Thread Colors Make Magic

Sky colors.

Some of the sky colors after quilting.

I finally finished quilting “Waiting…2”, and I blocked it, though I still need to do a little thread clipping and binding.

During the quilting of the sky, which has been the most difficult part of this whole quilt, the thread colors became very important. The overall magic of the sky grew substantially different in coloring before and after the quilting, but to my chagrin I did not take a before picture.  I did not understand how much difference it would make other than just a good quilting.  I fell into a pattern of sculpting clouds and using thread colors to bring the sky to life.  I already had added some painted colors to the sky, which I used for my guide to thread colors as I worked.  The different thread colors really helped me realize the vision I had in my head for this sky, almost a thread painting.  In the end, I surprised myself when I realized I had used over 30 thread colors of thread, including metallic silver and monopoly, for this quilt!!!  I was as surprised that I had this many good threads in all these colors as that I had used that many on the quilting.  What a happy thing that I have collected these over the past four or five years and kept them carefully, replacing colors as I used them up and adding a color set here and there.

Most of the threads I used on the quilt are Superior Threads…Rainbow, King Tut,  and Magnifico solids, with Bottom Line for the bobbin.  I also have a couple of Isacord solids in there somewhere.  I used gray bobbin thread (except for the monopoly) which goes well with the back, and I made sure the tension was as right as I could get it and I can’t see any gray on the top or any colors on the back where they should not be.  This enabled me to easily change the color frequently.  I did have a couple of incidents where I needed to take out some stitching because I forgot to change settings for the different types of threads.  This is where a little notebook really comes in handy.  I make notes about each type of thread (not each color).

I took almost all day yesterday to get the quilt blocked and marked square (I haven’t yet cut it square, because I put the binding on using the marking before I do that).  I got it all squared up according to my laser square and various other square ruler aids.  Then I measured all the sides and it was 5/8″ longer on one side than the other and equally wide across top to bottom.  Arghh!!!  I ended up erasing all the marks and starting over (twice) until I got it right. It’s a mystery…LOL.  Judges really don’t like it if it isn’t square and neither do I.  I can only think that the considerable bit of trapunto I placed under the cliffs had an effect on the square “measurers”.  It seems the original marks were a little bit off on both the top line and the bottom line.  Anyway, it’s marked square now, lined up to the water horizon line, and I even took out a different color marker to make the final marks clear.  Hooray!  ready to bind.

Sew Happy Everyone!  Have a wonderful weekend and rest of the week. Try a little quilting with color varieties and see what you think.

A Watch Project and MAQF

The cheap white plastic watch ready to ink.

The cheap white plastic watch ready to ink.

I leave tomorrow for the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA and a visit with my family members there.  I’m very excited.  It looks like the weather is going to cooperate and the trip is all happily arranged.  So in the way of things, the battery died in my beautiful Bolova watch and I really didn’t have time to take it to a jewelry and get it changed (I can’t do that one myself) before I went.  So I ordered this cheap white plastic watch with one-day delivery for about the same a battery would cost.  And yes, I will still get the Bolova fixed, but I also wanted a watch to wear when I am working with paints and dyes, etc.

When it came, and I put it on, it seemed to scream…cheap white plastic watch here!  So my son David suggested I paint it if I could.  What a great idea.  I tried out several markers on the back of the strap and found only one will stay without wiping off..Sharpies.  I have a nice collection of sharpies, and so I turned it into this:

After...It was hard to keep any kind of straightness, so I ended up doing wandering colors.

After…It was hard to keep any kind of straightness, so I ended up doing wandering colors.

It is seemingly dry now.  I’m going to let it continue to dry for another hour or so before putting it on.  It may wear off as I wear it, but just passing a cloth over it, there is no change of color or stain on the cloth.  After that dried I painted over it with clear finger nail polish.  We’ll see how this wears.  The fun thing is the numbers on the watch face are all different colors kind of like a color wheel, so it fits the project.

Sew I’m off to my neice’s first thing in the morning, and on to MAQF on Friday and Saturday, home Sunday.  How fun is that?!

Sew happy everyone!

