I had a lot of sewing related posts on my LiveJournal. Using the nifty “import” option, I brought those over here because I like to refer to them a lot and no sense going back and forth.

SFVQA Block Party for Oct/Nov 2011

Posted by on Oct 16, 2011 in LiveJournal, Project Review | Comments Off on SFVQA Block Party for Oct/Nov 2011

This is a nifty geometric block in which they wanted to use fall colors offset by white. I found enough colors, since I don’t really have much of a quilting stash, but I’m sure how “fall” they are. Here’s the finished piece: I was very pleased when even M took a look at it and said that my matching was getting better. Overall, there were only 3 rough spots but they are very minor. See the red circles in the below 2 photos to see where the alignment is not perfect, then go back up to the top photo and see if it’s such a glaring error that it detracts from the piece. I personally didn’t think so, and while I’ll continue to strive to make sure that the seams match up perfectly I’m not going to sweat each and every single one. Afterall, these blocks are my practice blocks — not only in terms of practicing the sewing/matching, but also with color play. As an aside, I made a vest for M which included welt pockets. I still need to do a post-mortem for that, but this piecing practice really helped me work those better. Still definitely need a lot of welt pocket practice, but getting better! Found a quote I’ve fallen in love with. I say it a lot when I working on stuff. First I have to get it right, THEN my aim is ultimately the second one. heh “Amateur’s practice something until they get it right; Professionals practice something until they can’t do it...

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6-Minute Circle Quilted Potholders

Posted by on Aug 10, 2011 in LiveJournal, Project Review | Comments Off on 6-Minute Circle Quilted Potholders

Yet another class taken at Quilt Emporium, this one was called 6-Minute Circle and it was taught by Shirley Vangerov. Shirley taught from the book by Dale Fleming called Pieced Curves So Simple. I’m definitely going to be getting this book!! It was a 2 hour class, and completely and totally worth the time and the money. Shirley taught the process very nicely, making it quick and easy to understand. I loved her focus on the technique, giving us a very simple little project (potholder) so that we can practice the process and end up with something useful. I walked out of the class with the face of this first potholder. I used 2 layers of cotton batting, since I only had a low-loft cotton batting and I really didn’t want to use the high loft polyester batting in a pot holder — the polyester would likely melt. Ick! I opted for a very basic and straight forward quilting pattern, basically just echoing the diagonal there. I did have fun matching the thread — pink thread on the pink and purple thread on the purple. That meant I had to stop sewing on the circle, and then go back with the matching thread to do the quilting line there. There’s only one place where I didn’t quite get the matching lines, but overall it’s invisible that I stopped/started at each color change point. I was particularly thrilled with the precision stitching I was able to execute along that primary purple/pink division, using pink thread and hugging the pink side of the line. There was only one small place where I hiccupped and got roughly 3 stitches of pink onto the purple. I left them there as a reminder to myself that more precision is required. The backside is very basic, and I liked using the background material as the binding — makes for a nice contrast on the front and a tie-in on the back. While the class was AWESOME, I took the opportunity to flip through the book, wondering how I’d do non-circle shapes. I found it that I them the exact same way! There were slightly different considerations depending on the shape, but basically the exact same steps. Shirley gave us the material to make our very first circle with, before we switched to using our own material. The pink/purple is my own material, but I had another circle which we created in class. I wanted to know how the process would work if I used another shape. For the first attempt, I used a very basic square, wondering how the corners of the square would turn out. Here’s what I did with the first teacher-provided-material-for-the-circle practice piece. As you can see in the close-up below, the corners of the squares are very neat and tidy. I was also extremely pleased with the overall precision sewing that I did right along the edges of the square. Again, there’s only one tiny place where 3 or 4 green stitches dip down into the black/white background. Again, I left them to forever taunt me and remind me there’s still more improvement to go. Had this been a real project, for someone else, I would most definitely have ripped out the offending stitches and fixed them. *lol* Which reminds me of something that Shirley would mention in class: “The Type A [personality] wants this perfect…” I’ll have to remember to actively invoke my Type A when I’m sewing. hehe This quilting for this one is also very basic and straightforward, echoing the theme of the set-in square. I’ll be avoiding...

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Applique Santa and Reindeer Candlemat

Posted by on Aug 6, 2011 in LiveJournal, Project Review | Comments Off on Applique Santa and Reindeer Candlemat

