I'm very pleased to introduce Sew Frisco as a new sponsor! Sew Frisco is run by husband and wife team Laurina and Allan and was founded in 2013 as the agent for Juki home sewing machines in New Zealand. Laurina is a keen quilter and blogs at Chicky Quilts.
Since I've been spending a lot of time in Auckland lately I recently took the opportunity to visit and try out a Juki TL-98P and a Swiftquilter Machine Quilting Frame, which turns the Juki into a kind of mini long-arm quilting machine. Laurina demonstrated how to set up the frame for quilting and let me have a good play on the machine/frame set-up. It was a lot of fun and I've since purchased a Juki TL98-P and Swiftquilter combo.
I know my machine and frame has arrived in Wellington and I'm super excited to set it up and get playing over the Easter/Anzac day break. I'll be blogging more about the machine and frame once I've had a chance to get to know them better, but in the meantime I wanted to introduce Sew Frisco.
Although they are based in Auckland, Allan and Laurina do demonstrate at craft and quilt shows so you may be able to see them in your local area. As well as the Juki TL-98P which is a fully mechanical straight-stitch machine, they have a couple of other models with other features which would be great for more general sewing. So far their customer service has been really outstanding so I would definitely recommend checking them out if you're in the market for a new sewing machine!
Lately I've been looking for more ways to live a little more handmade. I'm psyching myself up to make a "proper" bag (maybe a Super Tote) so I bought some Soft and Stable in anticipation. It's something that I read about at Sew Sweetness, and boy does Sara know her bags, so I had to try it.
I'm a bit nervous about sewing proper fancy bags with zips and pockets and all that jazz, but I could picture how to make a simple tote bag so I thought I would experiment with the Soft and Stable to make just that.
For this tote I used a relatively subtle cat fabric (which I really really love, in case you can't tell), together with Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Black (another favourite). I quilted the exterior fabric to the Soft and Stable with lots of vertical lines. I then added the handles, leaving room to add the lining. I slightly boxed the corners, then added a simple lining to match.
I was really impressed with the Soft and Stable - it was easy to work with, and it's given the bag enough body so that it can stand up by itself, without being stiff or heavy.
I'm doing a lot of travel at the moment, and I'll be using this bag for my carry on luggage. It fits my laptop nicely, with enough room for the miscellaneous junk that I need to carry on but can't fit in my handbag. I'm kind of in love, and very relieved that my "make it up as you go along" method worked out well.
Have you tried Soft and Stable? Do you have any specialty product recommendations?
This mini quilt is quite a long term WIP. I've instagrammed it quite a bit, but I don't think I've ever blogged about it before. I had a print t-shirt from Karen Walker which I really loved, but which really never fitted me well, and I've been planning to use it in a quilt somehow for a while. The need to make something for my blanket stitch appliqué class at Nancy's Embroidery gave me the perfect opportunity.
This was quite a good way to use a cotton knit fabric in a quilt. The fusible webbing stabilised the t-shirt fabric quite well, and the fact that it's not part of piecing meant that the stretch didn't really matter. I don't know that I'd recommend using something highly stretchy for this technique, but this 100% cotton not very stretchy fabric was totally fine.
Overall, I'm happy with this mini, although it is really far from perfect. When I made my AHM All Day Mini Quilt, I stitched the orange peels in a more traditional fashion, with the points in the centre and the corners. If you press two diagonal lines across your fabric, you can line the petals up really neatly, so that when you stitch the different squares together, all the points meet nicely. For this version, I stitched the petals in ring shapes, and I tried to get the positioning right by pressing my background squares into quarters. However, things didn't line up as nicely and not all my points meet where they should - oops! That's what happens when you experiment sometimes, and I'm happy to show my students what not to do!
I was thinking about quilting this to make the petals really pop out, but I ran out of time (and patience) in the end and simply quilted in the ditch. I had some difficulty picking a binding for this mini, but in the end went for a white linen fabric with a subtle silver print which matched the white thread I used for the appliqué nicely.
Have you tried experimenting with your quilting lately? How did it work out for you?