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Less is More

THE LESS IS MORE QUILT. In a previous post, I talked about one of the reasons you have unfinished projects: you’re working on one project but then have a deadline, drop project #1 and finish project #2. So, I dropped everything to make this quilt. My last #doonething in March was to cut out 96 squares, make 48 half-square triangles, and piece the top for a quilt I wanted to enter in the NWA Modern Quilt show (our first). The quilt was juried in but 20 minutes of quilting a day didn’t get it finished in time. I found this wonderful neutral fat-quarter bundle online and it was more than enough fabric for what I needed. 

I like to wash my fabric in order to remove the chemicals. I also think it is easier to cut once the sizing is gone, and it doesn’t make me sneeze and wheeze. The fat quarters did get a little wrinkled and only one piece was cut off-grain but I managed to cut four 8-1/2 inch squares from each. Squares laid out in random order.

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Pairs of squares for half-square triangles.

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I marked the 8-1/2 inch mark with a piece of Master Piece Static Stickers (it comes in 8-1/2×11 sheets). I cannot find this product online; instead, you can mark your cutting line with a piece of masking tape, such as the blue or green painter’s tapes.

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Less is More, before quilting.

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Some straight-line quilting–I started by echoing around the brown arrows.

 

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I was going to add a small border in order to keep the brown points but opted not to. Matchstick quilting can shrink and warp your project quite a bit, and I learned a lot from this project. I stitched around the brown less than/more than signs before starting quilting, but should have stitched in every seam to prevent distortion. I have no idea if I’ll lose the points when I square this up. Draft of my label:

Less is More

Original design using mathematical symbols (less than/more than) to express the phrase, “less is more,”  meaning that a minimalist approach to artistic or aesthetic matters is more effective. Phrase made famous by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but used before that in a Robert Browning poem, “Andrea del Sarto.”

‘Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.’

Kona fabrics, Superior King Tut (variegated neutral) and YLI (earth with black and red) threads. Machine  pieced and straight-line quilted on Janome 6600P.

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I often weave thread ends in as I go, but I wanted to spend the time at my machine finishing the quilting. Instead I wove in ends while binge-watching Death in Paradise on Netflix from the comfort of my recliner. Is binge-watching a hobby or a sickness? I have watched Midsomer Murders at least five times, mostly while piecing. I’m still not sure if I need to block this quilt–will have to consult with my blocking guru, Karen K. I’ll post the finished quilt as soon as it’s, er, finished.

TIP OF THE DAY: When marking fabric, place a piece of sandpaper underneath so the fabric doesn’t stretch or move. Use what ever you have; 400-grit is grit enough.

Next post, my Elefantino quilt.

HUMOUR FOR THE WEEK.

 

 

The Self-Portrait 1 Project

The Self-Portrait #1 Project is finished except for binding and label. The label is on the computer waiting for the page to fill up and I haven’t decided on the binding yet. This was a challenge quilt with my art quilt group. We hope to put all of our self-portraits onto black fabric and perhaps enter it as a group quilt. We’ll see. Progress has been slow with the other members. I was excited about this quilt because I actually had an idea, using a sugar skull rather than a real-life likeness. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. The problems started when I went to quilt this project. I had used Lite Steam-A-Seam II and it was all working out well. I followed the directions for permanent fusing, steaming for 15 seconds. I didn’t realize that it had not fused properly until the needle kept gumming up. Break out the alcohol swabs and one broken needle later. When I went to clean my machine, I noticed that the outside of the bobbin case was gummed up but luckily there was only one bit of goo that went further than that.

goo in machine from fusible

goo in machine from fusible

goo on bobbin case from fusible

goo on bobbin case from fusible

goo cleaned up with alcohol swab

goo cleaned up with alcohol swab

Because the needle was gumming up, some of the quilting was not stellar on the back, especially where I used mono-poly clear–little nests appeared. I just finished the project and it will hang in my studio. In the meantime, I contacted the Warm Company and they told me that the new directions are to steam for 30 seconds. Fine, but my directions didn’t reflect that. Anyway, I’ll get over it and you can benefit. Of course, it always helps to do a trial with any fusible. For Self-Portrait #2 I took scraps of all of my hand dyed fabrics and fused them without much success for whatever reason. I also took leftover flowers and fused them into a little wall hanging and had very little stickiness on my needle. I steamed for 30 seconds on the front of the project (protecting with parchment paper) and then again on the reverse. I used this project to practice matchstick quilting with letters. Here it is–also needs binding and a label. I’m still figuring out how to do lettering.

Matchstick quilting

Matchstick quilting

So back to the self-portrait. I remembered I had some Kreinik iron-on ribbon. I could not find this anywhere so it must be a discontinued item. Originally it was sticky on one side so you could put it in place and then iron it down. I didn’t know if it would fuse and which side had the fusible but at this point it didn’t seem to matter.  I used my small craft iron to outline the green flowers on the face as well as the outside edges of the face, stitched it down for insurance and then cleaned up the fusible afterward. Just use Bo-Nash Iron Clean–works great on your regular iron, too. You can find this on a number of sites including Amazon.

Krienik ribbon

Kreinik iron-on ribbon

Next, I basted the little sunflower petals down so I could pull them back out of the way to free-motion the larger petals in place.

Quilting the sunflower

Quilting the sunflower

After free-motion stitching the small petals down, I fused the brown center. I embellished this with a new product I found on my trip to Paducah: YLI Quilt Highlights. This is a braid that you can sew on flat, or pull one thread to gather it up.  I got a neutral spool (used here), a rainbow spool and one in white that I can dye any color I want. Yeehaw.

http://www.ylicorp.com/News.aspx

YLI Quilt Highlights

YLI Quilt Highlights

Here I basted this down just to see how to sew it–then unsewed it and resewed it to my project. You can also see my practice quilting. I didn’t need much practice–I have made two sunflower quilts previously.

Next I tackled the face. I used a white-on-white fabric that is covered with flowers. I brought out my Tsukineko inks and decided I had better used my Fabrico fabric markers instead–much easier-there were a lot of flowers to color in and I wanted paler colors. I’ll be experimenting more with the inks on Self-Portrait II.

Tsukineko Inks

Tsukineko Inks

Adding details

Adding details

Fabrico markers

Fabrico markers

After I finished all the quilting, I added some Angelina fibers. I did not do any fusing with them but left them loose.  I stuck them under some flower centers and quilted them in place. They remind me of fireworks but one is the planet formerly known as Pluto.

Angelina fibers

Angelina fibers

pluto, crystal amethyst angelina

pluto, crystal amethyst Angelina

Threads, thread holder

Threads, thread holder

I used a lot of threads for quilting. The one on the holder gave me problems until I put it on the horizontal spindle. Some threads are picky that way. Here is the quilting I did on the background.

quilting detail

quilting detail

And here it is all finished.

Self-Portrait/Sugar Skull, quilted/embellished

Self-Portrait/Sugar Skull, quilted/embellished

Reverse

Reverse

I almost forgot–one day as I was listening to space age music and quilting, random thoughts kept running through my head so I finally stopped and wrote them down on a blank page in my Wreck This Journal.

http://www.amazon.com/Wreck-This-Journal-Black-Expanded/dp/0399161945

After I’m gone, when my job here is done, I’ll be buried in my mushroom suit, and weird wildflowers never before seen or named will sprout up along with daisies and Icelandic poppies and wind anemones and Johnny jump ups will play all day long and maybe into the night and Pluto will once again be a planet and you’ll find tan m&ms in your Halloween candy because they taste the best. In my new world there will be eclipses every month and stars will nova every night, everyone will be kind, color blind and rewind. More people will be artists of some kind and have Fun Fridays and Silly Saturdays and stuff like that. 4.30.2016.

I’m going to print this poem out and put it on the back with the label. I really had a lot of fun with this project and tried a lot of new things.

Till next time, embrace your weird.

 

Going organic…

Sometimes I just can’t sew a straight line.  I didn’t realize how crooked my stitching had become until I was halfway through this section so I drew a line with an air soluble marker (purple).  I’m not sure you can see the line in the middle of this section.  If not, you can use your imagination.

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New Applique Tool:  This is Clover’s Fabric Folding Pen.   I’ll talk more about this when I get back to my applique project.   While it just had plain water in the pen, I used it to erase my trial purple marks to make sure they would come out with water in case they didn’t fade away on their own.  When I resumed stitching on the line, I had a very irregular space–very tiny at each end and larger in the middle.  I just sewed between the lines to fill up the space.  This is what I mean by organic quilting.  When things don’t quite work out, you fudge it and call it organic!  Works for me.

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Another handy tool is the sticky note.  Use it as a guide when you don’t have a line or seam line to follow.

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When I finished the two outside white sections, I ended up with a grid in the corner, which is what I had planned.  Sometimes I do think ahead.  Now I only have one section remaining.

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I drew out some simple letters on graph paper, cut them out and traced around them with my chalk pencil.  I also extended some the lines to help keep me on the straight which will be rather important if I want my relief letters to be legible.  I’ll save wonky for another day.  I may or may not finish this today.  I was up for several hours with last night’s thunderstorm so it may be better if I start fresh tomorrow.

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Here is my summertime lunch most days:  my favorite yogurt and granola along with blueberries my sister-in-law sent back from Minnesota.  And speaking of Minnesota blueberries, there are tiny wild blueberries in Holyoke (south of Duluth) which make the most excellent pie.  I love pie (especially for breakfast) but seldom bake or have it in the house.  DH has diabetes and if it’s there, we’ll both eat it.

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So now I’ve decided that I’ll finish this quilt tomorrow, including the double binding, so come back and hit me.  I’m going to run the dishwasher, do dishes and check on the crock pot pork which DH started this morning.  Until then, have a wonderful day and be good to yourself.  You deserve it!

Take a breath and start quilting…

“Take a breath” was a phrase used more than once in the Australian series, “The Code.”  Well done, one season, six episodes.  For Xena fans, Lucy Lawless (from New Zealand) is one of the stars.  I give it five stars.  If you love cyber-hackers and government intrigue, this is for you.

Pardon the brain drain, I almost skipped the rest of my practice session for the Cotton+Steel challenge table runner.  I guess I took a break or slept or something.  I saw some quilts by Jacquie Gering where she did matchstick quilting with letters in relief.  I thought she had a tutorial on this but I cannot find it so I decided to plunge in and figure it out myself.  First I just free-handed “+ poly” and quilted back and forth around the letters.  You can see my marking using the Frixion pen which will disappear with heat (and return if it gets cold enough).  I just went up and down over the top of the plus sign, down the side, and then up and down underneath.  I used a contrasting thread so you could see it more clearly, then switched to neutral thread on the muslin.  Using matching thread makes the lettering more subtle but it still shows up.

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After ironing the marks away, you see the letters in relief.  I left the inside of the “o” unquilted so you can see how more defined the letter is if you quilt inside–see the “p.”  As you can see, it’s much easier to keep a straight line if you mark it or have a line of stitching to go to.  With the blue stitching, you can see that I take a couple of stitches for the turnaround, cranking the needle by hand to keep the shape around the letter’s edge.  The more narrow the quilting the more defined the letter.  Just keep in mind that you want to be fairly consistent with dense quilting throughout the entire project.

So, onto the real thing.  I used white Thermolam batting, a thinner batting often used in clothing projects.  I did not want any loft.  As you can see my little flap is more noticeable now.

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I’ll be doing matchstick quilting throughout this project, with straight lines apprx 1/8-in apart.  I was using up some less expensive cotton thread for practice, which tends to be linty, so I cleaned out the bobbin area, added a drop of oil the night before, put in a new quilting needle and threaded up Superior Tailor Made 27 poly thread.  This is a large cone so I used the cone holder.  I like to quilt with Schmetz quilting needles–they seem to work best in my Janome.  Klasse needles are ever so slightly different in length and did not work as well for me.  I think a lot of things are geared for Bernina these days.  I still prefer my Janome and dread the day when it gives out on me.  I hope I won’t have to get a job to buy a new one.

