Sunday, December 10, 2017

December SAL

Well, the caravans have been parked by the side of the road for the time being. 'Tis the season after all!

Instead of embroidering travel trailers I've been embroidering flowers on pillowcases. If you're a regular reader you may remember this set of pillowcases:

The pair have been completed, hemmed, and laundered. They were stitched entirely with Nancy's hand dyed flosses.

Before they were finished I'd ordered and received another set of stamped pillowcases to stitch up. I only used Nancy's floss for the pink petals and yellow French knots this time. 

The black, green, and deep red accents are done in DMC floss. The flowers were rendered in split stitch, the green scroll is back stitch. This was such a simple design that I knew I could complete both cases well before Christmas if I applied myself.

So I did!

This set was made with lace edging, eliminating the need to hem them. I now have three sets of pillowcases ready to donate to our local women's shelter in hopes of brightening their space and the lives of the women currently residing there.

Some time ago I signed up to receive a monthly shipment of 6 skeins of floss from Nancy. Look at the fabulous Christmas colors she sent this month!

They look better in person, trust me. Nancy is doing an advent of give-aways. There are 12 days to sign up, with a different present for each day, and then between the 13th and the 24th she will announce the winners, one a day. She's willing to ship internationally so be sure to go visit her blog while you're touring the rest of the Stitch Along!

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Tortoise Finishes Another Race

Slowly, slowly, I've been working on this blue Patience Corner quilt. The blocks were made by my friends in my local quilt guild. I set 36 of them 6 x 6.

Then I framed them up to make an 84" top. (I also moved one block to get that X in yellow through the center of the quilt!)

It sat for a while before James got around to quilting it. As usual, he did a lovely job for me. 😊

He used a simple overall design he calls 'water' through the body of the quilt, then these circles in the inner border and waves in the outer border. All freehand I might add!

It's too wet and windy to go outside for a proper photograph and I don't feel like wrestling with it to hang it in the studio for a portrait. Here it is draped over the long-arm, minutes after I finished sewing down the binding:

Since that picture was taken I've washed the quilt and now need to ink the label. My intention is to donate this to our local women's shelter. How they choose to use it is up to them. I've adapted the fast corner triangle technique Ami Simms advocated for hanging small art quilts to make labels for my bigger quilts.

For a quilt this size I cut a 5" square of my label fabric and fold it in half diagonally once. The raw edges of the label are then lined up with the raw edges in one corner of the quilt (before I apply the binding). I sew it in place with a narrower seam allowance than I will use for the binding. After the binding is applied by machine and then sewn down - which I do by hand as a personal preference - I celebrate by blind stitching the single folded edge of the label patch. The quilt is laundered before I inscribe the label with my Pigma Micron pens. As long as I don't try to rush the process, stretch and hold each section of the label with my left hand while I'm writing on it with my right, I don't have too much trouble writing on the fabric. You just have to go slowly and let the ink settle into the fibers. In addition to who made the quilt, where or why and when, I'm usually able to include simple laundering instructions on these labels. You know, something like "machine wash/dry, gentle cycles, low heat." And away we go!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Back to Selfish Stitching

Some time ago Granny Maud's Girl wanted to hold herself accountable for a project that would be for her own use and pleasure, not for someone else. She started Bee, Myself and I for that purpose. It's an on-again, off-again sort of quilt or stitch along, at least for me. I finished up a quilt top for myself in September and am waiting for it to be quilted. Nothing really grabbed my attention to replace my selfish sewing until I stumbled across the Year in Stitches group on Facebook. It seems to me there's been a general "take a stitch a day" effort among the embroidery crowd this year. Of course I'm late to the party. That seems to be my modus operandi. Nevertheless, this has created a new focus for my sampler stitching. It's also a satisfying substitute for pulling a print a day like I did for my year-long Diary Quilt project that came to an end almost exactly a year ago. 😊

You may (or may not!) remember that I set up a couple of strips of muslin with the intention of using them to hone my embroidery skills. They would also provide an excuse to use some of the hand dyed flosses I've been collecting from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. After the initial enthusiasm other projects took precedence, as happens, and the samplers languished. Then I found the Year in Stitches group. That has prompted me to change the format of my sampler stitching a bit.

There are two of these 8.5" x 22" samplers in my project box. The other one has the Virgin of Guadeloupe at the top. I haven't touched her in months but her time will come. In the meantime, I've lightly drawn a grid of 2" squares within a six inch box on this piece. Originally I thought I would try to fill in a 2" square a day. It quickly became obvious that that plan was not realistic! It's taking an average of two days to completely fill a square. I'm also adding to this about every other day, not every day. Still, I'm pleased with the way it's progressing.

