Thursday, June 05, 2014

School's Out……For Summer!

  Though we have no human children the summer is always a time for our household to rejoice. It is off time for us and a time to be able to work on other projects on the back burner during busy season. My head is so filled with the projects I want to get done that I don't even know where to start. So I procrastinate…   I have several projects started but nothing seems to get me motivated enough to dive in wholly. I think the big reason is that we have had some family losses as of late. A huge part of our lives my little Hayley girl left us a couple of weeks ago. She was my companion, my baby, my best buddy. It was sudden and unexpected and heart wrenching. I thought I would share the rest of my life with her… you can imagine the loss our little family is going through. I know some don't understand that type of attachment to animals, but it is just a part of my family's genetic makeup. Pets=family. They always have. When you treat them as family it is amazing what kind of personalities you see emerge from these little gifts. Some have asked me if I will get another. I can't even fathom it right now. So I will throw myself into projects as soon as I can see my way to do that. And maybe organize my studio. Perhaps that should be the first thing I do.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Juki Review and a Customer Quilt

  So last time I blogged I wrote that I was fortunate enough to have a baby Juki 2010 TL sewing machine follow me home from the quilt show. :0) I have now had ample time to play with it and give a little review. 
   First of all, I bought this machine specifically for piecing, so that is the only sewing I have done on it so far. I have been playing with the speed since this machine is fast. And I mean FAST! See? Tortoise and the hare? I keep it pretty much on the hare, but the foot pedal is extremely sensitive so I can actually sew one stitch at a time if I need to even on full blast. 

Another great feature of the foot pedal is the auto cut. A rock back with the heel and the threads will be auto cut. Not only that, you can keep sewing and get no bird's nest whatsoever. That is amazing. My other machine will auto cut but then you need to pull threads again and anchor them or you can have a major problem. 
 There is also a button for the auto cut but I tend not to use that as the pedal is so handy. A word of caution, if you rest your heel on the pedal you can accidentally cut the threads and it WILL scare the crap out of you. 
 The feet are metal and very well built. There is no rocking with these feet. My Janome feet are famous for rocking a little. There is play in them, but not with the Juki feet. They are heavy, sturdy and well made. 
 One of the reviews I read, and I am sorry, I cannot remember who it was, but if I find it I will credit them, talked about the feed dogs. One of the amazing things about this machine is where the feed dogs actually hit the foot. If you are quilting with a 1/4 inch seam, and most of us do, both sides of the feed dog will be in that allowance. This makes for a very straight feed. Notice my Janome on the bottom and where the feed dog is in relation to my tape for the seam. It will actually not touch the right side and this makes the fabric swing out a little and is very annoying. The Juki is perfectly placed for piecing.

 All in all, I don't think there is anything I don't like about this machine. It hums along and I love the sound of it. It does need a lot of oiling, but even that is not a bother. I just do it at the start of sewing and we are off to the races. 
I know there are many people quilting on this machine and I will try it at some point, but truly I am a longarmer at heart and don't need the smaller machine for quilting unless it is something so small I don't wish to load it…maybe a sham..or something. Anyhow, if you are in the market, please go try one out. I couldn't believe what a dream machine this one is. It is the machine I have been trying to find all along……..

Now for a little show and tell. This is Deborah's Pepper Dish that I finished over Easter weekend for her. It was pure joy to quilt it as she gave me free rein and just a deadline. It was a little rough since I had several music playing jobs around the holiday so I was crazy busy. There was more than one morning where I was up at 5am and quilting until 8am when I had to leave. But it is a serene time when I have the house to myself and can just quilt and think. I do love it…but I am NOT a morning person by choice. This is for certain. ha!!!

 Everything on this quilt is SID. Everything. That is probably what took the most time besides the microfill. The cobalt is also feathered but I could not get a good shot of it. Her colors are superb! 

I also entered one more quilt show with Orange You Glad. It was the East Texas Quilter's Guild Show in Tyler. I have strong ties to this city so I was just thrilled that it placed first in it's division. I think it will retire to my wall soon and I can keep it home where it is safe from the travel perils of the road. ;0) 
Happy Quilting and have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tons of Great News!!!!!

 The Dallas Quilt Celebration was this weekend. It is a huge show and always has inspiring and unbelievable entries from all over the country. It is held in Market Hall in Dllas with plenty of space for LOTS of vendors……which means lots of SHOPPING!! hahaha Which I did. In abundance. 

