Finished!

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When I returned home from Empty Spools, I had a couple of projects that I had left mid-stream, and I went back to work on those. Once those were well under way, I went back, determined to finish my project from Katie’s Artful Log Cabins class. Yesterday I finished the piecing and made the quilt sandwich, and today I completed the quilting, and put the binding on. Gotta love a 30″ X 40″ quilt. Even with dense quilting, it moved right along.

I don’t think its a masterpiece, but I am pleased with the finished product. I think it reflects my garden well, and I will enjoy looking at it for a while.

I did try Katie’s method of grid quilting block by block, and I did enjoy that.

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I am especially pleased that I made the decision to change the quilting in two areas–the reflective opening of the imaginary cathedral window, and pebble quilting to imitate the flower shapes of the white flowers. Oh, and you might notice that I circled the one little ladybug that showed up on the quilt 🙂

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I had enough pre-cut strips to use as the binding! And, I definitely over-cut the amount of strips I needed for class. I am thinking about making some regular  log cabin blocks with the leftovers. It might be fun to experiment with them.

Last Quilt of the Year!

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When I last wrote, I vowed to clean up the studio. I did start that. I made one last Artful Oven Mitt, and then I put away all those scraps and insulbright. And I started to clear off the Janome table. And I came to this quilt, that had been folded up on the back of the table for….maybe a couple of years! I know I had the idea to make it after Victoria Findlay Wolfe won Best in Show at Quiltcon with her double wedding ring quilt. I found a date of 2012 for that quilt, so maybe I started this one in 2013.

ANYWAY, it has sat there for a while. I knew it was there, but I thought I was stuck on how to quilt parts of it. When I unfolded it, I found that I had made that decision at some point in time, and all it needed was to continue on quilting that design to get it finished. This is what I was enjoying on the Juki when I first got it–finishing up old tops and half-finished quilts!

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This is one of my zig zag wedding ring quilts. I really do enjoy making these. They seem to hold up very well in the wash. You can see where I thought I was being artful and incorporated some decorator big print fabric in there. And I carefully organized the colors for the background squares and the small squares for the rings. I’m not sure any more what exactly I was thinking of…

ANYWAY, when I finished it and threw it on my bed to see if I had missed any spots, I was pleasantly surprised. I really like this quilt, and will keep it for myself for a nice springtime quilt.

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I think it shrank quite a bit when I washed it, because most of the background fabric was some loosely woven hand dyed fabric. That caused the small “ring” squares to poof up bit more than usual.

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I decided to not do an end-of-the-year review. Just too much work. I know that I have worked consistently, and am content with what I have produced. The Hallelujah! quilt took the majority of the time, but I also finished up the “what they said” series. And I did make a serious dent in the large bin of unfinished tops.

Happy New Year to one and all! Be sure to make time for quilting and creating in the new year.

What I Did First

When I come home from a trip, or when I have finished a large project, sometimes I don’t know what to do next. I used to worry that I was losing my mojo, and felt a lot of pressure to “get right back in there.” But after this trip, I felt relaxed about the whole thing. For a few days I concentrated more on working in the garden and exercising, something I hadn’t done much on this trip. That was good for me.

But I know that it is best to keep working consistently at your art. I have several projects to complete, and I have fairly well-formulated plans for some new projects. Plus, there’s “Noah!” But I chose a small embroidered piece that was almost done. I was pretty sure I could finish it in a day.

It was this small piece. I had finished up the embroidery on it (remember, it was already a quilt sandwich itself,) and I had attached a large border of a really nice textured fabric to it, added batting to the whole thing, and basted it well, so I could hand quilt it.

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Well, that did not go so well. Even though it was well basted, it was bunchy in spots. More bunchy than I am willing to put up with. I threw it in a corner and left for Cambria.

