Sunday, September 30, 2012

Update on colorful strings

   A few more blocks added to the string collection.  A comment from Janet at Rogue Quilter    on these blocks gave me a working name for this quilt......Faceted Jewels.   I think it's a perfect fit.... thank you, Janet.
   I have the rest of the planned blocks marked with the colors.    I think the strings have been multiplying again and I am sure I will need to make this one bigger.  Since the blocks go together quickly, that's not a bad thing after all.
  So this is my NewFO for the September linky Party  at  Cat Patches.
   And a finish....well, almost finished.  The sleeve needs to be tacked down.  Here's a quick look at the trees and cardinals quilt.  It is not named yet....but the quilting turned out really great on this.  I love the texture it created.  i will be getting some more photos to share.  Till then, happy quilting.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Glad I have a "map"

    I thought I would put a few string blocks on the design wall to see how they looked.  I was sure glad I made up a sketch as a map for the layout!   It is very easy to get lost when putting these up because there are so many possibilities for their placement.
But it is so much fun seeing it come alive.
   During my cleaning time, I discovered about 5 more yards of the stained fabric that I am using for a base!  Help....I may have to do another one of these to use it up.
   Happy stitching.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bonus FMQ from photos

   Can you believe September  has flown by?   So I better get this bonus tutorial by Susan Brubaker Knapp posted for the  Free Motion Challenge.   This is good info, but sure to check it out.   Last week I took photos  outside for the first part of the challenge.  This morning I got down to work and put the needle to one.
    I used a regular lead pencil to trace the design onto fabric.   I had a question about the   Sewline pencil    last week that I some times use.  It is designed  for marking fabric and can be erased or washed out.   I do love it for  marking diagonals for HSTs and applique.  Today I could not find it---too much cleaning and it got misplaced---so I just used a regular pencil.  
     I don't mark a lot of quilting lines usually, but I will try to remove obvious marks.  I am not a perfectionist, nor do I quilt for show what is a stray mark or two on a quilt that is to be used?

  I stitched the design....missing a few marks along the way.  Then I decided to fill in a bit of the extra space with overlapping leaves from another photo inspiration.
  So what did I learn from this?  First take photos....lots of them.  Second:   Look for the designs or repeated patterns for inspiration.   Third: enjoy the freedom..... Mix it up when stitching.  
One final note---the light I ordered for the machine is the Ecolux 6 light LED .  It is a very tiny strip of 6 LEDs that mounts under the neck extension of the machine.  I tried it today for the first time and noticed a huge difference.  I am still dealing with some shadows, but it is so much better.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

One thing leads to another

     It all began when I  realized that the overhead light was causing too many shadows when I sewed., it was my head that was causing the shadows as I sewed.  So I wanted to change around the sewing / cutting  tables.  This was discussed with Sir Old Man, who kindly agreed to move things.  I mean did he really have a choice?  He also suggested I go ahead and order the light kit for the LED lights that go under the machine neck....sounded good to me!
    Moving the tables sounds easy, but it is what resides/hides/lives and breeds under the table that causes nightmares!  At least for me.  I am sure no one else is guilty of "stuffing" things the way I do.  I decided to wait a while before we tackled the issue.  So instead I asked Sir Old Man if he had any empty parts bins in the shop that I could use to corral my strings into color families for the string quilt.  He kindly shared 4 from the shop....but wait, I have more colors with which to  work. to Northern Tool---one of his favorite haunts---for parts bins.   Luckily the bins were on sale, and he added a few more for the shop.

Looking in to the closet  

   I needed to move a shelf---out of the closet, it was too cramped anyway---- to hold the bins.....and to move the shelf,   I had to unload the fabric from it.  Now, the picture should be much clearer......first find a place for the fabric, then move the shelf, then load the bins, then load the bins with strings and strips!  Please note that these are after way was I showing the before or during!!

  Note:    I store my fabric of a yard or more  on mini-bolts with  foam core board as the center.    I collect the yard signs after elections, wash them off, and cut to the size  I want!   I realize I lose some space with the foam core, but I fold fabric once, roll it onto the board, and it is done.
I also use it as a base under the bolts so they do not slip through the wire grid shelf.   Some bolts are in milk crate bins.

Closet inside view from the doorway.

   The closet had to be re-arranged once again.  But 98% of my fabric is in there.     This part of the redo was needed, as it had been at least 2 years since I straightened things up.   The flat bins and drawers hold smaller cuts and I sort them by color family mainly.  
    I am so grateful / fortunate to have a separate sewing room and closet that is still full of fabric.  I need to quit "hoarding" so much and  use up more!

The sewing space: 
From the door into sewing space.  
 The sewing and cutting tables were shifted  in the center of the room.  The sewing machine had been where the cutting table is now.
    And sacrifices had to be made.....4 bags worth of old fabrics from garment making days  went to donation center this morning.   It was time to free up some space and I feel better for it.

   Right behind my chair is the ironing board....and those bins that helped start all this are right there too.  I also stacked all the thread containers there too.  So nice to have things together and in one place.

    When I need more support by the machine when I am machine quilting a "biggie",  I can easily swing the ironing board around and use it for support.
   The bookcases have been dusted, and books sorted and put back in some semblance of order.
   Two full days and I believe I need some stitching time.....maybe tomorrow.  I need to try out the new light set that just arrived.
  Hope you enjoyed the peek into my stitching realm......happy stitching.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

More photo practice

  Changes coming to the sewing space, so it is a total disaster.  It has been a long couple of days in there.  I will share the new arrangement  later this week.
     I did get outside for just a while ---needed some fresh air and to take some more photos  for practice.
    This time I used the 3-D bow tie quilt.  It is very scrappy.  So first, it is laid out on the lawn.  I am happy with the angle shot.
     Then I threw it over the stone wall by the workshop.  I liked this shot just for the contrast in the angles of the quilt blocks against the stone wall.

  Then  around the side of the shop with a little more sun.....I love this view.  It makes me want to have a picnic basket lunch out here.

   Final shot....a close up of a corner.  And a closer look at the variety of quilting stitches I used in the centers.  This is the part I need to work on.....getting better photos of the quilting.
   I took about 25 shots and these are the 4 I liked best.  So lesson learned:   lots and lots of photos  improve my chances of getting a good one  out of the bunch.

   The Bloggers' Quilt Festival for Fall is coming up in October.....think about entering.  Happy stitching.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Photo practice

  After running a couple of errands this morning, I thought I would try for a few photos.  This is one I finished up for my daughter, who said the blocks---rectangles---reminded her of kleenex boxes.
   I found some deep shade in the front yard for a long view.

  I used a large print fabric for the backing and added a computer label complete with cardinal.

A closer shot and less angle.

   I just used wavy line quilting on this, so no good close up on that.  The light is stronger in the back yard....but you can see why I call this one, Mod Boxes.   I think the photos give a lot more interest to this very simple block quilt.  And I need to try some late afternoon shots for better details.  Count this as another learning lesson.  Feel free to share  your thoughts on the photos....just be gentle with me  :o)
  Happy stitching.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thread sale and such

Aurifil Quilting Thread 50wt Light Robbins Egg

  At  there is a weekend sale on threads and notions!  I am a long time customer and have always had excellent service from them.
The Aurifil 50 wt. thread is on special  $9.33  per 1300 meter spool......too good to pass up for me.  Since I raved on about this thread in my last post, I wanted to pass this sale on to all.
Shipping is free with a $35 order, and be sure to check out the clearance fabric while you visit.  And now back to our regularly scheduled post.......
   I should be finished with the quilting today on the trees quilt.  And a few more string blocks are ready to be trimmed.  I have about 2 dozen done so far....and lots more strings and strips to go.

