Monday, November 20, 2017


....and waiting, still. As of today it has been 3 months and 11 days since my sewing machine went into the shop.

Long story short, I'm told that the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP is the only one of Janome's models in which the LCD light is tied into the mother board. When one goes, so does the other. The light, which was my issue, is an inexpensive part. The mother board, however is far from inexpensive. And apparently there are enough Janome 8900 owners having this issue (found two other people with the same complaint in my Janome 8900 Yahoo group, which is fairly small) that the factory has the mother board on backorder until the end of this month.

Since projects are piling up, I decided not to add any more to the pile except this one, pieced from the October Quilty Box selection, curated by Leah Day.

Leah has been my go-to for free motion quilting tutorials for years now, and I really like the batiks that she designed for this project. Here's the tutorial for this quilt.

So the top is finished, but the quilting, which will be free motion outline quilting, is waiting for the machine. (Refer to the previous post to see why I'm rolling my eyes at the use of that phrase.)

I also made the quickie project included in the Quilty Box, the Tutu Notions Holder and Pincushion, which only required a small piece of fabric and a canning jar, lid and screw band to complete.

Haven't decided what threads, etc. to put in it yet.

What has really changed in the last two months, while waiting for the machine, is that I've become obsessed with knitting again. After sewing the buttons on a long-finished sweater for granddaughter Lucy...

...I've started a sweater for her from Alice Starmore's book, The Children's Collection, from a pattern called "Secret Garden." The book's photos of the sweater, which is made from a different color yarn than that pictured at the link, had me practically drooling. I'm knitting a size well in advance of Lucy's age so I can take my time and break away when needed, for landscape quilting...that is, if my machine ever comes back!

Have a great week and, if you're in the U.S., a happy Thanksgiving. 


Friday, October 6, 2017

Fill-in Follies

As of four days ago, my main sewing machine, the big one, has been in the shop for service for two months (hence the long silence on my blog). I can piece bed quilts--though not landscapes--on my vintage Singer. But no way can I quilt on it. My shoulders and neck have already signed, sealed and delivered that decree.

So, what do you do when you're a quilter and you can't quilt?

You design and piece like crazy. And because you're feeling a little crazy, or at least frustrated, some of your fill-in projects may go off the rails a little bit. (That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.)

1. Decided we needed a new Christmas quilt for the couch this year, and that I was not going to buy any new fabric for it.

Click on photos to enlarge. Enlarging is not going to improve this one, though.
Hindsight tells me this was perhaps less than wise.

Regardless, it's now sandwiched and waiting for the machine. (Warning: You're going to see that phrase again.)

At this point I could sign off and title this post "seeing red," both for the over-saturation of red in the quilt blocks and for the irritation of being without my machine. But no. There were more misadventures to come.

2. Came up with the bright idea of mixing and matching (?) squares and strips from the fat quarters in a recent Quilty Box selection--completely ignoring the fact that some of the combinations would be so tonally similar they'd barely be noticeable in a finished quilt...and that the ones made with remnants (the stripey ones) would look like flags from unheard-of countries.

It looked somewhat better after adding some horizontal sashing (vertical would have made it too wide). Maybe a crib quilt?

Anyway, now it's sandwiched, and--you guess it--waiting for the machine.

3. Decided I'd gotten in enough trouble in the studio, so would head for the basement and paint some fabric for landscape quilts. I had done that once, and got a couple of decent pieces out of the lot I painted that day.

This time, not so much.

I would love to be able to say that my 2-year-old granddaughter painted these. The truth is, she could have done a better job.

Except maybe for this one--originally it was so bad that I scrunched it up and dried it in a wad, ending up with a far-better looking piece than what I'd started with. I like it, but don't ask me how I'd use it.

(Excuse the striips hanging behind and beside it. Piecing them for yet another desperation project, a scrappy bed quilt.)

In the meantime, my daughter-in-law visited her family in Wyoming and came back, bless her, with this beautiful shot she'd taken at String Lake. So....

4. Decided this would be the inspiration for my next landscape, but that instead of using all realistic fabrics, I would use some of the batiks that were piling up on the shelf.

Not saying that was a bad idea. Just a bit different for me.

It progressed pretty quickly, from tracing to pattern-making to fusing to piecing to embellishing...

