Monday, December 19, 2011

With Christmas shopping, baking and general fun taking up a lot of my time lately, I had put aside my machine quilting project.  This photo is the before shot of "Bittersweet Too" taken before I started quilting it.  I blogged a few weeks ago about the difficulties I was having with tension, needle size and the wool batting.  

I think it's a good idea to step away from something that is frustrating you or is just not fun (unless you have a serious deadline breathing down your neck).  It's also necessary to have your sewing machine cleaned and serviced regularly (I do have this done, but it was overdue).  I combined my machine service visit with a fun Christmas lunch and shopping with a good friend.  

Al, who does my machine servicing, said you really should not mess with your bobbin tension (I confessed that I had REALLY messed with it).  This is controversial and I know you can do it with care.  But he did say, just adjust the top tension if needed.  

So, I was ready to give this machine quilting mystery a shot again.  I started with a warm-up to check my tension.  What actually worked for me was to increase the top tension.   I had immediate success and somehow, it all just felt better.  I'm now doing free motion background quilting as shown here:

The results are not too bad!  3 more of these background sections to finish, then on to the borders.  

I have also changed my opinion about wool batting.  While I'd still say it's not exactly what a beginner might want to use, it really is wonderful to work with.  It is so light and just feels great.  It does have more loft and you must be aware of this and plan you quilting accordingly.  But, I do believe I'll choose it again.  Yes, I will continue to machine quilt - my smaller projects at least.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our applique group which meets the first Wednesday of every month at Your Arts Program, Manitowish Waters will participate in the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.  We are each completing a quilt for the "Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt" project.  Read more:

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative™ ( is a national, grassroots charity whose mission is to raise awareness and fund research. The AAQI auctions and sells donated quilts, and sponsors a nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's. The AAQI has raised more than $679,000 since January 2006.

Ami Simms of Flint, Michigan is the founder and executive director of the AAQI, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operated entirely by volunteers. She is a quilter. Her mother had Alzheimer's.

The AAQI currently sponsors two major programs:

Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope
The first is a nationwide traveling quilt exhibit called "Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope." It features 182 "Name Quilts" six inches wide and seven feet tall, containing the names of more than 10,000 individuals who have or had Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. Hanging among the Name Quilts are 53 small format art quilts (9" x 12") that each interpret Alzheimer's in some way. The exhibit will tour the United States for 5 years.

Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts
The second is the "Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts" project, so named for the urgent need for research dollars and the hope that quilters across the country would make participation in this project a priority. These small quilts fit inside flat rate cardboard priority mailers from the USPS, which the group uses to ship quilts to winning bidders after monthly online auctions.

There are an estimated 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease. We believe we can make a difference, one quilt at a time.

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative
1200 Creekwood Trail
Burton, MI 48509

Each quilt will measure no larger than 9" x 12".  Our group theme is "birds" and most of us will design our own quilts.  Any method of applique can be used.  We have not set a deadline and are encouraging more quilters to join in.  

For my quilt, I decided to hand applique folk art birds in wool felt on a cotton background.  This is just the beginning as I plan to embellish and add borders etc.  You'll note some of my own hand-dyed wools in the photo.  I haven't done any wool applique for some time, so I'm excited to work on this project.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Fun of Applique

Recently,  Your Arts Program in Manitowish Waters, where we hold our applique group meetings, created and donated a Christmas tree for the Festival of Trees, an annual fund raiser for the library.  The trees are bid on and sold.  All of the ornaments for this tree were hand made.  I made the one above, using one of my applique designs from my quilt “Woods and Wildflowers”.  

Here is the center block of that quilt featuring this little bird which I just love - it could be a chickadee....

Or maybe a cardinal. Here, I used my design again to create this little bag for a Christmas gift for someone who loves cardinals.

So, you can see how much fun applique can be. A favorite design motif can be used in many different projects.