New Stitch-outs

August 21st, 2017
 
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These are some machine embroidery applique oak leaves that are more traditional, and this next shot is the whimsical version:
 
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Here is a traditional version of a different variety of oak leaf (hence, the different shape):
 
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…and here’s the whimsical version of this alternate oak leaf shape:
 
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Notice that part of the swirls are missing on the right side of that center leaf…that’s the kind of thing you find when you stitch out a design for the first time!  I can see that more stitch outs are in my future!  I like the whimsical versions better-how about you?
We watched the eclipse today from our backyard in Asheville, NC; we had a 99.2% total eclipse.  We were surprised how much the temperature and humidity dropped and the birds stopped signing as the sky’s color became kind of eerie.  I kind of have a deja-vu from the 1979 eclipse but can’t recall where I was when it happened.  I hope I’ll remember this one forty-some years from, although I will likley be dead by then!
 
 

Fantasy Fern

August 15th, 2017
 
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This is a small wall hanging that I made as a donation quilt for the Indianapolis Quilt Guild auction in October.  It started out as a machine embroidery applique design.  In the shot below, you can see the internal swirls being stitched inside the fronds:
 
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Once it was in the final quilt sandwich, I outlined the fern using invisible thread, (Monopoly by Superior Threads.)  I then used 3 different solid colored threads to stitch the background designs.  These were rayons (Sulky) or trilobal polyester threads (Floriani and Superior Threads):
 
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When I’m working on a hand-dyed background like this one with blended colors, I try to change my thread color as I work:
 
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…and here it is bound.  I am officially hooked on that 2 color flanged binding now:
 
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There is something so yummy about quilting hand dyed cotton sateen fabric…it still thrills me every time I do it!
 

Back to the Drawing Board

August 6th, 2017
 
 
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I made this table runner last week.  It is actually made from a border design I made about a year ago and I’ve meant to adapt it into a table runner all these months but never got around to it.  It’s a machine embroidery applique design and it’s nice because it takes about 35 minutes to stitch each fern so you can get a fair amount of other sewing work done while it’s stitching out.  I’m not sure that the layout is quite right, though.   I normally verify that my applique shape placement is aesthetically pleasing by stitching  a mock-up of the placement outlines of applique shapes onto muslin, but I skipped that step.  This is another one of those “don’t do it” moments when you have to painfully re-learn that there’s a good reason for most of one’s “double-checking” routines!  I am in the process of making a revised version of this with a slight variation in the placement of the ferns.  I’ll post a side-by-side comparison in a couple weeks once it’s done.
 
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This was very fun to quilt and that part was very quick.  I used my PTD12 arc ruler to do the ruler work framing.  The fill-in is featherettes and the goal is to completely “use up” the available space within the ruler work framework.  The photos below show my strategy for doing this.  In this next shot, you can see that I have horizontal/vertical lines denoting my center point and axes.  Here is the first “quadrant” of the featherette being stitched using those guidelines:
 
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…and here the first “quadrant” of the featherette has been stitched and I’m moving on the the adjacent “quadrant” of the featherette:
 
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Here’s an example of the center featherette once it’s been stitched:
 
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The space between the ruler work design and the fern appliques is filled by stitching plumes that stretch from the ruler work to just next to the applique shapes.  Even though these plumes keep changing size/proportion, it works visually and you “believe” the end design:
 
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I use that same “bump-back” method to fill the 1/2 inch channel by the edges of the table runner with a long, skinny featherette:
 
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These featherettes are all made using the bump-back feather method.  If you’re interested in how to create featherettes, I wrote a nice blog post explaining it awhile back and you can find it by clicking here.  Alternately, you can learn about how to quilt featherettes in my Craftsy class.  We are now selling the DVD for my Craftsy class called “Ultimate Free Motion Feathers:”
 
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…and you can find it in our online store by clicking here.  There’s a lot of feather info on this DVD that is not on any of my Free Motion Fun With Feathers DVD, so it’s worth it to check it out.
 

Picking Up an Abandoned Project

June 22nd, 2017
 
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Last Fall, I created several blocks like the ones above for the center of a quilt.  I finished them up  and here’s what they looked like when I laid them out on the floor:
 
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I added a small triangle at each of the corners of each block, and here’s how they look all pieced together:
 
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I finally got back to it recently and started working on the first appliqued border.  Here you can see one of the borders in process:
 
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I am lucky and can embroider more than one border at once; here is a shot that shows 2 borders being worked on simultaneously:
 
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…and here are all 4 borders laid out on the floor:
 
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This has been an odd month.  I spent the first part of the month traveling and teaching, so there was no time to sew outside of doing class demos.  We drove to NC last week and I was really looking forward to a few weeks of intense sewing/quilting.  When we opened our garage door, we found that a leak from the kitchen had waterlogged the ceiling in the garage (suspended ceiling of ceiling tiles) and the tiles had all broken into wet pieces and fallen down.  The insulation was soaked as well.  The floor was covered with smelly water and a “paste-like” mess from degrading ceiling tiles.  Lovely!  We went upstairs and found that about a quarter of the wood floor in the dining room was soaked, as was about a quarter of the kitchen tiles.  The culprit that caused all this was a tiny, pin-hole sized crack in the plastic tubing that carries water to the ice maker in the refrigerator.  (We have since learned this is a common problem and can be avoided by replacing that tubing with a small piece of braided steel tubing that costs between $12-$25.)  We ended up calling one of those disaster recovery teams and they rigged up this interesting system to dry things out.  Here’s a shot that gives you an idea of what things looked like from upstairs:
 
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This was a drying/de-humidifcation process that went on for several days.  From the garage below, a small “room” was walled off and heated/dehumidified to help dry the wood and tiles that were above.  Here are 2 shots of the garage set-up:
 
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…and here’s a shot of what was in the room:
 
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These machines all worked for 24 hours/day and it was like being on a tarmac for many days because of all the noise.  The people who helped us were WONDERFUL (1-800-water damage)  and we are happy to say that everything really did dry out and we didn’t have to rip up the wood floors or the tiles!  It is so nice to be back to a normal routine with silence again and I am looking forward to some productive time in my sewing room!!
 
 

Vivid Color

May 20th, 2017
 
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I finally got to start quilting the center block of this quilt (only a portion of the center block is visible here.)  This is  a machine embroidery applique quilt that was finished and basted several months ago but has not been touched in many months.  It felt great to be working with such vivid colors.  The “insides” of the pairs of blue applique swags were first stitched with ruler work to create a 2-tiered melon shape:
 
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I used the PTD 8 and 12 arcs to create those arcs, but you could use other arc templates as well, as long as their curves are different enough to work well together.  In this next shot, you can see that the center of the melons was filled with a featherette:
 
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In this final shot, you can get an idea of the fill design in the center-most section.  It’s a very small-scale version of “plumify it.”
 
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This background fabric is a hand-dyed cotton sateen and it is yummy to quilt.  Can’t wait to start on the next section!