Archive for the ‘Machine Quilting’ Category

a video of me quilting and progress on the Peony

Monday, August 29th, 2016

So over on Facebook I’ve posted some  photos of my current project, a hugely oversized peony…well, part of a peony.  I decided I’d try a quick video posted via youtube so show me actually quilting.   Along the way, I added a quick visit to my studio.   The studio is sort of “midway messy,” true to life.  I have a couple things piled on the floor that are: find time to sort and put away, try to get rid of in some way, and prepping for teaching in Houston piles.  When I’ve found time (usually after just barely meeting a deadline), I have a tidy attack.  Mid project it is utter chaos.  This is in the middle. And apologies for the overly loud and enthusiastic hello at the start.  Learning.  I’m learning…..ps:  if the video doesn’t display at first, hit refresh on your browser.
On the video, I mentioned how I select threads in a value range.  The reason the light ones are in the box and the dark ones to the side is that I have used the dark ones.  When done, I put them aside so I know what I’ve used.  I keep them in the order in which I used them, which helps if I need to go back and do more in a certain shade.

I had clamps by my Janome for working on larger projects, but hadn’t set up hooks from the floor joists (my ceiling) near the Sweet Sixteen until yesterday.  WHAT an improvement!!!!!!! I’ve been using dyed-by-me cotton duck on the backs, and let me tell you the quilts have been HEAVY.   So that’s why there is a blue-handled clamp visible.  I didn’t use the one on the right because of where I had the phone set up to film.

If you like this, let me know and maybe I can do some more videos of me just quilting.  And yes, I sound like a dolt when I try to narrate while quilting–I can’t concentrate on the quilting and manage to talk in a normal rhythm at the same time.

Working on the lighter petals on the big peony quilt. It will finish about 45x55 I think.....depends on how much I trim off and/or turn to the back.

Working on the lighter petals on the big peony quilt. It will finish about 45×55 I think…..depends on how much I trim off and/or turn to the back. You can see both of the hanging clamps in this photo, as well as the photo of the peony clipped to the left side of the thread stand on the machine.

IMG_0009

Detail of laying in the darkest-on-this-petal pink.

 

Showing the clamp on the right in use

Showing the clamp on the right in use.  Some folks have started using those dog-grooming things that you clamp onto the table and attach the dog with a short leash for grooming, but substitute a clamp.   That idea became common AFTER I set things up over at the Janome; since I have bare (primed) joists and sub-flooring for a ceiling, I opted for the much less expensive hook in the joist!

Teaching at Int’l Quilt Festival Houston 2016

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Can you tell it’s been busy?  Whenever I disappear, that means so much life is happening I don’t have time to blog.  I’ll try to catch up a little bit at the time.  First things first…the catalog is out for classes at International Quilt Festival in Houston!!!!! Here’s my very busy line up!

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 4.39.58 PM

Houston has revamped the catalog a little bit. There are now (yeah!) pictures in the catalog (not just online) and there are weblinks so you can go to my website for the FULL supply list and handouts.   To shorten the process, if any of the above look good to you, you can go to my class listings page here for info about my classes.  Each description has a hotlink to the pdf Supply list.  If I have blogged about a class, that also is in the description.  You can also find all my supply lists in one place on my Resources page.  If you click on “Resources,” Look at the jump links at the top.  Click on Class Supply Lists and it will jump you down the page (instead of having to scroll down).

I’m thrilled to be so busy and hope to meet many of you.   I will do a separate blogpost to go live in a couple days about The Nest, a new and totally fun half-day (or full day if a guild wants a full day) class, and my fairly new Easy Peasy bag class.   Can’t wait!

 

Descended From the Stars, Part 3

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
The sun in the center of Descended From the Stars

The sun in the center of Descended From the Stars

When I left on in my last post about this quilt, I had shared the dyeing process and the stones and lettering.   Next, I fused trees in the four seasons into the corners.  I distorted the shape so the tree canopy served as a frame.  I had thought initially I might need an inner border, perhaps couched yarn or stitching of some sort, but the shape of the tree worked so well I didn’t need anything extra.   As I did with the stones, I cut out leaves, LOTS of leaves, separating the colors into the ice cube tray so I could place them carefully.

Detail, upper left corner, Spring Tree of Life.

Detail, upper left corner, Spring Tree of Life.  Each of the leaves is free-motion stitched with several rounds of thread on each leaf.  The nice part about doing this at the top stage is that I could use the scissors on my Janome 15000.  I didn’t have to bury thread tails!

Detail, top right, Summer Tree of Life.

