Friday, May 22, 2015

A Large Handwork Project

One day while at a friend's house, several of us were sitting around the table doing some hand sewing.  One woman was looking through a "Fons and Porter" magazine (Sept/Oct 2014) and turned to the page with this quilt.

It immediately caught my eye because it is so colorful.  I really liked it.  My friend gave me the magazine--so nice of her!  And I proceeded to check out this pattern.

It is designed by Susan McDermott.  The magazine said that she made the quilt using hand appliqué, but they were giving the directions for how to make it by machine.  It just so happened that I was looking for a new hand-sewing project to carry around with me to quilting-friend get-togethers.  So I started in on it.

The pattern supplied templates, which I copied onto cardboard (for drawing on the fabric and cutting out the circles) and template plastic (for ironing the edges under).  There are actually four different sizes of squares in this quilt.  The circles are appliquéd on to the squares, then the blocks are cut into four pieces and re-pieced together.  I will do all of that work by machine, you can be sure!

Here is what my workload looks like.  I need 187 of the larger blocks and 33 of the smaller ones.  That's quite a few, but I've already gotten a fair number of them sewn up.  All of the small 4" square-circles are done, and quite a few of the larger ones are, too.

And the best part is that they are totally made from my scraps!  Not that it seems to have made much of a dent, but it's a start.

The block above shows a circle pinned to a square.  I iron the squares into quarters so I know where the center of each side is.  The circles have lines marked on them, too, so I know exactly where to place them.

After the circles are appliquéd on, I cut out the excess background fabric behind the circles in order to reduce the bulk.  The photo above shows this, although it's a little hard to see.

And here is the the same square seen from the front. 

I will be sure to keep you updated on the progress of this quilt. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

It's That Time of Year Again

It's that time of year again when I make a new "number t-shirt" for GranddaughterStitches.  The number this year is Seven!  How can she be this old already!?!  

I purchased the necessary t-shirt in the appropriate size, then searched through my computer fonts for a suitable number 7.  I decided to use the CurlzMT font, which gave me this number 7.  I like the 
curly-que at the bottom, and I think GranddaughterStitches will, too!

After I had printed out the 7, I took my pen and added a little more width to some of the narrow parts of the number.   And I ended up with this image.  

  I thought that would give me a little more fabric to attach to the t-shirt.

I then fused the number 7 to the center front of the t-shirt.

After that came the machine blanket stitch all the way around.

And here is the final result!

I opened up a few stitches on the side and added this little tag that says 
"PS I love you."

Happy Birthday, GranddaughterStitches!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Poppy Garden

I decided to start a California Poppy garden.   Aren't they pretty!

And I decided to put it right in the middle of our driveway! (tee hee) Maybe I should have made this an April 1st post!

But I totally love poppies. They look so bright and cheerful and are my favorite part of spring.  

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Here are more afghans I've made recently.  This blue and white one was really fun.  It was a variegated yarn, which is fun to work with.

Not sure if you can tell from the photos, but it is a "fuzzy" yarn.  I did simple double crochet with an open weave stitch put in at two points in the afghan.

I like to see what kind of color pattern emerges with variegated yarn.

Another variegated yarn--this one was really fun.  Look at how often the colors change!

It was a fine yarn, and I simply used double crochet back and forth.  It wasn't boring because of the fun yarn! 

A nice bright pink yarn went into this afghan.

I added some open weave stitching randomly as I went along.  Just whenever I felt like it!

This light blue afghan used a fat and fluffy yarn.  I keep telling myself I will not buy any more fat or textured yarn, yet it keeps calling to me!  I don't particularly like using it because it is harder to work with on my crochet hook.  But the end result is very nice.

Here is a shot of the afghan that shows how I alternated double crochet with skipped stitches to create a random pattern.

Lastly, here is a nice medium blue afghan, using just regular yarn!

I used a "skip one stitch, single crochet and double crochet in the next stitch" for this one.  I really like the textured pattern it makes.

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.