Thursday, July 23, 2015

Row By Row H2O

Are you joining the fun? Hundreds of quilt shops in all 52 States and Canada are participating in what is now an annual event. It went right by me last year I had never heard of it until I was in CO.Springs recently and picked up a CO. Row pattern from Ruth's Stitchery.
Here is my quick and easy row, still needing some embellishment.
I have a very cute row from VA, and plan on getting some from TX, MA and DC. I didn't think I would get involved but after seeing a few rows I am hooked! I haven't bought any of the number plates at $5.95 each it's a bit pricey for very many and I haven't figured out how to use them yet.
There's a nice row at a QS in Prescott Valley with quail on it with umbrellas! Might have to take a ride up there soon, I think BJ may ride along with me and she knows where that QS is.
I was not inspired by all the cactus heavy rows from AZ but I guess I can always leave them off. I was hoping to find one with a Route 66 sign so I may have to make my own!
I have a new addition for my studio -which is a very small room and tight with everything I need to have to work in there. The chair I have been using is an office chair, big, black and very bulky so when I saw this one in Costco it seemed to fit the need well and was reasonably priced so it came home with me yesterday!
It's very light, clean lines and white so it blends in well and rolls super easily. If the arms are ever a problem I can leave them off but so far I like them and I am very happy with my new seating!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pre-Vacation Projects

With the banner done it was time to turn to a couple of projects on the Domestic Sewing Machine! First up, making a little case for my nifty portable charger. It is a Jackery and can recharge multiple devices at the same time and holds a charge itself for a very long time. Great tool for any time you are away from home.

Planning to take it on vacation with me it seemed appropriate to find a way to protect it, I'm a quilter so of course it's a quilted case. I measured the device including the charging cord and dug into my scraps to come up with some bright pieces and a cute button from my large collection!
Done, and it cost me nothing but an hour of my time!
Next onto a project that has languished long, a Work Hidden In My Mind! WHIMM.
These lovely vintage 30's/40's Dresden plates came from a long gone quilter's UFO collection, you can find blocks and partial blocks at estate sales and if you are really lucky at a yard sale.  I purchased these a few years back at an estate sale and I know the quilter is happy I am going to make all 26 of them into a quilt! They are nicely hand pieced, it's a sad thing when you see these in an incomplete state, some woman spent a lot of time cutting the fan blades individually with scissors and then sewing them painstakingly by hand. I need a hand work project to take on vacation and this will do nicely, I can applique all the circles in the centers but first I have to applique the fans onto the blocks - by machine though!
OK so this next step was a bit tedious to attach fusible to the outer edges of the fans only. It took a while but they all look nice, using the buttonhole stitch on the Activa they are secured to the blocks. I tried out half a dozen or more 30's/40's repro fabrics and came to the conclusion that the yellow looked best, had to use two different ones because they were only FQ's. I ended up rejecting the fabric on the left in the picture below.
Next up, how to attach the circles- if I used freezer paper I would have to cut the backs open to remove it so I chose to make two cardboard templates, one to cut the fabric circle and the other to shape it to the right size.
 I think this is how I did it last time, making a large running stitch around the outside  and pulling it in around the smaller template then hitting it hard with a very hot steam iron before removing the template!
 It worked and now they are ready for vacation sewing!
 I am using Superior's Master Piece thread a fine 3ply, 50wt. cotton perfect for applique and I actually have just the right color yellow.
Another project the last few days was this cute potholder and funky chicken pin cushion.
 They are for my friend Gale, I made her an apron a couple of months ago and had enough scraps left to make these, I just need to mail them off to her I think she will be surprised.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Forever in our hearts

                                                You took a piece of my heart with you Matt 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Finally Finished, Fourth Of July Banner

Linking up with Heather and her Needlework report.
I haven't posted for almost two weeks, most unusual for me, but I have been working on the same project I last blogged about. I could have chronicled my progress or lack thereof, but I chose not to so you will get it all in one large data dump! If I had worked on it continuously I would have been done sooner but life got in the way!
 There is a lot of thread laid down in this quilt much more than appears in a photo of the back, a few hours of just stitching over and over the same areas. Still it should not have taken quite so long.
I haven't had any issues in the past with metallic thread because I use Superior brand but for whatever reason my machine just did not want to play nice with it. I thought I would describe my struggles hoping it might be helpful to anyone else sewing with metallics on a longarm - the issues are a bit different with a domestic machine.  There are half a dozen things to do/check first is to reduce the speed, usually I quilt at high speed, #7-8 in Cruise Control on my A-1 machine, but I lowered it back to about #5 for the specialty threads.
It is necessary to use thread socks with most specialty threads so that was a given but I fussed endlessly with tension both top and bobbin taking almost all the stress off the thread, and even tweaking the timing and spreading silicon over the spools. I also increased the size of the needle, usually I can sew these threads with the same #16 I use for most others, but Superior recommends #19 for the LA.
When I returned to a trial of Sew Fine it was stitching perfectly telling me that I still did not have the sweet spot for the specialty threads. Finally what seemed to help was to take all tension off the quilt sandwich - normally I do not torque quilts up tight, just firm, but when I sort of allowed it to almost sag a bit the thread breaking was reduced markedly, something to remember for the future that may save me a lot of time.
It's bound with a matching dark blue and includes a sleeve to hang the banner but I have not yet installed the twenty LED lights.
The stripes on the flag are quilted with a neutral SF to give the idea of movement without the glitter.
I persisted over the last 2 weeks with silver and gold threads and a final inspiration with a light over-layer of Pearl Glitter Hologram which for all it's fragility sewed beautifully and adds that extra multicolored layer -I did need to use a thread sock to prevent it unraveling uncontrollably!
The banner from last year only had silver thread and it seemed a bit one dimensional, hence the idea to add other colors and I think it worked nicely. I only used Hologram over the silver since the gold seemed loud enough on it's own!
Gold shows up nicely here. I have tried to leave a few open spaces to place the LED lights and I plan to secure the holes with Fray Check - they must be made to push the bulbs through from the back. 
In this one I was trying to photograph from an angle to show the Hologram thread effect but it's hard to do without a professional's camera, the one below actually does show some flashes of green .
Altogether a happy result and in spite of my uncooperative machine still mostly an enjoyable project.  At the urging of DH I had purchased half a dozen of these kits last year complete with LED lights and they are sitting there patiently waiting, so maybe I will quilt one - or two - a year, they would make nice gifts. I might put this one in the "for sale" album since I have no designated "giftee" at present.
Additional information:
 Bottom Line neutral thread was used in the bobbin at all times, and the batting is two layers, a light poly on top and Quilter's Dream Angel under it for stability.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Independence Day

Happy birthday to our Nation, the greatest country on God's green earth - still, in spite of everything!
God bless America and heal and prosper her.
To celebrate the day I decided to work on a fireworks banner.
 Click here to see the one I made last year complete with LED lights which this one will have also.
And, the Vintage Fan quilt is bound another one moved off the UFO list, yeah!
A productive day.
A day without quilting is a no good, very bad day, LOL!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Finished For Friday, Vintage Fan Quilt

These  vintage blocks came from an estate auction sale, cannot remember what I paid but not very much probably $15-20, and they are hand pieced. Obviously the quilter was unable to complete her work because thirty four fans were pieced with centers no corners, and I machine sewed together another six fans from precut pieces that came with it, added centers by hand with a 30's reproduction and then sewed corners on all of them using Kona muslin.
 The quilt is very square but does not hang against a wall consequently the sides appear to cave in, not so!
 As you can see when I laid it on the floor to photograph, the sides are straight. I frogged the entire stop border, I was not happy with the bump feathers it seems to be harder to make only one half of the bump feather, so I re-quilted the stop border with longarm feathers.
Those you see at the top of the pic above are bump feathers, to make them you "bump" back over the top of every other feather so they are nested together, and they are harder to do than long arm feathers which are quilted separately like those underneath the border in the stop border.
Borders are a great place to practice feathers, particularly bump "feathers" or "over the top" as some call them. For a quite a while I was intimidated by bump feathers long after I had become very comfortable with longarm feathers.They no longer scare me but I am still anxious to practice them as they are far from perfect. However, matching thread is your friend to hide imperfections then  "wave" the line of quilting a little and the eye will be drawn to that movement rather than individual feathers.
 I am more consistent at embroidering provenance on the backing prior to quilting and someone told me recently that quilt historians are begging quilters to place provenance on their quilts. You may not think any of your work will be around in a century or more but neither did the women making quilts in the 1800's! Maker's name, location and the date are the three most important facts then the purpose of the quilt and for whom it was made.
The back ground is tiny peacock feathers my favorite fill design. Originally after about one pass of quilting I didn't like the result and took it off to frog but never attempted to, and a year or so later it didn't seem worth all the effort to take out so much stitching. Back on the longarm it went and I plowed on with the design rather than starting from scratch again.
I am really OK with it and no doubt the original piecer is delighted!
The backing is also Kona muslin I used a wide back 108". I will bind it with the same blue as the stop border.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Quilt Shopping

