Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finishing the loose ends

   In between things this past month, I made long rows  from the leftover short strips of all sizes, every color....just throw it all in to the mix.   Pretty scary, huh?  I just wanted to use up those short pieces and empty a container.  These rows are 6 1/2" wide and about 60 inches long.   Makes a great waste not project.  
  Yesterday, I put it together into a coin quilt.  I used 3" wide bands between each row, and added a 5" border on all sides.  So it is  now ready to pin and  quilt and become a donation quilt for my guild Habitat for Humanity project.  

  And to fulfill my promise for a doll quilt for each project finished, I did a small one that is also ready to quilt.   These strips were too short for the big one....the rows are 5 inches wide with a 2 inch band in the center.  

  Since I was on a roll, I added a border to the strip pieced water color that I never finished.   This is the one I put together during the strip piecing tutorial.    It is a small lap throw about 45" by 60".  
   So 2 + to quilt and finish.  No UFOs hanging around here.  The design wall is bare.   Nature abhors a vacuum,  and that means I will be putting something up there soon. 
   Hint:  It could be time to pull out the gridded interfacing.
 Happy New Year and happy stitching.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bring on the new year!

  2011 in review......I began doing journal quilts to explore new techniques, I tried a few small landscapes, and tackled curves, and fell in love the the easy bargello technique.  I made a graduation quilt and one for a wedding gift, and found my comfort zone for machine applique.  Wow, 2011 was a great adventure and I proclaim it the year of exploration for me.  Why did I wait so long to try some of these things? 
Free My Spirit:batiks and curves;  bargello;  Higher Hope: scrap braid: art project and a landscape
Vertical strip quilt;  Cobblestone Lane: batik scraps; landscapes; 
Heads Up: watercolor with applique; graduation quilt
String me Along: scraps and applique; Coming and Going: watercolor art quilt; 
English Window: watercolor;
art projects;  Summer of Love: scrap quilt a la Bonnie Hunter; My bargello

   I don't do resolutions.  I won't stick to them.  I know that much about myself.  Instead, I review  my insights from the last year and hopefully learn a thing or two.  From 2011, my best insights to me.....
  •  Be inspired to find your own way.
  •  Step back and look at things a second time. They just might look different a few days later. If not, leave it on the design board or find the trash can.
  •   Give a UFO a face lift, or  a re-do.  
  •   Free motion quilting is like a signature.
  •  Not every thing turns out the way it was begun. Live with it and learn. A good life lesson in this small project.
  • Fabric is expensive. Leftover blocks and strings = $. Find a reason or way to use them. Somehow... that means I saved money!
  •  Some things are to be enjoyed from a distance. The true worth and beauty lies beneath the surface. So stitch some Heart into your quilts and don't take things too seriously.
  •  Seeing someone I love snuggled under a quilt I made for them, just priceless.
  •  Exercise the body, relax the mind, release creativity!
  •  If you see a need in your community, step up and offer to help. When others ask for help, lend a hand. And when you need help, ask for it. You might find that Mrs. Claus lives near you.
 2012 FMQ Challenge Badge copy So what's in store for next year?   I have gone through my inspiration and ideas files from magazines---and added a few more pages.  I ran across things that I set aside to work on for this next year.  I put these into a separate folder to keep by my work area just in case I need motivation.  I am also renewing the process pledge to myself and to you to share how and what I do.  
  •  I signed up for the Free Motion Challenge at Sewcalgal .  12 different each month to share their at your own pace.  I need to get some practice batts together.
  • More color talk on the way.  I am working on a guest post on chosing a color scheme.  Wish me luck with this one.
  • Watercolor wall hangings......I have a couple of ideas to explore, and several new packs of fusible intrfacing to work with.  Now if I can just find a bit more wall space to hang them on.
  • At least one scrap quilt I have promised to make.  I have an inspiration...and lots of new fabric.
  • T-shirt quilts.....Justin left me 2 huge piles of  T- shirts to work!
  • Doll quilts....of course.  One for every project I complete.
  • Ideas and a list made for gifts for next year.  
I think that's enough to get me rolling.  So, what do you have planned?
Happy stitching.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A memory gift.....

    Do you know your love language?   A love language is what speaks the loudest to you and tells you that you are loved.  Some people need actual gifts, others need words of affection, or touch.    Mine is the gift of  quality  time and service, and that is the type of gifts  I prefer to give as well.  Guess that explains why I love to give quilts as gifts, and see Christmas dinner---lots of time and service there---as a gift to my family.
   So Sir Old Man and I came up with the idea of giving a special memory to Remy for Christmas.  He has a few small things to tear open, but we hope this one is what he will remember.  Remy loves to play with tools....drills and hammers, and we thought about a toy tool bench.  But plastic tools just don't hit the mark when you have Mom's cordless drill to figure out, and see all Dad's big tools.  But, what if you got to actually build  something and hold the drill and set in the screws, and actually work in the wood shop?  Now, this has possibilities, don't you think?
  The wood pieces are cut, the holes are pre-drilled, and Uncle Russ, his Dad, and big brother  will be the mentors in the shop.  I made up a picture card to go with the wood pieces.
  The afterward:    Unfortunately I am having trouble loading the photos  of Remy with the drill....just take my work for it, he put in all 16 screws and smeared/spread the glue in all the joints.   So much fun to watch his concentration as he worked.  I think the adults enjoyed it more than he did.....that's OK by me.!
I did manage to get 2 photos added.....see the intense concentration and hard work!

   So after all the gifts were opened, and the wrappings cleaned up, and dinner was shared,  I took a few moments to watch all my loved ones interact yesterday.  The moments that took my breath away.....that I will hold so close to my heart.
      Peter and Trey touching the blocks that their mother made which I turned into quilts for them.  I barely held back the tears as I watched.
      Deana hugging her yarn....."Strawberry Shortcake"  dyed sock yarn and then watching Trey be the yarn tree as she wound it into a ball later.
       My brother and Russ cleaning up the kitchen and washing dishes.  A wonderful gift to me!
       Peter on the floor with Natalie as she learned to string the beads and make jewelry with them.
       Remy in Justin's lap playing Wi......Cars racing game.
       Jen figuring out......"You make all this food so they can take home leftovers."
Nothing like a family day to make you realize what matters the most in life.  The time we share together.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Location, location

  Yesterday we cleaned, and cleaned, and then I tackled the sewing room.  Disarray is not a strong enough word, it was a disaster zone.  Books and fabric, batting scraps and fusing scraps......enough already. I want to start off the new year with an organized area, so I don't spend --make that waste---time looking for something I need.  I need the energy for creativity.
Now all the books, magazines, sketch books, and printed patterns and ideas are in one location.  That means you won't be tripping over a stack of  books on the way to the stash closet.

I moved the small stand with the thread all the thread is in one location, and by the machine where it is used.  That makes more sense than having to trip over the stack of books to find the right bin on a shelf.
I am sensing a pattern here.....location, location, location.  Works in real estate, I think it's a good idea for the sewing room.

    Then there was the stash closet that I re-did last spring.  It really just needed a bit of straightening up.    I tried the "push on the walls" to break free---like in the TV commercial.  Take my word, it doesn't work like that in the real world, so I used a crowbar to wedge in the new fabric I bought. 

   But there was a serendipity.....I found a really neat piece of  fabric that I had acquired for free.  Not cotton, but a challis print.  I love the swirly, loopy print.  It is a great inspiration print for quilting.  I think I will keep a piece handy and practice sketching it.
  Anyway, I had another sort of inspiration too.   I turned it into a 15 minute project for a "me" gift.  A long drapey scarf with bias ends.  I cut a piece about 72" long and 18" wide, folded it in half, cut the ends on an angle, stitched, turned, pressed and stitched the edges.  Done!
  My family begins to arrive tomorrow, and I will be baking apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake.  I am right on schedule.....happy stitching.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Waste not project

  Bigger than a mug rug, and smaller than a place mat.....maybe a snack rug?  By any name, I think these turned out cute.  Just using up scraps and a few saved motifs for applique---fused of course---for a waste not project.

These should be perfect for the dancing reindeer and cardinal.  I need to start earlier this next year and make sets of these for gifts.
Happy stitching.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hoping for a better cut

   It was time.  The old mat died, or at least I proclaimed it dead.  I've always used the Olfa green mat, you know the stinky, smelly ones, that need to air out for about 6 weeks before you can stand to use them.  The large 24" by 36" has been used and abused, I guess, for too long.   It quit "self-healing" a few years ago, and developed some flaked and chipped spots --on both side--that I tried to avoid.  It put many a ding in the rotary cutter blades.  I thought these things lasted a life time, and it was only about 20 years old.  Then it literally cracked---yes, a long 3 inch crack appeared. 
    So a little research and ......
  This is the mat I chose....Gingher cutting mat  .   I waited till I had a 50% off coupon, and thought it was a good deal.   It is least 3 times as thick as the old one.  And lots of line, angles, and shaded grids to help with squaring up.  The other side is a different color blues.  I use the lines for fabric and ruler placement...not for the accurate cutting.  I like the grids for a quick eyeball on keeping things square.  And maybe my blades will last a while longer now.....they now slice thru fabric like butter.
  So if you need a new mat,  or have a gift card, or just deserve an improvement....consider this mat.  The old mat is being relegated to a paint/stain/glue whatever work area cover up.  I couldn't find a decent size area to salvage for a small mat....just too many flaking areas.  Yes, it was time for a better cutting surface.
Happy stitching.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Yeasty aromas

  Fabulous aromas filled the kitchen yesterday as I pulled the cheese filled bread from the ovens.  I love that yeasty smell of fresh bread.  I wrapped some for the neighbors and then filled the freezer with the rest for next week---and one especially for nephew, Justin.  He does love bread.
  I used my basic herb bread recipe for the bread machine.  I make the dough in the machine---or rather the machine does it for me---then I divide the dough, pat it out and fill with a cheese blend and roll it up for the pans.  This year I used cheddar and Gouda. 

  The last item is crossed off the list---so I can breathe easier now.  That gives me a couple of days to sew a bit and get that fabric washed up and put away  before the family begins to arrive.   Today is a veteran's pinning and recognition ceremony at the nursing home where Russ' Dad is.  We pulled out his old photo albums of  WWII to take to share.  I hope he is having a good day and will enjoy it. 

  I created a flickr group  for Get Your Mrs Claus On photos .  I have a few photos up and will be adding to it.  Feel free to add your own photo of your doll quilt to it.   Those quilting angels at HGTV quilting forum are on a big roll already.  Every state is taken on their list!  And I heard the first one is on its awesome. 
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I must have been good because

...because the birthday angels arrived with  sewing items in tow.    There's so much fabric here, that I think I should put it under the tree and pretend I didn't open it!  OK, I didn't need it, but it was on sale and the colors are glorious and the prints were fabulous.....I am making excuses for the excess.  I did sew up a lot of strip scraps I can make more.  Thank you fabric angel!

  And the woodworking angel did not forget me either.  I got thread spindles!  Do you think he was inspired by the knitter?  Or maybe he was just tired of hearing me fume when the large cone would not fit on my machine, and sitting on the table it would dance its way off onto the floor.  I had tried the tall plastic spool holder----a total waste of $----because they are too light weight and flimsy. The cones are too large for a mug or jar, so I was forever complaining.  I do believe he solved my problem.  

 HGTV Quilting Forum  update.....all but 2 states are committed to for the doll quilts for 2012!  What a very special gift today to read that.  One third of the project is covered before the new year starts.  I finished up one top yesterday while sewing strips and strings for a coin quilt.  So I know I have 51!  Thank you, quilting angels at HGTV Forum.
  The bread is rising and I need to grate the cheeses....happy stitching.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Batches of cookies and a treasure

Seven batches of cookies fresh from the oven.  Oatmeal and fruit bars instead of fruit cake....which no one would eat, except Sir Old man and me.  The sugar cookies are our knitter's favorite.
Both of these ornaments were from Deana.....the dove she made in kindergarten when she as probably 4 or 5.  The knitted stocking she gave me a couple of years ago.  But the ornament that takes front and center every year on the tree, and the one she wishes I would lose is........
I have ornaments on the tree that are costly, hand blown glass, hand carved, and very beautiful.  But the humble one, simply made of felt,  grabs my heart every time.   Thank you, we love you. 
   Insight:  The dearest things in life are the simplest ones from the heart. 

