Friday, August 31, 2012

Spool Stand

I don't think I ever blogged about this, but it is one of the greatest additions to my sewing room.  A spool stand!  Once I got into the snowflake quilt I realized that those 12" squares EAT thread.  Seriously, I had a mostly unused 1000 m spool and it was gone in just TWO squares.  

So I researched my options and found out that I definetly need to go with large spools. I order my Isacord from  The shipping isn't cheap (it's the actual shipping price, so it is fair though, I'm just used to cheap shipping), so I usually get 10 at a time, and it is the best price per spool (with shipping) I've found online. (Have you found a better deal?)  Without shipping, a 1000 m spool of thread costs $3.25 (a fantastic price, btw). But a 5000 m spool- it costs $6.95! It would cost $10 more to buy that much thread if I only bought the small spools. But large spools, well, they don't fit on the machine.

Enter a solution.  The spool stand!  Again, I'm cheap.  I looked at those and they seem to range from $15 to more than $50!  The cheapest ones had lots of bad reviews about them being tipsy, the most expensive are decorative, and the one I decided I wanted is about $25.   Now, $25 buys a lot of fabric.  I didn't really want to spend that.

So I showed it to Kevin and he told me he could make it.  And he did. And it is perfect.  And the best part: free.  It was made entirely with scraps that were around his shop. And it fits the spool perfectly, and it isn't tipsy at all, and now I have PLENTY of thread to make snowflakes.  If you sew with the same color a lot, I highly recommend going this route.  It is MUCH more affordable!

Kevin was also very smart when he made this.  The hooks up the top direct the thread in two different directions.  The thread moves so slowly when I sew, that I really only need one.  But when I wind a bobbin, it flies off the spool- so it usually comes out of the bottom hook.  The top hook is oriented differently, so it stays in. So this does work for winding bobbins!  And they aren't hard to thread at all- there is a teeny opening on the side, so I just slip the thread through that (and that is how it escapes) I don't have to actually thread UP through them.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

UFOs down!

So today is UFO Sunday, and I took it to heart.  First, let's talk about unfinished objects: anything in the sewing room, that is not done.  Even if I'm currently working on it, because once I go work on something else, I'll have to set it aside, making it unfinished!

Here is what I can think of.
1) "First" quilt.  Finished piecing this in 2004ish.  I need to reapplique the center square. I didn't know how to applique at all then.  Then I need to see if it is quiltable (may not be, my piecing probably stunk then) and come up with a quilting plan.  Priority: Low
2) Snowflake Quilt.  Current project, making progress.  Prioirty: High
3) Dresden Plate Quilt:  This project is stalled.  I need more fabric, and have no budget.  I also need to decide if I want to make more plates or quilt blank squares.  I need to determine the finished size, I went into this without a plan.  Priority: Medium
4) Navigator's Compass:  This is just an applique piece, glue basted together.  I need to decide what it is being appliqued on.  Another project I went into without a plan.  Priority: Medium
5) Mandala Wholecloth:  After the feather/hearts wholecloth I traced this.  I wanted to use colored threads to make it like the Mandala designs I loved to color. Priority: Medium
6-8) THREE Charity Quilts: Picked up in July, these need to be turned in at the September guild meeting.  Priority: High
9) Eye Spy Quilt:  I got some of the squares sewn together.  But I've changed my mind.  I want to machine applique them all into alphabets, so this actually has to come apart so I can start again.  Priority: Low

So what did I do?

First, on Friday I attacked the Mandala.  After having a great experience painting, I decided to paint it.  Disaster.  The paint bled into the fabric so badly!  So then I took a more viscous paint and outlined and it saved it a bit, but I decided I didn't like where I was headed.  I took a deep breathe and threw it into the trash.  Project status: Finished.
Today I attacked the Charity Quilts.  Three quilts, DONE!  I think I quilted from breakfast until about 3:00, and knocked them all out.  They aren't perfect- all have some pretty bad wrinkles in the backing  fabric, but the fronts look good.  Two of the quilts are actually quite nice.  The "fall" one was this reall ugly panel, and I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I outlined the panel, but did some design quilting on the outside sashing, so at least the sashing looks nice.

UFOs left:  5
Probably won't make much more progress, as a lot of these rely on buying new supplies.  My quilting budget until about November is ZERO.  All money is being saved to replenish the bank account after our down payment is taken out.  But I have plenty of stash to quilt with (and snowflakes to work on, plenty of thread to go for awhile!), so it will all be worth it for the new big sewing room!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Snowflake #8

Seriously?  #8? I can't believe it. I'm making actual progress on this quilt.  I need to start thinking about how I am going to do the wavy binding strips.  I'd like to do the waves, but I'm not sure I'm good enough at binding to do wave edges.  Will definetly need to practice on something else.

I got a little bit of bearding on this one, not as bad as the first two squares, so I clearly need to make sure I'm changing my needle more often.

This design is Leah Day's Brain Coral, but I think it looks like oil slicks.  Maybe because I echoed more than she did.
I'm happy with this one.

I have #9 in progress- pebbling, and not sure what to do with #10- I had a great idea for it, but it didn't really work out.  I don't know if I should keep trying to adapt what I have, rip out what I have, or see if I can find the backing fabric so I can just start over from scratch on this one.  #10 is the first one I've been disappointed with...  I'm of a mind to just finish it, and then decide if it needs to be done from scratch.  It seems like ripping it out (it's about 1/3 done) is not a viable option.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Snowflake #7

This is the first snowflake I breezed through.  This design worked up SO quickly.
I like to think it is my own invention, I call it "tire tracks".  I designed this when thinking about how the C curves fill the space on McTavishing, and decided to see how they might travel along the quilt.  Originally I thought it looked like a snake, folding up upon itself, but now all finished, I think it looks like someone might have had a wild time mudding.

I know the design isn't really original though, as it looks a lot like Bananas which I've seen Diane Gaudynski (Bouncing Bananas) do, and are a design suggestiong in the pattern by Leah Day (Swirling Bananas), but I designed this idenpendently, and I think it moves along the quilt a little differently.  My tire tracks are always a continuous line.  Looking at the picture, I think Leah's Bananas sometimes start again in a new direction (maybe not).  I don't know how Diane quilts hers.  Actually, now that I look at the picture, the proportion isn't really like bananas, so maybe this is my design.

And this marks over the halfway mark for small snowflakes!  I also got organza on top of the two I ran short on, and the giant snowflake, and uh-oh, despite it looking nearly the same, the shine is totally different.  I either hope a) the huge amount of thread piled on top of it makes it indistinguishable, or b) if I place them both in corners you can't really tell it wasn't intentional. 

We looked at more houses today and found one I really like.  I dream of a larger quilt room, even though I know I am lucky to have one at all.  Kevin also got me some foamboard insulation and we upholstered it with batting so I have a tiny design wall now.  When we move, I plan to make an entire wall a design wall.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Snowflake #6

This particular snowflake has been a pain to quilt.

I call this design coffeee beans and it is one I came up doodling during a meeting.  It is surely inspired by something I saw at the Free Motion Quilting Project previously, but I didn't look it up there.

Well, it was just slow going.  I started this square 3 weeks ago, and got about 30% done the first day I quilted it, and then left it.  Then, last weekend I did maybe 10% of it.  (The Olympics have taken all my sewing time these past two weeks.)  Friday I have half days at work during the summer, and that is usually when I do a square- well 3 Fridays, and this one didn't get done.  This Friday, I took a nap instead.  Today, I decided to finally finish it up.

Whew!  Overall, I really liked the look of it.  I cut it square and damn it-
I turned it over and I had caught the extra backing in the stitching.  I had to rip out about 3 square inches, and redo it.  I don't THINK you can tell where the fix is, so that's okay.

But I made stupid ruler mistake AGAIN.  See, I have a 12.5" ruler, which is used to make finished 12" squares.  And surely the ruler makers know it is for that purpose.  But the center of the ruler is NOT the center of the square.  No, rather than a quarter inch being added to either side- the extra half inch is on one side (like a proper ruler should be, to be fair).  So half the time I use it to square up, I'm off centered.


In the end though, it's done, and I like it well enough to go into the quilt.

(If you see black lines in the picture it is because I hadn't ironed them off yet.  I use the Frixion pens to mark my boundaries quilting, going just outside them.  But of course, if I don't pay attention to where I am cutting, then they stay on the quilt...)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Painted Quilt

I took a Craftsy class recently about a painting a quilt.  I am SO impressed with my results.  (Although it looks better in pictures and on the wall then it does up close. ) This is definetly a technique I want to explore more.  The problem is, for this quilt, I had someone telling me exactly what to paint where- I'm not sure I have the artistic sense to figure that out for myself.

However paint on quilts is definetly going to be something I do again!

This is the pictorial quilt appliqued and but not painted.

It is amazing how the paint transforms it.  It is like a totally different thing.
The paints I used were Setacolor- they are transparent, so if there is a pattern under them it reads through it.  I got a pack on amazon and it was pretty affordable.  The other supplies I just got at Hobby Lobby. I think I'd want a better brush if I did this a lot.

Sunday edit:
I spent the day Saturday quilting it.  I LOVE it.  Which is unfortunate because as a practice quilt, I didn't use very good materials.  The blue is super thin Walmart fabric, and while the backing fabric is actually brand name-high quality, it was grab bag material and a ridiculous choice (why would it matter? It goes on the wall- well, it makes it harder to bring to guild and such where it might be seen.)  

This is my first time doing McTavishing.  I still need some work with it, but I like it.  Oddly, I did better with it with the Connecting Threads Essential (a thick cotton) than I did with the thin silk thread from the class at Pine Needles- maybe it is because it blends in, but I didn't get too much build up when I had to travel stitch.  A few times I did need to cut my threads and start over- I just got TOO stuck, but I tried to limit that as much as possible.

And here is the back- absurd right.
 But I'm showing this because, even with a practice quilt, I'm finally making it a habit to label my quilts.  I never labeled any of my baby quilts, but now, pretty much everything gets a label.  It is sewn into the binding and then I used steam a seam to hold it down.  I need to learn to hand sew, as the hanging tag hasn't been whip-stitched on.  I didn't do any quilting IN the flower (though I used invisible thread to sew down the formerly only fused applique) and I'm still trying to decide if that is the right look for the front.  I think thread will interupt the painting, so I am probably done. 

I guess now I need to decide if I want to make this same flower again with better materials.

Finished quilt...

I made this top quite awhile ago (it was a Jelly Roll Race, but I didn't use a jelly roll).  It sat, waiting for me to quilt it. Finally, I had the perfect opportunity- I took a class on basting at Pine Needles, and needed a quilt top. Thank goodness for procrastination- I had one!

The basting class was all about how to use a table top corner to pull your backing flat to your batting and then how to layer the top on it.  You let gravity do the work.  I still think it would be tough for a king size quilt, but certainly easier than crawling around on the floor.  I was about as effective at no wrinkles in the backing as normal (meaning there are one or two tiny puckers).
Last weekened as soon as I got home I quilted it.  I thought that an over-all spiral would break up the harsh horizontal lines, but it turns out you can't see the quilting at all on the front.  Still, like always, I love the back of the quilt.  I usually sit with the gray side up- it's about 60 x 60, a lap quilt.

I love it!