I’m In Heaven!

Or should I say Heaven and Earth?  That’s the name of the design company from which I bought my most recent cross stitch chart and spoke so passionately about in episode #71.  Talk about instantaneous gratification too!  I paid for the chart with my PayPal account, then downloaded the PDF file to my GoodReader app on my iPad.  Because this chart is an all-over design, it’s presented in “pages”.  As I stitch each ten-stitch by ten-stitch grid on the page, I have the ability to highlight each stitch completed in a chosen color, and with another color, I can highlight where I’ve “parked” my thread in the next ten-stitch by ten-stitch grid.  My favorite part is the ability to pinch my iPad screen and enlarge as much of the chart as I want.  SCORE!

Here’s an example of both the grids and how the threads are parked:

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The photo below shows my first completed grid! I chose to use a mechanical pencil to lightly mark my grid, instead of stitching it with fine fishing line.  Most of the marks will be covered up by stitching.  The remaining lines will be carefully erased, and the rest will surely disappear with a gentle washing after the stitching is completed.

This type of cross stitching blew me away.  The designs are stunning, intense and so gratifying to stitch up.  But….I had to let go of some of my died-in-the-wool cross stitching rules.  I’ve always stitched as though the back was just as important as the front.  I wanted it to look neat.  Stitching by grid and parking my threads, meant that a neat back was impossible.  In the linked video below, Carolyn Mazzeo gives an excellent tutorial on how she parks her threads.  When she mentions that she doesn’t carry her threads more that twenty-five stitches on the back of her work, my eyes bugged outta my head lol!  I was uncomfortable carrying my thread more than THREE stitches!  I’ve actually been freed….whether I complete each stitch individually or stitch multiple stitches in a row of a particular color (cross country stitching), it all works!

Here is Carolyn Mazzeo’s video on her parking technique from her YouTube channel.  Thanks to her excellent tutorials and inspiring works of art, here’s the design I bought and am stitching now.   She’s a mini chart-225 stitches by 337 stitches, called Mini Andromeda.

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Mini Andromeda

I’d loooove to hear what you think.  Would you like to give an all-over crossed stitch design a try?  I’ll keep you apprised of my progress.  Wish me luck!

Hugs and happy stitching,

Dori

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Stitch It Up!

It’s been almost thirty years, and I can still hear it now….

The unique sound of dial-up on my new computer and those infamous words…YOU’VE GOT MAIL!

Our first foray into the realm of the Internet was through AOL.  The whole family would gather around, excitedly waiting for our Dell computer to connect….and voila! we were in uncharted, wonderful, scary waters.  Through that simple connection, I found a wealth of information relating to my then obsession, counted cross stitch.

I made a new friend, who guided me to chat rooms and message boards relating to all sorts of needlework.  She introduced me to a whole new level of stitched art, called “band samplers”.  Worked usually on linen over two threads, the band sampler consists of rows or “bands” of intricate stitches that often included beads, cotton, silk or perle cotton thread, and various other textures like braided metallic threads.

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Photo Courtesy of Joanne Perry of Serendipitous Stitching

Fabulous, yes?

I was also encouraged to buy a reference book called “The Proper Stitch” by Darlene O’Steen.  Ms. O’Steen gives the long and rich history of samplermaking which she documents back to the 1500’s, as well as detailed instructions on each stitch. She concludes with two stunning sampler charts, The Proper Stitch Sampler and Our English Heritage Sampler. I have yet to choose which one I’m going to stitch….I need to practice the various stitches first!

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Thanks to my friend Lori a.k.a. mrskvlca on Instagram, I now have a HUGE stash of linen, Lugana and Aida fabric, silk and cotton threads, and beads to choose from. Having a standing frame to work on also lends to the creative and authentic setting.

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And finally, for your viewing pleasure, a video from YouTube that gives you an idea of what a band sampler is. This one is unique….the bands are normally stitched in horizontal rows. The rows on this video, are diagonal! Thus, this sampler is called a Twisted Band Sampler.    

Do you have any experience with this type of stitching?  I’d love to know!

Enjoy!

Dori

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TGIFF: The Curved Log Cabin

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of yellow.  It just doesn’t appeal to me, or hadn’t appealed to me until I made this beautiful Curved Log Cabin quilt for my daughter Jennifer.

