Spring Fun Quilting Time Ahead

It’s such a beautiful early spring here in Ashburn, Virginia.  I have my studio on the top floor of my townhome and it includes two rooms plus a small section of my bedroom.  Both rooms face the back where there is a wooded area.  It’s lovely to have the windows.   I have been working with my foot doctor for about six months now on a foot problem I had and am finally able to take some short walks on these lovely days just as spring pops out.

I got a new small Sony ZV-1 camera designed especially for vloggers for my birthday.  It takes both videos with a fairly good microphone and snap shots. I used it for some of my last YouTube video I published about a week ago and it’s easy to use.

Sony ZV-1

So I am thinking of taking it out with me when I go walking and, now that I have had my vaccine, to explore a fabric store not far from here that has expanded and even taken on Berninas as a dealership.  We have a larger Joanne’s going in nearby too.  These are great developments for me.  For some time now, all the fabric stores were miles from here over very heavily trafficked roads. I love my dealership in Rockville, Maryland, but it is about 45 minutes to an hour plus from here over very difficult roads. Anyway, I am going to investigate the near one, though I intend to keep my dealership at the Rockville store for most Bernina things.  My friend Anita, however, who has a vintage 1230 is looking for one closer by.

So this past week I have been doing some design plans for new projects and having fun in my studio thinking about landscape quilts and my history of experimental quilting while planning new videos. I have some exciting ideas for my next steps.

Sew happy everyone!  I hope you can enjoy a beautiful spring in your area (or fall if you are down under) as it develops. Have fun in your studio!

 

Embellished Wool Applique with Video 2

Hi!  I have completed the second video in my 3 part series on Embellished Wool Applique by Machine and it can be found on my YouTube Channel here.  This part demonstrates the decorative stitch embellishment that is inspired by hand embroidery on the folk art applique pieces and how to make it work the best.

I prepared this second pdf handout to use with this part 2 video for you to download and print out.

Wool Video Handout Part 2

If you haven’t yet downloaded the pattern and part 1 video please go to my blog post here about video 1.  There you will find the handouts and the blog itself provides a supply list with links to the products.

So please enjoy this second part video and subscribe to my YouTube if you haven’t yet.  It will help me if you do and if you don’t know it is basically the same as “follow” on other sites. I hope you have fun just watching, but it would be really fun if you decided to make a little piece of your own or save this set of blogs, handouts, and videos for a future project.

I would really love to have your comments.  This is the first of some exciting planned video studies with accompanying handouts.  In the future, I will sell most of my handouts and potential patterns for a small amount from my new website’s store, but the videos will remain free.

I also have every hope of getting better and more relaxed in front of the camera as I present my techniques and projects.  It’s decidedly a new set of skills for me.

Also, if you have a question about something related to the project, please put it either in the comments on this blog or on my YouTube video comments section (you have to be logged in to Google/YouTube to be able to do that).  I will endeavor to answer them.

Thanks to everyone who has been so encouraging for me on this new adventure.

Sending virtual hugs and smiles your way.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio.

Fabric Art Adventures for the New Year

Here we all are in a fresh New Year!  I hope you had a lovely holiday.  Mine was delightful, lots of family, and full of a lot of planning and thinking about where I want to go from here in my fabric arts, especially while the professional quilting organizations sort out the full impact of the pandemic.  I have a lot of fun planned for the new year that I hope you will find interesting, encouraging, and even join me in some of them.

The new year arrives at an interesting point in my fabric arts.  I have finished my ongoing show quilt (Out of Mom’s Workbasket), and haven’t started a new one. I am close to the end of producing my first three-video series for my refurbished YouTube channel.

Forks in the road

I have put together a plan for the year that includes small fabric art pieces using multiple interesting techniques.  And I am working on some technique workbooks and patterns to sell on my newly updated website.  The show quilt world may take years before it is fully back, and it may be different when it rebuilds, so I am going to focus mostly on small pieces of fabric art for a while to share in videos, books, workbooks, and patterns and possibly for sale.  So here are the main topics for my 2021 focus:

  1. Working with wool (machine applique and embroidery primarily).
  2. Machine embroidery (free motion and in the hoop)
  3. Working with decorative threads, yarns and ribbons
  4. Small landscapes, space scapes, fantasy scapes
  5. Ancient illuminated manuscripts
  6. Heirloom sewing by machine for quilts
  7. Working with fun preprinted panels for fun and presents
  8. Whole cloth pieces (quilting techniques and pictographs)

Sew you can see my creative interests remain the same, it is just how I am hoping to share them that is a little different.   By keeping the pieces small I may actually be able to cover all of the concepts I have for now and you may decide to do similar pieces of your own too.  Smaller pieces are also more saleable I’m told.

Practice painting I did in Corel Painter

Sew happy everyone!  Learn some new skills, refresh some old ones, teach someone to sew or quilt, make some fun projects, and love your studios in this fresh new year.  Have fun in your studio (even if it is the top of your kitchen table)!

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I am wishing all my readers the happiest of holidays.  May it be warm and full of love and peace.  I will be picking up my blog in January with my 2021 focus which will have the primary goal of sharing the joy and adventure of creating fabric art, and I will be providing a range of video classes and video tidbits throughout the year.   Thank you for reading my blog.  I am looking for a subscribe app that I can put on the blog as a button and be safe and secure for us.  Blessings on you all.

Cosy Sewing Season

I don’t know about you, but I always feel when we cross into November that we have started a new sewing and quilting year.  There is a kind of feeling that it’s time to buckle down and get to sewing and enjoy fall and winter celebrations. This year in particular I feel I need some cozy stitching projects.

I think it is my favorite part of the year from now through the new year.  Then we get to the flowers of spring.  All of this can be used in decisions for  sewing and quilting project as a kind of badly needed peaceful comforting after such a difficult period.   This cozy season can be celebrated even as we continue to deal with the pandemic because we have the distinct advantage as people who sew and quilt of the 21st century of online classes, YouTube videos, and virtual quilt shows. Luckily for this time many of us have a large stash of both fabric and thread (and fabric paints, markers, and crayons). Then I am blessed with a marvelous setup in my studio with my sewing machines, plus I am “retired”  to add to the anticipated fun of this season so I can spend hours a week sewing, quilting, and videoing my progress. Thank the Lord!

Sew what are you doing or planning to do during this sewing and quilting time?

What are your favorite fabrics to work with.  For me, it is difficult to say.  Today’s good quality fabrics all have wonderful properties and if we are fabric artists we can use them all in interesting ways.

Right now I am in a kind of wool period, but make no mistake I am also thinking about and planning on projects that will use silk, cotton, faux leather, and yes, even polyester.

Wool has a depth of character, hides mistakes well, and shapes with steam.  If it is felted wool or felted wool blends it does not even require edge finishing to prevent raveling.  And all in all it provides comfort and warmth if we want to make it into jackets, coats, or other fun items. 

Cotton is so versatile in so many ways.  But mostly I think of two things when I think of cotton…quilts and shirts.  Even if working a quilt top primarily with wool I often pair it with cotton on the back to provide stability and lower the cost of the project, although cotton is almost as high as wool these days.  Cotton is my go to fabric for making shirts and blouses.  I love cotton and always will.

Canterbury Silk.

And then there is the queen of fabrics that is silk.  Anywhere from rustic raw weaves to magnificent silk dupionis, satins, and brocades. I have a fair bit in my stash and I think I must use it over the next year.  I count silk/cotton blend Radiance as part of my silk stash. It’s so beautiful and I keep it carefully for mostly quilted wall art, but I will make a special blouse from it or line a wool jacket with light weight silk.  Wonderful stuff (as in the proper use of the word “stuff”)

Rayon is something I like the qualities of for clothing, but don’t use it very much.  It has a lot of drape and beauty.  I have a piece or two in my stash and will likely use it for clothing.  But be certain I will wash/shrink it first.  It shrinks dramatically. I once made a beautiful blouse and skirt set and failed to prewash.  I loved it and it shrunk several sizes when I washed it.  That was early in my sewing life.

And gasp!  I love polyesters, especially crepe back satins and polyester dupionis.  The addition of a little polyester in blends can lower the price and add washability and other good qualities to fabrics making them great for nearly everything.  I just made a quilt entirely from polyester, except I backed and bound it with cotton.  Out of Mom’s Workbasket, my most recent quilt. Polyester is made from a natural product…oil…and though it is sometimes called “plastic”, which I suppose it technically is, that is normally intended as an insult and displays a bit of ignorance of the wonderful qualities of polyester fabrics and threads. They seldom bleed their colors, they come in fabulous rich colors, weaves, and colors, they don’t shrink (both a positive and a negative depending).  To add to that they are easy on the budget.  In short they deserve more respect in the sewing and quilting world.

Test sampler I made from polhyester before starting my Mom’s memory quilt.

Oh, don’t forget leathers, and faux leathers and suedes.  I made my youngest son a beautiful faux leather waterproof coat last winter.  He hasn’t worn it much because I didn’t finish it until kind of late in the season. I have seen leather quilts.  I have not seen faux leather and faux suede used in quilts.  I might change that one. I have a beautiful piece of faux suede to make myself a nice jacket.  We’ll see if I can fit it in.

The coat.

So I suggest and plan on myself hunkering down and getting cozy with the sewing machines to use up some of my big stash. It’s a good plan, don’t you think?

Sew happy everyone! Evaluate your stash and plan your sewing season if you haven’t started already.

 

Simple Shapes for My Wool Project

Sew earlier this week I got everything ready to make my first video and then discovered I was missing a cord to connect the little monitor I need to my Sony Handicam camera.  Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t think identifying cords needed in the computer world is the easiest thing to do,  Thank GOODNESS I have my own family geek squad.  Hahaha.  My son David helped me to identify what I needed and looked through our huge collection of cords, but we didn’t have the right one.  So I ordered it and it is supposed to come today. If it comes, I hope then to get my first video on YouTube sometime next week.  I don’t know how long this whole video making and editing will take me, but my tentative plan is to put one up a week at first.

Sew I got all ready to make the first item for my book/video wool project.  It is called “Simple Shapes” and it is a small wall hanging, and I really invite you to join me in making one yourself.  I will be providing all kinds of help here and even videos demonstrating it.

For several years now I have had an Accuquilt Go! cutter, and have, over the years, collected a fair number of their dies.  I find the dies are wonderful for this particular kind of project, and also I cut all my bindings and borders on it.  It’s much more accurate than I am…LOL.

I also use it to cut my 8 inch blocks I use for cuddle quilts.  I used it when I work with my grandson, who made a couple of simple quilts with my help several years ago, and he was able to cut his own quilt pieces safely.  It’s just a very helpful tool in my studio.  Yesterday it took me only about half an hour to cut out all the pieces I need for this, and most of that time was because I am backing them with Steam-a-Seam  fusible before I cut them, and I had to get that ironed on.  This makes the wool feed through the cutter so nicely and hold the pieces nicely in place.  I have other methods to do this too, but this one is my favorite.

However, if you don’t have a cutting machine and don’t want to buy one right now but want to follow along with me and try your own hand at wool applique by machine, I have made a pdf pattern with simple shapes that you can download and use.  You can find the pdf file on my Aids and Links page on this blog (see the links at the top of this blog).  I know you could draw your own, but why bother, since I have them all put together in the free pattern. They are not necessarily the same as those on my dies, but close enough.

Sew I cut out a bunch of shapes from fun several colors of the wool felt I talked about in my last blog.  As I promised, I also looked around and found you can get satisfactory quality sets from Amazon if you want to make one of these wall hangings yourself.  I would love to see you join me in this fun project. I recommend you get four sets and you will have enough for several projects. Just click on the links below.

I also found a melton wool blend in black that would make a nice background, or you can use a nice solid color quilting cotton for the background. If you get a single yard the wool, it is large enough to make two or even three small wool projects, because these are small little jewels of projects and the yard is 58 inches wide. These would make nice Christmas or other celebration presents.

Sew now that I have all these simple shapes cut out  I will arrange them in a flower arrangement of some sort.  Follow this blog in the future to see what to do.  Note that I also cut some stems and vines about 1/4 inches wide and some leasves shaped from the felt that are not on my pdf but I did use the stems and leaves die on the Accuquilt site also.

I will talk more about what to do with all these shapes in future blogs, but you might guess if you look again at my last blog where I show a lot of the test piece I did.  I will be demonstrating this on my video, assuming I am successful in getting that done.  LOL  I will be linking to my video in my next blog probably.

Test and practice piece

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt or at least encourage sewists and other fabric wizards you know.  Even the most advanced folks need encouragement.  Sending you all hugs!

Preparing to Make Videos in a Tangle of Cables and Technology

Sew I have spent the whole last week working toward getting set up for VLOG’s that I plan to periodically publish on YouTube. I thought in the beginning I would be able to do the setup in a couple of days at most, but there were so many things my test videos revealed that needed attention…placement of the cameras, sound quality of the recordings, doing the demonstration of the sewing around the cameras, poor skill of the presenter (me).  I have finally managed to get a setup of two of my three cameras at my Bernina 880 plus and an additional setup at my Q20 so that you can see me fairly well, and it doesn’t emphasize my age too very much like my first try did.  I got the front camera placed so you can see the stitching going on relatively well and it doesn’t get so much in my way so I can’t really work.  For instance, it doesn’t get in the way of threading my machine like one of my tries did.  I think that front camera will also be a little adjustable so if you need to see the screen and buttons on the machine that will be possible. The third camera will be placed on an overhead gadget my son Ken put together for me.  That has to be installed first though.

Through a little YouTube research on the camera gear, I finally figured out I was missing a small piece of equipment that is designed to improve the sound quality between the camera and the microphone.  I ordered that from Amazon and it will presumably arrive early next week.

Besides getting the equipment set up, I realized I need to do considerable practice for my videos to flow nicely and be enjoyable.  I am not a natural presenter, so I have to work at that a bit. I am also working on getting my video editing with multiple cameras up to par. So I am guessing it will be another couple of weeks before I start publishing videos on YouTube, but I am thinking I have made a lot of progress so far.

In the meantime, I am working on my book and downloadable handouts to accompany some of these videos.  I kind of wish, in a way, that I could just drop all of this and go make a fun piece of fabric art.  But I think once I get it all set up I CAN go make a fun piece of fabric art and include my quilty friends that are interested in the process with my videos.

I am still very excited about my wool applique by machine overall project that inspired all of this in the first place.  I so far have five skill-building pieces outlined and some are completely written in my book manuscript.  I need to make the samples for that.   After that, I am planning on additional books encapslating some of my somewhat unique techniques that draw heavily on machine work.  So this is just the necessary not-so-fun part right now and I’ll get over that hump shortly.

I really admire those of my friends who so successfully create their teaching videos with seeming speed and grace.  My process is much more bumpy and slow.  LOL

Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studios this week.  I love watching a lot of my quilty friends videos.  They help keep me cheerful.  Cheers.

Thinking of Wool for Quilted Art

Fabric is amazing.  As many of my gentle readers know who have been following my blog for these past few years, I love experimenting with fabrics of all types.  Right now, I am working on a rather large multi-faceted wool project having to do with applique and embellishment of wool that will hopefully result in a book (or two), a handful of small sized projects, a series of videos, and a show quilt.

I have always loved working with wool because it has incredible properties, but I have not until recently experimented with wool as a medium for fabric art.  Wool can be everything from sheer to amazingly heavy.  It can be woven in such a way as to capture the light in its folds or absorb the light so deeply it’s like night.  Black b0iled wool in the background, for instance, sets off bright colors in applique in an amazing way.

Just a test

Wool can be kind of expensive to work with, but the pieces I am developing for BJ’s Great Wool Project are small in size making it possible to use precuts or grab pieces from worn clothing for some of them and just purchase a yard or so for the background.

I am having one of those times when I start with a new idea and it suddenly explodes in my mind of what actually can be done to create fabric art that take it well beyond my original concept.  Oh my!  I’m having to keep a running set of side notes as I write my book so as not to lose these interesting ideas.  I think there is much to be done with this amazing fabric.

Just so you know, I am starting with folk art style projects in my wool applique by machine book that look quite traditional.  THis is a great way to learn the techniques needed for working with wool.  The more I have tried to come up with a nice set of projects for the book that are fun to do while teaching the techniques I want to teach, the more ideas fill my head.  The more I work with the fabric, and write about it, the more I think I have not really explored what can be done with this amazing fabric when used for an art medium.  These ideas are expanding from the folk art traditional look to quite a few “what ifs” that will be fun to explore after I finish the current book.

Some questions still  need to be answered for the book itself. How should I quilt the resulting pieces, or do they even need to be quilted? What will work best for quilting this fabric where thread tends to visibly sink into the fabric and disappear or take a back seat?  What if I use a more textured wool than traditional solid felted wool?  What if I join the heavier felted style wool with a selection of fabric textures and weaves in a single color in a single project?  How would I counter the different behaviors of the fabrics if I do that so the wall quilt, for instance, is flat and square?  Does it even need to be flat and square? How large should these projects be?  What kinds of embellishments need to be added in the way of threads, ribbons, yarns, cords, lace, embroidery, beads, buttons, and so forth? Can these all be added by machine? How should the quilting play within the designs? How can I make a fabulous artistic scene using the textures and the colors and the embellishments? Oh my!  So much to think about here. So exciting. So interesting.  So much to do….I must get busy,  LOL

I am trying to capture these what-ifs on paper  before my mind loses the train of thought so I can go back when I have the time and play with some of those what ifs.  Besides all of this, I still have a list of other quilts.  I think I need a clone or to live a couple of hundred years…hahahaha.

Sew happy everyone!  Capture those ideas as they run by and try them sometime.  Fabric is amazing,

 

The Importance of Feet

Hi all y’all.  I bet you think this is all about sewing machine feet, and yes, I have something to say about them, but I have been dealing with a sore foot for a couple of weeks.  I normally don’t talk about health things on my blog, but this seems ok to tell you about.  I had a blister on the bottom edge of my foot and it infected and I went to my doctor. This is the second time this year this has happened, the first being when I went to Road to California in January.  Please, you must go to the doctor if you have this happen to you…these things can get bad, really bad, very fast I was told.

This was brought on by a push to lose weight and get in shape.  So I have been on antibiotics and told to stay off my foot until it gets all better for a little over a week now. It is getting all better fairly rapidly.  That’s a relief, but one of the things I have figured out from all of this is that the fabric arts really do normally require a fair amount of standing and walking around!  LOL   I think if this were to go on much longer I would eventually work out how to do everything I need to in a sit down manner, but I figure it won’t be long now and I want to do more on my feet.

I used the time so far in sewing up what was already cut out using my left foot (a challenge to learn to do), doing some computer work I had kind of put off, and organizing what can be done from my three work chairs, limping from one chair to another around my studio in as logical a way as possible.  I get to see the foot doctor on the 13th again so maybe I will get the blessing to do more standing and walking then. I was told I have a “big bony bunion” and probably need to “pay more attention to my shoes” (I’m thinking ugly and expensive shoes, but we’ll see, and no I’m  not interested in surgery at this time).  Anyway, that’s enough of that but I thought you may have wondered where I was lately.

