Happy Progress

 

Vienna bag

Small evening clutch I purchased in Vienna Austria

Hooray! I have completed my fashion sewing project and everything fits pretty well.  I still have to make a special belt to go with my dressy outfit, but that’s a small project I will do one day for a fun break.  I made three vests, two slacks, one blouse, and did a bunch of repair on existing items.  I also found two beautiful evening bags I had forgotten about, so I didn’t have to make one of those.  I repaired three really nice everyday/tote bags I had made some time ago, and they are better than new. If I have time before I go to Houston, I might make one more pair of slacks and another bag, but it is not a necessity.

Kimono bag

Silk clutch from Japan designed to wear with Kimonos. I got this in Kanazawa, Japan many years ago, but it is still in good shape.

My childcare responsibilities for my grandson have moved to after school only, which gives me a good part of the day and weekends to work on my quilting now.  Sew I have been busy planning out my next phase of quilting projects.  One is a small special request quilt that is due in the beginning of January and so I have to get going on that right away.  I finally managed to work out a design for that quilt after many hours, and I’m ready to start that one. I will save the progress pictures and show them to you after its debut.

I haven’t decided on my other project yet. I usually like to work on two over a space of time. I’ll try to figure one out that I can share with you as I make it.

For the most part, I work without deadlines on my quilts.  That is, I have determined there are enough excellent quilt shows across the year that whenever I finish a quilt there will be a show I can debut it in.  However, there are a couple of shows that I particularly like to use for debuts of my show quilts. These have very early deadlines..months and months before the show.  That’s what inspired my Quilting Show List I keep more or less up to date on my Website so I can keep track of all of this.  It is not all inclusive, but it does include most of the shows I find of interest to me. I probably miss a few here and there that should be on this list.

It’s always kind of exciting when I get to this point…all my previous projects done and time to start new projects. I even have my studio in pretty good shape…just needs a small amount of pickup and vacuuming.

Sew happy everyone.  Teach someone to appreciate the beauty of quilts…your father, yourself, your daughter, your son, your dog (who may be asleep on one right now).

 

Progress Report and Thoughts on Quilting Economics

Saturday Morning 12 July

Saturday Morning 12 July

Hi. It’s been a while since I wrote a post mainly because I didn’t have anything more interesting to say than “I’m still quilting.” 😀  Well, I finally finished the quilting and moved on to painting the border.

Now I thought that painting the border would not take me more than a day or two, but I have been painting about three full days so far and as you can see, I have less than half of it done.  I’m using a combination of  Lumiere and Setacolor paints.  I found if I accidentally paint a little outside the stitching, it can easily be removed if I act quickly with a dampened paper towel.  Then I finish off the leaves and flowers with a coat of SoSoft glitter finish.  I actually like the Setacolor glitter finish also, but the glitter pieces are much larger in it and I thought the subtlety of the SoSoft works better for this quilt.  SoSoft takes a couple of days to stop being sticky, but it dries to a level where it doesn’t disturb it if you touch it in about 10 minutes.  Setacolor dries faster and better than any of the paints.  After the paint dries for a couple of days, I will turn the quilt upside down into a soft towel to prevent the trapunto effect from being squashed and heat set them by ironing from the back of the quilt.  I’ve already tried this with my sample pieces and know it works well. 

I estimate that I will finish the painting in about three more days of work.   I am using multiple paint colors on each leaf, flower, and swirl and this takes time. Then I will bind it and I have a lot of beading I want to add to the quilt…beads in the middle of the flowers, around the center of the faux sashing between the red center block and the border, and I ‘m debating whether to scatter some beads on the border.  The original design from the illuminated manuscript has some scattered spots of paint that could easily be beads on the quilt.  Here it is.  See the spots?

