Thursday, February 27, 2014

AlphabeThursday - O is for Oil Pastels

Here’s a quick sketch I did, honoring this week’s AlphabeThursday Letter O.  
It’s drawn with oil pastels, a product I haven’t used much. 

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I use YouTube a lot, for pleasure and for learning.  One of my favorite subscription sites is thefrugalcrafter, who is also a blogger.  She dabbles in all sorts of crafts and is fun to watch.  If you’re interested in her video showing how to use oil pastels, go here  (warning: it is about 20 minutes.)

This all got me curious about what pastels could look like.  
Here are some paintings I found on Etsy that I liked.  Enjoy!

Lovely, aren't they?  

Come by Ms. Jenny's site, off on my tangent
and see what other bloggers have chosen for their Letter O! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

AlphabeThursday – N is for Number

Numbers have become an ever bigger part of my life recently.  That’s because of my new Brother sewing machine, which is perfect for machine quilting.

Every stitch has a number - 27 is my favorite.  Here it is on one of my squares.  Looks like a sat down for hours and stitched this line, eh?

I just found another stitch last night – I think it was 24, but I’m not sure.  I didn’t record the stitch number but will look again for it.  I learned you are suppose to stitch from the middle to the edge, and then tie knots on all the threads and "bury" them. 

This decorative sewing is what I’ve been doing every night after dinner.  I’m only halfway through my book club book, because I fall asleep when I climb into bed at the end of the day to read.  I plan to read outside this weekend (during the day) since it’s going to be nice out.  But first I have to get through the work week. 

So, have a nice week to everyone, and visit my fella students over at Ms. Jenny’s class (blog) and see what words they chose for the Letter N.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Growing with Sewing #5 - decorative stitches

If you’ve been following my Growing with Sewing, you’ll know that I have been working on quilt blocks with all the layers pinned together, that is top, bottom and batting.  Now it’s time to stitch in the ditch, or basically cover up my straight stitches with decorative stitches.

This is the first time I’ve used the sewing machine’s decorative stitches, so I decided to see what they look like.  I thought I needed to try every stitch, but instead I tried just a few that I liked and thought would be fun to add to the blocks.  Here are some samples:

One of the most important things to know about this step is to sew with both threads on top, so they won’t get tangled and become a mess on the underside of your block.  Here’s how: 
1) put your fabric under the threaded needle and place the pressure foot down. 
2)  hold the top thread out to the left side, then catch the bobbin thread with one stitch of the machine.  It will be in a loop around the top thread. 
3) pull the bobbin thread up to the top with a pin or small scissors.  Lift the pressure foot and pull both threads towards the back of the machine, like usual.

As you can see above, the threads look pretty messy.  No one told me what to do with all the exposed thread.  I went on YouTube (my trusty online school) and learned I need to bury my thread!  Mom and I are still trying to figure out why you just don’t backstitch…  One of the videos I found was made by renaeqauilts, with her Tip of the Week.  She talks about using a needle with a big eye, but I also saw someone who used a self threading needle (or what is called a cheater needle).  Thank you everyone, for all these instructions!

Find out more about sewing projects at

Thursday, February 13, 2014

AlphabeThursday - M is for Monday

Monday is the first day of the week for me.  On Monday, I have meetings at work.  I pick up on all the things I was working on at end of the previous week.  And catch up on the latest gossip at the “watercooler.”

Sunday, not Monday, is at the beginning of most calendars.
But this month it was my first entry!

The weekend is when I do my chores, read and write my blogs, relax and art journal.  And now I’m painting on the weekend!  I’ve been thinking, Monday could become part of the weekend when I get old enough to collect social security.  Wouldn’t that be nice.  But it won’t happen for a while. 

Let’s close this post with a tune that keeps coming into my head.  
Baby Boomers, you know the one!

Don’t forget to visit the other bloggers who wrote posts 
for the Letter M at Ms. Jenny’s Off on my Tangent.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Year of the Fairy Tale - mixed media frog princess

First I want to thank Carla, from The Year of the Fairy Tale, for giving me the courage to draw and paint when I thought this class was becoming too advanced for me.  Her instructions and videos are great and easy to follow.

Our first mixed media lesson is in conjunction with the first fairy tale, The Frog Princess.  First we did some storyboarding, and then it was time to draw small “spot” illustrations.  I used my Micron acid-free (and waterproof) pens, a Distress marker, pencil and eraser, watercolor set with water pen, and my 5” x 8” Moleskine watercolor book.  I bought the book about a year ago, and was afraid to spoil it.  But this class is perfect for it! 

My favorite illustration to draw so far is when Vassilissa catches the arrow that the youngest son shoots in the air.  As you remember, this is how she gets involved witth the Tsar and three sons in the first place. Here’s my finished first try.

 Then I tried again, but this time, I used the “breaking outside of a shape (my square).”

I used watercolors and gave the illustration a little life.  My first and second drawings aren’t too different, because I basically used the same colors and idea.  I was going to try some pastel crayons but chickened out.  Maybe the next drawing…

Thursday, February 6, 2014

AlphabeThursday - L is for Learning

My motto for the year: If it interests you, learn more about it!  I’ve taken on more new projects and  challenges than I usually do at one time.  And many have placed me at the bottom of the learning curve. 

The first and most important challenge for me is to take care of my house by myself.  This includes keeping the heater running and the pipes from freezing.  Other personal challenges are cooking for myself and paying off substantial debt.

But there are creative challenges I’ve taken on this year.  Most of you know about my new sewing challenge, in the form of a quilt.  The last time I sewed was in my junior high school home economics class! 

There are lots of activities that come with (handmade) machine-made quilts.  I’ve learned to thread the sewing machine and make a bobbin without looking at the directions.  And I’ve been practicing sewing straight seams.  I’m still learning how best to use a rotary cutter; went to JoAnn this past weekend to buy a new blade for it.  It’s cutting much smoother now. 

Next on my learning list is trying all the different stitches on my sewing machine.  Wow – there’s a lot!  That will take a while, but I want to see what they look like before using them for my quilt. 

I’m also learning how to draw.  I’ve been doodling for a long time now, but that’s as far as it went.  I've  always wanted to take drawing and watercolor lessons.  So I splurged and signed up for an online class: The Year of the Fairy Tale with Carla Sonheim.  For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pushing myself, drawing princesses and frogs.   I’m very intimidated by all the accomplished artists who are also taking this course.  But I haven’t given up yet; it’s not in my nature…

Don't forget to stop by Ms. Jenny’s blog, Off on my Tangent
to see what other words bloggers have chosen for the Letter L.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Growing with Sewing #4 - Enlarging my Blocks

Because the quilt I’m making is for a queen size bed, I started out with loads of new fat quarters.  They are supposed to measure 18” x 22”.  I was being very careful with my seams, but many of the blocks turned out to be too small for the required finished 16" x 16" block.  Not by much - just one side of another wasn’t straight.   

Oh dear!  Has this happened to you before?

I decided not to fret and just added more fabric to the blocks that needed it. 
This IS a crazy quilt, right? 

I just finished cutting my 18” x 18” squares for the backing and the batting.  Marguerita McManus, my virtual teacher, says the most important thing in preparing squares is to make sure they are all smooth before pinning and sewing them together.  She (and her daughter) even give directions on doing this.  Thanks, Marguerita.

Linking to Fabric Tuesday
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