Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'll Tumble for ya'

No, this post is not about the eighties band Culture Club.  Ha ha. If you missed yesterday's post about a surprise for my mom you can read it HERE.   Last weekend I showed you the beginnings of a tumbler quilt.  This weekend, between all the other things I have to do, I plan to work on it some more. Last night (Friday) I cut out a stack of tumbler shapes (bottom of photo.)

The other part,  the part of a top I did last week top right,)  is already quilted and waiting for some friends to join it.  I also had some left over sections from last weekend (top left.)

Hopefully, I will have time to at least piece one more section of the top.  If I am really really lucky, I will get it layered and quilted.  Then I will join the pieces using the "Finish Almost Any Quilt" method.

Quiting close-ups

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Quick Little Project

Yesterday I stopped by Mom's house, as I usually do after work.  She wanted to go get some takeout, so we did.  We ate and talked.  Mom has a birthday coming up, so I asked what she wants for her birthday.  "I just want y'all kids to be happy, that's all." she said.  Hmm... I can't buy that or sew it either.  I will come up with something, I think. 
We also discussed a little retreat that she is going on with "the church ladies."   Mom is so excited about it.  She has been talking about it for weeks. She was given a list of things she needs to take with her. She has all but one of those things in a stack on the guest bed. (I told you she is excited about it.) However, she didn't have a notebook to take (she wants a nice clean new one. )  I told her I thought I had a spare one at home.
So after spending some time with Mom. I went home and found the internet not working. Arrrgh.  After some time on the phone with tech support, I found the bad cable and replaced it.
Then I decided to make a little project for Mom.
I had made quite a few of these quilted journals in the past:
So, knowing that Mom's favorite color is yellow,  I dug into my stash and found some nice fabric from Riley Blake.   I had three fat quarters which is plenty for one of these with leftovers for something else. I also saw a strip of a yellow blender fabric so I added it also.
I sewed up the journal cover and put it on the composition book.  Then this morning I got to work early and "borrowed" one of the dogwoods in the parking lot for a photo shoot.

You may notice that you really only see two of the Riley Blake fabrics, one on the cover and the other as the flaps.  The third one is the lining which will only really be seen when the notebook is removed.  It is the pink version of the cover fabric.  I hope Mom likes this little surprise!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What a couple of days!

Yesterday and today have been "interesting. "  So I haven't gotten anything new to show.  So what happened?
Yesterday started out great.   My boss, a co-worker and I went on a "road trip."  We were serving as technical assistance for one of our partner agencies.  We were supposed to go for a tour and make suggestions.  Then we were going back to the office.  Sounds like a good day, huh?  Yeah I thought so too.  A day out of the office is usually enjoyable work.  We were asked to help with a few extra things, which is all a part of what we do.  So we said "Sure, glad to help."
Lunch time rolled around and we decided to all go out to lunch together. I was riding with out partner agency rep and my boss and co-worker were going in the bosses car.  We left the parking lot and got down the road a piece (that is southern for a short distance.)  The cell phone rang. "Help, can y'all come back and jump us off, my car won't start."  We went back, hooked up the jumper cables and tried. Bosses car made not a sound. No "errrr errr errrrrr;" no "click click click" NOTHING.   We decided to load up in the one good car and go to eat.  When we got back a little more diagnosis made us sure it wasn't the battery.  So the boss called AAA to send help.
It turned out to be the starter.  It was no longer serviceable.  So they towed it to the shop and replaced the starter.   Did I mention that we were almost two hours drive from the office?  We were very late getting back.  I was exhausted - so I was lazy last night.

I had plans to come home and get some pictures today while there was still light and post them.  I fired up the computer and realized - no internet!  Yikes!  After a while on the phone with my provider we tracked it down to a bad ethernet cable.  Lucky me, I am a geek so I had a spare.  However, now the decent light is gone.  All I had to show is a section of quilt that is quilted. It is the tumbler quilt I posted this past weekend.  You will see that another day.

Today you get some art to enjoy (I hope.)  I am sharing a piece that was on a card I sent with an order from my Etsy store to one of my darling blog readers.
Most of my art that I show is available on notecards by request.  This reader got one of my limited edition greeting cards.  Here is the painting that was printed on her card:
Franklin Gorge
This is an abstract landscape done in acrylic inks.  The original was sold several years ago, but as the artist I retain the right to sell prints.  I love doing this type of abstract landscape.  I hope you enjoy viewing it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quilting Again - Tumblers and Rags

I posted the Blog Hop winners HERE earlier on Saturday.

I have been "sitting" with the friend who is my camera man for my videos.  He had some surgery and needed someone to assist for a few days.  (Just so you know he is eating my cooking and is still alive.) Of course I looked on this as a chance to have a private quilt retreat. While the big guy is asleep, I am sewing away.

First a little "back story" :
I bid on and won a rag quilt die on eBay.  I was so excited to get it.  When the package arrived I opened it and went "Whaaaa....???"  They sent a 6 1/2" square die. Arrrgh!  So I contacted the seller thru eBay.  They didn't respond so I opened a case.  (I got a full refund.)  What I didn't get was the rag die!   So I found one on Amazon that I could get with QUICK shipping.  It arrived the day of the surgery.  That night I cut a LOT of rag 8 1/2" squares. I had already cut up the batting squares as soon as I won the auction. (note to self  "don't count your chickens.....")  I sewed up a nice rag quilt. See:
Front with raggy goodness
The back of the rag quilt

.And I took it to the deck and took a picture on one of the old rusty metal chairs, cause I love seeing "artsy" pictures.
Maybe I ain't so good at Artsy Photos
I also pulled out my big Tumbler die and cut a bunch of those shapes.  Then I sewed and sewed (when I wasn't playing nurse.) There are actually four rows of tumblers..but one is hanging on the back.
Do you see my humility block?
I don't know how that happened

I tried for artsy again by hanging this on one of the low branches in the persimmon tree.

The wind was blowing and the picture blurred....can you say "major photo failure" ?  Yeah, I thought you could.

I have to say that sewing is a great way to stay busy when you are patient sitting. With the good pain meds he is taking (hey they drilled through the bone!) the sweet sound of the sewing machine humming along doesn't bother him at all.

Colonial Needle Blog Hop Winners

The Random number generator was used to pick the two prize winners.   I have been "patient sitting" with a friend who had some ankle surgery so I did it quickly and didn't even think about capturing the images of the random numbers.
Anyway ------DRUMROLL----------

The Winner of the first prize package

(the Big one!) is  Sallie

I would be happy with either prize! Thank you! I just saw 2 deer out my window and that made me happy!

I usually just see dogs and squirrels and traffic out my window.  Thanks Sallie, you did make me smile.

The second winner of the prize package -
 the one with a bookmark I made is  Seeing Stars

Gene, I'd be thrilled with either prize! It's always fun to try new tools. I was given a needlebook as a gift once, but alas those old habits ... I still use the needle stuck through a piece of fabric most of the time.
I had to laugh about the comment about not using the needlebook.  Funny thing, I titled a post "Seeing Stars"  - I wonder if I saw her "name" and subconsciously used it for the title of the post.   The real surprise was when I contacted her and found out she is in Alabama also.  
Ladies, your prizes will be in the mail as soon as I can get them posted. 

The blog hop is still going today and tomorrow at 
Saturday, April 21 – Love Affair with my Brother
Sunday, April 22 – Catpatches

I do believe both of them will have something to give away.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seeing stars

If you are looking for my Colonial Needle blog hop post, it is HERE

Stars have been playing a big role on my machines lately.   I have, of course, made several of the stack and cut ones for my QOV quilt.   But then I changed gears a little and tried some other stars.
I got some machine embroidery(ME for short) files from Marjorie at Marjorie's Quilting Bee. She has some great ME files for sale in her shop.
Anyway, I decided to take a little "short cut" with some stars.  So I cut some fabric and headed to the embroidery machine.  Here are the ones I did so far:
 You should know that I added the small stars to the design with my machine.  The small stars are a built-in stitch and I just used my machine's edit feature to add them.
 Don't you just love the star fill (in white) ? I think it just makes it pop in a great way.
The outlining on this one is amazingly soft. I looked at the tech sheet and saw the design and thought it would be stiff and make it rough feeling.  Guess what?  Not at all. It is soft and beautiful.  The picture really doesn't do it justice.

