Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pretty Girl - Birthday Baby

 Today is Ginger's birthday. She's 14.

You may think I'm making a big deal over "a cat", but Gin has given me unconditional love all her life. She has seen me through lonely years as a military wife, a divorce, uncertainty, heartache, depression.

In exchange for fresh food, a cozy pillow, and periodic treats, she loves me and accepts me for who I am.

Most days, I think many people can learn from her example.

Happy Birthday!

Half-Triangle Tip

I wish I remembered where I read this, heard this, saw this...

We all know the trick about making two half-square triangles. Sandwich two squares, right-sides together, draw a diagonal line, and the sew two quarter-inch seams (using the inked line as a guide).

 Now comes the trick. Pressing the blocks open. 

Normally you cut the unit in half, along the inked line, and press open. But, with the bias seams, those squares can stretch out of shape and get wonky.

Instead, press FIRST...

...and THEN cut them apart.

 Pretty nice, eh?

 Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Waymarking Edition

First real snow of the year hit, and I made it to Belle Isle on Saturday.  Thought I'd share some beauties from the Isle and the Detroit skyline.

Windsor, Ontario (left) - Detroit Skyline (right)

Some very cold ducks

It is as cold as it looks.

Conservatory and Peacock Sundial

Ice Tree
Hope everyone has a warm and sunny week!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mitered Corners and Glue

I had a spare 15 minutes tonight to quilt so I decided to work on my table runner.  LOVE it - it's a 6-sided table runner consisting of 9-patches made from Civil War fabrics.

Hmmm.... guess it's just me, but, when I bought the pattern, I didn't give much thought to the "6 sides" or how to add the borders.  It's a lousy pattern - especially the instructions for creating the mitered ends!  UGH!

But, I was feeling confident and it worked out!  What d'ya think?

I've never mitered before, and I couldn't figure out their instructions. The pinning thing didn't work, but the glue did!  Teresa from Fabric Therapy had posted some great applique tutorials using disappearing purple school glue sticks so I had some on hand.

Looking at the borders, shifting as I tried to pin... why not?  Glue worked wonderfully, held the borders in place, and were snipped away when I trimmed my seam allowance.

SO geeked!  Both ends look wonderful!  Had to share!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Need Your Butterfly Opinion!

I'm in a scrappy, happy mood.  

Lisa from A Spoonful of Sugar made this awesome butterfly quilt last year.  I really love it and was hoping she'd post a pattern for it.  No luck so far.  So I decided to make one of my own.  I always have a scrap project on hand for those times when you have only 15 minutes to quilt.

I'm quite proud of it!  My version uses charm squares for the wings - the entire square.  You paper-piece the wings and then cut it in half to make the two units.  So far, I think I've narrowed it down to two patterns, but I want your opinion about the form of the butterfly.  

Don't focus on the fabric - the final version will be made of Kate Spain's Terrain and solid Amish black in the "background".  My sister found this awesome retro print for the centers.  Hmmm... do you think the "body" should be thicker?

Here's the blocks individually.  You will see the angles are slightly different - one showing more blue. 

What do you think?  The top or the bottom one? I kinda want to make sure before I make 338 of these!

The math works out perfectly for the "bodies" as is but it can be tweaked, if needed.

Love to hear from you!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quilter.... Not Sewer.....

"Have you ever considered suing the city?  
For building the sidewalks so close to your A$$?"

LOL!  My Dad is not a crude man, but that is his favorite joke for me and my sister.  We are not exactly towering goddesses. Long trunks - short legs.  Makes me sound like a baby elephant!

Nephew Andrew with baby elephant - Detroit Zoo
One of the many disadvantages to being short is finding jeans that fit.  I'm too tall for petite and too short for average.  And, I must admit, at almost 42-years old.... I wear my blue jeans cuffed. That may not sound like a big deal but even to work.  

People often ask, "You are a quilter.  Do you make your own clothes?"  Heck no!  One of my joys of quilting is making a fabric object that lies perfectly flat! I tell them, "I'm sorry.  I'm a quilter, a cross-stitcher, an embroiderer, a knitter and a crocheter.  I am not a sewer".  They tend to walk away confused.

So, imagine my thrill to find this fabulous tutorial on Kayla K's blog!  It's called the Not-So-Nerdy Way to Hem Jeans! I did it!  

It really took minutes (even with me "over thinking" the process), and they look great!  It took me longer to write this blog post!

Here are close-ups of my jeans (I haven't pressed them yet).  The beauty (besides being very quick) is that you keep the original hem!

Several notes for myself (and other "non-sewers") in the future:

* Take the tray off the sewing machine
* Needle down and needle position all the way to the left
* Use #4 Bernina zipper foot and Jean/Denim needles
* Longer stitch length - I used 2.5 on my Bernina
* Watch for pleats near the big seam intersections
* Backstitch at the beginning and end to lock your thread

For those that made it this far, thought I'd share a beauty from yesterday.  This is the "ice tree" on Belle Isle.  If you look closely at the top of the picture, you will see the water spraying out of the top!

