Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Machine Quilting 101

Finally took the class that would teach me how to machine quilt.  It was a day-long class, and by the end of it I was tired and cranky, not in any mood to go home and practice, practice, practice!

I learned a ton about the little background details of machine quilting (batting, pinning, selecting and marking designs, thread choices, etc.).  And we did get some practice time in the class--especially helpful to have support (and hints!) when practicing using monofilament thread.

Our practice canvas was this pre-printed panel Skillbuilder One from Renae Allen Designs.  My children thought it was very clever, laid out with so many different basic freemotion designs to quilt.

After the class, I found a nifty video that shows an experienced freemotion quilter practicing.  (I think I was trying to go too fast--at least based on the speed shown on the video.)

Want to see my beginning stitching?  I'm sure you do, as it will help you to feel better about your own quilting practice.
Front side, where you can see how accurately I was able to follow the lines.  Or not.
And the reverse side, where you can see the consistency in my stitch length. 

Yes, the perfectionist in me was screaming.  I couldn't relax enough to just practice, because I was so worried about "doing it right".

Ah well, there will be many an afternoon of practice ahead of me.  The Skillbuilder panel is generously sized for the beginner as well as for refreshers in between projects.  I don't anticipate I will want to try FMQ on an actual project before December--my WIP drawers are stuffed to overflowing right now.

But a nifty little skill to add to my creative endeavors.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to preserve a husband

A breakfast stop at a local diner led me to an interesting "wild idea"

Ok, so the quality of the photo isn't that great, but who can resist that title?  "How to preserve a husband."  And the drawing of the husband in the preserves jar... a-ha!

Alexander Henry's version of "husband"?  Well, whatever the definition of these boys, this is the sort of image that came into my mind with the How to Preserve a Husband recipe.

Well, those images and that recipe and the thought of "preserving" them in jars of some sort.  You know exactly the sort: bug jar!

Apparently, there is a bug jar quilt inside me waiting to emerge.  This is the second bug jar idea that has come up--but I've always wondered who buys those Alexander Henry pinup boys, and what exactly they make with them.

How To Preserve A Husband

First, use care and get one not too young, but tender and a healthy growth.  Make your selection carefully and let it be final, otherwise they will not keep.   Do not pickle or put in hot water, this makes them sour.  Like wine they sweeten with age.
Prepare as follows: Sweeten with smiles according to variety. The sour bitter kind are improved by a pinch of common sense.  Spice with patience. Wrap will in a mantle of charity. Preserve over a good fire of steady devotion. Serve with peaches and cream.
Note:  The poorest varieties maybe improved by this process and keep for years in any climate.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Buck-a-block 2013 - we're off

What was I thinking?  Signed up for buck-a-block again this year.  The promise was that the blocks would be smaller, and the colorway would be neutral.  (Yay, I won't have to exchange each month's fabrics for something more appealing from my stash!)

Well, I hadn't seen a sample before the first month's block was handed out.  Not that I don't think it's cute, now that I've seen it.  It's just... is this really a project I want to do?

Wow, those neutrals sure are neutral.  The pattern is "Cat's Cradle", taken from 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place).  The block will be 9" finished.

The idea is to finish the block with an outer 3" border (making a 15" block) in fabrics of your choice.  Use up your stash.  Several color choices are shown, from colorful/scrappy, to tone-on-tone, or two-color in light-half/dark-half or alternating arrangements

To claim next month's block for only $1, I just need to complete the center portion.  Don't need to make any decisions right now about an overall color scheme.  Or project.  Which is good, because my current excitement is for a certain rainbow-themed t-shirt quilt.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Visible Progress

Been busy of late.  Something about the master's thesis.  Let's just say that I will finally get a degree, my stress levels have decreased significantly already, and my dad will soon begin asking, "What are you going to do with your degree, honey?"

Which is a long way of saying: haven't done much sewing lately.
Layout of blocks with sashing & cornerstone audition

So I went to stitch-n-bitch this week to work on buck-a-block baby quilt # 2.  I was a-sewin' away, just happy to be with the gals, and making progress on the sashing detail.
Got 17 pieces of sashing to add these flying geese to, and I am well on my way.  But at some point during the evening, I just wanted to see *visible progress*.

So I switched gears: back to the "wallhanging with words" project, inspired by Tonya Ricucci's book Word Play Quilts.  Mmm, yummy words.  I have had all the individual letters done for quite some time, but knew it would take many small seams to get the letters put into words.

So surprised that I could finish FOUR words.  Yes, I had been adding bits and pieces to the individual letters (using them as leaders and enders for other sewing), but it's always lovely to see when things come together.
Detail of the masterful job I did of getting the directional gingham going alongside the wonky letter "o".  The book had good tips for making that happen.

Pretty pleased with myself.  The remaining two words are a bit longer than three letters each, but I have that sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing visible progress on a long-dormant project.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Buck-a-block baby quilt #1

A sense of accomplishment: six blocks from last year's Buck-a-block, all framed up and sewed together.
Baby quilt #1 top complete!  I love how the black-framed blocks really pop (they were my favorite blocks).

No intended recipient for this yet.  Which is good, because I haven't taken the Machine Quilting 101 class that would allow me to finish this myself.  I am starting to save up projects for "when I learn to machine quilt".  Gotta get on that...

Still have six blocks left from Buck-a-block.  Got lots of help from the gals at stitch-n-bitch in choosing a sashing fabric, so I'll get to work on that baby quilt top soon.