Decide what to be and go be it.

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Libby Lehman can sleep tonight!

First of all, I have to say that I love Libby Lehman.  I love the way her quilts look.  I love the colors and threads and movement.  I have worn out her Threadplay book by just looking at it.  I saw one of her quilts at a Bernina display at a quilt show and was awestruck.  Seriously.  I aspired to quilt like Libby.

It was that book that made me love thread.  Or maybe I should say, it made me love buying thread.  When my husband and I went on vacation, we always found a quilt shop and I always found decorative thread.  And I always bought it.  Lots of it.  I bought unusual colors and variegated threads and metallic threads and threads with sheen.  I bought it all…because maybe I couldn’t find it at home and then I’d wish I’d had it.  Trouble was, when I got it home, it just joined the other spools held captive in my little thread bin.  Oh, once in a while, I’d get them out and look at them…admire their beauty and texture.  But they rarely made it to the sewing machine.  On that rare occasion when one of them actually saw the spindle on my machine, it usually ended in disaster.  I didn’t understand the relationship between thread, tension and needle size.  So, I decided that I’d learn a little bit about how to make the thread work for you.  OK…my sister decided I should learn.  She gave me the Thread Therapy CD from Superior Threads for Christmas.  Lots of information on that little disc.  Then I signed up some mini lessons.

The first lesson was on bobbin work.  We received a spool of Razzle Dazzle thread.  It’s very cool!  Nice and shiny and glittery and…thick.  I had to loosen the tension so much on my alternate bobbin case that I thought it was going to fall apart!  But…it worked!!  Looked good on the practice piece.  So on to the coaster I was supposed to make.  My first mistake was that I wasn’t thinking backwards.  Since it’s bobbin work, the back is the front and the front is the back.  So I started out by stitching on the wrong side.  Not a big deal but something to definitely remember next time!   I think I should have used a longer stitch length to show off the thread a little bit more.

Here’s a close up the design so you can see how pretty the thread is.

So, then I decided to put a simple border on the coaster.  I decided to just use a zig-zag stitch.  Of course, I used too small of a stitch and it looks pretty crowded.  Not real pleased with this finished project.  Looks pretty cheesy…

So I started to think that there had to be a way to make it look better.  Unsewing was not an option.  So I thought and thought and came up with this solution.

Looks pretty good now, doesn’t it!  So, this was my first foray into bobbin work.  I don’t think Libby Lehman has to worry about any competition from me!  At least not yet…..


The Novice Pin Baster…a fairy tale

Once upon a time, there lived a quilter who didn’t pin baste.  All of her quilting friends pin basted, but this stubborn quilter refused to learn.  Her friends pleaded and her sister sent her a magic wand to help with the pins.  But the stubborn little quilter said “No!”.  One day, in a moment of weakness, she decided to give those little pins a try.  The first problem she had was with the masking tape she used to tape the backing to the floor.  Try as she might, she could not get that tape to come off the roll in one piece!  But this did not deter the stubborn quilter.  No, this was personal now!  She tried and tried and finally was able to tape the backing to the floor…with a pile of tape shreds on the floor next to her.  Then she laid out the batting nice and smoothly on top of the backing.  The quilt top was lovingly placed atop the batting.

Then the little quilter got down on her hands and knees and began to pin.  It soon became obvious that the little quilter’s knees were not as young as they once were and she feared she may never get back up from the floor.  The handsome prince brought her a cup of tea but she was afraid if she got off the floor to drink it, she may never find the will to get back down again.  Perhaps, the prince should have brought a glass of wine.

The pinning soon began.  After a few chips of the manicure, the quilter thought there must be a better way!  Oh yes!  The magic wand that her sister had sent her.  She picked it up. How in the realm did this crazy thing work?  After some experimentation, she figured it out.  At least it worked for her…and that’s what’s important.  After the pins were in place, the little quilter realized that her quilt top was so very smooth.  But what about the back?  After removing the tape, she turned the quilt over and lo!  There were no wrinkles!  The sun shone brightly and the birds sang.  All was right with the world…and her quilt.  The little quilter learned to not be afraid of change.

The little quilter is also hoping that the quilting is as easy as the basting!

Here is the wrinkle-free back of the royal quilt.

Here is the nice, smooth pin basted front of the royal quilt.

