30 May 2015

In Which I Plan To Sew Clothes

I learned to sew clothes at about 9 years old and I continued to make clothes into my late teens, but after the quilting bug bit my interest in making clothing fell by the wayside.

Currently I am nearly finished with another bed quilt and I am working on a hand applique quilt as well as not one,but two, English Paper Pieced projects. 

Hold onto your hats.....watching show, "The Great British Sewing Bee", on YouTube as I sew has rekindled my desire to stitch up some tops..at the very least. As I began to sort through patterns that I have on hand and consider a new one or two I started to think about patterns themselves.....oh! How I dislike tissue paper patterns! Usually, if it is a pattern that I think I will make more than once I transfer the tissue pattern onto Pellon Decor Bond. It makes them so much easier to manage! Even if I transfer patterns I still generally make at least one of whatever from a tissue pattern before I decide to commit to transferring it to the Decor Bond (though I have just fused the pattern and then cut them both out at once). I remembered that I had been thinking about getting some pattern weight for many years, but I also recalled thinking that they are way too expensive for little ole weights.

I started to look on the web and found this cute little pattern on the blog" TeaRose Home".http://tearosehome.blogspot.com/2012/12/tutorial-pattern-weight-with-free-pdf.html. She offers the simple wee pattern as a PDF for free. These little triangles are super quick to make...just a few minutes.....and they use up scraps!
At first I filled them with rice, then I tried using beans. Neither of those gave me the heft that I wanted. Then I hit on the idea of using steel buckshot. I used some batting to hold the shot in place and to stuff the tips a bit and then I added the buckshot they were now the perfect weight to hold those darn tissue patterns ( or any pattern) firmly and  easily.

Now, I just need to get sewing...as soon as the Wagon Wheels quilt is done...only two and half blocks to go before I can arrange the blocks and sew them together. Soon a new, or at least revisited, sewing adventure awaits. Well, at least I have the pattern weight now at any rate!

Thank you Tea Rose Home for the idea!

21 May 2015

A Few Words About Foundations and Stabilizers

First of all, forgive me if this post ends up looking a blink wonky, but I am trying again to learn to use the Blogsy blogging platform from my IPad....which I use so much now, that I wanted to try blogging from it as well.
If you have read my last post you may have noted that my current projects all benefit in part from some piecing with foundations and so I have been experimenting a bit with just a few of the available products.
Below: these spider web blocks are all made using a muslin foundation. I followed the instructions that were included with Sarah Fielke's pattern "Maple Leaf Rag" from the book, "Material Obsession 2: More Modern Quilts With Traditional Roots" by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke's.
In all honesty, I am not fond up using the muslin. No matter how "on grain" I cut it the muslin gets wonky as I sew and press (not iron). Joining all of the pieces is made both easier and more difficult with muslin. The foundation provides stability, yes, but also a bit more bulk. It is, perhaps a bit easier to line up the stripes (you have 8 sections per web to align)...but I am still really on the fence about using muslin. I have found that, for me, it is easier to simply piece longer (wider) strips and then cut to size. Of course there is never only one best, or right, way to do anything. What works best for you is what counts!
I have been working on two other projects that benefit, at least in part, by using foundations or stabilizers...sometimes those terms are quite interchangeable!
Making thee teen tiny 1.25" starbursts have been an eye opener and making them using a foundation really helps. I have tried using a paper foundation (more on that later) as well and two "leave in" foundation/stabilizers. The paper foundation works, but these tiny starbursts are further appliquéd onto a base and they that base is again cut into a circle and appliquéd onto their their final foundation fabric. Short story: they are handled a lot in the translation..
Below are the two brands, aside from paper (later again for that), that I have experimented with for this project.
right :Stable Magic from the Gadget Girls that I bought in Houston many years ago. Non- fusible.
left: Hugs and Kisses brand Applique Paper. Fusible on one side.

Both are semi-dissolvable in water.

As you can see below, the Hugs and Kisses on the left is a bit more transparent
and it is also a bit thinner than the Stable Magic.
Below is the wet test. Once again, Hugs and Kisses brand is on the left and Stable Magic is on the right.
While Stable Magic is a bit heavier and more opaque out of the package it seems to be a bit more water soluble, tears and it more easily ....but the thinner initial hand of the Hugs and Kisses compensates so that they end up being very similar products. Using no stabilizer would be easiest as far as the hand applique work goes.
I found that I slightly preferred the Hugs and Kisses Brand. I also like that one side of it is fusible which can be a great help when you are cutting out applique shapes...I do hand applique but I think that it would be a benefit to machine work as well. I am machining the starburst but am then hand appliqueing them. Hugs and Kisses Applique sheets are available from Superior Threads as well as at EQuilter.
Last, but not least...My Wagon Wheels blocks (Wagon Wheels Quilt pattern from Sandy Klop and American Jane), most definitely benefits from a paper foundation. I like using Carol Doak's brand because it tears out so cleanly and easily. There is a basic newsprint paper available through Amazon that is WAY less expensive but it is described in pound weight...which the CD brand is not. I will probably order it to try when I run out...I just want to be sure that it will work as well...otherwise I won't "reinvent the wheel "!
When I use this paper with a circular pattern like Wagon Wheels.......
When I add the outside fabric to the small, inner, curve (bottom of the photo)
I like to have the paper removed...
but when I add fabric to larger, outside curve, (not shown) I prefer that paper stays in!
Sewing the seams down close to the cutting lines (and back stitching)
helps make the paper tear cleanly and easily.

Well, let's see how this post looks...acceptable ?

19 May 2015

A Lot Of Catch Up. Photos, Quilting Etc.

