Monday, December 24, 2007

Murphy Strikes Again

I decided to make myself a cute skinny scarf and look what happened.

I ran out of yarn with two inches left to go.


I don't think I'm being overly dramatic when I say that this kind of thing happens to me all the time. It's pretty long so I think I will just fold the little dangly bit and tack it in place. Darn you Murphy and your cursed law.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In The City We Keep It Rocking

I finished the quilt, “I Let My Thimble in El Segundo.” This is the quilt that required no planning or design on my part. I did it to clear the cobwebs after working on a few big projects. It is inspired by the song, “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” by A Tribe Called Quest. I like to make quits that are inspired by food or music because they are both things that tap into sense memory. They both have the ability to stir up vivid memories and powerful emotions. And the benefit of using food as a subject is that things that come from nature are already complete in their design. An artichoke comes out of the ground with the perfect balance of line, texture and color. All you have to do is pay attention.

It is a little more challenging to translate music into a visual format. Especially when you are trying to not only communicate the piece of music, but the memory and feelings it evokes. So I was riding in the car one day when “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” came on and it took me back to college. It reminded me of the music I listened to back then, the dances I went to, and driving around the Bay Area. And it’s a better subject than say, “Baby Got Back” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. To get all of this across, I wanted the quilt to be bright, to vibrate ever so slightly, and to be just a little bit askew. To me, this is what it was like to dance to this music and to ride around Oakland and Berkeley with the radio on.

I pretty much accomplished what I set out to do. I think the blocks could have been a little more askew so that you know it’s supposed to look like that. I think it might look like I can’t sew straight. It doesn’t really matter. The quilt is going on the wall of my sewing studio to make me happy. To remind me of the smell of eucalyptus, the taste of good Chinese food, and a time when jumping up and down was a form of dance. And I feel like I can exhale. I pretty much finished what I started this year. And I have some cool ideas about what I’m going to work on next. I’m getting excited about next year’s New Year’s Resolution project. More on that next year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Don't Rain On My Parade

I finished the quilting on my "El Segundo" quilt today. I remarked to my husband that if I managed to get the binding on before the end of the year, I will have completed all of the projects I started this year. He then proceeded to say, "What about that quilt on the chair in the bedroom?"

Are you kidding me? First of all, I started that quilt two years ago. So it doesn't count towards my list of accomplishments for this year. As I've said before, my list - my logic. Second of all, who throws a UFO in a quilters face when they are bragging? That's a good way to get stuck with a pin mister. Don't talk about the size of my stash. Don't ask about all the magazines and books. And don't mention the UFO's. Seriously. That's like talking about fight club.

I was actually looking at said quilt today. It is a really big quilt and there is not that much quilting left to do. It's all hand quilted. And since the weather has cooled, it would be nice to have it spread over me while I work on it. I was in the process of quilting it when I got pregnant. I stopped working on it because I would get drowsy and fall asleep mid stitch. I couldn't do anything for long stretches of time back then. I pretty much slept through my first trimester. By the time I got back into quilting, I had other projects to work on. So I think I will go ahead and finish this one up after I put the binding on "El Segundo". In the meantime, I think we're going to have to rent "Fight Club" again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another One Down, One Left to Go

I finished the top for the "Weeping" quilt. It is quite traditional looking isn't it? I finally decided to send it out to be quilted. I thought for a minute that I might try tackling the quilting - but why stress myself when someone else could have more fun with it. I'm warming to the idea. I have to admit that I'm intrigued by the idea of someone else working on it. This is my interpretation of an idea. Now, someone else will add their interpretation to it. Sometimes, you benefit from giving up control and letting someone else take the lead. Sometimes.

As I suspected, I'm starting to feel the creative juices flow again. For one thing, the sun came out and the weather warmed up. And I only have one more quilt left to work on before my slate is clean. I know that there are actually five quilts on the WIP list. I'm only counting the "El Segundo" quilt because it is the only one left that I started this year. My list, my logic.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Gets Lost Using Mapquest Too (But Still Manages to Get There)

I had this fruit and vegetable quit top I made a few years ago when I worked for the National 5 A Day for Better Health Program. My thinking at the time was that I would hang it in my office. I made the top and never got around to quilting it. In the meantime, I moved on to work for a different program, and 5 A Day morphed into the Fruits and Veggies; More Matters campaign. So what to do with the quilt top? I didn't really want to quilt it. And once I got it quilted, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. It was too small to be a charity quilt and I was not interested in hanging on the wall. The problem was that the quilt was no longer speaking with my voice. It's a fine quilt. But if I was going to make this quilt today, it wouldn't look like this. 5 A Day has moved on and so have I.

I don't want UFO's hanging around my studio judging me. If they are not going to be finished, they are going to be repurposed. So I decided to make it into a binder cover. My husband tricked me into cleaning out my cooking magazines by saying that if I had fewer magazines, I could have more cookbooks. So I tore out the recipes I wanted and put them into page protectors. I always intended to cover the binder with fabric or a collage. I even bought the book, "Fast, Fun and Easy Book Cover Art" with the magazine project in mind. Halfway through basting the fruit and vegetable quilt top I thought, "I could use this for the binder cover".

When I was in elementary school, we used to get these exercises where you would start with a word, and then by following the directions, like "cross out all the vowels", and "replace the r's with a's", you would end up with a different word. I rocked the following directions exercise. Somewhere along the way - either in college or grad school - I lost the ability to follow directions. Maybe I stood too close to the speakers at the Palladium. Maybe that research design class burned out some synapses. I don't know. But I managed to bungle almost every step of making this thing. I drew the pattern wrong, I drew it on the wrong side of the interfacing, I didn't get how to put the sleeves on and just made it up, and I managed to break or bend 4 sewing machine needles. And yet, I got the thing together and had fun doing it. It is important to be able to follow directions. It is equally important to be able to improvise. And I think that it is a credit to Jake Finch that even if you don't follow her directions exactly, you can still complete the project.

There is still a nice hunk of the old quilt top left. I think I'm going use the rest to make an apron. Somehow, I've been infected with the apron making bug that seems to be going around. It would be cool to have an apron that matched my recipe file. By the way, I don't follow the directions on recipes either.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm Looking California but I'm Feeling Minnesota

I finished piecing the blocks for the "weeping" quilt. What the heck was I thinking? I will probably send this one out to be quilted. It is way too big for me to machine quilt, and I don't have the next 48 years to hand quilt it. Besides, I think those wide open spaces of purple are begging for lots of swirly quilting.

I feel like I've been doing chores lately instead of creative work. Doing the curved piecing felt like grunt work. Basting the "El Segundo" quilt really is grunt work. Have I added basting to the list of tasks for an apprentice? I actually thought I was going to finally quilt the fruit and vegetable quilt. But I was not feeling that quilt at all. It has been sitting around for 3 years waiting to be quilted. I finally figured out that I've outgrown it and it is time to let it go. So I'm going to turn it into book covers. But even that feels like a chore to be over and done with.

I'm thinking it's the weather. It's too cold and dark. That, and the stupid holiday commercials. I want to throw something at that guy searching for gift for his wife at Lowes. But I'm going to keep working. A little bit of light is getting through. And I'm pretty sure that if I cross these last few projects off my WIP list, my creative mojo will return.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Year's Resolution #3

I finished my third New Year’s Resolution quilt. It is called “Arty Choke”. It turned out much better than I expected. The new techniques I tried were raw edge appliqué, using Shiva paint sticks and zig zag stitches around the edges of the quilt. The artichoke is fused and hand painted. Did you know that artichokes are members of the thistle family? I also painted (or colored) the background with shiva paint sticks. I was not thrilled with the outcome. I liked using the paint sticks. But I felt the piece was too dark and dull. I told myself that I could brighten it up with quilting. But deep down inside, I didn’t really believe that. Lo and behold, the quilting helped 200%. The raw edge appliqué worked out pretty well for me too. And why didn’t anyone tell me about zig-zag stitching before?

As usual, I practiced my free motion quilting. I was pleasantly surprised by how well I did. I still need to work on getting the tension right. But I think I’m getting the knack of it. In the picture, the artichoke looks like it is peeling off. But it isn't. That is the shadow created by the background quilting puffing up the fabric around the artichoke. It has a lovely texture and depth that you can't appreciate in the picture. I know I should have hung it and used the tripod, but I'm really too tired for all of that.

So here’s the thing about lowered expectations. Sometimes, they give you the opportunity to do well because you are not so invested in the outcome. I honestly was not thrilled with the background fabric and I thought the paint on the artichoke left a lot to be desired. I didn’t really think the quilting would help. But one of the things I learned in the Self-Expressions class at Quilt University is that you should keep moving forward on a project, even if you are feeling uneasy about it. So rather than give up, or go back and try to fix what I perceived as problems, I just took a deep breath and kept going. And the quilting really did make the whole thing work. So here’s a light bulb moment. It’s called a quilt because it’s quilted. Quilting is as much a design element as color, texture, and shape. I don’t spend nearly enough time considering the quilting while I’m designing the piece. In fact I rarely think about the quilting until the top is done. You may have known this all along, but then you didn’t tell me about the zig-zag stitch either did you?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup

I've been too busy cooking and cleaning and whatnot to get much quilting done. I did get some thread to embellish the "El Segundo" quilt. But I couldn't find the right beads. Speaking of embellishments, check out the embellished Katmandu fabric on Mark Lipinski's website. Just click on "my fabric", then "take me to the pictures". And cover your keyboard with a towel so you don't get drool on it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Waiting for My Food Network Contract

I'm getting ready for Thanksgiving. I'm getting excited because I get to cook a big meal. Here's my menu:
1. Pomegranate sangria - which I already messed up by accidentally using sherry instead of brandy. Oh well.
2. Turkey - of course.
3. Dressing - I stuff the turkey with herbs instead of stuffing, so technically it is dressing.
4. Whipped sweet potatoes
5. Baked macaroni and cheese
6. Greens - my first time making greens
7. Cornbread - already done. I can tell you're impressed.
8. 7Up cake -which I will also make tonight
9. Gravy
10. Cranberry sauce - The only thing not from scratch but I added it so this list will go to ten.

I've also got more curved piecing to do on the "weeping" quilt. Since I do all my curved piecing by hand, I should be able to fit it in while the cake bakes. I'd like to see Rachel Ray cook and sew at the same time!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

But Are You Funky Enough?

Look what happened when I turned my back for one second while winding a bobbin. Say what you will about hand piecing. I've never had this happen with a needle and thread.

I finished the "El Segundo" quilt top. I'm a little concerned that it looks poorly constructed. My intention was for it to look a little wonky. Squares are not supposed to be quite square and points are not supposed to quite match up. I wanted it to be a little askew, like you've been dancing all night. The problem is that if you don't make it funky enough, it just looks like you were drunk while you were cutting and sewing and people don't get it. Now I'm trying to think of a way to quilt it so that the viewer knows it supposed to look like that. Oh well. You are not a great artist unless you're misunderstood, right?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What A Difference A New Rotary Blade Makes

Every few quilts, I find it helpful to clear my mind by making something that requires no thought whatsoever on my part. No planning or design, just cutting and sewing. I find the techniques in Karla Alexander’s “Stack the Deck” books especially well suited for this exercise. It is also a quick way to make a quilt if you don’t have babies and husbands and jobs. So I have spent the last few days working on a quilt that required absolutely no brain power on my part. I didn’t even pick out the fabrics. I used a pack of 10 ½ batik squares. All I had to do was remember how to change the blade in the rotary cutter.

I started with the squares.

Then cut them into 9 roughly equal squares.

Shuffled the squares and sewed them back together.

Cut the 9 patches into 4 squares.

Shuffled the squares and sewed them back together.

Now I just have to sew the blocks together. I’m getting excited about quilting and embellishing this one. I’m feeling like this quilt wants lots of purple thread. I also feel like I have a clearer idea about what I want from my other projects. I work on multiple projects because I have lots of ideas and I can’t do just one thing at a time. I really like working this way, but sometimes the synapses get all clogged up. I think you can work on multiple projects as long as you are able to maintain focus. Without that, you just have chaos, and my studio is too messy for that. So when I start to loose that focus, I do one of these projects to reboot the system. Now I can get back to my artichoke, which has been languishing. And I have new ideas for the weeping quilt. And I finally have a vision for a pomegranate that I’ve been struggling with all year. Now if I only had 20 more hours in my day.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Autumn Sun Through The Gingko Leaves

I finished my husband Kevin's quilt. And I managed to do it with that thingee of perle cotton I swore was going to run out. The quilt is called "Autumn Sun Through The Gingko Leaves". The colors remind me of fall, which is Kevin's favorite season. And there are gingko leaves quilted on the center blocks. Did you know that the gingko tree is considered a living fossil? Now you know.

I decided not to use the pattern from the rug in the borders. It just wasn't working. I quilted some simple straight lines which were much more effective with the overall design. And easier.

This is the first quilt I've made for my husband. The funny thing is that I don't collect Asian themed fabric, so there was none in my stash. Kevin wanted an Asian theme to go with his office, so I had to to do some shopping. Maybe two pieces of fabric in the quilt come from my stash. Not funny ha, ha. Just funny weird.

As much as I enjoy the New York Beauty Block, I think I'm done for awhile. The "Weeping" quilt features NY Beauties and log cabin blocks. And I just finished the spikey bits for that one too. So I'm feeling done with them for now. I need to see what else I can do with foundation piecing.

Here are my lessons learned:
1. There is more thread on the spool than you think.
2. You don't know what you're going to do until you do it. My plan was to machine quilt the whole thing and do some fancy stuff in the borders. I ended up hand quilting most of it and doing plain borders.
3. You carry a theme on color and style as much as pattern. Not all of the fabrics are so-called Asian prints. But all of the fabrics contain colors and textures that reflect the theme when placed next to Asian prints.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ignore the Cat Hair

Woo hoo. I finished quilting most of Kevin's quilt, so it officially moves up on the list. It is now the quilt closest to completion. Of course, I have no idea how I'm going to quilt the borders. I want to machine quilt the borders even though I hand quilted the center. I don't want to use such heavy thread in the borders. I'm thinking about using a border pattern that is in one of my grandmother's Oriental rugs that I have in my family room. I'm going to have to ponder this. I swear I'm pondering, not procrastinating.

To distract you from the obvious lie in the last sentence, here is a cute picture of my son from Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quilting 'Aint Always Pretty

Whew. I completed the foundation piecing for the weeping quilt. And I came “this” close to running out of medium yellow fabric. Now all I have to do is the curved piecing. I do all my curved piecing by hand. I feel like I have more control of the fabric that way. I also think it might be faster. I would image that you would have to take the curves slowly on the machine. I’ll be putting this in line behind Kevin’s quilt. I’m pretty close to finishing the quilting on that one too.

So here is the shrapnel left from the foundation piecing. I love this technique. Not just because you get awesome pointy bits and curves. But because there’s no accurate cutting involved. I tear the strips of fabric, sew them to the block, trim the block, fling the fabric and keep going. Now I know some of you are thinking, “look at all that waste.” Many see this as a drawback of foundation piecing. However, I see a pile of delicious scraps. Mmmm, scraps. Imagine the possibilities for a moment. I could do some string piecing, some crazy quilting, or fuse it and make wicked new fabric. Right now I’m pondering whether or not I will try to incorporate these yummy fibers into the weeping quilt, or add them to my scrap bin. Perhaps mixing them with some green scraps or something.

Of course there is one negative consequence of my reckless foundation piecing. Now someone has to clean the floor. And I’m pretty sure it’s going to have to be me.

Oh, and since I've upgraded to Leopard, Blogger rocks. You Mac users know what I mean.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Is It Just Me, Or Is It Murphy's Law?

I’m not a very good judge of how much of something is left. I either have too much fabric or not enough. I always think the bobbin is about to run out when I have an hour’s worth left. Then I run out with 4 inches of binding left to sew on. And I never have the right amount of thread. The day after I ran out of fabric for the weeping quilt, I thought I was going to run out of thread for Kevin’s quilt. Once again, I went to the store to buy more only to find they had every color but the one I needed. Seriously, I think someone there is messing with me. I decided to just keep quilting until I ran out and I would worry about it then. And lo and behold, the thingee of thread keeps going. Now I’m thinking I can finish the quilting with this one spool. Which of course means I’ll run out with half a block left to quilt.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Trip to My Happy Place

So I’m elbow deep in foundation piecing. I’m making the spiky bits for the weeping quilt. After a couple of false starts, it is going swimmingly. Then, I ran out of yellow fabric. I know what you’re going to say. And really, don’t you think I know that? The thing is, I’m sort of making it up as I go along. I originally thought the spiky bits would be scrappy. I don’t know why, since I don't really do scrappy. I try, but I’m always compelled to make scrappy orderly. When I actually started sewing the blocks, I decided to make all of the outer spikes light yellow, while the inner spikes will be different shades of orange or pink. And this is what led to me running out of yellow fabric. And since yellow is one of my least favorite colors, I don't have a whole lot of it in my stash.

