Monday, December 31, 2012

Ringing In the New Year Mystery Project Part 1

Ringing In The New Year!

Isn’t it exciting to begin the year by creating a fun mystery project? Welcome 2013!!!

If you have done any mysteries before, you pretty much know what’s coming. I will give instructions (or clues) and you have time to complete them until the next instruction is given. The clues will be open to your ways of quilting/sewing and choices of color. This is a modest project (top is about 42" x 54") and I will try to make each clue as clear as I can. This is my first created mystery so ask questions if you need to! We will be completing our mystery in mid-February.

The level will be experienced-beginner to intermediate sewing skills. If you have not sewn a seam in your life or have not learned basic quilting skills, please find someone who can help you or print the instructions and return to them when you have the ability to do them. I have a list of supplies I recommend having on hand in order for you to complete the project with most success.

With THAT being said, let’s get our stuff together!
  1. Sewing machine. Yeah, I know I didn’t need to say that. Please take the time to know where your ¼” marking is and how to line up your seams. This is important in keeping your project to line up well when matching pieces. For suggestions on getting consistent ¼” seams, check out my post about it. Clean out the fuzz from the inside of the bobbin area, give it a dose of oil (see my post about maintenance) and fill up some bobbins! If you have an extender table, grab that and set it in place. I like using one almost all the time. For vintage machine owners, please check out the Featherweight Skill Series for tutorials on the basics of sewing.
  1. Cutting tools: scissors, rotary cutter, cutting mat. Use sharp cutting tools! Get a new blade for your rotary cutter. Have large and small scissors handy. Your mat is a useful tool. Having the mat be 18” x 24” or larger works well for piecing. If you need a new one, get your hands on a 40 or 50% coupon and pick one up in the sewing department!
  1. The Easy Angle Ruler and a long cutting ruler/guide. The cutting guide should be as wide as your cutting mat, or at least 18”, so your cuts can zip along without interruption. Stopping in a cut and repositioning the ruler or folding the fabric so it will fit under the ruler results in wavy edges. Use that 40% off coupon if you need a better guide! As far as specialty rulers, they are beginning to grow on me. This mystery calls for only one special ruler – the Easy Angle. I just learned about it a few months ago and highly recommend picking one up. Mine was $8.99 with 40% off so I got if for less than $6. Well worth the price! If you don't have one, I'll give instructions for how to cut without it as well.
  1. Fabric! Our mystery calls for 3 fabrics.

    Think of your favorite color and choose fabric in that tone. We’ll call this the base color. A dark or medium shade would look nice. You can use a solid or a print but choose one or the other. If you want a print, have it contain most of the color you want so when you look at it you will think it is that color. If you want you can use all the same fabric or mix and match with your scraps, either will work. Just keep the scraps in that base color. How? If you set all the pieces next to each other on a table, all the shades of the color should all look like they belong together. If one is sticking out like a sore thumb, don’t use that one. 1-3/4 yards of that color will be plenty for the project and will give you some “wiggle room” as well.
    Now choose a second neutral toned, light color that will go with your base color. We’ll call this the neutral color. White or cream will look great, but any fabric that is very pale in color will work as well. Just set it on the table next to your base color and see if you like the way it looks. This can be done with one fabric or scrappy, just keep all of the light colors very light. Gather together 1-3/4 yards of the neutral.
    Lastly, pick out a really dark color. Choose something that is darker than your base color or a very dark complimentary color to your base color. You could pick out a fabric with both of your base and neutral colors in it. That would look great too! I would recommend keeping this all in one fabric; get 1-5/8 yards of it.
  1. Misc stuff. Pins, iron, thread, spare sewing machine needle, etc…. Yes, I’m being thorough again. Need I say more on this? No, I didn’t think so.
Try to not reason things out too much with a mystery. It’s going to be a fun project! Now, go get all your goodies together and I will give out the next clue on January 10, 2013. May the mystery begin!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

FMQ Panel

******* My "Ringing In the New Year" mystery starts tomorrow! *******

Looking for resources online to further quilting skills is time well spent. My top 3 favorite sites to check in on regularly are Leah Day's site, Sew Cal Gal's site, and Bonnie Hunter's site. Over the last year, these blogs have given me the knowledge and, for lack of a better word, the GUTS to expand on the basics and go into unfamiliar territory with my sewing machine. It's been worth working past the learning curve!

