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Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank you!

This thank you goes out to all of the people who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces. I know how much you sacrifice, both in terms of your physical and emotional well-being, and in terms of family.

My own father was an Army officer during WWII (European theater), as well as in the Korean "conflict". We were scheduled to be stationed in Japan at one time, but those orders were changed to Fort Huachuca, AZ. Quite a different post!

To all of our service people, a huge Thanks for all you do!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bed runner

Not too long ago, I made a Winding Ways quilt for our bed. That quilt is pretty big, so laundering it will be a major undertaking. That wouldn't be a huge consideration, except that Bisou really does like to sleep at the foot of the bed, and I have to admit that I like her to do so. ;) The solution was to make a bed runner to cover the foot of the bed; the runner will be a lot simpler to wash when needed! This one was made from a layer cake of Moda fabrics in similar colors to what was in the quilt; I cut each square in half diagonally and then cut off a couple of strips from the long edge and simply mixed  up all of the strips. The first photo gives you an idea of how that worked.

After joining all of the blocks, the next step, of course, was to quilt the runner. Once again I resorted to feathers. What a surprise, right? ;) This time I outlined an oval with pointed ends in each block, then put the feathers along that outline. You may be able to see that better from the back of the runner. I pieced the back, by the way, from the unused squares from the layer cake.

I finished the binding yesterday and then washed the bed runner and put it on the bed. I think Bisou approves, since she climbed right up and made herself at home. ;) What do you think?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Name tag bag

Not too long ago I made a MiPad Case. The pattern was designed by Annie Unrein, and I liked it so much that I bought another of her patterns. This time I made a name tag bag; this is to replace one I wasn't entirely happy with, and I think the new one may be a winner. :)

This bag is from an oriental print I had and is trimmed with a black oriental print for the binding and strap. You may be able to tell that the bottom part of the bag has a vinyl pocket for the name tags we all get at various shows or in our guilds.

The top flap has a zippered pocket, and under the flap is a large inner compartment, which I lined with magenta. The back of the bag has an open pocket to hold a cell phone or pencils, etc. One of my favorite parts of this bag, though, is the strap! It's adjustable, so I'll be able to wear it around my neck or, when my neck gets tired, across my body. Pretty cool, right?

Annie's instructions are very clear, and she also has video tutorials on her site to help in construction. Oh — and I'd recommend getting her finishing kit if you decide to make one of her patterns. The kit has everything you'll need for the project except the fabric and zipper, thus saving you the time needed to find all of the hardware and notions. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Have you ever ...

… broken your threads in the middle of a line of machine quilting? Or run out of bobbin? If so, you know how frustrating it is to try to get the thread ends knotted off so you can get back to the quilting. Here's how I do it, with very little fuss or muss. ;)

The first step, of course, is to pick out enough stitches that you will have at least a short length of thread to work with. Ugh. I know you probably hate that part as much as I do! But I've discovered that I don't have to pick out that many stitches any longer, since I've found a method for knotting the ends while still fairly short. When I have long thread ends, I make a thread loop around two fingers and pull the ends through that, but shorter thread ends can still be knotted with the help of everyday tweezers. (To give credit where credit it more than due, I learned this from Sharon Schamber.) I prefer the reverse tweezers — you know, the ones that remain tightly closed unless you squeeze them, but you can easily use the regular ones instead. Here's how, keeping in mind that I'm left-handed, so you may have to reverse direction on some steps. ;) All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

1. Hold your two thread ends in one hand. I've put my needle in the photo to give some general sense of proportion, and my thread ends are longer than needed so you can see them more easily.

2. While still holding the thread ends, slip your tweezers under the threads.

3. Still holding the threads, make a loop around the tips of the tweezers.

4. Open the tweezers (if they aren't already open) and grab the ends of the threads through the loop. You can release the threads from your fingers now. ;)

5. Place the tip of your needle through the thread loop and into your fabric where you'd like the knot to end up.

6. Use the tweezers to pull the thread ends through the loop. (Sorry this shot is a bit fuzzy!) Pull the thread taut to slip the knot down to the required spot on the quilt.

7. Okay, now you have a knot. But what if the thread ends are too short to be able to thread the needle and feed the whole thing into the quilt? Easy! Put the needle into the quilt before threading it! I like to use one of those self-threading needles for this, but use whatever kind you like.

8. When the needle is sufficiently into the fabric to allow you to thread it, go ahead and do so. I've done this with threads short enough that barely more than the eye of the needle was showing.

9. Pull the needle through ...

10. … and pop the knot into the quilt center.

11. Now all that's left is to snip of the threads close to the top of the quilt!

See how easy this is? Since the tweezers are so much thinner than human fingers, this technique saves lots of unpicking! I hope this helps someone. By the way, this can also work when your thread breaks during hand piecing or hand quilting. :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Where did the time go?

I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post! Yikes! I've been working on a bed runner to use at the foot of our bed, where Bisou likes to lie at night. I think it will be much easier to keep clean than a huge quilt. ;)

Like many, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the recent royal wedding. Since I collect thimbles, I was very excited to receive a commemorative thimble in today's mail! I bought it from a highly-rated seller on Ebay, and I'm very pleased with it. This is the photo the seller posted of the front and back: