Thursday, June 22, 2017

Just Hatched

Smaller birds have done it in the past.  Larger birds have looked and decided it was not a good idea.  Until this spring.  Robins decided to build a nest on my very old, brittle blueberry twig wreath on the front porch.  Now a robin's nest is pretty sturdy, lots of mud, straw, grasses, etc.  And heavy.  And it made the heart-shaped wreath tilt significantly to the side.  But two eggs were deposited....

Standing on the rocking chair near the nest I was able to see these:




I also got a short movie, but I have not been able to upload it successfully.  I really do love where I live.  These two successfully fledged, and the parents have stopped hollering at me every time I move!  I don't miss that!

The phoebes are nesting again!  So they are hollering at me on the side porch.

Next up?  Yes, it's something quilty again!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Even Smaller Thimbles

These things are so much fun!  This is hand pieced with 1-3/8 inch finished thimbles (measuring from top to bottom), and machine quilted in turquoise thread.  Because of the smaller scale, I decided to quilt 1/8 inch from each seam line.  (Note:  On the larger thimbles/tumblers, I machine quilted 1/4 inch from each seam line.)  The fabrics are from Juniper Berry by BasicGrey.  (Love that line and their new Christmas one as well!)


The back.  A bit more "Christmas-y" than the front (Jingle by Kate Spain).  Because I had cut the front so that the directional fabrics all faced the same way, I needed to make some kind of hanging method, but I also needed something that would lie flat if I decided to use it on a table.  Check this out!



While checking out a new-to-me blog, I took a look at the tutorials of Laurraine Yuyama.  The directions for adding these quick, easy, and flat hangers are linked here (just click on her name to go directly to the directions).  The only things I did differently are that I didn't topstitch the folds, and I only added the triangles to the top edge.  I stuck my ruler in so that you can see where a dowel can be inserted as a hanger!  Works great on smaller pieces, but I wouldn't do this on something too wide (not enough support in the middle).

In the second photo above, you can just barely see the corner triangles when they are not filled with the dowel.  Perfect finish for those of us who can't make up our mind on hanging or not hanging a piece!



While you are Laurraine's site also check this out:  https://patchworkpottery.blogspot.com/2016/09/hollyhocks.html.  This was my introduction to Laurraine's blog and I still love it!  

Okay, that's it for today.  It's been hot and humid with even more of both forecast for tomorrow.  Stay cool (in the temperature sense; you are already too cool for words in real life!).

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Friday, June 9, 2017

Another Finish

Two-inch tall thimbles/tumblers with a wintry feel--and another striped binding.  Hand pieced and machine quilted.


And the back.  Because the front reads as "directional", I added a sleeve to hang it.  And the backing is definitely directional!  (And, yes, Virginia, it is signed on the back--decided against a separate label this time.)


Here are those fabulous Phoebes!  About two days before they fledged.  Four in that tiny nest, right outside my side door!



Thanks for reading!  More finishes on the way!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon


Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Bit of Both

Realizing that some of you like just quilting and some like a variety of things, here's a post that combines quilting with...birds.  (Okay, one bird.)

This top is hand pieced (elongated hexagons turned on their sides) and machine quilted.  I especially love how the stripe works for the binding--all straight cut, no bias!


After getting the entire piece finished, I looked at the back and had that "Wow, I could have done..." moment.  I could have quilted from the back and used the trees as my guide!  Much too late for this baby, but I've got a bunch of this fabric left....


 And, in keeping with the theme (Cardinals), here's a proud male sitting on my power line.


Be sure to take a look at this post by Dutch Comfort (here) for a visual feast of what she's been working on.  For those of you who love the Australian designers, it's a real treat.

There are several finishes in the wings awaiting their turn to star on the blog.  They are impatient, so stay tuned!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Friday, May 26, 2017

Update

Hops vines, anyone?  This pic was taken several days ago.  Now all the vines are up to the top and trailing.  All the light green you see at the base of the shed are new runners (i.e., volunteer plants).  I usually just trim them back with the mower, but haven't gotten there yet this year.


The summit has been reached!


