Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Face lift!

I decided to tackle the UFO from last September that I was "gifted" with....remember this?   The Scarlet Pimpernel had taken a workshop for an under the sea scene with hand painted fabric and  lots of fusing.  She hated it and gifted me with it to finish. 
   So 9 months later, I looked at it.  The colors are beautiful, but the layout of the stuff...well, how do I put this nicely?  Yuck, maybe?   Ok, it wasn't going back to the design wall, so the choice was trash can or face lift.  I began to remove the little mushroom things at the bottom.  Then the woven weed looking thing came off, too.  I left on one of the little jelly fish at the top, and re-arranged the elements I would keep.  .

 Next I added a bunch of things from my stash
Rocks, a few fish, some corals, couched cording, and a couple of thread painted things....I call it a face lift.  Now the colors pop, and  there is an overall balance.  I'll get it bound and ready to return to SP at guild meeting next month.  Won't she be surprised!

Insight:  Give a UFO a face lift, or  a re-do.  If it is still not what you want, give it away or find the trash can.   Just don't stick in in the closet!
   I am still getting emails about the String Me Along quilt.  It is up on the wall and is not going anywhere.  And yes, I will do a table runner soon and provide measurements and details.  So glad everyone enjoyed it.

Happy stitching.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In the mail...

Look what I got.....Isn't the fabric beautiful!  It is hand dyed by Vicki at  3creativestudios.    And the Lapel Stick was a give away I won also.  It is a new product that is washable and doesn't gum up the machine needle.  Wish I had had it for all that applique I just finished.  And  Amy at Amys creative side is doing a giveaway for 2 Lapel Sticks this week.  So hop over and enter.

And a tip for those with design walls.
  Sometimes you need to pin applique or etc. to the block on the design wall.  I was forever running across the room for pins, or removing the pins  and sticking them in the wall just anywhere....usually in the way.
  Finally, I wised up after the last quilt with all the applique and pinned a small pin cushion to the design wall. 

A small strip of fabric is safety pinned to the bottom of the pin cushion.  Then I used a large T-pin through the fabric to secure it to  the design wall.
A place for everything, and everything in it's place.
 Happy stitching,

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One of those days

One of those days when you spill your first cup of coffee,  and the laundry needs to be done again, and your head is not in it!  For sure, this is not my most creative day, but then I could use a good laugh at myself.
   An unfinished journal quilt has been on the design for a few weeks.  It was to be a random piecing of scraps in just neutral tones for a background of thread painting.  The background got pieced, but I didn't like it.  I just tacked it up and tried another.  Fast forward to today......when I glanced at it today, I saw something in it that I had not seen before.   It looked like a wonky pieced house--upside down.  I turned it around and saw the wonky house, a door, window, etc.  How did I manage to do that?
   It still needed something.   Couching is the technique of the month  for the Journal Quilt Challenge.   How about a tree?   I used a narrow zigzag over loosely twisted strands of yarn from bouillon fringe.   Snip at the top of the fringe and let the double strand unwind a bit.  I begin to stitch over the strands, letting them find their own place but keeping a twist to them.  I created the branches by splitting the stands into 2 clumps and sewing them in different directions. 
  Now I know the tree looks got hit by lightning maybe, like the one at my brother's house that fell this week!   But it seemed to fit here.

InsightStep 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. 
Happy stitching,

Friday, June 24, 2011

String Me Along the garden

   It is a beautiful morning, after  the stormy week of rain and hail and winds.  We have shade sails off the back porch and we have rushed to take them down at least 4 times this week.   Anyway, this morning seemed  just perfect to try a few outdoor photos.  I'm trying to improve, so bear with me.  
   How great is this shot?  The day lily on the quilt and the one in the garden....together. 


And detail of the lady bug on the leaf,  a hummingbird, and the turtle who has made a home in our garden. 

Then a look at the back......with some of the left over string strips.  I had to piece together the backing anyway, so it was easy to insert the left over strings. 

I need to add a sleeve because this one is going up on the wall  for a while in the sun room.

Hope you enjoyed my garden quilt.
 Happy stitching.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

String Me Along---almost the end

Trailing vines of leaves for the border quilting from the back side of the quilt......I really liked this pattern for border quilting.  It was so easy to connect to the next leaf and change direction.

Here's a partial shot from the front, but you can get an idea of the border quilting.   One leaf leads to another.  Some have  short "veins" stitched  in and others have a long middle veins----the trick that I used to move in another direction with a new leaf.  And unusual for me----no loops or swirls in the border. 

I have to stitch down the binding.   So it may be a couple days before I get to take a finished  photo.   And I want to make a table runner in this style, too.  I do believe I have enough scraps to do that.

Happy first day of Summer.....and happy stitching.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Journal quilt..thread sketching

New technique!  Terri has a tutorial on her
thread sketching technique that I have been wanting to try.  So here's my first attempt at a thread sketched journal quilt.  
  I used a sketch from my sketchbook of a simple bird outline--few details.  Scraps were strip pieced together for the background.  I followed her directions for the thread sketching and used a brown thread to stitch the outline and letters.
   I should have taken a "before coloring"  photo.   The pieced background was done with a light purple, and one yellow-gold  fabric.....all the other fabrics were white!    I used Prismacolor pencils (purple, blue, and yellow)  to color, and blend it all together.   I love the effect of the colored pencils.  Before coloring, it was so boring.   Now it is too cute and I plan on hanging it up in the sewing room.   
  My thread sketching needs a good bit of practice---especially on the letters, but I know I will be trying this one again.

I want to pass along what Wanda discovered
 and shared about the problem with Blogger comments.
I changed the settings here for comments to the pop up box last week when she emailed me.    It sure seems to work.  Thanks, Wanda. 
Happy stitching,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

FMQ on String Me Along

I got a good start  on the quilting.  I did an outline stitch around each flower, stem and leaves.  Then the background in filled in with meandering loops because I love the puckered look you get when it is washed.  The flowers will stand out from the background just enough, I think. 
  But what to do on the borders?  I get questions about how I plan the quilting.  So here's my thought process........I plan on just a straight stitch along and around the  string pieced sections, but then there is the outer border to quilt.   So I did a couple of pages of pencil practice.  The first is a braid of pointed leaves.   By the third row I had the spacing about right and pretty even.    I like this design a lot...yet I think it is just a bit angular  and dense for what I want on this quilt.

  Second practice was a chain of  trailing leaves.....this design is more open and it will be easy to turn a corner using this pattern.  I can create a clump of leaves and curve the  line very easily, also.  Yep,  this is the design I am in favor of using right now.   
  Final decision will be made when I get to that point.  I will draw out a section of quilting onto a clear acrylic sheet to overlay the border.  It helps me visualize what the stitching will look like. 

OH, wow.... I just checked the newsletter from 3creative studios and I won the pack of fat quarters for the month of June for the journal quilts!!!   And Vicki Welch has included a tutorial on her thread sketching in the newsletter.  Can't wait to try her technique. 
Ok, off to Charlotte tomorrow.
   Happy stitching.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Early morning inspiration

      First let me explain the reference to DH as Sir Old Man.  What do you give a guy when he turns 65, who  has every tool--big and small--that he needs, and who has a  designer daughter that takes him shopping and keeps him well dressed?  Exactly my position this week.   A sign hangs over his shop that reads  "the old man's garage" and that gave me the idea  to grant him a title befitting him  of  "Sir Old Man".  He can now say he is a titled Englishman. :)
     This morning the weather was perfect, cool and a slight breeze.  So coffee and scissors in hand, I went out to enjoy the garden and cut some rosemary for bread.   And I went right back in for the camera.   The callas are blooming....I love the shape and color and the leaves are striking.


  The purple cone flowers are in full bloom too.  The petals droop and look like a draped skirt on some of them.  This clump was unexpected....the finches must have sown the seeds for me. 

When I got to the bottom of the hill and looked back, I found a wonderful clump of day lilies.  Their strapping leaves over hanging the rough stone wall have a strong  contrast in texture and value.  So short lived--only for a day--- that I think they deserve to become a wall hanging.   I started taking photos of all the different day lilies in the yard.  

   I will do a couple of sketches, as  I  have a real strong visual in my head.  Hope I can translate it to fabric. 
Now, I better go cut the rosemary---if I can find the snips.
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stash or Collection?

  Our speaker at guild last night commented that she had a stash---fabric to be used--- not a collection---fabric to be passed on--- and  that struck me as a good one to remember.   Especially since I had get DH or Sir Old Man to drag in more shelves for the stash closet.  I promptly filled them up with mini bolts that had been stacked on the floor and those pesky boxes of strips.  The stacks are off the floor for now, but it does make tight quarters in the closet.  I need to put the needle down and get to sewing!   

    As I started quilting on  String Me Along---photo before quilting,  I kept thinking that it would be a good design for a table runner.    Very adaptable for size and length by just adding a block and some pieced strips.  And maybe featuring just thread painted motifs from a fabric I "re-discovered" in the stack on the floor.  Guess I've just added a future project to the list!
  I've got to clean house today as Ryan, step-son, is coming to visit a few days and we are heading to Charlotte on Friday;  deliver snacks to church for camp; catch up on laundry; and maybe get a few minutes to quilt, I hope. 
   Happy you have a stash or collection?  Just asking.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Road trip

We decided to do a day trip to Landrum for a quilt show.  Here are a  few of my favorites.....this was was bright and cheerful.  I liked the use of leftovers for the border, too. 

A different star set on point and mixed with a scrappy chain block.  The colors were great against the warm beige for an old fashion look. 

  This was done in civil war amazing collection of them.  The piecing was absolutely wonderful on this one.  I am not sure of the pattern, but it appears to be done in hexagon shape.  Just really great quilt.

What an unusual setting for this small quilt---with leaves on 2 sides of the bargello.  It definitely spoke to me.

The cranes in this art quilt were so striking.  It is all machine appliqued with raw edges.  Lots of layers of fabric and great shading.

This was so special......a small quilt of postcards sent to parents from a daughter as she traveled the world.  The quilter's detail was outstanding. 

  One more to share.  Mountains created from bargello strips.....from a Georgia Bonesteel class.  The grand lady of  lap quilting was there as the featured quilter, and co-founder of the Landrum guild.  It was special to get to talk to her as she was a huge influence on me when I began quilting in the early 1980's. 
    We ate a late lunch at The Hare and Hound Pub in town and walked the small downtown area.  Neat shops that we will have to browse on another trip. 
    Home and finally some nice to see the bird bath and the falls full again.  The frogs gave us a very loud serenade in the evening.  They were loving it apparently.   So no sewing for a  couple days.....I am ready to begin quilting on the String Me Along. Yay!
Happy stitching.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cosmos--Journal quilt challenge

It was time for some a journal quilt it is.  I decided to try the raw edge collage technique that so many use in the journal challenge.  So here is my version.
  I started with  of a sketch of a cosmos, since they are just coming into bloom.  I love the way they stand so tall on those delicate stems with fine leaves.
  I used freezer paper to create pattern templates for the petals.   I like the freezer paper as templates because it allows me to work on the right side of the fabric instead of the reverse.  Working from the back in reverse hurts my brain----so when I can avoid that, I do. 
  I applied Misty Fuse to the batting, which was cut to size--9" by 12".   I began filling in the background with green scraps, working my way down the sides.  The flower pieces were placed to just overlap the background.  Misty Fuse is slightly tacky and hold the loose pieces in place as you work on placement.  Then once the design is all filled in, you fuse it all at once. 
  Then stitch, stitch, stitch.  Since all the edges are loose, I was careful to try and cover as many of them as possible with close stitches.  I did the cosmos first covering the edges with tiny loops and circles.  Then I  added some thread painting for shading and did the center, too.  All of the flower was stitched before adding the backing.  Then the quilting on the background was done after backing.  Binding is fused 1" strips that I stitched down with a decorative loop stitch. 
  New technique, used scraps, did thread painting.....journal quilt done!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Making progress

I'm making some progress on all the flower blocks for String Me Along.   I ran out of stitch and tear stabilizer, so I resorted to using blank  newsprint  from an old doodle pad.  Works fine when appliqueing, just dulls the needle faster.   I pinned up a few blocks on the design wall  of the blocks I completed.

Each one seems to have its own personality....I love that.   Sassy, silent, bold, and gentle.  Anyway, this won't be the final layout, but it gives me an idea of the general look.   I am really enjoying working on this one a lot.
   Answer to a question I got  about the applique.  It is by machine using a zig-zag stitch for the leaves and flowers.  I set the width of the stitch to about 1.6 and length to 1.3 --generally.  In certain spots where the flowers are small, I will reduce the length to 1.2 or so and the length down to .9 or so.   All this is technical and really just trial and error to see what works and look best to me.   I am not using a true satin stitch setting because  I didn't want the "ridge" from that close stitch.  On a few of the leaves, I did use a decorative feather stitch.  Veins on the leaves were done using either a tiny zig-zag or a stem stitch.  Experiment with the decorative stitches on your machine to see what you like.   
  Thread-----lots of different ones.  Some Isacord, Sulky, Mettler Polysheen, and YLI soft touch.  It really just depends on what color I have  that matched.  Most of the thread I used on this applique does have a sheen to them, and I like how it looks. 
  I have a couple more blocks to finish up and then I get to re-arrange and layout the final design.  Wow, this really went faster than I thought.  And I still have 3 boxes of scrap strips in 2 " and 2 1/2".......and I think I am tired of them.  So if anyone is interested in an envelope stuffed with my leftovers, send me an email with your address.
Happy stitching.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The heat is on

The heat is on, and no rain in sight.  The garden perennials are loving it.  I am not.  At 7:30 last night it was still 92 degrees out side.  But I saw these beauties out back.
I have never seen the lavender this huge.  The lavender spikes really create a beautiful crown behind day lilies and thread leaf coreopsis.

I love this color combination.

 Native brown eye susans against the lamb's ears.

First blooms of the cone  flowers.  I love the texture of the tiny sedum against the rocks.

   It has been six years since we moved to this house.  There was only one tree by the road.  Not a plant around the house, walk ways, or in the back.....  only brown mulch.   Over the course of 2 or 3 years, I realized I needed to use heat loving, sun loving,  multiplying varieties of perennials with the evergreens to get the cottage garden effect I love.   We spent countless hours digging, planting, composting, and mulching.    
My friend, Doreen, came up from Florida and helped plant and lay stones in the courtyard and by the garden shed.  She planted white daisies over Pookie's resting spot for me.  Other friends and neighbors have given us cast offs, cuttings and seedlings.  Each one is a treasure in my garden of memories. 
  Now you see where my inspiration comes for my quilts...especially the watercolor and garden theme quilts, as well as the scrap ones.  It might be the view, or the color contrast, or maybe the visual texture that sets me on a direction that I try to translate in fabric.  Sew to know me,  read my quilts.
Happy stitching.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Still making blocks

  I had a question from Wanda about curving the bias stems with the fused paper on the stem.  So to clarify that,  here's a photo of how I begin.  I remove a couple inches of the paper backing on the fusible.  I usually draw the basic curve  line in chalk before I begin.....otherwise all my stems will curve the same general direction.  I guess it is just the way my hand and mind work.    I pin the end in place and gently stretch the bias in a curve and press with the tip of my iron as I go.  The fusible holds just enough to keep the shape in place, and if I want to change it (or add a second stem), I can easily peel it off the background. 

I love this one...very sassy attitude.  Wish I had those kind of curves!   To finish off the small curved stem, I added a small circle like a "bud" at the end of the stem---rather than try to tuck it under.

This is one where  I added a second stem.  And added a bit of whimsy to it.  The blooms and leaves are fused also and stitched around the edge with a  zig-zag stitch.   I used a stem stitch to create the vein on the leaves on this one. 
    And, yes, I know I have different types of flowers growing on the same stem----my husband pointed out my error.  Big Smile from me ;).
That is what makes it fun.
Happy stitching.

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