Saturday, January 26, 2013

What's Next?

Obviously, with two projects recently finished, I am now allowed to start two new ones! My next embroidery project will be Breath of Spring, the linen tote bag with an embroidered pocket from Inspirations 56:

This kit has been ready to go with the threads all sorted as long as Cottage Garden was. I was a little put off when I found that the kit came with a pre-printed panel:

I hate it when the lines show around the stitching. But, now that I am starting it, I am also glad that I don't have to transfer that complex pattern! There are 17 different elements to stitch in this pattern, so, many blog posts to come!

My next Bonheur des Dames counted thread project will be the monthly sampler for August, Aout:

If anyone knows how to insert the special character for the "u", please send me an email or let me know in the comments. I can never figure it out!

I have already started both projects. As I was putting the first stitches into the Aout sampler, I realized why I love counted thread work so much. It's because you start with a completely blank canvas, with no prior markings on it. So it's like creating something out of nothing, and it actually feels more creative to me than an embroidery pattern, even though with counted thread projects you are usually more of a slave to the design. There's something magical about watching your first stitches grow.

So, lots to do! Plus, I need a break from Celtic Spring, which is at the stage now where it is nothing but the gold braid for the forseeable future. I can only do so much of that at a time!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cottage Garden - Stitching Finished

And here's my second big finish!

I put in the last few leaves yesterday. The shadows on the photo are from the sun shining through the tree branches outside, which is not ideal, but this is the best photo I could manage.

I ended up straying from the pattern significantly by the end. I started changing the pattern from necessity, because somehow my stitching had slanted up to the right. So I added the second row of white cyclamen under the rose tree. Then, as I mentioned previously, I separated the rose bush from the purple hollyhocks because I didn't like the way they seemed to grow through each other.

After that I pretty much stopped looking at the pattern! I took out the orange daisies that I had stitched earlier, and put in some local flowers, Black Eyed Susans and marigolds:

The marigolds were made with three strands of floss, two orange and one yellow, and Chinese knots. The stems were fly stitches.

I became somewhat obsessed with creating some variation in the leaves. In the pattern almost everything is detached chain stitches in the dark green you see above. But I know that real gardeners look for different textures in the leaves as well as the flowers, so I tried to do the same. I debated a great deal about the rose bush leaves, which I wanted to be dark and to relate to the heavy bullions. Finally I added a strand of dark red to two strands of the dark green, and stitched detached chains in sprays of five stitches:

The blended thread answered so well that I also used it in the "leaves" of the alyssum along the bottom:

The pattern called for the alyssum to be scattered all along the bottom, but I had to organize it into clumps instead. I learned a lot about myself stitching this!

To further organize the foreground and background, I added some cool blue alyssum in a single strand of floss behind the sunflowers:

And in a similar effort I created some lupins to fill in the space on the far right margin:

So that's it! This will be made into a needlecase. The kit came with a really nice pink gingham for the lining. I am going to redesign it with some pockets inside to hold packages as well as loose needles. Hopefully not too long from now!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Juin - Stitching Finished!

I finished the stitching a week ago, but I finally got it washed and pressed today. This has been a long time in the making! I started it in 2005 or thereabouts, but had to put it away because the stitching was too fine for me at the time. I took it out again in 2011, and have slowly been working on it ever since.

The big breakthrough was taking it out of the frame. This is 32-count linen, and I found it much easier to count, and to come up in the right place, once it was in hand.

What I would really like to do for the finishing is to hem stitch it and hang it on some kind of oversized bell pull hardware. The stitched area is about 10" wide. Even after washing, though, the linen is very stiff, so I may have to think about that some more.

There are 12 monthly samplers all together. The long term plan is just to hang the current month, so I'd rather not have bulky frames to store. If anyone has any suggestions for alternate finishing ideas, I'd love to hear them!

One down, eleven to go!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Texas Star Ticker

I have been wondering how best to update my progress on Texas Star. I've decided to experiment with keeping the updates in the right sidebar. I'm calling it the Texas Star Ticker. My plan is to post the latest photo and count there, without the need for a full post every time.

If I don't like it, I may try something else instead, but for now, that's the plan!

If it goes well, I may do the same thing with the Hourglasses.

My sewing machine went out for repair today, so unfortunately I probably won't manage to finish any quilts in time for my next guild meeting. But there is plenty of hand stitching to do in the meantime. Happy stitching everyone!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

When in Doubt...

...start a new project!

I know, I know, where are all those finishes I've been promising? Well, I've been working on something different every day, mostly to avoid the quilting on my nine patch quilt. Jillian suggested a while ago that I was  Wonder Woman for my endurance on another project. I wish I was, because I could sure use Wonder Woman's help when I'm stuffing these quilts through my little sewing machine! I am less than halfway done with the nine patch, and I am already reconsidering my quilting plans for all my future projects, lol. Maybe the next step will be to rent some time on a longarm.

These fabrics above are from the new Victorian Modern collection from Andover. I bought them from a new place for me,, and I was very happy with them - fast service and great prices.

The colours in my photo, and also in the shop photos, are not true. When you see them in real life they have a brownish undertone, rather than the grey undertone I expected from a collection using the word "modern." In any case they are still really nice, but I am glad I waited to buy the co-ordinating blenders until I had the fabrics.

That's what I did today! I saw on Debra's blog that The Quilt Store in Newmarket had all their fabrics half price (today was the last day, unfortunately), so I tootled up there with my fabrics in hand and bought these:

And this is the background fabric:

What's it all for? Stars for a New Day!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Few More Texas Stars

I am so excited, because I have two old, old stitching UFOs that are really close to completion. Maybe one more day each. Neither of them was on my to do list for this winter, but, well, you know. I was organizing my stitching box, and I saw how close they both were, so I got distracted. I can't show you those yet, but in the meantime, here's some more Texas Stars:

I have been avoiding picking a favourite fabric in this quilt, because there are so many nice ones, but I think this one above would be it. It reminds me of Hawaii, with the sun and scudding white clouds. This is a very old fabric, I don't remember buying it at all.

These next two I did just buy specifically for this quilt. They are from the Home Front collection from Connecting Threads:

I found a lot of fabric with apples in my stash. Here is another very similar one that I have in a few different colours:

Progress on the quilt suffered quite a bit during my wrist troubles. English paper piecing seems to be particularly hard on my hands and wrists. But, I have found that if I stick to just one star per day I am ok.

My wrist problem, by the way, turned out to actually be a pinched nerve in my shoulder. I have changed the way I stitch so that I sit back and bring the stitching close to my body, keeping my elbows by my sides. So far, this is working really well. Computer work, especially typing, is the only thing that really still bothers me. So I'm sorry if I ever seem terse in the comments!

Hopefully I'll have some finishes to show soon. Happy stitching!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Paper Piecing Sedona Star Month 2, Part 2

A TQS member has asked me for more detail on my paper piecing method for Sedona Star, Month 2. Maybe it is lucky that I still haven't finished all those blocks! I went back and enhanced the original photo of the template with my newer photo software. Hopefully it is now clearer. You can find that on the original post here.

I also took a photo of some partially completed blocks which I think will help too:

Click the photo to see it larger in the photo viewer.

Here is a little more information on the stitching order:

  1. The two halves are pieced separately as far as you see here, then joined before the final pieces are added. You can see one half in the photo on the right. Those sections are pieced starting with the light orange point in the middle, and working out, ending with the yellow point. The long blue piece beside the yellow point is the one I make a template for, because it is sewn first to the light orange fabric, and then flipped up so that the yellow piece can then be sewn to it.
  2. When the two sides are done this far, they are sewn together. On the left you can see the block back with the seam right up the middle. On these blocks the excess fabric along the sides has already been trimmed away.
  3. The next step will be to applique the pie piece at the bottom. On my block this is the white fabric.
  4. Finally, I add the border pieces, which in my block are light green. 
Here again is my test block, all finished. 

I am still not completely decided on how to do the applique. I need to spend one more day experimenting, and then I will be ready to finalize it all. On the test block here I used Beth Ferrier's turned edge machine applique method. I will not be doing the final quilt that way, though. It will be fused instead, with the edges finished either by machine satin stitch or by hand. 

