Monday, October 31, 2011

The Last Stitch

I put the last stitch in my house applique block.  Yes, it is finished!

my block

If you look carefully, you will see a modfication from Lynn's original.  It involves the flowers at the lower corners of the house.  I repeated the flowers from the vines, just using a darker red, instead of the second style of flower included in the pattern.

I'm very happy with the way it turned out and truly enjoyed the process.  I need to continue to improve on rounded edges and am thinking of a design using the reel block for my next applique project.  But before I start anything else, I need to finish this project.  I've started cutting fabric for the background blocks.  They should go together fairly quickly.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bloggers' Quilt Festival - Stargazing

My entry in the Festival is Stargazing, a quilt I made this year using a fat bundle of French General's Rural Jardin line from Moda and the pattern Ginger Belle from Miss Rosie's Quilt Company.  It is about 86" square.

The quilt design is basically a variation on the Irish Chain, but with a pieced star in what is usually the open block.  There is a lot of piecing with this pattern, beginning with the four-patch blocks that are the basis of the larger blocks.

The process of making Stargazing was extremely satisfying because both the fabric and the pattern were lovely to work with.  I was so happy with the finished flimsy.  I sent  that to Linda of The Quilted Pineapple to longarm quilt for me.  I was blown away when I received the quilt back because Linda's quilting made a good quilt top so much better.  Well, they all improve with quilting but quilting made this quilt!   Linda quilted a wreath around each star and a simple design in the chain blocks.

It was my first time using flannel on the back of a quilt.  Wow, does it make for a snuggly quilt!

Linda has even better photos of the quilting on her blog.

You can see lots more quilts in Amy's Bloggers' Quilt Festival.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

S-L-O-W Quilt

You've heard of slow food.  Well, I'm doing slow quilt.  Or maybe I should call it slow applique.  I'm making progress; the heart is sewn and I started on the first flower.  But I did not have much quilt time this past week nor will I for the next couple of weeks, what with work (three business trips in three weeks, not to any place interesting) and Miss Main Street's school activities (she had a part in the school play so I went to see two of the three performances, and then went to "parents' day" on Saturday). 

I'll report back soon, when I have some interesting quilty stuff to share.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What A Difference The Fabric Makes

Pennington Quilt Works, my local quilt fabric shop, holds an annual Holiday Open House at which they unveil their Christmas and winter-themed projects and kits.  I usually end up buying at least one pattern or kit, if not more.  The quilt that grabbed by attention this year is this one:

Each block used a different neutral fabric plus a green fabric for the very narrow bars (only 1/4" wide finished!).  Neat for Christmas but can be used year 'round.  Here's the kicker:  the quilt was made using this pattern called Ripple.

It looks so different!  The original for the pattern was made using blue and green batiks.  Now, I don't always make patterns exactly as shown, often coming up with my own color scheme.  For Ripple, I might come up with different color combinations (purple and fuschia, green and brown) but I doubt I would think to make it in quite so different a fashion.  This is something I'd like to work on, seeing expanded possibilities for patterns and blocks I like.

Of course, I bought the pattern!

Ripple is from Blue Underground Studios.  Check out their website, where they showcase their "cutting edge patterns for the modern quilter."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Applique Gadgetry

Several of you chimed in to tell me how much you like Aurifil thread too.  I'm really loving it; it is definitely worth a try if you haven't experienced it yet.

I am making progress on my applique project.  The house is completely stitched down, as is the vine on the left side.  The vine on the right is partially stitched, partially pinned and glued.  My leaves are a bit blob-like but the stitching part is going fine. 

I've discovered that there are a few gadgets that make applique easier (naturally!).  Lynn Wilder, designer of the pattern I'm using (The House on Edgewood Lane), recommended using bias bars to form the vine stem.  I'm sure they work well but I already had a Clover bias tape maker (1/4" size) so I tried that and it worked great.   

From the top, Fiskars Softgrip scissors, Sewline fabric glue pen, Clover bias tape maker, Perfect Circles

The Sewline fabric glue pen is handy for securing the edges of the smaller pieces; I use it when I turn the raw edge of the fabric to the underside and also to hold the piece in place before I sew it down because some of the pieces are too small for pins.  This glue pen is made to use on fabric plus the tip is smaller than a conventional glue stick. 

Perfect Circles are perfect for forming a circular shape (the centers of the flowers for this project).  I just cut the fabric slightly larger, run a basting thread around the edge, then gather it around the plastic circle of the size that matches the pattern piece and press with a little spray starch.  (Remove plastic circle before sewing down.)

I've had the Fiskars scissors for a long time.  They are great for cutting tiny applique pieces because the blade is short so is easier to maneuver them around small pieces plus they are sharp and cut all the way to the point.  Yet the handles are regular size, unlike most small scissors. 

I'm enjoying this applique so much, I'm already thinking about a future project!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Find - Aurifil Thread

I have converted!  I have long been a Coats & Clark Dual Duty thread user.  My old sewing machine preferred the Coats & Clark spool shape and I never experienced a problem with the thread.  As a bonus, the brand is often on sale at Joann's.  Well, I just did not know what I was missing. 

Recently, my LQS switched to selling Aurifil thread.  I had to buy a few spools in colors to match the applique project I'm working on.  Wow, is this stuff ever fantastic!   I am using the 50 wt. size which comes on an orange spool.  It is quite fine and disappears into the applique shape, even with my beginner appliquer less-than-perfect stitches.  I want to try it for piecing as I suspect it will make for flatter seams and help increase size accuracy.

Before trying Aurifil, I did not think thread could make much difference in the final result.  Now I am a believer!

P.S.  The Aurifil thread company doesn't know who I am and did not solicit this post.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

McCall's Quilting Holiday Issue

I just got the latest issue of McCall's Quilting.  They call it the Nov/Dec issue (on newstands in Oct - must be magazine industry nomenclature).  It usually has some good holiday quilting ideas, along with non-seasonal projects, and this issue did not disappoint me.  Though actually, my favorite project in the issue is not a Christmas project.  It is from the prolific Gerri Robinson and is called Summer Memory.  Click on her name and you can see it on Gerri's website.

I always find something in this issue that has to go on my quilting "list."  I've saved the Nov/Dec issues of McCall's Quilting from 2007, 2009, 2010, and now 2011.  What happened in 2008?

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Started To Applique

I started to applique and the house is being built. 

So far, I'm enjoying the stitching part; the cutting of small pieces, well, not so much.  And the burnt thumb, even less!  Yes, I managed to burn myself on the tiny Clover iron.  They really need to re-design the iron so it has a more effective guard over the hot parts. 

The house, with mostly straight lines, was not hard to sew down.  I think the challenge will come when I get to the floral vine that wraps around from the bottom.  That will be a post for another day.

By the way, Lynn Wilder, designer of the pattern (called The House on Edgewood Lane) dropped me an email message to say that the red version of Edgewood Lane will be in a booth at Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA. I think it is the booth of the store In Between Stitches.  They will have kits made using the Grace fabric line from 3 Sisters/Moda. Then this quilt is going to be traveling on the east coast with The Christmas Shoppe, where it will be in a trunk show of three of Lynn's quilts.  (I think this store is in New Hampshire.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Turning to Applique

My Tiny Stars project has returned to UFO status.  I just couldn't summon sufficient interest to keep working on it.  Other ideas are calling to me.  So I packed it up and stored it away with my other UFOs, waiting for the day it interests me again.

This is what has been calling to me:

It is a pattern designed by Lynn Wilder called The House on Edgewood Lane.  I saw this quilt on Lynn's blog a while back and bought the pattern but was intimidated by the central applique block.  I have very little experience with applique.  But lately I've been inspired by Thelma.  Thelma has been learning to do needleturn applique, working on a rather ambitious project but taking it slowly. 

I think as long as I don't delude myself into thinking I can get this done in a weekend, I'll be fine.  I'm planning to make the central applique block with the house as per the pattern directions.  But I'm going to modify the pieced part of the quilt so I can downsize it to a wall hanging.  I'll be using part of this Beach House bundle, the part left over from the Tiny Stars project, plus some odds and ends from my stash.

Wish me luck...and patience!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Inspiring Reading

I received a nice package from this afternoon.

Another Bite of Schnibbles is Carrie Nelson's sequel to Schnibbles Times Two.  For each of twelve Schnibbles patterns, she provides a larger version.  The original small quilts use 5" charm squares while the larger sizes use 10" layer cakes. 

The book contains some great projects and it is fun to read.  Carrie's writing style is very entertaining and she provides interesting background on each design:  how she got her inspiration, where the name came from, little tid-bits of what Carrie's brother calls her "wealth of non-information."  I highly recommend Another Bite of Schnibbles.

I purchased Radiant Sunshine & Shadow (by Helen Frost and Catherine Skow - my maiden name is Frost but I don't think Helen is a relative) because I am considering a design along these lines for either of two upcoming fabric collections I have my eye on - Blueberry Crumble by Blackbird Designs or Rouenneries Deux by French General (both lines are from Moda).

photos from Fat Quarter Shop

Neither fabric collection is available in stores yet so I have some time to figure out what I want to do and how much yardage I'll need. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wool Penny Rug Wreath

I put the last stitch in the wooly wreath on Saturday afternoon.

Now I need to get it framed. There are a couple of framing stores near me, as well as Michaels. I'm leaning towards Michaels because I think they might be more experienced framing needlework. I think I should put this on some foam core or other stiff backing before I have it framed. If anyone has experience with something similar, please leave advice in the comments. This project came out of a magazine but the directions stopped short of the framing part. Not so different from so many quilt patterns that end with "quilt as desired and apply binding" as though the quilting and binding are a complete afterthought.

I'm resuming work on the star pattern quilt inspired by a postcard I found in Paris.  I shunted this project aside for Christmas in July.  All the blocks are finished so it is just a matter of sashing and setting triangles to get the top done. 

And I've been giving considerable thought to what to start next.  I have a few ideas up my sleeve, or rather, in my brain; just need to decide which one comes out first.