Saturday, July 31, 2010

Applique Progress

Yesterday's applique block was so full and colorful.  I thought I'd tell you all about my progress.  Let me start by saying that most people start with a simple project when they're learning something new.  No.  Not me.  I jump right in.  Let's say this has its problems.  I picked a fairly busy pattern with very little instruction from the book.  I made patterns, affixed freezer paper to fabric, traced and cut out my pieces leaving about 1/4 inch around the edges.  I placed the pieces on the square in a design as close to what I found in the book.  THEN...I went to find a YouTube Tutorial on Applique.  This is the applique tutorial I found.  It was quite helpful.  Not at all the way I'd done things but I thought what the heck and proceeded to sew.  The innies and outies described in the video are hard to do.  Some of my flowers look like blobs of fabric.  After awhile I figured a way to make them look more like flowers.  By the time I tried a few hearts I was getting pretty good at curves and innies but the outies were more rounded than pointed.  And the patterns when done are so small.  (I guess there's a reason to mark the fabric not freezer paper).  The block doesn't look near as full as it did.  It reminds me of that lonely leaf hanging from a tree in winter.  But I'm not discouraged.  Really I'm not.  This is supposed to be a practice block.  And I am getting practice.  But I think when I'm done, I'll pick something smaller and do it by the tutorial.  I think it'll be easier and more satisfying.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Computers!

I'm a little exasperated this morning.  I received my new computer the other day and I really do love it.  I do!  But I got hung up twice using Internet Explorer and Yahoo Mail.  And the computer is Windows 7.  So which is the culprit.  I had to restart twice.  But I'm through it now.  I'm not used to Explorer.  I haven't used it in years.  I switched over to Mozilla Firefox and am more used to it.  I don't know if it really makes much difference.  I only recognize subtle differences.  Oh well!

I've started my next quilt from the blocks I made previously.  I call it the "Harvest Quilt".  Here it is in progress:



I don't know how much I'll work on it today because I received the book 'Quilting the Garden' by Barb Adams, Alma Allen & Ricki Creamer.  I thought it had the 'Flowers in my Garden' pattern in it.  I read about the book in someone's blog.  I can't remember whose.  Anyway, it does have some applique flower blocks.  I picked one and started it (the cutting and pinning).  I haven't done much applique, just fusible.  This is needle turn so I'm in for a new experience.  Here's what it looks like at this point:



It's kinda bright.  I used leftover fabrics from another quilt.  I don't think I'd do a whole quilt in these colors but it makes for a good practice piece.  So off I go to read all the blogs I follow and then on to the 'Pleasures of Summer' block.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cat Quilt Finished

Let's try this again...

As promised here's the cat quilt:


Top Left:   Mosaic #21     Top Right:  Our Village Green    Middle Left:  Art Square    Middle Right:  Right and Left    Bottom Left:  Jack's Delight    Bottom Right:  Broken Sash

I spoke yesterday about bearding from the low-loft polyester batting.  After washing, it was less noticeable.  I still think I'll use the 80/20 in the future.  I love the look after washing.

I was so proud of the upper right block when I finished piecing it.  It took quite awhile to piece.  However it was a disappointment as I stitched in the ditch that the points and seams didn't line up as well as I thought they did.  I'm sure I'll have lots of practice before I finish this 501 Blocks Project.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Batting

I just finished machine quilting the cat quilt.  All it needs now is the binding.  Photos tomorrow.

I need to talk about batting.  Until a few weeks ago all my quilts were either tied or hand-quilted.  For those quilts, I used either low-loft polyester, cotton, or a blanket.  The blanket ended up to be heavier than I like but the quilt is still around after 30 years.  The cotton which was hand-quilted wasn't quilted as close as it should have been.  It's still used after 20 years but during washing the cotton has bunched and isn't that great looking.  Low-loft polyester batting was used for all the tied quilts.  I was quite happy with it.  Since I started machine quilting, I have used these:




Here's what I've learned about them:

Fusible:  Uniform thickness, fuses well, too stiff, removed before quilting, works well with projects not requiring softness, drapiness (is that a word?) , don't know how it will wash - will it soften?