But it kind of reminds me how important it is to use the right foot on your sewing machine. The correct foot can sometimes nearly magically make a huge difference in what you can accomplish, how ell you can do it, and how easy it is to accomplish.  I must say that I have a Bernina foot fetish.  I have a large collection of feet for my Berninas and I love them.  Every now and then I just make something just because it has the opportunity to use some of the fancy feet to do some fun embellishments.  I particularly like to make vests, bags, and mug rugs for this kind of playtime.  But it requires cutting out these items.  I can cut out the mug rugs, but the bags and vests are best to stand to cut them out.

5″ x 5″ fabric greeting card or mug rug

I am planning on making several quilts this year that have extensive thread embellishment just because I think it will be a lot of fun, and coincidentally, use some of those really neat feet I have for my Berninas.

I have been working on another blog all about stabilizers and interfacings, but for some reason it is taking me a lot of time, since I am trying to find links and proper descriptions other than “that lightweight stuff I use to back that fabric”…LOL I hope to finish it for my next blog.

Sew happy everyone!  Go make a fun project that lets you play with your machine’s feet and attachments.  Cheers!

Finishing Up the Quilt: Beads, Butterflies, Rod Pocket, and Labels

These are the five 10 inch squares of crocheted lace that I found in Mom’s workbasket. They inspired the quilt.

Oh goody!  I have finally finished the construction of my Mom’s memory quilt.  I still have to add the beads, labels, the rod pocket, and a small set of pretty crocheted butterflies Mom made that I plan to add to the back.  I have a few spots where the paint soaked through to the back when I had my brush too wet.  There is no removing it, and I originally thought I would cover it with an additional label that gave a little bio and pictures of Mom.  But then I remembered the colorful crocheted butterflies.  They are just right to add a lot of fun to the back and will completely cover the paint spots.  I know there are some out there who think it is “cheating” to cover problems on the back of a quilt, but I believe that if you address the problem in some creative way it is just another part of making the quilt right. Besides, they are cute and I should add them regardless.  That way, the bio/picture label can still go on, but on the lower left side of the quilt oposite the info label on the lower right side of the quilt.  I will look around and see if there are more of the butterflies to sweep across the back of the quilt, but even if not, it will be a fun solution.

I was going to sew on the beads today…the hand sewing part.  There is also a machine sewing part and a hot fix part.  I have to test the hot fix first.  Chores and disintangling some bead strings took up most of the day and now it is really getting warm in my studio.  I may still get to some bead work, but it is Saturday.  I usually go a little easier on Saturday…a habit I picked up from all my years of my demanding job for the government…do a little more rest and recreation on your days off!  Same now…I still consider this a light or no work day and Sundays the same.

In any event, I think this quilt will be completed this coming week.  Hooray!  Then I have a long list of exciting future projects.  I have spent more than a year on this quilt.  During this time I had my main sewing machine die and I bought a new Bernina 880 plus and spent a while getting to know it.  I love it.  It works magnificently.  I usually make three to four show quilts in a year, but last year there were none, and this is the first one this year.  I will be making smaller quilts for the rest of this show quilt making season.  They will be art quilts and I will hope to sell them.  Selling smaller quilts is a little easier, because people are more likely to have the space on their wall for them.  They aren’t necessarily cheaper, but it depends on the techniques I have to deplow.  But I am also using them for book samples.  That way I will hope to get double duty out of the coming quilts,  and I will not be selling Mom’s memory quilt.  It’s just the right size to fold in half and place on the foot of my bed, or even unfold and use as a topper.  I don’t have a space big enough for hanging it, and even so it is considered a “small wall quilt”.  I guess I just am not cutout to make bed sized quilts.  They aren’t my thing.  Besides, I truly love making pictorial art quilts.

I really have no idea how to categorize this quilt.  It is truly not a traditional quilt, and it is not an art quilt exactly. In any event, I hope my Mom can see it from heaven and likes it.  It’s a tribute to my magnificent talented Mom, Zephana Compton Bivens.

Sew happy everyone!  Stay safe, well, and happy in spite of all the chaos swirling around us.  Take some time off just to goof off, read, take a walk, or sit outside. Cheers.