Saturday, May 31, 2008

A solution

Thanks for all your most welcome suggestions in answer to my whining about, "what shall I do with this bargello border?"
I used chalk to find the center (lengthwise) of the border - that is my guideline (allow for binding). Then I used a plate (note tick marks on plate) to start an even winding vine, starting from the corner. Decided to go 3/5 or 2/3 up from one corner and about 1/3 from the same corner going the other way. I'll do the opposite corner the same way.

The first two vines looked like SNAKES, especially after reading about a snake at a blogger's home! Narrowing the vine solved the problem. I then used a plastic pressing bar, then blind-stitched the bias vine in place. IMHO, the leaves should be all the same size and shape, repeating, rhythm, etc., because the bargello was so repetitious, but it needed some curves to soften the strong pattern. My one leaf template was used right side up and up-side down, resulting in a bit of variety.

And then, not being one to leave well enough alone, a divided leaf came to mind, and then why stop with just two greens? It began to show promise! The best use of fabric and easiest method was to make a strata with many greens, and fuse the entire piece, then cut them out, all at one time, rather that fiddle with a few at a time. I'm using Steam-a-Seam Lite (I think there's a "2" in the brand name somewhere - very confusing!). It worked very well.
I eventually rounded the outer tips of the leaves, knowing a point would be difficult to machine stitch. I'm hoping to use a stitch that resembles rough edges -- we'll see what happens with that, but "practice first" is necessary.
More fiddling with color, placement, 1 leaf or two, what about the ends? etc.
The greens are just enough 'not matching' to please me. And I deliberately placed leaves into and over the inner border, to give it more depth.

If you have not messed with fusible applique, give it a try. (I must admit fusible scared and confused me for a long time.) Also, don't throw the fused scraps away - save them in a plastic bag - they are good for a long time, and you never know when you'll need just a bit.

BTW, this was my UFO that I had dragged out of a dusty corner -- a corner I cleaned out as we were expecting company. What's in YOUR corner?

A present to meeeeee

I was the lucky winner of a drawing at Ann's, Quilttilyouwilt blog and this week my goodies arrived! Happy Day! Thank you again, Ann! I plan to definitely USE it to make more-original labels on somelabels of my quilts. Ann also included some teensy paper pieced designs -- whew looks like they finish at 1 inch!

Some days we need a pick-me-up, and this did it for me. A good day.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New tote bag

I promised myself I was NOT going to purchase another iron, after the last one's Steam feature lasted less than 4 months, despite me following the directions for the appropriate water. Well, I couldn't stand it any longer, having to spray with a bottle, then press, spray more, etc. The purchase of a new iron gave me a 'lift', and an incentive to cover my board with something fresh and clean. This ticking came out of my stash of "free stuff." I've learned to use a cover with stripes -- it makes a handy pressing guide.

My tote bag is well used/well loved. The best part of this bag is that it holds my 18 x 22 inch cutting mat. And, it is extremely strong! That webbing goes all around and could probably hold a toddler! The handle can go over shoulders or carry in your hands.
Some quilting gals have commented about my 'old' one, and Quilt Guild is asking for items for a Silent Auction, so ... I'll make another - the pattern is from this Singer book.

This is NOT quick and easy, but it IS extremely durable and strong. There is a lining, an inner lining, batting, four 9-inch blocks, webbing and fabric. No new materials were used in this tote - all was stash, and pieced batting.
It's made like a large panel. I added 2 Star blocks and 2 Contrary Wife blocks with a minimum of machine quilting. Sewing down that webbing was slow going is a couple of places, but my machine went along just fine. Oh, if you purchase webbing, do NOT press it!!! I added 2 outer pockets, and there is one inside.

I chose to make it somewhat patriotic, as the Silent Auction is in July, -- well I need to use that brushed denim too!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bargello Borders

I am so proud of myself -- in preparation for expected guests (who unfortunately could not come), I cleaned out a corner and resurrected this UFO(and a few others also). The corner is dusted and this project is back on "go".

