Thinking Big… Maybe Too Big?

I have a bad habit of always going big when I take on a project. My first quilt project was to contain 2,000 different fabrics in a charm quilt to celebrate the new millennium. (That one isn’t done, BTW). The first time I wanted to really try a cross stitch project, the canvas was two feet by three feet (that’s big for cross stitch). That one too, isn’t done. My first (faux) stained glass project was about six foot by three foot… that one did get finished. The American Girl doll house I built was 48 square feet and stood over seven feet. Also done (and sold)! Even if the projects are quite so big, I tend to go a little overboard on the project materials… you’ve seen photos of my sewing/quilt room, yes? I literally have enough fabric to open my own shop. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, one of the more recent projects that is in progress is a braided denim rug. One of the things I like to try to do is having little projects within the bigger one that I can write posts about. So, this one started with how to harvest the most denim from old blue jeans. I actually wrote that one up as an “instructable” and you can see it here. Then over the course of a couple of months, I collected used blue jeans and harvested as many three inch strips as I could.

DSCN4263.JPGIt was a long process, but I was able to do most of the deconstruction while watching old movies or binge watching my favorite television series. Over a hundred pairs of jeans (lost count during collecting) were used and I was able to sell the carefully removed back pockets on eBay for almost a hundred dollars!

The next step was to create long strips… I wasn’t – and still aren’t – sure how long the rolls should be and what would be the easiest length to work with. After all, braiding tends to tangle while working… I will just have to be conscious of it while working. I ended up creating mostly the same length… just guessing at it while I was sewing. Some ended up longer than others and there are a couple of kind of short ones. The should be easiest enough to shorten when I start braiding if they turn out to be too long.

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After this, I rolled all the strips into coils… this photo is most of them. Whew! This alone was the endeavor. I rolled about half by hand… just round and round. The Kid, being inventive and with a slight allergy to repetitious work, came up with the idea of rolling them using a power drill. I just love the way his brain works!

The next step is to turn these strips into the “yarn” for braiding. I am basically turning it into binding… folding the edges in and “setting” them with an iron. Then, I fold this in half and sew it with a long stitch. It took some time and trials to figure out how to sew over this much bulk, especially the seams, without constantly breaking the threads but using a heavy duty thread – actually a hand quilting thread – finally was the answer. That and coaxing the seams through by hand. I then let it fall over the edge and into a basket on the floor:

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So, far, I’ve managed to empty the with the least amount of coils. It is a bit of a long slow process. I don’t have the slightest idea of how to estimate the amount of yarn that I will need to complete the rug. Actually, I’m not sure how big I even want the rug to be!

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What I want to do is do a smaller, controlled experiment. Choose a specific number of pairs of jeans, say, 5 or perhaps ten and harvest the denim and create the yarn. That way, I know exactly how much will be needed to create the braids and how much it will produce as far as a rug size is concerned.

I’m also planning a very detailed tutorial, from start to finish. I guess this post is an attempt at trying to explain why lately I haven’t been able to post regularly. All the projects that I have in progress follow the same template… much too big to complete quickly or easily! And definitely too big to write about easily in a single post. ๐Ÿ™‚

But, and speaking of this blog, I do have a milestone to announce. I don’t really actively promote this blog and it was really an experiment to see if I could do this as well as learn about the technical aspects of creating, producing and maintaining a blog. Sort of helps me in my “normal” nine-to-five job. But I always am doing creative type things and if my writing and photos help or inspire someone else, then great!

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 1.54.02 PMSo, I’ve surpassed the 100,000 mark with visitors! To be honest, I thought if I could maintain the blog for a year and have 5,000 visitors, I’d be successful. Who’da thunk?

A Baby Gift When the Recipient is No Longer A Baby

By being such a prolific piecer, I tend to create quilts that take a long time to get finished. As some of you may remember, I had a huge box full of quilt tops that I had sent off to my long arm quilter (Hi Gloria!) some time ago. She had some issues with her machine (I swear I didn’t mean to break it!) but somehow in all of that, the baby that this first quilt was intended is by far no longer a baby.

A good friend and former colleague, I had made a quilt for his first daughter and she received it promptly. So even though we no longer worked together, we kept in touchish through Facebook. And when his second daughter was born, I whipped up a baby quilt complete with her name embroidered in the center. 2015-04-30 17.54.09If memory serves, I think Maxine is probably 3, maybe 4, now. But today, I finally got it completed.

2015-04-30 17.53.57 The center blocks are hearts embroidered in various shades of orange. Well, you can see that the whole quilt is a variety of shades of orange, this is the color they had picked for the nursery. And of course, the center heart has her name.

