Mini Tutorial: Starch substitute for 37.5c!

I have a mini tutorial for you today on how to make your own starch substitute – like Best Press or Flatter for a few cents. The credit for this idea shouldn’t go to me though, I was told about this by Jackie who I used to work with, and she in turn was told about it by someone in her quilting guild in Okotoks, so this is passed on wisdom that I am now passing onto you.

My experience with the products you can buy is mixed. Best Press was great when I started using it, but then I tried the scented stuff and my lungs do not cope with it well at all. There are no ingredients on the bottle either so I’ve no idea what it is that is irritating my lungs, a little bit scary. I find the unscented one a bit hard to find because most people seem to prefer that one too! Then Soak’s Flatter – I love the Fig fragrance, but I find it’s pretty expensive stuff so that’s usually off the cards for me. So, onto my tutorial!

I took an existing empty bottle from Best Press, and Sulky Wash and Gone soluble stabiliser. Any soluble stabiliser will do, it has to be the stuff for embroidery that completely washes out.

For this size bottle I only need 5cm across the width of fabric, which is where I get the 37.5c price from as it’s $7.50 a metre where I bought it. If you’re filling a bigger bottle, you will need proportionally more.

Cut into tiny bits and put into the bottle.

Add water, the lid and shake. That’s it!

This was the crinkliest scrap of fabric I could find that I had, so I gave it a squirt and press and it worked awesomely! I checked back the next day and there’s no residue, it works really well.

Let me know if you try it!

 

P.S. Email still being crappy, I will reply to everyone that posted on my last post once my computer starts letting me send email again!

On blog following

Recently, I have felt a little bit paranoid about not having enough blog followers, comments, etc to fulfill my side of the marketing and publicity once my book is out there in the World, and this is part of my contract, as well as something I feel organically responsible for. My day job is marketing, I should have this tied up.

A simple search shows Maureen Cracknell’s blog – for example – has 63,000 followers on Bloglovin alone. That’s just an insane number and it’s hard not to feel inadequate when your blog has been going for a year and a half longer and has 280.

With Instagram gaining in popularity, and more of the blogs I like to read popping up in my reader less and less as they switch over to micro-blogging, it feel even more like shouting into the void. I used to get double-figure comments, now I’m lucky to get 3. Has my viewing figures got lower, or has interest and engagement dwindled? Is it since moving away from my old circle of sewing friends in the UK? Did they artificially prop me up? Is it because I’ve posted less recently? How long will blogs be relevant for?

And content, what content do people actually want from blogs? I know that I like reading posts about idea development, quilt psychology and politics, recaps of shows I’ve not been able to go to.  Thoughtful and reflective posts, I guess a bit like this one. I know they are the ones I comment on most often. Are a lot of posts out there now just simply blog hops, sew alongs and simple tutorials that have been done 100 times already?  I skip through a lot of posts so I bet you do too.

What do I want to achieve from my blog? I don’t want to post every day with every microscopic detail, if I have nothing to say that day I won’t say anything. I don’t think I want to do weekly giveaways, or be tied to posting about sponsors once a week. I think that content can get dull if it is regimented, even if there is free stuff potentially up for grabs. How do others feel about this? My blog is almost like a diary for me, I look back at what happened when, at how I have developed, and I hope if people are interested enough to do that too then they will see that you can develop as a quilter significantly in just a couple of years (this blog started as a jewellery making blog!), and it will be a positive thing all round.

I’ve made peace with the idea that I’m not going to be one of the big shots, I’m going to stay true to me. I’m going to post what I want and not get bogged down with getting followers from having a huge giveaway, or feel I need a sponsor to be successful. As the Good Life Fitness advert on the radio goes, “Don’t strive to be better than everyone else, best YOURSELF”.

 

P.S. My email is down at the moment, so if you have contacted me I won’t get it for a little while.

Sewing every spare second

Over the weekend I continued where I left off on the last post.

