Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Patsy Aiken fabric

Yesterday I decided to check out a sale at the Patsy Aiken outlet in Raleigh. They make high-end children's clothes, and were having a sale of up to 75% off. Anyone who watches Extreme Makeover, Home Edition may have seen last season that they donated clothes for the children of the Riggins family in Raleigh, as well as to the ministry they work with. Since I am visiting the grandkids this weekend, I had to check out the sale. I got Avery a bathing suit and shirt with alligators, since he is crazy about them. Lily got a bubble sun suit with polka dot ribbon ties on the shoulders. I also bought her some blue and white checked seersucker shorts. I took them home and added two rows of white rickrack and a line of floral stitching using pastel variegated thread. Now they look girly! They had a wall of shelves with two-yard cuts of the same fabric that the outfits are made of. And only four dollars a yard! Also had other cuts available, bags of matching trims, collars, etc. I purchased some pink flowered and some pink check fabric for making quilts for our guild's Quilts for Kids program. I am not sure the content of the fabric, but it is either combed cotton or a soft knit.

Well, off to get ready for my trip to South Carolina!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Quick Update

Today I am back from spending three days in our mountain cabin- a wonderful weekend in which we were joined by our son and six of his college friends. It was a bachelor party weekend for one of them, full of fun and friendship. We enjoy being around the young people. Some of them stayed in our camper, and others pitched tents down by the creek. I tried cooking on my new stove, and found out that the smoke detector works! Two pans of sausage cooking set it off.

I am home for one day before heading to South Carolina to get my "fix," meaning I haven't seen my grandkids lately. Well, Avery was in the mountains a few weeks ago, but I haven't seen Lily since the beach trip. Now she is walking and almost running, so I have to get down there!

I purchased some fabric for the backing of my Round Robin quilt on Thursday. A local quilt shop that is also an Internet shop was having a sale on batiks and Kaffe Fassett fabrics, and I had a fifty dollar gift certificate from them for my first place in our guild's quilt show. Thank you so much to Wish Upon a Quilt! Their prices are always low anyway, but with the sale and my gift certificate, I got yards of a beautiful purple batik and still have a twelve dollar credit! I was thinking that I would get a gorgeous KF floral to go with this log cabin garden quilt top, but I just did not see one that I loved as much as the batik. I don't even like to use batiks as backings because sometimes it is difficult to get good tension. But I am going to try!

I also am anxious to get a sample cone of the new LAVA thread from Superior threads. It's supposed to be like Rainbows for Longarm machines. Rainbows is a shiny poly thread that often is difficult to use on a longarm because it breaks frequently. LAVA means Long Arm Variegated Art. That sounds perfect for me!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Star Dances is Done

All done! This little quilt is no longer a square! I followed Vikki's step-by-step instructions in Quilting by Improvisation to make a faux binding and envelope finish for the little guy. Basically, you draw the inner border shape that you like, cut freezer paper templates for each side, cut each border and turn under the edge that covers the quilt, and stitch down with invisible stitching. Then you draw the outer border shape on the quilt, baste it so you can see it from the other side, and sew on the backing fabric stitching just inside the basting line. Cut a slit to turn it inside out, seal up the slit with fusible tape, and cover it with the hanging sleeve. I am pretty happy with this first attempt, and will try this technique again, I'm sure!
Today is my baby's birthday...always my baby although he is about six-five and now twenty-six years old! Happy birthday, Dave! You have turned out pretty darn good!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Star Dance Progress, and A Good Coffee Table for an avid Reader and Quilter

You may remember the little art quilt I started as my first sample project from Vikki Pignatelli's Quilting by Improvisation. I decided to attempt quilting it on the Gammill with metallic thread. Well, this is an experimental piece, right? I had only done one other quilt on the longarm using shiny threads. The thread has to ravel a long way on the Gammill from the spool to the needle. I had good luck with Superior metallic gold and Glitter silver. The narrower spools such as Sulky had much more breakage. After quilting the "dancing" I took it off the machine, and will finish some free motion in the dark areas on my trusty old Bernina 1260. I really did not fuss too much about the tension, because I am going to use Vikki's faux binding method to finish the piece. The quilting was only done through the top and the batting. A fabric backing will cover all the little blobs and pokies when it is finished. Look out for some surprises, because this little quilt is no "square!"

This is what the back looks like now. Not so good, but it won't matter with this new method.

We went furniture shopping in the mountains last weekend and got some great new pieces for the cabin. They are handmade solid wood cabinets. One is an oak double-door cupboard, and one looks like a computer wall unit with hutch and lower cabinet. But, it has glass-fronted cabinets and doors of all sizes. While we were there we finally bought a new coffee table for our home. Isn't this one perfect for someone constantly thumbing through quilt mags, working on stitchery, doing crossword puzzles, or reading novels? Lots of storage space to hide it all. This is another hand-made oak piece. We got all of it at Antiques on Main in West Jefferson, but they are not antiques.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Day of Fiber Fun

Yesterday was one of those miserably hot and humid days that we often experience here in the southern US. Just too hot to handle a big quilt. My sewing room is on the third floor, actually a converted attic space. Even though it is air-conditioned, it never really gets cool on days when it is in the mid-nineties. So, I decided to play with small pieces. I found a small piece of Sulky Solvy water-soluble stabilizer, and made a small sample of Fantasy Fabric using fibers, ribbons, shiny thread, and Angelina. This piece is very small, maybe four by six inches. It looks like ocean to me! And each side looks a little different, because I used turquoise thread on top and a lime green on the bottom.

While I had the Angelina handy, I tried fusing some to Bounce dryer sheets, to get a sort of transparent shimmery stuff. I also fused some Angelina to bright hand-dyed fabric, along with some silk sari ribbon that has a silver center. I used Bo-Nash powder to fuse all this to the fabric. These might make good postcard backgrounds.

Then I fused some Angelina'ed fabric and laundry sheets to a leftover piece of Timtex, the stiff interfacing I use in fabric postcards. I made some funky-shaped bookmarks, then added some beads.

Then I remembered my vow to do all the sample projects in Vikki Pignatelli's book Quilting by Improvisation, and went to the section on improvising blocks. This time I used a light stabilizer by Sulky, and made improvisational log cabins. You just cut the strips for each round in a funky manner, iron under the edge that will cover the previous round, and stitch down with an invisible zigzag or blanket stitch. I got two of these done. I used darks on the center and outer layers, and light or bright greens on the second layer. This might look kind of woodsy if I ever finish enough to make a quilt.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

CLA Challenge Quilt and Artsy Bookmarks

I belong to a group of Longarm quilters from North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina, called the Carolina Longarm Association. We are having a quilt show in November, for which I have entered the challenge. A kit was provided with fabric and instructions for this star quilt. Very simple design with lots of quilting opportunities. The whole thing is only about 24 inches square. HMMMN, do I do a traditional feather design? Venture into trapunto? Use wild shiny threads? This will be fun.

Since I got my sewing room semi-orderly yesterday, I decided to immediately mess it up by finishing some artsy bookmarks. I used my Tsukineko inks and Shiva Paintstiks to add some designs to heavy watercolor paper, then cut them into bookmarks. I was going to use them "as is," but decided it would be much more fun to add some fiber "tails." After I did that, I thought it would be fun to add some sparkle with Angelina fibers. I sprinkled a little Bo-Nash powder and ironed on the Angelina between sheets of parchment.
This is one reason I keep every little scrap of ribbon, beading, or other potential embellishment around for inspiration. Wonder if my library book pages will be sparkling when I turn them in?
These were lots of fun. Next time I will add the Angelina before cutting out the bookmarks so the edges are a little cleaner. I stitched around a few of them with invisible thread to hold down the fibers.

This is the other side of the same bookmarks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Postcard Fun

Here is a fabric postcard that I made to send to my sister-in-law, Lee, who lives in Asheville, NC. For my birthday she sent me an inscribed copy of the novel Cataloochee, by Wayne Caldwell. The author attends her church, but in order to get the signed edition, she stood in line at the bookstore. What a great gift! I am an avid reader, and love books about the North Carolina mountains. This one again makes me thankful that I live in the present day, not back when times were hard. This is an excellent book about the old mountain ways.

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Mountain Updates

What a great weekend in the North Carolina mountains! On Thursday, we visited my brother from Florida and his family in Todd, NC, where they had rented a cabin with a killer view! Had a great dinner with them and my dad and brother John.

On Friday, we headed to Laurel Springs. As we crossed the bridge to our place, there was a nice stand of rhododendrun, or "laurel" in bloom along the creek.
When we got to the cabin, Charlie and I put up the window boxes he had given me for our anniversary and my birthday. They look good planted with some red and white flowers! I had to plant the upper level ones by leaning out the kitchen and bathroom windows.

Our trips to the top on the Gator were spectacular. In the summer, Mother Nature adorns the Christmas trees with wildflowers. Just as pretty as any ornaments!
There were deer all over the place this weekend. A fawn came right out onto the dirt road through the tree farm on top, and there was a six-point buck with velvet on his antlers in one of the lower fields! That got the deer hunters excited and anxious for the fall. If you click on the photos, you will see an enlarged shot, and might be able to spot the deer. Our son and grandson from South Carolina were there, so we really enjoyed their visit. Unfortunately, they forgot to take Lily's quilt home with them when they left! Next time, maybe.
Today I had a root canal on a molar. I have had the toothache for two weeks. Boy, did I choose the right endodontist. The chair was a lounge with tempurpedic cushion. I got to pick from about a hundred movies that I wanted to watch from these goggles. Lucky me, they had The Graduate, one of my favorite all-time movies, with the soundtrack that my husband and I fell in love to back in the early seventies. That really helped!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lily-bug Label

Lily's quilt is ready to be delivered to her this weekend. I finally made the label and sewed it on. I used photo-transfer fabric to print a picture of us from last Christmas, when Lily was six months old. I happened to be wearing a flannel shirt with flowers in just the right colors to match this quilt! Since I used yo-yo flowers on the front, I added a few on the label. I also found a ladybug button. Doesn't it look like Lily is reaching for it?
I added pictures of this quilt to a new album on my Webshots site, if you have not seen it in my earlier posts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fabric Postcards: Horses and Houses

We finally got to move into our mountain cabin on Thursday! What a dream come true! We had a few very busy days as we hung cabinets, bought a bed, and then got right to work on the pig-picking we hosted on Saturday! We are so grateful to all our helpers and friends who made this possible.

I finished a few more fabric postcards today. A group of my teacher friends asked me to make them some to choose from, and we are supposed to get together tomorrow night. One of them wanted a horse, so I tried a few different ones using a commercial novelty print.

Life is Good- I cut out two different horses and arranged them in a sort of a fancy stable. They have a nice brown and black fuzzy fiber fringe stitched on with copper-colored metallic thread.

True Love- Two more horses from the novelty print, surrounded by a floral wreath of flowers I stamped with Shiva Paintstix, then cut out and fused. I made the wreath during the Melody Crust workshop, thinking it might be a quilt label.

Wild and Free- This gorgeous fellow is the same horse on the left in Life is Good, but looks totally different in a natural setting. I used twisted yarns to surround the central medallion and the postcard edge. The cross-hatch design was already in the fabric, so I just stitched over it.

This card of the mountain cabin is for my son and daughter-in-law, in thanks for the beautiful sign they gave me for my birthday.
(See June 22 post.) I liked doing it so much, that I may do lots more landscape postcards or small quilts. The cabin and trees are from a novelty fabric, and I just freehand cut the sky, hills, and floral areas. I even added a little back art to this one- it has a mighty antlered buck atop a hill of bare trees.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Coloring Old Glory

We are getting ready to leave for our Fourth of July LONG weekend today. I am trying to get everything I need ready- for staying six days and having a huge group in for a pig-picking. Yesterday I found this little quilt flag that I bought years ago at the Capital Quilters Guild show. It is hand quilted by someone whose initials are HBC. Anyway, I thought I would have the red, white, and blue proudly displayed on the cabin. But when I retrieved this quilt from the closet, it had faded badly from being displayed in the hot sun on my front porch. Got out my Tsukineko inks- and PRESTO, CHANGO- it is now bright and pretty again instead of red, white, and gray!

I hope you all have a safe and happy Fourth of July! I won't be blogging again until next week!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Home for 48 hours-almost

Just got back from a long weekend (Friday morning to Sunday night) in the North Carolina mountains- and the last item on our checklist from the inspector is now done! Yup, everything including the kitchen sink is done! It took most of Saturday to get our sink and faucets hooked up, but it is done and we have an appointment with the inspector on Thursday. Had to wait until then due to the Fourth of July holiday. The stock market will be closed early on Tuesday, so Charlie decided to leave the investment world behind for the rest of the week! And to thank all our volunteer helpers- painters, sheet rockers, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, and friends, we are going to have a pig picking on Saturday afternoon! Lots to do to get ready, but I am excited about being up there five nights in a row. There will be a whole slew of people coming in on Friday for the annual float down the New River in tubes. Charlie and I will skip the float this year, or perhaps float with a smaller group on another day, but we are looking forward to seeing everyone.

I do have a little quilt progress to report. I tried Vikki Pignatelli's technique for making odd-shaped quilts by making a facing instead of a traditional binding. I used one of the trapunto sample quilts I had already made, and it now has an interesting undulating border. This quilt has been inked with Tsukineko inks along the quilting motifs, and also has a few hot-fix crystals. Think I'll add more!

Here is the front and faced back of "Summer Jewels." The edge of the facing is turned under after clipping the "valley" curves, and will be whip-stitched down.