Down to the Last Minute, and A Thread Review

I am going to take the second batch of my quilts out to G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland, for the second part of the exhibit of my quilts.  This exhibit, which runs from mid July until the end of August or so, includes nearly all my show quilts except for Pendragon, Dad’s House plan, this year’s Hoffman Challenge still on tour, and a couple I have sold or given away.  They will be displayed throughout the store, including those that are already there in the Bernina department.  I also have completed one new quilt and nearly finished a second new quilt just for this exhibit.  Some of these quilts are available for purchase.  I will (really) post photos of the exhibit sometime in the latter half of July.

Sew here is where I’m at on the preparations.  I have completed the second one of my Alfred Shaheen panel quilts and named it “Tropical Garden”.  I used a lot of Superior’s new 100 weight polyester thread called Microquilter on both that quilt and the “Field of FLowers” I hope to finish by Friday to include in the exhibit.

A Review of Microquilter Thread

When I won all thirty colors of Superior’s Microquilter 100 weight polyester from Superior Threads, I was really thrilled.  I use almost more 100 weight threads than I do any other thread.  I use it for background quilting, detail thread sketching on things like flowers and line drawings, and I also love it for machine applique.  I do not use it for piecing or bobbins.

I found it a wonderful workable thread.  I tried it in my Bernina Q20 sit down longarm, my Bernina 830 LE, and my Bernina 350.  In every case I had to lower the top tension to keep it from breaking, just as I do for silk 100 wt and monopoly.  It worked beautifully without further adjustment in everything but the Q20.  For that, I had to lower the bobbin tension also (I used it with Bottom Line in the bobbin, though I did try one bobbin with the Microquilter).  I found surprisingly that the Superior top stitch needle size 80 worked better than a smaller needle that I use for monopoly and silk.  So here is how I ended up setting up my Q20 (Fritz) if you have one:

  • I have found my Q20 works better with a Magic Bobbin Genie sized for M bobbin.  I just put it in over the spring in the bobbin.  Without it, I have some thread nests on the bottom of my quilt when I get going really fast, and believe me, the Q20 can go REALLY fast.
  • I set the bobbin tension with Superior’s Bottom Line or the Microquilter itself for 180 using the tension guage that came with my machine.  If you use the Microquilter in your bobbin don’t wind it full.  It works better a little less…starting at about 3/4 full.  In the course of making two quilts, I used both Bottom Line that I wound and some prewound Superior thread bobbins that use Bottom Line.
  • I set the top tension for 125
  • I used a size 80 Superior top stitch titanium needle.
  • I used BSR1 set at 280 speed for tiny little stippling and 200 for slower tiny bubbles
  • This setup makes it work like a dream…no nests, no hangups, no tension problems

I will provide some pictures of my quilting with Microquilter as soon as I get them taken.  I am behind in getting my quilts photographed.

 

I got my little personal app quilt home that was a part of Road to California’s traveling exhibit of app quilts.  It has lost about six hot fix crystals out of hundreds, so I need to replace them by Friday.  I have one quilt that needs washing and reblocking, which I will do today.  I have several more stumpwork butterflies to make for the Field of Flowers and I have to put the rod pocket and label on it.  I think I can make the Friday deadline on this one, since the actual quilt is complete and bound. I even have the silver spider charm on the spider web part of that quilt.  Here’s the dragonfly that is ready to go onto the quilt already.  It’s in parts and needs a little additional embroidery after attachment where the wings attach to the body.  I will do turned edge applique of the body and hide the wing wires under that.  I will also probably darken the little white edges of the sheer to match the stitching.  I may even do a hand blanket stitch over the edges if I decide it needs it.  The first picture shows the pieces after stitching, and the second picture shows the dragonfly together ready to applique on.

The embroidered pieces, which I made in the hoop with my Bernina 830 LE

And I also need to ship “Pendragon” to AQS this week.  I want to do a little gold paint touch up on the border paint before I ship it.

So I have a really busy week ahead of me, but it’s an exciting time.  I am enormously pleased that G Street has asked me to show my quilts in the exhibit there.  It is a real honor.  I hope you have a chance to see it.  The whole show will be available in mid-July. I’m not sure of the exact dates, so you might want to call them before you head there.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt…yourself, you cat, your dog…your son.  Until next time!

