Saturday, August 30, 2008

Corners Quilted - Fabric Sort

Good morning everyone! Looks like a nice sunny day even though it is supposed to get warmer than it has the last few weeks it is still going to be a beautiful day. John says the crops really need some hotter weather to mature before it freezes so guess I had better wish for a hotter day as well.

Think I will be inside most of the day unless I get out to mow later this afternoon. The grass and weeds are so wet early in the morning and don't dry off until at least noon anyway. Mowing is not my favorite thing to do but John mows now and again when he has time. Mowing the lawn is not a pain but it is mowing all the other areas of the farm I don't like. It takes 4 hours at least to get it all done and mowing the farm yard is always so dirty too. It always looks so nice when I finish that I try to think of that as the dirt is showering down on me. For you "city" friends the farm yard, with the exception of the lawn around the house, has some grass but it is mostly low growing weeds. The grass and weeds in those areas don't grow as close together so the dirt in between the plants gets disturbed and comes shooting out the side along with the cut grass/weeds. If there is any wind it blows back in your face - YUCK!

I got so much done yesterday - must have had an energy serge. At least it felt like I got a lot done anyway. I quilted the cat in the center and worked on getting the corners quilted. I really like how this is coming along so far.
Using the BSR is getting easier the more I quilt but I still quilt very slow. I quilted the outside motif in orange thread then outlined it in the silk thread. The area between the points and the motif I did the tiny circles with the silk thread. Not sure I am doing them right but they are looking OK.
Will be doing the outline and circles on the outside of the orange motifs too but will stop short of the corner a little. I want that last pointy part of the motif to point exactly to the corner so will trim the quilt and make sure it is drawn correctly then quilt that last before I bind it.
I stopped quilting early last evening to watch the University of Nebraska girls play their first Volleyball game. It was really exciting to watch them beat Stanford the #2 ranked team in 3 sets.
While I watched the game I worked on sorting my fabrics. I had hauled all the boxes from their shelves and deposited them in the family room. Figured I would get them sorted quickly if I wanted that room to be livable again, plus I would not stop at sorting just a box or two if they are all sitting out on my table and floor. I managed to get several sorted and re-folded but have a couple more to do. I took a photo this morning of what they looked like - should have taken one last evening before I started. There was fabric draped over everything, plus a few other missing things as well - have been looking for that bungee cord! Anyway it is a good start and will continue to straighten tonight.
I am trying to sort out a lot of fabrics that I don't think I will use and putting them in bags. Will use this fabric to make lap quilts for the various donation projects our guild does and thought this would be a good way to use up the fabric plus practice my machine quilting skills.
We go to the State Fair early tomorrow to watch my nieces show their 4-H chickens. Is always a fun day! Will take John in to see the quilts sometime tomorrow too. I like him to see what everyone else is doing and exhibiting and he is getting better at appreciating the quality of the really good ones and the not so good ones. At least he makes the right comments when looking at them - now he will pause and look at the quilts. Years ago it was almost a race to see how fast he could walk by the rows and rows of quilts!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Choosing Quilting Thread

When you live in the country away from any close shopping areas you learn to make do with what you have on hand sometimes. (It is at least an hour drive to any quilt shop and then they don't carry all the threads that I like. End up going to Grand Island which is an hour and 20 minutes away or to Lincoln which is an hour and 45 minutes away if I need specific thread or fabrics. Needless to say I need to have a bigger shopping list than just thread to travel that far.) That is the case this time when I looked through my threads to find what I wanted to use to quilt this quilt I am now calling - "Waiting for Halloween"
I have read of quilters using silk thread for their machine quilting so am giving it a try. I had the perfect shade of YLI Silk #100 thread to match the background behind the applique in my thread stash that I usually use for hand applique. I stipple quilted plus used it to outline the applique and to quilt on the pumpkin, flowers and leaf. I really like how the thread almost disappears into the background but when you look close you can see it.
I am using Bottom Line thread from Superior Threads in my bobbin and that is working great too. I am now a convert from using all cotton thread I think. The last few pieces I have quilted using Bottom Line have turned out wonderful and it really is nice that the tension stays so good - the top threads are not pulled to the bottom or the bottom threads being pulled to the top. They stay where they belong so I can change colors of top thread and you would never know it by looking at the back of my quilt. Click on the pictures to get a larger view of what has been quilted so far.
This morning right before noon I started quilting on the corner motifs in orange thread. (Will show a photo of that maybe tomorrow) I am using 100% cotton 50/3 Mettler thread as I wanted a little thicker thread so it would show up better. I do happen to have some orange silk thread but oped not to use that this time.
Not sure what thread I will use for the cat but since I don't have any black silk am thinking of using black 100% cotton 2 ply DMC machine embroidery thread that I have on hand.
Am posting this on a break from quilting. I tend to get tense when I am machine quilting and forget to relax and breath, another habit I am trying to break. The computer is in the same room as the sewing machine so just hop from one chair to another for my breaks.
Guess it is time to "hop" back to my quilting now.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ready to Sew - What to Sew?

My sewing room was cleaned up a little this morning so took a photo before it became it's usual mess. I have a great view out the large windows when I am sitting at my machine and they let in a lot of natural light - we had replaced the old bedroom window with this bow window when we remodeled and I love it. The other half of this room is the office that I share with John. Sometime when that half of the room is clean I will snap a photo of it to show you but right now it is a disaster and I wouldn't want you to think we are slobs.

I have some tall bookshelves for my quilt books and magazines on one side and on the other is the island we took out of the kitchen when we remodeled. It is a great height to use for my cutting board and I also sit my large pressing board on it. Right now there is an ugly piece of fabric laying over the pressing board to protect it from the spray starch I was using.

Behind the island is a closet with a bi-fold door. This room was originally my in-laws bedroom and the closet was one of the two they used for their clothes. I use it for sewing stuff but it needs to be cleaned and organized after living here for 3 1/2 years. When we moved in I put things where I thought it all should go but by now it all needs organized a little better and some stuff needs to be sorted out and disposed of.
I want you to notice the small pin cushion sitting to the right of my machine. A friend made that for me recently and it is really handy in that it is small and I can use it beside my machine or take it to where ever I am working. She purchased a heavy napkin ring and some fabric to cover a filler of wool batting. It doesn't take up too much room and the napkin ring is metal so has some weight to keep it from tipping over.
Yesterday I worked as a "white glover" at the Nebraska State Fair quilt department. I always enjoy the job which really isn't work at all. There are chairs to sit in but most of the time I find myself walking in the area I am assigned to and looking at the quilts, studying the piecing/applique designs and the quilting on each piece. I did take a lot of photos but they are still on my camera. Maybe I will get to it tomorrow.
As "white glovers" we tried to answer visitors questions, most of which were pretty basic and were there to help protect the quilts. Only had one incident where I had to say something and that was when a few teenagers thought they were going to chase each other and run between the rows of quilts by going underneath the quilts - WRONG! Most of them sheepishly left the quilt area after being told that wasn't allowed.
There were a few vendors (just general fair vendors - not quilt supply vendors)around the edge of the quilt display. Our shift didn't get over until 1:30 pm so we were all getting a little hungry and my last station was right in front of a roasted soybean vendor. I would not have bought any except he had samples to taste and after trying several kinds I knew I just had to have some to take home. I bought some cherry coated roasted ones and some lightly salted roasted soybeans. I probably would never had bought the cherry ones if I had not tasted a sample but they are really very good. Now I am resisting the urge to open the packages but I decided I would wait until we had some company. Neither John or I have much will power when it comes to snacks so we would probably finish them off rather quickly.
Tuesday I wanted to work on something/anything on my new sewing machine but didn't have anything recent started or any ideas for something new. Really need to get a new quilt started so I will always have something to sew when the mood strikes. Since I got this machine I have wanted to use it everyday I can but just ran out of things to do. I got out my box of UFOs and pulled out a block I had started many years ago as a Haloween walhanging. I had hand appliqued the black cat and pumpkin block then had decided I would set it into a circle of triangles kind of like Mariner's Compass PP block with fat triangles. I had gotten the circle pieced and stitched to the appliqued block but had never put the rest of the background around the circle.
The background piece was with the rest of the block so got it reverse appliqued on yesterday. Hmmm.....What to do next to the wall hanging? After searching my fabric boxes I couldn't find any more of the dark dusty green background fabric and don't have a clue if there even was any left so decided that it is finished the way it is! It will make a nice small (aprox. 16") wall hanging to hang in my kitchen in October.
Marked it with a machine quilting design that took half the afternoon to design to fit in the corners and now it is basted ready to start quilting. I used Sharon Schamber's method of basting which works really well for me. I did baste a lot closer together than she does since this small piece I didn't want anything to shift as I quilt. Now to pick the thread color and start quilting ! Am thinking of quilting the corners in Orange and the rest in a thread to match. What do you think?
Back to work now....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

State Fair Quilts

I just found out that one of my quilts received a 2nd place ribbon and the other two didn't place. I am surprised about the quilt that did get the ribbon. I had thought about not taking it as I thought it had obvious problems. You never know what competition each quilt has and what the judge is looking for. Now I am anxious to go to the fair and see all the quilts.

Five of us will go up on Wed. to work as white glovers in the quilt department. We have been going up for more years than I can remember and everyone is quick to say yes when I ask if they want to do it each year. When you volunteer you get up close to the quilts and can really take a lot of time looking at them, answer questions from people walking through the show and also as quasi quilt police. (See there really are quilt police!) Our job is to keep people from touching the quilts or damaging them in any way.

The people wandering through the exhibit range from quilters of all ages to non-quilters that don't have any idea about the quilting process, judging process or even what is machine quilting or hand quilting. It is so much fun to visit with everyone and try to help them understand if they have questions.

This year there are 371 quilts in the exhibit from miniatures to full sized quilts. The quality of the quilts at Nebraska's state fair is always very good so is a treat to be able to get the chance to white glove.

Now for the photo for this blog. This is a clay frog a friend gave me a few years ago. I am a frog collector as well as a quilter and this was perfect - a frog and a quilt together! It is only about 1 3/4" tall and is so cute. It is meant to hang as an ornament but I have it sitting on a shelf. This photo is quite a bit bigger than the actual frog!

So long for now...


Secret Miniature Quilt and Rain

Yesterday I worked on a miniature quilt that I can not show you a photo of. Now don't you just hate that teaser. It is to be sent to a friend and she reads this blog so guess until I get it finished, mailed off and know she has gotten it everyone will just have to wait to see it.

We had rain here off and on all day yesterday but it didn't amount to much - only .30". I had an interesting conversation with a cousin of mine from Florida last weekend. She grew up on a farm in western Nebraska but now lives in a city where she raised her three girls. She commented that her girls would get to laughing at the letters her mother (their grandmother) would write about getting rain. They though it was so funny and would laugh and joke about the fact that she always included how much rain they got, down to the hundredths of an inch. She said they would never understand that to a farmer the amount of rain that comes down is very important. Rain equals more profit at harvest if you are a farmer that can irrigate and if you are a farmer that can't irrigate it comes down to just having any profit at all from a years work. It is the first topic of conversation when ever farmers meet after any rain storm.

That being said, we have been wanting a little more rain to keep from running our irrigation wells again this season on the corn. With the price of fuel the costs are enormous. Each well engine burns approximately 3 gallons an hour so over the period of a day it mounts up. Most farmers here have to farm quite a few acres to make a living so there are lots of wells to run and huge fuel bills to pay. I am not sure the .30" will do it but it sure helps.

The next thing the farmer will worry about is when we will get our first hard frost which means the end of the growing season for most of the crops. Milo will continue to mature if not hit by a hard frost but soy beans and corn will pretty much be done. An early frost will also reduce your yields. It is never a sure thing until the crop is harvested and in the elevator or bin. Well, that is it for farming 101 - a lesson on farming!

Back to quilting....Today I hope to quilt the mini I am working on and get it bound so maybe I can get it mailed tomorrow.

To keep this post more interesting I will post a photo of another quilt so there is something to look at today. This miniature quilt was finished in 2007 and named "Summer Night Sky" It is 10.25" x 10.25", machine pieced and machine quilted. the quilting is a little wobbly in places but I do love the colors of the fabrics together even though the photos are a little darker than in real life. The center Mariner's Compass is 4 .25".

It is a good thing I have older quilts to show to hopefully keep your interest since I am not a prolific quilter or a fast quilter.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Sweet Corn

Thank goodness I am done putting up sweetcorn for another year. I don't know how many reading this freeze corn every year or have ever done it so I took some photos this morning to give you an idea what the process looks like. This is the second batch I have done this summer so my freezer has corn ready to fix for meals all this next year. The last time I did corn a few weeks ago I had about 3-4 times as much corn to do and it took several more hours to get it done. For the un-initiated I am going to tell you how I do it. This is the only vegetable I preserve as I just can't buy corn that tastes as good as the home frozen kind so every year I insist on getting it done even though it is a lot of work.

John helped pick and shuck the corn this morning. Our 5 horses were across the fence looking at us and letting us know they sure wanted a share so I would gather up a few armfuls of shucks and toss them over every once in a while. They were in horsey heaven as they were munching I am sure.

I then brought it into the house to wash and get as much of the silk off as possible. The first photo shows all the washed corn stacked and ready to cook. I boil it all a few minutes to set the juices then the corn gets removed from the kettle and put into ice water to stop the cooking process and to get it cooled ready to cut off the cob. The second photo shows my sinks with the cooling corn. The next step is to cut it off the cob - photo 3 shows the pans of corn kernels. I use a vacuum sealer on the bags of corn that get put into my large freezer - photo 4.

The last photo is of my dehydrator. I am going to dry about half of the corn I cut off this morning and will seal it up in bags after it is dry. I have not done this for a few years but I really like using the dried sweet corn to make corn bread. I put the dried corn into my blender and it grinds it pretty fine. To catch the large pieces that do not get ground fine enough sifting the ground corn it catches those. They get thrown back into the blender for more grinding. The cornbread made from this corn is so sweet and yummy so I can't wait for it to get dry so I make my first batch of cornbread.

No quilting for me today but I did neglect to give the size of the mystery quilt yesterday - it measures 39" x 49". Need to get some yard work done yet so even though my sewing machine is calling me I have to not listen. Maybe I can sew tomorrow (especially if I refuse to see the dust on all the furniture and the clothes that need to be laundered!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mystery Quilt Finished

Well, I got the binding stitched down this afternoon so technically it is finished. I still need to hand stitch the sleeve down and get a label on it though. The machine quilting really helped the outside border not be so plain but the quilt still looks like a miss-mash in the center. The applique doesn't stand out enough and the light areas are too quiet compared to the center. I do like it better now that it is finished though. Not sure what I will name it yet as I have always called it the Mystery Quilt - maybe that should be it's name.

The wool batting is OK now that it is all stitched down but it was a little difficult to control after I got the center quilted. After the center was finished the borders really puffed out and I had to be really careful not to stitch pleats in the back or the front. I probably should have re-basted it but didn't want to take the time.

We have guild meeting in a few hours so now I can collect the rest of the stuff I am taking along. This year for our service project we are collecting food for the local food pantry. Each month it will be a different food item and tonight we are to bring canned vegetables.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Machine Quilting

It seems like I will never get done quilting this Mystery quilt. I don't think I am getting better on the free hand stipples but the outside vine border didn't go too badly. At least I was more comfortable when I was quilting it. I drew the leaf border on with the new Fons and Porter marking pencil. It looks just like the Bolin one so must be manufactured by the same company I would guess. It really marked nice on the fabric and after I finish the quilt will see how easy it is to get out. I did mark really light but missed the line sometimes when I was quilting the leaves, etc.

I changed back to the heavier Sulky 30 wt. variegated thread for the border quilting. It really makes those leaves and berries stand out. The last part to be quilted is the background around the leaves, berries, vine. I changed colors of thread and am using a tan bottom line and just doing the free hand stipple - not very well again though. The space is tight but felt I needed to quilt it down since the rest of the quilt is heavily quilted.

Another contributing problem to the quilting is that I used Hobbs Wool Batting. It is way too fluffy for me and wants to puff out too much for my taste. That is why I am heavily quilting the piece. Don't think I will use that on a project again like this as the basting is not holding it flat enough - maybe I should have basted closer for this batting - hmmm? The miniature flower garden quilt I am hand quilting has this batting in it too but I split it in half and it doesn't seem to heavy for the miniature and is not so out of control puffy.

I took this photo just a minute ago from the back side of the machine. I quit quilting around midnight last night and will pick up where I left off today when I get back to it today.

You can see how the cord to my new LED light is held to the back of my machine in this photo too. I do LOVE that light!!!

My goal is to have this done by tomorrow night (Thursday) so I can take it to my quilt guild meeting. Have some things to do today so not sure how much I will get done but later this afternoon I should be able to get back to quilting so I can bind it tomorrow - at least that is the plan.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Machine Quilting Needs More Practice

I finally got to machine quilting yesterday on the Mystery Quilt. The BSR is nice but there is a learning curve to it, especially when I have not done that much machine quilting. My first mistake was I bought a heavier thread than I intended. It is a beautiful shaded green 100% cotton Sulky 30 wt. I didn't even notice the wt. when i purchased it I guess. I had one motif almost done when I figured it out and didn't want to rip so continued quilting the motifs with this thread then changed to Bottom Line for the background quilting.
My machine quilting is really needing practice. I do fine for a while then quick as a wink i can get angles and jogs where there should be smooth lines. I am also having trouble with my top thread breaking at times. I have changed needles, cleaned the bobbin area and re-threaded but it still breaks occasionally. If anyone out there can advise me I would appreciate it. (Have the 730 Bernina with BSR - just to remind you)
Anyway this is what it looks like so far. Am doing a simple stipple stitch for the background then will have a design in the last border where I will change back to the 30 wt. thread.
I need to quilt in the centers of the leaf rings yet and about half of the stippling to go.
Our tomato plants are really producing now and I just love them. I don't do any canning anymore but we eat a lot then give a lot away too. The cucumbers have slowed down some but still finding a few to eat. The second batch of sweet corn is ready now too so enjoying eating that again. I do want to freeze some more and hopefully can get that done this week sometime. (Too busy quilting this morning to do it today.)
I want to share a really good recipe for baked zucchini that I got from a friend. It is wonderful! My sister gave me some zucchini last weekend as I don't grow it in my garden and I made the casserole a couple of days ago. Glad there is some left over as I plan to have it for lunch today!
Baked Zucchini
5-7 small zucchini. peeled
1/2 cup butter
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/3 - 1/2 cups cracker crumbs (Saltines or Club crackers work great)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon. garlic salt

Cut zucchini into slices and pan boil for 5 minutes. Drain. Melt butter and cream cheese. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Put into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Garnish with buttered cracker crumbs . Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Try it you will like it - my theory is if you put cream cheese on anything it will taste good.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Grandma Duty - Miniature Quilt

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth the last couple of weeks. I don't know where the time went last week but this week we have had our two grandson's here for a visit. We had them for 3 days and nights and now this grandma is TIRED! The boys are 2 1/2 and 5 1/2 and very active. Of course I couldn't trust the younger one so I was constantly following him around and had to be outside when he was, plus all the cooking. (Don't cook that much for just John and myself anymore) There are just too many things on the farm that can be dangerous. Anyway they left to go home this morning so it is nice and quiet this evening as I write this. I bet their parents were not used to the quite the last 3 days either and it probably felt like a mini-vacation to them.

I met two friends this morning and we took our quilts to Lincoln to check them in to the State Fair. That didn't take too long so our next adventure was to go to the International Quilt Study Center. One of the gals had never been there and the Nancy Crow exhibit was due to close this weekend and we wanted her to see the fantastic building and the exhibit of the centers quilts plus Nancy's quilts.

We finished off our time in Lincoln by going to Hancock's to have one gals scissors sharpened. We happened to catch a day where there were a lot of items at 50% off. I had looked at the rotating cutting boards before but with the discount I decided to get one. Think it will be really handy sitting beside my sewing machine.

Since I have done no sewing the last two weeks you get to look at another miniature quilt I made a few years ago for one of the doll beds in my collection. This quilt I named "Crazy Ties". The 1" center blocks were designed on the computer and paper pieced from old neck ties. Each piece is outlined with a blanket/buttonhole stitch using gold thread. The center of the quilt is tied and the border is quilted. I had seen a large antique crazy quilt once with gold fringe so decided to try and find some to add to the edges of this quilt. Found some 3" fringe so had to cut it down to 1/2". The pillows are monogrammed with my DH and my initials. That was really an after thought when I was teasing him about it. The more I thought about it, it seamed like a good addition to the pillows. The second photo shows a ruler laying on the top of the quilt.

Maybe next week I will have something new to show.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Club Sew, Fabric Postcard, LED Light

Club Sew in Lincoln was fun to go to yesterday. I had planned on attending the 1:30 pm session but since I was wide awake at 5:30 am I decided to just get ready and attend the 9:30 am one instead. It is almost a 2 hour drive to Lincoln from my house so had to be on the road by 7:30 am to be on time.

