Friday, November 28, 2008

Confession Time: Binding

I don't know how to bind. Actually I don't know how to do a lot of things, and I made a decision earlier this year that I"m going to start asking questions and getting to the bottom of the missing parts of my knowledge in ALL areas of my life.

How have I been quilting all these years without learning how to bind properly? I am a self-taught quilter. The first time I made a quilt, I cut the binding on grain, folded it like commercial binding tape, with raw edges to the center of the strip, then folded it down the center and pressed. Then I fitted it over the raw edge of the quilt and machine stitched it down through the top layers of binding, quilt and lower layers, when I got back to the beginning, I lapped the end over the beginning, and tucked in the raw edge before I finished stitching it down.

Come to think of it, I might have bound my first THREE quilts that way.

Then I met someone who taught me the right way to apply the binding, cutting it, folding it and stitching it to the quilt edge before turning it over and hand stitching it onto the back of the quilt. Except, I didn't learn how to do corners. Or join the beginning with the end. So I did what some judges called "Lap Binding" or "Butt Corners" where you bind the sides separately, making neat (but not mitered) corners. This is how I've finished every quilt I've done for 10 years or more. FWIW, judges always say my bindings are good, but I KNOW they could be better.

This year I want to learn the "right way". I have several quilts which need or will need binding in the next few weeks. I am determined to use this opportunity to get it firmly ingrained in my mind so I can do better bindings. Melinda has some tricks for me, so I'm hoping to get with her after Thanksgiving and get to work on those projects that are almost complete.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Basket Making

So you've seen the blocks I received in the Piecemaker's exchange this year. The goal every year is to have the blocks sewn together for show and tell during our Christmas party. The past two years, I've at least had the quilt top put together. This year I'm hoping to have enough of the center applique block done to show people my concept. I'm working from a design in Ellie Seinkiewicz's "The Best of Baltimore Beauties". I enlarged the design to fit the space I had to fill (27") and began making freezer paper templates. I'm not sure I'm going to make all the flowers the same as the original design, but I know I want to use the roses, since the focus fabric I selected for the blocks has red roses in it.

First I selected the fabrics for the basket and ribs. I decided to use Karen Kay Buckley's method for machine applique since it was a lot of long lines, most easily (and quickly done) on machine. Also it gets me far enough ahead that I might actually be able to take this piece with me for the holiday and sew the first layer of leaves and petals down.

I started making the leaves, and the bottom pieces of the roses, auditioning fabric as I went along, placing them on the big paper pattern I had made to see how they "played together" and to keep track of what was done.

I had a selection of greens sitting on my ironing board and pulled from them as I went along.

Then I taped my pattern to a picture window, and taped my fabric piece over it. I marked in water soluble ink the bare bones of the pattern so I could place the elements as I went along.

I laid the pieces down on the fabric and realized I wasn't happy with the reds I had chosen for my roses. (See Mary Sorenson? I WAS paying attention in color selection class.)

So I cut some more. I like these better.

Next I basted down the pieces I have. I'll have to be careful to watch which pieces go over or under another as I go along, stitching, but I have a miniature copy (6") of the block to carry with me in case I need to refer to it.

I don't like to make all of my color choices and design decisions in the beginning. I find things occur to me as I go along. I'm happy with my progress so far, considering that when I woke up on Wednesday I hadn't done anything more than piecing the background for this work. I just realized the basket still needs a base. I'll be looking for that "perfect fabric" or combination of fabrics to use for that bit.

Cool Giveaway

Lenna at Stitching Cow is having a cool giveaway contest. Her Cottages in Common online class is worth $300 and could be yours for free! Go check out her blog for details.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

Brrrr. It was 24 degrees here in the north suburbs today. This might be the coldest November I've seen since moving here. Last night I made a big batch of corn chowder.

Here is the first of several table runners I am making for gifts. I'm looking for creative ideas for the next batch. I want to do table runners and placemats for three families who know each other, it would be nice if they weren't all the same. If you have any idea or can point me to a pattern, I'd be grateful. I haven't done a lot of these kinds of projects in the past, and I don't really care for fusible applique, but I'd be willing to consider it for this kind of work.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you're keeping warm!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In a Single Word

I got this from Julie at High Fiber Content who said it must be done in one word answers, give it a try.

Where is your mobile phone? purse
Where is your significant other? upstairs
Your hair colour? chestnut
Your mother? tall
Your father? hero
Your favorite thing? cooking
Your dream last night? forgotten
Your dream goal? peace
The room you're in? comfortable
Your hobby? daydreaming
Your fear? violence
Where do you want to be in 6 years? further
Where were you last night? bed
What you're not? defeated
One of your wish-list items? Photoshop
Where you grew up? Waltham
The last thing you did? breakfast
What are you wearing? nightgown
Your TV? plasma
Your pets? poodle
Your computer? Apple
Your mood? hopeful
Missing someone? Meg
Your car? awesome
Something you're not wearing? watch
Favourite shop? Tiny Stitches
Your summer? delicious
Love someone? absolutely
Your favourite colour? red
When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
When is the last time you cried? Monday

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ramblin' Rose Never Made it to Jamestown

This is the block of the month quilt from 2007 at Tiny Stitches, my LQS. I was really proud last year, that while I didn't actually make a block a month, I DID make all the blocks before 2008 arrived. I never intended to set the blocks as Marti Michell did in her Ramblin' Rose Goes to Jamestown quilt. This was the first time I ever worked with Marti's templates, and I'll tell you something, if you don't know what a quarter inch seam is, your blocks will NEVER come together properly using her templates. Making these blocks has improved my piecing accuracy DRAMATICALLY.

The original design for the quilt calls for setting the blocks with diagonal rows of log cabin blocks. I just didn't think it showcased the blocks as strongly as I'd like. (God help me, I'm criticizing Marti Michell for heaven's sake.) So after staring at my design wall for a QUITE SOME TIME I have decided I can't set the blocks directly together, the differences in corners and other "meeting points" are too different to look good that way. I'm going to do a simple sashing. I don't have enough of the color I wanted to use (the lighter red) so this is as far as I've gotten:

I want to do a border all around these blocks when I'm done, possible one of the blacks, and then decide about the outer borders.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Empress of Daily Baking

Wendy J is a briner friend from the Good Eats Fan Page. She bakes every day. Every. Day. Whenever I need a recipe for something baked, she's the first one I call on. It saves me not only a lot of research, but a lot of so-so recipe results. Recently I asked her for a scone recipe. Not the leaden rocks I've been finding at coffee shops all over town. She did not disappoint.

This easy recipe went together in just a few minutes and cleaned up even faster, a serious consideration for me. But the best part is that it produced scones that were everything they should be, and served warm, they are AMAZING. Wendy says you can use half and half rather than heavy cream with similar results, I've made these with a handful of golden raisins or cinnamon chips as well as plain. Today's variety were orange scented chocolate chip (at Kay's request) and they are good indeed. Enjoy!

Basic Scones Adapted from The Bread Bible

2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter cut into cubes frozen
1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Place all dry ingred in bowl of food processor. Pulse to mix. Add butter cubes, pulse 20 or so times until butter is the size of petite peas. Dump the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the cream. Toss lightly to combine (I used a rubber spatula). Gather dough into a ball (it will be a bit ragged) pat into a circle on a parchment lined cookie sheet or silpat. Cut into 8 wedges---bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Make tea, get a book and enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Color Selection for Quilters

Over the weekend I took a class from the wonderful Mary Sorenson about how to choose colors for quilts. Part of our homework for the class was to choose four colors from a list of six and pull a range of values from our stash that would be used in class. It took me nearly four hours, and I learned a lot about my stash in that time. I have entirely too much blue, a lot of purple and so little yellow (and almost all of it in the medium range) I couldn't use it as one of my color choices.

In class, Mary actually gave us an inventory sheet that we could use to go back and identify not only which colors we were missing, but which VALUES in those colors, and what styles of prints were needed to fill out our stash.

One very practical lesson was this: If you aren't sure about how the values in your fabric choices relate to one another, remove the color. Take a picture, or scan the fabrics and view it as a black and white image. Here are my fabric choices in black and white:

You can see that I did pretty well in the purple and blue (that was obvious, even in color) and even the reds show a progression, but the oranges are not distinctly different values. I could have thrown out the ones on the ends and looked for a lighter light and a darker dark.

Hubby is color blind. I have often turned to him for help in this way, but now that I can see the difference for myself in black and white, Mary assures me that over time I will begin to be able to "see" it without having to photograph it.

Thanks Mary!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Monthly Accounting

It might be optimistic of me to start a monthly feature, considering my erratic posting habit, and yet I want to try. I have made some great headway in the past couple of weeks and I am setting some goals for the next few weeks that I would like to share with you.

Hello, my name is Danielle, and I'm a UFO maker.

UFOs That I Have A Plan to Complete:
-Binding for "Blush and Bashful" (Kay's pink and pink glorified 9 patch quilt)
-Sandwich, quilt and bind "Princeton Plainsboro" (2007 Piecemaker's house quilt project)
-Quilt and bind table runner for my sister-in-law as a hostess gift for Thanksgiving
-Make applique center for 2008 Piecemakers' exchange quilt
-Sandwich, quilt and bind "Briner's Picnic"
-Finish piecing the top for "Ramblin' Rose"
-Finish quilting victorian sampler quilt for my sister's Christmas gift.
-FInish blackwork blocks by the end of 2008.

UFOs For Which I Have No Plan, But Desire to Finish:
-Determine setting for stack and whack blocks
-Determine if I'm going to pull out the pieces of "Crossroads" that make me crazy, or quilt it as is.
-Determine if I'm going to quilt my snowman tablerunner as is, or take it apart and do something different with it.
-Determine layout for "Hearts and Friendship" blocks.

Finally, for the first time ever, I am going to pay someone else to quilt something for me. Years ago hubby and I took a class together and his resulting quilt is king sized, and the background is Kona cotton. This poor quilt top has been languishing for years waiting for someone to quilt it, but it is too big and heavy for me to do personally. I have reserved a space in Melinda's schedule to get it done for Christmas, the backing is ready and the batting (black cotton wasn't available locally) should be in tomorrow or the next day.