Monday, 28 September 2015

French Teacher Tees - Batman

Almost the end of September already! It's such a busy month and it always goes by fast. In the first few weeks of school, I've met lots of new faces, most of them small. Superheroes seem to be popular across all ages lately, in movies, television shows and books. Kindergarten is no exception.

Personally, I watch Arrow and The Flash, though before I wasn't really into superheroes. Inspired by one student's love of Batman, I made this shirt using freezer paper, letter stencils, fabric paint and a black tee from Michael's. There are lots of tutorials online for painting shirts with this method if you want to make one yourself.

I added my French teacher take on the Batman theme - na na, na na, na na, na na Batman! Yep, pretty cheesy:) But also French, fun and I can wear it while teaching Phys. Ed.  I can't wait to see their reactions tomorrow!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Birthday Week Sale

Today starts Birthday week in my house! The four cakes have been ordered, presents bought and the candles are ready. In honour of birthday week, I thought I'd have a pattern sale in my Etsy shop.

From today, September 20th, until September 30th,  my patterns will be 50% off. 

I've made three different Edge Totes and use them every day. They sew together pretty quickly and the pattern leaves lots of room to customize them.

The bags would make great gifts for birthdays and the approaching holiday season.

I've also made two full-sized quilts from my Tilted pattern along with a baby quilt.


Lone Wolf


This pattern definitely allows for many variations as well. The pattern comes with an additional PDF including 36 variations for full-sized quilts, baby quilts and table runners.
If you make any projects with my patterns, I'd love to see them! I'm @theironandneedle on Instagram  or you can use #theironandneedle or send me an email. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

A Weighted Blanket

I recently made a simple quilt top using a whole bunch of scraps. I had a lot of green and blue scraps in my stash that I wanted to use up. I chose as many of them as I could and added a few purples and greys. I cut the bigger pieces into 9 1/2" squares (20) and smaller scraps into 5" squares (80). I also used part of a charm pack of Simply Color by V&Co. for some of my 5" squares. The quilt top came together pretty quickly, even with lots of pressing and cutting of different fabrics. This layout would be even quicker if you used a charm pack (5" squares) and a layer cake (10" squares). My quilt top is 45" x 72", though it could easily be made bigger or smaller. 

To piece together the quilt, I piled my 5" squares by colour, then chain pieced them in pairs. The piles made sure I didn't have two greens or two blues together. Once I had my pairs, I pressed the seams to the darker side and chain pieced two pairs together to make four-patches. Then I laid the four patches and 9 1/2" squares out on the floor in a 5 x 8 grid. I made a sort of checkerboard pattern and moved colours and patterns around to balance them out. I sewed each row, then all of the rows together. 

I confess in the beginning I was wary of some of the colour combinations that were coming out of my chain piecing. I've seen so many beautiful scrappy quilts though, that I wanted to give up control over some of the design choices and leave it to fate. I ended up with some great fabric combinations and some strange ones. Overall, I really like the effect, with the mixes of colours, values and prints. Looking at the intersections, I keep noticing new pairings that I wouldn't have thought of. 

I used this quilt top to make a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets are used for many reasons, including by children with Autism or a sensory processing disorder. I don't claim to know much about the research behind them, but I believe that the weight stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine, which calm you. This can also help you sleep better. As an elementary teacher and sewer, I've been asked how you would make one before, so I did a little research. I also favour heavy comforters, and thought I'd make one to test out the construction and see if it improved my sleep.

To turn my quilt top into a weighted blanket, I used a piece of backing the same size as the quilt top and matched it up with the quilt right sides together. I sewed along the sides and bottom, leaving the top open. Then I turned it right-side out and pressed the edges. I topstitched 1/4" along both sides and the bottom as well.

Then I pinned the top and backing together along the centre, running the length of quilt. I pinned halfway between the centre line and each of the edges too.

Using a variegated blue and green thread, I sewed 1/4" on one side of the seam for each of the three lines I pinned. Once those three lines were done, I was able to sew along each of the other seams without pinning. So I had lines of stitching along the 9 seams running the length of the quilt. For the 9 1/2" blocks I marked a line running down the centre, like the seams in the four-patches. I added a line of stitching 1/4" on the other side of each of the seams, making 18 lines. I started and ended each line of stitching with an end stitch/tie-off.

This stitching served as channels for the weight in my weighted blanket - poly-pellets. Poly pellets are small, clear plastic pellets that look like large grains of salt. They're non-toxic and machine washable, but not exactly cheap. I calculated that I would have 160 squares to fill and wanted my blanket to weigh 15 lbs. That meant I needed 1.5 oz. of pellets in each square. I used a food scale to figure out how many pellets weighed 1.5 oz. It ended up being about 1/4 cup. I used my 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the pellets and dump them down the channels, all the way to the bottom of the blanket. I was careful to leave the open end of the blanket facing up so that the pellets didn’t spill out. It was easier with the beginning rows, but as I got to the last five rows or so, I rolled the open ends closed and clipped them closed with my Wonder clips. I pushed the pellets away from my presser foot and stitched 1/4" on either side of the seam running along the bottom row. I did an end stitch at both ends. This kept the pellets in each square. Then I sewed 1/4" on the other side of the seam, starting at the other end this time. This means that my pellets are not exposed to the seams in the quilt top, which will help keep them from spilling out. By having a double row of stitching, if any stitching rips, I can fix it without the pellets spilling into another section. 

