Saturday, 31 May 2014

LE: Needle Care


I've never been through so many hand sewing needles before. I always keep my needles in foil to prevent rusting and deterioration, but now I find I also have to keep them in a bit of talcum powder too. I think the constant sewing through glue means that they 'wear' faster. It doesn't make logical sense to me that this difference could be deteriorating them, and I normally wouldn't notice but this is the second time I have had to run out to the store to buy extra- and just when I was comfortably seated and ready for a long days hand sewing. The lighting in my room was perfect too. Oh well, it always happens like that, doesn't it?



this is what it's all about; polka dots are finished!



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

WOW: Polka Dot Points

WOW = WIPs On Wednesday

What's another 12 hours spent on hand needle turned polka dot points? I've got all the time in the world!


Unfortunately, my needles don't have the same stamina I do. I've been through 6x already, just on hand sewing, which is really unusual. Are they just not making them as strong as they used to?

Here's is today's task, I'll be really pleased if I can get these done today, they look so simple and easy just sitting here, ready to be sewn down...


 What's Your WOW ?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

WOW: LE Crosses Done

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays 

I've got my crosses down on my scrappy LE. I was thinking about blue for the area where the pink is (I know some of you left this area hollow to show through the background fabric and I certainly think that works too). I am thinking about the points on the crosses, I was hoping to use a polka dot fabric, but couldn't get over this yellow as my option and I think this means I will be sewing down needle turn applique points (again?!) just when I though that fiddly hard work was over!


It's slow going and I keep reaching progress that demands non-stop sewing, I really need a few days of sewing to get over my centre square hill, I'm so eager to start on the borders, its hard seeing all the imaginative and beautiful work over in the Yahoo Group and to be so firmly at the 'beginning' of the quilt myself. Emotionally, I'm up to part 12 with the rest of you :) LE is certainly a lesson in patience.


What's Your WOW ? 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Esther, why do you blog?


Just recently I've been thinking about how quilting has changed since so many of us got online. It's incredible to think how far we've come in just a few relatively short years: the people I've 'met', the friendships made, the techniques, tips and ideas shared - when you stop and think about it, its really been a revolution of sorts. Especially as more and more quilters come online to join our community.

I would never have thought when I started out 13 years ago, that I would be discussing ideas and sharing my patterns not only with those friends I see in person, locally, - but also with like minded women internationally. Before, I might have relied on magazines or journals to keep me informed on new developments in our craft - whereas today I think we can all recognize that not only do we have front row seats the moment new things are released - we might even have been observing it during early development and production right in the maker's blog!

That's a huge advancement and change. And I like it, it means that quilters are more likely to push innovation. Rather than 'brands' presenting the quilting market with what they think we will buy.

People are always asking me why I blog. I get emails about this topic frequently. Especially from new bloggers. I think this is because blogging looks so easy, but when you start doing it yourself you realize that it does take up a fair amount of time - for what might be a few minutes reading. Who has the time for that? I don't think any of us do! And yet, we find the time. And there is where the answer is.

When you love something, you find time for it

I blog because I love quilting, its as simple as that. And because I love quilting, I love sharing what I know about quilting too. And I'm not finished, I'm learning all the time, and learning is something you can share with others. And if you can, why wouldn't you? This basically sums up why I do what I do. Because I can. And as long as I can, I will.

Some people who ask me why I blog really can't understand my answer. They think there must be more to it than that. So they keep asking me and I keep giving them the same answer.

The earliest quilting groups were about fellowship, friendship, support, community. It's the same today, except our tools have changed. Within that community, we all have different but equally important roles. Some of us are starting out, others have the experience to show others how to do things.


I have always firmly believed that if you can, you should. Knowledge is free. Sure, time and effort does cost us - I'm not denying that its a tangible expense, it is- but I think we can honour what skills and talents we have by sharing them freely with others. If you have a skill you're blessed. So why not share your blessing with others?

Blogging allows you to share what you know into an interested community so that your particular knowledge is available to anyone who wants it - much longer that you'll be around to personally impart it. I think this is a wonderful thing. I would love to go back in time and spend a few afternoons with those early quilters who were working on, often in isolation, and developing working methods to suit them. It would be a fascinating learn. But we know so little and have to assume so much. What a shame that is. Imagine if they'd kept notes? Wouldn't you be interested to read them? I know I would. I'd love to know what things we did the same, what techniques we shared, even across hundreds of years. Blogging is our modern day 'note keeping'. Maybe it will prove useful to someone, maybe it won't. It's worth recording nonetheless. I don't think any other medium has allowed us to keep notes as effectively and as honestly as blogging has. There's no editor on blogger - it's just you and what you do.

Yes, I encourage everyone to go ahead and try blogging

When I started out blogging I was in two minds about it. I wanted to keep a record of my work because I knew it was so easy to lose track of accomplishments. I already had a closet full of quilts when I started blogging and I hadn't bothered keeping a Quilt Journal (as I recommend every new quilter does) so I already knew that if I was going to share patterns, I needed some kind of record. Blogs were just starting to get my attention at that point so I took the plunge.

