Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Stencilling in Some Fun

I won a blog giveaway, but I've been waiting until there was a little extra time in my schedule to try this out.   These stencils were designed by Terri Stegmiller.  She hosted a blog hop with several giveaways to show various ways her stencils can be used.

Thank you, Terri, for sponsoring these giveaways!  I was inspired by several bloggers showing amazing things they are doing with your stencils.  I have a lot to learn, but hey .... baby steps, right?

Terri Stegmiller Stencils

Yesterday, the snowflakes blew around for most of the day, except for when my teen and I decided to continue our 5K training.  At that time, the flakes turned to pellets and we were beaten in the face by little Styrofoam balls of snow.  This is a very strange Spring Break!  We miss the warm weather and we're wishing we were in Florida, swimming in my Dad's pool.

Anyway, the snowy day provided a perfect excuse for me to get out all of my fabric dying supplies ... which are a total of 3 Shiva paint sticks.

Here's a start of the project.  I think a gel based medium would work much better.  As the crayon moves across the fabric, it shifts the fabric.  I tried pressing hard on the stencil, but the fabric still shifted a little bit.  That resulted in the outlines being a little bit fuzzy.

It was fun to mix/smear the colors with fingertips to get more blending.

I really like these leaves!

Now I think it would be fun to overlay the stencils with a set of cool colors over these autumn warms.  I might look at something besides the Shiva oil based sticks to try this.  These oils require 24 hours to dry and now they've checked that requirement.  I'd like to find a medium that doesn't cover what's there now, but grabs hold of the background fabric.  Maybe if I stencil from the back side of the fabric, I'll get that effect.

I have lots to learn about paints and dyes!

I'm envisioning pretty contrasting stitches around these outlines.  They will add a zing and hide those fuzzy outlines caused by the shifting of the fabric.  Maybe for a journal cover.

Thanks so much for the suggestions regarding the quilt on my design wall in previous posts.  I'm following some of your advice and it's beginning to look much better.  Hope I can show of the completed top in a day or so.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Monday, March 25, 2013

Using Values in Quilt Design

I've still struggled to be happy with this quilt design.  My goal is to mix music and Christmas prints.  So far, nothing has worked well with the pattern I'm using.
Layout with brown frames

Layout with cream frames  
There was also a disaster with dark green fabrics for a frame, but I missed a photo of that one.
For all of them, the frames contrasted with some fabrics, but blended with the others.

So today, I turned these into black and white images to look at the values. 
Layout with brown frames
It's much easier to see that the frames just don't stand out like they "should."  Also, even though the large snowflakes are on a black background, they still mix well with other darks.  It's an interesting lesson which I thought I'd already learned.

Layout with cream frames ... better, but still doesn't work for me

So since my collection has light/med/darks, maybe I should eliminate the frames for this quilt.

Here's the same layout in black and white.

I think with a little more rearranging, this will work better.  Also, even though I've really tried to make that stripe (left side) work for the outer border, I may end up with the dark pine cones (right side).  I'll make that final decision after the center is sewn.

I know this is Fabric Selection 101, but it was a lesson I needed to revisit today.  Once this quilt is done, I'll select a new set of fabrics to make that framed design.  The frames will either be the light or dark and the rest of the fabrics will show off that contrast in a variety of colors.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Saturday, March 23, 2013

On the Frame

It's a rainy Saturday, so no work has been done on our tool shed.

And I'm still stumped on fabrics for a quilt for my dad.  Why is this one so hard????

So, I loaded this one on the frame while I think about Dad's quilt.
Project Linus upholstery samples quilt

Since it's made with upholstery fabrics, I decided to try backing it with a lightweight fleece and not including batting.  Then, I realized that I could get a large piece if I purchased a fleece blanket, rather than yardage (60" width)  That eliminates a thick backing seam.  The price was similar or perhaps a little better than purchasing yardage.

I rewound a little here ...
So with a little ruler work, I've stitched in the ditch on the horizontal seams and then echoed those horizontal lines about 2 or so inches away from the seam.  These are filled with a ribbon candy free motion motif.  I really need the practice with this design, so this seemed like a good idea.

Vertical seams are filled in with a back-and-forth winding line.
Since this quilt is at least twin sized, if not a little larger, I'm thinking this will be great for a teen girl.  The quilting and most of these prints hint at a modern theme.  I hope a teen will find this to her liking.  It's really nice that Project Linus allows each recipient to choose their quilt.  That way, they get one that appeals to them.

Here's the fleece backing ... in hindsight, a light colored fleece would have been better since the thread is a light Aqua colored cotton.
I'm hoping that once it's washed, the fleece will get fluffier and hide the threads on the back side.  It will be a nice texture without the aqua showing.

So now that I've spent a little time posting, I think the thunder is gone.  That means I can plug in those power cords again and finish this one soon.

Jambalaya is smelling great in the crock pot.  Our family is planning to watch a movie (Les Miserables) and cuddle under quilts and blankets tonight.  I rarely watch tv or movies, but I'll try to sit still tonight.  I've heard this is a good one.

Enjoy your evening.
- SeeingStars

Friday, March 22, 2013

When I grow up ....

When I grow up, I will sail the seven seas. 
I'll strap a sword to my side and a parrot 
     will ride on my shoulder. 
I'll stomp around in boots and I'll always 
     wear my tri-cornered hat, even when I sleep.
When I grow up, my treasure chest will be full of 
     gold doubloons and I will bury it on a 
     secret island surrounded by sharks.
I'll call my friends silly names like Scurvy Rat or 
     Peg Leg and we will say, "Argh" just for fun. 
I will climb my ship's mast so I can see past the 
    horizon wile I look for mermaids.  And when I catch 
    one, she'll tell me all her secrets.
When I grow up, I'll shoot cannonballs at sea monsters.
When I grow up, I'll be a pirate.

by SeeingStars

I wrote the words in chalk first to make sure the placement worked

Then used a damp washcloth to erase after the quilting
I had to add a sword too
Tossed pirates and ocean waves for the backing
 This one will be turned in to Project Linus next week.  I'm hoping a young boy will choose this one and enjoy his imagination as he looks at all the prints and asks someone to read it to him.  Although I tried to work this out using print, rather than cursive, it didn't seem to work for me.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Upcycling in the Studio

It started with an office chair left by the side of the road for trash pick-up.   Then it took a little encouraging with a sledge hammer to separate the rolling base from the chair.  A section of PVC from our stash in the garage was a perfect fit to slide over the vertical post on the rolling base.

And then the cardboard tube in the center of the batting roll fit very nicely over the PVC.  One straight pin keeps everything from unrolling.

When it's time to cut a piece of batting, simply roll away from the wall, unpin and it's ready to measure and cut the desired amount.

I like storage ideas that keep things off the floor, so I can sweep up the lint (and dead ladybugs) easily.

I wish I could remember where I found the inspiration for this batting storage.  I even hunted for a little while online trying to locate a site.  If you know and share the link, I'll post it so the inventor gets the credit due to them. 

One of the things I love about visiting other quilting blogs is discovering their ingenious solutions and deciding if they could work here.

This new machine and cabinet combo had the 2 flip out table top sections which take up lots of space.  They have to be open to use the machine.  The studio was feeling too crowded, so I removed those sections.  It was a simple operation with a screwdriver.  Later, if the need arises, I might make small flip tops which can be open or closed with the machine in use.  I doubt it will be closed up very often.

Here's a sneak peek at the new piece of batting with a Project Linus quilt top over it.  The words were scribbled in chalk to make sure I could fit them in the space well.  A damp washcloth makes a good eraser.

I'm not sure what I'll quilt in the outer border sections.  The fabrics are busy, so it won't need much detail.  Maybe large swirls to suggest air and water currents.  Maybe I'll practice stippling.  Or maybe I'll end up with wavy piano keys.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Log Cabin Blocks

Our guild's Opportunity Quilt this year will be a log cabin style quilt.  After a shopping spree with Deb and then a kit building party last Friday to cut all the pieces and arrange into blocks, it's time to make the blocks.

Here are 4 blocks I made.  The batiks are so pretty.  I'm excited to see this quilt come together.
And here they are turned so the medium brights are in the center.