   Kathy at Tamarack Shack  had a really good  post on quilt photography.....she always has the neatest backgrounds and great photos.  I keep saying I want better photos, but I think what I really want are interesting photo shots.  So, this weekend I hope to drag a few quilts outdoors and see what I can do with her suggestions.
Happy first day of Autumn--tomorrow ---and happy thread shopping and happy stitching.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An eye opener day

    The Free motion challenge at SewCalGal is the one challenge / project I really committed myself to this year.  First to do all the lessons and learn some new muscle memory and techniques; second, to improve my control and quilting skills.  I needed to get out of the rut of stipple and swirl.  I missed a month along the way, but luckily we have bonus tutorials to enter as a catch-up.  Even if you are participating, take the time to read and print off the information for the future.  This challenge is a gold mine of experts.
  The bonus this month is a good, shoot, trace,  and stitch.   I wanted to do this one for sure.  So camera in hand I began looking around.  Here are a few things I found.  Looking through the camera lens I made a discovery.

    Do you see the recurrent theme....even to the design on the door mat.   Why am I fighting my overall nature?  I have surrounded myself inside the house and outside too, with similar designs.  Curls, swirls, and more swirling or twisting patterns.
   Eye opener # 1......I am feeling frustrated because I am fighting against my nature. The view thru the lens opened my eyes.   I have said over and what you love.  Then do it again.    So I will pick one of these and stitch it for this month's bonus for the challenge.

   But not today.  It is raining and just right for getting on  with uncompleted tasks.  I am ready to quilt the trees and cardinals quilt.   Bet you will never guess / figure out which pattern I decided on!   Look at the fabric I used on the tree.  Instead of fighting my nature, I am going for what I like and do best.   I am not quilting  too dense.....just enough to flattened the background and allow the trees and birds to pop a bit.
  Eye opener # 2.......Thread!   I needed white thread.  When I checked my thread bin, there was no white Isacord---my usual choice for  free motion quilting.  I did find a new spool, bought on sale, of Aurofil 50 wt.  in white.  I believe I purchased it  thinking I would  use  it for a bobbin thread.  I have read great things about it, but never tried it before.  Well, guess what?  I am a believer!  This thread stitches like a dream......I will be purchasing more.
  Some  of the white fabrics in the background have the "painted" type of design on them, which makes them  difficult to stitch through and get nice stitches.  Yet, today I have had no problem at all and the stitches look great.  Yep, my eyes got opened.
Back to stitching.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mrs. Claus again

     A squishy package arrived on Saturday......4 doll quilts for the Get Yours Mrs. Claus On project from  a Mrs. Claus, at Rogue Quilter.  I love the colorful and strippy quilts she made.

    But check out some of her quilting.  Just fabulous!  I flipped over a couple of the little quilts to really show her stitching.  She did lots of teardrops / paisleys on this one....what I usually call stacked teardrops.    I love the effect it creates.

    Jester hats from last month's Free Motion Quilting Challenge on another one.  She figured this pattern out and did a fabulous job.
   So, thank you, Mrs. Claus, so much for sending some love for the our project.  Please visit Janet at Rogue Quilter  and leave her some blog love and a thank you.

Happy stitching.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Strings and things

     First, a little story on me......  I have been sitting here trying to get the photos off my camera for a while.  The computer just was not recognizing the camera again.  It goes through this fit every so often, and we have found a shut down and restart of the computer usually makes things right.  Except today, I was on my third shut down when the master of it all, Sir Old Man, walked in.  When I complained and explained the problem, he calmly said, "Well, you are not connected on this end to the computer."   Duh, egg on my face, once again.   Now, I wonder just who pulled that end out of the USB on me?   ;o)   Another good laugh on me!
     I have been sorting  scraps and strings into color families.   I need to really use them.  I hate cutting more / new fabric when I have a huge basket, make that baskets and bins, full of strips and strings.  Since  nothing else seems to work to keep them from multiplying, I am trying a string quilt project.    I have yards and yards of  fabric---gifted to me---that has dark stains on the edges.  It is just perfect for the string foundation squares.  I could use paper, but hate the time and mess of removing it, and secondly, too often the stitches pull out on the ends.   Just my preference for fabric as a stabilizer.
    And I need a plan to go by.  I settled on 8 inch squares with a diagonal black/dark strip separating the colors on each half of the square.  The dilemma is how to keep track of what color should go where.   I used EQ7  for a layout on paper and my crayons----yes, I do have crayons, too---to color in my layout.  Once I have a block/color combination done, I will check it off my "map".   (I don't know how the layout photo will print or save.  So if you try, let me know if you need a better one.  I can create a PDF and email on request.)

