Wednesday, February 29, 2012

To Quilt or not to Quilt..that is the question

I had every intention of quilting the Eyellusion quilt tonight.  But the weather is stormy and there is some scary thunder and lightning.  I really don't want to plug in my machine and risk a nasty power here is a (not so good) picture of it basted and ready to be quilted.   Oh yes..and you get a peek at the back!

It is "hairspray basted" and lightly pinned.  This is just what works well for me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

EQ Play time

Half Wind Mill Quilt by GeneBlack
Half Wind Mill Quilt, a photo by GeneBlack on Flickr.

Just playing in Electric Quilt 7 and I came up with this design.
EQ7 makes designing a quilt fun and easy. You can print out rotary cutting instructions, templates or even paper piecing foundations so that making the quilt is very possible.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Machine Embroidery - New Machine

Last weekend  I wandered into a fabric store on a whim.  I noticed on the door "Authorized Brother Dealer."
I looked at one machine and the store owner started talking to me. (I have been wanting a larger embroidery machine for quite a while.)  So I asked a price on it. Not too bad, I thought.  Then she said "The real deal that I have right now is that  Innov-ís 5000. The company had a different machine for sale and ran out  of them in the warehouse.  So they gave me some of this one to sell.  I have two left."  She told me the price.  Yikes!  that is half of the normal selling price.  Oh, wait.  I have a bid on an embroidery machine on eBay. If I win it, I can't afford this one. (well okay I really couldn't afford it anyway- but I wanted it!)  So I told her I would call back if I didn't win.  Confession: I have NEVER been SO HAPPY to see "you have been outbid."  Of course it was night and she was closed. I called when she opened the next morning and said "Put my name on it!"  Then I had to wait almost a week until I could travel back to buy it.  Ha!  I took off early Friday because I couldn't wait any more.
This machine is pretty interesting. It has a threader like I have never seen. You put the thread into the path, it has a cutter that trims it. You push a button and it threads it perfectly every time.
Well why am I typing this?  Watch here.

Pretty amazing huh?  But the work I can turn out with it is even more amazing to me.  You saw some of it yesterday (I hope.)  I absolutely love it.  If I can ever take the embroidery arm off long enough, I want to try the sewing features. It has an automatic height adjuster (AHA) that senses the fabric thickness and adjusts the height of the foot.   But back to the embroidery side.  I can now do larger designs.  The big frame is 7" by 12" and it has three smaller sizes. It will embroider up to 1000 stitches a minute. I am loving it.  If you don't see me  for a while, you will know why.
Oh yes.. Hilachas has a giveaway on her blog. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Embroidery - a new beginning

What I worked on Friday:
 A pretty t-shirt for Mom
 Quilted a table topper - using an embroidery machine.
And I stitched out this design that took 84 minutes of sewing time....that doesn't include time spent changing the thread - 26 thread changes! Yeah, I should have added an extra layer of stabilizer under it too.  Live and learn. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Part one - Done

I always consider making the quilt top to be Part One.  There is still the layering, quilting and binding to be done.
So Part One  of the Eye-llusion quilt is done.
I had to piece the border, so I decided to add some little pops of color in the border. The green border fabric is not the same as the green pieces, but it matches so closely that it isn't obvious.  The plan was to add another border of the purple fabric, but once this border was on the size was perfect.   So I will piece the back and use the purple strips I had already cut for border in the backing.
I just love this quilt top.
For those of you who are trying to learn about putting colors together let me try to explain this one.  Purple is made by mixing blue and red.  Green is made by mixing blue and yellow.  Thus blue is the common link in the green and purple.
Someone said "I would never think to put purple and green together!"  I said "Take a look at nature! An iris is purple on a green stem and it is lovely."

Yes, if it goes together in nature it is a sure bet it will work in quilting or painting!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review - Sonoma Rose

First let me say that reading is a true passion with me.   As a young child, I wanted to read.  My mother read lots of things.  My older sister started school and soon she was reading too.  I felt left out. I saw the joy they got from books.  I did have one book of my very own.  I could "read" it too.  You see, I had memorized every word.  "Little boy blue, come blow your horn...."  It was a book of nursery rhymes with wonderful illustrations. 
Fast forward a few years. (okay, okay!  more than a few!) 
Two or three weeks ago, I got an email asking if I would like to review a book. Ha!  Yes please! 

