Friday, October 31, 2008

October Quilting Accomplishments

As I type this I really don't have an idea on how productive I was or not. It's always a surprise for me when I put two blog screens side by side and scroll through each day of the month to see what I did or didn't do.




  1. Quilted and Bound the Moon and Stars Baby Quilt

  2. Started compiling a "Quilt Retreat Tips" section

  3. Made blocks 3, 4 & 5 for my Paper Pieced Sewing Room Valances

  4. Finally cut the curtains for the Living Room and Bed Room. Only managed so far to sew the top of one set. Finishing this has to be a priority for the first week of November.

  5. Cut and Pieced an Oriental "Feeling Groovy" Quilt top for a shop sample. It's been quilted at the shop and I've got the binding on but it's only hand sewn down so far on one side.

  6. Finished assembling my Halloween Quilt, added the borders, loaded it for quilting, made three passes and decided the tension was way wacked. I'll probably be ripping it out until NEXT Halloween.

  7. Managed to fix a spelling error in an appliqued phrase.

  8. Cut, Appliqued, Quilted and bound the "The Witch is In" wallhanging. Now she just needs some crystals attached for glitz.

  9. Pieced a heart block so we could figure out the pattern.

  10. Pieced, Quilted, Bound and Labeled the Fresh Squeezed BQ2 Quilt.

  11. Had a cleaning mess...managed to remove the finish off the kitchen floor while trying to get it to look clean.

  12. Planned JJJ's Awesome Quilting Adventure.

  13. Finally hung things on the walls in our Townhouse.

  14. Made 4 Moda U Blocks for a shop quilt

  15. Had a fantastic quilty weekend with Jill, Max, Maisy, Mom, Jen & Sherry. Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5, Post 6, Post 7

  16. Went on a Shop Hop to Madison and back.

  17. Invented a new Drink

  18. Made two Bats

  19. A Stitchin CHix Bag for Jill

  20. Started my Brand X Courier Bag

  21. Made 4 Thangles Blocks

  22. Quilted, Hand Bound all 6 Phrases for Ethan's Bedroom

  23. Started an Applique Quilt for Greg & Lisa's daughter

  24. Typed up and presented Part 1 of my Online Applique Class

Ethan's Phrases

Wow, I feel like I've been working on these for an eternity and it's only been since the second week in September. They're finally finished and will get shipped out to my cousin Erin this week.

Now keep in mind...I didn't come up with the phrases, I just made what was emailed to me. =) These are phrases that they have picked up along the way; from coaches they liked, parents, etc.

I even hand sewed all the binding down, can you believe it?

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This project also reminded me of a lot of applique tips that I've forgotten along the way. You don't use a skill for a while, you begin to forget the small things that matter most.




Thursday, October 30, 2008

What a Day!

We had our Halloween Party at work today. There’s typically a costume contest and when I started here 7+ years ago there was high participation; maybe 80% of employees dressed up. Now it’s down to about 10%. I wasn’t going to dress up and at the last minute (like 10 minutes before I left for work) decided to be a Tomato Pin Cushion. My costume consisted of a headband that I tied green ribbon on for a stem and my Rosie the Quilter sweatshirt turned inside out since it’s red and a bunch of safety pins. Pretty lame.


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Now, my friend Diane always has the most awesome costumes. I swear she starts planning the day after Halloween. This year she was an old ghost and wow…it was a fantastic costume! I’m so happy that she won first place because really she should win every year.


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We had a pot luck lunch and I managed to eat something with nuts in it. What kind; I’m not sure. Which food; not sure of that either. But, I know my reactions at this point and with how sudden it came on, it can’t be mistaken for anything else. It came on almost immediately after eating dessert in the amount of time it took to walk from the lunch room to my desk. My breathing was bad, I started coughing pretty hard, I was itching something fierce on my face and arms and my throat started to close. I even had my epi pen out on my desk at the ready. I popped three Benadryl first and my breathing started to ease. By the end of the work day I was just tired from the Benadryl.

After work I put sewed down the binding on the Fresh Squeezed BQ2 Quit and then headed off to get a hair cut. Afterwards I met Mike at our favorite Mexican Place; El Matador for dinner. On the way home I stopped at Kohl’s Department Store to scope out some Christmas Present Ideas.

Back at home, I sewed the label onto BQ2 and Mike took some pictures for me:


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Mike urged me to go upstairs and put my pj’s on so I could see the mischief that Holly got into while we were at dinner. The little snot pulled a roll of toilet paper out of the package from the bathroom and did a pretty good job at shredding it and leaving it on the roll all at the same time.


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We watched TV for a bit and I worked on hand sewing the binding on the Feeling Groovy quilt. I got an entire long side done so about 92 inches. My goal is to do a side a day until it’s done. Not sure how realistic that is but it’s worth a shot.

Can we talk about thimbles? I seem to be on the quest to find a good one. I’m currently using a cheapie metal one. It’s 18mm and I use it on my middle finger. It could probably stand to be a mm or two larger. I think. For all I know I could put a bit larger one on and hate it. Mean while my middle finger is going through the ringer. I’m not exactly getting a blister but it’s far from a callus. It’s almost like the skin is just sluffing off where the thimble has been rubbing. It’s not like I need an expensive thimble here but man, it would be nice to have one that’s comfy and fits. Why is it thimbles are mainly sold in packaging that is not conducive to trying them on and putting back those that don’t fit? You’re basically buying blindly especially when you don’t’ know how many mm they are supposed to be. I don’t know if I have a small, medium or large middle finger in the world of thimbles!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Machine Applique Class - Part One

I am not an expert. I repeat, I am NOT AN EXPERT. I've done a good amount of appliqué; I've learned a lot from mistakes I've made, I’m sharing what I know.

Throw your ideas out the window of starting in with a project right away. We're going to discuss a few things and then practice a few things before really beginning. Just read along and don’t start anything yet.

Choose a pattern based on your skill level. A good example of this would be starting with something from Art to Heart instead of McKenna Ryan.





Versus




Do you see on the Art to Heart book cover all of the projects have larger pieces and on the McKenna Ryan pattern there are multiple layers and teeny tiny pieces? There will be time to work up to the super detailed stuff of McKenna Ryan later on. Don’t start with something with a million and one pieces; doing so would just be setting yourself up to hate appliqué.

I'm sure everyone has an appliqué pattern of some kind in their stash. Pull it out and let's take a look at a few things.

Is your pattern drawn backwards or do you need to reverse the image first? This is especially important with words and logos. I made myself a pattern a few years back; it was the Milwaukee Brewers Retro Logo. I had just finished tracing all 12 logos - 6 pieces for each one. Even had it ironed onto my fabric and quite a few of them cut out when I realized I never flipped my template over. Everything was going to be backwards when I went to iron it down. If your pattern looks the same as if you were looking at the finished product then you need to reverse the image first.


I would need to trace my pattern backwards like this:


To get this result:



Wait trace onto what??? What is she talking about?!?!

You are going to need to transfer your appliqué pattern onto a paper backed fusible web. I'm talking about Heat and Bond Light, Steam a Seam (Light, 2 or Regular), Wonder Under, something of that nature. There are different kinds on the market; new types are coming out all the time. Don't be afraid to try a new product.

For years I only used Heat and Bond Light because it was all that I knew about. It wasn't until recently that I started using some of the Steam a Seam products. Honestly you need to try them all little by little and decide what is going to work best FOR YOU, for the project that you're working on, for the time frame that you're working in, for what is available in your neck of the woods; etc. I could tell you what I like or dislike about each one but all that would accomplish would be you saying you're only going to use XYZ because some blog lady told you to. You need to develop your own tastes ladies.




The fusible that you choose needs to be one that you can sew through. For example, Heat and Bond has Ultra Hold in a red package or bolt end and Heat and Bond Light in a purple package or bolt end. The Red packaging is not meant to be sewn through. It's meant for ironing down; leaving it be, putting paint around it; etc. Don't decide that you're just going to try using it with your sewing machine because it's all you have. Seriously...don't do it. It's not meant for the machine. It's not worth it for your sanity sake or for your pocket book.




I typically just trace onto my fusible web by placing the pattern underneath it, I can generally see it well enough. I like using a mechanical pencil. If you can't see it well you might want to use a light box. I use the phrase Light Box rather loosely because there are tons of methods to use to go about this without having to spend any money. You can kill your shoulders by trying to trace while it's on your window. If you have a table that opens up to add leaves to it, you can make your own light box by pulling the table apart, popping one of your acrylic rulers on top and a lamp underneath. Get Cre8tive!




Once my designs are traced onto the fusible I break out a paper scissors and I rough cut around the designs. If I’m working on something with multiple colors I’ll group those together and then iron them onto the fabric using the least amount of fabric possible. I then rough cut around the pieces that I’ve ironed down so that I have a more manageable piece to cut out.

