Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Progress on the hexagon front

Back on July 2013, I happened across an Australian blogger who was doing a hand-pieced hexagon quilt.  I just loved it.  Inspired, I started my own version.  Where she is using white as her background, I had oodles of mottled, soft green fabric already on-hand and that's what I am using for my background.

I made a mock-up in EQ.  I counted the number of hexagon flowers I'd need and started prepping them.  I needed 60.

For the first 35 flower units, I also sewed the background units to them.  They are now ready to be plopped into place.

Then, I got lazy and only wanted to do the fun flower units.  Doing the green background units was boring because it's all the same color.

As I decreased the number of prepped flower units, I was allowing myself to become excited because the end was approaching!  Sure, I still needed to make the background units for these flowers, but I could now anticipate arranging all of the flowers in some sort of pleasing arrangement!

When the very last flower unit was finished, I counted them.  55 ... 56 ... 57.   Wait.  What do you MEAN *57*?!?!?   I need 60.  SIXTY.

Oy vey.  My gratification is now delayed whilst I prep and sew 3 more flower units.  How very aggravating.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Destashing: fabric & collections for sale.

I can tolerate a lot of clutter but at some point, the sheer amount of STUFF in my sewing room is overwhelming.  That point has arrived for me.  I have girded my loins and gone through various cubbies and pulled some yardage and collections (that I have put together) that I know, deep down in my heart of hearts, that I will never, ever, ever get around to using.

Below I am listing what I have for sale.  Mostly, these are "collections" .. i.e. fabric selections that I have put together for a project .. sometimes I actually had a real pattern in mind but mostly I was just gathering fabric of a theme without anything specific in mind.

All fabric is 100% cotton.  Most is still uncut.  Those pieces that have been cut into are clearly described as such.   If you'd like to see a better resolution picture, just email me.

I accept cash or PayPal.

I am listing the weight of each of the collections.  If you want more than one collection, I will happily combine them into one package to save on postage.  Postage is in addition to the price listed.  I will find the most economical way to mail you your purchases.

Many of these fabrics are now considered "vintage".   And by "vintage", I'm talking circa 2000 or so.  Boy, does that make me feel old.  Many pieces are out of print and very difficult to find.

This is a non-smoking house.  We do have 2 cats but all of these pieces of fabric have been folded, packaged and stored in my covered bookshelves, so the cats haven't been rolling around on them.  All the fabric is dust-free ... or as dust-free as I can make them.  Most of the fabric is right off the bolt and is not washed .. but the pieces that have been cut into *might* have been washed for that "other" project.  I'd treat all the fabric as not washed, just to be on the safe side.

I mail from zipcode 94597.

So, without further ado ... here we go ...

1. The Dale Earnhardt set  SOLD

2. Gone With The Wind  SOLD

3. "Internet" fabric

2-1/3 yards.  "internet" themed.  From Cranston Quiltworks.  uncut.

Black background with blue and white  pinpoint"stars".   Images of 3-1/2 disks, CDs, laptops, lightbulbs, keyboard keys, monitors and various "computer words".

price: $16.00  plus shipping.
weight of fabric: 1 lb.

4. Red Hat Ladies set

pattern: "A Red Hat for All My Friends" by Custom Creations.  Complete, uncut and unused.  Finished size of wall-hanging is approximately 32-1/2" x 44-1/2".

please note that this is NOT a "kit" for the wall-hanging.  The fabric below is what I had purchased to be used with the pattern but is NOT all that the pattern calls for.  I had intended on getting the rest of the fabric at a later date.

The pattern calls for 1 yard of background fabric; 1/2 yard of narrow border & sashing fabric; 1/4 yard of accent border fabric; 1-1/4 yard of wide border & binding fabric; 1-1/4 yards for batting & backing fabric.

I am offering these fabrics only:

Fat Quarter of hats, gloves, shoes, pearl necklaces and words from Block Party Studios.

