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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Block Party and Stack the Deck Quilt

Wednesday is the day to share & link at "Works in Progress" on Freshly Pieced!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly PiecedI've been productive!! Fortunately our small city has an equally small group that's been meeting as a Modern Quilt Guild. I began attending this month, and have had the fun of participating in two "Sew In(s)" locally, as well as the Portland one I enjoyed at the beginning of January with my sister and niece. That makes three!! With projects and sewing machine in tow, I show up, pay a small fee and sew all day, visit with other creative people, and have NO INTERRUPTIONS (unless I choose them). At our last local sew-in, we could have even left the machines, irons and ironing boards, cutting mats, tape measures, etc. behind, because they were provided. Wow! How convenient is that?? Almost like going on a retreat without having to go very far, and for a fraction of the cost. Especially nice are the designs walls to use throughout the room. Another quilter and I joked about renting the design wall space so we could keep playing with our quilts day after day. Someday I'll get mine put up.

I decided to join Eleanor Burn's Mystery Quilt "2014 Block Party." She's a bit quirky, but she's got some good ideas and techniques. I'm intrigued by this latest project, so I paid my fee and got started.I wanted to test the block out and pulled out fabric I already owned from In the Beginning ("Chickadee"). I ended up liking liking the result so much, I think I'll use them for the mystery quilt after all.

4 "Marianne" blocks, named for Marianne Fons, her guest

So at the local sew-in last Saturday, I pulled out my blocks for a quilt I wanted to give me husband. True confession: I started it at least 5 years ago! I already had the blocks made, based on the book Stack the Deck! by Karla Alexander. 

First, iron the seams of the sashing ...     
Seams are looks kind of folksy, doesn't it?
Throw them on the design wall, with purple sashing 
& sew vertical rows together

The hearts are appliqued by machine on each block (which is a shuffling of fabrics in the green theme). And even though "Blogger" thinks it's smarter than me and it won't let me arrange my photos in the order I want them, the photo of the blocks without a caption are now on the bed, being assembled to their vertical sashing. Then I will sash the sides, top and bottom, put another border around that, and then it's time to sandwich and quilt. It's been a fun project. Better late than never, huh?
Happy quilting!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Free Motion Practice Becomes Pillow

Looking back at my practice swatches of free motion quilting done on my domestic machine from a couple of months ago, I decided that I liked a couple of panels. I confess that I didn't use quilters' quality fabric, and the batting is cheaper as well. It's recommended that one use the materials that one will be using in the project, in order to get the REAL feel for how all the components work and interact. In any case, I chose the cheaper route, thinking I'd be throwing it out, or stuffing something else with it.

Notice the pumpkins, vines of leaves, flowers, squiggles
I selected two different colors of fabric, cut a section from each (about 20" x 20") and sandwiched them with the batting. I marked 3" rows on the entire surface of the sandwich with chalk to give me a reasonable boundary to work toward. Looking at the full piece and imaging how I'd be quilting the whole space would be overwhelming and look poorly planned. I stitched several motifs to get the hang of it as I learned to work with the rhythm of the machine and needle, while incorporating the movement of my hands. I used chalk to draw a few motifs to find out if I could follow those suggested outlines. I didn't have the machine tension right, I thought, so the bobbin threads show a bit more than I'd like. I've since learned that my bobbin thread was too heavy, and hopefully the next time I do free motion, the bobbin thread won't show.

Two pieces could be trimmed down to throw pillow size, 16" x 16". I found another cheap fabric in my stash for the piping. In the photos, you'll notice the following motifs: pumpkins, leaves, swirls, flowers. Some of the stitching is dense, some is more open. Even though I didn't use the best materials and I don't have the practiced artistic technique down, I like looking at it, touching it, and letting it inspire me. When I look it over, I find myself eager to do it again! Next time, I'll be even better, right?
Here the quilting is more dense with various types of swirls & squiggles

It's time to WIP! WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

and I'm adding a new link-y group: i quilt blog button

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Quiet on blog, but productive

I came across a handbag pattern at Joann's by Whistlepig Creek Productions (what a name!) and bought it on a whim. I'm sure you've never experienced this: I'm disappointed by the inadequate and confusing instructions!!

I made this bag first:
Orange theme sling bag
Did someone really edit this pattern? Were they trying to conserve paper (there's a whole blank page they didn't use??)? I blame the inadequate instructions for the mistake I made in this first mock-up. Fortunately I know how to sew and could correct it (more like, cover it up)!!!

Sling strap and top flap

The pattern is: #1201 Flip Flap Bag, "fat quarter friendly" (unless your fat quarter includes selvages!!), "cross body bag with double secret pockets."

I like the secret pockets and the not-secret pocket in the main body of the bag. They recommend using fusible fleece for stabilizing, which I did. I like the weight of the sling strap that results.

They recommend using buttons on the flaps, so I used some special ones that I found in my stash. They look like masks from Africa.
Bag with buttons

The second time is the charm! Now that I KNOW how this bag is constructed, and I understand why I made the mistake I did, I modified and marked the instructions so I wouldn't have trouble the next time. I again pulled out a few fabrics from my stash and came up with this:
Brown and green sling bag
I used it this morning for church and shopping. Rather than put a permanent button on it, I decided to put a pin I had in my jewelry.
Sling bag with jewelry pin
Inside: Hidden pocket 1 constructed in middle flap

Inside: Hidden pocket 2 constructed in main bag body

Inside main bag body: Non-hidden pockets
Then I performed an impromptu "fashion show" on the men I live with: my husband, and our two male international students, one from Japan, the other from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi man immediately noticed that this is the exact bag he needs for his iPad!! He asked me if I'd make him one, and I said he'd have to be my "advertisement" at the University of Oregon campus (why not?). I pulled out still more fabrics from my stash, based on his color preferences, and now I've got a new sling bag to produce. :) Happy sewing!

Ok, I've decided that the fusible fleece is too wimpy. I'll be making my next bag with a more rigid stabilizer so that it doesn't become all floppy once I have things in the bag.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Works In Progress" Wednesday feature: Chicken-themed Table Runner

WIP Wednesday at Freshly PiecedI almost forgot about WIP! My sister, Miss SewCraftyChick, reminded me this morning.

You already know I like hens. My sister shares my interest in all things chickens. She gifted me with new fabric kit for Christmas to make a table runner with CHICKENS! The reds also match our dining-room and will look lovely on the table. 

Close up of block

4 Log Cabin blocks

Diana invited me to drive north for the weekend to visit and attend, for our first time, the Portland Modern Quilt Guild's "Sew-In". We invited her 20 year old daughter and my niece Aubrey, who also loves to make lovely quilts, and spent time with other creative people ALL DAY!! What fun! Attendance was impressive, and sewing machines, irons, and conversation pleasantly filled the large room. I completed the Log Cabin Kit and now I will quilt the top.

Sister Diana and niece Aubrey at "Sew In"

I'm planning to attend my first local meeting of the Eugene Modern Quilt Guild tonight. I look forward to getting know know more creative people in my community as well.

Are you part of a guild or group that inspires you? Share your experiences!


I've finished free-motion quilting my table runner. I decided that since a log cabin is "boxy" and linear, it needed a wavy, flowing line of quilting:

Now I can use it :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Handbag from sister's leftovers on New Year's Day

Happy new year!! I'm already stitching, how about you?

My sister made a handbag for her sister-in-law last year out of some cute fabrics: a cute sushi theme and a floral. She cast off the scraps that she had pre-stitched to batting, but I couldn't let them go into the garbage. They were too cute and still had some possibilities! Do you ever do that?

Before Christmas, I took my machine, my precious Pfaff, to be serviced after it's almost 1 year of use. I want to treat it well! After that stop, we continued north to Seattle to be with our children. On the way back, I stopped in to my sister's home again to borrow her older machine, which is way better than MY old 1973 machine (as mine is in the servicing queue still at the shop). It's fancier than my old one and chugs along real well.

I can't go too long without using my creative space. I'd done some creative writing over the past few days, and now I wanted something simple to stitch, so I pulled out those beloved leftovers. I began constructing the fabric from the scraps by putting the pieces together in a quilty way. I made good progress, but then the bobbin needed to be wound, and I walked away for a few days. Yesterday I walked back into my "studio" (a former master bedroom graciously given over by my husband, who was using it as an office) to cleaning up from Christmas wrap and put away stabilizers. Of course the leftovers project was beckoning me, but I had too much to do. Today, I stepped in, looked at the lovelies, and couldn't help myself! Here's what I've got so far:
Sushi Handbag Front
Sushi Handbag Sides: I added the black and white "I Am Ninja" fabric by Robt. Kaufman as I ran out of those lovely leftovers. I boxed the bottom corners to give it some width.

Sushi Handbag Back
I plan to use the "Ninja" fabrics for the lining, maybe a pocket of two, and a flap. I will cut the flap edge on a diagonal to give it some pizzazz. I want to make a long thin strap, maybe using cord, so I can wear it over my shoulder and across my chest, perhaps. I probably won't finish it today, but I'm real happy with my progress!