Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Picking Fabric for Snowflake Table Runner

I keep wishing we had more snow so we could go sledding, but since we don't I decided that making a Snowflake Table runner would have to suffice.

I started by drafting a snowflake pattern:

I decided I wanted to do three snowflakes, but I didn't want to blanket stitch around this snowflake three times.  So I took off the more challenging leaf part for the outer two snowflakes and made them simple six pointed stars with dots at the ends.

Now it was time to pick fabric.  Here are some of my considerations:

I love this icy blue background.  I thought it would be great to put blue snowflakes on.  I like this dot fabric with it too, but when I thought about cutting the narrow leaf pieces from it I thought the color variation would be too much.

I love the snowflakes in this fabric, but they're not printed evenly and I thought it might take away from my own snowflake design.

I love this purple and blue fabric and thought it would make great snowflakes.  However, it has 4-fold symmetry instead of 6-fold symmetry like my snowflake.

I love this fabric too, but again it has 4-fold symmetry.

It's hard to tell in this picture, but this blue has lots of silver paint on it and it would've been great for snowflakes, but it was a slightly different color than my background so I decided against it.

Here are three darker fabrics for snowflakes.  I decided against the top one as it was too dotty.  The middle one was too windy and the bottom one is actually tiny blue flowers so that didn't seem right either.

Then I found these two fabrics.  The top one totally reminds me of snow so I decided to use it as my background fabric.  The color varies from turquoise, to sky blue to lavender.  I thought I would use a simple dark blue batik for the snowflakes so that the background could stand out.

Then I did what any girl would do.  I showed it to my mom!  And her comment was that the blue should be the background and the print should be the snowflakes.  I decided that would make any machine quilting I did show, so I went for it...


Monday, December 28, 2015

Ornament Inspiration

In a blissfully lazy mood I was sitting and staring at our Christmas tree last night when I realized some of the ornaments would make cool quilt patterns!

I purchased this woodcut ornament in Austria last summer.  It would be fun to do this with some shape for an applique design!

This ornament was made by my son at school this year.  I'm not sure how they made it but I love the pattern play of a swirl and a grid at the same time.

I love this angel a student bought me a few years ago.  It's so fluid and graceful.  

This last ornament has bells inside different sized circles.  I love the circles.  I must admit I have an odd fascination with them. I use them all the time when I'm designing.  However, I have recently figured out that ovals are similarly fun and if you're off a little it's way easier to fudge that plain circles!

Hope you get to spend of this holiday season quilting!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Prague Posy Tablerunner Part 2

Here are the pictures I took as I completed appliqueing Prague Posy.

I stitched the pink and purple accent pieces in a 100 weight Invisifil Thread by Wonderfil in purple.  It accents the piece nicely I think without taking too much away from the print.

Here I've added the small circles I used a lighter green on the small green circles to try to make them stand out from the other lime green fabric.  I'm happy with how it looks, but next time I think I'll darker in thread color instead of lighter.  I've also added the stems of the flowers.

Now the large circles in the center of the flowers are added.  I used a matching thread because I didn't want the thread to stand out.

Here is the finished applique.  I love the way the dark blue circles help tie everything together.  Originally there was going to be one circle connecting the two stems, but I decided to add two and I'm glad I did because I think it makes it more interesting.

Here is a a closeup of the completed Prague Posy.  Now I get to decide how to quilt my table runner!
Hope you all had a fantastic winter holiday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Prague Posy Table Runner

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....yes, I've seen the Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  It was awesome!

But really, I did this design a while ago on the blog:

Here's the link to how I designed it:  Prague Posy Design Process  

This design was based on a ironwork railing in Prague, Czech Republic.

I decided it was finally time to make the pattern into something.  So I decided to make a simple table runner that I could have fun quilting.  

This is as far as I've gotten.  I started designing with the pink and purple fabric you see in the accent on the posy.  I find it's nice to start with a two or three color fabric so you have a palette to work with.  I also have decided that I need to use more variety in my greens, thus the lime and grassy greens above.  