From Design Concept to Completion

quilt designing002

The other day I was cleaning!  Yes, I do that occasionally, but not often enough.  Anyway, I found this…my original design for Canterbury Knight.  This quilt will be on display at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival from 25-28 February and I’ll be down there hanging around it from time to time on the 26th and 27th.  Oh my golly!  That’s just a week and a half away! 

Sew this is how I usually design a quilt.  I start with a concept that drops into my head.  in order not to lose the idea, I often make this kind of silly quick sketch with just a few notes.  Then I go to my computer where I have several pieces of design software and work the concept into a full design.  I used to do this on paper with pencil, so if you don’t have design software, you can still do this yourself.  Here are a few of the many many files I have in my steps toward the full design.

One of the original 12th century drawings of Chaucer's knight.

One of the original 12th century drawings of Chaucer’s knight.  I only kept the concept for the horse’s armor.

My horse drawing all painted and ready to print onto the silk fabric.

My horse drawing all painted and ready to print onto the silk fabric.  This horse took me days to draw and paint using my design software.  I need to get faster.

I draw the pattern for the appliques and place them so I can see they work right.

I draw the pattern for the appliques and place them so I can see they work right.  I hand painted the knight’s head and hand, the rest is applique made from metallic-like fabrics.

I do a lot of research for some of my quilts, such as these ancient manuscript quilts.  Sometimes I’m lucky enough to find what I want in Dover publications.  Sometimes, I have them hanging around my house (my late husband was a magnificent librarian and book collector and I have a lot of his collection).  Sometimes I have to go elsewhere (always being conscious of copyright issues).  In this case, I found the border in two different sources–Dover Illuminated Manuscripts and a book my husband had of ancient illuminated manuscripts. it’s quite similar, but I made a lot of changes too.  Afterall, I am not trying to reproduce the ancient manuscript, but am making an ancient manuscript “inspired” 21st century piece of art.  This gives me the option to change things I don’t like or want to make.  In this case, I kept fairly close to the original.

4.2.7

The original border jpg.

I changed the announcer boy a lot, removed some of the busy-ness, adjusted for size, and changed the background to black. Then I took the designer boy, the “angry bird” on the left and the two big flowers and turned them into appliques that I hand inked onto silk. The rest I traced onto my black border, quilted, and then painted it.  I digitized the verse in Bernina V7 software, and found birds to add around the text box.  I also added the little upper right box to balance the letter “A”.  Eventually, one piece at a time, I arrive at the full design so I can begin making the appliques and quilt top.  I use Corel Draw to turn this into a full sized print out.  Corel Draw easily tiles the print into whatever sized paper that will fit through my printer.  In this case I used tabloid sized paper (11 x 17) to minimize the number of tiles.  I then tape them together.  Getting to this point is about one-third of the time it takes me to make a quilt.

This is the design file I worked with and enlarged to full size.

This is the design file I worked with and enlarged to full size.

And after a lot of fun and interesting work, I ended up with this quilt:Canterbury-Knight---F---2015-web

I started this quilt in December 2014 and “completed” it in March 2015 in full-time work.  After it went to The HMQS and I got back some helpful criticism from the excellent 2 judges, I did a fair amount of revamping and correcting.  In fact, this quilt has had something “fixed” on it after every show.  I even darkened and re-inked some of the colors that you see in this photo before sending it to the Mid-Atlantic to help overcome the judges viewpoints that the border overwhelmed the central theme.  I do note though, that ancient manuscript borders often “overwhelm” the central theme, if you look at it that way.  Anyway, a quilt is never done until it’s done.  And I learn something with every quilt and every show.

So if you are going to MAQF this year, drop by and see this quilt.  I also have “Kanazawa Memories” in the show that I’d like you to see, but that’s another design story altogether.  I may be there by one or the other on Friday or Saturday and I’d love to see you.  Make sure to tell me who you are.

Sew happy everyone!  Design your own piece of art…start simple and go forward from there.  Make changes as desired.

Note:  I have added a “Donate” button that goes safely through Pay Pal.  I do not want anyone to feel they must donate, nor guilt trip anyone.  I note I am a struggling artist, and I thought you may want to drop an artistic donation in for fun and to help keep the blog running.  PLEASE, continue to read and comment if you don’t wish to donate and DO NOT feel guilty if you don’t. I really struggled with myself trying to decide to add the donate button.  But in the end, decided to try it.  Cheers.

Artistic Applique

Applique is a big part of my work.  I use multiple styles within the raw edge and turned edge machine applique methods to help achieve the look I want.  I am currently writing a book about this and working up samples to go with the book.  This book will deal with how I decide which method and style I need.  I have as many as four or five styles of applique on some of my quilts.  I sometimes have joined machine applique with machine embroidery and come up with some interesting results.

In The Storyteller, my Hoffman Challenge quilt from 2013,  I embroidered the tree trunk off quilt on brown fabric, using my own digitized tree trunk, and cut it out with about an eighth of an inch turn under and appliqued it onto the quilt with turned edge machine applique. This gives the tree trunk almost a 3D appearance.

The tree was embroidered and then appliqued.

The tree was embroidered and then appliqued.

The sun and island are a combination of piecing and applique.  Sharon Schamber calls this piece-lique, and Carol Bryer Fallert calls it appli-piece.  Whichever you call it, it is a technique that is wonderful for certain looks that are difficult to achieve any other way.

turning the back over freezer paper and starching the turn- down.

turning the back over freezer paper and starching the turn- down.

gluing the sun into place ready for stitching.

gluing the sun into place ready for stitching.

Then there is the stitched raw-edge applique.  This can produce many different looks, depending on the stitch, thread, and stitch size one picks.

Stitching down a broiderie perse cutout from the Hoffman challenge fabric.

Stitching down a broiderie perse cutout from the Hoffman challenge fabric.

And here’s the quilt.  Some of you may have seen this quilt in person since it was shown throughout the year of Hoffman Challenge 2013.

The Storyteller

The Storyteller…this picture shows a little distortion from the camera lens, but I assure you it is nice and square and flat. This quilt is currently on sale in my shop for $1050.00. It is 38.5″ x 37.5, which is a nice size for a home or office wall.

I hope I can finish my book in just a few months, but realistically, it probably won’t be ready until mid 2016.

Sew happy everyone!  Try your hand on applique, however you do it.

Differences in Threads Are Helpful for Fabric Art

In a recent conversation with my Daughter-in-law Beth while we were looking at one of my ongoing quilt projects and discussing how I might make something look right using different weights of threads, it occurred to me that the use of thread in fabric art requires a different set of considerations than for other types of sewing and even for other types of quilting.  That being the case, and the fact that I frequently use differences in the broad array of great threads now available to accomplish certain looks, I decided to share my viewpoint on this subject.

Recently, my thread stash has grown to be almost equal to my fabric stash.  In fact I am getting simpler with my fabric needs, and more complex with my threads as I grow as an art quilter.

Here are some basic things to know about threads (a lot of you may already know this, but bear with me):

  • The higher the number the thinner the thread.
  • Polyester thread may melt if overheated with your iron, but just require a little care to prevent that.  Polyester comes in many different lusters and qualities and some are more susceptible to melting than others.
  • Rayon thread is usually the shiniest, although there are some polyesters that are also prettily shiny.  Rayon has a higher tendency to fade or run and shrink when washed.  I actually had a quilt nearly ruined when a dark brown thread decided to run when I blocked my quilt.  High quality rayons, however, will usually not run.
  • You can use up to 12 weight in your machine if you use a large needle (I use a 100/16 top stitch/embroidery need for this).  Adjust your needle size to your thread size.
  • Thicker threads need to be used either for bobbin work or for couching, but are still great options for certain looks.  I used Ricky Tims Razzle Dazzle for bobbin work to do the horsehead outline in “Sky Horse” (see my last post).
  • The quality of monopoly threads vary widely.  My favorite is Superior’s new reduced sheen lightweight thread.  It sews beautifully (using a 60/8 or 70/10 needle) and virtually disappears on the fabric.
  • The standard weight for sewing clothing is 50 weight (using 80/14 needle) and most machines are calibrated for this weight thread.  This means you may have to adjust the tension for higher weight (thinner)  and heavier weight (thicker).  The thing to take away from this is that it is OK to adjust your machine tension for both the top and the bobbin.  You only need to figure out how to put it back to the default setting BEFORE you do any changes (like a tiny dot of red ink or reading the manual).
  • 90/16 embroidery/top stitch needle does great for 40 wt threads.

Sew how do I use this information?

  • I have a small notebook where I keep notes on threads, usages, settings.  At some point I’m going to put this info together to share, although your machine may need different settings.
  • I frequently “draw” with my machine stitching as if my project were an ink drawing.  My best example of this is my quilt “Perspective in Threads” that is basically a whole cloth quilt with a border.  The main lines were 12 weight cotton, and the fills were varied as needed with the tiniest being the section under the stairs in 100 wt silk.  I used four different weights in this quilt (I don’t have a great picture of this quilt at the moment…it’s being rephotographed).
Perspective in Threads - This quilt was recently juried in to Houston's Tactile Archetecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

Perspective in Threads – This quilt was juried in to Houston’s Tactile Archetecture special exhibit 2014.

  • I use the various thread lusters to enhance the look I’m trying to achieve.  For instance, hair should have a slight luster and have a moderate variety of colors in the same family.  I find Superior’s Rainbow to work best in this situation.  See her hair below where I used two different variegated threads.

finished detail as shot 2

  • I found that Superior’s Glitter pretty much matches the qualities of Angelina Fibers.  So if you are trying to match that, it works well when you use a 90 top stitch/embroidery needle and loosen the top tension way down (see that little bit in the top of the wave in the picture above). I used both that and monopoly for that.
  • Glitter also shows well when you want to add bling. Longer stitches show both glitter and metallic threads blingier than shorter stitches.
  • Around those rocks in “Waiting…” and for much of the rock quilting (see the picture above), I used Superior’s Rainbow.  I also appliqued them with the double blanket stitch because I wanted the edges to stand out and look like separate rocks as much as possible.  I loved the look…not sure what anyone else thinks about it.  It’s what I’m planning to do with my current project, which is the second in this series and something of a remake of it with quite a few changes (she has her daughter with her, and there is a small lighthouse in the background scene, for instance).
  • However, I used 100 weight black thread with my deep space quilt Angelina Fiber applique.  I have found if you match the background with fine weight thread it makes a very nice look (see my last blogpost).
  • For my latest quilt “Kanazawa Memories”, in which I did a great deal of Sashiko stitching, I used King Tut by Superior.  That is a 40 weight cotton thread and does well when you are trying to create a hand or antique looking stitching by machine.
Kanazawa Memories, Completed August 2015

Kanazawa Memories, Completed August 2015

  • But the quilting for the moon was different.  For the flowers I used Superior monopoly for appliqueing, 100 wt. Kimono silk for quilting the actual flowers and for the fill on the moon, King Tut for the little critters around in the moon to give them a little more character and make them stand out just a little.
Kanazawa Memories detail shot

Kanazawa Memories detail shot

Sew back to my original comment…Beth and I were discussing how I could make a light house beam look right and we came out with using 12 wt toward the outside pointing down and using 100 weight toward the top outside pointing upward and something in between, like King Tut perhaps, toward the middle all in slightly different tones of yellow, if I can find all that and if it works (I’ll have to experiment with that first).  This should result in a more intense beam down toward the ocean and more disappearing beam toward the top toward the sky.  The lighthouse will be up on a hillside and fairly small and should not “take over” the scene.

See?

Sew happy everyone.  Please comment  with your thoughts or questions.  Cheers.

 

A horse for applique and thread painting…and a request for feedback

188

Hi everyone.  I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and full of love and happiness.  For some time I have been working on an idea that I think may be something I could use for sale in my little shop.  In order to test this idea, I am providing a pdf file of a horse applique with instructions for printing it on fabric for use as an applique and the adding of thread work as a present for you.  If you would like to download this and try it for yourself without obligation, be my guest.

It would be great, however, if you would provide me with some feedback on your thoughts about this…how this worked for you and what kind of appliques you would like to see provided in this way, for instance…that would be greatly appreciated.  I am thinking of charging about $3 to 5 per pdf file, which includes the instructions, the schematic, the print file, and a pattern for the thread work as you will see in this pdf.  So here you are…what do you think?  Feedback please even if you don’t actually use it.

