Saturday, May 30, 2009

The science of color.

After spending the day in a workshop of 15 quilters and lead by Joen Wolfrom from Washington State, my brain is pooped. Thinking of color parings, color tone, color tint and greyed colors. It's hard to keep them all straight.

Funny how you just know what color combinations you like and don't like. Actually, Joen has studied colors for many years and has published a number of books on color. There are definite matches and mis-matches and she went through lots of color and value combinations that we put together in groups. We used her color grouping methodology and used her color tool that I referred to in my blog yesterday. So this tool is now definitely on my must buy list.

Tomorrow, Day 2 of our class is on luminosity and lustre. I think that is what I'm most looking forward to.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A workshop with Joen Wolfrom

I have my prune bag packed with fabric and all things quilty. I'm ready to roll.

See, this weekend, I'm attending a quilting lecture style workshop with a bunch of my quilting friends in Saint John. Our famous teacher and author, Joen Wolfrom will be sharing her insight with us about color.

Joen has had teaching engagements all over the world and is an expert in lighting up your quilts with color. When these highly specialized quilt teachers come from afar, to a city near us, it's a great opportunity to grow our skills.

This 2 day workshop is a lecture style workshop, we still have to bring many shades of a couple of colors of fabrics. But there's no sewing. We also have to bring paper, scissors, colored pencils and glue. It sounds like fun. Actually it sounds like my grand kids would love it too!

One of the interesting tools that I see that Joan has authored/created, is the 3 n 1 color toolkit. I hope she uses this tool throughout the weekend. I think this would be a great help if one knew how to use it.

I'll have photos of paper quilts to show you late on Sunday.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tutorial - How to make an Ipod/MP3 bag

I developed this little pattern a few years ago to solve a problem I had with carrying a few little things to and from the gym. In particular, it was my Ipod and earbuds that were constantly getting tangled.

This little green bag is probably too pretty to be taking to the gym, but it can be used for other things too. Perhaps a gift bag for something small and special. Embellish with embroidery or a folded flower like this one by Karencilla.

This is my original bag that I made to go to the gym. I embroidered it with my true sentiment. I'd rather be quilting than at the gym.
Beware, there are buttonholes in this project. But this is a perfect little project to practice them if you're not familiar with your machine.

Project requirements for a bag that finishes just a little larger than 6" x 6".

1 piece fabric 8.5 " x 14"
1 piece 30" rattail or cording
1 spring cord keeper

If your fabric will fray easy, surge or zig zag around the 4 edges of your fabric. If you want to embroider on your bag, do it before you start the buttonholes.

Along one of the long edges, fold over about 2 inches to the wrong side. Iron down lightly. This will be the top of your bag.

You will need to make 8 small button holes approximately 3/4 inch down from the top, spaced out evenly along this long folded edge. Ensure that your first and last button hole are 2" inches in from the short side. The buttonhole only needs to be big enough to slip the cord through.
Open up the buttonholes with a sharp seam ripper. String the cording in and out of the buttonholes starting and ending on the right side of the fabric.

Now, fold the 2 short ends together, with right sides together, ensuring that the loose ends of the cord is not near the short sides of the fabric.

With right sides together, pin the the short sides matching top and bottom. Bring the loose ends of the cord out of the inside top, so you don't stitch them in the side seam by mistake. Since there are button holes 2 inches in, you'll have to be careful and open up as best you can, and pin the seam. Stitch 1/4" along this short side.

Move the seam to one side and fold down the top. The cord is still coming out the top.

Now, slip on the spring closure. Don't miss this step, you will not be able to put the spring closure on after this point.

Move the 2 ends of the cord, inside, down to the bottom corner of the bag, near the seam you just finished. The ends will stick out a little bit.
Pin in place so that the two ends of the cord are securely in the bottom corner of the bag.
Stitch along the bottom of the bag. When you start your seam, take a few back and forth stitches over the cord to secure it in. This is the only place that the cords are sewn in.

Finished. Turn the bag right side out.

To close the bag, just slide the spring closure up the bag.

The ends of the cord are sewn into the bottom of the bag, so that you can hang this bag on the door or hook. It fits nice into the cup-holder of the treadmill or elliptical at the gym.

Here are three bags I made for some little girls to put their little treasures in. They were made out of soft fuzzy fabric and were embroidered with girly designs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't you love Batiks!

Don't you just love bali and batik fabric. I've never made a project out of just bali batiks. But the Friday girls are working on a project where we'll make components of a table runner, swap some components and do the final construction and borders in our own way. We're only doing our block swaps in September and our projects will be completed after the swap. It's early, but I've dug through my stash to find my batiks. I wasn't sure I had enough, so I bought a few pieces this week to add to my collection. Here are my fabrics. It's more than we really needed, but maybe I'll make 2 projects. I wonder what the other Friday girls fabrics will look like. I'll show you my final project in September.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Crazy Quilting - 1/6th inch hole punch

Some months ago, I came upon Shawkl's blog and she is documenting crazy quilting stitches. Actually, she's making them up and is using some basic templates. I got all excited and bought some quilters template plastic. My search for a small small hole punch so I could do up some of these templates, was unsuccessful.

Today, I was at Michael's Craft store and I was browsing through the scrap booking department and since Shawkl has posted a new template in the past few days, the hole punch was top of mind again. I asked a clerk for help finding the small hole punch. She was helpful and walked me to a few places around the store, and then we came upon it quite by accident. The young clerk said, "I didn't know we had those!" I was so happy to have finally put my hands on one. With my coupon it was about $7.00. See how small that punch is. The hole should be just big enough to put a pencil mark in. I'm now going to gear up again to make some templates and practice some of Shawkl's stitches.

If you are handy to me, you can borrow it anytime to try it out. Just ring, ping, or knock.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I shot a hummer

We spent our first night at the cottage last night. We puttered around planting pole beans, daisies, and morning glories. I thought it was a bit cool to make sugar water for the humming birds but I said, let's give it a try. So we cooked up the syrup, let it cool a bit and hung it out. I'm sure it was less than half an hour before I heard the familiar wizzz of a hummer. I was lying on the deck enjoying a bit of late afternoon sun, and I just smiled to myself.

I can't tell you how much time I've spent over the past 5 years, with my camera pointed at that darn feeder trying to get a perfect picture. Well, today, I did get a picture of this little cutie, but she was on the other side of the feeder. Do you see her wing?

Here's my recipe for hummer nectar.

2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup white sugar

Mix together and let it cool.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Butter Tarts

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love kitchen things. I've had a few quilting functions to attend this week, so I thought I'd try to make a batch of mini butter tarts using my new mini-tart pan. I did do a bit of research to find a good recipe. What I also found out was, that butter tarts are a Canadian treat. I remember when I was young, we only ever got Butter Tarts from the Vachon Cake man. They came in a pack of two.

So, years later when I was married and a mother to young kids, I tried making them, and they're as easy as pie to make.

My results were good and bad. They tasted really good, but they stuck to the pan really bad. I had to dig them out of the pans and they looked bad enough that I couldn't use them for my meeting treats. So, they'll be house treats. Also, I'm disappointed that my new mini-tart pan is too big to soak in the sink. Here is the recipe that I used from the Joy of Baking website. Next time, I'll use a regular size tart pan.

I won't be using this pan again anytime soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

She's here - my new Juki TL-98Q

I've been waiting for 2 weeks for this little baby to come in. Look how shiny it is.

This Juki TL-98Q is my third sewing machine. I have 2 Pfaff's that are both creative models and have lots of fancy stitches. One of them is an embroidery machine. I don't do much embroidery, but for the little jobs that I do, I really like having it. My other Pfaff is a 1980's model and I really like having it and will take it to the cottage for small projects and workshops.

Anyway, I set up my new Juki in the kitchen to try it out. It's certainly not a fancy machine. It really has that industrial look and feel. It's solid and heavy. You have to screw out a screw to change presser feet rather than snap in the feet like on my Pfaff. I'm willing to live with it :)

This Juki will now probably be my main machine for piecing and quilting. It only does straight stitch. It does stitch fast if you want it too. I put pedal to the metal to see how quick and it's quick! I do intend to go slow for a bit. This machine has a big throat so I can roll up those quilts and have a bit more play when squishing into the center to do the quilting.

My first impressions are really good. I love the little side table that comes with it.

It has a bit of a trap door that you can change the bobbin without removing the table. The quarter inch foot, is a bit weird, but I sewed with it, and I like it. I' measured a few seams and it's a perfect quarter inch. This weekend, I'm going to pick a pattern that uses strips and sew some together to get the feel of the machine.

So far, I really like it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Blog update

I'm a little behind in my blogging. The house is quiet now. Just a few hours ago, the sewing machines were buzzing, and the house was full of our final last push to get our weekends worth of sewing quota done. I had my nose to the machine sewing, and I didn't get any pictures, but my sister did, so I'll let my sister blog about our efforts. I can tell you one thing, I'M POOPED, but so glad to have a new much shorter to-do list.

This past week was full of exciting things. We attended the Barkers Point School BUGZ concert. I loved the concert and how confident the kids are at performing.

We had baby Aurora over for a visit and she gets funnier and funnier with every visit. If you say, "Did you Toot?" She laughs, and thinks that's so funny. We think it's funny too. Here she is giving Grace many many kisses.

We got to our cottage and did Phase I of opening the cottage. That means, dragging dry good to the cottage, starting up the fridge, wiping out the cupboards, washing the windows, putting up the good curtains, washing out the fridge, sweeping and vacuuming out the dead bugs around the windows, and starting up the water pump. Well, the very last step, starting up the water, revealed 3 pipe breaks in the cottage and one outside. Nothing major that a local plumber couldn't fix within a couple of days.

Phase II was yard work. The annual spring flood left a line of debris, and our wood pile in a straight line across our property. You can see that the wood pile settled right in front of the kids cottage. The second picture shows the flood line of lake litter that goes smack through my favorite little garden. The lily's are poking up through the litter.

Thanks to the help of family, this is now all cleaned up. My friend Linda H. gave me some hostas for my shade garden and they all got planted and I can't wait to see them next week when they start to unfurl their leaves.

We're looking forward to the the final phase III of cottage opening, which is making beds and scrubbing floors and filling the fridge with summer refreshments. Then let the relaxing begin.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Weekend Visitors

My sister and brother-in-law are coming for a visit. They'll be here later today. Donna and I have some special projects that we are going to sew over the weekend. I'll report in a couple of days.

First Fiddleheads of the year!

Yesterday, I stopped by a roadside car stand to buy my first feed of fiddleheads of the year. Some of you may not be familiar with fiddleheads, but they are a delicate fern that is local to New Brunswick. If you cut them off before they fern out, they are a local delicacy. Since they are the first of the short growing season, I paid $3. a pound. When they get plentiful, like next week, I bet I'll be able to buy them for $1.50 a pound. In three weeks or less, they'll be gone.

It turns out, I didn't cook supper last night, because I was going to our quilt guild's closing pot-luck supper. So my hubby cooked salmon and fiddleheads for himself and I enjoyed a very nice pot luck supper. Yippee, there were 2 fiddlehead dishes on the table. I tried them both. Yum.

So, tonite, we're having cream of fiddlehead soup. This recipe comes from Monica Washburn when she submitted it to our our Quilt Guild's year 2000 cookbook, "Put this on your Dresdin Plate" Too. which was a sequal to our first cookbook "Put this on your Dresdin Plate".

I'll share the recipe with you for those who are going out daily to get your feed of fiddleheads.

Fiddlehead Soup

1/2 cup chopped cooked fiddleheads
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp chopped onion
2 chicken bouillon cubes
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 cups milk
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt.

Cook and chop fiddleheads. Dissolve chicken cubes in boiling water. Melt butter and saute onions until tender. Blend in flour, paprika, mustard and salt. Gradually stir in milk and chick bouillon water and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Add fiddleheads. I think I'll add a cubed potato to my soup.

Tomorrow night, with a small bbq'd steak, we'll have the rest of the fiddleheads, just steamed with lots of butter, salt and pepper.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Knee Problems

Well, it's official. The visit to the doctor today, confirms that I have one old knee. It's a creaky problematic knee. "Could be a bit of arthritis" she said. "What? Arthritis?" I said, "Isn't that for old people?" She smiled nicely and raised her eye brows.

So it's my left knee that's been giving me problems. I now have a strategy to minimize the pain, and time will tell if it's effective. But I'm sure glad that it's not my right knee. I need that one to operate the knee thing on my new Juki sewing machine when I get it next week.

Speaking of knees. A couple of weeks ago, I was lying in bed listening to the local news at 7am. Apparently, the radio DJ was speaking the day before, on air, about his knee problems. See he had received a new Wii-Fit and after using it a few times, he ended up with knee problems. He called his problem a wii-knee. Well, I guess his comments about his wii-knee were met with lots of teasing which left him trying to explain himself the next day. I thought that was so funny.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Maritime Beauty Table Mat

Two weeks ago, I attended a class that Karen Neary taught. She is a well known Canadian quilt teacher and designer, who lives in nearby Nova Scotia. This class is called the Maritime Beauty. She has done many variations using just 2 blocks and if you go to her galleries on her website, you can see the various colorations.

I'm not a fan of paper piecing, but for those times when you need sharp perfect points as in this project, it's truly the answer and it is pretty quick. Ten years ago, I made a double wedding ring quilt, and I was SICK of doing curves after I finished that project, which dragged on for over a year. So so when my double wedding ring was complete, I swore I would never never do curves again. Well never has arrived and I found myself doing these simple curves in Karen's class. They were actually no trouble at all and obviously, I made a mountain out of a molehill all these years. In Karen's class, I admitted to myself I didn't mind doing small projects with curves. {You know, they say admitting your problem, is the first step to recovery :)}

The fabrics that I used for my Beauty were mostly in a bag of scraps that I had for a long time. I thought I'd use up the majority of these scraps, only to find out, that I could make 10 more Beauties like this with what I have left over. But I am not going to do that. I am going to make another Maritime Beauty in more organized colors. I just don't know what... maybe Christmas colors, or fall colors, or maybe the yellow and black one that is shown in Karen's gallery. I'll decide later.

I haven't quilted or bound this Beauty yet. I am going to wait for my new Juki and this will be my first piece that I machine quilt with it. Watch for an update in about 10 days.

Thanks for helping me get over my curves phobia Karen!!

Happy Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day to all mothers out there. I have 3 daughters who are mothers. It's a very important job and they are all excellent mothers and I admire them all for that.

It just so happens all three are home on Saturday to bring Mothers Day wishes. So we cooked them a nice turkey supper and that means 12 around the table. What fun, we're searching out chairs, stools, benches. We've dug out the wine glasses, and the special cutlery. Since we're heading into the summer season, this will probably our last turkey supper until the fall.

"What's for desert?" you might ask. I love it when I get the occasion to use my beautiful trifle dish. It looks like an oversize wine glass. I made my light version of this chocolate trifle from the Kraft Canada website. My trifle looks every bit as good as theirs. Here's a picture of mine. I used chocolate pudding made with skim milk, light chocolate cake made with applesauce instead of oil, and light whipped cream. I used only 2 skor bars instead of 4, so I saved half of those calories.


Friday, May 8, 2009

New Sewing Machine

After much thought, research, humming and hawing.... I finally decided on a new sewing machine.

I have been all over the board since March we decided I would buy a new sewing machine. At first I thought I'd buy a new Pfaff embroidery/sewing machine and sell my old one. Well, it turns out these things de-value like mad and I wouldn't get a quarter of what I paid for my older one. So selling my old machine is not likely. I researched just buying a new fancy sewing machine. I love a Pfaff machine because of the even-feed foot and I went to check out the current models. I found the mid-range models far and few between. They either had very entry level machines or very high end ones. I did spend a couple of hours sewing on on the new Pfaff Expression 4.0 at my LQS. I did like this machine, but I found that I had a lot of it's capability in my old Pfaff embroidery machine. I found it was a bit fussier as to what pre-wound and regular bobbins it used. The cost was quite a bit more than I wanted to spend on a regular sewing machine.

So my thoughts went back to a video that I saw that Sharon Schamber did last year. A video on how she does her machine quilting on a domestic. I'm not sure how well known she is, but she's famous to me and I've admired her work for some time now. She has won many many prizes for her free-motion quilting and teaches machine quilting both on a domestic machine and on a longarm. When I saw what she was using, a Juki, I did some research and soon realized, that it's a great machine for 98% of what I do. Piecing, straight stitch sewing, and machine quilting. It turns out that every manufacturer has a model that is a similar high speed straight stitch machine.

Nobody that I know has one of these type of larger throat machines so I feel like the lone ranger. With the help of this new-to-me local dealer, I felt comfortable with my decision, and I ordered it today.

I'm so excited, I'm now going to re-organize my sewing room in preparation for Juki's arrival next week.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ladybug Season

Last week, if you follow my sisters blog, she showed you the first ladybug of the season. Well, here in New Brunswick the ladybugs have just come out here.

Mitchell (who is making a face) and Caitlin and their friend Madison are going to be ladybugs in the school choir concert early next week. So this week, I made some ladybug costumes for them just in time for the dress rehearsal.

Grace is in the choir too but she decided not to take part in this ladybug performance.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Free-Motion sampler

I read other quilters blogs who do free motion quilting so well. Granted they have long arm machines, but still it does take skill, and lots of practice. I'm determined that I want to be able to do free-motion on my domestic and continue to watch others as they develop more intricate work.

I think I took my first class in free motion about 8 years ago. I keep picking away at doing samplers. I can do stippling until the cows come home. But now it's time to move on to other things.

Earlier this week, I showed you the free motion sampler I started in Pfaff club last Friday. Each day this week, I worked in 15 minute segments, to complete my free-motion sampler. Yesterday I was struggling on what to do for the last 3 of the 9 blocks. So, I dug out my Pajama Quilter DVD, and watched it for 15 minutes to get some ideas on what to do next. So here is my finished sampler, all bound.

It's home will be on an end table in my living room.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Tutorial - Hemming Jeans - a quilters technique

While at a sewing class last week, I commented to the quilter next to me, that on my list of things to do was hemming jeans. She and then others jumped in, that they feared doing jeans on their sewing machines because of the thick seams. So I said I'd show them how I do it.

Here is my quick way for hemming jeans. I've tried many ways, and have been using this method for the past 10 years. Beware this is a long post... Simple technique, but many pictures.

First set up your sewing machine to do a straight stitch. I use a stitch length of 3.0 and a heavier needle. A jeans needle or topstitch needle if you have one.

Next, measure your jeans. For my husband, I have him stand on the floor in his sock feet and I pin up the jeans 1 inch above the floor. Then lay the jeans out on the ironing board and fold up the other leg so both are even. Iron up the hemline on both legs. Give a really good pressssssss... I use steam too... See the line it makes. This is a good guide.

Next, cut about 1 inch down from the pressed line. I just eyeball it. But measure if you must. Set aside the bottom of the pantleg for a recycle project.

Next take small snips about half an inch long, on either side of the bulky seams. Total of 4 slits on each leg.

You can see the slits are on each side of the seam, about half way to the pressed hemline.

Next, tuck in the raw edge of the hem so it is folded in so that your one inch of hem is now about a half an inch. Leave the thick seam sticking up. Do not fold it under.

Pin all around. Notice that I pin with the heads of the pins sticking towards me, so I can easily remove them as I sew.

Next, using ORANGE thread in the top and bobbin, sew near the top of tucked in fold all around the hem. In the early days, I was matchy matchy and used light blue thread. It looked awful. Orange is the color to use. Unless, the jeans you are hemming were originally hemmed with a different color like white. I would use that as a guideline.

Stitch right over the seams. Most sewing machines don't have trouble with two layers of seams.

Snip off the portion of the seam that is sticking out.

Your jeans are hemmed. Since it's the bobbin thread that shows on the outside hem of the jeans, I keep a bobbin of bright orange thread in my bobbin caddy at all times. I primarily use it only for jeans and I think I've been using the same bobbin for 5 years. If I had the 10 years of hemming jeans back, I think I would have found a heavier weight of orange thread and used that in my bobbin. When this bobbin runs out , I will refill with a heavier orange thread.

After Note: Denise left a comment that Joanns carrys Jeans thread. You can bet this will be on my list the next time I go to Joanns. Thanks Denise.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Congratulations Scott and Michelle

Congratulations to Scott and Michelle who received their diploma's from St. FX yesterday. See my sister Donna's blog on my sidebar for pictures. Congratulations to their parents too.

Scott and Michelle's next few months will be very exciting as they are preparing for their wedding in July. We're all excited about that.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Emily's Day

Emily had quite a day today. With much help from her parents and the catechism teachers, she's been preparing all year to make her First Holy Communion. So today was the big day and all her aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins travelled to Moncton, to attend the Mass and to help make her day special.

Here she is, posing with the priest.

And there was a lovely reception after. I loved this cake. It has all the symbols of our faith. Following the reception, all the family went back to the house and Emily opened First Communion gifts from everyone. What a happy day.

At least twice, Emily told me she loved her First Communion dress. She loves the soft silky feel of the satin and how the lining made the dress feel poofy. She loved the Cinderella sash and the long ribbon on it too.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pfaff Club Friday

Yesterday, I went to Pfaff club at our LQS. The topic was "dropping the dogs" aka free-motion quilting. I've been doing bits of free-motion for a few years now and it's always nice to stretch a bit to take my skill just a little further. I'm quite a confident stippler, but doing anything else is a stretch for me.
So I started out by dividing my 15" square sandwich into 9 by using free-form lines. I plan to do a different free-motion stitch in each of the 9 sections.
My big stretch yesterday was to do the little circles. What I found out, is that it takes a long time to do the little circles. And I could tell that it was stressful, because my shoulders are sore today. I must have been hunching up while doing them. I'm pleased with what I tried yesterday. The heart shaped leaf motif in the middle section would be a fast cover for a quick project. I might try that as an all-over design on my next table runner.
Now, I'm researching 6 more free-motion styles for the other sections. I'll show you when I'm done in a couple of weeks. This will be a good personal reference of free motion stitches for me to hang in my sewing room.