Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Chasing the Dragon---Feathers

One of the things I wanted to learn when I discovered free motion quilting was feathers.  I wanted large full feathers and I wanted them everywhere.  Plumes.  Plumes. Plumes.  I bought books about feathers.  I watched You Tube videos about feathers.  I purchased Craftsy classes about feathers.  Everyone's method for teaching feathers seemed basically the same with some slight variations.  I drew and I drew.  I drew some more.  For some reason feathers was just not clicking with me.

So what did I do?  I re-watched the videos.  I looked at the books some more and I continued drawing and playing with quilt sandwiches.  Until finally a few months ago it clicked in my head.  Ding!

After what I felt was finally a successful attempt at feathers, I felt confident enough to put them in the borders of a wall hanging and within some of the blocks.  I walked away feeling like I had accomplished something and patted myself on the back.

So now fast forward a few months and I decided to sneak feathers into my current project.  Cute little feather wreaths.  No problem.

Then it occurred to me that this might be completely different than stitching plumes in a straight-ish line.  So I stopped my pebbling to give it a practice run.  I marked a rough octagon on a practice sandwich and gave it a try.  

Not exactly what I had hoped for, but it could have been a lot worse.  I tried making smaller plumes that I could wrap the next one around, but it resulted in these weird looking fingers...not plumes. When I traveled around to where I started from I ended up with two of the weird little fingers.  So I thought I'd try again, but this time with a circle.

My second attempted was better, but I still ended up with an out of place finger shape when I got back to the beginning.  So out came the drawing pad and pencil.  I thought maybe if I just practiced drawing it would get better.

I was able to get all of my plumes the same size, but still ended with something that did not resemble a plume at the end.  So I tried a different approach.  Instead of starting at the blue dot to make my first plume, I started at the red dot, or what would (hopefully) be the top middle of the first plume.

My hope was to be able to be able to fit the last one with the first one a little better.  I have to say this was a much better approach.  I still need to do some more practicing, but I'm getting closer.  I will catch the feather dragon.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tish vs The Pieced Block--Round 1

I hate when I let myself get distracted and that seems to...I'm sorry, what was I saying?  Just kidding.  I find that I have a bad tendency to start projects and get distracted by the next pretty thing that crosses my path.  I know that never ever happens to other quilters.  I'm just a sad little girl over her in her corner surrounded by half completed projects.  Wait?  I think I hear a crying over there behind that other large pile of fabric.  Maybe I'm not alone?

As I figured I would do, for the time being, I have halted quilting on my mystery quilt.  She's not forgotten but she has to wait just a tiny bit longer.  I have done very well this year with keeping up with the 2015 Aurifil Designer Mystery BOM (which are mini quilts this year).  So I stopped my quilting to piece and quilt June's Hi-De-Ho Cheerio by Me and My Sister Designs. Piecing is completed and it is basted, marked and ready to go.

From inside a shopping bag near my sewing table, I could hear the fabric I purchased this weekend calling to me.  "You know you want to take us out and play with us."  All I could think about was Julie's Modern Building Block project over at Pink Doxies.  She is doing an amazing job with her quilt and inspired me to dust off my copy and finally give it a whirl.  So I thought, why not.  I'll just make a block...maybe two then I will get Hi-De-Ho quilted.  I got out the fabric for block 1, a 36 inch block, started following the diagram (no written instructions...just a diagram) and went to town.  I was so proud of myself.

I was over here dancing saying look at me, I have the center done already.  I just knew I was going to get this baby pieced in no time at all.  Cutting of the setting triangles to turn this into a square in a square commenced.

And I realized...that is not a 1/4 inch space between my point and the end of the block.  C-R-A-P-T-A-S-T-I-C!  I put the brakes immediately on and measured.  It became apparent this block was not going to turn out 36 inches square.  I stopped cutting and piecing and decided to take out the quilt layout and regroup my plan.  Since the blocks are all different sizes it is pieced together in small groups.  Instead of piecing the blocks in the order they are numbered, I decided to start on the blocks for section A.

It's made up of 6-6.5 inch blocks, 3-12.5 inch blocks and a 18.5 inch block...6.5 inch blocks it is.  I decided to rewrite the cutting instructions for the flying geese and half square triangles so I could work with squares and rectangles instead of triangles.  This might help me avoid mistakes that I was obviously making.

I just hate love math!
I was crunching numbers like crazy (it had been a while since I had to do this) until I figured out I was forgetting seam allowances.  This was starting to get very personal for me.  I HAD to get a 6.5 inch block to come out correct or...or...I'm not really sure what, but I just had to.  So I started with the easiest of the blocks.

And thankfully for my sanity's sake, it came out 6.5 inches.  Life could move on.  With that battle won, it was time to pack up my unused fabric.  Maybe after I get Hi-De-Ho Cheerio finished I will attempt another block.  Do you ever find yourself re-working a pattern to piece it in a way you feel more comfortable?

Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 New Quilt Bloggers--My Introduction

On May 29th, I stumbled onto a post from Stephanie at Late Night Quilter looking for new quilt bloggers to join the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop.  With little time to spare, I completed the online form and submitted my blog for possible selection.  I anxiously waited all weekend to see if I would be chosen...and I was!  Over the past two weeks I have already met so many fantastic bloggers who have opened my eyes to new information that I had no idea existed or of its importance.

The blog hop is being hosted by Terri Ann at Childlike Fascination (my hive leader), Stephanie at Late Night Quilter, Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs, and Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl.  The official blog hop kicked off last week with 17 new bloggers introducing themselves, giving us all a small glimpse at who they are.  Over the next three weeks the rest of us will do the same.  So without further ado...

Hi.  My name is Tish and I am a quiltaholic.  Even my vehicle says that I am.  My habit is funded by my day job - doing accounting work for a small company.  I love my family very much because they support and enable my addiction.

    (I should probably note that I love them for countless other reasons.)  

This is me and my husband, David.  We have been married for 16 years.  It's important to us that we support each other's interests and share the things we love.  Sometimes we do those activities together and other times, we just yell encouragement from the sidelines.

We are also the proud parents of a teenage daughter...

You can read more about Jenny's Quilt
three dogs...

and a cat.

For the most part I am a self taught quilter.  Before I found quilting, my chosen past time was cross stitching.  Cross stitching was an activity that both my grandmother and I enjoyed doing together.

My change over from cross stitching to quilting happened when I walked into a quilt shop to see how much it would cost to have someone turn a set of my cross stitches into a quilt.  I had no intention of trying quilting. By the time I had left the shop the lady had talked me out of my original idea and convinced me to purchase 20 fat quarters and a Turning Twenty book.  Once I got to the car all I could think was, "What the heck just happened?".  From that day on, I was hooked.  I would love to show you a finished picture, but I have never gotten around to binding it.  Can I consider this my first quilt if it's still not finished? (don't you love the scenic air freshener)

For years now, I have enjoyed picking out fabrics and piecing quilts.  My only machine is a domestic machine, so I never thought that I would take on the task of actually quilting my own tops.  With encouragement from a good friend, my husband and checkbook limitations, I decided to stop whining about how hard free motion quilting is and jump in with both feet.  I've only been seriously FMQ for a little over a year and a half and the more I do, the more I want to do it.

Since I am self taught, one of the most valuable resources I have found are the blogs of other quilters.  Because of those special people who have opened up and put their work out there, I have been able to grow as a quilter.  If not for those bloggers, I'm not sure I would even be at the quilting 101 level.  My goals in starting a blog was to connect with others and hopefully inspire and encourage other quilters in their own goals.  I have found, in general, I am my own worst critic and, consequentially, my biggest road block.  The first step to recovery is admitting the problem.  Once I admitted this to myself, I have found that I stress less about my quilting and have been able to accomplish more.

The name of my blog comes from my crazy childhood fascination with Alice in Wonderland.  In my world the books would be nothing but pictures...of quilting of course.  Maybe it seems silly to some that I still use TishNWonderland as my name for most things, but it's me and I make no apologizes.  I hope to hold on to some of my childlike (good qualities) and be a bit whimsical in this crazy "drag-you-down" adult world.

Now that I have rambled on, I hope your still with me! The last time I counted I think I have seventeen quilt tops that I still need to finish.  In the picture below are three of my UFO's that hope to fly some day.  I keep a sticky note on my desk to remind me.  Do you find yourself overwhelmed by a stack of unfinished projects? Do you leave yourself reminders as well?

Now on to my finished quilts...  Quilting can be an emotional experience.  The story behind this quilt is extremely emotional for me.  I hate to admit it, but I thought about burning it at one point.  Just looking at it made me so upset.  I promise I'm not crazy.  I call it the Death Quilt.  Do you have any quilts that you have an emotional bond with? 

Read about The Death Quilt.  I promise it has a happy ending.

My favorite things to quilt are miniature quilts.  Since I do all of my quilting on a domestic machine, it is easier to move them around in the smaller throat opening.  My quilting addiction knows no bounds!

Read more about Falling Leaves

Read more about Sunny Lane

Three of my 2015 Aurifil Mystery BOM.  Read more about Flurry, Chubby Churn Dash, March, Secret Garden, and Spring Tiles

My quilting advice is two little tricks I use when I'm FMQ:

1) If you are having trouble with hand/foot speed coordination, try setting your speed control to slow or medium.  Then you can put your foot all the way to the floor and just worry about how fast to move your hands around.

2) When I am using thread that matches my fabric and I'm trying to put a dense filler in a small space, I will mark lines I do not want to run over with a marking pen so that I can see them better.

Hopefully, just as Alice and her journey, you have made it safely to the end of my blog.  This seems like the longest post I have ever written, or possibly I went a little overboard with pictures.  I just wanted to give everyone a small glance into my world.  I hope you will take the time to visit my fellow Social Swarmers and get to know them.

Wanda @ Wanda's Life Samper
Brianna @ The Iron and Needle
Sandra @ The Bias Edge

Also do not forget last weeks Swarmers...

Shayna @ Wife Mother Creator
Francine @ Mocha Wild Child 
Jane @ Twiggy and Opal
Robyn @ Hoops and Thimbles

and don't forget to visit our fearless hive leaders.  Links for all of the other hop participants can be found on their pages.  Plus they have some pretty awesome giveaways going on as well.  And everyone loves a great giveaway ;)

Terri Ann at Childlike Fascination
Stephanie at Late Night Quilter
Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs
Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl

Quilting has helped me to find my voice and confidence.  I hope that you will join me for my future adventures.  I have a few ideas for future projects.  Maybe if I get brave enough I will try hosting a Quiltaholic Support Group Linky Party.  Not so much that we help each other overcome our quilting and fabric addictions, but that we can help support each other when we are stuck on a certain project or just give advice.  So, I must ask, are you a quiltaholic too?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

WV State Quilt Festival--A Family Adventure

Very rarely do I get to say these words...but today my family gave me an all about me day.  This week was the West Virginia Quilt Festival and my husband, my cousin (more like my brother) and his wife (aka my bestie) loaded up in the car to join me on a trip to my little piece of heaven.

I have to say I was a little worried that my traveling companions might find themselves slightly bored but boy was I wrong.  I think they enjoyed looking at all of the amazing works on display as much I did.  One of my husband's favorite quilts was a pixelated quilt of Nick Offerman, Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreations.  

One of my favorite things to do at the show is to try all of the long arm machines on display.  I almost committed to purchasing a HQ Sweet Sixteen, but then the rational part of my brain kicked in.  I really hate that part of my brain.  I convinced the boys to give one of the Gammill long arms a try and didn't think I was going to be able to pull them away from it.  I believe they dubbed it the Cadillac of the machines.

After we had taken in all of the excitement of the show, I conned them into taking me to one of my favorite quilt shops in the area.  The Quilt Shoppe located in Summersville, WV ran by Vickie, the owner.  Vickie seems to have every bolt of fabric imaginable!  I always say if you can't find what you are looking for there, it probably doesn't exist.  She laughs every time she hears me say this.

My cousin approached me with a pattern (I think it was called Falling Leaves) and asked if I could make it for him.

He was so proud of his find, but I told him I didn't really like doing applique so I didn't think I wanted to take it on.  Of course that lead to, "What is applique?"  So after my husband and I finished explaining it to him, my husband took him on a quest to find something with applique in the store.  Later on, Doug was still carrying around the pattern.  I asked him what he was going to do with it and he proudly announced that he wanted to make it and that I could teach him.  What???  I only agreed to this because I figured it could lead to interesting future blog posts...but don't tell him.  So I dropped him off at the fat quarter section, gave him some pointers and told him to pick out his background fabrics.  

Doug hard at work
I went off to enjoy the rest of the fabric.  I'm not sure that my bestie, Stacie, was having as much fun though.  

Unfortunately I was not able to stay at the store forever.  We had to feed Stacie and she wanted to start the two hour drive home.  Doug was able to come to a decision about backing fabric and purchase his new finds.

As for me, I didn't do to bad myself.  I won a door prize at the quilt show.  Score!!  After reading several posts my Julie at Pink Doxies and the progress she is making on her Modern Building Blocks quilt, I found myself inspired to finally start one as well.  I had purchased the pattern when it first came out and safely tucked it away.  Julie is using print fabrics in her quilt instead of solids and it looks amazing!  If you get a chance you should check out her posts about it.  

I feel very blessed to have a husband and family that support my love for quilting as much as they do.  They gave up a whole day to spend time with me and share my passion for quilting.  I hope that your loved ones can get involved and be excited about the things you love as well.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Guess Who's Part of the "Reply Blogger Club?"

This girl!  Well, I'm pretty sure this girl. (I will cry if I'm not)  Before joining the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers, I didn't even know what a "no-reply" blogger was.  Actually before last night I didn't know there was such a thing.  But I was quickly learning that I was one.  Gasp!  That is 100% not what I wanted to be.  I started blogging so that I could connect with other quilters and chat about the art I love so much.  With the help of several people I finally figured out what was happening.

The problem had to do with the fact that my Google+ and Blogger accounts were connected.  (If I remember correctly, I set them up at the same time)  I was pointed to this post at Sew Many Ways so that I could fix the problem, but when I clicked on my picture in her first step, I did not get the same options.  I couldn't find my blogger profile and I was beginning to think it was abducted.  After an hour or two of playing around (and walking away when I was frustrated) I finally found the answer.  I had to un-connect my two profiles.

I started off by clicking on the Cog

Next I chose the option to "Revert to Blogger profile."

Then I followed the instructions on the next two screens.

I switched to the limited Blogger profile.

Entered my desired display name and continued on to Blogger.

Then I was taken to a stripped down version of the dashboard I was use to.

This is where the directions from Sew Many Ways kicked in.  I clicked on my name...

and chose Blogger profile.

Next clicked the Edit Profile button.

Now the important part...make sure that Show my email address box is marked.  After that I scrolled to the bottom and saved my changes.

Then I returned to the blogger screen and clicked on the Cog again.

This time I clicked on Connect with Google+ and followed the instructions.  Then I was back in business.

Thankfully, my new friend Ashley @Crafty Ashley B was kind and patient enough to let me keep posting on her blog until I figured out what I had to do.  And also a thanks to Eleanor@ Cat Approved Quilting and Sandra@Musings of a Menopausal Melon for letting me try test posts to their sights as well.  Now all I have to do is kick back and wait for my Reply Blogger Club Tshirt and key chain to come in the mail.  It's a hard club to get into....just kidding.  

If you were struggling like I was I hope this post is helpful.

Adventures in Paper Piecing

Let me start out by admitting that my paper piecing skills are actually limited.  I love the precision and perfect points that can be achieved with this method of piecing but my internal struggle has been that feels wasteful.  One of the first things I tried to piece was the Marine's Star I found on Quilter's Cache.  I tried several times to piece it but no matter what I tried I kept coming up short somewhere.


I then searched around online to see if anyone had any advice on how to figure out what size to cut fabric so that you are covering the shape you are trying to cover.  My searches for the most part turned up empty.  I guess I was looking for instructions would say something like cut "x" amount of squares/rectangles in whatever size.  Isn't that what we normally get when we cut fabric for a pattern?

Recently, I was asked to help with a project that would require me to work on the paper pieced blocks.  Sadly I had the most experience with paper piecing; or possibly they suckered me into doing them.  Since the fabric I was using belonged to someone else I wanted to waste as little as possible or at least make sure I cut a big enough piece on the first whack.  My solution was to cut squares and rectangles at least a 1/2 to 1/4 inch bigger than what I needed.

So for this particular piece I cut a rectangle that was 3.5 by 4 inches.  

The next part that I found tricky was lining up the the pieces to make sure that I had them covering the magical sewing line.  I would hold them up to the light make sure they were where they needed to be and somehow manage to have them move before I could get them to the machine and sew it. Have I mentioned how much I love paper piecing?

I finally came up with a solution to my problem.

By placing a straight pin at the end of the two lines, when I flipped the piece over I knew exactly where the line I needed to cover was.

Ta da!  Then if I needed to I could fold the piece over and see if the space was covered.  So far this method has worked for me.  I always know where my line is.

My new blogger friend Ashley over at Crafty Ashley B shared a recent post from Crazy Mom Quilts on paper piecing with me.  The post talks about using templates to ensure that you are cutting your pieces the correct sizes.  Though it might take a bit more time, I think I could definitely cut down on wasted fabric using her method.  The next time I have a paper piecing project I will absolutely give it a try.

If you have any paper piecing tricks please feel free to share them with me.  I love my adventures in quilting and love to learn as much as I can. 

Oh on a side note:

The pin idea was totally Oliver's.  He just couldn't take me grumbling anymore.

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