 This is just too funny!  I was sitting at the kitchen table recently and heard a lot of chattering going on outside.  I thought it was a disgruntled bird, but when it continued I got up to find out the cause.  Imagine my surprise to find the chipmunk clinging to the rabbit's ear!  The pic is dark because I was inside the house, taking the picture through the window, and it was really sunny in the background.  He stayed there for quite a while, chattering all the time.

I wonder what the rabbit thought about being used as a perch!  (Before anyone asks, it is plastic!)


I've been busy teaching and doing all kinds of needlework.  Things to show should be appearing in the next few days.

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Blah, blah, blah

Last time you got just a picture; this time you get all words! 

What I found out is that I can post from my smartphone if I don't put in a lot of text.  So there may be more wordless posts in the future!

The piece on the last post was hand pieced using 1.5 inch sixty degree diamonds.  It's not very big but I have been testing the best way to set tumbling blocks together into a top.  I think I have it finally figured out--stay tuned!

The plan is to trim the seams, baste, and hand quilt this little cutie.  And I have another laid out using 2 inch finished diamonds.  It's a departure in color for me--soft teals, tans, browns, corals.

I had the best time riding Pompera today.  Outside in the cool breeze, birds singing, just a great day!

Also:  Many thanks to those of you who commented on the last post.  Arlene, you could send me a picture of your Dresden by email and I will put it up on the blog for all to enjoy.  Jocelyn, nice to hear from you again.  As for the other six of you--thanks for being "frequent reply-ers"!  Makes my day.

That's enough blah, blah for now.  But, you have to admit, it was truth in advertising for the header!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Great Quilt Show--This Weekend

Today was spent touching quilts, lots and lots of quilts!!!!  I had the great privilege of judging the Common Threads Quilters Guild Show.  Trust me, there are so many wonderful quilts you don't want to miss it.


And the raffle quilt is even more impressive in person than shown on the postcard.  It's supposed to be a wet, rainy weekend--perfect for a drive and a tour of the quilt show.  

Blissful hugs,
Sharon


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sewing Al Fresco

I spent the afternoon sewing  on the front porch.  Yep, that's a horse blanket.  Nope, that is not Belle.  She was having a snit fit and had to go for a time out.  Pinch-hitting was my 301.  Pretty massive repairs on two blankets.  Functional, yes.  Pretty, no.  


It was a great day to be outside, plus it probably meant the people driving by were wondering what I was up to!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

P.S.  I also updated the schedule on both the blog and on the website.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Counterfeit Needles UPDATE and a Sneak Peak

Greetings!  In my last post it may have appeared that I don't use Organ brand needles any more.  NOT TRUE!!!  I am just more cautious about where I buy.  Here is my go-to source:  Home Sew.

I've ordered from them for years and have never had a problem.  The "bad" batch was from an overseas seller (can we say DUH?)

Home Sew has an extensive catalog and website.  Stuff you never thought you might need, but now that you've seen it....


Here are the needles I order, marked with an X.  I usually use Size 11 for piecing, and have started using Size 14 when I am doing what little machine quilting I can manage.   If you sew knits, the Ballpoints are also excellent.  These are excellent needles at an exceptional price.  


And the sneak peak.



How is your grass growing?  My hops vines are already up about 8 inches!  

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Friday, April 14, 2017

Counterfeit Needles

In the world of "what-the-?", this has to be one that I never would have thought of.  

Several months ago I bought machine needles in bulk online.  Ten packs of ten needles each for a great price.  I've used Organ brand needles for years and had ordered from this seller before with no problem.  (I am NOT saying it is the seller who is doing the counterfeiting!)  

My mom and I both had trouble with the thread breaking every stitch or two--very frustrating, as you all know.  I started doing a bit of research and found that there was a warning on the Organ needle site about--counterfeit needles!  This was from back in 2015.  

Now I was determined to see what the differences were so that I could tell easily--you know, before the thread broke!

Test yourself.  In the next pictures there are what look like identical packs of needles.  Before looking under the picture for the answers, see if you can spot the differences.

Picture One:



Differences:  The pack on the left has Organ in white letters, the colors on the package are a bit different, the picture of the lady playing the organ is not as distinct, and the trademark symbol is bigger.  The writing at the bottom of the packet is also larger on the left.


