Archive | March 2014

Sometimes blood is shed

It happens. No matter how careful you are, accidents happen.  Fingers get pricked by pins and needles.  I actually sewed my index finger on my left hand once.  I was being careless and OOPS!  Went into my nail and all the way through the bone. When I say all the way through, I mean it actually went in the bone and came out the other side.  Like a bullet.  Ok Ok, that is a little overly dramatic.  I could feel the tip of the needle, but it didn’t break the skin.   I did manage to score 2 brand new hemostats; one straight and one curved, while everyone was out of the room.  I’d say that was a good day.

Last weekend it was a rotary cutter.  I had just sharpened it with a TrueCut  blade sharpener.

This sharpener really really works.  I do have a decent supply of blades, but let’s face it, they are expensive.  Being able to sharpen blades instead of getting rid of them is economical and yes even a little fun.  Plus it’s electric and I am such a sucker for anything that requires electricity.

So I have a super sharp blade and I’m sitting down to work on a paper piecing project.  Normally I stand to cut, but having to get out of the chair after every seam…..NO THANK YOU.  I know you are thinking, ouch, she sliced her finger.  No.  I managed to flick or drop the rotary cutter on the top of my left hand.  That’s when the blood appeared.  I’ll spare you the gory details,  but I dealt with it myself.  Who wants to spend a Friday evening in the ER? Alternatively, I’m at home, alone,  sewing on a Friday night.

It’s still a little  tender and I may have needed a stitch or two, but I’m a fabric artist. We cut things and then put them back together.  Props to my mom for always keeping butterfly bandages around and showing me how  to use them.

The Life of a UFO

My UFOs

Anyone who has been quilting for a few years and doesn’t have a UFO is lying. (ok, that’s a little harsh)  Let’s face it, even that idea in your head is unfinished. For those of you who are not quilters, a UFO is an UnFinished Object.  I have a few myself; including 2 quilts that are year-long blocks of the month.  Each quilt has 11 finished blocks and both are safely tucked away in labeled project boxes.  In addition to started projects, I have a number of items waiting for take-off.

There are two questions here.

The first one: How does one create a UFO?  This is quite simple. You are working on a quilt for yourself in the colors of your bedroom.  You spent hours picking out the perfect fabric and the pattern is a little challenging, but not too far beyond your capabilities.  Then one day you’re out with friends and you find yourself in the local quilt shop.  There is a beautiful display of the cutest holiday wall hanging made out of the most delicious fabrics. YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT!  After all, they are selling kits.  Then you get a phone call announcing an expected baby.  You just HAVE to make them a quilt.

This scenario repeats itself over and over again.  Some of these join your unfinished bedroom quilt. The number of your UFOs is multiplying.

The second question:  What prevents you from finishing these projects? Let’s revisit the bedroom quilt. It has now been 2 years since you first took your rotary cutter to the fabric.  Some of the blocks are completed; some not.  We now have more obstacles.  You’ve repainted your bedroom and replaced the chair because your dog ate it a year ago when she was just a puppy.  The fabrics aren’t so perfect anymore.  Secondly, you are two years (or more in most cases) better at your craft.  I think this is a huge factor.

I bought a store cut stripper quilt kit a number of years ago.  When I finally got around to cutting, a lot of the strips had started to ravel.  Right off the bat, my pieces were already the wrong size and I didn’t have enough experience to adjust my seam allowance to compensate.  I pieced half the quilt and again set it aside.  When I finally brought it out again, there was nothing I could do to fix what I had already sewn short of ripping it all out and starting over.  This quilt has found a home on my patio. A sea of stars with cut off points.   I’m not super pleased with it, but it is a constant reminder of how far I have come.

Take some time to look at your UFOs.  Do you still love them?  Do you really want to complete them?  If the answer is yes, then challenge yourself to do so. If nothing else, it will open up storage space.  If the answer is no, ask yourself if it is worth keeping.

In January, I set a goal to complete a project a month.  This started as a way for me to attack my UFOs. I am 3 months into the year and have completed 3 projects.  Every one of them I did from start to finish.  I think it is time to get back to my original plan.

Here’s to accepting that colors change and we are all a little better than we were.

International Quilt Day!

THE-WORLD-FLAG

Today, March 15, 2014 is International or World Quilt Day.  These types of events always take me to the internet. They really should take me to the sewing machine, but I love to learn, so off I went.  I first tried google and then remembered Wikipedia.  I found an article on quilts and it actually touches on the craft in different countries.  You can read it here.

The next time you sit at your sewing machine, just imagine that somewhere else in the world. far far away, someone else is doing the same thing.

I hope to bind a quilt today, what are your quilting plans?

This entry was posted on March 15, 2014, in Quilting.

Why I love Painter’s Tape

multiSurface2090.jpg

Painter’s tape is magical.  It isn’t permanent so you can use it confidently knowing your fabric will not be ruined. I use it to mark tops for quilting. I tape patterns to my wall.  You can tape someone’s mouth shut. (ok, I’m kidding on that one.) If you are a machine embroiderer, you can tape fabric and other items to your stabilizer.  You can hold applique pieces down. You can tape blocks on your wall and VOILA! instant design wall.  There are just so many amazing things you can do with a roll of blue painter’s tape.  I have yet to have it not come off something, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test it first.  I know there are other colors out there, I just haven’t used them so I can’t comment.

If you use painter’s tape for sewing, please share.

February: “Owls for Iylah”

Owls for Iylah

February 2014:

Well I am 2 months into my year-long goal.  This is a quilt I made for a dear friend’s granddaughter.  Originally it was going to be a baby shower gift.  The good news is that is was done in enough time for her 1st birthday.

The pattern is The Hoots!™  by Amy Bradley Designs©.  I love the simplicity of this applique and that the owls are so whimsical.

Normally, I like to do invisible machine applique, but I am from the school that one should not use monofilament thread for a baby’s or small child’s quilt.  I decided to do machine embroidery applique with a satin stitch.  If you have a machine that embroiders and you have not tried applique, I suggest you give it a go; it is really a lot of fun.

1st step was digitizing the applique design in my software.  I use Bernina’s embroidery software, Designer Plus 6. This software makes digitizing applique as easy as pie; unless you can’t make pie in which case it’s pretty easy.

I had fun matching the colors and making sure no owl was duplicated; not sure that really matters, but sometimes I get myself locked into designing.  I don’t always recommend this approach, it can really slow me down. The construction of the quilt itself was very straight forward with not a lot of seams to match.  The cornerstones (little squares of color) are floating so even if your seams aren’t spot on, it will not show.  Good qualities in a pattern for beginners.

I started the quilting by stitching in all the ditches.  I highly suggest using a top stitch sole on your walking foot for ditch stitching.  (note to self: blog about stitching in the ditch)  This method is not as easy as it looks and yet it is the one that everyone suggest to all beginners.  Stitching outside the ditch is just as effective and less stressful.

I used polyester batting, not my favorite but again this is for a wee little person.  The blocks themselves needed to be quilted, but I didn’t want to take away from the owls.  I stitched as close as I could around the outside of each owl and then on the inside of the white eye sections. Still needing more quilting, I put hearts in the owl’s bellies and little hearts up in the corners of the blocks. It was important to me that the quilting did not take away from the owls and stayed as much as it could in the background.  I also wanted the quilt to stay soft and fluffy.  Knowing I could not stitch perfect hearts, I digitized them too and quilted them with my embroidery machine.

Striped binding cut on the bias and it was done.  The quilt made it to the birthday party actually wrapped.  PHEW, another successful month.