Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Did someone say Stormtrooper?

That is right. Stormtrooper.

I have been stitching away on some serious projects and I have to say, I really needed a 'silly' break. Which is why it is wonderful to have cool friends who are into all kinds of non-quilting related things --- like Star Wars, for example.

And when a friend gasps in delight at the thought of me being able to make a 'quilted Stormtrooper' .. well, I had to try it!

Here we are: Trooper #1

And here is the prototype on a plain recyclable grocery bag, hiding that (ugly) message:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I love Fusing

I proudly present reverse engineering at it's finest!

This is my version of "Amish Spring Roses", which I 'made' from a picture I posted about earlier. I sketched my own templates (7 shapes in all), made a layout on a huge piece of freezer paper so the rose blocks wouldn't be wonky, and searched high and low for proper red fabrics to use.

Dark - Quilter's Choice Marbles
Medium - Quilter's Choice Marbles
Light - Hoffman Silent Inspirations
and 9 blocks of plain white at 18 1/2 inches square.

Of course in the swatches online and in this picture it is difficult to truly appreciate the colour -- especially the glorious reds!

Armed with a roll of fusible webbing, a pencil, an iron, and my templates I started snipping and sticking my blocks together. Each rose is layered with the sepals (green leaves below the first petals), small petals, and large petals overlapping slightly. Today I will work on appliqueing each block with colour matching threads.

The 9 blocks shown in the picture are sized to lay exactly across the center portion of a double bed. with panels to the sides and also at top and bottom. The only other panel that will contain applique will be the 'pillow' panel, and the other three will consist of traditional Amish quilt motifs (done by machine however!) I can't wait to get started on the quilting :)

Poor neglected blog!

I have this bad (?) habit of not wanting to make a post unless I can liberally scatter pictures along with my words. It just doesn't seem right to make a post without pictures!!

Lately I have been working on Deer Quilt #2 so pictures of that would be a little redundant. It is nearly finished except for the feather quilting in the border -- which will have to wait because I ran out of rusty-brown thread. Boo!

This has been a great week for 'happy mail' in our mailbox. By this I mean things that are NOT bills or junk mail --- on Monday I got the hefty package of fabric I ordered online to begin another project (details coming soon!), and Tuesday my little girl got a present from her Auntie.

We were all pretty tickled that she posed to let me take a picture for her Auntie -- usually she likes to giggle and run away from the camera so we have to 'catch' her!

And sometime before the weekend I should get another delivery of yardage to play with, and I am very excited! In both purchases I have made I have been very cautious and greatly overestimated what I will need ... so as a bonus I have lots of extra pretty cotton to play with!

Now if only I could grit my teeth and get another 2 or 3 quilts basted, then I would really be able to get down to business. But why procrastinate? I can do that tomorrow ..

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fabric wishlist?

Hopefully during the upcoming week I will be able to make contact with a wholesale retailer of quilting fabrics who is a relative of a friend .... and once I have asked all the basic questions, my next question will be:

Do you have "Cherish Nature" by Moda???

Second Question: How about Mckenna Ryan / Hoffman fabrics?

Yeah ... I think that would make my week day month year!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It is basting night .. ICK!

That time I dread has arrived once more. I can't put it off any longer. I have tried to avoid it (with moderate success) for the past week .. but now, I cannot deny that it must be done.

Time to exile the pets upstairs, vacuum the carpet, break out the pins, and BASTE.

It is not that my knees are creaky, or that I don't have the space. And I absolutely love the quilting process that follows the deadly-process-that-shall-not-be-named. And the drive to get something accomplished is certainly there (my fingers have been twitching lately from not having a project on hand to work on)

But oh those pins!

Did I put them close enough together?
How many more pins?
I wonder how much pet hair I'm getting on this
Will I run that one over with the needle?
Is that going to be a pucker problem?
How many more pins?
*Yell at the dog to be patient and not bark to come downstairs*
Oops I forgot to trim that thread, where are my scissors?
Is that one through the carpet too?
How many more pins?
Ouchy my finger smarts
At least I can lay down on my 'cushioning' to do this
How many more pins????

One of these days when I am not working in a poorly ventilated basement, I will buy myself some spray basting or SOMETHING to quickly baste my quilts. Pins may be archaic and a true p.i.t.a, but they are cheap

Still. Waaaaaaaa!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blossom Time

I have been cutting and sewing and fiddling away with cloth and thread, but have no spectacular finished things to show off and tell you all about. So, here is the compromise:

This is a pretty macro of an apple blossom we found on a lone tree in the middle of a pine forest. The acreage used to belong to a farmer and his family about 100 years ago, but it was reverted to crown land sometime shortly after that. Now it is all grown over with hardwood trees like poplar and maple in some places, and thick pines and spruces in others. There are a few signs that it used to be farmland, if you walk around a lot and look very closely --- piles of rocks that would have been removed from the earth by hand, the old "lane way" which is now a deer trail, and ... the occasional surviving apple tree! I was surprised to see this one, a gigantic old thing in the middle of some thick pines. Even more surprising were the pretty blossoms. Most of our flowers are looking rather raggedy due to a windstorm we had a few days ago --- these were much more pristine (although you can see some of them took a beating). This little fellow was practically glowing!

I bet the farmer who planted that old apple tree didn't think I would stop there 100 years later, and take a picture ... and I bet he certainly had no idea that picture would end up on the internet!

Which makes me wonder what sights my quilts will have seen after 100 years; or however long their natural lifespans turn out to be. Here's hoping they have the tenacity of an orphaned apple tree!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Crafty Organizer & Instructions!

