Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday

That's a nice non-descriptive title, huh?!

If I wrote, "More Hexagons", then half of you would take for the hills.  But reality is, I have been doing relatively mundane things, and the hexagons are at the top of the interest list.  I am putting a binding on the silk wholecloth.  Yippy-do-da!...see, I told you...not so thrilling.  I also did a client quilt last weekend, but because it has rained here for 6 days (kind of getting like Scotland), I have crummy, dim-light photos that I may just not post.  I was more interested in getting it sent back to the owner than holding onto it until I could get a clear picture!
Today is my youngest's 9th birthday.  It's the last year of single digits in our house.  The past 2 days have been about cake making and other things for tonight's family party.  Because her day always falls before school starts, we hold off on the kid-party until mid September, when she knows who is in her class.  Yea for me - school resumes next week!
 I endeavor to make pretty cakes, but it is very clear I am a better quilter than cake decorator!
 Almost 9, and sporting all her Paris couture, in Paris no less!
 I have (I think!) finished the 21st and final hexagon block.  The layout I have been gravitating towards requires 21, but as you know, I have been through several possible layouts, including the one sketched above.  Clearly it is in all the wrong colors, but it was drawn in a heated moment when I just wanted to get these blocks machined together, and quickly.  The triangles would possibly be the only background fabric.  Some days I like its simplicity, others it just seems boring.  Who knows.
Here's a layout using 23 blocks.  The lighter ones at top and bottom center may be omitted to yield the next placement.  It would give me enough open space for quilting.  I think I like how the colors are arranged.  The blocks just need the final star points to be stitched on.  I am (again, I think) using Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids for these points.  It comes in nice bold, almost sherbet-like colors.  I have some small pieces in several colors ordered.  Next week I will make a decision about what color will go where.  I am hoping seriously that these points will bring further cohesion to the placement, as one bolder color will be for the center 9 blocks, and a softer, cooler color(s) will be used for the other 12.  My thinking is that the background will still be the silk Radiance.  Pricey, but I think the effect is worth it.  I will first get the stars done, then rethink the background.  Lotsa applique!
Here's the final hexagon... Whoo-hooo!
 One last look at how I make my hexie blocks, as it is a bit different from the traditional EPP method.  I use Marti Michell's cutting template for a 1" hexie.  This means it is 1" per side.  I use this to mark where to cut.  The smaller Templar template is exactly 1" per side, and this is used to mark the back of each fussy-cut hexagon.  This line is where I sew, bu hand.  I stitch each seam separately, back tracking with 2-3 stitches on each end before knotting.  Yes, this is 90 seams! These blocks are more secure than anything you'd machine stitch!  The front is pretty and the backside is too.  My reasons for making them this way are this -- the seams can easily be pressed to the side.  I don't want open seams because it's a pain for quilting should I choose to ditch stitch.  There is no ditch!  Also, I don't like the added step of gluing or basting onto the papers.  My block is easy to hold as I am stitching because it is not filled with paper.  It is my version of Inklingo, which many quilters use, but easier because there is no printer involved.
  I have a lovely heart applique quilt started on my machine.  Next week I should have something beautiful to show!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Client Valentine's Day Lone Star

A week ago, with barely 2 weeks left of my kids' summer vacation, I decided it was time to load a couple of quilts and start trying to get caught up.  I avoid the custom quilts during the summer because they take much longer, and my windows of quilting time are short...1-2 hours.  I can have a custom quilt on the machine for over a week before it is done.  More than that, because we all know I have show quilts on the machine for several weeks at a time, I tend to just forget what I am doing if I only do a little bit each day.

This quilt was made by one of my very prolific Iowa clients, Erin, and it is only 54" square.  It is a relatively simple pattern to quilt too (and not forget what I am doing!). For those interested, it has a layer of Hobbs 80/20 batting and is stitched with mostly Glide thread.
 There is ample white background to showoff pretty designs.  She wanted a background reminiscent of my Zen Garden quilt (which has more going on in it's setting squares).  I have hopefully kept the essence of this quilt with the curved cross-hatching and feathers.  I chose a filler around these using hearts to bring some of the fabric into the quilting.  It is all about cohesion.
 The star is the show, so the quilting does not need to overpower it (that is what the neutral white aeas are for!).  I did a single row of continuous curves in the white thread through this area.
(Before...)

But after stitching this, I decided it was just not done.  It appeared underquilted compared to the background.  Using a pale pink and deep burgundy thread, I went back and doubled the curves, creating double continuous curving.  It is more textural and just prettier.  Now, I could have certainly quilted the star more heavily, but it just didn't seem to be the place for heavy quilting.  Sometimes the simpler route is really prettier.  FYI - these curves are all stitched with a 6" circle template.
(after...)

