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Sunday, February 24, 2013

More supervision

Apparently I need it constantly... :). Here Stilts is overseeing the hand quilting I am slowly doing for CC's quilt.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Perfect day for sewing

Once we finished a couple of weekend chores, I pulled out my project box and got to sewing, SO happy to have my Pfaff back in working order. I finished four more of the star blocks for Anniversary Stars, completing goal #4 for this month, yay! I also started piecing some of the alternate blocks (the light variations) for this quilt, but didn't get far enough for a photo of those yet. Basically I finished piecing the strips and cut them apart to piece into blocks. I am hoping to get more of those pieced tomorrow.

I also finished the blanket stitching appliqué for block E last night.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

She is back home

And she is purring like a kitten again. The wonderful owners of Sewing Machines Etc. have fixed my Pfaff, and she is stitching like a dream again. I see lots of quilt piecing in my future. And I should be able finish up goal #4 this weekend.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A few more wedding star arcs

I managed to stitch 3 more sets of B arcs and 2 more sets of A arcs for a total of 5 sets (of 8) each. There are 6 more sets (of 8) each to go.

I've enjoyed my four-day weekend. I'm looking forward to completing goal #4, hopefully this upcoming weekend.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Slight change of plans

I managed to stitch my 4 Bear Chase blocks for this month, completing goal #3 for Get It Done! February.

I had intended to work on the last goal today and tomorrow, and get everything wrapped up for the month, but as much as I am grateful for my backup machine, I just don't love it for precision piecing quarter inch seams. The top layer lengthens as you stitch, and it tends to wobble around a bit near the end.

So, a slight change of plans - I am going to work on paper piecing - which are precise by design. Anniversary Stars will have to wait until I have my Pfaff back (should be Wednesday - correcting the timing and going ahead and servicing her while she's in). For now, Bali Wedding Star gets to come out to play.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Light strips stitched

I finished sewing all of my light strips together yesterday for the Rockin' Rail Fence quilt (satisfying another Get It Done! goal - 2 down, 2 to go), and ran out of bobbin thread at the same time. Always a good time to clean out the bobbin area, I set to work getting rid of the fuzzies and put a dot of oil on the hook where it's supposed to go.

Only this time, I'm not sure what happened. I usually run the machine for a couple of stitches without rethreading and without a bobbin in it just to make sure the dot of oil is distributed well on the hook. There is no disassembling of the hook in the cleaning process - just brushing out the fuzzies and a drop of oil. But it was like the hook got completely confused and out of sync with the needle-down position, and so now my favorite piecing machine (because of the IDT and my perfect little quarter inch foot) is incapacitated and needs service. I'm hoping that I can take her in on Monday. The shop where she was purchased (in Knoxville) has just opened up a location in Nashville, which is fortunate timing. We have other sewing machine dealers here, but they don't service Pfaff machines, and the shop where I had her last serviced has since closed.

I hope it's a quick fix. I do have another machine, thank goodness, so it's not like I can't sew at all the rest of my long weekend. And it's a great machine - I just love my Pfaff for piecing and tend to use the Bernina for quilting. Okay - guess I'll get in there and find my quarter inch foot (I'm pretty sure the Bernina has one) so I can get back to sewing.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A little too many things reversed

Since I don't do fusible appliqué very often, I have to take care and read instructions and try to remind myself of all the steps involved.

And sometimes I overthink the process and end up doing things wrong anyway.

And that's what happened today.

I have a post-it note reminding me to reverse, and it sits on top of my Fall Frolic project box. As in reverse the patterns when I am tracing them onto the fusible web. Well, apparently I got really enthusiastic about reversing, and in addition to reversing the patterns on the fusible web (that part I got right this time), I also - for some reason I still can't figure out - decided that I needed to reverse the pattern on my tracing paper for the overlay.

And instead of going back and looking at the stitched model photo, I just merrily started fusing my pieces onto the background fabric. I started in the middle laying out my pieces, and most of the shapes were the same size for either side, so I didn't run into a problem until I got to the edges of the design and realized that the leaves were not lining up properly. And then I realized what I had done. I don't think it makes that much of a difference in the overall design - I could just call it a customization, right? Except for this - it's a block of the month kit, and they give you just enough, maybe a smidge more fabric than you actually need to do each block each month. So even being conservative with my pattern placement, I didn't have enough of the green wool to make new leaves in the correct direction.

