Canterbury Knight: How to Make a Horse’s Tail

Stitching the appliques

Stitching the appliques

After stitching down the appliques, I did some free motion embroidery to make the tail, but it looked like a ghost tail, both because it did not have enough contrast from the background fabric and because it did not have enough stitching.  If I did any more it would have pulled the fabric too much.

The ghost tail

The ghost tail

So I decided to layer a new tail over the existing one by stitching one on black bridal veiling.  I layered two layers of washaway clear stabilizer, on which I had drawn the outline of the tail I needed to make, and covered it with the veiling.  Then I put this in my springform embroidery hoop, set up my machine for free motion stitching,

the setup

the setup

stitching independent tail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and stitched a new tail using two different Superior Rainbow threads.

two rainbows

two rainbows

And then I trimmed the veiling applique, soaked off the stabilizer and appliqued the new tail over the old one, using a few more free motion lines similar to those on the tail.  I had to remove only a few stitches from the original ghost tail that did not add to the shape and were outside the appliqued veil tail.  Voila!  A new tail any appliqued horse could be proud of!  😀

Horse with newly groomed tail

Horse with newly groomed tail

In the process, my little faithful Nikon Coolpix 600 pocket camera that I have used for at least a decade now died.  The motor that runs the lens focus appears to be the culprit.  It would cost me almost as much to repair it as to replace it, if it even could be repaired.  I have carried that little light pocket camera almost everywhere I went since I retired.  I use it to keep records of my work, and to make the photographs for this blog. The picture above of the rainbow threads is the last picture it ever took. (Insert “Farewell to my little camera” aria here–those of you who are opera buffs will understand this reference).  So I have to use my lovely big Nikon D200 camera that is kind fo heavy, and definitely not a pocket camera, until I replace it.  Thank the Lord I have a camera though.

Additionally, I have joined the fun with Ricky Tim’s 52 week photography class.  It is decidedly going to be a challenge for me, and my goal is to come out at the end with some fun photographs, but mostly to really learn to use my camera for artistic purposes.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt or take a picture.  God bless you all!

 

 

Canterbury Knight: Fixing mistakes and a marker test

At the end of the day yesterday I was feeling fairly depressed because I thought I had ruined my center block and would have to start all over.  But I decided to try today to fix it.  What happened is that I had added the mote stream behind the knight, and had failed to mostly cut out the fabric under the horse.  I forget how sensitive silk is to things, sometimes.  It is thinner and drapier, and so it showed the edges of the stream right through the horse.  I had steamed it down, so I didn’t think it would come up.

But I was wrong.  Today I found my little Clover ball point awl and a tiny bit of heating the applique with my iron enabled me to slip the awl under the edge without damaging the applique and remove it from the background, as well as separate the horse from the stream.  I recut it, reironed it down and it looks great.  The picture below  shows all the wrinkles and things of the background, but trust me, it is in good shape and all those will disappear with careful ironing and as I work it through. So I am ready now to start the edge stitching, threadwork, and details that go on before adding the border, the word block, the birds and then sandwiching it, which aren’t many.  Most of the details are quilted on.  The horse gets most of his tail and his main.  but beyond that, it is mostly edge stitching.  I am so grateful I managed to fix this!  On to the next challenge!

Ready for the edge stitching.

Ready for the edge stitching.

 

Sew I assembled a bunch of markers to see what I can do about marking the border, which has to be carefully marked, quilted, and then painted.  The border is black cotton/silk Radiance and I am not going to wash this quilt.  I will probably spritz and steam it a little for the blocking, but not enough to remove my favorite marker…the Crayola Washables.  I love those markers, because you can see them, iron over them, and they wash out completely. But you have to wash the quilt to use them.

Anyway, I tested everything from Frixion, Clover White Marking Pen, Fons and Porter mechanical pencil markers, Quilter’s Choice chalk silver and white pencils to White Mark Be Gone.  The Mark Be Gone works on black cotton but not on black Radiance.  You can’t see it.  The Frixion is completely unseeable.  The only ones that you could see are the Quilter’s Choice chalk pencils and the Fons and Porter mechanical markers.  They both rub off fairly quickly.  The Fons and Porter is what I used for Canterbury Silk, and it was very hard to keep on.  I kept having to remark frequently.

The winner, is Quilter’s Choice, both silver and white.  But even they rub off, just not as fast.  The Frixion works great on the other colors*.  And I only need those marks a little for placement of things, so I can do them in such a way that even if the quilt gets frozen in transit and they come back, it won’t be visible.  I do have to mark the light grey castle (yes, it’s grey, not white) for quilting.  I will use the silver chalk pencil for those.

Sew happy everyone!  Don’t get discouraged if you make a mistake.  It can often be fixed, and if not, you CAN remake something, though often there is another solution.

UPDATE:  I also have tested Pismacolor colored pencils, upon the suggestion of Hollis Chatelain.  These are very visible and remove easily with a fabric eraser.  I found they rub off, but not as easily as most markers.

