Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crazy Quilt International Novice Round Robin

I believe I mentioned in a previous post that I stumbled across an amazing blog while researching ideas for my first crazy quilt.  All of the "eye candy" on the Crazy Quilting International Blog inspired me to join their groups on Yahoo.

On July 15th, I will participate in my first round robin with the group.  There are 5 of us in this round robin.  We each make a block and send it on to one of the other ladies.  The lady that receives our block will embellish one-fourth of the seams and spaces on the block.  Then they will mail it to the next lady, and so on.  In the end, we will each receive our own blocks back, with all of the work completed by the other four ladies.

As shown in a previous post, I used waste canvas to cross-stitch this as the centerpiece for my round robin block.

1st Attempt
A few days ago, I attempted to assemble the block.  Unfortunately, with a rectangular center, the method I was using to create my block left it very square.  After a while, I figured out how to make the sections less regular, but it simply did not fit with the incredibly linear sections I had already made.  As you can plainly see.

Completed Block
Today, I took the time to redo the block, and I am much happier with it now.  There are more angles.  Although, I must admit that I told my dear husband I almost wish I would have found a pattern to assemble this block.  His response was very similar to the thoughts that encouraged me to make the block on my own, "Wouldn't that take the crazy out of crazy quilt?"

There are still a few square corners, and that is fine - it will fit with my plans for the block once it returns home in November.

The block is 15-inches, though only 12 inches will be embellished.  The blue basted seam indicates the edges of the block, where my seam lines will be.  The block is intentionally larger so it will fit into a hoop without stretching the fabrics of the block itself.  Now, I'm off to finish stitching around the edges to keep the fabrics from fraying too much.  I have to admit, I cannot wait to see the magic the ladies perform on this in the upcoming months!  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 20

After 20 days of working on my crazy quilt, I have two completed blocks and one ready to embellish!  This morning, I finished the February block.

I was undecided about how I wanted to make a vine along the right side of the block.  A feather stitch? A fly stitch? Or, maybe, a chain stitch? Decisions, decisions!  In the end, I opted to use a chain stitch with DMC light green cotton floss 368.  Next, I added beads for the centers of flowers.  (If I were to make this again, I would stitch the flowers and THEN add the beads.  It would make the lazy daisy stitches a lot easier.)

The larger beads are Pink Pearl 6/0 Czech Glass E-beads.  I used DMC rayon floss S818 to sew them on.  The smaller beads are Darice Jewelry Designer Glass Inside Luster Seed Beads 10/0-pink.  DMC rayon S899 matched perfectly to attach these beads.  Next, I added lazy daisy stitches to make the flowers, using the variegated pink DMC 4180 cotton floss.
 My stitches are not quite even; but they are improving, and I will take that.

It took me a few days to get up the nerve to make this little vine.  I had an idea in my mind and really hoped the final product would look like my mental picture.  It came pretty close.  (Though, I do admit, I used a white chalk pencil to sketch the vine on the fabric before I began.  I did not want my curves to end up pointy like they did with the stem stitched seam along the top of the block.)  I had so much making the vine, I was sorry I took so long!

The block simply did not look finished to me with the blank space in the red section to the left of "February."  So, I decided to make a silk ribbon flower using a straight stitch.  I found a 7mm cream-colored silk ribbon from the kit I had on hand.  Then, I used another pink pearl Czech bead for the center of the flower.  The straight stitches really did not turn out even.  The petals are longer on the left than they are on the right.  However, looking at the block as a whole, it does not bother me nearly as much, so I opted not to pull it all out and start again.  (I was not sure how well the fabric would handle a re-do, either.)

It amazes me that some floss, ribbons, buttons and beads can make such an amazing transformation.  I cannot wait to see how the January block unfolds!


February "Naked" Block
February block completed!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 19

I wish I had something more exciting to share, but I have not made a ton of progress the past few days.

Silver Falls State Park
I spent Saturday shopping with my mom and preparing for a camping trip with my family.  On Sunday, we drove to Silver Falls State Park to stay a few nights in a cabin we rented.  It has been years since we last visited Silver Falls, and I still love it there.  This was our first time renting a cabin.  Normally, we take a tent.  Of course, it rained while we were there... This is Oregon, after all! (And it is absolutely beautiful outside, now that we are home!) Needless to say, we were very thankful for the cabin.  The sun came out long enough to make some great memories, play some frisbee and to take a 3-mile hike.  We played Small World and Rummy in the cabin while it rained.  It was nice and cozy.

We arrived home last night, and I was determined to put together the block for the Round Robin I am going to participate in next month.  So, I went to work (at 9:30 p.m.) and began making that block, and my January block.  It was a late night - lol!

Unfortunately, I was unhappy with how "square" my Round Robin block was turning out.  I finally figured out a way to fix that, but I was so far into the project that the block simply did not work.  It was not cohesive.  I hoped to fix it today, but I have been busy catching up on laundry and chores after our camping adventure and playing with my boys.

Round Robin Block - Attempt 1

This is how the Round Robin block looked before I began pulling seams today.  I am happy with most of the colors.  As much as I like the heart fabric at the top, the red hearts make it a lot darker than the other pinks.  It may not be in the revised version.  We'll see...







January Block
Here is the January block.  I am anxious to begin working on this one, as ideas are already brewing.  I just need to finish up February first!

I did make the block a few inches larger this time, taking suggestions from a couple of crazy quilters with the Crazy Quilting International Yahoo Group.  The pink basting stitch marks the seam lines of the block.  This should be another fun one to watch transform into something new.


I wish you all a fantastic Wednesday evening!
-Renee

Weekly Goal Updates

Last Week’s Goals:
Writing: 2000 words (beginning word count 2870) – FAILED – I did not touch it…
Running: 3 days (up to 3 miles each) – MET! The run on trails at Silver Falls was the most fun!
Sewing:  Assemble crazy quilt block for Novice Round Robin #6 through Crazy Quilting International and keep working on my unfinished quilt top – MET – sort of… I am not happy with the RR block, so I will redo it today
Crazy Quilt: Complete February block – FAILED – almost done, but I did make the January block while I made the round robin block, so I am happy with my progress!

Highlights of the week:
Spending an afternoon with my mom.
Attending a Portland Timbers soccer game for the first time with my family and with great friends.  
Camping at Silver Falls with my hubby and my boys (in spite of the rain!)

New Goals:
Writing: 500 words (beginning word count 2870) – the smaller amount should get me started, and once I begin, I should exceed this goal.  
Running: Run 3 days (up to 3 miles each)
Sewing : Re-do crazy quilt block for Round Robin #6, continue work on unfinished quilt top
Crazy Quilt: Complete February block and begin January block

Pictures of the January block and the improved RR#6 block should be posted soon!

I wish you all a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 18

I know it is traditional to have a spider/spiderweb on a crazy quilt, as they were believed to bring good luck to the quilter.  Personally, I feel I have more than enough of them on my October block.  They simply did not seem fitting for the February block I am working on, so I have no intention of adding them.  Perhaps Mr. Spider disagreed.  Perhaps he wanted to protest.  Okay, maybe not; but, I sat down last night to work on my next seam and no more than inserted the needle into the fabric before I spied him.  He was larger than a silver dollar and nearly on my knee.  I'm not sure if he crept out from the crevice between two sections of our couch, or if he had been there for a while.  I do know I screamed.  Loud. I jumped up so fast my husband began laughing from the other room.  And that quick little fellow scurried over the back of the couch and disappeared.  On the bright side, our sofa is very well vacuumed.  My hubby even flipped the sections upside down and I cleaned every crevice in the wood and fabric underneath them  (though there was not much there, so we're not sure where my creepy visitor was living.  Just as I gave up hope of ever finding the not-so-little guy (and my peace of mind), Monkey nearly stepped on him because he blended in so well with the wood floors in the hallway.  Then my knight in shining armor (my husband) picked the big guy up by the legs and set him loose outside to feast on garden pests.

Quite some time after all the excitement, I actually did manage to make some progress on the February block.  I made my first loop-stitch seam using 2 strands of DMC white cotton floss beneath the "Be Mine" fabric.  I also added a button.  (This was not my first button of choice, but it looks MUCH better than the first one did.)

Loop stitch
Next, I used a new floss - it is another EdMar floss, but this one is LOLA (not Iris) 093.  I bought it because I liked the variegated pinks and blues.  I had no idea it would be so elastic.  My fears that the elasticity might make it difficult to work with were completely unfounded.  I liked it so much, I hope to begin growing a stash of other colors.  Using a single strand, I made 4 butterflies.  Four lazy daisy stitches constructed the bodies and straight stitches topped with colonial knots made the antennae.

