. Luckily, even though I took a break from blogging I didn't take one from sewing, so I have several things to write about that I'll probably spread into a few posts.

But anyways, onto the Friendship quilt:

First the background information: at the beginning of summer my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law (who are both avid quilters) approached me with the idea of a friendship quilt.  The idea was that each participant would create a bunch of half square triangles with their fabric choices and then we'd meet and swap so that we'd each end up with an equal amount of HSTs from each person which we would then use to create whatever we wanted.  We'd then meet again and show off what we made.

Well the second meeting in which we showed off our projects was this past weekend and as usual, it took me all the way up to the meeting for me to finish my project, but now that it's all done I can share it with the bloggy world.

To start we were each given 22 sheets of Laundry Basket Quilts HST exchange paper and told to use light & dark fabrics of our choosing.  I chose to use a cream fabric with hearts and leaves as my light and a dark green with white polka dots as my dark.
 My fabric selections and the template sheet.
Once we had our fabrics sewn together using the template we were supposed to stop and not cut the pages into the individual HST pieces, this would be done by each person after we swapped sheets.
All 22 sheets cut and sewn, waiting to be swapped.
We met in late August to swap sheets and when I looked at all of the different prints and combinations I ended up with I was a bit overwhelmed.  Several of the prints were definitely ones I would never in my life put together, so I really didn't know what I'd do with all of them.  Once I cut the templates apart I realized that I then had over 280 HSTs to press open and take the paper template off of, so I set them aside and decided to not worry about them.

After thinking about it for awhile I decided to use the fabrics to make pinwheels and flying geese, and to make them into squares of four HSTs all of the same print, since I didn't see how I could combine them all and still have it be aesthetically pleasing.
HSTs pressed open waiting to be sewn.

HSTs sewn into pinwheels and flying geese.
After sewing them all together into pinwheels and flying geese I had to figure out what design to make for the quilt.  For the sake of simplicity I decided to bypass sashing and just join them all together into one giant rectangle, and then put a border around it to make the quilt top.

To lay out all the squares I decided to hang a blanket on the wall and pin the squares to the blanket.  I have no idea why I didn't anticipate that the fabric would stick to the fleece, but it did and no pinning was required, they stuck where I put them beautifully.

I didn't count how many squares I had made so I didn't know what the finished dimensions of my quilt would be or even how many squares wide or long I should plan for.  I just started sticking squares up on the wall, spacing them by where I thought the colors looked best, and as it happened the rectangle I made was 7 x10 and it fit all 70 squares I made perfectly.
Pinwheels and flying geese up on my design wall.
I ended up taking the square second in from the left on the bottom row out because my flying geese we facing the wrong way, and after shuffling things around a bit I made a space second in from the right in the second row from the bottom for a blank square in which I could embroider a message on.

The rest of making the quilt top was relatively simple.  I first sewed all of the squares together into rows, and then sewed all of the rows together into a rectangle.
 Sewing the rows together.
I then bordered the design with a 4" wide Kona bone border and made my quilt sandwich, using a low loft cotton batting and a solid piece of the Kona bone fabric for the backing.

At this point I stopped taking pictures since it was in the middle of the night the day before I needed to have the project done and the lighting was horrible and my sewing room a mess. But needless to say I made the quilt sandwich and then started in with the quilting.  I decided against straight quilting in the ditch and decided to do some free motion quilting. Not the best idea for how late it was.  I started with a stipple stitch then decided against it and took all the stitches out.  I then decided to do a large looping design and started doing it free motion.  Again, not the greatest idea.  I couldn't keep the loops the same size, so I ripped all of that quilting out and pulled out one of my new Frixion pens and drew the design onto the quilt top.  With that as a reference I was able to get the quilting done in an hour and a half or so.

After the quilting was done I trimmed it down so it was all even and then make my binding.  For some reason binding is one of my favorite parts of quilting.  There's just something about being so close to finishing the project and doing it by hand that makes me so happy.  I had selected a burgandy/ deep red color for the binding and whipped it up and sewed it onto the quilt using my new TQM Binding Tool to bring the binding tails together.  I then moved to the living room and relaxed on the couch watching The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice while I hand sewed the edge of my binding down.

I finished at 4am Saturday morning and threw it into the washing machine and went to bed.  When I woke up 3 hours later I pulled it out to discover that not all of the washings had washed off.  Instead of drying it and then ironing the marks away (which is what the Frixion pens are good for) I hand washed the quilt to get the marks off, then went ahead and threw it in the wash again to get the remainng soap out, then dried it to get it warm and fluffy.

I was quite happy with my finished product.  It's actually the first quilt I've ever made myself and I'm happy to have it.

To show off what we each made we met at one of the Ladies' condo by the beach and had lunch.  Not everyone finished their project, and two of the people weren't able to make it, but it was a nice afternoon and I snapped photos of all of the different projects.
Kirstie and her "Flowers in the Mud" quilt.

Dorothy and her pillows.

 My mother-in-law Harriet's quilt (she's the one on the right).  You can't see it because it's behind the chair but the bottom left of the quilt features a church with stained glass windows.

 My aunt-in-law's quilt top.  The border on her quilt is also a pinwheel fabric.

Suzy and her basket squares.

 And me with my quilt!

I'm also linking this post up to Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story.
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