Monday, November 14, 2011

Some Cleaning and a Little Sewing

Had a nice, sort of relaxing 3-day weekend.  I needed it.  I took the opportunity to stay at home and do some things around here that I've been putting off for a while now, such as cleaning out the kitchen pantry.  It is amazing how many things got thrown out because of being out of date.  You can sure tell I don't cook as much now as I used to.  I'll be making up for that over Thanksgiving I'm sure, but it is nice to have my pantry organized so at least I can find things and know what I have.  
I did do a little sewing, I made a Christmas stocking for my soon to be born first grandchild.  I'm so excited and can't wait to welcome him into the world.  
Everything on this except the sewing together was done on the Bernina 830 in the Jumbo Hoop.  It turned out so darn cute.  A friend took a regular Christmas stocking pattern with hand redwork embroidery and using Designer Plus software turned it all into a machine embroidery design, including the quilting.  All I had to do was add the name where I wanted it. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Quilt Retreat

I went to a small quilt retreat this past weekend put on by a local friend, Mariella.  She does a retreat in the fall and spring each year, and I usually try to go to the fall one but haven't been able to go for the last several years.  This year I made it a point to go so I could catch up with old friends and I needed a break.  Mariella creates a new quilt pattern for each of her retreats, and it is so cool to see what people do with them.  This is a picture of mine.  All the blocks and sashing strips are done, and the rows are all done, just need to sew the rows together.  By the time this is finished with borders, it will be queen-sized.  I put it up on my design wall yesterday afternoon when I got home just to make sure I had things turned the correct way and I noticed I have one sashing strip that needs to have a set turned.  Glad I saw it now instead of after I had the borders on.

There were a bazillion squares and half square triangles and star points in this quilt (or at least it felt like it).  This is the first quilt I have completely cut with my Accuquilt Go! cutter, and I must say I don't think I will ever cut fabrics again for a quilt using anything but my Go! cutter.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Good Weekend

This has been a good weekend to stay inside, do little of anything, and just generally catch up on rest, TV shows, a little sewing, and generally relaxing.

This is the view out the window from my home office, and has been for most of the weekend.  Overcast, raining off and on, a perfect time to stay inside.  We really need the rain and I had absolutely nothing that I had to do this weekend.

I did do a bit of mindless sewing.  I am working on a strata quilt and I have a quarter of the blocks done.  I need to do the blue, green and purple sets, then can start putting together.  I'm looking forward to getting more of this done, but no hurry, just a pattern I saw and liked and decided to do.  I think this will end up being a quilt for me.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I love purses and bags!

I am in love with making purses and bags. For the most part, they are pretty simple projects, don't take a ton of time, and I feel like I've accomplished something. Don't get me wrong, I love to sew anything and I love to piece and quilt, but with a limited amount of time, throwing in a simple or smaller project is just what I need to get that feeling of ACCOMPLISHMENT.

I participate in Bernina Software Sampler classes monthly at my Bernina dealer, Shiisa Quilts in Bloomington, Indiana.  There were a multitude of techniques discussed in August's class featuring some of the vast array of things you can do with Designer Plus V6 software.  The project was to do a raggy type bag using some of the designs we created.  I'm not a raggy type person, so I elected to do a hobo style bag pattern called Carol's Purse Pattern from Creative Needlecraft.  I purchased several of their patterns at various shows, but this was the first one I've made.  The directions were good and I had no problem constructing the bag.  I made several modifications to fit what I wanted to do, and I like the way it turned out.

I took an old pair of jeans to use for the fabric, in keeping with the techniques we were using.  One of the great features of the software is the ability to scan in a pocket or a flap or whatever and then use that to create placement lines for doing the embroidery placement.  It turned out perfectly.  In addition to the embroidery designs, I embellished them with an all-purpose ink from Tsukineko in Champaign Mist.  Love this and see many uses for it.  It was easy to apply, dried fast and was ready to go with a little heat set from the iron.

The photos are some of my in process shots and then a few close-ups of the designs, and finally the finished bag!

The embroidery and construction was done on my Bernina 830.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Sewing Studio Organization - Stabilizers

I'm still on the quest for better organization in my sewing studio.  The back leafs of my sewing tables are always in the up position and I have used several plastic drawer carts under them to store things.  I had one larger three drawer cart that I used for stabilizer rolls, and then some of the smaller drawers in other carts for some of the smaller rolls.  I've found that I tend not to be able to find what I am looking for easily, so I figured there had to be a better way to do this.  I wanted something that would fit in the space I had, and help me get better organized for my stabilizer storage.
I was flipping through the Sunday paper today and Target had some laminate shoe cubbies on sale this week, and after checking the dimensions, I figured two of them would fit perfectly in the space I had and give me plenty of storage.  I really wanted white, but all they had in stock was the wood color.  Not bad at all.  Below is a photo of the shoe cubbies with stabilizer in place.  It was amazing how many rolls I had, and how many duplicates of some I have.  Don't think I'll be needing to buy any stabilizer for a long time to come.  I'm very pleased with the way this turned out!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ecolux Lighting - New LED Add-On Lights

On my Bernina 635, the work area lighting is not ideal.  I use a lot of Ott lights in my sewing room, and I have two trained on the bed of my 635, but there is still not enough light on the working surface.  I learned of a new add-on LED lighting system from CJ Tinkle by way of her Created By CJ blog in a recent post concerning Ecolux Lighting.  I just had to click on the link and went and had a look see.  I liked what I saw, and even though it might seem pricey, I decided to give it a try.  I ordered and had within two days.  Great service!

