Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thread painting vignettes

I wanted to test out a couple of stabilizers to use with thread painting....I'm in that mode right now for something small.   By far my favorite is Totally Stable Solvy.  It is an iron on and tear away type, and for really small projects doesn't require hooping.  There is still a small amount of distortion from the concentration of thread, and that just seems to come with the technique. 
  Machine is set for free motion stitching with a #14 top stitch needle.  I like to use decorative threads with a sheen, like sulky or embroidery threads.  Go slow to avoid breaking and snapping the thread.
  I chose a couple of  pieces of sun dyed fabric to experiment on.   I lightly penciled in a few lines to get started.  The stabilizer was ironed to the back of the fabric.  No hoop, just hands.  Just be sure to keep the fabric flat against the bed and the machine and not loft it.
  First, I put in some green  straight stitches for arching stems and then began to lay in the color for the mound/rock.....whatever it is.  On the rock I used a zig zag stitch to put on the first layer of color.  I worked across the area keeping the stitched rows parallel to the base. 

Then I changed to a slightly darker thread color and began to fill in along the base and one side.
I am using a zig zag stitch....but I am moving side to side (not back and forth towards me). This type of motion will fill in quickly and blends well.

Extra green stems, darker grasses at the base, a few red buds....all free motion stitches either straight or zig zag.    Russ says it looks like an island in the sky. 

  One more...just for the season.  I began with a penciled in  shape, filled with base color, and then added extra colors and details.  I got very little distortion on this one.  The stabilizer tore away easily and left no residue. 
  I think I'll try a few more...just don't ask what I will do with these.....just practice for now.
Happy stitching.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Go With The Flow

  It's Blogger's Quilt Festival!  I did a mad dash to get this bound and finished up for today.

Just Go With The Flow

My adventure with this bargello style quilt began with the need for a gift for a wedding.  I was so pleased with the result that I wanted a similar one just for me. 
  Along the way, I posted about my design process and  how I planned it all out.  I based it on the Quick Quarter Trip found in the book, Quick Trip Quilts by Eleanor Burns.   The technique is easy and the sewing goes fast.  My favorite part of this technique is the no cross seams to match. 
  I finished it off with a "leftover " pieced border to use up the remaining 4 inch strips pieces from the top.

  This bargello style quilt finished up at 68" by 53". 
And the name----Just Go With the Flow.  This is admission is named for the goof, the mistake made in sewing the rows together.
 In this post  I revealed that I sewed the first two rows together in reverse and how I revised by plan to keep from un-sewing. 

As I was quilting it, I was trying to come up with a name.  I was zipping along quilting swirls in an all over pattern, and realized I was going with the flow.   Light bulb change from a mistake, and relaxing from a stressful week by FMQ equals just go with the flow. 

   A big Thank You to Amy's Creative Side for hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  Drop by and see what bloggers have finished up to show.  Thanks for stopping by and happy stitching.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From the workshop

It's done......the library cart for our quilt guild!
Yes, it has been in the works for a couple of months now, and today it got it's final coat of sealer.  Sir Old Man really did an outstanding job on it.  And see the big rolling wheels on the bottom.  That means it will move easily and I won't have to worry about breaking another one off.
  I love the 2 tone stain and the molding lip on each shelf.  Just a couple of handles now and then I can get it filled up with our guild's collection of books. 
 Great job, honey....Thanks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Free Motion Quilting tips

