Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Design Dilemma

July 11, 2018

As much as I love to quilt, I’m not great at coming up with quilting designs. I’ve got stacks of books, templates, and examples, but they don’t always answer the question, “What does this quilt need?”

What to do with the white space beyond the blue border?

This quilt has been sitting in a stack for years because I don’t know what I want to do with all that white space. Also, I don’t know how I want to mark it since (A) I hate marking and (B) I don’t want to discover I’ve made a mistake and have to try to erase whatever marks I’ve made. It’s real easy to push the quilt to the back of the closet when I have not only a design dilemma but a technical dilemma.

A Styrofoam cup makes a great canvas

One of my friends suggested I grab a pencil and let a quilt design flow from my fingers with a doodle. As the above photo demonstrates, I doodle on everything. Doodling is not the problem – choosing is the problem. So, I’m opening the floor to you. Any suggestions?

Luck and wisdom!

Overkill – It’s Genetic

July 4, 2018

My grandmother used to say it was nothing for one woman to cook for fifty people. Trouble was, she cooked for fifty even when she was serving five, and her food was so delicious we five would eat as if we were fifty (and starving). I guess I learned the overkill lesson a little too well, because I took along three projects when I demonstrated quilting at the county fair last week, and only worked on one.

I call it Forest Floor – Abstract

At least I finished the embellishment part of the project at the fair. I will use a facing rather than a binding for this abstract forest floor. I didn’t get a chance to start the piece I intend to turn into an impressionist landscape until later in the week.


As I suspected, the paint on this fabric is really stiff. I started beading the sections that look like flower beds with the idea of embroidering leaves and vines later. The leaves and vines might have to be sketched in with a permanent marker. I am beading and stipling through the fabric and a layer of batting.

I will probably finish the piece with a Laura Wasilowski technique, demonstrated in this tutorial. She is as wonderful a teacher of fiber art as my grandmother was a teacher of cooking. I hope you are also fortunate enough to be able to learn from the best.

Luck and wisdom!

Demonstration Projects – Beginning

June 27, 2018

I volunteered to demonstrate quilting techniques at the county fair, which means coming up with projects. There are 1001 projects waiting for attention in my sewing room, and I had the hardest time choosing. In the end, I decided to go with what I could reach.

A few beaded flowers, and I’ve got myself a landscape

This piece of fabric is the last one I “printed” from a tray of acrylic paint. I gently pressed the fabric into the tray and let it absorb the paint, then moved it to other areas to get the last blobs. Viewing the piece from this angle, it looks like an impressionistic landscape. I plan to demonstrate beading techniques to enhance that effect.

Think trees

While searching for a background for a Challenge Group assignment, I found this commercial print. It will work perfectly for my idea of an abstract landscape (specifically a forest floor). Beads, embroidery floss, and sequins are in its future.

Whether these experiments work or not, at least I’ll have something to show today. If the crowd is particularly creative, they may give me better ideas.

Luck and wisdom!

The Creative Power of Packaging

June 13, 2018

I bought a kit at a white elephant sale simply because of the way it was packaged. The kit contained all the makings for felt ornaments. They’re cute, but I didn’t buy the kit for the ornaments. This is the item that drew me in:

I can’t resist bright shiny things that are also tiny and cute

As I disassembled the kit to retrieve my shiny, glittery rick rack (which I have no idea what to do with but I really, really wanted), my inner voice spoke. “Self, use this same technique on your next Unfinished Quilt Project.”

My challenge is to create a quilt out of these tea towels. I like them too much to wipe dishes with them. They don’t go together thematically, but they have a similar color scheme. And I have a drawer full of blue and green scraps.

I realized that successful packaging has a point of interest and good flow. Since the concept worked to sell me a kit of felt ornaments (which I will make at some point), it will work to create a quilt.

Luck and wisdom!

Discipline and Diligence

June 6, 2018

I wrote a blog for the Tri-Valley Writers website about discipline, diligence and productivity. Even as I was writing it, the snarky angel on my shoulder snorted. “Honey,” it said, “if you could actually be disciplined and diligent, you wouldn’t still have a messy sewing room.” So I decided to break down some of my tasks to help achieve my goals.

Four projects on the list, ready to be basted and quilted

I have finished the tops for several quilts on my Unfinished Quilt Challenge list. The number for the next project we need to complete will be drawn this week. I had a little extra time and decided to make backs for those quilts. I won’t layer them until their number is drawn, but when it comes up I can do that immediately.

I’m also working on one of the projects, a baby quilt. It’s small, but it’s also a traditional quilt, and I lose focus making the same block over and over. I’ve been sewing a few blocks here and there, and will be able to put the center together soon. The final border and back will be the same fabric.

Today is the anniversary of D-Day (6-6-44), and I’m taking that as a good omen. Diligence and discipline may not be my forte, but I can learn.

Luck and wisdom!

Graffiti Quilt – An Omen, Or Just Crankiness?

