Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sisterhood of the Traveling Triangles

I received an oversized brown envelope in the mail today and it had this sticker on it:

Your HSTs are here!

So exciting!!! A couple months ago (of which I am a member) hosted an exchange. Using pre-printed half square triangle tear-away papers, we could send in as many HSTs as we wanted. They would sort them, exchange them with every other TQS member who sent in HSTs, and then we would get a return package of the same number that we had sent in.

Sewing HSTs in one continuous piece (I think there are 18 HSTs on each sheet of paper) is so very easy, but I limited myself to a total of 84. (Now I wish I had done more!)

Here they are, all laid out on my dining room table. It's so exciting to look at them and see where they all came from. You see, we were asked to put our name and location on the paper portion of the HSTs.

With the above close-up you can see where some of my HSTs used to live.

It's going to be a lot of fun to get them all opened up, pressed, and figure out what to do with them.

Any suggestions for this limited number of HSTs? Or maybe I should make some more.....

And here at the bottom are my "famous" HSTs. The hosts of The Quilt Show, Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson each sewed an HST for everyone involved, and they signed their names on the front side of their little squares.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Father Christmas

I recently finished this stuffable/toy/decoration for Christmas. I am quite happy with how Father Christmas turned out. This was one of those printed panel things where all the pattern pieces are printed on the fabric.

I really liked the ripped fabric for Santa's beard. Nice and rustic! And yes, that is a pet kitty sitting on his shoulder. The kitty is made separately, then sewn on. I thought about attaching it with a piece of velcro or a snap, but I was afraid it might get lost that way.

This jolly elf will be going to my quilt guild's Christmas Faire sale in November.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sewing with Faux Fur

I started a little sewing project last week that involved faux fur. It has such a beautiful sheen, and nice silky feel to it.

Sewing and/or cutting it is another story altogether!

There are certain techniques to help reduce the fuzz production. For example, when cutting it out, I laid it furry side down, and used a small embroidery scissors to just cut through the backing material, not all of the hairs. That helped quite a bit.

When sewing a seam, it is desirable to not encase the hairs in the seam, because the seam should be nice and furry on the outside. This is accomplished by holding the two edges together, and then stuffing the hairs down into the seam with a knitting needle. (I used a small scissors because I didn't have a knitting needle handy.) It necessitates placing pins very close to each other, about a half-inch apart.

Even with all these precautions, the fur was really flying as I worked! After an hour or so of battling with this stuff, I looked like I had been rolling on the floor with two large, hairy dogs! Seriously--it was bad. My very next purchase was a dedicated pet hair remover that will live in my sewing area!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Quilt for MisterStitches

Remember when I showed a few peeks of a red quilt a while back? It is finished now and I have come up with a name for it! "Painted Desert" from "Grand Canyon Suite." This quilt came out quite big; I can't remember the exact size, but I think it's about 75" wide, and fairly square-ish. It is for our guild's challenge show this year, the theme of which is "Rhapsody in Hue." That was why I chose to have a musical reference in the title.

It is from a Kaffe Fassett pattern that I saw in a magazine. It's very simply strips sewn together using a 60 degree angle to join fabrics to create the strips.

Here you can see how I quilted it, just 1/4" lines on either side of each lengthwise seam. Easy peasy.

I really had fun with this quilt because I had such beautiful fabrics to work with. Which led me to a little epiphany-type thing. We quilters all have our special fabrics in our stashes, our very favorite ones, the ones we are afraid to use. Or at least I do. Being afraid to use up my special fabrics has been a stumbling block for me. But I finally realized that the fabric folded up so nice and neatly on my shelves is not doing me any good. I get a little enjoyment from it when I'm looking through the fabrics for something specific. But why buy and keep fabric if I'm not going to use it? I realized this several months ago.

Working on this quilt, which included many of my favorite fabrics was enjoyable for me because of the beautiful fabrics. All the while I was working on it, I was enjoying the colors, the patterns, and how they all went together. So I don't feel that I lost any fabric, I just used it, and I truly savored it during the process.

Below you can see a sample of the strippy binding that I used. That was a first for me. I've always used one single fabric for my bindings.

MisterStitches really likes this quilt, so it is going to be his quilt. Knowing that, I chose a mottled red flannel for the backing, so it will be nice to use while we are watching a movie on the sofa.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

This is a quilt I'm calling 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow.'
It was made in response to our guild's annual Challenge Show. This year's theme is

Rhapsody in Hue

and I immediately thought of using all the primary and secondary colors on the color wheel. I used Kona cottons for this quilt. It took quite a bit of drawing on graph paper to get it just how I wanted it. But as you can see, it's very simply made by sewing together many, many strips.

And I wanted it to be quite big. As you can see, MisterStitches is stretched as high as he can be, and it still puddles on the floor a little bit.

I want to show you some close-ups of the awesome quilting. Wonderful SisterStitches quilted it for me on her long-arm machine. I have a bit of trouble sometimes with tendonitis. And with the large size of this quilt, I just couldn't see myself pushing and pulling it through my regular-size machine.

Isn't she a great sister!?!?!? She did a really awesome job. The photo above shows a good example. In all the white areas she did an overall swirly pattern in white thread. She did different styles of quilting on different color strips. And I asked her to choose thread that is on the opposite side of the color wheel for the color blocks.
Green thread on red fabric, blue thread on orange fabric, etc.

By the way, SisterStitches does custom quilting for people, even people who live halfway across the country as I do! If you're interested, check out her blog Frayed Edge, and contact her that way.

Above you see an example of a yellow strip which has purple thread on it.

Here is the back of the quilt. I knew I would need to have a seam down the back, so I took some leftover fabric and made a strip of rainbow color to insert at the seam. I intentionally wanted the color strip to be off-center, because I thought it would be nearly impossible to get it centered exactly! The color shading you're seeing on the back of the quilt is just the colored bobbin thread used on the back of the colored blocks.

The challenge opens tonight (April 1st--no fooling!) and runs throughout the month at Gualala Arts Center in Gualala, California. If you're anywhere in the vicinity, try to check out the show.

The women in charge of the challenge this year asked that more of us make quilts, so we can have at least 50 quilts. Gualala Arts Center is 50 years old this year, so they 50 quilts would be appropriate. I'd guess that our challenge quilts usually number around 35-40. Final count of the quilts this year is somewhere around 85, so we really outdid ourselves!