Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Marking photos

    There were lots of questions about marking your photos yesterday.   Your photo editing program probably has a feature for adding text.    I use Picasa , which is a free download program, for my basic photo editing.  It is user friendly and allows me to crop, straighten, correct the lighting, change to black and white.  Those are the main things I use on it. 
   There is also a feature for adding text.  It took me several tries to figure it out, so you may need to play around with the feature.  Basically, I select the photo and save a copy.  That way I have one as an original with no marking.  
  • On the selected photo I select "add text".  
  • Then type in what you use as a mark.  
  • Next select the font and size.  
  • Then click the color selector and hold it down until the color chart pops up.  Then click the color you want the font to be.  Not every photo can be marked in black or gray  and still be seen. 
  • Once you have text as you want it, you can move it around or change the angle for placement.
  • Be sure to save the changed photo!
   A little research gave me some ideas about placement and why.  Placing the text at the bottom or top (like in the border of a quilt---wrong!)  allows for cropping and removal.  Placing text on a solid color area (sounds good to me---wrong!) allows for air brushing and removal.  The mark should be noticeable,  but not interfere with what you are trying to show.  As an example, I added a mark to the heart.  I made it faint and offset the placement.  The mark could be larger and through the center.....what ever you choose to do.
    The internet and digital age has made blogging possible and greatly enhanced our lives in so many ways.  And then on the other hand, it has made pirating easier for anyone with a computer.  There is always and good side and a bad side.  Insights: For me, I will chose to live by the Golden Rule.  I will ask to share someone else's photo or even to use it for inspiration.  I will give credit where credit is due.  I hope they will do the same for me.  
Happy stitching.  

Monday, January 30, 2012


   I know I have been busy, but feel I have little to show for it.  Where did my quilt muse go?  Could be she is hiding under all those squares on the floor of the sewing room.  I keep getting sidetracked onto other things.  It is time to find some focus.
     While looking for inspiration, I ran across the book  Tile Quilt Revival  at Amazon.   The mosaic effect is very intriguing to me.  With my stash of floral fabrics, wonder how it would work?
  I tried a small design.....my technique needs a little work to get it spaced evenly---and not chop off vital edges!  Each piece is fused and machine appliqued with a buttonhole stitch.  The background that shows between the pieces creates the grout lines.  This is only 8 " by 12" and I think a larger design overall would work out  better.  But it has potential for at least a small quilt, or a border.  Come to think of it I have a box full of 5 inch squares that I could use up this way.   I think a second try would be work the effort.   OK, inspiration  found.    Now, maybe I will be motivated to complete what is on the design wall....remember all those squares?.....so I can try something new.
    Insight:  A new beginning can be a powerful motivator to complete a current project.   Remember the rule to avoid UFOs.  

    I am trying to remember to add my blog mark to the photos.....I should have been doing it all along.  Why?  You never know where they will end up.  I had an email from someone who saw one of my quilts on Pinterest and  they  wanted the pattern.  Pinterest?  I haven't gone that route, as I have enough going on.  Whoa!  I was very surprised at to find lots of my quilt photos on there.  The pinned photo shows my blog as the source, but the photo could be used other places with no source.  Just a word to the wise to remember to mark your photos as well as your work.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Do I need to vacuum?

    When Sir Old Man asked if he needed to pull out the vacuum, my heart stopped.  No!!!!   Not because he offered but because I was in the middle of creating......and a mess.  I mean it has to be important if I turned down an offer to clean, right?  So, as embarrassing as it is, this is part of what he was offering to "suck" up in the vacuum.
  All my  cut 2" squares of fabric that are very artfully / usefully/ carefully scattered along the base of the design wall.  Yes, this is often how I work on a watercolor.  If a piece doesn't blend.....to the floor.  If I need a certain value....look on the floor or in one of the trays.    It is there, somewhere.   
   This is what is on the design wall right now..........my first start of the new year.  I have really not felt like starting a big project so far, so this one will have to do.  
   It has been great to just play and blend squares for the last couple of afternoons.  I started with the outer border and decided to use a 3 square grid to create it--- blending from dark to light.   I am not happy with the bottom half of the outer border, so I will rework it when I get more going in the center. 
   Just keep that vacuum out of sight until this one fully develops.  
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


 What do you do with your ugly, oops I mean, less lovely fabric?  It is the stuff you want to get rid of, but is too big a piece to trash can, and you know it will not make it into a quilt.  How about the back of a quilt......yes, I did.  That calico print has been around for too many decades, and what looks like a tan is a tiny green and beige plaid.  I pieced them together for a backing for Scrappy Coins.  I only have small pieces of the unlovely fabric  now that can hit the trash can!  The coins quilt is bound and ready for donation next month.

