Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Back To "Work"

I told you about breaking my arm/wrist previously here.

I'm happy to report that I've been improving a lot.  I now have a removable splint, which gives me more freedom to do things.  I've been going to physical therapy, and doing stretching exercises at home.  I still have a way to go till I have full mobility and strength, but I'm getting there.

I'll show you the before and after x-rays.


This is the original x-ray.  My arm is lying palm down on the table, and there's really not supposed to be a curve in the forearm like that!




This is the latest x-ray, after the second surgery.  Yes, sometimes once is not enough!  I can now call myself bionic, as I have a metal plate in my arm!  They told me it's not big enough to bother the airport metal detectors.



With all this improvement, I'm now able to sew on my machine.    A few things are difficult, such as changing the foot, because that's usually done with the left hand on my machine.  And my left hand doesn't bend like it's supposed to!  I'm really happy to be back sewing.  I tried a little crocheting, but that didn't work, as I needed to bend my left wrist too much and it was making it hurt. And today I tried some hand appliqué.  I thought I could do that because all my left hand has to do is hold the fabric, right?  Well, it does more than that, apparently.  I took four stitches, which were rather awkward to do, and they looked terrible.  So no, I'm not embroidering yet.

But soon.  I hope.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Are We Crazy, Or Not?

People often say that we quilters are crazy because we buy fabric, then cut it into pieces, and sew the pieces back together again.  Well, maybe I am crazier than usual, because in this case I cut up the fabric, sewed the pieces together, and then I cut up those pieces yet again!

A long time ago, I started working on a hand sewing project. Can't believe it was two years ago!  (2015--check it out here!)

I appliquéd approximately one gazillion (I counted!) circles onto squares of fabric.  Many different fabrics and four different sizes.



Then I needed to cut most of the squares into quarters.  After that I rearranged them all and sewed them back into squares.  On some of the large squares I sewed a small square on as one of the quarters.  (As shown below)  Did that make sense?!? 



This is a great big stack of 130 squares.



It was fun rearranging the squares to sew them together.  I dumped the pieces in a large tote bag, stirred them up, and then just reached in and grabbed one!

Interior of bag.
More interior of bag.



 I pressed the seams so they nested very nicely together when I sewed the second seam.








Now all of the squares have been reassembled, and are ready to be sewn together.  But I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to square up all of the blocks so they will go together easier.

The pattern has a specific layout.  I plan to follow that arrangement guideline when putting the squares up on my design wall.  But then I will step back and study the arrangement to make sure I don't have too many of one color all grouped together.

I'm not at my design wall right now, but I wanted to see what it will look like.  So I laid out a six-by-six grid on the bed.  And I'm pleased!  I really like how colorful and scrappy it is.  Exactly what I wanted!

As you can see, some of the squares are left with one whole circle appliquéd down, not cut into quarters.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Scrubby Notebook

I have found the exact kind of notebook for which I've been wishing!  It is called  Scrubby Notebook and I ordered it from good ol' Amazon.  Mine is 8" x 10," and it also comes in a smaller size.



There are about twenty pages in the notebook, and they are all a shiny plastic material, so the markings can just be rubbed off!  It's like a little portable dry erase board!  Did I mention that I love this!?!




 It comes with a black erasable marker and a large rubber band, which holds the pen securely in the spiral when the book is closed for storage. These pen markings don't rub off onto the side of my hand when I'm using them.



I also ordered a pack of the pens in different colors.



The pens all have an eraser on the end.  It is a fiber piece, and seems a little like old fashioned carpet pads.




There are instructions for cleaning off markings that have been left there for a long time (basically use rubbing alcohol).  I taped this page inside the back cover so it will always be with the notebook.  I know myself well enough to anticipate losing something like this!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Uh-Oh

I had a little mishap a couple of weeks ago which has really cut into my sewing time.  Yup.  A broken arm.  I slipped and fell at home, and landed on my arm.