 

Make a Stylized Landscape Quilt with Me: Step One

I am making a fun new design-as-you-go stylized landscape quilt with some kind of flying creature and I hope you will try one of these too. For as many steps as it takes (to be determined) I will be providing a blog post to take us through this quilt together.  This quilt is made without first drawing out and printing a full sized design and will be using techniques that I am sure you may wish to try or have tried already.  I am not providing a pattern, telling you what size it will be, or even tutorials for all the techniques needed.  This is a project for us to play together making some wall art.  I will tell you where you can find the techniques, providing the links, and for some parts I will give tutorials, but not all.  It can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it, with guidance as to where you can find help.  And if you have a question all you have to do is make a comment on the blog post and I will respond as soon as I can.

Let’s begin:

I am using some interesting techniques available online at Iquilt and Craftsy.  But you don’t have to take a class for this project, just follow along.  If you have Electric quilt 7 and know how to do foundation paper piecing you, or you already know how to make a compass block, you can do this without additional classes.

For this fun project there are several objects we will need to make and obtain.

  1. Challenge–Make The Sun:  This can be either a simple quarter of a large circle of fabric to applique on a sky or one quarter of a sun compass block or a smaller full stylized star block in your choice of sun colors for your imaginary world.  For my quilt I am using the star block that Karen K. Stone teaches in “English Paper Piecing by Machine” found on iquilt here.  It’s very similar to a regular compass block, but has some interesting differences.  If you watch the sales, you can almost certainly get this class on a very good sale.  But there are a lot of beautiful choices for a star to represent our own star, the sun.  Here are some I found on Electric Quilt 7 that would be great choices with some color changes.  The outside large piece, or the background pieces need to be made from the same fabric as your background sky piece (see below), or you can use the curve to applipiece or piecelique (whatever you call it…it’s just joining the two pieces in an applique manner) it directly into the background sky.  I will provide a little tutorial of this in my next blog related to this project.  So just hold off on attaching the star/sun to the background sky.
  2. These blocks were all found in Electric Quilt 7 and would work very nicely. You can change the colors, of course, however you want them.

    In addition you could draft your own compass rose. I found this fascinating method on The Quilt Show that uses a really neat drafting device available from  Renea Haddadin’s website here.  I don’t have this device, but it really looks useful far beyond the drafting of a compass rose.

  3. Put together the background:  For this you will need a full width of ombre gradiated fabric that will be one third of the length of your finished quilt, or just a plain piece of fabric that looks like a sky to you.  You can paint this, buy this, or construct this with strips of various pieces of fabric.   You just have to size the sun appropriately to fit in the upper left corner of the scene.  Two thirds of your quilt will be mountains and maybe water or grass somewhere in there.  If you want to make this easy, you can use a simple white or off white or even light brown or green for the lower two thirds of your quilt background, giving you a background to applique mountains and rivers and plants onto.  Remember, this is a design as you go quilt and is meant to be just for fun.
  4. Wait to applique the sun in the upper left corner of your background until my next blog when I will be discussing applique techniques.

Okay, that’s all for now.  Go forth and make a sun and gather the background pieces or even make the simple background.  The next part will deal with appli-piecing the sun into the sky, and making the mountains and other parts of the foreground.  Then there is a part for making plants, and finally we will make some kind of flying creature for our scene, which may take several parts.  I plan on following this with a series of blogs focusing on embellishing and quilting.  I am not calling this a “block of the month” or anything, but I am planning this to stretch across several months…not sure how many.

Sew happy everyone!  Do some thinking about this…join me in the adventure and make your own wall quilt just for fun and to stretch your design techniques a bit.

On MAQF, Antiques, and Tutorials

MAQF

I just came home all inspired by a delightful few days at Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival where I had “Pendragon”.  I put together some of my pictures from the show.  Here is a link to the picture file:  Smugmug/MAQF 17

I stayed a day longer than I usually do for this show and it gave me lots of time to see every quilt, take all four lectures I was interested in and see the Show and Tell that I usually miss.  I also did a lot of shopping.  Well, afterall, my 70th birthday will be this coming Friday on March 3rd, so I gave myself some presents…threads, new rulers (a set of circles and a set of ovals), and one of those spinning cutting mats among a few additional small items.