I got the pattern from a Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial.  Trust me, I’ll be making this quilt top again and again!  It was fun and easy.  I have a few jelly rolls that are just begging to be made into another Curved Log Cabin configuration.

I chose a 2 1/2″ jelly roll of Summer Breeze lll fabrics by Moda.  The blues and yellows in various florals, made for wonderful contrasts that helped to define the curve in the log cabin blocks.  The key, however, is the use of a white jelly roll in 1 1/2″ strips.

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Aren’t they fabulous?

I love the variations of yellows and blues!

Using one of the Summer Breeze strips as a center for the Log Cabin block instead of the traditional red or green, caused me to come up a bit short of fabric choices.  I ended up buying a second jelly roll.  No worries!  I used strips from the second roll to bind the quilt.  It worked out well!  Putting the blocks up on my design wall, I was tickled to find there were still many different designs that kept the curved look.

I decided to add two borders.  First I used some of the white 1 1/2″ strips I had left, then I purchased more of the Summer Breeze lll fabric in the darkest blue shade to offset the yellow.  I also used this blue fabric for the backing.

Time to quilt!  I used a new basting technique, a basting gun, which I reviewed here.  Not my fav way to baste, but I’m glad I tried it!

Turning to Christa Watson’s book Machine Quilting With Style, I found the quilting diagram on page 26 of her Ripples quilt to be perfect for this quilt.  I used a serpentine stitch already programmed into my machine, and set to quilting with white Isacord thread.  I love the ease and sheen of this polyester thread, and almost exclusively quilt with it.

IMG_6704Lots of threads to bury lol!  As you can see, I had a few “booboos”.  I patiently “unsewed” the over lapping threads, knotted and buried them.  And that hole you see?  That was made by my basting gun.  It closed up nicely, however, when the quilt was washed.  Whew!

A nice compliment to the squareness of the blocks!

Annnnn voila!  I used various strips from the Summer Breeze lll jelly roll to bind the quilt.

And yes, that’s the doily my hubby recently crocheted!

Thanks to suggestions from the Twilters group on Facebook, I decided to continue the same serpentine quilting pattern around the border.

I like sewing the binding to the front of the quilt, then hand sewing it to the back.  Adding a personalized label is the final TA DA!!! before putting it in the wash.

Here’s a pretty good look at the design.  Looove it!

Happy Friday everyone!
Dori

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Carol’s Zoo “Ewok” Bear

Hahaha!  This teddy bear pattern from Carol Cruise of Carol’s Zoo is actually called “Carol’s Bearrit”.  The luxury fur I chose, however, made it look like a cuddly “Ewok”instead!


I glued the two pattern pieces to a sturdy piece of lightweight cardboard, then cut the pieces out. I knew I would want to make more than one bear, and I did this to extend the life of the pattern. (Quilting template plastic can be used too.) Working from the back of the fur, I traced around the pattern with a sharpie, transferring all of the markings. I also chose to use a hole punch for the circle markings, so I could just color them in on the back of the fabric.


When working with fur, this next step is important. Using sharp embroidery scissors, I made sure to cut the backing and not the fur by sliding the scissor points in, skimming the backing, and then cutting on the outside of the marked line.  After cutting, I gently pulled apart the pieces, keeping the fur intact.

When I pinned the pieces together, I used long quilting pins, about 1/4″ apart, tucking in the fur as I went. I used a 90/14 needle, and a longer 3.0 stitch when sewing the 1/4″ seams.  I kept an aluminum knitting needle beside me to help keep errant fur tucked into the seam while I sewed.  After turning the bear right side out, I stuffed it with high quality plush fiber fill, then hand sewed the back opening with a strong ladder stitch.

Voila!


Because my hubby helped me get the quilting done so quickly on the Whale Baby Quilt, I was able to get this adorable bear done in time to give it as an added gift to my Daughter-In-Law at her shower.  Yay for team Nona and Papa!

Have a fabulous weekend my friends!

Hugs,
DoriSignature

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Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

TGIFF: A Whale of a Good Time Quilt

There’s nothing like presenting a gift that has love in every stitch.  Such was the case when I gave this adorable “Andrew” whale quilt to my Daughter-In-Law Jaqueline on the day of her baby shower.  She chose the pattern from the book Fat Quarter Baby, and asked that I choose colors that reflected their “under the sea” theme.  She wanted to be surprised, so I picked out the fabrics in secret.  I found the fat quarters at a booth called Custom Creations at Road to California, and I was off an running!



The pattern was fairly simple.  I had a heck of a time however…not the pattern’s fault, but my own brain translating the instructions.  But I never gave up, and with the help of my husband, was able to correct any boo-boos and finish the quilt in under three weeks.

I didn’t realize that I had chosen two fabrics that had directional designs.  This made piecing a bit more difficult, but certainly not impossible.  Here’s the in-progress quilt top.  My hubby placed all the bubbles for me before I appliquéd them down!

We experimented with this built in wave pattern on my Baby Lock Aria machine. What a gift! It worked perfectly!

And then a miracle happened!  For the first time, my husband asked if he could stitch one of the borders…of course I said YES!

The sandwich ready to be quilted!

Then a second miracle happened….da hubs offered to do ALL of the quilting. WOW! I happily gave up my chair after he mapped out and marked the whole design.

It took him about 2 1/2 hours to complete the quilting. Can you tell he’s really happy with the result? Trust me, I’m so impressed and it’s gorgeous!  Oh, and I had him pose in front of “Revolution”, the quilt he designed.  It’s still a work in progress.

I chose to machine stitch the binding to the front, then hand stitch it to the back. I really enjoy hand stitching with a good movie and hubby for company!  But first, I wanted to watch a tutorial on binding, a refresher course if you will.  I love this video by Kimberly of Fat Quarter Shop.  It really helped me to feel confident and well informed!

Finally, the day of the shower arrived. It was so nice to get such wonderful compliments on the quilt, and even nicer still, to say that BOTH Nona AND Papa worked on this project together.  Talk about stitching with love!!! I also made the adorable teddy bear you see in the crib. Here’s the link to THAT post lol!

I attached a label with the instruction that the quilt not be washed yet. After baby comes (he/she is due in late April) I’ll add baby’s name and birth date to the label, then we can soften it up with a gentle run through the washing machine.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for your support and love!
Hugs,

DoriSignature

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I Bought Myself A Gun…;)

This one isn’t for self protection, or to go out and bag my own Christmas turkey.  To be exact, it’s a basting gun!  It came highly recommended by one of the employees at my local Jo-Ann fabric store, and I thought, why not?  I love gadgets, and my hubby was itching to try it out himself.

Soooo he and I had a Jo-Ann date, and bought this Dritz basting gun with 500 tacks and an extra refill pack to be sure we wouldn’t run out.

As soon as we got home, Reg immediately set to work lol!  I spread out my Curved Log Cabin quilt on the floor, and he began basting.

Talk about easy!  I was concerned that squeezing the trigger would hurt my hand…nope!  I was also worried that the needle used to insert the tacks would harm my fabric…nope!  The holes are no bigger than a basting pin.  The next concern was the distance between the head of the tack and the end piece.  Would there be too much loose fabric, allowing the quilt sandwich to shift while quilting?  Nope!  Here’s a photo of the spacing for reference.

I felt basting with this gun went smoothly and quickly.  The next test was actually quilting with the tacks in the quilt.

This proved to be a bit trickier than I wanted.  The only way to remove the tacks, is to snip them apart.  I used an older pair of scissors, and carefully cut when I got close to a tack.  Removing the tack’s two pieces was a bit of a nuisance at times.  Sometimes the bottom piece disappeared.  I lifted my sewing table insert, and yup, the errant ones  slid between a crack in my sewing table.  I didn’t want it ending up in my bobbin case, that’s for sure!  Oh, and like pins, don’t sew over them.  I sewed over one, and I had to cut it apart bit by bit (the needle sewed right through the plastic), or totally unquilt an entire line of quilting.  I was successful at removing the plastic pieces, but what a pain lol!

Not a bad way to baste, but honestly, not necessarily my number one choice.  The cutting part slowed me down more than I’d like, and of course, there’s the fact that refills need to be purchased.  For a smaller project, I think this would be my go-to choice.  Larger ones?  I’m still a fan of spray basting.

Do you have a favorite basting technique?  Please share!

Hugs,

DoriSignature

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TGIFF: Easy Peasy Jelly Roll Quilt!

Happy Friday!  I’m finally making a dent in my rather extensive WIP pile of quilts.  I finished my Jelly Roll quilt, and just love the Fall look of the colors.


I used a Moda jelly roll called Sunflower Song by Kansas Troubles Quilters.  I love these fabrics so much, I ordered a second jelly roll to use in a different quilt top!

