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Making chicken salad…

… out of chicken scraps. Long ago and far away, my friend Rita F. gave me a baggie full of half-square triangles abandoned by other quilters. I used them, adding some of my own, to make a small top for a donation quilt.

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I was just going to sandwich this so I could practice some ruler work with my new foot and ruler; however, I thought it was awfully dull and searched through my stash. I found this piece which was going to be used for clothing–that never happened but it makes a pretty cool border.

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Stay tuned for part 2, quilting Chicken Salad. Till next time…

Christmas Quilt

Well I decided that there would be no Fun Friday last week and worked on my Christmas quilt.

Block 16

Block 16/16

All of the tree blocks are quilted and I’m practicing some free-motion designs for the border. Here are my practice pieces, starting with poinsettias (used up some pink thread and almost-empty bobbins). I like the poinsettia but not the meandering in-between.

Poinsettia motif

Poinsettia motif

Here are some other designs I’ve started playing with. So far I’m leaning toward the tree/snowflake motifs. The trunk of the trees will come out from the inner seam of the border.

Tagline, practice border quilting, holly, trees/snowflakes

Tagline, practice border quilting, holly, trees/snowflakes

Practice border quilting, trees/presents

Practice border quilting, trees/presents

Practice border quilting, trees/presents

Practice border quilting, trees/presents

Is this pieced binding not cool? Not.

Pieced binding

Pieced binding

Strip piecing

Strip piecing

Well, yes, it’s cool but it’s so not happening. Perhaps if I pressed the seams open (perhaps not). Perhaps if I cut wider strips to begin with (perhaps not). I had to use less than 1/4-inch seam and it tends to stretch funkily–is that even a word. I’ll repurpose this strip-pieced set and go with some Christmas polka dot fabric I have.

Binding fabric

Binding fabric

When I’m not working on the Christmas quilt, I’m spending part of every day weaving in thread ends on Self-Portrait II. I’ll take a break from my pile of Christmas projects as soon as that’s done. I should be able to finish my Christmas tree quilt this week. It’s a busy week–my husband has pre-op for one cataract surgery, I’m teaching a young person to sew, and there will be a new exhibit at Crystal Bridges (American Made Folk Art), which I’ll be previewing on Fun Friday.  All of us local makers are excited. Throw in exercise, cooking, and cleaning and I’ll be ready for another vacation. Till next time, I hope you’re surviving the heat, the floods, the politics, Brexit, and the mayhem and chaos that is our world.

 

 

The Self-Portrait 1 Project

The Self-Portrait #1 Project is finished except for binding and label. The label is on the computer waiting for the page to fill up and I haven’t decided on the binding yet. This was a challenge quilt with my art quilt group. We hope to put all of our self-portraits onto black fabric and perhaps enter it as a group quilt. We’ll see. Progress has been slow with the other members. I was excited about this quilt because I actually had an idea, using a sugar skull rather than a real-life likeness. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. The problems started when I went to quilt this project. I had used Lite Steam-A-Seam II and it was all working out well. I followed the directions for permanent fusing, steaming for 15 seconds. I didn’t realize that it had not fused properly until the needle kept gumming up. Break out the alcohol swabs and one broken needle later. When I went to clean my machine, I noticed that the outside of the bobbin case was gummed up but luckily there was only one bit of goo that went further than that.

goo in machine from fusible

goo in machine from fusible

goo on bobbin case from fusible

goo on bobbin case from fusible

goo cleaned up with alcohol swab

goo cleaned up with alcohol swab

Because the needle was gumming up, some of the quilting was not stellar on the back, especially where I used mono-poly clear–little nests appeared. I just finished the project and it will hang in my studio. In the meantime, I contacted the Warm Company and they told me that the new directions are to steam for 30 seconds. Fine, but my directions didn’t reflect that. Anyway, I’ll get over it and you can benefit. Of course, it always helps to do a trial with any fusible. For Self-Portrait #2 I took scraps of all of my hand dyed fabrics and fused them without much success for whatever reason. I also took leftover flowers and fused them into a little wall hanging and had very little stickiness on my needle. I steamed for 30 seconds on the front of the project (protecting with parchment paper) and then again on the reverse. I used this project to practice matchstick quilting with letters. Here it is–also needs binding and a label. I’m still figuring out how to do lettering.

Matchstick quilting

Matchstick quilting

So back to the self-portrait. I remembered I had some Kreinik iron-on ribbon. I could not find this anywhere so it must be a discontinued item. Originally it was sticky on one side so you could put it in place and then iron it down. I didn’t know if it would fuse and which side had the fusible but at this point it didn’t seem to matter.  I used my small craft iron to outline the green flowers on the face as well as the outside edges of the face, stitched it down for insurance and then cleaned up the fusible afterward. Just use Bo-Nash Iron Clean–works great on your regular iron, too. You can find this on a number of sites including Amazon.

Krienik ribbon

Kreinik iron-on ribbon

Next, I basted the little sunflower petals down so I could pull them back out of the way to free-motion the larger petals in place.

