Observations, Found Objects in My Sewing Room, and New Experimental Quilt Finished

November 30th, 2007

We had the most wonderful Thanksgiving last week and part of what made it so fun was that 3 of our nieces were visiting and all 3 wanted to learn about quilting! My heart palpated at the thought of luring young prey into the quilting cult! These 3 girls were 13, 11, and 8 years old and each of them wanted to make a quilted pillow that had fusible appliqué shapes on it. The part of this that was so grand was seeing how they reacted to free motion work. I get to watch a lot of adults struggle with learning free motion because I teach it, but I’ve never had a child in one of my classes. They were fearless! They had none of the anxiety and hesitation that all of us have when we’ve tried to learn this skill as an adult, but instead, they were exhilarated by how liberating it was to draw with the sewing machine needle! The 8 year old had trouble with it, I think mainly because she didn’t really have the fine motor skill development needed, plus her arms were so short it was hard to manipulate the sandwich. Somehow, though, she did very well with satin stitching around her appliqués, so I don’t know what to make of that! Have any of you taught little ones and what was your experience with them? I am so excited by this that I haven’t stopped thinking about it all week!

Once the holiday was over, I needed to straighten up my sewing room and I unearthed a few things I’d forgotten about. Sometimes I’ll make a small block to try out different free motion embroidery ideas for an appliqué shape that’s on a new quilt-it’s safer this way because if I don’t like it, I don’t use it on my quilt! Anyway, they make great labels for quilts later on. Here’s one I found where I was playing with the best way to “decorate” a hummingbird:


Here’s a better shot of the decorative stitching:


Here’s another one where I was playing with variegated threads on leaves:


…and here’s a closeup of the stitching:


I also was able to finish a new “experimental” quilt; this is one of those traditional style quilt tops I got off ebay so I could play with quilting it. I think the woman who pieced it did a realy nice job:


Most of the quilting on it is a variation of what I call the heart-leaf vine. It’s like the freeform feather but you change the plume shape to a highly curvaceous heart. You can soften the central “indentation” of the heart to give it even more of a leaf-like appearance, but I used a pointy indentation for these:


The pic above shows a long and short heart leaf vine. This next one has a “pinwheel” form of heart leaves:


What is so great about this quilting motif is that’s is quite easy to either stretch or contract any heart leaf so you can easily fill whatever size space you’re working in. This last shot shows the center vines, (not heart-leaf!) and an opening rose…that rose is a snap to stitch if you think of it as 1 single irregular swirl and when you get back to its outer edge, just zip around the perimeter of the rose and throw in a couple of leaves!


This heart leaf vine looks pretty “calm” when stitched in its raw form, but check out this picture of a hyperquilted heart leaf vine…isn’t it just beautiful?! I love it and they’re both on the next DVD!


Out of Exile

November 25th, 2007

I’m back! I haven’t been away, just overwhelmed with all kinds of deadlines and responsibilities and my life has become somewhat of a triage situation, where I deal with what MUST be dealt with in the next 48 hours and set the rest aside. Not the way I like to live and hopefully, my schedule will be closer to normal in the foreseeable future. Anyway, on to fun stuff… I finally finished “Joy in the Garden,” as seen below:


This picture doesn’t capture the colors all that well, but I just LOVE to look at this quilt because for some reason, it just plain makes me really happy! The center pansy is the only part that is trapuntoed, but the larger appliqué shapes protrude a bit because all their thread work was free motion embroidery and not quilting. The purple swirls at the top are an example of that:


See how it kind of protrudes out? Here’s a shot of the vine trailing down around the pansy; it’s called the celestial vine and it’s on the next DVD:


I get a kick out of how delicate it is! Here’s a shot of the background quilting in the green area:


I always feel kind of sad when I finish quilting a quilt because it means an end to our close contact, but I’m kind of glad I finished this one so I can get it up on a wall and just look at it! Plus, I’ve got a lot of other quilting projects I’m working on now, so it’s time to move on. I’m far enough along on one of them that I promise another post this week to make up for my posting hiatus!

Fun Stuff!

November 6th, 2007

I am just finishing up 3 glorious days filled mainly with sewing! I got a fair amount of work done on that pansy trio quilt. It is still just in a quilt top stage here, but I’ve added some butterflies and added borders after I had trapuntoed my 3 pansies:


This has been a fun exercise in re-learning about the power of thread to really transform your quilt top. Here’s a photo of the red pansy before I added any threadwork:


(BTW, can you see those “dots” that seem almost embossed in the fabric? They appeared because I used steam when I fused them down and they’re the steam vents on my iron! Notice that they’re gone on the next photo-you can just iron them away without steam). Now here’s the same pansy after I’ve trapuntoed it and done a bit of threadpainting-I think it looks so much better!


Similarly, here’s the magenta pansy:


…and here’s the pink pansy:


I also did some free motion embroidery with artsy fartsy leaves:


And this is the fern variant of the artsy fartsy leaves (Both of these designs are on the next DVD):


I want these to have more importance and texture on the quilt itself, so I embroidered them with a permanent polyester interfacing behind them and once it’s in a quilt top, I’ll stitch just outside the green thread with invisible thread to make them pop out a bit. Here’s what the backside looks like:


And here’s one of the butterflies before I decorated it with threadpainting:


The pansies here are made of silk that I dyed. They have a wonderful reflective luster that really throws off great shadows once they’re quilted. I think I am falling in love with silk! I’ll post more once it’s quilted!

New Quilt and Halloween Spooktacular!

November 2nd, 2007

I’ve started a new quilt and it’s still just in the “quilt top” stage, but I’ve done some free motion embroidery on it and prepared a part of it for trapunto. Here’s a picture of the “early top,” but know that since this picture was taken, I’ve added a butterfly in the top left corner:


This is what the leaves look like now; once this is in a true quilt sandwich, I’ll stitch outside them with invisible thread and even though they are not trapuntoed, they’ll still pop out just a bit:


Here’s a closer shot of one of the large leaves at the base. It has free motion embroidery, satin stitching, and then free motion inlining of the veining with a gold metallic thread:


And here is the red pansy. You can see that I’ve attached a piece of scrap batting behind it with that decorative “EKG stitch.” Hopefully, I’ll be able to do some thread painting on it this weekend and I’ll post an after-threadpainting picture:


This is all so much fun to do, I can’t imagine ever growing tired of it! On a totally different topic, a belated happy Halloween! Halloween is HUGE at our house! We create a giant haunted cemetery in our front yard and the kids have to walk through all kinds of scary stuff to get to the front door for the candy. My night time pictures didn’t come out too well, so I’ll show you a few daytime pictures that aren’t quite as scary. I love this tombstone…if you look closely, you’ll see that Carrie has 2 right hands emerging from the soil:


Here’s another one of my favorite graves:

(Can you tell we like the look of arms coming out from the ground?!) Here’s the wall of giant spiders the kids walk by:


…and the giant cocoon/web with dangling body parts they walk under:


Ernie’s hobby is woodworking, so he built several small coffins that are all over the graveyard:


…and here’s the front door entryway:


It doesn’t look bad in daylight, but in the dark, with fog machines going and scary sounds blasting…look out!!