Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stitching whimsy...

This year I am participating in a stitching challenge!! TAST (Take A Stitch Tuesday) is a Facebook group with a focus on hand embroidery.  It offers inspiration through a simple challenge -  members are given a new stitch every Tuesday to learn and practice.  The creative talent in this group is amazing!
Here's my stitching so far with week 1 Running Stitch and week 2 Buttonhole stitch.

I found premade fabric yo-yos at an estate sale last year. I've always had a fondness for yo-yos.  Traditional yo-yo quilts feel like fresh country home and lace to me.
Depending on size of quilt and size of yo-yos, a quilt can require 1,000 to 2,000 pieces that then need to be sewn together.  Anybody that knows me knows I love hand work and can sit sewing for hours... And yet after 10 or 15 yo-yos I'm ready to move onto another project.  Making a full sized traditional yo-yo quilt from start to finish is not in my (near) future! (Let's not completely rule it out 🤣.)

Anyway, back to TAST! The idea is to experiment with stitches.  I haven't embroidered much in years....
..omgosh my thoughts wander... My mom taught me a few embroidery stitches when I was very young.  She put a simple design on the back of undies and let me practice my stitches.  Haha, I have no idea why we chose undies for my project but I was thrilled!  I know it was a whimsical design, perfect for a little girl, but it's a single flower that I remember most. Maybe it was a daisy. I gave a lot a of attention to the flower center.  I purposely built up the stitches so that there was a bump. Lol, I remember this most because when all the stitching was done and I finally wore the undies, that flower center bump gave me a bruise! Hahaha 🤣 so silly.

Ok, really back to TAST!  It's a year long challenge to experiment with the suggested stitch.  For more info go to the hostess Sharon Boggon's web page TAST - Pintangle.
Most attractive to me is there are no rules. No parameters. No deadlines, it's the participant's choice to do it or not.  No particular list of materials. Participants vary from beginners to very advanced.  I consider myself an advanced beginner.  So for me, this becomes an exercise in using my own creative flow.  I get to blend quilting and embroidery 😄.

It's quite exciting!  I don't have a clue what the end product is going to look like.  I have no clue what the next stitch will be or how/where I'll be inspired to put it, or even if I'll get to fit all 52 suggested stitches into this quilt!!
I'm going for expressing my item Whimsy Hita's style. And I'm thrilled to pieces then my Sweetling looks at my progress so far, gives a nod of approval and says, "it looks like you!" 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Goodbye 2017...

I thought about doing a blog update that would recap 2017.  A quick look back on it shows that it's been a really good year.  A recap will be too much work 😄.  I think I'm just gonna tell about my December activities, that'll be much easier.
I only made a few handmade gifts this Christmas... these two Christmas tree wall hangings....
Made for the PTQ handmade gift 
Made for my son because it's his first Christmas not loving with us 😄.

And the doilies I previously blogged about.  Lol, so few items almost seems like it's not worth mentioning.
I have to remind myself that crocheting 12" doilies is TIME CONSUMING! And I was determined to make them as my homemade gift at the Wannabee's quilt group Christmas party. 
Ms. Watana won these in the Left-Right game. I'm pleased she seemed to appreciate my efforts.

Well, December wasn't quite unproductive as first looks. I continue to work on this knitted scarf. 

It's another time consuming project.  I did the math once... I could have up to 60 hours knitting time into the final product. Phew!!  My Sweetling has claimed it and that makes the finish line that much sweeter! Just a few more inches to go, I'm hoping to be done before she goes back to school.
You know, I can't help but wonder "how does one put a price tag on something like this?!?!"  I mean the merino yarn was $27/skein and this pattern required 2 skeins,,, (I ended up getting a much cheaper second yarn at Hobby Lobby in the clearance bin!!) 
In theory:  Materials ($54) + labor/skills (conservative $6/hr) =  $400+!! Who would pay that for a scarf?? 
Lol, thinking of it this way might make it difficult giving it up.   Can I possibly change my mind and say "Sorry, Sweets, mom's keeping this one!!?" 😜

On the quilting hand, I made another "ticker tape" quilt on the long arm. It's ready to be squared up for binding. I can hardly wait to see how this one fuzzes up after it's been washed.

I also took some of my quilting ladies on a road trip this month to Village Cloth Shop in DeKalb, MS. It's about an hour drive from Columbus.  I love this little quilt I spied by the cut counter. It might be a good idea on how to use my 2.5" crumb squares that are stacking up.

So now that all the Christmas celebration are over, I'm returning my attentions back to the design wall where this is still up!
Approximately 26 more blocks to make, give or take. I've already replace some of the blocks because the colors just weren't playing well with the others 😄.  Heh, and from the above photo, it looks like there might be one or two more replacements needed... 
I'm also getting reacquainted with my seam ripper.. it's a necessary tool, and has come in quite handy.  I consider it more friend now than foe.

Moving onto 2018 is looking fantastic! Just in this blog update I have potentially 3 projects that can become completed items. Not bad! I want to make 2018 about finishing UFOs (UnFinished Objects.)  I love that the good fortune of 2017 is flowing into 2018. 
Wishing much joy and a very Happy New Year to you!!!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

"Scrap System" or "brink of insanity?"

I have an incredible mess in my sewing room at the moment.  I can barely walk in there 😏.
I start working on a project because a technique caught my interest. Then set it aside (but not put away) because another technique caught my eye. And of course that project gets set aside for a new or previously started project that has a deadline (this is the one that gets completed.)
I know it sounds bad. And this thing I do would make a lot of people insane.  But truly it could be worse... For every one technique I try there are at least 5 more that I'm not trying (yet)!!  
See! I'm showing some self restraint and self discipline!! 😂🤣
I do have a tolerance level limit and this mess is WAY past it. I was going to list excuses but they don't make the mess any less!  So. I need to get to work!

I love scrappy quilts so much that I have the hardest time throwing out even the tiniest piece of fabric.  However, collecting scraps quickly gets out of control, especially when I have quilting friends who are more than happy to give me the scrap pieces they would normally throw into the garbage! 😵 What?!?!
And maybe I shouldn't mention the scrap grab bags I sometimes purchase at quilt shops because one piece was too pretty to leave behind 😳. I mean, they're only $1 or $5! It's a steal!!

 There's plenty of sources where you can find info on organizing your fabrics!  I was inspired by scrap quilt books, and Pinterest, and blogs, and quilting friends.
  Each system I reviewed has its own personality.  None of them are quite perfect for me.  I'll have to take advice from all and tweek my own scrap system as I go.  I suspect by this time next year my system will have morphed a bit.  We'll see! But for now, this is what I have....

First in my system is deciding what's a scrap.  I would say I don't care to cut into anything bigger than a 9" square.  My general rule is if it fits on this 8 x 8 inch rotating cutting mat then it's perfect for scrappy.

And I use a small 6.5" square acrylic ruler and rotary cutter.

I also have this fantastic little ruler that I got from Cotton Treasures in Senatobia, MS. 
It measures 6.5 x 2.5 inches.  On one side of the ruler it's numbered with whole inches, the other side is marked at the half inch points. That takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it it's quite handy!! The best part of this acrylic ruler is that's it's manufactured with rough spots on the bottom side. This minimizes slippage on those tiny pieces!
I'm not sure if you can see the rough dots on the ruler, but you can see the shadows of them.

So those are the tools I use.  Oh, I also have a waste basket near because I do throw away slivers of fabric that are too tiny to accommodate seam allowances. See! I'm exercising self restraint and self discipline again! Yay me 😄.

The bigger pieces get cut to 5" squares because that's the standard size of charms. I prefer to use the lines on the acrylic ruler to measure, not the mat lines. 

The next size is 2.5" squares, which is the size of mini charm packs.  Using the 2.5" width ruler makes it easy to see if the fabric is big enough and the rotating mat makes trimming go so much faster!

This next piece is not big enough for a 2.5" square.  See the top right corner? There's not enough fabric for seam allowance.

So the next size is 1.5" squares.

Now I have to decide if I want to take it a step further. This is the part that may be bordering on insanity here! The size is a 1" square.
I used to think 1" pieces of fabric were ridiculous.  I never would've considered it until I laid eyes on this book:
See the star points on that cover? Those are made with 1" squares!! 
This tiny piecing isn't for everyone. I resisted for a long time. Now I'm hooked 😆. I just can't help it, look at those 2.5" Twinkling Stars!! 
These blocks use both the 1.5" and 1"  scrappy squares! Cool, huh?