Soft Light-Loft:  So-so uniformity of thickness - I guess it's acceptable but I prefer a thicker loft.  No bearding.  Haven't washed yet - don't know how it will hold up.

Poly-Fil Quilters 80/20:  Uniform thickness, quilts well, haven't washed-don't know how it will hold up, quilted in the ditch

Poly-Fil Traditional Polyester:  Uniform thickness, acceptable loft, very noticeable bearding (not acceptable), quilted in the ditch and stipple, not sure how it will wash

The cost for each was comparable.  Overall, I'm happiest with the Quilters 80/20.

Have a great day!  Happy quilting!



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Onward

I finished the quilt sandwich and basting the cat quilt.  I'm starting the quilting today.  Below are the blocks I finished yesterday.  This completes the blocks (enough for a quilt) in this color scheme.

Top left:  Picket Fence   Top right:  New Album    Bottom left:  Light and Shadows   Bottom right: Old Maid's Puzzle


 Have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hanging by a thread

I finished sewing the top of the cat quilt.  But here's something I have a question about:
 

How concerned should I be about clipping stray threads?  When I was at the shop the other day purchasing and getting instruction on my new machine a women showed off her king-size top which was ready for the longarm quilter.  She made a point of telling the gal that all the threads were cut.  I haven't read anything about threads but I've only been concerned with knots of thread and threads that will show through to the front.  I always figured the rest were okay to keep since they'll be encased and not likely to ravel in the washer.  If you've read something or have an opinion about this, please leave a message.  I'd be interested in knowing.

Have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Quilt Envy

I follow Quilterblogs.com every day to see what other quilters are up to.  It's a great place to admire and get ideas for quilts.  I am so envious of the talent and quilts I've seen.  It has me thinking that I'd like to choose a long term project just for me.  This quilt is one of the top contenders.  I think it's just gorgeous.  I like the idea of applique and flowers.  I definitely want to do applique.  It's not something I've done much of.  But there are so many to choose from. (the decision itself may be a long term project).

Do any of you have an unusual attachment to an inanimate object?  For me it's my coffee mug.  I love coffee (Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla or Hazelnut) and I drink a lot of it.  I drink it from my Salmon Falls Coffee Mug.




Yesterday, I discovered two cracks.  Wah!  I shouldn't be surprised.  It's over 20 years old (a gift from one of my kids) and has survived 7 moves.  But it's not just the sentimental value.  My coffee really does taste better in this mug.  I'm serious!  I've tried drinking out of their cider mug or other mugs and it's just not the same.  How about you?  What do you drink your coffee from?

I counted yesterday and I've completed 87 of the 501 blocks in the past month or so.  Not a bad start.  Here are the ones from last night:   Top left:  Shoofly    Top right:  Homeward Bound    Bottom left:  Ohio Star  Bottom right:  Perkiomen Valley




This gives me 6 blocks (enough for another quilt) in this motif.  I've never done a winter quilt.  I love snowmen so this should be a fun one. 

Happy quilting!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

True Confessions

I have a confession to make.  You may want to prepare yourself.  I've only admitted this once before.  Here goes...I sew over my pins.  GASP!  I know you're not supposed to but I always have (36 years).  I'm not sure why you shouldn't.  Perhaps to avoid broken needles, bent pins or injuring your machine.  But in all this time, I've only broken two needles and bent about 20 pins. What can I say?

Are you ready for another confession?  There are two things I dislike about quilting...washing and cutting fabric.  I do both because it's the only way to get to the good part...sewing and quilting.

Sometimes I have a hard time making decisions (ask my daughter-she'll tell you!).  For me, the big ones are easier than the smaller ones.  The latest small decision...how small do fabric scraps have to be before throwing them out?  My decision...if it's smaller than 2 1/2 inches - out it goes.  Today, I've been cutting scraps into 2 1/2 inch squares.  I'll use them for something.