There are no photos of this, because, I’ll be honest, sewing the pellets in is a bit tedious.  You have to go slowly, and push the pellets out of the way of the presser foot before you sew each section, so that they don't get in the way. I did break two needles when I sped up and the needle hit a pellet. 

For the last row, I folded the edges under twice, facing the back of the blanket, and sewed two lines of stitching along the edge to finish the blanket off. 

Here's the finished product!

It matches my current bed quilt pretty well. 

I like a lot of the fabric combinations created by my scraps. 

This corner is one of my favourites.

Here's a view of the back. It's a teal green crosshatch I picked up as a remnant in Nova Scotia two summers ago and by piecing it, there was just enough for this blanket.

The pellets are loose and flow within their pockets, so that the blanket isn't too stiff. Overall, the weighted blanket wasn't difficult to put together. If you used one piece of wide fabric for the top or a layer cake (10" squares), it would go together much faster, even the filling part. The seams in my blocks would sometimes block the pellets from going where I wanted them, which slowed me down when sewing the pellets in. I'll have to see how the weighted blanket holds up and works for me. 

If you're looking to make a weighted blanket, I hope you find this post useful. If not, you have another way to use up some scraps to make a quick quilt top. 

I'd love to hear from you with any comments or questions :)

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Kirsten's Gadget Case

Here's the second project I've helped make from Handmade Style. My cousin Kirsten and I made a Gadget Case for her phone. It was her first time sewing, so we shared the work. The case came together quickly and I'm sure there are more in my future! I think these would be great little gifts and I'd like to try some with my scrap home decor fabric.

I picked up the fabric for this one a few years ago at Joann Fabrics in the states. The case holds a phone on one side and has two slots for cards on the other side. Kirsten picked some decorative stitches from my machine to add some fun detail to the card slots :)

Have to love a quick project you can use right away!

Monday, 14 September 2015

September and a new laptop case

Ah, September. Labour Day passes, school starts and though less than a week has passed, I find myself wearing jeans and shoes again. From bikinis to boots in five days. There are dry leaves on my path and I'm not sure where summer went, but it seems to be gone for now. 

For me, the Tuesday after Labour Day marks the start of a new year much more than January first ever will. I'm a teacher, so a new school year has always felt like the start of the year for me. The students come back taller and tanned and we all have stories to share, from running wild for the past two months. My baseball season is winding down, hockey is about to start and it's time to get back into routines. I'm trying to hold on to the best parts of summer and make them part of my routine. Taking time to paddle, go outside, sit and read and hang out with my cousins. I've cut a lot of time out of my commute, so I'm hoping these things will be easier to fit in.

September is also birthday month in my family. Both my parents, my twin brother and I have our birthdays within about a week, which means 4 cakes and a lot of presents for my sister to buy ;) I'll have to pick out a gluten-free cake this year. Birthday week seems like a good time for a pattern sale too, don't you think?

This year I was given a school laptop, which is very exciting, as we're making the shift to Google Classrooms and I already use my laptop a lot for school. My personal laptop was getting old and now it has more room for my photos and EQ7 on it too :) The laptop cases weren't available yet, so I decided to make my own. I usually carry my Roots leather messenger bag to school, with my laptop in a padded sleeve inside, plus a tote bag for my lunch and shoes and water bottles. Christy from Love You Sew recently posted a tutorial for a Padded Laptop Case that suited my purposes perfectly.

I made a few changes to the pattern so that I could use materials I had on hand. Instead of using the Flex Foam for padding, I used a double layer of some thin cotton batting and quilted it to the outside fabric before I started. I used a single layer of batting for the pocket and quilted it as well, instead of using interfacing. I like the effect of the quilting, but did find it made my seams too thick for the last line of topstitching and I had a bit of trouble with it. So you should probably just follow her instructions - ha! Or maybe just use a single layer of batting if you want to quilt yours too.

I've been going through a lot of magnetic snaps lately, so instead I opted to use a big button (thanks Grandma, for the wide selection!) and a small hair elastic sewn into the seam of the top flap. I was going to get KAM snaps, but couldn't find them and got lazy and decided to go without. I like the option of putting cords in the pocket, but my messenger bag has lots of pockets already and the case fits in snugly enough that the pocket doesn't gape open on me anyway.

I used some of the first quilting fabric I ever bought, which has been sitting on the shelf for a few years waiting for the right project. I decided my letters and typewriter buttons would be perfect for a school laptop case! I decided to use the lining fabric for the pocket as well, to add a little contrast.

It was a fairly quick and fun project and I'm happy with how it turned out. How do you feel about September? Is it the start of the year for you as well? What are your sewing plans?

