Friday, March 23, 2012


...that's my sigh of relief. I've made it through the week and got six teenagers safely to a convention this weekend. We just had a lovely discussion about colleges which was so much fun since I spend most of my time teaching 9th graders (whom I love, but we don't talk college much).

Last night I enjoyed my "weekend" by beginning work on my wholecloth quilt!!! I'm working with Leah Day's Free Motion Quilt Along, and this is week 11: outline quilting. I LOVE the work...but it definitely took serious focus! I'm using a blush colored Isacord thread. I haven't had a single problem with threads breaking since my switch to Isacord.'s thinner, so a bobbin of Isacord lasts a lot longer than your typical quilting thread.

Here's a few shots of what I have so far:

A little later:

I'm off to a 2.5 hour meeting about how to be a great faculty advisor. It'll be a long but rewarding night. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy right?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Very Busy Week

It's been a busy week here in Greenville. Grades were due and midterms were given. It is the unfortunate wake up call for many students (most of whom have never had to study.) We're learning together though. I'm adjusting to a new generation of freshman...consequently I'm learning the importance of a quality middle school education...for their grades and my sanity. Just yesterday, in the midst of my tired delirium, I watched a student struggle with his midterm. He looked left, then up, then another upward sort of angle, then right, then just when I thought he'd look at his test again--he looked away...back to the left. At this point all I could do was laugh to keep from crying...I mean, how can they pass a test that they don't even glance at?!? So, I'm trying to hide my face as I laugh, then my students notice, and they think I'm crying--so now I'm losing it--laughing out loud. I had to tell them it was because so many of them weren't looking at their test. They thought it was funny too. It's the first class I've had that really has an appreciation for what an absolute mess (lovable, but a mess) that they are.

But...on to crafty things. For week ten of the free motion quilt along, I prepared my wholecloth quilt square. I got to borrow my future in-laws' sunroom for an amazing set of big windows I could use as a light table and came up with this:

Simple masking tape operation. I used a sewline pen to draw the lines...and I absolutely LOVE the rich fabric. Then, I pinned the backing fabric to my floor as usual with T-pins, put a square of the quilters dream recycled polyester batting in the sandwich, and pinned together. I've decided that I HATE small safety pins...and I think I put too many...

I starched with Magic Sizing...seemed to work okay. I want to try the Niagra brand starch in a spray bottle...I love the non-aerosol concept!

Well, I'm off to enjoy a night of outline quilting! Yay! My first evening without grading to do, AND I can sleep in because my kiddos don't leave for their field trip until the middle of 1st period!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Few Finished Projects

It was wonderful to have a four day weekend last week! I accomplished a lot...including one work in progress that may someday become a tutorial. It's a set of hanging file pockets: I hung it beside my file cabinet for easy access to works in progress...the sort of stuff that would normally sit around on my desk. I also was able to free motion quilt an entire quilt! I incorporated practice stitching along lines and filling in spaces with stippling, then quilted the entire quilt using the directions found here on Leah Day's Free Motion Quilt Along.
I cannot say enough good things about her blog...I feel like I've learned so much in so little time. Plus, the added bonus is that many projects can be done in small increments...perfect for a busy teacher on the go. Of course, as I start quilting more and more, I'm adding a lot of little tools, thread, and fabric scraps to my stash of supplies. How do quilters keep things organized? I've found a good tip here at Cut to Pieces, but I know there's got to be more ideas out there in blog land. Suggestions?

I bound the quilt using a quick binding process found here. Only, I used a fancy embroidery stitch...also inspired by Leah Day.

I found time to outline the lines of the wholecloth quilt for week ten of the quilt along...maybe I'll finally keep up with the week to week progress from here on out! But with a weekend-long field trip next weekend, a move to VA in three weeks, and a wedding in 98 days!!!!...I doubt it. Goodness knows I'll try!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Many works in progress

I've been having a blast with my new ("old") sewing machine--a Janome 6500 that I purchased used--and my adventures into all kinds of quilting techniques.

After finishing up a quilt top that was in progress for two years (on an old Singer), I still didn't feel comfortable quilting but knew I wanted to do more...hence, the Janome...a lucky find my mom made while scoping out a Janome dealer in town.

My first quilt top I pieced was a baby quilt in purple with multi-colored squares and dots. I tried to free motion quilt swirls in the borders, but was infuriated with thread breaks. After changing needles many times, I found that Inspira 90/14 quilting needles (mostly) solved the problem. Then, I started reading the free motion quilting project blog. Her posts about thread lead me to try Isacord...and although I've purchased a few other threads to try (Superior, YLI, Aurifil), I haven't felt the need to try them yet.

Now I'm working on a transportation themed baby quilt with all-over stippling, detailed small-scale stippling around some of the pictures, and fun swirly borders. I'm hoping to quick bind the project using this tutorial from Quilting in the Rain. But, I want to use a decorative stitch like Leah from Free Motion Quilting.
After taking my machine classes, I really wanted to try an applique project. Here's Hooterville by Brandywine Design. It needs a few more blanket stitches around some owls, but I'm ALMOST ready to piece it together! I stopped working on this to practice free motion--oh, and that whole job/apartment hunting adventure that happened mid-February. I'll pick it back up soon I'm that I'm feeling less intimidated by the idea of quilting it.
Other things to be working on include:
  • A tree skirt for Jamie--the pieces are cut, they just need to be pieced and quilted.
  • A scrappy quilt that I started piecing as an all-over free motion practice quilt (before finding the awesome transportation fabric.
  • A quilt as you go project made with the Bold and Beautiful line from Benartex to showcase some center-fill designs made by free motion quilting in pink on black. (This will be mine all mine when it's finished!)

Now I'm off to wrap up some french toast for the freezer and quilt!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Free Motion Quilt Along: Playing with Scale

Again...I'm working from Leah Day's Free Motion Quilt Along. This is more from week 3 than week 2, but I tried to work in rows as I went. I'm trying to catch up, so I figure combining a few weeks here and there might be just the ticket. Here's what I came up with:

I was going for a 1 inch, 1/4 inch, and 1/2 inch scale. I love how it changes the way the fabric looks! And I'm enjoying free motion more each time I try it.

Now I guess I'm off to try and quickly piece a simple quilt top so that I can participate in week 8. And I'll be going to the store to get a fabric panel for weeks 4-6.

Ahhh...if only there weren't so many papers to grade...but there hasn't been snow or ice, so we get two makeup days off this coming weekend. Whooohoo!

Free Motion Quilt Along Week 1

I discovered the free motion quilting project blog while visiting my family over Christmas break. A fancy app found it when I was doing a broad search for all things quilt-related. Well, besides her beautiful free motion designs, Leah Day has now started a weekly quilt-along to improve one's free motion skills. I'm starting 9 weeks behind...but at least I'm starting.

I've done a little free motion, but all on a very small scale, nothing like the large flowing loops required by week one. I very quickly figured out how often I'd have to reposition my hands without a proper quilting table. (Now I've ordered one...but that's another post for another day.)

The results turned out like this:
A close up of the large scale stippling:

And a close of the small scale stippling:

Overall, I'm really proud of the results! I'm trying a variety of thread types...this was "Garden Rose"...a shade of pink made by Isacord. I had NO problems with the polyester thread and really liked how shiny it is!