Thursday, August 28, 2014

Booking It for August

  I started this project earlier this month to it here.    I am claiming it as my Let's Book It project for August.
   I originally planned to work using value as my guide.  I wanted some blocks to be high contrast, and some low contrast, and then set them together based on the major value of the split square.  sounded good, right?  Well, just take my word for it, the setting was bad......way bad.  It was choppy and yet contrived.  On to plan 2.
    I found myself getting just a little too matchy-matchy when selecting the inset strip.   I forced myself to use what I picked up first as long as it did not absolutely clash or hurt the eyes.   What I worked much better!

 I have about 60 or so blocks ready, and I began to play around with another setting with half of them.  I am liking this much better now.  Yet, I do think I need more variety!

  This sort of makes me giggle.  Here I am throwing everything including the kitchen sink into one quilt,  and I was just reading a couple of blogs that discussed the problem of using multi-color print scraps.  Think I should ask for their cast offs?
  So what do I mean when I say variety?  To me, that means having a variety in scale of prints....large and small and geometric prints.  I see a lot of tonal and 2 color prints here, so I need to add in  prints with 3 or more colors.  Right now, these are mainly from my box of leftovers from charm square exchanges.  Looks like it is time to really de-stash my real stash.   So August's project will be on-going for a couple of months, I think.

  And June's Book It now a flimsy!   A colorwash version of the  scrappy trips.

  I stopped at this is so heavy already.  You forget how much fabric is in those seam lines.   And I see a couple of blocks that got flipped when I put the rows together.   Or did I mean to throw in a curve ball just for fun!  I can live with it.

  I am debating on a border, or not.  I kind of like it as it is, and just use a dark binding.  I will think on it, and get to it soon.    For now, I am happy.....this one is not going anywhere but here.

Linking to Let's Book It at Vrooman's Quilts.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yes, I am a Mrs. Claus

   We had a new mail carrier on our route last week.  Apparently, she had not been warned that I have an alias.   Soft packages and boxes were to be delivered to this address to a Mrs. Claus aka Debbie, and some of them were from Mrs. Claus from different places!    Sir Old Man had to confirm that I lived here....giggle, giggle.  Did no one in the government ever watch the movie "Miracle on 34th Street"?  It proved that Santa exists.....and by extension, Mrs. Claus does too!

    Mrs. Claus from New York,  aka Peppy of the HGTV Message Board, found a way to dress up simple panels of colorful fabric.    She added a top band of fabric and embroidered hearts and stars.  Such a cute way to finish these off.

Mrs. Claus of Georgia, aka Wannaquilt2 of the HGTV Message Board, sent two quilts.  Purple and blue strips combined to make a wonderful quilt.  And then those frogs.....jumping all over the place!  Oops, and don't miss the turtles there too.   I love her sense of humor.  Both of these are fun.

Mrs. Claus of Pennsylvania, aka 3grandkids on the HGTV Message Board made pink creations for the project.  She says she used to create for her granddaughters  when they were young, so these were fun for her to make.

  Just look at the work....hand embroidered motifs to create a beautiful butterfly on the pink and white gingham.
    I am always so amazed at the create ideas that Mrs. Claus comes up with.


Mrs. Claus of Maryland, aka AngelaC of the HGTV Message Board, sent along 2 scrappy and colorful quilts.   Her note said she loves to use up scraps from her previous projects......I see a quarter trip around the world, and corners from rectangles.

   And remember I said to always check the back of the doll quilts.  I discovered this fantastic fabric on the back!  It repeats the colors from the front, but what I love is the squiggle design.  It would be a perfect piece of fabric to give a student who wants to learn to do free motion meandering.  I mean just follow the edges of the pieces and there you go meandering!  What fun.

  Mrs. Claus of Florida, aka  cksvett of the HGTV Message Board, has really been busy.  Checkboard quilts, and one with Raggedy Andy were on the top of her stack that arrived.

 Even in Florida a doll needs a flannel quilt or two.  And she shared the story about the farm scene one on the left.  Mrs. Claus likes to frequent a certain thrift store....don't we all love good ones.  This store begins to reduce the prices of items that have been around for a while.  The farm scene was actually an apron panel...and she managed to wait it out and snare it for free!  And to finish it off she was given the batting which was cut off from a larger project, and the thread she used came from a give away table at a retreat!  Isn't she the thrifty/lucky one!  She also did her first attempt at free motion quilting on it......quilting teacher gives big nod of approval.  No thread nests, and even stitches.  I think she is ready to expand her horizon.
    Big hugs and thank yous to all the Mrs. Claus from around the are amazing and wonderful.   To everyone else, I hope you find some inspiration from the quilts sent for the project.  I know I do.  Happy stitching.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Practice for Butterfly Wings

   I get questions and comments about free motion quilting all the time.  Often I am asked about I really practice drawing? I practice stitching a pattern before using it on a quilt?   Of course, I do!  It only looks easy when I do it because I put in the time to practice.  I practice on paper.  It helps me break down the motif and figure out which direction to stitch first and how to end up in a position to move on with the design.   Then once I have some confidence in that I usually put the motif into thread on a small piece, like a table runner or small table topper often.

   I found Butterfly Wings ---she calls it plumify---motif  on LuAnn Kessi  blog under her sketchbook.  She also has them  on Pinterest, so you might have seen them there. She provides a sample drawing and also breaks it down into steps to learn.   You can barely see my first practice drawing on the bottom  of the page.

  I put together a very simple table runner.  Not too easy to see the stitching from the front.

  So from the back you can get a better view.  Individual plumes are stitched and then outlined to form that wing look.  Note----you end up back where you started stitching.  Generally 3 plumes, then outline to form the wing shape.  But sometimes you only have enough room for 2 plumes, and that is fine.
  The head of my plumes are about 1/2" to 3/4" to the size of the bobbin.  I did have to remind myself to remember to change/alternate direction that the plume tilted.  This is a great all over design and filler, like for background or sky even.  Once you get the teardrop/plume shape down, I think anyone could do this with a little practice.

  The table runner still needs binding.   Add that task to the list  :-)

Quilting done on Hot Legs---my Tiara sit down machine.  And she got a little extra enhancement this past week.  I ordered another swing arm lamp with a clamp base.
    We wasted an afternoon running around town for a swing arm lamp with a clamp base.  Supposedly the "store" had them in stock.....what they offered me was a goose neck on a small base!  If I wanted to wait a week for them to order my item.....huh?  And they wonder why local big box stores are losing business......I went home and found exactly what I wanted on line, cheaper even with shipping in 10 minutes, and it was delivered in 4 days.  Done deal!   Sorry for the small rant ---sometimes these people scare me---because they are walking among us!
 So I have light on either side, and I can easily adjust the lights for my viewing pleasure.     Get those pencils out.....practice drawing, then happy stitching.

   Comment on comments.....I try to always respond to comments.  But lately I seem to have missed a few because they are not appearing in my mailbox as directed.  So if you do not hear from me that is why.  If you have  a question, just send an extra email and I will answer.  Thanks.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Small topper for Fall

  I don't know how the heat is where you live, but it is awful here.  Right now the heat index is 108 degrees.....that means the humidity is very high.  Too hot to get outside for photos, which I need to do.  High humidity equals foggy lens equals bad photos.  Maybe tomorrow......

   Instead I finished up a small project.  I made 3 acorn blocks for guild for next month.  Since I had fabric out, I  cut the pieces out to do one for me.     Then I added a couple more acorns, and a couple of leaves.....and corners, too!
  Perfect colors for Sir Old Man's new table!
  The corners are just a folded  4 inch square.  Once attached, I turned  back the folded diagonal edge and stitched it in place to create a curve.  Nothing like a little  satisfaction from  a quick finish project.

   I have a flimsy now of the scrappy is so heavy with all those seams.  I am glad I decided to stop and not add another row.  Photo to come next week...
   We decided to switch our travel plans and head to Michigan in about 10 days......the daughter asked for Dad's help in painting.  Giggle, giggle.....more projects!   Wonder what she has in store for me?   Have a  happy weekend....happy stitching.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The latest from the Woodworker's shop

   Time for a little show and tell from the woodworker, Sir Old Man.  This was the "practice project" he began to learn the techniques required for the new bed.
Hold to to your pins and needles.....this is good!

   This is made of  quarter sawn  white oak---expensive and harder to get---and curly maple for the drawer inside.    Once the pieces were cut and fitted, Sir Old Man built a fuming tent.  All the pieces were fumed with ammonia to give them the aged look he wanted.  The light stripe area, which is sap wood,  did not darken.....he was a little disappointed about this at first.   

   From the side you can see more sap wood that was used for the spindles.  The spindles are not glued in.  He used/learned the mortise and tendon technique for them.  Note the slightly taper took  a while to figure that part out and then to make a "jig" to get just the right cut.

   The drawer......he found a special knob that he liked.  And now there is a spot for the remote control devices!  But there is more.....

   He added a secret compartment to the drawer.  He thought I could not/would not be able to discover the latch.  Aha!  Found it.   

   The sides of the drawer are curly maple.  And check out those dove tails.  Aren't they beautiful?   The little details bespeak his attention to detail and perfection.  So why does he put up with me, I wonder.

   The drawer face is another little detail he worked hard on. He wanted the grain lines to match the drawer front and the stretcher piece underneath it had to be cut from the same board.  He got it perfect, I think.  
   The finished top is really that reflective.  It feels smooth as glass.   He spent at least a week  on the hand rubbed finish with a special concoction/recipe from one of the master woodworker's at his guild.  

   So I say practice is over,Sir Old Man,  time to get to the real stuff!!  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Doll Quilt Time

Once again, it's doll quilt time.  The packages/boxes are rolling in as September quickly nears.  In September, the toy maker elves begin sorting and organizing their deliveries of toys, including the doll quilts.  I sometimes think I have run out of descriptive words and words of praise for these darling quilts.... so bear with me.

Did I say bear?  Yep,  bears!  Dancing bears on purple.....just adorable.  Rainbow is a member of the HGTV Message Board and she is Mrs. Claus in Arkansas.    Rainbow included her state on the label on the back. 
From Wiley also of the HGTV Message Board comes three doll quilts.  This year Wiley chose to represent South Carolina, Delaware, and Rhode Island.
Thank you, Wiley, for being a faithful participant and Mrs. Claus.

Mrs. Claus of Texas sent 3 bright quilts this year.  Jill, aka Will Quilt for Chocolate, is a member of the HGTV Message Board, too.  She is in the middle of moving and still found time to add these to our collection this year.  I love the bright modern fabrics she used.

Mary Ann, aka Handie Ann, is Mrs. Claus of Washington. She sent a box full of cute quilts.  This group includes a small braid it! She also  used decorative stitching for the quilting.....great idea.

  And 3 more from Handie Ann....a disappearing 9 patch, and that beautiful star pattern in green!  So perfectly tiny and delightful.
Thank you, Mrs. Claus, Mary Ann.

From Mrs. Claus of California, Sue, comes 4 little quilts.  Tractors and farm animals.....lots of fun to view.   But sometimes, Mrs. Claus has a little trick up her always, always need to check the back of each quilt.  

  When I was taking photos, I was gathering these up, and felt something on the back.  A quick peek, and I knew I needed another photo.   Sue added a little hexagon for a label on the back and.....a small lady bug embellishment.  Imagine the delight in a little girl's eye when she makes this discovery.   Very cute!

From Mrs. Claus in Michigan comes 2 very sweet little quilts.  TCMay is a member of the HGTV Message Board, too.  The rail fence quilt uses reproduction fabrics bound with dancing tea cup fabric.  And the HST quilt is bordered with bugs on lime green fabric.

  There are always interesting things to find on each little quilt, from the fabric, to the pattern, to the quilting, to the back.  Each creation offers something different....a feast for the eye, and a smile for the face.    Mrs. Claus has a special touch and a wonderful sense of humor.  Thank you all.
Happy stitching.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Stash busting

  I decided to start this next project as a "leader/ender" while I am finishing off the Scrappy Trips blocks.  Originally, I thought it would be my Let's Book It project for next I am jumping ahead I guess.
   I am sure you have seen or made this one.....published in McCall's Quilting in 2007 by the Gingham Girls.   I waded through my bin of pre-cuts and decided to make a few adjustments to their original pattern.

   I chose to use 5" squares with a 1 1/2" inset strip.  My unfinished square when trimmed is 5".  I am including sink method...on this one.  Rather than concentrate on color, I wanted to play around with value when adding the inset strips.  So some blocks with be high contrast and others will be less distinct with low contrast.
   I sliced the 5" squares from corner to corner on one diagonal.  Note I am working in batches of 4 or 5 at a time, so the bias edges don't grow to much and get away from me.  So as I am sewing the Scrappy Trips rows together, I pick up one triangle and add the inset strip to one side.   By the time I get a block together, I have at least 4 of these units ready to press.  

   Time to match up and add the second side.  I discovered by taking a couple of seconds to align the corners to match up  before I sewed that my block units stayed squared up.  Once pressed then the trimming was quick and easy.  I trimmed to 5" square.

   I got 5 more Scrappy Trip blocks done and a stack of about 20 of these done too.

  Then as I was reading blogs this morning, I saw that  Wanda at Exuberant Color was doing a different inset project.    She is working with color---of course---on her project.  Check it out as it will be beautiful as always.    Either style block is a great stash busting /de-stashing idea.  Happy stitching.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Caught Up!

    So what was Sir Old Man's reaction when I showed him this quilt today?  An approving    A critical   He simply asked, "You are not giving this one away, are you?"   I think he likes it, and it will make a nice throw to cover those cute knees of his!

