Saturday, October 31, 2015


No wonder our area is such an attraction for fall tourists.  These are untouched photos, right from my iphone in our subdivision at about 3,200 feet elevation.

Friday, October 30, 2015


I always enjoy (require) handwork projects to pass away evenings while the TV blares 'guy' shows that have anything and everything to do with wheels and engines.

Here's what I've accomplished lately.....
MAPLE LEAF  9" x 12"
Artist hand-dyed, shibori printed, ice-microwave dyed, & mono printed wool that features bead embroidery.  It's mounted on a canvas covered frame, fabric backed with a hanging device. 
Here's another view.....I've been told for 25 years how difficult my work is to photograph.....the camera has such a difficult time translating shiny beads and fabric backgrounds.  So, after literally 2 hours of photographing this quilt....this is the best I can totally depends upon the lighting!  The detail photo below provides the best depiction.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Here's some of the things my pals were working on...
Kate brought this previously stenciled piece (using thinned acrylic paints).  She thought the contrast of the muslin was too stark and has begun tempering the background using an oil based paint can see one section near the top left that hasn't been done yet.
Val cleverly made stencils using freezer paper.  She's using a gold metallic paint stick....applied to a piece of freezer paper....then transfers the paint onto a toothbrush and finally onto the fabric. 
 Val feels there is much more control using that kind of brush rather than the more traditional stencil brush.  AND....she's right....but we always admire whatever Val does.
Gen also used Judy's 'crackle' stencil.....layering over a previously painted background.
Kate brought a piece from last month's dye painting day featuring circles, but she felt it needed more.  So after folding and with extra hands.....I painted the edges of the folds, following Kate's directions. All of us laughing so hard as she squealed.....more here....less here.....oh....dab some over there......
Here are some faces to go with the names I'm bantering about.....L to R - Gen, Judy, & Kate.
After opening....Kate did a happy dance!
 Our show and tells are always so inspiring.  For ages, Gen has been wanting to experiment with Citra Solv.  Here are a few of the art pages she created using Citra Solv (a degreaser) and National Geographic magazine pages.  There's lots of info online about this almost miraculous method so there's no need for me the explain it.  Here are two examples to get you started:  youtube and here. 

Gen also brought some of the painted fabrics we did last month.....several of us were into making strips and others into circles....or both!!

This final photo is what's left of my lovely dyed felted wool pieces shown yesterday......disappointing!  I'm not sure what happened....I've dyed National Nonwoven felted wool many times before. It's just another one of life's mysteries.  Next month we are going to work on collages......I suspect I can give these failures a 2nd chance somehow.

Oh....and those pine needles.???.....yup....all the dye washed out of them too. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


 The Fiber Junkies tried to squeeze in one more outdoor day of art therapy as  the end of October nears.  As always, we had a great time after, even if we got off to a sluggish start. Member Denny is in the midst of a family emergency that may not allow her to join us for some time to come.  Being the most experimentally minded among us.....she was definitely missed.
 Though it rained all day with temperatures in the mid 50's......we soldiered on in Val's garage.  We had decided to work with resists (but as usual not all of us stuck with the theme...grinning), instead some played with whatever else we all brought.

I wanted to see if these dried pine needles would accept dye....I used thickened mx procion of this writing, it's still batching and I'll report results asap.
 Not really having a specific agenda myself....I brought some previously dyed/painted pieces to perk up. This is National Nonwoven's Bamboo/Rayon blend that was dyed several years ago.
 Judy had been on a stencil shopping spree and generously shared them, along with leftover thinned acrylic paints.  She uses empty spray butter bottles...genius!
I used two different stencils.  While moving the stencil after my very first spray attempt....the pooled dye dripped onto the fabric. That was a tad disappointing, until I realized the sploshes actually provided interest....allowing me to be fairly sloppy as I continued altering the piece.
 This piece of Woolfelt (National Nonwoven's 80/20) was painted with acrylic several years ago.  I remember using a sheet of stick on holes (from the office supply store) as the mask.....but that's all I can recall.
 Gen had a really neat small stencil featuring scribbling.......this time I tried to carefully turn the stencil over to print using the leftover thinned acrylic dye, but basically it printed only blobs of color.  Over all thought, when this is cut up it's going to be useful somewhere.
 Val (our gracious and well prepared hostess) had mixed some soda ash to accompany the leftover thickened dyes she offered for our use.  These little squares of felted wool were soaked in soda ash and printed using the 'crackle' stencil Judy had.  LOVE the look.....As I packed up for the day, I noticed the designs were no longer very crisp....the dyes started migrating.....that may be good or bad......after batching and washing....I'll show those results.
 This is another piece of National Nonwovens Woolfelt....soaked in soda ash.  It  was printed with thickened mx Procion dye and another one of Judy's great stencils.
I may over-dye it as I'm not crazy about the felt's 'creamsicle' color.

