Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Friday, September 21, 2012

Celebrating 100th Follower and Catching Up!

Hiya!  Wow, I finally got to 100 followers.  Thanks to Ruth, my latest!  Seems like I should do something special.

When last we talked, I said I was doing a lot of stuff and not sharing.  So, here's the updates -

The cathedral windows table runner is done.  For the binding, I used all my leftover window squares, sewed them all together in a long strip.  I also cut a plain piece of white cotton folded in half and attached it, along with the binding.  The white strip became a flange on top and the binding, of course, goes all the way 'round to the back.  The back is just one large scrap piece of the 1930's reprints. 

Here's a closer view of the corner, flange and binding.  I'm super happy with the way it turned out.  This is also the longest I've ever let a project go between starting a finishing - I swear, I've been working on this for more than 15 years.  Usually I will decide that I'm never going to finish something, or have lost interest in it, so I'll toss it and all it's parts into the Goodwill bag and let it be someone else's treasure (problem?)  But, this one I hung onto.  I'm glad I did.

Next up - the needlepoint blue jay.  The canvas was designed by Labors of Love.  I picked out the fibers to use.   The canvas came with the feathers and the springy feet.  So, last weekend I sat down to finish it.  And boy, when I got done at the sewing machine and turning it right side out, I thought "oh, crap!  I've ruined it".  So I spent 12 hours thinking about it and decided that as hard as it is, I was going to have to hand stitch the seam in places and then cover it up with cording.  I made the cording out of gold DMC Light Effects (a metallic) and then VERY carefully hot glued it on.  No burnt fingers this time.  Then I stuffed those feathers into the hole I'd left at the end and hot glued in the springy feet.  VIOLA!

As you can see, he will be beautiful on a Christmas tree!

Next up, my experimental stitching.  Last year, Prairie Schooler came out with Ukrainian Easter eggs and a Christmas design on black fabric.  Many of you know how tough stitching on black fabric is.  Yeah, I know, we can use a light box.  But, those can get awful warm on your lap.  Remember I just finished up the American Sampler?  And on the sides and top I had to do the Alternating Half Cross Stitch to "recolor" the background fabric to the dark green?  Well, as I sat there stitching all those infernal half crosses, I was wondering, will this work for the problem of black fabric?

I took a piece of red linen I had.  I chose red because when they do gilding, often they will paint the object to be gilded red before they apply the gold gilt.  Somehow it makes it look richer.  The fabric was 28 count.  I cannot say that I am 100% happy with how things turned out, but I really think I'm onto something here.  Maybe I just need to use a smaller count, like 32.  Anyway, here's one of the PS Easter eggs that was featured several years ago in Gift of Stitching Magazine.

Top pic shows the work in progress; bottom shows the finished stitching.  Now to make it into an ornament.  So, whadaya think?  Beats stitching on black fabric.

A few months back I showed you a pre-printed schoolhouse stitchery I'd picked up at an antique mall.  I got a start on it with my variagated threads:

Also, a few months ago I picked up pre-printed embroidery quilt squares.  I got a start on them too, but have since exhaused my supply of those colors of floss; will pick up more next week; this is destined for my guest bedroom.

Also got a start of Little House Needleworks Liberty Belles.  However, I am changing the color pallete.  Doing it on 32 count scrap linen.

I probably showed this to you a year or so ago.  It's a table runner I made.  I designed the foundation leaf and used scraps to make it up.  I originally wanted to do a whole quilt that looked like this, but after doing a few blocks - and there are some set-in seams - I decided that there was no way.  So I made the table runner out of the "few blocks".  I like to do that now, find blocks that I sort of want to experiment with - just to say I did - and then make up a table runner.  I guess that's what the whole bed-runner craze now is all about.  Although I think a bed runner is pretty useless.  I mean, why make your bed, you're just going to sleep in it again.  JUST KIDDING!!!  But I still don't see the point in a bed runner.

So, anyway, for you intrepid experimental quilters, here's the foundation pattern.  This is my present to you for my achievement of 100 followers!  Thanks again to all who follow.