The gals presenting were from a small group that got together after Ricki Timms presentation last August in Omaha. They all did Convergence quilts and now are all working on quilts with a Coneflower theme. They all told how they accomplished the different things on each quilt and how they each attacked the project from a little different way. Learned how to put a facing on a quilt and may try that some time on one of my miniatures. The quilts were all beautiful.

I did purchase some more bobbins and the Free Motion Couching foot (no. 43) and a couple of spools of Bottom Line thread. Am anxious to try the couching foot as the yarn or cord comes through the hole as it is stitched so it can be all attached with a straight stitch. Looked pretty cool on the Bernina web video so decided that could be something I might use. The magnifier lenses I want to get had not arrived at the store yet so will have to wait a bit for them.

I pulled one of the post cards I had made some time ago and finished it to give to my mother instead of a regular birthday card. She had admired it once when I was showing her some of the ones I had made so decided she should get it. I have learned after putting the backs on some right after I made them I had more trouble personalizing them. I like to print some poem or message onto cardstock using pretty fonts, etc. This saves me from mispelling a word or messing up the back somehow. Now I just do the front of the card then wait until I know who I am going to give it to before I finish the back. Since I am going to hand deliver this to her with her gift I printed the words out centered on card stock that are appropriate to her and maybe the card too. I attached it to the back of the card with fusible then trimmed it square and zig-zagged around the edge to finish it. Will give her a small easel to stand it up on a shelf or on her desk.

The tree is free hand embroidered in brown thread and the fabrics are fused down on the Timtex, then the postcard was machine quilted.

Thought I would show you a light I purchased recently that sticks onto the side of my machine. It is from and I got it from my friend that owns a quilt shop. It is wonderful!!! The two photos below show what a difference it makes - one photo is of it turned on and the other with it turned off. Both photos are with the sewing machine turned on so the regular light is on. You might not see as much difference as you would in true life as the flash on my camera is probably distorting it some. The light has a very flexible arm and it plugs in so you don't have to be putting batteries in it all the time. Also comes with little cord holders that I stuck in a few places on the back of my machine to keep the cord out of the way when I stitch.

This photo is with the light off.

This photo is when the light is turned on.

Light showers this morning which is welcome as things are getting a little dry. We actually would love an inch of this slow rain then the irrigation wells could be turned off for a little while. There is a chance of more rain tonight so maybe I will get my wish anyway.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Marked borders - Miniature Quilt Photos

I got the entire outside border on that mystery quilt marked yesterday afternoon. It wasn't hard just time consuming. I used my light box set up and away I went. This is the first time I used the Fons and Porter mechanical marking pencil. I used the dark lead and it sure marked nice. The pencil has an eraser on the end and it seems to take the marks off ok, at least my test on a scrap of fabric came off. Even with that I tried to mark with a light hand. Will let you know later if the marks came off easy or not.

Today I have not done any quilting as the sweet corn was ready to be picked and prepared for the freezer. John helped me pick and shuck it but it was my job to get it all blanched, cooled, cut off the cob, and bagged. I finished about 5:00 pm and am pooped! I sure am glad to have it all in the freezer now - all 49 bags. I don't have my kitchen cleaned up yet but needed a break from standing. I do lay a couple of layers newsprint on the floor and counter to catch most of the errant kernels and mess. I get end rolls from the newspaper office - they give it away. Do need to pick it all up and get my dirty pans, etc. in the dishwasher yet too.

Since I didn't do anything new to show I photographed a couple of miniature quilts I made a few years ago. These hang on walls in my home. This first one is called "Not Quite a Charm" and is hand pieced in the English Paper Piecing method over papers. The small leaf border is machine appliqued with the invisible thread. The quilt is hand quilted. Have included a close up of one corner with a ruler in the photo to help with the dimensions - it is 10"x 11".

This next quilt is 18" square and is all machine pieced, machine appliqued and hand quilted. I call it "Nebraska Quasars". I quilted using dark thread on the light fabrics and light thread on the dark fabrics.

I go to Lincoln tomorrow for the first Club Sew meeting at my Bernina Dealer's store - was given a yr. free with the purchase of my 730 so want to take advantage of it and attend as many as I can. Think there is a discount the day of the Club Sew and I want to get some more bobbins, the magnifier lenses and maybe some thread. Don't know the rules yet on the discount so time will tell what I actually purchase.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Light Boxes and Quilting Designs

Today I have had a lot of time to myself without interruptions - John had to be gone for the day so was not popping in and out of the house all day like usual. Was nice not to have to make dinner too as I just warmed up a few leftovers and ate quickly so I could get back to work. Have spent the entire day drawing and figuring out what design I want to quilt in the borders of my mystery quilt. I have a photo of the quilt after I got the applique done on it in my July 3 post.

