Monday, July 29, 2013

Designing Monday

I have been doing a practice piece of hand applique for the last two weeks.  Our guild held an all day class with Betty Ekern Suiter that was a half day of hand quilting and a half day hand appliqué.  I really did not know much about the class or who the teacher was until the night before.  Betty was the guest speaker of the guild meeting on a Tuesday night and I was blown away.

She hand dyes, hand appliques and hand quilts all of her work.  She owns a machine for bindings and very occasionally will piece a quilt.  She has won the Best of Show at Paducah twice and has received International awards and honors in Japan.  She is really an amazing person.  Since I love hand applique, I signed up immediately for the class which was the following day.

Unfortunately because I signed up at the last minute, I was not totally prepared with the items on the materials list.  However, my fellow guild members bailed me out by providing extra hoops, a needle threader, etc.  I have never been able to hand quilt very well, so that part of the class was pretty tedious for me.  Betty was like a drill sergeant moving around the room barking out orders like "Bend that finger" "Rotate that finger"  "Push down with your thumb". I say all this with humor because she was truly gracious, but insistent that we try to learn her method.  We started by taping up two fingers to help with the process of pushing the needle without getting pricked.  She thought this worked much better than trying to use a thimble or one of those little stick on pads.  I mostly found it difficult because I couldn't get used to having the tape stuck on and it kept sticking to the fabric or the needle.  I think I was a lost cause.

The second half of the day was hand applique where I learned some new techniques.  She uses no glue or freezer paper or other little tricks.  Only pins, a white marker, a mechanical pencil, and a Hera marker.  She caused me to think the appliqué process through in a new way and hopefully I have learned some things that will help me to be more proficient.  Her standard is 20 stitches to the inch.  Wow!  That is a lot of little stitches.  She is an award winner, so I have to really consider her method and not just toss it aside because it's too much work or too time consuming. Here is the practice piece that we started in the class.

Her quilts take 3-4 years to complete because of all the handwork.  They are truly amazing.

Thank you, Betty for taking the time to show us your work and to give us the benefit of your knowledge.

Stop by Judy's blog to see more beautiful designs.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Designing Monday

I have been practicing some hand appliqué. I have finished 3 little blue flowers that I think are supposed to be pansies.  I'm working on the stems and leaves now.
 To make the centers I started with a circle just slightly smaller than a dime.  I pinned it in place and then tucked under almost half of the fabric.
 I proceeded around the rest of the circle taking small tucks and tiny stitches as I went around.  As you can see the result is a fairly tiny flower center.  Not quite exactly round, but  closer enough.

Hop on over to Judy's blog  to see some really beautiful designs.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Have You Tried This?

I am usually the last to know about something new, so if you have seen these bags, just tune me out.  I saw a friend making a tote bag from an empty horse chow bag and I thought, Wow, I can do that.

I don't have horses or dogs or cats, so I polled my friends with pets and no one had the type of bag I was looking for.  So when I went to Fleet Farm looking for bird seed, I found just the right type of bag and made a great looking and large tote.

I started by pulling out the string that hemmed the bottom and then turned the empty bag wrong side out and hosed it off outside.  (My friend who used the horse chow bag bleached hers to get the smell out.)    I measured and cut off 4 1/4" from the top and bottom.  This preserved the majority of the really pretty artwork on this particular bag.  (My friend cut most of the bottom off her bag to keep the photo of the horse intact.)

I used the portion that I cut off to make the handles by simply doing a double fold.  I used those great binding clips that we all now have to clip the handles for sewing.  You could make fabric handles or buy some nice handle cording if you wanted.

I turned under the top edge of the bag and sewed it down.  I sewed a seam across the bottom of the bag twice for strength and then sewed corners at the bottom to make it sit flat.  I think I measured about 3" from the bottom corner.

Then I turned it right side out and sewed on the handles.    Here is my finished tote.

 It is perfect for hauling quilts or larger items around.  The bag is plastic, but there is fiber running through it.  That makes it extra strong, I hope.  I like the fact that I recycled some trash to make something fun and useful.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Potholder Love

I have a lot of odd jobs at my church.  All of them are volunteer and I like to do things that have a short lifespan.  I really don't like working on committees and try to avoid them when possible.

One of my latest little jobs has been to help in clearing out the cabinets and drawers in the church kitchen to prepare for some painting and remodeling.  This occurred last week.  The painting was completed on Thurs, so Friday we began to wash out the cabinets and drawers and begin to return everything to its rightful place.  One drawer was chockful of potholders.  I don't know about your church, but ours has kind of abandoned cooking big church dinners and we have one or two potlucks a year with the meat prepared in Nescos or even catered in. Nobody wants to cook anymore.

So I sorted through all the potholders and brought home about a dozen.  I washed them and want to show them to you .

This one is a crocheted strawberry.  It looks like it has hardly ever been used.  It must really be designed to be a trivet, because for sure you would poke your finger thru one of those holes and burn your finger.

The rest are vintage.  When I saw these, I fell in love with the fabric.  I was hoping when I washed them the spots, etc. would improve, but unfortunately they have been well used and are scorched and stained.  I wanted to take them apart and use the fabric in some future quilty adventure, but I guess I will leave them as is.

The back of the white one has teapots and oil lamps while the front...

has a clown.  How funny.

Do you have any fun potholders?  If so, I would love to see them.

Friday, July 12, 2013

When Life Gets Hectic, Take a Vacation

My husband and I spent most of June traveling and enjoying life.  We had a wonderful week of visiting with family and 2 weeks touring and cruising Alaska and the Yukon.  It was a dream vacation and if you haven't been, you need to start saving your pennies and go soon.  There is so much beauty and wonderful wildlife and landscape to see.  The towns and cities are all so diverse and the history is fascinating, too.  I won't bore you with all my vacation pictures, but I will show you these.

 Ketchikan, AK
 Skagway, AK
Anchorage, AK

These are my treasures that I found in the 4 quilt stores that I visited.  They all feature lots and lots of batiks and carry wildlife designs that are unique to the area.  I tried to get different animals on each piece of fabric.  I also found two fabulous patterns.  Unfortunately I found the large bed size pattern at the last store and had already bought my fabrics or I could have purchased colors that would work best in the quilt, but I'm sure I can make do ( or buy more!)

 Northern Wilderness 
by Marie Noah, Mary Thompson, & Heather Griffin
Salmon Boy by Lisa Moore
based on Totem designs by Tommy Joseph