La Passacaglia Rosette One
A couple of my gentle friends have prodded me for not posting on my blog lately... well, for almost a month. It's not that I do not have anything to post, it's more a matter of I always wonder if people actually read blogs anymore. I do, but it seems that more people respond to my social media posts than to my blog posts and so I always wonder. After posting a question about blogging and social media on FaceBook it does seem that many folks read blogs and so I will try to be better in the future. I seem to use my IPad now so much more than the desktop IMac .. I wish that blogging from the IPad was easier. I have Blogsy and the newer Blogger App... I need more practice to use them efficiently.

I have made sewing my new 'day job' (though I wish it brought in a bit of money too!) 

Sewing catch ups first... this is a  l-o-n-g post and is heavily photo laden. You are forewarned! This is a recap of the things that I should have blogged about earlier and include some of my recent diversions. If you follow through and read it all THANK YOU!

I have been working on not one, but two, Millefiori projects. 

These next two blocks are from the La Passacaglia Quilt pattern from Willyne Hammerstein. The pattern is from her first book called "Millefiori Quilts". Her second book on Millefiori quilts is out, but I have not splurged on it yet...maybe for my all too fast approaching birthday I will. This is an EPP (English Paper Pieced) project.
La Passacaglia Rosette Two
Below is the second Millefiori project (also EPP) that has caught my attention. I needed a colorful antidote to using my stash of reproductions! I am much further along on the blocks now...but have no current images for you. It's from "The New Hexagon" by Katja Marek (below). You must have the book to do the project as the Rosettes are made from combinations of patterns in the book. All of the paper pieces, books and acrylic templates that you might need (and want)are available from one of my favorite shops online -PaperPieces. Ask to speak to Cathy and say "hi" from me!! Both of these wonderful projects offer active FaceBook groups that provide a lot of inspiration and motivation!

Many years ago I bought this "Hearts and Hands" pattern from McCalls Magazine (below). I unearthed it, and, as if I did not have enough hand work already, I have begun to sew the blocks. I have a half dozen done now and I am enjoying them a lot. I appreciate hand applique. Stitching these blocks makes a nice counterpoint to EPP. The only place that still seems to offer this pattern for sale is at:  https://www.quiltandsewshop.com/product/Hearts-and-Hands/mccalls-quilting-patterns

My plan is to modify the pattern to suit my preferences a bit. The appliqued square blocks are trimmed into circles and are then appliqued onto another ground. I am using Kona Grellow as the yellow and will be using Moda Bella Fig Tree Cream as the main background. Once again, more blocks are now finished but I have not taken photos- so there is another blog post ready to go soon!

The pattern calls for numerous teeny tiny 1.25" starbursts (block on the right). The rest of the blocks all feature many, many curves. This is another skill builder quilt! I will never worry about curves again! I am going to try to do more applique blocks in place of some of the starbursts. I find the starburst blocks easiest to do on a foundation with a machine...the rest of the blocks will be all hand applique. I have been using Carol Doak's Foundation Paper, but am considering buying newsprint. the issue is that I know the CD brand works, but the newsprint is listed in pound weight ... and I am uncertain that it will be the same lightweight that I like. 
Making the teeny tiny starbursts.
You can see the ruler that I laid alongside one edge of the burst on the upper right
and the finished size in the upper left
Machine projects..... I plug away on my SpiderWeb blocks.
Below: I finally got my "Fractured Quilt" a la Kathy Doughty 
bound and on the bed for the first time.
it came our very large - just about a king size.

The obsession that has bumped the Spider Webs quilt a bit is "Wagon Wheels" from American Jane (Sandy Klop). I have 10 blocks finished now (of 16). This too will be a good size bed quilt. The blocks finish to 15.00" plus a delicious border that I am cooking up. I am trying to give this a more graphic look using a restricted palette of black, white, and greys plus using prints with some sort of 'writing' on them. The red in the wheels is consistent throughout as it the fussy cut red button fabric in the center. I wish I had more Marcia Derse "Black and White" prints! They have been perfect for this project.

This has also been another project where using a paper foundation has been very helpful.
I think that circles and foundation piecing are "my thing" at the moment!

I have made several of these handy needle sharpeners using a Kaffe Fassett home dec fabric filled with emery powder. They sure to help keep my needles - especially my hand sewing ones- sharp and smooth. I think that they look nicer than the typical fake red velvet ones that come with those 'tomato' pincushions!
On social media I recently shared my love for these lowly, but oh! so useful, porcupine quills. I use them in a variety of lengths for so many things! Applique, stuffing, turning points and more. They have one very sharp end and one end hat is more rounded. 
 I buy them from Etsy shops.

I had an 'orphan' scrap of embroidered felt that I wanted to use in some way. I had cut it oddly in the past to make use of a circle design, but that seriously limited how I could use it....but I did not want to just throw it away either. A needle case was he perfect answer with a vintage button added for the closure

A friend gifted me with a parasol from her great grandmother. It was silk...but the silk is almost all gone. It has thoroughly shattered away. It was probably made from leaded silk from that time. I hope to be able to re-fashion it since the mechanism still works perfectly and the spines are all in perfect shape as well. Thi is the handle that was obscured by layers of use and years of wear.  I polished it up some to bring out the chinoiserie scene. I did not want to remove all of the patina but you just would not have seen this sweet little scene without some judicious brightening. I believe that it is from the late 19th to early 20th century. Now to fnd an online class in umbrella making!

My attention has also been diverted by the gloriousness of where I live. We have had some amazing warm and sunny weather thus far this Spring. I am almost never in town when there are not too many crowds and when I can appreciate the beauty of where I live, but this particular day was stellar and uncrowded.

Our main street as you get off from the ferry.
 A few harbor shots .. also near the ferry landing

 Ice cream near the ferry too!
If you have actually gotten this far...bless you. 
If not I understand. Have a great day in your neighborhood!