Showing posts with label Mistakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mistakes. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Free Motion Chicken No More

I know I've been neglecting my blog lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing. I'm on a bit of a deadline with some custom orders that I can't show right now, so my AMH dress is halfway finished, as is a quilt I intended to enter into a couple quilt shows. I missed the entry deadline for one and am a couple days out on the deadline for the second, so I don't know if I'll finish in time. But before I got swamped I am happy to admit that I jumped a major hurdle in my quilting: I started to try free motion! DISCLAIMER: This post contains many pictures of my many mistakes. Nobody's perfect and we're always learning, right?



The first quilt I've EVER free motion quilted.

Yes, you heard me correctly. After taking Elizabeth's class at QuiltCon, I took the plunge at home and started trying to free motion a few quilts. They are FAR from perfect, but I think it's important to share the imperfections. I've been catching up on some charity quilts and decided these were the best projects to start honing my free motion skills. 




Not only am I finding free motion quilting to be fun, it's also fast. I can quilt an entire sandwich in much less time than straight lining it. That said, there is a definite learning curve and it's frustrating at times. But it's helping me get over my perfectionist attitude and I keep reminding myself that all my mistakes will come out in the wash. Quite literally. That's the great thing about quilting. So many of those little imperfections disappear when the quilt comes out of it's first wash all crinkly and cuddly. 




The second quilt I free motion quilted. See, it's slowly getting better.
So don't judge. And don't be afraid. You can see all of my many, many, many mistakes right here. I'm not embarrassed to show you. Free motion is a lesson in learning to let go. And with each quilt, I am getting in the to rhythm of free motion a little bit more. And I'm making mistakes a little bit less. I'm still backing myself into corners, and fumbling with uneven stitch length, but I'm learning and growing. I'm not going to give up on straight lining, oh no. That's still my favorite aesthetic, but I'm going to continue to hone my free motion skills. Expect to see a lot more around here in the near future.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

QuiltCon Day Three Recap

The third day of QuiltCon was just as great as the first two. It was the morning after the 80s Dance Party and there was still residual Eighties paraphernalia lingering about. But today, I had a full-day workshop on Free Motion Quilting on you Home Machine with Elizabeth Hartman. If you know me at all, you probably know that I am a total chicken when it comes to free motion. Yes, I really love the aesthetic that straight-line stitching lends to quilts, but it's not always right for every project. And I am not ashamed to admit that it scares the living daylights out of me. As I mentioned before, I am not confident in my drawing skills and what is free motion if not drawing on quilts with thread. 
Goofing around on the walk to the Convention Center.

I had debated between taking Elizabeth's class and Angela Walters long arm class and at one point considered taking both. But ultimately I decided to try to crawl before I could walk. Plus, I am far more likely to use these skills on my machine at home than rent a long arm right now. I was excited and nervous walking into class. but I loved Elizabeth's teaching style and before long we were working on our own practice quilt sandwiches learning a variety of stitches, starting with stippling. Wanna know the best part? We all got to practice our sewing on brand new Janome Horizon machines!


My friend Jamie happens to be the fastest stippler in the west and I have always admired her skill but I have struggled with the curves. Well, okay, I've only tried free-motion twice before and probably only for two minutes each time before ducking right back into my comfort zone. I realize I can't hone my skills if I don't practice them so this class was the perfect way to force me to do so.


I had two big struggles. First, drawing myself into a corner that I couldn't get out without crossing. And secondly, the occasional sharp point would rear its ugly head. But after a bit I started to ease into it and feel a *little* more comfortable. Elizabeth would circulate the room giving each of us individual attention, support and guidance. It was great having her look over my shoulder and give me pointers along the way.


Occasionally Elizabeth would return to the front of the room and teach us a new design. First we started with the more curvy designs that were natural progressions off of basic stippling. While I was still getting backed into corners and would get a little scared I slowly started to feel more comfortable with some design and more frustrated with others. But then we started the more angular design. 


I'm a straight-line quilter so I thought that the more angular designs would be right up my alley. Boy, was I wrong. I struggled even more with the angular designs and my frustration built. Elizabeth actually come over and told me (and I know I wasn't the only one in class) to go and have a glass of wine at lunch. And she was dead serious. So I met Liberty and Nicole for lunch and had a beer-rita. 

The gorgeous Liberty and our beer-ritas.
Over lunch Liberty gave me a little pep talk to help ease my anxiety. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and tend to be my own worst enemy and during class I was the only one getting into my own way. One of the lessons I learn and re-learn constantly in quilting is to find beauty in the imperfections but I was struggling today. I am so thankful to have such amazing, supportive friends to help give me the kick in the pants I need to try and leave the perfectionist behind and let go. 


After lunch we practiced a little more before Elizabeth handed out fabrics for us to make design sample books. But as soon as I started on my first one I got frustrated again. She suggested that  move back to working on a larger quilt sandwich and practice more because it was easier to work on a larger project than a smaller one. So I made a new large quilt sandwich and continued to practice.


Ultimately I learned a lot from the class. And I am more confident that I was about my free motion skills. It just all comes down to practice, practice, practice. And then more practice. But at least now I am at least confident enough to start attempting free motion quilting on some of my charity quilts to try and master my skills. I'm going to start with stippling and work my way up.


After class, Liberty and I skipped Denyse Schmidt's key note lecture, and took advantage of the nearly empty vendor floor. It was the perfect opportunity for me to get a picture in front of my quilt. I felt weird doing it with people around. In fact, whenever I would walk through the quilt show I would hide my name tag so people couldn't identify me. 

My beautiful friend Jamie in front of the famous Austin "I Love You" graffiti.
A couple of us LAMQG ladies decided to explore South Congress for dinner so Liberty, Liz, Jenny, Jamie and I headed out there and started with drinks at Jenny's hotel where we met up with some of the hardworking QuiltCon organizers. Then we went out for pizza and it was so worth the wait. I have to say, one of the greatest things that happened at QuiltCon was just getting to know some of my guild friends even better. I felt like I really got to know my girlfriends on a deeper level and it was wonderful. Just little things like that made the whole weekend worth it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Marathon Quilt: Month Nine


It's a couple days late, but I promised a nine month check in on the Marathon Quilt. (I almost could have had a baby in the amount of time I've already put into this quilt!) I was traveling a lot for work in January, so that meant a lot of time on airplanes with time to hand sew. And I got a lot done, but I was a complete idiot when I was laying out pieces so the work I accomplished didn't necessarily help me properly this month. 


I've been laying out pieces for my rings and then stringing them together in order so I can just work semi-brainlessly when I'm traveling. Well, you know me and my blonde moments. I do have them quite often it seems. In my haste, as I was laying out the pieces for the next five blocks I ended up laying out extra in between rows. I didn't notice my error until I was almost all the way finished with them, so when I started piecing them with the centers I started to notice that my rings weren't flowing right. I know, it's scrappy so it shouldn't bother me, but it does. I was able to fudge a couple of them, and I know I'll be the only one who will ever notice the inconsistencies, but ugh! So I have a few leftover rounds that I know will find homes later, but I just couldn't bring myself to pick them a part. Instead, I just made new ones. 


So, there are more homeless pieces this month. After that pile had dwindled to almost nothing. But I'm excited that I have pretty much used all of the little ring pieces that I pre-pieced so long ago. Now, I'm working from scraps and enjoying the basting in between the sewing. And I did get five new blocks pieced... almost. Even though they're not joined to the main body of the quilt yet. This little project keeps growing every month. I'm not anticipating much growth this month, though you may see me working on it a bit at QuiltCon. Less than two weeks away! I am so excited!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Foot Failure


So I bought myself a walking foot with a 1/4" guide for Hepburn. I didn't even know these things existed, but at our LAMQG Retreat this Fall, Latifah introduced me to this little magical wonder. She pieces with her walking foot and mentioned that it helps especially sewing over some of those bulky seams, which makes sense. Then she showed me this little beauty. I knew I must have it. 


I tried to find it online (not terribly hard, but hard enough) and had some trouble finding one. Then, one day while I was working in Tennessee I noticed a little sewing machine shop down the road, that happened to be a certified Janome dealer. I stopped in on my lunch break to ask if they carried the foot. They said they did, and I got excited, but then had a heap of trouble finding it. Sadly, I thanked them for trying and told them where I was working for the day just in case they were able to find one. Half an hour later they came looking for me. They had the foot! They were so friendly and helpful. If you're ever in Murfreesboro, TN be sure to stop by Absolutely Fun Sewing and Embroidery.


I decided to take it for a test run on some of my (past-due) bee blocks. Caitlin had asked us to make Scrap Buster Blocks from Little Miss Shabby's tutorials. Her request was that we use black, white and gray scraps for the 1.5" squares and a bright solid like an orange or pink for the strips. 


Piecing was going really well. I seemed to be moving right along making the 1.5" square rows and then I started to put the block together. My scrappy rows were consistently too short. I measured them up against the foot guide and it seemed fine. I didn't have the stamina to start all over again so I decided to try and solve the problem rather than "scrap" it. I cut the solid strips wider than in the tutorial and that seemed to help. Then I realized the problem. My needle isn't matching up with the guideline on my new walking foot!


Ugh. I just assumed that it would automatically be aligned. Well, you know what happens when you assume? You screw up your scrap buster blocks! Ugh! I think I was able to salvage the blocks without starting completely from scratch. I had a few extra 1.5" squares left over from cutting, so I ended up adding extra squares to each scrappy row. That, paired with the wider solid strips helped me to save the blocks. They're now just a scant bi shy of 12.5" square, so I think Caitlin will still be able to work with them. But sigh. These are definitely not my best work.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy Little Pouch Hop

Good Morning everyone! First of all I just wanted to thank Elaine and Emily for inviting me to participate in the Happy Little Pouch Blog Hop. Don't you just love a little bag? I'm not really a purse person in my everyday life, but I adore little pouches and bags of all sizes, especially for storage and travel purposes. And I travel a lot. Recently I decided to test out one of Ayumi's patterns for her little fabric basket and I was instantly addicted. These baskets make a great addition to any swap gift you might be cooking up.


Her pattern is super easy to follow and the basket comes together very quickly. There are also a bunch of modifications you can make to personalize it and make it your own. I made another one of these for a friend (and I forgot to take pictures, ugh!) using Echino. I didn't want to cut up the print so I just cut two 9.5" x 3.5" strips instead of making the patchwork square strips.



Another way to easily personalize these baskets is by using a decorative stitch instead of an edge stitch around the top of the basket like I did here. 


Just make sure you're lining is lying flat when you edge stitch our you could get a pucker like I did. (Boo!)


Although Ayumi's pattern is for small baskets (perfect to hold a few fat quarters or your collection of buttons) it's easy to modify her pattern to make larger baskets. And these come together so quickly and easily that I think I'll be whipping out many, many more of them in the near future.

Want to see more Happy Little Pouches? Check out the rest of the Blog Hop Participants:

Monday 11/26: Emily from Mommy's Naptime and Elaine from Dashasel Sews
Tuesday, 11/27: Courtney from Mon Petit Lyons and Lucy from Charm About You
Wednesday, 11/28: Hollie from Undercover Crafter and Katie from Katie's Korner
Thursday, 11/29: Lindsay from Lindsay Sews and Michelle from I Like Orange
Friday, 11/30: Sara from Sew Sweetness, Cindy from Adventures of the Singing Quilter, and Jennifer from Ellison Lane Quilts

Monday, 12/3: Holly from Bijou Lovely and Heidi from Fabric Mutt
Tuedsay, 12/4: Elizabeth from Don't Call Me Bets and Emily from Mle BB
Wednesday, 12/5: Shruti from 13 Woodhouse Road and Liz from Dandelion Daydreams
Thursday, 12/6: Beth from Plum and June and Kaelin from The Plaid Scottie
Friday, 12/7: Emily from Mommy's Naptime and Elaine from Dashasel Sews

Thank you for stopping by! And please join us in the fun and share your pouchy makes in our Flickr group. The Flickr group is also where you can upload your pouchy makes, and at the end of each week we will have some great prizes to award!

Prizes have generously been donated by:


Monday, November 5, 2012

Celebrate Good Stitches

I've been hosting the Hope Circle for do. Good Stitches for over two years now. And while I have fallen behind on quilts in the past, I never fell behind on blocks until September when my work trip screwed everything up. So I was frantic to catch up on blocks for Suzy last week. She asked for Herringbone blocks using Holly's tutorial, but she wanted us to send the halves separate, so four half blocks instead of two 12.5" finished blocks. 


Things were going along just fine until I realized that I didn't read the tutorial all the way through before starting and I got ahead of myself and realized that I made all four halves going in the same direction. Ugh. Well, as it turns out, we unfortunately lost a Stitcher. I thought she had made her blocks for Suzy and I was just going to pick up her blocks for October while I tried to (successfully, I might add) woo Natalie back into the bee. (Doing the Happy Dance!) Then I discovered that she was unable to complete September as well so my unfortunate mistake turned into a happy accident. I made four more halves in the opposite direction and sent all four blocks off to Suzy. 



I simply adore the color scheme she requested we use for this quilt. Suzy wanted us to work in blues and grays with one red or orange strip in each half. It doesn't hurt that these are favorite colors of mine and I am currently obsessed with the herringbone pattern. You'll be seeing more of this pattern and, coincidentally, color scheme again very soon. I am already swooning over this quilt. 



And if you haven't heard yet, Rachel is planning a fabulous end of the year celebration for do. Good Stitches, But you don't have to be a member of the bee to participate in the fun! Just complete one quilt for a charity of your choosing and you can be entered to win some fabulous prizes. Hop on over to her blog for more details and to join in the fun!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fixing A Piecing Error

I remember the first time I ever paper pieced a block. I was so completely intimidated. And soon that intimidation turned to frustration as I tried to fit the scraps at just the right angle so it covered all the surface area necessary and then some for the seam allowances. By the end of that first block I had developed a love / hate relationship with paper piecing. I adore the precision that you get with paper piecing, but it can be a very annoying process. But what happens when you still make a mistake? Some can be fixed without ripping out your entire block. 

Can you see my mistake?
I've been paper piecing a lot in the Bee A Lone Star(burst) Bee. I have to make four, very time consuming blocks a month in the bee. And, quite honestly, there hasn't been one month when I haven't had to, at least, rip a few stitches out. But recently I had quite a little freak out over a mistake, that ultimately, I was able to fix. I got to the end of a block section and realized there was a hole in the block. Yes, sometimes that means you need to start over but, with a little bit of creativity I was actually able to save the block. While preparing to build the block, I saw that the tip of my star center wasn't adequately covered. Once I calmed down I saw that the gap was small enough that I might be able to repair it and the mistake would easily disappear in the big picture. This is something I think translates to lots of different types of piecing mistakes, not just in paper piecing. Always remember that eventually there will be another 1/4" same there, so it gives you some room to play. 

How about now? I'll give you a clue - look in the center of the star.
I reached into my scrap bin and pulled out a coordinating piece of fabric, trying to line up the design as much as possible, keeping in mind there would be a 1/4" seam as I lined up the pattern. I gently folded back the paper foundation and stitched a 1/4" seam, then ironed and trimmed. Yes, it resulted with a tiny seam in the center, but once stitched together with the rest of the pieces to make the entire block, it virtually disappeared. 


Well, I'll admit this happened on two pieces and the other one was only slightly more significant so the seam is a little more prevalent in the finished block BUT remember (and this is hard for the perfectionist in me) once you quilt it and wash it, I guarantee you it will disappear completely. Moral of the story: All is Never lost. Be creative and don't be afraid to try and fix your mistakes. And for those of you who get as frustrated over paper piecing as I sometimes do, here are a couple more tips I hope might help ease your anxiety...


Tip #1: Use large scraps, larger than you think you need. Yes, this creates more waste but it eventually outweighs the headache for me. Larger pieces are more forgiving, especially when you're piecing odd angles in the reverse. 

Tip #2: Always check your points and second seams before moving onto the next piece. For instance, when I'm piecing these stars, the first seam runs shorter than the second, so I always make sure that there is enough fabric to cover the entirely of the second seam when I fold the fabric over the correct way, otherwise paper will end up peeking though my points and my seams will be so scant that the block could start to fall apart first time through the wash. I check when I'm laying the new piece in, and then I double check after I sew. It's much easier to rip the stitches and move the fabric piece immediately than later on in the process.

Tip #3: This might be unpopular with some, but I do a little back stitch when I get to the points in the middle of the block. This isn't so necessary on the side seams as those will be secures later when you piece the block together or into your quilt top. But in the middle of the block I find a little reinforcement helps. Yes, it does create a little bulk  but if you're using paper for your foundation thicker than tissue (I use plain copier paper because that's what I have at my disposal right now) then it can be a little difficult to pull off once your done. That reinforcement at the internal ends of your seams does help strengthen those seams.