So far I have stitched the pink backgrounds and the greens.  I used a 100 weight InvisiFil thread by WonderFil Threads for both of these.  The darker green pieces I wanted to have a little more weight so I used a 40 weight Rayon thread from Wonderfil called Splendor.  It's fabulous to sew with.

I also learned a valuable and surprising lesson when stitching these pieces.  I had been free motion machine quilting and then switched to blanket stitch.  I changed my sewing machine foot and put in a small needle since I was going to use 100 weight thread.  I did, however, forget to change my throat plate from a single-hole throat plate (perfect for free motion machine quilting) to my regular throat plate which has room for the needle to move from left to right.  This is critical when making a blanket stitch.  As I was sewing along, I couldn't figure out why it looked like my needle was moving the fabric.  I finally figured out that I hadn't changed the throat plate when I changed to the thicker 40 weight thread and actually broke my needle!  The stitching around the pink pieces isn't perfect due to the needle moving the fabric, but it was good enough and I really didn't want to rip out double blanket-stitch.  It's a pain.  Ask me how I know....yeah, been there, done that.

Also, you can see from the image above that I will often sew across an area that I'm going to cover later (making sure the fabric to be put on isn't lighter than the thread I'm can guess how I figured that out...oops!) so that I don't have to cut threads.  This makes for quicker sewing and since I did the stitching between them in a simple straight stitch the line won't show through the piece nor add any bulk since it's 100 weight thread. 

The dark green pieces above were also a new test for me.  The width was 1.6 and the length was 2.0.  I usually use the same width and length.  However, which this thin piece a 2.0 length crossed over the center of the piece and I knew it would look funny.  I am probably the only one who would ever notice that the stitches aren't the same width and length.  I am happy with the results and will most likely do this again.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Inspired by my Student

I teach 5th grade and one of my students was doodling the other day and drew the flower below.  I thought it might make a fun applique design.

So I started doodling.  Here's what I drew:

I went for some interesting flowers with "things" down their centers.  Some of them are fun and I'll probably try one soon.   

I also drew this as an idea for applique circles with feather quilting.

I am looking forward to Christmas break when I can do some quilting!  Two more days...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Thread Storage...I bought more (of course!)...Now What?

There are a multitude of ways to store thread.  It seems that between my mom, myself, and my friend Cindy we use just about all of them.

I currently store my thread by brand.  Aurifil has it's own drawers (these by color as I have so many) and each other type has it's own drawer including one of truly miscellaneous thread.  To store what I just bought I'd probably need at least 3 new sets of drawers if not 4.

My mother has a truly amazing thread cabinet a friend of my father's built for her.  It's gorgeous as you can see.  She separates her thread by color.  I can see the advantage in this as if I want red thread I currently have to look in about 8 places to see what all my options are.  Since hers are all stored by color she can see all her reds at once.

This is large height drawer in my mom's thread cabinet.  She has her thread separated in shoebox lids by brand.  Each drawer is a different color.

This is the small height drawer in which she keeps her thinner spools, again sorted by color.  If I need thread she usually has it!  She does a ton of hand applique so she likes to have every possible color.

This "leaning tower of thread," as my mother calls it, is how she stores her long-arm thread.  It is stored strictly by color so that she can find the color she wants quickly.

My friend Cindy has a lot of ways to store thread.  I'm impressed!

Se has some threads in boxes.  I'd forgotten about these kind of boxes and I have a few of them myself.  Two small Sulky boxes and one larger box for larger spools.

These are silk threads I believe.  Definitely sorted by type of thread here.

These are Robison-Anton Embroidery threads all hung beautifully on a wall rack.

Here are some more threads hung on the wall.

And here are some more threads stored in a drawer.

Here's what Cindy has to say about how she stores thread:
I mostly organize by "line" - so all of my Bottom Line threads are in one area, though not organized by color anymore...just wherever there is an open spoke. All "regular sewing threads" are on a rack closest to my sewing machine. The emrboidery threads are all stored by line, then by color code/color, from darkest to light in a color. Threads I use for hand-sewing are stored in portable plastic storage bins so that I can snatch them up and haul them around. Overflow embroidery thread is stored in drawers (again by line/brand), and the embellishment types (such as RazzleDazzle) are all grouped together on one rack. Basically, I keep them sorted by brand then purpose and color.
smile emoticon

Now I have to make a decision as to how I want to store all the new thread I bought.  And I just went to Jo-Ann's to get a Christmas present and I totally meant to look at plastic storage, but other things happened to catch my eye....needles, marking pens, buttons, etc.  Oops.  Next time.

