Friday, April 18, 2014

FREE Butterfly and Flowers Machine Embroidery Designs!



Embroidery Library has given us a great Easter, Welcome Spring gift! From now through April 20, 2014 you can download 8 different designs, four of which come in different sizes. If you download all available sizes you will end up with 20 designs. Even though I doubt I will ever get an embroidery machine that can take a larger design than the Janome 300e that I have now, I believe in possibilities so I download all sizes...Just in Case! I have one set of the designs showing on this page, but if you go to Embroidery Library you can see and download the all of them. Aren't they lovely designs???

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Quilting organization.

Interweave Press is having a contest and wanted to know about tips for organizing your stash. There will be a random drawing for the prize winner, so I figure there is no chance I will win, but thought I should post some of the things I do for those that might be interested.
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I have to agree that you need to use the system that works for you. Mine is storing fabric in boxes that paper came in. They fit on my shelves just great. I do not sort my fabrics by color, but I try to keep some by fabric theme such as juvenile prints so it is easier to grab what I need when making a baby or Project Linus quilt. I also keep all Christmas fabrics together in one box so that I don't have to root through boxes to find what I'm looking for. Otherwise I love going through my stash looking for just the right color and falling in love with my fabrics all over again. That is part of the joy of quilt making for me.

My best organizational tip, is whenever you are finished with a project, cut the scraps down into workable size squares and rectangles and now that I'm into making hexagons, those as well. I cut up as much as I can into 2.5 " x 2.5" squares, 4.5" x 4.5" squares, and a 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles. I call these my 2 by 4's as to me they are the same as the 2 by 4's that constructions workers use to frame out a house. I can make hundreds of styles of quilts with these three shapes. Anything smaller goes in the trash and pieces that are bigger get folded back up neatly with the rest of the fabric unless all that is left is a strip and I cut that into a 2.5", 2" or 1.5" strip. So I have been ahead of the jelly rolls, etc. for years!

Whenever I get a new quilting magazine, as I look through it, if I see a project that can be made out of my pre-cuts, I will flag it with a Post-it note and the same with easy baby quilts I will flag as well. That way when I need a new idea I don't have to look at the whole magazine, just the pages that are flagged.

I have a disabling chronic health problem so anything that I can do to make things easier truly benefits me, such as I have a Janome 7700 with an automatic thread cutter (much easier than picking up and manipulating scissors to trim off threads), an acrylic table that allows me to rest my forearms and hands on while piecing and I always do chain piecing, push 'buttons' to set my settings so no manipulating dials (I never use the jog dial on the machine).

No matter what the world is doing in their sewing spaces, do what makes you comfortable. I love the look of all those fabrics that are setting open on the shelves, but I also know what dust and sunshine can do to fabric, especially on the folds. So mine is packed away. Oh yes, fashion fabric is in boxes separate from quilting fabric.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Finished At Last!

Well actually almost finished but I now know what we owe on our taxes. The scourge of being self-employed is the bloodletting at the beginning of the year. Very hard to truly estimate how bad the blood bath will be. Well we owe so off to work we go!

The bad thing between working on taxes and the flare-ups I keep having due to our constantly changing weather, I have barely gotten near my sewing room, or my embroidery cart. Now that I don't have the pressure of spending 'free' time working on taxes, perhaps I can get some sewing done and clean up the mess in the sewing room. Perhaps I might get caught up with laundry and the dishes too?!?! Probably not to the last one.

I had been hoping to be able to post more off of my laptop when we got the WiFi, but our internet explorer wouldn't let me into blogger to write up the posts. I tried to upgrade as the little message boxes told me to, but when I did, they said this computer couldn't be upgrades. Wonder why as it isn't THAT old? Well I had to have hubby install Google chrome and I can once again post from my nest upstairs, so I hope that means more blog posts.

Tonight was a night to relax after working for hours on those taxes and one of the things I did was go to one of my favorite Pinterest boards, Hand Embroidery, and studied the samples of stitches and projects taking my time to really look at them and absorb the work. When I'm pinning things, I usually am going fast and will pin whatever catches my eye. Later taking my time, I'm glad for what I pinned. I know I pin a lot onto all my boards, but that is for me how Pinterest should be working, as file cabinets to hold all our ideas. I've seen some ladies mention that they try to not pin too many things so their followers don't get overwhelmed. I'm posting first and foremost for myself as a way to capture great ideas after years of seeing neat things and unless you owned the book or magazine that you see them in, they are lost to you forever. Now that no longer holds true.

Would love to hear how you folks use Pinterest and what is your favorite board that you especially like of all of your boards. If I'm not already following you, I would love your Pinterest url so I can see what you are posting.

Definitely time for bed!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pinterest

I have just discovered yet another reason to love Pinterest!  Prepping your taxes. We run two businesses on top of lots of other stuff and finishing the first business I declared a 15 minute vacation to go see what was new on Pinterest. I have never yet been disappointed when popping in there. Always something new to see, something new to inspire and to awe you. Most of my Pinterest boards have to do with sewing or needle crafts of some kind if you would like to visit.

Now for a little supper and to decide if I want to do more taxes tonight or put the rest off until tomorrow. I think I know which I'll give in to -- a good book!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hand Embroidery



Sunday night I was able to finished embroidering this pillowcase which shows 2 bluebirds in a nest. The design came from some old Workbasket magazines that I had gotten at a yard sale long ago that I took all the embroidery transfers out. So a vintage embroidery design that was stitched in 2014!

My husband took the photo and did the photo manipulation so it looks a bit brighter than it really is and the one detail that I was most proud of doesn't show up very well. I had managed by manipulating the colors of embroidery floss to make the tree branch rounded looking by doing dark on the edges and building up to a lighter brown on the top and it gave the optical illusion of a round branch. I used both DMC embroidery floss and DMC pearl cotton in the design.

I enjoyed trying out some different techniques and stitches on this pillowcase. Since they will probably never be used at the same time, with the other pillowcase that I already have stamped I will be using some more different stitches and techniques. I just bought this book Embroidered Embellished which has some interesting different embroidery stitches and ways to use them so I will be using it for inspiration.


Saturday, March 08, 2014

Hexa-Go-Go: English Paper Piecing 16 Quilt Projects

I don't know why I do this to myself! To relax before bed I was reading this new book I bought on making Hexagons and hexagon projects. I'm really starting to build up a collection of pieced hexagons in 4 different sizes and really need an idea on which way I should head. Well this book, Hexa-Go-Go: English Paper Piecing 16 Quilt Projects  has ideas by the dozen, not just in the book, but in the ideas that blossom in your head while reading the book. Ideas were exploding in my mind to the point that I couldn't sleep last night as I was designing projects in my head and figuring out how to make them work. I definitely have a better idea of what I want to do with all my different hexagons now. And I know this is not a book for bedtime reading.

This book has great full color photos. Most projects are made with very modern prints which I don't go for, but my stash of flowery fabrics and scraps should do very well when being substituted for the modern prints. While I thought making hexagons would be tedious and difficult, I have found them to great to work on while watching TV. I don't go out much so I don't have a portable package of hexagons to work with currently as the author suggests, but I will certainly think about putting a little kit together for extended waits at doctor's offices and waiting for prescriptions to be filled at the drug store. If you have been hesitant to try hexagons might I suggest you give them a try.

You can dip your toes into the water with a couple of quick hexagon projects in a free class at Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month class. I've done all but the last two blocks at this point. The foundation piecing had gotten the best of my dyslexic brain, but when wide awake in my sewing room, I have been trying to push myself along. You would think I would push myself a little more as I can't (my own rules) start another project until this class is finished and cleaned up. Of course making the hexies doesn't count as I do them in front of the TV instead of in front of the sewing machine. Hard to believe it is March already as I started this class last year while my sewing goal was to learn and perfect new techniques.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Quilting Fabric Stashes

I have been quilting since I was in 8th grade or since 1967 however you might want to look at it. My first quilt to me was beautiful but as a quilt it was a disaster. The squares weren't the same size, the seams weren't the same size and many times I sewed the seams with a basting stitch. Big oops! When it came to the fabric for this quilt, I went the old fashioned route. I dove into my mother's leftover scraps 'bag'. I didn't know a single thing about making a quilt other than what little I may have gleaned from reading Laura Ingall's Little House on the Prairie book series. So being ignorant I used any and all fabrics that I found, trying to get enough for a decent sized quilt. This meant that some old leftover green, ugly upholstery fabric was paired up with fragile summer fabrics. 100% cottons were mixed with polyester blends. I didn't finish the quilt until 12th grade and was able to take it away with me to college. It may have been a weird quilt, but from what I had to work with, I feel like for a supposedly unartistic person, the color sense and design was there. I loved that quilt and it cheered me tremendously to see it and use it. Eventually sometime after my first son Ron was born it disintegrated. I can only date it back to Ron as I have a picture of him sitting on it, but never had one of Steve near it. I threw it away and have regretted it ever since. However, what I did do was the leftover blocks were saved in my sewing stuff which amazingly used to fit in a green plastic carrying case that enclosed my quilting, embroidery and mending tools. but I suppose I was ahead of most girls at college who didn't even have a sewing needle with them! One day I found those old blocks and picked them apart, cut them to exact squares and sewed them back together again, getting rid of the green upholstery fabric and and the super thin polyester fabric. One of the prints was leftover from the first dress I ever made myself. hose blocks are still waiting for the perfect project for them.

I missed being in the USA for most of the bicentennial year of 1976 as I went to college in Canada and got to go to Colombia during my summer break. So I missed the start of the ongoing quilting craze and the fabrics that came into being during that point in time in the USA. My second quilt was yet again made out of scrounged fabric. Then I found Eleanor Burn's Log Cabin in a Day book. I had to make one and for the first time in my life I went out and bought quilting fabric to make a quilt. Of course there were leftovers and also the quilting bug really bit at that point or was it the accumulation of quilting fabric bug? Anyhow I bought fabric. I made quilts. I bought more fabric. People found out I quilted and was into other sewing expressions as well, so I was given 'gifts' of their fabric and tools that they no longer wanted. Yard sales started having quilting fabric and sewing notions for sale and I bought as I had funds. Then our wonderful thrift store opened and I bought more fabric. I was given more fabric. Now I have enough fabric to make projects for the next several hundred years! Yet I still don't understand the immense amount of books that are geared to getting rid of your stash. Why would I want to do that???

In the last little while, I realized that the lap quilt I used in my sitting spot in the living room had bit the dust and was full of tears and stains and needed to be replaced. So I'm borrowing a lap quilt I made for Hubby while I  am getting inspired  and start to make a new lap quilt. One of the first things I did was to scrounge through all the pre-made blocks I've been making and storing for years. Maybe you know what I mean. You finish a quilt project and you have some pieces leftover that make up a nice block and so you sew it together and then set it aside as you don't have anything to go with it. As I dug deeper into into my box of UFOs I found one piece where I had sewn four blocks together and then put the project away as it didn't look right. The blocks weren't all the same sizes so it wasn't going to work in the way I had planned at first so it was put away. So tonight I sat down to do one of my most unfavorite sewing projects--unsewing. Picked out two of the blocks that I thought would go with the other pieces of the lap quilt I want to make. Unsewing gives you time to think and I started to realize how long ago I had made the blocks (20+ years) and the type of fabric I had used. All were small prints or tiny dots. While they all coordinated, they sure don't look like the kind of fabrics that I use now. I love big flowery prints with coordinating fabrics (not necessarily from the same manufacturer) and have plenty of them stashed away.

Your favorite types of quilt prints/designs is the main reason to build up your stash with the kind of fabrics you like and enjoy using. I have plenty of fabric at this point as I have mentioned. I'm not a modern art quilter. I really don't like the huge geometric prints, nor many of the colors that are current today. So I'm not inclined to feel like I have to buy ANY fabric at this point (it helps to not have the money to be buying more fabric LOL!). I have plenty of my kind of fabric so I don't HAVE to buy more fabric. It isn't like I'm going to ever run out. When I do get a chance to buy quilting fabric at our thrift store, I will generally pick it up no matter what it looks like as they sell for 25-50 cents a yard! You can't pass that up that kind of bargain and I have found that bringing some kind of new fabric into my sewing room helps with inspiring me.

Quilting, embroidery and sewing are such wonderful creative hobbies to have. Even when my arthritis has gotten me down so that I can't do much of anything physical, I can still read books and magazines about the needle arts.