Sewing Room Update

Yikes! July since I last posted??? Shame on me. I’ve been busy, though. As you know, I’m creating a new sewing room from scratch. It’s going to be a looooong process, but it’s starting to come together. Here’s a panoramic of the room, and some of my recent projects. Forgive the pictures, I took them at 4 AM. There’s truly a crapload of light in there, but the camera was fighting with me:

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Don’t you just love that floor?? It looks like a patchwork quilt. LOVE. They’re carpet squares we got at Home Depot, and the entire thing cost only 94-cents/square foot! And, yes, I laid the entire thing myself – over 400 sf over a 2-day period. It was a blast laying out the pattern, and (except for the outside edge tiles) they butted up so tightly they didn’t need taped down. No problems vacuuming – and trust me, it’s been done a lot! It has warmed up this basement room not only in looks, but in temperature. Here’s a link to the flooring: Versatile Carpet Squares It still need a ceiling, but that will be the last thing done. I want to make sure everything is in place before installing the ceiling. I’m sure there will be more room-rearranging, and the lights will be shifted to the optimum areas once the final layout is done. My design wall on the left is perfectly awesome.

design-wallTwo sheets of 1-3/4″ insulation covered with batting only. How happy I am to have an 8×8 foot design wall! The thicker insulation allows my pins to completely push through the insulation so they don’t stick out. Peggi’s suggestion of using only batting worked SO well and was much less expensive. It fits perfectly between two sets of outlets without being screwed into the wall. These babies aren’t gonna move or shift. Several of the projects I am working on are hung on the design wall. Two table runners and applique blocks. More on those later.

For the first time, quilts are hung on my wall!

longarm-areaThere’s my dad. His quilt won first place in the AQS online quilt contest in 2009, which resulted in winning the quilt frame and helping to purchase my mid-arm machine, so it was was only fitting that he should watch over me as I quilt.

Don’t you just love the quilt on the left?

happyplaceYou can see the post about it here. I added my own applique to it, and it looks so cute on the wall. Did you know that Command Strips makes little clothespins?? I didn’t want to drill holes into the brick, so I used these and they’ve held up perfectly. Or heck, you could just add Command Strips to regular clothespins.

Lastly, a new sewing “nook”!

sewing-nookDon’t’cha just love the makeshift footstool?? The chair was from the upstairs bedroom – darn, it just didn’t match the furniture up there (snort!). The end table was my mom’s, so she’s there with me too. It’s a great place to do hand-sewing and watch a movie.

That’s all for now, a cutting table and sewing table are in the planning stages, and I’ll post them once they’re finished!

Cindi 100PS: Happy Thanksgiving to all! We’ve got 15 coming for dinner, so I’m off to get ready….

New quilt clock

Well, since I’m updating my sewing room – slowly but surely – I decided I needed a new clock. Once I found this tutorial, I was off and running. I used the block supplied with the tutorial, but decided I wanted mine a little different – a little more me. Like Alton Brown, I believe the only “unitasker” in my sewing room should be the fire extinguisher that hangs on my wall. So my clock will serve several purposes.

clock2Not only will it tell me when I’m late, I’m using it for my quilt show pin collection and to hang blocks or pictures. The blocks were made from leftover charm squares I had, which I glued to poster board with a glue stick (no warping!). While the tutorial called for gluing the blocks together, I decided to hand-sew mine, even though there was poster board behind every block. Why? Two simple reasons: 1. I’m a quilter. 2. I’ve never completed anything hexagon-y before, so now I can say I’ve done it 🙂 The burlap canvas and clothespins were purchased at Hobby Lobby. That 40% off coupon sure does come in handy! I bought the clock hands through Amazon. The total cost of the clock? About $14. It only took a week to get everything sewn together, glued, and up on the wall.

And yes, that is a cow on my clock.

IMG_1409This quilt won 3rd prize in the quilt competition at the Ohio State Fair this year! We stopped in today so I could see it 🙂

PebbleSo glad DH talked me into entering it. Being a practice quilt, I didn’t think it had a chance of even being accepted! It certainly wasn’t perfect quilting, lol. But, I’m proud as punch, which you can see in that smile on my face. So, that’s why there’s a cow on my clock. My quilt was in the show there, and that means a pin must be purchased!

