Apr 5, 2011

New to me technique & a BOM block

Lately I've been wanting to sew but I haven't been able to decide what I want to sew. I keep seeing so many awesome projects online and not able to choose one. I did eventually manage to get off the computer and sew up a couple of things, so far, this week.

While at the Dallas Quilt Guild Show, me, my MIL & my daughter saw Cynthia England demonstrating her Picture Piecing technique. Her booth was filled with amazing examples of quilts made from patterns designed by her using this technique. Her process looked easy so we chose that as our next group project. It was very hard for the three of us to decide but we finally chose this kitty quilt pattern & kit. I also bought a pattern for a rose block that was 1/2 off.

After we got home, we took out our patterns and looked them over. Woah, there were a lot of tiny lines all over it! It looked so hard! We went to the computer to check out her website. She has a great video tutorial, and a print one, with plenty of tips, so that made us more confident that we could handle the challenge. We planned to do the free pattern and tutorial  the next time we got together before starting on the project.

Well, that was a while ago and since I'm the experienced quilter, I thought I'd try my hand at it first. The pattern was for an ice cream cone. I printed it up on freezer paper and a master pattern on normal paper and jumped to it with what I remembered of the directions.

It's broken up into sections and you have to cut apart each subsection within a section. You work one section at a time so you don't mix up the pieces. The freezer paper  pattern pieces are actually ironed onto the right side of your fabric. Then you cut the fabric a 1/4 inch away from the pattern. Basically, you then piece them together following the numbers, though there are many "cheats" and tips she shows in the videos to make it easier, then you piece the sections together to get your block, all according to the master pattern. Square it up and then you get this 12.5 inch block after taking off the paper and adding borders:

It looks fairly awesome and working through it made the other patterns look much simpler than at first glance. The key was to block all the other sections on the master pattern and only focus on the one part you're working on. I would also choose a lighter color for the background next time. I encourage anyone who wants to try something new or a new way to design "paper piecing" type patterns to check out her website, patterns and book. She's a nice lady and demoed her product very well. She was the liveliest looking one on the last day of the show. My MIL also bought a lot more of her patterns on her website so you'll see more of these from me in the future.

As for this block, I wanted to put some words on it and quilt it up but all the ones I could think of my daughter vetoed. I don't know what else to do with it so I think I'm going to go with "Sweet Treat", maybe find some summery buttons to put on it and make this a small wall hanging. I'm also going to suggest to my MIL, this weekend, to skip doing this block and just jump into the pattern we purchased because it took me a few hours to do this and that would just set us back.

The last thing I sewed today was my March block for the LJ [info]blockofthemonth  comm. Here it is and I'm finally caught up because they haven't posted April's yet!

Mar 31, 2011

Got some use from my Slice die cutter...

Me & the kids played around with the Slice machine after working on a project for my 10 yo son. He did a research project on VCU for March Madness. He had to put it on a poster board so we got out the Slice and cut some letters and circles out of cardstock. I bought this great stack of solid color cardstock at Target, 72 12" X 12" sheets in 18 colors, for under $8. I got sticker shock when I saw the price per sheet at the craft store and invested in these instead. I'm glad I'm not getting into scrapbooking, I thought fabric was expensive, sheesh.  Here's his poster (sorry for the blurry picture):

We cut the letters and orange circles from the basic design card, which happened to match the font the school uses. My daughter drew the black lines on with a Sharpie then we added some double sided tape to the back and stuck them all on. The two images at the bottom were printed from the website, cut out and glued on.

I have to backtrack and show how this started. When you prep the cutting mat to cut on, you put some watery tacky adhesive on it that is supposed to keep the paper in place but not stick to it. Well, this only works when you give it enough time to dry. Otherwise, this happens:

The sticky stuff ends up on the back of the paper where you don't want it. Well, lesson learned. There was fortunately enough glue left on the cutting mat to finish the poster and cut some extra pieces.

We cut some designs from the Vintage Findings card (click for larger):

These were fun. The crown was 4 inches, the maximum size, and we think would look good on a Mardi Gras quilt. The pocket watch was a fun outline, there were watch hands but for some reason no one wanted them. The fleur-de- lis that is upside down in the upper right corner made a fun mustache. The frame is an awesome and intricate cut I couldn't imagine doing by hand. Then there are a pointing hand, some angel wings, a butterfly and a 1" crown along with some of the odds and ends. Then the kids left.

I cut out a few more things then cut this 4" flower last

This would be perfect cut out of fusible backed fabric to make flowers or leaves for applique. I really like this machine but I'm still playing with it. I haven't designed anything that would actually use pieces cut from it, yet.

Mar 30, 2011

Spending spree (pic heavy)...

It seems I've been on a spending spree on quilt rulers over the past few weeks. I blame my MIL for my recent spending last week but I think it started at Valentines Day when my husband bought me these rulers I had been salivating over.

Then my MIL came into town for spring break and decided to buy quilting supplies for her & her sister so they can start quilting at JoAnn's. Shopping with her always makes me want to buy something for myself so I got the Easy Angle because Bonnie Hunter recommended it

and a Double Wedding Ring template set that was on clearance from $30 down to $8!

I stopped at the checkout to make sure it was complete, the bag was torn on one side. It turned out that one of the small pieces was missing so I got it at 1/2 off so it was only $4 and there was a drawing of the template in the book so I'm not really missing any pieces! I have to tell you I'm glad I started quilting 10 years ago! The prices for equipment seem so high! I think if I had to start all over again right now that I wouldn't be able to afford it. It may also be that JoAnn's has inflated their prices because of their change of owner and policies.

Well, I noticed that the quilting notions were on sale 1/2 price while we were there, for 1 week only, so when I got paid I ran back and got a few more things,


an Easy Dresden Quilt ruler to make this awesome block I saw online, Invisigrip (something brand new to me, this is my second roll and I love it!), a new seam ripper for me and one for my daughter and the Butterick patterns were $2 so I got a few to make bags. They weren't exactly what I was looking for but they're cute and only $2! Yeah, that's my standard excuse this time, "Everything was $2 or half off!" Really, being around my MIL makes me want to shop. I haven't bought this many quilting things in one trip in forever!

I have been inspired by the packaging for the Tri-Recs rulers, however.

I'd like to make a fish quilt using this idea but bed size, not a wall hanging. I pictured and measured the fabric I have for it. It was purchased like 10 years ago to make into a quilt that never got beyond the design stage. I hope that doesn't happen again this time. I figured I have over 21 yards in a beautiful bright rainbow of colors! Here's a pic of my graph paper sketches of 12 inch blocks. (click for a larger pic)

From here I'll draw up the pattern in Inkscape to scale and play with the placement of the blocks. This is going to be one of my most challenging design projects to date. I plan on having the "water" shade from light turquoise to dark purple with the fishes scattered throughout. This is the inspiration fabric, a multi-colored batik in dark blue

So, that's what I'm up to now. I hope to post again with an update soon.

Mar 21, 2011

It was a long week...

My mother-in-law came to visit last week during Spring Break. It was fun. We had a quilt project me, her and my daughter were in the middle of before she visited. It was great for National Quilting Day. It was like we celebrated all week. We completed them, well mostly. I still need to attach the binding on my daughter's quilt. It was a kit we picked up a while ago called Misty Pines by Jeri Kelly. It finishes at 7.75 inches by 21.25 inches. It came with a paper pieced center and all the fabrics to finish it except batting. We bought three to work on them together. It was my daughter and MIL's first quilt. It was a great idea to buy a complete kit for their first project because we didn't have to spend the extra time debating over choosing fabric and some of the pieces were already cut to size so we could get right to working on them. They came out great.

Here's mine:

And my daughter's:

The kit didn't include a binding so we went out to buy some since my MIL wanted to finish it that way. I think she just really wanted to know how to put on bindings. We chose two coordinating fabrics and we each finished ours differently, mine has a dark brown binding and my daughter's has a green binding. My MIL chose to add a second border in the green and green binding but I didn't get a picture of hers. I like how they were all the same but we each put our individual stamp on it.

The only problem with the pattern was a lack of detailed instructions. I hadn't really done applique before, except for the Maneki Neko, and didn't realize that the dark green was going to shadow under the light cream. The pattern should have warned about this and suggest using interfacing in between to mask it. or to put the dark green over the cream. Besides that, we had fun and my two students learned a lot. I finished mine but I'm going to free motion quilt it later. I don't recommend these patterns for beginners unless they are making them with someone more experienced.

We also used two different fusible for the appliques. We used Heat and Bond Lite and Lite Steam a Seam 2. I much prefer the Lite Steam a Seam 2. It went on very thin. It was slightly tacky on the back which made laying the scroll part over the join of the two pieces easier to get exact. It also secured the edges of the applique much better.

The Dallas Quilt Show was at the beginning of our week and we picked out our next project to work on together. Cynthia England was at the show demonstrating her technique Picture Piecing. It's a little like paper piecing except you don't sew through the papers but use them as templates for piecing. She has videos of her techniques on her website England Designs along with a tutorial and free practice patterns. The technique looks very forgiving. My MIL then bought more patterns online for us to work on after the next one. The quilts are beautiful and picture like. I can't wait to get started. I'll probably do the tutorial soon so I can work out the kinks before starting on our kits and guiding the others. I have more to post but this is quite long enough. I'll post again soon.

Mar 10, 2011

Slice die cutter by Making Memories - Review

I was in the JoAnn's Monday buying grommets when I happened to notice their original model Slice machines were on clearance. I had just seen the new Slice Elite at Hobby Lobby the previous weekend and noticed there was an applique' card you could buy for it. Also, I Have A Notion reviewed the new Slice Fabrique on their blog earlier this month. They will be carrying them & the accessories.

The Slice is a die cutting machine by the scrapbooking company Making Memories that is very hard to find info about online, except at their site, even though it has been around since 2008. They are now branching out into the quilting and fabric crafting hobbies with their 2 new models but it turns out the original model  can use the new design cards. The older model on clearance was $80, at my local JoAnn's in Grapevine, TX, while the new models run at $150 and it looks like they haven't gotten the bugs out of them yet. The biggest differences between them that I've read about online are the new models are faster and quieter, the older model will be faster with the upgrade on the new design cards, will cut mediums up to 1 mm thick as opposed to .5 mm with the older model and may cut more precise. My husband let me get the one on clearance so I was sold! I can put up with the other stuff since it's my first time using this machine.

You can browse the videos on their website here. They show what comes in the box and how to operate it. I forgot to take pictures of the un-boxing but took a whole lot more so if you're interested click.

Mar 7, 2011

I've been busy...

Well this post is going to have quite a few pictures :o) I'll make them thumbnails, some with links to the full size.

I finished up the two blocks I needed for [info]blockofthemonth last week:

These are January and February. I'll make March's block later.

While sewing these, I finally remembered my leaders & enders blocks. I got one done but something went wrong with my friendship star.

I don't know how this happened but I almost did it on the next one! I left this one alone and fixed the second. It looks funny but not entirely unappealing so I don't think I'm going to fix it.

Mar 1, 2011

Nothin' much doin'

I'm trying to post/document my sewing more often. Today, all I have is a list of stuff I bought to sew with but haven't done any sewing, yet. Actually, I repaired a car seat cover for my husband this weekend but that doesn't really count because it wasn't for me.

I scored some $2/yard flannel solids from Jo Ann's last week when they were on sale, about 5 yards. They're for the backing of my daughter's quilt. I looked at the backing and realized I probably didn't need that much. I wish I had had the money to get more. With the price of cotton ready to go up, who knows what it will cost next year.

Also at Jo Ann's, I bought some muslin and Warm & White batting to start the quilting on my BOM blocks. I brought a 40% & 50% coupon with me and told the cashier I specifically wanted the 50% coupon used on the batting. That evening, I looked over my purchases and the receipt and noticed the 40% came off the batting and the 50% came off of the much cheaper muslin. Jo Ann's used to use the bigger discount on the larger purchase price but I guess that policy has changed. I had heard they were bought by a new company back in December so I guess this is one of the changes being brought about. I'm glad I only had the two items to use the coupons on and that I only bought 1 yard of the batting other wise I could have really gotten the short end of the stick. Now I know to only go & get the one item with the coupon, along with any sale item which aren't eligible, and just  go again later for anything else I want with a coupon. Fortunately, they are on the other side of the shopping center where I work so it's not a big hardship for me.

