Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sand, Sun, Waves, Relaxation!

Life is good at the shore--today was alternately cloudy and sunny, now it is pretty hazy off in the distance. I saw what I think is a Black Skimmer--a bird I have not seen before.

No sunburn today--all is good!

What is on tap for tomorrow? More relaxing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Grocery Bag Holders

This great tutorial by Rachel of P.S. I Quilt can be found at the Moda Bake Shop. I used Rachel's very clear and easy to follow directions to sew up these grocery bag recylers. The one on the left is made with Tula Pink fabric in the Neptune collection. The one on the right is made with charms from the Oh-Cherry-Oh collection by Me and My Sister. Both of these collections are produced by Moda.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thread Vomit!

Last night and again today I have been having lots of problems with thread "vomit." This is a condition when you are sewing along and a huge tangled mess of loose stitches appears on the back of your project. After picking out 4 or 5 huge messes on two different projects, I decided to do some troubleshooting on the 'net.

Here's what I found out:
  • The problem could be caused by the wrong type of bobbin--for instance putting a Singer bobbin in a Brother machine. These machines both use clear plastic bobbins that are almost, but not quite the same size.
  • The problem could also stem from a poorly wound bobbin. If the bobbin is not winding perfectly smoothly and evenly, it will probably cause tangles at some point in the bobbin's use.
  • The bobbin has to be placed in its case with the thread end running in a clockwise position.
  • The tension of the top thread has to be correct.
  • The machine has to be threaded correctly with no steps missed. (The problem here is that as your machine is galloping along sewing, the thread may come loose from the guides without your knowledge.)

So, I re-threaded the whole shebang, wound a new bobbin and started again. I am pretty sure the problem was a combination of poorly wound bobbin and the top thread had come loose from one of the guides. Even still I am training myself to check at the beginning of each stitch run to check and make sure the thread tension looks good on the back of the project.

Thanks to all those folks on the World Wide Web who post information about how to solve problems and fix things that are broken!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Knitting Project Bag

These fruity ladies grace my newest sewing project completed today. I quilted a panel of the fabric with some batting and a neutral backing fabric to give the completed bag more stability. The bag has a flat bottom detail and straps that match the inner lining. It is just the right size to carry around knitting WIPS (works in progress.)
Pictured next to the new bag are two new leashes. I whipped them up today as well. They are made from the hemmed tops of 2 different flat sheets. I used other parts of the sheets for quilting projects and had not discarded the nicely pressed top hems. I folded them to a suitably narrow width, pinned and top stitched them to make a nice smooth leash. Using hardware from leashes at the dollar store, I fashioned the handle and clip. I was careful to do a good deal of backstitching for reinforcement. The last thing we would want is leash failure when it is attached to one of the furry children. I have hardware for making another one, maybe later tonight!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

OBX Vacation!

No sewing so far today. I have spent some time looking online for current info about Hatteras Village, where my sister and I will be spending a week this summer. We have not stayed in Hatteras Village since my nephew was a very small baby--and he is 19 now. We have stayed at the National Park Service campground at Oregon Inlet a few summers ago and also at the KOA on the Outer Banks. This year we have opted not to camp, but instead to find a place to lay our sandy heads at night where there is electricity, hot and cold running water, a private bathroom, kitchen facilities, and a leak-free roof over our heads.

We are taking 2 of our dogs and staying in a little one room condo called a cabana. This link shows details about the cabana complex and one of the cabanas for rent, but not the one we are renting. They are so cute and just perfect for 2 middle aged women and their dogs.

These cabanas were rebuilt after Hurricane Isabel cut a new channel across the Island of Hatteras in 2003. The new inlet which the locals called "Isabel Inlet" went through almost where the cabanas stood. One web site I looked at proclaimed that there were 40 foot waves at the Hatteras Cabanas during that storm. God willing there will be no foul weather while we are there.

Looking forward to shell gathering, dolphin sightings, swimming, experiencing pirate lore and history, boat riding (maybe fishing), island touring, seafood and more.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Zig Zag Quilt

This is a baby sized zig zag quilt I worked on in May. I have not posted this project before because I did not have a good picture of it.
I used scraps left over from piecing the zig zags together to create a border. The border is 2 rows wide.
I love the blues and aquas in this quilt. It is machine quilted following the zig zags.

I Stippled A Wallhanging!

Here is a cheater panel that I made into a wall hanging. This one is quilted in a different way than I usually do it.
I put the free motion quilting foot on the machine and stippled it. That basically means that I used my hands to push the fabric under the needle making designs. The designs were mostly loops and swirls.
It is challenging to quilt this way. The fabric has to be guided with both hands and it is easy to get the stitches to sew over top of each other (which you should not do.) It is important to set the speed so that you can complete your design without losing control of where you are stitching.
I tried not to get the stitches over the colored parts of the panel, instead opting to quilt around the design in each square. I also chose to stipple only the 5 largest blocks. The smaller designs are just outlined with stitching.
I learned how to do the stippling on Youtube. I have found that in addition to millions of videos showing stupid people doing stupid things, Youtube has many instructional videos. There are some skilled quilters who demonstrate techniques to help out us novices.
They say that practice makes perfect. I will keep at it.

Log Cabin Quilt Finished!

