Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Quilting Along...

Checking in so there is at least one December post! Quilt has been pinned and slowly being quilted. This time I am doing curved lines, one after another, with the AcuFeed foot on and sometimes a quilting bar and sometimes not.  I seem to do just as well without the quilting bar! And that realization came after I purchased the Janome extra-long quilting bar set with the left and right bars included. Pretty snazzy set though!  I am enjoying moving slowly through this project, and although I wanted to finish it up this year, I guess I will be binding it in January 2016.  See you all in 2016!

Friday, September 18, 2015

15 Minutes of Play again with the Elna TOP 300...

  Here's the Elna TOP 300 again back in the table!  It is a fast machine!   I used it to piece the last piece of the 15 Minutes of Play  quilt self-made fabric I needed to cut the last ten blocks. I have a quarter inch foot I bought for the Mini Ultra and it was the only one that fits the Elna TOP 300. The regular Janome top loading foot and the vertical foot 1/4" feet both either don't fit at all or are wonky on the feed dogs. SO this one is a Distinctive brand foot that has a long blade. I bought it through AMAZON from Mr. Vac and Mrs. Sew and that is one terrific company to deal with. The silly blade just gets in the way, so I pulled it off! I was surprised that pulling it off worked really well. The machine feels great to sew on. The thing for me to remember is that it *IS* all mechanical and I need to raise the needle to the top after each seam. Otherwise the top thread whips out of the threading channel and I have to rethread. Oh how soon we forget! ;) Needle down is doable with your foot pedal as in any mechanical but takes some finesse and practice. I have cut out the darker background fabrics and am now ready to sew the blocks together to make the top. Time to shop batting and backing. Thinking poly high loft batting and some pretty backing fabric. When I piece I pretty much use up the partial bobbins I have and the thread I won't use for quilting. I used both So Fine #50 and cotton Coats machine quilting thread on the piecing. Going to use So Fine #50 for sewing it all together, as well as pre-wound So Fine #60 bobbins, and then I am still thinking over the quilting thread! I do know I am going to quilt this one with the walking foot. I am doing the Craftsy class on Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot, so there should be some tips there I can use! And yes, I am putting Hello Kitty stickers judiciously on my machines...I love Hello Kitty.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Amy Butler Tent Dress...

So I had this fabric from Amy Butler. A bit heavier than quilting cottons, and probably best suited to a bag. However, I have a bunch of Vera Bradley bags and I am really not in need of a bag at any size. I decided to make a loose fitting tent dress because it has been really hot. Especially back in the end of July when I finally finished the dress.  I had all the pics resized and was going to do the blog entry when my Mac went down. Turned out to be a fried hard drive. I finally got it back with a new drive, but have not felt like blogging. BUT, this is the time! I want to get the dress up even though it makes me look upholstered! It is so comfy and the pattern is great. I did do some alterations on the pattern - I did the sleeve and the bodice alterations I usually do - made the sleeve larger and longer (should have made it a bit shorter) and used my bodice templates for the bodice alterations. also made both front and back higher. The pictures tell the story. I did the back like the front, so the front pic gives you the idea. In the end I have a comfy dress I really like, although I do look a bit upholstered in this dress.
I intend to use this pattern for an "around the house" dress, maybe in a fleece for winter, and the pattern can also be used as a night wear pattern, made shorter as a swing dress, or with long sleeves.  This pattern has been in the New Look stable since 1995! There is good reason for that - it is popular and it is very easy - it is New Look 6352, and is called an EASY 1 HOUR pattern.  I doubt I'd say 1 hour, but maybe after you do your alterations, cut it out and so on, the 1 hour is for the sewing up. I did self binding on the neckline and just turned up the sleeves and hem twice and sewed them.  I do love self binding.  This was the last piece of fabric I had that could be considered garment fabric.

Now to get back to the quilt blocks. I have several more scrappy blocks to sew up, slice and resew, then to cut them and cut the darker background fabric that will fill in the nine patch blocks for the scrappy quilt.

Hoping that the last weeks of Summer into Fall are lovely where ever you are!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fun at the 2015 Vermont Quilt Festival

June 26th - June 27th - although an exhausting two days,  The Vermont Quilt Festival was, as usual, a scintillating feast for the senses. Between the vendors booths filling the two expo halls, and the class at Vermont Tech's Williston location, the weekend   was fast, fun-filled and fabulous.

I think it took my feet about 4 days just to become functional once again. I stayed within my set budget for shopping, and I was able to get some nice fabric, books and a few Janome goodies. I took a class in Zentangle from Pat Ferguson and that was a really nice relaxing experience. She is a kind and patient teacher, and I would recommend the class to anyone who wants a half day relaxing time just drawing! Here is our class composite Zentangle square collection laid out together! Amazing how compatible they were!

The quilts were many and lovely over all. I want to just put a representative few here to show the gamut of styles and workmanship - all so well crafted.  Other sites have done critiques, and I have none to offer except to say how much I appreciate seeing all the quilts and all the fine craftsmanship that goes into them.

The level of fabric art shown at the festival is a wonderful inspiration for anyone, and I would urge those who do not sew or quit to go and see the quilts as an art exhibit, for that is what it is.

The first picture is the work of Joe Cunningham, a master artist in fabric who had a show at the festival this year. I have already mentioned him on another blog post! Such an inspirational Craftsy Class he has and how I did enjoy it!

Pat Ferguson, teacher of the Zentangle class had a lovely quilt in the show as well. The colors were so lovely and the back is as nice as the front!
After hers I am posting an array! There were so many that the photos I chose to take were not going to give even half a picture of the colors and sizes and types, but here I go.

My very favorite of the entire show for workmanship, and for original design - the large quilt made of thousands of small hexi patches. Winner of the Best in Show outside the USA, it is a work of art by Grit Kovacs of Germany. Up close and far away, this is amazing.  Her website tells the tale of the creation of the quilt.  I just stood there looking at the tiny pieces of this. First - it is original, and second it is all hand pieced. Usually I am not a real fan of blue quilts, but this quilt won me over on sight. The pattern is almost Moroccan. I just love it. It well deserves the Governor's Award and the Best in Show from out of the USA award, and many more awards!

Pat Pauly of New York State had a lovely quilt on display. Pink Leaf 2 Quilt with large pink-red leaf....beautiful. and original and just a feast for the eyes. Several more pictures here show even more of an array of beauty. I end with pictures of the swag of 2015, and my Quiltie-Pal and I smiling over our favorite buys, even while exhausted after two days of intense Quiltiness!

Dragons! Loved this! All those Asian fabrics I have waiting, and inspiration around every corner!

Wonky blocks quilted so well and again - I loved it!

Somehow this is very Southwestern to me! Colors are fabulous.

A threesome of quilts in three styles!

And below - landscape quilting at its best - lovely colors and shades and values.

After the Show....looking forward to next year at VQF !

Friday, June 19, 2015

Placemats Finished...

Placemats again! Yes. I got them bound, and now the only project I have going is the 15 Minutes of Play blocks. I have to decide if I want solid fabric between the scrappy blocks or not. I guess time will tell.Meanwhile, another decision. Now that I have the pattern for the bag I thought I wanted to make, I really don't want to make a bag. Here's the reason - I have a plethora of bags. All the ones I love. Vera Bradley fabric with pockets inside. I can't imagine a handier bag than my Messenger for work or the others for whenever. I don't need another bag, and the time it would take me to make one would be better spent making something I either need or could need. Here though is the fabric. It's an Amy Butler fabric called Wood Fern out of her Nigella collection. Yes, a large print. But I wonder if a loose fitting wear-around-the-house maxi dress wouldn't be a fun item out of this? THAT is one thing I need because I really don't have any such garment. I am thinking this one over. I bought this fabric at least five years ago, so it's going to be a stash-buster to use it up!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Place Mats Reversible...