I decided to put my yellow dress together first. I got quite far…

And then got angry, frustrated and sweary. I tore the zip out at least three times trying to get it to sit right. I find sewing pattern instructions are really vague about this part. So I made it up myself which worked after unpicking the top section and making it fold over more at least three more times, that was until I put the dress on and because it was a little tighter than it perhaps should be, my fold unfolded and it became an exposed zip. I have hand sewn in a lining too so it won’t be an easy one to adjust so I think I will fix it with some topstitching. Not ideal. If I could find somewhere locally or online that sold 22″ invisible zips, I’d be tempted to buy one and take to my one day sewing retreat on Sunday, but so far, no luck.

Then the armhole facing bagged out. I think it probably stretched as I sewed it in and that looks horrendous. I only did one sleeve, and it looks like that will be fixed with topstitching too.

So I was a bit put off, and decided I needed to sew something else before I fell out with all forms of sewing entirely. I cut out parts for my Sesquicentennial quilt (including the panels which apparently are printed not square and vary slightly in seam allowance, wtf?) until I found that I posted my only piece of black solid with some others for book photography.I went and bought more solids on Sunday, but for the meantime, it got folded up and put to one side for when I want to make the maple leaf blocks. This will be a really quick quilt when I get going.

Yeah really, he wouldn’t move.

Then I decided to sew together Thumbtacks. Which turned out to be more complicated than I thought as there are no extra seam allowances on the triangles since it was stack and whack. I found a fix through trimming, and it worked well, so I sewed all 36 blocks together!

It’s smaller than I wanted it to be by about 12 inches each direction, so I am going to add some ivory borders with a pop of another Rifle Paper Co print between them. I think that will work nicely!

Loving it

I shipped off the last requirements for my book today, and emailed over all of the images and second draft copy yesterday. Whilst I have enjoyed the process and would do it all over again, its so liberating to be working on a completely different style again. I treated myself to start a new project with Rifle Paper Co fabrics.

A post shared by Kerry F (@pennydog) on

I also finished the last of the bee words that I was several months overdue on, so another relief!

A post shared by Kerry F (@pennydog) on

I have lots of sewing plans for the weekend, I’m sure I will be back blogging all the more! Tomorrow, I’m coming for you, yellow dress! I also want to relook at my sesquicentennial quilt design for Canada’s 150th birthday. If it’s quick, I can see myself making a quilt in a day!

In other news, I have a new laptop because my old one was making popping and clicking noises, so it was only a matter of time before hard drive failure, so I’m installing stuff and moving files and other boring stuff. I also tried axe throwing for the first time on Wednesday night and LOVED it. I was pretty good too and beat my coach 😉

Kerry throws an axe

Maybe I will blog again tomorrow! We will see.

Classes with me

I’m going to try out teaching. I’m gradually getting a bit more assertive and confident so I reckon it is worth a shot. I used to get so embarrassed at public speaking right up to only a couple of months ago so it will be good for me. These classes are up to 8 people, so totally doable and it means I’ll be able to work with everyone individually too.

Here are my classes, held at My Sewing Room, Calgary. Give them a call if you want to book! The list of requirements for each class are also downloadable from their website.



EPP Cushion

Learn a relaxing – and historical – hand piecing technique, English Paper Piecing (EPP)! Use up your scraps and learn three different basting methods to make traditional paper hexagons wrapped with fabric, then stitch together as many as you want! This class will give you the opportunity to slow down your stitching and try the way a lot of our great-grandmothers made quilts. It’s also a great way to tackle difficult shapes and conquer Y-seams!

Bonus instructions on creating a small cushion will be provided for when you’ve made enough hexies.

Price: $35

Dates: February 22nd 6-9pm, April 2nd 1-4pm, May 2nd 6-9pm



QAYG Venti Tote

Use up your scraps and try relaxed piecing with this improvisational technique and make a fantastic storage tote! Using the pattern as a starting point, you will learn the piecing method and quilt it as you add each fabric piece. You will also learn to make your own bias tape and some bonus techniques to make following the pattern easier. Using your leftover scraps, you will make a bag which reflects your unique style.

