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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Binding finished

Some of the 3-D bow tie blocks were turned into a small table runner for Christmas---all the "knots" were in a red print and the rest of the bow tie were green prints.    The other bow tie blocks are now joined and waiting to be quilted.  Maybe after the holidays!
The mountains are now called "My Carolina Byways" and it is bound and labeled.  The borders are different sizes on this and left are 3" and the bottom and right are 4 1/2".  Huh?  That's what was in my scrap boxes and I decided to mix it up and use up the stash.  Same for the bindings.  It's a great snuggle lap quilt....just for me. 

While I was putting  the leftover scraps away from this, I ran across a box of leftover blocks.  Well, actually, the box fell off the shelf and almost  landed on top of me.  The point being I had forgotten about the odd test blocks, and leftovers from many projects.  I found a few "gems" in there and bingo!  I was off on a new binge.  I put together about 6 Mug Rugs and got 4 of them quilted last night.  What a great way to use up some scraps and have some small projects to share.  I think I will include one with the tote bag I made for Billie and her travels.
  The worktable is cleared off now, so onto the scappy braid.  More instuctions tomorrow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sorting fabrics for the scrappy braid

Life interfered this week and I have only just begun to sort the 3 shoe  boxes of strips.  Our guild meeting was Monday night and the speaker was Dixie Haywood, a quilting pioneer for modern  crazy quilting and foundation piecing.  What a wonderful showing of her quilts--and her winners  at Houston in past years.  She was probably the first quilter to use the "tilted" setting, using long triangles for the borders.  And she still hand quilts....just beautiful.
On to sorting.....oops, I found another partial box.  Some strips are full width of fabrics, others are from fat quarters, and lots of short pieces left from other projects.    Beware when I open one of these and get started, the strips seems to multiply.

Here are stacks of strips  from the first box that are sorted into "color families"....blues, purples, yellows, green, red, and orange to browns.
Some fabrics are easy to identify because they read as a solid--- think tone on tone fabrics and batiks.  But what about multi-color prints and designs?  My first sort goes by first impression as I glance at the fabric, or by the background color.  Example is the dark blue background fabric with the large leaves.  I put it in the blue stack for now.  Next to it is the purple stack and the floral print on the top has several colors in it.  But the first impression is the purple color and that's where I put it.  I may or not be able to use these busy fabrics in the planned braid design---they may just appear too dominant or stand out too much.  If that happens,  I will put them back into the box for another project.   But hopefully, the busy prints will be the transition pieces that will allow me to jump from one color family to another. 

The purple stack is now sorted by value. All the purples were spread out on my work table.  Piece by piece, I judge the value....I use a value viewer when in doubt.  The lightest go to the left, and the darkest go to the right.  What is left in the middle are the mediums.  Simple as that! I have lots of saved lids from shoe boxes, so each color family will have a separate "tray" that I will work from.  I have a lot of sorting to do before I begin sewing the long braids, but I will try a short segment to decide on how long to cut the strips. 
Next time, I'll show you how to get the braid started....I hope! 
Happy stitching.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Clearing off the design wall

I finished up the quilting on the mountains, and just need to get the binding on.  And all those small landscapes were hogging the rest of the design wall.  So I managed to get the beach seascape quilted and the borders on the rest of them.  I tried adding rocks to extend into the border and just didn't like it that way.  I gave up and just quilted it to pieces!  I do like the "barn wood" type fabric I used for the border, as it has a bit of turquoise in it to pick up  the water color.   This one goes to Steve and Doreen....Sun rises over Cadillac Mtn in Maine.

These are the  Spring, Summer, and Fall small landscapes.  I ended up using fabric markers on the Spring one--to shade and blend the strip fabric that looked like a road.  then I thought it needed a fence on the fall side of the road.....too tiny pieces.
Summer finished off better, I think.  I extended the foreground of rocks and some more flowers into the border.
Fall looks good in the photo, but trying to come up with the right reds and angles to make it work was a challenge.  Finally, I realized everything was on the bottom with just a tiny strip for the hills and then the lake.  I added a second layer on the far side of the lake and got the depth I needed.  I changed to a different piece for the very bottom---leaves of different greens and some reds and was able to blend a tree into it.  I was happy with how it ended up.  I have not done the Winter season yet, but I did thread paint a few small pine and fir trees for it....maybe. 
Part of this exercise for the 4 seasons was to understand the choice of fabrics and shades of colors will convey an impression of the time of year.  Spring colors are lighter and more yellow based---my choices were a bit off in this one.  Summer colors are deeper and brighter greens and the shadows are stronger because of the sun.  Fall colors, well guess we just look out the window right reds and golds and tans. 
InsightDo the exercises--like them or not---you might learn something in the process.
I bought the book to learn, and I would be wasting my $ if I only looked at the photos.  Time invested was small in comparison to what I gained.  So I will get the Winter season done. 

My evening stitching project of the 3-D bow-ties is ready to be put together....all 20 blocks.  I only made a small dent in my 3 1/2 " square stash.  But back into the closet they go, because I am ready to begin sorting through 2 1/2 " strips for the scrappy braid.  Stay tuned.
Happy stitching,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Got strips?

Got strips?   I do.  And it is time to use up all those 2 1/2 "  strips and pieces that fill 3 shoe boxes in my closet.    My de-stash project will be  a scrappy braid quilt, where anything goes, or at least almost anything.  So if you want to sew along, I will be giving details and explaining how to put a scrappy braid quilt together. 

 I love scrap quilts, but there does need to be some sort of order or plan to make it successful.  So I plan on working in colorways and blending by value.  A simple braid ends up appearing complex,  because it is "on point" or diagonal when finished.  Yet it  is very easy to sew and it "grows" in length quickly.  

  This is a snapshot from EQ5 of a "block" done in a simple braid, so you can see the easy construction.  It is kind of like a log cabin--you just keep adding to one side instead of going around the center.  The braid will not be done in blocks but in one long strip.  And you have a zigzag edge to it that will be trimmed when the strip is finished. 
 Rather than re-invent the wheel or construction wheel, I guess it would be.....visit Bonnie Hunter at quiltville because she has a great tutorial on the pioneer braid construction. 

So how do I plan and figure out how much fabric I need?  Decide on the size I want to end up with....a lap size of 50 " by 60 " is what I usually aim for.  In general, that size will require about 3  yards of I think I have that in the 3 shoe boxes of strips. 

The math:    I am working with 2 1/2  inch strips .....remember to subtract the seam allowance.  Finished  at 2 inch  works out to be-----  2 times 1.414 equals 2.8 inch diagonal measurement. (Note*  refer to the photo above to see how the strips end up on the diagonal).   Each strip in the braid will give me a diagonal length of 2.8 inches.  I want a length of about 60 inches.  Divide 60 by 2.8 and get 21.4.  YUK!  Don't like those fractions.  So I will work with 20 strips for each braid and should finish up about 56 inch in length for the braid.  That will give me room for adding a border. 
So how wide will each braid strip be?  That depends on me!  I plan on using a separator strip of black---2 " that will finish at 1 1/2 " ---between each braid.  I want an odd number of braids---design principle that odd is better than even.  That means 5 or 7.....using 5 braids runs and a 1.5 inch strip between each one, the braids would need to be 7 inches wide to get the width.  If I make 7 braid runs (again with a 1.5  inch strip between them), the braid width will be narrower, probably 5"  or 6"  which will be good for using smaller strip lengths. 

So here's a mock up I created in EQ5 using 5 braid runs to give  a better idea of what all those words and math figures meant. 
Got questions?  Ask them.
Got strips?  Get them out. 
 I am going to check my stash and see what I have to work with. 
Then  I will explain how I will sort them and get ready to sew.

Here's a signature creator that I ran across last week for bloggers.  Just thought I would share.
Happy stitching.....

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