Monday, August 30, 2010

Design Wall Monday 8-30-10 - The Wedding Quilt

My design wall today is a design countertop in my kitchen. This pile of bags and fabric is the wedding quilt I'm making for Laura and Ruben. So far I have about 70% of the fabrics cut out and sorted into one block per bag and I have the bags in order of color placement because that is key to this quilt design. Then I discovered I was 1/2 yard short on the white fabric. Uh Oh! Will try to remedy that situation today. I also made a test block using scraps just to see if I would run into any issues. I don't normally make a test block but I don't have much fabric overage in case of errors so I'm treading carefully.

Also on my design ironing board is the foundation paper pieced wall hanging "Sunshine" - it is the Maryland star from Carol Doak's book on the 50 stars of the 50 states. It will be 9 blocks plus a border of some kind that is yet to be decided. I worked on it yesterday evening then got up at 5 this morning to work on it a bit more. It should go together easily.

Over the weekend I finished this baby quilt (Megan Lee) for a neighbor. I don't typically do "baby" quilts because I feel the child outgrows them so quickly. I prefer to do something I hope the child can grow with. So, instead of using baby fabrics and pinks, I opted for a soothing green palette with a few pink flowers and even a bit of blue.

And I finished this quilt for my bed, "Summer's Folly". A totally unplanned effect was how well the quilt and my collection of glass hens go together. This is a random Irish Chain design made from shirting fabrics and a tone-on-tone white.
Next Monday I hope to be showing a finished "Sunshine" quilt top and major progress on the wedding quilt.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Is Your Favorite Part of the Quilting Process?

I'm trying to think if there is a part of the process I don't like.

I guess if I had to name a least favorite part it would be cutting out the fabric, however, I love the organizing part - cutting all the fabric and organizing it to make assembling the blocks go smoother, making sure I have all the pieces and parts I needs.

I really enjoy the design process and selecting the fabrics. I enjoy having someone in mind for a quilt and then designing a quilt specifically for them.

I enjoy assembling the blocks and watching the quilt grow as I continue to build it on the design wall.

I enjoy sewing together the rows and watching the design appear.

I enjoy adding the borders aqnd seeing the finishing steps starting to take place.

I enjoy dropping it off at the machine quilter (Lilly Lucier, Vanceboro, NC) and chatting with her about quilt designs, threads, etc.

I absolutely love it when Lilly calls to tell me she has finished my quilt.

It thrills me to unfold the quilted top at Lilly's and see how it has transformed.

I enjoy sewing on the binding and the quiet joy of whipstitching it down to a finished look.

And finally, I enjoy selecting a name, creating a label and sewing it onto the finished quilt back.

But probably my favorite part is when I give the quilt as a gift and I see in the eyes of the recipient the pleasure that quilt brings to them.

So, I guess I like the whole process.
The two quilts in this photo were returned to me today by Lilly. One is a baby quilt ("Megan Lee"), and one is a bed size quilt for my bed ("Summer's Folly"). The binding is on. All that's left to do is whipstitch the binding and add the labels. I'll have them finished by the weekend! Then photos for my scrapbook.

Do You Like Your Sewing Machine?

After totally wearing out a little Brother sewing machine I bought at Walmart for $80, I purchased this $500 Pfaff about 3 years ago. I have to say, it's been a bit of a love-hate relationship from the get-go. 90% of the time I like my machine but it does have some pretty annoying quirks. It tends to get jammed and knotted when I first start sewing so I usually have to use a fabric scrap (starty/stoppy) to keep that from happening. That's just a nuisance to me. Second, when the thread spool or bobbin thread get low, this machine can do some funky things which causes me to have to stop sewing and reload everything.

What I like about this machine is that it's mechanical, not computerized. So if/when it needs servicing the local shop I purchased it from can do the servicing.

Also what I like about this machine is that it's super easy to pack up and take with me.

For the last couple of weeks my machine has been having bobbin issues ... lots of knotting up. It's quite frustrating. Before I begin sewing tonight I'm going to give the machine a good cleaning, reload everything, load up about 10 bobbins with off-white thread, and replace the needle. Kind of start "anew" - maybe that will help.

Pot Pinchers

Update 8-25-10: Linking to Hoo's Got Talent. Also linking to Someday Crafts.
This original pattern is actually a fish design - the pot pinchers are shaped/decorated like fish heads. And while that was what originally drew me to the pattern, I decided for the trial run pair I'd just make them kind of plain and I'm glad I did. I discovered several ways the pattern instructions could be improved. First, stack all the fabrics and insulbrite layers in the order needed and cut them out at one time instead of individually. Second, though the pattern calls for making your own bias binding, unless you really want a specific fabric, store-bought double fold binding would work just as good. Third, the pattern says the rickrack is optional - I think it's needed or something other type of embellishment or the edge looks unfinished. Will I make these again? Probably.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Design Wall Monday 8-22-10

I'm linking to Patchwork Times today.

What a fabulous sewing weekend. The Night & Day quilt top is finished and the machine quilter (Lilly Lucier, Vanceboro, NC) will pick it up Tuesday. This is a lapsize quilt and the main block is the Indiana Star from Carol Doak's foundation paper piecing book featuring the 50 stars of the 50 states. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. The little white piping line adds a lot of oomph to it. I would describe this quilt as "active".

