Thursday, February 25, 2016

Embroidery Spree

At the beginning of the month, I attended a two day embroidery spree. I decided that I need to take a class occasionally to help me stay focused on improving my machine embroidery skills. I feel like I know so little!!

At this event, we were paired with partner and we each made the item. In two days we made:

A tea towel:(Photo is upside down!)

We used a specialty ruler to cut, fold and press the prairie point decorative edge which was machine stitched to the bottom edge of the towel.

A cord holder:
This is the inside. You write your name on the inside on the holder. You put your sewing machine cord through the hairband. . . 

This is what it looks like closed. Using it would make it harder to leave your machine cord behind!

A luggage tag:
These would make great gift tags or gift card holders too!

A coupon holder:
I chuckled over the sentiment on this project! It has a magnet in it so it can be placed on the refrigerator.

The person that I was paired with had her machine a year and was much newer to embroidery than I. Therefore, I was the "leader." It was a great role for me to be thrust into because as I explained how different parts of the directions mattered and troubleshooted so that she could stay on track, I realized I actually know a little bit more than I gave myself credit for knowing!!!

I had planned to join the embroidery club where you receive embroidery designs each month to build your embroidery library. That is until, I found the cost. Well, it wouldn't be as expensive if I embroidered as much as I quilt! Because I don't, I decided it might be a good investment for another year. 

Besides, I really want to make my own designs. Of course, that involves practice and I'm not there yet in my learning curve!

A quick update: I'm making progress on the river!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

First "Official" Finish of 2016

My label is composed, written and stitched to "Tinkling the Ivories" which I blogged about here. This is what it looks like. To me, a quilt isn't finished until it has the sleeve and label on it!

Cost of this project was minimal. The main fabric cost $5.38. 

The piano key block came from leftovers from my "to be cut into use able pieces pile a la Bonnie Hunter." The thread came from my growing thread stash. I used a couple needles. The batting was pieced together leftovers. 

The buttons came from my grandmother's button jar. It is a small jar; but, when 90 more buttons were in it, it was about 3/4 full!

Time to make the project is another story! It took about 45 minutes to select fabric, cut and stitch the piano key block. I spent about four hours testing stitches before I stitched on my quilt sandwich for the decorative machine stitches. Of course, the one stitch I didn't test. . . .I should have! Then I filled in with the background fill stitches which took about six hours. I used my machine which is a Bernina and the number 18 foot to sew on all the buttons. It took about two hours to sew them on and about four hours to bury all of the threads! Sewing the binding on by machine took about an hour which included cutting and preparing it. Sewing the sleeve and hand stitching the corners took another hour as did the label construction process. For a skinny quilt, I shouldn't have been surprised that it took me 20 hours to complete this process!

I pin basted my block of the month hexagon quilt so it is ready for stitch in the ditch quilting(SID). 

I usually SID every stinking seam (ESS) which is a term coined from Cindy Needhamto encourage the layers to not shift while I add the additional quilting. I still get distortion; but, not as much had I not completed this step!

I also made a block for the guild's challenge contest. It is supposed to be a secret so I won't share it here until after the quilt show in April. The block is due next month. 

I turned in entry forms for five of my quilts to be in the show. My goal was four quilts so for once I exceeded my goal! I usually have all of my entries judged; but, this year I decided not to have any of them judged. It costs $10 to receive the feedback from the judges. Generally, I concur with the judges comments and this year, I just decided that I would live on the edge! :) Plus, I saved myself $50!

I entered:


Window Boxes


Tickling the Ivories

Now, I'm working on the river quilt. I've decided that the sky fabric is too close in value to the canyon background fabric and that I need my water to flow in a different direction. I hope I figure out a pleasing arrangement soon as I'd like this project to end up in the finished pile sooner rather than later!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

6x60 Challenge And A Story

Our guild has a challenge every year. This year the challenge was to make a quilt that was 6 inches x 60 inches. You could use any technique or combinations of techniques and you could make as many as you wanted!

My first thought was to make two 6x60 quilts with my granddaughter's upward foot steps embroidered and the word "UP" on one side and downward footsteps and the word "DOWN" on the other side.  Then attach them together leaving the footsteps open so I could place rolls of stabilizer in between.

Well, it is still above my pay grade to figure out how to digitize the footstep! 

