Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sampler Blocks...

It's tough working on things you can't share with anyone...like a swap piece I'm working on currently, but I did get another block done for the Christmas sampler...2 actually. Here's the leaves block with lots on my tiny berries. I used my new circle thingys to make them and they worked great. Nothing melts when you steam and the rings stay perfectly flat.
These are half inch berries. I love how Gwen Marston describes them in her Liberated Quilting book "People always ask me if they are stuffed, to which I usually reply...NO, they're just full of themselves!"
Because they have the seam allowance pulled in the back with the running stitch, they appear puffy...as if they are stuffed! I could have needle turned the leaves, but all those dips and curves was too much for me at the time so ...I decided to fuse and button-hole this block! The other block I finished was the snowman...but he can't be finished until I sew the blocks together for the top section. I'll show him soon!

THANKS for all the congrats on the chemo kicking the cancer's butt. It wasn't without cost. Mom's pretty sick and still can't eat, but at least the tumor is gone and it wasn't for nothing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More presents...

Well, I don't think you can call them that when you pay for them...but I didn't realize they were coming today. I had a small order coming from Connecting Threads that I forgot about and then I ordered a few more DMC spools from Soft Expressions to complete my stash of needleturn colors. My friend Carol was nice enough a few months back to hear me talking about wanting to try the DMC thread but not having any place locally to get any. One day in the mail comes these 9 spools of thread from her and a note saying she had somehow picked up duplicates of these colors so she was giving them to me so I could see how well I liked the thread! She really is the best friend! I've used those 9 colors for everything! Today I added a few greens, one blue and 3 reds....although I thought I only ordered 2 reds...but I'm sure I'll use them. This thread is super and very reasonably priced.

From Connecting Threads I got a hera marker for marking quilting lines, the pre-cut freezer paper sheets Dawn recommended that go right into the printer (YEA!) , some Needle Grip it pads so I don't have to wear total finger cots while I hand quilt, and 1/4 inch tape for when I really need to keep lines perfect. Mostly I do primitives and small things hand quilted but you never know when you need to be precise.

The other thing I got were these Mylar pre-sized circles. Aren't they cool?? Karen Kay Buckley designed them after finding similar ones in the hardware store to use. I saw her first use these on Simply Quilts and when they came out in a package I knew I needed them, but never got around to ordering some. Finally I did. You get four of each size and they are done in heat proof mylar. The smallest is 7/16th and the largest is 2 inches. This is the way I like making circles the best. Making a tiny running stitch around the edge and then tightening around the circle and starching the edge with a wet soaked Q-tip. Then press around the heat resistant Mylar. The Mylar won't melt but doesn't last forever. I've made many before having to make new circles. This way I don't have to fret over getting the perfect cut circle, which is very hard to do cutting free hand. Plus they fit on this nifty ring so they don't get lost.

Ah, it's good to be quiet and still today. Yesterday started with a bang at 8:45 with a call from Mom asking me to make an appt. for her because she thought her toe and foot was infected. I hung up, made the appt. called back and by the time I had hung up I knew we were going straight to the ER. She was wiped out, couldn't breath, and was dehydrated. Luckily she called her neighbor who came over and helped her until I got there. My sister was seconds behind us and we spent the day at the ER. I think we made it home about 4:30 and I got home at 5:30. She's much better today. Her foot wasn't infected, it's just that her body is so wiped out and her blood platelets are only 2 when they should be an 8...so that means she's got almost no immunity and she's a dishrag, as they put it. So she got fixed up, got antibiotics for her blister just to be safe and she's better today, but tired. The redness is a bad reaction to the chemo literally burning her skin. It's starting to take a big toll on her. Luckily we got some kinda good news though...

When the ER doc heard lung cancer he made a face and went back to look at her chest xray they had just done. He couldn't see a mass and thought maybe he missed it. He came back and said he was no cancer doc, and xrays hardly show anything compared to CT scans, but in his opinion it was showing a marked improvement if not being gone all together. 2 doctors said that. The scan is tomorrow and we are really hopeful that at the very least the mass is half the size it was or smaller. Xrays don't show up very well, but they definitely saw it on the xray the first time...so to see nothing now is good news. But official word will come in about 10 days. I'll let you know.

Now I am hungry and I need lunch.... then sewing!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gotta love that mailman..

Although the bell freaks out the cats, I love the sound because it means the mailman is usually at the door! Just now he brought my package from Quilter's Station! They are the lovely shop that puts on Primitives of the Midwest each year and they do such a fabulous job too. When I walked into the store this past June I was mesmerized by their version of Lynda Halls Fanshawe Dam pattern (Patterns: Page 3; second row-far right). I bought the pattern a while ago and plan to make it very soon for my 25th anniversary quilt. Yea, it's late but I love the pattern. I also loved the version someone made at Quilter's Station.

So I emailed the store, and Rita; the owner, last week and asked if they could make up a kit for me with just the backgrounds they used or something similar. If you have been in that store you know they couldn't make a bad choice in choosing. Today they all came! Plus the pattern for Kentucky Wildflower, and the 8 black homespun FQ's I asked her to pick out and send me. I think I'm gonna have to make this a monthly order..."Hello, send me 10 half yards of purple homespuns"...or orange, golds, reds..whatever. They have an entire room or these fabulous fabrics and I am seriously deprived living in a place that carries NONE of them in person. Gotta sew!

Monday morning...

After 3 nice days off hubby went back to work this morning and I can get back to getting some serious sewing done...yeah right. I did get several things accomplished this weekend. Lots of grocery shopping for Mom, us and the freezer. I also got some sewing done on my swap item...sorry, it's still a secret that can't be revealed! I also completed a few blocks for my Christmas Sampler and got several more set up for sewing.

My Christmas stocking block for the sampler, done yesterday...I'm going to try something new for a little while. Instead of waiting to have loads of stuff to write about and writing a huge long post, I'm going to try just making more frequent, smaller posts. No huge gaps between posting and needing tons of items to show with huge finishes. I'll try just stopping in more frequently and showing off what I got done that day or what's happening around the house. Now this remains to be seen since I often run off at the mouth which can have the opposite effect on a short, quick post.

Either way, I hope you keep stopping by.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quilting done...

The girls are done and on the wall! These were really fun to do and makes me so happy I went this year and even more excited about going back next year to see what the teachers have in store for us!

Hope you enjoy them!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Faux Paper templates...

I thought almost everyone knew about this but I'm glad that some of you found a new way to do these. So I figured maybe you'd like to see all my saved pieces. Who knows when I might need them again, so I keep them. First to give credit to the lady who started this. I'm almost positive it was Judy Mathieson that I saw on Simply Quilts showcasing this method. She said it doesn't make it faster, it just saves the picking time, which was her least favorite.

These are the ones I keep in a folder. Most from older projects that can still be used...The correct way to do this is to layer about 5 sheets of freezer paper with your draw pattern on the top. Then with NO water in your iron, hold it up and use the tip to tack several places on the paper pattern so the pieces stick together. If you iron the whole sheets, they sometimes don't come apart so well. On this square in a square pattern I probably tacked 6 or 8 spots just to keep them together.
Then you use an empty needle to sew your lines where you will be folding. When you need several blocks you can use this method to make several duplicate sheets of freezer paper patterns at once! Plus the perforations make folding a bit easier. I often skip this if it's a small simple pattern and I only need a few blocks. I use a straight edge ruler to fold the paper back nice and crisp.

Below is my SQ in a SQ pattern extras. Perforated and ready for use. I "sewed" on the inside fold lines and had 5 pieces under the main pattern. All I have to do is draw the outside lines with pencil to complete the pattern.New York beauty blocks and a row of flying geese!Another new York Beauty blocks not yet folded and used! Below was my main pattern piece for the blocks used to make this quilt! I think the stick um is dead, but I still saved it. One huge plus to this method over traditional paper piecing is the ability to move the seam placement. If you don't like all your seams going one way simply peel back the freezer paper iron the seam the opposite way, then iron the freezer paper back over and move forward!! Very cool when doing New York beauties.Marjorie...freezer paper is fabulous for this and luckily Dawn mentioned that they sell it in precut sheets for the printer! I just got a 50 sheet pack from Connecting Threads and can't wait to use it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Faux Paper Piecing how to...

Did you think I was never coming back? Me too. No interesting vacation or story to tell, just the blahs and nothing really interesting to blab about really. It's tough to post when you have absolutely nothing to show or write about. I read a blog the other day where the gal said "her quilting mojo was back!" Well it sounds like a good definition for me...except that my quilting mojo left and it's nowhere in sight.

I am working but I'm sitting on the sofa and hand quilting my long wall hanging Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. I have a few more hours work and then I'll be able to show a nice finished piece. It's a very nice thing...hand quilting...but unfortunately doesn't show real progress being made in a picture. I'm also working on a swap piece that cannot be show on the blog so that makes for a difficult picture requirement in posts. Sorry.

But I did take a few pictures while working on some blocks this morning to show how you can do paper piecing without sewing through the paper, just in case everyone didn't know about this trick. It of course uses freezer paper.

You mark your pattern with pencil on the paper side and using the side of a ruler, make a nice fold on all the solid pencil lines where you are going to sew. Get your first piece, preferably in the center and iron it on the back. Standard paper piecing rules apply here...do things in order. I had already cut squares so I used those, but you just need a piece big enough to cover the area in question and your seam allowances.

Pull back the first section on the fold and cut the seam allowance using my Add a Quarter ruler. It rides right up along the folded paper and you cut the seam allowance perfectly. Get the next fabric piece that will be sewn at that spot and put right sides together, matching the fabric edges. Make sure the piece is big enough to cover the area plus any outside seam allowances.

Holding tightly so nothing slips, line up on your sewing machine and get ready to sew...and sew right NEXT to the folded back paper. Not through the paper. This is the trick! Enlarge the picture so you can get a really good look. You don't have anything to rip out later and these pieces can be used over and over! Sometimes the foot sticks to the freezer paper, so I use a piece of notebook paper cut about and inch wide over the freezer paper and it sews like a charm.

Then still keeping the freezer paper folded back, I press open the fabric and press slightly with an iron on the right side. Turn to the freezer paper side, make sure you fabric lays out flat and press the freezer paper down in place on the fabric. This keeps your pieces stuck and in the perfect spot! Now fold the paper at the second pencil line and cut your second seam allowance just like the first side with the Add a Sean Ruler. Keep adding pieces until your block is complete. Simply peel off the freezer paper carefully and no picking paper out of the seams!

Hopefully by Friday I'll have my swap mostly done and the ladies finished and can move on to something a little more exciting and photo worthy...maybe I'll find that mojo around here somewhere too!

One other tip. Again...sometimes the foot on your machine can get stuck riding along on the waxy back of freezer paper, so cut a thin strip of regular notebook paper and lay it right over the freezer paper and the foot will glide along without sticking. Judy Mathieson had a non stick foot that she used on her machine, but I just laid down my little strip of paper and it worked like a charm!!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

No sewing today...

Well almost. I did hand quilt for about 2 hours this morning. I will tonight too, trying to finish up the ladies. Today I spent a while cutting pieces for a super secret swap for a group I belong to online. Sorry not much fun for the visitors but I can't show it at all. Just know I'm working. I also spent time making pattern pieces from freezer paper for the second swap idea...just in case I don't like the first one. Bonus is I'll keep one for me and send the best one!

It's ungodly hot again today and I'm trying not to generate any more heat for the house and give the AC a rest at times. I hope everyone stays cool. The temps really are fatally high in almost half of the country.

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sewing Kit finished...

A few weeks ago I sat down one night and sewed the Wool Sewing Kit from our Primitives retreat. I wasn't fortunate enough to take the class, but the teacher, Cheri Ralston, had a limited number of kits available for sale and I snapped one up immediately after walking over to find Libby after class and seeing the wonderful kits all the ladies had made! I love this kit!

Once I had made the outside kit I was ready to do all the handwork and I've been switching off between hand quilting the ladies...Shirley, Goodness & Mercy...and sewing on the wool embellishments for this kit. Last night I finally finished the kit and I added the label this morning.

(I blurred the actual info from the label because while I know most of my quilter friends know where I live, I really don't want to give that much info to any strangers with less than nice intentions)

Here's a close up of the label. It's in the style Sue Spargo taught us for her projects using an element of the project and repeating it on the label and then adding her information. I haven't decided whether or not to trim it with a tiny ribbon or leave it as is.

I might actually make another one...a bit larger and maybe more towards a wilder less Primitive style. I know the inserts are available in all sorts of sizes and assortments from the company. For anyone interested, you have to drill down to find the Velcro inserts. I'd also like to find a way to add handles.

Today I am getting Christmas Sampler blocks ready for sewing and still working on hand quilting the ladies. I still have a top to pin and sandwich for quilting and of course I have the Tumbler blocks to sew together. I'll have to read the instructions again for making the top first before I start chopping. Don't want any mistakes now that they are all done!

Happy Sewing

Friday, August 3, 2007

Still plugging away...

I think the sewing gods are conspiring to keep me away from the machine! I came in this morning and started turning on the machine and lights when one of the lights toggle switch fell apart in my hands. I thought I could fix it, but no. This weekend is Virginia's 3 day no sales tax break for school related items so I got dressed and headed up to get another lamp. Picked up a new lamp for an easy 12.99 and a nice cool halogen bulb. Wow those make a difference in the color! I made sure to get one that would slip right into the holder for the last one too.

I had the best intentions to sew all day yesterday too. Then the phone rang at 10:15 and my sister informed me that she and mom were at the hospital. They had each thought the other called to tell me she was getting her port fixed in her arm yesterday. SO I ran through the shower and was in the room at 11:00pm. She got a wonderful nice lady doc who did a great job repairing the port and tying it down with sterile stitches 4 ways so it can't go anywhere this time...no spinning. Best yet was that she felt really good yesterday and was back to her feisty self cutting jokes with the nurses. It made me feel good that they didn't permanently break her spirit the last time.

She also finally let me shave her head yesterday. That was something I said I would do and she held out way too long actually. I talk to her every day at least once, but I hadn't seen her in about 5 days and I was shocked at her appearance. Nobody can get over seeing your mother take off her scarf and she has nothing but clumps of hair left clinging to parts of her head. That's the point I saw my mother as being sick with cancer. Luckily we all had quite a big laugh shaving her head and she actually looks 100% better with nothing on there but a tiny stubble of gray. We even put on her gray Florence Henderson looking wig and cut it to more of what she wanted. You didn't know I was a closet hair dresser huh?

So finally after taking yesterday off for other things I finally got to the machine after an early lunch today and started working on my swap blocks for two lovely ladies who are waiting patiently for me to get my rump back in gear and back to sewing.