Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bonnie McCaffery’s latest VidCast features Janet and me

For the past few years, award-winning quilter Bonnie McCaffery (well known for her Painted Faces and DigiBobbE techniques) has been interviewing quilters and producing videos, which she posts on her website. In May, she interviewed me and Janet Lasher (above, on the left) at Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh. Janet and I both belong to Fiber Art Options, a group of fiber artists from the Charlotte, NC area.

Bonnie’s just posted the VidCast, and you can now see it on her website!

For a complete list of Bonnie’s VidCasts, click here. You’ll find interviews with some amazing quilters, including Charlotte Warr Andersen, Maggie Weiss, Paula Nadelstern, Robbie Joy Eklow, Terry White, Larkin Van Horn, Isabelle Baydova, Maggie Grey, Denise Tallon Harlan, Ellen Lindner, Sue Nickels, Linda Schmidt, Ferret, Jenny Bowker, Melinda Schwakofer, Ricky Tims, Esterita Austin, Alex Anderson, and Caryl Bryer Fallert.

Bonnie is a fantastic teacher, a very talented quilter, and a really great person. It was an honor to be interviewed by her. Thanks, Bonnie!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pink Petal Party featured in Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine

My friend Sarah Ann Smith has been writing a series on the elements and principles of design for machine quilters for Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine. The most recent installment is “Depth and Dimension through Contours, Rhythm and Repetition” in the January 2010 issue. When Sarah was writing this column, she was looking for examples from both traditional quilts and art quilts, and asked if she could include my quilt, Pink Petal Party. How nice!

Sarah notes that the dense quilting in the background helps to concentrate attention on the focal point, the vase of pansies. She also points out the realistic stitching on the pansies, and the stitching on the vase, where vertical lines cover the whole vase and horizontal lines come in from the left and right sides, making the center appear to come forward.

The article features photos of beautiful work by Sarah and Suzanne Sanger to illustrate her wonderfully informative column.

Machine Quilting Unlimited has a great mix of articles for long-arm machine quilters as well as for those of us who use regular home sewing machines. And there’s a nice balance of traditional quilting and art quilting. In the January issue, there’s a great profile of Laura Wasilowski, whose work is featured on the front cover.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My new thread organizer

Look what I got for Christmas! It’s an oak thread organizer by Rom Woodworking. I saw these at Fall Quilt Market in Houston and knew without a shadow of a doubt that one would go on my Christmas list.

They make several different versions, including full cylinders that rotate on a lazy susan and sit on a table, and in different styles for those who use thread cones and those who use smaller embroidery thread spools.

Mine is the “Wall Mounted Half Barrel” and is 29" tall x 22" wide. It holds 72 large cones of thread and 64 small spools or bobbins. It came with big pegs (for the cones) and small spindles (for the spools) but I drilled smaller holes in the spots for the big pegs, because I don’t buy thread in cones (yet!). Then I purchased some dowel rods at a craft store, cut them to length and sanded the ends, and used them instead of the big pegs. I didn’t glue them in place, so I can swap them out for the big pegs when I buy cones of thread.

Rom Woodworking also makes ruler organizers. The company is based in Harveys Lake, Pa.

The quality is exceptional, and you can get them in both clear finish and a golden oak stain. They are also not as heavy as you might expect, so it was very easy for me to mount mine on the wall.

I would need a second one to hold all my embroidery-weight threads and my hand quilting threads, but this one holds all of my spools for machine quilting, with some room to spare, and looks great doing it.

I am loving this thing! My husband calls it “the Thread Deathstar.” :-)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas all over the house

I have been busy getting ready for Christmas, and thought you might like to see some of my decorations. The storm that is raging up the east coast brought us some wonderful winter white today. I took this photo at about 3:30 p.m.; we got a little more later in the afternoon, for a total of about two inches, I think. This is rare for the Charlotte area.

I have been collecting these glass balls for years. The nativity set is by Eldreth Pottery in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

I purchased these darling primitive angels (”Hope” and “Peace”) from a woman at Barnful of Quilts last fall.

I got this standing angel on sale after Christmas several years ago... she was left behind because one arm is attached backwards... and I love that!

My mom gave me her carollers last year. They look marvelous on the piano.

My parents and my best friend, Dawna, gave me these elegant Russian Santas.

Snowmen and Eldreth Pottery Santas by the window in the family room.

My stitchery (a pattern by Buttermilk Basin) and little quilt, with my mom’s old wool skating socks, beloved Norwegian and Swedish mittens and booties purchased for my children when they were tiny, and a simple hand-carved wood star.

My wool advent calendar, “Gingerbread Countdown.”

A pile of quilts with the angels, and a sampling of folk art Santas by my neighbor.

A tin sign graces the old china hutch…

and these Eldreth Pottery Santas sit atop, in their wintery wonderland.

I put the Santas away after Christmas, but leave out the snow and the winter tree through February, wishing for snow.

Fresh mistletoe in a sweet vintage vase.

A wintery view out our window.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Working away

I’ve been working away on my yellow orchid piece, trying to add more depth, get the proper color balance, and fix the water droplets. I got some assistance from my Facebook friend Karen Dennison, who referred me to this great YouTube video and from Sandee Krueger, who left a comment on my last post. Isn’t cool that there is this wonderful community of people out there in the blogosphere who are willing to help? Thanks! My water droplets are looking much better, I think!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yellow Orchid in progress

I have started painting the next in my series of wholecloth painted orchid pieces. This one is even closer up than the purple one that I just finished. Part of the challenge here is those water droplets. Like the others, it will be about 24" x 36". The first photo shows my painted version on fabric; the second is the photo from which I worked.