Picture Two:



Differences:  A bit harder to tell, isn't it?  On the package on the left, a different font is used.  The word Size is used and the numbers 75/11 are offset.  Also notice the logo on the flap--see the differences?


Picture Three:



Differences:  This is the real kicker--the one on the left is just plain foil, poorly folded and crammed into the packet.  The one on the right has the official Organ embossed paper wrapper.

Here is a close-up of the wrappers.  What a glaring difference.  But if you didn't know, the wadded wrapper would not be a red flag.


Bottom line?  The packet on the right is the real Organ brand.  

I LOVE Organ brand needles.  I use them every day.  They are a superior needle at a reasonable price.  The needle is probably the cheapest item we use for sewing/quilting.  But people are reluctant to change them as often as they should because of the cost.  

Did you know that you should be changing your needle after every 8 hours of sewing?  Yes--that could mean a new needle every day--or even twice a day.  Don't change it just when it breaks.  There is no prize for using one needle for 25 straight years!!!!!  A cheap item that can cause a lot of damage to hundreds of dollars worth of fabric in a short time.  If you are not sure when you changed it last--CHANGE IT!

Is your machine making a lot of noise?  Change the needle and see if that helps--it cannot hurt!

While you are at it, how are your pins?  Are they dull, dinged up, just plain hard to use?  Treat yourself to a new box or two and enjoy your quilting time.  Life is too short to use inferior tools.  Yes, you can consider this as your note of permission for new stuff.

The case of the counterfeit needles:  CLOSED.

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Blog Prize Reveal

Diane G. guessed correctly on the "what came in the box" blog contest.  This is what's on its way to her:


It's a hexagon-shaped fabric dish!



Just right for small items you keep on your sewing table, bedside table, or even in a travel kit to put threads and snippets in.  I know Diane loves horses and teal/turquoise is her favorite color.


I hope she enjoys it!

If you would like to make some of these for yourself or for gifts, visit here for the Pinkadot Quilts tutorial.  They are quick and easy to make, all machine made...and fun!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

P.S.  The next post will tell you about some counterfeit needles I've encountered--I know, who would even think of counterfeiting needles....

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

And the Winner Is...

No One!  No one guessed an inflatable horse!!!!!  


Okay, not really...but what a perfect place to use that line!

The real winner is Diane G!!!!!!  Mari T was a pretty close second, but she was a bit too specific this time.

Thank you to all who played!  It has kept me in stitches to see your guesses!  Some quite creative!  Some I could only dream of having.... sigh.

Some of you know that I have been doing some simple horse blanket repairs on my regular sewing machines.  Not the easiest to do.  So I had been putting off doing any more repairs and giving the horses stern lectures about ripping their blankets.  Alas, that ploy only works so long.  And repairs are once again needed.

So I started investigating something short of an industrial sewing machine.  It had to be sturdy, have a bit of extra clearance between the throat plate and the bottom of the presser foot, and be reasonably priced.  Good stitching through multiple layers of denim, nylon, etc.  I looked on Craigs List and didn't find anything.  So...I went to eBay.  I found a machine I fell in love with in a pretty turquoise color, great samples, lots of info.  The price wasn't too bad, but it was an auction and I had time to come to my senses before bidding.  In the meantime I did some research and had questions for several of the sellers.  Some responded promptly and answered all my questions, some answered some of the questions and disregarded others.

After I came to my senses and realized I was about to pay a pretty substantial sum for a machine to repair horse blankets, I watched the end of the auction and it went for way more than I would have paid anyway.  So the people who were very honest and answered all my questions were having a buy-it-now for a Universal class 15 clone.  And I bought it RIGHT THEN!  For a ridiculously low price that would make you swoon.  It came yesterday--extremely well packaged.  She's from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

TaDa:


Look at how lovely her decals are!



She has some cosmetic dings and scratches; I can live with that.  It makes me feel less guilty about using her for blanket repairs (which is her job).



Here it shows, from left to right, sewing through two layers, four layers, and eight layers of flannel.



On and off four and eight layers, using just forward and back.  No hesitation.


Multiple layers of denim.



And her lovely face.  When the Singer patent ran out on the Class 15 machines, Japan used the plans to make many "clones", using different company names on them and painting them different colors (the turquoise one I looked at was a Sewmor, also a Class 15 clone).  I now really have to watch my Ps and Qs--the real class 15 Singers were like the Featherweights--flat side of needle to the left, P for inserting the bobbin, threading the needle from right to left.  Well--the Clones are exactly the opposite--flat side of the needle on the right, thread from left to right, bobbin makes a Q!  If I'm not sure which one I have in front of me (aka cannot read), all I have to do is lift them!  The Universal is definitely the weight lifter in the mix!  She's sturdy, she's pretty and she's here to work.  



I think I will call her Belle Fleur.

Congratulations again, Diane!  Want a woodchuck as your prize?  (Just kidding!)

And thank you once again to all who played.  This was such a fun thing to do!  Stay tuned for the next "flash contest"!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

 P.S.  Barbara B, you won a prize from a prior contest but I have no way to contact you.  My suspicion is that I will see you in a couple weeks--you can leave a comment here to confirm or email me.

P.P.S.  I know some people will be shocked at hearing me talk about using my Featherweights to mend horse blankets, or be even more shocked that I would use Belle for that task.  All these girls were made to work and work hard.  That's why they have survived over half a century and still work great.  

P.P.P.S.  No, do NOT send me your horse blankets to mend.  I hate mending, but I love those horses!!!!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's a Contest!

What do you think came packed in this? It just came today, and a winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 8, at 9:30 p.m. The first one to guess correctly will win!  If you all are stumped, there will be a random drawing for a winner. So everyone has a chance to win--but only if you play! Good luck!

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Small Flimsy

Small is good...and fast. I've finally learned to do small projects when I need process pics for handouts. The processes are exactly the same whether big or small. So this afternoon I cut, marked and hand pieced this pretty and have all the pictures done.

Not to mention making and basting five quilt labels. Now I can hand sew them as I have time.

Not too shabby for a Monday!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Basting

Today was spent finishing the tumbler top, trimming the large hexie top, and adding borders to the small hexies. And then I hand basted all three. A very satisfactory day!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Halloween--Coffins???

Yes, that's right....  For a person who hates Halloween and trick or treating (yes, even as a kid), I have a fairly large collection of Halloween fabrics and quilts!  I think it's the novelty (!) of the fabrics HEHEHE!

This is another hand pieced top.  If you look closely, you may be able to see the flowers formed by the coffins. Some are full flowers and some are partially hidden behind others.  


It looks totally different when viewed horizontally.  I decided to machine quilt this one.  We'll just say it was a learning experience.  Where to start and stop the quilting to make the flowers more defined, especially the ones that were underneath others.  What to do about the green leaves?  But I persevered and finished the quilting and got the binding machine sewn on in an afternoon.


The backing was pieced from fabric samples I had in my stash.  I love the Halloween-but-different-era-vibe compared to the fabrics on the front.  I tied knots and buried the thread ends.


In my next life I am going to be a better photographer LOL.  

I did finish quilting the Bee quilt and will show it once I get the binding on.  It is quite fetching, if I do say so myself.

Hope you are all surviving this weather.  So crazy.  

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Friday, February 10, 2017

Getting Closer

I've spent most of the day hand quilting this piece. About an hour more to finish the quilting. I've decided to use this as a wall hanging instead of a table mat.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More Winners

You probably thought I had forgotten about those random prize drawings--but I didn't!

These tumbling block ornaments are newly-made and a limited edition of 12.  This combination of fabrics will not be used again by me--ever.

The tops are hand pieced.  The tops are layered with batting and a muslin back, machine sewn around the perimeter and then turned and hand stitched closed.  


Here they are signed, numbered, and ready to go to the winners.





 And the winners are (drum roll please):

Rose P.
* Barbara B.
* Kathleen C.
Susan M.
Pat B.
Cindy O.
Deb H.
Pat A.

Barbara and Kathleen, please email me your snail mail addresses to sharon@sharonstroud dot com.

Cindy O, I have your address.  And the rest of you I will see over the next week or so--and they will be hand delivered.

While you are wishing that you had commented and thus won an ornament, take a look at the placement of fabrics in the ornaments.  It's the light/medium/dark that makes them look 3D.  

Thank you to everyone who takes time to comment--it makes my day!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon