Thursday, January 24, 2013

12 Blocks Done (5 Today)

Today I stepped off the grid for a minute and tried a little outlining on an applique block. Not sure if I should stitch on the very edge of the applique or just off of it. I'll have to do a little research, so until then, I stepped back on the grid.

I also learned that you've got to pay attention when doing freemotion straight lines, even if you have drawn those lines on the top. Once I had to rip twice in one grid block I decided to fold it up and put it away for the night.

Tomorrow is the hubs' birthday. It's supposed to snow a bit tomorrow evening so I think we'll postpone going out for a birthday dinner to Saturday night (meaning I'm going to have to whip something special up at home). I've got a birthday gift I think he's really going to like (it's sort of Tucker-themed).

Hopefully I can finish another 12 blocks over the weekend and not run out of thread. I'm using a 40wt Aurifil that is not carried at the local quilt shops. Fortunately, I found a spool for sale on eBay this afternoon and ordered it. I need to start a list of what I need and either place an order online or plan to buy at the upcoming Lancaster Quilt Show. (Though I think it's cheaper from Red Rock Threads).

What's your go-to quilt thread brand and weight?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

7 Blocks Down, 42 to Go

It's in progress, and it's slow going. I'm not really sure how to avoid all the over-stitching. Do I outline first and then do the grid, or do I not outline and overstitch where necessary while doing the grid? I started that way but I found I was leaving an inch here and there unquilted.


It's really confusing when I'm working on those multi patch blocks with diagonals and little four-patches. I did a couple of those and decided to just go through the quilt and knock out the diagonal grid squares.

This is also the first quilt that I've buried threads on, and I'm doing that on both sides whenever I cut a thread (the Quilt Police would be proud).

3 blocks last night, 4 blocks tonight...should be finished in a couple of weeks.

Goodnight! It's obscenely cold outside, so I'm going to snuggle into bed with some quilty reading, 1 warm hubs and 2 warm, furry pups.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Let the Labor of Love Begin! (Tuille Stencil Tutorial)

After finishing up the 84" long back-art strip from Vintage Rouge's many tiny scraps, and piecing the quilt back together, I spent a bit of time last week thumbing through my free-motion quilting resources. This is the first quilt I'm obsessing over, so I really want to do it right. It's also one of the largest quilts I've attempted, so I'm trying to make it as painless a task as possible.

Instead of winging it and winding up willy nilly meandering once it's under the quilting foot, I decided to actually mark the top with quilting lines. Having studied up on that, and the various ways to achieve this task, I felt it best to use a water-soluble blue marker for the bulk of the marking. Off I went to JoAnn Fabric yesterday to purchase a handful of water soluble pens and pencils.

Wouldn't you know that the one I'd like best, that wrote the smoothest was a thicker tip marker, not a fine point, and of course, wouldn't you know I only bought one of those (I bought three of the fine points). C'est la vie.. No matter, I gave them all a workout drawing 45 degree lines for gridding. (Who knew that this little task would eat up more than 4 hours of a Saturday night!) I found the fine tip ones dragged on the fabric and sometimes needed multiple strokes per line. And every pen seemed to need a rest after each block, so having multiples on hand is the way to go. Switch them out when they start to become light and dry--they will rejuvenate themselves.

When I was done with all the 45 degree angle work,  I did a little 'outlining' in preparation for echo quilting around the applique.

And then, not confident in my own freehand drawing skills, I hit the books for stenciling advice.

I do have a quilt pounce that I've used once before on a hard plastic stencil and it worked pretty good, but you can't use it on an un-sandwiched quilt top because the chalk will rub off while you're pinning, and anyway, I don't own a stencil that would work on this quilt, so that wasn't an option.

So I was forced to learn a new technique....tulle stenciling.

First you draw or trace a design you want to use. Use a colored marker for this. (you'll find out why a bit later)

Next, cut a square of tulle the size of the block you want to quilt. Tape the tulle to your desk at each corner.

Slide your design between the tulle and your desk.

Measure to be sure that you are centering your design underneath the square of tulle. Once you've got it centered, tape the edge of the paper down so it doesn't slide around.

Take a black Sharpie (or other marker) and trace your design on to the tulle. Because you used a colored marker on the paper, it will be easy to see that you are covering the design lines on the tulle. You will need to lay your hand on the tulle to keep it from slipping around while tracing. And, most importantly, DON'T LOOK AT THE TULLE to see if your design is inking....LOOK AT THE PAPER. If the colored lines on the paper are now black, there is ink on the tulle. No worries!

As you can see, it's going to be a lighter design on the tulle. Doesn't matter. For what we're doing, it is fine. You won't get a thick line on the tulle because it's full of little holes that the ink drops out of :).

Run your iron over it to set the marker. While this may not be entirely necessary, you don't want to take any chances transferring Sharpie to your quilt top. Oh, and put the Sharpie away--now.

Pin the tulle to the block you want to transfer the design to. You won't need to worry about centering if you cut the tulle to the block size to begin with, and you used your ruler to center the design you traced onto the tulle. Pin it as close to the design as you can. You can even pin through the design elements you aren't tracing at the moment.

Then take your water soluble blue marker and draw over the permanent marker lines on the tulle.

Lift off the tulle and you've now transferred your quilt pattern directly onto your quilt top.

If you like, draw in some additional quilting lines to follow, or as a guide.

Painless freemotion quilt design.. No drawing and cutting plastic stencils, no stitching through Golden Threads or exam table paper from the doctor's office. No chalk lines rubbed off by your gloves.

Pretty quick, and most definitely the easiest way to create a stencil that I've ever tried.

Be sure that you not leave your quilt out in the sun or decide to iron the top now that it's marked--this may permanently set these lines. And don't leave it in a humid place your water soluble ink may disappear. Commence to getting that baby sandwiched and under the quilting foot as soon as possible after marking.

I'll be sandwiching my marked Vintage Rouge tomorrow. Maybe you've a day off tomorrow too. If so, I hope you're able to enjoy some quality time with your sewing machine.

Have fun!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Online Shopping Review - Hancock's of Paducah

I'm an avid online shopper. No one favorite shop--I like to spread my money around. I thought you might like to take advantage of my shopping experience this year to help you choose where you'll spend your mad fabric money.

Let's start with Hancocks of Paducah, as that was my first online shop of 2013.

I know that people RAVE about this shop when they go to the Paducah quilt show. Never been to the shop, but I'm pretty lukewarm on the online company.

To begin, I did have a question when I started out, and that was do they ever offer free shipping codes (after I saw how much their shipping was), and would there be one offered anytime soon. Okay, yes, I did search for internet coupons (nothing worked), and I do know that you can email most every other retailer and they will reduce or waive the shipping charge in order to gain a new customer, so it was worth a try. Waste of time...literally. I sent them an email on January 3rd and it wasn't answered until January 7th, and the answer was just a short 'no, we don't have any free shipping codes or offers at this time'.

I'm not a fan of their shipping charges. They're based on the amount you spend. A $30 order will cost $7.95 to ship...that's just about a 26% upcharge. I found myself adding another $19 to my order  to get the most mileage out of that charge (i.e., orders between $30 and $50 ship for that same $7.95), and then the lightbulb went on that told me that what I was doing was probably what H of P expected me to be doing with this shipping methodology--duh!, so I deleted all the extra stuff out of my cart and told myself to just order for what I started out with. Of course, in the end, I did add unnecessary fabric to my order. I just couldn't get away from the notion that I had to be at the top of the range to make the shipping appear more palatable. (I'm a fool, I know)

I placed the order on January 7th. Today is January 14th, and I have yet to receive my order. I did receive an email on January 9th advising me that one of the items was backordered. (Okay, no said right on the website where I ordered it that the item was a pre-order, so no big revelation there, though I'm confused with it being called a back-order with a note that if it doesn't come back in it will be cancelled. Was their website listing incorrect?)
As I've received no shipping confirmation, I went online to check on my order status. On their website it says the order shipped today, but the link to the tracking number assigned to it shows that it is not in Fed Ex's system yet, so maybe it was packed but it's most definitely not 'shipped'. (or labeled or scanned for FedEx).

