Monday, April 2, 2012

Making grapes...and some progress!

Some moments of original thinking and creativity are returning to the quilt cave, thank goodness!  I hate the creative constipation that can come when life gets a little too complicated. 

I finished the 12 hand-appliqued nine inch blocks some time ago ("Folk Art Applique," Lori Smith, From My Heart To Your Hands Designs), but was not happy with the original pattern's outer border. 

Her vines are sweet in her border, but I wanted the piece to be a little bigger and I really wanted to experiment with some other border treatments.

I have always wanted to try an appliqued scallop border, so I decided to deploy one as the inner border on this project.

Maybe if I had turned the scallop the other way...with the straight edge to the outside and all the waviness to the inside...I could have stopped right here and called it done. 

It took several days to just decide on the color for the scallop. 

When I sewed all the finished blocks together, all I could see was green (from all those funky leaves and such), so I knew that I needed a stand out color statement.

I auditioned all the different fabrics I used for the blocks one by one, but when push came to shove I just picked my favorite color (fabric choice is my least favorite thing!).  The red, hot pink, orange and yellow were a little too hot bold, and I thought they pulled the eye away from the blocks.  I just wanted this little border to keep the outer border design from running into the blocks, basically to just keep the peace.

I will applique hearts, stars, or or more of the motifs from the inner the corners before moving on the the outer border.

I've been thinking about many different things for the outer border...symmetrical/not symmetrical, vines with fruit, flowers, both?  When grapes popped into my mind, I thought they would work for many reasons: 
  • fun to make
  • gives me an excuse to enjoy a glass of wine while working
  • not overly done in projects I've seen lately
  • purple is another one of my favorite colors, especially when placed near blues
  • the purple will seem subtle, like the blue inner border, and not overpower the strong statement made by the inner blocks
  • I would need green leaves and vines to grow grapes on...third favorite color, especially when blended with blues and purples
  • I could use LOTS of different purple fabrics meaning NO FABRIC CHOOSING! Win-win situation, I would say.

I will not make it a continuous border...I will break it up into pieces so that it doesn't overpower the blocks.  I've got LOTS of little grapes to make! 

My buddy Ola just gave me those scissors pictured above.  They are Karen Kay Buckley's scissors and have wonderfully large openings for hands and fingers and really, REALLY sharp, micro-serrated blades that are simply fabulous for trimming around applique shapes.  The tiny little teeth just seem to pull the fabric into the cutting process instead of trying to slip away from the blades.  They are my new favorite scissors!  (These are the 7.5 inch size - she also has a 4 inch version.)

I also got to use my blue flexible curve to help me to draft the vine segments on my pattern.  And the forceps help me pick up/manipulate the little grapes and remove the ironed-on freezer paper, after I use the glue stick method to turn under the fabric edges (curious about the glue stick applique method?  check out the tutorial on my blog tool bar). 

Having the right tools to use makes the project easier and makes me a happy camper!

I would love to get some input about irons.  I am not happy with my Rowenta.  It is the second Rowenta I have bought, and they both have LEAKED.  It also doesn't seem to get hot enough for me (especially since I have to use it "steamless," due to the leaking...).

The iron shown above is a really small, older Black & Decker travel iron that was my mother's (handle actually folds over to make it pack flatter - and it doesn't leak, even though it folds!). 

Other features I applaud are that it gets REALLY HOT and it doesn't turn off.  I wish it had a little more weight on it's "butt" so that it wouldn't fall over so easily.  Weasley caused it to fall over and bump into my flexible curve, which now has a permanent "melty" place in it.

I had a Black & Decker YEARS ago when I lived in Galveston, TX, that got nice and hot, but it disappeared during a weekend quilt retreat (whoever you are, I hope you've enjoyed how amazing that cheap iron was!). 

I'm a little afraid to just buy another Black & Decker iron, hoping they are still hot, and just about every iron shuts off now.  Any suggestions about something you use that is marvelous?? 

I don't want a lot of bells and whistles...I'm mostly interested in heat, but having it not shut off would be great.  I am totally used to turning off and unplugging the iron when I leave the quilt cave, so I'd probably be happier with one that wouldn't automatically shut off.

I guess I have a few grapes to make...

My next post will be a tutorial of sorts about how I organize my quilt cave.  I taught a Lunch Lessons mini-seminar at the shop where I work on Stash Organization/Scrap Maintenance last week, and the pictures will be a good reference for the people who came to listen.  So, it may be a repeat for those who endured my guest posts on Stash Manicure some time ago...sorry! 

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. I have a very bad habit of knocking irons over and breaking them, mainly because I have to move the ironing board all the time in my tiny sewing room, so I don't "do" expensive for irons. I currently have a Rival I picked up at WalMart that is doing an amazing job. It does tend to blow off steam when it first heats up, but after that no leakage at all.

    Your applique blocks are just beautiful. I admire your patience. It is going to be a stunning quilt!

  2. I really like the scallop border on your quilt. Great blocks.
    Those are my favorite scissors too. They are perfect for cutting out little bits of fabric.

  3. I always look for iron sales - pharmacies, hardware stores, - kind of the places that carry small low end stock - and have picked up the B&D irons around $5 - you can't beat them for heat.

  4. Your quilt is looking great! As for irons, I mostly hate all of them but I seem to have the best luck with the dry and steam irons from Vermont Country Store. I have both of them and they work far.