Quilt as you go…and a cool picture

Quilt as you go has never been one of my favorite techniques.  I’ve tried it in the past and wasn’t very happy with the results.  But I thought I’d give Leah’s tutorial a try.  Her way is much easier and neater than anything I’ve tried in the past.  Her tutorial is very clear and I’m glad I tried it….but I still don’t see myself doing much of it!  Sorry, Leah!  🙂

This week I began a beginner’s photography course.  Our homework was to shoot in aperture priority.  So, I went out into the drab, gray wasteland that is our backyard this time of year and tried to find something that was worth photographing…not an easy task at the dreary end of winter.  But I came across the fir tree that my son bought for a buck when he was about four and planted in the corner of the yard.  (If I had known it would actually grow to tower over the garage, I would have planted it in a more prominent spot!)  But I looked at the branch and saw the little water droplets and decided that was the shot I was looking for.  So, I’m sharing that with you today.   And from time to time, I may share others.  Enjoy!  One day closer to spring………

Of leaves and feathers…

Day off work today so I decided to try the SewCalGirl challenge.  Made up my little quilt “sammies”, opened the iPad and watched the January video.  Her leaves were beautiful.  I tried my hand.  My leaves were actually pretty good…until I turned it over.  Definitely needed a tension adjustment.  Adjusted the tension and sewed more leaves and it looked pretty on both sides.

With my confidence soaring, I moved on to the February tutorial.  Just a bit more involved!  But, hey, I can quilt leaves.  I can quilt feathers.  So I quilted feathers.  At least they were supposed to be feathers.  I have no idea what they really are!  But I know I’ve never seen a bird with feathers like these!  Tried it again with basically the same result.  This is going to take a whole lot more practice!  I wondered if there was an easier way.  I decided that for today, the easier way was to wait until another day.  Some days I don’t deal well with frustration.  Today is one of them.

I threw in the gloves.

I decided to stitch blocks for my charity quilt.  I’m a third of the way finished.  I think I can knock out a bunch of them today.  Today will be a lazy sewing day.

I won’t think about feathers today…I’ll think about them tomorrow…or the day after…or the day after that……….

Sewing room dump and Sunday sewing…

Last week,  I was reading blogs and came across one where someone was doing a sewing room “dump”.   So, I decided that was a good idea.  I decided that I would do a sewing room/studio/haven/cave/paradise…whatever I call it that day…dump.  I was going to go in there and with wild abandon, get rid of “stuff”!  And, boy, is there “stuff”  to get rid of!  Or so I thought.

I started with some Rubbermaid bins.  I dumped some polyester quilt batts that I no longer like to use.  Bye, bye batts!  Then I moved on to the drawers that hold notions.  Dumped a slash cutter (never doing the chenille thing again!), some thin, fusible black bias tape (never doing the stained glass thing again!),  some suction cup thingies that were supposed to hold my rulers in place while I cut that didn’t….things like that.  Moved on to thread.  That was not so easy.  Even though my serger is gathering dust, I might just need that thread.  I managed to say adios to some yellow thread.  On the same note as the serger, I moved on to the pile of fabric on top of the bins that was supposed to be the cutest little clothes for my grandkids.  Ha!  They are now 8 years old.  I don’t think the size 5 patterns will fit anymore.  Dump…

Then I moved on to the closet.  The dreaded closet.  I knew what was lurking in there….all of those UFOs.  The poor little projects that seemed like such a good idea at the time…the kits that I just couldn’t leave at the quilt show…the siren song of the patterns and fat quarter bundles that couldn’t be resisted…the gifts that were never made.  How could I possibly dump  them?  Truth is…I really couldn’t.  At least, not enough to make a dent or to make room for next month’s additions.  I pulled out bag after bag of beautiful fabrics and patterns…all wonderfully coordinated.  Some were even fortunate enough to have been started….scissors to fabric and some with actual stitches!  How could I dump these friends?  Again…truth is, I couldn’t.  A few made their way to the box for our guild’s resale shop where I imagine they will someday join the ranks of someone else’s UFOs.  One man’s trash…..

So, basically, my attempted dump resulted in just a reorganization of UFOs.  I know I’m weak, but that’s OK…I’ve been reunited with some old friends. This afternoon, I plan to renew old friendships.

I truly think there’s something to be said for Quilting ADD.

Stippling in the real world

Up until now, I’ve done my stippling for the Quilt-Along on little quilt “sammies”.  Now the challenge is to see how to make all of that work in the real world…on a real quilt.  It wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be.  I put together a table runner made from some cast-off blocks.  I actually liked it and I thought I might donate it to our guild’s silent auction in the fall.  I’m second guessing that idea now!

On the blocks, I tried straight lines once again.  And, once again…not real straight!  And, of course, this block didn’t lend itself to quilting without traveling.  So, once again, I had to wander.  I think I may need a GPS on my machine before this is over!  I just couldn’t find a way to quilt it without starting, stopping or traveling. The blocks don’t look horrible, but they don’t look great, either.  Practice…practice…practice

Here’s a close-up of the stippling on the sashing.  I will admit to being happy with this.  This is the size stippling I’m comfortable with.  I was able to quilt all of it without stopping.  I just had to take a look at the big picture before I started the sashing journey.  I’m pleased with this part.

Here’s the border.  I really don’t like wide stippling, but it was part of the lesson so I did it.  There may be a time when that’s what works best and I want to be prepared for it.  However, I think that the stippling looks a lot like little ghosts.  So, I’m ready for Halloween if nothing else.  “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!”

