Well, that wasn't fun! I pieced together the backing for my DWR quilt - a big enough chore because of the size (106x121) but complicated further because of joining the large scale print. As I wrote in another post, I wanted to attempt the technique taught by Elizabeth Hartman in her Creative Quilt Backs Class which aligns the repeat in a large scale print fabric. It would have looked very odd to simply sew together the panels disregarding where the Highclere Castle images ended up. The technique is a bit fussy and was challenging with the 18 yards of fabric I was working with.
However, I think the results were worth it. Because of the heavy weight of the fabric and the slight misprinting of the image, my careful print matching pulled out a bit as I moved the fabric length along my tables, even though I used my strong Quilter's glue and pins. Some seams are not perfectly in sync but I know no one would notice but me and I am certain it is way less noticeable than having half-castles all over the seam!
I really struggled to keep the fabric wrinkle free and I don't even have a large enough area to lay out and fold up the backing. I ended up spreading it across my bed and doing my best to carefully smooth it out and fold it together. I am all set now for Monday when I can get into an empty classroom and baste the quilt on the floor. I bought 300 basting pins (although they are not exactly the ones I wanted. I wanted curved 1-1/2" safety pins but couldn't find them. I was torn between small 1" curved pins in the 300 pack and 1-1/2" NON-curved pins in a 50 pack for 6 times the price! I really thought the 1" were too small so I went for the larger size and bought 5 packs to add to the one I already have. Luckily, it was a 50% off sale and I had a gift certificate from my wonderful hubby for our anniversary, so it didn't cost me anything really.)
I decided to use one of my Vera Bradley pouches to store and transport the pins. I plan on pin basting more regularly now so having a cute little tote to carry them in is incentive to use them! I don't think I will be in any hurry to do another king sized quilt though. It is just so difficult with my room constraints to deal with fabric that size. It kind of takes the fun out of it when you are always fighting to keep things straight. I can't imagine what quilting this is going to be like?!?!?!
Obviously at this stage I am way past 'starting machine quilting' but the NEW Craftsy class Start Machine Quilting with Paula Reid was a big draw for me because of one certain section: pin basting! Since I will be pin basting my king Double Wedding Ring quilt, and have never done it before, I was looking for all I can learn about the process.
Every teacher has something new to offer and Paula Reid is fantastic! She is an experienced machine quilter and professionally quilted over 1500 customer quilts on her domestic machine(!!!). She is such a good communicator and really charming and funny. I like her style and that is so important to me when it comes to on-line educators. When I'm considering a Craftsy class I always watch the preview video first to get a sense of what the teacher is like (voice, confidence, style) and read through the lesson descriptions, the materials needed, and reviews if there are any. That helps me tremendously to decide whether to take it or not. Everything in this class applied to me and what I want to learn so it was a great fit.
The class offers complete coverage when it comes to learning to machine quilt at home. I love Paula's suggestions for setting up a workspace, how to pin baste (and she actually does it on camera - just like a regular home quilter would have to do it, with a LOT of detail), stabilizing the quilt, and everything to consider after that. There are lessons on marking, free-motion, and freehand quilting. I haven't watched everything yet (since I am so excited about the pin-basting section) but Paula totally has my attention and I can't wait to hear what else she has to share.
I was happy to see her using a Kwik Klip which I already purchased this summer. I'm going to be piecing the backing for my DWR over the next couple days and have found a large room where I can baste the quilt. I'll be all ready and confident for pin basting now!
It is hard to focus though because I am SO excited about my Mac coming. I cannot wait to get on it and play and get ready for my EQ7 software! More on that later...
I indulged myself with one more splurge: a fat quarter bundle of Miss Kate by Bonnie & Camille from Westwood Acres Fabric. They had an amazing promotion offering a charm pack with purchase that was too good to miss. Knowing that Camille Roskelley's gorgeous prints sell out fast I really wanted to make sure I got some. I told hubby he could put it away for Christmas but he said to just buy it. You don't have to tell me twice to get something right now!
The design is beautiful! As blog friend MAR pointed out, the colours are pretty much the same as the previous lines released by Bonnie & Camille. That suits me fine since I can mix 'n match with the other collections I have. I don't really have any yardage (other than some solids) so being able to pull from Marmalade, April Showers, and Scrumptious to make up a quilt will be a definite help. I know any left over fat quarters or scraps won't go to waste either! I think I'd like to make some smaller projects too.
I can't keep up with Camille though! She already has another line ready to go, Daysail. However, that will have to be it for me right now; I have such a big stash that I really need to quit buying more fabric. I have plenty to keep me going and I want to make sure I use some of the lovely Bonnie & Camille stuff - it looks much nicer in a quilt than a storage bin!
I gave one of these Hot Iron Holsters to my daughter and decided I had to get one too. It's a silicone pouch that clings to the counter top (or chair, sink, etc.). It is heat resistant to 500 degrees F so you can insert your hot flat iron or curling iron right into it without worrying about melting it.
This is such a brilliant idea! Whenever I use my straightener I never want to set it on my bathroom counter for fear of leaving a burn mark. I end up setting it across the corner of the sink (so the hot part is hanging over the edge) and then I'm afraid a male family member will knock it off and break the ceramic plates. I also don't have a travel sleeve for it so it has to cool down before I can pack it. The holster solves all those problems!
The silicone clings to any smooth surface and you can place the styling tools in during heat up, while in use, and during cool down. It's perfect for distracted daughters and also keeps the bathroom tidy as it is a nice 'home' for all the appliances.
I purchased my Hot Iron Holster from the salon I go to and it was about $30.
This is the second book (after Mary Fons' Make + Love Quilts) that I ever pre-ordered. Of course, I would buy any of Angela Walters' publications - she is one of my favourite quilters! Shape by Shape, as the name implies, is a visual guide for free-motion quilting in specific shapes, negative space, and borders on your quilt. It's another great addition to my collection of inspiring ways to quilt a quilt (always the most difficult part for me!).
Angela divides the book into sections based on quilt blocks, negative space, and borders. Within the block chapter she further breaks down the designs by shape: squares, triangles, circles, diamonds, and hexagons. This makes it very easy to look at what you need to quilt and find the perfect design to fit. Of course, as Angela suggests, you can adapt any of the designs to fit other shapes, as well as alter them depending on the size of space you need to fill.
Each section starts with an overview and tips. Each design is shown in a photo and includes detailed sketches of the process to quilt it out. There are more tips and variations pictured too. Some of the designs are examples of those shared in Angela's awesome Craftsy classes (Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety, Angela Walters: Dot to Dot Quilting, Free-Motion Quilting with Feathers, and Machine Quilting Negative Space) and some are brand new.
I love the index of quilting designs on the first few pages. Angela's hope is that the book will be in the your quilting area ready to provide inspiration and guidance when 'quilter's amnesia' strikes! I think I will definitely be using it as a reference when I'm ready to quilt and the index on pages 5-7 works perfectly for a quick overview of designs I can choose. This method worked well for me when I was working on my Spools quilt and I needed something for the sawtooth border.
One new-to-me design featured in the negative space section is Merged Lines. It involves echoing straight lines but with diagonal notches randomly placed to break up the horizontal lines. It's hard to explain but looks phenomenal when it's all put together! (And Angela swears you don't need a ruler!).
Once my DWR quilt is done I am going to work on a few, smaller 'just for fun' quilts over the winter. I enjoy using those quicker quilts to play with the quilting and I look forward to trying out some of Angela's new designs. Her 'Signature Design' is another I want to try - simply gorgeous waves filled with curved lines. So simple - and no marking! I love this new Shape by Shape book and it's perhaps Ms. Walters best yet!
I couldn't resist buying the Ultimate Spin Mop to replace the bucket and mop I left at my son's apartment. My review of this Home Hardware exclusive will only be relevant to my Canadian readers since this is a Canadian product from a Canadian company. Perhaps those south of the border might find a similar system or be so enthralled they'll want to run right up to the closest northern province!
The starter box retails for $39 and comes with the special spin bucket, mop handle, and removable, machine washable, and replaceable mop head. It's ready to go once you simply screw the handle together. When the bucket is filled with water and cleanser of choice, the mop is plunged into the mixture and pumped up and down to soak and lather the microfibre head as it spins in the solution.
When you pull the mop upwards the inner spinning basket raises along with it and allows you to pump again to spin out the excess moisture. This step permits you to adjust the amount of water in the mop head or really dry out the mop almost completely. There is an automatic pour spout hidden in the rim for emptying out the water and the built-in splash guard prevents you from getting sprayed!
I was excited to try out the new gadget. It takes a bit of getting used to to remember the sequence of keeping the handle in the locked, perpendicular position for spinning, and the two step process of spinning to soak and then spinning to dry, the mop head. There is a hinge that needs to be locked to secure the handle as you're mopping. Once again, when it's time to re-soak and rinse, you must make sure the mop handle is upright and the hinge is unlocked!
