Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tick, tick, tick....

Has it really been since August that I last updated my blog!!??  Bad, bad Textile Diva!  However I do take breaks every now and then so this shouldn't surprise anyone that I 'disappeared' for a short time.  Life gets busy and blogging takes backseat to everything else.  I'm hoping however to jump back in my regularly soon so watch this space!  I'll be posting photos of completed projects in the next few posts.  Though I haven't been writing about it, I have been quilting.  I hope everyone in blogger-land have been healthy and happy. 

Blog soon.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Red, White and Blue is Calling Me

As everyone who reads my blog knows, I'm working on the Love Entwined (LE) quilt.  This is a major undertaking for me because up to this point I have never completed a quilt that is 99% applique.  I've been afraid of applique my entire quilting life so I'm on the edge of insanity here to be doing this particular quilt that is intense to say the least for an experienced appliquer - and I wouldn't even consider myself worthy to be called a novice.  Anyway....

I've started LE with colours that I really like and think are working well together.  But something inside me keeps pushing me toward doing another LE (at the same time, mind you NUTS!) in the theme of red, white and blue.  I KNOW.  I wrote in only a post or two ago that I'm trying to break out of the red, white and blue colour scheme ghetto, but geez, I do love a patriotic quilt.  And after seeing so many beautiful renditions of this quilt in the making in a magical array of colour schemes, I'm thinking LE would be absolutely stunning in R,W and B.  I have an enormous amount of patriotic themed fabric in my stash as well that I could subtly introduce.  Nothing garish however or over the top, just an eagle motif here or a star placed strategically there.  And I could maybe throw in a bit of gold when a pop of colour is needed.....

Damn!  I really want to do this but I'm fighting it.  It's been in my brain for the past week and doesn't seem to want to leave.  What's the deal with me?  Was I Betsy Ross in a previous life?  (for my non-American friends, Betsy Ross was the woman attributed with sewing the first American flag).

I have to decide soon if:

1)  I forget this idea and just continue on with the colours I planned to use.  They are beautiful colours and I'm certain it will turn out well.

2) Forgo the original colour scheme altogether that I already started on and begin work on the R,W and B one instead.

or

3) Actually attempt both until I loose my mind.    AAAaaaaahhhhhh!




Friday, August 23, 2013

Inspiration...

Fabric One - Inspiration!
Fabric Two
Sometimes you find that perfect fabric that gives you inspiration for all the other colours in your quilt.  I found that in fabric one above.  The scene of Paris with flowers and text and buildings is exactly what I was looking for to inspire the rest of my fabric choices and colours for the Love Entwined (LE) quilt.  The second fabric above of hand written postcards is the one I used for the centre mariners compass and I liked the affect so much I wanted to buy another meter of it to use in other parts of the quilt.  

The colours of the flowers in fabric one are ones I'm going to use in other elements of LE.  I'm so glad I found this because I was beginning to stress over what colours I was going to use as the quilt progressed.  
The mottled solids will work beautifully with the appliqué flowers to come and looks great against the dark blue background I'm using.  

I'm really enjoying all the appliqué which is something I never thought I would say as though I love to hand piece I've never been into appliqué.   I think LE is making me a convert. 

And to add to a great day my wonderful hubby bought me a rocking chair for our 15th anniversary which is today.  He joked that now I can rock away while working on LE and he's so right!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Colour Me Passionate...

Logo from the Lynda.com site


I hate feeling colour challenged. 

Though I love colour in every aspect of my life and I believe that my colour choices in most things such as home decoration and clothing is attractive and perfect for me -I do struggle when it comes to raining in colour choices in my quilts.  This frustration has caused me to fall back on what I know works and therefore I love to create quilts of multiple colours because when you throw all the colours of the rainbow into a project, HOW can you get it wrong?  Therefore my scrap quilts are comprised of all colours or I fall back on my tried and true ‘go to’ pallet – red, white and blue.  Well, I need to break out of this box I’ve put myself into.