Here's what needs a home as it's still in my Houston bag!  Lots of fun new things to try!

I have found a home for some of the new WonderFil threads.  The larger spools are 40 weigth rayon embroidery thread and the smaller spools are 100 weight Invisifil thread.  It is convenient to have it in a bin I can easily carry with me when I go to sew with threads.  I happened to have this one at home that was the right size.  The clear part with the small Invisifil spools is a tray that sets on top of the larger blue part.

The real question is whether I want to do this or put them in drawers like I currently have.  I also have all of my Glide by Fil-Tec thread in a reusable lunch bag so I can easily take it places.  However, I HOPE Santa will bring me more Glide and then I will need a bigger container and will have to rethink it.  It would be nice to have it more organized so I can find the color I want.  Choices, choices.

How do you find it best to store thread?  I'd love to know!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blog Quilt #3 - Beginning to Quilt

I have started quilting on Blog Quilt #3 - I really do need a title.  Perhaps something about thread thickness?  I don't know.  Let me know if you have any brilliant thoughts.

Since the quilt is very colorful, I wanted to make the quilting quiet, but I still wanted to be able to see it.  So I chose a thread that was a slightly darker gray than the background color.  It is a 50 weight Aurifil Cotton thread.  

I decided to quilt all sorts of circle motifs in varying sizes and fills.  Sometimes I did a circle, or a swirl or other motif inside the larger circle.  I also decided to do some feathers between the arcs because I actually find them easier to do than circles in that small a space.

Here is what I have done so far.  Hopefully I'll be able to finish this weekend!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Earring Inspiration

One of my lovely coworkers, Michele, was wearing this lovely earring the other day.  It would make a great applique pattern or quilting design.  You could put a block in the large circular area, a flower or something.  Or you could fill it with an interesting fill pattern.

You never know when you're going to find inspiration

Here I drew a rough drawing of Michele's earring and duplicated it using my trusty mirrors.  This definitely has possibilities, but needs refinement!


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Blog Quilt #3 - Size 60, 80, and 100 Thread

Sometimes I like to use really fine thread to blanket-stitch with.  I use it when I want a really fine line or when I really don't want the thread to show.  You can tell that the thread in the far right picture is really fine.

The thread on the left is YLI 60/2 cotton thread.  The 60/2 means it's a 60 weight thread and it's made of two pieces of thread twisted together.  The thread in the middle is Wonderfil 80 weight Deco-bob.  It's shiny and great and very thin.  The thread on the far right is Wonderfil 100 weight Invisifil polyester thread.  It's very fine and wonderful to work with.  

The picture above shows all the different weights I used in this project.  40 is on the left, then 50, then 60, then 80, and finally 100 weight.  You can tell the difference in thickness.  It will be nice to have a sample to look at when I'm choosing threads for projects!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Blog Quilt #3 - Size 50 Thread

The two rainbows below are both stitched in 50 weight thread.

The left picture is stitched in Aurifil 50 weight cotton thread.  The right is stitched in 50 weight Tire silk thread.  The Aurifil is cotton, so it has a flat appearance.  The Tire silk is very shiny because it's silk.  You can see from the pictures above they are both about the same thickness.

One thing I have definitely noticed is that when stitched in a high-contrast thread every little error shows.  Good to know!  Usually when I use contrasting thread it's only slightly different in color so any imperfections don't show much.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Rex Ray Inspiration

At International Quilt Festival this year I took a class from the amazing Jane Sassaman.  As a part of the class she did a slideshow of inspiration.  One of the artists she showed to us was Rex Ray.  I was immediately drawn to his work.  It has a very quilt-like quality to it.  You can see this in the images below.  There are lots of thoughts and ideas going through my head when I look at his work.

Oh the visions in my head as I stare at these....I hope you enjoy!