Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This and That

I have been doing a little of this and a little of that for a few days. I can only work on stitching on white over black lines with black thread for so long before I have eye strain. I usually stop and do a little  cleaning up or go and start dinner or some thing that will give my eyes a rest. I also am inclined to do something like  reading or using the computer, neither of them give my eyes a rest.

I finally finished the machine stitching on the circles and there is a bit of hand stitching to do. There are a few areas that have  small dots or loops that I won't sew with the machine but they need more quilting. I am going to use 2 strands of white Trilobal Polyester to put one stitch  in these dots and loops. I am sure this will be visually demanding and I am going to think first about drawing these tiny things again if I plan to stitch them.
You can see here where I have stitched in the first few  little  dots and the first flower head; all the rest of the stitching is done. I  do not plan to stitch every line that I drew but some areas need to be quilted a little more to flatten them.  This is enlarged many times. Those little flower heads are barely 1/4 inch. I can go back  and fix the  places where I  didn't quite hit the line with my machine stitching by filling in with  fine (.01) Pigma pen.

Yesterday I moved my machine back  to the other side of the room and put things in order and then promptly made chaos out of order again. I  decided to work on a couple of houses and dragged out many boxes of  fabric, many of them filled with scraps and smallish pieces. I never remember just how long it takes me to do something improvisational. I agonize over every fabric choice and I dig through all the boxes to find something I had in my hand "just a minute ago". In the end I only  had one house finished and I didn't make it wonky as I intended because I got caught up in making it the right size.
I chose my inhabitants first and made my other choices based on that. As usual I am second guessing myself. My step in front of the doorway doesn't look  like a step, (my supposed to be) tropical sky looks like snow falling, I got it all together and realized I forgot the sun and now the piece I wanted to put there doesn't fit and I am not sure I like the colors. Ah well........ it  is really OK and there are more  houses to build. In a  few weeks  I will decide  I like it after all. Sometimes I need to put a little space between the sewing of one element and what I do with the final product of my labor; by then I have forgotten what I had in mind and am able to look with fresh eyes at what I made.
LOL, sometimes what I ended up with goes in the box of unused blocks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Sampler

There is a Christmas Quilt show going on at Sew Cal Gal. I haven't been able to grab the linky button but you can click on the link and  get there from here.

 I  finally finished this sampler quilt that I started about 3 years ago when our group at church was doing a Block of the Month. I made mine in reds and greens using a  bunch of fabrics from  Block of the Month packs from a local quilt shop. I decided right away that I would not make the quilt from the shop but I bought all the packs since I had signed up. There were enough red and green fabrics in the packs that by adding a few from my stash I was able  to make a scrappy quilt. There are a lot of reproduction fabrics from the BOM packs which is nice for a traditional quilt. I decided that I would make 3 blocks every month and make 3 quilts. That didn't happen. However those blocks didn't go to waste I used 5 of them on the back of the quilt. After the 2nd month I knew I wouldn't make 3 quilts after all so I only had 6 left over blocks. The blocks are 9 inches before the red frames. 

57 x 70

 I am not sure where I will  use this one this year. I change things around from year to year. Because it is new this year I will  probably put it where the whole quilt shows.

This quilt below is the one that for the past maybe 15 years always goes on my dining room table. It is a nine patch color wash and I left the center kind of blank because I intended it for the table with a centerpiece sitting in the middle.

40 x 40
I got out some of my Christmas quilts yesterday. Looking over my Picassa web album I am remembering many more quilts that I made for Christmas and have given away. I still have a bunch that I kept, probably too many.
I haven't taken the bundle of Christmas quilts down from my closet shelf yet but by the end of this week I will be taking out all my Christmas quilts and  Christmas dishes and they will be out until January 1. I will be showing more of my Christmas quilts in the days to come.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Moving to the light

There is nothing like natural light when I need to really see what I am doing; so I moved my sewing machine in front of the window so I can  see the lines on the zentangle inspired applique I am working on. This is a setup that doesn't work all the time but short term it is OK. This time of year the sun does not shine directly in the window so I have nice bright light but not sun in my eyes. I wish that it was easy to move my sewing table to the window when I want more light but it involves shuffling too many things around to do it often. The sun has set and the light is gone for today so I will finish this tomorrow or Monday.

Most of the time I can get by with the lamps that are on either side of my machine but I am stitching on thin black lines on white fabric with black thread and I need to see exactly where I am going. 
This is the back of what I am working on. The top is  layered with the batting and as soon as I finish stitching over the drawing I will layer this part up with the backing and quilt the background free motion. I will also quilt some  of the long lines in the drawing. This way I don't have to worry about all the stuff on the back being perfect. It is not too bad but there are a few snarls and knots from all the stops and starts. I said this was not a practice piece but I am learning from it anyway.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


Beth over at Love Laugh Quilt  Is having another house block party. Make one house and send it to Beth and you might win  a set of the house blocks to make a quilt.                                                   
This house on the left is the house block I made last year.

Those of us who didn't win a set of blocks got a consolation prize, a small square with a printed house on it. Below is what I did with mine.

I need to make a house  block for our Block of the Month block for our group at church. It is our last block and I thought it would be a good exercise for everyone to improvise and make their our block. I will just make 2 blocks while I have all the scraps out and am in the house building mind set. I really do like to make houses.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A little progress

I made a little progress  today. I realized that it is almost time to bring out the Christmas dishes and quilts and I have a new Christmas quilt that was not quite finished . I needed to finish the big stitch quilting on these two blocks; that's all that was needed .
 This quilt has been sitting since August, all done, binding and all, waiting for this little bit of hand work. You can see the whole quilt here.

Yesterday I finished up my black and white  9 patch color wash background and fused the edges of the 3 circle doodle to the background. I still need to cut away the background from behind the doodle because all the seams, especially the intersections, create a problem with the stitching. I have to go out and get some Warm and Natural batting; that is the only batting I like for wall hangings.

This will be the largest doodle  that I have quilted and it will take some  time. I don't stitch on every line but most of them will be quilting lines. Up to now every one that I have done I have considered an experiment but I have experimented with several different ways of doing things and this one is not an experiment; it is the real deal.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Black and white colorwash

I have been working on the black and white nine patch color wash background for my circles. It has been slow going. I thought I had it all worked out in my mind and also a chart for cutting but there are always changes long the way when I get the blocks up on the design wall.
This is what is up on my design wall right now. I am moving into the gray area and I may have to shop for some transition fabric or I may work out another solution after I make the next 2 or three sets of blocks. I am not sure about the last set; they have kind of a milky look in the photo but blend a little better in real fabric. I can judge better after I get the next set of blocks made. 

 This is my little pile of rejects; once I got them up on the wall I could see that they didn't work. Some of the blocks are the same combination of fabrics as some I used but they have the darker and lighter fabric in the opposite position  in the blocks. I  had thought I would use each combination of fabrics in two diagonal rows across. I changed my mind because I wasn't moving toward the gray (or blended) area soon enough. These are 3 inch blocks and this will  not be a huge quilt.
I  can see that I will have enough blocks to make a  smaller background square and maybe set one of my small circles on it. I can use it to practice what I think I want to do for the larger piece. I am still not sure how I want to go about it.

I think I need to  take a break  and clean up my work area. I spent 30 minutes yesterday looking for 2 blocks that I knew I had made. I knew I had cut my strips to make 8 blocks and I had only six. I was read to cut some more strips for 2 more blocks and found them sitting under the heel of my iron. The was only one of the times I had to stop everything and look  for something. It is no  wonder that this is going so slowly; between searching and  agonizing over every fabric combination I am spending wasting a lot of time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some nine patch colorwash, again

I spent a few days with  the cloth drawing of the 3 circles rolling around in my mind. I knew I wanted to do something different with it than just put a frame around it and quilt it. It is kind of a cockeyed photo because I didn't want to climb up on a ladder to take it down (and more  trouble yet, to put it back up straight); so I held my camera up over my head. It really is nice and square.

I made this  quilt  a few years ago. It is a nine patch color wash that was an experiment in luminosity that didn't show the luminosity the way I wanted but I liked it and added the applique and it hangs on the wall in my sewing  room. I made 9 patch blocks using the darkest and lightest 2 fabrics, then the next darkest and next lightest etc and  layed them out in a  diagonal pattern across the quilt. When I got to the bottom left corner the fabrics had very little  contrast and blended together.

I am going to make a similar background for the 3 circles. I dug around in my black and white fabrics and in my box of assorted mess leftover black and white strips and squares. This is what I sorted out to use. I will press them first, of course. I may shop for some white with black to make a smoother transition in the middle of the lights. I'll see how it looks when I get to the 3rd and 4th fabric combinations. Nine patch colorwash is much more forgiving than  using just squares.



I spent a lot of time yesterday working it out in Electric Quilt and making a chart to figure out how many strips of each fabric I need. I do this all the time; when I was teaching colorwash  and nine patch colorwash I had a chart for  everything. I am not sure whether anyone else ever thought they were useful but it saves me from starting something and not having enough to finish. Of course that still happens when I change my mind halfway through. That happens a lot because when I see it in real fabric I see other options. A chart also helps to show the finished size; colorwash quilts shrink dramaticly when you start  stitching the pieces together.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Playing with Circles

I see it is a long time since my last post. I have not been quilting (but I have been thinking about it.) I have been tangling in circles. These are 3 small ones on white fabric. The 2 larger ones are about 5 1/2 inches and the small one is about 4 inches. I have also done a lot of web surfing and a lot of practicing on paper and I have learned some new things. I do a lot of practicing on paper before I draw on the fabric with ink but even so my lines don't always go where I intend.

This is one that I drew  on canvas and it was more difficult to draw on than I expected. The roughness of the canvas took my lines in unexpected directions sometime. I experimented with different pens also and some of my lines are a good bit heavier than what I really wanted.   When you draw with permanent ink "it is what it is." I think I will just frame it with a cheap simple black frame and hang it in my sewing room. there will be no sewing on this one.

I worked on this one on the right all week.  Each of these circles is 8 1/2 inches. I would have to stop and rest my eyes every so often. It is better not to draw lines when you have eye strain and start to see double. I often had to stop and think about what I  wanted to do next before moving on to another section. 
I will be quilting it after I make the background for it. I will applique it (machine applique) and then quilt it.  

I did  some shopping around this week for pens and tools that might be helpful. I have a set of my husbands old drafting compasses but I found these precision instruments much more helpful, when using a pen. I like the glass Crockpot lid in particular because it is glass and I can see through it. If you look closely you can see the refection of my hands and arms as I am holding the camera above my precision instruments.