    I entered my Glacier Star called Orange You Glad? and found out Friday I won first place in the Wall Quilt Artisan division. YAY!!!!!! I am so thrilled!!! Thursday night I dreamed it came in in 16th place. hahaha I thought to myself in the dream "Why would they even TELL me that? Oh NOOOOO!" I had resigned myself to the fact that it had not placed. Imagine my surprise the next day. :0) 

    There were so many gorgeous quilts. It took me more than three hours just to go through the quilts and study them. These are just a few of my favorites as I ran out of room on my phone!!!! AAARRRGGHGHHG! I must remember to make more space next time. 

These two are Karen Stone's. Her sense of color has drawn me to her work since the first time I set eyes on it. The red is just stunning. 

 Look at the handwork on this beauty!!! Enchanted Garden by Cathleen Miller. 

Deja Blu by Theresa French. 

 And my quilting mentor!! This is so beautiful in person and her quilting makes it. It is called  Love, Lynda and quilted by Connie Keller. 

While I was at the show I was able to try out the Juki TL2010 that I have been lusting over for some time. I have looked at lots of reviews and was dying to see if it lived up to them for the piecing aspects. Oh boy!!! I have only had a couple of hours with it so far…but I am IN LOVE!!! I will do a review in the next couple of days when I have had a bit more time on it. :0) 

I have a finish that I have been meaning to post. It is the Honeysweet Pinwheels I was working on. I love the way this one turned out. 

And last but not least, I was asked by Connie Keller and will now be teaching Beginning Custom Quilting up at Quilt Country in Lewisville, Texas several times from now into the summer. I am so excited to share my love of quilting with others. It should prove to be a very fun and informative class on how to start learning custom quilting and how to find your own personal voice in quilting. I cannot wait!!! The first class in March 29 and is already full.!!! 

  Have a beautiful day!! This is our spring break and I intend to spend every spare moment sewing and quilting my little heart out. I hope you can, too! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marital Discord and the Perfect Block

   Red and I have been having some problems lately. Enough so that I threatened divorce yesterday. I had had it. I was almost out of options and truth be known I have had my eye on another machine. Another handsome Japanese native. So I decided to give it another try. We had a long heart to heart and he promised to do better and to work with me if I would just spend a little more time with him. I have neglected him lately. Red:
He's right… here is what happened………..

   I have been working on this from the Moda Bake Shop. Isn't it adorable? It is the Honeysweet Pinwheel quilt by Pauline Francis. Everything was running along smoothly until I finished sewing the half square blocks-which took a while since there are quite a few.

Once I started sewing them together to make blocks our trouble began. things just weren't lining up…my 1/4" was off…he wouldn't sew over bulky seams...….and the more I tried the worse it got. My block was not coming out to the size that it needed to be.

   So I sat down and tried to determine what was happening to make these things go wrong. My first suspect was the foot. I had been using a see through generic 1/4" foot. It had been working well previously but I hadn't had these bulky seams to contend with. It was pushing the top layer around and nothing lined up. So I switched to a foot that has a little bit more of a curve at the toe so it will go over the seams better. I switched to an O2 foot that has the guide snapped off. I hate that thing.
Check. ...That helped a bit with the bulk, but I am not sure I am 100% satisfied with that. I am repressing my seams open as an experiment. That is what the designer suggested. Since I will not stitch in the ditch on this quilt it is an option…but honestly I am not a big fan of open seams-probably because I have never done it. Ha!. They don't feel very secure to me…but I think it is because I do much heavy quilting…I would probably not do the kind of heavy quilting I prefer on open seams. I know they would gape. At least for me, I know this to be true. I could shorten stitch length and I think that would remedy a lot of that, however. So….. I just may rethink my seam preferences on certain quilts. I think there is a place for both depending on what the quilting will be.
  Now to my crummy 1/4".  I got out the tape and did some testing. After a few tries the sample of two pieces of fabric at 1 1/4 each measured perfectly to a two inch sewn together piece so I put a larger line of tape down to guide me. I can't believe I haven't done this before. I get lazy with the side of the foot as a guide and this helps immeasurably-especially with longer pieces.

   Then I tried a different method of pinning also. I pinned a guide pin through the seam (remember it is pressed open) then added two pins on either side to hold the seam in place as I remove the guide pin.

                                       It indeed takes a little longer, but the result is worth it. I think Red and I will stay together a little longer...

Here are a couple of pictures of a baby quilt I recently quilted for a friend. She said they literally made this top in an hour and wanted it to look like snow blowing around the tree. 

Have a happy day today!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

And back to reality……..

