Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Quilted Placemats

Mr. Pirate  & I were recently at my brother and sister-in-law's  house.  Mr. Pirate noticed that the placemats on the table were looking a bit peaked.

She's always a difficult person to get gifts for since she (like myself) doesn't really NEED anything and if she wants some little thing, she's capable of getting it for herself.

But as I sat at the table looking at the placemats, I had a brainstorm ... NEW PLACEMATS!

When Mr. Pirate & I returned home, I immediately set to making a set of 4 placemats for her.  I had carefully looked at her color scheme (blue) and pulled 12 blue fat quarters to make the placemats from an Angie Padilla pattern.

When she opened the box with the placemats, she remembered the amusing incident that occured regarding the placemats and was further *amazed* when she realized that I had made them in the week between we returned home and Christmas.  (I didn't enlighten her that placemats are darn-near an Instant Gratification item and take no time at all to make. :-)  ).

She really, really liked them.  :-)

That picture is just a teaser! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Diane's placemats quilt.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Woven Ribbon Trees

Here's another top from the Pile of Tops that I recently quilted.  The top was pieced in 2010, then sat around, waiting patiently to be quilted.  It had to wait 2 years.  :-)

 It feels wonderful to have another top made into a quilt.

The blue and yellow triangle blocks are from the messload of blocks that I created whilst using a specialty ruler that (for once) is Very Useful. :-)   They are the same blocks that I used in another quilt, Equilateral Triangles, quilted in June 2010.

I used Carla Barrett's "Flying Geese Quilting Design" in the triangles, diagonal cross-hatching in the pale green fabric strips and another of Carla Barrett's designs, "Curly Swirly' for the dark green strips.

This picture is just a teaser! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Woven Ribbon Trees .

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sedona's "String of Pots"

I am exceedingly happy to be able to show you guys my recently finished project, "String of Pots".  This was a pattern and fabrics I bought in Sedona last year, when Mr. Pirate & I did a road trip there.

I don't normally do a lot of wall-hangings these days, as I have plumb run out of wall space (and I don't want to rotate my stock because *I like what I have hanging there!*)  but this pattern was very attractive and I thought I'd actually have a fighting chance of getting it finished "soon-ish".

I was partially correct. :-)

I pieced the top shortly after returning home but there it sat, waiting patiently.  It wasn't until now, over a year later, that I finally quilted it.

Also unusual for me, I did a very dense background fill.  This was a calculated move so that the appliqued pots would have a tendency to "puff" out.  I could have done a faux trapunto effect for more puffiness, but I didn't.

The pots were done with needleturn applique and have hand-embroidered hanging strings and accents.

I'm rather pleased with the final effect.

Those pictures are just teasers! For all the gory details, links and lots more pictures, please visit my web page for the String of Pots quilt.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Christmas throw pillow

My last Christmas project for your consideration is a throw pillow.  I saw this pillow in a Crate-n-Barrel catalogue and shortly thereafter, I was able to see the actual pillow in the store.  The entire pillow was made from felt.  Whether it was wool felt or polyester, I don't know.  I made my version from polyester as wool felt is horrendously expensive.

The idea is pretty simple and very effective.  The tree is made up of circles.  Each circle is tacked in the center to the base fabric.  I'm not sure how packed or loose the Crate-n-Barrel pillow was made but I packed my circles pretty doggone tightly.

I don't know why I didn't put a piping around the edge, as I normally do with pillows.  Not only does it strengthen the seam but it makes the edge more defined.  ::shrug::

To make things REALLY easy, one of my crafting friends let me borrow her Sizzix Big Shot die cutter.  OH MY GOODNESS ... did that make the circle creation So Much Easier!!   You cut a strip of the felt, send it through the die cut machine and out the other side comes all these perfectly cut circles.  SO EASY!  :-)

For all the gory detail and another picture, please visit my web page for the Christmas throw pillow.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

a Practical Christmas tree

In 2004, our oldest daughter was in college.  She was lamenting the fact that she didn't have a Christmas tree in her apartment.   She hadn't purchased one and really didn't want to spend the money on one ... but she still missed having one.

So, we put our heads together and collaborated to find a solution.  We created a wonderful wall-hanging.  She drew the graphic (because I can barely draw a straight line with a ruler) and I did the sewing and quilting.

I even put buttonholes in the tree, so she could insert those teeny-tiny, miniscule Christmas tree lights from the back so that her tree could also have lights. :-)

This picture is the only one I have before she whisked it off, back to college.  I'll have to bug her about getting another picture for display. 

Although, I must admit that even though I didn't plan it (and the thought wouldn't have entered my head anyway), the sunlight coming in through the side window really makes it look wonderful. :-)

That picture is just a teaser! For all the gory details and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Practical Christmas tree quilt.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Looking for .... a quilt pattern.

*Somewhere* in my blog reader is a blog where, once upon a time, the quilter posted a  picture of an urban, modern, pieced (not appliqued) quilt.   It might have even been labeled as a "masculine" quilt.  It's definitely NOT traditional.  The background was a medium/dark gray and the stripes were white and orange.  Maybe a red one too.

I thought FOR SURE I had tagged the blog entry as a keeper.  I can't find it.

I thought FOR SURE I had kept a copy of the picture.  I can't find it.

I thought FOR SURE that if I just browsed through my blog subscriptions, I'd certainly find the blogger because the style is so unique.  I can't find it.

I thought FOR SURE that it would show up Pinterest.  I can't find it.

I thought FOR SURE that a Google/image search would find it.  Nope.

I am obviously NOT looking with the correct search terms.  ::sounds of aggravation::

But ... I *KNOW* the internet knows.  The best I can describe it is a bunch of wide, broad stripes that take a right angle but the right angle is not squared off .. it's *ROUNDED*.  Think of a schematic of pipes.  My (badly) drawn image at left is a *representative* of the general look-and-feel of the quilt I am looking for.

The quilter has written a book on these types of quilts.  Do you think I can remember the name of the book?  Of course not.  I'm fairly certain that it was done this year (2012) but the way my poor one brain cell is (not) working these days, I'd hate to say that was a firm date.

Sooooooo .... does anyone Out There recognize this general quilt design?    I'd deeply appreciate your suggestions, responses, guesses as a comment ... so everyone else can see what has already been suggested.

Thanks for your help.

Gone with the Wind ... finished!

oh, at long, long last, this top has been quilted, bound, laundered .... stick a fork in it cuz it's *DONE*!!  woooo hooo!  :-)

I pieced the top way in 2010 when the specially printed fabric came out.  (Subsequent fabric searches reveal that most of the fabric used for this pattern have been discontinued.  You may find bits and pieces being sold by private parties, but Quilting Treasures isn't printing it any longer).

I didn't particularly care for their pattern layout, so I changed it to suit my own tastes.  After the piecing was done, there it lay ... ageing ... sitting contently ... until I just couldn't stand having *all those tops* unquilted  (ummm .. 17 at last count).

I began to plot the quilting.  It wasn't as easy as other quilts.  There are some very awkward areas to deal with and I'm just not terribly clever when it comes to quilting designs.  I tend to think "inside the box" and have a difficult time stepping outside the lines.

I even remembered to use my embroidery machine to make a secondary label.  :-)

But, eventually, it all came together and now, it's done!  I feel such a sense of accomplishment!

Those pictures are just teasers! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Gone with the Wind quilt.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Whimsey stick ribbon flowers

I don't watch Martha Pullen's show as much as I used to.  In fact, I hardly watch it at all these days, as I'm not sewing terminally cute little girl clothing nor am I doing much heirloom embroidery. 

However, I was surfing through the TV shows being aired recently and came across "Martha's Sewing Room" again.  I was finishing up a quilt and decided it would be a good background filler.

I was quickly sucked in when one of the segments featured Kari Mecca of "Kari Me Away" designs.  The segment featured how to make ribbon roses ... by sewing machine!

If you've ever tried to make ribbon roses the traditional way (folding, twisting, ad naseum), you'll know that such roses, while beautiful, are time-consuming and can be frustrating.  Kari has developed a technique to produce a similar looking rose in a much easier manner.

The episode featured is #3403,  titled "Whimsical Trims from a Stick" and was originally aired in 2011.  Kari's segment is 20 minutes in.  From 20 - 26 minutes is instruction on how to make a single loop flower; from 29 - 32 minutes is a demo on how to make the double loop trim and flower.  It is very, very easy!  Do a Google search on "whimsical trims from a stick" and you'll find lots of hits.  I couldn't find a site that would allow you to watch the episode for free.  You can, however, buy the episode.

Kari has also developed a tool she calls "Whimsy sticks" to help you make the flowers and trim.  But I don't have those specific sticks.  By watching her demo and seeing how it works, I determined that I could find some make-shift supplies and I did.

Her Whimsy sticks are acrylic bars, 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1-1/4" wide  and 17" long.  Well, I had some Celtic bias bars that would substitute.  I don't have the wider widths, but I do have a bar 1/2" wide.  I also had a clear ruler that was 2" wide.  I could, at the very least, experiment!

What I didn't have was the exact instructions of what width ribbon, how long to cut the ribbon and which width bar works with what width ribbon.  I imagine that information is included in the Whimsy stick packaging.  After all, why should she give away *all* the information?

From my ribbon stash, I picked out some 3/8" ribbon and used my 1/2" bar.  Following the Martha's Sewing Room demo, I made my own ribbon roses!  Dang, but they turned out so cute!

For the single-loop flowers:
You wrap the ribbon around the stick (tip from Kari: just hold the ribbon in one hand, secure one end of the ribbon at the top of the bar then turn THE BAR to wrap the ribbon around the bar.  That is much easier than physically wrapping *the ribbon*).  Then you secure the wraps with a strip of low-tack tape down the center of the wraps, on both sides of the stick.  She uses 1/4" Tiger Tape but I didn't have any of that.  What I did have was 1" low-tack blue painter's tape.  I simply cut 1/4" wide strips. 

Remove the tape at the top of the ribbon and slide the wrapped ribbon off the stick.  The low-tack tape will keep all the loops in place.  Then you edge-stitch very close to the fold of the ribbon.  Look closely at the picture on the left; at the bottom edge, you'll see a line of straight stitching (in white thread).  There is no stitching along the top edge.
Remove the low-tack tape. 

Voila .. a single loop strip!  Now, loosely wrap the strip around itself, while holding the base in your fingers.  Secure the base with some hand-stitches.  I backed my flowers with some leaves made with grosgrain ribbon, but you could just as easily put it on a pin-back or a button form or a circle of felt.

For double-loop flowers:
There is a very useful YouTube video from Kari to watch on this.    The basic technique is the same .. wrap a wider ribbon on a wider stick. (I used 1-1/2" ribbon with my 2" wide ruler.  I don't know what Kari used; she didn't say.) 

Instead of putting just one strip of low-tack tape down the center, you put *two* strips down the edges .. don't forget to tape each side of the stick! 

(oh a note ... this "silver" ribbon was originally a wired-edge ribbon. That won't work with this technique.  To use it, I simply removed the wire from the edge.  It slips out easily.)

Then, you stitch a line of straight stitches down the middle .. but slightly offset.  My ruler was 2" wide, so I stitched at 1-1/4" away from one side.

Remove the low-tack tape from one side of the ribbon and *fold* the ribbon on the line of stitching.  You will see two rows of loops, staggered.  Edge-stitch close to the fold, as with the single-loop flowers.

Now, make the flowers as before.  Since these flowers are bigger, Kari made a simple knot with a short length of ribbon as the center of the flower and wrapped the double-loop strip around it. 

Because I didn't have the specific information on exact ribbon width and stick width, my double-loop flower didn't turn out as loose as Kari's example. 

My result was a more tightly wrapped flower.  I think it still looks nice but it's not the same as Kari's.


You can also use the loop strips as trim.  Here I put a piping trim against the double-loop strip.  The blue fabric stands for the garment or sewn item.  I didn't have anything in mind when I made this trim, but wanted to "finish it off" to remind myself.  

I forget details so easily these days. :-)


These flowers are just terminally cute! 

Right now, I don't have a real purpose for them, but they sure do use up all those short lengths of ribbon that I just couldn't bear to throw away!  :-)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

a signature Christmas tree

Way back in 2001, I got a wild hair in my bonnet and thought it would be a terrific idea to have a wall-hanging for Christmas that had the autographs of all my family members, both my side and Mr. Pirate's side.

I found a fantastic pattern (still available, too!) and went to work.  I even managed to get *all* of the family members' signatures, which was not that easy since we don't regularly get together with Mr. Pirate's side of the family.

I did encounter a bit of High Drama when I discovered that I had royally misread the pattern and left out a piece.  Of course, this was after the entire top had been pieced and there was no more of the green fabric to make corrections.   Yes, I did think of a solution.  :-)

I finished the wall-hanging and found a place to display it for the holidays.  It was all good ... for a while.

Then, as families often do, the family expanded.  Members became married.  Babies were born.  And the way the Christmas tree is designed, it is impossible to add more ornaments to it.

But, oldest Dear Daughter came up with a very clever work-around .... all I need to do is create some "presents" to go under the tree!   Now I am on a Quest to find a good-looking present image that I can work a signature onto in such a way that subsequently added presents will also look nice.  (But first, I suppose I really ought to rummage around the storage shed and see if I can discover where I put the wall-hanging!  :-) )

That picture is just a teaser! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the signature Christmas tree wall-hanging.

Friday, November 30, 2012

stained glass Christmas tree skirt

Here's another quilted Christmas project I did some time ago ... in 2001, in fact.

The synopsis: a friend of mine had recently had her living room painted.  She wanted a dramatic tree skirt for her Christmas tree.  I showed her the version in Brenda Henning's "Christmas Traditions in Stained Glass" (the same book I used for the stained glass Christmas stockings) and she just loved how it looked.

I made the tree skirt to reflect her new living room colors.  It's definitely NOT Christmas colors but does look wonderful in the room.   She was simply overjoyed with it, which made me feel great. :-)

You can find Brenda Henning's book on her website.

For all the gory details, please visit my web page for the stained glass Christmas tree skirt.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

stained glass Christmas stockings

As part of my web page relocation project, I have revisited all of my pages.  It was a very nice trip down memory lane for me.

Since the Christmas season is now upon us and, as crafters, we STILL HAVE TIME :-) to make items in time for Christmas.  Nothing like the last minute to impose a deadline, huh?  :-)

Over the next couple of days, I'm going to share with you some of the Christmas-related quilted items I've made in the past.  Here, on the blog, I'll give a brief teaser but will also give you the link to the web page where you can see ALL the pictures and read ALL the verbage. :-)   I also have links where I can ... and if those links are still active.

So, without further ado ... today's item is "Stained Glass Christmas Stockings".

I have 6 Christmas stockings that I hang on the mantelpiece: 5 for our family members and 1 for my "new-ish" son-in-law.  (They've been married one year already, so I don't think he qualifies strictly as a "new" SIL. :-)  ).

I used the pattern from "Christmas Traditions in Stained Glass". a book by Brenda Henning, although I did a completely different, but entirely appropriate, design for my son-in-law. :-)

You might wonder why they don't all face the same direction.  That's a good thing to wonder about.  And I have an answer for you!  But you need to wander on over to the web page to find out why!  Yes, I'm such a tease. :-)

Those pictures are just teasers! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the stained glass Christmas stockings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ta Da! The Big Announcement!

Finally, oh finally!!   I'm pretty sure I've finished all the relocation of my webpages to the new site.  ::crossing fingers for luck::

Therefore .. the Big Announcment ... ::drumroll, please::

The Dread Pirate Rodgers website is now at
or www.PirateRodgers.com
Either one .. makes no difference. They both go to the same website. 

All of my pages are now at there ... the main index page, which will direct you to all the different topics:
* personal info,
* quilting (which includes the tutorials),
* machine embroidery,
* sewing,
* adventures,
* Corpus Delecti .... or tales of Sneaks, the Mighty Hunter. :-)

 If you are familiar with the way my pages looked at the previous sites, you'll feel reassured because they are the *same pages*, just relocated to one place.

All of my tutorials are still available (for a while) at the Freeservers site.  This is because there are a LOT of other websites that have linked to the Freeservers place. I don't want to turn away people who are finding my tutorials from those other websites.    I'm in the process of contacting as many as I can to request that they update their links to my new site.

On the new site at PirateRodgers.com,  you will find ALL of my tutorials available on the quilting page   They are the same web page tutorials as they have always been.  The PDFs to download are there also.

As I've gone through *each and every web page*, I've updated the info on some of them, as I saw prudent.

I was astonished to discover that I have 225 quilting pages, with projects dating from 1978 to current day.

