Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ready for OKC!

Keeping me travel ready takes what my husband calls a "pit crew" and Tina Fox is a big part of that. She's the magician (and sometimes photographer; you can see her up in the right hand corner) responsible for all the fun colors in my hair.

This is the style she sent me off to Oklahoma City with. I'm flying this morning and will be teaching ruler classes at The Stitching Post tomorrow and Saturday. I'll also get to visit with my good friends, Phil and Mary Newton. Phil was the brand manager for Amann-Mettler for several years and I enjoyed working with him in my spokesperson role. I've missed them and will be very happy to spend some time catching up.

Almost boarding time -- happy to be a Southwest A-Lister. Get to be one of the first people to get on board and choose a seat!

Have a super quilty day!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Yesterday's Progress

All the blocks in rows ready to go!

Made great progress for a Tuesday morning; had the top pieced by 10, then to get hair tended to and an afternoon nap. Went to Bolts in the Bathtub to buy the grey solid for the binding and to use in the pieced back and worked on the back for a while last night.

Today I have appointments all day and then early tomorrow morning I hop on a plane to Oklahoma City to teach at the Stitching Post. I was thinking that I might have some time to sew today and then -- oh, yeah, I'd probably better pack for the trip! Minor detail, right?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Making Progress

All of my Pacific quilt blocks are finished and the first row is put together. I also sewed an additional four blocks to put on the back per the pattern instructions.

I like a lot of piecing on the back and have a pile of colorful scraps left over. I am thinking of getting some grey fabric for the binding and also using it to put a narrow border around the 4 block piece, then start piecing the colored scraps around. We'll see how big it gets and then use my low volume prints for the rest. I think it would look pretty cool!

We had Dan's family over for Father's Day dinner last night:

We made an apple pie, berry pie, pasta salad, 3 huge veggie trays (using the leftovers in soup tonight) and our signature dish that never fails to make people laugh when they see it on the grill:

Beer can chicken! Tender, moist, best chicken ever!

My goal for tomorrow is to get the quilt blocks pieced together and get a good start on the back. The green threads for the Wishing Tree quilt arrive on Wednesday, so would love to get this one completely pieced before I switch over.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pacific Quilt and a Point Matching Tutorial

Took almost a day of off and on trimming, but got all the flying geese tamed into accuracy and laid them out on my sewing room floor with the background pieces.

Assembling the geese into rows with the background fabric is quick and pretty easy, but sewing the four rows into a block has a tricky place where the top of one goose joins the corner seam of the one above it.

After a few rips on the first block, fewer on the second, I figured out how to pin this to make it work. No rips on this green one!
This is how I'm doing it:

Each row gets a good press (I know it's controversial, but I like steam and I do press rather than iron -- there's a big difference!) with the seam allowances away from the triangle points.

This is the way the rows will line up.

I stick a pin right through the intersection on the top piece.

Then stick the same pin through the intersection on the bottom piece, in this case, the point at the top of the goose.

Keeping the pin as straight as possible,

I put a pin sideways through everything. That seems to ensure an accurate join while keeping the seam allowances on the bottom piece flat. It also helps if you use a fine pointy needle for piecing: I'm using a Schmetz Microtex Sharp 80/12 with Mettler Silk Finish 100% cotton 60 weight thread.

And there we go! This is turning out to be more fun than I thought it would be!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Piecing for a Bit and a Giveaway

Yesterday I got all the stitching done with the metallic thread to outline all of the branches of the wishing tree and was ready to start the leaves. I went through all of the green threads in my possession and didn't have exactly what I wanted -- hard to believe when one considers how much thread I own!

I knew I wanted to use 40 weight polyester embroidery thread for the sheen and decided on two variegated colors, Field Greens and Mossy Greens, made by Mettler and marketed under either the PolySheen or Isacord brand depending on the size of the spool (Isacord comes on cones, PolySheen on smaller spools). I don't have an assortment of the variegated colors, so called up my LQS, Bolts in the Bathtub, and they were out of stock (big groan inserted here!). I understand why -- they have many embroidery customers and leaves are a popular theme -- but really? Today? Good thing this project isn't due immediately!

So I emailed Michelle at Amann-Mettler Group and crossed my fingers that they were in stock at the warehouse. Mettler is extremely generous in supplying me with threads, but when I just need a couple of spools, I always check with Bolts first. It's always a good excuse to run in and see what new fabrics they have!

So since I'm stuck for the moment, I picked up the pattern and cute fat eighths pack from the May Sew Sampler box that I did a post on last month.

The pattern calls for 1-1/3 yards each of three low volume fabrics. Wasn't 100% sure what "low volume" meant as it's a term I've been hearing only recently, but I told Dawna that I needed three low volume fabrics, she flipped three bolts onto the cutting table and that worked for me. I also don't understand 1-1/3 yards so bought two yards of each and toddled off. Actual use has been about one yard of each, but I chose to make my flying geese with the no waste method rather than with the included ruler.

Sewed a test group of four and I don't think accuracy is a question here, so think I'll just keep making them the usual way.

So there's my stack of them half done and ready for the iron.

Meanwhile a perfectly good ruler sits on my table dreaming of geese in the air and pining for a good home where it will be loved and used. Want it? Leave a comment about a favorite flying geese quilt that you have either made or would like to -- we'll do a drawing at the end of the month.

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Quilting The Wishing Tree

Was out of town for the weekend and then life happened in the form of a little flu bug, so....
Picked a neutral tan Mettler Silk Finish 100% cotton 50 weight for the back of the quilt, color #0260 (formerly 515):

You can see how it looks on both the dark blue and the neutrals.

There is a lot of circular pebbly-type metallic print in the tree trunks, so a Mettler variegated metallic #9924 seems perfect. It's kind of a gold/silver blend with maybe some metallic taupe-y shade thrown in?

Like the way it's working out!

Two things that should be noted about my thread setup: 1) the metallic thread is on the horizontal spool pin of my machine, which is supposed to be a crazy no-no, and 2) my tension is on my normal setting of 4.0. I'm sewing on a Brother Dream Machine, feed dogs dropped, open toe free motion foot attached.

Needle is Superior Topstitch 90/14. I normally use a Schmetz Metallic 90/14, but couldn't find them in the "small accessories" drawer, otherwise known as "the sewing room drawer from hell". Had these left over from when I ran out of the correct needles at a Cindy Needham retreat (next one, end of August -- hooray!***) so am giving them a test drive with the metallic thread on this quilt.

I have to think that there are additional stresses on threads/needles when one adds a second layer of batting, as well -- does anyone have thoughts about that?

***This is just the next retreat that I get to go to. Cindy has LOTS of retreats in Auburn CA and McCloud CA (and maybe others?) plus open sewing time at her studio in Chico CA. You can find out about all of her events at

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Wishing Tree -- Doing the Prep

First up is marking the 1-1/2" grid in the panel portion of the quilt top. A 6"x24" ruler and a fine line water soluble marker are great for this task.

Then I used 2" binder clips, available at office supply stores, to secure the quilt backing to the tables. I have two 30"x96" banquet style tables in my workroom, also purchased at an office supply store, giving me a 60"x96" work surface.
I'm using two battings, both from Winline. I put the cotton on first and the wool on top of it. The cotton provides stability to help this quilt hang nice and straight; the wool adds loft and gives more definition to the quilting.

I keep each batting information sheet pinned to the bolt so that I always have the manufacturers recommendation for stitching distances, care and any special considerations about a particular batting. Also has Luann's phone number when I need more!

Normally I use a walking foot to stabilize the quilt by straight stitching seams between blocks. Panels are different in that there are no blocks, no seams, just a single piece of fabric. Sometimes there are areas within a panel to do this type of stabilizing, but not this one.
Since my plan is to quilt the entire panel with free motion techniques, I'm pinning much heavier than my normal "about every 4 inches". This extra pinning will also keep everything from shifting -- I have to keep in mind that I have two battings and absolutely no stabilizing stitches.

My plan is to outline the tree first and then the leaves. I'll pick threads tomorrow morning when I have natural light in my workroom; I'm blessed with a north facing window and lots of California sunshine!
But we quilters never have enough space, do we? Here's where I cut my batting, in the guest room!

I did most of the pinning after I got home from shopping with my friend and fellow quilter Linda Petrik. That's Linda in the picture below; we were at White House Black Market and I loved this skirt, but they didn't have it in my size. Couldn't order it in the store because it was on sale, so when I got home I checked online and...

Quilt is pinned, skirt on its way, life is good!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Wishing Tree Quilt

On the western Caribbean quilting cruise in February, I took a workshop from Millie Kaiser, owner of Appletree Quilting in Columbia MO, starting the project from a kit.

We squared up our panels and started adding the borders. The ship's personnel brought in all the irons and ironing boards for each classroom as we weren't allowed to bring any of that on board with us. The ironing boards were brand new, still in the packaging, and were chevron printed in various colors. I staked out a green one near to the machine where I was sewing and noticed something pretty cool as I was pressing:

I was intrigued by the way the chevron pattern shadowed through the panel and decided to incorporate that in the quilting. My friend Carol Tarras had given me a gridded plastic transparent sheet that I wanted to use to put over the quilt top and be able to draw quilting designs with dry erase markers. Better in theory than in execution -- I loved the effect, but......

.... even after a week weighted down with my big cutting rulers all over it, it just wouldn't lay flat. So I took Cindy Needham's advice**and bought 54" wide vinyl and taped the edges with painters tape. This stays flat!

I left the rulers on the gridded mat and draped the vinyl over it, then started drawing in my orientation lines: outer edges, tree, enough of the leaves to still get an idea of the design once I remove the quilt from under the marked vinyl. My thoughts are not to necessarily draw out a whole design and then trace it, but rather to audition ideas without having to stitch them out.

Using the grid for reference, I drew in some chevrons spaced similarly to the ones on the ironing board, then added in a few more lines and a fill design just to see what it would look like.

Some very cool things about this process: 1) Decided I liked the chevrons and the spacing between them. 2) Discovered that in order to most easily stitch this on my quilt, I can mark a 1-1/2" grid on my quilt top with water soluble marker, then just use one of my quilting rulers to stitch from point to point. This is way easier than I thought it would be; seeing the big picture was helpful. 3) Nice to be able to try a fill stitch pattern knowing that I'm not locked into it; I can just erase it and try others.

A big thing to keep in mind here is that the smaller/heavier the fill quilting between those chevrons, the smaller/heavier the quilting has to be everywhere else, including the borders, in order not to get ripply edges and a wavy quilt bottom. To help me determine the light/medium/heavy thing (what I call density when I teach machine quilting), I'm going to stitch the tree and the leaves first, then take a look and decide if I'm happy with the amount of quilting in those areas or if I want to subdivide those leaves to make the quilting heavier. It's always easy to add more; not so easy to take out!

If I want it heavier, I'll add some veining to the leaves and a lot of detail in the background fill; if I'm happy with the quilting as it is at that point, I won't add anything extra to the leaves and maybe not put any stitching between the chevrons when I do the background stitching.

Now to construct the quilt back -- I like to use all my scraps from a quilt on the back and then buy additional fabric as needed. I also had a quilt block from Millie from another project she taught on the cruise and I wanted to incorporate that into the quilt back to make this quilt a great quilting cruise memory! I'll be teaching a quilting design class featuring this quilt at Appletree in July, so Millie and Wendy maybe will sign it then?

Above is what I made yesterday and then added more this morning:

This measures 47" wide by about 38" long, so it's wide enough, but I need about 1-1/2 yards of a coordinating fabric to add to the length. I'd love to find a cream/green/blue batik to pull it all together, so off to my LQS, Bolts in the Bathtub, this afternoon!

**In my search for vinyl to use for project planning, I found that there are at least five different thicknesses available from 4 to 20 gauge. So I emailed Cindy to see what she used; she replied that she was still laughing at the question because she really didn't have an answer! She just went to the store and felt them all until she found the one that was just right! Of course, her answer made me laugh all the way to the store so that I could do my own impression of Goldilocks.....

I purchased 8 gauge and will see how it holds up. 4 was way too thin, 16 and 20 too thick, so it was down to 8 or 12. Either would probably work just fine.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

It's All About the Gadgets!

Seems like I'm always buying new tools to make things a little easier around the quilting rooms, especially this time of year when I know I'm going to be home more than usual during the summer. My teaching seasons are definitely spring and fall, but I often start working in early January and work until the second weekend of December, so don't get a long winter break. No spring break, but I'm generally done around Memorial Day and then have sporadic work until after Labor Day. So I guess you could say I have a similar schedule to public/private elementary/middle/high school teachers!

While I have all that great sewing time, I keep my eyes open for gadgets and I also get them in my subscription boxes, such as Sew Sampler, Quilty Box and Stash Builder Box, although SBB is more about the fabric than the things that go with it. I'll have to remember to do a post about my latest Stash Builder Box; I was delighted when I opened it!

This was my latest gadget acquisition; I had a bright green one right next to the sewing machine and wanted one for the other room. Bordeaux is a new color - I like wine - my house is decorated in a wine grape theme in bordeaux, gold and green - seemed like this would work in the "big" room. My big room has two 30 inch wide by 8 foot long tables, the Mettler thread fixtures, batting fixtures, some bookcases and my ironing board with a 6 foot long rectangular top.

Have to show off my Mettler fixtures again!

I know a lot of quilters like to have everything within reach so they can pin, sew and press without getting out of their chair. I like to get up a lot and walk from room to room; gets my steps in and I don't get achy all over from staying in one position for a long time. So I'll do a bunch of chain piecing, then take them to the big room to iron.

Once I get the blocks made, I do most of the row pinning on the tables and then take them into the smaller room where the sewing machine is to do the sewing. Then back to the big room to unpin and press. Same with the borders, so I thought it would be helpful to have a pin caddy both by the machine for the quick pin/unpin thing and on the tables for the more major efforts.

It's pretty and useful -- all good! I bought this at my local quilt store, but since it is made by Clover, it should be readily available in the bordeaux color, a bright green and at least two other colors that I've seen.

Now back to sewing!

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