Friday, December 31, 2010

Joining the rows...some hints

I am joining the rows of the braid and I realized there are a few hints I need to share for those who plan or want to make a braid or french braid quilt.  Here are a few hints....almost rules (heaven forbid!) that  I follow in joining the rows. 
  Take the time to pin....again, take the time to pin.  Save yourself the frustration of using that seam ripper.  Ask me how I know.   I pin about 6 to 8 inches at the top and then move to the bottom of the braid strip and pin about 6 to 8 inches.   Then before I pin any more, I flip open the pinned area and view it from the front.  See the arrows  and the white note card in the top photo---I check to make sure seams are matching  at these points.  They may be off a fraction or so, but you don't want them to be staggered across the quilt top.    (Aren't the arrows cool?  Got them by editing in picnik from Picasa.) 
  OK, got off track.....If the seams are matching,  then I go back and finish pinning the entire length of the strip.  If the braid has stretched---probably there will be some---you need to ease in the fullness to fit to the sashing.   If the seams are off, then you need to shift either up or down  to get them lined up.  
   So how do you ease in fullness?      Remember you have a bias edge that you are joining to a cross width straight cut.  Be sure the straight cut piece--in this case the black-- is on the bottom and the bias edge is on the top.   We know the bias edge will stretch, but so can the straight across the width cut!  It doesn't stretch as much.  If you come to an area of fullness in the bias edge, do not pull on it, but rather use a taut sewing technique for the sashing strip.  Use your right hand to slightly pull the sashing so it is taut--rather than limp--as you sew in the fullness of the bias.  Do this carefully so there are no puckers. 
   Press.  Press the seam from the back....use an up and down motion, instead of pushing the iron.  Then turn it over to the front and press again and check for tuck or puckers.  Don't ignore the pressing. 
   I have 7 rows far so good.  Two more and then on to the borders at the top and bottom.  More black fabric arrived and needs to be washed before I can finish this one. 

I don't do new years resolutions....I know I won't keep them.  I prefer to reflect on what I've learned and done.  And along the way, I pray I touched someone, and given them inspiration. 
  It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away. 

Happy New Year and happy stitching,

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Returning to the blended braid

Let's see....this one has been on the design wall for a while.  For a quick catch up click here for braid posts.  I was working through the process of construction of this quilt in November, so I guess it is time for an update.   I added 4 more braid runs---so I now have 9 blended braids.  I made sure to add more light fabrics in these. 
  The next step is to trim the sides and get rid of the saw toothed edges. 
You have to be brave doing this.....and careful because of the bias.  I used a long ruler and lined up the 2 3/4" mark to pass through the apex (peak) in the center of the braid.  Then trim the right hand side about 12-18" at a time.  Shift the fabric  and re-align the ruler and trim --continue to the end.  Then flip the braid around and trim the left hand side the same way.  The photo shows what you end up with.  I do a trim at the bottom also to square things up.  Because the braid stretches, I know  I may have to lop off some of the bottom at the final stage.  That is just the nature of the beast, as far as I am concerned! 
  Next I need to add the corners to the top of the braid.  From black I cut a strip that is 3 1/2" wide and then sub-cut into 3 1/2" squares.  I need 9 of these--one for each braid.  Each square is cut on the diagonal.  Then add one triangle to one end of the braid, press and add the other triangle to the other side.  In the photo you can see the finished top edge of the braid runs.  Press and square up the top edge. 
  Then prep the sashing strips.  I am using black between everything.  I cut 2" strips for this and join them for the length I need.  My braid run---on average---is 62".  That is the length I cut the black strips.  Also I am using several different blacks because I didn't have enough of just one.  I just mix them up and piece them together for the lengths. 
   Add  a black sashing strip to one side of each braid run.  Press carefully after sewing to avoid stretching the other side.  Here's a peek at what I have so far on the design wall. The runs are not joined at this point.  I need to play with the layout and get the colors spread out a bit better. 
  I think I am liking this one a lot!  Not a watercolor, more of a colorwash....still it is what I love.  From a distance it seems to shimmer. 
Stay tuned for a border idea, too.
Happy stitching in the New Year!

Added note:  Size...I never remember to mention the size of things.  Cheryl asked  about that.  Right now this quilt is about 62 inches long and 56 inches wide before any borders or finishing is done.  It is really larger than I intended and will probably end up a small bed size. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The word for 2010 is Inspiration!

Wow, 2010 is almost gone.  Exactly where did the year go?  I have been looking back over my posts from this past year, kind of just reliving the high points, and especially noting my "insights".  They really give me a focus on things that happened. 
   I think the word for 2010 is Inspiration.    I jumped into the world of art quilts and completed the Art Quilt Workbook---which I loved!  I realized how important inspiration is, that it comes when you least expect it, and it gives me the power boost I need to finish a project.  I am inspired by people I love, places I visit, songs I hear, by just about anything around me really.  I now keep a note book of inspiration ideas  and a file for photos. 
  Alaska was the biggest inspiration this year.  A wonderful trip that was filled with memories and inspired the moose quilt.  It hangs in a special spot where I can view it every day.  I love the colors and all the techniques I tried--even the applique.  I also learned to have a plan B----because I ran out of fabric and was unable to do the original layout.  The solution was to use a blended braid for the border.  
   Drawing all the patterns for the moose quilt gave me a lot of confidence to venture out of my comfort zone.  I created my own patterns for the five thread painted motifs I used on the watercolor backgrounds.....Evening Serenade, Renewal, Persistence, Remembrance, and Hope.

And then I tried landscapes....Accidental Landscapes was the book that hooked me.
So far I've only tried small ones....but I think I will expand and maybe try a larger one this next year. 
What else to remember from 2010?    I've lost count of the quilts/wall hangings I made and gave to others and charities.  I lost a very dear friend, began teaching Emily to sew, taught classes and taken classes and---one of the best  things--- got to visit with Pat and remember our "youth".  And lots of time with Remy, a huge blessing in our lives.  And new friends in blogland...thanks for everyone's encouragement and comments....I really appreciate them.   
  Well, I am full of smiles right now.  I think I will tackle pinning the bow tie top, and make a few plans for 2011.   

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A snowy Christmas evening and Hope

The snow began late in the afternoon, and the family decided to head out early to get home before the heavy fall began.  So after everything was cleaned up, I got some stitching time in.  I was able to finish up my latest wall hanging, Hope, with the thread painted cardinal.   Again it's a
 watercolor.....what else would you expect?  This scene reminds me of the view from my sewing room, too.
  The  process for the border quilting:
I used the border area to practice free motion quilting in the "mctavishing style".   Wendy at Ivory Spring  has a great tutorial on her domesticated  mctavishing that I tried to follow. Follow the link and check out her blog.  She does wonderful quilting and designing too.   My "s" shape is a bit different than hers,  like a signature she explains.  The s shape is stacked and then repeated and filled in to create wonderful texture.  I used Isacord thread for the machine quilting.  Here are a couple of photos to show it close up. 

The watercolor center of this was quilted with a large meandering stitch.
  New year approaching, and that means new projects......first on the list is a quilt for Justin, who will be graduating from Clemson in May.  He brought me a photo of a quilt he wants.  It is just large squares--which will give me lots of room to use different quilting patterns---with a pointed triangle edge.  I am still working out the edge....I think I will have to face it rather than binding it.   More on that later.  Happy stitching.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas wishes

Merry Christmas.....from The daughter's 3 dogs!
That is Nick--I call him St. Nick--in the Santa hat.  They are quite a trio.
This poinsettia must have 60 blooms on it.  It is just beautiful and full. 
No sewing this weekend, just getting my second wind for this week.  Lots of cooking and baking to best wishes and blessings to all . 
Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cork Trivet

I have been saving wine corks for  a while because   I love the different designs and graphics on them.  I begged for a trivet to be made using the saved corks, and finally it is done.   Russ  got to use his "gadgets"---power tools, etc.---to create this.  He recessed the wood base and made the molding to go around the corks.  I love it!

No stitching this week, as I have been watching Remy, and he wears me out.  But he is such a joy, and  I need to enjoy him while I can. 

So....happy stitching later!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A box of goodies!

The postman brought a box of goodies from Doreen.  She browses yard sales and discount stores all the time.  You never know what she will find.  A movie, a wine book and recipes, a garden apron and t-shirt, ear rings, and a notepad decorated with birds, and a knitting book and pins for Deana!  A great friend and great gifts.....after 40 years, she still "one ups" me! 

I got the cardinal attached to the watercolor and the border added......but something is not quite right.
I did not add an inset piece before the border because I planned to have the pine boughs fall into the border.  And that bothers me.  So after looking at him for a day or so, I thought I would try some braided cording that I have had for a long time.
I just pinned up some of it to get an idea about how it will look.  The cording is a purplish-brown that is almost the color of the pine branch.  I think I can twist together 2 or 3 strands of it together and zigzag stitch it around the center.....very loose, almost like a twisted vine.  That should create the frame effect I like.  