When I came back, I knew what I needed to do. I UNDID all that hand quilting! The batting was reusable, but I threw away the muslin backing. I headed into the studio to find an appropriate backing. There on the cutting table was this piece of fabric! I have put this piece of fabric in the “to go” pile several times. But I always rescue it, because it is a really nice Japanese fabric. Its just that it was dark and dull colors. This little piece was a bit dark and dull. This fabric would be perfect.

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As I laid it out to cut it the right size, I had the idea that if I cut it large enough, I could use it as an extra large binding, folded over from the back. I put together the sandwich, revved up the Juki, and went to work. I simply quilted along the block lines within the embroidered piece, and then changed thread colors, and did a simple grid on the light “frame” fabric. I carefully cut the batting one inch from the edge, and then the backing another two inches from that, so I could fold it over twice to make a nice firm binding, and I hand stitched it carefully to the front.

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Plans don’t always go this well. This little piece almost ended up in the discard bin, several times! The whole successful process tickled me so much I wanted to share it with you. Sometimes you do need to stop working on a project, but many times you just need to continue on, and see what happens.

When I walk by this piece now, I see a lot of blank space on that surround. Perhaps a little more embroidery? 🙂

The Trouble with Teaching

The trouble with teaching is that it takes a lot of brain power to prepare for it. At least that’s how it is for me. I can’t really think about starting a NEW. IMPORTANT. PROJECT. when I am thinking about teaching. All I can think about is “oh, I could share this,” or “wouldn’t that be great to have a sample of that to share.” And you can see, those are not bad thoughts. I just won’t be starting one of the big projects I have in my mind until after this teaching gig is done.

In the meantime, I wanted to have as many examples as possible to share with the class. I had a LOT of unfinished samples…ahem…have I mentioned I don’t like binding quilts?

In fact, I had five small pieces that needed to be finished. So one by one, I set out to get that done. I also didn’t have any handwork for my evenings, so finishing these substituted for that for a few days.

This is the “header” for the “what they said” series. It has a facing instead of a binding. This is my favorite method to face quilts now. 

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You’ve seen this before. Its not finished (I’m planning to bead it) but I wanted to take it to share with the class. So now it has a binding on it.

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And a binding on this little wonky piece, just to keep it contained. Oh, you’ll notice that I hand-stitched the binding to the front. Usually I machine sew my binding down. But I always say I think its weird that quilters do all of that beautiful hand-work on a binding, and hide it on the back.

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And this piece has been hanging around FOREVER, with unfinished edges. That was partly because I just didn’t know what to do with it. It was stitched almost to the very edge, and I didn’t want to cover up any stitching with a stupid old binding. I thought about zig-zagging the edge. And then it came to me–just do that by hand! It took quite a while. But I think it is the perfect edge for this little piece.

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Close-up. Hint: if you do this, it goes a lot quicker with #5 perle cotton 🙂

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And then I had this hexagon piece. I just didn’t know WHAT to do with it. I thought about mounting it on a board. I thought about putting it on top of another quilt (which is what I did.) But how to finish all those dang edges… I just didn’t want to fool with binding it. I was pretty sure it would not be my best work, trying to turn all those corners. So because I had “zig-zagged” the previous piece by hand, I thought, hey, that might work! I literally took 5 stitches, and said, no way am I going to go around this whole piece by hand. So then I decided to try zig-zagging by machine. I auditioned several green fabrics, and in the end, this beautiful piece won out. I placed the hexagon, which was already a complete quilt sandwich, on top of the piece, got it just where I wanted it, and pinned it carefully in place, on a flat surface. First, I straight stitched about 1/8″ from the edge, all around the piece. I thought zig zagging might distort it. Then I started zig-zagging. Three colors of thread, and three rounds of small zig zag later, it was firmly in place. Then I could cut out the back of the foundation fabric. Made a sandwich, and quilted it simply. It came out just the way I envisioned. Oh, and side-note. I thought I would just quilt it on my Janome, since I had a big quilt under the Juki. I had to stop three times in the first five minutes for stupid things, so I switched over to the Juki. Ahhhhh… much better 🙂

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Close-up:

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As I mentioned, I didn’t have any piece to work on in the evening. This was driving me nuts. I also have seen quite a few things lately that have little tiny pieces of fabric sewn together. I got this book. Her work fascinates me. So finally, after all these little quilts were finished, I decided one night to just make a sandwich out of some leftover muslin and batting that was laying around in the studio.I brought the sandwich, my bag of Cherrywood little scraps, and four or five “neutral” fabrics out to my comfy chair. I was somehow going to sew patches on top of this. As soon as I sat down, I knew I didn’t want to have muslin showing through on the front. So I set about hand piecing little bits of fabric together. Yesterday I got tired of hand-piecing, so I put the rest of it together by machine. And now I have a fun little piece to stitch on in the evening.

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So you can see, there are more good than bad things about teaching! I am looking forward to this assignment.

Next

Lots of stuff happening in the studio and on my lap (handwork.) I made a sandwich of this large quilt, and got to quilting it. It was so cumbersome, so I decided to try to be a little bit organized. Folding all the edges up neatly like this really made quilting it a lot easier.

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All finished! This one is slated to be donated to the scholarship fund auction at Cambria Pines Rug Camp this year. BTW, if any of you are rug hookers, I can’t recommend this experience highly enough. I really love going. Its in a gorgeous location, with great food served three times a day, and wonderful teachers. All for a very reasonable price.

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I didn’t have enough of the “inn signs” so I sub’d a big bird print, and some paper pieced blocks. Makes it more interesting. It was hard to get a good picture of it–its not quite as wonky as it looks 🙂 Close-ups:

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I finished the big rug! Now to block and bind it.

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Close-ups:

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This little piece (that I started a year ago, was all finished, hand quilted, and just needed to be bound. It looked a little boring, so I added some perle cotton stitching, echoing the colors in the blocks.

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Close-up:

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There’s more handwork going on. I’ll save that for next week’s report! Have a fun, stitch-filled weekend!

 

Two More Finishes, and a New “Station”

I call this first one “what was I thinking?” Because that’s a lot of work for a quilt that is quite jarring. Well, after looking at it, I remembered that I had a lot of strip sets leftover from the Nancy Crow workshop, and I used them in this. This quilt was completely quilted, and had been put away. I just needed to put a binding on it. Yay!

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I really like stars 🙂 This one was also almost completely quilted except for the border. I put long feathers all around the border. They don’t show much with the print, but I enjoyed doing them. Both of these quilts had enough backing that I could do the “pull the back around to the front” for binding.

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And here is the new “station.” My wet studio is finished! The first picture makes the room look ridiculously long. In reality, the room is about 6’X15′. Tons of room for storage, several nice smooth surfaces to work on, and good lighting. I especially like the shallow shelves I requested so that I can see all my dyes without digging through them. Those are anti-fatique mats on the floor.

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We used leftovers from the kitchen–some subway tile that I somehow ended up with and couldn’t return, and the leftover pieces of granite from the kitchen counters. I bought J. the Contractor’s old stove, and I even have my old microwave out there should the need arise!

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Now for some nice warm days that entice me to get out there and do some dying!

 

Quilting, Piecing, Embroidery, and Rug Hooking

I mentioned to a friend recently that I had been quilting, piecing, embroidering, and rug hooking, and loving all of it. I kept thinking about this, and I realized that part of the reason was because I had “stations” set up for each activity, so that it was very easy to go from one activity to another. I never understood before why people felt the need to keep more than one sewing machine set up, but now I do. I am much more likely to work on a quilt when the machine is all set up and ready to go. (And I do know that having a big new “toy” is a good motivator.) When I started working on that big rug in January, I rearranged my living room so that I could keep the rug frame up all the time. If the rug frame is not up, rug hooking just doesn’t get done–sometimes for months. And of course, my Janome sewing machine is always up, and I am more likely to go and sew together a few pieces when I don’t have to move a big quilt out of the way. My “embroidery station” is the same as always–my big comfy chair where I sit every evening with a dog on my lap, watching TV shows on my computer, and working on whatever embroidery project is at hand.

It has been so fun to look through my UFO’s and find quilt tops I had completely forgotten about, and others that were within a few stitches of being completed!

I really like this quilt. I was influenced by a little postcard of a magnificent Japanese quilt. Mine is not magnificent, but it was very fun to piece, and I enjoyed practicing “straight enough” line quilting on the new machine.

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This was part of a series of quilts I did for a “Pay it Forward” challenge SIX YEARS ago! I had so much fun making those little quilts for three of my good blog friends. This fourth one was for me, but I used a beautiful upholstery weight fabric on the back, and it was not fun to hand quilt through, so 7/8th’s of the way through, I just stopped. Except for the border it was almost completely quilted. I decided to try hand quilting again. Took two stitches (literally) and knew I wouldn’t finish. So to the machine it went. I am as pleased as can be with the result. I’m thinking about keeping it, just because so many good memories are attached to that challenge project.

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This quilt was completely finished except for the central chicken block. I got a little obsessed about that, even wrote a blog about changing it out, and then it got put away and forgotten about. I finished quilting around the motifs in the central block, and it was finished. Several of these quilts have had enough backing fabric that I was able to do the binding by just bringing the backing around to the front. VERY convenient!

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Piecing. I think I showed you this one  before. I just about used all of the strips in that box, and so it is done. Since the strips were cut with a ruler, I’m not sure why it has ended up a bit wonky, except that I didn’t use my 1/4″ foot all the time. Anyway, I think I will put a wide border around it to finish it off and to square it up a bit.

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These stars are mostly my project for Sewing Day with my ladies. So fun to do, but a bit time consuming. All done with 2″ cut squares from my box of little two inch squares.

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I had the idea to make these simple blocks to offset the star blocks, which are so busy, but I didn’t like the way that looked. So they might become their own little project…

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Rug hooking! I LOVE love love working on this rug. There is even more of it done now, but this is the most recent picture. Like I said, I have a place all set up in the living room, so it is very easy to just sit and do a little bit of hooking, if that’s all I have time for.

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Close-up:

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And embroidery. I have almost finished the embroidered words on all 17 of the quilts in the “what they said” series. I loved working on these, and trying to convey the thoughts and feelings behind the words through the way I embroidered the words. Now to quilt and finish them. I will show them all to you at one time, as that is the way I think they will have the most impact. Here is the one I chose to use as the “header.” Just the straight line kantha stitching over the whole piece.

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And that is how life is going in the studio right now. I wake up every morning excited about what I am going to work on that day.

First Finish of the New Year!

I was looking for something else, and I found this older quilt that I had started hand quilting quite a long time ago. It seemed like just the project for my evening stitching during the holiday season. And then, when I got sick, I had even more time to just sit and stitch endlessly. Once I got started, I didn’t really want to stop, because I knew it might end up back in that pile of never-to-be-finished projects. And I really liked this quilt. I had had fun picking out the colors I would use, and how I would place them on the quilt.

I believe it is a pattern from Debbie Caffrey’s “Open a Can of Worms.” And originally, I think it was meant to be a signature quilt, where you could have friends put their signatures or best wishes in those white spaces. LOL. I don’t have that many friends. I just liked the pattern way back when.

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I took this picture so you could see the hand quilting I did on the colored parts of the quilt. After that was all finished, I decided that I would outline quilt each white section with perle cotton the same color as the blocks nearest to that section.

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And then I put the binding on it, and I even finished that by hand, because I didn’t feel like sitting at the sewing machine for that long. And then I threw it in the washing machine, and now I have a new quilt to use on my bed. A very cheery quilt 🙂

The last two days I’ve finally gotten back out into the studio, to work on my rug. Once I take such a long break from a project, it is hard for me to get back to it. I get intimidated, and feel like I just won’t know what to do next. So today, when I finished all the grassy area around the horse, it was a great victory. And it even still looks like a horse 🙂 Now more decisions need to be made. But now I feel a little more confident about my next step.

