Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coaster of the Month - September

I thought this month I would work on trying some more detail oriented free motion quilting.  I'm getting the feeling I'll have more luck at big sweeping designs than the more intricate ones, its pretty difficult to judge just where the needle is sometimes.

I've seen some people cut off part of the plastic at the bottom of their quilting feet so they can see where they are going in certain directions, and I might have to do that too.

Going to have try harder to find interesting coaster patterns if I want to keep this up, I think my goal should be to make awesome coasters, not just get something done each month ;) With all the quilts I'm in the middle of I think I'm getting a bit scattered.

I used the Heart Paisley design at the Free Motion Quilting Project.  If you haven't checked the website out, its got tons of patterns and advice on FMQ and quilting in general.  Now I'm a bit more prepared to re-look at some of the FMQ books I just scanned before, I wasn't ready to absorb any of the information then.

Its telling to look at the back of my FMQ is - messy and tangled, I'm guessing I can use that in the future to judge how much care I take when quilting.

This originally had two full rows of hearts on each side but the piece of binding I had already prepared was too small so I trimmed and trimmed until I ended up with this.  Hence the uneven rectangular ;)   My bindings getting somewhat better (from the front at least),  I'm even happy with 3 of the corners.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Craft Book Month - Lotta Jansdotter's "Simple Sewing"

I wanted to make sure to do a project as part of the Craft Buds - craft book month happening this month. I'd been thinking about making a doorstop for awhile.  In our house a door from the living room leads a poorly insulated area which contains a black hole through which all heat gets sucked out of during the winter if the door is open.  My husband's "room of all things male" is upstairs on the other side of that door, and though his room heats up nicely, when he's got company over there's little point in even trying to heat the house if the door is open because of that black hole.

On the flip side, even in the summer with a fully open door I'm treated to loud cries of "Die you bastards!" shouted at zombies and whatnot that carry to the other end of the house.

I figured a doorstop would make it so I can leave the door open just enough for a cat to squeeze through, but cut down on the noise and the draft.

This pattern is in Lotta Jansdotter's "Simple Sewing",  printed in 2007.  I'd found and fallen in love with her Echo line a bit too late to be able to snag all the prints I wanted but have managed to get a couple, including this "spring buds in espresso" that I used for the doorstop.

The pattern was easy to follow, I think the only thing that didn't really need to be there was an instruction to pre-wash the fabric - obviously something full of beans or rice cant go in the wash, so don't see why it'd be necessary to do that.

This is obviously a "hold the front door open" doorstop, not an interior one.  If I'd thought it through would've decreased the size by half.   It calls for 5 pounds of beans, but I wanted the cats to be able to move the door if they need to so I used 1 lb of beans & polyfil which uh...has left a very puffy looking result, since it seems to have expanded and fluffed up in the few days since I finished it.

Finished dimensions about 9" tall, 7" per side at base and 6" per side at the top. Looks bigger in person!

The book had a few nice patterns in it, but nothing else I need to make right now.  All the patterns seem relatively straightforward and not heavy on time commitment, so I'll probably be looking to it in the future again.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Totally Groovy Quilt Top & Sun Bleaching

I finished my Totally Groovy quilt top over the weekend, and hope to sandwich it soon here - I'd lost track of the schedule for the QAL but it looks like I have about a month left to wrap it up.

I enjoyed sewing with the Moda Bella solids, though I feel they frayed more than Kona cotton, they didn't slide around at on each other while sewing, which was great for a quilt with this many strips.

As I mentioned before... this is a wee bit day-glo, even for me. We've actually had a marathon rainless period here around Seattle (in fact I believe I've seen 30 seconds of rain in 60 days).   So I've been able to put it out in the sun to try to mellow out some of the harsher colors, 3 days and I can't tell a difference so...yay for the great color staying properties of  Moda Bella solids, but I guess I'm stuck with my brights for awhile ;)

I had a bit of problem with puckering, and not everything lined up though I pinned the heck out of it as I sewed, but I'm OK with how it turned out.

Now I have to start on the back, which will be pretty basic.  Somehow I ended up with a lot of leftover fabric strips though I was sure I followed directions on how much to cut - so  I may do something similar to what Alyssa at pileofabric is doing for hers here

On a side note - ouch.  I'm thinking hand stitching and quilting will have to only be a teeny part of my quilting in the future,  if my trapezius has anything to say about it in the future.  First week long muscle spasm of my life, much worse than a similar one I got last month after a marathon weekend of working on the Modern Medallion as well as the other quilt with hand quilting I'm working on.  I've hardly been able to sit at the computer to do things (which I've sure been missing!) but on the bright side it got me to get around to making a long overdue Chiropractic appointment!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Threadbias Pincushion Swap and Free Motion Quilting

Picture at Threadbias of their blog colors
Nope, those two things have nothing to do with each other in this particular instance, but Threadbias  is wrapping up a snack mat swap, and starting another for pincushions.   The theme is their blog colors as seen to the right there (obviously I never take photographs that clear...)  I've only done a charm swap so far, I'm a bit nervous about making something for a stranger but at least I know just what pattern I want to use.  Signups are open until September 18th.

On to free motion quilting.  I am not sure why I was so scared of it...wait yes I am - my sewing machine manual said I could do free motion quilting by doing X, Y and Z, and I tried it, and this is what it looked like.  >>>>

I ordered a 1/4" foot and a quilting foot, and the quilting foot was sitting there this last month just taunting me, I really didn't think it would make a difference, I thought it would still be just as  hard to move the fabric, but I was determined to do more than sew straight lines. 

First attempt with the quilting foot
So finally I sucked it up and put on my quilting foot, and was surprised to find that it actually worked.  Of COURSE when you use a regular foot it pins down the fabric so it drags when you try to move it...sheesh. 

After investing 90 seconds in perfecting my FMQ skills... I decided to tackle something more involved.

SewCalGal has apparently been doing a free motion quilting challenge all year (I just subscribed to the blog last month so I just heard of it..not that I was ready to do it until now anyway!)  This month is the Fancy Feather pattern in a 8" block.

The tracing paper I have is horrible, so after tracing I had to do my best to go over it with a FriXion marker so I could see it.  Why did I use such a busy fabric for this first attempt?  Let's chalk it up to naivete, never mind that the pattern doesn't look as good on the vintage sheeting as I thought it would.  I figured I'd use this for a pillow so I didn't put a back on it, so at least the pattern is visible from the back.
Before quilting, After quilting, Back of batting
This didn't really take too long, but this attempt at free motion quilting felt like sitting in rush hour traffic going 5 mph, with your foot hovering midair between the gas and the brake, so just doing this 8" square made my knee hurt, I will have to pace myself.

I am definitely going to use FMQ for my Totally groovy quilt, I have to start researching what would look best with it.  I'd LOVE to do all pebbles (on everything!!!) but apparently that pattern is much more time consuming than some other options.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Totally Groovy QAL Progress

Moda Bella Solids
Fig Tree Wheat
Summer House Lime

The Totally Groovy Quilt Along is well under way.  I chose to try Moda Bella Solids for the first time, carries them so I ordered from there.  Then it turned out they didn't have several of my top color picks, so this is what I ended up with.   

No I did NOT expect this to be so bright.  Yes I DO have the color card sitting right here in front of me so there's no reason on earth that I should not have known better.

Summer House Lime was my fourth choice of a green after a few much paler choices.  Fig Tree Wheat was just picked out of frustration!  I really needed to start from scratch once it started getting too far from my plan.  I certainly failed at accomplishing the subtle sun bleached colors  I intended, maybe I can get it done before the rainy season and leave it out in the sun for a week?

It's going together pretty quickly, though I'm not having as much success with curves as most people seem to be having - perhaps I should've waited for all the curve sewing tutorials for the QAL and read them ;)

The most ironic thing is that it's the pale Butter color that is glowing oddly and standing out in the worst way to me, possibly because of where it is placed in the quilt.  I mean, my whole living/dining room IS painted in Summer House Lime more or less, and my bedroom is a more subdued Mustard so I can't say bright colors put me off too much.  I do wish the colors were closer to the color chip montage at the top of the page.

Anyway, maybe I will like it more when it's all put together, not sure I could like it less!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Ramblings & a Giveaway Winner

Scrappy blocks in progress
My company is gone and the house is quiet again.  I will not admit how late I stayed up making scrappy pieced things last night.   I will not admit that I don't know what I'm going to do with them either.

The giveaway - I was amazed everybody actually answered the question!  The winner was JMF who's favorite band in High School was Creedence Clearwater Revival.  I happen to be fond of some of their songs myself.   Her and her husband have a small buffalo herd, how cool is that?  I am envious of their chickens too, but I know I can have chickens if I want, so I should probably keep my mouth shut. 

Leslie Grainger's Pretty Paisley
I made a small order for some fabric from over the weekend- I'd never browsed them before but there was a particular fabric I was looking for that they carried, and I found they had a few color choices of Melody Miller typewriters and Madrona Road's memoir which has been out of stock anytime I was placing an order elsewhere.  They have some cute Japanese prints too, so although it's a bit hard to browse their online shop due to their oddly organized sections, I'll probably be back.

I was productive on Saturday while I had the house to myself - I pieced a back for a baby quilt, put a couple of hours into my Totally Groovy quilt, started a padded dining table cover (with NOT a lot of fabric planning ahead of time, which means it might not turn out - note to self, look for some books/articles about choosing color/print combinations) and even got some paper piecing worked on.

Two things that came out of the weekend, my lanyard from the game convention has a clip at the end, and although its not long enough to reach everything I need to use it for, I can easily release it, and it does reach my sewing machine just fine to clip things.  No more having to go fetch scissors, cause even though I have 4 small pairs, I usually have left somewhere I'm not.

Secondly, my husband brought home a plushie crab monster...they were giving them away "freeze dried" vacuum packed in plastic...  I'm pretty sure that its going to go sit up on a shelf in his room soon here.  It has scary teeth.

Ponzu checking out the new house member

My list of in progress projects is getting out of hand, and my list of projects I WANT to do...phew.  I haven't started on Christmas projects yet and it's already September isn't it?