Friday, March 30, 2012

Tumbling Blocks Quilt--Progress (?)

I have to admit that it's been quite a while since I've done any hand-quilting on my tumbling blocks quilt. (Bad MissesStitches!) But I did some work on it today, and I vow to work on it on a more regular basis. I know that I just need to sit my little tush down in the chair and do some quilting every day in order to make progress.

I really do enjoy hand quilting, though. It's so quiet and relaxing, in its own way. MomStitches does quite a bit of hand quilting, and I remember my grandmother sitting at her quilting frame stitching away. So it makes me feel a little bit connected to them when I am hand quilting.

I took the quilt off the frame today and laid it over the bed to check out just which parts I have done. Happily enough, I've got a good-size chunk finished right in the middle. Which is what I had planned to do, but you never know! As I get closer to the edges, that will mean less fabric hanging over the edges of the frame, therefore, less fabric to reach underneath and have to support with my left arm.

Did have one little hiccup this afternoon. I've been using this hard plastic (?) (rubber?) thimble for quite a while (below), and have been very happy with it. Recently, however, I've noticed the eye end of the needle sometimes sticking into the thimble. And today I saw that the very end appears to have some holes in it. Maybe the rubber has disintegrated a little bit. Not sure.

That caused me to pick up this thimble (below) which I have used a lot, too. It's particularly good if your nails are just a little bit long, as there is room for the nail to extend beyond the thimble. Also, with its openness, your finger doesn't tend to get too moist if it's a warm day. This thimble felt very light and unobtrusive on my finger, after the rubber/plastic one.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Giants Spring Training

MisterStitches and I just got home from Phoenix (Scottsdale). We went to attend some of the SF Giants spring training games. Here is a view of one of the games--gorgeous weather. The Giants won, too!

Got to see one of our favorites, Tim Lincecum, pitching. Hit pitches were looking good. I think his hair is even longer this year.

On the way home we got off the highway to get gas and happened upon the General George Patton Memorial Museum in Chiriaco, California.

This was way out in the middle of nowhere in the southern California desert. Quite an interesting museum. We didn't spend long, but viewed a lot of WWII displays inside, and then there were the tanks parked outside. (With, I might add, a sign warning of rattlesnakes. Yikes!)

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I got a lot of hand-sewing done on the drive down and back. Finished the top for a small wall hanging that will go in my guild's challenge this year. See earlier post about the challenge here.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Favorite Toy/Tool

I've discovered a wonderful app on my iPad which helps me with quilting. It's called Chalkboard. Chalkboard allows me to draw on my iPad screen with the tip of my finger. It's great for doodling, which of course, makes it great for drawing quilting designs. It's a good way to practice the movement, so that it gets embedded into the brain!

This app costs 99 cents, and I might add that GranddaughterStitches likes it a lot, too!

Aside: BabyStitches has informed me that she is not a baby, so I have now changed her name to GranddaughterStitches.

Above your can see some doodling I did while trying to find a sky and/or water quilting motif. The app allows me to save drawings, too, so I can refer back to something I've recorded there. I sometimes draw other things, like simple ideas for quilts, or a sketch of something I've seen that I think might make a good quilting motif.

There are even different colors of chalk available! I highly recommend this app. I have something similar on my iPhone, but that surface is just too small for me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Knee Pads

I want to show you one of my favorite new toys. My knee pads. I happened to be spending some time in a hardware store one day when I came across these. I'd always thought it would be a good idea to have these for when I need to crawl around on the floor, basting a quilt.

(Rather silly job of me photographing my own kneepads!)
(Very cute, aren't they!)

I suppose, like me, many of you try to avoid crawling around on the floor as much as possible. Which is a very good philosophy. But there are some times when it just can't be avoided.

I have a {cute pink} garden kneeling pad that I have used in the past. And it certainly is better than nothing. But these little babies stay right with me wherever I go! Best $10 I've ever spent!

