Itching to finish!

I was just itching to get this next block of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore” finished!  But it just seemed to go on and on.  I started working on the red ribbons.  As you can see, this section of the ribbon was really skinny!  Here is how I tackled it.  Even though the freezer paper template was barely an 1/8″ wide, I still cut my 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around.

block 4

Once I prepped the first side, I trimmed the seam allowance so that I could  just see the edge of the template.

block 6

Next, I prepped the other side and trimmed it down also…

block 7

…and stitched it in place.

block 2

Then I prepped and stitched the second ribbon in place and added a pretty bow.

block 3

I thought I was done (and was high-five-ing myself!) and realized, no, I still had the bluebird to stitch.  So, here is the finished block…all tidied up after it’s bubble bath!

block 1

I took a close look and saw that,  once again, I forgot to stitch a tiny piece.  Drat!

oops (2)

Now, on to the exciting part!  The reason I wanted to finish this block so much, is that I now have enough blocks to sew another row together…I know!!!  So I dusted the cobwebs off my sewing machine, and started to make some half-square triangles.  You can read a little more about the method I use here.

It’s one thing to sit and sew a bunch of half-square triangles together.  It is another thing entirely to stitch them together in a row and arrive at the measurement it is supposed to be.  Here is a little tip I use to make life easier.

First, I sew my half-square triangles (HSTs) together in pairs.  Then I press the seam open.

stitched togethe in pairs

Then I stitch the pairs together to make sets of 4.  And I press the seam open.  And then, I measure the piece.  These HSTs finish at 1″, therefore, 4  HSTs sewn together should measure 4 1/2″.

four and a half

Then I stitch the sets of 4 together to make sets of 8.  I press the seam open and measure the piece.  It should measure 8 1/2″.  This section needed a nip and tuck!

eight and a half

Now, I take my sets of 8 and stitch them together to make 16 HSTs.  And, hopefully, it measures 16 1/2″.

sixteen and a half

So, now I can start to sew the row together!   Bruin always likes to be in on the action!

bruin helping

First, I sewed on  the bottom sashing, and then the side sashing on both blocks.

bottom and sides

And…two blocks sewn together!

2 rows sstitched together

I would like to continue, but look at the time!

nine o'clock

Keep stitching…

Kerry

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Echo Quilting

Every night around 9 pm, I stop whatever I am doing and take my usual place on the couch and hand-quilt for an hour or two.  It isn’t a lot of time, but it sure adds up and I am making some  steady progress on Sue Garman’s “Bouquets for a New Day”.

The block I am working on needed a bit of extra-special quilting.  The  cross-hatching in the background causes anything that isn’t quilted to puff out and look baggy…like the vase.

baggy

I am using beige quilting thread for the background.  When I am quilting on top of a shape, I like to match the color of the thread to the color of the fabric.  If I can’t find the color I am looking for in  Dual-Duty quilt thread or YLI quilt thread, I use Mettler 40 weight, which is a machine quilting or hand-quilting weight thread.  Mettler 40 weight does not have a coating on it like true hand-quilting thread.  So, to make the thread glide through the fabric easier and to protect it from knotting and shredding, I use Thread Heaven.

thread and thread heaven

First I quilted around each point of the star, and then surrounded it with Echo Quilting.

echo quilting

And here is the finished block!

quilted block

Til next time…

Kerry

A good day…considering!

Exciting times!  Earlier this spring, a dove built a nest and laid some eggs in a tree that is visible from our front window.  Last weekend, my husband was trimming the bushes around the tree and noticed the Mama bird keeping her 2 baby birds warm.

mom and baby

On Thursday, I noticed a bit of commotion around the tree (and our cat was going crazy!)  Good thing he is an indoor cat!  The baby birds were finally leaving the nest!  I made sure my still-living-at-home, recently graduated 21 year-old daughter was paying close attention!  Here is the Mom and Dad and one of the babies.

mom dad and baby

The other baby is over here, maybe in a time-out?

2nd baby

Anyway…back to the block!  I added a few more flowers and leaves…

a few more flowers 1

flowers 2

Next, it was time to make the vine.  First I ironed the freezer paper to the wrong side of the fabric.  I trimmed just one side of the vine.

vine 1

I prepped one side…

vine 2

…then, I trimmed the other side.

vine 3

I finished prepping the vine, removed the freezer paper and added a few dabs of glue….

vine 5

…..and added it to the bouquet!

vine 6

In the meantime, I  noticed that I had forgotten a little bud in the top right hand corner of the bouquet.  So I prepped the missing bud, and also the blossom that goes at the end of the vine.  And stitched them in place.

Here is the missing bud…

oops 2

…and the blossom at the end of the vine.  Spiffy!

vine 7

I must confess, I did not look at the pattern, and mixed the two pieces up.  I did not think it mattered….keep reading!…

So once all flowers and vines and leaves stitched in place, it was time to make the stems.  I used bias bars to make them and used 4 different fabrics.  I did not want to glue all the stems in place before stitching them, so I glued and stitched a few at a time.  I took a few minutes and traced the stems so I wouldn’t have to keep putting the background back on the lightbox.

stems 1

I added a few more stems and stitched them in place…

stems 2

…voila!

stem 3

Next, I added the leaves.  So far, so good!

leaves

I was pretty impressed with myself (which usually means I have screwed up somewhere!) and started prepping the ribbon.  I put the pattern back on the light box and started to glue the ribbon in place.  Yikes!  Good thing I keep the stitch ripper handy!

yikes

Ah….that’s better!

better

Til next time…

Kerry

Voo-doo dolls and other interesting tid-bits…

Now that I have the majority of the pieces prepped and pinned to a piece of styrofoam sub-floor, I am ready to start building my block on the background.  As you can see I used a lot of pins to hold my pieces in place.

prepped

Each time I stuck a pin into the styrofoam, I thought about voo-doo dolls.

Voodoo_doll_Wallpaper_zmary

(Sometimes its really hard to stay focused!)   According to wikipedia, the most popular stereotype of using a voo-doo doll involves sticking pins into it.  But did you know that there are different emotions and feelings attached to the color of pins that can be used?  I did a bit more research and found out that yellow pins means  money and blue pins mean love!  Check out the color of my pins!

OK…where was I?

I made another copy of the pattern and taped it to the light box.  Then, I placed a background square on the pattern and put a few (yellow!)  pins in it.  Next, I took a water-soluble marker and traced the seam lines on the background.

seam lines traced

This block has lots of pieces so I won’t be gluing all the pieces in place before I start to stitch.  I like to glue a few pieces in place, stitch them, and then glue a few more pieces in place.  So, I will be unpinning  the background square from the pattern, stitching, and then I will be placing it on the pattern again.  I use the traced seam lines as a guide to make sure everything is lined up properly.

It can be a little confusing trying to figure out which pieces go where.  First I start with the stems.

stems

Then I add a few pieces.  I usually start at the outer edge and work inwards.

stems and flowers

stems and flowers 2

So far…so good!

Til next time…

Kerry

Oh…to be organized! Take 2!

Just like  my scissors, my last post seemed to disappear into thin air!!  Here it is again…

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am far from organized.  (organized: functioning within a formal structure, as in the coordination and direction of activities).  Being organized does not come easy for me.  (I would like to think that is a sign of a highly creative mind!)

Take, for instance, my Dilemna-of-the-Week.   My beloved Gingher embroidery scissors went missing.  They seemed to have vanished into thin air.  I checked all the obvious  places, but they were gone!  I asked my family members if they had seen my scissors.  Picture lots of eye rolling.  No one had seen my scissors and no one seemed concerned that my stuff was disappearing into thin air!

Then I remembered gathering up a load of fabrics and throwing them into the washer to be pre-washed.  I must have gathered up my scissors also, because that is indeed where they were found!

prewash 1 (3)

So when I start a block that has many, many pieces in it,  like this one,  this  is what I do to stay organized…

When I cut out my pattern, I keep it in sections, like bunches of leaves or whole flowers.   I prep one section at a time.

cut out 1

cut out 2

Next, I place a  copy of the pattern on my plywood-styrofoam thingy.  It is actually a sub-floor that I bought at Home Depot for $5.85.  It is particle board on one side and styrofoam on the other side.  It measures 24 inches square.

board 1

board 2

Once my pieces are prepped…

prep 1

…I pin them in place.

prep 2

Now I know exactly where they are!  How is that or being organized?

Til next time….

Kerry

Getting Ready to Start

I am eager to start the next block of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  But, before I can start cutting and stitching, there are a few things that need to be done. First, I pre-washed the fabrics for the block, including the background, in Synthrapol.  This stops the colours from running.

prewash 2 (2)

So, while the fabrics were soaking, I decided to start making my freezer paper templates.  I took a good look at the pattern.  I only had one thought:  that is a whole lot of templates, and a whole lot of tracing!  (Between you and I, tracing is the part I dislike the most!)  So this is how I avoid tracing…

This particular pattern is larger than an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper, so it has been divided in four parts.

2

I scan each individual sheet and import the images to my computer.

4

Next I open up Adobe Illustrator…

1

…and I scroll down and click on PLACE.

5

The image then pops up on the screen like magic!

6

This is the really cool part!  I hit REFLECT and the image….well, it reflects!  (If you use the needleturn method and trace your patterns on the right side of fabric, you do not need to reflect the pattern.)

7

You know you have done this properly if the writing on the pattern is backwards!  I place a piece of freezer paper in the printer, click on print…

8

…. and voila!

9

Now, I am going to make one big pattern out of the 4 sections.  I trim the patterns on the dotted lines.

10

I like my freezer paper templates to be double thickness.  So, I iron each section to a big piece of freezer paper and match all the dotted lines…like I am wallpapering…only better!

11

12

Now I get to cut out every one of those itty bitty pieces!

13

Here is a little something I want to share!

I use my light box all the time.  I love it…because I don’t have to trace the pattern on the background fabric.  Do you see a theme here?  Sometimes when there are multiple layers, it is hard to see what is underneath the pieces I have already glued in place. By gluing the leaves in place, I have covered up the flower that will sit on top of the leaves.  Confusing!   So here is what I do to make life easier.

hummingbird 1

I use my applique pressing sheet and build the flower on it, rather than on the block.  This is also called “off-block construction”.

hb2

I put just a dab of glue on each petal, and slowly add each piece, until I have a flower.

hb6

I very carefully lift the flower off the applique pressing sheet…

hb7

…and place it on the background.  Easy Peasy!

hb8

Til next time…

Kerry

A Productive Day!

It is not very often that I sit at my sewing machine and stitch the day away, but that is what I did yesterday!  I cut out and stitched…get ready….12 blocks from Grandmother’s Choice Block of the Week!  My plan is to make 3 quilts using these 8″ blocks, so I am stitching 3 variations of the same block.  I love to see how different fabric placement can drastically change the look of the block.  Here are the blocks:

This block is called “I Am An Anti”.  Honestly, I did not fussy cut the pink squares on purpose.  It just happened!

DSCN3595

Next on the runway is “Carrie Nation”.

DSCN3596

Followed by “Mr. Roosevelt’s Necktie”.

DSCN3597

And, last but not least, is “Jack’s Delight”.

DSCN3598

Jenny and Bruin like to keep me company when I sew.  They are kind of  famous!  Check out their youtube video here.

bruin

jenny and bruin

This is my latest finished block from “Bouquets For a New Day”. 5 more blocks to go!

bfand 1

The navy blue fabric in the vase is left over from an Irish Chain quilt I made for my Mom.

irish chain

Most of this block from “Civil War Bride” is stitched in place.  I started to think that maybe the table that the vase is sitting on is too dark for the overall look of the block.  So I cut out another table piece and auditioned it.  I do like it better.

cwb 1 (2)

My #1 rule in applique (and life) is this….fix something while it’s in the block stage, rather than finish the whole quilt and kick yourself because you were too busy…or too tired…or too lazy to fix it!  I have been guilty of all 3!

Til next time…

Kerry