Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Christmas in July

This past weekend, Quilted Memories -- the shop I'm newly affiliated with -- held a Christmas in July event. There were lots of specials and treats, and the shop was decorated with holiday quilts done by customers. Even though the temperatures were well into the 100s outside, all the Christmas eye candy put me in the mood to get going on those holiday projects. There are only five months!

Shoppers got to vote on their favorite quilts, and this lovely by Rita Hale won the Viewer's Choice award.

Rita is also a member of my machine quilters guild. I told her I would be glad to give it a good home, but she wasn't having any of it! I have seen quilts like this done in red and also chocolate brown, but the navy was really pretty. Nice job Rita!

I guess if Rita won't share, I'll just have to make my own! Pardon me while I go find the end of my future projects list...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dreams of lavender taffeta

You know how when you do something repetitively for a long time how it sometimes follows you to sleep? Well, last night my dreams were full of lavender taffeta. That in itself should nudge it over into the slightly disturbing category.

At work yesterday, I spent a good portion of my day piecing a customer quilt. It is made entirely out of cut up bridesmaid and flower girl dresses from I don't know how many weddings. Taffeta and silk and satin and crepe and every other slicker-than-snot fabric you can think of is included. And as an added bonus, some of them are stretchy! And the crowning jewel, the whole top is made of half square triangles! I have never been a big fan of half square triangles, but when you add snot and stretch, you are just asking for trouble.

The jury is still out on this one.

As an added bonus, I did not have any granny panties to include in my quilt like my co-worker Mary had to add into hers. Memory quilts are wonderful things, but that is one memory I may have left in the drawer!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A new recruit

I have this box of mismatched, uneven, and not-quite-square squares that are screaming to be rescued and put into an appropriate quilt. Unfortunately, they are already sewn together. **sad face** So my seam ripper and I have been spending some quality time working over this mess. I have been making steady progress with the help of my latest recruit. Nicholas is always eager to lend a hand and is a great helper. For a while I hesitated to let a six-year-old have the seam ripper, but he was very insistent. I finally caved, and he has proven to be a seam-rippin' fool! Yesterday, I caught him kicked back, seam ripper in hand, working away.
Thanks Nick!

Hopefully with Nick's help, I will soon get this phase of the project finished. Then I can start trimming and designing. I hope I can get what is in my head onto this quilt. I'll keep you updated as I think this will turn into a fun project.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dear Jane B-5

Hello Jane! Sorry you have been so neglected lately. I know I promised to get you out and make at least one block each week, but you have to understand that it is summer. And my boys are out of school. And they like to be fed and entertained and to wear clean clothes. (Okay, I know that was funny, the clean clothes thing was solely my idea. They could care less.) I will try to do better!

I did get Jane out last week and managed to get both of my B-5 blocks completed. The software suggested piecing the block then reverse appliqueing the diamonds. I have found that anything with sharp or squared points does not work well with this method. You always end up with little frayed threads in those corners. So instead, I strip pieced the block which made quick work of this one, especially since I'm making two of each block. It changed the piece count slightly from the original, but I'm okay with that. Then I appliqued those diamonds to the pieced block.

Now it just needs a quick press and a trim. WooHoo!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here's the acorn wreath scoop

I have had several inquiries about where I found the pattern for this little acorn wreath table runner. It is from a book called Pumpkin Patch Threads by Need'l Love. I picked it up at Quilter's Station in Lee's Summit, Missouri where they also had a fabric kit for this table runner featuring Jo Morton fabrics.

This top finishes at 22 inches square with the cute little log cabins finishing at two inches each! I paper pieced these and have a nifty paper piecing graphic I designed to print these out in bulk instead of having to trace each of the 48 blocks. Contact me if you would like more information about this. I hand-appliqued the acorns and leaves using the freezer paper and spray starch method. Along the way, I discovered a sweet method for applique piece placement that can be found here.

Now I need to get serious so I can have this little guy quilted by fall. I am so looking forward to that and the milder weather that comes with it. Bring on the cool breezes and rustling leaves!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A scientific experiment & the acorn wreath top is complete!

Last month I went to a trunk show for longarm quilter Sheryl Schleicher. When she was speaking about where she begins the quilting on a quilt, she shared a bit of scientific information: most people, when viewing anything -- art, a building, a photograph, or a quilt -- scan it in a specific pattern. So I am conducting an official scientific poll of my own to test this theory. The photo below is of the little acorn wreath quilt I have been working on lately. It is comprised of four main blocks. When you view the photo, be conscious of which block your eye moves to first and which you go to last. Leave a comment and let me know your findings.

I'm going

to leave

a little

space here

so you

are not

tempted to

look at

the photo

quite yet.

Now, view.

Sheryl gave us a little diagram showing that most people scan from the center to the upper right, to upper left, to lower left, back to center and on the upper right, to lower right, then back to center. Is this what you did?

In Sheryl's talk, she said she would start quilting in the lower right near the center because that is the last place most people look. This gives her a little time to get in the groove of the motif she is using and if there are any less than perfect elements, they are not as readily noticed.

