Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mending/Alteration--2nd Finish for Third Quarter Finish Along ( FAL) 2017

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Luann over at Create Today was right. It didn't take long to shorten those pants that have been hanging in my closet for three years! I was to the point that I needed them. Plus, as few weeks ago, I found another pair of jeans on sale for $6 that I brought home. It was a bargain that I couldn't pass!!

Now, I had three pair of pants to shorten. I had to get the job DONE! There are lots of You Tube videos and tutorials available on how to shorten jeans keeping the existing hemline, if you are interested in doing this for yourself.

I didn't need to shorten two pair much at all. I was lazy and I didn't even trim that little piece away. What was the hold up was having to try on each pair of pants and mark the length. This is not impossible to do by yourself, but, not easy when you don't have a mirror where you can really see the proposed hemline on the pants.

Chewed sleeve portion cut away
The first time, I basted the hem and then tried on the pants again. I thought the pant leg was a little short so I redid that leg and found the 1/4" that I added to the length was just right. I had these done in about an hour. It took at least that long to repair the top that Bailey had chewed the sleeve on three years ago!

I ended up getting out the serger and
Three pair of pants, one shirt ready to wear!
serging the hemline to stabilize it so I could machine stitch a blind hem. The sleeves were long--almost to my wrist--now they are a little longer than three quarter length. The sleeves are still a length that I like. This little pile is now out of mending and into the closet so I can wear them!

I dislike mending so much; but, three years is a long time to procrastinate from completing a simple job. This was goal #9 of my list which you can review here and my second finish for the quarter!

It is back to work on the chicken and the QAYG projects; BUT, my sweet hubby and I are recently back from spending 10 days in France. The next posts will be about the trip!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Month 6 of 8 QAYG-(Quilt As You Go)--Part Two

Whoops. . .I posted a bit out of order; but, here is part two of Month 6 of 8!!  After I experienced so many challenges with trying to maintain a consistency with the ruler and trying to hit the marks as I quilted using the spacing gauge, I decided "in the neighborhood" was as good as it was going to get. I reminded myself that this is a learning project and to stop being so hard on myself.
Using the rotary cutting ruler as an
spacing gauge

Block three was another star. I attempted to place a curved line around the outer edge of the design to give the illusion that one was looking at a flower. Granddaughter K called it a flower so I thought that she was extra smart! I didn't do near the ripping that I had done on the other blocks.

I did try a different alignment technique which worked better for me. I used a small rotary cutting ruler to ensure that the angle I was going to stitch was the correct one. I then butted the template ruler next to the rotary cutting ruler. I removed the rotary cutting ruler and stitched. My lines were straighter and more consistent using this method.

Again I stitched vertical lines for the background. It is good enough and I'm glad that it is finished!
Block 3 of 8
Block 4 of 8

Block four was another opportunity to use my eye to gauge the center of the block and to line the end of the ruler template at that point. I was better; but, still not great. I again stitched vertical lines as the background fill. I will probably have at least two blocks that either contain a vertical or a horizontal straight line fill just so that when I get to putting all the blocks together, these blocks will have some consistency.

Now to get on with the next four blocks as time is ticking away'!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Month 7 of 8 QAYG (Quilt As You Go)

Block 5 of 8
It was curious, but, in the links that I was sent to complete month 7 and 8, I was missing the video/directions to one of the blocks. One of my friends who is in the same class sent me her link and ta da. . .there it was! Interestingly, she was missing some information from the eighth month which I had. Something must have happened in the cyberspace when this information was coming to us.

I added the cross hatching and straight lines to the center motif to add some interest. I chose to use straight lines to quilt the background and I used a variety of widths to create some interest.

Again, I struggled with having the eye to get back to the center of the block each time; but, I called it good enough and moved on to stitching the next block.

Block 6 of 8
Stitching this block was a little like stitching giant pebbles! I can see using this to quilt a baby quilt. I liked the texture that it provided. Once I got the hang of how to travel, stitching the block went quickly. I stitched this with one start and one stop!
Block 7 of 8

This block was the one that I liked to stitch because I learned how to use a different template to stitch the pattern in the border squares on point. I also can see how this design would be fun in a quilt that needed some fireworks!

