Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quilting 'Aint Always Pretty

Whew. I completed the foundation piecing for the weeping quilt. And I came “this” close to running out of medium yellow fabric. Now all I have to do is the curved piecing. I do all my curved piecing by hand. I feel like I have more control of the fabric that way. I also think it might be faster. I would image that you would have to take the curves slowly on the machine. I’ll be putting this in line behind Kevin’s quilt. I’m pretty close to finishing the quilting on that one too.

So here is the shrapnel left from the foundation piecing. I love this technique. Not just because you get awesome pointy bits and curves. But because there’s no accurate cutting involved. I tear the strips of fabric, sew them to the block, trim the block, fling the fabric and keep going. Now I know some of you are thinking, “look at all that waste.” Many see this as a drawback of foundation piecing. However, I see a pile of delicious scraps. Mmmm, scraps. Imagine the possibilities for a moment. I could do some string piecing, some crazy quilting, or fuse it and make wicked new fabric. Right now I’m pondering whether or not I will try to incorporate these yummy fibers into the weeping quilt, or add them to my scrap bin. Perhaps mixing them with some green scraps or something.

Of course there is one negative consequence of my reckless foundation piecing. Now someone has to clean the floor. And I’m pretty sure it’s going to have to be me.

Oh, and since I've upgraded to Leopard, Blogger rocks. You Mac users know what I mean.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Is It Just Me, Or Is It Murphy's Law?

I’m not a very good judge of how much of something is left. I either have too much fabric or not enough. I always think the bobbin is about to run out when I have an hour’s worth left. Then I run out with 4 inches of binding left to sew on. And I never have the right amount of thread. The day after I ran out of fabric for the weeping quilt, I thought I was going to run out of thread for Kevin’s quilt. Once again, I went to the store to buy more only to find they had every color but the one I needed. Seriously, I think someone there is messing with me. I decided to just keep quilting until I ran out and I would worry about it then. And lo and behold, the thingee of thread keeps going. Now I’m thinking I can finish the quilting with this one spool. Which of course means I’ll run out with half a block left to quilt.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Trip to My Happy Place

So I’m elbow deep in foundation piecing. I’m making the spiky bits for the weeping quilt. After a couple of false starts, it is going swimmingly. Then, I ran out of yellow fabric. I know what you’re going to say. And really, don’t you think I know that? The thing is, I’m sort of making it up as I go along. I originally thought the spiky bits would be scrappy. I don’t know why, since I don't really do scrappy. I try, but I’m always compelled to make scrappy orderly. When I actually started sewing the blocks, I decided to make all of the outer spikes light yellow, while the inner spikes will be different shades of orange or pink. And this is what led to me running out of yellow fabric. And since yellow is one of my least favorite colors, I don't have a whole lot of it in my stash.

I like to look at running out of fabric as an opportunity to go to my happy place, Intown Quilters. So, after we took our pumpkin to the pumpkin patch, I headed to my favorite quilt shop. Actually, I went to the store where I bought the fabric first. They were practically cleaned out of tone on tones which was weird because they are never out of anything. Then I went to Intown. I found yellow that is not quite an exact match but close enough. And since I can’t go into Intown and just get what’s on my list, I got a couple of other goodies too.

First, this funky Alexander Henry fabric. I really like this theme. Doesn't it just scream "city girl"? I used the fabulous fashionista fabric that came out a couple of years ago in a wall quilt for my closet. I was pretty excited to see a new variation on the theme. I want to panel a wall in this stuff, but my husband is straight so that is not going to happen. This is going in the stash. I also got a bag of 10 ½ inch batik squares. Lest you think I’m adding to my stash willy nilly, I already know what I’m going to do with this fabric. In fact, I went into the store knowing what I was going to do with this fabric AND a name for the quilt. Impressed? I planned the whole thing in my head on the way to the store. I just had to find the right fabric. Stay tuned. I think it’s going to be a cool quilt. Oh, and I got a panel to make an advent calendar for the baby. I got so excited about the batiks I almost forgot.

I love Intown Quilters. If they put a Starbucks in there, I would never leave.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Running in Circles or Quilting Around Circles

The last few days seem like I've been crazy busy but at the same time I feel like I haven't gotten much accomplished. I hate it when that happens. So what have I been up to?

I have made progress on quilting Kevin's quilt. The freezer paper template is working out well, though it's not sticking as well as I would like. I just pin it and keep going. I've decided to add this herringbone stitch around the outer curves. I picked up this stitch from the book, "Quilt and Embellish in One Step." I'm all for anything that can be done in one step.

I also finished drafting the second block for the weeping quilt. Since there are only two blocks in the quilt, this is a big accomplishment. I just went ahead and drafted it with pencil and paper. I did give Quilt Pro another try. I hate paying money for something and then not being able to use it. So I just had to try again. I still couldn't get it to bend to my will so I did it by hand. It took me all of 15 minutes to draft the block on paper and most of that time was spent looking for a sharp pencil. As opposed to 6 hours on Quilt Pro with nothing but scrap paper to show for it. Slacker rule number 3 - technology that makes your life harder is not your friend.