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I am attending a rug hooking retreat at the end of January, and I am going to try doing an “improv” rug. The idea being, that it won’t be as fussy to work on as this rug, and will go a lot faster. I think it will be fun, and also it will be a way to use some of the wool that I’ve been gathering!

Moving Along

It seems like progress has been slow lately, but if you just keep plugging along, eventually stuff gets accomplished.

I thoroughly enjoyed my quick trip to Santa Cruz for Maria Shell‘s workshop! I stopped at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and they had a brand new exhibit up–what a treat!

Maria’s workshop was great, and she had lots of ideas for us to try using solid fabrics to make prints.

I had this great grouping of fabrics in my tote bin, and right away I thought “wouldn’t those work together well?”

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So I used them to make these curved pieces. When I started working on them, I wasn’t quite so charmed with their colors. So I put them up on my design wall when I got home, and I am pondering the possibilities. Even if I don’t use these particular pieces, I love the technique that she taught, and I know I will use it again soon.

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My gardener was due for a visit, and so the pressure was on to finish the quilt for his first granddaughter. Do any of you have “issues” with charging for your work? I don’t ever want to do anything for free, but on the other hand, I would not pay what I charge for a baby quilt–I want to say “go to Marshall’s, you can get a great baby quilt there for a fraction of the cost.” Nonetheless, we traded work hours for the quilt. MLG has done a miracle in my yard–worth so much more than a quilt.

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Here is the finished quilt–I just quilted simply around the birds, put some radiating lines around the “frames,” and did simple wavy lines in the sashing. I ended up following the fabric pattern to quilt the border. I wanted it to be sturdy, but not too densely quilted for a quilt that I hope is used and loved for a long time.

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I had the idea to cut out one of the bird prints, and use that space for the baby name and info. I was really pleased with how this came out.

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In the meantime, mostly in the evenings, I kept plugging along at the little squares that I was embroidering. Last night I finished the 153rd square! Now I am going to quilt it, and add a backing fabric onto it. I had a muslin back on it, just for stability, but now for the first time I am going to try my idea of adding a second back so that the embroidery thread work won’t show on the back. I am only going to show you a few of the squares that I finished. You’ll have to wait until its finished to see the whole thing.

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(oops, I just noticed I didn’t finish the french knots on this one!)

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And now on to the studio!

Ghosts of Quilting Past

Oh my my my. I showed the fire quilt to MLG (master landscape guy) and that gave him the idea that he could buy a baby quilt for his new grand baby from me. I have lots of unfinished quilt tops, and was pretty sure one or two might work for babies, so I said I’d look around and show him what I had available the following week. I looked in my quilting closet and found a few, and then went out to the storage shed to look through the bins that were out there.

If ever I thought my art quilting had not improved over the years, I found proof in those boxes. In the “what was I thinking of” category, there were several almost completed “art quilts.” Distressing. Too bad to even share on this blog.

But the good news was, it also made me look at all of my many unfinished projects, and I found a fair amount of really nice, traditional type quilt tops.

I found a top that MLG liked for his grand baby, featuring plants and birds 🙂

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And I found this little piece that was essentially completed. I was enamored of buttons at one point, and had quite a collection. And just playing with colors and wool and thread. Yesterday afternoon I quilted the straight lines  on the background, and then decided that I liked the backing fabric for a binding. I went to my chair to hand sew the binding on, and there was this hank of perle cotton on the arm of the chair. Hmmm. That would be a fun way to sew the binding down.

And ta! da! A little fun piece is finished.

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Close ups:

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You can see I sewed the wool squares on by hand and by machine. Also, notice how the wool squares are “wonky.” Wool tends to want to stretch out of shape while you’re sewing it. That’s okay with me, but I’m not sure what you would do if you didn’t want that to happen. Maybe use fusible?

Anyway, this look has given me a lot of quilting to think about and hopefully work on. Best stop writing and get to work!