More Block Play

August 3rd, 2014
I’ve been playing around some more, coming up with a few more block options for this group of blocks that stem from my original Pennsylvania Amish block concept.  These are blocks of varying sizes that all work well together in that shapes are repeated in different ways, so there is a common theme.  As I’m coming up with new block options, they are done in different colorways, so all these particular blocks are not intended to be used together in the same quilt.  This has been a fun thing to play with from my end.  This first group of blocks are derived from PA Amish Block #1.  Let’s call this block the PA Amish #1Parent Block:
This next block is child block #1:
Child Block #2 is the same as child block #1 except that the block design is set differently on the block:
(I don’t know about you, but I much prefer child #2.)  And last but not least, here is grandchild #1:
Now this next set of blocks are derived from a related but different block that I’m calling PA Dutch Block #2 Parent Block:
Child #1 is:
…and Grandchild #1 is:
That last block is much prettier in real life than in this photo.  The flowers are all made in purples and blues but the photo doesn’t distinguish between these colors.  (The background is grey, too, my new experimental color.)  Do you see that blank space in the center of the block?  If you know me, you know it won’t stay blank for long!  The nice part about the way I do MEA is that it allows me the freedom to “drop” any design into whatever place on a block that I wish.  in this case, it would be very easy to plop a trapuntoed quilt design (stitched on the embroidery machine) right into that empty space…stay tuned!
Anyway, I am having some fun with these and a number of quilted projects are in my head.  Wish I had more time to just play wound like this…

A Race Against the Clock

July 3rd, 2014
I got a wonderful surprise last week in that I received an invitation to teach at Babylock Tech in August.  This is the annual Babylock convention where dealers go to learn about the new machines being introduced and also learn new techniques that can be used on sewing/embroidery machines.  There was a catch, though…my classes could only be 3 hours long.  Trust me, when you have 30 people in a  class who need to hoop/re-hoop several times, get up and walk over to fusing stations repeatedly to fuse their pieces, and get up to walk to alignment stations multiple times to sit and align the fabric block correctly on the hoop, 3 hours is not much time.  Soooo, my challenge last weekend was to design a project for the class where they’d have enough exposure to my multi-hooping technique to learn it, all within a 3-hour period.   The “Springtime Bouquet Purse/Tote” above is the outcome of my weekend.  Both the front and back have a central MEA panel that requires 2 hoopings, so the class will allow them to do 4 hoopings using my technique.  My next challenge is figuring out how to set the class up so that all 4 hoopings are feasible, but I think I have that part nailed.  (They’ll need to complete the rest of the purse on their own time once they get back home.)
Here is what the front/back panels look like once pieced and sandwiched for machine quilting:
I thought mirror image feathers emanating from each side of the stem’s base would look nice, but you can barely see them with the thread color I chose:
This shot of the batting side shows the quilting better:
I switched to a thread color with a bit more contrast and stitched swirls in the upper section, then a loop-d-loop design in the borders:
Truthfully, I wasn’t happy with the quilting choices I made, but I just had to keep going since the real issue for me was whether or not the proportions of this project were going to work to create an enticing class project.  I sewed my 2 sides together, created boxed corners at the base, then sewed my ruffle and handles to the top edge.  (I had fused a medium weight interfacing to the wrong side of the ruffle before I pressed it in half.  That step is important because once the lining is added, I want that ruffle to stand up and STAY up, and the interfacing will allow that to happen):
I put that part of the project aside and created my front and back lining with pockets and sewed those sides together, then created the same boxed corners at the base.  Lastly, I added magnetic snaps in the center of each side of the lining.  (You can see the metal snap in the photo below.)  This is the point where you attach the lining to the good side of the project.  You place the tote (good side facing outward) inside the lining (good side facing inward) and pin the top edges together, as shown below:
I sewed them together, leaving an opening of around 8 inches long, as shown below:
You reach into the opening with your hand and gently turn the tote inside out, so the good sides are now exposed:
Just push the lining down into the tote, then pin the opening shut and hand sew that opening so it’s closed permanently.  The last thing to do is to topstitch along the edge, and voila, a very sweet purse/tote:
 If you know a Babylock dealer, please ask them to come to my class…I promise it will be fun and educational!

