My Design Wall is Full!

Here is what my design wall looks like today! There is a lot going on…

The right hand side has to do with my two upcoming workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The first, covering hexies and Grandmother’s Flower Garden is on Saturday. Six pointed stars is in July. Click here to get more info.

At the top right, you can see a quilt emerging, made up of (hand pieced) half hexagons. There are many ways to sew them together, but this is by far my favorite. It’s such a strong graphic design. The two plain colored areas in each block are my hand dyed fabrics and I have them strewn all over the floor as I pick them out.

The black stars in the middle are six pointed stars hand pieced in a Seven Sister sort of design. Below them is a pattern, first published in Godey’s Ladies Book in the mid 1800’s, called bricks. It is also a 60 degree diamond, but the “sides” of the brick shape are elongated.

The left hand side of the board is devoted to a deconstructed lone star. Using Moda precut fabrics, I have cut out stacks of 2.5″ x 5.5″ fabrics to sew on a Quiltsmart base. I hope to be giving a talk about how to make this amazing design at Island Quilters this Fall. Lots more coming about this project!

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Wonderful Quilters

Friday was such a fun day. Each Summer the North Carolina Quilt Symposium is held somewhere in the state. This year it was in Asheville so I made a date with a friend/quilter to attend for the day.

We went to a few quilt stores on our way north and after a yummy lunch, found our way to the UNC Asheville campus. This year they had an amazing group of teachers who each brought 3 or 4 quilts to hang with the participants’ quilts. When we paid our entrance fee, we were given a plastic glove so that we could look at the back of the quilts. To be able to see the quilts very close and check out the amazing quilting on the back was such a treat! Here are some of my favorites…

Susan Cleveland:

Though I took a class with her some years ago, it must have been before I started blogging. In any case, it was her Piping Hot Bindings workshop. She is an excellent (and fun!) instructor. If you have made bindings on quilts, you can understand that a teacher has to give very simple and clear directions for everyone to understand and be successful! This quilt, Flowered and Feathered Frenzy, is full of wonderful details showcasing her class content. There is a double binding around the wonky edges. There is both machine and hand quilting; the hand quilting she calls her “Morse Code” technique.

I was quite taken by these embroidered circles. And I love the color! I had just been complaining to my friend about all the dull grey quilts that everyone seems to like now. She pointed out that Susan’s quilt was grey. It is indeed, but the colors she used are brights – not the colors with grey added. It’s just wonderful.

Melinda Bula:

You may remember that I took a class with her to make her wonderful zinnia quilt. I can’t say enough about her stunning quilts and easy-going manner in the classroom. Looking at Waratah on the computer screen, I am struck by its beautiful graphic quality. In person you see her layers and layers of machine quilting and the lovely hand dyed fabrics that she often uses.

And her Monet in Pasadena. It was a hot day in Asheville and I wanted to swim among the lily pads.

Lea McComas:

I believe I saw this quilt in a magazine and I was delighted to be able to see it up close and personal. Bike Boys is amazing – Lea used 114 threads which added up to 8 miles of stitching.

This ad below was her inspiration! This is also a good shot to see her thread painting. Can you see how thick it is?

Barbara Olson:

I have seen Barbara Olson’s quilts many times at various quilt shows. Her work is constantly evolving and I was really struck by Life Unfolding. Do click on the picture to see the amazing detail, fabrics, colors and stitching!

And her Peacock Flower. (The Guild labeled this Stroke of Blue but on her website it is called Peacock Flower.) Talk about juicy color…

What is it about seeing art or fine craft in person? I feel refreshed and energized. I hope you do as well!

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Dyeing with Friends

I have been volunteering at Greenville Center for Creative Arts for a few months. They have gallery space and offer classes and host studio artists. When I volunteer, I sit at the front desk mulling over proposing some classes. I love teaching and sharing and getting to know creative souls and I haven’t done much of that since we moved to South Carolina. This Summer I am offering two quilting workshops (and crossing my fingers that they fill!). Another class idea that I had was teaching shibori dyeing. It’s so much fun to do and quite “trendy” now in home dec and even clothing. After a lot of thought, I asked some neighborhood friends to be my guinea pigs and help me decide whether teaching a shibori class was feasible. (I offered one many years ago at a craft fair and did remember that it was a lot of work…)

The class idea was to dye 6 napkins, each trying out a different shibori technique. I knew that this class could not be for many students; dyeing takes lots of water and space to dump dye buckets and the venue where I want to teach has limited sinks. Here are some of the supplies I’d need to take – only some of the junk that makes shibori dyeing so fun.

When teaching a class like this, there are so many variables. The main one is how long each person takes to complete the tying or clamping or sewing of their piece. And that’s the creative part – they shouldn’t be rushed then. The actual dye time is set; it’s about an hour. I used to teach dyeing at my house in Illinois and the ladies would bring lunch and we’d eat and chat as the cloth sat in the dyebath. The class I would offer at The Art Center would cost a lot more and I’m not sure the participants would welcome “empty time”, which the dyeing time seems to be. Then there is rinsing and the super fun part – unwrapping the cloth and seeing the results – and then much more washing. My friends and I took so long that one woman had to leave as she had an appointment!

We did have a fun time and here are Gale’s napkins. Poor photo, but wonderful designs and color.

Cheri chose a blue green and had very nice results.

Debbie’s napkins turned out the best, as far as the dye color. They were a different weight from the others, looked to be mercerized and were woven in a twill pattern. Everything makes a difference when you’re dyeing.

Can you guess what I concluded???  I will not be teaching shibori… I’m disappointed but it’s way too much work and aggravation … I will keep hoping that the quilting workshops fill and dream up some less complicated ideas for the Fall session.

 

 

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The Finish of Nick & Two Tips!

 

Peter came in one day to check on Nick and started laughing. I was sitting at my desk area and asked what was so funny. He replied that I had better watch out for his crotch area… Of course everything would be trimmed when I completed the fusing, but it was funny nonetheless. You can see that I was auditioning two sets of eyes and wondering how bright should his nose be.

I fiddled around for a week or so and here is his final face…

Nick is very large (about 40″x40″) and he hung over the edges of the office table that I use in the studio to work on. To do the final fusing and cut him out, I used the dining room table. Here he is cut out and ready to glue (!) on the background fabric.

Marking lines for machine quilting was no picnic! Every resourceful quilter knows to tape rulers together to get the lengths they need. (Tip #1) – I very much like the washable blue marker, but it was a mistake in this case. I was not able to immerse the quilt in water and I spritzed and spritzed with water to get the blue out. I did it so much that the red fabrics started to bleed!

I have mentioned this tool before, but it bears repeating! (Tip #2) – here I am quilting straight lines using my Sweet 16. I have practised holding a ruler with my left hand and moving the fabric with my right and inevitably the ruler shifts and I go off track. Jenny of QuiltSkipper recommended this Line Tamer Template by FourPawsQuilting, and it works so well.

Here is Nick on the wall of Island Quilters, next to his relative, Ebba.

I took Nick’s portrait before I sent him off to Island Quilters. I am looking forward to seeing him hang over our mantlepiece next December!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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A Dyed Garment – Ripped From the Catalogs!

I have been doing some dyeing, over the last few days and having lots of fun. Many of the projects I worked on did not come out as I had hoped, but this knit top “ripped from a catalog” is a winner. I had some ideas about what to do with a knit top I bought from Dharma Trading Company, but when I flipped through a catalog the other night, I found the perfect (and perfectly simple) design. I’ve been working on some examples of shibori and tie dye for the neighborhood ladies’ craft group. Tie dyeing is loads of fun, but perhaps not so wearable for us older ladies… Shibori techniques, on the other hand, can be quite elegant and examples of them are in all sorts of stores. This pattern is so easy; it’s the classic spiderweb (perhaps called kumo in Japanese?) and I always enjoy it. Here it is all tied up.

And here is the front….

And a side view…

And the back.

The color couldn’t have been simpler! It’s PRO Chem MX Fuchsia 308. I dribbled it into the pan until I liked the tint and submerged the t-shirt. The fact that it looks so nice on my mannequin means it won’t fit me now (she’s a size 10) but it’s a good Summer goal for me. ;-D

 

 

Next Steps on Rock Around the Block – Jack’s Chain Quilt

Now that December has come and gone, I am trying to spend more time in the studio – and it’s back to the Jack’s Chain quilt. Knowing that I did not have enough of the background blue hand dyed fabric, I had to fiddle around with a final layout for the top. I finally decided that a center 3 square by 5 square strip, with a strip on either side using the new fabric would work for me.  I shopped around a few quilt stores and found a darker, but similar hand dyed blue.The center strip of the quilt top is completed and I am working on the rows with the new fabric. This pattern is not as circular as the original, more difficult pattern; it is more wavy.

