Sunday, September 13, 2020

Projects in the making

I have been working on this since April... I think? It is another two sided quilt.  Most of my photos of it do not look nearly as spectacular as the real thing.  And so, I have felt reluctant to post about it.  Also, it was scheduled to be completed by the end of May, early June, and well, that hasn't happened.  But I am making progress, and I will post more photos after I finish it.

Here it is in all it's glory, with both sides showing, and hanging out on my table in the process of being machine quilted.

Project number two is a secret.  It is a guild project that will be donated to charity.  Our theme this year is On-Point.  And, because our guild likes to have a friendly competition, no pictures can be posted until after all the quilts are finished and voted on. So stay tuned for that one as well.

Project number three has been trying to keep my plants alive during a summer of excessive heat and no rain.  Apparently, if you are holding the garden hose in your hand, you can water whenever you want.  If you use the irrigation system, it is only once a week.  I am lucky to have an irrigation system, but it does not work very well and is about 45 years old.  So, I supplement with hand watering.  And, I love being out in the garden, so I don't consider it a burden.  I have learned that if you set up a small sprinkler in the mornings, the birds will come running!  The longer I stand outside, the happier I feel.  Sorry, no photos for this either.

Wherever you are, I sincerely hope that you are weathering the storm of this crazy year. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Blue Fish Orange Spots
11" x 4" (x 8.5" girth)

Hi!  I made this little fish for an exhibit at the SAQA Conference 2022 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The exhibit is called, Fresh Fish, and is open to all SAQA members and they are also requesting poetry for the exhibit from anyone! It will also be a fundraiser for SAQA, and though I am not clear why, but my little fish will not be coming home.  It will be sent into the world with an unknown future (just like the rest of us, yes?). Deadline is October 31, 2020, so you still have time!

I suspect the exhibit will be amazing, and even more so if they get a LOT of fish! To that end, I decided to both make a 3D fish and post a tutorial on how to make a 3D fish.  The entry calls for both 2D, small art quilts of fish, and 3D fish.  You can see Jamie Fingal's art quilt, The Flying Fish, at this link. She also shows a few steps in her process for making it!  Very fun and whimsical!!

I also think it would be fun to use a special hashtag on Instagram so that we can all see each other's fish or other marine life for this exhibit.  How about #SAQAFreshFish ?

Tutorial for "One Way to Make a 3D Fish":
This is not a pattern, per se, but just some steps to help guide you. Also, I tend to over-complicate things.  There are many ways to make this project easier. Sadly, for me, that is not usually how I tend to run...Ha!!

First, draw a fish.  Make it any shape you want it to be, and for this exhibit, no dimension can be over 12 inches.

Here's mine:  It is not overly impressive, but it gets the job done! Notice the two lines where the tail is?  There is a reason for that.  I will be constructing the fish body separately, and sort of sliding it in to the tail fin (which will be attached with some hand-stitching).
The next step is to trace each piece onto some freezer paper and cut out all the pieces.
Two optional pieces are shown above that are not traced from your drawing. You will need to draw the shape for the gusset and the lips. Tip: If you want them to be exact, try folding your paper in half two times, draw one arc, then re-fold and trace the shape onto the other quadrants.  The gusset piece is Y-seamed into the bottom seam of the fish and should be shorter than the length of the body of your fish.  It allows the shape of the fish to be rounder and sit flat.  It is slightly harder to stitch in, and your fish will be fine if you want to simplify and leave it out.  I like it with the gusset better.  And, it is interesting to explore different shapes and different sized gussets to see what effect they make on the overall shape of the fish.

The other piece is the lips. They are optional and a little bit tricky, but hey, if you are up for it, and like the whimsical look, go for it! If you want to skip it, there are other ways to put a mouth on your fish if you want one!

The next step is probably the most fun you will have while making this fish, so savor it!  Select the fabrics you want for your fish pieces.  They can be commercial fabrics, or leftover pieces from other projects you have done.  You can even string piece, or improvisationally piece something to be the fish body.  Have fun with it! Paint it! Fuse it! Print something on Spoonflower.  This will be where you get to express yourself as an artist.  Make it serious, make it fun, it's entirely up to you. Use your iron to press the freezer paper onto the front side of the fabric, then cut out the pieces, making sure to add 1/4" on all the outer edges for the seam allowances.
This photo shows the pieces for one side of my fish. I picked commercial fabrics for the head and body.  Then I fused some batiked circles, leftover from this project, and then I stamped circles with white paint and added some black dots.  For all the fins I used leftover batiked fabrics I had from a previous projects (maybe this one or this one?).  And the fabric for the gusset was also from a leftover batik project, seen here. You can also choose to put an eye on your fish now.  Or alternatively, you could sew on buttons for eyes after the fish is fully stuffed.

