Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thread Dancing on my Quilt

IMG_0514  The windy, rainy weather has given me lots of time to dance with thread all over my quilt.  Luckily somehow the electricity has not gone off even once, with the 50+ mile an hour winds we have been having this surprises me.  When the wind stops blowing and rain takes a break I go outside and can’t believe how crisp and clean everything is, those times have made wonderful breaks then the wind picks up or the rain comes down and I am back inside dancing with the thread again.

I have been sticking to my plan to tackle free motion quilting and build my confidence so that I can finish some all of the quilt tops that I have enjoyed piecing.  I want to be able to put them to good use and enjoy them or give them to someone who will.  I have been following Sew Cal Gal’s quilt classes and Leah Day, who has some wonderful videos.  At the beginning of the month I printed out the class by Ann Fahl on Sew Cal Gal’s website.  I read and re-read her lesson.  It was jam packed with helpful tips and lots of quilting food for thought.  She didn’t give us any real fantastic design to quilt, but went further than that with tips on needles, thread, feet, marking, batting and making a notebook of ideas.  I have been pinning quilting I love on Pinterest so I pasted my pins in Word and printed them all out for my inspiration notebook.  I left extra space by each picture to practice a little drawing of the design.  I found this very helpful on my current project.  Ann also covered a topic that I have problems with and that is how to get my quilt sandwich layered just right.  She uses dressmaker cutting boards to pin your layers on and then she steams them with an iron to help to block the whole thing just right.  I am going to have to get a few of those boards and give this method a try.  I think I could lay them on my table and that would get me off the floor with my painters tape.

I am quilting the quilt I put together last year making blocks of things that reminded me of Summer.  I am calling it my Summer Sampler.  I got the idea from a book I read about making a diary quilt.  This is the perfect quilt for trying out lots of different quilt designs.  Quilting with white thread doesn’t really show up very well in pictures, but I will try to post them here and see how they work.   IMG_0507

This is the background of a watering can where I tried out a loopy flower design.  I can see that I have a little space at the bottom I should have filled a little more.  I get a little worried when I get to the edges and it shows here, but I had fun and it was done all too quick.  Ann talked a bit about stippling which is something I have never done much of, but I guess this is a form of stippling.  I don’t usually like stippling on a quilt and I find it kind of difficult to do and make it look right.IMG_0509   More practicing…

Here I am working on the edge of my quilt and will have 3 different designs just on the border.  Those last triangles are what I am working on now and just quilting some straight lines in them.

My biggest problem though has been on how to mark my quilts.  I know I should mark them before I sandwich them, but I can never decide exactly how I want to quilt it.  Sometimes I decide while I am sitting there with the needle in my piece.  On this quilt I drew on it with a Sewline pencil then remembered that I had a FriXion pen so I also used that and I even tried my transfer pencil in one spot and traced the design I wanted on paper and ironed it on.  I also tried sewing on paper and using my Pounce chalk with that, but found it hard to see.  For straight lines I used a ruler and my chalk roller and that I like the best, but it isn’t always practical.  I can’t wait to wash this quilt and make sure that they all wash out.  The funny thing is that after all that marking experimenting the thing I liked the best was to just wing it with no marking.  I found that if I spend some time drawing a design over and over on paper I can usually just sit down and sew it without much of a problem.  I am not fond of ripping out quilting so I usually leave my booboos there unless it is something major.IMG_0508

One of my favorite brainstorms on this project was to quilt into the quilt “quilted by ferne March 2012”.  Now that is there forever, a record in my diary quilt.  I still have to make a label for the back and I should have attached it before I quilted it, but I am kind of hung up on how I want to do it so I figure I will stitch it on later and work it in with the binding.

My favorite part of quilting is looking at the back.  There are no marks and with this light colored back all the quilting shows and somehow all the mistakes seem to disappear.  I really can’t wait to wash this quilt and see it in its quilty fluffiness.

IMG_0512 I am doing all this on my Janome 6600 and loving it!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Neighborhood is Coming Together

IMG_0495 We have been having quite a bit of stormy weather here in our real life neighborhood which has given me lots of sewing time.  Oh, I could and probably should be doing other things like cleaning house and baking cookies, but I got a little wrapped up with this sewing project and couldn’t tear myself away.  I am so close to being done with the piecing on this, just 2 more seams actually.  It has all just fit together so nicely and I am thrilled with that.  When you have a border with so many seams it is easy for things to stretch and get wonky sometimes, but I have measured and re-measured and pinned and handled the whole thing with kid gloves and it is all paying off.  I just have the long sides to put on now.

   IMG_0497 The corners in the pattern were just a plain beige square that they quilted a sun on.  That looked nice enough, but I always wanted to make a change of my own and after chatting with the guy of the house who always has wonderful suggestions for my quilts we decided that there needed to be an apple tree in this quilt since we have an orchard and all.  He actually started searching the internet for apple tree quilt blocks and we found that fit perfectly in the corner.  The only thing is that it is a little larger than the other trees, but I have decided to keep it because it has some of the other design elements that are on the inside of the quilt and now carried through to the corners.  I am really liking this quilt top.  Now for the quilting.  I have mentioned in the last post that I have a few quilt tops waiting for me to get to the quilting on and this is because I get stumped her as to what to quilt.  Quilts I have quilted in the past have stumped me initially too, but when I just start quilting it usually all just comes to me.  I have tried marking a quilt, but rarely do I stick to the marked design and before I know I am off and doing something else altogether and with now marked lines to follow I find that it frees me to be creative.  The hardest part of the quilting for me is to just start!  I have never quilted a quilt quite this big and that part frightens me a little, but when I look at the quilt I can see that I will just break it up into sections and think of each section as a small quilt on its own.

Well, it is another stormy day so I will get those last sides on and still have time to clean and bake if all goes according to the plan I have worked up over my morning coffee!

Enjoying these stormy days!


Friday, March 09, 2012

Building a Quilt Neighborhood

IMG_0472 It was a cold and windy day and my day off work so what’s a girl to do?  Clean or sew?  Well, of course I sewed!  I made 2 more churches and 2 schools for my Around the Block quilt I only have 2 houses and 10 fences left to make then I can put them all together and sew them around the quilt I pieced a few months ago.  This has been a fun project!  The kind you almost don’t want to see end.  I learned a lot from this pattern on the construction of a house block and now I have a project in my head to make a wall hanging of my own house.  I drew it on paper and now I need to put it on EQ so that I can get the measurements right and get to work.  That won’t be for a while though because IMG_0470 when I finished playing all day with my fabrics I went through the stack of finished quilt tops I have and matched them up with their backs and battings and realized that I have everything to finish 3 quilts and maybe even 4.  I had been putting off doing the quilting on these because I wasn’t confident in my quilting skills, but I have been doing a lot of practicing and I think the time has come to tackle them one by one.  The hardest part now is to lay them out, sandwich them and baste them.  I usually use a light coat of spray baste then pin and recently I started using wash away thread and basting from top to bottom, side to side, and corner to corner.  Sounds like I am a little paranoid, but it works really well!

IMG_0468 I have been watching enviously the group that has committed to making a house a day for the whole year.  These are not quite like my houses, the finished blocks are only 3 inches and that is tiny for so much detail.  So I found a paper piecing pattern and set out to make just one.  The paper made it so much easier, but it took me almost as long as it did to make those 2 school houses you see up there.  I might get faster with time, but for now I am glad that I gave it a try and didn’t write it off as something I just can’t do.  I had intended to use the red for the front of the house but, I got a little forgetful and now my window doesn’t show because it blends in.  I can see that is important to keep contrast so that all your hard work shows.  I think I will put a border on it and I could use it for a coaster in my sewing area!

IMG_0469 I like to follow a Yahoo group called Small Quilt Talk.  The group is led by author Kathleen Tracy who has written several books on making small quilts.  She chooses projects each month for the group to do as a challenge and they really have fun with them.  I keep meaning to join in and do some challenges, but have yet to have found the time.  The March challenge is a little quilt with baskets and the handles are appliqué which I always seem to find challenging somehow.  I decided that the handle would be simple enough and I should give it a try.  It was pretty simple and I really enjoyed the hand sewing.  Who knows maybe next I will just hand quilt one of those quilts on my pile.


After a day of staying in I got to spend a day out in the yard and look what I found…read more about it on my other blog Growing Thymes.

Thanks for visiting!


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Quilting Granny Squares

IMG_0456IMG_0460 I think I first saw this on Pam Kitty’s blog who got on the bandwagon early to join the quilt along going on at Dana’s Old Red Barn blog.  Dana got the pattern, with permission, from Jolene at Blue Elephant Stitches.  What a fun and addictive block.  I pulled out all my scraps that I had sorted by color and stuffed into bags a few years ago, so glad I did that.  Can you believe I found that I had already cut lots of 2 1/2” blocks in all the colors?  Oh, yeah that was for another unfinished project.  I also found a Jelly Roll for the background fabric, but I am running a little low on that.  I have already IMG_0461made 10 blocks and can’t wait to make some more.  this is also a great block for using that die I got for my Go Baby cutter, it sure makes lots of those 2 1/2” squares in no time.  I am thinking of making these blocks into into 2 table toppers for 2 special ladies that are always doing nice things for us and they have told me that they both love quilts…hint, hint.  I got the hint and have been searching for just the right scrappy quilt that will go with any decor and I think this is it.  If it looks fun to you or something you might want to try doing just one, you know for a hot pad or something,  you can get the tutorial from Jolene and go to Dana’s blog to see what people are posting on her flicker group.  The quilt along was suppose to start today, but there are already lots of blocks posted on flicker.  Fun project girls!  Boy when a few quilters get together it always amazes me what they can accomplish, maybe I should invite some quilting friends over and see if the bathroom would get cleaned.

IMG_0463 Oh, the star block is a paper pieced block that I found on Pinterest this week which led me to new to me blog called Six White Horses.  I had a little trouble figuring out how to get it to print, but once I got that figured out printing 4 pages was a breeze, I only wish I had remembered to use my paper piecing paper in the printer.  Printer paper works great if you set your stitch length to a really short stitch so that it perforates the paper more making it come off easily, but I was a little rusty on my paper piecing so these things came back to me when it was a little late.  Needless to say tearing the paper off was a little difficult.  I did take all the paper off from the center before I sewed it thank goodness because where all those seams come together would really be hard to get the paper out.  Being that this was a little more difficult to do I don’t think I will be doing 10 of them, but one was fun and I am really happy with the results.

Quilting and piecing…my favorite ways to pass the time on a rainy day…