Friday, 30 October 2009

UFO numero tre

My third UFO for Finn’s UFO challenge, "My innermost space", is finally done. I made it into a pillow; something that will be used and not stashed away.

I can not take credit for the design though, as I saw a picture/poster/something like this somewhere sometime that caught my eye. I was really fascinated by the sense of depht and dimension that was created with simple lines.

When our national quilt association (NQF) issued a contest with the theme “My innermost space”, I decided to try creating a similar effect. I dug out fabrics in different shades of blue and grey (like the original – I think…) and added black for contrast. Then I drew the design on gridded paper varying the strip width between 1, 2 and 3 squares, cut a lot of strips, and started stitching.

I did not fall in love with paper piecing, hence the UFO, but I wanted to see how it turned out, so there was only one thing to do – finish it. It's quilted in the ditch. I had not done that for a while, and forgot how slow you have to sew to get it right. Oh, well...

Now I’m going to add this to amylou’s sew a tell.

The Dream Rocket

I first learned about this amazing art collaborative, The Dream Rocket, today. They will wrap the Saturn V Rocket with 8.000 panels from all over the world. I have reserved my space on the rocket and started dreaming about the 24”*24” Dream Theme Panel I’m going to make that will be exhibited with the 7.999 other panels.

Have a look at their previous projects; so amazing!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A Woman Armed With Needles

For years I have been living a pretty much anonymous quilting life up here, even if my quilts have been travelling all over the world. When I started this blog, I decided to go wherever it would take me, so when I was invited by Dawn at Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed With Needles to write a guest blog, I accepted. I’m so honoured and a teeny tad intimidated, and today the blog is posted. Pop over and have a look…

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

"Chicken run" (2001)

One of my all time favourite quilts surfaced the other day. This is one of two quilts that actually have been on “public” display in our house. It fell off the wall a summer or two ago due to draught, and was put away until we could get it up again. You really need a couple of chimpanzees to climb up the wall (next to the staircase), but as chimpanzees have been a little scarce around our house lately, the quilt is not up yet.

The chicken block is Freddy Moran’s Funky chicken. I found it in this book (if I’m not horrible mistaken; I’ll check …) where it was used in a border, and I fell in love.
The chickens are made from Kona cotton squares, all solids except the sashing between the rows (a fat quarter) and the borders. The top border is a leftover from a hand painted curtain I once started on for daughter.

Inspired by the movie “Chicken run”, I made one chicken going in the wrong direction. If you have seen the movie, you know who I mean.

Big & sweetsmelling

Yesterday I was back in the pool. Yeeey; so much fun, and my fear of having to start all over again was unfounded; I was not in that bad shape after all.

Now, about the heading; last Tuesday I packed my swim gear, ready to go, including the mandatory ripe banana for keeping up your potassium level after exercising. Getting the picture here? When I opened the bag yesterday, the banana was still there, riper than ever, with a sickening sweet smell. My towels and stuff are in a separate plastic bag, but my swimsuit and –cap were reeking.

Well, no time for washing the stuff before class, so I wore the reeking swimwear. The smell came off the suit (replaced by the familiar scent of chlorine), but my head smelled as sweet as ever. Normally I take a quick shower after class and a proper one when I get home. Yesterday, however, my schedule got so tight, that I had to go to the doctor’s office for my flu shot, my hair reeking of banana. Well, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do…

I have got to brag just a little; we have another painter in the family. Our soon to be 2 ½ year old grandson made a painting for the UN day October 24th (is that even a thing outside Norway?). The kindergarten invites family for an art show, and we get to buy the art. The money goes to a child they are sponsoring.

This is our little guy’s art. He is so infatuated with the colour blue. They had offered him lots of other colours, but no, he wanted blue. While all the other kids needed help around the edges, he did it all by himself. Proud grandma? Me??

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Art class no. 3

The third art class was a bit of a struggle. Working on the two pieces from last week, and adding another one with a neutral basis, we experimented with plastic and bubble wrap. I did not care very much for the effect though; I could not make anything work no matter how hard I tried.
The one I overworked last time – I pretty much killed it trying to fix it, although some areas are not that bad. Next week we’ll work with gesso; maybe it will look better then, but I won’t hold my breath.

This is the neutral one. I think I added a little bit too much red (I love that shade of red! Maybe I should bring it when shopping for fabric, I would love to have a fabric like that), so I tried to soften and darken it a few places, but well, maybe next week.

The warm coloured one went back home untouched. I will not ruin the one I actually love…

Rotary cutting basics

I was asked to do a tutorial on the basics of rotary cutting;
Queenmothermamaw; this one is for you:-)

You will find the tutorial here

Rotary cutting 101

Folding the fabric; the key to cutting straight strips
After washing and ironing your fabric, fold it selvage to selvage. The selvages should be parallel, but you might have to adjust the selvage closest to you to the right or the left. The fold should be straight with no puckers or dragging. Just keep adjusting a little bit at the time until the fold looks neat and the selvages are parallel.
The cut edges will often not align as fabrics are not always rolled straight on the bolt.

However, if you only have a 10-12” piece of fabric, fold the other way (the cut edges towards each other) otherwise you’ll waist too much fabric.

When you are happy with the 1st fold, fold it again, selvages towards the 1st fold.
The selvages and 1st fold should be parallel, but as fabric edges are not always perfect, so test it this way:

Place the folded fabric on the table with the selvage/1st fold edge closest to you.

Position a ruler perpendicular on the double folded edge using the grid as a guide.

Using the grid, check that the other edge also is straight.

If not, adjust the last fold by shifting the top layers a bit to the right or the left until the two edges are parallel.

Do the same test as you are cutting strips, and adjust the double fold when needed.

Cutting stripsI cut my fabric with the double folded edge closest to me. This way the fabric will only be crooked one place if the layers shift. These direction are for right handed, do the opposite if you are left handed.

First: clean up the edge
Position a ruler perpendicular on the double fold on the right hand side, using the grid as a guide. Make sure that the whole edge is outisde the ruler.

Hold the ruler steady, and cut the edge off.

If your ruler is too short
Cut as far as you can, then slide the ruler along the cut edge, and continue cutting.

Position the corner of your ruler on the corner of your fabric to check that the angle is 90 degrees; if not, make another cut.

Second: start cutting strips
Turn the cutting mat with your fabric on top the other way, so that the cut edge is on your left.

Depending on how wide your strips shall be (I use 2” here); position the ruler perpendicular on the double fold and with the 2” mark on the cut edge. Make sure it lines up the whole length of the ruler.

Hold the ruler steady, and cut.

If your ruler is not wide enoughUse two rulers side by side. Example: I have two rulers width 6” and 8 1/2” and need an 14” strip.
Position the shortest ruler on the 1/2” mark
then the longest ruler to the right, and cut. I always count the total inches first to make sure I have got it right.

And if your ruler is not long enough
Cut as far as you can. Keeping the left ruler still, slide the right ruler up, and cut the rest.

Unfold the strip to check that it’s straight; if not, adjust the folds again.

Keep cutting until you have the required number of strips. Use your ruler to check that the edges are straight and the angles 90 degrees.

If you need a lot of the same width strips, you can use a post-it note to mark which grid you are using.

Cutting squares or rectanglesPractice cutting using only one strip of fabric; unfold it once, so that you will cut 2 layers.
I position 3 strips on top of each other, so that I cut six layers at a time. My ruler can cut 8 layers, but I find that the layers will move a bit.

First: clean up the edges
You will start with the fold(s) to your left, and the selvages to your right.

Position a ruler perpendicular on the strip, using the grid as a guide.

Hold the ruler steady, and cut the edges off.

Second: start cutting pieces
Turn the strip(s) or the cutting mat the other way, so that the fold is to your right.

Depending on how wide your pieces shall be (I use 2” here); position the ruler perpendicular on the strip and with the 2” mark on the edge (the strip is straight, the photo not).

Hold the ruler steady, and cut.

Keep cutting until you have the required number of pieces. Use your ruler to check that the angles are 90 degrees as you go.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Finish it! Finished!

The third and last update on my Finish it! project “If I lay here”, of which I have done a progress report on a weekly basis. You can read about Nicole’s Finish it! challenge here.

The quilt is painted with fabric paints, quilted with pearl cotton floss, and it’s finished!

I had quilted a part of the painted black area using green thread, and liked the bodyish shape so much, that I used black thread for the rest. For the eyes I chose a lavender thread. The binding is from my Big Bag of Binding; the piece needed just a little touch of soft colours around the edges.

Now I need to choose a new Finish it! project; having to blog about the progress every week gave me the motivation I needed.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Recycling quilt

The theme for show & tell at our guild meeting last week was “recycling”, so I brought this old quilt:
There is no quilting fabric in it, just recycled fabric from a thrift store and some scraps of sheets and one fabric that is a cotton/polyester blend.

When I first started quilting (after the whole IKEA quilting extravaganza), I bought lots of curtains, bed sheets and tablecloths at the Salvation Army thrift shop for experimenting. For some (probably good at the time) reason, I cut most of them into 6 ½” squares. There was some advanced math and recutting involved to get the heart blocks right, but it all worked out in the end.

The purple fabrics are 2 different bed sheets that have been dyed in the washing machine together. The backing is another second hand bedsheet. I have used a polyester batting, which makes the quilt so soft and cuddly.

And on the recycling theme; remember my New Blog's Resolution? As of last Wednesday, I have now recycled 100 quilting magazines; that’s a considerable stack of magazines! I am really pleased getting rid of them, and my guild, group and board members are just as pleased. Win, win, win…

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Big & Shopping

I’m sad to report that while toes and ankle are still firmly attached, I have not been allowed to exercise for the last two weeks. Booooring. Apparently I overdid it the first week (who, me, overdoing something???) because it’s so much fun, and I hate to miss out on any of the program. All the others will now be superfit and I’ll have to start all over again.

Now, my ex-favourite way of self comforting was chocolate, and now that chocolate is history, I have been shopping. Again. The first week it was 2 Esprit bags (my favourite bags that I really do not need), this week it was pearl cotton embroidery floss. I am almost embarrassed to say I bought 125 skeins of pearl cotton in one day. A craft store close to my house offered their stock at 50% off as they are not going to carry pearl cotton any more.

As I have just been hooked on hand quilting with pearl cotton, I got some, then some, and at last some more.

I sure hope I’ll be back in the pool and the gym next week; it’s way too expensive not to…

Thursday, 22 October 2009


I have tried lots of different brushes and stuff to clean the lint out of my sewing machine, but often the result is that I push the lint further down into the dark mysterious place where the engine and stuff are hiding.

This little thing comes from a pharmacy, and is actually meant to use in the ear. It comes with a plug, but take it off, and you have a perfect little vacuum cleaner for your machine. It is long and flexible and fits into all kind of nooks and crannies – and it is really inexpensive! A word of advice: it you want the lint out - use it for suction, not blowing!
I have been asked what I’ll do if it gets full. Well, when I can’t squeeze the lint out, I guess I’ll have to buy another one…

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Art class no. 2

The second art class was so great. We started with just a little bit of theory on how to make a “cross design”, and then started ripping milk cartons and building our designs by taping the pieces to a sheet of water colour paper.

We are going to make 3 paintings using the same design; one starting with cool colours, one with warm, and one with neutrals. The white spaces created by the carton pieces will also be painted.

Yesterday we started two of them:

The cool coloured one. We worked on these for quite a while; long enough for me to start overworking mine, like in the upper right corner. Lesson on how not to overwork a piece learned (this transfers very well into quilting by the way…); I’ll paint over the leaves next time!

The warm coloured one. We used the last 15 minutes filling in the white spaces, and I think that was just enough time on this piece. I was quite happy with result, and think I just want to keep it as it is.

Great Givaway

Just follow the link to Pumpkin Patch Primitive Quiltshoppe...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Finish it; week two

Second update on my Finish it! project “If I lay here”. You can read about Nicole’s challenge here.

More quilting done! The background is almost finished; it’s just a little bit left on the top. I’m using 4 different shades of grey as it was impossible to match the grey I already had. You know the rule: if you can’t match a colour exactly, just add several kind-of-matching-colours, and it will all work out. It really does!

I started quilting the black area yesterday. I did not want to use black thread, so I chose a rather dark green. I tried out several different ways of stitching, but none of them were right, so I decided to use the same stitches I used in the background.

First I was thinking dark red for the eyes, but I’m afraid it will look evil. Maybe purple?

I am regretting my choice of backing fabric. As this was just an experiment, I grabbed a dark red fabric with gold angels, and basted it to the back. Now that I spend so much time and work on it, I wish I had used a nicer fabric; I’m quite attached to this piece.

I still leave a threaded needle in the project so that I’m ready to sew a few stitches whenever I have time...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Woollen WIP

Looking for a new hand sewing piece, I started on one of the woollen tubes from this post. I started knitting them for making bags, so why not make a bag? My intention was always to embellish the wool with, well, something, so I dug out a few scraps in colours that would go with the pinkish centre.

I love appliquéd circles, so using an egg cup as a template; I drew small circles onto fusible web. Fusible web does not really adhere very well to wool, but at least it makes the shapes crisp and keeps the fabric from unravelling.

First I free motion embroidered the circles down using the machine; then added hand stitching around the edges using pearl cotton thread. I just loved working with the different textures, so by the end of the day it was all finished and no more hand sewing left to do.

I have made the lining, so now I only need a pinkish fabric for handles and a binding to cover the raw edges on the top, which will unravel if they are not finished in some way. Having only made one bag before, I wanted some easy pockets inside, so I made a 5”-ish pleat in the lining fabric, ironed the folds, and sew a seam in the middle of the pleat and both edges. Voila – 2 pockets.

My parents are visiting this weekend, and they always love seeing what I’m working on. Mom fell in love with this bag and really, really wants it for Christmas, so I’ll have to start working on another one…

Saturday, 17 October 2009

The coolest fabric ever

This is an absolute favourite of mine. I saw this bed sheets at a shop almost 7 years ago, and just had to buy it. I was going to be an aunt again, so I made a baby quilt with appliqué sheep and these little guys in the border.

I only used the pillow case, so I knew I had the duvet cover somewhere. I looked everywhere when I was making quilts for grandson, but it was nowhere to be found. Then it unexpectedly turned up from I-have-really-no-idea-where when I was looking for UFOs to finish. So, here it is, and I’m not letting it vanish from the surface of the earth again. Now, where did I put it…

Friday, 16 October 2009

Look what I've got

When I was paint shopping the other week, I had an extra 15 minutes on my hand and popped into the Salvation Army thrift shop next door to have a look.

I found this patchwork blanket on a rail; it’s not quilted, so it’s not a quilt – yet. I fell in love with the fabrics and patterns. I have wanted an old quilt for as long as I have been quilting. I even have a couple of books on restoring old quilts.

The log cabin blocks are sewn onto foundations, and then sewn together with the raw edges exposed on the back. It’s not even close to flat enough to just add a fleece backing (which I was hoping for), so I need to do quite a bit work on it first.

The first test was if it would survive a proper washing in the machine, and it did. I even put it in the dryer for a while before laying it on the floor to dry properly. There is a hole in one of the blocks and some of the fabrics, but they did not get any worse during washing.

I think I will take the blocks apart, cut them to size, cover any holes with appliqué, and put the blocks back together again. The maker has put great effort in designing the blocks, because the sort of interlocking pattern is perfect. Some of the fabrics have such fabulous colours and modern look to them.
The “border” is fabric strips that are pieced onto the foundations with the log cabins. I might remove them and add another brown border if it does not ruin the blocks.

Any suggestions to what I should or should not do??