Today, I watched a video of Bonnie Hunter when she talked at a guild meeting in Fort Worth the other week and had a Doh! *headsmack* moment. I made my BOM blocks during our snow-in and I could've used her Leaders and Enders technique! I had some blocks in a box just for doing this in my sewing space & forgot all about them in the months I've not been able to sew. I brought them down today so I could use them. I still have 1.5 blocks to finish plus this month's should be posted soon. I could've finished the leader & ender blocks I already had prepared by now, if I had remembered, and started on another set.

So, now that I'm all ready to sew, I just need to do the dishes and maybe I'll have time tomorrow.

Feb 22, 2011

First finish of 2011, I hope there are many more!

I call it "Welcome Spring"

After that awful cold snap we had here in DFW, I think I wanted something really bright and cheerful. It's 22 inches square, thankfully. I don't think I could stomach these two colors together if it was much larger. This is a good representation of the colors. The blocks are each 6 inches finished. It's basically a sample to try out my new Tri-Recs rulers. I free motion quilted it with Connecting Threads' Essentials in Purple.

Feb 20, 2011

Still working on the quilt

Today I stitched & turned it with the batting & the backing and did the stitch in the ditch to prep it for free-motion quilting. I used Purple thread from Connecting Threads and I love how it looks.

I used a tip I picked up recently. I used hairspray as basting spray to stick the two layers that weren't getting turned together. Since it was a small quilt & I had an old can of Aquanet hanging around I thought I'd try it and it worked very well. I didn't even have to go outside for better ventilation to use it. I sprayed it on both sides to be sure it stuck and everything went fine. There were no puckers on the back side of my quilt, just on the top that was only pin basted.

Feb 16, 2011

Bright quilt warning - shade your eyes

I'm suffering from a headache right now but I had to post.

I finished my quilt top! I must have been really inspired because I designed & made it in 3 days! I even had work 2 of those days. Of course it's just 22 inches square but it's still complete. Here it is

Hmmm, now that I look at the picture, it looks a bit wavy on the edges. I have to admit I practically slapped the borders on. But I love the way it came out! The colors are very loud but I used these in combination with white recently and thought they might lend themselves to a 2 color quilt. Now I wish I put some white in there, at least it's a small quilt. I'm hoping to quilt it sometime this weekend. I'll probably just sandwich, sew & turn it out with the batting & backing because I don't feel like making binding.

I think I needed this bright quilt to come out of the cold winter & the hard times we've had lately. I can't wait to use my Tri-Recs rulers again, on a bed size quilt next time.

Feb 15, 2011

Middle of the night post

I couldn't get the quilt out of my mind & sketched this up earlier today on Inkscape

Then I took a 2 hour nap. The day can be long when you wake up at 2:30 am to go to work.

Everyone went to bed around 10 pm because they were feeling sick so I stayed up to sew and got this done

Now its after almost 2 am & I'm going to pay for it tomorrow.

Its a 6.5 inch 54-40 or Fight block. I decided to start with two extremely bright colors on a mini quilt and couldn't wait to get a block done. Now I'm too tired to continue. Plus, I made a mistake in my math and cut the strips for the 4-patches 2.5 inches instead of 1.5 inches & wasted a bit of fabric, which irks me so I'm off to get some sleep.

Feb 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope y'all are able to spend it with the ones y'all love.

Today I'm making a heart shaped brownie for my family and I bought some of their favorite chocolates too.

I got my V-day present early, last Thursday. My husband bought me 3 yards of Kona White, the Tri-Recs rulers and a quilt/quilt block a day calendar.

Feb 7, 2011

It's been a hard few months...but I survived!

Well I'm back, I think. The main reason I've been gone is because I work retail and this Holiday season the store I work at did better than most. Then some unexpected family complications kept me away from sewing and the computer for a few more weeks until we got iced in.

We're expecting another wave of snow Wednesday and I'm kind of sick of it. I'm glad I don't live or moved further north because I don't understand how y'all deal with it. I hope everyone snowed under multiple feet of snow since Christmas are staying sane, healthy & warm.

I did, at least, finally got back to a sewing machine while we were iced in. I finished 4 of these blocks from the [info]blockofthemonth  group. I just need two more to catch back up. I'm really happy that my skills are better than I remembered!

I hope I can keep up posting more but only time will tell. I feel really unsettled and scatterbrained so I won't be surprised if it takes me another month to post.