"Baby, it's cold outside", so I am doing some baking to warm the house!  We had a bit of sleet last night and only a high of 30 today.  Not the kind of temps we like around here.  Must be hot chocolate time....happy stitching.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thread painting in the works

I gave a hint that I was working on a cardinal....OK, more than a hint.  I did the sketch a few months ago, and I have been waiting to get it thread painted.  It finally is coming together. 
A Christmas card from my uncle came in the mail  a few  days ago, and it featured a cardinal  sitting on a pine bough.  Perfect inspiration!  So I added some pine needle clusters. 
I  used  2 layers of solvy sandwiched between a layer a tulle for my foundation/base.  I used  3 shades  of red for the body, and a coral for the highlights, and a deep wine color for the shading on the wings.  The stitch is a narrow zig-zag stitch.  The cardinal took about 2 hours to do.
Next step is to cut out the thread painting close to the stitching, rinse out the solvy and let it all dry.

This is what I have in mind to do.  The branch end will  be in the seam when the border is added to the watercolor piece, and the extra pine needle clusters will extent out into the border.  Or that is the plan right now.  Once I get the border added, I will figure out the final placement. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Favorite things

The tree is up and the lights are on.  Last Christmas I shared my love of cardinals and why I use them somewhere on the quilts I do.  Here are a few of my favorites.

We didn't put up the tree last year since we were out of town, so it was wonderful to rediscover these very special ornaments.  Carefully I unwrapped each one, and the special memory associated with each ornament, and then placed them on the tree.  A very special time.

Not a lot of stitching this week, as I got hit with the stomach virus Sunday night.  But these ornaments should give you a hint at what I was working on......

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just in time for the season

A little seasonal landscape....Starry Night, just in time.
I played around with the border idea on this one, by crazy patching the leftovers onto a foundation.  It was too overwhelming to use on all sides, so I split it and tried to place it so the scene extended into the border.  

 I ran across this seasonal "art" and had to grab it to share....
I do love hot chocolate!
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What's a nap mat?

I had never heard of a nap mat, but apparently Remy is in need of one at his pre-school.  So at Jen's request, I spent the day putting one together for him.   I had a couple of yards of the motorcycle fabric and some gold/tan fleece, and pieces of a thick polyester batting....all the ingredients for a nap mat. 
  I personalized the fold over blanket with his name by free hand cutting fused fabric and top stitching it down.  So at nap time there won't be any doubt who this one belongs to.

And when it's time to go home.......

It just rolls up like a duffel with a carrying strap!
With poly batting it is very puffy---but a bear to stitch on.  That poly stuff is not fun to work with....give me cotton any day.  I made this one 20 inches wide and 50 inches long, and the over blanket is 36 inches square.
 I think I need a new blade in the rotary cutter and a new needle.  Come to think of it, I could use a nap myself.
Happy stitching,

Friday, November 26, 2010


A few weeks ago I felt the creative urge,  so I tried experimenting with a mosaic technique.... it's really just fusing small bits of color to a black background.  It creates a different sort of stain glass effect.  Each small piece is free hand cut and fused in place.   I started with the flower, added the dragon fly---he kind of gets lost in the background--- and then decided to add the branch and leaves. 
 The options  given  to finish were  to either frame the piece under glass----not for me---or to do an overlay of tulle and stitch closely all over to hold everything down.   Instead, I created a third option.  I placed batting behind the piece and free motion stitched around all the edges, using a straight stitch.  After I get the border on I will figure out how to quilt it.  I plan on a border using one, or maybe two of the fabrics shown here.  I think my first choice is the gold  fabric, but I also like the purple.  Since it's an art project maybe I can just use  both?   Anyway, the technique is easy and fun to do, a good way to use up small bit of fused fabric scraps, but I think the next time I need to actually plan the design and focal point  before I jump in. 
  I was stitching on a new "use up the scraps"  project last night, and the Featherweight started behaving badly.  The foot pedal wasn't making contact inside and it just would not go.  Russ performed a bit of surgery on it by adjusting the contacts inside.  A good cleaning  and oiling and she was humming along once again.  Got to love that man!
Happy stitching,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Today was the first morning in 10 days that I was able to get up--pain free!  The pulled muscle has been a learning lesson and a reason to give thanks.  I haven't gotten a lot done, or even wanted to try, instead I had plenty of time to reflect and  focus on what is important to me.  Each pain free moment is a blessing to hold on to for me.  I give thanks to all who have stopped by and left encouraging words. 
So what do I want to focus on?   Giving.  Giving inspiration , giving encouragement, giving my time, giving what ever I can to others.  It's in the giving that I receive the most....that's the lesson I have learned again.  It's the position in life where I want to be.