Working on strips

A new addition is little hexies that I have hand appliqued in the middle of every other block. {Looking at the photograph, I am now wondering if I should make one for every middle, but will wait until I have finished with all the blocks…}

Hexie middles

It has been hard to find time to work on it, but I am back to making one square a day.

Patchwork Couch-Pillows

I have been eyeing these tiny  blue and white quilt pieces and feeling fairly sure that they weren’t going to become a quilt, but I’d pieced quite a lot and didn’t want to throw them out. One day genius struck and I took them downstairs to the new couch and these four squares fit perfectly on the (matching) (dull) pillows that came with the couch. Yippee!

Tiny Delectable Stars

This is something that I do frequently. Matching pillows on a couch are pretty dull… Here is a couch-pillow slipcover that I made for the Colorado brown loveseats using fun bits of fabrics in my stash.

Brown batiks

In the Colorado Summers, I covered the loveseats with denim slipcovers and made these two cases from my wonderful Asian fabric stash. I hand stitch one end of the cover, so it’s easy enough to rip out the stitches and change the brown covers to the blue ones. (I’m too lazy to sew zippers…)

Asian blue pillows

This Delectable Stars pattern was made using foundation piecing and this is what it looks like when all the paper is (carefully) ripped off. Quite the mess!

Paper piecing detrius

I love to sew triangles, but they are nasty when it comes to pressing. It involves some careful pressing and then a lot of mashing with a steamy iron.

So many triangles

And here it is quilted and in place on the couch! I quilted it way more than I needed to do for just a pillow, but I wanted to be sure to highlight the piecing pattern. And it was good practise for the big Delectable Stars quilt, should I ever finish that one.

Blue pillow

 

The 21 Year Old Rug Is Completed!!!

Perhaps if you have worked at a project on and off for many years, you will understand my surprise when after clipping and clipping and filling in skipped spots, I realized that The 21 Year Old Rug was finally done! How could that have happened?

I did a little happy dance and then started the finishing process. First I laid a piece of plastic and then a towel on the wooden floor. The rug went next and then I laid a sheet on the top. I filled the iron with lots of water and steamed over the sheet/rug many times. This is called blocking and if you work with any sort of fiber, you know what an incredible process this is. I took some photos, but you really can’t see the difference. I hook quite evenly, but even so, it becomes so smooth as the wool blooms. It certainly “could” be finished as is, but I think the braid will really make it special.

I googled adding a braid to a hooked rug and my blog came up! And not much else. Though I do remember how to do it, I did not want to do it the way my instructor showed the class. She lines, or covers, the whole underneath of the piece with flannel and then adds the braid. I asked her if she did this for floor rugs as well and she replied that she did. For many reasons, I don’t want to do this but the main one is that the flannel will be covered with cat fuzz the minute it lands on the floor! And how would I get the cat fuzz off of the flannel on the rug back? It’s tricky enough to vacuum the front of a hooked piece.

I did a lot of measuring and trimmed the burlap. I serged the raw edge and then carefully folded the edge using many pins, so there was a thin edge to lace the braid on. Then I hand sewed twill tape on the back. This would have been a lot simpler if the backing were not burlap, which is fragile and reacts badly to wet and heat. But you remember, this is a 21-year-old rug and I think I probably bought the pattern 25 years ago…

Almost done!

 

The braid is a bit tricky to begin, as you need to make blunt ends for butting at the end. Because of the way the corners are handled, I braid and lace and braid and lace and then do the special corner braid. Here is my little frame, which holds the wool strips firmly so that I get a tight braid. I can hear some of you saying “ahhhhh…” and it is fun to do!

Braiding frame

 

The ending – butting both ends of the braid – is SO not fun! I spent more than an hour trimming the wool pieces on the right and then sewing the ends and then trimming again and sewing. I was so anxious about cutting them too short. Not the end of the world, but it would have been nasty to repair. I was able to get a “perfect butt” {don’t laugh!} meaning the colors matched, but I am not happy about where the seams are butted and sewn. I may go back and sew them some more.

