Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Leaf Block Pillow Give-Away

I laid all the leaf blocks out across the twin beds to check orientation. Now ready to sew together.I've been absent from this blog for awhile. Part of that time was spent lounging around with a bit of a cold or flu. Thought I'd check back in today and here it is already three weeks since my last post.

I have had these blocks laid out on the twin beds downstairs for some time now. I just have not taken the time to stitch them together yet. I'm hoping to fit it in still this week.

An extra leaf quilt block will be my first Give-Away for this blog.Perhaps you noticed an extra block in the upper left corner. It's at the head of the left twin bed by the magazine where I found the pattern for the quilt. Since I have an extra block I decided to use it as a Give-Away here at my blog. I will be sewing it up as a small pillow. If a pillow is something you could use to enhance your home decor, leave a comment below and you'll be in the drawing. Comments are open through November 14th. I'll conduct a random drawing of all entrants and pull a winner on November 15th. Good Luck - and thanks for visiting.

Monday, October 05, 2009

56 Leaf Blocks Completed

I have been busy emroidering and sewing away to get all 56 leaf blocks completed for my Autumn Leaf Quilt. Here they are laid out on my drawing table. Now I need to arrange them in the proper orientation so the blocks will be aligned correctly. I have a lot of different scrap fabrics working together to create the quilt. I want to lay the blocks out before I start sewing them together to be sure I don't have too many of the same leaves or colors of fabrics congregated in one area of the quilt. I'll lay them out on the beds in the guest bedroom downstairs to get the placement right. I want to start sewing them together tomorrow. There is supposed to be a border around the perimeter, but I haven't selected fabric color to do the border yet. Once the blocks are all sewn together I'll see what to chose for the border and the binding. I'm really looking forward to getting this quilt finished.

I've already started more cutting of fabric for the next couple quilts. I've got one quilt mostly sewn together right now. After talking it over with my sewing friend today at our Sew-In I'll be adding another 39 - 6 1/2" blocks to make the quilt larger. I can't say a whole lot more about this one since it's going to be a surprise for someone who might be reading my blog. It's that time of year to keep quiet about surprises for gift-giving later on.

My sewing friend and I were discussing ideas for projects we'll be making for Christmas gifts this year. I think I'll be doing a lot of sewing for gifts that I have in mind for this year. Hope all my dear readers won't feel slighted if I can't actually speak on specifics or show photos of all the things I'll be working on over the next couple months - have to keep some things to myself for awhile so there will be some surprises later. I'll update you all after the Christmas Holidays on projects that get completed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Autumn Leaves

Embroidering more autumn leaves with Anita Goodesign embroidery designs.I was not feeling like my usual chipper self the last several days. I'm fending off some viral intestinal thing or something. Just feeling off from the norm, so I didn't participate in my usual Sew-In on Monday. I took it easy around the house by doing very little except for some time spent in my sewing studio. It's been nice and quiet around here. That's okay; I like to hole up at home when I don't feel so well.

I worked on embroidering more leaves for my Autumn Leaf quilt. I forget what the count is on that exactly, but I know I still need some more to get to 56 leaves. It's getting close. I did a bit more with cutting strips for the log cabin type blocks. I'm not keeping count on those since I've decided to do a second quilt with some other embroidered squares I have on hand. I'll take photos of those and post about them on another blog entry. Meanwhile, just know . . . even though I haven't posted for a short while, I'm still here . . . kind of just bumming around taking it easy as my body gets back to a more balanced state of being.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Leaf Quilt Half Done

I did a trial layout of my embroidered Autumn Leaves quilt blocks just to get a better idea how this quilt will look when it is completed. Love it!I went to sew with a friend today. This is what I worked on. I was busy sewing strips to these leaf blocks, then worked on cutting more strips for the rest of the blocks. Apparently I miss counted the other day. I re-counted this afternoon and there are 28 blocks finished now. Yea! That's half of the 56 blocks required for this quilt. I laid these out on the floor at my friend's house to see how this quilt will look when it is put together. If you're sharp, you probably noticed I have some blocks in the lower right corner positioned wrong. I can see this is something I'll have to be careful to watch for when it comes time to sew them together.

I love the look of the blocks. The colors seem to be just right with the scrap fabrics that were selected. I love how all these odd ball scraps turned out to work so well together. Now I need to work on embroidering 28 more leaves and continue cutting more scrappy strips. Once those two things are done, the actual sewing time to put the blocks together goes pretty fast.