At the start I couldn't understand how a page could have thousands of hits from all over the world but only 3 comments.This really puzzled me for a while. Then I met a blogger (in the technology field) quite by accident and she commented that my blog stats were really good and that I should monetize with adverts, 'But I don't have any comments' I answered. Then she explained that a lot of bloggers were turning off the comments section because comments aren't an indication of relevance or popularity. She went on to tell me that the more comfortable people were with a blog, the less likely they were to comment. They'll just keep visiting and checking in to see what's new she told me. Well, I thought about this and if I'm honest - I can't blame anyone for not commenting because I rarely comment myself either - and I do visit quite a few blogs myself, as you can see from my sidebar. So there might be something in that. If I commented on every blog I visited I wouldn't have time to do anything else! I don't spend much time online these days, I'm prioritizing my time to get patterns out and only answer emails weekly, its just something I have had to do. The point I'm making is this: if you do blog - don't let visibility or popularity dictate where you put your energy. Just do your own thing and keep on at it - that's what really counts.

I think blogs are the new magazines - people drop in and read what you've been doing much like you might flick through a magazine

It used to be quite special, a novelty, to visit a blog whereas now its much more casual - in fact it's often a daily catch up and your visit stats will show you that even if the comments don't.

I really don't think comments reflect your 'value' as a contributor to the blogging community. Sure, it's nice to hear from readers and personally I love comments but I don't rely on them or even expect them. I really wanted to cover this subject because I know many new bloggers are discouraged by a lack of comments and there's no need to be. It's an honour that people drop in and see what you're doing and I welcome their opinions. The fact is, I'd be doing what I'm doing whether I was blogging or not. Blogging it and getting feedback is a bonus but it isn't the 'reason' why I do it. I suggest you keep an eye on your visits, not comments. But even then, if I had no visits, I'd still be doing this. Know your motivation and don't give up. Blogging is, on the whole, a positive experience and any number of page visits are positive whether they're accompanied by comments or not.

We shouldn't be naive, there are disadvantages and negatives to being online and you have to be smart about your privacy and safety. Then there are the issues of having your work or ideas stolen or plagiarized. Early on in my blogging life, I had some quilt ideas I had shared stolen by another quilter. This really bothered me - that someone would be so brazen as to steal my idea and run with it. I had to make a decision to decide to be positive and carry on despite the injustice of it. I'm glad I did.

As a creator, I can create new things - a thief can only ever take from someone else

It's a hard lesson but you have to be prepared for the negativity that can threaten your 'space' on the internet and make a decision before you even start, that you won't let it get you down. This is something I've given a lot of thought to over the years and I can say that I think people will steal your ideas whether you're online or not. It's much easier online, but let's be honest, it happened before the internet era too. And as we move into more and more technology in our lives, I don't think staying 'off line' is the answer. This is why I changed my mind about Pinterest. In the early days I thought it was scandalous to be able to pin 'ideas' from people without their permission. A part of me will never be easy about it. But you can't turn back the tide and I think there is more safety in being out there than there is in ignoring the trend for sharing images. I get contacted all the time from people who recognized my work and demand the maker acknowledge me or my pattern - and I don't think you can ask for more than that.


Try not to allow a few negative realities tarnish how you view the whole internet as a community - especially within quilting. You know, I can tell you honestly that I have made some special friends from being online - people I would otherwise not have met in my life, and I am richer for the experience and support and friendship. And I really do consider them friends.

My Yahoo BOM Group has 4,525 members.
I remember when it had 8 members. When it was growing there was so much I didn't know about technology and software and I didn't have any spare time and I really didn't think I could keep the Group going. Then, out of the blue, generous women stepped forward and offered to help. That's right, they volunteered their time and energy for free to help users (complete strangers) within the group. And they still do it - for the benefit of others! Talk about generous! Yes, the online experience can be positive. Definitely.

I've been moved by the generosity shown to me by complete strangers. In fact, the images you are seeing on this post are part of this weekend's project To Do. I've been moved set aside my LE and create something special in a secret little project and it's all because of the kindness shown to me by people who were strangers. The online quilting community is real and generous and supportive.


Many of you have contacted me and asked me questions about blogging and the online experience. I have tried to get back to each of you individually, but this post really covers my experience. I hope that it it will support and encourage you to try blogging for yourself. And for those of you who have started - to keep at it. Some of you have felt isolated and hoped that blogging would connect you with others. I can tell you, it does. Some of you were discouraged by low comment numbers - honestly don't count your comments, just focus on doing what you do because it pleases you. Quilting is a large community and there's space for everyone to express themselves and be valued.

What about you?
If you have a spare minute, I'd really love to know about your own blogging habits: Do you have a blog? What inspired you to start? If you don't, what do you love most about the blogs you visit? Do you comment on all the blogs your visit? Do you think it matters?