I like to look at running out of fabric as an opportunity to go to my happy place, Intown Quilters. So, after we took our pumpkin to the pumpkin patch, I headed to my favorite quilt shop. Actually, I went to the store where I bought the fabric first. They were practically cleaned out of tone on tones which was weird because they are never out of anything. Then I went to Intown. I found yellow that is not quite an exact match but close enough. And since I can’t go into Intown and just get what’s on my list, I got a couple of other goodies too.

First, this funky Alexander Henry fabric. I really like this theme. Doesn't it just scream "city girl"? I used the fabulous fashionista fabric that came out a couple of years ago in a wall quilt for my closet. I was pretty excited to see a new variation on the theme. I want to panel a wall in this stuff, but my husband is straight so that is not going to happen. This is going in the stash. I also got a bag of 10 ½ inch batik squares. Lest you think I’m adding to my stash willy nilly, I already know what I’m going to do with this fabric. In fact, I went into the store knowing what I was going to do with this fabric AND a name for the quilt. Impressed? I planned the whole thing in my head on the way to the store. I just had to find the right fabric. Stay tuned. I think it’s going to be a cool quilt. Oh, and I got a panel to make an advent calendar for the baby. I got so excited about the batiks I almost forgot.

I love Intown Quilters. If they put a Starbucks in there, I would never leave.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Running in Circles or Quilting Around Circles

The last few days seem like I've been crazy busy but at the same time I feel like I haven't gotten much accomplished. I hate it when that happens. So what have I been up to?

I have made progress on quilting Kevin's quilt. The freezer paper template is working out well, though it's not sticking as well as I would like. I just pin it and keep going. I've decided to add this herringbone stitch around the outer curves. I picked up this stitch from the book, "Quilt and Embellish in One Step." I'm all for anything that can be done in one step.

I also finished drafting the second block for the weeping quilt. Since there are only two blocks in the quilt, this is a big accomplishment. I just went ahead and drafted it with pencil and paper. I did give Quilt Pro another try. I hate paying money for something and then not being able to use it. So I just had to try again. I still couldn't get it to bend to my will so I did it by hand. It took me all of 15 minutes to draft the block on paper and most of that time was spent looking for a sharp pencil. As opposed to 6 hours on Quilt Pro with nothing but scrap paper to show for it. Slacker rule number 3 - technology that makes your life harder is not your friend.

I'm also taking a class at Quilt University on photographing your quilts. I got a new camera (I'm loving the close up feature) and figured this was a good way to start playing with it. This week, I have to set up where I'm going to hang and photograph my quilts. This brings up two problems. The first is that the sunniest room in my house is my quilt studio and there is furniture against each and every single wall in the room. So I need a freestanding arrangement. Kevin thinks we can build something out of PVC pipe. I got a good laugh out of that one too. Between his crazy work schedule, my work and running around after the baby, I seriously doubt we're going to build anything. Not to mention neither one of us has a clue about how to build anything out of PVC pipe. I'm sure we could figure it out, but this is a project that needs to get done this week, not next October. So I went to Wolf camera and picked up this.

It's a thing that photographers use to hang backdrops. I'm pretty sure I can hang a quilt from it. Slacker rule number 2 - let gadgets do the hard work. This brings us to my second problem. I don't put hanging sleeves on my quilts. They just seem like a lot of work. Most of my quilts are hung using clips - way easier. But they don't hang flat and apparently they obscure the binding. Since binding is probably my weakest skill, I'm not sure this is a bad thing. But for the sake of the class I'm now going to have to go back and sew hanging sleeves on the quilts I want nice pictures of. Yet another task I would delegate to an apprentice if we lived in the olden days. So when I get the system all set up, I'll post pictures. You'll get to see my studio. Won't that be exciting?

