Friday, March 24, 2023

Where to Donate Fabric on Off the Wall Friday

 So is anybody else doing their spring cleaning?  Since this is my 30th year of quilting, I thought it would be a good time to downsize the stash that I've been collecting all this time.  Recently we did over our dressing room/fabric closet and this is as far as we've gotten.

The Before

The So-Far

Notice what great shelves the upcycled church pews made?

AND I still have some more bins to fill for the bottom shelves and the small boxes are going into the closet.  From the looks of it, you'd never know I donated 8 13 gallon garbage bags of fabric to my favorite charity, Erie's City Mission's Urban University.  The program consists of variety of classes in all sorts of interesting (including sewing!).  Through these new pursuits youth can develop leadership, academic and faith skills.    Yeah never know where the next great quilter is going to come from right?

With that I want to encourage you to clean out your stash (it was one of those bad habits) and donate to a worthy cause.  WHERE  you ask?  

FABSCRAP If you're in the NYC or Philadephia, I highly recommend you check this program out.  You can donate, volunteer to sort and even shop at this recycle/reuse charity!  It's an amazing idea and a great use of fabric that would have just ended up in the landfills!

Donate Directly to the Cause 

Quilts of Valor   The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.  They will accept quilts and fabric.  Their website shows how to donate easily or connect with a sewing group! 

Project Linus provides homemade blankets to children in the US who are ill, traumatized or otherwise in need.  The President Patty has a monthly zoom call that will help anybody get started in working with the organization.

Days for Girls  increases menstural care and education world wide with sustainable solutions.  They
accept fabric donations as well as menstural supply bags.  Talk about women who have empathy for other woman!  

I'm sure there are many more out there.  You can also donate directly to your favorite charity/thrift store.  I know there are many a little sewer that will comb through the shelves of the local salvation army looking for fabric to use!  For that matter, you can contact your local women's shelter and see if they need fabric.  Then there are schools, church programs, summer programs...geesh get the drift!

The one thing you don't want to do is hoard it!  Keep what you need and will use and donate the rest!

So What Do You Do with Fabric You Don't Need?

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Friday, March 17, 2023

Quilting Trends for 2023 on Off the Wall Friday

Me stitching in my studio watching the Mentalist...again

Okay, let's face it.  I'm not one for following trends.  I'm the type that decides what is good for me and mine and then goes in that direction.  I do, however, keep track of trends, just because it's good to stay informed.  I recently got Timna Tarr's latest newsletter and it mentioned that handwork is becoming more of a trend on the national scene.  That I can see.  You hear of handwork everywhere these days.  First English paper piecing made a resurgence with the Millefiori Quilts and Grandma Garden quilts leading the way.  The Daily Stitching Groups online have gotten quilters from all over stitching a little every day.  Plus every where you look you'll see quilters trying Big Stitch hand quilting.  On top of that, Sarah Fielke's Homeward Bound (the BOM designed for the Quilt Show) is bringing hand applique back in a big way.  I've read so many times on the BOM forum that there is a whole group of quilters that this is their first attempt at hand applique.  (For that matter there is an article on needle turned applique in the current issue of American Quilter).  

Personally, I think it was inevitable.  Normally trends are cylindrical right?  Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry broke the quilt world into machine quilting by winning Best in Show at Paducah for Corona 2: Solar Eclipse.  back in 1989 (Click on that link to see how she designed it - wow super fascinating)  It just went from there.  The internet really helped with youtube videos showing everyone how much they could push their domestic machines.  THEN came the advent of long-arm quilting which gave quilters an easy way to get all those quilt tops finally quilted.  BUT thirty years later, there is still a segment of quilters that love the slow methodical feeling of handwork.  It's cheap, it's portable, and it's soothing.  Plus there is a whole generation of quilters who haven't tried it.  So now it's back.  

This brings me back to the point that apparently I am officially "In". Who knew?  I do want to mention that when I started quilting in 1992, it was basically mandatory that you learn hand skills including hand quilting and applique. But I really loved it since I came from a cross-stitching background.

This month my work has been all dominated by handwork, so much so that my hand ached after a 10 hr day of it.  

I finished up my foray into appliqueing circles by completing this month's section of the Homeward Bound Quilt.  I want to say that none of the circles came perfectly circular but all the stitches were definitely invisible.  That 100-wt Invisafil thread is The Bomb!  I do think that if I ever do more applique circles, I will invest in the Applipops 'cause I want my circles to be perfectly circular.  

One thing Sarah clued me in on was how handy a sandpaper board is for tracing on fabric.  I did save the $20 and had Paul make me one with fine grit sandpaper.  It really does smooth out your lines when you are writing on fabric!

You can see how my circle templates came in handy...again.  If you don't have a set of drafting circle templates ... BUY some!  I can't tell you how many times I used them over the years for all sorts of things.  

Plus I'm still quilting on my Rain Rain quilt.  I have switched to a Size 5 crewel needle and it works fine.  Not only is it MUCH EASIER to thread but it's much stronger than the size 8 or 9.  I also pulled out some of my #12 pearl cotton to get a bigger color range.  I love the added line the quilting adds.  Normally with hand quilting, it's all about adding texture.  But with Pearl cotton, it actually adds an element of line that wasn't there before.   If you haven't tried big-stitch quilting, try it!!  Haven't you heard?  It's in!  (grin)

see, the pearl cotton makes it look like it's raining!

The News of the Day

After much hmmming and hawwwing, I picked out my annual creating vacation.  I'm going back to Marc Adams School of Woodworking to take Timna Tarr's Stitch Mosiac Class again.  It was so much fun last year, that once I really started thinking about it there wasn't anything else I'd rather do. 

You can read all about how much fun we had last year ... here .   It was so much fun two of my classmates are joining me to repeat the class.  If you haven't heard, Timna has a new book out on her very approachable technique of creating a mosaic pictorial quilt.  

If you are looking for a fun way to spend a week, please consider joining us in the class.  It runs July 17-21st of this year.  Also, there is affordable housing offered by the school OR hotel rooms are close by that are pretty inexpensive too.  Indiana as a whole is an affordable friendly place to visit.  I mean, gosh, this is what I made last year....

So is anybody else getting back to handwork?

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Friday, March 10, 2023

8 Not Sew Good Habits on Off the Wall Friday

 All this back-to-basics sewing around here lately, has got me thinking about when I was a beginner quilter.  I began quilting on a fluke, not because someone I loved taught me.  So it was kinda doing whatever works at the moment kind of thing.  Along that journey, bad habits were formed.  So the first step to improvement is realizing there is a problem, right?  Some of these are practical, some are mental, and some are just, "I should have known better".  So if you recognize some of these, shhhhhh it's okay, your secret is safe with me!

8 Not Sew Good Habits

  • Not practicing good sewing machine maintenance.  This includes changing the needle when it gets dull (you'll hear the thud, thud, thud sound).  Not cleaning your machine properly (I do it every bobbin or two).  Not unthreading your machine properly (thread only runs ONE way through your machine).  Not taking your machine for its annual check-up at your local shop.  You're sewing machine is your best friend.  Treat it that way.
    (I found this online ... is this crazy or what?)

  • Letting comparison steal your joy.  Honestly, I have a love/hate relationship with the internet.

    It's truly a wealth of information and connection.  It also can be a big source of quilt-envy.  How many times have you seen an image of a quilt and thought, "Oh I'll never be that good?"  I mean, I even have a Pinterest board called, "Art Quilts I wished I made".  This is the kind of thing that can rob you of your creativity as well as still the happiness you have in quilting.  Sometimes it's good to say to yourself, "Self, step away from the internet"

  • Not being organized.
      Let me preface this with that everyone has a level of organization that is right for them.  Saying that, it's good to stay at that level.  It really is the small things that will help.  Picking up your area after a sewing session.  Keeping your tools in their rightful place (I just want to put a plug for the idea I came up with at QBL 2001...having mugs on my sewing table.  You always know where your scissors, seam ripper, rotary cutter, marker, etc are and they move easily where you need them). Also, keeping things that aren't essential to your sewing out of your area.
  • Not paying attention to safety.  Sewing can be dangerous.  Let me repeat that, sewing can be dangerous.  So make sure you close your rotary cutter (that's why I use Kai rotary cutters, they self-close)...turn off your iron...don't let your pins end up on the floor or in the couch's arm...don't use dull scissors or rotary blades....maintain proper posture...and most importantly don't sew when distracted or tired.  I found out this last one after a 14 hr day of creating at Arrowmont when I literally sewed right through my finger.  Thank God, a nurse was in the class and she just handled the whole thing.  I just stood there with my finger out trying not to cry.  I'm still not quite sure how I sewed through it since I was so tired!
  • Not maintaining your stash of fabric and thread properly.  If your sewing machine is your best friend, your fabric and thread are your peeps.  When I say "maintaining" I mean stop buying what you want but don't need and start buying what you actually need.  Keep your stash organized so you know what you have.  Take proper care of your scraps, getting rid of ones you won't use, and organize the ones you have so you can use them.  Buy quality but don't let marketing influence your buying choices. (yes this is coming from a woman who recently gave 8 13gal bags of quilt fabric to a local charity)

  • My friend's Toni's stash...Amazing right?

  • Not learning how to press properly.
      Press every seam as you go.  Press (instead of iron).  Learn when to press an open seam and when to press to the dark side.  (this falls under the category of "the little things"
  • Not having the right tool for the project.  Let's face it, there are a lot of tools, gadgets, and
    notions out there.  It's a good idea to take a moment and think of the ones you like the best, then make sure you can readily get to them and are stocked up.  Living in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, I learned this the hard way.  Nothing is worse than needing something and not being able to get to easily.  It's funny, although online shopping and Amazon have helped, they also have initiated the demise of the local quilt shop.  (Retailing is a bitch!)
  • Not staying focused.  This is not about starting a project and working on it to the end. (but it could be)  This is more about deciding what you want to do and actually doing it.  I could easily be called the "squirrel" of quilters.  A bunch of ideas jump into my head and I want to explore them all.  This is a great way to get nothing done.  Staying focused can also mean knowing when to let an idea or project go.  Not all UFO's are meant to be finished.  Some need to be divorced, some need to be reworked and a few need to be stored for another time.  The idea is to set a goal and stick to it.
Lord, writing out this list just emphasizes  I have some work to do!  Probably the last is my worst though.  The others little by little, I've conquered.  Staying focused is just so hard!

So 'fess up!!  What is your worse bad habit?! 

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Friday, March 3, 2023

Off the Wall Friday

I had a productive week of hand quilting...but that does NOT make for interesting blogging...with that in mind I'll spare you the details and just host!!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively Today?

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Friday, February 24, 2023

Woodcut Art & Quilting on Off the Wall Friday

Houses, Mabel Hewit, 1936


This week I went down the rabbit hole they call Pinterest,  only to rediscover my love of woodcut art. Woodcut is a relief printing process in which knives and other tools are used to carve a design into the surface of a wooden block. The raised areas that remain after the block has been cut are inked and printed, while the recessed areas that are cut away do not retain ink, and will remain blank in the final print.  It is a very positive/negative area kind of printing!  I always thought woodcut printing was interesting, but what really caught my eye was the depression-era artist, Mabel Hewit.    Her subject matter of the city and small-town life really resonated with me.

This week, I started studying it again.  What I noticed this time was the strong use of line.  Those lines could also be the inspiration for quilting or seams lines in piecing.   For instance, look at this piece...

Notice how much movement is achieved by changing the direction of lines.  As a quilter, you could do that with string piecing of different fabrics.  OR You can do it with the quilting line afterward.

Here is another example,

The radiating lines set up the composition easily.  I can see this being the inspiration for a series of quilts!

I especially love this one called Sun Bathers, by Leonard Beaumont, 1932.

The abstraction of bathers creates movement while they are actually standing still.  

Like I said, it becomes a study of negative and positive space!!  After looking at them this week, it's gotten me in the mood to start a piece inspired by them!

and I cannnnnnn since....wait for it.... I finished the second month of the Homeward Bound BOM!  The circles are hand appliqued with 100 wt Wonderfil Invsafil thread (mostly grey) and I use a Richard Hemming #10 sharp (mostly 'cause that is what I started with over 30 years ago and all other needles feel weird in my hands!)  The rest of the circles are part of next month's work!!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, February 17, 2023

Works in Progress on Off the Wall Friday

Really I have no idea where the week has gone!  I've been working all day and then stitching for a few hours every night.  One thing I can say is that being this productive really doesn't make for really interesting blogging!  (sorry!) So I thought  I would just show you the progress I've made on my three main projects!

Project I - Homeward Bound BOM  Quilt - Month 2

OMGoodness!!  How could it take me this long to hand applique these little suckers?!?  When I first started quilting (BT - before Tessa), I would do hand applique blocks in the evenings and just slowly work my way through them. Now I have a deadline though and I need to get them done by the end of February.  I'm over halfway through and little by little my circles are getting smoother.  It's all in the way you press them AND the way you hand applique them.  But I do like how it's coming and I was sooo right...changing the color palette sure gives the quilt a different mood!  You can see the original palette here!  And this is my palette - eggplant, turquoise, red-orange, yellow

Cool Right?!?

Project II - Big Stitch Quilting Rain, Rain  

Putting my quilting frame in the little den off the kitchen (also known as Tessa's den) was one of my

better ideas.  Whenever I have a little block of time, I sit down and get more quilting in.  Plus I put the old TV  in there and have been watching favorite shows as I quilt at night.  It's fun.  It's out of the way but not too out of the way so I feel isolated.  In the past, I would set it up in the family room and it always seemed in the way.  Now it has its own spot.  I mean why own a 14 room victorian if you can't give your quilting frame its own room right?  Anyways as you can see my big stitch quilting is really "In-between" quilting.  I've given up totally trying to retrain my stitches to a quarter inch and just let them go naturally a bit bigger with the choice of pearl cotton and a bigger needle.  It's fun to see how the line of quilting really has a big impact on the quilt. Now the quilt finally seems like it's raining!   Plus,  it's super satisfying when it's time to roll the quilt because I finished another whole line.

Project III - Dressing/Fabric Room

This really isn't my's Paul's. But GOSH!! What a difference!!  It makes me think why didn't we do this earlier.  He's so sweet though.  He includes me in the plans.  So when he started talking about how much the new shelving wood would cost, it was in the same conversation about how the big old church pew was in the way of his woodshop.  The pew came from his home church and they were going to throw it out so Paul rescued it.  I suggest upcycling it to become my new shelving.  The wood is so gorgeous, already finished, and of course heavy duty!  So that's what he did.  He cut up the pew and it's going to make the nicest shelving!  I love upcycling.  So we are getting closer and closer to putting everything back in.  (This dressing room sits in the once attic of my house - off the master bath that is up there.  It's accessed through stairs in my master bedroom)

The Before:

The So-Far!

 Yes, the Sayre's have been busy!!

(Linking with Slow Stitch Sunday since I'm doing so much stitching!)

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, February 10, 2023

Homeward Bound BOM Month 2 on Off the Wall Friday


Ya know, even though I don't put much belief in astrology, I can totally see myself fitting nicely under

the sign Gemini.  It's like two people living in my head.  This week it was totally pointed out to me...again.  For the last few years, I've been busy in my quilt studio designing original work and creating it with my Janome.  This month, I've become totally obsessed with the exact opposite.  I have two, yes count 'em two, pattern quilts going at once both mostly done by hand.  Well to be fair, Rain, Rain started out as a patterned quilt and grew into a scrap monstrosity.  Plus, I'm fully committed to the Quilt Show's Block of the Month quilt, Homeward bound.  

So what I learned this week....

FINALLY, I learned how to thread 8 pearl cotton into a #9 crewel embroidery needle.   After much experimentation, I've been using the method I learned from Spruce Crafts.  You pinch the thread between your pincher finger and thumb with just a bit of thread showing.  Then you lower the eye of the needle onto that little bit while you push up the thread.  It doesn't work 100% on the first time,

photo from Spruce Crafts but it shows exactly how I was able to do it.

but it's been working better than anything else has!  I don't know how people can thread their #8 Pearl cotton so easily but I've had a hard time.  I also decided that my favorite needle is Colonial

embroidery needle #9.  It's sharp and thin enough to hold about 3 rocking stitches but I can still thread the eye.  I've been quilting 1-2 hrs a night and I'm still on my first needle so that's saying something. 
I'm quite sure what I'm doing is not really considered big stitch quilting but it's not little either.  So I guess it's in between quilting.  I do like getting my needles from the Colonial site because they have a great selection to choose from! I don't know about you, but I've had a hard time finding good quality needles anymore in the stores! BOY!  I've really been enjoying being back at my frame.  I'm working my way through the Mentalist (again).  I think tonight Patrick will FINALLY get Red John. 

For my studio time, I've been working on the block of the month quilt which apparently is all hand applique.  I finally have mastered Sarah Fielke's method of making bias stems.

Then today I tackled making circles using templates and tin foil.  I don't think I've ever made real templates in my whole 30 years of being a quilter!  What I ended up doing was using Kay Buckley's perfect circles to make cardboard templates.  Then you trace the circle on the wrong side of the fabric and cut an approximate quarter inch around it.  

Then you make a tin fabric-cardboard template sandwich wrapped in tinfoil...and press.  

  Now when  Sarah does it they come out perfectly.  As you can see I am going to need a bit of practice. Actually, the last ones came out better than the first ones.   I think part of the reason is my cardboard templates are perfectly circular so I might have my husband try recutting them for me.  With something like 130 circles to go I should get in some practice!

The thing that is working is Wonderfil's 100 wt invisafil thread.  I've been using light and dark grey and it disappears into the fabric.  Plus it stitches up nicely without tangling.  LOVE IT!!

So the traditional side of this Gemini was hard at work this week....

What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

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