Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A "little" hand applique...REALLY little...

When I say little, I mean LITTLE!  These are some more of Lori Smith's little applique blocks from her pattern, "Miss Emilie's Garden."  The whole quilt only measures 42" x 42."  
I just love her applique projects...whether the block size is 6 inches or 12 inches, her shapes are very forgiving and easy to applique no matter what method you choose to use.

I already had these little blocks glue prepped and tucked away for a time when I needed something to grab and go...or a time when I wanted busy hands without having to put a lot of thought into it. Yep, that's where I am (emotionally) in a nut shell.

My daughter finally finished with school/finals on June 18...she is officially a high school senior now...YIKES!.  Then, she and Steve have birthdays in the same week, and we are getting her ready to go to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp early tomorrow morning.

Cripes, it has been a busy two weeks!  I also made a trip to Shipshewana, IN to drop off my "Baltimore Rhapsody - Symphony" quilt for the big quilt show that opens tomorrow (Wednesday) and runs through Saturday.  I am getting an appraisal done at the show and was a little nervous about shipping the quilt before having THAT done.

I will drop Riley at camp north of Muskegon then drive south to Shipshewana to take in the quilt show (doors open Wednesday at noon).

Once I drown myself in wonderful quilts, quilters, fabric, lots of photography, and a good Amish chicken dinner, I will head the car south for a week at my parents' house.  There are things to do and my siblings and I have another family meeting.  It's still hard to imagine my parents not being there to greet me, wanting to hear all about the show, and how my music quilt did.

Then I will drive home to Michigan, pick up Steve and head to Blue Lake for Riley's final concerts in the beautiful, great outdoors of west Michigan.  Here is the orchestral concert shell during the orchestra warm up last year...it is difficult and disruptive to get up and take pictures once the audience is seated and they are playing...

The French horns are in the middle in the back, which is bad for Mom finding her in the photo, but good for the sound of the horns to be bounced off the back wall and be heard by the audience (she's in the middle, in the back, hiding behind the bassoons, smiling at her Mama...).

Blue Lake is such a great fine arts camp...this is Riley's 5th or 6th summer of going.  I'm sure we will all be tearing up as we listen to the beautiful music and soak in all the surroundings.  In addition to playing French horn in both orchestras last year, Riley played with the brass ensemble and had a separate little performance of that music (she's the 3rd from the left on the front row...).

My parents drove up from Alabama in their little RV for her final concerts last year and then we spent the rest of the week seeing the sites on the west coast of Michigan...priceless memories...it sure meant a lot to Riley to have her Grandparents there to experience the camp and enjoy the concerts.

It meant a lot to me, too.  They will be there with us in spirit this year...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Home Depot to the rescue...

Thanks to Happy Zombie and the Home Depot, my Singer Featherweight storage/travel problems are SOLVED!  This is the Stanley "Three-in-One Rolling Workshop."  Monica of Happy Zombie calls it her "mobile sewing center."

It is lightweight, sturdy, inexpensive (under $40), and the bottom section SAFELY houses my little 221K Singer Featherweight sewing machine.  (I have a Singer "Genie" as well...a slightly larger portable machine that weighs 19 pounds...I need to see if it will also fit in this...)  Bliss!

When my real Mom passed away a little over two years ago, I inherited her little white/mint green machine.  The plastic handle on its storage box had gotten brittle and broken years ago, therefore it was difficult and impractical moving it around.  I made a crappy, make-shift, wide ribbon handle for it, but was always afraid that I would somehow drop the box when moving the machine around and break my baby.

The white spool of thread demonstrates the odd green tint of this "white" sewing machine.

It nests nicely in the bottom section of my new treasure with room to spare for a small pressing/cutting mat or rulers...or plug strip, extension cord, snack, etc.

The second section is this removable covered accessory tray...


When I leave the house to do a little fabric therapy somewhere else, I can take along all the tools and gadgets I need to do whatever...