For the first section, I stitched down one long edge, across a short edge, up the other long edge and across the other short edge.  This gave a little design at each end.  The photo is from my practice piece so you can see it better.  I have my stitch length set at 3.0, which translates to apprx 8-stitches per inch.  TIP:  Focus on the foot edge rather than the needle and be sure to check the back to make sure you have no tension problems before you go too far.

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Next, I tackled the larger blue section.  I marked a two-inch diamond grid with chalk, using the 30-degree line on my ruler and then sewed on these lines.  The grid stitching helped to baste this section evenly and prevent stitching in unwanted folds, which would probably occur if you started at one end and went across to the other end.  Then I started again in the middle, stitching a vee-formation between the grid lines.

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Center stitching.

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Okay, I’m really liking this matchstick quilting.   When you get close to a grid line, you need to eyeball the last row of stitching.  I was zipping along using the edge of the walking foot and the stitching was too close in one section and too far away in another.  This did not show as much on the front so I would not necessarily have had to rip it out and restitch, but I did.  Now, you are not supposed to point out your mistakes, but you don’t have to make the SAME mistake as I.  I’m sure you’re perfectly capable of making your own!

Next I stitched the pieced section.  It is interesting that even with contrasting thread, the quilting does not take away from the print fabrics.  I finally stitched navy on white, even though I had slowed my stitching way down to a crawl to prevent that.  C’est la vie.  I also had a little trouble with backstitching.  I hope that newer models have an on-off button for backstitching as sometimes you need both hands to hold the fabric.  Aagghh.

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So I only have the two white sections left to quilt before finishing up the bottom blue section, which will finish spelling out the name of this project:  “Cotton+Steel+Poly.”  Poly wanna cracker?  Bwawk.  I’m so outta here.  Stay tuned for the end of this project.  Spoiler alert:  I’m going to make a double-fabric binding, navy on the front, white on the back.  And I’m here to tell you, this technique does not lend itself to bias binding.  I did it for my curvy placemats and it was really tedious to sew on as it was no longer a nice stretchy bias.  Later, dudes and dudettes.

Practice does not make perfect…

But it’s a step in the right direction.  I decided to quit trying to be perfect when I reached 40.  I often say I just don’t care but that is seldom true.  I do care, about doing the best job I can at any given point in time.  Some days, face it–my best is pitiful.  These days, with countless interruptions in my life, it is mostly about getting the job done.  I have my challenge quilt layered and started practicing some straight quilting.  I have seen this termed matchstick quilting.  The lines are about 1/8-inch apart.  I used a contrasting thread so it would photograph and also to see if I want to use contrasting thread in this project.  If I can tweak the tension, I just may.  This table runner will not be entered in a contest; it will probably be donated in our next Maker’s Faire or some such venue.  There is some double stitching because I like to use up almost empty bobbins when I practice quilting before working on the real thing.  This 2×27-inch strip took about 40-minutes, which gives me an idea of how long it will take to quilt if I continue with the matchstick.  I used my walking foot, which helps to feed all the layers evenly.

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I took a class last year where we practiced straight-line quilting using a free-motion foot.  I got good at going in two directions; backwards and to the left, not so much.  This project has a deadline of June 16 so I hope to finish by next week.  The group quilt (the orange leaves) had a soft deadline of June 5.  I am declaring right now that I won’t even try to make that which is no problem because I don’t think anyone else is going to be finished then either.  Overachievers–just stay home.  Heehee.

Since this is short, I will regale you with a photo of my pets, Andy and Sweetie, taken when I was working with random scraps last year.  They like to get in on the action, too.  Remember to put your flag out for the weekend to honor our fallen military.

NinjaBears

NinjaBears