Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Meeting finally finished!

This was on my list of UFOs to work on this week. It's been in the bottom of my current project pile for months. I thought I was finished with it last year, but my husband (the man who is represented in the picture and the future owner of the quilt) requested that I add some words to the plain brown unquilted borders. Since this was a little out of my comfort zone I have been doing some major procrastination about it, and since he hasn't asked where the quilt just wasn't getting finished. But it was causing me a great deal of guilt every time I would look at my pile. So today was the day I decided to tackle it!

I could not believe how much I actually enjoyed the process of figuring out how to add the words and achieving the effect I wanted. At first I thought I would make a rectangle like an engraved label and cut the letters out, letting the brown show through. After booting up EQ7 and playing for a bit I decided to applique the letters directly to the border using some kind of gold colored fabric. I then went into the sewing room looking for the right fabric. I dug through my stash for a few minutes, then my eye landed on a rolled fat quarter of gold satin that was given to me by a friend. Perfect! Well, maybe. First I had to test out a couple of letters to see if it was practical to fuse and applique satin letters. To my suprise, it worked out pretty well. I wouldn't do it on something that would get a lot of wear, but this is a wall-hanging, so the tendency to fray won't matter much.

I spent a pleasant hour or so tracing and fusing, cutting, then fusing again and was thrilled at the results. I then loaded up my machine with some silk thread and stitched around the letters. I then drew an outline around my letters to look like an engraved plaque. That's the point where I took the picture. After this I added some stitching that looks like wood grain on the rest of the brown border. I did some more stitching on the body of the quilt, fixing my husbands hair so it's not so white, and adding some white to the horse's rear foot. Now I just have to sew the hanging sleeve on and it is finished! I'm so happy to get this done - no more guilt, and my husband will have his quilt to hang in his office.

Maybe next time I won't procrastinate so much about doing something I'm not confident with. After all, doing something badly is better than never doing anything at all!

Happy Sewing!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ups and Downs

Seems like life is just full of ups and downs. Some of them are big and some of them are small. Somehow they all seem to even out for the most part. I'm always grateful for the high points and try to enjoy every moment, and when I am in a low I try to look for the bright side - I think that there is nothing to be gained in wallowing in your misery.

Sometimes it seems like when you've had a big up - like a wonderful trip of your dreams to a great place like Paris - that you end up paying for it with a bit of a down time. I guess that's normal, but I don't like it. I'd much rather be in my usual happy place, puttering around in my sewing room doing this and that. But I'm getting there again!

I'm ready for some new inspirations - isn't this a lovely one? It makes me think it's time to brush up on my applique skills! But, just like when you have a meeting you start out with the old business - before I go starting some new projects, I am working on finishing up some neglected ones. Many thanks to Pat Sloan and her blog for getting me organized and fired up about working on some of those things that are just hanging about my sewing room. So far, I've finished up a table runner and a wall-hanging. I'm thinking through what I need to do to finish up a quilt for my husband - he wants words on it. I think I might just tackle that tomorrow. And I have a couple of Christmas projects that I want to finish up that will be for sale. So, perhaps some finishing up will inspire some future creativity. At the least it will help create a little more room for that inspiration to show up! And in the meantime, it's another step up to a happier me!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trigonometry for Dummies?

My poor daughter was pulling her hair out last night and this morning because she has a big Trigonometry test today. After giving her the usual "good mom" advice about keeping up better on the homework and getting help before the test I hugged her and said "I remember those days. Do you suppose they make a Dummies book for Trigonometry?" At least that got a smile out of her - that, and my confession that my alternative career choice would have been stand up comedian!
I did survive Trig, though I am of absolutely no help with it now. She has a fancy scientific calculator, and I remember endless formulas done by hand. I have a vivid memory of sitting in the class one day, feeling miserably sick to my stomach but refusing to leave because I did not want to miss the class and get behind. Thankfully I passed, but sadly my life as a mother and homework monitor has pushed any residual knowledge of higher math to the inaccessible regions of my brain. My life as a quilter, though, has definitely sharpened my understanding of basic geometry!

In fact my ability with math has greatly enhanced my quilting, giving me the ability to draft blocks in any size I desire, and even makes shopping for fabric an easier task as I can estimate the amount of yardage needed for a backing or a border. I find that the reason why a lot of people stick to basic patterns is that they don't like doing the math and find that it's easier to simply follow a list than it is to create something of their own, so I am glad that my math skills have helped me create my own unique quilts!

If you are working with triangles, you definitely need to have a handle on your fractions because a half-square triangle of any certain size needs to be cut 7/8 of an inch larger for the seam allowances. And good old Pythagoras? His theorem tells us how to figure the diagonal line of the square, very useful for setting blocks on point and figuring the size of those setting triangles we'll be needing.

In order to figure yardage you are definitely going to have to do some multiplying and dividing, then you'll probably have to convert your numbers into actual yardage so knowing how to do that is important - here is a handy Cheat Sheet for converting fractions into decimals and inches into yards or decimals. I can usually do it in my head (due to working in a quilt shop!) but sometimes it's nice to have an easy print out to refer to so you can save your brain for deciding on color schemes!

In fact, quilters use math so much we even have a special calculator made just for us! The Quilter's Fabric-calc is available in many quilt shops and is a handy tool to help make the math a little easier! I'm all about tools, but this is one that hasn't found it's way into my arsenal yet. It does look interesting, though!

Now, not every quilter needs to have passed Trigonometry, but it really does help to have a grasp on your basic math skills. I just look on quilting as one more way to keep my brain active, which is a very good thing. Now I just wish there was a way I could make quilting a more aerobic activity so I wouldn't have to figure out a way to keep my body as active as my brain is. I suppose I'll have to stick with daydreaming about quilts when I do my daily miles!
Happy Quilting!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Decor from the Quiltsy Team

Fall is my favorite season, and I always enjoy getting out my seasonal decorations. I have several quilts that I look forward to displaying and using during these months. I now live on the Oregon coast, where the autumn is not quite as colorful, and they bring the colors of fall into my house bringing back fond memories of the fall season where I grew up. Quilts help me mark the change of season, and nothing is more warming than a cozy lap quilt on a rainy fall evening!

In my home we enjoy fall quilts as wall hangings, table toppers, and potholders. They are made in warm shades of brown, orange, and gold with accents of green and purple. I have a small quilt that hangs on the door of the coat closet, and it is a delightful small thing that makes me smile every time I walk by. For me, nothing says fall like a lovely quilt!

These two collages show some of the fine quilted items made in fall colors that you will find on Etsy. Any of these would bring a warm, homey feeling to your fall home decor.
For more items by our team, search Quiltsy Team on Etsy - you're sure to find many lovely items that would look great in your home!