I also finished the quilt top for my cousin Ernie that my cousin Patricia and I are making together. I had finished my half a couple of weeks ago. So all I had to do was connect the two halves and add the white border. Lilly will also pick up this quilt top on Tuesday. There is still a bit more to do to it once Lilly finishes machine quilting it. I'll bind it and send it back to Patricia and she will applique onto the border the handprints of all of Ernie's children and grandchildren.

I've debated whether or not to discuss this quilt in my blog since it's a wedding gift for my friend Laura and her husband, Ruben, and I know that Laura reads my blog. I've gone back and forth about it but in the end I decided that though Laura and Ruben won't be surprised, I think they'll enjoy the whole design process. So here it is in the beginning stages. The inspiration is a jelly roll of South Seas Batik fabric called Ocean Mist. Laura and Ruben live in Charleston, so the name Ocean Mist is appropriate. I've sketched the block I like and have calculated out the quilt size and fabric needs. That's it so far. Later this week or this weekend I'll make a "test" block just to see how I like it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hat Flowers

I have really been into making fabric flowers lately. It's a great way to use up small fabric scraps and the whole technique thing continues to evolve. This is the simplest of all the flowers I've made and is, I think, the cutest. Certainly a cute and fun way to dress up a hat or purse. I have even pinned up all the flowers I've made (around 16-18 so far) on the valance in my laundry closet just to give it a fun and happy look. Today I'm linking to Someday Crafts.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Design Wall Monday feature Night & Day

Am linking today to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times. I've managed to get a bit more accomplished on Night & Day, and it is currently on my design wall. Now I'm able to see how the stars "float" when the blocks are put together. I'm set on doing the black border, and I've just about decided to add white piping between the blocks and borders. I think I'll use the black & white print fabric for the binding. The finished quilt will be 3x4 blocks so it will be a large lap-size quilt - I'm guessing about 48" x 60". The tempation to add a bit of red is so strong but I'm trying to resist and just keep to the black & white. Working on all 8 block sections "assembly-line-style" has made it much easier but each block still takes 1.5 - 2 hours to complete.

In the meantime, I went to the Triangles class on Saturday and learned so much. I made a tablerunner which will be a Bunco prize when I host Bunco in October. The class was held at Cotton Fields and we had 8 students so it was a very full class but lots of fun. This tablerunner is around 3.5 feet long so it is a good size.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bats In My Belfry

Well, not my belfry, but I do have a little bat living in one of my bluebird boxes. I discovered the little bugger yesterday while mowing the yard. I've declared her to be female and have named her Ms. Betty Bat. I'm hoping (hint hint son) to get a bat box for my birthday this year (are you listening son?).

Ms. Betty Bat was sleeping peaceful at the front part of the bluebird box but when I opened it she turned around and scurried to the back corner, so this photo is of her back side.

We'll leave her alone now - let her sleep in peace. I hope she hangs around for a while.
P.S. - I apologize - I realized 2 days later that I forgot to download the photo of Ms. Betty Bat to this posting.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back on Night & Day

I have to confess that I've gotten seriously waylaid lately making a gazillion small projects - oven hot pads, lots and lots of handbags, lots of pillows, lots of fabric flower brooches - but now Night & Day is back on my design wall.
The last time I did a paper piecing project was a few weeks ago when I was sewing together the label block for Southern Rhapsody, which was a small version of one of the quilt blocks and it was paper pieced. I made a startling discovery ... at least it was startling to me. Instead of sewing on a piece of fabric then jumping up to go to the ironing board to iron it, then going to the cutting table to cut it and add the next piece, then back to the sewing machine ... well, you get the picture - for a block with 96 pieces that 96 jump-up-&-down trips. When doing the label block, however, I discovered that it's just as fast to work on all the block sections at one time instead of each block section individually, so it's 12 jump-up-&-down trips instead of 96. I'm not explaining this well ... but believe me, it saved a lot of physical energy - didn't save any time, just physical energy.
Anyway, I have 11 more blocks to piece together on Night & Day. It will be a lap quilt and will be surrounded by a black border - I haven't decided yet whether or not to do the binding in black or white. I'm also toying with the idea of adding a thin strip of piping between the blocks and the border. I think it might make everything "pop" just a little more. I'm really digging the black & white though.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Scarf, Hat and Fingerless Gloves Set

Finished! I'm definitely keeping this set for moi and think it will look great with a jean jacket. The directions for the potato chip scarf are from an earlier blog. The directions for the cap came from the inside of the label on the Lion Brand "Amazing" yarn. The directions for the fingerless gloves came from the Lion Brand web site. All three pieces were very enjoyable knitting projects. I'm putting the set away, though, until the weather chills off a bit.

Am linking to Get Your Craft On Tuesday. Last week there were over 300 delightful projects links to this site. It's a great source for inspiration.

Update 8-4-10 - Linking to Night Owl Crafting for Hoo's Got Talent.

Update later 8-4-10 - Linking to Someday Crafts for her Wednesday link party

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Purse

I had so much fun making this little purse. It went together so well and is a good size - it's about 4" x 10" - large enough to carry my phone, debit card, drivers' license, keys, a pen - and tucks easily under my arm. Plus, I think it's darn cute! This is so going on my list of things I can make quickly and easily (less than an hour, start to finish) for gifts and Bunco prizes. I also made the fabric flower brooches - am sporting the black & white flower on my fedora today. The flowers are also fast to make - it's almost as easy to make 6 flower brooches as it is to make 1. And both projects are a fabulous reason to go digging through my fabric stash.