Thursday, February 28, 2013

Truthful Thursday

I have been lazy.  I am blaming it on the weather.  I haven't sewed anything in a few days.
Sad But TRUE.

Enjoy this picture that I painted a few years ago.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Some Embroidery on Mug Rugs

Machine Embroidery is a nice way to add embellishment to a mug rug, a quilt or even towels.  I needed to make some mug rugs. So I decided to use the embroidery machine to make them instead of piecing.  The truth is, piecing would have been faster.  Still I do like what I came up with.

For the first one I chose to use a design I got from Marjorie at B-Quilts. I realized once I started that I didn't have a die with the 1" circle so I had to cut those by hand. Oops, mine were not perfect so there are some bits that stick out beyond the embroidery.  (Note to self -see if you can get one of those dies.)
The larger circles are cut with the AccuQuilt GO! Circle die.

The third one needed a honeybee.  I looked through my design library and could not find a honeybee.  I didn't want to buy another design since I am attempting to learn digitizing.  So I sat down and digitized this little bee. It is not as great a design as I wanted it to "bee" but it works.

All of the other designs are programed into my embroidery machine. (They came pre-installed.)
My edge finishes are quirky to be nice about it. Still I think these are cute mug rugs.

What is your favorite way to make a mug rug? Do you like the embroidered ones?

Oh yes.  there is a giveaway at Hilachas (I love that name) Blog You could win one of two sets of 6 fat quarters.  But I want the Jungle Fever ones...okay?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Designs R Us

I have been using Electric Quilt 7 to make some applique designs.  I think that these designs would make great machine embroidery designs.  So in the coming weeks I will be converting these designs into machine embroidery designs.
Here is a sneak peek at two of the designs:
Puff the Penguin

My Little House

What would be your preference:  Total machine embroidery OR a combination of applique and machine embroidery?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Altering Fabric

As some of you kind readers know, I like to play at dyeing fabric.   So when I was shopping and discovered a product called deColourant, I had to try it.    I have been wanting to do some discharging of color, but I can be so sloppy that I was afraid to try it with household bleach.

(note: discharging is simply removing color from the fabric)

After I ordered the deColourant, I did some research on using it. Yes, I know I should have done that first, but I was impetuous this time.  I found that it is supposed to work nicely with rubber stamps.  Cool, I could use some of my hand carved stamps to print designs on the fabrics.  It can also be brushed on.  And it is designed for natural fiber such as cotton.

So I got a piece of dark purple fabric to play with.  I think it is cotton, but I would not swear to that.  I put down some wax paper under the fabric and stamped and painted on the fabric with the deColourant.  Then comes the hard part.  You have to wait for it to dry.  I played it smart and left the house.

When I got back it was dry. The patterns were stark white and felt like --uh- toothpaste dried on the front of you shirt that you find after you get to work. It was kind of stiff and grainy. The next step is to iron over it until the color is lifted to your liking.  It mentions on the label that you can use steam for extra lift. So I started ironing. The white started to disappear and the effect looked weak.  I started steaming - with the iron of course.  I wasn't sure if it was where I wanted it or not.  Still, I took it to the sink and washed it out. Then I decided to iron it mostly dry.  The designs did show.

I hung it to dry - and promptly forgot it.  This evening I took a picture.  Due to the flash you can see the shiny white board it is hanging on thru the cloth.  But you can see how the designs came out also
 The brick lay pattern and dots were just painted on with a stiff bristle brush.  I love the pale warm purple tones and interesting edges that show in this.
 The leaves were added with a stamp that I carved. So was that little flower on the right.

The last picture is probably a little more true in color, although it is not quite that light.
This was fun. I will definitely try it again.  Next time I will likely use a lighter color of fabric just to see what happens.

I guess I am still a little boy when it comes to playing in this type of thing. Being childlike in creativity is a good thing.  Let your inner child loose and tell me what happens.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thread and Scrap Catcher Take Two

After seeing how easy the thread catcher was to make with quilting cottons, I got brave.  I took out a couple of heavier weight home dec fabrics and made another one.  The first one I left at a friend's house to have there when I sew there.

In case you are wondering if I really need this, let me show you what I have been using.
Yes, it is a box that instant oatmeal came in.  It was handy and I needed something that day--how long  ago was that....uh..nevermind!
You can see some scraps in that box from this very project.  Yup!  Pink and Green fabrics with polka dots were what I had.

Now doesn't that look nicer?   I left off the hanging loop since this will just sit on the table. 
And below you can see the inside a little better.
I did make this one a little shorter than the first one.  And let me give you a link to the pattern. You can easily adjust the "short" measurement to make it shorter. I am sure you could adjust the longer measurement if you wanted a bigger one but this size is great for me. 

The sewing machine in the picture is a new addition.  It is a Janome MC 6600P.  It seems to be a real workhorse of  a machine.  I knew going in that it does not have a free arm.  But that is the only thing that seems to be missing.  This will replace my BabyLock machine as my quilt making machine. I will likely sell the BabyLock as I don't need it anymore.
I have found that this machine is great for free-motion quilting.  The trick is to increase the upper tension quite a bit. Then it does a wonderful job.  This is also a heavy machine and a friend who is an engineer told me that it sounds like a well made and sturdy machine. That made me happy with my decision to buy it when I could.  I got a great price on it.  It is also a high shank machine.  I had never had a high shank machine before. I think that it mainly allows for more height under the arm.

Thread and Scrap Catcher

While wandering around the internet I found this lovely simple FREE pattern.  It is designed for laminated fabrics, but I didn't have any, so I used cotton. I also had a pre-pieced chunk of fabric that was big enough for the outside. So I decided to try it with that just to see how easy or hard the pattern was. In a very short time I had this completed.
The pattern is designed by Lila Tueller.  It is a bit hidden in the picture but at the top left there is a hanging loop.  The pattern called for grosgrain ribbon but I improvised with left over binding.  I made a tube, turned it and called it good.
I will be making this again with some home decor fabric that I already have, it has a smooth surface that I am sure will make this easy to empty. (Ease of emptying is one of the reasons for using a laminate.) The home dec fabric will also give it more body so that it will hold its shape better.  I will also adjust the size since for sewing bits it doesn't need to be as tall.

And, yes, I know that the hearts are wrong side up. I wanted the pieced band around the top, so I am ignoring the hearts. Ha ha..or I could say that sewing makes me so happy my heart turns flips!

These would also make great trash bags for the car.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Almost -sigh

Almost, but not quite.  I was so ready to get started, but something went wrong.
You see, I had plans to make this adorable little dress for my great niece.
I have this pattern that I won.  It is called "Peaceout" by OliveAnn Designs.

Well you know that I don't usually make clothing.  It has been ages since I needed or wanted to read a pattern for clothing. But my niece loved this fabric for it.

Sweet Tooth Rock Candy by Anthology Fabrics 

I had already made a working copy of the pattern (it is several sizes and I want to make a larger version for her older sister.)  I cut out adequate fabric and ironed it neatly. I started laying out the pattern and went "Oops!"
There where I had not looked before was a requirement for lining fabric. How did I miss that?
So I have laid it aside and will work on it another day.
No sewing today, but I did at least pet the nice fabric. Have you been sewing?

I will post more about this as I actually work on it. (I also looked on Pinterest for something else to make for her with the fabric, but I think I will wait and make this dress. The problem was that I got lost on Pinterest and didn't make anything! )

I also need to tell you that there is a great giveaway at A Yankee in Queen Liz's Court.  The prize is a very cool lighting system for your sewing machine.  I would love to win it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Today is...