My design...border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

My design…border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

 

Sew that’s why I haven’t been around to post anything much lately.  But I have been taking periodic breaks and watching entries in Facebook, The Quilt Show, and so forth.  I have noticed that there is a bit of disturbance in the quilting world regarding what threads and fabrics to buy, what fabrics “require” what threads, and where “responsible shoppers” buy them.  Sigh.  I may lose some of my followers here, but this is what I think about all of this.  Buy the best grade of fabrics and threads you can, because you are spending so much of your time and effort making these wonderful quilts and garments, but sometimes you can find real bargains of fine quality threads and fabrics.  So buy them where you can get the best for the best price.  If you buy them from JoAnns, or the big box store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping supply badly-needed jobs for your neighbors.  If you buy them at your local quilt store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping to keep them in business.  If you buy them from the Internet for a particularly good price and convenience without spending gas to go get them, you can rejoice in having saved enough over time to make one more quilt—perhaps even a charity quilt.  Don’t feel guilty for where you shop or what you buy, but DO pay attention to the quality.

Sometimes it is just as cheap or cheaper to buy a high quality thread in a cone on sale than it is to buy a low quality thread in smaller quantities at a discount store.  The lower quality thread also can damage your machine, so that has to enter into your thinking about the economics behind your purchases.  Also, it is not necessary to use cotton threads on cotton fabrics.  The quality of the higher end threads, especially, are so high now that no longer applies.

Sew those of you out there who have developed into–for good reason–thread snobs or fabric snobs, please be gentle with those who shop where you think they should not and buy the threads you think they should not, and vice-a-versa.  Love thy fellow quilter or sewist as thyself.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew…your son, your granddaughter, your nephew, your niece, your fiance, your neighbor down the street, your cat, your dog. 😀

Aprille with Chaucer…slow but steady progress

I probably quilted more than 40 hours for both the past two weeks, and all of it was on my silk Chaucer quilt.  I estimate at least another 50 hours of quilting plus the painting, beading, and binding that comes after that.  Do my quilting muscles hurt?  Truly!  Am I having fun?  Absolutely!  I have been making quilting decisions as I go along.

Some of you have asked how I was doing the text box, so I thought I’d show you.  I first digitized it in my Bernina v6 software, embroidered it on a piece of black Radiance, and pieced it into the quilt.  Yesterday I finished the quilting around all the words and the rest of the text box, adding some soon-to-be-painted flourishes on each side of the text.  Here is the result so far:

textbox quilted

textbox quilted

As you see I also have a 1 1/4 inch faux sashing.  I plan to edge this by couching some Ricky Tim’s Razzle Dazzle on either side, but I have not figured how I’m going to quilt it yet.

All the stitching around the embroidered vine and the appliques is complete, but I haven’t done much with the background stitching, nor have I completed the quilting of the appliques themselves.  I had to do a lot of frogging and restitching to get it up close like I wanted it.  I still see a few places where I still need to do this.  But here’s a sampling of the center:

Applique sampling

I still have a lot of stippling around the border and, after much thought and searching through books and Electric Quilt, I figured out generally what I will use for the background stippling of the central theme.  Originally I was going to do a diagonal decorative stitch  from my Bernina, but decided it just won’t work with all that stopping and starting.  So I THINK I’m going to use a nice vine/leaf style I found on one of my EQ designs.  I have to practice first to see if that works before I stitch that part.

I have been happy to see the waves and wrinkly parts go away the more I quilt, as I had thought they would.  Here’s a view across the quilt.

Across the quilt

Across the quilt

Sew I am making slow but steady progress on this challenge to myself.  I’ve also been enjoying a lot of music and audiobooks on my ipod as I quilt.  I just “read” the final in Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarian series “Crown of Renewal”.  I give it about 4 stars.  I thought the ending could be better, but I won’t say how here because I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you are reading it.

Sew happy my friends!  Teach the young and old alike to quilt and sew, men, boys, girls, women, dogs, cats!  😀

 

 

Progress and Plans

I’ve made a lot of progress on my little silk folk art Chaucer quilt, temporarily titled “Whan That Aprille”.  I have completed the central section, embroidered the text box, and assembled the top with the black border, which I also marked.  I am waiting on my order of additional black Radiance for the back and while I wait, I have been experimenting with threads and settings for the quilting.