I hope that sheds more light on things! Please leave any additional questions in the comments. Happy sewing!

Related Posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How I Baste a Quilt

In my machine quilting class about 15 years ago we were taught how to baste a quilt using safety pins, with the three layers of the quilt clamped to a table top. This past year, when I was finally ready to baste a large quilt, that method no longer worked for me. There were two reasons:
  1. No appropriate table. Our dining room table has deep, slightly curved sides, and is made from a soft wood. It inevitably would have been damaged by clamps and/or pins, and it's not square anyway.
  2. Bad back. Although I am fairly strong, a couple of back injuries over the years make standing bent over a table, or crawling around on the floor, out of the question.
Fortunately, I came across Sharon Schamber's quilt basting technique. I have used this method twice now, with slight variations, once with safety pins and once with hand basting. It holds the three layers beautifully, almost like a frame, AND, you can baste your quilt sitting down comfortably.

First, here are Sharon's two videos, and after I'll show photos of my quilt and discuss some details.

I love buying quilting supplies at Home Depot! For the boards in Sharon's method I bought pre-finished fibreboard trim in the 2.5" x 0.5" x 8 ft size. Click the photo to see the label larger:

At the store they cut the pieces for me down to 74" long, which is about right for most of my quilts so far. It is perfectly straight and square, better for this purpose than solid wood would be. It seems a little flexible, but it lies perfectly flat on the table.

I did buy the tatting thread Sharon mentions somewhere to use for basting:

I used up the whole ball, on my 54" x 66" quilt, and was left with 9 blocks still unbasted. So I was also able to try stranded embroidery floss on the last corner. The tatting thread had a tendency to snarl, until I figured out that it has a right direction and a wrong direction, like wool thread. Once you know that, it is easy to run the thread through your fingers and tell which way is right. For the stranded embroidery floss I used two strands in the needle. I tested one strand, but it did not seem as robust. Either thread works. The tatting thread is a little quicker, because you do not need to separate the threads. But embroidery floss is available everywhere, so you do not need to special order it. I bought the tatting thread from Nordic Needle.

With Sharon's tiny demo quilt she is able to lay out the back and the top together before she rolls them onto the boards. Edward's quilt has a flannel backing, so that proved to be completely impossible for me. Fortunately, I found that it is easier to roll each layer separately. Just make sure the back is right side down, and the top is right side up, before you roll them. And double check your measurements!

Here's my quilt halfway through the basting process:

In the centre are the two rows I am in the process of basting. The lower edge (with the plaid backing showing) is the part that is already basted and folded out of the way. At the top you can see the quilt top rolled onto its board, and the quilt batting behind/under that. At the top right corner you can see a lump under the batting which is the quilt back rolled onto its own board. The batting is not rolled, it stays flat.

When I am finished a section and ready to advance the quilt, I roll up the finished part, slide the whole thing towards me, and then flip the batting forward to reveal the backing:

Then I can unroll the backing, flip the batting back and smooth it all out, and finally unroll another two rows of the quilt top for basting. It seems a little logistically challenging at first, but once you get the idea it works beautifully, and the quilt is almost as taut as on a frame, just from the weight of the boards. And you can sit down!

The table top, by the way, is protected by a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth. I slide a sheet of bristol board between the quilt and the vinyl where I am working to make sure the pins or needle don't pierce the vinyl.

It was not my plan to hand baste this quilt. I had braved the snowy roads in search of safety pins, because all mine were still in Edward's quilt. All I could find, though, were cheap, nickel-plated pins, and they were useless, catching the fabric and impossible to get through the layers. My brass quilter's pins, on the other hand, glide through the fabric like a dream: 


Hand basting easily took twice as long as pin basting did. But I am hoping that I can leave it in while I machine quilt between the basting:

Hopefully that will save time later! In any case I suppose it was good practice for when I am ready to hand quilt. Feel free to put any questions or additional information on your basting techniques in the comments!

New Year's Fortune

So, we went out for Chinese food on New Year's Eve. How's this for a promising fortune? I think it bodes well for that long list I posted yesterday!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...