Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Wednesday WIPS - Making Progress!

Still plugging away at the free-form bargello - got another strip set done today.  I should be able to get this top done by the weekend, so I'm happy with my progress on this project.  I'm still a little nervous about if I'm going to have the size I want with the borders, but if I have to add some creativity to make it work, I will!

I got the UFO for June basted.  I didn't have a piece of batting large enough, but I did have one that was twice as long, but not as wide.  I cut it in half, then used some strips of lightweight fusible interfacing to bond the two pieces together and created the perfect size batting.  It shouldn't be too long of a process to quilt this, so I hope to have this done in the next few days for sure.  It's about time - I need something new in my Etsy shop!  I found a picture online of the same scene - it's called the Golden Pavilion, so beautiful!


And I finished up my block for the Block of the Month I am doing for the quilt shop.  The pattern is printed up and ready to go, too - so I'm happy I have this done on time.  Seems like I've been running way behind on this - had it designed long ago, but it's taken me longer than I should have taken to get all the samples and instructions finished up.  I swear, next time I will have the whole thing done beforehand.  I really don't need the last minute pressure of creating the pattern every single month!  It is good practice, though....

Nothing really finished this week, but lots of things "in progress", so at least I'm keeping busy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Gone in a Flash

June was one of those months, I think!  Seems like I have been on the run on all month with very little to show for all of my effort.  Actually I do have something to show....empty space!  I spent a good part of the last couple of weeks going through my embarrassingly large collection of older quilt magazines.  Time to let go of these, but of course I had to thumb through them to make absolutely sure that the most amazing quilt pattern in the world wasn't in one of them.  I did find a pattern to use for a long overdue project - hurray!  And I only kept 3 or 4 of the older ones.  I did decide I wanted to keep my Quilter's Newsletter magazines.  The articles, you know!

I haven't finished my UFO for June, but will definitely try to get that done over the holiday weekend.  My husband has Jury duty the next couple weeks, so no traveling for us - we'll be spending the weekend here at home.  That's ok, because I have lots of quilting to do!  I made a little progress on my custom order quilt over the weekend, but my back really has slowed me down.  I plan to finish the top this week so I can work on quilting it next week.  Then I have fabric on the way for another custom order.  Cupcake fabric!  Can't wait to see it - that should arrive on Thursday morning.

In the meantime - here his how my "free-form bargello" quilt is coming:


I like it - it makes me think of waves on the shore!  Can't wait to see the full effect when I am finished.  I plan on quilting the blue with swirls and the green with a watery squiggle, maybe.  We'll see!  I might have to do something creative to get a little more length, depending on how far I can stretch my border fabric. No matter what, I think this quilt will be a winner!

Also up for work is my Block of the month pattern for the quilt shop.  I have two more blocks to finish and need to write the instructions to complete the project.  Never a dull moment around here.  At least I am feeling happy with the schedule I have set myself for working.  I try to do most of my alteration work on Mondays, then have the rest of the week for quilting.  It didn't quite work out for me last week, due to tweaking my back and having to work at the quilt shop all day Thursday, but at least I wasn't stressed out from deadlines on wedding dresses because I had it done already.

Well, I suppose I need to get my tired, rambling self to bed so I can get lots of sewing done tomorrow - hoping for a productive day of stitching!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday WIPS - Strip piecing!

I've been doing a lot of cutting and sewing, working on a custom order quilt inspired by my Northern Lights quilt.

  It's fun working like this, I'm pretty much just winging it and seeing how it develops as I go.  Pretty exciting!  I've got a bit to go as this will eventually be a king size quilt, but I've got all my strip sets sewn, so technically it is halfway finished - just have to do all the vertical sections :)  Well, truthfully, it's halfway done if you don't count adding borders, quilting and binding!  It's going to be gorgeous, though.  I found the perfect border fabric and backing, too (love fabricdepot.com)

I've been nursing a bad back the last few days, thanks to missing the bottom step while carrying a tote full of quilts down stairs.  I landed hard on my knees and gave my back a big jolt, so it hasn't been happy with me. Unfortunately I've been too uncomfortable to quilt, but I think I should be back on my game by the weekend.

