31 July 2007

Button, button

I was actually sewing a couple of blouses. Garment sewing! Who-doggies! I got to the buttons and went to the button boxes (yes, plural) to get some. I have a popcorn tin and a cookie tin both full of buttons.

The pile of Pearlys in the front are all four-holes. I've already removed the celluloid and the bakelite ones. I do have some celluloid buttons that are crystallizing and they are in a baggie by themselves. I'm now separating out the shell and Mother-of-Pearl. What remains? The plastic ones.

The two-holed pile in the back still need to be split out. Can you tell from the picture which ones are celluloid and bakelite?

I got a bit sidetracked.

Does anyone have suggestions for a lot of buttons?

27 July 2007

Fabulous Friday

I got the latest issue of Quilters Newsletter yesterday. It used to be Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. They have updated the look, added new columns, kept old columns and in general just refreshed it. I like it. If you haven't received your copy yet, you can go to the web site at www.quiltersnewsletter.com
When I was active in the graphic design field, I wanted to work there -- my dream job, if you will. Can you imagine? Spending all day working in a job that revolves around quilts and the industry! Wow. It probably was feasible, working there I mean. After all, I'm only an hour drive away. But now, I put those skills to work on my quilts.

I have a completed quilt for you, sorta. This is Banana-fana. Remember this from a previous post? It's big. Way big. 110"x110" I'm in this yellow phase, can you tell? This is a string quilt and each of the string sashing measures 4"x 10" and the yellow blocks are 10". I don't have the quilt in front of me so I'm guessing at these measurements.

My last step in making a quilt is to wash it. And that is where disaster struck. Yep. One of the fabrics bled onto several of the yellow blocks. A lot of crying and sobbing was heard around La Maison de Quilter. But after sleeping on the problem I have come up with a solution. I have paint. A lot of paint in a lot of colors. I have fabric paint. A lot of fabric paint. Can you guess where this is going? The only thing I couldn't come up with was what to paint. Flowers are, well, too flowery. And cars (after all I'm married to a CarGuy) were a bit too much also. What to do, what to do. So I asked CarGuy. His immediate response was "Leaves."

So the next time you see this it will have some hand painted leaves blowing across the top of the quilt.

25 July 2007

O Fraggles!

Yesterday just wasn't a good day. I don't know why I even attempted to do anything.

CarGuy and I both had a touch of food poisoning from the previous night's meal. I have vowed to not buy meat from this grocer again: every time we get a bit sick from it. Suffice it to say, I stayed home from work.

I did a little bit of work on two different quilts. Remember Banana-fana? Well, I finally got it bound. I just did it all by machine. And then for the last step, I put it in the washer and then the dryer. Bah. One of the fabrics bled onto several of my beautiful plain yellow blocks. It is now sitting on the laundry room floor with Goop on the offended spots. I am going to rewash it with Synthropol and Retayne in the hopes the dye doesn't migrate further and that the spots come out. If the spots don't come out, I am going to paint something in the blocks to cover the migrated dye spots.

Ah, but that wasn't all. I got my letters and words appliquéd onto the challenge quilt. It looked good, if I do say so myself. I submerged it in water and pinned it to my blocking board to square it up. I looked at it later: O no! I had forgotten that inkjet ink is not permanent! I had run the Stable Magic through the printer to print the letters onto it, cut them out, and used them as the leave-in stabilizer. When I submerged it in water all that black ink around the edges of the letters bled into the center of the focus fabric letters: you know, that pale cream-colored fabric? It made me sick to look at it. It's still on the blocking board.

But after a (somewhat) good night's sleep, I have a plan. I am going to remove the offending pieces, cut out new letters with Misty Fuse attached and fuse and then machine stitch. I am NOT going to hand appliqué them again. Truth? I wasn't happy with the results the first time around but was going to live with it. Now I have a good excuse (like I really needed one) to take them off and try again.

My little stash of focus fabric just got a bit smaller.

23 July 2007

Quilt Content!

So now that the maniacal marathon read is over, I can get back to stitching. I read so much and for so long that when I was finished with the book, I had a reading headache. It's very similar to a hangover. A reading hangover! Bah.

I actually did other things this past weekend. I went to Denver-town. There was the Cougar Nationals (car show) that CarGuy wanted to see and it was close to Auntie's condo. And between the car show and Auntie's condo is this quilt shop: The Great American Quilt Factory. Maybe you've heard of them? Or maybe you have some Possibilities patterns or books. Anyway. I had a 20% off coupon so I HAD to stop. Really. I purchased one (yes you read that right) thing. This book: 101 Fabulous Rotary Cut Quilts. It's not my usual style of book, but there were several quilts in it that I liked.

There was this wonderful Christmas quilt in the window display along with the book for the pattern. When I got inside, I looked through the book. That was the only pattern I liked in the whole book and I wasn't going to buy something I didn't really want. Thank goodness for cell phone cameras. I took a picture through the window so I could remember the quilt and then figure out how it was constructed. Mind like a bowl of oatmeal, that's me. I'll show the EQ picture when I get it done.

Now I know you're asking "What does a picture of lily pads have to do with quilting?" Good question and there is really a good answer. You should have seen me laying on my belly to get that picture. In the blazing sun. Next to a highway. I have a different picture of the lily pads taken at a different angle that I'll use as reference to draw an appliqué for my challenge quilt. Remember that quilt that I keep yammering on about? Yep. That one.

And speaking of the Challenge Quilt. I have designed and am working on two different quilts. Can we say overachiever? It all started when I made that unfortunate choice of fabrics for the background blocks, that I took apart and remade for the back of the quilt. And as I sewed them I found myself humming a song. This song by Dean Martin: Disc #1 Song #1. It's a different song than the front of the quilt.

Channeling Dean Martin. Good name for a quilt.

22 July 2007

I'm busy

reading. I'll be back when I'm done.

I finished reading about 5:30pm. We had a four hour power outage. I had to read -- there just wasn't anything else to do.

Good read. I won't spoil it for others.

20 July 2007

He's almost here!

I mean Harry of course.

And for you knitter's out there, read this short fun article about Needles and Broomsticks.

19 July 2007

More Experiment Results

Remember yesterday's item #2? About the half bottle of Fray Check being spilled on my shorts? Well here is the result. Since the shorts are denim, and the Fray Check FAQ did say color might be lost during the removal process, I wasn't a bit surprised at this result. *sigh*

This unintentional experiment has resulted in some changes. Yes siree. I no longer take the complete top off the bottle of Fray Check to dip my toothpick into the bottle. I now squirt the Fray Check on a pad of paper and dip my toothpick into it. Using the big drop of Fray Check on appliqués, thread or knots is like using a cannonball to swat a fly: it kills the fly but it's really, really messy.

18 July 2007


Stoopid things I've done recently:

1. ran over the cord of the brand new vacuum cleaner at work and had to use the electrical tape on it.

2. spilled half a bottle of Fray Check on my brand new shorts last night. At least it wasn't the sofa I was sitting on. Here's how you remove Fray Check. I'll let you know how it works.

3. lost two very small #12 Quilting Betweens needles on the sofa (see number 2). I'm hoping that they are either buried in the pin cushion or in the vacuum cleaner (not the same one as number 1).

16 July 2007

You've Stolen My Heart

Or 24 different ways to do hearts. This small quilt is actually about the size of a dolly quilt 20x28". I wanted to work through this book As I worked, I kept thinking of variations on a theme. Some of the ways I liked and some I abhorred.

If you read the label in the second picture you will notice little happy, so-so or frowny faces. These reflect which techniques I like. The hearts are numbered left to right 1-20 and then the upper left corner is 21, upper right corner is 22, lower left is 23 and lower right is 24.

I hand quilted this with white quilting thread and it killed my hand. I don't know if it was because I didn't use a hoop or frame or if it is because my hands won't hand quilt anymore. I had used this style of 'binding' before and like it so I dug around the lace stash and found this bit of eyelet that worked perfectly.

This label is put on the back. When I printed this I made a conscious decision to use the last remaining sheet of a June Taylor non-colorfast Inkjet printer fabric, knowing that I was not going to wash this. But I forgot about when I spritzed the blue marking off the front. :( The water went all the way through at one point and now the last line is blurry. Still readable. Kind of.

So what kind of appliqué do I really, really like?
• For handwork: cut away needleturn. That is where the applique piece is cut quite a bit larger, then basted down, then as you needleturn you cut-away the excess for only about 1 inch. I found this was so very stable for hand appliqué.
• For machine work: the technique that Ricky Tims and Sharon Schamber both use. Here's a link for the Ricky's stabilizer and here's a link for Sharon's stabilizer. These are simply a polyester-type stabilizer inside the appliqué that stays there and is not removed. It provides a very flat appliqué during stitching and after washing the stabilizer softens up so much you don't even know it is there.

So there you have it, the stolen heart experiment.

11 July 2007

Whaznu Wednesday

I have nothing new to show. But I have been working on things as evidenced by the photo. I ordered some new books from AQS and you can see them on the bottom of the pile and the top. O and see that corner of paper that almost covers my iPod? Look closely and you can see a bit of the challenge quilt. I take digital photos along the way to check placement of blocks or in this case appliqué. The white thing is my very quickly made needle case of Between Quilting needles and it is right next to the thread snips that I wear on a pull-out cord. Morning coffee... yumm. All on top of a chest that my Dad brought back from Hong Kong in the 1950s. I have the top covered with .25" glass because, frankly, it is a pain in the behind to dust. All four sides and the top are heavily carved and I do get down and dust and clean once a year with some Murphy's Oil Soap.

