New Quilt Finished and Road Trip!

June 30th, 2008

I finished another quilt; this picture is actually taken before it was completely quilted because I wanted to show you that if you quilt the perimeter of the entire quilt, you can bind it while you’re still quilting it:

I usually do this if I am facing a deadline on a quilt, but this time I did it because I had a long car ride coming up and I wanted to get some handwork done during the times that I didn’t have to drive. This quilt has some trapuntoed areas. Here’s a tulip when it was just fused on:

See how boring it looks at this stage? I threw a small piece of ultra-thin polyester batting behind it and then did the EKG stitching around the edges. I like how this kind of thread work cranks things up a notch:

I flipped it over and cut away excess batting:

…and this is how the back of it looks after all the trapuntoed pieces have been decorated with thread and then the excess batting cut away:

Can you see all the areas that are stitched but don’t have batting on them? Those were free motion embroidered and I didn’t have to use a stabilizer because they were all appliquéd via fusible web, and the web acts as a stabilizer. Once you’ve got it into a quilt sandwich, you stitch around the edges of all appliqué pieces with invisible thread and this makes the trapunto pop out just a bit. BUT, this batting is so thin that it’s barely noticeable:

Fortunately, I like the background quilting a lot. This is my version of McTavishing…it’s a bit different, but I love the sense of flowing movement it creates. Notice how that movement is amplified by quilting it in subtly variegated threads. I switched thread colors depending on the background fabric color:

We drove to NC last week but we started from Cleveland, so we came via a different route than we usually do. We saw signs for Wytheville, VA, home of the famous “Batiks etc” Quilt shop, so we had to stop! I indulged myself with these fabrics:

…and these books:

As if this weren’t bad enough, the next day I had to drive to Jonesboro, TN to pick up my sewing machine from The Sewing Bee (great quilt shop and Pfaff dealer as well), and between The Sewing Bee and Tennessee Quilts, picked up even MORE fabric and thread:

It looks like I’d better get busy cutting and sewing!

New Quilt Finished!

June 19th, 2008

I finished quilting “Peace of Mind;” it measures 52 in long x 40 in wide:

This quilt was a pure joy to quilt! I actually dyed the fabric for it a year ago and have gone through several mind-sets about just how it should be quilted. Originally, my plan was to quilt it with a background pattern of water with little “pools” in it. That just didn’t seem right and it reminded me too much of Monet. Then I thought about quilting it with feathers, but I didn’t want just feathers. I ended up settling on feathers and these seashell-plume units, which are somewhat related to feathers. I felt kind of like they represented coalescing thoughts, kind of how sometimes you can finally piece together an important insight until something significant really “makes sense” and fits into some greater understanding in your head. I like how these units just kind of “flow” into the feathers:

I also am really learning some nice stuff about feathers. I have spent a lot of time playing with ways to change the “personality” of a feather by altering a plume shape, (i.e. a whimsical feather), or by hyperquilting it, but really, you can make a feather much more serious and more angelic by elongating the plumes:

This is one of those times when I feel somewhat sad to finish a project; I have lots more that I can work on, but this one has been a real joy!

Quilting, 17 Year Cicada Invasion, and Web Store

June 10th, 2008

First, thanks to everyone who has been patient with the changes in the new web store. Please know that the webmaster is working very diligently to iron out these problems. Most sales are going through without any problem at all; he is still working to get the shipping fine-tuned. In the meantime, many of you have inadvertently gotten tremendous deals on shipping!

I fused up a small wall hanging the other day. It doesn’t have any thread work or anything done on it yet, but it will have trapunto and free motion embroidery done before it goes into a quilt sandwich:

I met a new friend a few weeks ago and her name is Carol Sloan. She is an incredible multi-media artist but I met her during a free motion quilting demo. Check out her website to see what kinds of beautiful stuff she is creating. I think this is one talented woman who is going to go far-keep your eyes on her!

We just got back from NC. When we first arrived, they were in the midst of a 17 year cicada invasion. I’ve never witnessed this before-it was kind of cool for the first week, then it kind of started to get on my nerves! At about 5 am each day, you’d hear this weird noise. It was a constant sound, kind of like a huge alien space craft was hovering in your backyard. This noise grew louder as the day went on-reached a peak about 4 pm, then was gone each day by around 8 pm. This noise is the cumulative effect of millions of these cicadas singing to one another to find mates; if you hear any of them individually from about 10 ft away, the sound is quite different. Here;s what one of them looks like; they actually have very beautiful lacey wings:

(Also notice those large red eyes-apparently, there are many species and the eye colors vary from one species to another). Once they mate, they begin to die. During this time, they are weak. They can still fly, but only for shorter distances and they fly low. If you’re outside, they fly into you a lot! They are large insects, so it’s a bit unnerving to have them keep flying into you! Once they are too weak to fly, they kind of slowly crawl around on the ground for awhile and you hear them making these low-pitched guttural sounds. Sadly, you found their dead bodies all over the place. Here’s a typical find just stepping out to get the morning paper:

We’re back in OH now where the insects aren’t doing anything interesting!

What’s on the Machine Bed and New products in the Store!

June 5th, 2008

First, if you think some posts are missing, you are correct! We converted to a new web server and are ironing out some kinks here in the transition…should be smooth sailing in the next few days! We added some new products to our web store (discussed below), and if you had previously registered as a retail customer, the new web store will not recognize your old login info. The good news is that you do NOT have to register at all to make a purchase. You MAY register if you want to receive email announcements of new products and if you want your demographic info remembered for future purchases, but you don’t have to. Anyways, on to more fun stuff!

Here’s what’s on my machine bed currently:

This quilt is called “Peace of Mind” and it is part of a series of quilts I have been dreaming in my head that all relate to my work at our local hospice. Some themes keep resonating in my work with people at the end of their lives and achieving some type of peace of mind seems to be important to most everyone. Here is a close-up of part of it; the color is not at all correct in this next photo:

The quilting on this is nearly done and I’ll post good pictures once it’s all the way done. I’ve also been playing around just a bit with some quilting designs. This next one is from a family I call “Loosey-Goosey Revolving Axis Family.” The reason I call it loosey-goosey is that you don’t carry the plume stitching line all the way back to baseline the way you do with the regular-old revolving axis family. Here’s what the baseline design looks like:

Now here’s the part I’m fine-tuning…I started wondering what would happen if I did “focal hyperquilting” and this is what I got-still not sure if this is a good idea or not:

In other news, here’s what’s new in the new web store:

1. NEW DVD! “Fast and Free Volume 0.5″ is now available for purchase. This will eventually replace Fast and Free Volume 1 but volume 1 will still be available until our current stock is depleted. If you already have volume 1, we do NOT suggest you buy volume 0.5 as the material covered is basically identical, just presented in different ways. We are working on Fast and Free volume 3 and expect it to be available this fall. It has some really wonderful designs in it!

2. New line of Quilt patterns! We debuted a new line of quilt patterns at Spring Quilt Market and they are all “ThreadPower Certified!” This means they were designed specifically for the quilter who loves to play with thread! They are all fusible applique patterns that can easily be jazzed up with thread work and they teach fun techniques like trapunto and free motion embroidery. BUT, the best part is the patterns include multiple suggestions, diagrams and instructions for several different free motion quilting designs that will work with each pattern, and multiple options are given for the beginner, intermediate, and adventurous machine quilter!

3. BENDABLE BRIGHT LIGHT IS HERE! If you haven’t seen this product yet, it’s worth your time to check this out! It’s just what the doctor ordered for aging eyes! If you have any questions about it, be sure to click on the picture of the light to watch our 3.5 minute videol explaining how easy it is to adhere to your machine and also how versatile these lights are to use. Both Ernie and I have these all over our respective workshop rooms!

4. 40-INCH FLEXIBLE CURVE RULERS ARE HERE! These extra long rulers are wonderful for marking over-sized feathers that intensely curl into themselves. These types of feathers are difficult to mark smoothly with a 24 inch ruler, so these will make your life easier!

That’s it for now! I promise another post with better pictures in the next few days!