Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two Watercolor UFO's

Tonight I finished up two more UFO's-would you believe I have only one UFO left to quilt and bind and then I am UFO-less, whatever will I do? I have a plan never fear, there are many WHIMMs, kits and other projects that will be my focus next year. It's sad that it has taken me so many years to get organized but at my eh, advanced age I realize I must have a good plan or I will leave behind a big mess!
I like to show the back of the quilt, it's often difficult to see the quilting from the front.
A couple [maybe more] of years ago I decided to make quilted banners for sister churches in Rwanda. These two wall-hanging sized quilts are for that purpose but after arranging them on a design board I put the board behind the door, behind another board-and
sort of conveniently forgot them- in truth, I had lost my mojo for them! So they were on the bottom of my UFO list and this week it came down to where I had no choice but to work on them because, gasp, I had run out of UFO's to work on!

Funny, but finishing them up wasn't difficult at all, I seemed to have recovered my mojo and they went together fairly easily. No labels yet, the wording has to be finalized.

I have made so many of these Watercolor "Resurrection" quilts[that's what I call them] I have lost count but at least twenty and no two are identical. Most are this smaller size, a couple have been another size up that were commissioned works and the largest is the first one I made, now more than a decade ago. Many of them can be seen on my webshots, the link is in my sidebar.
This is the first Resurrection quilt I made, it's much larger, and there have been many in between. It's clear that the little quilts really require a different technique because of the limited design area and I have changed the style a bit with each new one. The quilt above hangs on the wall in the loft behind my long-arm machine and it was one of the earliest projects that I quilted on my first long-arm machine.

Tomorrow I have baby Matthew for the day and also luncheon guests, a quilting buddy who moved to CA last year is back for a visit and it's always fun to connect with quilting friends even if our families can't understand the fascination with our favorite topic!
One of my quilting friends asked for more detail on the quilting so I took a couple of close ups of the backs and they are posted here.

Friday, November 27, 2009


This week has been busy, too busy to post since Monday. I had loads of baking to do Wednesday and Thanksgiving we were gone most of the day, in fact poor Button acted as if we had been gone for a month. She tried three times to jump into my arms as I came in the door and my arms were full so she didn't succeed until the fourth try by which time I had dropped all the stuff on the counter. She fussed and chattered and scolded me for several minutes, "You were gone so long I thought you'd never come back, I was so lonely all by myself here, where were you? I didn't have any fun, I didn't get to go to the park today either and now I am awfully hungry and you took all that yummy smelling food with you!" And so on and so forth scarcely pausing to breathe, funny little dog!
Doesn't she look so sad and neglected?
Here are a few pics from Thanksgiving at Mem's parent's house. Her Mum and me, decked out in our aprons.............
four of my fellas......oldest and youngest DS, DGS #3 and DH.
the beautiful little family.....
Daddy and his little boy.......
playing airplane, he loves that........
and finally, with doting Grandmother.
I did manage to get in a bit of sewing, my last two UFO's are now ready to quilt and as they are small and the same size and will both be quilted with the same thread color, I mounted them side by side on the LA this evening. Tomorrow I plan to get them quilted and bound. These two are for our sister churches in Kigeme and Taba, Rwanda.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mindless Sewing

This weekend I indulged in a mindless sewing break-I wanted to sew but didn't want to tackle anything challenging or items already in progress, I felt the need for new projects easily completed.
The result:
four more presentation cases for the QOV's I need to ship off to Alycia.
Each of the quilts for our wounded warriors is presented in some kind of fabric bag, I usually make mine similar to a pillow case and about the size of a standard pillow. None are identical in size, I cut up the fabric according to whatever I have in order to end up with an appropriate size to hold the quilt. They are very simply sewn from bits and pieces in my R.W and blue stash, most half yard or FQ size and in keeping with the patriotic theme.
Here you can see the French seams so there is no fraying, the inside is very neat and they sew up lightning fast. They can be used as pillow covers or for storing the quilt if not in use. It's a nice way to present the quilts, makes them a little more special. I try to put a personal note in with each quilt but I missed that with the last box, just got in a hurry and forgot!

There are four more selvedge pot holders to add to the collection......
I now have 13, all will probably be given away by Christmas.

And two more selvedge pin cushions!
How is that for some mindless sewing? I have a nice sense of accomplishment that came stress free and I have something to show for my weekend. Into the bargain I have a few more little gifts and the QOV bags are ready.
I am almost out of selvedges so I will have to put that project on the shelf for a while. This week I need to get back to the long arm anyway, the Singing His Praises BOM awaits me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Binding A Quilt

Lit And Laundry hosts Finished For Friday so you can visit there to add your success story for the last day of the work week!This quilt is a rescue job! "C" made it for her DGD over a decade ago, tied it, and DGD has loved the quilt Mimi made and almost washed it to death! The backing had been turned to the front for binding and had worn through and all the fabrics are thin and fragile. I suggested to "C" that perhaps it's time to make DGD a new one but that suggestion was not enthusiastically received!
I had to remove over an inch of fabric on all sides of the backing where it had worn through and fortunately "C" had saved all the left over bits so I had enough to add a strip to the back and to make new double fold binding. The quilt is square and flat but the fabrics are so thin and soft that it doesn't hang well, looks fine on the bed though.
I used a pale lavender thread and quilted large feathery freehand all over so with the new QD batting and the double binding it is now as strong as it can be.
Those of you who know me also know by now that I rarely hand bind anymore, only show quilts really, all utility quilts I bind by machine.
A Blogland friend had some questions about my machine binding method so I thought while binding this quilt I could make a tut.
I most often cut bindings 2.25" wide, then fold in half lengthwise and press making a 1.125" double fold binding. I may cut the strips either across the width or lengthwise depending on the amount of fabric available. Some purists insist there is less stretch lengthwise, and rightly so though I have not noticed much if any difference in applying bindings. I always join the strips on the bias, same as for borders and I make sure I have an extra foot or two of binding to work with.
This method works best using a walking foot to handle the bulk of four layers of fabric plus batting. I use thread to match front and backing as closely as possible and I prefer to use a very fine thread such as 50wt or 60wt. Superior Bottom Line or So Fine work well for this purpose as they sink into the fabric and are less obvious.
I attach the binding first to the front, then turn it to the back and complete the process because I like the look of the finish better, but I have also done it the other way. You can try it both ways and see which you prefer, it may be more appropriate to do it one way for one quilt and the other way for a different quilt.
Here you can see I am attaching it first to the front.
Begin binding application a foot or more from the corner and leave about an 8" tail of binding free to enable a neat 45 degree join at the end.
I sew 3/8" from the edge because I find I get a nicer tight, full binding than if I sew only one fourth inch. Stop the stitching 3/8" of an inch from the corner.
To make the miter fold the binding back at a 45 degree angle
then fold it back on itself and place a pin 3/8" from the corner. You should just barely be able to see the raw edges of the quilt above the folded edge of the binding. Put the needle down right by the pin and continue stitching around the other sides.
Stop when you get within about a foot, no less, from where you started.
Joining the two ends can be quite intimidating but once you do it a couple of times you will wonder that it ever bothered you!
Bring the two free tails of binding together snugly and place a pin where they meet about in the middle of the un-sewn area. Mark these points with a pencil where they are pinned at the raw edges.
Then with the quilt laying out in front of you place the furthest [upper] free end of binding right side up and the nearest [lower] end right side down on it at right angles so that the tails cross over each other matching up the pencil marks you made. Draw a line diagonally top to bottom left to right as above and stitch along the line.
This step was the most confusing for me and it took a few tries to work out my own no-fail method so don't give up. Email me if you have further questions and I'll do my best to 'splain, maybe make a little video for this step.
Check to see that you have done it accurately then trim off the tails........
and you have a clean neat join. Continue sewing to finish stitching the binding on to the first side of the quilt.Turn the binding to the other side and pin. I make sure my pins are right on the seam line just slightly below it. You can pin vertically or horizontally, I do either/both depending on my mood! I pin about 6-8" ahead and continually check the back to make sure I am still in the groove!
Here's is how it would look on the other side the pins lying right alongside the seam so you can barely see them.
I use an SID foot[Stitch In The Ditch] for the final stitching of the binding. I know most machine brands have one of these if you ask at your machine store or go online, eBay may have them for your brand. Before I found out about the SID foot [at a class for piped binding] I used my all purpose foot and it works fine but the SID foot makes it really easy to sew accurately along the very edge of the binding. It has a little "lip" to guide right along the edge of the fold. I move my needle position over three clicks to the right so that my stitching just catches the very edge of the fold.
There was a brief video showing how the lip in the center of the SID foot runs right alongside the folded edge of the binding and the needle just catches the edge, but it was lost from the post and will not reload. Apologies and I will see if I can get help from Blogger.

So here's how it looks from the front, I think it's quite acceptable and very durable for utility quilts
Here you see the mitered corners, well- filled binding [something judges get quite picky about] and how the stitching is barely noticeable from the front and isn't at all distracting.
Although I think this is very suitable for most quilts I would not machine finish a quilt that I intended to enter in a show.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

VTT English China

Each Thursday a few dozen bloggers join Colorado Lady to celebrate our love of Vintage Thingies so check out the other bloggers listed there.
This past week I realized that I had omitted a couple of cups and saucers from the VTT post I did a few weeks ago, these two were on a different shelf and were overlooked.

