Monday, 2 May 2016

Unplugged: Improv Flowers

One of the things I would like to learn is needle turn appliqué and planned to watch some videos on YouTube over the Easter break. As I said in this post, our WiFi was less than cooperative, so I started on a non-needle turn hand appliqué project instead which I finished today. 

With only scissors and a regular paint stick at hand, I cut freeform pieces from some scraps, pre-creased the folds, and glued them onto a basted background. The background is a piece of a thrifted shirt with a lovely woven pattern.

I only had a few colours of thread, but practise is practise, so I stitched down one shape after the other, quite enjoying the rhythm and watching the shapes take form. Looking at it, I can tell that I got better at tightening the stitches and smoothing the curves as I worked my way through the pieces.

With so much hand work put into it, I wanted to hand quilt it, also something at which I would like to get better. I outlined the appliqué with heavy weight blue thread, and quilted lines on both sides of the basting stitches before removing them.

The quilt was bound with a flowery grey binding from The Big Box of Binding before diving into my button box.

It was rather difficult to restrain myself from adding too many buttons because they all looked great, but I was good, I stuck to the plan only embellishing the flower heads.

I am very happy with the result of my hand appliqué practise, particularly with the improv quality, and will most certainly give hand appliqué another go.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The TriRecs Project; Unicorns

Welcome to another chapter of the TriRecs Project! I’m not even half done with posting my TriRecs experiments in case you’re wondering. You can see the previous posts here, including cutting and piecing tips.
One of the great things about doing an experiment is that you get to name your elements as you go. Whether it already has been given a name or not, does not matter, just pick any name and go with it.

The Unicorn shape is so named as it has only one corner and only needs one corner. In Nowegian a unicorn is called enhjørning – onecornered. Perfect, right?

A Unicorn + a Corner can form a square or a rectangle, and you have both Lefts and Rights Unicorns.

I have made templates for cutting my blocks; it’s quick and pain free. You can make your template from almost anything. My material of choice for this project has been white fabric with a high thread count; partly because the markings show better on pictures. I think a sturdy non-woven interfacing would be even better, so I’ll go with that the next time.

Cut a square or rectangle the size of your unfinished unit; this rectangle measures 4 ½”*6 ½”. Draw a line marking the ¼” seam allowance. I first drew mine all the way around, but you only need to mark one corner like this – ¼” from the two edges.

Place your Tri tool so that the dotted line intersects with the drawn corner.

Cut off the corner and you have a 6*4 Unicorn. This one is a Left (the 90 degree angle is on the left side).

A Left 4*4 Unicorn

Cutting Unicorns:
Place the template on a (here 4 ½”) strip of fabric, 

align the edge of the ruler along the side, and cut. 

The template can be used on both sides to create mirror images, or you can cut with two layers facing each other.

Playing with Unicorns
You can make all kinds of fun blocks with Unicorns:
Two Unicorns and a triangle

Unicorn squares

4 Unicorn squares

Adding plain squares

Adding half square triangles

Sky is the limit!

Next up: Go big

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Taking inventory

Every now and then I feel the need to take inventory of where I am and make a plan for where I’ll be going next. For quite a while now, I have been starting lots of new projects, trying different things. Last year, for instance, when I was feeling not so well, I pieced tops. Sometimes piecing seems less challenging than actually finishing quilts, doesn’t it? All that wrestling of huge chunks of fabric and batting and all can be physically exhausting – or maybe that’s just me.

And all those scraps I have been piecing together just to get my mojo back or to get rid of some of those ever growing piles of scraps? They can be made into anything. Anything!
My design wall back in January; these are now stashed away in a shoe box but will soon be made into something colourful and fun.

Anyway, finished tops and works in progress have been piling up all over my studio, and I feel ready to get back to them. Quite a few have been finished already and sent off to my magazine editor, which feels great, but there are still many more just waiting for their turn in the limelight.
(My design wall got full back in January, so I taped a piece of fleece to the wall. Three months later and it's still hanging there..)

I always like to think of my ongoing projects in a positive light; they are treasures on which I can enjoy working when I feel like it. I have kept a Treasure box for years, which I posted about here, and have made lots of projects from its content over the years. Well, my current treasures won’t fit into a box, so I keep them on a desk in my studio. To get an easy overview, I decided to keep a record. I found an unused diary from 2011 and have been writing down all my projects, one page for each project. 

I write down ideas, plans, progress etc on each project, and when a project is ready to leave the studio (I stitch my bindings at home), I rip the page out and throw it away. That ripping sound is rather cathartic.

I’m not making promises which I not intend to keep, so I’ll not say that I won’t start any new projects until I have finished all of them, but working with my purple book has put forgotten treasures back in my mind. This is not a small task as things slip out of there way too soon as I move on to the next idea and the next and the next. Now I want to work on them, I get new ideas, and I have things ready to bring to guild meetings. No more throwing together a new project half an hour before the meeting starts; I’ll just take a look in my purple book to see what I would like to do today. Something small? Playing with blocks? Free motion quilting? Binding? Piecing? Well, I have got them all. Quilting large quilts is, by the way, the perfect task when I have company in my studio; chatting with someone makes time and miles of stitching fly.

How long I will keep my record – well that depends on how long it works for me. All I know is that for now, I’m gaining momentum.

How do you keep up with your projects? Do you work on only one project at the time, do you keep several at different stages, or are they ganging up on you and taking over your studio too?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Improving: Strings

Tonight is the third meeting of our little improv study group and we will be evaluating our string sets. Evaluating is an important step in the process; looking at what we learned, what we enjoyed, what we found challenging.

When evaluating the previous score, seeing the Floating squares side by side was quite interesting. We moved them around, observing how they changed hanging this way and that.

For the next score, Strings, we agreed on these restrictions:
One string set in colour 1, strings narrower than 2”
One string set in colour 2, strings from 2” and up
One string set with both colours, strings of all widths.
All three string sets to be width of fabric and larger than 12”.

I was the one who insisted on the 2” width as I am not a fan of piecing long, long narrow strips, and whatdoyouknow, that’s what I have been doing. My blue strings kept turning out 1“and less, I had to really focus not to do it.

Piecing narrow strips together really takes a lot of time and concentration. After sewing all of them into pairs, I cut wider strips form a solid blue to alternate with the pieced strings. I am afraid I would never reach the 12” mark otherwise. It felt good moving on to the oranges.

As it turns out, my pieced string panels are way bigger than required 12”. The blue is 26”, the orange 29 1/2" and the orange/blue a whopping 43 ¾”. 

Lots of oldies and not all goodies, but as a whole they look rather great I'd say.

Look at that tiny little light wedge, It's not even a 1/4", maybe 1/8" at the end.

I cannot wait to see where they will lead me; the first step will be started on tonight’s meeting.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Zip it - again!

I have slowly made my way through my zipper stash until a point where there were very little pillow sized zippers to chose from. Not bad from a recovering zipper challenged I’d say.

I hate to have to run out and buy stuff when I’m working on a project, so I like to keep a healthy stash of regular supplies on hand. In fact, it saves me money. Not only will I get discounts when buying larger quantities, but it also keeps me from buying off-list items which we all know is a problem when entering a fabric shop. Or maybe that’s just me??

Anyway, the first time I ordered 100 or even 50 zippers, it felt almost wasteful, but that was before I learned how to add zipper closures on pillows and pouches and pencil cases and this and that. Zippers are awesome!

This is my latest order; 275 zippers from Zipit on Etsy. Aren’t they just glorious!

There are 100 18” zippers, 100 12” zipper, 50 8” zippers and 25 7” and 8” zippers. The smaller ones were on sale and now I don’t have to chop off my long ones to use in small projects. Every now and then I turn into a pouch making one-woman factory, and now I’m all set for the next time whenever that may be. You can see some of my old zippered projects here.

I am still hanging on some metal teeth zippers which I picked up at a guild meeting where a fellow member brought her late mother’s seamstress’ stash. 

I am sure there are many ways I could use them, particularly this pretty orange one.

I’ll just keep storing them as long as there is room in my box. 

In case you’re wondering, I still get the lid on.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Unplugged: Colour study

I have been away for a few days visiting my family in Lillehammer. My parents have moved into their new home, and I was very happy to bring them their housewarming gift which has kept me rather busy lately. I’ll post pictures as soon as I upload them.

My little colour study from Easter break is finished though.

It is hand quilted and has a scrappy binding.

I like the rough texture of the thrifted shirt background peeking through the scraps.

I left a 3M hook on the wall after taking down the Christmas decorations, and have been displaying small quilts as I work on them.

I quite like this one, it’s very sunny and bright, and all done by hand except for attaching the binding on the front.

Note to self: Study how to hand quilt properly. I’m sure there are better ways than my sore-fingered-and-quite-slow one.

How do you even put a regular binding on a quilt all by hand??

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Bob bob

Every now and then I sort through my bobbins and rearrange them. Over the years, I have accumulated quite a stash. I have purchased a few of the black and white pre-wound bobbins from Janome (12 bobbins in each packet), and one of the great things about these is that the empty bobbins can be used over and over again.

This is my stash post rearranging. I have some bobbins stored in the machines’ tool boxes, some in my to-go kit, and some in my hand sewing kit, but the majority of them is here. 

The big box has been with me for years; once filled to the rim, it now contains my pre-wound bobbins only. Most of them are cotton threads which I have used for quilting. They have been sitting here for years as I tend to forget them when I start quilting a new project.

The bobbinsaver holds my piecing threads – black, “neutral” (light blue but it works like grey), and white. The darker blue is my boys-pants-knees-thread which is frequently in use. I have one more of these rings somewhere, probably holding more bobbins.

The smaller box contains the rest of my wound bobbins. I often wind way too many bobbins in the beginning of a project, and the leftovers are set aside for next time. 

Having this many bobbins available is a luxury really; I remember winding thread upon thread on my mother’s sewing machine, not the best solution when the one you need is the third layer down. 

The special threads, which are prone to unwinding, are secured with small rubber bands from when my daughter had retainers.

(Same box, different angle, what can I say, I love the rainbow of colours)

I keep all my almost empty bobbins right next to my machine. I use them whenever I don't mind changing bobbins often, like when piecing scraps or basting, or when I need only a little thread. My goal is to empty them so they can get back in the circle of bobbins.

My empty bobbins are stored in an old button tube that I got at a yarn outlet.

There is room for lots of bobbins in one tube, and I have many more tubes if ever needed.

I have recently tried winding a few bobbins with this gigantic cone of not quite black bobbin thread which I picked up at a thrift store; 

15.000 metres on one (new) cone thank you very much.

A regular big spool of thread looks like a miniature compared to this one.

The thread is quite thin so I get a lot of thread on one bobbin. It curls though; when pulling a length you get a bird’s nest, or a bird’s head like here. I'm not sure why it does this, but hopefully it will stitch allright anyway.

Winding the first bobbin, the thread got spun so tightly that it curled up on itself, so I turned the cone upside down and that worked much better.

I’m planning to use it while free motion quilting this quilt which is next in line. I’ll probably try it out on a test cloth first to see how the thread tension works with cotton thread at the top and this at the bottom. Time will tell.

Thanks for stopping by!