Thursday, April 10, 2014

A New Toy

I have a new little machine to take to classes and sewing get togethers. Last year someone brought hers to our sewing retreat and 3  people went out and bought one after seeing hers. They are all really pleased with theirs.

I didn't really need another machine. My Bernina is in great shape after a trip to the sewing machine spa, I think it is better than it was  brand new. My Janome Gem is in good shape too, no problems there, but my Janome is a little  older and doesn't have some of the features of the newer models. Probably the main  thing is that I only have 3 stitch lengths to choose from and that doesn't always suit me. My Gem doesn't have a sewing table extension and I know I could buy one but after seeing this machine I decided that maybe I should  buy a new machine.
I read all the reviews and I checked often to see if everyone was still happy with their machine;  when I saw that Costco had reduced the price for this month I decided to buy it. It is an inexpensive machine but it has a lot of nice features and the manual  is one of the best I have ever used, as well as having a DVD instruction video. I wasn't swayed by the 130 stitches because I have never use more than a few on my Bernina but they are kind of nice to have. It is lightweight, only 13 pounds, which is 1 lb. more than my Gem.
I have been playing with it and I like it. I will keep my Gem till after Quilt Camp in June in case someone needs to use it but then I think I will give it to my great granddaughter. She already likes to sew and I think having her own machine will keep her enthusiastic.





Friday, April 4, 2014

A Finish

I finished my little 24 inch square table topper today. I had the  machine quilting and the binding done a few days ago but I couldn't decide how to quilt the four 4 inch plain light squares.  In the end I "big stitch"  hand quilted it with 2 stands of hot pink and 1 strand of yellow embroidery floss. After I decided to hand quilt it I agonized over how to mark it (I always have to agonize over something). I wanted my petals to be even and when I practiced drawing them on paper they looked pretty bad. I used EQ to draw one petal and used the  EQ Wreathmaker  tool to get the 5 petals even. I printed it and cut it out and traced it onto a piece of pressure sensitive label paper and cut that out for a tracing template that would stick in place while I traced. I used a "Sewline" water erasable marking pen to trace around the template. I love that pen and am so happy someone told me about it. I had tested it to make sure the marks would come out and then pressed the test area with a hot iron and no marks came back.


I Quilted in the ditch around the blocks and around the squares in the blocks  centers and also in the  ditch around all the patches in the made fabric center squares. I used 2 rows of stitching with the #4 Bernina stitch in the all of the sashings.
I had cut some  striped fabric for the binding but it just didn't look right. With no border on a small piece it seemed to need a fabric that was already there. So, I pieced together some  strips of the yellow for the binding and it looks just right to me.

I think that this little piece has a 30's look although there is no 30's fabric in it anywhere.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Signs of Spring and a Finish

It started snowing Saturday afternoon and it came down continuously until sometime after we went to bed. this is what we awakened to Sunday morning. There was at least 6 inches of snow on top of the car, so much for spring. But wait, look at that nice blue sky and in the photo on the right I can see that the leaf buds getting larger every day.



 As for the snow on the car, the sun was out and the heavy snow slid right off with little effort and the streets were all clear as they had been plowed during the early hours. Today the snow around our building has diminished to the point of showing big areas of lawn.

 I finished the binding on the auction quilt from Quilt Camp 2013 and I went over it to make sure all the threads were trimmed and buried and I went over it again with the lint roller. I didn't want to put it on the design wall which is covered with threads and lint and I didn't want to lay it out on the floor so here is just one corner on the dining room table . I used the Kona Bone binding and I hope it will appeal to someone besides me.

These shots are of the  machine finished binding; the color of the border is correct in the photo on the left.
The lower photo shows 2 of the corners on the back. It looks like there is net or tulle over the fabric but that must be from the angle that I held the camera. I am pretty satisfied with my new method of sewing the binding to the front and then using Stitch Witchery to  fuse it down on the back before stitching in the ditch right next to the binding on the front. There was a 2 inch area, on one side, where the binding did not get caught on the back.  I stitched it down by hand rather than go over it with the machine. Maybe next time I will get it perfect, maybe not.

 I sewed my nine blocks of made fabric together this morning. I had auditioned several fabrics for the border and settled on a stripe that has all the colors used in the body of the piece. When I put it on the table to check for the size I want for the borders I could see that if I put any borders on at all it will be a rather awkward size to use on the table at a 90 degree angle. The two side corners would stick out a few inches but not enough to hang down. So, I am just going to bind it with the stripe. The colors remind me of Easter egg colors so I think I will finish this up and use it for a couple of weeks. It is nice and spring like so I might use it until I put out my patriotic quilts for the summer.











Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making Fabric

I've spent most of my sewing time this week making fabric. Last week someone brought in to our guild meeting a large bag of fabric that was donated to the guild. It was a big bag with substantial pieces of fabric; there was also a small bag with a lot of odd shaped and small scraps. I said that I would like to have some of the scraps and I was given the small bag.
 I sorted them into piles by color on 2 trays,which you can see in the upper left corner. Next to the trays are the pieces of "made fabric" that I made with the scraps. They are around 12 inches square (except they are not square).
I cut the center 2 pieces of made fabric (the ones that are most alike with pinks, greens, yellow and lavender) into 4 1/2 inch squares and 2 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch strips. These are 2 blocks I made in the lower left corner and on the right are the other 4 squares that I cut.

At that point I realized that these pieces all contained the same kinds of colors/fabrics and I pulled those fabrics out of the piles and added a few colors that were in short supply from my own supply of scraps.  so this is what I have right now and I need 2more 2 1/2 by 8 1/2 half inch strips and 2 more 2 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch made fabric strips  and the Kona Bone fabric cut in the same sizes to make the rest of the blocks. the blocks will be 8 inches finished. I am making the strips individually instead of a large piece because I want to control where the seams are going to fall and also because I am running out of longer strips of the scraps in the colors I want.

This last picture is an EQ7 rendering of the small piece that I am going to make. As I look at this it seems that maybe I should put the blocks with the Kona Bone in the 4 position but I have played with the design and I think that when the border is added this is the way to go, especially if I use a "made fabric" border. We'll see.

At this point I do not have any plans for the other 3 larger pieces of made fabric. I have a couple of other things I need to concentrate on so I will probably put them aside for a while. I will get back to them sooner or later.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring and an Almost Finish

The other day when it was warmer and sunny we went to the arboretum and took a short walk around. This is one of my favorite trees all year. I love the shape of the tree and the shaggy bark.


Right next to where we parked the Winter Aconite was poking up through the dead leaves. It is usually one of the first flowers we see. After this long cold snowy winter it is so nice to see the little flowers poking their heads up.

The ground was covered with seed pods fro the Sweet Gum tree the other side of the parking lot; they have an interesting shape and texture. In the spring they fall from the tree and if you catch them at the right time they are nice and clean. One year I gathered a big bag of them to make a wreath or something. I moved the bag around from one place to another for at least 2 years before I finally threw them away. I picked one up at the arboretum and Jack wanted to know if I was going to gather another bag full. I did not!

I have finished the quilting on the Falling "Charms" quilt. In this first shot it is on my dining room table. I think you can see the quilting better on this one.
 I quilted in the ditch in all of the made fabric charms. In a few places I added some decorative stitching where the seams were pulling apart a little and in a couple of  places where there was a patch that was large and needed to have some stitching to make it lay down and not pouf out.

Below are shots of the whole quilt and one of the corners. I need to add the binding and I have not settled yet on what I want. I have enough fabric to make the binding the same as the border but I have been thinking about Kona Bone for the binding. It is one of my favorite binding fabrics when it is used in the body of a made fabric quilt. I am going to ponder this for a while before I go ahead and add the binding.

Quilt 52 x 65

Friday, March 14, 2014

Not much going on

It has been a while since my last post and I have not been doing a whole lot to talk about. I don't want to worry my friends so I will share a few not so exciting things.




Well, one thing is kind of exciting. One of the boys from last summer's Quilt Camp came to our meeting on Saturday for help binding his quilt. He opted to have his quilt quilted on a long arm so he didn't get it finished before this. We always have a boy or two come to quilt camp and they are almost always focused and have good organization skills. It is always fun when the QC participants come back for help with something.




 
 




Here are a couple of shots of the quilting on the Falling Charms quilt that was started last summer at Quilt Camp. It is looking pretty good with the variegated multicolor thread and some ditch quilting with thread to match the Kona bone.  I will have to do some quilting in the "charms" which are really squares of "made fabric"; they are not going to lay flat if I don't.









I sewed two of my made fabric pieces together to make one piece(the bright one on the left) and I found 2 more pieces that I started from light background type fabric. The two light pieces on the right are not together yet but they will be. From the bright one on the left, I plan to cut one 6 1/2 inch square for the center of an Anvil block and five  4 inch squares to make 10 HST's. I have nothing planned for the light made fabric but I will probably use it next month when I do a talk for my quilt guild about made fabric.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Busy week

My week would probably not seem busy to most people but I don't like to have something to do and somewhere to go every day and I don't like to have to run around here and there in one day. Monday my doctor called and told me she was changing one of my meds and I had pick up a new prescription. From the pharmacy I had to make an urgent trip to the dentist. I had all kinds of visions in my head about having to have a root canal or an extraction but it turned out to be a gum infection, probably after injuring the soft tissue biting down on a hard piece of vegetable stem. That was good news and because we had to  make a trip back to the pharmacy for antibiotics and it was already dinner time we stopped to eat before going home.
When we got home, Jack started to change the belt on my vacuum cleaner. It had made a loud noise that morning when I was using it. Jack thought it sounded like the belt broke. The belt was not  the problem.

