BoMs changing to Sew Alongs

Hello Friends!
I am here today to announce a change in how I share ongoing projects.

Many of you have seen the scamming sites that lift artwork and pictures from pattern designers. Then use them to sell a fake quilt. This has caused me such headaches. The only way I can personally combat this theft and misuse is to not put artwork out there to be lifted!

Instead of sharing free BoMs with images of the blocks each month on my website, I will now be hosting Sew-Alongs.

What is a sew-along? Well, it is a lot like the BoMs I have offered for years. Except that you do not need to remember to visit my website and download blocks. Instead, you are joining an email newsletter that will automatically send you the download link each time a block is released.
The BIG change? A one-time fee that guarantees email delivery right to your inbox. By the end of the sew-along, you will have the complete pattern set! If you are joining late, any blocks already released will be waiting for you. You will not miss a thing! Although you do want to register early, for with the release of each new block the one-time registration fee will increase slightly, (never to exceed the cost of the complete pattern).

Show and Tell, and personal announcements of block releases will be offered in my FatCat Friends group over on Facebook.

Alright, so why charge a registration fee?
Basically, because newsletter type emails cost money to send out 🙁
And there is the fact that when we have to pay for something, we value it a little bit more.
We tend to care more. I am desperately hoping this will translate into folks paying attention to copyright.

This has been a hard decision for me to make. I have been sharing free patterns and BoMs for over 20 years now. I am trying really hard not to feel like I am letting you guys down!

Sewing Vanity

Ever since I brought home the Pfaff I have had a difficult time sitting and sewing. The machine is big and I am short. Let’s add to that I am also cheap and cannot justify one of the elaborate sewing tables. One evening I got a bright idea! I started looking at antique vanities on the FaceBook Market Place.
 I found this diamond in the rough about an hour away from us. Jon was Mr. Wonderful and dedicated a full Saturday to drive me to pick it up and drag it inside here. The mirror needed a lot of TLC. It had separated from the backing and was not secured into the frame. That saddened me, but Jon was 100% confident he could repair it and make it even better than original. We got her moved into the bedroom corner. Next was a good cleaning and a rub down with lemon oil. Some of that wood really needed a drink! The fun part was next. Moving all my sewing gadgets and gizmos into the drawers. Finally, placing the Pfaff into the center cubby.

A few weekends later Jon got to work on the mirror. That baby is HUGE!
Four foot across and so pretty. He removed the old nails. Added in some shims as bracing. Then some of that foam sheeting you pack dishes in. Finally, he drilled new holes and screwed the backing into place. He was right! It is now very stable and secure. It is so nice to have a handyman at my beck and call 🙂

With my old desk, I could not lower my chair in order to reach the sewing machine. The vanity allows my machine to sit almost Seven inches lower! 
This allows me to sew more comfortably and for longer periods of time.
In order to use my extended bed, Pfaff had to be raised up on a cut board and a book 🙂 Book will be replaced with another board soon. This allows everything to sit level. And I really need to sew up a pretty little machine skirt to hide the ugliness.

Here we are all set up and snugged into my sewing corner!

So for my Thrifting friends here is the breakdown.
Vintage highboy holding my fabric stash – 30 dollars
Vintage vanity – 120 dollars
Goofy little shelf holding…well…crap – 5 dollars. 

Fiesta! and Siesta! BoM

Hello there!
 It has now been almost 2 years since the transfer and I opened up a box labeled UFO projects. Much to my horror, I discovered that crickets had gotten into the box somewhere along the way, and had eaten holes into my unfinished Fiesta blocks!
 Then I figured if I was going to remake the quilt, why not let you sew along with me?! The pattern has gone through a revamp, so now offers a borderless (Siesta) version also. The patches have also been marked with color names. It is also not as hard of an applique pattern as it appears to be.
  As I am making this for myself, my top is not going to be made in the given color scheme. Instead, I am going with something that matches my current decor. This is where labeling the patches with their specific color comes in handy. You can easily change schemes yourself just by changing the colors written on the patches. I will show you a couple of options 🙂

