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Archive for the tag “fmq”

Another one bites the dust!

I’m beginning to love that song!

quiltYes!!  I have another finished project.  I purchased this pattern about a year ago.  I put it on the back burner for a while.  I guess I lit a fire under that burner when I decided I wanted to learn wool applique.  I added the last border on my own.  I didn’t think it looked finished without it.  I like it very much!!

quiltingHere’s a close-up of my quilting on this piece.  I used a stencil for this corner.  I didn’t trust myself to do this free-hand.  If you click on the picture you can see my freehand leaf border.  Now, that’s something I like!!  I have the leaf design down pretty good!

pumpkinAnd here’s my first  attempt at wool applique.  I learned something while stitching this.  I didn’t know that perle cotton came in different weights.  I know it now!  This was like stitching with a rope.  I’m sure it would have been easier and the stitching finer if I had used lighter weight perle cotton.  Ah well!  Live and learn!  I’m just glad I didn’t learn it on my Noah’s Ark project I plan to begin shortly.  I’m going to a new quilt shop Saturday.  I’ve called ahead and found that they carry Valdani perle cotton in various weights!  So, that’s next on my list!

Two unfinished projects now finished!  Whoohoo!!!!!

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I love a new beginning….

I love starting new projects.  I just have trouble finishing them.  When I go into my sewing room, I always intend to work on finishing something.  But then I get like that cat that sees a sun ray on the floor…bat, bat, batting at it.  So easily distracted.  Oh, don’ t those fabrics look good together.  What can I do with them?   And I’m off and running with a new shiny thing.

I know that I can never have the discipline to finish one thing before I start another.  I just have too much churning around in my brain and everyday I have less and less time and I just have to see how this might look.  The birth of a new project.  But I firmly believe it’s the birth of a new project that keeps my mind fresh.

Yesterday I saw that I had too many projects in various states of completion.  Something had to give.  And I know I can’t stop myself from starting something new.  I’m sweating just thinking about it!  I have convinced myself to finish one project every month.  So here is my Completion #1–my inner hippie quilt that I believe I’ll call Peace Out, Man.

quiltIn this post, I told you why I stepped out of my box and made this.   I finished the piecing and applique and hit the brick wall I always hit–how to quilt it.  Free motion quilting and I are not best buddies.  We try to be and we’re cordial but we aren’t friends.  I suppose it’s because I haven’t taken the time to really get to know him.  (It must be him because he’s so aggravating! 🙂 )  I love to piece but don’t really like to actually quilt.  So, I delay the inevitable until the very last possible minute.  I’m told the key to FMQ is practice, practice, practice.  But since I set aside completed tops in hopes that the quilting fairy comes in and quilts them at night while I’m sleeping (she doesn’t), I don’t practice much.  Each time I decide to FMQ, I’m starting over.  So, on this quit I decided to practice feathers…once again.  I have not given up on feathers!  I feel like the details and stippling in the center of the quilt look pretty good.

close_upI saw the improvement from first feathers to last.   Not my best work, but at least they look like feathers!

feathersThere’s hope for me after all!  But, most importantly, one down and who knows how many to go!

My last post was buried in the reader so I’ll ask this again.

threadSee the pretty notch?  When I’m FMQ-ing, the thread sometimes gets caught in there.  Usually it’s when I’m on a good roll.  I wish thread companies would do away with them.  But until they do, are there any remedies out there?

Ready to roll!!

I’m finally caught up with the Grandmother’s Choice blocks!  I wasn’t sure that would ever happen.  Some of those blocks were pretty complicated.  But they were not going to get the best of me.  It was personal now.  So I played catch-up this  weekend and they are finally finished.  Whew!!

I really like how they’re looking.  I used the Mill Girls line for the basis and then added some fabrics from my stash.  Now that I’m caught up, I’m ready to roll on the rest of them!

