QuiltCon Prepping Fun

block printing class sampleTool Roll_3c

Since I will taking a class from Lizzy House on Block Printing (see random sample from web, above), and since I decided I’d had enough of “have-to” sewing, I wanted to just whip up something fun. . . like a tool roll.

Tool Roll_2c

Here it is, fully loaded.  I had some leftover canvas from making bags for grandchildren, doubled that, then stitched on wee pockets for my tools.  Oh, plus a flap for rolling over the tools and a tie.
Tool Roll_1c

Empty.  It’s in the bottom of my bags that are all packed up for QuiltCon this week:

Packed for QuiltCon2016

Focus_sideview

I’ve been working backstage on a quilt to bring to the kind folks who asked me to make a further-backstage quilt for their market booth (pictures of that one coming in May).  But I wanted to have something for them to show off their fabulous new line of solids, called Painter’s Palette, so I put together this smallish quilt for them to have in their booth at QuiltCon for everyone to put their hands all over to feel the nice hand of the fabrics.  I call it Focus, and soon I’ll put up a free pattern on Craftsy for it.  Just not this week.

Focus_front

Focus, quilt #158
Approximately 38″ by 42″

Focus_front2

I quilted it lightly, because heavy quilting changes the texture of a quilt, sometimes obscuring the “hand” of the fabric.  Since it can be hung both ways, I had to construct a rod pocket that could go both ways.

Focus_back

Focus_label

See you on the backside of QuiltCon!

Lanyard Tutorial for Quilt Shows

lanyard_hangingI didn’t have a lanyard last year at QuiltCon, and my pins slipped and slid everywhere, beside the fact that I jingle-jangled as I walked.  I wanted one of those spiffy ones, where I could pin on my pins.

lanyard_1

I patchworked up a strip 3 3/4″ wide and 37″ long, took it to my ironing board and pressed it in half, lengthwise. lanyard_2

Open it up, and to one side of the center fold, lay down a 1″ wide by length-of-lanyard strip of fusible interfacing; iron that into place. lanyard_3

Fold both raw edges in, almost to the center, but not quite.  The side with the interfacing should be folded over that interfacing, and the side without interfacing should match when all folded up.  With the interfacing UP (not to the feed dogs), stitch first along one long side about 1/4″ away from the fold, then the other.  Make sure you’ve caught all the folded edges when you stitch it down.  Then stitch down the center. lanyard_4

Arrange the strips so that it will hang around your neck (see top photo), then mis-align the lower raw edges, setting the top one 1/4″ beyond the bottom strip.  Slip on the lanyard clasp. lanyard_5

Zigzag the extended top strip over the bottom strip, to hold it in place. lanyard_6

(View from the underside)

Again, for ease in wearing, slightly splay the two strips apart, then stitch along the finished ends (refer to photos). lanyard_7

(View from the top side)

lanyard_heartYes, I’m headed to QuiltCon West 2016 this week (held in Pasadena, California), along with some friends from the Good Heart Quilters, the small monthly sewing group I belong to here (which is why there is heart fabric on our lanyards).

1QuiltCon2016Classes

That Friday night class is taught by Jacqueline Sava.  I hope to meet a lot of my online friends, trying to make “real” the digital friendships I’ve enjoyed.  There should be more than a few a whole mess of photos on my Instagram feed (button is to the right).  If you are going, find me and swap me a button!

Button for QuiltShows

Halloween 1904 Quilt-A-Long

Halloween Quilt 1904

(Picture borrowed from the amazing Thelma of Cupcakes and Daisies here)

So now that the Spelling Bee is underway for the year, as well as some other quilt-a-longs I’m involved in (Oh Christmas Tree) I thought I’d get going on the Hallowe’en 1904 quilt.  The pattern was found for me by Leslie, a fabulous reader, and I’ve already roped in one friend to do this with me.  The quilt was designed by Barb Adams of Blackbird Designs.  If you want to follow along, I’ve figured out how we’re going to get done by August, leaving you plenty of time to get it quilted and bound by October.  My friend is doing it with me, so you may see some of her work here as well as  mine.

1halloweenQAL logo

So here is how I’ve envisioned dividing up the quilt into steps (yes, that’s me up there, conjuring up more time at the sewing machine):

Step 1 halloweenQAL

Step 1: February 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Mine was purchased from Common Threads in Waxahachie, TX (www.commonthreadsquilting.com).  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, and the piano key border

Step 3: April 2016–Assemble three blocks and add pumpkin appliques, using the pumpkin appliqué pattern.  We’ll be adding the HST borders in July, so don’t worry about that now. Because I am not a big believer in re-inventing the wheel, we’ll use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. (NOTE: I’m making a smaller quilt, so will only be doing 2 pumpkins.)