This week I am trying to finish the place mats I started a few months ago. I am using bias tape and really am sorry I didn't make my own binding. They are not going to have perfect corners. Cough. I won't be putting pics of the corners here. Meanwhile though they are going to be O.K., and I want to use them in two weeks. These are the combo Birthday/Patriotic Holiday place mats. With these, I think my topical place mat making might be over! I cut these with my trusty brown paper pattern I made years back, I used fabric I bought at Joann's of course. Batting is Warm and Natural and I was able to whiz through free motioning them on my Elna 720! YEA! I used Metrosene thread bottom and top, and just the regular hopping quilting foot even though I have bought the high shank free motion quilting set.  I bought three packages of wright's quilt binding because I thought that would work and be faster than making my own, but I see now that mine would have been better fabric and less stiff. Live and Learn. It has been years since I used bias tape and then it was to edge curtain valances. Worked nicely for that. Also used the Acufeed foot for stitching on the binding - it is pretty wide, but does a good job at feeding the fabric evenly. :) Interesting point about this machine is that it has a differential feed dial like a serger, and that is meant to be used with the Acufeed feet. I have not used that feature yet, but it is pretty exciting!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sewing on Vacation...

Have been away on a visit to the Great Pacific Northwest.  While there I have been using the little Babylock Audrey again, and have made over a dozen scrappy blocks. A lot of fun...this quilt may take time! The 15 Minutes of Play isn't as easy as it sounds, but it is challenging and fun to do. It certainly is not fast. You hold your head on one side and try to visualize what you can get out of various slashes in the fabric you just put together, and then cut and put in strips and then see what else you can do. It is a good exercise for the brain. Although I have thought of sewing up a few tops, I have not done so, and intend to work on this quilt and plan a setting for the eventual blocks for it. Is RED too much as alternate blocks?  I could use a black print with a very subtle pattern, or red, or just make blocks until I have it all scrappy. there is a lot to think about! As usual I did make three pair of casual jammie pants for wear around the house for my two grands and their Mom. That was a fun sew - that Simplicity pattern is becoming second nature to me at this point. The fact that it has only the one seam in the leg is really what puts these on a fast track. I made them a bit roomy this time so that growth (which is fast at this age) can be accommodated for in these.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Elna eXcellence 720...

Devoting a post to my new Elna. I am so pleased to have been able to purchase this machine. This is the same chassis as my Janome MC6300 had (the machine has been re-homed to a very nice lady who will use it well) but has several really nice enhanced features. The stitch package is very very nice. The deco stitches stitch out so nicely and I love the display. As you tweak a stitch the display shows the tweaks. My Viking has this as well, and it is really a good feature. One feature that is better than my Viking Platinum 770 is the selection process for stitches. The Elna has ten direct selection stitches - one push of a button and you have it. To get any other stitches in the entire package you just push the MODE button one time and then enter the numerical codes for each stitch you want. You can repeat or vary the stitches and save in memory or stitch right out. No need to go through several steps as you  have to on my Viking. So alphabets are easy-peasy. And yes, it came with lots of feet and one Accufeed foot which is handy in place of having to have a walking foot. The manual is large and readable. Most of this machine is already easy for me because of my Janomes, and of course the 6300 had the same body.  This Elna seems to have a more throaty powerful sound to the motor, but that could be my imagination. I was able to attach the LED strip for my Ecolux system right unto this machine and still use the second light it has in the harp! So I have got terrific lighting on this machine for sure! The Ecolux lighting is not on in these pictures.  I even added one Hello Kitty sticker once I sold the Janome 6300. I felt then I had really claimed my Elna. First project is to keep on with my 15 Minutes of play quilt blocks. Next will come the handbag and after that...who knows.  I already know it can handle all my sewing needs.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Elna 720 Plays for 15 Minutes of Play...

