Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Working on the Jewel Box Quilt

Part of the jewel box quilt is now up on the design wall, and I am beginning to sew the rows together.  I really the like the brights and a few darks too, set against the black background.  I didn't do any planning on this one......just used what came next in the stack.  I thought I would use up more scraps in this one....but I still have way too many scraps.  Never fear, I have lots more scrap quilt patterns to make.
We had a short afternoon bee today, and Suzanne shared an new technique (at least to me) for photo transfer using Citra solv.  It is a cleaning product that dissolves the toner ink---toner based ink rather than an inkjet--- from copies onto the fabric.  There are details and photos on their website.  Very easy and I think it might be an interesting technique to use in the art quilt projects to create a different background fabric from photos.  Maybe even for the collage project I am staring at.........will see.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Art Quilt Workbook day.....This month is collage.  When the group met last week, we pulled all types of trims and pieces out of a bag I had from Deana.  A really ugly green sheer ribbon spoke to me.  I think it was saying, "You would never use me, or make me beautiful."   Ha, Ha!  I did use it for my second exercise.  Fooled me!  The small  focus fabric has a frog and iris  on it and tiny script around it.  One phrase caught my eye.....So this  is called "Take the Leap".   I plan on adding beads or buttons down the left of the darker needs something else.  On to the theme project.
I am using the photo of Knaresborough Bridge --a do over--for my theme project.   I am not sure if this is the placement I will use or not, so I will live with it for a few days to be sure.  Two sides of the photo are finished off and will be stitched down, and the other 2 sides will be frayed and top stitched down.  I wanted to show that the original pen and ink was torn out of a sketchbook, passed along  in the family, and finally framed to hang in my dining room.  The large piece of fabric for the background is a tone on tone print with a swirl design (it doesn't show well in the photo).  I like the movement, as it represents the water and should show quilting really well.
Ok, enough for today.  Off to get the room cleaned up.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Carolina Bliss

It's done..........Carolina Bliss is 66 inches by 85 inches. 
Off to Charlotte tomorrow to shop for shoes and jeans for Alaska  trip in May.  I checked the weather forecast for next month there.  Providing there is no more snow, it should be great with the highs around 55 degrees.   Either way, we are all getting excited about going.
Happy stitching.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A finished project...not for me

Wouldn't this be a great sewing cabinet and cutting table?  Alas, it is not for me.  It is a cutting table of sorts, but for the saw stop table saw in the workshop.  Russ did a beautiful job...laminated top, matched grain on the drawers, and the cherry stained banding.  He already has the drawers filled with extra saw blades and hand tools.
Can you image those drawers filled with thread, fabric and a spot to store rulers?  I can!  Of course to fit it in my room it would have to be made in two sections to fit through the door.  Oh, well......
And then we went dumpster diving, or rather trash picking.....and came home with 2 discarded base cabinets.  Again these are for the wood workshop.  Russ intends to turn them into a storage workbench at the back of the shop.  He has to rebuild the base on one and add support, but a whole lot of time and money will be saved,  and  the enviroment helped too.    It is Earth Day.
Finally..........what's on my design walll?  Poppies to be fused and stitched to the center of this watercolor wall hanging.  I updated the watercolor page and talk a bit about this.  The more I look at it the more I like it.  So I think it is time to get it fused and sewn down.  I plan on adding a little bit of thread painting to the centers to finish them off. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Doesn't this look like a waterfall?

The creeping phlox is blooming all over the yard.  This patch is creeping down the slope from the back path under the bird feeder.  Viewing it from the deck, it  looks like a waterfall to me.  I started with about 3 sprigs of it from my daughter's yard about 4 years ago.  Now I have it everywhere.  Only wish the blooms lasted all spring and summer. 
 And one more shot I could not resist of the clematis by the shed.  I don't remember the exact name, but it is a beauty this year.  The purple blooms are to die for and it is loaded with them.   
I  cut back one of the rosemary bushes that had a couple of branches  leaning too far out.  So I harvested the leaves and washed and chopped them up.  It's time to make rosemary sea salt bread!  We planted a couple of seedling trees we were given and a Carolina orchid from my friend, Ilse.  Hope it likes its new home.
I added a new page on labeling your quilts and updated the page on designing a watercolor wall hanging.  It's been a busy day.
May all your weeds by wild flowers.