I figured it was about time to make something full of free motion quilting! Checking out Sew Cal Gal's site the other day, I read the December FMQ Challenge presented by the amazing Patsy Thomspson, watched her video, picked up the flexible ruler she recommended, and began the project. Check it out!

Basically, Patsy said to take a wholecloth, or a simple quilt square full of various sized borders, and start to fill them in with different FMQ patterns. This makes for an interesting panel when it is completed. This was my center square of a little impromptu loop-de-loo and the first border that Patsy called "worms" with  teardrop corners.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

FMQ Practice - Circles and Pebbles

First attempt at adding pebbles in a channel. Not show worthy but not too bad either!

the bobbin side. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

FMQ Practice - Filler Flower

These can be any size, even gigantic!

the bobbin side

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 FMQ Project Progression

The start of 2012 meant the start of really trying to get FMQ'ing into my sewing skills. After watching LOTS of video tutes from Leah Day, I finally got my nerve up and began to do it.

Here is an early practice fabric sandwich that shows I could certainly make my way around with the stitches...

but the back was a mess! I really thought my machine was broken at one point. My mother disagreed with me and said to keep practicing and working it out.

Time for Maintenance

You know the horror you have when you actually cannot remember the last time you cleaned the lint out from under your fridge? You pull off the vent cover and cannot even see the coils under the layers of dusty build up. Gross. Then you clean it all out and, maybe it's your imagination but the fridge just seems to sound better and run colder.

The same goes for our trusty sewing machines. I have been told that it is really hard to break your singer, or in my case, brother, but if you don't do some maintenance from time to time, your sidekick will start to suffer because of the neglect of its simple needs. I'll walk you through how I cleaned and oiled my machine tonight. I'd recommend you dig out your machine's manual for cleaning and oiling instructions and get in prepped for the upcoming mystery!

If you need more help, here's what I would suggest. You have to take the shield off of the base to expose the bobbin area. This is the spot where most of the offending lint is left behind. My machine has the bobbin accessible from the top. There were two screws holding the metal plate in place. I removed the two screws and released the two plates to open it up as much as it would let me. If you machine has the bobbin underneath the top throat plate, remove as much of the encasement as you can.

Sights of Chistmas

Shots from my holiday (in between the visits and present opening!)

A gorgeous sunrise

A nice dusting of snow

Delicious Berry Bread

Fun things to eat

The desire for peace on earth, from the Prince of Peace.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Adding Length To Batting

While working on the Holly & Berry placemats, the batting didn't come out to the corner on one side. Sometimes you will need more than one piece of batting for a project. This is an easy fix!

Cut a piece of batting that will be large enough to fill in the area that is without batting.

Butt the pieces up next to each other. Take a needle and thread and loosely sew the pieces but do not let them overlap.

Trim off the excess and continue with your project!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Countdown - Crush #2 with Shams


That was my biggest concern for getting done in time. And I'm a day early! I gave myself until the 19th to complete it; I hand it over on the 20th. I can't WAIT to give pass it on!

Serendipity Silk Scarf - In Action

The silk scarf is DONE and DELIVERED! She likes it!

Another project off the list. I'm almost done with my list to be done by the 21st.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Quick Peek - Silks

This is a fun project! Working with silk can be challenging and frustrating. It's slippery and snags easily. But Sergio Fabrico (cue trumpet fanfare here) has intervened to make the sewing smooth and straight!

Oh, what fun! I can't wait to finish it!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Countdown - Project 2 of 5

People laugh when I say stuff like, "I have 5 projects to finish and I have 11 days. Oh, I have plenty of time!" Well, this project was a quickie. I knew it was going to get done fast and I am very pleased with the outcome.

If you remember, I made a Holly and Berry Runner for someone and gave it to her last Wednesday. That runner was so beautiful, I thought it would be amazing to do a couple of placemats to match it and make it a very festive set. The lady who wanted the runner is a friend so I plan to give these to her as her Christmas present this year. I think it will be a great gift and a big surprise!

