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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stitch Stitch Stitch!

So, here we are again, back to the hopes of Spring! The last couple of days have surprised us all, and I've even had the windows open! It rained a bit last night, and I see sprouts of green in the grass, even! So it won't be long, I think.

I've passed off my Round Robin starter block, and now I have my round sitting patiently on the design wall for ideas. This will be the last time I am able to post anything about the Round Robins, though, as we are keeping them secret until the final reveal. Our group has decided that "anything goes". My Round Robin is going to be a traditional center block that they add borders to....or not. I told them they could add 2 sides or 3 sides, or whatever they felt it needed. The one I have now (Nancy's) is based on the grid method. Each of us will complete the equivalent of 10 (6") blocks. They may be separate, or they could be any combination of 6" blocks such as a 12" block which would be equal to 4. I have an idea simmering, but I am going to wait another couple of days before beginning.
What's in My Garden?
This past Saturday was the first 2011 birthday stitch day with the Amazing Quilt Babes. We give each other a day of stitching for a birthday gift, with the Birthday girl preparing the blocks to be sewn, and serving birthday dessert. We divide up the year with those special stitch days, and even though it might not be your birthday or even your month, we celebrate the day as if it was. It was my day to celebrate, and celebrate we did.  
It helps to have a rosy outlook on life!
Vicky, Ibby, Sharon, Shirlee and Carol
We worked on Star Whimsey, and I think I am going to love . love . love . this quilt when it's completed! I pilfered used Ibby's leftovers from last fall for some of the blocks. She works in Colonial colors which are difficult for me to choose on my own, so shopping in her scraps made this quite perfect!
Star Whimsey
One of the things I love about working with a group of quilters is that I always learn something. This Saturday I learned an easy way to mark half square triangles. I've used Thangles, and I've used Fons and Porter's methods and just about every other technique there is. The most perfect HSTs for me are when I mark the diagonal, then sew about a thread's width away from the line, then press it back and trim off the background and the extra triangle. If I make larger HSTs, I save those trimmings and make smaller HSTs to store away for a rainy another day. Amazing Quilt Babe Carol, helped mark the squares for this project, and here's what she did:
An emery board has multiple uses!
She pulled out an emery board and marked those squares lickety split! I have a sandpaper board, but it's always lost in another place where I can't find it readily. With this method, the square stays put, you have a straight edge, and it's small enough to store in your machine tray along with your seam ripper. Too cool! Thanks Carol for sharing this little tip!

Life is getting back to normal, or what will be the new normal here at Quiltgranny's Shoe. And life is good. All I need is a quilt, a cat and a dog to make me smile!
Mayo and Clyde sharing a warm spot on "Stars over Cambria"

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Newsy applique

Today is the big day for football lovers. Me? Not so much, but it's nice to spend it with hubby: he watches the game and I sew and watch the commercials. Our chili was made yesterday and is heating up nicely for dinner later tonight. This afternoon, we'll take in a bit of culture by attending a Mozart and Smetna symphony as a belated birthday present for Hubby.
Our 13" snow waves
Thanks to all of you who sent emails wishing us well while we were at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. We were able to get everything taken care of nicely, and Hubby is doing ever so much better now. We have a short term and a long term plan in place to keep him going, and he is already feeling tons better. We went up a day earlier than necessary to miss a storm that moved in, and then we came home the Friday before the big storm hit Monday night and Tuesday. Even with the bad weather, Hubby's meds arrived via UPS air, and we were grateful for that. We'll get a shipment each week, as this new plan is being administered out of Mendota Heights, MN. What a wonder the age of technology is!
Mayo the Wonder Dog testing how deep it might be!
While we were on the road, I found two products that I have absolutely fallen in love with. When I travel, I like to pack light and then do laundry if I need to. The only problem with that is taking laundry soap can be a real problem. I generally use liquid soap at home, so that's out of the question. This is what I found at the store in Rochester, and not only is it convenient to travel with, but it's also a great product.  
Purex 3-in-1
The second product I just happened to find when I was looking for a small bottle of dish soap to use in the hotel suite. These are soap impregnated sheets that suds up when you wet them. We were there one week, and I only used one. I kept it in a plastic baggie between uses. Now, of course, all I washed was my popcorn bowl, a knife and fork, my drinking glass and Mayo's food bowl. But, I think I would like to have these on hand for all my travels!
If you stayed with me this long, NOW we can talk about my applique. In my last post, I showed you the different ways I like to do applique. Since then, I've had a few emails asking me what kind of thread do I like to use. Now, this subject can be as touchy as whether to pre-wash your fabric or not (I don't). Let me first say that I have no affiliation to any product or brand of anything I talk about on my blog. If I ever do, I will be sure to tell you about it. Wouldn't it be nice if some thread company wanted to give me free thread so I could talk about it? LOL! So back to business. I say use what works for you, just as you should use whatever applique technique works for you, and this is only my opinion.
My version of a folk art design (18/5" square) with Karen Kay Buckley circles, freezer paper birds and back basted pot.
My favorite thread for hand applique is DMC machine embroidery thread. It comes in luscious colors, and I can always find one that is just right for my work. I actually like the special DMC packs that I can only find one time a year, which happens to be now. Otherwise, I use the smaller, shorter spools. The flash makes it look shiny, but it really has a matte finish.

Two version of DMC machine embroidery thread

So you might be asking, "Why don't you use silk thread?" About 10 years ago, I happened onto the silk thread for applique thread (no pun intended) on-line and promptly bought some and started using it. I didn't like how slippery it was, but I have to tell you that I DID love how it melted into the fabric. AND, everyone seemed to be saying that it WAS the applique thread to use! About a year later, I took several classes with Nancy Pearson and she showed us how silk thread stretches, and then breaks. She said she would never use it for that reason. Made sense to me, so I gave away my silk thread and started using Mettler cotton thread. That was nice, but I happened across the DMC and have been a fan ever since. In a pinch, though, I will use Coats and Clark and Auriful.

And of course, the most important thing to help you applique is a 17 lb. cat named Clyde.  All you have to do is sit down, and there he will be, giving you hugs while Mayo the Wonder Dog supervises!