Sunday, February 7, 2016

GO! Hearts

I've taken on a February quilt challenge that said to make a small quilt with hearts for the month. I have to admit, my taste for hearts is relatively limited. Pink is out of the question. But since I take it as a given that French General is always a good thing, I decided I'd give it a try. And look, little hearts in pretty fabrics!

I might be going the long way around on this one, too. I could have just fused them. But I really want to work at least a little (a very little?) on my appliqué skills. I counted on  hearts being easy enough even I could handle them.

My circle venture used that wash-away appliqué fiber I needed to pull out.  This time I'm trying  C&T's paper. So far I think it has a nice texture to it, firm but relatively thin.  It even has the advantage of being lightly fusible. I'm liking that. I won't know what I fully think till I'm further along the project, but so far, it's a win.

I ran some of the paper through the GO! using the 2" hearts die.

And then I fused the hearts to fabric and did some turn under with a glue stick.  I was sitting upstairs tackling this project in the evening and at one point my husband looked over at me and said, "I don't know what you're doing over there but it looks like a real pain in the neck."

It's not like I disagreed with him. But, nevertheless, I soldiered on. So, first there was this little guy:

Adorable. It's enough to make me rethink my general antipathy to hearts.  And it really wasn't all that long before I had my collection of twelve.

Now I've got them tentatively laid out. I plan to sew them down using red thread with a button hole stitch. Odds I can get this done to have up for Valentine's?

And while that's going, I also decided to hop on Barbara Brackman's Western Women sampler for the year. Here's block one:

Yes, French General always looks good, but those Civil War reproductions? They speak right to my heart. Will I bring in more colors with the next blocks or make a quilt of blue and brown? I don't know yet, but I sure do love those soft tones.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Snow Day!

The other day I posted that pretty dusting of morning snow:

Today that same part of the yard looks like this:

And then there's our deck:

So, no teaching today! (Still grading though . . . of course).

I am just about done with cleanup in my sewing room from that broken light bulb. I have to admit, every once in a while I just run full head on into my own neurotic self. Broken glass! Broken glass everywhere! Mercury! Ack! Ack! Ack!

So, I'm not quite ready to sew in my sewing room yet. Perhaps later today. I can hope because -- hey! it's a snow day! If I can't play a little hooky in the sewing room on a snow day, when can I?

Meanwhile, I've pulled out an old (so old) hand quilt project.  I was just pondering how old -- this goes back to when I was first learning to piece, so I'm guessing I may have started this 20 years ago, maybe a year or two longer than that. I have cheating in mind. If I just finish hand-quilting the sashing, then I'll give myself permission to machine quilt the borders. Because, honestly, I am never going to hand quilt those borders in order to finish this thing.

I still like it though. The bear paw remains one of my favorite blocks. I think I see another bear paw mini in my near future. Meanwhile, here I am trying to remember how to hand quilt!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Best Laid Plans

I had a plan. A mini Chinese Coins quilt.  I pulled out the reproduction scrap bin --

And then I sorted wee scraps onto the GO! 2" die strip.

And after I ran those thru, I sorted them on the 1" die strip and ran that thru.

And I do not have a picture of all the pretty 1" by 2" scraps because that's when I broke a CFL lightbulb in the sewing room.

So after bits of glass flew everywhere, all my cloth bits came to naught. I still have more clean up to do in the sewing room before I can get back in there and sew.  I'm aiming for philosophic but, really, I hate toxic chemicals and I was so looking forward to some little quilt fun.  Bah humbug.

I woke up to a pretty morning though. A quiet dusting of snow.

The more serious snow isn't supposed to hit till later today and tomorrow.  My own true love, who was more successfully philosophic about the weather forecast than I was about my sewing room, said, "Well, at least I'll have a chance to try out the new snow shovel."  (That's the spirit, love).

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Not Quite

What I Had in Mind

I had seen some clock faces that used vintage French images that I thought might make some cool coasters. So I mined websites like The Graphics Fairy and Knick of Time for vintage images and played in Photoshop Elements -- "played" is a euphemism for how much I don't know how to do in that program and how much frustration I feel when I try.  After much (MUCH) trial and error (mostly error), perseverance won the day and I came up with clock faces I liked. A bunch of fabric went through the GO! as I cut out oodles of 5 inch circles (and 4 inch batting circles).

 I used Tap Paper to iron the clock faces onto linen.  So far, so good.

I used the coaster technique I've seen multiple places on the web and wrote about on this blog years ago here. (I left out the Insul Brite since I think the layers of folded fabric and the batting was thick enough for me). Then I sewed up my first coaster -- hmmmm.

Oh, dear. I didn't like it. It wasn't awful, but the edges are too wobbly for me. I tried another one and, predictably, it came out even worse. Perhaps using the linen was a mistake. Or perhaps it was that I interfaced the back of the linen.  Did that make it too stiff to get a smooth round edge on? I'm not sure.   In any case, I didn't like the result. Though I still liked the clock faces . . .

I was bummed.  I hoped to rescue something out of it though.

I pulled out my grandmother's old pinking sheers. They are built like a tank, weigh about as much as one, and have clearly been so well used and loved (not by me) that the blades are dull as can be. Using them should count as a test of endurance, or at the very least a trip to the gym.

Anyway, I made up four coasters using the method I began with -- which I like because it gives me double-sided coasters.  Then I fused the clock faces to the tops.  Not what I had in mind, but okay, I think.

From the front:

From the back: 

Four from the front, outside light:

Four from the front, inside light (hoping for a better picture):

And four from the back, looking pretty and delicate:

And just because, a pretty little candle tea cup:

So, not exactly my starting vision, but good enough, I think.  A touch of shabby chic.  (Well, I'm hoping, anyway).

Sunday, January 24, 2016

GO! Get it Done

Which, hey, I did.  One pretty circles table runner coming up!

While my first week of classes was a little more chaotic than usual (technology down, books not in bookstore, a side trip to the dentist which had nothing to do with school but meant I felt even more sorry for myself), the sewing room was a retreat. It's one of the things I love about quilting. Sometimes I feel like I get to be a little kid again just when I need it: "Being an adult is hard. (Sniff). I'm going to go play with colors. (Sniff. Sniff)."  And then I start to feel better. It isn't a cure all but I sure have been grateful over the years for having that sewing retreat.

Here's a photo of the whole table runner at home in the house. Odd angles. Too dark. What you can't see?  Me squeezed into a tight corner I would have fit into much easier twenty years ago.

Which is why I also took a photo out on our deck. Much better light.

Another closer look just because, and to pause a moment to give thanks for those fabric designers who never let you down. All those Kaffe Fassett fabrics? Love 'em.

And because, apparently, I'm still going in circles, I've got a project for this week to work on that uses circles again. It's one of those projects that side-tracked me onto the internet, but that's okay. I've still  got a start: stacks of circles. More to come.

Monday, January 18, 2016

GO! Progress

Or: Just Tumbling Along

Making progress on the table runner. The top is sewn together, layered, basted . . . 

though I still need to close up all those pins.  I'm thinking just some simple straight line quilting on this one. 

So lo-o-o-ong! Off into the shadows we go.

Putting all those squares together was a good reason to pull out my Leaders and Enders project. I have a bad habit of working on it for a while and then stuffing it in the closet and forgetting about it. Oops! But, hey, working on it while I put together all those circle blocks meant I made some good progress.  

Once I started putting some of the tumblers up on the design board, I could see the quilt top was going to be way too dark and boring. I needed to cut more tumblers out anyway, so I'm hoping adding some brighteners will give it a little spark.

Meanwhile, I've got another GO! project in the wings. This is one I just need to get up my get up and go to start!  I think this is the first time in all my years of quilting that I bought fat quarters for an entire line.  (Greetings, Black Friday sale!) Mon Ami -- isn't it fun?

And now, it's back to prepping -- classes start tomorrow. The (break) party's over.

Monday, January 11, 2016

GO! The Long Way Around

Sometimes, it's all about the scenic route.  Not necessarily intentionally, mind you.

This last week I was sick (AGAIN!) and didn't feel up to the weight of denim circles. Time for distraction. Have you seen all the lovely circle blocks being made lately? That started here. Very, very tempting.

Except -- I don't DO hand appliqué. Besides, I know that I am never going to be disciplined enough to make one block a day every day. As soon as my quilting begins to feel like duty instead of playtime, my inner child crosses her arms over her chest and says, "Uh-uh."

But all the pretty circles!

Also. I could use a new table runner on the sofa table . . .

So, time to bring out the GO! circles. And Kaffe Fassett -- prints and shot cottons. I started by running freezer paper and some fiber washaway appliqué foundation thru the GO!

I used the freezer paper to get the size of the finished circle (3").

Pulled off the freezer paper and used the washaway fiber to make the circle. That even gave me a chance to use my appliquilt tools.

Then I used the freezer paper circle again (marked into quarters) to center the circle on the background patch. I used a little glue to baste the circle in place.

I sewed the patches down by machine using a wee buttonhole stitch. All was going swimmingly until I decided to run some of the sewn patches under water in order to dissolve the fiber.

This is where the uh-oh! hit. I could feel that the fiber was bunching up inside there. I opened up the back and sure enough -- UGH!

Fortunately, I was able to peel the fiber away completely.  So I went through and cut away the backs of the blocks I had done and pulled out the fiber.

I had run out of the fiber that I already had and so made a run to the quilt store and picked up some of C&Ts washaway fiber. I was curious to see how it would work out. Then, once I got home, I said Duh!  If all I was going to do was pull out the fiber, why put it in there to begin with? Well. I had just seen a video on using aluminum foil to make circles and thought, Why not? (You can find the video here).

I ran a bit of file folder thru the GO! to get the circle template.  I put starch around the edges of the fabric to get a really firm crease.

Worked like a charm.  And now I have oodles of circles!

Next will be cutting the backgrounds down to size and laying out the blocks.  That should keep me out of trouble this week -- the last week of break before classes start up again.

And I have to say:

The soundtrack in the sewing room this morning was all David Bowie.  Like many around the world, I was so sad to wake to the news that he had died. I remember how Hunky Dory helped get me through my final year of high school. I'd sit crosslegged on the dining room floor, parked in front of my parents' record player, and play that album over and over and over. Or at least one of the several copies of the album I bought over the year.  (Remember that? When albums were vinyl and the needles destroyed the sound till there was more static crunch than music? Then you'd get a new copy which for a few precious listens sounded so clean and pure . . . .)

A great artist, endlessly innovative and brave. Starman. Goblin King. He will be missed.