Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Rebecca and the Magical, Magnetical Quilt Guild Name Tag: A Tutorial

Good morning, my lovelies!  I've been away from the blog for a couple of weeks, busy with a trip to Chicago to visit with my sister and nephew, a couple of interior design projects for clients, and keeping up with the reading for a class I'm taking.  But last night I finished my quilt guild name tag, and I can't wait to share it with you.  I even put together a little tutorial in case you'd like to make a magnetic name tag of your own.

Headless Helena Models My New Guild Name Tag
To recap, I finally joined my local quilt guild recently and needed a handmade fabric name tag to wear at meetings and workshops.  Since I have so many projects already in progress (and so little time to work on any of them), I rummaged around in my studio and came up with an orphan sawtooth star block to use rather than starting from scratch.  I machine embroidered my name as legibly as possible -- not sure whether the last name was necessary, but put it on there to be safe so I wouldn't need to make another one -- and did some basic SID and walking foot quilting around the star.  

Pretty Boring Quilting, But It Gets the Job Done
I had originally selected a black and white striped binding fabric, but after sewing it down and mitering all eight corners and then hand stitching it to the back, I was REALLY unhappy with my inability to get the stripes matched up where the binding ends joined.  With the corners of this tiny quilt so close together, I just didn't have enough room to finesse the stripes into a perfect pattern match and I ended up with one heavy black stripe on one side:

First Binding Attempted, Rejected and Removed
Blech!  See what I mean?  My eye just goes right to that awful double black stripe on the right side of the name tag.  The other thing is that, on a regular size quilt, the proportion of binding fabric to main body of the quilt is much smaller.  I felt like, on a small piece like this name tag, the striped binding was distracting and overwhelming, not the subtle pop I was looking for.  I put the project in Time Out for a few days to see if the binding would grow on me and whether I could get over the awkward join, but in the end I had to rip off the binding and do it over.  

The Magnet Magic!
None of this is terribly exciting.  What I AM excited about is that my name tag doesn't hang on strings around my neck or attach with pins that might snag my favorite sweater or blouse -- it's MAGNETIC!  The neodymium magnets are super strong and will even hold the name tag securely through a thick sweater; I tested it to be sure.  Here's how I did this.

First, you need the magnet hardware.  Many businesses use these magnetic name tags now (I first discovered the concept when my teenage son got a job at the grocery store).  I looked locally at Michael's, JoAnn's, and Staples and nobody had them, but Amazon came to my rescue once again:


The magnet bars aren't expensive -- at the time of this post, you can get a 10-pack for $7.99 with Prime shipping.  You can make yourself a different name tag for every season, or make some as gifts for your friends. 

As you see above, the magnetic hardware consists of two pieces.  There's a thin metal rectangle with smooth corners that has 3M adhesive foam on one side, and there's a thin rectangle plastic piece with smooth corners that has the two magnets attached.  They do sell versions with three magnets instead of two, but my experience is that two magnets is plenty strong enough to get the job done.  The metal bar is the part that gets permanently attached to the back side of your name tag, and the plastic bar with magnets attached is the piece that you snap in place on the underside of your clothing.

That 3M adhesive tape on the back of the metal bar is what you would use to adhere the metal bar to the back of a plastic or aluminum name tag, but I sliced it right off with an Exacto knife since I'm going to sew the metal bar into the back of my fabric name tag.  A razor blade would work, too.  You don't have to be fanatical about removing all of the foam, either, as long as you get rid of most of the bulk and all of the sticky glue.

I attached the metal bar to the back of the name tag with a tiny little sleeve, made the way you would make a hanging sleeve for a quilt show.  I cut a rectangle out of my name tag backing fabric, folded it in half WST, and sewed along the two long raw edges.  Then I centered that seam and pressed the little tube flat with my iron.  I didn't measure this piece, just eyeballed it so it would finish close to the width of the metal bar, but with enough loose fabric at the edges for me to hand stitch it to the back of my name tag.

Fabric Tube/Sleeve For Metal Bar
I knew I wanted to position that metal bar about a third of the way down from the top of my name tag -- high enough that it didn't flop down when I was wearing it, but with that metal bar far away from where I would be machine stitching the binding.  But I didn't want the metal bar to slide around inside the fabric casing, so I used my zipper foot to sew a triple straight stitch right up against both short ends of the magnet, trapping it in the center of the tube.

Trapping the Metal Bar In the Center of the Fabric Tube
Next, I positioned this little fabric tube horizontally across the back side of my name tag, trimmed the raw edges of the sleeve even with the edges of the name tag, and secured the short edges with machine stitching about 3/8" in from the raw edges, so the machine stitching would be concealed by my binding.

