Florine Johnson Designs - Hand & Fusible Rooster Appliques for Quilts & Crafts

Joy of Quilting: Part 1

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!




The possessed mouse

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.

Still learning After All These Years

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.

Making space, using machines and grinding wheat.

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.     

Sewing lessons & finishing

The other day I decided it was time to finish a big project.  All that was left was to finish the binding on 1 1/2 sides.  When I looked at the quilt, I realized I did not remember which needle was in the sewing machine when I did the other 2 1/2 sides, I didn't know what the settings were on the machine as to length and width of the stitch, nor did I know which thread I had used to sew it with.

After making a couple of sample stitches, I figured out the length and width.  Only after going through that process did I realize that I had, indeed, made a notation on an index card of that information.  I still needed to match up the thread, even if it would not show on the finished quilt. 

This quilt was cut and basted in the 1940's.  It's a large (approximately 100" x 100") Hawaiian quilt of red on white background.  A friend purchased it from the cutter/baster's son in the mid-1990's.  I hand appliqued it in exchange for some hand quilting on another quilt of mine.  It took more than a few years to do that.  My friend, Alice, sold it to me in 2007, as she decided she didn't want to hand quilt it.  Now we're up to 4 owners and 2 workers. 

I put off getting it quilted for a long time as I debated trying to get it hand quilted or have it machine quilted.  I do not hand quilt and, besides, I would be insane to make my first attempt at hand quilting on something so big and scary.  

I took the quilt to Richard Hood, in Buford, GA, to do the honors of quilting it on his long arm machine in 2011.  I brought it home and let it sit for a long time.  Then I realized it was taking up too much room in my sewing studio and I should "get to it and do it" as a great aunt used to say.  I could have written a book about the quilt on the label but got it cut down to the basic information. 

Now I'm ready to finish the binding in the next few days.  My lesson learned?  Always make a note about the project I'm working on as to thread, needles, length and width settings and any other pertinent information about the project....just in case I don't get to it in a year or two or 73!  I plan to write all the information on a card and attach it to the project or the pattern, or the main fabric before putting it aside for another day.