2015-04-30 17.54.40Now I just have to just have to get the address and get it sent.ย  I hope better late than never. Right?

The next one I finished today is this experiment with stars. It didn’t turn out bad, but it was an experiment for me and I really am not all that happy with the result.

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So many of the star points ended up being blunted with the next block. I really need to work on my technique. 2015-04-30 17.56.19

I love the colors in this quilt and I like the way that it shows brightly with the dark background.2015-04-30 17.56.24

It is really much too small for a bed quilt and much too dark for a baby’s quilt. I don’t really know what I will do with this one. I’ll have to think about this one.2015-04-30 17.56.34

2015-04-30 17.57.58Well, that about covers today’s projects. I’ve been working on creating the supplies for another project, it is great fun to sit and punch one inch circles out of paint chip cards. Does that spark intrigue?

And speaking of, the toy horse is still being worked on, slowly but surely. ๐Ÿ™‚

julie

A Day of Completions

So, I have tried to take the path of getting stuff done before I start anything more. I really don’t have it in me to not start stuff…but I am getting stuff done. Ha!

First, the Lego Mini-Figure shadowbox is done. Here are the little fellows sitting safely on their 2×2 blocks on the black foam core. You will note the large blank space at the bottom, this is for the pieces that will sit on the inside bottom shelf.photo 2

And here is the foam core sitting snugly inside the shadowbox frame. The glass is throwing some reflection, but you can see the pieces sitting on the bottom ledge.photo 1I have some more mini-figures that I want to add to another shadowbox, as well as a truck (Indiana Jones series) and a camper trucker as well as some small Star Wars pieces. Then I have to find wall space in the house.

The other thing that I worked on today was the preparing the remaining quilt tops for getting sent to get quilted. As you may recall, I had 51 tops (paired with their backings) that were awaiting quilting and binding, but as it would go, my quilter is hanging up her quilt hoops. So I am trying out someone new and sort of local, so I shipped her two of my quilts and see how she does. In the meantime, I am getting more ready for her. LOL

So, I did manage to get five more ready and I have four more. I don’t often piece backs, but since I have time and the fabric, I wanted to try some ideas that I had. I should be able to finish up the other four tomorrow. Then there are about four or five denim quilts that need backs and then I have at least four or five quilts that need to be finished. Of course, after that, I think that there are three, four or maybe five hundred quilts I want to make!

julie

The Big Finish… Part Uh, Four? Five? Oh, Whatever!

So, want to show off a few more quilts that I was able to finish this week. See, you don’t get anything for ten days and then you get bombarded! Sigh.

First up is a quilt I had done with something new. It was an iron-on fusible material laid out in a grid pattern. I believe it came in 1″, 1 1/2″ and 3″ grids. I purchased the 1 1/2″ grid as I thought any smaller and it would have become a bit bulky and the 3″ didn’t seem like enough challenge.

DSCN3115This required 2″ squares that sewed down into 1 1/2″. Its quite a nice cheat, you lay the pieces on the fusible and iron. Then you simply fold on each line, top to bottom and sew your seam. When all the horizontal lines are sewed, you simply press the vertical lines and sew them.

DSCN3114The only “trick” that I can share with this process is that you need to keep the seam straight and uniform or you get funky folds.DSCN3113When done, I added a border. The border didn’t seem as, oh, you know, substantial, so I simply ironed more of the same gridded stablizer. It is supposed to wash out in two to three washings, so I figure it will soften uniformly across the quilt.

DSCN3112The backing is a nice solid that when brought to the front for the binding, has a small contrast. This quilt is going to be one of those soft, broken-in lap quilt that will do nicely on the sofa.

`6 blockThis next quilt is for a friend of mine who along with his wife, welcomed a second baby into their life. I started it and completed it before sending it off to be machine quilted.DSCN3110This is what happens sometimes. When I sent them off to be quilted, I also sent about 12 or 15 more along with it. I let Gloria do them as she wanted, choosing the thread color and sewing motif or theme. Every once in a while on special quilts I’ll define this, but we sort of fell into our relationship because she wanted to try new stitch patterns and I just wanted my quilts done.

DSCN3109So, long story short, this quilt was for the new arrival of baby Maxine but now that it is done, I think the baby is about three years or so!DSCN3108The color isn’t really true for this quilt, these are very strong shades of violet or even purple. It looks more like shades of blue. But I still love the way it turned out. What I like to call 16 block inside and out!DSCN3107I can’t say that I love all my quilts. Some are downright ugly! But mostly I am pleased with the results and little things that I try and am pleased when it works out.DSCN3106Here is a standard nine patch, this time in pinks. I tend to do a lot of pink quilts for some reason, maybe because I never had a daughter of my own to be the recipient. I find that no matter the pattern or shade of pink, they all blend together beautifully.

