Apr 17, 2015

Quilting saves the day!

Well, when at work one is charged with making a bulletin board and given a limited budget, what could cover more area at a lower price, but fabric... WOOOHOOO!!!!! I can share that I was not exactly sad about being asked to create a project that would be catchy and help promote our services in a sort of "old fashion" way, but that would still be nice to look at... Are you kidding me? Really? YAAAAAY! Quilting bug to the rescue!

Well, the first part was not only the fabric, but the colors. I knew I had to use the ones of the new logo... And just wait until you see them! What a fantastic combination! It was no surprise to see the finished project all catchy and popping up from the wall.

So, in my only trip to the craft store on business, I got practically the perfect match for what would become the board background... Tada!

Some patterns and two Kona solids pull the whole look together! In other words, I cannot take credit for choosing the combination; I just had that new logo in mind, which I personally think is much, much happier than the old one. 

And just because the paper aisle is next to the fabric section, I made sure to pick up some happy paper to showcase everything in the finished product. Not a sad thing to buy all these gorgeous materials on business at all! 

Oh my! I really felt like quilting right then! But heck! I decided I would use this project to explore color value and my quilty bone kept thinking that I was working on a landscape, almost like a lake and a sunset... Well, it really worked in my head! lol

I started cutting the fabric, getting strips of different widths of the accent fabric. I then sewed them next to each other, making sure I kept the color gradation equal, on each side of the cover. 

A little ironing to make it all pretty!

(lol... I really thought it was interesting to see the reflection on the back window, so I took the camera and snap! Even the iron made it to the shot!! :) )

Here is side one:

... and here is side two:

I think I like the more subtle variation with the skinny strip in between two chunky strips; I feel that the "lines" disappear... I don't know... What do you think?

Well, we made it safe and sound to the office, and here it was, waiting patiently for me to take care of the more imminent issues (lol)...

And taking a hint from previous quilting experiences, I had to keep the top from moving all around while centering the rest... Some heavy duty tape worked like a charm!

Just like with a regular quilt... Well, kind of... :)

First, place your fabric wrong side up on the floor, secure it, batting on top, board on top, right side down. Not exactly a quilt sandwich, but the right order to get everything in the right place! 

After trimming the batting, you'll have something that looks like this:

Then, use a staple gun to fix the fabric to the back of the board, starting on the center part of each side. Pull tightly, but don't overdo it; staples can fray fabric. 

Also, different fabric responds differently to staples. I worked with cotton, so I stapled at least three times as close together to the center as possible. If you were working with thicker fabric, you may only need one staple.

Here is a closer view at the first stapling:

Little by little, work your way to the sides, and fold the corners like you were wrapping a present.  Remember to trim the excess fabric when you're done.

Go on! Staple! Staple! Staple! :) 

Ta da! 

Well, after that, I got some heavy duty tape to finish the back; I also got some help with a kit and eyelets (maybe they have another nice, fancy name...) to hang it like a regular picture frame. These hanging kits are really handy; some of the original hanging hardware may be covered by the fabric, or you may only have one nail on the wall... Who knows! Just don't let a hidden hardware issue be the reason to keep you from trying something like this.

Here is how it ended up... Well, just picture each white space with information in it. 

So, here you have it! How to up-cycle an old bulletin board into an eye-catching, colorful spot! Just think, you can even make a photo board for your office! Man! I just wish I had all the time in the world to explore the unending opportunities to create.

Stay blessed!


Mar 26, 2015

March BOM - Fruit Basket

Oh! The joys of the creative process!  

The March BOM brought new techniques and things to learn, but the main thing is that I was finally able to enjoy every step.

The main new challenge for this block was the handle. Yup! Another first time for me... applique on a quilt block. I took as long as I could and decided to be extra careful to enjoy every part of the process, stitch by stitch...  

It is amazing what a bias cut can do! It was almost as if the fabric laid on top of the triangle by itself.  And yes, I thought that a picture with a bunch of pins would look cute... lol

I had fun making this block! Finally! FUN with this 2015 BOM that has pushed me to quilting limits I didn't know existed...

You know I use my machine to sew, but let's admit it - there is something quite special about hand sewing. To be honest, I'm probably so excited because it's only one handle and not the whole quilt! 

Tada! Handle attached and pointy triangles!  :)

By this point, I was already happy dancing... All of those points, matching seams and intersections matching made me feel like a quilting "big girl." LOL

After so many ups and downs with the previous blocks, I was elated to complete one without questioning every single step (and understanding what I was supposed to do), and my first bias fabric applique on a quilt block. I love it! Ah! The marvels of the learning process!

With a picture that feels like a diploma, here are the first four blocks:

It's interesting; I feel this... feeling (lol...) that could be described more as a big sense of accomplishment wrapping around me while leaning back on the chair, with my hands behind my back and legs stretched out! Nice! Just that... Smile...

Stay blessed,


Mar 23, 2015

A bundle of... something...

One friend told me he had something for me. Months went by and by, and one day, he finally said something like: "I got something for you. I put it on your desk. It's the bundle I told you about. The one this old lady had at a garage sale and it ended up in the attic, in a box with other bundles."

So, this is it!

What a fantastic surprise!  

A bundle of "precuts" all the way from around the 40s! (If my friend's estimates are right.)

Some of the pieces were still kept together by color; somebody made sure that they stayed together by sewing through all of them, and making two knots - one at each end.

The most amazing thing is that all the pieces actually stayed together and did not fray that much.  I mean, these have survived at least 60 years! It's almost impossible to grasp...

Among all the little bundles were two units of what seemed to be a flower garden. No pattern and most pieces cut in the same fashion, like a kite. Some were not evenly cut; there seemed to be a lot of one color and very few of another one.

With the thought of years and years of survival, somebody's hands carefully preparing a project and even leftover fabric, began the search for a crafty idea to give these precious pieces of fabric a final home...

How to be respectful of somebody's plans for this little bundle? How much of myself can I put it in? (Sigh!) What a wonderful opportunity to create and enjoy such a treasured piece of the past!

This makes me think of my sweet niece, Yoyo, when she blew a bunch of kisses into a purse, right before I looked at it. It was my Christmas gift. Her kisses touch my heart and fill me with joy. She reminds me of grandma, too. Her love and dedication would touch every single project she worked on.

With the thoughts of my Tita's hands preparing things to start sewing, my mind flutters away and dives into research. Hopefully, I can come up with something that conveys my gratefulness and celebrates heritage... Wow! Big words!

What yould you do?

Stay blessed,


Mar 13, 2015

2015 Craftsy BOM Ash Basket - TIPS!!

Hi there!

First of all, thank you for all the sweet e-mails you have sent!  :)  

I am far from being an experienced quilter, but I am so glad that my struggles have provided valuable lessons that I can share with all of you!

Per your requests, I would like to post a bit more about the February BOM Ash Basket templates. This block is part of the 2015 Craftsy BOM, and it's proving to be an interesting challenge. Even if I started a bit bumpy, things are taking shape and my piecing has seen the benefits - YAY!! That's exactly what I wanted.  Baskets are not my quilting cup of tea, but I knew that I had to go way outside my comfort zone if I wanted to improve.

Because of my inexperience with templates, I was having issues constructing the blocks because I was trying to match the edges of the cut pieces. In the next picture, you can see that either side of the triangle (the sides forming a 90o angle) was too long.

Here is another way of looking at the issue. I didn't include the following two pictures in my previous post; my poor mat has been beaten and worn, and I should have snapped this in the other corner.  Alas! Let it all be for the sake of us expert quilters-in-progress!

See the following picture? Well, that's exactly what I was trying to do with the fabric. There is a bit of the template 3D that goes beyond template 3A.

Ignore that, and focus on the inner seams. See!! Perfect match!!

And that's what started it all! I continued playing with the rest of the templates, and surprise, surprise... It works!

I was wondering about the rest of the block, so I used some of the cut fabric to sort of "see" the finished block. Now, see the brown fabric in the middle? It is actually a trapezoid, but the black fabric on top makes it difficult to see the whole piece. I know, it looks veeeery weird... And when you begin opening the pieces after sewing, everything turns even more weird...

Again, focus on the seam; try to not see the edges of the fabric or the weirdness...  

If you don't worry (at least not too much) about the edges of the pieces, you will have a NICE end result! 

Enjoy the learning process!! Believe me, Ash Basket will NOT be the only block that will reap the benefits of precise piecing, no matter which your quilting cup of tea is...  :)

Stay blessed and keep working on that Ash Block! 


Feb 28, 2015

Intersections make the piecing!

February has come and gone and now says good-bye with a beautiful snowy day; I was able to finally wrap up my February quilting homework. Well, I gave myself until the last day of February to post the second February block for the 2015 Craftsy BOM, Ash Basket.

Everything started as usual, in my crazy and year-long attempt to learn new techniques and widen my quilting knowledge - and hopefully, some skills as well!  :)

After cutting and double checking fabric and templates, ...

... I saw that some units didn't seem to match. Instead of tackling the issue, I jumped ahead and whipped these little guys:

Well, I indeed jumped... And far... And not very well... I did not understand a part of the instructions and, instead of verifying information, I went happily to the sewing machine and iron.

But when I started putting it all together, I realized I needed something like the pieced triangles on the bottom of the following picture, not a half-square triangle... (To myself: "Really? It's just a simple instruction, follow it, for once!")

