Schooled by a Quilt and Finding My True Style.

What Stella Knows by Maddie @ Domestic Anarchy Studio

Schooled- according to the Urban Dictionary it means to learn a lesson the hard way and that seems about right when it comes to this quilt.

The quilt is ~What Stella Knows*~ and it was to be my entry into the QuiltCon special quilt challenge put on by the fine folks at Dear Stella.

This was going to be my first time going to a larger quilt convention so I thought it would be exciting to see if I could get a quilt in. 

In fact the quilt came to mind pretty quick so when my LQS had some of the Dear Stella fabric I decided to go for it.  My idea was to play with the idea that "Stella" knows that just because it is " Modern Quilting" that the past does not have to thrown out while striving towards the future"

Using MQG principals of large scale, negative space, a primary use of solids and tone on tone  "modern" quilting this quilt had many  modern things going for it and yet it paid tribute to the past with a large Dresden plate in the the center.   ( Can you hear the tragic music starting to play?)

Alas this project as an entry was just not to be. It turns out that this pattern is from the Indigo collection and had been mixed in with the Maasi Mara collection ( the one you could use for an entry) and  I did not check the end of the bolt ( Lesson 1)

Lesson (2) Modern quilting often turns up it's nose at dramatic quilt texture preferring a flatter more simple line for the quilting. ( I think much of this has to do with the stated preference for domestic machine quilting where added loft and dimension are hard to handle) and yet I have found that I don't actually like flat quilts. I love good stitch definition and love that I can get that on my longarm ( which are sometimes snubbed in the MQG world). I went with just 1 (modern) layer of batting on this quilt and while for the work I did ( all freehand in manual mode) it has good relief it would have been so much better to do two for all of it or at the very least under the star which really suffers from flat-itis in this quilt. 

Lesson (3) this quilt did not play to my strengths in many ways and if I had been more true to my personal design sense it could have been amazing but I instead tried to be "modern" which in the end is not true to my design aesthetic.  While I love many modern quilters and can't wait to hang with them at the QuiltCON but when I really think about it I am not as in love with MODERN QUILTS. While there are many that are striking they don't fit in my home therefore I am not really inclined to make a quilt that does not go well in my house.

As is turns out I think I am a Progressive Quilter and that means I  feel comfortable pulling from ALL the schools of style and thought when it comes to putting together a quilt. I think that a Civil War print can play amazingly well with some of today solids and that quilting really does make the quilt. Be it straight lines or dramatic feathers or some of both in the same quilt it is all fair game. 

Lesson (4) I have found a real passion for  Modern wholecloth quilting and will be taking more time to explore that in detail ( hint hint... something fun this way comes!)

The bad- the good- the lesson- School is in Session!

* What Stella Knows is an original design created by me but if you would like to give it a whirl please do so! :)

Roy G. Biv's Dresden - A Love Story

For those who have not been keeping up via Facebook (a bunch more photos there!)  I have been on quite the quilting tear of late. I have discovered my love of whole cloth quilting is a BIG way. As if I needed another passion!

My newest creation is entitled Roy G. Biv's Dresden and it is a 60 inch square whole cloth Dresden patterned  star created totally out of thread.

Since it is still on the the longarm it is very hard to get good photos  but if you are a longarm quilter you know that this project meant a LOT of rolling the quilt back and forth to access the length of each blade which is about 30 inches long.

I tried for a different pattern in each blade but for them also to have some relating element. This worked in most but not all of the blades.

The name Roy G. Biv comes from the mnemonic trick used to remember the colors of the rainbow in order. A school days trick that most kids know but that has seemed to find a place in my head replacing where I left my car keys on a regular basis!

R - ED

In this design I used two shades of each of these colors as well as white and dark gray ( black was just too harsh) to fill the blades of the Dresden.

All of my threads and matching bobbins came from the fine folks at Fil-Tec . Their Glide thread and Delights series was HEAVEN to work with and I don't think I would have tried this project with anything else.  This did mean I bought a lot of thread but ..really who can have too much thread?

Like all my quilts this one started with a story. It might be a bit of a bias on my part but a really great quilt has a story.. a quilt without one is just fabric cut apart and sewed back together again for the hell of it.

Roy G. Biv's Dresden started out as a doodle in my design notebook. A doodle much like I have been prone to do since childhood. A doodle that was just like one I often did in highschool on the front , back and all over my notebooks. You see with my raging A.D.D.  paying attention was HARD and doodling helped me listen.

Like most teen girls I doodled the names of boys I liked and dreamed about what life would be like after I was able to escape school. ( I am sure this has a lot of do with why I have chosen to homeschool my own kids, school was a real soul-sucking experience for me and most of the kids around me)

I dreamed/doodled about finding someone who loved me for my  scatterbrained, creative self and cared for me so passionately that it was awe inspiring. ( Who doesn't..right?)

As I doodled my current design I remembered that girl. The one who made a wrong turn into a a bad-fit marriage soon after highschool ( but got three great kids from it) to one who was the lucky enough to find the love of her life.

To have found him, or more to the point he found me and has made my life amazing!  My husband Les is my rock and my support and my cheerleader. He is the man who did not bat an eye when I requested a longarm for my studio and he is the one who gives me time to create even when the laundry pile is getting a bit deep. He understands that my soul needs time to create. I could not be more lucky.

Life has not always been easy, but never for a moment over all these years would I have wanted to make this journey with anyone else.

The quilt is full of those happy dreaming doodles, six hearts, one for each of my children and a tree.. "carved" with mine and Les's initials  .. since in the end Roys G. Biv's Dresden is more than anything a love story.

Edited: I am VERY excited to announce that  this quilt was just accepted in the Road the California Quilt show!!!
Editing my Edit : Roy is on his way to the New England Quilt show!

Join me at the BadAss Quilters Society  if you would like to follow a long for the rest of this quilts journey.

The BIG Bra Giveaway At Domestic Anarchy

EDIT 8/24/12 

Well SNAP.. Meredith I am sorry that you did not check in ... we are drawing a new winner and that winner is....

Blogger Erin said...
I'd love to enter! crafty_XXX at gmail
August 20, 2012 7:42 AM

Erin please leave a comment here to check by  10:30 pm EST 8/26 to claim your prize!!  Then contact me for details on getting your $70 Moving Comfort Gift Certificate.

Meredith said...
Your commitment to exercise is inspiring! Thanks for the chance to try a new bra. For me it is a frequent excuse not to get moving.

Well it has been 8 weeks since starting the BIG GIRL RUNS project and I have gone from being able to run .. ohhhh 40 feet (then falling to the ground from lack of air) to being able to run about 1/2 mile at a time and I can do two miles of walk/run in about 22 minutes so while no land speed record for sure I am getting there.. this big girl CAN RUN!

Do I love it?.. no.. and I still doing it?.. yes.  What I do like is getting stronger each time, seeing the same people, the high fives from other mom's doing it and the occasional encounter with a baby bunny or a turtle with an attitude ( if you are not following on FB you are missing my 3x weekly updates and photos.. sweaty me.. and you are missing it!)

As I launch into week 9 tomorrow I am also pleased as punch to bring you 
at Domestic Anarchy! 
sponsored by the awesome folks at Moving Comfort

Remember how I wrote about my love for their bras?.. well they think everyone should know, so here is your chance!

The rules are simple and the giveaway is open to those in the U.S.A. (sorry everyone else)

The giveaway begins NOW and will be open through Friday the 24th at 10 pm eastern.

The WINNER drawn by random will  WIN a $70 GIFT CERTIFICATE to buy  1-2  new and totally fantastic bras from Moving comfort 

How amazing is that??

Leave a comment with CONTACT INFO  ( you would be amazed at how many people think I have a crystal ball)

Then for another chance tweet this out and tag me and the blog post so I know you did it and then leave a second comment. 

I am NOT asking you to put this on FB for another chance to win since that is against the FaceBook  TOS (yes I know people do it all the time but rules is rules)  But if you would put it on your Fb feed just because it would be a great help to me.. well I would adore you forever.. really.

RECAP - 1 comment for 1 chance
1 tweet (tagged @maddiekertay and @movingcomfort and this blog post)
and if you really want to make me tingle mention it on FB- pretty please?

Ok... Ready.. set .. WIN!

p.s. Moving Comfort makes bras for ALL sizes of women.. not just big girls. ALL women should be supporting their breast tissue when they work out.. from AA to EEE.

p.s.s. If the chosen winner does not respond to my email  ( or does not leave contact information) and check in as the winner within 24 hours from the the announcement a NEW winner will be chosen - just sayin.. keep your eyes peeled!

Getting Your Kids to Eat Cauliflower Rice

Changes are never easy so taking this house from a full on pasta and rice loving crew to one where we have no grains was not a choice I made lightly.  The mounting evidence is that the excessive carbs in our lives are really harming us and I know from personal experience they are harming me, so for the good of all we have been ditching them from our diet and it has been sort of painful to say the least.

One great substitute for for rice or pasta is Cauliflower rice  but I hear from a lot of people that their kids will not touch it.

In our house the transition  was not as painful as it could have been because my children have very wide and varied eating habits that were instilled from birth ( on that count I am very French, the children ate what we ate ( ground up) from the start no jars of babyfood or chicken fingers around here)

That does not mean that there was not sadness when the noodles and rice  went away but with some careful planning and some culinary magic the change was only a small blip on our  epicurean radar. 

So when asked I give the following advice -

1) Don't make a big deal of it.. on official throwing out of the pasta, just "run out".. you know.. don't buy more instead buy some cauliflower and make some "rice" from it.  

There are lots of tutorials out there about making cauliflower rice but I like the one at Big Red Kitchen the best. And don't worry if you don't have  a big mama-jama blender like her's I used my Hamiton  Beech bar blender and it worked just fine!

2) Cook the rice ahead of time in the microwave -  cook it dry in a microwave safe bowl- 6-8 minutes and then let it cool. Store in glass mason jars. 

3) When ready to use saute with a bit of REAL butter or coconut oil and a pinch of  salt and some onion till heated and just browned.

4) For the first  7..yes 7 times you serve it make sure that it is topped with something amazing and saucy and delicious that your kids already love. For mine that is curry.. any kind of curry.  Other options would be beef stew or a vegan stew if you swing that way. Or even just a really nice cheese sauce if your kids are mice .

As they become accustomed to the flavor you can start making things like  Asian Stir fried " rice" with your new substitute or you might give this Cilantro Lime version a go.. it is wonderful! 

So let's review
1) Don't make a big deal about it
2) Cook ahead
3) Saute with yummy stuff
4) Serve topped with foods that overcome the rice for the first 7 meals.

Happy Eating!

Three Things You Must Sew

With the advent of  the crafty revival there has been the birth of many handy tools and never one used so much as the humble glue gun. While it does have its place in the craft room the over-use and abuse of this tool in today's crafty climate has hit an all time high.

Glue guns are not a replacement for sewing and each time you use one when you should be sewing.. well frankly it just makes you look bad and shouts "amateur" to the world around you.

Rise up ladies and gentlemen .. take your needle and thread in hand and learn at least some simple hand sewing. Basic mending is within the reach of every human. Heck if very young children in small nations can do it for mere pennies an hour you too can do this!

Just three simple things to start - master these and the world of grown-up repair and crafting is your oyster!

BUTTONS - yes the simple button, I can't say how many fantastic items I have found at the thrift for want of only a button. You can do this! 

FIXING A HEMLINEHand-stitching your hem will be the most permanent fix for your pants.
  1. Thread your needle with thread the color of your pants, tie a small knot in the end of the thread.
  2. Mark, turn up and iron in the new hemline then turn inside out.
  3. With the pants inside out, tuck the edge of the fabric down into your crease, keeping it even all around. Pin and press again
  4. Keeping the pants inside out, stitch the top fold of the turned-under fabric to the pant leg.Don't sew too tight, this will cause puckers.

More the visual type - try this video 

RIP OR TEAR - Children rip and tear their clothes all the time but there is no reason to throw these away, with just a few stitches they are as good as new.  The secret comes from interfacing with a small simple patch and using matching thread.
Domestic Anarchy Studio
     Fixing a rip
  1. Iron the area flat and trim any hanging threads
  2. Iron on a small patch of  lightweight Pellon interfacing ( found at the fabric store)
  3. Use a small needle and matching thread ( I would have liked this thread to be a tad darker)
  4. Use small even stitches to catch both the fabric and the interfacing for the best stability of stitch

You can do this!

Creating an Ironing Table- Pressing Like the Cool Kids.

A good pressing can make the difference between "homemade" and "handmade".

Having a sturdy place to do it can take take ironing from a chore to something you adore. OK, maybe not adore but something that you are willing to do given how great it makes your finished projects look!

And while not everyone has room for a stand alone pressing table if you do this is totally the way to go. Getting rid of the ironing board was one of the best things I did when it comes to my sewing studio.

To create - start with a firm waist high table. If your surface is not tall enough add some legs or bed risers to get it up there. Your back will thank you!  Cover the surface in kitchen foil. This will help bounce the heat back up to your project making pressing  more effective and faster!

Next cover the area in padding. Honestly an old towel will do but I used Insul-bright to protect the top of my table and also bounce back more heat.

After that I used a sweet vintage sheet that I knew would not run and I added elastic around the sides of the shape I had cut to match my table top. ( You could also make a drawstring casing)

 Slip it on.. fuss and adjust and there you have it... the Perfect Pressing Surface!

p.s. I would love you forever if you would take a moment to pin this.. come know you don't want to forget to do this!

Your (k)ona Might Not Be My Kona® Cotton

A new quilter mentioned today how nice and silky the fabrics in my quilt felt and she also mentioned how bright and clear the colors were and asked about the fabrics.

Like most projects quite a bit of my fabric had come from my stash so I hazarded a guess at the couple of places I could have gotten the fabrics naming a couple of my favorite online places such a Hawthorn Threads and Pink Chalk as well as my beloved local quilt shop Sew Bee It. 

In the process I mentioned the common phrase that "good fabric costs good money" and that with so much of it costing $10-12 or more dollars per yard some of my fabric was more than a couple of years old but keeping those large scraps of Kona sure paid off. ( I buy very wide solids thus they do cost more per running yard but this works out in ease of not having to piece things and the whole quilt work I am doing)

The quilt fondler looked shocked and said that she never paid more than $2 a yard for "kona" on sale and that the prices I was paying were highway robbery!

That is when it hit me... She had been dragged into the abyss of the great "kona" fraud and my mind spun about trying to find a delicate way to tell her this since honestly it never goes very well. In fact I thought about faking a kidney stone to get out of it. ( yeh, not nice)

In the end I went with the truth. There are various companies that use the word kona for their solid cotton fabrics ( I have even seen some that are poly!) but not all kona is created equal. To my mind there are a couple that have nice similar qualities and are most often found at quilt shops. These brands I feel comfortable buying and the biggest tip off is that they cost quite a bit more than the other pesudo-konas.

Side by side there is no comparison. Good fabrics have a smooth hand and a depth of color that you will not find in the other cheaper cottons. They shrink less and are a much better product for quilting that will last.
To my mind you cannot go wrong with Robert Kaufman Kona® Cottons or any solids that you purchase from an independent quilt shop. 

Where things start to get really murky is when you talk about your big chain fabric stores who are slinging their solid fabric for as little as $4 a yard and calling them kona ( notice little ~k~ and no registration mark)  I won't name names but the worst offended rhymes with Bo-Anns

Some of these large stores do carry good cottons but you have to know what you are looking for. First look at the end of the bolt. Do you recognize the name of the maker? If it is not a big name your chance of a quality cotton is drying up. Look at the price.. really good solids will be $6-7 or more pr yard for normal width (44/45in)

Last -feel it. Is it silky smooth, the the depth of color like falling into a vat of dye?  Or does it feel oddly over starched and the color is less vibrant and maybe is a bit dullish.  If so you probably have a lower  quality  fabric that while just fine for costumes might not be what you want to use in a quilt that you hope to be a family heirloom. 

So I told the fondler the truth, she huffed, and puffed and  said I was crazy that all kona is the same and that independent  quilting stores were just trying to over charge  and that she was loyal to her big-chain store for it's great prices.. 

 As the say.. you can't win them all!  But with a little detective work you can have great fabric if you know what you are looking for!

Happy sewing

Glide Thread - I have a new love - A Stitchy Review

Photo Credit - Maddie Kertay

Thread is what it is all about when you run a longarm quilting machine. The quality of the thread can make a project sing or make the longarmer cry. There is very little in-between and sadly many who have longarm machines think that thread breaks, shredding and tension issues are just part and parcel of owning one of these beastly machines and I will have to admit that I was one of them.

While there were times when I would hit the magic sweet spot of right needle, thread, bobbin tension and the moon being in retrograde I will say that I have spent many frutrating hours trying to get my sttiches just right when I could have been quilting. That is not even taking about rethreading every 10-20 minutes when without warning the  thread would fail.. frustrating, but again I thought it was part of the gig.

So many talked about only having to rethread 10 - 15- 20 times on a quilt top due to breakage that I counted myself lucky when I could do less than that.

And while I was really liked my machine I secretly wondered if it was it.. or  maybe there was some ancient longarming secret that others knew since there were the few that seemed to have little to no trouble and they amazed me.  Of course there were those times when everything went just right and the angels sang.. but the rest of the time they just hummed.

It was with great interest that I noticed the the company that made the magnetic bobbins for my commerical embroidery machine also did thread and bobbins for  L and M sized longarms.  I had long loved Maga-glide pre-wound bobbins for their high yardage count and smooth perfect tension performance so I was pretty jazzed to think I might get the same sort of performance at my longarm. Glide is a 40 wt. Trilobal Polyester making it thin enough for aggressive thread work but strong enough to hold up to active long arm play.
Magna Glide Delights

I started with a small order  and was really extra excited to see that Fil-Tec not only had a huge selection of colors but also a subset of colors that had matching bobbins ( be still my beating heart) so that I could match or contrast the back in fronts of my quilts with colorful abandon.

Right away I will say that I am a sucker for a prewound bobbin. Yes they are about $1 each but with my M sized bobbins that means even the largest quilt is only going to use three of them. What is $3 for perfect tension and flawless performance?- chump change I say.

I could wish for more colors in the matched Delights series but I am told more Delights are in the works so I am delighted as well! Currently there are about 52 matching shades.

My order came quickly and soon I was swooning over some really luscious thread colors and matching pre-wound bobbins for all of them. To start with I got a grey and cream and a sweet shade of baby blue that is almost a grey as well. I also picked out a stunning thead set with an orchid, bronze and other wonderful colors in the larger sized cones.

Fil-Tec makes their thread in both minicones that have around 1000 yards and  king cones with 5000 yards. This makes it easy to get all your basics in the bigger size and then go wild with fun colors in the small cones.

Light Grey Glide on the back of Fans of Fall

I had heard that some longarmers worry that the Gilde thread might have a bit too much soft shine or shimmer on some of the more traditional quilts they  work on so I spent some time comparing and while in some colors you will have a more luminous appearance especially in high contrast situations, when I use the grey Glide thread on my two tone grey fabric the appearance was not at all distracting or "blingy". So while not the matte appearance of cotton  I can't see me having an issue with this thread on most any quilt I will be working on.

Totally invisible  on the back of Nevermore

In the end the proof was in the pudding as they say. The last three quilts I have done ( since my first order I have ordered quite a bit more thread!) I have had NO thread breaks and tension woes are a thing of my past! I can't say how wonderful this is and better yet the right thread has me back in love with my machine again and excited about future quilting projects.

Speaking of projects here are a few peaks at quilts I have done in the past couple of weeks!
Fans of Fall - and original design by myself.
Sweet Summer made from vintage sheets.

This has been a non-compensated product review - I am just sharing the love!

Things Not to Ask a New Runner _ Big Girl Runs

Keepin it real folks -post run, no makeup

Today ended week 6 of my quest to run the 5K at Disney in January for my 45th birthday.  Did I mention that I have not worked out in over 23 years?.. or that I am a good 40 pounds overweight, menopausal and have some sort of freaky autoimmune thing?

I KNOW.. what the hell was I thinking? and yet here I am doing it. But honest to pancakes each time I curse and fume and wonder why I made this rash choice since so far I have no " runners high" or "feel good moments".. I have sweat, chafing and calves that burn like liquid lava.. oh yeh and I have the red blotchy face thing as well.. sweet huh?

This shit be hard!.. I know hard.. I gave birth to 6 kids, a couple of them well over 10 pounds.. this sucks more.. really. At least at the end of labor you get a baby, at the end of running I get dry heaves!

But even better than the dry heaves are the questions people have asked me.. actually I have started avoiding talking to all the people I know who are already runners.. non- runners..  I can do their questions.. " does it hurt?" ( yes).. "have you pee'd on yourself yet?" ( no-thank gawd). These are questions I am cool with ( yes even the pee question). The ones that kill me go like this...

"How many miles are you running by now, must be at least 3 or 4" - People let's review, I have been running for 6 weeks after not doing ANY exercise for 23 years, I am 40 pounds overweight.. of course I am not running 3 or 4 miles yet!!!   Your question while I am sure was not meant to make me feel like crap.. it has - enough said. ( For the record I can run about 1/2 to 3/4 of the 2 mile loop but not all at once I still need walking breaks, like 4-5 of them for about 1-3 minutes each)

"You must really be losing weight now that you are running" - uhh no.. in fact I have gained 8 freaking pounds if that is humanly possible. And not I don't want to talk about it.

"Don't you just LOVE IT" - No I don't and if I could mind wipe the whole world  to forget my rash promise I would be enjoying sleeping in.. but instead I am out running at 7 am 3 times a week hating just about every moment of it with the exception of seeing baby bunnies nibbling on grass and that one guy who runs with his shirt off. {sigh}

"It gets better - I promise"  - Could someone give me a time table on the " it gets better thing" since while I can run further each time my legs still hurt like holy hell - that is all.

P.s. Other guy who today told me today that my bra (strap) was showing.. F-U