This year's long project will be the 15 Minutes of Play quilt blocks. I am taking my time with these because they are kind of fun yet challenging. Make-your-own-fabric from scraps and pieces is not always intuitive! Here is the link again to the site.  The book is full of good ideas, and everything from simple to very intricate is illustrated inside.  I keep it simple! I hope to make enough 6" blocks for a quilt about 5x6 feet as usual, and that will keep me busy for quite awhile. One nights hour or two of fun usually nets 6 blocks. Not bad. I do have a lot of scraps. Funny though how you don't even want to use some scraps - they just make you wonder why you kept them. I have to force myself to use them, and when I do they look fine in combo with other fabrics.  I will post pics of several blocks here just to illustrate the fun combos I try to do. I have a lot to go yet, and some blocks work better than others in my mind, but in all I think it will work to an interestingly busy quilt! I try to work on it every week a couple of times, but this week I got one working session.  And yes, you do see a new machine in the background. I heard that there is a possibility that Janome may discontinue the chassis style of the Janome MC6300, Janome MC6600, Elna 720, etc., and I had some downsizing in mind and consolidation of features among my sewing machines, and I had though of buying the Elna 720 at my local dealer for some time. The rumor mill sent me straight out to Smitty's to buy the Elna eXcellence 720. I love my Janome MC6300, and I love my Elna 720.  I am currently selling my Janome MC6300 after much love and such good service! It hurt to take off Hello Kitty stickerage. The Elna has the same measurements and fits into my Gidget II table perfectly and it comes with a large extension table as did the 6300, so that fits right on over as well. It was comfy in its spot in no time at all!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oriental Traditions Quilt Finished...Happy!

Over a period of the last two weeks I finally got the quilt finished! I am happy with the results. I love the fabric for the binding, which is the same fabric as the black in the blocks on the right of the quilt. I bought this fabric in a store in Bothell on my trip to Seattle last May, and had it in mind for this quilt at that time. It is black with a lovely speckling of gold.   I did the label with that fabric as well. I think designing the row of blocks was the fun part, and daring to use the whole cloth panel as well. I bought three panels in a row, edged them with blocks and did the free motion quilting. The backing is altogether different. It's a really cute white floral on red that I bought a lot of from Keepsake Quilting when I bought it to make the binding on my Mom's pinwheel quilt. I love it and my daughter loved it and wanted it for her quilt backing, so here it is! :)  I really love these Asian fabrics and want to just sew with them as I go along, but right now I am working on a scrappy quilt in the 15 Minutes of Play mode. Not as fun as I thought, but fun anyway, and rather a learning experience. I do like to take my time, and the next Asian quilt is beginning to take shape in my imagination as we speak. Meanwhile, I love to look at this one!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Asian Quilt Free Motioned...Razzle Dazzle Fun!

I finished the free motion on the Asian Quilt last week. Now I am dragging my feet on making the binding. I will make the binding from the same black-with-golden-sprinkles as featured in the blocks I made for the quilt. I wanted to use Kimono Silk, but that didn't work out. I ended up quilting some with the silk, some with So Fine #50 and some with good old Maxi-Lock. About 75% of the way through, a friend suggested I try a Jeans needle. I had one and put in a 14. The difference was fantastic - that jeans needle seemed to entirely make the Pfaff happy, and on she went with the Maxi-Lock and the Jeans needle. I promptly bought myself a bunch of Jeans needles from Nancy's Notions. I think I will be quilting on the inexpensive side with a lot of Maxi-Lock and Jeans needles. :)

Meanwhile, I needed a break with a short project, and I finally started the Superior University classes with project #101, the Razzle Dazzle mug rugs. I decided to do mine from double sided quilted fabric I had in my scrap stash, and I used Metrosene on the top and hand wound that Razzle Dazzle unto a bobbin and did the bobbin work as directed int he class instructions. I tell you - this was fun! My Janome 6300 loved it, and all went very well. I had to use my own free form patterns of course, couldn't use the ones supplied, as I didn't really care at all for them. I love the results and am very grateful that I signed up for the lessons. I mean I never would even have tried bobbin work without this impetus. Looking forward to learning quite a lot of thread info in these lessons. Good news here - Cindy Needham has a video on using the Razzle Dazzle.