I've been thinking that I need to have a name to refer to the time spent sewing as a social activity with my friend. It would be so much easier to refer to this time if it was named. It needs a name because it's important and would make it easier to talk about and write about. How does everyone else refer to their sewing time together with friends? It used to be called a Sewing Bee when sewers/sew-ers/sewists got together to sew and visit. Is that term too old-fashioned to use anymore? It doesn't quite seem to fit. After all, there are only two of us. What's the current term for social sewing? I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Falling Leaves

The colorful maple leaf embroidery is an Anita Goodesign embroidery design.I thought I would spend some time this weekend working on my Autumn Leaf quilt, but alas . . . I did not. The time just seems to fly by. The last time I worked on these was Thursday night. As I recall, I counted the number of leaf blocks I had already completed. They added up to 21 blocks. That means I need 35 more for 56 total. I spent quite a bit of time cutting up fabric strips to the appropriate lengths. Then I spent the rest of the evening and night sewing up some of the blocks. At first I worked on one, or just a few, blocks at a time. Then I decided it would be more efficient to sew them up assembly style. Right now the 21 leaf blocks are all partially sewn into blocks. I've got a few more strips to sew onto each of those blocks to have them finished. I'm contemplating going downstairs to my Sewing Studio and do a little bit of sewing before I head off to bed.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Autumn Leaf Quilt Progress

Close up view of one of these leaf blocksI went to a friend's house for our weekly sewing session. Since it was a holiday on Monday we postponed our regular Monday sewing time for today. I brought the makings for this Autumn Harvest Quilt and cut strips to size for most of the afternoon while we chatted. Then decided I had enough cut and sorted in their little piles to try sewing a few blocks together. I'm anxious to get this quilt completed in time to actually make use of it this fall. Hopefully it will be completed before the snow hits for winter.

Starting to equip the assembly line.I need 56- 9 1/2" blocks for this quilt. The pattern is in the American Patchwork & Quilting October 2009 issue. It's easy basic sewing, but of course I changed it and decided I wanted to make use of some embroidery designs rather than piecing the leaves as shown in the magazine. I have 17 leaves embroidered already - need 39 more so will try to keep the machine running tomorrow while I get caught up on some laundry and tidy up my sewing studio again. Last night I stayed up to get more leaves embroidered and was looking for some gray fabric for a project my friend will be working on. That lead me to digging through all my scattered stashes of fabrics, not just what was on the shelves in view. I have a bunch more fabric tucked away in a few places - like under my cutting table, inside plastic bins, etc. I'd like to someday get that all out and organized on my shelves so I can see it at a glance to find a particular color right away when needed. If I can eliminate the time to search for stuff by being more organized I can get projects finished easier.

Everything laid out on the cutting table for leaf quilt.Here's a shot of everything laid out on my cutting table after I got back from sewing today. I still need a lot more strips cut to size to make all 56 blocks for this quilt, so will continue to work on that between loads of laundry tomorrow. I need to do a bit of tidying up since we decided to sew again tomorrow and my friend is coming here to my house this time. I've got to clean up and make room for us both to work.

Another view of my materials laid out on table.And here's another view of the cutting table. Yep, I'm back to cutting out fabric, post accident, and feeling confident about my safety. I have to say I am really glad to have purchased those safety shields for my ruler. I already had my rotary cutter slip and jump atop the ruler to hit the ruler guard today. Honestly, I'm not being careless, but have to say I was a bit jumpy when that happened. It takes you by surprise. Again it happened so fast and had I not had the guards I may have had another accident.

I'll stress it again . . . go out today and get those ruler guards. Put them on your rulers. The fingers you save will be your own, or a loved one's. Yikes, it gives me the willies just thinking about it. Don't put it off - this is good advice from one who knows! By the way, the finger has healed up nicely. I cannot say enough about being thankful God made us with bodies that heal. There's only a tiny bit of numbness and funny feeling right at the tip, under the nail. I have full confidence that will eventually dissipate over time so that I have normal feeling in my fingertip again.

A large pile of fabric scraps to cut to size for strips in the background.In the background of this photo you can see that huge pile of fabric scraps waiting to be cut to size. These are mostly skinny pieces and oddball sized strips. I'll cut them to the two inch size for this leaf quilt if they are an appropriate color. If not, they will just be cut to 2 1/2" strips and later used for more jelly roll quilts. I've got a couple quilt books with patterns to make use of jelly rolls so I'm collecting assorted strips from my scraps. I've also got quite an assortment of oddball sized strips to make up some string quilts, too.

After looking through, and unpacking, more of my fabric stash last night I have to say I am looking forward to doing a quilt in the future that's planned from a pattern and not just scraps and scrappy strips. I've got so much beautiful fabric collected over the years that I've never cut into. It will be fun to make up some quilts from new fabric even though some of it isn't quite so new any more. What with working in the sewing and quilting field for the past 9 years or so - I've been to lots of quilt shows and purchased lots of fabric. Always seemed so busy with working and life in general that I didn't get to start using much of it yet. Guess I kind of went crazy buying up fabrics, books and patterns. There's so much now to chose from. That's a good thing, and yet I don't want to let too much more time pass while trying to catch up with making use of it. Times change, patterns change, colors change, etc. I'm loving the colors of it all now, but when too much time passes this will all seem old, passe or vintage.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Autumn Leaf Quilt

I wanted to work on a project that would keep my embroidery machines running while I was busy doing other work in my sewing studio. So I decided to start embroidering fall leaves to make into the quilt on the front of this magazine, American Patchwork & Quilting October 2009 issue. Yep, that's right . . . I'm not one to follow directions exactly as laid out. I'm veering off the beaten path and plan on making embroidered leaves the focus in the centers of these log-cabin type blocks rather than piecing the leaves as shown. They have an alternate color option for this Maple Leaf Log Cabin quilt. Mine will be just one more alternate when it is finished. Yeah for alternatives!

I've only just begun with these leaves. As I recall it takes 56 blocks so I will need 56 leaves in various colors, shapes and sizes to do this quilt. So far they are absolutely gorgeous colored leaves - each one slightly different! The embroidery design is from Anita Goodesign's Autumn Harvest 2 collection. I've also got a few other designs with fall leaves I may mix in with these. It should be a lot of fun to embroider these bright colorful leaves - and to mix and match thread colors to make them all different.

I've already got lots of 2 1/2" strips cut from my scraps. I could use those and ignore the printed instructions which call for 2" strips. I'm not decided about that just yet. I've still got a nice big stack of fabric to cut up into strips so I think I will be cutting some appropriate fall colors into 2" strips to use on this quilt. I noticed the magazine cover shows other colors thrown in the mix like blues, greens, purples along with the browns, tans, reds and orange colors of fall.

I have not forgotten about my rattlesnake quilt. That's still on hold for just a while longer. My finger is nearly healed. The nail and skin have all grown back and look pretty much back to normal. But I'm still experiencing some numbness and tingling in the tip. It still feels a bit painful when I ding it on something or press hard on the tip. I can barely clean under the nail as it is still very sensitive. I still need time on it for healing more.

In the meantime, while I'm doing other stuff in my sewing studio, I'll be running embroideries on two of my machines to keep raking up these beautiful leaves. Lately I've been cutting more strips or satin stitching and detail stitching on some appliques. I've usually got something going . . . or rather lots of things going all at the same time. Occasionally it will just be one thing at a time when I feel like winding down in the evening. It just depends on how distracting it can be keeping multiple machines going at once. Does anyone else work like this as well? Sometimes I want to only do one thing, other times I feel like I'm wasting time, or just not using it efficiently enough, to not have more than one thing going on at a time. After all, those machines are made to just keep on running on their own as long as I can keep up with the thread changes and the hoopings.

A few days ago I rummaged through my stash and pulled out a few different off-white background fabrics to pre-cut the blocks for the leaves. I want them to look a bit scrappy using different fabrics, but keep them in the same color tones. I've got a nice little pile going to pull from now so hooping goes a bit faster. I can't wait to get this quilt done. The leaves look so pretty.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fall Quilt Forecast and Badge WIPs

American Patchwork & Quilting Oct 2009 issue and my badge design sew out.
I've been busy working on a variety of things, just haven't taken the time to upgrade this blog for awhile. One of the things I was doing was working on digitizing a design for a badge and test sewing it. Here's a quick peek at what I've been up to. The design will be sewn out as this badge with the shield shape. I was working on this quite some time ago for an on-line project I was involved in. I want to get it finalized and the samples sewn out. This Work In Progress (WIP) has been 'in progress' for quite a while. It will be nice to get it completed and sent on its way.

Badge design I digitized and test sewing now.I'll get better close-up .jpg image of the badge sometime for more clarity of the image. Meanwhile here's a .jpg of the design image file from my 4D Profession digitizing software program. The wings are a machine applique so it appears in this image as just an outline satin stitch. There are a few more tweaks I want to do on the file before I call it done and sew out the rest of the badges I need.

The magazine is the latest edition of a quilting magazine I subscribe to. I would like to take more time to sit down to peruse the magazine, but again I've been busy with lots of stuff. The front cover of this American Patchwork & Quilting magazine shows a quilt I'd like to make for this fall. Here again I haven't had time to work on all the projects I would like to do, but the cover quilt would be perfect to use up some of my scraps I cut up into strips. The leaves are just right for fall, too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pace Yourself

Pfaff Creative Vision 5.0I've owned a number of sewing machines over the years and enjoyed sewing on every one of them. My first was a $99 straight stitch/zig zag White around my senior year of high school. It was all I could afford at the time and still have money to buy some fabric. Later as I got older, married and had kids I purchased another one that had more decorative stitches. I can remember wanting so badly to get a machine that had alphabets for the longest time. Eventually I purchased one that had more decorative stitches and was thrilled that it also had alphabet letters and a memory. After sewing tiny (6mm-9mm letters) onto everything I could work it into I began to day dream about the possibility of getting an embroidery machine. At the time there was no way I could swing it financially so made do with what I had for a long time. Then many more years down the road when I started working at a local sewing machine dealership I was in heaven to finally get an opportunity to own a Husqvarna Viking sewing/embroidery machine combination. I've since then graduated to the top-of-the-line Pfaff with all the bells and whistles and huge embroidery frame size.

I've been sewing for a long, long time. Through the years I've picked up many new techniques and added new ones whenever the sewing industry introduced new features and functions on machine. The products including the machines, the patterns and books, classes on VHS, CD, DVD and now on-line have all become more affordable and more sophisticated.

While working in the sewing machine industry I've met lots of wonderful people. Many new sewers starting out would love to purchase upper-line machines but can only afford to start with a hobby type machine.

I categorize machines in one of these two designations. Hobby machines usually come with a one year (or less) warranty, are made of mostly plastic parts, have smaller motors, smaller stitch size (4.5mm-6mm) and typical 10 year average life span as a home sewing machine. Keep in mind a lot of home sewers sew only occasionally and usually with light weight fabric like cotton. You'll find hobby machines at big box retail stores as well as many sewing machine dealerships.

On the other side of the spectrum are upper-line machines. Upper-lines usually come with 2 or more years warranty through a sewing machine dealership, have the major components made from metal rather than plastic, have bigger motors, bigger and wider stitches (9mm-40mm or more), can sew through heavier, multiple layers of fabric (such as 12 layers of denim and garment weight leather), have many more features and typical life expectancy of 20 years of home sewing.

For the first three-fourths of my life I sewed on a hobby type machine. Lots of sewing! These machines are good, but upper-line is so much better. I didn't realize this until I actually sat down and did some real sewing on an upper-line. Now I would never go back to a hobby, unless that was all that was left in the world - I certainly wouldn't give up sewing for lack of an upper-line machine!

When it comes to machines, my theory is: "You can get anything you want, you just have to pace yourself." Many dealerships have trade-up programs that allow you to move up to the next level in a manner that's a little easier on the pocketbook. It's worth checking out. In the meantime, no matter what machine you are currently working with . . . treat it well. Give it a good cleaning on a regular basis. Oil it every 8-10 hours or as called for in the manual. Don't sew over pins, and change your needle often. You'll enjoy sewing more when things are running smoothly. You can plan to trade-up to the next level when you make the opportunity happen. Your machine will reward you with many pleasurable sewing hours ahead.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pressing Scraps

Scraps for a future scrap quilt project.I've been spending some of my time pressing scraps found in a huge box during the de-cluttering. There were actually quite a few larger pieces taken out of the box and pressed first. What's left is mostly small strips and pieces. I'll be cutting them up over the weekend and store them for a future scrap quilt project. It will be nice to finally get these off my cutting table and pressing board. I'm beginning to feel it's an endless task. Thankfully I can see light at the end of this tunnel. :)

Tiki Guy TimeWhile I was pressing those scraps I thought it prudent to get two things going at once. I started up my Husquvarna Viking Designer 1 to work on an embroidery design. This Tiki guy will be made into a pillow once the embroidery portion is complete. I plan on adding some of the floral embroideries to either side. The designs are from the Anita Goodesign brand. This design package is called Man Pack. This will be going up for sale on my Etsy site just as soon as it is finished. I'm planning on making up several pillows and other stuff to post on Etsy over the next couple weeks. Check back for more details on the finished pillow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Re-Vamping My Sewing Studio

I've made some great strides on re-vamping my sewing studio. The bulk of it is in place, now just to fine-tune some of the rest. I've got way more stuff than I need at this time. I managed to get rid of lots of excess 'stuff' that had been accumulating over the years. My last reorganization a year ago was more a matter of 'leveling' rather than 'purging' the old stuff. This time I threw out or gave away a lot of stuff that was taking up room. I want to get it down even more, so will continue to sort and purge as the summer months progress.

The last several days I've been taking a break from any sorting, purging and organizing. I've been fishing, boating, motorcycle riding, visiting with friends, etc. Now I'm refreshed and ready to tackle more of the clutter again. It's amazing what I've managed to stuff into these rooms and forget all about it over time. Lot's of stuff had not seen the light of day in years. Of course it was all stuff I felt I needed to save at the time, or just didn't want to make the decision at that time to get rid of it. Postponing that kind of decision has brought me to this major chore now. My thoughts now are more on simplifying and not hanging onto everything so much like has been my habit. I have to ask myself what am I saving this stuff for? I guess I'm ready to move on from so much of it now. Still . . . there's lots more to go through!

I've been working on sorting a huge box of scraps. I'm ironing and sorting by size and shape an accumulation of scraps in a wide variety of colors and patterns. These will all be cut up into 5 1/2" charm squares, 2 1/2" strips, or 3" and 4" squares. I'll just cut it all up for the time being so I'll have lots of color and pattern choices for another scrap quilt. I love scrap quilts! I've already amassed a variety of strips in different sizes to make up a string quilt or one of those stitch and flip scrappy quilts. It will take some serious sewing to get through the piles.

My quilting frame is set up in my new "Golden Yellow Room" that is freshly painted and carpeted. I have not loaded a quilt top onto it yet. I was looking through my collection of quilt tops and have several I figure I can practice on for my first attempts at quilting on the frame. I need to measure and prepare some backing fabric in order to do that. I also want to make up some frame leaders from canvas or some other sturdy fabric. I could purchase this, but since I have so much fabric on hand I think it would be more cost effective to look through my stash. That would also help wittle down on some of the excess. I know there is some heavier, sturdy fabric in the stash. It's just a matter of locating it. That will be one of my next projects once this box of scraps is taken care of and out of the way.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Re-Vamping This Blog

My button jar is filled with assorted vintage buttons.I decided to track down all my previous attempts at starting to blog and either delete or re-vamp them. I've currently got all four blogs linked together. I considered deleting some of them, but decided to hang onto all of them for a little while. I plan on posting different kinds of entries to each of them as I get my on-line business going. This Sew Easy-Sew Cool blog will deal with simple, basic sewing projects that are good for beginners and occasional sewists. If your sewing skills are still in the beginning stage you've found the right place to be. I will be posting quick, easy project ideas here as a means of encouraging newbies to develop a love of sewing

We all start somewhere; we were all newbies at some point.

This jar holds a small portion of a variety of sewing ribbons.This site has seen a very l-o-n-g gap since my last post. I decided to leave the entry about the Stuffie pattern I was developing because it is an easy one for beginners. There was a recording of the television spot on KXMB and the Sew Easy program I did once per month at J&R Vacuum and Sewing. I am no longer working there, but if you're in need of a good sewing machine or any sewing accessories, check them out when you happen to be in Bismarck. I worked there for many years.

This blog, as well as my other blogs you'll find in my blog list at the right sidebar, is a result of my many years in the sewing world. I have gained an enormous amount of sewing knowledge and want to share some of it here and through my other blogs and website. Stay tuned as I work to develop my own on-line business with some original patterns, books, and various products I will be showcasing.

Be sure to bookmark this blog as one of your favorites so you can stop by often to check for my newest posting. I promise it won't be anywhere near the previous gap in posting!