Price: $65

Dates: March 7th and 14th 6-9pm, April 13th and 20th 6-9pm


P.S. Anyone know of quilt shows in Canada- particularly Western Canada – except for the Festival of Quilts in Calgary? I could really do with a show to challenge me over the next few months without posting quilts over to the UK!

Share the space

I’ve given up a wardrobe so Alex can paint- until we get a house of our own with more room. In Ikea, We chanced upon the exact same desk in the clearance corner that we were going to buy flatpacked, plus 25% off so that was a good find. The door can just be closed and all of the stuff is hidden away…

I still think he needs a chair, but he says he will share mine…

The Finish Along is back – Q1 2017

I’m not expecting to get many WIPs finished this quarter, but as usual, I’m going to give it a go, and suggest three things that could possibly get done, or at least develop a bit further!


This dress still hasn’t got any further since last quarter, it’s time I got that done.


Another no-changer – these Blanche bags. I only want to finish these two for now.


And yep, you guessed it, another I haven’t touched for three months. This was the first project I started when we moved and I was sewing on my first machine in friends’ basement before we got a place of our own! I have no real purpose for this quilt, but maybe it will be big enough to fit our bed when finished? I really should check that.

***My blog was half-down for almost a week, looks like it got upset by someone touching things they shouldn’t and my template disappeared and it went all gross looking, so I missed the actual link up, I’m only unofficially taking part this quarter ***

Selvedge Salvage

Today I learned that what I call a selvedge is the British spelling of selvage. I wondered why I had seen it written in two different forms.

I’ve collected selvedges for a while now, maybe a couple of years. When I was in the UK I’d pass them to Di in our EMMQG meetings, but since coming over the Canada a year and two days ago(!) I’ve saved them in a jar and thought that maybe I would do something with them.

Now, I have nowhere near a project’s worth, but I needed to start doing something with them as they’d outgrown the jar. So I decided they would be good as a simple cushion, mixed in with some scrap strings because I have a schwack of those too.

So I’ve made four 3 1/2″ blocks, they were very quick and it keeps me interested as I simultaneously work on catching up with bee blocks. If I’m completely honest, I am not enjoying putting bee blocks together anymore, and I think that is why it has been easy to put other projects first. The guilt is getting to me in a big way now though, so I need to get my head down and get them done!

My jar still only just closes, and I threw out about 1/3 of what was in the jar as there was lots of plain white bits I didn’t need! Weird how that works.

And now, back onto finishing up book stuff and clothing repairs, it will be good when those and the bee blocks are over, too much obligation on my plate. Sewing is meant to be fun, right?

Plans

It’s so frustrating that I can’t share pretty much all the projects I’ve worked on over the last six months or more! I only have six quilts to show for 2016 on the Finished page, and that’s entirely untrue. There’s four more (if you include a three piece quilt) I’ve not been able to show. I thought I’d show some really sneaky super close ups of two of the projects I’ve had to remake. I like them better than the originals (maybe I can share pictures of those soon?!) so that’s got to mean that it will be an improvement. I’m in the quilting stage. I still have two quilts to make and a couple to edit too, maybe a smaller project to make. I really want to be done with it by the end of January if possible. I’ve done the step outs though so the boring stuff  -which shows binding step by step for instance – is all shipped off. I have a new editor too – I really liked the previous lady I worked with, but I’m yet to “meet” her and I’m sure she’s just as great.


I’m starting to think the quilting is my favourite part, especially on smaller quilts and projects.

In other news I finally finished a set of bee words. These were supposed to be for September! Two or three pieced ones to go now.

I’ve also started on a QAYG project sample for a class I hope to teach next year. I need to finish this up quickly too so I have a sample. I’ve pitched two classes, both completely unrelated to my book. That will be refreshing for me as well as gently introducing me to the world of teaching and finding my approach, since I will be expected to teach and travel a bit to promote my book. Last time I did any teaching work was to 13 and 14 year olds making resin jewellery as a guest teacher at a school and they were throwing chairs at each other… That was a few years ago now and I’m pretty sure the adult teaching experience is much better.

When all of these commitments are done I am really looking forward to doing something mindless and unnecessary, like scrappy log cabins, but in reality I know I’ll be back on the magazine stuff as before, bills gotta be paid. I am not doing Project 48 this time around, or any bees. I need to have a relatively commitment free year in 2017; 2016 has been hard with a move to a new country, work, writing a book, being mentally exhausted by the state of the world, etc. I’d like to clear some of my non-essential WIPs too just to tidy the cupboard a bit.

My goals are:

This weekend: Finish piecing book quilt, bee block and signature block, finish QAYG on class project.
January: Finish any bee words outstanding and most of the book stuff, do at least two clothing repairs/alterations (see last post)
February: Finish book stuff once and for all if not done already, then do a happy dance and high five myself very hard. Release a new PDF pattern. Work on a new Hank quilt. Try and finish the dachshund dress.
March-April: Finish Hank Quilt. Gently work on at least one magazine project. Design quilt with my bee word blocks.
May-June: Work on the second Quilt Workout pattern since I dropped the ball. Release a new PDF pattern. Magazine project. I’m away some of June back in the UK for my sister’s wedding.
July-August: Finish Quilt Workout pattern and release it. Do a fist pump dance. Magazine Project.

And I’m making no more plans past that just yet! I would like to produce some of my patterns on paper in 2017 too, and try and get in with a distributor, maybe towards the end of the year when I have a better portfolio. I think the key will be having diversity in my WIPs already to keep me interested and not starting anything new unless it is for an intended deadline, so I don’t add to the stack.

I also bought some fabric, because, you know, fabric. Some sale orange/rusts to prop up the stash from Fabric Spark, and some Euclid linen and Modern Backgrounds from My Sewing Room. I bought some more from Fat Quarter Shop this week and I have plans to buy a bundle of Saturday Morning too while it’s still available at Green Fairy, I just have to get the money together for it.

 

Linking up:
2017 Planning Party

Happy New Year!

A whole crapola of repairs

You know when you’re doing fun stuff and the boring stuff keeps piling up and piling up… (like vaccuuming, putting laundry away, etc)?

Well, I probably have a full weekend of clothing repairs and adjustments to do now. I would LOVE to get this cleared by New Year for a fresh start but that gives me 10 days. Nope.

A pair of jeans for my husband which needs a torn crotch stitching up as best as possible, half a dress, a shirt that needs the shoulders slimming (so many adjustments have been made to this shirt already to make it small enough!), a pair of jeans two inches too long, a pair of work trousers an inch and a half too long, a coat with a torn armpit accessible only by undoing the lining plus it has a toggle missing, a dress that needs hemming 1″ higher and another that needs a hook and eye fastener added and a zip reinserted…

I hand sewed my XL Christmas-ish vintage jumper in about 2″ at each side seam by hand yesterday morning. We’re having a Christmas jumper day at work today (though no one else seems to have bothered) so this is good enough. I added sequins to the trees last night in front of a couple of episodes of Mr Selfridge.

On an expected note, I didn’t get any quilts accepted to Quiltcon which is no great surprise. I’m torn between making something specifically for Quiltcon in 2018, or whether I should just keep making what I like and maybe entering things if they possibly fit the remit. I do have one gripe (that’s unlike me) about Quiltcon. I feel the quilts that get accepted are very unlikely to be used. I’m pretty sure the definition of a modern quilt by the MQG includes a statement about it being a utilitarian quilt “designed to be used”, which is at odds with art quilts. Though that’s what a lot of these feel like to me. I don’t know.

P.S. it’s my birthday tomorrow!