   Love questions and comments, but it's impossible to reply and answer when you post as "anonymous"..... so, please include an email for an answer.  Or the easy way is to go to  (set up your blogger profile or blog),  click on your dashboard.  Select Edit Profile.  Check the box for "Show my Email Address."  Save changes.  Done!
   The question was about using a new needle and type of needle.  Yes, I put in a new needle before I begin to FMQ.  Why ask for problems before I begin....a small burr can cause tons of trouble.  I generally use a size 11 or 14 sharps quilting needle with the Isacord thread.  Exception to this rule is when I am FMQ on all batiks.....I have had to go up to a size 16 at times to avoid skipped stitches.  Some batik finishes have a lot of residue from the waxing and the weave is generally tighter, so a 16 is sometimes needed I find. 
  Also, the needle depends on the thread type.  I am now using the polyester threads to quilt with--usually-- and have much less problem with breakage and skipped stitches.  If I am doing straight line quilting, I may use cotton quilting thread (40 weight) and use a 14 needle.  The heavier cotton thread is not strong enough for some of my FMQ that I mean changing direction, like in the swirls.  Red Rock Threads has a lot of great info on their website about threads and quilting.  Research a little to solve your problems.

Best tips I have for FMQ:  These  have worked  for me, and  I'm sure there are lots of others. 
Practice, practice, practice.  First on paper.  Draw the pattern over and over.  Wendy at Ivory Spring blog has some great thread talk posts on this. 
Then go to a practice sandwich.  A few years ago, I must have quilted a thousand yards---not really, but it felt like it---of fabrics for my daughter to turn into knitting project bags. I did meandering, swirls, teardrops, hearts, leaves, loops.....all kinds of patterns.   This really helped me find the rhythm and learn to control my speed and motion.
Start small and then try a larger quilt.  Nothing like trying to quilt a bed size quilt the first time.  It's a disaster waiting to happen.  Learn the technique on smaller pieces.  They are easier to handle and maneuver around the needle.    I don't roll my quilt sandwich....rather I bunch and scrunch it up on the machine bed.  I focus on the area where my hands are, not the entire top.  If that area is flat I am fine.
Use machiner's gloves.  There are several brands on the market that are light weight and have  rubbery tips on the fingers or palms  to "grip" the fabric. 
Take frequent breaks.  I will stop about every 20 minutes or so and stretch.  Get up and move around.
Find your speed.  It does not have to be wide open, flat out, or all the way to the floor.  Faster in this case, may not be better----unless you like to rip out stitches.  I would rather go slower and be in control. 
Put on some music.  It works!  The music soothes and makes the stitching better.  Me, I love The Righteous Brothers or Rod Stewart singing the classics. 
Finally....I don't look for perfection in my stitches.  I don't have a cruise control or speed regulator.  Just me and the foot pedal.  I like it that way.
Happy stitching.

Monday, October 24, 2011


  After all the packing, my brother and the packed truck are off,  the renters are in, and all the extra bags and such have been dropped off at the donation center.  I got thru one closet---4 bags of clothing donated, and one cabinet cleared out of all kinds of junk.  A day full of errands and I need to relax.
  The best way I know to de-stress is  machiner's gloves on, new needle, and a sandwich to quilt....then go for it!  An hour and a half later, I come up for air.   See the dish full of pins ---I'm half way done!
  This is the bargello that has been sitting and waiting for a couple of weeks.  I'm using an all over swirl ---my favorite.  It goes fast and seems to blend everything well. 
  I picked up a couple of different types of stablizer a couple of weeks ago  for thread painting.  I plan on some practice pieces to see which one I like  best.   I feel the need for some smaller projects for a while. 
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New banner, update, and a giveaway

A few days ago I decided to play around with a new banner for fall.  Blogger really has limited options for this, and I have been using Picasa and Picnik for the last year.  I noticed a new banner at The Quilt Rat and it made me realize I should try something in my greeting card program.  That's where my banner was created and converted and saved as a JPEG.  I was surprised that it worked, but glad it did.  Now I can put together banners for different seasons. 
  Now I read at The Quilt Rat that she is doing a giveaway for the program she used to create her banner and other things on her blog.  It's the My Memories Software.  It is really for scrapbookers, but works great for blogs, too.  And I bet it would make wonderful quilt labels, too.

 Jill is hosting this giveaway for the next week, so click over to read and see all the things she has done so far with it.  She has a big list of ways to enter, so be sure to comment and get entered for this neat giveaway. 
  Update:    I cleared one shelf in my laundry room by giving away my pressure canner and boiling bath and etc.  I might actually have room for things that belong there now.  On to my closet next.....I must be ruthless.  It is packed with things I do not wear.  And I might need the space for fabric storage!
Happy stitching.

Coming or going?

  I ran across this small wall hanging  yesterday while putting things away and stopped to  just look  at's exactly the way I have been feeling this past week.  I had named it Coming or Going----it depends on how you view it. And the muddy, blended area in the center is where I am at right now.    I need to get this one hung up.
    So where have I been?  Sorting and packing a mountain of boxes at my brother's house.  He put it off, now the house is rented, and the renters move in this the stuff he left has to GO!!!  Maybe you can sense my frustration.  I have learned I do not make a good surrogate landlord, but right now that's where I am.
I know we go through periods or seasons for a reason....but I never seem to learn.
    Insight:  I have too much stuff!
 Everywhere, just too much.  Do I want to burden someone else with having to sort and move it out someday?   The answer is No.  So, what will I do about it?  Give it away, donate it, sell it, whatever it takes......if it has been stuck in a corner, closet, or drawer for a year and not used, find some place else for it to reside.  I will be starting with the closets, and I will  be ruthless....or at least I will try to be ruthless.  Wish me luck with this.
Happy stitching.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yellow combo prize

Pat sloan yellow combo 1

  I am not usually awake before my second cup of coffee, but this morning I only had two sips when Sir Old Man said I had an email from Pat Sloan. OK, I know who she is.  Then he said it's something about being a winner.
  Eyes popped open and off to see the message.   Yes!  I won one of her giveaways for the yellow combo.  Fabric....isn't it beautiful? 
   So excited, and now off for that second cup of coffee.
Happy stitching.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finally Fall

Finally Fall!

I've enjoyed the cool mornings and today I spotted a hint of color on my favorite maple trees.  I pulled out this wall hanging from several years ago for the kitchen.  It's only 16" by 24"  and took forever to stitch around all those leaves. 
  Tomorrow is "working in the yard" day.....lots of trimming and weeding and mulching  to do.  It should be beautiful to be outside.
  Just a quick thank you for all the input and ideas on my struggle.  I have only done a bit of scrap piecing for the sashing using some stripes and shirting prints, but I am very happy so far.  I do think it will tone down the mauve and  anchor all the blocks of different sizes. 
  Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends, and have a great weekend to all.
Oh...a reminder about the Wantobe Giveaway.  The next and final 3 weeks are open to everyone, Madame Samm says to stop by, leave a comment to enter for the last Big Prizes.
Happy stitching. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


  This is such a struggle for me to do......not my colors---from the 80's, or fabric style.  These are the blocks I managed to salvage after washing and pressing.  I found myself crying while pressing,  for a stitcher I never knew, who wanted to make a quilt.  How much of ourselves do we stitch into our projects?  Does it linger in the threads and fibers? 
I believe it does, I felt  her dreams in these blocks.

  A few are the same size, most were uneven, which I trimmed, and a lot were stained with age.    I need to come up with 2 small lap quilts from these.  My first idea was to use an asymmetrical layout on the denim blue background.  I think the blocks fade out a lot that way.  So I found a much lighter blue gray ( very old Jinny Beyer fabric ), but I'm not sure  that's it either.     I tried scraps of the dark blue to border  the blocks...whoa, that won't work.  Forget the mauve, and there is already too much gray, and the red/burgundy is strong. 
   So I am throwing this out to blog land......HELP!   All  ideas are wanted, and just maybe  one of them will give me the right inspiration on how to make this assortment match/work/go together for her boys.  Thanks.
Happy stitching.

Update and additonal information:   The blocks range in size from 7 1/2" to 11 1/4 ".  See my problem?  That's why some must have a frame/border added to them.
  Tried black....everything looks morbid.  Just white or muslin and everything looks dirty.  But a mix that includes a little black and muslin could be the way to go.  I am leaning right now towards a vetical strip setting and making it more scrappy.  Freda suggested ticking stripe.....maybe even some shirting prints would help.  Thanks for the the input from everyone.   

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Who me?

Award?  Yes, I am red faced and embarrassed to admit I forgot to mention and thank Linda at alottastiches blog  for passing The Versatile Blogger Award onto me.  So Thank you, Linda, and forgive me for the delay.  So what is The Versatile Blogger Award?  A way to spread the word about blogs you enjoy and share a little extra about yourself.  Here are the guidelines. 
 1.You must give credit to the person that has nominated you and create a link to their blog in your post.
2.You must create a list of 15 blogs that you enjoy most and link to those as well. Then you must go and tell them you have nominated them. That means if you do not have 15, you cannot do this step. If you do not complete this step, then you cannot claim this award.
3.Finally, you must create a list of seven things about yourself.

And I am about a week late on number one, but do drop in on Linda, who does  fabulous crochet--Ripple of the Week-- and knits and loves yarns and  reading about quilting too.  Now, for the number 2 part.  Here's the start of my list.  You might just want to drop in for a visit with some of them. 

Cheree at The Morning Latte

Mary at Hill Country Quilter

Pattilou Quilts

Dana at Stormy Days

Seven things about me.....
  1.  I wanted to be a writer but ended up majoring in biology and chemistry.  I went through an internship after college and became a Medical Technologist and was in charge of a lab in Orlando before getting married.
  2.  I began sewing when I was 12 years old.  Betty was a surrogate Grandmother to me and a wonderful seamstress.  I am so indebted to her. 
  3.  I love flowers and working in the garden, but have developed horrible allergies over the years.  Spiders and small ants are deadly to me.
  4.  Cooking is another love.  I have cookbooks and kitchen gadgets for everything.  So, why does my family always ask for the same old things?  Country Fried Steak is the all time favorite and pure comfort food.  The one time I changed the holiday menu, they all turned up their noses at the new stuff!  My nephew said that it wasn't Christmas without Grandma's salad.  I learned to leave the menu alone.
  5.  I am sentimental, and sensitive, yet analytical, love chocolate, cherish friends and my family, know a little about a lot of things, enjoy silence and watching the sunrise, need that first cup of coffee in the morning, find pleasure in the routine, abhor being rushed or pushed into something, and long to be a real artist.
  6.  I love to read.  Books take me places I have never been, and teach me more than I can ever use.
  7.  Finally, love fabrics, making quilts, giving quilts away, designing quilts, playing with color, and the biggest thing I love to do is inspire others.  It  makes my day complete when I can share and inspire.   
Happy stitching.

A quilt tale to be

    While helping Trey and Deana clear out and move items from a storage unit last week, Trey found a cross stitch that his Grandmother had done.  His comment was, "What do you do with something like this?  Just trash it. "    Such pain and emotion in those few words.   I put it with the 2 bags of fabrics and partial quilt blocks that he had saved which his mother had never finished. 
    The  quilt blocks are from the late 80's.....polyester batting and all.  It has been in storage for about 12 years and needs a good airing.

  Trey asked me to finish the section that his mother had put together.  Not because it is lovely, but because it  is something her hands worked on.    The stitches are large, and there are tucks and irregularities.  So I will finish off this section----it was lap quilted by block and needs to be finished on the back and have a binding added.  There are other blocks that have only been pieced.  From these I will make lap quilts for each brother.
  So I am putting my projects on hold for a bit.  I feel this is way more important ---maybe not as much fun, but so very important---than quilting my current projects. 
  The first morale of this continuing quilt taleIf you are a quilter, pull out those UFOs or PIGs and complete them.  If you don't like them any more, give them away or trash them.  Please don't leave them for  your children or family to throw out.   I have a great son-in-law and my heart was in pieces seeing him want his mom's handwork, but not in this unfinished state. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

  So a couple hours of sewing, and here's the completed top.