It's a little bit of a struggle to soak and spin the mop under water because of the resistance. The upper level spin is much easier and very effective at removing the liquid. It works just like a super sonic salad spinner! At first, I wasn't sure I liked the round, flat shape of the mop but as I continued to clean, it appealed to me more and more. I like that it swivels and scoots along the edge of the floor but I found it difficult to get into the corners. One thing I really like it for is cleaning the top of the baseboards. After I mopped the floor I ran it along all the dusty tops of the trim and it did a great job!
Of course, no matter what new fangled bucket and mop you purchase you still have to fill it, lug the heavy bucket around the house, and empty out the soiled water. And...you still have to mop! I like having new tools that get me to at least do the mopping. I did my entire home and am pleased that it's done. The things I really like about the Ultimate Spin Mop are the sturdy bucket with very good, grippy 'feet' and the drying spin of the bucket basket. I was able to mop my wood flooring without it being too wet. I love the mop for cleaning baseboards and it can also be used dry to dust floors or walls. I don't like having to lock and unlock the handle each time I rinse and spin but I do like that I cleaned my floors! I purchased an extra mop head right off the bat because sometimes these systems become unavailable and you're stuck. I'm a little concerned the spin basket could break or get stuck in one position or another so fingers crossed. Overall, I like the system.
We were planning a trip south this fall but something came up at work and we had to postpone our plans. One reason I was really looking forward to going was a visit to the Vera Bradley outlet in Orlando. I've never been before but the clerk at the VB store in the mall there told me about it last time and I've been anticipating it ever since.
Disappointed, I decided to check on-line and was pleasantly pleased to find out they have an outlet that ships to Canada. I was looking for a tote and found a great one. I'm not fussy about getting a particular print because I think most of them are really pretty and I get overwhelmed choosing. Narrowing down the selection by only looking at the retired/discounted ones makes it easier for me! Of course, I had to add a couple more things to my order.
When the shipment arrived I was so excited - especially since it was a honking box and so beautifully presented, complete with tissue, VB seal, and a good length of grosgrain ribbon tied in a bow! The tote is massive and full of pockets inside. I will totally be able to use it for a weekend getaway bag, nice since I bought a small duffle bag last year and ended up giving it to my daughter. The large Get Carried Away tote is in Venetian Paisley and retails at $92. I got it for $45. I added the Cosmetic Trio set in Very Berry Paisley. They are all cute bags - narrow but great for so many uses. They retail for $40 and I got them for under $15. I also got a Small Cosmetic since I have admired the one I gave my daughter ever since I bought it. It was also under $15 and I got the Ribbons design, which supports the VB Foundation for Breast Cancer.
Here are some pics of my mini-haul! (You can click on any of them to see them close up).
Most often, at the end of a quilt pattern, it simply says 'quilt as desired'. When I first started out I thought that was an awful way to leave a girl hangin'...after such detailed instructions to complete the piecing it felt like abandonment to be told 'ok, now you're done, figure out how to finish it yourself!'.
I've read many times to just let the quilt tell you how to quilt it. Um...my quilts didn't talk much in the beginning but now that we know each other better, I'm starting to get the conversation flowing. I can understand that some parts of the quilt need to be featured, some fabrics are too busy to bother with custom quilting, and sometimes simple is best. I'm getting better at deciding how I want to quilt and what designs fit where but I am always looking for inspiration and suggestions.
'Quilt as Desired - Your Guide to Straight-Line and Free-Motion Quilting', by Charlene C. Frable, is the last book I wanted to share with you from the craft expo I attended in the spring. It is in similar format to ABCs of Longarm Quilting, spiral bound so it sits nice and flat, and covers technical aspects of quilting, quilting patterns, and offers various projects to practice one's skills. There is a lot of great information and I love the tips sprinkled throughout the book. As always, when I encounter a technique I want to try or perfect I pull out my reference books and brush up. This one has so many detailed instructions and many photos of samples for each design. There is a box with 'benefits' and 'drawbacks' for the quilting designs which is so honest and helpful. I like to have a realistic opinion of what to expect, or a cautionary warning (!), so that I can be prepared.
There are several cute projects in the back of the book, from a small tissue box cover, to a rag quilt, wall hangings, and table mats. I am so happy I found this book for such a great price. It was published in 2007 but the tips and techniques are still current for today's quilters.