Even though I knew how to do this technique, it was still enjoyable to take the class with my quilt-y sisters! A guild member, Judy Woodworth, gave the class. Judy is a quilt artist, and a long-arm professional machine quilter, and we're all happy when she's able to lead a class. DO look at her web page. She often teams up with another member, Mary Sue Suit, another guild member, artist and author of several quilt books. (I am name dropping today!)

The floral was my focus fabric, but as is often the case, after the quilt is together, my focus fabric is no longer appropriate. While the colors are right, it appears kinda light and air-y, while the quilt itself is bold and strong. So back to the quilt shop, where I decided to insert a narrow (1 inch) peachy strip, then that pale creamy polka dot with floral applique added? (seen on the bottom of the photo), and now, looking at my own photo, more possibilities are coming to mind. Dang it, these numerous artistic options require more work!!! Now, I'm thinking of rummaging for my scraps from the center and making a pieced border after the peach/creamy polka dot border. Maybe I'll use the floral for the back.

Suggestions from the peanut gallery would be just fine!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Bestest Day

Saturday was Quilt Guild Day, and we local quilters were fortunate to meet right here in my town - no time lost for traveling! I had signed up for the class afterwards.

We started with an incredible 'snack' although it was more like a country-club brunch. The Hostess Committee outdid themselves!!! Thanks gals!

Next on the agenda was the regular business meeting, always necessary to keep a group informed and growing, as a Guild. At one point near the end of the meeting, the speaker, dear Sandy, called me up to the podium ... huh??? me ... wonder why we're doing that? I no longer have an active part in the meeting since retiring as Newsletter Editor a few months back. Was I in for a surprise!

Sandy is on the right, me on the left, receiving an appreciation quilt for the years I published the guild newsletter, a job I LOVED!
Isn't this the most delightful quilt, signed by many of the guild members!!! It WAS the bestest surprise!!! The triangles are all 3 dimensional, and look how the colors blend from bright to dark. It even has the hanging sleeve already affixed! Did I have another good day? "You betcha" as Nebraskans say!

But wait, there's more to my Bestest Day!

Our class afterwards was called Ironworks, by Jo Waldman. She's another blogger, author and very creative woman with a number of books to her credit. This time I found her ideas so clever, I'm taking some of her ideas ideas back to the guild, to start a new sub-group for Art Quilters (well, many of us don't know what that IS, but I'm wanting to start working in that direction!)

Now, our class was wonderful, new ideas, new concepts, and by the time the day was over, I was exhausted, and Elaine Adair is deliriously happy and content! Here is my Ironworks, near completion. This will be trimmed on the outside and bound with black, and quilted. One snafu is when it was discovered that our fusible width is no longer 18 inches in width, but 17 inches -- however we managed.
As if all that was not enough, when I arrived home, there was a large USPostal box on the counter. I couldn't even open it, being already so happy and content, but next morning, here is my parcel from Quilt in a Day. They had this gigantic special (thanks Nancy, for mentioning it), 10 one -yard cuts for $25.00 and there were about 8 color choices - I chose RED, and ordered that light check to go with them all. Shipping was about $11.00. I ordered it either Wednesday or Thursday, and it arrived Saturday. Every time I've ordered from Quilt in a Day, it has arrived VERY QUICKLY!

Life is good. (Please, remind me of this day when I have a downer!)

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Good Day!

I won, I won, I won something! Ann of offered a giveaway and just guess WHO won a book that I will definitely use? Yeppers. ME! I'll show it when it arrives. Happy Day!

(Just updated with the address ...)
Next good thing -- my Patsy Thompson DVD on machine quilting arrived several days ago and I've been glued to the Lazy Boy, wanting to absorb the gentle flowing feeling she demonstrates. This particular DVD is on leaves and vines. She has a number of DVDs and the video samples are very tempting!
I've tried a long-arm, just once, and decided that was too much machine for me, too fast, and too much fiddling. (any excuse for not being successful!) And besides, my house is too small, blah, blah, etc. And after all, the Queen of machine quilting is Diane Gaudynski, and she does her precision quilting on a DSM.

