March 2013 - Posts

I have, I guess, an obsessive personality. When I decide to learn something new I go all out. I live, sleep, eat & breathe my chosen "thing" until I wear it out. To steal a line from one of my favorite movies, I "chew on it 'till all the flavor's gone then stick it my hair". When I decided to learn how to make my own soap and body care products, I totally devoted five years of my life to it. Not complaining, mind you. I learned a lot. And I make a pretty darn good bar of soap and face cream, etc. This led to an interest in herbal medicine, and there went another five years. Again, learned a lot, things I can really use, since I have a deep seated distrust of doctors in general. Not saying I wouldn't go to one for something really serious, but generally speaking I take care of things myself. From teas & tinctures for every possible type of discomfort to cough medicine and immune boosters, antibiotic salves to sore muscle rubs. You name it & I can probably whip it up for you. These things and all my previous excursions into the world of creative outlets have contributed to what I fondly refer to as my "hoard". At the new year I made a resolution to get rid of at least some of my stuff. You wouldn't believe some of the things I found in there! 

Among other things, there was a pretty good stash of fabric. So, thought I, What to do with all this? Oh! I've been wanting to learn to quilt forever! This is perfect! I can use this fabric, learn something new & it won't cost hardly a thing! Hah! Ever true to my nature, once I decided to learn this amazing, wonderful craft, the obsession began to set in. Already there are probably 50 quilts waiting in the wings to be made. I've signed up for Craftsy classes, read everything I could find. Every spare moment at work, real or imagined, is spent figuring out how to make a particular block or pattern or resizing one to fit a bed (have you noticed that patterns in magazines almost never are sized to fit an actual bed? Most seem to be throw, or nap sized. Nothing wrong with that, but gee, this would look great on the spare bed...). Using up my stash? Well, i DID use some of it. Made two whole quilts completely from stash fabric. Hardly made a dent. Unfortunately, I seem to have added about 80 yards of fabric plus an unknown number of fat quarters. I think I may need some help.

When MQ8 came along, I thought what fun! And it'll be a challenge - push me out of my comfort zone! I'll learn a lot. So, fabric gathered, waiting with baited breath for the first step to be announced. Cutting instructions! And, oh, what instructions. Such tiny pieces... but Glory Be! I did it. Kissed & made up with my rotary cutter and rulers (we've had a dysfunctional relationship for years. Turns out, it was all my fault.) Got all my pieces cut just in time for Step 2. Strips. Precise strips. 'K. I learned how to make an accurate scant 1/4" seam. I was really having fun with this. If I wasn't doing it, I was thinking about it. Movin' along with all those strips and havin' a ball. 2/3 of the way through, my sewing machine craps out. I took her apart & cleaned her. Twice. No good. She still won't work. So I'll be checking her into the hospital on Monday. Hopefully she'll be back soon, I don't want to get too far behind.

Having Annie quit on me like that was rough. What was I to do with the rest of my weekend? I seriously considered, just for a moment, purchasing another machine so I could keep going. Just for a moment? Hah! If it hadn't been late enough on a Saturday that any possible place to purchase a decent machine was closed I probably would have done it. But wait - Walmart is open 24 hours and they have little basic machines for under $100. Surely, that'd be ok for piecing! What a struggle ensued! In the end, common sense won out. Only because by now it was dark & I absolutely cannot see to drive in the dark. Besides, where would I put another machine? I considered starting the cutting for another quilt, but I promised myself only one project at a time (the last thing I need is another pile, of UFO's or anything else). As it is, maybe I should just use the extra time to do a chore or two around the house. DH is remarkably patient with my lapses in housekeeping. Take a deep breath. Ground. Center. You know, that concept could be worked into a quilt design...

I love my two fur children. I do. I have two dogs, sweet mixed breed rescues that have rescued me right back. There have been issues, a few. They're still puppies and a bit mischievous. Back in January I had left a half done quilt rolled up on the dining room table thinking to save some time- I'd get right back to work on it when I got home from work - well, when I got home I found it had been pulled off onto the floor & the batting along one side chewed out... I love them. I do! So, I learned to make sure everything was put away when I've finished for the night. Everything. Nothing lives on our coffee & end tables anymore - they can reach those. Bedroom and bathroom doors (especially the bathroom!) are kept closed at all times.

