Saturday, January 29, 2011

What I Did at the Guild Workshop Today

One of our guild members is transitioning into making beaded jewelry, and he taught a beading class at our winter workshop day. We set a cabochon onto a backing, held in place with peyote stitched beads. (and yes, I need a camera with a macro lens to take proper photos of work this small).

This is an in-progress project. I plan to put a backing on it and add some fringe at the bottom and it will either be a pendant or a pin - I haven't decided yet. This was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I haven't done any beading in at least a decade, but I guess the fingers remember.

I am also diligently working on quilts for the spring shows, and I will hopefully have something to post here by the end of this weekend.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chaos Theory - FINISHED

The quilt that I designed last June for the Woodbridge Heritage Quilters' challenge is finally finished! I still have to put a label on it, and I'm debating whether to print a double label using fabric and my laser printer (for this quilt and the Harvest Quilters challenge quilt which I will start quilting next), or use the alphabet function on my sewing machine and "embroider" a label.

Chaos Theory, 40"x40", Started: June 2010, Completed: January, 2011
Chaos Theory is named because of the "fractal" nine-patches in the corners, what I went through to piece all of the 677 pieces in this quilt,  and the chaotic and quasi random nature of the quitlting. Only the triangles were paper-pieced; everything else was just cut out and sewn together (the 9-patches were strip pieced, of course). The entire thing was designed with EQ7.

I started quilting it a few months ago, and wasn't really happy with what I was doing inside the large triangles, so I let it sit for a few months, and practiced my quilting. After doing that circular practice piece a couple of weeks ago, I felt confident enough to finish this.

This was also my first attempt at doing cross-hatching. I didn't mark the quilt, and I lived to regret that. I thought the guide thingy on my walking foot would be adequate for keeping the lines parallel, but I didn't figure on the fact that I was sewing on the bias and the border wanted to stretch a bit. So things kept getting out of alignment. However, it passes the horseback test, and I will enter it in the local juried show, anyway, juts to get the judges comments.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Iron Craft #4 - Coffee Cozy

Well, I don't drink coffee, and I especially don't drink it from paper cups from Starbucks. So when this week's challenge permitted mug cozys, I knew I could get this going.

Mine is pieced from selvages and quilted, with a vintage button (that means I went into my button stash, and the button is likely from some garment of my mother's, because after she passed, my button stash grew by about an order of magnitude. She kept a lot of buttons, and when I took apart her clothes for a memory quilt, I harvested the buttons from her blouses, sweaters and some coats.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rainbow Rubbing

I actually finished this wall hanging last night. This is the piece we did at the Anna Faustino workshop back in October, I think. I have decided that I don't like working with fabric that's been treated with fusible web, at least not for doing heavy quilting. It was an exercize in frustration and patience. But it's done.

The gray bits around the rainbow circle was created by rubbing silver Tsukenieko ink on the fabric, to give some visibility to the quilting.

I'm getting happier with how my feathers are turning out.

The shading in the center circles was done with Tsukenieko inks, and pastels. I also used some varigated thread - which I was planning to quilt the whole thing with. The incessant breakage made me abandon that for the solid black thread which seemed a bit more stable. Even though that would break frequently as well.

After the shows this spring, there is a good chance this piece will be offered for sale.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Sketchy Interlude

I've been sketching a lot this weekend, because I can sit next to the woodburning stove and sketch. I've done a couple of pen and ink sketches and then a couple of watercolors.

This one is the first one I did to get away from my constantly breaking thread.

The next day, I did this one with pen and watercolor pencils that I "activated" with water and a brush- the paper's not watercolor paper, so the results were a little "bumpy". However, I really like the black blue and white shapes (with the dots) and that might morph into an actual fabric design down the road.

This next sketch is just en and markers, getting away from simply doodling - this was my "therapy" from getting cut at my audition yesterday.

And this final ink and watercolor is my entry for this week's Iron Craft challenge, "Bunting"  - I wasn't feeling particularly crafty this weekend, and I've been wanting to break out my watercolors for a week or so already. I was using one of my "travel" watercolor kits (minimal set up/breakdown), so the palette is rather limited. If I had the time and energy, I'd have created this scene in fabric or paper cutouts, but I want to get back to finishing some quilts.

I probably need to dig out my scanner and set it up again, because snapping photos of my sketchbooks isn't really giving me "good results"

About my Faustino class quilt - I discovered that I can heat-set some oil pastels onto the black fabric and they work in a similar way to the Shiva paint sticks (which I don't have on hand). I can get a bit of color onto the black fabric so the quilting isn't completely lost. I'm hoping to get this quilt done this week.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I guess it's the quilt top?

Remember last week, when I breezed through quilting a small quilt with nary a snag?

Well, this week, I am wrestling with my fusible applique quilt from the Faustino workshop, and I've got breaking threads every few minutes and it's driving me NUTS. There are no photos as yet, it will have to wait until the quilt's finished. The only difference is that the entire quilt top is backed with fusible web, and I'm guessing that's what's giving me the trouble. I switched to a larger topstitch needle, and that didn't help at all.

To get away from the machine for a bit and calm down,  I did some doodling last night. I have a picutre of that, at least.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Iron Craft 2011 Challenge

To prove my utter insanity, I am taking the Iron Craft challenge for 2011, which is to create a craft every week (or as many as humanly possible) for the entire year. I've already missed the first one, since I found out about it just a couple of days ago, and we'll see how I do with this week's challenge, which is to make a door jamb draft blocking device.

We really need these. So much so that my husband went out and purchased a pair of commercially-made draft protectors 2 days ago! (They do work, but I don't like how they obstruct the door operation).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quilting practice

Before I tackle any of my pieced quilts, I wanted to practice my free-motion quilting. So I cut out a couple of 20" diameter circles and "sketched with thread". I think I'm improving - the machine was acting great with no snags or bad stitches on the underside. One of the things that I paid attention to was slowing down - that made a big difference.

I also tried out the water-soluble marker, which worked amazingly (hence the dark areas on the quilt; the fabric was wet when I took the photos. Ironically, I didn't use any of the markings for the quilting, as I wasn't happy with what I drew. So this design was completely spontaneous while I was quilting. I used some cheap poly batting scraps I had laying around, but doubled to give the piece some loft and make the feathers and larger shapes "pop".

I'll be finishing the binding at the guild meeting tonight, and at the Garden State Quilters' show in May, this little quilt will be in the "little wishes" raffle (we raffle off a lot of small quilts during the show). I may also display it at the Harvest Quilter's show in March, depending on what's finished in my show queue.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I've been remiss recently. I've had some good excuses - I was in costume-mode for a couple of months this fall, making outfits for a full production of Romeo & Juliet, where my output was at least as prolific as a contestant on Project Runway with the added excitement of holding a full-time job at the same time.

I only returned to the sewing machine last week, where I banged out a quilt top for the Harvest Quilter's 2011 challenge. I am still mulling over how to quilt it. I will have to get a move on with that; the quilt show is in March. The challenge fabric is the blue & white stripe with the red flowers. I think the piece I was given was slightly less than 1/8 yard, and it's something that I would never purchase for my stash on my own. I might wear a bathing suit made of that print once I lose 60 pounds, but it's definitely not "me".

Other rules for the challenge was the overall size must be under 180" in total circumference, and can not use more than 5 additional fabrics. (The fabrics I've chosen are behind the challenge fabric).

A further constraint that I put on myself is that I could only use fabrics already extant in my stash. I did a little bit of fabric purchasing over the holidays (right after the Hoffman Challenge for 2011 fabric was announced), and I don't have room to store what I bought already. I'm using a medium-blue batik, a dark blue Hoffman print from around 10 years ago that I adore,  and a light-blue fabric from the Beatles' Yellow Submarine collection that came out a few years ago. the red and green were FQ prints that I picked up somewhere along the way.

I designed my quilt in EQ7, using mostly blocks from their block library. The borders are my own design.

The center blocks are called Staccato Corner (and are supposed to be part of a border pattern), the surrounding blocks are Thrifty. The corner blocks in the border are 3" Double Monkey Wrench, and the border design is of my own devising.

Of course, I realized, after it was "too late," that  I should have foundation-pieced the Double Monkey Wrenches, as working on tiny blocks like that is challenging to get things perfect. One would think I knew this already from my Chaos Theory quilt.


The other issue is the center. As you may have noticed, there are 32 separate pieces of fabric coming together in one single point at the center of this quilt. I don't think I will be able to get my quilting foot under that at all when I quilt this, so I need to come up with something that doesn't require stitching around the center of the quilt.

The center blocks were paper pieced.

I am also writing up this pattern. This time I took some decent notes as I was constructing each block, so I should have the pattern done fairly soon.

I have some ambitious plans for quilting in 2011 - there are 2 local guild shows this spring that I'll be making new quilts for, and I really want to get something entered in the Hoffman Challenge this year, and some other surprises in the works. I also plan to blog more regularly. So, till next time, keep on quilting!