Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ceramics: Jack O'Lanterns

Materials:  Bmix, black and white underglaze, Cone 6 clear glaze

Materials:  Bmix, orange and yellow underglaze, Cone 6 clear glaze

Materials:  Cassius Basaltic, orange underglaze, Cone 6 clear glaze

Materials:  Cassius Basaltic, orange underglaze, Cone 6 clear glaze

Ceramics: Wall Heart

Materials:  Bmix with grog, marine blue underglaze, gloss white cone 6 glaze

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Work in Progress: Quilting the Wedding Gift (aka the Irish Single Chain) on the Long Arm

Putting the backing first and then the quilt top on the rollers.  It's a good idea to watch YouTube videos by Handi Quilter beforehand the next time I rent the long arm machine.  And Evelyn who assisted me said I should do it soon when I told her that I have another quilt top already sewn and waiting for sandwiching.
Bobbin winder of the long arm
Adding thread to the 2 bobbins (but we had to do it again because I used 3) and next time I'll remember to wind more because I do like more dense stitching.
I used to woodwork with a boyfriend in my distant past, and using this machine reminded me of that love of power tools.  I had a bit of a misadventure because my backing was too short!  I told Evelyn let's just take it off and I'll bring it home to add more backing to the bottom.  She said no, we'll take it off but just unpin one side, trim an edge off the left side and sew it back on to the bottom.  She was lovely!  She helped drag the quilt to the other workroom, set me up on a sewing machine and helped me pin.  Pretty much in a jiffy I was back on the long arm.
I called my stitching loopty loops and Evelyn called them cursive capital Ls.  I noticed in the beginning my clumsy starts and stumbles with my free motion quilting, but in the end it's all good and hopefully the bride will think the imperfect loops make the quilt look more handmade and lovingly crafted.
The quilt after being trimmed, and you can see my pile of excess backing and batting.  I'll use the rest of the backing for binding and the batting for practice squares for free motion quilting practice at home as well as stuffing charity pet beds.  Waste not, want not.  

I spent a late afternoon and early Friday evening at the quilt studio, where I rented the long arm machine to quilt a wedding gift for my husband's nephew and niece.  It's rather feminine, so really it's more for Jen than Jim.  Even though I took a class on how to use the machine a couple months ago, I was grateful to have Evelyn, a studio employee, instruct and assist. She was full of helpful advice and humor and aplomb when we had to remove the quilt because I had made the backing not long enough and needed to cut and sew more pink fabric to finish quilting.  It took me three and a half hours which cost $52.50 plus $3.00 for the three bobbin spools of thread, which is a bargain compared to paying for a computerized machine to finish the sandwiching.  However, it's priceless to have made by my own hands the whole quilt from start to finish and to add long arm quilting to my sewing skill set.

Up next?  Using the embroidered text feature on my sewing machine.  A quilt label with name and date of quilt, materials and care instructions:  Single Irish Chain.  100% linen and cotton.  August 2016.  Wash on gentle, delicate cycle with mild detergent and tumble dry warm.  And wedding sentiments:  Congratulations Jim & Jen, September 10, 2016.  Love, Aunt Anna and Uncle Patrick.  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Alabama Chanin Slow Sewing

I had recently viewed the Creative Bug videos of Natalie Chanin and loved them. I totally can't wait to undertake hand sewing and reverse appliqué work on my own cotton jersey knit tank (my favorite piece) and a table runner, and so this book is handy reference. There's also a couple of great recipes for a Bloody Mary cocktail and a tomato tart. I borrowed Alabama Studio Style from the public library, and it's going back although I did trace the template in the book onto stiff felt for a future project. I've only one shelf on my bookcase for my collection of sewing and craft books, but I will be purchasing Alabama Studio Sewing+Design as part of my resolution to have 25% of my wardrobe made by my own hands and because it will be worthy of belonging to my library. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Work in Progress: Baby Family Tree Quilt Top Done (so really not finished until it's sandwiched)

Tonight is Tuesday sewing night at the quilt studio, so the plan is to finish the backing to this baby quilt.  I tried to embrace a little randomness in the border and not follow the light medium dark sequence so strictly or not be bothered if the same colors were in adjacent blocks.  There will be a stripe of these pinks on a broad background of gray which I think will look striking and fresh.  This quilt will probably be the last time I ever purchase a commercial quilt panel (though I do have a couple left from this same designer of children and circus animals in a parade which will turn into more nursery textiles for the same baby brother and sister).  But it has a been a fun challenge to personalize and not let a quilt panel oversimplify and speed up the process.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Work in Progress: Dani's Quilt is Half Done

I decided to add just one row of horizontal bars at the top and bottom.  It could be a go, but I'm going to study it more because it looks a bit too scant at the top and bottom and maybe add a thin gray sashing and another row of horizontal bars.
Here are all the scraps left as well as the gray backing fabric.  I've three orphan blocks of 2 light pink and 1 dark pink pinwheels. I've also little bits of yardage of all the pinks's values, which could be another row of horizontal bars for the quilt top.  But definitely those orphan blocks will go into a scrappy back as well as the dark pink border (single log cabins around a gray square).  I had at one time envisioned a hopscotch on the back, but that will be another play mat/quilt.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Work in Progress: Nursery Quilt for Grandniece

I recently lunched with my niece and her babies.  This is Dani, my grandniece.  She's so adorable that I was inspired to resume the quilt I started for her just before she was born.  
I looked at what fabric I had still and decided to sew stacked coins for sashing. Finished the right border. I love it! It looks modern and whimsical to me. I just cut all the blocks for the left border, but I don't think I'll have enough of the medium and dark values to do the same coins at the top and the bottom. I'll probably make "stacked" long 2 1/2" wide sashing for the top and bottom borders or run to Joann's and see if I can find these Kona cottons again.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sewing: Hexagon Flower Pillow

Materials:  100% Hopsack Linen (Potting Soil), 100% Cotton Patchwork, zipper
Dimensions:  16" x 18"
Handstitched hexagon flower machine blanket stitched on linen 

Work in Progress: Hexagon Flower Tote Bag Becomes Hexagon Flower Pillow

I won the following charm pack at a Bay Area Modern Guild Meeting and sewed it into a bunch of 4" hexagons.
The colors say autumn to me, and so I headed to a fabric shop for the right backdrop and found this linen in a color called "Potting Soil," and another coordinating fabric called "Mira Brown Tonal Mini Crosshatching" as well as brown cotton thread.  I had also stitched my hexies into a flower.  I L O V E the color combination.
I pinned down my hexagon flower onto a linen rectangle 18" x 20" which was cut down from a 20" square because I didn't anticipate the yardage I would need for the straps which necessitated another trip to the fabric shop (luckily I live close by) to buy another half yard of brown linen....and then I played with the blanket stitch on my new Babylock Katherine to decide whether to hand stitch my hexagon flower or machine stitch it down.  As you can see my stitches on the machine are a tiny bit off as I was creating a page for my stitch dictionary.

I decided to go for it.  I also think the dark thread and dark fabric hide my imperfect stitching.
I do also love the crosshatching cotton to line the interior of the tote bag. It's interesting how the color changes under the lens from no flash to flash.  I think the fabric under the flash is a more accurate representation what color the fabric looks like.

But AAAAARGGGH!  I suck as a designer!  If you look below, there's no room for me to sew box corners of even an inch (I wanted to do a 1 1/2" to 2" bottom) because part of the hexagon flower is then under the bag.  I'm not going to rip out all those labor-intensive machine stitches and re-attach the flower to a bigger piece of linen.  Instead I'm going to practice installing a zipper and turn this top into a pillow.  OH well.  I do think this is still a pretty pieced block and will make a fabulous-looking pillow.

The Modern Quilt Studio sells a Desert Islands Solid Bundle comprised of colors like Earth, Dirt, Silver, Dew, Honey, Ginger, Safari, Teal (gorgeous!) and Mud (my favorite!).  And these colors on their own which you would think are so blah! really make other colors pop and keep bright, highly saturated colors from overwhelming a viewer.  Interesting how a color interacts with other colors.  Back to reading Josef Albers's Interaction of Color.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Work in Progress: Alabama Chanin Stencil

I copied this stencil pattern from Natalie Chanin's Alabama Studio Style which I checked out from the public library.  I bought stiff felt from Michael's and slid it under the stencil in the book and outlined with a fine tip sharpie my cut lines.  This is the back side of the stencil to show whether I cut those fine details. Those little designs are rather tricky, but I am pleased so far and can't wait to spray paint that stencil pattern on my sewing journal.