Monday, 23 February 2009

Label Tutorial

Like many aspects of quilting there is always more than one way to do something! Making labels is no exception. I have used lots of methods in the past but I quite like these methods here for producing a simple, fast and professional looking label. It also avoids any hand stitching too. I quite like hand stitching - find it really relaxing but not when I'm in a hurry to get something done! This little tutorial offers a couple of alternative methods for making labels that you might not have tried before. Have a go and see what you think.

Step 1 - prepare fabric for printing ...
my hand writing is not the best and I prefer to make printed labels. I start by following the instructions on BUBBLEJET to soak and prepare my fabric for inkjet printing. You can skip the next couple of steps if you use purchased printer fabric sheets.

Step 2 ... Press and Starch the fabric
press the fabric so there are no creases in it. If you use spray starch on the reverse side of the fabric only you will get a nice crisp piece of cloth. (I believe the reasoning for starching on the reverse side of the fabric ensures the starch penetrates the fibres better .... but dont hold me to that!)

Step 3 : stick your prepared fabric sheet to Steam a Seam 2
this stuff is fantastic and is great for applique work but I found it works great for making printer paper! I just wish we could buy it in the UK! It has a waxy paper on both sides of a heat reactive sticky sheet that is can be used to permanently stick fabric to fabric or fabric to paper or indeed paper to paper! (and possibly lots of other combinations too!) 

Remove one of the waxy protective sheets and hand-press on the prepared fabric  - do not iron! The sticky surface is tacky enough to create a temporary bond that will hold while you put it through your printer. 

Step 4 : trim the fabric 
trim your prepared fabric so it is the same size as the seam a seam sheet .. which is US size letter size. You must make sure there are no loose threads hanging outside the sheet or you can mess up your printer.  I always make my fabric bigger than the sticky sheet and trim to size afterwards.

Step 5 : print your label...
using whatever computer program you wish prepare your label wording. (I work with Word and used one of the template label makers with a name badge format.)  Usually I name my quilts but since these were going to charity or be house-quilts I decided not to bother. I put my name, where I live and the date I finished the quilt  ... I also added my website should anyone want to contact me about the quilt. I also chose to colour my label to suit the backing fabric so it would blend it somewhat. I am not a lover of in-you-face labels unless I am sending them off to exhibition in which case I am all in favour of big writing, big labels. 

Step 6 : trim the label to size leaving at least half inch border

Step 7: using iron-on interfacing stitch all around label
using a lightweight iron-on interfacing place the rough side of the interfacing to the right side of the label and stitch around all four sides. Tip ... dont start in a corner .. it may pull down inside your machine and get tangled and then you will get upset!   Start half way along a side. Also when you get to the corners sew 2 or 3 stitches at 45 degrees. This will produce a nicer looking corner.

Step 8 : trim around label.
trim to 1/8" inch around the label and make a small slit in the middle of the interfacing.

Step 9 : turn the label right side out.
carefully push the label right-side out and using a blunt end bodkin or other device push out the corners. If you have sewn a 45 degree corner the corners will round off nicely. using your fingers smooth out the edges and very lightly press the extreme edges to flatten. (Don't iron the centre!)

Step 10 : stitch on the label
place the label in the corner of your quilt and sew to backing fabric by hand or be brave and machine stitch in place!  I wouldn't recommend a machine sewn edge for an exhibition quilt but for a charity or utility quilt it works really well. It takes next to no time to do and wont come off easily. It takes a bit of courage to do it though if you haven't done this before. 9 times out of 10 you wont even be able to spot the machine stitching on the front of the quilt.

To speed things up on a couple of quilts I missed out the ' bagging' stage of the label alltogther and  used the steam a seam to stick the label to the quilt. I did add an extra line of machine stitching around the edges for additional security though. It was a little stiff on the first quilt so on the next one I cut out the centre of the steam a seam and made a 'border' of sticky stuff.  This felt much softer and is the way I would recommend in the future.

I have since washed and tumble dried a quilt with the stuck on label and it came out just fine. The edges were all in tact - no fraying at all and it didn't lift off the quilt either. The label did loose a bit of colour though compared to the original unwashed label but not enough for the identification data to be lost. 

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Quilting Web!

I found out this weekend that my bindings booklet has been reviewed on "The Quilting Web".  I am thrilled!  Its a lovely review and it will be fantastic if it generates a bit of interest ...and a few purchases of course too!  
(You can see the review here). I'm doing my best to generate sales but "it ain't easy"! Advertising is very expensive too so I am having to think very carefully about where to spend my pounds .. if at all.  DH continues to give me the third degree ( and probably quite rightly) about return etc... etc.. anyway  I am firming up on a few ideas and hope to have them in place soon. 

On the quilting front I finished up 9 quilts this week and managed to label them all today.  I have to say it got more than a little boring after the 3rd one and I resorted to trying a couple of quicker methods. By far the quickest method was to 'stick' them on using steam-a-seam 2! I even washed a quilt afterwards to see how to held up and yes it has!  I'll put a little tutorial up in the next couple of days to show you what I did.  Not the most interesting of subjects but it does need to be done and it might be of interest to a couple of you.  I'll post pictures of the quilts later in the week once the kids are back at school and I have dusted and removed a few non-quilty house webs!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

You can tell a birthday is coming up!