He took the roller brush off and gave it to me to clean up the thread wound around it. I cut the tread off with a scissors and this is what I ended up with. He put the roller brush back, problem still not solved. place. He took the whole thing apart and found a broken fan. He put all the parts in a box and took it down to the rubbish room. We did a bit of research on line and decided to shop on Tuesday for a new vacuum. It should have been easy everyone carries vacuum cleaners, right? Not if you want one with a bag. We went to all of the places that carry vacuum cleaners and a found a name brand at Sears, the 7th place we stopped. Back home Jack put it all together and I tried it out. Hmmm......  something was not right, the cord seemed to be rather warm, the brush  did not seem to be turning and the deciding factor was when Jack burned his fingers on the motor housing. So back we went and returned it. We had to go back upstairs to the department where we purchased it so I looked for another vacuum and we bought a Sears Kenmore and I am happy with it. 
By the time we got home I was wiped out. After we ate I sat down and fell asleep and got up around 10 and went to bed. So I missed the Friendship meeting on top of everything else.

I was still tired today so I did some improv piecing on "made fabric". I have wanted to try again to make some larger pieces to cut up. I usually make pieces close to the size I need and trim them. I think I will combine the top two pieces on the right as they are both made with fabrics that less bold in value. I still have a few Anvil blocks to make and I like the one below that  I made from one large piece that I cut up.









It is a slightly different approach when I make large pieces because I am using larger chunks of fabric keeping in mind that I will be cutting through them.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Finish and an Experiment

I  finished a little 24 inch table topper (I guess that is what it will be) this weekend. I saw the tutorial  for these blocks at Film in the Fridge about 2 years ago. I cut a lot of strips from Kona Bone and from my bright fabrics and I made 4 blocks. I really like the blocks and I loved the quilt Ashley made but I did not like the process. I am not fast anyway but with these blocks I was really slow. There were the extra steps sewing the Kona strips to the colored strips and all the decisions about what width to use next. I was not so red hot sewing straight seams either as my blocks were kind of bowed out on the sides. However I liked the blocks too much to not finish something. I went to the quilt show at Lake Farmpark on Friday and I was going to get a lime green fabric for the binding but I got side tracked and didn't get any so I used Kona Bone, which was my alternate choice. I use that often on bright quilts; I like the nice clean look of the off white with the bright colors.

While at the Farmpark and checking out all the vendors I came across some yarn that caught my interest. The woman in the booth had a black knotted scarf made from the yarn and I bought some black for me and some beige for my daughter.  You can see here the steps I took to the finished scarf.

  At home, I went to the Bernat website and looked at the instructions for the knotted scarf and then I looked up thread scarfs make with Sulky Solvy and decided to go in a that direction. The skein of yarn had about 5 different types of yarn that were tied together. They were not as easy to take apart as I thought they would be and I ended up with a tangled mess that I finally got separated. I cut about 50+ inches of Sulky Solvy and taped it down and proceeded to lay out stands of  yarns, one strand at a time. When  they were all used up I covered them with another layer of Solvy and pinned them and started stitching in crosswise rows; that was beyond boring. When I finished with all the stitching I washed out the Solvy and rolled it in a towel and hung it on a hanger to dry. I am not in love with it but I don't hate it and I learned something, so I am calling this an experiment. I wish I had left out the white treads they were sparkly and pretty in the knotted scarf but not so much in this one. Next time I will tape the ends of the yarn so they stay straighter and I think I might not stitch my rows so close together.
Will I wear it?
 Maybe!
Maybe I will wear it Tuesday
If it doesn't snow.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Friendship Block


I finally got around to making Gwen's Friendship block. I always grumble (to myself of course) when I have to make something that requires thought and creativity and I always procrastinate. Gwen gave us instructions for making a "shop'  of our choice from the pattern "The Shop Ladies" by Sue Pritt. Sue has several really sweet patterns on her website that are worth checking out "Sweet Seasons Quilts".
I read the instructions almost 2 months ago and set them aside until Monday when I read them over several times before I formulated a plan of attack. Once I decided on what kind of shop I would make the rest was fairly simple, not really easy with cutting all  those little  dresses but simple.  Some of the parts were stitched together and some of them were fused. I don't do a lot of fusing so that part was kind of fussy for me. After I sewed the first floor together I decided to put a name in the window so I scanned the background fabric and then made a sign in Word and printed it on fabric. I thought it might come out the same but it  is not as bright as the yellow background fabric in the window. I wish I had printed it on the window fabric but I didn't know what I wanted to do when I was at that point.
Gwen will add trees and lampposts when she puts the blocks together. I decided to skip putting a flower pot or anything else in front of my shop but I did consider a topiary. When Gwen gets all her blocks together she can decide if it needs something else.
All in all
it really was
 a fun block to make.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Jellyroll Race.

