Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's a good idea to...

Check your e-mail before you go to bed! I almost didn't, but now am really glad I did because otherwise, I might have missed my day in the spotlight at HandmadeFuzion! So, I ended up staying awake until after midnight because then I just had to add a few more listings that I have been meaning to get done, and double check my listings for typos (which I probably missed anyway because it was after midnight!)

I have to say nice things about Handmade Fuzion because even though I haven't had any sales there yet, I think it is an awesome site to buy and sell handmade. It is juried, so you know that the product you get will indeed by handmade by the artist - which is the point of buying handmade, right? The administrators of the site are awesome, prompt replies to questions, and they added a special subcategory in the quilt section just for me! Isn't that great? I was very happy! I am excited to be included on the website, and hope for great things for it - it's very exciting to get in on the ground floor of a new venture and I can't wait to see how it goes.

My current project is a sample for the shop (we are getting ready for Quilt Run 101 which means lots of new samples and things to catch the eye of all those quilters!). Here are a couple of very bad pictures. Which you will see a lot of in the near future because the rain is back on the Oregon Coast. That high pressure system that was giving us glorious weather has moved on, but we need the rain, so no complaining!

The fabric in this quilt is Natural Garden by Holly Taylor, and for some reason it has not sparked a lot of interest, yet. We are hoping a sample will show everyone how lovely this line is and will help sell the remaining jelly rolls we have. I love the rich reds in this, and added a similar red as a narrow inner border, then the brown with green birds as the outer border. I got it basted yesterday, and halfway quilted! I am quilting it with a soft green on the top and off-white on the back. I'm simply doing a large meander to get it done quick, most of the samples do quite well with a simple desing, but for my own quilts I like to go a little crazy and quilt them more.
This picture also shows how messy my sewing room is at this moment. Yes, I did start cleaning then I started sewing and accumulating new projects. Time to start spending more time in the sewing room actually sewing, instead of time in the sewing room on the internet! I also need to finish a lot of half done projects, and get rid of a lot of extraneous stuff. I think you will be seeing some e-bay auctions coming up for some books and magazines, and who knows what I will do with all the extra fabric! Yes, I have my work cut out for me, but when I put my mind to it, I can really accomplish a lot in a short time. Time to put my mind (and body!) to it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Zippity doo dah!

My, oh, my what a wonderful day! Finished up two samples for the shop out of Sandy Gervais' new line. It's red, white, blue and very cheerful. I totally enjoyed working with this line. While I was working on them I took a few pictures of my method of preparing for quiting so I could share it.
The first thing I do is press the back, using a little spray starch, then tape it wrong side up on my dining room table. I don't tape it too tight, just enough to make sure there are no wrinkles or ripples.
The batting goes on top of this, smoothed down and flat. I didn't have a piece of batting quite large enough for this project, so I pieced two sections of batting together to make one. Some people like to make a curved edge to stitch by layering the pieces one on top of the other and cutting a curved line with a rotary cutter, but I simply make a straight cut on one side of each piece and zig-zag together. You do have to make sure the batting pieces are the same type of batting, but this is a great way to use your extra leftover pieces.

The next step is to press the top and put it right side up on top of the batting. I use my hand to smooth out the top and make sure the seams are lying the way they should. Then I get out my mug of little safety pins and get to work. I pin about 6" apart, which is about the measurement of my thumb and first finger spread out. Once I get everything pinned I trim the edges about 1" away from the edge of the quilt. This helps prevent me from stitching any long pieces to the back of the quilt (yes, sometime this happens when I am going along at a great pace and don't pay attention to the edges). Now I'm ready for the quiting!

More new samples are coming, some pretty florals came home from the shop with me today!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

12 Blocks Done!

I have already finished 12 blocks for our block exchange and have plenty of strips left to keep going. In fact I have not noticably reduced the amount of strips on my drying rack, so I know I have plenty to make a large number of blocks. Especially considering the fact that I still have a jumble of strips and pieces to be pressed and used!

Making these is like eating potato chips, once you get started it's extremely hard to stop. I hate to put away all the strips that are pressed because I know they will just get all crinkled up again, and you should know that pressing is not my favorite part of the work! Plus I already have a mess of the muslin scraps out and might as well keep using those up. All of this is putting a crimp into my intention of moving the sewing room around, but oh, well. All in good time, I suppose.

I'm mulling through how I can arrange my room to better incorporate the design wall of fleece that I have acquired, and would like to have a spot to keep the drying rack up. It's rather a nice way to store fabric strips, and even yardage without making a pile on a horizontal surface! Plus, by getting the sewing table out of the corner I will be able to leave my serger set up and not have to put it away every time I use it. Time to get out the graph paper and work out my ideas.

I've felt like I've been in a bit of a slump this past week, but I've had a rough throat, and just not felt well physically. Hopefully I can put that behind me and get busy with some serious quilting. I have several quilts that need to be quilted, lots of ideas for other quilts, and a couple of patterns I need to work up. Am bringing home a jelly roll today to make a shop sample for Sharan, so that should inspire me to do some sewing this weekend.

I am trying to reduce my stockpile of finished products, so have been reducing the prices on some of my quilts. I've retaken pictures and given this one a fresh new name, it's waiting for a new home where it will be used and appreciated instead of sitting in my dark closet! It's new name is Victorian Rose, and I know she will make someone very happy, hopefully as a Valentine gift! Just click on the picture to see the complete listing and information.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stripping away!

This is my drying rack being taken over with strips I have pressed and prepared for making my blocks for the Quiltsy Strip Scrap Swap. I have already made 9 blocks, and there seem to be no fewer strips than when I first started! Are they multiplying when I turn my back on them? Who knows?
I am having fun looking at all the strips, but there are one or two of them that I have picked up and thought to myself that I recognize the fabric, but have no recollection of making anything using it! Very interesting! Actually I suspect that those strips just may be runaways from the quilt shop. Often Sharan will hand me a handful of scraps and say "Can you use these?" Are you kidding? I can always use fabric. Or at least hoard it for a while! Who am I to say no to pretty fabric coming home with me? I have no will power when it comes to fabric. At least when it comes to new fabric. I am getting better at not taking home other peoples old fabric. At least the old, not so nice fabrics!
I've been wanting to move the furniture in my sewing room, but that may have to wait a bit, because I like having the rack in here at the moment to hold my strips and keep them from getting all wrinkled again. Maybe eventually I will have to install a permanent sort of rack to hold pieces like this. It sure makes it handy to use them! Maybe just a long curtain rod at a good height would work. Something to think about, anyway.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Progress on Strip Robin

Made a small amount of progress on the Strip Robin quilt today. I did the lower hills, and part of the fencing. Doesn't look too bad, but I'm having an awful time stitching through the parts that are fused. The stitches skip and the thread frays something awful. I hope to make some more progress tomorrow. Need to find my original photograph and figure out where the rope attaches to the bridle. I know that is one detail that my dearest one will notice if I get it wrong!

I like how the pavement came out. I really like the satiny fabric used in one of the strips, it really looks like wet pavement! And to finish off on a tasty, non caloric note, one of the pincusions I put up for sale today. I listed one on Etsy, one on Artfire and one on HandmadeFuzion. We'll see which one sells first! They are all so cute and sweet!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Finished - Blue and Green Swap

I guess once in a while I actually need to follow my own advice! My thread breaking issues of last night were entirely solved by changing my needle. One of the first thing I advise quilters to change if they have an issue with thread. One of the things I advise doing when you start a new quilt. One of the things I did not do myself! Was that ever a waste of my time and energy - maybe next time I'll remember and just put in a new needle before I even start quilting!

I am thrilled with this quilt! It makes a bright and happy statement in my dining room, and I'm sure I will enjoy looking at it for a long time - it's just a happy quilt. I am feeling quite happy about getting this project finished, and am continuing my mission to whittle down my massive pile of projects. I started quilting my husband's quilt - the strip robin from earlier this summer. I'm stuck at the moment, it's a landscape quilt essentially and there are a lot of hills and mountains in the background and I am not sure how I want to quilt them. I did find a couple colors of thread that will work, but now I just have to get brave and start quilting. I'm sure I will be happy with how it turns out, but am just feeling a bit intimidated at the moment. Tomorrow is another day, and I plan to work on that before I let myself get distracted by any other projects!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Which Thread Should I Use?

As usual, I was trying to get started quilting and was struggling with which thread to choose. Decisions, decisions, and since I am thrifty I often use a spool that may not be full. Too often at that point I get into the problem of needing more thread! This time my choice was between three threads. One was a partial spool, one was a large spool and the third was something I had chosen for another quilt, but I thought there might have been enough for this quilt also. Of course my favorite was the partial spool, but the large spool was very similar to it. I decided that I would start with the partial spool in the center and work my way out. That way, if I ran out I could finish with the similar spool and it would not be too noticable.
I did run out with the partial spool, but I think the other one is similar enough that it will not be very noticable at all. I have had issues with thread breaking though. I took off my throat plate and filed the needle hole a bit, but am still having issues. I have quit for the night, and will change to a fresh needle in the morning and carry on. I know that some threads have given me problems, but this is a brand that hasn't been an issue in the past. I like the quilting, so far. It's probably more than what I would ordinarily do for a quilt like this, but I haven't done much quilting lately, and am enjoying it (except for the thread issue, of course!)

I hope to do more fun quilting this year, I really enjoy the process, I love the creativity in the wonderful shapes and textures of the machine quilting. It's really quilte different from quilting by hand, which I enjoy also. Next up is the Strip Robin. I think that will be fun to quilt, lots of outlining and texturing with different threads.