Sunday, May 30, 2010

Goose In A New York Minute, Part 2

Progress is being made, and I may have all the components completed by the time I have to go back to the office on Wednesday. I have all the pieced  borders done, with the exception of the NY Beauty blocks, which I will tackle tomorrow.

I have a good reason for the delay: we discovered a stray kitten trapped in our woodpile on Thursday evening, trapped it on Friday, got it to the vet on Saturday and have been trying to socialize the infant kitten (she's only 6 weeks old) and start to integrate her with the 2 adult resident cats. Also, my car's sunroof suffered an "attack" by an errant basketball and shattered and is now in the body shop. So some things have kept me away from the sewing machine a little more than I would have liked. And I don't have pictures of the progress so far to post, either.

I have leftover "stripes" from the Goose in Flight block; enough to make table runners or placemats or pillow shams that will coordinate with the quilt. I haven't figured out what exactly yet, but I think the table runner design from the border pattern is something I want to write up when I write up the quilt pattern.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Goose In A New York Minute, Part 1

My latest WIP is a bed quilt for our bed. We've needed a summer weight quilt for a few years now, and I finally have a chance to make something for us. I came up with this design close to 18 months ago, around the time I was working on "Hours In The Garden" because it was hard for me to let that quilt go to its owner after I finished it.

There are some similarities in this new quilt with the prior one (and actually with a number of quilts I've been designing and constructing over the past several years: they all feature the Hourglass block. I think, after this one I will be ready to move on, but we'll see. Maybe there's a book in this (grin).

"Goose in a New York Minute" was designed using three blocks: Hourglass, Flying Goose Variation, and New York Beauty. This is the design from my EQ6 program:

I'm not using this exact colorway - the pink doesn't really go with my bedroom, and it's much brighter than I wanted it to be in the final quilt. I finished piecing the center square just a few minutes ago, and the Flying Goose Variation blocks were proving a bit more challenging that I expected them to be.
I will have better photographs later on.

I'm nervous about how I'm going to tackle the NY Beauty blocks. I had printed out the block for paper piecing, but that's not going to work around the curves. I've been getting some good advice from the LiveJournal quilters and the quilters over at Quilting Board (which I just discovered on Friday). I will most likely use a freezer paper piecing technique since the slap-dash "figure it out on my own" method has not yielded fantastic results so far.

Till next time, keep on quilting!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's the little things

I never thought I could get so much satisfaction out of reorganizing my thread. I relegated all my old polyester thread to a box, because I will probably only use those threads for garment sewing and not quilting. These are all 100% cotton threads, most of which are from the Connecting Threads sale a few months ago.

I could pose these spools all day long. Stay tuned for some attempts at photographic artistry and colorful backgrounds in my blog and/or website.

Oh, and I picked up these thread spool holders at a neighbor's moving sale about 5 years back.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Giant Dahlia: A Retrospective

I seem to be in a knitting mood ever since I returned to the Wisteria sweater when I had to be backstage for a couple of day-long rehearsals. I guess these are my "production sweaters" - I made one during the Shakespeare "medley" last year, and this one is the "Arsenic & Old Lace" sweater. Since I haven't started cutting fabric for my next project (a king-sized bed quilt for us for the "warm weather"), I will show you some new photos of an old(er) quilt I finished in 2005: A Giant Dahlia quilt, using the Marti Mitchell templates with additional instructions from a Dover Giant Dahlia quilt book.

This is our "winter" quilt - the backing is flannel, and Janice put in her heaviest batting when she quilted it.

(click the photos for the full effect)

This is a king-size  bed, and I had to send it out to be quilted. Janice Jamieson did the long-arm quilting (and a beautiful job of it, too!)

And someday, I'll learn to take decent photos of my quilts...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

EQ7 has a discount for pre-ordering!

Only 58 dollars for an upgrade. I love EQ6 and I've been using it for almost all my designs, and I can't wait to try out the new version. Check it out!

And Panzi still needs more pictures for - help her out!

Cats On Quilts

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A brief interlude

I have a deadline of tomorrow for a quilt block for a  Garden State Quilters guild group quilt (for our show next year) with the theme "New Jersey, Then and Now". I whipped this up over the weekend, in just a few hours. It's only one block and fusible applique goes very quickly.

I chose for my theme the old RCA Victor logo, also called "His Master's Voice", since RCA was a huge employer in the state, and also my first real job out of college was working for RCA as an Electrical Engineer. I didn't want to do flowers (as there are a number of floral entries already), and other people have riffed on the highways and some Tomas Edison inventions. I was thinking about doing a transistor (since they were invented in New Jersey at Bell Labs), but I think very few people would "get" it these days, since it's really rare to see a discrete transistor anymore - it's all large integrated circuits these days. I also thought of (and rejected) some famous corporate logos from the past (like the old Ma Bell logo, and such). Another plus for this theme was the dog - animals are popular subjects, and Nipper is a cute terrier.

Anyway, I found this on the 'net, and I picked the artwork on the left of the second row for my sample.

and this is the finished block:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Costumes: Done! Messenger Bag: Done!

It's a strange feeling to be done with both of these projects all in the same week. I was really lucky at the thrift stores this month, and I got a lot of items that needed little to no work. I did have to spend time building the aunties' costumes and the policewomen's costumes, but I saw the uniforms on the girls yesterday for a final fitting and they looked so official! The production is having a "costume parade" tomorrow, and I'll charge my camera and take pictures.

The bargello messenger bag is done, and I'll be handing it over to its recipient shortly. I will be posting instructions for the parts I documented with the camera - not sure if I'm going to write them up as formal instructions for download or just blog about it yet - I guess it will depend on what my spare time looks like over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, here is the bargello fabric after piecing

and after quilting

and after putting the bag together.


The solid brown bits are leather, and this was the first time I've really attempted to sew finished leather on my machine (I've attempted suede and deerskin with poor results in the past). My Husqvarna machine worked like a champ, even through 6 layers of leather. I have some sharp new leather needles and I went slowly, and I think that made a big difference.

If I were making another one, I would construct it in a different order to make my life easier. When you are making a bag with inner sections (a lining that also acts as a 3-pocket separator), it's best to build everything and then sew the sides up all at once and together. I didn't do this bag that way.

My next project on deck is to (finally) make a new bed quilt for our new bedroom. I've only had the design done 14 months ago, and the fabric for only a year! (and our bedroom was finished 3 months ago, and this was supposed to be our summer quilt, and summer's here early!) The fabric's been washed and ironed for at least 2 months now....

Till next time, keep on quilting!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Quilting Magazine's Unsolicited DVD Review

I subscribe to two print quilting magazines at this moment; Quilt and Quilting (probably because I got them confused when filling out the cards). I have been pretty happy with both of them (The latest Quilt contained a bag pattern that I'm modifying for a commissioned bag I'm working on, and was a very timely arrival).

What I didn't expect to get in the mail last week was an unsolicited DVD from them - the first DVD in a series called Inspire - Design - Create - Quilting DVD Collection. I get annoyed with stuff like this - if I don't return the DVD, I'll get billed 12.95 for it and they'll ship me MORE DVDs that I didn't ask for. I suppose that I could keep it and not pay, utilizing the same legal strategy that almost bankrupted the Musical Heritage Society (and caused them to re-think their scheme of sending out vinyl records and hoping people are honest enough to pay for them), but I am a grown up now, and I'm not going to do that.

I did pop it in the DVD player in my sewing room today and watched it as I was ripping seams, hemming pants and skirts and resetting zippers (I'm still in costume mode  for a high school production of Arsenic & Old Lace - I have 4 more skirts to make, but they will have to wait till tomorrow after a trip to the fabric store, since my stash doesn't include navy wool suiting any more). The DVD contained 8 segments, and 3 free PDF patterns.

Segment 1, Color Inspirations: Introduction to the Color Wheel - This was a very basic lesson in color, with one interesting tip: using a kaleidoscope viewer (without any color chips in it) as a way to audition fabrics together. I'll have to try that (yes, I own a small collection of kaleidoscopes - I think they are fabulous).

Segment 2, Reaching Out: Organizing and Participating in Exchanges was a nice introduction to various swaps from charm square to block-of-the-month, and good for people who don't have active and experienced guilds in their locality.

Segment 3, Tool Center: Using Your Rotary Tools to Create Templates presented some nice ideas for how to cut both symmetric and asymmetrical shapes, and this segment was actually useful to me, and showed me something I hadn't seen or thought of before.

Segment 4: Try Something New: English Paper Piecing explained in detail how to go about doing this, and maybe someday in the fullness of time, I might.

Segment 5: Fun & Fanciful: Fussy Cutting explained about various things to be fussy about and showed some lovely quilts as examples. I did figure out striped bindings on my own, though, and I learned about the kaleidoscope effect of cutting identical pieces from a striped fabric from an episode of Simply Quilts a while back (and I even bought the hinged mirrors from Marti Mitchell to preview the cuts).

Segment 6: Techniques Revealed: Stenciling with Shiva Paintsticks had a demonstration of stencil making and using the paint sticks on fabric to make a block, and also some stunning examples of finished quilts. I found this segment most intriguing because I had seen the sticks at the last show I attended but I was dubious about using paint that is in paste form. I'm not convinced yet, but I feel a lot more informed about this method of surface embellishment. Personally, I still have a lot of Tsukeniko ink to work with, and I'm not ready to move on to oil paint just yet. The inks are more forgiving - you can completely wash them out until you heat set them, so you can fix mistakes (a big plus with me!), and they act like watercolors rather than oil paints, which permit you to use a lot of watercolor painting techniques on fabric.

Segment 7: Design Workshop: Free Motion Quilting was a good beginner introduction to free motion quilting with some nice examples. I would have really loved this segment if I hadn't taken a workshop in free motion quilting at a quilt show last summer.

Segment 8: Shop Talk Thread Tension Troubleshooting: this might have been my favorite segment in the entire DVD. I was amused that the only man on the DVD was the sewing machine repair person, but I was fascinated with his explanation of how a sewing machine works, and the fact that he used a Singer Featherweight to illustrate the thread pathways was also really interesting to a technology geek like me.

I forgot to check out the free pattern PDF files before I packaged the DVD up for return. The patterns are cute, from the photos I saw on the menu.

I am not keeping the DVD for myself, for budget reasons - I already bought a quilt book online this week, and things are generally tight - and I don't want to get into a subscription thing with a 13.00/month price tag on it. The DVDs are very good for people starting out and who don't have access to live workshops or guilds where there are quilters who are willing to share their knowledge, but for advanced quilters, I don't think it's really worth it. I'd rather take the 156 dollars a year's worth of these DVDs would cost me and pay for a few workshops.

If you haven't seen the Cats on Quilts blog, please do - and if you have a photo of your pet helping you with a quilt project, please send it in!

Till next week, keep on quilting!