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.