I'm also taking a class at Quilt University on photographing your quilts. I got a new camera (I'm loving the close up feature) and figured this was a good way to start playing with it. This week, I have to set up where I'm going to hang and photograph my quilts. This brings up two problems. The first is that the sunniest room in my house is my quilt studio and there is furniture against each and every single wall in the room. So I need a freestanding arrangement. Kevin thinks we can build something out of PVC pipe. I got a good laugh out of that one too. Between his crazy work schedule, my work and running around after the baby, I seriously doubt we're going to build anything. Not to mention neither one of us has a clue about how to build anything out of PVC pipe. I'm sure we could figure it out, but this is a project that needs to get done this week, not next October. So I went to Wolf camera and picked up this.

It's a thing that photographers use to hang backdrops. I'm pretty sure I can hang a quilt from it. Slacker rule number 2 - let gadgets do the hard work. This brings us to my second problem. I don't put hanging sleeves on my quilts. They just seem like a lot of work. Most of my quilts are hung using clips - way easier. But they don't hang flat and apparently they obscure the binding. Since binding is probably my weakest skill, I'm not sure this is a bad thing. But for the sake of the class I'm now going to have to go back and sew hanging sleeves on the quilts I want nice pictures of. Yet another task I would delegate to an apprentice if we lived in the olden days. So when I get the system all set up, I'll post pictures. You'll get to see my studio. Won't that be exciting?

Oh yeah, don't forget to conserve water yall. I live in Georgia where we'll be out of water in 90 days. And try to get your food at the farmer's market. Peace.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Things You Learn From Historical Reenactments

Look what I got yesterday. I went looking for a book about Sashiko and picked up a few other things to boot at Barnes & Noble.

So the reason I needed a book on sashiko is that I decided to hand quilt Kevin's Asian themed quilt. I know I said I would machine quilt it. But after stitching down the blocks, I was pondering were to go next. I just couldn't visualize myself handling the quilt under the machine. So I decided to hand quilt some sashiko designs instead. I'm using size 8 perle cotton, so it shouldn't take too long (famous last words). I printed the designs on freezer paper, cut them out, and ironed them down. Now I'm stitching around the pattern. I have a problem with marking quilts. The markings rub off, they are hard to see, and on and on. It's a big pain to mark a quilt. I was visiting the colonial governor's mansion in New Bern, NC around this time last year. They had this woman dressed in period clothes quilting in a little cabin next to the gardens. She pinned a paper template to the quilt and was stitching around it. I decided I was going to give that a try the next time I had a complex design. So far so good. I did have to pin the freezer paper. Either I didn't iron it on long enough, or the motion of the rocking is just going to make it peel up. We'll see.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

New Year's Resolution 2 and A Rant

I finished my second New Year's Resolution quilt. It's called Sketchbook Blueberries. The new technique I tried is using colored pencils on fabric. This was really fun and easy. I will have to try watercolor pencils next. I also practiced some embroidery with the running backstitch in the leaf veins and blueberries. As usual, I had to practice binding. This time, I bound the edge using a plaited edge stitch. This is like a blanket stitch with an extra knot in it. I think I will try this edge stitch again with beads. I haven't tried this sort of raw edge binding before. I like it because it is easier than cutting binding, sewing it on, stitching it down, yada, yada, yada. But it's not really practical for a quilt much bigger than this. All in all, this was a fun little quilt. I will definitely look at colored pencils as another tool for embellishment.

Today, I also tried to print out the New York Beauty foundations for the Weeping quilt. Can I just say - aaarggg! If you heard a crash around 7 pm that was me throwing Quilt Pro for the Mac out of the window. The thing that frustrates me about this program is that you do everything right and it doesn't work. You have to do things 2 or 3 times to get them to work. I wasn't even making up my own block. I was using one from their library for crying out loud and the bleeping foundations still wouldn't print out correctly. The problem is that it is a Windows program masquerading as a Mac program. And the manual is crap. I could have drawn the block by hand in the time I spent dinking around with this program. Technology is supposed to make your life easier - not harder. So I'm done with it. Now I have to find some program that will allow me to design quilts on the computer. There really isn't anything for the Mac. I run an Intel Mac, so in theory I could use EQ on Parallels which lets me run Windows. But I don't want to. The Mac is the best computer on the market for doing design work. In this area, it is superior to Windows in every way. There should be awesome quilt design software for the Mac. If EQ was so great, there would be a Mac version. So there.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Helpful Graffiti

I was watching Oprah on Tivo today and they showed a message Sinead O'Connor had written on her kitchen wall. It said, "It doesn't matter if it's not perfect".