Thursday, January 29, 2015

Quilt Blocks, new stamps, getting well and plants

Well I am finally starting to feel better, the head is no longer stuffy and the chest is sounding much clearer, I detest getting a cold, I think getting the flu shot kept the worst of it away.

Since I was feeling clear headed yesterday I was able to put together the 3 blocks for tomorrow's quilt class, though not without my share of problems, after stitching 6 pieces together my machine's bobbin  jammed, after fixing the jam and make a test line of stitching I was back to sewing only to get a jam again and again after each attempt at fixing and test stitching, this went on for an hour when finally after one last attempt before running out to buy a new machine I was back to stitching the last pieces onto the blocks.
I still don't know what caused the problem, I had no trouble sewing last week in class but yesterday I thought for sure the machine was ready for replacing, if this happens again I am contacting Singer with a huge complaint.  I am going to make a test line of stitching later and tomorrow morning too.

I purchased some new stamps to use on my first letters for the Month of Letters Challenge set to begin on February 1st.
I just love this simplicity of the stamps, just right for Valentine's Day don't you think?  Yes I decided to try the Month of Letters again this year. If you don't know what I am talking about you can check out the info here:
The sun is shining again today though clouds and a chance rain is forecast for tomorrow, it seems every time I have to drive across the other side of the city it rains.

Signs of spring are slowly popping up here and there, my shrubs are showing new growth, the rhododendron has buds, the Caladium is coming back to life after the deep freezes and the cover blew off.

I came across this photo on a facebook page, hmmm could this be a future project in my yard?

I may not be planning to plant a garden this Spring, but since I have the overwhelming desire to garden I will at least plant a few containers, I'm just not myself if I don't have my hands in the soil.

Oh and one of my rose bushes I thought was lost is showing promise, I may transplant to a pot.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fence Rail blocks made

As you know yesterday I attended the first beginners quilt class so I could update my cutting and measuring techniques for quilt making. The first block we made is the Fence Rail or Rail Fence, this is one of my favorite blocks when wanting to make up a quick quilt.
These are the first blocks I made yesterday we first cut our strips down to 6.5" and then sewed them together using a method called chain piecing, and yes I did sew the block on the bottom different from the other two it was planned.

The next block we made we just sewed the long strips together and then I guess we will be cutting them into 6.5" blocks as well, we didn't get that far.
For homework we need to make the third set of fence rail blocks for next weeks class. Here is a look at both side by side.
I chose these fabrics for the neutral color and the nature prints, there are bare trees, leaves, butterflies, and the hexagon print because it looks to me like a honeycomb.

From just one class I learned a few new things that will become invaluable to me for future quilt making: 1 cutting strips is a fast and more precise method to cutting. 2 Pressing out seams correctly make a difference in measurement. And the ever valuable measure twice cut once is not just a cute quilter's phrase.

One thing I want to do is mark my machine with a line for a 1/4" for the seam allowance, yesterday I used a ruler to gauge where it was and I stitched slowly to keep everything straight and as luck held out my blocks all came out 6.5" square and when I line up my three loose blocks all the seams match. I could trace a 1/4" seam line on the fabric but that will eat up my time.

The 3 hour class went by quickly, Sally our instructor is a wealth of knowledge, a patient and articulate teacher and I know I will learn much from her class. There are 10 of us attending the class, we introduced ourselves, shared our reasons for taking the class which was as varied as our fabrics, let me say the fabrics my classmates each chose are colorful and will make for some very stunning quilts.  In closing I know I made the right decision to take this class and can't wait till next Friday's class.
Updated later in the day: While buying a OTT Lite today I found a 1/4" piecing foot for my sewing machine at Joann's I believe this may solve my problem. Oh not only was the Ott lite 50% off I had an additional 30% off my total purchase gift card woo hoo.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quilt Class Today

First day of Quilt Class is today, I have my supplies, fabric, sewing machine, cough drops and tissues. I've been sipping tea with honey and though I have a clear head I just feel tired.
While ironing my fabrics yesterday I am now rethinking my color choices which does not surprise me, lucky for me the class is held in a quilt shop.

