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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Choosing quilting patterns... and other life's bits (new sewing room!)

Hi everyone,

hope your Fall is going well and it is as colorful as mine here - I just LOVE fall colors!! I find myself loving every season for one reason or another, but fall is by far the most spectacular when it comes to color, don't you agree? Just look at this glorious color display!

 Poor Marley is used already of me stopping every so often and not only taking pictures all the time but trying to get him to stay and pose too... Poor guy! Doesn't his face look like saying "really mom, another photo?", ha ha! Good thing he loves me...

But I "spread" my annoying habits to other family members too - Oliver, our grand-puppy is getting quite good in posing too during our Monday walks when this grandma is baby-sitting (by far the BEST part of my week!!)

OK, back to quilting now.

Remember that project I worked on two weeks ago and shared a peek and few small quilting tips? I can finally show you the whole thing, yay! My friend Martha's new pattern, Cherry Orchard is on the web site and this little table topper is actually a BONUS you will get as a free download, when you buy a pattern - how cool! So here it is:


I love the hexagon shape!! And yet, it is really not difficult to piece (Martha's instructions are really clever and make it easy!). The original pattern is for a lap size quilt and a long table runner and this hexagon shaped topper is a bonus.
Isn't this gorgeous?

So now you see that I was right to be a bit nervous when Martha asked me to quilt the hexagon topper for her? :)  (read about it HERE)
So here is a little story on how I wen about choosing what to do, thought you might want to know or it might inspire you to try something new?
Starting in the center (as you always should - quilt from center of the quilt - out) - here is a blank hexagon:

My FMQ instinct immediately thought of some feathery plumes...or some cherries and leaves...but I decided to try "less is more" way and go just for some straight line hexagon echo:

Here is one thing that I did and SHOULDN'T: instead of going for the TRUE "from the middle, out" way and marked the center (smallest) hexagon first and then echo it with bigger ones - I went for stitching in the ditch around the dark plum border and then echoing towards the center. I got away with it this time and was very careful about keeping everything straight...so no puckers in the middle, but I am telling you - DON'T DO IT this way, it's risky and tricky!
OK, dodged that bullet (and learned my lesson in NOT being lazy to mark things!), let's go to the next step:
This was the basic unit here, the cherry tree. I knew I wanted background around the tree to be more densely quilted so that tree "pops out" and then something fairly simple within the tree. So I went first with some tight spirals around the TOP of the tree:

At this point I switched from sage green Aurifil 50wt thread to the dark purple/plum one, to quilt the cherry trees. Decided to go with quilting three cherries and some leaves in them. Never did cherries before but decided to be brave, ha ha.

It might be a bit hard to see it, since print is quite busy, but you know what - that was a perfect and very forgiving way to try our that motif (other than doodling on paper, which I did first!) - busy print really hides your quilting!

Hope you can see cherries? :)

Now it was the time to go tackle the triangle space between cherry trees and bottom of the trees (and switch back to the sage green thread color). By now I was "brave" with those cherries and decided that a pair of them should go right there on display! Now I was a bit nervous and decided to actually just lightly draw them, just to have a guide...
Can you see it?

It was very light, I even used just regular pencil for this... And then, VOILA - cherries! :)

What do you think? OK?
I was actually quite happy with them! (and that is not always the case, I can be really harsh to myself...)
Once cherries were all done, time for the bottom of the trees space and some "grass" in form of modified McTavishing - that I was comfortable with! :)




And finally, for the outer border, I went back to something I am not as good at but want to get better (yeah, you guessed it - it was back to that forgiving, very busy print! he he...) - PEBBLES! I am so not good at pebbles yet, but getting better... I hope! :)

Pebbles from the back...

And that was IT - all done!! 
As I mentioned in the previous post - all of this was done with these two lovelies from my palette of  50wt Aurifil - I really want more shades of this gorgeous plum/purple color!! 


So - what do YOU think? Agree with my choices of quilting? Do you have any other suggestions I could try for next time?

How do you go about choosing your quilting? I would LOVE to know! 





The most important - Martha did love it!! YAY!! 
Remember, you can have this gorgeous pattern and free bonus - find it HERE!!

Few other life bits - I am moving my sewing room into a bigger space!! Hooray!!
This is the second larges bedroom in our house and it used to be at first the oldest son's room (he is now happily married) and then our daughter moved into it when she came back from NYC, and now, since she moved out again, it's time for me to spread a bit! :) Don't get me wrong - it took quite a bit of me to actually do this... I am one of those parents that holds on... he, he. But our daughter was on my case to do it, convincing me that the smaller room (my current sewing room) is just fine as a guest room. After all, I sew every day and we have guests only few times a year, right? 
Move is going slow, started from painting first (just needed to be clean, fresh coat of paint) and then the best husband in the world helped to make this awesome design wall:

I just LOVE it!!
So what is it? Its house builder's insulation boards from Home Depot - they are 4 ft x 8 ft, light foam, with that foil-y cover on top. They are wrapped with white felt (I found wide one at Joann's for $2.99/yard!!) and then hubby built a light frame behind them from 1"x 2" x 10 ft slats. Needed them to be sturdy. The we got couple of those double-sliding closet door rail sets and hung these two boards as if they are closet doors. Behind them will be all my shelves with fabric!!  
Did I mention I just love it? :)
This past weekend I actually did the majority of move! Fabrics (and LOTS of it!) is not organized yet, but that will take time and some new shelves, but  - I can sew and work in it already!!
New sewing and cutting area:

Future set-up of Grand Quilter (of course thread rack will not stay there...):


And that lovely design wall with some temporary shelves already tucked behind it:


Way, way more work to be done, but I am excited to finish it!! 
Stay tuned, I will share more photos as I make progress. In the meantime - thanks for spending some time with me, hope you will leave me a comment about your quilting choices or your life bits.
Have a lovely week ahead and - Marley says:

SMILE!!

Marija

#quilting #Aurifil #quiltingchoices #newsewingroom

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just a quick note... (and a little quilting tip)

Hi everyone,

hope you had a fabulous weekend and a wonderful week ahead! Our western NY weather is turning towards the real fall - chilly nights, some rain but gorgeous leaves colors about to peak. However we caught a bit of break this Sunday, with sunny skies and had a wonderful, wonderful family outing to pick some apples on Becker Farms.

Ah the colors, aromas and traditions of Autumn - I just love it!



We drove back south (away from lake Ontario) right into some dark clouds, rain and even small hail! Geeez... but hey, that is actually a prefect quilting weather, right?

And quilting I did!
My dear friend Martha, a quilter and accomplished pattern designer (link takes you to all of Martha's wonderful patterns!), is getting her new pattern ready and made a smaller sample to go to Houston Quilt Market with pattern publisher, QuiltWoman .com . So she called me last week and said - "Marija this sample is going to Houston, it needs your quilting!"
WHAT AN HONOR!!
Even more so if you know that Martha is my dear friend, colleague in science research (but happily retired now) and of course a quilting buddy! We started together about 20 years ago - she getting back to quilting as it started its revival, me a complete novice to the world of quilting, who never even SAW a quilt before I moved to US! What a journey we had and so much more ahead!!

Now back to quilting - it IS such an honor when friend tells you something like that, but it also made me nervous... Do you get nervous when quilting (or sewing) something for someone else? And I mean someone who knows what good work is? Yeah, I know, we are friends, but still I got a bit nervous!
I am sorry I can't show you the WHOLE project done yet - but it will be SOON (by the end of this week, as soon as it is up on the web site and all) - but I will share a peek and the promised tip/advice I thought is worth sharing! :)

For this project of course I went to my #Aurifil stash and picked these two beautiful colors to work with:


Such beautiful colors! See how thin is that sage green spool getting - LOVE that color, it blends with so many fabrics!! (if blending is what you need)

Yeah, 50wt is still my preferred Aurifil to use - I just LOVE how fine yet strong it is!

 However - I am starting to drool over the heavier weights...like 28wt  or even Aurifil floss?? Very different uses for those but projects I see around quilting blogosphere and internet in general are so inspiring!! Here is a good short tip about using 28wt, by Andres of MadTesla . Or how about these beauties made with Aurifil floss by my friend Katarina? Or some embroidery anyone? If you haven't given different thread thicknesses much thought, here is a good short video by Pat Sloan to get you started.

So how about you - do you venture away from what you use the most? If you do, any good advice? :)

OK, OK - I keep getting distracted!! (the story of my life...) Back to quilting!
So - lets be honest - how good are you about cleaning your machine regularly? I used to NOT be as good...There, I said it. But then - I read somewhere this little tip: each time you have to change your bobbin, do a quick clean! 
I tried - I LOVE IT!! I rarely am this good about sticking to some practice, but I do with this one, and I think it makes a HUGE difference!
 But here is my actual tip - I love, love LOVE using PIPE-CLEANERS for this!! Yes - your regular, craft-store pipe-cleaners.


