Thursday, April 9, 2015

I Guess It Happens To Every Quilter

 I've been working on my hexagons again.  I told you about piecing these hexagons back in this post.  After I had all the hexagons pieced together I had to let them sit and marinate for a while.  (Another word for putting it off.)  You know how that goes, right!?!?

I had made hexagons out of smaller pieces like this one.

And now I am finally sewing the hexagons together.  I made equilateral triangle paper pieces by cutting some diamonds in half.  Then I basted them to this nice off-white fabric with small dots in it.  These triangles fill in the spaces between my hexagons.  I laid all the pieced hexagons out on my bed. Then I arranged and rearranged them until I was happy with the placement of each one.

Here are two rows which I have joined together.

More examples of how some of the hexagons were pieced.

So I did quite a bit of this sewing yesterday.  Quite.  A.  Bit.  I realized later that I had sewn for a few hours all in one sitting.  I had the time, so I just kept going.  Well, the trouble didn't manifest itself until this morning.  Then I could feel a lot, LOT of soreness in my left wrist.  Below is a picture of my wrist.  Now, this is a dramatization, and is not at all an accurate representation of my joints.  (Just having a little fun here. . .)

But my wrist is definitely sore.  I think I may have to try crocheting for a few days instead, and see if it is a little easier on my wrist.  I've started a pink baby afghan.  It's a simple single crochet pattern, with two rows of {double crochet, space one} whenever I feel like it.

Hopefully this soreness will go away on its own in a few days. (Keeping my fingers crossed!)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sole Searching

Now, I don't claim to be the world's most avid walker, and I admit to having some very sedentary hobbies, but look at what's been happening to my shoes!

I came home from several hours of shopping one day recently and discovered that my shoe was falling apart.  Simply disintegrating!  Maybe I'm a more powerful shopper than I realize.

Later, while hiking on a trail, I thought my boot felt odd.  This is why!  More shoes falling apart.

This sole, too, was disintegrating.  The next day while hiking it came off completely!

I have to confess that although not worn every day, or every week, my boots are probably about 20 years old!  (Very comfortable.)  And my black shoes had a few years on them, too.

What's a girl to do?  


Go shoe shopping!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Asilomar/Empty Spools 2015

I just spent a wonderful five days at Asilomar, on the Monterey coast of California, attending Empty Spools Seminars.  Such a beautiful place to be, and quilting all day long with others is a real treat.  This year I took a class from Denise Oyama Miller and Nancy Ryan called "Landscape Impressions."  Boy, did I learn a lot!  They were great teachers with a great technique.

I started with a landscape photo.  I chose the one below, a street full of gingko trees in the fall when they are a beautiful yellow.  I proceeded to make the landscape mine by removing the street, houses, and cars, and adding in greenery/forest floor instead.

First I fused my batting onto my backing fabric.  The size of my piece is 14" x 24".  Onto this "canvas" of the layered batting, I began to build my landscape.

It was loosely sketched out with chalk onto the batting.  See--I've added a small path instead of the street and cars.  

The next job was to choose some fabric for my "picture quilt."  I had several blues that I thought would work for the sky, and someone in the class let me use these very light fabrics.

To make an impressionistic quilt with this method, I needed to cut my fabric up into tiny, tiny pieces.  I started with two strips about 2" wide lying on my cutting board.  After I had cut them into tiny strips by going back and forth with my rotary cutter, I cut the tiny strips into tinier pieces by slicing at 90 degrees from the first cuts.  (Sort of like finely dicing carrots!)

You can see how small the pieces are in this photo of my green pieces.

When I was done cutting all my blue colors, this is what my "palette" looked like.

Now comes the fun part!  I sprinkled these little blue pieces at the top of my canvas to form the sky.  I added the lighter pieces near the top.  Even though there are going to be those lovely yellow gingko leaves covering some of the same place, I needed to have a background of sky on which to build.

Now that the sky is pretty much done, it's time to start working on the lower part of the canvas.  This needs to be done before I work on the trees.  Here I have laid down a few very dark (black and dark gray) pieces for the very back of the undergrowth, where there would be shadows from the trees. 

Here I have it filled in with several different shades of browns and grays.  I've left a space where I'm going to put a path.  

At long last I get to start working on the beautiful trees.  Below you can see the palette of colors which I've prepared.  A hotel plastic room key is an easy way to pick up (or move) a lot of little pieces at once. As is a putty knife.  I used my fingers to pick up small amounts to sprinkle on my quilt.