The DVD is really wonderful - I wish it had gone on another 2 hours. I am amazed my first efforts using her suggestions were not THAT difficult. The problems I had were that I can't always see what I'm doing (thread matches fabric) or the foot gets in the way of the planned design, and tonight, I had so much JUNK on my machine bed, and was too lazy to move it (to where????) so THAT impeded smooth flow, but here's how it turned out.

These are 4 practice blocks.
I did each quadrant differently. One is a feather, with swoopy curliques to fill empty spaces, the next was a leafy stem, heavily filled, then a leafy stem lightly filled, and finally, a fill of hearts and loops. The last one is what I've done for a long time, never courageous enough to get beyond my one successful design. Previously a 'style' totally escaped me, never knowing what style to use for what type of quilt.

This will be Show and Tell at Guild meeting Saturday.

One more thing - I sew on a Janome 6500 and I don't know how it happens, but every thread I've used on that machine for quilting does just fine. Every thread I put in the bobbin (reasonable) does just fine. And even the combinations, with no forethought, have done just fine. I am NOT a fusser -- good thing! I don't do ANY adjusting - it just does one great job! (Hope I haven't jinxed myself with bragging on my machine!)

A good day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jekyl and Hyde

These cute little visitors may not be quite what we’ve been thinking.

For the last few days, we’ve been watching a pair of doves building their nest, very visible from our deck, about 8 feet off the ground, in an evergreen tree. It was a pitiful nest, sparse, so we thought this might be a young dove. Yesterday, DH said there was no dove was sitting -- strange -- but one single egg was perched precariously on the edge of the nest. DH gently pushed it back into the center of the nest. Minutes later, I returned from work and he mentioned the dove was not on the nest, so I took a look. As I came near the tree, I noticed a squirrel dropping down the trunk of that tree -- we’ve NEVER seen squirrels in that tree before - strange. Looking at the nest, it was empty. No dove, no egg.

I searched for a broken egg on the ground, directly under the nest -- no luck, but on the ground 10 feet from the trunk, well away from under the nest, was one egg, freshly broken, with only a dab of yolk in it. And just WHO do we think the perpetrator is?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Going to my 'local' quilt shop

You might remember that I live waaaay out in western Nebraska. We do NOT have traffic problems here and are very modern with our 5 traffic lights! There are many benefits to a small town - the one I like best is that people know each other. The tradespeople are honest and dependable or they can't stay in business long. I meet friends and acquaintances everywhere I go in town, something that was new to me when I came.

We have a lovely shop in town with lots of quilt supplies as well as other gift items, but today, I'm driving to my other 'local' quilt shop. Come along, we have time to visit during the long drive of over 50 miles!

Leaving town, we pass the John Deere dealership.
Looks like weather is building to the west - we always look for rain, but NOT hail. So far, I have NO hail dents on my car!
Seventy-five percent of the residents are employed by the railroad (BNSF). At first I thought I was hearing thunder, but learned later that was the trains. Here comes one now.

These trains are loaded with coal, that's all, and are 130 cars long. That's 1 and 1/3 miles long. They come from Wyoming, and from the number of trains that run through, it's a wonder there is anything left of Wyoming. I believe that Kansas is their destination.

Storms are building -- we all pray for a good rain.
There's the treeline (below) where I turn off the highway onto the gravel road. I do NOT make this trip when winter brings rutty roads, or I will call ahead of time to ask for road conditions.

More open spaces and hay bales. I think these stacks of hay cut down winter drifting.
More irrigation pivots - they are a necessity.
There it is -- see waaay in the background the silver roof? That's where I'm going.

By now, the skies are looking very threatening and I'm starting to get worried, and did not take any more photos. A quick trip inside, and check on the local weather radar, and I dashed back home, running into sporadic downpours, slushy snow showers, sunshine, and absolutely NO rain at home, but also, NO HAIL!

Hope you enjoyed the ride!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Curved Piecing

I've shown this recently, but some of you are saying curves are too hard, and I want to say, No, they are not. So here goes some instructions which you might find encouraging.

First, this is where I'm heading. This is a Terry Adkinson design and templates, called Winning Bouquet. I've made about 24 blocks, got sidetracked with another project, but I'm back working on it. It's an interesting design, and can be both a positive image or a negative image.

This is the block. I'm not showing the little corner units, but they go together in the same way as the 30's print, added to the white shape.

Curves are not hard, but they take a little time -- it is NOT speed piecing, but I pieced each block in 5 minutes or so.

First, the green (below) will be pieced to the white. I'm using my 1/4 inch foot, regular white thread, regular pressure on the presser foot, etc. (Ignore the little bit of blue fabric - probably fell out of my hair!)

Use needle down position, and if you have it, USE YOUR KNEE LIFT HERE WITH RIGHT KNEE, AND LEFT FOOT ON PEDAL. If you've not used both feet, you are losing efficiency. It only takes a little bit of practice -- remember learning to play the piano?

Find the middle of each piece by folding each in half and finger press it with your nail to make a crease. Handle gentle, but don't get paranoid. Bias edges can be stretched wrong but it can also be your friend, as in this project. Do NOT stretch anything here - it WILL go together just fine.
I pin the beginning, middle and end (some people don't pin at all!).

Sew slowly, about 4 stitches each time, and use a sharp pointy thing to keep the right edges aligned and keep poking the fabric under the foot - you're not causing pleats, just poking it under to help it along. My sharp tool is something left from high school biology, for dissecting frogs. I've added our anniversary cork on the handle so it's easier to find in my cup of tools.

Each time I stop, I rearrange with my left hand, causing it to ripple on the left, but keeping it flat along the sewn seam. And here it is, nice and neat (unpressed for now). I am using care with pressing, being sure to press with the grain line of the fabric. So far, after 28 blocks, I've not had to unsew even one seam.

The little corner units are handled the same way, finding center, sewing slowly a few stitches, stopping and using your sharp tool to keep the right edges aligned.

I think I want to do a Drunkard's Path next ...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Turning a Corner

My title means "turning" from winter to spring, but today, you sure can't tell. Blizzard conditions, white out, people staying home, schools closed, etc. Our weather alert kept going off. Fortunately for me living in town, this kind of weather is usually not a problem, but out on the ranches, where there is nothing to break the wind, watch out! And I am hearing of much more serious weather conditions in the central U.S.

These are my poor little tulips, all encrusted with ice and snow, and then they were practically blown to bits.
In order to take a decent photo, the photographer should have laid ???, lain ???, reclined... ? on ground level -- NOT!

If you are not bored with my enthusiastic photos of the newly learned Ribbon Border, or if you didn't read a previous post, here is what it looks like in process. The important thing is to use an even number of blocks, then add the corner. That's about as difficult as this border gets but of course, keep your units the same scale. I.e, my blocks were 6 inches, my border 3 inches, and my Ribbon Border units 3 inches (all finished measurements). The last block on the right has to have the darker color on the right. The back of the block, lower left of the below photo, is shown for pressing purposes. Just press to the dark on the units and each one abuts very nicely to the next one. I designed these the old fashioned way, with regular quilt math, NOT any special rulers. Ya know, sometimes figuring out those rulers is more work then just learning to do it the 'right' way!

I'm liking it a lot, and kicking myself for thinking it was difficult. Silly.

Two sides done. I'll add an outer border to finish it off, probably white.

Oh, one more thing - what is it with Blogger and the new verification 'letters'? I can barely read them and it takes me up to 5 tries to guess what they are correctly. Anyone else having this difficulty?