Have you ever cut out pieces for a block and found out that even thought you think you did the math, they were the wrong size?  I’ve done that twice while making these blocks.  And I did it again yesterday while cutting out pieces for a small quilt.   I’ve found that I can’t cut out pieces if I’m distracted.   And I’m kind of like a cat….I’m easily distracted!  🙂  So rather than recut more pieces for the small quilt, I put it to the side.  As I had a few minutes left to sew, I picked up a little muslin “sammie” that I was using to practice FMQ.  I decided to play.  I hadn’t practiced in a while so I was afraid I was back to square one.  But I really felt good about it!

Now, I’m really excited to begin quilting the basket quilt for MiniQuilter!  I am finally beginning to believe I can do this!!

Better late than never….

I’ve moved from the corner and put the dunce cap away for another day and as promised, here are my words of wisdom!  🙂

I’ve crossed another project off of my summer to-do list!

This one was truly a learning experience.  As you can probably tell by the fabrics, this one has been patiently languishing waiting in the Later Tater pile for quite some time.  It was a pattern that caught my eye but I quickly lost interest in it.  I nearly tossed it recently but I thought it would be good fmq practice.  Originally, I was going to do Leah’s “zippling” but I thought it better lended itself to curvy stippling.  I’ve never known what to do with applique shapes.  Do I quilt over them or quilt around them or just not do them.  Usually I opt for Plan C.

I decided to use the quilting to enhance the appliques.  First, let me tell you that these are fused onto the background.  They will survive a nuclear blast.  I have no idea which fusible I used back in my dark days of beginning applique but just know that quilting through that fusible was like quilting through armor.  I’m older and wiser now (older for sure!).  Now I would cut out the center of the fusible.  Makes for a much softer quilt and I’m sure much easier quilting!  But I plugged along willing the needle to not break in the hot mess that was my fusible!

I then decided that stippling would be the way to go on the background.  After all, I had this beautiful hand-dyed Valdani thread that was perfect.  It was perfect and it quilted beautifully.  I just want to know whose big idea it was to stipple so small.  I thought I would never finish.

Ah…the border.  Finally the border!  I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  Borders always stymie me.  I’m sure you’ve all been there.  It’s the border…I want to be finished!  And many times it’s a plain piece that cries out for fancy stitching!  Well, borders can cry me a river because I typically just quilted a grid or straight lines.  I thought since this was fmq practice, a leafy border might look nice.  And I think it does.  And it was easy!  I’m glad I didn’t take the easy way out.

I’ve tried to fmq without the gloves.  I don’t like the gloves.  They’re bulky and they can get hot and I sew through them at least once a day.  But I can’t get a good grip without them.

My sister took a fmq class and the instructor suggested using glycerine.  You just rub a few drops onto your fingertips and it’s amazing how well you can grip the fabric.  When I first tried it I was skeptical.  It had an almost greasy texture and I was terrified that it would rub off on my quilt.  It didn’t.  In fact, it didn’t wear off of my fingers until I washed it off.  If you have the same issues with the gloves that I do, give this a try.

And here’s the tease….

I’ll be in Florida visiting my son and my sister next week and these guys are going along for the ride.  My sister and I will spend a day putting together a nine-patch for a charity quilt  project that we have.  I’ll post a photo of the finished project later!

Another one bites the dust!

And I’m so glad it did!  I’m checking one more off my summer to-do list!  I finished the quilt I call Square Cubed. I call it that because it’s basically a Square Within a Square block that I extended to have three squares.  I really like this little quilt.  I’m sure you’ll remember the fabrics…the little guys that wouldn’t talk to me.  Piecing the quilt was easy once I decided what I wanted to do.  But as always, I was drawing a blank when it came to quilting it.  I have the hardest time deciding how to quilt my quilts.  I almost never want anything “straight” or grid-like.  But I also don’t always want a stipple or all over design.  I’m usually stumped when it comes to motifs or quilting plain blocks.  This quilt had many opportunities to show off quilting.  However, I’m not sure showing off is a good thing for someone who still has so much to learn.  But here are a few pictures of the end result!

I stitched in the ditch around the blocks and inside the pieced blocks.  I wanted something rounder and smoother for the center, so I chose a spiral.  I have to say they were fun to do and pretty easy.  I had a lot of practice with spirals by the time I was finished!

