Friday, October 29, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Welcome to the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Kit Kat has always been one of my favorite quilts.  Naturally, it is a watercolor--strip pieced-- and tells a story.   I took a class on the technique in 2000 and really found my quilting heart in watercolor quilts.  I love to blend the fabrics to fool the eye and make you look closer to see what is beyond. 
For this technique you use 25 different fabrics for each block.  Using full width of fabric cuts, you get about 18 blocks that are alike.  Using fat quarters, you would get 9 blocks.  For this quilt, I  used up a lot of short lengths of strips  and made  about 4 different combinations to get enough blocks.  
The challenge with this technique is the layout.  You can't be sure what you will get until you try....very subjective.    Some block combinations have more light areas, and others more dark areas.  No matter what I plan before sewing,  the blocks seem to have a mind of their own.    Yet, for a large lap quilt size (this is 50" by 65"), it is the way to do it.  
 The story......  
I tried all kinds of layouts before settling on this one. It reminded me of the trellis on the back deck that had a Clematis vine growing on it.  And our cat, Pookie, loved to nap in the sun near the trellis.    One day I watched as she patiently watched the butterflies flit all around her.  And then that paw flashed out as she tried to catch one for her own.  Thankfully, she missed, but I loved the moment. 
So as I studied the trellis layout, that picture in my memory came back to me.  I machine appliqued a couple of vines, leaves, and blossoms along with a pink butterfly.  The silhouette of Pookie was drawn from a photo and raw edge appliqued too.  I added 2 narrow strip inset borders before the outer border.  I love the way it frames the quilt like a photo.  
So this quilt became the photo of that special memory.  Each quilt tells a story.  It is part of the threads of our lives.  And that's my secret to share....I stitch a little piece of my heart into each quilt I make.  That is what gives them life.
May each stitch you take create a special memory of your life and those you love.Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Happy Stitching....Debbie

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Small Landscapes are addicting!

The first practice piece  is now ready to finish off.  I am just turning the border to the back and stitching it in place rather than a full binding.  Looking at it now, I wish I had extended the base of the  tree into the border.  I'll try to remember that for another one.

I put together the Spring scene yesterday and added the details this morning.  One thing I did differently this time was to use a piece of muslin as a base to work on. I cut base  fabric 7" by 10".   I  just top stitched the pieces to the base.   I don't like the striped fabric....instead of looking like a plowed field, it looks like a road!  And I think the golden piece should have had a flatter curve.  The little fence worked great, even if the tiny sticks were a pain to work with.  I cheated and  used Pigma pens  to add shadows at the base of them,  and for the details on the lighthouse.
Then I pulled fabrics out for the Summer.  I decided that the sky was too stormy looking for a summer day and switched it to a lighter blue.  Matter of fact, I switched most of them and added water after all.   I'm not sure what details I will go back and add to this one.... maybe a boat on the lake, or a tree overhanging from the border once it is attached.  I ended with the road/path at the bottom, like you are over looking the whole scene.    

So exactly what have I learned from doing this practice..........
I need a base fabric to sew on.  It keeps the top fabric from shifting so much.
    Study photos for shading in the landscape.
    Add details, it gives the scene  life.
    These things are can't make just one!
    And I need a new camera.  Mine died while trying to take these photos.  Or else I need to learn how to use Russ' better!

Tomorrow the Blogger's Quilt festival begins......

Happy Stitching....Debbie

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bucket List Day

No sewing on Tuesday, as it was a Bucket List Day.  If you haven't seen the movie, The Bucket List, you may not understand this post.  Basically the bucket list is all the things you want to do or see before you kick the bucket.
  I heard that a group of vintage war planes were in town for tours and rides.  I told Russ, "No work on Tuesday.  We are going to tour the planes.  You have your orders."
 And we did.  I crawled, climbed and squeezed through the B-17, known as The Flying Fortress, and the B-24, known as The Liberator.  What an experience, from the tiny flight step--not deck-- to the bomb bay and the waist gunners, to the tail.  I was over-whelmed by what those men did for our country and our freedom.  This  top photo is the B-17, the last of it's kind that is still flying.   The second is inside looking towards the front and the pilot's seat. 