I'm not always so sappy, sometimes I turn into the grinch during the holidays...especially when it is time to pull out all the "stuff".   I was so glad to realize someone gets this way too,  so if you missed this post at Butterfly quilting, go read it.  I needed to laugh at myself over this.
Tomorrow is bread baking day.  I'm off to the sewing room for a couple of hours to tame some scraps and start on strips for a coin quilt.  Happy stitching.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

3, 2, 1....and 50?

No peeking, if you are family...I mean it.

Three carved Santas.  Discovered  at the bottom of the greenery box and not seen in a few years.  I feel like they are new.

Two finished gifts, labeled and bound.  Salvaged blocks are finished for son in law and his brother. 

And a completed prototype......a yarn spindle. 
  Sir Old Man has been busy on his list of  projects and this one is almost finished.    It is a 2 piece spindle--for the knitter in our life--- that turns as you pull the yarn from the skein.  I tested it out and it works great.  The top portion spins smoothly and the base is weighty enough to not tip over. 
  This week is baking time.....cookies, and breads.  And just maybe I will get the sewing room floor uncovered between batches of cookies.  What am I going to do with all these strings and scraps?  Probably a doll quilt or two!   Over at the HGTV Qulting Forum, I heard that Mrs. Santa from Texas has begun organizing a plan for next year's Get Your Mrs. Claus On already.  Their goal is to have a doll quilt from every state  to donate!   That's the 50!   What an amazing group they are. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

FMQ Swirls

   More comments and questions on the swirls.  From an email this week....... Nicki wrote.... "I just wanted to show you a pic of my first attempt at free motion swirls. WOW, it looked a lot better on paper than it does on the fabric... :)  I still have stippling in my head when I'm doing this so this is going to take practice, practice, practice. The back side had TONS of those little "eyelashes" all over it. I'm not sure what to do to correct those......."
   She prompted me to really give some details on this FMQ of swirls.  First, eye-lashing is usually from moving the fabric too fast.  The bobbin thread is pulled too tight and thus pulls the top thread to the back and  the curves have "eyelashes".   How to correct this:  Slow down.  Slow down your machine speed and slow down the movement of the hands and the fabric.  You don't have to creep or crawl along, but just going wide open, pedal to the metal is not working here.  An explanation from Leah Day at 365 Days of Quilting ---she controls her speed of the machine by using a light touch and "feathering" her pedal.  At some points she speeds up and at others she goes slower. 

   A slower and steady movement of the fabric equals better control.  Practice is the only way to achieve pain, no gain....practice.  I use music when I FMQ to keep a steady rhythm.
   Start on paper.  Try to copy this design to practice. This is a design from Wendy at Ivory Spring.....she's a amazing fmq expert!  Pay attention to your hand movements, and note where you naturally pause and when you move faster.  That's the hint for how to stitch the pattern.  Like driving----slow in the curves, and more speed on the straight way!
   I'm not the total guru, but I think I've figured this pattern out.   You will still find that my stitches are not always perfect, but I try to be consistent.  Sometimes I don't get a perfect curl, just keep going because it's a big quilt.  And the quilt police or detectives are shot  poked with a long needle   escorted out the door  on sight!

  Here's my Step by step guide:
  1. Begin with a curl that is at least a 3/4 circle  that almost closes.
  2.  Pause to create a good point before you circle back.
  3.  Gradually increase your width and spacing as you curl back around to create the first swirl.  Note that your return curve should bring you back in line or close to the tip or point of the curl---like the large swirl at the bottom of the page.   
  4.  Then create a curl in the opposite direction.
 The deeper  tighter center in the curls really look the best.

That will give you a  fleur-di-lis effect that is the basis of this open FMQ design.  I enlarged my photo to really show this part of the pattern. (And you can see the curls are not perfect!)  The spacing on here looks huge, but really the area between stitching is 3/4" to an inch at the widest section of the swirl. 
    Add swirls--single and in pairs--in different directions.  Throw in an "s-curl"  for interest and to change direction.  I use  the curved line that looks like a scallop  to move to a new area.  I had worked myself into a corner and needed a way out----so a curved line moved me out into the open.  
   Now you know my secrets.  And in 2012 you will have a chance to learn  from the real experts through the Free Motion Challenge at Sewcalgal .  Check out what will be happening soon.

   Happy stitching.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Deliveries to be made

    Toys on display tonight at the Christmas Dinner for the Greenville Woodworkers Guild. 
   And the little guy in the sleigh matches the quilt he is displayed on!
  These are a great sampling of the trucks and cars that the elves made this year.  

Big trucks, and fast cars with speed stripes and daisies!  See the little gingerbread men on the side of the sleigh?   And the 2 cradles below.....the free hand painting was so beautiful.....are being delivered to A Child's Haven in the morning.  There will be some very bright eyes when they see these!

 There were lots of wonderful praises to all the Mrs. Clauses......Thank you, from all the elves. 
Freda, Mrs. Claus in NC                                     Kathy, Mrs. Claus in Ohio                
 Mary, Mrs. Claus in Texas                                 Dana, Mrs. Claus in Florida          
Nancy, Mrs. Claus in California                         Bea, Mrs. Claus in France              
Michele,Mrs. Claus in Canada                           Andrea, Mrs. Claus in Ohio                  
 Sandra, Mrs. Claus in  California                     Claire, Mrs. Claus in New Hampshire
Theresa, Mrs. Claus in California                      Cheree, Mrs. Claus in Kansas
Nicki, Mrs. Claus in Texas                                 Sio, Mrs. Claus in Georgia
Kathy, Mrs. Claus in North Carolina                 Janet, Mrs. Claus in Utah
Sandy, Mrs. Claus in South Carolina                 Ann, Mrs. Claus in South Carolina
Valerie, Mrs. Claus in  New Jersey                    Beth, Mrs. Claus in Tennessee
Teresa, Mrs. Claus in Indiana

   I could not have done it without your help.  Merry Christmas to all.  And to all a good night.
I am tired.....happy stitching.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Crossing things off the list

I'm a list maker.  I need to have a list in front of me to get things done...1.  so I don't forget and have one of those awful senior moments and walk in circles  2.  because I love the sense of accomplishment when I can cross something off!
  •   I get to cross off small gifts for 6 people......that leaves 4 more to do.  I can get that done. 
  •   Cheese ball and bread made for Production Team party tonight.....cross that off.
  •   Tree up and decorated......tree is up but not decorated.  No check mark there yet.  Tomorrow for sure.
  •    Mrs. Claus project.....doll quilts delivered to guild, emails sent to Mrs. Clauses everywhere.  Mark it done!....the Christmas dinner is Monday night, so look for the final photos on Tuesday, I hope.
  •  Finish the 2 lap quilts for gifts....they are quilted and just need to be bound and labeled.  I will finish them!   Can't show the fronts, but here is one of the backs.  I really worked on the swirls on them.  Try as I might, I can't get my swirls to look like the ones that Wendy at Ivory Spring does.  I decided to just concentrate on the spacing and keeping it more open and even.

  Insight Free motion quilting is like a signature.  My vines, leaves, or swirls are an expression of how my brain speaks through my hands to the fabric and  thread.   I've never been able to follow a drawn line, so how can I expect to duplicate someone else's pattern!   So take heart if you are learning to free motion quilt.....find a pattern, practice on paper, then practice on fabric until you make it your own. 
   One final you applique?  I won this pattern and package of applique needles and want to pass it on to someone who will put them to good use.  Leave me a comment about your last applique project,  must be a follower, and December 4th at 5 pm.  I will pick someone to send this to. 
  Back to the list....happy stitching. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...