Be careful when you're ironing your fabric to your fusible. One slip of the iron and it's into your fusible and next thing you know you've got gunk on the bottom of your iron and you're dragging it all over your project, your next project, your ironing board cover. Spend a few bucks; they sell hot iron cleaner in the stores in a tube. Have it on hand; that stuff is a lifesaver. Also, don't crank your iron up as high as it can go when working with fusible. You're going to want to actually read the directions to see what temperature you should be working with. For example, with Heat and Bond if your iron is too hot the fusible web actually melts into your fabric becoming hard and difficult if not impossible to appliqué around. I once spent 8 hours trying to go around Santa's beard...I speak from experience here. After you have a few of these mishaps it might just be worth it to buy a cheap $10 iron and use it just for fusible projects. Notice that I didn't say use an old iron? Yeah, I did that...but the temperature was way off, it became too hot and there was no controlling it. That was part of the problem with Santa's Beard and why it took me 8 hours to appliqué down.




If you really want to avoid gunking up your iron you can use an appliqué pressing sheet. It has a few different uses. You can put it over your fabric and fusible web to iron them together. You can later assemble your pieces on the sheet and then peel them off as one larger unit to iron down to your fabric. If you get any fusible on the sheet, once it cools you just wipe it off.





Once you cut your appliqué pieces out, iron them onto your backing fabric. I typically cut my backing fabric to be about an inch larger than the finished project. I cut my background down to size once I am finished appliquéing.




Stabilizer - Is it really necessary? If you're saying probably not then I'd bet you haven't dabbled too far into the arena of appliqué. I'm a firm believer in it. What kind you're going to need to use depends on the depth of your project. When I did the phrases for Ethan's nursery there were so many letters so I needed to go with a more heavy duty stabilizer than I normally use. I had no idea what to use so I showed Julie the problem I was having and she recommended Sulky's Totally Stable instead of the Stitch and Tear that I had been using. How do you know what to use? A lot of it is going to be trial and error. I can use stitch and tear for most projects. It just keeps your stitches looking nice and even and if you're satin stitching you won't get the horrible tunneling effect. Don't have any stabilizer on hand? Get cre8tive. Pull out a coffee filter, use a sheet of copy paper, a paper towel the ideas are endless. It’s worthwhile to spend a bit of time on the Sulky web site just learning what is out there.




Needles – Most people don’t give their sewing machine needles any thought at all. If you’re in that camp, it’s ok to stay there until you begin having problems. Don’t go out and buy a load of needles just because XYZ blog lady told you to. However, I do have a few recommendations.



  • Topstitch needles – Similar to Sharps in their point but has an extra large eye and a large groove to accommodate thicker topstitch thread. Helps prevent loops from forming on the underside of fabric or shredding and breaking of the thread. You’re not just sewing through two layers of fabric like when you’re piecing a top; you’re going through 2 or more layers of fabric AND glue.


  • Metallic needles – Also a sharp point, also a larger eye and a longer scarf (the groove above the eye.


  • Embroidery needles – have a special design in the scarf and eye to prevent shredding and breakage common to fine decorative threads.



Bobbin Thread – You’re going to want to use a bobbin thread that is strong and thin. While I’ve used Bottom Line by Superior in my bobbin for quilting it never dawned on me until recently to use it with applique. It’s fabulous!! If you don’t have any Bottom Line just use a thread that is the same weight or thinner than the top thread.




Top Thread – Honestly, you can use whatever works for you. Over the years I have accumulated a very wide variety of threads in all different types. Cotton, Polyester, Rayon, Metallic, Wool, Viscose. I typically choose based off of what color looks best and then I may hunt through my stash until I find a lighter weight version of it. That being said, I prefer to use Polyester or Cotton for Applique. I recently tried Bottom Line thread for the top and that works fabulously too. If it’s a thread that you’ve never appliquéd with before you might want to take some practice stitches, not only on fabric but on a fabric/fusible web combo. If it turns out to be problematic, ditch it for that project sooner than later. Don’t torture yourself. Keep in mind that thread is wound two different ways; stacked and figure eight. It can be put on your machine two different ways, horizontal and vertical. Try changing the location of your thread and the way it comes off of the spool. There are times when a coffee mug behind my machine with the spool rattling around inside of it is the best method. (Understanding how and why thread is wound the way it is, is a topic for a completely different tutorial.)


Applique Foot - You want to use a foot that is going to give you visibility. You can see where you're going but on the bottom of the foot there is a little cut out area for your dense stitching to pass through. There is also a closed toe applique foot. Any foot in your stash will do the job but if you already own one, this is the foot you should be using - one of these probably came with your machine. If you have a foot pressure guage on your machine you are going to want to loosen it so that you can move your fabric moves more freely under your foot.


Appliqué foot Open Toe Version

Clear All-Purpose / Applique Foot for Low Shank  04174 Closed Toe Version





Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Applique

I wanted to do a little something extra special for our friends Greg and Lisa. Greg was one of two friends that helped us during our move. He even drove in an hour plus to do so; leaving his wife and newborn baby home. Considering Mike has helped 98% of our friends move multiple times over the last years it was pretty disappointing when we went to move and no one could be bothered. The bottom line is that Mike is never helping anyone move ever again.

Anyway, back to my wanting to do something extra special. I decided that for their daughters baby quilt I would go all out. I'd take the time to do an appliqued quilt. It wasn't until I started pulling fabrics that I realized the size of this quilt per the pattern. It's something like 54 x 72 and it's in a baby quilt book!! That aside; I'm really looking forward to making it. The animals are even cute without the applique.

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Now, the pattern told me to cut the background squares at 12-1/2". I want to advise that if you're ever doing applique like this onto a background square, even if you're using stabilizer, cut your square larger so that if for some reason it does distort slightly you can still cut the block down to the proper size instead of it being too small and needing to be stretched. I cut my background squares at 13-1/2" each.

A few of my friends have been after me to do an online Applique Class so I will be using this project to do that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

7 Years

Today is our anniversary. Our 7th Anniversary to be exact.

Mike and I went out for dinner at a resturant called Claim Jumper; they give you so much food it isn't even funny. We went in wanting to eat light so we could have dessert. Yeah, that didn't happen! We'll go back one night JUST for dessert!

It's getting pretty cold here much earlier than normal. In past years it's always been a thing where Mom and I can see who can go the longest without turning the heat on. 2 years ago we made it to December 1st. Last year we made it to November 15th. We still haven't turned the heat on this year but wow...it was 62 degrees INSIDE our house. We're dealing with a townhouse versus our apartment. I'm really not sure how much longer we'll last without the heat turned on. I had 6 quilts on me when I went to bed. I obviously needed them because I didn't kick off a single one during the night. I joked that I'd have to make more and how it would be such a hardship; something I was being forced to do. LOL. We'll just have to bring out some of the quilts that have been out of the rotation for the last few years!

It's also time to finish up my curtains so that they're on the walls before we need to put the plastic up on the windows. We've also been tossing around the idea of a curtain between our living room and front door - there's quite a breeze that comes in there!!

Bottom line; Mike misses Max his own personal furnace!!

There's still a little good in the world

When we were at the quilt show on Sunday we ran across Sarah from Dovely Quilts. I first met Sarah 2 years ago at this same quilt show while I was sitting in the Pillow Cases for Soldiers booth. When the show was slow we chatted. She's always remembered me whenever I've stopped into her shop or seen her at other shows. This last spring she closed the door of her brick and morter shop but has still kept her online store.

Sarah tracked me down while I was looking at the quilts and asked if I was still making Pillow Cases for soldiers. Of course; I just sent out 30+ to Heather's unit. She wanted to donate some fabric and would I come back to her booth with her.

Talk about generous!! Sarah gave me 6 yards of assorted solids, 3 yards of assorted flannels and about 8 yards on a BOLT of a fabric that will go with most of the fabric. I bet I can get 15-20 pillow cases out of this donation!


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Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU SARAH!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wandering Foot Quilt Show

The Wandering Foot quilt show was today so Mom and I ran over to check it out. They used a new venue this year. It previously had been held at the Oak Creek Community Center and this year moved to the Oak Creek Lions Club. I’ve gotta say, I think the Lions Club was a much better choice for the quilt show.

Since this is a smaller show you can tell which quilters are friends and sew together just by their entries. You can tell who has taken classes together. You can tell who has swapped fabric. Each white gloved lady (I know they have a name and I just can’t think what it is) is willing to gush about their friends work and say, did you see this? This? And that?? Can you believe how great her quilting looks? It’s nice, I like that a lot! I don’t know what happened; I really thought I took more pictures.




Mom and I each picked up one or two things from the vendors. Mainly items that we wished we had purchased while they were in still in stock at PW. I did find an awesome giraffe fabric for a baby quilt that I’m working on.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Maureen and Mom came over tonight to sew. Maureen brought Emma with her and a bracelet for me. It's sparkly and the picture doesn't do it any justice. It's Swarovsky Crystals. It has a magnetic clasp...it's awesome!!!

Maureen also brought with her all of the things that she worked on while she was at her retreat last weekend. Holy cow!! Set that woman free and she can quilt like the wind!!!! I bow to her! Giggle.

While she was here we gave her blog a makeover and made it a new header, new name, new web address. She'll be getting posts posted shortly.

