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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

The first 2010 top quilted

I had to search all the way back to 2008 to find the first one like this. It helped that the customer sent me pictures of the quilting I did on that one. She wanted this one to be quilted with the same designs.

I had difficulty getting good photos to show the quilting. I think it had something to do with the reflection of all the snow and that the thread matched the fabric.

This block looked like leaves to me.

You can see better by looking at the back. This is the setting triangles.

This is the leaves blocks.

This is the alternate blocks.

This is the borders.

The border corners.

It doesn't seem quite right that I've only quilted one top this month. But then I think about all I've accomplished by not being chained to the quilting machine. I like retirement! True, I do miss the money it brought me. I can live without it knowing my life is my own again. I have time to create things that are crowded in my mind. I only wish I could create faster.

In 2009 I received a free membership in a local art group as a prize for winning a ribbon in the fair. I decided against taking the free membership because it didn't offer anything to me except being able to say I was a member. I'm not really a person that likes dropping names so it wasn't too important to me.

Recently a friend told me about this group having a jury process in March. In order for the art group to sell your work in the spring it must be juried in by the members. Their jury process is once a year. At first I thought, yea, if I hurry I can create the maximum 5 pieces before March. I could find out for sure if my art would be accepted and later find out if it will sell.

I gave it a lot of thought and have decided not to apply for the jury process this year. The deadline is much too soon. I want to enjoy simply creating before subjecting myself to the stress of a jury process. What I've decided to do is mark on my calendar the approximate dates for different art juries next year. It will be a list I can look through now and then. Each time I create something I can look through the list to decide if what I've created would be a good candidate for a jury. If I think my creation qualifies then I will set it aside to wait for the application time.

Why would I be willing to wait a whole year to see if my work is accepted by a jury? Because the creation is what's important.... not the acceptance by someone else. If I make giant roses with miss matched colors of fabric it doesn't have to make anyone happy but me. If I make funky shaped cardboard chairs, they don't have to be hot selling items in a gallery. I can sit in them myself just fine. You see my point? Art creation should make the artist happy. If someone else likes it too that's simply a bonus.
Hmm.... I think I'll go create for awhile.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Backwards piecing

Ladybug is not quite awake yet so I'm posting a quick note to say that I put some backwards piecing directions on my helpful hints blog early this morning. Mommie spent the night with a friend and I was able to get to the computer. Whew, writing step by step piecing directions and putting all the pictures on a blog is time consuming!

This was the inspiration for the backwards piecing.

I'll have to put the pictures of the current finished quilt on the blog a little later.... if I get the chance. Maybe when Ladybug takes a nap.

Ten to what?

I rarely use a pattern to piece a quilt. I prefer to see the design in a photo or sketch and come up with my own dimensions and piecing steps. Very often I piece a quilt block backwards. I start with a square; then, using a series of cutting and resewing, the pieced block emerges.

I would appreciate comments from anyone who decides to create this quilt using my backwards technique. Is it helpful? Would you want to see more backwards quilts? Did it help your accuracy? Will you donate your quilt or give it to someone special. How long did it take? Was it faster or slower than your normal piecing? That sort of thing.

This is a picture of the inspiration for this quilt. I want to give credit where credit is due so here it is:

The photo I saw was from the magazine Fabric Trends for Quilters, Spring 2008 issue, page 44, a design called Opposites Attract, by Kathy Brown for Troy Corp.

Kathy Brown gives cutting and piecing instructions to create twelve 18" blocks which make a quilt that's 70 x 88. As soon as I saw the picture I knew I wanted to make one of these but only much smaller. A smaller size would work to satisfy my craving to make this design, would give me a finished charity quilt, and could be done backwards very quickly.

I'm putting the instructions here so you can try out my technique yourself. I started with 30 squares of fabric. All are cut 10" square. There are 15 light and 15 dark.

Start by paring up one light with one dark fabric, right sides together. You will have a stack of 15 pairs. Cut these in half right down the middle of each pair. Pin the halves together and sew.

You should then press the seam toward the darker side. I should tell you that pressing is a very important step in the creation of this quilt. You must press correctly at each step to get perfect piecing at the corners. If it isn't pressed the right way you will get fabric warts at the corners.

Now turn the sewn back blocks a quarter turn and cut down the middle again. Like this.

Flip the stack on the right like this. Pin two halves together and sew.

I always pin my pieces together before sewing. For this quilt, I match the center seams very carefully and pin there first. If I've done this correctly the seams will lock together because they are now pressed in opposite directions. Next, I pin together each end.
Ok, another bit of caution here. Be sure you sew the blocks back together correctly. If you get one turned wrong, as seen in this photo, it won't work. Every time you sew the pieces back together they must be sewn exactly the same.

So here they are pinned and ready to sew together again.

Ok, this next step is done so that the pressing can be done correctly and to give you very flat intersections. You see where there is a seam going horizontal and one going vertical?

You want to frog out the stitches of the previous seam (the horizontal one) just to where it meets the newest sewn seam. I colored this with a blue marker so it would show up on camera. With my machine the picking out is only three stitches.

You will now press the seams one side up and one side down on the back. This forms a tiny four patch at the seam intersections on the back. Isn't that cute? Turn the block over and press again. Feel the intersection with your finger. It's very flat. No wart.

Now you will cut the block again. This time measure from the center seam over to the right 1 1/2" for the cut. If you are left handed you may want to cut on the opposite side for all the cuts.

Flip the cut piece on the right around so that the dark is next to the light and pin together being careful to match the center seam so it locks. In this picture it looks like I pinned a dark to a dark but that's only because the piece underneath is just 1 1/2" wide.

Once again you are going to frog out the previous stitching just until it meets the newest sewn line and press the seams in opposite directions.

Now you have two tiny four patches on the back. You will repeat this step of frogging and pressing for every seam you sew. I won't bore you by repeating it each time.

Your block should now look like this. Now you are going to turn the block 180 degrees so the newest sewn seam is now on the left of the center seam.

Measure from the center seam 1 1/2" to the right and cut again.

Flip the cut off pieces so that you have a dark next to a light.

Pin together being careful to lock the center seams first and sew these back together.

By now you can see that you are getting a pretty good collection of four patches on the back.

Ok, now you will need to turn your block so that you are cutting across all the previous seams. measure from the center seam over to the right 1 1/2" and cut. Like this.

Flip the cut off pieces so that dark is next to light and pin together. Be careful to match up all your seams so they lock together. I find it easiest to start with the center one and move out. Sew these back together and make your tiny four patch on the back.

Take a look at the tiny four patches now. See how I continue to press the seams in opposite directions? Not one fabric wart in these blocks.

Now you are going to turn the block 180 degrees and cut 1 1/2" from the center on the opposite side. This should be opposite the last seam sewn. Be careful not to cut the wrong side.

Flip the cut piece around, pin locking the seams, and sew back together.

Oh look, now there are several tiny four patches on the back.

Ok, this is what your block should look like now. A four patch in the center and squares in the corners. If necessary, square up the blocks before sewing into rows.

Sew all your blocks together and you're done. I sewed them in 5 rows of 6. Oh? You thought you could stop making tiny four patches? Well, to avoid any fabric warts.... lock all the seams for each row then do the pressing the same as you did for creating the blocks.

Ta Da! A finished charity quilt top. Now do I put a border on it to make it larger before quilting? Maybe, maybe not. I'll decide that when this top gets it's turn on the quilting machine.

If you create this quilt I really do want to hear from you. Especially if anyone is interested in doing more backwards piecing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My computer is back!

It seems like forever since my computer was here. I did get a lot accomplished when I couldn't sit at the computer for a few hours each day. So what did I do?

Well, I finished putting together the bottom half of my cardboard desk. I've been putting the base coats of paint on them. Actually 3 coats on the cabinet part and I just started painting the drawers. There's no hurry on getting this finished though. When these are finished I'll make the flat part for the desk and a cabinet to set above that. I'm making the desk in pieces so I can rearrange the parts to create a different look when the mood strikes me.

I got started on the roses from the drawing I showed several days ago. I'm making 6 because I want to work in a series for my art trials. I finished turning the edges on all the pieces.

Then started putting them together. Yes, there are some pretty wild color combinations in these roses. That's ok though. They don't have to look like "real" roses. It's fun to make them funky and crazy. That way there's no stress if something doesn't quite look right as often happens when I try to create realistic. These are only for testing ideas I have and don't need to make anyone happy but myself.

I also pieced this little charity quilt. It's done in what I call "Ten to What" (10 to ?) piecing. It's done backwards. Backwards?? Yes, it starts with a square or squares of fabric. The fabric squares are cut and sewed back together in reverse order until a pieced square is created. I do several designs in reverse order. It helps me be more accurate because I'm not working with teeny tiny cut pieces. The instructions for this one is going onto my helpful hints blog in the next few days. This one actually took me about 6 hours to complete because I kept stopping to be sure I pressed correctly. Pressing is a very important step in backward piecing.

I have a clothing memory quilt to create. The clothing came in today. This person was killed by a drunk driver. These are the three most important pieces for the quilt. The receiving blanket from when he was born, some pieces of the clothing he was wearing when he died, and the shirt his mother was wearing when she held him as he slipped away. I absolutely enjoy creating memory quilts. I feel as if an angel is whispering in my ear when I make a memory quilt.

Ladybug has gotten very independent lately. She doesn't want to sit in a booster chair anymore. She would rather sit at her own table. Of course she is always wanting Na Na to "comeona" and play with her.

Oh! How cute! This is sort of a great-grandchild. This baby's grandma was one of the kids I took care of for weeks at a time as a foster parent. When grandma grew up and had babies, I became the baby sitter when she was stressed. Now that child has had a baby. Wow, time sure does fly by. The baby's name? I can't pronounce it or spell it. I call her Gertie for short. Why are the baby names so difficult these days? What's wrong with John or Mary? Something simple and easy. Isn't that smile adorable.

I finished stitching the roses and took it off the machine. I still have to put it back on the machine and quilt the background. I had to put a customer quilt on the machine for awhile. It's finished but I'll show pictures of that tomorrow.

When I took this off the machine I discovered I liked the stitching on the back much better. It has the ghost look I really wanted for the front. This one looks ok but....

This one looks even better.

So does this one.

Well, now that I know how to do the ghost images, another one is in the planning stages.

Hmm... come to think about it, I may not be able to get back onto the computer again until Monday. We are getting snow tonight and tomorrow. Not as much snow as people are getting in other areas but enough to keep everybody here at home a couple of days. This means that Ladybug and Mommie won't be going to visit the cousins. I can't get much done on the computer when Ladybug wants my attention so often. I sure hope by some accident we don't loose power like we did a year ago in January. The weather people say its only going to be snow but you know how well weather people predict. If they say we won't get much.... we get a lot. If they say we are going to get a lot.... we get nothing.

Wow, it feels good to be able to post again! Thank you to everyone for waiting until I could get back on line.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What is a 10 to ? (ten to what) quilt

A quick post to let you know I'm still waiting for my computer to be fixed. I designed a new "10 to ?" (ten to what) quilt and will be posting the instructions as soon as my computer is home. My daughter's work computer doesn't have photo software on it and I can only be on this computer for a brief time. I don't want to get her in trouble by me using it.