I stitched the last two blocks in less than half the time it took me to stitch the first block that I posted!
Block 8 of 8

I liked stitching the last block because we used the templates in a different manner and created our own design. I like the concept of what if I. . . .what will that look like??? kinds of queries. I was able to stitch this block without too much angst!

We use the 4" arc, the spin effects and curved ruler to create the design and I was better at "hitting" the mark.

Now it is on to trimming and sashing these blocks!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Month 6 of 8 QAYG (Quilt As You Go)--Part One

The quilt shop where I'm attending the lectures for the QAYG project, canceled the class for July. When we met in June, I learned we get to stitch eight 12"x15" blocks. The class was canceled in July because we had already received the videos in June on how to stitch the blocks. Of course, I was side tracked working on the HH Hall project and that chicken project.  In June, I didn't stitch any blocks. It doesn't take me long to get behind! 😀

I decided my goal was to finish all eight of the blocks by the August meeting. Sure, I may not make it; but, I'm going to try! The idea is that we would have our tops together for the August meeting; but, I'm doubtful that I will be that productive as I so want to see that chicken project hanging on my wall instead of in my "in process" pile!

Block 1 of 8
Back to QAYG, I watched the video for the first block and then tried to stitch it. Watching the video, I felt confident that I could stitch this block. I started and had a dose of reality! I don't know why it was so difficult for me to mark the lines on the block; but, it was. The actual stitching of the block went okay. A couple of times, I neglected to put the ruler on the correct line and I "got" to rip that section to stitch again.

I also had a challenge stitching the background; but, after way too many hours, I finished it!  My challenge was that I had trouble keeping the spacing of the lines even.

Often the first block stitched is the easiest and the difficulty increases.

Using tape to mark a line

I started the second block. We were instructed to mark a line on our template to stitch the petal of a flower which was a cool way to use the template in a different way.  I stitched and then I ripped and then I repeated that sequence many more times! Stitching the motif was covered on the video and then we were given the direction to quilt the background as we wished!

Part of the issue with my frustration was that I couldn't tell in the video how the demonstrater was holding the template so that she was able to return to the starting position. Secondly, I couldn't tell how to measure the distance with the spacing gauge. (We were supposed to use the inch mark and measure from the stitching line to the template edge.)

Obviously, when my lines didn't match, I wasn't using the spacing gauge correctly or perhaps, I let the ruler slip!

First background
I really tried to have success; but, it wasn't happening. The project wasn't fun and I was getting more and more frustrated. So, I decided that the more stitches there are in the block; the less noticeable are the errors.  I just stitched. I finished it. While I liked the curved cross hatching effect, I don't know that I could replicate it.

I also understand that we should be figuring out our own background fills; but, my creative muse is on hiatus. I would have rather had some visual options to have a jumping off place for my creativity.  Perhaps, my muse would have engaged a little faster had I had this help.  In the video, the demonstrater verbally provides some options. I eventually figured out a background fill.

I've also been thinking about why I have such difficulty in hitting the points and keeping my lines even. I love the effect of ruler work, so I haven't given up yet. Below are some of the reasons I'm working through. If I only see the effect and can't figure out the cause, I'm not going to get past the issues I created!

--Perhaps, my ruler foot isn't round.
--Perhaps, my perspective is different when holding the ruler at the back of the machine and my perspective is different when holding at either side or the front of the machine.
--Perhaps, the width of my marked line makes a difference.
--Perhaps, I've stretched the fabric as I've stitched and that creates additional space.

Block 2 of 8
After stitching some of the background fill, I decided it was too blah. So I ripped and created something else. As I stitched the second background, I was having fun!

This design would have been more impactful had I quilted some of the areas more densely; but, I decided that I wasn't going to put that much effort into this block! After all, this project is a learning experience!

I'll post about the next two blocks in another post!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Grands and Their Retreat at Papa's and Gran's

Enjoying an ice cream cone on the patio
When the Grands arrived for their retreat at our house, they were excited for a sleep over! They also put their order in for lunch. Miss K chose green salad. They prefer their salad ingredients to be separate and they prefer to serve themselves. I was not only surprised at how much salad they ate; but that they chose to eat it three times as a main dish! They like lettuce, peppers, carrots, cucumbers and jicama the best.

Purple basil ice cream
We baked cookies, blueberry muffins, sourdough pancakes and sourdough bread either on the day it was overcast or after breakfast; but, it was too hot to bake fruit cobbler.  Corn on the cob is a favorite vegetable and a couple evenings we had ice cream cones for dessert. Miss K added some purple basil to her cone which made it "delicious!" They also pretended the ice cream cones were microphones and serenaded us with a live musical show complete with dance moves. What a hoot! It was entertainment at its best because the music was original!

We had lots of activities lined up because the grands like to be busy! Our place is perfect for kid play. There are trees to climb and hide behind. There is a barn that can house pretend chickens, horses and cows. There is plenty of flat space for running games. The whole property is fenced and not near a street!

The rules for playing outside are few:
--Tell Papa or Gran that you are going to go outside
--Wear shoes
--Take Bailey (the dog)
--If called, come fast

Papa is being directed to make
a stepping stone
It took until Saturday before they each were following the outside rules. One had a tough time with coming when called and wearing shoes; they both thought that one of us needed to be outside with them.They both were great about telling us that they were headed outside.

We went to the library; we played in two parks and we gave Bailey a bath! We were in bed by 8:30 each evening and asleep soon after reading some stories. We read a really good chapter book too! Most mornings, they were up between five and six. I'm fortunate that I am an early riser!

The stepping stones; K's is second from the left; J's is the first on the left.
Papa helped the Grands make some stepping stones. There were lots of "gems" to create whatever they liked. Papa did a lot of helping; but, they were able to choose the design and materials to make there own creation. They took their creations home so they would have a memory of their retreat with us. Then they chose where our three stones should be placed. Daughter "A" purchased these for me at Christmas so it was fun to get these to the useable stage!

J's sleeping space
One of my favorite photos of the weekend was one of Miss J's sleeping spaces. (She had a different place to sleep every night although after a couple of hours, she snuggled in next to me!) Note the books, alarm clock and penguin pillow that she and her sister stitched earlier in the year.

K is so much like her mama and J is so much like her auntie that at times it was like we were watching our girls again.  Their parents are raising two awesome daughters. (Yes, I know that I'm biased!) We may do this again next year.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Published Blog and Here's the Proof!

Dust jacket covers 
Last year sometime, Luann over at Let's Create Today, posted that she had printed her blogs into a book form. At the time, I thought it was a great idea and a super way to preserve my posts. I forgot all about doing it. Then, when I posted about my second anniversary of blogging, Luann reminded me again.

Sample of the page
Luann, I needed your reminder! I visited Blog2Print. In a short time, I had made my choices and previewed what my book would look like! One of the choices that I made was that my posts followed each other--this option would decrease the total amount of pages. I liked being able to choose the photo that I wanted for the front and back of the dust cover. I liked what I saw so placed an order to print the first year of my blog! I split the year into two volumes. Last year I posted twice as often; so I'm thinking that I will have thicker volumes next time!

It was a little expensive; but, then when I remember losing several years of my previous blog posts when the host site did an update, the cost wasn't a factor. Today, the volumes arrived. It took about two weeks from placing my order until they arrived. I do plan to publish my blog from last year and will watch for a sale. I was able to take advantage of half off additional pages and will wait for a similar deal to order again.

Thanks, Luann for the little nudge. I'm glad I have a paper record of my posts!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pebbles. . .COMPLETE!!!!

Pebbled background. . .COMPLETE!

Approximately 60 hours later, I did it! I've quilted the background of this chicken wallhanging with pebbles. Yes, it felt like a forever project! I'm glad I listened to the quilt telling me that it wanted all those pebbles because those pebbles do put the emphasis on the chickens!

Fifth chicken quilted
I also have completed quilting all the chicken bodies! In the chicken above, I used a metallic thread in the darker part of the print on her leg and thigh. I like how I was able to mimic the line from her neck to her tail.
Sixth and final chicken quilted
I used a light blue thread on the above chickens wing and generally used the print of the fabric to guide my quilting. I especially liked how the quilting on the brown fabric worked. Time to quilt all these chicken bodies and the center rooster--Approximately 18!