DSCN3105So, that’s my son helping (and hiding) behind the quilts. There are a few more to be revealed in one more post.

Sometime tomorrow morning, The Kid and I are heading south, ultimately to visit The Alamo in San Antonio. We plan to just take our time and see the sights and do dumb stuff. I love that he is still willing to do things like this with his ol’ Mom.

But, that means there won’t be as many posts on this blog… maybe I will have to play a game and find fabrics that reflect the trip (where I can) along the way.

julie

Binding: How Do You Do It?

I think I’ve talked about this before, but for those new, this is an old habit (?) of mine. Every now and then I get stuck and don’t seem to have any forward momentum. When this happens I do one of two things… either I clean and organize or I jump head long into finishing up long overdue projects.

Well, over the past week and a half, I have been doing some serious finishing. I vowed to not start anything new (even though I went out and bought some new triangle templates and even some fabric. Let me just tell you that I have not bought new fabric in forEVER – at least a full year. But you also know that I have a small store of my own upstairs in my quilting room. Ha.

The guest bedroom’s bed was covered with quilts that had been quilted but needed binding. And my design wall has been covered in at least two layers of orphan and test blocks.

So, almost without a break, I have been binding and finishing quilts. And finished two orphan quilt tops.

But first…. we have to talk a little about binding. I recently posted the question about binding on a DIY site called HomeTalk about preferred methods of binding (you can see it here). As a self-taught quilt maker, I never knew exactly how to approach binding. My earliest quilts were bound by using the pre-made, pre-cut, pre-packaged binding pieces. That got costly quickly.

When I started quilting, the internet was still very much in its infancy and I guarantee that no one was talking about quilts on what was out there. It was either books or other quilt makers and I didn’t really know any quilters. So, I tried some things. First, I thought if I could fold each layer in on itself and make a seam, that would work. And it did, but seemed like a lot of work. So then I went with making the back larger and folding it over to the front. That worked much better. Sometimes I thought that I had ‘invented’ it.

Recently I posted the question about the preferred or better way to bind quilts. A serious debate ensued. I left the post with my opinion that everyone is entitled to bind their quilts in whatever way suits them.

I had come to this crossroad in a kind of funny way. See, Gloria – my long time long-arm quilter – parted ways with her equipment – and she retired. Actually, I think one of my denim quilts broke her machine and she saw it as a sign to quit! But she had a friend of hers finish what I had sent.

In the process, I think it wasn’t communicated to the newest quilter that I did the fold-over binding. You see, the quilt top needs to be centered onto the backing material or there isn’t enough material to fold over. So one of the quilts didn’t have the requisite material and I thought I would give (separate) binding method a shot. Someone in the online discussion had posted a good tutorial about how to do such binding, so I jumped in and completed this quilt in just that way.

Let’s just say that I am still not a fan. I purchased pre-fold binding and attached it to the back and then hand stitched the front. It was supposed to be invisible stitches, unfortunately my skill was somewhat lacking and invisible the stitches are not.ย  And it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to do the hand work and this was a small baby quilt. I couldn’t imagine working on some of the very large quilts I do… I think I could have been there for days!

Here is the baby quilt with the separate binding:DSCN3090

The backing is a solid pink and the binding is white, which I think gives it a nice contrast while still coordinating.

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And one more courtesy shot:

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Notice the last vestiges of our “blizzard” two days previous. I think we ended up getting like 3″ when they were predicting 2 – 3 feet of snow. Temps today reached into the low 50’s. And who said Mother Nature doesn’t have hot flashes!

Over the next week or so, The Kid and I will be doing some sightseeing. We are headed south (from Kansas City) and the ultimate destination is The Alamo in San Antonio Texas. I have uploaded all of my photos of the finished quilts and will post one every day while we’re traveling. I know I have been absent as of late, but I was just not feeling up to sitting behind a keyboard after being at the sewing machine most of the day. You understand, I know.

julie

And the Work Goes On

I can’t seem to stay on any one project for very long these days. Maybe it’s clichรฉd to say, but I think winter has dragged on for far too long. Or maybe I’ve been house bound too many days.

I continue to work on the cross stitch, seems to me that I’ve made progress, but when I stop to take photos and report, it seems so insignificant to the whole.

