Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Diane Gaudynski class sampler

I finished up my samplers for the Diane Gaudynski seminar I took, though they are only quilted, not bound. This is the basic practice piece -- not too much change, but I especially like the Celtic Circles in the upper right corner.

I am actually surprised how well my feather sampler turned out. All the feathers were freehand, and one interesting aspect for me was to play with the thread color. Diane Gaudynski tends not to use varigated threads because she feels you get better results choosing where you want what colors. I am not that happy with some of my choices, especially the gold in the upper left corner. It actually looks fine in the overall picture, but in real life I think it would have worked better for the feathers rather than a background motif. Smaller scale and not quilting the grid may also have worked better. Ah well, I do not think i am motivated enough to tear that whole section out and redo with a less dominant thread.

Below are some details, where you can see the effect of different thread colors. I wish I had some of every color available!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Diane Gaudynski Seminar

My one real quilting experience this summer was that I was able to attend a 2-day seminar with Diane Gaudynski. For those of you who don't know her, here is her website. She does absolutely amazing, detailed machine quilting, all on her home sewing machine.

The seminar was excellent. I was able to borrow a Bernina with BSR from the shop where the seminar was held (one model up from the one I use). Diane brought in a number of her quilts to show us, and they are even more stunning in person then in books and on the web. She is a very encouraging teacher, and she introduced a number of motifs that could be used for background as well as helping us to work on our feathers. One of the most interesting things I learned was to use different colors of thread to give depth to your quilting. I think I am a convert now. I just wish I had easier access to quality thread! She also recommended using wool batting because you get the loft of trapunto without the work. I used it for the class samples and loved it.

Here is a picture of a sampler we worked on to practice the different designs. I have filled it out since, but this picture shows what I was able to do in class. And some close-ups of some of the practice squares. Diane teaches students to do what she calls echo feathers -- instead of backtracking on parts of the feather, you leave a small corridor between them. It was a new way for me to do them. Her lines are, of course, perfectly parallel. Mine are not!

In this picture you can see the feathers and the "folded towels" texture, as well as some small "pearls" to the right of one of the feathered area. All of this is done with minimal marking.

The next picture shows some clamshells and some pebbles to set off the feathers. Again, for the clamshells, I only needed to mark parallel lines!

And finally, one of my favorite backgrounds -- Tsunami. I love how this one looks, but it would take quite a lot of thread if done on a large part of a quilt, lol.

I also made a sample with feathers that uses different color threads in the background. That is for the next blog!

My Summer Purchases

Although I didn't get much quilting in when I was in the US this summer, I did have some time to visit quilt shops. Here is the fabric that I got:
You can see I mainly purchased batiks and tone-on-tones. I hope to put them to good use this year! I also got 20 yards each of Kona Snow and Kona Black, but no need to include a picture of that.

I also managed to get some thread in various colors, some templates, and new gloves for machine quilting with. I don't have pictures of those, but I think I did pretty well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm back!

This is just a short post to say that after a long hiatus from blogging, I am back. I was in the US for the summer, with no access to a sewing machine, and very little quilting going on. There was however, a good amount of shopping for quilting supplies. I may have some pictures to come. I also managed to take a wonderful class with Diane Gaudynski. I will post some pictures of my learning experience in the next week.

While the summer was a wonderful time to visit friends and family, it was marred by one terrible occurance. Our Elkhound Sally died over the summer, apparently from tainted food that must have been imported into our area. My son and I were in the US, and my husband had to handle the whole thing himself. Despite the vet's best efforts, her kidney's failed and there was no hope for recovery. Sally has left a big whole in our lives. We are planning to get another dog, but first we are doing a lot of research to find out how we can make sure we get a healthy dog with good temperament into the country.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Thought for the Day

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.
Unknown, quoted by Jim Horning
Quotations by unknown authors

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Here it is

This is my Gamelan top. I still haven't trimmed it down -- I want to to look longer and thinner. I think I will finish the quilting first, then trim it down. That may give me a better idea how it will look in the end. I am planning to use some ugly backing fabric that I will never use in another quilt. Since it is a wallhanging, it won't show!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I have not

dropped of the face of the earth. I am still here, but I am a bit overwhelmed with various things going on, and the result is no quilting and no blogging. I am reading people's posts, but commenting seems a bit beyond me right now.

I did manage to finish my Gamelan top (wall hangings are so fast!), but I am going to change the proportions a bit to fit the space I will use it in. I hope to have pictures in the next several days, but in absence of those, I thought I would share this:
If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
John Kenneth Galbraith
US (Canadian-born) administrator & economist (1908 - 2006)
It gave me a laugh.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WIP Gamelan Quilt

I decided to go with the black background fabric for my Gamelan quilt because that was how it was in my head, and I had enough black left to make a few blocks without ordering anything. Here are my blocks so far:

I have pictures of the individual blocks following the above picture in my Webshots Quilt WIP album if you want to see in more detail These blocks are so much fun to make and really quite easy. I love that each block turns out so different from the others with just one fabric. The pattern in The Modern Quilt Workshop calls for only 3 blocks for a wall hanging, but i think I am going to make at least one more and make mine longer. They are just too much fun to pass up.

Other good news is that we have decided to get a sewing table made for me. That will mean my family can have the dining room table back when they want it, and I will get a set-in machine for easier quilting. DH was worried the table would be beyond the ability of carpenters here (wish I had a confused smiley here) and he was coming up with all kinds of strange solutions, but someone at About helped me find the links to pictures of how other husbands had made tables, and now he is convinced it can be done. Hurray!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Seven things

Debra tagged me for the 7 things meme, and I am really enjoying learning more about all of you, so I will play along. Let me see...

1. You all already know that I travel quite a bit, so that is not new. But you may not realize that when I am not traveling all I want to do is STAY AT HOME! I don't want to do anything, go anywhere. I want nothing more than some quiet time to sew.

2. I love all things computer and gadgety. Though in truth I probably know just enough to be dangerous, I love to play with new gadgets and am usually fairly capable of sorting out computer problems.

3. I love to read, though because of living in an apartment and the high cost of books here, I now "read' mainly ebooks and audiobooks. I am a big mystery and sci fi/fantasy fan. I almost never read anything educational! Well, I guess that depends on what you consider educational. Among my latest reads was Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. It was fascinating, funny, and yes, I think educational. Aww, now no one will want to be friends with me!

4. I love to learn languages. Each language gives a new insight into a way to view the universe, bringing some things into focus that weren't obvious or important in another language. I speak English, Japanese and Chinese at native or near native level, and I understand a bit of Cantonese, French, and Spanish. My French used to be fairly good, but it has been drowned out by Chinese and Japanese.

5. Okay, you may have already figured this out from my posts, but I am not very domestic. When I was about 12 I set the oven on fire by trying to cook frozen pizza without taking off the cardboard underneath (luckily nothing else was damaged), and though I can now cook and quilt, I don't sew anything else (except for pillow cases!). No one who has known me from childhood can believe I quilt.

6. I basically don't wear skirts. I am a pants person. Though there are one or two long skirt styles I like, I have entirely given up the short, straight "business suit skirt" that is so popular for working women. When I got dressed up once for a special event and actually wore a dress, my son, then about 5 looked at me and said, "Mom, you look like a girl!"

7. Should I reveal this? When not sewing, I like to play computer games, especially role playing games like Final Fantasy. I use my son as an excuse but truth be told, even without him, if I weren't so busy I would probably play a lot more than is good for me!

Oops, forgot that I am also supposed to tag 7 people. There are lots of you I would love to get to know more, but for a start Joyce, Dorothy, Quilting Fitzy, Beth , Flippytale, Weronica, and Diana.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

WIP - Log Cabin

Although I feel like I have been posting right and left, I will post again today for WIP Wednesday. As I said in an earlier post, I finished my Log Cabin top, and now I am waiting to buy backing (though I could still piece the backing). Here is the design chosen by my family. The pictures aren't very good because it was a bit too big to photograph well where I had it. Ah well. By the way, that grey spot is apparently dog hair. It isn't there now. I checked.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Beginnings

Although my blog focuses on my quilting, I wanted to share a recent work-related development that will also give you a taste of Macau life. I work for a non-profit, non-governmental organization (The Badi Foundation) that promotes human resource development for social and economic development in China. One of our projects is a formal school called the School of the Nations in Macau. Yesterday we had the ground breaking ceremony for the new school facilities, which will also house my office. This is a very long awaited development, achieved through a government grant of land and other much valued support from various government departments, as well as ceaseless work by the Director of the School and other staff.

