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Archive for the ‘art quilting’ Category

Canticle of the Stars

Monday, May 11th, 2020
Canticle of the Stars, or should I call it Anthem of Light? Chime in!
Completed May 2020, 36 tall x 46.5 wide.

There is a thing called star trails photography (just google it…it’s really cool). The earth rotates on its axis. The North Star is static in our northern skies. If you take time lapse photos and then “stack” (merge) them, you get star trails….images that describe the lines created by the light of the stars. Did you know that starlight comes in different colors??? It does… I love the feeling of the vastness of space. When I went to college, I comforted myself knowing that my then-boyfriend and I could both look up at the constellation Orion in the sky even though we would be 3000 miles apart. I love wondering what is out there, and feeling snug and at home in my own world. The universe is Out There and it is Within Us. I love the resulting art quilt. While trying to figure out the title (star trails was too boring), I wrote a poem to go with this quilt:

As many of you know by now, I was selected to be a Michael Miller Brand Ambassador this year. At the start (last December) we received a box STUFFED with goodies (post here). I decided to challenge myself, using items ONLY from this box to make an art quilt in my style, but using fabrics that are totally not in my usual wheel house: commercial solids, prints, and bling. I love the result…in trying to figure out the title (star trails was too boring), I wrote a poem above. Help me decide should the title be Canticle of the Stars? or Anthem of Light? Leave comments and thoughts!

So, how do you make an image that is DARK work successfully as an artwork? In this case, the answer is a lot of quilting with light thread in seven shades from pink to peach to green to blues! Here are the fabrics I used:

The quilt is under the fabrics, with the top visible in the upper half and the backing below. The Michael Miller Fabrics are from left to right: Michael Miller Krystal in Aubergine 1278, Wine 2248, Coal 1302 and 1257 Evergreen. Fairy Frost in Black. Cotton Couture SC5333 in Midnite and Ink. Marble CX1087 in Stone, graphite (or onyx) and night (I think on the denim blue). Michael Miller Jet Black which is part of the Cotton Couture line. I overdyed the green with a navy dye to use as the backing.

The quilting was done entirely on my Janome M7 Continental. The sky was done with the walking foot and the trees was free-motion quilted. It has been eons since I did walking foot quilting…I may do more of it soon! And the threads I used:

It is VERY rare for me to use a walking foot for quilting, but for the sky on this one I did. I used the dark blue So Fine to help hold down the Mistyfused pieces (cut curved, but on the bias so I could adapt their arc) and solid black (I can’t remember if it was the Mettler or So Fine) for the treelike silhouette. The six colors are the star trails in the sky. I used both regular straight stitch and the triple-straight stitch with the walking foot.
Detail, Canticle of the Stars. The edges of the print fabrics are definitely rougher than I am used to with the batiks and hand-dyes I use due to the different thread count, but I think they work because the light edges become another star trail.
And a very close up of the raw edges, some wool lint (sigh…do you know how many times I vacuumed and lint roller this quilt??????) from my pressing surface, and the quilting. The pale green turned into that creamy yellow color when quilted. It’s amazing what thread will do!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey to the stars, and back to home on Earth.

Busy during Lockdown!

Monday, April 27th, 2020

I’ll be teaching at the Mancuso quilt shows later this year and next! They asked teachers to do a brief 1-minute video. To no one’s surprise, my first attempt ran long…at least it was only 3 minutes and not 10 LOL! But I decided to upload the longer version here. I hope you’ll enjoy this peek at what I’ve been doing and maybe take a workshop with me at one of the Mancuso shows–I’ll be in Massachusetts in August of 2020–or at International Quilt Festival Houston in Fall.

Irons: from tiny to dragon!

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

For a while now I’ve wanted to blog about irons, and why I love the ones I have. Yes, plural…..I have SIX! Three are “small” size, two are regular, and one is Sirius the Black Dragon. Yes, my Janome M7 sewing machine is named Albus (the second, he had a predecessor named Albus). There’s even a video at the end of this post about all these irons!

From left to right: the CHI, my beloved Panasonic Titanium Nonstick, the little mushroom style, the (SOB no longer made SOB) Clover, and Sirius, a LauraStar steam generator. I have a sixth sorta small iron, but it is too heavy/awkward for my hands and was upstairs for use steaming in the closet–not that I’ve actually ever used it for that. Sigh.

The Panasonic is my go-to iron for fusing. At 1200 watts, it gets hot and has acceptable steam, although I almost always use it as a dry iron. I love this iron so much I wore the finish off my last one! I always have one that is my working iron, and a brand new spare in the closet in case the cats or I knock it off the ironing board one time too many (studio is in the basement, cement floor…not good for falling objects). I can LITERALLY place this on Mistyfuse or other fusible web, melt it all over the bottom of the iron and WIPE IT CLEAN. No more hot iron cleaner fumes (which cannot be good to inhale–they set off smoke detectors)! For the price of four tubes of iron cleaner, you’re golden. This link takes you to the one I am currently using–I like that it has auto off because I am easily distracted. As of April 2020, it is a whopping US $27. Even if you only use it for fusing, it’s worth it!

I fuse on top of my ironing surface, but also on the design wall. Holding the iron (which is relatively light) had gotten uncomfortable because I have arthritis in my thumbs and wrists. So I tried the little mushroom iron, the ones you see in classrooms and at retreats–many folks can plug them in and not blow the fuses. It is quite comfortable to hold when used on a flat surface, but on the design wall it requires you to bend your wrist, and that hurts for me.

Here I am holding the iron on the design wall, and I have to bend at the wrist which causes discomfort. That’s why I really prefer the…SOB….not longer available Clover iron. Yeah, I’m sorry, I know that doesn’t help you very much. I haven’t included a link for the little mushroom style irons…there are a bazillion available on Amazon, at quilt shops and so on. From what I can tell they are fairly similar.
The Clover iron is ideal for the design wall. The “mug” handle rests on my fingers, and I can see my hand and forearm in a single line–as if I were wearing a brace. That means I can tap it onto the design wall as I work with no pain at all. I don’t know if there are any models similar to this style out there….If ANYONE KNOWS OF SOMETHING SIMILAR, please TELL ME! I’d love to test one out and see if I can recommend it to my students. And if anyone knows someone at Clover that we can all write and beg them to make this again, tell me that, too!
The 1200 watt Panasonic Titanium non-stick iron is on the left, the CHI 1700 watt is on the right, and that glorious fabric is Meadow color of HashDot by Michael Miller Fabrics.

For years I have recommended the Panasonic Titanium nonstick iron to students–Panasonic should give me free irons for life I’ve sold so many for them LOL! But I had (note the past tense) suggested that the gold-ish colored titanium appears to be the key. Not so much. First, my “in the closet” iron-in-waiting is a Panasonic Titanium ordered earlier this year, but is now a silvery color instead of gold-ish, but still works the same. Second, not all Titanium non stick is the same. I decided to give the CHI Titanium Ceramic, below, a try. It costs more, about $59, and has 1700 watts so lots of heat and power and good steam. It’s great for steam ironing, but not so great at the non-stick–it really doesn’t wipe clean the way the Panasonic does. Here’s what happened:

I needed to (yuk) get out the hot iron cleaner. This surface just doesn’t wipe clean well. I use Faultless Iron Off hot iron cleaner on a soft white terry towel. And look what happened: I rubbed off the finish on the gunky edge!!!!!! It’s still a good iron, and I use it, but not for fusing. It has quite a large capacity water reservoir which is good in principle, but again that pesky arthritis poses a problem: it’s heavy. That’s where Sirius the Dragon comes in. Keep reading. ANYway, if you don’t use fusibles (or even if you do) this is a good, hot iron with good steam.
The LauraStar steam generator is a grand indulgence! Please be sure you are sitting down when you see the price on this black beauty…they are expensive. But OH MY! I had been lusting after a steam generator for a long time, but (to repeat myself in a short space) they are expensive. And this is on the expensive end of expensive. But I’m sure glad I indulged–nothing beats a great tool.

The model I purchased is the same as this one (minus the soleplate cleaner, which I wish I had). The steam is IMPRESSIVE…literally, it sends out a jet about six feet….watch the video below! It comes with a cord stand (which I don’t point out in the video. There is the power cord and, wrapped in cloth, the line that powers the iron and brings the steam to it. Unlike a regular steam iron that produces steam constantly (if you set it to do so), you need to push the button, but that is easy to do given the location on the handle.

The steam cord is a bit stiff, which is why having the clamp-on cord guide is so helpful. You also get a silicone mat so you don’t have to tip the iron on end, just set it on top of the mat. That is comfortable for my arthritis. So is the light weight of the actual iron. AND you can steam things that hang, like curtains and garments!

When I have a lot of ironing (like yards of dyed fabric, or just washed fabric), the steam generator is a DREAM. Also excellent when doing a final fusing of the finished art quilt top and when blocking a quilt. Many steam generators if the tank runs dry, you have to turn it off, wait for it to cool, then add water. Not so this one–just open the lid to the easily accessed tank and add water (shown in video). BINGO! WINNER! Just be sure not to send a blast of steam in the direction of your other hand. Guess you don’t need to ask why I advise you of that. Ahem. Only did it once! If you are also a garment maker, you’ll love this. I will grant you, it is *expensive.* But in my case, worth it.

Bottom line: I use the Panasonic for all fusing. For smaller ironing jobs, I use the CHI. For working on the design wall, I use the Clover. And when I need STEAM or have a lot of ironing to do, the LauraStar. So there you have it…why I ned at least FOUR irons! What are your favorites, and why?

Mastering Metallics

Thursday, April 9th, 2020
Mastering Metallics is a half day workshop which will teach students to use metallic in both the needle and the bobbin. The workshop will debut at International Quilt Festival in Fall 2020, and is the half-day version of my Tame Fussy Fiddly Threads class. The class is Wednesday afternoon. Fly in Tuesday, join me in the Machine Quilting Forum (there are TWO this year!) Wednesday morning, then come take this workshop with me on Wednesday afternoon. We will finish up just in time to get to Preview Night at 5!

Ta DAAAA! A month or so ago, I asked for input from folks on Facebook about which color to make my project for my new Mastering Metallics workshop. Folks liked pretty much all THREE versions. I ordered up samples from Spoonflower:

Here’s the rather spendy order testing all three color ways and three fabrics: Petal Cotton (the basic), Cotton Poplin and Organic Cotton Sateen. Left to right colors are blue, sky blue and aqua, with the later two being VERY close…the aqua has just a bit more yellow in it.

I am hoping to sell the fabric on Spoonflower later this year–if anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll email you when it is ready. I am planning to offer the blue and aqua (but if someone REALLY wants the sky blue, in the middle above, just ask and I’ll add that also). I need to re-do the master graphic file to be 44″ across rather than 36″ vertically–I will need to add some larger snowflakes so they fit a 12 x 44″ space nicely without getting cut off at a 12″ line. This way, one yard would yield a table runner and four to six placemat tops. The Blue works perfectly with Michael Miller Cotton Couture Sailor, which I will use in class kits for the back and binding.

I ordered a full yard of the Sateen, which is what I used for my Thread-Coloring the Garden workshop which features a photo printed on fabric. I was delighted that the new Cotton Poplin showcased the snowflake design as well as the more expensive sateen, so I’ll use that in the workshop. That also means the table runners will be width-of-fabric, not the shorter 36 inches (I learned the hard way you need to print designs so the lengthwise grain of the fabric is vertical on the photo image with the sateen!).

First I used two of the less expensive 8″ samples to test various threads. The Petal cotton has a coarser weave–not as clunky as Kona Cotton, and the image is nice and crisp. The Cotton Poplin is softer and has a lovely hand to it, so I will choose that for the class kits.
The workshop kit will include Silver metallic (the snowflake being quilted here) and Halo used in the bobbin (upper snowflake). I’m also showing how to use the very heavy Razzle Dazzle on the sample, but to keep kit costs down won’t include it since the class time is just 3 hours. I will have some for sale, and it is of course readily available from Superior Threads. The heavy sateen is gorgeous, but given the cost I’ll use the still very nice poplin for class kits.
Detail of finished tablerunner. The crinkly looking snowflake is the Razzle Dazzle used in the bobbin. The others are done with Silver Metallic or Halo.
The quilting on the back looks awesome if I say so myself. LOVE my Janome M7 Continental! I’ll be teaching in Janome classrooms, so I wanted to fine tune settings to share with class by quilting this on my Janome. I ended up dyeing this fabric to sorta match. Because of the COVID-19 shut downs, I was unable to order the Cotton Couture Sailor (blue) fabric and receive it in time, and I needed to get the sample done quickly for Quilts. Inc to put in the class catalog. Kits will include backing, and I will have some extra if folks want to buy enough to bind the quilt. You can also order — Michael Miller is AMAZING at getting perfect color matching so one can also order the Cotton Couture Sailor to use on the back and bindings without worrying about color matching.
And one end of the table runner after I finished the binding and a little extra how-to tip that I’ll share in class.

I hope some of you will want to join me in class at International Quilt Festival–this pandemic physical-distancing should be well over by then! Sign ups usually go live in July, and I will be sure to share with you my teaching schedule, times, class numbers and so on. In the meantime, if you are interested in purchasing fabric from Spoonflower, let me know! If there is a fair bit of interest I’ll move that to a front burner on the to-do list.

A “Covichat” with Lyric Kinard

Monday, April 6th, 2020
Had such a fun chat with Lyric…this is a screen shot, but I’ll embed the video below, and you can also see it on Lyric’s YouTube channel, Lyric’s blog, and my YouTube channel too.

What FUN! My friend and artist and teacher extraordinare Lyric Kinard has started doing a series of taped video chats with folks in our line of work and art. We chatted last Friday, and the Lyric uploaded the video today. So ENJOY!

In the video I mentioned a bunch of things…things which aren’t on my blog yet! BUT…

Mastering Metallics workshop is described here on my website, where you’ll also find the class supply list (I may need to update that though, so just get a rough idea). It is a half-day class that will debut at International Quilt Festival Houston this coming Fall–sign ups usually start up in July. You’ll learn tons, get a full kit with top, batting, backing and thread so all you need to do is show up. This is the project, a wintry tablerunner. Additional fabric will be available for purchase, and I may make it available on Spoonflower for orders from home. Let me know if there is interest.

I also mentioned some bags and projects fro Michael Miller Fabrics using byAnnie patterns. The first blogpost will go live on April 9th, and there will be another in May. Stay tuned!

And if you liked that floor cushion, the fabric line is Space Pals and Super Fred. You can find the fabrics usually at Fabric.com, but right now things are messed up due to international shipment restrictions and low staffing at workplaces. So when all this stay-at-home is over and quilt shops can get back in business, as your local shop to carry the line.

The PATTERNS are free and available here with even more information on my blog. Go Here (1) and Here (2) for pdf links and lots of great info and detail.

Widgeon loves the cushions!

I’ve already watched Lyric’s interview with Robbi Joy Eklow and look forward to catching up on the chats with Pepper Cory and Thomas Knauer. Thanks for asking, Lyric…it’s always so easy to do these sorts of things when you’re already friends!