I'd love to see your thoughts in the comments :)

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Jewel Burst Raffle Quilt

I am finally finished the Jewel Burst quilt I made for my church's Thanksgiving Raffle. I was planning on finishing it early summer, end of July by the latest, but life got in the way. You know, other projects, kayaking, paddle boarding, floating in the water, bonfires, board games, a wedding quilt and baby quilt to sneak in - all the important things. But I knew I had to finish it before the end of summer so it could go on display at the back of the church. Plus school was about to start in a week and September is always busy.

I don't believe I shared any pictures of the finished top, as I normally do, as it was a grey and rainy day at the lake, in our little cottage. The triangle measurements were giving me trouble and I was getting frustrated and ready to scrap the pattern writing I was doing. Since then, the quilt has turned out, so sometime soon (no promises of when) I will be finalizing the pattern and looking for some testers who are willing to make some minor tweaks if necessary. I'm toying with the possibility of a tree skirt pattern as well, as suggested by the owner of my local quilt shop.

I went with Kona Bay Hibiscus for the background, which I used to back my first Jewel Burst Quilt. I chose a variety of greys and whites for the focal fabrics, including some Botanics and Color me Happy. Those seem to go with everything. For the backing, I used a batik for the first time. I LOVE it! I think it would make a great whole-cloth quilt on its own.

I did the same straight line quilting inside the jewel burst, marking it with a water-soluble pen this time. I echo quilted around it, using variegated thread, then did some free-motion loops and double double-loops to fill the negative space. I quilted the inner triangle border with straight lines (without marking ;) and free-motioned a wishbone pattern in the outer border. I'm very happy with the look of the variegated thread and the quilt in general.

For comparison, here are the two Jewel Burst quilts together.

Overall, the quilt comes together fairly quickly and I think has a big impact for a simple design.

I'm linking up over at TGIFF and Show Off Saturday!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Wings - Fabri-Quilt New Block Blog Hop

Today I'm participating in the Fabric-Quilt New Block Blog Hop. Along with 63 other quilt bloggers, I have designed a new block with a free tutorial using a fat eighths bundle of Fabri-Quilt's bright solids.  For any new visitors, welcome to the Iron and Needle! I hope you're enjoying the Blog Hop. If you haven't been following along, you can check out the other blocks by visiting our hosts, or checking out this Pinterest board. You can also visit today's host, Stephanie, for a chance to win some of this fabric.

Monday, August 31st

Host – Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl

Tuesday, September 1st
Host – Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs

Wednesday, September 2nd
Host – Stephanie @Late Night Quilter

Thursday, September 3rd

Host – Terri Ann @Childlike Fascination

We've had a great variety of beautiful blocks with this bright fabric. They're just my kind of colours, and I'd like to thank Fabri-Quilt for supplying the fabric for this project. The 64 finished blocks are being sent to our hosts, who will sew them into 3 quilts for charity. I can't wait to see what the finished quilts look like. 

I'm happy to share my block with you today. It's a simple, foundation paper-pieced design, with good potential for secondary patterns when sewn into a whole quilt of these blocks. I named it "Wings" because the lapis blue, chartreuse and turquoise fabrics coming out from the centre reminded me of wings. 

Here's how you make it:

1. Print, cut out and assemble your foundation pattern and templates. Use the templates, your cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler to cut your fabric. If you are new to paper piecing, you may want to cut your pieces a little bigger than the templates.  

Chartreuse – 1 from A, 1 from E
Turquoise – 1 from B, 1 from D
Aqua– 2 from C, 1 from B
Lapis Blue– 1 from E, 1 from A
White– 2 from C, 1 from D

2. For each piece of the foundation pattern, you will sew C first, then C, D, E, A and B. Pin the first piece C to the back of the foundation pattern, right side out, so that the edges hang 1/4” over all sides of the template lines.

3. Pin the second piece C to the first piece, right side down. Turn the template over and stitch along the line.

4. Press the second piece C over. Use a piece of cardstock to help fold along the next line. Use a ruler along the edge of the fold to trim the excess fabric to 1/4” past the paper. 

5. Continue following the same steps for pieces D, E, A and B. Line piece D up along the trimmed edge of piece C. Flip over and sew along the line. Press open. Fold the paper along the next line. Trim the fabric to 1/4”.  

6. Once you have finished the first template piece, repeat with the second template piece.

7. Match your two template pieces up on the sides where the points meet. Pin, sew and press.

It’s a simple block to put together and an easy introduction into paper piecing, with a nice effect! 

Here are a few ways you can turn this block into a quilt:

Check out the blogs below for more new blocks and visit our host, Stephanie, @Late Night Quilter for a chance to win a 1/2 yard bundle of the palette. 

Here is the PDF of the foundation pattern and template pieces. 

Wednesday, September 2nd
Host – Stephanie @Late Night Quilter
Hannah @Modern Magnolia Studio
Cindy @Stitchin At Home
Abby @Hashtag Quilt
Lisa @Sunlight in Winter Quilts
Carrie @Chopping Block Quilts
Brianna @The Iron and Needle
Tish @Tish’s Adventures in Wonderland
Jan @The Colorful Fabriholic
Sarah @Smiles Too Loudly
Beth @Cooking Up Quilts
Leanne @Devoted Quilter
Liz @LizzyClips Design
Kim @Leland Ave Studios