Friday, July 25, 2014

Week in Review 2014 - 07/25




Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

A close up of this week's free motion quilting design,
Dragonflies, by Gwyned Trefethen. The thread used is
a Marathon gold metallic.
It is time to talk thread again. When I first started quilting I barely gave what thread I used a second thought. I used Coats and Clark in whatever thread matched/blended with my current project. Slowly, ever so slowly I became more thread savvy. I went through a Sulky phase. Then I couldn't get enough of Aurifil. I still love Aurifil, I just wish they had more variegated threads in their collection. My love of variegated threads brought me to Superior Thread. The King Tut collection has been a favorite for years. I am also very partial to the shimmer achieved with metallic thread. Oh, the frustration. No thread that I use is more problematic than a metallic thread. When I need to be reminded of how to fix my thread issues, I turn to Superior Thread's website. They have many articles on how to work with thread. You might find the one on metallic threads helpful next time you are pulling out your hair as your metallic thread shreds and snaps every few feet of stitches. The reminder that finally solved my problem this week was shifting the orientation of the thread from vertical to horizontal. How your thread despools is key to not creating inadvertent snags and tension issues.

How my life thread has been despooling this summer is like metallic thread. Just when I think things are running smoothly it catches, shreds and breaks apart. I cope the same way. Patience, a deep breath a tweak and review, then I am on my way again. Little by little I make progress. One of the great things about blogging about my progress is that over a week, month and year I am shocked by just how much progress is made. It sure doesn't seem like that on a daily basis. Yet, proof positive follows, I can check several items off on my to do list.

1) Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall (Due August 3) - Done!

a) Deliver the quilt to the client. - Done!

The working title for this one is Night
Vision
. The plan is to size it at 54" H x 36" W.
That means the frog will be ~ 18" square.
I don't know who was more thrilled when Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall was delivered. I knew it was a good a piece, but I wasn't sure how it would work in the space it was designed for. It worked beautifully. I felt honored that the client asked many good questions and was fascinated by all the fabrics, thread work and detail in the piece.

2) Wild Apple 12" x 12" Opportunity - (Due August 15) - Not yet, but I have decided on the piece and pulled out some of the necessary supplies to get this done.

a) Mat and frame the work.

3) Create a minimum of 5 designs for my next piece. - Done!

I have only shared the design I settled on. It is an
amalgam of several ideas. It is unfinished. All the leaves will have veins.

A full view of Gwyned Trefethen's
FMQ design - Dragonflies

4) Free motion quilting practice. - Done!

I tried my hand at coming up with another FMQ design. This one I call Dragonflies. I couldn't resist the temptation to execute it in a metallic thread. The design was inspired by the collage I put together for this week's Life Book assignment.

5) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Done!

I learned a new technique in this week's Life Book lesson. It is how to transfer either a laser print (does not work with an ink jet printer) or magazine image to a mixed media piece using clear shelf lining paper. What fun!

Life Book 2014
Week 30's Collage


How will next week go? Will it continue to provide me with metallic thread style frustrations or run smoothly like a high quality polyester or rayon thread? Whatever life brings, I know I have the patience to plod along. My path is set as you can see below:

1) Wild Apple 12" x 12" Opportunity - (Due August 15)

a) Mat and frame the work.

2) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)


a) Finish the line drawing
b) Print out the line drawing to scale
c) Start the piecing

4) Free motion quilting practice.

5) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments.


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, July 18, 2014

Week in Review 2014 - 07/18




Lola in my studio. She has her own cat condo beside
my Bernina's sewing table.  She was just a few months
old when this photo was taken.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

This photo of Lola was taken when last fall. Why buy
special toys? Cats like toddlers like the wrapping
best!
Lola, our cat, is my constant companion in the studio which is the located in the lower level of our home. Lola knows that when I head downstairs it is time for her to accompany me. She races across the room to sit in the middle of the area rug waiting for her "don't forget about me" scratch and petting fest before I get down to business. If I don't spend sufficient time (and what time of pampering is ever sufficient?) she will jump on to the ironing table arching her back, strutting and doing figure 8's around my hand and arm for her bonus scratch. Then satiated, she heads into the adjoining bedroom where my quilts are stacked on the guest bed and covered by a heavy, washable, comforter. She will nap there all morning as I work, barely lifting her head, but maintaining a constant vigilance as I walk around the studio from cutting table to sewing machine, to iron and to my design wall. Lola rarely interferes with my work, unless I over stay my usual hours. In other words if I try to work past lunch time. Then she makes her presence known. Perhaps she is looking after me, making sure I don't suffer from low blood sugar or get too tired to do my best work. :) 

Nothing like black fabric to help the spring green
variegated thread glow.
The FMQ motif is my own design.
A question that is often asked in interviews of chefs is what do you always stock in your kitchen and what is your favorite tool. That question could be asked of quilters, too. I buy white and black fabric by the bolt. I really love to practice FMQ designs on black fabric. I like having white fabric around in case I get an urge to do some painting, dying or surface design work. I also stock lint brushes. Can you guess why?

