celticdragonfly: (Wimsey - string - perfectly simple if yo)
Lesson from yesterday and today - do not attempt to do filet crochet while feverish. Just don't. I may have to start the whole thing over from scratch.

Now I am going back to work on my patchwork piecing. Squares sewn together in straight lines *seems* to be within my capabilities today.

I have twelve nine-patch blocks on this project done! That sounds good, until I reflect that I need, ideally, 50 of these. We'll see if I have enough of that fabric.
celticdragonfly: (Default)
Jamie's improving, although he is still home from school. I expect he should be back at school Monday. I hope so.

Ironically, they could have gotten him in for eye surgery last Wednesday, if he hadn't come down with the flu. Oh well, we'll wait a bit longer.

I adore the way Alanna likes to play peek-a-boo with us on the changing table, using her outfit. She'll do it on the floor with a baby blanket. I would love to get good pictures, but when I bring out the camera, she gets interested in it and doesn't keep playing peek-a-boo.

I found out there's a Saginaw's quilters group meeting weekly. No machines, they're doing hand-quilting. Oooooh. Just the sort of people I want to meet and humbly apprentice myself to. And LOCAL. And... they meet on Thursdays, 9 am until 1:30 or so. Which means I won't be able to go until... Alanna's in kindergarten, five years from now. Sigh.


Oct. 3rd, 2006 11:35 pm
celticdragonfly: (Default)
I cut the fabric into squares and did my first nine-patch block today. All hand-pieced.

I was going to write a bunch more about it, but I didn't get to it, and now I am going to go fall down and go to sleep. But I did want to note it.

[livejournal.com profile] zoethe pointed me here:

Oh my, lots of interesting stuff.
celticdragonfly: (Default)
Life continues busy. We're finding more good helpful things for Jamie - which is good, but man, it takes up a lot of my time. Two events for him this week, one next week but I think I'll try to move another one from the next week back to that, because that next week there will be three... etc.

On the frustrating side - I have a problem in the lace shawl, in the new pattern I've gotten to. It looks like I'm going to have to tink back about 4 rows to fix it. That's just over 2400 stitches. Gah. This new lace pattern is more complicated than the old - it may not work anymore for "found time" - knitting in the car, while talking to Karl, while waiting for the kids in Sunday school, etc. It may require dedicated time, which is a lot harder to get these days. Sigh, this is how things become UFOs stuffed into closets. I don't want that to happen.

And I need to get together another project that I *can* use for found time - because I'm happier and more content the more I am creating. Maybe I can get upstairs tonight and cut the squares out from the green fabrics and get them into ziplocks and start carrying them about with the tools and work on patchwork.

Quilt Pink

Sep. 30th, 2006 06:24 pm
celticdragonfly: (Dragonfairy)
Today is the day that a lot of quilt stores are participating in the Quilt Pink event - making blocks that will become quilts that will be auctioned off for the Komen foundation and breast cancer research. I'd seen an article about it in a local newspaper flyer, talking about the Azle quilt store doing it. So today I went out there to give it a try, with some of the handquilting stuff I'd just gotten in a little bag. I was pretty intimidated about going.

I found the place just fine, and sorta felt oddly out of place at first, but they were pretty welcoming. They were all machine oriented, but said sure, I could hand-do it. They gave me a kit for a block, the windblown pattern. Lots of triangles, oh cool, I got to find out how you do the seam allowance sizing for triangles, which I'd been trying to figure out. A kind lady loaned me her 7/8th marked ruler, oh I so want one of those. The kit had white fabric with white vines pattern, and a pink that had a grid pattern on it, but wavy lines - I could tell that was going to drive me nuts, so went into the pile of donated fabrics and got some pink with white polkadots instead.

(OMG the PINK everywhere! Pink fabrics, pink blocks, pink quilts, all these ladies wearing pink shirts. I kept thinking of Maggie. She would have LOVED it.)

I started hand-piecing a few, and was watching them machine piecing, and was tempted to try. One lady had said I was welcome to use her machine. I had told them how I have problems with sewing machines. I swear, they just don't like me. It used to go better. When I had [livejournal.com profile] bkseiver's really old machine, the one she got to make maternity clothes before I was born, I could mostly get it to sew. And the old antique one Jeff and I found out in California, with the bullet-shaped bobbinholder, that worked okay for me. But anything newer than 1970 seems to be risky. Totally failing to get [livejournal.com profile] kattelyn's machine to thread recently really demoralized me. I'm getting twitchier around them. But I decided to go ahead and try. The lady had it set up for me - she did have to show me that you just push a button for it to cut the thread, oops, I didn't know that. And it was just supposed to sew straight lines, how bad could it be? Yeek, it kept dethreading itself every couple of seams, or jumbling up on the back. I wasn't changing anything! They just don't like me. At one point it had me breaking down in tears, that I was going to have to go find the lady again and say it was messed up again. I went off to the bathroom for a few minutes, then went to find her. After that it settled down, and I was able to keep working.

