Saturday, March 5, 2011

What is a toe wrap?. OH please let me explain...

Hi!! just give me a minute to compose myself....I am so honoured to be here. I hope I don't  just babble, apologies now just in case because it has been known! I'm Karen, from England, from
Contemporary Embroidery, the blog with a lot of babble and a little bit of embroidery.
I don't have any a, b, c or 1, 2, 3 step instructions for you today. It's more of a little chat about my ''toe wrap'' and how if you just let go, take things as they come without plan or restriction then it is possible to create something truly unique.
First of all though I should probably explain what a ''toe wrap'' is.....basically it's a throw, a blanket, a comforter. I call mine a toe wrap because I happened to mention on my blog that I would use this piece to warm my feet in a morning, when I first get up and am curled up on the sofa drinking my first cup of coffee. I then got lots of comments with people shrieking, ''no!!! it's far too lovely to be wrapped around toes!!''...so toe wrap it is.....
This cloth started life because as I sat one day packing sold things from my shop, saying goodbye to more embroidery, I had a sudden realisation that I actually didn't have any embroidery for myself. I was the embroiderer with no embroidery......this special piece was then born. No plan, no image of a finished piece in mind, nothing except the desire to embroider and embellish and to have a piece of cloth to hold close.
The construction could be loosely equated to crazy patchwork, irregular size pieces, decorative seams, lace ruffs. A strip of buttons from a vintage blouse used to join two sections of embroidered gingham, rouleau loops at an edge and a seam...the possibilities were endless. It didn't matter if it didn't work, it was for me. There wouldn't be any chance of the customer complaining that a seam didn't match. The freedom of working in that way is truly liberating,, only having yourself to answer to.

I gathered old pieces of lace trim along with torn doilies. Special little scraps of fabric that I had been keeping for something special. I appliqued tiny clippings of fabric. I explored almost every embroidery stitch I know. Backstitch, chain stitch, spiders web stitch, cross stitch. I had so much pleasure making tiny one inchhexagons and joining them haphazardly.
Minute pieces of fabric were stuffed with wadding and tied up into little balls to create a delicate trim, funky puffs I call them. I agonised over how to back it finally settling for gingham to comtinue the feeling of ''home'' that I get from this piece. My ''toe wrap'' has now spent many mornings comforting my feet and a few evenings too. It is cherished.
Once again I would just like to say that it has been an absolute honour to be here...I am truly grateful to Madame Samm for giving me this opportunity. Please do try and stop by my blog and say hi. We are very friendly and you may just have a nice time if you ignore the waffle that goes on over there!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Quilting by the seat of your pants, if you're wearing any!

Hi!  My name is Mary Ann Tate, and I'm here from
(boy that is a mouthful isn't it?)
If you've been to my blog or noticed my comments on other blogs, you might wonder how
in the world I can quilt with flowers in one hand
and a microphone in the other?
(My profile picture?)

Well, that pic was taken in another lifetime, about 16 years ago, when I was a blues singer, leading a blues band.
Then one day, all the band's equipment was stolen and the stress of it all brought on an autoimmune, Myasthenia Gravis Crisis.
 At the time, I had no idea I was sick, but since it hit my tongue and breathing, singing was out the question and my life took and unexpected turn.
Long story short, I spent the next few years allowing Alex Anderson to come into my living room twice a day to teach me to quilt because watching TV and reading was about all I could do.

This first picture is the quilt that started it all.
The one that Grandma Jarvis made, and I slept under as a child.
The beginning of my quilting dream.

I have to say that when I got strong enough to start sewing again,
(I made all my sisters and my clothes when I was in high school),
it felt like things were getting back to some kind of normal, but I had a long way to go.

Quilting was my rehabilitation.
I started by going to a weekly quilting group and having that to look forward to, helped me get stronger.
I'd start thinking about what I would do the next Tuesday with my friends, instead of, 
"Gee, which is going to expire first?  Me or the Milk?" 

I learned a lot with this next quilt, and I designed it....the first year I started quilting pretty much by the "seat of my pants".  Round by round, not knowing a thing.
I learned about coping strips because 3 inch blocks, 5 inch blocks and 12 inch blocks don't go together so well in a medallion quilt.
I learned that if you don't square up your blocks you get really wonky places, but you CAN make darts on the top and nobody will ever know if you don't tell them.  whoops!!  Did I say that?
I learned that a busy back will hide a lot of problems and you can't even SEE the pleats if you applique them down. (Truly!)


 This next quilt is a Stack a Whack made out of beautiful nativity fabric.
When I finally settled into my style of quilting I figured out that I didn't like to mark because that was too much work and took too much time.  So I started just trying to see the marks already on the quilt, (the squares and triangles etc.), and quilt within those lines.
Letting go of marking is scary, but you can practice on your guild's charity quilts and you'd be amazed how fast you will develop your own style, and your guild will love you!