Monday, January 19, 2015

First TUSAL Report for 2015

It's January 20th which means it is time for the New Moon TUSAL ort report, here is the photo of my January Orts jar, as you can see I have been stitching quite a bit, or just wasting lots of embroidery floss and sewing thread.
Here are a few of the things I have been working on since January 1st. in no particular order.
I have finished piecing my crazy quilt block and have just begun to add the embellishments, many of the threads in the jar came from this piece, not only did I move around a few pieces to get better placement, those beautiful butterfly and dragonfly pieces fray terribly.  On a whole I am happy with the outcome, though I didn't care for the random piecing method until I received some wonderful tips from a facebook group I joined, which is work clockwise from the center piece out. The next time I do a crazy quilt block I'm going to try the flip and sew method.

The Celtic Knot piece was completed on New Year's Day and I do like the look using the green printed fabric.
These are the first and second week stitches I'm doing with the Facebook stitch a long at Joyful Embellishments.
week one

week two
I am truly enjoying the challenge of learning these embroidery stitches, for January we are doing variations of the feather stitch, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine in all its guises. One or more will be the first stitches I use on my crazy quilt block.

The last item to add bits of thread to the jar is my Greenman which I began stitching at last Thursday at the Thread Therapy group.
While looking at the photo I may go another way so don't be surprised if the green thread is in the jar for next months Ort report. Not sure what an ort or a TUSAL is follow the link below and read all about it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stitches, books, bits and Orts

We are having another sunny day here in Florida today,  I know that must sound silly coming from someone living in the sunshine state but January has been gray skies, cloudy, foggy and rainy for two weeks.

This week I have been keeping to my goal of being more creative in 2015, I began the stitching on my Greenman piece. I started at Thursday's Thread Therapy group which meets at the Yards n Yarn shop.
The Thread Therapy group had a wonderful turnout with lots of talented women working on all sorts of projects, next week I plan to bring a crochet project.
This weeks stitches for the Joyful Embellishments facebook group gave me a bit of a challenge but I worked them out after a few pull outs. I make changes when ribbon is used, I am not ready for that just yet.  I did use more beads this week.
week two stitches
I do like the variations of the feather stitch even with the few blunders I made as seen in this photo
my blunders
This week the walk down the driveway to my mailbox held a few prized possessions to add to my collections
The co-author of this book Valerie Bothell is the creator of Joyful Embellishments and her stitching is amazing.
This book is going to be very helpful as I explore and create more crazy quilt projects, I have a few blocks in mind the gypsy block I mentioned in an earlier post  using this fabric piece as focus point.
I found this cute little tambourine charm to use on the block
This year I decided to give The Month of Letters Challenge a try again, after the rude comments and messages from a few participants about how much mail I send daily I just closed my account so I didn't have to bother with the petty bullshit. I have been a penpal for most of my life so I write lots of letters, for this year's challenge I created a new account. Speaking of letters I have three waiting for a reply so let me post this, brew some tea and pull out my stationery and stamps.

Oh yes I will once again be doing the TUSAL (totally useless stitch a long) and tomorrow will be the first post of my orts jar for 2015. Not exactly sure what an Orts is, click the link here and read all about it, you may want to join too! Its free, its fun and its totally useless.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Quilt Class fabrics

Yesterday I signed up for the beginning quilt class held at Tomorrow's Treasure quilt shop starting on Friday, January 23rd.  I want to improve and update my quilting skills, since I am self taught and have done most of my quilt making by hand I thought it would be nice to modernize my cutting and piecing methods and finally get a better grasp of the rotary cutter.

With supplies list in hand it was time for the hard task of choosing my fabric.  Here is the quilt we will be making.
The sweet little sampler quilt is made up of the blocks from other projects in the book required for class:
These are the fabrics I chose for my quilt, I went with neutral shades with a nature theme to the prints, I may have bought a bit more then I'll need.
though now as I look at the fabrics I may need to get another medium tone piece, I did check my stash bin and found 3 other fabrics I may use, the light fabric in the left may be the backing.
Though knowing me by the time class starts I may have a whole other set of  fabrics for the quilt. Perhaps purple, gold and green, or spring colors of pink, yellow and green are running through my mind,  I should probably avoid the quilt shop and fabric stores.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

First 5 stitches for SAL and thrifty finds

Just a quick post to show off my first week of stitches for the Joyful Embellishments stitch a long.
I am so glad I decided to participate, after seeing all the wonderful stitchery from other members I had my doubts at my own ability because it has been so long since I have done serious embroidery, and my stitches are still quite wobbly, but then I thought, so what this is what you need: practice and learn.
I don't recall doing a feather stitch until this past week and now its quickly becoming a favorite.

