Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to Quilt a Cornstalk

My father is a Cornhusker and in honor of Nebraska's rout of Arizona last night and also the Wisconsin Badgers' win over Miami in Orlando the night before, today's post is for them.First, you find a copyright free picture of a cornstalk. Print it out and take it to the copyshop and enlarge it to the desired size -- bigger is easier to quilt.
Cover your copy with a piece of Golden Threads Quilting Paper and trace, using a fine point permanent marker. Use a permanent marker because you don't want any ink bleeding onto your quilt. Pin the quilting paper in the desired position on your quilt. I used my fine, strong silk pins which have glass heads (that don't melt when you bump them with an iron). I use these pins for precision piecing. Using straight pins makes it easy to remove them before you sew over them.
After making a practice quilt sandwich to test your thread, needle, and tension, then with feed dogs dropped, free-motion quilt following the lines. You don't have to be exactly accurate because you're going to remove the paper and with it, all the lines. Just quilt the outline so you have a guide for more dense quilting.

Gnash teeth and say some bad words, because you have gotten "into" your quilting and forgotten that you are just outlining here. Dense quilting makes it difficult to remove the paper.

After quilting the outline, tug the quilt on the bias to rip the paper for removal. Say some more bad words and get out the fine point tweezers because of the dense quilting on top of the paper. After removing all the paper (sometimes gently scratching a fingernail over the stitching will help remove the remaining bits), continue to quilt in the detail, changing thread as desired.
The corn tassel (sorry, the picture is sideways) after paper removal (more gnashing of teeth) and some more quilting.
And the root end -- the paper removed easily from this part. I was pleasantly surprised.

I'll post pictures of the leaves and the cobs after I do the detail quilting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fortune Today

-You work best when meticulous attention to detail is called for.

My fortune today. My daughter and I had lunch at a favorite Chinese restaurant today and this was my fortune. I don't know about working best, but I am good at minute detail -- annoyingly so, some would say.

Today is my father's 84th birthday. Happy birthday, Dad!

Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm A Winner!

Part of the fun at SewCalGal's virtual Christmas quilt show was prizes! And I won one!

I won Sizzling Circles, a book by Lacey Hill and published by Nancy Dill at Lacey also donated the companion "Circles and More" ruler. I should be receiving these by the middle of next month!

Aaaaannndd, yesterday the Packers made the playoffs with thorough routing of the Seattle Seahawks! Goooooo Pack!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Can't Sleep? Draw!

Last night I woke up at o'dark hundred and couldn't go back to sleep.

I didn't feel like reading, so I got out this little book I checked out from the library. It has all kinds of suggestions for drawing with colored pencils and shows methods of shading starting from light to dark.

I started a butterfly drawing from it a couple of days ago, but I didn't want to trace it and found that my sketch was way too dark and the colored pencils didn't cover the line. So I abandoned it.

Last night (this morning?!), I drew the outline of the figure lightly using the colored pencil that would eventually be the color I used for the rest of the parrot's body. I liked this much better. There's no dark line around it and I was able to do a pretty good job without tracing.
And then I went back to sleep. This morning I still liked it! Now I have to decide if I'm going to color in the background, or leave it and do another one.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays!

A couple of years ago, I made this Christmas quilt. I was going to use it for a pillow, but my husband said that it was "too pretty to be something that the kids are going to throw around," so I made it a wall hanging instead. It's machine pieced and hand quilted. To see them close up, just click on the pictures.

"Log Cabin Star"
21" x 21"

I've entered this in SewCalGal's Virtual Christmas Quilt Show - a fun way to display quilts without the trouble of actually leaving my chair. You can link here to see other quilts in the show.

And for the other half of my family, I made this Channukah quilt from something I saw in a magazine of miniature quilts several years ago. Machine pieced, appliqued and quilted with commercially printed fabrics and batiks and some of my own hand-dyes. I used heat-set fabric crayons for the colored smoke.

"Channukah Lights"
16" x 19"

I made a couple more of these Channukah quilts for gifts and used Pentel Arts Fabric Fun Pastel Dye Sticks for the colorful smoke and got much more vibrant colors. I would use those instead of the crayons if I were to do this again. They're soft and color the fabric easily; after heat-setting, they're permanent. Best of all -- they don't change the hand of the fabric at all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What a Blizzard Looks Like

We're under a blizzard warning until midnight tonight. Then we'll be under a wind chill warning. Too much snow to go out now, too cold and windy to go out later. Schools, malls, and all "non-essential" workplaces are closed.
Some people like this weather.

The view from the front yard across the street.

The front of my house.

Clearing the driveway.

Sledding on the pile left by the snowplough.

Some people like this weather.

Wet, heavy snow sticks to the branches of the old birch tree out back.

Some people really like this weather.

The old birch tree out back.

Homemade tamales smothered in chili and cheese for those who helped shovel.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bird's the Word

OK -- the title has nothing to do with anything except that this song was in my head while I composed this post. I have been procrastinating on my Rust-Tex quilt because I couldn't decide whether I should put more thread on the wing. I tried some fancy stitches on my machine and decided that a feather stitch (oh yeah) set with almost a satin stitch length would give the wing nice texture. I tried out a couple of different rayon threads: one a variegated black and silver, but the colors didn't change often enough and I got the results below:I didn't like the dark gray, so I went with black.
You can click on the pictures to see them even closer.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Paper-Cloth and 3D Stars

My daughter and I decided to make "paper-cloth" a la Kelli Perkins (who blogs here). I belong to an online group that is doing a book study with Stitch Alchemy and this was our first attempt.We used diluted fabric glue to combine tissue paper with cotton fabric. Then we dripped and drizzled alcohol inks and also mixed some with the diluted glue to brush over the surface of the paper fabric.
My daughter was happy with hers just like this.