Oh yeah, don't forget to conserve water yall. I live in Georgia where we'll be out of water in 90 days. And try to get your food at the farmer's market. Peace.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Things You Learn From Historical Reenactments

Look what I got yesterday. I went looking for a book about Sashiko and picked up a few other things to boot at Barnes & Noble.

So the reason I needed a book on sashiko is that I decided to hand quilt Kevin's Asian themed quilt. I know I said I would machine quilt it. But after stitching down the blocks, I was pondering were to go next. I just couldn't visualize myself handling the quilt under the machine. So I decided to hand quilt some sashiko designs instead. I'm using size 8 perle cotton, so it shouldn't take too long (famous last words). I printed the designs on freezer paper, cut them out, and ironed them down. Now I'm stitching around the pattern. I have a problem with marking quilts. The markings rub off, they are hard to see, and on and on. It's a big pain to mark a quilt. I was visiting the colonial governor's mansion in New Bern, NC around this time last year. They had this woman dressed in period clothes quilting in a little cabin next to the gardens. She pinned a paper template to the quilt and was stitching around it. I decided I was going to give that a try the next time I had a complex design. So far so good. I did have to pin the freezer paper. Either I didn't iron it on long enough, or the motion of the rocking is just going to make it peel up. We'll see.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

New Year's Resolution 2 and A Rant

I finished my second New Year's Resolution quilt. It's called Sketchbook Blueberries. The new technique I tried is using colored pencils on fabric. This was really fun and easy. I will have to try watercolor pencils next. I also practiced some embroidery with the running backstitch in the leaf veins and blueberries. As usual, I had to practice binding. This time, I bound the edge using a plaited edge stitch. This is like a blanket stitch with an extra knot in it. I think I will try this edge stitch again with beads. I haven't tried this sort of raw edge binding before. I like it because it is easier than cutting binding, sewing it on, stitching it down, yada, yada, yada. But it's not really practical for a quilt much bigger than this. All in all, this was a fun little quilt. I will definitely look at colored pencils as another tool for embellishment.

Today, I also tried to print out the New York Beauty foundations for the Weeping quilt. Can I just say - aaarggg! If you heard a crash around 7 pm that was me throwing Quilt Pro for the Mac out of the window. The thing that frustrates me about this program is that you do everything right and it doesn't work. You have to do things 2 or 3 times to get them to work. I wasn't even making up my own block. I was using one from their library for crying out loud and the bleeping foundations still wouldn't print out correctly. The problem is that it is a Windows program masquerading as a Mac program. And the manual is crap. I could have drawn the block by hand in the time I spent dinking around with this program. Technology is supposed to make your life easier - not harder. So I'm done with it. Now I have to find some program that will allow me to design quilts on the computer. There really isn't anything for the Mac. I run an Intel Mac, so in theory I could use EQ on Parallels which lets me run Windows. But I don't want to. The Mac is the best computer on the market for doing design work. In this area, it is superior to Windows in every way. There should be awesome quilt design software for the Mac. If EQ was so great, there would be a Mac version. So there.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Helpful Graffiti

I was watching Oprah on Tivo today and they showed a message Sinead O'Connor had written on her kitchen wall. It said, "It doesn't matter if it's not perfect".

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Party Time or Nap Time?

I haven't gotten much work done in the past couple of days. We had John's birthday party today and we had relatives in from out of town. So we had to clean house and run errands and so on. The party was a blast by the way. Even if the birthday boy took a nap with his grandmother halfway through. Actually, I think most things in life would be better if you could stop and take a nap halfway through.

When things return to normal, I've got to get that artichoke painted, embellish that blueberry and try to get some quilting done on Kevin's quilt. I should also start the foundation piecing on the weeping quilting. And as always, I have the coffee quilt to work on. So much sewing, so little time. I need a nap.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Grand Prismacolor Experiment

The grand experiment with the colored pencils went great. After drying for 24 hours, I ironed the whole thing and put it through the wash. I washed it on a gentle cycle, in warm water, with baby detergent, which is how I pre-wash all my commercial fabric. I also got the sunrise fabric for the Weeping quilt washed too so I can get started on the foundation piecing. Then I put it in the dryer with all of the other fabric. And the whole thing came through with flying colors (pun intended). There is no noticeable fading. And the areas that were treated with the fabric medium still seem soft enough to needle through. The whole piece of fabric has maintained it's drape and softness. Now I'm going to trim it down, layer it and quilt-embellish the whole thing. Probably by hand. First I need to decide how I'm going to finish the edges. I'm not feeling binding. But I can't picture it bound pillow case style either. I've never bound something by satin stitching the edge, so I might try that. Ahh, another project for the WIP pile.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Distracted by Shiny Objects Too