The center of the star lays beautifully.
 Lone Stars are a lovely and classic pattern.  She plans to use this either on a wall or as a decorative element on a bed.  I'd love to have the time to make some seasonal/holiday display quilts!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Facebook

I have been on Facebook for several years.  I have just recently, however, set up a business FB page. Check this out, like it, whatever...I tend to be better at posting to FB than to this blog on a regular basis.

Here's the link... FB

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Little sewing, Little Vegging

The stash of the hexagon blocks is coming, slowly.  I thought I'd make up the last 3-4 blocks while I was traveling, but never found uninterrupted time.  I got one done, and two started though.  Now, if I could hone in on that layout for the blocks, I'd be getting somewhere...
 This block is wildly fun.  The outer row is in progress.
 Love this one...all done too.
And this is now done too.  Individually, some are a little bold, but all together their boldness seems to meld nicely.
My attentions are soon to be diverted though.  I have 6 weeks until I really want this quilt all done so it can be entered at Road to Ca. The show isn't until January, but photos of a quilt which "appears" finished (yes, including the binding) are due by Oct 1.  It was off the frame for weeks months so I could pick out 6-7 pleated areas.  Yesterday I restitched them.  I made a critical error with my very solid pink backing...I prewashed it, but failed to heavily starch it afterwards. The Live-n-learn list grows... Today I am calling it done-enough, and will get it onto the blocking surface.  No doubt that the binding will take a long time.  Here's an earlier post if you want to see more quilting photos.
 I am reveling in a nice win at the AQS Grand Rapids show, which is on right now.  My From the Bride's Trousseau quilt won a best machine quilting award!  It won a 1st 3 weeks ago at AQS's Syracuse show, while I was away in France.  I am very surprised how well this little whole cloth quilt has done.  The competition in Grand Rapids must be fierce.  My Bouquet Royale did not even place. Try again next month :-)

I will leave you with some pics from the gorgeous open markets of France.  The veggies and other are endless, and so very lovely to look at.
 dried fruits
 these are actually a tomato
 needs no explaining! Yumm!
 All kinds of seafood
One of my faves...olives
There are markets of fruits, meats, nuts, dry beabs and every kind of cheese you can imagine.  Not being a cheese-eater, though, I naturally have no pics of this! I probably should have taken a picture of the wine sections at the markets too...it goes without saying that there were many!  And prices for many 1/2 bottles were in the 2-3 euro range...cheap! A glass of wine is cheaper than a can of coke, by close to a dollar!

Happy Thursday~

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer Absense

Paris.  Yes, I have just been to Paris!  Fortunately for me, I have been twice before, but there is no city like Paris anywhere.  It just has an energy about it.  A Vibe...a happy feeling.  The age of this country is evident everywhere.  Just to go back again was worth every frustration encountered (and there were many).   Still, a week in Paris.  And despite going before, I managed to visit many places I had not seen.

This was not one of them though!
It doesn't matter because the Eiffel tower is iconic.  It is huge, and wonderful, and everyone loved it. We did a tour organized by the Paris tourism board and it was fantastic -- highly recommend.  The behind the scenes things they show you make it worthwhile.  And then we climbed down each and every step, in the pouring rain (the first rainfall in 6 weeks for Paris)!

On this trip, I finally made it into the Louvre and the Rodin museum.  I can't claim to love art museums.  I barely like them.  I enjoy impressionist art in small doses, but most is just plain boring.  I do love the bronze statues by Rodin, and seeing the castings as well as the finished statues was incredible.  I had been to d'Orsay museum 20 years ago, so I didn't bother trying to drag the boys there, even if the building the art is in is gorgeous.  I did manage to get them into Orangerie, where Monet's water lilies are.  Those are amazing.  I have been to Giverny before, but never seen the full collection, in the round.  The Vincennes castle was a hit with the kids, and a nice break from crowds to be out of the city just a little bit.  Crowd lines were a bit crazy this time.  Luckily, there is much to be seen just wandering.  I have more photos of quilting ideas...

