Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Little Tense over the Tension!

Yesterday I started experiencing tension issues with my HQ Simply Sixteen.  So I danced right on over to YouTube! I watched several videos on thread tension, but these two were the most helpful for me: Taking the Stress Out of Tension and Adjusting Bobbin Tension.  Both have proven to be very informative.  Now my biggest issue is that once I get the tensions set and looking great, I still occasionally have bobbin thread blinking to the top. It isn't every stitch, just every little bit and usually in a loop or curve.  I know I can figure it out, it will just take time and practice, but in the mean time it is making me a little crazy. 

Despite the tension troubles, I have been having a lot of fun practicing.  I have found several remnants of backing width fabrics to load and use for my practicing.  I also went in to the local Ben Franklin's sidewalk sale and purchased some printed panels to use in my attempts as well.  They were all on the clearance table with an additional 50% off. Score!  The plan is to practice edge to edge motifs for a bit longer then "execute" them on the panels. Pardon the pun!  Some of the panels are seasonal. so I can take them to my classroom and hang them on the door.  The others can become table runners or something.

The stars are fairly easy, but spacing and figuring
"lyrics" are still in the works!  Down, up, over,
across, up. Now do the Loop de lou!
  I have also been cutting the practice pieces up to use later.  I inspect my work and find the sections that look the best.  Then I cut them into the largest pieces I can.  I am saving them to make potholders or bags or place mats, and such later.  This way I can toss the messes and admire the successes! I am finding this to be a good a way to use up my older stash as well.

In the mean time, I feel that I am conquering the STAR.


P.S.  Last night I returned to my comfort zone for some much needed relaxation--PATCHWORK!  That did the trick!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Day 3--I THINK I CAN become a free motion quilter--or a dancer!

Really, I am starting to feel like I might just be able to do a fair job of quilting a small quilt with an edge to edge motif by the end of next week. Unless the contractors come to remodel my bathroom--then it may be a while.

Today was a pretty good practice session.  I tried to work with my loops and duplicate a tight horizontal motif that is really a bit vertical.  I have seen it before, and I think it looks quite lovely in borders and such. I did find as I practiced that I was having trouble changing directions at some spots in a design and/or when I tried to come back across the quilt.

 Oh, first I need to tell you that I am a south paw. I use scissors in my right hand, but I do everything else left-handed.   Now this is the problem I am experiencing: I start on the left side of the quilt and move to the right as if I were reading.  I can manage most of the turns and twists that I have tried when I travel that direction, but when I try to come back from the right, it is like I have no clue what I am even trying to create!  Crazy! I think it may have something to do with the way I think or navigate life in general because of my left-handedness.

I should also probably tell you that I have an empty nest, my husband works during the day, and I often do not speak from the time he leaves until he comes home. (Don't worry, I make up for it when I am around people or all school year in my classroom!)   HOWEVER! today I heard my voice loud and clear for about an hour, an it almost startled me.  I realized that I speak the motif when I am practicing--to the left, to the left, to the left, so I finally figured out that I need to say--to the right, to the right, to the right--to return from right to left.  I am sure if anyone had come into my house and heard me, they would have wondered what kind of a dance I was trying to do! But it really worked.
To the left, to the left!

To the right, to the right!

Now that I have thought about this, I think it might be a key to learning the process. So if saying them aloud and reversing the direction to come back is going to make a difference, then that is what I am going to do.  Just promise you won't judge me, if you ever run into the crazy lady talking herself through her work. ;>)


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day 2--Learning to free motion quilt on my HQ Simply Sixteen:

Well I must say that my second day proved to be a good day of learning.

Three things I learned today:  1. It pays to "doodle" the designs for a while first!  2. Relax, the word "free" means many things go. 3. It is just PRACTICE at this point.

I have been doodling easy designs I have seen for some time now.  These are some of the motifs I am trying to accomplish first. I believe that when the experts say doodle and practice the motifs, they are correct!  The ones I can make look decent on paper, look better on fabric for me even this early in the game.

 Like many quilters I know, free motioning on my standard machine makes me a nervous wreck.  I want to control every stitch.  Tonight I looked at some examples of good free motion designs up close--amazing what increasing a screen to 250 or more can do!  So I have decided to relax a little and let it be a "free" activity for me.  Not every stitch can be in the perfect spot--just most of them.

And, practice makes perfect. No one is perfect without practice.  So I will move on to Day 3 with a positive attitude and happy happy thoughts.

Stay relaxed and positive!
Feeling good about meanders!

Pretty proud of this little leaf!  Been doodling
leaves my whole life!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A New Toy for the Sewing Room--Handi Quilter Simply Sixteen on a 10' frame

So I really promised myself that I would start writing and sharing again this summer.  June was crazy for me as my husband and I took a car trip to Maine.  It was a wonderful trip with great seafood and amazing scenery. We had a great time and hated to come home, but family and jobs are here. So, we are too.   On the way home, we stopped to see our grandson and his parents who live a few blocks from a terrific quilt store, O Sew Personal.  My plan was to stop by and look at the Handi Quilter Simply Sixteen machine one more time.  Did that! Bought it!

The next day I ripped up carpet, polished the old wood floor, and moved my sewing room into a much bigger space. Today, Kelly and her assistant came to my house and installed my new machine.  I was so excited, I probably talked their legs off! Sorry ladies!

Once they finished and left, I fixed the Red Snappers and installed them then got to my first real practice session.  Here are the results.

I still need to move the closets around and do some organizing, but maybe I will get to that after a bathroom remodel and the new wears off the HQ! Practice! Practice! Practice!

Talk soon!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lazy or Just a Much Needed Sewing Hiatus

I can not decide if I am getting lazy in my older age, or if I have just been giving myself a much needed break from my sewing and knitting habit.  However, since I am not really a fan of laziness or even the word lazy, I am going to say that is has been a much needed break from sewing, so I could develop my knitting skill, which is not quite up to par yet.  I have also been exercising most days with some fellow staff members and trying just keep up with life in general.  Time suckers for sure!  I must say though that I truly look forward to that workout everyday, and I am grateful to my partners in  health who have been there keeping me moving and motivating me ever step of the way.

As of the last few weeks, I can with all honesty say "I'm baaaack!"  Ideas have been haunting me at night and sewing has been happening in my little woman cave! I have made a few trips to my favorite quilt store, Material Girl Quilt Shop, and my inspiration is on the upswing.  I have not made anything too original that I can take credit for yet, but truly some fun sewing for my gift stash and some very important people is in the works. So this is what I have been up to lately.

Pinwheel quilt--I love the colors.  I used a charm pack from Moda--my favorite fabric brand--and the Missouri Star Quilt Company pinwheel shortcut!  I love the vibrant colors, and talk about a fast baby quilt!  I even tried something new--blocks on point.  I have been quilting for about 15 years and had never done a block on point!  Love it.

Mother's Work--I also finally finished my mother's quilt.  I realized that I am still hand quilting on a baby quilt top of hers, so it was okay to finish this one! Her work is still not finished in my heart, anyway!
That is all I can share today, but I can finally say that I am working on all sorts of things as of this past weekend, so be ready.  I have my stitchin' fever back, and soon I might even feel like I can show you some of my knitting projects!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Where Did Summer Go?

I am a teacher, so every year about April I start making my list of things to make over the summer. This summer I had a very long list of sewing accomplishments to achieve, but honestly I think I deserve a C for my efforts.  I started off with a stitch, but ended up in a knot!  I wish I could say my dog ate my batting or something, but that is not the case.

In June I did a great deal of sewing and knitting for my new grandbaby, and taught a sweet young lady to sew through 4-H.  Since then I have been attending a conference, traveling back and forth to see the grandson, vacationing, and cleaning.  Now summer is over for me.  Frankly, I am sort of glad. Maybe I can get back in my routine and get to sewing and knitting again.  

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine and I took the day to go to Missouri Star Quilt Company and Sew Sweet Quilt Shop.  We had a great time, and great food at Poppy's Bakery and Kaitlynn's Deli.  We even found a terrific resale shop, Upriver, and truly came home inspired to get busy again. Here in the Midwest, we have so many little gems of our own to make this wonderful hobby--lifestyle--truly wonderful.  It was nice to make this trek
and rejuvenate with great company. Of course I still love my favorite little store, Material Girl Quilt Shop, closer to home, but these shops are fantastic too.

 So, last night after my workout to counteract all that great food,  I took a break from the world and made this little cuff bracelet to add to my jewelry collection--in about a week I will have to wear real clothes again! I thought this might add a little something to my accessories!

Hope you had a great stitching summer.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Mother's Work Is Never Done

It has been such a long time since I have posted anything! It seems that most of my winter and spring sewing and knitting has been for the creation of gifts, and one-of-a-kinds for my grandson, who is due to arrive very soon. So now that I have all of that under control and most of it gifted, it is time for me to settle in to my summer routine of work a little and play a lot. I just haven't really known where to start writing since school let out, and I am officially a summer retiree--that is until yesterday!

 Yesterday, I had a few minutes before my 4-H friend arrived for a little sewing lesson, so I sat down at the machine and started attaching the binding on a quilt that has been laying around my house for about 3 years. It was my mom's quilt top that I found in her sewing stuff after she passed away. I took it to my long arm quilter and had it quilted in the "Jitter Bug" pattern about a year after Mom died. She loved to dance the Jitter Bug, so that seemed fitting. Since then it has laid in one place or another around my sewing room with the binding neatly wound in a "jelly roll" on top of it. I just never have been able to find the time to finish it.

 Yesterday when I actually found the time, I realized I had not really wanted to finish it for those 3 years. I started sewing, and that feeling I get when I think about my mom and all her work--needle and otherwise--washed over me. Her favorite question was always, "have you got your work done?" My favorite answer was always "I am working on it, MOM." As long as everybody was working on something, she was happy because she was always working. Even her sewing and flower arranging was considered her work. It hit me in those moments that if I finished her quilt, her work would be done! I found that hard to imagine, so I stopped before I got all the way around.

 Last night I told my husband about my work on my mom's quilt, and he responded with "don't finish it!" Even he understood.  I gave it some thought and decided to at least finish attaching the binding. I am not sure when I will get around to sewing it down by hand, but at least I can say, "I am working on it!"

 Glad to be back!