I've been playing on my design wall to start a new quilt.  It will combine Christmas fabrics with music fabrics - somehow.  Thus far, I'm not happy with the choice for the accent fabrics forming the frames around the large squares.

I cut green fabrics for the accent squares, but didn't take a photo.  How did I miss that step?  Then, I took everything off the design wall to make a few modifications to the wall.  With green accents, I needed less green in the other fabrics, so I cut more of those too.  There will probably be enough to do 2 quilts by the time I've made a decision.

I'll put everything back on the wall today and keep striving for something that appeals.

Here's the roof in progress.  It's finished now and I'll need to take a few more photos of the skylights.  Notice I'm on the soil taking the photo while the other workers are much higher.  My respect for gravity keeps me grounded.  A family that builds together is ... nuts!

Hoping to get the walls in place for our upcoming weekend.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rearranging the Studio

I've been pretty happy with my studio up to this point, but now it's time to rearrange.  After one of my teens have asked for quite some time for a nice quality sewing machine, she now has one.  This is a vintage Bernina 830 Record.  It's a powerful and amazing mechanical machine.

Did you see all those feet?  I can't wait to see how they work.  Some are similar to my newer machine, but some are very unique.

This also came with a cabinet which fits this machine quite well.  I love the large space to the left of the machine which is just at the right height for a project to glide along.

The machine drops down and tucks away when not in use.  Then the 2 extensions can flip inward to close everything up.  There are lots of extras and surprises in the drawers.  Many are handy for garment sewing so I'll have to ask a knowledgeable friend about them.
Drawer with buttons and a wooden piece (?) Looks like thread spools could rest there.

Last night, we cleaned up and opened up everything on the machine.  All the proper spots were oiled and we spend a few minutes turning the hand wheel and watching all the mechanical parts move.  It was fascinating!  I now know more about my own machine, like which part stops moving when I disengage the feed dogs.  Our younger teen is taking robotics and she recognized some of those gears.  She's already expressed a desire to disassemble the entire machine to see how it works.

I think I'll send to her Switzerland for a summer job in their factory.  That way she can see how everything works without turning this one into a robot.  I'd prefer it to sew, thank you.

Older teen has also taken robotics, but she's in my camp.  She'd rather sew with it than take it apart.  Just for a little persuasive insurance, I told them both what these vintage workhorses sell for online.

After an hour of watching the parts move and adjusting the levers to see their effects on the innards, we actually made some stitches.  Purrs like a kitten in the high speed mode.  No weird sounds at all.  Then we switched to the heavier fabrics, slower speed mode.  It does make more noise.  I can't tell if it's just the extra power or if it needs an adjustment.  For everyday use, we won't use the heavy duty mode anyway.  But if it's needed, we'll take it in for a checkup first.

I've read online that the owner's manuals are hard to find in print.  There's a scanned pdf, but it's not the same treasure as this one.  The original owner preserved her name, address, purchase date, purchase price (of cabinet, machine and total).  She took notes in pencil on most of the pages and attached her samples as she went through her orientation class.

When her age and health prevented her from continuing, she passed it down as a gift to a sweet young woman.  This woman's father refinished the cabinet and eagerly awaited the time when she'd catch the thrill of creating with sewing.  But, alas, this just isn't where her passions lie.  So she sold it on Craig's list and I just happened to stumble along to snatch it up.

I'll keep my eyes open for a knee bar to lift and lower the presser foot.  Although the original machine came with one and also a carrying case, these are missing.  Not a big deal at all.  The knee lift from my newer machine fits this vintage one, so I think I can find one if I'm patient.

Enjoy your day!  We're getting some Spring-like weather here.  Perfect for continuing to work on our shed.  Can't wait to finish it and move along to another project.
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Few Take Along Projects

It's nice to have something to take along for those times when I'm expected to sit still, a task I've never excelled at doing.  These three are ready for the hand sewing part of the binding.  I know some quilters machine stitch that second side of the binding because it's faster and they can be more productive. 

Thankfully, we can all choose what appeals to each of us.  I like to do this part by hand.  It's like crossing the finish line in slow motion, so there is more time to enjoy it.  Plus, I prefer the way this method looks.

I've already started with the fishy one.  These binding clips are really handy.

For this blue one, I decided to train the binding to wrap around the quilt using straight pins.  Then, I'll use the clips once they've done their job on the fishy quilt.  With straight pins, I've managed to draw blood twice on this little Project Linus quilt.  I do NOT recommend straight pins! 

Band aids should not be considered a quilting notion.

I sewed the first side of the binding to the back and wrapped to the front because a slightly wider amount of binding will show on the front.  The only print is in the binding and I thought the little extra interest it provided was needed.

Here's more longarm quilting photos of the plaid shirt quilt.  This one will be great to keep in the van for an impromptu picnic or if the weather changes quickly and someone needs to keep warm. 

Speaking of weather changes, we enjoyed mid-60's sunshine on Monday after our all-day-long snowy Saturday.  Cracks me up!  We're getting rain right now.

For this utility quilt, the goal was pretty, but quick quilting.  Each block on the front provided an area to swirl and then make butterfly wing feathers.  I think the swirls compliment those plaids.  
Quick, no mark quilting
The back side - also plaid shirt pieces

The piano key outer borders were quilted with wavy lines.  Waves are faster that straight lines because straight lines need the precision of a ruler and a fixed distance from the seams or the eye will catch the one line that breaks the pattern.  With the waves, the variance in the shapes aren't as obvious.

 more detail on the back ....

For more eye candy today, here's how I left one of the pockets functional by just quilting around its edge.  When we're picnicking, I'll tuck the silverware or napkins there, just because it will make me smile to use the pocket.

 One of my teens was vehemently against the plaid shirts at first, but now admits that they have a certain charm, given that they're still plaids.  Glad this one isn't as hideous as she first feared it would be.  : )

Enjoy your day ... for this is the day that the Lord has made!
- SeeingStars

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dear Tech Support ... My Freemotion Spell Checker is Faulty

As I was working on the word "swimming", I thought to myself, "Hmmmm.  I don't remember making all those m's last time I stitched out this word."  Sure enough.  I tried skimping on letters.

So the seam ripper helped me unstitch enough to correct the typo.  The words went white on the paper just above the quilt.  I wrote them out on the paper to make sure I could space them well.  Then they acted as a guide for spacing as I wrote them in stitches.  No marking the quilt, but better results.

Here's the corrected word.

My kids learned a song in preschool that went :

All the fish are swimming in the water,
swimming in the water, swimming in the water.
All the fish are swimming in the water,
bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, splash!

Fingers are crossed that I've spelled the rest correctly for this little Project Linus twister.  This photo below shows the quilt attached at the top to the frame, but not at the bottom.  I do this after quilting the center when I'm turning the borders to quilt them.  I'm not even going to try to quilt cursive writing upside down nor up or down the side borders!  I've found that the top and side clamps, plus the weight of the quilt pulling down over the belly bar provide enough stability to quilt the borders this way.  I don't know if anyone else does this or not, but it works for me.

Here's the center of the quilt.  This pattern was fast, required no marking and reminds me of seaweed waving in the current. 

To avoid stops and starts with each twister shape, I started in the center of the left twister.
Traveled up and back to center, down and back to center, left and back to center with the continuous curves.
Then I traveled right (continuous curve) to the edge of the twister and continued going right to the center of the next twister.  Once I quilted the whole row this way, I finished the last twister shape completely, then travelled left to the edge of the neighboring twister to complete the last continuous curve.... back again to my starting point.

The extra travel in the horizontal seam lines are doubled, but still not very noticeable.  Here's the back side of the quilt.

With a zoomed in section, I can see the horizontal traveling.  But only because I was looking for it over the purple background.

I think this is the first ever quilt that went on and off the frame in the same day.  The reason?  We had a snow day which relieved us from continuing with our shed building jobs.  It's been really nice to have a day where the agenda was erased and everyone could relax.

No accumulation, but it looks so pretty dancing in the air.  We usually get excited if we see snow for 15 or 20 minutes, so it's been amazing to watch it snow all day long!

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars