Friday, July 24, 2009

International Quilt Festival, Long Beach

International Quilt Festival, Long Beach
It's happening NOW! Pacific Coast Fiber Artists and Friends present "Edges" a 21-piece collection of art quilts. Curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison and sponsored by Quilting Arts/Interweave. This special exhibit will debut at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, CA - July 23-26th at the Long Beach Convention Center. Sadly, I am not there. I will have to settle for the vicarious experience of reading about it. And that was when my good friend, Leslie Jenison, emailed me this photo and told me that my quilt, A Few of My Favorite Things, is in the show catalog! Now that's a bit of good cheer!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ruffle Dress

Ruffle Dress
 She picked the fabrics (I helped a bit). The pattern is another Butterick (here). I thought it would look cuter with the ruffles, so I added some. It took all day, but completely worth it. She even said, "Thanks for sewing this dress for me, mom!" Big smiles all around!

I had this brilliant idea... I decided to put fusible on the back side of the facings. It was supposed to have interfacing, but I didn't use any. I thought that once I sewed the facing on and turned it to the inside, I could just iron it in place and it would never be a problem after that. The real trick is getting it turned and trying to make it lie flat enough to do the ironing. It was a mess. Fortunately, I was able to pull it up several times and then iron it carefully into place. It was NOT a time saver. But, after I was finished, I was really happy with the way it looks.

She has requested pockets for the next one, and I'm dyeing to use some of my fabrics for that one (like the pun??)!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Flying Cat Boys

Flying Cat Boys
To celebrate my 100th post, I am writing about my kitties today. At the end of May, my flying cat boys turned one year old! They are happy, well adjusted, healthy kitties. Here is a photo of the day we brought them home. Aren't they just so adorable? Makes you want to reach out and touch them!
 Here they are in my studio. I have opened the door for them with just the screen closed. This is also what I call "kitty round-up". They are not usually allowed into the studio because they like my pin cushions. But when they sneak in, they run under the sofa and dig in their claws. It is hard to extricate them. So I open the screen door and they eventually wander over. I let them look for a while, and when they start getting bored, I slowly pick them up, one at a time, and lovingly escort them out.
They have also learned to hunt bugs. And in the summer that is a wonderful thing! Sometimes at night a fly will get in. A picture is impossible, what I need is a video of them as their movements are as erratic as the fly's. It is hilarious, but also useful. They CATCH the flies!! Thank you good kitties! Here they are at the window. Almost all my pets are in this photo. You can't see the guinea pigs, but their cage is in the background. And my sweet and old Weimeramer just happened to be awake and alert for this one! That makes 7 out of the 8 pets. I'll save # 8 for another post.

Last one, kitties sleeping. Why do they line up like this? Some unknown kitty ritual? It is definitely cute though!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Joy of Sewing!

Joy of Sewing!
 I have discovered JOY! My daughter is growing too tall for kid clothes, so I decided to make her some. Luckily I found this Butterick pattern on sale for 99 cents! Hurray!
I let her pick her own fabrics with some guidance. I had wanted to use some of my fabrics, but a) the fabric line hasn't come out yet, and b) I didn't have enough yardage on hand. And while she wasn't looking, I added this little hand-dyed green applique heart. It was to go with the green in the ribbon. But still not enough green.
 I must digress for a moment to complain about a pattern that is sold as as EASY, but has flounces and inset sleeves. Neither of these is easy. Moreover, they wanted me to turn up a small 1/4 inch seem on those circles (TWICE!!) before cutting the holes in the centers and then trying to fit them to the ends of the sleeves. Have you ever hemmed a circle? It is not easy to make it look good. So I, in my infinite dispassion for hems, decided to line lime green....of course! It looks splendid, yes? As for functionality, I think it is a bit too heavy now for a flounce, but she loves it, so I guess it's okay.

Ironically, I almost gave up before I started. I wanted to make garments for her that had finished seams. I thought I needed to buy a new machine, an interlock (is that even the right name?), however, upon further investigation, it turns out that my little work horse of a Pfaff actually has a special foot.

It's called a blind stitch and overlock foot. Huh? I never even knew that such a thing existed. It made all the difference. I was able to easily overcast all the raw edges on the seams without rolling them into a huge bulky mess. They are beautiful, flat, and finished seams. Very Nice! The special foot has a tiny bar that lies along the edge of your fabric. It holds the tension of the thread while you are sewing so that it doesn't pull too tightly. It works on single layers of fabric and multiple ones. I LOVE IT! It is my new best friend. Now I will move on to another pattern for her, but if all goes well, I expect to be making variations of this one in the near future!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Building Up

Building Up
76" x 42"
This quilt is about the new trends in housing. Seems like urban sprawl is going tall. I believe there is an argument that denser housing is better for the environment, but I am not convinced. I think more people need more resources, no matter where you put them.

Happily, I got the news this week that this piece will be going to the International Quilt Festival in Houston in the juried exhibit called Quilts: A World of Beauty! Having a quilt get into this wonderful venue is such a thrill! And, I have another quilt going also. It is called Falling Through the Cracks and has just returned home from Ohio where it was in an exhibit called Sacred Threads.

It all started when I found an irrigation stake. Immediately I thought it would make the perfect cross inside a square or circle to look like windows. And with that inspiration, I set out to make as many color combinations as I could. I worked in fat quarter sized fabric, stamping one color at a time, bleach discharging, and then cutting up into pieces and dyeing in lots of different colors. In this way, I got a huge selection of magnificent colors to play with. You may notice from this shot that they are not all windows. I was also interested in exploring some other shapes, which were eventually not used for this project. Here are the warm colors, freshly washed and drying on my bed.
Here's the stack of completed squares. Next, I had a choice to make. I was either going to piece the squares, or fuse them. Ultimately, I decided to fuse them, I didn't want any of my precious colors hidden in seams. So, I put fusible webbing on the backs of all the squares and then trimmed them into squares with slightly rounded corners.
I decided that I wanted some color behind the blocks, so I threw up some solids on my design wall and began playing with the arrangement of blocks. Here's a shot of the beginning of the process, and then another one when I had most of the blocks up. I took photos in case this became the look I wanted. Then I took all the blocks down and tried a number of different arrangements. I could see how this could become a series of quilts!
Then I was wondering how to fuse all those puppies into place and keep their original layout in relationship to each other. That's when I had this brilliant idea!! I would tape fusible release paper to the floor! Put the squares exactly how I wanted and then just press into place ON THE FLOOR! It worked! Caveats: The paper is a bit slippery. For this large of a quilt, it was hard to reach all the pieces, so I had to Walk on it. This would occasionally shift things around. Irritating! And the iron cord also was annoying. I think technology has solved this problem, but I don't have one of those fancy new cordless irons, so I was beleaguered with iron DRAG. Meanwhile, if you are like me, your body is getting older, and bending on the floor to iron is just....uncomfortable, there, that's a polite way to say it! On the bright side, it did actually work, so I'm not complaining!

After fusing all the pieces, I sandwiched it with a backing and batting and hung it up to take a peek. Doesn't it look fabulous with my IKEA couch??

If you would like to see the quilting, look here.