Learn to Quilt: Custom Table Runner (Craftsy class project)

Christmas pinwheel quilt table runner
Table runner quilt with half square triangle pinwheels for Christmas

My latest beginner sewing project is the fantastic and easy Custom Table Runner Quilt by Craftsy. This simple quilting project uses half square triangles in a compact quilt. I got practice making pinwheel quilt blocks and machine quilting the top of the quilt, but because this is a small scale projct I did not feel overwhelmed or frustrated. In fact, this class would help a beginner quilter learn new skills and increase their sewing confidence!

pinwheel christmas table runner
Custom quilted table runner for christmas table setting. Half square triangles for pinwheels.
quilt binding rippling
A little rippling on my quilt binding. Oh well.

Since I don’t often use a table runner, I opted for a holiday quilted table runner. I decided to use Christmas fabric and challenge myself to make a pinwheel quilt design. I am thrilled with my Christmas table runner quilt. Its not perfect, but I never thought I would be able to make a half-square triangle or a pinwheel design. The Craftsy sewing class instructor, Amy Gibson, made the quilt chain piecing process clear and straightforward. I know can now easily apply the skills taught in this class to another table runner or even a bigger quilting project.

One thing I need to do differently next time is be more exact with my binding. I have to make sure my quarter inch seam is accurate when machine binding the quilt. I had to pull the binding quite tight on the other side of my quilt to try to cover my stitching seam,so there is some rippling on the edge of the quilt binding. I decided to finish the quilt by machine binding it, because the hand stitched binding was too painful and frustrating for me.

christmas pinwheel quilt table runner
Christmas table runner quilt with half square triangle pinwheels
pinwheel quilt with matchstick
Pinwheel quilt pieced by chain piecing. I used a half inch straight line (almost matchstick!) to machine quilt the top using my walking foot attachment on my sewing machine.

Ironing Mat/ Ironing Pad

Let’s face it, one of the negative aspects of sewing as a hobby is the ironing. I hate ironing. Especially ironing entire yards of fabric on a tiny postage stamp-like ironing board. Its hard to get started on a project knowing that I will have to spend an hour moving and repositioning fabric on the ironing board before I can start to actually sew anything.

sew ironing board cover
Sew an Ironing Mat or Ironing Blanket

Recently my ironing board broke and I had to throw it out. Instead of just buying a new one I decided to make a large ironing mat. I also decided to fully commit and make a huge one. I followed the ironing mat tutorial on Little Birdie Secrets.

The ironing mat has four layers:

  1. Therma-Flec Fabric: The silver (sometimes tan) surface that you actually iron on. AKA ironing board fabric.
  2. Insul-Bright Needlepunched Insulated Lining – 36″ x 45″
    : Heat resistant material that reflects heat back so the iron can do its thing.
  3. 100% Cotton Batting:Cotton to protect what ever you choose to lay your ironing mat on top of (i.e., the table, floor, or bed).
  4. Backing fabric: Hopefully cute fabric to hold it all together. Sometimes 100% cotton home decorating fabric is recommended for extra heat protection.

The four layers are quilted together and bound at the edges (I used double fold bias tape). I also added ribbon at the edges so the ironing mat can be rolled up and tied to stay shut for storage.

You are not supposed to pin the Therma-Flec to the Insul-Bright or or other layers because the pins will damage the ironing material. Use basting spray to hold it in place for the quilting. I used Basting Spray for the first time, and I have been converted to a believer. Basting spray is the way to go for any quilting project.

The #1 thing I would do differently is sew on the Therma-Flec/ silver Ironing Board fabric last. Each time I attached a fabric layer to the therma-flec, it bubbled up and is no longer flat. Of course you want a flat surface for ironing on, so ugh. I think it will still work just fine but this is kind of disappointing.

I will say that sewing on the binding through so many layers of thick fabric was very difficult! There were a lot of broken needles and broken thread! Is this what quilting machines are for?

Now there is nothing stopping me from starting a new sewing or quilting project, except the tedious process of ironing itself.

Craftsy Class: Beginner Serging: Exposed Zipper Bag

My latest sewing project is the “Exposed Zipper Bag” from the Craftsy Online Beginner Serging Class. So far I love this class. It is appropriate for the serger novice like me. The Exposed Zipper Bag is fully-lined squared off small pouch with pull tabs at each end of the zipper. It would be a perfect pencil case or makeup bag for a quick sewing project. Um, my bag is missing the pull tabs. I am going to call this a design element rather than a mistake.

Exposed Zipper Bag from the Craftsy Serger Class
Exposed Zipper Bag from the Craftsy Serger Class

Even though my serging is still totally sloppy and uneven it is miles better than it was before I started this class. I couldn’t thread my serger, so it sat in my closet untouched. Now I am wondering if I will need a better serger someday (hmm a Babylock with auto tension?). FYI, if you are buying a sewing machine or serger it is important to look up the sewing machine review and the price that others pay for their machines first on Pattern Review, and to also post the price that you paid. The retail price is apparently kept secret by the manufacturers and customers have to negotiate price with dealers. Lame.

The Exposed Zipper Bag is the first project in the Craftsy class for serging. I haven’t done the other projects (a multi-ruffled apron and a scarf) yet. The instructor of the class does a great job, so I think I will complete these classes too. Plus the Craftsy website is actually very user friendly. The instructional videos are easy for a student to use because they let you replay a part of the video over and over automatically so you can understand that tough new technique. The videos integrate student questions and so far the instructors seem very responsive to questions.

I needed a lot of help start serging at all. I found a few websites that helped me develop some remedial serger skills. The post on Fiberosity (Serger 101) helped with basic information and balancing tensions. The post on Make it Handmade (Perfecting Serger/Overlocker tension) was particurally helpful with threading advice and stitch length and stitch width information.

This was a fun project that didn’t take long. I plan on making more of these, perhaps in some sort of waterproof fabric. I hope everyone like their Christmas presents!

Craftsy Beginning Serger Class: Exposed Zipper Bag
Craftsy Beginning Serger Class: Exposed Zipper Bag

craftsy beginner serging exposed zipper bag

craftsy serging project 1 exposed zipper bag open

DIY Custom Marimekko Slipcover for Cheap!

Well Baby M is 10 months old, and my furniture is suffering at his sticky little hands. Ever try telling a baby not to drool all over the couch? It does no good. Since the fabric bench in his little play area was rapidly getting covered in slobber and banana mush, I decided I had to act fast and get a slipcover to protect it. I could not find a ready made slipcover to fit the bench, so I wanted to sew a slipcover to cover it. I went to the local Crate and Barrel Outlet to get affordable Marimekko fabric. At four dollars a yard, the outlet Marimekko fabric is affordable. The selection is not fantastic, as there are no smaller-scale and multi-colored prints available. I settled on a lime green on lime green circle print, Marimekko “kivet” fabric, to sew my custom slipcover.

Marimekko Kivet Green Fabric
Marimekko Kivet Fabric in Green. The right side is bright and the wrong side is muted.

The process of sewing my custom couch slipcover went well, considering that I have no real idea how to sew a slipcover. My slipcover design is meant to just drape over the couch and come off very easily for frequent washing (remember I am dealing with a messy baby here).

Marimekko Couch Slipcover DIY
Custom Marimekko Slipcover

I followed the basic slipcover tutorial instructions on honeybearlane: drape your fabric pieces on the couch inside-out and pin in place to get the right shape and fit. I didn’t sew any cushion covers or anything complicated like that: its just some Marimekko fabric in the shape of a couch. Next time I make a slipcover, I may use this helpful slipcover tutorial on Sew Mama Sew.

I did not sew down the top of the main couch cushion, so the slipcover has more than enough give to easily come on and off. After staring at my lime green fabric for a while I got sick of looking at it and began to hate it. I sewed the slipcover wrong side out, for a muted lime green pastel effect. To counter the baby drool problem, I added a layer of waterproof PUL fabric behind the slip cover.

DIY Slipcover and Bolster Pillows
DIY Slipcover and Bolster Pillows with Marimekko Kivet Fabric from Crate and Barrel Outlet

To complete the slipcover project, I made matching bolster pillow covers. I used the bolster pillow tutorial on Pretty Prudent, minus the piping detail. Also, I improvised an envelope pillow opening since there is no way I am going to hand sew the cover on. My first pillow is pretty sloppy to be honest. But I learned from my mistakes and the second pillow turned out better. Next time I make a bolster pillow I will probably shorten the length of the main pillow fabric to make a tighter fitting envelope pillow cover.