It’s apprantly time for me to learn all the nuances of applique because it keeps coming up everytime I turn around. While this particular project may look like the latest, technically it was the first. I signed up for the EGA SoCal chapter’s workshop on candlemat back in June, but the event was held at the end of the September. In the meantime, I’d taken the class on needle-turn applique, done the 2 experimental block-party applique things, and then watched a mind blowing demo on the Baltimore applique techniques using freezer paper while at the Long Beach Quilt Show. So now this particular version uses wool, so there’s no potential raveling edges to even worry about. Huzzah. Made it very easy and very non-demanding. Here is the finished thing complete with candle. The chapter workshop was from 10 until 2. I have to say that the instructor who selected this project and then created the kits for us to work on did a PHENOMINAL job. The kits she made for us to use are now my Gold Standard when it comes to kit making!! She included multiple sized needles for different likes, different pins in case the wonder-under didn’t work, etc etc. Really awesome job there. Anyway, in the 4 hours that we were assembled I managed to get my kit completely cut out and all of the applique pieces fully stitched into place. That left only the embroidery (eyes, legs, reins, etc) as well as the beads and then the bottom, to do at home. I was the only one who got this far and folks were saying I must have an electric needle. heh. I kinda liked that. The main deal is that I’m not the most consistent stitcher. This is perhaps the second project of my entire life that I really started think about it. My blanket and whip stitches are not identical in size or spacing. They kind of ramble a bit, but stay within reason of each other. I’ve also discovered I don’t particularly care enough about some projects to make this a priority, even though every project is a learning opportunity to practice this sizing skill on. I tried rather reasonably hard on the padded applique for the block of the month, where the blanket stitch was being made obvious and called out. I did ok, but not stellar. To someone with a good eye like KimikoSews, who is an AMAZING embroiderer, this comparitive sloppy look could detract from the piece. Fortunately, this particular piece is rather whimisical, so I wasn’t really worried about. I rather liked the way that the white wool fuzzed up a bit when the whip stitches were put into place. Made it look like a real beard or puff on the hat. Cute! Anyway, so here’s my lounging-in-his-sled on the way home from a long night of gift giving Santa and reindeer wool appliqued candlemat. Not very challenging, but cute and it was another niggling reminder that I need to clean up my stitches if I want to be a real life embroiderer one day....

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SFVQA Quilt Block Party for Aug/Sept 2011

Posted by on Jul 27, 2011 in LiveJournal, Project Review | Comments Off on SFVQA Quilt Block Party for Aug/Sept 2011

This is the San Fernando Valley Quilt Association Block Party pattern for the August and September. You may remember last time was the liberty star which gave me fits and let me know that piecing was not as easy as it looked. This time, the pattern is an appliqued Forget-Me-Not from the old Mountain Mist patterns. When I got the instructions for the new block at the last meeting, I had just finished signing for the Beginning Applique class being held at Quilt Emporium. Talk about fortuitous timing!! I did the pillow, which post-mortem follows this one, using the needle turn technique which was taught in the class. Since I didn’t want to use the exact same technique over and over again, I decided that I’d use the block party to experiment with 2 other ways of making appliques. First up was the very simple, VERY fast and precise method using double sided heat bond. I picked out my fabrics, cut the heat bond roughly the size I needed, then ironed the heat bond to the material. Then I traced the pattern onto the paper back of the heat bond and cut out all the pieces that I needed. using the method taught in the class about tracing the final pattern onto clear vinyl for easy placement, I then peeled off the heat bond backing, positioned the pieces and ironed it down. Easy, fast, precise. And boring looking. This particular pattern was way to complicated to even consider doing a satin stitch along the edging of the entire thing, so I decided I’d use this opportunity to work with my free motion quilting foot which requires that the machine’s feed dogs be disabled. I then did a simple straight stitch along the edge of each piece. Considering that the stitching is done without any quidance from the machine at all AND it’s my very very first time ever trying free motion stitching, I think it turned out pretty well. A couple of boo-boos, but nothing which distracts the eye from the overall piece. For the most part, the stitch length is fairly even which means that I was moving the material roughly the same amount between each stitch. Overall, I’m thinking that I’d only use the heat bonding technique when precision matters. Maybe even for a background of a more complicated piece, which has more pieces stitched by hand on top. Seeing this in comparison to the look on the pillow (which is very imprecise and clearly the work of a beginner) as well as the look of the second sample, the heat bond method is just too sterile for me. The second method I employed features a heat bond of the material onto the batting of choice. In this case, I’m using the low loft Quilter’s Dream cotton. Step one was to set one side of the heat bond to the batting. Then I copied the template pieces onto the batting and cut them out. From there, I peeled off the paper backing and heat bonded my pattern pieces onto the material of choice. When I cut out the material, I made sure to leave at least 1/4″ to 1/2″ for my seam allowance. Then I hand tacked all of the seam allowances down to the back side of the pattern, giving me pretty finished pieces which then needed to be placed. Those inner flower petal turns were quite a challenge! I wanted to try the blanket stitch look but I wanted it to stand out and be really obvious, making it look a bit folk arty. I...