I like to fold one end and form a loop like this and just do a quick swipe around everything.  I also use single end and push through the throat plate:


I even run it by my tension disks above and around the needle if needed. It takes probably 30 seconds to do it all.
Of course - this is NOT going to remove the need for a more detailed cleaning and even the professional one, but it sure makes for a smooth ride and maybe even less frequent troubles?

So with this AND a good thread like Aurifil - I rarely have thread brakes when doing machine quilting. Absolutely NONE for this small project!
However - that doesn't mean I don't get myself in un-necessary trouble! You know how you get into zen of free-motion quilting, you are going and going... and then your machine tells you your bobbin is running low and...what do you do?? Well the right answer would be - before it runs out, I stop at some "good" place in my quilting (good meaning - not very visible, the natural end of a design...). HA!! Yes, that is what good, responsible quilter would do - me? not so much... :(
OK, OK...sometimes I do, but often not. And of course - the karma will then punish me with my bobbin thread running out right in the middle of a VERY visible part or the design!! RIGHT??

So, being as bad as I am, here is what I do to save the day (apart from picking out stitches of course - who wants to do that!)
Here is what happened this time - where the bobbing thread ran out:


So of course you re-load the bobbin to start over.
The thread you see coming OUT of my quilt is the new bobbin thread being pulled to the top of your quilt (you always do that before starting FMQ, right?). To do that, I put my needle down into the stitching several stitches before it ended and pull the bobbin thread on top. Then I do a stay-stitch (or zero length stitch) RIGHT in that spot (to anchor my new stitching) and then continue.


After cutting off the threads later, you really can't see the difference and it looks good! SAVED!! :)

What do you do in this situation? I am sure there is more and even better ways to do this and if you know one, please share!

Happy to say that was the ONLY mishap while quilting Martha's lovely piece and here is a little peek - pattern is called Cherry Orchard, so I quilted some cherries:


There was some straight line quilting too - I am getting to like that!! :)


I promise to share with you the whole project as soon as I can!

Have a lovely Tuesday and week ahead,
Marija

#quilting #quiltingtip #Aurifil #sewingmachinecleaning


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Around the world Blog Hop - a game of Blog Tag!!

Hi everyone,

yes, I have been a bit too quiet lately and as always, I will try to NOT be in the future! The end of summer somehow just sneaked-up on me with so much to do around the house, family and yes - even quilting and sewing! Just not having time to write about it...or, honestly - just not as good in FINDING time to write about it, right?

So - what better inspiration and "push" to get back into it and be better than a show of support and love from fellow quilter, blogger, amazing young artist and my dear, dear friend Maer of Hard Rock Quilter ! Visit and follow her blog for some amazing inspirations and creative adventures she shares!

Maer invited me to participate in this really fun and inspiring game of BLOG TAG among bloggers - a phenomenal way of connecting and getting to know so many amazing creatives who also share their journey through blogging - I just LOVE it!!

So it is my turn to tag more bloggers and my tag is Pam Wilde, of Sewing Wilde ! Pam is a friend and fellow Western NY MQG member and an amazingly creative quilter - visit and follow Pam's blog to enjoy lots of inspiration!
Pam's turn to answer few fun questions will be next Monday, October 6th and here are mine:

1.  What are you working on?

Oh, that is my favorite question! ;) 
Even though summer always gets in the way of many sewing hours, with its garden and outdoor stuff and house projects, I squeezed in some fun! Couple of weeks ago I took an amazing class from world famous Quiltaholic - really an excellent teacher, traveler and quilter, Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville.com  . Oh my goodness - that was just so much fun!! If you looked around my blog, you might have noticed that I an not much of a scrap-quilter...But I do truly, truly LOVE them and admire them!! It seems that I just can't do them??
Well, if I love anything - it is to try something new, to challenge myself and LEARN something new! All accomplished in this fun class, thanks to my friend Robi (a phenomenal scrap quilter who even cut a whole bag full of squares and strips for me, to add to variety) and an amazing inspiration of Bonnie's quilts. 
We were working on Blue Ridge Beauty quilt:
Yeah, pretty spectacular, right?
Here is my start - yes, me the passionate strip-piecer actually made four-patches from squares!! For maximum variety, you know... Not to mention that all the hard work of cutting all these was done by Robi! (did I mention she is a good friend?)


