Finishing Things So I Can Start New Things

I love finishing projects of all kinds.  It means I have accomplished something, but chiefly, it means I can start something new.  Currently, I am working on finishing my Hoffman Challenge 2016 small wall quilt.  It is such a happy project…full of butterflies and bunnies, and set in a whimsical forest.  I am quilting it now.    I know that you don’t HAVE to finish one project before starting another, but it’s really nice to do it that way.  I have a hard time not finishing before starting another, simply because of all the years I had to finish things for really important reasons, and way back when I had my own fashion design/tailoring business when I HAD to finish projects for my clients’ sake.

I am also getting my studio rearranged so I can put my new Bernina Q20 where it will be easily available.  To do this, I had to start with reorganizing my bedroom so I could eliminate one of my two dressers and move the Koala cabinet that I use with my Bernina 1230 and Bernina 350 into my bedroom.  I have finished preparations for that part of the reorg.  Next I will be putting the Q20 where the Koala cabinet is now.  It all starts tomorrow with a scheduled pickup of no-longer-in-use clothing and shoes (six bags so far).  Then on Tuesday the 31st, the guys come who are taking the dresser away to charity and moving the koala cabinet in place.  Then the following Monday, June 6th, I am expecting the delivery and setup of the Q20.  And finally, on Wednesday, the 8th, my dear friend and Bernina dealer Mei Ling, and the magician machine tech Lew, who fixed my 830LE, are coming to provide me with a day of training on the use and servicing of the Q20.

Wow!  I mean WOW!!!  When they have finished on Wednesday, I will be ready to begin a new phase in being a studio fabric artist.  I’ve recently learned that is what I am, because I am not an extrovert who wishes to travel all over and teach.  I am not particularly an introvert either, because I love people.  But I love my studio and my work as an artist whose medium is fabric and quilting.  I feel inspired when I’m in the studio working (and usually listening to music).

Upon completion of all of this, I will have available for my creative use two standard workhorse machines for use in clothing and some piece work (and the 350 to take to classes), my Bernina 830LE (Gibbs) for machine embroidery, specialized applique, and decorative stitch work, and my new Q20 set up as a sit down longarm for my quilting work.  I will still use Gibbs for quilting when I want to quilt with decorative stitching, but that is only about one percent of my quilting.  I also have a small kitchen island that is my cutting and painting station, a nearby small bathroom where I do some occasional hand dyes and for use with cleaning up after painting, and my computer station with a good ink jet printer.  In the process of all of this, I am removing a couple of old printers and putting in a second monitor for my computer station (at no cost…just work) to assist me with the design work.

I am most grateful to the Lord, my kids, and my Bernina friends who have or are all pitching in one way or another to help me make this happen.  It is a dream studio.  Sew I am a healthy, albeit overweight, 69 now.  In the past, I sewed decades using lesser machines and after work and weekends, and then spent a lot of time learning the art quilt craft after I retired a little over three years ago.  This seams a very good time to raise the level of my work up another notch, don’t you think?  It would also be a great help to me to start winning more ribbons and selling more quilts (and even completing and selling my books) to help pay for my fabric art work and maybe even add a little additional income.

I just completed “Drawing Nigh” and am about to finish the Hoffman Challenge quilt.  So what is next after my studio revamp?  Ahhh.,..I have a lot of plans that seem to be growing all the time.  First off, I want badly to make a new show quilt by 15 August for the PA Nat’l Quilt Extravaganza in Philadelphia because I’m going up there for that show and am staying with a long term friend who recently retired and moved nearby there.  So I want something to show off with…LOL…I don’t think I can complete Ken’s wonderful quilt by then, so I am planning on attempting the next quilt in my deep space series, which may be doable.  After all, it was that show last year that gave Sky Horse it’s ribbon (Best color choice for its category).  I think I probably can.  More than half of the work on those quilts is free motion quilting.  It will be a good tryout for my new Q20.  I hope to complete Ken’s quilt by the end of the year or early next.  It is much the most difficult piece of art I have ever attempted, so I refuse to rush it.  And then, I am considering making a couple of whole cloth quilts inspired by really ancient historical quilts.  Oh, and don’t forget the orange/gold dragon flying over volcanos and possibly fighting a phoenix, or the third in my “waiting…” series, or my memorial quilt for my mom, or the deep dark forest in nearly three dimensions, oh, and there’s Jacob’s ladder, and Adam naming the animals, and…and….

Sew happy everyone!  Do a little spring cleaning and reorganizing and start something new and fun.

Studio Revamp: Throw Away, Give Away, Keep…Repeat

Now that I have ordered my Bernina Q20, I have to prepare a place for it by mid June.  This is a pretty big project, because it involves reorganizing my whole upper level, starting with my bedroom and master bath (there are drawers in there).  I have to eliminate one of my two dressers from my bedroom, move the Koala cabinet where I use my alternative machines into my bedroom where the dresser is now, and finish up with some reduction of fabrics and other assorted junk and a good vacuuming and dusting.

So I have begun by cleaning out the dresser I intend to keep, and I found a whole big black bag of old work things to toss and a bag of things give away in that dresser.  I no longer wear panty hose, business tops, and skirted suits except on very rare occasions.  Back when I worked, wore these everyday.  Now my “uniform” is a long sleeved shirt or top, a pair of jeans, and socks and shoes. So I will keep a few business dress outfits and get rid of the rest.

I have fashion fabrics in under bed storage boxes.  These are currently out in the room and need to be sorted and put back.  There you will find some lovely woolens, silks, and other dressy/business fabrics.  I will probably keep a few and give away the rest.  Every now and then I want to sew some clothing, but I don’t need that much and the clothes I want to make are different for me now.

I should have done this right after I retired in January 2012, and, in fact, I did a little, but I was still attached to things, thinking I would wear them, but I haven’t at all.  I now think they look dowdy, no longer match my coloring, (I have let my hair go natural, with lots of gray and it looks a little blond), and I have a different life style altogether.  So I will be able to do this without a problem…just a lot of work.  And in the end, I will be much happier with my bedroom as well as my studio.

Then if I have time before the machine gets here, I am going to prune my stash down so it all fits in the generous storage units I have for them and give the studio a good cleaning.  My taste in quilting fabrics has changed over the past few years as well.

Sew happy everyone!  Is it time to spring clean your bedroom and studio?  When done well, it helps the work flow for a long time, I think.

When Projects Go Awry

One of my wonderful mom’s favorite jingles was a song taken from an old movie that was as old as I am.  It was You gotta stick to it tivity:  You’re gonna do all right, you’re gonna do all right.  She sang that to me when things I was trying to accomplish needed more work or went really awry. I can still hear her from time to time singing to me from heaven.  😀  I did see that movie, So Dear to My Heart sometime in my childhood and remember it a bit.

5" x 5" fabric greeting card or mug rug

A little heart mug rug…just showing it because this story touches my heart strings.

It didn’t seem like it at the time, but over the years I realized her singing that little jingle to me repeatedly was a gift that has served me well across the years, and most recently in my quilting.  While working on the past several quilts I have had things go awry rather badly and I thought it may be the end for both of those quilt projects.

Just this week, I started embroidering an element on my Hoffman Challenge 16 quilt and took extra care to place it perfectly along the cross hairs with my brand new laser cross hair light.  It was stitching wonderfully, until I looked at it and….

Gasp!  I had put the hoop on sideways!  Oh no.  The element was turned a perfect 90 degrees wrong.  I stopped the embroidery machine immediately, but it had already stitched quite a lot.  I don’t know why I didn’t see it before I did.

Well, I honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to fix it.  Machine embroidery is very much harder to remove than ordinary machine stitching.

073

So I started the process with my stitch remover and tweezers and realized I was simply not making any significant progress and I had put a small hole in the fabric. So I thought I would not be able to repair this quilt.  But I was wrong.

I decided the next morning to research what other people do when this happens and found a couple of videos on you tube of people using a hand held shaver and and another with an electric shaver-like device to remove such embroidery from the bobbin side.  Someone noted in the comments that it was a regular small razor, which is what it appeared to me to be also.  I bought a “Peanut” razor by Wahl, which is a very small palm sized razor and significantly less expensive than the embroidery specific razor.

peanut razor

It came and I successfully removed the embroidery with no further damage to the fabric.  Woohoo! I turned it to the back, braced it on my sewing ham to give it a solid rounded basis and shaved the bobbin side holding the razor kind of upside down as shown in the videos.  I didn’t think it did anything until I turned it over and scratched at the embroidery with my tweezers, and it started coming up!  It took me a couple of hours, but it all came and left no further damage than the small hole I made earlier.

So yesterday I starched and ironed the area and restitched the embroidery off quilt on nylon veiling, which I will applique on.  It will cover the small damage to the fabric with no problem and it looks wonderful.

This event follows on the heels of my completing Drawing Nigh which I just finished after having multiple problems and nearly giving up on it more than once.

Sew this is what I think.  It is all right to abandon a project, but if you have spent hours and money on it, it can pay you to try to fix it.  You may want to step back from it for a while and give it some thought. Do some research on what you can do to fix a problem you may not know how to fix, and keep on trying through one problem after another.  If, in the end, you just can’t fix it to look like you want, you may be able to cut part of it into another project,  or simply throw it away.  But i suggest you don’t do that until you really try to fix it. You may end up with a wonderful end result.

Sew happy everyone and “stick to it tivity: you’re gonna be all right!”

031

Laser lights and robots in my studio

This week I got a new toy.  It’s a Perfect Alignment Laser 2 cross-hair lamp, which I am hoping will help me a lot in my studio especially with aligning embroideries and  multi-hoop embroideries as I hoop them for my Bernina 830 LE and squaring up small quilt projects.  I already had a laser square, which helps me square up my quilts and which I used just this week to make sure my quilt now named “Drawing Nigh” (the Waiting…2 quilt) was perfectly squared up.  I found that the laser square didn’t quite do the job, however, because I have a lot of trapunto on that quilt that interfered with the lights, so I had to go back to rulers.  I eventually got that done though it did take me quite an effort.  Here is the first full picture of this quilt…Ta da!!!

Drawing Nigh, completed 4/17/2016, 39.5 x 44.5 inches.  Original design by BJ

Drawing Nigh, completed 4/17/2016, 39.5 x 44.5 inches. Original design by BJ

Sew today I’ve been doing some stitch-outs in my embroidery module of little animals for my Hoffman Challenge quilt.  That quilt is a happy whimsical forest path with big funny flowers, butterflies all over the place, and big trees.  I thought it needs some animals peaking out here and there and running or walking along the path. The embroidery module, of course, is a robot.

All of this got me to thinking how much fun it is to use these high tech toys to achieve the looks I want and to wish for a robot that would straighten and clean my house so I could live in a cleaner home.  At least, I could live in a cleaner home without having to stop playing in my studio with all my toys in order to clean it up.  I was looking at an IROBOT vacuum cleaner ad the other day.  The problem is, it doesn’t do the straightening first, which is my biggest problem.  Once it’s straight I can vacuum it without too much effort.  LOL

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio this week.  Learn to use your high tech assistants you have…computer drawing and design programs, laser tools, and especially the wonderful things your machine can help you do if only you just knew how to use it.  🙂

 

 

“Waiting…” 2: Finally Moving Along

Have you ever had a quilt that struggled with you to the point you nearly abandoned it?  Well, that was the second in my “Waiting…” series, but I picked it up and did some substantial fixing, and now I am at the point of coming close to finishing the top and I love it at this point.

First of all, I pieced a storm at sea section to become part of the ocean.  The piecing was challenging, but enjoyable and I liked the way it came out. Here are the first two blocks of that section.first two blocks

When I put it together with the fabric piece had for the rest of the ocean, and added the sky, the whole background piece seemed disjointed and the colors simply didn’t play well. So I took the ocean off the sky and overdyed the ocean (both pieces joined together) with a more sea-like color and they blended beautifully together.  The only negative result is that, even though I hand dyed it, the pieced storm-at-sea blocks’ seams tended to fray together, so I no longer had the nice flat open pressed seams I started with.  But really, by the time I spent several hours re-flattening and spray starching the sea, it looks wonderful.

But the sky…oh the sky.  It was just too dull and gray and lifeless.  I wanted a sky with an obviously approaching storm at sunset, just as the clipper ship can be seen on the horizon.  This is to add the drama to the story…can the ship make it into port safely, and will the family be reunited and get into shelter before the storm hits?

I had tried painting that sky three times already, and I didn’t like any of them.  So I took the one I liked the best and added clouds, lightening, sunset colors, and yes, I think it now has the drama (and color) I was hoping to add.  So I put the sky and the ocean back together.

Here is a quick pic of the ocean after I dyed it and got it back together with the sky.

Here is a quick pic of the ocean after I dyed it and got it back together with the sky.

Then I added the cliffs to the left of the picture and it began to look right.  I just put in a lighthouse on the top of the farthest away visible cliff, added the rocky steps and the stone platform in the nearest  stony area for the woman and her daughter to stand on and surrounded it with stones as it would be.  It has made all the difference.  I now finally like the quilt top.

But I was not happy with the original clipper ship I had chosen to use.  I am using a Dover high-definition painted ship and I have the collection.  They are much more beautiful than I could have made from scratch, and I don’t mind using commercially printed fabrics, so why should I mind using a fabric I print myself from a collection of great nautical paintings.  Using this still requires considerable advanced techniques in applique, thread work, and quilting.

tall ship

The ship I decided not to use.

The ship I'm using.

The ship I’m using.

So I hunted through the collection and found another one, which I printed out about five different sizes, and finally got it about right.  I like this one. It has life, the sails are billowing and are a better color.  I’m slightly leaning it on the quilt to add to the look of speed.  I printed it out both on the EQ regular cotton fabric and the EQ lawn.  I am appliqueing the whole ship down from the cotton fabric, and have added wool batting to the back of the front sails and will applique those in place to give it a bit of 3D billowing sales.  I am also adding a layer of wool batting behind the ship and trapuntoing it all in place.  Then I will stitch the rigging.   That will probably take me a couple of days to applique and another stretch of time to do the quilting and stitch the rigging.  Here is my machine stitching around the stones and stone steps up to the platform where the woman and her daughter will stand.

top under construction

Then there will be the stirring up of the sea with some Angelina fibers and some thread work.  That will be fun.

Sew happy everyone!  Wishing you all a wonderful National Quilting weekend, and a happy Palm Sunday on the morrow.

Progress on Several Projects

I have three projects currently underway and I’m having fun trying to clear my work flow of these three projects in order to attack two intense show quilt projects I’m also really looking forward to making.  My current projects include:

  • Hoffman Challenge 2016…I’m currently constructing the top.  It’s a happy little quilt, just a little bit fantasy-like and I’m currently placing and stitching down all the appliques.  I am planning on adding lots of bead work to this quilt, so a good part of the work will be after the sandwich is quilted and done by hand in the evenings.
The background was constructed using applipiece/piecelique technique.

The background was constructed using applipiece/piecelique technique.

Stitching the appliques down

Stitching the appliques down.  I will also add some machine embroidered animals to this fanciful forest.

  • The second quilt in my “Waiting…” series (name to be determined) is finally moving along.  I had a very hard time with the sky and the sea.  The woman and her daughter appliques were really hard to get right.  They still require a lot of details that will be added with stitching.  I also have to make the clipper ship applique, which will probably take me a lot of time.  But it’s finally looking like it is going to become a quilt.  I had my doubts when I didn’t like the sky (I repainted it), didn’t like the sea (I over-dyed both the pieced section and the non-pieced section together to bring them together), and I didn’t like the planned clipper ship design (I found a new one in Dover that has lots of motion).  I still have many rocks to add, and the more I look at it the more I think it needs a border…not very wide.  Long ways to go on this one.
It's a start...long ways to go, but it seems to finally be cooperating.

It’s a start…long ways to go, but it seems to finally be cooperating.  This pic is not square on to the quilt, I see…a little at an angle.  😀

  • And I’m working on my applique book, trying to draw up all the patterns.  This is a book showing several techniques of machine applique and the project related to it is a soft fabric book with applique samplers in it…ending with both an art project and a reference aid to the sewist for the future.  I got a package of 10 inch precuts to see if I can make the whole book using one layer cake and some white fabric for the pages.

Sew I have been having lots of fun in my studio, but it is getting a bit messy.  I am trying to clean it using a little bit of work at that every day, but I seem to be taking one step forward and two backwards…LOL.

Sew happy everyone!  Go have some fun in your studio and don’t worry about the mess.  Oh, and I haven’t forgotten the step of the month project…I am afraid though that it will have to wait a few more months before I can get to that one.