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Friday, October 29, 2010

Long Arm Quilting Class

I took my long arm quilting class yesterday at In Stitches Quilt Shop.  Let's just say that I have a new appreciation for long arm quilters.  Not that I didn't stand in awe of them before but my gosh, how much they have to learn to operate the machine and the artist talent needed to end up with some of the beautiful free hand designs I have seen. 

Our teacher, Denise, showed us three different techniques, free hand, template and pantograph.  Working with the stylus and template was incredibly difficult.  One needs a very steady hand to follow the little red light on the template.  My hand is not steady.  I enjoyed the free hand but this will take some practice.  Of course, I am limited to what I am able to draw and am certainly not an artist.  However, I will revisit this technique in the future.  For now, pantograph is my technique of choice.  You choose a design on the computer and size it to your quilt.  Push all of the right buttons and voila, the machine does all the work for you while you stand back and admire the work.  Sounds easy doesn't it.  Well, there is a little more to it than that.  First, you have to know all of the right buttons to push and in what order to push them.  Then keeping in mind that a computer makes no room for error, it may be necessary to back track and figure out what went wrong and correct it.  Good thing that Denise was there for that part because I am still at the "pushing the right buttons in order" stage and certainly not ready to figure out what went wrong and fix it.  On my behalf  I can say that I am able to judge when something is going wrong.  Sometimes the machine makes this quite obvious.  It's a stubborn little devil.

I'll probably rent the machine to do another practice quilt before taking on  a larger and more involved one.  All in all, I am pleased that I took the class and look forward to improving my skills.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lil' Twister Quilt Top

I am so excited to be making this entry.  It's the first project that I have completed since starting my blog.  I will also be announcing the "opening" of my blog today.  Folks have been asking me about it and when it will be available.  Hard to believe people want to see what I have to offer.
May I have a drum roll please?  Here's is my top!

This is my first time using the Lil' Twister ruler.  It really is a neat gadget.  If  you can sew a simple four and nine patch block, you can make this quilt.  How you ask?  (I hope.)  Well, let me walk you through it.  This quilt was made with 5" charm squares (with thanks to Patty, Betsy and Jill who gave me a Moda pack. They purchased it at the Paducah Show for me as a consolation gift because I was unable to go with them.)  With this pattern, the charms are sewn together in sets of four with a border around them.  Like this.

Then, using the lil' twister ruler, it is cut into 9 units.  It's hard to see in the picture but the ruler has intersecting lines that a are lined up with the seams in the block.


Rotate the newly formed blocks counter clockwise about 1/4  turn and you have a 9-patch.

Sew them together and and square it up.  You have your first block.


 For this pattern, 9 blocks are needed.  Add borders and the top is finished.  A total of  36 charms are used.  Not much of  a dent in the stash but a good way to experiment with the new toy and also have a small top to take to long arm quilting class.  I also have a large Twister ruler.  It uses 10 inch squares instead of the 5" charms.  I'll be making something with it soon.  It will be a larger project so  more fabric is used.

Areas of concern.  I think the effect would be better if there was more contrast among the fabric colors.  Also, there are a lot of  bias edges that need to be handled carefully.  Not so much of a problem with this size but may present more of  a concern with the larger blocks.

Tomorrow I am off to the long arm quilting class.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Thanks for visiting.  Please come back soon.

I almost forgot.  Please visit my friend Lynn's blog to see some really great quilts.   Here is a photo of  Lynn with her tribute to 9/11.  Notice what she is using for a torch.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Making Plans

I have all kinds of plans as to how to blast the stash.  Some may actually make a dent others won't but should make nice gifts or bazaar items.  In preparation for this undertaking I have been on a mission to find as many scrap patterns as possible.  There are tons on the internet but I also managed to buy some patterns and books at the quilt shows.  Gotta love those vendor malls!  So many ideas all in one location.  I have also gotten hooked on new rulers and gadgets that are supposed to make great looking quilts in a fraction of the time it  takes to do them in the tradional way. 

At this point in time I am concentrating on three, oops! make that four projects. 

 - Currently, I am making little dresses for Africa.  I hope to have a dozen completed by the end of November so that I can send them on their way.  They are so cute.  Average use of fabric is one yard per dress.
 - Next, I would like to have a total of 15 blocks done in Civil War reproduction fabrics by my next quilt guild meeting in the beginning of November.  These are to be donated to the Home of the Brave project.  Trish, a lady from the guild is coordinating this worthy endeavor within the guild.  I have 10 blocks finished.  Five are cut out and need to be sewn together.  I love civil war reproductions.

 - By October 27 I need a baby quilt pieced for a long arm machine class that I am taking at a local quilt shop.  I am using one of my new toys, the lil' twister ruler, for cutting out the fabric.  The initial sewing of the base blocks is done but I still need to cut them up and then resew them into the new blocks.  I was hoping to make a large dent in this project today but the nice weather got in the way and my time was spent working in the yard.

 - Last but certainly not least, I will be piecing a 12 1/2" block to be combined with blocks from friends to make a quilt for a young woman who is battling breast cancer.

Other future project ideas I have rolling around in my head are pillowcases to send to a shelter for homeless women and their children.  My cousin volunteers there and said the residents need everything.  At some point they will be leaving to set up housekeeping and donations help them acquire some of the necessities.  Next are quillows with no particular destination.  Perhaps these can go to the shelter as well.  They are supposed to go together quickly and use up lots of fabric.  I was thinking some of the "What was I thinking about when I bought this fabric" could be used for these.  Other ideas are rattling around in my head but I will save them for another post..

Once I get my camera set up I will take some pictures to share my progress.  I am also still trying to figure out how to get the layout of my blog set up.  Sooner or later I'll get that under control too.

I hope to gather some readers that share the same goal.  We can swap some ideas! 

Until later,
Happy Sewing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In the beginning

Time to begin.  First a disclaimer.  I have never blogged before and so there may be some inconsistencies and layout problems but  I will attempt to work the bugs out as I go along.

I came up with this idea of  blogging to motivate myself to work on reducing my stash and also keep a record of  progress.  The stash has begun to  overwhelm  m e.   (Although, I will never  admit this to my husband.)   I have recently taken stock of  everything  and all I see is a lot work.  I am making a promise to reduce my stash by at least 50% before I purchase another piece of fabric.  The only exception to this rule is if I need a specific fabric to complete a project.

I have not always had this problem.  It all started when I moved to Amish country in Pennsylvania from Utica, NY.  I had never been exposed to such an array of  fabric at discount prices.  There are other temptations as well.  Namely, the two great quilt shows held in the area annually.  One is Quilt Odyssey in Hershey; the other is the quilt show in Lancaster now being sponsored by AQS.  Yes, those are the same folks that do the Paducah show.  It is the  vendor area at these shows that  get me into trouble.  Suddenly I have  to have the latest tools, books and fabric.   Having so many new ideas and kits to go along with the patterns and fabric collections doesn't help either.  I will also admit to some internet shopping as well.

Now, In scheme of things, having seen some other quilter's stashes, mine is smaller.  However, I feel that whatever causes discomfort for me needs to be addressed before I can move forward.  Stash comfort is a very personal thing.  What's out of control for one may be just the beginning for someone else.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Gyleen Fitzgerald for giving me permission to use my stash any way I want to without regard to the original reason (if there was one) it was purchased.  Now, let's get on to the projects.