Below are the photos of today's block and free motion quilting practice.

                                                      Eccentric Star

                                                                   


Have a great day!  Happy quilting!

Friday, July 23, 2010

No quilting today

I went to JoAnns to purchase enough fabric for 6 quilts..That is a LOT of fabric but... I saved $56.  Thank goodness for those 40% off coupons!



All I need to do is pick up some batting at Walmart then I should be good to go.  This afternoon I played a little with monogramming.  I need a some practice but I'm pleased with what I've done so far.  Oh! And I received my new camera.  The photo below is the first I've taken.

The Decision

I just couldn't wait any longer.  My old machine has overheated 3 times now.  So, Tuesday night I pretty much decided which machine to buy.  The most important thing to me besides features, was where I could get service and/or instruction if I needed it.  In the next town, where I lived for 28 years, there's a fabric shop that sells Janome.  They're known to be quality people who sell quality products and it doesn't hurt that they're the largest Janome dealer in Northern New England.  I spent the evening on the internet researching all the Janome machines, features etc. and pretty much  made a decision on two.  I decided how much I would pay and took myself off to the shop yesterday.  After a two and a half hour introduction, I purchased the Janome Memory Craft 6600.  It had all the features that were the most important to me and the price ended up to be only $100 over what I planned to spend.  I spent the rest of the day playing with it and testing out the features.  The most fun was the monogramming, speed control and thread cutter.  :




Today I'm off to Joanns to pick up fabric for 6 quilts (at 40% off regular price).

Below are the blocks I finished yesterday.

                        Top Left:     Forest Paths
                        Top Right:   Four Patch
                         Bottom:      Broken Sash




Have a great day!  Happy quilting!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How it started

I got started on this project because I thought there had to be an easier way to create quilt blocks.  First off, I love sample blocks.  For years in order to make them, I made templates, traced them on fabric, then used scissors to cut them out.  You'd be surprised how many quilts I made this way.  Old school.  Then I discovered the rotary cutter.  (yay!)  But where was I to find the patterns for the blocks.  Most people said to check the internet, you can find anything there (for free), but I could only find a block or two at a time.  So, I went onto Amazon and started searching for books and I found this one:
I didn't really know how the book would be, but I was impressed that I could learn 501 blocks all in one place.  When I received the book and read the table of contents, I knew it had everything I'd need.

And what a great display of the blocks in the gallery.  It shows the blocks, the name and the page to find the instructions.




There are a few things I've learned the hard way.  Below are some things to watch out for:




First off, check for how many blocks are created using this cutting pattern.  Because I only want one of each block, I cut the pattern piece requirements accordingly.  Next I check the finished block size.  I like to do 12 inch blocks but some patterns only have 1/2 sizes like this one which shows the closest to that size is 12 1/2.  Some blocks are up to 13 1/2 or 14 inch.  It's not a problem really since I plan to make them all but if I want to create blocks in a color scheme with the hope to make them into a quilt, I need to make sure that the chosen blocks are all the same size.  I messed up a few times and now have some orphan blocks.  (I'm sure I'll be able to do something with them).

The directions show the size pieces to cut, labels and color requirements.  After cutting, there is an illustration for piecing order.  This is especially important because sometimes when you go off on your own, you end up with some impossible angles to sew.

So now you have it.  This is how I create my blocks.

As a disclaimer, I have not asked permission to display and discuss this book.  Judy Hopkins doesn't even know I exist.

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sad day...

I had to box up my new sewing machine and send it back.  Wah!  It's a Singer Confidence Quilter.  I've had it about two weeks.  I bought it on HSN (probably not a good idea...but...).  Anyway, when the machine is first turned on it sews and sounds fine but after it warms up, there's a definite rattle in the housing when it sews.  Hard to explain.  I asked for a refund.  Even though I liked the way it sewed, I've decided I'd like to get one with some embroidery function.  Depends on the cost, but I'd like to be able to stitch a label.  Nothing fancy. There's really no hurry, I can just use my old machine for now.

