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.

Planning for the New Year in My Studio

031As I look at my fabric art plans for the coming year, and take a hard analytical look at where I stand in my fabric art today, I am really excited about 2016 in my studio.

Here are my plans for the coming year.  I hope you find them fun and potentially interesting, and invite your comments.

Books: During the past couple of years I have been fiddling around with writing several books for sharing what I have learned over the past sixty years of sewing, art, and past ten years of art quilting.  I looked first at one and then another subject, trying to get a focus.  Very recently, after much thought, my direction has solidified in such a way that I can use what I have already done and direct my writing in a more focused way.  While I am using “techniques for fabric art” as the focus, I believe these books can apply to traditional work also.  These will be short books, complete with practice projects.   I may get all four done, but I only really expect to complete two this year and two next.

  1. Techniques for Fabric Art:  Applique Methods
  2. Techniques for Fabric Art:  Surface Design
  3. Techniques for Fabric Art:  Threads and Threadwork
  4. Techniques for Fabric Art:  From Digital to Fabric Art

Lectures/Workshops/Videos:  Develop these along the same subjects as the books listed above, using the same samples.

2016 Show Quilts:

  1. Quick quilt 1: Hawaiian Garden…a vintage panel central theme (for MQX special exhibit, not a long project).
  2. Major quilt 1:  Waiting 2…a storm at sea…second in the series of women (wives, mothers, sisters, friends) and children through history waiting for their men to return from difficult missions while keeping the home front.  (note:  while I realize that women have also fought in wars and carried out difficult missions throughout history, that is another subject that I may address at some point in another series).  Underway
  3. Quick Quilt 2: Hoffman Challenge 2016.  A two week project, more or less…just a small quilt.
  4. Major Quilt 2: Deep Space 3:  Spiral Galaxy M51
  5. Major Quilt 3:  Ancient Manuscript Series 3…TBD

I know this seems a lot, but realize that I work on this full time, have already been working on much of this for the past year, and some of this is bringing that work to completion.  I’ve already written much of book 1 and some of the other three books, I’ve already designed and begun construction of Quilts 1, 2, and 3, so I think it is a viable plan.

In the process of planning this work, I have decided to abandon the Bernina v7 workbook I was working on.  I got it about 80 percent complete and couldn’t seem to get it any further.  So instead, I will use it here in my blog and share it in sections  across the year.

I am considering developing a project for my readers to work along with me..kind of like a block of the month…but focused on making a small wall quilt.  Would you be interested in this?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Let me know what you are working on, and if you have any suggestions for me.

Sew Happy everyone!

 

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.

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

Waiting…, Quilt 2: Drawing the people

For my second quilt in the Waiting… series, I am struggling not only to draw the woman right, but to add a young girl at her side.  I tried a lot of different women, but decided to go back to more or less the same woman with some differences in hair and clothing, so that drawing is progressing, but the child has been a huge struggle for me so far.

First of all, you need to know that I have to get the drawing right before I can make the applique.  The only thing I plan to print onto fabric are the faces and hands of the woman and the girl.  The rest might be appliqued fabrics, yarn, and thread painting.  Still, I have to get it right so I have a pattern to go by.

I have combed the internet to find a good model for the little girl standing in the right pose with more or less the right clothing.  The closest I came are two girls from Dover Pictura and neither one of them are right.  Here they are:

Girl with hat and flowers Girl with muff

 

So I am struggling to draw a little girl with all my requirements.  She has to be pretty, she has to be a little windblown, though not as much as her mom, because she is shielded a little by her mom.  She has to be looking out to sea, and she has to be dressed in the mid 19th century outdoor winter clothing.  So far, I have managed to sketch the head, and that’s all.

girl's face

 

The head, of course, is the most important part and also the most difficult.  That’s the part I will printout in fabric and use as an applique.  The rest of it has only to be properly proportioned and designed, because that’s just a pattern, unless the drawing is wonderful, then I may use much of the whole drawing for the applique and just add embellishments of thread painted hair and the yarn for the fur edging.  I have spent a lot of time drawing this head with some frustration.  Now I have to paint her.  I’ll show you the finished woman and child when I get it done.  It takes time, but if I want to make this quilt, I have to do this.

Sew happy everyone!  I hope to have it ready to make the entire two appliques by the weekend.  What color do you think her hair should be?

Cheers.

National Sewing Month…Happy September!

September is National Sewing Month.  I like September for a lot of reasons, and this is just one of them.  It seems like a page-turn in life, almost like a new year and I love to watch the leaves turning from green to purple, orange, red and yellow that starts in September.  I like to turn the page and start afresh in my studio too.

I have four quilts out for shows right now, and I will learn whether any of them placed in mid-September.  I always hope I will get a ribbon, but I think the chances for any of these placing is quite slim, considering all the fabulous quilts in these shows.  Two of these shows are in mid-September:  Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in Philadelphia, which has Sky Horse and Kanazawa Memories and AQS Quilt Week in Chattanooga, which has Canterbury SilkInternational Quilt Festival in Houston, which has Canterbury Knight doesn’t happen until the end of November, but they say they inform the winners that they have won something around mid September.   So if I don’t get any ribbons, which I am always disappointed over even though I tell myself not to be, I can get over that all in the same part of the month and move on.

stash-building-web

Speaking of moving on, this September is bringing the beginning of several fun projects.  I am starting the second in my women keeping the home fires burning while their men were away for work or war throughout history series (I’ve GOT to get a shorter title for this series, and perhaps I need to end it with a modern day man keeping the home fires burning for their woman, but that is a ways away if I even do it). I began this series with “Waiting…”, and then decided it would make a wonderful series.  I have gotten all the fabrics together and a sky painted.  I’m not sure about that sky…I may paint another one. I can’t tell until I have more of the other parts of the quilt made and can put them kind of together.  It’s really kind of a rework of this quilt, but actually is going to be considerably different:

Waiting...

Waiting…

I’m also designing a quilt for Hoffman Challenge 2016 but the fabric isn’t yet available.  They have posted what they will be here.  I like the fabrics this year.  I wasn’t inspired by the choices for the past few years.  So I decided to make a 2016 quilt.

I like to work on two quilts in different phases at once so I can switch between them when I feel like throwing them out of the window.  This is an inevitable phase of making show quilts…I always have at least some point of time I need to leave it alone and work on something else just so I don’t take my scissors to it.  So since I can’t get started on the Hoffman Challenge quilt until the fabrics are available, I am also working on a couple of other quilt designs I have rumbling around in my head right now.  I’ll tell you about them later.

Additionally, this month I’m picking back up my work on two books I’m writing.  One of these is about 80 percent complete, and the other is outlined and I have the first chapter written.  Both require samples and pictures…so I am working on those also.

And finally, I am working on developing a couple of classes to teach locally.  I’ll let you know what those are and how they go when I get them further along.  I’m thinking machine applique for one, and domestic machine quilting for another, but they are very much in the early stages of just thinking about them at this point.  I have the location already worked out.

So happy National Sewing month everyone!  Learn a new technique, practice an old one, or teach someone to sew…your kid, your brother, your cat.  So happy everyone!