Monday, October 26, 2015

Wisha, Wooda......

The first GRMQ retreat is next week and it's my first over night travel for quilting trip.  Caroll D has lured me into Happy Scrappers, so I've become accustom to packing for a few hours of sewing - but two days....oh my.  My 24" ruler is too long for any bag I  as well as my portable ironing pad.  Then to pack my sewing basket holding my cutter, pins, threads, etc. space is needed.   While I'm only good for about 2 -21/2 hour sew sessions, my list of projects is not only long, its very thick and heavy.  To eliminate several trips of unloading a large bag is needed.  Ironically Costco has a freezer bag that can fit everything, however, it looks like small animals may have attacked the outside of lays in the garage.  Thus, the "I can do that" attitude began.

With scrap pieces left over and not put away yet, I decided to make a retreat bag from my latest quilt.

 Here's where the Wisha, Wooda enters.  I wanted the bag to be padded and stiff, to protect my long ruler.  It's padded everywhere but only stiff on the sides, bottom and most of the back.  The bottom, back and top flap are one piece.  The fusible, stiff interfacing was limited, so I guessed at how to place it.  The front contains just batting.  Thus, I now wish it had stiffener as well.  Oh well!  It will still work for my needs.
 While the facings are thick, space is consumed by the thick seams, but the ruler can lay flat rather than on end, which I think will be okay.  My ironing pad/cutting board makes a great bottom and allows for its carrying handle.   With the plastic side down, waterproofing is there anyway.
For some reason I got lost along the way and  made 4 handles, when two sufficed.  I opted to attach all four and tie a knot in the center of each pair.  This way I can shoulder the bag or shorten it by a new knot for hand carrying. (Don't you just delight at how well I justify my mistakes, and I've never kissed the Blarney Stone).  While making the handles I eventually recalled a trick learned 30+ years ago from Stetch n Sew.  

For those persons unfamiliar with Stretch n Sew, it offered great methods of sewing knits during the 1960''s-late 1990's.  Short cuts and learning how to size patterns to our imperfect bodies was wonderful!  

 When making handles, belts or ties, (1) get a string. ribbon or a piece of fabric thinner and longer than what's being made.  Above, is a very long piece of twill tape ......
 (2)  Prepare the handle to the method you prefer, with right sides together.  I batted my handles so the outside fabric is on the bottom and batting on top.
 (3) Once folded in half, run the twill tape the full length of the handle, with a small bit extending on one end and a very long piece at the other end.  The twill tape runs along the fold.
 It's hard to see, but I've sewn across the top of the handle, then down the long side.

(4)  When done sewing the long side you're ready to pull the right sides out by pulling the long end of the twill.  It may take a few seconds to get it started but once you get the 'touch' the right sides show very quickly.   when turned carefully snip the "puller" and work the corners to a point.  It took Handle #1 about twenty minutes to pull through because laziness kept me from getting up and finding a puller.....I made and turned the other three handles in far less time than the first 20 minutes.  

While I wish I had waterproofed the outside, the bag will work fine next week.  I'm so excited to be on the Big lake for a weekend.  If interested in a day of sewing follow this link to our Facebook page outlining the  $10 fee and food requirements.  

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Retreat Time is coming.....

If you're looking for more time to sew, day slots are still open for The Grand Rapids Modern Quilters first retreat.  Remember?  This is the weekend, for those of us staying over, on Lake Michigan!  If this Michigan weather holds, it should be gorgeous for both sewing and walking the beach!  If you're interested send a Messenger message via Facebook to Kathy Nelson.  GRMQ has a Facebook page.

Since the retreat is Halloween weekend, I have some Witches Brew and special paper plates just for the occasion.  I'm making a travel bag for my mats and rulers, fashioned after a large Costco freezer bag.  Will let you know how it turns out later this week.....

The Stitched Studio Beehive meeting is Monday....this group is so much fun!  The amazing combinations of fabrics is inspirational.  Here's my block.  Danielle allowed us to choose two fabrics from her stash (what a great way to use fabrics) and instructed us to add a solid or a metallic fabric.  I have no metalic, so I stepped out on the pink.  She is decorating her sewing room to be very girly!  Had to be a pink, right?

We share our photos on Instagram during the month.  Instagram is another new technology app that is fun and so much easier than Facebook.  Just post pictures, with or without hashtags* (specific identifiers).  Look for us, Stitched Studio GR Modern Bee, on your tablet or smart phone! I follow NatGeo and the ISS (international space station)...amazing photos everyday.

If you were raised thinking your house had to be clean before you could settle into sew, the following may be the blame....enjoy!

Have a great day!

*  In case you wonder if I ever proofread, I do try.  Today I did catch an autocorrect....hastags became hostages!  LOL

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Sun has been shining!

While Michigan can have its blurry and dreary days, this past week or so has been wonderful!  Really, too pretty and nice out to sew.  So.......

Monday was my autumn to do list!.  Since I have told you enough on this quilt, but just had to show this newly washed quilt blowing in the fall winds.  The tree colors all around were and still are perfect and the billowing quilt just made life seem more wonderful than it is!  To continue the country and cozy feeling of quilting and all that goes with, I decided to do my local farm tour for fall produce.

While not in order (still learning this pic stitch app) here are my favorite local farms.  Upper left is a Brechting.  Their family farm store is on 6 Mile just west of Alpine.  The bags of onions and potatoes are common there.  They grow the longest carrots I have ever seen, all for a $1/bag!  The peppers are common at Under the Pines, on Alpine just north of 7 Mile.  They open in the early summer, have several stands in the markets around Kent County, but here is the Mothership!  I have never seen so many variety of peppers representing several ethnic group favorites....Hungarian, Hispanic etc.  While not a big pepper eater I LOVE the colors.  Lower left is the sweetheart of all "roadside" stands, Bernie Klein.  The Happy Apple needed new digs this year as their farm is in Ottawa County. Bernie has been running the family stand for years....along with daughter-in-law Tammy and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.  The corn shown is from there.  Her son owns the farm and had an empty piece of land and decided to try a late planting.  The corn was wonderful....a summer treat in late October.  The colors along Walker Road were magnificent!   Oh!  Brechtings have had their own brussel sprouts for sale.  Unlike the Urban Market farmers, they won't sell their sprouts until after a frost....they're sweeter then!  All three families:  The Kleins' Breathings and Homrichs have been long standing leaders in Kent and Ottawa counties and also the farming community.

 My haul for trip, after about an hour, with the dogs of course, is shown.  The pumpkins are now pies and the apples are baked into two Amish Pies and two loaves of apple bread.  The apples were so large this year, an absolute delight to peel, that I have enough for two more pies!  Tomorrow!
As this week has continued....a wild turkey from up the block sauntered down my way.  A neighbor walking her dog rang my door bell for us all to watch glide over the yard and cross the street! He, the turnkey, was unfazed by my barking dogs and the cars!  Thanksgiving is coming folks!  Ever try wild turkey?  So good....not tame like our traditional store bought kind.

Also, as a follow up to my QAYG method, I found this video, I hate watching these things-but she's pretty good - and I like her method....she abuts the seams....The Gourmet Quilter! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


It's very common now for the quilt bloggers offering a quilt as you go( QAYG )method.  I have tried several methods, including the early method that keeps the back looking more traditional - one piece.  My newest journey began watching my buddy Caroll D teach her class on QAYG ala The Quilting Edge technique.  I just started with this method wanting only the sash joining process.  I did it on this quilt:

The other two tops from this BOM experimented with various sash widths.  These quilts have added strips on the front and back by cutting batting strips to size and adding strips to cover.
 The top selection has narrow strips whereas this quilt has wide strips.  The back below worked out the best as I limited my choice of fabrics and thread choices.

Recently, I've had larger quilt tops to complete and really wanted to work the technique a bit.  Larger batting strips are far easier to cut than 3/4" strips.  It's a great way to use scraps but so annoying with 20 squares or more to connect.  Traditional sashing of 2" would make the quilt larger than I wanted.