Hope you found rest and fulfillment on this glorious Sunday,
Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Would You "Fix" This?

 Okay, as you know, I'm a newbie to appliqué. The pattern I'm working on is a learning experiment - a full size quilt starting with the blocks in the upper left corner. My goal is to master this process by the time I reach the lower right blocks. As we go along, they become progressively harder.

 Ok, so here are my cupcakes. They still need cherries and some "word" embroidery.

What do you think of the left cupcake? Looks like I added frosting while the cupcake was still warm. Now keep in mind: This quilt is supposed to be folksy. But I'm an uber-perfectionist. But I promised myself I wouldn't be because this is a learning experiment.

So, would you "fix" this?



Monday, January 16, 2012

Gadget Time - Melts Like Butter!

One of my hesitations in taking up applique was the cost of multiple spools of thread.  All these applique pieces, ranging dozens of colors and shades, and the advice is "match the thread to the applique?"  Who can afford that?

DMC 50-wt. Machine Embroidery Thread

My dear friend, Lauri, told me about this fabulous DMC 50-wt Machine Embroidery thread for hand applique!  Hmm... it works!  I bought a few neutral colors, and, so far, all of them blend fabulously in my appliques.  In fact, the thread seems to melt into the fabric.

And this, my friends, is why I listen to my friends!
Off to applique my cupcakes!
Happy Stitching!

Blogger Issues - Fixed!

Phew!  What a pain in the heinie!  My page gadgets were all over the place.  In case this happens again, I'm saving the solution here:

On occasion, one column (often the sidebar) will shift when the content contained within a side-menu or a post extends a column beyond its designated width. This behavior varies across browsers so the issue will not always occur when a visitor views your page. To resolve the problem we recommend reviewing the content in both columns to identify items that may be causing column expansion. In most cases, long links and wide images are the cause of the problem.

Now back to our normally-scheduled lives!


Friday, January 13, 2012

What the BLoG?!?

 Is anyone else having blogspot problems? What happened to my beautiful web page and all its widgets?


It has truly been a Friday the 13th.

Careful Quilting and Cats

Nothing hurts your heart like hearing your baby in distress.

Several years ago I was in a quilt class where the lady at the next table was in distress. Her kitty had eaten a threaded needle. The needle punctured its belly and the thread wrapped itself around its internal organs. After many months and much money, her cat survived.

I try to be as careful as possible, but I've been a little lax lately. Ginger got ahold of a needle (she's okay). This post is as much as a reminder for me as it is a warning for you.

Do not leave threaded needles around.
Do not store straight pins on shirt sleeves, chair arms or pajama tops.
Keep kitty away from moving sewing machine needles (she's enthralled with the up-and-down motion)
Thread Heaven and glues are potentially poisonous or tummy distressing
Rotary cutters
Avoid heavy irons precariously perched on wobbly ironing boards
Bobbins may be fun to bat but small enough to swallow.

What else? How else do we keep our babies safe? 

And can we answer the age-old question..... What is it about cats and quilters?
Cheers, Elisa

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dancing - Not Singing!

I don't delude myself - I can't sing.  But, I do live by the motto:

Dance like there's no tomorrow!

Again, I don't delude myself. I can't truly dance.  But I don't care.  Not even when my neighber sees me through the front window shaking my thang while vacuuming do I care!

This is my second applique block ever!  It's from my Some Kind of Wonderful group.  The quilt is My Favorite Things by Anni Simms.  I've changed it from "Singing in the Rain" to "Dancing in the Rain".  I love a good puddle.
Like the blue jeans, I needleturned the main part, but that handle was a bear.  I really like spray-starch applique for those tricky curves.  Now, I'm just 3 blocks behind for December!

Happy Stitching!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Not So Blue About My Jeans!

Ok, I'm probably over excited over this. I'm sure all those that appliqué are rolling your eyes.

But I did it! Finished my first block in the Some Kind of Wonderful stitch-along!

Here's the full block which measure 7.5"x12.5"

I used traditional needleturn for the main appliqué and spray-starch for the pockets and waist.

Thanks for listening!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My New Favorite Tool


I'm a gadget girl. Gotta have! Gotta have! When I decided I had to finally focus on appliqué, I didn't have to go far for tools. I was able to shop in my own quilt room (some goodies still in packages - LOL).

After months of practice, I finally completed my first block (do I sound pleased with myself? Will share on a sunny day). And, with all my practice blocks and fancy gadgets, what was the most useful tool in my arsenal? A toothpick.

Wooden. Inexpensive and light.
Dull point. Nudges fabric back into place without poking holes.
Wet. Snags the loose threads for concealment.
Round. Rolls seam allowance under like a curling iron.

In celebration of my victorious first block, I may go out and buy another box of them!