Tuesday, July 31, 2012

UFO Progress

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark .

I must confess that very little progress has occurred on this month't UFO.  I did however find a backing for it.  After looking through my stash I came up with a handful of possibilities and settled on this one.  It is the right color, it has a masculine look and there is enough of it - and my husband said he liked it best out of the other choices.  What more could I want?  Oh yeah -- to have it finished. LOL

Backing fabric for the Sports Quilt

I did get one other thing done this month in the way of the UFO Challenge.  I GOT PICTURES of all the quilts on my list.  You can see them HERE!

I'm linking to the UFO Report at Patchwork Times.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Design Wall Progress

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
Benjamin Franklin

Progress has been made on the Zen blocks.  There are 49 of them now.

Zen Blocks

I finally got the Hint of Tint, Sawtooth Star top pressed.  I had finished piecing the top together several weeks ago.  I had put off pressing it because we were having so many 100 degree and over days that the thought of ironing just did not appeal.  It is done now.  Serged the edges today to keep all those seams from coming apart at the edges.

Hint of Tint Top

Can not show you a full view.  No place to hang it and show it all set up yet.  It is about an 80 inch square.

Center of Quilt

Here is a closer look at the center row.  The blue star is the center block of the quilt.

Favorite Block

I like this block.  It is one of the brighter ones.  Working in pastels is harder because even though the color palette may be varied the value palette is much more limited.  Each block only used two fabrics so I tried to make sure and vary the scale of prints within the blocks.  Some are intentionally lower in contrast than others.  I added light tone on tone white/cream backgrounds to three blocks to provide a bit more value contrast.

How do you like to work with pastels?  Do you find it easy or hard?

Monday, July 23, 2012

In A Meditative Mode

Without the meditative background that is criticism, works become isolated gestures, historical accidents, soon forgotten.
Milan Kundera

The quote above seems to be the perfect way to open a Design Wall Monday post.  The purpose of having a design wall is so we can critic and edit our work as it progresses.  Having quilted for many years without one, I now have two, I did make use of the floor, a table and the bed when it was time to lay out blocks.  Now I am finding it so much easier to stand back and decide where things need to go or change.

Here are the blocks I have been working on off and on for a while.  The pattern was in the American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine February 2009 issue.  It is called Zen.

Pieced Zen Blocks

The pattern call for an alternating plain block.  I haven't cut any yet.  I have been buying a few more batiks because I didn't have a diverse enough selection for them.  My original thought was to use all pieced blocks.  Many of these were made from a sampler roll of batiks I had purchased at a show so I didn't have yardage or even fat quarters.  They were 6" x 18" pieces and I could get the block cut with just a few inches to spare.

More Balancing Act Blocks
The Balancing Act Blocks are still coming along.  I'm still cutting and sewing them.  It is a great one for using up some of my floral bits and pieces.  You can find the link for the block in my first post about them.

Back to today's meditative process.  Do you think the Zen blocks need the plain alternate blocks (they would be scrappy also) or do you like the pieced blocks alone?

I'm linking to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story  Check out what everyone else has been up to.

Bundled Cords

No cord or cable can draw so forcibly, or bind so fast, as love can do with a single thread.

Robert Burton

Do you get frustrated with the electrical cords to your laptop or sewing machine when you travel?  Sometimes they seem to wrap themselves around everything and get into knots too!  A few years ago I found/heard a hint that helped solve the problem.  I have been using it for a while but it brought about another problem so here is my solution to the solution to my problem.

All neat and tidy!

Yes, that is a pony tail holder.  They are cheap and effective in bundling the cord and keeping it from getting tangled but there is a problem that develops over time.  They loose their stretch.  Look how this one has grown!  The green one has begun to lengthen on the right side too.

All stretch and no snap back!

So here is what I did.  I cut away the stretched out elastic and replaced it with 1/4" wide elastic about an 8" piece of it.

Cut at 8 inches

Thread it through the 2 beads and stitch the ends together.  Then stitch the elastic together half way between the beads.  The stitching looked ugly so I reinforced it with a piece of ribbon.  I used 1/4" satin ribbon because I had some laying besides the sewing machine.  A larger width would be a little easier to work with.  Stitching through 1/4" elastic or ribbon takes a bit of fiddling around to get the little things to be still and lay together correctly.  If I had to do it again I would stitch it to a 1" wide piece of ribbon to start with,  wrap the ribbon around the joined elastic, stitch the ribbon down and then trim the ends off close and add a little Fray Check to keep it from unraveling.  Hindsight is such a marvelous thing!  LOL

With and Without Ribbon Added

The replaced elastic is softer and has more stretch.  It would easily fit around the bulkier cords like my serger has where the cord to the machine and foot control are attached to the cord that plugs into the wall.  If you don't have the pony tail holder you could make one with two large buttons or large wooden beads.

Do you think you will try this?

Go see what else is up this week at Karen's Sew Many Ways Sew Darn Crafty Linking Party

Storing Thread

Hope is the golden thread that should be woven into every experience of life.

Karen over at Sew Many Ways asked to see how her readers store their thread.  I took a few pictures of some of my thread but don't think this is all of it, because it's not!

Serger Thread
Nylon Serger Thread and Tinsel Cones

YLI Variegated, 2 Thread Boxes and Crochet Thread

 More Variegated, Bags of Similar Colors

Variegated Longarm Cones

Solid Longarm Cones

DMC Display Case Full

One Embroidery Floss Drawer

YLI Overstock

6 Containers of Fancy Threads

Fancy Threads include Rayons, Jeanstitch, Pearl Crown Rayon, Metallics, Kreniks, and several others.

Metallics Container

So that's a little of it.  I have 3 more wall racks, another thread box, a couple of boxes of YLI and at least 2000 skeins of J P Coats floss.  Need any of it?  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.

An Open View

I have been reading blogs for quite a while now and wanting to write one for almost as long, over five years.  I have spent a bit of time thinking about how I would like mine to appear, still working on that, and what I could do or write on it that might have an impact on the lives of my readers.  

Written words are important to me.  Without question I have spent more time reading in my life than I have almost anything else other than sleeping.  I have been an avid reader since childhood and have had a page on my computer for collecting quotes for almost as long as I have had a computer (the early 90's).  I have also collected a few books of quotes and found numerous web pages of quotes.

I hope that the quotes I am adding to my blog posts speak to you.  It takes a little time to find something that 'fits' the posts, but I am trying.  There will probably be some added just to bring a smile or laugh.  I have gone back through my older posts and added quotes at the beginning of them as well.  If you haven't scrolled through them yet please do.

Please let me know what you think about me using quotes on my posts.
What do you do to make your posts special?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

UFO Challenge Pictures

Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
Cyril Northcote Parkinson
known as Parkinson's Law

OK, Now that the year is more than half over I finally get around to posting pictures for the UFO Challenge that Judy over at Patchwork times is doing.  I wanted to get a picture of the whole tops but finally gave up on the idea and just did what I could.  I used my design wall for the smaller ones but I can't get a full length  picture because to how the room is set up.  I think I've figured out a way to do it out on the edge of my deck but since it has been in the high 90's and above lately the idea just lost it's appeal.

So here's the pictures of what I still want to get finished this year.  Of the 12 I started with I have one done, but I have made progress on two of the others.

Sunflower Blooming Nine Patch

1. Sunflower Blooming 9 Patch - The top is together, it may need a border or two. 
The picture shows about a fourth of the quilt but you can't see the center.  It is pretty big.

Margaret's Irish Chain

2. Margaret's Irish Chain - Needs a few more blocks and borders.  
My daughter pieced this one when she was in her teens and working at my shop.  
She did a pretty good job, it was her second quilt.

Here's a close up.

Can you tell she loves animals?

Sports Quilt

3. Sports Quilt - Ready for the Longarm

Cobalt Blue Stars and Burgundy Plaid Homespun

Watercolor Log Cabin

4. Floral Log Cabin - Needs borders, this is a close up shot.  
The blocks are 10" square and it is king size.

5. Fall Leaf Flannel 4 Patch - Ready for the Longarm   FINISHED!!! May 2012
You can see it HERE.

Blue Skies Tribble Trouble

6. Blue Skies Tribble Trouble - Ready for the Longarm.  This one is about queen size.  
It was fun to make and I used a variety of sky prints in it.

Hunter's Star

7. Hunter's Star - Needs borders.  This was foundation pieced and was NOT fun to make.

Hunter's Star Close Up

Hunter's Star Foundation Side

Batik Circles

8. Batik Circles - Needs borders.  
I really love this quilt!!!  I want to do a really good job quilting it.

Circles Close Up

Out of the Bag

9. Scrappy Out of the Bag - Needs borders - Progress: Borders On, Binding Cut.  
This is one of Judy's patterns.

Bears in the Farmhouse

10. Bears in the Farmhouse - Needs final border.  Another of Judy's patterns.

Shortcut to School

11. Shortcut to School - Needs borders.  A Trudie Hughes pattern.

Winner's Bouquet

12. Winner's Bouquet - Blocks Done, - Progress: Center Sewn, Needs Borders, Fabric Selected.
I have the border fabrics pinned up.  Still debating the inner border.  This is a Terry Atkinson design.

That's the list.  I'm linking to the Quilter in the Gap 3rd Quarter Finish A Long 
and Judy's Design Wall Monday
and Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday
and Sew Happy Geek

Friday, July 13, 2012

Road Trip

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:  
What!  You, too?  I thought I was the only one.             
C. S. Lewis

I had to get out and see what was happening at A Scarlet Thread Quilt Shop.  I'd never been there but had wanted to go for several years. If the name sounds familiar it was featured in the May edition of Quilt Sampler.  You can read about it there or click on the link above.  It is about 25 miles from me and in a direction that I just don't normally have a reason to roam.  I found a few quilting friends to go with me and we made a day of it.  The shop was lovely and huge!

I have had a Block of Month Pattern that I really like since before I closed the shop and I have looked off and on, when I thought about it, for some background material for it.  I think I found some that will do and a few others for flowers and leaves.  They are all Batiks of course.

I really love Batiks!

The ones fanned out at the top are from a bundle of 1/2 yard cuts. The greens are a 5 yard bundle and then a few fat quarters for another project that's underway.  But they are all laying on 8 yards of such a beautiful blue!  Ahhhh!!!!  It takes me to 'My Happy Place'.  OK I know... but that's what my 26 year old says.

Who could resist?  Chickens and Chocolate!

Then I saw these fun pieces and had to have a little of them.  Some no calorie Truffles, they look so real that I want to go get some of the real ones (and there is a ice cream and candy shop on the square in town that sells them) and some chickens to add to a stack of chicken fabrics that may will become a quilt for a relative who is into chickens one day.
Then it was time for lunch.  We found a nice restaurant on the square in McDonough that was just right.  While there is was decided to go on to another shop that my friends had never been to in Jonesboro, Quilts and Fixins.  I had been there several times, Jean opened her shop a few years after I opened mine and we used to see each other at Shop Hop planning meetings.  She and her Mother would also visit my shop sometimes.

Can't have too many tools!

Since by then I'd had as much of a fabric fix as I could afford for the day I found some more tools!  I am something of a notions freak.  I found a 60 degree corner cut by Alicia's Attic.  It will help trim those triangle tips down.  I want to make a tumbler quilt (yes, I know I just quilted ONE but I didn't make it and I want to have smaller tumblers in mine) and I am a fan of Marti Michelle's tools.  I have a lot of them.  When I had the shop I ran several of her BOMs that used them.  I placed it on a sheet of paper so you could see it better.

After that stop, we headed for home.  Our newest quilting friend shared some wonderful blueberries from her yard with us. I made a pie with them last night.  DELICIOUS!!  It was a good day!  When you get a day to explore quilt shops what do you bring home?  Tools, fabric, books, patterns or something else.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Frayed Edges?

Ask the experienced rather than the learned.
Arabic Proverb

I hate to pre-wash my fabrics and end up with handfuls of threads, twisted, wrinkled and snarled fat quarters and a lot of ironing and snipping threads to clean up the mess.  There is a simple way to avoid it.

Quick and Easy Serging

Serge those raw edges before you throw the fabric in the wash!

What else do I use my serger for in my quilting?  When I finish a quilt top and give it a final press I serge the edges.  This locks all the seams on the outer edge of the quilt in case I didn't backstitch.  It also keeps the edges from fraying and releasing any more little threads that could show up in unwanted places.  When quilting on the longarm the line of serger threads at the edge give me a nice target area for when I'm stitching down the side edges of the quilt or along the top and bottom edges as I'm starting and finishing the quilting.

Edge Seam Ends Will Not Unravel

Here's a picture of the last one off my machine.  Maybe you can see the line of teal thread on the serger threads.  When the backing and batting are trimmed off the top edge of the quilt will be nice and neat.
There are a few things to remember when serging this way:
  • Make sure that your tension is not too tight.  That can cause the edges to be pulled up.  Loose tension is better than too tight.
  • If using cotton thread for serging it may shrink in the washer or dryer and pull the edge up or pucker it.  To correct this ( it will be obvious when you lay it flat on the cutting or ironing board) just use your seam ripper to cut the needle thread(s) every 3 or 4 inches and then pull the fabric taunt across the width of the seam.  Enough stitches will unwind to relax the serged edge.
  • A curved surgical type cutter works better and faster to remove a serged seam than a seam ripper.
  • Trim the 'tails' of the serger seams before putting the fabric in the wash, those can unravel and knot everything together making another kind of mess.
  • Use either a 3 or 4 thread seam for either process.
  • An exact 1/4" seam can be made on a serger by adjusting the 'cutter width'.
  • Look for videos and tutorials on line or at Nancy's Notions if you need to brush up on your serger skills. Good books are available too, check your local library.

Do you use a serger when quilting?  I have made Log Cabin, Trip Around the World and Irish Chain quilts using a serger for the piecing. Sergers sew FAST!  This can really speed up piecing long strips.  Do you think you will give your serger some quilting time?

Linking up with Plum and June's Monday Link Up and
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story.

One Thing Done!

The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly.                                                                   
Cecil B. DeMille

I finally got back to the longarm and finished the charity quilt I had started.  Where did June go anyway?
Oh yeah, three trips...  now maybe I can get another quilt loaded this week.
Here's a picture of the quilt.  I did not make it, I just quilted it for the charity group I'm going to.  Someone else will finish the binding after I get it stitched on.  I used it for some Free Motion practice.  It turned out OK I guess, not wonderful but not awful either.

Some of the designs turned out pretty good.  The thread matched the darker prints so well that I had a hard time seeing where I had stitched which can be a problem.

I think I'll do swirls again but perhaps as an all over vine instead of off a stem like these were. I'm linking to Amy's creative side: One-thing-one-week-challenge since I got One Thing Done!

On the design wall there are some more triangle blocks.  It's growing and now I have it laid out the way the pattern showed not like I had it last week's post.  The blocks will be moved around a lot before it's together.  I was surprised at how much pink/mauve turned up in them.  Still have more cut out and will probably cut out some more.  So for I've just used the strip bins, fabric samples and a few scraps.

I have the border triangles for the Carpenter's Star together too.  Now to just get the borders on.

I'm linking to Judy's Design Wall Monday check out what everyone else has up on their wall.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hail to the Red, White & Blue

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word:  freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.
Sir Winston Churchill

Here's the best Red, White & Blue quilt I have.  It was pieced by Dot Higbee, one of my shop teachers, as a class sample.  I quilted it a few years ago.  It is about 36" square.

I'm linking up to Sew Many Ways Red, White & Blue theme week.  Enjoy some colorful eye candy over there and have a great 4th of July!!!
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