May 30, 2018

The latest Challenge Group project is to do something with graphics, graffiti, or lettering. At first I thought of doing an illuminated letter, but then I discovered fabric that looked like a concrete brick wall. “Self,” I said, “make something bright and cheerful on that.” It didn’t quite work out.

Not exactly cheerful

No matter how hard I tried, I could not come up with anything bright and cheerful. Even my message is a downer.

What if this is exactly the world you asked for?

The back is no better. It is a remnant of a piece I bought to make a series of World War I quilts. I’ve also used it for some fire quilts.

Good for explosions or fire

I suppose I’m in a dark mood because there’s an election coming up and my phone is ringing off the hook with campaign calls. We’ll see if my cheeriness returns after the results are announced.

Luck and wisdom!

Years In The Making

May 23, 2018

 

I found two quilts in that stack in the back of the closet (and I should really be singing that line to “There’s A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea”) that were finished except for binding. I know they were there for ten years, maybe fifteen. Possibly twenty. Waiting for binding.

I have no memory of making this. It is heavily quilted, and even has back art.

The batting is 100% polyester, which I haven’t used in ages. I bound it in a solid black. I have no idea why I couldn’t make that decision twenty years ago.

I vaguely remember making this quilt. I have no idea why I left it to languish when all I had to do was bind it.

The good news is they are bound now. What happens to them next? Who knows. I will leave you with a song (yes, to the tune of “There’s A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea”), and I hope with the sense that your own stack of UFOs isn’t really that disgraceful.

There’s a stack in the back of the closet

There’s a stack in the back of the closet

There’s a stack, there’s a stack

There’s a stack in the back of the closet

There’s a quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a quilt, there’s a quilt

There’s a quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a patch, there’s a patch

There’s a patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a bead on the patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a bead on the patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a bead, there’s a bead

There’s a bead on the patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

Luck and wisdom!

Is There A Modern Quilter in Me?

May 2, 2018

I ran across some visual aids Ann Anastasio and I used in a workshop a long time ago. We were illustrating how you could adapt traditional blocks with contemporary fabrics to come up with some new design options. If we had only used gray or white backgrounds, we could have founded the Modern Movement. Ah, well.

Imagine this with a neutral background

This is Diamond in a Rectangle, made up of four half-rectangle triangle units. Most of us can piece half-square triangle units in our sleep. It isn’t hard to stretch out that square, and look at the result.

Most of us can also piece Log Cabins in our sleep. This is what happens when you do one round of logs in varying widths. Easy-peasy, and you can highlight a focus fabric.

The slice-and-dice technique was one of my favorites for adding a color pop while still keeping my focus fabric prominent in the block. I must admit I haven’t used it in a long time, but I imagine it will appear in my next project. Whatever your go-to techniques are today, consider resurrecting things you used to do. Sometimes everything old really is new again.

Luck and wisdom!

Felt Patches with Buttons

April 25, 2018

I unearthed more felt in my studio. I have no idea when – or why – I bought it. Still, it’s in my possession so I figure I should turn it into a project. My other felt patches worked pretty well, so I decided to go smaller and use up some of my button collection with this latest experiment.

This is a great project to sew while watching TV. If you have a bunch of precut squares and leftover floss, you can keep your fingers occupied through many a binge-watching session. I had a supply of 2” strips, so I cut the first felt square 2 ½ inches, the second 3 inches.

These little patches can be attached to tote bags, pillows, quilts, dog collars, baseball hats, whatever you have around that cries out for embellishment. If you decide to make some, send me a picture of where they end up. We could start our little journey of the traveling patches.

Luck and wisdom!

A Sci-Fi Crazy Quilt

April 4, 2018

When Ann Anastasio and I wrote our first novel, Death By Chenille, we planned to create patterns for the quilts mentioned in the book. I volunteered to make the crazy quilt we described. I thought it would be pretty, and I love to embroider. Well, our third novel, The Chenille Ultimatum, has just been published and I’m finally getting started on the blocks. I have them pieced, but not embellished.

I believe this one will have yellow chevrons

Although we have mentioned this quilt in all three books, we haven’t described it lately so I had to go back and read the description. I’m one of the authors–you would think I could remember my own words. Not so much. “Self,” I said, “this crazy quilt idea is getting crazier by the minute.”

We described one block bisected with an embroidered ribbon

The quilt plays an important role in getting the aliens to trust the humans. The embroidery stitches tell the story of the first time they visited Earth. I had worked out what each stitch meant. Unfortunately, I succumbed to the worst lie writers tell themselves: “I’ll remember this later. No need to write it down now.” Of course I don’t remember what I had in mind and now I have to come up with embroidery patterns that fit.

The cross-stitch tells the story of the first time the aliens visited Earth

Our books are cozy sci-fi, which means the science is wibbly-wobbly because humor is more important than equations (our aliens disguise themselves as bolts of beige fabric, for Pete’s sake), so I’m hoping our readers are the cozy and forgiving sort. I am counting on the kindness of quilters who will agree that a finished quilt is beautiful, even if it doesn’t entirely fit the description in the book.

Luck and wisdom!