Sunday, May 6, 2018

Qwilty Pleasures-- Hand Applique Tips!

My "FOREVER" project is a kit from Keepsake Quilting about 20 years ago-- it was called "Baltimore Out of the Box" by Dinah Jeffries and I'm sure some of you old time quilters will recognize it! I am proud to say, after all this time, I have about nine blocks done.

The ones that are left are the harder ones, or ones I didn't like as much. I just pulled out "Spring Promise" which is at the bottom of the pile because...  it has a butterfly in it.

I don't like butterflies.

They are just too overused and used badly so often... so while I work away at the leaves and flowers, I am thinking of changing it out for a dragonfly, my winged insect of choice. Or, since I always thought I was making this for my beloved son or daughter's wedding, I could leave the space blank for the names of the happy couple. (No, nothing is on the horizon yet, and I'm good with that, because I still need time to finish this!)

My previous nine blocks are like a short history of applique, as I used the techniques that were popular at the time, over the years. I did the leaves with Rosa Rojas' Appliquick tools-- I like them very much. The petals are supposed to be dimensional though, so I thought the technique where you sew the shape to a backing and then turn it, might work better. So here goes-- I need about 60 petals.

First, I double a scrap of fabric over and using a very tight stitch, made this petal shape. The bottom is left open for turning.

Then, I cut them out, a scant 1/4,"  and clipped the curves. I read that you should not make angled cuts, or you will get angles in your curve when turning; instead make "swooping cuts" and so far I agree, you do end up with a smoother curve. My stitching is tight enough so that I don't think the seam will open up. It occurs to me, as the machine embroidery queen, I could digitize a file to stitch this, and I may end up doing that to speed things up. The curves would be PERFECT!!

Then I turn them right side out-- I love this Clover turning tool. They look like little finger gloves--LOL.

Now I pick five assorted colors to make a flower and gather them all together at the bottom to make a five petaled flower-- see the finished yellow one below.

Let's talk tips. Over twenty years, my handwork has improved, and the switch to the Clover Black Gold Needle is the single biggest reason why. For needle-turned applique, you are supposed to use these honking long needles to help you--never helped me!! This little needle is about an inch long, and the CONTROL you have with it is amazing. It is also extremely sharp, and goes in right where you want it. WARNING: It takes a while to thread it!! heehee. But it gets easier.

Time to sew, and you can see I have ond flower down already. MORE TIPS: use a thread color that exactly matches your applique fabric. Use a THIN thread-- 100 wt. silk is wonderful-- I don't have the budget for an entire set of silk colors, so I have this 40wt set from Superior-- it's fine. Thread Heaven really helps to avoid knotting, and you thread will slip right through the fabric. Take tiny 1/8" stitches-- I had my optometrist make me a special pair of glasses for close sewing-- they are wonderful. Work in daylight, if possible. Stitch a little under the edge-- you'll get a little poof. And pull those stitches tight, but no so tight that your background fabric warps.

So there are a few tips-- of course, practice makes perfect-- doesn't it always? I find a little handwork very enjoyable at times. I love methods where you pre-make the pieces-- you have a nice little take along project. I'm traveling at the end of the month, so I hope to finish this block. After that, there are two left-- plus four borders! So maybe my forever project will end up as a grand-daughter's wedding gift, or maybe a great-grandaughter will unfold it, finished, in all of it's glory, and take it on her honeymoon to Mars. Whoever it is, I hope they feel the love in every stitch.

I am linking up with Kathy's Slow Stitching Sunday that I have always enjoyed reading. Hop on over there next to see what other's are doing!


Saturday, May 5, 2018

MQX Dotty Challenge

Time is flying at its usual break neck speed-- thank goodness Spring has finally decided to make an appearance! 

It seems like just yesterday when I was trying to finish quilting "Dot Almighty" in between winter storm power outages... and then this happened!

It's hard to believe the Dotty challenge is behind us now-- I started it more than a year ago when it was first announced. I was so pleased to get fourth place— the winner was from Australia, second and third were from Germany— these quilt shows are getting to be as international as the Olympics!... so my fourth place win makes me top U.S. dot! :-)

(Quilts are listed clockwise, from top left-- my apologies for cropped photos, but it was hard to back up enough to get everything in!
Second Place, "Marble Track," Claudia Scheja; 
First Place, "Sunshine," Katherine Jones; 
Third Place, "Bubble Ballet," Birgit, Schueller; 
Fourth Place, "Dot Almighty," Yours Truly.

It it always very humbling to see some of the other entries so well crafted and so very clever as well-- twenty-eight of them, in all. I have to believe the margin of winning is very slim-- so if you don't get ribbons at show, don't give up-- you may be just a point away!

"Dotville," Suzy Webster; 
"Poltergeist," Kimberly Werth; 
"A Polka Dot Zebra," Laura Di Cera; 
"Fassett Faucet," Nancy Sullivan.

"La Belle Dame Pointillee," Darlene Orschek;
"Glam Dotz," Debra Woods; 
"Once in a Blue Moon," Debbi Borg; 
"Dots 'n Dashes on My Wall," Barbara Campbell. 

"Bubblicious Throughout," Claudia Taeubert; 
"Spin Cycle," Amy Peterson;
"Into the Dotted Future," Lynne Hartman,
"Lotsa Dots," Karen Abrahamovich.

"I Spotted a UFO-- Oh, My Eyes! Leta Wellman; 

"I See a Quilt in Your Future," Penni Barger; 
"Round, Square, Dots, or NOT," Angie Callbeck; 
"Colorful Circles," Elizabeth Wilson.

"Dotty Windows," Mary Bolton; 
"Out of Darkness Into Light," Vicki Watkins; 
Fifth Place, "Merry Mischief Makers," Nikki Hill; 
"Ambivalence," Debbi Treusch.

"Just Add Salt," Katherine Dossman; 
"DotCom," Diane Dixon;  
"Dots 'n Dashes," Leslie McSorley; 
"Caroling Kids," Gayle Pully.

The MQX Dotty Challenge was to use polka dot fabric... I really didn't have much and as I am not such a fan, didn't want to buy much, either! So I stitched up the snowball border to make dots, and bought a very little "grunge dot" fabric-- grunge makes everything better, in my mind. My "Dot Almighty" is caffeine, so the biggest dot is a cup of coffee... then the quilting told a "pretend" history of coffee in what I wanted to be the kookiest, craziest quilting I have ever done. Here are the Egyptians in a coffee worship scene...

And here's a present day scene of a rooster crowing on the farm, ready for breakfast and that all important cup... (note the dot quilt drying on a line)

And then in the future, the aliens are landing, not to conquer us, but just a stop over for a cuppa joe.

This is the steam coming out of the large cup of coffee... (note the tiny astronaut on the moon, left side--the show had a space quilt theme going as well)

 And some border fill work, with circle shaped items...

Here is the back so you can see it all.  Only a greenhorn would quilt white on a dark background, but the judges must have appreciated the chutzpah!

So that's it! It's one for the ages now... I am really pleased to have gone pretty far out of my box... My DH LOVES this piece, wants to hang it up, (wait, what?!!) and thinks it's a new artistic direction I should move in. 

What I most remember is struggling to finish at the eleventh hour-- the quilting seemed too light, so I had to go in and color with Derwent pencils to bring the quilting out a bit. I'm afraid the whole experience left me frazzled and stressed by the end.... and has sucked out my creative spirit a bit. So I made a decision... no more entering quilt shows until the quilt is completely finished, BOUND, and labeled. I had hopes of entering Fall Paducah again, with my bouquet piece, but the deadline just passed, and it's a kind of a relief... I can just work away at it, without the pressure, and more importantly, without making decisions based on what I think judges would like. As gratifying as it is to have a ribbon wall, the quilt show circuit can be a very grueling taskmaster. 

So, you will see "Dot Almighty" and all of its companions shown here at the MQX WEST show in Springfield, Illinois mid-September (they are doing the challenge again)... but you won't see me. I am heading back to my sewing room to start anew... yes, I think my mojo is finally back!