Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pick 10 projects. Sounds easy? Believe me, it's not!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  I send best wishes to each and every reader.  Even if you don't live in the US and do not celebrate the holiday, please take a moment along with us to give thanks for the joy and comfort quilting brings.  Quilters worldwide are very fortunate to be members of a generous, creative community.  For this, I am truly grateful.

American Album

Before you continue reading, if you did not read my previous blog We All Start Somewhere, please take a minute now to read it or else you will feel like you walked into the middle of a movie and the plot will not make any sense.
Civil War Bride
After I wrote to all of you about the Power of 10, I set out to apply it to my own endless stack of projects that range anywhere in progress from "sew on a binding" to "gleam in my eye".  Below is an excerpt of the conversation with myself as I set about putting the Power of 10 into practice.

Pick 10 projects!  No problem. Done.   Work only 3 hours on each and move on to the next one.  Hmm...okay.   I really wanted to stitch on my project some more.   Now the next one.   Uhhh...wait a minute.  I'm not sure I love this project enough to spend my precious 3 hours on it! Okay, leave it for last and go on to the next one.  But, I haven't been able to find a background fabric I love for this project yet.  Okay, next.  
Teal Baltimore
Very long story short, I ended up revising my list several times and my productivity did not increase.  Instead I spend my precious free time re-working my list.  However, I did learn a few important lessons that I would like to share so that hopefully you will not repeat my mistakes.

1.  If you are going to limit yourself to 10 projects, only pick projects you LOVE!  If you don't have 10 that fit the category then pick 3 or 7 or 17.  The key is LOVE.  Otherwise, you will not stitch on it or, if you do, you will resent it, and look for excuses to NOT sit and quilt.
Christmas Surprise
2.  It is very important to keep all your current projects (the ones you are actively working on) in a state such that you can sit and sew, baste, quilt, cut, embroider, etc. at all times.  This may be 1 project or 100 projects.  Always be ready to quilt when you have a few spare minutes or a free afternoon.
Baltimore Liberty
3.  If a project is waiting in the wings but it's still missing a critical piece, e.g. the perfect background or if already pieced/appliqued the perfect backing etc., and you want it on your Current Projects List, plan a shopping trip to you local quilt shop or you stash (yes, you can shop your stash; you will be surprised what you have and have forgotten!)  ONLY after you have all the pieces and parts assembled, do you add it to your list. Otherwise, you will waste precious sewing time holding the pattern in your hands and daydreaming.  Ask me how I know!

All that being said, here's my Current Project List, in no particular order:

1.       Baltimore Row

2.       A Christmas surprise for my husband so I cannot name it here

3.       Blue Moon

4.       Civil War Bride

5.       A Cottage Garden

6.       Baltimore Liberty

7.       Teal Baltimore

8.       American Album

9.       Spring Flowers

10.   Naturalist Notebook
Baltimore Row
A Cottage Garden
I also have several projects on my "I Should Be Working On or Finishing" List.  However, they do not meet my criteria so I removed them from my Current Project List.  I am much happier, I am making progress, and stitching is FUN again! 

Until next time ...   Happy Thanksgiving! 

Ricky's in training for the Thanksgiving feast!
Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Template Free (Back Basting) When the Fabric is Scarce...Plus Fabric Guard Dog in Action!

Hello blog-o-sphere friends! This blog is a direct result of several emails I received recently regarding the best way to make use of limited fabric to prepare applique the Template Free (Back Basting) way.  Sometimes this happens because no matter HOW BIG our stash, the PERFECT fabric is just a tiny scrap.  Most commonly, this happens because we sign up for a Block Of the Month (BOM) and the designer or person packaging the kits uses applique prep techniques that are more frugal with fabric.  Another reason is that with the price of cotton fabrics sky rocketing quilt shop owners are trying to keep kits affordable.  Following is a Pictorial Tutorial of how I tackle this situation.  In addition, if you would like to review various techniques, including Template Free (Back Basting) preparation, Applique Points, Inner Curves, Outer Curves, Fussy Placement, etc., please use the links on the right hand side of this page titled, Pictorial Tutorials. As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions. 

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami

PS - Make sure you scroll to the bottom to see Ricky's latest adventure!

Trace design on back of background as usual.

Here is a small piece of fabric that will be the three flowers in the design.

Pin mark the seam allowance around the first flower.

This is what the pin marking looks like from the front of the background.

Use the pin marks on the front to guide placement of the applique fabric.  Get the edge of the fabric as close as you can to the pin marks.

Pin applique fabric in place. Baste and trim as usual.

Pin mark the next flower.

Repeat the process of using the pin marks on the front to guide placement of the applique fabric.  Again, get the fabric edge as close as possible to the pin marks.

Sometimes you can save fabric by pinning multiple shapes at the same time.  Just make sure there is room for a seam allowance between the shapes. Baste and trim as usual.


Here is Jim holding up a Superman pillowcase I made for him as a thank you for being my Superman and grilling for my Round Robin group this past weekend.

Of course it didn't take long for Ricky and Jim to discover the pillowcase scraps.  It seems that this is what all the Fabric Guard Dogs are wearing this year!

Good boy Ricky!  You nabbed your first fabric thief!

Please no cameras, I have a secret identity to protect!