What to do with the plain blocks.  My original thought was to do a plume in these blocks and feathers in the borders.  After I looked at the borders, I decided that they really weren’t wide enough for my current feathers.  Maybe in the near future I can make them small enough to fit in a smaller border but right now I’m like those big semis you see on the road…I make wide turns!  So I chose one of Leah’s fill patterns…Bubble Wand…and used it in the plain blocks and on the border.  Lots of practice with circles and travelling.  I think that it may also help me with feathers.  It seems like a good jumping off place for them.  The picture above shows my inner border and some of the outer border.

I was merrily stitching along…my fmq looking pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  I made the mistake of turning the quilt over.  Oh dear!  I had eyelashes on the back.  I know that quilting circles and curves can breed eyelashes.  I made the decision to not unsew.    Moved on the next bunch of circles and slowed down a bit and was careful about making the curves.  I was feeling pretty smug.  Turned it over and….more eyelashes!  I had enough eyelashes on the back of that quilt to film an episode of Jerseylicious!  Click on the picture below to get a real good look at the mess!

Dang!  Now what!  I’m not giving up and I am finishing this quilt!  Checked the needle, the thread, feed dogs.  Everything seemed fine.  The only thing left was to check the tension.  (Insert blood curdling scream here.)  I really don’t like to fool with tension.  A few weeks back, I spent an afternoon getting the tension just right.  Then I wrote down the number and thought my tension issues were over.  Wrong.  I readjusted the tension and after a few practice spirals, I found the right tension….again.  And then things went smoothly for me.

This is what good tension looks like.  🙂  I guess this quilting thing is a constant learning curve.  Just when you think you know it all…you learn something else!

Here’s the finished project.  Now I’m on to the next one.  It feels so good to have finished a couple of quilt tops that have been languishing on my sewing room.  Finishing is good…..

One down…

…and a bunch to go!  But I’ve checked one project off my Summer To-Do list.  My Gettysburg Sun is finished!  Finally…    I know I’ve whined about it a little bit…OK, a lot.  But I finally finished it and took a step back and it actually doesn’t look too darn bad!  It’s amazing how some imperfections disappear with a good night’s sleep.  Having said that, I did “unsew” a few places.  No amount of sleep would have saved those “straight” lines!  Let’s just say, I’m glad the quilting police couldn’t pull me over.  I’d be doin’ time in the slammer!  So, here’s the finished product.

The finished product! 

I think the part I’m proudest of is the green border.  When I began the project and was full of optimism and enthusiasm, I decided to quilt a loopy design in that border.  As my enthusiasm waned, I thought I just might take the easy way out and leave it plain.  After all, it was only an inch or so wide.  But I convinced myself to stick to the plan.  If nothing else, it would be loopy practice. Although, believe me when I tell you that I’ve  had plenty of practice at being loopy!  Here’s my simplistic little border that I’m so proud of.  Not so much the workmanship itself, but the fact that I did it at all!

My loopy border!

The issues I had with quilting straight lines were well documented in a different whiny post so I won’t go into that again except to say that the lines did improve as I quilted more and below you can see the detail on one of the “suns”.

A star within the sun.

As you can see from the first photo, the quilt is finished with a sleeve and hanging on my front room wall.  I’m very happy with the result and all is right with the world tonight.  Now, on to the next one!

Still pluggin’ along…

What happens when you don’t practice, practice, practice?  You get rusty, rusty, rusty!  I’ve been away from fmq for a few weeks.  In the pursuit of my Summer List, I got out my Gettysburg Sun quit and began to quilt.  I had forgotten that I have sooo much trouble quilting a straight line.  You would think a straight line would be easy.  You would be wrong.  If I took my eye off of it for even a nano-second, the stitches were snaking all over the place!  And I just couldn’t get the “feel” of the motion.  The stitches were tiny and then they were big.  I think I can attribute some of that to “lumpy seams”…. a product of small blocks with lots of pieces.  Sometimes, I just don’t know how to press seams to eliminate the bulk in a small block.   I was very unhappy with some of the stitches…so I ripped ’em out!  I like the quilt too much to leave all of the mistakes in.  So, I ripped out stitches…even the microscopic stitches we sometimes get.  Please tell me that sometimes you have them also!  Even if you have to lie to me.  🙂

See what I mean?

Another issue I’m having is I can’t see the designs I’ve marked on dark fabrics.  I meticulously marked my dark fabrics with one of those white pencils.  I believe I wasted my time.  The marks rub off by the time I get to them.  😦  Of course, I took my time to mark the border and of course, most of the markings are gone.  Can you say frustrated?  So, I’ll get out my little stub of a white pencil and try to mark it again. How in the world do you mark dark fabrics?  Is there something out there that everyone else in the world is using except me?

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to try a free motion feather.  Stitching in the ditch wasn’t challenging enough…I had to try swirls!  I had been drawing them for weeks with minimal success.  But at some point, I knew I would have to put down the pen and put thread to fabric.  Here’s the result.  Not too shabby.  But I suspect that birds all over the world are laughing their tail feathers off right about now!

My Summer List showed me that I am a prolific piecer but not much of a quilter.  This feather shows me that I’m a curvy, swirly quilter and not so straight arrow.  Somehow, I think that my just reflect my personality!

He’s the best!

In my post Warning! about running out of room in my sewing palace, pearlygirl03 posted this link to plans for a cutting table.  My husband agreed that it was do-able.  I was hoping it was do-able in this lifetime…he works sloooowly.  (Maybe that’s where MiniQuilter gets it!)  We were discussing it this morning before I went to work.  I thought that rather than a plywood top, a laminate countertop would be better.  Probably pricier…but better.  I came home from work today and there was piece of laminate cut to size and finished on all edges!  It was even blue!!  He is absolutely the best!  Fortunately, he doesn’t read this blog so he won’t get the big head because I went on about him.  🙂  Too bad we can’t get to Ikea before next weekend.  Darn!!!

I was quilting on my Gettysburg Sun quilt this afternoon and decided to quit.  I could not fmq a straight line to save my life!  I was trying to stitch in the ditch.  Let’s just say that if I were driving a car, I’d be sitting in jail right now.  Those lines were just weaving all over the place.  Thought I should quit while I was ahead.  Decided not to sew any more tonight.  When I get everything set up for fmq, I hate to undo it.  Pretty lazy, huh!  I want to watch the hockey game anyway!

To keep things interesting, here’s a sneak peek at Gettysburg Sun…without any quilting.  🙂  Before I ran into the ditch!!

Update:   Looks like I’m having some issues with the photo I inserted.  Sometimes I see it, sometimes I don’t.  I took the easy way out to edit it and I think it wasn’t such a good idea!  I’ll fix it…I promise!  And…does anyone know why sometimes I can insert a smiley and sometimes I can’t?

Finished…I can’t believe it….

It’s hard for me to believe but I finished the whole cloth quilt for Leah’s Quilt Along!  First I want to thank Leah for answering my question on Thursday about not lowering the feed dogs.  The answer made perfect sense and the implementation worked great.

Now on to the whole cloth quilt.  As I’ve said before, it’s just not my style.  But this project packed a whole lot of learning into a small quilt!  I learned how to mark a whole cloth quilt…something that obviously has greater implications…marking motifs and borders.  I learned that if  I’m going to use the back door window for a light box, I have to either: 1. grow 2. start lower on the window or 3. get the step stool.  I had some pretty tired arms by the time it was marked!  I learned to keep the feed dogs up and the stitch length set at zero.  If I had only believed that would work earlier, I would have saved beating my head against the wall a few times.  I got a beginner’s idea about making feathers.  The drawn feathers were not as difficult as I imagined them to be.  Freehand may be another story.  But another story for another day!  I learned the importance of planning a quilting strategy…know where you want to go before you get there and know the route you’re going to take.  The most important thing I learned was to accept where you are with your skill level and understand that even if it’s not where you’d like to be, it’s where you are.  That doesn’t mean you have to stay there.  Accept where you are right now and know where you’re going.