 So how do you get the blocks???
Each month on the 1st I will upload the free block for that month. Just visit www.fatcatpatterns.com to order and download your block. If you are interested come join us at FatCat Friends on Facebook to chat and share pictures of your progress.
 So how can we make this project easier?
If you do not already have one, see through Teflon pressing sheets are a true time saver in Fusible Applique. The ones I use are from Ruspepa and can be found on Amazon here. Here is a picture of some of my pre-assembled patches using a pressing sheet. Once they cool off you just peel them off of the sheet. You can then easily move the patches around on your base block for correct placement! Fabric choice can make things go smoother too. Batik fabrics are very popular now. They do not fray as badly and you keep a nice crisp edge while cutting and sewing. I am using a batik for my background fabric and the green in my blocks. The pattern shows a layout diagram on each block page. So I have cut all of my blocks and then ironed them into quarters so the creases will act as guides for my patch placement. These are big blocks! Having the ironed creases for guides will let you place your pre-assembled patches with ease. If you are not pre-assembling your patches, you can still do this 🙂 just take your time. Here is my block # 1 placed and waiting to be ironed down.

2019 BoMs

Look!

The block of the month projects for 2019 have been announced!

Both of these are designed for easy fusible applique. They are scrap and fat quarter friendly.
First blocks will be offered on January 1, 2019
On the first of each month, a new block will be offered.
Blocks will only be available for free during the month they are offered.
Missed blocks will be available for a small fee.
So how do you follow along? I do not offer an email list, but I do have a couple of groups you can join in on for update announcements.

The Pfaff experience

 Since I began quilting, my main machine has been the wonderful Singer 401A that my Momma gave me when I was 18. I have owned many machines across the years, but have always gone back to the Singer 401 for my everyday sewing.
 In January I bought a fancy (to me) Singer Quantum 9960. LOVE it, but sadly I have already broken it! It has currently been shipped to Arizona for warranty repair. You read that right, shipped off, as in Singer has ZERO certified warranty service centers in the ENTIRE state of Colorado. I was dumbfounded, to say the least.
 So Jon and I got to talking. Since I enjoyed the computerized machine so much perhaps it was time for me to get a modern machine that also has a local service center.  Something a tad more reliable than the Singer.  I interviewed machines at the local Joann’s. Asked about service and wasn’t impressed with the answer.

Then I went to a local sewing machine repair and sale shop called Rocky Mountain Sewing and Vacuum. I spent nearly two hours inside being patiently helped and shown many machines. Finally, I narrowed it down to the Pfaff Performance 5.2. Rocky Mountain offered an amazing service package and I am quite a happy camper.
This machine is so much larger than anything I have used before. My sewing cabinet/desk that I have used for nearly three decades has now been sent back to Texas to Jamie Lee, with the 401 to follow at Christmas.

That meant I needed a new (to me) desk. I wanted something that had drawers on the left so that when I sat down I had enough desktop space for quilting. And no more than 4 foot long, I looked in thrift stores. I looked on Facebook Marketplace. I found the perfect desk at the ReStore. I jokingly sent Jon a message telling him I had found the most Pfabously Hideous desk possible for Pfat Albert (yes name my machines). I have a reputation for adoring ugly furniture. This solid wood desk meets all my requirements even though it was designed for a computer and has been lovingly painted a deep blue. The cost? Twenty dollars. The keyboard tray is actually an added bonus as it can hold blocks I am currently working on.

It all fit perfectly!
Sewing on the Pfaff is such a different experience for me. It is quiet, oh so quiet. How in the world did I live without a pivot feature? The knee lift is so convenient. I am very happy I took the plunge and got it.

Now for those who like me are very budget minded, let me share the gritty details.
Zero down, zero interest for 3 years, payments just at 100 a month. That includes the 4 years anything goes service agreement.

Teflon Pressing Sheets

I use pressing sheet for my applique patches ALL the time. It is easy to take it for granted that everyone understands what they are and how to use them. Well, we are all beginners at some point, so here is a basic explanation. You can buy Teflon pressing sheets from many places. I get mine from Amazon, 3 sheets for around 5 dollars.

