Friday, February 28, 2014

Guild Name Tag

I have finally been going back to my local quilt guild and they do a drawing each month if you have a name tag.   It still counts if you just stick on a piece of masking tape, but let's face it...that's not the point and it's NO FUN!  I slapped together something the morning of the last meeting that was so far below my perfectionist standards that I was embarrassed to wear it.

The front was okay, but the back demonstrates why I loathe machine sewn bindings. {I know they work great for some people and can look nice, but I loathe them for me}  I love the look of a hand sewn binding and nothing will change that...Witness my terrible attempt:

I knew I was going to have to put in some real effort and make something I could wear proudly in future meetings. The good news is that my husband and I will hit our 10 YEAR anniversary in March and the traditional gifts for 10 years happens to be tin/aluminum. My husband was very easy to convince {even if it may not be entirely accurate}that a Janome 350e embroidery machine contains aluminum or tin in some way.  haha!  I thought about getting something much newer and fancier, but in the end, it has the hoop size I need for the projects I like to do, and it takes a usb so I can use new designs.  I have never had an embroidery machine before either and wanted a good starter machine without spending a fortune.

My very first practice with the new machine came out lovely and I thought it was fitting to use it as my nametag as a keepsake :)

Not perfect, but at least I know I put more effort in.  The plus is I can always make a better one when I learn more about my new machine :)   Which makes me wonder, where do you get your embroidery designs?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Flirt Panel Progress

    You know those rare, almost mythical days,  where your kids play nicely, smile a lot, and share their toys 90% of the time?  (100% is too much to ask for, even for perfect days)     Anyway,  we had one of those days! This, of course, means that I got more quilting done in a few hours then I normally can in three days. Hurray!

In the spirit of efficiency, I won't write a novel today about everything I did. I'll just show you.. Here's some photos of the progress on the Flirt Panel. Its been so much fun to work on and share.

All that I have left is the rest of the coral background filler.

Hopefully the next time I am posting it will be of my quilting finish. :)
Happy quilting !

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Hiding Your Threads When Quilting

I've been quilting away on my Flirt Panel for the last week or two whenever I have a chance, and I realized that I am dealing with an immense amount of start and stops with my thread.  There's no way to travel stitch from spot to spot on this panel, and I wanted to use similar colors to enhance each section. I was worried that contrasting thread color could be distracting here.   Being very careful with your thread starts and stops can make all of the thread changes invisible and make your quilts last much much longer. I first heard about this method on the Free Motion Quilting Project.  Here's some step-by-step photos of how I hide my starts and stops.

  • First, lower your needle and then turn your needle dial to raise it back up catching your bobbin thread in the process. Then lightly tug your top thread and it will pull a loop of bobbin thread.
  • Then you can pull them back and drop your needle to begin quilting. Just be sure to hold them out of the way for your first few stitches.

  • After stitching for a bit and moving a few inches from my start spot, I like to tie off my start threads. Some people prefer to do this last, but I always do it fairly quickly to be sure I don't run over them later.   To hide my threads in the quilt layers, I use an Easy Threading needle, or cheater needle.  Its a needle with a slotted top that you can easily pop your threads into.  I found these at hobby lobby.

  • Then I tie a small knot in my start threads, and use the needle to pull the knot close to the fabric.

  • Then tuck your needle into the middle of the quilt, being sure not to go through the backing. Hook your thread into the needle top and pull it through making sure the little knot pops into the layers.
  • Clip your threads close to the quilt top. If they still show a little just give the spot a tiny massage and they should sneak back under the top layer.

I use this method on traditional quilts and on pieces like this that are intended for a wall or table top.  Either way, the quilts will hold up much longer.  There is nothing more devastating then when a loved quilt that was given to you as a gift, pops a seam on the first wash.

Happy quilting everyone!  Another color change is in my immediate future :p
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stuck on fillers

I am still slowly working around my Flirt Panel, and the hearts and flowers were on my agenda for today. I did a curved echo in the Heart frame pictured below, and a little spiral in the flower center. Then some outlining of the little bumpy lines around the shapes.  They were actually a little tricky to quilt on since they are so small, but slow and steady was the way to go. I stopped often to adjust my hands.  Later today, I will finish the outline on this flower and move on to the red flower connected to it.

  There are days were I can barely contain the need to stitch the designs in my head. Then there are days like today where I WANT to stitch, but I get a quilter's block. Smack dab in the middle of working on the first heart, I hit a big creative wall! A brick one!
  I spent a few hours pouring through the interwebs and searching for quilting designs, only to get overwhelmed by the possibilities.  So finally I have decided to do a micro-stipple in the heart center and MOVE ON.  

That's exactly what I am going now to do.  Hope you are all making decisions better then I am today :)
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Happy Quilting!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Flirting with Quilting

Something must be said for fabric panels like the one I am working on (The Moda Flirt panel by Sandy Gervais)    It turns out that using a panel like this can be completely refreshing and a spark for quilting inspiration!  I added a very simple pieced border and basted it last Monday which I talked about here.  Then I spent some time practicing quilting designs.

Its so easy to let doubts creep up into your mind and make you pick out every little shaky stitch or imperfection.  Notice my blog name?    I have made a pledge to get better by NOT picking everything and living organically with my abilities.  I needed to remind myself of this when I finally began quilting.

Here's a peek at the panel so far.  I started out working on the birds, since they are in a nice central location. I did a very minuscule half circle stack in the first bird, and a wiggle in the other.

I almost beat myself up when quilting over the red feather lines in the first bird. Its tough to follow such a thin line in bright red. Get a grip Kelly! Its not the end of the world.
These little birdies are so sweet and cute. It's so much fun quilting this way and I feel my imagination soaring with quilt design possibilities.

Now off to tackle the hearts....

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(PS. While I try to keep my blog separate from my Etsy shop, I am offering 15% off your purchase this week only with coupon code: BEMINE   I thought it was worth sharing} :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Practice Quilting

Quilting, like any skill takes practice.  I'm sure there are naturals out there who sit behind their machines and sew like they have magic pixie dust in their fingers, and while I may believe in pixie dust, I can't seem to find any.   SO...I practice.  All those batting scraps from past projects get saved and practiced on.   Even before tackling a project with a basic stipple, I like to get a few good wiggles in first. Get loose...meaning my arms, shoulders and brain!  Speaking of getting loose, practice stitching also helps you configure your thread tension BEFORE working on your main project.

 It's 100% necessary to do a few stitches to determine if your machine's tension is right, if nothing else.  Every time I sew on a different project, my thread may react differently. I recommend doing a test run to be sure everything is working how it should. Trust me, finding out later that your bobbin tension is off, AFTER quilting for 10 minutes is heartbreaking, and picking out 10 minutes of stitching can take hours and hours.

I practiced some different filler designs to use in the background of my Flirt quilt top which I talked about basting here.   I wanted something the would give some nice texture without really grabbing the eye away from the lovely Panel.  I tried some loops and hearts to stay with the Hearts motif in the panel but it felt too distracting and open. Something to play with more later...maybe in the mug rugs.

Then I found Brain Coral by Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project and liked the way I felt stitching it. Practice helped a lot.  I was very stiff at first, but by the end, my stitches were smoother and my echos were better.

Now I am ready to go quilt.  Thanks for stopping by!
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Basting a Quilt

Basting is such an important part of quilting, but often gets overlooked and avoided.  It is cetainly not the best job for those of us who seek a creative outlet.  The best thing to do is find what works for you and get a good basting routine so that you can just DO it, and get it done quickly and properly.

I currently use curved safety pins which make things quite a bit easier on the hands.  The pin will practically push itself right back up through the quilt and it saves a lot of time, and rippling. See the difference? The curved pin is on the left.

I try to place my pins about 4 inches from each other across the surface of the quilt top, but for the project I am working on today, I am going closer at about 2-3 inches apart. The fabric is Flirt by Sandy Gervais and it is so silky smooth that even after a good starch is likes to move a bit on me.

I won this fabric in a Blog giveaway about a year ago. I blogged about it here.  I've had this sitting on my "favorites" shelf this whole time, dreading ever cutting into it. It was time. :p  It's just so sweet, and I can't wait to finish basting and start quilting today!

Have fun creating today. Please be sure to check my sidebar for buttons to all my favorite Linky Parties.