The first has violets-I am particularly fond of violets, my Mum used to have them growing almost wild in her very English style garden at Leura in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. As a child I was permitted to pick a few to place in a vase on my dressing table, the fragrance was so sweet.
Made in England by Royal Vale company.
The second shows posies of a daisy and perhaps Forget- me -Nots..........manufactured by Rosina China company, England

Both are dainty bone china sets for the nicest cup of tea.
The final tea related item I purchased in Oxford, England in 1971. It is a typically English teapot, china pots make the best tea!

The castle depicted is Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world, almost 500,000 square feet- in the center is the distinctive Round Tower!

This castle dates back to William the Conqueror and is one of the official residences of the British Monarchy. Far left in the picture above is the Round Tower shown on my teapot.

Elizabeth's QOV

Elizabeth from Houston sent me this lovely top to finish for a Wounded Warrior. I quilted, bound and labeled it today and have to make the presentation case tomorrow.
I don't know the name of the pattern and I must remember to ask Elizabeth. I think it looks a little scrappy, there are no two blocks the same-I find this style of quilt so charming and old fashioned and very satisfying to make because we can often use up small pieces left over from other projects.
From the back you can see the quilting, a Stars and Stripes flag design. It has been washed and dried and has acquired the traditional wrinkly look of a quilt. Here is what Liz said about her quilt:
"I think I shall call it Pair It Up Block of the Month.
It was my Block of the Month designed for Great Expectations Quilt Store in Houston, Tx.
Each set of fabrics made a pair of blocks with the same fabrics. One had a dark focus and the other had a light focus."
So there you have it!
The tidy label made on my little Brother embroidery machine, I am very pleased with this machine. Now if I just had time to study the tutorials I could do all sorts of wonderful things with it.
I had no idea when I acquired it where or how I would store it to be handy but not too intrusive, my studio is a very small space with a lot of very important "stuff" in it!
I was able to re-purpose a sturdy rolling cart to hold the machine and some accessories [said cart used to hold my printer in the office and was replaced by something more practical and aesthetically pleasing] and the drawers are really handy for extra storage in the studio. Any artist or crafter will tell you there is never enough storage space in their work/design area.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More Selvedge Madness!

Saturday was the monthly "Craft And Chat" at church, I hadn't been since last winter I think so I packed up some stuff to work on and headed down to the church. There were only a few of us this time but we had a nice visit and I finished the last three of my SITP blocks for the week.

I took along some mindless sewing, my bag of selvedges, scrap batting and Insulbrite, a heat reflective batting that protects hands from hot pots and pans. It's available at Joann's [use a coupon!] Hobby Lobby and other fabric stores.
I now have another seven of these cute pot-holders, even the binding is selvedge. My favorite is the red,white and black, the rest are very much an eclectic mix of color and designs.
I used the "stitch and flip" method utilizing scrap batting for the foundation on either side then enclosing a square of Insulbrite in the middle. At the end of the binding I make a loop and fold it back on itself and secure it to the edge with a couple of rows of stitches. As I said, mindless sewing, they go together very fast and you can chat and not pay attention to what you are doing!
This method works well for any leftover strips of fabric too narrow for other uses, as small as one inch-less than that is not worth sewing. Try a couple they are addictive, they make charming hostess gifts especially around the holidays along with a plate of cookies anyone can use another pot-holder!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finished For Friday, Another UFO

I had three quilt finishes this week but I have already blogged about two of them- here is the third, a UFO that I really disliked..... that's why it was a UFO, LOL! It's called a One Block Wonder and I am now permanently immune to this design! Well, allergic might be a better word.
I slogged through the piecing and then added two bright borders from stash and a Mardi Gras backing- also from stash. The borders are so bright that they distract from the awfulness of the body of the quilt so I don't even hate it anymore! Don't love it mind you but don't despise it either and it's a nice size for a kid's quilt. Amazing what a couple of eye popping borders & some quilting can do, right?

It's quilted with orange thread in zig-zag lines in the body of the quilt and curls in the borders. It went fairly fast and I am so happy and proud that I did not let this quilt get the better of me!
I had bright fabric for backing [left over from a Mardi Gras quilt years ago] that would never blend with anything else I made and I'm happy to have used up most of it now.
Yeah, it's done and I have only two more UFO's both small watercolor quilts and I'm hopeful I can get those finished too in the next month. More on that later.