I really like the white ones, as they are easy to see through.
Here is a picture of my placement outline under the Teflon sheet. Notice how you can easily see the guidelines. If you need to, click on the picture to view it a bit larger. 
Start by peeling the backing off of all your applique patches. Then make sure you have them sitting glue side down. You do not want to iron with them glue side up!
Now start ironing your patches down. building from the bottom up of your applique pattern. Here you see me making Bluegills from my Catch of the Day pattern. Still in testing as of the writing of this article but expect it soon. As you lay down a new patch make sure your Teflon sheet hasn’t scooted over. 
Soon you will have all of your patches iron in place and have a complete applique. Do not worry if your patches do not match the guidelines exactly. Some of us are a bit shaky while cutting. Let your applique cool off. It doesn’t take long. Then you just peel them right off of the Teflon sheet!
TADA!
Now you have your applique all assembled and ready to iron down onto your base block. Wasn’t that easy?
I iron all of my appliques at once. Here is what my project box looks like. Soon it will be full of fishies waiting to be ironed onto their blocks. I do hope this has helped answer some of your questions. Try it, I can promise you it will make your applique assembly so much more enjoyable.

My Applique Routine

Hello there! With the kick off of the Gnome for the Holidays block of the month, I have gotten a lot of questions about how I put something like this together. This is by no means intended to be a lesson or how to. Just sharing the method behind the madness here!

Oh before I begin to babble, this is the 2018 BoM from FatCat Patterns. You can find the downloads here
http://www.fatcatpatterns.com/bom2.html
Blocks are free for the month they are posted.
You can follow along with the Facebook group and chat about your progress.
I do not send out personal emails, or download updates. You will have to visit the site yourself once a month.

I start off just like you, having to print out the pattern pages. Which I quickly separate by block. Each blocks pages get folded in half making a neat little packet. Then I begin tracing the patches onto my Heat Bond Lite. This is normally done on a TV tray in the evenings. As I trace I make any needed notations on the patches. Trim them to size, then slide them between the pages of their block.
The packets as I call them, are then stacked up in an empty box or basket to keep everything safe from pets. Or me tripping over them. Traced templates are not safe until they are securely ironed to their fabrics, lol. If the pattern has a LOT of patches per block I use gallon zip bags to store the pages and traced patches in.

Here in the apartment, I have this lovely island for the next bit. Although for years I have made do with using my ironing board for this. Each packet gets the fabrics that will be used stuffed into it 🙂 I tend to pull from my stash and use scraps for almost everything. Once the fabrics are all chosen, everything gets stacked back into the box. Another evening with the TV tray and the ironing mat will have all the patches fused to their fabrics. Scraps and odds and ends are put into another zip baggy in case I lose a patch and have to make another. Sometimes I find I just plain forgot to trace something!
 Now the hard part for me. Cutting all the patches out! I like to use Ginger 8″ Featherweight Shears. They are the best I have found for my arthritis. Still, I end up taking many breaks and a few Aleve.

The part I enjoy the most is assembling the patches onto the base blocks. I pre-assemble as many patches as possible using a Teflon baking sheet. Especially the little stuff! So why the pressing sheet? Well, if you make a mistake it is easy to fix. Just let it cool then peel it back apart. Want to make sure you overlapped the edges enough? Flip it over and look. I am a huge fan of Teflon sheets. You can buy these at the local quilt shop, Joann’s and even most grocery stores. Mine is from Aldi and cost 5 dollars. man, I really do miss Aldi. Maybe one day they will come to Colorado.

Now with this block as an example. The gnome was pre-assembled. The blocks with letters were pre-assembled. And the entire Christmas tree with lights was pre-assembled. I folded my base block into quarters and ironed a good crease into it. Then I was able to use the placement guides (page 3 in the instruction package) to tell where each patch would sit. Sometimes your patches are not exactly as expected. Our hands shake while cutting or tracing (at least mine do). So some of the placement settings are personal judgment, making it look good to Your eye. If you look closely you can see that I cut a wee bit too much off of the blue block for letter L.

The stitching takes me awhile also. On this project, I am using my Brother 400 and a mock buttonhole stitch. Changing thread color to match the bright fabrics. Sewing slowly. Lots of pivoting. Minor swearing when the bobbin runs out. You would think by now somebody would have made a sewing machine with an economy-sized bobbin! At least the Brother is polite enough to warn me that it is running low.
 I do my stitching assembly row style. Start with block one, sew everything red, move on to the next block and do the same. Get to the end of the stack of blocks, flip them over and start another thread color.
 After that, it is pressing, squaring up. Then sew the top together. 🙂 I am not quite there yet so that picture will have to wait.

