Sunday, December 10, 2017

Little Gifts and a Whole Lot of Fun

Make and takes
The day after Thanksgiving was the owner of Quilting Delights birthday. This year, she invited her customers to participate in make and takes for a small fee. She had two machine embroidery designs on Friday (her actual birthday) and two designs on Saturday.

The first day, you could choose to stitch a mini stocking gift card holder and/or a small zipper purse. Both machine embroidery projects were completed in the hoop. I made two stockings because I couldn't have a little stocking for one grand and not the other! I relearned how to transfer a design to my machine and how to make minor edits--like changing the name. It was a good project to practice thinking about the order of how the steps should be accomplished! As I finished, I thought that if one added a ribbon loop, the stocking could also be an ornament. Then I decided that I should purchase the design because these would be fun to give as well as look nice as an embellishment to a package or dress up the holiday table as a placeholder.

More mini stockings
The small zipper purse used a lot of thread as the mesh front is all thread. Again, I decided that this would be a good project for future gifts so I also purchased that design too! When I make these, I will play a bit with the process. I think that if the fabric has a little stabilizer, it will feel a bit more sturdy.

I had so much fun playing that I decided to return the second day. We made a gift tag and a scissors holder. I have a similar shaped gift tag that I could add the design that we made or I could make the design into an ornament. The scissors holder is really practical and I may make those as gifts for next year!

Since then, I've made a number of mini stockings which I plan to use as part of the Christmas place setting. I've a few ideas of what can go in the mini stockings; but, need to come up with a few more thoughts! My friend Gail came for a sew day and I asked her to bring four pieces of felt. . .

Gail and her mini stockings!
Long story short, I gave her a couple more pieces of felt and she stitched three mini stockings for her grands! She was as exuberant during the stitching process as Miss A was with the embroidered butterflies. I do understand because watching the needle create the pattern with the thread does feel magical!

These projects weren't part of my fourth quarter list; but, I've given myself permission to start new projects too. These were a fun diversion and this is just the season to be stitching stockings!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Hexagons waiting for a design
This hexagon project has been on my finish along list for at least a couple of years. As I've finished other goals on my list, I've been mulling over options for this project. The hexagons were made using different techniques that JoJo over at Through My Hands shared with me at least four years ago.

Reverse side of the hexagons
I machine pieced the large one using Gyleen Fitzgerald's butterfly technique. Fabrics on two of them were preprinted with the hexagon seam line and cutting line printed. The bright blue one I hand pieced; the striped one I machine stitched. On the green one, I fused interfacing to the fabric and then glued the seam allowance to the interfacing. On the darker blue one, I stitched around the hexagon using an interfacing on the wrong side. I slit the interfacing; then turned and pressed each part of the hexagon which made individual pillows. I hand pieced the orange one using the English paper piecing method.

Horizontal view with pieces of net "visible"
I included a photo of the back of the hexagons so can see what I'm trying to describe! Stitching all these hexagons was so much fun! In fact, I found these hexagons to be a little like trying to eat just one potato chip.  . . almost impossible! More on that thought in a future post though!

I decided that I wanted to put all of my samples into one wall hanging.
Our book club read "The Hunger Games" trilogy a couple years ago. In the "Mocking Jay" book, one of the characters, Rue, was captured in a net.

It was that section of the book where I found the inspiration of setting these hexagons in a net because the hexagons reminded me of the flowers that Catniss (one of the main characters in the story) Rue.

Green flower with red ribbon accent
I was stalled first because I couldn't find a background that I liked and because I wasn't sure how to create the illusion of a net.

The background that I eventually chose, I like. Now that I have Joen Wolfrom's color class behind me, I realize that this background is a bit brighter than the other one that I had auditioned. The other one was more grey so now I know why it wasn't working for me!

I purchased a half yard of an orange print fabric for the "net" strips. Then I couldn't decide how to apply the narrow strips to the fabric. I could slice the fabric and insert the strips. But, if I wanted the strips to cross, matching the cut edge would be tricky. Plus, cutting the background would make the background smaller. Since I was limited with the background fabric, smaller wouldn't be good. So I decided to machine appliqué the fabric strips. 