*  If you use Frixion, be sure you place it in such a way that even if it comes back that won’t be a problem.  In my case I am only using it for placements of objects on the central block and it will not show even if it does not go away.  I have been told that quilts that sometimes get in very freezing weather when shipped have been known to arrive with the marks all showing because Frixion returns if frozen.

Working With Hot Fix Fibers (Angelina Fibers)

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of "Mountains of Creation".  My first deep space quilt.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of “Mountains of Creation”. My first deep space quilt.

I have made two deep space quilts that used large “appliques” of Angelina Fibers…or holographic fibers that make a “fabric” when ironed together and their sister fibers that do not iron together.  I used these fibers to try to represent the exquisite colorful gas clouds pictured in NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer telescope photographs.  I also have used this product to represent foamy tops of waves on a stormy sea on other quilts.  I believe they would also make wonderful steam clouds from a steam locomotive, wings of butterflies, dragon flies, fairies, or angels.

Working with the fibers is not really difficult, but I have discovered some things that make them work better for my purposes.  First of all, one cannot simply place a pile of fibers down and iron them flat if they are to look right. It’s more like painting with your fingers.

You need the following tools:

  • sheets of either a teflon pressing cloth or a saved sheet of backing paper from fusible webbing (note the hot fix fibers only stick to themselves and the bottom of your iron…you can work directly on your ironing board, though I cover mine with backing paper).
  • an iron
  • a pointy something, like a chop stick or a bamboo cooking skewer or a sewing awl to move the fibers around.
  • a hard pressing surface works better than a well-padded ironing board
Set up ready to start

Set up ready to start

Working with very thin layers, I laid the fibers on a backing paper and arranged them as much like I wanted them as possible with such a lively set of fibers, and carefully placed the teflon sheet over the top.

Really thin layer

Really thin layer

Blues change color the most

Blues change color

Sometimes, sliding the pointy thing under the pressing sheet, I made a few adjustments.  I then  ironed over the sheet, drawing the iron across slowly but steadily and without stopping.  That is all it needs to turn it into a “fabric”.

Carefully cover with pressing sheet

Carefully cover with pressing sheet

Here are some of the other things I learned about it:

  • If you iron the fibers too long….and that may be just a few more seconds…it will darken.  This can be useful if you are making a dark nebula, for instance, like the Horse Head.
  • They tend to change colors a bit.  Blue fibers are the hardest to keep their colors.
  • Not all Angelina Fibers are hot fix, but if you are going to cover the fibers with a nylon veiling and sew down, you can use them if they are the color you need by sandwiching them between a very thin layer of the hot fix crystal colors.
  • Work like you are finger painting…round shapes, good for cloud puffiness, are best done in circular motions with your fingers, and carefully laying the pressing sheet over them and pressing. ‘
  • You can kind of comb the fibers with your fingers and the pointy thing if you need them to stretch out sort of straight.
  • The only way to get a hard edge is to make a flat sheet of the fabric and then cut it.  If you want a soft edge (in appearance), don’t cut it, but pull it straight out flat with your fingers until it  tears  off in order to fit into your desired shape.
  • Once the fiber is made into a fabric, this fabric cannot be pulled into any additional shape…there is absolutely no stretch.
  • Sometimes it is possible to remove a layer if you haven’t over-melted your fibers together and don’t like what you have done.

 

layer ready for horsehead

layer ready for horsehead

If you are working out a pattern of some sort, you need to realize you will not be able to mark it except perhaps with a soft chalk marker that will just go away while you are working with it.  I worked on black fabric and printed out a smaller picture of what I was trying to accomplish in color.  Laying it next to my work, I referenced it.  I did mark approximate sections within the nebula on my black fabric using a chalk for sizing purposes.

The resulting artwork should not be washed after completion, so you have to be aware of that during the entire time.  It is possible to block your quilt by laying it on the floor and spritzing it with a fine mist of water, but do not wash it in your washer.  Also, once quilted, don’t pull your quilt too forcefully to try to block it.  So I use a quilt sandwich somewhat larger than I need and square it up by cutting rather than blocking.  The blocking is so it lays nice and flat.

I also printed the horsehead full sized and cut it out like a pattern.  This enabled me to cut out the horsehead part of the nebula by holding it together with the fiber applique before applying it.

Horsehead cut out after making as close as possible with fiber "painting"

Horsehead cut out after making as close as possible with fiber “painting”

The background needs to be completed before you start adding the Angelina Fibers.  In the case of the Sky Horse, I painted some of it first, sandwiched the quilt, spray basting it together, then laid the appliques on the background and covered them with black nylon veiling.  Black veiling virtually disappears in this case.  Then I placed my pressing sheet over that and did a light ironing to join all the appliques together.  Once I did that, I pinned it together with safety pins and did the quilting.

Horsehead layer in place

Horsehead layer in place

I used both black 100 wt silk thread and Superior’s Glitter.   This thread looks almost like the Angelina Fibers and works well for special places, such as the horse’s head.  I heavily quilted it.  Once it is quilted together with the nylon veiling it is much less fragile and I found it went through the shipping to and from and the showing at the Houston show with no apparent damage at all.  Before it is quilted, though, it is kind of easy to crease it.

You can't mark this, so lay a picture beside your work.

You can’t mark this, so lay a picture beside your work.

When used as just a small accent on a quilt, you don’t necessarily need a veiling, but you do need a heavy amount of quilting.  I found that Superior’s Glitter works very well for this also, since it looks like the fiber, but it sews easily.

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

Sew there you go….that’s how I work with  Angelina Fibers.  It’s harder to describe than it is to do, sew give it a try.  I’d love you to let me know how you find working with it yourself and if you have any tips to add.

Sew happy everyone!

 

Thinking About 2015 Quilt Activities

studio1

Now that I’m back from the trip to Houston and San Diego, and am almost finished with my little special exhibit quilt, it is time to decide what is going to happen next in my studio.  This is an exciting time for me.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas season, and I also love planning for the new quilting year.  Several new things will be happening.

First of all, I have finally gotten really going on writing a new book.  From the several subjects I have in mind I chose to write about machine applique first.   I chose this because I frequently hear that applique is something a lot of quilters and fashion sewists find difficult or dread.  Applique is fun and not difficult, so this book will include multiple techniques for machine applique and discuss when to use which type.  I plan on having several projects in the book for you to play with.  It is my intention to record a video to accompany this book.  So it will have the book, the dvd, and the projects.  This will take me a lot of time, and unfortunately, I will probably not be able to share specific progress with you along the way, but I hope it will be a good addition to the information already out there and be clear and easy to use.

Next, my plans require that I finally set up as a small business in order to sell the resulting project above from my web site along with some other smaller projects I am thinking of having available.  It will be a very low key business, designed primarily to finance my quilting activities, going to shows, and pay for this blog and my website.  If I make some real profit, that will be icing on the cake.

And finally, I am planning to make three or four new show quilts for 2015 shows.  I haven’t gotten the specific concepts together yet, but in general they will include one new illuminated manuscript quilt on silk (or silk/cotton blend) (to continue my series begun with Canterbury Silk), one new story landscape (this would be my fourth such quilt), one new line drawing quilt (third in my architectural/design lines series), and one new deep space quilt (third in the series).   If these go well and faster than anticipated, I could make another quilt or two, but I also have to allow space for a few articles of clothing and a couple of utility/charity quilts.  Seems like a fun but busy year ahead, starting now!

The other day I realized how important my Bernina 830 LE machine has become to my overall quilting activities.  I have now put nearly 8 million stitches on this machine that I bought at the end of 2011.  It is still going strong, but I think I need to start saving for a new machine in a couple of years.

Sew here is what I want to know from you…Do you like the idea of an applique book with DVD?  What are you working on now or plan to work on for 2015?  I’d love to hear from you.  I really like comments on my blog.

Sew happy everyone!

 

 

I Like Machine Applique

appliques

Appliques from Canterbury Silk at the beginning of the quilting process. These are fused, stitched raw edge applique with narrow single blanket stitch.

I have noticed lately quite a few statements by sewists and quilters about how they really dislike doing, are afraid of, or simply won’t do applique.  I have a little arthritis in these aging hands and find machine applique much more user friendly for this situation than by hand, but it is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt.  I use several applique methods and use each for different purposes.  I decided to share a few of my favorite applique points.

1.  For  very complex edge appliques I always use fused raw edge machine stitched applique.  I decide what look I want to determine if I use a satin stitch, a single blanket stitch, or a double blanket stitch.  I almost always use a really narrow stitch, but once, when I made seaweeds, I used a wider double blanket stitch and it looks really cool. 

 

Thread painted coral and seaweed with wider double blanket stitched edge.

Thread painted coral and seaweed with wider double blanket stitched edge.

For the printed appliques I digitally paint of faces and small appliques, I sometimes use a very small straight stitch with 10o wt silk very very close to the edge.  It depends on what I want to accomplish.

The Storyteller–This quilt relies heavily on appliques. Even the tree trunk, which is embroidered, was embroidered on a separate piece of fabric, cut out, and turned edge machine stitched. You just cannot see it was machine stitched down. The sun is turned edge also. All the other appliques are fused and edge stitched.

2.  For very smooth edged, larger appliques, I usually use a double layer of freezer paper template pressed to the wrong side, and do a turned edge by painting starch on the edge, turning it, and ironing just a small bit of the edge at first to make a smooth edge, and then ironing the whole turned edge down.  Once that’s all starched and heat set, I remove the freezer paper and iron it all flat.  I then stitch it down with 100 wt silk using a very narrow applique stitch.  It virtually disappears and closely approximates hand turned applique.

3.  Occasionally, I have done a reverse applique.  It’s not hard at all and has a unique look.

4.  And finally, there is the painted “applique”.  I will either paint it on the quilt and then quilt or quilt and then paint.  This is good for when you want to shade the applique or make it have a particularly unique look.  Although I use fabric paints that are washable after heat setting, I do not consider these quilts very washable.  They are blockable, but I would not wash these frequently.

Sew try some appliques on your next project. If you don’t like one method…try another. Teach someone to quilt, yourself, your son, your daughter, your BFF, your cat, your dog.