Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

Busy Busy Busy…….Two of Seven…..

So it’s a crazy time in the studio right now – 7 projects, five of which are big ones. Two deadlines coming up this next Monday for photography…see, Kathy Nida – I’m calling the photographer ahead of time to get myself to the deadline!

Here are the first two of the seven….I’ve been quilting baby quilts for a friend who works at the middle school we both did, me back in the mid-seventies. You can see the last baby quilt (before all the deadlines hit) here. I enjoy doing them, we usually get a free lunch together, and it gives me a chance to practice my free-motion skills – kind of like practicing free throws before you need them for the big game. You can see the children’s literature theme – the books usually stay the same, and the colors change to the new mom’s preference. ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran. PS – thank you, Superior Threads!

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

Now for the next project – I decided to make quilts for my great-nieces and great-nephews when they turned 13. You can see Gracie Mae’s quilt from two years ago here. Now it’s Gavin’s turn, and I did another “modern” quilt with the colors he wanted. Again, a great chance to practice design and free motion quilting. In looking at the one two years ago, I can see the improvement in my skills. In two years I owe two new birthday quilts.

Love the backing – perfect for an adolescent boy!

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

I really wanna learn to use rulers like Judy Madsen…..

On to “Eruption” and the “Threads of Resistance” quilts…….

Art in 2016 – Part 2 Review – Small Works

A lot of smaller work was started, finished, and revised this year – part of the need to create more pieces, and part to experiment with new ideas. We also tried more framing (pretty successful) and mounting on canvas (very successful, and not that all expensive). The biggest issue seemed to be people didn’t know what to do with small wall hangings or table-toppers. By framing them we are leading our customers to see the piece on a wall, looking like artwork. This is also working well for galleries and stores with small spaces.

The “Chocolate Box” piece on the left was done some 18 years ago as part of a challenge on the QuiltArt list to create an 8 x 8 piece with the theme of “brown.” I pulled all kinds of browns from my stash, including some marbled fabrics, and then I zigzagged them together with the idea of creating a “Whitman’s Sampler.” I have always thought it looked very cute. I rediscovered it this summer, adding batting and backing, variegated thread in a more prominent zigzag, put on a binding, and mounted it on fabric. Lots of good feedback on the piece.

Another piece that saw framing was a small piece of marbled poly-satin that a friend (Suzan Drury of Saltwater Systems) added glitter to at least 10 years ago. Loved it, but it didn’t translate into something someone would want to buy – so on a whim I added batting and backing and then quilted it – thus “Pond 3” – a favorite topic. I learned to do sand dollars as part of a tutorial from Lori Kennedy (theinboxjaunt.com), so you will see clam shells, sea urchins, and sand dollars throughout the small piece. It looks quite striking. One thing I learned in the framing process was to move to lighter-colored frames to keep a piece from feeling constrained.

this year saw the debut of a new series – “Leftovers.” The idea for this came about when we would clean the marbling tray after a session. There were wonderful designs of leftover paint as we emptied the carrageenan. We started saving some small pieces to capture to designs – all of which are very organic and “earth strata.” Two pieces made their debut at Phoenix Books in Essex as part of a rotating display of work by the Essex Art League. There are LOTS more to come – all of which need me to stare at a piece for a while to determine how it wants to be stitched. They are all simply framed and look almost like photographs.

 

Leftovers 1: Sunrise

Before stitching on From Above:

Ultrasuede marbles wonderfully. Over the past couple of years we have been doing yards of this for Bead My Love to sell at the various bead and gem shows. We get to keep a few pieces for ourselves, and this year I finally attacked quilting one – with some interesting lessons….the fabric feels like suede, but it doesn’t translate to a puffiness when quilting (note to self: use extra batting for the next piece). Also, the various colors didn’t show well, which is why I went with Superior Threads New Brytes yellow – a thicker thread. this is a 12 x 12 piece of ultrasuede. Introducing “Partly Sunny, Chance of Storms.”

Partly Sunny, Chance of Storms

One more piece – we also started marbling flowers and leaves from the silk flower sections of the craft stores – another way to use up left-over paint in the marbling tray. Here’s “Autumn,” a collage of some marbled silk leaves. Covered canvas, 8 x 10 inches.

More next time as I continue to review the year. Comments welcome!

Work in Progress Wednesday….The UFO’s

I have been working on a guest blog post on using marbled fabrics in quilts, and it occurred to me to look at some of the more traditional quilts I have done to inspire people. Well, turns out most of them are UFOs…….so here’s a look at what I still need to quilt – now that I have some really good free motion skills. I’m really inspired to start working on these….after the patterns are finished…..

Needs to be taken apart so I can determine why there is the fold there…..The fabrics worked so well!

Known as my origami quilt…..complete with pins…..

One of the first quilts I really started to expand my thinking….(forgive the thumb…).

Gotta think about how to quilt this one……going to definitely quilt the marbled blocks.

And…..here’s part of my October FMQ challenge – LOVE LOVE LOVE how this is turning out! I have a few more things I would like to do to this piece, so maybe it will be finished by next week Wednesday. It’s a combination of a lot of ideas.

I have some really cool ideas for using the trapunto technique on marbled fabric…going to be the next piece.

Selling on Etsy……

So the Etsy shop was on hiatus while we went to Seattle and back. I’ve added lots of new fabrics in cotton and basically restocked the store. Now, we have had some movement within the store. Certainly more this past year than totally since I opened the shop. But I feel like there is so much more I can do. I need to get the links done to my TAFA (Textile and Fiber Arts list) profile, and just generally think about how I can market this. By the end of the month I expect to have silks and some other specialty fabrics in the shop.

Ebay has been great for small pieces of fabrics and remnant bags. In fact, remnants have been the big seller on eBay, so we’ll keep it that way. I will use Etsy for the specialty fabrics, and the fabrics that are more expensive. This is one of the ways I feel we can specialize, and at the same time differentiate product. I need to do some reading on getting an Etsy store to be productive, so that is one of my goals for the rest of this month. By the end of May I want to have a couple of pattern kits in the store, complete with fabric. I have two of the samples made, and I am ready to start writing the pattern, as well as complete the remaining two samples. That’s my May goal.

I have sold a couple of small quilts in the store, so I should think about increasing a few of those, especially around the holidays. Speaking of holidays, I have not been able to take advantage of buying for specific days…and Mother’s Day is coming up. I need to think about how to incorporate that.

All that said, here’s a look at the fabrics waiting for you and your projects, be they quilts, wearable art, or applique. Perfect for that creative person you know!!

 

 

Monday Marketing

 

 Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness…..and I could go on! What an amazing four days of art we just had….and we did quite a bit of marketing along the way. We just returend from Road 2 California – my first large quilt show since Market in 2003, and hubby’s first large quilt show. Two days of amazing quilts (photos to follow this week, after I get myself reoriented to basic life here….), plus a day at the Getty Museum – and coping with I-405….interesting experience there……

One of the best things I did in preparation for the show was bring three really great fat quarters with me, just in case someone was “interested” in seeing marbled fabric. One fat quarter went to the “quilt royalty” that was at the show, and one went to Susan Else, the guest artist – she will definitely have something different to use in her sculptures.

It was really helpful as we were looking at some of the cool tools to pull out the actual fabric and ask questions very specific to its use. This was particularly true at the Pellon booth, as we were talking we began to realize that if we are to take our fiber work to the next level, we need to seriously consider what is used in between the layers. We looked at embroidery machines, as I really would like to include some machine embroidery in the new pieces, and we had a fascinating discussion with the Brother people that could potentially lead to some licensing opportunities.

I collected a lot of business cards, as there was either a really interesting tool or embellishment I want to share. Hardly any book dealers, which is why I may need to consider Market this year or next. Speaking of books….I got home to about 300 emails, one of which was a request for photos to be in a book. That’s definitely a follow-through for this week. Renewed my Quilt Show membership so I can keep up with what’s happening in the field.

Interesting marketing observations. One company with really interesting hand-painted fabric doesn’t have a website. They only sell at shows. They don’t want to photograph fabric so people can see exactly what they are going to buy. I understand that; that’s precisely why there are some online venues that won’t take us, because they feel the need to photograph every piece of fabric. That’s why we sell on eBay and Etsy – what you see is what you get. We have a note on our ordering page on our website about why there aren’t pictures. We don’t get many orders off the website, but that’s okay, because we have other venues. No hand-marbled fabrics at the show, but there was a booth with commercial marbled fabric; nice line of fabric, much more subtle than what has been released by major companies in the last few years. Lots of quilts made up – using a stained glass approach – using the marbled fabric. Interesting to see.

