Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What does THAT have to do with quilting?!

Have you noticed how narrow the rolls of toilet paper are getting?  I was putting in a new roll before leaving for Alabama and was struck by all the extra room on the spindle right now.  (nice quilted pattern, though...)

There is room for one of Weasley's favorite cat toys (he always thinks he has to be in there with me anyway)...
There is even room for something else on the spindle...like this extra wide roll of masking tape.  I'm just saying...

Maybe it's going to keep getting narrower and narrower until it is no wider than this roll of tape.  Then it really could be called 'fanny ribbon.'

So what does this have to do with quilting?  I've been contemplating the plight of recent cotton crops and the reality that the price of 100% cotton quilting fabric is going up, as well as 100% cotton clothing.  New stuff in the shop where I work part time is being priced at over $10.00 a yard now.  (I realize that our quilting friends down under are already paying much more for a meter of fabric than we pay.)

I've already noticed that some fabrics are getting narrower on the bolt.  This was made painfully clear to me a couple of years ago when I was purchasing some fabric for a quilt backing.  I usually don't check the width and figure that I will get at least 42 inches of usable fabric from selvage edge to selvage edge once I wash and remove the selvages.  I figured if I made a vertical seam I could get by with two widths of fabric. 

I washed, removed the selvages, pressed and dropped off my quilt, batting and backing with my friend Marilyn for her beautiful custom machine quilting.  How embarrassing when I got the call that my backing wasn't wide enough.  I felt so bad that she had gone to the trouble of trying to layer my stuff and there wasn't enough there!

I went back to the store to purchase more fabric and measure the bolt.  It was little more than 40 inches wide!  Wow!  As someone who works to kit BOMs at the shop, we always estimate yardage needed based on 42 inches of usable width of the fabric per yard.

Are the fabric mills going to start making fabric narrower?  It is worth paying attention to, I think.  When I first started sewing as a teen, fabric really was 45 inches wide on the bolt.  I still have an old piece.  I think I will keep it intact for historical reference!

I look forward to getting home at the end of the weekend and catching up with all your blogs!  I managed to sneak on my Dad's computer long enough to post this draft.  Now it's back to work!

 In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The winners!

A huge thanks to everyone who left a comment on either Stash Manicure or Fabric Therapy!  I am still out of state, but am trying remote posting so that I can announce the winners (please bear with me...I can barely pull this technical stuff off on my own computer at home...LOL). 

I was overwhelmed by the number of comments on both sites...thank you for all your kind words and interest in quilt documenting.  I love reading historical diaries of any kind...maybe some day people will be reading a bunch of quilt diaries from 2011 and beyond!  

I decided to add two prizes to reduce the odds a bit!  So without further blah, blah, blah, here are the 5 winners.  Please email me at trawson@comcast.net with your full names and snail mail addresses so that I can send out albums/extra pages the first week of March.  (if I get home and find that you have not emailed me, I will contact you by email)

The winner of the large, 12 x 12 inch album (on Fabric Therapy) is Knitnoid of Quilting and Stuff By Knitnoid.
 The winner of the medium, 8.5 x 11 album is (on Stash Manicure) is Jackie of Jackie's Stitches.
The winner of the small, 7 x 7 album is (from Stash Manicure) is JulesQuilts of JulesQuilts.

A bonus winner of a small, 7 x 7 album (from Stash Manicure) is Mary L of Quilting in OZ.

A bonus winner of a small 7 x 7 album (from Fabric Therapy) is Brenda of Quilting Along Life's Way.

Congratulations!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quilt archiving and a give away in honor of guest posting on Stash Manicure...

Hi friends!  It's that time again...another opportunity to have a peek at my obsessive-compulsive grasp on life in my quilt cave.  Thanks to the gracious Madame Samm of Sew I Quilt, I am guest posting over at Stash Manicure again today (Saturday, Feb 19). 

Yes...here it is again...the 'wall of stash.'  Apparently this has made many, many husbands feel better about their own wives' fabric buying habits, and for that, YOU ARE WELCOME!  Who knew that I would be responsible for totally uninterested husbands reading an entry on a quilt blog?!  It's all in good fun, I suppose...

Every time I guest post over there, I ponder what, if anything, I can possibly share about my quilting habits that someone would be interested in reading.  Mostly, I've talked about organization...of stash, scraps, patterns...all the debris that collects around what we do.  I don't handle chaos very well, at least not long term.  Creativity is just messy, darn it, but I seem to need a system for dealing with it all between projects.

