Living This Creative Life

I have two favorite quotes. The first one is by Emile Zola, "If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I would tell you that I came to live out loud". I don't know who the second one is by, but it goes like this, "If you're not living on the edge then you might as well jump". Both of these sentiments sum up my personal philosophy of this experience we call life on earth. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Block #71 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning Everyone,

It's back to work for me today after a lovely weekend. Tom and I drove through the mountains to Steamboat Springs then back on highway 14 along the Cache la Poudre river, through the most amazingly beautiful canyon. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday! But now, I must go to work and sell sewing machines. But first, here is a new stitch out.

I really like the way this all over Asterisks looks. It is a great fill, wonderful to use as falling snow or pine needles. We've used this design before, but not as an all over. The sizes are from just larger than a quarter to the size of a nickle.

Beginning near the middle of the block, stitch a straight line that is about 1/2" long then double back over it to the beginning. Stitch out another 1/2" at an angle that is different from the first line, then double back over to the beginning spot. Keep stitching 1/2" lines out from the center at varying angles until you have completed a circle. Stitch the last line out and away from the asterisk, far enough to begin a new one. Stitch it out just like you did the first one. Continue making asterisks of varying sizes, keeping them close to each other and leaving little background space.

Hope you enjoy this new design,

Till next time,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Block #70 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Sometimes - life is really good. It was my birthday this week and I got to spend a day off from work celebrating it with lots of my favorite people. Breakfast with my daughter Jaz, lunch and a spectacular hair color job with the delightful Miss Judy then dinner and fabulous gifts with Wanda and Chris - all the day before my birthday. I worked on my actual birthday (yesterday), but had an evening of tacos and margaritas with the hubby. Getting older - not old - isn't all that bad!

Here is another stitch out. It combines largish circles with asterisks in them with smaller circles. I call it Sand Dollars and Sea Foam (isn't that a silly name?) It's very fun to do and would look great in any plain areas of a quilt; large or small borders, setting triangles or blocks.

The sand dollars are made by stitching a circle, quarter sizeish, then when you complete the circle, stitch into the center, stopping at about the middle, then start stitching the asterisks shape by stitching out from the center then back in over the stitch line, then back out at a different angle then back in over that same stitch line etc. Once you have completed one sand dollar, stitch another large circle right next to it and complete another sand dollar. Keep making sand dollars, making sure they touch each other and varying the size a little bit. String them together in clusters across the surface of the block and stitch small circles in between as you go. Vary the size of the small circles from large peas to tiny beads. Try to keep very little negative space between all of the circles and sand dollars and make sure that all of the shapes are touching each other.

Hope you enjoy this design, now I'm off to teach the first installment of my new Design Essentials II class.

Till next time,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge, Block #69

Good Morning All,

Here is another stitch out. It is a combined design that is great for borders or plain areas of a quilt. It is very easy to do and looks rather modern and funky.

I worked the stitch from one side to the other. Begin by stitching a long wavy line from the bottom to the top of your block. This line should be an average of 1 1/2" away from the side edge. Now, stitch a second line that is about 1/2" away from the first. Next, stitch small circles that butt up next to each other inside the channel that you just formed with the two lines.

Once the circles are complete, stitch two more wavy lines, one just outside of each of the two original lines. Make them about 1/8" away. Now, stitch the straight, horizontal lines just to the left of your circles/wavy lines. Begin in the bottom corner and stitch up to the wavy line, over about 1/4" on the wavy line then back to the edge. Stitch over on the edge about 1/4" then back up to the wavy line. Keep stitching lines back and forth keeping them straight as possible and an even space apart.

Once the first section of horizontal lines is complete, stitch another vertical, circle unit that is just like the first one. Stitch it about 1 1/2" away from the first circle unit. Remember to add the lines just outside and 1/8" away from the two lines that form the channel for the circles. Once the second row of circles/wavy lines is complete, stitch the straight, horizontal lines between the rows of circles.

Continue stitching rows of vertical, circle/wavy line units with straight, horizontal stripes in between until you have filled your whole block.

This block is perfect for practicing both circles and straight lines. Hope you enjoy it,

Till next time,


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Making the Quilt for the Cover of my New Book; Color & Design; The basics and beyond

Good Morning All

This is the quilt that I will be using on the cover of my new book - or at least the beginning of the quilt (click on it to see it larger). I started with a piece of white fabric, basted with batting and a very colorful backing fabric.

Next, I stitched out the large sections using a heavy black thread and my walking foot. Then I chose a selection of 9 threads in different colors that are all just slightly lighter than the pure hue, except for the yellow and orange which are pure hued. Then I just started stitching. I chose stitch outs that have closed designs so that I can color inside of them.

I will now use various markers to color the whole thing in. In addition to several brands of fabric markers, I will use my new favorite markers; Promarkers by Letraset. These come in tons of colors, are very "juicy" and have a fine brush tip as well as a bevel tip. They aren't marketed as fabric markers, but I tested them with water (without heat setting) and they are permanent. They do "move" a bit, about 1/16" so, I stay about that far away from any boundary lines when I use them.

I'll show you the finished quilt once I have colored it in and beaded it - next week probably.

Hope you're having a great weekend,

Till next time,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Block #68 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Today's new stitch out is a half feather with stippling between. My feathers are about 4" long.
If it has been a while since you have stitched out a feather, you may want to doodle these for a while before taking your first stitches.

To make a half feather, begin near the center of your block and stitch a line that has a gentle curve in it, that is about 4" long and ends in a swirl. Stitch back out of the swirl and as soon as you have room to, begin stitching feather petals. These are shaped like half hearts. Stitch the petals all along the outer spine until you reach the tip. Now, stitch away from the feather to a space where you can stitch another one. Use stippling to travel with. Continue making half feathers, stippling from one to the next. Once you have stitched as many half feathers that you can , fill in the spaces in between with more stippling.

For greater contrast between the feather designs and the stippling, you could use one color of thread to stitch out each feather, knot off and travel to where you want the next feather. Then once all of the feathers are stitched, switch to a different color thread to stitch in the background.

Hope you enjoy today's new design,

I'll see you next week,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #67

Good Morning,
Here is today's new stitch out; Feathered Flowers with echo quilting.
If you think it looks difficult, then doodle it out first. You'll find out quickly that it is just a series of stitches that you probably all ready know.
Begin near the center of the block and make a swirl that is about 1" across. Swirl in then swirl back out again. Just as you finish the swirl stitch out a half heart that is snug against the outside of the swirl. This half heart is just like the motion used to make a feather. Stitch another half heart that snugs into the first one. Continue stitching half hearts all the way around the swirl completing your first flower and knotting off.
Travel to where you want your next feathered flower and stitch it out. Travel to where you want your third flower and stitch it out. Once the third flower is complete, begin echoing it and filling in the space between it and the other flowers then move to echoing the other two flowers. Keep the echoing stitch lines about 1/8" or 3/8" apart. Keep making small groups of flowers and echoing between them until the entire block is stitched out. Alternately, you could stitch out all of the flowers before you begin any of the echo stitching.
Hope you like this design. I think it's lovely and has loads of depth. It would be perfect for any large open spaces on a delicate quilt or in a border.
For those of you who have asked, I am now working at Rocky Mountain Sewing and Vacuum in Westminster. If you are considering a new machine, Bernina, Pfaff or Brother, come see me, we've got the best deals around (and, yes, I do get a commission and yes, you can take your machine usage classes at any of the Rocky Mountain shop locations).
Till the next time

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Block #66 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Evening,
Here is today's new stitch out. I call it Veiny Leaves. I had hoped you would be able to see in the close up that I used a variegated thread, but it's an Oliver Twist and the color change is so subtle that it is hard to see it unless it's life size.
Any way, this is a wonderful design to use in wide borders. The leaves are about 3" long and 2 - 2 1/2 " wide. The veins in the leaves are stitched about every 1/4-1/8". The background behind the leaves is stitched with a loop d'loop.
Begin near the center of the block and stitch a line that is about 4" long with a a curve in it. This is the stem and center vein of the first leaf. At the end of the line, begin stitching the first side of the leaf, stitching out and away from the vein and down toward the stem. Make this a gentle, wavy line and curve it out up to 1 1/2" away from the center vein at it's widest point. Bring the side line back in to the center vein about 3/4" away from the end of the stem. Stitch back down the stem then over at an angle about 1/8" then angle back up the stem back to where the opposite side of the leaf needs to begin. Sew the other side of the leaf so that it matches up with the shape of the first side. Once you are back up at the tip of the leaf begin stitching the veins down one side the up the next, then down that side and up the other. Keep stitching veins, making a 'V' shape with the point of the 'V' on the center vein. Keep the veins approximately 3/8" apart.
Once you have completed the first leaf, loop d'loop over to where you can stitch a second leaf. Stitch it so that it moves in a different direction from the first. Once the second leaf is complete, fill in any space between it and the first with loop d'loops as you position yourself to make a third leaf. Keep making leaves and traveling around them with loop d'loops until you have filled the block.
I really like this stitch out, especially with a variegated or multi-colored thread. Hope you like it too,
Till next time,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Block #65 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,

Boy, the best laid plans......Sorry for this break in momentum. I've been having machine problems.

But not to worry, I brought home a machine from work to play with ( I work at Rocky Mountain Sewing and Vacuum in Westminster), and not only did I get some blocks quilted, I also fell in LOVE. More on that below, now lets get to today's stitch out.

This is another design based on the gentle curve. Begin by dividing your square into four squares. Then divide each square in half, diagonally twice to yield four triangles per square. For best results, use a Hera marker for marking.

Beginning near the center of one of your squares, drop down the needle and stitch a small circle around the intersection of the diagonal lines. Make the circle about the size of a large pea. Once the circle is complete stitch over one direction or the other until your needle is lined up with one of the diagonal lines. Stitch a gentle curve on the outside of the line stopping about 1/4" from the end of the line then angle over to the line that divides the squares. Stitch 1/4" up that line then over 1/4" then begin your gentle curve back down the opposite side of the diagonal line. This maneuver creates a small square at the end of the petal. Once you hit the center circle, use it to stitch over to the next diagonal line and repeat the last several steps. Do this two more times until the first square is complete. Knot off and do the same steps to stitch out the remaining three squares. Once all four squares have been stitched then stitch a wavy line over the two lines marked to separate out the four squares.

Now, most of you who know me, know that I've been a die hard Bernina enthusiast for many years, but you also know that money and I aren't always close friends. So, this machine I brought home has a lot of the great features available on the more expensive Bernina's but for about $4000.00 less. Yes, I said $4000.00 less!

Anyway, the machine is a Brother Innov-is QC 1000 (who'd of thunk?). This model is a year or two old and the new model is basically the same but called the Laura Ashley 2000 edition ( it's got about 200 more built in stitches and some other cool add on's) So, anyway, this QC 1000 is an amazing machine. For anyone who all ready has free motion quilting skills the Bernina Stitch Regulator can be a bit of a bummer because you loose a lot of the control you're used to. This brother has two things that work together sort of like a stitch regulator, but one that you get to control. The machine has a sliding speed control (I call it a rabbit) with which you can set your speed - I like it at about 3/4 max. Then, if you don't plug in your foot control you can use the button for start and stop. Once you get your quilt in position and push the button, the machine sews at the speed you selected and you never have to worry about maintaining your speed while sewing - it's just one less thing to have to think about.

The stitch is wonderful with easy to perfect starts and stops. It is really easy to go from sewing mode to fee motion mode - just push a button. I didn't have to adjust my tension at all either. All this, and it comes with three different free motion feet, a walking foot, several other feet, a huge slide on table and more than 160 programed stitches - all for about $2,000.00 for the older model and $2,500.00 for the new one which has nearly 400 built in stitches.

I know I sound like a salesperson - but I'm just so impressed with this machine. I thought that I would have to save for the next year to be able to afford a new machine, but now I think I can get one this month! Woo hoo!

Another aside - I finished the first draft of my color and design book this weekend - it's off to the publisher along with the last of the quilts. Triple Woo Hoo!

See you soon,