  The strip pieced watercolor quilt, More is Better,  got finished up too.  The setting is the barn raising layout.  I used a white on white fabric for the backing.  After washing it is so soft and cuddly.  this one is a keeper, for sure.  I quilted it in my favorite overall swirl.  Old favorites are hard to let go of.....

  So while I was finishing up these two, Sir Old Man was doing a different type of finishing.  His latest venture was a beginning wood turning class at the guild.  His first project was a  simple bowl about 6 inches wide and finished with walnut oil.  I love how it brings out the different grains in the wood.  This one is done with dried wood---much harder to turn, and he has another that was turned "wet" and is in the drying stage.  
Yes, Sir Old Man was proud of this finish.  
He even "labeled" his work....guess he has been listening to me about that!  Sign your work.  
   When we went to vote on Saturday, we noticed a pile of  small logs by the parking area from a recently felled tree.  Wood on the side of the road  for a wood turner is like free fabric in a giveaway  to a quilter.  So a few logs found their way into the van.    And I am thinking I might get a turned bowl for holding leaders and enders scraps or safety pins, or thread tails, or ....you get the idea!  
  OK, now  I am ready for a new project.....time to cut into some new fabric.   I need a break from scraps.    Happy stitching.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What a hoot....

 A cold and rainy afternoon just fit the bill for some experimenting....not the chemistry kind but the stitching type.  I worked up the owls into a line drawing for a pattern, which I traced onto fusible.  Then fabric selection....fun and fast and not too picky.  Blue tones for one owl, and purple for the second.
And boxes of thread....cotton, and rayons, and polyesters.

I love the crazy eye fabric on this owl. I   took a little liberty with the leaf arrangement and spread them out some what, and extended the branch to reach the edge of the background.  I believe this one is a professor...note the puffed out chest on him.

  And this one is a  probably a cheer leader with the flirty wings and the scalloped shaped eyes.
  I put them both on a pieced background of odds and ends of fabric that worked together, and  covered all the edges with a zig zag stitch.  Not quite sure about the border/s yet, but I think the heart shape leaves will work for the quilting.

Experiment  results:    Relaxing, and really satisfying because I did not have mile high expectations.  Just some quirky time interpreting  photo / drawing  to fabric.  A time let my inner voice speak through the fabric.  

  So if you are interested in the line drawing pattern for these 2  .... here's the link to Owl patterns   .
Enjoy and send me a photo if you use them.
Happy stitching.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fused mosaic technique

    What a great technique for a quick art project!  It is from Terri Stegmiller this month. She offers a great list of tutorials.
    I am doing a talk for the fiber art group next month in
Tryon .  I have the stack of journal challenge projects to show and hopefully inspire them.  And now this new little heart creation to also share.
  Hint:  All those small triangles and ends  that tend to accumulate from piecing and trimming are perfect for this.  I toss mine into a small bin to use as leaders and enders.  That's where most of this fabric was found.

   This heart is only 8" by 7" and trimmed out with a cotton lace edge.  The fabric bits and snips are fused directly to the batting, and over lapped just the smallest amount.  Then you stitch and stitch and stitch to hold everything down.  I did trim a few dog ears that over lapped first.  Careful stitching is required.....avoid getting the FMQ foot caught in the loose edges.  Ask me how I know.  I did not use a binding, just a length of cotton lace wrapped over the edge and a wide     zig-zag stitch to hold it down.    And I do believe  there is really more thread on this than fabric, but fun anyway!
      I knew the tissue box owl would be a hit for a few of you that love those critters, but what a lot of email I got about the inspiration. I heard from those who are checking the cabinets for tissue boxes, designs on napkins,  and  patterns on paper towels and so on.  Great fun....so be sure to share your hidden design finds with us.     I am working on a pattern, slightly enlarged, based on the owls.  Probably by Monday I will get it together to share.  
     Oh....and I wanted to share a link to a really good tutorial on cathedral windows by Shelia.  She is doing a lot of stash and UFO busting right now, but took the time to share this. I snatched her photo of her progress so far.   This technique is done partly by machine, takes lots of fabric, requires no batting,  and finishes as you go along.  Check it out.

Happy stitching.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tissue box inspiration

 Is there such a thing as too much quilting?  For me, yes.  At least in the physical sense.....I needed a couple days away from the machine after quilting the 2 quilts I had pinned, and practicing those leaves.  Now there is just the binding to do on the quilts and I have the leaves firmly embedded in my brain.

I also finished up 2 more snack mats over the weekend....swirls and leaves motifs for quilting.
These are just so quick to do, and I love the batiks.

  Anyway,  what did I notice first thing this morning on  the tissue box.  Huh?  Just look at the graphic design on it...teardrops and curls.  That would make a neat quilting pattern.   And then I checked the box in the bedroom and found a great applique pattern.

He is the cutest owl of the 4 on the box.  I've got to make a master pattern of him to keep for a future project....like maybe  on a doll quilt.
    Insight:  Take a break when you need one.  Open your eyes to see new designs for inspiration.
  Happy stitching.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snack mats for practice

  . A little bit of practice on the leaves with curled element this week....and extra curls added in.    The little "tweets" are a thread sketching technique where you basically just are creating an outline drawing.  Then you get to have fun  and highlight and color with Prismacolor pencils.
  On the second one I used the fold over backing for the  binding---ugh.  I don't like it, and won't be doing that again.  But these are just snack mats for fun.  Lesson learned!

I also worked a bit on some updated samples for the Crazy Quilting program I am doing for guild next month.  I wanted to focus on and show  a couple techniques  for different embellishments.  So I dug into the stack of journal quilt samples from last year and came up with a few that will be great.  I'm so glad I did that journal challenge.....it was a great experience. To try a technique,  and accept the results, both good and bad, and learn from it.   And end up with a "library" of journals to use as inspiration for later.  I do believe it will miss it this year.
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And I thought Christmas was over....

   Maybe it is the gray and rainy weather, as  I have gotten little done  this week.  The winter blahs, or just facing the extra testing this week, whatever it is I haven't been able to get moving.    So I was happy to get an email and photos from Nicki at the HGTV Quilt Board.
The cutest lady bug fabric was used on this doll quilt donated by Shawkl.
This one is from STinMT......but check out the back. 
 She embroidered "Made with Love in Montana" as a label.  A very clever idea.
And 2 coming from wiley.  She is Mrs. Claus in Arizona. 
  These ladies are so excited about the doll quilt project...and it is only January!   And I so appreciate their help and enthusiasm, as it makes my load so much lighter.  I am --- or trying to keep up with --- posting  of all their photos on the Flickr site for   Get Your Mrs. Claus On  and to list each state they are representing.  So if I miss one, please leave a comment or let me know by email.    I will be letting the elves at the woodworker's shop know that they better get very busy to keep up.  Thank you all.
  Happy stitching.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Calendar / Journal cover

  I wanted a fabric cover (I really hate those plastic ones)  for my small calendar that I carry in my purse.  And there are lots of tutorials for journal covers.   The part I hate is turning the whole thing inside out and then closing off the hole used  for turning.  Mine seems to always look uneven and wavy.  And then the batting in the flap areas create too much bulk.  So I looked for an easier way to finish it off.  

  I measured the cover to determine the size of the piecing for the cover and added 1/4" to that measurement to allow for some ease for turning.  To each end I added wide strips that would become the end flap.  I made these about 4" wide and hemmed the outer edge. *Note: the end flaps will end up about 2" in the finished project.  The flaps have no batting--just 2 layers of fabric---to reduce bulk.
On the back side I pinned a piece of batting cut to the exact size of the cover.  Mine was 7 1/2" by 8".   The end flaps will not have batting between the 2 layers of fabric.    Then do a little quilting to hold the batting in place...this is a good place to practice some  free motion  quilting, or straight lines even.

   Now to put it together.....quilted cover is face up.  One one end, fold the end flap extension wrong sides together and bring the edge that is hemmed to meet the side seam of the pieced cover.   Now fold  the folded end flap towards  the center of the cover ---right side to right side of fabric.  Cut a piece of lining fabric to the exact of the cover unit you created.  Place lining fabric right side to the cover right side.  Pin at the top and bottom.
  You have created the sandwich of quilted cover with the end flaps folded to the center, and topped with the lining fabric.  Now turn this sandwich over, pin if needed to hold it all in place. 

Almost done....just 2 seams to stitch.  Stitch along the top and bottom of the sandwich you created.  Stitch 1/4" from the edge.  The batting will not be caught in the seam.....it won't matter because it is already quilted.
Slide your hand between the lining fabric and the cover from one of the open ends.
Now turn the whole thing inside out.
Press.  Once turned inside out, this is what you see.  

Now turn the end flaps back towards the lining.  Done! 
 The lining ends are hidden and no opening to finish off, or bulk in the seam lines to trim away.

Add a closure if desired.  I just stitched an elastic hair band to the back edge at the center point.  When closed the band can be easily stretched over the cover to hold it closed.  A ribbon and button could be used, too.  Add calendar---got to keep all those doctors appointments, exams, and meeting times straight---and a small notepad in the back, if desired.
  Journal covers can be done the same way, just be sure to measure the journal and add about 1/4" for ease to your measurement.  A great waste not, use up the small scraps project.  Actually, these would make great gifts and stocking stuffers for next Christmas.  Got to add these to my gift list.
Happy stitching.

Friday, January 6, 2012

  Before I even thought of sewing I decided to do something with the pile of batting scraps from the 2 quilts I pinned.   Waste Not---- I used a 3 step zig zag stitch to join the strips by butting the edges together.  So now I have enough small batts----3 for placemats, 4 for snack mats, and about 6 for mug rugs.  Now I can work on piecing the  small tops at night and have plenty of things to practice on for the FMQ Challenge.
  Then I cleaned the machine and got rid of all those dust / lint bunnies and put in a new needle.....it's a new year, so a new needle for quilting made sense.  

I quilted the doll quilt ---number 1 of the year---using the meandering leaf design.   My leaves are more heart shape on this one.  I had a few bobbles along the way, but think I got the hang of it.  I will try it some more and work on controlling  the shape at the top to make it smoother rather than a true heart.    Now on to the big ones....happy stitching.
  Update:  More leaves to come because Frances Moore put out a new "element"  for this months FMQ design.  And here I was thinking, I can do this quickly......ha, ha,  the  joke is on me!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

FMQ Challenge

    I practiced a few leaves and vines this morning after watching a short video for the FMQ Challenge.  I only had 2 small practice batts ready, but they worked for this.  I started on paper and did a couple pages of leaves.  Then I read Leah's post about memorizing quilting patterns.....great info on using a doodle pad with lines to practice designs.
   The coins quilt and the water color quilt got pin basted  today.  I stretched the backing snugly to the kitchen island and taped it down.   Then layered the batting and top and got to pinning.  It takes a while, but worth it to keep the folds/tucks/wrinkles at bay.  I can do about 1/2 the quilt at a time, and  un-tape and shift everything to do the other half.   I know that some quilters thread baste--I won't use the spray stuff because the fumes give me a severe headache, but I have had more luck with the pinning process.  I really think the secret is to get the backing fabric secure and smooth before you layer the rest onto it, no matter which method you use.  If the backing can't shift, then you won't have a problem.  
      Pinning distance....my general rule of thumb is the hand span.  For me that is about 3 1/2" to 4" apart, and a little closer along the edges.  Several years ago, Sir Old Man was helping me pin a quilt, and he commented that I needed some new pins.  Why?  "Because most of your pins are bent."  ****giggle, giggle****   I finally told him, they came that way for a reason.....just a little help when pinning.  The  pin tip just naturally  comes through the layers because it is bent up.  I got more bent pins that year for Christmas.  
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fabric gremlin attack

  I thought this was going to be the year of free motion quilting with the FMQ Challenge at Sewcalgal and Leah's special tutorials on Wednesdays......but maybe it will be a whole lot more.  Or am I just under an attack by the fabric gremlins?
  You know the fabric gremlins that live in your stash closet/bins/boxes....they must send out text messages or something to their pals that live in other quilter's stash.  They say things like "use me!" or  "cut me next" or "when is it my turn?",  or "Stitchin' Therapy doesn't have ufo's.  Let's get her." :D    
  Barbara at Catpatches is hosting or instigating a new challenge this year.....in reverse.  Each month you are to begin a new project, no finishing required, and post about it at the end of the month, and wind up with 12 UFOs in December.  I wonder who told her  I was  the perfect candidate for this!  I know I am crazy for even thinking about this one, because I worked too hard to clear out those UFOs about 5 years ago.  

  Here is my philosophy/insight to no UFOs---or at least how to keep them under control.
  •      Projects  either get finished, or given away....even if it is the trashcan who gets it.
  •      There are 3  big projects at a time allowed in the sewing room.  Stage 1 is being cut and pieced.  Stage 2 is sewn and ready for borders.  Stage 3  is ready to quilt.  
  •       If  I am piecing a project, I do not cut or begin a second one until the current project is sewn together. This motivates me to keep sewing and piecing, etc. and get to the next stage.
  •      A new project may consume me and move beyond a prior project that is waiting for borders or quilting.  But the rule is still only 3 big projects at a time.  
  •     Small projects---like mug rugs, or doll quilts, or small gifts--- that can be finished in an afternoon are an exception.  They can jump in the mix anytime.  
So reviewing the philosophy, I think I can work in a few months to participate in this one.....I have a few projects on my scheduled list and the rules don't say I can't finish....so I'm in.
And one more to consider.....from Stitched in Color.  Rachel is hosting a scrap quilt along with the top to be finished by March with weekly tutorials.  I'll have to see if the coin quilt I am ready to quilt will qualify for this...could be a little bit of a cheat.  
Happy stitching.
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