I was asked in the last chicken post if I had any tips of working with metallic thread. I'm going to share what works for me here:
--The brand seems to matter. Superior metallic, Floriani metallic and Sulky Gold metallic on a stacked spool cause me fewer challenges than Fil-Tec Glisten metallic, Sulky sliver or other Sulky metallic threads. (I'll explain about a stacked spool in a couple lines!) The more rough or wiry the thread feels to the touch, the more temperamental it is for me.
--I use a 90 top stitch needle. If the thread wants to shred, I will try an 80 or 90 metallic needle. I also start with a new needle.
--I pay attention to how the thread is feeding. If it is a cross wound spool, I use the horizontal thread holder; if it is a stacked spool, I use the vertical thread holder. Click the link to learn more about cross wound and stacked threads. The less the thread twists, the happier you will be! I've even used a thread stand which allows the metallic thread to relax.
--I stitch slowly and watch to see if the thread is trying to shred. If it is, I stitch shorter passes.
--I may lower the top tension and I stitch a bit on my practice sample to ensure I am going to have success.
If you use metallic threads, what tip would you share?

French knots to give texture to the grapes
What is left with this project? Plenty!  
--stitching veins in a few leaves
--stitching the brown vine where the leaves attach
--the flowers need quilting
--a few buds and irregular leaves need quilting
--grapes need texture
--the border needs quilting

I tried my hand at stitching French knots on the grapes. I like the texture the hand stitching provides. I like using a perle cotton thread that was gifted to me years ago. I just about have figured out how to hide my knot and to travel so my stitching shows little on the back of the project.

Then it will be on to applying the facing and the sleeve.
More to come; but, progress feels TERRIFIC!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Little Helpers and Pebbles

J watching the needle move. She, of course, asked to go
faster. . .so we did!!!
The neck/back issue is improving. Ugh. . .it has been painful. I haven't slept well. I've used my ice bag LOADS! BUT, the pain is a bit less and so I'm forging ahead with the chicken quilting. I asked for help and of course, the grands complied! It has been way too long for me since they wanted to do any stitching. So when J asked to sew, I was ecstatic!

My goal is to quilt a couple of hours in a day. Some days, I can do an extra hour and some days, I only last about half an hour! Ahh. . .the trials and tribulations of an injured body rebelling!!

K focused on the needle to ensure we were making
"round" pebbles!
When it was K's turn to stitch, she asked questions about how the thread "tied." Good question for a five year old! My answer seemed to satisfy her curiosity! As we formed pebble after pebble, she said, "This is a lot of pebbles! You are getting good at making them!" Ahh, her comment made me smile! I asked her if she wanted to go faster and she said, she liked the speed we were going!

From the photo, you can see that my reorganization is in process. I've sorted some like items and have been taking a little time to sort a pile or at least reduce the height of it!

Threads used to quilt one chicken
Before I tackled the HH Hall Building project, I wrote about choosing a thread that was the same value of the spot I wanted to quilt if I didn't have the exact color of the thread. In the photo, you can see that the spots that I'm quilting are gray; however, I didn't have the "right" shade of gray to blend so, I used a thread that was comparable in value. I now know that I can get away with quilting a blue, green and a cream thread on a gray fabric with positive results!

Adding feather texture following the
print in the fabric
I also wanted to share just how much texture the quilting does provide on those chicken bodies. In the photo above I've just quilted one part of the texture. It amazed me at how much definition a few stitches gave to that part of the bird!
Almost finished chicken
I did use the ruler to quilt the straight lines and I did use a blue water soluble pen to mark the curve lines for the breast. I like how the metallic silver thread on the feet gave this chicken a little "bling!"

Metallic thread outlines the metallic line that was printed in the fabric
Speaking of metallic thread, I used some gold and stitched around the fabric print to quilt part of this chicken.
Sixth chicken quilted
I like the overall result! At this point, I have two more backgrounds to quilt and about one and a half chickens to quilt. Then it will be on to quilting the border, adding seeds to the grapes, finishing any flowers, leaves, vines that I hadn't quilted. So. . .I'm still not finished; but, I am making progress!!!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Crib Quilt--1st finish for 3rd quarter Finish A Long(FAL) 2017

Goal #11 on 3rd quarter FAL list
This project was goal #11 on my Finish A Long list for this quarter. The reason I finished it was because the grands spent a Thursday from 12:30PM to Sunday at 11AM retreat with Papa and me! Their mom and their dad were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary and asked if the grands could come for an extended weekend. It was a win for all involved!

