Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Practice! Practice! Practice! Anyone that does FMQ (free motion quilting) knows that you need to practice regularly. I have been doing FMQ on my domestic sewing machine for several years. Before I begin quilting a new project, I practice on a sample square. My quilting has progressed over the years, but still has room for improvement. Mostly because I need to do it more often.

I’ve mentioned before that I had surgery on my shoulder last year for a rotator cuff tear, related to a bone spur that was also removed. Not that everyone needs to know my medical history, but the shoulder issue was far more than just a tear. Since the problem had persisted far too long without proper treatment, I also developed problems with my humerus and tendons. In layman terms, the surgeon literally detached my tendons, cut off the ends that were dead, and reattached them to my humerus.

I say all this to suggest that I may not be able to FMQ like I used to. And, this is frustrating to me. I am finding that my motion is not fluid. While quilting recently, I have noticed sudden jerks or an inability to maintain control of my movements. I am hoping that this is temporary as I re-establish regular FMQ time. I mean, it has been over a year since I have been doing regular FMQ. I cannot expect to just go back to quilting like I did before surgery. Unfortunately, I have also developed bouts of tendonitis after sessions of quilting.

You be the judge… Here are some examples of FMQ on a wall-hanging I am finishing up for a challenge. I made Ocean Waves blocks and wanted to quilt pebbles and waves into the quilt. I viewed tutorials on the The Free Motion Quilting Project by Leah Day. I browsed her library and chose a pebble ripples design to incorporate into the center of the quilt.

Pebble Ripple Front

Pebble Ripple Front

Pebble Ripple Back

Pebble Ripple Back

I added curved line quilting in the dark HST (half square triangles), to look like waves. Then, I looked for something to add to the white HST. I settled on another Leah Day design, underwater rocks. I currently have it on my machine, quilting in short spurts, but keeping the quilt intact until I get to the end of a section.

Underwater Rocks design

Underwater Rocks design

For those who are interested, I am using 50 wt. Aurifil thread in a variegated blue #3770 Stonewashed Denim. The white  HST are being quilted in 50 wt. Aurifil #2021 Natural White.

Aurifil #3770

Aurifil #3770

It may be that I just need to practice. I appreciated the blog post by Christa Quilts! yesterday. She reviewed a Craftsy class on FMQ by Elizabeth Dackson. I especially liked Elizabeth’s philosophy:

The Golden Rules of Quilting

  1. Practice, practice, practice!
  2. Give yourself permission for things not to be perfect right away.
  3. Walk away and take a break if you feel that you’re getting frustrated.

I really needed to hear this today. Whether my FMQ ability returns to it’s former level or I have to adjust how often and how much I do, I will keep quilting. Maybe I’ll take that Craftsy class, too.

Happy Stitching!

Luncheon Napkins

I decided to make a set of eight luncheon napkins to decorate a table for a ladies event at our church. Our Kindred Hearts women’s group has an annual event called Festival of Tables. Members host a table and decorate it using a theme of their choice. Tickets are sold to a Saturday morning brunch, and attendees vote on their favorite table.

This is the first year that I will attend the event, and I signed up to decorate a table, too. My theme is “Welcome Spring!” After a long, cold winter here in Michigan, everyone is glad the snow has melted and the weather is warming up. I decided to warm up my table with cheerful spring colors. I chose fabrics from my stash that coordinate well with my china set.

China & Napkin Placesetting

China with Luncheon Napkin

I used a pattern from my Groovy Girls days at our local quilt shop (LQS), Common Threads. The shop held a Saturday morning club once a month for a couple of years, that my sisters and I attended. Members learned new techniques through demos, swooned over shop samples, shared show & tell, and received discounts on pattern and fabric purchases. Atkinson Designs sponsored the club. We received free patterns following each club meeting, and this fabric napkin pattern was one.

Luncheon Napkins

The pattern uses some quick piecing techniques that makes stitching easy. Each napkin uses two fat quarters. I found a print seersucker fabric for the front of the napkin that was adequate yardage for all eight napkins. I used two different green hand dyed fabrics for the napkin backs. The binding is made from folding the back to the front of the napkin. I’m still deciding how I will fold the napkins.

Folded Napkins

Folded Napkins

Besides these cheerful napkins, the table will be set with a crocheted table cover, owned by my mother-in-law, and fresh flowers. What could be more Spring?

What are you stitching up?

NQA March BOM

I know, I know, it’s April. But, I was only just able to finish the March Block of the Month (BOM) for my Galaxy quilt. The patterns are for members only of the National Quilting Association. This month’s block utilized two different techniques – handwork and machine applique. The star points utilized a stitch and turn technique that formed the star points, while the center is a hexagon constructed using a paper template. The pattern was published by Andover Fabrics, who granted permission to the NQA to use it in the quilt. I chose to machine applique the star using a blanket stitch. I hand appliqued the center, but added a blanket stitch for appearances. The block construction is taught by certified teacher, Ruth Ann Johnson, of West Virginia.

