In My Studio on This Good Friday

On this quiet Holy day, I have been spending time in my studio working on digitizing an embroidery design and also doing some practice on ruler work at my domestic Bernina 830 LE.

The result of today's little digitizing practice in Bernina v7 embroidery software.

My little digitizing practice in Bernina v7 embroidery software.

I bought a ruler foot by an an Australian company Westalee and a #77 Bernina adapter foot so I actually have a ruler foot.

Ruler foot assembly

Ruler foot assembly

I borrowed some longarm rulers from my daughter-in-law, Beth, to see how this works.

Just a few of the handful of rulers Beth loaned me.

Just a few of the handful of rulers Beth loaned me.

 

I will be making a second video sometime this week using these rulers and this foot.

I learned a few things about this.

  • I really needed something on the ruler to make it grab and hold the foot.  I put some small squares of that spongy shelf paper backed with double sided basting tape in a couple of places on each ruler, careful not to cover up an important line or intersection.
  • I tried both with and without my supreme slider, and found the slider was a must to make it work well.
queen sized supreme slider taped down at my machine with blue painters tape.

queen sized supreme slider taped down at my machine with blue painters tape.

  • Beth loaned me one ruler that was thicker than than 1/4 inch and I found this would run into the screw on the adapter part of the foot assembly and make the ruler scoot out of alignment, but the normal quarter inch long arm ruler works just fine.
  • I found the smaller, shorter rulers are much easier to use than longer bigger ones, and I only have one of her small-medium ones.  She can use a much bigger ruler on her longarm.
  • I need practice, but I like the way this is heading.  The loan of her rulers has really helped me determine what I need to buy in the future (I have to give them back…LOL).

I have a vast collection of classical music, and some of it I’ve loaded onto my little Nano, which I listen to while I work.  Today I chose some appropriate and beautiful music for Good Friday.  It has so far been a blessed day, except my water heater has stopped heating water and we are waiting for the plumber rather than going to church.  They said he may come as late as midnight!  So be it.  It is still Good Friday and a blessed day.

Sew happy everyone.  Try some new technique for your creativity this week to celebrate Easter and spring.  Cheers!

Canterbury Knight…At the quilting stage finally

I finally got to the quilting stage on my Canterbury Knight, and am having a lot of fun on it.  I just haven’t yet decided how I am going to quilt the grassy parts.  The castle is done and looks like a castle, instead of a white silhouette of a Disney castle. 🙂  LOL  Here it is about half-way through the quilting of the little castle.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this small part of my quilt.

Using my Bernina BSR with Superior 100 wt silk on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin.

Using my Bernina BSR with Superior 100 wt silk on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin.

 

I quilted the roofs of the castle in dark gray, and then I inked in the windows and the roofs with medium gray.  It looks pretty good, but it made the roofs too close in value to the sky fabric.  I don’t know if I will do anything about that.  Not sure what I can do.  I like it a lot as it is, but I think the judges will think there is not enough contrast.  The towers are all still white, though, so that may be sufficient.

For those of you with Berninas and BSRs, you may be interested in my settings (sewing slowly):

For the castle:  100 wt. silk thread, 70 titanium top stitch needle, 2.75 top tension, Bottom Line 60 wt poly in the bobbin threaded for embroidery, 2.0 stitch length.  I then changed to 40 wt (set like sky settings below) gray and re-outlined the towers, and did roof tiles like tiny clam sells.  After that was done, I did the inking.

For the sky:  40 wt. polyester Superior Rainbow, 90 titanium top stitch needle, 2.5 top tension, Bottom Line 60 wt. poly in the bobbin threaded for embroidery, 2.10 stitch length.  I did the wind roses from this practice piece:

Practice for the sky and water

Practice for the sky and water

I still haven’t decided what to do with the grassy parts, and since the marks on the black border are really disappearing, I think I will move on to that next.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to cook or sew…your grandson, your son, your husband, your father.  Share the fun.

Canterbury Knight: Inking fusible appliques

Some of the border items on my Canterbury Knight quilt need to be created off quilt and appliqued on, as opposed to painting directly onto the border.   Sew I had an idea to just take the item, cut it out of the full sized print version (digitally, using Corel Draw), and reverse it, and print it onto some fusible web with the protective paper still on it.  Originally, I was going to just iron it onto some appropriately colored pieces of cotton/silk Radiance and applique them on.  But when I got the printout (in color), I decided to put the web onto prepared-for-dye radiance and see if I could ink in the designs.  This is how it worked:

1.  Here is my design printed onto the 8 1/2 x 11 inch fusible web piece.  It is sitting on my light box.

DSCN0075

 

2.  Sew then I ironed it onto the radiance, turned it over, and taped it all to the light box.  I also found a small piece of the black silk, that I would be appliqueing it to, in order to place it under the white PFD radiance and test how the inks looked before I inked it.

Working on the boy musician who is announcing the arrival of the knight to the castle.

Working on the boy musician who is announcing the arrival of the knight to the castle.

 

Here is another one ready to ink.

I think of this character as "the angry bird" in the border.  He's fun.

I think of this character as “the angry bird” in the border. He’s fun.

