Monday, June 6, 2011

A Few Flora & Fauna Photos

This is not quilting related, but thought you might enjoy a few flora and fauna photos--how's that for a little alliteration. Thought you were back in high school English class, didn't ya?

My friend, Patty, and I took a trip up to the Wild Animal Park--sorry, the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park--a few weeks ago and got some good exercise walking all over the park. Why did they change the name? I thought the Wild Animal Park was just fine and that's what it will always be to me. Anyway, we visited the butterfly enclosure where the butterflies light on your head, hands, shoulders, just everywhere. They are really beautiful. One landed on Patty's camera and one landed on her head.

We saw all kinds of birds. I can't remember their names, but you all probably know them anyway.

This one was sitting on a nest.

And like the Zoo, there are so many beautiful plants at the park. Here are some of the blooming varieties we saw.

These are my favorite little critters, the meerkats. They were napping, one atop the other. Pretty cute. If you go to the Park in the summer, go in the morning. It's cooler and the parking is better. By the way, you pay for parking ($8 I think) unless it is included on your membership. It's a great place to walk and enjoy the animals and vistas.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blocks Under Construction!

I have been participating in Cozy Quilt Shop's Building Blocks designed by Sharyn Craig. It is a Block of the Month series on the theme of building or construction. Each month you can buy a kit for $5, which includes the block pattern with template patterns/rotary cutting directions and 3 fat eighths in one of 5 colorways (black & white, red & green, brights, pastels & red, white & blue.

Here are some photos of my red & green blocks. I had a lot of fun coloring in the block diagrams and couldn't stop at just one block for each design. So I made three of each and a fourth for the January block. And I still have lots of fabric left over if I want to make a fourth of the other months' blocks. The January block is titled "Hammer & Nails." I mixed up fabrics from the other blocks so it gave a lot of variety to the designs. I also added a couple of Moda Marbles in a couple of blocks.
February's block is called "Skylights."

March is titled "Picture Window."

April's block is called "Newel Post."
May is "Plumb Line." Doesn't the third block look totally different?

This is the kit for June, "T Square."

The blocks are not terribly difficult, but they challenge your sewing skills and use of fabrics. The red and green colorway has had a lot of directional fabrics, which, while somewhat challenging, has been fun. It's always more fun and interesting when you try something a little out of your comfort zone.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

New & Older Product Recommendations

These are some new and older quilting products I have tried and can recommend.

The first is a fusible web that has actually been out for a while and I have been using for the past year or so. It is Shades Soft Fuse and is a lightweight fusible that leaves your applique with a really wonderful, light "hand" (almost feels like there is no fusible there), does not gum up your needle, and provides a secure bond. It is available in 10-sheet packages for $10 or in 3 yd., 6 yd. and larger packages (37" wide) for $28.50 and up at I have even used it to fuse silk and lame by lowering the iron temperature and using a pressing sheet. I have not seen the product in our local quilt shops, but if enough of us ask for it, I'm sure one or more of them will start carrying it. Let me know if you have seen it locally.
The I-Sight Mini Task Light is a small, battery-operated light that fits over the ear and directs an LED beam of light at your work. I bought one for about $15 from Quilter's Paradise, but I also saw them online for about $12-$13 at Amazon and other sites. The beam of light is quite bright and the light part is flexible so it can be directed where you want it. It is comfortable once you get the right position on your own ear. It uses small flat quarter size batteries like you find in those battery-operated votive candles.
Heat Press Batting Together is a great product to fuse pieces of batting together. It comes in a 10 yd. package and is 1 1/2" wide for about $9. It doesn't leave a ridge or bump and fuses really nicely. You just lay the tape over the two straight edges of the abutted batting pieces and fuse. You have to adjust your iron temperature according to the type of batting. If using poly batting, you need to reduce the temperature to the setting for synthetics. No more basting the batting together or zigzaging over the edges. I love it.
Sewline makes a number of marking products. This one is the Sewline TRIO. It has three marking options in one tool that change with a twist of the barrel. There is a fine-line black pencil type marker, a white lead marker for dark fabrics, and a ballpoint embosser/tracer. There is an eraser on the end, which sort of erases, but don't expect your line to completely disappear. I really like the fine line the TRIO produces. It also comes with a few refill leads. It was $13.95 at Cozy Quilt Shop in El Cajon.
The last product is a new pair of scissors by Karen Kay Buckley, a nationally-known quilt author and teacher. I won a pair of the large 7 1/2" (purple handle) size at Cozy's last weekend. The blades are actually only about 3" long, but they call it "large." There is also a smaller size with green handles. The blades are micro-serrated so they actually grab the fabric and they cut well, all the way to the tips. They come with a plastic blade cover, too. I really like the over-sized, cushioned handles that either right or left-handed quilters can use. All four fingers fit in one handle opening and your thumb in the other. The large size is $25.95. I saw the smaller size for $20 online.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Day at the Beach - A Row Quilt

I've been on a sabbatical of sorts. Sorry I have neglected this platform for over two months. Guess getting my studio in order was such an accomplishment everything since then has been anti-climactic. The room is still in order and quilting has been taking place there.

The end of March marked the beginning of a new class session of quilting in the Grossmont District and I had this idea of making an original row quilt. The first project I taught to my class back in 2003 was a row quilt and I thought it would be fun to do something like that again. So I made sketches and diagrams, figured yardage, wrote up some notes and came up with "A Day at the Beach" as the name of the project.

We did a row a week or so with blocks for an applique row thrown in here and there. These are pictures I took of some of the rows along the way. We started at the bottom with a row of fishes. People did different things with the fish, making them all different, all the same, adding tails to them. Very cute.
Then came the row of waves, which I adapted from a block called Greek Key by adding triangles to the design to make the design curvy like a wave. People did their own thing here too. One even did a very cute row of appliqued waves. I added some surfers and a shark to my wave row.
Next came a row of jaunty paper pieced sailboats that sailed atop the previous wave row. I taught a new method of paper piecing (new to me anyway) where the pattern is drawn/traced on freezer paper, ironed to the fabrics, then the paper is folded back and the seam is sewn next to the fold. NO TEARING AWAY THE PAPER AT THE END! That is the best part. I love how unique and individual everyone's boats turned out. Some with really colorful sails.
Then we started the applique blocks, which I gave out weekly: a pair of flip flops with 3-dimensional straps, a couple of bathing suits, a beach ball, a sea star with a shell and sand dollar, a sand castle and a glass of lemonade with a pair of shades. Everyone did such cute and interesting things with the designs.
The next row was the beach and a row of beach houses and appliqued palm trees, umbrellas and surfboards. The beach houses were regular pieced and paper pieced. So many cute cabanas. I sewed some fringy fiber on the palm tree fronds to make them look textured.
Then came a row of pinwheels. I used the sky fabric in my pinwheels so it looks like they are floating in the sky. After the pinwheels there is a row of sky with a pieced sun, some birds and kites with 3-dimensional tails.
The last row is a small appliqued airplane pulling a banner with the title, "A Day at the Beach," across the sky. We just did the last row this week so now everyone has to finish. I think everyone was having fun with the rows and choosing their fabrics and embellishments. Now I have to get busy and make a backing and quilt it. I hope to see many finished quilts come back in the fall.