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Eek, a whole month since I last posted? Whoops.  So many things going on, but I’m not sure everyone wants or needs to hear about all of it. So let’s see if I can catch up on some things.

My sewing student is still working on her tote bag, mostly because we haven’t been able to get together the last two weeks. She’s still working on the second side of the outside part. Hopefully we’ll finish that this Wednesday (April 16th), and then we can start on the lining. She said she wants to make pockets for inside the bag, so we’ll have to pick out fabric for that, decide how big and how many, and work on those. After we finish the outer parts, we also have to quilt the outside to a layer of fleece. 

I’m also helping my best friend make a t-shirt quilt for herself. She had 9 heavy metal t-shirts from various groups, some so old they were incredibly thin. A couple were poorly constructed, making this project a challenge. And, for the record, I’m HELPING my friend make her quilt; she is doing most of the work sewing, cutting, and ironing, once I show her what to do. So far we have cut the tees into squares (with sheerweight Pellon interfacing on the back), and framed the tees with black fabric to get them to the same size within the row. We started assembling the bottom row with sashing that is black with muted colors of musical notes and symbols. This Friday we will continue assembling rows. She’s starting to get the concept of what this quilt will look like.

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Photo by Stephen Pytak. Attaching the first sashing to two of the t-shirt blocks.

Funny side note: my best friend is not a fan of math. She’d rather clean her house than make things, so this quilt project is quite the challenge for her. (Last session, she started using the sewing machine with the foot pedal backwards. We both thought that was pretty funny, especially as she didn’t notice the difference!) Many people who know her well didn’t think she’d be able to do it or finish it. When it came time to figure out the frames and how big to cut the strips, she just let me do the math. So, when I was doing a bit of sorting the other day I came across my notes from the small quilt I made for her several years ago, a lap quilt with dancing cats in aqua blue, yellow and black. I thought she’d be interested to see the notes, so I took them in to work on Saturday. She made a face at all the notations, and said “this is my quilt???  I’d rather clean toilets than have to figure this stuff out!” And there, my friends, is what makes my best friend and I very different people. 🙂 She is a cleaning fanatic, and helped me tremendously when I had to clean up our old apartment after moving into our current house. I am not a cleaning fanatic, and would rather spend hours, days, months working on fabric-related projects than be faced with dusting my house. To each their own strengths!

At one point my friend and I thought it would be nice to just back her t-shirt quilt with a fuzzy fleece blanket, rather than using batting and a backing. We found a candidate at a local department store, and I bought one just to test the process (so that we weren’t risking her old tees with a questionable technique). I whipped up a small, simple black, white and grey quilt, attached a narrow border, and started sewing it to the fleece blanket.

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Photo by Stephen Pytak. Trying to sew the fleece blanket to the sample quilt top.

After much struggling, I got the two pieces sewn together, and turned it right side out. Ugh. Serious, double, awful ugh. This was NOT going to work. The blanket was way too flimsy to hold up, and the blanket itself shed EVERYWHERE. So, I figured I’d just detach it from my sample quilt. Nope, nothing doing: that baby was attached but good. Sigh. So I had to cut the quilt top free of the backing by cutting the border fabric. (My friend kept her fleece blanket and threw it in the washing machine. She got blue fleece everywhere, on everything, and decided she didn’t want to keep it after all. Both of us were glad we had tested them before using on her quilt!)

So, I found an ivory flannel sheet at JCPenney that we can use as “batting” in my friend’s quilt (because she doesn’t want to sew over the graphics on the tees, making the quilting too far apart for regular batting). Next we have to find a sheet for the back. And then we can discuss machine quilting her quilt! I’m sure she’s gonna love that part.  😛

And that black, white and grey quilt top? This afternoon I’m replacing the border, and then I plan to find a back for it so I can use it to practice my machine quilting. I only have a DSM (domestic sewing machine), and so far I’ve only machine quilted small kids’ quilts. Much more practice is necessary before I try to help my friend quilt her precious tees!

So there you go. Just some of what I’ve been busy with this Spring, in addition to helping my husband keep his website up to date, traveling to OH to do some research for his books, baking for the Children’s Department at the Library for their American Girl Doll tea party, and …, and…, and. Yeah, lots and lots of ands. Cheers, y’all!  🙂

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