Bethany's Nativity
 Click on the photos to see the quilting up close.
Back of Bethany' Nativity

This is the Class sample for my trapunto class.
(I use Quilt Quilt Savvy by Diane Gaudynsky for the class.)
Tapunto sample

Here's one of my favorite quilts I have quilted for someone else.
The pattern is Gathering Basket by J. Michelle Watts. When I was done with this quilt, I was very pleased and so was the customer! 

Gathering Basket

Back of Gathering basket
Here is my guild's, the Mid-Del Stitchin' Sisters Quilt Guild,
first opportunity quilt.
The block came from Quilter's Cache, Album patch,
and we sent off 3 1/2" squares too celebrity quilters for siggies, made the top and I quilted it.

Opportunity Quilt

Here are two close ups.  This was a lot of work!!!
Signature blocks closeups
Opportunity quilt closeups
 I'm almost done, I have one last quilt to show.
this, is Garden Tiles From Quiltmaker magazine March/April 07 ( Quiltmaker)

I made this one to showcase quilting.  It cried out for feathers, so that's what I did.

When I do feathers I only mark the wreath's spine and the inner point where the feathers should center. 
It took me several months to complete, sneaking it between customers quilts so when I look at it I can see how my feather evolved from one kind to another.
The feather swaths in between the wreaths were all done totally free hand.
For those of you that have never done feathers, they are fun and forgiving.
They're like water, they just fill in the space.
You can put them anywhere.

Why quilting by the seat of your pants if you're wearing any?
Wellllll?   It's not like you're getting a whole lot of exercise while your quilting, ya know!
Quilting your butt off? More like quilting your butt bigger!
So those pants just may be getting a little bit tight, and any way, you may be at the age that you are experiencing your own personal summer and sitting underneath a big quilt with pants on can be downright hot.
Take your pants off!
Get comfortable.
Don't wait.
Start quilting today.

Thanks for letting me come by today, Madame Samm, I had a good time.
Come over and see me at my blog.
I don't have any fancy giveaways.
But I do giveaway a lot of tips on quilting and sometimes I tell a funny story or two.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Well that is a lot of CRAP...I mean SCRAPS...yes scraps = material!

Winner #95 Shannon, please connect with me, with your address...will be sending you 4 spools of Aurifil...
congrats and thanks for such great comments for Jenny...she was thrilled...and loved the perks..
YOU peeps Rock... nighty nite mdm samm

Hello everyone...I'm Jenny and I blog at Cut.Sew.Iron.Repeat.  I must confess...my post today is an experiment I have just cooked up.  I have been overwhelmed by my scraps and after shipping off 5 USPS Flat Rate Envelopes full of scraps to my blog readers, I have not even dented my scrap piles.

So...being a quilter, I thought...why not just sew them all together?  That is what I have done.  I started with a pile of scraps.

Mostly strips and squares.

I then chain pieced them together at the machine...not paying attention to fabrics or what piece fit best where.
It took me 5 rounds of sewing...ironing...and trimming.  Each time condensing the scraps into larger blocks.
This picture shows, in order, trash scraps, potentially usable scraps for small projects and then the next three piles are my groups of blocks sewn together.

This picture shows my finished product along with a few blocks leftover.

So I am excited and encouraged by the fact that I went from a pile of scraps shoved into a shoe box to a usable piece of fabric nearly the size of a fat quarter!

I have seen other quilters use this method in their piece-work...the first that comes to mind is Victoria at Bumble Beans. She does some incredible work...and my Flickr friends have pointed me in the direction of Completely Cauchy who also does amazing things with scraps.

So if this idea interests you, why not give it a try.  Nothing ventured nothing gained...and who doesn't have a few thousand scraps lying around?

I know this is short and sweet, but I also have a giveaway...
I KNOW, leave me a comment here, 
 what color is your dominant scraps...
( I would have said orange for me)
and please come and see me at my blog and leave me a comment too...
so I know you came to visit...

GIVEAWAY is some THREADS from Aurifil...
4 of them...like some? not necessarily these colors..
but 4 threads in different thread counts...
Thanks to Carola for the giveaway..
I don't want to wear out my welcome..
 so thanks for having me..

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Quilt As You Go (QAYG)

Edit on the Pot Holder give-away

Well done "gill" - I will need your mailing address but I have sent off an email...

Gill has no blog but is from Gloucester, United Kingdom


Hello - I am Fiona from BubzRugz and I am very honoured that Samm has invited me to be a guest blogger.  Stash Manicure is one of my favourite blogs. I get such a lot of inspiration from the guests... today I hope I can pass a bit of inspiration on to you....

As a relatively new quilter I don't feel I have a HUGE stash yet... but of course there is always something lurking in the cupboards waiting to be used.....
This QAYG is great for a beginner or experienced quilter, and although there is quite a bit of preparation work the final quilt grows so quickly.

This is one of my first quilts:

That's a queen size bed. I overestimated the fabric I would need and thus my stash was born..... so today we are going to bust the black and white stash....
(this method lends itself well to any stash colours - scrappy, ranges etc - just have fun with it.....)

