Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pirate's "Little Shoppe of Goodies"

I've created a new page ... it's on the top, right above the date of the latest post.  It's labeled "Little Shoppe of Goodies" and that's where I am going to list items I have for sale.

Right now, there are a bunch of books listed ... quilting, embroidery, sewing, history .. both softback and hardbound.  I have *SO MANY* books, magazines and patterns that even if I live past all human expectancy, I will never, ever use these resources.  So, I'm giving YOU the opportunity to have them.

Gosh, aren't I generous?  :-)

In the future, I may list surplus fabric from my stash or even quilts that I've made ... but I haven't made my mind up about those items just yet.

Although I have looked at these books and admired them greatly, I haven't actually used any of them.  The insides of all the books are in pristine condition although the outer edges of the covers and/or pages may have minimal shelf wear.

There are a couple of books that I'd like to bring to your attention, simply because they are unusual or I know the author is highly regarded:

* Plain & Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1700-1850 by Susan Burrows Swan.   This is a historic telling of the social history of women and the evolution of stitchery.  More than 150 photographs and illustrations.  Price: $5.00

* Patchwork Puzzle Balls by Jinny Beyer.  These are delightful soft, perfectly round 'grab' balls suitable for indoor play, decorative accents, holiday ornaments, baby toys or stress balls.  Nine fast, easy patterns and 4 challenge patterns.  These balls require only basic sewing skills; no math!  If nothing else, the photography is exquisite.  Price:     $6.00

* Civil War Women: Their Quilts, Their Roles, Activities for Re-Enactors by Barbara Brackman
Price:     $17.00

* The Art of Machine Piecing by Sally Collins.  Sally is the MASTER of miniature piecing.  I've seen her quilts up close and personal.  They are AMAZING.  This book has patterns for 49 traditional blocks in 3", 4" and 6" sizes.  There are instructions for making a sampler quilt from all 49 blocks.  If you like miniatures or want to learn how to perfectly piece miniatures, then this book is for you.  Price:     $15.00

* Start Quilting with Alex Anderson: Six Projects for First-Time Quilters, 2nd Edition.  Are you just starting out?  Or do you know someone who is?  Alex Anderson is one of the BEST teachers and this book will get you started on the right foot.  Price:     $2.50

* Artful Applique: The Easy Way by Jane Townswick.  Do you like applique?  This book gives detailed, step by step instructions for 16 gorgeous 9" blocks of flowers, birds, leaves, wreaths and vines.  Instructions for appliqueing points, curves, narrow stems & vines.  Price:     $6.50

There are many other books that are extremely inexpensive.   All of them are nifty. :-)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bias Giveaway Results

I have to admit that I am amused. :-)   There were a grand total of 3, count 'em, THREE comments from readers who wanted a chance at the 1.5" bias.  Each of them had a 33.3% chance of winning.  Pretty good odds!

I used to generate a random number between 1 and 3 (inclusive) for me.  Heh ... seems kinda silly, doesn't it?  But, everyone can rest assured that a true random number *was* produced. :-)

Without further ado .... Mimi!  You are number 3!   I'll send you an email to let you know (if you don't read it here) that you won.  Would you please send *me* an email with your snailmail?  (pirate AT value DOT net) Do *not* post it in a comment!  I don't want your address to be visible all across the internet!

And then there's Quiet Quilter & Peach Rainbow .. dang ... it's so disappointing when you lose.  BUT ... I have a consolation prize for both of you, if you are interested.   I have two other bias bundles (smaller amounts); one is 1.25 inches and the other is 1 inch. 

Conceivably, the 1.25 inch bias could be used for very, very TINY bindings .. wider if you use it as a single fold binding.  The 1 inch bias could be used as single fold binding OR (as I used it) for a decorative, accent flap right next to the binding.

So, QuietQuilter and Peach Rainbow ... do let me know if you are interested in one of the other bundles by email and, if so, please include your snailmail.  :-)

As for a 'normal' blog entry .. yeah .. I gotta get back to doing that.  I have some tops that I've finished that would be good fodder for a blog.  :-)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oh! a give-away!

I like making bias to use for my double fold binding for my quilts.  A bias binding, especially double fold, is absolutely the most durable edge treatment you can put on a quilt.

I have a tutorial on how to easily make yards and yards of bias, all neatly diagonally seamed, in one continuous strip.  It's just amazing how convenient this technique is.  I sure didn't invent it but happily pass my tutorial along to the sewing community.  (and just FYI, that last seam?  where you join the two tails of your binding?  I have a SUPER easy tutorial to get it correct every doggone time!  That seam will be FLAT and indistinguishable from any other seam in the binding.  I grin to myself every time ... it's just that clever. :-)  )

However, this blog entry is not about my tutorials ... although they *are* awesome.  :-)

THIS entry is about the bias I've made.  Because it's just so danged easy to make bias (with my tutorial!), I always make my own bias, whether for binding or for piping or inserts or whatever.  Generally speaking, I end up making more bias than I need .. which is better than not having enough.  All of the leftover bias gets rolled up and put in to a cubby.  I have vague ideas of using it for Celtic knotwork, applique designs, crazy quilts, anything and everything. 

But have I actually gone back and USED any of it?  Rarely.  Those rolls of bias sure do look pretty, though. :-)

Well, one of my quilting associates mentioned that she is facing the arduous task of making bias to finish off her charity quilts.  I had a Light Bulb Moment ™!   If she wanted them, I could send her my 2-1/4" & 2" bias for her charity quilts!  She does, so I am.  I'm happy they are finally going to be used up.

However, I still have quite a collection of bias of other widths and this is where the subject of today's blog is ... a giveaway.    I sorted all my bias into whatever widths they were and this is the pile of 1-1/2" bias. 

I know realize that I am never, *never*, NEVER going to get around and use all this bias.  It's just not going to happen.  So .... I would like to give them away to someone who actually has a use for them.

This pile is mostly custom-made bias by me.  Some of it is still flat.  Some has already been folded and pressed in half lengthwise, so it's ready for being used as double-fold binding.  There's even some "vintage" store-bought bias, purchased before I knew how to make my own.

What can you use it for?  Well .. *really* narrow quilt binding for one.  Make bias tubes for Celtic knotwork or applique work.  Accents for quilt blocks.  Use your imagination.

If you would like a chance at winning this collection of 1-1/2" wide bias, leave a comment.  I'll pick a winner on Monday morning, January 24th.

Any takers? :-)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just fussin' around

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about a throw pillow I had made from felt circles.  The background for that pillow was a scrappy combination of neutral diamonds.  It turned out that the neutrals that I chose were *really* close in value and after I put them all together, you just couldn't see any difference at all!  What showed up was the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.  Attractive, but not quite what I had in mind.

So, I pulled out the next bin in my stash and cut more diamonds from gold-toned fabrics.  Still neutral but with more color.  Since I was just messing around, I didn't want to commit any *real* yardage, so I just cut as many diamonds from the appropriately colored scraps as I could.  Some colors had more diamonds than others.

I must admit I have a real problem doing "random".  My mind (as chaotic as Mr. Pirate claims that it is) doesn't DO random.  So, I fell back to an orderly, columnar arrangement, which is where I ran into problems.  Because I didn't have a LOT of a variety of colors, what I ended up with was a long, skinny rectangle ... good for a wall-hanging, but not what I wanted.

Then it occurred to me .. what DID I want?  And ya know?  I didn't know.   LOL!  :-)  More messin' around ensued and I decided that I would make throw pillows out of what I had. 

Here are the works-in-progress ... 2 mostly square pillow tops and one rectangular pillow top (just for variety).    Gosh, one of these days, I just might get *really* wild and do a circular pillow!

I still need to put "something in the middle" ... applique, embroidery .. something .. but I haven't decided yet.  I'm thinking this would be an excellent opportunity to play around with my Sizzix die cuts.

I own the original Sizzix, which has a limit to the size of the dies it will accept. 

BUT, I fortunately have a neighbor who is into scrapbooking and making greeting cards BIG TIME.  She has the Sizzix Big Shot Express, which is the *electric* version.  Wowsers, it's awesome having the die cut machine move the dies for you!  :-)  She lets me use her Big Shot Express when I need it, as well as any of her dies that I find interesting.  In return, I have purchased some dies for use with the Big Shot that I *hope* will be suitable for applique and she will certainly be able to use my dies.

And I'll wait until Joann's has a sale on pillow inserts before I get them, since I don't "need" these pillows for any particular occasion or any specific person.

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Finishes.

Here's the bare bones of the situation: I made a Gone With The Wind quilt top (only .. not quilted yet) as a present.  I had thought that the recipient would love it, as she is simply in love with the whole genre.  I used the free pattern from Quilting Treasures for the center medallion but created my own pieced border.  The pictures came from Quilting Treasures' GWTW line of fabric issued to commemorate the 70th anniversary of GWTW.  I thought it came out rather nicely.

However, the reception was quite different than what I expected.  Graciously received but not liked.  After some discussion, we determined that it just wasn't liked (one specific reason and a couple of general ones).  Curiously, I was not unhappy eventhough I had thought it would be a real hit.  The one specific reason was the picture I had put in the center ... but even with it's removal, the top was still not liked.  (I've blanked out the center image in the above photo.)

Upon ruminating, I have decided that I *will* finish the top and put it up for sale.  I hope I will be able to connect with a buyer.

During the construction, I accumulated a LOT of half-square triangles, as all of the blocks with pictures are made snowball-style.  The half-square triangles were of a sufficiently decent size that there was now way I could toss them.  :-)   I was left with ANOTHER unintended project: use up the half-square triangles.

This entailed an internet search and ended in my good friend Marcia Hohn's "Quilters' Cache" website.  I swear, if her site doesn't have a block, it doesn't exist anywhere!  I found "Carpenter's Wheel" and was able to make THREE blocks from the surplus half-square triangles.  A quick trip to Joann's and I obtained some more of the necessary fabric for a fourth block ... luckily, both fabrics are a standard on the calico wall.

I used Electric Quilt to come up with a design to use the four Carpenter's Wheel blocks.  Eventhough the blocks are 24", that isn't enough to result in a quilt the size I wanted.  So, in went some sashings and some sawtooth borders.  This created a square top.  I don't care too much for square quilts so back to Electric Quilt for some top and bottom borders.  I discovered that Electric Quilt has applique designs!  Who knew??  :-)  I used their design as-is.  The top finished out at 61" x 90".  A little on the odd size but better too long than too short. :-)

All the applique was needle-turn.  Since I found a technique for needle-turn applique that I like (from Pacific Rim Quilt Company's two fabric quilt line of patterns), I no longer avoid applique. I am a happy camper when it comes to applique.  [You can see the first project I made from their pattern here.  The technique is AWESOME.] 

Eventually, the applique was finished and I pinned the first border to the center medallion of Carpenter's Wheel blocks.  Then I hung it up on my design wall to admire. 

And it looked weird ... but in a good way.  It was different from my EQ graphic  ... how? 

Oh silly me .. I had inadvertently pinned the border *upside down*!  The EQ version has the cluster of green diamonds next to the sawtooth border.  My pinned border has that cluster at the very top & bottom of the quilt.  I never realized that the EQ version bothered me in a subliminal way until I saw the actual quilt with the upside down border.

The problem with EQ version?  When the cluster of green diamonds is next to the sawtooth border, there is a lot of empty space between the sawtooth blocks and the swirly applique.  This simply did not register with me.

But look at the physical quilt above (yes, the quilt is too long for my design wall, so the bottom border is dragging on the floor).  You can see that the empty space is now at the outer edges of the borders, which is more visually pleasing ... at least to me.  Since it's my quilt, that is what matters. :-)

This Carpenter's Wheel top will now join its sibling tops in the pile of Quilts to be Quilted.  ::sigh::  There are quite a few of them.

I really gotta get back to Lizzie to restart quilting.  :-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Felt circle overload

To refresh your memory, I made a Christmas tree felt pillow, copying one I saw in an upscale home dec & dust collector store.   The Christmas tree is made from circles of felt.

Because I was a doofus and didn't really realize that I did not HAVE to cut ALL the circles on the Sizzix die (I could cut a piece of felt & position it on the *one* size of circle that I wanted ... knowledge comes late in life, ya know?), I had a whole MESSLOAD of different sized green felt circles.  What could I possibly DO with them?  I didn't want to make another Christmas tree.  BTDT.

Well, I thought a stylized topiary would be kinda cute.  And why not put it on a fabric background, rather than a felt pillow cover?
 And then mid-stream, I switched gears.  I haven't a clue why, but I did.  Instead of topiary, which would USE UP my already cut green circles, why not make flower posies of different colored felt?  It just didn't matter that I didn't HAVE any color of felt besides the leftover green ... that's what Joann's is for!

 A trip to Joann's provided an entire rainbow supply of felt squares.  I spent the better part of one evening using Sizzix to cut out the circles I needed (just the one size, this time!).

As for the fabric pillow cover, instead of using just a single piece of fabric, let's create a pieced background!  Oh why not ... we can simply forget that there is a huge pile of tops waiting to be quilted.  :-)   So, I made some strip sets of a bunch of neutrals and cut a whole bunch of 60° diamond strips.  Sewing those together gave me my background fabric.  I sandwiched that and stitched in the ditch along all seam lines to quilt everything down,   I didn't want a pattern, which might distract you from the flowers.

I drew circles on the pieced background ... these would be the shapes I would fill with my felt circles in the same way I created the Christmas tree.  I free-form cut out some stems and machine stitched them down with one of my buttonhole stitches.  I used my Leaves Galore ruler (since I have one) to cut out the leaves and they were stitched down also.

All the circles were filled with the felt circles, creating a 3D flower "posey".  The circles were attached with a bar tack.

As I was finishing the posies, it occurred to me that a colorful piping to match the flower colors would be nifty. I love putting piping in seams; it's  a terrific detail that doesn't take much time to do.  You get a lot of bang for your buck. And as long as we were being colorful, why not edge the pillow in different colored Prairie Points?  I like making Prairie Points.  :-)

Normally, I like to put an inconspicuous zipper on the back of the pillow cover, at the bottom, so the cover can be removed for laundering.  However, the seam allowance where the zipper would be sewn to was hugely bulky:  the pieced background fabric (3 layers), the piping (2 layers), all the Prairie Points (4 layers each Point and the Points overlap).  I didn't think I would be able to get a nicely applied zipper to that seam.

So, I simply sliced the backing fabric in two, about 3" from the bottom, just so I would have a seam to put the zipper in there.  That worked out just dandy.

All the bulk in the seams was graded (cut to different levels so the bulk would taper off gradually instead of being a "cliff"), a slit was cut into the corners to the corner seam allowances could be lapped to make a better pillow corner.

Also, please note ... my square pillow is *square*.  Why is this significant?  Well, most of the pillows I have seen (both retail and home-made) have dog-ear pillows ...  (see picture at left).  See how the edges of the pillow curve from corner to corner?  That's not a good pillow.  This happens because the pillow pattern is *square*.  You need to alter the corners of the pattern to create an optical illusion of square corners.

 It's an easy enough problem to fix though ... on your pillow pattern you simply remove part of each corner and curve the cutting line to the new corner.  On the pattern, the new corner definitely curves *inward* and looks wrong.  BUT, once you've inserted your pillow form (or stuffing the cover), those corners will be nice and square!

 I'm rather pleased with the final result.  :-)  And I still want to make the topiary pillow from all those GREEN circles!  :-)

Edited on 2/1/11 to add Rachel Hauser's "Blogger's Pillow Party" contest link -
Blogger's Pillow Party

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Quilting Endeavors of 2010

What exactly was accomplished, quiltwise, during 2010?  (Oh, and a small disclaimer, the software that I used to create these montage pictures apparently has cropped some of the longer pictures so that all of the pictures could fit into a nice little pigeon hole.  None of the quilts shown are really cut off, as depicted by the thumbnail!)

 Well, I finished and delivered 15 charity quilts. You can read about them on my Charity Quilts page.

I finished 5 more charity tops, but they still need to be quilted.

The bottom 2 are oriented as they are supposed to be .. the stripes really do go horizontal on one and vertical on another!

No pages to read about them because they haven't been finished yet.

On the personal quilting front, i.e. quilts that I kept for myself or given away as gifts, I completed 18.  They are all different sized, ranging from placemats to throw-sized to queen-sized.  I am very pleased to see that my longarm quilting really HAS gotten much better than from when I first started.  :-)  You only see 11 pictures here because the 2nd picture in the 3rd row is actually 8 quilts folded up (they are thick, quilted cage liners for my vet's office).

You can read about these quilts on my Quilting Page, just scroll on down, down, down to the 2010 section. 

Oh wait .. that's not exactly correct ... I haven't updated that index page to reflect all of the quilts shown here.  I have thumbnails of the quilts but not all the finished quilts have a page written for them yet!

For me, finishing the quilt is only PART of the process ... I still like to take pictures and document the process so that I can write a web page for each quilt.  Goodness .. that's a whole other project in and of itself!

And finally, there are the quilt tops that I finished piecing but haven't gotten around to quilting.  There are 7 of them. 

And in fact, although the picture is cropped,  the last one truly is a "work-in-progress" and the top border is still being appliqued and the matching bottom border hasn't even been started yet! 

That makes 33 completed quilts (charity & personals) and 12 completed tops waiting to be quilted.

And finally, I quilted 4 quilts for commission!  woo hoo! 

But wait .. you see only 3 quilts here!  What's with that?  Well, I did two of the ladybug quilts, each with different quilting motifs.  It was very interesting to see the difference that quilting makes.  One of the ladybug quilts had highly customized designs and the other ladybug quilt was an edge-to-edge.

You can't see any of the quilting in these small thumbnails but they are quilted!  :-)  And no, pages for these quilts haven't been done either.  I *told* you that making pages is a completely separate project!  :-)