At this point, you could go ahead and stitch the long edges of the fabric tube down to the backing fabric by hand, but I chose to attach my binding to the front of my name tag first and then secure the long sides of my sleeve when I was hand stitching my binding to the back side of the name tag.  

Long Edges of Sleeve Secured by Hand Stitching
Easy-peasy, but oh-so-snazzy!  Now I have a name tag for the November guild meeting, which is tomorrow evening.  I haven't decided whether I need to jazz my name tag up with any embellishments or if I prefer it plain and simple, the way it is, but at least it's done!

To Bling Or Not To Bling, That Is the Question...
I mean, I could still add some beads, or sequins, or French knots, or additional "big stitch" quilting by hand in a decorative thread...  Heck, I could wire it up with a battery pack and blinking lights if I REALLY wanted to draw attention to myself (not!).

What's next on my sewing agenda?  Well, I still need to load up that outreach cuddle quilt on my longarm machine and get it quilted.  I'm running out the door for an appointment in a few minutes, but hopefully I'll get to that this evening.  Anyway, that's my To-Do for Tuesday weekly goal.

This Outreach Quilt Top is STILL Not Loaded for Quilting!
Happy Tuesday and happy stitching!  Today I'm linking up with: 

  ·       To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things: http://stitchallthethings.com

Friday, October 19, 2018

Desperately Seeking Squares: The Pursuit of Pineapple Piecing Perfection Continues

I got my first two rows of pineapple log cabin blocks sewn together yesterday!  Woo-hoo!

I still have the mailing label stickers on all of the block centers because I'm paranoid about messing up the layout.  Pinning these blocks together is going SO slowly and, now that I'm trying to pin two complete rows together, the pins I've already put in are getting caught up on each other and getting pulled out...  Grrr...  

I've got my #97D Patchwork foot with seam guide on my Bernina, which I love -- because it lets me focus 100% of my attention AHEAD of the needle and presser foot, so I can make sure the raw fabric edges are perfectly aligned and the lower seam allowances aren't flipped BEFORE they get to the needle.  But using that seam guide means my pins are in "backwards," with the pin heads to the left and the tips of the pins pointing to the right, and no part of the pin is protruding beyond the edge of the fabric.  

See How I'm Using Just the Tip of My Pins?
That's why it's so easy for my pins to get caught on things and pulled out accidentally while I'm working with these large sections in my lap.  I wish I had some extra fine but SHORT pins for this, like 1/2" sequin or applique pins.  Do those even come extra fine?  If anyone knows of a good source for them, or has any other ideas for me to try, please share in the comments!

First Two Rows Together!
So I now understand why this Fons & Porter foundation paper piecing pattern was rated "Challenging!"  Paper piecing the blocks was time-consuming but super easy, even beginner friendly, but joining these blocks together once they are pieced, with a bazillion non-nesting seam allowances fighting you every step of the way, is like wrestling a grizzly bear or trying to catch a greased pig...  Or like trying to prevent your teenager from eating potato chips and Pop Tarts in his bed...  You get the idea.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!
My favorite thing about this design is the secondary pattern of green and blue four-pointed stars when the blocks are joined together, with "twinkling" red center squares, and I was worried about accuracy at the block intersections.  The (free!) Fons & Porter pattern is a reproduction of a 19th century quilt owned by the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, and as you can see from the close up below, the original quiltmaker had some trouble where the blocks come together.  I felt like, with all the advantages of 21st century technology at my disposal, I ought to be able to piece squares at the block corners rather than rhombuses, rectangles or kites.

Original 19th Century Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt
So it really felt good to press this seam open and see my completed four point stars with cute little red SQUARES in the center for the first time yesterday!

As Square As I Can Manage

With 36 blocks rather than 16, my quilt is twice as large as the original even before factoring in the borders mine will have.  Here's that original 19th century quilt again:
Full View of Original Quilt, 74 x 76

I absolutely love how vibrant and MODERN this antique quilt feels, don't you?  Although, gotta confess -- with as long as I've been working on this quilt, I've got misgivings about actually putting it on my bed and sleeping under it once it's finished.  Maybe I should make a clear vinyl "duvet cover" to protect it like the Italian grandmothers used to put on their sofas?

Clear Vinyl Cover For My Pineapple Quilt?  Yea or Nay?
-- Can you believe that I sewed ONE seam and I have THIS MUCH to say about it?

Okay, break's over -- back to work, everyone!  Today I'm linking up with:
Whoop Whoop Fridays at www.confessionsofafabricaddict.blogspot.com 

Finished Or Not Friday at www.busyhandsquilts.blogspot.com 

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