Finally, I am working on charting out my granddaughter's Christmas stocking.  Sadly, no pictures yet.  Hope you enjoyed!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This One's For You - Deb! Or - How to Make an Easy Cathedral Window Quilt

Back in June (sheesh, I cannot believe it's been so long!) I was whining about my quilt blocks not coming out right.  Deb Roman at Threadgatherer wrote me an encouraging email and gave me a terrific tip - GO BIG!  I did and it worked out incredibly well (see posts on the Path to the Civil War Quilt).  In the course of our email conversations I mentioned an easy way to do Cathedral Windows and I tried to explain it in words.  I was a dismal failure.  Pictures really are necessary.  So, I have finally gotten around to getting some pictures.  They're not the greatest, because it turns out I'm not so good at one-handed photography, but I think you'll get the picture (ha ha ha!)

The directions were originally published in an Austrailian Quilting magazine back in the '90's.  Yes, that's how long the project I will mention later, has been in the works.  Shameful, I know.  I just want you to understand, this isn't my original idea.

What you do is cut a bunch of 2.5 inch squares.  In my "finished" piece, my squares were 2.5 inches, but you can use whatever size you like.

Take two of the squares, fold them in half diagonally and press.  Take a 3rd square. 

Place the folded squares on top of the 3rd square so that the folds bisect the 3rd square diagonally.  I think that the original instructions said to tack the corners of the folded squares, but I wasn't patient enough for that, so I am pretty sure I pinned them.  

 What you want to be sure to do is get those folded corners and the corners of the square caught up when you sew a quarter inch seam.

See below how all the corners are there in the same place? 

Then you sew that seam and when you open it up it looks a lot like fabric oragami - or you think you've done something wrong.  But you haven't.  You have to make a bunch of these sets.  The you sew them all together to make the base that you are going to set the windows into.

Because I only had so many scrap squares, we're going to pretend now that I've built the whole base.  But YOUR base will be the finished size - plus seam allowances - of your project.  After the base is done, you have completed all your machine sewing.

You set in your window - usually a contrasting fabric or color, cut to the same size (2.5 inches in this example) as your base squares.  See how it's on point, so that the sides of the window match the direction of those folded edges?

Now remember, these are the steps that you're doing after you've finished making your base.   With your finger in the middle of one folded edge, peel it in toward the window so it arcs.  At this point I use applique pins to hold the "peel" in place.  Then, you hand stitch, using a blind stitch, and secure that peel in the place you want it.  Stitch from one peel to the next and remove your pins as you go so you don't stick yourself. 

 If you're confused, see how there's a little pocket under that folded edge?  What you're doing is securing, either by machine or hand sewing, all the raw edges.

For my piece, I ended up making a base that's about 2 and a half feet long by a foot wide.  You can see the "finished" piece at the right and above, a closer view where you can also see the back of it.
The edges are done by using whole windows and then you just trim away the excess.  Corners, same thing - as you can see in these pictures.

Finally, here is a closeup of the windows.  I just love the curves that the all the peels give it as a secondary design.  This piece will become a table runner tomorrow; my sewing time has been cut short this week.

Labor Day weekend we had the shed broken into.  Well, the other night they came back and tried to pull off the siding to go into the side of the shed.  Can you believe that?  They want that rototiller bad!  So, we had the alarm company out yesterday and we've devised a new way to protect it.  But, sadly, there was no stitching time involved because I had to make decisions and shepherd the alarm guy back and forth.  Sigh.  Today I had to catch up to yesterdays chores and that left very little time for sewing.

However, I have been working on some projects that I (gasp!) haven't been sharing much about.

First, I got the September/October issue of Fons & Porter and it had the directions for the quilt I fell in love with when I watched the Quilts of Valor program on PBS.  So, I took my punch card to my quilt shop (Wilson's in Hagerstown) and got some fabric.  I LOVE it!!!

 On the red fabric, those a little cream and blue leaves, but they make me think of stars. 