This little kit was on the free table at the last guild meeting. JoJo thought it would be a fun project for the grands so she snagged it for me.

J was up most mornings at 5AM. K was up most mornings by 6AM. It is good that I am an early riser! What we did in the morning was sew! Thursday evening, I shared the crib project with them. They thought it was a good idea so when they were up early on Friday, we cut out the squares and pieced the top before breakfast! They chose the location for each square and I didn't change their design.

Finished top with J
The kit came with seven different  Minky fabrics that were roughly 14 inch squares.  Thirty squares that finished to 6 inches were needed to make the project. That meant the kit was short fabric for two 6 1/2 inch squares! (Perhaps, this was the reason the kit was on the free table!) The tag said that there were eight fabrics so that fabric probably has a story to tell somewhere!

We pieced one square; but, there wasn't enough to piece two squares! At the last guild meeting, someone left a cat embroidery on the free table. J saw it pinned to the wall and  thought it would be a good choice. So we auditioned the cat embroidery. The cat was the "purrrfect" addition!

J learning pin basting
I wasn't able to take the time to toss the squares into the dryer to see if the Minky fabric would "shed" less.  When the grands are interested in stitching, I wanted to be stitching!

I didn't find that there was too much shedding though. Stitching the Minky was challenging. In one direction, the Minky doesn't stretch which is great. The other direction, however, it stretches a lot! We had a hard time matching our seams and in the end we decided the baby wouldn't care!

After breakfast, we looked through my stash for a backing fabric. K was surprised in all my fabrics, there wasn't one that would do! K said we needed yellow. So we took a trip to Fabric Depot. We found the perfect piece of flannel! Yes, she was correct that yellow was the perfect choice! We bought the yard that the directions stated.
We came home and washed it. We also bought a thin cotton batting (Quilter's Dream Select).
K could almost close the pins.
Saturday morning, J and I pieced the back. The flannel shrunk enough that we wouldn't have enough left for the binding too.  Luckily, I had a piece of flannel in my stash left from when their mama was a baby. J thought that the bunny motif would be just right! I like pieced backs so in a way, I was glad we didn't have enough fabric!

Then, we stretched the back on the kitchen table. J's eyes were so big when I used blue tape to hold it in place along with plastic "Ds." The Ds (J's word) are what one would use to keep an outdoor tablecloth from blowing off the table. J's eyes were even bigger when we started pinning the layers. K got in on the pinning. She could almost close the pins herself.

J picked the bunnies to piece the back

Saturday during their quiet time, I stitched in the ditch so the piece was ready for quilting. It was more challenging to feed the fabric with free motion quilting; but, it was not as difficult as I had anticipated. I attached the walking foot and used a longer stitch length--4--on the Bernina. I made a few passes to test the process.

In the afternoon, they took turns sitting in my lap steering to quilt the piece. Sorry, taking photos while they stitched didn't cross my mind! We used yellow cotton thread for most of the quilting. Quilting this way was fun and it was easy. I like the texture they made!

Custom fill job as per the grands request

The grands got to the last row and decided that they had stitched enough. K said that I could finish; BUT, could I please not use yellow thread around the cat? I used white and stitched different background fills. J liked that the cat "puffed" now!"

Close up of the grands' quilting

Sunday morning, we cut the binding, pieced it and stitched it. . .again before breakfast. Our corners could have been better. . .but, they were happy with the project and I am too. For sitting on my lap as we stitched, the binding turned out well! It is the first time that I have sewn with Minky and flannel! K likes the designing best and J likes the quilting best.

Now we just need a baby to gift it to!
K showing off the finished crib quilt (30"x 36")

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quilting Lines Among the Pebbles

Pebbles filling the background
I'm progressing with the pebbles. I've quilted some lines in the bodies of the chickens to take a break from going around and around. I had a question about why I decided to use silk thread to quilt the majority of this piece. For this project, I wanted the emphasis to be on the appliqué. To me, this means that the thread choices in the quilting will be subtle and the quilting motifs will provide texture in such a manner that is also subtle. Silk thread is great for providing texture. It is light weight and the little bit of sheen that reflects from the light heightens the effect of the quilting texture.

Silk thread is expensive. I have spent about $27 just quilting these pebbles! Wonderfil 100 weight polyester called InvisaFil and Superior 100 weight polyester called MicroQuilter would probably work too although, I haven't used those threads that way. . .yet!

Threads that blend, quilting that provides texture
Most of the time for this project, I've chosen a thread color that blends with the fabric. Consequently, the quilting isn't seen right away. If I don't have a thread that is close to the background color, I will use one that has a similar value. Sometimes, if I don't have a thread that seems to work at all, I'll audition a metallic thread.
Third chicken quilted!

Another question I've had, is how do I decide how to quilt a section. I spend a lot of time thinking about that!! Sometimes, I use the curve of the shape to put in a stitching line. (This was how I quilted most of this chicken's body!) Sometimes, I use the design in the fabric to stitch. (This was how I quilted the feet!) Sometimes, I want to convey a feeling of a shape. In this case, I wanted these chickens to have definite feathers. Sometimes, I test my thought of a shape by drawing chalk lines and then stepping back to see if what I envisioned in my head is going to work. See the lines in the photo of the close up of the third chicken?

Notice in the photo above, I quilted a different line than what I had envisioned and chalked in the  close up photo. Sometimes, what I envision in my head doesn't work on the project! Did you see the metallic thread that I used to give some of the feathers around his head a little bling? I did make some progress with quilting the background too! Below is a close up of the head.
Metallic thread usage
I did quilt another chicken. I neglected to snap a "before" photo. My favorite parts of this block are the comb, the space under the beak and the feet. I've used a thread with similar value for the comb to create that textured effect. I used the fabric design to quilt the space below the beak and the feet.
Fourth chicken quilted
I used a metallic thread to set off the feet. I now have four chickens left to quilt.  Hey. . .I'm half way! Of course, there is that pebbling to be done too!
Metallic thread use on the feet.
The stitch work is slow going as I'm still working through that darn painful neck and back issue!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Quilting the HH Hall Building Project

Threads used during the machine appliqué process
I've been living and breathing this building project for sometime now.  I'm supposed to deliver it to the person applying the binding by August 1. In my last post, I wondered how long it would take me to stitch down all those pieces.

Zig zag around the fused pieces

It took about five hours for me to stitch around all the fused pieces. I thought that it would take more time than that; but, then again, it is a smallish piece! I'm sharing a photo of most of the threads I used. Isn't it amazing how many different colors I used?
Pin basted and ready to quilt

Now, it is on to the quilting stage. I used those threads to quilt this piece. Once those threads are out of their storage area, I keep them out until I've finished the project. I'll also use some silk threads. The batting is White and Warm. One of the group quilted her piece in this and offered the rest of us pieces so that we all used the same batting. It wasn't a "rule" to use the same batting; but, I decided that I would take her up on her offer!

As is my practice, I begin the quilting by stabilizing the piece which means I stitched around all the shapes. This does take some time; but, this step helps keep the fullness--if there is some--evenly distributed.
Stitched around the shapes and then added a few more lines
Once I've stitched around all the shapes, I start to play! The chalk line you see below is the finished edge of the piece. The quilting took me about five hours. Remember, I quilt 15-20 minutes and then take a little break and then repeat!

To achieve the shading that you see around the sidewalk, I used a marker. Gosh, I've been using those quite a bit!!!
Evidence of a little thread play

Photo of my section
 It isn't stitched quilted as densely as I would have quilted it had it been my own project. Since each piece is supposed to match the next piece, others may have decided just what I did! Thanks Lynn C. for letting me know that I was on the right track! I have seen one other project in the fused phase.

I have taken this piece to the person who will bind it along with all the others. I have seen a couple other projects. Knowing what I know now, I would have quilted it more.

It will, however, be great to see the building "assembled" with all eight pieces in October at the Featured Artist Show. I'll share photos at the end of the show. I'm pleased with this almost finish!
Reading for the facing and the sleeve
Now it is back to that "pesky" chicken project!