Saturday, December 31, 2011

Father Time Prepares for a New Year

My Hubby saves everything... including this postcard from Germany sent to HIS grandparents on December 28, 1909. Can you believe it? It was addressed by name and city in California. Thats it! It got to them. U.S. Postage was one cent! Here comes 2012!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Signing Off and Let's Face IT

I've said before I love signing my quilts NOT because I like looking at my name but because it means the QUILTING IS ALL DONE!!!!! Yeah. I usually sign my name in a less obvious place so as not to take any attention from the central image. This piece, being an exhibition piece is meant to have viewers know who did it so it will be a bit more prominent than some of my pieces... I first use a ruler to draw washout blue lines for upper, mid, lower positioning of each letter. I do everything in lower case because it feels right and is easier as well. I use 40 wt thread , sign each word/name forward... then backward thus ending where I began. I then move on to the next word/name and do the name, ending with a dot on the "i".
Trim threads, spray wet with water and allow to dry.
When you have clearly squared and trimmed your quilt, it's time to bind... or in this case FACE IT! I generally prefer this method on art pieces. I cut 2" strips that match the backing and sew them on the edges like a second border. IMPORTANT... I sew approximately a 1/8" seam as this will later be turned toward the back and offer less bulk. This looks a bit strange, I know...
(c) copywritten image)
Next, I iron turn under about 1/4" of the raw outer edge.
From the front, stitch that turned edge down.
One more round of stitching from the front...this time on the 1/8" seam where the 'border' is attached to the quilted piece. This stitching is done just a 1/16" off the seam ditch.
From here we begin working on 2 opposite sides first... then the remaining 2 opposite sides. This will take some time but will be well worth the effort as you will have clean/tight turns front to back... a nice finish!!!!!
Work on 1 side... spray wet the 1/8 in seam and slowly, forcefully roll and iron press the 'border' to the back... (When you see that 1/16 stitch line rolled toward the back... you've done well.) I use plenty of straight pins to pin this 'til it completely dries and holds shape. You then hand stitch the turned edge to the back. Repeat this process on the opposing side of the quilt.

When both of the 2 turned back sides are hand stitched down at the turned edge, you move on to the next opposing sides which are done the same way THOUGH you may end up trimming away some bulk at the corners where you have multiple layers of fabric.
Once these 2 final opposing sides are hand stitched down.... It's time for a sleeve.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fox Quilting Part IV

Almost done quilting... as now we move to the foreground where massive white snowdrifts appear. This will go relatively fast. It is common for me to work upside down when it seems easier to manage so thats the starting point here. This effort is sort of like taking the kind of echo lines you would see in Hawaiian quilting and mixing it with the kind of flow lines you might see in a slow moving stream.
This area is where having the poly batting directly beneath the top pays off. The snow looks kind of fluffy. Some directional changes in separated sections can add interest.
Once thats all done, it's time to prepare for squaring up.
(c) copyright
But before squaring up, I like to block the piece if there is even the slightest distortion from the quilting process. There was little to none on this piece partially because it is relatively small but here's the process.

Spray the quilt top with a clean water mist. Lay the dampened quilt on a pin-able surface (this is small so I can use my big board ironing board). Using your clean hands,"smush" the piece flat and insert straight pins to hold in place while it air dries. A more distorted piece would likely require many more pins than seen here.
After this dries, we'll sign and prepare to put a fine finish on the edges.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fox Quilting Part III

Now we can quilt out from the central figure Fox beyond the initial darker background thread work. I changed to a rayon icy light blue to begin working toward the limbs of the snowbound tree.
I've decided "not" to do thread work on the limbs but instead quilt around them.

I like the ink painted limbs so see no reason to 'over quilt' this piece. Quilting the cool background though makes a big difference. The temperature gets colder !!