Come back again to see the 2nd part of our Fiber Junkies 'refusal to let summer go' day......

Sunday, October 25, 2015

PACKERS BYE WEEK will be a quiet Sunday for us the Packers have a Bye week. My Packer gear awaits next weeks' Sunday night game when the Pack play the Broncos.....should be a nail biting game!!
GO PACK GO!!!!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Okay....enuff of the sewing machine's time to appreciate the 
colors of fall........
We do our daily 'forced march' early in the morning.....the sun was just 
coming over the the contrast of dark and light.....
This is the view of our property from the road.....I'm like a soon 
as I see the house I begin to pick up the pace to get back to the 'barn'........

Friday, October 23, 2015

ANOTHER MACHINE CLIFF HANGER......'s another cliff hanger in the continuing saga to purchase a sewing machine that will sew a balanced straight stitch, 1/4" seam, also allowing the patches to remain the same length/size as they were cut.

For anyone new to my blog....go back to my Oct. 8th post and start reading....sorry, you'll have to wade through some that aren't related to the new machine quest.

I pondered in one of my 'almost rants'....that perhaps sewing machine manufacturers are trying to develop one-size fits all machines, but instead have created ones that may not do anything well.

The focus seems to be on machine embroidery or perhaps even FM quilting....why it's seemingly not important to provide an even and balanced straight stitch right out of the box that cost several thousand dollars is beyond me.
Two weeks ago today, after returning the VERY disappointing Pfaff Expressions 4.2, I brought home a Janome 8900.  Was thrilled with it at first.....but now....I've spent nearly the entire passing two weeks testing, adjusting, testing to find the right combination of settings. should not be necessary to change the bobbin/top thread/pressure foot, stitch length and width when the machine has a dedicated 1/4" stitch setting!!!  AND....the darn thing refuses to stitch....even wind a bobbin with the 'new easy' needle plate in place.

Before continuing.....I want to give a shout out to Sarah Ann Smith, and a thank you to blogger follower Kris for telling me about Sarah's blog. She has generously spent oodles of time by email and phone helping me troubleshoot the issues I was having.  Thank you, thank you Sarah!!!!

Let me say...of course I could have gone back to the dealer....but since it's 90+ minutes away - ONE WAY.....and given that I've had extensive training on both Pfaff and Bernina's.....I kept hard could this be??  Goodness.....I know how to balance tension etc.
The machine did okay with my first 2" patch project....but when I began sewing these blocks with ONLY 7 patches but longer strips, no matter how VERY carefully I sewed.....not a single one came out to the exact size I needed.  After the first two it dawned on me, even though I couldn't detect any puckering or gathering...and the strips ends all met.....that somehow during the sewing process, the strips 'shrunk' in length.  This was after I carefully adjusted the width from the preset of 8.3 to 9.0 and length from 1.8 to 2.4 and yes even after using the Accufeed feature.....they didn't measure correctly.

Thankfully, my plan is to put sashing between the blocks so they don't actually have to meet exactly, but what if I wanted to make a more complicated precise pieced quilt?  Nope...this wasn't working......

How can this be?? Is this my 2nd lemon machine?  Am I that much of a perfectionist??  Here's my second shout out....I'm grateful to the Janome dealer - Judy's Sewing in Taylors, SC for their integrity.....  Despite thinking a mere two weeks ago that I was purchasing the newest 8900 model....NOT so, mine has completely disappeared from the Janome website and replaced with a new (blue face) one.  Judy is ordering this newer model for me and will make an even exchange.  They will work on my previous one and hopefully figure out what the problem was so future buyers won't experience this frustration.  In this day of businesses appearing not to have the interest of their customers in mind.....not so for this stand up dealer.

