Production Underway

I don’t want to bother with instructions – Leah Day’s instructions are the most comprehensive I’ve come across, although I made modifications as I went along.

Sewing Side Seams – Elastic in Place

First of all, I had already cut a pile of fabric 6″ x 9″ (Leah cut hers 15″ x 9″ – I found that a bit too long from nose to chin) so instead of putting the cut pieces aside I sewed two together and treated them as a single piece (although shorter than 15″).

The part that may be hard to follow in Leah’s instructions is her step #5 – it’s a bit easier to see where the 1/2″ seam goes in what I’ve done – the seam is a bit more than 1/2″ above the fold (which is in the second fabric). In the picture above you can see that. You can also see as I sewed the 1/4″ side seams that the elastic is held in the corner with a quilting clip (I don’t use mine very often be they’re perfect for this project! Leah’s suggestion.)

Pipe Cleaner Clipped In Place

With the side seams sewn, turn the mask right side out, press flat. Next, I slipped a piece of pipe cleaner (I’ve also used twist ties) into the fold opposite side from the opening (Leah put the pipe cleaner on the near side – I think the opening lays flatter with my adaptation leaving the opening at the bottom rather than the top of the mask). I used a clip to hold the pipe cleaner in place.

Stitching Pipe Cleaner In Place

With a 1/4″ quilting foot with centre guide, I stitched a 1/4″ seam across the entire top edge using the guide to hold the pipe cleaner against the fold – worked nicely.

Pipe Cleaner In Place

You can see the 1/4″ seam holding the pipe cleaner in place in the bottom of the picture.

Now, I had done the next step before inserting the pipe cleaner. Leah carefully measures where to pleat the mask – that’s fine if you’re doing one or two. I’m planning on 100 – too time consuming. I’d seen another video where the gal folded the mask in half, pressed, folded it into quarters, pressed. I’d recommend doing the folding/pressing AFTER inserting the pipe cleaner/twist tie/floral wire – whatever you’re using.

Pleats folded

Next it’s time to fold the pleats. I put the mask open side down, opening at the bottom, and began folding from the bottom toward the top, clipping the folds as I went along to hold them.

Sewing Pleats Down

I found it easier to sew the pleats with them facing me, the presser foot flowed over the fold better, but that meant sewing one side of the mask with the bulk of the mask within the harp (usually the bulk of the sewing is to the left, outside the harp). The other side of the mask gets sewn in the usual way, since the pleats are going in the right direction. Also, I used a 2mm stitch to sew the pleats – just a bit more secure.

I didn’t bother edge stitching the whole face mask. Didn’t think it was required.

16 Completed Face Masks

One other thing – I cut my elastic 6 3/4″ in length which I found was long enough for my face. I recommend doing a test run to check the finished length from nose to chin, and width including elastic before going into any kind of production mode.

Why the opening in the bottom of the mask? Well, first of all, you need it to be able to turn the  mask right side out after you’ve sewn the first seams. Leah left it open so that a surgical mask, (or some other breathable but less permeable material like a piece of vacuum cleaner bag) could be inserted inside, making the cotton face mask a cover rather than the mask itself.

I have 10 more masks set up to work on tomorrow (using my 6″ x 9″ pieces). When those are done, I plan on doing another couple of batches following Leah’s instructions – a single folded piece probably 13 1/2″ in length and follow on from there.

I’ve Almost Got It…

I made a single mask yesterday – way too fiddly with flannel as the inner layer! Seams were too thick and it was very awkward to pleat. I stopped at one! I decided to sleep on the problem. If my goal was to make just a few masks I could have carried on, but I want to make 100 – I need to be able to streamline the process.

This morning I decided to match up fabric pieces with fused non-woven interfacing with fabric pieces without – less bulk in the seams.

I made a single mask – first sewed elastic onto the ends of the front piece; then zigzagged two twist ties to the wrong side of the back piece. Then sewed the two pieces together leaving an opening on the bottom so I can turn the mask right side out.

Folded in half and pressed, then in quarters and pressed. Turned pressings into folds. Stitched the folds down as I edge stitched the whole thing.

Five Masks Done

After the first was completed I did four more production style – doing each step on the elements of four masks, next I put the four masks together.

Then I watched videos by Jenny Doan (Missouri Star Quilt Company) and Leah Day (a widely followed quilter). Jenny’s version (Instructions) of the mask is simpler; Leah’s is closer to what I’m aiming for (with an opening to add further protection (Leah’s instructions)).

Leah had a couple of innovations I hadn’t thought about – she used pipe cleaners for the wire support at the top (a really good idea), her way of creating the pocket is simple, and she used clips to hold the pleats in place.

I’m still going ahead with the fabric I cut two days ago, more or less following Leah’s instructions, which is going to make a stripe of fabric on the fronts – to create the pocket opening I will have to offset the top/bottom seams by 1/2″. (I’ll post a picture when I’ve done one).

Right now the masks I’ve made are in the washing machine; next into the dryer, then they’ll be good to hand out.

More pictures will come as I rework my production process. The idea is to refine production to be as simple as possible.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner II

After finishing the first kaleidoscope table runner I went shopping for fabric to try a second to learn more about what makes a good print design for constructing the octagons.

The pattern repeat in the butterfly fabric I bought was ~ 23in in length and although I bought 1.4m I decided to use just half of the fabric for the kaleidoscope since I didn’t want to end up with many more triangles than the 40 (5 x 8) I needed.

I was hampered by the fact that the printing of the fabric wasn’t precise and even though I aligned the 5.5″ fabric strips precisely, I wasn’t able to get 8 exact repeats of from any spot – just sets of 4. So I built my octagons from two sets of 4. That still gave me the kaleidoscope effect I was after.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner II

I cornered and bordered the octagons with a dark blue print and then used strips of the butterfly fabric for the outer border. The back used the leftover from both border fabrics as a simple bordered panel.

Again, I quilted the octagon blocks in the hoop, and stitched the borders in the ditch to stabilize the runner.

This piece might just be hung on my front door!

Bargello Table Runner IV

I finally finished the 57″ x 16″ Bargello table runner last evening. It took me several hours over two days to stitch the whole thing in the ditch – that was because I was changing thread colour and having to stitch on the zig-zag.

Bargello Table Runner – Finished

I thought about quilting the piece in the hoop for quite a while – doing an edge-to-edge style of design along the length – but I decided it would detract from the bargello detail. In this case, I also stitched through the backing, which meant I needed to add a binding. I chose a 1/4″ binding on the front but 3/4″ hand stitched down on the back.

The original Bargello piece is also finished – it’s the inverse of the longer table runner with a dark, rather than the light, centre.

Bargello Table Runner I

I’m teaching a class in two weeks on how to improvise a Bargello block and how to think about layout for a table or bed runner, a cushion, a wall hanging, or a quilt. The point will be to understand how the quilting version is derived from wool on canvas work and uses the same math principles.

For the class, I will need to set up another Bargello piece so I can demonstrate forming the tube stitched from 10 strips, cutting, and laying out the Bargello array. Better think about that in the next day or two.

Here are instructions for this table runner –  Download the PDF

Kaleidoscope Table Runner – Finished

Finished the table runner last evening – hand stitching the binding to the back.  I don’t enjoy hand sewing but in this case I used a 1/4″ binding on the top with a 3/4″ binding on the back and the only way to attach it was to hand sew it in place since I didn’t want a line of machine stitching through the border on the front.

Completed Runner – Top

I constructed the back from leftovers – I hadn’t bought very much of either the grey for the sashing or the grey version of the printed fabric. Not much in the way of scraps left, I can tell you.

Completed Runner – Back

This idea would also make a decent bed runner probably with seven octagons to make it long enough so it drapes over the sides. Might even want to add another narrow light inner border as well. My runner is just a bit narrower than the width of my queen bed. I have no intention of using either is as a bed or a table runner; quite likely it’ll end up as a wall hanging and included in one of the showings I’m scheduled for this summer.

BTW:

 “A bed runner is a small, long piece of decorated cloth used to enhance the appearance of an otherwise plain bed. While some prefer the look solely for aesthetic reasons and would choose it even if it were more expensive than traditional decorative bedding, the primary reason to use one in the hospitality industry is to reduce costs while keeping the room attractive.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner

I’ve been looking for projects to try out that I can share with some of the other sewing gals. I’ve almost completed the Bargello Table Runner – it’ll get done over the weekend. The other day I came across another idea: a Kaleidoscope/Stack ‘n Whack octagon block for a quilt or table runner described on the Jordan Fabrics You Tube Channel. I decided to try it out.

Yesterday I picked up some large print fabric to see what’s involved. The tricky part of the whole project isn’t the piecing – it’s the cutting. I hadn’t bought enough fabric to end up with eight identical triangles (except in two cases) so I had to make do with 4 and 4 somewhat complementary triangles for three of the octagons; but it’s the construction of the block I was interested in trying out.

I laid out my dark fabric, found the pattern repeat, cut what I had into two repeats (I bought .7m – I should have bought 1.4m to get the eight repeats for cutting the triangles but with a bit of improvising I ended up with 4 layers instead of 8 which yielded enough triangles for the project), halved the width-of-fabric, then carefully aligned the printed pattern through the four layers as was demonstrated in Video #1 below.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner

Once I had my layers of fabric carefully aligned, I cut out 5.5″ strips, then cut out 45° angled triangles – in the blocks with the peach elements I had two sets of four triangles to sew together, in the predominantly dark blocks I was able to get eight matching triangles.

Next I stitched the octagons together. Today I added the corner triangles (cut from 3.75″ squares) and the sashing and added both to each of my five octagons. Finally, I added a 2.5″ outer border of a lighter grey version of the original fabric from which I cut the triangles.

All in all the project went together relatively easily – once I’d figured out the necessary size for the corner triangles! That took a bit of experimenting.

I’ve also figured out how I will piece the backing so I don’t have to buy any more fabric for this project. I’ll get that done tomorrow, then I’ll set up the quilt sandwich and get the table runner assembled.

It’s definitely do-able as a class project – I completed the runner in less than 6 hours.

I didn’t stop to take photos as I went along. The whole process is explained very clearly in the videos below. So if you’re interested in making a table or bed runner, or a full quilt using this kaleidoscope block watch Donna Jordan from Jordan Fabrics in Oregon as she explains the process.

The biggest hitch in the whole project is actually finding a suitable fabric for constructing the stack ‘n whack blocks – you really need a large print fabric with an open design and quite a bit of colour variation. I would say what I chose in the end wasn’t a colour combination I would normally choose but the selection was very limited at my local shop. I will look at a couple of other shops nearby to see what else I might find.

So here are the videos:

 

 

Charm Quilt – Finished

Finished the quilt last evening. When all the quilting in the hoop was done (it went reasonably quickly), I added the binding. I didn’t want much of a binding but in the end I finished with a 1/4″ binding on the front (3/4″ binding on the back) which had to be hand-sewn. I never do hand sewing if I can help it – but in this case the binding on the back was wider than on the top and I didn’t want a machine stitched seam next to the binding; so hand sewing it was.

Charm Quilt – Finished

I’m pleased with how the back turned out, as well. I was able to use the column of HST I’d taken from the panel on the front, added a few sashing pieces that evoked the colour pallet of the front with a slightly darker grey fabric.

Finished Charm Quilt Back

This could be a quilt top on its own!

Now, I’d intended working on this quilt as a demonstration for the “quilt in the hoop” class – it was cancelled a week ago, the gals couldn’t make it yesterday, so far only three are able to come next week. I just kept working on the quilt and I finished it. So for the class (whenever it happens) I’ll work on my sample muslin piece. For now, I’ll be back to working on the bargello table runner.