There are 65 machine embroidery pages .. but that's because I got my embroidery machine in 2004 .... and honestly, I keep forgetting that I have some gorgeous designs to use, otherwise, I'd probably have more embroidery pages!  :-)

The sewing page is  more modest ... only 55 pages there.  I really only started keeping track of my sewing stuff from 2003 onwards.  All the really early stuff, the outfits I made for our 3 girls when they were infants and toddlers and young girls, don't have pages (yet).  Honest to goodness, computers weren't even INVENTED when I was sewing those outfits!  :-)  I've certainly *saved* them; they are in my cedar chests.  I do plan to do some archeological digs to unearth them.  :-)  Then I'll make the pages for those outfits.  It's on the list of Things To Do.  Really. :-)

I'm so pleased to finally have everything under one roof, so to speak.  I hope you'll wander on over to the new site, PirateRodgers.com and take a look.  There's LOTS of stuff to see and read about!  :-)

(and yes, please do email me if you find broken links or pictures that don't load.  I'm pretty sure that I've checked them all out but I think my eyeballs have become permanently crossed at this point. :-)  )

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Progress continues; weather is fair :-)

I'm still trudging onwards with the web page relocation project.  Boy, it's just a whole lotta grunt work.  Original pages (written way back in the Dark Age)s had imbedded Java Scripts and pop-up windows for the pictures.  Further down the line, when I had more knowledge at my fingertips, I put in some CSS coding to simplify some aspects of maintenance.  But I didn't update the Dark Ages pages.  :-)   Now, thanks to my geeky Dear Daughter, I have server-side includes to further simplify maintenance.  :-) 

At this point, when I am doing the relocation, I am updating Every Single Page to remove the imbedded Java Script and the pop-up windows, include the CSS and SSI code snippets and make sure that external and internal links still work correctly.   Boy, am I stylin' now!  :-)

But, as I said, it's all grunt work.  My goal is to get everything moved to the new site by the end of the month.  Then I can make the Formal Announcement. :-)   [however, most of the pages are already moved over and working fine, I think.  References to the relocated pages are already in place.   I hope to see less traffic at the old sites and more traffic at the new site ... as I look at the statistics.   All of this should be transparent to the user.  So they say.  :-) ]

Although I haven't been working on Lizzie, due to the webpage project, I am still doing some handwork in the evenings, when Mr. Pirate & I keep each other company whilst watching "Bombing Germans".  (inside joke with us: I'm half German and Mr. Pirate likes to watch the Military Channel's World War II programs ... most of which are .. bombing Germans.  :-)  )

I've been working on my current Forever Project, which I am calling Vertical Diamonds.  As of right now, at 72" x 84", it's officially longer than my display space.  

Now that I can see the entire thing hanging, I also see some layout issues but they are going to stay exactly as they are.  It's one thing to rip out machine stitching but everything here is *hand stitched*  I am absolutely, positively NOT going to remove that stitching to fix any perceived problems.

Rather, I am going to maintain that any layout issues are simply part of the charm of the quilt. :-)

This quilt isn't finished being pieced yet.  There is another round of small diamonds, a narrow brown border, a slightly wider blue border and a final narrow brown border.  If all goes according to my calculations (HA!), it should finish around 86" x 113".

Next up for Vertical Diamonds ... working on the round of small diamonds.  Lots of them.  More than lots.  Tons of them.  And that's why it's called a "Forever Project".  :-)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Relocation: behind the curtains

I'm in the middle of some non-quilting, but necessary, activity.

When I first started making web pages as a virtual scrapbook/journal/diary for the stuff I quilted/sewed/embroidered, I got an account at Freeservers.com  It worked very nicely for a number of years.

Then I reached the point where I needed to get a paid account to obtain more webspace and it just irked me to do so.  I know businesses need to charge to make their profit but it just bugged me to need to pay to have the space to show off my pages.  I sure wasn't making any money with my stuff, so it was a net monetary drain for me.

About that time, I remembered/rediscovered that the ISP where my email is, offered free webspace with the email account!  Oh hallelujah!   So, I started filling up THAT space with the newer web pages.

It was starting to get tricky with the web page construction ... knowing where a specific page was and how to reference it properly.  I was trying to keep with relative referencing, instead of absolute, but sometimes that just wasn't possible.

Mr. Pirate became more involved with his (extended) family's business and needed webspace for that.  All of a sudden, the webspace at the ISP was running short.  Ooops.

So, this year, we bit the bullet; we registered for a domain and got a hosted webspace at Dreamhost.  I began the process ... the TEDIOUS process ... of reviewing  Every Single Webpage of mine to update it, not only with verbage corrections and additions but also some technical stuff.  My oh-so-clever geeky daughter wrote some server-side includes (SSI) for me so that common elements of HTML code could be put into a library and referenced that way.  Much, *much* easier for me, maintenance-wise.   All I can say is that it's a Very Good Thing that I used to be a programmer and am used to TEDIOUS, BORING coding and verifying because going through 125+ pages really *is* boring and tedious.  Mostly tedious.  Programming is one of those activities that you just can't multi-task; you gotta keep focused on the flow of the code otherwise Things Don't Work Right.

Once that was done, I started FTP-ing all the files over to the Dreamhost site.  Fortunately, that process was a snap.

I'm now down to the last bit of checking things out:  I need to make sure that the "final" version of the web page is what I want it to be AND to ensure that all the links work properly.

OY VEY .. the LINKS!  They may be the death of me.

Links to outside sites aren't a problem .. they either still exist or they don't.  It is a sad thing, indeed, when web sites go away.  Most of them were for sites where I got a particular pattern or embroidery design.  I would always try to link to my source so my reader could get the design too.  But ... sometimes those site have folded up their tents and have gone away.  Other links were for products that I used.  The page where I originally linked to was no longer the page where the product was ... the manufacturer had reorganized *their* website and moved things around.   And all without telling me!  Can you imagine that??  Harumph.  :-)

But the KILLER problems were my own internal links.  Oh. My. Gosh.  On my quilting web pages, I have 'back' and 'next' links at the bottom of the page.  Just shoot me now ... as I was *INCONSISTENT* with how I named the directories and how I referenced them.  Geez, Louise!  Where did all the good programmer training go to????

And then ... just to mess with me further ... my old sites were case insensitive, so I was rather sloppy about what words I capitalized and which ones I didn't.  Now that I'm at Dreamhost ... guess what?  Oh yeah .. they are case sensitive.  Just shoot me now (again).   So a file/picture named "Quilt front.jpg" is different from "Quilt Front.jpg" from "quilt Front.jpg" from "quilt front.jpg" from "Quilt front.JPG", etc, etc, ad naseum.   AAAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!

So, that's how I'm spending my time right now .. going through All Those Links for accuracy.  If I had realized the case "problem" when I was originally going through the pages, I would have corrected them at that point ... which would have meant that I would have needed to go correct/update each page only *once*.  But no .. I didn't think of the case problem.  Now, I'm reaping the results of my sloppiness by needing to correct most of the pages AGAIN.

The lesson I learned?  From now on, ALL file names will ALWAYS be in lower case.

Eventually, eventually, most of my pages (adventures, quilting, sewing, embroidery, whatever) will be on the Dreamhost site and the Freeserver and ISP pages will go away.  Hopefully, this will be "transparent to the user"  (fingers crossed) so that the readers won't even realize the pages are on a new site.  I'll be putting a redirect on the various home pages at Freeservers so people who directly link to those pages will know where the pages have gone.

The only pages that I'll leave on the Freeservers site are my original tutorials.  There are direct links to them *all over the internet* and rather than ask everyone to please change their links, I'll just leave them where they are.  That's just simpler for everyone.

During the review process, I have (re)discovered that I have several quilts for which I never quite got around to making a web page for.  So, the final step in this relocation process will be to FINALLY make pages for those lonely quilts who deserve their 15 minutes of fame.  :-)

Now that I've had this little break from the tedium, it's back to the salt mines ... I have more internal links to verify and correct.  aaarrrggghhh.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stuff that's going on

The things I've been doing since I last posted, in no particular order ......

1. I crocheted an edging on another (and final) fleece blanket.  This was another project that languished (or, more than likely, totally ignored) in middle DD's room.  I used a sparkly black yarn (Vanna's Glamour).  Why?  Because it was black, sparkly and cheap. :-)  The skein was 202 yards.  It looked to be enough for an edging, but what do I know?  Fortunately, it turned out to be *just* enough.  I probably have a couple or so yards leftover.  :-)
The edging is a simple picot.

2. Finished the quilting for Gone with the Wind.  Hallelujah!  That one was completed just in time for a customer quilt to arrive.   No pictures of the finished quilting yet.

3. Started & finished (woo hoo!) the aforementioned customer quilt.  The top is a delightful design of 4 columns of zig-zags in Christmas red.  Peeking out behind the red zig-zags are green triangles.  The result rather looks like rick-rack placed on top of each other.  Surrounding each of these columns is a "gold" frame.  All 4 columns are placed on top of a background of a wonderful poinsettia print.

