To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
I did a demo for VTMQG last week comparing different types of batting I’ve used. I volunteered for purely selfish reasons—I needed to clean out and organize my scraps, and also take stock of which ones I like, and which I might not care to buy again in the future.
The demo was very hands on and doesn’t translate well to the web, but here’s what I found.
I created three quilt sandwiches of each batting (large enough to cut down to 9″). I used fabric from the same manufacturer to try to keep things consistent, but used a different design for each for ease of visual comparison. The back is a solid. I quilted one of each set with a rough 1.5″-2″ grid, another with feathers and pebbles, and and the third with both.
I trimmed them all down, then overcast stitched the edges of the gridded and feathered squares to keep them from fraying in the wash.
Then, I washed the two overcasted blocks from each set (basic cotton wash, normal dry) to see how they ended up compared to the unwashed third block.
Batting choices can be very dependent on the project type, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list. I imagine different brands react differently even with the same fiber content. But, knowing how the batting will react to quilting and washing is helpful in making that choice.
Batting Comparison Chart
*according to the manufacturer
Hobbs Tuscany Collection
Soft n’ Crafty Extra Loft
Pellon Eco Cotton
Soft n’ Crafty 80/20
Warm & Natural
The least affected by washing and drying was the 100% poly. However, it was not much fun to quilt, and the loft is higher than I personally like.
The most affected by washing and drying was the 50/50 Bamboo/Cotton. There was an extreme amount of shrinkage. A different wash type might reduce that, but be forewarned. It is gorgeous before washing, though.
I’ve used all of these for various projects, but the two I use most often are 100% Cotton and an 80/20 Cotton/Poly blend. The former is great for all-cotton projects that I want to wash up all crinkly and soft, while the blend is perfect for baby quilts that I back with Minky, as the slight poly content reduces the shrinkage a bit.
I’ve mentioned Spoonflower quite a few times, as I order all of my labels from there and used them to print the center medallion for the 1812 quilt. However, aside from those basic orders, I’ve never thought to try my hand at fabric design.
The VTMQG challenged us to create something this month using coral, mint, black, and white (and only those four colors) based on the Spoonflower Weekly Contest of the same theme. In honor of their inspiration, I decided to actually try to design something for the contest (plus, I knew sewing time would be sparse this month due to my work and teaching schedule).
So, decidedly unmodern as it is, here’s my attempt at designing fabric for the challenge. It seems very 1980s shabby chic farmhouse to me.
When I make baby quilts, I typically whip up a doll quilt with the leftovers—a winning solution that adds another gift for the kid and eats up scraps. Mustang Summing isn’t a baby quilt, per se (or maybe it will be whenever I give it away), but I needed something that could be bound with facing for a quilt guild demo I gave in November, so I played with scraps and made a doll-quilt-sized wall hanging.
The top is just a couple hours of playing around, growing it out from the center of the log cabin block, sewing things together that seemed to work. Cut, sew, press, trim, cut, sew and on and on.
I went simple with quilting, stitching out a square spiral in a gray thread that blends well with just about anything. In a few places, I added highlights using the heavier russet thread I used on Mustang Summing.
Since it’s a wall hanging, I just used a solid from the stash on the back and finished it with facings using binding strips that were leftover from the other quilt.
This is the first time I’ve used this type of binding, but it seems to work well for this sort of application. I especially like that the top can double as a hanging sleeve. For shows, I imagine you’d have to increase the size of the facing piece to create a standard 4″ sleeve, but I wasn’t too concerned about that for something at home.
It took me three months to sit down and take 30 minutes to sew the facings down by hand (and another two weeks to photograph it), and I still haven’t figured out where to hang it (not to mention that I need a better hanger)!
If you’re looking to learn this technique, I cobbled together my method from memories of various things I’ve read, so I can’t direct you to a specific tutorial for exactly how I made this (should have taken photos and made my own, huh?). Here’s one that seems similar: Super-Duper Easy Way to Face a Quilt (but doesn’t include the hanging sleeve). I know I read about turning the top into a hanging sleeve somewhere, but can’t find the article or blog post. Sorry!
Eight years ago, after realizing I’d been going through a computer bag/backpack a year, I made my first “spend money on quality” purchase—a Timbuk2 bag that I picked up at their retail shop while working and living in the Bay Area for the summer. I had hoped to get a few good years out of it; I did not expect to still find it just as integral to my life now as it was in college—nor still in almost perfect shape (albeit a bit dingy).
The one regret I’ve always had is that I bought a plain messenger bag rather than one with a laptop sleeve. I had a neoprene sleeve for the laptop I bought that same summer, but for some reason always found it awkward to use. Then, I was abusive to the laptop that replaced that one and never bothered with a sleeve.
Knowing that my new laptop deserves better, I scoured local shops and websites for a replacement bag, but couldn’t find anything I like better than my bag. So, I decided to retrofit my trusty friend.
I bought a piece of .5″ tall foam (kismet—there was a scrap of the perfect size sitting forlornly in the foam-by-yard section), some elastic, and Velcro, and combined them with minky scraps and a stashed fat-quarter.
I improvised the construction without a lot of forethought, so there are choices I’d have made differently a second time around—mainly securing the top flap and side elastic in the seams instead of hand-stitching them on later, and completely changing how the bottom is constructed.
It’s secured to the bag interior with a huge strip of Velcro, and allows the laptop to slide in and out easily without having to fiddle with a zipper. Best of all, it’s perfectly fitted to the laptop.
We’ll see if the bag and insert make it to laptop number four in a few years!
When I last listed out my various works in progress, I specified that the list included only projects with something already cut out. I felt the need to add that qualification, mostly because the skeleton in my closet is this quilt I designed and bought fabric for in May 2011, which never even made it to the cutting table. When I stumbled across the design file for it while doing some digital organizing, I decided it was now or never—either make it in 2015 or get rid of the fabric.
The style of the quilt doesn’t speak to me like it once did, but there are a few techniques I designed in that I still wanted to try, so cutting and sewing has commenced. Stay tuned!
My latest quilt needed something more than piecing for me to love it, so I decided to add a few applique pieces to it after it had been quilted. Then, I decided to step it up a notch and wrap one of the appliques from the front to the back (full disclosure, I’ve been planning on doing something similar on one of my long-term works in progress, so it’s not a terribly new idea of mine).
The trick is that the applique was added after the quilt was otherwise finished. I sewed a backing to the applique piece, turned it right-side out through a slit in the middle of the backing (for clean edges), then topstiched along the edge to secure it to the quilt. When I reached the part that would wrap, I just kept topstitching without the quilt underneath, so that it looks the same as the top.
Once I was done, I wrapped the piece around, and used a ladder stitch to secure the piece to the back by hand.
It also served as a good place to put the label for this quit.
I’ll be back with more info about the completed quilt once it reaches its destination!
Once I’d accumulated enough college tees, I took a pair of scissors to all the high school ones I’d toted north with me (or, I pressed my sisters into that service), planning to make a t-shirt quilt despite having no idea how to quilt. I was left with various half-shirt chunks, which were far less bulky to move around.
Surprisingly, most of those scraps made it through various moves (often as packing materials), and found their way into my sewing closet at the apartment. After decluttering a variety of other things over the long weekend last week, I decided it was past time to do something with the almost-rags.
Now I have a pile of pressed, interfaced squares and rectangles awaiting piecing. I imagine these will sit in a box for a while yet as my college tee pieces did, but progress is progress.
In addition to eight t-shirts (some with printed backs), I finally cut up my hoodie and baseball jersey. There’s not enough for a decent-sized quilt with just those 17 pieces, so I played in Illustrator and came up with a design that adds in scraps from the jersey with a yard(ish) of purchased fabric.
I may change my mind in the future, of course, but I rather like it right now.
I’m working on a new baby quilt that looks like a very large, squared-off puzzle. It boils down to a bunch of 8″ blocks, but I haven’t yet found a way to batch process them—I have to make each one individually to make sure it has the right fabrics to match up with the next in line, as a piece of each block’s fabric needs to end up in two different adjoining blocks.
But, I did sketch out the whole quilt with fabric placement, so it’s moving along steadily without too much ripping. Here’s a blueprint for the blocks.
Yesterday, I received notice from Amazon that, effective immediately, my Amazon Associates account was closed. This means that the various links to products on Amazon in my posts are no longer affiliate links (and I’ll be combing through my content to remove them in the next week or so). Here is their email:
We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLCAssociates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective January 6, 2015. This is a direct result of Vermont’s state tax collection legislation (32 V.S.A. § 9701(9)(I)). As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after January 5, nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Vermont residents.
Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to January 6, 2015, will be processed and paid in full in accordance with your regular advertising fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of January 6, 2015, any final payments will be paid by March 31, 2015.
Amazon strongly supports federal legislation creating a simplified framework to uniformly resolve interstate sales tax issues. We are working with states, retailers, and bipartisan supporters in Congress to get legislation passed that would allow us to reopen our Associates program in Vermont.
We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and hope to be able to re-open our program to Vermont residents in the future.
The Amazon Associates Team
On this humble little blog, with a spattering of links, I’ve earned a grand total of $36.68 since September 2010—hardly worth the time it takes to generate the affiliate links for the few posts I add them to. But, it was a nice bit of surprise fun money once a year or so that I could use to subsidize a book or sewing notion.
For other online marketers and content publishers—possibly even other sewing/crafting bloggers—the impact is thousands of dollars. It’s not restricted to Vermont: Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, and Rhode Island are also barred from using the program now.
In my case, the impact is minor, but it brings up the question of how other companies will handle this legislation change. I have a few Google AdSense ads on here to help pay for hosting (~$100/year), and affiliate links for American Duchess ($13.88 in total). I’ve considered adding ones for a few product subscription services I personally use and am willing to recommend.
Some of you may not be such small potatoes when it comes to generating so-called passive income with your blog. Some of you may be considering adding affiliate links thinking it could amount to big bucks. But with this legislation in VT and other states, the landscape of internet marketing is changing, which is sure to have ripples throughout the blogging community. It certainly highlights the fact that blogging is not a guaranteed money maker, and your income is entirely at the mercy of the programs you affiliate with.
I’ve always supported bloggers using affiliate links because I am well aware of the costs of maintaining a blog, particularly if you have your own domain. I hope we can weather the storm.
Were you directly affected by this policy change? I’d love to hear what your perspective is on both it, and the idea of affiliate links in general.