That lint brush was put to good use this week to be sure none of Lola's hairs would be delivered with the commission quilt.


1) Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall (Due August 3) 

a) Finish facing the quilt. - Done!
b) Create and attach the sleeve. - Done!
c) Create and attach the label. - Done!
Detail featuring all three elements used in quilting Spring Vine.
d) Deliver the quilt to the client. - Will contact the client today for a good delivery time.

2) Wild Apple 12" x 12" Opportunity - (Due August 15) - Not yet

a) Mat and frame the work.

3) Free motion quilting practice. - Done!


I'm rather proud of myself on this one. I actually designed my own FMQ filler motif. It is a combination motif of spirals and two different leaves. I've titled it Spring Vine. 

My take on Marieke Blokland's
mixed media assignment
4) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Done!

The actually piece is more colorful than the picture. For some reason the neon yellow and orange background was zapped of its color when I scanned the picture into the computer. This was another Marieke Blokland assignment. Her style reminds me of Marge Simpson with oversized hair, exaggerated facial features and unexpected colors. My inclination is to tone it down a bit, while still doing the steps of the assignment. One aspect of the assignment was to work in a favorite quote. I chose "A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step," attributed to Chinese philosopher, Laosi.

Will I need the lint brush next week? Probably. Whether I do or I don't I definitely have a few items to keep my week busy and give Lola an excuse to make sure my quilts stay on the guest bed.

1) Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall (Due August 3) 

a) Deliver the quilt to the client.

2) Wild Apple 12" x 12" Opportunity - (Due August 15)

a) Mat and frame the work.

3) Create a minimum of 5 designs for my next piece.


4) Free motion quilting practice.

5) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments.


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, July 11, 2014

Week in Review 2014 - 07/11





Detail from Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

There is nothing more centering for me than a day working in the studio. It is one of the few times that my mind is totally focused. I am engaged. I feel relaxed. I feel I am in the present, neither rehashing the past or fretting over the future. I am so fortunate to have the time, ability and wherewith all to do what I am passionate about. Is it all bliss? Is anything all bliss? Even an ice cream sundae starts out as treat, but may leave one with that "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" tummy rebellion. So it is for me when it comes to quilting. My tummy rebellion is facing, as in facing versus binding, a quilt. 

Yesterday's primary task was to apply the facing to Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall. The problem with facing for me is that no matter what method I try it is a fussy, frustrating experience. Not so, yesterday. This time it went if not smoothly, at least much easier than in times past. What was the difference? Most likely practice, practice and practice.

Another detail, but this time showcasing the marsh
versus the opposite shore.

My favorite tutorial for how to face a quilt is by Susan Brubaker Knapp. I prefer the mitered version. I do two things differently from Susan. First, instead of turning the facing strip under on one edge I fold a 3" or 4" wide strip (depends on the size of the quilt) in half length wise. I like the extra heft two layers of fabric give to the quilt. Second, Susan has you mark the exact length of the quilt on your strip. I only mark one end. Why? Because I have yet to have a measured piece of fabric sew to the length of a quilt exactly. Fabric and quilts stretch when sewn and rarely do they stretch the same amount. I just leave myself a little wiggle room by cutting my strips an 1" or so longer then they need to be.




Facing my commission quilt wasn't all I did this week. Here is how the week went:

1) Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall (Due August 3) 
Little Lake Butte
des Morts in Fall
27" H x 9" W

a) Finish adding the details such as the cattails, branches and leaves. - Done! 
b) Block and square up the quilt. - Done!
c) Start facing the quilt. - Done!

2) Wild Apple 12" x 12" Opportunity - (Due August 15) - Not yet.

a) Mat and frame the work.

3) Free motion quilting practice. - Done!


Starry Night is a combination of stars and crescent moons.
I had lots of fun test driving Starry Night, a quilting motif by Lori Kennedy. I practiced first with a pen and paper. It was difficult for me to get an even sized motif going on paper. I figured the actually free motion quilting would be a disaster. Not so. If I were to use this on an actual quilt I would need more practice. I had difficulty figuring out solutions for awkward spaces. 

4) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Done!

My take on Tamara LaPorte's lesson
on drawing the sacred eye.
Drawing realistic eyes has always eluded me until this week's lesson taught by Tamara LaPorte. She is a marvel at breaking down the different elements in whatever she is having you draw. What can I say? Her style of teaching is how I learn best. 

There is nothing like a successful week to get me revved up for more. Here is the more that I hope to tackle next week:

1) Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall (Due August 3) 

a) Finish facing the quilt.
b) Create and attach the sleeve.
c) Create and attach the label.
d) Deliver the quilt to the client.

2) Wild Apple 12" x 12" Opportunity - (Due August 15)

a) Mat and frame the work.

3) Free motion quilting practice.


4) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments.


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, July 4, 2014

Week in Review 2014 - 07/04


Thread painted fall leaves
before being added to
Little Lake Butte des
Morts in Fall
.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Happy Independence Day to my American readers and happy Friday to the rest of you. What a powerful word independence is. As a grandmother of five under the age of 7 I have watched all but the youngest become independent, at least in their ability to choose what they will or will not wear or say good-bye to diapers. In other words independence can be relative, because all my grandchildren are still dependent on their parents to provide them with food, shelter, transportation and affection. I have no doubt that for now my grandchildren feel more independent than they are in actuality. I feel pretty independent myself as I create my artwork. I can't recall when was the last time I used a pattern that I didn't tweak to make a quilt. Even when I practice FMQ motifs designed by others I can't resist seeing what happens if I do this or that to the original design. This week I am over the top excited about how I chose to create thread painted branches and leaves for my commission quilt. Was it an independent idea? Not really. Did I follow someone else's method? I wouldn't say so. I simply borrowed an idea here another there and then took the plunge. 


1) Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall (Due August 3) 

a) Finish attaching the two tree appliqu├ęs - Done!
b) Start adding the details such as the cattails, branches and leaves. - Done!

I expect I will get some questions on how I made the fall leaves and branches. I'll do my best to guess what you might ask and answer it here:

See http://theboredzombie.com/project/thread-painting-a-beginners-tutorial created by Susan Owenby for basic materials and instruction.

I used a pale green tulle with the Solvy that was recommended. I did NOT use Sulky thread. I prefer to use thread from Superior's King Tut series. These are ALL variegated 40 wt. cotton. When I didn't have the right color Superior thread I use Marathon's polyester and/or rayon thread. The advantage with the Marathon thread is that you can build up the thread more without breaking and it has a wonderful sheen.

I marked just the basic lines on the Solvy for where I wanted the branches and approximately where I would change colors for the leaves. From there I just winged it.

There isn't much difference from FMQ to thread painting. I use only a straight stitch that isn't engaged, since I drop my feed dogs. Most teachers recommend using a zig zag, but I find the straight stitch more intuitive for me. A good YouTube tutorial for watching how to thread paint was created by Nancy Prince. It is: http://www.nancyprince.com/First_Flowers_Workshop.html

My final step will be to attach the thread painting motifs to my quilt. I will do that stitching them to quilt  with a bit more thread. At least that is plan.
Open Leaf with Spiral
This week's FMQ motif found at
the Inbox Jaunt, but modified by
yours truly.

2) Wild Apple 12" x 12" Opportunity - (Due August 15)

a) Mat and frame the work. - Not yet.

3) Free motion quilting practice: - Done!

Lori Kennedy, author of the Inbox Jaunt tends to design quilting motifs that work well in sashings, because they are linear or in an open block, because they are pictorial. I prefer FMQ that doesn't require pre-marking and can fill any shape. This week I played with Lori's Open Leaf Spiral to see if I could break away from the stacked leaves look. If you look at the left side of my work you can see I started to stack the leaves to get the "feel" of the basic leaf and going from left to right and back again. After that I went free form. :)


4) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Done!

I have nothing to share here since the assignment was to watch a video interview. 


I am off to celebrate Independence Day with good friends, good food and good weather! Then I will buckle down again next week and tackle some of the following projects.

1) Little Lake Butte des Morts in Fall (Due August 3) 

a) Start adding the details such as the cattails, branches and leaves. 
b) Block and square up the quilt.
c) Start facing the quilt.

2) Wild Apple 12" x 12" Opportunity - (Due August 15)

a) Mat and frame the work.

3) Free motion quilting practice.


4) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments.


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.