Last Wednesday I made my first visit of the year to one of my favorite thrift shops and was not disappointed, in fact I was overjoyed with my finds most of which will be used for crafty projects most notably the crazy quilt.
velvet ribbon
lace and buttons
lace trim
more lace
still more lace
There are yards and yards of the lace trims in the photos plus others I haven't snap picture of yet, the velvet ribbons are full or nearly. The button covers were a sweet find as were a few cards of buttons.
All of this is from one shop the staff had just put it out and I paid under $5.00 but the best find was free this full length beaded dress which I plan to take apart.
front close up
back close up
The dress is silk with a polyester lining, I haven't decided if I will just remove the beads of cut out some of the bead work. Just for the heck of it I weighed the dress its a little over 2.5 pounds.
that's a lot of beadwork
upper half
beaded work some one cut off the dress, this will save me some work
beaded pieces
the bottom piece is I think is hand made lace, very delicate and there is over 10 yards of it I'll press it and wrap it on acid free paper.
I returned to the shop on Thursday and will post those items soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stitching Away

Here is a look at some of the items I have been stitching over the last few days. The few small hand embroidery pieces were made as practice pieces for reasons I posted about in previous post.
The stitching on the blue Celtic knot was completed on Christmas day, the green on was completed on New Years day. A learning task for sure, tracing on the green fabric was a challenge even using the light box, though stitching it was about the same.  No matter how steady I think my hands are while tracing the end result reveals all, it is one of the reasons I like hand embroidery it looks hand stitched, at least mine does.

A few days ago I joined a new group Joyful Embellishments presented by Valerie Bothell on Facebook, for 2015 Monday-Friday she will post a new embroidery stitch each day then we stitch it.
Here is my first 3 stitches not in order.
The first stitches is a feather lazy daisy stitch which is in the center, the second stitch is curving the feather stitch with the lazy daisy, the 3rd stitch is the feather-lazy daisy and the french knot.  I put mine in a curve mid-way for practice, I have never done a feather stitch that I can recall and I will say my french knots are looking much better.

The other 2 stitches for the week will be a feather stitch combo using beads, I opted not to use silk ribbon, it's something I haven't ventured into yet, the final stitch for the week is variation of feather stitch-maidenhair.  This is going to be quite a stitching adventure, I plan to stitch my samples are small pieces of fabric and use them for a future project.

Speaking of which I have drawn a Greenman on my fabric and it sits patiently waiting for me to begin stitching.
I love the Greenman, for me he is the perfect symbol for Spring, I have made several stoneware pieces of him in the past so I thought now is the time to put him in stitchery.  In one of my sketch notes I have a Greenman quilt partially planned. This one uses some oak leaves among the sycamore leaves which are ever scattered in my backyard.

This little gem above from Keepsake fabrics will be used as a center piece for a crazy quilt block.  I have purchased many of the fabric blocks offered if you are curious here is a link to the ebay store

My issue of Inspirations magazine arrived in the mail a few day ago, in my opinion it's the best magazine for hand embroidery available today.
It is chock full of lovelies to stitch and includes full size patterns for many of the projects you will find among its pages.
I am making every effort to make 2015 a year of creativity for me and with patterns like these it just makes me want to stitch all day, since I won't be planting a garden this year I will have more time for stitching.
I made my first trip of the new year to the library a few days ago and stopped in the bookstore to see if I could find a used book or two.
I think I hit the mother load, the quilting books above are like new, the crazy quilt stitches books will be well used. These beading books don't look as if a page was ever turned and now for the best part, I
purchase all six books for under ten dollars.