Monday, December 31, 2012

Finally...a Picture

I have had this piece finished for awhile now, but I hadn't taken a picture of it. It is a piece that is stitched to a black fabric that has been stretched over a frame. I don't have anywhere to hang it to take a good photograph of it. Today, I just decided I'd try to get SOME picture taken. I needed to use pictures of parts of it for a blog post I was writing for the And Then We Set It On Fire blog. I sat it on my couch and took pictures. They aren't great, but they will do for now.

The inspiration for the piece came from some "doodles" I had drawn awhile back. I blew the "doodles" up to the size I wanted and then tried to figure out how I would translate the drawing into fabric. Here is how it turned out.
The "spikes" on the bottom left are paper pieced. I have made small white yoyos and placed them in a couple of locations on the quilt. (I added one red yoyo as a focal point.) There is a bit of beading using black seed beads on the right-hand side (to the right of the red yoyo). I have used some white bias strips to make the squiggly lines on the bottom right. The checkerboard at the top right is machine appliqued. The clam shell shapes are all hand embroidered using both the stem stitch and satin stitch. The design in the upper left is primarily made of French knots, but I have also used the stem stitch and satin stitch there too. The stripes "behind" the yoyos are machine appliqued. It is hand and machine quilted, and the size of the piece is approximately 24" X 30".

Here is a close up. I think you can click on the picture and get an even closer look.

I had SO much fun making this piece and hope to get it juried into some shows in the future. I don't have a name for it yet. Any suggestions?

I have linked this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays here

Monday, December 3, 2012

Check It Out

Check out this month's posts on the And Then We Set It On Fire blog. For the first eight days of the month the resident artists are reviewing some of their favorite books. We thought it might be nice to include some gifts, so each day there is a giveaway of some sort. So far, I know about these giveaways (there may be more)--books, a 6-month membership to The Quilt Show, and a journal with a special hand-made cover. There is still time to get in on the giveaways by leaving a comment on each post.

Here is the lineup so far...
December 1st Book Review by resident artist Nienke Smit--Textile Adventures of Mirjam Pet-Jacobs and Textile is Alive! by Ellen Bakker. The winner of the giveaway will be chosen December 8.

December 2nd Book Review by resident artist Karen Silvers--The Sketchbook Challenge by Sue Bleiweiss and Melanie Testa's Dreaming from the Journal Page. The winner of the giveaway will be chosen December 9.

December 3rd Book Review by resident artist Beth Berman--Finding Your Own Visual Language written by Claire Benn, Leslie Morgan, and Jane Dunnewold. The winner of the giveaway will be chosen December 10.

December 4th Book Review by resident artist Judy Sall--Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth by Rayna Gillman. The winner of the giveaway will be chosen December 11.

December 5th Book Review by resident artist Judith DeMilo Brown--Sock Appeal and Sockology by Brenna Maloney. The winner of the giveaway will be chosen December 12.

December 6th Book Review by Me!--Art + Quilt, Design Principles and Creativity Exercises. The winner of the giveaway will be chosen December 13.

December 7th Book Review by Ann Vanherle--Picture This--How Pictures Work by Molly Bang. The winner of the giveaway will be chosen December 14.

December 8th Book Review by Beata Keller-Kerchner--I don't know what she'll be reviewing yet, but come on over to the blog and find out. have to leave a comment on each post to be in the drawing for each giveaway. Have fun reading the reviews, finding out about books that might interest you, and getting a chance to win a great gift.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Apron Update

Awhile back, I made aprons for my three new little granddaughters--ages 7, 4, and 2. Well, we had Thanksgiving AND Christmas with them last weekend. Along with the aprons, I got them each Play Dough, a rolling pin, and other "dough" cutting tools. I have to say...this gift was a BIG hit!

Check out the girls in their aprons.

This is Bianca and Lula.

This is Holland.

If you'd like to see the original post about the aprons (maybe you'd like to make one), here is the link. APRONS. It is #2 under "Other Projects."


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Find Art Wherever You Go

While I was in Vegas for my son's wedding, I was on the lookout for art. I found this...

There is an exhibit of Chihuly glass at the Bellagio Hotel. The ceiling in the lobby is covered with beautiful, colorful glass. It is breathtaking.

I'm also always on the lookout for inspiration for my doodling. Here's what I found.

This is at one of the entrances to the MGM.
This is the carpet in the MGM.
This is a Louis Viutton window. The art in the window is by Yayoi Kusama.
Inspiration can come from ANYWHERE!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wedding Gift

My son married a wonderful woman this past weekend. Their wedding was a "destination wedding" to Las Vegas so a wedding gift had to be small enough to fit in their luggage. I thought about it for a long time and decided to draw them a picture. I finished it the day before we flew out and only had a day to get it framed. Luckily, one of my friends owns a great little shop called Elements. She did a really nice, really fast framing job for me. I'm happy with how it turned out. (Thanks Kathy!)

Ryan and Tara liked it and told me tonight that they have it up on their mantle. If you take a closer look at the picture (by clicking in it) you will notice the heart with the four small red hearts in it. Those hearts represent Tara's children; she has four. Over the weekend I gained a new grandson and three new granddaughters. I'm excited!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Quilt Retreat

My local guild had its fall quilt retreat the last weekend in October. It was nice to do some "mindless" sewing. I thought I'd work on some Christmas gifts for my new little granddaughters. (My son is marrying a wonderful woman with four children--a boy and three girls.) This is the first time I've had a chance to sew for little girls. (I've only had grandsons previous to this.) I started off with these little aprons for the girls. They are reversible.

One side...
Other side

One side...

Other side
I'm hoping the girls will like these. They were really fun to make. (If you'd like to make some for your special little people, check out my blog post about them here. They are #2 under "Other Projects.")

I also made some blocks for quilts for the girls.

Actually, my plan was to make diamond quilts (like the bottom of the picture). As you can see, though, I didn't make enough "reverse" blocks. I'll have to get busy on those here at home. I'm using a used dryer sheet as a foundation for the string piecing. I won't have to tear off the dryer sheets before putting the quilt together, because the dryer sheets are VERY light. I DID read about using the dryer sheets somewhere in cyberspace, but (for the life of me) I can't remember where.

I also worked on a table runner and got some hand quilting done on my "caged" bias series. I didn't get pictures of those, though. Are you working on Christmas gifts?


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Frixion Pen Review and a Bit of Good News

This last weekend I went to a quilting retreat hosted by my quilt guild. It is always lots of fun. This year we even had participants from Paducah, KY, and Memphis, TN (pretty far from southern Indiana). One of the girls from Memphis showed me a pen that I don't have (and I AM a gadget queen). She said it is a pen that a "famous" quilter recommends for marking quilts, so I thought I should check it out. The pen makes a very clear mark on the fabric and "disappears" when it is ironed; the marks reappear with cold and supposedly wash out. Now, I LOVE my Bohin chalk marking pen for most jobs, but I'm finding that the marks are getting rubbed off by me dragging the quilt all over the place (I travel a lot.) while the hand quilting is in progress.

The Pilot Frixion pen is intended for use on paper--not fabric, so I decided I needed to test it. Since the fabric I want to mark is red, I thought I'd see what effect the pen had on that. I thought I'd also try it on white. First I used a permanent marking pen to label each area to be marked. After ironing and icing (running an ice cube over the fabric), I'll be washing the fabric.

In the picture above, you see what the fabric looked like before I did any ironing, icing, or washing. The next picture shows what the marks looked like after ironing.

In the pictures above, the "Xs" that are left were not ironed. I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but where the "Xs" had been there is a sort of "ghost" print of the marks on the white fabric. On the red, there is the slightest little bit of discoloration--the "X" is a TINY bit lighter.

Above, you can see that the "Xs" have returned after I rubbed an ice cube over them. They are a bit lighter than the originals.

Below, you can see how the marks look after washing and drying. (I used cold water and detergent.) There are absolutely no marks left in the fabric (ghost or otherwise) except for the permanent pen I used to label each section. Even the discoloration in the red fabric is gone. I also ran an ice cube over each piece, and none of the marks came back.

Based on this experiment, I have to give this pen a thumbs up for pieces you can throw in the washer after quilting. I used a blue Frixion pen and have no idea what the other colors would do. Supposedly, the "famous" quilter uses only the blue pen.