Interestingly, I didn't use the fabric that I had set aside for the "net." Again, the fabric I had selected was a little too gray! No wonder that I wasn't excited about cutting into it! Instead, I used some leftovers from my QAYG project. I used the orange as sashing in that project.

I stitched the orange strips together, pressed the strips in half, stitched 1/8 inch from the cut edge and then pressed the cut edge along the stitch line.

After I had auditioned the strips and selected where I wanted to place them, I used a little bit of Elmer's glue and temporarily, fused them in place.

Blue flower with yellow ribbon accent
Auditioning the strips took some time. At first, I created an overall grid; but decided that approach gave me more orange in the piece than I wanted. So I channeled a little of Miss K and removed some of strips and shortened other strips. I liked how this approach gave the piece a more modern feel which is a direction I want to explore. I glue basted the strips in place and then machine stitched them into place.

While I was auditioning the strips, the piece seemed to want to go horizontal instead of vertical so I turned the piece horizontal.

Auditioning ribbon
The next step was stitching the green and the blue hexagons together. I had considered letting some of the "petals" separate from the flower; but, decided putting the flower together was better for the overall design. Earlier, I had purchased some narrow blue, yellow and red ribbon to accent the petals in some way.

On the green flower, I used red ribbon to accent the seam joins. My plan was to tuck the raw edge of the outer edge of the ribbon under the flower during the appliqué process. I liked how the red zigzag looked around the center so I didn't cover that area with ribbon.

Vertical orientation
On the blue hexagon, I zig zagged the edges together, then covered the zig zag area with yellow ribbon. When I placed the hexagons on the background, I decided that I needed more lines on my background. I auditioned some narrow orange ribbon which I liked so I appliquéd those.

 Then, the piece seemed to tell me it wanted to be vertical. . .so I listened! As I hand appliquéd the hexagons to the background, the one with the red ribbon wanted the ribbon ends to stick out and be three dimensional so I left it that way. I had planned to quilt more grid lines in the background to create the sense of the net; but, I had an idea of hand stitching some hexagon shapes in the background. I had a heavy weight blue and red thread so I decided to draw a few of these on the top and see if the idea in my head could transfer to the top!

My first few attempts at drawing were awful.  Then, JoJo reminded me that I could cut a template using my accuquilt. I did it. Actually, I cut one of each size and started drawing! This attempt worked!

Hexagons drawn & ready for the next step
I drew a bunch of hexagon shapes of various sizes. Now, I'm thinking that hand stitching this many may take me a year. . . .well, not really, but, maybe hand stitching could take longer than I want to spend. I'm concerned about stabilizer and my stitch length.

Pieced back
I pieced the back and figured out what I want to use as the hanging sleeve which gave the piece time to "talk" to me about what I wanted to do with the drawn lines.

I listed some of my options:
Should I hand stitch the outlines in a contrasting thread?
Should I layer and pin baste and quilt the lines via machine?
Once it is a quilt sandwich, should I try bobbin work?
Should I use a contrasting thread or similar thread to quilt the hexagons?
Auditioning hand stitching using
embroidery thread
What should I do with the spaces that I haven't drawn a hexagon?
Seriously, how much more time do I want to spend on this project?

I decided that I would audition some embroidery thread and some hand stitching to see the result. I decided I liked the hand stitching look enough to keep going. I notice that as I pull the thread through the fabric, the fabric stretches a bit.

Had I planned, however, to hand stitch from the beginning of the project, I would have applied shape flex (a stabilizer) to the back of the fabric as that would have made the stitching easier to achieve.  I think I can continue stitching, carefully, and be able to fill the background with a variety of hand stitched hexagons.

I may not finish this project by the end of the quarter; but, since this project has been hanging about for too many years, I'm pleased that I am making progress!!!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ornament Exchanges

Items for the online ornament exchange
This year, I'm participating in three ornament exchanges which is two more than usual! First, I'm participating in an online ornament exchange. In addition to an ornament, the rules were to include an introductory letter and send a Christmas themed item. We were to mail the item between December 2 and December 4. This is the package that is working its way to Ohio. I'll share what I receive when my package arrives. Miss J, the youngest grand, went shopping with me and helped select the items for the package. I especially liked the box and sentiment!

