Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stitching In A Wood Shop

Yesterday friends from the Midway Heritage Quilt Guild joined me for an embellishment class at my home.  We have weekly classes here for wood carvers but a stitching class was new for us.  How do you turn a wood carving shop into a place for stitchers?

 First, cover the work bench with a table cloth, add a pretty flower, and you have a buffet table for lunch.

 Lay out hand-dyed wool on a work table next to a tool box.

 Cover a marked-up table with a quilt to display colorful threads.

 Share ideas with a finished project...
 and chocolate
 Stitching sampler.....
with more chocolate

 Add friends

Result - A wonderful stitching day.

My husband was a perfect helper, setting up the room, serving and taking away lunch, making coffee, and he even scrubbed the floor.  It was fun to have a class at home and I appreciated that Dale was willing to give up a day of carving for us.  I hope to have another class soon.

Monday, April 14, 2014

One Project Finished ....... almost

After many hours of stitching fun, one project is almost finished.  "Taking Time To Smell The Flowers" is meant to be a pillow and it's finished except for the stuffing.  This is a design by my friend, Norma Whaley, of Timeless Traditions Quilts, wool applique on a wool background.

Below is Norma's pillow, and you can see I took a few tiny liberties with her design.  Norma doesn't mind as she recently finished my design, Ask-Believe-Receive and made her own changes.  I love Norma's design but just wanted to make it mine with a few "tweaks".
Taking Time To Smell The Flowers pillow by Norma Whaley

At the end of the day I enjoy sitting down and making beautiful embellishment stitches.  Here's what I did:

  • I made the bunny's ears a bit longer and added some pink inside.
  • The shape of the eye is added with a  Back Stitch using Old Lace Sheep's Silk, a dark brown wool circle with blue wool circle on top and a Straight Stitch highlight with the Sheep's Silk,
  • Painter's Threads Ribbon Floss, slightly rouched, was appliqued in place for a neck scarf.  
  • The entire rabbit was outlined with Back Stitch using the Sheep's Silk.

  • I made the berries larger and branches to the main stem are Palestrina Stitch in Silken Pearl #5, Acorn Woods.
  • Back Stitch along the main stem with Evergreens Silken Pearl #5
  • Fly Stitch along small leaves in Camoflage Silken Pearl #5
  • Large Leaves are outlined with Back Stitch.  A Back Stitch "vein" is added down the length of the leaf with Pistil Stitches added in varying lengths using Painters Thread Pearl Cotton #8, Van Gogh.
  • I changed the flower to be a single shape rather than individual petals.  The flower is outlined with a Back Stitch in Autumn Honey, Silken Pearl #5.  Woven Picots were added at the bottom of each flower using the same thread.  I moved the Picots out of the way to add Pistil Stitches in varying lengths were stitched with Granite Silken Pearl #5.  To finish, I placed a single stitch at the end of each picot to hold them in place.
  • I changed the shape of the tulip and added an outline of Bullion Knots using Hollyhocks & Hummingbirds Silken Pearl #5.
  • The center petal is created with Hollyhocks & Hummingbirds in a Chain Stitch.  I began at the point of the petal and worked from the outside in to the center.
  • Bullion Knots in Chartreause Silken Pearl #5 connect the berries to the tulip.
  • Turkey Work using Mushroom Sheep's Silk gives this bunny a fluffy tail.
  • I made the grassy area larger and using Straight Stitches in Painter's Thread Pearl Cotton #8, Monet, added some grass.
  • Along the top of the grass there are large Lazy Daisy Stitches in Monet, with Hollyhocks & Hummingbirds Straight Stitches inside.
Now, just a bit of stuffing and a label and this project should be done about 1 day before Easter...... or 11 months before decorating for next Easter! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Joy Of Being A Busy Quilter

I used to have a rule - start a project and work on it until finished, then start another one.  When I was struggling to finish a project I would buy fabric for the next and set it on the cutting table to encourage me.  No Cheating........ you have to finish one before you can start another.  This worked for many years and then I thought,
"What a stupid rule!".

That was a few months ago and now I'm happily juggling between 8 projects.  Oops, I forgot one, 9 projects, oh, forgot another one, 10 projects!  Have I totally lost my mind?  My husband, who worked in Psychiatry, said he is qualified to declare that I'm crazy..... but, I'm happy and excited too.

These are a few of my Dear Jane blocks that I worked on this past weekend.  Civil War fabrics are not my "thing" and piecing is definitely not my "thing", but I do love a beautiful quilt and apparently I also love a challenge.  I have 3 rows, or 39 blocks finished so there are "only" 186 blocks left to do.  I don't have a single piece of Civil War fabric but my friends, Teri and Norma are donating.  This is a lot of fabric so I will have to do something nice for them.


This is the original quilt make by Jane Stickle in 1863.  The Dear Jane patterns are just drawings with no instructions.  As I try to figure out each block I combine some of Jane's pieces to make it easier and applique some of the tiny ones.  I have some blocks that are entirely pieced by hand and some by machine.  As I struggle with trying to make the blocks square and the right size I think about Jane with no sewing machine, rotary cutter, steam iron, copier and a huge selection of fabric.  Do you think she had an un-picker?  I'm getting a lot of use out of mine.

I made 12 blocks and then put them away to relax my brain with some embroidery on my latest applique project.  I'm off to design some blocks and then to stitch - all with a (crazy) smile on my face.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Home From Retreat and Monkey Business

Last Monday I left home in a snowstorm (that's Spring in Utah) for the short drive to the Zermatt Resort in Midway which is just over the mountain from my home.  Of course, I can't just go "over" the mountain, but had to drive "around" the mountain, including through a brief blizzard. It was well worth the white knuckle drive to spend time with friends at this beautiful resort.

This annual retreat is sponsored by American Quilting and is a real highlight for everyone there.  Amy and her staff work countless hours to make certain we all have a great time.  We start out choosing our own personal sewing table in this beautiful room which is available 24 hours a day for the die-hard stitchers.  My latest evening was 11:00 p.m. as I was determined to reach my goal.

There is plenty of room for all our "stuff" and see those black curtains at the back of the room?  The classes are held right behind the curtain so we don't even need to pack up for class.  I taught the Bee Sweet Scissor Pull which was a perfect little project which most students finished in class.

After teaching I got busy with my own sewing projects.  I took a box of strips to sew into chevron strips that ended up 88" long - 8 of them.  Piecing is kind of like work to me and having 2 days of uninterrupted sewing time was just what I needed to get going on this project.  Someday, I will share the finished quilt.

When the strips were finished I put my sewing machine away and started to applique this cute bunny pillow designed by my friend, Norma Whaley.  Norma is a very talented designer and you can find her patterns Here.  This is my table with my bucket full of supplies, 2 coffee cups and a diet coke (to keep up my energy) and an unfinished sock monkey.

On the last day of retreat I took a sock monkey class.  Mary Lou taught the class and did a great job.  She had the most darling monkeys to show us, lots of socks to buy, and a kit that contained everything we needed.  These Sock Monkeys just make me smile and I've wanted to take a class at the past 2 retreats but always had a conflict with my own teaching.

Now this is my first one and he has a few problems.  The end of his tail looks like it got caught in a door, he has a bit of cellulite from uneven stuffing and those eyelashes give him kind of a drag-queen look.  I smile every time I look at him!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Basket Case

Here it is the finished Basket Case - and at times it almost turned me into a basket case.  As you can see, the 3 blocks I didn't like are permanently missing reducing the finished size to about 52" x 62", just the right size for taking a nap or reading a book.

For many years I only made primitive style quilts with dark colors.  My house is stacked with those quilts and I love them.  When the bright colored fabrics with bold designs started appearing in stores they were a shock to my system and I resisted them.  Really, why change out of my comfort zone?  Then slowly, I became intrigued with the color and designs and have made several bright quilts and you can see the influence of bright in my applique work.

At my age it's probably a good thing to have something bright and exciting rather than subdued and calming.

Next week I will be going to the American Quilting Retreat where I'm teaching a small project and taking a sock monkey class.  I don't know why, but those sock monkeys crack me up.  There will be plenty of time for sewing and I plan to take a few projects that need to get finished.

(p.s.  the blobs you see in the border are actually beautiful trees)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Blocks 14 and 15

 This one is my new favorite.  When I first started on this project I would select all the fabrics for each block before starting.  I quickly learned that when the small pieces were sewn together there was often a different "look" than anticipated.  For this block I began with the green and Aboriginal print on the pointy outside edge of the basket.  I really like the center piece that reminds me of a heart and the lighter pink helps to set it off.

Here it is - the last block.  On this one I appliqued a cotton handle rather than the ric-rac called for in the pattern.  This one was easy and I used another Aboriginal print for the spikes. 

Check back tomorrow for the finished quilt!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Block 12 and 13

Here is Block 13, I like the colors and it was easy to do.  I added the ric-rac on this one and my only mistake was that I wanted to have the yellow/black triangles section so the yellow was on top.  I think it would have looked better that way but it looks good enough that I didn't un-pick. 

You might be wondering, "where is Block 12?".  
Short answer - in the garbage.

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