In my tentative forays into the embroidery & embellishment world lately, I've been a little frustrated by never being able to keep all my tools and threads organized --- or even in the same room as where I am stitching! Now, there are thousands of designer tool case options, but 1) I'm not rich and 2) none that I saw really had a way to keep your thread skeins handy.

So I just sat down at my workstation and made my own! Here is what I came up with:

I can stash my pencils, scissors, threads, seam ripper, and even a padded booklet of needles. Depending on what you are working on, you could even fold up the project and tuck it into a pocket! And then, the top flap is folded down across the pockets and the whole contraption can be rolled into a bundle and secured (with velcro, a snap, a button, etc .. I used some ribbon)

And then I grabbed all the embroidery floss colours I have been using, cut approx. 25 in lengths, separated them into 2 thread units, and ...

Using a darning needle I tacked them all loosely into the lining of the top flap! Each unit of floss is now ready to be tugged out (from the left side where each set of strands is knotted) and used immediately. They won't tangle or get lost or fray or be stolen by my cat. Hooray!

Now I have all my tools rolled up with all of my threads, nothing misplaced or tangled, and I can stuff the whole caboodle into my purse!

Instructions - My Tool Roll-up
1) Select two fat quarters of fabric (one for the lining and one for the outer case) and align them right sides together. Stitch a 1/4 in seam along the right, left, and bottom edges. Flip right sides out, poke corners out, and press your seams.

2) Finish the top edge by folding the raw edges down 1/4 in and pressing, and then folding again and topstitching so that no raw edge is shown.
3) Make the pocket fold - Fold bottom edge up about 5 inches, and stitch the bottom, left, and right sides together. You may also want to topstitch across the bottom and sides of the sandwich now for a more finished look.
4) Add individual pockets to stash your tools. I stitched two pockets at 1 inch each for my writing tools, two pockets at 2 inches each for my scissors and rotary cutter, and then three pockets at 4 inches for stashing needles and projects. I only stitched across the folded up portion, but stitching vertically into the upper flap would secure the lining better.

5) *Optional seam ripper pocket: At the edge of one of the 4 inch pockets, I created a shallow sub-pocket for my seam ripper. Stitch approx 1 inch away from the pocket edge, starting at the top and going down. Stop after the length of your seam ripper, and sew a small line to connect over to the side of the pocket you measured from. This way your seam ripper (and other short tools) won't disappear into the bottom of the pockets!
*Optional pseudo pin cushion: In the far right pocket, stuff a 2x4 in piece of batting (as thick as you like) into the bottom section of the pocket. Stitch horizontally just above the batting to close it off -- you now have a pincushion with a shallow pocket on top!

*Optional Needle book: Cut 2 pieces of fabric 2x4 inches, sew 3 sides with right sides together. Invert and stuff with batting. Finish open edge by folding over twice. Stitch down the center of the sandwich (you may even choose to stitch down a tail of ribbon for a tether at the same time!) Stick needles in nice soft pages and fold closed. Tuck it into a pocket!

6) Add something to secure the roll-up - I used a simple 12in length of ribbon, stitched to the right edge of the pocket flap in the center of the ribbons' length. You can also add ribbons to the top of your larger pockets, so that you can 'tether' the tools you do not want separated from your new kit. I tied my ribbons to safety pins so that I can still remove them when I like.

7) Enjoy stuffing your tools into one handy homemade kit, and show it off!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I love quilting, but I really need a portable hand project (for traveling, for when I can't have a hot iron on or sit patiently at my machine ..) and since I just finished a 'kit' for Nancy, I figured maybe I could make something like that for myself. MMMmmmm embroidery -- I used to do that when I was little :)

But when I ravaged my stash I only found some very low quality snarled cotton floss, and my variegated machine quilting thread. So a trip to a craft store is certainly in order!

And when I get some thread .. oh my! I already have a project on my wishlist:

The pattern for this beauty can be found here. Enjoy :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Nancy's Wallhanging

I said I would finish 3 UFOs in the next 3 months ... and what did I do today? Of course I started a brand new project!

In my defense I agreed to make a kit up for my father's wife last month, so that she could get back into sewing by hand / embroidery. I hope she realizes that I respect her skills with a needle and have given her a challenge!!

I used patterns from Kellie's lovely blog / quilt shop, Don't Look Now! for the butterflies, tree trunk, the birdie, and some of the flowers. Her work is exquisite, and I highly recommend you hop on over there and check her work out (and her store!) One of the things I most admire about her applique is her ability to choose her fabrics, and then "frame" elements inside the templates. Each fusing shape is placed just so on the fabric so that the result is symmetrical & more than the sum of it's parts. I love it!

I have to admit my attempts to duplicate her style were a mediocre success --- partly because I didn't have appropriate fabrics (like a matching set of Kaffe Fasset designer cottons used in this) and partly because I have never worked with fusible webbing before. I think it came out okay though, and I can't wait to hand it to her :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dresden Garden (we're getting there!)

Ta Da!! The continued evolution of my Dresden plate/flower garden hits
another milestone. I finished up the appliqued strips with vines, leaves, flowers, ladybugs, and butterflies (learning an awful lot about applique in the process!) and fiddled around with how I should lay them out. I had originally though I should place them between the columns like in the picture above (note the quilt being inspected as usual)

But when the strips were finished (and yes I moronically did them as all one piece instead of subdividing --- never again will I make that mistake!) my Quilt Inspector and I decided that they really did look better in the border rather than in between. It was a tough choice ... maybe I should have stuck with my original layout but who knows! I think the change I made might have just satisfied my need to make a border that wasn't plain and boring for once :D

Comment from my boyfriend that tickled me: "Oh honey can we keep this one?"

Hope all of you out in quilt/blog land are having a good weekend!