And Now a Quilt With Some Color!

June 21st, 2014
I got in 20-30 minutes of machine quilting in the wee hours of the early morning each day this week before work.  I picked up an old quilt that I started quilting about a year ago and it has been lost in the shuffle ever since.  This is  a machine embroidery applique quilt and all the shapes were cut from Appli-K-Kutz dies using my Sizzix Big Shot except for the large heart at the bottom.  (I cut him the “old fashioned way…with scissors!)    Here’s the top section of it and that’s where I’m working now:
(Sorry…I rushed to grab some photos, so they’re not the best.  You can see there are pins and a few long thread tails that I haven’t dealt with yet!)  This top section is a fairly large piece; I think it measures around  44 inches x 28 inches.  The heart at the base is pretty large. If I do another of this panel any time down the road, I think I’ll use more understated colors inside the heart because there’s an awful lot going on in there!  Here’s a closeup and you can see what I mean:
I sure do like how much thread work can add to an applique shape, though!  There are 2 mirror image birds with 3 tail feathers each:
I didn’t want the entire thing to just hold background fill quilting, so I threw 2 quilted feathers off of each bird’s tail feathers.  They are hyperquilted with a gold thread and you almost can’t see the “real” feather outline because the thread was green:
There are also 3 appliqued swirl shapes above each bird.  In this shot of the swirls, you can see the background fill quilting pretty well.  That is being done with a gently variegated green trilobal polyester thread:
I also threw a headdress onto each bird that kind of “springs” from the appliqued headdress.  Here’s the one on the left bird:
…and here’s the one on the right bird:
That last bird seems pretty understated…I think I may need to go back in there and add some pizzazz.  I ‘m hoping to get to the lower section of this quilt this coming week…

Kind of an “All Over the Place” Day

May 25th, 2014






I’ve Been Working Quietly

May 13th, 2014
How does this keep happening that I am not posting more regularly?  I love staying in touch with people through my blog but it sure doesn’t look like it when I go for these long stretches between posts.  Please don’t take this to mean I don’t cherish comments or other interaction through this blog.  I just find it harder and harder to get some quiet time to do a post and a post isn’t  a post without photos, etc.  Anyway, I apologize for my absence!
I have been working on developing a new machine embroidery applique block for the last month.  My goal is that there will be other companion blocks and they are all somewhat reminiscent of a Pennsylvania Dutch kind of  a look.  When you’re designing  a block like this, you go through many iterations of it before you end up with a block that you like.  Here is what the first version of this block looked like:
I liked the basic idea but there were a couple things that bothered me.  First thing that bugged me was all the internal embroidery inside the feather.  This close up shot is a good illustration of just how overwhelming it is:
Whoa!!  Talk about over-worked and over-designed!  So, first thing was to remove all that internal embroidery.  The other thing that bothered me was that the block seemed too “bare” near the center.  Taking these 2 changes into account, here was the second version:
After 4-5 more versions where we changed the swirl stitching inside the flowers, tweaked the stitching inside the leaves, and then made some minor changes on the feathers, we finally got to our most recent version, which I love.  Here’s what it looks like:
I find it hard to work with a lot of yellow, so I rarely do it, but I’m loving the colors on this block.  All of these shapes were cut from Appli-K-Kutz dies on my Sizzix Big Shot machine.   I can’t help myself, but I have fallen totally head-over-heels in love with machine embroidery applique!  I am regularly blown away by the transformative effect of thread work on an applique block.  Part of it is the interesting detail it provides and part of it are the 3-dimensional effects it creates.  Here are some closer up shots of parts of the block.  First up is my favorite part, the flower/leaf unit:
Is that not the sweetest thing?  Here’s the same flower/leaf unit  in another colorway:
…and here’s a feather (kind of boring compared to the flowers but I still like it):
…and here’s a close up of the center section:
Oh my, my!  This all makes my heart flutter!  And to finish off this post, a little garden shot: