Sunday, September 25, 2011


If you are my partner from the Mug Rug Swap on Ravelry, do not read any further! (I doubt this person reads my blog, but who knows. Maybe I am further reaching than I thought...)

To make sure that person has backed away from the blog, let me tell you about shopping today.
We went to Target and rebought the rug that goes in the living room. Elsa has torn up so much of it, and we needed something to go under the dining room chairs, so we moved the old rug over to the dining room and have a pretty new one for the living room.

I also got a new laundry basket. I can carry 2 bushels of laundry now. It really cracks me up that laundry baskets are measured in bushels. I don't know how many bushels my old basket held, but it was less than 2. My old basket has been duct taped together since 2000, when I dropped it my freshman year in college. And yet, that was my favorite one. The other one we had was this awful wicker basket that Kevin got when he moved to his first apartment. Wicker is horrible for laundry- it catches on the clothes, and the curved sides make it difficult to stack things.

Okay, swap partner gone? Whew! Not much else to say about laundry baskets!

Here is my Mug Rug (smaller than a placemat, larger than a coaster). This is my first time doing satin stitch applique, and it isn't perfect...but I think it is cute.
The back is very simple:
And not to brag, but look at how nice the BACK side of my quilting looks on this super close up.

Loving my new sewing machine. Just wish I had more time to use it! Only 4 more weeks in this session, then back to taking just one class at a time...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Battle of the Sexes

I posted this to the wrong blog last week...

Kevin lunch vs Jessi lunch.

I am guessing our house is opposite of most.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Repeat after me:

"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."
"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."
"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."
"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."
"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."

Uh, but there is an amazing sale here: Go Baby

"But really, the Big Shot is probably better, it can cut pretty much every brand of die. That leaves you more flexibility if you go back to stamping."
"Besides, dies are super expensive. Think of all the Bernina feet you want. Now imagine if you had all those dies to choose from too. Where is this money coming from?"

"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."
"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."
"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."
"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."
"Jessi, you do NOT need a die cutter."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Decorative Stitch Wall Hanging

I saw this blog post which has an adorable little wall hanging at the end of it- showcasing the decorative stitches on your machine.

My machine has a bajillion decorative stitches (the higher end ones have a gajillion) so I thought this would be a fun way to use them. Because really, when do you need them? It is a SUPER easy project- just pick stitches and sew straight lines. (Patience required- even at top speed, and I used less than that, this takes longer than you feel like it should. The blogger recommends not using top speed, but a snails pace. I didn't think that was necessary, although you can see I have a few puckers. I actually blame wrinkled interfacing for that, but maybe speed was the culprit.) The only planning I did for the project was trying to alternate the satin-stitch and open stitch type stitches, so the overall look was balanced.

I made the lines about 3/4" apart using an air soluble marker. The marker says it disappears in 24-48 hours. It must still be really humid here because the lines were pretty well gone by the end of 10 hours! At least they disappeared!

Isn't the thread beautiful? It is Essential from Connecting Threads. At the Bernina dealership she was looking for an example of "cheap thread" so I gave it to her and it was deemed "pretty good" (though not as good as the ones they sell, of course). However, since it was not deemed "crappy" (no one had the brands she was looking for as "crappy") I plan to continue using it in my machine. Way inexpensive, and TONS of colors (sadly, no variagated.)
I plan to hang this at work, so I can see some sewing, which always makes me smile.

Humbug bag

I traveled up to Pine Needles Sewing Center for my first Mastery class on my Bernina Aurora 430. MOST of what was covered I had already figured out- but it was WELL worth the drive. I learned a few things that were really incredible. The course was project based- we made a Humbug Bag. The bag is okay, but not my favorite. It has a lining in it, but exposed seams, as the lining is just overlocked to the edge of the outer fabric to hide the "quilting" (basically we tried tons of decorative stitches, used the twin needle, and did some couching)- I also don't care for how the zipper sticks up. But it is SUPER easy to make, so a good little gift, I think I would do it with a proper turned lining though (to be fair, we barely referenced the pattern, so maybe it calls for one and we just didn't do it?)

Although the class was "free" ($75 if you didn't buy your machine there! Do this enough times and I'll earn my money on that purchase, haha), I thought the kit was kind of expensive. It was probably a fair cost for what was in it (2 mettler threads, 1 YLI variagated- though mine you couldn't even tell it was variagated, I was disappointed, a twin needle, a jeans needle pack, 2 Fat quarter, one backed with interfacing, some cording, and a zipper), but it still seemed expensive. I think I was mostly annoyed my variagated thread was goldenrod and sunshine- if you looked closely at the spool you could tell there were 2 yellows, but you can't tell at all on the sewing.

#1 The reason the threader is so freaking hard to use is that I was doing it totally wrong. Doing it right makes it way easier. The right way is very different from my Kenmore. It is exactly like the video the Bernina sight has, I just didn't process what happened in the video.

#2 The reason my bobbin case kept falling out was user error (I figured it was). I put it in, and it clicks. I figured that was right. It really has to CLICK. I mean seriously CLICK. Then, it doesn't fall out.

#3 The reason there is a screw on the back of all the feet is for the seam guide. You can use it on any foot, not just a walking foot. Seriously awesome.

#4 I don't think I really need a 1/4" foot. The straight stitch foot seems good enough for me, for now.

#5 I totally need a free motion couching foot. Before this class, I didn't really even know what free motion couching was (although I had seen it in a video, and just though "neat") now that I've done it- amazing. See the cord in the bottom left corner of the bag? That's done with free motion couching. SO COOL.

#6 Heel Tap really is difficult. They actually should rename it heel stomp. I'm still not sure why I would want that.

#7 Knee Lift isn't that useful for most sewing. I never used it today, despite them telling us "you won't be able to live without it". Still, I'm very glad I have it. I like it for freemotion quilting, and it is good for pivoting on garments.

#8 Bernina Bobbins are expensive. But I bought a tube of them. I'm done for now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quilt Guild and Art

Last night I went to my first guild meeting. I joined the Old Capital Quilters Guild
I am pretty sure I was the youngest person there (and mistaken for a high schooler, as they were expecting some girls from 4H!). There were a few women who looked to be in their 40's or 50's, but as expected, the crowd skewed towards older women. I sat at a smaller table of ladies, and the women were nice and chatted with me. My goal of this is to meet some people in the area, but the set up is so huge (about 100 people) that I think that would be tough if you don't already know each other! There are 'small groups' and I might try to join one of those.

The guild seems to do a ton of charity work. They collect quilts for the hospital, they do a block a month (I'm going to try this) where someone assembles the blocks together. This meeting they also talked about place mats for meals on wheels and stockings/pillowcases for the troops. If I have some quilting time this month, I might try either of these.

Each month, the meeting has an activity. This month we watched a movie called "Stitched". It was a pretty spectacular introduction to art quilting. I know what art quilting is, but I have never seen it to this degree. It is truly amazing- the men and women who do this sort of quilting are without a doubt true artists, their medium is fabric and thread. I think it is a little frustrating, because I doubt the typical "quilter" (uh, me...) could aspire to this level, you just need formal art training.

The video showcased the pull between art quilting (many of whom do NO patchwork or applique, but paint their quilts) and traditional quilting. Things like "why would you put that on a bed?" (um, you wouldn't) or that these people shouldn't even be called quilters (uh?). I'm wondering how they found people to be interviewed because they come off sounding like ignorant old biddies.

I've known for awhile that while I like some traditional quilts, and like piecing, I lean towards modern quilting, mostly in color. However, seeing all these award winning traditional quilts, and award winning art quilts, I realize that I really lean away from traditional. Maybe after I finish my Master's degree I'll have to go and try to do some art classes, and see if I can transfer some of the information to quilting. Heck, even a color theory class would be nice!

For those reading my blog who don't know what art quilting is, or only barely know (like I did), here are the three artists/quilters featured, and a work that I loved by them.

Hollis Chatelain: Innocence (this quilt didn't even get an award at the show featured, but it got viewer's choice.) If you click on the link to the side, it will show the detail: all over the quilt, images of children are stitched into it. Amazing quilting. (Since last night I've been very inspired to learn more about show quilting- and this one seems to come up a lot in the "Why didn't my quilt get a ribbon" -FAQ authors will say "this one didn't get a ribbon either" - it is clearly a very highly respected quilt, I still don't know what the judges were thinking. The winning quilts were very good, but this is just an amazing piece of art.

Another quilter featured was Caryl Bryer Fallert. I didn't know it at the time, but I had actually heard of her. Leah Day mentioned her in a blog post just a few days ago (about using clamps in the ceiling to support the weight of the quilt) and I've been eying a line of fabric called "Gradations" that she apparently designed. (Funny thing about fabrics- I have a line of fabric I love- Mixmaster's, apparently it was designed by Patrick Lose- a quilter I also admire.) Feathers in the Wind was the quilt featured in the show. I love the sense of color she displays in her works. And look at this gorgeous dance quilt.

The final quilter featured was a man named Randall Cook (each was kind of related in the art world to the other. Caryl mentored Hollis, Hollis mentored Randall. Guess Caryl is just top of the chain!) Each of the quilter's had caused a stir in the world of quilting: Caryl being the first to win a major show with a machine quilted quilt, Hollis for winning with a painted quilt (no piecing or applique!), and Randall for his "pornographic" (haha) work. Here is the stunning quilt he made. I guess they are right, you don't see too many nudes in the quilt world. I think I have the smallest draw to Randall's art, but it is also just amazing. I tried to find one of his quilts that most caught my eye, and when I did, I realized it is one of Caryl Fallert's designs... What I find most interesting about him is he does traditional quilts too, and was shown doing hand quilting (though I think he mostly machine quilts).

Overall, the quilt guild meeting was inspiring, and has me really wanting to try some new forms of quilting. And to get to go to the Des Moines quilt show later this month. I was already to not go, but now I want to see what show quilts look like in real life!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Picked this (and a quilt kit) up at the Bernina dealership today :)

Anyone have any idea how this works? The class I need was yesterday, so I'll have to wait a bit... It came with a carrying case, but I don't see a manual...uh oh (ETA: The manual is in the regular hopefully I can figure this out a bit.)


We just got back from a week long trip to Texas (17 hour in the car yesterday!) It is SO nice to be home. The quilt store called and my embroidery module is ready to be picked up, so I need to finish all my homework so I can get into the car again and drive to Cedar Rapids. But first, I am enjoying one of my favorite Texas treats: New Caanan Farms Jelly (and mustard!) on crackers. We bought 6 jars (3 for me, 3 for Kevin, but I bet he eats my mustard too) and in my opinion, that wasn't enough! Yum, yum, yum!

Our trip was more than just jelly though. We spent a few days in Fort Worth with my sister. I am so thankful for that time. Her kids are growing SO fast. Getting to hang out and play with C., B., and L. was just fantastic. C. is in Kindergarten now and is a baseball champion. I already can't keep up with him. (Quote of the week "Get under the ball, Aunt Jessi! Move your feet!") B. and L. are almost 2 years old now and just adorable. Chasing them around was the highlight of my week.

In Austin, we got to visit with my parents, including a day of wine tasting (not my thing: but it is Kevin's thing: he picked up 4 bottles!) and we got to see Kevin's family. Michael and Rachel, who went on the cruise with us, are now pregnant (mostly just Rachel), and Jill's and Kelly's children C. and R. are growing up fast too (though we just saw them for graduation). This C. also loves baseball, and R. just loves everything: she is smiley and expressive (oh but if you tell her "no" she has an amazing glare.) We played lots of games together, one of our favorite family traditions. We didn't get to see much extended family, but thankfully, we got to see Nan (she stopped by the bowling alley, and also brought us some pie before we left). Oh- and at the bowling alley, C. managed to get both a spare and a gutter ball: behind the bumpers. What a feat! (I think he did about as well as I did- I play with bumpers too :) Funny though, I found that when the ball hits the bumpers, I pretty much never hit a pin. Might as well get the gutter balls, as my good throws never need the bumpers.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mod 6 Done!

I finished the Mod 6 quilt last night. It is a sixty-inch square (a unit we call "One square Jessi") and the biggest quilt I have done. As I've mentioned, I did it in 4 pieces and joined it together quilt as you go, with sashing. This was MUCH harder than I anticipated. I wonder what it would have been like on my old machine, because the Bernina was not interested in feeding it through- as it was sold to me on being able to feed anything through, I was somewhat surprised (seriously- it went over 6 layers of denim without hesitation, why was this so tough?)

This was also the largest thing I have ever bound, and I cut my binding thinner, as I don't like it when it was so thick. This turned out to be a mistake, as I didn't have a deep enough seam allowance on the back, so some of the binding didn't actually get sewn down to the back of the quilt, and frayed when it washed, I just zig zagged that down.

This is the very first project I've free motion quilted. Each of the quadrants has 5 squares with filler designs (that I've been showing) and there is a loopy meander over the entire quilt. I am in LOVE with FMQ. (Which Kevin says he always reads as F my quilt, I suppose because of FML that people use on facebook? I'm not one of those people.)

Isn't she beautiful.
(You should be able to click to enlarge it)
So here's a question- should I sign it? People always say you should sign your quilts, but I never do. I kind of consider this my first "real" quilt, do I need to start?