I live in Maryland--not that far away, so considering I can get UPS shipments from other farther away shops in 2-3 days ground shipping, one can only hope my order arrives by Friday....2 weeks and 2 days after I began the order process (with my question).

Bottom line...if you don't want to wait days for a response from customer service...if you don't want to wait 2 weeks for your order to arrive....and if you don't want to spend almost 30% of what you spent on fabric to ship it 2 states away, then you probably don't want to order from Hancocks of Paducah.

It's nice they have such a comprehensive catalog that they will send you, but I'm used to dealing with dozens of other online fabric sellers that are responsive, ship the day the order comes in, and ship for free. While Hancock's of Paducah's claim to fame is as a great walk in store if you're at the Paducah AQS show, they've got nothing going for them in the online sales arena,

While I can't say that I won't ever order from them again, I will say that they're no longer on my 'short list'. A free shipping code, a great sale price, and not caring if it takes 3 weeks to receive an order could convince me to give them another try, but for now, there are far too many online fabric sellers out there jockeying for customers to make me want to give Hancocks of Paducah a second chance.

How do I rate Hancocks of Paducah?

Friday, January 11, 2013

What's In Your Closet?

Last week I decided to take a step back and assess the stash. Bear in mind that like most of us I'm near finishing a few things, I'm in the middle of a few things, I've also started a few things...and there's projects where I've gathered the fabrics and the pattern or book into a basket so it's waiting in the wings...and then there's THE STASH.
A quick look shows me that I could most likely occupy myself for the next 3 or 4 years without leaving the house, or logging on to the Internet. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
This past fall I gathered all my Kaffe Fassett polka dots and matched them up with Kona solids, using my swatch chart.  There's at least a FQ of each (the stack in the center are yard cuts of 'extra' solids).  There's 42 pairs of print and solid stacked. Two quilts?

Now this is a miscellaneous stack of yardage. That black/white/red/gray piece on the right is about 6 yards and it's for one of those one block wonder quilts where the print used becomes unrecognizable in the quilt. I was hoping to take a class and it was cancelled, so I picked up the book and I'm on my own...hopefully the book won't be all yellowed and crumbly and antique by the time I get around to it.

The pretty blue stack on the top left is Timeless Treasures Peacock. They had a challenge using this last year (okay, you caught me, that's how I justified the purchase to the hubs). It's stunning, so I bought enough to make a quilt when I was in Florida last January.  The other fabrics belong to the 2 Baltimore quilts that are unfinished, and the not yet begun Day of the Dead quilt (again, enough fabric for 2 of those).

Who didn't want to make a Red and White quilt after the Infinite Variety exhibit in New York the year before last.  Half yard stack, with a couple more to add to it arriving soon. Having just seen the red/white Dear Jane quilt I'm almost tempted to now start collecting small scale, mostly red prints. (Oh yeah, did I mention the Dear Jane quilt that's been on the To Do list for the past 4 years?)

Okay, so sue daughter's favorite bedtime story (or more like our favorite story to read to her) was Goodnight Moon. So when they made a line of fabric for this theme, of course I bought one of every fabric (justification: possible future grandchild). And then when they came out with an added 'Goodnight Bunny' line to add to this line, who do you think ordered one of each of those (on sale, last week). Considering the finished size of a  baby/toddler daughter had best consider having triplets or buying a king size bed once said future grandchild is out of the crib.

A sucker for French General (and anything Moda), L'ecole was my latest acquisition from that designer. I likely found it desirable as it is one of the few French words I remember from my elementary school French classes. I now tell myself that I can't buy another French General fabric until I create something with the French General I already have. So far, so good.