The P-51 Mustang was a real beauty.  This plane is a small 2 seater and known for speed.  Everyone wanted to just touch her.
There were over 240 WWII Vets that came out that day, and it was a special treat to hear some of their stories.  Several of the men had actually piloted planes like these.

The special surprise Russ was the end of the day.....when he got to take a ride in the Flying Fortress.   He even crawled into the nose gun area during the flight.  

Just nothing like sharing a special day and crossing something off your Bucket List.
It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away.

Happy Stitching....Debbie

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ergonomic tip....

Here's what I added to my sewing set up recently.  An over-turned crate---about 5 inches high---to elevate my machine foot pedal.   Plus, it is  large enough  as a support for my other foot when stitching.  I can now sit back in the chair rather than perch on the edge.  The overall result is better posture, reduced back pain, and I feel I have better control over the fabric, and machine.   Why didn't I think of this sooner?
  The rest of the salvaged crates---saved from the dumpster by my husband---are used to hold fabric in the stash closet.  I did a do-over on the closet this past Spring.  This is a today photo, so you can see that I have not reverted back to the "cram it in anywhere" method of storing fabric.  Actually, Saturday I sorted the big bin of scraps and leftovers  from projects  I completed in the last few months.  I set aside a shoe box of pieces for Emily and her lessons, and the rest was cut into strips and squares and put in the correct bins.   I pulled a few pieces out and set aside for use in the small landscapes. 
I  now have 3 boxes of 2 1/2" I will be starting a project soon to put a big dent in those.  I am debating on a scrappy braid, or a log cabin.  Right now, I am leaning towards a braid.....because I get a couple of questions  every week about the braid pattern.   It's very easy, just requires a bit of planning for the layout. 

Happy Stitching....Debbie

Friday, October 22, 2010


I spent yesterday morning cleaning house and the sewing room--with the intention of having the afternoon to do the second lesson of landscapes.  Of course, life interfered in the afternoon and I only got about an hour to work on this lesson.  So I tried last night to create the seascape.  Ugh!

For this lesson, I needed 7 strips of blue for the water/ocean, sky and sand. Six of strips for the water  were to have a curved side on one long edge that was pressed under 1/4".  The darkest strip had a  straight edge turned under for the horizon line.  Then the strips are  layered one on the other to blend the water from distant to near.   Sounds we go.
I took the seven layers for the water apart about three times.  The scene looked very flat and off.  Finally in frustration, I put it aside.  And with a fresh effort this morning, I put it together in a couple of hours.  I realized that to get the perspective right that the strips of water closer to the shore needed to be thin and tiny.  That meant that the strips of water in the distance were wider.  Re-read is the reverse of what I had been trying to do.  Usually, the nearer the object the larger it is and smaller objects appear farther away.   A couple of my strips were short pieces so I decided to add trees and a few rocks on the right side to make it work.  These I fused on top of everything and then stitched down. 
Here it is top-stitched, and a bit of thread painting--water around the rocks,  and trees in the distance.  This ended up 9" by 11" before I border it.  I may add a few larger boulders to overlap into the border at the shoreline....something to bring the eye to the foreground. 

Insight:  Creating perspective and distance in a seascape for  water is not easy.  Smaller layers of fabric create nearness in water.
InsightFabrics for landscape are very diverse.  The fabrics I thought would work, were the worse. More depth is created by varying the texture of the fabric---batiks, printed designs and patterns. 

Lesson three in Accidental Landscapes is on seasons.  Hope it is easier that the seascape!
Anyone else working on this type of stuff?  Let me know.....
Happy Stitching....Debbie

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Practice landscape

I did get the mountains pieced and  the border attached , and a table runner put together yesterday. So today was guilt-free play time.
This took about 2 1/2 hours to put together following the technique in Accidental Landscape.  I didn't have a real photo to work from, I  just followed the practice first lesson, and here's what I ended up with......

The tree, rocks and a few thread painted leaves were my idea and not part of the lesson.  I needed to push the landscape back and create some depth.  It is only 8 1/2" by 9 1/2 ".  Most of the fabrics I used were some of the hand painted ones I did this spring. 
So now, I have to choose a border.  They both have the colors of the scene, but I think the blue on the right does a better job.  The other one is too greyed for this. 
Lesson 2 tomorrow.....I hope.
Happy Stitching....Debbie

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Landscape books and ideas

OK,  I've done a few landscape type wall hangings, but not like this!  It is from Accidental Landscapes by Karen Eckmeier, which is the book I got at the quilt show this past weekend.  And the photos in the book cause me to stop at the next vendor where I got this luscious fabric that is shaded  and blended in rich jewel tones. 
  I browsed thru the book on the way home and have read thru it twice!  Although,  I have a couple of other books about landscapes, I am very excited about this one.  These landscapes are small and simple and I don't have to fuse everything, or do paper piecing and work backwards.  That drives me crazy.  I can work from the front with curved lines and  use some thread painting too. 
I pulled out my inspiration folder of photos from magazines, calendars, and postcards.  I have been saving these for a while, sometimes just because I liked the scene and other times for the color combinations.  Anyway....guess what I found?
Lots of great photos that are just perfect for these small landscapes.  Beach scenes, and mountains, valleys, and back roads.  All with at least three layers that landscapes need, in some combination---sky, horizon line of trees, mountains, or water, and a foreground. 
So tonight I plan on pulling out the sketch pad and drawing  off a couple scenes.    Anyone want to do a landscape with me?

That means I have to finish piecing the mountains on the design wall----that's the pledge I made.  Finish off the big project before beginning a new one.  Better get to the sewing room.

Happy Stitching....Debbie

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apples and a quilt show

Friday was a beautiful day for a drive to pick up apples in Hendersonville, NC.  Of course, the added bonus was a quilt show there by the Western NC Quilt Guild.  In today's quilt world of machine quilting, it was wonderful to see so many hand quilted quilts.  This one didn't win any awards, but the quilting was wonderful and I really liked the mix of traditional pieced and applique. 
But this is the one I wanted to bring home with me...there is nothing more wonderful than a log cabin quilt!  The placement of the blue to green in the dark logs created a twisted ribbon effect that was outstanding.  Sorry my photo doesn't do it justice.  This was professionally quilted---one of the winners in the category--and it was great.   
This small quilt caught my eye for a couple of reasons.  First the colors and the shapes of the trees, especially the blue one.  We don't always have to play by the rules!    And second for the quirky setting using the checkerboard squares....that even went into the border to separate the 2 different border fabrics.   Just my kind of ending--waste not!
 There were 2 or 3 quilts that were done using a pattern called "Aussie".  It is very simple, great for featuring large focus fabrics, and  creates a shadow effect.  I plan to play around with it for my next evening sewing project, so more on it later.
  Finally, the vendors......lots of them.  I visited Brenda from School House Quilts and picked up a new book on landscapes  and a roll of pattern paper.  I found a couple of beautiful landscape fabrics----sky and trees--at the Cotton Quilt.  Guess you can tell I am preparing for a new adventure.
   I was really inspired by Gail Sexton, who spoke at guild this week.  She does beautiful applique, and machine quilting, but when she ended with her small landscapes.....I was inspired.  My mind has been reeling with ideas all week.  No way to resolve it, but give it a good try.....when I get my current big project done.  Or at least that's the plan ;)

Happy Stitching....Debbie

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick and Easy end to binding

A quick and easy way to attach and end binding....tutorial requested by Deborah.

Cut strips at 2 1/2 inches.  Join binding using a diagonal seam--see first photo.  The ends of the strips are at right angles to each other and right sides together.  Draw a line for stitching from the upper left corner to the lower right corner of the top fabric.  Stitch on the line.

Trim the seam to 1/4 inch, and press the seam open.
You should have a straight piece of binding with a nice diagonal seam.

To the beginning end of the binding, fold the end down to create a 45 degree angle.  Press a crease and then trim off the excess to leave about 1/2 inch folded over.
Now for the quick ending help......Cut a piece of paper backed fusible that is about 1/2 inch wide and about 2 inches long.  Fuse this over the folded end of the binding at the 45 degree fold.  I leave the paper on.  Fold the binding in half.

With the binding folded in half,  place in on the back of your quilted piece, matching the raw edges.  Look close and you can see a pin where I began is about 3 inches from the beginning point of the binding.  Stitch the binding on as usual.  I miter the corners.
Now the binding is attached all the way around and I stop stitching about 2 -3 inches from the beginning of the binding.  The long tail needs to be trimmed to overlap the beginning end....about 1 inch overlap.  I cut  it on a diagonal to match  the beginning binding.   Now you can remove the paper on the fusible strip.

This photo shows  the ending tail trimmed to match the diagonal and it is tucked into the fold of the beginning binding edge.   
Pin it in place and go to the ironing board.     Press the join.  You are securing the end of the binding by  fusing the end to the beginning.   Back to the machine, and stitch the rest of the seam to finish attaching the binding. 

 Almost done....... Pull the binding to the front of the quilt.  I go back to the ironing board and do a quick press on the corners and pin the fold to secure it.  You can see where the beginning and ending point is....and fused. 

Last step is to top stitch from the front along the edge of the binding.  I pivot at the corners with the needle down in the fabric and continue to stitch all the way around.  This last photo is a different small piece, but you can see the stitching better on the front because I used a variegated thread to finish it off. 
I think this is done!
Happy Stitching....Debbie

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Binding with scraps Part II

This corner of Misty Window is a good example of mixed bindings. There are 3 pieces of different fabrics used on just this corner. All are dark in value and blend well. Note that the green piece was only about 18 inches long, but I used it anyway.
If I have 2 short pieces of the same fabric, I join them with a straight seam usually.  On this quilt I did use diagonal seams to join different pieces. 

This is a corner of My Carolina Fence quilt. On this one, I broke my general rule and went from dark strips to light strips.  I joined 3 or 4 darks strips in sequence and then switched to light to create enough binding.    The rail fence pattern is based on value of dark to light and the binding does the same. 

And one more approach I use in selecting bindings. I have done this in several watercolor wall hangings because of the design.   I carry the border value of the quilt to the binding. It sort of fools the eye to ignore the bound edge. In Fall to Winter, one side of the border is rust colored and the other sides are very dark batiks. So rather than bind the entire piece in dark batiks, I used the rust and reds to bind one side and the other sides are dark pieces. You can see how the color just extends to the edge and doesn't stop because of a dark binding. 

 Finally, Sussex is a small art quilt of photo blended with fabric.  I matched the binding to the fabric, changing from the sky to the purple heath at the bottom. 

I also do a quick finish on most of my bindings.  My quilts are meant to be used, washed, and enjoyed....not just shown.  So I rarely hand sew down a binding.....I top stitch.   First I fold down beginning end of the binding to create a 45 degree fold.  I fuse a small piece of steam a seam  or wonder under to the folded edge.  (This is the quickie way to finish off a binding---learned from Lynn Buske.)    I leave about 3 inches unsewn when I begin.  Binding is first sewn to the back of the quilt with a 3/8" seam, and corners are mitered.  Then the binding is folded over to the front of the quilt and the mitered corners are lightly pressed.  Then I top stitch along the edge, being sure to catch the mitered corner at the corner.  When I get to where the bindings should be joined, I tuck the  ending part (trimmed to fit)   of the binding inside the beginning fold.  Keeping it snug, I continue to stitch to where I began.   Back to the ironing board and a good press at the point of joining.....the fusible will do the hand work for me.   Done!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From Quiltville

Bonnie Hunter   from Quiltville responds to the article that was in McCall's Quilting about copyright.  I love her response and attitude about copyright.  Click here to read her blog post on it. 
Give credit where credit is motto and I am sticking to it.  I post designs and ideas knowing full well that anyone can view, read, use, and hopefully learn and be inspired.  That's why I do it. 
No offense, I don't need a lawyer to tell me to give credit where credit is due.  I don't often buy patterns and I won't be  anymore for this reason.  Quilters spread Bonnie's response.

Binding with scraps--waste not

When I mentioned I had a bag of leftover strips from bindings's part of my assortment... I actually thought most quilters used their left over binding on other projects.  But judging from my emails, I was wrong.  In my assortment some pieces  are long--a yard or more-- and others fairly short pieces.  I save them all.  I rarely buy extra yardage for binding.
 Why?   I think I like the final statement a mixed scrap binding says, "Don't take me too seriously."  Kind of a waste not approach....or my contribution to being green!
  This is not an original idea.  It goes back to a guild program from several years ago.  I don't even remember  who our speaker was, only that she did the most wonderful  scrap quilts and that she used whatever she had that blended in value.  Example.....she did not have enough black for sashing  in the quilt she was working on.  So she pulled whatever black (including some with prints) out of her stash and mixed it all together.  She also needed yellow for an applique and did not have enough of one fabric.  Again, she pieced yellows of the same value together to create a "new piece" of fabric from which to cut her appliques.  Each of her quilts had so much life and movement.  That tidbit stayed with me and helped me develop my own style/technique/method of waste not. 
  How do I use them? I join these strips together and bind scrap quilts and wall hangings with them. It depends on the quilt, of course, but many scrap quilts look wonderful with a mixed binding. Again, I often--but not always-- work with value when I use them.  From a distance the values will blend usually and not be noticed.   Or, I might use some to finish off a label for a quilt. 

How to join the strips......well, I'll be honest and admit that I sometimes just do a straight seam, especially when I am in a hurry.  It works, but just doesn't look as nice as the diagonal join.
The correct way is the diagonal join.  The fabrics are right sides together and the ends are placed as in the photo.  I slightly extend the ends to have a good visual reference of where to draw the sewing line.  Sew from the top left to the bottom right.  Trim the seams to 1/2 inch and press open.   Pretend you are making a HST and sew on the line!   I find this easier that cutting  a 45 degree angle and joining. 
And if you really want to be a scrap user, stitch the cut off triangles together to create a real HST.
Tomorrow I'll pull together a few examples of different bindings I have done.   Maybe next time someone will try the scrap thing instead of buying yardage for binding. 
Happy stitching. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall is in the air!

Warm days and cool it!
This is Finally Fall made a few years ago.    I love to hang it in the kitchen at this time of year.  The pattern was from a magazine and I really liked the offset layout.  The background is pieced with a large pieces and then the pumpkins, apples and leaves are fused and stitched by machine.  I almost went crazy doing a nice edge to all the I probably would use more decorative stitches on the edges and leave some with frayed edges.  Styles change, but I still like the blended background and the rich fall colors. 
I think it is time to make some apple bread....that means a trip to Hendersonville for the very best apples.  And since there is a quilt show next weekend up there,  I think I can arrange a stop at the orchard, too.  Yep, Fall is in the air.

Eileen asked a question about fusing the batting together.
First, let me say that I use every scrap bit of batting I get in some way.  Batting is expensive and I piece it together like fabric....usually with a very wide, very long zig-zag stitch.   The small strips that are 3-4" wide can be joined for purses, totes, and small wall hangings.  Larger side strips and off cut hunks  are joined for lap quilts.  Some lap quilts might have 4 pieces of batting.  I am careful to use the same batting and join the same side up on all pieces.   Different battings will shrink  differently, or not at all, and some have scrim (that's another lesson there) to keep the fibers together. 
The new item I used is call heat press batting together.  It comes as a roll of fusible cloth tape about 1 1/2" wide of 10 yards.  Actually it is fusible tricot--garment sewers know it is a woven, stretchable interfacing.  It is easy to use, works well, easy to stitch thru, but is a bit pricey. 
Lay your batting edges together.  Press the tape over the two edges with a medium heated iron for about 10 seconds.  Edges joined!   Better than zig-zag stitching the humps or bumps to sew thru either. 
The fusible tricot comes in yardage at fabric stores...usually 20 inches wide for about $ cutting your own strips would be less costly.  You decide---quick and easy versus cost.  And thanks for the question, Eileen.

Happy stitching.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Using leftover strips

A little more de-stashing was required to put these leftovers block pieces and strips to good use.  I had a request for a quilt for Jinny's Rainbow, which is a project that makes  lap quilt for  cancer patients.
 I had a stack of leftover cuts from the pastel quilt I put together for our guild President this year.  I found just enough of the light green to sash the long rows together to get enough width.  By sashing the long rows, I hope it isn't too obvious that each leftover set is a different length.  I pieced several leftover binding strips to finish it off.   I keep all the leftovers from bindings in a big baggie...just in case I have a project like this.  The batting is pieced also.....using the fusible tricot strip.  It worked like a dream.  Garden of Hope is very scrappy and ended up 37 inches by 60 inches. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Piecing the mountains

I started piecing the project on the design sections.  The overall quilt could be completely pieced in rows going across since that is how I put it up on the design wall.  But after studying it a while, I realized that the most important part of the design element needed to be precise.  And that means the dark mountain shapes need to have very straight sides---accurate piecing of those 45 degree angles. 
So I am working in jig-saw puzzle style, first stitching the mountains together.  I remove the pieces of the mountain to a portable design board, go to the machine and join all the pieces in each row, and then join the darks together row by row.  Next I straighten the sides making sure I have a good 45 degree angle.    I repeat the process for the light section that attaches to it.  Then join the dark to the light.
 You can see already how much it is beginning to "shrink" down with all the seams added.  Not a problem.....have an idea to work on for the border.
There are going to be a few odd points where I need to use partial seams to get things together this way, but so part so good.
  Note on the blooming 9 patch.....Wanda at Exhuberant Color commented that the black and white layout was from a new book.  She sent me the info...."Radiant Sunshine and Shadow" by Helen Frost.  Thanks, Wanda.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Did I mention thread?

Vibrant, beautiful colors of thread.....the box full for $5 at the end of the sale!  Large spools and small spools, mainly 30 wt. embroidery threads.  I think it was just meant for me and  thread painting.  I did not win the thread basket drawing, but I came home with a stash of thread.

And one more from the show......
This black and white quilt is done in the blooming nine patch pattern and is very striking....the photo does not do it justice.  Carol did an outstanding job in using the values of the black and white prints by basing her choices on the amount of black in the background of each fabric.  The fabrics with the least amount of black and having a white background became her light values.    She blended the values from light to medium to dark, and then repeated the arrangement to get the radiant effect.  She finished with a narrow inset strip in lime green to separate the dark border.  I get emails about the blooming nine patch and this is a great example to study. 
 A quick word about her layout...this blooming 9 patch is not set on point.  It  is a straight setting and ends up in a "barn raising style" setting.  The 9 patch blocks are alternated with a plain block to achieve the blending from one  fabric to the other. 
Happy stitching.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quilt Show favorites

The 2010 quilt show is over, but I thought I would share a few favorites.
 All the photos were taken by Dave, who is one of our members.  And yes, he quilts too.

It was an amazing and touching day yesterday at the show.  Sarah brought Emily, who I am teaching to sew,  to see the quilt show.  She was  overwhelmed by all the quilts and fabrics, and she so wanted to win a door prize of fabric.  Suzanne, our show chairman, pulled out a  small stack of donated fabrics  and gave them to Emily.  She was thrilled.  A few minutes later, Emily's number was called and she did win a pack of fat quarters.  More thrilled.  We continued looking at the quilts, and a lady approached Emily and handed her 2 bundles of fat quarters!  The lady said she was called Nanny Annie, and she wanted Emily to go home and write in her journal about all things she saw today and to write down her  own ideas. 
  Now, let me explain why I began crying.....just last week I gave Emily a sewing journal for her to use and keep a book of her ideas and favorite things like colors and photos.  How did this lady, who I did not know, know about this journal assignment? 
But that is not all.....another lady gave Emily her door prize of fabrics, and yet another.  Emily's purse could not hold it all!    At the end of the day Emily was all smiles and proclaimed, "I am an artist." 

  It's not the breaths you take,
but the moments that take your breath away.

I can't express how much these ladies touched my heart.  Thank you. 
Happy stitching.

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