I thought about using a row of the string geese we've been piecing. BUT, the rules of the challenge is that you do all the work yourself. The grands helped me so that was out. 

Then, I decided that I would make a circle quilt using this accuquilt die. I picked out my fabrics and was ready to begin when I decided that these blocks were really better suited to a bigger project where one could really have fun with the center color.

I almost decided that I would just cross that project off my list until I began reading our latest book club book, "Night in Shanghai" by Nicole Mones. It is about a pianist that travels to Shanghai to lead a jazz band. 

Right away, I had an idea after reading a few chapters! I wanted to use a men's suiting fabric as my background and lots of shiny thread for texture. The wool that I have in my stash wasn't right; but, I found a 1 2/3 yards piece of cotton in the sale room at the LQS. It cost a little more than $5!

Next I made a piano key block.

I embroidered some words that related to the book. (This was my first time to use lower case letters.) Thanks JoJo for your input about keeping the small open spaces on the letter "e" and the dots on the letter "i"! I did make a sample, using different colors of thread to see which showed up more from a distance. Interestingly, I had thought that the dark red and dark purple would be the choices when I began; but, you can see from the sample that the value of these two colors was too close to the background for it to be seen!

Next, I layered my piece and using my stitch book, I stitched stitches across the fabric. I did chalk a line so I would have gentle curves. I chose stitches that when I listen to jazz are what shapes I hear. 

As an aside, I like jazz. I didn't always like it. I had a neighbor that use to play it on hot summer nights in an 800 square foot house with a sound system for a 3000 square foot house. We lived next door and I use to cringe when he came home and cranked up his sound system.

One day, he invited me over as he had just purchased an even better unit to play his music and he wanted to share it with me. Rather than using the opportunity to gripe about his music choice, I asked why he liked it because it just sounded like a hot mess of discord to me.

He laughed and then became serious. He said, "All this time, I've been sharing my music and you haven't liked it?" I nodded my head that he was right. "Here, listen to this," he said and so my jazz education began! Over time, I actually enjoyed it enough that I might have even chosen a jazz station to listen to on the radio.

But, back to the project! I stitched one line of stitches in blue thread as that motif represented the overall blues sound to me. Then I stitched a heavier line in a salmon colored thread. I then filled in all the other areas improvisationally, using no thought or plan. I had jazz music on my iPhone; I just stitched. 

In the spaces between the stitch lines, I then decided to add free motion quilting motifs that either were my idea of relating to the story line or to jazz. It was fun and once I had determined my inspiration, it was easy to fill in the spaces. When I finished, I hung it on the wall. 

I was disappointed. The thread colors blended too much with the background. How was I going to make something in that piece show from across the room so that you wanted to see more? 

My eye lit on one of my grandmother's button jars--the one with the white buttons. This is the jar of the men's shirting buttons that she had saved from my granddad's dress shirts and of course other buttons that she had cut from clothing before she cut the cloth into pieces for a quilt or into rags. She loved jazz. On the buttons went--all 90 of them! I machine stitched them which only took a couple hours. I spent twice that long burying all the thread ends!
I like the dimension and the symbolism the buttons add.

I machine stitched the binding to the quilt and I think I've figured out how to that successfully as well! This has been a great project. I almost have my first quilt finish of the year and can work on other "in process" projects! (For me, a project isn't finished until it has a label!)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Stringing a Few Geese

The grands have been spending an extra day a week with us and have been asking to "sew sumtha." They are 3 1/2 and 2 years old. Both like to "power" Inky, my featherweight!

Last year they spent time making string blocks. The two year old liked sewing the wings on the geese. The 3 1/2 year old had a great time picking the fabrics for the geese and working on the design wall to decide how the blocks would be arranged.

This was a Bonnie Hunter free pattern on her web site. She blogged about her inspiration quilt here. I have blogged about them in the past.

I like how these blocks are coming together. You'd never know the seam allowances are far from consistent! 

I don't know how many blocks we need for the project; nor how many we have made nor how many geese we have waiting for wings.

The older grand is deciding how "tall" the row should be. She had this comment about our test row, "Look Gran, it's way up there. So big. I'm not that big. Maybe we should sleep on it and then decide!"

In the mean time, she is decorating the wall with her art work just for me! I had to chuckle. . .the drawings are two sided so I can "change them out!" She thinks of everything!

Who knows where we will be in a couple weeks!