Okay, when was it I was sent to Hawaii for work? 2009? 2010? The road to Hell is most certainly paved with good intentions. That's major yardage of Hawaiian print tropical cotton. I will always remember the euphoria experienced when I stepped into that fabric shop and found myself in a forest of fabric...hundreds of rolls of fabric as tall as I, that I couldn't even lift out of their stands to take to the cutting table (there were men in the shop whose job it was to be fabric bearers). The three on the bottom were meant to be a summer bed quilt. The three on the top were purses/totes. Aloha.

The Halloween before last I won an online quilt contest for my Halloween quilt and received this fabulous stack of Moda batik FQs for my prize.  I think there are something like 42 of them. For all this time I've considered them too yummy to cut into. It's FQ stacks like this that can lead a girl on a path to Hoarders.

 I call this a 'Fear Stack'. I've got a few of these in my stash...fabric I'm afraid to use. These are gen-u-wine French fabrics purchased at Quilt Festival Houston the year I went (2009? Oh gosh...that's so long ago, I need to go again). Cost? Quite spendy--French cotton is the Lexus of fabric. I tend to not want to use fabric like this until I've convinced myself that I am worthy. While that finally  happened with the stack of South African Indigo last fall (and is still happening if you know what I mean)...


 Sadly, French fabric stack needs to cool it's jets a bit longer until I've got some confidence in putting those colors together.

Aboriginal Australian prints. Yet another color challenge.

That's a fair sampling of what's in my studio. Maybe you'll see some of these fabrics this year, or maybe you'll see something else (Day of the Dead....Doggy Quilt (yes, I said Dog---puppy prints justified with the intention of making a quilt to toss on the couch for the dogs...but  before I could start on that project, I needed a new couch to protect with a quilt...which we got months ago...hmmm....I think I've run out of excuses for that one).

Maybe next we'll actually break out the Kaffe Fassett stash that keeps getting larger every time look at it. Makes me wonder what goes on behind closed box lids.

I took a couple classes with Gyleen Fitzgerald this past summer. She does a hilarious rant about using all those fabrics we've been stashing because if we don't, when we die or our kids put us in 'the home', our family is going to sell our stash for 25c a piece at a yard sale.  Like that box of Kaffe above....the hubs would probably slap a $2 price tag on it....$1 for the box, and $1 for the fabric inside it. Oh Lord, something tells me I need to be spending a lot more time in the studio  than I have been.

Which brings me to the question of the day... what's in your closet, and how do you feel about it?

We Have a Winner!

Okay, so that took me an hour to figure out how to get that picture in this post (and it will likely take me another hour when I want to do it again :)

Congratulations Gene! I'll contact you off-list for your mailing address.
Stay tuned, as I will be giving away another one of these snowman pincushions soon, as well as some Valentine hearts.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Last Chance to Win the Snowman Pincushion

Be sure to navigate down to the original contest post below and leave a comment for your chance to win. Entries close at midnight tonight.

While I am chomping at the bit to start quilting Vintage Rouge....especially after I borrowed a quilting book from our Guild Library on Monday and in reading, finally had the bright idea to see if my chair could be adjusted higher so that I was at the right height to wrangle that big baby through my domestic machine---SURPRISE! It does. (Where has my head been for the past couple of years?).....

.....I decided to spend a couple of hours and play cut and fuse catch-up with my wool applique banner-a-month project. As you can see, I'm three months behind (December/January/February). Actually, I'm FOUR months behind because while I'm done stitching November, I haven't blanket stitched around it after I fused the backing and the sleeve to it.

At any rate, I've now got some hands stitching to grab if I decide to hang out with the hubs on the couch...which is not going to be happening's 7:30 and while I've been up here prepping those banners, it has not occurred to him to start dinner. What has occurred to him was to come home from work, slip into his 'loungewear' and plant his ass on the couch and watch whatever violent shoot-em-up, cut-em-up, murder people TV show he most recently added to the collection on the DVR. Fortunately, he has yet to pop his head into the studio asking when I'm planning to fix dinner. Maybe it was the 47 pair of scissors and rotary cutters I had laid out on the cutting table when he last walked by.

The studio is in full bloom today. Even the Christmas Cactus (second from the left) has decided to bloom, albeit a bit late this year. Can't complain. And this weekend our temps are going to be in the 60s, and almost 70 on Sunday. Beats the heck out of snow, and while I know we can't expect Spring in January, I will definitely be out in the driveway in my flip flops washing my wheels this weekend. A worthy project to back-burner Vintage Rouge for.

Not a lot of progress on the undecorating..though I did rid the studio of Christmas. I blew out the vacuum trying to suck up a bag of fake snow last week. Wanting instant gratification I ordered a vacuum online. Who knew that it was going to be shipped from the West Coast and take a week to arrive.

It's scheduled to appear tomorrow, so I can finally return the house to some semblance of 'clean'. The rest of the trees, flocked and snowed on, will be cleaned up after with the shop vac, when I finally get around to undecorating them. I'm thinking I should set a goal of undecorating the remaining trees when we have a snow day.....that would most definitely insure that we would NOT have a snow day this winter. Hmmm......

Anyway, let's just hope the vacuum delivery doesn't get left out on the porch when the Hancocks of Paducah delivery arrives first and I quit watching for the FedEx guy to arrive.

Check back tomorrow for our pincushion winner. Project Runway is on tonight, so I'll be piddling around in the studio glued to the set for the rest of the night (though I may need to run out to McDonalds to grab a bite to eat....I don't hear any activity in the kitchen.....sigh).

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pincushion Giveaway Reminder

No sewing projects completed, just dropping in to remind you that you've still got a couple of days to enter the giveaway for that oh so cute snowman pincushion. Just leave a comment on the post before this one and he might be winging his way to your house soon.

As much as I'd like to be quilting Vintage Rouge right now, I've got a house full of Christmas trees and decorations that need to be put away. Because recycling comes Wednesday, the fresh tree became the number one priority and it came down today. The rest are all artificial trees, so it's going to be really easy to ignore them until Spring, if need be. (kidding!).

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Now Let's Get Down to Business With a Giveaway!

Thanks for the welcome back comments. It is good to be back, and in the spirit of staying on top of my resolution to blog often/quilt often, here I am.

Today, I veered off the path just a bit and decided to finish the last Baltimore block I have been carrying around in my hand sewing kit.

All that's left is an appropriately fabulous center block. I had one, but it's been relegated to back art block. It's just not to scale with the other 12 blocks.. Oh well. Maybe we'll see a finish on the Baltimore Album this year. Not ruling it out yet.

I'm sure you all remember how much I love pincushions.

This was my find for a winter pincushion last year. He made working in the studio a pleasant task.
My sister got me a Voodoo Child doll for Christmas. Of course, my first thought was to use it as a pincushion. But then it dawned on me that there's a reason you stick pins in a voodoo doll. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but I honestly wouldn't want to hurt anyone so I just can't bring myself to put any pins in this. Call me crazy (but call me maybe).
So yesterday I was out on my annual 'troll the local garden centers for discount Christmas stuff' excursion and look what I found!
A NEW WINTER PINCUSHION!! Do you love him?
And look what I found in a shopping bag in my studio closet...more great pincushions!
That snowman on the top of the heap looks sooo, sooo sad, don't you think? I think he needs a new winter home with a quilter who will lovingly use him on their sewing table.

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win him.
  1. Post a link to my blog post on your blog for an extra chance, and ask your reader to mention your blog in their comment. If the winning post mentions you, I'll send you one of those felted heart pincushions you see in the photo.
Contest will end at midnight my time on January 10th. Random selection of a post, so be sure that if your post doesn't link to your blog or your email that you include your email in your comment. You can't win if I can't contact you.

Good luck!