Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011 Round Robin Reveal...Plus This Year's Halloween Costume Parade

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus French existentialist author & philosopher (1913 - 1960)
Happy Halloween and Harvest Festival!  Of course, in Miami all the beautiful maple leaves are made of silk and the smell of apple trees is supplied by Yankee Candle.  As children we always chose our costumes to be as skimpy as possible, not because we were exhibitionist, but because it was still so hot in October.  Regardless, I love Fall so I turn the air conditioning down low, light scented candles, and scatter silk Autumn colored leaves!

Here's a sneak peek at what the best dressed dogs will be wearing for Halloween this year!
Ethel the Good Witch of the West

Lucy claims The Devil Made Me Do It

Ricky is a Four-eyed Alien

This weekend, a small group from my local quilt guild got together at my home to reveal the Round Robin (RR) quilts we have been working on this year.  For those of you are are not familiar with RR, the premise is as follows:
  1. Select a block and collect coordinating fabrics.  Put everything into a bag large enough to hold everything.  Include a label, notepad, and a disposable camera (optional).
  2. All participants meet and present their blocks and fabrics to the group.
  3. Hand off your bag to the next person in line in the group.  That person then adds a border, or embellishment, or row (depending on rules the group sets).
  4. The group meets again, at established intervals, i.e. once a month, or every two months, etc.  You hand off the bag you just finished to the next person in line again.  The original owner is NOT allowed to see their block's progress at each exchange.
  5. After every one's block has been passed to everyone in the group, the block (by this time a quilt) is passed back to the owner.  This is called the Reveal. 
I have participated in several RR's and I have always loved the results.  They are always unexpected because they are rarely what I would have done so they open me up to new possibilities and push my creative boundaries.

Mercy's Brickmaker's House Closeup

Mercy's Brickmaker's House
My center is a block I stitched as a sample for Elly Sienkiewicz's book Baltimore Elegence, entitled Brickmaker's House.  I love this block because my paternal grandfather was a stone mason.  I wanted to turn it into a wall hanging but was totally stumped as to how to finish it so I submitted it for my RR.  I LOVE how it turned out!  Thank you Robinette's!!!

Here are the other Robinette's finished quilts.  Please keep in mind that each quilt top was worked on by several individuals.  I think the creativity really comes through.  Enjoy the mini quilt top show. 
Until then...

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami

Jen's Peacock

Jen's Peacock Closeup

Linda's Geisha

Linda's Geisha Closeup

Carol G.'s Cottage Quilt

Carol G.'s Cottage Quilt

That's me holding up Phyllis' Crazy Patch Christmas

Phyllis' Crazy Patch Christmas Closeup

Carol S.' Desert

Carol S.' Desert Closeup

Karen's Seashore

Gerry's I Love Card Tricks

Lois' Geisha

Lois' Geisha Closeup

Friday, October 28, 2011

We All Start Somewhere, Now If I Could Only Stop... Plus, Meet Ricky!

First Applique Block
As I was cleaning out a drawer in my sewing room I found the applique block that I stitched in class with Jeana Kimball a little over 13 years ago.  It was during this class that I learned Template Free (Back Basting) preparation and needle turn applique.  It was during this class that I fell in love with hand applique.  And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Fast forward to today.  Here is the latest block I have finished.  It is the Poppy block designed by Jeana Kimball for the Cottage Garden quilt.  I also completed the House Finch block.
House Finch

Basted and Ready to Applique
I am also working on the Civil War Bride quilt by Corlis Searcey.  I have completely basted block one. 

Fist layer basted

This is the perfect pattern to pre-baste the entire block because there is minimal overlap of the applique pieces.  How does she do that you ask?  Well, first I baste everything I possibly can without overlap of the stitching line.  Where applique pieces are very close, I move the seam allowance out of the way before I baste the piece next to it. 

Possible overlap areas pinned out of the way to continue basting

In some cases I may even applique a portion of the piece down so that I can baste another piece on top of it.  The idea is to baste as much as possible to have the greatest amount of uninterrupted applique time!

Speaking of applique time....  Jeana's class, where I fell in love with hand applique, was also the beginning of my obsession that has led to a houseful of quilting UFO's (UnFinished Objects).

Realizing that many of my quilting brethren suffer from this same obsession, I wanted to pass on a technique for finishing projects that was recently passed on to me.  Now, before I share, I need to state that this came directly from my yahoo group.  I tried to research the originator but was unsuccessful.  I only found numerous references to it appearing in various blogs and quilt related newsletters.  I would like to share  THE POWER OF 10.

The "Power of 10" in quilting does not refer to a higher mathematical formula. Instead, it is a simple way to complete quilt projects that we want to finish before.

1. Simply find the projects that you are no longer interested in completing and pass them on to someone who would love it as much as you once did.

2. List 10 projects that you would like to complete. Now remember "Only 10" projects are to be on the list.

3. Begin working on the projects on the list and spend three hours toward completing it.

4. Keep a list of projects and the hours worked.

5. Once three hours are spent on a project move to the next. A quilter's interest wanes and is usually spent after three hours. Now if a project requires two to four hours it doesn't matter. Simply finish the project. Feel good about finishing it.

6. Find another project and add it to the list. Remember, only Ten Projects are your focus.

7. Continue to rotate the projects you are working on.

8. List the supplies needed to finish your projects.

9. Shop at Local Quilt Shop for items needed to finish your projects.

10. The `Power of Ten` becomes reality when you are able to share your project.

Ricky on the left, Lucy on the right

On a different topic altogether, I would like to introduce everyone to Ricky Savage.  Ricky is a 16 week old German Sheppard puppy and my birthday present.  He has bonded quite nicely with his harem, Lucy and Ethel, and is quickly realizing females rule the home!  And before you ask, Fred is going to be a goldfish!
All of our puppies have grown up to be excellent Fabric Guard Dogs.  Here is Ricky taking his Fabric Guard Dog Oath.
I promise to protect Mommy's sewing room!

Fabric Guard Dog on Duty!
 And here is Ricky on his first guard dog shift! 

Until next time...

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Updated: New Color-Coded Marking Technique for Template Free (Back Basting) Applique !

Civil War Bride pattern by Corlis Searcey

Happy autumn!  October is my favorite month of the year.  It's not as colorful here as in other parts of the US and Canada and it's still pretty hot.  But, the humidity doesn't slap you in the face when you open the front door on your way to work.  For at least a few hours in the morning it's very pleasant to be outside AND in the afternoon it's still pool weather; best of both worlds!   Plus, I love the anticipation of the holidays.  They are still far enough away that there is no stress yet but close enough to have something to look forward to.

I've been making progress on a few works in progress this past month, my Teal Baltimore and a few pieced projects.  I'm also starting a new project this month, Civil War Bride (CWB) quilt. 
CWB BOM Block 1 Fabrics from Honeybee Fabrics
I received the pattern last year for my birthday and am receiving the fabric as a BOM from Honey Bee Fabrics.

CWB Stash
To me a BOM is is a suggestion.  I always customize the fabrcis from my most fabric stash. 
I'm predicting this will be a fun project because I am doing it along with a small group of friends online.  If this is something you would be interested in, the yahoo group is called Appliqué Your Way.  We are prepping this month to begin stitching block one in November so there is still time to join if you are interested.

Speaking of prepping blocks, I would like to share a hybrid tip with all of you.   It's a hybrid because I combined tips from two appliqué artist I respect, Sandra Leichner and Jeana Kimball.  Here goes.... I have always used a pencil of some type to mark the back of my background fabric in preparation to use Template Free (Back Basting).  With very complex blocks or blocks that require a lot of stitching and handling, the pencil line will tend to fade over time and become very difficult to see.   Jeana's tip is to use a very fine line marker.  She recommends a Pigma Pen .01.  I tried this on a few projects using a sepia colored one and it worked very well.  It's now my back of background marking tool of choice.  Here's the second part...  I just received several new patterns from Sandra's collection, The Naturalist Notebook.  These patterns are complex so Sandra color codes the pattern drawing to separate the flowers, leaves, birds, etc. and make the pattern a little easier to read.  When I read her pattern I had a true AH HA moment!  Pigma Pens come in a variety of colors! 

Color-Coded tracing on the Back of the Background

So on my first CWB block I tested my idea - I traced the pattern on the back of the background using different colors so that I could easily distinguish the apples from the stems from the leaves from the vase from the table from the .....  I think you get the idea.  It may not be necessary for simple blocks but if you love complex blocks like I do (Baltimore especially) then I think this tip is going to come in very handy.  Let me know if try it.  And if you do, did you find it useful.

On word of caution - USE A VERY LIGHT HAND!!!!


Cosmos block from Jeana Kimbell's A Cottage Garden pattern

These past few weeks I have also been working on my Cosmos block for The Cottage Garden by Jeana Kimball.  I'm not crazy about how this one turned out but I'm not going to stress over it.  Remember the Cinderella Principle; Cinderella always appeared so beautiful because she was always standing next to her ugly stepsisters.  Every quilt needs a few stepsister blocks and Cosmos will be a candidate.
Well that's it for now.  Until next time...

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami

Quick Update:  Since I posted this blog this morning I have received several emails with the same question "Aren't you worried about the pen showing on the front of the block?"  My response is YES!  I was very worried about it showing through.  That is why I use a VERY LIGHT HAND with the marker and why I included the second photo closeup of the marking. It's VERY light. Also I tend to select heavier background fabrics for applique because I have found lighter weight fabrics don't hold up well to all the handling and the weight of the applique fabrics. I usually stick with Cherrywoods, Kona, and some Modas. For the Modas I avoid white or very pale colors. The Civil War Bride is on a Moda Fig in Wheat color and my Teal Baltimore is a dusty teal Moda Three Sisters. In addition, I just ordered a small set of Pigma markers on Amazon that are all .005 (the finest they make) just to be extra safe.  Finally, remember to ALWAYS test first on a scrap of background fabric!
Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami