Friday, February 28, 2014

Skull candy is now a WIP

February is coming to an end and I have to admit I haven't completed my Lovely Year of Finishes goal for this month.  I have made great progress and have the top completed but have decided to take my time with the machine quilting let me show you why.

Here is how I put this pixel top together.  I used some 820 Pellon fusible grid and iron each of the pieces onto it to form my quilt top base.


This is what the back of the grid looks like and you just layout a couple rows and iron them for 5 to 10 seconds with a hot, dry iron and your fabrics squares will then stay put so you can move on to the next step. 

You just turn the piece right sides together and row by row sew each of the row from top to bottom across the whole project in one direction.

If you find yourself wondering what the thing to the right of my presser foot is(that says tape side), it is just a magnet strip that I sometimes like to use when I want to maintain a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I just use it as a guide to run my fabric up against.

This is what it will look like after one direction is completed.  The next step is to open each of the seams with a pair of scissors and iron the seams open.  It takes a little time to get the scissors in the seam and cut open but it is very doable.

At that point you can turn the top 90 degrees and sew each of the rows in the same manner again

After each of them is sewn across the whole top, repeat the seam opening procedure and iron the seams open again.

At this point, even the back looks pretty nice but the magic is how perfect the front turns out.

The seams line up so nicely...much nicer than if I had tried to put this together block by block, row by row.  At this point, I was pretty pleased with the whole project and decided to take it to work to show off.  I work with a lot of young 20 somethings and thought they would get a kick out of the skull in the center.  Not one of them could spot the skull in the center!  WTF was what came to mind.  One even guessed it was a panda.  Again WTF???  Made me seriously wonder what I could do to bring out the center of the quilt.  I think each of them was so drawn to the array of colors and the individual pieces of fabric that they weren't seeing the overall project.  Even when I told them what to look for they had a little trouble finding the skull.  I know that my original post received NO comments.  Is everyone having trouble seeing the skull or just my non-quilting friends. 

I choose the project because it reminds me of the Mexican skulls used to celebrate the day of the dead, Dia de los Muertos.  It is a big celebration in Southern Mexico to honor a families dead relatives.  In most Indian villages, beautiful altars are made in each home to honor the dead.  They are  decorated with candles, flowers and lots of food.  Little folk art skeletons and sugar skulls are included in the many decorations and festivities.

I think I should add this kind of free motion quilting to the skull.  I do think part of the problem is my skull is a side view but the back of the brain cavity should be very identifiable. I do worry that this much quilting will just add to the confusion of the top but I think it may bring the eye to the center of the quilt if I do it right.

This week I received my fabulous win from Cindy at Quilt Doodle Designs from the 2013 BOM that she held last year that Aurifil sponsored and I think the bright colors will be fabulous in my skull candy design.  Thank you Cindy and Aurifil for the 12 fabulous spools of thread they will certainly get a lot of use.

In the meantime, between doodling up what should be my FMQ design for this project. I have started a new medallion center for a quilt-a-long with the Portland Modern Quilt Guild.  In February, Karen from The Recipe Bunny and I decide to become members of the PMQ Guild.  It was our second meeting we attended together and it has been a lot of fun getting to know Karen and seeing what our local Modern Quilt Guild is doing.  It is a rather large chapter and lots of things going on and lots of show and tell.  Karen even took a quilt she had just finished for her husband for Valentine's Day for show and tell.  So many of the medallions they had displayed at the meeting were so traditional and not what I expected from a Modern Quilt Guild.  I want something with a more modern feel for the middle of my quilt so I am putting together my own design.  I can't wait to get it all sewn together and show it off here.  I chose a few fabrics from my stash to work with for the colors on this one.  At some point, I may need to shop for more in these colors but I have enough to get started.

Keep Stitchin'

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Some progress

Most of this weekend was spent making progress learning to navigate my way around in the new Windows 8.1 platform on the new computer.  I learned quite a bit but continue to be a little frustrated with how to close the windows out and get back to where I want to be.  In time, I am sure to conquer new features like Skydrive or the Cloud, but the inability to get back to where you just were a second ago definitely makes the process harder.  I do believe in Microsoft so I think over time updates will make it easier to navigate around in this new platform.  But for now it is time to get back to sewing.

Especially since February is more than half over now and little progress is being made on my February goal for a Lovely Year of Finishes.  Today is the first I even got to play with the layout for my quilt top.  My grand-daughter's birthday was last weekend, but our snow storm kept the party from happening, so today was about celebrating her 6th birthday.  Kiara is the light of our lives and it was great to help her celebrate her special day.

Once we got back home, I needed to spend a little time working on this project's layout for my youngest daughter.  I wasn't sure how I was going to surround the skull but am happy with the layout I came up with. 

Funny when you are looking at the arrangement on the table, it is hard to see the skull, but the minute  I had it in the camera lens it was much clearer to see what I had put together.  Luckily, this time it was a pure.....ahhhh, I like it!!!  I did switch a couple colors around based on what I saw when it was reduced by the camera lens but am very happy with it.  I also had an epiphany when looking at it and that was that I don't have to sew each of these individually together as I had been planning on.  A plan that had me questioning my sanity I might add.  These are two inch squares, which means these would be a major pain to get each row to match up and I can be hard on myself and had figured I had just better learn to let the thought of perfection go...

But then I remembered I could iron each of these onto a Pellon fusible grid sheet and sew them together by rows and then switch directions and sew the rows the opposite that is the new plan.  I even surprised myself by having a large enough piece of the fusible to get started on it right away.

So that is what I will get too...after a night of American Idol and the Olympics...

Keep Stitchin'

Sunday, February 9, 2014

February BOM Progress

Well it's only February 9th and all three of my online Block of the Month blocks are done!  Just in time for my Bertie's Year block to arrive in my mailbox.  Perfect timing.  I shared my Quilt Art Design Hibiscus block earlier in the month and now have the hummingbird block completed in the series.  This one I switched the colors up on to suit my background better.  When searching hummingbird's to pattern him after, I found the broad billed hummingbird from Arizona. 
photo courtesy of photobucket by frakerpovc
This one has more blue than mine on his belly but in researching them their colors vary widely.  All in all a cute little fellow who translated into my quilt block like this:

so along with the Hibiscus, the two for the February Quilt Art Design Garden are done

 During the Seahawks game, I had some numbers from a football pool from work.  Depending on the score at the end of the quarter, each of us had a chance to win a $50.00 pot of money. Coming up to half time the Seahawks had a lead of 22 to 0.  I had numbers that ended in Seahawks 2 - Broncos 7.  Mind you everyone at our house was rooting for the Seahawks but if the Broncos were to score a touchdown before the end of the quarter I would win 50 dollars.  I had every confidence that the Seahawks could afford the Broncos getting that touchdown and we could still win... but my husband was not going to let me root for the Broncos even briefly.  In his Corona state-of-mind he told me he would give me 50 dollars if the score was to remain with the Broncos having zero at the half.  You can see how this was a win-win for me.  If the Broncos scored a touchdown, I got 50 dollars from my co-workers.  If they didn't score I got 50 dollars from my DH.  Didn't take me long to agree!!!  Guess what I got $50.00 from the hubby and quickly spent it at Hawthorne Threads this week getting some more low volume prints for the Garden Blocks.  I love this fabric shop.  Great service and I find the ease of seeing all the fabric by Manufacturer, Designer, Collection, Color Grid, Theme, Pre-cuts, or sale the easiest online website to search through by far.

Since the winter weather has us stuck inside today, I have taken advantage of the extra time at home to plow ahead on my BOM's.  Next up was the Sew Kitchsy block from Kristy at Quiet Play.  This month was a cookie jar that was a quick block to put together...yeah!!!  Here is the finished February Sew Kitchsy block:

With that completed, it was onto Cindy's Cozy Cabin pattern for the February Quilt Doodle Doodle block.  It was a little more work with first cutting all the pieces but I was surprised at how quickly the cabin came together.
Now I had better make some time to get started on my Lovely Year of Finishes Goal I set for myself...being a shorter month I think I may have set the bar too high...I need to think like the little engine that thought he could...I think I can...I think I can...I think I can

Keep Stichin'

Saturday, February 8, 2014

WARNING: Dirty Pictures Ahead

Computers...we all rely on them but we know little of what makes them tick...Mine is seven years old and been getting quite slow lately.  I have assumed it was because I have bogged down it's memory with loads of pictures.  I need to be better at off loading my multitude of files onto flash drives...but ain't nobody got no time for that.  Well I think I need to make time to take care of one of the most important machines in my PC.

This last week it gave me a lot of stress.  It started early in the week with my inability to get a picture on the monitor.  My DH and I had quite a few disagreements about the cause of this.  I thought the monitor itself might have died.  He disagreed because it clearly had power...evidenced by the blue power light on the bottom and the side panel had all it's lights on...but if I turned the monitor off and back on fifty times or more, at least occasionally, I would get a less than a second glance of my log in screen.  It just wouldn't stay on.

IT tech at work had recently advised me to open the tower up and blow out the dust with a can of air.  I figured at this point nothing ventured nothing gained and let's face it...possibly the PC was already dead...what did I have to lose.

Beware the following picture is gruesome and DIRTY!!!
This is what I found inside my PC that had been slowing it down

Seven years worth of dust bunnies had taken up residence in there and I wasn't taking it anymore.
 I huffed and puffed and blew that whole can of air in there.  

This is what came out...

Holy pile of dust bunnies!!!

Guess what after I put it back together.  I still couldn't get a picture to light up on the monitor.
$#%@ ...  Now the question was had my computer indeed died or had the monitor?  This thought was quickly followed by more $#%@ as I was quickly listing off all my files that I would miss if indeed my computer had died.  I soon realized I could google it on the smartphone and try to figure it out.  A quick search had me convinced it was either my power source in the computer or the mother board (which I didn't think so because occasionally I could see the log in page) or the monitor.  Since I didn't want to throw money at it to figure it husband and I figured the best solution was to find out if the monitor was working or not.  Luckily, he works for a small company so he just took our monitor to work and attached it to his computer there.  To his disbelief, it was dead---even though all the power lights were on.

He borrowed a spare monitor from work to also check out that I hadn't killed the PC with my dust bunny kick ass maneuver.  Not only did the computer really has improved it's performance and speed.  

That being said, we gave it a lot of thought and decided if the monitor died after 7 years, the PC probably wasn't far behind.  Before this last long stretch we had been upgrading our computer about every 4 to 5 years.  Having contemplated what the consequences would be if I couldn't retrieve my files...if it were to suddenly die again...we decided it was probably time to think about checking into a new PC.  So despite a snow storm that dumped 8 inches of snow on us this weekend, we went to Best Buy and ordered a new computer today.  Funny thing is, this one is working faster than ever at the moment.  We pick the new on up this coming Friday...what a sweet Valentine's Day gift.  We picked up a new monitor and this one couldn't be happier.  I vow to learn to take better care of my files on the new system and to learn to do some general cleanup on it that I am not good at doing on this defragging.  

Well, this has been a long post and so as to not let my dirty little pictures be permanently burned in your brains, I will leave you with some pictures of some UFO's that should at some point be making it onto my Lovely Year of Finishes list at some point this year.  They are one of the reasons I started blogging 2 years ago and still they are UFO's.  Believe it or not each of these tops were made over 8 years ago!!!

I love pictures in the snow, but it rarely snows today was a great and rare opportunity to drag them out in the yard.
This one I started when my oldest daughter, was into the cherry motif.  It features a lot of cherry prints and is done in the Mary Engelbreit style and was suppose to have cherries appliqued on it.  It just needs a border and quilted and bound.  Still debating the my daughter is into camo.
This one would be fairly easy to finish.  It is smaller than the other two, and would just need quilted and it would be complete.  I even have the backing bought already.  The only thing holding me back is...I love the colors, but it features cats.  I know, I know, most quilters love cats but not me.  Sorry for that confession but why did I make this one with cat fabric???

The third one, should have been this month's goal but it would have been too much work and it is a short month already.  It needs borders and I would need to shop for fabric for that.  I think I want to send this one to a long arm quilter when it gets completed, as it could be stunning if the quilting complemented it.

Keep Stitchin'

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Garden expansion and dreams

Alright so it was a late night last night sewing.  I was so excited to put together the next blocks for the Quilt Art Design Garden 2014 BOM.  February blocks for it are going to be beautiful.  I am a little concerned about the light colors on the hummingbird with the low volume background but I think hummingbirds come in so many colors I will find one that works even if I have to use a little creative license on one and make a fantasy hummingbird. 

Given that I had a little trepidation on the hummingbird I quickly set to work on the hibicus.  Janeen showed her blocks this month for each of these and it really helped put the mirror image aspect in perspective for me. A few minutes before midnight I had it done!!!

I love the colors!!!  I found some Kona Bay variegated red print in my stash...who knows where I picked it up from but it was perfect for this block.  Thrilled with it!!!

So time to set goals for February...I have a few:
1.     QAD Hummingbird block
2.     Sew Kitchsy cookie jar block
3.     QDD log cabin block
4.      For the February Lovely Year of Finishes I am linking the following project that I need to both start
 and finish this month.  It will be a wall hanging and a graduation gift for my daughter. She graduates in May but I am wanting this done and ready to be gifted.   She is an anthopology major and when I saw
this pattern I knew I had to make it for her.  I have been wanting to make a watercolor quilt for a very
long time and this will get my feet wet.  I don't expect to rock the watercolor quilt on my first try but I
know it will turn out cute.  Here is a quick start of my layout...

It will have random colors surrounding it not sure exactly what to do in the surrounding area.  The colors have to be distinctively different enough to not blend in with the light colors or the dark...maybe green or red???  These are 2" square blocks.  For me to consider it finished it will need to be pieced, quilted, bound and ready to hang.  So there you have it my February goals!!! Linking this skull project to the Lovely Year of Finishes
A Lovely Year of Finishes
Now it is time to watch some Super Bowl action.   GO HAWKS !!!  We have the Corona on ice, Guacamole and chips, pizza ready to throw in the oven , house clean and friends on the way. We have our Seahawk banner proudly flying outside in front of our house and you can bet some rowdy 12th man fans will be hooting and hollering and cheering the team on soon!!!  Plus my husband has his unwashed jersey on to bring them the added boost to win...he claims it only is weird if it doesn't work and so far it's working!!!

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