I wanted to show movement, and that's what I got.  I repeated "my mistake" from the beginning 2 rows again just before the end by going up on 2 rows and then back down.  So, now it is on purpose!
  Before I get lost in just looking at the colors, let me finish up with the technique.  From this full shot, you can see that the color pattern at the bottom disappears and then seems to wrap to  the top.  So a few things to remember......
    1. Strata is created with 4" strips. The number of fabrics in your strata will determine the over all finished length. Example: 18 strips times 3 1/2" (finished size) equals 63 inch length.

   *Note: Sew strata together with a small stitch, so the strips will not come apart when sub-cut.
   2. If using cuts of 20"-22" wide cuts from fat quarters, you will need 3 cuts of 4" for a small lap quilt that is about 45-49 inches wide when finished. For a wider quilt, use 2 full width of fabric cuts and a minimum of 20 fabrics in the strata.

  3.   Bridge fabrics help you transition from one color to the next.  Use 3 or 4 values of a color to create a blended wave of color.
  4.  The first 5 to 7 fabrics start at the top left and work down and across to the right. They will probably not make it to the top corner and be repeated.
  5. The first fabric and the last fabric will end up next to each other and need to blend or play/work well together.
  6 . Pattern movement comes from the wide strips--they flatten out the movement, and from the very narrow strips---that move down the quilt quickly and almost create an angle. If you like that, use a lot of them, and if not, then only 2 or 3 will create variety.
   If you have any questions about this technique, let me know and I will post details for all.  A couple of borders on this and I will be done.
  The weather turned cool this weekend, and  last night was 45 degrees.  So you won't hear me complain for the next few days.  In fact, I will probably have to put another quilt on the bed tonight.  Luckily, I have a couple to use!
Happy stitching.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Slicing and dicing

Continuing bargello saga:    All that planning and here's where I am.
Once the rows are sewn for the strata, and you sew the bottom piece to the top get a tube.  All that is easy, the slicing it up takes a ruler, a sharp rotary cutter, and bravery!  I find it the scariest part to slice up the tubes for some reason.  But I can go no further if I don't.
  So I slice and pin to the design wall.  I use 3 1/2" width, 3" width, 2 1/2" width, 2" width, 1 1/4" width for my cuts.  I knew I wanted about 5  to 6 very wide cuts, and at least 7 narrow cuts, so those were my first ones.   I ended up with 3 at 3" instead of 3 1/2" as I was running out of fabric.  Not really a problem as I didn't have a plan written in stone.
   This was pinned up according to my original plan with the dark green as the #2 fabric.  The strips are still as tubes, so this is one half of the whole design.  I liked it, but.....I didn't love it.  The drama was happening in the corner not in the middle. 

So I began rotating the tubes to change the position of the fabrics and re-pinning to the wall.   Zing!  That was it, much better.    I made notes on the swatch card  of the change in number position----but the order of the fabric stayed the same.  OK, ready to sew. 
   Before I get to the serendipity thing that happened, here's the rest of this technique.   On the odd number rows  the piece at the top is a full piece.  The even number rows have half drop pieces at the top.  For the odd rows you cut exactly on the seam line between the fabric you want at the top and the last one....or cut the seam line of #1 and #18.  #1 goes to the top and #18 to the bottom.  For the even number rows, you will cut the piece for the top exactly in half---that gives you the half drop.  It is very easy to do by folding the piece in half and matching the seams in the sewn tube and make the cut.  I only cut the rows I am sewing right now....remember I get interrupted and confused too easily.  Then sew rows together in correct order.  Remember Eleanor Burns' book, Quick Trip Quilts, has all the details. 

Note the upper corner at the left in the above photo, and look at this one.  Guess what I did?  I sewed the first 2 rows together in reverse.  Pattern is going up instead of down in the second row.
   Repeat after me, the first row  goes on the bottom and  the second row  goes on the top.

 Since I absolutely hate to unsew, I looked for the serendipity of the situation.  Found it, too.  A little change in the design plan, and realized this was exactly what I wanted in the first place. 
 So I am sewing and sewing.  The top will take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours .  Back soon. 
Happy stitching.

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