Sunday, July 31, 2011

Heads Up

Update to the cobblestones on the design wall:
I added a border to the leftover cobblestone blocks....except at the bottom.  I'll add that after the applique.  I wanted the border to focus the light source. I used several strips joined on the diagonal to get the effect I wanted.  The diagonals just seems to naturally move the eye to the center.  The bottom will be dark, like the bottom piece on the sides.  Sometimes, I get lucky and love how it turns out!
   I promised applique.....machine applique,  of course.  The subject has to reflect the heat we are enduring this summer.  It's back  for at least another week of high 90's. Very little can withstand the temps that we are having.  A few cosmos and cone flowers are surviving it.  I have some late season day lilies that are dark red, and small this year.  So I took some artistic license with them for my applique.

A marathon session of fusing and the daylilies are seeking the light source.  I used steam a seam 2 for the fusible on this one.  It has a tacky/sticky feel to the pieces and makes it easy to move the appliques around to determine placement.  And it really sticks!  Be sure of position before fusing.
  I had a rough sketch I was working from, but the placement never seems to match my sketch--no matter what I do.  And right now I am debating on adding some extra stems or adding buds to a couple of the long stems.   And then lots of stitching and some thread painting.....the fun part!
  Remember to get your browser updated....blogger is going to be up graded tomorrow.  And the Wantobe a quilter giveaway begins August 1.....don't miss out. Click the sidebar button for details.
Happy stitching.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Make it flat

Stitching 4 patch units.  Pressing 4 patch units.....finally done with all the separate units for the florabunda blocks.  Now to complete the blocks.
  I loved Bonnie's instructions for making the center spiral and lie flat.  Now that I understand, my centers will always be flat!  That's a good thing.  No reason for me to try to duplicate so....  Click here to read and see her tip.
   Now I understand, it's the last seam I sew to join the pairs that I give a twist to.  And presto...I have a teeny 4 patch at the center. 
  How did I get to be this old and never get it before?  ;) 
  And  the rest of the units for the florabunda blocks....enough for about 30 blocks or so. 
These will be my night time sewing for the rest of the summer!
  Happy stitching.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making curves

Add a curve to your border......or create a landscape with curves.   I've said  "I don't do curves."  Guess what....I  was wrong.  Gasp!   I found a couple of techniques/ways  that I adapted to accomplish curves that work for me.

For Boogie Woogie Star, the curved border is sewn, piece to piece.  In the small  autumn landscape, the curves are cut, turned under and top stitched in place. 
   The tricky part is getting the curve to match...right?  If I free form cut the curve for a border piece, how do I make the inside match?  One thing to remember, your mind/hand have an innate curve direction that they will automatically create.  Huh?  Try drawing a curve line.  Do it again.  Bet they probably start and curve in the same direction....that's your innate direction.   Look at the autumn landscape....see my innate curve direction  in at least 4 places.  I learned that I needed to draw my curves before I cut to get the variety of movement.   So here's how I create a curve.

Imagine that I want to add a curved border.....the red print is the block or quilt top, and the yellow is the border to add.  Slide the yellow under the edge of the block/top so that there is enough over lap on both pieces for the curve. 
Note...Update:  Be sure both fabrics are right side up.
  If not you will get the same curve on both fabrics.  You want opposing curves that match.

  Then I take tailor's chalk....what ever marking tool you prefer....and draw a gentle curved line, top to bottom.  Gentle curve means avoid mountaintops and deep valleys.  If the curve is too steep or wavy....I just brush off the mark and try again.  That is why I like tailor's chalk for this. 

Now be brave and cut on the marked curve.   The think slice of red on the top of the yellow is discarded.  Ditto for the slice of yellow under the red.  That should leave you with the 2 pieces--the block/top and the yellow border to add.  And they will match!

  Decision time now.  Do you want a sewn seam or a top stitched one?   For a sewn seam, make a couple of marks across the cut on both fabrics.  This will be your points to align when sewing.  The yellow flips over the red block/top and sew using 1/4" seam.  You will only be able to line up and sew  an inch or so at a time before you need to stop (needle down) raise the pressure foot and adjust the edges to match. Stitch and repeat until the side is sewn.  Press and repeat for the other sides.
    Rather do a top stitched border?   Spray starch is your friend for this.
Be sure to use a dry avoid  introducing steam that can cause stretching.  Starch will add body for this technique.  
  Turn under 1/4"  on one of the pieces.  In this example I turned under the red block/top piece.  Again dry iron and press.  Don't drag the iron along the edge, it will cause stretching. 

Because the curves are gentle and not steep, the 1/4" is easy to turn under without clipping the seam allowance.  Clip the mountian top curves if needed to achieve a smooth edge. 
  Now overlap and stitch in place.  Use a straight stitch or decorative edge stitch if you like. 
Repeat for each side of the block. 

  That's how I make curves manageable for me.  Try a few and figure out the best way for you. 
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do you use Leftovers?

I am not a fan of "leftovers for dinner", any more than I like leftover blocks from a quilt.  They only take up space and rarely get used.  At least, by me, they rarely get used. 
   I was sorting the piles on the work table and putting away the batiks.  Yikes, guess what I found.  More cobblestone blocks.  Hard to believe I had discarded these when putting together  Cobblestone Lane, but I did.   So, I decided to re-purpose them into a background piece for some applique. 
Not all the sizes matched, so I   had to do some sacrificial cutting to make things fit into rows.  I also needed to add a few filler strips to have the rows the same size.

I am auditioning a few different fabrics for the first border.  I am going for a blended lighter at the top and  darkening down the sizes to the bottom.  I'm not satisfied with the right side at more work to be done there.    I'll leave it on the design wall to ponder on while I get the applique ready to add.    

  And what to do with strings?   I found a good many of those too.  With the price of fabric going up, I couldn't throw them away.   Some are straight, most are crooked on one side, a few are only an inch wide......I decided to sew them matter what.  I have a plan for them....and no, not a journal project, or an art quilt.  This will be a useful item, I hope, when finished. 
InsightFabric is expensive.  Leftover blocks and strings = $.  Find a reason or way to use them.   Somehow... that means I saved money!

Happy stitching. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cobblestone Lane

Cobblestone blocks finished.....bound and labeled. 

    This is a small lap quilt, about 46 " by 55".  Just right for me!  Of course, it's way to hot to use it now.  Can't you tell by the drooping hydrangea leaves?   But it will be perfect for this fall....

The label turned out great.  I found a graphic of cobblestones and used it for the background.  I call it Cobblestone Lane.  In the College Park area of Orlando, where I grew up, there are still the old brick and stone side streets.  When I shared an apartment with Pat, we would ride bikes (for exercise!) down Elizabeth Street to the lake.  Bump, bump, bump all the way.

Quilting was just simple wavy lines in a grid on this one.  I used variegated  YLI thread for a change since I was not doing free motion quilting. 
Thanks to Wanda for sharing her original design for the cobblestones.   It's a great project to use those scraps.

Stay cool, and happy stitching.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Spreading the word..

Have you heard about this yet?  Read on and click the link button on the right sidebar for more info.
"Hello friends and followers, I would love to welcome you  to a Wantobe Quilters Campaign over here. (
They are having quilting supplies to giveaway 5 x a week for 12 weeks.
Supplies that will have you quilting 
before you know it...From sewing machines to irons, to die cutters, to mats, to rotary cutters, sewing baskets, scissors, batting, needles,
rolled sewing machine bags, patterns, books, magazines...everything
you could imagine to assist you in being a NEW Quilter.
Even if you are already part of this community you can win
quilting stuff too...Tuesday and Thursday are days for us..
All you have to do is give me your name and phone number
and email sew I can submit this to the organizer, because if you win
anything I can win something too.   All you have to do is be my follower and a follower
over at Sew We Quilt @ Stash Manicure....
That is all! There are over 49 Sponsors involved.
I love being a QUILTER!
( p.s you will not be eligible to win anything if you do not register
with a blogger where you see this message)
Wantobe quilter has no tools or stash, and at most a hand-me-down sewing machine.  I have had a peek at a few of the prizes, and heard over 300 yards of fabric, and lots and lots of "required" quilting items.  I'm not saying I need any of this, but who doesn't love a giveaway! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Boogie Woogie Star