Of course I had no intentions of buying fabric, or rather I had intentions of not buying fabric-also of course the road to hell is paved with good intentions!
Na -La's in Fountain CO. Springs is Linda's favorite QS, and it is there we went first on Saturday it's a lovely store and the owner, Na-La herself, is a delight, so check it out if you are in the area. 
Of course there was a fabric sale, 60% of end of bolt and 50% off other sale fabrics. And naturally I found some that had to come home with me! Kathy and I were not the only ones to shop I think the others are just hiding their stuff, LOL!
I fell for this adorable fabric, the border print is on both sides of the 45" width.
At first I just thought what a cute whole cloth baby quilt but then Na-La suggested cutting it down the center and adding a piece of a coordinate.
I have decided to make blocks from coordinating colors solids and/or small prints plus this coordinate , I think it will be adorable-now we just need a couple more babies!
I already have one of Angela Walters books and this one was on sale at Na-La's so I snapped it up!
Love this cute wall hanging pattern so I plan to make a couple, I can use something other than the columbines for other states.
Sunday after church and lunch we went to Ruth's Stitchery and aaarrrggghhh, of course they too had a sale, another end of bolt sale. When I saw their Rowe by Rowe H20 I wanted the pattern,  it is really cute.
They have made it a four season Rowe but I am thinking of making four rows one for each season, what do you think? If you want to know more about the Rowe by Rowe H20 quilt pattern click on the link, it's a kind of Shop Hop with a twist, 1200+ stores in USA and Canada participated in 2014 and many more are expected this year.
These were all half off but I purchased end of bolt of the black on black print and the neutral next to it so they were 60% off. The green tree fabric on the left I plan to use for the Rowe quilt and possibly the batik next to it and the Sewing Bee fabric was too darned cute not to have just a yard!
In general I am not a Kaffe Fasset fan but when I was in TX Leslie was using a couple of these that I do really like and at 20% off I got half a yard of each.
Thankfully we only visited two stores and when Linda suggested two more on Monday we ran out of time, whew! No point in placing myself in temptations path!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Stash Of A Different Kind

My friend Linda with whom we stayed the past week, is a tea lover, never drinks coffee. I on the other hand love both having grown up in Australia we almost always drank tea, even young children were allowed to drink diluted tea with half milk and perhaps a dash of honey or sugar!
I learned to love good coffee in nursing school in Sydney, even way back then the Italian influence had created an espresso culture so that even country towns seemed to have espresso available. When I first came to the USA I was surprised that espresso was almost unheard of in 1970, so it was a real treat to find it on occasion, of course now we find it everywhere on practically every corner.
On our visit to Celestial Seasonings in CO. Springs we were like kids in a candy store so much tea of every variety, many herbal and fruit infusions without caffeine at all and I had to drag myself out of the gift store!
 This was my restrained purchase, most of them on sale because whenever a box is slightly imperfect it is removed from regular retail sale and sold at a discount in the gift store.  Apparently when the company was founded the herbals were all called "infusions" but the public was not familiar with this term so they switched to calling them tea even though many contain no tea at all and are by nature caffeine free.
I was happy to find Earl Grey, my personal favorite I really like the bergamot infusion in this tea. African Rooibus is another lovely "tea" also naturally caffeine free. Chai oh how I love Chai and I have several versions of it, so wonderfully satisfying especially made with milk or Almond Silk rather than water and with a dash of honey it tastes very decadent almost like dessert without all the bad stuff! I tried a new [to me] milk substitute Almond/Coconut Silk and liked it very well, so I will be looking for it in my local stores.
With this new addition to my tea stash I needed to re-organize my current teas and infusions which were tumbled higgledy piggledly on the pantry shelf. The Billy tea is a basic Aussie tea, bulk as is my preference, it is black and only mildly fragrant. Quite an assortment  but that's not all.
In this messy basket above are loose teas many of which I purchase from my local tea shop Souvia where they have walls of tins of bulk teas and herbals which they mix to form different flavors, Earl Grey with lavender is one I really like, it's a very elegant tea. At a local Vietnamese restaurant The Tea Light Cafe, the owner's wife mixes the teas they sell and the pomegranate is my favorite- it is not a caffeine free version.

 More of my current collection two different chais there! The Good Earth is a naturally sweet beverage, quite sweet in fact.
These are plain old black tea bags which DH prefers.
Celestial Seasonings also manufactures a wide range of body care products many of them under the Jason brand and Alba and Avalon organics.
 Having read a lot about all the chemical additives in nearly every product we buy I am concerned not only about what goes into our bodies but what we put on them. The skin is the body's largest organ and as such transfers all the chemicals it encounters. Not much has been talked about in the media on transdermal absorption but my MD and NMD have both warned about several chemicals like sulfates, sodium lauryl sulfate is in almost every liquid soap and shampoo though many companies are getting the word that many consumers prefer products without this particular sudsing agent. There are other efficient sudsing agents but this is the cheapest and so most widely used. I prefer bar soap and avoid the liquids as much as possible, those I buy do not have sulfates, or other chemicals only pure herbals usually organic but that's a subject for another post.
 Aluminum in various forms is in most deodorants and I have been on a search for one that is efficient but cleaner. This one I purchased at Celestial Seasonings is very reasonable and seems to be working well so far and it is summer!
The dermatologist says I should have a body lotion with sunscreen and without parabens another toxic chemical, and this body lotion with SPF at $16.00 is about $6-8 dollars less from the CS gift store than even from Amazon. I have also used their excellent shampoos and lotions, lip salves etc etc plus this body lotion with 15 SPF -prices in the gift shop are way discounted.
Final purchase was these two heat sensitive mugs, the colors change as the mug heats up with the beverage. I flew in without a carryon but I needed one on the return!
All in all I can recommend a visit to the Celestial Seasonings plant any time you are in the Denver/Boulder area of Colorado. Leave room in your bag to add your swag!