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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.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

On point quilt part five

The on point quilt is finished.  I did the two inside borders last.  I did a large feather on the wide border and le lace on the inside border. 

Here is the setting triangles again and the inside border.

The customer didn't want black thread to be on the back so the black borders were done with mono thread on top and white in the bobbin.   It's impossible to have two colors of thread for the quilting without one of the colors showing up on the opposite side.  If I had used black thread on top and white in the bobbin; one color or the other would show up as tiny dots.  Mono thread does show up as tiny dots but since it's clear the dots are not as noticeable. 

You might wonder why I did a feather design on the wide border even though I knew it wouldn't show?  Well, it does show on the back. 

I try to make the back of the quilt look pretty too.

Just in case the customer wants to turn the quilt over and use it like that once in awhile.

Line dancing looks pretty on the back as well.

The setting triangles from the back.

When the customer brought this quilt top to me she said "just do the best you can" and that's what I did.  The quilt is now square and pretty.   Both of us can be proud of the finished quilt.  She brought two pillow squares for me to do that will go with this quilt.  I'll finish those today. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

On point quilt part four

Moving on to doing the setting triangles.  There is some fullness in these but not as much as there was in the squares.  The design I chose has fewer lines to it because I don't need to work in as much fullness.

I divide the triangles into two parts for the design I chose. 

I have the first half finished. 

Here's the second half finished. 

The corner triangle is smaller so only one half of the design on it.

One design that goes in two directions just like half the design in the larger triangles.

I finished the triangles and moved on to doing the pieced squares.

I did line dancing on these.   It was just enough stitching to tame the extra fullness of the pieces.

A strange thing happened when I was uploading the photos for this post.  Some of my pictures came up with a message of "security problem" instead of the photo.  What the heck does that mean?  I was merely transferring photos from my computer to the blog.  Does anybody know why that happened?  Is it an indication of a problem with my computer?  Should I be worried enough to send my computer out for repairs? 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On point quilt part three

This is the blocks I told you I would work on next.  I'm helping a friend and I also went to this area next  because I like to work in the area of the largest amount of fullness first then move to the next largest fullness and so forth.  Nine times out of ten the largest amount is in the border.  That's not the case with this quilt though.  If I work in one area it will compound the issue in other areas.  Hmm.... I'm not explaining this very well.  Ok, when you quilt an area it draws up with the quilting.  There's nothing wrong, it's just the nature of quilting.  If you quilt an area with very little fullness, it compounds the effects on the area that does have lots of fullness.  In order to overcome the effects I quilt the full areas first so they can't be compounded.    Maybe the photos will help me explain a little better.  So here's the block.  I've decided to treat this block as 4 sections instead of one large design. 

I taped off the first area and quilted the design.  I used my hand to smooth and distribute the fullness as evenly as I could.  Notice how the design lines do not cross over themselves?  The lines touch but don't cross.  This prevents tucks.  Look closely to see where the fullness is between the lines of stitching.

I move the tape and quilt the next section.  Notice how I moved the tape so it partially covers the previous stitched design?  That's so the design is closer together when finished. 

I move the tape to the third section and quilt it. 

Here I'm ready to do the last section of this block. 

Here's the finished block.  Sorry about the dark picture.  Batteries were getting low.  If you look closely you will see the extra fullness within the stitching lines but there are no tucks anywhere.  After this quilt is washed a couple of times even the extra fullness will not show anymore.  The fabric threads will relax into the batting.  You see.... I really can "quilt that out" for my customers.  Knock on wood! Someone may be lurking around with an issue quilt waiting to challenge me.  Grin... I can handle it.

For those who work with pantographs instead of freehand.... you can do this too.   I used to do this same technique with pantos before I learned to do freehand.  Choose a panto with no crossing lines.  Treat each large square block as if it's a tiny quilt top.  Don't look at the squares around it.... just focus on the one square.  Get it quilted and move to the next tiny quilt top. 

There was an issue that kept creeping into my eyesight.  Can you see the dark string under the white fabric?  It was bugging the heck out of me. 

Out comes my trusty crochet needle and in a short minute it was out of there.

All gone and now you never know it was ever there. 

The next area I'm quilting is the setting triangles.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On point quilt part two

Now that I've gotten the whole quilt stabilized by stitching in the ditch around all the blocks and the borders, it's time to start the quilting.  I prefer to do the outside borders first.  This is the area that will have the largest amount of fullness.... in most cases.  There are times when the borders are smaller than the top creating a "D" cup top. 

For this quilt I need designs that do not cross over themselves.  The stitching lines may touch but not cross over.  The reason is to keep the extra fullness between the stitching lines but not be pushed into a previous stitching line.  That's really hard to describe so look at this photo.  The stitching lines go back and forth in arcs, to touch in the points, but does not cross over itself.  You see what I mean? 

Here the design is stitched out.  Can you see how the extra fullness is worked in between the stitching lines?  Click on the photo to get a larger view.  If I had done a design that crossed over itself, there would be tiny tucks at the crossings. 

Here is how I measured to keep the scallops somewhat even.  I'm not trying to make a show quality quilt, just one that looks really nice in spite of the issues.  I measured the border from the stitching line on one side to the stitching line of the other side then divided it by 3.  I can make my scallops best at between 2 1/2 and 3 inches.  It came out to just a smidgen more than three inches for each one.  Everybody knows what a smidgen is don't they?  It's about the same amount as a pinch or a dash.  Anyway, I put a small chalk mark where the scallops should touch the inside border.  Those marks are my target as I make the scallops. 

Instead of doing the inside border next I'm going to work on the solid blocks.  Partly because Kathi has an issue quilt up next on her machine and I want her to see what's possible.  Mostly I'm doing these because I work the areas with the greatest amount of fullness first.  You can see the solid blocks have quite a bit of fullness to deal with. 

I'll be working on these today and will have pictures here tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On point quilts

This is the on point quilt that's going onto the machine now.  On point quilts have a unique set of issues.  The setting triangles have more stretch than square set quilts.  If a machine quilter isn't careful about how the quilt is loaded onto the machine; the quilt will stretch and distort causing areas of extra fullness next to very tight areas and especially friendly borders.  If you can educate your customers to simply do a line of stay stitching around the blocks and setting triangles before sewing the rows together it would prevent a lot of the stretching issues.

Since this top does not have any stay stitching, I know there was stretch when the borders were sewn on.  No matter how carefully an on point set quilt is pieced, it stretches when the borders are put on.  Also,  many people simply cut a long strip of fabric and start sewing it on the sides.  Many people don't take the time to measure the top for the correct length of border nor do they pin it to the top before sewing.  As a professional machine quilter it's my job to "quilt that out" and give them a fantastic quilt back no matter what the issues are.

The first thing is to measure in three places.  Measure the top edge, the bottom edge, and the center. 

I usually fold the top in half to do the measuring on my intake table.  I can fold back to measure the two ends.

Turn the top around on the table to measure the center.

The measurements for this top are 104 at the top edge, 103.25 at the bottom edge, and 103 across the center.  I use 103 as my target measurement.  Why?  Because it's the smallest measurement.  It's easier for me to work in fullness than it is to try to add fabric where there isn't any.  In other words I can shrink 104 down to 103 by doing the quilting but I can't stretch 103 out to 104 if there is no stretch in the fabric.  Borders are usually straight grain with no stretch.  I hope you understand.  Sometimes it's hard to put into type talked words what I see in my mind.

After I've got the backing loaded I measure from the center of the leader out to the side.  See the blue mark?  That's center of the leader.  I measure out from there.

I make a mark at 51 1/2 inches from the center.  That's half of 103.  I make the mark right on the batting.  I do the same thing on the other side.  It doesn't matter if you float your tops or not.  You can do the same for both techniques. 

Now bring the top up to where you plan to stitch (or pin) the top to the backing.  I had found the center of the top before putting it on the machine.  I had put a safety pin at the center.  With this pin I place the center of the top right at the center of the leader. 

Moving out to the side I place the edge of the top where I made the mark on the batting and put a pin to hold it there.  I do the same thing on the other side.  This will be the beginning edge of the quilting. 

See the fullness that will have to be worked in by the design?  I use the single stitch function on my machine and stitch the edge of the top to the backing and batting.  If you don't have a single stitch function you can use pins to hold it.  I work with the extra fullness to distribute it as evenly as I can as I stitch along the top edge.

Ok, before I start the actual quilting, I also need to keep the quilt at 103 all the way to the end.   I have a tape measure specifically set up for this.  I measure from the end of the belly bar to the edge of the top.  The measurement is 43.  It's backward from normal reading a tape measure because it's the side with the numbers I can read.  I need a new tape measure.

See the velcro on the bar?  There's a piece of velcro on the back of the tape measure to hold it steady in one spot.  I write the measurement on a piece of masking tape so I don't forget if I am taken away from the machine for any length of time. 

I go to the other side of the machine and measure there too.  It is 43 too so I know the top is loaded correctly.  Each time I advance the quilt I'll check this measurement on both sides.  If the top is off a little I can easily adjust it.  Being off a mere 1/4 and not correcting will multiply each time the quilt is advanced.  At some point, while advancing, the extra fullness of the side borders will become apparent.  With on point quilts the fullness usually shows up about half way.  Keeping the side measurement the same, I can work with the fullness to distribute it as evenly as possible.

Now I'll start stitching in the ditch around all the blocks and along the border to stabilize the top to the batting and backing.  If you don't do stitch in the ditch you can pin the whole top from beginning to end.  Why do I stitch around the blocks instead of just doing a design?  Well, I want to know the end of the quilt top actually comes out to 103 before doing a lot of quilting.  It's much easier to pick out a single line of stitching around the blocks (or remove pins) than it is to pick out a whole bunch of designs.  I can also find the areas that are going to give me problems when doing the design.  Like this.

If I get all the way to the end of stitching around the blocks, and there is a problem, I frog stitch back to where I made the mistake and do that part over.  After the whole top is all stabilized and squared I can work with designs that will deal with areas of extra fullness. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

On point quilt

This is the next quilt going on the machine.  It's an on point set quilt with special issues.  I'm going to be doing some posts on my helpful hints blog about dealing with the special issues of on point quilts.  I realized I had very few posts on that blog about quilting hints.  I kinda got fully involved with frugal foods and other stuff then neglected quilt or sewing posts.  Later I hope to do more posts about dealing with issue quilts, my backward piecing techniques, and some other sewing stuff.  If you want to follow the posts about this quilt just click on the link on the side bar. 

I'll still be posting how I'm progressing on this quilt on this blog.  I plan hope to make some changes to all three blogs over the holiday break.... after all the customer quilts are finished for the year.  I'm going to put links into pages at the top where everything will be easier to find.

Over the weekend I worked some more on my window quilts.  I sewed the bar holders and the cabone rings into place.  Next will be attaching the strings to raise and lower them.  One step closer to getting those darned window quilts installed.  Thank goodness it hasn't gotten really cold yet.  I've still got a little time. 

I planning hoping to do quite a bit of organizing over the holiday break too.   It's been too long since I actually did any organizing of my craft stuff.  It's hard to be creative when I can't find the one thing I need.  You know the one thing that is perfect for the next step but it's hidden underneath all the other one things I wasn't able to find several days ago for the other craft.  We all know about that don't we.  Those things that tend to hide from us until we are busy with something else, then they pop up to be right in view.  Strange but they weren't there the other day when I was looking for them.  Everything needs a home.  I'm going to do my best to find them one.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bargain whipping cream

I use what bargains I can find, when I can find them.  For example these cartons of whipping cream.  If you enlarge the photo you can see the use by date says 10-19-10.  I bought these on the 15th.  There are a couple of things I could do to extend the life of the cream.   I could freeze it in the carton.  It would last for two months in the freezer if it remains unopened but no longer than that.  Any longer than two months and it separates then goes bad even in the freezer.  It also goes bad if opened and then put into the freezer too.

I could make whipped cream for a bunch of deserts but that's a lot of deserts to be eaten don't you think?  One dollop at a time just won't do for getting all the food value before it goes bad.  I could make ice cream.  I could even make my own sour cream chip dip.  But for these three containers I believe I'll make some homemade butter.  There's just no comparison between the stuff called margarine and real honest to goodness cream butter.

So how do I start?  Well, the cream needs to be left out of the fridge for awhile to let it come up to room temperature.  I know it can be done while the cream is cold but that takes longer.  I pour the cream into the mixer.  

Turn it on "slow" and gradually go to a higher setting.  I'm trying to get whipped cream first. 

Even with slowly going to a higher speed I got a big mess.  I made myself a splash guard for my machine because mine didn't come with one.  I gotta add a splash guard to my wish list.

Here it's gotten almost to the whip cream stage but it needs to go even farther in the mixing.  It will happen very, very quickly so I can't leave the machine for anything.  Not even to answer the phone.

Here the cream has gone from a white color to a slight yellow color and is separating.

I let it whip only a couple seconds more and I see the butter form right before my eyes.

Now I stop the machine.  See, I told you I got messy with this.  The butter looks sort of like watery yellow cottage cheese which is what I want.

Dip the butter out of the bowl into another bowl then pour the remaining milk into a quart jar.  This is homemade buttermilk folks.  It's not the same as the creamy buttermilk you get in the stores.  They add cream back into that buttermilk.  This is pure buttermilk.  I don't throw it away.  I put it into the fridge for drinking or for cooking. 

Now I have to wash the butter to remove all traces of the milk.  If the milk is not removed completely the butter will go bad in a couple of days.  It's the milk that spoils, not the fat.  How do I wash butter? 

By smooshing it with a spatula on the side or bottom of the bowl with a little cold tap water added.  Working the water through the butter as if I'm trying to mix them together.  Of course oil and water don't mix so it runs out taking the extra milk with it.  The first washing produces something very milky color like the buttermilk but it's really just water.  I can throw this away.  I won't be tempted to add it to my buttermilk because then I'll have very watery buttermilk.  It will spoil really quickly too. 

I wash for a few minutes then pour out the water.  I add fresh cold tap water.  This is how the water looks after the second washing.  A little cloudy but better.   I pour this out and add more cold tap water.

I repeat the washing until I get nothing but clean clear water.

Just to be sure I've gotten all the milk out, I wash it one more time.

Now I have butter.  At this point I can leave it unsalted if I want.  I personally believe the salt acts as a preservative so I add it in.  About a teaspoon of salt for each pint is what my Grandmother taught me to add.  I mix the salt in really well. 

If I still had my butter mold that's what I would do with the butter now.  But.... since I don't have the mold I just put it into a bowl and then into the fridge.   Actually the butter can be left out on the counter without any problems.  I remember as a child we didn't have electricity.  We used butter in our cooking and we ate it on our food so it never lasted more than 3 or 4 days anyway.   By the time one batch was gone, we had enough fresh cream from the cows to make another batch.

Umm.... wait just a minute!  What's fresh butter without fresh bread to test it out?  Mmm.... yummy.  Sorry, no picture of the butter spread on the bread.  I was too busy eating.  A little honey and I had a feast.

There are a number of ways to make your own butter.  It can be done with a blender, a hand mixer, a food processor, or as a children's home school experiment using marbles in a jar.  Give it a try, it's lots of fun.  It took me only 5 minutes of watching the mixer and I had butter.  Another 5 minutes of washing it.