It's not football season so I'm not watching a lot of TV and that means that there's been precious little progress on the applique quilt so far this year.
We also have metered internet so we can't stream much. But last week was the cycle date on our internet and because our internet was down for 10 days earlier we had lots of data to use up. So we started binge watching a series on Amazon Prime.
I got 2 more blossoms done!
I have 4 blossoms on the first border done. One more and I'll be half finished with the first border. That means that I am now 9% done with the borders.Maybe I'll be able to do more on some upcoming trips but real progress won't happen until football season starts again in September.
In the past when I've shared projects that customers have done with my fabric I've called it "customer work" but that sounds really dull and these projects are never dull. When I get one of these in my email it's like receiving a gift of fine jewelry. Actually I like these even better than jewelry. They are like sparkly gems sent to brighten my day so from now on I'll call the "Customer Gems" and I have some real gems to share today!
The next two quilts were both made for Easter celebrations.
Miriam Ahladas made this quilt based on a drawing and request from her 7 year old granddaughter, Ava. She used Barrier Island Gradient as the background and Red Sunset for some of the elements. She added in batiks, some fibers and beautiful quilting to finish it off.
Rachel Derstine made this giant Easter quilt as a commission for a local church. The background was custom dyed and she used Solar Flare, Key West and Under The Sea gradients for the streamers. Check out her blog post on the making of this quilt to get a true sense of just how big this quilt is. Rachel also has a shop where she sells beautiful art quilts, table runners and handbags.
I've been working on a couple of sampler quilts for classes that I'm teaching at The Longarm Network. I have my very favorite books and tools out to use on these quilts so I thought I'd share them.
I didn't receive any of these products free nor was I asked to review them. These just happen to be some of the products that I'm loving right now and I thought I'd share.
The first sample quilt is this one for a free motion filler class schedule for July 29. I'll share the finished version of this quilt as soon as I get both quilts finished and bound.
I don't buy a lot of quilting books. I find that I'm disappointed with most of them. I've bought books that have a few pages of instruction on the technique and the rest of a collection of quilt patterns. When I buy a technique book, I want a whole book of technique or a book of ideas.
The book that I turn to most often for FMQ ideas is 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs from Leah Day. Her website also has tons of great designs but when I'm at the machine quilting I prefer to not have to go to the internet for anything and that's why I have the book nearby at all times.
As I was finishing up this sample quilt I saw that Margaret Gunn had published two books on fill designs and I quickly ordered both. I know Margaret's work so I knew that these would be comprehensive and I was not disappointed. One book is all free-motion fills and the other is grid-based fill designs. Her design aesthetic is different from Leah Day's so these 3 resource books really complement each other.
The next quilt is the Ruler Class quilt that I shared Thursday. From an investment perspective my ruler collection is only surpassed by my thread collection. I love rulers and have tons of them and, I admit, that I really only use about half of them. Early on in my longarm ownership I fell prey to a lot of fancy demos on using fancy rulers when I reality I mostly use straight rulers, lots of circle rulers, ovals and boomerang rulers for curved cross hatching and one wave ruler. But I mostly use circles and ovals.
You saw all of these Monday. I love Jamie Wallen's circles and ovals. I have all of the circles from 3 1/2" and up and all of the ovals. I use the ovals even more than I expected. They are incredibly versatile. But many of his rulers, including the smaller circles have handles on them and I discovered that I can't use them. I have some nerve issues in my left arm and hand and the handle really aggravates it.
For small circles I got this clever snap together tool from Deloa Jones, also the maker of my favorite Boomerangs. She calls them Puzzle Pearls and has them in multiple sizes. I like these because when I want to quilt a perfect little circle I don't have to worry about a flat edge where the hopping foot would go through an opening. But sometimes this big tool becomes awkward to use because it's so large
When I was at Birds of a Feather I found Lisa Calle's ProPebbles rulers.
Each set come with 2 sizes of circles. The closed circles are for drawing and the partial circles (an innie and an outie) are for quilting. These are smaller pieces so are a bit easier to maneuver on the quilt.