I’m taking a colour class through the online teaching medium Lynda.com.  If you’re not familiar with Lynda.com you should hop on over there now and have a look see.  It’s a wonderful learning resource for any person who uses programs on a computer on a regular basis.  It’s not ‘just’ a tutorial site – it truly is a learning site.  Taking a Lynda.com class is like attending a college level lecture as it emerges you in-depth into your chosen area of study.  I’ve used it for years to learn everything from Photoshop to Word and now they have expanded their offerings to cover things outside of singular computer programs exclusively into areas such as photography techniques and illustrations.  The colour course I’m taking is called ‘Foundations of Color’ with Mary Jane Begin.  It is excellent and I highly recommend it (please note I have no business relationship with Lynda.com.  I’m speaking strictly as a private citizen and have no financial arrangements with Lynda.com  to review any of their products).  I’ve taken colour tutorials in the past through Craftsy and I have to say I feel without a doubt that Lynda.com is by far superior.  Through ‘Foundations of Color’ I’m learning in a much more in-depth way about colour theory taken out of the realm of quilting.  As a stand alone field of study this can be applied to quilting or to any colour related endeavour.  I have high expectations at the completion of this class of FINALLY feeling more in control and focused in using colour in my textile art.  I suppose my future quilts will be the evidence of my success or failure.

Watch this space.

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I'm a Member!



Today I joined the Modern Quilt Guild.

I’ve been considering it for a while but being outside the U.S., I wasn’t certain what value it would be for an international member as I more than likely wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend Sew In’s and such in the United States.  But now that I’m no longer a part of the Perth Modern Quilt Guild, I still want to stay connected to the movement and conversations pertaining to that style of quilting.  So I thought I’d give membership in the MQG a go for a year and see what happens.  Browsing their site I see some amazingly talented quilters taking quilting to the next level.  I could learn more than a thing or two from them I’m sure.

My group Running with Scissors has a retreat planned in Oct.  This is our annual pilgrimage to that awesome quilt shop in the middle of nowhere.  It’s truly a unique experience to live in a quilt shop for two whole days sewing, eating, and discussing the medium and completely becoming absorbed in all things quilty.  And of course there are thousands of bolts of fabric that just ache to be touched and oogled over during the course of the weekend with the inevitable outcome being I spend way more money after each visit then I ever plan to.  I’m presently on a fabric diet but as this event comes around only once a year, I give myself permission during the weekend to indulge in the fatty delight that is fabric consumption.
Psycho-70's apple core quilt on my bed

The full quilt, but you can't see any of the wavey quilting in varigated thread on the white side.  
Anyway, for the retreat this year I’m thinking of working on one of my modern quilts.  I’ve been experimenting with circles and by using time saving techniques and fabric fusing I think I could probably whip up an entire quilt top in one weekend during the retreat (if I precut and prepare ahead of time).  And if my husband ever finishes my machine quilting frame it would take no time at all to quilt it up and have a refreshing new quilt on my bed for summer (remember I live in the southern hemisphere so as the U.S. goes into winter we go into summer).  Right now I have my psycho-70’s apple core quilt on my bed and I’m really pleased with how that turned out.  Adding a few more modern styled ones to the rotation would be a good idea.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Love Entwined Centre Done

After a marathon two days of dedicated piecing, I've finished the centre mariners compass of the Love Entwined quilt.  Well, almost finished - I still have to needle turn the circle onto the background fabric (which is going to be a deep patterned blue).   I think I like my colour choices.  I love the way the script patterned fabric turned out when it was cut into shapes and pieced.  It's all from the same print but looks like pieces of numerous prints when put back together.  And I decided to make ribbon roses within the outer circle instead of embroidery or appliqué because I like the texture it gives.  I also decided to place my ribbon roses at the tips of each spike which reduced the number of dots indicated on the pattern from 32 to 16.  I didn't think my roses would have the same impact if I made them any smaller or placed them any closer together.  Plus I already had the ribbon in the colour I wanted in my sewing room. 

What have I learned after completing this?  That if I had to do the compass over again I wouldn't have pieced it.  I would have used the paper piecing technique instead.  I'm an experienced hand piecer and ensured my seam allowances were spot on - but this was still a challenge for me getting the circle to be an exact circle (it isn't perfect but as perfect as I could get it without starting over again).  There are just too many small pieces which means too many seams which becomes a headache to get to lie flat and round.  Also I didn't add the outside ring on as a pieced unit.  Instead I cut a circle to the size I wanted (including seam allowance) and appliqués the compass onto it using the needle turn method.  I figure if I feel after adding the completed circle onto the background there's too much fabric bulk, I can always cut away the base behind the compass before attaching it permanently to the background fabric.   Trying to neatly piece a ring around the compass would just be not only too time consuming but left too much of a possibility of stretching the fabric across the bias causing puckers in the ring when I attached it. 
The pink marking is only temporary

I'm now going to make myself a cup of tea and take a break.  Over the weekend I'll jump into the next step. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Itty Bitty Pieces


I've finally begun work on the LE quilt.  As you can see from the photo above the centre mariners compass is pretty small.  These are pieces WITH the seam allowance.  I used Stitch & Sew ironed onto the back of the fabric to not only stabilize the pieces but also to give me an accurate seam allowance to sew against.  When piecing something so small its extremely important to maintain the right seam allowance because deviating even a little (and with so many pieces as well) will make your finished piece wonky and out of proportion.  At this point I think I'm happy with my color choices but I'll reserve my final opinion until I get them all pieced together.  I really hope I don't hate it and have to start from scratch again.