  5. Good luck finding the iron you want! My newer one bit the dust several months ago so I pulled the OLD GE backup off the shelf and started using it without steam. I'm finding that no steam doesn't bother me at all. I grew up using a sprinkling bottle and I can still use a squirt bottle just fine.

    I so admire anybody who takes on a quilt that demands that much time and attention. Cutting fabric is my very least favorite thing to do in the quilting process and small pieces make me crazy. BUT I am determined to do some applique projects just to learn how!

    That's gonna be one smashing quilt when you're finished.

  6. Everybody wants something different in an iron, but I currently have a Black and Decker Digital Advantage. Things I like - heats fast, the autoclean gets rid of water deposits and excess starch, auto shut off. Things I don't like - the edge catches seams often as I am piecing blocks, more than my other iron did and it doesn't steam as well as I would like when I am ironing clothes. My husband says that is my imagination or I didn't clean after quilting.

  7. Very interesting. I really like how you are finishing this quilt. The scallop border is perfect - and the colour just right. I no longer use water in my iron - preferring to spray with water or use a damp cloth, because I could never find a dribble free iron. My current iron,my favourite, is a Tefal Aquaspeed. I'm interested to read you have a flexicurve - I bought one recently for the same reason - thought it would be great for creating applique shapes and quilting curves but haven't used it yet. I SO need some scissors like those your new ones - will have to keep an eye out for some.

  8. Your top quilt is gorgeous and my newest iron wasn´t very expansive and goes better than the one which was expansive.

  9. Just found you by way of the Civil War Quilter...all those grapes caught my eye...have been making bowls of cherries for my applique quilt:o)

    Interesting about the Rowenta irons...I am on my 3rd one and it will be the are right, they just don't get warm enough and the first 2 continually leaked. I don't even fill this 3rd one anymore...just use spray water or Best Press. Actually, the best heating iron and least problematic has been my little Black and Decker Travel iron. It gets so much warmer than a regular size iron.
    Those scissors of yours look really interesting. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Love your grape border, thinking about all those purples popped together is just too fun. I tried your glue stick appliqué method recently and have become a big fan, I used to do freezer paper on the inside and then remove it fom behind later. Thanks for all your hints though, I am now a convert.

  11. Cool things you are doing with your quilt - I'm looking forward to seeing the grapes grow.

    I prep all of my applique pieces with freezer paper and starch, so I know what you mean about a good iron. I find that the best ones for my purposes are the cheapest ones. If it's more than $15, it's too much. Those cheapies are too cheap to have an auto shut off, they have a really nice sharp point on the tip of the sole plate, and they get decently hot even without steam. Right now I have a Proctor Silex Ultra Ease that I've had for years, and I'm sure I paid about $12 for it full price. Can't beat that!

  12. I love your choice of blue for the wavy border. Great choice. Thanks for the discussion of irons. Very interesting. I look forward to your discussion of organization of your stash and scraps.

  13. I have a black & Decker that is several years old and still works very well. It is very hot and doesn't leak at all.

  14. I am also on my second Rowenta that leaks something awful - never again!

    Thanks for the tip about the Black and Decker.


  15. your scalloped border looks great. I just got a new rowenta and I'm in the "in love" stage. sorry, can't recommend any at the moment.
    Love making berries and grapes myself, very therapeutic.

  16. I had the same problem with my Rowenta-I will never buy one again. Right now I have a T-fal Ultra Glide that I bought at Herberger's. It does shut off but all you have to do is pick it up & rock it & it comes back on. I'm through with expensive irons. They never work like they are supposed to and I can get the same options with something more reasonably priced.

  17. I'll be looking forward to your next post, you always have great tips to share. I adore the blue scalloped border on your quilt. Good luck with the iron saga, I had one of those this year.

  18. I love that blue scallop-y border!

    I have heard others say that their Rowentas leak.

    The iron that I use is a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law. It never turns off. It is very, very hot. It is heavy, which makes pressing easier, I believe.

    When I received the iron, the water chamber was filled with black gunk. I shook it all out, and now I use the iron dry. Only. I use a lot of Magic Sizing. It is my secret weapon.

    I saw brand new versions of the same, old-fashioned iron at Meijer.(One the same size as mine, one smaller.) I'm rather tempted to get the bigger one, in case my old dinosaur ever stops working.

  19. How funny that you mentioned a travel iron, I use them for my pressing, they are so light and small and perfect for tiny bit.
    Just love the little grapes and glad you've got your thoughts back in order.

  20. I think your blue scallop border is the perfect color. Can't wait to see the finished quilt.
    I had to replace my old GE iron that I probably had for over 20 years and loved. I couldn't find another one so bought a Sunbeam. It works okay but it wasn't the GE. I finally did find a GE in Wal-Mart. It has an auto shut off which I think they all do now but it stays on for a pretty long time and has a light that shows when it's turned off. It heats up quick and I think it gets pretty hot. It was under $30 and considering how often irons need replacing I think that's a good price. It also is a lighter weight iron than some of them out there, similar to the weight of my old GE iron. Good luck in your search for the perfect iron!

  21. I know what you mean about irons that leak. I finally gave up and use a dry iron. I use a little spray bottle of water and mist the item I am ironing since I don't have steam. it works pretty good..
    Your work always blows me away. to be so talented is truly a gift.
    thanks for sharing your projects.

    hugs from Louisiana

  22. Well Teresa....I think there isn't anything better to cure creative constipation than drinking wine while making a bunch of circles. If I lived closer I'd have a glass along with you and cheer you on. I'm glad you are creating and sewing again, and I love that blue scallop on your Lori Smith quilt. Take care.


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