As far as quilting is concerned. I put the binding on the three phrases that I have left for Ethan. Now I just need to hand sew them down which I'll do this next week during my lunch breaks. I also got the binding on the BQ2 quilt. I'll get that sewn down tomorrow. The Feeling Groovy Quilt came back from the quilter and it looks awesome. I need to get the binding on that and then it can go hang in the shop.

I didn't get much sewing done but I did quite a bit of tracing. I'm starting a new baby quilt tomorrow for our friends Greg and Lisa. I wanted to do something a little more special for them because they helped us move. Mike and Greg are going to go to Minnesota next weekend to visit Laura and Chris and to deliver the BQ2 quilt, I'd like to be able to send the baby quilt along for Greg and Lisa at the same time so it will be a busy week in the Cre8tive Quilter Studios!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Insane Ramblings

From the "things that piss me off file" I bring you the following gripes:

I've posted previously about my friend Tom who all through high school and college and beyond was pretty much a resident of our home and was part of our family - my brother. (See Graduation Quilt and Brother type Person)

I know I shouldn't let it bother me but dang it I do. He got married over the weekend and I found out through the friend of a friend that I ran into over the summer. As the date of the wedding grew closer the madder I got. I know it's pretty passive aggressive but I just posted a comment to their online wedding guest book that said Congratulations and nothing more. My feelings are hurt damn it.

The other thing on my gripe list today happened today at work. We were in a meeting and we've gotten a lot of new product hand outs. I was in the store one day, I bought a binder, I put it all in (We're talking like a ream of paper here folks). I go into the meeting and before it starts I'm given shit by my co-workers for having a binder. THEN, our boss hands out empty binders to everyone. But see, it progresses from there and a comment is made about why don't I just "knit it a cover."

You know what? I'm a quilter. I'm not a knitter, I'm not a crocheter. You want to poke fun of my hobby and ask why I don't just quilt it a cover that's one thing. Maybe I need a little wall hanging that says, "Quilters Don't Drop Stitches."

Like I said, I don't know why but these two things just irked the hell out of me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Productivity Plus

OMG, I think I was more productive tonight than I was all weekend. Not really but it sure feels that way.

I came home from work and after snuggling with the dog who after they grew a culture from her urine turns out that she has a freaking Staph infection I hit QSE. I finished quilting the BQ2 Fresh Squeezed Quilt.

I threw my "The Witch is In" wallhanging on and actually quilted that with monofiliment in the bobbin and on top with no problems what so ever. It went soooo quickly it wasn't even funny. I even got the binding sewn down!!


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Next I loaded the last three Phrases for Ethan's room. Those quilted up in a snap too.


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I headed downstairs where I hand sewed the binding on my Courior Bag flap.


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Next I sewed the binding on the "The Witch is In" wall hanging and only have about 6 inches of binding left to hand sew down.

That was the most productive 5 hours EVER!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An unexpected thank you

I received the greatest email from Heather. She forwarded me an email from one of the guys she's deployed with who received one of the pillow cases that I had made. It said:


Jen,

Please except my deepest appreciation to you and all of those who were a
part of the effort in making pillow cases for us. As you can see in the
attached photo I have put mine to good use. It couldn't have been
anymore perfect than the colors of our nation, Red, White and Blue!
Having served 22 years in the Navy and now supporting the Fighting
Redcocks of VFA-22 of which Heather is assigned I will always have
something to remind me of the support we get from the folks back home.
Again, thank you so much!

GOD Bless,

Scott



Pillow case



That's what makes sewing for soldiers worth while!! I don't do it to get a thank you but man, it's soo neat to get one!



For those of you who may not support the war; just remember its' our American Soldiers over there fighting to protect our nation. Above all, we still need to support THEM.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sniff Sniff, Jill and the Kids went home. =(

Well here it is, the last day of Jill's visit and I'm so sad that she'd gone.



We were a little slow moving in the morning. Both of us had projects we wanted done before she left so we got to work. I finished the four Thangles Blocks. Not sure what I'm going to do with them yet but they sure are sharp.



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Here's a picture of our messy work area before the clean up began.



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We headed off for one last meal at IHOP. I do believe that the turtle was satisfied. What do you think?



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As Jill loaded up the car and headed back to Ohio, Holly and I were sad to see our friends leave. I'm already looking forward to next time.


I promised Jill I wouldn't take a nap so I headed up stairs and loaded the BQ2 quilt onto the frame. I started having problems on the second to last pass so I decided to take a break. Giggle...I took a nap.


While I waited for Jill to call saying she made it home, I worked on ripping the threads out of the Halloween quilt. Wow...that is going to take me quite a while!!