2015-01-21 15.59.53Been working on the top. Greens, lots and lots of greens. I know it doesn’t look like much, but this hours worth of stitching. I am determined to complete this, though. I don’t think I will start another for a while.2015-01-21 15.59.46Took a little time and completed the binding on three more quilts. I am amazed at what I found in the last box of quilts to arrive quilted… it is almost like opening a box of quilts completed by someone else. I swear, some of these I don’t hardly remember making!

On the other hand, today’s quilts, I do recall. In fact, one was supposed to be a graduation present for my The Kid. He graduated almost two years ago! LOL

2015-01-21 15.55.30That is the Staley High School Falcons and he is Class of ’13. Yep and yesterday I finally got the binding done. I actually had to get the school’s permission to use the likeness (well at least to get Kinko’s to make the printed version so I could get the outline large enough). Maybe I will just donate it to the school and then can raffle it or maybe hang it in the school or something. That’s the downside of making so many quilts.

2015-01-21 15.56.28This quilt – and the next one – are a couple of my all time favorites. Orphan Quilts. Those leftover blocks from other quilts that you just don’t know what to do with. I mean, you can’t throw them away, and just how many can you make into hot pads and and cup coasters!?

So, I tuck them away neatly in this trunk I made over and that sits in the hallway. And when I can no longer add anymore or I can’t find inspiration, I pull these out, sort them and make orphan quilts.

As you can tell, I do make a lot of pink quilts. I suppose that is because I never had a real excuse to make one (a daughter of my own). But I do love the pink and make them in abundance for other folks’ kids or grandkids.

2015-01-21 15.54.27Here’s a an honest-to-goodness Orphan Quilt. It is really kind of fun to figure out how to get these blocks together to get a good size with no gaps.ย  Much like fitting a puzzle together. I like this one as well, once the binding was done, it was really fluffy, and I can tell that this will be a warm comfortable quilt to sleep under.

I was asked today to curate a clipboard on one of the popular websites. I am going to have to research it a little to figure out how much time and energy it is going to require. Maybe I might have to go out and buy some!

julie

Putting Final Touches on a Bunch of Quilts

Since the new year, I’ve been staying out of the garage and working in my sewing room. I am drawn to doing work in the garage, but the temperatures have been hovering just above the freezing point and kerosene heater or no, it is too damned cold to be working outside. And not just for me, but for painting and staining.

I am an avid quilter. Rather, I make a lot of the quilt tops and send them off to be quilted and then returned to me and then I bind them (the outer edge). I’ve been quilting for over almost 15 years, started just before 2000 and I am betting in the time I have made at least a five hundred (or more!) quilts. In the last couple of months, I received two big boxes of quilted tops from my friend Gloria and I’ve slowly been working through them. Doing the binding, that is.

So here’s what I finished today:

DSCN3025I’ve created some of these quilt tops months – even as long as years – ago. I have almost forgotten that I’ve done some of these. This was a work in green… not much to say about it really, just a nice fun pattern that I will give to someone who likes green.

DSCN3026This was inspired by a fun little duck print. Wouldn’t this be grand for some little one? The yellows are so cheery. And the quilting pattern is little ducks too!

Did I mention that one thing I had always loved about my friend Gloria who does the quilting, she makes most of the decisions about pattern and thread color? I like to work with her, it is a real creative collaboration. It started out with her wanting to try new patterns and me wanting to not have to choose! And it has worked out well for the last decade and a half.

DSCN3029I love bold, strong colors. As a result, I also end up with a lot of great scraps (see below). Sometimes I just like to sit and cut pieces while watching old movies on DVDs (I have the complete set of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies) and then sit and sew them together. Sometimes they turn out absolutely great and sometimes they turn out ok. Once in a great while I get a dud or two, to which those are donated to the local no-kill animal shelter for the dogs to use. That way, it gets used and the puppies probably don’t care what it looks like!

DSCN3031This is a piece that I have been working on and off for years! These are strips of white cotton are cut across the width of the fabric and six inches wide. Then the strips and scraps are sewed onto them. I had 16 strips completed, so I then sewed them together. The back is just white cotton and I am debating about whether or not to layer it and quilt it or just leave it as is. I have it hanging over the landing railing, so every time I walk down the hall, I see it. And then I think about it.

And to give credit where credit is due, here is my helper, usually hidden behind the quilts. And the one who runs up and down the stairs for sodas and makes lunch for me and who helps me move the massive amount of fabric around as I bind them. And I just love him like crazy ๐Ÿ™‚

DSCN3032The guest bedroom bed has about another nine or ten quilts waiting to be bound. And of course I have projects that I’ve started that need to be completed. And I found another box of quilt tops that I need to send off to be quilted. But Gloria has decided to hang it all up and retire and now I have to find someone new.

This is gonna be difficult!

julie

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