From their website: "Our quilting
fabric panels are hand printed fat quarters."   This particular "red hat" print is no longer being produced.

fabric: 1-1/2 yards of mottled purple background with red hats, red purses and purple purses.  From Timeless Treasures.  Out of print.  Uncut.  (This is more than the pattern calls for.  I think I had intended on making the wall-hanging bigger.)

total price: $25.00  plus shipping.
weight: 12 oz.

5. Train set    SOLD

6. vintage Veggie Tale set
This set consists of 4 panels of the Veggie Tale gang plus 8 coordinating fabrics.  I had originally planned to make a quilt using the 4 panels as the focal points and fill the the space around them with the coordinating fabrics.  However, my girls have grown up and my window of opportunity for a Veggie Tales quilt for them has long since closed.

I had even printed off a free layout from Andover Fabrics (that wasn't intended to be used with the Veggie Tale fabrics, but I liked the layout.)  The Andover  pattern has more focus squares (6, rather than 4) but I really liked how the pattern used Flying Geese, 4-patches and half square triangles to fill in the spaces between the focus squares instead of the usual sashing.  I'll include this pattern with the fabric, so that if you like the layout too, you can use it.  However, you must realize that you will need to figure out
the sizes of the filler blocks yourself.

Without knowing exactly how much of each fabric I might need, I just bought a "goodly" amount.  :-)  I have every expectation that you'll be able to make a good sized quilt yourself.

All the fabric is uncut.

The panels:
(4) panels.  Each is about 15-12" x 15-1/2".  The fabric around the panels is the same as the yardage I've listed below as "blue background with Bob the tomato".  The entire piece of yardage is about 7/8 yard.  You can cut the panels apart or not.

The coordinating fabrics are from Big Idea Productions, circa 2000, manufactured by Springs Industries.
* yellow/orange check with Bob the tomato and Larry the cucumber.  4-1/4 yards.
* blue background with many Veggie Tale characters.  3/4 yard
* blue background with Bob the tomato.  1-1/2 yards

 "Solids": these aren't "Veggie Tale" fabrics but were chosen because they matched the vibrant colors so well.
* red.  1-1/3 yards
* orange 1-1/3 yards
* yellow.  1-1/3 yards
* dark green.  2-1/3 yards
* light green.  1-3/4 yards

price: $110.00  plus shipping.
total yardage: about 14-1/2 yards.  This figure does NOT include the panel prints.
weight of fabric: 5 lbs, 4 oz

Thursday, January 23, 2014

HexDen Flower units

Am I the only one in the quilting universe who didn't know about HexDen flowers?  Wouldn't be the first time that I'm behind the curve. :-)

I read about these cute little units on a Craftsy blog entry from September 2013, although the link I came through was from a list of links. I assume the name HexDen comes from the combination of Hexagon and Dresden plate templates.

My current Forever Project (™) happens to be ginormous hexagon flowers which will be put together into a double-size top (I think .. I kinda forget the final size), so when I saw this unit, I was captivated!

It occurred to me that it wouldn't be very practical to use the HexDen flower units in the same way one uses the Grandmother Flower Garden block because of the curved edges ... BUT .. they would be absolutely AWESOME as appliqued flowers!

For this unit, I used a 1" hexagon template.  As you can see by the ruler measurements at the side and bottom, this flower unit is *about* 5" square.  Kinda/sorta.  More or less.

It is cuter than a bug's ear!

I must say, though, it did take me a bit longer to make each hexagon/Dresden Plate unit than the hexagon-only unit.  For the hexagon-only unit, you simply flip the fabric over the sides of the template and quickly put in some basting stitches to hold the folded corners in place.

But the petal units are a bit trickier ... to have that curved edge nice and smooth, you hand-stitch a row of gathering stitches so you can pull them up.  It takes more time to put in those gathering stitches as you stitch down the folded corners. 

I also discovered, at least for me,  that you really need to *press* each hexagon & petal unit after you've basted it.  That pressed edge is critical when it comes time to stitch each unit to each other.   When I did the first petal unit, I pulled out the template before pressing and .. ooopppsss ... the curved edge really didn't stay in place.  But once I did press it firmly, the folded curved edge behaved nicely.