My big tip to quilting is relaxation and enjoyment.... so get out a glass mug of your favourite wine coffee ..... you may need a snack.... like chocolate cake..

and then go and raid the fabric stash cupboard.....
 You will need:
  • your stash fabrics - remember you can use scraps - but you want at 11" - 18" lengths - any width will do
  • your wadding. There is usually some of a suitable size left from cutting the edges of the wadding from other quilts - so you may even be able to use your wadding scraps
  • your backing fabric
  • spray baste
Firstly cut your backing and wadding into squares - I used 11" squares which would be cut back to 10".  Cut as many as required to make your desired quilt size.

 Prepare your backing and wadding blocks by spray basting the wadding (some people are happy just with ironing and it does work for small projects - I like the firm hold of the spray) 

~ carefully lay on the backing ~

~ use a ruler to ensure it is nice and smooth ~

~ wadding and backing happy together ~

  ~ continue until you have a nice pile of backed wadding ~

Great job
... time to refill your glass mug, and maybe have a snack too - like cream and jam scones .....

~ Find your stash of fabric strips ~
 ~ I used black on white and white on black with a range of designs ~


~ I used a variety of straight strips and not straight strips. 

What do I mean you say??? 
(hold on - I'll just have another glass slice sip). 

Some pieces I join together and then make a strip... whatever the shape it can be used...... the only rule is the EDGES MUST BE STRAIGHT.


You will need strips longer than the 11" as some will be on the diagonal - they will need to be as long as 17".  I leave my strips as long as I can and trim as I use...

Have in your mind the block designs you want to use - these are my basic shapes...

Top Row (from left to right)
~ straight strips on the diagonal ~
~ slanted strips back and forward ~
~ slanted strips on the diagonal back and forward ~
~ Straight strips back and forward~

 Bottom Row (from left to right)
 ~ fan from the corner ~
~ slanted strips on the diagonal ~
~ fan from the centre ~
~ straight strips on the diagonal (Repeat) ~

~ No rules ~
~ except for the STRAIGHT EDGES ~

OK.... so go refill your glass mug and lets get making blocks
(I'll just have a little snack if you don't mind)

~ Right - ready to sew ~

~ lay your first strip ~
whatever your design the method is the same
sometimes you can start from the centre and others at an edge

~ lay your second strip right sides together (RST) ~

~ press ~

 ~ as I said I make strips as I go ~
(I am using scrap stash)

~ RST - straight edges ~

~ keep going ~

~ stop a while if you need a drink snack ~

  ~ lay, stitch, press, lay, stitch, press, L, S, P,......~

~ almost there ~

~ block is covered ~

~ now turn over the block and trim to size ~

~ beautiful ~

~ keep going with all your blocks ~

~ until you have a beautiful pile ~

~ scrumptiousness ~

~ now for that cuppa of your favourite refreshment ~

~ there might even be a slice of cake left ~

Join together with your favourite method of sashing
~ this is how I did mine - it makes a sashing of 1/2" between the blocks ~
this is enough to bind the quilt together there is no adding extra wadding and no double wadding edges that are bulky to sew

Firstly lay out your blocks

I label mine so that I know where they fit
I'm a bit anal about wanting stripes to go this way and that and get a fair mix
(in this case of the splashes of red)

Of your sashing you will need strips of 1" and 1 1/2".  Press the 1 1/2 inch in half lengthways

Start by cutting enough 10" lengths to join the blocks

with your first block place the 1" strip RST to the backing side of the block

then lay the folded 1 1/2" strip raw edges together on the top of that same side
so we have a sandwich of back 1" strip, quilted block, folded 11/2" strip
Pin these in place

I get them all ready and sew, sew, sew

~ separate the blocks and trim the sashing if required ~

~ your pile of blocks with sashing ~
~ do not add the sashing to the outer edges - ONLY the edges that are joining to another block ~

~ next you join the other side of the 1" strip to the next block (RST)
sorry for the black - you can't see the stitching

~ the 1" is now 1/2" which butts both edges of the block perfectly together ~
~ the top folded sashing is only sewn on one side ~

~ lay your blocks flat and pin down the top sashing - this is the folded edge of the folded sashing - which is now 1/2" - exactly the same as the backing ~
~ sew this down ~

~ close up picture ~

~ once you have joined up the rows you start the same process ~
~ this time along the whole length of a row of blocks ~

 ~join, join, join,  this is fun ~

~ add the binding and the quilt is done ~

~ at this time you may like to celebrate ~
~ bring out the really pretty tea set ~

~ lemon sponge anyone? ~

When I made this the first time I used 5 basic designs for the squares and also 5 different backings
it was a little more tricky laying it out because I had to be aware of both sides

~ but it is a fully reversible quilt ~
~ change it to suit the mood ~
~ this one was made for DES and DIL ~

~ and don't forget to label your quilt ~
~ mine is pretty simple ~

I'd love to hear from you so please feel free to comment or visit me HERE ......
and if there are any questions feel free to ask

Oh, and by the way, there was a few strips scraps left so I have made a hot pot rug (9" square)
~ include the word Stash in your comment and I'll put you in to win ~

the wadding is insul-bright and
it looks just like one of the strippy blocks with a little hanging tag