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Signature quilt finished!

Yes, several months after the wedding, the quilt is finally done!

IMG_4428OMGosh, it seems like I’ve been working on this forever! And the hardest part was that I couldn’t post any pictures of it, as Kylee and Cam didn’t want to see anything posted until they saw the completed quilt. Aack!

Here’s a pic of it laid out:

IMG_1183As you all know, I did this quilt by paper piecing, as the blocks were to be signed, and also taken to Florida and back to Columbus for two receptions, and I wanted them to hold up to a lot of handing. While paper piecing is accurate and perfect for stabilizing blocks for signatures, I’m not a huge PP fan. Why? Because it’s a PIA trying to sew the blocks together…

IMG_0925….then tearing all of the #&%$ paper off the quilt, which was a week-long process in itself….

IMG_4108Swear to pete, I’m STILL finding pieces of paper in my living room, LOL!

I drew the applique myself in EQ7 – learning experience! Laid it out in paper before I cut out the shapes and hand-appliqued them to the quilt:

IMG_3991Learning lesson #1: Do not make curves too tight! I had a heck of a time with some of the scrolls, trying to turn them under.

Made one mistake when I loaded it onto the longarm. Learning lesson #2: Don’t be in a rush. Press it again after tearing off the paper. Had a heck of a time with some of the seams being bulky because I was too excited to get it onto the frame.

I was able to try out my new Boomerang ruler from Deloa’s Quilt Shop. Awesome!! Looks like waves, doesn’t it? Perfect, as they were married on the beach.

IMG_1140I made the label from one of the leftover blocks, and spent 3 evenings hand-sewing the binding. Always my favorite part.

IMG_1153This was a true labor of love, with a lot of learning and new techniques for me. I drew both the applique and the snowball block in EQ7. So this quilt is my design, my piecing and my quilting. When I finished, I nearly pulled my arm out of the socket trying to pat myself on the back, as every aspect of this quilt is by me – and that’s a first!! I’m comforted in the fact that Kylee is a crafter and appreciates the value of handmade, so I know it will be well taken care of in the years to come.

Now, it’s on to a new project!!

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Let the transformation begin!

After 2 years, I’m finally getting around to making this space my own! It’s in the basement, with one tiny window. The previous owner used it as a woodworking shop, and the concrete block walls are painted a stark white. Ugh. Not that I’m complaining – the room is huge – 17×24′, and I’m grateful to have a place that allows me to put the LA in the room as my sewing area. Plus, I’m looking forward to a place that’s inspiring. My room before was too small, and the LA was two floors up, which meant dragging everything up two flights of stairs. Yikes!

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And would you look at that gawd-awful paneling?? Right outta the 80’s! So the walls will be painted tan (including the paneling), and we’re putting down carpet squares on the floor. Yes, I am one of the few who prefers carpeting rather than vinyl or hardwood floors in my sewing room. Don’t bother telling me I’ve made a mistake with this. I LIKE carpeted floors! I’m on my feet too much when I quilt, and my legs get achy with a hard floor. We found carpet squares at Home Depot for $1/SF. Woo-hoo! With 480 SF to cover, that’s a perfect price for a basement floor! 

DH is also going to build a cutting table for me – which will be a godsend, as right now I’ve got the most expensive cutting table ever:

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Yep, our pool table! Make due with what you have, I say. Everything from the sewing room has now been moved into the pool room and his mancave (incentive!) so the entire basement is a disaster area right now. Then we’ll figure out what to do for a sewing table, whether to build one or buy inexpensive cabinets and put a countertop on them. The portable table just isn’t working. It bounces around too much when I’m sewing at full speed, lol…

The room is now empty except for the LA frame, which we’ll just pick up and move around rather than taking apart. He’s going to be painting this long weekend, while I spend the weekend shopping and dining with my teen niece and dog-watching. Hey! He likes painting by himself – says it’s cathartic and mindless. Who am I to protest??

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More longarm practice

Yikes! It seems like ages since I’ve posted – life got in the way. I have been quilting, though. A while back I saw this quilt on the Tamarack Shack blog, and fell in love with it. I thought it would be a perfect quilt to practice more longarm quilting. I suck at pebbles, so I decided this quilt would be my “Pebble Quilt”. Plenty of blank space to pebble to my hearts desire!

IMG_3840Spent some time with pencil and paper first, then got busy…

IMG_4163Simple quilting in the printed blocks since the quilting wouldn’t show.

IMG_9100Took forever. Had a blast. Decided to hang it on a wall. Yep, the first full-size quilt I’ve ever hung. Used the Hang-it Dang it since it was in such an odd place. One nail and done. Didn’t need hubby falling off a dadgum ladder and breaking his neck.

IMG_4110-1May have to paint the wall a darker color, but right now I’m loving how the beige almost disappears and the design stands out. We’ll see….

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No Fear FMQ (or, just TRY, dammit!)

fave-pic-2Angela Walters is one of my heroes. Her quilting is to die for. I recently signed up for her “Machine Quilting Negative Spaces” on Craftsy, and decided to give it a whirl. I love her teaching style. She’s calm and makes you feel like you can do anything. And I did!

I’ve had this quilt in my UFO pile for 5 years, never finishing it because I just didn’t care for the fabrics. They must have jumped in my cart when I was fabric shopping. But it was the perfect pattern for giving FMQ a go.

Closeup1A different pattern was used in every single block, digging through books (including her book Shape by Shape Quilting) and Pinterest to find designs interested me. I used both FMQ and ruler designs. It really helped me figure out what designs I could do quickly and easily, and which ones were just too dang difficult. And I didn’t care if I made mistakes. Just kept right on going. Taking the fear out of FMQ made all the difference for me. Angela was great at encouraging me to just….well….try, dammit! Yes, I’ve got a long way to go, but I think I did a pretty good job that I’m proud of!
foldedI found the original teal, and had just enough for the binding.

BindingThe back even looks amazing 🙂

the-backThere are too many mistakes on this to even count, and I don’t give a horse’s patoot! It’s gorgeous as far as I’m concerned. I think I used about a dozen bobbins on this, and it’s the most intricate quilting I’ve ever done. This quilt may be going up on the wall behind “Laverne and Shirley” (my LA machine) as my sample quilt so I can refer to it when I’m looking for designs. Thanks, Angela, for such a great class!

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Struggling with broderie perse

I am struggling with this new-to-me technique, broderie perse.

applique 1I understand the concept, and I did a bit of online research to see exactly how it’s done.  However, I wasn’t able to find a lot of specific how-to information out there.  It was mostly historical information; it seems that broderie perse has fallen out of vogue.  A post on Barbara Brackman’s blog states that quilters would not cut very close to the actual outline of the shapes, but rather loosely in the background around the shapes.

Well.  That’s not going to work so well with my chosen appliques.  The background, seen here in my previous post, is more of a bluish periwinkle.  That won’t work with the black background of the quilt.

So I decided to try invisible thread; Superior’s MonoPoly in Smoke.  It really is very, very hard to see – so much so that I had to get a magnifying glass to thread my machine.

applique 2But I don’t like the little holes the needle leaves in the applique. I used a size 10 needle, which is the smallest needle I have.  But it was still leaving those ugly holes, and since the appliques are fused, I doubt the holes will close back up after washing or steaming.

applique 3So I switched to Bottom Line, which is a fine (60 wt) thread.  Didn’t care much for that look, either.

Back to brainstorming.  I briefly considered a denser zigzag, but that’s a TON of work, going around all those shapes, and I think in the end, it will detract from and obscure the appliques.

I’m actually considering pulling off all the flowers and doing a different type of applique for the borders, but the perfectionist in me is mentally stamping her foot and pouting because these flowers are so stinkin perfect for the quilt!

So.  Does anybody out there have any ideas, suggestions, or broderie perse resources I could check out?  I would greatly appreciate it!

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Neon Glow part 2: trying something new

Well, it seemed to take a really long time to get all the blocks assembled, but it’s done.

kaffe 4But…  it doesn’t really look done, does it?  It needs something, some kind of border.  Not just a typical plain border, though.