   I did 2 squares with dark blues can see I checked  off the blue/yellow and blue/green squares as done.   Another hint:  Label the foundation squares a few at a time.    I used a pencil to write  the color family for the strings on the foundation squares.  One corner says dark blue and the opposite diagonal corner says red for my next block.  With the way my brain has been lately, I need the extra help.
   Got my night time stitching  plan,  got my foundation squares, got my strips and strings, got my machine set for a cup of coffee and a movie.
Happy stitching.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Taking care of the Olfa mat

  I have several of these mats in all sizes.....and I learned a tip at guild from Suzanne.  Her tip was how to clean your mat---get rid of the threads and fibers that get embedded in it.   I experimented with my small mat first and was surprised that it seemed to do a better job today.
  I did a little extra research on line and discovered that our mats actually like moisture!  The self healing mat will absorb some of the water, making the it supple again.  That means the mat should last longer and be less likely to dull your rotary blades.
  Fill the bath tub with a few inches of water--room temperature water,  not hot.   Place mat face down in the water and let it soak for a 5 to 10  minutes.  Remove and dry flat.
  Optional information for cleaning:
  Add  1/4 cup of vinegar---is there anything you can't do with vinegar?---and add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the water.  
  You can use a soft sponge to  gently clean the surface of the mat.  Rinse well with cool water.  Place on a towel on a flat surface out of the sunlight  to dry.
   So simple, and makes so much sense..... happy stitching.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September's FMQ Challenge

   We are at it again....this month is a lesson from Paula Reid...over at  SewCalGal   for the FMQ challenge.   Be sure to read and  watch her short video on the stuff and fluff method for quilting on a domestic machine.  She also used  Batt Scotters to move the quilt around.....remember the sponge tip, the same idea.  Paula provided an 8" motif  for a block for us  to do....featuring feathers.  Once again I am up for the battle!
   This time it was a little easier to do....some practice, and  better understanding of how to make a feather look right.    I did a quick review  and drew off a short feather to start my practice.  Then I traced the given motif onto fabric.   I used a light box and sewline pencil to trace the motif.  I stitched in light green thread to match the lead I used.  :)
Note:  I do not use, will not use one of those disappearing or wash out blue markers.   One ruined quilt taught me years ago that I don't like them.  My preference...use at your own risk!  

 I had a couple of spots where the thread did not cooperate and left a lump on top.... I admit to owning / creating the wobbly stitches and all the goofs.   The back-tracking stitching is getting easier.  It is still not pretty, and I am not sure it will ever be.
   How easy this looks, how difficult it is for me.  I think I have come to the conclusion that following drawn lines is just not my thing.  I managed to get lost a couple of times, too.   It makes me feel hemmed in like I am being forced into a corner.  I feel the need to sing the song "I got to be me".....or at least sing it in my head and not out loud.

 So I removed my battle gear.....took a break.  I need to think this through.  I need to practice more to do this well,  yet will I use this motif or medallion technique?   Most of my quilts are so full of multi-print fabrics and not solid fabrics---- that this close or dense quilting is not going to be seen.   I remember reading that it takes about 50 to 100 hours of practice to gain enough expertise to claim accomplishment in a new task.  I only have about 6 to 8 hours of practice sewing on a drawn line.  I am not sure I want more.  :(
   More practice I decided.   This time  I just decided to follow my own path.   If you have followed me  for any time, you know I make up my own rules sometimes and go my own way usually.  I can't say if it is an age thing, or just my free spirited side,   maybe.  So, not to be undone, but to feel I have improved this month and gained more experience.....I went in another direction.

