Friday, February 17, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 02/17



I did take time to dash out on the balcony
and capture this glorious sunrise.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

I'm having difficulty focusing these days. It reminds me of being a young mother trying to have a professional conversation on the phone, while my toddler hanks at my pant leg with pleading eyes for attention, and a pot is boiling over on the stove. I do not excel at multi-tasking. 

The reality is there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Instead we may rapidly switch between focuses, appearing to be multi-tasking, but we are really do only one thing at a time. A good way to understand what is meant by this is to write out your full name. Next write out the numbers from 1 - 25. Finally alternate between writing out your name and the numbers, interspersing the numbers with the letters. So, for my first name it would look like this: G1w2y3n4e5d6. Even typing it is a nightmare.

The result of a week being pulled in numerous directions is I have very little completed work to show for it, as you can see:

Last week I shared a possible design
for Picking Up the Pieces #2. This week
an idea for Picking Up the Pieces #3 
wouldn't let me go. It will require many butterflies. 

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 - No

Instead I moved directly into playing with designs for Picking Up the Pieces #3.

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 - No

Didn't do this either.

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

I attempted to make butterflies three different ways. One was so diabolically difficult with such poor results, I tossed it. I 
think for the purposes of this quilt, I will stick to fusible appliquĆ©, backed with a stabilizer, and surrounded with black satin stitch. The stabilizer keeps the satin stitch from distorting the work and was very easy to remove without tearing stitches. 


4) Free motion quilting practice - Done

I wanted to see if I could recreate the combination of motifs I saw on Pinterest post without marking the top. I could. šŸ‘
There will be lots of open space for free
motion quilting in both Picking Up the Pieces
#2 & #3
. Time to test out some ideas I've
found in Pinterest.

5)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Done

I finally took the time to just sit down and do it. 

Next week will probably be more of the same. I have several appointments and another active SAQA exhibitions week to attend to. When I can manage to make my way to the studio this could be the plan, or maybe not. I'm comfortable going with the flow for now.

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week


4) Free motion quilting practice



I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 02/10


We frequently see this fox walking
in front of our condo, or dashing across the
lake. This photo was taken by our neighbor
Lynn Riviere from her condo. This could
be the view from my studio. :)
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Sometimes before you can make pots you have to start with the basics. I recall from my grade school days being taught the importance of working the clay before you began to sculpt with it. The goal, if I remember correctly, was to meld the clay into a unified blend with no air bubbles. The point being, before you can begin to create, even to experiment, there is prep work to be done. 

I focused one of my studio days on working out the basic structure of my design on EQ7. I'm still a relative newbie with the program, although I have made it a point to do a tutorial of 15 minutes to an hour most weeks for a while now. The design I wanted to play with pushed the limits of my knowledge. It is part of making pots, trying this, testing that, a step or two forward only finding I must start further back. 

Possible design for Picking Up
the Pieces 2
created with EQ7
With my other studio day I began the experimentation of the best way to piece the compass block. My instinct is to turn to paper piecing whenever I need precision piecing of this complexity. Where I have gotten stuck in the past, though, is combining paper piecing with curves. I decided to give it a whirl anyway. Much to my surprise, since the seam lines are straight, the piecing worked well. Even more exciting, I was easily able to turn under the outside and inside curves with an iron. This meant I didn't need to use glue or starch. No glue or starch means those products don't have to be washed out after the work is quilted. 

My studio time was truncated this week by other obligations. This can be an advantage. It kept me focused. Here is what I managed to do:


1) Finishing Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done!


2) Design Picking Up the Pieces #2 - Started

The design may change. The one shown is my favorite from multiple false starts. I'm going to play a bit more with color placement. I do want lots of open space. Where you see white, will be more of the background (sky blue fabric). I want to make my quilting a strong part of the design, and lots of open background is a good way to showcase it.

I used my yellow scraps to test the advocacy
of paper piecing an arch. The arch is machine
appliquƩd with a blind hem stitch. This method
was comfortable to do. I'm pleased with it
technically, too.
3) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 - Not yet.

4) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

I made many pots on EQ7 as I worked out how to translate my design concept onto the screen. Most of the attempts were deleted. Sometimes it is just easier to start over, rather than fix problems. This is precisely why I like using EQ 7. I can make many more pots designing on the computer, than working with fabric.

5) Free motion quilting practice - Didn't get to it.

6)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Started

Next week I plan on trying another method or two of creating the arches for Picking Up the Pieces - 2. I also want to spend more time on EQ7 playing with my design before I commit to actually making it. It is good to have plan, while staying flexible. Here's mine for next week:

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

5)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 02/03



View from my studio.
January 31, 2017 at 9:00 am
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

When the weather outside is frigid (yes we are back to single digit nights here in Appleton, Wisconsin) witnessing the sun, albeit hidden by a cloud, from my studio warms my heart. Life may be busy. Life may seem crazy. In my studio, I am warm, engaged and able to stitch one piece to another. 

The plan for this week was simply to play with my scraps. Actually, I need a more concrete plan than that, otherwise I would simply stare at the fabric. This is why I maintain a notebook of ideas for experiments to try the next time I feel so inclined. I'm not sure where I stumbled upon Elizabeth Hartman's Mod Mosaic Quilt Blocks, but the tutorial was in my notebook. 

Picking Up the Pieces - 1
What attracted me to Mod Mosaic Quilt Blocks was how the thin strip of a unifying fabric pulled together a cohesive look. An advantage for me is a 17" square quilt works up very quickly. My normal speed is tortoise. I have accepted this about myself, most of the time. Still, I am secretly envious of other fiber artists who speak of making up a quilt from idea to completion in a couple of weeks. So, when I stumble upon a way to work faster without compromising quality, I am going to give it a try.

I actually began Picking Up the Pieces on Monday and had it quilted by Thursday. This was not my sole focus. My job as Chair of SAQA's Exhibition Committee kept me busy for a half day each on Monday and Tuesday with a few more hours on Wednesday. It is always busy during the final days of a call for entry as a team of us help entrants with their questions and concerns. Once all the entries are in they must be vetted for eligibility and some prepped for blind jurying. It is worth the effort, but definitely cuts into my studio time, although this may not be obvious by looking at what I got done.

1) Finishing Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Started

Detail from Picking Up the Pieces
Click on this or any other image in the post
to see an enlarged view. 
I made the sleeve and started attaching it. 

2) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

I have been pinning quilting designs which speak to me on Pinterest. Many of these involve ruler work. Some are made up of a combination patterns. I am drawn to designs with clear changes in texture. I used Picking Up the Pieces as a way to make pots with free motion quilting. 

What I seem to need to learn over and over again, is don't bother to do any intricate free motion quilting on fabrics with patterns. It just doesn't show up. It is worth it to go to town on solids or fabrics reading as solid. Sometimes a patterned fabric comes to life if you choose the right free motion quilt design. 

3) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

Detail from Picking Up the Pieces
Enhancing the rose petals (lower right) was
a bust. However micro stippling around brown
spots brought them to 3D life as pebbles.
See above.

4)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song Not Yet

When I began making Picking Up the Pieces I thought I would make a series of blocks in varying hues. What I learned by making it, was for me, once was enough. However, it has me thinking about a new direction to explore, one where I can showcase some of the quilting designs that are calling to me. There is nothing better than finishing a week eager to start all over again. Next week's plans will likely include:

1) Finishing Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 

2) Design Picking Up the Pieces #2

3) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

4) Pot(s) made this week

5) Free motion quilting practice

6)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 1/27





Lola contemplates her domain.
View from my studio this week.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

I'm in a contemplative mood this morning. Perhaps it is because I just finished listening to, Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman. It is a novella told from the perspective of a grandfather as his world shrinks due to dementia. I became a fan of Backman  when I read,  A Man Called Ove. He is a superlative author in capturing the loving heart hidden inside a curmudgeon. Despite the grim topic, his books are uplifting in a way that brings tears to my eyes and requires a few nose clearings into a tissue. 

Sometimes it isn't easy to find the good buried under the frustration and disappointment. As you can see from the weak light from the vantage point of my Bernina, we are still having gray days here in Appleton, WI. I've lost track of the number of predominately gray days, but it has been more than a week now. As you can see, it didn't dampen Lola's (my studio cat's) spirits. She is perched in her favorite spot for chipmunk watching.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
is finally finished.
Much as I prefer sunny days, if I am enmeshed in my work, I barely notice the gray. The real frustration came this week when I learned that doing ruler work with my George wasn't feasible. I have been fantasizing teaching myself ruler work this year. For the past several months I have been researching, on a casual basis, what would be required and studying the work others have been doing with rulers. Getting the rulers is a matter of selecting which curves and straight edges to get. Doable. However, my research taught me a new foot would be required. APQS sells the proper foot for the George. So far, so good. However, before ordering the foot, I thought I should check out my machine to make sure I could in fact substitute the foot the machine comes with for the one needed. It turns out the only way to do this is to disassemble a section of the machine and literally saw off the current foot, then attach the new foot and reassemble the machine. Guess I won't be doing ruler work anytime soon, if at all. 

