Archive for August, 2010



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Hearts for Evona part 2

Ok, where were we? Go back to part 1

Oh yes, I had made a test block with the appli-curves method.

The next step is to trim away the background fabric behind the appliqued heart to eliminate bulk.

Next, you cut the blocks diagonally through the center of the hearts and matching the opposite halves, sew the blocks back together using a 1/4″ seam. I starched the blocks before the cutting/sewing step to help minimize bias stretch. Elaine doesn’t tell you how to press this seam, I pressed mine open.

As far as the size test, mine were very close to the 6.5″ I needed but they weren’t perfect. So I think the best strategy when working with the proportion wheel is to add 1/4″ to the size you really want to finish up with and then when the block is sewn, square it up to your chosen size.

That worked very well for my real blocks. I only sent the first one pictured to Evona as the second one doesn’t match up ¬†as well. If it had been more acceptable (to me), I would have sent them both.

This is not a hard block to construct and when you make 4 of them and put them together, they form a very pretty flower shape.

Oh and the show-through adhesive? Must have been user error, because I didn’t have any problems with it this time. I also was careful to keep my adhesive under the 1/4″ seam line so that it would be covered by the seam allowance.


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Hearts for Evona

One of the members of my online quilt guild, the Cyberbees, lost her husband unexpectedly. As is our tradition, the Cyberbees will shower her with a “Heart Attack,” heart blocks, hopefully enough for her to make a quilt out of someday.

Sadly, we’ve had several occasions like this, but when we do, I like to use the opportunity to try a new design or method. There are a lot more ways to make a heart block than just appliqueing the traditional shape to a square piece of fabric.

The method I’m trying this time is from the book “appli-curves” by Elaine Waldschmitt. I saw her demonstrate the technique on an episode of Sewing with Nancy not long ago and made a mental note that I wanted to try this someday. I was at Joann’s a few weeks ago and actually found one copy of the book (with a CD of templates included) but it had a few pages near the front that were ripped near the binding. These pages didn’t affect the important parts of the book so I negotiated a deeply discounted price. Yippee!

Without giving all of Elaine’s secrets away, the idea of “appli-curves” is to replace some traditionally pieced elements with ones that are appliqued instead. The problem I ran into right off the bat is sizing. We are making 6.5″ unfinished blocks. I had scanned the template I needed, brought it into EQ7 and traced it. I then set the motif on a 6″ finished block (Electric Quilt works with finished sizes) and printed out the template. Because of the construction technique, I wasn’t sure if this template would really work. So I read through the book’s instructions more closely and realized that Ms. Waldschmitt doesn’t give you any tips for making her blocks in other sizes, all the instructions are for the one size. I emailed her and asked her for guidance to make a smaller, 6″ block and she didn’t have any ideas. So, I got out my proportion wheel and determined that I needed to reduce her template by 77-78%. I did that on a copy machine and the template is much larger than what I got out of EQ7. So for now, I’m going with that.

I have to make 2 blocks, cut them in half diagonally and sew the opposite halves back together. This one step is the one that I feel makes my EQ template worthless unless I can figure out how to size the template proportionately. Just making the block a normal finished size isn’t going to cut it.

So here are my hearts with Heat and Bond Lite attached. This is a test block for size and any other unforeseen complications. Like this next one.

Uh oh, the adhesive shows through the white fabric! This is from my stash, so I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t thin. I do fusible applique all the time and I’ve never come across this problem before. Thank goodness this is just a test.

Here the hearts have been appliqued to the background fabric (across the top only).

To be continued… here


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Studio session

I’ve been collecting items to start a DIY photo studio. White foamcore board for a foreground and background, black velvet for a background, small sheet of plexiglass for reflections, etc. What I don’t have yet are studio lights, so I will have to make do with my Speedlite and any other light sources I can scrounge around the house.

This weekend, as we were doing some yard work, we found a large fuzzy caterpillar. I decided to use him as a studio subject and put him and a piece of greenery into a small container with the lid slightly ajar and put it in the refrigerator. I had read somewhere that successful insect shooters say that this technique slows the insects down so that they sit still long enough to be photographed. Supposedly 10 minutes is all it takes, but unfortunately I forgot about him for 24 hours. When I remembered I ran to get the little guy out of the fridge. I was afraid I’d killed him as he was coiled up in a circle, so I put the container outside to warm him up faster. And it worked. He was still alive. Yay! I don’t want PETA to come after me (if he had died you wouldn’t be reading this post today).

So I hurriedly put my “studio” together in the living room: card table, foamcore, velvet.

Hopefully you can see my pitiful setup in this photo. I also wanted to try the new “tethering” option in Lightroom 3, where you connect your camera to your computer and when you press the shutter, the photo is imported straight into LR3 and you can see it much larger on screen than on the camera’s LCD. So the camera is on the tripod, connected to the computer and the Speedlite is mounted on my Gorillapod and connected to the camera with my new 20-something-foot cord. I brought an Ott Light down from the quilt studio and experimented with it and various positions for the Speedlite. I also tried various combinations of lamp light in the room and decided that I needed to have them all on to enhance the Speedlite. I also changed the setting on the Speedlite to 2nd curtain sync, something I’ve been wanting to try.

Before I brought Mr. Caterpillar in, I took some test shots of a small candle. This is the best of those.

I took a million shots of Mr. Caterpillar, and he was on the move. I should have put him back in the fridge for a few minutes.

He was really getting tired of this and I felt I’d tried everything with the equipment I had, so I took him outside and put him back where we found him, under a bush. But he didn’t want to go that way, he wanted to high-tail it across the driveway. I was afraid he’d get run over, so I finally persuaded him to get under that bush and stay there.

John looked at my test shots and didn’t like that line of demarcation between the black background and the white foreground, so he readjusted the velvet so that it was both the background and foreground. I tried a bowl of fruit to see what kind of still life shots I could get.

This composition isn’t great because it’s straight-on to the bowl.

This one is a little better. Velvet may not be the best fabric to use as it showed some lint once I brought the image into Photoshop. But I was able to clone those out.

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My neighbor

Let me tell you about my neighbor, Sarah. Not blonde, but completely ditsy.

Last year, this hibiscus came up from seed in our side yard, outside the back gate. This isn’t an area that I normally visit, about all that’s on that side of the house are the air conditioning units. The gate to the backyard is pretty rickity and there’s not much reason to use it. So I wouldn’t have planted anything here deliberately, but it was pretty so I cultivated it.


A few weeks ago I was out in the front yard, watering or pulling weeds or admiring my oak leaf hydrangea (which I do frequently) and Sarah was over in her yard watering her garden alongside my fence on “that” side of the house. She called me over to chat.

I was expecting to see this, because I’d taken this photo just a few weeks before. It had several flower buds on it and I was happy that it had come back from last year:


Instead I saw a hole where the plant had been. My first thought was that voles had gotten to it, but there would have been evidence of the damaged foliage laying around. There was nothing.

I shrieked, what happened? Sarah said, in her nonchalant, truthful as a child, way, “Oh I pulled it up. I thought it was a weed and I thought you were waiting for me to pull it, so I did.” Never mind that it was clearly on my side of the property line. Never mind that I would never want her to pull weeds for me. When I told her it was a hibiscus, she was shocked. She likes to garden and she knows what they are, but she didn’t know there are perennial versions (or at least “winter hardy”).

She had the good sense to be very embarrassed and insisted on replacing it. And I was very willing to let her do that. I told her the flowers were white and to make sure she didn’t get an annual variety.

Sure enough, the next week she had bought a plant (I stole the tag so that she wouldn’t throw it out, I save them. Good thing I did because she told me later that she didn’t even know there was a tag. See what I mean?) And the week after that she planted it.

John and I have been watering it daily through all these triple-digit heat waves we’ve been having. Yesterday I was rewarded with the first bloom. And there are many more buds on it.

It’s not the same variety as the one she pulled up, but this is just as pretty. The flower is bigger than the original too.


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White Sands National Monument

I am way behind on my posting. Anya is a month old today, so I’m about 3 weeks behind.

White Sands National Monument

We did get to do a little sightseeing before we left Alamogordo. White Sands National Monument (and the missile range) are about a 1/2 hour from Holloman AFB, where we were staying, so we took a few hours on Sunday afternoon to check it out. (Speaking of the missile range, do you know they close Hwy 70 when they’re testing missiles? That’s the main (only?) road between Alamogordo and Las Cruces. Imagine that traffic jam.)

The terrain here is so much different than the desert that surrounds it. The sand is made of gypsum and is cool to the touch. You can walk on it barefoot in the middle of summer, it doesn’t absorb heat, it reflects it.

There were storms all around us. One thing to say for the New Mexico desert, it has awesome storms. This one looked like a mushroom cloud. We were hiking a 1 mile nature trail loop and of course, I left the umbrella in the car. The trail wasn’t that exciting and I was more interested in getting back to the car as soon as possible. Fortunately, the rain didn’t reach us until we were driving out of the park. Good timing!

I don’t know that I would have thought of this place as an afternoon’s entertainment (other than sightseeing, of course) but a number of families were there picnicking I suppose:

And you can rent saucers in the gift shop and sled down the dunes:

It wasn’t all desolate sand dunes, there was a little color to be found:

And interesting texture:

The visitor’s center is styled in the traditional adobe manner:

And I leave you with this. Just because.


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