Some booths had absolutely no information, beyond a business card with only an email. I tried making notes, but I figured there’s no way I’d be sharing that information. No web presence, and no pictures allowed to let people know what was available. Hopefully they make enough doing shows to make it worth their while. We couldn’t do that; the press of making fabric for our Seattle trip is enough.

It’s probably the most fun to put names and faces to cyber contacts and to ooh and aah at the gorgeous artwork. We went through the quilts twice, making sure we didn’t miss anything, and trying to find time to just enjoy the quality workmanship. I wouldnt have been able to take this amount of time had I not been retired…..

And after all that, as I was perusing and cleaning out emails, I stumbled across this older email that I hadn’t read, from resident web guru Suzan. I know there are more applications to marketing than meets the eye, but since we artists rely on our hands to make our art, this seems interesting food for thought. A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design.

Stay tuned – lots of pictures in the works!!!

Day One, Season 3

  I chose my “Explosion” piece for today because that’s the kind of excitement I feel starting this new season three. Seasons one and two of Cocreating Our Reality were eye-opening and exciting, and for the last few days I have been building up to starting a new journey today. First, I am so blessed to be retired and able to work on art when and where I want to, for as long as I want to. I get to spend every day with my hubby, and life is pretty much wonderful. Health problems – of course, who doesn’t have them at our age. But – that’s not stopping me from living a great life.

I discovered over the last two seasons when it was time to evaluate my goals, that I hadn’t really stretched myself – or thought big enough. So I have been pondering that for the last week or so. What is it I actually want to do?

First and foremost, kind of came to me last night in the moments before sleep, is probably the one most on my mind. I need to take this season and concentrate on me. It sounds selfish, but it isn’t. I have health issues that really need to be addressed, and for so many years they went to the side as other things – students, work, hubby – took their place. If I expect to be as creative for as long as I want, and get out and be politically active, and write – do all the things I want to – than I need to focus on my health. So that is goal number one for this season: take the cholesterol medicine, take my vitamins, watch what I eat, get out regularly and exercise, track my food intake, get some yoga teachings, get my blood readings where they need to be. I actually started thinking this way a few days ago, and I’m pleased to say the exercise has already increased, as well as having a bit more control over appetite.

A second goal is tied in to all this. I am getting a second opinion on my vision issues and will work to find strategies to help with the depth perception and balance issues. A new doctor’s appointment is scheduled for next week Thursday, and I have a teacher friend to talk to about some basic yoga stretches. I always knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, I need to learn to work with the new limitations.

Overall, for the first time, these two goals seem very positive. One hundred days from now, March 10, I expect that I will have been enormously successful at these first two. That statement alone is a major change for me. It’s very positive, rather than using the word “try.”

Business-wise I have some very specific goals.

Number three in my list is to solve the newsletter/collectors’ information issue. I am, as was said to a friend of mine, “leaving money on the table.” This has to be a regular business goal. I am considering taking Alyson Stanfield’s “Cultivating Your Collectors” class in February. That will depend on a number of things, primarily finances. I am good at reading and implementing, and since I accomplished four of Alyson’s goals in I’d Rather Be in the Studio!, I should be able to accomplish at least three this new season. So: newsletter, portfolio (which we will need for a major event the end of March), and I will look through the list for at least one other. Newsletter once a month should be definitely do-able. A collectors’ newsletter once a quarter should be reasonable. I’m sure there will be others to add here.

Number four is searching out wholesale suppliers for cutting back basic costs of making marbled fabric. As of yesterday I have a new wholesale account with Kona Bay fabrics, as we use their colored cotton quite successfully. We are looking for wholesale sources for premium white cotton, silk/satin ribbon (like Offray), and probably some other materials.

Number five is ramping up our Etsy shop, our Fine Art America galleries, Cafe Press, and looking in to Red Bubble, Three Sisters, and at least one other online selling site. My overall goal in all this is to be able to update these sites once a week, as well as include items from these sites in our soon-to-happen newsletters. I’ve tried setting monetary goals for Etsy and Ebay, and they are very fickle, depending on the economy. I do tweet my Etsy and Ebay offerings once a week, which certainly drives traffic to the site, but I don’t see it converting. However, I know that it is only a matter of time, as is the case with this blog. I am about to hit 1500 viewers per month, so I know it is consistency. (Concerning the blog…when Facebook changed its latest set of operating, my blog numbers dropped. Turns out, on exploration, Networked Blogs was a casualty and needed to be reactivated. Once that happened, I saw numbers increase again…..I am amazed at how net-savvy we need to be these days!)

Art-wise I also have some very specific goals.

Number six is to enter a major show with new work. The deadline for this is mid-February, and I am already hard at work on the first of two pieces. The fabric has been created, and the ideas are flowing. Here’s just some of the fabric…..

Unpolished red satin

If I get accepted, great. If not, I will have two new lovely large art pieces for our body of work. But I am putting out to the Universe that this will be show-worthy art.

Number seven is to create the kit for Marbled Seasons. Yesterday’s blog post showed the first of the four small quilts/table runners. I used to have several patterns, all of which I sold the rights to. So I just need to make more. For this goal I want this set of kits completed, and two new ideas for pattern kits, plus a rewrite of my Polynomial Quilt pattern – which I used the quilts for that very successfully in an adult algebra class to teach multiplying, and it was highly successful.

Number eight is to be completely prepared – except for minor loose ends – by March 10, for StashFest at the La Conner Quilt Museum in La Conner, Washington. We have been invited to participate, and it means marbling about 400 fat quarters in the next three months…..another reason for looking carefully at wholesale outlets! This is an interesting goal, because after our last guild presentation, I put out to the universe that it would be fun to travel and do demos in the Southern Arizona, southern New Mexico area. Well, two days later I had this email…..as Dale Anne Potter, my muse with Law of Attraction said, I was open to the possibilities.

Number nine will build on the previous. Develop a letter/sample to go to local guilds for demos and classes. I think just the development at this stage, because we will be focused on making fabric for Washington.

Number ten, under the category of Miscellaneous, comes continuing to work on Art From the Heart, a site devoted to spreading peace and nonviolence in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. We had two new entries this last month, and I am hopeful for more.

Now that I have these written, I have to chuckle in that I was concerned about trying to get my goals coherent for this season. These are more detailed than the past two seasons, and they will certainly stretch me.

So Day One – I’m going to sew, work on some lists, and get ready for a small craft event on Saturday. Plus, it’s the holidays, and I want to “do more good” this year on a daily basis. May you have a really awesome day!

It All Started with the Yucca…..Wednesday Work in Progress

Albuquerque Outdoors - http://outdoors.itsatrip.org/

This new piece has had an interesting origin…..we were in Cornville , AZ visiting friends, and our driver wanted to stop in the high desert and see about getting some yucca stalks for walking sticks. If you look at the picture, the stalks are what’s left after the gorgeous blooms are done. They are evidently extremely strong and hold a lot of weight. So we have two collected stalks in the car, and I’m thinking, hmmmmm – these could make interesting wall hanging “hangers.” Turns out we got as a gift two really strong, perfect-height-for-hiking sticks from another friend we were off to visit, so I decided to keep these two, one as a walking stick for me (I just need it for balance) and one for a potential hanger for a wall piece.

I was looking at it today, as I was kicking around another weaving piece. It would make a good “topper” for a new piece. I had in mind a set of seasons pieces, and then suddenly I got the thought to create the fabric and weave them all together for a year of seasons.

Here are two samples of some of the weavings I have done with marbled fabrics. The first is my very beginning one, Gaia 1: Interdependence. The second is  Gaia 3: Autumn.

All of a sudden the design was in my head, and I sketched it out, something I don’t normally do. Here it is:

Creating the fabric will take some time, and I know with other projects in the pipeline, I won’t get to this until mid-September. Hubby is the main marbler, so he will have his work cut out for him. I will need to also watch the proportions in this piece – ever mindful of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia from Project Runway…..

Stay tuned for progress. In the meantime, here’s a few stories for past weavings in the Gaia series.

Sunday Stories: Autumn

Sunday Stories: Gaia 2

Sunday Stories: Gaia 1

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

  It’s usually about this time every summer that I become productive, knowing that my time is short before school starts. Not this year! I’ve been productive since the end of May, with a lot of projects in the works, and a whole bunch already completed. It feels very very good! The commission is done, I have two shows to create/finish pieces for, another commission to complete, a bunch of small studies to do, and about 6 unfinished quilts that have been around for a lot of years (some more than a decade). I do LOVE being productive, busy, and above all creative.

Now, I finished another small study on movement for the class I’m taking from Lyric Kinard and Quilt University. I realized as I finished quilting that I really do need to take a “before and after” photo of the fabric, because there really is a dramatic difference. For this piece, I tried a new marbling pattern – actually, I tried to create a pattern that would show movement. I really liked what I came up with – very festive, 4th-of-July feeling. The question was could I make it feel even more of an explosion with movement. I wanted to put this up for a challenge using the word “spark.” I thought of fire crackers, and then I wanted to combine it with the class assignment. Click so you could see the details.

One thing I have found as a result of the class – well, two things actually – I now feel I can create any type of line I want with my quilting, and I spend a lot more time thinking about how the quilting will accent the message of the piece. I started by doing a “loop” in free motion from the very center outward to the edge of the “center.” From there I quilted lines to accent  the “rays” from the center of the piece. I used a Superior metallic for the center, and three different threads for the outer rays – a Rainbow in purple, yellow, and green, and two shades of gold metallic.

Already I was seeing more movement in the piece – but I wanted more….So I took the multicolored thread and stitched from the center out in a zigzag motion to add more of an explosive effect. Better. Then I took one of the metallics and did the same thing outside of the circle, but less dense than the previous. I did an “envelope” backing, and I am going to experiment with mounting this on canvas to see how it works/looks.

Overall, very pleased. I just wish I had the “before” picture. With that in mind, here are the “befores” for two more small studies in the works:

I know, I could have ironed….

I will be curious to see how they work out and what they have to teach me.

The Start of a Commission…..

This past April I was asked to do a commission for a friend of a friend, based on three things: 1) she loves our marbled fabrics; 2) she wants a fiber piece for a small area in her bathroom; and 3) she would like it to draw on the colors from the new granite counter tops. So for 6 weeks I’ve been mulling over possible designs, knowing that the final one would be based on what happened with the marbling session.

We marbled yesterday, and I worked with the colors I thought would go with the granite – gray, black, brown, russet, copper. I tried a couple of different patterns, and what follows are the pieces I came up with. Warming – they’re pretty blah in the pictures….

Marbled patterns

Marbled patterns

I chose the stone pattern to begin, for two reasons. One, I like quilting that pattern, and two, I figured this would give me some ideas. Well…..it sure did. I started snapping pictures as I was quilting. I used a Rainbow thread from Superior (of course) in a rust shade to bring out the rusts in the painting on the opposite wall of the bathroom. It was just what it needed.

Quilted marbling pattern

The texture is incredible and no longer flat. The piece also now has a title, “Hiking,” as its future owner hikes the mountains and canyons of Arizona – and especially Sedona – often.

This is so totally different from what I had originally been thinking. I know that this will act as the center medallion of the piece, so I went looking for coordinating fabrics – in my newly organized studio, so selecting was a breeze.

Lots more ideas, as the white area is probably going to become a small bubbly stream, and I pretty much know what’s happening with the borders, but that’s for another post.

Ideas???

The Studio Reveal……

As of yesterday I was finally able to finish the studio remake by actually cleaning off my sewing table, which had become the repository for all the loose ends. I can finally start working again. Hubby marbled on Thursday and enjoyed having a more organized and larger space. Here’s the “before” pictures….

We have (well, had – it’s gone the way of Craig’s List) lots of storage shelves that could be configured in a variety of ways. This is most of the marbling stuff, just kind of packed into various boxes, and not really easy to find anything. The shelves continue next to it, with more cloths, plastic, and trays. We had more of this shelving in the closet.

So much storage in the closet – lots of different containers and boxes collected over the years – fabric is kind of organized by color, but it’s a pain to get to. To the left is an old baker’s rack (like about 36 years old – from before I got married, and it has a new home).

The small chest of drawers belonged to my dad – it is now in the closet, with all the cloths and plastic and towels. Much easier to get to things and it’s now keeping everything more organized.

This was the worst part of the studio – my actual sewing area. I felt enclosed and couldn’t really move around. It was not a comfortable area, and this was the main reason for re-doing the studio.