Lazy Daisy, Straight Stitch and Colonial Knot Butterflies












As you can see, February is almost finished.  I hope you all have a great day!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 17

After spending nearly two days reviewing lots of pictures on-line and in the books I checked out from the library, I finally decided what to do next on the February block.

Originally, I planned to make a vine of roses using silk ribbon embroidery within the creamy white rectangle.  However, I was not sure how to go about starting the vine without it looking out of place because of the other seam work. I debated stitching in a scroll, and making that into the vine.  In the end, I took another path entirely.

Inspired by two pictures I found within the albums of the Crazy Quilting International Yahoo Group, one of a rose tree planted in a lovely appliqued cup and the other of a topiary, I decided to use a cute little button I picked up for a pot and to have a small, round rose tree sprout out of it.  My next dilemma... what to use?!  I wanted a variety of color and the only silk ribbon I had enough of would be a bright green and bright red.  Actually, I was leaning toward using red to help balance out the block.  But I wanted different hues.  So, I decided to learn a new technique and make bullion stitched roses using a couple shades of red and the same Edmar variegated green 079 that I had already used within the block for the leaves.

Bullion Stitched Rose - 3rd practice attempt (in other colors)
I was incredibly thankful I practiced the bullion stitches before I attempted making them on the actual block.  It took me three attempts to even begin to like my work.  And I learned a few important things about using a bullion stitch (or bullion knot.)  First, needles matter.  Using a needle that widens near the eye makes this stitch not only challenging, but down-right hard.  Not fun.  I switched to a smaller needle and it made ALL the difference.  Second, make sure the loops around the needle are even prior to pulling the thread all the way through.  If the loops are too loose at the base of the needle, the stitch looks sloppy.

Rose Tree
 It was fun to watch this come together!  I used 2 strands of DMC 321, 815 and 498 to stitch the five roses.  (Each rose was only one color.  This did not add variation to the individual roses, but it did to the overall motif.)  And only one strand of the Edmar Iris 079 was used for the leaves.


About two weeks ago, I had an appointment near Portland.  So, I looked on-line and found a little shop that sold buttons and beads.  Acorns and Threads specializes in counted cross-stitch.  Let us say, it is a very good thing I do not live any closer - I could do some damage to my pocketbook with all of the buttons and beads I found!  I was pleasantly surprised to find 4mm silk ribbon too!  That is a stash I will need to build slowly (again, I could be quite dangerous.)  At the time, I was not sure exactly how I would use this lovely little button.  I thought it would go well with my May block (April showers bring May flowers), but I like it just where it is!  DMC floss 739 matched it quite nicely.

Once it was completed, I wished I had made the stem (2 strands of DMC 801 used to make 2 side-by-side stem-stitched columns) longer or placed the entire motif a bit higher.  My eldest (nicknamed Monkey) suggested I add blue and purple butterflies.  It was the perfect opportunity to use the variegated pink/purple/blue DMC 4215! Using two strands, I made four lazy daisy stitches for the wings and a bullion stitch for each body.  Then I used two strands of the light pink DMC S818 to make two straight stitches topped with French knots for the antennae.

You can almost see the delicate butterfly trail on the right (there is one extending to the left as well.)
Completed rectangle

I tried to place a third butterfly positioned to fly off the block at the upper-left part of the creamy rectangle, but it just did not look right.  Yet, it seemed too bare on its own.  So, I took Monkey's other suggestion and stitched in the butterfly trails.  Not wanting to detract from the roses below, I used a single strand of DMC Ecru cotton floss.  It made a very subtle embellishment that I was quite pleased with.

Block at end of Day 17
Now to decide what to do with the far right side.  Stick with my original plan, or be brave enough to attempt the new idea I have been toying with... I am leaning toward the latter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Crazy Quilting Day 16

I did not make a ton of progress, but I replaced the chain-stem rosettes with a seam treatment I was much happier with!  It was pretty simple, too.

Using 2 strands of red DMC 304, I made 5 straight stitches of the same length, fanning out from the same central point.  Next, I used 2 strands of white to place a French knot at the end of each straight stitch and make lazy daisy stitches between them.

The pattern extends to the edge (and slightly past) my quarter-inch seam, and I am okay with that.  My goal is to avoid placing buttons or beads too close, so they will not interfere with machine sewing the blocks into a quilt.  However, I may make an exception with this block, because the beaded lace I added to the upper-left corner already requires hand stitching this block in place.

At the end of Day 16, my second block has progressed to the photo at the right.  There are only 4 seam treatments to go, and a few motifs.  Ideas are brewing in my little mind.  I hope they turn out the way I picture them!



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Weekly Goal Updates

I would love to say I improved this week, but I think I slipped further behind this week.

Last week's goals:
Writing: 2000 words (beginning word count 2870) - Failed - did not touch it. 
Running: 3 days (minimum of 20 minutes) - Failed - ran 1 day (and worked out another)
Sewing: Assemble crazy quilt block for Novice Round Robin #6 through Crazy Quilting International and keep working on my unfinished quilt top - Failed.  I need to test some of the fabrics I want to use for the Round Robin block to be sure they will not split if they are embroidered (as 2 fabrics tried to do on my October block.)  I did not work on the quilt top.
Crazy Quilt: Complete at least 7 seams and/or motifs on the February block - Exceeded!  (Hmm... I wonder what I am doing with all of my "spare" time?!)  I completed 3 motifs and 8 seams (I think.)

New Goals:
Writing: 2000 words (beginning word count 2870)
Running: 3 days (up to 3 miles each)
Sewing:  Assemble crazy quilt block for Novice Round Robin #6 through Crazy Quilting International and keep working on my unfinished quilt top
Crazy Quilt: Complete February block

Crazy Quilt Day 15

Yesterday was an opportunity to practice the stem stitch.  I think it is safe to say that I need more practice with curvy stem-stitched lines.  The green vine (2 strands DMC S702) started off pretty well - looking kind of hilly.  However, near the end it looked more like volcanoes.  The small, lazy daisy flowers (2 strands DMC S666) make that problem a bit less noticeable.

 Stem Stitch (vine + February), Straight Stitch (flower stem), Straight Stitch (flower stem)

I also used the stem stitch to "write" February on the block with 2 strands of DMC 33607.  (I opted not to use the applique block after all, so I need to add 3 more beads to the seam below that section.)  A couple of years ago, I wanted to purchase Photoshop to play with some of my pictures.  My husband talked me into trying Gimp2, free software available on-line, first.  I tried it and I liked it.  (I still have a lot to learn with that, too!)  I played around with some of the fonts on Gimp2 to help me figure out how I wanted to put the name of the month on this block.  I decided upon the Designer 2 font.  I printed it out on paper (along with ideas for my future blocks that I cannot wait to try!)  Next, I traced the word on the wrong side of the page with a fine-tipped Sharpie.  I taped the paper to a window.  With the muslin side of my block facing me, I positioned the block over the paper, lining the reverse image of the word where I wanted to stitch it.  Using a regular pencil, I lightly traced the word.  This became my pattern.  It did not turn out too bad.  (Did I mention I need to work on curves and the stem-stitch?!  I took the "u" out a few times and finally decided it was good enough.)


It is difficult to see here, but I used 2 strands of red DMC 304 to embellish the seam along the "Be Mine" fabric with a Vandyke Stitch.  I'm not quite sure I made it correctly.  The directions I had were unclear on the final step, so I will need to look that one up on-line.

On the pink triangle in the lower-left corner, I used 3 strands of red DMC S666 to make a single stem-stitch rosette.  Two leaves were added with 2 strands of DMC S702 using the satin leaf stitch.  Six French knots were the finishing touch (2 strands DMC 35200.)  This motif was found in An Encyclopedia of Crazy Quilt Stitches and Motifs (which my mother-in-law found on another website for less than $20!)


In these photos, you can see that I sewed strips of muslin to the edges of my blocks so they would fit in a hoop.  I did not want to put the block into the hoop because it could stretch the fabric out of shape.  Recently, I learned a better way of doing this.  The blocks are made with a muslin foundation.  This allows the fabric to have more stability for the embroidery.  I cut the muslin to the size of my block.  Then I learned I should have cut the muslin a couple of inches larger than I planned to make the block.  I could mark the square on the reverse side of the fabric and baste along that mark so the borders showed from the front.  (Of course, if I use that tip, I probably would not practice my stitches on the "sidelines" - which you can see in these pictures.)

This is how my block looked at the end of the day.  (You may notice I also removed the red chain-stitch rosette seam on the triangle on the lower-right corner.  The stitch was so loose that it easily snagged.  I'm not sure what I will replace that with.)


Once again, I have my poor husband baffled.  It looks done to him.  I still see 8 to 10 things to do - I am not sure quite where to start though!  Decisions, decisions...


Monday, June 18, 2012

Crazy Quilt Days 13 and 14

The past few days, I have been itching to work on my crazy quilt.  On a positive note, I have had a lot of time to spend with my family.  Yesterday, we celebrated Father's Day and my husband's birthday.  The weather was lovely, and we had a nice time.  As the day drew to an end, I had the opportunity to sit and stitch.  (And I managed to dump petite glass beads all over my hubby on the couch.  We had quite a laugh cleaning that up!)

On Saturday (or was it Friday?  It's all a blur - lol!) I finished 3 seams.  I learned how to make a fly stitch with 1 strand of the green variegated Edmar 079 Iris rayon floss.  At the end of each fly stitch, I made a colonial knot in the same color.  Then I used 2 strands of the light pink DMC 30818 (or S818) to make pairs of lazy daisy stitches between the fly stitches.

Fly Stitch, Lazy Daisy, and Colonial Knot
Cross-stitch, Lazy Daisy, and Beads

On the seam below, I used red DMC 30666 (or S666) to make a row of cross-stitches.  Next, I used 2 strands of white DMC 35200 to make four lazy daisy stitches around the center of each cross-stitch.  I fastened white 11/0 glass beads at the center of each cross-stitch, where the lazy daisy stitches met.  Then I used Mill Hill Petite Glass Beads 42010 where the outer edges of the cross-stitches met.  (I pinned on the applique heart I may use prior to sewing beads in that area, so I would not have to sew it on over them.)  Honestly, I was not sure I liked this combination of stitches prior to adding the beads.  I was much happier with the seam after that final embellishment.

Next, I embellished the last seam of the tiny read triangle of fabric near the center of the block by stitching in little bows.  Using 1 strand of the white DMC 35200, I made two lazy daisy stitches, two straight stitches and one colonial knot to make each little bow.

Last night, I finally worked up the nerve to try something new: silk ribbon embroidery.  A couple of years ago, I searched for a local place to purchase silk ribbon.  I tracked down an Anna Griffin silk ribbon and floss packet at Michaels. (I was unable to find anything like it recently - even on-line.)  So, I am not sure of the actual names of the silk ribbon colors.  However, I do know they are Bucilla ribbons.

Using some of these ribbons and a pattern from An Encyclopedia of Crazy Quilt Stitches and Motifs, I began working on the center piece of this block.  First, I used a stem stitch with DMC 3347 to make the heart shape.  Next, I used pinks, mauves, and a light blue silk ribbons for the flowers (which were made using straight stitches and spider web roses.)  Yellow French knots and colonial knots filled the center of the straight stitched flowers.  The leaves were made with green ribbon stitch.  There are also two stems with small, mauve colonial knots to make little buds.  I still need to add in some more colonial knots to accent the piece, but this is how it looked when I finally made my way to bed last night.

Silk Ribbon Embroidery

(I also figured out how to set my camera on a Macro setting; so, the closeups focused much better.  Yippee!  It's the little things in life...)

February Block Progress

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 12

I finished two more seams on the February block tonight.  I used a chain stitch-rosette for the first seam, using red DMC 304.  I will be honest, I think I spent more time taking stitches out to fix mistakes than I spent making the actual stitches.  I don't think it will be a stitch I choose to use frequently in the future.

Chain Stitch-Rosette

The second seam was a lot more fun, and I can see this one becoming a favorite!  I used green DMC 989 to make the buttonhole up and down stitch (a new one for me.)  I used the same floss to make a small lazy daisy stitch between the buttonholes.  After that, I used pink DMC 899 to make pairs of lazy daisy stitches at the top of the buttonhole stitches and to make a colonial knot (which I read is supposed to be a bit larger than a French knot) above the lazy daisies.  The end result looks like a chain of flowers.  (Oops!  Looks like the camera strap made a guest appearance in the photo below.)

Buttonhole Up and Down, Lazy Daisy & Colonial Knot

This is how the block looks with 7 seam treatments:



I have been asked why I am making so much work for myself.  I think part of it is the challenge of learning something new.  However, the real fun to me is watching how a few strips of fabric, a few colors of floss, and a couple of beads can transform into something so much more.  I look forward to seeing how this block transforms tomorrow! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 11

I made a few discoveries today.  First of all, I love the look of the DMC rayon embroidery flosses.  Second, I find them difficult to work with when using more than one strand because they are so slick.  (So, I am very s-l-o-w with them.)

This evening, I managed to make time to complete three more seams on the February block.  First, I added three fans using a combination of straight and chain stitches.  I used DMC floss 30899 (or S899) for the fan, and DMC 30818 (or S818) to make small stitches in between.  A small pink 10/0 glass seed bead added the final touch.


Next, I used DMC 3688 to make a stem stitch along the seam of the small pink triangle to the right.  After that, I began on the third seam.  I made a cheveron stitch with DMC 33607.  Then I made pairs of lazy daisy stitches with DMC 30702 (or DMC S702).  After that, I learned how to make stem stitch rosettes using a variegated pink DMC 4180.  They are kind of hard to see in this picture.  Let's just say, I think I improved by the fourth rosette, and I still need some practice to make them all the same size.  However, they were fun to make.

Tomorrow will be crazy busy (no pun intended), but I hope to find some time to complete another seam!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weekly Goal Updates

Once again, I managed to accomplish two out of four goals for the week.  Next week I need to buckle down. 

Last week's goals and progress made:
Writing: 1000 words (beginning word count 2140) - wrote 730 words (2870 words)
Running: Hoped for 3 days, but was coming down with a nasty bug - did not make it running due to virus + allergies
Sewing: Work on quilt top - Cut out words to applique, traced all of the leaves, and purchased green fabric for the stems.
Crazy Quilt: Complete October block - finished it and began the February block

This week's goals:
Writing: 2000 words (beginning word count 2870)
Running: 3 days (minimum of 20 minutes)
Sewing: Assemble crazy quilt block for Novice Round Robin #6 through Crazy Quilting International and keep working on my unfinished quilt top
Crazy Quilt: Complete at least 7 seams and/or motifs on the February block

Summer vacation begins for my boys this week, so I hope to have a little more time at home to accomplish my weekly goals.  Maybe I will even complete an item on my home project to do list.  If so, I will let you know!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crazy Quilt Days 9 & 10

I spent some time on Sunday planning out the February block of my crazy quilt.  I used a book I picked up at the library for inspiration.  The book is listed on my favorites from Amazon, but they want a small fortune for it ($83 used, and new copies range from over $200 to over $1000.)  Needless to say, I was happy my library had a copy (though a bit nervous too - I'm treating it like glass!)  The book is An Encyclopedia of Crazy Quilt Stitches and Motifs.  It is only 69 pages long, but it shows some fun combinations of stitches.

The Plan

Possible Embellishments

Beaded Lace


I began by attaching pink and white beaded lace.  First, I hand stitched the edges at my seam line.  Then I searched on-line for ideas to tack down lace.  I found the use of several methods, ranging from the use of beads to tiny simple stitches.  I planned to use tiny white glass beads, but it looked like too much, so I opted to use white thread and tiny little stitches to hold the lace in place.


Part of the First Embroidered/Beaded Seam

Next, I used a single strand of EdMar Iris Rayon floss number 079 (a variegated green) to make uneven blanket stitches across the seem. Then, I used DMC 3688 to sew on pink heart-shaped beads above the taller blanket stitches.  (On the back, I knotted the thread at the beginning and end of each stitch holding the beads on so they would not all fall off if the thread somehow broke in the future.)

The First Seam Completed
I used 2 strands of DMC 321 to make two lazy daisy stitches at the top of the shorter blanket stitches.  Then, I sewed on a tiny red (11/0) glass bead.  After the red flowers were completed, I used another single strand of the EdMar variegated green to attach two lazy daisy leaves to the stems of the taller heart flowers.  (Sorry, the picture is dark.  If I use my flash, it washes all the color out.)

Close Up of the Seam

Today, I also picked up the DMC floss I needed to finish the last bit of back-stitch on the rose I am making for the center piece of the Round Robin block.  I must admit, removing waste canvas is not one of my favorite activities (and I was very thankful for the use of my husband's pliers to save my poor fingers part-way through.)  The trick is to only remove one to two threads at a time and to slip the straight out (without pulling upward, away from the fabric.)  Here is the rose:

Regal Rose Cross Stitch on Black Fabric

I hope to find time tomorrow to work on the February block.  It will be a busy day, so we will see.  (Speaking of which, I need to get some sleep!)  Good night, all!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 8

I put together the February block for my crazy quilt.  I was itching to try some pretty stitches and some silk ribbon embroidery (SRE).  Valentine's Day sounded perfect!  The printed cottons I chose to use might make it a little too busy.  We will see.  This whole quilt is a "practice" quilt so I can improve my embroidery skills for the "pretty" crazy quilt I plan to make next.  (And I know myself.  If I get too critical, I will set this aside and never finish; so, my philosophy is that it is all a great learning experience, if nothing else!)