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Applique Flower Pillow

Posted by on Jul 27, 2011 in LiveJournal, Project Review | Comments Off on Applique Flower Pillow

Last week I took a class at the Quilt Emporium called Beginning Applique. That class taught us the basics of needle turn applique. Step one of the process involves using clear vinyl (I used the fronts of those clear vinyl things you get when you buy sheets or curtains). You tape the vinyl to the finished template and use a sharpie to copy the pattern onto the vinyl. Make sure that the center vertical and horizontal lines are included, for positioning purposes. Step two involves making the template pieces into something a bit stronger than just paper. In class, the teacher used self-adhesive laminating sheets which she put overtop of the templates, then cut them out. Well, call me cheap but I’m not going to go buy those expensive sheets for a trail run and I didn’t have any cash to purchase a sheet from her. What I did instead was glued the uncutout template pieces to my manilla block paper, waited for that to dry, then cut them out. They worked GREAT. Step three is where you cut out the fabric to be used. The template pieces do NOT include any seam allowance, so we traced the templates out on the wrong side of the fabric, then cut them while leaving a generous 1/4″ for turning. Now we’re ready to start putting the piece together. Assuming that the center vertical and horizontal have been marked on the base material, this is where the vinyl positioning template comes into use. Pinning it down, position the applique piece to be worked on and then pin it in place. Remove the vinyl, then using the tip of the threaded needle, turn under the appliqe seam allowance and begin stitching it down. The pattern she had us working on in class was a classic 4 tulip circular pattern. I was picturing doing another pillow project for Shelley but didn’t think she’d really groove on the pattern provided. Since it was a short class, I didn’t have to do too much on the practice pattern but I did enough to get the teacher feedback that I needed. I then came home and talked to Shelley about the project I wanted to do. She was excited and showed me a DeviantArt image she really liked. I said that if she can redraw that into a simpler shape for me, I’d use that. She did and I converted her custom artwork into the pattern pieces I needed. While at Joanne’s, I found some awesome pink piping that would work well. I hadn’t done piping in a long time and figured I could use the practice and it would really help finish off the piece while adding some more color. Overall, I think the project came out very nicely. It took me about a week to applique all of the pieces down, and while it’s far from perfect, the project did as intended of giving me enough practice to figure out what I was doing. Here’s the finished pillow: You can see in the upper right corner is an embroidery which we got from Embroidery Library. Altering the colors to suit the design of the pillow, it came out pretty well. I forgot to use the trick of adding the wool to the stabilizer, which disappointed me that I’d forget that so quickly. Oh well. It’s still nice. As mentioned, I found this pretty border and was able to use the mega piping foot on my machine. That foot worked BEAUTIFULLY and made including the edging a breeze! I’m thrilled to pieces with the foot and...

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French Braid Halloween Table Runner

Posted by on Jul 24, 2011 in LiveJournal, Project Review | 10 comments

French Braid Halloween Table Runner

Last week I took another class at Quilt Emporium. This one was on the quilting block pattern called a French Braid. This is an image of a quilt from the Fabric Cupboard’s blogspot page: I decided to take this class because it would directly challenge what I consider to be a weak spot — color co-ordination in design. Since the class at Quilt Emporium was only going to be 2 hours long, I opted for the smaller table runner and decided to go with 10 different fabrics plus a central and accent color. Having little faith in myself, I left the purchasing of the fabric until the absolute last minute. We also got our new hot tub installed on the same day as the class. The class was at 2, I was hoping to leave around 12 to leave myself an hour to pick out fabric, and the spa was delivered at 11. Oops. I didn’t leave the house until 1, and it takes me about 45 minutes to get to the Quilt Emporium via surface streets. I hightailed it to Candy’s Quiltworks, which is not too far from me and she has a HUGE fabric selection. On the way there, an idea came into my head for what I wanted to do with this project. I already knew I wanted to do a Halloween theme, but was stuck thinking in the white-to-dark paradigm. The idea that hit me was to use oranges and blacks, graduating from the most orange/least black to the most black/least orange. When I got to Candy’s, she had enough different Halloween materials that I was able to actual get 10 different fabrics that would work for me. yay! I walked out of the shop feeling far more confident in my design eye than I ever have before. I guess from that perspective alone, this class was a huge winner for me. I was also the only one who decided to go with a non-white/off-white foundation as the light color. In addition, I was the only one who used the same fabric for the center square as well as the little accent squares running down the material. It was also the only non-floral material in the class. heh. Guess I like being wierd, eh? Here’s the fully pieced topper: Ironically, since I had JUST purchased the fabric but hadn’t cut any of it, I was honestly not expecting to get to actually sewing anything in the 2 hour class time alotted. Boy was I off the mark! Not only did I cut out all the strips, but Lisa (the shop owner) loaned me her machine and I able to actually sew together the entire topper while in the class. I was totally thrilled by that. I asked Lisa for some backing and bordering suggestions, and what we found there was beautiful. The other women in the class or in the store as I was checking out where like “wow! the entire thing finished…” and remarked that I guess I must be fast. Lisa commented that I was extremely focused while working on something. That made sense. That focus is partly why I’m not particularly welcome at stitch-n-bitches. I do more stitching and almost no bitching. heh. Anyway, the next step, once I got home was to square up the topper and then trim it down to the finished size. Here it is all trimmd and ready for the quilting part to be done. I wasn’t sure that the walking foot would be able to handle all the various stitches in my machine, and since I...

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