Welcome to my blog, we're talking about quilting and other good stuff. I'm glad you stopped by ... look around, add a comment, become a follower if you feel inclined, tell your friends about me, and come back soon!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Patchwork for Winter Olympic Games

Patchwork quilts inspired the "branding" for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia, yes!!

The patchwork colors being used are representative of winter, spring, summer, and autumn.

A few examples of applications - a Superjet, and high-speed train and car, and even SIM card in the signature "livery."

I believe the flags will do us quilters proud!

Sew forth and sew on...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A little of this and a little of that

Hi everybody, welcome to Tuesday in blogland!  My retirement counter seems to be moving faster than ever, can you believe it?  I'm getting all tingly inside -- and outside too!

Yesterday mid-morning I walked outside and saw my neighbor who lives two doors down from me industriously raking and digging in his flower box (the little patch of dirt between the sidewalk and street).  I went down and was chatting with him and I noticed -- he had put astro-turf in his flower box!  Yes, you read it right - ASTRO TURF!  I said "uhmmm, is that astro turf?"  He grinned and said "yeah!  I don't like fooling with plants and flowers, its too much trouble."  I said, "but won't weeds grow up around that?  You have real grass in your yard, why not put the same thing here?"  He goes, "it's too hard to maintain, people will keep walking over it."  At that point I figured I was still ahead, so I left it alone.  We chatted a few more minutes about azaleas, gladioli, river rock and mulch, then I went shopping.

I finished sewing all my blocks for the W-E quilt, oh yes!  When I pressed a few blocks and measured them, they were slightly too small, oh no!  My friend Felicia wrote an article in our April WeeBee newsletter about maintaining that scant 1/4 inch - I forgot about "the scant" when I was sewing them together.  It's not too hard to fix though; I can ease two of the seams in each block to bring the size up where I need it, then I can square them up.

Try doing that 30 times... makes you want to slowwww down.

Meanwhile, in my enthusiasm I cut way too many strips!  So... I went through the blocks and exchanged some fabrics I wasn't too crazy about for some that I thought were prettier.  I think I have a pretty decent mix, I can't wait to get it sewn together!  Slowly, of course...

Our guild meeting Saturday was really great and I think everybody enjoyed themselves, despite the frigid temperature in the rec center.  There were several mini workshop/demos on hand and machine sewing techniques and there were cutting demos on the GO! and Cricut.  When we stopped for refreshments, a bunch of people (including yours truly) took their food outside for an "al fresco" experience in the sun!

Someone mentioned Guild meetings on Saturdays - I think this is a good thing because a lot of our members work during the week, so Saturday is an excellent choice!  We not only have the benefit of a meeting, but we can do more things in the time we're together.  Years ago I joined a guild that met on Wednesday nights but that got old after awhile... I discovered I didn't like getting a bunch of stuff together and going to a meeting in the evening, after working all day. 

Well, enjoy your day.  I plan to get more work done on my Motown quilt, which I'd like to share with you but can't just yet. Sew forth and sew on til later

Monday, May 23, 2011

They don't make them like they used to

Question:  how many irons does a quiltmaker need? (Sounds like "how many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?") 

Answer:  just one, if it works!

This is the last iron I bought; it's a Sunbeam with a retractable cord. 
I got one with a pink window just because it's what they had, I didn't have a preference, just as long as I could see the water level. I use it for general purpose ironing, and it's the one I bought just after this one went ka-blooey: 

It's a Shark that I got at Target.  The crazy thing is, it went bad after I'd had it for about 10 months or so - won't turn on.  I still had the paperwork and box, so I called the manufacturer, they gave me a trouble number or whaterver you call it.  I was told to send it back, $insured, with a $handling $fee and they would try to fix it.  If they couldn't fix it they would send me another used iron, but there was no guarantee on it.  That's been several weeks and I still haven't mailed it; quite frankly I don't want to throw good money after bad.  I never did like it anyway, it just looks stupid.