On my Beehive quilt, below, I wanted to play more and experiment with several things:  stitches, fabrics and techniques.  The top's connectors, using the seam allowance as batting, are attached with no top stitching, similar to how sashing is normally attached.  On the back, however, only one edge can be attached from the underside.  One side must be topstitched.  In the original or "traditional" method taught, this edge of the strip is hand stitched. The traditional method doesn't have the long line of stitching showing, but wasn't going to hand stitch all these blocks.  I used my machine, hoping to disguise the  bobbin stitching-now on the right side- with overall quilting. Well, nothing is quite that simple in my world.  The quilting on the top, in this case, involved decorative stitches around each of the circles.  What to do with the somewhat, mostly straight line, now showing....use matching thread.  It provides a border, of sorts, to the seams.

 With the Circle Quilt narrow strips of 1 1/2' of a fabric were cut with both long edges pressed to the center.  This strip was then placed over the space created by the topside's sashing strip.  It worked ok, but the iron's steam was a bit too hot on the finger tips.  Thus, the method I used below was devised.

Unlike the other quilts, this top had a very defined pattern and did not require any top sashing.  Yeah! I quilted as I goed,  QAYG, all three layers, in blocks of four.  Each four patch was about 18".  The quilting required more planning than I usually do.   All in all the machine quilting was no more than one long row of four four patch blocks.   The large squares I practiced free motion with my new machine - not so good, but the thread is hidden (learned that lesson finally).   Now for the backside.

 I alternated four fabrics behind the front's four patches.  The connecting sashing matched one of the backings, as shown in these two pictures.

Since I used the seams allowances, 1/2" (two 1/4') as my batting, I just needed to add a strip.  The picture below shows the strip topstitched.
While the strip may not be as smooth as other methods, I enjoyed this method, it met my emotional standard.

Here's how I made the strips:

 Steam press the seams open and make them flat as possible.
 Cut a strip long enough for your block 1 1/2' wide.  Since I'm not as an exact sewer that I dream I am, I strive to make things to work.  Sew the strip, wrong sides together with 1/4" seam allowance. While opening the tube by pressing the center, align it to the strip's edge as shown above.
 With your flattened tube strip, trim the allowance down to 1/8".  At first I left the 1/4" and threads from the edge peeked out .  Yuck.  The trimming moves the raw edge away from the topstitching edge.
With the right side of the strip up, lay it on top of your flatten seam allowance and top stitch close to each edge,  to the end.  (This strip is perpendicular to the seam it will cover for illustration purposes only.)

Here's a completed block also showing, look closely, that because of the pattern on the topside, this vertical stitching won't really conflict.  

Lessons learned:
  • QAYG will make the topside blocks smaller.  I chose to space the vertical quilting the width of my walking foot.  This pattern has considerable blank space and required something.  The angle of the patterns also led to straight line quilting.  The heavily quilted blocks differed in size with the less quilted blocks.
  • If to do over?  Space vertical lines further apart....this quilt is really heavy!
  • Limit thread color choices.  On the Circle Quilt I was changing thread colors endlessly since I was rotating three fabrics and the top had several background colors, too.  I really think I wore out a seam ripper on that quilt.  On the Star quilt I used either white or a lime green.  Even then when applying strips, make sure the bobbin thread matches the top background fabrics....
  • The smaller quilts, like the very top examples, work better for some one like me who reaches the need to be done....more than anything.  
I hope this experience of experimenting helps you try QAYG in some method.  Just Google QAYG and you'll have severals tutorials from which to choose.

In case you're looking for a fast quilt, this pattern by Amy Gibson of Hickory Dickory Dock, has it now on her website.  I purchased it as a kit.  In case you're wondering, I have a good amount of fabric left over.  Not enough to make several other quilts, but enough that I think I'll go back to The Quilting Edge and try that method.....great for scraps of all sizes.  The kit was generous, but not too generous....just right.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Third Wednesday Quilting...

For over six years now a group of us, all strangers in the beginning, started quilting together making Civil War Commemorative Quilts.  While I'e never been a lover of the CW quilts or fabrics, I did like the block of the month offered way back when. My techniques and knowledge increased tremendously.   All of them told a story each month, highlighting the feats of women.   However, many huge quilt BOMs later, we still meet, all friends and quilting buddies.  I've shown Pauline's quilts in the past, but she just keeps on kicking our quilts for her family.