AND THEN ... the quilting gods must have been smiling upon me because in Piece N Quilt's blog (by Natalia Whiting Bonner and Kathleen Jasperson Whiting) that I read yesterday, they showed a quilt with alternating columns of Flying Geese and a wavy vine with appliqued flowers.

How absolutely serendipitous! 

Can't you just SEE using the HexDen flowers instead of the country flowers?

Additionally, I think the vines and leaves are going to be an excellent venue to finally use my Leaves Galore ruler, something that I've been waiting to use for quite a while.  It will be the *perfect* tool to use to cut the wave vine and uniform leaves!  :-)

So, now that I've made my little sample HexDen flower, I can tuck it away with my instructions, templates and inspirational photo so that when I get back to it (whenever that may be), I will know exactly what I had been thinking. 

Well, hope springs eternal that I will be able to figure it out again. :-)

top finished: Picture Frames

In my blog reading, I came across a layout that looked really interesting: "Picture Frames", a freely downloadable PDF from Little Miss Shabby blog.   I made my version slightly larger than the PDF describes, by adding a additional rows & columns.  Remember that little fact because it came back to bite me.
I like the graphic aspect of this layout.  It's designed for layer cake pre-cuts but honestly, you could use any size square you wanted; you'd just need to adjust the framing strips.  As I went through my flannel stash, I realized that with the leftover remnants that I wanted to use, I wouldn't be able to get an 8" square, which is the focus fabric.  *I* could only get a 5" square ... so I downsized the block but increased the number of rows and columns.
I also realized that if I used flannel for the whole thing, that would result in just a whole lotta seams and intersections, which would make the resultant top not only heavy but *bulky*.  Not what I wanted as a final product.  So, I opted to use the flannel *only* as the focus 5" square and quilting cotton as the framing strips.
I'm merrily cutting my squares and strips; sewing them all together; assembling the blocks into rows and sewing the rows together.  It's looking pretty good.
But wait.  What's this?  The green Moda Marbles I'm using for one of the framing strips looks to be running a bit short.  Well, remember that my squares were smaller than the PDF required so I needed to make more of them?  Just bite me cuz I ran out of the green.  ::head thunk::  Fortunately, it *is* a Moda Marble but as my particular stash chunk is ::ahem:: "vintage", I knew there would be no chance of getting the same dye lot.  The best I could hope for was to get an olive green in the same general color family.
I was able to find an olive green Marbles online but ya know .. you just can't color match on monitors.  But .. ::shrug::  it really didn't matter, since I didn't have a choice.  I ordered an additional yard of the olive green; it will arrive here "soon".
In order to make this faux pas slightly more palatable,the new, additional olive green (whatever shade it turns out to be) will be in the middle rows .. so it (hopefully) looks kinda/sorta planned.  eh .. whatever.

Eventually, the additional Moda Marbles arrived and .... ::sigh::  my original green apparently is NOT "olive" green but some other shade.  The olive green that arrived is slightly lighter than what is already in the quilt.   Well ... it is what it is.

This top is approximately 64" x 64".

This morning, I finally sewed on the last narrow border strips, pressed it firmly and got the picture taken.   Not a very good picture, though.   The distance from my "design wall" to the opposite side of the room is approximately 6.5 feet ... not a whole lot of room to back up for a picture.  If the top is over a certain size .. and Picture Frames is skirting that size ... I can't back up FAR enough to get a decent picture.  So ... this is what you get at this point. :-)

I think I've procrastinated as long as I decently can over returning to the quilt that's loaded onto my longarm.  That quilt needs to get finished so I can, at least, quilt the fundraiser quilt that I promised.  :-)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

using up flannel scrap stash

I mentioned previously that I had "rediscovered" my flannel stash.  Fondling flannel is so sensuous.  :-)  I was tempted ... and I succumbed ... to making "something" with the flannel, even though I have pre-assembled projects to work on.

At this point, all of the following are strictly *tops*, as I still need to quilt them.  But after months of NOT piecing, it sure does feel wonderful to be doing so!   Yes, I do love having the tops quilted but although I deeply appreciate having the ability to quilt my tops myself, it's not an easy process for me.  I'd really much rather be piecing!  :-)

In any case, here are the three flannel tops that I've actually finished in January (and here it is, only January 19th!).

The original fund-raiser toddler top, done in all solids.  

I distinctly and specifically chose this layout because of the *minimum* of seams and intersections.  I figured that using flannel would make everything overly bulky and heavy, so a simply layout would be best.

I like the result.

BUT THEN .... I think the Pod People took over my brain for the next top. 

I had a bunch of 3" strips leftover from the above top.  I wanted to use them up.  So, did I chose another layout that also had a minimum of seams and intersections?  Heck no.

I chose Disappearing 9-Patch.  HOLY MOLEY.  Could I have chose anything more MORE seams and intersections?  Possibly .. but thankfully I did not!

The only consistent aspect of the 9-patches was that I used red flannel for the center square (the one that gets sliced into four pieces).  Other than that, I tried to make the rest of the 9-patch totally random.  I did have more of some colors than others, so they show up more in the finished top.

Once the blocks were done, I simply plopped them down in a random manner, trying to make sure that similar blocks weren't adjacent to each other.  The result is something that absolutely, positively jangles my poor eyeballs.  This top isn't anything that I would normally construct but since I was using the scraps I had on hand, I was limited as to what I could use.  The good news is that my scraps of flannel was steadily decreasing. :-)

But the top?  Geez, Louise ... I really don't like looking at it.  It is simply too much all over the place for my taste.  Hopefully some toddler will like it being so .... colorful. :-)

The last top I've finished comes from a free pattern "A Little Folk Tale", which is the name of the fabric line used not because the layout is reminiscent of folk tales. 

What attracted me was the simple graphic-ness of the layout.  It is also a very good way to showcase any nifty fabrics that you do have.  Because I was still working with the 3" strips I had previously cut, my finished top is slightly smaller than what the pattern calls for.  But at 51" x 63", I think it's still a good, useable size.

Now that I've got that bug about using my flannel out of my system, I really must turn my attention to the construction of a quilt for my nephew, that has been very patiently waiting for it's spot in the sun.  :-)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

easy toddler fundraiser top: finished

Last November,  my son-in-law's mother asked me to make a toddler-sized fundraiser quilt for the daycare/preschool that she is associated it.

For this one, I wanted something that was easy to construct and not too fancy or intricate.  All of you know that fundraiser items just never get the amount they deserve.  Especially anything handmade.  The audience, bless their souls for being at the fundraiser, typically isn't too discerning regarding handmades.  So, I didn't want to put a whole *lot* of effort into this; no intricate piecing, no applique (specifically, no *hand* applique), no custom quilting.
I went through my library of inspirational photos I've been collecting over the years and decided on a simple 4-patch surrounded by a wide frame.  The blocks are 10" and with a layout of 4x5 blocks, the finished size will be about 40" x 50".  
I had recently "rediscovered" my flannel stash and was inspired to use the remnants buried in it for this quilt.  One thing about flannels, you need to minimize the number of seams and intersections because sometimes you just can NOT get those intersections *flat* and when you increase the number of seams, you're also increasing the weight of the quilt.
Additionally, since we *are* in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, winters just aren't really COLD, ya know?  So, we typically don't need really warm quilts.  To keep my "costs" down, I have opted to not use batting at all.  Instead, I am going to use fleece as batting/backing.  I've done this in other quilts and the result is wonderful.  The quilt is soft, warm, drapeable and washable ... all requirements necessary for a toddler quilt.
This  is a photo of the finished top.  I do need to complete the quilting on the quilt that's currently loaded on Lizzie before I can do this one ... so that gives me incentive to return to the quilting.  If I remember correctly, the fundraiser is sometime in March. 
I plan on using an all-over quilting design.

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014: new beginnings

I have a whole messload of unquilted tops.  I made a list of them a long time ago.  I've steadily worked on quilting them and the satisfaction of doing so was lovely.  I plucked all of the low-hanging fruit, as it were, and what's now left is tops that are of fairly large dimensions, which means that it's going to take more than "a while" to get them quilted.

So, with all the smaller quilted being done and the pile was just staring at me, I put my Big Girl Panties on and pulled a top from the pile.  This top was pieced in November 2010.  Oy vey .. it was THAT long ago?  :-( 

I put the appliqued bands at the top and bottom to make the quilt a more useable dimension, so this top is a combination of pieced Carpenter Wheels and applique.  And therein lies the problem for me.

How do I quilt this thing?  I was thinking I'd like to do something on the background that would tie the applique and pieced parts together but do something different for the pieced segments.  I didn't want do to the clamshell/peacock feathers again; I had done that on a couple of previous quilts.

Aside: is there some unwritten rule that says quilters shouldn't use the same designs repeatedly?  That we ought to use NEW!  FRESH!  designs each time?  This just taxes my poor one brain cell too much.  On the other hand, I can see myself falling back on using the "same old designs" again and again because they are familiar.  And that would make the quilts look rather boring, don't you think?

Anyway ... I finally decided on a random, branching scrolly design for the off-white background fabric.  I chose a light green Glide thread (I *love* this thread!) and Superior's Bottom Line for the bobbin.   I've outlined the applique pieces so they will puff up; I like that effect.

BUT .. and there's always a "but", isn't there?  I find myself procrastinating over the quilting.  "Random" is just not easy for me to execute.  To me, "random" still means an even distribution of quilting over the area, where the results are visually pleasing.  Some people can do random so well; not me.   It's not terribly relaxing for me because I'm always second-guessing myself over where I "should" be quilting next.  I can do even distribution in the area that I'm looking at, but what happens when I advance the quilt???    Oh the doubts!  :-)

These pictures are where I currently am.  I've just completed the scrolly background quilting in the available area and the quilt was advanced slightly so I could take pictures. 

Hopefully, when I get back quilting, I'll be able to hook the scrolls from the next areas unobtrusively into the previously quilted areas, so it won't look like "OH!  See where she had to advance the quilt?".

As for the pieced segments ... I know I had an idea of what to do with them before I started quilting. 

I know from past experience that *I* really need an overall plan before I even load the quilt.  If I don't, the quilting suffers. 

At this point, I'm desperately hoping that I either drew or wrote down what my grand ideas were ... cuz after this break in quilting, I'm coming up blank. :-)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

All That Glitters - finished!

Ta Da!   I'm so very glad this wall-hanging got finished in 2013, although, sadly, not in time for the recipient to use it for the holiday season.  But, it's sure ready for Christmas 2014!  :-)

Our youngest daughter, DD#3, loves everything Christmas.  I'm sure she would start listening to Christmas carols in July except for people around would her would probably thwap her over the head for starting too early.

This was a kitted project, fabric, pattern and LED lights, available from a vendor at Pacific International Quilt Festival 2013 in San Jose, CA.  Their sample didn't have the LED lights inserted, as they "ran out of time before the show".  :-)  But even without the lights, it was simply spectacular.   Even though I tend not to buy kitted projects, this was one I couldn't pass up.  So I did not. :-)

What I loved about this project was the layout.  Prior to buying it, I had not realized this was a panel print (the Christmas tree and snowflakes immediately above/below it).  But later Googling for quilting ideas showed me that MOST people who used the panel print did not have this specific pattern and simply used the panel print as-is.

The piecing is absolutely straightforward; nothing tricky about it at all.  I was even pleased that all of the star points were just exactly right.   Go me!  :-)

As for the quilting.  Oy vey .. my downfall every single time.  Sometimes a brainstorm will hit me and some times I just sit and stare for days.  To be sure, I have a lot of reference books for inspiration, as well as Googling the internet.  Sometimes, there is just TOO MUCH inspiration and I become overwhelmed.

But, eventually, I settled down and devised a plan.  Mostly, I used Glide "Khaki" thread - this is totally a misnomer.  It really looks like a burnished old gold.  It is absolutely luscious stuff.  My Tin Lizzie has never had a problem with this thread (knock on wood).  Where I didn't want the quilting to overly show, I used Superior's So Fine in a matching color.  The backing is muslin and the thread used in the bobbin is Superior's Bottom Line.

I'm very pleased with the quilting I did.   It's all custom done, with each area given careful consideration of what motif should go there and in what color.  I did a lot of outline stitching first; this stabilizes the area as well as giving it definition with respect to the surrounding areas.  Outline stitching on the longarm machine is not a trivial effort ... it's waaaaay easier to do outline stitching on my home machine because the control is so much greater.  Outline quilting on a longarm is kinda like patting your head whilst rubbing your tummy, BUT, outline quilting makes a quilt look so nice, so that's why I do it, even on Lizzie. :-)

I wanted the tree itself to be three-dimensional, so I densely quilted the background around the tree in a matching green
color with a clamshell/peacock feather design.  That flattens the background and allows the other areas to "puff up".  For the tree itself, I used the Glide thread and outlined the major snowflakes.  I did the same outlining in the snowflake strip above & below the tree. There are some small snowflakes in the background and they were outlined in gold also.  

Now here's a note about those small snowflakes in the background: they required me to *start and stop* the quilting for each one, since I couldn't stitch to the next one without the gold thread being seen.  Each start/stop requires that the tails be tied off and buried.  It's a major PITA but I do love my Dear Daughter.  :-)

The red sashings got a really nice undulating, circle-in-a-circle design in matching red thread. 

You can still see the chalk marks I made, as guidance, in the sashing.

The outer pieced borders are made of alternating "plain" fabric squares and pieced star blocks.  The "plain" fabric blocks have gold snowflakes printed on them.  Although printed fabric tends to hide any quilting designs (so it's not a terrific idea to do complex designs on printed fabric), because this was something that I was doing on my own (versus a client) and I wanted to do some feathers, I drew a circle in that plain block and quilted a feather within the circle.  Sure enough, you really can't see it when looking at the wall-hanging from a distance, but *I* know those circular feathers are there.  :-)

The star blocks were outline stitched for definition.  Holly leaves and nested ovals were stitched in the surrounding areas

As for labels, I have a standard "pirate" label that I use only for family quilts (and maybe on some gift quilts) ... it never goes on donated quilts but I also machine embroidered a label with the quilt's name, "All That Glitters". 

The machine embroidery design came from Ginger's "Gone Sewing" and stitched out absolutely beautiful.  I love her designs.  Unfortunately, it seems that Ginger has problems in keeping her website available, as it has been in existence under several different domain names.  At this time, I can't find this design, so I can't link to it for you.

The verbiage doesn't come with the design; you add what you want. 

As the final pièce de résistance, there is bling on the wall-hanging!  

Originally, mini-LED Christmas lights were to be inserted through buttonholes in the snowflakes, so that you could light up the tree.  But other quilters who finished this panel before I did, complained that the wires and battery pack on the back of the wall-hanging made it very bulky and unable to lie flat against the wall.  The universal consensus was that, while the lights were conceptually a great idea, practically speaking, it was a disaster. 

Instead, I put Swarovski crystals in the center of the snowflakes.  They twinkle when sunlight hits them and look so pretty!  :-)   This was the first time I have used hot fix crystals and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was (although you do need the special hot fix applicator).

The wall-hanging was bound in matching green fabric and a hanging sleeve was sewn in with the binding.  Dear Daughter will take possession of the wall-hanging, decorative curtain rod and removable Command Strip hooks the next time she makes a personal appearance at the ol' homestead. :-)