Wonderful Weekend!

May 28th, 2007

I had a really great long weekend here in North Carolina. My friend Peggy drove up to NC from Florida and we both got to attend the North Carolina Quilt Symposium in Mars Hill, NC, just north of Asheville. (If you’ve never visited western NC, this is a great destination; beautiful mountain views everywhere, kind people, and a very nurturing location for artists. I could go on and on about what a great area this is, but I digress!) The symposium started off with a bang for me, because the very first night I found out that my newest quilt, Leaf Cycles V, had won both Best of Show and Best Free Motion Machine Work!


I literally finished this quilt the night before I had to ship it, so there was no time to take any pictures, but I snapped a few today. It measures 58 in Wide x 56 in High and is really another fun exercise messing around with color and leaf shapes:



I won’t bore you with more pix of this quilt because I think I posted some as I was first quilting it, but know that I am feeling good about having this quilt back home. The colors are yumalicious!

Part 2 of the great weekend was the quilt symposium. It had been a long time since I had gotten to take a class, and I took 2 very helpful classes. The first class was by Judy Simmons. If you have the opportunity to take one of her classes, do it! The teaching was clear, concise, and fun and she is a wealth of information on really cool techniques to add interest and texture to your quilts. We learned how to make silk leaves that are incredibly realistic:


Do these leaves look dimensional? They should and the cool part is that you can attach them to quilt part-way; like with a clear monofilament thread along just a few of the vein lines, so that the edges stick up. Here are a few better pix of individual leaves:



Now check out this close up of part of the leaf and you’ll REALLY appreciate the realism of these fabric leaves:


Have you ever seen home-made fabric leaves with such realistic blemishes and color variegations?! We burned the edges with a wood burning tool, but you can use the creative burning tool I posted about before. Notice that there are holes burned within the body of the leaf itself. The edges of the silk are all sealed by the burning, so there’s no need to “finish” them further with any stitching!We even learned how to fuse a narrow 32 gauge wire in between the top and bottom of the leaves so we could bend them. This stuff is way-cool!

The next day I took a 3 hour workshop with Mickey Dupre. I had never heard of her before but man, was I glad I took this class! It was a no-sew workshop on making color choices and it was GREAT!! I left there feeling an intense need to piece a quilt, which I actually did today! I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the stimulation that comes from taking a class and I need to do this more often!!

Look At Wendy’s Amish Quilt!

May 24th, 2007

One thing that really gets me excited is to see a quilter’s work who’s taken one of my classes or learned something new from one of my DVD’s. So, with that in mind, know that this picture sent my heart into palpitations:


This Amish quilt is by Wendy Foster. It is her very first feathers quilt and she made it after watching the Feathers DVD-man, was she ever paying attention! This is so beautifully done! Not only did she do a great job on her feathers, but she even did 2 of the thread embellishment techniques! Here’s a close-up of some of her intricate threadwork with the splay of fireworks embellishment and the in-lining embellishment:


Way to go, Wendy!!

New Amish Quilt in Warm Colors

May 19th, 2007

I finally finished my latest Amish quilt. Normally, I am not someone who enjoys making the same thing again and again, but Amish quilts never get “old” to me because their very simple design is always striking and it’s fun to mess around with color combinations. This most recent one is in bold warm colors:


My original plan was to do this with heavy thread embellishment with hyper-quilting within all the plumes, but I ended up going for a simpler look. I DID do the in-lining embellishment within the center heart because I felt like I had to. I had stitched the heart itself in a heavy variegated embroidery thread but the variegation was kind of distracting so I felt like I needed to do the in-lining in a solid color just to “ground” the heart. See close-up below:


If you want to stitch a feathered heart, they’re pretty easy to mark for. Just like with a regular curvaceous feather, all you need to mark is the spine guideline. If you want it to be completely symmetric, begin as in the picture below by placing a pin in the very center of the block and then bend your flexible curve ruler into a 1/2 heart shape that appears aesthetically pleasing and also fits your space. (Remember to leave enough room around both sides of this guideline to stitch out your plumes):


Once you’ve traced your chalkline around your curve, inspect the ruler markings where your line begins and ends. Remembering those ruler markings, lift up the ruler and flip it onto the opposite side of your block and match up the ruler markers exactly as you did before with the beginnings and ends of your previous chalk line:


Trace the curve and you’re ready to roll!

Here’s a shot of the corner feathers in the outside borders:


And here’s a close-up of the background filler design. It’s the irregular swirl from the innies and outies family. I stitched it with Bottom Line Bobbin-fill thread because it’s so lightweight that the thread really isn’t noticeable, but I really LOVE the cool texture that this quilting design creates:


More On Thread Trix!

May 14th, 2007

Ok, I haven’t had much time to play, but I have a lot of ideas in my head. These thread tricks are what I call hyper-quilting. This involves overquilting a stitched motif with a high contrast decorative thread to really give it that “wow” factor. Sometimes it might be a more subtle effect and other times it is an in-your-face kind of effect. Here are a couple more examples:


The above example is the loop-d-loop plain old hearts motif. Now go back in, stitching just next to the loop-d-loop lines you’ve already stitched, and then decorate the heart as below:


This scale is probably not showing this hyper-quilting to its best advantage, but I think it illustrates the design. If you’ve studied the Free Motion Fun…With Feathers! DVD, then this should look familiar to you. I have borrowed the splay of fireworks embellishment from the feathers and just added it to the top, center indentation of the heart. I also did in-lining of the heart but you could leave that step out. If you look in the line drawings for the Loop-D-Loop family on the first volume of Fast and Free, you’ll see that there are additional heart variations that would be well suited to this kind of hyper-quilting.

Here’s another example that I think looks better. What you see below is a whimsically stitched vine. It began with a light chalk line in a pleasing curve, (easily traced by using your flexible curve ruler), and I used this as my “rough pathway” for my vine. Note that the vine is actually a loop-d-loop in which I’ve just periodically thrown in some leaves:


(Remember, you could do this same thing with a multitude of different shapes of leaves). Ok, so now we’ve got this semi-boring vine and we want to jazz it up a bit. Piece of cake! Pick another high contrast decorative thread and begin stitching alongside your original loop-d-loop. When you get to the actual leaf, use this second thread to stitch in some interesting vein-like lines as below:


Doesn’t this thread embellishment make this vine about 20 times more interesting? Try it, this is fun stuff to play with!

Playing Around With Thread Tricks

May 6th, 2007

I haven’t had much time to play around in my sewing room, but I grabbed an hour this weekend and had some fun. I’ve been thinking about ways to jazz up a simple motif with threads that wouldn’t require much work, and I came up with a little variation that was pretty fast and easy. It all started with this background fill motif:


This is a slight variation of the loop-d-loop blazing sun. (Doesn’t this make you think of a “ka-pow!” kind of motif you’d see on Batman?) The difference is that the rays emanating from the sun’s center don’t actually come all the way to the center. I learned this variation last week while I was teaching a class, and I think that it’s actually a little easier to stitch. Either way, it’s another variant and it’s well suited to this thread embellishment. One way to jazz it up would be to stitch the baseline loop-d-loop and only stitch the sun’s center before moving back to the next section of loop-d-loop. Leave a lot of space around each of the sun centers because you’ll be coming back later with a different color thread to do the rays. Once you’ve finished doing all your background fill stitching, switch to a second color of thread with good contrast. Now stitch, just alongside your original loop-d-loop, and when you get to the sun’s center, stop and pause and think to orient yourself. What you’re going to do is use this second thread color to stitch the rays, as below:


This is a pretty versatile technique and could be used pretty easily in any design which has structures coming off a center circle or oval. I used it again on a dogwood loop-d-loop. I used one thread color to stitch the center and some decorative “whatever” just outside the center of the flower:


Then I went back and stitched the dogwood’s petals in a new thread color:


I don’t think these thread color choices are too great; I needed something high contrast so it would be easy to see, but I think this may be worth some further experimentation…back to my laboratory with Igor…