Friday, June 14, 2019

Island Batik Ambassadors Try It Part 2

This is my second Try It this month!  I do like trying something new, and learning, and making.  I've had this idea for a while, though.  If you read my last posts, you know I won a prize on Wheel of Fortune from their Secret Santa give-away last December, and purchased a Handiquilter Amara, now known as Vanna, with the money.  I've won lots of little prizes, too.  I would enter almost any give-away, and have won quite a bit of fabric, patterns, magazines, buttons, quilt kits and a Fatquarter Gypsy Pop Up package, featuring 3 sizes of springs, and a pattern.  I've been wanting to TRY making one for a while.  

I must have won a second give-away for a Pop Up, as well, because I discovered I had 2 medium size springs, and a pattern for a decorated outside.  I decided to make one, to help organize the tools and accessories for Vanna.  I don't often get time to just do something for me, so I grabbed an hour and a half this afternoon to sew, taking advantage of Mom being calm and comfortable watching TV.  That's rare, too.  Evenings are difficult with Sundowning.  I needed to do something other than foundation pieced blocks, for a change. 

I couldn't decide on one particular fabric I wanted to cut up, so I grabbed an assortment of scraps Island Batik had sent in one of my orders from them (I do sell some fabrics and pre-cuts in my Etsy shop, free shipping).  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but this rainbow of colors seemed to be a good start.  I pulled some of my favorites, the purples, aqua, pinks and reds and sewed it together.  Each strip was about 3" wide by 20" long.  I think they are left from cutting 10" squares in the factory.  Not sure, but the size, and even edges when I got them seemed to suggest that.  

I needed a piece that was 9 1/2 by 26", so once I got about 14" wide, I cut it in half, sewed the 2 sections together, and added the interfacing (I used Pellon Shirtailor), as the package directs, and trimmed to the right size.  I used a purple fabric from making a Funky Friend animal, that had a large enough scrap, and got the bottom circles and the lining and ties cut.  The tricky part was finishing it with the metal spring inside.  I took the large table off my machine and used the Free Arm option.  It was really easy hem the top edge with Clover Wonder Clips.  I'm so glad I have some!  The directions for making it are good, and it's pretty fast.  Check out the link above and see the cute versions they have, too. 

You can flatten this for travel or storage.  The ties will hold it to about an inch high.  
It's colorful and fun!  No quilting required, but you probably could add quilting and batting if you wanted.  The bottom outside is the same as the lining, because I had enough fabric.  I didn't want to make a pieced bottom.  

Mom's Hollyhocks and roses are so pretty!  




I'm not sure if I will use it like this yet.  The smaller clips of Red Snappers are in there, and a few scraps of batting for cleaning the track and wheels, and the lint roller for getting those last stray threads off the top, backing and batting before quilting.  I do need a thread and scrap bucket, and since this has ties, I may just end up using it for that, tying it around the edge of the table.  Or I may make something smaller for that.  You can see I put a Wheel of Fortune logo on the side of Vanna.  It's a photo I printed off and used Command strips to attach it to the machine.  I am trying to figure out how to make a "cling" type thing with Vanna on it.  I don't want a decal that may be permanent.  If you have suggestions, let me know.  I've looked at a few options, but don't want to have to use water on the side of the machine.  

In the meantime, thanks so much for stopping by.  You know I'll have more Island Batik to share soon.  There's a Quilt of Valor blog hop, plus another patriotic I'm working on, and then July's challenge uses Aurifil thread.  And the other Island Batik Ambassador have been sharing wonderfully creative things.  Check them out!  You can find links on the Island Batik Facebook page.  

Maryellen


Friday, June 7, 2019

Try It! June Island Batik Ambassador Challenge

I have SEW many things I want to try!  But I have also tried so many over the years.  What's new for me?? Well, here's my first "try it". 
This time it's Long Arm Quilting.  Okay, yes, I started in May, officially.  But when I tried to use the Prostitcher on my Handiquilter Amara (aka Vanna), I had NO idea how to get the design where I wanted it.  The videos online are good, but I am so glad I had a class with Pam at Pocono Sew and Vac.  She showed me how to create the area for the design.  So far, I've done pretty well, although the first design size I picked, and made larger, has an error.  I texted Pam, and she said you can't make some of them  more than 30% bigger.  So the last 2 sections with the same design, I picked the larger and made it a little smaller to fit.  I'm happy with the results. 

Here's a few shots.  This is the Island Batik Challenge quilt from March, using the grey solid, black solid, and some purple prints I had.  I'm using Hobb's Tuscany Silk blend batting, which is 90% silk, and 10% polyester.  Come to think of it, this batting is also my first time using or TRYing it! So far I love the definition of the stitching.  It's giving great texture, even for this fairly simple design. 



 I think it's very productive for me to be able to eat ice cream while quilting.  
I love multitasking.  
 There's a mistake in these corners, but making the design too large is probably what caused it.  See the center area between 2nd and 3rd left feather under the heart?  I can just take that out later.  This was on both top corners.  The design came with the machine, in 2 sizes, with a matching block design.
When I tried using the 16" design, smaller, on the bottom 2 corners, it didn't happen, so I know for next time.  I'm using Aurifil 2615 50wt thread, and love how it looks.  My next step is to do the black sashing and then the borders.  I am not sure if I'm going to use free-motion or pick a design for that yet.  I'll be playing later tonight, though.  There are TONS of designs to TRY, so I'm having fun.  My next quilt after this will be an edge to edge design, and I still have to TRY to figure out how to create it and get it to do the size I need.  I think I'll be texting Pam again and watching more Handiquilter videos.  I should have taken notes!  

Thanks again for visiting.  I have more I want to try this month, as well.  I'll share when that's done! 

Maryellen

Sunday, June 2, 2019

June One Monthly Goal

Hi.  Quick check in.  There's a lot going on this month. 
I always have more than one goal for the month, and this month is no exception.  I like to link up with Elm Street Quilt's One Monthly Goal.  There are prizes for each month, if you post a before and after of the project, and I LOVE prizes! 

So, for June, I hope to get this quilt quilted and bound.  It's almost on the frame. Well, it was on Vanna's frame, but my son came for a quick visit, and I needed his help to get the frame leveled again (we kind of moved the frame after it was level, and the floor is NOT level, so Vanna was sliding towards the kitchen.  Matt got it all fixed, but the quilt needed to be off the bars so that the machine could easily slide on the tracks.  I use Red Snappers, so I unsnapped the backing from the take up bar so the head could move.  I did get the backing reattached, but need to take off the batting and top again (which were just smoothed, not stitched) and do it right.  I did take the class last Friday, so I THINK I can do the quilting the way I want.  

Here's the top to be done.  It was the Island Batik challenge for March, I think.  I'm using Hobb's Silk Blend batting in this, and the light solid is actually Island Batik, as is the black sashing.  


In the meantime, I'm also finishing up the blocks and designing a setting for the Aurifil Thread's Design of the Month quilt from 2014, which has been sitting too long.  It's blue and white, and should be really pretty when done.  Their suggested setting won't work with the fussy cutting on the blocks I did.  Stay tuned.  But that's actually productive procrastination.  

I have to make a Quilt of Valor, and also another red, white and blue quilt sponsored by Island Batik, and both are due in the beginning of July.  As in done, quilted, bound and delivered.  And I'm learning more about using Vanna and the Handiquilter Prostitcher every time I turn it on.  Too bad I can't piece at the same time, but the machines are on 2 different floors.  And June's Island Batik Challenge is Try It.  I don't think Vanna counts, but maybe I can use something I've learned on her.  I do have a few other small ideas.  I'll let you know which I do. 

Let's hope this is a productive month!  Thanks again for visiting, and please check out the other OMG (One Monthly Goal) projects at the above link.  



Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May Make it Modern with Island Batik and Hobb's Batting



This month, Island Batik and Hobb's Batting requested the Island Batik Ambassadors to make something modern, using Hobb's batting, and larger than a baby quilt.  I'm NOT a really modern quilter, although occasionally I'll do something that looks more modern.  The Modern Quilt Guild defines it as the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, Minimalism, expansive negative space, alternate grid work. I have seen some modern quilts that I like, some I love, and some that just don't do it for me. I decided to pull fabric and see what I came up with. I don't normally do that first, I usually play in EQ8 first, and then find fabrics, but this time I decided to use Pressed Petals, and the navy and orange fabrics I was sent in a previous Island Batik Ambassador box. I also wanted it to use one of the Hobb's Lap size battings we were sent last year, which are 60" square. On a side note, many of the quilts I'm doing this year are square, trying to use last year's batting, and this year we got Queen size, and I haven't figured out what I want to use those for yet, lol. The dilemma of having such generous sponsors.

My original plan was to see if making as many flying geese as big as I could, and half square triangles would make a good design.  Yes, it does, but it's not modern enough.  I may make that as a pattern (the block is really cool!).  I made 42 geese blocks that would finish about 4 by 8, using the darkest blues and oranges, plus the red and yellow.  
 When I played again, knowing I had 2 yards each of the navy and orange fabrics, I decided to use large half-square triangles to divide the geese.  I picked 8 each of the 2 darkest orange/blue geese, plus 8 of the next orange/blue, and then 4 of the yellow/bright blue just to add a spark.  The rest are waiting for another project.  
I sewed these into blocks, added the HSTs to mix, and came up with a 2 way quilt.  I even carried that into the border.  It has lots of open space, bright colors, and is a good size for a baby quilt, tummy time, or a smaller lap quilt.  I'm SEW happy to be part of the Ambassador team.  As soon as I shared my dilemma about it not being modern enough, I was offered some great advice and google search ideas.  When I went back with this idea (which I had then drawn up in EQ8, because I needed to see it before committing more fabric), I got lots of thumbs up.  

I got the top webbed together and shared again (without borders) and got more thumbs up.  

I try to lay it out before sewing the rows together, just to make sure I did everything right.  Yup, looks good to me.  Lots of open space. Bold and bright, and unusual but using a traditional unit. 

Next up was to load it on Vanna the Long Arm, on top of a navy dot textured "minkee/cuddle" from JoAnn's.  I didn't want to piece the back, since it measures about 48".   I used Hobb's Tuscany Cotton Wool Blend, which offers a little more loft than the standard cotton, but is still washable and can be air dried (try to keep it flat).  I grabbed a 50wt navy blue thread, and 50wt orange from Aurifil, and decided to try out the computer/Pro-stitcher on my new Handiquilter Amara (AKA Vanna).  I haven't gotten to take the class yet, so I'm just testing and playing, (class is this weekend).  I did goof for the solid blocks, trying to get the right size and placement.  I may take it out and fix it.  I also tried using the ruler for the straight lines, and did more free motion work inside the HST blocks and the border.  (Not exactly going modern style with the quilting, but I know I learned a lot!)  There's so much to learn!  But it's done enough, although far from perfect.  Except for binding and label, that is, and better photos.  The lighting was doing something weird to the orange.  It's not that deep electric a color, but still a vibrant orange.  



I'm not sure if I'll do the binding before I go back to Pocono Sew and Vac for my class and to pick up my Viking Sapphire 850, which is nice and clean and working better, I'm told.  I miss it!  I do plan to keep orange and blue going into the binding.  I just need to figure out how to do a mitered corner without having too much bulk, so the split is right there, along the same line.  I may end up doing a facing instead. 

I did do the binding on the Accuquilt GO! Baby quilt challenge from April, which I quilted last week.  I used a minkee backing on that, too, and did an all-over FM design on the center, and a similar style on the border, and feathers on the outer border, with Aurifil thread.  I have a spool of the 40-3, so used that for the main section, and a 50wt in pink for the borders.  I decided to turn my Pfaff Creative 1.5 back to a sewing machine and use the built in walking foot, just to get that done for the One Monthly Goal.  Taking off the embroidery module, putting the feed dogs back up, changing the foot, winding the bobbin, etc.  Not as easy as doing on the Sapphire, which is just a foot change.  Still need to add a label to that, too, but it's done.




This was such a good match for my gorgeous roses!  


Thanks so much for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed my modern quilt!  It's been an adventure to push outside of my comfort zone (how many quilts do you see me doing with orange??  Not a favorite) and try things on Vanna.  It's been a good challenge.  
Please check out the other Island Batik Ambassadors to see what they've done this month.  And check back for June's Try It challenge.  I have a few ideas about that.  Now need the time!  We also have a Quilt of Valor blog hop coming and something else, which I'm not sure I can discuss yet. lol  

Have a wonderful day!
Maryellen






Thursday, May 16, 2019

Welcome Home, Vanna

Hi and thanks for visiting! 



So, I've mentioned lately that I'm getting a Long Arm quilting machine.  How can I afford it?  Well, I was really lucky to have some angels watching Wheel of Fortune, and saw "Maryellen" come up for a winner on the Secret Santa give-away last December.  The angels contacted me on Facebook to remind me to check, and when I saw "You are a winner" I almost fell over.  The player who had my number won the second prize, so I won the same amount,  and a trip.  I do hope to take the trip at a later date, but it depends on support from others, because I'm caregiver for my mom, who has Alzheimer's.  She won't accept help from other family members at this time, and we don't have additional help for me in place yet.  I'm hoping by the time the "last chance to book" date comes, I'll have that figured out, but in the meantime, I put the prize money towards a Handiquilter Amara with Prostitcher.  The Amara is a 20" throat space machine, with excellent lighting, and very easy to use.  I haven't tried the Prostitcher yet, because my box seems to be missing the screws to attach the tablet holder to the machine.  I want a decal or something with the name Vanna on it, but I've put a Wheel of Fortune logo on it already.  I wanted to commemorate the reason I was able to get this! 
There's a lot of back-story for the machine even getting here, because I had to wait for the check from Wheel of Fortune before I could order it (One person said February, the other said 120 days after the show).  Then the Prostitcher price went up. But since I had requested the package, and Fred from Pocono Sew and Vac had given me the price, he honored it when the check finally arrived.  Fred ordered the complete system from Handiquilter and was going to deliver it to me the day before he went on vacation.  But FedEx LOST 2 of the 3 pallets, including most of the boxes I needed.  Fred contacted Handiquilter who agreed to send a complete package, all 6 boxes (some weighing 88 lbs) again, directly to me, so I could get it while Fred was away.  FedEx did eventually deliver the missing stuff to Pocono the next week.  So, the boxes came here, and I was excited.  Then the handyman I had hired to help assemble didn't show up, so my wonderful son, Matthew, volunteered to help me assemble during Mother's Day weekend (imagine waiting with the boxes here for 4 days, and not being able to do much with them).  That's the perfect present for me. Time with him, and him helping me to finally get this assembled, and move some (long planned) furniture to make the apartment more livable.  He was a huge help, and we had a lot of laughs, too.  


Yes, this is one of the "Before" photos, after I had already started cleaning.  When I moved back here, there was a round table and chairs just to the right of this photo, and a desk under the TV stand (hanging on the wall) plus a lot more junk.  I had moved with a full house of stuff into this occupied space, and have no extra storage for stuff I don't want to get rid of.  I know this house is temporary, and wanted to keep my dining room table, a few dressers, not to mention photo albums, holiday decorations, and a few of the vintage machines I've been given.  And when the original carpet and bathroom were demolished, and new flooring put in, anything in this space was put into large trash bags (you can see some towards the left).  I was so overwhelmed I just didn't do anything.  It's not necessarily hoarding, because I didn't have time to get rid of junk before they took out the carpet.  I was in the process of moving back, and packing that house.  The wall next to the door has my desk and laptop, and printer, so that space was fairly organized.  Until I started going through the bags and bins.  Anyone need boxes of folders and colored computer paper?? I do plan to "destash" some of the fabric, too.  There's more to do.  But the machine is set up, and I moved some of the bins under the frame.  The bookcase was moved into the bedroom, and the microwave cart was moved to the wall just to the left of this photo.  There will be storage for some stuff in the cart. 

This was before the bookcase and cart were moved, and that made room for the 2 recliners to be closer to the left wall, giving just enough room to work the machine, and get to the door to let Hazel out.  
I tested out the machine by loading a yard of 2 fabrics and some Warm and Natural scrap batting to just play, practice some freehand designs and feathers, and practice starting and stopping, bringing the threads up, and locking the stitches.  I cut this test fabric up and bound them for placemats for Mom.  


I made 6 of them.  We've been using placemats over her traditional table cloths to keep the cloth a little cleaner.  It's so much easier to gather crumbs and shake out the placemat, or replace it if she spills something, than change the whole table (removing the salt/pepper, napkins and occasional vase).  Mom's been enjoying the variety of placemats I've made.  Both of these fabrics were purchased at JoAnn's and the binding was in my stash.  


I've been watching lots of videos and realized I had not loaded the fabric correctly, so the second quilt to be done was loaded correctly.  I'm using Red Snappers instead of pins.  I'm mostly done with the quilting of the April Island Batik Ambassador challenge, the Accuquilt GO! Baby quilt.  I did an all-over design on the top, and have done some of one of the borders.  I need to move the quilt on the frame again to finish.  I hope to be able to bind it this weekend.  

I'm so excited about this new dimension to my business and the skills and chance to grow my ability.  I will be quilting for others soon, and can't wait to be able to do large quilts easily.  
I also worked on the design for the May Island Batik Ambassador challenge, Make it Modern with Hobb's Batting.  I decided to use the "Pressed Petals" 10" stack and navy and orange fabrics I got as an Ambassador.  I'm not sure which Hobb's batting I'll use yet, as I don't have the full plan for the size.  Although I plan to use traditional units, the whole design is still undecided, which is so unusual for me.  Modern quilts use more improv and 'blank' space, or alternate grid work.  So I'm still in the playing stage. 

I will be sewing it on my vintage Featherweight, though, because I'm bringing my Viking Sapphire 850 in to Pocono for a spa day.  I'll be getting my car fixed at the dealership where I bought it, and then will return for the Amara class, so it seemed like a good time to get it done.  Sapphire's served me very well for the last 2 years, with all piecing and quilting, and she deserves a deeper cleaning, and maybe just adjusting the hook to thread the needle.  I hope that's all it is, and I can use my Pfaff Creative 1.5 to sew any bindings.  I have another vintage I can use for piecing, too.  Should be fun! 



Back to cleaning here, and then work on my other sewing room, up on the 2nd floor.  That's the cutting, piecing, embroidery and binding area now.  Look for more finishes soon!  

Linking up with For the Love of Geese


Thanks for visiting.
Maryellen

Friday, May 10, 2019

Christmas RAPPing Blog Hop


Nan Baker  and Margaret Brewster Willingham wrote a really fun and inspirational book that features Reverse Applique and Paper Piecing, and has a great variety of suggestions for each design.  Above you'll see some of the designs in the book, and the bottom photo is actually a really cute version of an Advent Calendar, where you add the applique animals each day.  There's another gorgeous tree shape calendar, plus table runners, quilts, and the tree skirt that I chose.  But you can use the ideas, change the colors, and make something unique, for any season, not just Christmas.
Although Island Batik sponsored this blog hop, I purchased my Island Batik fabric for the top, the red, gold and green, and have them listed per yard in my Etsy shop.  The Buttermilk background is from a previous Island Batik Ambassador box, though.  I decided to play with color placement in the star blocks, and drew an "idea" of the block in EQ8, and used a few options for the color placement.  The red center, with gold around it, and green and red points won.  This is a foundation pieced block, using 4 quadrants.  You do need to make note of each block section and keep them in order for the centers to match.  I also suggest you color the spaces to make sure you're using the right color in the right space.  Crayons or colored pencils work well. Follow the directions, they're good.  Make one block at a time, so the units don't get confused.  After I made 4 blocks, I decided to use some Embroidery Library designs for ornaments I've purchased, for the other 4 blocks.  I wanted something a little different than the book, but still similar.  Have you seen the others who took the designs and made something different, like a gorgeous pastel table runner and a pretty baby quilt?  Check back on the blog hop posts!  You'll be inspired and have fun.

Another shot, a different time of day, and the Buttermilk looks more white.  The first photo is closer to the right color.  The dark green has half-square triangles on it, the red has swirled dots, and the gold has flower petals.  I think the colors look gorgeous together!  

 Details of the blocks.  I LOVED using my selection of Aurifil 40wt for the machine embroidery, and 50wt for the foundation pieced blocks. It's so much prettier in person. And no, it's not quilted yet, because my long arm still looks like this.  I plan to quilt it soon, though.  I am just going to layer it, carefully, with the opening edges very close together, and then bind.  We'll see if it works (look for the post in a later blog).  

My son is going to visit this weekend to help me get it assembled.  The handyman I thought I hired didn't show.  I love my son, and we work so well together.  I'm sure it will go smoothly now.  Fingers crossed.
Lots of stitches! Aurifil 40wt Mako cotton, and 50wt in the bobbin.  My Pfaff Creative 1.5 loves it! 




So excited that Aurifil chose this photo for their Sunday blog post!  I feel famous! 

The top is sewn with large wedge shapes.  Kind of like an elongated kite.  Here's a progress shot of the top.
 One thing I realized, if you're doing a different type alternate block:  For embroidery designs that go in one direction, you need to embroider it on the diagonal of the block if you want them facing "out".  I cut them a little larger, closer to 13 or 14", then drew a diagonal line from corner to corner, with a blue wash-out marker. I lined up the diagonal lines on my hoop, and made sure the design was centered on the blue X to start, and then did the embroidery.  I used a lightweight fusible interfacing on the back of the fabric, too, to make sure it had enough stability for all the stitches.  I used a tear-away stabilizer, as well.  You can barely see the blue lines here, but they really helped!  I should have measured the size of each ornament, though, as 2 are larger than the other 2, but I still think it's pretty.  I'm still pretty new with the embroidery and the machine, lol   I then trimmed the blocks down to the 12 1/2" size needed, using the diagonal lines to help center the ruler.

So, for information about purchasing the book, please see the links below.  There's also a chance to win some Island Batik fabric and Aurifil thread using the Rafflecopter link.  I think you'll find something wonderful to make from this book, and if you haven't tried Reverse Applique, you should.  I was tempted, but couldn't decide on that or the embroidery.  Embroidery won this time, but I do plan to do a Reverse Star for something.  It's good to add new skills to your bag of tricks!  

Thanks so much for visiting, and please check the other bloggers.  

April 29  Joan @  MooseStash Quilting
April 30 Linda @ One Quilting Circle        May 1 Kathy @ Kathy’s Kwilts 
May 2 Bea @ Beaquilter       May 3 Sherry @ Powered by Quilting
May 4 Jennifer @ Dizzy Quilter             May 5 Barbara Gaddy @ Bejeweledquilts by Barb
May 6 Nancy Myers @ Patchwork Breeze          May 7 Vicki @ Vicki’s Crafts and Quilting
May 8 Gail @ Quilting Gail             May 9  Michelle @ Creative Blonde
May 10 Maryellen @ Mary Mack’s Blog          May 11 Denise @ For the Love of Geese
May 12 Maria 
a Rafflecopter giveaway