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March: Hunter’s Star

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A few years back I bought a Quiltsmart pattern for a Hunter’s Star and fabric to make it with.  Yes, this ended up in the closet.  So for March, I brought it out.  It is an interesting concept really.  Basically you use a printed fusible interfacing to make the blocks.  Super Duper Simple.

Cut up all the pieces you are going to use.  There are a lot of pieces here folks, so I broke them into stacks of ten to keep up.  This is all the fabric ready to go.

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OH and then you have to cut apart the printed blocks and that was a pain because they are not in straight columns/rows so no rotary cutting. I’m sure this decision was financially based, but it is not a good one.

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Fuse fabric to the foundation.  There are a few steps here so you need to be careful when fusing, because you are leaving the corners bare.  I have an inexpensive iron with a Teflon sole that I use just for fusibles.  If it gets gunky I can wipe if off with a damp paper towel when the iron is cool.

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And then sew along the lines!  How simple is that?

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Finally there is some trimming to do.  I got a little sassy here and paid for it later.  Cut on the lines.  Do not, I repeat, do not trim with the block right side up.  No matter how careful you are, it will haunt you like a like a ghost in October.

Then sew your blocks together and Voila…..another quilt top is done.  It is time to celebrate.  Well, almost time at least.

There were problems where the stars come together.  You have 8 points meeting, plus the added fusible so basically double the fabric; kind of.  I had a difficult time getting the points to lay flat. I swirled, I hammered, I cussed, and then finally I let it go, like a helium balloon.  Originally I was going to put this on the frame, but after I saw it put together I didn’t want to distract from the piecing. Then there was the bulky seam challenge. Finally there was the gorgeous fabric I found for the backing.  I decided to quilt it in the ditch with monofilament thread.

The quilt itself is a little stiff and will probably soften up when washed.  The yellow fabric was way too light for this method.  I know you can’t see it in the picture, but it is very see thru and in some areas I can see the lines of the fusible. All in all, I can’t say I would do it again or any fusible for that matter.  Yes, it is easy and yes, it looks nice. And yes, if I had never done it, I would try it. And finally yes it is a good method for those who do not have the experience or desire to piece the old fashion way.  And by old fashion, I mean with a good machine and a quarter inch foot.

 

I did however come up with a way to make the Hunter’s Star block in my head and if I ever really sit down and do it, I will share.

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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.

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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.

Continue reading The Life of a UFO

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International Quilt Day!

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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?

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Why I love Painter’s Tape

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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.

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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.

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Clean as you go?

My mother was a clean as you go person. Kept up with the dishes when she was cooking. You either know or are that type. Me? Not so much. I’m more of a toss around kind of gal. I always find myself playing scavenger hunt while in the middle of a project. Fortunately for me, I have multiple seam rippers, stilettos, and other important notions. In my kitchen I have multiple measuring cups.

There are pros and cons to my way. I don’t get caught up in the straightening up while I’m creating. I have a mess to deal with when I’m done. Honestly, I’m not bothered when it is time to put all my toys away. This is my time to reflect and while I’m clearing my space, I’m also clearing my mind for the next challenge. Most would say that my mind is never really cleared and I will admit they are correct. Every once in a while I suffer from a creative explosion. This usually happens while I’m driving and have no way to jot down my ideas.

OOPS; there I go, getting off topic again.

Bottom line.

There really is no wrong or right way.

The important thing is that you spend time doing what your enjoy.

No matter your passion.

No matter your style.

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Read, Set: Change your mind!

Have you ever been in the middle of something and then POOF you drop it for something that has a higher priority.  Quilters do this all the time; it’s how we end up with so many UFO’s.  For me, that happened last week.  I had completed a quilt top and was in the middle of pressing it when I realized the baby I was going to make a quilt for was going to turn one this month.  Originally this was going to be a baby shower gift and then a Christmas gift.  If I didn’t do it NOW, I would have this lovely collection of pastels and no baby to make a quilt for.

Off I went to the quilt shop to buy my background fabric.  Apparently I used the original background fabric for something else, but for the life of me I cannot remember what.  Perhaps I had never bought it in the first place.  I spent some time embroidering the blocks over the weekend.  Today I cut and pieced the lattice and cornerstones.  One small border and it will be ready to quilt.  I have 10 days; I’m right on track.

Focus:

My life is a lot like my quilting habits. Do you ever do the pin ball game when you’re cleaning?  This is how it works.  You start in the bedroom, find something that doesn’t belong there, take it to the kitchen, clean the counter, find something that doesn’t belong there, take it to the family room, etc.  By the end of the day, you have been running around your home picking up and cleaning and have nothing to show for it. I’m like that when I talk too.  I start talking about one subject, which makes me think of another topic, and off I go.

It is time for me to focus.  This will not be an easy task, but I’m always up for a challenge.  If I want to reach my goal of completing a project a month, I must commit to one project at a time.  Ok, maybe that IS asking too much.

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January: Wayward Star

January 2014
January 2014

I wanted to start the year with something small.  This would guarantee at least my first month would be successful.  I call this Wayward Star.

First I needed a pattern.  I was interested in the Carpenter’s Star, but didn’t want to make a full size quilt.  This is a very easy pattern made from half-square triangles and squares.  The beauty of the design is in the color placement creating dimension.  I went to Electric Quilt 7 to lay out my pattern.  Not being versed in the software led to some challenges; like saving.  (*note to self: sign up for EQ7 classes.) Fortunately I had taken a picture of my computer screen so all was not lost.  With this picture I was able to come up with the amount of each color combination I needed.

Continue reading January: Wayward Star