And now……

This is where all the marbling supplies were – in storage that is more efficient and actually takes up less floor space. I have fabric out by color, files from school, art supplies in one of the canvas storage bags, and patterns all sorted.

My sewing table is now under the window with much better light and room to move around. I am now right next to the cutting board and ironing board. Art books and lots more storage.

You can see more of the sewing area here.

Hubby in his new space, organizing the latest marbled fabrics. Lots of stuff is stored under that cutting table! You’ll see some of the fabric up on eBay this week……

Work-in-Progress Wednesday – Seasons: Ice

I am enjoying not feeling pressure to finish or make something under deadline. So I started another new quilt that I would like to make into a pattern. That’s one thing that’s been appealing to me…ever since I sold off the rights to several early quilt patterns. This one just seems to be happening.

It started with my Desert Heat Quilt.I really like how this came together, and everything I wanted it to do (especially radiate heat), I was able to get it to do. Once it was up on the wall, I decided I needed a companion piece, called Winter Ice. So since the move happened, and I had to rearrange and clean the studio, I pulled all the fabrics that spoke to me of “cold.”

A beginning selection to work with. The center white one is full of glitter.

Except for the bottom right, ones that didn’t make it into the selection. I try to match a light and a dark, a light with a medium, a medium with a dark. I make waaayyyy more triangles than I need, because I like to have a variety to choose from.  My center block with be eight by eight in triangles. You can work in groups of fours to keep a square: 4 by 4, 8 by 8, 12 by 12, and so on. I like the 8 by 8.

I like using the Triangles on a Roll, because you can do some mindless sewing. I cut pieces the long length of the fat quarter, about 6 inches wide. Put the right sides together. I tend to carefully pin, but if you don’t iron well first, you can get lumps in the back that may not come out with ironing, and may cause some stretching.

But the great thing about sewing these triangles is that you can just follow the lines. Use a small stitch, because you will be tearing the paper off each smaller triangle when you are done.

What’s nice about this also is that you can have several stages going at the same time…..sewing on the paper, cutting the triangles apart,  tearing off the paper, pressing, cutting off little ears. Some at different times, or all at once. I like doing the stages.

I iron to the dark piece. I tried on Desert Heat to iron all the seams open, and I ended up with major lumpy bumps, so this time through I am ironing everything to one side. I use a small container to keep my triangles, ironed and un. I just slowly work through the ironing. Once I have them all cut, I play around with a design. Below you can see how the initial triangles worked out.

First part of a layout, just playing around…..

The last is the potential final layout.

Then I strip-piece the rows together. This can be a bit tricky, as you are matching the seams on top of each other.

At this point you need to make some decisions again about ironing.

Here’s two rows pieced together, waiting for ironing. One row I press seams in one direction, the other row the seams in the other direction. Then you can “butt” each of the seams together for virtually perfect points.

And that’s where we are at this point. I now have a draft of the beginning of the pattern, and I know all the places where I want to add more hints. So we’ll see where I am this time next Wednesday.

Any pattern-writing hints you want to share? Let me know – I’m interested in any and all ideas!

Other Work-in-Progress Wednesdays:

October

September

August

Sunday Stories – My Sewing Machines

At one point I had three, with another on layaway. I guess four, counting my serger. It was the HUGE, HEAVY Singer that my mother had that first intrigued me. I sewed mostly at college on a small Singer a sorority sister had, but when I went home for holidays it was that old heavy Singer that I used – I don’t think the needle was ever changed, and it only went forward and back, but it was enough for wardrobe.

My first teaching job was in Hawaii, and after buying my very first car, I bought a Singer sewing machine. When I left Maui, I donated it to the drama club for costumes – that machine had done all the holokuus we used for two musicals, plus a lot of muumuus for me over the years.

Back in Vermont I needed a new sewing machine, so I bought a fancy Singer – with stretch stitches…yup, time for polyesters and stretch knits. This was when I took every Stretch and Sew class I could, and pretty much bought out all their patterns. I learned a lot of design, and for the next decade I made all my clothes…and a leisure suit for hubby. I wanted the capability to do fancy stitches, so when the funds were there, I got a new Singer – computerized, with lots of decorative stitches. And…a bobbin that wound itslef right in the machine.