         I am comfortable doing swirls and I had printed out a page from LuAnn's sketchbook that I wanted to try.  Feathered Swirls from LuAnn at May Your Bobbin Always Be full   is  a free hand design, not drawn.   I did several pages on paper....drawing for practice.  Easy to adapt this style to spaced or dense quilting.   So I began on another piece of fabric and tried to figure this one out.    I do like this one, a lot.  I get the feathery feel without having to do a complete spine and feather.   I haven't quite got the rhythm of the design in my head----figuring out which direction to swirl and how it will fill in, but it will come.  I can see this working great to fill in a background or in a border.
  This  challenge for me is more about improving my technique, and figuring out what works for me.  I would rarely use a traced motif in the type of quilts I make, but I like knowing how to transfer the design and how to follow the lines----even if I don't do it.  And finding a design from LuAnn is just the icing on my cake for this month's challenge.
  Happy stitching.....on your challenge, or latest project.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fall is in the air

   What a beautiful day yesterday.  And today is more of it....there is nothing like a morning cup of coffee on the patio when the air is cool and crisp.   It makes me think fall is in the air.
    When the family went to the football game Saturday,  I put some stitching on the fall banner for my demo.    Nothing fancy, just outlining the appliques and curves for movement.   I like how it turned out with the dimensional flying geese, all heading south!

      We have enjoyed Remy.....a 3 year old chatterbox who is into everything.  Last night he informed me he was making a car with my "towels".  We expected to see half the linen closet on the floor, but instead he had used quilts!  I laughed so hard at his antics....dragging quilts three times his size across the room  to pile up around a couple of pillows.   A child's imagination in motion.   Everyone else was horrified--not her quilts--, and I thought it was priceless.    Hope he holds onto that imagination....always.
Happy stitching.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

From the workshop

    I forgot to mention my feature interview at Amy's Creative Side .   Thanks for all the great comments and hello to the new followers from there.  It was fun!

 That woodworker of mine, Sir Old Man, has been at it lately.....working in the shop again.  He just put the finishing touches on a large pantry for our daughter.  After a few fits and starts on the design, he came up with a 2 piece design to meet the needs and requests for storage.
   First, there is the upper section of shelves with doors.   Actually, I think it would be perfect for stacking fabric on, but no, it is for food.  You know that necessity of life that our bodies require.
   Deana wanted flat panel doors...very simple to fit into her mid-century style decor.   Can I tell you how  long Sir Old Man agonized over these doors?  Let's just say they were his stumbling block.  Once he committed to them, they were done in 2 days at the shop!

   Doors open shows lots and  lots of storage.
  He made the shelves adjustable.

   This is the base of drawers.  The upper section is designed to sit on top of this piece and will be secured with a few well hidden screws.      I like the extra details around the drawer edge that Sir Old Man came up with.  I think maybe, he has been reading too many blogs and worrying about design details.

But check out the drawers....full extension too.
    Can you imagine how many spools of thread I could fit into one of those drawers.   A lot!  Again no, for me and yes, for Trey to store all those bottles of sport drinks!
   So, it  is another hit / success / and completion from the workshop.  Of course, now, we have to figure out how to get it loaded and delivered to Charlotte.  Soon!

   OK, Sir Old Man approved this post and will even accept the "buttoning pushing" digs that I included.   He is good that way.  Great job, dear.  Happy wood cutting, sawing, sanding, routing, planing, and all those other tools you use!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wonders of Color

   Yes, I did find a light bulb for the Featherweight, and got the last few rows of stitching completed.  So the Wonders of Color is pressed and awaits quilting.

    I tried to photograph outside for natural see if that helped.  This one turned out  34" by 44"....a really nice  large size for a wall hanging.  I added about 200 squares to the original 200 I got from Wanda  at Exuberant Color.    Working with this much concentration of color was a different experience for me, but I really had fun twisting and shifting the squares around.  And I was really surprised how many different fabrics I had to use and  from which to select for this.   To border or not to border.....I will be thinking on that one.
    And I have almost finished up the quilting on the fall wall hanging with the great pumpkins....soon.
    I will be cleaning up the sewing room, as my brother is bringing Remy up for a few days.  Creative time will be limited this weekend.  And tomorrow is Banana Pudding making day.   When Dan called he said that Remy wanted one, but I am not fooled.  I know exactly who wants the all time favorite dessert.  ;o)

Update:  Here's a link to the recipe for the Original Banana Pudding  .  It's the back of the box recipe that my Mom always used.  The custard is from scratch, as she used to say, and that is what makes it so good.
   Happy stitching.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Remember the Trash Can Bag?

