Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pin Cushion Progress

Since the pin cushion project I showed you yesterday is going to be a class for next quarter at my LQS, I started on them at work yesterday afternoon. I decided to do the heart one first.

I'm making two of each, one for me and one for a store sample. Can you guess which one is for me?

These really don't take very long. I have some sand bags already made that I would like to use as the filling for these. I will have to modify the finishing instructions though. The one on the right is finished and ready to be turned into a pin cushion. The one on the left still needs some decorative stitching. I accidentally left the embroidery thread I want to use on it at home yesterday.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Project

Look what I got in the mail yesterday!

I ordered three different wool bundles from Sue Spargo last week to make the pin cushions pictured on the pattern. The pin cushions will be a new class for the next quarter at my LQS. I will make one as a class sample using the wool we have available in the shop. The bright colors are for me! Pictured are three Fat 1/16s bundles, magenta, chartreuse and turquoise. I also plan to spruce them up a bit with extra embroidery and maybe some beads.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Progress on Abacus

I have all of my Abacus blocks squared up and I am starting to play with them on the design wall.

This is only about a third of the blocks and I have not finished cutting out all of the medium gray bar pieces. I'm not getting much continuous sewing time today so I'm doing this in 5 minute installments between work tasks and regular chores.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Retreat Report

Last weekend was my guild's winter retreat. It was a wonderful weekend of fun and sewing. It snowed both Friday and Saturday! I got a lot accomplished.

My main project was to get the blocks sewn for my Abacus quilt.

Done! I'm in the process of squaring them up. Then I'll play with them on my design wall before sewing them together.

I also got two charity tops pieced.

Above is one of the two. The other is the same pattern with different fabrics, boy fabrics.

I started a third kid quilt. I don't know if this one will go to charity or not. At the moment it is just a pile of flying geese units.

I'm planning to sew these together in six vertical rows of seven, kind of by color. These blocks began life as two charm packs, one of the green solid and the other the prints. I'll post more about this project as I make more progress on it.

We played some fun games and laughed a lot. Have you ever played Apples to Apples? We played this game Saturday night. We also played a game to exchange our "sewing related items." I came home with this charm pack and key cover.

I also won a felt needle book and a tape measure. No picture because Spooky is sleeping on them! I think she missed me.

It is a lot of work to pack up all your stuff, drive some where, unload it all and then do it all again a few days later. However, it is worth the effort to spend quality time with your sewing machine and good friends!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Self Portrait

It is art group Tuesday for me. I'm taking my Self Portrait for Show and Tell today. She isn't quite finished, but is very close. I'm debating whether or not to put earrings on her.

With Earrings
Without Earrings
What do you think? I've sewn the earrings on and removed them once already. I just can't make up my mind! If you have an opinion on the earrings please leave a comment. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time making this decision!

I have a few other things I plan to add to the background. I have just scattered them around on the photo below so you can see them. I have not settled on exact placement. I want to get the binding on first.

I would only use one of the L's, not sure which one though. I like the pink one if I use the earrings since they are pink too. If I don't use the earrings I don't have a favorite. The green and blue one both kind of disappear into the background.

Decisions, decisions ...! Hopefully the other members of my art group will have opinions too!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Curve It Up Quilt Along

Block 3:

Block 4:

The links above will take you to the tutorial for making these blocks. So far all of my blocks are coming out the correct size - 16.5" unfinished!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Better Late Than Never

Have you noticed the Curve It Up Quilt Along button on the right hand side of my blog?

This quilt along is hosted by Jenny of Sew Kind of Wonderful and her sister, Helen of HGMR Deco Quilting. The first block was posted on October 23, 2012 and I am just now getting around to starting the quilt along.

Here is my first block.

And here is the second.

I noticed that the instructions for block #8 are now available on Helen's blog! Sheesh! I'm glad I started before the last block is posted! I can't remember if there will be nine or twelve blocks in this.

I'm using my A Stitch In Color fat quarter bundle for the print fabrics and Slate Kona solid for the background.

I didn't realize until I finished the first block how big these blocks are. They will be 16" square when finished. So far the instructions are very clear and there are photos for exactly where to place your Quick Curve Ruler for the cuts.

As will all good quilt alongs, there is a Flickr group for participants. Click the link to see some wonderful blocks!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I'm teaching my son some basic calligraphy. I've struggled since he started writing to get him to take his time and do a good job. I thought learning some calligraphy might help. He enjoys art so I called it "artistic writing."

He used his new skill to make valentines for his classmates.

Pretty good for a 10 year old who does not enjoy writing! I had him write this neatly one time then scanned it and printed 24 copies. We made Jolly Rancher lollipops and attached the note to the lollipop bag. He was very excited and proud to take his handmade treats to school today.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quilting for Mom

My mom made this Bento Box quilt and sent it to me for quilting.

I tested a couple of different all-over quilting ideas before deciding to quilt each block separately.

The loopy clamshells just didn't excite me. I really liked the big modern flowers but this quilt is a gift for a man. I don't know how he would feel about having big flowers quilted all over his quilt.

The first couple of blocks took about 20 minutes each to quilt. By the last block (and there are 20) I was down to 15 minutes per block.

For the center four-patch I did what I call "swoopy outlining." For the other two rounds of the blocks I alternated between "back and forth" and "wishbone," both are designs from Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Waters. It is quilted with black Signature 100% cotton 40 wt. thread. I opted for black mainly because of the back.

I also auditioned red, but it didn't really look good on all of the fabrics, the black did. The finished quilt measures about 47" by 59".

Hope you like it Mom!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scrap Solutions

I have a couple of scrap quilting books. I love scraps and scrappy quilts, but my scraps have gotten out of hand. After reading my scrap books I realized that my main problem is that I just throw the scraps in a king size blanket bag instead of dealing with them as I make them. A few months ago I decided to get serious about my "scrap problem."

I started by cutting width of fabric strips from every fabric I could and some squares. I blogged about this here. But this didn't really address my scrap problem. It was just a way to use up older fabrics.

To tackle the scraps I began by cutting a tumbler shape out of every fabric in my scrap bag that was large enough.

I got that tumbler template from a Colorado Springs quilt store when we lived there. That was in 1998 through mid 2000.

Part way through this process I realized that this didn't use up much fabric! I only need a 3.5" by 4" piece to cut a tumbler shape. So I began sorting the rest. Fabrics I really like or have used recently (within the last year) went into a basket.

I'm keeping the ones in the blue basket on the right
Fabrics that were too small to cut a tumbler shape, older fabrics I don't really like, and fabrics that were donated to me and I'm done with went into bags to be given away.

fabrics bagged up to be given away
The blanket bag in the photo above is the king size bag I used to keep scraps in. Before I started this process it was so full that it wouldn't zip closed. I had started a second scrap bag in the blue basket sitting behind the bag that now contains the scraps I'm keeping. Unfortunately I didn't take a before photo. I thought I had, but if I did I can't find it now.

I also have another container of scraps that I'm cutting into 2" and 4" squares.

Next to it is the bag of scraps left over from my Modern Monday quilt. They will get added to this container.

I have a couple of scrap patterns in mind to make with my 2" and 4" squares. Below is one.

This block is called Scrap Jar Star. Click the link to see where I got the idea and for a tutorial to make the block. The tutorial calls for the star points to be made from HSTs. I used my Winger Clipper ruler to make my star points from flying geese units. It is a little harder to get a really scrappy look with my method, but I think with more blocks I can mix up the geese better if I want.

I'm going to try to cut up the rest of the scraps I'm keeping into usable sized pieces instead of just throwing them in a basket or bag. I now have a manageable amount of scraps to attempt to cut up. The overflowing king size blanket bag of scraps was an overwhelming amount of fabric for me to cut up! Giving scraps to someone else is an acceptable technique for scrap management in my book.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Embroidery Hoop Tool Holder

Last week I saw the photo below

Photo from Marika at Live, Laugh, Love ... Sew
used with permission

on one of the blogs I follow, Live, Laugh, Love ... Sew written by the talented Marika. I looked around online for directions and found some on the Sew Daily website. Click here to get them. You may need to register first.

This is how I made mine. It isn't as fancy as Marika's. She obviously pieced hers, which is super cute! This is just my first one so I opted for a bit simpler.

What you need:
  • an embroidery hoop
  • a square of fusible fleece 2" or 3" larger than your hoop
  • two squares of fabric 2" or 3" larger than your hoop 
  • thread
I used a 12" hoop so my fabric and fleece squares were 14". Fuse your background fabric to the fleece. Fold your pocket fabric in half and press. Place your pocket fabric on the bottom half of the background. Lay your hoop and tools on top to figure out your pocket sewing lines and mark them.

Stitch the pockets. I started at the fold and backstitched to reinforce this stress point.

Put this in the hoop.

Put the tools in to make sure everything fits.

There are several ways to finish these. This time, I simply cut everything off even with the back of the hoop. I'm going to use it this way for a while to see if this is sufficient or if I need to do something more permanent. The instructions I linked to above suggested glue between the fabric and the hoop. If anyone has a good suggestion for how to finish this more permanently, I'd love to hear it. Please leave a comment so everyone can benefit from your expertise.

Hang on the wall and enjoy!

Currently this is hanging on one nail. For this to be a good option I should have distributed the weight of my tools better. The rotary cutters are the heaviest and both on the same side which means the nail can't be at the top or the hoop hangs slanted. Another option is two nails spaced a couple of inches apart. Notice that Marika put a ribbon at the top of her hoop to hang it.

I just thought this was so cute! And it was easy too. The one above took me about 30 minutes to make which included picking out the fabric and finding my embroidery hoops.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Learning Something New

Yesterday afternoon I learned how to use Big Louie at my LQS.

I am in no way unhappy with my HQ Sweet 16! The store owner wants all employees to be trained on Louie so we can help customers who come in to use him if we are working that day.

I've been working an extra day at my LQS as needed. Yesterday was one of those days. In the morning we took down all of the Christmas samples we had hanging around the store. I quilted up one of these as my practice piece.

Since this was my first time using a real long arm on a frame, I just did an all-over fairly large meander. I wanted to get comfortable with how the machine moves before trying anything more intricate.

I will bind this and then I don't know what we will do with it. Maybe sell it or donate it to charity.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wednesday edition of Modern Monday

I finished the last three of my Modern Monday blocks yesterday!

Here are blocks 62, 63 & 64:

So I copped out a bit with #64. It is just a 6.5" square of one of my favorite pink print. Jenifer said to do whatever we wanted for the last block and that it would be our signature block. I laid all of my blocks up on my design wall to see if there was anything I really felt needed to be added. There are several other blocks I can use as my signature block and no great ideas for pieced blocks occurred to me. The only thing I felt was lacking was a very simple square so that is what I did.

Here are all of my blocks. These are right out of the bag, no arranging was done.

Originally I thought I would not sash these blocks and sew them together as Jenifer suggested. But then I saw Caroll's blocks all sashed and they look wonderful! She used three different sashing fabrics instead of the recommended two fabrics. I love it with three! I think that might be what I do too, I don't know. I'm going to leave them up on my design wall for a few days to see if anything else occurs to me. If not, I'm going to use white, ash and medium gray Kona solids as my three colors.

Caroll said that she has finished her quilt. Go to Attic Window Quilt Shop blog to see it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Which Witch's Boot - Finished!

Another finish to share this week! Again, I'm thrilled with how this has turned out!

I must admit that I was a bit afraid to quilt this. I've never quilted an embroidery piece before and wasn't quite sure how to quilt it. It has been basted and ready to go for about three weeks waiting for inspiration to strike.

Despite my quilt tester's assistance, I finished the quilting over the weekend.

I used three different thread colors, orange, parchment and shades of grey, all Signature 40 wt. cotton. This is the first time I've used one of the Signature variegated threads. I really like this one!

I quilted lines in orange on the pumpkin fabric following the vertical lines in the fabric. I quilted a spider web in each of the pieced nine patch blocks. I'm really happy with how well those turned out! I just stippled around the embroidery because I didn't want the quilting to compete with the embroidery. The narrow black border got circles and you can see the shades of grey thread pretty well on it. I did the Back and Forth pattern from Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Waters in the outer border. It doesn't show up well because I used the shades of grey there too, but I wanted the fabric to be the focus not the quilting. The finished size is about 38" tall by 39.5" wide.

Now I'm ready for Halloween 2013!