This is not fun.  And it hurts.  I don't recommend it.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A New Baby In The Family

My NieceStitches and her hubby are going to have a baby!  She is due this July, and knows that it is going to be a boy.  I don't know if they have a name picked out yet.  Need to check on that.

There was a baby shower for her recently back in Iowa, in NieceStitches's home town.  I really wish I could have been there.  But I couldn't, so I made her a small wall hanging for the nursery.

(Apologies for poor photo quality.)

The back of the invitation had the following Bible verse on it:

For this child I have prayed and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.  
1 Samuel 1:27

As soon as I saw that verse, I knew I had to use it in a gift for her.
So I embroidered it on the wall hanging, and appliquéd on a couple of little blue baby foot prints.


I wish them lots of joy with their new son.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Asilomar 2017

Last week I was at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, for another Empty Spools quilting class.  This year I took a class from Pearl Pereira.  Pearl teaches hand appliqué.  She's a very good teacher and I learned a lot from her.  She has worked a long time to perfect her skills, and to find ways to complete her very intricate appliqué designs.  For those of you familiar with hand appliqué, she uses a double freezer paper template and starch to prepare her pieces.

The quilt below is the one we were starting to work on.  More specifically, the basket in the middle.  (And quite frankly, if I get that middle part finished I will be over-the-moon happy!)

There are 50 different flowers in the quilt, one for each state, and each flower appears twice in the quilt.




Here is my basket completed.  (I had to take a picture and send home to MisterStitches, so he could see that I really was working hard!)



Here is one of the times that we were all gathered around Pearl's table, as she showed us a technique.  She is demonstrating how to add a tiny sepal to a flower bud with a small Clover iron.



One of the nice things about this class was that we didn't have to bring our sewing machines, which simplified things a little bit.  And it's a good thing, too, as I wouldn't have had room on my table for a sewing machine!  I had to sort through lots of different fabrics that I'd brought to find just the right piece for my flowers.

My work table.  What a mess!


Not everyone in the class was working on the same thing.  Some were doing an underwater scene.  Tiny, intricate little crab legs!



And look at the detail of the boot and bootlace!



Another underwater scene.



Here I am at lunch with my two table mates:  Rita and Chellie.



And here are the flowers I got completed.    First is the forget-me-not of Alaska.  I've always loved forget-me-nots, and used to have a lot of them growing in my back yard.

These flowers have been formed around the freezer paper templates, then the templates removed, and the various pieces of the "puzzle" are lightly glued together to hold them in place.  Here I have them ironed to some freezer paper to keep them intact.




The California poppy is one of the flowers that I like to feature in quilts.  I just love seeing them in the spring.  It's like seeing the first robin!

BTW, those little flags on the ends of the leaves are supposed to be there.  They will get tucked under when I sew them to the base fabric.



Alabama's flower is the camelia.  These leaves don't have flags because they have rounded ends, not pointed ones.



The Pua Aloalo of Hawaii was a little tricky to do because of that long skinny stamen!  All of these flowers look a little "bare" because they will have enhancing hand embroidery added later.



Friday, April 28, 2017

Hawaiian Applique

First, a little story.  

My family went to Hawaii for vacation several times, when DaughterStitches and SonStitches were quite young.  At the place we stayed, they offered a lot of arts and crafts.  That was right up my alley, so to speak, so I really enjoyed these sessions.  I learned some Luahala weaving, some palm leaf crafts (including origami Christmas ornaments!), lei making, crafts using shells from the beach, and Hawaiian appliqué.  The woman who taught almost all of these was known as Auntie Eleanor.  Auntie was a dear lady, kind and patient and knowledgeable, and reminded me a lot of my own grandmother, who quilted, knitted,  and did a lot of other crafts, too.   As the years went on, Auntie Eleanor retired, but I always remembered her fondly. 

Now forward to a couple weeks ago, as I was looking through a cabinet of UFOs (unfinished objects).  I found this little blue and cream Hawaiian appliqué block.  It had about one eighth of the appliqué completed.




Below you can see the part where the appliqué had been started.  If you look close, you can tell that the stitching has been done by more than one person.  That was how Auntie's sewing sessions worked.  Someone would come to the table and want to learn how to do this.  So Auntie would show them, and they would start sewing.  Often, that person became bored, or frustrated, and left the project.  So there could be quite a few people working on one appliqué block!




I found it very interesting to see where Auntie Eleanor had probably started, then someone else added stitches, then maybe a third person sewed a little bit.  

This is where I finished up the block, using a lighter-colored and lighter-weight thread.


Close-up of appliqué.

The next step is to sandwich it so I can start the echo stitching.  This will probably be a pillow.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Embroidery

I want to tell you about my embroidery teacher.  Her name is Jenny and she lives, literally, half-way around the world.  Yes, in Australia.  Jenny of Elefantz is her blog name, and she creates beautiful embroidery and appliqué designs, many of which she shares for free, while some are for sale in her shop.  You should go there to check out some of her wonderful work.

I've never met Jenny (although I'd sure like to some day!), but she has taught me about embroidery by sharing some of her secrets and methods with me and all her readers.  I've zoomed way in on Jenny's photos, and have learned that she gets such beautiful stitching results by taking very small, short stitches.  

Now I'll show you some of my stitchery.

Disclaimer:  the pen marks will disappear after I iron the pieces!

Another essential bit of information is that each back stitch gets taken in the same stitch hole as the previous stitch.  That sounds rather obvious, but sometimes it's harder than it seems!



Right now I'm working on some of Jenny's patterns, and I'll show you a few photos.  Not every piece is my best work, but I'm getting better.  One thing that I especially admire about Jenny's work is how  smooth, even, and regular are her embroidery curves.  Graceful, even!




A big thank you, Jenny!

Friday, March 3, 2017

On A Shoestring. . .

Hi!  I decided to dress up my tennis shoes a little bit the other day.  I had saved two pins on Pinterest from 

http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2013/03/diy-fabric-shoelaces.html

and

http://www.prima.co.uk/craft/sewing/news/a14763/making-shoe-laces/




It's really quite simple.  I took out my shoelaces, and measured a fabric strip of that length.  The blue ones were narrower  (about 1 1/2") than the green ones (about 2").  I had to piece the lengths of fabric, which I did with a diagonal seam, as in quilt binding.

I ironed them length-wise, then folded the raw ends in and sewed close to the edge.  One site said to fold the ends together tightly and zig-zag over it to finish off the end.  


I was a little worried about how I would get these "chunky" laces through the holes in my shoes.  But between a tweezer pulling, and a skewer pushing, it wasn't too hard.  So for one pair I simply used a pinking shears to cut a diagonal end.  



Tying a little know near the end of the lace might be cute, too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Quilt Retreat 2017

 Our annual quilt retreat started on Monday.  This year we are 21 women who all love fabric and quilting and eating.  Here's a photo of a portion of our workroom.




We have seasonally appropriate centerpieces on our eating tables.




Also, appropriate cocktail napkins.



Part of our snack table, before happy hour begins!



I placed this sign on our outside door.



The coffee bar.




Now for a little bit of our work.  (You'll see more in a later post.)

What do you see in this quilt?  Dark cats?  White cats?  No cats?



Here's a close-up to help you see.  I think this quilt is amazing.



This year we are again making squares for a Quilt of Valor.  (See post from last year's retreat.)  Each person used two 10" squares of contrasting fabric to make two half-square triangles.  I love that there are so many ways to arrange HSTs.  

I used light green flannel for my design wall, so please disregard that odd color!




Another arrangement.




I've been working on quilting last year's Quilt of Valor.  (I know--how can it have possibly taken me a whole year to get it put together??!!??  I have no good answer.)  I'll show more later, but I'm doing some straight line quilting, using a decorative stitch, and those curves inside the square parts.