Monday, November 21, 2011

triangles galore

The fibers were flying in the sewing room when I got started on cutting a few triangles for a new project--

Those triangles evolved into blocks like this:

Which turned into something like this:

This picture was taken while I was working on rearranging the colors on the design wall. The finished product will be a couple days off, I'm working on sewing the rows together. Some of the seams require careful matching and pinning to get the corners and points to line up correctly. That's something I require of myself and try to teach in my classes without becoming abrasive because I have come to realize that others often have a better tolerance for mismatches than I do! I mainly want people to enjoy the process of sewing, and if that means doing it the way I do it, or varying from that somewhat, then so be it. There is room at the sewing machine for all!
Back to this quilt--it is a pattern from a book titled Strip Smart Quilts by Kathy Brown. It is cut using a special Creative Grids ruler called the Double Strip 90 Degree Triangle ruler. The fabrics are designed by Denyse Schmidt and are called Hope Valley. This is all in preparation for a class/demo that I will be teaching at Bear Patch Quilting sometime this winter--schedule not yet determined!

And here's an image of another quilt that I worked on for a customer. The fabrics she used were all similar shades of off-white. The backing was a "corduroy" plush fabric.

This type of backing can be a little tricky to work with, mostly because they are stretchy. Mounting the selvage edges to the rollers and keeping the backing slack prevented any puckers/distortion. And a loose, curvy stitching design was needed. Close quilting and points would not have worked well. The customer was happy, and she is taking it to Baltimore for Thanksgiving to give to her lucky family there. And that's what it's all about!

Here's a chuckle from the Mark-B-Gone fabric pen that I have:
"Please try with a waste cloth cutting before use. Please take off a cap with hands, not with a mouth."
Important words to remember!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a bit of kindle

I have been making good use of the Kindle I was gifted for my birthday, and I have to admit I had some trepidation about it to start out with. I had been longing for an e-reader but I was afraid I would incur too much extra expense with using it. I try to keep myself on a pretty tight budget, but that's a whole other story. I had the mistaken assumption that possessing an e-reader would be like falling down the rabbit's hole of online book expenses. Not so! I have, indeed, purchased one or two "normal" priced books, but for the most part I have been making good use of the free and/or bargain books available on Amazon. I have found more than enough good reading that way, and have started accumulating enough of a digital library that I am going to have to do some organizing and prioritization of the list. And maybe try to stay awake at night longer than the time it takes to read 1 page! I signed up for a daily deal email from Amazon with bargain books to consider. It's amazing how far I have stretched the Amazon gift certificate that accompanied my kindle. In fact, I am still using it 4 months later! Today's book caught my attention and for $.99 I think it will go into my library list.

I have no training in fashion design and scant experience in drafting anything resembling clothing. But I do have a long time, far removed interest in famous designers. The question I have is which comes first--
A., the designer's ability to predict and create hot new fashions and develop a worldwide reputation,
or B., a worldwide reputation gained by hook or by crook with a following that makes everything they design an instant hot new fashion?
This feeds right into my mini-obsession with Project Runway (and now Project Accessory!) and the experiences the struggling designers must go through to come out on top. I always wish I could know more about the critique by the judges, because they are supposed to be the people in the know, and sometimes they flat out don't fit with what my own critique says! Even if you don't get the program on your TV selection, if you are reading this page then you have access to the shows on their website. So I invite you to watch an episode and see who you would kick off the island (or toss off the runway).

On another related note, I want to give a little testimonial for the Kindle cover that I am using. I showed you this before when I shared pictures from a September retreat, but it is worth revisiting now after some time to use and test the design. I make and try out a lot of patterns and projects for classes and displays at Bear Patch, some with better success than others. This was the second pattern I made for an e-reader cover, and this one is a keeper!
It is the Reader Wrap from Atkinson Designs. It is a well-designed and very functional cover. Honestly, what else would I expect from Terry Atkinson? So if you are looking for help for your naked e-reader, this is the one to try!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

so solid

Another finish to share with you! This was such a pretty quilt to begin with, such a good use of solids. There has been a definite trend in quilts towards solids, I'm not sure if this is a comeback or a new thing. It seems like a lot of the quilts from the 30's, 40's and 50's used a lot of solids along with whatever calicos were available. Plus, there's the Amish quilt style that relies almost wholly on solids to create designs and pattern. So, whether it's new or a revival, in the combination above it's a good thing!

Also featuring solids is this quilt designed and made by my sister, Jan--

She asked me to quilt it, so I guess it could be called a collaboration. I wrote about it before, but what I didn't tell you was that she entered it in show, Art in the Redwoods, in Gualala, CA, (her home) and won a 2nd place award! Click on the link to see some other winners. Good job sis! Grandma I. would be so proud! She was our mother's mother, and the person that I trace back our sewing/knitting/quilting/embroidery tendencies to. She was a wonderful Grandma, and we loved it when we could stay overnight with her and Grandpa. The bed we slept in had a soft chenille spread on it, and the wooden headboard had a row of carved bumps like beads all the way across. I liked to run my fingers along the bumps. Ahh, the good old days!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

major typo

Just had to share this sign posted outside a barber shop that I walk by frequently. I think it is supposed to say "2 Chair Rentals Negotiable". Really does not make me want to have my hair cut there!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

working at home

I have happily spent my day working at home on 3 different things. First, I finished up this customer quilt. It's a big one, about 110" square, and made from lots of different shirts, which I explained in my previous blog entry.

Then I loaded this quilt, which is equally as large, and have started the echoed swirly design requested by the customer. Lots and lots of little pieces went into this one. As a reference, the white strips are 1" wide. This picture makes it look like it is the neverending quilt--to infinity, and beyond!
Sometimes when I start a big quilt that is exactly what it feels like! Kind of like I will never get to the other end! This quilt is from a book titled Quilts Made Modern by Ringle & Kerr

For some relief from these big guys, I have used my break time to work on this little wool applique project:

This is part of Christmas Wraps & Mats by Bareroots and will likely be on display at the store in our upcoming Christmas window display. And we have had a lot of requests for a class on this topic, so I am trying to organize that as I stitch.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

fresh paint

I have been wanting to give our bedroom a facelift for quite awhile, and it was never a big priority so was postponed far longer than it should have been. When we last painted, I was still working some night shifts and in order to get any kind of decent sleep, I needed lots of dark. So the walls were painted dark blue:

I made my own roman shades for the windows and backed them with light blocker fabric, so they really darkened the room. Over time, the system for raising and lowering the shades deteriorated with the exposure to sunlight. They only sort of half worked, lending a nice ramshackle touch to the decor. Definitely in need of help! I ordered some nice wooden blinds and although they don't block the light quite as well, they are adequate for my life now that night shifts are a thing of the past! I did get the style without holes for the cords, which helps.

Finally, this weekend both of us had 2 days off, and since Bob had to hang out near his computer for work-related reasons, he was pretty much committed to helping with this home improvement project. Here's the after:

I like it! It is called Woodlawn Colonial Gray. It hopefully coordinates well with the quilt (far from finished) I have planned for this room. Still some touchups to do, removing tape, moving furniture, etc., but the worst is done. Should be able to relax and watch the Amazing Race tonight, I'm cheering for the snowboard dudes! And I know some of you are Project Runway fans, can you believe how that ended?! Not at all what I would have chosen! Now I have started following the new show, Project Accessory, and I am learning so much! Like how a shoe is made! Never know when that will come in handy!

I haven't made it to my sewing machine for well over a week, since returning from Houston I have only carried things in there and dropped them so I can get them in my queue. I have done some quilting, finishing up a small Christmas quilt that will be on display soon at Bear Patch, and now working on a very large quilt made from a man's shirts, a memory quilt for his widow. As I work my way through it, I wonder about where those shirts were used and worn, and think about how nice it will be for her when it is all done. I am glad to have a little part in it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

a little hat

I showed you a picture of this hat a few days ago on the Bear Patch Blog when it was in the works. I don't have a little head to model it for you, so this jug will have to do! The literal jughead! I got as far as the fluff ball while I was traveling, but had to pause briefly. This little knobby ball is actually knitted instead of made as a pom-pom of yarn pieces. I suppose maybe this might be seen as less of a choking hazard for a baby since it can't come apart or loose like the usual pom-pom. It is created right at the end of the point of the hat, making a few rows of increases and then decreases before binding off. Before making the decreases, the inner space needs to be filled with some fiberfill. Of course, I had not packed any fiberfill for the trip! So on the first day of the Market, I went directly to the Quilter's Dream booth. I order batting on a roll from them for my longarm quilting, and it is my favorite brand. I use the Cotton Select, a thin (but not the thinnest) 100% cotton. They have a good offer for charity quilters, too, with a low price on seconds. I ordered a box of seconds for my quilt guild's projects for Quilts For Kids, and the flaws were negligible. Anyway, they also make a very nice cotton stuffing, and I picked up a little sample bag which worked out very nicely to fill the space in the knitted ball for the cap. Voila! Done!

This cap was a pattern from this book:

Thank you, Debbie, for finding this! It has several little novelty hats that will be fun to experiment with. The one I made was actually done in red and white to make a Christmas elf hat, but since my little guy won't be here in time for this Christmas, I substituted other colors. The yarns I used were Lion Brand Cotton Ease color 149 Stone and Artfibers Fauve color 11. I don't think that specific Artfibers yarn is available anymore. I purchased it a few years ago (maybe 3 or 4?) when I was visiting Jan or Brita in San Francisco. They had a nice yarn and knitting boutique near Union Square, I'm not sure if it is still there or if they have moved. They spin and manufacture their own yarns, so yarns change with fiber availability. It's kind of a dark tweedy green color, and I was surprised to see a lot of yellow-gold in the water when I washed it. The 2 yarns worked nicely together, and I am using more of the Cotton Ease for a blankie. I have started the blankie but after making about 6" I decided I wanted to change one of the colors. So I have ripped it back to start over, and in the meantime, learned from my knitting mentor/goddess (ThoraLee) about a better way to cast on so the edge will lay nice and flat. So it's a good thing to rip now and then! Thora Lee even directed me to this nice video, which helps so much! Thank you!

I also wanted to pass along a link to a wonderful online quilt show that I found this morning. It is put together by a blogger and quilter, and all of the pictures of the quilt link to the blog of the person who made it, so you can learn a little about the background. Also, when you are on Amy's Creative Side blog, check out her nice tutorials.