I decided I really like the look of the antique gold metallic from Superior Threads.  Now I have discovered that my old Bernina 1230 “Betsy” has no problem with Superior metallics at all, and neither does my little B350 “E-Claire”, but my big old honking “Gibbs”, my Bernina 830 LE has some trouble with it.  It’s all related to the tensions of both the bobbin and the top.  It’s one of the best features of Gibbs, but also one of the most complex that it allows tremendous adjustment for both the bobbin and the top.  I really want to use the big machine to do my quilting so I can use the stitch regulator and the large table arrangement that makes quilting so easy.  I must have spent three full quilting days trying to figure out how to get the setup right and the gold thread to quilt without showing up as “tension problems” on the back that judges simply cannot abide.  But I finally got it, I think.  Here is the setup I have for the black borders that I plan to quilt in antique gold thread:

Silk-Cotton black Radiance for both the top and the back
90/14 Superior titanic top stitch needle
Superior 100 weight silk thread in the bobbin
Top tension 2.0
Bobbin thread for embroidery, but tension is loosened two clicks to the left (there is a special tool for this)
Bottom layer of batting is a thin polyester from Quilter’s Dream
Top layer of batting is Hobb’s wool.

Now yesterday I had no problem with this.  Both the top and the bottom looked absolutely even.  Today I had a few spin out loops on the back, but I think it is because I got overly confident and started sewing too fast.  So I slid the speed control to the left and slowed way down with no more problems.  My other two machines will not sew that fast.  It just needs time to make it right.  I have successfully quilted one of my five little practice mug rugs.  I plan on finishing up four of them and sharing them with some of my friends that I owe mug rugs to.  I will use them as practice painting samplers also, since I am planning on painting the border designs.

Sew what else have I been doing while waiting for the backing fabric?  I have been rejiggering my quilting plans for the rest of this year and beginning of next year.  I put them on my website (did you know I also have a website)?  I have also started updating my quilt show list I keep there, but I figure that will take me a few more weeks to complete.  I’ll let you know.  Anyway, here is my “current projects” list (actually it’s my current plans list, but I like the feel of “projects” as opposed to “plans”…seems more like I’m making lots of progress. 😉

 

  1. Whan That Aprille:  A folk art applique, embroidery and beading experiment.  I combined this with the illuminated manuscript project.  This is a silk and silk/cotton/Radiance quilt.  The main center section is complete, the black border is pieced on and marked, the text box is successfully embroidered and pieced in.  I am ready to make the sandwich and begin the quilting, but I decided I needed considerable experimenting, testing, and practice before I do this, and have put together five small mug-rug sized practice pieces for this purpose.  I estimate completion of this quilt by 1 August.
  2. **NEW** First Flight:  New blue print based whole cloth quilt based on Wright Brothers’ Line Drawings and an applique/embroidery rendition of a plane in the center.  Mostly designed, although not patterned out yet.
  3. Volcanic Fire with Flying Things:  Erupting volcano with dark mountain, smoky orange sky and fiery volcanic lava…in the near orange sky there will be a fight between phoenix and dragon in hopefully magnificent colors.  This was inspired in part by my recent storm-at-sea quilt “Waiting…” in which I placed a rocky lower border.  I enjoyed making that border and it made me think of volcanic rocks.  It was also inspired by my work on “Sky Horse” and I decided the phoenix or dragon should have a large component of Angelina Fibers and crystals as part of the applique.
  4. Peppered Ikebana:  This will draw from old Japanese Sashiko for the background, and will have a Japanese flower arrangement in the foreground.  I am planning on making this largely with Pepper Cory’s shot peppered cotton fabrics, both free motion machine quilting and Sashiko large stitch quilting, and a combination of applique and machine embroidery for the flower arrangement.  Remember, I have my fourth year flower arranging certificate in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana that I got in Japan and I want to use that in a series of flower-arrangements on quilts.
  5. Flower appliques and embroidery:  I am using Beth Tatum’s beautiful flower pictures to design both in-the-hoop appliques and embroideries and out of the hoop free motion embroideries as a joint quilt with her (my DIL).  Working on applique designs.
  6. Jazz On a Crystal Night:  A stylized nighttime city scene with musicians silhouetted in tall building windows and doors.  The music stream will be floating out of the windows and doors to the sky where it “explodes” into “fireworks”.  This quilt will have a lot of crystals. Set in the 1920s.
  7. Light in an Ancient Forest: Very dark forest with great old character and large wonderful trees.  Coming through the trees is a beam of sunlight that lands on the floor of the forest highlighting [something] in  full of color.  The something may be an ancient ruin of church with the light coming through the stained glass or a small patch of colorful flowers.  There may be a woodland creature or two peaking out from behind some of the trees.  🙂
  8. Perspective in Silk:  Second in series of perspectives in thread drawings…I will do this one on silk with colorful threadwork.  This may become the start of a series on American monuments or something else.
  9. Zephana’s (my mother) Gifts:  Using my mother’s unfinished hand-crocheted lace I found in her workbasket after her passing for embellishment and a key design component, this quilt is in her memory.  I will use a background of linen  and silk fabric.
  10. Dragon Dress for Competition: Black quilted silk sheath dress with flared skirt, will have appliqued trapunto dragon wrapped around the dress.  This is for competition and will include machine embroidery, hand embroidery, Angelina Fibers, crystals, beads and sequins.  I just have to figure out how to make the dragon wrap so it looks right.