I was sent a pre-release copy of  Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini.  

The first night I started reading it, I had very little time to read.  I only read the first sixteen pages before I had to do something else. It was tough to put the book down; you see, I was already hooked.  This book is a great read. The characters quickly came to life and I was totally involved in the story of Rosa Diaz Barclay.  Rosa is in a terrible marriage. Rosa has borne eight children.   Two of her children are ill with a devastating illness that has already claimed the lives of four other children.  The other two children are robust and healthy. 
This story takes place in California during the days of Prohibition.  As California is known for the wine country in Sonoma valley, prohibition meant the loss of livelihood for many families.  Ms. Chiaverini manages to weave a story that will keep you spellbound as you learn about that history.   For me, the aspect of the children's illness was another interesting part of the story. 
Although Jennifer Chiaverini is known for stories that involve quilts, the quilts play only a small supporting role in this book. 
This book has characters that are well developed and complex. The story is rich and satisfying like a good meal.   You will close this book with a smile and a sigh.  

I highly recommend this book.  It was a delight. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Design Floor - Eye-llusion update (Plus!)

Whew.... I have been working on the Eye-llusion quilt.  I have enough fabric for nine of my desired 12 squares. I will probably just use the nine squares and add some borders to make it bigger.
I have six of the squares laid out on the design floor.
They are not laid perfectly but  you can see that even with just six blocks, once it is joined, the optical illusion of the curves shows up. When it is sewn I am sure it will be "WOW!"  I love this simple-to-make but complex-to-the-eye design.  It is just fun.
The best part is that I designed it in Electric Quilt and I cut the pieces with the AccuQuilt Go! cutter.    I wish you could see it in person, the colors are much better. Maybe we will have a nice sunny day to get a good picture once it is completed.

And then I designed this in Electric Quilt 7
The coloring adds extra dimension to this design.  I see so many secondary patterns that I doubt I would ever get tired of this in a room.

Oooh..I am a guest artist today on Artfabrik by Laura Wasilowski

Friday, February 17, 2012

EQ7 -Just playing

Electric Quilt 7 has some features I have not seen before.  Of course, I am the type that opens a program with no fear and goes through the menus saying "what does this do?"  And then of course I try it to see.
In the block drawing/editing section, I found something on the menu that says "Serendipity."
Well ladies and gents, that was something I had to try.
Here are two quilt layouts using block settings from this experiment.

I am not sure I could ever make these...but they are certainly fun to design an look at.
Now back to playing!
Tomorrow I have to go get my taxes done (ugh!) and do some errands.   I hope to get back to sewing on the "Eye-llusion" quilt.
Y'all have a great weekend - and I hope you are getting a long weekend for President's day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pushing forward

There is more progress on Eye-llusion.  I have finished a third block and did some chain piecing to get this:
I need to cut more pieces -there are enough for three more blocks. Except, well see those three patches in the front left?  I have to cut the teal/aqua color for the ends of those strips and sew them on.
Once that is done, it will be "off to the races" if I have time to sew.   This is exciting.  I love it when a project kicks into gear.
I am thinking that this will be 45" by 60" before the borders.  That means it will be a total of 12 blocks. I am better than a fourth of the way there.  I have one fear- I may run out of the yellow-green fabric.  (or possibly one of the others) then what will I do?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Progress Yaay!

Just a quick update on the Eye-llusion quilt.  I have completed and joined two blocks.
Yes, two blocks and I am beginning to see that it will become very much like this  that I designed in EQ5. (EQ-Electric Quilt) And I am starting to see the "curve that isn't a curve" in it.  I love it. 

I have great news also!  I am getting EQ7.   I can't wait to see the improvements that a two version upgrade will make.  Now, I am planning to work a bit in EQ7, once it arrives.  So, how many of you have EQ 7?   Are you proficient in it?  I am planning to do some tutorials. 
Are you ready for some "homework" ????   
What I would like is that those of you that have EQ7 tell me what aspects you struggle with OR else just wonder "How do I ____ in Electric Quilt?"   
I want to help you while I am learning. I think it will be a win-win situation! 
I also want to design some quilts and share 'pattern ideas' with you. 
I am excited - I hope you are too!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Eye-llusion - Take 2

or -from concept to execution.
After playing in EQ, I had to get my hands on some real fabric and put my foot on the pedal of the sewing machine.  I just had to!
I got out my GO! and cut enough 'triangle in a square' and 'half square triangles' to make three blocks.  Ahh, then I started sewing. I got those sewn pretty fast. Then I had to cut all the other squares. That involved ironing some yardage of fabric. ***I love my Velocity iron that I got for Christmas***
I cut the squares with my rotary cutter on the new mat.  WOW a new mat and a fresh blade work wonders for rotary cutting!

Laying out one of those whomping big 15" blocks  sounded like a good idea just to get an idea -and make sure I put it together according to plan!

Oh my goodness! that is a total of 25 pieces to sew together.  The center 9 patch doesn't freak me out at all...but then I have to sew the outer rows on. First a set of three on each end, then a set of five on each side.  Arrgh..and try to make all those corners match neatly???   Now I have scared myself!  And to top it off, it doesn't seem to have that magic optical illusion just yet.

Suggestions anyone?
P.S.  I hate pinning, but that may be the only way to make it work out.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Eye-llusion - part of an EQ weekend

I suppose that this is an Electric Quilt or EQ weekend for me.  I have done a lot of sitting at the computer drafting blocks in EQ.
Over at Frog Quilter I have been watching as eye fooler  blocks have been made.  I love an optical illusion but I didn't love all the piecing that she has in one block.  So, open EQ and see if we can simplify.  (Thoreau said "Simplify, simplify" - and sometimes simple is better! or at least easier, heehee.)
I took out the flying geese, the four patches AND  the corner half square triangles.

I made this a whomping big 15" finished block. Each section is 3" finished.  (I did this because I have the "triangle in a square" die for my GO! cutter and the 3"  half square triangle die)

Thus, the digital sample shown here would make a 60" by 75" top not counting the borders. With borders as shown (1" inner, 2" outer) it would come to 66" by 81".   I am sure I won't be making one that big anytime soon unless it is a commission!
I call this quilt Eye-llusion. If you make one, I would love to see it.
If anyone from the Electric Quilt company sees this and feels generous, I would love a copy of EQ7 to replace my old EQ5.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Drawing Up Blocks

Last week, I was in a class for work.  The instructors throughly enjoyed hearing themselves speak.  More than I did apparently. Ha ha.  So during some of the lecture, I drafted a couple of blocks in my notebook. This morning I opened my trusty old EQ5  and digitized them.

The second one is simply a variation on the first one. I played a lot with colorations. I am not yet happy with my color layouts on the blocks.  So for the quilt they are changed. (This quilt is just digital, I have not made it, and may never make it.)
I think it makes an interesting quilt. I am pretty sure it would be awesome if it were done all scrappy too.
If anyone wants the EQ5 project file, just let me know.  I will be happy to share it with you. However, if you write up a pattern to sell, I want credit and perhaps a few dollars!  Fair enough?  Yeah, I think so.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Playing with Fiber

I have been playing "Quilt Along with Melody" over at Fibermania.
I made this little "art quilt" piece for the first one.  

I am not really all that happy with it, but it was a learning experience.   Interestingly, it quilted up wonderfully. I wonder if the stabilization of the fusible on the back of the entire "top" made the difference.  I am sure I will do some more art quilt play, as the quilt along is still going.  Maybe I will try for a more organized, less "wild" piece next.
Oh and if you see an image (or images) in this abstract piece, I would love to know what you see.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Piano Keys or Coins- How to

I was thinking of making some "piano key" strips to put in the piece I am working on.  So I thought, how can I make this easier and faster.

I had a lightbulb moment.  So I developed this little tutorial for you.

I used  only two colors of fabric, but you could use any multiple of two.

Fat Quarters will work great for this.

First take two pieces of fabric that are the same size and put them right sides together. (If you are using fat quarters you may need to trim just a bit to make them the same size - all fat quarters are NOT created equally.)
Take these to the sewing machine and sew the longer edge together.
The above photo shows the first seam sewn and ready to cut.  You cut through both layers of fabric and you will have a two color strip set.Put that strip set aside for a moment.
Keep that edge that is under the ruler together, because you take that one right back to the sewing machine and sew  again. Back to the cutting board and cut off another strip set.  You can cut your strip sets all the same width or vary the widths for variety.

 I like different sizes.  A little voice in my head  says "Vary the sizes in your art work. You want to have repetition with variety.  It makes the piece more interesting for the viewer" That voice was my first art teacher.

Okay, now you have a couple of strip sets cut off AND your larger pieces.  Take them all to the machine.  The big pieces go first. Sew that long edge again.  **note: I am chain piecing here*  I leave the very end under the presser foot. The I put those two strip sets together, opposite colors facing each other, and sew them into one piece of four strips...but I leave the end under the foot again.
I snip the thread holding the larger pieces on there and go to the cutting board. I cut off another strip set.  Take the big pieces and the strip set back to the machine.
 (Have you noticed that you are getting some exercise too- Ha I am trying to make you all healthy!)
Sew the big pieces (which are getting smaller) yes-leave the end under the foot again, then snip off the strip set at the back and sew it to the 2-strip unit you cut last.
Repeat until the "big pieces" have been used up.
Ahhh!  Now - have you noticed that we never pressed any seams?  Here is how my piece looks at this point.
Now it is time to press those seams all one direction.  Since no seams crossed it is not necessary to press before this.
Are you back from pressing? Good.  Now we are ready to cut the strip sets into 'piano keys' or 'chinese coins'
Cut them the width you desire. I am doing five inches on these.  My strip set is slightly over twenty inches so I will get four sets - perfect for my project (no I am not showing it yet!) Do you see that masking tape on the ruler? Sometimes I find it difficult to see the lines on the ruler so I use the tape to mark it. (that is the tip of the day!)  
If you are making a chinese coins quilt you can use this method. Use several pairs of fabric colors and sew all the first seams- then cut all the first strip sets.Sew all the big pieces again, but then sew all the first strip sets together.

I hope this wasn't too confusing.  It is really easy to do. And it is fast (especially when you don't stop to take pictures.)  I found it much easier and faster than cutting a lot of strips and joining them one at a time.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Blocks, Books and "Why"

Saturday is usually a good day for me to get in some sewing. I made this block today.  It is not perfect, I realized after a bit of sewing that this probably works better with wider stripes.
Still,  I really think it came out pretty good.  It suits my love of wonky-ness.
This is a big block as you can tell by the picture below that shows the book that taught me to do this.
Now. before someone asks that I do a tutorial on this, I need to tell you some of my philosophy.  Several people have asked that I show how I do my "quilt as you go" method.  But that method is not mine.  I learned it from a book and adapted it. The author has since written a new book "Finish Almost Any Quilt."  I have written just one pattern and a LOT time and effort goes into this type of endeavor.  The author of the book deserves the same consideration I would want for myself.  They did the work, so if you want to see their method, they deserve the pay.   When I develop an idea on my own, I will be happy to do a tutorial on it. (unless of course I am planning to write a book or pattern based on it!)

The truth is, I LOVE showing you how to do things.   As I wander along in my quilting, I am sure I will come up with some new things to show you soon.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


A UFO was sitting patiently awaiting my time.  So, tonight was the night I pulled it out of the box, ironed out the wrinkles, and layered these pieces.  I put on a movie and sat down to quilt.  By the time the movie was over,  I was done.
It isn't a whole  quilt, but it is more than a third of the size of the planned finish.   Now I need to piece the side panels and the back pieces.  Then I will join them together into a nice reversible quilt.  What you see in the picture is actually the "back" - but honestly, I like it better than the front.