I've turned my attention from solving how to do ruler work, to playing with fabric scraps. When the going gets tough, there is no better therapy for me than slicing, arranging and piecing fabric. I did some of this and some of that, as you can see:

I treated myself to some free motion quilting.
I spotted the vine motif in Pinterest. It is a design
Luanne Kessi uses to warm up before she
starts FMQ for the day.
1) Finishing Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done

I still need to attach the sleeve, label and add it to my website. However, I did get it to the point of being able apply to the Call for Entry I have in mind.

2) Pot(s) made this week - Done

I made micro pots this week. I wanted to test what would happen if I combined multiple micros quilting designs in the background of my free motion quilting practice piece. Two of the designs meld well together, the stippling and spirals. The free form "darning" patch, although stitched with the same thread, is denser and therefore stands out versus blending in. It isn't the look I was going after, but it is good to know.

3) Free motion quilting practice - Done

4)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Not Yet.

I managed to clean up my studio this week and less than hour later have it return to creative chaos as I pulled out all my scraps and sorted them by hue for some intuitive play I have in mind. My focus next week will be to continue to play interspersed with attending to the items on my studio to do list.

1) Finishing Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 

2) Pot(s) made this week

3) Free motion quilting practice

4)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 01/20


This week's studio view
is a study in neutrals. It is
a typical Appleton winter day,
absence of sun, frozen lake
and yes, that is ice on the
brick patio.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Tempted as I am to open my blog with a black arm band, mourning wreath or a treatise on the history of mourning jewelry, I will refrain. Just as I plan to refrain from tuning into any coverage of the inauguration of our 45th President. There are times, for self preservation, when I prefer the ostrich's approach, to hide my head in the sand. Of course, rather than sand, I hide in the studio and listen to audio books while I work. 

I was speaking with the other grandmother of my granddaughters yesterday. She mentioned her New Year's resolution was to watch more TV. No, that is not a typo. She, her daughter, my daughter-in-law and I have all had to make conscious decisions on how to take time to relax. There are times when working in the studio is relaxing. Certainly I crave creative time. However, for all the joy I get from my work, relaxation isn't the first thing which springs to mind.
I will be adding flowers to
the vines next week. Then
this piece will be done.

Relaxation is the order of the today.  The good news is I have the binding to hand stitch on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? When I tire of that there is a special dance class at the Y. I can't recall the last time I allowed myself to take off midday not to run an errand or do something art related, but just to have fun. 

I am grateful this week, although not one I would categorize as fun, was productive enough as you can see:

1) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done!

a) Stitched down the yo-yo flowers;
b) Squared up the quilt to the required size;
c) Made the bias binding; and 
d) Attached it the front of the quilt and pinned it to the back.

2) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

I am finishing up my 4th knitted knocker. Each one is going faster than the last. I barely have to glance at the instructions to recall how to knit each of the phases. Best of all the glaring learning gaffs are nearly nonexistent!

It has been a while since I practiced my
FMQ skills. I thought I would start with
something simple. Leah Day's Trapped Ripples
was just what I needed.
3) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

I was determined to do some simple FMQ practice this week. There is something very soothing about the rhythmic flow of FMQ, especially a pattern like this where it is nearly impossible to quilt yourself into a corner.

4)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Not yet.

I also started bailing out the studio after two very intense back to back deadlines. Next week I hope to finish picking up. The bare surfaces will be short lived, though. I have a hankering to pull out my scraps and just play. Before I do that I will turn my attention to:

1) Finishing Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

2) Pot(s) made this week

3) Free motion quilting practice

4)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 01/13

Cat's eye view into the guest room
where my quilts are stored. They
are laying horizontally, one on top
of another on the bed.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

A question I see asked and answered by other fiber artists and quilters is "how do you store your work?" I'm impressed with people who opt to roll their work around pool noodles, slip the rolled work in a muslin bag closed with a drawstring, and hang a label on the bag. Some even go so far as to maintain an inventory sheet with a spot to mark where the quilt is located. Organization may be my middle name, but when it comes to storing work I am much, much looser than this system. With the exception of the 14 pieces I have hanging on the walls of our condo, 100% of my work is stored on top of a bed in a guest room off of my studio. The work is stored Princess and the Pea fashion with the oldest and or largest work on the bottom and the newer and smaller work on the top. Rarely do I need to go digging deep into the pile, since the majority of the time the only work I need for exhibition is on top or only a few pieces down. I cover everything from dust, cat fur, and light with spare bedspreads. Simple, effective and most importantly, it works for me.


All elements seen here
are permanently stitched
into position!
This is precisely how I approached my work this week. If it works. Don't mess with it. Since the deadline is fast approaching on the Call for Entry I will be submitting Where Have All the Flowers Gone? to, I simply pressed forward, as you can see:

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Some day, but not this week.

2) Free motion quilting practice - Not this week

3) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done!

a) I reworked where the vines should cling to the tombstone, cut them to length and stitched them down.
b) I stitched hexagonal flowers together and stitched them in place.
c) I worked out the layout for the yo-yo flowers and stitched them together.

4) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

A field of yo-yo blooms tacked together
and ready to be stitched to the quilt
next week.
It was another week of learning what not to do, or more precisely wishing I could discover a better method. Stitching the yo-yo flowers together was a nightmare. I researched how to do this first by hand sewing and then by machine. Since yo-yos are circular and I want to sew them together in staggered uneven rows, keeping track of which yo-yo needed to be sewn to which yo-yo and where the junction should be was extremely difficult. I was more than happy to whipstitch them together by hand, I just couldn't keep track of the joints. I found a tutorial on using a "tack" stitch (not available on my machine) or very short length of satin stitch. It is was recommended to use a monofilament thread. Hate that stuff, but I did use it as my top thread and a blending, Bottom Line thread in the bobbin. Instead of tying off the threads or burying them in the yo-yos, I opted to stitch the tack and reverse stitch the tack, then trim the thread. If a few tacks unravel it won't be a big deal. There is no stress on them and even when I did pull tacked yo-yos away from each other, the stitching remained. Close enough. 

I'm really looking forward to putting those yo-yos to bed next week. The next step is to secure them to the quilt. That I can do! Maybe I will have time to get to a few more items on my list, too. I hope so. Here is the list:

1) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

2) Pot(s) made this week

3) Free motion quilting practice

4)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 1/06




I thought it would be fun to include
a view from my studio as a regular
feature of my blog. This yearling was
checking out the wisteria vine. It is hard
to tell from the photo, but the lake and
river are frozen solid again.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. This could be my motto. Sometimes the number of times I need to try again easily reaches double digits. One of these times is mastering bias presser bars. The link to the video I provided for how to create a bias tube makes the process look easy. It would be relatively easy if, and that should be IF you were making a stem no longer than the bias bar. The problem comes when you have seams in your tube. The bar gets caught at the seam, especially if you follow the directions on the package. Why? There is insufficient wiggle room to manipulate the bar through the tube and it gets hung up at the seams inside the tube. This time I made a slightly oversized tube, allowing a circumference with a 1/4" of wiggle room. The tube according to the directions would finish at a 1" circumference. Instead it finishes at 1 1/4". That bonus 1/4" gave me just enough room to manipulate the bar through the tube without ever getting hung up. Considering the tube was approximately 4 yards long with internal seams every 12" or less, it was pure joy to finally get it right.
Now you can see why I need so
many yards of stem/vine. I pinned
in it in place. Then changed my
mind. Time to try something else.

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Not Yet.

2) Free motion quilting practice - Not Really

I didn't do any free motion quilting. However, I have been working on my satin stitch and blind hem stitch (both by machine) for securing the appliquĆ©s on my quilt. 

3) Do some surface design work - Not Done

4) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done

I added the easel, hand stitched down the bias binding surrounding the Make Art panel, added NOT WAR and the thin line of blue satin stitch on three sides of the tombstone. I also tested out the first of ways to incorporate flowers and vines onto the piece.

5) Pot(s) made this week - Done

Back to its pre vine state.

The key for me when making pots is what did I learn from each pot made. Years of attempting to make bias stems taught me that the bias presser bar got hung up at internal seams. What eluded me was the solution on how to avoid this in the future. Opting not to make stems was only viable if I didn't need stems. Too bad the stems/vines didn't work. The lesson - they are too busy and distracting. Next week's pot making will be to try less distracting solutions.

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

4) Pot(s) made this week


I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.