There was no pattern for this placemat. I had the initial leaf block sitting there and a little bit of green material left, and plenty of the red. So after thinking about it for a while, I came up with the green stripe on the side where you'd put your silverware and the leaf for the plate. It was FMQ'd like the runner. The borders are bigger, in order to make it large enough to fit a place setting.

I can foresee making this in other colors for other seasons. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What a Sham!

 Crush #2 needs shams to go with it. I wasn't sure how I was going to make them and had to think about that for a while. Here is what the center of the shams look like. It has the Crush feel but kind of makes a statement of its own.
 Obviously, they weren't big enough. I knew I wanted to surround the fancy center with solid sashings. There is green sashing on the left and right sides, then brown sashing around all sides, and then a larger black sashing around all sides. Yes, I like that idea!
The trickiest part of doing sashing is to get those stripes to line up evenly. The longer the sashing and the more skinny stripes you put next to each other, the more chance they have of becoming wobbly or going from attractive parallel stripes to some weird mathematical shape that has a greek name.
The way I get them straight is to rely heavily on my lined cutting mat. Using it to square things up and to assist in placing the next row of sashing will make it happen. No matter how perfectly you cut and stitch, your squares will not be perfectly square! Fabric moves and slips and shifts. Sometimes you have to take charge and make it do what you want!
Put your fingers on the ends of a strip and line up both sides along a line on your mat. When you put your next strip down, you can place it on the correct marking all the way across your piece.
This black strip below is lined up on the 1-1/2" mark. That is where it was pinned down all the way across the brown sashing. It didn't matter if the brown edge matched the entire way since the brown sash edges didn't line up on that line. Because the inner edge of the brown was lined up correctly, the outer edge will line up correctly.
Sew and then press those seams open to reveal the beautifully even sashing. (sorry for the blur)
Keep adding as many strips as you want. This method works for any length you sew on. When it's all done, you have something that looks really nice! These Crush shams will be backed with a blue fabric with the opening down the center. Insert pillows and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Countdown - Runner made better

The first project is really completed! The free motion quilting took one hour to add but it is the icing on the cake! I think this runner is a winner!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Crush #2 - block placement

Here we go! This is the exciting part. Taking the pieces that look like this...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Countdown 1 of 5

Very happy with the look of this runner!


The Scottish symbol, the thistle. It was the flower planted around places to be protected. A flower with beauty and with bite. I love them! Here's the picture on the mug I use every morning.
And here's the square on the quilt I use every night.
What is your favorite flower? What draws you to it?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thoughts on set in triangles

 Set in triangles - eeeek! gasp! choke!!!

Working "on point" is an interesting undertaking. You suddenly have the ability to make your projects bigger faster, which I absolutely LOVE, but you also have to deal with cutting those 1/2 and 1/4 square "set in triangles" along the edges of your work. Unless your project is to have pointy edges, in which case, my project has pointy ends so no 1/4 square triangles are needed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Adding A Stem My Way

You can add a stem onto the base of a leaf or flower without cutting the base fabric. 

Here's a block from a project that I'm working on. I put on the stem without cutting the white square. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Crush Update

Tremendous progress has been made on Crush #2.

All of the blocks and edge pieces are done! Now all I have to do is sew the top together and back it. There is light at the end of the tunnel! And there are even some dark chocolate peanut M&Ms left!

It was a good night at Thistle Fire.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sewing to Give

I know some of the most wonderful, caring ladies at Second Saturday Quilting Club! And we are on a mission...
After Hurricane Sandy swept through the east coast, there countless people who came out of the other end of the storm to find that they lost everything. Flood waters and winds gave no preference to what home would stand and what one wouldn't. Can you imagine life as usual in the morning and then having to face the reality of having little or nothing by that evening? Neither could we, therefore we want to help. We can sew! Not for our loved ones or ourselves. Now, we sew so we can give.

I dub you, ThistleFire

A new month! December can be a magical time or frantic time or a sad time. The holiday season is HERE and my sewing room is going to make the best of it!
How fitting it was to open the door this morning and see this scene. Pretty and clean. Makes you want to buy presents and decorate things with shiny colors, doesn't it?