 Well, the holiday break ends for me after today. It's back to the lesson teaching schedule tomorrow. That went super fast. And my to do list?……..hahahah It's still a mile long, although I did get to scratch some things off of the list. I always seem to think I will have more time than I do. As if my entire time would be spent alone in my sewing studio. Pipe dreams. We did have a beautiful break, however. Once my last playing job was done Christmas Eve we spent some time lounging around in our pjs for some time. (a few days) ha! I adore those days when it is off time and it is cold outside and we can shower and put the jammies back on. Yep. That's me. Thank God the dh doesn't have a problem with that. ;0)

  I was able to get some sewing done in between family visits and visiting friends. I finished the other baby quilt I was working on. My quilt machine resides in our garage. We did enclose it, but it isn't exactly living space. It is clean enough to quilt a white quilt but it is indeed not spacious. There are other garagey items still in it as well as my space that we carved out. My dream is to have a large studio in the house at some point…but that will most likely require moving. I have a heater but this is what it looks like on a cold day.

   I have no idea what that spill on it is. Probably coffee……looks like it just got added to my immediate to do list. Blech. What IS that? So you can see I have to REALLY want to quilt to be out there. And I DO!  I do!!  :0)   Anyway, here is the quilt in progress and then finished before binding…..I don't think I got a picture of it with the binding on before it went to be given to the new baby. Darn it! 

   My swoon top is also nearing completion. I love this fabric so very much. I had no idea I had such a love of romantic fabrics deep inside me. I usually go for the brighter batiks and prints. Who knew? Now I can't get enough. I have been looking through florals like a fiend now. And Civil War prints. What the heck?

   I will be adding some of the pinwheels as corner stones in the sashing most likely or even as sashings maybe. I am not sure. Then around the quilt as I find I like. We will see what it finally ends up as I go. You can see the back of my poor Bali Wedding Star above it. I really need to put that on the machine and get it quilted. It is earmarked for our bed……but it may be next season before it gets there. heh And the baby quilt is peeking out underneath……I need several design walls……..or maybe just some focus. Yeah, that's it. Focus. 
  How about you? Do you normally have multiple projects going at any given time? I'd love to hear from anyone out there. :0) I hope you are all off to a creative and happy healthy New Year!!!!

Monday, December 09, 2013

And here comes old man Winter!

  My Christmas season officially started this weekend with the opening of The Nutcracker in another city. It was a wonderful show with a couple of the key roles being danced by dancers from the New York City Ballet. Unfortunately in the orchestra pit we don't really get to see much. I can vouch for the snow looking really great though! hahahah The show received great reviews and I know it was a huge success. It always feels like Christmas is finally here once I get to play Nutcracker and Messiah.

  Most of the musicians got stuck for an extra night because of the Icepocalypse in north Texas. My home was completely iced in but they had power. Thank God, as so many in Dallas and Ft Worth did not. There were inches of solid ice on some bridges and roads. Some unlucky travelers were stranded for hours and hours. I was dying to get home and do some quilting but it was not to be until Sunday afternoon. I did take my trusty featherweight with me just in case. hahah I am never caught away from home without projects. I spent most of my time working on Evening Blooms block 2 just doing appliqué . This is such a fun quilt to work on. I am actually planning on working on two at once in different fabric choices.

  I was able to get to one quilt store on Friday while I was in Tyler. It is called the Nimble Thimble. It is a Bernina dealer and a great and friendly shop. I found some amazing fabrics I had been looking for. They have a huge selection of Civil War reproductions and many many other terrific fabrics. I had a hard time not spending a huge amount of money in there. Ha! Good book selection, too. They also carry supplies and books for rug hooking. I will be visiting there on many more trips back to Tyler.

 I am also working on Swoon. Once I saw Kay Bell's version of it I was hooked. Her version is done in Luna Notte and just looks so sophisticated. Of course her quilting skills turn a beautiful top into a stunning quilt. I had planned to do mine in Luna Notte and Paris Flea Market. I don't like the greens of the Paris with the Luna, so it will probably be all Luna Notte or with just a little bit of French General thrown in. We will see. I have 7 blocks done and will finish up the other two soon. Unless we are done with our snow days. ;0)  Which I am afraid after tomorrow we are.

  Meanwhile, I was able to get a bit more quilting done on one of my quilts. Here is a little sneak peek.
  This is all pieced but the quilting and the extra batting
makes the stars look appliquéd. I just love the way it is turning out. I had to spend a fair amount of time taking an aspect of the quilting out I didn't like, but I am ok with that. I don't like to just leave something because of the amount of work it would take to remove it. I would rather just do it. I am always happy I did it in the end.

  Have a great week!!!