But mine needed more. So I used a snowflake stencil to add some blue Lumiere paint -- you can see where I glopped it on in the center -- this was not intentional, I misjudged the amount of paint I had on the foam brush.

After the snowflake globs dried, I thought it still needed something, so I brushed a light coat of diluted golden yellow Setacolor transparent paint over the whole thing. Then we made 3D stars from the paper-cloth.

My hibiscus plant is blooming, so I just couldn't resist using it for a prop to hang the finished stars.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Puzzle Blocks

A while ago, a friend suggested that we get this book and try to make some of the blocks in it. Mill House Quilts runs free classes and they were doing this book in one of the classes, but it was during the day when we were at work, so we couldn't go.
I don't usually do lot of traditional quilting or patterns, but sometimes it's fun to work with other people just so you can see how different things look when interpreted by other creative people.

I haven't talked to my friend about it since, but I decided to try some by myself. Because I am averse to following directions, this was a challenge for me. I decided that after I went to the trouble of learning to make one block, I may as well make two. And, using the same pieces, make them as different as possible: a la Paula Nadelstern's Puzzle Blocks.

Star of the Orient

Hands All Around

Rolling Star

Shoo Fly

Trip Around the World

Wouldn't you just know that after I made a few of the blocks, Mill House would have a class at night. It's more like a club, with everybody contributing. Some of the quilters are beginners, but many are very experienced. I'll have more blocks to show later. For the group this month, I'm going to be demoing the paper-piecing method I pinched from Judy Mathieson .

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Box of Goodies

A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I received a box full of the most wonderful things. And it wasn't even chocolate!
There were exquisitely embroidered handkerchiefs.

Laces of all kinds -- some are poly,but some are cotton and I think that a few of them might be rayon.

I will use some of this in the Winter Crazy Quilt Challenge I have coming up.
Ribbons, some velvet, some grosgrain, some braided. All very interesting.

A pair of beaded peacock feather earrings.

And a number of pieces of silks and satins, including this beautiful embroidered silk picture of a bird with some flowers.
To see the items close up, click on the picture.My jade plant blooms almost every year after I bring it back in the house before it gets cold. This year, it is especially beautiful.
Note the snow outside the window -- we got a couple of inches last night. It has been (my two favorite words) unseasonably warm until this week. We're back to seasonable cold now.
I don't mind snow -- it's the cold I can't stand. If it would be 75 or 80 degrees after a snow, I would be much happier.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Twinchies Creation

So when I unveiled them, I announced that I was going to 'splain how I made them (see the original post here). So here you go:
First I painted fusible web -- I tried out a number of different kinds, but that's another post -- for this project, I used WonderUnder and Setacolor Shimmer paints. I used the Setacolors because they were new and I wanted to play with them.
I cut the fusible into strips and ironed it to some plain white cotton sateen with a piece of parchment paper on top -- I didn't want to take a chance on getting any of this stuff stuck to my iron. Then I ironed this to Peltex - no batting. I also used some bright gold foil to liven them up. I just added it with a hot iron right on top of the painted fusible.
I draped over some multi-colored ribbon/yarn and quilted with turquoise thread in an all over stipple. I fused some plain white cotton to the back. I cut two inch strips and then cut the strips into squares.
I didn't like the unfinished edge and a plain zig zag just didn't do it for me, so I added some eyelash yarn to the edges with a zig zag.
I added beads to some of them. I punched a hole in each twinchie and added a grommet. I wound up having to buy a new hole puncher because the cheapie one I had fell apart in my hand after the first half dozen. I got really good at the grommets at the end -- I had a flower eyelet setter and after a while, they really looked like flowers. This is an inchie posing with the grommets and the setter.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Bird of a Different Feather

Today I took the day off from work work and housework and played in my studio. I got the whole background for the Rust-Tex piece pieced together.I cut out the crow and fused it to the background with black Mistyfuse. Then I embellished it with some more rayon thread.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

OK -- I know it's not a turkey. We ate the roasted bird before I remembered to take a picture so I substituted a picture of a rooster by my Sparkly Chicken friend, Jacqui.

My eldest son came home for dinner and his grandpa was here from California. We enjoyed turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, broccoli, cranberry nut bread, and two kinds of cranberry sauce. I made a drunken pumpkin pie -- yo ho ho and a bottle of rum (ok, just a quarter cup) - and whipped cream.

Packers won and Eldest Son said he was thankful for the three Fs - food, family, and football.

I guess I'm all grown up now because I sent a package of leftovers home with him.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Playing with Peltex

So I'm going to be making 4 inch by 4 inch crazy squares to swap. The finished squares will involve stitch and flip bits of fabric, lace, beading and embroidery.

Today I took some four inch squares of Peltex and played around with putting color on them. First I tried alcohol inks.
I'm not crazy about these -- first I dropped the ink on the squares and got colored spots. Then I mixed some ink into rubbing alcohol and painted that on. That was a little better, but not great. I didn't get the vibrant deep color I was looking for.
Next, I used diluted Setacolor transparent paints and painted that on with a brush. I sprinkled some coarse salt over and sprayed it with water. This was better. The paint spread out, but remained bright. The salt didn't do anything. I'm still waiting for it to dry.

The backs of the alcohol ink squares are interesting; the backs of the painted ones are even better.
There is some plastic covering the back and the paints and inks pooled against it in an interesting pattern. I'm going to have to read the instructions for the Peltex again before I decide what to do with that.

Then I spread some paint on the plastic meat trays that I recycle for paint palettes, and pressed a piece of Peltex against that.

I got this cool design.

This makes me want to get out my marbling stuff and do some real marbling.