And…last but certainly not least…I love the way Leah taught us to attach binding!  I’ve tried to join the binding at the end in this way before but found it extremely confusing.  I would finally get it to look OK after several attempts.  And, by that time, I had no idea what I did to make it work!  But this was a very simple and straightforward explanation and it actually worked the very first time! Of course there are four corners.  I would have been a fool to think all four of them would turn smoothly.  The first three were wonderful.  The fourth was a little bugger.  No matter what I did, it wasn’t right.  I finally got it as close as I could and let it go.  I have enough real stress in my life to add unnecessary drama to it!  🙂   Bottom line is this…I still don’t like to attach binding.  But I dislike it a little bit less now.

Last week, I was going to chuck this quilt in the trash.  Now, I’ve become quite fond of it.  I even gave it a name.  I decided to call it Summer Sherbet.  Just looks like a bowl of sherbet.  I’m thinking I’ll keep it.

Just for giggles, here’s a picture of the Bunny Butt cake I made for the grandkids for Easter dessert.  They thought it was pretty funny.  Of course say “butt” to two eight year olds and they lose it!  I got this recipe from the Betty Crocker website.  Believe me…it was easy to make!  I don’t do hard when it comes to baking!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday.  And now it’s back to quilting!!

Watch this space for the Civil War basket quilt.  It’s assembled and basted and ready for quilting.  The plan is tomorrow…

I’m not the stipple queen….

…the  joker maybe.  But definitely not the queen!!  🙂

This week in Leah’s Quilt Along, we moved on to micro-stippling.  I had a very difficult time getting my stippling “micro” enough.  I nearly threw in the towel but decided that it had become personal and I was going to finish that whole cloth quilt.  Along the way, I learned a few things.

1.  My idea of micro and everybody else’s idea are not the same.  I could not get my stitching small enough.  I was cross-eyed trying to get them as small as I did.  And, I’m not sure I like the stippling that small.  If I could do it, I might like it.  🙂

2.  Last week, I had issues with “pokies” on the back of my quilt when I stitched the outline.  A few people suggested that I keep the feed dogs up and set my stitch length to zero.  I know Leah has been saying that from Day One but I couldn’t wrap my brain around how that worked.  Didn’t make sense to me.  (Kind of like how I don’t fly because I can’t understand what keeps that massive hunk of metal in the air.)  But out of desperation, I tried it that way.  Guess what!  It worked.  My stitches were much better on the back this week.  Go figure.  Who knew that following directions might pay off!

3.  If I concentrate too much on the “shape” I’m trying to stipple, I can’t get a good rhythm.  If I try to make a lobster claw, I get so focused on that shape that I lose focus on what to do next.  I find if I just move the fabric in little “bumps and swirls” I can develop a smoother motion.  Maybe I’m making this harder than it has to be.

I have a question for everyone.  How do you stipple inside a motif….for instance the heart?  Do you start and end at the same place or just stop when you run out of room?   An example (of sorts)…my husband hates to dance but with a Miller Lite or two, I may get him to dance at wedding.  He has this theory that you must end up where you started when the song ends.  I think that’s so he’s close to the table and he won’t get corralled into another dance!  So, do you dance around the motif so you end up at the table or on the other side of the room?  It just seems like if you end where you began, it sort of completes it.

So, at least I completed the quilting.  Although I don’t think I’ll ever make a whole cloth quilt, I can see where these skills can be useful.   After having seen some of the finished quilts this week, I’m not sure I want to put mine out there but anyway, here goes!  Actually, I like it…wonky shaped hearts and all. ( They look a little stretched out to me.)  I know it could be better…alot better.  But it could also be alot worse.  I’m not striving for mediocrosy…I really want to improve.  I’m just accepting where my skill level is at this point.  Anyway, it’s bright and cheerful and makes me think of summer!  But it certainly won’t be hanging in any shows.

Update on the Civil War basket quilt.  When I finished stippling, I uncrossed my eyes and cut the sashing strips and corner squares for the quilt.  I managed to sew one row of blocks together before dinner.  Next week, I’m off work so I’m hoping I can finish it.  It’s just so cute!!!

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