Monday, November 30, 2009

Piece out

I stopped by Lazy Gal Quilting's blog, a quilter whose quilting philosophy closely matches mine, though she's had the courage to be more free about it than I have. I looked at the "incredible" heading to her blog, and decided that was just what I needed to make my current charity quilt more interesting.

I took off the boring borders I had originally sewn on and instead will be inserting these words within each border of the music-themed quilt. I would have liked to have made my letters more irregular, but I was working with a scarcity of fabric and a bunch of 1" strips, so I just used what I had. I quickly sketched out the letters on scratch paper and worked out how to make each one using strip piecing. The "y" was my main headache, maybe because I'd had too much turkey earlier that day. The rest were relatively simple.

I am working with two groups who do charity quilts. The Roseville group meets weekly. They have worked primarily on quilts for babies who are born with drug addictions due to being exposed in utero. In order to give them a clean start, they cannot be exposed to any of the items in the home where drugs are used, because the drugs permeate the fabric and can still get into the baby's system. The quilts and other items we give the babies help get them free of the drugs. We learned recently, however, that it is not just babies who need the quilts; they need them for teens also, so while the rest of the ladies really love to do cute little baby quilts, I am specializing in quilts for older kids. The focus of most of the Roseville group is on getting as many quilts made as possible. Therefore, most of the quilts are whole-cloth and tied. I usually machine quilt mine, because it's about as fast as tying.

The Carmichael group makes quilts for kids in the cancer unit at the hospital. They meet monthly and are truly quilters in the traditional sense. They take a lot of pride in doing really great quilts. Speed is not their main goal, and many of the quilts being produced are quite impressive. Most of the quilts they have made, again, are themed toward younger children, but since children of all ages get cancer, there is a shortage of quilts for the older ones.

Both groups receive a lot of fabric donations, mostly brand-new quilt fabric that someone bought a few+ years ago and never used. I try to make my charity quilts purely from the donated fabric, since there is a lot of it. Just using some of those prints (think "ugly") and finding something in the stash that goes with it is a big challenge.

I haven't spend a lot of time with piecing intricate patterns, but once I got started on piecing the letters for my music words, I decided maybe I will fit in the second group a little better than I did, even though my quilt is still not "cute." Final product will be posted when I finish it, December or January.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas postcards

Yesterday I busied myself making fiber Christmas-themed postcards. The ones I like best, close up, are the ones I like least from a distance. Interesting, hmm? Contrast is the key. I keep forgetting

These include angelina, foil and couched threads on top of the fabric and ribbon background. I am going to be swapping only one card; had planned to swap all but one, but it turns out I didn't sign up correctly for the swap (you have to sign up repeatedly, depending on how many cards you want to make). So now I have extra cards. Maybe I'll just send them off to the very special people on my Christmas card list.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yo-yo assembly line

On these colder days I spend more time inside the house doing handwork than out in the studio sewing on my machine. Debbie Babin heads a Yahoo group, Studio Quilts-Goldilocks and Friends, and on there I mentioned an idea for making Christmas ornaments out of my stash of yo-yos (why am I making these things?), and she suggested a yo-yo ornament swap. Just what I need to do when I have all these other design ideas in my head, but I am interested, nevertheless. Now, of course, none of my previously made yo-yos are holidayish, so I am making more yo-yos with Christmas fabric.

I use two different sizes of the Clover Yo-Yo Makers (no affilation, etc.), and I find that, over all, they are faster for me than using a cardboard template, though the stitching step is slower, because you can't weave your needle in and out of the fabric while it's in the Maker. It's just needle-in-pull and needle-out-pull, or needle-down-pull and needle-up-pull, over and over. I suppose one could use the Maker to cut the circles, and since the two plastic layers mark a slight fold around the edge of the fabric, the fold could be finger pressed while stitching or iron pressed before stitching. I'll have to experiment. Laziness is the mother of efficiency.

Here are the steps I've been following for making a pile of yo-yos relatively quickly:
  1. Followed Yo-yo Maker directions for making the circle.
  2. Threaded a dozen needles and stitched a pile of yo-yos, keeping the needle with each yo-yo, because I still have to gather and knot the threads after pressing.
  3. Pressed all the yo-yos flat (makes gathering easier). I also noticed that using thinner fabrics makes the gathering easier. I like to press them all at once, so as not to have the iron on all the time.
  4. Gathered them, re-knotted the threads on the needles for the next set of yo-yos. After awhile, if your thread length has been on the long side, the thread starts unwinding its twist or may start knotting. At that point I discard it and re-thread the needle. Slightly stronger thread than usual is a good idea.
Now I've got to do some experimentation for making the ornaments. My plan is to attach 2 yo-yos to each other, back to back, somewhere along the line embellishing them with beads, etc.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fiber postcard exchange

Making and sending a fiber postcard seemed like a fun challenge, especially after seeing the box of dozens of fabulous fiber postcards my friend Marylee has collected in all the exchanges she's done. However, I begin to wonder if exchanging fiber postcards is fad that's already had it's day, since I've had such a hard time finding any group that's doing it. Without any confidence at all, since I've never made a fiber postcard before, I forged ahead and created two cards, one to trade and one to keep. This trade is one-on-one, so I'll send out the above -- to South Africa, as it turns out -- and I'll eventually get one back.

I made inchies (tiny quiltlets -- what size, do you think? You're absolutely correct!) with the scraps. I'm not sure what to do with inchies, but I suppose they can become embellishments and danglies on anything one might want to decorate.