Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quilling



Ok....I know you are going to say, "Quilling?" But I can't stop myself. I saw the picture below on the blog site, Tongue in Cheek. Corey, from Tongue in Cheek, called the piece a relic. Take a look at her Jan. 13th posting to find more about this piece. It was made to contain a lock of hair....And yes, I copied the picture from her site....I feel badly. I don't normally take other people's pictures....but I COULD NOT HELP MYSELF! Go visit her site... You will really enjoy her stories. (click on the name of the blog for a link) Tracy Riffle, from Hands to Work gave me the heads up a couple of months ago. Thank you Tracy!



Anyway.....I couldn't quilt thinking about quilling. My mother used to make things years ago....and they were really lovely....but when I saw the piece above I got in my car and went to Hobby Lobby to get the supplies. (That's another story!)



I just finished the piece pictured above....and it's easy. Just like applique. 1/4" strips cut from an old book and watercolor paper, my favorite PVA glue from Paper Source and the quilling tools and here's my first try!


I glued the pieces on the inside of a box lid. I'm going to cross stitch a piece for the top of the box and then paint the rest of the box. I used old paper to cover the inside of the box lid and then sprinkled a bit of coffee and baked it for a short time to dry.

Well....back to work!
There will be Show and Tell part 2 tomorrow....don't forget to view yesterday's posting to see Show and Tell part 1.

Alma

Friday, January 29, 2010

Show and Tell


Lots to show today....so without further delay here we go!

This sweet young girl pictured above is Judy Filean's granddaughter. She is wearing her Grandfather's Army uniform which he wore as a child in 1945. Judy sent this to me in October of 2006 when her granddaughter was 5. This pattern is from our book Women of Grace and Charm. Inside this book are stories of 12 local women's service during WWII. (And of course a quilt block for each woman.) Judy adapted the pattern a bit and we love what she did. Of all the books we have done, this one is the one that I'm most proud of. It's because of the women's stories. I look at their faces pictured in our book and I am honored by their sacrifice and service.


These two sweet thread keeps are from Catherine. Click on her name to visit her blog site.
She writes,
"Here is the last picture of one of your designs. The book Joyeux Noël is really a "mine" (not sure of the translation : it is a way to say that there is a lot of projects inside)"


The hexagon pincushion is from Cathy. Click on her name to visit her blog. This was a class project offered when we were in Nantes, France.
She writes,
"I've made the pincushion several times. I have fun every time and take a lot of pleasure in making them. Here is the last one.
To us in France, we can send our wishes all January long, then I wish you a very happy New Year on 2010. I don't know if we shall have the opportunity to see again each other this year, but continue to enchant us with your wonderful charts."




Debbie Wick sent in the 2 above pictures. The quilt is from Quilting the Garden. The Noel box is from Joyeux Noel.
Debbie writes, "I finally figured out how to download pictures from my new camera. I hope you enjoy them."

The next two are hers also. Debbie we are glad you have the camera figured out!


The quilt above is from the book When the Cold Wind Blows. Check out Debbie's pillowcases too!

More tomorrow!

Good night all.

Alma

Thursday, January 28, 2010

End of the Day

It's the end of the day and the light is fading fast. I've been sitting on my sofa for the past 4 days. I'm starting to feel like I'm becoming one with the sofa. There are tangles and strands of floss everywhere. Piles of small bits of floss that have been carefully picked out leaving holes for a color replacement. The sampler I'm working on has been stitched about 3 times now. Trying to get it just right.

Barb's making a bit of progress. Below is a small picture of one she finished. We are starting to really like showing samplers in old wooden frames. When your stitching is complete just put the stitched linen in an old hoop. Add a needle and a bit of floss and instant atmosphere. It feels a bit more intimate.


Good night dear friends....tomorrow Show and Tell day!

Alma

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My To Do List

Barb and I are working like crazy trying to get ready for cross stitch market in Nashville. We have several ideas....but we could use another three weeks in Jan. to get it all done. Luckily market is later than usual. Normally we go the first part of Feb...but this year it's at the end of the month. Thank Goodness!!!

The sampler pictured above is going to be in our new book. The book is based on an antique sampler Barb purchased. My sampler above is my adaptation of the vintage sampler. Do we have a title for the book yet? No....of course not. That usually comes after we see all of the finished projects. We pick a title that suggests the uniting force behind it all. We are thinking about Honeysuckle House....because of the border....but that could still change.

I know you are looking at the word "Walnut" on the sampler and wondering, "What the heck?" I stitched this sampler in memory of my Great Great Great Great Grandmother, Margaret Harris. She died in 1877 in Walnut, Iowa. Last June, I went to Walnut with my friend Flona and Linda and we did the antique sale they have each Father's Day. But at the time, I didn't know my Grandmother was buried there....I will have to see if I can find her next time I'm there.

I know the sampler above is pictured in a hoop....but I never use a hoop when stitching. It gets in my way...but Barb loves to use a hoop.

Anyway, the point of this posting is that the stress was beginning to bother Barb and me. I told her I bought a journal last night. I'm going to write 5 things that I want to do for each day. I'm not going to worry about all the other things that need to be done. I'm just going to do 5 things. That sounds doable right?

My list for the day is:

1. Clean for about an hour
2. Update the blog....I miss writing to you! I know that sounds crazy....but this has turned out to be something I very much enjoy!
3. Pay the bills....don't you hate doing that? It can take a couple of hours to go through all of the mail and sort it all.
4. Get the Loose Feather pattern to the printer
5. Work on another pattern.

You know what? It kind of helps my stress level today. Just 5 things to do....think I can handle it. (Will let you know if it really works later.)


Yesterday I finished the photography on our Engagement Calendar. I took pictures of thimbles, sewing hoops, tape measures, needle cases, tatting shuttles, quilt blocks and all kinds of fun things. The Kansas City Star will be offering it at Spring Quilt market. The picture above didn't make the cut...but thought you might like to see to get an idea.

This pictures highlights a needle case I purchased years ago....another calendar shot. This was really a fun project. Can hardly wait to see it myself....the book designer Amy Robertson is working on it now.

Ok....now I've done two things...off to finish 3 more.

Hugs to all of you!

Alma

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Winter Guest

I'm happily stitching along and my son shouts for me to come to the window and bring my camera. He's shouting..."What is that? Looks like a large rat!"

After getting a good look at her I tell him, "She's an old friend." Look how daintily she walks through the snow. I don't blame her....lots of deep snow and she has to navigate this with her tiny pink feet.

Her destination is the bird feeder. Lots of seeds spread on the ground by the greedy blue jays.

Lots of sharp pointed teeth. Wish she would learn to chew with her mouth closed! Those teeth make her look almost evil. But...I owe her big time. I won't chase her away. My 4 outside cats won't bother her either. They know better. When she wants to eat their cat food...they move over to let her have a bite.

She decides there wasn't enough food on the ground and climbs up the bird feeder. (My husband bought this for me years ago....it holds 25 pounds of bird seed. I told him eagles could land here...I have seen 3 raccoons hanging from feeder one night having a party. After that view, I no longer put 25 pounds of bird seed in the feeder....those raccoons can finish it in one night.)


The cats must be making her a bit nervous....Look at those teeth!

And look at that tail! She's a hard one to love....but I owe her big time. Last year my dog Gracie chased her. I didn't know the possum was in the yard...several of her babies fell off and I found them the next day in the grass. It was heart breaking really.....so I'm letting her eat her fill. Even with her icky tail and sharp and pointed teeth....

Back to stitching!

Until later,

Alma

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Warm Sunshine


Finally!!! The snow is melting and the sun is shining. Spent time stitching and watching my son work on his thesis. Peaceful. My days are divided between quilting and stitching. My quilt blocks get the morning hours and my afternoons are saved for stitching.

We have several projects we are racing to finish up. Country Inn, our quilt book, is due soon. And we are trying to get everything ready for cross stitch market in Nashville. It's the end of Feb. this year...so we still have about 15 minutes before we load up the car and head south. (We really have longer ....but it feels like market will be here in 15 minutes.)

But no more stressful thoughts...I'm snapping the rubber band on my wrist...so in the spirit of beauty and peace, I'm showing you the following.



I never considered my geraniums as house plants until last year. Usually I leave them outside and just purchase new ones in the spring. But no more! This is the second year I have brought in my white geranium to overwinter in the house. It sits in my south bay window. The fresh white bloom and spring green leaves cheer me up. It's amazing how they bloom all winter long. Just clip the spent blooms and continue on their merry way.


Thank all of your for your thoughts and advice. Barb and I really appreciate you taking the time to let us know your ideas. We can use them all!

Hope it's warm and sunny where you are!

Until later,

Alma

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Stocking Patterns




The patterns were sent to the distributors this week. They should be in your local cross stitch shop in 1-2 weeks. The top picture shows the stockings from November and the bottom stockings are for December. This completes the series. Barb designed this entire series and when seen together they are quite amazing.

We are trying to think of another fun idea for next year. Any ideas would be appreciated and considered!

I almost purchased the sweater just for the label. Who thinks of these things? Wouldn't this be great as a gift tag?

I'd write more, but I'm in my sewing mode!

Many thanks to all of you for your kind invitations. Barb and I will be there next week! We are sick of this snow and dying to see all of you in warmer climates! (P.S. I have to say I'm kidding here...the last time I wrote something like this, my mom thought that Barb and I really went to the Bahamas to celebrate a book finish.) Mom, I'm at home working!!!

Until later,

Alma

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sewing Day Here


We've had snow on the ground for about 2 weeks .....brrrr....baby it's cold here! I think all of you are experiencing the same weather....except for you lucky gals in the southern hemisphere. (Barb and I are dying to visit you.....I bet we could still catch a flight. We we won't stay too long.....just about a month. And we are good help in the kitchen!!! We would promise just about anything to get a bit of sunshine and warmth.) We are expecting about 4-6" more of snow today. Dave and I haven't shoveled the drive from the last 10" of snow. We are the kind that just keep driving over the snow in the driveway, hoping to mash it into shape with the car tires. Might have to get someone to plow us out of here.

Great time to stay home and applique. Which is exactly what I'm doing. Barb has come up with a great quilt design for our next book with the Kansas City Star. I'm doing the invisible machine applique method I blogged about in May of 2009. (Click on the date to find the post.) I had to find just the right thread for this fabric...a very light limey green. While this piece is on the machine I thought I would go over a few details about this technique.


I use an open toe presser foot. It opens my field of vision. I need to see my exact needle placement. I have an older Bernina sewing machine. I purchased it in 1988. When I went to the store I told the saleswoman, "I want a machine that just sews a seam...not a lot of fancy stitches."
As it turns out, I did need a couple of fancy stitches....and this hem stitch is one of the ones I use the most. It takes 3 straight stitches and then a small zigzag stitch. The 3 straight stitches are made adjacent to the stem I'm appliquing. Then the small zigzag stitch goes over into the stem and appliques it to the background. Take a look at the left side of the stem and you will see some of the applique stitches.

There are 4 adjustments I make to my machine. The first is to increase the tension on the thread coming up from the bobbin. On the Bernina there is a small hole in the bobbin holder. I run my bobbin thread through the hole as shown below.

This keeps the bobbin thread from showing on the surface. I use a taupe colored thread in the bobbin without fear of it showing on the top. (less changing threads) If you don't have this feature or can't tighten the tension of the bobbin thread, you will have to use the same colored thread in the bobbin as you are using for the applique.


All my fancy stitches are shown above. I change my stitch to the blind hem...or #2. If you don't have this one on your machine, practice with some of the stitches and see if you have one that might give the same look. I've even done a small jigzag stitch that works well too.

I adjust my stitch length. Small tight stitches are needed. If your straight stitches are too far apart the applique stitches will be too far apart.

My zigzag stitch is adjusted to a small bite. A big or wide zigzag stitch would result in your applique stitch not being invisible. Which isn't bad....just not the look we are going for here. The wider white line indicates the length of my zigzag stitch....not the silver handle.

The photo above shows the needle going in for the small zigzag stitch. Just enough to catch the fabric....but not enough to show on the stem.

I can applique one block a day. Fast results to say the least! Not relaxing like hand applique...but fun to see a quilt come together so quickly.



Four blocks done....5 to go!

Take a visit to Amanda's blog and see her "Home Sweet Home" quilt. This one was made with real love!

Shawna Wilde, Utah writes...."I love the quilt and wanted to thank you for the wonderful pattern! By the way, I am teaching a quilting group of 13 ladies, and we are all making "Home Sweet Home" in 1020. When we are finished, I'll forward photographs of all of our quilts. It has to be fun as a designer to see quilts made up from your patterns!" Again, thanks.

Shawna's quilt is pictured below. Looks like she won a ribbon too! Congratulations Shawna.

Hope you are keeping warm and toasty today. Great day to make a quilt....or at least stay under one!

Until later,

Alma

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year and a New Quilt


I know I left you in the middle of the 12 relaxing days of Christmas and I'm very sorry! Between the Gingerbread House parties, cooking, visiting friends and playing games with the kids, time just flew by. Hope you all had a very merry relaxing holiday!

We've had tons of snow and the day after Christmas I pulled everyone away from all electronic gadgets and told them to get the sleds....we were going to hit the sledding hill. What fun...rosy cheeks and a bit of exercise and laughter....although I'm paying for it now! The snow was a bit bumpy....and I fell off a couple of times.

Today Barb and I are beginning a new quilt. We talked on the phone about all the projects we want to finish in the next month. A new spring quilt book with the Kansas City Star, cross stitch market and an engagement calender are all on our list.

We are picking out the prints and colors for our new quilt today. Hopefully we will get a block finished. We each do one quilt pattern, but we choose different color ways. It's the agony and ecstasy for me. Hard to pick the prints without seeing the whole picture but great when it all works out!

This process made me think of a shop owner I talked to at quilt market. She shared with me that she was exhausted. Her customers only wanted to purchase kits of quilts they had seen at her shop. So, she had to choose a quilt pattern, make it, figure out how much fabric needed for the kits and then cut and package the kits. It changed how she purchased fabric for her shop also. She now purchases great quantities of certain prints for the kits...but reduces purchases of prints that she won't be kitting up. She said in the "olden" days customers would come in and purchase pieces of fabric and plan their own projects.

I remember going to my local shop and purchasing pieces of fabric that I loved, coming home and planning the quilt myself....but I'm guilty of the kit thing myself.

My niece was coming for a visit and I went into my local shop to find something I thought she might like to make with me. I saw a quilt by Tula Pink on the wall and thought...."I've got to get to the grocery store, visit my son, do dinner and it's 4:30pm." Finding all the fabric for this project almost felt overwhelming. Lucky for me, the shop owner had a kit. I relieved to say the least! In and out of the shop in record time....and the kit was packaged in a cute way too. So I understand the appeal of kits myself. No mistakes....you know it's going to work out because you have seen the quilt on the wall. Fabric is expensive and I've made some fabric mistakes. I have several UFO's in my closet because of poor fabric choices.

Here are two tools that I use to make fabric choices a bit easier.

The small tool on the right is a "door peep." You can find them at the hardware store. It's the eye level insert in your front door, that you look through and see your visitor before opening the door. It's a small reducing glass. My friend Cherie's husband took the metal peep and lathed a wooden spool to go around it. Makes it so cute! But the regular one at the store will work great. Looking at your fabric through the reducing glass makes you see your fabric as it will look from a distance. Sometime when working with fabric, we choose those prints that look great close-up. The problem is that when you walk away from the quilt those cute close-up prints can read as a solid and you loose the dynamics you might have with a larger scale print.

The red plastic piece was cut from a folder sold at an office supply store. When looking through this piece you are able to determine the value of the fabric.

Look at the fabrics above. Can you pick the darkest to lightest prints?

I valued them left to right....darkest at the left and lightest at the right. When I began to post the pictures on the blog....I noticed that really the green print was a bit darker in value than the pink.

This red plastic tool really helps. It takes the color away from the fabric and lets you see the value of the print.

Try these and see if they help you!

Let me know what works for you. Today I can use all the help I can get!

Wishing you a very prosperous New Year.

Alma