Yesterday was the annual Basement Divas' annual Jellyroll Race. this was our third race and the most fun yet. The quilts were better this year too
I am always slow and came in dead  last in 2013 and 2012 I came in next to last only because the last place person had a problem with her machine. So.... this year I cheated  I claimed a handicap and sewed 2/3 of my first seam at home. I did tell 2 people before the race just to keep things on the up and up. Even so, I did not come in first but second.

My second place quilt.
  Everyone had a good time. There were snacks, 2 short term power outages, dance breaks, an over the top lunch (as usual)and a lot of laughing and fun. and There were also prizes for everyone.  Everyone received a participant patch, made by Lori signed by everyone there, and a goodie bag made and filled by Judy with a Twinkie, Hershey's miniatures and a bag of snack chips. I was going to take a picture of the contents after I got home but they had disappeared before I got around to it. Jack enjoyed the snack. He has not been eating sweets since January so it was a really special treat.




Photo here shows my empty goodie bag and my other prizes. A 1 1/4 yard and a quarter piece of Alexander Henry fabric with giraffes and rhinos and some of Lori's little left over HSTs.


Below is a shot of the whole group with our quilts. Mary Ann has only her unsewn Jellyroll because her machine refused to sew yesterday.


Participants in the Annual Basement Divas 2014




 Everyone needs fun times like this and I am so happy to be part of this fun group of great friends.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A finish

The weather cooperated on Monday and I was able to pick up my Bernina. It is running well and it seems that all of the issues have been taken care of. After dinner Monday I started quilting this little quilt that was all  layered up and I almost finished quilting it on Monday. It is so nice to have the knee lift on the Bernina again. I set it aside yesterday and got back to it this morning to finished it up.









 I used this orange fabric for the backing and binding. I bought this last year for backing for another quilt and I didn't like it. I didn't like it for the quilt for which I bought it but I also didn't like it at all. I had 6 yards of it and I used a little bit of it for scrappy Many Trips Around quilt and didn't like it there either and only used a couple of strips. I gave  away half of what I had left and when I was looking for a back for this quilt I thought it was a good way to get rid of  use up the rest of it. I still have a piece 14" by WOF and now guess what. I like it A LOT. I guess it just needed the right quilt to show up it's bright cheerfulness.





These shots show how I quilted it with the Bernina #4 stitch which I also used on the binding.
I had planned to use a variegated thread in primary colors but ran across this bright citrus colored thread and with the orange  binding and backing it was a better fit.
I  finish all of my binding by machine any more. It is easier on my old hands. I used to sew it on the back and turn to the front but lately I sew it on the front and turn it to the back and fuse it down with 1/4 inch Stitch Witchery. Then I stitch it on the machine from the front. I either stitch in the ditch, for a more serious quilt, or for something more whimsical I use the #4 Bernina stitch. I am very pleased with the results. Today I ran out of 1/4 inch Stitch Witchery and I cut 1/4 inch strips of Wonder Under and peeled away the paper before I tucked it under the binding and it worked well too.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

More Snow

I am a little bit embarrassed to complain about the snow here in NE Ohio; it doesn't compare to some areas of the country. We have not been snowbound for days on end and we have been able to get around most of the time without problems. However today makes the 4th Sunday in a row that just as we were ready to leave for church the snow was coming down thick and heavy. So... for the 4th Sunday in a row we have stayed home. It is often not safe to walk around our car in the parking lot here at home to clean off the car and when the snow is coming down like it was today it is not always good at the other end. Jack says at our age a fall could be life changing so we stay home. There was a lot of  grumbling going on here.

Leftovers from Tumbling Charms 38 x 37
To take my mind off the snow and get away from the grumbling, I put this little quilt top together with leftover Tumbling Charms blocks. The kids at quilt camp made these last summer when they were practicing 1/4 inch seams. There were enough blocks using "made fabric" that I didn't need to use these in the bigger quilt. Although I had planned to use them on the back I did not need them to extend the backing. I played around with these until I came up with a design for a row quilt. I had a  piece of the striped fabric that  has been sitting around for a couple of years; it was 2 yards by 22 inches and it is perfect for the sashing and borders. I will find something for the back from my stash or from the stash at church. This will go in our Caring Quilts closet at church and it can be either a baby quilt or a lap quilt. It is nice to finish something the same day it is started and nice to clean up the leftovers. I think I even have a smallish piece of batting leftover from something.