Monday, January 31, 2011

Ode to denim Journal #5

Humble has been frayed, bleached, stitched, labeled, ripped, embroidered and still we love it.  I remember adding daisy appliques to my jeans in the 60"s, adding trim to jeans for Deana to make them longer when she grew so fast, and patching rips too. 
   This is just a collage of odd bits and pieces I had collected and saved  to celebrate our love of denim.  New technique  for me on  the edge....just an uneven  satin stitch to finish it off.  It just seemed  the right fit for this one.

   In the process I ran across a box of  antique silk threads that I have from my "crazy quilt" stage.   Since my fingers don't allow me to do  much hand stitching anymore, this assortment is for sale.  The colors are beautiful, and they are raw silk mostly, and a few different weights. The hanks are not large either---maybe 4 yards or so.  So for $1 a yank or the entire box of 50 + of  them for $40.  Leave a comment  or email me through my profile if you are interested and we can work out the details.    I also have a large stash of perle cotton #8 and a few #5 in lots of colors......I will dig that out tomorrow as they need a good home. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Planning the quilting

        Not a very productive week so far......ear infection and vertigo = doctor visit + medication.    So in my down time, I am planning/drawing ideas to use for the quilting on the blended braid top that is ready to be quilted. 
      The black strips are strong in this quilt, and I want less focus on them.  So I will quilt them down using a close design---probably a loop and stipple. 
It is just a meandering stitch with a loop thrown in every so often to change direction.  I like the texture it creates and is great to "eat" up any fullness or stretch in the fabric.  By stitching the black sashings and border down/dense, the braids will move forward---or so I hope. 
      The braid strips are about 6 inches wide, so they will require some quilting.  I could use straight lines, or even wavy lines through each braid, stitch in the ditch.    But that sounds boring to me.    So here's a couple of pages  from my sketch book........
     I love doing swirls and curls and tear drops.   The teardrops on the right, I think are just too dense for the braid--even if I space them out in  a long run.   So I went to the swirls and curls.    I prefer the small curls and vine at the top-- near the pencil--for the center of each braid.  I can curve the line  and keep it open so it is not too dense. 

     So  the quilting design is planned.   Now  to pick the thread color.  On the black, that's isacord thread.    For everything else, I chose "cloud" isacord thread.  It's not a blue, or a grey, exactly but blends nicely with so many colors, especially turquoise and purple. 

  I sketched a couple more ideas for the journal quilts, so I have to put those into production when I get over this vertigo. Since they are so small, they don't take long.   And I am "craving"  a watercolor design....I don't know how else to express it!  I have been on this use up the strips tear for a month or so, and I have been ignoring my floral stash.    It's calling me...loud and clear.   I have a photo of a window box I saved for just this occasion.  Maybe next week.  Till then, happy stitching.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Journal Quilt #4

Journal Quilt Challenge #4:   Strip scraps, thread painting, and sketched idea....this one uses them all.  Inspiration was a few shells I picked up last spring at Daytona Beach--an old haunt from years ago--when Russ and I stopped on our way to Orlando. 
  The tiny shell I sketched from had a few bluish streaks and a lightly shaded blue area that I tried to capture with the thread painting.  I used 5 different colors of thread on this--base color is light tan, filled in with darker tan, dark blue, light blue and grey. 
  When I was piecing the beige and tan strips for the background, I spotted the dark blue swirled strip in the scrap box.  I added it for interest and contrast...and threw none of it away.   The small strips were added raw edge style.  And I tacked on a couple of sea shells, too. 
 And the odd shape....that's what I sketched for some reason.  Most likely it is because I can't draw a straight line.  It works for me and reminds me of the curved edge of the water on the sand. 
No binding on this one either....and I claimed to prefer binding on the edge?  It was just easier--lazy me--to do it envelope style then edge stitch where I could and quilt it.  I did put the corner triangles for hanging on the back before stitching the thing together.   I just avoided the upper corners when quilting. 
  InsightNecessity is the mother of invention----the odd contraption to use the thread on a bobbin.
                Odd shapes convey movement.   I need to use more curves.
     I am very glad I decided to jump into this challenge.....but I am running out of wall space!
 Happy stitching. 


Monday, January 24, 2011

A necessary contraption

   I thought I would work on some thread painting today, but my machine doesn't have a horizontal spool adaptor.  And of course, the thread color I wanted to use would not feed off correctly in the vertical  position.  It was one of the spools of embroidery thread I got last October at the quilter's yard sale.  So.......after a few attempts, I came up with this necessary contraption!
   LOL....laugh all you want but it worked!  That's all I cared about, but thought I would share it anyway.  I filled an empty bobbin with the thread I wanted to use.  The bobbin sits on top of an empty spool--luckily I had saved it.  And the empty spool sits on top of another spool.  And the small stick you see poking out the a bamboo skewer!  I needed the skewer to be a spindle for the bobbin.   I just poked it through both of the spools on the bottom and left just enough sticking out to hold the bobbin.
  I got the thread painting done, even if I can't get a patent on the contraption.  Happy stitching.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Playing with EQ7

I've been trying to find my way around EQ7 that I got for my birthday.  There are so many tutorials included....a lot to learn/re-learn.  Anyway, I worked on a bargello style and came up with this design.  I used half drop blocks on every other row, like the Eleanor Burns technique for a Trip Around the World.  That way the bulk of intersecting seams would be less and a whole lot less matching.  I am not sure of the color combo, so I will play around some more with that, too.  The fabric swap tool makes that easy. 
  No mater what color way  I choose, I will have to have a swatch card and cutting guide for something like this.  So I created a swatch card and cutting guide  (click for the pdf version) to have for this and future projects.  The swatch card works great as "an paper brain" for any project with lots of different fabrics that need to be organized or identified.  The first time I used one was doing a TAW and then in a paper piecing class.  Now I use them all the time.    Must be showing my age to admit this!
  Tip:  From Jill at the quilt rat  a great tip on washing fabric. She had yards--meters-- to wash and wanted to avoid a tangled mess, so she accordian folded the yardage and basted across each end before washing.  Ta-da, no tangles.

  Ugh---more snow moving in.  Remember my threat:   I should be packing and heading to Florida---except I have Doctor's appointments this week---if I can get there.   Guess I will stick it out and see what happens.
Happy stitching,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Exploring Texture-- Journal quilt project

Texture....exactly what do I mean?  I know that  when I run my hand across a polished wood surface, it feels smooth, and a tree trunk is usually  rough and bumpy, and  my velour robe is soft.  So it seems I am referring to the tactile quality of the object.    The quilting stitches will produce texture, especially if the stitching is dense.  So my question was how else can I convey texture.   
   Fabric selection is one way to introduce texture.  And the fabric that came to mind was not a fabric I would select for a quilt.  But it already had texture stitched into is pin tucked and embroidered, and beautiful  aqua blue color.  I only had small pieces given to me by Deana, so I squared up some edges and sewed them together to get a big enough piece for the background.
   Second thought was contrast.  I needed to have something smooth to contrast with the background.   Flipping through my sketchbook, I found a drawing of a seashell--round, smooth, and shiny.  The seashell would be the smooth.  So I sketched out a larger one onto freezer paper to use for a pattern.  I pulled out my book of color and found a suggested palette for the aqua.   I  decided to take the plunge and use the colors suggested  selected fabrics some bright fabrics.  These are not colors I would have normally picked for this, but hey, it's a journal project.  So why not?     
   Then more texture.....
   I lightly fused the shell pieces to the background.  ( Lightly fused?   My cheater method for quick applique fusing---instead of fusing the entire piece I just use a small square or strip of the fusible on the back of each applique piece.  I only do this when I plan on satin stitching  to cover the edges. :)
I chose a shiny silver rayon thread for the satin stitching for the seashell.  I decided to trapunto the shell, so I stitched thru the 3 layers ---batting, background,  and applique.  And then I cut away the extra batting around the seashell at the stitching, leaving the batting behind the applique.    Then did some quilting lines and ended up adding some cording, like seaweed strands. 
   The tactile sense is smooth and rough and I talked about.  In the photo the visual sense of texture is not as strong.  But the colors-----I love them together.   I even think they add texture because I want to touch them. 

InsightUse the tools (books) I have.  I bought them for a reason---to learn from them.  Just like everything else in life,  live and learn!
So that's Journal Quilt Challenge #3.  I used  scraps, sketchbook ideas, but alas no thread painting this week.  So next week for sure....some thread painting.
Happy stitching,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Over and Under technique

  This may appear more complicated than it is. 
There are only 4 blocks to this Over and Under wall hanging/small quilt.  
  This was an on-line class from learningfa yahoo group.  You begin with a large square that you fold and slice into sections.  Then you reassemble it by inserting the color strips.  Next is a second set of slices and more strips to insert.  The instructions were excellent, or I would not have even attempted it. 
   I haven't joined the blocks  together yet because I can't decide on the center formation.  Depending on how you rotate the blocks, the color formation changes.  I also need to decide on the border---narrow, wide, or pieced.  So it will probably just hang around for a few days while I mull it over. 
    I spent sometime sketching ideas for the Journal Quilt Challenge.  I really am enjoying pushing myself to do this.  
Insight:   I have made a course correction in my purpose.  I am not sticking to a theme but rather want to focus on techniques.    That way at the end of the year----or when ever I stop/quit/move on----I will have a large collection for reference of ideas and different ways to achieve them.    That gives me the freedom to   "re-visit" a design I like and try it a different way, or use a different color combination.    No rules  to break, just techniques to try and learn.    So this week I am looking at texture.  I have some scraps from Deana that might just make an interesting background.  I'm off to dig them out of the scrap box.
Happy stitching,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fiddle-de-dee--journal challenge

Looking at the zentangle doodles in my sketch book, I realized that I had fabric that was full of this type of graphics.  So for this journal quilt challenge project,  I thought I would try zens in fabric. 

Here are the basic steps I used for this journal quilt project that I am calling Fiddle-de-dee.
Design drawn on paper...numbered each section ...then traced to freezer paper and cut out.
To the stash closet for fabrics.  I selected about a dozen black and white graphic style prints.  I cut a hunk and fused  heat and bond lite to the back of each.  Don't remove the paper backing yet. 
To the  front of the fabric I pressed the freezer paper pattern to the fabric.  By working from the front, I was able to pick and choose the placement to get the print of the graphic that I wanted.  Cut out each piece and removed the paper backing from the fused side. 

   I used two fabrics that I had dyed this summer for the background.  Well, actually, these 2 pieces were the "clean up rags", the ones I used to wipe out the containers when I finished dying.  Look close you can see some splotches.   Once I rinsed them out and let them dry, I was delighted with the colors!  I think that is called serendipity.  Anyway, the blue just wasn't big enough, so I added the minty green on 2 sides to get the size I needed. 
   I then fused all the pieces in order  to the background.   I decided to not use a binding on this, rather to finish it off envelope style.  I layered the batting on bottom with the backing face up and then the front, face down.  I stitched around all sides, leaving an opening on one side about 3-4 inches wide.  I trimmed the batting away from the seam line all the way around---very carefully.  Then the whole thing way turned inside out and pressed. 
   Stitch and quilt----I used a narrow zigzag stitch around all the fused pieces.  I wanted a black outline like  a drawing.    This whole thing was fun.  I could get hooked on doing this.
Check out the link to the Journal Quilt Challenge and view the projects on the flickr page.  They are really great.

A big thanks to Jill at the Quilt Rat for her inspiration.
Check out her blog and be inspired.

Unfortunately, I didn't use up stash strips as planned, I only created more!!  But, I did work from my sketchbook on this---one out of three on this one. 

Happy stitching,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow Day 5

Cabin fever is broken and I got chocolate.  I feel so much better.  We did slide down the hill on the way out, but after that the roads were pretty clear.  The front yard still looks like a skating rink...just thick ice over the layer of snow. 
   I am finishing up a second journal page for the challenge.  This one I really like.   I have been so inspired by Jill at Quilt Rat with her zentangles, and did my own "translation" of zens. 
I drew my design out late yesterday onto paper.  Then I traced it onto freezer paper and cut out the numbered pieces for patterns.  I'll post the final project tomorrow....start to finish.

  And before I forget........Happy Birthday to Remy,  who is two years old today.  Dressed in Uncle Russ' jacket, he is going to check the mail.  He looked like Yoda  from Star Wars.....only much cuter! 

Happy stitching,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 4 Cabin Fever

I am so over the "oh, snow is so pretty".  This is what we are dealing with on Day shards!  And everything is still covered.  No more snow, for me.  I may have to become a Florida snowbird next year.   Forgive my rant, as cabin fever has set in. 
   Tomorrow I am breaking out of here, and heading for groceries.....I need some chocolate!

Enough about some color?  
 I worked on an on-going, put aside project.....
the batik cobblestones.  I got  a stack them  pressed today and started trimming them to a couple of consistent sizes.   I love the way the batiks blend and the colors work together.  And these are from leftovers and scraps from projects.  I haven't cut strips from my stash at all for these, and the box is still about 1/2 of the box  full.  So I have lots more to put together. 
 Happy stitching.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Using up those strips

It's Day 3 after the big snow, and the sun finally is out.  How wonderful to see the brightness, and some melting.  I decided to take photos on the porch of the two I got quilted.  One is a smaller scrap basket weave and the 3-D Bow Tie.  You can tell how bright the sun is from these.   Just the bindings to add now.

I put together about 15 rows of strips yesterday from my scrap boxes.  I didn't have a design for the layout, just thought I would see what happened.  I had a lot more light and medium blues and greens than dark fabrics.  That surprised me. 
  Anyway, I sort of strung the lights and mediums together by value without being too selective  as I stitched.  Then I did the same for the darks and a few mediums.  Once I pressed the rows, they went up onto the design wall.  When I stepped back to see what I had to work with.....this is pretty much (I only switched two rows) what I had.  I actually like will make a perfect background for some sort of applique.  I think I can get a few more rows of mainly darks and medium from the scrap boxes.  Right now this is 60" long and 32" wide.
  Anyone else doing the journal quilt challenge?  I have been thinking about the one for next week.  I went through my sketch book looking for an inspiration.  I came up with 2.....playing with shadows and zentangles. 
Till then, happy stitching.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day 2

This is day 2---6 1/2 inches of snow with about 1/2" of ice on top! 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snowbound and quilting

Yep, the forecast was right....snow and lots of it.  The whole place is shut down  and what am I going to do?  Guild is cancelled for tonight and so I guess I will...... Quilt those projects!

I love the look of mosaics.  So this was just a fun experiment to see what I came up with.  Click here for the first post about this project.
Lots of stitching to finish up this one.  Quilting on the center portion was done by a simple outline around each piece.  I added the accent strip as suggested by Eileen before the purple border, which I quilted with "mctavishing" style  texture.  Good practice, and I am improving finally with this style. 

I had the 3-D bow tie quilt  pinned, so I put in some more practice on it.  I used different motifs of quilting in the center area created by the bow ties.  I practiced hearts, and leaves---stacked and packed together, and lots of swirly designs.    Here are just a couple of them.  I have lots of threads to hide and the binding to do yet. 

The snow is still coming down and  we are expecting sleet and freezing rain tonight.  It is going to be a very long week of this.   

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New challenge...Journal quilts

I ran across the 2011 Journal Quilt Challenge from 3creative studios---see the button on the side bar.  Since I enjoyed working through the Art Quilt Workbook last year, I decided to try this---- for a little while at least.  No rules, no pressure, just encouragement and inspiration.  A good way to try techniques and use up some of those multiplying strips.
  So I decided on a few guidelines for me.  First....use up strips and leftover blocks.  Second....more thread painting.  Third....Try different techniques using some of my sketch ideas.   
   OK, so here is what I created for this first one.    I found the three flying geese blocks pinned to a corner of the design wall.  They are leftovers from the AK quilt.  Since they were all in blue, I decided to stay monochromatic, which is my least favorite way to work.  I used up a few 2" strips to put them together---with no direction in mind because I am not sure where I am going with this!  It is still unbound until I run across some strips that I can use.  
And it says cold...icy cold and that's our forecast for this week with lots of snow predicted beginning tonight.  