The top and lower picture is a quilt she design and made for her new grandson, 5 months old!  She found the logos and hand traced them.  Much of her appliqué is hand done.

 Here Pauline is showing her use of 30"s material....just using it up!  This quilt might also be from the 1930's in real time.  She's been trying to fix and finish a top she was given.

 In addition to Pauline, Linda L joined other new friends on the third Wednesday, and did a BOM led by Sue and Marilyn ( 3rd Wednesday veterans) called El's Kitchen.  Since I sort of wished I had done this BOM I am doing a new one starting in October.  Sue and Marilyn are again leading a class on Vintage Farm Quilts.  I chose the 30's fabric as it is brighter than the alternate.  
How are all these selections modern, you ask?  Maybe not what you may think, but promoting what we all do is important for all of us to succeed, no matter our's that Liberal Arts education I had popping up agin....  I'm hoping Pauline will have her family quilt, with at least 20 or more old photos on the top completed!

Do any of you have a pattern for the Japanese apron shown here?  I would love to make one as it doesn't require ties or snaps, just over the head....

Friday, October 9, 2015

Our own Art Prizes.....

Grand Rapids is now winding down its Art Prize 7.  For those not familiar, Art Prize, allows artists of all types to showcase their creations around Grand Rapids.  This year over 1500 entries in five categories covered our downtown, near downtown area plus the beautiful Meijer Gardens and the newly added Granville Avenue area.  I think, overall, approximately $250,000 or more in prize money is awarded to the top vote getting artist.  Juried artists receive a generous cash award as well.  At Tuesday's GRMQ meeting we had our own art showing of the quilts made by members and guests.

Two children swinging on a rope into the Ford Museum's pool area....note the flip-flops.

Now ours!
 Lynda P shows us her Row by Row quilt!  Really cute!

 Kathy N shows us another one of her cool modern designs
Lindsey cut the blocks she won to make this interesting and neat quilt.  
 Lyndsay also was practicing her free motion on placemats.
Nancy is keeping the geese flying with this great quilt.  I missed whether is was a kit or scrappy.  Either way it is a masterpiece in my mind....all those points!
 A new Halloween table topper using milder colors than the traditional bold oranges and blacks.
 Kelly is a member of the Modern Beehive hosted by Stitched Studio.  This quilt will be a summer quilt for her bed.  She gave us the gray and the squiggle fabric.  
 Jan created this art quilt.  The quilting is all programmed as were the flowers in the center.
 Marcia, above and below, shows first her block luck.  I think she won these at our meeting a couple months ago.  She mixed them up as they were a bit boring.  I love how she added the horizontal brown bars. 
 Many of us have seen quilts with all this feathering and coloring.  We also were very surprised that Marcia colored the feathers!  I think we need a special Saturday afternoon class teaching us this technique.  Coloring is now the rage for adults....books, special crayons and paints!
 Her quilting on the reverse side, not shown, was beautiful, but the colors did bleed.  
 Adrienne snapped these two photos of my work - in one month - a record for me. The circles were from the Beehive group that many of us belong.
 The above quilt was purchased last June or July for a sew along with the designer Amy Gibson in September, 2014 -offered on Craftsy.  I missed the sew along as I was in Russia most of it took another year for completion.  I did my version of QAYG on the reverse side.
 Becky showed us this quilt as a top several months ago - her buddy Catherine brought it to the meeting as it was fresh off the long arm.  It is so beautiful.  See Catherine's work below.
 I've seen many of Catherine's other beautiful quilts as she, too, is a regular at Attic Window.  Here is an absolute beautiful example of the swirling lonestar that Vicky Stark teaches at the Attic Window. 

In case you never had a formal lesson on squaring fabric or need a refresher the Craftsy blog has this tutorial.  I've been taught that the manufacturer's fold or permanent fold was okay to measure from, however this lesson says

Have a great weekend....I'm heading to Newell, WVA to the Fiestaware factory tent sale.....all that color....yeah!  Check my Instagram account for pictures if curious...GRLady.