Instructions for Use of Downloadable Applique Images with thread objects

Sew happy everyone!

 

Completing the Woman and Child Applique Pattern

I love being able to share things with my friends.  It is fun, it is helpful…especially when they give me feedback…and it helps me keep things on track..  So I thought I would show you some of the various stages of my drawing and what I now think is the completed applique pattern drawing.  I would still like your feedback if you see something that really stands out that needs changing.

Here is the original one I used for the first quilt “Waiting…”

finished detail as shot 2

I thought I should change her for the new Waiting… quilt 2.  So I tried drawing several new women drawing.

Woman looking to sea_001 woman 2_002woman 3_004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I decided to go back and recast the original one.

Wind blown woman 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After some feedback I realized the hair was not right and the clothes are not colored properly.  I also drew a little girl.  Here are some of the stages of that process:

girl's faceChild_007child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman and Child for Waiting..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So after some tweaking and moving and so forth, here is where it is now.  Keep in mind when looking at this that it is just a pattern.  The only thing printed will be the faces and hand.  The rest will be created from various textures of fabrics, thread work, highlighting and lowlighting from inks or paints, but I do work best when I have a pretty good idea of how it really will look when finished.  The woman’s dress, cloak, and hair are still not quite right, but that will be changed as I work through making the applique.

Woman-and-Child-Final

I am so looking forward to getting these put together now.  I will make several versions of both the woman and the child and see which ones look best, and, after talking it over with Beth, my DIL, I decided to print out multiple faces and hands on a single sheet of fabric and set up a practice sandwich with it so I can figure out the best quilting for those.  The faces are not large, but always the most difficult to quilt.

Sew there you are.  These appliques are so important to the overall quilt.  They aren’t easy, and they have taken a lot of time.  I need them, though, to make the quilt I see in my head.  I also have gotten together most, but not all, of the special pieces of fabrics I painted, pulled from my stash, and ordered for this.  I am only waiting on the velveteen for the girl’s and woman’s coats and hat and the furry yarns for the edges.  Time to sew!

Sew happy everyone!  Have a great week.  Please comment on my blogs.

Addendum:  After some feedback, I made the girl smaller, the woman’s chin less prominent and did a few other changes to the hair.  Here it is.

Woman and Child Final_001

A Small Storm at Sea Quilt Pattern

small storm

I have been working on how to produce a pattern for other quilters using Electric Quilt 7.  It isn’t very hard in case you want to do this too.  You make your pattern, then set your printer for the pdf instead of the printer and print it.  Be sure to check the print preview before you do this, because you can’t go back and edit it if something is wrong.

For those of you who are interested I made a small storm-at-sea foundation piecing pattern and stored them as three pdf files you can download from the files below and use if you want.  In the future I plan on making some small wall hanging quilts that I draw myself, so I really wanted to try this out to see if it works for people.  If you print off the foundation pattern onto foundation paper of some sort, be sure to set your printer for actual size rather than fit to page.  This little foundation pattern makes 7 inch blocks when completed.  Then, for the quilt shown, cut four border pieces 4 inches wide x 28.5 for a 3.5 inch border and cut four 4 inch squares for the 3.5 inch corner blocks.  You can always adjust the size by adding more blocks and increasing the borders.

Please refer back to my blog about foundation piecing here for what I have found as important for good success.  I also found that for the 7 inch block, cutting 3 inch strips from which to cut blocks and triangles for the foundation pieces of the four colors helps a lot. The cool thing about foundation piecing is if your 3 inch strip is actually a little uneven or a little bigger or smaller than the three inches it is ok.  You cut them down anyway after stitching.

Storm at sea small quilt

storm at sea small quilt yardage  You probably need a little more yardage than this says you do.  This was figured by EQ7 for precise cutting and piecing, and I use larger pieces for foundation piecing.

7 inch storm at sea foundation piecing

This may seem odd to those of you who know my work as an art quilter but may not have been reading my past blogs.  I am making a new quilt in the “Waiting…” series, which will eventually be mostly a pictorial quilt, but has a big wave made from this traditional storm at sea pattern that merges into a pictorial ocean.  This is from Electric Quilt 7, but I did some adjusting and chose the fabrics for this.  If you have EQ7, you can make your own, but when you print the foundation pattern be sure to move the segments that are divided by the pages onto the second page before printing.  You can do that in print preview.

Sew happy everyone!  Try making at least one storm at sea foundation pieced block.

Updating

I always kind of feel like September brings a new year.  This has been a year full of updates and maintenance both for my home and for my software.  This year I had to replace my hot water heater, have some rotting trim and all the grouting outside replaced and the whole house pressure washed, the decks and fence pressure washed and sealed, and the trim repainted.  There have been a lot of smaller items, and yesterday I just got an old builder’s grade toilet replaced in one of my small bathrooms for a nice new one.  I still have to replace the weatherstripping around my front door, but that should be all for the house for a while, I hope.

The amazing thing is how well this restored my decks (I have two).  I was thinking before all of this that I might need to replace it, but it looks fantastic, almost like new.  I have enjoyed getting out there every day the weather permitted since the deck was restored.  Sometimes my grandson has gone out there and done some reading also.  He started to school yesterday, but he still comes here after school.  This is good.

In anticipation of my fall sewing and quilting now that school has started, I first updated my website, adding a little store to sell my quilts, books, and other items from.  Additionally, I have been updating my software.  I started by installing Windows 10 and made sure it works with everything, and then I took advantage of a really good deal on the new Corel Painter 16 software update.  This adds quite a few interesting new brushes and other things, plus it allows me to use all those Dover brush stamps that I have for Photoshop in Painter now.  I like that a lot.  Painter is the main design software I use so it is important to take advantage of these major advances.

All this updating made me realize that I was at an excellent spot in my sewing and quilting plans to update the firmware on my Bernina 830 LE, which I did.  Everything is working well so far (knock on wood).

So the other day I did a little exploration of some of the decorative stitches on my 830.  Most of the ones I tried are new, but not all of them.  Here are some pictures of the test samples:

stitch sampler stitch sampler 2Aren’t they fun?   I think I’ll have to do something special with some of them.  What do you suggest?

Stitch number 713, which was there all along, is the stitch I should have used when I was trying to get a Sashiko like stitch for my border on Kanazawa Memories.  I still think it would have stretched, and I would have finished it like I did, but I’ll know next time.  These little samplers are going in my notebook.

All of this updating, plus a very expensive dental/oral surgery thing, are the reasons you won’t see me at a quilt show for a while.  I’m not sure just how long, but I am content.  I have all these wonderful design programs and machines to play with at home with a fully stocked stash of fabrics, threads, paints and beads.  It will be fun to see what I can do with all of that.

Sew happy everyone!!!  Updating can be a good thing, though it may be a little stressful from time to time.  You might be surprised at how well things work and find some new treats as you get them finished.  Cheers.

 

 

 

Working With Different Fabric Types

I have almost finished my Ikebana/Sashiko quilt, and had some difficulties toward the end that were my own fault, but which reminded me that over the years I have learned a great deal about fabric properties and how to work with them to get results I want. Sometimes, I don’t succeed, but almost always it is because I skipped a step or substituted another technique to try it out.

In this case, I failed to back the border with the same fusible interfacing I backed the blocks with in the central section.  I thought I could get away with this because I was using a temporary spray adhesive attaching it to the batting.  It didn’t work.  The border stretched, the stitching looked horrible, and it wasn’t the machine’s fault.  I ended up cutting the border down to only 3/8″ wide plus the part to be covered by the binding.  Even the binding became very challenging at that point to get it on straight and true.  But I have succeeded, I think, although I still have to stitch down the back of the binding by hand.  If I had fused the interfacing to the border fabric, it might have had a very different outcome.  In the end, however, I think I like the narrow edge of green fabric better than the wider border would have been, even if I had succeeded in what I was trying to do.

This made me think to share this little chart I worked out for my own use that I think you may find interesting.  I leave it to you to determine brands and content of the stabilizers and interfacing.

Fabric chart

What do you think about this?  I’d love to hear from you.

Sew happy everyone.