I recently started a thread on the Pickle Road yahoo group about using colored pencils on fabric. I saw an article somewhere about using colored pencils to embellish your fabric but I couldn't remember where. I was wondering if anyone had any tips or knew of any resources. This lead to a discussion about the best method of setting the colored pencil. When it was all said and done, I ended up volunteering to give one of the methods a try. I know I've already got tons of works in progress. But I was too curious to pass this one up. And technically, since I picked blueberries as a subject, it works for my whole New Year's resolution thing.

So here's what I've done so far. I drew some blueberries and leaves using Prismacolor pencils. It was pretty simple. The colors go on smooth and nice and bright. I like Prismacolors pencils because you can build up layers of color. And they blend easily. Here's what it looked like.

Then I applied Golden GAC900. This is Golden's textile medium. You use it with acrylic paints to turn them into textile paints. You mix the medium 50/50 with paint, paint your fabric, and then heat set it. Some people on the yahoo group mentioned that this is what they used with the pencils. One person said they mixed the medium with water and then brushed it on. She had been using watercolor pencils. The other option was to use a spray fixative. Since I wasn't using watercolor pencils, I applied the medium undiluted with a brush. Prismacolors don't blend out like watercolor pencils - but they do blend. So I was careful to use a small brush and follow the shape of the drawing. The colors did blend a little. After I applied the medium, I painted the background with some Jacquard dye-na-flow. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the pencil acted as a resist to the dye so it didn't flow into the drawing. This is the result.

Tomorrow, I will iron it to set it and then put it through the wash. This is the test. To see if using the medium and heat sets the color. See - it's for science. Lest you think I completely blew off my WIP's, I actually got some quilting done on my husband's quilt this morning. He was snoring away, so I couldn't sleep. Since the baby was asleep too, I took this opportunity to get some machine quilting done. I got about an hour of work done. Woo hoo. Here's a little bit of Kevin's quilt to whet your appetite.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Charmed, I'm Sure

Someone recently complimented one of my quilts. I responded by saying thank you and asking them what they liked about it. This is the second or third time I've accepted a compliment on one of my quilts without listing each and everything that was wrong with it. I've decided that it isn't necessary to point out every little flaw and to just let people enjoy the quilts if that's what they want to do. I think it's important to be critical of your work. That way you can identify areas for improvement. Like "Dawn of the Kiwifruit." I don't think the center spike is defined enough. The next time I draft a similar block, I will be sure to make a more defined center spike. Do I need to point that out to everyone who says something nice about it? No. It's like when you meet someone at a party. They say, "nice ta meet cha," and you say, "charmed, I'm sure." You don't list every character flaw and bad habit you have. You let people discover your fine points, quirky behavior and bad disposition in their own time.

It's a big achievement for me. Believe it or not, I wasn't always a slacker. At one time, I was a goodie two shoes, grade grubbing, over achiever. I was always trying to win someone else's approval. It's like trying to make everyone happy. In the process you make no one happy, least of all yourself. When I read the "Bell Jar" and identified a little to closely with the main character, I decided a change was in order, lest I end up hiding out in the crawlspace of my house. One of the things about being a slacker is deciding for yourself what makes you happy and not bothering with the rest, no matter what anybody else thinks. I make art that makes me happy. I don't really care if anyone else likes it. And in a bizarre way, this allows me to be open to sharing my work with others. I can have a critical eye for my own work, and accept the criticism (or praise) of others without needing a dose of EST afterwards.

One of my favorite quilts is Covered In Stardust. I love the fabric, and the beading. I love that the title came to me in a dream. It was the second to last line of a poem I recited about the quilt in a dream, and the only line I remembered when I woke up. I love the colors and the quilting. It was the first quilt I free-motion quilted. It is also full of cut off points, bad quilting and mis aligned beads. I don't care. I still love it.