Sunday, March 30, 2014

Home of the Brave Donation Quilt…


Here’s a not-so-good photo of my Home of the Brave donation quilt. The Home of the Brave project has a mission to honor the memories of fallen military heroes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The project does this by presenting handmade commemorative quilts to their families. Quilters from every state have joined in to make quilts in this pattern which is based on an historic quilt from the Civil War era. Our local guild members have made many of these quilts which have been presented to families throughout Florida.


This quilt was plagued with problems along the way. If it could go wrong, it did go wrong. First off, I had the blocks all pieced and top assembled so I gave it to quilting friend Debra to quilt on her long-arm machine. However, I failed to reference the pattern and did not realize I had left off the framing strips around the outside of the quilt. Debra did a great job with her quilting, but when trimming it I thought it looked odd somehow. Unable to locate my pattern, I searched online for images and right away discovered where I’d gone wrong. The problem was resolved by adding quilt-as-you-go borders which you can see in the quilt back photo above.


The problem saga was not yet done though. Again while trimming, a glint in the border caught my eye. On closer examination, I found that a flower pin had gotten left inside. So I had to slice the backing open to extract the pin, and then re-sew it closed. That’s enough problems for one project I thought. But no- I’d chosen a backing fabric with a fairly tight weave and crisp finish. I could see right away that hand sewing the binding to the back was going to be way too slow a process. It was like sewing through canvas, so I had to machine sew the binding down. At last it is done, and, as you can see, Lily the cat is drawn to it. Yes, there’s a cat under there, though only her tail is visible. The quilt is washed and ready to go now.

Despite the frustrations encountered in completing this project, I kept remembering its purpose and reminded myself of the ultimate sacrifices made by the military and their families. So with gratitude and mindfulness, I’ll donate this quilt. Would that there would be no need for making any more.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

And then there’s this guy…


So huggable! One of my goals is to teach some basic embroidery stitches like the blanket stitch, chain stitch, running stitch, and a few others to the women in a prison crafting program where I volunteer. So this fleecy monster seemed like a good project to illustrate the stitches. And the fleece is easy to work with so they can create their own monsters once they learn the stitches to embellish them. All of the projects they work on are donated to community agencies and programs. They have built up quite a list of groups that welcome donations of their handiwork.


I made the project using instructions in Sewn Toy Tales by Melly and Me. There are many cute stuffed dolls and critters in the book, and I’m sure I’ll make some of the others, too. But the free-form monster was simple with just two pattern pieces, and I started there.


I just had to add this photo of little Teddy, an 8-week-old Miniature Aussie. He belongs to quilting friend Deborah. She invited me to her sewing room to learn a Crazy Quilting method using photo transfers. That project is still not completed, but you can see that Teddy was great company while we worked. He is a true quilter’s dog as he headed right for the fabric piles. He was very well behaved in the sewing room, especially for such a young man. Adorable!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

How About This Guy?


This icon is “Copper” from The Rock Art Series of quilt patterns by Arlene Walsh Designs. I picked up the pattern and kit of materials to make it several years ago when we visited Sedona, AZ, and included a stop at the Quilter's Store Sedona (of course!) We’re planning another visit to Arizona next month, so I decided to get into the feel of area by finally making this project.


It’s another small quilt, but it’s loaded with new-to-me techniques, including a lot of beading. The head of the figure is made with a flat disc of agate surrounded by “pillars” of seed beads. Those pillars were then gathered together along the tops of the pillars. This was done to trap the agate in a cage of sorts so that it stays put. Just to be safe, I added a drop or two of Glue Baste-It under the agate. I learned the hard way to do this because I stitched the bead cage first. Then, while manipulating the layers to complete the rest of the beading, the agate popped out. Glad I was able to wrestle it back in without having to re-sew anything!


There were lots of other little details, too, like the double-sided fused feathers with bead trim. And the copper breast plate is thin copper foil that was punched, curled on the edges, and stitched in place with turquoise beads. I embossed a design in the foil using a bamboo skewer. In Arlene’s sample quilt, the wavy line was made by couching down copper wire, but copper floss was included in the kit as another option. It, too, is couched in place. I see a little tail of Nymo thread that needs to be trimmed from a feather. Tips I learned were to slightly stretch the Nymo thread before stitching with it to secure the beading and avoid stretching after. Also, the directions suggested using Thread Heaven or other silicone coating for the thread to make it slip more easily through the layers and the beads.


It was a very enjoyable project, and while I have a long way to go in making straight beading lines, I did make progress! I’ll look for more of Arlene’s patterns on this trip to Sedona so the Copper guy will have a companion piece. There must be silver, gold, maybe turquoise? You know I’ll shop for one.


And while I’m there, I plan to keep a travel journal. I’ve been playing with paper again! My daughter sent me this 1950s post card photo of Sedona back in the day. So I incorporated it on the cover of the journal. I’m also taking a lettering class online, so maybe I’ll actually write in this one. I have a bad habit of making and collecting journals, and then having nothing to say. Note to self: pack some fancy pens. 


Another habit, but not a bad one, is collecting state quilt history books. Grand Endeavors is the result of the Arizona Quilt Project. I often browse through these books, but have not sat down and read through one. But this is certainly the time. How I admire those early quilters who met such challenges in their environment, and still made time to create beautiful quilts. One intriguing story is that of Sedona Schnebly, the woman whose name is immortalized in the beautiful red rock community of Sedona. I felt like a real cream puff after learning the hardships she and her family faced in settling in Arizona. So I’m inspired and ready for travel!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Happy Daisy…


Phew.. it’s been nearly a month since I posted last. I’ve been doing some sewing and crafting, but not much since I got hit with the stomach bug that was making the rounds. It seemed to take a very long time to get my strength and energy back from it. But I’m doing well now, and getting some projects completed. This little quilt resulted from a class with Sue Cleveland of Pieces Be With You. Her Happy Daisy class focused on applique and quilting using heavy-weight threads, along with embellishing, prairie points, and uniquely shaped projects. It’s little- about 9” x 12”- and oh, so cute!


Sue concentrates on even the smallest of details like adding decorative stitches to the prairie points, shown here. And the Big Stitch quilted lines are worked in two strands of 12 wt. cotton sewing thread. So there’s lots happening in just a small space.


I’ve certainly made prairie points before, and they’re simple enough to do without a special tool. But I admit to being a gadget collector, so this Prairie Pointer called my name. It makes an easy task even easier by maintaining the perfect triangular shape and the point. And how about the little wool felt balls? Sue adds them and a couple of beads to the points to further embellish! Well, I thought I also needed a package of those.


Sue is the author of "Precision & Panache" in which she outlines her favorite methods, including her popular Piping Hot Curves and binding. There were 20 of us in the class, and several had their class projects for show-and-tell at guild recently. It’s always fun to see how the same project looks with various fabric and color choices. So I’m glad to be back, glad to be feeling better, and happy with the Happy Daisy!