Friday, August 11, 2017

What kind?

of winter will it be? This is the first (and only) wooly-bear I've seen. Typically the amount and placement of black markings indicates when the worst storms will be.  Did you notice--NO black! Here's hoping! (No I don't do winter sports....)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

So Long, Bye Bye

What to do?  With those bent, broken, dull needles and pins.  Over the years I have collected them in a variety of decorative containers (and some NOT so decorative!).  Salt/pepper shakers work great for needles and pin with almost no heads (like the one on the left).  Because I use pins with larger glass heads, it was a hassle to unscrew the top each time I had something to insert.  Enter...the cheese shakers with larger holes!  Almost everything will go in.  For traveling:  a small plastic box that pins originally came in.  I carry this in my Featherweight cleaning kit and collect used needles in classes.  


But now those containers are full.  Always remember that these are "sharps"--just like in hospitals, etc.  No one should have to take a chance of being poked.  So here is how I dealt with this situation this week.

I removed the labels from some old prescription bottles (which many people use to collect sharps in and then dispose of them in the same container).  And a cardboard box which I reinforced with duct tape--lots and lots of duct tape!  The needles and pins were transferred to the bottles and the box (I had lots).


Then I sealed all of the bottles and the box with duct tape.  I labeled each container and then put them in my recycling.  


Easy peasy, everyone safe...ahhh, a sigh of relief, and I have empty containers to start collecting again!  This was several years' worth.  In the glass containers they are pretty with the silver and the colored pin heads.  I try to keep a container wherever I sew; no excuses for stray pins and needles.

While you are blog reading, check out Becky Goldsmith's post on washing your fabrics here.  She said it so well that I am not going to repeat it.

That's all I know for tonight.  Please share any ways you have of disposing of used needles and pins--there might be a prize for the best suggestion!

Blissfully,
Sharon

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Tumbling Blocks Flimsy

Tumbling Blocks.  Super easy to do by hand, even with the "dreaded" Y-seam.  It's so easy to get a 3D look with just one template!

These diamonds finish at 1.5 inches per side.  They are assembled into units of 3 (easy to take with you) and can then be arranged and sewn together.  


The best part?  The neatness on the back!  Did you know that if you press each 3-piece unit exactly the same (clockwise or counterclockwise) the units fit together with opposing seams?  Who knew!?!?


Notice the furling of the seam allowances where six seams meet.  No bulk!


Even the unit seams furl (see furl at right below).  Notice the "trimmed" seam allowances?  Again, no bulk, and no shadowing of a dark fabric under a light.  I do trim both light and dark to reduce bulk and to make it easier to quilt (hand or machine).  Just be sure to NOT trim light and dark on the same seam.  That just gives you the same problems with less seam allowance ;-)  


Have I mentioned how much I love hand piecing?  Contrary to popular opinion, it's faster than setting in seams by machine and it's so portable.  Have you tried it yet?  (This is not EPP; no whip stitching involved or basting over paper, etc.)

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Friday, July 21, 2017

Meow

Dickens reminded me that he's been absent from the blog for quite a while.  Enjoy!




Blissful July hugs,
Sharon

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

In My Spare Time

A couple months ago, a friend asked me to make some bedding for a doll cradle she had found at a sale.  Yes, I've made small quilts before, but never bedding--a challenge.

I had several small packs of fabric samples, roughly 2.5 inches square.  Yes, I did wash them--which made them varying sizes and not all 2.5 inches.  So I found the smallest square and cut every one the same.  I did spend some time laying these pieces out (I had more than I needed and eventually eliminated until I had this).


Knowing that it was going to a 2-year old, I machine quilted through each square to create a diagonal grid.  Light yellow thread was used on top and in the bobbin.

Here's the back:  Grandma LOVES tea!  So what could be more perfect!  (This is an older Diane Knott piece that I had in my stash.)  

I bound it in yellow solid (French double fold).


Here's the cradle--clean and shiny.  I made a small flannel pillow, stuffed with cotton.


And a mattress made from a new material that can be outside and does not retain water or smell funny.  I also made a cover for the mattress, also from the blue striped flannel.  (The stripes run the opposite way of the pillow.)  To make it more user friendly, I used the Kam snaps to close the cover, making it very easy to remove for washing.


Grandma and Grandpa loved it and so did the recipient!  It's been in use every day! 


So I have not been idle while I've been away from the blog.  I did try to post from my phone several times but they never showed up on the web.  Go figure....

Blissful (but quick; it's so darn hot) hugs,
Sharon

Monday, June 26, 2017

Binding the Small Stuff

When binding anything larger than 9 x 9 inches, I use a French double fold technique, cutting 2 inch wide strips on the crosswise grain.  These strips are joined with diagonal seams and are folded in half before applying.  Yes, I said I start with 2 inch strips for a 1/4-inch finished binding.  I like my binding to be full all the way to the fold and the same width on front and back.

However, it is impossible (for me) to do the final join on anything not having at least 9 inches on at least one side.  (Yes, I know this probably leaves you with many questions, but this is not a binding tutorial!)  I found an alternative for the smaller pieces.  And I love it!

Recently I have found a number of excellent blogs and have added them to my Blog List on the right side of what you are reading now.  The Constant Quilter (Wendy Caton Reed) has a fantastic blog, and once I found her, I went back and read all her posts from the beginning.  Wendy uses what she calls "the potholder method" where she makes and quilts one block and then binds it.  She does that for each block in her quilt and then whipstitches all the "potholders" together into a bigger quilt.  Can you believe she actually made a "Dear Jane" with this method?  Well, she did!  So, if you click the link above, it will take you to her post on Single Fold Binding.

Because the Dear Jane blocks are less than 5 inches finished, I thought I'd give it a try.  I had hand pieced several smaller tops while taking pics for new handouts.  Here's the first one I did, using the process that Wendy has on her post.


Here's the back, along with a ruler to show how big (little) this piece was.


I admit that I was a bit unhappy with sewing a couple threads to the left of the fold lines, so I tried again; this time I sewed right on the fold lines (see Wendy's blog for her process).  I was much happier this time.  Try both ways and see which you like better; I may have sewed a bit left-er than Wendy suggested (read this as "it's always Sharon's fault, not the originator of whatever the technique is").



I love French double fold binding on almost everything.  But this single layer binding has much less bulk and is super easy to apply and finish on smaller pieces.  The potholder method of finishing quilts is not new--do a search for the term--or read more of Wendy's posts to learn more.

Another great technique to put in your tool box!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

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....