Rip, rip, rip... Cut *right on a second pass, sew, iron, and... They don't fit!

Double check... They don't fit! And nothing else does!

Yes, that was my experience with Ash Basket, and I thought hard trying to figure out what went wrong.  Did I trace the template well? Did I check the printer settings were not changing the printing ratio? Did I cut the fabric well? Man! I even remembered having the same feeling when making the last block!

I was not about to cut more of that -limited- fabric I have, so I decided to research. I went to the class and did not feel that bad when I realized that a lot of people were frustrated because they were having the same problem. However, I also saw that some had been able to finish, and there were some brave ladies that even said that the templates were... perfect! Perfect? Really?

This was a major frustration issue - I had no idea what I was doing wrong and I was not finding useful information in the class. I tried to find information in the internet, blogs, and even library books, but every attempt to figure this block out seemed fruitless. 

I watched the class video again and again, and I couldn't find anything that would shed any light... at all!!  (Big sigh.) (It is actually a good sigh.)

There was only one thing that kept fluttering in my head, and coming back when I was trying to write an e-mail, during a client meeting, at lunch, and even when making dinner one day... The points in the templates... The templates have points... I went to a craft store and look at templates; blouses, skirts, points, points, points...

And then, it happened... Eureka! I was able to see what matters:

The templates clearly show it! None (or practically none) of the pieces of fabric has matching edges with another one; what matches is the seam! 

Up to now, I had always matched intersecting seams and cut units, starting generally by matching the middle of two cuts. Well, when I realized that I had to go deeper this time... To the 1/4" seam intersection - the actual seam! It also dawned on me why so many commercial templates have holes in them - to mark the intersections! I finally got it!

At this point, I even got Mr. Fuzz and told him all about the points, the templates, the seams, the edges that would not match, all the while I'm moving the templates and remaking what you see in the picture above. It was awesome! 

OK, if you have been quilting for a while, you may find yourself rolling your eyes, but it took me a while to actually "see" the complexity of quilting. That's what makes an art quilt - precisely pieced units and matching intersections. WOW! It took me a major roadblock and a simple basket to advance a leap when it comes to the understanding and appreciation of the beauty and art of quilting.

But to finish this block, I was not about to buy a set of marking templates, but I did go ahead and marked all the 1/4" seams in each piece, like so:

... and instead of trying to match edges, I made sure to pin the exact places where the 1/4" seams intersect, and little by little, precise shapes started to emerge.

I almost started happy dancing when I saw that triangle tip touching the horizontal fabric... I knew I finally was on the right track! 

Ah! That second of satisfaction when seeing precise points and piecing well done!

And (drum roll, please) here is: Ash Basket!

Oh man! I have so much more to learn!

After so long figuring out each piece and intricacy, I feel accomplished. It's almost as if I had advanced to the next quilting level, whatever that is...

Once more, an opportunity to learn and grow in so many ways. Yes, there is the aspect of the piecing technique, but just stop and think for a second - how many opportunities like this one come along our way.  It's up to us to make the most out of them!

Stay blessed,


Feb 21, 2015

You write, You doodle, You fidget... I sew!!

Yup! I sew!  

When 2015 started and I turned back and realized that I was not very productive in the crafty sort of way, I decided to look for even the smallest of opportunities to get my hands busy...

Well, I found a perfect moment to do so... Meetings! Well, conference calls and webinars, and any other job gathering when the door to my office is closed and I get a bit of privacy. 

Meetings? Yes, meetings! Those conversations that could go on and on and on... If you look around, you may get a glimpse of someone fidgeting with their pen, doodling, counting tiles and even yawning. But not in my office! In my corner of the woods, where most meetings are conference calls, the results are a bit different...

Well, remember me starting these hexagon paper pieced units without giving too much thought to them?  It was, once more, a project born out of the curiosity of trying a new technique and experimenting that exciting and powerful moment of creating something new and different, seeing for the first time how a shape comes together and enjoying a second of satisfaction after seeing the results...

Well, little by little, over several weeks and months, I ended up covering all of the 200 paper hexies in scraps. Meetings went by, with the usual notes, ideas and commitments, but now, there is another witness to productivity:

Man! And just think of all the past meetings I could have done this... lol  Yes, to all of those you wondering out there, my boss knows I do this and she finds it fascinating that I even remember more details of the meetings I was working on those. It is actually kind of weird; I see some of the stitches, seams and turns, and I can remember what people were saying, and even the tone of their voices...

Well, I must say that if we are talking figures or any other details requiring my whole attention, the needle and thread sometimes don't even come out of the little tin box where they patiently await for the next conference call. For those, it's the color markers and mind maps that start showing up!

Hey, you can't deny that meetings have now taking a fascinating route!  :)

Stay blessed,