Detail, top right, Summer Tree of Life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

I did the stitching around the stones and on the trees, including the leaves, at the top stage with stabilizer underneath.  (See my post here to learn more about my current article for Machine Quilting Unlimited on the Fourth Layer–stabilizer– for densely thread painted quilts.)  I removed the stabilizer everywhere except for under the center because I knew I would want to quilt that area more densely than the rest of the quilt.

Here

Here I have begun quilting.  You can see the custom-dyed cotton duck on the back.  The use of heavier cloth helps keep the quilt flat and stable; it also helps minimize shrinkage.  The final piece had to be 40 x 40 inches, and I wanted to have a balanced amount of blue on both sides of the lettering, so I needed to control the shrinkage that happens with dense quilting.

Next,

asdfa

Superior Threads (Thank you Bob and Heather Purcell!) has come out with some tone-on-tone variegated threads.   I have been pestering Bob for YEARS to make threads like these as I prefer blendy to contrasty.  I ordered up all of the new earth-tone blendy variegateds in the Fantastico line and used them.  I began with a light green blend in the first row around the sun, switched to another in the next to rings, and then a third in the fourth ring that you see here.  If you look at the left, you can see how I snuck some of the current thread color into the next ring to get even more color blending.

Then, I had to decide what threads to use in the dark areas.  My sewing tables (two back to back) are each 24 inches, so I have a nice, HUGE flat surface to support the quilt as I work.

asdf

Choosing thread:  dark, pine-y green and deep blue.

With all the manipulation, I realized that some of the ink had rubbed off, despite being REALLY careful to heat set it according to directions.  I wrote immediately to friends Judy Coates Perez and Susan Brubaker Knapp to seek guidance.  Judy had only used the regular colors, not the metallics.  And Susan had an article in the just-out issue of Quilting Arts about lettering, including these inks!  She too discovered that the metallics seem to “shed” a bit.

After quiting, some of the bling had rubbed off my quilt, so I had to do it AGAIN!

After quiting, some of the bling had rubbed off my quilt, so I had to do it AGAIN!  You can see where I have inked over the letters and what is left to re-do.

After re-inking and heat setting, I tested on my scrap cloth several products to seal the ink including GAC 900 (a textile medium that one adds to paint), a UV Coating, matte gel medium, and Krylon Spray Fixative which says it is acid-free, archival and safe on fabric.  Only the Krylon didn’t leave tell-tale signs that it had been used.  So I carefully masked off the rest of the quilt, leaving only the lettering area exposed and sprayed the Krylon on it (stinky!) in hopes that will help prevent the mica flakes in the gold ink from coming off.

I was nearly done, except that I didn’t really care for the multiple layers of thread I had used stitching the sun.  Picking it out did NOT appeal to me.  So I trekked down to Clementine fabrics in Rockland and bought some perle cotton in the right color.

I wasn't happy with the way the stitching looked, so I couched perle cotton on top of the outline of the sun.  MUCH better!  You can see the difference in this half-way-through shot.

I wasn’t happy with the way the stitching looked, so I couched perle cotton on top of the outline of the sun. MUCH better! You can see the difference in this half-way-through shot.

At last, it was nearly DONE!  Time for facings, sleeve and label.

The back side of the quilt.  By dyeing the back to correspond with the front, the quilting design shows up on the back as it does on the front.

The back side of the quilt. By dyeing the back to correspond with the front, the quilting design shows up on the back as it does on the front.

And I couldn’t resist the temptation to place a moon behind the sun as my label.  One more time with the dip pen!

The End--the label is on, the sleeve is done, the facings are stitched!

The End–the label is on, the sleeve is done, the facings are stitched!

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

This quilt will be for sale–another reason I opted to not include a lot of personal details in the quilt.   As I said before, I am happy!

Insalata in Australia!

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Thanks to Bill Reker, the Traveling Exhibit Coordinator, for forwarding these images of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) exhibit Food for Thought on display in Australia, and thanks to the person who sent him the pictures.  The exhibit was on display in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  The AQC, Australian Quilt Convention (Conference?) is held in a building of breathtaking beauty.  I’ve decided that whenever I finally in this life ever get to Australia, I have to go during AQC just so I can see this building!

My "tomatoes" quilt, Insalata, on display at the AQC.  LOVE that it is facing the center in a prime spot, and love the black walls on which the works are displayed.

My “tomatoes” quilt, Insalata, on display at the AQC. LOVE that it is facing the center in a prime spot, and love the black walls on which the works are displayed.

Here’s another shot of the overall exhibit:

Don't you just want to BE in this space?  Insalata and other works in the Food for Thought exhibit are visible at the far end.

Don’t you just want to BE in this space? Insalata and other works in the Food for Thought exhibit are visible at the far end.

And one more…some day I really must get to Australia and New Zealand!

The best shots, for me, of my quilts when traveling are "neighborhood" shots--not just *my* quilt, since I already know what it looks like, but ones that show the context.  Even better, when someone likes my work enough to get up and look at it closely--like the lady taking a detail photo!  Woot!

The best shots, for me, of my quilts when traveling are “neighborhood” shots–not just *my* quilt, since I already know what it looks like, but ones that show the context. Even better, when someone likes my work enough to get up and look at it closely–like the lady taking a detail photo! Woot!

Milkweed No. 2 is headed to Australia

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

I’m delighted to share that my most recent art quilt, Milkweed No. 2, has been selected to be in Brenda Gael Smith’s current exhibit, A Matter of Time, and is en route to Australia!  Brenda is giving us all sneak peeks at the artworks in her blogpost series called “Just a Moment”  here.

Milkweed No. 2 has been juried into A Matter of Time and will be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly points beyond in the coming two years. I'm thrilled---just wish I could fit inside the envelope and travel with it!

Milkweed No. 2 has been juried into A Matter of Time and will be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly points beyond in the coming two years. I’m thrilled—just wish I could fit inside the envelope and travel with it!  Click to view a little larger.

Apparently I mostly forgot to take in progress photos (!!!) while I was making Milkweed No. 2, so I will share one or two in progress shots from the making off Milkweed No. 1 (which I have not yet shared in public…stay tuned for that in a few weeks) in this and in a second post about my process.

As usual, I began with an idea (more like an obsession with milkweed pods) and dyeing fabric.  I had plenty of batiks and some of my own hand-dyes but needed more for the sky.  I decided to dye some cotton duck for the backing, as well.

Backing and sky fabrics I dyed specifically for my two Milkweed quilts.

Backing and sky fabrics I dyed specifically for my two Milkweed quilts.

I use the cotton duck as a stabilizer.  It helps reduce shrinkage and the artwork hangs beautifully, although it isn’t as easy to handle under the needle as a lightweight fabric.  It is worth the trade-off!  I wrote an article about my process for Machine Quilting Unlimited and blogged about that here.

The top side of the cotton, is on the left. The right side shows where the dye pooled on the bottom (cloth was dyed flat on a surface).

The top side of the cotton, is on the left. The right side shows where the dye pooled on the bottom (cloth was dyed flat on a surface).

Next, using Mistyfuse (by far the softest hand, easiest to use, never “ages out”) adhesive / fusible web, I prepare my fabrics for collaging.  My video workshop (here on my site and available as a download here from Interweave) shows this part of the process, plus a lot more.  Anyway, I use my “stash” of fused pieces, but always end up adding more bits for a given piece.

Sorry about the shadow on the left---here I've got fabrics out for fusing and am sorting them into colors using carry-out dish lids (that I've been using for at least the past 7 years! that restaurant has been out of business for eons)

Sorry about the shadow on the left—here I’ve got fabrics out for fusing and am sorting them into colors using carry-out dish lids (that I’ve been using for at least the past 7 years! that restaurant has been out of business for eons)

Next, I start the fusing process.  In this shot, I’m working on the sky for Milkweed No. 1 (larger, landscape orientation), but I used exactly the same process on this piece.

Working on the sun-glow in the sky. This is totally a collage process. I tend to cut chunks to go into the various trays, then use as is or submit while collaging.

Working on the sun-glow in the sky. This is totally a collage process. I tend to cut chunks to go into the various trays, then use as is or submit while collaging.  The drawing you see is a piece of paper underneath my non-stick ginormous press sheet with my sketch.  I ordered this one from Valerie Hearder in Canada, but Mistyfuse now sells the Holy Cow Goddess sheet which is 36×48 inches.   Really helps with my process–I just cover the entire “big board” and get to work.

I then did a bit of surface design including stenciling and screen-printing using thermofax screens (details in my next post).  Finally, I quilted my piece.  Aren’t the colors just glorious?  And yes, bright purple works in a seed pod!

Quilting on one of the milkweed pods, using variegated thread from Superior Threads.

Quilting on one of the milkweed pods, using variegated thread from Superior Threads.

A second detail shot that shows some of the sky--I just love those days where there is a bright glowing spot in the sky where the sun is behind the clouds.

A second detail shot that shows some of the sky–I just love those days where there is a bright glowing spot in the sky where the sun is behind the clouds.

I’ll be back in a few days with more on the processes using paint!   Remember, visit A Matter of Time here and the “Just a Moment” previews blogposts about the various artists and artworks here.