Thought I would tell you how I design and transfer my quilting designs. I have rigged up a light box using my Horn air lift sewing table. First I have to remove the sewing machine, then place a large piece of Plexiglas over the opening. I put a florescent light fixture on the air lift shelf (where my machine usually sits.) The light was an inexpensive one we had used one time at another house under a desk upper shelf to illuminate the desk. It turns on and off with a switch on the light. This first photo is what it looks like ready to use.

This next photo shows a hand drawn vine with leaves and berries that at one time I was going to applique throughout the pieced quilt but changed my mind and did leaves and berries in circles instead. This vine was too wide for my border as it was, so laid my border paper (just taped copy paper together) with my registration marks and traced different leaves and berries in different spots after I drew the center vine. I sometimes flipped the tracing paper design over to change the leaf to it's mirror image.

This is a view of the short side border all drawn. I draw in pencil then when I am satisfied I go over the design with a marker. I used this short side diagram to make the long side adding more leaves and berries where needed as each section was just a little longer than the sections on the short side.

Here are the two borders ready to use with the light box and transfer them to the borders of the quilt. I am going to have to make a little adjustment in the corners with one berry as it's stem is just a little long but think it will fit the quilt other wise.

All the while I was drawing these border designs I have been trying to come up with an idea for the rest of the quilt. Think I will outline the applique and add a tendril here and there but don't know what to do with the rest of the piecing in the center section and the other light border next to the center and the dark green small border. Maybe something will come to me while I am marking the borders - I hope!

I plan to use my makeshift light box on the marking of the fabric too. It really works pretty well. I used to use a large flat cardboard box that would hold my Plexiglas and put the light inside of the box. Works great if I have to take a light box to a workshop but at home don't use the box anymore as the sewing table is a better height.

At one time I didn't have the Plexiglas so took one of the storm windows out of our storm door - the kind that has the windows that can be raised and lowered to let in air. Anyway I would just take out one of the windows and clean it up each time I needed a light box. It worked great until I broke one taking it to a class I was teaching. It bumped something and broke it into millions of pieces. Think it was safety glass as there were no sharp pieces but what a mess! So glad it shattered on a hard surface floor so I could sweep up all the pieces. We had replaced the door it originally came out of so didn't have to worry about a door with out one window. I do have the other window from that same door in my closet in case I would want to use it again but think I should probably get rid of it and just use the Plexiglas.

Need to put on some perkier music as the music I have been listening to all afternoon is starting to make me sleepy - Luther Vandross, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, and Nora Jones to name a few. Love listening to their CDs.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Miniature Quilts

I have not gotten to my sewing machine since I have been home from convention and am anxious to get started on anything right now just to be able to sew. This week has been busy with other things.

Had lunch with two friends yesterday and we had a mini-show and tell which makes me want to sew even more. They showed all the things they had done recently and I didn't have much - just what I did in class in convention and the challenge quilts from NSQG and our guild.

We had our first sweet corn yesterday - YUM! It is always such a treat and I can't wait for it to be ready each year. Of course I make a pig out of myself the first few times too. I imagine I will be preparing the sweet corn for the freezer some time soon too so no sewing then either.

Decided to photograph some other miniature quilts I have made in the past. This first one I call "Island Treasure." It is paper pieced, hand quilted and finished in 2002. I included a close up shot of the quilting in the second photo. This mini won the miniature quilt category at the State Fair in 2002.
The next one is made from batik fabric with frogs - I beaded one and made it into a small wall hanging in 2005. The last quilt "Woven Gems" is one I made for a doll bed this past year. It doesn't look like it but it was one of the hardest miniatures I have ever done. Getting the 9 patches to look square then to match them to the snowball block was really difficult. Still not perfect but as good as I could do. These last two were machine quilted.

I just finished entering quilts for the Nebraska State Fair and entered "Woven Gems" in the Doll Quilt category. Don't expect to do real well this year as all three that I entered have some problem or other. The other two entered are the "Morning Star Over The Pine Ridge" and the "Three Flowers", both are posted on earlier posts.



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