Butterfly ornament
Second, my neighbor who is also a quilter is hosting a get together in a few days. She wrote in the invitation that homemade, silly and simple ornaments are perfect so one of my butterflies will be wrapped for the ornament exchange. It will be a potluck so I need to be thinking of what kind of dish I'll prepare to share! She says we are going to play a dice game as a way of distributing the ornaments. What a fun way to celebrate friendship during the holiday season!

Folded stars
Third, Quilting Delights has an all club Christmas party complete with an ornament exchange in about a week. Many of the ornaments exchanged are homemade. I enjoy getting a glimpse at so much creativity! I'll be taking one of my folded stars that I made earlier in the year.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Little Feedback on Mt. Hood

The range of blues that I had in my stash.
In mid-November, Joen Wolfrom taught her Color Play class through our Clark County Quilters (CCQ) guild. Picking fabrics has been the most challenging part of the quilting process for me. The "been there, done that" method, has helped me produce some projects that were more pleasing to my eye. I still wasn't comfortable about choosing fabrics though!

Since her class, I have some confidence that I can make fabric choices that I will be happier with and even more importantly, I can explain why. Joen would share slides of quilts showing examples of various color principles. Then she would share fabric examples of the principles and finally, we went to our class stash and
My class exercise work
made our own example of the principle. A few times, I was right on, sometimes I was a little off and occasionally, I was right on!

As I worked through the class, I had many aha moments about why I had a challenge with this part of that project or why that fabric didn't show up enough in that project. I liked that when we finished an exercise, we put it up on the wall and she critiqued our work. By the end of class, we were critiquing our own work. That critiquing process was priceless to me!

I learned that the fabrics in my stash are mostly tones and that many of my fabrics have too strong a print to be used in a landscape quilt. I don't have enough fabrics of the same color family to produce a graduated change from light to dark. I've too many mediums or darks or lights that are the same intensity. I also learned that it is a challenge to find "pure" and "tinted" fabrics. So, I practiced using toned fabrics from my stash that could read as "pure" or "tinted." This was an invaluable part of the class!
Class work displayed

As part of the class, we were invited to bring in a project of something that didn't work well for us or if we wanted feedback on a project that had us stalled. I brought in Mt. Hood. She asked me what I thought now and I said that I should have made the proportions different as it would have shown better if it were shorter and wider. (She agreed.) I learned that when I listened to her lecture! But, since this was the view from my window, my proportions are what I would see. I can make a change for the next landscape quilt.

Mt. Hood--My View 

I said that my reflection wasn't quite right; but, I didn't know what was off. She said that because the view is straight on, the reflection would be the same size as the actual mountain/tree line. (I hadn't considered the size of the reflection at all!) Later, I saw photos of a mountain and reflection that illustrated that point. She also said that it is easier to work with the reflection when there is a little breeze on the water rather than a calm day because the movement of the water distorts the reflection.

I said that as I looked at more landscape photos with water, I realized that my water was too bright for my sky.  She said that the water should be the same color as the sky and that next to the shoreline, there is often a bit of illumination in that the water is a bit lighter.

She said that my flowers could have extended just a bit past center which would have created a more pleasing look. She thought the flowers added a lot to the piece and she loved the crystals in the water. She also said it was a beautiful piece and I agree. Moving forward, I believe that I can create a more lifelike example. I'm not changing anything on Mt. Hood. I'm continuing to enjoy it as it hangs in my home!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Butterfly Embroidery--10th Finish for 4th Quarter Finish-A-Long (FAL) 2017

Tracking the minutes remaining of each stitch segment
This is my 10th finish this quarter and it was goal number nine of my list.  It is for someone who needs to know that people are thinking of her. I hope this butterfly brings a smile to the recipient!

The butterfly design was in my embroidery software.  I spent a day playing in the software. I enlarged the design several inches. I duplicated the design and then I mirrored one of the designs. I grouped sequenced the stitching by color so that I would have less thread changes. I made sure that I would be able to stitch both designs in one hooping.

Finished stitch out
On another day, Miss K supervised the stitching. I stitched on a piece of gold felt with one layer of cut away stabilizer. After each thread change, she would remark at how beautiful it was and how it was even more beautiful than it was the last time the needle stopped. I changed the thread. She kept the threads in order and let me know how many minutes were remaining on each of the sections.  It took about an hour and a half to stitch the design.

We were able to finish the stitching and begin the trimming before she it was time for her and her sister to pack up and meet their mama. She provided her input about the antennae. I was going to leave them off; but, she was adamant that there be antennae! She wanted to know how it was going to be one when there were two!

Free motion stitching the layers together
She also wanted to know all about the recipient. She asked questions like:
Would this make the recipient happy?  Would the recipient  like the color?  Miss K said she would like this butterfly if it was going to be hers. I told her that making a gift for someone is special; but, making a gift that you really like makes giving it even more special. She nodded her head. Miss K has such a kind heart which is just like her mama!

Plain back of the design
I used a little glue to "encourage" the layers to stay together. It was close that the front and the back matched.  I added a gold ribbon for the hanger and some glittery pipe cleaners for the antennae.  I purchased the pipe cleaners from the Dollar Tree a few years ago.

I placed a drop of glue under the pipe cleaners and the ribbon.  Then I stitched around the outer edge to hold them in place. I like the finished product. For a first try, the front and the back of the design are okay!

I decided to stitch a few more. I edited the design to try to compensate for the amount that the motif shrank from being such a dense design.  I tried using batting and tear away stabilizer. That was not a good combination as the design drew up too much. I stopped the stitching after a couple thread changes and started over!

Three butterflies
Next, I tried using two layers of tear away stabilizer. I also decided to make the back plain.
Originally, I had planned that I would stuff the center; but the design is too dense to be able to do this.

The compensation is still a little off. I did like having the design on one side of the ornament. It is lighter. I changed the antennae a little which I liked better.

I found that it was easier to glue the hanger and the ribbon to the back of the embroidered side then use the glue to anchor the embroidered side to the back. (I inserted it on the first one which was not easy!) I also found it was easier to free motion stitch the two edges together. I'm considering trying to add this stitching line in the design so that I could finish the entire design in the hoop.

I continue to have a healthy respect for those who digitize their embroidery designs. My goal is to be happy with my results of creating my own designs. I have a long way to go yet!

Perhaps, I will consider stitching more of these butterflies as this a project for 2018! For now though, I'm returning to working on a couple quilt projects. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

The current favorite toy to play when at our house
Happy Thanksgiving, dear blog followers! Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my posts. I especially appreciate those of you who leave me a comment and who answer my questions! Thank you too to my quilting buddies who offer up advice when I bring my what if questions to you. Your feedback is invaluable!

Thanks to Miss B who loves us all--especially the
youngest grand!
Happy Thanksgiving to the "important" members of my family. Thank you dear husband for all your support this past year as I navigated through following my dad's last wishes. You always have my back! Thank you dear daughters for reminding me that there is a bigger picture and to not lose sight of it.

Thank you to the granddaughters who are so much like their mama and their auntie that hanging out with them is like stepping back in time and reliving the days of our parenthood. The grands keep us on our toes as well as make our lives a little brighter.

This week, Miss K didn't have school so I got to spend some time with her. She and her sister, Miss J were here Monday, Tuesday night and Wednesday! We had a sleepover. Miss K chose pancakes for breakfast and lunch at McDonald's where there is a play structure. We played with dolls. They, with their papa,  built a working carousel.

A past family dinner with all the "important" ones!
J's favorite parts of the week were playing dolls and going to McDonald's. K's favorite parts of the week were telling stories in the dark during the sleepover and going to McDonald's. Being a grand is sure fun and we are fortunate that our grands live near us and we get to have semi regular play dates.

