Stashbusting Start

Yesterday was a total sewing day, all day long! And my shoulders are sore from hours at the machine, but it was very much worth it.

Wonky nine patches are very easy to make and when you get into that repetitive groove of cut-sew-press-cut-sew-press, the stacks get higher quickly.

And since I wanted to use up every bit of these fabrics, I made smaller four patch blocks to go along with them.

I put all of the larger blocks on the design wall (with no thought of design) because it’s always so satisfying to see so much work done!

Then I needed to figure out how I was going to incorporate the other size blocks. That original strip pieced portion yielded 8 small blocks, so I made a medallion of that.

And laid out the other smaller blocks around it.

That’s how I left things at the end of the day. Actually cooked a lovely chicken dinner and relaxed with the Olympics. Felt very productive…it was a very good day!

Not sure if this is how I will proceed. The whole idea is to keep it simple and get it done. When I head back to the studio, I will probaby arrange this grouping as a header, lay out the rest of the blocks in straight rows and GET IT DONE.

Because I’m already thinking of the next one…………………………orange!

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Impatience rules!

Once I decided that destashing-by-making was my goal, there was no way I could wait until free days in March to get started! I have been less than thrilled with the way my white silk and thread project has been going, so this is what it looks like now.

Folded nice and neatly into a project bag and going to sit on the shelf for a while. I also packed up the tons of white fabrics and laces scheduled for the other part of the white project.

I thought it all came out of this box, but it sure doesn’t fit back in it! Thankfully, I found the larger box that it actually came from and got it all packed away again, too. It will come out again when the time is really right to make these projects.

So the decks were cleared to start making things disappear by sewing. I wasn’t sure exactly how to begin, so I gathered up lots of those patterns that I have collected, always meaning to use.

Absolutely cannot find my two favorite patterns, that I have actually made! Darn! And none of these really inspired me today, so I looked to the fabric to stimulate action. It worked, but in kind of a strange way.

There is no logic to the way my fabric instincts work. I have been buying mostly fat quarters for years, so I have no huge hunks of anything that are screaming to be used. The fabrics I chose to begin with are fabrics that have been annoying me for quite a few years.

In my beginning improv days, I used a lot of prints and didn’t leave much ‘breathing’ room. I began using these in that same way…

just AWFUL!  And there it sat, for years. So, I gathered up some compatible pieces, added in some ‘breathing’ fabrics and began to sew.

Using the simple wonky nine-patch block, I cut and sewed and now I’m on my way to my first intentional stashbusting quilt!

And true to my last post, scraps are going into a covered bin, not to be revisited until my stash goal is met….or at least a bit closer than it is now! This one should be done before my March ‘free days’ even begin, so I feel like I’ve made a good start.

Perhaps my next quilt will start out organized in an entirely different manner. I may pick a color and try to use it all up. I’m thinking also of using complementary colors in some way–because I have a lot of orange and blue and they look good together. Maybe I’ll make one with fabrics that don’t appeal to me so much anymore and then reward myself with fabrics I really like. Not worried about quilting or finishing at this point–just tops to use up the fabric.

My machine was humming and so was I, as I got started on this gigantic task.

Thread lace and beads

Oh my word–making huge pieces of thread lace is a never ending project! I’ve never made anything but some small leaves before and making this huge sheet is taking way too long. If I had known at the beginning….in the category of  lessons learned, I’d really have gone about it in a different way.

My goal was to create sheer, shiny fabric to attach to the silk background already made. It would need to have beads on it, but those could be supported by a grid of beading thread as the beads were added. Okay–that was the plan. Using up tons of fibers and threads seemed like such a bonus, too.

I wasn’t too far into it before I realized that the threads alone would not create a strong enough fabric.

Adding a sheer fabric back was about the only answer I could come up with. Had I started with the fabric, I would have added light fusible and fused those fibers to it. Still would have added the stabilizer and the stitching, but maybe not as much stitch and maybe not so many thread/stitching frustrations. Next time for sure…

I stitched for hours, free form sewing and finally thought it might hold together. Then I added a grid of stitches just to feel better about it!

And suddenly it was time to bite the bullet, call it good and wash away the stabilizer!

It’s sheer, shiny and looks different from every angle. Can’t really show that in photos, but I think it’s going to work. We’ll judge the strength as I start assembling and adding those heavy beads!

Speaking of which…I have a few choices to make!

I always start by pulling anything that I think might have any possibility of working with my fabrics and colors…and because I have accumulated so many beads, that can become a large pile!

 

I almost immediately eliminated the darker gold beads and the darkest blue beads. The thread fabric changes color with every viewing angle, so most any color should work! I thought about green, but didn’t really have a good green jump out at me.

  

These three were ‘finalists’ and all looked pretty good. Then I kind of thought all white would really be best and spread these out.

The white along with some off-white looks like the solution. Sparkle all the way through and no dramatic color to draw the eye. The piece is going to reflect a snow storm, so the whiter the better………………..I think! It may yet change as I progress with the beading, but that’s the plan right now.

And I got to spend the whole day in the studio! Thought I was going to have most of the week in the studio, but I forgot to put several things on my calendar. So I’m extra grateful to have had today and to have progressed so far. There is no ‘fast’ in this project, so I will either post it so much that you will get sick of it, or I will try to restrain myself and there will not be as many posts.

But I know myself well enough to know that I will work on more than one project at the same time, so there should be something else to look at soon!

 

Threads and more threads

Have you ever made thread lace? With the water soluble stabilizer? I decided that was what I wanted for my curvy silk piece so I jumped right into creating it.

It started with the idea of a grid of beads and beading thread and then I figured it might be sturdier with a base of fabric,  but I wanted to keep the sheer idea of the bead grid, so….thread lace.

I have this cone of superfine ‘fiber’–one of the many items I’ve acquired over the years. Don’t know exactly what it is, but it shimmers and shines like a hologram so it seems perfect for this.

I’ll tell you one thing–that cone holds a whole lot of fiber, but it’s not enough to make thread lace.

I have a few spools of shiny specialty threads that I have not been successful in using, so I decided to throw them into the mix, too.

Then you layer the top with another piece of stabilizer, pin-pin-pin and start stitching.

I begin with a grid, but all those loose threads must be stitched closely together enough to hold up as a fabric after the stabilizer is washed away. It’s hard to see in photos, but this is the beginning of that stitching.

I tried using invisible thread for my grid, but kept having trouble with it. I have trouble with it on regular fabric, too, and hate it so it didn’t take me long to switch. I gave up on some of the transparency in favor of no thread breakage and used Bottomline. The fill in stitching is done with silver and I don’t think thread alone is going to do the job!

I found a tiny piece of this sheer poly, which has the same holographic shine as the mystery fiber.

I think it will be perfect to use as a base, if I can find some of the same or something similar. It will continue my sheer theme as well as make a better support for the bead grid that is still in the works!

But there’s a snow storm today, so fabric shopping will have to wait for clear roads! I am not a patient person when I have to stop in the middle of an active sewing day and wait for something that is totally out of my control. Grrrrr! But what about the other half of the split project? I could work on it, but I think I need to look at those sheers in the store for that one, too.

I guess I’ll have to keep myself busy using up the yarn stash. I can knit in front of the fireplace while it snows.

Drastic split!

My latest project has been sending messages as it marinates on the design wall. There is always a reason when my projects stall and if I give them enough time, that reason becomes clear.

This project had issues from the very beginning. It was huge and my original mental image did not plan for that. I had waaaaay too much fabric from which to choose and that always throws me. It makes me push to use it all and sometimes less is better.

As I was drifting off to sleep last night–that’s when I usually think about design issues–the answer came to me. I have been trying to mash two separate projects together into one big mess.  All the elements were fighting me. The jump from picture in my head to actual physical assembly was not made correctly this time! The materials I was trying to use were not mixing well and I figured out that they needed to NOT mix. I need to split those fabrics into separate projects. Sometimes the obvious is not at all obvious, but when you finally see the solution, it’s a relief.

The silk part that is almost finished as a background and support is actually the basis of the first part of the split. It will now get some…no, lots…of beads and embellishments and become a separate project.

The sheer fabrics that I  have been attempting to integrate with the silk are the focus of the second part of the split. Those fabrics were what gave me the original idea and it seems that it just took me a while to figure out how to achieve that. It will still have silk at the top, but thinner, smaller–still curvy, but daintier somehow. Oh, yes…I see how it should be now…………..

So that means I should be ready to head back to the studio and get to work again. Making the big split is the correct decision for the materials I have been playing with and I’m so relieved that I now know how to proceed!

Ready–set–sew!

Finished edges and floaty fun

At least I’ve made a start on a finished edge! I have hesitated for days in the past when I have needed to cut into a quilted piece to make a curvy edge. Sometimes you just need to pick up the scissors and cut!

Then to the finishing part–I love to use cotton yarn, couching foot and ziz-zag. One, two, three and you’re done!

At some point, for this piece, I will stitch over that edge again for a smoother, more filled-in finish, but this does the job for the beginning stage. All of this has been background and support, in my mind.

Now I’m ready to start auditioning final choices and placement for finishing…the fun part!

Construction challenges galore as well as design choices! Let the fun begin!

 

How geese become stars…

It’s holiday time and all semblance of routine has been abandoned. Family and celebration and eating are pretty much all that has happened lately. There was a lot of football watching and knitting so that I could keep up with the couch sitting and keep my hands busy!

Today, as we start tip-toeing back to normalcy, I began sewing the quilt for my grandson.

AJ loves purple, but only DARK purple, so this little bit is all I’ll add, as a border around the skeleton.

The stars I planned are easily made from flying geese and flying geese are easily made with the four-square method. I know I’ve told you all this before, but it bears repeating because sometimes we forget the easy stuff! I use the Flying Geese x 4 ruler by Lazy Girl Designs and it’s even easier without having to do the math!

Now you can spend a lot of time marking diagonals when you have to sew on each side of them, but I prefer to take a few minutes and fold the small squares in half and press. Then sew on each side of that line…very quick!

I’ll be the first to admit that my piecing is not always precise, but most often in this case, no ripping is needed. Simply sew a straighter line right over the top and continue on!

The second set of squares goes just as quickly…

and then the geese are ready to be placed around a central square. Voila! A star!

It was less than two hours to get this much done……………

…..and I only know that because I was couch sitting again for the start of the GLI hockey game this afternoon! I did sew a few more blocks later on and the next step is to make some smaller geese and stars. Then I’ll be able to get a final design layout and get this top put together.

Keith joked about me having it (the quilt) done by Friday and I laughed…but there is a very real possibility that the top could be done by then! It’s not so much of a joke anymore…and I’m excited about it. Now I only hope that AJ likes it when it’s done. He’s already surprised me with his definite fabric preferences. I hope there are no unpleasant surprises when he sees the finished product!