Monday, May 27, 2013

Traditional Piecing (Traditional for Me, Anyway)

I have rejoined my First Thursday Piecers' group.  We're doing some pretty traditional style blocks this year -- so I've challenged myself to make two of each and then make them each really different.    I also decided to dig into my Laurel Burch stash -- the colors go so well with my hand-dyes.

There are only three blocks in this photo.  Can you tell which are the same? -- Don't count the little Lemoyne stars.

I also got out my copy of Marsha McCloskey's Feathered Stars I -- it took me a couple of tries to get just the right sized star for the center.

I drew it in EQ7 first to get the colors on the feathers right.

I've been working on it for a couple of weeks -- a little at a time.

And it's finally finished!

I'm linking up with Judy at Design Wall Monday for the first time in a while!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eeny Weenie Teensy Tiny Mini Margo Bag

Introducing the tiniest Margo bag ever!  It's six by seven and a half inches.  The little owls are only about two and a half inches high.  I was lucky to find the little owl charm for a zipper pull.

My DD loves owls and when I saw this fabric, I had to make her a bag -- she loves tiny bags, so I made it mini-sized.  I got the owl pattern from a friend's magazine (thanks, Fran).  It was an issue of Simple Quilts & Sewing from last fall.  I sewed a fabric loop into the back seam of the second owl (I forgot or I would have had to make only one) and attached it to the bag with an old key chain loop.

Inside are scaled-down pockets.  I halved all the measurements on the pattern to make this bag and added a bit of velcro to hold the small pocket closed for those things she wouldn't want spilling out of her purse.

After I gave DD the bag, I asked to see it one more time and she had stashed the extra owl inside the pocket!

I used my trusty Margo bag pattern from Lazy Girl Designs and a seven inch skirt zipper from my stash -- I wasn't sure the red would go but I like it.  And it coordinates with the tiny owls.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thread and Value of Samples

This is my first attempt at thread sketching.  I took a photo and traced an outline onto a piece of hand-dye from the "needs more" pile.

This is the back side -- I used a piece of Decor-Bond for stabilizer.  There are lots of issues with thread tension here -- I can't remember if it was the needle, tension, or just inexperience.  I used 50 wt Aurifil thread.

This is the self-portrait I did for Art Quilts Around the World.  I took a bit of Golden Threads paper and traced the outline from a photo with a Sharpie, then went over that with my machine.  I ripped off the paper and filled it in with more 50 wt Aurifil in gray.

I make samples for bigger pieces -- it's good to get the thread, needle, and tension issues out of the way on a sample.  For this one, I fused a piece of cotton on top of more cotton with a wool batt. I did exactly the same thing for my sample -- same fabrics, batt, and fusible web.  I auditioned the threads -- I had trouble deciding which colors to use and this made it much easier.

This is a detail shot of the pelican that shows the finished threadwork.  I'm not sure whether this qualifies as painting or sketching.

And this is another example of sketching/painting -- I used 50 wt thread for the trees and leaves in the background and 40 wt variegated quilting thread for the fused tree -- the dark brown one on the right.

The fused tree was done first with batting only, then I layered the whole piece and finished the background.  This way, the fused tree stuck out from the rest of the piece.

The owl was done separately by hand, then attached after I finished the rest of the piece.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Thread Painting and Sketching Supplies

First, let's get the business of thread-painting out of the way.  I can tell you what I use, but I heartily encourage suggestions.

I like thin thread.  My favorite is Aurifil 50 weight.  I like it because it's thin, strong, and comes in any color I can dream.  My only problem with it is that it is in short supply in my small town and I have to acquire it at quilt shows or drive an hour or so to obtain it.  And I have done that drive.  More than once...  but I digress. And I do use other manufacturers and weights if I like the colors.   I like the thin thread because it's forgiving.  If I scribble-sew all over, mistakes aren't obvious.  With a thicker thread, it would be.  But thick thread has its place.  I like to cover things with thread because I think it gives an organic look.  My favorite subjects have hair or feathers.  But thick thread is really great for trees.  And for less organic things.

With my thin thread, I use small needles.  I like 75/11 or 80/12 sizes.  I usually use Schmetz jeans/denim or Microtex.  The shop where I purchased my machine suggested a new brand, Inspira.  I have been using their denim and Microtex and sometimes their titanium-coated needles and they seem to work pretty well- they're cheaper too.  I change my needles a lot.  When they make that popping noise, it's time for a change.  Sometimes I will notice nests or loops on the back -- time for a new or different needle.  I don't change my machine tension a lot after I make my sample.  Just the needle.  When using thicker thread, a larger needle is in order -- without a lot of blather about technical stuff, I suggest 90/14 Topstitch needles.

As for fabric, I use anything I can lay my hands on.  My favorite stuff to use is hand-dyed cotton, but I'm not proud.  I'll use anything that suits the project.

Which brings me to stabilizers.  I have been using Decor-Bond for a while now -- it's fairly lightweight and doesn't feel too crinkly inside of a quilted project.  A friend (thanks, Robbie) recommended Sulky Totally Stable recently, so I'm going to be experimenting with that this month.  I have a project that I abandoned because I didn't use any stabilizer before I started covering it with thread.  I'm going to see if I can reclaim it with stabilizer.

And don't forget feet:  I use my freemotion foot with the feed dogs down.  Sometimes I forget and leave them up -- I usually don't notice until I remove the piece.  So I'm not sure it's all that important.

Next: thread-sketching and the value of making samples

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On the "...Fire" Blog: Thread Sketching and Painting

This month on the "...Fire" Blog, I'm "up."  And I choose thread sketching and painting.  Click here for the link.

I was at a quilt show a couple of years ago and in the little sign accompanying a certain quilt, one of the techniques given was "thread-painting."  My friend and I looked all over that quilt and didn't see anything we thought would qualify as thread-painting.  It was a modern art quilt, composed of beautiful hand-dyed fabrics and artfully quilted, but we just didn't see any actual thread-painting.

I am not enough full of myself to think that I can provide the definitive definition of thread-painting, but I think that a lot of what I do qualifies as such.  So this month, my month, I want to explore the art of painting on fabric with thread.  Because it's really just another form of my favorite thing: putting color on fabric.

Here are a couple of examples to get the creative juices flowing:

Ellen Anne Eddy does amazing thread work.  Her website is here:
and her blog is here:

Terry Aske has a nice portrait of a thread-painted dog here:

Shannon Conley has a nice thread-painted dog here:

and for those who are not necessarily fans of dogs, Quilting Arts is offering a free ebook on thread painting and sketching here:

Next up: the basics.  Threads, needles, fabrics and stabilizers, oh my...