Tomorrow is J's actual fourth birthday and there is a family party. Later today, I'll be baking the carrot cake that she asked to have at the party. It will have nuts, raisins and frosting. . .just like she asked. Life is good!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Triangles, Circles, Rectangles and Squares-- 9th Finish for 4th Quarter Finish-A-Long (FAL) 2017

J's drawn shapes
The other day, I was drawing some possible designs to quilt on my chicken border. Granddaughter J was watching me. After I finished, she wanted to know if she could draw on my paper. I said sure.

J loves tools. So I wasn't surprised that she wanted to use my pencil and my paper.

She asked me:
"Gran, do you want a square or a triangle?"
Me: "Triangle." She drew a triangle.
J: "Gran, do you want a square or a circle?"
Me: "I'd love a circle." She drew a circle.
J: " Gran, do you want a square or a rectangle?"
Me: "Rectangle." She drew a rectangle.

Pinning the pattern to her fabric
This conversation went on for some time. To be frank, I'm not generally high on her "like" list.  My thought behind my ranking is because I have "rules." We "get" to follow those rules. For someone who hasn't "time" to bother with such frivolous business as rules, the rule following crimps J's style.

As we were having this conversation, I was chuckling because this is often how we have conversations. For example,
Me: "Do you want to cook pancakes or blueberry muffins for breakfast?"
J: "Pancakes."
Me: "Do you want to get out the eggs or the griddle?"
J: "Eggs."
I have these directed sort of conversations because if I ask what do you want to cook? The answer most likely would be bacon and if I didn't have bacon, there could be unhappiness shared for hours!
Cutting fabric
But, back to our geometric conversation! I knew where J's conversation was going; however, I played along. Finally, she said, "Gran, do you want a square or a square?" Aha. . .she has me at my own game!
Me: "I'd love a special square." She drew me a square with extra bits in the interior.

Trimming the threads after serging a seam
Not bad for an almost four year old to not only know the names of the shapes; but, also to have the ability to draw the shapes too. Her auntie says that it is the magnetic game that she gave the grands that helped with this skill which could be true. I give J props for guiding me to that square which was what she wanted to draw in the first place! She is so like her auntie!!

Checking the fit of the neckline
Since J loves tools, perhaps she will take those drawings to quilted designs in fabrics. I have no doubt that whatever it is that she decides to do. . .well, she will be totally amazing. I will be able to say I knew her when. I'll relate stories like this one to people who want to know more about her when she is in the business world.

After drawing, we picked out some fabric and a pattern to sew a t-shirt. A few weeks later, we cut out the fabric. I thought about showing her how pattern weights work; but, then decided I wasn't ready to learn new uses for pattern weights just yet. J has no "box" to contain her so the possibilities are truly endless!

Another day that she was here, we did some sewing. I didn't have ribbing to go with her shirt. I asked her if she wanted to go to the store to buy the ribbing. She let me know that I could go on my own and whatever I decided was fine with her. So I spent 54 cents for a piece of ribbing that we  stitched to the neckline.

Just the hems away from being "wearable"
Once we stitched the sleeves to the shirt body and added the ribbing, she just had to try it on. I love her exuberance. As she looked at herself in the mirror, she turned to me and said:
"Gran," as she raised her arm and pointed to the underarm area, "Problem!!!" The shirt didn't have side seams yet and she was pointing out to me that I needed to fix that problem!

After her fitting, she was ready to stitch the side seams and see how the shirt fit at that point. As she was showing her papa how her shirt fit, she said, "Gran," as she pointed to the ends of the shirt sleeves and the bottom of the shirt, "Problem!!"

Guiding the fabric for the hem
We saved stitching the hems for another day. I found that the sleeve hem was too small an area for her to stitch so I stitched those. With a lot of help, she guided the fabric through the foot. She delighted in counting the stitch pattern which was 1-2-3-4-over. She giggled almost every time the needle did the over!

Finished shirt
I enjoy hanging out and playing with her so much.

This is finish number nine and goal number 11 for the fourth quarter of Finish-A-Long 2017. You can read my list here. I used half a yard of fabric from my stash bringing the total used to 42 of the 50 yards of fabric used from my stash this year. I'm not far from my goal!