On a fun note...I went online this morning and ordered a new camera.  I have a Sony Cybershot but it's 10 years old and I haven't been happy with the quality pictures I've gotten lately.  I'm hoping the new camera will give sharper and colors more true.  It should be here next week.

I had planned to stop in at Joann's after the UPS Store but I forgot my coupons and they're worth 40% off on regular priced items.  I have 8 coupons.  It should go quite a ways toward getting what I need for the quilts.  Tomorrow.
 
Below are more 'kitten' blocks:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ain't It Beautiful?



In ONLY 3.5 hrs I sewed this first block.  If my count is right, it's 49 pieces.  After much trial and error, sewing and re-sewing, it's done.  And I love it!  The picture doesn't do it justice.  The colors aren't true.  It's a very nice shade of brown and tan.  I think when I complete all the blocks in this color scheme, I'll have to make a quilt of it just for me. (how selfish!?)  The block below was the first one I sewed today. Very easy to put together.  I fell in love with the kitten fabric last week and bought it not really knowing how I was going to use it but all the blocks I've chosen have a large square perfect for a fussy cut.  It's probably not the best use of it because you waste so much fabric but I'm really happy with the results.  Can't wait to finish the rest!


I spent a little time this morning going through the blocks I've already made and I have enough blocks in three different color schemes to make 3 quilts.  It'll be 4 when I finish the kittens.  I plan to buy fabric this week for the sashes, borders, binding and backings.  I think I need batting too.  With six blocks, sashes and borders, my quilts run 42 x 60.  Not big enough for a bed but a nice size to snuggle under.


Monday, July 19, 2010

What a day!

The day started with creating this blog and catching up to this point on the 'block project'.  Then of course, I HAD to check out a multitude of quilting blogs.  I love to read them and see all the beautiful projects people are working on.  It's amazing how time flies when you're involved.  After lunch I spent some time searching in the 'block book' for three 12 inch blocks that would take a minimum of fabric and only those with smallish pieces.  I was almost out of the mottled green, tan and green leaves fabric..  I ended up having to introduce a darker green that I found in my stash and making two of the blocks I've made before.  I'm not crazy about the new color but it does give me six blocks in this color scheme and I should be able to make a quilt with that.  I should be able to pull it all together with sashes and borders.  I'll have to take the blocks with me when I go to Joann's later this week.  I cut and sewed the three blocks shown below and cut out my next four of a new color scheme.

Top Left:  Boxed In      Top Right:  Thrifty      Bottom:  Attic Windows.

Stay tuned!

501 Project

I started this project - to make all 501 quilt blocks from the book, 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks by Judy Hopkins, about a month ago (June 2010).



 I wasn't sure what I was going to do with any of it except to use up scraps of fabric I've accumulated over the years and to hone my skills as a quilter.  I started quilting many years ago when my children were young.  I made quilts off and on over the years.  I've never taken a class.  Almost everything I know about quilting is from a book, trial and error, or from others.  I've just recently discovered you-tube and have learned a lot of new techniques.  Until recently, I'd never done the actual quilting by machine, only by hand.  So I'm learning 'stitch in the ditch', 'stipple', 'echo', and 'free motion'.  It certainly makes the quilting go much more quickly.  In this first post, I'm adding the photos of the blocks I've completed thus far. So here goes...


I've also created a couple of quilts and pillows from those blocks.  Here's the photos for those:

I've done two other quilts and one pillow also in this timeframe, though they're not part of this 'block project'.  These are their photos:

I joined in a 'block exchange' with an online group I belong to.  It is for a 'heart block'.  I experimented with many applique blocks before deciding on one.  Here are their photos and a sewing machine cover created with the test blocks:


And this is the latest quilt (from the blocks project).


These are the blocks I made in the past two days:



So....now I'm caught up. So let's go from here....