Archive for Tools

Adventures in vintage

There’s been a slow slog of basement clean-up happening. Most of it has been boring. Today it got a little more exciting when a couple of boxes of vintage fabric were looked into.

Highlights:

I also believe I’ve done away with the much less vintage and much less interesting fabric stash from the early to mid 1990s. Most of it had to go.

The vintage fabrics though got me motivated to dig out (and I do mean dig out) an old friend.

She was on a bookshelf behind the cutting table and, uh, some stuff. This exercise was made more difficult because her box doesn’t have a handle. I nearly didn’t get up.

I’m not sure how I’m going to get her back to her shelf. Not to mention she has a (much) younger sister sitting further over on the same shelf. I’ll just let her be for now. Until my back feels better.

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The loot

OK, OK. This isn’t all the loot from Houston. But I didn’t go absolutely crazy. I tried to make good choices, really I did.

One of my favorite things is this rusty bed spring:

This falls into the “who knew?” department. Who knew we should all save old bed springs so they can live out their days as the bases of pincushions? Envision a wool sunflower dangling over the edges. Do not let me lose this rusty bed spring! I will want to make that wool sunflower some day!

I can now rest easy and glue baste to my heart’s content because I have this:

A Glue-Baste-It refill! What more could a girl want? I should have grabbed one of those accordian squeeze bottles too while I was at it. Didn’t.

Picked up some new Valdani threads:

Pretty! I don’t think I’ve purchased the size 12 Valdani pearl cotton before.

Oh, there was a lovely trim frenzy going on at Quakertown Quilts. I tried to restrain myself by getting just one of the colors:

Got a couple of cute bag notions:

That leafy green thing has a snap attached to one end.

I did have a little trouble getting out of the vintage fabric booth — Texas Silver Mercantile. It was in the back corner near the Sandy Schor booth. That back corner was a peaceful oasis of old treasures. I went in for six inch squares of vintage fabrics. Ahem.

Yeah, yeah, I’m not even showing you the six inch squares….

Love this one!

Love this one!

Grey plaid wool!

This one reminded me of my mom’s wedding china for some reason or a picture we had or some strong connection with growing up so I had to have it:

Love this one!

I could have moved into that booth.

I’ve also added a couple of Important Useful Tools since I came home. Borders sells these Paperchase pencil cases — different designs at different times. But they are great for toting along sewing necessities. I’m going to put a magnetic strip in mine.

I may be embarking on a new project that has a lot of stitching. We learned about the Cosmo Multi Work floss at market, so I ordered some to try out. It’s two strands of floss on a spool. Gasp! No splitting up six strands of floss! Sign me up.

Just to show I haven’t been sorting and petting the new stuff since I got back, I did up a quilt top last week using some Kathy Davis Journeys fabric and The Big EZ pattern from Vicki Bellino’s new Bloom Creek Quilts book. It is big and EZ.

And pretty much sideways in this picture but the design bed makes things hard to photograph. I’m inspired by the quilting I saw at market and may put some feathers on this one. It’s been a looooong time since I’ve done some feathers. They’re not hard. I’ve just been lazy. I’ll be dusting off my Patsy Thompson DVD as a refresher.

Gotta keep moving! Have a stitch-y Monday!

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Size does matter

I’m so pleased to be able to join in Pat Sloan’s “The Edge” blog hop celebrating her new Edge rulers! BUT, when I found out I’d be sharing the blog hop day with THE PAMKITTYMORNING and THE HAPPY ZOMBIE?!?!?! Can you imagine my glee?

I’m not sure Pat knew what she was in for.

Maybe Pat didn’t realize that we are AMP-ed about measuring! So we became Team AMP-ed and set about to show you that yes, indeedy, size does matter. We hit the road to measure the immeasureable (?), to compare and contrast the size of major landmarks, to take Pat’s rulers where they have never gone before! AMP-ed, I tell ya!

First off, my crack measuring team (Team Tiny AMP?), hit the city streets.

They totally got into the “spirit” of measuring. That’s the “Spirit of Detroit” statue, dontcha know.

Then they made their way into the middle of the street to meet Joe Louis and take the measure of the man.

Size matters! I’m getting out of the way of that man’s fist.

Next, they got a measure of the local economy.

Yeah, that’s the GM headquarters. I’m not sure that size is an accurate reading there.

All of that measuring made Tiny Team AMP hungry.

So they had to stop in to American Coney Island for a little refreshment.

And then they just took a picture of an immeasurably cute girl:

Well, because she’s cute.

Then Tiny Team AMP-ed 2 went back out on the road to get the measure of some fun and games.

First, we had to measure how much time we had.

Good, plenty of time before our ride wrist bands expire!

First we took on the Super Slide.

That was a measure of fun, BUT, the biggest winner on the midway?

Definitely the Skywheel!

Makes the Super Slide look absolutely puny. We confirmed that size definitely does matter when it comes to fun!

Finally, we took the ruler out into the wilds to see what we would find. What, ho? Giant marshmallows?

Well, OK, not really.

After putting Pat’s rulers through their measuring paces, we can say that other rulers just don’t measure up like Pat’s!

While the Team AMP-ed measuring feats were fun, Pat asked us to share our first quilting experiences.

I can’t show you my very first quilt because it died a slow, shred-dy death. I will tell you it was all solids in peach, brown, red, blue and green and it was a quilt-as-you-go log cabin from an Eleanor Burns’ book. I took a class through our local recreation program back in about 1993. I thought it was great and was having a lot of fun until it came time to figure out how to attach a backing to the thing. I believe I decided at that point, so early on in my quilting career, NEVER to quilt-as-I-went again. I’ve pretty much stuck to that. Although I have quilted-as-I’ve-appliqued a number of times.

The closest living relative to my first machine-done quilt is this one:

The venerable four-patch on point. Do you see the rebel yell in the quilt? I went against the grain, so to speak, and wanted to put a color in the setting squares. I took this class at a local shop and caused trouble from the start. I think the next quilt project was a small trip around the world (I believe I am still handquilting that one…). The one after that was a heinous elongated nine-patch with heavy use of tea dyed muslin and lipstick coral.

And, look, here’s my first rotary cutter:

I believe it still has its original blade. Ah, well. It got me on the road to much quilting mischief. The rest, as they say, is history and stuff I haven’t done yet.

Finally, Pat asked us to share a recipe. I’m going to share two because they are on my mind these days what with the change in seasons.

I start making this one around December.

Horseradish-Olive-Cheese Spread

2 – 8 oz. lite cream cheese
2/3 C. chopped green olives
2 Tbsp. horseradish
1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese

Mix together well. Chill. Seems to be best with stoned wheat crackers. yum yum

And I do believe vegetable roasting season has begun. This makes the house smell amazing!

****************************

Tomato Vegetable Casserole
(Recipe originally from Giada De Laurentiis)

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yam, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
Salt and pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons dried Italian-style bread crumbs
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the potato, yam, bell pepper, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Arrange the zucchini over the onion. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomato slices over the zucchini.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the Parmesan bread crumbs over the vegetables in the baking dish. Drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender, and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs, if desired.

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OK, now I’m starving. I’m going to have to go eat something now.

Anyhoo, if you’ve stuck around through the measuring antics, first quilt and recipes, you deserve a prize! And someone’s going to win an entire set of Pat’s new rulers.

To be entered to win the set, you must comment on ALL of the ruler blog hop posts. Comments will be open through Sunday.

In addition, I’m giving away a fat quarter set of Color Theory by Sandra Banava:

I’ll draw a winner from the comments to this post through Sunday.

Here are all of the other The Edge ruler blogs:

Monday, Sept 27

The inimitable “how does she do it all?” Pat Sloan http://www.patsloan.typepad.com
Kelly of “IHAN” Fame… she is the funniest writer out there! http://ihaveanotion.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, Sept 28

Amy “NEW quilt book author.. oh yeah!” http://amyscreativeside.com/
Jackie “fabrics so awesome” http://cvquiltworks.blogspot.com
Wednesday, Sept 29

Julie “the tutorial queen” http://www.jaybirdquilts.com/
Amanda “who pumps out projects!” http://crazymomquilts.blogspot.com

Thursday, Sept 30

Monica “lover of red and aqua” http://www.thehappyzombie.com/blog/
Amy “you are here” http://mrsschmenkmanquilts.wordpress.com/
Pam “the Kitty” herself http://pamkittymorning.blogspot.com/

Friday, Oct 1

Carrie Nelson “standing in for Miss Rosie” http://lavieenrosie.typepad.com/lavieenrosie/
Polly Minick and Laurie Simpson “the DY-Na-MO Sistas!” http://minickandsimpson.blogspot.com/
Cheryl Arkison “A most Modern Girl” http://naptimequilter.blogspot.com/

Saturday, Oct 2

Michele Foster “master of blogger heaven” http://quiltinggallery.com
Pat Sloan- Pat’s wrap up http://www.patsloan.typepad.com

Thanks for visiting! I hope you are AMP-ed about Pat’s new rulers, and I hope this blog hop stop measured up!

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What we did on Friday

Well, I tried out the new Rowan thread in some machine quilting:

I stitched with Deep Violet (color 0366) from Kaffe’s Circus color grouping (on the right).

I used a size 80/12 Microtex needle (my standard for piecing and 50 wt. thread in general). I am very pleased with the results. The thread behaved beautifully and I like the stitch definition. This is a small piece of quilting that will be used as part of a little bag, so I have no real concerns about the thread being able to stand up to wear and tear — it really shouldn’t get much stress in a little bag. I’m very pleased. Of course, the color — LOVELY! It goes really well here with one of the new Philip Jacobs prints (might I add, yum).

In sum, two thumbs way up on the quality as well as the colors! I like it so much, I may have ordered the Stones color set… ahem. Well, I have a pastel-y Kaffe quilt planned. I have a few more little quiltings to do for bags and I’m looking forward to using some of the other colors.

If you hurry on over to Jackie’s shop, she has both the Circus set and the Stones set. Yes, I left you one of the Stones sets.

“We” also did this today:

Owl mania continues. I saw the sock owl tutorial over at the Stash Books blog. In the hoot of an owl, someone was digging in my recycle-able sock bin and we began cutting. And then I finished the cutting since we only had ONE of these precious polka dotted socks and couldn’t risk going awry with the scissors. So then we started sewing, and, well, somehow there were some tangled overcast stitches. So I finished part of the sewing. And then someone packed off and went to the lake for the weekend. And I sat still and finished the sock owl (all hand stitched using yesterday’s lovely Molnlycke thread, dontcha know). Now the owl can fly along to the lake for a visit while I stay here and work. Say, this all doesn’t quite sound right to me. Does it to you?

Anyway.

Hey, have you seen Felicity Miller’s new fabric? Gypsy:

Be still, my heart! I saw a little flyer for it, was quite intrigued and, what do you know, it’s available now. Gosh, it’s wonderful — funky, eclectic. The yellow and green is killing me, er, um, you can’t see them very well in that pic though…

But I do so love this little gem:

I realized that I have some duplicate prints in the fat quarter packs I ordered. Methinks I need to track down the “missing” pieces so my little collection is complete. And then I’ll think about what to do with it. I can certainly dream in the meantime though.

I hope you have something to swoon over this weekend!

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Say it isn’t so!

Ack! There’s far to much to do in the amount of time left before school’s out for summer. Ack!

So I’m trying to motor right along:

Botanica by Lourdes Sanchez, Rear Window by Blue Underground Studio

Dill pickle green — actually the green in the quilt is called “poison.” Perfect! Well, dill pickle would have been perfect.

Have you seen that Rowan now has 100% cotton premium thread collections?

I was pretty excited when I found out. In person, the threads do not disappoint!

On the left is Amy Butler’s Love thread collection. On the right is Kaffe Fassett’s Circus thread collection. The colors are fantastic! The thread is extra long Mercerized Egyptian Giza Cotton in size 50. I haven’t sewn with it yet but it feels smooth and wonderful. This thread will be great for my purposes — I already love sewing with these colors so the threads will be a nice match. And I don’t have a good selection of solid cotton threads I could use for top stitching or for more decorative, color-specific quilting — while the lighter weight cottons I have fill in in a pinch, I think these will work better. Oooooh, wouldn’t these be PRETTY on top of some shot cottons?!?! Is this a trick question?

I’ll let you know as soon as I give it a whir through the machine but I have a feeling it won’t disappoint. These thread collections should start showing up in your local stores very soon. Thanks to Sarah for sending out these little treasures!

Ack, now there’s even less time left before school is out! Back to work!

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Cones of plenty

I was finishing up this top:

when the mail carrier arrived. I’ve been trying to make time for a little something Authentic. It was one of those make it up as you go along things. Which is not really the best approach in the interest of time. Because I cut a set of strips, sewed them together, liked what was going on and then proceeded to cut another set of strips. Which finally led to a third session of strip cutting and sewing to finish the job. Indirect but not necessarily as inefficient as it felt, I guess.

So, the mail carrier resolved the impending piecing thread crisis:

A little later the UPS man solved the quilting thread crisis:

I ordered the Superior direct from Superior. I ordered the Aurifil from a new to me place called Pumpkinvine Corner. Pumpkinvine has great prices on Aurifil. Had to order two cones to get the superb cone price but I will definitely go through these.

Ahh, that’s better to have the thread pantry re-stocked.

So what did I do after the thread issues were resolved? Played with the tape, of course:

And I ran out of tape while doing this.

For the U.S. readers, may you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’m going to gobble up some Tofurkey.