When I quilt a row of pebbles I like to do them half at a time in a line instead of quilting the whole circle and then having to quilt again over half the circle to move to the next position.
I mark a center line and use the hatch marks to keep the ruler centered on that marked line. This foes surprisingly fast.
I know that my posts here are as random as they can be. Monday was mosaic, Tuesday was birds, yesterday was glass and today is quilting and who knows what tomorrow might be. If it seems that I jump from project to project it's because that's exactly what I do. I like having multiple options because I can do whatever I'm on the mood to do or can work on something else while I'm stumped or stymied on another project. It means that each project seems to progress at a snail's pace but they (mostly) eventually get done.
I also think another reason that I flit between projects is from my old work routines. I spent most of my days for almost 30 years going from one meeting to another so 1 hour increments seem really natural for me and it seems to be how I approach things here too. After an hour or 2 on one thing I'm ready to move on to something else. I don't make enough progress on all of the projects in a day to bother to share anything on the blog but over 7 - 10 days I can generally come up with an update that's worthwhile.
I first shared this little quilt a couple of weeks ago. It's the last of the leftover blocks from the Rainbow quilt. This one is going to be a sample for my ruler class at The Longarm Network (schedule for June 17) and it should be done already.
The plan was to quilt a few motifs in this bright orange thread and then fill the background with various ruler fills. I got this first shape done and then I hit a wall. I knew the effect I wanted but I just wasn't getting there so I just left it for a week or so and one morning I woke up with the solution. Well, it's A solution. It might not be THE solution but it will work.
Is there ever really just 1 solution?
So I was able to move forward and add the other motifs. This a little Spirograph-type motif.
This one is an idea for a block treatment.
The solution I was looking for was a way to keep these 4 quilted motifs from just floating around in the middle of the quilt and the answer was to connect them. I've created a grid in the lime green thread that connects the motifs and the lines carry over to the edge of the border. Now I am more comfortable moving forward to finish this little sampler. Every stitch on it will be ruler work so it's not a speedy little quilt but it is fun.
Today we are checking in on what's going on in the glass studio and mostly we're talking about disasters.
When I first started doing glass I agonized over getting pieces perfect but I have since learned that with glass, like quilting, you can almost always fix something or, worst case, use it for scrap. Some of the scrap projects, again like with quilting, are some of the most fun and most interesting.
I don't usually share my "disasters" but I've had quite a few lately so thought I'd show them and tell you what I'll do with them.
We'll start with the pretty set of sushi plates that I promised for a friend LAST YEAR! I have to get a kiln full of glass to work on these and I can only slump 2 at a time so that's one reason they are taking so long. But I was down to the last orange one this weekend and was looking forward to emailing her this week to tell her they were ready.
Oh my, what the heck is this? The back of the plate has picked up some kiln wash or something and it's permanently fused to the dish. There's a small spot on the front too. So, what to do?
I'm going to first run it through a full fuse to flatten it out. Then I will use some wet sanding pads (specifically for glass) to sand the back of the plate and the one spot on the front. Then I'll full fuse it again to bring the sheen back and then slump it. It's got 3 more trips through the kiln before it's potentially done. In all honesty I'm probably also going to make another one just in case the repair doesn't work. Regardless, it's good for me to learn how to fix these problems.
Next up is this bubble plate. It has iridized glass on the bottom and you can see that it's taken on a distracting texture.
Here's a better look from the back. That's called pitting. I have now learned why this happened and consider it a miracle that it hasn't happened to me before because I've been fusing the irid glass wrong all along! I'm going to send this through the kiln once with the irid side up to see if it fixes itself. If that doesn't work I may grind the irid off to leave myself with a nice amber bubble plate.
This is one of my quilt blocks suncatchers. I've been working on this thing FOREVER! After the first fuse I felt that the hooks for the hanger were not fused in well enough so I sent it through again to add a bit of clear so they would be seated better.
This one worked perfectly.
This one not so much! I will need to grind the clear away from the hole of the hanging loop and then fuse it again, hopefully for the last time. I'll use a Dremel with diamond bits for this and I'll keep the surface wet while I'm grinding.
I want the kiln full every time I fire so I got a school of fish bodies ready (tails glued to bodies) and will get them "decorated" so that I can fill in the spaces between my other project with these. All of these fish will be swimming on my dye sink backsplash.
Also, people have been bringing me bottles so I spent a lot of time washing and removing labels from bottles this past weekend. I do these inbetween other firings. This is a particularly good batch. There are lots of clear ones to use with my tree of life and swirl molds.
We checked on the nest box this morning and our Bluebirds have started hatching! The one on the bottom is not dead. It just didn't lift it's head for the photo. Will try to get another look this weekend after all six have hatched.
The iris are on the bluebird schedule. I got the first bloom the same day as the hatching. Iris are pretty much the only flowers I plant. They are hearty and require almost no effort. They were also my Grandmother Lura's favorite flower. All of those things make it the perfect flower for me.
Now that the basement is all nice and clean it's time to mess it up again and there's no quicker way to do that than with mastic and broken pottery.
It's time to start the new wall section!
My goal with this section it to use up many of the containers of leftovers from the Great Wall. These things are taking up a lot of space and, like quilting, I can't throw out the scraps. So I had to come up with an idea that would use smallish bits.
One day while I was working on the Great Wall I started thinking about my longarm rulers and from there the idea was born for the new wall.
I'm going to make a beaded doorway! When these were popular I was still quite young so wasn't of age to have a beaded doorway of my own. But I did think they were cool. Of course I now know that they are a giant pain in the butt. But fixed in place on a wall it could be pretty cool.I drew the lines with a spirit level and the beads are all of the various sizes of rulers that I have from Quilter's Apothecary. There things come in handy for all sorts of uses.
This is the width of the space. I have the beads drawn in for the top half at this point. I want to make sure I have the spacing good before I draw all of them.
There's no time like the present to get started! This is a small collection of leftover orange bits. The lump of mastic is all that's left from the second bucket that I used on the Great Wall. I already have the third gallon bucket ready to go.
Now it's official. Another wall is underway!
The trick is going to be fitting the amount of potter to the optimal bead sizes. I hope to do this wall without breaking into new pottery but that's not going to be a firm rule.
This is all that's left. Do you think I threw these out like I should?
Of course not but I'll just set aside one scrap bucket for all of the leftovers, like our quilting scrap bins. That will be an improvement over what I have going on right now.
This morning I had a little time to come up with a plan for the "ledge" that the beads will hang from. I think this is going to work fine and I'll have just enough of these tiles to do it. These are leftover from a friend's remodel project.
I'm very excited to have my next wall section underway.
Leslie McNeil is back with another of her beautiful collage art quilts. She started working with this collage technique a few years ago and has really mastered it. She now teaches it and has patterns available. There's even a pattern for Sun Blossom Pony. This one features the Barrier Island background fabric which has been quilted with a bobbin quilting technique, as well as beading by machine. There are over 100,000 stitches in this piece.
Leslie does all of her quilting on a domestic sewing machine and her stitching is exquisite. She create beautiful texture and is not afraid to use bold threads so that her quilting stands out.
She's a wonderful photographer too! You can see lots more of her work, peruse her patterns and things for sale and find out about her classes on her website.
Birding season is off to a slow start this year but we finally have an Eastern Bluebird nesting in one of the boxes. In about 10 days we should have some baby birds to watch.
The other 2 boxes are still empty but there's an Eastern Phoebe determined to nest above our front door. We let her there last year and that resulted in a snake incident and that means no more birds above the front door! Chris stuffed the area full of styrofoam so there's no ledge but she keeps spreading mud everywhere. Eventually, I suppose, she will get it into her bird brain that she can't nest there and will move on and then we can get out the power washer and clean up the mess.
Speaking of cleaning up messes that's what I was up to all yesterday afternoon. Once wood-stove season is over I do a deep cleaning of the basement. There was a time when I could get some help from Chris but with the addition of my glass workstation and the mosaic mess he really only has about 4 square feet of space left in 1000 square feet of basement.