This is the first square I completely filled in.

I'm stitching intuitively, making it up as I go along. The second square I filled in was not necessarily the next one I worked on. This really is a hit and miss process. For example, I outlined the square below with blanket stitches one night, tried the same stitch to make flowers the next time I worked on it (some of which I filled in with straight stitches in another color), and then filled in the remaining areas with leaves made of lazy daisy and fly stitches and the occasional elongated cross stitch another day.

Since this is meant to be a year-long project I knew there would be more than this one piece before my year was over. To that end I decided to label this sampler with a numeral one in the center square.

It stayed this way for several days. Then one night I used a single strand of floss and "drew" horizontal lines across the interior. That created a striped effect but it still didn't seem finished to me. I'm learning to utilize Pinterest to troll for ideas and inspiration. I found a stitch on someone's board that looked intriguing. I don't know what it's called but I was able to work it over the horizontal lines and it worked well to give more color and texture to my number one.

I love the way the subtle color variation shows up in this little element. Apparently the white background grates on my nerves because I felt compelled to fill this one in as much as I could too!

So that's three squares completed, three in process, and three blank at this point. I'm jumping the gun just a bit and posting this before the actual end of the month because I don't want my faithful readers to think I've completely dropped out of cyber space.  In fact, I may make it a point to post my Bee, Myself and I activities between the 28th and the end of the month from here on out, just because I think it might work better for me. 😉

Sunday, November 19, 2017

SAL in November

After a bit of a dry spell where needlework was concerned I'm suddenly back at it in a big way (relatively speaking of course!). I won't share all the details in this post. Suffice to say that I have a new focus for my Bee, Myself & I effort. If you're interested at all you'll want to watch for a post at the end of the month. 😉

In the meantime, I've finally been inspired to finish up my steampunk caravan for The Sketchbook Project. The last time you saw it, it looked like this:

A couple of you recognized the submarine quality of the silhouette. It was that element that motivated me to try for a steampunk look. In the process I've learned to utilize Pinterest for design inspiration. In case you are unfamiliar with steampunk, it's sort of Jules Verne and steam power and gears, a mash-up of the Victorian era and industrialization. There's an element of fantasy in it too, which is what appeals to me. To that end I have come up with the following.

I'm happier with the window in the door now. The couched thread is meant to be tubing, although I have no idea what the purpose of said tubing would be!

Nor do I have a purpose in mind for the gears and "pulley." I imagine the propeller could help decrease wind resistance (even if I might have it facing the wrong way for that).

Completing the steampunk caravan motivated me to start another one right away. I already had the lines drawn on a light green background but didn't have a specific direction in mind for this next one.

I don't seem to be capable of making truly square and straight windows!
I just picked up a warm chocolate brown and started chain stitching. Then I knew the door and awnings needed to be a rich red. It's now looking a little barn-like. It will be interesting to see where this takes me!

There's a wonderful group of stitchers participating in this stitch along now, with a variety of needlework projects in the works. You can take the tour by clicking on the names below. If you'd like the motivation of blogging about your work every three weeks you can contact Avis through her blog and she'll get you on the list. 😊

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Dark Side of the Rainbow

We're coming up on the end of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2017. I've made a handful of blocks out of my dark neutrals, which it the prompt for November if you aren't ready to start putting blocks together into quilt tops.

I honestly thought there were more than that! I wonder if I've put some away without photographing them? It's a distinct possibility. In which case they are somewhere in these piles:

The tallest pile, at the top of the picture, are my postage stamp stars on white backgrounds. That stack is 4" tall. I haven't counted the individual blocks yet. The pile of 16 Patch blocks is only an inch tall. In the foreground are my stars that have light neutral or dark grounds. That's not all of them; I think there are others in a bag in the Parts Dept. drawer.

Right now I'm finding this stack of stars overwhelming. I doubt there are enough 16 Patch blocks to go the distance on their own but I might be able to create a reasonably sized top using a combination of stars and 16 Patches. That was the plan back in January. A quick ruffle through the 16 Patch blocks shows me I'll probably have to make up a few blocks in specific colors if I want a balanced rainbow effect. 

I'm linking up with the other RSC bloggers, many of whom are actually building quilts out their scrappy rainbow blocks!