Sew Happy everyone, and what are you working on or planning now?

 

 

Playing in My Studio: Combining Multiple Techniques

I really love taking the different techniques I have managed to gather over the decades and apply them to make an art quilt, a decorated vest, or a beautiful bag. Since my retirement a couple of years ago I have spent a lot of my time learning and perfecting new and old techniques with the goal of being able to call on anything to produce the look I want. In my quilt “Waiting…”, for instance, I used drawing, paper piecing, regular piecing, applique, trapunto, fabric painting, digital art printed fabrics, thread painting, free motion quilting, and embellishment.

Waiting...

Waiting…

So whether you are a traditional, contemporary, art, or modern quilter, I encourage you to gather your techniques and tools and put them all together to realize your own masterpieces. It’s really fun to not be limited by not knowing how to do some technique and you can end up with some delightful items while you learn. While it’s always nice to have a face-to-face class with an expert, one of the nice things today is there are many sources for learning these techniques online, sometimes with accompanying books.

First of all, If you haven’t already, I suggest you spend the modest amount of money to buy a membership on The Quilt Show and watch the shows, the classes, and the videos that accompany the BOM (Block of the Month) even if you are not making the BOMS. This has been a big resource for me in improving my quilt making, learning about who are the major quilters in the world today, and being inspired when I get discouraged.

Secondly, I discovered that Nancy Zieman has many of her Sewing With Nancy available free to watch on Wisconsin Public Television online website, many of which relate to quilting, but in fact, most any kind of sewing relates to quilting.  Also, you can purchase her dvds with accompanying books from Nancy’s Notions.

Sharon Schamber has dvds available now on some of her techniques from her daughter’s website that she used to have on a downloadable website. I subscribed to that website that is now defunct, and downloaded and watched everything available, even the long arm ones. I fortunately still have them.  Some of the videos seem a little primitive in format, but her techniques are wonderful. I particularly recommend The Quilt Fairy, which shows a painting method that has stood me in good stead for many places on my show quilts.  Now that brings up another point.  Fabric painting has different styles and materials just like applique or piecing, and each one has its place and learning as many of them as you can is helpful.  On “Waiting…” I used Sharon Schamber’s method presented in The Quilt Fairy to put the lowlights and highlights in the woman’s dress and cape.  I used my own computerized digital painting to paint her face and hands and printed them on fabric and appliqued them.  I used watered down Setacolor fabric paints to wash paint the sky fabric as demonstrated by Mickey Lawler show number 1305 on The Quilt Show.  Her hair is thread painted, which is another key technique especially useful for art quilts.  While I developed my own technique for this, it closely matches that shown by Nancy Prince on show number 1004 on TQS.

 

finished detail as shot 2

Wind-tossed woman showing the high and lowlights on her clothing, her digitally painted face and hands, her thread painted hair, and a little embellishment.

 

tatum-detail-waiting-AQS

The clipper ship has wool batting between the sails and the quilt. Together with the dual bats (one 80/20 and one wool) I used in the quilt itself, this provided a wind look behind the sails.