Insight:   I need to push my limits and get out of my comfort zone.
It's a new year, time to try new things.
Happy stitching.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Revised tip and photo

I promised Carol a photo of  the end result when you use the folded triangles in the corners of a small quilt for hanging.   I used a 1/4" dowel that was cut to length for this and then the clip ring to hang it up.  As I was taking the photo, I had a light bulb moment.....if it works on the top, it would work on the bottom of wall hangings, too!  Sometimes you need just a little added weight to make a wall hanging stay flat---especially on longer banner style hangings, and the corner triangles are easier to add than a sleeve.

Revised Tip:   Cut 4 triangles 3" to 4" square.  Fold in half diagonally.  Place one in each corner of the wall hanging---aligning the raw edges.  Pin in place.  Attach binding as usual.     To hang, slip a dowel cut to length  to fit into the created pockets.

   I found a simple strippy idea  at Quiltville that I remembered---see the vertical example at the bottom of the post.  I am seriously trying to reduce the amount of 2 1/2" strips that I have accumulated.  So I went thru the 3 boxes of strips and pulled out all the blues and greens to put together using this idea.   Now I have a new night time sewing project. 
   Happy stitching,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Organization....what was I thinking?

    Last Spring I did a "re-do" on my fabric stash closet.  A very needed chore, and I have managed to keep it maintained.  So I mentioned that I was going to organize my mountain of paper---magazine tear outs and such.    Did I really think  that 4 portfolios would hold all  the saved tear outs and copies I had made of projects?   Needless to say,  the intent was good, but reality was overwhelming.  Do you know how many ways there are to make flying geese.....I found 5 different techniques in my stack of pages, and I really only use one.  Articles on blocks, piecing techniques, quilts of all sizes, small projects, art quilts, and just plain inspiration ones are now sorted---well, kind of sorted---into categories.  Some things are just hard to place. 

    The good news is I found of couple of very useful things.  One is a tip on facing a quilt edge rather than binding...especially good for curved and pointed edges.   My pattern for the thread catcher bag was unearthed.   I found a really great article on "multi-fabric" quilts---not just scrap quilts---that  is really a better description of what I like.  
    So my tip to share today is is for an alternative for a sleeve for small quilts, like the landscapes.   Cut 2 squares at 3" to 4".  Fold each square in half diagonally with the wrong sides together.  Place one folded triangle at the upper corner of the small quilt, matching the raw edges.  Baste or pin the place.  Then attach binding as you usually do.  When finished binding, insert a small dowel into the corner pockets created by the triangles for hanging.  Done!
  Off to finish binding the small landscapes----after I add corner triangles.
Happy stitching,

Monday, January 3, 2011

A finished braid top!

  Since the last post I finished adding the last 2 braid strips and did a "header and footer" small border. 
I had a lot of small pieces left from all the strips, so I decided to piece them together into 2  long bands.  Once the bands were long enough I trimmed each  to 3" wide.  To each  band I added a 2" strip of black to one side and then sewed the band to the quilt top.  One strip was added to the top--header-- and one strip to the bottom--footer.   
This photo is the bottom corner after the footer was added.

 The final border was a totally different black.  To both sides I added another 2" strip of black.   To the top and bottom I added a 3 1/2" strip of black.   Clear as mud????   I wanted the outer border all the way around to look equal, and because the sides were already banded with black I added a narrower strip. A photo will help......just ignore the fingers in the corners, please. 
  This ended up 60 " wide by 74" long, and goes into the "to be quilted" stack for now.  Maybe by the time I get it quilted I will come up with a name. 
  You would think that after this quilt top, the scrap boxes of strips would be fewer....Na-da, didn't happen.  I can't tell that I de-stashed at all!  If anything....they multiplied and had baby scraps.   So I am going to have to try something even easier and quicker to use some of them up.
I think I saw an idea for a quick strippy quilt at  I need to pay Bonnie a visit. 

  I picked up some vinyl portfolios with extra pages inside to use to organize all my tear-outs from magazines that I have accumulated.  Some pages are patterns, or layouts, or techniques I might use later on.  I need to get them into some semblance of order, so I can find them when I need them.   I used one several years ago for inspiration photos for watercolors,  I just need to do it for everything else. 
Happy stitching,
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