I can go to bed happy tonight knowing my son is proud to give home made birthday gifts! My youngest has a birthday party this week for the 5 year old twins in his class and I have decided to start a tradition!  If he gets invited to a birthday the child will get a personalised pump bag!  When I was at school everyone had a home made pump bag. Most were made from left over curtain fabric and looked ok albeit a bit naff but some would shine out on the coat rack and be the envy of every kid in the class. Even when my eldest (22 next week) started school a fair few children still had home made bags. The quality of the 'homemade' was clearly on a downward spiral though as home sewing was very much out of fashion then and the 'cool' kids mums had brought them branded PE bags with Adidas or Nike on them.  Last September my youngest stood alone on the coat rack with the only homemade PE bag! I let him choose the fabric  - we had snakes on one side and football on the other!  Good choice I thought. Even better he was proud to carry it in.  His teacher told him how easy it was to find his pump bag !  No wonder everyone else had red plastic ones!  But now he has company - a purple and yellow number given to Aimee (given last year and blogged here) and next week we will hopefully find Ashleys blue and orange sharks and Kaitlyns blue and pink Tinkerbell!  By the end of the year we may even have a whole rack of brightly coloured pump bags to cheer the classroom and maybe even a few mums who might be inspired to start home sewing again!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines! Today I got not one but 2 cards! Hey - how lucky am I? .... and both from the man I love! They arrived in the post this morning which couldn't have been better timing. Unfortunately DH and I are separated by 5000 miles again and as much as I would like to blow it off and say "I'm use to it" its still hard to be apart and sometimes I really hate this thing called "a mortgage". But I loved the cards he sent me and one even had stitching on it - so how thoughtful is that - thank you DH its made my day!

I have been stitching like a mad women the last few days too. After my big destash - which was a great sucess and left me with virtually no leftovers to go to charity - I have set to and made a start finishing all those projects I started years ag
o. I have 5 quilts to add to the finished pile (if you include labeless ones as finished ) a newly pieced charity quilt made from destash fabric, another one on the go and 5 waiting in the wings for binding.

Do I like what I have done ? uhm..... I'm not sure. Lets take the charity quilt. The fabrics do very little for me and the colourway is pretty yuck but it has almost endearing quality to it. Its certainly no beauty queen and for that reason alone I'd be more than happy to use it ... for everything. On the bed / off the bed as table cloth, picnic cloth - wrap me up and sit outside to watch the stars quilt, take me in a tent quilt etc...
. So for all its ugliness I think it will get used loads. Well, once its finished its off to a homeless charity. A couple of my 'early works' have already gone via my niece and the recipient were so thrilled I feel almost obliged to send more.

Do you remember this quilt? Again its no beauty queen but it feels so lovely and like the quilting on this one. The pattern is called luscious leaves. I cant remember who it's by now but it quilts up lovely. I did tinker very very slightly with the pattern to remove an odd curl I didn't like.

The baby quilts I quite like. They fish one is almost 10 years old and one of the first quilts I made but never quilted. The small 'slanted' block quilt is made from one jelly roll (last year) and is basic but quite cute. The quilt with the smiley doctors and nurses was made in 2000 and one of the first I longarm quilted. I overlocked the edges but never bound it until this week! Its been used alot though. Its our 'sicky' quilt and comes out when one of the kids is poorly.

The big strippy quilt is another 'ugly' made from provided charity fabric - which I really didn't like and decided to make something as quickly as I could just to move it along. (Unfortunately its sat for over a year waiting for a binding!) As it happens I quite like this one too now! Its really cuddly - again another "chuck it around and I dont care too much about where or how I use it quilt" ... is this bad of me to refer to a quilt like this?
Anyway none of them will make Paducah thats for sure but I have had fun working on them and thats what we do this quilting lark for isn't it? For fun and because we love it! Happy Valentines to all !

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snow joke!

When you are 5 years old snowmen are very important! You have to treat them with respect and make sure they look just so! They must have the 'right' stones for their eyes, a smiley mouth and a fresh carrot nose. You then have to kiss them goodnight and whisper to them not to disappear in the night!  Oh to be 5 again!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Paper or plastic?

Its time I started writing things down! Yesterday was my MIL birthday and I made a quick trip into town to buy her something nice. I picked up a lovely boxed set of perfume and body lotion etc... that I knew she would like and duly toddled off home to wrap and deliver. Nothing odd about that except whilst wrapping it I began to get a vague recollection  of doing the very same before ....  deja vu right?   We've all experienced that at some point. But no, no that wasn't it. I made a coffee and then it came to me.  I HAD already brought the very same set for a christmas box .. this last christmas  ....the question was WHO did I give it to?  The brain didn't help ANY so I had to call my mum and ask ... "Did I send you a give you any perfume for christmas?"  No I didn't but she was able to recount all the gifts I did give her how I had wrapped them which I thought was amazing!  Uhm.... then it dawned on me ... my MIL had been the recipient and I was about to duplicate the same gift. Oh bother (or something like that!)  I really didn't want to go back into town and the local Co-op wouldn't hack it for a gift so I decided to make something for her instead.  Da da!!  Enter the Market Bag. Now I'm not sure is she would have preferred the duplicate gift or not but now she has something useful, handy and pretty to do her shopping with and should anyone ever ask at her  supermarket "paper or plastic" (which they don't in the UK)  she could reply   " No thank you .. I have Fabric"