So as not to ruin the lovely poinsettia flowers, I outlined each and every one of them in a "gold" Glide thread.  This was the first time I've used Glide and I think I'm in love. :-)

The red zig-zags got Carla Barrett's Curly-Swirly treatment and the green triangles got continuous curves.

No pictures, as the client hasn't even received the finished quilt yet.

4. Started preliminary design work on a commissioned quilt for one of Mr. Pirate's extended family members.  It's to be a queen-sized quilt to coordinate/match a hot-air balloon wall-hanging I had made for her.  This could be dicey, as all of YOU know how expensive just the supplies can be.  Once you add in the piecing labor and the quilting costs, all of a sudden you have a VERY expensive quilt.  You know that and I know that.  When we gift a quilt, we don't even consider all of those expenses because we are doing something that WE want to do for a person we love/like/admire.

But *this* quilt was requested.  I emailed 5 different, suggested layouts.  One was liked, so I was able to work out some *very* preliminary guesstimates on cost.  I kinda/sorta figured out how much fabric it would take (I'm not using a retail pattern).  I've figured out the amount for the backing, batting and binding.  I've figured out a range for the quilting costs (low to high).  I've even been able to grossly estimate what the piecing time might be.

So, the next time we email each other, I'll present this cost estimate. THEN I'll see how much she really wants this quilt.

EQ mock-up
5.  I've continued working on my hand-pieced Forever Project.  This is a series of columns made of squares on point.

It's coming together rather nicely and I'm pleased with it.  I may have found a quilting associate who might be willing to trade labor ... her to hand-quilt it in exchange for me machine piecing a top for her.   She LOVES to hand-quilt but really doesn't like the piecing part.  I know that I'm just NOT going to EVER hand-quilt a bed sized quilt but piecing a top is The Thing That I Do.  :-)   Definitely a win/win situation.
progress as of 11/2012

 I have all the columns sewn for the center area.  I'm now sewing the brown sashing onto those columns, then sewing THOSE units together.

Here's my supplies .... they are contained in a project box so I can always just "grab and go'.

 In the past, I've confined my work on a Forever Project to specifically when I was not at home.   I could always be assured that I'd have something to work on.  But as my previous Forever Projects became completed, I began to come up with other ideas for MORE Forever Projects.

Since I want to get to work on these other Forever Projects, I need to get the current Forever Project done!  To that end, I've been working on it at home also.  :-)

Now, to be fair, not only will I get this Forever Project finished BUT I am *not* machine piecing a NEW project.  Yes, yes, you could say that I am splitting hairs on the "piecing" part, but since I do have a LOT of pieced tops ready to be quilted, I don't want to add to THAT pile.  This hand-pieced Forever Project bypasses that pile because it's going to go to my quilting buddy for hand-quilting.  :-)

I could load one of those other tops on Lizzie, but I know as soon as I do, Mr. Pirate's relative will get back to me with the information I need to get started.  I don't want to be rushed on a quilting job, even if it's for me, so I'll just defer loading *anything* on Lizzie right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Look Ma! I'm crocheting!

Let me start out by stating, categorically, that I am NOT a crocheter.  With that disclaimer out of the way, I have recently become enamored of crocheted edgings.  When you start out with a craft, it's usually a good idea to create something on the large-scale side, so that you become familiar with the technique and you don't become frustrated when your small, delicate project doesn't turn out exactly as your mind's eye thought it should. :-)

I like fleece blankets.  Fleece is warm, it's lightweight, it's durable and launders easily.  It's also inexpensive to buy.  You can always use fleece yardage as it comes off the bolt, but it looks nicer if the edges are finished.

In the past, I bound the edges with double-fold bias binding,  just like I would do a quilt ... because I am a quilter and that's how we finish our quilts.  But that resulted in a rather bulky and rigid edge.  Who woulda thunk it?

Somewhere along the way, I rediscovered crocheted edgings.  I'm not quite sure where, but now I'm aware of them.  Crocheted edgings are soft, flexible and look soooooooooooooooooooooo pretty!  :-)  While they aren't as fast to apply as a double-fold bias binding, I think they are more appropriate to the soft, drapeability of the fleece.

I "found" a skip stitch rotary cutter (previously blogged about here) and having that tool has just been wonderful.  It creates regularly spaced holes/slits so you can crochet your foundation row easily.

Recently, I was rummaging through the unused bedroom/storage room of one of the Pirate daughters (she no longer lives at home, being independent and all that ... but we haven't quite gotten around to clearing out the room.  It still holds a number of her belongings that we are storing for her.  Besides, clearing out the room is so .... "final".  It means that she's never living here again; that when she does come to visit, she'd be sleeping in a "guest" room instead of her former bedroom.   That's just upsetting to me, so her room remains as it is.  :-)  ). 

Anyway, I was rummaging through the room, probably looking for something of hers to send to her and I came across two fleece blankets, still in yardage form.  I rather suspect that the yardage was purchased with the intent of Dear Daughter finishing them into blankets.   Obviously, this has never happened.  Oh, surprise, surprise. :-)

In a completely separate incident, our next-door neighbor recently moved away.  She gifted me with two LARGE bags of yarn ... some really nice stuff and some regular, ol' acrylic stuff.  My middle Dear Daughter who knits  is a yarn snob and refuses to use acrylic yarn because it "feels nasty and squeaks".  :-)   I have no such restrictions.

In another completely unrelated event, I have put myself on a self-imposed quilt piecing moratorium.  I have 17 completed quilt tops that need to be quilted.  I want to reduce that number to (1) so that I will be in the position of "piece a top, quilt a top".  A laudable goal, yes?  Oldest Dear Daughter asked when was the last time I was at such a stage.  A completely legitimate question!  The answer?  mmmmmm ... never?  :-)

So with the re-discovery of the fleece yardage, the gifted yarn, my newly acquired skip stitch rotary cutter and no piecing of quilt tops, I decided that I would spend my evening time with Mr. Pirate, while watching our TV shows, doing some crochet edgings on the fleece yardage.

The first one that I've finished is this wolf print.  Middle Dear Daughter likes wolves, hence this print.  See the multi-colored border around the edge?  I *think* those were intended to be cut apart for a fringe.  However, I really do NOT like fringe on blankets because they tickle.  Ick.

right side, corner detail
In the bag of gifted yard, I found a very nice balled yarn in a variegated green/brown mix.  It went very nicely with the colors in the wolf fleece.

So, I used the skip stitch rotary cutter to make the holes/slits for the foundation row, made the foundation row, then a row of double crochet and finished it off with a shell stitch.  Dang!!  I think I did a real nice job of it. :-)

However, there WAS an 'adventure' along the way.  This yarn didn't have a label.  I have NO idea of the fiber content.  It's a very fine-textured yarn.  I knew I should be using a smaller crochet hook, but I didn't have one.  I didn't want to BUY one because I wanted to do the edging NOW.  So, I used what I had, which was a crochet hook larger than I needed.

Eh ... my blanket, my decision. :-)

Not being a crocheter, I have absolutely no way of estimating how much yarn anything will take.  The yarn I was using looked like a big amount, so I simply started doing my foundation row then proceeded onto the next row of double crochet.  It was somewhere along the double crochet row that I began to suspect that I might run out of yarn before I reached the starting point.  Oops.

And that turned out to be exactly the case.  So, I went over to my local yarn shop (where middle Dear Daughter had worked at one point) to see if they had something compatible in yarn size and color.  Oh, happy, happy .. they did!  I also bought a crochet hook which was more suitable to the size of the yarn.

Oh unhappy, unhappy .... the yarn was $42.  Oh. My. Gosh.   Holey moley.  Cripes.  Geez, Louise.    This makeshift project that was "free" just became an Expensive Project.  :-(   But, I bought it anyway because it so perfectly matched the yarn I was using.   In retrospect, I suppose I *could* have ripped out the ENTIRE row of double crochet and re-stitched it with a row of single crochet (and thereby not requiring more yarn) but I was *almost done* with the double crochet.  I didn't want to rip out *everything*! 

And then, of course, now that I had more than enough yarn, I could finish the edging with a shell stitch.  Which I did. 

I have most of the new yarn left ... about 400 yards.  I have NO idea what I can do with that amount.    :-/  

wrong side, showing a straight edge and a corner
I used the larger crochet hook to finish the row of double crochet but switched to the smaller, more appropriate hook to do the shell stitch.  In any case, I am very happy with the results of my crochetting.  I think it looks very pretty.  

I have now dug out the  second piece of fleece yardage and am doing a different edging on it.  Gotta have something to do in the evenings!  :-)