Tuesday Tip-----Hiding thread tails

Here's a good tip I recently learned to improve my machine quilting technique.
I confess that I have been guilty of just taking a couple of stitches in place and snipping off the thread tails when machine quilting.  I know you are suppose to hide the tails in the sandwich layer of the batting, but threading each thread--with my eyes--is difficult.  So I have been taking the easy way out.  Last night I did things different.  I had purchased a pack of easy  threading needles at the quilt show and thought I would see how they worked to thread and hide the tails on the french braid quilt.  WOW!  In probably 20 minutes I had threaded and hidden all the tails on the whole quilt.  It is large size, about 65 inches by 85 inches, and I used about 4 bobbins of thread to quilt it.  Since it is constructed in panels there were at least a dozen spots I had to stop and end off to move to another area. 
  The easy threading needles have a groove at the top of the eye of the needle.  Both thread tails can be threaded at once by simply  positioning them in the groove and giving a slight tug.  They easily slip into the eye of the needle.  Then carefully guide the needle back into the hole and weave through the batting layer and come out about an inch or so away.  Pull the threads through and snip the tails off.  Hidden tails!

So I will change my ways and hide the thread tails from now on.  It is much neater looking too!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quilting the French Braid

The quilting is done!  Thank goodness  for Isacord thread...especially on all batiks.  I used a free motion pattern, but inspired by the Carolina Jasmine that is beginning to bloom by the shop.  I was out there earlier this week untwisting the curls and trying to get the tendrils to cover the fence I am using as a trellis.  Inspiration!  So when I began to quilt the french braid, I used a twisting vine and lots of curls.   I don't mark my quilt tops, as I can't seem to follow the lines.  My brain must be  mis-wired to my eyes and hands.  Anyway, I just seem to do better winging it free hand.
So here are a couple of close up photos of the quilting in the braid area.  

 For the plain border I used a simple loop and curl that looks like a lasso to me.  It's a great filler and stitches up quickly.  And if you have any fullness--never admit it--this loop and curl is an easy way to hide/disguise/take it in!    So I will be squaring it up and sewing on the binding tomorrow, I hope.       I went to the Greenville guild's quilt show on Friday.  Always see great quilts and get motivation at a quilt show.   And visited the vendors.....bad girl.  But here is the rationalization....I needed 3 reds---the right reds---to do the poppies for the watercolor on the design wall.  So, I only bought 3 reds of  fabric.  And some thread, and a couple of books.  Like one quilter I met said, "Thread is easy to hide!"   
 Till next time, happy stitching.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm featured on Mary Jo's blog!

I scared Russ to death when I started screaming and yelling......but I did not faint this time.  I opened an email from Mary Jo's Cloth Store in Gastonia, NC, and there it said I was being featured in  MJ's blog  this week.  Shock, surprise, yahoo moment!  I sent in a couple of photos of quilts a couple of weeks ago when they put out a call for quilts and stories.   I never really thought they would take me up on it.  What a way to start the week. 
Mary Jo's is quilter's mecca in this area.  It's the size of a grocery store and the quilting cotton section is to die for.  When Deana was in college and needed fabrics for her senior collection, that is where we went.  Dad went too, because he carried all the bolts around.
 I think  I feel the need for a road trip.....oops, I forgot no more fabric.   Better get to stitching.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Floral stash and picking fabrics

And here is the sorted floral and watercolor stash.  I realized I had not shown a photo of this side of the closet.  The before shot was so bad I deleted it!   I have so many florals, I had to purchase 3 more bins to get this finished off.   And there is space on the bottom for the small bins of sorted scraps----when they get sorted, that is.   

          While sorting the floral fabrics in the stash closet, I picked out fabrics for another french braid quilt.  This is how I lined them up to see if they blend.  I had intended to use only blues and purples but decided  on this run of fabrics instead.  The accent will be a very dark malachite green.  I didn't pay a lot of attention to scale or color, just value. 

 This second set is for a blooming 9 patch.  The pattern is shaded to blend from light in the center to dark on the outside.  More attention to scale or size of print is needed with this pattern to create the blended effect.  There needs to be a mix of large, medium and small scale prints to make it work.  Just  hope I got it right, as I am ready to begin cutting. 
  I am quilting on the batik french braid and it is about half done.  Probably 2 more afternoons and I will get finished.  Then to make the label and decide who gets it....or not! 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Do Overs?

Do I have any "do-overs" in my life?  Yes, yes, and yes.....many times I have wished for a chance to do over something.  Big decisions and little ones pop up in my memory and I go off in the direction of do-over land.  This was part of the discussion at Bible study this week and the revelation was  to learn from your past and when confronted with similar situations you have the chance for a "do-over".  
This past week I had a do-over time in my sewing closet, and this morning I had another do-over for this month's art quilt project.  This month is creating a project using inspiration from a photo, and I began with a cropped photo of Knaresborough Bridge ( see photo on the left).  I even got the project sewn, but I have not been happy with it.  Why?  It is not me, and does not express anything about is  just a project.   My whole reason for doing the exercises in the Art Quilt Workbook is not only to learn the various techniques and improve the ones I have, but also to find my inner expression and direction.  So, I reviewed my list of insights and realized I was trying to copy the style of projects that other people had done, instead of creating one that expresses me.'s my do-over.  So much better and so much more me.    The photo is a shot of the heath meadow through the trees in Sussex, England.  I love the misty, hazy effect in the distance---my sensitive side revealed.  It just called to me to create a blended effect around the photo.   I extended a couple of the tree trunks off the top and added one tree outside the photo on the right to give greater perspective.  Then lots of leaf shapes were cut, and fused to bring it all together.  At the bottom you can see that I used the right side and the wrong side of the same fabric for part of the blended areas.  To stitch everything down, I stitched/quilted through  the top, batt and backing.  It's a great, fast one step method that I had never done before.  The stitches aren't beautiful, but I like the effect. 
Insight:  Trust my instincts.  That's why I have them.

And one final note.  It only took about 3 minutes to clean up and return the fabrics used to their rightful places.  A project completed and the sewing room is still neat!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stash....the after!

Lots more progress made on the stash closet.   The mini-bolts sure make it neater, and they fill an entire row of the shelf.  There is still a small stack of fabric yardage to be rolled into mini-bolts, but it is off the floor!  Small pieces and FQ's are in the bins (on the shelf and also the ones on the floor)  according to basic color family.   Now there is actually breathing space. 
So next on the agenda is to sort the huge pile of bits and pieces--scraps--into sizes like Bonnie Hunter suggests.  That will probably take a while as it is huge.    I also made special bins for landscape fabrics and sky and water fabrics.  While I was sorting the watercolor fabrics, I went ahead and pulled fabrics that I intend to use for 2 floral quilts.  One will be a blooming 9 patch and the second a french braid.  I put these fabrics and the books/ instructions into separate project boxes.  They now occupy the bare spot on the stacking bins in the second photo. 
So now the big long will it stay this way?   Who knows but I hope I can be neater and more productive for a little while.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Making some progress

Update----Very slow progress...but I found a place, or rather Russ found a spot, to store the packages of batting.  So the  big box is out of here!  I am rolling yardage over 1 1/2 yard onto the plastic covers and  creating mini-bolts.  I have run out the plastic coversheets I had, so I have gone to the plastic mesh canvas that I had.  Hope there is  enough of it.  
And alas, I have created a huge pile of scraps that need to be sorted and cut into sizes.
InsightI do not need any more fabric. I may desire it, but!
Insight:  I need to make more scrap quilts!

Bright yellow tulips by the side door.....  
I just had to share them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Contrasts and disorganization!

The tiny grape hyacinths are blooming along the back walk.  From a distance it looks like  a lovely sea of blue-purple.  I like the  color contrast with the gray of the lavender in the background.
  Since returning from Florida last week, I have felt very scattered -- lack of focus, and have not gotten a lot accomplished.    I cleaned the cutting table off and picked up the items and books off the floor.  Project boxes were stacked under a side table and batting stored away.   Still I hard a difficult time getting to work.
Well now, I think I diagnosed my problem, and it is not just allergies and pollen.  I am embarrassed to say it is  being messy and  disorganized.....check out this photo to see what I mean.

I have been pulling out fabric for small projects and such and just stuffing it back wherever.  This is only one side of the closet and then there is the floor--where a lot of the overflow resides!  No wonder I can't think straight, it is too overwhelming to hunt for what I think I could use.   So, getting this mess in shape is a priority before I begin anything new.  
I ran across the mini-bolt idea from  and I think I will use their folding technique for getting some of this arranged.  I have a huge stack of plastic type cover sheets that I am going to experiment with before I make an investment in their mini-bolts. 
Any and all storage ideas are welcomed....please share them. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I think it's Spring?

I think it's Spring, but the last 3 days have felt like Summer!  And to think that one month ago I was thinking the warmth would not arrive soon enough.   So it is time to change out my seasonal banner.  Here's the one  in watercolors for spring.
  I have started free motion quilting on the french braid in batiks.  I ordered the Isacord thread and decided it was time to get on with it.  I just kept putting off getting started because stitching on batiks using free motion can be very trying to my soul.   Why?   Batiks are usually a higher thread count and may have a residue of dye or wax left on the fabric (even after one washing).  All three can cause major friction on the thread as it goes in and out of the fabric.  The result can be tension problems and thread breaks that create lots of frustration for me.  
I am definitely a convert for free motion quilting with Isacord.  No thread breaks, or snaps or fraying, when  I do circles and change direction.  I am using  a 50 weight cotton bobbin thread, and the tension looks just fine, and a size 14 quilting needle.   So...back to stitching.
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