When I set my four acorn blocks together, there was method to my madness. The first block I did ended up being slightly different than the other three. I struggled with appliqueing those deep valleys on the leaves, as you might remember here. And my placement of the applique pieces on the background fabric was a little too free-style. I sent out a cry for help and got some terrific advice, shown here. One of the tidbits that really came in handy was an easy method for accurately placing the pieces on the background fabric. You can check that our here.

I toyed with the idea of remaking that first block. Then my sister reminded me of the Amish rule of quilting: only God can create perfection, so mistakes are okay. This was just the advice this recovering perfectionist needed to hear! So I set these four blocks together with Sheryl's diagram in mind and put that "slightly different" block in the lower right corner where hopefully its uniqueness didn't scream out so loud. I know it is there, so it is the first thing I see. Let me know if you noticed it, or if you had to go back and look at it again.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Applique piece placement tip

I have been working on a little fall table runner with four identical appliqued blocks in the center. It had these very small oak leaves that had deep valleys that were quite a challenge to do. You can see my issues here and some of the suggestions I received for said issues here.

I finally managed to conquer those leaves, but in the process found that it was very difficult to get each block to look the same. I had traced the design on not-so-transparent tracing paper, laid it over the background fabric, placed the applique pieces, then hand basted them down. I thought I did pretty good on the first one, but once I compared it to the original (after all 16 pieces were sewn down), it was noticeably off.

One of the responses I got when I cried out for applique help was from Irene who shared that Piece O' Cake designs had a great method for accurately placing applique pieces. This was an "ah-ha" moment in my applique world. I tried it, and this method made all the difference in the world.

You need a piece of medium weight clear upholstery vinyl. I found this at Hancock Fabric & Crafts. It is used to make covers for furniture, table cloths or even shower curtain liners. A 60-inch piece was $3.99 a yard. I bought a whole yard and will have vinyl for life! Cut a piece the size of your block and trace the design on the vinyl with a permanent marker*.

Then place the vinyl overlay (with design drawn on it) right side up over your background fabric. I used a water-soluble marker to make an X on the fabric and the same in permanent marker on the overlay so that it would land in the same position each time I used it.

Now slide your ready-to-sew-down applique pieces under the vinyl into their position.

Now, instead of hand basting or pinning the pieces down, I used basting glue. This stuff was a lifesaver! I found it at Joann's with the quilting notions.

The key is to use a gluestick that is water-based** and acid free. I used a toothpick to pickup a tiny amount of glue then slightly lifted one edge of the applique piece and placed the glue just under the edge, far enough back to not be in the stitching line. I did this in several areas around the piece. I let it dry for about 30 minutes then hand appliqued these pieces down. Not having to baste each piece down was a huge time saver, not to mention, I think handling the pieces while basting was part of my placement problem as the pieces tended to move around on me.

The end result was blocks that all matched! I'll show you the finished top in the next post -- Yay, it's done!

Thank you, Irene, for directing me to such a handy tip and Piece O' Cake for such a brilliant idea. I will be using this from now on.

* When my project was completed, I tried using Goo Gone to remove the permanent marker from the vinyl. I did not have much success with this, so this piece of vinyl will not be able to be reused for another project. It took off the black marker, but left a purple stain permanently in the vinyl.

** To completely remove all traces of the glue, you should soak the fabric in water for 30 minutes then use a mild detergent to hand wash. Rinse thoroughly.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Scrappy Fourth of July

In honor of the Fourth of July, I would like to share with you a red, white and blue quilt. Except that would have required months of pre-planning and sewing. And I just don't operate that way. The first time it crossed my mind was on the third of July. Oops!

Instead, I'll share with you a project on my "hope to get to someday" list. I've loved this scrappy quilt since I first saw it. The pattern is called Scrap Jar Stars by Amber at A Little Bit Biased. She has a great tutorial here. It is a great stash buster, and I hope to start it sooner than later.

My boys have been itchin' to blow something up since 7 a.m., and I'm not sure if we can hold them off until dark! I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Fourth.

Happy Birthday America!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Origin of "tiny quilt pieces" gene revealed

When I was in Texas last week, my Aunt Dee pulled this quilt out to show me. She knows I have an affinity for small pieces in quilts, and this postage stamp quilt was no exception. It was pieced by my Great-Great-Grandmother Clara Ann Herrin. She passed away in 1938, so it was made sometime prior to that during her lifetime.
Aunt Delores with my Great-Great-Grandmother's quilt
It was mainly stripes and plaids and a few small-scale prints. I love how the red is still so vibrant after more than 100 years. What a treasure! We agreed this is probably where my "tiny quilt pieces" gene originated.
my Great-Great-Grandparents, Alonzo and Clara Herrin

on the bottom row from the right, my Great-Grandmother Otal and her mother Clara
Thanks Aunt Dee for sharing!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Aunt Nikki Camp comes to a close

What a fun week! Camp culminated with a neighborhood-wide juggling exhibition starring my nephew and brother-in-law. They really put on a great show.

We finally made it back home with tons of memories and an equal amount of dirty laundry. Luckily on Sunday, my darling husband said toss the dirty laundry to the wind and let me take you out for dinner! He's pretty awesome that way.

June is gone, and I'm officially finished with t-ball, boy scouts and camp. YAY! Now I'm off to see if my sewing machine remembers me. Hello, old friend!