 

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I am totally going to use this fabric

…for some other project.

Yes, I can finish the story I mentioned on Friday. But it got a little funnier over the weekend.

See, I finally decided on a color scheme for the petals for Kellie’s Joseph’s Coat Quilt-along. I’m going for the colors in Kaffe’s Umber Lotus Leaf fabric. After making some fabric selections, the colors fell flat on the grey above. So, I ordered a darker Kaufman Kona grey — coal, to be exact. My story was going to be about my penchant for dithering when it comes to background fabrics.

Heehee, but before my new fabric arrived, I saw Cathy’s post. The coal color wasn’t working out for her. I laughed. She could have just sent me hers. heehee!

Anyhoo, a Very Important Parcel arrived on Saturday:

I mean to tell you, I LOVE the urgent yellow color of Hancock’s of Paducah’s packaging! I love it! It says Coming through, urgent and important stuff inside!

And, voila:

Much better!

I’ve left this on the dining room table all day. Each time I pass by, I get a smile on my face. Yes, that’s the grey I needed for this project! The lighter grey will definitely be put to good use. In another project.

Speaking of finding the right color… I’m short on all kinds of thread these days. Today was the day to admit that I need more piecing thread. I’ve been avoiding it only because, well, you see, I have several-many wayward Aurifil caps but wasn’t quite sure which belong to my two “go to” colors. I selected the four below based on number of occurrences in the pile. After some investi-guessing, I have concluded that I need a cone of 5011 and a cone of 2605. I think. Well, that’s what’s been ordered so that’s what is right right now.

I’m sure there is a better system for this.

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My biases

I’ve been sewing up a bunch of bias-y edges. I was a little nervous. But we did just fine together:

whimsy

I cut the blocks with Bella Nonna’s Boondoggle ruler. Using the ruler made it fun and fast. The thing I liked best about the ruler was that center lines and their seam lines were marked on the ruler — which made it very easy to cut the setting and corner triangles. I mean, I would have figured it out, but it’s nice that the ruler did it for me. Sweet!

The fabrics are mostly from the latest colorway of Pillow & Maxfield’s Whimsy fabric. Of the three colorways, this one is my favorite. Not that there’s a bad colorway in the bunch. They are all big, bold and beautiful. The important Three Bs of fabric…

Now, I just need to finish sewing down the binding on the Full Bloom (taking forever…) quilt. AND, I also need to get some starts stuck to a blue sweater:

sweater

I’m voting for using Fabric Tac but my conscience for some reason is pushing for hand sewing them on. We are on a tight time frame here, people (there’s more than one voice in my head?), and someone is going to a Halloween party on Saturday night as Coraline. Sorting out the blue hair turned out to be tricky. One bottle of demi-permanent hair color and two wigs later, I think we’ve got it. But, gosh, there are A LOT of blue sweaters to consider at the thrift store.

Hope your week is going well!

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Pincushion rings

I forgot to mention that I am currently obsessed with these.

Please don’t buy them ALL.

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I heart circles

When we last met, I mentioned my love for circles in quilts — pieced circles (wedges…), whole circles — I’m an equal opportunity circle lover. Except when it comes to execution of quilts with lots of whole circles. I’d get all jazzed up about starting a circle quilt, start with my favorite method of prepping circles and then get entirely bored and bogged down in the prep work. ::sniffle:: No circle quilts until you prep your circles, young lady!

Mind you, I’d had one of those quilt-life-altering experiences when I took a class from Karen Kay Buckley. You know, those moments when a great teacher shows you something and you feel like they’ve just unlocked the secrets of the universe. That’s what she did one fine spring day in northern Michigan. She showed us how to make perfect circles with heat resistant templates (or washers, at the time), starch and a running stitch. As in, trace your circle template, stitch an even running stitch within the 1/4″ seam allowance (leaving a nice tail), put the template back in the circle, pull up the stitches, paint the seam allowance with starch and dry it with a medium hot iron. Carefully, loosen a few stitches so you can remove the template, gather the circle back up and give it one last good press. Voila! Perfect circles, no pointy, uneven or flat bits.

Now, if you want to see a demo of this, Karen Kay Buckley has a new applique DVD out. I am certain it is wonderful because she is a fabulous teacher! You can also go see the lovely Janet’s post which includes another mind-blowing idea for small circles (i.e., don’t cut out your circle until you’ve done the running stitch!)! We are surrounded by genius!

Anyhoo, since the Karen Kay Buckley class, I’ve used this method to prep circles. But, gosh, a girl’s attention can start to wander when she has eighty-bazillion large-ish circles to prep. The running stitch on the larger circles just takes such a long time. Whine, whine, whine.

Knowing that, I — for some reason — volunteered to do a circle quilt recently. Well, what can I say, the fabrics were fun and the method was a stroke of genius by Mary Lou Hallenbeck. This method makes great use of the fabric because you cut out your circle from a square and then you applique a circle back onto the square after you’ve done a little magic trick to the square — make the hole in the square smaller by adding 1/4″ seams.

But there was still the problem of prepping the circles that would be appliqued to the squares…hmmm…. I do love a good round of Trouble-shoot This Quilt (the home game). What to do, what to do. I went to my bookshelves. Surely there was circle info and inspiration there.

Here’s something to consider, the six-minute circle as described by Dale Fleming in Pieced Curves So Simple:

piecedcurves

You can find a tutorial for this at HGTV’s site or over at Dioramarama.

Nope, that wouldn’t work in this situation since I didn’t have a square upon which to applique the circle. I mean, I guess I could have tried and then wept in frustration because my seam allowances weren’t working out.

I also had Reynola Pakusich’s Circle Play book:

circleplay

Say, what’s this? She cuts out circles from freezer paper, irons them to the wrong side of the circle fabric, cuts out adding seam allowance and then MACHINE STITCHES within the seam allowance. She then gathers the machine stitching and presses it around the freezer paper. That sounded promising.

So, I tried it. But I found that I was getting flat spots when I pulled up the stitching. I then tried NOT pulling up the stitching. EUREKA! The machine gathering stitch made these nice little cups anyway, so I could insert my heat resistant template into the middle, paint the seam allowance with starch, press with the iron and do a dance of joy.

I started out with a pile of circles and a pile of, well, holes:

holes

I machine stitched around all of the circles making these Gelato cups:

circlecups

And then I added the circle template (cut from heat resistant template plastic):

circ1

And worked my way around, painting the seam allowance with starch, drying it with the iron, painting a little more seam allowance and so on. I really like using a small stencil brush for painting the starch on — the bristles are short and strong and really help to turn the seam allowance up over the template’s edge:

circ2

circ3

circ4

I can then easily slip the template plastic out of the pressed circle:

circ5

Keep going until you have a pile of prepped circles:

circpile
Meanwhile, your sewing alter ego is stitching 1/4 seam allowances in the holes:

seamallow
Next, you’ll wanna clean the dried glue out of your Roxanne’s applique glue applicator:

glue

Yes, it’s worth it to do this…

Then apply glue dots around the circle’s seam allowance (I found it is less messy to put the glue on the circle rather than on the hole…):

circglue

Then turn a hole square, if you will, onto the back of the circle and ease the hole around to make it fit onto the circle. This was tricky because I didn’t have much leeway given the method involved and the touchiness of the seam allowance. I decided to use this approach because the background/hole square was very unstable at this point. I figured glue basting would help me out. The seams in the background/hole square want to poke out, so it’s very important when glue basting to get the seams securely glued to the circle’s seam allowance.

circbaste

I then let my squares dry for a while before taking them to the machine to applique:

dry

After they’ve dried for a little while, I use invisible thread and a variant of a blind hem stitch on the machine to applique the circles to the background:

circles2

After the applique is done, I like to give the squares a shot of starch and then press with a pressing cloth. I may have to trim some of my corners to straighten the blocks slightly.

The prep with this method is a little tricky, like I said, because you’ve cut the circles from the same background squares. The finished circle size MUST cover the hole in the background. I found it helped to take a generous 1/4″ seam allowance in the background squares.

I think this method works best for larger circles, the ones above are about 4 1/2″, the ones below are 3 1/2″. I’ll continue to do a hand running stitch for smaller circles as I think it will give the best result for the smaller ones.

But, really, this method of prepping circles can be used when you don’t have the added trickiness of having cut your circles from your background squares. I mentioned Anne Perry’s Jelly Beans quilt yesterday and I have begun prepping circles to make a version:

circle1

circle2
This is going to work wonders for this quilt!

jellybeansprep

I now have a tidy pile of circles to hand applique to full squares of background. Can almost get one done while sitting in the kid camp pick-up queue.

I don’t know, this has just been a very satisfying session of trouble shooting this week and I feel like I’ve broken through my barrier (laziness…) to more circle quilts. I hope this helps someone else too. If you’d like something clarified or have questions, just leave a comment! Happy circling!

Now I’m off to see an art show — the gallery showing of what the art campers have done this week. Up until today, I thought we’d paid only for a t-shirt and the orange band indicating that someone had passed the swimming test. Now, I’ll get to see all of the inspired creations too!

Comments (29)

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