Sometimes daydreaming can be very productive.  I was staring at the quilt, daydreaming, studying the construction, when it hit me – what to do about the border.

bordersAha!  Much better!  I really like how those corner blocks extend the center of the quilt out.  And it’s different.

But.  Hmmm….  it still needs something, doesn’t it?  A bit of applique, perhaps, to soften up all those pointy angles.  Off to my local quilt shop I go, top in hand.

I auditioned teal, purple, and pink solid or read-as-solid fabrics.  The colors matched the ones in the quilt, but the fabrics just did not blend well with the design.  They overwhelmed it instead.

Enter one of the best things a quilter can have in her life: a wonderful, knowledgeable, and creative Local Quilt Shop Owner.  My favorite LQSO is named Cheran Bee, she owns Fiddlesticks Quilt Shop in Vancouver, Washington (Vancouver not B.C., Washington not D.C.), and she’s an absolute gem.  Cheran looked at the top, agreed that the borders needed something, and she didn’t like the pink and teal fabrics either.  She thought a minute, disappeared into the depths of her shop, and reappeared with this:

philip jacobs anne marie in blueWow – I know where she’s going with this.  I gasped and blurted out “Broderie perse!”  It was PERFECT.  I bought a couple of yards and ran straight home, did not pass Go, did not collect $200.

Confession time.  I’ve never tried broderie perse, and to be honest, I’ve never really liked it when I’ve seen it in magazines and quilt shows.  But I realize that’s probably because when I have seen it, it looks like a still-life painting to me.  Boring, yawn, Ho with a capital Hum.

But it’s a challenge and I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so I did some research.  I learned that broderie perse was quite a popular technique back in the day, whatever day that was. Quilters would loosely cut around floral prints, then applique (needle-turn or buttonhole stitch) the shape onto the background.  According to Barbara Brackman, “traditional broderie perse is harder today because large-scale florals with white backgrounds are rare” and it’s harder to match backgrounds.  However, quilters can solve that problem by cutting the entire background away from the print.

People, that kind of detail work is right up my alley!

I ironed some fusible web onto the back and started snipping happily away.  I LOVE intricate, detail work.

A few hours later, I have some working pieces to play with:  dahlias and carnations.  I tried the dahlias first.

kaffe 7Hmm.  This doesn’t balance.  I tried placement of the flowers by size, first putting the small ones in the corner, then reversing the order and placing the larger flowers in the corner.  Neither worked.  Okay, let’s try carnations:

kaffe 8I like that better; I like the delicateness of the carnations.  They’re not big and blobby like the dahlias were.  But it’s still not cutting it; the carnations don’t seem to flow with the quilt either.

How about combining both types of flowers?   I really didn’t think that would work well, which is why I separated them in the first place.

kaffe 9Wow, I really like that!  I like how it starts off large in the corner and tapers out toward the center of the quilt.  I like how the carnation stems give some flow and continuity. I like how the small, delicate carnations balance the big blobby dahlias.

Yes, I think this will work!  Off I go to cut more flowers for the opposite corner.

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Shoedling

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Shoe doodling. Took me a year to get up the nerve to draw on these Vans. Nobody wants to ruin a perfectly good pair of Vans! But once I got started, it went really quick. It was a nice break. Love Pinterest for all the ideas. I used Sharpie medium and fine markers, and sprayed them with waterproofing. Don’t think I’ll ever wear them in the rain – I don’t want to find out the hard way that these markers aren’t “permanent” enough, lol….

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Avery’s Challenging Quilt

It seems that every year I have that one quilt which just gives me absolute fits. This quilt took on a life of its own, throwing curve balls at me nearly every step of the way. Why, I don’t know. It was a simple pattern! It dared me to finish it. Hopefully it’s my “rebellious” quilt for the year, and it’ll be smooth sailing until next year, lol. My dear niece, Stephanie, asked me to make a quilt for her daughter, Avery, for her new room. I’m always humbled when someone in my family thinks highly of my quilting skills and trusts me to make one for them. Of course I will!

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Stephanie and Avery

Avery is 8 years old, and wanted a chevron quilt. A queen-sized quilt. The biggest quilt I’ve made to this point (I like lap-size quilts!). She also wanted to pick out her own fabrics. Mom and Avery went shopping at Hobby Lobby, and this is what I received:

IMG_2449_edited-2Kids pick out the darndest things, don’t they?? However, I learned long ago that kids have no color filter, no preconcieved notions, and don’t have a clue as to what “color theory” is. What they choose usually comes together beautifully! The only fabric that concerned me was the multi-stripe, as I was afraid that it was so bold and might overpower the other fabrics in a large bed quilt – and the other fabrics pretty much read as solids. I talked to Stephanie, and we agreed the multi-stripe would look best as a bias binding on the quilt. A little of this fabric will go a long way in the look of the quilt.

I worked up the quilt in EQ, sent several pics to them and together they picked out a layout. I blanch at the thought of triangles (man, how I despise all those bias edges!) and opted to use a pattern that used rectangles on-point instead. Let’s just leave it at it’s always a good thing to measure twice, cut once. With every cut, lol.

IMG_2681_edited-1After sewing several blocks together backwards (how does that happen with rectangles??), I finished the quilt top. It looks great! Avery did a fantastic job picking out fabric. I laid the entire thing out on the backing to prepare for loading on the frame:

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Uh-oh…..

Oh, for cryin’ out loud. Now, I had made the top larger than necessary on the sides so I had plenty of trimming room, but only an inch or two on the top and bottom. Peggi and I commiserated on what to do about this problem. Do I chance it? Once that backing was on the frame it would stretch a bit, but what if it didn’t work? She asked several other LA quilters she knew for ideas (which were all great, mind you!). One of her friends said it would be no problem – she’d worked with less before! Are you kidding me???? I’d be hyperventilating the entire time I was quilting if I had even less to work with! But when all was said and done I decided to just order another longer backing. I’d already had enough angst and didn’t treasure the thought of trying to add backing when it came up short on the frame. Plus, I found a small flaw in the fabric. Heck. I’ll just keep that piece for one of my quilts. Peggi, I don’t know what I’d do without you to talk things through. It was definitely a Cap’n Morgan and 7-Up evening….

****And may I just interject here that quilt shops in Columbus leave much to be desired. The shops are small, they all have the same fabrics, and barely carry any widebacks (usually no more than 5 or 6 per store, and usually traditional paisley stuff),  I had to order backing online, which I hated because I want to see and feel the fabric. Sigh. I SO miss Shipshewana!

So, after another 5 day wait for the backing, I finally loaded it on the frame:

IMG_2780_edited-1Yikes! I knew it was gonna be a big quilt! My frame is only 9′, and it barely fit. Changing bobbins was a gymastic exercise. I wasn’t able to use my ruler base because of the width of the quilt. Which made quilting those straight lines tricky. I tried to keep the quilting simple because I was space-restricted. I couldn’t use my end clamps, and at one point ended up with this mess:

IMG_3887 editedLuckily, it was in part of the edge that would be trimmed off. I was extremely careful quilting the rest of the quilt! The quilting went quite well – the longarm gods were with me. I used Quilter’s Dream Cotton Select batting and Glide thread, and that thread is an absolute dream to work with. Trimmed it up, rounded the corners and sat in my favorite chair with needle, thread and several movies to keep me company.

IMG_2785_edited-1Finished up that bad boy in two days. I wanted it done – I was terrified something else was going to happen to it! I can finally say it’s finished, and it looks absolutely wonderful! That striped binding adds a pop of color to it, but isn’t overwhelming.

IMG_8493_edited-1Avery's quiltLessons learned: 1) Measure, measure, measure before cutting! 2) Do NOT do another queen-sized quilt on this frame until new poles are added to extend it to 10 feet. Six extra inches on each side would’ve been dreamy. 3) Quilter’s Dream batting wants to “creep” the the center as I’m quilting – be sure to check it with each advance! 4) Kids really do surprise you with their colors. 5) Be persistent (and add alcohol occasionally) – it will all come together in the end!

All in all, while I had a few frustrating moments, it turned out just wonderful. I’m always most proud of the quilts that challenge and push my limits – even when those challenges and limits are my own damn fault. I can’t wait to see it on Avery’s bed. Thanks, Steph, for believing in my talent!

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