Here is the completed log cabin quilt. I pieced and quilted it on the machine. The backing fabric is from a custom made bedding set I found at a recent yard sale. That set included an incredible amount of home decorator fabric that I will be using for other quilts to come.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Works in Progress

Here are 2 quilt tops I have completed this week. The first one is a scrap quilt made almost entirely from the aforementioned box of fabric scraps. It is in the log cabin pattern. The red fabric in the center is a fat quarter from Joanne Fabrics and the blue border is the last of the blue chambray sheet I used in this quilt. I have not found a backing fabric for it which suits me yet.

The next quilt top I completed today from 2 charm packs in the Neptune collection from Tula Pink. I am crazy about her fabrics. In addition to the charm packs I also had a yard of her navy blue with green pattern with sea turtles and sea horses hidden in the design.

This quilt top was made using the Disappearing Nine Patch pattern. I had enough 5 inch squares to create 7 largish blocks. I quartered them and arranged the resulting 28 blocks to suit me. I used 24 of them to make a 4x6 rectangle and had four quarter blocks left over. Whew, this math is making my head spin! (I teach reading !) Then I decided that the left over 4 blocks would be great at the corners of the borders.

That was a difficult trick getting all those corners lined up and if you look carefully at the picture you will see the wonky corner that resulted. No backing is picked out for this yet, either.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Did She Say "Drive-In?"

Yes, you read correctly--There is a drive in movie theatre within 30 minutes of my home. The Fork Union Drive-In is open during the fair weather seasons and shows 2 movies per night each weekend.

It is not paved like some other drive-ins which are no longer in business. Instead you park on terraced lawn and many of the movie goers watch the movie outside their vehicles. It is quaint and family friendly and very much like an outdoor picnic with a couple of movies thrown in.

During the intermission between movies, kids get out in the field in front of the screen and play ball or chase each other around. There are folks in lawn chairs in the beds of their trucks and kids piled up on mattresses in the backs of station wagons. When Ivy was little and we used to take him, he usually fell asleep before the second movie finished.

My sister and I usually start watching outside and then get in the car later after dew falls and it gets chilly. Last night there were some unexpected mechanical problems with her car and we could not use the car's electrical system to hear the movie through the radio. So we sat near the traditional drive-in speakers on poles and covered up with quilts and fleece throws.

Luckily she has a manual transmission and she was able to roll start the car and get us home safely. The dad next to us helped push the car to get it started rolling. Even more luckily, we had parked right at the end of one of the rows near the top of the hill. We could not have been in better position for roll starting the car if we had planned it.

And yes, we both have roadside assistance with the cell phones, but didn't want to call them unless necessary.
This evening is an outdoor music concert in Scottsville. Stacey and I are meeting one of her friends for a picnic supper. We should have a good time. I am driving and then tomorrow I will take her to work after she has a chance to talk to her mechanic about her car. I am crossing my fingers that it is nothing serious!

Thrift Store Quilt Update

I used the new lap quilt last night at the drive-in while watching Monsters Vs. Aliens. Before it got dark enough for the movie to start I noticed some seams that came loose when I washed the quilt. I had only used a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance in an effort to make my strip of pieced blocks as wide as possible.

I spent some time this morning making repairs and adding some additional machine quilting. I am going to wash it again on the gentle cycle. I want to be able to give it away and I cannot do that if it is falling apart at the seams already!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sizzix Creations

Here are some things I have made using felted wool cut from my Sizzix BigKick. Most of these were made during the winter and spring. Now I am not making many things with wool, I have switched over to cotton for the hot months.

Finished Lap Quilt

Today was rainy and dreary. I finished my thrift store quilt. Last night I looked in my stash and found a large sheet with pale blue roses all over it. A perfect material to back my quilt in.

I sandwiched some Warm and Natural Batting in between the layers and pinned it all together. I chose to quilt in straight lines through the solid blue blocks. I could not wait to drive into Cville and buy matching thread, so I used white thread for the quilting. It looks nice enough with the blue fabric. For the border, I turned the excess backing fabric to the front, folded it under and pinned it. Then I machine stitched close to the edge to finish off the binding. For about 5 minutes I planned to hand stitch the edges of the binding, but that is hard on my fingers.

It is about 36 inches wide and about 62 inches long. Good size for covering up while watching tv. Or laying across the back seat of the car for dogs to lay on. Or using as a sand blanket at the beach... If I add some elastic to the end I could roll it up and stow it easily. HMMM.... the wheels are turning and the gears are smokin'!

I may enter this in the recycling category at the county fair. The only new material in it was the batting and the thread.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thrift Store Quilt Top

Yesterday after getting 2 new tires on my car, I went by the Salvation Army Thrift Store looking for deals on precious treasures. I found a box of fabric scraps for $1.00. Among the scraps were some Schumacher decorator fabric samples. After some consideration, I thought I could cut the samples in half to make squares that I would piece into a quilt top.

This pattern I made reminds me of the Chinese Coin pattern. To construct it I sewed the squares of printed fabric right sides together, down two sides. Then I cut the squares in half and pressed them open. Now I had the same amount of squares I started out with, but half of each square was a different print. I divided the pile of squares into thirds and sewed them together into 3 long strips.

Between each long pieced strip I inserted chambray blue fabric cut from a cotton thrift store sheet. Then I added strips to the top and bottom of the same fabric. It looks wonderful! I have no idea what fabric I am going to use to back it. I have a couple of choices. More on this quilt when it is finished.