Valentine's Day..   I hope you day is filled with love and happiness that extends through the years.
Embroidered Quilt Block

Painting by Gene Black

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pay it Forward - I need three participants

I signed up for a "pay it forward" giveaway.  I got my pay it forward "prize" and as part of that I have to pay it forward to three people.   If you want to be one of the three you MUST promise to pay it forward to three more people within a year to keep this going. I am limiting this to participants in the USA as I have limited funds for shipping.

I will take the first three who ask.  I would like to make something just for you that you will enjoy.
That said, it may take me a little while to get these made -it may take me some time.
I have a quick questionnaire.  You can answer them here OR wait for my reply email.  Which reminds me, you can NOT be a no-reply blogger and participate.  Why?  because I won't be able to contact you.

So my questions are:

1.Do you read physical books? (would you like a bookmark?)

2.What are your favorite colors OR color combinations?

3.What colors are in your kitchen? (or maybe you would like a potholder?)

4.What are your hobbies? (never know what I will use this answer for!)

5. Would you like a mug rug? (now that is a straight up question!)

I am grateful that I have more than I need and can share things I make.

EDIT--wow that was fast! I have all three.  

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Making New Friends-More Mexico

Yes I promised another story from my trip to Mexico so here are two stories.

One day I was walking about the neighborhood and strayed a bit far.  I came upon this business:

The sign was there but no-one was around that day (the picture was taken another day.)  I happened to know that Peluqueria means Barber Shop.  I have this interesting quirk that I like to get a haircut on a trip. The first time I did this was on my one first trip to Mexico in the late seventies.  So, I walked into the shop. What??? It is open but no-one is around! So I walked out and looked around.  A boy of about 10-12 came running up and asked something that I guessed was "Are you looking for the barber?"  So I said yes.  He ran back the way he came and returned with another boy that looked about 15-16 chasing him.  In my mind I said, "Oh the older brother speaks English."  Nope! No English.  He was the barber. Ha ha!  I pointed to one of the pictures on the wall. And tried to say "Like this but longer on top"  He looked confused and said "Just a minute" (in Spanish of course)
I waited and he ran into the house beside the shop.  He came back with his grandfather who DID speak English.  So I told him what I wanted and he translated.  Alex, the barber started cutting my hair and Grandfather (abuelo in Spanish) stayed and talked to me the entire time.  I found out that Alex is 20 and has been cutting hair since he was (gasp!) ten years old.  And Grandfather's name is Frank (Francisco.)
After the cut and as I was paying, I saw a musical instrument, a recorder, laying on a counter.  I asked if Alex played it.  Yes he does. So I pulled my penny whistle out of my backpack and played a few notes. Alex grinned widely. Ha makes a connection regardless of language.
Here is  a picture of Alex taken the same day as the above picture.
Alex - Alejandro

Another day, I decided to go to the main square in town which is a nice park with lots of benches.  I found an area where I didn't think I would be bothering anyone and sat down. I pulled out my pennywhistle and started playing.  There were two attractive young ladies taking pictures of each other.  Then I noticed them coming my way. They both pulled out iPhones and started taking pictures of me.  I smiled and finished my tune.  One of them spoke English and asked if they could take pictures of them with me.  I said "Yes, but you have to take some with my camera too" She smiled a happy smile and said Certainly.  After the pictures she introduced herself as Mariela and her friend Dasy (like Daisy but without an "i" and pronounced Dah-see ---that is an "ahhh" sound; not a long "a" )
She also asked about the penny whistle.  I explained it to her.  She said "I love everything about Ireland, but I have never been there"  I said "I haven't either."
Here are pictures of me with the two adorable young ladies.

Once again music helped me make new friends.  These two were from another state in Mexico and were sightseeing.  Who knew that I was one of the sights to see in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico ?

Beach Delay

Today's post will be delayed. I can't find the pictures for it.  Meanwhile, here is a gratuitous beach photo from Progreso, Mexico

See you later!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

What I brought home from Mexico

Needless to say, I didn't go on a trip and return without something for sewing. Ha ha, that rarely happens.  I found the fabric stores and even an upholstery supply store.