  You saw the vine that fills the light area.  I put feathers in the corner sections of the border, and then used swirls to fill in the other sections of the border.  A simple wavy line anchors the batik portion of the braid....that helps it to really pop.   Who says you have to use the same motif everywhere?  :)

    I really love this Faux Braid pattern. I used 20 blocks with a 5 inch border. The  finished size is 50" by 60".
 Click here for the tutorial that I did.
Click here for the original tutorial from Sharon at Vroomans Quilts.  
Once again, thank you, Sharon for sharing this.

   So I am caught up!   No stack of quilts to quilt, only one project on the design wall (see the photo), and I have working plans for the trunk show in the fall.   I have 20 blocks completed for the Scrappy Trips, and about 20 more cut.
    And plans in the works.......I am pulling out 5 inch squares and 1 1/2" strips.  Anything goes in and I am hoping to make a dent in the pre-cut bins on my shelf.   But we all know....those scraps/accumulations tend to multiply faster than we can sew.
Happy stitching.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Free Motion Stylized Vine Tutorial

  The Faux Braid pattern provides a nice area of light to feature free motion quilting motifs.  I have filled this area on other quilts with feathers, so I thought something a little more open would be different this time around.  
   I ran across a pin on Pinterest for open ended leaves.  They have a neater appearance because there is no over stitching.  It is really a small thing.....but that over stitching really does appear messy, and it gives a lot of my students the shakes!  They panic because they are unable to stitch exactly over the prior stitches.  Viola!  This idea will improve on that.
   So a little tutorial is called a response to Dana at Stormy  Days.


   So doodling a few leaves, lead to another and another, and a vine emerged, and then a curl or two.....I put together what I called a "stylized vine".  It has no drawn or actual stem, rather the leaves and curls flow along one to another to develop into an "implied" stem.  The eye just sort of fills in the gaps and you think it is a complete stem line.  

  This is a photo of part of the back side that shows the vine.  My leaves are about 3 inches long from the base to the tip. 

  This is easy once you get the leaf shape into muscle memory.  I did find a couple of things that you need to watch out for to avoid the cross over stitching.  
  Draw the leaf shape by beginning to the left to the tip, and back down to the base.  The vein goes up about half way and back down beyond the base.   This brings you to the center "stem area" and you now add a leaf to the opposite side.....only this time you begin the leaf to the right side and up to the tip, and back down to the base.  Add the vein and you are again in the center.     

   You will alternate sides as you add each leaf or curl as you build the vine.  I learn better from pictures and doing, so I drew off an example for you to see.  Some of my leaves are being lazy and lying down, and others are standing tall.....what kind of leaves do you draw?

For a PDF of the leaf and vine, click here.  I apologize for the upside down scan....I could not get it upright for some reason.  Just print it out and all should be fine!   
Final words.....practice drawing before you stitch. Then...happy stitching.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Vintage Friday

   Not mine, but DD's find!  She has been searching for an older machine that has a good straight stitch and that would sew through multiple layers of heavier fabrics like denim.  She was over the top when she ran across this older New Home---with the running greyhound logo---in almost like new condition.  It also does a zig-zag stitch, and we think it is from the early 1950's.  I believe it is a 3/4 size machine.  Hopefully, she will get a chance to stitch on it and give me a full report.
   I went to lunch yesterday with a friend, who is jumping back into quilting and having a lot of fun discovering our wonderful world.  Jennifer brought along a couple of vintage quilts to show me.  These belong to a friend who asked her to attach hanging sleeves to them.

  A wonderful/ delightful/greatly loved feedsack quilt is such a joy to see.   A quick photo of some of the fabrics.....dots, stripes, prints, flowers, birds....just the whole array of those wonderful vintage prints.
   Now look at the pattern the maker used.....just a larger square surrounded by a single row of logs.  Simple, yet so effective to use every bit and piece of fabric.  Looking closer I see the effect created by using high contrast in some blocks, and low contrast fabrics in others.  It gives the quilt movement, and lets the eye  dance around the quilt to find a resting spot.

   Number 2 vintage!  This is just one of those rare beauties.  Hand-quilted with the tiniest of stitches, and beautiful applique now faded to that delicious tomato soup color, finished off with the triangle border that has a scalloped edge.  I was in awe.  
   Both quilts have been greatly used, laundered, and loved.  The batting is almost non existent, the binding are frayed.  Some people might say "that old thing", yet as a quilt maker I see the lavish of time and love that went into both of these.  I appreciate the history they represent.....covering a bed on a cold winter night,  wrapping a sick child, used as a table cloth for a family picnic, or draped over chairs and becoming a boy's fort.    Used and loved.....that is why I quilt.

Back to the present and what I quilt.  This is the last Faux Braid done in batiks.   I am quilting a stylized vine of leaves through the diagonal areas along with some feathers in part of the border area.  I should be able to finish this up over the weekend.

Happy stitching.    
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