My dear mother-in-law got the older Singer, as she would sew doll cloths and bags for the grandchildren. That new Singer did wonders and got me started in quilting. When my mother-in-law died, the machine reverted back to me, along with her Featherweight. Finances were such that I had to sell the featherweight, much to my regret, but it went to a good home – a quilter friend of mine.

I discovered that using the zigzag to edge cotton before marbling wasn’t really working on my old Singer. I seemed to always overheat the motor, so I went looking. Enter my serger, a Bernette. Two great ladies who had a fabric store and bought marbled fabric from us fronted a used serger for me. It’s still going very strong, although I must confess a profesisonal cleaning would probably be a good idea, even though I am good to it….

Between the marbling and the quilting, my other two Singers weren’t doing it for me, so I began to investigate Berninas forther, since I loved the serger. We were fortunate in that the local Bernina folks, Bruce and Mary Sue, were very supportive of our marbling. I put a hundred dollars down on a 1080 Bernina workhorse, figuring I could get it in a few months. Well, several years later I got my machine and it’s been purring since then.

In order to fund some basic expenses we had a yard sale, and the two old Singers went to new homes, feet and all. I miss them, but I do love my Bernina. There are times when I wish it did more – like needle-down and stitch regulator, but my basic skills have improved tremendously. In fact, when I was at the School of Threadology I was using a new Bernina and I wasn’t happy – mainly because I didn’t fully understand what it could do – I knew the limits of mine and wanted it with me.

I’m still lusting for new machines – my serger is nearly 15 years old, I want an embroidery machine, I want a machine that can take designs and new stitches along with a stitch regulator, but that’s in the future. For now I love my Bernina and all it’s teaching me.

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

My thread arrived yesterday!! Lots of new greens, so I want to start in on the bamboo leaves tomorrow. Expect an update next Wednesday – and maybe even finished….

I wrote a while ago about using some dvd’s for professional instruction and how much I am enjoying this new manner of learning. One of the dvds was by Carol Taylor, about design. She called her method “arc-i-texture,” and by the time the video was done, I wanted to try it out. A long-time friend has twin girls whom we got reacquainted with in Vermont, so I am making them housewarming presents. Shelby likes greens, and Brianne likes blues. This started because Shelby gave me lots of small pieces of various silks to try and marble. For whatever reason (I think too much sizing) they didn’t marble well, so I decided to use them for this project.

While I finished Shelby’s, except for the facing, here’s Brianne’s to show you how I started out.

All I did was arrange some rectangles into a fairly pleasing design. At this point, ho hum – doesn’t look like anything. The next step will be to anchor each of the pieces, which I will do using a satin stitch on each of the edges. That will provide another layer of interest. Once that is done, I will couch down a variety of threads for a third layer of interest. What I found with this project is that as I attacked each new layer, the piece not only became more and more complex, but also more interesting. Here’s Shelby’s, so you can see what the final piece will look like:

Way more interesting! While I have a couching foot, I haven’t used it before this, and I do like how it works. I learned to give the yarns some play and let the machine and the foot do the work. Next piece shouldn’t have the drawing up of the fabric from my pulling the yarns. I will say for the blue one I tried a whole bunch of stores trying to find some interesting yarns and trims.

Carol mentions in her video that she’s made something like 400-plus of these, and I can see getting addicted. I like the sheen and play of the silk, especially since the “nap” is going in different directions and takes the light differently, but I want to play with some lights, mediums, and darks from my stash for the next couple.

I want to know what videos and dvds you’ve watched for instruction and inspiration!

Sunday Stories

I love reading blogs about the stories behind the art we create. It occurred to me I could document (primarily for myself) the process and story behind some of our pieces in our gallery on the website. There is a page on the site with some very early quilts, including an original design for a math program I participated in.

This is the PRIME quilt – the name of the program was Promoting Reform in Mathematics Education, and it was a total of 6 weeks over three summers at the University of Arizona. We gave this quilt to our professors at the end of the third summer, and it still resides in the math department.

The center is the program itself, with the first few prime numbers. Each triangle attached to it is the name of one of the professors, with a little graphic representing each one; Fred, for example, had the calculator. The four corners are the teacher assistants we had, and each of the blocks is made with marbled fabric and a PRIME number of pieces. Let me tell you, the block with 37 pieces was a doozy to do.

We all signed the back of the quilt and presented it with the message that a puzzle was built into the quilt. Five 9 years later I filled in two of the professors as to what the puzzle was – the prime number of pieces. This was a fun quilt to design.

The quilt that started me on my present journey with marbled fabric is Gaia 1: Interdependence.

Gaia 1: Interdependence

This is kind of a cross between a traditional stone pattern, some basic combing of paint, and some chevron pattern. When the fabric came out of the tray, I liked the interplay of the turquoise with the earthy colors. The turquoise reminded me of the gifts from the earth. I don’t know why I started to cut into strips – maybe just because I wanted to try weaving something. I really don’t remember.

I had five strips and nothing was working. Then I decided to just weave it back and forth and see what would happen. I liked where it was going and cut the strips in half so I would have more to work with. I used a thin batting (which I since use exclusively) and backed it with a fossil fern fabric. Then I started to quilt, just by following the lines of the fabric. I went for three hours without stopping because I was loving how it was working.

I didn’t want bindings. I thought it would detract from the message of interdependence of all the elements on earth. Then I hit on serging the edges. Now this was before I really understood what a serger can do. I still hadn’t figured out rolled edges. But I knew I wanted some type of variegated thread, so I just experimented.

Then came trying to hold it together. I used a LOT of pins and very carefully pulled the weaving off the design wall onto the quilting table upside-down and started to stitch all the strips together. Let me tell you, that took forever….

Well, the problems weren’t over. A basic sleeve wasn’t going to work for hanging, so I spent a few weeks trying to figure that out. I ended up buying a set of napkin rings with an earthy feel to them and looked for a piece of bamboo. The big problem was anchoring the napkin rings to the strips – with a lot of delicate sewing….but the piece has hung for five years in an office in Tucson with not a single problem.

I knew when this was finished I was on to something. The bamboo I am currently working on will be the fourth in the Gaia series of weavings. I do want to do more…the images I saw of rice paddies in southern China would make another interesting weaving…..

Quilt is FINISHED!!!

It is so interesting to me that we can think in our minds that projects will take so much longer, and then we actually never get around to them, because we “don’t have the time.” That was the case with my Salmon Run entry and with Desert Heat. I kept thinking I was going to need more time than it actually took to complete the work the way I wanted it.

I made the commitment last night to finish Desert Heat – and I did! Binding and all, it’s now on our wall in our bedroom. What I particularly like about this quilt is a bunch of things:

* I used some of my first hand dyes, and you can’t really tell mine from the commercial ones.

* I experimented with a pattern and everything about it worked. I just started out sewing triangles because I wanted something mindless to do last summer.

* I learned that when sewing bunches of triangles like this, it is best to press the seams open for less bulk. That is probably the only thing I would do differently in remaking this quilt (I can see a “winter” quilt to change for the seasons…).

* I pulled colors based on how “hot” they seemed – turns out in the final analysis I did have a light, a medium, and a dark value without really thinking about it.

* The quilting worked perfectly – I only took out about 8 inches until I had the tension where I wanted it. I am getting much better with that – checking first before I sew a whole side….

* I love my new threads! I bought New Brytes in orange and yellow when I was at the School of Threadology with Superior Threads. I knew I wanted heat and bright – much like the desert in summer. I was given in my goodie bag a wonderful Rainbow of oranges, yellows, and greens that worked PERFECTLY in my border.

* Not once did I break any threads. I love the #90 titanium needles. And I LOVE Superior Threads!

* Perhaps the best thing abut quilting yesterday is that I think I am finally getting my quilting stitch length consistent. I have been going quite slowly with the machine quilting, so my stitches have been pretty large. I hesitated about going faster, as I can get clumps of thread if I move too slowly. Well, this time everything worked. I went faster and the stitches seemed to keep up with my movement of the quilt sandwich. So generally very pleased.

Here’s a close-up of the quilting. The center and first border have a very large stipple, as I wanted to try and get “the heat waves off the pavement” effect. It also helped to flatten all the triangle points. The quilting in the last border is a much tighter stipple, which seemed to make the quilt even “hotter.”

And now, the reveal (yup, too much HGTV….) –

So – anyone interested in a pattern? I am thinking of writing this up if there is interest.

I would love to hear thoughts about what you learn as you finish up quilts! We’re always learning – that’s what makes this so much fun.

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