Before my tumble I did take a bunch of quilts outside to take new pictures.  I was happy - had some nice early morning light and no wind!  When I brought them in I realized that my Christmas stars quilt had a spot on the back from it's time as a shop sample.  I decided the quilt needed to be washed so I used some soap and water to work on the spot, then set the quilt  by the washer to wait for the load in it to be done.  When I checked back I saw that there were red spots on the back of my quilt!  I realized that the red batik on the other side was bleeding through where it got wet from my spot cleaning - yikes!  I grabbed a color catcher sheet and threw the quilt in the washing machine, crossing my fingers very anxiously.  When the rinse cycle was finished I was delighted to see a very deep pink color catcher sheet and a perfectly unmarked quilt!  Woohoo!  After drying it I was so pleased with the crinkly texture of the quilt - I just love a washed quilt.  Beautiful!

And tonight I found the perfect pattern for a special quilt that is 3 years overdue - so even though I haven't done a lot of quilting this week, I've made a lot of progress with other quilt related chores.  I can't wait to get back to my sewing machine and sew a lot of stitches!

Linking up to the Quiltsy Team blog - come by and see what some other quilters have been up to this week!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Never Again!

Do you have something that you just don't like to do, but somehow you end up doing it now and again?  And then you say, Never Again!  Vending at a craft fair is one of those things for me.  In a moment of weakness I say something like this "Oh, that sounds like fun." and I end up lugging all of my stuff to some out of the way place, standing most of the day on a hard floor, smiling and trying to make conversation with strangers and not be pushy, and being utterly miserable.  Usually for very little money.  Why did I think this would be fun again?

This time I was lured in by the low booth fee (only $10.00) and the short time commitment - just 5 hours.  Not counting about three hours for set-up and take down.  And I really should have thought about the outdoor part of this show.  

It was windy.

Really windy.

Very, very windy....

I spent a lot of time picking various items off the ground and replacing them on tables.  I joked that at least they weren't breakable, but I don't like my quilts and bags on the ground.  About an hour before the show was supposed to end I actually had to start taking quilts down because they were blowing so much.  The highway is just beyond that car you can see in between the quilts and I sure didn't want anything flying off and ending up on someone's windshield! I didn't even have a clue how in the world I was going to get through it with everything blowing the way it was.  Luckily a friend stopped by and helped me take it all down shortly after.  When we took down the canopy I found out why it hadn't blown away - my back corner leg had fallen into a storage bin for a hose....that was lucky for me or I might have been chasing the canopy, too!  (And I had cinder blogs tethered to each leg, as well!)

All of this to make about minimum wage for my 8 hours.  So....next time I am tempted to do another show, I promise to read this post again and remember.....Never Again!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Imperfect is my Happy Place

I was thinking today as I was working at some free-motion quilting that one of the biggest hurdles for beginners is the fear of not being able to do it well.  As a matter of fact, if you ask most beginners to describe their quilting they would say it sucks. You know what?  That's just fine!  Really, it's ok if you suck.  Nobody does anything perfectly the first time...and for some of us, it takes a lot of practice and work to improve.  I've been free-motion quilting for more than 10 years now, and I still stink!

Oh, there are lots of things I am pretty darn good at.  I can meander the heck out of a quilt.  Loop the loops - I got that down.  Spirals are my favorite, I can do them in my sleep and they always look terrific. But what I really love and want to do well are feathers - and I suck most of the time.  Sometimes they come out beautiful, but often they are just plain ugly.  Totally imperfect, in fact they are the epitomy of imperfect according to the World English Dictionary: exhibiting or characterized by faults, mistakes, etc; defective 

But, you know what?  That's all right.  I'm still learning.  My feathers may not be perfection, but every time I work on them I get just a little bit better.  And that's the point!  It makes me happy to see my progress and to know that I am developing another new skill.  With enough practice I know they will look much better.  Probably never perfect, but that's just fine because I value the little bumps and glitches as being part of the handmade process.  It gives my quilts character and depth, which I enjoy.  

So, if you are just learning to machine quilt, I would encourage you to just keep working at it.  Don't be afraid to stitch badly.  Make some simple tops to practice on and find something you are good at and do it a lot!  Then find something else that you can work on improving.  Show your family and your friends (I guarantee you that most non-quilters will be quite impressed!).  Keep a couple of your beginning projects so you can see how much you have improved.  Enjoy the process of gaining this new skill and don't give up - value the imperfect and learn to be happy with the mistakes and wobbles. 


Here are the feathers I did today:



I wasn't thrilled with my first attempt, but decided to do all four sides, then decide whether or not to rip out the first one and re-do it.  Well, you know after I was done I couldn't really tell which one was the one I didn't like!  The quilting really doesn't show that much, and I am not making this as a show quilt, so I am just going to leave it and move on.  I plan to do more feathers in the last border, so I'll get plenty more practice at this - and I can't wait to see how it goes! 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Time to re-cover my Ironing Board

If you sew a great deal you probably go through ironing board covers on a regular basis - I know I do!  I've given up on the boring silver ones and started using my own fabric and making them.  It's really not to hard, and this time I tried a different technique and am really happy with the results!

In order to cover your ironing board you will need two pieces of fabric large enough to cover the entire surface of your ironing board plus three inches all around.  You will also need about 3 yards of good sturdy elastic.  I have used 1/2 inch elastic in mine and have been able to reuse it several times.  Two layers of cotton batting the same size as your fabric.  Sewing machine, thread and an hour or so of your time.  Not bad!

If your old cover isn't in too bad of shape you can use it for a template, or just lay your ironing board upside down on the fabric on the floor to draw around it.  Then layer your two pieces of batting, back and front of your cover (right sides together):

Cut all layers out on your line.  Pin in several places all around and starting at the wide end, stitch a 1/2 inch seam, leaving a 4 or 5 inch gap for turning:


Trim away the extra batting in the seam to make more room for the elastic:
Then turn right side out and press around the edges.  Don't worry about the gap, we'll take care of that in a little bit!

Now sew all the way around the cover 1/2 inch from the finished edge.  This will be your casing for the elastic, so don't leave any gap in this stitching.  
Now comes the worst part part - pulling the elastic through the casing!  I used my drawstring threader to get this job done, you just have to be patient and work it all the way around that long casing.  Make sure you don't pull the end through - then you end up starting all over again.  (I stitch the elastic end that goes through the loop so it won't slip out of the loop as you pull it through...)

When you get the elastic pulled through, your cover will look like this mess - I sewed my ends together at this step because I was reusing the elastic from the previous cover and new it was the right size.  If you are making a new cover you won't be able to sew the elastic until you fit the cover on your board and pull up the elastic so it is tight.  So, here is where you would do that step if you need to.  Put your cove on your board and smooth and pull it into place, then tighten the elastic until it keeps the cover snug.  Pin it together, over lap about 1 inch and trim off the excess.  


Sew your elastic ends together, then trim off the extra batting in the opening and turn the edges in and top stitch.  It doesn't have to be pretty - it will be under your ironing board and no one will see it (wink, wink)
Now, put your new cover on your ironing board and enjoy!  Theoretically you can wash it, but I never do.  It is also reversible, so when one side is trashed you can use the other!  Double duty!
Check it out!  This one is made out of home dec fabric, so I hope it will last a bit longer.  In any case, it will make me very happy for however long it lasts.  Then I can make another one.   I've had a lovely day in my sewing room, doing some cleaning up and making it a happy place -  hope your day was lovely, too!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Whoops!

As usual, I seem to be starting more projects than finishing them these days!  I had a little free time this weekend, so instead of working on a project that was already in progress I started sewing strips for a new one.  In my defense I did get two quilts finished this weekend, so I guess that's not too awful.  Both of the projects I finished were from my UFO challenge, so now I am caught up, and if I can I'll get the May one completed by the end of the week (thankfully it is a small one!)  

The first one I finished was for the couple that have been caretakers at the lodge our church owns.  The best thing about doing this was that Anne and I worked together many years ago on a surprise quilt for our Pastor and his wife!  That was so much fun (and hard to keep secret!).  I wish I had pictures of it, but I wasn't good at keeping track of my projects back then.  Or now, obviously as I only have a few pictures of this project - but here it is with the happy recipients:  

I am so happy that this UFO went to a wonderful couple!  Walt has spent many hours using his woodworking skills to craft special requests for many women's events at our church.  And Anne is the sweetest lady ever despite continual health issues.  I love them very much and we will all miss them as they are moving away to help care for Anne's mother.  

What are you working on this week?  I hope you can take some time to make something special for someone you love!  

If you are interested in more Works In Progress by the Quiltsy team, check out our WIPs on Wednesday blog post.