A note from Florine ~After the Joys of Quilting...Part 1, I mentioned that Part 2 would be next week. As it turned out, I was a few months off! Sometimes life gets in your way and stops you from doing what you should be doing. No excuses here, just that there were reasons for not getting back to this blogging right away.
At that point in my life as a quilter, I am neither good at piecing, nor am I good at hand applique. So I joined the East Cobb Quilters Guild in Marietta, Georgia, to see what I could learn from that group of over 200 quilters.
After attending a couple of ECQG meetings, a new zip code bee was formed in my area. I joined that group too. At that first bee meeting, everyone was very polite and smiling a lot. After the meeting, my cheeks were aching from all that smiling. Being a loner, I wondered if my cheek muscles could stand that much work once a month. But within a few months, we grew to know each other and the meetings became one of sharing and rollicking laughter. Joining the Nimble Thimble Bee was a very good thing to do.
At one of the ECQG meetings I learned of a shop in Stone Mountain, GA, (No longer open) called the Village Quilt Shop owned by Joyce Selin. Wanting to see what the shop was like, I drove for 45 minutes to get there. I was stopped in my tracks when I saw Joyce's Baltimore Album quilt hanging on the wall. That's when the desire to learn hand applique became an obsession for me. I MADE THE DECISION* to become competent at hand applique and promptly signed up for a year long series of monthly classes.
Joyce started us with Elly Sienkiewicz's books on Baltimore Album blocks. Attached is a photo of my very first block. I was hooked! For the approximately next five years I worked on hand applique, trying to perfect my stitches and learning how to do all those dimensional flowers. I was making block after block, but not putting anything together. Just blocks.
Around that time I was also fortunate to meet an international group of quilters. Unfortunately though, through them I gained an international reputation as someone who never finished anything. But I did. I really did. I finished blocks.
Recently a well known teacher said, “I don't make quilts. I make blocks.” Do you know how relieved I was to learn I wasn't the only one making blocks instead of quilts?
Next time (please note, I didn't specify when but I will try monthly at least) I will talk about learning to do the stitches and how bad I was to begin with. DECIDE!
* DECISIONS can really change your life!
I've tried other types of hand work from stab stitching of several kits ordered through Good Housekeeping magazine back in the early 1960's, one of an oriental style tree, to knitting, crochet, crewel work, cross stitch and finally to quilting. Starting with a class on the basics of a sampler quilt given by Sherry Lundquist, I thought I would love piecing. I've always been fascinated with machines of all kinds, so using a sewing machine was right up my alley...or so I thought.
Naturally, it turned out that hand applique was to be my "thing." To a lot of quilters, HAND is a four letter word that should be avoided whenever possible. I used to think that too. The first hand applique block Sherry instructed us to work on was a decently sized heart. Oh, the peaks and valleys I managed to sew around those curved edges of that heart. Horrors! During the next class I told her, "Don't ask me to hand applique ever again, because I can't (read won't) do it."
A few months later a Sunbonnet Sue design crossed my path. By this time my brain had forgotten the agony of the bad stitching on that heart. How hard could this design be to applique, I asked myself. Well, that Sunbonnet Sue never became a finished block. My hand applique stitches were just as horrible as they were on that first heart.
Meantime, I took a class on a miniature Grandmother's Flower Garden wall hanging taught by Pauline Speaks in Stone Mountain, Georgia. I could do a credible whip stitch to put those 1" pieces together. Yea! That project became a finished top... but is yet to be quilted all these years later. It's just another UFO (Unfinished Object) languishing in a box with a lot of other UFO's. BTW, I'm the queen of UFO's in my quilt guild. They even gave me a crown. I do have an excuse though. Really.
Watch for Part 2, next week.
I normally make my bindings for a quilt double the width, and then the length plus some around it so I can miter the corners.
A while back I signed up for a class with Lauren Vicek to make a small wall hanging with lots of handwork with glittery sequins and beads on it. I was dazzled by the sparkly tiny flower sequins and the way everything looked on that small piece. When it came to the binding, I decided to use 4 strips of single fold binding so I could use one fabric for 2 sides and the other 2 sides of another fabric. Everything was going well until I had to put the project aside for several months.
When I picked up the project again to finish the 4th side of the binding, I was stumped. I couldn't remember how to do a single binding and finish off the corners. I had done it on the other sides without problems, but just could not remember. I tried folding the binding in half, but then it wouldn't reach over the edge around to the back. Not only that, but even looking at the other corners, I couldn't figure out how to finish the ends.
After fiddling with the binding, it finally dawned on me that I was trying to put a double binding on instead of a single layer binding on as I had with the other 3 sides. Duh! From there, it was easy to figure out how to finish off the ends. Whew!
I truly believe that I shouldn't be allowed to change programs or do anything to the computer other than just working with the programs I know how to use.
The other day my personal folders in the e-mail section (Thunderbird) disappeared. I started doing that panic thing. What had I recently done? I had added Adobe Flash something or other and then deleted it because it might be the cause of my problems. There was something else I had upgraded, but that shouldn't have made all my folders disappear. Just to make life complete, my mouse was possessed. It was running all over the screen like a chicken with its head cut off. I couldn't tame it.
After several days of this, I took it to the local guru computer company. In 24 hours it was back. Today the mouse took off again without me so I trucked it back to the shop. Of course, by the time I got there (5 minutes?) the mouse was working just fine, thank you. Geez.
I will stick with it as it is working as of this minute, but if it misbehaves again, back to the shop it will go.
By the way, the tech guy showed me a teeny, tiny triangle up by the incoming e-mail area. Somehow I had clicked on it and it turned off my folders. One tiny click and they were back. So simple, yet so frustrating when you don't know the trick of turning it off and on.
Back to the studio.
I'm taking a little time to try different methods for hand applique. I really do enjoy learning new things. Over the years, I've taken classes from various applique teachers and have practiced much.
The other day it was small circles. Now there are such things as "perfect circles," but I've never come that close to accomplishing them. Trying a method of making my circle templates out of Templar, I have learned how to make "darned near perfect circles." Yes! With more practice I may be able to make "almost perfect circles."
Next, it will be stems. I learned how to make skinny stems from Judy Simmons years ago, but am willing to try other methods. That's how we find out which is best for us. After doing some wider bias stems a long time ago and trying to get them to bend really sharply like an upside down "U" for a block of Poppies, there didn't seem any way to eliminate a bunch of wrinkles in the bending part. Afterward it occurred to me that just tracing the stems on freezer paper just as they were drawn, and then cutting that out of fabric would have been much easier way to stitch them down. Duh.
Sometimes it's a good thing to experiment and then stop and think about how it might be done easier, better and more simply.
Off to the studio.
What do you do when you need space in the cupboards? Take out some of the old things in there? We did and we found some sealed buckets of grains purchased at least 5 or more years ago. One was of unground wheat.
We also have a Vita Mix machine that's about the same age, but until recently hadn't been used as it could have been. Being a bit adventurous, we decided to put the Vita Mix and some of the wheat together to see if we could make flour. Then we could test the flour to see if it would make a good small loaf of bread. So we did. The flour tasted fine so we went on to the next step. Using our bread machine, we put it to work and in about 5 hours, out came a terrific small loaf of bread. The bread has no preservatives, the wheat was still very good, the machines worked perfectly and we are tickled about the result of our experiment.
My husband has been using the bread making machine for some time by buying flour at the grocery store. We will be experimenting with the other grains we have discovered in those high up shelves to see what else we can make. If we're ever without electricity, we may have to get a grinding stone to make flour and learn how to knead bread by hand. Oops, guess we'd have to have a solar oven to bake it though.