I finally got time today to install it on my 635.  I got the six-light size, and it is perfect.  I'm really liking this light and will not have to deal with aiming a light exactly where I want it to be.  It was super easy to install.  I've snapped two pictures, one with the light off and one with it on.  All the shadows are gone!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Playing With Thread

On July 22 I was able to go to Shiisa Quilts in Bloomington for an afternoon with Paula Reid that was put on for Shiisa's Crazy 8s group.  This was a wonderful chance for us to play with some decorative threads and do some bobbin work.  Bobbin work is great in the Bernina 830s and 820s because you can use a variety of threads in the bobbin and only have to do a simple adjustment for thicker threads.  For the Superior Glitter thread that I used, no adjustment was even needed.  I also added some decorative stitching using a thicker varigated thread in the needle.

I really enjoyed myself and below is my finished piece; when I got home I added a few glitz embellishments to the butterfly, but it is ready to be made into a journal/notebook cover.  What a fun afternoon.  The link above to Paula Reid is to her blog, and you can see some of the other classes that she gave at Shiisa's when she was there.

She will be back at Shiisa's in September 2012, so I'm looking forward to taking more classes with her.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Do Not Do This

I would not recommend getting your finger in the way of the needle when you are doing machine embroidery.  It is not pretty and doesn't feel very good either.  I'd show a picture of the wound, but it would probably make your stomach turn, so I'll spare you.  All I was doing was trying to smooth the fabric a little as it was going, didn't think I was that close, but unfortunately I got distracted and it surprised the heck out of me and went through my finger.  If you need to do something like that, be sure and stop the machine first!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 4 Time to Relax

Not much new around here.  I've been doing a little sewing, but nothing exciting enough to blog about.  Did go to the International Quilt Show in Cincinnati in April.  Had a wonderful time and will go back again next year.  Cincinnati will be hosting it for at least 3 years.  It is a wonderful venue and I hope it stays much longer than 3 years!  Got some cool new tools that I need to write about; it's on my list of things to do!
I did teach two classes last Saturday for the Indianapolis Chapter of the American Sewing Guild.  Both classes were for projects on the serger.  The first was a jacket, and the second was a puzzle blouse.  We had a great time.  Below is the class sample that I made for the jacket.  It is made out of rayon batik fabric.  I really like the jacket and will wear it a lot.

This weekend I worked all day yesterday on the week 1 blocks for the HoopSisters 2011 Mystery Quilt.  The mystery started June 1, so as usual I'm a little behind, but I am enjoying it.  This is my first HoopSisters quilt, so it's a learning experience, too.  I'll post pictures when allowed.  Right now it's still a mystery so I have no idea what it is supposed to look like in the end.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Columbus NG March Sew-In

On March 26-27, we held a sew-in for the Columbus Neighborhood Group.  We are a local Neighborhood Group of the Indianapolis Chapter of the American Sewing Guild (;  

We had a wonderful time and plan on doing another one in the fall.  We have a great facility (courtesy of the Bartholomew County REMC) that we are able to use for our meetings and they graciously allowed us to use it for an entire weekend.  What made it extra special is there is a full kitchen so we had pitch-ins for lunches on both Saturday and Sunday.  About three quarters of our members were able to come spend some time sewing for at least part of the weekend.  I've posted pictures below.

I would recommend trying this for your Neighborhood Group if you can.  It is a great opportunity for fellowship and sharing and just relaxing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thangles Buck a Block - Getting Closer to Finishing

I had an opportunity this past weekend for some rest and relaxation and nonstop sewing.  It was time once again for the quilt retreat hosted by Sharynn's Quilt Box (North Vernon, Indiana) at the Clifty Falls Inn in Madison, Indiana.  I had a wonderful time, as usual, and look forward to going to her next one in September.
I worked mainly on this Thangles Buck a Block Program from 2008 (Series 5).  I think this is probably the 4th retreat where I've worked on at least some portion of these blocks.  Now all I need to do is the borders, but I haven't quite decided what I want to do yet.  The finishing instructions call for an 11" border, but I really want to do something pieced.  I'm thinking a small red border to start.  I'll plug it into EQ and see what I can come up with.  Maybe I'll have it figured out by the next retreat in September and can continue working on it, but I'd really like to get it done before then now that it is this far.  Just once I would like to be able to show a "finished" project when they do show and tell!

I have no idea what I'll do with this once it is finished as I have nothing in my house that is red, white and black.  Maybe I'll have to redecorate a room!  I'm sure that would go over big with the husband!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Applique - Accuquilt Go! Cutter

Things have gotten crazy nuts at work again, so I've been able to spend very little time sewing or creating.  One of the little things I've been able to do is one small appliqué project.  The heart was cut on the Accuquilt Go! cutter using the heart die.  The Go! certainly speeds things up for applique, and if you have an embroidery machine, you can be done in no time.  For the heart I used a pre-digitized design from the Shapes embroidery collection from Accuquilt.   I did add lettering from the built-in letters on the Bernina 830 before I stitched the design out.  Fabric was pre-fused with appliqué stabilizer before cutting.  It took a total of about 5 minutes from beginning to the final embroidery stitch. The notebook cover took about an hour to complete.

I've also been playing some with digitizing some of the shapes myself in the Designer Plus Version 6 software.  This is my final test stitch out for the Arabesque die.  I plan to make a table runner using this design, but that will have to wait until there is more time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another Groovy Girls Club Project Completed

Am I very late or am I very early?  I prefer to think I'm very early.  I recently completed a Halloween table topper using Atkinson Designs pattern called Happy Holidays.  I bought fabric probably 4 years ago to make a Halloween table runner, and when I saw this pattern, I knew it was just perfect for this project.

The pattern gives directions for three sizes, small (20x23"), medium (30x35") and large (40x47").  The large is big enough to make into a tree skirt, and it gives the directions on how to do that.  The size I made for my Halloween table topper is the medium.  

I wanted to quilt it with some type of Halloween or fall quilting embroidery design on my Bernina 830, and found the perfect design in my collection.  The one I used was from Designs Sew Fine from Quilt Collection 1.  There are three sizes of the spider web, and I used the largest, which fit nicely into the Jumbo hoop.  I used a metallic thread that was a black and silver twist.  I was very happy with the results.  The picture above is a closeup of the stitchout of the design.  With the precise embroidery positioning of the Bernina 830, I was able to get my designs exactly where I wanted them.

Below is the finished topper, binding and all.  This was a great, quick project, and only took a few hours to complete from beginning to end.

I really look forward to attending Groovy Girls Club meetings at Shiisa Quilts in Bloomington, Indiana.  I always come away with great ideas and inspiration.  The projects are small enough and don't require big chunks of time, which is perfect for me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Small Projects

Right now I am really loving doing small projects.  It is such a sense of accomplishment in an otherwise too busy and hectic life.  I hope to take on some larger projects before too long, and get back into some clothing making and finish some quilts.  I certainly have enough projects lined up to keep me busy for the rest of the year (and beyond....) on that front.

The beauty of doing small projects is I can try different and new techniques, they don't take huge chunks of time, and I have something useful at the end.  In the zippered bag below I've used new techniques for the zipper installation and for the machine appliquéd letter.  I also did a little free motion quilting.  This pattern is from Atkinson Designs book called Fat Quarter Fonts.  

The drawstring bag below is also from Atkinson, and she uses a cool technique for doing the casing for the drawstring.  I can see a lot of these in the future - they will make great gifts and are a canvas for some embroidery, an appliquéd design or decorative stitches before the final construction phase.  This one I made for myself as a shoe bag out of fun fabric I had in the stash.  

This past weekend I finished a Halloween table topper, and I'll post about it later.  The inspiration for all came from the Groovy Girls Club meetings at Shiisa Quilts in Bloomington, Indiana.

Have a great weekend and do some sewing!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Billie's Favorite Things - Update on Clip It Up

I thought I'd give an update on one of my favorite things - my Clip It Up by Simply Renee.  Since my original post, I have continued my organizing and I've added a lot more Clip It Ups.  These things are so HABIT FORMING, you can't have just one!  I have now added a mini, two more base units with upper tiers (one with an upper tier extension), a floor stand, and a ribbon holder.  I have been trying over the last couple of years to really get my sewing/quilting space organized, and with the Clip It Ups, I can really say I think I'm there.  I am so happy with how these worked out for my space and organization.  I can't give them enough praise!

Below are some pictures of my additional units and what I've used them for.

This is a base unit and upper tier that I am using for my purse/tote/bag/wallet patterns on the bottom and my purse hardware/supplies on the upper tier.

Floor Model with an extra tier.  These are larger sewing notions/patterns that are too big or bulky for the regular base unit.

Mini with miscellaneous sewing notions.  This one is located in between my cutting table and ironing workstation.

Base unit with upper tier and extension.  This one I am using for sewing patterns.

Ribbon organizer. 
I have this on the wall over my ironing station.

Most everything pictured on these was in drawers or stuffed in plastic containers.  They are now out and handy and I can find what I am looking for in an instant.  I'm in heaven!  It is amazing how much more creative you feel when you've got an organized space to work in.  Now if I could just translate that to the rest of my life!