Well, I have a system of lightly documenting my quilt projects.  I wish I could say I've done it as long as I have been quilting, but I was young and stupid when I started (22).  And maybe it's a good thing some of those early efforts weren't archived.  :o)

I've really been trying to get pictures of my quilts since the late 1980s and keep a scrapbook.  Thank God for digital photography, which seems to be an equalizer, of sorts, for those of us who are 'Ansel Adams challenged.'  I used to have a crappy Kodak 126 Instamatic 35mm camera...oh, and a disc camera...remember THOSE??  We've come a long way baby!

Anyway, here are some pictures that aren't on Stash Manicure for Saturday, February 19.  If you would like to be eligible for a give away here and there, check things out there as well.

This is the kind of album I use.

I used to sell Creative Memories Scrapbooking stuff (in a previous creative life).  I love these kinds of albums because the pages are heavy (can't see through them), and you can glue and write right on the pages.  There are many kinds of scrapbooks, even some lovely published quilt diaries where you just adhere a picture and make simple notes.  Also, you can upload pictures to a commercial picture site (like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Photoworks, etc) and make a digital, bound book (nice enough for the coffee table).  I like the scrapbooks because I like to glue in swatches of fabric. 

At one time, I considered having a little swatch book where I just glued in pieces of favorite fabrics.  I REALLY love fabric...

Anyway, I insist on archiving six main things about my projects:
1)  QUILT NAME
2)  QUILT RECIPIENT and/or OCCASION
3)  SIZE
4)  DATE STARTED
5)  DATE FINISHED (this can be REALLY interesting...)
6)  DESCRIPTION (hand quilted? pattern name? who machine quilted it? details of design, motivation, etc.)

I don't get all weird about the quality of my writing...I just write.  But, I am weird about appearing in the picture with my quilts, and that has to change...this one is 20 years old (before I got old and fat...er).   If I don't start appearing in pictures, some day it will be like I never even existed...

This simple quilt was made with my (now) husband 20 years ago.  It was his first...and last quilt (sigh).  But I admire him wanting to make one with his girlfriend to see what was involved (see why I married him?).  Now he knows what I mean (sort of) when I talk about my projects, and he is at least understanding and supportive of my habit...especially since I don't move all the furniture anymore to baste or pin a quilt on the floor!  We still use this quilt as an extra in winter...even with his huge hand quilting stitches in it...which, incidentally, we can't locate anymore (for all of you afraid to try hand quilting because you think you will ruin the quilt...).


It is good to archive stitchery, cross-stitch and knitting projects, too.

The entry above shows why I save fabric swatches...the color in my pictures is awful most of the time...not true to the fabric at all.  I need to work harder to take my pictures in good light.  The photos makes the quilt look down right UGLY.

This entry reminds me of making this quilt shop BOM sample with my best friend, Ola.  It is an American Jane pattern called "Play Time."  Ola did most of the machine applique (because I'm not good at it...hopefully you can't see these close enough to pick mine out!  LOL!) and I pieced.  We ended up donating it to the Mott's Children's Hospital quilt auction when we were through with it at the shop.  It was fun working on this with my partner in crime.  The large, blank pages allowed me to insert lots of close-ups of the blocks.  I want to make this one again...with hand applique...sometime.

Your description can be really brief or long and detailed...remember to show close-ups of features you want to remember, that define your personality as a quilter.

I used my husband's Grandmother's antique buttons on this Advent calendar wall hanging.  By archiving the quilt, I've archived the heirloom buttons. 
Taking a picture with both the quilt and the recipient is a great idea (unless I am the recipient...ha-ha).  When I designed my daughter's Harry Potter quilt, she was a snaggle-toothed little kid...so fun to see her in all her glorious goofiness with her favorite quilt at that age.

It's OK to make mistakes...your quilting diary/scrapbook doesn't have to be perfect.  I forgot to save room for the fabric swatches on the same page with the quilt, so I just put them on another page...no big deal. 


I think the quilt on the top of this page is hilarious.  I spent all this time drafting a quilt block that looked like a 5-1/4 inch floppy computer disc to make a wall hanging for my husband.  No one even recognizes this shape anymore!  It's all documented in my quilt scrapbook. 

Your project scrapbook will also chronicle the availability of retail quilting fabrics and kits.  Remember these commercial kits that offered wholecloth quilt tops stamped with a cross-stitch or embroidery pattern?  I once was hired to quilt one of these and managed to get a picture or two.

And the quilting fabric available in the early eighties was just plain sad.  Boring little calicoes and some polka dots.  I used a few cotton/poly blends in the beginning.  I remember the day I saw the first Jinny Beyer fabric line that offered something special for quilters.  I wish I had saved more of those early fabric swatches.

By archiving our quilts, we can't help but archive not only our lives, but the lives of the people we've made the quilts for.  I've done anniversary quilts for both my in-laws (50th) and my Dad and Step-mother (25th).  I drafted original blocks in both quilts that told their stories.  By archiving these quilts, I have also documented my journey through trying to introduce original design into my quilting.  I have learned to draft my own blocks for things I could not find commercial patterns for.  That has been a great learning tool and it is fun to look back through my efforts from time to time as I try to branch out and learn new things.
It's a little scary, but very freeing when you first discover that you can draft your own designs! Who cares what other people think of your original efforts? Sometimes I think we are afraid of 'putting ourselves out there,' taking a leap, doing our own thing, because we are afraid of the criticism of our peers.


Just wad up some of those tiny scraps you've been saving, cram them into both ears, and take the creative plunge!  I, too, am just learning that the water is fine!!

Ready to start your own album?  I am giving away this large 12 x 12 scrapbook that contains 15 pages plus a pack of 15 additional pages.  This should last you a while! 

Leave a comment by midnight, Sunday, February 20 to be eligible, then go over to Stash Manicure and enter there for a chance to win an album of another size (medium or small).  Two chances to win!

I will be out of email range for a week...I am going to Alabama to check in on my Mom who fell, broke her hip and had surgery, in addition to seeing the rest of my relatives.  I will be monitoring my give aways and announce winners, but won't be able to respond to your questions and comments until I get back to Michigan.  Maybe by then, spring will be springing!  There's just something about making it through February that gives me hope.  It's in the 40s here today, but I heard we are getting more snow after I leave for Alabama...hee-hee-hee.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm in Heaven...

Happiness is a hand quilting project with a new thimble!  Now if there were just a few more hours in the day that were mine, all MINE...sigh.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wrong chocolate holiday...

I'm just thinking out loud and planning the borders for the "Bunnies Prefer Chocolate" quilt top (an older BOM pattern by Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs).  I'm opting for my own borders...I really wanted some hand appliqued words to go with my hand appliqued chocolate bunnies.  It seems like a good day to be working with anything chocolate...even Easter bunnies.

I am hand appliqueing one word on each fabric.  Then I will soak each piece in water to remove the glue, cut to final size, and sew together for a scrappy outer border.  I thought this would be fun since the background of the quilt center is also pieced and scrappy.  I think I will add a red, skinny stop border first, perhaps with some tiny sawtooth triangles in the bottom left corner, opposing the busy wordy top right corner for some added interest and balance.
It's definitely a work in progress.  It was just a UFO languishing on my design wall until I settled on adding a humorous word border.  It's all part of my UFO rehab project for 2011.  I am finding adding an original twist to an existing pattern/project a good tactic when trying to fluff up tired UFOs I want to finish.  The creative spark seems to light a fire under me and make me want to get it done.  So far I'm managing to fool myself into thinking the revised projects are "new" and fun.  I also chase my tail - LOL!

Then I will hand quilt like crazy on it...after I finish hand quilting the "All Around the Town" quilt. 

I hope everyone had a Happy Valentine's Day!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Friday, February 11, 2011

The give away and a happy ending...

Since everyone in the house is asleep but me and unable to draw a winner for me, I used the random number generator to determine the comment number that would win the gently used "All Around the Block" pattern.  The winner is...lucky number eleven...Crispy of Crispy Quilts.  Congratulations!  Thanks to everyone who commented/participated.  I wish I had something to send to everyone! 

I could really feel the love today from everyone that responded with comforting words of encouragement concerning my silly hiccup with my "All Around the Town" quilt top.  Funny, it seems like a silly hiccup now but it seemed HUGE last night.

Fixing everything and finishing the top a second time wasn't so bad.  I put off everything else I was supposed to do today and just got it done.  I just finished basting it and it is ready for hand quilting.  Yee-haw!

