Unboxing Boxers for Quilting a Quilt

Around the time I met my partner, I discovered boxer briefs and have hardly worn boxers since.  After several years had passed and I kept seeing them in bins of clothes, I finally took them out of the bin and placed them into a bag to donate.

We were literally leaving the house with me picking up the bag when I looked at my partner and said, “that’s an awful lot of fabric.”  For well over a year now, they have sat in a bag and made their rounds around the house and finally, last week, I pulled out the seam ripper and started the task of ripping them apart in preparation for making them into a quilt.  This was after a friend of mine inspired me to start working on a quilt again.

A few weeks ago, I had sporadically decided on which of the fabrics I was going to use for the metaphysical/mystical quilt I have been procrastinating starting.  I pulled out all of my quilting books to look for inspiration on what to make.  I selected a few projects out of a newer book I purchased and decided that it was an awfully large quilt for me to make for my second quilt (and first one in well over a year).

I turned around in my office chair remembering that I had this large bag of fabric that I was going to quilt for us to use when we are at the beach or at the park having a picnic.  I had to chuckle when I started going through the bag when I came across a pair of yellow boxers that have ants all over them.  Perfect for a picnic quilt!  (and yes, perfect timing to be making an outdoor quilt as the snow has started to fall here.)

I have a few pairs left to rip apart.  I will need to remember how to do math in hopes that I have enough (and large enough) pieces for the quilt.  Then I will need to iron and cut out the pieces and start putting the sewing machine to work!

Does anyone else have any projects they are starting on now that it is getting colder outside?

My First Quilt!

This past Friday, March 18th, I finished my first quilt!

I started off by cutting strips off of three different flannel patterns.  I measured them off on the rotary board and cut them into 5″ squares.  Each strip of fabric made for eight 5″ squares leaving me with a hole in the middle.  I did not want to cut a whole strip of the blue flannel for just one square.  I had also not decided yet what I was going to do with the edges (let alone the backing).  My initial thought was possibly using the green turtle fabric for the border and middle square:

Cutting out the Pieces

Not knowing what to do about the middle piece, I decided to just start sewing the four outer strips together.  I was so excited to have gotten just this far on my quilt:

Strip sewing #2

I decided to just cut the blue flannel and use it as the center piece figuring I would use the rest of it for another project, another time and finished sewing the top together.  Making me even more excited about getting this far with my first quilt:

Quilt top sewn together #6

With this being my first quilting project, I left myself a bit of wiggle room when I cut the piece of Warm and Natural batting.  One thing we have noticed about where we purchase our fabric, is they are not very good at cutting straight lines.  I laid out the piece of batting I had cut to measure it to see just how incredibly uneven it was (not to mention the uneven edges of the top I had sewn together).  I deliberated for some time as to whether to just sew it as is or trim up the edges first.

I had just sat down to leave it as is when I changed my mind and trimmed it up (and very glad I did).  First I trimmed up the top and then I did my best to place it evenly on the batting and safety pinned the two together.  In some spots, the batting border was closer to 2″ and others, less then an inch.  I did my best to leave about an inch batting for the border but it was up to a 1/4″ short in one spot.  We have two quilting books (one on blocks and one for general tips and how-to’s) and one of them suggested a basting gun over safety pins for basting the layers together.  If you click on the image below, you can see both the safety pins (pinning the first two layers) and the pink basting tags (holding all three layers).  I picked up a basting gun at Michael’s for about $20 after a 50% off coupon.

About to Quilt first Quilt

To finish off the quilt, I sewed the seams along each 5″ blocks.  That was quick and easy and really pointed out how crappily I pieced together the squares!  Cut me some slack though, this is after all my first quilt and I used it more as a learning piece then anything.  The border was the trickiest of the whole quilt.  My having to stitch rip three of four borders and redo them was a good learning experience in needing to slow down a bit and pay attention.

Finished First Quilt

The entire work of this project was somewhat me “winging it” and learning as I go.  I looked online enough to know I wanted a 1/4″ foot to help with the piece work and that I would need at least three layers for the quilt.  A former boss of my often said, “learning is doing” and that’s what I did.  I will make an upcoming post about the tips and tricks I learned both from blogs I read and my whoopsies from this project.

My son has already claimed it as his own stating “how cool” it was!

Full Flickr set from Quilt #1:  Quilt Photo’s on Flickr

Quilting: Sew, We Need a Sewing Machine

Quilting can be done using one of two methods:  hand quilting or machine quilting (or a combination of both).

I decided to take up quilting as one of my new hobbies that did not involve the computer.  Knowing my hands can cramp up with other crafts, I did not want to be hand quilting.  Am I cheating with this being a non-computer based hobby by using a computerized sewing machine?  I had no idea sewing machines were computerized until we started looking around for one!

Before heading out to pick up a sewing machine, we looked around online at pricing and reviews to select the sewing machine that met both our needs and budget. Because of finances and not being sure how much use we would get out of the machine, I kept looking for ones I knew I saw that were under $100 to realize just how small and cheaply made they were.  Initially, we looked at machines that were as cheap as $79 to ones that were $350.  Most of the machines in this price range did not include any sort of cover and would have been another $35-50.  Having a very curious three year old son and not having a spot in the house for it to permanently live yet, the cover was a must.

Both having mothers who have had sewing machines for 30+ years, we decided it was better to spend more money on a machine that had a longer warranty and was known to be a better brand than something that was cheaper, cheaply built and we might have to replace in the next 3-5 years.

During our online searches, we were trying to find a sewing machine that was better suited for quilting or had reviews mentioning how well they worked for quilting.  I was also trying to find a store to buy it from that I knew was good for service and was local should there be any problems.  We narrowed it down to two Kenmore sewing machines off the Sears website – one which was $350 and another that was $500.  The one at $500 had a lot of reviews that mentioned quilting, the reviews were good and the warranty looked great:

  • 25 Year Limited Warranty on internal frame defects in material or workmanship
  • 10 Year Limited Warranty on Internal Mechanical Components
  • 2 Year Limited Warranty on External Sewing Machine components
  • 2 Year Limited Warranty on Electrical Equipment
  • 90 Day Limited Warranty on Parts and Labor

Because of the warranty, reviews and features, we decided to get the $500 machine.  This was a lot more then I was initially wanting to spend but we both viewed it as an investment for our family on an item we would use for many years to come – whether for quilting or say, patching up a foot long tear in our sons snow pants he needed to wear for the last few days of winter.  To help bring the cost down, we redeemed enough Sears points to get a $60 gift card and used a coupon to obtain more points for another $50 Sears gift card.  We also bought the three year servicing service through Sears for $79.99 that allows us to get the machine tuned up once a year among other things.

As luck always seems to have it for us picking up bigger items at the Sears in Kelowna, we had to order one in which took about a week to arrive because at the time, no trucks were driving through the Rocky Mountains from Edmonton.  I was also at the time awaiting the arrival of my new Canon T2i that we ordered online through Sears website on Boxing Day which was back ordered and finally arrived almost seven weeks after being ordered.

The Sewing Machine

Can you believe I was actually more excited about the arrival of our sewing machine then my new dSLR?  Certainly made that last week of waiting for my camera go by faster!  (and gave me something to take a picture of the sewing machine with)