I first went in a fabric store to get something to cover a window where a light was shining in my room at night. (They have added a curtain there now - because they are really customer centered) I found some black plastic that is used as a table cover and got a yard (less than a dollar-honest!)
But I also saw some material that I think will make great kitchen towels.
I will put some pretty thread on my serger and serge the ends. I got a meter of each (slightly more than a yard) So I should have several towels from it.

Another day, I wandered into a shop that had upholsteryfabrics (think vinyl) but behind the counter I saw huge rolls of zippers. So in my pathetically poor Spanish, I asked how much per meter and if the pulls came with it. (Yes I used the charade method to get the "pulls" across) Oooh...good price so I bought two meters and got some extra pulls.  I had no idea how to put the pulls on the zipper, but I found it on YouTube.  When I tried it back in the room, I realized that these will be fun.  So I priced zippers and pulls on Etsy and other online stores. Hmmmm...The next day I tried to find that store again. No luck!  But I found another store, and they had some. SCORE!  so I got some other colors and made myself happy.

That one that looks white is a light blue, or as the lady explained to me "cielo."
I also saw some buttons in that store and decided to get some fun looking ones and some "useful" ones.
Those pink hologram ones will probably go on some little girl things.
At yet another store I found some thread snips and a nice seam ripper. (really really cheap to buy but the work nicely.)
And what is that in the next case? Look at those little owl buttons! They are small and adorable.  I should have bought as many in pink also. Ooops.

Finally on another day (otra dia) I went find change for a "big" bill. (not that big but still hard to get changed)  I went in the fabric store and saw I picked three and then asked if I bought did they have change. (score again!) So I got these:

That large white flower at the bottom is almost as big as my head! And can you go wrong with black and white?  The upper right one has that navy blue and green as a border print.  The red with flowers just looked like a fun fabric.
These fabrics came from this store:

So that is the fabric and notion shopping that I did on this trip.

This weekend I will have some more pictures from my trip -and another story of how my penny whistle played a part in meeting some other people on the trip.
Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Monday, February 04, 2013

Top of the World

I have been largely missing lately as you may have noticed.  A friend and I went on an adventure.  We went to a lovely place called Merida.  It is on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and is actually the capital of the state of Yucatan.  I had a great time letting go of stress and working on my Spanish (which is still very poor.)
 Almost every day I went to the market for fresh fruit and/or juice.  We ate at  several places. One of my favorite was a cocina economica, which is a place where you buy prepared food to take home.  This was only a couple of blocks away from the place we were staying. We stayed in a privately owned Studio apartment in a true Mexican neighborhood.  It just so happened that I took a couple of my pennywhistles along with me and played while sitting out on the 2nd floor terrace.  This led to an interesting experience.  You see, across the street was a house that was being rented by some musicians who had jobs playing with the Symphony in town.  One day, I was out on the street trying to figure out what a particular tree in a nearby yard was. (It was an African Tulip Tree) One of the ladies (young compared to me) came out and spoke.  She said "We have been wanting to meet you." That rather surprised me. They had heard me playing the pennywhistle.  Then came the real surprise. She said that they had really enjoyed hearing me play.  We chatted for a moment and decided I would come over one afternoon the next week and see her harp.  The day I went over, I also met one of the French Horn players named Meredith.  We had quite a nice chat.
Later I googled the Harpist's name and found out that she is an award winning harpist.  Yep, that put me on top of the world.
Another day, we went to some ruins South of the city. This was a great place because unlike some ruins you can climb up on things.

Here I am on top of the world again.  This structure was pretty high. (I am working on overcoming my fear of heights.)
Then I realized I had a problem- I have to get down from here. And those steps are STEEP!
Let me sit and think about this:
Okay, I confess.  I came down most of the way on my tush. When I got closer to the bottom I did step down the last 5-6 steps.
You will see more pics later.
Oh, here are photos of our appetizers and meal at the beach one day.

Let me tell you, that fish was fresh and delicious.