I did eventually get it finished. My first quilt block. I figured it wasn't that good, and I was saying yeah, I figured they'd politely wait until I was gone and put it in the scrap bin... they realized it was my first block and got excited, insisted they would not scrap it, helped me iron it and took a picture of me with it. We all got little pink ribbon pins.

I'm slow, but at least I did something. Other ladies were apparently bringing in PILES of blocks, or in some cases multiple quilts. Wow.

I signed up for their mailing list. There should be a new class list out soon. I saw a neat trick - they had those cheap felt-backed tablecloths you can get at a dollar store (they said) tacked up on the wall, bottom side out, and were using them as a block-arranging area - just press the blocks up there and they mostly stayed up. Of course, this requires an unoccupied wall, but still a cool trick.

I will admit, they're kinda seducing me towards the dark side on the idea of machine piecing. I still want to do a lot of hand piecing - because I can do that on the road, on the couch with the kids, etc. But the machine piecing was kinda cool, too. I find myself wondering if I can manage to convince [livejournal.com profile] bkseiver, when she brings the fancy sewing machine in November, to JUST set it up to do straight lines, and show me how to thread it, and NOT try to teach me anything more complicated - because it's just going to get me in trouble and end up with a machine that's not working for me and a disaster. Frankly, even that might end up with a machine that doesn't work for me, but it's tempting, if I could just get a machine that would reliably sew a straight line for me...

On the way home I was struck by a design idea for a twin-size quilt for Maggie. We'll see. I need to do my first one first!
celticdragonfly: (Image out of my head)
I just came back downstairs after another session of working with the future-quilting-fabric, former-outfits.

Feeling the wear in the fabric, and thinking of what that one lady was insisting at the quilt show - yes, quilts made from these old calico outfits WILL wear out faster than brand new bought fabric. But then, since it's my first quilting, and sure to have lots of errors, I think that should be considered a feature, not a bug.

I think I'm getting faster at it all. Still slow. Cutting it all up, trimming it, ironing it. I kept reminding myself as cheerfully as I could that hey, I don't have to prewash this fabric! Having recently watched Animal House at a movie night, I started to feel like Brother Bluto trying to cheer up Flounder about his brother's wrecked car by bashing beercans with his head, and not doing much to help.

Then I started to think about what D-Day would do for a quilt... eeek.

Well, soon I should be actually cutting patches - which means I need to finally make up my mind on which size - and starting to piece. I did watch a Jinny Beyer video on patchwork. A lot of the start of it was "long involved tricks for quilters who are too scared to do the math", which did not feel relevant, but I did learn some useful things.
celticdragonfly: (a floralish dragonfly)
Okay, lemme start out with what will be my Standard Quilting Disclaimer.

Standard Quilting Disclaimer - pls read before commenting )

So, that having been said - I went out today and picked up the few supplies I needed. At Hobby Lobby I got quilting needles, a fabric marker, a 6 1/2 template square/ruler, and they had a pvc lap quilting frame on clearance, so I got that. They didn't have everything I wanted, so I called Karl to get the address and went to the Cabbage Rose, a local quilting store. Luckily Jamie fell asleep in the car, so I put him in the umbrella stroller and he stayed asleep in the store. At the Cabbage Rose I got a 25 mm Olfa rotary cutter, like the one I used to have that has vanished on me, and a leather thimble. I found out they have arrangeable classes on hand-piecing, but the arrangeable does not include Saturdays, sadly, and being a stay at home mom pretty much means weekdays business hours are impossible. Well, I'll just keep working on it myself from [livejournal.com profile] msminlr's advice and my reading.

I came home, and managed to carve out a little time to go after the fabric. I got the three calico shalwar kameez outfits [livejournal.com profile] bkseiver made me lo, those many years ago, and took them into the study. Darn, it's hard to cut into those. I love the fabric, and I love them. I love the detailed work Mom did, and the fantastic buttons she found. (which are being saved) It's a testament to her work that when they wore out at stress points, it was NOT her seams that went, it was the adjacent fabric. I had to remind myself sternly that they are unwearable now, and I want to use them to keep that fabric I love in use, not cluttering up my closet.

So I started cutting into the top and pants of the light blue pair. The top is a mottled light blue print, and the pants are a solid light blue - close enough that I may want to use them with the teal top instead, they may be too close to each other for proper contrast. They are now all cut into panels, seams cut off, and the panels ironed. Ready to be cut into squares. Yes, there's more work in having to cut up the outfits - but the fabric price is great, and lots of sentimental value. And hey, I don't have to prewash the fabric.

What I *want* to do next is start cutting them into squares and start piecing. I'm thinking maybe I should cut up the other outfits first, then get ALL the squares done, so I can consider other combinations of colors in the ninepatch blocks.
celticdragonfly: (a floralish dragonfly)
Ow. My legs and feet are sore. And I'm *tired*. It's been a while since I spent oh, 2 1/2 to 3 hours walking and standing nonstop. Yes, I'm in bad shape, I know this.

[livejournal.com profile] selenite and I took the kids and went to see a quilt show here in Fort Worth.

It was very interesting, and I saw a lot of beautiful and fascinating quilts. Maggie got to take part in the kids' Treasure Chest search - she got a list of elements to find in quilts, and had to write down the number of a quilt that had each item. Well, we did, anyway, she's not up to the writing part, and we mostly had to point out the elements for her. But still she enjoyed that, and got to pick a prize - she got herself a little rainbow plastic zipper purse. We didn't win any door prizes, and I didn't bid on any of the small silent auction quilts, although there were some very nice ones.

However, I was really hoping that the whole thing would be more inspiring and less of a downer for me. Honestly, the displays were inspiring, the merchant section was the downer. I want to get into quilting. I've wanted to for years. Various members of my family have done quilting. (In fact, somewhere there's a half-finished cat quilt [livejournal.com profile] bkseiver was going to do for me to take to college...I still want it, Mom!)

Every time I've tried to learn more, I've gotten mostly more discouraged. (Well, not every time. [livejournal.com profile] msminlr was encouraging. And I need to get over the rest of the intimidation and just go with what she said, I swear.) Most people keep talking about doing fancy modern stuff with paper piecing and how important it is to get the seams exactly right, and you know, you get it just a little wrong the whole thing will pucker - and sheesh, people, do not start me off with Mt. Everest! Give me a hill! The perfect becomes not only the enemy of the good, but the enemy of the possible. I keep saying to myself "darn it, they used to do this in covered wagons with fabric, needle, thread, scissors. Maybe a ruler if they were lucky." And then I go off and give up for months to years again, because it sounds too important to get it perfect and I don't think I can.

And everything is SO machine-oriented. I don't have a working sewing machine right now. And I'm terribly intimidated by them. Hand me a complex lace and cables knitting pattern, no problem. Weaving with sewing thread, no problem. Sewing machines, those make me tense and unhappy. Threading [livejournal.com profile] kattelyn's relatively simple machine totally defeated me recently. [livejournal.com profile] bkseiver is bringing her old machine to me in November - which is NOT relatively simple - and I'm terribly afraid the training session is going to go by at what feels like 90mph, and then she'll say "see, it's easy!", which it probably would be to anybody but me, and then after she leaves I'll stare at the terrifying machine in horror, try to use it, and be unable to thread it or adjust the tension.

I was looking at some kits there - but it was all very machine-oriented. And the plans horrified me. Lay stacks of fabric together, use this paper stuff, sew on the dotted lines, then cut here, and unfold, and hey, it's two triangles into a square! (diamonds into something else, really) And you just throw away the rest of that fabric? Throw it away? Doesn't that go against the whole POINT? And I was being advised against using existing material from clothes, which I want to do - okay, admittedly by merchants who SELL fabric, so that's easy to take with a grain of salt. And hearing the bedturning (bedturning explanation) ) with the lady talking about "utility quilts" made from recycled fabrics for household usage as if it was something bad... well, overall I came to the realization that my problem is I was born 100 years too late.

I want to use traditional old-fashioned piecework patterns, make "utillity quilts" that will get used on beds, not artistic wall-hangings. I want to use calicos that I like, especially the now-defunct calico outfits I had [livejournal.com profile] bkseiver make for me years back. (And I still want more of those someday...) I'm interested in hand-piecing, and it's not because I'm a "purist" really - it's partially that I have so much trouble with sewing machines, partially because hand-piecing I can do on my lap while in the room with kids, travelling, at cons, etc, and partially because the whole wasting fabric quick methods make me twitch. I'd like to learn hand-quilting too, because sending it off to stores with huge quilting machines seems so impersonal, and I'd rather do it myself - but I'm afraid of doing bad sloppy stitches and getting negative reactions from people who matter to me.

I need to draw up my courage, get a new rotary cutter (and pray I can use it properly), get those old calico garments onto the crafts table and cutting mat, and cut a bejeesus load of little squares, and start trying to hand-piece nine-patch blocks. And just pile them up, and eventually figure out what I can do with them - maybe pick another nice fabric and make a double-ninepatch top. And just try it. And if there's not enough to make a bed quilt, well, I don't know. I can always make a crib one. And no, probably it won't come out even, and some of the ninepatches totally won't match others, and okay, fine, it would at least be doing something.

Lynette's coming over tonight, and she used to do quilting, so I'll pick her brain. But I'm also tossing out a couple of questions to quilters on my flist - [livejournal.com profile] msminlr and [livejournal.com profile] bkseiver, I particularly mean you, although I expect there's others.
  1. How big should the squares that go into a nine-patch block be?
  2. Do you use "quilting thread" for piecing? If not, what?
  3. I know you use "betweens" for quilting (although HOW? they're so short), what type of needle do you use for hand piecing?
  4. Any hints for ways to figure out if you have a 1/4" seam allowance on hand-piecing?

I probably won't start this any time soon. FenCon is next weekend, and I'm totally not prepared for it. The house is a mess and laundry is behind. (I am SO not a domestic kind of person. I'm an artist, darn it.) Sock Wars starts next Friday too, and will suck up a lot of my time until I get wiped out of the competition. But still, I'm going to find ways to start (pardon the phrase) piecing this into my time.


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