So....again....the cliff hanger.....once I get the new one.....I'll be reporting back....for's handwork for me.....

Thursday, October 22, 2015


As I began to piece blocks with more patches, the accuracy I experienced stitching the small one-patch (polka dot happy) quilt has disappeared.  Now, more hours than I care to admit to have been wasted trying to figure out WHY??? and ascertaining what settings/feet should be used on this (still new to me) Janome 8900.

Today I'm doing methodical comparison stitch testing and perhaps the mystery will be solved.  It's ridiculous that this is so should be able to sit at a sewing machine that costs thousands of dollars and sew a simple straight line accurate seam the first, second, and forever time!!  Perhaps gremlins have invaded my studio and are messing with me!
 A dear friend has an enormous fabric which I have been the beneficiary many times over.  Thank you Helen!!  Here you see 4 LARGE USPS boxes, stuffed with oriental designed fabrics.  Excellent quality I might add.
First let me say, this is not my style nor color preference.....lots of purples, pinks, and lots of gold.  But, why not consider that a challenge!?!  I've made several successful lap quilts featuring small patches which were easier to incorporate, yet that hardly made a dent in the collection. 

Even though I had color coordinated the fabric for storage, somehow nearly every piece ends up out of the boxes, searching for the right combination.
It seems a shame not to highlight the various scenes depicted in the majority of the fabrics. I thought that working with larger patches would also make decision making easier, it was just the opposite. The prints are so busy.  The block I've chosen requires specific orientation for cutting and placement, making the process more tedious.  Okay....I'll admit it.....selecting these fabrics took me HOURS.....seriously!  Maybe someone who works with this style frequently could make the selection licky-split....alas I couldn't.

So.....onward.....the boxes are put away and I'm working with these fabrics - do or die!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Sometimes a happy little quilt is just the right project!!

27.25" x 27.25"
Cotton fabric, machine pieced and quilted.

Monday, October 19, 2015


After a week getting acquainted with my new machine - Janome are some further impressions. This may be of zero interest to most of you......but I so appreciated the reviews I read when hunting for a new machine...perhaps my experiences will be valuable to somebody.  

It's fairly hover over your delete button and feel free to press it!
It seemed like a good idea to make a small quilt - start to finish, to see how the experience/quality compares to my dead as a doornail Pfaff. 

The pre-programed 1/4" patchwork setting, along with the 1/4" foot proved to be quite accurate.  The setting shortens the stitch length to 1.8 but I prefer 2.0, so I changed that setting. I mentioned this in a previous post, but it's worth saying again.....the presser foot's metal guide really helped me to keep the fabric feeding evenly. Though I expected to have to use the Accufeed foot for this purpose, I found it wasn't necessary.

Also......I LOVE that this machine still has a presser foot lever (and a button as well).....most new machines seem to have eliminated them in favor of a foot controller and/or button that raises and lowers the foot.  After 40 years of sewing.....just give me the darn lever!!
AND, now some thoughts about the Accufeed system.  I found attaching it to be a hassle...though with more experience it probably won't be.  I was truly spoiled with the Pfaff's one click - on/off option. 

The straight line quilting was done using the smaller of the two Accufeed attachments.  It was necessary to move the needle when stitching to the right of the seam to obtain a 1/4" distance....but this machine has like 91 needle positions so that wasn't a problem....the only problem was remembering to make that change when I went to that side of the seam!

The finished piece was pucker-free with no distortions of the patchwork or backing.  However, I'm not completely satisfied with the quality of the top thread stitches.  This may seem overly picky to some.....but when passing over seams, I found the presser foot to jump a bit, causing some slanted or crooked stitches and the inability to keep the presser foot right on the seam line.  It was almost as if the foot didn't grab the fabric enough allowing it to wobble. I changed that setting to increase the foot pressure, but then I got puckering. I also reduced the speed which helped some but didn't eliminate the problem. Again, this might be an issue of practice on my part.

Another thought I had later....isn't that always the case "later"......I was using Aurifil 50 Wt. in both top and bobbin.  However, the spool was fitted horizontally, instead of vertically which I always did with my Pfaff.  The quality of stitches when sewing the patchwork was just fine, but perhaps when machine quilting....using the Accufeed system....I need to try the spool in the vertical position. next came the binding.  I was unable to get the bulk of the quilt/binding under the narrow Accufeed foot.....I'll try it again another time.....but that day, I couldn't.  Instead I had to take the darn thing off, and put on the larger one, and fitted it with the optional 1/4" foot (doesn't come with the machine but the dealer threw in it....Yeah).  

Again, the metal guide was so helpful.....BUT.....when I came to the bulky mitered corner....yikes....I had a lot of trouble getting it to start when I turned the corner.......the stitches tended to pile up.  This may be operator inexperience using such a bulky foot??

Another issue.....when the two ends of the binding were to be joined on the bias, I could not for the life of me do it with this foot attached. It would not grab the fabric....instead.....stitches piled up.  Nor could I see....the foot is BIG and here the metal guide was a hinderance.  So, off it came.  I gave up on the Accufeed system and used the regular 1/4" foot instead to complete the job.  This was very annoying...and I found myself cursing Pfaff for ruining their once great sewing machines!!!

Perhaps now that I know this is the case.....I'll simply switch out the Accufeed system at this point, which means unscrewing the shank and putting the regular one back on.....and accept that will be the process and it won't honk me off (so much) anymore.
And then.....once the binding was on, I planned to quilt one more final line around the quilt....1/4" to the left of the binding seam line.  Well......this too was a problem....since I was actually quilting I felt I should use out came the screw driver again to put it back on.  (Yes, perhaps I should have done that step before the binding was on....BUT, I wanted it to be very accurate and figured doing it afterwards would give me the best chance!)

Geesh.....again, I could NOT get it started at the top of the quilt....stitches piled up...but when I tugged seemed to grab and stitched fine.  However, a good 1/4" of ugly stitches remained at the top.  I tried and tried, got sick of ripping out the tiny stitches.  So, I changed back to the regular 1/4" foot - minus Accufeed - and stitched the lines.  (as seen above)
I'm fairly certain I'd never actually quilt this way...though these stitches look lovely (better than the Accufeed ones when going over seams). However, I had to be really careful as it had a tendency to pucker/pleat where the blocks met.  

Happily, another machine feature: the speed control - allowed me to reduce the speed, making it easier to control the stitching.

As soon as the binding is hand stitched to the back......I'll post a's simply a fun little piece, nothing more, nothing less.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


This is the kind of celebration all Packer fans hope to see after today's game.
Will it be 6-0 today??  
Say it with me.....GO PACK GO!!!

Friday, October 16, 2015


My project list has been stalled lately...but now I'm back on track.  Here's how I'm spending my evenings.

 This felted wool fabric has been dyed, shibori painted, ice-microwave dyed, and in a final attempt to turn it into a usable piece of was mono-printed and now I'm a happy camper.  (I used the other half of this piece here.)

It screamed fall to I've gathered beads and set out to create a maple leaf.
 Marking this type of fabric is very problematic....but I figured out a solution for projects like this a long time ago.  The design is sketched onto a piece of Pellon non-fusible interfacing which I always use anyway as a stablizer when beading.(it's white but looks tan in this photo...sorry about that)
 I'm not a fan of spray basting but do utilize it for this lightly spraying the wrong side of the fabric to secure the interfacing.  Next, using an open toe embroidery foot...and contrasting thread in the bobbin.....the design lines are stitched.
 ........Which are visible on the right side.  Not quite so much in this photo but well enough for me to see when I'm beading.
 I ALWAYS secure my work in a Q-snap frame for beading.....and use a portable cutting/pressing board to help support. My work station for evening stitching is a denim couch and all too often accompanied by a large black lab!!
The veins are finished and the tedious (yet enjoyable for me) task of securing seed beads onto the felted wool has begun. Getting the right angle of the lines has been a challenge, causing more removal than I would like but I think I'm now on the right track.

I'm linking to:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, Crazy Mom Sews, and Richard and Tanya Quilts.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015


I need to remind myself.....folks plan entire vacations and trips to the mountains to enjoy the display of glorious fall color....and all I have to do is step outside!

And each day it gets so much better than this....