    I got the greatest email from Linda at Chirp .  She included photos of the Trash Bag---plus a real scrap trash bag ---that she made.  See tutorials page for my instructions.

Linda   from Chirp made a bag!
 This bag i s going to her sister who is a Girl Scout Leader.  And I love the outside pocket, which happened when she sewed the pieces together wrong.  Linda just turned it into "lemonade" and added another pocket inside.   Click over and see her other    I really like what she did with the extra strips for the bonus bag.  It is perfect to hold thread snips, fabric bits, or spools of thread even.
    This is probably the greatest compliment I can get.....someone is inspired by me and uses the idea to make it their own.  Great job, Linda.  Thanks, for sharing your project finishes  with me.

   I was making great headway last night stitching the rows on the colorwash while watching a movie.  And suddenly I was in the dark.  The light bulb on the Featherweight finally shone its last beam.
   I turned to Sir Old Man and said, "I can't watch TV because the light bulb is out on my Featherweight."   He calmly looked at me,  and replied, "Let me take my glasses off.  I can't hear you."   He got me that time....I laughed until I cried.  
   Laughter is good for the soul.  Happy stitching.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Side tracked again

     I'm putting away laundry, and see the trash can is overflowing.  I put down the clothes and go out to empty the trash can, when I see there are smudges all over the glass door.  I put down the trash can and go get the window cleaner to clean the door.  Ugh, there are spider webs in the corner.  I need the broom now, and while sweeping the phone rings.....  You know the rest of the story.  At the end of the afternoon, the laundry is where I left it, the trashcan is outside along with the glass cleaner and broom.    How easily  I get sidetracked and wonder why things are half done!
    Instead of finishing a project, I began a new one.  Of course I am sure no one ever does this but me.  I still have the demo for the one seam flying geese for the quilt show on my brain---and I haven't put in my entry forms yet either.  I need to add that to my list----if I could find it and where are my glasses anyway?   But back to my story........Why not make a quick fall wall hanging and use a few of them?

   But first, I need a couple more blocks.  I had printed off this cute apple applique from Barb at Bejeweled quilts to try.  No time like the present.  I left off a couple of the leaves to make it fit the size I needed.    I think this is just too cute.  Thanks Barb for sharing.
     A few flying geese mixed with the apples and pumpkins and I "improv- pieced"  together a fall wall hanging.  I think just one more band  around the whole thing, and I will call it  ready to quilt.   I used 2 1/2" squares for the flying geese and just filled in with extra strips for the length.    Lots of dense quilting should really make the appliques  and dimensional geese pop.
     I also got side tracked and figured out how to get Picasa to reduce the pixel size for photos.  Connie at Freemotion quilting by the River  mentioned checking your usage and storage on the Picasa web albums.  Whoa...I have used a lot.  So I needed to figure out how to reduce the size to come in under the wire.  I tried this morning and figured out that if I load photos to a general  folder first ---I called mine "original photo", then I could crop and edit.  Once I was happy with them, then I exported  the photos--multiples can be selected with the control key---to a monthly folder.  When exporting I selected the resize option to 640.  I did not like the watermark option the program offered for export, so I am sticking to my typed version.
    Today....I will focus on completing something, just one task, before I begin another.  Wish me luck.  Happy stitching.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A couple of things....

    I have added extra information on the Tutorial to design Water Color page  about using interfacing as a base.  I think I managed to confuse some of you.  At the bottom of the page I added details about fusing and sewing the seams with a few photos.  The photos show the gridded interfacing, but the technique is the same using plain interfacing.    Interfacing is interfacing.  
 Just trying to find my original post when I discussed this is a nightmare, so I just added it on the design page.  Which leads me to realize just how much information I have put out, and exactly how disorganized it is.  I really need to do a better job of labeling my posts, and setting up a tutorial page.  Guess I will be laboring over Labor Day on this.  Have a great weekend everyone.

 Here's the link for the  Weekly themed contest at the Quilting Gallery.  I don't have anything entered this week, but Cheryl  at Quilts and Art does.  So, yes, I am soliciting votes for her neat piece of art done on rusted fabric.  A few other blogger buddies have pieces entered, so check it out and vote for your favorites.           
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