Metallic Threads on my Berninas

While in Houston, I bought some Wonderfil metallic threads.  It had some colors that were just a little bit different than those I find in Superior metallics, and a couple of my professional quilty friends have recommended it to me.  I just gave it a try and found that the tension settings are just about the same as for Superior threads for my machine.  I like the thread ok.  It has a nice sheen to it, and sews without breaking.  I still think I prefer Superior, but clearly this is a nice alternative.

Almost all the thread manufacturers recommend really lowering your upper tension when working with metallic threads.  Now this may work ok for most machines, but with my Bernina 830, I have found that the tension settings sometimes need to be even higher than for the standard 50 wt  that is the thread used for default tension settings for nearly all manufacturers.  This may be a surprise to you.

Here is a picture of the little stitch out I used to test the threads.  It has both Superior and Wonderfil metallics.

Top with mutlitple tests of tension settings look ok for all:

Right side, mutliple threads and tensions

Right side, mutliple threads and tensions all appear ok from the top

Bobbin side with 3.0 to 4.0 thread tensions…see how it pulls to the back.  The bobbin is threaded for normal tension.  Apologies for the slightly fuzzy, picture, but you can still see how bad the tension is.

Obvious poor tension

Obvious poor tension–bobbin side

 

It wasn’t until I went to 4.25 top tension that it began to look ok, but probably could go to 4.5 to make it work well enough.  I have used thread tensions as high as 4.75 on some metallics, especially when using them in the embroidery hoop.

 

Bobbin side at 4.25 top tension...see it still needs to be a little tighter on top

Bobbin side at 4.25 top tension (very close in picture)…see it still needs to be a little tighter on top

Sew what is the secret to sew with this high tension and not break the thread every few minutes?  Well, for me, besides using one of the better threads, I use a 90 embroidery/top stitch needle, a thread net, and set the speed down to middle or less, and sew a little slower than usual.  I also use the lubricant bar with the pink lubricant on my 830 LE, but if you don’t have this, I think it would work ok anyway.  I heard a rumor that Bernina discontinued this, but I have not checked it out yet.

On my Bernina 350, and my 1230, I have also found a tighter upper tension, bigger needle, thread net, and slow stitching helps to make the metallic threads work well, and if I sew relatively slowly, I have little problem with the threads breaking.

Sew happy everyone!

 

 

 

Back from my trip inspired and awed.

The haul from Houston

The haul from Houston

 

My trip was all around inspiring from the first half, which was spent at the International Quilt Festival in Houston (see the winners) to the second half of my trip, which I spent in San Diego with my brother and his family.  He took me to the San Diego Zoo’s Safari park, the main zoo, and to see my nephew and family.  What a wonderful trip!

I did not do a huge amount of purchases, because I either didn’t know where to look, or couldn’t find some of the things on my list.  But you see the photo above…I found two fantastic hand dyes and a bunch of threads (mostly metallics), and some new gloves.  I was looking for several specific fabrics, especially hand dyes for some planned quilts. These seemed just perfect.  I had several professional quilters recommend Wonderfil metallics to me, so I bought some to try.  I’ll let you know how they work for me.  I plan on ordering some prepared for dye fabrics (PFD) and a few Radiance (silk and cotton blends).  I found some Radiance, but it was already precut and wasn’t any cheaper.

But the most fun I had was in seeing the quilts and meeting friends, some of whom have been my friends for years and I have never met them.  I am embarrassed to say that I let my camera battery run down at the show and I had left the other one back at the hotel on Thursday…the day I had set aside to view the show and take pics…so I don’t have good quilt pics for you.  I am sorry. They were unbelievably magnificent, and I don’t think the pictures would have done them justice anyway.

I am fully inspired, and just as soon as I recharge my batteries (get some rest) and do a little house cleaning, I will plunge into making some show quilts for 2015, and, insofar as possible, take you along for my quilt journeys.  I actually had several of you come up to me and tell me you read my blog.  What a delight that was!  Thank you!  Sew I am now excited and inspired!

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt…yourself, your BFF, your cat…. 🙂  If your cat does make a quilt, be sure to share.  LOL

One Fabulous Quilt Show

I just got back to the hotel, and am tired, but inspired. I think you might be a little disappointed when you learn that I didn’t get many pictures. Last evening when I got to the show I discovered my camera battery was dead. I took a few with my phone, but that is slow and clumsy. But I will see what I have when I get home next week and process the pictures.  Today was shopping day, lunching with friends, and I even recorded a video with Quilt Alliance I in front of my quilt.  That was an interesting experience.