The loot from the show

Pendragon did not place, but I believe it to be mostly because the theme of the show was modern quilting and that quilt has nothing to say that is even remotely modern quiltish.  I still believe it is a ribbon worthy quilt, so we will see what it does in the future. I decided to see if they would include it anyway because I sort of consider MAQF my main show.  It is within driving distance and I have relatives in the area, so going there is always a treat for me.  I did get some nice comments from the judges:

Your original design effective in telling your story; Embroidery well executed; Piecing well done; Quilting motifs compliments the design; Quilt hangs flat and square; Back of quilt should be free of loose threads and lint” (note:  I sticky rolled it and examined it with my big magnifying lamp when I packed it…lint may have happened on their end.  That backing fabric I used was a little lint grabbing…not using that again).

Pendragon
34 x 45

A New Page Is Turned

Now, however, I am turning a page on my work.  From here I am focusing on the quilt work itself, and on figuring out how to pass on what I have learned even as I maintain my studio artist status (not a lot of travel, a little teaching within driving distance, writing books and creating tutorials), rather than so much focus on the competition work. I will still enter shows, and still plan on making show quilts (they teach me a lot and give me a chance to stretch my work), but it’s an attitude and work flow adjustment in my studio that is on this nice new page in my life.   You can see more about this in one of my past blogposts here.

On Antiques

There are lots of definitions of “antique”.  The one I like the best for this discussion is “an object such as … a work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age.”    Tomorrow (Friday, March 3rd), I will be 70 years old.  I am a work (in progress) maybe even a “work of art” and have considerable age. I think every human being has high value…so there you are.  I could probably be called “an antique” fabric artist.  I feel physically great (have also lost some weight recently and hope to lose more) and I believe I am as mentally alert as ever (always a little daphy).  Many of my ancestors lived well into their hundreds.  I have a wonderful plan for my future and my kids are nearby.  My studio is well stocked, and my fleet of machines is wonderful and in good working order.  I’m excited about the future.  Thank the good Lord and I hope you will continue to join me on my quilting journey.

On Tutorials

One of the things I am going to begin on this blog post is a regular short tutorial (every week or month?).  This week’s tutorial is answering a question I got a lot at the show…how I made the chain mail on my characters in Pendragon using Bernina v7.  I haven’t yet gotten v8, but I suspect this would work there also.

Digitizing Chain Mail for Small Applique (Or using special fills to create what you want)

I wanted to make the characters’ chain mail shirts look right, and decided the best approach was to digitize the chain mail in my Bernina v7 software and embroider it in the hoop.  This took me a while to discover how to do it.  I think I spent two or three days on figuring this out, but I just did a chain mail heart shape and took snap pictures for this tutorial all in about three minutes.  So I thought I’d share this with you in case you wanted to create something special with interesting fills and shapes.  Using Bernina v7 software:

  • Draw a closed shape…you can put the picture in the art canvas side and trace it on the embroidery side
  • Right click on the object and bring up the Object Properties dialogue box.

    Draw shape and in object properties box make these selections (sorry the text box got cut off, but that’s what is said more or less).

 

    These are the selections I made..sizes will depend on your own project size and requires a little experimentation to get it right.

 

  • I had to turn my shirts upside down and move them around to get the wave fill to match where the parts of the wave needed to be to show the expansion and contraction of the chain…like a shirt on a beautifully muscled knight. 😀  I also gave each shirt their own color to help me figure out which belonged where when complete.  I embroidered them all in Superior Fantastico 5169..a silvery variegated gray on black fabric.  I cut them out close to the embroidery and glued them on with Roxanne basting glue and blanket stitched the edges in the same thread to give them a finish.

So there you are.  I can see this method working for a wide variety of appliques and purposes.  The software is so flexible, but finding out how to do something you want to do that is a little different can take time.

Finished chain mail in place

On Upcoming Events:

  • For the month of May and a couple of weeks into June, G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland, is hosting an exhibit of my quilts.  I will have one day where I will provide a walking lecture tour of my approximately 15 quilts that will be placed around the store.  I’ll let you know when that is.
  • In June, I will be providing a workshop on machine quilting at G Street.
  • My quilt “Drawing Nigh” will be at AQS in Lancaster, PA, March 20-April 1.  If you attend and see my quilt, let me know.

Sew happy everyone.  Focus on your creative projects to have the most fun, put in your best effort, learn a little bit, and share, and don’t let it stress you out.  I would really appreciate comments.

The Making of Pendragon

I promised you I would write some posts about the making of Pendragon after it was accepted into its debut quilt show.  Pendragon will be shown in the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival on Feb 23-26.  I am so excited because I am planning on attending this show.  When you read this post, I will probably be there, since I am setting this up for posting on the day I leave for the show.  Because of this, I can finally reveal the finished quilt picture.

Pendragon
34 x 45 Text from “The Legend of King Arthur” by Thomas Percy (1729-1811)

I actually made a few small changes since this picture was taken.  There was some stitching that went on a downhill decline under the lower left of the pictorial center on the top of the black text box.  I spent a whole day frogging (ripping out the stitching) of about five inches of decorative stitching and restitching it. It was worth it.  I think it was the only thing that would stand in the way of a judge who likes the design deciding it is a good quilt.  I’m not sure you can see it here on this web-sized picture, but I also added some interesting quilting below the text in the block.  I had to enlarge the text box just a bit to make the borders I made fit just right.

So here is a web-sized picture of the design that Ken gave me for my birthday last year, along with the threads and fabrics.  I blogged about this gift here.  He gave me the throne room background in a separate full-sized file without banners or people or the table, which I had printed on cotton by Spoonflower.

You can see there are some differences.  The banners are all a little different, the text box is longer than the one shown here to make everything fit together, and the border designs, which were a huge challenge, all have slight differences.  Also, there were three more swords pointing on the table from off-picture knights that I eliminated.

So first of all, I sent out the thrown room to be printed, as I said, and then I tried to dye the prepared for dye cotton/silk radiance he gave me to get that nice rich dark green for the Celtic borders. It came out a very pretty color, but not dark enough.  Here’s a picture of the fabric.  It will make a wonderful green for another quilt, so it isn’t a lost effort (I’m thinking a whole cloth pictograph).

My green dyed Radiance

So I talked to some of my quilting friends, particularly Jerry Granata, who has one specialty of working in unusual fabrics, and bought some (much less expensive) poly satin of exactly the right color of dark emerald green and did some testing.  That is what I ended up using.  I also had some green cotton of the right color that I used to work out the design and way to achieve the Celtic border designs on.  Quilters, I will tell you that getting these borders worked out was one of the biggest challenges of my entire fabric arts career.  I wrote a little about it in previous blogs: One and two and three.

After that, I decided it would be best for me to withhold additional photos and construction information until it actually debuts at its first show, which will be the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival in just a week.  I’m so excited.  I decided to go to the show, not only because Pendragon got in, but so many of my quilting friends and mentors will be there.  I’m not taking any classes, but I am going to attend several lectures, try to spend some time with my friends, do some quilt gazing and shopping, and stand by my quilt a bit even if it doesn’t place.  And it may not place.  I love it, but it does incorporate digitally printed fabrics, which is not an altogether accepted method yet, and I am all too aware that my quilting is not traditional in any way and needs to grow.  I plan on showing it as much as I can over the next couple of years regardless of the reception by the judges just because it is a meaningful quilt that I want people to see.  When it finally comes home for its retirement, I plan on giving it to Ken if he wants it.  I am thinking it will also be at my exhibit of my quilts at G Street Fabrics in April or May (I’ll give you the dates when I get them).

Anyway, back to the making of the quilt.  I loved the way the people came out mostly.  I particularly like the queen.  Her dress is a small print with gold that I outlined all the little flowers with gold thread quilting.  I used a matching sheer for the sleeves and actually made tiny sleeves for her arms.  All their hair is free motion thread work.  The guys’ tabards and the little banners all have machine embroidered designs.  The little banners are independent banners that I made, then hand stitched on top of the quilt.

I digitized the mens’ chain mail shirts using some of the powerful software in Bernina V7.  It was a fun challenge and took me several days to make it come out with the appropriate differences that fit their bodies.  Then it was embroidered on black and after applique I added some free motion chain work around them to make them look more real and smooth some of the joinings.  The swords were so challenging to figure out that (after much consideration and discussion with Ken and Beth) I ended up printing the digital design of the swords from Ken’s design and appliqueing them on with monopoly.  Getting the hands properly tucked around the handles was a bit of a challenge, but in the end, I was happy with the swords.  I added black crystals on King Arthur’s sword.   The crowns are free motion stitching using metallic threads with the addition of hot fix crystals.

All the quilting of the throne room was done with the idea of bringing out a 3D concept.  I am generally happy with that result.

Then I faced the challenge of piecing it together.  The border was in pieces and had to match up square and with the pictorial center.  I should have had the throne room printed slightly larger, because by the time it was quilted and squared up, it was a bit smaller than the intended design.  I dealt with this by adding a bit of black below the text box (to make up for the lengthwise shrinking), where I placed some quilting designs, and slightly narrowing the top and bottom small Celtic border pieces (to make up for the crosswise shrinking).  But in the end, after a few bits of frogging and restitching, it actually came out very square and flat.  I was  ecstatic.  Getting quilts square and flat, especially my art quilts that have so many different types of techniques, stitching, painting, etc, is a huge challenge every time.  This one worked.  I used my laser devices (a laser square and a laser cross hair lamp) to help get it square.  If the judges measure it, and it doesn’t get shifted in any way in the transport and hanging, they will find it a square quilt.

I used Quilters Dream thin poly batting and Hobbs wool batting.  I ended up using 6 titanium top stitch needles on this quilt…I think the gold paint dulled the points quicker.  Constructed on my Bernina 830LE and quilted on my Bernina Q20.  All Superior threads (variety of weights and colors).

Sew happy everyone!  Will I see you at MAQF?  Do you have any questions?

 

The Hoffman Challenge Is Finished and Now…

OK I finished my Hoffman Challenge quilt.  I still have to make the label and put the hanging pocket on the back, but otherwise this little quilt is finished.  I had intended to spend only a few weeks making it. Here is a picture:

Summer Media..photo by Ken Tatum

Summer Media..photo by Ken Tatum

I named it “Summer Melody”.  It took me longer than I planned, but I while I was making it I reorganized my entire upper floor, both my studio and my bedroom..and thoroughly cleaned my main level.  I also had my main sewing machine, Gibbs, go on the blink and had to carry it over for repair, bought my Bernina Q20, had it installed, and held my own private quilting retreat with classes and learning/practicing on my Q20.  So I’m tired but happy to have completed it and have now cleared the deck for some more intense show quilt making and continued work on my first book.

I went out to G Street Fabrics today to pick up a few things (an hour there and an hour back, plus I always spend some time there).  And NOW….

Having cleared up my studio, gotten my machines sorted out, finished all my ongoing quilts, I am all excited about beginning the next two projects, especially, and about working more on my first book about applique.  I like to work on two quilts at once, so I can vary things when I need to stop and think about next steps.  I am going to make a spiral galaxy quilt and my oldest son Ken’s design he put together for me (see the blog about that here).  I think I’ll write progress blogs about the spiral galaxy.  I want to hold back blogging about Ken’s design because it is very special.  I will, however, blog about making it after it’s debut showing, wherever that will be.  I also want to make some new blouses and vests for me–we’ll see if that gets done.

Sew happy everyone!  Oh it’s sew much fun…always play time in B.J.’s studio.  Come join me for a day or two if you are anywhere near Ashburn, VA.  There’s room and machines for friends to come and sew and quilt with me…just a few at a time though.  I can’t put you up overnight though.. I used up my guest rooms for my studio.  But there are some really nice hotels nearby. 😀 😀 😀

On Organic Quilting for Landscapes

I always need to work at coming up with how to quilt my landscape and pictorial wall art quilts, as I suspect most quilters do for their quilts.  I went through the recent past couple of years thinking I needed to learn a  more formal quilting style and to avoid the natural flow of organic quilting patterns that came to my mind when looking at a landscape or pictorial quilt.  This probably stemmed from my observations of the details of winning quilts at major quilt shows where the quilter had often used a very formal style of quilting even for pictorial or landscape quilts.  This is a fine way to approach it and probably entered in to the judges’ decisions to award the quilt a ribbon.  But for my quilts, I truly prefer a more organic approach, though I do admit there are places where formal quilt patterns would be in order.

As of this writing, I am currently in the process of quilting my Hoffman Challenge quilt for 2016.  This quilt is heavily appliqued to form a whimsical pictorial quilt of a fantasy forest path with trees, birds, animals, and butterflies.  Since it is so heavily appliqued, it has only small spaces in which to develop any formal types of quilting patterns.  I struggled for some time trying to come up with a good sky pattern for a quilt where the sky is supposed to be sunny and calm…not a lot of wind and no approaching storms.  Believe it or not I found this harder to decide on than I did the “sculptured stormy sky” quilting  that I came up with for Drawing Nigh.

"sculpted sky" quilting pattern for Drawing Nigh

“sculpted sky” quilting sample for Drawing Nigh

In the end, I decided on a simple meander using a 100 weight silk.  It makes the sky recede into the background without implying wind or clouds, and brings the appliques to the foreground, exactly like I wanted.  It’s not perfect (my quilting almost never is), but it seems reasonably good also.

quilting-1-web

This quilt is still in process…for instance, the butterflies don’t have their antenna and beadwork yet. The leaves on the big tree aren’t quilted yet. But this pic shows how the simple meander pushes the sky back where it belongs and brings forth the appliques. I quilted the big tree in a simple bark-like line.

For past quilts, like Noel, I have also struggled to find just the right pattern, or in truth, fill, that maintains the organic feel of the area and still provides enough added interest.  (This quilt won a Honorable Mention in HMQS 2013).

Noel quilting

Mossy side of the cave where the Nativity Scene is pictured within.

For me, it helps my end results to keep it simple, and for these types of quilts the shapes need to be organic and easy to use around complex shapes.  I think every quilter needs to develop their own style that suits them.  I am pretty sure it does not mean that you have less skill if you use organic shapes, although I think some judges think that, but it is an artistic design choice. Some of these organic styles actually require considerably more skill than you may think…for instance large areas of simple meander should be as evenly and appropriately sized for the project as possible, which is not always easy to do.  You also need to figure out if the areas are so large they need breaking up with something for interest sake (wind creatures or clouds, for instance).  I hope that judging is moving toward an understanding of this.  Nevertheless, I think that I will continue along this path, though I do think I should do a formal quilt at some point.  I have something in mind.

Note:  My Bernina sitdown longarm is arriving next week, perhaps Monday, followed by a day of set up and training by my dear Bernina dealer and friend Mei Ling and my magician tech Lew.  I hope very much that this addition to my machine family will not only help my other machines last longer, but provide me with a higher level of quilting.  It seems possible it might also speed up my quilting, since the stitching speed is twice that of my Bernina 830, but that is not a given.  After an enormous reorganization effort of the whole upper flour of my home, I have a wonderful space for the new machine, a nice space for my smaller Koala cabinet where i use my purely domestic machines, and maintained my big cabinet space for my 830 that I also use for cutting clothes and other projects.  This reorg has already brought many positive changes to my studio that I probably should have done earlier.  I’ll post pictures when everything is in place.

Sew happy everyone!  Try some organic free motion quilting for your next landscape scene.

 

When Projects Go Awry

One of my wonderful mom’s favorite jingles was a song taken from an old movie that was as old as I am.  It was You gotta stick to it tivity:  You’re gonna do all right, you’re gonna do all right.  She sang that to me when things I was trying to accomplish needed more work or went really awry. I can still hear her from time to time singing to me from heaven.  😀  I did see that movie, So Dear to My Heart sometime in my childhood and remember it a bit.

5" x 5" fabric greeting card or mug rug

A little heart mug rug…just showing it because this story touches my heart strings.

It didn’t seem like it at the time, but over the years I realized her singing that little jingle to me repeatedly was a gift that has served me well across the years, and most recently in my quilting.  While working on the past several quilts I have had things go awry rather badly and I thought it may be the end for both of those quilt projects.

Just this week, I started embroidering an element on my Hoffman Challenge 16 quilt and took extra care to place it perfectly along the cross hairs with my brand new laser cross hair light.  It was stitching wonderfully, until I looked at it and….

Gasp!  I had put the hoop on sideways!  Oh no.  The element was turned a perfect 90 degrees wrong.  I stopped the embroidery machine immediately, but it had already stitched quite a lot.  I don’t know why I didn’t see it before I did.

Well, I honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to fix it.  Machine embroidery is very much harder to remove than ordinary machine stitching.

073

So I started the process with my stitch remover and tweezers and realized I was simply not making any significant progress and I had put a small hole in the fabric. So I thought I would not be able to repair this quilt.  But I was wrong.

I decided the next morning to research what other people do when this happens and found a couple of videos on you tube of people using a hand held shaver and and another with an electric shaver-like device to remove such embroidery from the bobbin side.  Someone noted in the comments that it was a regular small razor, which is what it appeared to me to be also.  I bought a “Peanut” razor by Wahl, which is a very small palm sized razor and significantly less expensive than the embroidery specific razor.

peanut razor

It came and I successfully removed the embroidery with no further damage to the fabric.  Woohoo! I turned it to the back, braced it on my sewing ham to give it a solid rounded basis and shaved the bobbin side holding the razor kind of upside down as shown in the videos.  I didn’t think it did anything until I turned it over and scratched at the embroidery with my tweezers, and it started coming up!  It took me a couple of hours, but it all came and left no further damage than the small hole I made earlier.

So yesterday I starched and ironed the area and restitched the embroidery off quilt on nylon veiling, which I will applique on.  It will cover the small damage to the fabric with no problem and it looks wonderful.

This event follows on the heels of my completing Drawing Nigh which I just finished after having multiple problems and nearly giving up on it more than once.

Sew this is what I think.  It is all right to abandon a project, but if you have spent hours and money on it, it can pay you to try to fix it.  You may want to step back from it for a while and give it some thought. Do some research on what you can do to fix a problem you may not know how to fix, and keep on trying through one problem after another.  If, in the end, you just can’t fix it to look like you want, you may be able to cut part of it into another project,  or simply throw it away.  But i suggest you don’t do that until you really try to fix it. You may end up with a wonderful end result.

Sew happy everyone and “stick to it tivity: you’re gonna be all right!”

031

“Waiting…” 2: Finally Moving Along

Have you ever had a quilt that struggled with you to the point you nearly abandoned it?  Well, that was the second in my “Waiting…” series, but I picked it up and did some substantial fixing, and now I am at the point of coming close to finishing the top and I love it at this point.

First of all, I pieced a storm at sea section to become part of the ocean.  The piecing was challenging, but enjoyable and I liked the way it came out. Here are the first two blocks of that section.first two blocks

When I put it together with the fabric piece had for the rest of the ocean, and added the sky, the whole background piece seemed disjointed and the colors simply didn’t play well. So I took the ocean off the sky and overdyed the ocean (both pieces joined together) with a more sea-like color and they blended beautifully together.  The only negative result is that, even though I hand dyed it, the pieced storm-at-sea blocks’ seams tended to fray together, so I no longer had the nice flat open pressed seams I started with.  But really, by the time I spent several hours re-flattening and spray starching the sea, it looks wonderful.

But the sky…oh the sky.  It was just too dull and gray and lifeless.  I wanted a sky with an obviously approaching storm at sunset, just as the clipper ship can be seen on the horizon.  This is to add the drama to the story…can the ship make it into port safely, and will the family be reunited and get into shelter before the storm hits?

I had tried painting that sky three times already, and I didn’t like any of them.  So I took the one I liked the best and added clouds, lightening, sunset colors, and yes, I think it now has the drama (and color) I was hoping to add.  So I put the sky and the ocean back together.

Here is a quick pic of the ocean after I dyed it and got it back together with the sky.

Here is a quick pic of the ocean after I dyed it and got it back together with the sky.

Then I added the cliffs to the left of the picture and it began to look right.  I just put in a lighthouse on the top of the farthest away visible cliff, added the rocky steps and the stone platform in the nearest  stony area for the woman and her daughter to stand on and surrounded it with stones as it would be.  It has made all the difference.  I now finally like the quilt top.

But I was not happy with the original clipper ship I had chosen to use.  I am using a Dover high-definition painted ship and I have the collection.  They are much more beautiful than I could have made from scratch, and I don’t mind using commercially printed fabrics, so why should I mind using a fabric I print myself from a collection of great nautical paintings.  Using this still requires considerable advanced techniques in applique, thread work, and quilting.

tall ship

The ship I decided not to use.

The ship I'm using.

The ship I’m using.

So I hunted through the collection and found another one, which I printed out about five different sizes, and finally got it about right.  I like this one. It has life, the sails are billowing and are a better color.  I’m slightly leaning it on the quilt to add to the look of speed.  I printed it out both on the EQ regular cotton fabric and the EQ lawn.  I am appliqueing the whole ship down from the cotton fabric, and have added wool batting to the back of the front sails and will applique those in place to give it a bit of 3D billowing sales.  I am also adding a layer of wool batting behind the ship and trapuntoing it all in place.  Then I will stitch the rigging.   That will probably take me a couple of days to applique and another stretch of time to do the quilting and stitch the rigging.  Here is my machine stitching around the stones and stone steps up to the platform where the woman and her daughter will stand.

top under construction

Then there will be the stirring up of the sea with some Angelina fibers and some thread work.  That will be fun.

Sew happy everyone!  Wishing you all a wonderful National Quilting weekend, and a happy Palm Sunday on the morrow.

Progress on Several Projects

I have three projects currently underway and I’m having fun trying to clear my work flow of these three projects in order to attack two intense show quilt projects I’m also really looking forward to making.  My current projects include:

  • Hoffman Challenge 2016…I’m currently constructing the top.  It’s a happy little quilt, just a little bit fantasy-like and I’m currently placing and stitching down all the appliques.  I am planning on adding lots of bead work to this quilt, so a good part of the work will be after the sandwich is quilted and done by hand in the evenings.
The background was constructed using applipiece/piecelique technique.

The background was constructed using applipiece/piecelique technique.

Stitching the appliques down

Stitching the appliques down.  I will also add some machine embroidered animals to this fanciful forest.

  • The second quilt in my “Waiting…” series (name to be determined) is finally moving along.  I had a very hard time with the sky and the sea.  The woman and her daughter appliques were really hard to get right.  They still require a lot of details that will be added with stitching.  I also have to make the clipper ship applique, which will probably take me a lot of time.  But it’s finally looking like it is going to become a quilt.  I had my doubts when I didn’t like the sky (I repainted it), didn’t like the sea (I over-dyed both the pieced section and the non-pieced section together to bring them together), and I didn’t like the planned clipper ship design (I found a new one in Dover that has lots of motion).  I still have many rocks to add, and the more I look at it the more I think it needs a border…not very wide.  Long ways to go on this one.
It's a start...long ways to go, but it seems to finally be cooperating.

It’s a start…long ways to go, but it seems to finally be cooperating.  This pic is not square on to the quilt, I see…a little at an angle.  😀

  • And I’m working on my applique book, trying to draw up all the patterns.  This is a book showing several techniques of machine applique and the project related to it is a soft fabric book with applique samplers in it…ending with both an art project and a reference aid to the sewist for the future.  I got a package of 10 inch precuts to see if I can make the whole book using one layer cake and some white fabric for the pages.

Sew I have been having lots of fun in my studio, but it is getting a bit messy.  I am trying to clean it using a little bit of work at that every day, but I seem to be taking one step forward and two backwards…LOL.

Sew happy everyone!  Go have some fun in your studio and don’t worry about the mess.  Oh, and I haven’t forgotten the step of the month project…I am afraid though that it will have to wait a few more months before I can get to that one.

 

 

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.