Blog Archives

Things to do when you can’t quilt (Part 2)…

Day 4 with my machine being in the shop. Yesterday I cut up a bunch of my free-motion quilting practice sandwiches into cage mats for the local animal shelter. Sometimes I make a large sandwich, either when I haven’t quilted for awhile and need a lot of practice or a design isn’t coming easily. Here is #52. When there’s enough room, I add a doodle when I sign the cage mats, which I call Ugly Snugglies. They’re ugly but they can give a little cushion to the bottom of the wire cages in the animal shelter. I was practicing a border design for my redwork quilt and writing for a cosmetic bag for a friend, the one with my free-motion wienie dog. The writing was too large so I left it off.

Ugly Snuggly #52

Ugly Snuggly #52

A couple years ago, I decided to practice meandering on a large sandwich because I just didn’t seem to be able to do this with ease. Now I can do it with ease but why would I? It looks like a mattress cover and there are so many other designs to try. It can still be useful for a utility quilt (something you’ll throw on the ground for a picnic) or a donation quilt when you need to finish something in a hurry for a good cause. After you master meandering, try making the design really small (usually referred to as stippling)–it can make a trapunto shape pop up quite well.

Meandering

Meandering

After cutting up some squares and rectangles, I rounded the corners and used one of my zigzag stitches around the edge. This stitch has a straight stitch to the left of the zigzag–makes a sturdy edging. Here are some designs I have practiced for quilts during the last three years.

Zigzag edge

Zigzag edge

Sometimes I also zigzag some small pieces together to make one mat.

Combining small quilted pieces

Combining small quilted pieces

Here I was trying all kinds of motifs for my self portrait.

Giant flower, wavy grid

Giant flower, wavy grid

Layered flower, Wandering clover

Layered flower, Wandering clover

The layered flower, wandering clover and leaf border/frame designs were all used in Waiting for Spring. I also practiced using a twin needle but my needle broke rather quickly so I gave it up.

Leaf border, leaf frame

Leaf border, leaf frame

Twin-needle meander

Twin-needle meander

All-over feathers

All-over feathers

I used all-over feathers for an entire quilt (String Theory 1).

Ideas for Christmas quilts.

Christmas meander

Christmas meander

Christmas, spider web

Christmas, spider web

More Christmas designs.

Christmas writing, motifs

Christmas writing, motifs

Lately I’ve been using unloved fabrics for the backing on my quilt sandwiches.

Unwanted fabric for backing

Unwanted fabric for backing

Ugly backing fabric

Ugly backing fabric

I ended up with 20 cage mats in various sizes so I’ll donate them next time I’m up that way.

It’s another nice day here and  I have a fresh battery in my camera so I think I’ll hit the nature trail for awhile. I put on over 10,000 steps yesterday, which really surprised me. A lot more fun than 45-minutes on the treadmill. I hope you’re beginning to enjoy some fall weather where you are. Maybe I’ll have a message to pick up my machine when I get back! Hope so. Otherwise I’m going to have to start cleaning cupboards… I have a new polish a friend recommended. I’ll let you know how it works (unless I actually get back to my quilting)!

Things to do when you can’t quilt…

Day One: Machine acting up with 7-1/2 presents left on border of Christmas table runner #1 and both outside borders on #2. Start cleaning house; find out vacuum and floor steamer still work.

7-1/2 presents to go

7-1/2 presents to go

Spiral and present motifs

Spiral and present motifs

Day Two: Take machine to shop; finish cleaning house, including bathrooms. Clean deck window; search for suction cups; no luck.

Day Three: Find suction cups; hang bird sun catcher brought back from Colorado by daughter. Maketh me happy.

Bird suncatcher

Bird suncatcher

Think about doing some Itajime (folded/clamped resist shibori) with pre-reduced indigo. Nah.

Itajime folded/clamped resist

Itajime folded/clamped resist

Itajime folded/clamped resist

Itajime folded/clamped resist

Trim up my free-motion practice sandwiches; tomorrow I can zigzag the edges and then donate them as Ugly Snugglies  (cage mats) for the local animal shelter. (Stay tuned for Day Four.) Go to DMV with daughter; stop by Bentonville Convention Center and photograph Bentonville Square, a prize-winning slice quilt made by the Van Go-Go Girls, appraised for $3000.00. FOR SALE.

Bentonville Square

Bentonville Square

Stop by grocery store for dinner. No word on machine yet. Stop by Birdsong Garden and Landscaping to get picture of blue gnome I’ve been watching from highway. Find more chainsaw art. These guys have personality and attitude. Proprietor is away getting new flowers. Will go back for ornamental cabbage and a look inside.

Birdsong Gardens/Landscaping Sign

Birdsong Gardens/Landscaping Sign

Birdsong Gardens/Landscaping

Birdsong Gardens/Landscaping

Blue Gnome

Blue Gnome

Totem

Totem

Yellow/red Gnome

Yellow/red Gnome

Gnomeling

Gnomeling

Morel Totem

Morel Totem

Anxious Gnome

Anxious Gnome

Flower w/Bucky

Flower w/Bucky

Stop by the gallery, drop off packing for shipping pottery; check to see if trail is open yet; it’s not. Take pictures of haunted house instead.

Haunted House

Haunted House

Enter if you dare

Enter if you dare

D Block

D Block

Vulture

Vulture

Gun turret

Gun turret

Gargoyle

Gargoyle

Fence

Wooden Fence

Phantom 13 Bus

Phantom 13 Bus

Decide to go for walk on trail with camera. Go up on mountain bike trail; safely maneuver steep climb up and down. Take a tumble when I step off to get the last trumpet vine–basically just sat down in gravel. The step was twice as deep as I anticipated. Rewarded by both herons.

Bike ramp

Bike ramp

Hidey hole

Hidey hole

Fungus

Fungus

Splintered tree

Splintered tree

Ledge

Cave

Last of the Trumpet Vine

Last of the Trumpet Vine

Ubiquitous litter

Ubiquitous litter

p1070018

Mama heron

p1070033

Papa heron

p1070022

Maybe my machine will be ready tomorrow. If not, I’ll have to find something else to do. It’s finally cooler out so maybe it will be Tanyard Nature Trail for me.

Improvisational Piecing Tutorial

I thought I would be back to my placemat project by now, but got a little carried away with the leftover scraps so I thought I would do a little tutorial on improvisational piecing. When I cut out a 13-inch circle from my lily fabric, I had a big hole and a lopsided frame. After piecing together my large scraps, this still wasn’t quite large enough to fit inside the circle with a seam allowance so I added three more strips to the center of three sides. I like the way this looked, so pressed down a 1/4-inch seam around the circle cut-out (lily fabric).

Auditioning piecework with lily fabric

Auditioning piecework with lily fabric frame

Adding three more pieces to sides and top

Adding three more pieces to sides and top

A note about improv piecing–you can end up with some bulky seams so use a dressmaker’s tip: steam the seams that need flatting, and press a piece of wood on the damp fabric. I placed an old cutting mat underneath for a firmer surface. I don’t have a professional wood piece so I just used a scrap of wood I had.

Pressing block

Pressing block

I use a wood block but you can see what a professional uses, a tailor’s clapper:

http://www.nancysnotions.com/product/tailors+clapper.do

Next, I centered the pieced circle within the frame with 3/4-inch sequin pins and hand appliqued the edges. I didn’t have any dark purple silk thread so I used Superior Bottom Line–works great for applique. I guess you could call this reverse applique without the work (although it took me several tries to get this pinned evenly)!

Pinned and ready for applique

Pinned and ready for applique

Man in the Moon with Lilies

Man in the Moon with Lilies

And finally, your tutorial on improv piecing. Sometimes, I straighten then edges before piecing, but you don’t have to–just sew them together then trim the seam allowance and press.

Stitch two pieces together, trim

Stitch two pieces together, trim, press

Stitch two more pieces together

Stitch two more pieces together

Nest seams, sew together

Nest seams, sew together

Add another unit

Add another unit

And another

And another

Press toward unpieced unit when possible

Press toward unpieced unit when possible

I trimmed this edge–just too much going on for me to see where to sew.

Trim if there is too much noise

Trim if there is too much noise

I didn’t feel like figuring out how to add a piece to this angle so I just folded the edge under and stitched it to in place. This is called texture and just plain laziness on my part. Whatever works, eh?

Fold under angled edge, stitch

Fold under angled edge, stitch

Stitch down, rather than piecing

Stitch down, rather than piecing, trim away excess

Add a triangle to form a corner

Add a triangle to form a corner

Add some more strips to finish

Add some more strips to finish to desired size

Which way is up?

Which way is up?

How about this?

How about this?

Or this?

Or this?

Actually I’m going with the first one. I thought this was too ugly for a potholder so decided to play around with some embellishing. After quilting in the ditch at almost every stinking seam (I’ll tell you where I learned that next time), I decided to play with couching yarn, beading, and more quilting. I don’t always wait till Friday to have Fun.

But wait, there’s more. I also made a new name tag. TIP: If you round the corners, satin stitching the edge is much easier.

Piece a square from scraps

Piece a square from scraps

Matchstick quilting, rounding the corners

Matchstick quilting, rounding the corners

Satin stitch the edges

Satin stitch the edges

My job here is done. Till next time–

UFOs, WIPs, and PIGS?

Translation: UnFinished Objects, Works In Progress, and Projects in Grocery Sacks. Jodi Barrows says that PIGS=stink. Okay. We’ll start with a project I put in the FAIL pile. This was a challenge: make an 8×8 quilt using a Haiku. So I wrote a Haiku and made a quilt that was exactly 8-1/2×8-1/2. Then I couched some cool yarn over the quilting lines and hated it. So one day I removed the yarn and put it away. This week I embroidered a running stitch over the quilt lines and called it good. It is hanging in my studio and I did what is usually considered a no-no–I pinned the quilt to the wall with two sequin pins. Hey, it’s my quilt and my wall. My favorite part is the fabric button, made with silk scraps and silver thread. One of the crystals fell off but I found it months later–it had fallen inside my chair and fell out when we had to adjust a spring.

Art Haiku, Haiku art

Art Haiku, Haiku art

So my problem Christmas quilt is finished except for sewing on the quilt sleeve for hanging (properly). Oh, and I need to make a label but I’ve got a sheet of labels in the works so we won’t fret about that. When I finished quilting the border, I noticed that one of the tree blocks was really puffy, fluffy? A suggestion online was to steam it. Scary, but I did it and it worked. This is by far the worst quilt I have ever made. It wasn’t square, so I laid plastic on the bed, put my large cutting mat on top of the quilt, and sprayed the borders, then tugged and pulled and patted and measured. After drying for 24 hours, it is much better. When I pull it out again at Christmas, I will be joyous. I post a photo when I hang it in my dining room in a day or so.

Block before steaming

Block before steaming

Block after steaming

Block after steaming

Blocking borders

Blocking borders

I have started beading my second self-portrait. Here is day one. I’m using a seed bead mix, three beads at a time, tying a knot every three groups.

Beading, Day 1

Beading, Day 1

I am almost finished with my first self-portrait. I decided to face the edge rather than making a binding. Pretty soon I’ll have that label page filled up!

Facing a quilt

Facing a quilt

It’s hard for me to resist a challenge.

I Can't Resist a Challenge, 45x41

I Can’t Resist a Challenge, 45×41, Charlotte Noll

Our modern guild has a challenge: Too precious to cut (but we will). Here’s the fabric I’m going to cut up. Deadline is October.

Lily Fabric

Lily Fabric

In the meantime, I’m cleaning my studio. I’ve had a bin in my way for several weeks, using it as a tripod stand, trying to do a new selfie and just about did a triple gainer yesterday so it needs to go. I ended up with three selfies but I’m not thrilled with any of them. #1 is out of focus, forgot to take off my glasses for #2, and #3 is meh. Audrey Hepburn I’m not. I won’t bore you.

I’m taking a couple courses through Digital Photography School (dPS) with the goal of being able to take decent photos without using Auto Focus. We’ll see how it goes. I also joined Adobe Creative Cloud for a year to try to learn how to use Photo Shop and Lightroom. If you enjoy photography, sign up for dPS free newsletter with weekly tips and challenges. They also occasionally have specials on their courses and other offers–sorry, the summer one just ended but check them out. They’re in Australia. G-day, mates.

http://digital-photography-school.com/

 

 

 

Fun Friday

It’s Fun Friday and I can’t decide whether to do whatever I want or to continue working on my Christmas quilt.  I only have two blocks left to do echo quilting on and then the borders, plus I need to figure out how I want to bind it: get more red fabric that matches the border or use scraps of all the other fabrics I used. Here’s my latest block. I was messing with my camera and found a “Happy” setting for color. I thought this was pretty funny but then I am easily amused.

Block 14

Block 14

I made a video yesterday of me quilting. It wasn’t bad except that about 90 percent of it shows my old lady arms and covers up what I’m quilting. I was surprised that I didn’t hate my voiceover. I have an upper Midwestern accent that just will not go away (think Fargo). It was actually kind of fun and I’ll make another one. I’ll be borrowing a video camera from my daughter. My camera worked but I used up the battery rather quickly. And no, you will not see this video but you will see one at some future date. I’ll be wearing long sleeves or maybe I could get one of those faux tattooed sleeves. Here is a still. The color got a little off at some point.

P1050847

I was playing around with a new selfie, wearing my patriotic infinity scarf on my head and channeling the Statue of Liberty, with two rows of a Quilt of Valor in the background..

New Statue of Liberty

New Statue of Liberty

New Selfie 6.22.16

New Selfie 6.22.16

I also started teaching a young girl to sew and decided that we should buy fabric of her choice next week and sew a pillowcase. Have you made the magic pillowcase that you turn inside out and there are no raw edged seams? I’ll talk about that next week. Till then, have a great weekend, a Fun Friday, and work on something that makes your heart sing.

Fun Friday

Some days I just have way too much fun.  I try to have one day a week where I just play or go on an Artist’s Date–generally Fun Friday. I had in mind to photograph a special outdoor exhibit at Crystal Bridges and then spend the afternoon playing in my studio with paint sticks, dye and colored pencils. I never made it back to the studio.

First I went to Crystal Bridges to photograph some 15-foot scultpures, The Four Seasons.  These are fiberglass sculptures by Philip Haas, which he based on the 1635 Italian Renaissance paintings (The Four Seasons) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The sculptures are set in the woods on the Orchard Trail, with the exception of Winter, which is next to the lower entrance to the museum. Here is a distant view of Spring to give you an idea of the setting and then some close-ups.

Spring (After Arcimboldo)

Spring (After Arcimboldo) by Philip Haas, 2011

Spring (After Arcimboldo), 2011

Spring (After Arcimboldo), 2011, Philip Haas

Spring, detail

Spring, detail

Spring, detail

Spring, detail

Spring, detail

Spring, detail

Summer (After Arcimboldo), 2011

Summer (After Arcimboldo), 2011, Philip Haas

Summer, detail

Summer, detail

Summer, detail

Summer, detail

Autumn (After Arcimboldo), 2011

Autumn (After Arcimboldo), 2011, Philip Haas

Autumn, detail

Autumn, detail

Autumn, detail

Autumn, detail

Winter (After Arcimboldo), 2011

Winter (After Arcimboldo), 2011, Philip Haas

Winter, detail

Winter, detail

Winter, detail

Winter, detail

Inside, we could see the smaller models of these sculptures. It was such a beautiful day and the museum was busy with school and church groups from Tulsa and Lenexa (Kansas), with more streaming in so I photographed a few things and went back outside.

Spring (After Arcimboldo) Maquette

Spring (After Arcimboldo) Maquette, 2010, Philip Haas

Summer (After Arcimboldo) Maquette

Summer (After Arcimboldo) Maquette, 2010, Philip Haas

Autumn (After Arcimboldo) Maquette

Autumn (After Arcimboldo) Maquette, 2010, Philip Haas

Winter (After Arcimboldo) Maquette, 2010

Winter (After Arcimboldo) Maquette, 2010, Philip Haas

Interesting that Haas used “maquette,” French for scale model rather than plastico or modello, the Italian. Regardless, these sculptures are exciting to me for their large scale and attention to detail.

But my fun did not end here.  See my next post today for notes from the trails. Sometimes I just don’t want the day to end but there is always tomorrow, right?

 

Poor Rubber Duckie

Poor Rubber Duckie didn’t get the Gray Malin aerial photo in time and didn’t realize it’s once again SHARK WEEK on the Discovery Channel.   Can this be the end for Rubber Duckie?

Rubber Ducky Aerial Photo

Rubber Duckie Aerial Photo

Rubber Ducky and the Shark Attack

Rubber Duckie and the Shark Attack

Crystal Bridges, still life, and burgers

My daughter and I went to Crystal Bridges a couple weeks ago and ate lunch at Eleven (the restaurant). We sat at Table 11—I loved the salt and pepper shakers.

Lunch at Eleven

Lunch at Eleven

The restaurant is participating in Sutter Home’s Build a Better Burger contest.   http://www.sutterhome.com/build-a-better-burger-recipe-contest/rules#

The idea is to photograph your meal and post it to Instagram. We’re not on Instagram so I’ll just share it here.

Crystal Bridges Build a Better Burger

Crystal Bridges Build a Better Burger

We also viewed the new exhibit, American Encounters: The Small Treasures of Still Life; here are two interesting still life paintings. The first represents a practice during the Civil War of children giving apples to passing soldiers. Fruit Pieces, Apples on Tin Cups, 1864, William Sidney Mount.

Fruit Piece: Apples on Tin Cups, 1864

Fruit Piece: Apples on Tin Cups, 1864

The other is a depiction of currency during the economic downturn at the time—even then, the government frowned on any realistic representation of currency. The central bill is for 10 cents. Just imagine if we used currency instead of coin for a dime.

Small Change, 1887

Small Change, 1887

John Haberle signature

John Haberle signature

There’s a room off from the exhibit with items allowing you to compose your own still life and draw or photograph it. There is also an electronic display that allows you to make a still life. Here is mine, titled Flying Objects.

Flying Objects

Flying Objects

Lobster placement ...

Lobster placement …

Lastly, we viewed the new acquisition, Flag, Jasper Johns, 1983, encaustic on silk flag on canvas (11-5/8 in x 17-1/2 in).

Flag, 1983

Flag, 1983

Stay tuned for one more post–then I think I’ll take a few days off and get caught up around the house.  Have a great week.

Rubber Duckie You’re the One…

I belong to Pinterest.  This winter when I just couldn’t do much of anything, I spent an inordinate amount of time filling different boards.  I found a photographer who does aerial shots, sometimes using a lot of life preservers.  One day, being me, I thought maybe I could duplicate this in miniature so I borrowed a rubber duckie from my daughter and got some Lifesavers.  My daughter and I were brainstorming one day and laughed ourselves silly with the idea of using the toilet, but I opted not to do that (you can thank me now or you can thank me later).  First off, the lifesaver candies do not float and of course you want to unwrap them in advance because they will melt in a short time, especially the hard candy ones.  So here are my aerial shots, ala Gray Malin.  https://www.graymalin.com/

P1010567P1010568

Okay, that’s it for today.  It’s time for some exercise and then dinner.

It’s easy being green

Green was popping up everywhere last week.  This is 2.5 pounds of packing paper that came in a box of late Christmas presents.  All I can think of is a papier mache dragon.  Where’s the chicken wire?

P1010523

Then I found a newcomer in the common area (Queen Anne’s Lace).  Some people here complain about them growing on the side of the road, but they are one of my favorites.  They dry well for floral arrangements.  They also do not bloom until August in Minnesota.

P1010535

The vines are incredible here, especially in years when we get rain after June 1.  We have several varieties including Virginia Creeper–I haven’t learned the difference between that and the poison oak yet.  I guess they can become a nuisance and invasive, but I’m glad they cover the scraggly looking black walnut trees.  There seems to be a line of demarcation between here and Missouri as I don’t notice vines growing there on our trips north.

P1010536P1010539P1010540

But wait, there’s more.  I redid the green portion of my orange slice–it needed to be longer and I didn’t have enough fabric to just add on so I ripped the piecing out and cut up 3-inch squares of two green fabrics and pieced them back together.  I added a 2-inch strip to every other row so I wouldn’t have to match up seams and pressed all the seams open to make it lie as flat as possible.  Chain piecing (reminds me of prayer flags):

P1010524

P1010525P1010526

One more green item.  I took a personality test some years back and I ended up in the green category, green meaning that I fit in with five percent of the population.  It’s a wonder that I get along with so many people being that 95% of the population most likely think I’m weird.  Why be normal?

In an effort to do something on my orange slice, I decided to make a fiber leaf.  I took all of my otherwise useless orange scraps and cut them with the rotary cutter.  When you do this, be sure to put your other hand in your pocket or use a wooden stylus to hold the fabric.

P1010530

Then I used a piece of cheese cloth as a base and added fibers and threads from my orange collection.  (I usually throw a piece of cheese cloth in the container when I dye fabrics.)  On top of that I put in some gold thread for a little sparkle.

P1010550P1010529

Finally I sandwiched it all between two pieces of heavy duty water-soluble stabilizer, stitched around the edges to hold it together, traced the leaf shape with a line of stitching, and then free-motion stippled the entire piece.  I finished the edges with satin-stitching, rinsed out the stabilizer and let it dry overnight.  I don’t know if I’ll actually use this leaf in my slice but it will be used somewhere.

P1010533

I’m couching some orange cotton yarn scraps for veins.

P1010560

One of the Cotton+Steel fabrics on my design wall was really bothering me so I sewed the ends together to make this eyeless creature.  Then I started sewing the other scraps together in coordinated subsets.  This may sound constructive but it was actually an avoidance maneuver.

P1010551P1010554

I still do not know why I have had so much trouble being excited about my orange slice.  Perhaps because it was such slow going with all the tiny pieces.  Now that I have added slime green and larger leaves, I find it not quite so onerous.  Unfortunately, I will have to replace the green.  I used some of my hand dyed fabrics and even after starching, I cannot turn under a crisp, smooth edge so these will have to be raw-edge appliques.  Here is my wall of shame with experiments, rejects and mistakes–there’s another quilt here somewhere.

P1010555

I flipped the large orange leaf the wrong way so I’ll just use it on the bottom.

P1010561

And here is the bottom half of the slice so far with faux wrought iron pieces that will cover the seams.  I need to design a couple more leaves–I’m thinking Monstera (has natural holes) and Alocasia (has heavy white veining).

P1010563

Well it’s off to the races for the day.  I hope it’s a great one for you.