And, here is the finished product.  I’m thinking I may keep it cuz I really like the thing!  It’s too wide for my hutch top, but I’ll audition it on other tables.  I think I can find it a home.

To quote my grandkids, “I’m not a big fan” of quilt-as-you-go.  Tried it…really didn’t like it.  But I’ll try Leah’s technique because I want to learn.  No knowledge is ever wasted.  Maybe not ever used again  :-)…but not wasted.  And as long as I’m learning, I’m going to pin-baste an applique wall hanging that managed to find its way to top of the UFO pile.  Never pin-basted so this will be an adventure.  Quilting and stippling around applique will be another adventure all together!  I’m feeling like Indiana Jones this week!

Has anyone done this?

I’ve sewn puckers and pleats in the back of my quilt.  I’ve sewn the excess backing fabric to the back of my quilt.  I’ve sewn my gloves to the front of my quilt. I’ve sewn my finger….ouch!!   But this is the first time I’ve ever sewn my “slider” to the back of the quilt.  Funny thing is….I didn’t notice it until I ran out of bobbin thread.  It honestly didn’t drag.  It truly “slid”.  You can see that my straight lines were pretty straight!

I decided that maybe today wasn’t the day to practice fmq.  🙂 Think I’ll piece some blocks for my charity quilt.  That should be fairly safe.

Next generation quilter

My eight year old granddaughter is a quilter.  She’s been sewing for over a year.  She’s been working on her first quilt for about the same length of time now.  Because, although she has a lot of skill, she also has the attention span of an eight year old.  So her quilt top is slow going.  I work with that because I don’t want to push her and have her lose interest.

Yesterday, she pieced together one row of blocks for her quilt.  In between letting me know that she wanted to do “swirly” things (meaning quilting on the frame) and her desire for the two of us to open a shop where we sell quilts (she has the bell already so we’ll know when someone comes through the door), she decided that she would make Grandpa a pillow.  So, she went to her stash and picked out the fabrics (she has an eye for color) and whipped up this pillow for him.

Just thought I’d share what the next generation at my house is doing!


I’d just like to let those in the Quilt Along that I’ve tried to post on many blogs and couldn’t.  Apparently, the planets aren’t aligned correctly…it certainly couldn’t be operator error!  I’m a blogging rookie and hope to have it figured out soon.  But please know that I’ve looked at everyone’s work and I’m impressed!  We’re a pretty talented bunch of quilters!

I pieced together a table runner today to use for Week 6.  I think I’m tired of practice squares.  I want to see a finished product for my efforts.  I have some beautiful Valdani (?) thread that I plan to use.  If it looks good, I may donate it to our quilt guild’s silent auction or boutique.

Ialso dug up an applique wallhanging that I plan to use for practice.  I think it will be good for practicing stitching and stippling around shapes.

This weekend, I plan to shut up and quilt.  How about you?

Whew! Finally caught up!

I’ve finally caught up on the Wednesday Quilt-Along.  I’m apologizing in advance for the multitude of pictures….Week 1-Week 5.  What a learning curve!  What I learned is that I didn’t know what I thought I knew!  You can always learn something new.  The process is always evolving…

Here is my Week 1 endevour…stippling practice.  I’ve stippled before but it was very difficult to stipple in rows.  I wasn’t sure I liked that.  Who knew little U’s and humps could be such a pain!

Moved on to Week 2.   I was sure I wasn’t going to like quilting in rows.  I’ve always thought that you just stipple randomly…merrily making little curves and dips and wandering right into a corner where you have to quilt a straight line to get out!  I know….getting stuck is not good.  I can see where quilting in rows can help with that.  But I also saw where my rows made my curves look like little soldiers.  Not exactly the smooth look I wanted.  So i was absolutely sure that the quadrant quilting would not work.  Guess what!  It did.  I actually liked it.

Now, we’re playing with scale in Week 3.  That has to be one of the hardest things for me to do…keep a consistent scale.  I start out beautifully.  Then I see how much further I have to go and the scale slowly increase in size.  Like my Grandma’s cookies!  🙂  So I know I need more practice with that.

Week 4.  Straight line quilting.  Should be a breeze, huh!  More like a tornado!  Straight lines are hard!!!  It didn’t help that the only fabric I had with a stripe wasn’t a straight stripe.  Didn’t think to draw straight lines…even though Leah suggested it.

My cheater cloth was octagons.  That was pretty hard to quilt without travelling.  So, like the Merry Wanderer, I travelled.  And it wasn’t pretty.  I think my lines themselves were good, but the travelling was not.  And I certainly wouldn’t use that color thread with that fabric again!  I wanted to see my stitches.  And, boy, did I!

The motif was actually pretty good.  I was pretty pleased with that.

And now to Week 5 where we put it all together.  The straight lines on the star are pretty good.  The stippling could be better.  I just need to retrain my brain to quilt in rows.  It will come.

So what have I learned?  I’ve learned you need to relax and BREATHE!  And a glass of wine can’t hurt!  Just don’t spill it!

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