Since I am not cooking a big dinner today, I spent the morning in the sewing room.  I got focused on the project on the design wall.  I cut a few black strips that will go between each band (which have not been trimmed yet), just to get a general idea.  I still have at least 3 more bands to make.  I thought I had a good selection of fabrics,  yet viewing this photo I see how heavy my stash is on medium and dark values.  I need to "lighten up" some areas! 

The seascape made it safely to Orlando, and Doreen and Steve love it.  Long time friends are a treasure.

Happy stitching,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mug Rugs

These little Mug Rugs are so quick and wonder they are popping up all over blogland!  These are four that I got finished and bound before the pulled muscle event.   Nothing elaborate--just a couple  leftover square in a square  blocks, and the small tulip was a paper pieced block I never used.  These are about 6" by 8". 
The black and white one is just and white fabrics from my daughter's stash and projects.
So if you have scrap bins, you have the makings  for lots of mug rugs.  A great way to de-stash!

Happy stitching,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Winter scene?

I worked on the Winter landscape....can you tell I was slightly under the influence of muscle relaxants?  Or maybe the wind was whipping across the valley!  Anyway,  I picked the dark blue for the border and have an extra part to trim and cut that will also be part of the border.  I need to wait a day or so to get it put together.  There is a reason for the warning on certain drugs --- "Do not operate machinery while taking this medication."  Don't ask me how I know.  
  I pulled a muscle in my side again this week, and am paying dearly for it.  The first time it was minor;   this time I did some damage.  I have sore ribs and spasms that feel like fireworks going off in my side and back.  At least I was able to lie down last night and get some sleep. 
Hope to be back to stitching in a few days.  I am having to be content with sorting strips for now.

Happy stitching.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Starting the Scrappy Braid

This is the beginning of my first run for the scrappy braid.  I started with a 2 1/2" square and a 5 inch strip--2 1/2" wide.  I sewed the square to the strip, keeping the strip on the left side of the square.  The next strip of the same fabric is added to the right side.  I wasn't exactly sure of the length for the second strip at this point, so it had a lo-o-ong tail! 

Once it was joined, I measured the length and decided a 6 inch length was right. 

Once both sides were added to the square, I pressed with a dry iron--no steam, or you will get a lot of stretching.  I think I mentioned that will have bias edges to work with at the last stage, so don't add trouble now with steam. 

Now to decide what fabric comes next.  I started with a medium value, so I went to middle stack in the box lid and pulled out 2 more fabrics.  The next strip to add is a small print that will read almost solid, and the third strip has more background showing.....but still the same value. 
Time to lighten the load, I think, so the fourth and fifth strips are from the light stack. The fourth strip blends well with the background of the third strip.
 Note that there is some blue in the fifth strip.  That's my clue to change colors and I go very light to a strip with a blue background and blue and purple floral print on it. 
  I usually use at least 2 strips in the same value before I change the value to lighter or darker.  Using only one light, one medium and then a dark appears to rigid to me.  And everyone needs a friend---so at least 2 of the value, and 3 is even better. 
There are  no rules to this...just instinct, I think.  Or maybe it is because I love puzzles and finding clues to solve them.  I look to the fabric to tell me which direction to go in.  Ok, maybe that is too much, because the fabric doesn't really speak!  Enough of that, and on to the final step for getting started. 

 Final photo.....I have 3 strips added and want to check the overall size that I will end up with before I go any further.   I used  a chalk wheel to mark a straight line across the base of the strip run ---right across the middle of the beginning square.  Then the ruler was lined up on the base line, and  a marked line of the ruler centered right through the apex point of the braid.  I used the chalk wheel again to mark the edges of the braid strip.  So far, so good.....just a bit close on the right hand side.  I will cut the rest of the  strips to add to the right side about 1/2" longer, so I have a margin of safety. 

Now I can safely cut the selected fabric strips into some general sizes and stack them in sewing order.  One final note.....I have plenty of fabric strips to choose from and I plan on using the same fabric  for the 5 " and 6 1/2" length.  But, I could mix it up and use different fabrics on either side--I would keep the values the same.  No rules, remember, it is your choice.

Got questions?  Let me know if I confused anyone.
Happy stitching.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...