Butting the braid

So here it is! It will sit by Peter’s side of the bed as he always said he wanted it and kept encouraghing me to finish it. O happy day!

21 year old rug completed

 

The 21 Year Old Rug Update…

Because I have whined so much about the Vermont Shells hooked rug, I promised myself that I would not discuss the rug until it was done – but it is in the home stretch! While filling in some “holidays” and cutting ends, I was mulling over what sort of yarn to whip the edge with. And then I decided to make a braided edge. It will probably take longer, particularly as I don’t quite remember how to attach the braid, but it will be a lovely finish. {I’m so ready to be done with this rug…}

Here are some of the fabrics that I auditioned. The fabric on the left is the one that I used to hook the dark edge of the border, and I could certainly use three lengths of that, but braiding is much more interesting when several fabrics are used. The plain brown is the fabric I hooked around each of the clam shells and I liked the idea of adding some green, so I ripped 2″ strips of the first three wools and braided a quick sample.

Braid ideas

Sampling is important as it is impossible to know 1) how the fabrics will look when they are folded and braided and 2) how the braid will look against the rug. It looks pretty good.

Braid one

For the next sample I subtracted the plain brown and used the blue plaid. I liked the idea of echoing (in very dark values) the main colors of the shells. I like it!

Braid Two

Braiding is a good project to do while watching the Olympics because I can start and stop easily. {And can you believe the amount of commercials??? Holy Cow I am glad that we are watching a day behind. Peter says he is getting a sore thumb from fast forwarding and even with handwork it would drive me mad to watch so many inane commercials.}

The other project I am working on while viewing the Olympics is the Halloween Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. I haven’t worked on it in quite some time… It’s getting to be that time of year. Maybe I will try to finish it for Halloween of 2017… {It could happen.}

Halloween GFG

Fourth of July Tie Dye

I am not a big fan of what I call “Grateful Dead” tie dye and when I teach dyeing I specifically say that we will not be doing that. It’s been so many years since The Summer of Love and communes and all, it’s interesting that it’s still a very popular technique. My niece Kim calls me her “crafty aunt” and so when she said that she’d like to bring her family down here for a visit, I thought there was enough time to make something. And when buying supplies for something else, I noticed the tie dye kits in all the big box craft stores… So with the help of Dharma Trading Company and Pro Chemical, I got up to speed on what supplies I needed and how to do it.

Dharma has an enormous selection of clothing, ready to dye (PFD) and Kim’s family chose their clothing. It arrived just in time. I had most everything I needed, but sent off to Pro Chem for a few things. Tie dye is direct dyeing, meaning that the dye is painted or squirted onto the fabric, which then needs to sit (batch) for many hours for the dyes to set, or become permanent. First the clothing needs to soak in a solution of soda ash, which is the setting chemical, and then it can be wound or bound or otherwise manipulated with rubber bands.

Kim's hoodie

I had squeeze bottles of magenta, turquoise, blue and a yellow mixed with Urea (to keep the fabric wet) ready to go as well as a big box of plastic gloves. And then the fun really began as they squeezed and kneaded the fabric.

Griffin's t

Even the paper towels they used to mop up spills and puddles look like works of art. I gave them three design ideas because I knew they knew even less about the technique than I did. I was a bit disappointed than none of them chose to do the “classic rainbow spiral”, but they all turned out very well.

Pretty towel

A day later, they squirted the bundles with the hose and then cut off the rubber band bindings. (It’s better than Christmas!) My great-nephew, Mr. Tidy and Symmetrical, was a bit hesitant and fretted when the colors weren’t exactly what he wanted while he was designing, but I hope he likes the end result. (He’s 15 – it can be hard to read him!)

Griff's t

My niece Kim dyed a hoodie which was a lot of fabric to deal with. I love the hood being such different colors from the shirt.

The hoodie

I’m not sure that Kim’s husband understood exactly what he was doing and I know my color wheel explanation went right over his head, but he was squirting dye everywhere and rolling the bound shirt in the dye puddles. Didn’t he end up with a really great t-shirt? I love those exuberant colors!

Lester's t

The best part was that the boys wore them to Asheville the next day and looked just like locals!

I hope you all had a Happy 4th of July…