Monday, February 27, 2012

Marking Pen Update

For all of you who commented on my last post, thank you. I'm sorry I have been unable to get individual reponses to you yet but I will.

For everyone else, if you haven't read the comments on the previous post, I'm providing this update.

1) The pens have, in some cases, on color, caused the color of the fabric to disappear also.
2) Even though you heat the pen dye off the fabric, there is the ever so faintest sheen where the line was. This is so miniscule it doesn't matter on my bed quilt however, I would really check twice on a test piece if I were to hang in a show or hang elsewhere, just to be safe.

Which brings me to my next point. As always, before you mark the crap out of your hardwork, take some of those leftover scraps andTEST each time.  I thought that might go without saying but then, I wouldn't have thought of testing myself if it weren't for using a different method of heating the pen from the initial post I saw it on.

The pens are so inexpensive, though, that it's worth giving it a shot.  And just to keep you incented, here's some photos of my first row of quilting after using this pen to mark it.  I'm  still pleased as punch and wish I had more hours in the day.

Okay, and another feather shot b/c I free-handed these and think I rock! (Well, for a first-ish time with feather-like quilting, anyway.)


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm doing my part to expose a very big secret - Pilot Frixion Pens

Are any of you readers like me and hate, absolutely hate, using the chalks (all varieties and colors) and even all the different pens and pencils out there for us quilters/sewers to draw on our fabric with? Whether it be for a quilting motif or a applique placement marking?

If you haven't tried any of these yet or if you have and don't mind using them, let me explain why I hate them and why I've begun feeling frustrated at my quilting frame.

Why I hate:
1) Some don't write well.
2) Some don't come off well and I hate rubbing with a damp cloth over quilting stitches!

Why am I starting to feel frustrated at my frame?
I'm not a good artist. I draw stick figures and my sense of spacing and design have not yet improved enough to free-hand/free-mind quilting motifs into all my quilts.

I read Green Fairy Quilts, blog and I am jealous.  Flat out, green-eyed monster, jealous of her creativity the designs she not only comes up with but executes.  I love her work and found myself thinking, "I should send a quilt out to get quilted like that one day." Of course, I immediately could not justify the expense b/c it would be a quilt for me, and not a show or anything and don't I have a 17" throated machine named Midge sitting on Mr. Sumo the frame?  Why yes, yes I do.  Then I sat down to figure out why I was so jealous. I realized it was because I felt I didn't have the freedom to set up designs like she sometimes does, meaning, I didn't think I had the patience or desire to do custom quilting.  I felt it was a chore to draw the designs before I quilted and get them off.  The alternative is to quilt over designs printed on paper and tear away the paper (lots of work). I suppose I could also use water soluable stabilizer but that would get expensive, don't you think?

Then I was reminded by the Man up in the sky, that when one sits down to get rid of an ugliness (like jealousy) in oneself, good things come.  I opened up a blog post the next day by Susan at Quixotic Crafter. She commented on tessting out a pen (a pen you can buy at Staples, Target, and probably even Wally World, too) for her applique marking.  She wrote on the fabric and then, with her embossing gun, applied heat. The ink disappeared. As she mentioned (and I later read on the box), it won't reappear unless the quilt is exposed to 14 degrees or less temperatures.  No kidding!!!!
That's the secret, folks. This WORKS!!!! I'm so ecstatic.  Really, I'm beyond ecstatic.  I need to send Susan wine, or chocolate, or fabric for sharing this.  I need to send the person who figured it out something good!  And, Pilot, the manufacturer, are you reading? You should be marketing yourself in the quilting community!  Holy extra profit, batman.
 These are erasable pens and Pilot's niche is the ink is developed so the heat from the friction of the eraser on the paper, removes (erases) the ink from the paper. Obviously, some clever crafter somewhere thought to try this on fabric and use an iron or a dryer.  (At least, Susan's post says you can use an iron for heat but I haven't tried it.)

I tested it on scrap fabric (blue, red and black ink) with a blow dryer on the high setting.  Worked like a charm.  So, I started marking up my Double Wedding Ring. 

Then I quilted and then I erased.
Of course, then I remembered I loved you and I know I like it when I see something in action so I showed you the simplicity of this all.  Similar videos but in the second, I count out the 4 seconds it took to get rid of the ink.

What do you think? Are you adding these pens to your shopping list now? I'm seriously thinking of stocking up on more than the initial 3 I bought.

This solution is great because it enables me to see what a block will look like "all done" and whether I like it. In this instances, I felt the center of the ring didn't have enough quilting so I added more of a design to it. 

In the wedges, I tried out several designs and erased all until I got to the feathers and liked them.  I love these pens! 
Hope you try them out, too and let me know your thoughts.

Oh, and by the way, I am not jealous of anyone anymore. I found my block and have a solution. I am not as good of a quilter as she is, nope, but it doesn't bother me in the least. I am so stinking happy to be able to move to my own next quilting level, that's really all that ever mattered.   We forget, too often, that it's the journey that is so rewarding.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Last Swoon blocks. Here's a taste of the top.

I've completed the last of the Swoon blocks and the pinwheels I will use for the border.

Chain piecing pinwheel blocks.

I don't know if this is the exact layout I'll put them in (except the center block), the pinwheels will have white between them and have them around the top as 3 borders (keeping the top clear of any extra border), and there will be white sashing in between each block but what do you think?
An indoor, at night photo doesn't do the colors justice but I think there is just the right mix of contrast and softness with the calico prints.  I think I'm becoming a fan of calicos...  many years of turning my nose up  at them as a teenager when my mom collected them and look at me now.  Perhaps mom had better taste than I gave her credit for. -wink-

Have a good one, y'all!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Valentine's Quilt

 I'm still trying to figure out what to give hubs for Valentine's day. I have a card but gee, i'd like to do something nice for him. The problem is, I'm completely blank. I thought we would do what we usually did which is nothing or hubs would send mixed color roses. He ended up sending 2 dozen red roses (arrived yesterday) and chocolate covered strawberries which will probably arrive today. (I know this b/c they sent me an email on Sat. telling me my orders were confirmed. oops)

Hmm, maybe I'll make the chicken he likes for dinner and do a special chocolate dessert.

What are your Valentine's Day plans?

I succeeded in finishing my Valentine's quilt and had it hung on the wall before our Sat. dinner with friends and family. My mid-arm Midge was loaded with the DWR quilt so I had to baste and quilt this hanging on the domestic machine.   I succeeded in reminding myself why I bought Midge. I hate basting.
I tried to forego basting the tablerunner I created using extra strips. That was a bad idea.  Needless to say, the tablerunner did not make it to the table.  I'll fix it later and use it next year, though.

Anyway, here's the wall hanging. I went with both colors for the hearts.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Madwoman in da house!

Yep, that's me. I'm a madwoman and I'm in da house. Ya  got somethin' to say about that?
I thought not.

I put the Swoon blocks on hold for the moment and I'm working madly to finish a wall hanging for Valentine's Day.

You may wonder why but the simple truth is, I now have a wall to hang seasonal quilts on (think medium size, 50"x50") and I promised myself when we finally settled on a home, I would do this.  Well, I started with the Christmas season and that is definately over.  The hanging I currently have on the wall is seasonal, as in winter, but since we haven't had much of a winter, it's making it feel like a Christmas quilt instead.  Do you remember this one?
I decided I should have a Valentine's Day quilt. After all, I had a jellyroll of the L'Amour line by Sandy Gervaise and I certainly should use it.
I had seen a strip quilt done that made me think I could make a super fast quilt with minimal cutting and measuring so I set off on the internet to find a pattern.

I love the internet.

I did find what I was looking for. This tutorial from Katie's Quilting Corner is great and yes, it was super easy and quick to do. The top came together in a matter of an hour of sewing + another 30 min. trimming & ironing. Total.
Strips being sewn.

I did leave out 10 strips of the roll and because of that, I think there were some closer repeats in the strips than there would have been. Also, I added the two large side borders to get the top to the width I wanted. I am really glad I did this. I like the look.
Last order of business before batting and quilting, to applique hearts onto the top. What do you think, the pink or the red w/white hearts? Or mayber a solid red?  Hmm... 
What are you working on?


Monday, February 6, 2012

Do your mistakes dictate your quilting design?

One of the Made in Cherry QAL top I'm working on is complete. The original plan was to work 2 of these tops simultaneously and donate them to Quilts of Valor. I cut the colored squares both at the same time but started sewing only one first and I am GLAD I did.

The squares and triangle points went together quickly and easily. 

Then I cut the background fabric for both but only sewed one. I followed the instructions but I still had problems. I don't know if it's my cutting (likely), sewing, or the background size (I am doing the 60x60 versions).  More than likely, I did something wrong. So I had to get creative.

When I lined up the pieces, I had excess in the middle where the triangle was supposed to meet at a nice point.  Instead, you see where there is a big gap.
 I decided to let the points get sewn off on the white triangle and then iron the excess white fabric down. Here's what I mean.
 I unstitched a little on the points.
 Then I refolded where they all meet to lay them flat & sewed it down.

 This is the fold sewn without pressing.
 Another view, prior to pressing. It's a big looking bubble of fabric so I have to ask do you think I was lazy to leave this in? I think yes but then again, I also think it doesn't matter for this design wtih the exception of that point being removed.  The good thing, that point is removed all the way around so I'm pretending it is supposed to be that way. :)
 Press the folds right over the colored fabrics.
Here's what it looks like once pressed and why you can see if I quilt it so that edge stays down, it will be just fine. So once again, it looks like my quilting is to be deteremined by my screw up on the piecing. One day, I won't need to do this.

Lastly, since I want to donate this as a QOV, I needed to make it slightly longer so I added a strip of extra squares and some more background fabric.  It's definately large enough now and come quilting time, I will quilt that white background down tight. 

As for the second top, I'm not sure if I'll work another star with all the cuts, re-checking the measurements of my background fabrics or if I'll choose another scrappy pattern and just go from there.  Maybe stripes of background and pieced squares or maybe a disappearing nine-patch.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

More swoon blocks

Swoon blocks 5, 6 and 7 for your viewing pleasure.  Block 7 gave me royal fits. I pieced, ripped, pieced, ripped and pieced ripped!  Here's hoping 8 & 9 are more pleasant to get through.

Do you see the mistake in this block #6? I messed up the center and since I did not want to rip it and re-sew, I've decided that this will be my center block for the 9 block pattern. 1 different center. (Shh, it will look like I did it on purpose.)
On a side note, there is wasted triangles when creating the flying geese pieces so I'm turning them into pinwheel blocks and I plan to use them as a border. This will help make it a large quilt for drapping a queen bed or a king bed.