Monday, October 27, 2008

Crumb Quilt Scrappiness

Sewing with a friend, here she's in a classI have been working on my crumb quilt lately. Now all the blocks are done and I need to decide the orientation of the blocks in the quilt, the size and number of blocks I want to use, and get them sewn together. I cannot wait to get this on my quilt frame and get in some practice on using my quilting frame.

A close up of one of the crumb quilt scrap blocksI caught a candid photo of my friend in a class at the store. We've been having fun sewing at her home when I have some time off. I have really been enjoying these times of sewing, chatting and getting to know each other. It would be fun to develop a group of us who get together weekly for our own sewing/quilting time. The scrappy crumb quilt I've been working on these past few weeks is complete up to the point of sewing all the blocks together to form the quilt top. We laid the blocks out on the floor at her house today to get a feel for the final product. It looks pretty good all laid out like we did. It'll be nice to get it all sewn together and on my quilting frame. I want to use this as an opportunity to practice my stippling, meandering, and maybe a few other kinds of free motion sewing with my Pfaff Grand Quilter and frame.

This week has been cold and windy here on the upper plains. I went to Walmart the other day. Since it's at the edge of town (urban sprawl and all with the way they position their stores) the wind was whipping across the open fields. I was seeing tumbleweeds trapped under half the cars parked in their parking lot. The tumbleweeds have been blowing around quite a bit lately. While I was at my friend's house today we were looking out over her back yard to see quite a few tumble weeds had collected along her fence line. That's just another everyday thing this time of year where we live. I can't help but smile though.

Every time I think about tumble weeds I think of a woman I met once who was traveling through our area. She said she and a friend were crossing through this part of the state (from somewhere on the southeast part of the US) and were just fascinated by the tumble weeds (having heard about them from cowboy folklore of old). The woman she was traveling with was really into making crafts and had a wedding coming up. The theme was a cowboy type wedding and she wanted to collect tumble weeds to use as props for the wedding. She was planning to spray paint them gold and have them be part of the western staging for the theme of the wedding. As they were traveling they stopped along the highway whenever they saw a bunch of tumble weeds and were collecting them in the back seat of their car. They tried to jam as many of them in there as they could without damaging them. She was telling me they had their back seat jam packed with tumble weeds.

I just have to chuckle now every time I see the tumble weeds blowing across the plains. I always picture them spray painted gold as backdrops for scenery! Talk about an active imagination. I can't help it . . . it makes me chuckle. It makes me happy to think of someone finding something good out of tumbleweeds! What is considered here to be a weed and a hinderance is looked upon with delight by others. Go figure!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sewing Therapy

Twin needle pin tuck techniqueMy recent sewing included making some pin tucks on the front panel of my new pillow pattern. I just love making pin tucks. It's such a quick and fun technique. And it is so easy. Just insert a 2.0mm twin needle and thread with two threads for this needle. Change to a pin tuck foot and use the pin tuck blade to help the tuck form neatly and easily. Then just sew the number of pin tuck rows you desire. So easy!

Twin welting techniqueMy latest pillow also includes the use of twin welting as a border for the pin tuck area. This is also an easy technique. The first time I saw the Pfaff twin welting foot being used I knew I wanted to get one. It is another easy foot to use and gives impressive results for home dec projects. The final effect is pretty cool with just sewing two rows of straight stitches. These two sewing feet are my current favorites.

Today I spent some time at work doing a class. Then later when I left I had the opportunity to spend some time sewing away the afternoon with a friend. I really enjoy sewing as an afternoon pastime. Spending this time with a friend makes the afternoon that much better. I'm still working away on my crumb quilts. I'll have the last log of my log cabins stitched on this week. Then I will be able to piece the blocks together. I'm looking forward to getting this scrappy crumb quilt onto my Grand Quilter frame. This will be the first quilt I actually put on the frame to practice and gain some quilting skills..

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Last Gasp Before Winter

Spindly potted plant makes last gasp before winter.This week I found a surprise awaiting me when I stepped outside. I planted two pots outside the door with a variety of flowering plants. This one has been making a slow, pitiful attempt to grow through the summer. It is long and spindly and doesn't have much to recommend it. I almost pulled it up to dispose of it numerous times when entering or leaving the house. But I left it on its own to struggle through just in case it would one day do better.

A single blossom presents itself.Now, in the middle of fall, with half of its leaves brown and shrivelled up, I see a blossom has sprung forth. Surprise, Surprise! Now it makes me smile when I walk by just to see this one last gasp of life from it before the winter hits. I'm really surprised it has made it this far to bloom so late in the season. With the long wet spring, lots of rain and cool weather through the summer, it's been a hard year for this plant.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Home Dec Pillow #2

Home Dec Pillow #2 front view with pin tucks, welting and twin weltingJust a quick post for now, I'm ready to head off to bed. Again, it took a lot longer than I anticipated to get some things done today that I wanted to accomplish. And I've got an earlier than usual day tomorrow. Yikes! this will be really short . . .

Just wanted to post the photos of the second Home Dec Pillow. The pattern is pretty much ready, but will do some tweaking on it when I get home from work. This view shows the pin tucks in the band along the front. This area is framed on two sides by twin welting. Thicker welting is used around the perimeter with a gathered technique.

Home Dec Pillow #2 back view with zipperThe back side, shown in this view, reveals the zipper closure and some of the fun new stitches on my Pfaff Creative Vision.

I like the way this pillow turned out. It's pretty much like I envisioned, so I'm happy with it. It will go on the couch in our living room (along with pillow #1) when store classes are over.

Okay, Off the bed . . .

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Home Dec Pillow

My original Home Dec Pillow #1I wrote instructions for my original Home Dec Pillow #1 for a class at work. This is the first of two different pillow classes we are offering this fall. I will be posting the pattern on my Etsy site within the next few days.

This pillow teaches a lot of different techniques. The center curve showcases fabric manipulation with puffing, a gathering technique. Fabric strips cut on the bias are used to cover the raw edges of the central puffing/gathered area. This same bias strip is used around the perimeter to set off the main part of the pillow from the flange area. The reverse side of the pillow teaches an easy closure with two buttonholes and buttons.

Close up of my pillow shows corner treatment.The corners of the bias strips sewn aroung the edge are mitered for a neat appearance. This is actually a relatively easy thing to accomplish. I took step-by-step photos of the pillow construction for the pattern. This makes each technique easily understood.

Another close up of the puffing and use of bias strips along the curved edge.Decorative stitches are sewn following the curves of the center puffing element. I like the candle wick stitches on my Pfaff Creative Vision so that is what is used here on my pillow. There are lots of beautiful decorative stitches on sewing machines today so the options for creating multiple pillows with different stitch combinations are unlimited. I love seeing decorative stitches used to embellish home sewn items.

My friend, Patty, stitched her version of this pillow using my pattern.My friend, Patty, took this pillow class at the store and was happy to share her results. She is a creative person, always coming up with good ideas of her own. Here she used gold metallic thread in some of her decorative stitching and added a few of her own flourishes to the pillow. Rather than forming an "S" curve with the puffing, Patty chose to stitch her gathered area as a straight, diagonal element. She incorporated much more stitching on her pillow than I did for additional interest. Her pillow is stitched with stippling, additional top-stitching, and more rows of decorative stitches than my version.

A close up of Patty's pillow with her stitch variations.This detail of Patty's pillow shows a close up of the stitching. Another variation is the use of a satin stitch to frame the center area of the pillow and set off the flange. This variation is a great alternative to the bias strip border I used. It achieves the need to cover the raw edges of the puffing and also helps to set off the boundary for the flange. You will notice that Patty also did some stitching on her flange as well.

I like your version Patty. Thanks for allowing me to share it here on my blog!

The pattern for Home Dec Pillow #2 will be completed soon. It is a sister to this one, but has a number of other techniques that will be incorporated into it. I'll post more on it once the class has taken place in a couple of weeks.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sewing with a Friend

I had the opportunity to spend the day sewing with a friend today. It was great! I went to her house around 9:40 and we sewed till 12:45. Went to grab a bite of lunch at a local restaurant (yummy burgers!) then returned to her home for more sewing. I got back home shortly after four pm in time for my husband to get home from work. It was a perfect way to spend my day off from work. Approximately 5 hours of sewing time with lots of chatting and catching up on stuff. It's a perfect way to pass the time. I recommend it heartily. Obviously I had a lot of fun.

I'm currently working on a scrap quilt. It's actually a quilt following an idea I found on-line called a "crumb" quilt. It's a means of using up scraps. I'm getting close to having all my blocks finished and ready to sew the blocks together.

From the number of blocks I've got started it looks like I might have enough to do two or three quilts. My whole reason for doing this type of quilt was to have something to put onto my Grand Quilter frame and do some experimenting with a scrap quilt before I put on a quilt I really care about. These quilts will be my first "practice" ones to get accustomed to my quilting machine.

I just counted how many blocks are in my stack. Wow! 54 blocks. They're going to be at least 12 inches across (if not a bit larger) so I really do have quite a few quilts on hand to practice techniques with! That will be more than four quilts if I use 12 blocks (plus border) for lap-sized quilts. This would make great gift projects for the boys and their girlfriends. Or it could be three quilts if I use 20 blocks for each quilt and add in a couple more to even the count for some larger quilts. Time will tell what I finally decide upon.

I can say they won't be particularly "pretty" quilts because no thought went into fabric selection or anything like that. They'll be strictly utilitarian type quilts, make-do type quilts, using scraps that were readily on hand. But now the "Make do, Re-Use, Recycle" attitude is so "in" so that'll probably be alright. It's actually getting back to the "roots" of original old fashioned quilt making it its infancy before the advent of modern day quilt making that has become so "matchy-matchy" professional and processed. So it's a mish-mash of fabrics with the "make-do", old fashioned prairie homesteader outlook of it all. And I wonder if the kids and their girl-friends will go for it. If not, they can hide these quilts under another coverlet and still keep extra warm and toasty this winter. If they don't like them (or don't want them) I'll keep them here at home for when the boys periodically come to visit. We can always use extra quilts in the car for winter survival gear or for watching TV in the winter. And if they're really too ugly, I can cut them up for dog blankets. I'm sure the dogs won't care. The dogs always seems to get excited when I change out their bedding and put fresh clean blankets in their kennels - like they're being pampered.

Regardless of the beauty of these quilts, the time spent with my friend has been great. Chatting and quilting - what a great way to spend the day! I am looking forward to more days like today. We've been getting together once a week for a few weeks now and I really look forward to our time together. It really makes for some great sewing therapy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pillow pattern

Home Dec Pillow #1I designed and wrote instructions for a pillow class we are currently offering at the store. This is an image of that pillow. I plan to offer the pattern on my website one day in the future. In the meantime this first one was used in class today.
Dogs on a walkThe dogs went on a walk with me a few days ago. We ventured out on the walkways at the capital grounds. It looks as though the new sidewalks are finished over there, but there are still signs up saying they are closed. We just kept to the older sidewalks. I am looking forward to taking a different route on our walks once the sidewalks are opened.