February Naked Block

In my attempt to make a heart-like shape in the center, I ended up with a couple of tricky spots.  In two spots, I decided to fold under a quarter inch seam and then sew close to the edge of the fabric.  I plan to cover those visible stitches with my embellishments.

Originally, I planned to cross-stitch a rose on black fabric to use as the center piece for this block.  However, I decided to use the rose for another project entirely.

The Yahoo group Crazy Quilting International has round robins.  I signed up to participate in a novice round robin that will begin next month.  In a round robin, five people sign up and we each make a block.  Each block is then embellished by the other four members of the round robin.  I need to have my block ready to mail out by July 15th.

I decided to use my rose as the center piece of the block I make for the round robin.  I began the rose a few weeks ago.  I basted waste canvas onto a sturdy black cotton and used a pattern from the Leisure Arts "A Regal Rose and a Distinctive Floral Alphabet" leaflet.  (The pattern gives you the opportunity to make the flowers in red, gold, rose, or shell pink.  I made this one using the rose colored flosses.  I listed it under my favorites from Amazon.com.  Although, Amazon does not show a photo of the leaflet, it is listed a few times on eBay with the photo included.  I cross-stitched an afghan for my sister years ago on a Swiss linen using the red flosses.  It turned out lovely.)

Cross-stitched rose on black fabric

As anxious as I am to see how this will look without the waste canvas, I ran out of my back-stitch floss with only 2 strands left to go!  And, I simply cannot talk myself into paying for forty-minutes worth of gas to buy a thirty-five cent skein of embroidery floss.  So, I am waiting until Monday.  There is a place that sells DMC floss just a few blocks from my son's orthodontist's office.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 7

Yesterday, I finally finished the October block for my crazy quilt.  It took seven days of stitching.  I spent as little as an hour on some days, and far more on others.  If I were to do it over, there are changes I would make (lighter browns for the tree, a different shape for my spider, and the jack-o-lantern would not be on orange fabric.)  However, for my first block, I am satisfied.  I learned a lot, and was able to try out several new stitching techniques.

I was not happy that one of the ghosts in the center piece was pretty much cut in half.  So, I traced the shape (adding to the part that was cut off), reversed the drawing and traced it onto fusible webbing, ironed it onto the wrong side of white fabric with silver glitter in it, cut it out and adhered it directly over the ghost on the block.  Because the other ghosts were outlined in black, I used black DMC floss #310 to over-stitch the edges and to add in the arm from the original design.  I used a satin stitch for the mouth and French knots for the eyes.  I have to admit, I was nervous about the French knots.  I have never felt I could make them successfully.  However, in the Needlework Stitches book (by Barbara Snook) that my mom gave me, the directions explain that the left hand has to be above the fabric to hold the thread tight (and to only wrap the thread around the needle twice.)  I was thrilled that they both turned out great on the first attempts!





Then, I drew another ghost, traced it on fusible webbing and adhered it to a soft scrap of white fabric I had in my stash.  I am not sure, but I think it was felt.  It was the same fabric my husband and I used to sew our eldest's very first Halloween costume - a white rabbit with a pink tummy and a fluffy tail.  This time, I used white DMC floss to over-stitch the edges, and black DMC #310 to make the French knot eyes and to satin stitch on the mouth.



In the upper-left corner, I attempted my first Woven Wheel (or Woven Spot) Spider Web.  (I think I did it correctly... maybe.)  I used the DMC satin white and satin black flosses.  (I tried to get a closer picture of that stitch, but my camera refused to focus on the close-up.)

I continued to use the satin white floss for a closed blanket stitch to treat the seam in the upper-right hand corner.  (I think I should have reversed it though, so the triangles pointed downward onto the orange fabric.)

The completed October block.

The original block. 
(Although, it is sideways.  I'm not sure how to rotate it on the blog.)

I had a lot of fun making this block.  However, I must admit, I have been itching to make some pretty stitches, that just did not fit into the Halloween theme.  I am not quite sure which month I will work on next, but I am certain it will be one with flowers!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cooking Club of America Part 2

I called the number my mom gave me and was unable to connect with an actual human being.  However, the automated system clearly stated her accounts were up to date - regarding the returned book and her membership payments.  So, she will be relieved to know that her conversation with the membership department on Monday was successful and she really could have ignored the collections threat.