Now I have all the trees finished.  As the original photo showed different shades of yellows, golds, and oranges, I have added these colors to my quilt.  Also, some of the leaves haven't turned yellow yet.  They are a lighter green than normal, and were just about to turn yellow.

I filled in the path with a lighter brown color.  Later I will do some stitching on the path to further differentiate it from the area around it.  You can see a few places where the sky is showing through the trees.  I learned that the technical artist's term for this is "sky holes."

After I had the leaves in place, I cut some tree trunks and branches from brown fabric.  I tucked them in underneath the leaves, and sprinkled some more leaves on top.

A closer view of the path.

At this point it was time to start getting all of this stuff held down.  I did that by v-e-r-y 
c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y laying a piece of black tulle over top of everything.  Then it needed to all be basted together with millions of safety pins!  They are placed one to two inches apart.

Close-up of quilt with safety pins.

A word about the tulle netting.  It doesn't obscure the scene, but it tends to help meld the different colors together.  It will dull down just slightly a very bright quilt, or make a little darker an already dark quilt.  Strangely enough, white tulle obscures the quilt a lot more than black tulle.

The following photo shows the small branches that I quilted into the trees.

In the photo below I have filled the quilt with closely spaced stitching using monofilament thread.  You can see some of the tulle netting here.

Here you can see the meandering stitches I used to define the path.

There is a lot of dense quilting on the back, isn't there!

And here is the final product.

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Dad

Bob Herbert
July 3, 1926 - January 13, 2015

My wonderful father, grandfather to my kids,
and great-grandfather to GranddaughterStitches

I miss you so much.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sewing On The Go

How many of you sew while a passenger in a car (or train or plane)?  I found a wonderful idea to facilitate that activity here at the SewManyWays blog.  Check it out.  Karen has so many good ideas on her blog.

It starts out with a kitchen sink sponge holder that attaches to the inside of a sink with suction cups.  In this case, I've attached it to the car window.  (I must add that this works fine, as long as you don't try to roll down the window!)  This receptacle holds many of my sewing necessaries.

A small pin cushion is simply stitched onto the holder through the holes in the plastic.

A fold-up scissors is on a lengthy ribbon for easy use.  When I'm not using it I just place it inside the plastic container.

I think the pink "tape measure" ribbon works perfectly here.  It is just attached with hot glue.  It's only for decoration.  You can also see that the thread comes right out through one of the holes in the container.  I just pull and cut off the length I need.

Below is a top view of the little container, showing how my spool of thread and needle threader/cutter fit inside.  I usually put my little blue Thread Heaven box in here, too.  Or it could be filled with English Paper Piecing papers and fabric squares.  Or thread and a  little cup holding safety pins or clips when sewing down a binding, label, or sleeve.

I should add that this small scissors (and the whole package) passed through airport security with no problem.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christmas Ornaments from Shiny Happy World

Last fall I saw in Shiny Happy World's newsletter that they were offering patterns for Christmas tree ornaments.  I love making my own ornaments, so I paid the (reasonable) fee to begin receiving the patterns.  Every week a new pattern came in my email box.  I also bought her kit of felt sheets, as I didn't have very many myself.  

I thought maybe I could keep up with one small pattern each week!

I really don't remember in what order the patterns came.  I thought this little birdie was quite pretty.  Look at the lovely embroidery.

This cute little present is actually open in at the top, so it could be used to hold a gift card.  The instructions said to do a running stitch around the edges for all the ornaments, but sometimes I used a blanket stitch instead.

When Wendy (the owner of Shiny Happy World) sent me the snowman pattern, I decided to make a snow woman to keep him company.  It was easy to just alter the pattern a little bit.

There were a few non-Christmasy ornaments, as well!  I think the dinosaur is cute, and an interesting change of pace.

There has to be a Santa, doesn't there.  I should have made a Mrs. Claus for him.  That will be one to make for next year!

Here are a couple of the non-traditional ornaments.  I bought some black felt and customized this ornament to reflect my own black cats.

This cute little matryoshka doll ornament was quite a bit more work, but she is worth it, I think.

I can definitely see myself making more of these next year--for my tree and for others' trees, too.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hexies Are Everywhere!

Hexies (as in English Paper Piecing) are becoming more and more popular.  I keep seeing articles about EPP in magazines, photos on the internet, and it seems more and more people are using this method of piecing.

I recently saw a very nice hexagon pattern in an unlikely place.  At a LuluLemon store opening in a mall near me!

Hexagons really are popping up everywhere!