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!

Progress on Canterbury knight design?

I’ve been working all week on the design for my new Canterbury Knight quilt that is the companion quilt to Canterbury Silk. It may be questionable whether I really made progress yet or not.  🙂

I thought that getting the knight and horse right would be the toughest part, that is until I started trying to get the border right. LOL. I am still thinking about it…is this the right border? Should I redraw the knight and his horse? I researched and found that a lot of Medieval illuminated manuscript central pictures have fairly elaborate backgrounds, especially where knights are concerned. Almost all of them I could find on the Internet and in my reference books appear to have a castle, so I put in a castle. They also often have trees and streams. I plan on adding those, but just haven’t gotten to it yet.  I found a piece of pure silk that has some wonderful colors for the background of the central part.  It will require backing with a fusible interfacing, but I think I will use it.  It kind of resembles what I put in the drawing, but is much prettier.

Anyway, here’s my design concept so far. There is much work on it yet. PLEASE DO NOT copy and paste this design elsewhere. If you want to share this whole post, that’s ok.

Design concept for Canterbury Knight

Design concept for Canterbury Knight

 

I am still unsure about the border.  I have identified several potential border designs from ancient manuscripts.  I may back the whole thing in black and use the rest of this design.  I may replace the berries with flowers in some places.  But I do want creatures…birds, and especially an owl, and animals…mixed into the border.  I am thinking I will have to draw it from scratch (another week of work).  The A is only a placeholder.  I’m hunting through my resources for the right embellished A in the verse.

Sew have I really made progress, or am I going to redraw everything…that is the question.  🙂

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!

Time for Christmas Sewing

Christmas Sewing

I realize that some of you are way ahead of me on this.  I see it on Facebook…my friends with their houses already decorated, Christmas baking is started, and Christmas sewing is finished.  I am, nevertheless, way ahead of my usual pace for December this year though.

I already have the house sort of clean and ready to decorate for Christmas, which I hope my youngest son and I will get done this weekend.  I even got my studio clean and ready for the next project.  That will be a few Christmas sewing projects I have planned.  I’m not saying what they are here, because the recipients may read this, but I am looking forward to it,

I still have not come up with the designs for my next couple of show quilts, so I’ll be working on that a little next week also.

Sew good wishes for a wonderful week to you all!  God’s blessings be upon you.

Sew happy!  Take time to learn a new technique or practice to polish an old one.  Christmas presents are a good place to do that with.  🙂  Teach someone to sew…your brother, your sister, your impossible relative, your cat, your dog….Merry Christmas!

On Designing New Show Quilts for 2015

073

I have been struggling with design plans for my next couple of show quilts for 2015.  I have plenty of ideas, but not enough focus.  So I am spending a fair amount of time looking through some design sources…Dover Publications royalty free drawings in their books, my own and my family’s photographs, NASA’s deep space copyright free photos, and drawing things myself on my software.  I want to make a new illuminated manuscript quilt, a new story landscape, an Ikebana/Sashiko quilt, and a new deep space quilt for starters.  And really, I love the design at the top that I downloaded from Dover Pictura.

I think I have my new story landscape concept.  It will be a deep dark forest with light coming through the roof of the forest.  More on that later.  I have the Ikebana Sashiko concept in mind and only need to draw up the overall quilt pattern before I can start that one.

I have multiple deep space ideas.  The choices have to have some distinct features…some of the NASA picture are beautiful, but still are mostly gaseous clouds, and they won’t work because they would look like just blobs of color on the flat quilt.  It’s already hard to get viewers and judges to know they are looking at representations of real pictures when they see deep space quilts if they aren’t familiar with the NASA pictures, and many are not.  One of the best things I heard at Houston was when I walked up to my quilt behind some viewers who were saying “This is my favorite here.  It looks like something from outer space.”  They didn’t know who I was, but clearly they got what I was trying to do with Sky Horse.  Between my kids and me, we have found six candidates.

But the quilt I want to make first, the next illuminated manuscript, is still escaping me.  There is a plethora of inspirations, and perhaps that’s the problem.  I think I will just have to take a stab at one to pin down the idea when it floats by.  LOL

In any event, I will be making a few Christmas presents over the next couple of weeks, and working on my designs.  I’ll share my next show quilt journey with you, unless I encounter an important reason not to.

Have a wonderful week.  Sew happy everyone.  Take time to practice.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

997324-176Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  God’s blessings be upon you and I hope you have a Thanksgiving full of love and hope, be you together with family or alone with your furry friends or just a nice dinner and a movie.  I am very thankful for my friends, family, and internet friends and for all God has done for me through the years.

Hugs

Working With Hot Fix Fibers (Angelina Fibers)

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

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

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

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

You need the following tools:

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

Set up ready to start

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

Really thin layer

Really thin layer

Blues change color the most

Blues change color

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

Carefully cover with pressing sheet

Carefully cover with pressing sheet

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

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

 

layer ready for horsehead

layer ready for horsehead

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horsehead layer in place

Horsehead layer in place

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

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

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

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

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

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

Sew happy everyone!

 

Thinking About 2015 Quilt Activities

studio1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sew happy everyone!