Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

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!

Progress and the Pixies Against Pride

March 28, 2018

At the risk of angering the Pixies Against Pride, I am celebrating progress again by almost completing something from my list of unfinished projects for the guild challenge.

It looks slaunchygoggle here, but it is straight and flat

Yes, this quilt looks horribly off-kilter. Trust me, the blocks are straight, but my camera angle wasn’t, and I suspected the pixies were trying to knock me down a peg so I let it go. I quilted most of the piece on my home machine, then decided to add a few beads with hand quilting.

White beads on white fabric = texture

My art quilt group is exploring texture, and I briefly thought about using this quilt because of the beads. It doesn’t really fit the parameters of the assignment, however, so I took another look at my list of unfinished projects and pulled out a collection of embroidered and appliqued blocks.

I’m not sure these blocks fit the assignment either, but I’ll try to get double-duty from the project. Just don’t tell the pixies.

Luck and wisdom!

Small Quilts, Large Stacks

March 21, 2018

My quilt guild’s year-long challenge to get things done is working. I finished the project due next month. It’s a small quilt, but it was on a large stack of projects so making any kind of a dent in that pile is a victory.

Trees in my neighborhood – palm, pine, deciduous

In the interest of full disclosure, I will probably add more beads to the quilt at a later date, but for now I’m satisfied with this one embellishment.

While I was inspired, I made a few more small quilts. This one is called Equilibrium, in honor of spring, which is today.

Not pastels, but still a spring quilt

I also finished one of the blocks from the Peggy Martin workshop for the Display Block Committee of Amador Valley Quilters. The guild has a collection of 16-inch blocks that we can show at schools, libraries, or other events.

Seeing all the progress in my sewing room made me take another look at the stacks by my computer. I have almost as many writing projects as I do quilting projects. As with my quilting, I envisioned creating a body of work that I could submit for contests. That didn’t happen. As with quilting, when those Call For Entry emails arrive they are usually accompanied by guidelines. I’ve tried writing artist statements that would convince a panel the quilt I had really does fit the contest, but those statements rarely made sense even to me so I knew a judge wouldn’t buy it. There’s even less wiggle room with writing contests. That’s why I’m going to start posting twice a week now–once for quilting, once for writing. Wednesdays will still be quilting day. I’m not sure which day will be writing day, but I’m leaning toward Monday. Now that I’ve put my intentions out to the universe, I have to be accountable. I’m putting myself on the journey to finishing what I start in all aspects of my life.

Luck and wisdom!

Experiments for Pi Day

March 14, 2018

My husband asked for pecan pie to celebrate 3/14, Pi Day. I have a great recipe, because it’s easy – when you have all the ingredients. When you don’t, well, how else should one celebrate a made-up math holiday than by experimenting?

The pie for Pi Day

First, I had some Trefoil Girl Scout cookies that needed eating and not entirely by me, which is a problem because I’m the only one who really likes those cookies. I decided to make the crust from them, which worked fine except I ended up with more cookie crumbs than required. My experiment was to add a little more butter and use them all. It worked. Then I discovered I didn’t have corn syrup for the filling, so I used molasses. That made the filling a little bitter, so I added chocolate chips – and more butter. Heaven only knows what the calorie count is, but the pie tastes good. That’s all that matters with cooking experiments.

The same is true of quilting experiments. I took Peggy Martin‘s Jelly-roll Jive workshop on Sunday, only instead of a jelly-roll I brought some 2 1/2″ strips from my stash. I chose from the not-quite-scraps drawer, those pieces too large to go in the scrap bag but too small to make an entire quilt. I figured if I got a decent block out of it, great; if not, I hadn’t lost much.

Perhaps I’ll call this Blueberry and Pecan

Turns out I got a great five blocks. I made four blocks from blue and beige fabric. My first thought was to make a traditional 4-block medallion wall-hanging, but turning it on point is more interesting. I’m not sure how I’ll fill it out, but that’s an experiment for another day.

A second experiment for another day is this last block that I made from fat quarters I bought in New Mexico. I have enough fabric of a similar nature to make a small wall-hanging, and a boatload of beads that might find a home on the piece.

I hope all your experiments go well today and every day.

Luck and wisdom!

Leftovers

March 7, 2018

I had some green felt left over from the project with ribbon roses, and some hand-dyed purple cotton thread, so I decided to resurrect my purplework project. Purplework is like redwork, just in purple. I thought I had sketched some patterns a long time ago, but I couldn’t find them. “Self,” I said, “wing it.”

Target or alien spaceship?

To be honest, I did use Helen Stubbings’ Simply Redwork for inspiration. The motif in the picture above is the whole reason I bought the book.

These flowers are from her book too. Once I finished them, I took out some other embroidery books and played.

Sea creature or alien spaceship?

I’m not sure what I was thinking with this one. I might add beads, or I might turn the pointy motif into a tiny sea creature by adding legs and antennae.

This last piece definitely needs more beads. I started with a paisley motif, but stopped partway through because I liked the idea of hanging flowers. Now I’m not so sure. The great thing about this project is everything was left over, so even if I’m not entirely pleased with the result I’ve learned something for the next time.

Luck and wisdom!

Cityscape in Felt

February 28, 2018

The last Challenge Group project was to take a piece of art and mess with it. I pulled out my art books, looking for inspiration, and found it in a Howard Behrens cityscape of San Francisco. I messed with the concept by putting it on felt. This is what started my journey.

From a book of Behrens’ work – a street in San Francisco

This is what I got after stripping together some scraps that didn’t always match Behrens’ colors but suggested buildings to me.

A street, an ocean, a sky

I put the pieced work on felt because the felt was there and I thought I could see if I liked the idea of matting the pieced section. Then I thought, “Self, leave it on the felt and do some embroidery. Pretend it’s a crazy quilt and see where it leads you.” This is what I’ve done so far.

This may turn out to be one of those never-ending story quilts. I’ve added a few lines of embroidery, let it rest a day or two, added a few more. As I dig through my floss and specialty thread collection, I have been inspired to push the design in a different direction. Who knows what it will look like when it is closer to done?

Luck and wisdom!

Experiments with Landscape Fabric

February 21, 2018

A non-woven fabric to use in landscaping

And you thought I meant fabric with flowers and trees. No, this is actually some plastic-y non-woven material that bills itself as a plant and seed blanket. My husband bought it at our local Orchard Supply Hardware store, but for some reason I can only find an online link at Amazon. He gave me a leftover chunk and asked if I thought I could use it for a quilt.
Boy, could I.

I call this piece “Gut Feeling”

The material is nubbly, like an iron-on interfacing, so it grabs hold and won’t shift during sewing. I sprinkled sequins and seed beads over the background and quilted them in place. While the material is as transparent as a tulle or netting, it won’t allow the small beads to slip through the holes.

Secure sequins

It also shimmers, making it a good candidate for water effects.

Ocean

You can make reasonably clean cuts close to the stitching line.

I have no idea how long this material will hold up, nor what it will do to the cotton underneath it. That’s part of this experiment. Still and all, it’s fun to play with.

Luck and wisdom!

The Snarky Woman’s Guide to Home and Travel

February 7, 2018

The Progressive Party often has a little rejuvenation session between rounds. I call it our One Month Wonder routine, as we take a month to make one block for each member of the group. We pick a theme and hope for the best. Those hopes are well-founded, as this last collection shows. I plan to combine them into a quilt called The Snarky Woman’s Guide to Home and Travel.

Homes, modes of transport, and sassy ladies all in a row

You may recognize the spaceship blocks from an earlier post (Quilt Dreams). I made extras, so I’ll have two in my quilt. This one has bling.

While I’m not really keen on tootling around the country in an RV or trailer, if I would do such a thing this is the trailer I would use.

I love this block because the house reminds me of Joseph Eichler’s classic California houses. If I could manage to keep a clutter-free lifestyle, I wouldn’t mind living in one of these homes. In truth, I belong in one of those fussy Victorians that everyone expects to be stuffed beyond the laws of physics. Perhaps that is why I have been writing a blog about cleaning my sewing room for so many years without actually getting the space tidy.

Luck and wisdom!