Wonderland Cube-it

Just a quick post, because I really should be in bed right now, to show you my latest finish.  The design is “Wonderland” by Trilogy.  This one took me a couple nights to complete.  It’s the first time I’ve finished something into a cube-it (or box standup as some call it) so there was some figuring out I needed to do.  The trickiest part for me is the darn bow.  My cousin once laughed at me and said that for someone so creative and crafty, I couldn’t tie a decent bow.  I have trouble with these ruffle type because their irregular and I keep futzing with them, trying to get them perfect….but they don’t look right unless they’re all disheveled.  I’m thinking of adding feet to the bottom….maybe white wooden balls.   Hmmm, will have to think about that some more.

Okay, off to bed now.


Pumpkin Harvest Pillow

Tonight I finished my “Pumpkin Harvest” by Trilogy into this long, slender pillow:

It turned out better than I thought it would.  I found the pumpkin fabric in my quilt stash.  It’s almost an exact color match to the over-dyed floss in the piece.  And I thought adding some ric-rac would be a nice touch to an otherwise simple pillow.  I thought about using cording, but the ric-rac adds to the whimsy of the design.   I guess this will get packed away with my other autumn decorations.  Or maybe I’ll just leave it out and enjoy it for a few weeks.

I still have several other stitched pieces that I need to pull out and do the “finishing” on.  I have the next few week nights free, so my goal is to get at least one done each night.  I have a tendency to let my “finishing” pile build up and then get a bunch done at once.  Sort of like laundry…LOL.

The pictures I took last night of the Gardenball have been bothering me, so I messed around with lighting tonight to see if I could get a better picture.  The halogen lights on the ceiling of my room just don’t cut it when I want to take a picture at night.  The images come out kind of yellowish and dim.  Tonight, I leveraged my portable Ott-lite and was finally able to get some decent pictures.  I even took some more pictures of the Gardenball and updated them on my last post.

Happy dance!  Tonight I finished “A Patchwork Garden Pincushion Ball” by Twisted Oaks Designs.  Here are a few pictures of the finished piece:

The lighting in my room isn’t very good at night.  I’ll have to take some more pictures during the day and post those on my album.

I changed up the finishing a bit from what was outlined in the pattern.  I won’t be teaching my EGA group how to assemble theirs until August.  So to prevent myself from forgetting anything and to provide anyone interested in how I finished my piece, I thought I’d outline it the steps here.  So here it goes:

First, I decided the piece needed more gold that just the brass medallion on the bottom. So, in lieu of perl cotton, I chose gold Petite Treasure Braid (#PH03). To make sure it would withstand the tight tension needed to pull the pieces together, I did a little sample of the assembly stitches in an unused corner of a piece. This also allowed me to test iron the corner to make sure it could handle a hot iron.
To my delight, both tests passed with the Treasure Braid.

So I moved along and worked the backstitches around all 18 pieces.  To make sure the backstitches wouldn’t come out when I went to assemble the pieces, I tied the two ends of the thread in a square knot, before whipping the tails back and forth through the back side of the backstitches.

Here are all the completed stitches.

I want to take a quick moment to tell you how much I enjoy working with Treasure Braid.  I prefer stitching with it over Kreinik.  It it more pliable the Kreinik, so I don’t get frustrating with it when I stitch on linen.  Also, I am able to use long lengths (30″) and barely shows any wear on the thread when you get to the end.  If you haven’t used it, I really encourage you to pick some up next time your at a needlework shop.  Okay, back to the finishing.

Once I had all the backstitching done, I made a paper template of the two different shapes (a square and a kite shape). I used these templates to cut out fusible interfacing and cotton batting.

So, with my templates, I cut out interfacing (I use lightweight Pellon) for all the pieces so that it fit just inside the backstitches.

With a hot iron, I pressed the interfacing to the wrong side of the linen.  I pressed my pieces on a soft ironing pad to so I wouldn’t  crush the beads.

Once the interfacing was fused on, I cut all the pieces out using a 3/8″ seem allowance.

Then using my templates, I cut batting for all of the pieces.  Because batting is thicker than interfacing, I cut the batting a tad smaller than the interfacing.

The pattern doesn’t call for either interfacing or batting, but I find the interfacing stabilizes your pieces and prevents the poly-fil from bearding through the holes of your linen. The batting I use to wrap the seam allowance around, so they don’t create a ridge on the front of the work.  It also helps smooth out the lumps that can sometime appear when you stuff something with poly-fill.
Then I finger press the seams.  I start by pressing the corners so they can be mitered.  Then I press right along the backstitching.
Once the piece is finger pressed, insert the batting and using a contrasting color of sewing thread, baste the seam allowances down.  I pierce through the batting and to the front/back.  This holds the seams down and keeps the batting in place when I stuff it later.
Then with more Treasure Braid, I whip stitched the pieces together.
Here’s how the bottom looked once the bottom 6 “kite” pieces were assembled.
Then I added the middle squares.
Here you can see it starting to take the shape of a ball.
The brass medallion that comes with the pattern is flat.  I didn’t want the bottom of my ball to be flat, so  I took my medallion to the garage and hammered it into a curve.  Then I used the Treasure braid to attach it to the bottom.  I tacked it down at each point.
Using the same DMC colors I stitched with, I made a few different color variations of cording.  It was a tough choice, but I ended up using the cord on the right.   The colors look so rich together in that particular cord.
I then assembled the 6 “kite” shapes of the top and before I sewed the last piece into the first to close it all up, I inserted my cord, this a knot to keep it from slipping through.
Here’s how it looked from the top before I closed it up.
With the cord attached, I then whip stitched the top to the bottom section.
I stuffed the ball with poly-fill and stuffed it really tight. Closing it up was tricky. Once it was all stuffed and assembled, I removed the red basting threads and , voila, it was done!

Tote & Gardenball

Today I finished a 6 year old UFO.  Back in 2004, I bought kits for my friend (Suzanne) and I to make these totes over a weekend when I visited her.

We were both excited to make it, but soon after starting it, we both ended up frustrated.  Neither of us could get the border around the center square to fit and the instructions in the pattern were no help.  I chalked it up to being a beginner quilter back then, as I’m sure my friend did also.  So, we both tossed them in the deep recesses of our closets, to be worked on some day, when we felt we were up to the task.

So, 6 years later and now more advanced in my quilting abilities, I decided to dig it out this week.  I ripped the border off the blocks and started from scratch.  I soon discovered that I ran into the very same problem with that dang triangle border.  I sewed all the pieces together and it was almost an inch longer than the center square.  But this time I wasn’t going to let it get the best of me.  I ripped out the triangles, again, and made an adjustment to how I was aligning the triangles before sewing with my scant 1/4″ and voila, it finally worked.  The third time was the charm.  Once that hump was over, the rest came pretty smoothly.  The original pattern only specified to put one quilt square on the tote and then a solid piece on the other side, but I decided it needed a square on both sides.  So here’s a picture of the other side.

So, one ancient UFO down, many, many more to go.

Now onto a brand new project.  This week at our EGA meeting, I will be handing out pattern packets and linen for the members to make “A Patchwork Gardenball Pincusion” by Twisted Oaks Designs.  And of course I had to make some adjustments….I just can’t help it sometimes.  The model was done with various colors of 28-ct linen, primarily in the light brownish tones.  But I thought this piece needed more color and chose 6 colors of pastel Belfast linens (Angel Blush, Ice Blue, Ray of Light, Lilac, Apricot and Mint).  I also ordered the Dinky Dye silks the pattern called for, but see if you don’t agree:

I wasn’t happy with them.  The dye lots must be very different from the ones used in the original.  The dark and light purples are the biggest offenders.  The dark purple is in the cooler range whereas the lighter purple is on the warmer side.  Then I thought the light pink and blue were too pale and needed to be more of a medium shade.  The green was fine, but I mistook the brown for a deep gold at first (though the picture makes it look more brown).  Don’t get me wrong, these colors are beautiful, but they just don’t coordinate together.

I’m letting the EGA members make their own decisions on what thread to use.  Maybe some of them will order the silks and get better results with their dye lots.  But I decided to go the DMC route.  I used, 3765/3766 (blues), 3803/3688 (pinks), 552/554 (purples, 367 (green) and 433 (brown).  I wanted to get as much of the pieces stitched before the meeting this Thursday to give folks an idea of what they can use.  I’m almost done:

I just need to finished the last motif on the lilac linen and stitch the final panel of mint linen.  Then I can add the gold beads to each and assemble it into the ball.

Applique & Bobbins

Although I haven’t posted much about it, I love to applique.  I mainly applique by hand and it’s usually a portable project that I can take with me to work on a quilt group.  There are many techniques for various aspects of applique.  For preparing my pieces for stitching, I prefer a method using freezer paper and starch.  This YouTube video demonstrates the technique, though I use a smaller crafter iron (easier to use) and a stiletto (to avoid burning my fingers).  If you applique, you’re probably familiar with this technique.  It allows me to turn in all the edges of each piece before I place it on the foundation.  The starch holds the creases nicely.  I also glue baste it to the foundation so I’m not poking myself with pins or snagging my thread on them.  I’ve tried the needle turn technique, which many appliquers prefer, but I’ve never been able to get as nice results as I do with the starch method, especially on curves.  But there are several other techniques for applique and I alway encourage people to try them to see which fits their style.

For stitching my pieces down, I like to coordinate my thread with the fabric I’m stitching down.  For a while now, I’ve carried around a tote with about 60 spools of various colored thread in it, seen here:

It’s nice to have so many colors handy and pretty portable.  It also a way to have them all in one place.  But I recently read some where that another way to have lots of colors on hand and portable is to wind them on sewing machine bobbins.  I loved the idea, so I bought some plastic bobbins in bulk off eBay (I got 100 Brother Baby Lock bobbins for just under $14) and wound all my colors onto them.  I also took my bobbins to a Storables store (similar to a Container Store) to find a case that could hold them.  And this is how it turned out:

I now store the same # of threads in about 1/5th the size.  Plus, I still have room for another 36 additional bobbins.  With the case, I was limited to 60 colors, so with the 36 extra bobbins, I plan to fill in the color gaps.

One last tip I discovered while winding all these bobbins.  I found a way to keep the bobbin thread from unwinding and making a mess in the case.  Before you cut the end off, pull the thread tight so that is slips between some of the wound thread on the bobbin.  Then cut the thread about 1/2″ from where it sinks in.  This will hold the tail down and when you’re ready to use it again, pull on the little tail and the thread releases from between the wound threads.  Voila!

Americana Needle Case

This year, I started my roll as the person in charge of evening programs for our local EGA.   I’ve only been a member of the guild for just under 3 years and holding an officer position is completely new and foreign to me.  But with lots of encouragement from my friends, I decided to give it a try and treat it as a learning experience.

From what I can tell about our group, it is evenly split between canvas stitchers and counted thread/linen stitchers.  I really fall into the latter category, and that’s where my comfort zone lies.  But I need to change it up a bit each month to find something appealing for everyone.

For January, I decided to teach everyone how to peyote bead (even count) a needle case.  My friend Kate had shown an interest in learning how to do it when she saw me using the technique on an amulet bag.  So I thought it would be a good technique to teach the whole group.   The project is small, so everyone could learn the technique and have something to show for it with relatively little time.  I also thought the design should be relatively simple, but not boring.  So, I designed this Americana needle case:

The piece is worked from the bottom up.  At first, you’re beading with a solid color (gold), to get the technique down.  Then after a bit of practice, the color pattern changes to the red and white beads.  By the time you get done stitching the base of the needle case, beading the blue and white pattern around the top becomes pretty simple.  The very top and bottom beading are done separately from the case before attaching them.  Doing peyote in the round for these two pieces is the toughest part of this project, but it finishes the whole piece off nicely.

I haven’t taught much, so I had some anxiety about how well the class would go over.  Would the group like the design?  Would I be able to explain the technique well?  Will my pattern and instructions make sense?  Will they enjoy it enough to finish the project?  etc….  Well, I taught the class last week and other than turning beat red for the first 10 minutes, it went over better than I expected.  Most of the night group participated in the program, so the interest was high.  And many of them continued to work on their beading even after the meeting had ended.  Last night I stitched with my group of friends, all of which are also EGA members, and a few of them brought their beading to work on.  It was really nice to see them still interested and working on a design I created. By accident, one of them (Amy) changed the beading sequence for the red and white beads and ended up with an alternate design.  It twists up the case like candy cane stripes, but with a sort of an interlocking saw tooth pattern.  You’d have to see it to understand , but it looks really neat.   Maybe she’ll read this post and send me a picture to add to my blog so you can see it 🙂 (UPDATE:  You can see a picture on Amy’s blog here).  I told her I wanted to try that pattern on a future project with some different color beads.

So, one program down and several to go.


This past weekend was my quilt group’s annual Grover Beach retreat.  As usual, we all had a wonderful time, ate lots of tasty food/treats and inspired each other.  I didn’t manage to get a top completed, but I made good headway on a couple projects.  One of them was new.  I had picked up the pattern in a quilt shop on the drive down (Quilter’s Cupboard in Atascadero), but that shop didn’t have the charm pack I wanted.  Luckily I found them the next day in another shop (Quilting Cousins in Pismo Beach).  I even inspired one of my friends to do the quilt with me.  We only managed to complete a few of the blocks before the weekend was over.  And since then, I have been working on them a little each night.  Tonight, I managed to get all 9 blocks sewn together:

I won’t be able to add the borders just yet.  I’m still waiting on the fabric for the inner border, binding and back.  But it should be here within the next week.  Hopefully I haven’t moved onto another project by then so I can get this done in the same year I started it.   It would be nice to get it done in time to hang for Valentine’s Day.  Hmmm, that’s a bit motivating.

The pattern is called “Madeline” and it’s one fo the Schnibbles patterns from Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co..  The pattern was originally done with a couple charm packs of Moda’s “French General”, which is still currently available.  And for once, I didn’t change a thing and just went with what the pattern called for…”French General”.  The finished size will only be 28″ square, so it’ll hang on my wall when it’s done.