What is a "10 to ?" quilt? It's a pattern that starts with a batch of 10 inch squares and winds up as a quilt block by cutting the squares, mix them up, sew them back together, cut again, mix them up, and sew back together again until the block is formed. Sort of doing the blocks backwards. This current 10 to ? quilt uses only two fabrics. For a test of the design, I made a small baby sized top but the pattern is easily adapted to larger sizes. It would be the perfect design to make a quick cuddle quilt, a quilt of valor, a charity quilt for xmas, or a quilt for an hour project. Oh, and of course, a last minute quilt for a baby shower. My test quilt was made from 30 squares. Fifteen each of two different colors if you would like to start searching for some scrap fabrics to give the quilt pattern a try.

I sure wish I knew where I stored the other 10 to ? designs. I know there were at least 3 others I designed. Hmm.... maybe on webshots? Oh well, if I can't find the others I'll just do them over again.

I'll be back again as soon as my computer comes home.

Still waiting

A short note to let you know I'm still waiting for my computer to get fixed. Evidently there are a lot of computers in this area infected with the same virus. The computer guy is quite busy cleaning them all up. My daughter's computer doesn't have photo software and I can only be on it for a short time. I don't want to risk getting her in trouble for me using the work computer.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Infected computer

I posted a couple of days ago on my helpful hints blog that my computer had been hijacked by a security 2010 software virus. My computer is in the shop getting fixed... IF they can fix it. I'm on my daughter's work computer right now. I can use her computer for a brief minute or two then I must get off of it. The security 2010 virus is a particularly vicious virus and difficult to remove. If you start getting messages from microsoft or ATT that your computer is infected...... DON'T USE THE TRIAL ISSUES!! DON'T PAY FOR IT EITHER!!! They are bogus and are designed to get your personal information. Run your own security software to remove viruses. AVG is a good one. Sometimes you must run several different ones to remove this. That's why my computer is now in the shop. They have many that they can run to get rid of viruses like this.

I will start posting again as soon as my computer is working and virus free.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I messed them up

Ok, the roses don't look too bad except it's not the way I wanted them to look. I wanted a vague ghost like image of roses in the background. I think I know what I did wrong. I used a variegated thread in a 30 weight. I couldn't control where the colors got stitched and the thread is too heavy for a pale image in the background. I'm still happy because I learned from the test.

I have a thinner thread (that's not variegated) I can try on another test quilt later. As my daughter pointed out... there's no definition to the petals. They run together instead of being defined. She's right and that's from the variegated thread.

Using individual colors instead of a variegated thread will give me more control where the colors are stitched. A thinner thread will give me a much fainter image. I went back over the roses with some different color threads. It helped but it's still not right. On second thought, I probably have way too much stitching. Less is more as they say.

Anyway, I stopped working on the roses and put the customer quilt on the machine. I started stabilizing it. Guess what came in my mail.... the newest issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited. I start reading through it when suddenly I came across this. WOW!! The ghost image type quilting I was trying to achieve. Now this lady has "THE GIFT" I was telling you about.

This is the work of Hollis Chatelain. I can't stop thinking WOW! I'm drooling a lot. There is some hand painted fabric in there. Possibly about 5 percent fabric paint and the rest is all thread. I'm only guessing by looking at the photo. You see how the leaves are faint images? The fabric below shows through but the leaves show up too. A perfect balance of thread and hand painted fabric. I want to quilt just like her when I grow up!

Ok, I do have a long, long way to go before I can quilt like that. It does give me a goal though. Without classes or books to help me along the way it will mean lots of trial and error. I don't think Hollis gives classes or has any books out. If she does give classes I'm sure they are way off someplace hard to get to and very, very expensive. I'll be content to examine any photos of her work I can get then try testing.

Hmm.... I probably should take a step or two backwards and get some books on sketching or on pen & ink drawing. Before I can stitch with thread I need to learn to draw with pencil or ink. I should have realized that already! I do tell people to practice machine quilting designs by tracing them over and over until they know the movements. Once the movements with pen are learned then it's transferred to the movement of the machine. Yup, I've gotten far too anxious. First learn..... then do.