Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Square Peg, Round Hole, part 1

At the late-September meeting of our quilt guild, we drew 3 crayons from paper bags which were to determine the colors for our quilt. As luck would have it, I was going with the Memphis Sewing Guild on a day-trip to Paducah in mid-October! I took my crayons along and scoured the isles of Hancock's of Paducah for any fabrics that matched my crayon colors. I scored big! I wasn't sure what I would make yet, but I had the fabrics!

Then, at the next few meetings, the rules were clarified a little...we were NOT to use lighter or darker values of our crayon...this was about saturation. There was some leeway as to, if we drew a red crayon, we could use orange-reds and bluer reds, but not pink or maroon. Don't go lighter or darker...try to match. Hmmmm.... The stripes were ruled out, as they had large amounts of the lighter value. Rats! Actually, I was worried that MANY of my fabrics would be deemed unacceptable!

I had already begun thinking I would do an expanding checkerboard design, but when I realized my fabric choices were growing smaller, I decided to try other designs.

I considered doing a play on boxes...and this is where the original 'peg' was born.

But this design really didn't trip my trigger! It was as if I was married to the idea of the expanding checkerboard...I couldn't fall in love with anything else! So I picked out SOME of the fabrics that I thought would pass and went back to the idea I liked best!

But I DID like the 3-D element I had created for the 'box' quilt.... the 'peg', or 'nipple' as we like to call it around here! ;) The expanding checkerboard would need a center circle, so I decided I could still use this 'box' idea, but make it circular instead!

Also, I made that first box (above) 1" tall and deep and wide. One inch is the maximum amount any embellishment can protrude from the quilt suface. I was afraid that the box might bulge a little after stuffing, so I reduced the size of the next one to 3/4" high by 3/4" deep by 3/4" wide. This way, even if it bulges a little, it will still be within limits.

To create the box pattern, I used the CAD portion of my pattern-drafting software (the Pattern Editor of Patternmaster Boutique). But any cad program would work...turbo cad, whatever.

I first drew the overall square to the size I wanted, then placed the 1" box in the middle. Then I made it 3-D and added seam allowances.

Below, you see the start of the square one, but the finished pattern is the round one...only the outer shape is different.
I fused interfacing to the back of my fabric and cut these pieces out. After sewing, pressing, and clipping the corners, the inside looked like this:

I didn't want this little box to collapse or become misshapened once it leaves my hands, so I needed to find a way to stuff it securely. My friend, Linda Wilson, suggested I use felt. Perfect! I cut 3/4" x 3/4" squares of acrylic felt and ran a needle with thread through them several times until they were stable.

I stuffed the felt stack into the box and grabbed 3 layers of batting...I wanted this area to be a little fuller than the rest of the quilt. I stipple-quilted this area on my sewing machine, getting as close to the nipple as I could (yes, by now I was calling it a nipple!).

When I was finished, I trimmed the batting around the edges, then began turning under the outer edges so I could applique this onto the quilt. Well, duh, it is way too thick around the edges! What was I thinking, using 3 layers of cotton batting and taking them all the way out? I had to start over!
So I cut new nipple pieces and new felt squares and batting...and put together another nipple. But this time, I used only 2 layers of was smaller than the other, and the larger one was stopped about 1" from the outside edge. When I quilted it, I stopped the stippling where the batting stopped.

Below, you can see my nipple collection! The original square one, the newest one with pins, plus the too-thick one, which, BTW, makes a great Frisbee! That sucker will fly across the room better (and more level!) than any plastic Frisbee I have!

Before I sewed the new nipple to the quilt, I added the ring with the bead. I used a monofilament dental-floss threader and ran it through the golden earring (with the ear wire removed) and used it like a needle-threader: I put thread through the loop then pulled the thread through the ring. Then I put sewing needles onto the ends of the thread that was sticking out each end of the ring, and pierced the nipple, stitching through the felt stack and tying the threads securely on the back.
Now the new-and-improved nipple was pinned onto the center of the expanding checkerboard and I stippled around the outer 1" to secure it.

But there was a visible ridge at the edge of the batting that bothered me. I needed to soften that French knots it is! I did a series of knots around the outer part of the batting area.
This is looking more and more 'anatomically correct'! My DD calls the French knots the 'no-slip grips'...a term that was new to me, but I liked it!

More later, so check back!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Square Peg, Round Hole

Today is the day...the challenge quilts were presented and voted on, to decide WHICH 8 quilts would represent our guild at the AQS Ultimate Guild Challenge in Knoxville. And once again, my quilt was chosen! Yea!!!

I even won a prize for Viewer's Choice:
this lovely crayon toothbrush set! :)

As you may remember, we blindly chose 3 crayons, which would determine the colors for our quilt. We could also use black, plus the complementary color of any ONE of our crayons, for a total of 5 colors.

My crayon colors were:

Goldenrod (light)

Tumbleweed (medium)

Indigo (dark)

As a complement, I chose Purple.

I decided on an expanding checkerboard design, with a twist.

This is my challenge quilt, 'Square Peg, Round Hole'.

Yes, that is a broom handle and duct tape loops that are holding it up!

Ok, so maybe quilt display is not my best skill...

The challenge rules stated that the quilt HAD to have at least one bead or button as embellishment.

So I put a single bead on a gold ring.

And I put this gold ring through my square peg.

To add a bit of texture, I also did a series of French knots around the outer area of the 'round hole'.

I couched on some sparkly black thread over all the seams.

I'll go into more detail in my next post, and show you how I made this quilt.

Jeanie Velarde made the participation ribbons...isn't this cute?

Friday, February 18, 2011

The next big thing...

OK, maybe that is not really the best way to describe my clothing!

But, yeah, I am once again working on a GARMENT! Yay!
It has been a while since I worked on any clothing, as my time has been spent on other fiber projects. But my 'challenge' quilt is finished now; I have LOTS of fabric for garments, and my wardrobe is sorely in need!

I drafted my pattern using my PMB software, then decided I would TRY the banner printing feature.

Back when I was using Windows XP and earlier OS, I always printed my patterns 'banner style'...long strips of fan-fold paper than were then taped or glued side-by-side to create a full-size pattern.

But with the acquisition of Vista, my ability to print 'banner style' disappeared, even though I was using the same printer as before.

I have been using Windows7 for a while now and hadn't even thought to look for the banner ability, but recently discovered it WAS once again listed on my printer's settings. So I decided to give it a try.

At first, I was thrilled!!! The pattern was printing just as it should! I was so excited I grabbed the camera! :)

But then it began skipping would print registration marks and skip 2 inches, then print new registration marks and continue the pattern lines. What the...?

Sometimes it just omitted the vertical lines altogether.
Sometimes it printed the top half of a waist dart, but not the bottom half.

Then I ran out of ink.

Are you believing this? Apparently, my plan to print, cut and sew a blouse to wear the following evening was a pipe dream! sigh.

A new ink cartridge was the easy fix for one issue, but still, the banner-style print option refused to play fair! It printed a column of 3 pages for the right side of a sleeve just fine...but then totally screwed up the column of pages for the left side of the sleeve...printed part of the slleve cap, then skipped a page and a half before making a few diagonal lines!

In the end, I went back to printing individual pages for the sleeve, so I could tape them together and just move on. Eventually I may investigate this further, but my goal was to SEW...not troubleshoot the printer.

That was yesterday.

Today, I have cut-out the fronts and backs and am in the process of sewing the darts.

As you can see here, I hand-basted a dark thread across the waistline, so I can evaluate the F-B balance of the pattern without actually drawing lines on this.

I suspect that the level of the bust will need to be changed, because I made some changes to the neck/shoulder area...I am using V5 now, and this is my first garment with this version.

Previous to this one, I was using V4.

Wild Ginger made a few changes to the draft in this new version, and those changes primarily affect the neck and shoulder area.

In order to draft a pattern where the front and back NECK WIDTHS are equal, one must have nearly identical shoulder angles on the front and back patterns. That has not been the case with former versions, and was not usually the case with my patterns, as I have forward shoulders and erect head carriage...which means my shoulder point is more forward on my body than my neck/shoulder point.

But for V5 to work, I have to move the neck/shoulder point more forward, to keep it in balance with the shoulder point.

The bust level is measured from the neck/shoulder point.

Moving that nk/shp forward on my body means the distance to bust level will be different than it was before, when measured to a more-posteriorly located landmark.

So I am about to BASTE those front darts so I can try this on, and see just how much I will need to move the dart up...(if any).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snow day

Yesterday we were once again beset by accumulating snowfall, an event which is not all that common here in southwest Tennessee...although this year has NOT be the norm! Like much of the rest of the country, we seem to be getting more than our usual flurries!

I generally stay home when it snows, as we don't have snow plows here...the snow melts and refreezes on the streets, making driving an unofficial demolition derby.
I am not into that.

I have been spending my snow days cleaning up my sewing room! Earlier this week, I finished the challenge quilt...well, all but putting the label on I figured this was a good time to clean up before I started any new projects. I have accumulated mulitple 'piles' of stuff on every horizontal surface...including the floor! This is NOT conducive to creativity!!!

But as is typical of my projects, this one has grown beyond the initial scope. As I look for places to put the 'can't-do-without' stuff that has been piled up in the room, I find myself also reorganizing closets and cabinets, deciding what I can give away to make room for those other 'precious' things. It's a vicious circle! Clear off the table, then immediately cover it with more stuff! I hate looking in there!

I am making progress, though! I went through all my old patterns (self-drafted with PMB) and tossed out MANY that I know I will never make again. This alone made a huge difference, and was really the goal when this began! I had patterns hanging on the outside of the closet door, because the inside was already so full! I have whittled the pattern supply down to a manageable number, and now they ALL fit inside the closet! Yea! They generally hang on the inside of the closet door, as you can see in this picture. When the door is closed, you don't see them. That's the way...uh huh, uh huh...I like it...uh huh, uh huh!

I'm also sorting through various other crafting projects, trying to decide which should remain in the sewing room and which could live elsewhere. But this means I am opening closets in OTHER rooms, looking for available space. And oh, how distracting that is! After a few minutes, I realize I am now cleaning out a close in a different room! That is NOT today's task...I must focus!!!

One of the things I really need is book/magazine storage. I have lots of those piled up around, and have still not quite decided how I will organize and store those. I have some ideas, but am still thinking. I intend to do some remodelling in this room and put built-in cabinets in the front knee-wall between the dormers (left of treadmill in this picture--not shown), which will help. But that isn't done yet and I need to find adequate storage in the meantime.

Well, break time is over...I better get back to it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


"There's no such thing as a failure who keeps trying; coasting near the bottom is the only disgrace."

I love this sentiment, lyrics from the song, 'JUST WAIT' by Blues Traveler.

By this spite of my best far, I am not a failure where this quilt is concerned! The blue lines and bleeding DID come out in the wash! Yea!!!

Look at these Color Catchers. The 3 darkest ones on the left were in the initial wash. When it was finished, I removed them and tossed in 4 new ones, then selected a Rinse~n~Spin cycle with an extended rinse. These are the 4 on the right. They were still blue, but much less dark. I was afraid to put the quilt through yet another cycle...I don't want to wear it out before it is ever finished!
I had another major scare when I removed this from the washer. Even though the washing did its job, the quilt was now much smaller! Yikes! This is a 'challenge' quilt, and to qualify, it has to meet all the criteria of the challenge, including SIZE.
I quickly spread it out on the sewing table and began measuring...sure enough, it was too small. But I could pull it and stretch it back out...block it. I was hopeful but not confident.
PLUS, I wanted to dry it in the dryer just a little while, to kinda get the outer fabrics dry enough that no more bleeding would occur (just in case!). So I went ahead and tossed it into the dryer on med-low heat...for about 10 minutes. Then I took it out of the dryer and began smoothing and coaxing it into shape on the table, pinning it to a mat and stretching, then moving the pins and smoothing/stretching some more. When I left it last night, it was pinned out squarely...diagonal corners measured equally...and it was overall big enough to meet the challenge! Whew!
Now that it is dry, it is time to begin work plan for today is to couch on some threads.
Crossing fingers (except when sewing!)...
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