Now, even though I'm pretty new to this quilting thing, I amassed a pretty good collection of quilting magazines over the last couple of years. Yes, I read about it for a couple of years before taking the plunge and actually making a quilt. There were quite a few patterns that I had bookmarked, with notes about resizing and pattern changes written in the margins... you know what's coming, don't you? These magazines were stacked on a low shelf in my work room. Apparently, either the door wasn't securely latched or sweet little Fred has learned how to open the doors (the door knobs in our house are all the lever type) and has managed to keep that little piece of information to himself. I blame Fred only because his brother Copo Loki (aptly named for the trickster god of chaos) is way too small to reach, no matter how much he stretches. Arriving home from work I thought at first there had been a freak snow storm in my house! Oh! On the enclosed patio and in the back yard, too! Then, I realized the horrible truth... all those magazines, except the two I had with me at the time, were shredded into tiny little pieces and scattered everywhere! I love my boys. I really, really do!

Oh. My. Stars.In future, patterns that I'm interested in will be scanned into my computer. Or copied & attached to a project box if it's gotten that far. And stored on a shelf I have to use a step stool to reach! Considering all the tempting stuff that's in that room, I'm grateful the magazines were all they got and especially that they didn't find something that would have hurt them. But I think I'll be installing a lock on that door, just in case.


Have you ever gotten into a project & realized you've bitten off more than you can chew? That was this project for me. Henceforth, I will leave the large scale quilting designs to those much more experienced than I. I have to admit that by the time I finished this quilt, I was beginning to seriously dislike it and I just wanted it done. At some point I will go back & redo a couple of spots on the binding that aren't what they should be, but for now all I'm gonna do is wash it & put it away!

I learned a lot from this quilt, but now I'm SO ready to move on! I've decided to participate in MQ8, plus there's another project I want to start...

Since the freezer paper was such a bust for the center labyrinth design, I decided to try something else for the corners. I wanted a sun and rays in two opposing corners. This time I used Press n' Seal over the part of the quilt I wanted to work. Drew the design on it & stitched over it. It actually worked pretty well. Didn't create a lot of extra bulk, didn't come loose until I asked it to. Wasn't quite as easy as I imagined it would be to remove - it pulled some of the stitching. I had to use tweezers to get some of the pieces out from under the stitches.

I don't think you can see the stitching too well in the second pic (top right & bottom left as you're looking at it)... but you can get the idea. The first pic is with the Press n' Seal on the quilt, lines drawn but not stitched. I like that you can see the quilt top clearly through the plastic so when you're drawing your design you can see exactly where it will wind up.

I'm really having second thoughts about the other two corners. I was going to do a beehive design and some meander stitching with a couple of bees. I've been practicing on paper but this will require free motion work - and I am so not there yet. However, if I don't use that idea I haven't a clue what to do there.

I have come to the conclusion that until I cultivate some talent for this I should maybe stick with quilting in the ditch. I did the tiny stitch thing at the beginning & end of each piece of stitching, but I don't think it anchored any better than than a backstitch would have, and I'm betting some of it comes loose. So far I have just used my walking foot when quilting. I haven't had the courage to try FMQ on an actual quilt yet but I can see why continuous designs are preferred. Clearly my imagination is far more talented than my hands! Still, I'm having a great time trying.

Next up, the remaining two corners.  It looks so easy in my head...

OMS! What an adventure this quilt is turning out to be! And, quite the learning experience, too. Last time I posted, I had managed to get the quilting design drawn onto freezer paper. I used an exacto knife to cut on the drawn lines then ironed the freezer paper onto my sandwiched quilt. I didn't think to get pics of this process and should have - it was quite entertaining.  Lesson learned: freezer paper templates work great for small areas. For an entire quilt? not so much. By the time I got it to my machine, it was starting to come loose & the bulk was difficult to handle on my little short arm machine. IBefore long I was ready to switch my tea for something way stronger. So back to the cutting table I went. I had initially planned to use a Frixion pen to mark the quilt lines, then decided not to because another QCA member had warned about the fact that although the marked lines go away when heat is applied, they come back when cold. She was right, but  after unsuccessfully trying to use just the freezer paper, I reconsidered. And, I admit, capitulated. My reasoning was that even though marked lines come back if exposed to cold, 1) hopefully most of my lines would be stitched over and so would not show if this were to happen and 2) I couldn't imagine a circumstance when this quilt would be exposed to temps that cold (my own experiments had the marks coming back only after being in the freezer or showing up very lightly after being in the fridge for about half an hour. They went away again after being re-exposed to heat.). The only other things I had to mark with were white - and a lot of this quilt is white. So, I wound up using the red Frixion pen and made little dots instead of lines, and mostly covered them with my stitching, which was also red. I'll admit to a couple of other issues. After cutting the sew lines on the freezer paper it was really floppy. I thought I had all the half-circle "arms" lined up just right & I didn't. I didn't even notice it until today (and I did this 2 days ago), so it will have to do. While I was pressing the freezer paper on, my iron went crazy and started vomiting water all over everything - quilt, floor, me. I had the steam turned off and apparently it was feeling ignored & threw a tantrum. (Does anyone else have days like this?) In spite of me, the center quilting design is done.  Oh! Almost forgot to mention: the celtic knots on the quilt? I painted them on with a stencil & a Shiva paint stick. I was really pleased with how well they turned out.  Tomorrow I'll start working on the rest of the quilting. Wish me luck!

I'm in the process of designing the quilting for a top I just completed. I want the center of the quilt to be a labyrinth design. I finally got the design onto freezer paper. I needed to have 5 concentric circles, smallest 8" diameter, largest 33" diameter. I tried the old string & pencil method. I must be more uncoordinated than I thought because my lines were all over the place. I wanted a 2.5" "pathway" between each circle, so I got to rummaging around the hoard and found a 2.5" square template. I wound up drawing the whole thing with that square template. Who'da thunk you could draw perfect circles with a straight edge template? It took awhile but worked like a charm. Once I had the circles drawn, I erased the parts I didn't want to make the labyrinth pathways. Next, I'll cut the sewing lines with an exacto and iron the freezer paper onto my quilt top. Looking forward to having the whole day tomorrow to work on it!

As I said before, I had made mom a quilt a dozen or so years ago with all our pictures on it. Nothing but false starts & failures since then... until now. I actually finished one! Well, I couldn't have picked an easier design: 5" (finished) squares set on point, but I wanted to do something that wouldn't push my skill set too far! There are plenty of humility stitches in this quilt, but I'm quite proud of myself. It almost wasn't, though. One day in mid-quilt I came home to find that my dogs had managed to get ahold of it & chewed up quite a bit of the batting around the edges. Fortunately I was able to cut out the damaged parts & piece in new batting from the leftovers.There were a couple of tooth holes in the top, but were close enough to the edge to cover with binding. And bonus! ALL of the fabric and batting came from my stash! A tiny little dent in the pile (unless you count the 10 yards I bought last weekend...) It's intended to be a nap quilt - but here it's spread out on the guest bed. Already working on the next one!

woo-hoo! It worked!. Lousy shot, this one, but this is the quilt I made Mom way back when.

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I guess I don't get out much. Truth be told, if I didn't have to go out to go to work I'd probably never leave home. In this day & age internet shopping is so easy... but I like to see and fondle fabrics before I purchase them. The streets around my house are all torn up & difficult to navigate right now (improvements?!). It's a lovely warm morning so I decided to take a walk. I'd driven by Cabbage Rose Quilt Shop before, but always in a hurry and never stopped. So this morning I walked to the shop to have a look around. It's a small shop in a lovely log cabin building. She has a beautiful selection of fabrics, and some quilting notions, if you're into applique or other handwork there is plenty to interest you. I know I'm supposed to be working on reducing my stash, but I purchased 10 yards of fabric while I was there. Imagine, all that lovely fabric less than half a mile from my house! There is a Joanns about 3/4 of a mile further down the road - and she doesn't carry products that Joanns does - can't compete pricewise. But what she does have is gorgeous! And I'm all for supporting local small business when I can. So if you happen to be in Mesa, AZ stop by and take a look! 260 N Dobson Rd. Now, what to do with that fabric?

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