Lastly, I'll finish quilting around the slushy background snow.
In the next step, we'll move to the snow banks in the foreground and soon be done quilting.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fox Quilting Part II

So this is where we were when the quilting sandwich was first put together. The white fox had been backed with a stabilizer when it was only a "TOP" piece. Then fairly heavy thread work was done on the fox itself...making certain the outer edge of the contour was not fully quilted as I planned to finish that area after the quilt sandwich was complete and the background area immediately surrounding the animal was quilted. That's exactly where we are now.
The original thinking was that I would more heavily quilt the fox than any other areas and the first 'pre sandwich' step would minimize the potential for surface distortion. That said, here we go... I first rethreaded the machine with the same white thread I used earlier, and then quilted/integrated the fox with the background by allowing some white fur stitches to overlap with the background.
At this point, I acknowledged the earlier discomfort I felt with the puffiness on the Fox body. So, since we get to change our mind from the original plan, I used the white thread to add some texture quilting atop the threadwork originally done. I definitely appreciate the improvement in the natural look of the Fox. He simply has more character now.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Favorite Gifts

My least favorite gift is the head pounding cold that arrived Christmas a.m. and isn't leaving anytime soon. BUT.... Check out this beautiful handmade wool pincushion from quilter friend Loretta Beaumont. Too special. Glad I got it!

Hope to be back at "THE FOX" shortly!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mary's Son...Our Father

To all Mothers... On this day so very long ago, a young Mary held her new born son unaware of the full impact he would have on our world.

My favorite Song Of The Season.... click here to see the most beautiful words to "Mary Did You Know"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hostess Gifting

Many of you have seen this pattern of sorts as a coaster or stemware base cover (??? I never got that one.) but I also think this is a GREAT potholder or hot pad as it can be made THICK!!!
In just over an hour, I was able to make 4 ( two 2 hot pad gifts) using part of that stash we all have. Two are for a Christmas Eve dinner at a females home. The darker earth colors are for a mans home and I admit I like these best,
Here's what you need to make ONE of these:
2 9" squares of cotton batting

3 9" squares of one cotton fabric
1 of these will be the back side of the hot pad while
2 of these are folded corner to corner wrong sides together and pressed

2 9" squares of a companion cotton fabric
both of these are folded corner to corner wrong sides together and pressed.

They are then laid out in the following order from bottom to top:

2 batting squares

1 9" cotton square right side FACE UP

each of the 4 triangled squares arranged point to one outside point of 9" square from above

Note.. pic on right side shows the elements in semi arranged order. pic on the left side has them lined up stacked up 'hotcake style' and pinned ready for stitching.

Stitch all the way around this stack using about a 1/2 inch seam. You may also choose to clip a little excess fabric/batting off at the corners.
Turn inside out, push out corners and press with iron. Voila!!!

HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS EVE and DAY !!!! Blessings to you ALL!!!!

Santa and Renoir's Two Sisters

The next couple days are crazy busy for all of us... I'm busy making last minute hostess gifts ( will try to post later as they are quick and easy) but have been gazing at this my favorite painting owned by the Chicago Art Institute. It is Renoir's... Two Sisters. The older sister's red hat is the most intense red anyone has ever seen in person. Wish I were there to see it in person again. Santa seems to like it!
Have a happy safe and beautiful Holiday.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fox Quilting Part 1

The background area immediately surrounding the fox is relatively dark and I wish it to stay that way with choice of thread, so I'm selecting a near matching color/value.
I've decided to quilt fairly close together so to knock down the background enough to really pop snow forward.
I come close to the edge of the fox contour without touching the white. I try to use graceful connections beside other areas. I "almost" never come straight to a stop at the edge of an adjoining area but instead turn the quilting line parallel to the contour edge... sort of the S curve idea. It makes a cleaner finished edge to the quilting pattern.
The snow really puffs up. It's may be a little more puffy than needed, but it looks pretty good.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Getting Secured

So I now have the quilt sandwich ready to start quilting. I still pin my quilts so my first task is to secure with monofilament the areas I will be working in...for now the fox, the sliding clumps of snow, and the tree limb area. I'll work on the bottom section of drifting snow later. The outside contour and the legs of the fox have been secured. His body looks a lot more puffy now than when I get him finished. It's going to be okay, really!
I secure the eyes, ears, nose, mouth.
then, working outward from center, I secure snowy slush / clumps, etc.
That gets the pins out of the way and I'm ready to actually do some quilting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Making A Different Quilt sandwich!

I'm inviting you along on a slight experiment with use of 2 layers of batting. I have used 2 layers before on other projects but not these types. Because this is a SNOWY scene, I wanted the unquilted clumps of painted snow to stand up above the quilted surface, so I'm trying a top batting layer of polyester and a back batting of cotton. The poly is for 'fluff' and the cotton is for weight to help the finished piece hang well.
With 2 layers of batting I needed to adjust my pressure foot height.
And...I definitely needed to put on my supreme slider sheet. It sooooo helps glide the back and forth stitch patterns I have planned for the background.
Ready Set!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stitching Atop Stabilizer

Stitching Atop Stabilizer isn't all that tricky but it does require you sample test your tension as it will possibly need be a little different than when quilting. I begin with somewhat graceful curved back and forth stitching trying to follow obvious body contour.
As part of planning ahead, I am not stitching white all the way to the edge of his body. I will want to 'quilt' in some of the surrounding background and then later quilt in white at the edges of the fox's body so the fur will set IN FRONT of the background. You may be saying.. WHY didn't she just quilt the background first? 2 reasons.... the white work was done on a stabilizer before the quilt sandwich but as importantly, planned disproportioned quilting density suggests working from center to outside will give you better surface results such for your quilt to hang flat.
So the body of the fox is stitched and I will want to make sure it is plenty flat before I make the quilt sandwich. This one wasn't distorted much at all, but a light water mist, and pinning to the ironing board to air dry will give me a little break and make for a perfectly flat surface on which to later quilt. Interesting fact: The Arctic fox is one of natures adaptation achievements. His camoflage is absence of color in the winter. He is brown in warm months. Click on photo for close up.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Prepping For "The Fox"

I have a basic mental plan for quilting this piece which will be my first element for machine work.
I already know I plan differing densities of quilting so that presents a problem or at least potential for surface distortion I don't want!!! I want to add some more dense thread work on the fox, so I will be adding that BEFORE I make the quilt sandwich. First on a piece of fusible stabilizer, I make a reverse tracing of the contour of the fox. I then cut it out maybe 1/8 inch larger than the contour.
Then it's a matter of following stabilizer directions and ironing on the backside of the fox. Note: What you immediately see in this picture is a pressing sheet ATOP the stabilizer... this so I don't get "glue gunk" on my iron. I hate that!!!
there it is... I will shortly begin the thread work from the front side.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What Looks Easy ... Often Offers Greatest Challenges

Okay... so we're building a simple tree with a few clumps of snow here and there. It's a slow process for me, mostly because I haven't sufficiently studied trees with snow on the limbs. I know I should have. I live in the mountains... but I admit that of late, when it starts to snow, I drive off the mountain to my studio condo. I don't mind the snow as much as I HATE icy roads which are so very common in our little one lane winding canyon road.
After painting in the branches, this is mostly a matter of painting away negative space which will start to integrate the limbs.
Just about ready for the next step which will finally involve a sewing machine!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Back At It!

Christmas planning and events got in the way of quilt related creativity for a bit.... but 'am back at it. I am following a general plan many painters do and that is to move toward getting the basic painting across the entire painting surface... (i'e' fabric here)... and later I will work on depth, value, color enhancement, etc. So the background behind this fox is intended to be sort of an out of focus slope of slushed and broken snow/ice.
This will be darkened/softened later on and you will note the fox is looking off to his left so I chose to add a snowbound tree to stop the eye. You can only slightly figure that out in the fabric drawing underneath the painting.
I'll be adding a good bunch of foliage... starting using a forest green brush-tipped Fabrico marker ... and used a loose push away motion to create branches and leaves..
Now to add a bit of weight and interest, a Truffle Brown (don't you love the name?!) Fabrico marker was used 'here' and there.
The addition also of a bit of chilly blue helps decrease the temperature.
Later..I'll be adding within the branches a softer blue and forest green 'scrubbing to add bulk to the tree limbs. Don't you know I'd love to stay at this but right now I must bake 12 loaves of pumpkin bread for my friendship group party coming up tomorrow. Happy shopping to those that still have some to do and happy wrapping to those that are done!