 

IMG_5826.jpgThe tutorial I used came from (surprise!) Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Though Jenny Doan says you can complete this quilt top in 45 minutes to an hour, I confess it took me more like three hours.  With practice, I’m sure I can better that time!

Because this was a quick make, I made the choice to quilt it by stitching in the ditch with Isacord (which I LOVE), and instead of hand sewing the binding, I did it all by machine.  I also chose not to include any borders. This is the part of quilting I find so fascinating…the learning curve is HUGE, and finding my personal preferences is constant.  After finishing this quilt, I am convinced that hand binding is my thing.  I really enjoy the process and the look.  Live and learn!

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I used my binding tool to join the final seam of the binding.  It wasn’t as clean as I would like, so I’m thinking I have a bit more practice ahead of me in order to make my binding smooth and wrinkle free.

Have a wonderful weekend, and remember….be crafty, be creative!

Hugs,

DoriSignature

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TGIFF: The Disappearing Pinwheel Quilt!

Yay!  It’s DONE!

Last September I posted my progress on my Disappearing Pinwheel TWIST 5 quilt.   I finally hand stitched the last stitch on the binding on July 31st.  I can honestly say I loved this process, and am very proud of this quilt!

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For the first time, I sent my quilt to be quilted by my friend, Janet, rather than doing the quilting myself.  She stitched a simple and airy meander stitch which complimented the quilt perfectly.  After squaring up the quilt, I attached the binding which was another first.  This time, I chose not to do the wrap-around binding  process I’ve done on all my other quilted projects.  After attaching the binding to the front of the quilt by machine (I was excited to use the binding tool Rob Appell denonstrates here), I hand stitched it to the back.  I’m so happy I did!  I love the clean look.

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I think this quilt looks best when it’s worn by my beautiful partner-in-crime lol!

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Have a wonderful weekend, and remember…be crafty, be creative!

DoriSignature
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Hobbies Up To Here Episode #34

Hey hobbyist and crafters! Grab your tea, your coffee, or wine (it’s 5pm somewhere!) and sit down for another episode.

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Our current works in progress are coming along.

  • Jake and I started his Darth Vader quilt. He did 99% of the sewing and I’m really proud of him!
  • My mom is moving along with her paper piecing class.

  • I finished my first 8 splendid sampler blocks and celebrated with a YouTube vlog!

Our topics today are some doozies!

Have you ever been SO creative, it scared you? Well, I had a moment like that this week when my brain took off on an idea for Alida’s Art with Fabric blog hop.

And my mom had an AH-HA moment this week about making mistakes and the personal feelings that come up when what’s done is “wrong”.

She’s enjoying a new book called Quilting by Hand by Jinny Beyer.

 

Quilt & Coffee Chat

This week we highlighted a few comments and replies from our fellow crafters and quilter’s.

  • My mom posed the question to everyone whether to machine or hand quilt an already started project.
  • A big big thank you to everyone from Jake and I for all the great comments and support for his quilt project. We are so very appreciative of all the positive feedback we received and I know it means a lot to Jake!

And lastly, we sampled some tea from Plum Deluxe. Thank you to Andy for considering us and our podcast as a place to share your wonderful community and tea products.

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Quilter Question: Hand Piecing or Machine?

About seven years ago, while building her quilting fabric stash, Katie bought an unfinished Bear’s Claw quilt top on eBay.  It came to mind last night as I was falling asleep, because I was thinking about taking some hand piecing on my flight to Ireland next month.  I didn’t know if the finished squares were pieced by hand or machine….I’d have to wait until I woke up in the morning to find out.

I poured my first cup of coffee and pulled out the four bags that held the quilt top pieces in various stages of completion.  There are three completed blocks;  one almost done; lots of half square triangles, sashing and squares; and some triangles that have been traced on squares of fabric, waiting to be cut out.

  

I immediately picked up the finished squares to see if they had been pieced by hand, or by machine.  Obviously, they had been done by machine.

Here’s my question for you all….if I wanted to tackle this quilt top (with Katie’s permission, of course!), should I continue to piece this quilt by machine?  Or would you switch it up and hand stitch the rest of it?

I realize that even if I use my machine, I run the risk of my blocks looking a bit different simply because I’m not the original quilter.  Would you agree?

Thank you in advance for your advice!

DoriSignature

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