Update 11am: It's just occurred to me that I didn't mention that really special feeling that happens when you find a kindred spirit online. Do you know the feeling? You'll stumble across someone halfway across the world from you - or perhaps just around the corner- whom you've never met, but who's interests speak directly to you? It's so wonderful to find other people who are doing what you're thinking or even maybe doing the same thing you're doing. There's a real sense of connection about finding one blog from a over a million available blogs that feels like a chat with a friend. I feel that way whenever I read the comments, I often recognize who's commented and love to hear what they have to say. Blogging is like being seated at a huge working bee with members coming and going all the time, sharing the best of what they know as well as those daily ins and outs. Thank you to everyone who's already taken a moment to comment, I love hearing what you think about this topic.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Love Entwined Part 12 is Launched


The theme of elements is continued this month
as we complete Border 3


the Lucky Charm and Rose Wreath blocks

  
As in Part 11 last month, the angels and poseys continue throughout border 3 and there's plenty of room for embroidery and broderie perse to embellish in and around the blocks.

In Parts 11 & 12 the 'wreath' segments turning around the inside blocks have been coloured in two greens throughout my sketches; however in real life I am making these segements in an assortment of scrappy's as I think the original indicates.

Yes, all parts of this historic quilt are still available for free!
Join TODAY and start this heirloom quilt YOURSELF!



‘Love Entwined 1790 Marriage Coverlet’ is a Free 18 Month Historic BOM
Each ‘block’ of the month is released monthly, on the 15th of each month. 
All ‘blocks’ are available for download via my Yahoo BOM Group only

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

WOW: So Much Fabric, So Hard To Choose


WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Is your stash a burden or a blessing?





Whenever I'm asked what advice I would give a new or would be quilter, it's always the same answer: don't stash build. This advice is easier to give than follow that's for sure: especially given that I have worked with fabric for over 30 years and I simply adore fabric and textiles. But since I started quilting, my love has really flourished! I now have so much fabric and so often, none of it seems just right for whatever project I'm working on. I'm doing my best to stash bust, but as I develop as a quilter I realise that apart from the occasional must haves, I'd really be so much better off if I purchased fabrics on a per project basis only.

Unfortunately I'm too late wise on this and will have to try and work through my fabric mountain one design at a time. I think it's time for some serious stash busting quilt patterns...

I'd love to know, are you a stash builder? buster? or neither? 
How do you manage your quilting fabric purchases? 

Update 9pm: I am loving your comments on this: it seems that collecting beautiful fabric is an issue for lots of us and I am loving reading your comments on how you handle your fabrics. 

What's Your WOW ?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

WOW: Talking LE Thread

WOW = WIPs on Wednesdays



Today I'm sorting through my threads, looking for good LE colours. Then I'll be working on LE, there's always little bits and pieces to be preparing or sewing down. 


I've had a few emails asking me what thread I used on my Heart Tombola gift and also why I always have baby wipes in my applique stitching pictures ?

I always use and recommend Aurifil. I just love this thread. Yes, it is a little thicker than most but I find I can use it with all my machines with no problems, so do give it a try, the clear stitches you can get from it makes investing in a trial spool well worth the investment.


The baby wipes are for my hands - I handle a lot of glue (not all at once!) but the tiny dots of glue can build up on your hands and become tacky. Especially after several hours. 

Baby wipes keep my hands clean and keep my fabric spotless. When creating such intense applique quilts, it's all too easy for fabrics to become smudged with tacky glue. This tackiness attracts dirt. Also, I physically handle the quilt a lot, sewing down pieces and in between I might get dust on my hands from my fabric stash or from handling my machine or leafing through a book and all these little undetectable touches can dull the fabrics so that they look tired or worn, even when the quilt is newly made. 

Have you ever seen that yourself? I see it quite often on white and light quilts and my LE has a white background and has months of handling ahead of it. So that's why! 

Actually, come to think about it, my quilt is probably the cleanest thing in my house!




What's Your WOW ?


Friday, 2 May 2014

LE: Circling Stars


The stars are fiddly work, but there's no doubt about it - once you have them made, they look wonderful. Like all the applique in this quilt, preparation is key: create a production line and keep things on track. 

Another thing I will suggest is to always make 1 or 2 extra pieces, sometimes fabrics can just look wrong at no fault of your own - it might be the angle of the print or some other detail that creates a distortion - I often move around my shapes, even those made from the same fabrics as the details can vary, so always have one extra for swapping over. 


These are stars but they look like leaves in their individual pieces, there are 6x leaves to each star. When you have 6x leaves neatly turned, thread them onto a needle. The fraying you see here is from fabric turned back, the fronts are clean and precise!


thread them on, keeping any colour order as desired, so that they are all sitting on the length of the needle


thread through neatly and on the same point of each, which is slightly to the side of the centre point


thread your needle through the 6 leaves


create a loop with your thread


and gently pull
but as you pull, arrange the stars into their correct shape, so that they don't bunch


guide the leaves into their correct position and pull the thread fully


Now turn over your star and secure the position with a few neat stitches


front and back of the star


The biggest advantage of doing it this way is that you can create a star production line and then sew down all your stars at once. It saves you from stitching down 6x individual leaves directly onto the fabric to 'create' the star, this way you create the stars before your sew the shape down and this makes neater shapes. Of course this is just my own method and every quilter will have their own style and preference. 


Did you make these stars? How did you sew them down?