...but not to basting. And why? All together now: Because it's waiting for the machine. :-/

We'll (eventually) see how this turns out with some thread embellishment and free motion quilting. Again, it's not my usual style of landscape, but I had a lot of fun piecing it. Thank you, Shannon.

Hoping next time to have some quilting to show.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Raw Nerve

Lately I'd been wanting to make a landscape quilt using a different method from my usual one. From my shelf, I pulled one of Cathy Geier's books, titled Lovely Landscape Quilts. These are strip/string-pieced landscapes built on a foundation of fusible interfacing or muslin.

For my initial foray into this method, I decided to use one of Cathy's patterns, included in the book. 

The quilt top is designed in two sections, which suited me fine for ease of machine work. However, me being me (stubborn), it wasn't long until Cathy and I parted ways on the directions. I decided that instead of auditioning strips for the foreground (water and land), I would just wing it (uh-oh!), choosing and fusing strips as I went.

The result isn't horrible, but something tells me that if the strips had been auditioned first, I'd have made better choices. There's too much similarity in tone here.

Lesson learned. For the upper half (mountains and sky), the strips were auditioned first. See what a difference it made? No tonal problems here, or at least not many.

But then there was another departure from Cathy's advice. (Donk!) I decided, despite her warning about using raw-edged strips vs. seamed, to use raw-edged anyway. Because (I figured) being experienced with raw-edged applique, I'd simply add a layer of tear-away stabilizer and zigzag all the strip edges after fusing.

Holy guacamole. Talk about tedious!! 

Yeah, multiply this (above) by about a thousand, and you get the picture. I was SO happy to be done with that step. Not to mention, changing top thread and bobbins to match every strip, because the threads needed to blend. And the raw edges (along with my nerves) were fraying faster than I could stitch them down. Lots of trimming was required afterward. Cathy knew what she was talking about.

Thread colors chosen for the different strips. Yikes!
Next came the sailboat in the pattern. I was happy with my piecing, but couldn't figure out why the sails ended up too big for the mast (you can't tell here, because I chopped off the mast top in the photo). Problem? THIRD departure from the recommended method---I used Cathy's sailboat pattern but fused the raw edges...which means I didn't allow for the 1/4" turn-under on the sails. DUH.

Anyway, it doesn't look too out-of-proportion, and I'll just add more mast with a white zigzag stitch at the top. Gotta do what'cha gotta do.

Next up...the little tulle pieces for the boat reflection on the water. I haven't figured out yet how to get around using the glue powder that is called for in that step (I have none and hadn't planned on buying any), but no doubt will come up with something (that'll probably take me 10 times as long). 

And next time, hopefully, the finished quilt, bordered and bound.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Catch a Wave

This week brought a finish for the turtle quilt (see previous post), including a two-toned binding and a little "bling" for the turtles. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

The water got a little "bling" as well. This pricey, one-yard length of cording was purchased at the Paducah, KY AQS quilt show about 5 years ago. At the time I had no idea what I'd do with it, but couldn't resist the color and the subtle sparkle.

It turned out to be the exact color of the water in this turtle quilt...and even more fortuitous, the exact length needed to follow the sea foam curve across the entire width of the quilt!

(I long ago stopped questioning the wisdom of my quilting Muse. She just knows.)

The cording was couched onto the quilt with a free motion zigzag stitch and a 100-weight (very fine) poly thread.
The turtles' embellishments are subtle, too, and cost me nothing. All I did was get out my late mother-in-law's jar of old buttons and, after auditioning several, sewed one on each turtle's shell. (First time for attaching buttons using my sewing machine...super fast and easy!)

Paint markers and Sharpies were used to shade the legs and heads (and, in one case, conceal the obvious turtle head overlapping one turtle's shell).

And here's the finished quilt, titled Catch a Wave:

(excuse the pins)
A two-toned binding was chosen, because an all-around turquoise emphasized the water too much and cooled the quilt down, while an all-around red-brown warmed it up too much and looked out of place next to the water. But the red-brown definitely makes the turtles "pop" more.

The quilting is a little more obvious in this next photo.

Confession: Several times during the making of this quilt, I wanted to put my bare feet in that water. I guess that's a good sign...of what, I'm not sure. Probably that I need a vacation. :)

'Til next time,