This makes me feel SO much better.  I also visited the club's Facebook page.  They have over 93,000 "likes" and the only complaint posted on their page was promptly addressed.  Obviously, a lot of people do like the club and are having positive experiences.  And that relieves a lot of my worries about my mom's membership. 

Now, I get to call my mom and take this weight off her shoulders.  


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cooking Club of America

This post is a bit off topic, but I was wondering if any of you are familiar with the Cooking Club of America.  According to the Minnesota Better Business Bureau, their parent company is North American Membership Group, Inc.

My mom joined the club over a year ago.  In addition to several other misleading incidents (such as believing membership cost was $1.00, then receiving a bill a few months later for $59, claiming she was past due on her membership payments; and reading she would receive a new book to purchase or return every 3 weeks, which turned into 3 books a month), she began receiving notices that she was past due on payments for a book she returned and received notification from the club that the book had been received and a $0.00 balance remained.  In addition, the cost of the book has gone up.

She called the company on Monday, after receiving yet another notice, and was told they had no record of receiving the book, or of the copies she sent them of the notification the book was received.  In addition, she was told that her membership payment that was due in May had not been received.  (According to the bank, it cleared on May 9th.)  Then she was told to disregard any further notifications.

Yesterday, she received a notice that the club was flagging her membership and would be sending her account to collections because she failed to pay for the book and she has failed to respond to their prior notifications.  She planned to ignore this notice, because of what she was told the day before.  I encouraged her to call just to confirm everything was okay. 

Then my husband Googled the club on-line.  I called my mom back and told her I would call for her.  Her health is not good to begin with, and the stress this club is causing is making her physically ill.  If this club is the scam most everything we read on-line indicated, dealing with this is the last thing she needs.  I hope I am proved wrong about the scam, and it is just a misunderstanding that will be cleared up.  If so, I will be sure to let you all know.

According to the website for the Minnesota Better Business Bureau, my mom is not alone.  I will be calling The Cooking Club of America tomorrow in hopes of resolution.  Based upon the numerous complaints I have read on-line (dating back as far as 2008), I fear that may not resolve the problem - but I hope I am wrong!  On the up side, according to the MN BBB, the company seems to resolve complaints placed with BBB by honoring requests to cancel memberships (this would be good to know for those people that posted complaints they were still receiving invoices 3 years later), discontinuing billing and collection efforts, and providing refunds wherever they were due.  My understanding from reading the MN BBB's comments about the North American Membership Group, Inc., is that the 804 complaints they have received over the past 3 years (295 during the past 12 months) are a small number for a company of this size, so this was a factor that increased the company's rating with the BBB, combined with the fact that they resolved the complaints presented by the Bureau.  At least I know what step to take if calling tomorrow does not work.

Has anyone had a positive experience with this club?  I am hoping for the best!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 6 & Next Sewing Project

On Sunday, I attended a Sewing 101 class to learn about my new sewing machine.  I was familiar with some of the course content, but I learned a few new tricks that made it so worth my time!  It is safe to say I am very happy with my Mother's Day present.

I did not have a lot of time to work on my project Sunday, but I did manage to finish three seams.  It took me quite a while to put on those ten little glass beads before I got the hang of it.


Using a black satin DMC floss, I made a chain stitch along the seam between the haunted house and the orange and black stripes.  The seams on the black fabric above the stripes were embellished with alternating cross-stitches using a white satin DMC floss and 11/0 white glass beads.  I hope to finish at least one more seam tomorrow after work. 

Today, I decided which unfinished project I would tackle next.  It follows the same pattern I used to make my very first quilt, which is pictured below.


This quilt was a Christmas gift to my father-in-law in 2003.  The pattern was from The City Stitcher Quilt Collection Designs by Janet Miller #9 Our Country Home.

A few years later, I decided to make another one with different colors.  I made great progress until life became too crazy.  (Doesn't it always?!)  Somehow, knowing the vines and leaves were going to be my next step made me hesitant to pick it up again.  Of course, now I know what it means to cut on the bias, so my vines would be a bit easier to maneuver.  That was honestly the trickiest part for me.

Below you can see where I left off on my work in progress.  We will see how much progress I make by next Monday.


Today, I traced most of the leaves onto fusible webbing.  Tomorrow night I plan to adhere them to my green fabrics and cut them out.  All of the applique needs to be applied before I sew any of these pieces together.  Busy, busy, busy!