If you are going to be at AQS Charlotte in July, my quilt “Waiting…” will be in the show and you can go see it for yourself.  It may not place.  I have had it in two shows so far and it did not.  One judge at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival thought my borders were too large.  Another judge at HMQS really didn’t like it.  She didn’t like my color choices, my overall design impact, and my quilting.  But hey, to each his own, right?  I would make it in the same colors today even after that critique, and I happen to like what I call “organic” quilting for a story landscape quilt like this.  The winners for that show are magnificent quilts, I will say.  Nevertheless, I am honored to have my quilt show in the big shows even without a ribbon.

I want to show you one other quilt, because it has a heavy dose of in-the-hoop machine embroidery, which isn’t used in Waiting…,  that I digitized myself and also motifs I used from my Bernina software that I enlarged and painted after it was quilted.

The Storyteller...now touring with Hoffman Challenge 2013 show

The Storyteller…now touring with Hoffman Challenge 2013 show

The phoenix and dragon in front of the sun is the story she is writing.  The word on her tablet is “Betty” in Japanese Katakana.  I drew and painted her on my computer myself, printed her on fabric and appliqued her down.  After that I added some highlights with real paint.  Then I drew and digitized the tree trunk myself from scratch.  It was a bear to stitch.  I stitched it out twice on a piece of brown fabric.  It required two hoopings on my jumbo hoop on my Bernina 830 LE, and then I turned the edge of the brown fabric behind the stitching and appliqued it to the quilt.  Even though the tree trunk was tough to do, I like it so much I am planning on using this kind of tree trunk in a deep dark forest quilt that I am planning, which will have a beam of light making it through the trees to a color-filled spot on the forest (perhaps the ruin of a beautiful little church with the light shining through the stained glass window to the floor of the forest where flowers are blooming.  It’s been in my head for a long time now.

I am telling you all of this because I am thinking of writing a book about some or all of these techniques.  I am working on a book proposal now, but I can’t share much about this with you because of the publisher rules, who understandably does not want things published before the book gets published.  I have temporarily put aside the Bernina book because I understand that many of my frustrations have been dealt with in the latest v7 software upgrade, but I need to obtain this product before I can see for sure.

Sew happy everyone!  And pull those techniques together–even hand quilting and embroidery–to realize your dream quilts.

 

Whan That Aprille: The words section

I am currently in the process of stitching down all those little applique pieces on the red section of my little Chaucer quilt. I’m about halfway through that and my shoulders and neck are kind of hurting now, so I thought I would stop for a bit and work on the words section. Think of this as a page in a Medieval illuminated book. The red part is in the upper center and below that is the verse in a Medieval style text box. The border around the edge is probably still going to be black, but will be quilted in metallic threads (I think…may change my mind on that). I did a mock up of what I am thinking as far as the text box. I am planning on trying a tea-dye on some white silk/cotton Radiance and will try adding some additional aging with a very thin bit of watered down brown Setacolor inks. Here are the words I am going to include. I am going to try to digitize this in Bernina v6 so I can get it embroidered in the hoop.

text box for web

The “W” has to be fabulous and I will probably color it somehow (I’m thinking fabric markers). I have one choice in the mock up, and here are 4 more. If I use the first one, I will probably not use the mermaid somehow, but I kind of like the rest of it. With that in mind which one do you like? (Reference as “Mockup”, Top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right)

Whan Ws

Just so you get the idea for the look I’m kind of going for, I thought I’d include this example–I probably will add a decorative border down the side, and maybe even the man on the horse…in keeping with the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales…if it doesn’t fight too much with the red floral center, which represents the opening prologue:

Chaucer_ellesmere

Anyway, as you can tell I am adding a bit of difficulty to the overall quilt, but I think it should be splendid if I can only realize the vision I have in my head. Then there is the matter of quilting it…. 😯

Sew happy Everyone! 😉

Whan That Aprille: Begin Again

new-fabric-stitching-web

 

Sew!  I completed the in-the-hoop embroidery on the new piece of wine red dupioni.  I had digitized this from my design and it required five jumbo hoopings for Gibbs (my Bernina 830 LE) to stitch it out.  I have a problem getting those alignment marks they put in there in good places. As far as I know, there is no way to adjust the placement of them, so I ignore them.  This requires that I print out the full sized template from my software, tape it together, mark where the hoops go and the center mark for each hoop, and cross my fingers as I hoop them.  For the most part, I am usually successful, but it requires close watching and sometimes a large amount of adjustment.  For some reason when I get the hoop placement just right so everything is green in the computer (that means they fit in the hoop and the whole design is covered), and then save it to the USB stick, it isn’t the same when I sneaker net it to Gibbs, and is often totally off.

Nevertheless, I generally manage to get it to line up by some finagling, and often have nothing out of place.  This one was tricky though because of that long central trunk vine curving up through three hoopings.  So I got it a little bit off, but just in one spot and I think I can fix it ok using a satin stitch (out of the hoop).  It’s quite narrow, but here’s a close up of the misalignment, and it also shows that one black berry was not stitched fully (it came outside of the hoop on Gibbs despite being in the hoop on my computer, and so I just let it go…to fix that later too:

misalignment-web

 

Anyway, I’m very happy overall with the embroidery, and the next step, after I fix those small errors in the embr is a lot of bobbin embroidery from the back using # 8 Perle Cotton.  Once that is completed, I will start on the appliques.  I have so many lovely colors of Radiance 10 inch squares and a few larger pieces from which to make the appliques.  I think the hooping was the most stressful part of making the quilt top, so I’m glad that is behind me.   I have to embroider the words, but thanks to a friend’s suggestion, I have a new idea for how to go beyond this central part of the quilt that places the words better and will also make them easier to embroider.  Hopefully I can fit them all in one hoop!

I know I  will have to do a dramatically wonderful job of quilting this, and I am planning on marking it pretty fully once I figure out how to quilt it.  I’ll be asking you all for suggestions once I have the top finished.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sew happy!

 

Now that Sky Horse Is Complete…

Detail from Sky Horse
Detail from Sky Horse

As some of you know, I finished Sky Horse and sent in my application to try to get it into IQA Houston this year.  I am not posting a full photo of it until after its first show debut, but thought since I had spent many hours archiving the old blog and figuring out the new blog that I would celebrate by posting a picture of the horsehead itself.

I also decided not to use the start I made on my little Jacobean birds-in-a-tree that I am using with opening words to Chaucer’s prologue to The Canterbury Tales embroidered around the border.  Now I am fully aware that the two periods of history in which Chaucer lived and wrote, and the Jacobean period are separated by several hundred years, but somehow the birds in a tree with all the flowers embroidered on silk seemed just right for Chaucer’s “Whan that Aprille”, which is the name of the quilt.  And besides, I am embroidering and appliqueing the quilt by a modern high-tech computerized sewing machine, and plan on adding buttons and beads and maybe some hot fix beads.  It’s going to be quite an elaborate little quilt.  It clearly is way away from my normal style of quilting, but will be using the same techniques.  You have probably seen my design before, but here it is in case you haven’t:

 

Whan That Aprille Design

Whan That Aprille Design

 

You may not be aware, or perhaps you are, that decades ago I had my own fashion design business during which I designed and made a number of elaborate wedding dresses and special occasion dresses.  I worked a lot with silk, and embroidery, and beads.  I would have LOVED to have had the equipment I have today to work with.  So in its way, this little quilt is a nod to that period of my life when I lived in Ithaca, New York, my children were little, and I did a lot of singing, sewing, gardening, and fashion design.

Well, let me tell you…that first piece of silk that I embroidered the vine on was just poor quality.  I washed it and found it ran and ran and it had way too many slubs, so that it looked almost like raw silk, and clearly was not going to take the heavy amount of work I have to do to accomplish this quilt.  Plus, I decided I wanted a darker shade of red.  So I put it aside and am starting afresh on a gorgeous dark red dupioni that I already tested for color fastness, and even though all dupionis are slubbed, this one is much more refined.  Besides, that other fabric was going to fight me the whole way.  You know, you can tell these things when you start to work with a piece.  You can’t tell the problems in this picture, but you can see it is not the darker red I wanted:

Original piece

Original piece

Sew sometimes you have to start things over…blogs, quilts, plans for the future…either to keep moving forward or to make things come out right in the end.

Unfortunately, I cannot figure out how to restore the list of those subscribed to this blog, so if you want to receive an email when I post a new blog, PLEASE resubscribe.  Thanks!

Sew happy everyone!