Fortunately, I was able to find some other leftover wool that is close in color, and I used that. It isn't perfect, but then neither am I. Here are my fused blocks, ready for stitching.

And here are the two "M" blocks, stitched and finished.

The little blocks always work up quickly, so I stitched them while listening to an audiobook. I will work on the bigger block later this weekend or next week.

The mailman delivered a package yesterday, and I was so excited to open it, even though I'm not starting it until I finish my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt (more incentive to get to working on that?). I went ahead and labeled the fabrics so they will be ready to start when I am.

These fabrics are so pretty, it was fun just to play with them in their little baggies last night.

It's a four-day weekend for me, and I am heading off to the sewing room for some more quilt-y fun.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Grandmother's Flower Garden update

This morning I finally finished that row I was working on. Now I'll have to make some more hexies so that I can work on the next row. As you can see, I added one white hexagon at the bottom of the picture to start it.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Grandmother's Flower Garden - adding hexies in rows

I believe I have mentioned before that I am using Quilt Patis to make my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. They are plastic hexagons instead of paper. Because they are plastic, they hold up much longer than the average life of paper templates for English paper piecing.

While quilt patis are flexible, I can't really fold them when piecing, like one can do with paper. This makes it a little more difficult to piece them as flowers and then piece those flowers together. In fact, I believe Pati Shambaugh recommends piecing them in rows. It takes a little more forethought and planning, but it is still very rewarding.

I would like to take a moment to share exactly how I piece these in rows without folding / bending the Quilt Patis (for the most part - when I get to the edges of the quilt, a little bending is necessary where the seams meet, in order to keep the Patis in the edges).

The first picture shows my current row, adding to the previous row.  I've added some arrows to show the seams that I sew to add each hexagon in a row.  The important difference from what I've seen others do is that when a new hexagon is added, I do not sew every seam.  The right and left seams of the outermost row are left unsewn until the next row is added.

Now I will take you through each seam individually.  In the photo above, I had sewn through seam #5.  In the next photo, I am whipstitching seam #6 (outer solid yellow to row 2 solid yellow).

Seam #6 is sewn in the photo below, and I am ready to add another hexagon.  This time I am adding the flower center, another yellow, slightly different shade.

I begin whipstitching where I left off the previous seam.  I usually take two stitches, locking in the corner before stitching towards the next corner.

Here you can see I have finished the first seam that adds the new hexagon to the row.

Next, I folder over the two solid yellows in the row below.  I stitch toward the corner and take a couple of stitches to lock it in place.

Here you can see that the seam is finished, and in fact, all of the seams surrounding the left solid yellow hexagon are now stitched.  This hexie's template can now be removed so it can be used in another hexagon.

Here is the back of the quilt, showing all seams stitched around that hexagon.  I travel the thread under and over the fabric a couple of times, then bring the needle through the corner to get ready for the next stitch.  If I didn't remove the template in the hexagon that has all seams sewn, I would have to bend it in order to start the next stitch.  Time to remove it!

Basically, I just pull back one of the corners and it pops right out.

The hexagon will not lose its shape, because all the seams around it are sewn.

Now I can bend that fabric easily to sew the next seam.  This is the second seam on the most recently added hexagon.

Once I get to the end of that, I take another stitch in the corner to secure it, and now I can add another hexagon.  Lather, rinse, repeat. :)

I am almost at the end of another row, so I will be able to share a new picture soon of my progress.

I absolutely love this quilt, and hope to soon get my new Sizzix die for cutting the fabrics, which will make that part much easier.  I SO love piecing hexagons by hand that I could not resist another hexie quilt project.  Keepsake Quilting's latest catalog had some really GORGEOUS designs and kits, one of which is Tula Pink's Hex on the Beach.  A dear quilting friend and I recently gushed over it, and I got to see the kit in person when she brought it in to quilt guild.  I was on the fence until then, and really, knowing how long it takes to make these quilts by hand, I tried to resist.  But then I remembered how frustrated I have been when I realized that something (a kit, a tool, a scissors chatelaine) was no longer available or extremely difficult to find (not to mention more expensive), and I that had finally decided I really, really wanted it.  So even though I won't start it for a long time, it WILL be there when I am ready to start it.  Did I mention the fabrics are GORGEOUS? :)

I hope that this "tutorial" helps someone else out there decide to dive in to a hexagon quilt, or helps make it easier to piece one.  I have gotten so many hints, tips, and tricks - I have learned so much over the years both on- and offline, that I want to help others by passing along any helpful tips that I can.

February block of the month and stash enhancement

My web server is having some temporary disk space issues, so I'm uploading these images directly to blogger instead of referencing them from my web site.  I picked up my blocks of the month kit at Quilter's Attic this morning, and stitched them right up this afternoon. Aren't they pretty?

They had a special on fat quarters so I picked up some that I believe I will use in Smith Mountain Morning in April. Blues, browns, some creams, oh, and one little odd one in the lower right corner - to go in my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. Yum, all!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Getting used to the new specs

I picked up my new glasses this afternoon, and I'm working on getting used to them. The progressive reading prescription is just a bit stronger than what I was wearing, but so far, no dizziness, no nausea, and no bobble-head when reading.

I got into the car and was so pleased that there was very little distortion when viewing out the sides of my glasses. True there is some, which is expected in virtually any progressives prescription, but distance vision is great, near vision is very good (once I get used to it, I'm sure it will be great also), and mid-vision is much better than expected.

I went with some deeper (taller? larger?) frames, and I really think that makes a difference. The shorter, more stylish frames that are so popular today just do not work as well for progressive prescription lenses, in my opinion.

I think I'm going to take my other (more stylish) frames - in which I have no lenses because of all that mess I mentioned a couple of weeks ago - in and have them put in a pair of single vision reading lenses, so that I have an extra pair on hand. Since I do so much close work, it certainly couldn't hurt to have an extra pair, and I think that would help me feel better about those frames.

Happy Friday!!!!!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

One more day

... 'til the weekend!

And this is the weekend that we go "driving Miss Doodles". CC will play chauffeur so that I can pick up my block of the month.

I found out on Tuesday that I made it into both of the Bonnie Hunter classes I wanted to take in April, so I'm thinking about colors for those right now. I am kind of leaning toward the original colors for Smith Mountain Morning (blues and browns), but I'm not sure what I want to use for Jared Takes a Wife.

I am currently still stitching on Desert part 3, working on completing the frames for the landscapes that will be stitched in later parts. Definitely going a lot more slowly than I thought it would but enjoying watching it take shape.

Just started a new cozy mystery, fourth in the Magical Cats series, Cat Trick by Sofie Kelly. Thoroughly enjoy these books, and the cats are so well written, I can see my own doing the exact same things with the same expressions... well, okay, except for the "magical" parts.

Back to a little more stitching this evening before pre-bedtime routines.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

More part 3 progress

Please ignore the extra fibers (aka cat fur) - they are not part of the original design. :) I am now starting on borders for the desert scenes, then will work on feathers. I took this while it was sitting in my lap, and actually managed to get a decent closeup of the bling.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Fall Frolic Block D

Last night I finished the blanket stitch on Block D, so here is that, plus the two Block Ms that I made this time around.

I'm still working on Desert Landscapes Mandala part 3, and I hope to have that part finished within the next several days. I've finished all of the stitching in the octagon, and just need to add the beads there, then stitch the feathers in the corners and the frames that will encompass the desert scenes. Okay, now that I've written that I realize it may take more than a few days. But I want to complete part 3 before I move on to a different cross stitch project. :)

Saturday, February 02, 2013

January report and February goals

January's report

These were my goals for January, and I'm happy to report that I met them all!

1. Start and complete all January blocks for the SSS 2013 Block of the Month quilt.
2. Complete the B arcs for the first set of Bali Wedding Star colors (A arcs are done).
Done, plus I did 2 more sets of A arcs and another set of B arcs.
3. Complete 4 star blocks on the Anniversary Stars quilt.
4. Complete 4 bear paw blocks for Clifford's Bear Chase quilt.
Done, plus 2 additional blocks for a total of 6

February's goals

This month I'd like to continue with what I think are very achievable goals, so here we go.

1. Finish piecing the light strips for Rockin' Rail Fence.
2. Complete all February blocks for the SSS 2013 Block of the Month quilt (in other words, keep up!).
3. Complete 4 more star block on the Anniversary Stars quilt.
4. Complete 4 more bear paw blocks for Clifford's Bear Chase quilt.

I have another 4-day weekend coming up this month around the Presidents Day holiday, so I will probably get the most done on my challenge at that time.