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.
First off, I want to thank you all for the overwhelming response and kind comments about my wall. I'm glad you like it as much as I do and if there's one lesson that I can share from this project it's this: just start somewhere. Don't try to plan everything out, just start and let the project unfold as it needs to. I started with the framework and then just tackled it one clamshell at a time and it eventually came together.
After I finish a large project I like to take a day or 2 to regroup and reorganize all of my projects and spaces and get myself on track for another few months. This time I had the added carrot of a new challenge project from my quilt club, Country School Quilters. They are starting a challenge quilt series. It's a low stress project with only a couple of rules for each challenge and I've been on the fence about joining in. So I decided to think through all of my current projects and available workspaces to see if I wanted to jump in.
Let's take a look, shall we.
On the big sewing table with my Juki I have the scraps from the Rainbow Quilt spread out and I have an idea of where I want to go with them. There are lots of scraps so there's a whole new quilt in here and I'm very excited about the directing this is heading.
On the small sewing table with the Brother machine are tiny bits from the wedding quilt that I cut out for Mom and from the Rainbow Quilt. I've got several postcard ideas working here and this is great late night mindless sewing.
Let's not forget about the symmetry quilt blocks either. They have their own dedicated design wall and I work on cutting out the blocks sitting on the floor in front of the open cabinet. This is an easy project to get out, work on for an hour or so and then put away.
I keep a separate project to work on at the monthly CSQ sewing days (this month that's tomorrow and Saturday) and I have been very anxious to get to this one once the rainbow quilt tops were done. This is my oldest UFO and one that I still love. Just the borders left to go. I'll post more about it next week
On FloMo I've loaded the last of the Rainbow quilt tops. This small quilt will be a class sample for my Ruling Rulers class at The Longarm Network. It shouldn't take long to finish.
While the cutting table is clear I'm going to get this marked so that it will be the next thing quilted on FloMo. After that I have at least 10 veterans quilts waiting and probably 8 more of my own quilts.
Oh, and let's not forget that there's a new wall section coming up and I'm making fused glass fish for the backsplash for my dye sink!
So, after taking stock of what's currently on my plate and realizing that I didn't want to trade any of them out, I've decided to not participate in the challenge quilts....for now.
It seems I'm working on a little bit of everything this week which means that it's a very happy week with no complaints.
I was going to add the second shelf to the kiln yesterday to fire it but, fortunately I woke up yesterday morning with the clear realization that my plan would not work. The thermostat for the kiln would have been between the shelves and that would have screwed up the temperature for both shelves. Since I had the one shelf already loaded I ran a tack fuse cycle yesterday and hopefully can do the full fuse cycle this weekend.
Yesterday was dyeing day and I decided that it's been too long since I did shibori. It's a time intensive process but you can't beat the results.
I do 6 batches of shibori dye, 2 at a time and each batch takes about an hour. So while the dyes were working I ted up the last 7 of the beach towels that I'm dyeing for my family beach vacation. Tyeing it the tedious part so now I can get on to the fun...after I tie up some baby clothes and Tshirts. There's a tie dye session coming up really soon!
My goal for today is to get the king size Rainbow quilt loaded and basted. I'll be centering this on a quilt back so it's going to take some time and patience to get it loaded. I ordered the batting last Wednesday from Amazon and was told that I'd have if by Saturday. It didn't ship until Saturday and finally arrived Tuesday. I stretched it out on FloMo yesterday to let the batting relax a bit. I'm anxious to get this think done.
On a side note, it's taken me 45 minute to write the short post. There's all kinds of activity on the pond this morning and I've mostly been counting the turtles on "Turtle Beach" and watching a Heron hunt. The turtles have a special spot where they like to soak in the sun and the Heron has been particularly entertaining this morning. I even saw it catch a fish.
Before basting the quilt I'm heading out to hang out with a couple of friends this afternoon and I'll be taking my applique to work on a bit.
Yesterday we made our annual day-trip to Hampton for the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. Some years the exhibits are better than others, depending on the entries they received, but all years are fun. I didn't take many quilt photos but if I have any worth sharing I'll edit and post them later this week.
I was well restrained with my shopping and came home with only a small bag of items. Unfortunately the car discussion has me dreaming of a new sewing machine and I'm going to try to talk myself out of that. I just bought a new machine 2 years ago and, aside from it's hatred of metallic thread, it's otherwise a wonderful machine.
I plan to spend the rest of the weekend hanging out with FloMo. We are going to finish this veterans quilt and hopefully 2 more. Then I want to get the Rainbow Quilt loaded and started. We'll see how it goes.
What are your plans for the weekend? I hope it's something fun.
Working in the corner like this is really difficult and hard on every joint in my body. In other words, I'm not 17 anymore and had to finish this off in 3 sessions. But I got it done and now the last 3rd of the wall is ready for grouting. Technically I have until the end of the year but I'm anxious to get started on the next wall so I want this grouted soon. Maybe next week.
I either did mosaic in between dot making sessions or I made dots in between mosaic sessions. Whichever it was, I eventually finished both! All of the flower centers are made and basted to the borders near the corresponding blossom. Every where I had pins in the applique I replaced it with a little basting stitch. Who knows how long this is going to take and I don't want to risk pins rusting....although I'm not sure they do rust anymore.Regardless, I won't stick myself and bleed on the fabric either.
All of the leftover blocks, blossoms, lose petals and my drawings are packed up in this bin to be stored away until I get tired of seeing the bin and finally give the rest of this project away. I'm not ready to let go yet. Those blue blossoms are kind of calling me...because I'm borderline insane. As if the wall wasn't evidence enough of that.
The quilt top is safely stored in a cabinet but everything else I need for this project is in this bin. It has the binding fabric, 3 of the borders to be appliqued, the corners and extra floss.
As I work on a border I fold up the edges and safety pin them together and leave only the section I'm working on now. The pins won't hurt anything because I left some extra width that will be trimmed off when I put the quilt together. I cut floss into 3 lengths. Early on I measured how long pieces need to be for full petals, partial petals and centers. I have a ribbon length for each and can quickly precut a skein of floss into the right lengths. Looking at this photo I need to cut a skein of partial petals before I get back to stitching. All I need to carry with me are the thread reels, extra floss, little needle book an scissors. I wonder if I can get these scissors on a plane? Anyone know the answer to that?
This purple plastic folder has been my carrying case for this project from the very first petal. Hopefully it can hold together for the 4 borders.
The cutting table is clear and I'm ready to start a new project but it's a beautiful day today so Chris and I are going to take the day off and go for a little hike.
I got back from Birds of a Feather late yesterday afternoon and immediately collapsed in the recliner and didn't move much more after that. I had a fantastic time but, working from home, I'm not used to being around so many people so I always find crowds exhausting. But this was a really good crowd and it was great to reconnect with other teachers and some of my new owner students. I loved both of the classes that I taught and hope to get the opportunity to teach again next year.
Before I left I worked so hard to get my applique ready to take with me and then barely took a stitch. I came home to my brother's every night and vegged out with a movie. The last night we even had a double header. But I did shop!
I talk a lot about Superior Threads but I also like YLI a lot and most of their threads are made in the USA. Their booth was right next to where I was selling my Crystals fabric so I spent a lot of time talking to them. The Longarm Essentials is a brand new thread that they developed for The Longarm Network. I bought these 2 colors to try out on some of my veterans quilts. The pale gray will be perfect for the next 4 quilts. The tan variegated is YLI Variations, a trilobal polyester. I have this in a darker brown called Teddy that is beautiful. This one is Fawn and I love that it has a tiny bit of a pale olive to blend with the golds.
Then I spied these hand dyed cotton ribbon threads! These are YLI Quilt Highlights and I can't wait to try them on some postcards. You can see that you can even pull a thread for a ruched effect. I will be playing with these very soon.
These are the rayon/metallic versions of the YLI Quilt Highlights. Of course I had to get these for my Christmas postcards for this year. The green one is called Night Sky and the red one is called Night Embers. Very fancy.
My friend, Terry, bought these for me and I was thrilled to find them. They are really for holding oil but I need it for glue basting. It's going to be much better that what I'm using now.
Jamie Wallen and Lisa Calle were both there selling their rulers. I have almost all of Jamie's rulers except for the small pebbles/circles. His have handles which are perfect for most people but not for me. I found my missing sizes in Lisa's booth. These are her ProPebbles rulers and she has great instructional videos on her site on how to use them.
The bonus of the weekend was this cool beach tote that the conference attendees received. I'll be toting this to the beach in a few months.
Today I decided is going to be a Sunday. I'm not going to do much work. I'll catch up on laundry and work on my applique. I'll get back to work tomorrow.
My friend, Anne, is going to Disney with her sister later this month to run a half-marathon. She decided that they needed special outfits to wear and asked me to help. It's been a very long time since I made a garment but it's like riding a bicycle, it all comes back to you. Fortunately I had a period of time when I was really into swimwear and I remembered most of the tips.
She found a Jalie pattern for the skort and found these great Mickey and Minnie fabrics at FunkiFabrics in the UK. She came over Tuesday afternoon and we hoped to get one skirt made and 2 cut out. Instead we finished all three! We started with the Mickey skirt to do a test run of the process and see if the fit was true (it was). Then we made the other 2 assembly like fashion with a mismatch-of-parts mistake that I made about half way through. We didn't make the shorts so that shortened the process a lot. I think they plan to wear leggings underneath. They turned out really cute and the fabric is very high quality. They will look great at the Disney run.
I also unmolded the soap. It's stacked on a shelf in the basement for a few weeks of curing.
This photo shows how much a bar of soap shrinks during the curing process, Basically all of the water evaporates. Since I sell my soap by weight it's important to wait until this process is done! You can use uncured soap but it will dissolve faster than a cured bar because it's quite soft.
I was about to have a clean crisis here because I was running out of soap. Making soap was yet another task on the list of things I wanted to do the week after Christmas. I finally got to it yesterday.
If you are interested in making your own soap I have instructions here.
When I started making soap for myself I'd make about 2 lbs. in a batch and I'd make a few batches at a time. Over time people have asked for it and while I don't actively advertise it, I do sell some. My soap is fragrance-free so that appeals to the allergic types, like me. One day when I was making soap I realized that I could easily double or triple the batches so now I make double batches. My bowls aren't big enough for triple batches. I have several recipes only because I like making different things but when I'm in the shower I couldn't tell you which soap I'm using. I make my recipes to have certain properties of cleanliness, creaminess, hardness, conditioning and bubbles so they are really all about the same.
These are the first 2 batches that I made yesterday. The process is to measure the oils/fats and the water/lye. I melt the oils while I mix the lye and then it has to cool to about 100 degrees before I can mix it together. Because of the wait time I can easily make 2 different batches at a time. While the first is cooling I weigh out the ingredients, melt the oils and mix the lye for the second batch and get all of the molds ready. By the time I do that the first batch is ready to mix and pour and once those are done I can mix and pour the second batch.
These photos are right before I cover then with plastic wrap covered cardboard "lids" and then cover them in several layers of blankets. They will stay covered for 24 hours and then uncovered for another day or so before I unmold them. Then they cure at least 3 weeks.
I still had ingredients left so I kept going and made 2 more double batches. It's the most soap I've ever made at one time. I even ran out of molds so for the last batch I lined a box with freezer paper. I like the silicone molds because they are easy to pop the soap out but it's no problem cutting a big slab either.
That's about 16 lbs. of soap once it's cured. It shrinks considerably during that process and can lose up to 10% of it's weight. I read on a message board once that someone had soap lose 50% of weight but I can't imagine how that happens since the shrinkage is due to water evaporation and I've never seen a recipe with 50% water. But I'm no professional so I'll take her word for it. Either way, I love it when I have 3 shelves full of soap in the basement and today those shelves are bare.
This week is a busy week. I am getting ready for Birds of a Feather next week. I'll be selling some of my Crystal mandalas and teaching 2 classes. If you are in the Newport News area, Thursday afternoon is open to the public. You can come shop and stay for charity bingo that bight.
Oh what a treat it was to be in the dyeing studio again yesterday. I dyed 34 yards and still have more backlog to finish up next week.
On today's agenda is to whittle away a little more at this ironing pile but first I'm going to meet a friend at the VMFA to see the Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch exhibit. They honestly aren't my "thing" but I feel like I should take advantage of it while it's here and I get to catch up with a friend I haven't seen in a couple of years.
After that I'll be ironing and I might even load a couple of veteran's quilts to quilt up quickly this weekend.
The health Gods are really messing with me now. I was feeling better from the cold but yesterday after walking to the mailbox (it's a long walk) I knew that something wasn't quite right. Fortunately my doctor could see me yesterday afternoon and now I have antibiotics for pneumonia. Fabric dyeing and other very physical activities are further delayed. I'm supposed to teach Saturday and hopefully I'll be all better by then. I will say that pneumonia doesn't feel nearly as bad as the first 10 days of that horrid cold!
So, just what does a girl do when she's sick and doesn't feel like quilting,, dyeing or mosaicing? She things about all of those things and buys new supplies!
The only commercial fabric is buy is an occasional solid and ALL of Paula Nadelstern's fabrics. She does a new symmetry collection every year. usually I make a sample for her in the fall but I wasn't able to do it this year. I had to wait on the fabrics to arrive in the store like everyone else! They jsut came in this week and, as always, I LOVE them. Once I finish putting together the applique quilt top and preparing the borders for applique I will be starting a new symmetry quilt. It will probably be something from Paula's new book, Fabricadabra.
If you also need some of these fabrics Paula has a 2-week Pop-Up Shop open on her web this week! Check out the whole collection along with the book and coordinating thread collection.
On the way to the doctor's office I checked the mail and saw that this long-awaited book had finally arrived!
I don't buy many books anymore because most of them are hugely disappointing. I bought a longarm book recently that I felt was very weak on usable content. It had about 3 pages on technique and the rest was patterns for the author's quilt samples. I don't need to replicate her quilts. I wanted to see many examples of her design process. Frankly, it was a waste of money.
Playful Fabric Printing, on the other hand, is how books should be. It's a comprehensive book on printing fabric with thickened MX dyes. There's ample information on mixing dyes and getting the perfect thickness for printing. The rest of the book has a lot of detail instructions and samples for various methods of printing cloth including stencils, stamps, multiple color stamping, screening and texture. If you are at all interested in fabric dyeing then you will want to add this book to your library. The sections on methods of design and printing are totally applicable to fabric paints too. It's a book that will be a long time reference for me and I couldn't read it all even in the long wait at the doctor's office.
Playful Fabric Printing should be the standard for quilting and craft books. That it isn't is why so many book publishers are going out of business.
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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