And then I begin the inking.  Note that I went over the line in a few places and some of  the edges are a little smudgy, because the inks run a little more on the Radiance than they do on cotton.  It’s ok, the edges will be cut smoothly or outlined with quilting.  Pressing with a hot dry iron will stop the run.

Inking

Inking

Here are the small birds I placed around the text box.  These were the first ones I did this way.

My painted birds ready to applique

My painted birds ready to applique, their feet will be added after appliqueing.

And here you see the completely inked boy.  I cut him carefully out.  The bright colors get slightly muted when appliqued onto the black fabric.

DSCN0085

 

I used Pitt’s Artist Markers.  These markers are India inks, acid free, and appear to be permanent on cotton after heat setting.  i am not planning to wash this quilt at all, so I have not tested the colorfastness through the washing process for the silk/cotton.  I had noticed a note on Dick Blick’s where I order my markers from that they are not recommended for fabrics.  This concerned me, since I have been using them for years on my fabric arts.  So I wrote to Faber Castell and asked them why.  This was their response the very next day:

“Dear Ms. Tatum:

Thank you for your interest in Faber-Castell and the Art & Graphic Brand.

PITT Artist pens are not intended to be used on fabrics that are laundered because it will not remain on all fabrics when washed.  Therefore, testing is always recommended, depending on different variables some things work, some don’t.   Could you tell me how you are heat setting them, as this helps them endure a washing?

Please let me know if I can assist any further as I will surely do my best to help.”

 

I will say that I usually use prepared for dye fabrics for inking, but not always.  I always heat set the inking with steam.  If it is silk, I turn it over onto a piece of fine cotton and heat set from the back.  I have washed several of my cotton quilts with Pitt Artist Markers several times, and some of them have been around nine years now with no fading or running.  If you plan to use this product, do your own tests please.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to quilt or sew…your grand kids, your grown kids, your young kids, your cat, your dog…Cheers!

 

 

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.

Canterbury Knight: Ready to Start Making the Quilt

I’m pretty happy with my overall design for this quilt now.  Canterbury Silk is 36 x 44.  This quilt ended up a little longer…still 36 wide, but 50 long.  It was just the proportions needed for the design were a bit longer.  Anyway, I turned the design into a black and white and got it printed on 11 x 17 inch sheets ready to tape together.  I use Corel Draw for this.  If you have the Bernina Software, that has a Corel Draw part of it that will do the same thing for you.  Or if you don’t have either, your spreadsheet software will probably work.  I know that Microsoft Excel works.  You open a new document and place an image in the software and size it to the size you want.  All these programs will automatically break up your document into tiles for printing on the paper size you specify.  It’s a wonderful way to get a full sized pattern.  Here is how it looks on the screen all ready to print in Corel:

Printsnap

 

Now that I have the completed design properly sized, I can measure the central block and all the pieces I need to work with further.  I still need to paint the horse and face of the knight and print them on fabric.  I may do that for the birds, too.  Not sure.  Anyway, I can start to actually make this quilt now.  I love it when I get to this point.

Oh, you may want to see the finished design in color.  I took the horns off the little musician fellow.  That makes him more of a musician announcing the arrival of the knight and not such a jester.

Canterbury-Knight-final-design

 

Sew Happy Holidays everyone!

Canterbury Knight: Reworked Border Design

Reworked border design

Reworked border design

I decided the other border did not fit the series theme, so I spent much of the day reworking the border design, and here is my latest result.  This border was inspired by a Medieval border design found in Dover Pictura Art of Illuminated Manuscript, but I substantially changed and reworked it.  This border is much more in keeping with its sister quilt “Canterbury Silk”.

So I think this design is almost complete.  I was thinking about how to approach the horse and knight and the background castle, and decided it will have to be done in a number of steps. First of all, I will digitally paint the horse all by himself, without any of his armor or tackle, and without his mane and tail.  Then print it on fabric.  The mane and tail will be threadwork, and the tackle will be fabric applique or machine embroidery or both.  The knight will be approached in much the same way, with a digital painting of his face and hair, and the armor and tunic will be fabric appliques and machine embroidery for the details.  I am thinking of just a simple applique with detailed machine stitching of the castle in the background.  This approach will put more emphasis on the knight.

I’m still trying to decide if I really want the court musician or jester or whatever he is in the border with the trumpet, or if I want to replace him with more leaves and a bird.  In any event the whole border will be quilted and then painted, like I did on Canterbury Silk.

What do you think?

Sew Happy everyone…Merry Christmas!

