Sue Spargo Threads

I am a sucker for embroidery threads. Not really the floss that comes in hanks, but the Perl Cotton balls, the Aurifloss and, now, Sue Spargo embroidery threads.

I admire Sue Spargo’s work, because of the cheerfulness and liveliness of the designs. Her book, Stitches to Savor: A Celebration of Designs, is a favorite. I admire her work with the simple shape of the cups and want to do something similar with cakes. Can you imagine how fabulous a cake quilt would look with embroidery designs applied to it to simulate frosting and cake decorations?

Of course, given the colors I bought, the cakes would be cheerful, and, possibly, unappetizing. 😉

You may noticed that I have mentioned Sue Spargo embroidery threads a few times recently. After visiting Thistle Dew and Stitch quilt shops, I was hooked. Both shops had these threads and it was the first time I had seen them. I have a lot of Perl cotton, etc, but couldn’t help indulging in a few spools. I want them all.

I have used them on Under the Sea and they were great to use. I need to get inspired by Gerre and use them more.

Under the Sea Update

I am making some progress on Under the Sea. It is a shock, because this piece has been on my list and a UFO for YEARS. I really never thought I would finish it and here I am.

Under the Sea - Late August 2016
Under the Sea – Late August 2016

We went to Southern California for the weekend, so no sewing machine and I missed the BAMQG meeting. My DH better know I love him. 😉 I did take Under the Sea and my EPP project to work on. I didn’t do much in general – no sewing, no EPP, no quilt shop visits, but I worked on Under the Sea a little on the way home in the car.

I bought some 12wt Aurifil and have used a little of it along with the Perl Cotton that I have had laying around. It is fun to add layers of texture to this piece. The stitches are adding interest.

Under the Sea (detail) - Late August 2016
Under the Sea (detail) – Late August 2016

I am not sure about the green circles. I like them as a motif. I am not sure I like them around the turquoise dots. I don’t want to disrupt that bubble like effect.

I am hoping that the viewer won’t see them until they get closer. We’ll have to see.

Stocking Work

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I finished writing all the cards on my list last night. That means I get to work on embellishing the stockings. It is kind of a reward.

As I explained previously, these are simple felt stockings. Every year I try to embellish them a little more so they are more interesting and more special.

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Tonight I worked on DH’s stocking, the Noel stocking. I thought about adding joyeux, but I don’t think there is enough space. I am not going to change anything major, because I want to focus on the embellishing.

I went around the Noel in a blanket stitch, but I did it wrong. Still, I think it looks more interesting now than before.

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I had already done the blanket stitch on the bottom, but added some to the top, which was a little tricky.

I am not sure what to add next, so I may move on to another stocking.

Beading, maybe?

The Garden Progresses

Garden front
Garden front

I said previously that I thought this piece was finished. I took it out on Friday in order to decide for sure and decided to put a facing on it and prepare the piece for finishing. The photo, left, shows the front with the facing applied by machine. I am sad that some of the edge detail was lost in the seam allowance. I’ll have to remember to plan better next time.

This piece didn’t need as much beading as the others I have done. I am not sure why. Laziness might be a factor, but the riot of color and fabric definitely draws attention to the elements of this piece. I don’t think it needs much detail to draw the viewer in.

I am a little sad about these small pieces. I really don’t have anywhere to display them, but would really like to have wally large enough to hang all of them.

Garden back
Garden back

I am particularly fond of the back. I used different colors to quilt and intended to cover up the back with a fake, but it looks so nice that I could barely stand to cover the edges with the facing.

Now I need to stitch down the facing and make the sleeve. I have a lot of cards to write for Christmas, so I don’t know if I will be able to finish this before the end of the year, but that is definitely my goal.

Now I feel like I can work on some of the other smaller pieces on the 26 Projects List. Perhaps I will do a blog post about each one as well?

Lil Sissy Prezzies

Gifts
Gifts

My little sister (taller than me, BTW) is back from France. With her came some presents. I have a nice sister. 😉

The black Eiffel Tower print is the one I picked out when I bought my Kindle cover off of Etsy. I like it.

I have an idea for a quilt that I want to make for Lil Sissy, but haven’t found the right fabric. I don’t think Eiffel Tower fabric would work, but we will see. I almost used Hello Luscious, but she is not much of a pink girl and that line has a lot of pink.

Stockings were not Hung

Felt Stockings
Felt Stockings

A few years ago we remodeled part of our house (bleah! what a process). In the course of that months long nightmare, which was worth it in the end, much of our non-essential stuff went to storage. Since the contractors promised the project would be finished by Thanksgiving, our Christmas stuff went, too. HA! The Christmas stuff returned, but the original stockings have never been recovered. I have no idea what happened to them. I suppose they will turn up eventually.

As stockings are part of our Christmas tradition, I whipped up some felt “beauties,” which have become what we use.

As you know, my quilter is out of commission and Kissy Fish is done. I find myself frequently without handwork to do in the evenings. When I saw the stockings, I remembered the embellishing I had done on the card holders a few years ago and was inspired to embellish the stockings a bit.

Felt stockings detail
Felt stockings detail

I started out with a few buttons, though I did use all the good and interesting white ones on the cardholders. I used some Oliver Twist silver thread to sew them on. I also started to do a buttonhole stitch around the bottom edge of a couple of the stockings to make that edge look more interesting. One of the stockings has a tree on it and I definitely see some sequin ‘ornaments’ in its future! I think, as Anne Shirley would say, “there is a lot of scope for imagination.”

Of course, I have a lot of cards to write and gifts to assemble, but I see this little project as a nice respite between the craziness. It could be ongoing as I am inspired to add more. It is also a good way to try out different techniques, stitches and embellishments.

Beach Town Finished!

Beach Town Front
Beach Town Front

Yes, boys and girls, I finally finished Beach Town. You can read about starting it in the post about the Pamela Allen class from last year. I liked looking at the piece in that post (one of the things I LOVE about blogging!), because I could see the differences including all of the handwork I have added.

Beach Town Back
Beach Town Back

I made a smaller version of the Robbi Joy Eklow sleeve (from her book Free Expression) for this piece. I don’t know if it will ever be hung using a rod, but it is ready if someone wants to hang it that way.

One of the things I need to think through when I use this technique in the future is the back and the label. I like to include the label as a part of the back. As you may have noticed, I often piece the back and include the label in that piecing. This allows me (or my quilter) to quilt over the label so that it cannot be removed if the quilt is stolen. Jill, one of the creative prompt participants, talks about this in her recent blog post.

Another reason I piece the back is that I have the fabric, so I might as well use it.

Smaller quilts, and particularly this Pamelala technique are free form and quick. The maker usually lays down the back and batting first with no opportunity to piece the back or make a label. When I take a Pamela Allen class again, perhaps I should just put down the batting and work on the back later?

The Return of Kissy Fish

Kissy Fish Full, Nov. 2009
Kissy Fish Full, Nov. 2009

Back in the Quilting Arts Dark Ages, they showed some embroidery stitches over a series of pages. Somehow those embroidery stitches combined with a viewing of  quilt artist Susan Carlson’s work on Simply Quilts inspired me to get started on Kissy Fish.

As an aside: I am not getting back to the bleary photos, this piece is really, no REALLY, hard to photograph with the equipment I have.

This piece is covered with shiny things that reflect the light: beads, french ribbon, thread with metallic bits. It is on the list to be professionally photographed. Anyway.

Kissy Fish, detail 1
Kissy Fish, detail 1

The stitches I used most frequently on this piece are called Feather Stitch. It was highlighted in Quilting Arts #1. It was really fun to see how the stitches added to the piece and helped it develop. It was fun to see how I could make each bit of kelp different with beads, varying widths of thread, etc.

Kissy Fish, detail 2
Kissy Fish, detail 2

One of the things I knew about this piece was that it wasn’t intended to be a masterpiece. It was intended to be a test. It has turned out much better than a test.

I also never intended it to be hung as a quilt is hung. I always intended that it would be framed and hung like a piece of traditional art. That is still my plan.

I think the hand embroidery is mostly done. As I do on many of my Pamela pieces, I went about the process backwards. I did the embroidery first and now am thinking I need to do more quilting.  Machine quilting. I’ll have to seriously think about it, because I don’t want to break the beads or my careful stitching.

Christmas Early

Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist

I have a number of tote bags with different projects in them. The idea is to be able to “grab and go.” The Big Game (we won, in case you needed to know) was this weekend. It is, generally, the family kickoff to the holiday season. I needed a project. Since I finished the handwork on Beach Town, I had nothing on the front burner. I grabbed an old project bag and found Christmas!

Really, I found a project called Kissy Fish. I haven’t worked on it seriously for awhile. I was pretty close to being done, so I brought it with me to the game. I’ll talk about Kissy Fish in another post some day.

The bag was a pit. It was obvious that the last few times I worked on it, I threw stuff into it willy nilly. Unearthing it was fun! I found great stuff that I had forgotten I had, like 8 packs of Oliver Twist threads! Who knows how long they have been in the bottom of the bag, but they are out now.  I also found a bunch of beads and other stuff I haven’t seen in ages. There were a bunch of spools of Aurifil, Madeira and Perl cotton.

It is really like an early Christmas gift. I can’t wait to get my hands on those Oliver Twist thread.

Tarts Embellishing

Last week (or so), I posted about some embellishing that I wanted to do. La, one of my FB readers and a friend, said that she needed to see the whole piece not just the details. Here is my initial attempts at embellishing. Check out the previous post if you want to see details.

Tarts with Embellishing, #1
Tarts with Embellishing, #1
Chocolate Pot with Embellishing
Chocolate Pot with Embellishing

After looking at this audition for a few days, I decided that there was too much going on in the Chocolate pot area (upper left), so no embellishing. At the same time I noticed that the tea kettle (lower left) was looking a little lonely.

Tea Kettle, 3 stars
Tea Kettle, 3 stars

I have some star buttons that I bought to make The Child some fun garment when he was tiny. It never got made and I have been looking for something to do with the buttons. Perhaps embellishing the Tarts will be their ultimate home?

Tea Kettle, 5 stars
Tea Kettle, 5 stars

I kind of like the 5 stars. I am liking having some of the embellishments cross the block boundaries.

Grey Tea Pot, with circles
Grey Tea Pot, with circles

I have tried a couple of different things with the grey tea pot. One is red circles. They are okay, but I think I like the hearts better. Still, as Lorraine Torrence says “make visual decisions visually.”

Grey Tea Pot, with stars
Grey Tea Pot, with stars

Since I had the stars out anyway, I thought I would try them. I thought they might work since the yellow could spark up the purple. Yellow is also opposite purple on the color wheel. No dice. There is something about that purple that the yellow could not help. I like that purple, but I am finding it hard to work with…today.

Tarts Embellishing, #3
Tarts Embellishing, #3

I took a picture of the whole thing with the red circles. The circles don’t work for me.

Fluttering Hearts
Fluttering Hearts

I like the hearts best. TFQ pointed out that they would be very difficult to applique’. I think I am up for the challenge. It would be better if I found some heart buttons, but I need some that aren’t too cutesy. I’ll look around.

Tarts with Embellishing, #2
Tarts with Embellishing, #2

Here is a full view with the 5 stars and the hearts back on the grey curvy tea pot (upper right).

Beach Town Update

Beach Town, Oct. 2009
Beach Town, Oct. 2009

We bought Tivo recently and it has revolutionized my world. Last night, while I was alone, I went downstairs to catch up on some shows, and brought Beach Town with me. With the show quilts off and the Flowering Snowball still in waiting mode, I thought it would be a good opportunity to make some progress on this piece. I noticed that it had been a long time since I posted a photo of it. You guys have never seen the quilting.

I really felt good working on this project. As I worked, I found that this project may not need as much embroidery/embellishing as House & Garden. I tried to figure out why. I don’t know for sure, but think that there is a lot more going on in this piece in terms of fabric – lots more commercial fabric with patterns on it. I also think that there are a lot more details, such as the flowers, the variety of beach houses, the tree, etc. I am going to do some embellishing on the pink striped cabana and add some windows and doors to the other houses.  I am not sure what other type of Perl cotton embellishment this calls for.

I do feel like the piece needs some beads or sequins. I’ll have to think about that some more before I rush into anything. I dug out my Therese De Dillmont Complete Guide to Needlework (Amazon doesn’t have my exact edition and no photo, sorry), a reprint of ancient book that I got somewhere. I wanted to see what stitches they suggested so that I could, perhaps, learn some new stitches for this piece as well as Kissy Fish. I haven’t done much else on that front thus far.

The first task last night was to rip out some of the stitching I did when I was in SoCal at the beginning of September. I really shouldn’t stitch when I am upset, because I end up ripping it out anyway.

Beach Town Window detail
Beach Town Window detail

I ripped out the blue zigzag stitching around the windows of the green house. It looked too subtle for me. I also didn’t like the unevenness of it. I wanted it to stand out and be more of an element.

Beach Town Window Redone, detail
Beach Town Window Redone, detail

The zigzag stitching is still around the window, as you can see, but I took it outside of the window frame so it is much more wonky and ‘alive’. I think it looks better. I do want to make sure I stay away from the spooky house look.

Beach Town Sun, detail
Beach Town Sun, detail

I had embellished the sun with some of Laura Wasilowski’s hand dyed Perl cotton early on. I didn’t like the look,  because the sun was just too puffy. I like my quilts densely quilted. I machine quilted the sun in a spiral, mimicking the handwork and carefully avoiding the existing Perl cotton. Quilting in a spiral isn’t for the faint of heart, but I took it slowly and am pleased with the results.

So, that is your Beach Town update for the duration. As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Beach Town Progress

Beach Town, June 7, 2009
Beach Town, June 7, 2009

I spent 10 hours in my workroom on Sunday. I spent most of it machine quilting Beach Town. The piece is relatively small, so I was surprised that it took so much work. The really surprising thing is that I have more machine quilting to go!

It was surprising, because I thought I did most of the machine quilting during my last session. It turns out that I  really wanted the quilting much closer together. I filled in some areas I already done. The new areas were quilted much closer together – only about 1-2 stitches apart.

The skinny tree needs some more stitching. It is raveling away and I’d like to save it before it goes completely.

Beach Town, Machine Quilting detail
Beach Town, Machine Quilting detail

I really hope you can see the machine quilting in this picture, because that is how it is almost all over the piece. There are a few sections left to do, but the bulk is done.

I was thinking, for future Pamela pieces, that I really needed to get the machine quilting done before I start in on the hand stitching. Not that the hand stitching hampered my machine quilting at all. It just makes better sense to do the machine work first and finish with the hand work.

New Stuff

I saw the cupcake fabric on the Camilla Knits blog (See also blogroll). It is right under the A in Happy. I immediately was inspired to make a bag. Who woldn’t laugh seeing someone carrying a cupcake bag around? Then, I thought it would be unprofessional. TFQ reminded me: WHO CARES??!! I bought it. I sent email, but eventually had to call Clementine’s Dry Goods to actually get the fabric in the mail. Lovely that I did, because I spoke with the most helpful/ customer service oriented person. She didn’t bat an eye when I said that I was calling about a fabric that I had seen in a picture on the Camilla Knits blog. The fabric arrived two days later (no, I didn’t pay for fast shipping) in the lovely little package the you see above with a free Kaffe dots FQ. I’ll have to go and buy stuff there more often.

I would actually like to go to the store and look around. The photos look like it is a wonderfully inviting place. I like the look of the high gloss shelves and I adore those Ladies. I hope to convince DH that I need them for the living room. You can stop laughing now.

I bought these ribbon at the EBHQ show from the Quilted Gypsy, down from the Seattle area. I love these ribbon and want to put them on a bag. I haven’t done it yet, obviously, so another thing to add to your Stay Tuned! pile.

Joyce at Quilting Adventures had a bag contest. I heard about it and sent off the French bag and the Alexander Henry bag. As TFQ predicted, the Alexander Henry bag won a judges choice prize. The prize was the above pack of three FQs (above). So nice! The QA staff got a great photo of it here. You can also see the other bags that won in QA’s Bag Contest Winners post. I am thrilled. What a shot in the arm for me doing a project series that is just kind of playing around.


My sister loves Paris. She went in April despite upcoming end of the semester papers and finals. Since she was there, I sent her to Le Rouvray and she picked out the above fabrics for me. I think they look very French apartment curtains-style.

Make CHEERFUL Quilts

EBHQ Show April 12-13, 2008

The East Bay Heritage Quilters held their bi-annual show last weekend at the Oakland Convention Center. The best part of the weekend was that TFQ came down to visit and go to the show with me. As usual, I took a lot of pictures. TFQ has a new camera, so her photos are included in the group, which I have added to Flickr.

The show was well hung with plenty of room to look and photograph. The lighting was excellent and while well attended, it wasn’t so crowded that we had to fight with people to see the quilts. The disappointing part of the show was the brown. The overall impression of the show was that there was a preponderance of quilts made from brown or beige or some equally depressing color. These were not the rich chocolate browns of dark chocolate, but the sad, world weary browns of a country/area that is sad.

The above quilt, by Carol Lee Blangsted, a former president of EBHQ, was probably my favorite in the show. The fabric didn’t make my heart sing, but the design was wonderful and the quilt was well executed. Ithought it was a good design for the lovely large print fabrics available now.

The shopping was ok, but there weren’t nearly enough vendors selling fabrics and there were barely any fabrics from any of the new groups that have come out recently. Their loss was Black Cat’s gain.

We spent a lot of time at Black Cat chatting and looking at the fabric. We didn’t get as much bang for our buck, but the fabric choices were fantastic.

I did buy a few fabrics at the show, and one booth, a friend of TFQ’s, had luscious ribbon (see right side of picture above). As you can see dots are still the rage in my life!

I was also on a button kick. The totes require a button and I have been at a loss to find the right ones for various projects. I stocked up at Britex on Friday and partook of one booth’s antique buttons at the show.

The above fabrics were a gift from TFQ. YAY!

Making Lemonade

When you have lemons, make lemonade.
As you know, the machine is gone and I can’t work on the Pineapples (Well, I suppose I could, but I want to be sure all of the problems are consistent by using the same machine). I have a Janome Jem, which I have only used a handful of times, so I have formulated a list of other things I can work on while giving the Jem a little workout. Here it is:

  • 6 baby blankets: three friends/colleagues are having babies-2 each
  • Binding for Sharon’s quilt.
  • Binding for Serendipity Puzzle.
  • Gift bags: I have lots of fabric for bags, and Christmas is coming.
  • Cut out fabric for test blocks. I am going to start looking at new machines soon and I want to have some piecing in my own fabrics, which I can use to test the machines.
  • Wash and press new fabric.
  • Replenish Pineapple strips.

I also have a lot of hand work, which I can now work on since the thimble came back from vacation:

  • Pamela’s self portrait from June 2006
  • Pamela’s garden from June 2006
  • Pamela’s house and garden from May 2007
  • Kissy Fish

So now I am going to get off my duff (computer) and start some of these projects.

One good thing about the machine being gone is that I could get a good picture of the Pineapple blocks.