I'm mostly using my Civil War fabrics but I'm not going to limit myself to them alone.  I really like the new lines of fabric coming out that has script and text as it's pattern.  I'll definitely incorporate some of that into the quilt.  As you can see from the cut fabric choices in the mariners compass centre I'm using some text patterned fabric.  It's going to be an eclectic quilt for sure.

It feels good to finally start the project.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Love Entwined Started at Last!

Now that the charity quilt is done and dusted I can focus my textile energies on personal projects that I've been putting off because my quilting life has been too busy with group stuff.  It feels refreshing to jump into a 'me' project.  It's been too long.

In preparation for Love Entwined (LE) I cleaned up my sewing room and pulled out all the fabrics I think I might be using throughout the projects.  I say think because with a project this detailed and varied, no doubt my choices will change as the quilt progresses.  The first hurdle I have to get over is the fabric choices for the center mariners compass.  I've been agonizing over this for the past week or so.

Last night I started tracing the fabric shapes for the compass onto Stitch & Sew - which is something I've never used before.  It was recommended by the creator of the pattern as a material that's easy to work with for accurate applique shapes that is ironed onto the back of the fabric you're going to use (like when you use wax paper for applique) only it isn't removed the way wax paper is.  It stays on the back and washes away after a time.  As I'm very inexperienced at applique I'm going to follow her suggestions and see what happens.  I know as an applique newby I'm pretty nuts to be jumping into this very detailed and elaborate project, but I like challenges.  If something is too easy I get bored quick.  I'm pretty certain it won't be boredom that would make me walk away from this project....

So tonight I plan to finally begin the piecing of the center mariners compass that is going to be pretty small.  Yes, this will be a REAL challenge.  Stay tuned.



Sunday, August 11, 2013

Taking a Machine Break


It's early Sunday morning.  The husband is still asleep.  The house is quiet except for Spanish guitar music I have playing through my iPod (using the Spotify app - love it...) And I'm sitting on the couch with a toasty warm throw over me.  My intention when I rolled out of bed this morning was to put the binding on the Knickers quilt. But quite frankly I'm feeling over that quilt.  It's been beyond challenging ever since the project started and right now I just want it over with.  Anyway after walking into my sewing room, I just couldn't get my head into tackling that nightmare again so I headed to the couch.  

Last night while watching TV I worked on my Hands All Around project.  


I love hand piecing.  It's so relaxing.  My sewing machines are wonderful and I don't think I could live without them, but sitting at any of my sewing machines has never felt like a relaxing endeavour for me. When I want to unwind and put my feet up, hand piecing is the go.  That's when I can get lost in my thoughts as I slide the needle silently through fabric.  And so here I sit relaxing in my textile cocoon.  

I've had a few people ask me how to hand piece so I'm thinking of doing a video to post to either YouTube or here on my blog demonstrating a few methods I use.  It's not rocket science, but for someone who has never worked quilting blocks this way before, it is different.  Probably doing the demonstration using the block I'm presently working on would be ideal as this block encompasses both curved piecing and Y seams.  I'll give it some more thought before I put my face and hands into video-land.  And I would have to convince the hubby to play director and videographer as well.  As if he's not already completely over everything quilt related!

Speaking of quilt related.....today I'm going to High Tea with members of my quilt group Running with Scissors.  It's become somewhat of a tradition that every year or two one of us arranges a high tea at a fancy restaurant.  This year was my turn and I booked us into the ballroom at The Pagoda restaurant in Como.  I've heard good things about their high tea so expect yummy nibbles and excellent champagne.   I have such a hard quilting life......LOL



Thursday, August 8, 2013

What NOT to do to your sewing machine

A pin sticking into my machine.  Not good



The same pin after I pulled it out
 This is a lesson in what NOT to do to your very expensive, sweet sewing machine.  What you see in the photo's above is a pin that has lodged itself into the mechanism of my machine.  It happened because I was in a rush to put seams in a very difficult area and used a mega amount of pins (long, sharp pins....) to hold things in place.  Well, one of the pins under my project wedged itself into the machine as I sewed away none the wiser.  That is until all these bells and alarms and red lights went off on my machine and the digital screen said 'stopped to avoid danger'.  Geez!

