Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunset on the Prairie

When I looked up and out the window in my sewing room around 6 pm last evening, this is what I saw. Isn't this sunset beautiful?

It sure felt and smelled like spring today. Yes, I did say smell. Don't know about you but early spring has a certain smell just as do autumn days and the first snowfall.

I know we are probably in for more snow before we can really call winter's end but today was a really nice break from cold temperatures.

I sure have a nice view out my sewing room window - can see the seasons change, keep an eye on the very few cars driving by and watch some of my garden grow in summer.

Wishing you all beautiful sunsets and the scents of spring!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Miniature Done

I finished the binding on "Fragrant Memories" miniature last night while I was watching TV. Decided to put a tiny folded strip of the red just to the inside of the binding. Do like how it turned out.

Was a little tricky to keep the red strip even since it was so narrow - bottom rt. corner is a little off and top right corner of my binding looks a little too pointed. Hey - can you tell I am a perfectionist! Am working on trying not to be but it just comes out. I hate it when I can't make things perfect.

This is a close up of one of the corners. You can see I didn't miter the red piece at the corners.

Windy day but the temperature has climbed to the mid 40s today so all the snow is melting except what is in the shade. The wind is blowing again too - seems like the wind is always blowing in Nebraska!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fragrant Memories

Finished piecing the miniature "Fragrant Memories" the other day and got it marked in the border for quilting. I used the blue washout marker as I knew that this quilt will be washed and blocked after it is finished. Kind of wish I would have made the pineapple blocks 2 1/2" square instead of 2" so then I could have cut the applique blocks bigger. They were a little tricky to piece together with the other blocks but did finally get it done.

Yesterday I did get it quilted so next is the binding. I am thinking of doing a small folded strip of red then a green binding.

I used silk thread to quilt this miniature and used a natural colored thread to outline the tulips, do a swirl in the pineapple block and stipple the rest. The outside quilted border is done with red silk thread. The red is not the best - have a hard time not getting jaggy lines once in a while. Need to work on getting smoother curves.

Am making this for our local guild's miniature quilt auction coming up in April so will be glad to get it done early. I hate last minute rushing to finish a project and it seems like that happens a lot with me so this time I hopefully will be done ahead of time.

Happy Quilting!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tulips Done

Finished doing the buttonhole stitch on the 4 little tulips the other day. After doing the stitching on a couple I figured out a way to do all the stitching on the green so I only had one start and stop.

Tying those knots in the silk thread got to be a nuisance and was time consuming. With the blocks being so small I didn't want to try any machine stitching in place to secure the threads as I thought it might show so this was the only option I could think of to keep them from coming loose. Silk thread is sneaky stuff that way!

We had a great time this weekend with our daughter and family. We went especially to watch our one 7 yr. old granddaughter bowl in a tournament with her father and the 8 yr. old granddaughter play basketball. What fun!

The chatter about their life as they rode with us in our car out to their home was priceless. We learned who was the naughty boy on the bus, who their best friends were, what their favorite subject was in school, what exciting things happened in school that week, and on and on. It is a 20 mile drive from their town to their home and the trip went fast and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Sewing again today then tomorrow another friend and I will travel to a quilt shop that our other friend owns. We plan to spend the day, shopping, eating, visiting, get the drift. Probably will not come home with much new but it will be an enjoyable day.

Snowing now so hope it doesn't accumulate and start blowing - don't want to have to cancel our trip.

Happy stitching,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Messy Sewing Room

It always amazes me how quickly I can make my sewing room a big mess. Actually this isn't as bad as it gets sometimes. I just can't be creative without having every surface covered. There are advantages to stitching miniatures though - I just need to keep a small area around my machine, small area to cut and small area to press clean and still have room to work!

Happy clutter to you all.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mini Fused Applique

After my experiment yesterday I decided to go ahead and make the small tulip blocks. I cut out the shapes with fusible on the back and laid my pattern under the Teflon applique sheet and pressed the parts together following the lines I can see through the sheet. Love using the applique sheet for fusible - easy to put the parts together before the final placing on the background fabric since they peel right off.
As you can see I need a little more practice cutting the tiny shapes. May have to make an extra block or two to get them all to look exactly alike.
After I fused the entire shape I peeled it off the applique sheet. I pulled the paper pattern from under the applique sheet and the background square is centered over one of the patterns. I can see the design through the fabric since it is light colored.
The applique is now pressed to the background fabric following the pattern.
I'm working on doing the blanket stitching on the blocks and will show you them when I get them finished.

The weather has been so beautiful here the last few days it almost feels like spring. The weatherman does say we are supposed to get cold weather move in again this weekend but I don't look forward to that - much prefer a jacket to a heavy coat any day.

Until later,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old and New Projects

Started quilting on this miniature auction wall hanging for our guild the other day and this is all the farther I have gotten. Need to come up with a design for the navy blue borders yet. Can't think of what design to use so it will just sit for a while until I get an inspiration.

I have been wondering for sometime how small I could go to do fusible applique with buttonholed edges. Yesterday I started experimenting with a pattern called Fragrant Memories from this book by Cynthia Tomaszewski.

The pretty tulip block in the book is 9" and I reduced it on the copy machine to 3". It wasn't as good a copy or the exact size I wanted so I decided to scan a 9" copy into my computer and traced it into EQ6 as an applique pattern. I now can print this pattern any size I want. I printed the block as a 2" block and it was really cute. Traced the pattern onto fusible, ironed it to my background square and started stitching.

You can get an idea of how small the tulip is by the bobbin sitting beside it. Chose to use silk thread on both the top and bottom of the buttonhole stitch. The next photo shows the front of my machine and shows that the buttonhole stitch is #1329 on my Bernina 730 and width is 1.2 and the stitch length is 1.2. This is the size I stitched around all the pieces.

It is such a small stitch I put the strongest magnifying lens on the machine to be able to see where I was working. Worked like a charm but I do have to make sure I keep the straight stitching right beside the edge of the applique so it doesn't show.

I didn't know for sure what to do with the tail starts and ends of each line of stitching. My solution was to pull both threads to the back and tie a couple square knots and clip the tails. Thought with silk thread the stitching might come undone more easily than cotton thread.

Here is the finished mini tulip block. I had some red silk thread but didn't have any of the blue green shade so used a med. grey. The grey thread looks better in person than on the photos.

The one part that I thought really didn't work was the very thin stem. The buttonhole stitches overlapped each other. Went back into my EQ6 file and changed the width of the stem and printed a pattern to try. Just did the stem and played with the buttonhole stitch on part of it and do like the wider width better. You can tell that there is a buttonhole stitch on either side on the second example but the first one just looks like I zig-zagged over the stem.

Am thinking of making at least 4 of the tiny blocks and make another small wall hanging for our guild's auction in April.

After Christmas I was looking at projects I had started or never finished and the Grandmother's Flower Garden miniature kept calling my name. I had started hand quilting it quite a while ago then it got put aside for other projects and never worked on since. I have been working on it for a little while each night now and don't have it half quilted yet but am making progress.

I am hand quilting it and it just takes a while as the hexagons are only about 1/2" across and I am doing quite a bit of quilting on it. Quilting through those seams is sure not fun! Most of the time I can only take one stitch at a time. I figure every stitch I put in is one less stitch to go - right?

My fingers are gradually getting the callouses back and are not getting so sore. I had not hand quilted for so long my fingers were pretty tender at first.

Happy Quilting,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Handy Helper

You may have noticed on previous blog photos of my machine, a colorful thing covering the screw that tightens or loosens the needle. Any guesses as to what it is?
I'm not making you wait long for the answer...a replaceable pencil eraser. The eraser is modified to fit over the screw on the machine. It is so much easier to grip to tighten and loosen that pesky screw. Sometimes I swear my husband put it on and gives it an extra turn. (Know that isn't true though as I doubt if he even knows where, how or when to change a sewing machine needle!)
Take an X-Acto knife or sharp scissors and cut some of the tip off.
Next cut part of the end off that is supposed to go over the pencil. You want enough left to cover the screw but not too long a piece that it interferes with the needle bar. On my machine I leave about 1/4".
Here is one eraser with both ends cut...just toss the end pieces unless you can find a good use for them.
This is what the machine needle bar looks like without the eraser on the needle screw.
This last photo shows the cut and trimmed eraser placed on the needle screw ready to use. Sure saves my hands when I am trying to get a tight screw loose to change the needle.
I have handed them out to all my friends and they love them as much as I do. I bought a package of 100 for $1 so they are very inexpensive too. I keep it on the screw all the time so it is there when I need it.
PS...Got this idea from the Yahoo chat list that I belong to. Have learned some new things about my 730 even though most of the chatting is about using the embroidery features on these machines. I didn't get the embroidery module for my machine as I am really not interested in doing it myself but love to see what others do.
Happy Quilting

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stuck with Glue

Yesterday I talked about using the Liqui Fuse and today it is show and tell on how I used the Elmer's School Glue to do the borders on this quilt. Don't be afraid to use this glue as it is completely washable even after ironing over it. Learned how to use this glue by watching the videos on Sharon Schamber's web page. She has several applications she uses the glue for and she has won top prizes on her quilts at Houston, AQS in Paducah and others so figure if it works for her I will use it too.

As you can see the finished inner red border is only about 1/4" wide and the folded inserted gold border is less than 1/8". Doing this is not as hard as you might think. To get everything nice and neat I used Elmer's School Glue with a fine tip on the glue bottle. I purchased these tips at Hobby Lobby and found them in the model dept. There were 4 tips in the package for less than $2 so thought that was a good bargain.

To use these tips you need to cut the top 1/4" off the orange part of the screw on top. Just pop the top off the bottle and cut it with a pair of scissors. (Not your good sewing scissors though!) Push the plastic glue tip inside the orange top then put the orange top back on the glue bottle. You are ready to glue with a fine line of glue now. To keep the glue from drying out I use a rubber knitting needle tip to put on the glue bottle between uses. If the glue tip gets a little dried out or if you are having trouble getting the glue to come out of the bottle just unscrew and pop the orange top off and wash it out with water. You might need to take a long needle or pin to pull out any half dried glue if it won't all wash out.

I didn't think to take photos of the different steps as I was making this the other day so made a sample and took photos as I did the borders. For me instructions are easier to understand if there are photos of the step by step process. Be prepared, there are lots of photos to go along with this tutorial!

I cut the red borders about 1 3/4" wide - much wider than needed. I like to have that extra fabric to add stability and it can be easily trimmed off after the next stitching.

I stitched the red borders on the quilt, stitching top and bottom on first then length wise strips last.
I next cut the gold fabric (will be a narrow folded piece inserted between red border and blue border.) This fabric I cut about 1 1/4" wide. It is again wider than it needs to be but is easier to handle and will be trimmed after it is stitched down.

Sprayed the strip with spray starch and pressed in half while it is still damp.

As you can see the starch holds the two sides together which is great. It also makes the strip stiffer and easier to handle. I use spray starch on almost all my fabrics to give them some body so wanted you to know the other borders and the top were starched lightly too.

I laid a ruler on the quilt at the 1/4" mark as I wanted the red border that width.
Next I put a fine line of glue about 1/8" away from the folded edge of the gold strip.
Laid the glued strip up next to the edge of the ruler.

Moved the ruler out of the way and pressed with a hot iron to dry and set the glue. (Don't worry, I used my small iron that was not plugged in for the photos as I thought I might just burn the fabric if I use the hot iron by the time I took several photos of each step)
Glued and positioned both top and bottom strips then the lengthwise strips. I keep the very ends of the lengthwise strips unglued for now.

To finish the corners of the gold strip I folded under each end of the lengthwise strips at a 45 degree angle and pressed then glued and pressed again to hold.

Now on to preparing the outside blue borders. I pressed under 1/4" along one long edge of the border pieces. I like to use this thin metal hem gadget I have had for many years. It doesn't have a 1/4" mark on it but I can eyeball estimate 1/4" and turn it over the metal and press to get a straight edge. Doesn't matter if the 1/4" is not real accurate but you do want it as straight as possible as you will see.

After the initial press over the metal gadget I removed it and pressed the 1/4" again to get a good crease.
I squeezed a thin line of the Elmer's School Glue on the turned under 1/4"
Next I laid the blue border in place - I just eyeball the amount of the gold I want to see and make all the borders the same but you could measure it like I did with the gold strips if you want. I glued top and bottom borders of the quilt on in this step.
Ironed the glued blue border to dry and set the glue. The last step is to turn the quilt over and open up the 1/4" seam allowance that was pressed under on the blue strip. Stitch in the crease - this will attach both the folded strip and the blue border to the red border. Press the borders out to check to make sure it is OK then turn to the back and trim excess fabric from the seams leaving only 1/4". I attached the lengthwise borders in the same way.
This is what it will look like on the back after the excess fabric is trimmed away.

When all 4 borders are stitched on you need to trim the outside border to the width you want to make them all the same size. (This is why you cut them wider than needed to begin with.
Do want to point out that the wild fabric under my project is to protect my ironing surface from the spray starch. I can always tell if I have the fabric down as it is hard to miss it is so bright!
Congratulations if you made it clear to the end of this blog entry. It is a long one to be sure.
Until next time....Happy Quilting

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Liqui Fuse

Did some more playing around with the Liqui Fuse product and the Elmers School Glue yesterday and made this simple wall hanging. I picked this design as there wasn't much to fuse down and I could get it done rather quickly.

I free hand embroidered the trees, hill outlines and the words with my sewing machine. Dropped the feed dogs, put on my open toed embroidery foot and followed the lines I had copied to the fabric. I went over the lines about 3 times to make them bold enough to see. Before I started stitching the lines I did put a piece of water soluble stabilizer behind the quilt which kept it all nice and flat.

The design came from this booklet by Art to Heart.

This photo shows stitching the buttonhole stitch around the different pieces of applique. You can't even see any of the Liqui Fuse after the buttonhole stitch was done but you could see it before. It looked like tiny spots soaked through the top of the fabric. I did use a very small buttonhole stitch on this quilt as these applique pieces were small but on larger applique projects I would probably make the buttonhole stitch much larger and think it would still hide any marks left by the Liqui Fuse.
I used the glue tips I purchased on Sharon Shamber's website on the top of the Liqui Fuse bottle. You can get a tiny line of the fusible using these tips. I also have purchased tips in Hobby Lobby in the model dept. Hobby Lobby tips are much cheaper by the way but they need to be inserted inside the regular glue tip on the bottle. Will show them on the next post where I will show and tell how I used the Elmer's School Glue when attaching the borders.


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