Ok, back to determining if the leftover pieces are to be cut to 1 inch squares.  I only have to make sure 3 corners are in tact and I can skimp on the 4th corner.  It's the half square triangle technique where you sew on the diagonal and clip the corner.
The bigger consideration is the print. In this case I think the print is too big for tiny star points. 
I'd rather use these pieces in crumb blocks just as they are....  I think of crumb piecing as a modern take on crazy quilting. It's an involved topic on its own.... But here are some of my crumb pieced blocks...  🤔 They're conveniently 2.5" squares! 😁

Crumb piecing is very addicting.  No two blocks are alike! Now I have seventy-two 2.5" blocks. They'll be neatly stacked and stored with the 2.5" mini charm scrap squares until I decide what to do with them.

Ok!! All in the name of scrap piecing!
Here is the beginning of my "scrap system" and the storage boxes I use to keep it all neat.
When I outgrow these boxes, I'll probably start sorting by color too.  
Lol, is it possible to find peace and balance at the brink of insanity?  It doesn't matter, I am totally pleased with these efforts and look forward to continuing!!
Thanks for visiting! Hope to be back soon!

Friday, December 15, 2017


A little break from quilting.
I find it odd that I resist the final step of a project, especially when that step is starching and blocking.  I guess in my mind it's a messy, complicated process.
In reality, it's only as complicated as you want to make it.  The results from a Google search for "starching recipe for crochet" shows a variety of solutions. Recipe ingredients range from sugar & water to a cornstarch solution to glue & water to using spray starch and more!
I've tried the sugar solution and the glue solution, both are great for very stiff starching. Perfect for snowflakes and star ornaments.
But I wanted these doilies to have a little drape and I wanted simple so I used a 1/5 solution of liquid laundry starch and water.
Next, I grabbed a foam core board, as many pins I could find, and a 12" dinner plate to draw a circle.  Just so you know, if you're ever blocking, you'll want to use steel pins. They don't rust like nickle plated pins. I was in a hurry and willing to take the chance using my applique pins. (No damage to my pins that I can see but I may have to use a sand pincushion next time I applique.)

I wish I had taken some before pictures. The transformation is incredible.  .. I'll tell you, there's ALWAYS a point in every project that I have doubt and I'm tempted to set it aside and start something new (perhaps something better)... Before this final step, i wouldn't even have given the square doily to Goodwill! I'm so grateful that I didn't give up. The blocking helped fix the issues I was having with the square doily.  By the time I placed the last pin I finally felt I created something beautiful!  And I was proud to wrapped them up to be gifted to a quilting friend. 💓

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Unexpected Joys

Some things (maybe most things) don't happen as a person would expect.  Life has a way of springing surprises.  
I've started this blog update several times. And every start sounded so cryptic because the story is not mine alone so I'm cautious about revealing too much.
What I will say is something wonderful is working in my life, guiding me in a particular direction, and it's unexpected.
It's similar to that happy bubble deep inside growing and growing. The warmth of it radiating outward and overflowing.... however, it's not euphoric, it's contentment, a feeling of peace and all's well 😊.
So besides the afore mentioned, there's also quilting!!  I can talk all I want about quilting 🤗...
Of course, when a quilting experiment is a success, and a purpose presents itself (a recipient) before the item is completed (giving a reason for a speedy completion).... What's not to feel good about?!!  Let me tell you about it.

I love making Scrappy quilts!!

I love quilt books with ideas on how to make scrappy quilts!
front cover
back cover
I needed a quick project to take to my Monday long-arm session.  The Original Ticker Tape quilt on page 138 of Sunday Morning Quilts book by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison was perfect!
I picked out a piece of fabric for the top, another one for the back, a left over piece of batting, and one of my shoe boxes full of scraps.
The book instructions are for using a domestic machine.  However, with only slight modification, i figured it would probably be even easier on the long arm machine.
And so this was my experiment! Not bad at all 😄...
Basically, it's applying the scrap pieces onto the quilt as you're doing the actual quilting.
I used a high loft polyester batting.  I wasn't sure how well that was going to work up with this technique.

I think it turned out pretty well. And by the time I got to attaching the binding, I knew exactly who this quilt belonged to.  My newest grand-nephew, whom I have not met in person yet, has managed to snuggle his way into my 💓.

These pics are to show what you can expect with the first washing.  Because it's raw edge applique there's a bit of lint and fraying.
That's the charm of raw edge!! It's a fuzzy, comfy, worn-in, raggedy effect! Simply trim of any strings that are hanging on and throwb the quilt back into the washer and dryer one more time. Trim strings again if needed, then it's ready to be used.

Ok, Little guy who has stolen my heart with just photos over the internet. This one is for you!!

And I liked this new technique well enough that I've started another Ticket Taper quilt!!