Look at all that lint!!
I stopped of course and turned all the power off.  Once I removed the fabric from under the needle I saw what was left of the pin sticking straight out.  Off I went to my husbands workshop to get pliers to do some sewing machine surgery.  I was horrified when I removed the throat plate to see tons and tons of lint.  I'm amazed my machine worked so well with almost a full carpet of fibers wrapped everywhere in its guts.  I brushed what I could out and then used tweezers to remove the clumps still deep within.
    
Much tidier after the mountain of lint was removed

I had all my fingers and toes crossed that I hadn't done serious damage to my electronic baby.  After putting all the bits back together I held my breath and stitched a few test pieces.  To my utter amazement the stitching was beautiful.  I then tried my automatic thread cutter and at first, though it worked, it cut the thread either too short on top (which caused the needle to unthread) or the mechanism was too ruff causing the problem.  It cut the thread both top and bottom like it was suppose to but I had to rethread the needle each time.  I decided I needed a break away from the machine.  I called a girlfriend and we went to our favorite quilt shop for retail therapy. 

I came home refreshed and decided to take another look at my Janome. I cleaned her again and gave the thread cutting another go.  Amazingly she worked just fine!  I have to say I have nothing but good things to report when it comes to Janome sewing machines.  I have yet to buy a Janome that has ever died on me (any time I purchased another one it was to upgrade, not because my old one failed).  It has been a steady excellent performer and I highly recommend a Janome to any sewer.  I know when I'm ready to upgrade to a newer machine, it's going to be a Janome (the new Horizon is really making my mouth water whenever I see it....).

OK, I need to jump back into finishing that Show Us Your Knickers charity quilt so I can start my challenging Love Entwined quilt project.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Color Challenged


I hate to admit it but I'm color challenged when it comes to quilting.

Perhaps because I learned to quilt from my grandmother and she was a great proponent of scrap quilts.  You make beauty from what you have on hand.  And she did.  Her quilts were colorful, yet very tempered and artful in their presentation.  They didn't look like she just pulled any ol' scrap from the heap - because she didn't.  She had a great knack for seeing line and pattern using a multitude of colors to enhance the overall beauty of a piece.  None of her finished quilts looked like an unruly mess.  Somehow, I didn't get that gene.

When I do a quilt my very first stumbling block is always picking the colors.  I envy quilters who find this part of the quilting process joy because for me it's a headache.  It seems I fall back on what I know - scraps are good, you can never go wrong with red, white and blue, and two color quilts don't go out of style.  That's it.  That's the extent of my quilting color repertoire. 

I've tried learning a bit from a color wheel, but in all honestly I don't quite get that either.  I must be thick.

So, I want to start the Love Entwined quilt but I'm having problems picking my fabrics.  I'm thinking dark blue, grey, yellow and some green.  Does this sound icky?  (icky is a technical term....)


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Courtesy Matters

 
When I was a kid one of the first things my parents taught me when I was old enough to understand such things, was that being courteous and polite to others was tremendously important and always expected of their children.  That this social convention cost nothing to give but was worth more than money to receive.  And that being a generous and gracious person to others was the ultimate kindness and sign of good breeding.  Now as an adult I am so grateful to them for installing this very basic of social graces in me.  It's a shame not all people where taught this, or forgot it, along the way to adulthood.

Where am I leading with this post?  I suppose the subject of politeness has been on my mind as I experience the lack of it first hand in my dealings with others.  It amazes me how what seem to be otherwise educated, articulate and perfectly agreeable individuals appear blind to their own lack of courtesy and thoughtfulness to others.  This has come specifically to light in my dealings within a specific social group. 

It takes so little effort to say thank you.  To acknowledge appreciation for the hard work others do for the good of the group as a whole.  It takes no time and little effort to be polite enough to publicly show appreciation for work well done.  I feel this is an especially significant act when you are the figurehead of a group.  I know some people may see this as a small matter and in a way it is.  But its the small gestures I find that are most telling of a persons character.  

So the moral of this story is to remember what your parents taught you as a child.  Be generous with kind words when they are warranted and deserved, as it costs nothing yet means a great deal.