Oh, I'd also like to share that two of my pieces were juried into "The View from Here: Quilts of the Ohio River Valley. SAQA members from Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio." The exhibit will be on display during the International Quilt Festival Cincinnati, 2013 from April 11-13 at the Duke Energy Convention Center, 5th Street, downtown Cincinnati, OH. If you are interested in seeing which ones, check here. They are the first quilts in the post--The View from Within and Black Beauties. I'm tickled!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fire Blog--3-D Shibori Technique

This month, over at the Fire blog, we are trying out the 3-D shibori technique. It involves using polyester fabric, tying various shaped objects into the fabric, and boiling the fabric to make the shapes permanent. I finally had a chance to try this month’s technique and got some promising results. Here are some of my final fabrics. If you'd like to see more (and how this process is done) check out my post and the 3-D Shibori tutorial by Nienke Smit. You might also want to check out what some of the other resident artists have done with the technique too.
I’m thinking several pieces done like this might look really cool “caged” in my bias strips for a new piece in my series.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

LAFTA Project

Every few years, LAFTA (Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists) members work together to develop a piece of art that is then donated to a local non-profit organization.  These non-profits have included The Home of the Innocents, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Brown Cancer Center and Family and Children First.  

This year, LAFTA is doing another collaborative project for Jefferson Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center (JADAC). Information about JADAC is available at their website LAFTA members who chose to participate agreed to create a piece of fiber or textile art that inspires those individuals seeking help from JADAC as well as their families. Participating members made a single piece using an 11" X 14" pre-stretched canvas. These individual pieces will be hung in groups in one or more locations at JADAC where clients and family gather. (Some members chose to do more than one piece.) 

This is the piece I did; it is called Lift Off. When I made the piece, I thought about the darkness surrounding addiction--the stresses and pressures of every day life weighing heavy upon the soul. Many times the despair becomes deep enough that parts of the soul can break away--sometimes for protection. Through training for a battered women's crisis line, I learned that sometimes people in crisis feel that the known (no matter how bad it is) is better than the unknown. Here, the central character has chosen to "fly" into the unknown. The decision has finally been made to reach out for help, for life, and for the parts of the soul that were lost to addiction. I tried to portray a feeling of weightlessness--the discarding of all the "heavy" things that were hampering the recovery of this person's true essence.

As you can see, this piece is heavily hand quilted. The background and bottom-right-hand block are made from some of my snow-dyed fabric, the central character is made from fabric on which I tried sugar syrup resist, and the sun is made of hand-dyed fabric with a flour paste resist. FINALLY, I have used some of my surface design fabric from my projects on the And Then We Set It On Fire Blog!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Terrific Tutorial Tuesday--Design Walls

I have a design wall in my quilting studio which I use all the time. I purchased two sheets of lightweight insulation board from one of the big box stores. I covered the boards with batting and attached the batting to the board with heavy-duty staples. Looking back, I think it might have been better to attach the batting with duct tape since the staples don’t hold all that well in the insulation board. Maybe it would have been better to use the staples to stabilize the batting and cover the staples with duct tape. Really, the biggest problem I have with my design wall(s) is a method of attaching it to the wall. Right now, the two boards are leaned up against the wall and anchored with heavy objects at the bottom to keep them from falling. I would prefer they be perfectly flat against the wall, so I’m always on the lookout for a better design wall (or an improvement to my existing one). With that in mind, here is what I’ve found.

If you are interested in a design wall similar to mine, Elizabeth Hartman at Oh, Fransson shows you how she made hers here. She has attached the design wall to her studio wall, at the top, with Velcro.

For those of you who haven’t yet invested in a design wall OR those of you who (like me) want to improve upon the design wall you have, you will find this post interesting. At The Quilting Edge Marianne has posted about her design wall endeavors. She uses Command Picture Hanging Strips to adhere the boards to the wall. This makes the boards removable--ingenious. (I take my design walls outside to photograph my quilts, so being able to remove the boards from my wall is essential for me.) This is definitely something I will be trying for my existing design wall.

For a more permanent design wall, check out A Ditchin' Time Quilts. Stephanie enlisted her husband's help to attach her boards to her walls using really long screws. Check that out here.

At Quiltmaker, you'll find a tutorial which uses 1/2" thick foam core board and gray knit to cover the design wall. This particular design wall was nailed to the wall in her studio.

If you are looking for a portable design wall--something you could use at a quilt retreat--you might check out All People Quilt. They have a nice little post which explains how to make portable design walls along with some more permanent design wall ideas.

Carolina, at Always Expect Moore, has a tutorial on creating a mini quilt design wall. She goes through a lot of trouble to add a cute "binding" around the wall. I love how it looks, but I'm pretty lazy. I might forgo the "binding" and wrap the board with batting using duct tape to attach it to the back. Carolina uses an artist's canvas in her tutorial, but I think a foam core board would do just as well. Annie Smith talks about something similar to this in Episode 209 of The Quilt Show. I think I have heard these mini design walls called block minders by someone.

I hope you got some good ideas about how you might make a design wall (portable or permanent) or improve the design wall you are currently using.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Terrific Tutorial Tuesday!--Easy Gifts for Kids (Toddlers)

I spoke to some of my friends last night about posting tutorials on gifts that can be made for Christmas. I told them I was going to start posting the tutorials at the end of this month (October). They told me it was already too late to post, because they wouldn't have enough time to get the gifts finished by Christmas. With that thought in mind, I thought I'd better go ahead and post some of those tutorials. They, of course, would be appropriate for birthday or "just because" gifts any time of the year.

These are particular favorites of mine. They are all easy to make, and I think kids will just love them.

Dinosaur Tails
Over at the Running with Scissors blog, Jessica has the CUTEST tutorial for making dinosaur tails. These are toys that kids can strap on. They are easy to make (I helped my sister make two of them for her grandsons.) and the ADORABLE factor can't be measured. They are a big hit with the toddler group. Check it out here. She has other great tutorials you should check out while you are there.
Jessica was nice enough to let me use one of her pictures so you could see just how adorable these tails are. Thanks Jessica!
"Superhero" Capes
I remember when my grandson was little he loved to play Superhero. (He just turned 6.) We pushed the ends of a dishtowel into the neck of his shirt, and he pretended he was Batman. Since that time, I have found that there are several patterns for capes for toddlers. He would have loved one of these (and I would have made one had I discovered them sooner!). These capes are not just for the boys; little girls would love these capes too. Of course, the fabric choice might be different.
  1. At Craft Buds there is a good "Child's Cape Pattern and Tutorial." She even has a PDF file you can print out that contains a pattern.
  2. Here is a cape that is REALLY easy to make. This "Pillowcase Cape Tutorial" is brought to you by Becca Marie Designs and uses a pillowcase to make the body of the cape. You can find it here.
  3. Another easy cape to make is at "Shanon Makes Stuff." She uses a polyester knit so you don't even have to sew around the edges. She says the knit is light, so it flies behind the kids when they run. She even shows you how to make a little mask to match the cape. At the bottom of the post, she shows her little one taking a nap in his superhero outfit--too cute. You can find it here.
  4. Over at "Come On, Ilene," she has a tutorial for a reversible cape. She also shows you how she made logos for her cape out of felt. 
Other Projects
  1. Chalkboard Book--As part of the Guest Blogger Series at, guest blogger, Regina Lord, has a tutorial for a chalkboard book that uses a repurposed child's book and chalkboard spray paint. This would be a good way to re-purpose a board book that your toddler has outgrown. Check it out here.
  2. Reversible Apron--This tutorial, from the Moda Bake Shop, uses only three fat quarters and should fit a toddler 4-8 years old. I have a few little girls in mind for these aprons!
  3. Felt Cut-Out Cookies--Now, something to go with the aprons you make...felt cut-out cookies WITH FROSTING! These cookies take a little hand stitching, but they are such a unique gift. Check them out at The Mother Huddle blog. The girls there show you how to make a really nice gift. They have made a custom box to hold the cookies and have added a little rolling pin, spatula, and cookie cutter.
  4. Princess Bags--Over at "A Girl and a Glue Gun," Kimbo shows you how to make the cutest bags for little girls that you've EVER seen. They are REALLY quick and easy to make. You don't even have to get out your sewing machine. Check them out here.
  5. T-shirt Bracelets--Another tutorial from "A Girl and a Glue Gun" shows you how to make a large variety of T-shirt bracelets. These are really cute, and I think girls of all ages would like these.
I hope you find one or more of these items appropriate for the little ones in your life, and I hope the little ones LOVE these gifts.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Piece Finished--FINALLY!

I have been working, for a long time, on a piece in my bias strip series (Caged Series). It has taken a long time, because there is a lot of piecing and hand work involved. This is one of the bigger pieces I have done in awhile. It measures 22" X 36.5". There are lots of skinny lines pieced into this work. I learned how to piece those skinny lines from Kathy Loomis. If you are interested in that technique, it was featured on "And Then We Set It On Fire" when Kathy was a guest artist on the blog. You can find that post here. You can see how this piece developed over at the "Fire" blog too. If you are interested in seeing it take shape, here are the posts for that--Post 1, Post 2. I call this one Alien Happy Dance! It makes me smile.
I'm happy with the play of the diagonal lines in the background against the more uniform "grid" of the "caged" fabric. I also think that the dense piecing of the blue fabric against the less dense piecing of the orange background fabric adds interest to the design. All of the tangerine colored fabric in this piece is hand quilted. It is VERY densely hand quilted with (what I call) free-form quilting. The blue fabric in the "cages" is machine quilted. I think you can click on this picture to get a closer look. It is easier to see the quilting in the detail picture posted below.
Again, I think if you click on it, you can see more of the detail.

I have to say...I LOVE hand quilting. I LOVE how it looks, I LOVE how it feels, and I LOVE to do it. When I add hand quilting to my work, I feel like it makes the piece truly unique. Because of the time and handling involved in hand piecing, I feel "closer" to the work--a piece of me is in it. I just wish it didn't take SO long to do.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Terrific Tutorial Tuesday!--Binding/Finishing a Quilt

This week I have a list of tutorials for those of you who use a binding (rather than a facing) on your quilts. I even found one tutorial that shows you how to finish a quilt without a binding or a facing. There are lots of binding tutorials out there. These are the ones I want to keep track of; I'll be adding this post to my "Tutorials" page.

Binding by Machine...
Pat Sloan has a good binding tutorial here. Pat's take on machine binding is a bit different than most. She uses a buttonhole stitch to finish the binding. If you do it correctly, it provides a nice finish on the front AND back. On the post, she has pictures and does a good job of describing her technique. She also has a video and a PDF to explain the process.

Rachel, over at "Stitched in Color," has a binding tutorial that features a zig zag stitch. She has really nice pictures and good explanations. She also has some VERY cute pictures of kittens at the end!

Over at "Prudent Baby," there is a tutorial for bringing the backing fabric to the front to use it as a binding. This particular tutorial shows attaching the binding by machine, but it could also be sewn by hand. 

Binding by Hand...
Julie Herman has several tutorials concerning binding on her blog, "Jaybird Quilts." She answers MANY questions about binding including "What is binding?," "Straight of grain or bias cut?," "How to calculate binding," "How to piece straight of grain binding," "How to piece bias cut binding, and "How to piece using straight seams." She has a "Perfect Binding Tutorial" that explains (and includes pictures on) how to add a "normal" binding. She covers two methods of making bias binding here and how to make a scrappy bias binding here. She also shows you how to deal with binding a curved quilt here.

Over at "Quilting in the Rain," Jera has a tutorial explaining her method of binding a quilt. The binding part of her tutorial isn't much different that the others, but she does have a section showing hand sewing the binding to the back of the quilt. Scroll on down to Part II to find her three videos on how she does the hand stitching.

Rounded Corner Finish...
At "A Quilt is Nice" blog, Nettie shows how to round the corners of your quilt. Nettie says, "The great thing about rounded corners is you don't have to do mitered corners on your binding." You do, however, have to use bias binding. I really like the look of rounded corners, particularly on a baby quilt. If you'd like to check that out, click here. She shows you how to machine bind a rounded corner quilt here.

Finishing a Quilt Without Binding...
Over at "Red Pepper Quilts," you will find a way to finish a quilt without binding or facing it. Some people call this "birthing a quilt." Check that out here.

Add a Fake Piping or Flange Binding...
This tutorial shows you how to make a "fake" piping binding. It looks intriguing to me and is something I definitely will be trying. Check it out here.

If you are interested in learning how to make binding with a flange, Julie Herman of "Jaybird Quilts" has her own version of a flanged binding here.

I hope you are enjoying my Terrific Tutorial Tuesdays. If you have any tutorials you think are great, please let me know. I'd love to include those in a future post. I'd love to hear from you, please leave comments!