Or, I can leave this center sectional tray out and just leave the house with the upper tool box attached directly to the bottom tub. When I am doing applique work "on the road," I could leave the Featherweight at home and fill the bottom wheeled tub with fabric, etc.  Oh, the possibilities...

The handle doesn't telescope, but securely snaps down when not needed so you can use the toolbox's smaller handle when just using the top section.

And look how roomy the top tool box is!

The tray holds...more tools and gadgets!

The top toolbox holds lots of stuff...here, I have loaded my full-sized iron and an Ott light...

...and there is STILL room for the tray (and more stuff underneath...).

I like my Genome 6600, but this little jewel sews straight stitching like nobody's business!!  While I had it out last night, introducing it to it's new home, I oiled it and got it ready for lots of chain-stitching, scrap-eating, mood-inducing, life-escaping fabric therapy.

The cart was ordered online and Steve just picked it up at our local Home Depot to save shipping...and time (there was no waiting because they had several in stock!).  I later checked the price elsewhere online...Amazon sells the same thing for over $100! Thanks, Home Depot!

Home Depot has lots of goodies for quilters...like little organizing units with drawers...

I also buy my plastic storage shelves there...not very attractive, but perfect, inexpensive storage for a basement quilt cave when paired with plastic bins...

Time for more fabric therapy!

In Stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

True fabric therapy...it really works...

I have been having quite a bit of trouble motivating myself to do much these days.  And there is much to do.

Not surprisingly, I have felt like playing with fabric a bit, but mostly in a mindless, soothing way.

I decided to make a few HST's (half square triangles) using brights and some of the black on white fabrics I have been collecting.  How can one NOT be cheered by working with these peppy, beautiful fabrics?

What is it about cutting fabric that makes it so soothing?  As I sat and filled a few bobbins, I worked out a deal with myself...I would do some needed tasks in small doses, then reward myself with some fabric play.  

Then I went outside and weeded for a while in the overgrown flower beds (ugh) knowing that filled bobbins and a pile of 3.5" squares were waiting for me in the cool, quilt cave...

There are a lot of ways to make HST's, and this time I decided to do the method where you draw a diagonal line then stitch on either side of the line.  Here are a few waiting to be chain-pieced, waiting patiently, enticingly by the machine.

I sew down one side of the line, chain-piecing, for a while, then turn around and go the other direction.  Once I cut the chain-stitching, I start accumulating a pile just waiting to be pressed, cut apart, opened, and pressed again.

I started with six squares cut from each bright/black-on-white fabric combo so that I would end up with twelve identical HST's.  I'm thinking of a project that will use nine of them per block, and the remaining three will be used in something else.

I used up about 5 bobbins making a HUGE pile of prepped HST's (all while watching/listening to "Big Bang Theory" episodes on DVD).

I press the squares first, to set the stitching (does that really help patchwork lie flatter?  That is what I do because I heard you are supposed to do that...).

Just a quick snip with sharp scissors to release the HST's...

I am choosing to press toward the darker fabric, even though I am a little uncertain what I will be doing with all of them.  That is my usual rule of thumb...

I have decided to use nine of the twelve HST's to make some of these blocks.  I have been watching some of you in Blogland play with this design (like Nifty Quilts and Exuberant Color).  The pattern goes by many names...Tennessee Lightnin', Streak of Light, Zig Zag, to name a few.

This will be a good challenge for me.  I am a symmetrical girl...I like blocks I don't have to think too hard about when I am arranging all the scrappiness to find just the right balance of color and value. 

There are actually four different block orientations required to make a quilt of this design.

Each block is made from nine HST's, and the bottom left HST block is oriented differently in the four blocks, as shown below with my queer little yellow arrows.  Some of the fabrics are directional, which I am complete ignoring.

I am going to have to think about things as I mindlessly piece the blocks to make sure I am making a similar number of each of the four settings.

Wish me luck!

In stitches,