  Journal quilt time again.....I snuck in an extra book on Russ's Amazon order last week.  Quilting by Improvisation by Vikki Pignatelli was discounted and called to me.  After reading through it, I wanted to try her curved technique for My Star Dances.  
  No fusing here, just freezer paper and I used the Lapel Stick rather than stitch witchery that she uses.  I like that she works from the front rather than in reverse.   The lapel stick did work great with no gumming up on the needle and dries very quickly.  I did not get all the curves smooth as I wanted....very stiff fingers today, and trying to avoid getting burned.  Then all the edges are stitched down from the front and I used a button hole stitch on this one.  I followed her advise on fabric selection---batiks with little printed pattern, and strong contrast for the star. 
  I named my version Boogie Woogie Star.  For some reason it reminds me of Saturday Night Fever and John T as he dances!  It must be the heat dome we are does things to your mind. 
    Anyway, the journal quilt was a nice break before I get to quilting the cobblestones quilt.   Stay cool, everyone.  Happy stitching.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waste not scrap quilt

   I started this scrap project to use up strips  in January.  It was kind of inspired by the 1600 jelly roll quilts I saw on line.  I figured I had plenty of strips already cut, so why buy a jelly roll.  I stuck with mainly blues and greens and just strung them together in long, long strips.  I decided to work with value---what a surprise---keeping the lights together in rows and darks in rows placed on the outside.    I just kept adding rows and sewing until I ran out of long enough strips.  This finished up 48 " by 68".
   Time to quilt it.....and get it finished. 

  I showed the quilting I used on the center in my last post.  When I got to the border, I used something different.  In the book, Freemotion Quilting by Judy Woodworth, I saw this variation on meandering.  She referred to it as echo meandering.  I like it and tried it here.  It gives a great texture that reminds me of tree bark.
  Binding.........I used up  almost  every short piece of blue that I had left over.  I probably used 15 different fabrics on the binding.    The entire quilt is a perfect  Waste Not project. 
  Happy stitching.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sewing in a few memories

A little time spent quilting yesterday.....and just the border to finish up on this scrap one.  This quilting pattern works well in vertical rows, which is what this top is---just vertical rows of scrap strips. 
  The song "Mellow Yellow" kept running through my head as I was pressing some 4 patch units for the florabunda blocks.  I favorite line--at that time-- was "quite rightly!"    My Mom got so tired of hearing me use that phrase.  Instead of just saying yes, I would answer quite rightly.   I now understand how annoying I really was!  Sew.....I stitched  more memories into a few more blocks.   I will  smile when I see this quilt, just because of the memories it will bring back.
  The pattern is starting to emerge now, and the setting appears to be on point, but it is not.  I don't like to do sashing between blocks  for some reason, so I usually do scrap patterns that don't need them.  This block creates its own sashing effect, and I like that. 
   Time got away from me today and no sewing.  I finished up the guild library database.  Yea!  And then I needed to rework one section of the label class for Learningfa group. Computer is acting "old" me, I guess.  I did a back up on everything.  It may be new computer time.  Ugh!  OH, and to all sure to have the latest version of your browser installed by August 1.  Blogger will be doing some more changes and won't be supporting older browsers.  And that means me.  Guess it is time to up-date. 
   Happy stitching,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Think I took a wrong turn

Somehow I got lost on this one.  I was inspired by the  color palette of the month at 3 Creative Studios.  I intended to create a beach scene at sunset, took a wrong turn,  and ended up in the desert!  
  I started with the fabrics to match the given palette.  So far. so good.  I cut a muslin foundation to sew the strips to.  I thought it was fine until the fourth strip was added.  I took the wrong turn here.  I continued with straight strips.  It would have turned out different I think, if I had gone on with curved pieces instead.  But since I hate the seam ripper, I continued on to the desert scene.   I do like the half  frame border that off sets the scene.  So, I will probably finish it up, as a lesson to learn.  Just so you know.
   Insight:  Not every thing turns out the way it was begun.  Live with it and learn.   A good life lesson in this small project.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Books, fabric, and mug rugs

So what have I been up to?  Staying inside that is for sure.  The temp was 99 degrees yesterday with a heat index of 107.   Today is bad too. 
Small things taking up my sewing time.........
Washing and pressing fabric.......I kind of went overboard Monday night at guild.  My excuse was it's half price and left from a shop that closed a few months ago, and now I have a great selection for a fall table runner (and tutorial)!  Mostly batiks and a couple of great tonal fabrics.  No I didn't need it, but I sure left with a bag full.
  I also brought home boxes of books.....that I have to sort through as I am guild librarian this year.  I am trying to get everything entered into a database, and it is slow going.   For some reason I keep getting distracted by a pattern or design I like, a new technique, etc.  But I have found a lot of  inspiration and my mind is full of ideas.  Help!
  I managed to bust the wheel off the book shelf at guild and now Sir Old Man has to design and build a new one.  
Insight:   Same old thing.....I start  or get involved in a project and he has to jump in,  save me, and get it finished  :)

  And a few mugs rugs for the guild boutique for our
quilt show in October.  I have 8 of them sewn so far, and ready to be finished off with a little bit of quilting.   I made these small ---about 4 " by 5".
   My attention span seems very short this week, and I am blaming it on the weather and heat.  I have two tops to quilt, but they will have to wait.
Happy stitching,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Some florabunda blocks

The batik cobblestones came off the design wall.....time to get it squared up.  I was trying to decide if I wanted a border on it or not.   I think not.  I want to use this as a lap throw.  It is 48" by 55" and that is just about right.  Adding a border just seems to detract rather than add anything to the over all design.  I'll just save that strip for something else.

  So put on your sunglasses....for a quick peek at a few florabunda blocks I put together last night while watching TV.   :0)
 The blocks go together quickly once you get the 4 patch units and HST ready.  So I am pressing units today and stacking them up for sewing.

These blocks are really a good showcase for all my florals.  I can't wait to see how it will develop as I make a few blocks with softer  and more muted values.  Right now, it makes me remember cruising through Steak and Shake in Winter Park in Doreen's yellow mustang.  Heavens, that was a long time's to the Summer of Love!

Happy stitching.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Free Motion Feathers?

  After spending 8 hours in the ER with Russ' Dad yesterday, I was so tired.   What is it about sitting and waiting that wears you out?    Thankfully, there is nothing seriously wrong, just an abrupt decline.
  So this morning I needed a machine fix!  Nothing that a little feather practice wouldn't cure.  I used a piece of tan cotton for this practice....and just went for it. 
  I learned a few things along the way.  1.  It is hard to follow or backtrack over sewn lines.   2.  I sew better and have more control working from the bottom to the top.  3.  Coming down from the top to the bottom of the feather is a disaster for me....don't do it.  4.  I need to practice ending the feather at the top and reduce the size more evenly, I think.  5. Breathe and relax....this is practice.  I was going to fill in all the space around the feathers with outline echo and s-curves.  I did a little at the bottom and hate it.  I won't do that again.  So then I just did a decorative stitch to finish the edges. 
  Still so about some color with prismacolor pencils?   I just scribbled with  yellow gold, and red over the background area, and yellow over the large feathers.  Then the smaller ones got the aloe vera gel dabbed on them and a little red and blue.  Oh well, now they look like grapes.  But I was willing to experiment and try something new.  And crazy enough to post it!
  Insight:  Somethings I am just not meant to do.  Practice the feathers and leave the painting to others.   
Happy stitching,

Friday, July 8, 2011

One more time

I seem to make this over and over again....a rail fence is one of my favorite patterns for strips and donation quilts.   This one has a little bit of anything and everything in it.  As long as the strip was 6 1/2" long, I put it in.  I just make sure to have one strong dark for each medium and/or light twosome. 
  I didn't add a border to this one, just my "waste not" scrap bindings.  I used about 12 different scrap pieces to finish off the binding.  And now my binding bag only has 3 pieces left in it!  Yay!  I am making headway on the scraps.  

Free motion quilting-----easy, trailing and branching curls, and I think I can call this one done. 

Oops....I forgot the label and then it will be done.

I am working on the Florabunda blocks at night as we watch TV.  I have a pile of triangles and 4 patches cut and have begun sewing on them.
  Soon as I get the batiks off the design wall, I'll be able to put up a few blocks.
  I had a question about juggling so many projects at once.....I like to have multiple things to work on, so that I don't get bored.  I tend to do simple sewing at night, like the cobblestones blocks or strip piecing.  Daytime  is design time, quilting a project, or joining blocks on the design wall.  And when I need a change, I spend a few hours on a journal quilt.  Often my daytime sewing time is in small spurts.  Even 15 to 20 minutes at a time,  can be productive if I just sew a few blocks together that are on the design wall.  It's just what works for me.
Happy stitching,
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