Pairs sewn, seams to the blue, pairs joined with that nested seam...and voila!! Piles of four-patches!!
And an excellent, EXCELLENT tip from Bonnie about "spinning those seams" - a much better way to press the seams in a four-patch block, to have it lay flat and - even more importantly for this pattern - have all the seams NEST later! Did I mention EXCELLENT tip??

Now isn't this a lovely, SCRAPPY sight:



Then I tried even more new things - making HSTs from strips, by using the Easy Angle ruler! I have to say - I do LIKE it!! It works from strips of a "regular" size (much like my beloved Thangles) and it is easy to use!

Two pairs of neutral-blue strips are on this pile and then you cut and flip, and cut and flip...


Take the pairs and line 'em up to chain-piece... Yes, you are sewing on the bias and if you are just a bit careful, it's OK! I have to say - having the Dual-feed on my PFAFF is what I really, really LOVE in this case

 Pile-o-HSTs!

And ready for some block assembly:


These blocks are simple and easy, but they do give so many layout possibilities! And...AHEM...how did I do as a scrap quilter? What do you think?? :)



Now for some REAL scrap magic! Towards the end of the class, Bonnie wanted us to talk about block layouts, so she asked for everyone's finished blocks to have plenty - regardless that they were made in all different colors and styles of fabric (from Kaffe Fasset to Civil War - I kid you not!) - and look at this scrappy magic!!



YEAH!! Don't you just love it?? I DO !!
There might be a closet scrap-quilter somewhere inside me... :)

OK, OK...not so fast! I also did do some "more familiar" for me stuff too! He...he...
Played a bit with my beloved "ombre" or color gradation fabrics, trying to develop some new fun ways to use it.
So I started by just doing some free-form curvy cutting and piecing (you know, one I love to do, blogged about "HOW-TO" of that for the border of the Migration table runner, HERE - scroll all the way to the end!)


Then layered two strip-sets with opposing colors and cut some squares, then cut them diagonaly, then sew...


And here is the result of play!


I kinda like this!! What do you think?
The curvy checkerboard stuff on the right is another attempt at play...we'll see how that will go, not so sure now... :)
That is the latest from my sewing room, so lets get back to the BLOG TAG and questions - next one is:

2.  How does my work differ from others?

Hmm... that is a tough one. I am not even sure that is does? And I am not sure that I can actually answer this? Isn't it maybe more for others to say that? What do you think?
One thing I can say is this: I love to play and experiment. I try to use traditional patchwork and piecing to "paint" a picture of something (like flowers, or landscape...), to bring the feeling of it, rather than to actually represent it literally (like with applique or actual landscape quilts). 
Something like Hungry Caterpillar made out of Snowball blocks: (blogged about this one HERE)

Or some flowers made from HSTs and QSTs: (blogged about the design process for this one HERE )


So...is that different than others? Not so sure and maybe it's not even important? What is important is to have fun in creating what you love. My passion is to encourage anyone who will listen to try it and do it. 
Next question:

3. Why do I do what I do?

Hmm...how much time do you have? Ha ha!! Yeah, I could talk about this for a long time, but really the short answer is - I just LOVE it. It makes me happy, it fulfills my desire to create and play, it gives me such happiness to give what I make to my loved ones. The added bonus - as I teach others to quilt I take such pleasure and gratitude to inspire others to be creative. I take this as a gift and privilege that should never be taken for granted.

4. How does my creative process work?

I doddle a lot, I always have. Since I don't carry a small purse but rather large one, a good size notebook (with square grid) is always with me and it has so many scribbles in it... Inspired by nature, by some gorgeous fabric, by some lines and shapes I saw. Not everything becomes something, but even just that doodling it a fun thing to do, right? If some do go from a doodle to a quilt, it usually goes from a doodle into my EQ7 first and then into fabric. Actually, the two last links above, for the blog posts about those two quilts - they have just that, a process that got me to making them, so take a look if you like! :)

Well, this was fun! It is a good thing to answer some of these basic questions from time to time - it makes you think and reminisce! 
I would LOVE to know what you think, what is your creative process and why YOU do it - let me know! Continue with this fun by checking out Maer's blog (and ones that came before her) and then next week, Pam's blog!

Thank you for spending time with me and have a wonderful week ahead,

Marija