 Here are some pictures of my blocks before stitching.

October in Denver

So much has happened since I last sat down here to visit.
We sadly had to have my cat put to sleep 🙁  That is an experience I choose not to dwell on. The only silver lining in the whole thing, was the Kids were able to bring Wally up here and give him back when they visited. So we are still a two pet household, just chihuahuas now.

 Changes keep getting made to the apartment also. I used heavy canvas drop cloths (from Home Depot) and made curtains for most of the windows. Used clip rings. And only had to make a quick hem on each. Total investment was under 100 dollars for three windows and a sliding door.  They really help with the morning sun and afternoon privacy 🙂 I can open the blinds and still get an abundant amount of sunshine.

I am still working on what I have dubbed “The Colorado Beast”.
This is going to be a larger than king sized quilt for our queen size bed, lol. Jon wished to have enough drop on each side that neither would pull the cover off of the other. And long enough on top and bottom to tuck under the mattress at the foot, and go over his “pillow fort” at the head. I am having to make it in two sections then will join them by hand. My poor machine just can’t handle something this big. The kitchen island is just PERFECT for pin basting! The pictures shows one section. It was very nice NOT to have to crawl around on the floor. And there is a picture of one half laid across the bed. I will not be able to wash this here at the apartment either. Will have to find a laundromat.

The Move!

I have decided I am not very good at this Blogging stuff, lol.
There have been a lot of changes since my last post. Jon accepted a relocation to Colorado and we made the move in May. It will not be a permanent move, as Texas is home. We decided not to sell the house in Texas, instead our oldest and his wife moved into it. Jon and I downsized and have chosen to live in an apartment. I have to admit, it is nice not having to do yard work, and to be able to call maintenance when there is a problem. We moved with only the necessities. I gave a lot of my fabric stash to Jamie. And left many of my crafting supplies for the girls to do with as they wish. Three of my sewing machines made the move. Even though the movers managed to drop one of the 401’s out of its cabinet (!!!) all of them arrived safely.

My new sewing area is our bedroom 🙂 Jon has been very supportive of this. So instead of dressers, one wall is taken up with my work bench and work station. Another wall is taken up with my full sized sewing table. Totes of fabric are hidden behind the bedroom door. One tote has been emptied, as I cut it ALL up into 2 1/2 inch strips for a jelly roll race quilt for the bed.
  You might have noticed a slight design flaw in our apartment floor plan. There is a direct line of sight from the bathroom to the bedroom window! As you can guess that was a very rude discovery 🙂

The dining area has been turned into my office space and is housing the second 401 in its cabinet, along with my computer desk. Have I mentioned how very supportive Jon has been, lol! In a perfect world we would have chosen a two bedroom apartment. Unfortunately there is quite a housing shortage here in the Denver area. Prices are outrageous! All in all, we are very happy with the new digs. We are adapting well to seeing each other every day instead of just on weekends. I do miss the kids horribly. But I am very blessed in that they ALL call, text and video chat with me A LOT!

2015?

So what happened and where did I disappear to in 2015?
It was a tremendously hectic year here. Jon went in for a hernia repair on Jan 7th 2015, was suppose to be a day surgery. He finally came home 2 months later. It was May before all his various tubes, hoses and accessories were gone. In May I began building a paver stone patio to help work out my worries and frustrations. June brought the announcement that I was going to gain a new daughter in law in October. In July I began to have trouble with my gallbladder. August saw me in the hospital getting that removed. September I had recovered enough (in my mind) to expand the patio to accommodate the number of wedding guests expected. My Sister helped me acquire a new puppy. The October wedding was beautiful! We lost my Father the end of October. Add in a couple of road trips back and forth to Springfield Mo. Then the holidays hit me right in the face 🙂 Despite that Jamie and I switched rooms and I set my sewing room up for a second time. In December for some reason I cannot remember now, I decided to make all immediate family members new Christmas stockings.

So here I am in 2016.
Gave away the Bad Cat that kept biting and attacking me. Sadly two weeks later we had to put Teddy (age 16) to sleep. For the first time in decades we are a one cat household. And I am STILL trying to housebreak the puppy. Keep your fingers crossed that this is a quieter year!