I love, love, love my iPod. I have found that as I age, I have a hard time concentrating when I read if there is too much external input (such as the television). I do not watch a lot of teevee. CarGuy does. I am physically there, but I do a lot of handwork and if I read when the teevee is on, why I just pop in the earbuds, pick either classical or newage playlists and read away. Sometimes, even that is too much, so I wait to read in the morning over my coffee while CarGuy is still asleep.


I pulled my orphans from their bin and found that I have three distinct piles. Don't you think? I don't have time to work on them right now, so back into the bin they went.

I could swear the breeze this a.m. brought a hint of smoke from Utah. That's a long way away and over the Rocky Mountains from me. But it is also a giganormous fire. There! I used one of the new words put into the latest dictionary.

06 July 2007

Grandmother's Flower Garden

There are three different indoor flea markets on this one stretch of road between my hometown and the next town north of us. I cruise through them on occasion and one time (in Itchy's Flea Market; I always thought the next one down the road should be Scratchy's Flea Market) but I digress. Anyway. You know those plastic bags with handles that a purchased blanket comes in? I found one of those bags with these flower blocks and scraps to make more in one of the booths. It was $32.00. Of course, it went home with me.

And when I got home and was emptying out the bag to fondle my loot there were more goodies! There was a thimble, a pair of stork scissors, needle and thread and, really the best of all, was the sandpaper pattern piece. I made more flowers. And more flowers. And then I put it together and started to quilt. I had no idea what type of quilting pattern to use so I quilted 1/4 inch inside each hexagon. Yes, you read that right! I quilted this one by hand for 4 years.

It's hard to see, but on the edge I added a round of white hexagons all the way around the outside edge like a border and then I trimmed it down so I could do a scalloped edge. By the time I got to putting on the binding, I was getting mighty sick of looking at the thing. I made half blocks for the top and bottom: not a whole block cut in half, but individual half blocks. Can you see the one color that is kind of rare in a quilt like this? Yes, it's the black. I had never seen black used in a GFG. The unknown quiltmaker's fabric dates from the 1960s. My additions date from the 1970's. This was my first Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.

My second GFG quilt was an incomplete top that I inherited from my fraternal Grandmother. She was hand piecing this into a top toward the end when her eyesight was failing. The flowers were made at another time in her life and she was using an ugly, coarse utility muslin to set the flowers together. And because her sight was failing she didn't see the gaps and puckers in her seams. I carefully removed the flowers from that hideous muslin

When I tried a layout, I realized that there weren't enough flowers. But that wasn't really a problem because I had that sandpaper pattern (remember that pattern?) from the first quilt that was miraculously the same size! And I had Grandma's Scrap Bag. I made three more blocks. I knew I wanted to do something a bit different than the first GFG, so I searched and found some English Paper Piecing diamonds. And then I found some of 'that green' original fabric from the 1930's at a quilt show -- I bought the whole thing of 36"wide by 1 yard.

Once I had the diamonds made and the central portion together, I knew it needed borders. I used the same white from the flowers and cut extremely wide strips and appliquéd the central portion onto them. I used up the rest of that green for the vine. In fact, I ran out. The butterflies are covering the sections where the vines don't meet up! Leaves are again from Grandma's scrap bag. Remembering how long it took me to hand quilt the other one, I quilting the flowers in this one differently: I went around each row of the flower so that each flower is quilted with three rows of quilting. The border is diagonal quilting. This is my second GFG quilt.

I have a third one that is in my UFO box. I'm a sucker for 1930's orphans, what can I say?

03 July 2007

Art Nouveau

In June of 2006 I took a workshop with Suzanne Marshall who is a big fan of Art Nouveau. (Art Nouveau, if you care to know, is a curvy design that frequently incorporates floral and plant motifs.) She taught the technique she developed and uses of take-away-appliqué on a block from her quilt Rhapsody in Bloom. Of course, my color choices are totally different than hers, mainly because I was using leftovers from this quilt.

And so, this appliqué block is going to join the other orphan blocks in the box. But before it does, I think I'll pull all the orphans out to see if I can combine them into a quilt or two ala Finn and the Orphan Train. One of the things that is holding me back from doing this, though, is that I have the time line of the challenge quilt and I really, really need to work on it. So why did I work on this block, you ask? There is a very good reason: it's been a long time since I've appliquéd and I wanted to use this block for practice. Good enough reason? I think so.

Just a note: all the links in this post go to different places.