From my perspective, however, I have had a blast.  I finally met many of the friends I have had from The Quilt Show and Facebook for years.  What a treat!!!

I bought a lot of threads, some hand dyes, and quilting gloves.

But mostly I have been inspired by the quilts, the classes, and the people.

I’ll tell you more about it when I get home and to my computer.  There will be some pictures.

Sew happy everyone.

 

 

Blogging with my Kindle

Well I’m about ready to leave on my trip on Monday. Since I am hoping to be able to keep you up to date while I’m gone, I wanted to see if I could write a blog using this kindle. I see it works, but is slow. Still I can write little snippets, though they won’t have pictures probably. I plan on putting together a gallery of pictures when I get home.

I hope to see you there. But I think that many of my friends won’t be there, so I want to share the fun as much as possible. I know what it is like to be unable to go to Houston. This is the first time I am going.

Sew stay tuned. This is working well enough to keep my blog going while I’m on my trip. After Houston, I will be going to San Diego, and that promises to be full of neat things to share too.

Sew happy everyone!

On Going to Houston As An Artist

Tatum-SkyHorse-Detail 2014

Detail from Sky Horse, which is in the show in Houston.

I leave on the 27th for The International Quilt Festival in Houston, and then on to visit my brother in California on Halloween. I am very excited and even a little apprehensive. This trip is expected to include some fun classes, starting Monday night, the awards ceremony, a party afterwards, and the lunch next day. Wed night, all day Thursday. and Friday morning I will be viewing the show, after which I set off to see my brother and his family in San Diego.

The plans in San Diego are also terrific. They include not only seeing my family that I don’t get to see often, but also taking in a museum exhibit on King Tut, going to the San Diego zoo (one of the premier zoos of the world), and a dinner at my nephew’s home. What a trip!

My apprehension is entirely related to “will my feet hold out?” and to flying again after years of not flying. If it all goes well, and I expect it will, I should have a trip of a lifetime. I’ve done everything I know how to do to prepare.  I am praying for a good and safe trip.

For some years before I retired on 1 Jan 2012, I began to take my sewing and art that my mother instructed, inspired, and encouraged me to develop and use from a very young age, and make a new career for myself to fill my “retirement” years. It is one that fills my heart with joy and I will keep doing this as long as I am able. I love exploring techniques and experimenting with types of fabric, paints, threads, digital technologies, and just about anything else that can be used to create fabric wall art. I love most of my results, some I just learn from.  Since retirement, I do this full time, though not for profit as yet, and it is an absolute delight for me.

Sew going to Houston, one of the premier quilting shows in the world, where I hope to meet many of my friends and some of the rock stars of the quilting art world, and having two of my own quilts hanging there is a big deal for me. I expect to come back inspired for my 2015 quilt year.

There are several shows I would like to go to in 2015 but I have to pick and choose, since I’m not bringing in any money with this new “career.” From the first I have planned on turning this fun occupation into a profitable business, at least to the extent that it pays for itself and allows me to keep up with good software, machines, nice materials, and new developments and go to the shows. I have some ideas on how I can accomplish that and plan to put them into action in 2015.  I will tell you more about them when I get closer to getting them launched.

After I get back on 6 November, I will post pictures from my trip. I am not dragging my computer along, and I photograph using a camera rather than a phone, except rarely. I am going to have my Kindle Fire with me, so I will be able to post on my facebook and email…not sure about writing a blog, but I’ll see. But I do plan on sharing the fun with you all as much as I can.

Sew happy everyone. Take care of yourselves, and maybe I’ll see you there!

Getting Ready for International Quilt Fest in Houston

 

It’s just a little over two weeks before I board that plane and fly off into the sky towards Houston.  Yesterday I got my flu shot, and I’ve gotten all my tickets, arranged for the shuttle transport to and from the hotel, and even arranged to do my voting with absentee ballot because I’m going to visit my brother and nephew and their family after Houston.  I’m really getting excited now.

I promised to put a pic of my brocade vest.  It is beautiful, but it does kind of make me look like a semi truck.  I’m going to wear it anyway.  Here’s a pic of it with the black blouse I also made to wear with it.

Palace Silk Brocade Vest

Palace Silk Brocade Vest

Sew I have been making some little things just to finish up and then it’s back to quilt making.  I made two tool rolls to tuck into my luggage..they are both alike, but one is open and the other snapped closed.

tool rolls

tool rolls

I hope to see many of you there.  To those who are Unable to Go to Houston (UGH), I plan on taking a lot of pictures.  I even bought some new compact flash things for my camera, have two batteries and a charger, so I should be able to take quite a few. I’ll share as many as I can.  Not sure what the rules are about that, so I may be limited to sharing the pics of friends and the vendor booths…we’ll see.

I’ll probably post one more time before I go.  I’m now making a bunch of mug rugs for my friends…some of them are made from my samples and practice pieces, so I hope they will like them anyway.

Sew happy everyone! And don’t forget to teach someone to sew or quilt…even if it is yourself!

A Ribbon at MQX Helps Focus My Style

Canterbury Silk a MQX with Best Surface Design ribbon

Canterbury Silk at MQX with Best Surface Design ribbon

Well glory be!  I won a ribbon!  🙂  Best Surface Design at MQX Midwest.

If you recall several blogposts back I was discussing how I might focus my style a little more clearly in Sky Horse, Houston, and Focus….  I got some wonderful feedback from some of you out there mostly along the lines of “do what your heart tells you”.  Now I wholeheartedly agree with this.  I also have a list of about fifty or more quilts I have thought of and almost any one of them would please my quilter’s heart to make. Indeed, I think of a new quilt almost every day, but have stopped adding to the list unless it is extremely compelling.  Sew I think some focus might be in order.

The ribbon was so unexpected. Now of course I never really expect a ribbon when I enter a show. I hope for one, but I never really expect one. I enter shows so my friends and others can see my quilts.  A ribbon is icing on the cake.  But what I mean about unexpected here is what it is for…Surface Design.

I had never really thought about my work in surface design, but now that I look at my body of work, a great deal of it is centered around surface design. I hadn’t even put that together until I won this ribbon. The main exception to this is my line drawing quilts…Perspective in Threads and Dad’s House Plan.

Now, however, I see how well this fits. I love to add unusual appliques, thread painting, embellishments, and paints to the surfaces of my quilts to make my idea in my head come alive. This term “surface design” pulls together three of my four styles I identified in my previous post…story landscapes with Deep Space quilts and Canterbury Silk. What a surprise. So my two focus choices for the next year are…Surface Design and Line Drawings.

Thanks to all of you who gave me your feedback on my previous post about this. I really appreciated them more than you may realize. I have been struggling with this for some reason.

Sew happy everyone!

I Like Machine Applique

appliques

Appliques from Canterbury Silk at the beginning of the quilting process. These are fused, stitched raw edge applique with narrow single blanket stitch.

I have noticed lately quite a few statements by sewists and quilters about how they really dislike doing, are afraid of, or simply won’t do applique.  I have a little arthritis in these aging hands and find machine applique much more user friendly for this situation than by hand, but it is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt.  I use several applique methods and use each for different purposes.  I decided to share a few of my favorite applique points.

1.  For  very complex edge appliques I always use fused raw edge machine stitched applique.  I decide what look I want to determine if I use a satin stitch, a single blanket stitch, or a double blanket stitch.  I almost always use a really narrow stitch, but once, when I made seaweeds, I used a wider double blanket stitch and it looks really cool. 

 

Thread painted coral and seaweed with wider double blanket stitched edge.

Thread painted coral and seaweed with wider double blanket stitched edge.

For the printed appliques I digitally paint of faces and small appliques, I sometimes use a very small straight stitch with 10o wt silk very very close to the edge.  It depends on what I want to accomplish.

The Storyteller–This quilt relies heavily on appliques. Even the tree trunk, which is embroidered, was embroidered on a separate piece of fabric, cut out, and turned edge machine stitched. You just cannot see it was machine stitched down. The sun is turned edge also. All the other appliques are fused and edge stitched.

2.  For very smooth edged, larger appliques, I usually use a double layer of freezer paper template pressed to the wrong side, and do a turned edge by painting starch on the edge, turning it, and ironing just a small bit of the edge at first to make a smooth edge, and then ironing the whole turned edge down.  Once that’s all starched and heat set, I remove the freezer paper and iron it all flat.  I then stitch it down with 100 wt silk using a very narrow applique stitch.  It virtually disappears and closely approximates hand turned applique.

3.  Occasionally, I have done a reverse applique.  It’s not hard at all and has a unique look.

4.  And finally, there is the painted “applique”.  I will either paint it on the quilt and then quilt or quilt and then paint.  This is good for when you want to shade the applique or make it have a particularly unique look.  Although I use fabric paints that are washable after heat setting, I do not consider these quilts very washable.  They are blockable, but I would not wash these frequently.

Sew try some appliques on your next project. If you don’t like one method…try another. Teach someone to quilt, yourself, your son, your daughter, your BFF, your cat, your dog.

 

 

 

 

An Interview Concerning Kitsunes, Wulvers, and Golden Dragons

David A. Tatum

David A. Tatum

For more than the past six years, one of my chief concerns has been to try to help my youngest son David launch his chosen career as a novelist. You’ve no idea how much this means to me.  He’s wanted to be an author all of his life.  He made up his first story when he was about three.  His dad, my dear late husband Marvin, was a book collector and librarian, and had a collection of books on standing stones.  David made up a story about the enormous men who put the standing stones into place.  He grew up surrounded by books with parents who encouraged reading.

David, who has his degree in history, has a marvelous and interesting writing style based on sound research and filled with interesting characters. Even though he has elves, dwarves, and dragons in his first book, In Treachery Forged, they are totally fascinating with characteristics unlike those you might expect. His woman protagonist was blinded as a young girl and has learned to handle life with efficiency and forthrightness.

His delightful  second novel, The Kitsune Stratagem, does not have elves, dwarves, and dragons, but rather its female lead is a young kitsune (a human-fox shape shifting person with remarkable characteristics). It is an exciting story with palace intrigue, fascinating characters, such as wulvers and bunyips, placed in a very interesting world.

This week, he was featured in a blog interview that talks about his writing. You can find it here.   And should you want to read one of these delightful novels you can find all the links to print versions and ebooks here

He has arranged it so if you buy the print version, you can have the kindle ebook version for free.

 

 

Sky Horse, Houston, and Focus for Future Quilts

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

Sky Horse. A deep space quilt inspired by NASA photos of the Horsehead Nebula

The judges have finished judging and the notifications have gone out, and Sky Horse did not win a ribbon.  Sew I thought I would go ahead and share the finished pictures with you.  The problem has always been getting a good photo of the quilt because of the way it reflects the light.  But the one above is the best I could get after getting a special lens and all.  Here’s the detail:

Tatum-SkyHorse-Detail 2014

I have no idea how well it traveled.  I did my best in packing it to travel without developing serious folds or breaking of the Angelina Fibers applique (if you can call it that).  I have had good success in the traveling of my first deep space quilt Stellar Nursery.  It’s tougher than you might think once it gets the black veiling sewn on and the all-over quilting.

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 am very happy to have Sky Horse in Quilt Fest in Houston.  It’s a true honor just to get in that show.  Of course, I’m a little disappointed not to get a ribbon, but the quilts that go there are incredible and I also think I did not capture the Horsehead Nebula as well as I wanted to.  I may try again some day.

Over the past few months I have had several discussions with two well-known quilters who both suggested to me that I pick one or two styles and make lots of quilts in those styles reaching constantly for improvement with each new quilt. I think on the whole that they are right.  But I will confess that this is difficult for me because I love so many kinds of art style quilts. 

The first is 1.  deep space quilts as seen above and just for reference here are several from my other styles,

2.  Story landscape quilts:  They tell a story on some kind of landscape:

Waiting...

Waiting…

The Storyteller

The Storyteller

Then I have the 3.  line drawings/blue print quilts:

Tatum_DadsHousePlan-FULL

Dad’s House Plan–a memory quilt for my Dad. This quilt was juried into AQS Chattanooga and will be there this week.

Perspective in Threads - This quilt was recently juried in to Houston's Tactile Architecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

Perspective in Threads – This quilt was recently juried in to Houston’s Tactile Architecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

And then there is my newest style, which one might call 4.  Innovative.  This quilt is meant to be the first of a series of silk quilts focused on ancient illuminated manuscripts and other old European and American artwork.

Canterbury Silk.  This quilt has been juried in to MQX Midwest and will be debuted there this year.

Canterbury Silk. This quilt has been juried in to MQX Midwest and will be debuted there this year.

Sew in principle, I agree with my quilting friends…4 styles is a lot to build a reputation on, and one needs to focus on a style or two and make many of those quilts.  It’s much like the decision I had to make many years ago to reduce my multiple crafts down to focus on fabric arts. But I have not yet decided.  They are all fun.  What do you think?