Now that's the one I got after this one started acting wierd:
It's a Black and Decker "Auto Advantage," whatever that means.  I had it a long time; it's designed to shut off after a certain length of time, which made it a hassle if you're working on a quilt.  Then it reached the point where it would just shut off after a few minutes and didn't want to steam properly, the water just runs out through the holes.

Now this baby I've had for years and years:
It's a GE and it wasn't designed to shut off after an interval, it does not have a time-out device, tipover warning, retractable cord, fabric content sensor and does not make coffee.  Something went wrong with the on-off switch and it doesn't shut off - if you plug it in, it's ON.  It does not hold water so you can't use it for steam, but it works fine for me when I'm sewing.  That's the one I take with me for guild/bee meetings and workshops.  Cost?  Around $9 about 15 years ago.

Sew forth and sew on ti later

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Dessert!

I thought you'd enjoy this double slice layer cake quilt tutorial - it's super easy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Easy Street

Hello everybody, happy Saturday to you.  Yesterday evening we hit our 10,000th visitor, yaaaay!  Could it have been you??

I woke early this morning and cut some more fabrics while watching "Annie" on tv... I always laugh when they do their thing to "Easy Street"...

And then later Annie is all sad-faced because her real parents weren't found...
poor little tyke.

I'm on easy street with this wickedly easy quilt I've been working on!  (Did I ever tell you where you can get the pattern?  Go here:  http://www.byannie.com/  She also has other good stuff!)

By now I've sewn a wicked bunch of blocks - I didn't count them this time, I just know it's "a wicked bunch" -

and I cut loads more strips...
I don't know how many there are, I just know it's "loads!" 

So now I'm all set to sew some more, but this time I know I have a big variety to mix and match.  I've decided to use a solid between the cross-cut blocks, rather than a piece of the African fabrics, to give it more zing.  So ... I'll wait til they're all sewn and cross cut, then decide on the solid fabric.  Sound like a plan?  Sure it does!  Someone asked where I get my fabrics... there's a shop I go to in Silver Hill, Maryland (Paradise Fabrics) which has a large inventory of African fabrics at a very reasonable price.  Every blue moon I'll see something at JoAnn's that strikes my fancy and I'll pick it up.

Today at guild meeting we're scheduled to have several mini-workshops and a Cricut demo, but I think I'll have time to sew at least one or two more blocks.  Every little bit is another step down easy street!

Enjoy your day - sew forth and sew on til later...

Monday, May 16, 2011

more signs of Spring

Hi everybody, I hope you're enjoying spring so far, it'll segue into summer before you know it!  I just happened to hear one spring-time ritual I had forgotten about being performed -- the annual Clean Up The Alley Day!
This is a shot looking into the alley behind my house, taken from my enclosed porch (also known as my computer/tv room!)  They did a decent job cleaning up the dead leaves and debris along the fence, but the rascals didn't clean beneath the bushes - which, in my opinion, should be cut back.

Oh well...

I made more blocks for my wickedly easy quilt, I now have about a dozen or so done, ready to be cross-cut into 7-1/2" strips --

according to the size I want to make, I'll need 30 blocks. 

It occurred to me that I need to cut more fabric before I sew too many more, so I won't have the same ones concentrated in the same area.  Here's a bunch I'll cut from to add more variety...

That's quite a pile!

I also have more I can pull from my stash.  I didn't realize I had so much Africa fabric!!  It's all good though.

Sew forth and sew on for now...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

test blocks

After I cut a lot of strips for my Wickedly Easy quilt, I did a test block...

to be honest, I wasn't too impressed... so I made another one...

and when I combined them, they look great! 

You can see some fabric repeats in the two blocks but I can separate them in the final layout.  It's just a matter of playing around to see what I like, and I have a lot more fabric I can cut.

I also did some work on my little Motown quilt for next month; I think I'll like the final outcome. 

Sew forth and sew on til later...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

in with the new

Three things to be happy about:
(1) a good night's sleep
(2) the perfect pillow
(3) finding a sought-after book

Well, two out of three ain't bad!

I'm a great fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series; I've read the entire series in hardback several times, and I also downloaded them to my iPod. But... I only want the unabridged versions.  For a very long time I've wanted The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes but they were only available in abridged format.  I don't think so!  I want every single word she wrote in those books!  So, at the end of April Snow and Ashes became available in unabridged, and I got it, yaaaay!  Things are looking up.

I had to say goodbye to a couple of scrungy old friends...
I've had these awhile and now the left one has a hole under the bottom... right where kitty's chin would be.  So I made an executive decision and bought a new pair.  I wanted another pair of kitties but I couldn't find them - it's not as if I looked very hard!  Had to settle for these...

sock monkeys!  I'm not even a big fan of the sock monkey but I won't be staring at my feet, so that's okay.

At the office I was changing some pictures on my Webshots screen saver, swapping out anything with snow because I want spring and summer themed pictures.  Then I realized I might as well delete them because I won't be using them anymore... reality check!  In a way it made me kinda sad because I have some really nice snow pictures on there, Christmas too!  I have Webshots installed on my home PC but when I try to download pictures, McAfee's monkeys with the sledgehammers don't like it, so I haven't downloaded any new ones in a couple years.  In fact, I don't even use my screensaver at home.

Meanwhile I'm still slowly clearing out at the office, bringing junk home that I don't want to toss out, which will join the junk in the basement that I don't want to toss out.  I'm thinking it's time for a new kind of reality check down there!

Well, enjoy your day everybody; I have to pick up a sewing machine table someone is giving me.  I want this one because it has drawers, which my old one that came with my Singer Touch n Sew doesn't have.

Sew forth and sew on...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Create backgrounds w/crumbs

We're always looking for new ways to use up our scraps, including those tiny pieces that are even too small to qualify as scraps - crumbs!  Here's how I used some of my crumbs as a background for a small quilt, inspired by this picture. 

First I grabbed some crumbs and scraps in the same color family for the background, blue in this case. 

Depending on the look you're going for, you might want to stick within the same color range - light or medium or dark. For this little project, it didn't really matter though - I wanted the impression of a sky with "something" going on in the background. I found a couple longish strips and started sewing on the crumbs at random until the strips were filled, then I pressed towards the small pieces. Note: When I sewed these, I wasn't overly concerned about the few bias edges, they got caught up, or stabilized, in the next round! 

small pieces on a strip
The strips were cut apart into pairs  
and the pairs were combined into larger groups until I had decent sized pieces...
At this point there's no hard and fast rule about the size, or how many pieces you combine; you're just looking to make pieces (or blocks) that you can attach to other pieces.  It helps. though, if you keep aiming for a square or horizontal shape.

Can you see my pins?  I placed them horizontally along the seam line rather than perpendicular - for me this makes the edges more stable while I'm sewing.  Of course, they're removed before the needle gets to that point!  I continued joining in this way until I had a background the approximate size I wanted,

then I trimmed it down to the final size and my background was pieced!   

And now for the foreground.  I made a pattern of the pig's face and cut a quarter circle for the sun.  Hmmm... leaves or not? Yes, definitely leaves to balance out the sun on the other side! 

I did raw edge applique on the entire piece, including the small areas of the leaves. To make the pebbled wall, I layered the fabric onto a piece of batting and filled the area with continous different-sized loops. I cut the wall along some of the larger circles to give it a ragged appearance, then I applique'd it down along the top edge.  Pin the wall or use spray adhesive to hold in place, then quilt as desired.

So here's Petunia, peeking over a stone wall, with her curly pink tail in the air! 

I used buttons for her tail; I could also have embellished with bugs, butterflies, wiggly worms, whatever... or I could have extended the leaves down the wall... but I wanted to keep this one simple.

Here's another one I did, using yellow crumbs to make the background for a larger quilt;

you can see the finished piece here.  One note though ... if you're making a large quilt, I'd try to use larger pieces for the background, else all those seams might create a challenge when you go to quilt it.  Just saying.

Here's another small one I made of a water bearer, using leftover yellow pieces from the quilt mentioned above. 

In my opinion, she doesn't need anything else except binding; the many shades in the yellow background have enough movement and texture! 

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!
Sew forth and sew on til later

Monday, May 9, 2011

eeek, a mouse!


I was sitting in traffic on Florida Avenue, just looking at buildings, trees, people... I noticed two men and a woman sitting on the stoop of a townhouse.  Suddenly the woman screamed, jumped off the stoop and backed off.  I'm wondering, what in the world is her problem??  Then one of the men yelled and jumped up, a second later the other man yelled, jumped up and took off down the street.  What in the world??  Well, from under the steps ran the biggest RAT I've ever seen!  It was the size of a kitten, I swear!  You see rats in DC, but construction seems to stir them up and you see even more.  Such is life in the city...

Someone asked about the fabric I used for my Mother's day postcard - I bought it online years ago, I believe it was at eQuilter.  At this point I don't even remember the manufacturer, and I don't think I've seen it lately.  It was very popular at the time I bought it.

I've been doing behind-the-scenes prep for a Bee challenge due next month, where we're to make a quilt based on a Motown song.  I'll be able to share that one with you after we show them the middle of June at the rec center's Friend and Family day event. 

But I can show you some prep work for a graduation quilt for my niece, who lives in North Carolina.  I've decided to make a Wickedly Easy quilt using African fabrics:

The pattern calls for 4-1/2" and 2-1/2" strips cut from fat quarters.  I don't have any FQ in african fabrics, only yardage, so I cut a couple WOF strips from each fabric.  These are the 2-1/2" strips:

Isn't it funny how fabrics look one way when they're just lying there in yardage-sized pieces, then when you cut them into strips and lay them side-by-side, they take on a whole nother look? 

Here are the 4-1/2" strips, mostly the same fabrics:

4-1/2" strips

The size quilt I'm making calls for 20 blocks... with the theory that one FQ makes one 16" block.  Since I was working with yardage, I didn't wonder whether I had a FQ's worth; I dunno, I just grabbed fabrics and started cutting.  I'll cut some more later in order to have a large variety because, as you know, I love scrappy quilts.  No worries, I can always use the leftover strips in something else. 

She graduates the first or second week in December, so I should have plenty of time to make this one.

Sew forth and sew on...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

In honor of today, I'd like to share one of my favorite postcards with you:
I made this one a few years ago as part of my guild's postcard-of-the-month series.  The mom and baby were cut from yardage and appliqued onto the postcard's background.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Foto-FInish Saturday - What is it?

Barbara at Cat Patches has chosen "What is it" as today's foto-finish theme.

So, what is it, can you tell??
fungus? spaghetti?

Nope, it's a package of rubber bands!

Click on the Foto Finish icon at the right to see more of today's theme.

Friday, May 6, 2011

black & white ufo

This month UFO #7, a black and white sampler, rotated to the top. 

This little quilt came into being when I was trying to use up some black and white scraps and didn't want to do anything that would take a long time ... yeah, right, only 10 years' worth.

It really should never have become a UFO because it's so small, but I didn't like the look after I quilted it, so I started picking out the thread.  Then - as so often happens because I have so much creativity bumping around in my head all trying to get out at the same time - I got bored with it and tossed it aside.

The border fabric is a very narrow black-and-white stripe that reads as grey.  It's roughly 22 x 22 as is; I might swap out the border or just add another one.  We'll see, as my mama used to say.

Has blogger been making improvements?  I noticed the upload button is brighter, the label window is in a different place, and there's a map you can add. 

Oh well... as always, sew forth and sew on til later