The Garnier Opera house is so magnificient, and our tour was just as good.  
My inside photos are a heap of crap, but hopefully some patterns drafted from the mosaic floors (the first of this kind brought to a French building allegedly) will become the basis for a new applique quilt next year.
 After a week of Paris, we flew to Edinburgh.  I loved the one short half-day we spent in Edinburgh -- it is old and has much the same vibe as Paris.  Sadly we drove from there to the highlands.  The roads are dangerous and scary by US standards...narrow, mostly single lane, no shoulders whatsoever, and windy beyond windy up through the mountains.  Oh, and add to that sitting on the wrong side of the car while driving on the wrong side of the road!  What appears to take one hour on a map, actually takes over 2.  Nothing was really as close as it seemed it would be.  We were on the south shore of Loch Ness for 3 days and then in the higher, more easterly highlands for 3 more.  The castle ruins were interesting.  The weather just plain sucks in Scotland -- very cool by our expectations for August, and constantly raining.  If it is sunny at 8am, by 9:30 it will be raining.  We thought we'd do more hikes, but constantly hiking through mud was aggravating.    While some of the scenery is beautiful, there was just too much driving to get there.  I like the walk or subway approach to sight-seeing better.
My kids loved seeing these unusual cows - Highland coos. And the castles (we saw 4) and cathedral (below) ruins were interesting.  My husband would love to go to Ireland, but there's not enough money out there to get me to go somewhere this cool and wet anytime soon...especially when the sights don't often have rooves!
 Here's another fun pattern...may have come from a bathroom wall!
And here's a quick view of the former monastery we stayed at in Loch Ness - way cool.  Convincing the kids that the apartment was not the "destination" was challenging at times.
If you are wondering if I tried Haggis - yes twice.  It's not as bad as the contents make it sound.  In a good meal, it's pretty good.  Blood pudding - I had one disgusting bite.  I tasted scotch too.  That I can say is still the ickiest taste I have known.  Embalming their bodies with this elixir is probably how they endure the climate though!  The food was touch and go, some pretty good, some typically bland and under seasoned.  In 2 weeks, I have seen enough french fries for a lifetime.  The Scots love them as much as the French!  Desserts in France were yummy.  And I did eat my weight in croissants.  Who could blame me?!

Now to get going with the wash and figure out how to be productive for 3 weeks until school starts~

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Zebras are in town

With vacation time looming, I have just been doing little things that don't take long.  The kids and I nave been swimming and running errands, so time to concentrate on longarm quilting is just not right now.  In mid-August, I will try to resume the mostly custom awaiting lineup, along with an ever-growing list of things I must make headway on, like a couple new classes for next year.  I know all too well how time-consuming samples and class prep really is.

As of yesterday, here is the stack of 9 hexie blocks that have received their zebra borders.  The blocks are essentially appliqued onto 6 pieces of zebra print.  It is pretty quick, maybe an hour per block. These blocks are now hexagons with sides about 7 to 7-1/2" per size.
I told you I didn't really want to use the hexies in any conventional way.  Hope you didn't think I was kidding!  LOL
I played a little (on paper, hence the not-so-perfect fit) with what will come next.  Somehow, someway, these need to convert to stars.  Hexagons are nice, but the shape is too plain, and I don't love the negative space it leaves behind for quilting, if this makes sense.  Here's one with black points, outlined in a color.  Perhaps each block will have a different shade that coordinates with the block.  Perhaps I will choose a couple colorways like bright greens and turquoises to give the blocks a settling/grounding effect.
In my fickleness, I drew out another in reverse, thinking that the above one may be too dark.  Star colors must be carefully selected to bring out the hexagon blocks.  Afterall, they are the star of my show.  It would clearly be a deeper rose color, and not Halloween black and orange.  That's just not an attractive combination of colors to me.
Of course, because I take forever getting blog posts written, I have finished another of these blocks...Here is #10.  Eleven to go, I think!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Asian Beauty

This is probably my one and only custom quilt of the summer.  It's only about 40"x 60", but custom quilting with kids in the house (up and down the stars, in and out of the studio door, etc!) is too challenging.  I'm not able to focus on the quilting as I want to.  Never the less, this turned out beautifully, and I hope my client feels the same.  It should be home to her in CA by the weekend.
 There is nothing I appreciate more than fantastic piecing and applique, and this is truly some of the best applique I have seen.  Having appliqued little flowers like this on a quilt not so long ago, I appreciate how very well these are done.
 This quilt has a single layer of Quilters Dream wool batting.  All appliques and seams (except a few because they were pressed open) were SID with Madiera Monolon clear thread.  Never, never do I quilt a nice applique quilt and NOT ditch stitch.  It just doesn't look quite as nice or finished.   The quilting on the quilt other than the SID is either Glide or YLI polished poly -- 6 different colors.  The sheen is just right on the gold-gilded fabrics.
 The client requested a gold metallic, but in all honestly, I hate working with metallic.  It is just unpredictable.  I think you can get a similar look with much greater ease with the gold shiny threads.
 She asked for the clam-shells, so there is a prominent panel of this pattern.  I have also included a variety of other pretty patterns on the solid blocks that fit the theme.
 This whimsical butterfly is wonderful...but he needed antennae!
 The only comment I want to pass on to my readers is about clipping beneath lighter fabrics.  If you applique a white or pale patch onto a dark fabric and you can see the background fabric, please clip it away.  If you are concerned about the integrity of the quilt, then add a piece of very lightweight fusible interfacing on the backside.  I cut away backings ALL THE TIME!  as long as there is SID and quilting on the applique pieces, it is going to be secure.  If the darker background is NOT cut away, then I won't quilt on the applique patch because it will not look good, as the background fabric shadows worse.  This is quite unsightly with printed fabrics!  ...just my words of wisdom :-)
 Here's a couple looks at the backside...It is a gorgeous gilded gold fabric.

Happy Thursday~

Monday, July 13, 2015

Something

While the title "Something" isn't terribly exciting or descriptive, it is less monotonous than another post entitled "Puttering"!  While the lack of schedule in the summer has some benefits, I don't find it conducive to my need and desire to produce, and to create.  Never the less, in the last 3 weeks I have done 5 edge to edge quilts.  Yup, that is all.  Two are lap sized also!  Here are three that are heading home to Erin in IA today...
 This is the Henny Penny pattern.  The fabrics in the piecing are very busy, and many designs would be completely lost.  This floral design at least shows on the back side.

This is a cool modern quilt.  I love the Laura Gunn fabrics, but didn't want to compete with them with anything remotely floral.  I pulled this pattern called Twilight just to give a fun background texture.
 ...another look.  It is stitched with a gold YLI thread.
 This last one is lively.  I am so stuck in the hexagon phase, that I love all variations of the hexies.  Fabrics are bold and happy, modern and bright.  I quilted with a white thread.
 The pantograph is called Flying Paisley.
 and a better look at the pattern from the back.
 I still have a stack of at least 3 of Erin's quilts that she wants to be custom quilted, but those are waiting for calmer days (aka September).

While I was at VQF a couple weeks ago, I picked up some inexpensive zippers, and other assorted purse hardware.  I had this canvas mistakenly purchased last fall, and decided that I would make myself a functional carry-all to take to Europe.  I have made some very lovely vintage-styled clothes, but I assure you, I am not a purse maker.  I did not have, nor did I want to purchase a pattern which was exactly the purse I wanted to make.  I kind of went at this with a wing and a prayer.  It will no way EVER earn any Master Purse-Maker awards.  That doesn't worry me in the least ;-)
 
 The goals were simple...small, lots of secure zippered pockets and a cross-chest style of strap.  I also wanted to show off the cute fabric somehow -- like not have 1/2 of the Eiffel tower on one side or the backside of the bag with the print upside-down.

The entire process left me frustrated.  This is partly because I never had more than 20 minutes at a time to think about it (aka "pick out my blasted mistakes"!).  Zippers are not challenging for me, as they are for some people.  I wasn't daunted by putting in 4 of them in...on not until the last one which was intended for the bag's zipper just WOULD NOT FIT PROPERLY!  GRrrr....  I eventually ripped it out and put a conventional binding up there.
In hindsight, I know that that zipper HAD to be put in first, but sheesh, it was just too late.

There is a hidden zipper, with admittedly kind of sloppy stitching, under the flap.  BTW, the flap was a total after thought when I couldn't get the zipper in.  Fortunately, it mostly looks like it belongs (if you disregard the fact that I had to bind it in a different pale pink fabric on account of running out of the other one.  I bought a magnet clasp, but am starting to get cold feet about installing it, as it requires putting a hole in the bag and flap.  I am rethinking other possible ways of mounting the clasp to another piece of fabric, and attaching that to the bag.  Permanent holes are just not my thing.

The inside has two side pockets with zippers and open pockets for things like pencils and phones.  

I turns out that the bag took very little fabric, so I used some of the extra to make my daughter a much simpler version.  Her's went together with very few issues, as projects should go.  There is a zippy-pocket in the inside too, and the large pocket on the front so she could get an Eiffel tower scene too.  She's all about that Eiffel tower.

Here's the back... These handles are just commercial mesh strapping - a much easier alternative to the half-baked strap I made from the canvas for my bag, which needed double interfacing to have decent body.

BTW, here is a website I found that has some great purse hardware and patterns.  I might just endeavor to make something else, if I had better instructions (wink, wink!)