So let's take a little tour while it's presentable.
As you come down the stairs the dye studio is to the right. Hopefully by next year that sink against the far wall will have a cool mosaic back splash. When it comes to my work spaces I am 100% function over form. Almost every work surface and cabinet in the basement was gotten cheap or free so when I die someone can just call 1800-got-junk and haul it all out.
Just at the bottom of the stairs is this big beautiful table that I use mostly for cutting fabric. I did actually buy this and it was worth every penny. Beyond that is the glass department and the woodstove that keeps me toasty warm down here in the winter. That little stove actually heats most of the house all winter and, living in the "country", Chris can always get free wood.
All of my glass is stored under the bench. The scrap, frit and powders are in rolling cards and the glass sheets are in 3 old dishwasher racks. These are my absolute favorite "reuse" items. The have wheels, of course, so I can just roll them out for easy access.
On the back side of the glass "department" is the kiln, all of my slumping molds and a table for setting up things ready to go into the kiln. I plan to be doing some things here this weekend.
The other half of this back room is taken up with mosaic supplies. Do not get into mosaics because, seriously, this is as neat and tidy as it gets!
The 4th quadrant, and the 1st that I occupied down here, is where FloMo sits. It's right behind the dye station. When I say I'm all function over form I mean it. That carpet is held down with extra wide duct tape! But for the first and last time this year, that floor is clean enough to eat off of so if you want to have a meal on an ugly concrete floor you better come over soon. It's about to get messy again.
I've been thinking about doing this post for a while but it became relevant when I was working on the sailboat postcard. I needed thread for the edging and wound up checking all of my thread stashes to find the perfect matches.
I'm pretty sure that I have more thread than fabric and I'm A-OK with that. I hate starting to quilt a quilt and not having just the right thread to go with it. Thread is like crayons. If you can afford it are you going to buy the Ultimate Crayons or the 8-pack? You are buying the 152 ultimate pack that includes glitter and metallic crayons.
Well, let's start with the fancy metallics, glitter and other special threads. These are in a cabinet right next to my Brother sewing machine (where I make postcards). Like many of my threads, several are in the original wrappers but they were there when I need them! But there's nothing there for my postcards.
Next stop is these 2 drawers of mostly acrylic threads. These are under the Brother table and I use these a lot on postcards but it runs fine on the longarm too. Many, many years ago there was a website called Lunn Fabrics that sold hand dyed fabrics. Debra and Michael now design batiks for one of the fabric lines. They also sold this thread and when they went out of business they sold off the remaining inventory at deeply discounted prices. I bought over 50 cones but, seriously, this was so inexpensive that I'm sure I've gotten my value out if it now. The colors are beautiful and the sheen is wonderful. But none of them matched my postcards. Down to the basement.....
Nothing in the Masterpiece collection matched. I primarily use this as bobbin and piecing thread.
I used a variegated poly threads on the front of the cards but didn't want a varigated effect on the edges so no Rainbows or King Tut. These days I use these threads primarily on charity quilts where I do an all over pattern. I'm using up a lot of King Tut on the veterans quilts.
The threads I use most often for quilting are these polyester (not shiny) neutrals and I'm glad I have lots not choose from....but not for these cards.
I expected to fin the matches here in either the So Fine or Bottom Line collections but no!
How about the solid polyesters? I love these threads and use them a lot. But no matches here either and I'm running out of options.
Back upstairs I have another cart of thread next to the Juki. The top drawer has my piecing threads. The second drawer has some heavier cottons that are used almost exclusively on postcards but this wasn't what I was going for.
Years ago when I was primarily sewing garments some online store had an amazing price for Mettler thread and I bought every possible color. This supply has come in handy so many times and I consider it one of my best purchases ever.
That was doubly true when I made these postcards. Look at those perfect matches!
I love my thread collection and wouldn't trade it for anything. I think I'd give away all of my fabric before I gave away the thread. It's my ultimate crayon box just bigger and spread all over the house. At least they don't stain carpets when they are accidentally smushed.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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