Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My camera's CF card had a coronary, and I will have to reformat it. In the meantime, this overexposed picture is all I have to show for tonight's work, the letters "D" and "E".

I do not like the orange uppercase "D" with the black background. I made three of them, and I have to make another. It is too narrow and shapeless. The upper case "C's" need more character.

Actually, I like all the lower case letters better than the upper case ones.

Several of you commented that you prefer the letters with the white background because they are easier to read. It's because there is more contrast in value (light/dark). But look again. The pink A and yellow E stand out better against the black. Much stronger light/dark contrast, but also a strong contrast in intensity.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Little Something for Myself

I decided I would do whatever I wanted this weekend, and nothing else. After I did the groceries and the laundry and vacuuming and all the other stuff, I worked on some letters for a wonky alphabet quilt of my very own. The capital letters here are the same size as those in my alphabet doll swap quilt.

The B's are actually purple. I haven't decided if I like the black or white backgrounds. I decided to hedge my bets and make the letters both ways so I'd have options when I got the letters done. I want to have numbers also.

We'll see.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trying to Decide...

I am trying to decided if I like these or not. I made 16 bento box blocks using my leftover Christmas fabrics. I have arranged them 4 x 4 because they are 12" blocks, and using them this way would be the perfect size for a Gizzy Quilt variation (the quilts I make for cats are called "Gizzy Quits".)


I think they are fine for cats, but I might try rearranging them into a simply geometric pattern, breaking up the bento design.

Actually, I was trying to avoid using a lot of the same very light fabric, I didn't want it repeated to often. But I think I should have. Because some of the "lights" I used don't "read" as lights have a very strong light-dark contrast. Also the fabrics with large patterns in both light and dark blocks don't work very well either, regardless of their contrast.

Hmm... I am getting some ideas...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's Never Too Early for You Know What...

I was experimenting with a little leftover Holiday themed fabric. I thought I might make some Holiday Gizzy Quilts.

I think I need to play more. Or buy more fabric...

Monday, September 22, 2008

How I Work

We all have things we do to make our sewing more efficient. Here are a couple of mine.

I use grey thread for all my patchwork piecing. Yes, ALL! No matter what color fabric I am using, I sew it up with this light grey thread. I find this grey disappears. White and cream thread stick out when next to dark colors because of the strong light-dark contrast, so I use the grey.

I buy it in these large 1,000 meter spools. I pay about $7.80 for them at my local fabric store. The 100 meter spool, next to it in blue, costs about $3.00 each, so you can see it is a cost saver as well.And when I have to wind a bobbin, I wind up four of them at the same time. This way changing the bobbin is No Big Deal. When I get down to one full bobbin left, I fill the other three. So I always have at least three bobbins fully wound, and one in the machine.
I have a 30+ year old Kenmore sewing machine. It is made of metal, and sews zig-zag and 10 other stitches, which I very rarely use.My sewing room is very small, about 8 x 10 feet. My sewing machine sits on this little student desk, which measures 18 x 24". I keep an extra pair of inexpensive scissors in the desk for trimming threads. This pair of scissors NEVER moves from the sewing machine. I also have a bowl with extra needles, and little brushes to keep the feed dogs and bobbin area free of dust.

Underneath, on the floor, you see a plastic bin. This is so when I chain-piece all the pieces can fall into this neat, clean plastic bin. It makes it easy to grab everything when I am done.
All the other thread lives on this thread rack on the wall nearby, arranged by color and within easy reach, and there is a wastebasket right next to the machine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Leaders and Enders Explained

Here is a very brief picture demo of how I use Bonnie's Leaders and Enders.At the end of something, I start sewing through a block, and stop halfway through. This is where I am in the photo above. This block is the "leader."

See the pile of black and white blocks over on the right? Those are the pieces I will be using as "leaders and enders."
Now I am going to sew these two rows of red blocks together. I just start sewing, chain piecing style, right after the black and white "leader" block.
At the end of my row, I backstitch on the red, then insert a black and white block as an "ender," and sew about halfway through that. Then I stop sewing, and clip the red row apart from the "ender" now under my sewing machine needle. This "ender" now becomes the next "leader" for the next time I sew blocks (or whatever) together.This way I don't have those pesky loose threads that stick to everything. Of course, you have to have a bunch of "leaders and enders" ready to sew. For me, it's a way of making two quilts sort of at the same time.

Hope this helps.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Secret Project

I am working on a small swap quilt with a friend. It's a secret, so I can't show you anything except this picture of my worktable. The quilt top is all finished, so I'll be working on Gizzy Quilts for the rest of the week, then I'll finish up the swap quilt next weekend.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mini Quilts = Pot Holders

I made these two potholders following the instructions on the Sew, Mama, Sew! Blog. I even bought the Insul-Bright heat resistant batting. They are about 9" square, and I made them from scraps. I think they are great looking, and I kind of hate to use them. I'll get over it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Blue Tape

I want my scrappy quilts to look spontaneous, but they are very much planned. I do not just grab one piece and sew it to another, so I need a big work area to lay out the pieces and look at them.I don't have a big design wall on which to plan my quilts, and I think working on the wall would be a bit rough - I'm only five feet tall, and pinning something to a wall means getting up and down off a step stool, and that's just a lot of work. Besides, I want to be able to look at it from a distance.So I design my scrappy quilts on the floor. Since I hate measuring (and if I measure, I usually forget the measurement in about five minutes) I just make an outline of the top of the desired bed size on the floor using blue low-tack painter's tape. My apartment is in an old building, and it has a "vintage, mid-century" linoleum floor. It's nice and smooth, and it's rather tough. So the tape goes on, and comes off, easily. This outline (top picture above) is for a twin bed, with the extra bit at the bottom the dimension for a "long twin."
As you can see, it's rather useful.

Here my sister and I did the same thing when we assembled the quilt for Cassie.
And I don't just use it on the floor. Here it is stuck to my design table marked off to help me make 20" blocks.To make the outline on the floor, I have a 48" long metal ruler, and a large 45-45-90 triangle I use to make the shape a proper rectangle with 90-degree corners,and low tack painter's tape. I just happen to have it 2" wide, but you can use any size you have.I've left it down as long as two months, but I pull the tape up after each quilt.

The only disadvantage is that my cat loves to play "Slip and Slide."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What I've Been Doing

These are the quilts I have been working on while making the Bento Box blocks as leaders and enders.

This one is on its way to Vienna, Austria for a little boy. Each block has something interesting for him to look at. There are spiderwebs, letters, dinosaurs, lizards, frogs, butterflies, cats, dragons, toucans and fish. There are trains and apples, and tomatoes. It's 4' by 6'.Here's the back. The circus was its own panel, and I added the red, yellow and blue to make the backing bigger.
This is one of two baby quilts (3' x 4') for twins born on July 4th. Their mother is a huge baseball fan.
This is the second one.
And here are last night's Bento Box blocks, made as leaders and enders while I assembled the second RWB quilt. I have now sewn together 38 of these blocks. I only need 34 more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More Bentos

More Bento Blocks from Sunday, and I have six more ready to go as "leaders and enders" to use with the two small baby quilts I am working on right now.I really really really like this first one.

I love this turquoise and brown one.
This isn't brown, it's a very very deep dark purple. And the peacock feathers have a bit of lavender in them.
I love this blue toile.