We had a formal ground breaking ceremony in the Macau style. After some songs from students and speeches, there was the actual ground breaking. Luckily they caught me (I am on the far right) before the hat slipped over my eyes.

Then there is the ceremonial cutting of the suckling pig, with incense surrounding

Finally, there are firecrackers set off to scare bad spirits from the construction site and as celebration. I don't have pictures of that, but they were the long red trails of firecrackers, and they were hung from a construction crane. For those who are interested, the picture below shows what the new school will look like (I am in the picture at the bottom of the article helping to cut the roast pig).

Monday, May 7, 2007

I may have found my inner domestic goddess

Well, probably not, but I did discover pillowcases. After a search of the department stores found no acceptable pillowcases, I made my first pillowcase to go with my new spring-themed bedroom decor. Could it be? Yes, it was really quite simple. Granted, my pillowcase was so stuffed it looked like it might explode, but I could do it! I had made an item of home decor! Perhaps there was a domestic goddess lurking somewhere inside me.

Bursting with confidence and newfound domesticity, I began my second one. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to topstitch the hem of the opening on the back of the pillow, and then when stitching the pillowcase together, I discovered that I had not put the tension on my machine back to normal (I had loosened the top tension to try to zigzag stitch around the edge of the hem -- another story in itself!). Ugh. The resulting stitches were not going to hold that pillowcase together. No problem, I simply fixed the tension and stitched again on top of my first line of stitching. No one would be able to see it, right? Having done that, I realized that while my poorly stitched seam would have been easy to remove, I had now made it near impossible. No matter. I also somehow managed twist and turn the now completed pillowcase so that I could stitch down the fold that should have been a hem at the back of the pillow. Almost topstitch it anyway. The gaps wouldn't be too noticeable. I happily put my pillow into the finished product and it was about 3 inches too big! What did I do with the measurements? In the end, the large size was a good thing, because it allowed me to turn the pillowcase inside out again and simply cut off all the bad seams and start again without having to remake the top. Though the proportions of my original pillow design were lost, in the end, it turned into a pillowcase once more.

On the third pillow I was back to very carefully following the directions, and it turned out fairly well. By that time, though, I had run out of backing fabric for the pillow, so it does look a bit odd on the back...Despite all this, my husband has actually encouraged me to make more pillowcases, and to make them for the large bed pillows.

My updated spring decor is now:
The white cover on the headboard is temporary. It may someday be covered by a wholecloth quilt in either white or blue, and I may add some applique to my first pillow. Someday I may even make a set of pillows based on the ring of the single wedding ring in my Flurry of Feathers quilt. For now, my domestic goddess is tired and has gone into hiding.

First pillow. Imagine it with some flowers appliqued there like in my Butterfly Trails quilt

My second pillow

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Look what I got!

Debra and I traded fabric at the Trader's Village -- I had some silks that I would probably never use, and in return I got these beautiful batiks. They are beautiful! Now I have to come up with a quilt to use them in.

On other fronts, I think I am leaning toward using the black background fabric in the Gamelan quilt. Although I think the other fabrics would work, the quilt in my head has a black background. I will probably go with Kona Black or similar solid black because of price, but I am tempted by black and black tonals. And, when I am ordering the black fabric, I can also order some variegated thread, some dissolving thread, and maybe even a wide quilt backing for my Log Cabin. I have never used a wide backing before, and it sounds nice! Although I could wait until I am in the US to get the basic black and white fabrics I need, it seems rather a waste to fill up my suitcase with plain fabrics when I could be filling it with so many other quilty things.

Friday, May 4, 2007

It's spring, maybe even summer

It is really warm here now, so in honor of Spring, or Summer, I took the brown store-bought quilt off the bed in our room and replaced it with A Flurry of Feathers, which turned out to be a rather large quilt. It doesn't cover the pillows on the king-size bed, and I had thought of making a pillow topper, but I think it is okay without one. I rather like the way it looks except for a few details...First, the pillows/headstand/headboard (what is that thing called?) behind the bed look really grungy next to that nice white quilt, and second, those small pillows need to be changed to a lighter color! Then there is the mess on my husband's side of the bed...although mine isn't too much better!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Somehow Wednesday went right by, and Thursday had almost passed before I realized I had missed WIP Wednesday. I was so tired from my trip that I was in no state to cut or sew anything until today, but I promised today to my son, so not much has gotten done sewing wise. I have added the first borders to my log cabin, but no photos yet. Instead, I would like some advice for my next quilt.

I have been wanting to do a quilt based on the Gamelan pattern in The Modern Quilt Workshop, and I found a great fabric to use for the circles. My original idea had been to do the background in black so that it would be an elegant fall-like quilt. However, I have somehow managed to go through the 10 yards of Kona Black I bought in December (and almost all the Kona Snow as well!). I could order more and wait for it to arrive, but that seems rather silly as I will be in the US in about 2 months. I do probably need to buy some to have on hand, though.

I also have these two fabrics in my stash that I could use. I am a bit worried the end result would look too Christmasy, plus the quilting wouldn't show up as well. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

More on Mongolia

I am back in Macau, recovering from a wonderful and productive trip. Leaving Mongolia proved much more difficult than I had expected. First, the Mongolian government declared the day I was leaving a "no car" day to show their concern for the environment. That meant I had walk with my suitcase to an area outside the "no drive zone" to be able to get a car to the airport. That limited the time I could spend in Ulaan Baator in the morning. I was able to join a devotional meeting among the Baha'is in Ulaan Baator, but then had to run to the airport.

I arrived to find that because there were heavy winds, my flight was delayed until 7:30 at night. Apparently, Air China pilots are known for their fear of Mongolian winds, and even when local flights take off, Chinese pilots turn back to Beijing rather than facing the winds on landing. Flights are almost always delayed! So I headed back to join a Baha'i community meeting and the celebration of Ridvan, a holy day commemorating the beginning of the Baha'i Faith. It was great to get to share time with all the friends there and to see how creative and dedicated they are. My flight was successively delayed to 9:30, then 11, then 11:30. In the end we didn't take off until after midnight, and it was 3:30 in the morning by the time I made it to my friend's house in Beijing. I had a morning flight to Macau, so what was going to be half a day with friends in Beijing ended up being spent in Mongolia. I was thrilled to be able to spend more time there, but I am tired today!

I actually spent most of my time in Mongolia meeting with friends, so all I have are two pictures taken of the streets where I was meeting. You can see that most of the building are not very tall, and it has quite an open feeling. There are lots of interesting buildings and statues, but I didn't get pictures of any of them! The buildings are clearly built for the cold weather of the long Mongolian winters. They all have thick double doors at the entry way, and the apartments have two sets of windows separated by about 8 inches. The layer of air between the two sets of windows is good insulation.

Since I am quite pathetic and did not manage to get photos of this incredible country, I have decided to share some from other people that show what Mongolia is like. A ger in the middle of the city
In the outer parts of the city, you will see ger, the traditional Mongolian housing. These sections of the city are usually the poorer parts of the city and you may see lots of small fenced areas, each with a ger. This picture by yuki_tsatraral shows a traditional ger in the middle of the city.

This is quite close to what things looked like outside the city, although with less snow. This trip I didn't actually get to spend time with herders, but this is such a wonderful shot, i wanted to share it.

by brog740: Horseman  <span class=Terelj National Park, Mongolia">

Although when summer comes all will be green, at this point everything is still quite brown. This photo by Pokrandt of Inner Mongolia is what much of the countryside in Mongolia looks like. I don't know the current percentage of roads that are paved, but it is not too high. When you visit the herder families, often you end up driving off road. The driver identifies hills and other natural land marks and suddenly heads off the road and toward the mountains. Then you basically keep asking people you meet where a particular family is, until you find them.

Mongolia is really one of my favorite countries. Because I have always gone for work, I haven't ever been able to really explore it, so now I am thinking that next year I should get my family to go with me for a real family vacation. If any of you have a chance to go, you really should take it. It is well worth the trip!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Greetings from Mongolia!

This will have to be a short post since it is already late and I will have a full day tomorrow, but I am now in Mongolia and wanted to say hi. It has been a wonderful trip. This is my third trip to Mongolia, the last one being 7 years ago. Both previous visits have been in winter when it was very cold by my standards (though still mild by Mongolian standards), so I came prepared with sweaters and a down coat, but instead it is really warm and comfortable.

It is so wonderful to see old friends and see the development of the country. I have been here consulting with a development agency that I serve on the advisory board of (The Mongolian Development Center), and also for the Baha'i National Convention. When I arrived I expected to be met at the airport by one or two old friends that I haven't seen in some time, but instead I was welcomed by a whole group of people in the traditional Mongolian way -- with a bowl of milk resting on beautiful scarf (one drinks from the bowl and passes it one by one to each member of the group). I am hoping to get some pictures from my friends. Thank God I was not too badly dressed!

I hope to post a bit more about Mongolia in the next several days. It is really a lovely country and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. Since I had better get to bed or suffer the consequences tomorrow, I will just share a few pictures. Sorry they are not better and do not show more of the country!! I have no pictures from my meetings with the Mongolian Development Center, and I do not yet have one of the full convention participants. The full picture would show much more of the traditional dress and the diversity of the community. Instead the first picture is of the new National Assembly and the Auxiliary Board members. The National Assembly is the governing body of the Baha'i community. It has nine members who are elected annually. The Auxiliary Board is an appointed body that helps facilitate learning, encourages unity, and assists the community to devise plans and bring them to fruition. I am seated in the front row wearing the pink jacket.

The next picture is just the Auxiliary Board members, and the final picture is of one of the Baha'is attending the convention. His traditional outfit was just gorgeous and I wish that I had gotten a better picture.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's finished!

One more quilt done this year! I finished up my "red monster" quilt -- a red version of the Out of the Box quilt based on a pattern from The Modern Quilt Workshop. All it needs now is clipping of all the lose threads and a wash (these two steps are right up there with basting in my least favorite activities). Oh yes, and it really needs a better name. It is only a red monster because it sat as a UFO for about 2 years after I lost enthusiasm for hand quilting it. It is relatively small so it is not a "monster" in size. Although I would have done the background differently now, I think I now like it again, and I will probably give it either to my brother's family or to a girlfriend who I will see this summer. All suggestions for names will be gratefully considered!

Although the parallel lines in the body of the quilt were terrible to quilt (and were not parallel either!), the triangles in the border were more enjoyable. I used the background squares to practice different motifs and filler designs I want to learn, so that made them fun.

I used the Ricky Tim piped binding method again, and this time all the corners turned out better. They are far from the way his look, but I think they are as good as my miters using other methods. I still find I am not staying right in the ditch all the time, but again, it is much better than previous attempts at machine stitching the binding! I wander into the pipping, but because the thread color matches the piping, it isn't too visible.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's not my best work, but

Finished is better than perfect! I finished up the quilting on my red monster (my red Out of the Box) quilt top. I ended up quilting triangles filled with straight lines in various directions in the borders, and free motion quilting in the remaining boxes. I used the boxes as an opportunity to practice some free motion motifs, which made them quite enjoyable. Even in the border, somehow just changing directions to fill the triangles made the quilting more enjoyable than the endless straight lines in the body of the quilt. I rather like the quilt again now. There is one place where I really messed up the design in the border, and I am still thinking of whether I should fix it. If the quilt were for my own use, I would leave it, but I am thinking of giving it to a friend's child when I visit the US this summer. It is certainly not my best quilting, but my friend is not a quilter and probably will not really notice...still, I don't like to give someone something that I am not that happy with.

Now all that is left is the binding. I think I will use the Ricky Tim piped binding again to practice it. Last time I had a bit of difficulty with the corners. I will post pictures when it is all done. I have been extremely busy this week, but I should have time to quilt on Sunday. On Monday I leave for Beijing, and then go to Ulan Baatar (Mongolia). I am looking forward to the trip, but I doubt there will do anything quilt related next week. Hopefully I will get some pictures of Mongolia!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Something from China

While I was at the conference the other week, I wore an outfit I bought in China that I think you all would appreciate. As a project for social and economic development, a friend of mine's wife buys old embroidery and traditional items from some of the minority areas in SE China (Guangxi and Guizhou primarily) and remakes them into clothing. They have some really beautiful things.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Log Cabin Update

Since it was a bit difficult to envision my log cabin in different layouts without the black fabric, I began playing with layouts in EQ. I love EQ! Here are some of my favorites. I haven't decided on which one yet, though.

1. Original Layout. I still like something about it.

2. I don't like how much black I am ending up with at the top and bottom, but I really like the center of the layout.3. Barn raising with a border to give a better size. This might be the easiest to quilt.
4. I really like this layout, but I am not sure how I would quilt the large expanses of black.
5. A bit of a variation, with the border all around.
I must have 10-15 other layouts that I tried and just did not like as much as these. I may end up with another 20 before I'm ready to finalize!

WIP 4/11/07

I have been very busy with work, so I haven't gotten much chance to quilt. When I have the time, I have basically been forcing myself to finish up quilting on my red monster quilt. I finished the parallel lines in the main body of the quilt and the quilting around most of the patches, but I still have the borders to do. My parallel lines are not parallel, and I will never do parallel lines over so much of a quilt again. At some point I had decided to extend the parallel lines into the borders, but then, because they were not parallel, I decided to switch directions on my parallel lines at "random" places (actually places where it would soon become abundantly clear the lines were not parallel). That would make the border look like triangles filled with parallel lines. At this point, I am so sick of parallel lines that what I would really like to do is just finish up the border using some relatively large border motif. However, as you can see from this photo, I have this big chunk of border quilted with parallel lines, and the thought of taking them out is not too attractive either. Hmmm.

Oh yes, in case you are wondering, all those threads are there because this quilt was originally going to be hand quilted. Those days are over, I think.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Layout help

Now that my Single Wedding Ring is done (remember, help me with names!), I have been playing a bit with my Log Cabin to try to come up with a layout. Actually, mainly I have been trying to find a solution to some problems with my laptop, which may have a virus that is not being detected. When not doing that, I have been playing with my log cabin blocks. Here are some of the possibilities. I am aiming for a quilt that is at least 70" wide, but several of the layouts would finish naturally at 60". My family likes ample quilt for their feet! Blank places would be filled with black squares or black borders. Please excuse the family debris in the photo, LOL.

#1, My original plan:#2. This is fun, and may be more interesting to quilt, but I might have to add an extra border at the top and bottom to get a usable length.

#3. Barn raising layout with color at the center. Block blocks would fill in the corners, and a wide block border all around.
$4. The playstation cord is such an attractive addition. Additional block border all around.
#5. Black to fill in the first border, and possibly an additional black border at the top and border to make up the length.

Saturday, April 7, 2007


My Single Wedding Ring is finished! You may all be fairly sick of seeing it as I have posted so many pictures as it was in process, but it now has binding. I tried out the piped binding method on the Ricky Tim DVD, and I am pretty pleased with the results. I like the touch of color the piping brings, and it gives me something to do with 1" strips leftover from various projects.

As with any method it will take some practice to really perfect it, but it is certainly an improvement on my previous attempts at machine binding! My previous quilts had stitching wandering in and out of the ditch on the front, and on the back they went from the quilt back to the binding, wandered back on the quilt top. This time, although I am not exactly in the ditch everywhere, you can't really tell unless you are looking pretty closely because the thread just blends in with the piping. On the back I have a nice even line of stitching running just parallel to the binding everywhere except at some of the corners where my miters did not come quite far enough over the line of stitching. The mitering of the corners was definitely the hardest part of this method. I find it fairly easy when just stitching the continuous binding and mitering as I go.

Now I need a name. I am thinking of something like "A flurry of feathers" or "feathered frenzy". All suggestions are welcome. Ah. Now that I write this, I realize I forgot about a label for this quilt. I will either quilt the name and date into the border or into a somewhere, or add a label by hand.