I still have a lot of shading to do, but it is shaping up. I am learning a lot about painting with acrylics, and cursing myself for not taking any painting classes before I attempted this. It is really valuable to take a photo of it at this stage and compare it to the photo with both at about the same size. I can see now more clearly what I need to work on.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to face a quilt

Stitch Sampler showing facing (back of quilt)

Note: There are many methods for facing a quilt. This one is a combination of methods I learned from others, plus some tricks I learned while trying different techniques, and is the one that works best for me. This tutorial is available as a free four-page PDF – simply click here, or go to the sidebar on the right side of this blog, scroll down to “Free Stuff” and click on the “How to face a quilt” link to download and print the PDF.

For this tutorial, I faced a small stitch sampler I created when preparing to film my DVD, “Master Machine Quilting: Free-motion Stitching and Thread Sketching.” The back is black and the front is maroon. Normally I’d make the facing a color similar to the back of my quilt, or even the same fabric. In this case, I used white so you could see more clearly what I was doing.

I like to use this method on my art quilts; I think it makes them look more like art if they don’t have a traditional quilt binding. I have started using facings or a pillowcase turn on most of my art quilts, saving binding for my more traditional quilts.

Trim your quilt, squaring up the corners, so that the backing and batting are even with the edge of the quilt.

Measure the width and length of your quilt and cut four 2" wide facing strips that are 2" longer than each side. (For example, if your quilt is 15" wide by 18" long, cut two facing strips 2" x 17" and two facing strips 2” x 20”.)

On one long edge of each strip, turn under and press under ¼".

Mark the width of the quilt side on the unfolded long edge of the first strip. Then measure in ¼" and make a second mark. Do the same at the other end. Pin the unfolded edge of the strip to the edge of the quilt, aligning the outer marks.

Using a standard presser foot or your walking foot, stitch along the edge between the two inner marks, back stitching at each end, with a ¼" seam allowance. Make sure to leave exactly ¼" at each end unstitched.

Fold back the facing strip.

Pin the next facing strip in place.

Stitch it down in the same way, with a ¼" seam allowance, back stitching at the two inner marks.

Apply all four sides in the same manner. Finger press the facings away from the quilt.

Fold each corner of the quilt at a 45° angle, with the front of the quilt inside, and align and pin the facing strips. Then use a ruler marked with a 45° angle and mark this angle on the facing strips.

The line should go from the end of the stitching at the inner mark at the corner of the quilt to the folded edge of the facing.

Stitch on this line, back stitching at each end, and stopping exactly at the place where this seam meets the seam where you sewed the facing to the quilt. Trim to a ¼" seam allowance.

Press the seam allowance open.

Clip corner and then grade seams near the corner. Do the other corners in the same manner.

Turn facing around to the back side of the quilt and finger press seams again. Use a blunt-tip tool to turn out corners.

From the front side, stitch along the edges about 1/8" from the seam, through the facing and the seam allowance. It is impossible to stitch around the corners; simply stitch up as far into the corners as you can. This seam, often used in garment construction, will help the facing turn more easily to the back.

Turn the facing to the back side of the quilt, and press it so that the facing does not show on the front. On the back, pin the facing to the backing.

Note: If the mitred seam (45° angle at the corners) does not fit snugly, you can tuck it under, pin it in place and stitch a tighter seam when you hand stitch the facing to the back in the next step.
Stitch the folded edge of the facing to the back of the quilt, tightening mitered seam if necessary.

Here is the back of the quilt with the white facing.

Here is a corner of the faced quilt from the front.

If you are curious about other facing methods, here are some great instructions:

Grace Howes

Brenda Gael Smith

Jeri Riggs

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Pandoras meeting

Today we explored several new materials at the Pandoras meeting, and had lots of fun! We made these cute little pincushions (the purple one on the right is mine) using recycled tins that used to hold Target gift cards and lip gloss. Alisan designed this project. Isn’t she smart?

Here’s what we played with:

Adirondack Alcohol Inks are dye-based, multi-surface transparent inks you can use on glossy paper, metal, dominos, shrink plastic, glass, and other non-porous surfaces.
Metallic Mixatives create luminous highlights when used with the Inks.
You can use rubbing alcohol in a little spritzer to get a neat speckled effect.
Adirondack Alcohol Blending Solution can be used to lighten colors and clean the inks off of things.
All these are made by Ranger Industries.

We applied the inks with felt pads; you can also use paintbrushes.

These are tins (below) purchased in the candle-making section of my local Michaels craft store that were painted with the Adirondacks and spritzed with rubbing alcohol and/or stamped:

This is a piece of tin sheet metal I got from Grace, and embossed using a wooden tool, then inked with the Adirondacks:

These little beauties (below) started out as ordinary metal washers from the hardware store. We inked them with the Adirondacks (the one on the far left shows a washer with just the ink), and then sprinkled on clear UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel), a “dimensional medium for decorative arts,” on top and heated it with a crafting heat gun.

Mine are the green and bright blue ones on the right. I applied several coats of UTEE. The UTEE powder kept blowing off until Alisan suggested using a base of VersaMark watermark ink first. This product is used for embossing using powders on paper. The VersaMark held the powder in place long enough for it to melt, and then the next two layers stuck to the melted UTEE fine.

Want to give it a try? Here are sources for the materials we used today:
Interweave/Quilting Arts

Judy Coates Perez’s “Painted Threads Inspiration and Creativity Store” on Amazon