Want to see how I squared the center of this 60 inch x 60 inch quilt top? 
Yep...that is every big acrylic ruler I own, plopped on the top and shuffled around until I was completely satisfied.  I sure justified buying them all over the years with this one crazy project.  I'm sure there are other ways to square a large project, but this was fun and it actually worked.
And here it is, all basted.  I ran out of Thursday, so the first quilting stitch will have to wait until Friday...sigh.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Back to "square" one...it sucks to be a grown up...

It is minus 8 degrees here this morning!   Brrrrrr!  I did a no-no yesterday and boy has it ever been a learning experience!!  I want to share it with you because I think that blogging is all about shared experience...the good, the bad, and the UGLY.

As many of you know, the method of applique that I like to use involves using glue.  Actually two kinds of glue...Elmer's glue sticks for prepping my pieces and Roxanne's glue baste, instead of pins, for applique placement.  I LOVE this method...but I am still learning so much about it...like yesterday.

I am of the opinion that no matter how good we think we are with a quilting technique, no matter how comfortable we are, we never truly master anything because there is always something else to learn about it.  I love my applique technique...it allows me the design freedom I seek and I am usually happy with the speed and results.

If there is a down side to using the glues, it would be the glue removal.  I am comfortable enough with my technique that I am now using the bare minimum of glue, both for pressing the tiny turn under allowances to the backside of the fabric pieces and placement (dot-dot-not-a lot...). 

The glues are archival quality, meaning they don't contain acids that would otherwise damage the fabric over time.  Despite this, I usually soak my applique blocks and borders in water with gently squeezing to remove the glue.  Then I press carefully with a dry iron on the back side to dry them and then I trim them to size.

This "All Around the Town" project was a little different than my usual fare because on every one of the 12 blocks, there were little bits of "lawn" that weren't sewn down at the block bottoms because they overlapped adjacent blocks upon assembly.

So I waited, anxiously, about glue removal, somehow thinking "fiddle-dee-dee...I'll worry about that tomorrow."  It was my Gone With the Wind moment.  I distracted myself by adding one more little appliqued touch...a quilt block on the end of the barn, as suggested by Stephanie of The Pumpkin Barn (thanks!),

Yesterday, as I was contemplating my quilt top, ready to layer and baste it, dreaming of using my new thimble, I thought about the glue...and Scarlett finally woke up.  I had already added the two borders and worked really hard to make it completely square and flat.  Perfect.

I decided that the glue must be removed, so I filled the wash tub with water, stay-stitched around the outside edge of the top, and plunged the beast into the water.  I thought that if I was careful enough, I could blot it in a towel, block it and press carefully to get it back to a square, perfectly flat object of my desire.

Oh my God...

After 2 hours of painstaking, excruciating pressing work, my top was flat...almost, and square...sort of.  I knew that all my fabrics had been prewashed against fading and shrinkage, I had been mindful of the fabric grain when cutting out my pieces, I had appliqued with lovely silk thread and I had ripped my two borders on the lengthwise grain...what could go wrong??

Ugh...100% cotton piecing thread...

Bowed, "smiling" borders...
Totally tortured corner blocks...I actually thought this "hill and valley" area would quilt out...
Everything I had stitched with my sewing machine...assembling blocks and putting on borders...pulled in and shrank...BADLY.  All in all I did a great job of stretching, pressing and salvaging my mistake.  But, when you have spent this long doing intricate hand applique on a top you love and hope to pass down through the ages, you don't cut corners.

I hung it on my design wall and was horrified by what I saw (sorry...no picture...I was too busy throwing up ).  The middle actually sagged and it didn't lie flat against my design wall/ugly pink college blankie that usually grabs everything.

But, in denial, I quickly stretched out my backing on the tables, smoothed on my batting, and attempted to make that sucker 2-dimensional again, using my long rotary rulers to try and gently ease the weirdness into a square and flat quilt sandwich.  I was dreaming about using my new thimble...it's supposed to "quilt out," right?

I even pinned it and put a few basting stitches in before going to do my music job at the church last night.  Denial, denial, denial...

On the way home it hit me...this is not acceptable.  This slip-shod, half-ass effort is not worthy of all the hours I put into this top.  Who cares what a judge or my friends would say or think, I would know that I had not done my best.

I knew that the car tire applique stitches would need to be removed and the tires pinned back out of the way, the borders would have to come off, and I would need to relax the top and tortured quilt corners and re-square the quilt center.  Then I would have to rip NEW border strips and finish it a second time, re-appliqueing all the car tires.  Ugh...

 My poor, "flat" car tires...
So I did all the ugly, unsewing last night, looking forward to today when I would start afresh to fix my quilt.  And I will fix it and work really hard to make it perfectly square and true yet again.  Then I will TOTALLY enjoy the hand quilting experience then and bind and sleeve it knowing that it will hang straight on my wall...in all four positions (since I can't tell what side is really "up" on this sucker).

Next time I applique blocks with pieces that over lap, I will baste those few inches of turned under allowances and soak away, press true and trim.  Or I will needle turn that little bit.  Once I finally decided to face the music and fix this, I was surprising calm.  It sucks to be a grown up sometimes.

There are those who don't worry about such things.  And for some projects, it is perfectly acceptable to believe in the "galloping horse" view of quilting..."if you can't tell when riding by on a galloping horse, don't worry about it..."

This is not that kind of project and I am not that kind of quilter.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm in LOVE and the pattern give away...

Ah...love is fickle.  I usually think of myself as pretty loyal partner.  My third finger on my right hand has been married to the same Roxanne's quilting thimble for years.  I occasionally use the old fashioned silver one for applique, as it was my grandmother's.  And, I like the adhesive thimble pads when I go "au naturale."
I have had 3 Roxanne's thimbles over the many years, with the brass one as my favorite for the last 8-9 years.  Well, move on over 'cause I have a new love...a new thimble!
(I still love my Scissoroos, Nat!!)
I just bought this little beauty after Barb (Fun With Barb) shared her story of finding her thimble after it had been missing for a while.  I was so touched by her emotion in telling her story that I just had to look into the matter for myself.

The thimble is made by T.J. Lane at http://www.thimbles2fit.com/.   I was a little skeptical of getting a good fit ordering it online, but I am completely pleased.  They guarantee the fit.

I chose an "open thimble," which allows for your fingernail, usually not a problem for me..please excuse my man-ish, piano-player, horrible manicure.  I downloaded her paper measuring strip and followed the directions for a great fit.  You can get the opening round or slightly oval.  I found the slightly oval to be perfect.  (Hey Glenn...how do you like yours?)

The fit with the Roxanne's thimble was never great.  It just wasn't shaped like my finger tip, so my finger tip never went to the end of the thimble.  It was heavy and after it flew off my finger and hit one poor woman in the chest while I was teaching a hand quilting class, I knew the love affair was over and I needed to move on.  Sigh.

This new thimble fits perfectly...like a second skin.  And it is so lightweight and beautiful.  They have many styles to choose from.  When I first slipped it on, I was a little worried that it might be too short and not stay on, but it is fabulous.


I've tried every kind of thimble...leather, snakeskin, plastic, metal, rubber...there was once even a paddle-shaped thingee that you held, which someone borrowed and never returned, so I can't show it to you.  (It actually worked so I am sorry I don't have it anymore...)

Anyway, on to the pattern give away.  I recently finished the top called "All Around the Town" by Sue Garmon.
There has been so much interest in this older BOM pattern, purchased from Quakertown Quilts in Houston, and it was a little expensive so I thought I would give it away.  This way, someone else can enjoy this journey.  (I taped the original pattern sheets together for each of the 12 blocks to lay out my applique.  I think I would mess them up if I was to untape them, so I will just roll them up gently and put them in a tube mailer along with the rest of the directions and the picture that came with it.)
So leave a comment by Thursday evening at midnight EST and I will announce a winner on Friday morning.

And now, some eye candy!!  Check out this incredible Halloween gourd that my best friend Ola designed and made for my husband as a Christmas gift.  We are  now using it as a night light in our bedroom with one of those LED tea lights.  There's a ghost on top of the cute pumpkin and somehow she made the most beautiful cut in the gourd to separate the shapes.  Look...it even looks like Steve!! (he's holding it in the dark picture)

Next, Mary J. is at it again, holding a second top made using the Fons and Porter doggie pattern that was available on their web site.  The ears are 3-D and I just love their expressive eyes.

And finally, Beth K. surprised me, Ola and Mary J. with homemade mittens today.  We were 3 very happy kittens with our lovely new mittens!  Thanks Beth!!

It's been a fabulous week and it is only Wednesday!!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)