Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Thread Hits the Fan. . . and the fabric

All the greenery is now on the house block. Whoopee! You wouldn't believe how long the happy dance lasted when that happened. Or maybe you would. Anyway, I secured tear away interfacing to the entire house block, which by the way, measures 41" x 36" untrimmed and without borders.

Interfacing can perform a variety of functions. It can help a garment retain shape, say for a shirt collar staying firm. It can be used to secure one piece of fabric on top of another. It can also be used to temporarily keep the fabric stiff so that when sewing through the fabric, the fabric doesn't get pushed down into the throat plate of the sewing machine. That's what I'm using it for right now because this step of construction involves making sure every piece of each block is secured with thread. If this were a paper collage, it'd be the sealant part. When I've finished stitching around the fabric, then I will tear off the interfacing from the back side. Technically I could leave it on but it wouldn't make for a very soft quilt if I did.

The original plan was to secure the pieces with monofilament thread. At some point in the past, there was a genius yet sadomasochistic quilter. Maybe it wasn't a quilter, maybe it was a tailor, but the genius and sadomasochist part still hold true. Monofilament is nearly invisible thread. If you thought "Isn't that just fishing line?" then you're right. How appropriate for a quilt with two very large fish on it. Anyway, having a thread that can secure things and be invisible is a great idea. In reality, this stuff is awful to work with. My machine decided to throw a hissy and refused to work with it. It created huge snarls of thread under the test fabric and thank all the higher powers of creation that I did work with test fabric instead of the blocks! It broke titanium coated needles. I fiddled with top thread tension and bobbin tension over and over and after two hours of frustration I decided that monofilament was no longer an option and the creator of said technique had a wonderful idea but to actually follow through with it on his or her own work and then tell others they should use it too was extremely cruel.

At that point I knew instead of thread painting throughout the blocks as an embellishment was going to have to be ramped up. The whole thing was going to have to be thread painted. I ran off to the fabric shop to get even more coordinating threads. By the way, in case you are ever doing this, the trick on picking thread is to pick things that are darker than the fabric you want it to go with. The darker colors tend to be skipped over a bit more by the eye so it's not as obvious that it's thread and not fabric. If you are not closely looking at the block, it blends beautifully. If you're closely looking at the block, "Gee, look at that, there's darker thread around everything."

This doesn't really add more time to the construction process because I was going to be going over everything anyway. It does make it more nerve wracking because now if I am not in precise control of the fabric moving under the needle at all times, I will have to do some dreaded "frogging." Rip it, rip it, rip it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung at least in this part of Oregon. JR's been keeping the windows open to air out the apartment so I've been freezing to death. Thus, I broke out my yarn and a crochet hook and made myself this mobius wrap.

A few of my quilting buddies have mentioned so I decided to take a peek and ended up joining. It's an online community that welcomes folks to chat about everything plus share their yarn related projects made via knitting or crocheting and such. I love looking at all the eye candy. Many people contribute patterns of their own creation and most people take the time to show where their pattern came from. It has a bunch of handy tools, one of which lets you mark a project as something you'd like to make in the future. I, of course, have already marked more than I'll be able to make should I live to see the year 2109.

Another fantastic find I made is Yarnia. It's a shop that allows you to create your own yarn. You pick the strands you want to be spun on a cone together. The yarn isn't worsted (meaning twisted/wrapped) but because it's all wound on with the same tension, it isn't difficult to crochet (or knit) with. The prices are unbelievable, anywhere from 1/3 - 2/3 less than what you'd pay anywhere else. Pretty exciting stuff! Between Yarnia and Ravelry, I'm sure I'll be able to get into tons of trouble for several years.

The outdoor gazebo with the fireplace is now proudly placed on the house block of the bass quilt. I was puzzled by what I should do with the part that looks to be glass enclosing the fire, so I decided some grey would do the trick. I'm still adding greenery... snip snip snip, look at here, move it there, nudge it a little more then voilĂ ! Time to set the adhesive with and iron and pray I don't change my mind.

I'm hyperventilating at the thought of starting the thread painting. That means it's that much closer to being done, and OMG, what if I mess it up so bad I have to remake a block? AUGH! The torment! Those of you that lean towards prayer or meditation, please thing good thoughts for me. I'll lose my remaining marbles.

In May I will be taking a class to learn how to use Jodi Barrows' Square in a Square block construction method. Sharon Rice, owner of the LQS (local quilt shop) Sharon's Attic just down the road from me, learned the method from Jodi herself. Apparently in her home alone, Jodi has over 2,000 completed quilts. No, that's not a typo. Two thousand quilts. Yes, some of them are miniatures but still, that's a thousand and several hundred more than most quilters get done in their lifetime. So maybe after I learn this method, my production speed will be upped a bit. One can only hope!

Lastly, another new find is Knittn' Kitten. They are a craft supply resale shop. Whodathunk you can get great stuff like fabric, yarn, thread, notions, beads and so forth at faboo prices? I'm in heaven!

The owners comb through thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets and garage sales to stock their store but better yet, you can bring in stuff that makes you wonder what you had planned for it when you bought it. You'll get a reasonable price for it and know that it will find a happy home with another crafter that will actually use it! I went through all my clothing patterns and took a bunch in. I know I can't be the only sewer out there that bought patterns from three different companies all for the same style dress. There are only two things that bum me out about Knittin' Kitten, they're closed two days a week (Sunday and Monday) and they don't do online sales. Though their stock changes so drastically, no online sales kinda makes sense. Oh, they also have some glorious vintage linens and quilts.

Feel free to drop me a line and tell me what you're working on!