Quilting the sunflower

Quilting the sunflower

After free-motion stitching the small petals down, I fused the brown center. I embellished this with a new product I found on my trip to Paducah: YLI Quilt Highlights. This is a braid that you can sew on flat, or pull one thread to gather it up.  I got a neutral spool (used here), a rainbow spool and one in white that I can dye any color I want. Yeehaw.

http://www.ylicorp.com/News.aspx

YLI Quilt Highlights

YLI Quilt Highlights

Here I basted this down just to see how to sew it–then unsewed it and resewed it to my project. You can also see my practice quilting. I didn’t need much practice–I have made two sunflower quilts previously.

Next I tackled the face. I used a white-on-white fabric that is covered with flowers. I brought out my Tsukineko inks and decided I had better used my Fabrico fabric markers instead–much easier-there were a lot of flowers to color in and I wanted paler colors. I’ll be experimenting more with the inks on Self-Portrait II.

Tsukineko Inks

Tsukineko Inks

Adding details

Adding details

Fabrico markers

Fabrico markers

After I finished all the quilting, I added some Angelina fibers. I did not do any fusing with them but left them loose.  I stuck them under some flower centers and quilted them in place. They remind me of fireworks but one is the planet formerly known as Pluto.

Angelina fibers

Angelina fibers

pluto, crystal amethyst angelina

pluto, crystal amethyst Angelina

Threads, thread holder

Threads, thread holder

I used a lot of threads for quilting. The one on the holder gave me problems until I put it on the horizontal spindle. Some threads are picky that way. Here is the quilting I did on the background.

quilting detail

quilting detail

And here it is all finished.

Self-Portrait/Sugar Skull, quilted/embellished

Self-Portrait/Sugar Skull, quilted/embellished

Reverse

Reverse

I almost forgot–one day as I was listening to space age music and quilting, random thoughts kept running through my head so I finally stopped and wrote them down on a blank page in my Wreck This Journal.

http://www.amazon.com/Wreck-This-Journal-Black-Expanded/dp/0399161945

After I’m gone, when my job here is done, I’ll be buried in my mushroom suit, and weird wildflowers never before seen or named will sprout up along with daisies and Icelandic poppies and wind anemones and Johnny jump ups will play all day long and maybe into the night and Pluto will once again be a planet and you’ll find tan m&ms in your Halloween candy because they taste the best. In my new world there will be eclipses every month and stars will nova every night, everyone will be kind, color blind and rewind. More people will be artists of some kind and have Fun Fridays and Silly Saturdays and stuff like that. 4.30.2016.

I’m going to print this poem out and put it on the back with the label. I really had a lot of fun with this project and tried a lot of new things.

Till next time, embrace your weird.

 

The Redwork Quilt

My progress on handwork is going rather slowly, so after the 4th of July weekend, and getting three rooms partially ready for new flooring, I put some serious time into quilting my Redwork Quilt.  I did straight-line quilting in the center redwork medallion, then some free-motion meandering flowers and leaves in the red border, and then straight-line quilting on either side of the seam lines in the pieced border (scrappy 1-1/2 inch finished squares).  See the previous post for photos.  Then I added yet more quilting to the center medallion to help it to lie flatter.  All that remained was the 4-inch black border.

There was a lot of lint from the batting on the black Kona so I used masking tape to clean it up and then pinned the edges to keep it relatively clean while quilting.  Making a tube with the masking tape was fairly ineffective.  Placing a long strip and running your hand across works much better.  A large lint roller would be even better if you have one.

Masking tape

Masking tape

Better masking tape

Better masking tape

Pinning edges

Pinning edges

border practice

border practice

After practicing the same meandering flower design, and choosing a variegated black and red thread, I started and 6-inches in, decided that the tension was not right and the design just wasn’t filling the space like I wanted.  Back to the drawing board.  I took out my Pajama Quilter Reloaded book and found a design I liked: flowers, leaves and ribbons.  I also changed to a solid red thread.  It isn’t perfect but it is finished and the binding is put on.  More handwork for my poor arthritic hands but for now, I still only machine quilt the binding on donation quilts and potholders.  Because of the overstitching in the flowers and leaves (only two of each, thank goodness), it took me 2-1/2 hours of ripping and then the afternoon to quilt all the way around.

frog stitch remains

frog stitch remains

Here is part of the border, showing flowers, leaves and ribbons.  I see the PajamaQuilter Reloaded and PajamaQuilter Rethreaded workbooks/DVDs are sold out.  You can check out Dawn Ramirez’ quilts at http://www.sewdawnfun.com/.  I like her idea of practicing on a whiteboard before stitching on a quilt sample–this is really helpful for a new or complex design and you can just totally erase what you don’t like at any time and start over.

Here is part of the outer border before binding.

outer border finished

outer border finished

Till next time, expand your horizons and try something new–a new quilt design, a new recipe, a new technique, a new skill.  This will keep your craft more interesting, fight boredom, and perhaps, prevent dementia.  If it’s frustrating, it’s good for you.

Quilted UFOs – The Swoon Block

Last spring, our local modern quilt guild had a work night and we learned how to make a Swoon Block.  Here is the link for this pattern by Camille Roskelley from Thimble Blossoms. http://thimbleblossoms.bigcartel.com/product/swoon-pattern-142-pdf-pattern

One of our members had made an entire scrappy quilt with these large blocks—mine finishes at 24-1/4 inches square after quilting.  You can find a Swoon-Along on Flickr for more ideas and photos.  Backing up a little, late last summer, I had layered several quilts so I could get some serious quilting done over the winter.  That didn’t happen then but it’s happening now.  I did start quilting my Christmas quilt so I would have it finished in time for Christmas, but that didn’t happen and I’m not quite in the mood to work on it right now.

After angsting for a day on how to quilt the center star, I decided that I wouldn’t.  I chose fabrics with high contrast and I want that star to stand out.

Swoosh Block

Swoon Block

I hitched up the walking foot and pulled out some smoke mono-poly and quilted in the ditch around the star.  This turned out to be a good choice as the smoke doesn’t show up too much on the light backing fabric.  Here is the back—it looks as if I missed some lines but it just didn’t show up in the photo.

Swoosh Block Stitch in Ditch

Swoon Block Stitch in Ditch

Next I quilted the dark areas of the corners.  I drew out on paper how to stitch this entire section without breaking the thread—sometimes I’m a genius.

Swoosh Corner Detail

Swoon Corner Detail

Then I switched to pale yellow around the outside, finishing with Leah Day’s wandering clover design.  This is #13 in 365 Days of Free-Motion Quilting Designs.  http://www.leahday.com/project1/  I did not have enough pale yellow fabric to bind this block and considered using the same fabric as the back, but finally decided to use the batik fabric in the blocks and this set it off pretty nicely.  I will show a final photo after I finish the handwork.  Oh, and my thoughts for quilting that center star (more Leah Day designs).

308 Pom Pom Parade

308 Pom Pom Parade

226 Layered Flower

226 Layered Flower

247 Graffiti Art Curved

247 Graffiti Art Curved

And finally #365 Infinity Tree.  This was my first attempt—the tree is a little scary but I rather like it.

365 Infinity Tree

365 Infinity Tree

I started something new as I quilted my Swoon block.  I knotted and wove in thread ends as I went.  I usually wait until the end and do them all at once which can be kind of overwhelming.  Why it took me so long to start doing this is beyond me.  The quilt that I finished last spring still has boucoups thread ends to hide.  It also has another problem (or two) which I think I’m finally ready to tackle, fix and finish.  Watch for my post on Windows on Spring (working title) and its companion table runner, Gelato.

In between projects, I tried out my rolled-hem foot for a tablecloth I embroidered.

Rolled Hem Practice

Rolled Hem Practice

Rolled Hem Practice

Rolled Hem Practice

My next post will show you another UFO—The Redwork Quilt.  It’s a personal favorite.  Till then, here’s a quote for the day.

Neither genius, fame, nor love show the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that.

-Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, preacher, journalist, and activist (1802-1861)

Fifth time’s the charm…

I mentioned that I wanted to make a reversible, two-fabric binding for my current project.  I had a couple handouts and there are myriad tutorials on-line, but I wanted my binding to be 1/4-inch on each side.  Well, in order to make this happen, you need to trim the batting and I wanted to make this easy to handle and turn smoothly.  The photos are my first attempt, so the fabric widths are different from what I will tell you, but the method will be the same.  You must already know how to attach a quilt binding before tackling this technique.  If you would like a binding tutorial, email me and I will provide one from another project.  Practice this rather advanced method first before tackling an entire quilt.

1. First decide on a fabric that matches or complements the quilt top.  Cut this strip 7/8-inch on the straight of grain.

2. Decide on a fabric that matches or complements the quilt back.  Cut this strip 1-1/8-inches on the straight of grain.

3. Fold and press the back strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together.

4. Sew the folded strip to the front strip using a scant 1/4-inch seam, right sides together.

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5. Press the seam open.

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6. Attach the binding to the quilt, sewing the front binding strip right sides together, using a scant 1/4-inch seam.

7. Fold the binding to the back.  In the example, I have machine stitched from the front, using matching threads for the top and bottom fabrics.  For my quilt, I will hand sew the binding down on the back.

Here is my first trial before stitching.

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and after:

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This is what I did not like: the back flap is much wider than the front.  I found these clips from Clover on clearance.  I got them because I was having trouble sewing a make-up bag with a vinyl lining–I think these will work better than my usual hair clips and certainly better than pins when using vinyl.

Here is my final try–everything turned easily and laid flat, except that the back stitching is uneven–if I stitch by hand, it will look much better.

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I am sewing these bindings to a free-motion practice piece.  This is one of my chagrine n bear it animals.

ChagrineCat

ChagrineCat

ChagrinePig2

ChagrinePig2

This is the final pig design.  Here are some of my fmq practice designs.

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I started meandering using a twin needle on one of my quilts.  The needle broke and I didn’t have another one the same size to continue.  I’ll talk about this in another post–it’s just too painful right now (just kidding).  My job is done here for today.  Tomorrow, I will finish the quilting on the challenge table runner.  All of my energy today went into figuring out the binding

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:

All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.  — Isak Dinesen