I collect flag or red, white and blue jewelry and wear it to my DAR activities.  But, I also think it's pretty to look at.  My guest bedroom is Americana themed so it's in there - along with my work space.  So I made a shadow box I can stick them into so I can enjoy looking at them, but also get them when I want to wear them.  A quick sweep with a paintbrush keeps the dust at bay.

I finished the stitching for the Blue Jay ornament.  Now I just have to put it together.  I actually feel like I'm accomplishing something.  Last weekend I cleaned up and rearranged my work area.  I have also been doing some stitching experiments I want to share with you in the next week.  Right now, I've got to go cook supper!  Hope you enjoyed!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Last Visit to Opus Magnusson

I forgot to do the string count - or the number of floss cards used, I guess I should say.

First of all, I changed a lot of the colors.  The original design called for these overdye colors as an option tot he DMC:

Cidermill Brown
Buckeye Scarlet
Straw Bonnet
Presidential Blue
Morning Glory
Tutti Fruitti

I hated that Cidermill Brown in this use.  It was called for in the tigers and you'll recall that I ended up overdying those orange myself cause they just drove me nuts.  Whoever heard of brown tigers!?  A great color match is Pumpkin Patch which I ended up using in different places throughout, but I'd used that Cidermill Brown too; so, I'm calculating that as if I'd used it from the beginning.

I also added some colors - for color!  I added Tiger Lily and Butternut Squash.  Finally, if I were doing this all over again, instead of using Raven, I'd use just regular old DMC 310 (black).  That's because Raven has apparently changed a little bit in its makeup.  Now it's green AND black and that just doesn't really suit this design.  It's also cheaper to use the DMC.

So, final count:

Raven:  30 5-yard skeins
Butternut Squash: 2 5-yard skeins
Pumpkin Patch 6 5-yard skeins
Tiger Lily 10 5-yard skeins
Buckyeye Scarlet 3 5-yard skeins
Strawbonnet 3 5-yard skeins
Presidential Blue - 4 5-yard skeins
Morning Glory 4 5-yard skeins
Tutti Fruitti  4 5-yard skeins.

Hope you enjoyed!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Experimental Quilting - - - and other tales

So I went up to my aerie Saturday  to fool around with fabric.  I had started the morning, early at 6 a.m., as I usually do; with a cup of coffee and the Fons and Porter show on PBS.  This particular show was tips and tricks for long arm machine quilting.  Generally I find these shows that they do really, really boring as I am not - nor ever will be - a long arm machine quilter.  I delete the show and move on to something else.  This time, however, I decided to let it run while I drank my coffee and stitched.  Who knew, I might see something interesting.  No sooner did I have that thought when the show opened with the camera on the long arm quilter lady and all I could see was the quilt on the wall behind her.  It was patches of multicolored fabrics surrounded by white.  Just looking at it I knew it had to be dead easy, I just had to figure out the block configuration.  I sat there with the show on pause and did sketch after sketch - about four of them, before I got it figured out.  First thing I did in my sewing room was try it out.

 I worked it out that the white strips are 2.5 inches wide and the center strip is 4.5 inches wide.  They get cut at 8.5 inches long so that they end up making 8 inch blocks.  Then you just alternate how they are turned.  The overall effect is something like the photo mock up below, they just had all sorts of various colored (printed?) fabrics as the center pieces.  It was SO pretty!  I've already got about five different batches of fabric set up so I can start whipping this quilt out!

So, after that worked out so well, I started on the next thing which was based off the Quilts of Valor show that I recently watched on PBS.  I've known about the program for several years and tried to get involved before, but have no quilt shop that is participating.  I am now going to get into that and figure it out, because now I really want to get involved.  I particularly loved Mark Lipinski's quilt in the show which was a drunkards path/ohio star combo that made like a flag quilt.  It was GORGEOUS!  I had done a drunkard's path block in the Civil War quilt (Path to the Civil War) and it had come out really well - much better than I'd expected to be honest.  So, I knew it wasn't beyond my ability.  Now Lipinski was showing a "quick" way on the show to do the drunkard's path - no pinning, no matching, blah, blah, blah.  But, he only showed the beginning who was sewing with him, not the camera.  So, I tried it anyway.  Here are the results:

No so good.  So, I went back to the way I did it before - the F & P method of the three-pin-hold (sounds like I'm wrestling doesn't it?).  One pin on each end and one to match the centers of each piece.  Here are the results:

 Top shows the pinning method.  Middle is the finished and ironed block on the right side.  The nice thing about this method is that I don't do any cutting, I just press the wedge seam outward, toward the bigger portion of the block and it just opens up.  Makes it pretty fast!  So, there is one of those quilts in my future.  THE BEST NEWS - is that the quilt, with all the directions is featured in the September-October issue of Fons & Porter Love of Quilting magazine.  I would put a picture up, but I forgot.  I'm going to get my DAR chapter involved in the Quilts of Valor program too!

Next was this big pile of scraps from the Path to the Civil War quilt.  The pile was about eight times bigger than in this picture (cause I forgot to take a picture when I started):

 These were all leftovers of squares, triangles, flying geese, some mismeasured pieces, etc. etc. and I just thought, what if I try to make something out of this . . . .

 Above you can see a bunch of stuff slapped up on the design wall.  My design wall is not nearly so nice as Jackies (whose style I am totally planning on copying).

 Here's the low down on what I did.  I slapped stuff up on the wall and tried to make it fit.  However, these blocks were all sorts of different sizes and fabric cuts, so not everything fits together so well.

Here for example, you can see I've got an open spot where the arrow is pointing.  So I took those extra strips and squares that are hanging about on the design wall and sew them on - sort of a log cabin style.

I sewed the two block strips together, but they're still going to be short of the same height as the block set to the left.

Added the strip and was then able to sew the
block set to the left onto the one there in the center that I'm holding.

Now you can see they're sewn together and I just have to square it up so I can go on to the next piece in the puzzle.

Well, after two days of this I finally ended up with a pretty nice top for a table runner.

 There it is, all finished and ready to go; the binding will end up being the outer border.  I'll have to think about what color and what fabric I want to use for that, but can do down the road.  Now that picture I started with earlier is the pile of scraps that I actually threw away when I was all finished.

 I had two "squares" left when I finished the runner top and so I made them into pincushions.  Here they are stuffed, but have to be sewn closed.

Next I wanted to see about how accurate my feet sew.  Above is the all-purpose foot that sometimes I forget to change out for my quilting foot.  See how it's riding the edge of the fabric, and where the fabric is on the throat plate?  Well, below is the quilting foot.

It is riding the edge of the fabric and you can actually see into the throat of the machine.  Below is a measurement.

The quilting foot stitch line measures at exactly one quarter inch which the all-purpose foot measured about 1/16th of an inch bigger.  I have learned my lesson Deb - only quilt with the quilting foot!

Next up is a wonderful Give Away that I won from Nancy over at Victorian Motto Sampler Shop.  She's having some more terrific give aways now, so go and check them out.  Tell her I sent you.  And, thank you again, so much, Nancy!  The background fabric is a top that I purchased at a thrift shop.  I think it is Indian in origin - and it is handmade - hand embroidered too!  Sadly, it does not fit me.  But, it is in the colors of my granddaughter's room, so it is destined to become a pillow case that will be among her Christmas presents this year.  No sense in letting good embroidery go to waste.

I have a Give Away of my own - this is fabric I have hung onto for years and finally decided that I will never, ever use.  The bulk of it is feedsack material.  One is actually still a sack!  One piece measures about 3/4 of a yard, but the others - except for the one that's a sack - are about one yard.  Then, there's a bonus piece of material that is just cotton and about 3/4 of a yard.  Be a follower, post on your blog, recommend to a friend - and let me know about it all on this posting.  I will draw a winner on the last day of the month.

Finally, something pretty that I had a heck of a time capturing with my camera because she's shy - an Eastern Swallowtail butterfly on my butterfly bush.

 Hope you enjoyed!