Printing on Silk/Cotton Test Results

In preparation for some of my planned quilts using silk/cotton blend Radiance by Kaufman fabrics, I decided to try some printing on the fabric to see how it came out. I chose a picture from Dover Pictura Fantasy collection because it is rich with colors that could fade or bleed. Here is the picture as it appears on the screen:

Test:  Screen shot

Test: Screen shot

I ironed two layers of freezer paper onto the back of prepared for dye white radiance and using a rotary cutter and ruler, I cut the edges carefully to fit a letter size 8.5 x 11 inch sheet. I set up my printer as described in The Quilt Show episode 702 and taking into consideration some information that Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero provided on TQS–increasing the saturation, contrast, and darkening the picture a bit. Then I printed it in my Epson Workforce printer. Here is how it looked after printing and removal of the freezer paper:

After printing and before rinsing

After printing and before rinsing

Then I heat set it, rinsed it in cold water. squeezed it out, and ironed it dry (thereby adding to the heat setting). Since silk is easy to over-press and damage the look of the sheen, I pressed it from the back placing the right side on a fine piece of cotton on the ironing board. Here is how it looked after all of that:

post rinse and heat set

My eye cannot see a difference. My camera shows a very slight difference, but my camera skills may be responsible for some color differences, so take that into consideration. I believe this is a successful print test. I have not washed it with soap or hot water, but rinsing in cold is sufficient for my purposes, because that allows me to soak off glues and markings and properly block my quilts I might use this method for. More wash testing should be done before using it in a quilt that will be washed repeatedly.

I think it is necessary to use “prepared for dye” fabric, and back it stiffly and all over with freezer paper and set the ink intensity up to make this a success. Also be prepared for slight lightening of your printout on the first rinse. I did repeat rinse and had no additional lightening that I could see.

Sew happy everyone! Hope you find this of some use.

“Hand Sewing” by Machine

It is my belief that almost every look that hand sewing provides can be duplicated in a reasonable facsimile by machine. No, I haven’t lost my mind. At least, I don’t think I have. 🙂

I hope those of you who are hand quilters and embroiderers are not offended. I truly greatly admire the beauty of beautiful handwork. But I have some arthritis in my hands and in dealing with that I have developed a fascination for making my machine provide equally as beautiful stitching and in some cases take it far enough to make the viewer wonder if–or even be convinced that–they are viewing hand sewing.

I also love some of the looks that only a machine can make, but this is not what I’m talking about in this post.

I just think it is fun and challenging to see what I can do with the concept of “hand sewing” by machine. Recently I have been working on the design of a quilt that uses Sashiko for the background and in the foreground is an appliqued Japanese flower arrangement. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to do all the Sashiko by machine.

Now I have some in the hoop Sashiko designs that are lovely, and I will probably use some of these in this quilt. I have done some stitch-outs of these and they look best with 40 wt embroidery thread such as Superior’s Magnifico or Isacord embroidery threads.

But I want to try some bobbin work using the heavier weight perle cottons that hand Sashiko stitchers would use in order to see if I can make it look even more like the hand work. I will let you know if this works and present some photographs of some of my experiments with this…perhaps in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I am also trying out some turned edge machine stitched appliques using 100 wt matching silks and monopoly and various stitches to see which looks the most like needle turned-edge applique by hand. Lots of other sewists have done work on this and some are really good at it. I just want to play around with it and see if I can get it really good.

My machine also has cross stitch on it and I haven’t played around with it very much yet, but I think I will try that also. In addition, I have learned to do some digitizing with my in-the-hoop embroidery using Bernina v6 software that looks very close to hand stitching. I just bought v7 upgrade as a Christmas present to myself and am waiting for it to come in.

I think this is really fun. I hope to share a lot of the results and ways to accomplish them with you in a couple of books I am already working on and plan to complete in 2015 and some bits here on my blog.

Sew happy everyone. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas all!

Beginning the Second Canterbury Quilt

Here we go!  I am beginning the design work on a new quilt in my Canterbury series.  This one will center around the knight from the Knight’s Tale.   It will have a pictorial central section about the same size as on Canterbury Silk and a border inspired by, or even downright copied from, an 11th–12th Century illuminate manuscript.

I have multiple considerations as I work on this central design.

  1. Can I accomplish what I design?
  2. Does it match the overall theme of the series?
  3. Since I am working in a theme from centuries ago, how can I make it appeal to today’s quilt audience?
  4. How should I colorize this central part?
  5. Should the knight look something like the knight from “Equipped to Stand” (shown below) that I made in 2012 or like the ancient illustration (shown at the top of this blog, an illustration from The Ellesmere Manuscript, one of the oldest surviving illuminated Canterbury Tales.).  I really don’t like the way the knight’s head looks on the ancient illustration but I can fix that I think.  I really like the Equipped to Stand knight, but he may be too modern, and I would change his and his horse’s dress, or maybe have his head facing front.  🙂
  6. What should the background look like for him?  It needs more than just the knight for balance.
  7. Should the central theme be silk or can that be cotton and the border made from cotton/silk Kaufman Radiance, like I did for Canterbury Silk?
knight detail from "Equipped to Stand"

knight detail from “Equipped to Stand”

I really hope to make this a beautiful and exciting quilt that also goes well with Canterbury Silk.  I plan on making a total of three Canterbury quilts that more or less match in size and character.

Canterbury Silk a MQX with Best Surface Design ribbon

Canterbury Silk a MQX with Best Surface Design ribbon

Sew send some good wishes my way as I work through this design and subsequent making of the quilt.  I plan on sharing this quilt journey with you and will discuss my techniques along the way.  I hope to post a blog on this at least once a week, and occassionally more often.

Sew happy everyone!