March BOM - NQA

March BOM – NQA

This month’s star block pattern is the Savery Friendship Star. The original quilt was made by Elizabeth Hooten (Cresson) Savery and friends in Philadelphia, PA in and dated 1844. The quilt measures  83-1/4 X 80 inches. The quilt was made of cotton and linen fabrics using the English template method, and the center hexagons were inked with signatures and drawings. The quilt was gifted to the American Folk Art Museum by Marie D. and Charles A. T. O’Neill. You can read more about the quilt and other Quaker quilts HERE. I’m considering adding my signature to the center hexagon.

The block was fun to make and a change of pace from the sewing activities of late. You may have noticed my recent post about prayer cloths. I continued making more of these, along with two cotton skirts for my sister to wear on her mission’s trip. She departed on Thursday to catch a flight in Chicago and has been in Haiti since last night. So, now I am back to my regular sewing projects. This afternoon, I hope to baste my SewBatik challenge quilt and begin the FMQ. I choose not to provide any pics of this project, since it will be entered into the NQA challenge later in May. At that time, I will reveal my final project, the results of which I am very pleased.

Hope that you find time to do something quilty today. Happy Stitching!

I finished the farm animal baby quilt for my great niece in time to place it in my guild’s local quilt show. This was a quilt that I began last summer while I was recovering from my rotator cuff surgery. I couldn’t tolerate too much activity with my shoulder, so I made the applique blocks. I stitched the blocks together in the Fall and had the quilt pinned for quilting before Christmas. I first blogged about this baby quilt project HERE.

Alas, I did not get the quilting done until a week ago. Honestly, I was not sure I was ready to FMQ again. I tore my rotator cuff a year ago in February after a week-end of micro-stippling. This was not the first tear, but another tear related to a bone spur. Then in January, I spent a few hours on a week-end doing FMQ on a small project and ended up with tendonitis and suffered with three weeks of pain. Needless to say, I have been reluctant to begin doing any FMQ. But, I had to get this quilt finished and the guild quilt show was my motivation.

Farm Animal baby quilt displayed at the MMQG Spring in Michigan quilt show.

Farm Animal baby quilt displayed at the MMQG Spring in Michigan quilt show.

I quilted in the ditch around all the blocks. This was fairly easy using the walking foot. I continued with straight line quilting across the diagonal of the 9-patches. With planning, I was able to complete this quilting in two continuous lines. The next challenge was adding in some FMQ around the farm animals and in the borders. I chose to outline stitch around the animals, which did not come out as nicely as I had hoped. But, practice makes perfect and I haven’t been practicing. The quilting would have to do. Lastly, I added a heart border. I completed the design as a continuous motif by stitching the heart shape and then stitching back through the center of the heart and beginning the next one. I got this idea from tutorials that Lori gives in her blog The Inbox Jaunt. Here are some closeup pics that reveal the quilting.

Quilting around farm animals & hearts; quilting in 9-patch blocks

Quilting around farm animals & hearts & in 9-patch blocks

More examples of quilting  from left side

More examples of quilting from left side including the border

My favorite part of stitching this quilt was creating the applique blocks and adding the blanket stitching. I joined the War on WIPs at the Modern Quilt Guild forums and this is the third WIP completed in 2014. I am actually moving along at one quilt per month. Yeah!!

Farm Animal Baby Quilt

Farm Animal Baby Quilt

Here’s another look at the finished quilt. Happy Stitching!

My local guild, Mid-Michigan Quilters’ Guild, had it’s biennial quilt show this weekend. Titled Spring in Michigan, everyone welcomed the opportunity to look at colorful quilts rather than the stark white of the long, cold winter we have experienced. Our raffle quilt brought in $1500 plus in ticket sales, which will help to support community education activities sponsored by our guild. Some of you may remember the raffle quilt that I helped design.

Raffle Quilt with Quilt Show Committee

Raffle Quilt with Quilt Show Committee

I’m on the far right, next to Roberta, who calculated the raffle quilt dimensions and fabric requirements, while I planned the applique border, prepared templates, and determined color placement. Check out some of my favorite quilts from the show.

Hexagon Rainbow-hand quilted

Hexagon Rainbow-hand quilted

Hexagon Rainbow Closeup

Hexagon Rainbow Closeup

 

Hexagons & Diamonds

Hexagons & Diamonds

 

Edyta Sitar Applique

Edyta Sitar Applique

 

 

Baltimore Album

Baltimore Album

 

Baltimore Album closeup

Baltimore Album closeup

Linda's Quilt

Linda’s Quilt

Wool Applique

Wool Applique

Center of Wool Applique

Center of Wool Applique

Upper Corner of Wool Applique

Upper Corner of Wool Applique

Applique Birds by Bea Oglesby

Applique Birds by Bea Oglesby

 

Applique Club project Heart Sampler by Laurene Sinema

Applique Club project Heart Sampler by Laurene Sinema

You’ve probably noticed that I enjoy applique. A couple years ago, I organized an Applique Club within our guild. The above Heart Sampler quilts is the first project the club completed. Applique birds is our second project. One member made every bird in the book and her quilt was juried into the AQS show in Grand Rapids last August. Here are a few more pieced quilts from the guild quilt show.

100_4291

I didn’t write down the pattern name

abby cadabby

abby cadabby

Feathered Star center

Feathered Star center

Hexagons

Hexagons

Rainbow Log Cabin

Rainbow Log Cabin

These next quilts are three that I entered. I just finished each of these in the last month, in time to enter them in the show. The first is a baby quilt that I made for my great-niece Charity, to commemorate her birth. Many will recognize my Riley Blake challenge quilt. The last is a block exchange quilt from several years ago. I exchanged blocks with four other ladies in the guild and had enough blocks for two twin size quilts. This is the first of the two that was finally quilted last year.

Farm Animal baby quilt

Farm Animal baby quilt

Modern Bargello

Modern Bargello

Orange Dotty Quilt

  Orange Dotty Quilt

Hopefully, you enjoyed the virtual quilt show.

Happy Quilting!

Prayer Cloths

I have been stitching together patchwork prayer cloths. My sister is preparing for a mission trip to Haiti. While there, her group will be visiting a hospital to pray for the infirmed. The group would like to leave a momento with those they pray for, to remind them of the prayers offered on their behalf. When my sister brought this to my attention, I immediately thought that I could certainly assist her by making several of the prayer cloths.

I had heard of prayer cloths before, but had not seen one let alone made one. I had recently read a blog post about prayer flags and thought that they might be similar. I googled prayer flag and determined that they were distinctly different and googled prayer cloth instead. It turned up several crocheted and stitched patterns.

I chose to follow a simple pattern using four inch squares in a checkerboard pattern. I pulled some leftover charms from a pack used to make a baby quilt. Since the charms were five inches, I strip pieced them into 4-patches, then put them together into a checker board pattern. My initial attempts included thin batting in the center, however, the stiffness of the cloth was something that deterred from the idea of a cloth one could easily carry around with them.

Quilted Prayer Cloth with Cross Pin

Quilted Prayer Cloth with Cross Pin

So, I made another cloth without batting and it proved to be more acceptable. I also chose to use the “birthing” process for attaching the backing, rather than adding an actual binding. I still added stitching to hold the layers of fabric together.

Various Stitched Prayer Cloths

Various Stitched Prayer Cloths

After I use up the charm pack, I plan to use up some orphan blocks and leftover patches from previous projects. I probably will make some that are just plain fabric, as well. These will likely just have a rolled edge hem, like making a cloth napkin. I really like the cheery fabrics and feel that they will bring joy to those that receive them. As indicated on the pattern instructions, I prayed over the cloths as I stitched them together. I have also pressed them using a lavender scented spray starch.

Pray that my sister’s mission trip to Haiti will bring encouragement and healing to those they come into contact. You can also check out the trip on Facebook HERE.

Enjoy!

My older sister and I worked on our Dresdan Zoo Baby Quilt for our niece, on Saturday morning. We have been making steady progress on this quilt for several months. The quilt is a collaboration between my two sisters and I for our great-niece Isabella, born in January. She is our oldest brother’s second grandchild and we collaborated on a quilt for the first grandchild last year.

Each month, we plan a sister’s sewing day, which I have began blogging about HERE. This month, we only had a morning to work on a project, so we used it to stitch the Dresdan blocks together. Since the points on the Dresdan blocks touched and did not match up well, we decided to add a 2-inch sashing strip between the blocks. A border of the purple stripe fabric is the next addition, along with white corner squares. Then, on to the FMQ that my youngest sister should complete. She’s the expert quilter of the three of us.

Dresdan Zoo Quilt

Dresdan Zoo Quilt

Here is a closeup of the center Alligator block.

Dresdan Alligator Block

Dresdan Alligator Block

Finally, here is a peek at the border fabric lying next to the quilt.

Zoo Quilt Border Fabric View

Zoo Quilt Border Fabric View

Do you get together regularly with someone to quilt? I participate in lots of quilt groups. But, I enjoy my sewing with my two sisters the most.

Happy Stitching!

Last Winter, I read a little about dyeing fabric with snow. The idea sounded interesting, but I was planning to try my hand at other types of fabric dyeing. So, I spent a few days in the summer trying some resist dyeing techniques, namely low water immersion and shibori. You can read about these attempts HERE.

With so much snow this Winter, I decided I needed to take advantage of it and try out the resist dye technique of snow dyeing. After the idea settled in my head, I passed by some powdered Rit Dye on clearance at Meijer. I picked up some Soda Ash at Hobby Lobby and watched a couple of You-Tube videos on the topic.

I use muslin at a low cost to try out these dyeing techniques.  After learning the technique, I may choose to purchase fabric and dyes of a higher quality to prepare more fabric. To begin the snow dye process, I soaked the muslin in a Soda Ash solution for 20 minutes. This allows the dye to take to the fabric better. After wringing out the excess solution, the fabric was bunched up and place on a slotted surface over a tub. I made do with a plastic shoe rack from my closet and placed it over two tubs. The entire setup was placed inside the bathtub for ease in rinsing the fabric and cleaning up. I gathered snow from the back deck and placed it on top of the fabric. Powdered dye was sprinkled across the snow, which acts as a resist until melted. The dye colors I used were Fushia, Golden Yellow, and Dark Green. My choices were based upon the selection on the clearance shelf.

Snow Dyeing Setup

Snow Dyeing Setup #1

Snow Dyeing Setup #2

Snow Dyeing Setup #2

Fabric after snow melted

Fabric after snow melted

After the snow melts, the fabric is rinsed until clear. I didn’t get the results that I was hoping for. Maybe the fabric pieces were too large, but the dye did not penetrate through the pieces. Large areas of white muslin remained untouched by the dye. I chose to re-dye one of the pieces. Another piece was flipped over part way through the melting and the snow added to the other side to finish melting. Here are the three samples I created.

Re-dyed Fabric #1

Re-dyed Fabric #1

Fabric #2

Fabric #2

Fabric #3

Fabric #3

I probably won’t be trying snow dyeing again anytime soon, although there is plenty of snow outside. The technique was time consuming and the results were less than satisfying. I would really like to try Batik dyeing and additional attempts of Shibori dyeing.

Happy Dyeing!

NQA February BOM

Now that my Riley Blake challenge quilt is complete, I can focus on other projects. First up was to complete the February BOM for my NQA project. I have been a member of the National Quilting Association since 2008. This year, I have decided to participate in the SewBatik fabric challenge, but will not be able to attend the annual show. So, I decided to join in on the BOM for members only.

This month, NQA certified teacher Barbara Arnold provides the star pattern. The February pattern is  Sawtooth Checker Star. I used two different red fabrics from my stash. Again, the instructions were easy to follow and the diagrams provided additional help. The center of the star is a 16-patch of alternating red and white two-inch squares. Barbara utilized strip piecing for the two colors, then cut them apart into sections. Two of these sections were sewn into a row, then four rows sewn together to make the center. This process was different from other patterns that I have made. I had expected to make four patches and sew them together. However, this sequence of stitching had fewer seams to match through the piecing process and stitched together quickly. The remaining block sections are flying geese units and squares.

Here is the finished block that I stitched up today.

February BOM - NQA

February BOM – NQA

I am liking these blocks. Are you working on a BOM? How are you doing?

Happy Stitching!

I’ve finished my Riley Blake Challenge quilt for The Modern Quilt Guild. I provided an overview of my design process in an earlier post. I used three-quarter inch white strips to separate the bargello strips, rather than more bargello strips, as the pattern called for. This variation, along with the improvisational borders add a modern look to this traditional pattern. I’m naming my creation Modern Bargello.

Modern Bargello - Riley Blake Challenge for The Modern Quilt Guild

Modern Bargello – Riley Blake Challenge for The Modern Quilt Guild

I designed the borders improvisationally. The batting was marked through the center to provide orientation lines for adding the bargello strips. Placement of the center bargello strip along the orientation line offset the design. I used this as an opportunity to make borders of different widths. I stitched extra fabric into sections similar to bargello units to use as two of the corners, while the other two corners used solid fabric pieces. White border strips with corners were added in a QAYG fashion, just as the bargello strips were added.

Center of Bargello

Center of Bargello

Top of Bargello

Top of Bargello

I quilted the borders to mimic the quilting on the back of the quilt, making two rows of straight stitching a quarter inch apart. I separated these rows of straight line quilting by different widths, just as the bargello strips are different widths. The stitching changed directions from corner to corner. A white binding was added to maintain the white color along the edge and keep the eye focused on the center of the quilt.

There’s still a lot of snow here in Michigan. I used the sunshine today to take a couple of outdoors photos.

Riley Blake Challenge-Modern BargelloRB Challenge-Modern Bargello

I am happy with the results of my challenge quilt. Enjoy!

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