Sometimes the hardware store can be a great place for a quilter to shop.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guild Challenge

My guild's annual quilt challenge show is coming up in less than a month. This year I am heading up that committee. Above you can see the poster for the quilt show. I'm very excited about it. This is the 16th year that my guild, Pacific Piecemakers Quilt Guild, has had a challenge. And it's the 6th time that I have participated (ever since I've been a member). This is always one of the highlights of the year for us. The participation tends to ebb and flow, but last year we had about 80 quilts! Not sure if I'll get that many this year, but I'm hoping for a good turnout.

Every year there is a different theme, and this year's theme, as you can see, is West Coast Splendor. I expect to see many representations of coastal beauty in our quilts.

I have one quilt almost finished, but I can't show you a photo of it yet, because some of us like to keep our quilts a surprise from our fellow guild-members. And I had an idea last week for a second quilt to enter. So I've started work on it, and hope to have it completed in time. It will be a very small wall hanging. I can, however, show you some sneak peeks.

You're not surprised to see hexagons, are you!?!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Make Quilting Tax Deductible"

Isn't this a great license plate frame!

"Make Quilting Tax Deductible"

Seen in the parking lot outside Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF), 2011

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Things I'm Learning About English Paper Piecing

I've posted previously about my Grandmother's Flower Garden project here and here. And I've been learning things! Little tricks that make English Paper Piecing easier.

1. Needles Matter

Ever since SisterStitches gave me my first packet of Clover Black Gold needles, I've loved them! I use the quilting needles for quilting (of course!), and the applique/sharps for any intricate hand work. I can't say enough about these needles. They are very fine, and very sharp. When you don't want your stitches to show, as in hand piecing or appliqué, these are the needles to use.

2. Pressing

I press a lot when doing this kind of work. Of course, I press any wrinkles out of the fabric to begin with. That simply makes them easier to handle.

Then I press after I have basted the fabric pieces to the papers. At first I was using a dry iron, but lately I've been using Mary Ellen's Best Press. I like the nice sharp, crisp edges I get on the hexagons. This should lead to better accuracy when sewing two hexagons together.

Ed. 3/20/18  If you are using the glue method to baste, I'm not sure if I would press afterwards or not.  It might make the glue more permanent, that's my fear.  And it may not be as necessary.  But I really like pressing when I'm using thread to baste.

And I also press a section when it is all sewn together, and before I remove any of the papers.

3. Pinning the paper to the fabric

I'm not sure where I read this, but it helps things a lot to pin the fabric hexagon to the paper prior to basting. That keeps the edges a little more even on the back side, making sure that I stay centered on the paper.

4. A small binder clip for holding the hexagons together

This is a great idea! I use a small binder clip to hold together the two hexagons that I am sewing at the moment. As you can see in the photo above, I was able to put this clip off to the side, holding the shapes together and leaving my entire seam open to sewing. Sometimes, however, the clip goes part way on top of the seam I'm sewing. I simply remove it when I get to that point.

5. Thread

Another love I have is for very fine thread. Here is my collection of threads I keep in my English Paper Piecing bag. They are all either Bottom Line by Libby Lehman, or So Fine!, both by Superior Threads. The Bottom Line is a 60 weight thread, and the So Fine! that I'm using is a 50 weight. If your thread takes up less space, presumably you can get a more accurate seam. It does tend to tangle if the tail is left too long, so I have to work with a "tidy" amount of thread.

6. Template for cutting

SisterStitches gave me this idea, which is to cut a plastic template with the seam allowances added for drawing the fabric shapes. Some people simply use a square of fabric to baste to the papers. But I like the neatness of having a hexagonal piece of fabric to baste to a hexagonal piece of paper. The beauty is that you can make the template the size of your paper hexagon plus the "seam allowance" amount that gets folded over and basted to the back of the paper. At first I used a template that added 1/4" to my paper size. But I soon cut another template that had 3/8" added. That gives me a little more fabric to hang onto when I'm basting the fabric to the paper.

Also, an indelible pen is a must. I once tried a ball point pen, which totally messed up my plastic template. And any ink that is not permanent could bleed when it gets sprayed and ironed.

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Maybe I'll figure out some more good tricks as I go along. If you have any tricks or tips to share with me, please let me know!