Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just Ducky

Here's the quilt that had the binding missing. I am so incredibly glad to have been able to bind it Thanksgiving Day. My husband's sisters were enthralled by the Clover needle thread. A couple of the nephews wanted to disassemble it to see how it worked. One told me that it was cheating. I assured them that it was no more cheating than wearing glasses to improve one's eyesight!

I love this quilt in so many ways. The simplicity of yellow and white was fabulous. I had been collecting these yellows for some time to make up kits out of them. There are about 15 different yellows...all in shades that complement one another beautifully. I included an orange batik, shaded just right for the duck bills and the axles on the wheels.

When I quilted this piece, I used a yellow flannel backing and a wool batting. The lightness of the wool batting (yes, it is lighter) and the soft of the flannel backing would have made most shy away from the combination. However, the drape of this quilt is phenomenal. I think this is due in large part to the fact that I used 100-weight silk thread. The thread was so light that even though I was micro-stitching this quilt it kept a light hand and beautiful drape-ability. I am most anxious to wash it up and see how beautiful it is. The hand of this quilt should comfort both the child and the people who hold the child!

All the Best to You, jill

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Found the Floor in My Sewing Room

The holidays makes me clean house and clean my sewing room. I suspect I do it because I know that the kids playing pool will be eating in my sewing room. Not that the kids really care what my sewing room looks like, but I guess I do. Or perhaps it is just the holiday routine of sorting out my sewing room.

These first pictures should make you feel better about your sewing space. Isn't it just motivating?!

The other reason I like sorting my sewing room is that it is like finding all new projects. I find things that are just one seam or button away from being finished. I find things that I really need to pass on to someone else because they really aren't that enchanting anymore. I ask myself questions like, "will I really ever macrame in burnt orange polyester in my lifetime?" (The answer is NO.) I sort and dig and eventually can see the floor well enough to vacuum it again. I stack the projects up all over again and make a resolve to tackle them again.

However, as I have MATURED, I realize that I don't have to keep something because I think it is wasteful. I don't have to keep things because I would feel guilty if I discarded them. I have had the challenge of having to clean out houses for loved ones who really had no plan for their belongings. The pain of sorting through precious mementos for people is a real challenge as you ponder WHY they kept these things and you feel the weight of responsibility for safeguarding their decisions to keep things along with your own. As I look forward, I think about the things I want my sewing to say about who I am as a mother, a wife, sister, friend and as a person who really believes I should leave the world having taken my gifts and shared them as amply as possible.

This picture is a START of my sorting all the bindings into one place. I am sure I will use them now!

With all this in mind, I dig through my sewing room. I share my sewing room with the pool table and the air hockey table. I also share it with the other people who sew in our family. At holidays, it is nothing unusual for our daughters and me to be huddled in the sewing room sewing away at a project with a glass of wine. We talk about our sewing. There is teaching and learning. But best of all, we just pick up right where we left off the last time we got together to sew. To some extent I clean the sewing room for some semblance of order. But to a larger extent, I pull it together that the kids can sew with us.

Nowadays, Victor is brushing up on his sewing skills. He sewed three quilts as a young 4-H kid. Now, he has tackled machine quilting. He has yet to join us in the sewing room except on his tours through. It will be interesting if he comes to the point of putting his projects alongside ours and pulls up a chair!

Therese is teaching Monica about the beauty of Smart Piecing Techniques. It was a real AHA moment for Monica. Of course, this is one of Therese's favorite topics. Therese is well known around our house for being a puzzle piecer and loves Sudoko. Smart Piecing goes the natural direction of her mind.

Cleaning the sewing room motivated me to sort my office. So, guess what I found?! Yes....the yellow binding from the Just Ducky Quilt. I put it on last night and am now hand-stitching it down. As Brenda Lou said, you usually have to cut the new binding before you find the old one. It was really funny that Therese found one of HER bindings in her bin at our house. She was so exasperated about that one that she is talking about removing the substitute binding from the quilt and installing the original one. Now....that is a little fussy. However, I know that the Kaleidoscope quilt is one of her most favorite quilts and she has complained that the substitute binding marred the quilt. It IS her quilt.

All the Best to You, jill

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lost the Stupid Binding...Again!

Okay, lots of people THINK I am organized. I try really hard to stay organized without becoming enslaved to being organized. I am a visualizer. So, most of my organization is done in a way that I can visualize it rather than a rational thought organization. For example, I can remember where things were when I last saw them by the clutter they were sitting in. To that end, I try really hard to keep things together. When the kids would ask, "where are my shoes?", I would tell them they would be in your closet if that is where you put them last. It isn't that I don't drop my shoes off in the right place all the time but rather my own frustration with myself for all the time I wasted looking for my shoes when I left them off in the sewing room or by the door rather than in my closet. (By the my shoes might be at Therese's house since she likes to borrow them which really complicates my processing.)

So, last weekend at retreat, I FINISHED my Just Ducky quilt. I did the tiny and fun machine quilting that you see in my last post. The quilt is soft and snuggly and I love, love, love it. I couldn't wait to bind it and wash it gently to see what it looks like. I quilted it with silk thread and it is the softest, kindest quilt on the planet. So, I go to bind it. I REMEMBER the binding floating around my office for months. I even pinned it to the quilt for a long time so I wouldn't lose it. My visualization techniques are finally tuned in to the fact that I had cut the whole binding, wrapped it up with a scrap of yellow and kept it tied up and pinned to the quilt. NOW I CAN'T FIND IT. I have looked for more than ten days for it. Dug everywhere. Inquired of everyone!

Now, I know the only way I will find that binding is by cutting a new one. As soon as I cut a new binding, the other one will re-appear...further frustrating my aim to be organized!!

My next journey with sewing while on retreat was the most wonderful creative blast I have enjoyed in a long time. I sewed with my red silk fat quarter collection. Created for Sew Red, the red silk fat quarters range from orange to brown to red to pink and even some purple. It is yummy, yummy, yummy. I had a fabulous time creating Snapshots, a quilt from Happy Hour with Terry Atkinson. I loved the pattern so much, I snatched up a collection of my favorite Christmas prints from Benartex and made a quilt out of them in blues, purples and aquas. What a blast that pattern is. I think it is replacing Yellow Brick Road as my new all time favorite.

Like a true sewing diva, I even loved the scraps. Silk scraps, I am seeing a jacket out of this or wondering if I could wool punch this into a garment. Aren't they just the yummiest thing you have ever seen. This is better than candy!

Being a person who normally gravitates towards blues and purples, aquas and teals, this fascination with Sew Red has grabbed my attention. I think a big part of it is that Sew Red has really grabbed my attention. Having a family history of heart issues, I have always been concerned about my heart health. The Sew Red venture is to bring awareness to women to tend to their heart health. Pick up a Sew Red Silk kit at our store or online. I CHALLENGE you to create with the kit. In 2009, we are looking for your expression with the Sew Red Silks.

All the Best to You, jill
p.s......if you see a buttery yellow binding for a baby quilt somewhere around, snatch it up and use it. Make sure you DON'T return it to me. Finding it will only frustrate me further, especially when I find it some place incredibly OBVIOUS!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Secrets of Machine Quilting

A friend pointed out that I had been "away" from my blog for a while. This is a good reminder that I not only need to blog, but I also need to get back to sewing. I got back into my groove sewing by pulling up a quilt that I have basted and ready to go. I love to BSR (yep, it can be a verb) with silk thread. I am working on a two color quilt. I am using the white area for all of the quilting with white silk thread and not hitting the yellow pieced triangles. I love the stitches with silk and the control I can get to create nice swoops.

The two things that make my machine quilting better ARE a stitch regulator and 100 weight silk thread. I promise. My quilting hasn't always been this much fun. I came to quilting as a hand-quilter but never finished many quilts. I wanted to machine quilt but knew little about it in 1999. I had done some stitch in the ditch with a walking foot but never free-motion quilting. The first time I free-motion quilted, I went right to a quilt. It was a small quilt, and I had never quilted by machine before. I basted the quilt with safety pins (still my favorite method for basting), dropped the feed dogs and went stitching. When I got done, it wasn't great but it wasn't awful. I think the reason I did well with it was that I was willing to wreck a quilt. Yes, you read that right. Committing to just dashing in on a quilt will be the best thing you can do to advance your quilting skills.