Then I pulled out a wall hanging that I started ....... err..... a while  ago.  It didn't have any real plan or goal in mind, so I have never rushed to finish it. No, it still isn't finished BUT,  Kelly, at I Have a Notion, is having a little "Bling your Thing" photo sharing thing going.  So I decided to add my bling to the wallhanging.
I got out my clover mini iron (because I don't have the really cool tool Kelly used to set her crystals) and I got the hot set crystals (that I bought a couple of weeks ago on a whim.)
I looked at the hanging and said "The star could use some sparkle!"  So I sparkled it.
As random as the wall hanging is, I didn't worry about precise placement on these. (okay, so I didn't get them where I wanted them....I guess I need one of those tools.)

As you can see, I haven't trimmed it  yet.  I may decide to add some borders too it.  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Colonial Needle Blog Hop - Giveaway

Closed!!!! Winners to be announced soon.

Today is my turn to tell you about Colonial Needles.  I have to say that they have some great products.  I was graciously sent a number of them to try AND some more of them to give away.  
Should I tell you that I don't want to give away the Pebble Quilting needles? Ha ha, it is true but I am keeping the Pebble Sharps for myself.  You see, the Pebble is a very clever way of packaging needles in a sweet hard plastic case that has an attached hinged lid (so a klutz, like me,  can't lose the lid.) Also they are very handy to carry around. you can put it in my your pocket and not worry because the lid snaps shut.  You know you got it closed. Well, yes, you can also put it in your purse or briefcase or just about anywhere. Mine will live in that compartment in the front of my sewing machine.  It will replace the tacky scrap of fabric with a couple of needles stuck in it.  And I won't have to worry about digging in there and sticking a needle in my finger - it has happened more than once!

But there are also other practical items for both quilters and sewists alike.  One cool item is a U shaped magnet.  There was discussion among the Blog Hop writers about making a "necklace" of it.  That way when you drop a pin/needle etc.  you can just use the necklace magnet to retrieve it.  Because I am the curious sort, I even tried it with a metal foot from my sewing machine. Yes, it will lift those too. (Of course you probably never drop a foot while you are changing it. But I do.) 

Giveaway?  Yeah, I thought you were waiting for this:  I have a nice package of goodies to give away. 
Included and shown below are these:  Brass safety pins, black snap fasteners, a Peeble of quilting needles, a U shaped magnet, a retractable tape measure, and a seam ripper. (You do know that seam rippers get dulled and need replaced, don't you?)   This is the Big prize package.

However, there is a second prize just because I can.  I am sending out a small machine embroidered lace bookmark in a rose pattern AND the cardboard pack of quilting "betweens" needles. 

There is a reason I decided to give a bookmark. I was making one special for a church friend (a cross design) and the water soluble stabilizer must have loosened in the hoop.  All the lace wasn't caught around the edges by the satin outline stitch.  I took one of the smallest Colonial Betweens and used it to repair the piece.  WOW that tiny needle was able to slide between the tight satin stitches and I was able to repair the bookmark.  So, although I don't hand quilt, I can see that these would be great for hand quilting as they would slip through the fabric so easily.

Now, how do you register for the giveaway? Hmmmm.... how about you leave a comment and tell me if you want to win the big prize only, the second prize only, or if you would love to win either one.  And if you can, tell me something that will make me smile! I read EVERY comment.

I will choose a winner on April 20. Entries are open until I post CLOSED.  I must hear back from the winner quickly -so if I haven't heard back by Saturday morning, the 21st, I will choose another winner. So be sure that I can contact you, either by having your email available in blogger OR by including it in your entry comment.  I plan to mail the prizes on Monday, thus the need for a quick reply.

Here are the other stops in the blog hop - be sure to visit them all.

Sunday, April 15 – Lilypadquilting
Monday, April 16 –SewCalGal
Tuesday, April 17 – Gene Black (you are already here!)
Wednesday, April 18 –HillbillyHandiworks
Thursday, April 19 – SewBittersweet Designs
Friday, April 20 – It’s So Kiki
Saturday, April 21 – Love Affair with my Brother
Sunday, April 22 – Catpatches

Most of these bloggers are already ones I followed prior to the Blog Hop.  I am now following them all. I can highly recommend them to you.
Have fun and good luck in the giveaway.
If I get deluged with comments, I may not be able to reply to them.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday April 15

Hi folks,  I have been mostly lazy today.  I did make one cross bookmark that a friend commissioned, but it looks just like the others so I am not showing it today.

I wanted to remind you about the Colonial Needle Blog Hop that is this week.
I will be the Hop Stop on Tuesday.  Please come by, there will be prizes!!!
By the way,  you may have noticed the ads on my blog.  If  you click on them it helps me earn a little money so that I can pay for prizes and shipping.  I don't control what ads are put there, but sometimes I want to click them myself - but that is a no-no according to the terms. So click as you will. Some of them look pretty interesting.

I was checking my YouTube channel this morning and saw that my video on 'Cutting Bias Binding' has exceeded 15, 000 views (are you kidding me? fifteen thousand?) It occurred to me that some of you may not have seen it yet.  It also occurred to me that I have two quilts that need binding.  Maybe I should watch this again.  Do you have quilts that are waiting for binding?

Are there other ideas you have for videos I could make? I am open to suggestions.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

ME - Machine Embroidery

Once I bought the embroidery machine I started learning new acronyms. ME is Machine Embroidery.  FLS is Free Standing Lace.  So now I do ME FSL.  I also sell some of these in my Etsy shop.
Here is a picture of a special order I just completed last night.

While I was making the last couple of these I learned a valuable lesson.  You would think I should know this already.  Change your sewing machine needle on a regular basis! (It is even more important on an embroidery machine.)
Here is what happened:
My machine kept breaking thread frequently. I did all the re-threading and even tried embroidering something else with other thread to no avail. I was so dis-heartened. I thought the machine had developed a fatal flaw. Then, while at work and away from it, I had an epiphany. So when I got home last night, I changed the needle. (duh!) What a difference! Of course, I re-tried one of the threads that was breaking and discovered that it does break even with a new needle. LOL….so that thread will be used elsewhere. Some threads just don't do well with the high speed of an embroidery machine.

Here is another bookmark that I sold on Etsy.
I have also done some FSL bookmarks on sparkly organza. It gives them a different look, but it doesn't photograph well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Winner! and more eye candy

Apparently my email got "lost in the ether" as we geeky guys say.  I did get in touch with the winner. Give a big congratulations to Linda.
Linda said:Eat, Sleep, QuiltApr 3, 2012 07:31 AM

Gene, what a lovely star block - I'm a fan of stars! Thanks for the tutorials, I like both video and written instructions, but if I had to choose I'd take the words-and-picture format because I can print it and take it to my sewing room.

You make the wavy seam look so easy, thanks again!

Linda will be receiving the fabric and Aurifil thread.  Thanks to you all for your comments.   I learned a few things from you.

Now the eye candy.  This is a painting that I did a few years ago.  I am still undecided if it is finished or if I should go in and add to it.

Land of Fire
by Gene Black
Of course the big question is "what would I add to it?"   Yeah, I don't really expect you to answer that but if you have an epiphany, please let me know. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Just a little update to let you all know that I did pick a winner for the QOV prize.   I have emailed the winner and I am waiting for a reply.  Once I get a reply I will announce the winner.

I hope you are having a great day. (check your email - just in case it was YOU)

And because I dislike making a post without a picture, here are some sunflowers to brighten your day.
Dancing Sunflowers by Gene Black

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter 2012

I am re-sharing a picture of a wall hanging that I designed and made for my Nana.  Now, you should know that Nana is not related to my by blood.  Rather she is my Nana by mutual choice.  I consider her a gift from God.
So making this was an act of love. It is not nearly as well made as I would like, but she would not allow me to take it back and remake once she had it.  We both love the use of batiks in it.
"Radiating Love" 
I hope you have a blessed Easter.  He is RISEN.  The Lord is Risen indeed!

Friday, April 06, 2012

QOV Blog Hop Final Day

Today, Friday April 6, 2012 is the final day of the Quilts of Valor Blog Hop.  I just wanted to remind you that  the last post is a recap over on Marjorie's Quilting Bee.
This has been a great hop and a lot of fun. I hope lots of you have been inspired to make quilts, quilt tops or blocks for the QOV project.  Now HOP on over Majorie's for the grand finale.

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. That in the past has seemed to me to be such an oxymoron. But my older, wiser self sees that sometimes good comes from pain, loss and anguish. So today we celebrate not the death of Christ. Rather it is GOOD Friday because out of the death, agony and anguish came the glorious goodness of salvation for a sinner such as I.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Don't forget to visit the Quilts of Valor blog hop.  Today's stop is at North Hills Quilter.   Marilyn is showing a great quilt idea.  You don't want to miss it.

Judy at Sew Fun Quilts has a special post that she put up this past Monday.  She is also "selling" some pre-fused, pre-cut stars in her Etsy Shop  for the cost of shipping. These are great for applique on a QOV quilt.

I hope you are having a great day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Quilts of Valor Blog Hop (and a prize!)

Giveaway is now CLOSED. Thank you.

Welcome to the GO for a Star Quilts of Valor (QOV) Blog Hop. The main page for the blog hop is on Marjorie's blog here.

I am sharing a quilt pattern I designed in Electric Quilt 7 on my computer.  I call this quilt "Long May She Wave"

There are two layouts.  Just adjust based on the size of your blocks. Smaller block sizes require more blocks to make it the desired size.  You can also add borders to achieve the proper size.

I tried designing a traditionally pieced five pointed start for this quilt.  I came up with one. It just looked sad.
So I went back to the drawing board and did a paper pieced version.Here is an image that a dear friend, Tonya, tested for me.

She said that it works well. So if you want to paper piece stars; the file can be downloaded here .  I discovered that although I started out quilting with paper piecing, I don’t love it.  So I went back to the drawing board again!

This time I spent a lot of time thinking about the techniques I have used that I like and don’t like.  I really don’t like the tedious act of cutting out pieces using templates.

While I was thinking about this, I noticed part of the quilt n my bed.   I saw a nice sharp point. Hmmm….. I did this by layering fabric and cutting thru it and rearranging the layers.   So I tried it with three little sheets of paper and some tape.   Hey that looks like it will work.  So I took the pieces of paper to the sewing area to follow along with.  (I drew a diagram as I went so I could follow it  since  it worked on paper!)

What do you think?   The stars are not perfect but they are five pointed stars AND they are easy to make.   (These are untrimmed in the picture)

So here is how you make them:
First  cut three squares (I did mine 12 1/2" square) one each of red, white and blue. Stack them with all right sides up and edges even.

Now we make one cut at an angle from Top center to ?? 1/5 from the right edge on the bottom. (I just eyeballed it. See next image for approx location)
Shuffle the piece on the top right stack to the bottom Then sew the two pieces that are now on top together. Repeat with the second and third pieces. Press your seams then restack the pile being sure that all the pieces are facing the same way like in the next picture. (sorry the color on it is horrible!)

You should have a pile similar to this - but make all the edges match again.

Now you are ready to cut your neat stack again:

I made cut two about a third of the way from the top.  Again shuffle the top piece of one of the piles to the bottom.

Like this:

You are going to sew the three sets again-try to line up those seams. The edges might not match exactly but we are going to trim the square later.

Again we press the seams, restack and make the next cut like this:

Shuffle, sew, press and  restack - I think you should have the idea now.

The next cut is like this:

Again: Shuffle, sew, press and  restack

Make the final cut  like this:

Shuffle and sew.  Then press your three blocks and trim them to size.

You can do with with up to 6 blocks- more than that and the cutting becomes difficult - your blocks will slip. You could also do these in three shades of blue. or use a dark and a medium blue with a white or a red.   Changing the order of the cuts will change the layout of the block.

Here is  the cutting diagram with the cuts marked.  The color of the line matches the color of the number.

And one more thing! Here is the video showing how to make the Wavy Bar blocks.  If the wavy bars aren't your thing,  you can make straight stripes.  I just think the wavy bars add a nice movement to the design.

If you are making only blocks to send it for this challenge, you will have to make these larger by adding borders to them.  The full requirements list is HERE.

Oh yes...about the prize; to enter leave a comment telling me if you prefer a video tutorial or a "words and pictures" tutorial. Entries accepted through Sunday, April 8. The prize winner will be picked on Monday April 9th.  The winner will be contacted by email to get mailing information. This is a USA only giveaway (sorry my international friends.)
PRIZE: Aurifil thread pack and a 2 yard cut of this fabric. 
The full listing for the blog hop is:

(If you missed Barb's post, be sure to go back and read it!) 
April 3: Gene Black, an Alabama Artist and Quilter
April 4: Marjorie’s Quilting Bee – will also be Blogger Spotlight for Accuquilt on April 4.
April 6: Linda Alexander