Next is the part that is less fun, preparing all the fins.  The dorsal (top) fin, the pectoral (side) fins, and the pelvic (bottom) fin are pretty straightforward.  Put right sides together, sew the seams....leaving one side open (the side that attaches to the fish body).  Then turn right side out. You may need to trim the seams and or clip the curves. You can choose to put a tiny piece of batting inside and doing some minor quilting if you wish.  Sometimes the tiny fins can be quilted using a pair of tweezers to hold it under the machine while slowly stitching.  You can also decorate with big thread and hand-stitching, or beaded trim, ... or not! :) It can be interesting to add pipe cleaners inside your fins.  When you are finished, you can bend the fins into a shape you like!  Caution: when sewing over pipe cleaners, either on purpose or accidentally, it can break your needle. So, be careful! I did not add any pipe cleaners to this fish, but I have used wires in other 3D fish. Yes, I have made a few fish before! Some more tiny 3D fish on this quilt, and just a few flat ones on this quilt.

I used a few minor differences for constructing the caudal (tail) fin.  First I clipped the inside curve where the fin will attach to the fish body.
Then I finger pressed the 1/4" curved edge to the back side of the fabric. Next, with right sides together, stitch the outer seam, leaving the clipped curve edge open.
Then turn the tail right side out.
Last, I inserted a piece of batting, cut to shape, and then quilted the furthest edges of the tail fin, being careful not to quilt too closely to the edge closest to the body of the fish.  I want to leave this edge open so that I can insert the stuffed body of the fish inside the tail fin later. Attaching the tail to the body is one of the last steps, about the same time as attaching the lips....Mine looks like this:
After all the fins are prepped, the next step is to attach the pectoral fin with a stay stitch to the fish body.
Then, sew the curved seam to add the head (right sides together).
At this stage, I placed the fish bodies on a bigger piece of batting and then did some straight line quilting down the length of the body.  After quilting, I cut the pieces away from the excess batting. The fish is nearly finished now!

Pin the dorsal (top) fin and the pelvic (bottom) fins in place and stay stitch.  The fins should be pointing inwards towards the body of the fish.  Put the right sides of the fish together and stitch around, leaving an opening at the bottom of your fish to add the stuffing. (Sorry, I don't have more photos that show these steps.  I think I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and forgot to take some!) This step is slightly more complicated if you chose to use the gusset.  The bottom of your fish will look like this:
Because both ends of the gusset are a Y-seam, you may need to stop and restart at those points.  Regardless of which side you sew first, make sure to leave that opening so that you can turn your fish right side out and then stuff him or her.

I used Polyfil. This part is fun and easy and the fish sort of comes alive!  Then close the body opening with some handstitching. My favorite is the ladder stitch for this kind of work, but you could also use an applique stitch, or just overcasting.

Slide the end of the fish into the opening of the tail fin, and hand stitch in place.

For the lips:  Fold the lips length-wise in half.  Starting at the center, stitch a scant tiny seam to the pointy end.  Leave a small gap (1/2"? or so) in the center, and start sewing again to the other end.  Using that gap, turn the narrow tube right side out.  Try to stick some stuffing in there.  Then hand stitch the small gap closed.
It will look a bit like a worm now. Then hand stitch it to your fish's face with the seam edge touching the fish face.  I pinned mine in place, and thus stuck myself a few times.  I may be understating it when I say this part is not fun...but it does get easier and faster with practice!

Here's a closeup of my little blue fish, I like the way the quilting shows in this photo.  And, also, I like how expressive the little face is, sweetly cheerful!
Who dat?
I hope you will consider making a fish for this project.  It was a nice diversion from my normal life and took me about a day to make it.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Plenty to Go Around
81" x 83"

Here's the back:

I am finally finished! I knew this day would eventually come, but I didn't know it would be so late! I am slow, but I do finally get there.  This piece was started when the refugees began showing up at our southern border in increasing large numbers.  Our response to them was less than honorable and the daily onslaught of the atrocities there haunted me.  Especially troubling was the separation of children from their parents, and then losing track of where the children were. Now, I have finally finished and the nation has forgotten about them and moved on to other equally heinous atrocities. I made this piece because I wanted to call attention to the systemic nature of racism.  Yes, there are certainly bad actors causing trouble.  But the problem is bigger than that. It is an entire system of racism that is defiantly overt and also lurks subconsciously.  The entire system needs change.  When I feel the discomfort, it is important to lean into it.

There have been so many posts about the process of making this quilt.  Thank you for being patient and following along with me!
Beginning the drawing: here
The batik of the chickadees: here
The batik of the center flower and the fawns: here
The batik of 4 different flowers: here
Beginning the applique, hummingbird, and batik of orange poppies, irises: here
Appliqueing of the flower stems: here
Appliqueing of the chickadees and orange poppies: here
Drawing and batik of the fawn group on the back: here
Drawing and batik of the wall on the back: here
Batik of the whole cloth flower panel on the back: here
Batik of spiral flowers and the hills panel on the back: here
Hand quilting, thimbles and needles: here
Marking concentric circles for hand quilting: here

I am exceptionally pleased with how this quilt speaks to me. The sharp contrast of the imagery with the softness of the fabric is compelling. I love how the quilting ties together the two images both conceptually and literally. On the front, the quilting lines are perfect for showing a world of beauty and generational prosperity.  And on the back, the same concentric quilting lines show how the vulnerable and darker blue fawns, living in a land of scarcity, are targets. The story is made richer by seeing both sides.

Here are some detail shots (front):

And some from the other side (back):

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

i Quilt finds its Forever Home

I had always hoped and dreamed that this might happen some day, and now it has!  The International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE has purchased my i Quilt to add to their permanent collection! This means so much to me, it is really hard to describe.  The feeling is good though, so very floating on air. It is such a tremendous honor to have my work included with so many of my esteemed colleagues and quilters who have come before me.

I have had a dream like this since I was a small child, drawing pictures of my toys (see this post).  In school, I was so very fond of my art classes.  And yet, I did not have a very direct path to art in my adult life. It would be easy now to say that some of my career choices were mistakes, but I think of them now as very important steps to get me to where I am today. And, somewhere along the experience of living a life, quilts became not just the thing to do in between events, but the expression of those events and took a more central role. And now my quilt will have an extended life through the special care and conservation at the IQM and through it's online presence in their on-line Collections database.  It is a tremendous honor to be included in quilting history in this way.

I have also donated a quilt to IQM.  It means so very much to me that they wanted this quilt. It is Hidden Messages and I love this quilt so much.  Perfect!
I have written a number of posts about the creation of this quilt (the beginning and the middle part), the reveal of the message behind the circles....if you are curious! :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

RJR Fabrics and New Solid Sample Cards!!!

I got in a new set of sample cards from RJR Fabrics!  I am so excited! It's like having a new box of crayons, or rather, a GIANT new box of crayons!

Here's one of the pages:

My only complaint is that they are are glued to the page.  And, for me, (and maybe everyone else too?), color is relative.  It looks different compared to what you put it next too.  Light is very important but so are the colors that surround it.  So, I am too perplexed by color to be able to order a color from a sample card like this.  Only one thing to do...

Rip them off the page!

This is so much fun! (full disclosure, I did it one by one, and put a sticky label on the back with the name and number of each color).  Anyway, I can move the little patches around and look at how the colors play with each other.  I love the combination above.  Reminds me of a salt marsh, which I must be thinking about after having read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Yes, now, I want to make a quilt with these colors, so I will be needing to order the fabric! And there won't be any surprises about the colors that arrive in the mail. And for someone as picky about color as I am, this is a huge and wonderful event!

The next one I played with I call, colors of kayaks! I can see a quilt here too! This is going to be so much fun! Did I say that already?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Violet Protest
ten squares, 8" x 8"

As soon as I saw this project, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.  It inspires me greatly! It is a call to make 8" blocks using equal parts of red and blue in ANY textile medium and then donate them to the project. The squares are going to be stacked in an installation in the shape of the letters "US" and then when the installation is over, the squares will be sent to each of the members of Congress.  So, if you don't want to make squares, you can still help out by donating some money to help pay for shipping.

They need a total of 26,750 squares!! And, the organizer is hoping to have contributions from each of the 50 states. As of today, I think there are volunteers for 49 of them!!

A mockup of what the proposed exhibit will look like
I decided to make little quilted squares.  I stitched the tiny tops and then used Mistyfuse on the backs.  Then I fused them to squares of felt.  This made for an easy finish after adding some machine quilting.  In case you are curious, it is super easy to quilt the little felt sandwich!

Here are my completed blocks.  Some are clear favorites of mine, others, less so.  But it was all good, and all were made while contemplating the healing the giant rift in our nation. I really like the values represented by this project: Civility and Respect, Citizenship, Compromise, Country over party and Corporate Influence, Courage, Candor, Compassion, and Creativity.

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you will consider participating too! Every little bit helps!

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Turn the Dial - Stealth Hanging Tube
detail of the back side of Turn the Dial with the matching hanging tube
To hang a quilt for an exhibit, or quilt show, or even on the wall at home, it needs to have a fabric sleeve or hanging tube sewn securely to the back.  For two-sided quilts, I like to make the hanging tube look like it is part of the design of the back side of the quilt.  For some quilts, this is super easy, especially if the top of the quilt is one piece of solid fabric all the way across.  For my yellow quilt, this was not the case.

note: This post is not meant to be a exact tutorial, but just a few tips to help you along the way if you ever desire to do something quite as crazy as this.  My experiences have taught me that just when I think that I have learned how to do this on an easier piece, I make a new mistake on the next one, and have to start over.  It has definitely been a learning curve for me.

My first idea was to get the paper template pattern out and use the top 8 or so inches of it to make a matching tube.  Sadly, this would not work because I inserted those random strips of color which changed the real sizes of my little arc pieces.  So, I needed a new template, one that matched the actual quilt.  Here's what I came up with:

I cut and ironed a long piece of freezer paper directly to the top of my quilt.

You can see the fabric through the paper.  So I took a pencil and traced the shapes underneath.  And, I started finding all the fabrics I used in this section of the quilt.  It is a crazy amount of different fabrics!

After tracing the shapes, I peeled the freezer paper up and then labeled the pieces and started cutting them apart.

Once I had the individual pieces cut, I ironed them to the front side of the corresponding fabrics.  Remember to cut a 1/4" seam allowance around each piece.

I think it gets a bit more complicated because the hanging tube is not sewn in a flat shape to the quilt back, it has a tuck in it so that it bellows out a bit.  This gives room for the rod to be inserted in the hanging tube and not distort the front of the quilt. The first tip is to try to match the bottom edge of your tube to the place where it will be sewn onto the quilt.  Here's a photo of all the pieces sewn together like a quilt top and placed on top of the actual quilt to check for placement and if it matches or not.

Also, when I pieced this section, I did not make it wide enough for the entire tube.  So, I cut another long white piece for the back of the tube and sewed along one of the long edges (right sides together) to make it wide enough.  Then finish the ends by turning under 1/4", twice and topstitching.  Then sew the remaining two long sides of the tube and turn it inside out.  Use a basting stitch to make a pleat for that extra ease on the front side of the tube.  Then it was ready to sew to my quilt.  After hand stitching in place, the basting stitches are removed.

As a little extra touch, I added my label to the inside of the tube before hand sewing the tube on the quilt.  This way, when you look at the back side of the quilt, the label is not visible and it adds to the illusion of "which side is the front?"

I love it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Diverging Distractions
back side of Turn the Dial
71" x 71"

For this side, I wanted to repeat a similar pattern, but instead of having just yellow, with a hint of black and white, I wanted to open up the color palette a little bit.
These cheerful and bright pops of color really compliment the pairing with the yellow. And, I really like how this side is contrasted with the front.  On the front, there is one obvious path.  On this side there are so many bright and beautiful paths.  It would be hard to choose just one way to go, but whatever choice, it will be a good one! It puts a lovely spin on the idea of distractions, which I believe has too many negative connotations in our world. I think we need both!
I love the opportunity to play with these lovely yellow-greens! It seems really interesting to me that these are at the center, but the quilt still reads as a yellow quilt.
Here are a few shots of the next couple of rings.  It was interesting to improvise the choice of bright colors to add and where to put them.

And, from the previous post, I did remember to put any pencil markings on the BACK of the fabric. Whew!  Here's a shot of sewing the arcs together.  One of the things I really like about sewing arcs, or curves, is that the bigger these circles get, the easier the curve is to sew.
After finishing the construction of all the pieces, I carefully layered the back, the batting, and the front and then pin basted.  I ran into some trouble while quilting, which you may have seen on this post about my new yellow Oliso iron. As a follow up, I can tell you that alternating quilting from the front side and then the back side really worked to complete the quilt and eliminate the tucks that were forming.
I love how the light shows the quilting lines.  The texture created with these concentric circles is wonderful!!
I was also marking the lines with 1/4" masking tape.  It was easy to apply while the work fit on my table.  As you can see the quilt is hanging off the edges.  So when it got too big, I moved to the floor.  It would have been fine to keep working on the table, and just move the quilt around, but it was not my process.  The floor worked better for me.  I used it as an excuse to bend and stretch! :)

I was also quite amazed that the front side and the back side lined up together so well!  This was especially noticeable when I trimmed the excess off the quilt from the front side, flipped it over, and found that the back was also centered!  Amazing! This is not typically my luck with two sided quilts.

After blocking, and trimming, I just needed to bind the quilt.  Fortunately, since both sides are yellow, it was not hard to pick a fabric!

The last task was to add a hanging tube.  I will post separately about the hanging tube, as it was quite the chore to make one that blended in with the quilt back.  If you look carefully, you can see it in the first photo of the entire quilt.  It is there! Really!