Friday, April 17, 2015

Getting Organized

It's always been a challenge to keep track of the needle I'm using in my sewing machine; I've written on cards, only to misplace the card, I've used magnetic boards but the needle slips to a different space. I change my needles often but sometimes I'm only using it a short time and it still has some good life left in it....What to do.
First, I gathered all the needles I use. I typed the needles/sizes in around size 14 font and printed them on a fabric sheet....ready to run through the printer.
I then ironed fusible web on the back of the printed fabric and cut out each strip. Using an iron, I pressed them onto an oversize pincushion. I divided each section of the cushion into 2 parts.
The little pin/button at the top of the cushion I use to mark the section of the needle I'm currently using. When I take the needle out of the machine and it needs to go back, it goes where the pin/button is sticking. It solved my problem of not knowing what needle I'm using and where to store it when not in use. I know there are lots of good systems out there for storing needles, but this works for me...
Happy sewing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lake and Mountain Quilt Guild

This past week, while my daughter and granddaughter were here, I took a 2 day break to teach in South Carolina - a lecture and workshop. As much as I hated leaving my gals (and guys), it was a nice break to stay in a Hampton Inn all by myself with my Kindle and a glass of wine. I also had the wonderful opportunity to have a mini reunion with a group I used to belong to - Focus group. Our dinner came to an end way too soon and so much more to be shared, but it was the best! On to the lecture which I gave on Ink Jet Printing on Fabric which is always fun as I love the technique and enjoy talking about it. The workshop the next day was filled with 20 wonderfully talented and enthusiastic women. We were doing Shaded Florals which involved using a pattern (their choice of 3 available), doing basic appliqué (straight or zigzag stitch) and shading it with Shiva paintsticks.  The shading and the different ways to use the paintsticks was the basis of the workshop.
 I managed to snap pics of a few pieces...many were busy at their machines and I couldn't get pictures.
 I really liked the wonderful background choices for their pieces - lots of interest without being overpowering.
 I didn't think to take a picture until the end of the day when many were leaving or already packed up but you can get an idea of the beautiful pieces these ladies were doing. I'm hoping they'll send me a picture of their finished piece which I promised to share on my blog.
 One of the gals - Pat Kerko, didn't want to use the Shiva paintsticks and brought along a product called Luminarte.  I had not heard of them and wanted to find out more to share. They have a website which is hard to use so I went to Amazon and had great luck. They are in a powdered form - beautiful colors and what looked to be mostly metallics.
 A teeny, tiny amount was mixed with an acrylic medium in a small paint tray (white tray on left). They were highly concentrated. By mixing them with a medium, this made them permanent. They were the consistency of the medium making them easy to use and control.
 Pat made herself a sampler of the colors which is always a good idea - no guessing that way, although the colors in powder form look the same when mixed with medium (which is not always the case).
 You can see where a small area has been done.- to the right of the yellow. The color is strong and concentrated so they could probably be thinned quite a bit.
 Pat uses a Fantastix stick (I've purchased them from Dharma Trading) which is good for blending.
Q - tips will also work well.
You can see the pretty effect of the Luminartes around the yellow "tongue" of the Iris. I am definitely going to look into these. I am linked to Off the Wall Friday and Whoop, Whoop Friday.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Crazier Than Usual Week

This has been a wild and crazy week...more than the usual craziness - but fun, I have to say... BIG FUN. My granddaughter was here and we planned lots of holiday activities starting with an Easter bunny cake. I used to do these "cut-up-cakes" with my students many, many years ago.

The coloring of Easter eggs....and wearing
 the princess dress from Frozen....at Christmas it was the Angel wings.
 Our Easter egg hunt was the next day - plastic eggs filled with little treasures. Audrey loved looking for the eggs; the treats were secondary...this might be a good idea for future treasure hunts.
 And the beloved Easter basket;...one does tend to forget after 30 years of not doing one HOW MUCH GRASS IS IN THEM and HOW IT GETS ALL OVER THE PLACE ...whew...I'm still finding bits of it...kinda like Christmas tree needles!
 We visited the Nature center and brushed the goats....also danced at Mellow Mushroom while eating pizza, went downtown to our favorite shoe store - Topps....and I had a 2 day teaching trip to South Carolina in between everything...whew....My daughter asked me what I was going to do this weekend after they left...my answer...without hesitation....SLEEP!
 We did manage to get in a crafty project for a friend of my daughter's who's having a baby. My daughter and I made a mobile for Audrey's room when she was first born....little fabric birds, sitting on twigs that floated around. Her friend Emily wanted the same thing so we were off and running....first the fabric which Emily picked out to go with the room colors of yellow, coral and gray.
 One of the main fabrics was from the fairytale - "The Princess and the Pea" which became part of the birds and also a pillow for the room. Jill bought extra to make pillowcases for Audrey's bed...but that's another post.
 Here are the birds which are still being attached with fishing line. They are mighty cute when suspended from the ceiling and gently float around....
 The front of the pillow....
and the back which I like better and would probably use as the front...Anyway, everyone is gone, the house is reasonably quiet, my hubby helped me get it all straightened out after they left and life is back to normal....so maybe I'll start another quilt...hmmmm...sounds like a plan (a very good plan) to me.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter

However you celebrate Easter, I wish you a joyous and beautiful day. We have our granddaughter coming the day before and being 2 years old, I know she'll get a thrill out of our Easter decorations
 First there's the egg tree in the family room..
 ceramic bunnies my mother made close to 40 years ago...


 cloth bunnies my mom made for my daughter when she was a toddler (she is now 38)
and more ceramic pieces to hold jellybeans. These things are so precious to me as they come from my moms heart and hands. She's been gone for 24 years but these wonderful things keep her with us.
And as I posted last time...some cute little Easter things...Holidays are so much fun when you have a tiny person with so much joy and innocence to share them with...
Happy Easter, Happy Spring to all of you - my readers and friends.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Red, White and Blue

Our annual PTA Retreat has come and gone - and it was great fun - but now I have to finish the projects in progress -  not nearly as much fun as when you're sewing in a group of ten fun loving gals... I was only at retreat for 2 days but had all pieces pre-cut so it speeded things up. I did a larger version of this design in Indigo and white....to see it, go to previous post. For this smaller version I used an Indigo print that was much lighter and needed a dark blue strip to edge it. 

I finally sewed it together this week and added the borders...but started to think that a tiny strip of red might "zing it up a bit.
 So I emailed my good buddy to get another opinion...
 And Mary loved the one with the touch of red...
 as opposed to the one without. I guess I need a little nudge to steer me in the right direction. I was totally down the middle and sometimes being so close to something doesn't help in decision making.
So here is the finished top...still needing to be quilted but I've decided to hold off until I can set up on my deck outside in the fresh air and do some sewing then. So far, I have 5 quilts ready to go...It's going to be a busy summer...
I am linked to Off the Wall Friday and Whoop, Whoop Friday...Be sure to check out these great sites which will link you to others and what they are doing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Handy Hubby

My husband is very talented and has always been a woodworker (as a hobby). He has made at least half of the furniture in our house. He's worked a lot in hardwoods over the years but has turned his talents towards the more weathered look (at my request). He doesn't use a pattern, just draws what he wants, takes measurements of the space and dives in.
He just finished this piece that fits in a corner in our kitchen/family room area.
This kind of furniture with all the distressing is harder to do than a finished cherry piece. To distress it to the point where it doesn't look manufactured is a difficult task. I'm still playing with what to put on the shelves...trying out different looks.
The bottom shelf for now is a designated Easter shelf...My granddaughter who arrives on Saturday will love it.
I've also been working on the guest room upstairs...hubby came through again and made some pieces for the room...painted with different colors and then weathered and distressed to bring it down to underneath layers of color. The look is great....Just got them set up so I'm not finished fixing them yet but it's been great fun.  
This piece he made a while back for the adjoining bathroom but it was the basis for the other two pieces.
He also made a shelf in the same style. To decorate, I used lots of Raku, an old wood plane etc..the top shelf still needs work.
And a side view....You can really see the distressing - It's a great look for this room.
Down in his workshop, he decided to build a cabinet to hold his very best tools. He had seen something like this a a woodworking magazine. Over the years, he's treated himself to some wonderful planes and chisels but never had a good place to keep them. Apparently there's an art to storing good tools just like we have our unspoken rules for storing quilting supplies
The doors open to display and hold many tools....quite heavy but my husband used piano hinges down the length for strength.
 And closed....
How clever is he and lucky I am to have him....Love you dear hubby!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

And the Results

Off the subject for a moment, in my last post, I was mentioning the drainer type plastic things we used to do the microwave ice dyeing. Kate bought them at the dollar store, so off I went this morning to find them. Lo and behold, they were right in the front - paper plate holders. Since I don't use paper plates, I never made the connection. A pack of 4 for $1.00 so 16 should do me for a while and such pretty colors. If you're interested in trying this, these work very well.
Back on track, I finally washed out my fabrics from our Mondays meeting with Fiber Junkies. I used the washing machines "rinse cycle" to rinse them first in cold water.  I then washed them in hot water with synthrapol. I was happy with the results although some pieces are so busy, I'm at a loss as to how to use them. I'm hoping to have a mini brainstorming session with these girlfriends to get some ideas. 
 This piece used 3 colors of dye and 2 layers of fabric. If you read Mary S blog, she explained it a little better. A soda ash treated piece of fabric was laid on bottom of bowl (see piece below), then a plastic drain on top of that and then the second layer of fabric with ice and dye. As the ice melted, the dyes would strike the top fabric and eventually drip on down to the fabric on the bottom.
 The bottom fabric has the same colors but a softer look.
 This piece I really liked.....again very busy but I love the colors.
 This one was our imitation of Gens (previous post) we all fell in love with and had to do ourselves.
 This one used 3 colors including "Watermelon" - a dye color Kate brought and was anxious to try...pretty and it really does look like watermelon.
And Yes....the good old clean up rag...sometimes it's great, sometimes not. This is prettier here than in person, has lots of dye powder dots on it but maybe I'll do something over it....still so much fun not knowing what you'll get...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Microwave Ice Dyeing

Our Fiber Junkies group met on Monday at my home to do some microwave ice dyeing. Kate and Denny had worked out all the kinks, brought the oversized microwave and bowls and prepared the way for us. Needless to say, everything used was strictly for creating art...It was a beautiful day and we could work on the deck as well as the studio. Excitement filled the air as we prepared for the first piece "to go in the oven". 
  A plastic type drainer (purchased at the dollar store) was placed in the bottom of a microwaveable  bowl so the fabric would not be sitting in liquid at the end of the process. Most of us used a mercerized broadcloth cotton which was soaked in a solution of soda ash first....next step - to scrunch it up and place on top of the drainer in the bowl.
 Next came the ice. Denny brought a great ice crusher - think it was called a Ninja. It used a pulsating action giving you a variety of sizes of ice - most of the time a few seconds did the trick.
 A layer of ice was placed on top of the fabric, both crushed and very small cubes.
 Next came the powdered dye - protecting ourselves with a mask and rubber gloves, we used a plastic spoon to sprinkle dye over the top of the ice....generally speaking 2 - 3 colors seemed to work well.
 Here is color # 2....
 and the third color.
 The container was then covered with a lid or plastic wrap and nuked for around 4 mins give or take. If the ice had not fully melted, it was nuked a little more. As the ice melted, the dyes would strike the fabric, so it was important that all the ice melted.
 Here is one "hot out of the oven" being rinsed in the sink. If you try this, a good idea to allow everything to cool down for a spell as it can be quite hot.
 And another beauty...
 I think we had some good results. The fabrics shown have just been rinsed and not washed in synthrapol so final results are not in yet. We all promised to bring them to the next meeting.
 This one we all drooled over, we then had to go and do the same colors for ourselves.
 Val has such an eye for color; we all marvel at what she does.
 and the finished piece.
 Mary overdyed some peach colored wool..I liked the results after rinsing......will be interesting to see how wool handles this type of technique.
On a lighter note, Val's long hair kept getting in the way so a grocery bag made a great tie back...we quilters are so good at improvising.
We also had a fabulous Show and Tell...we missed our February meeting due to bad weather so we had a lot of catching up to do. More on that in the next post....
Til next time. I am linked to Off the Wall Friday and Whoop, Whoop Friday.