Step 4: May 2016–Assemble two blocks and appliqué one cat, and one owl (refer to Thelma’s quilt).

Step 5: June 2016–Assemble the rest of the blocks.  For me that is five blocks of stars.  We’ll be using Thelma’s method.

Step 6: July 2016–It’s half-square triangle month–HSTs until you can’t see straight, and then you’ll sew them onto your blocks..  There are 24 HST for each block.  In the pattern, and in the photo above from Thelma, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step 7: August 2016–Cut piano key borders and the four pinwheels in each corner.  Sew them together and attach them to the quilt.

Ta-done!  My job as a quilt-a-long crazy person is to lay out the steps and to get you (and me) to the end.  From here you’ll do the quilting and the binding.

Hope you decide to join us, and finally have that Halloween quilt you’ve always wanted on October 1st. . . instead of the usual 31st.  To keep in the spirit of things, the Hallowe’en Quilt QAL will post on the 13th of every month. . . whenever that is.

Halloween Greetings

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Update on Oh Christmas Tree QAL:  I’ve updated Step: Prepare to include a couple more places to buy high quality wool felt.  In addition, I’ve been working ahead on the circles, and have a few tips on how to construct them (from Wendy in New Zealand), so you may want to hold off on cutting the circles all out of felt, until you read the next post on March 2nd.  Lastly, today I saw the Simply Moderne magazine at my local JoAnn’s store, if you are still looking for it.

February’s Procrastination

Giveaway picking a winner

I did the Husband Random Name Generator today and Diane Nelson is the winner of the pearl cotton bubbles.  Congratulations, Diane!  I mailed them off this afternoon to you.  Glad you are making good progress on your Oh Christmas Tree.

Frivols Feb 2016

I received my latest Frivols tin, with the cutest little scissor holder–it will just fit nicely over my embroidery scissors.  I signed up for a year of these as a retirement present to myself.  So far it’s going along nicely: I have a stack of seven tins on my sewing room shelf (they have numbers on the side to keep track of them), with none of them made.  I think I need to stop putting this off.

Laurel's puzzle

Laurel let me stipple on her quilt for her yesterday.  Isn’t this just the dream of a mini quilt?  It’s for an auction for Autism Research.

Bee blocks are in my life right now.  I was Queen Bee for January in two bees, and they are rolling in–one batch of words for Spelling Bee was held up by a snowstorm in the midwest, and the rest of the words are being held back by my procrastination (see notes at the end of this post).
MCM book block_2

I finished this book block for Cindy’s granddaughter’s quilt last night, and there’s my signature block.  I love that in our bee we do signature blocks for each other; we also do them in The Spelling Bee too.

Chuck Nohara Feb 2016 Blocks

Time to gear up for February’s Chuck Nohara blocks.  Looks like we have more piecing than appliqué this time around–should go quickly together.  Susan has already started hers: here and here.  She’s quick!

Maybe not getting to them until now means I’m just taking to heart the advice from Adam Grant in his recent New York Times article “Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate.”  He wrote that “while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity.”  There’s a term for that process of always working to finish things early.  It’s pre-crastination.  Grant notes that  “Pre-crastination is the urge to start a task immediately and finish it as soon as possible. If you’re a serious pre-crastinator, progress is like oxygen and postponement is agony. When a flurry of emails land in your inbox and you don’t answer them instantly, you feel as if your life is spinning out of control.”  Some of this is to reduce “working memory loads,” because, as Grant reports, “psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people had a better memory for incomplete tasks than for complete ones. When we finish a project, we file it away. But when it’s in limbo, it stays active in our minds.”

Yes, apparently putting things off can make you more creative.

How can procrastination help?  Grant writes that “[o]ur first ideas, after all, are usually our most conventional. . . . When you procrastinate, you’re more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns.”  Of course, as anyone knows, especially my daughter who was helping her son with his last-minute science project  (how do these things slip our children’s minds until the due date??), excessive procrastination can also work against creativity, forcing you to choose the easiest route in order to get things done.

And today, this day in the first week of February, when I’m tired from chasing January’s deadlines and putting away the Christmas tree lights and mailing back all the things that were left in the house over Christmas vacation and summer is too far away to be of any help and QuiltCon is looming so how can I possibly concentrate, it might be helpful to realize that sometimes it’s really okay to put things off, as well as knowing that procrastinators have lots of good company.

Oh Christmas Tree QAL–Step 1

2XmasTreeFeb

I’ve been busy shopping for wools, wool felts, felted wools and all combos in between.  See below for an explanation of what they all are, although you’ve probably figured it out by now.  For those of us just joining in, the first step we did was to prepare by purchasing the Simply Moderne issue #3, which has the pattern we’ll be using; we also purchased all our supplies of wools, threads and fabrics.  It’s never too late to join, just look for the Oh Christmas Tree QAL tag at the bottom and click to locate all the posts on this blog (plus a wee giveaway to reward you for wading through all this).  We are also on Instagram with the tag #ohchristmastreeqal.

Let’s talk about wool, specifically FELTED WOOL and WOOL FELT:

Wool sweaters felted_1 Wool sweaters felted_2

I found some 100% wool sweaters at the thrift store, threw them in the washer with three tennis balls and an old tennis shoe, then dried them.  This process — using hot water, soap and agitation — is called fulling, with the result of felted wool.  I did that twice.  You can see in the top the difference between the two sweaters (they were originally the same size); however, one is called a “washable wool” so it won’t felt.  Some felted more evenly and better than others, but all of them looked like they could fit a toddler, even though they started out as an adult-sized sweater. I plan to use some of this newly felted wool with my flowers and birds.

You can also do this with 100% wool woven fabric.  You want it to felt down evenly so it is dense and won’t ravel.  Many of you purchased already felted wool and are ready to go.  Primitive Gatherings recommends using Steam A Steam 2 on the back to really stabilize the woven felted wool when you are working with it.  If you have tips on working with felted wool, please leave comments on this post, where others can find the info.  Many comments have already been left on the initial post on IG, if you want to look there.

I’m using what Wendy Williams recommended: 100% wool felt, which is that flat stuff your grandmother used to buy in the dime store to make toys, but is now available only in specialty shops (see previous Oh Christmas Tree post and the links below).  Felt does not fray when cut and is extremely stable, although it does shed a bit on first cutting.  It is wool fibers that have been felted together, and is not woven, nor knitted (as in the two examples above).

Try to keep these two terms separate in your mind: wool felt (which is what I’m using) and felted wool. There’s a few more links at the bottom of this post for more reading.ohchristmastree1_supplies ohchristmastree1_supplies2

So these are my supplies (top) and some medallion fabrics (bottom).  These fabrics have a circle pattern in them with fairly ornate decorative motifs inside.  Wendy uses them with her wools to add some flair, especially when creating the circles.

ohchristmastree1_2basefabric

I cut my background fabric, and I added about 1 1/2 inches to the measurements because I’m a chicken about these sorts of things.

ohchristmastree1_2csoftcrease

I took the fabric to the ironing board and ironed in a soft crease.  Don’t overdo it.

ohchristmastree1_2bmeasuring

 

I labeled the crosswise branches on the feather tree in the right margin of the first diagram, which you can see in the red box, and following their directions, and put pins along that soft center crease to know where to place things.

ohchristmastree1_1deciding

I cut first one strip of blue (lighter) and then the dark one, and couldn’t decide between the two for my tree.  So I laid out all my supplies on top of the strips.  I liked the country French blue, but decided, finally, that the darker would bring more contrast to the finished quilt.

ohchristmastree1_3acuttingI cut the long center strip, using the measurements in the pattern.  She asks you to taper the wool at the top, so I put a pin in the middle, then measured and placed others.  I angled my 24″ ruler from that middle pin to the outer edge of the center and cut away that wedge.  I didn’t cut enough on the first time, so did it again.  I also cut the top a wee bit larger than she asked –just a bit–as I like the look of it.

ohchristmastree1_3bcutting ohchristmastree1_3ccutting

I also cut these crosswise branches a scant 1/8″ larger, especially on the top branches (I have one more set to go up above) and I’m glad I did.
ohchristmastree1_4apinning

I laid them out on my fabric, using the soft crease and my rulers, in order to get them on the fabric straight.  You don’t want a tipping Christmas tree!  I also used the 24″ ruler as I pinned each set, as the wool will bump up against it, helping you get it on perpendicular to your tree trunk.  I was able to get it on fairly straight that way.ohchristmastree1_4bpinning ohchristmastree1_4cpins

Although I initially pinned them by putting the pins parallel to the crosswise branch, I soon found that it made the wool and the fabric buckle, so I shifted to this method of pinning.  Pin a LOT if you are using felt.  If you’ve used the wool backed with Steam-A-Seam, it will be tacky on the back and it will be easily positioned.  The felted wool people will then go to their ironing board after the first pinning step and press it down.  As Primitive Gatherings notes: “Keep your iron moving at all times so you will not scorch your wools.”  Wool is a natural fiber and can burn and scorch, but you might try using a lightweight pressing cloth in order to protect the wool and not give it a “shine” from too much pressing.  (That’s my college Clothing and Textiles degree being put to good use–thank you, Mrs. Dimas, for your tailoring class.)