So end-th the lesson.  I'll climb down off my soapbox now.

 

  


Monday, August 5, 2013

Stella is on Vacation

My 1953 Singer named Stella
My poor Stella is on the fritz.  Her stitching has become uneven and I can't seem to get the tension right on the top.  She's a vintage machine (1953) so I realize she needs a bit more TLC then a new model.  So, Stella, as my main sewing machine, is on vacation.  I'll take her to the sewing machine hospital for a tune-up shortly.  She hasn't had any work done on her for well over 5 years and that's not so bad for a machine that's 60 years old.  I should be so lucky when I reach that age.

Until Stella is back in tip-top shape I've put my Janome 6600P back on my sewing table to use.  This machine has been sitting idol since my husband started building my machine quilting frame (as this is going to be the one I use on it because it has the longest arm).  Since my wonderful hubby has only been sporactically working on my frame lately, I thought I should put the Janome back into service.  The one advantage to using the 6600P is she's fast - really fast.  And as I'm planning to work on some clothing construction soon as well as quilting, she'll be really useful for all the niffy modern stuff she does.  Plus I just love the knee lifter she has.  I wish my vintage machines had this capability.

My Janome with no name



Friday, August 2, 2013

No! Not Another Quilt to Make!

I believe I have fallen down the rabbit hole of quilts I want to make.  I discovered through a wonderful Facebook quilting page for hand quilters and piecers that I'm a member of, this absolutely AMAZING and FREE BoM called Love Entwined.  

Representation of the completed quilt
Centre panel 
The quilt artist who designed this stunning quilt is Esther Alieu (http://estheraliu.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/introducing-love-entwined-1790-marriage.html) and she created this appliqué work based on the 1700 original coverlet.  I'm in awe.  Not only of the stunning quilt that this will make but that it is being offered as a free BoM through her Yahoo Group (the free aspect is restricted to monthly postings.  Meaning as a member of her Yahoo Group you may download the free PDF for one month only.  How this works is when she posts instructions for the next month, the previous month is removed.  Fear not however if you missed a month!  You can purchase any month you may have missed through her website).  
Original coverlet circa 1700
I'm feeling drawn to this project even though I have SO many others that are in various stages of completion.  I would absolutely KICK myself if I let this project pass me by.  

Actually this may be the perfect time for me to start such an intense yet contemplative quilt.  I've busied myself over the last year with extraneous quilt issues and in the process have not paid a great deal of attention to completing a quilt.  I've finished a few tops and they have been satisfying, but they haven't been contemplating.  How do I explain the difference?  The tops I have finished are modern in style.  I truly love them but they were created using machines and quick piecing techniques.  When I make a quilt that I feel is contemplative (defined as:  the act of thoughtful observation; full or deep consideration; reflection)  my construction technique is always through hand piecing.  Piecing by hand for me adds a level of intimacy with fabric I can't achieve by using a machine.  When working with textiles by hand I 'live' with the fabric in a whole other way that, for me, forms an emotional attachment to the project I've never archived when I've created a machine worked quilt.  And also my brain connects differently to a contemplative quilt reflecting a more traditional aesthetic than with a modern one.  Modern quilts are fresh and crisp and fabric print focused.  I find a more traditionally concentrated quilts to lend themselves to a visual feast as a whole with the fabrics used adding to the overall look instead of taking centre stage.  

So, of course I've signed up through the Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/estheraliubom/).  How can I not?



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quilting in Cyberspace




I think quilting in the modern day is pretty amazing.  This of course isn't really a new concept as on-line quilting bees and exchange of ideas between quilters through the Internet has been going on now with regularity for the past 4-5 years.  Even so I still find myself in awe at times at with the many avenues of electronic ways we quilters have at our disposal to keep connected.  Web pages, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram....wow.  With all this virtual quilting going on how do we find the time to actually sew a stitch?  I'm not complaining of course.  I think it's amazing and I love it.

I love it so much as a matter of fact that this week I've been working on establishing a Facebook page for my long standing quilt group.  We've been together for at least 10 years but only recently have all our members joined Facebook.  Now that we're all on social media I thought it time we have a page to share stuff electronically among ourselves (even though we meet every other week in the flesh).  Having a Facebook page takes our quilting group to the next level and gives us an electronic footprint in the world.  It seems like the grown up thing to do.     

How many of you out there belong to quilting groups that have a Facebook page?  Do you find it helpful?  Do you feel it adds value to your groups dynamics or is it just a fad?  I'd love to hear your opinions on this.