Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Technique Snob

I've been pondering discussions I've been reading where quilters feel it necessary to defend using a specific style or technique in quilt making.  And I'll be the first to admit that while I can admire any quilt, I go weak in the knees when I see something made with needle-turn applique and hand quilting.  It is always my preferred style.  Not only do I like the finished look, but also how well it holds up over time.  I envision every quilt I make as a potential heirloom.  

After finishing some hand applique flowers for Leah Day, I decided to make a second set using a fusible and raw edge applique technique so I could compare them for myself (for real...not just what I thought they'd be like).  Here are my observations:

The flower on the left (1A) I made by drawing the petals on the back of the material freehand and using back-basting needleturn.  The yellow centers are yo-yos.  The one on the right (1B) is reversed b/c I made the pattern off the one on the left and forgot to flip the pattern for fusable (user error). 
Even though flowers A and B had all the petals made from one fabric, I think that A has a lot more dimention.  Both A & B were pressed with steam and a hot iron.  I took all the pictures outside in the same location at the same time.   You can see that I also had some puckering from the double line of stitching that I did on the raw-edge version (B) since it was on the bias and it never occured to me to use a stabilizer.

 I have to admit, that this is my first serious attempt at raw-edge applique.  On the up side, it only took a couple hours to make all 4 flowers, compared to a week of evenings watching TV for the needle-turn.   My practice with free-motion quilting made my stitching pretty even and I did do 2 rows of stitching, which I read somewhere gives a better finished product.  The thread-painting effect of petals also allowed me to cut out large pieces of fabric for flowers 3&4 saving the time and fuss of arranging each individually.

That being said, I really dislike the raw edges.  I was using scrap fabrics and the edges of the lower thread count fabrics look frayed already and it's never been washed.  The decision of if I would EVER do raw-edge applique again would come down to quilting.  These flowers were designed to show off Leah's dense free-motion quilting.  Not only will that improve the "flat" look of the "B" flowers, but will add another layer of thread to keep the raw edges contained. 

Well, my experiment is over and it's time for these poseys to head to the post office so they can enjoy their vacation in North Carolina.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Off My Groove

I'm looking for the old dude in this video to blame for throwing me off my groove.

What I thought I was going to do Friday:  Finish quilting some UFO's.
What I did Friday:  Accepted a contract to be a nutrition consultant for a Second Life project.  I'd never been on SL before.  I do like my rockin' blue hair and wish I could show up to my real job looking like this.  I can almost make it from point A to B without falling on my face every 3 steps.  (Always a baragin hunter, I found the thigh-high boots for free!)  I can hook you up with FREE Second Life University of Idaho footballs, sweats and scarves. 

Where I thought I was spending Saturday night: Yellow Pine, ID
Where I spent Sat night: Pine, ID
Both lovely places.  Yellow Pine is 4 hours North, deep in the mountains.  Pine is an hour (2hrs with our detour) SW across the desert then an hour into the foothills.  Just a little disconcerning when you end up in a completely different direction from where you thought you were going. 

How I thought I'd spend Sat. afternoon:  Hanging out with bikers, drinking beer and telling lies.
How I spent Sat afternoon:  Icing down my chest in the hotel after a yellow jacket (hornet) who had run into my neck on the ride, awoke in my shirt and stung the @$#& out of me b/w the boobs.  I did join the crowd for the Boise State football game, but spent the night waking up hourly with stabbing chest pain.

Where I expected to be on the Leah Day Funky Flower Project:  Getting a thank-you email from Leah to let me know they had arrived.  
Where I really am on the Project:  I have 1 petal and the center of the 4th flower yet to stitch down.  I have also decided that I didn't leave enough negative space outside the flowers for her amazing quilting (and may have used too much print fabric from the scrap bin)  so I am pondering making a round of the same flowers but smaller, using fusable and raw edge technique and less textured fabrics.

I have a busy week scheduled including a Batik class that I'm forcing Skater Girl to take with me.  I'm also *sniffle* pretending that I'm not coming down with a cold which would further throw me off my groove.  Drat.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Free Form Flowers

I was extended a challenge by Leah Day for a collaboration that would combine my love of applique with her amazing FMQ.

I thought that I was going to have 14 hours of car time to applique on this project over the weekend on our way to Wyoming to camp.  However, I ended up either driving or supervising Skater Girl who has a driving permit.

Once camp was set up, I doodled out this funky flower on the fabric and stitched down a couple petals while it rained.  I'm trying to decide if I'll add some small yellow yo-yo's for a center. 

When I got home, I drew this funky zinnia.  The center still needs to be stitched, but I just couldn't wait to post the picture.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You Guessed Right

There's just no fooling a group of quilters.  The mystery bits were for a small diaper bag for a breast-feeding mom. 

The dark purple stripe is on the top of an outside pocket.

The water bottle pocket from the bottom.

The cell phone pocket on the side opposite the water bottle.  (Tip your head to the left)

And it all started with this practice block then evolved like a pre-payday casserole.  I just kept adding things as they came to mind.

Including a pair of inside pockets.

And a zippered pouch to hold baby wipes and a couple diapers for those quick trips.

And a second pouch for...well...whatever.

What is it?

I've been piecing and quilting all these random bits.  Can you guess what they will become?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This and That

I haven't been able to stay focused on anything for very long this week between family and work.  I got my machine working again and filled one block with all over flowers.

And my new favorite fill.

Alternate rows of short and long stitches using #8 Perle cotton.

Finally got whiskers on the cat, but still working on adding the eyebrows.

And I spent 1/2 a day cleaning and tidying.  Mostly that means controlling the fabric and project piles in the living room.  I needed to find a place and purpose for this great vase. 

We won it in a fund raiser at the end of a motorcycle ride.  Unfortunately, since it was my idea, I got to ride 30 miles, in stop and go traffic, clutching the oversized vase wrapped in a plastic bag.  I think it's going to be a scrap gathering bin.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WIP on Wed - Sept 7

Since my last post, I continued to practice my FMQ.  I bought these gardening gloves for $5 which has helped my loops to be more consistently round.  I did try the new "quilting thread" which involved a very complicated set up with straws, wire clothes pins and rubber bands to get the thread to feed right.  Apparently my machine was embarassed and deleted that photo when I wasn't looking b/c it's not on my photo card. 

I've always admired swirls like this.  I never imagined it to be so hard to keep the spacing even.

I saw a quilt years ago where the long-stitch length was variable and reminded me of Morse Code.  I tried some dot-dot-dash.  Next time I'll alternate the pattern more so dashes don't line up (since I wasn't as good at that as I imagined I would be.)
The yellow stitching I did early in this project and was working on filling in with double loops I refer to as "Olives".   And then I ran out of bobbin.  When I returned to stitching, the thread insisted on making giant rat nests on the back.  I re-threaded multiple times, tried different bobbin, tried different thread, dismantled the makeshift thread experiment.  No luck.  When I changed to the walking foot though, the thread seemed to work fine.  So I finished this section with wiggly lines.  And swore off quilting for the rest of the week.

So, I started piecing.  The extra squares we mistakenly cut out for the disappearing 9-patch became this 60x60 quilt top for a Mama's Quilt to go with the baby quilt.

I don't seem to make much progress on shortening my WIP list as I keep adding as much as I finish.  *sigh*

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hand Quilting and thread

Progress is slowing as I add hand-work to some of the blocks.  This is my first successful big stitch attempt.  I realize that the thread I used on previous attempts was too thick which added to my frustration.  I'm not sure how much I like the oversized light blue stipple..

Some hand stitched wavy echos in blue with more machine flower fill in the center.   I've always done had echo stitching very evenly (or at least that was the goal) so this was fun to make scallops that are narrower on the points and wider on the bumps as well as some bumps covering 2 bumps on the previous row when things started feeling crowded.

Even echos here on 2 sides with circles added to the outside edge on the other 2 sides.

And I did make the thread run.  Unfortunately, some of the colors I needed were only available in small spools.  Others only in poly.  4 of these are hand quilting threads, and the big spool on the left is a Coats & Clark Machine Quilting thread I've never tried before.  All were 50% off.

The Notions wall was also 50% off.  So I stocked up on the bent pins that seem to vanish faster than socks from the drier.  Love that adhesive spray, but it's crazy expensive.  And I decided to give the blade sharpener a try while it was about the usual price of a new blade.
I have 1 more day of this long weekend to work on quilts.  Ahhh  where to start?  FMQ? Hand-work? Piecing?  It's not like I have a shortage of UFO/WIPs.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Quilt-as-you-go Blocks

I have a series of blocks that I hand pieced last year from scraps that I won as a give-away from Nadine.  I was in a "make it all by hand" phase.  However, I have since decided that it'd make a great quilt as you go quilt to practice different quilting techniques.

This block told me to follow the lines in the plaid.  So I did, using both red and black thread and the walking foot.

Here, I mirrored the grid from the center, but added some extra black lines in the outside frame.

The center & mat on this one are plaid, but the outer borders just stripes in one direction.

I wanted to add more texture so the yellow is hand stitched and the red center and black border are machine stripes.
This one is a hodge-podge with FMQ in red and yellow as well as walking-foot straight lines and a couple lines of yellow hand stitching.

I used Leah Day's Matrix design for this mat.

And her Wormholes for this one.

By this point I was gaining confidence and started to echo the circles I did previously with the balls, and echoed outward.

By the end of the day I was thinking that I actually knew what I was doing and made up this fill that used the flowers on the print as the center of a 5 petaled flower that I then added an echo to before moving to the next.

This is what it looks like on the back.  I am very pleased. 

I am not as pleased about the volume of thread that I went through though.  The yellow on 3 (partial) blocks sucked up an entire 100 meter spool!

I'm not sure if I want to dedicate that much of my fabric budget to thread.  I'll stock up tomorrow at the fabric store's 50% off thread sale while I decide.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August Projects

August was a month of quilting action, but not completion.  I did finish piecing the Groom's Quilt to go with the Double Wedding Ring that I finished in July.

And I did a couple free motion quilting panels to practice how I plan to quilt the Groom's Quilt.  Considering that I hadn't done FMQ on a home machine before May, I think I'm catching on pretty quickly.

My other big accomplishment was contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  I helped a teen-aged friend to piece this Disappearing 9 Patch baby quilt.

Hopefully by next month, I'll finish the Mom's Quilt to the baby quilt (bad calculation on my part, we bought and cut out too much fabric.  Oops).  I'm also scheduled to teach a basic quilt sampler to a couple ladies from the motorcycle club.  And if the weather will cool's the start of college football season - my favorite partner for watching TV and hand quilting.

Fresh Sewing Day