ohchristmastree1_7holder

Now start stitching.  I put my ball of pearl cotton in this little holder and boy was that handy.  You can buy one from Bird Brain Designs. (See below for how you can win a couple freebies for yourself.)ohchristmastree1_8stitching

Start with the crosswise branches, and do a close backstitch on them.  I did mine right close together along the branches, like the top example:

backstitch

(from *here*)
You can do a search to find out how to do a backstitch, which is where I found *this* quick YouTube Tutorial.

ohchristmastree1_8astitching

I butted my ends of the crosswise branches together under the main tree trunk and stitched, lifting the “trunk” as I went underneath.  I also tried it with the edges just under the edge of the trunk, leaving a space between them, but felt it was more stable with the wool tucked in further.

ohchristmastree1_9dblthreadsI did an expanded backstitch going up the side of the tree, leaving a space in between each stitch, using two separate threads (one for each side) as I went up.  I decided to sew the tree trunk as I finished each branch, so it would feel quicker to me.  The whole stitching down of branches and trunk took the better part of a morning.

ohchristmastree1_stitches

I have this on high-power magnification on my camera.  I  promise you NO one is going to look at your stitches this closely, so if you make a mistake or it’s not quite right, don’t fret. This whole tree is in the folk/rustic flavor so an imperfection adds to the charm. You can see that I did a closer backstitch on the crosswise branches and an expanded, or open, backstitch on the trunk.  It was easy to stitch.ohchristmastree1_treesewn

Ta-DONE!

ohchristmastree1_tracingSince we always want to prep up for the next step before leaving our project, I’ve also added to this step the tracing-off the patterns for the flowers and the birds.   I’m using freezer paper, as it can be ironed onto my felt and used multiple times.  There are a lot of circles to cut out of your paper in order to prepare.  I’m using Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles, matching up to what’s on the pattern and tracing around them.  (Yes, I punch holes in my bigger plastic circles so they won’t warp and buckle under the heat of the iron when I use them at the ironing board–the heat and steam can escape through the holes.  I sometimes also mark the center, which is what you see here.)

ohchristmastree1_tracing first steps

I can use the inside of a Perfect Circle to trace those teeny circles in the middle (inside the green square in the first photo), or a spool of thread, if there isn’t a Perfect Circle to match up with what you are doing.  I labeled each circle on my pattern with a master number and an inner number, as in 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4 so when I cut them apart I know which goes where.  I placed them all in plastic bags.

ohchristmastree1_tracing4

For the birds, I labeled them, drawing a dashed line where it crosses the main pattern piece (or is tucked under), added another piece of freezer paper to it with glossy sides together, and stapled them once in each major piece.  I’m not ready to cut them apart yet, as I’ll do that in April, when we do birds. Pay attention to where she says to reverse the bird patterns.  If you want to, you can also start cutting your circles out of your wools and felts and fabrics (if you are using fabrics).  I realize that things often change as we start stitching the flowers and birds (the under-tree scene will come later), but it’s helpful to get going on this step.

ohchristmastree1_tracing5

It’s all tucked away, waiting for next month’s step.  Here are the steps again:

January, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton.  More about that in a minute.

February, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.  If you use wool felt, she has an easy appliqué method. Prep up the circles by tracing them and organizing them together.

March, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.

April, Step 3: Make 10 birds.

May, Step 4: Make the scene at the bottom.  Wendy’s pattern (IG: flyingfishkits) has two cavorting reindeer.  I plan to switch mine out to a simple nativity.  Your choice.  (If I were you, I’d also start haunting her IG site as she has lots of great embroidery ideas for the flowers. I’d also consider buying her book, Wild Blooms and Colorful Creatures, for more tips and helps.)

June, Step 5: Appliqué down the flowers.

July, Step 6: Appliqué down the birds and the scene.

August, Step 7: Sawtooth border (reds).

September, Step 8 (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.  Ta-Done!  I just have to deliver you here.  You are on your own for getting it quilted and bound.

We’ve done:

1Xmas Tree and now2XmasTreeFeb

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll post Step Two on March 2nd.  The second day of the month will be our regular posting day from now until we finish, and I’ll also put a reminder up on Instagram.

3XmasTreeMar

Some blogposts that have tips for working with wool:

Fresh Figs

Black Mountain Needleworks

American Pie Designs

Molly and Mama

To enter the giveaway for TWO perle cotton bubbles, leave a comment below. I’ll choose someone by Friday and get them sent out to you by next Monday, just as you are ready to start sewing your trees!