Friday, September 27, 2013

LE Part 4 finished

Well it is a week since my surgery and I am beginning to feel much better. The pain meds still make me a bit wonky but I feel my motivation returning, enough that I was able to put the finishing touches on LE part 4 this morning.

I used the 1/8 inch bias for most of my stems but added the tiny ones with little embroidered chain stitches and really think they added the perfect finish to the bouquet. I also added a little butterfly to remind me of my surgery and recovery while working on LE. I truly feel this surgery will make my quality of life much better, a rebirth of sorts as I have been in pain for so long and it is fun to add little touches to LE to remind me of the journey. And just for fun here are a few more close ups.

I am glad that I have several things prepped to continue with my hand stitching but I am really looking forward to more broderie perse with part 5.

Thanks again for the well wishes. It has been a blessing to hear from you.

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The view from my chair

Well. My back surgery is finished and after a few complications, I am home working on recovery. Thanks for all the well wishes, it really has helped.

I am happy to report that I am able to do a little stitching and am able to walk around to house with the aid of a walker. Each day there is a little improvement and already much of the leg pain I have had for several years has declined.

So here is what I see from my chair. You can see I am all set up for a little handwork. Now just to get motivated!

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

LE and Broderie Perse

At last the excitement really begins with the addition of the flower vase corners in LE. I have looked forward to this part for months! As I have mentioned before, I purchased some Dutch chintz for this project before the pattern was even released, hoping that I would be able to use it for broderie perse and was delighted to find that it was perfect! However before beginning I shopped my stash to look for other fabric options to include as well. I have only used this technique once before and was not concerned with the background color of the fabric because I was just appliquéing individual flowers. However, when looking at antique quilts I saw that usually the background fabric of the floral fabric matched the background of the quilt so that the stitching did not need to be so precise and so that more details could be kept. With that in mind I ended up eliminating most of the fabrics with darker backgrounds and here is the resulting pile of fabric.

The front left fabric is my Dutch chintz focus fabric. I have 1/2 yard of this fabric - I wish I had more but at $40/yd it will have to do. There are 2 fat quarters of different chintz and then a few fabrics from the stash with similar colors and style of flowers.

I first looked at the pattern to determine the approximate size of flowers that I would need and then began cutting and placing a few. The first few I think I cut too small a seem allowance so we will see how the stitching goes. Anyway, using the pattern as a general guideline I just kept cutting and placing flowers. The pattern was on my light box so I was able to see it through the fabric when placing the flowers. Here is the arrangement of flowers.

As you can see the tiny bias stems that I made in the previous post are also in place. Those were added after the flowers in a way that made sense with the design. Originally I wanted to embroider the stems but I am liking these. Once the leaves and flowers are stitched there will still need to be a few tiny stems added and these will be embroidered. I actually selected the vase fabric first as it helped me visualize the arrangement as I went. After completing the arrangement this far I started auditioning fabrics for the hearts.

I decided on these and then added the hearts and filled the arrangement with leaves.

I had trouble deciding about the leaves. Broderie perse or not. As you see I decided to just cut them out green fabric from templates. I just like the look. And the little sprays where the pattern shows stems and berries are just cut from fabric and will be stitched down with the background showing to keep all the detail intact. Hope that works!

And here are a few of the flowers that got rejected for this vase. Some were cut from a fabric with a red background. I love the flowers but they just didn't seem to work well with the others. Hopefully some of the remaining flowers will make their way into one of the next vases. I must say this process has me hooked. It was just so much fun arranging the bouquet. Now to get stitching! Oh and you might notice a pile of blue pointed ovals from part 3, more samples as I am thinking I might be changing out my originals. I have decided not to make that decision til after all the vases of flowers are stitched!

On a final note, thanks to all for the well wishes on my upcoming back surgery. I have lots of handwork prepped for the long recovery and look forward to reading the blogs and seeing progress on LE. Hope to be back soon!

Happy stitching!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Making tiny bias stems

Eek, I just wrote this post and lost it before posting. So I will give this another go.
LE part 4 was released yesterday, a delightful surprise as it was a day early. After looking at the pattern I decided to try a new bias making tool to see if I could easily make those tiny stems. I have used the Clover bias makers for years but they don't make a 1/8 size so I have used other techniques when I need a tiny stem. A few months ago I ran across the Simplicity tool at my local Joann's. It is a tip for the Simplicity bias maker machine but I thought I would try it. My first attempt was not too successful but this time I was more motivated and I figured out how to make it work. These tips will work with bias makers of any size but are especially important for the tiny ones.

Here are the various bias makers and the finished stems. The widest one looks uneven but it isn't - blame my lousy photography skills.

First you need to cut bias strips. Very important that they are on the bias if you want the stems to curve. Usually the strips are cut at twice the finished width but for the tiny strips I found that this was not quite big enough. I ended up cutting them just slightly wider than 1/4 in. Only bigger by about 1/16 inch but it helped.

I then sprayed the strip with Mary's Best Press (you could use starch). When I am making a bunch of these I put the strips in a Baggie and spray into the Baggie til all the strips are damp. This is much easier and less messy than doing them one at a time and the bag keeps them damp while I am working.

Before inserting the strip into the tool I press the end of the strip until dry. This stiffens it so that it is easier to push through the bias maker. It is also important that the end of the strip is cut into a point.

I also need to have a pin handy as it is used to help push the fabric along. The fabric is inserted between the pink plastic and the metal at the wide end and then using the pin I coax it along towards the tip.

Here is where it gets tricky. This tip has a long pointy end and the fabric just starts getting stuck. I found that if I used the pin on the underside I was able to just push it out the end. Again, kinda tricky but doable!

And I pull the end out a bit to start the pressing.

Well maybe a bit more than that. Start pressing while gently and slowly pulling the tool away from the ironing moving the iron along with the tool. It is very important to keep the fabric centered at the wider end so that both sided of the stem will be turned under. I found this worked much better if I went quite slowly.

And that is it. A nice little stem ready to be stitched.

And after about an hour I had this pile of stems ready for LE. Next post I will show you how I used them.

Happy stitching!

Friday, September 13, 2013


Sometimes life slips a detour into the road we are traveling and I have recently run into another one. After many years of issues with my sciatica, a recent MRI and consultation with doctors has determined that I need back surgery. I suspected this was coming as I have had difficulty walking without significant pain for several months but somehow I figured that it would be a relatively minor non invasive surgery that I had heard others speak about. Sadly that is not the case as there is too much damage in my spine and possible permanent nerve damage so I need the surgery ASAP and that means I am going under the knife next Thursday, Sept 19 for a Lumbar fusion. Yuck. I will be in a back brace for 4 to 6 weeks and will be under major restrictions which means my sewing will be limited at best.
So before surgery I am working hard prepping several appliqué projects so that I will have had work to keep me from going crazy during my recovery time. Not much time for blogging now but I am sure I will be catching up after surgery.
For now, here are a few more of the blocks I have finished for Tuella and Friends.

And here is how far I have progressed in the Aiming for Accuracy QAL. I am sad that I will not be able to keep up with this one as it finishes but hope it won't be too long before I am cutting and stitching on the machine again!

Happy Stitching.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Two more finished Blocks

I feel like I am working at a breakneck pace this week. Here are two more finished blocks for the Tuella and Friends quilt.

And I have finished prepping all the blocks this morning. Well I better get back to sewing.
Happy stitching!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My new start Tuella and Friends

Some surprising news has given me the inspiration for my next handwork project. This Tuella and Friends appliqué quilt should be a sweet addition to a little girl's room.

I have been planning on making this quilt for awhile but have been stuck because I could not find an outer border fabric I like but since it needs to be finished quickly I decided to just jump in. I have been prepping blocks for 3 days and my sewing room is a disaster!

Since I am going in a different color direction than the pattern, I started by making all the background blocks and sashing areas first. Hopefully this way my colors will end up pretty balanced. Here are a few blocks prepped on my design wall.

And a few blocks sewn and embroidered.

Such fun and a perfect project to work on until the next part of LE is released.