Archive for the ‘Machine Quilting’ Category

Speak Up, Speak Out

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Emerging briefly from the production tunnel to share my latest piece which, thankfully, I CAN share despite the fact I’ve entered it in the Threads of Resistance Call for Entries (Deadline in about 2-3 days)!  As many of you who have known me for a while know, I haven’t usually been politically involved or spoken out.  This is, in part, the legacy of being a federal employee, when you were not allowed to be political (there were ways you could do it, but it was such a fuss that it was easier just to NOT).   However, the last election cycle aggravated me so much I began making political posts and comments on Facebook and getting involved.   Even though I didn’t really have the time, when a group of art quilters got together with this exhibit concept and called for entries, I knew I wanted to try to make a piece.

Speak Up, Speak Out © Sarah Ann Smith 2017. Although the Women’s March imagery has become ubiquitous since the March, I decided to proceed with my concept because it was my experience.

It began during one of the debates last autumn (2016).  The then-Republican-candidate (I *refuse* to use his name) kept saying “Make America Great Again,” as if it weren’t great already!   I will be the first to say that we are an imperfect union, this great nation of ours, but that is part of why we are a great nation….or were and must recover from the collective idiocy currently gripping the country.  I started sketching during the debate and came up with two ideas for art quilts, one about Maine, one about our nation.  The latter was to have a border of hands, holding hands, and phrases and words that represented the US, but the center wasn’t yet clear to me.

With my soon-to-be daughter-in-law Ashley G., I traveled to the Women’s March on Washington on an overnight bus (overnight going and returning…LONG nights sitting up!).   I bought a cheap spiral notebook and asked riders on the bus, if they wished, to trace their hands so I could use them as the border in this piece.  Every hand traced is here (one twice, because I needed one more hand to make things fit properly).

At the March, I took many many photos and as the day wore on I knew that being in this sea of humanity, most in some sort of pink hat or cat ears (reference to the-one-who-shall-not-be-named joking that he would grab a woman by the pussy–slimeball! that’s sexual assault you jerk!) I had found my image for the center of the quilt.  The images of women and men marching, protesting peacefully (not a single arrest!), has since become ubiquitous.  So much so that I considered NOT doing this view because it has been seen.  But I decided that since I conceived of the quilt before the march and finalized during the day of the March as the images had barely first been seen on the internet, I decided that since it was also “my” March, I would proceed.

This photo became my starting point–it is the only photo I didn’t take (since I’m in it..someone on the street offered to snap pics for us):

Some of the ladies from the bus. We are on East Capitol Street heading toward the Capitol. Mainers were to wear blaze / hunter’s orange. I’m on the far right standing next to Ashley, who has her orange scarf on, and we’re wearing the hats I made us.  There is an odd aberration in the photo, but so it goes.  I printed this photo on the label.

Usually when you see photos of protest marches, so many of the signs are manufactured, a printed graphic done by someone professional (ish).  What impressed me about this March is that almost all–upwards of 95 percent–of the signs were homemade and many were clever and/or inspiring.   I selected my favorite ones and used them.  One of the signs in the quilt is the actual sign that I made and wore on my jacket during the March.

Left side of the quilt. I loved the sign calling for a return to civility, courtesy, charity and compassion.

In the sky above the marchers, surrounding the capitol dome, I quilted the Preamble to the US Constitution on the left.   Brief signs/slogans are under the hands at the top.  On the right I quilted the First Amendment’s four freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and right to redress the government for grievances (which is what we were doing!  Democracy living and in action!), as well as more slogans and thoughts.

There were three huge signs in the shape of cats, maybe 4 feet tall, so I appropriated one of them to use.

Center left. I LOVED the quote attributed to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (I think I am falling in love with that woman!) and made sure she really did say it before including “Better bitch than mouse” as one of the signs.

By the way, I used Fabrico felt tip pens and Pitt Artist pens (brush and bullet tip) for the signs.

When I graduated from Georgetown University (in DC) in 1979, a t-shirt was popular that said “A woman’s place is in the House, and in the Senate.”  At the time, no woman had been elected (or maybe just one or two…I’m thinking Margaret Chase Smith and Nancy Landon) to the Senate that had not gotten there by taking her late husband’s seat.  It was still common to be told that a woman’s place was in the home and the kitchen, not the office.  Now I’ve said “A Woman’s place is in the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Oval Office!”

Center of the quilt. I was really pleased at how the dome turned out. I used my photo as my guide and sketched out the pattern, cut the shape (as usual I am using Mistyfuse on fabric and raw edge collage; the dome is a rare case of me using a print fabric instead of a batik. The peach-yellow hand on the left is my dyed fabric, the salmon-pink-purple on the right is Laura Wasilowski’s, from a fat quarter from a class I took with her.  The fabrics in the signs are mostly my hand-dyes.

The coat hanger sign is a combination of two such signs that I saw.   I loathe the idea of abortions. But when I was in my 20s, I was a US visa officer.   I was processing the paperwork for a British man’s visa based on his marriage to a US citizen.  When you do that, you need to establish that the marriage is legal and valid, so you need to see if there were any prior marriages and, if so, that they ended legally.  He was a widower.  To break the tedium, I used to look at cause of deaths when these cases came across my desk.  His first wife died of septicemia (blood poisoning) from a self-induced abortion (because it was illegal in the UK at that time). Ever since, I have stood for freedom of choice because there will ALWAYS be women who are that desperate, no matter how awful I or others believe abortion to be.  Moving on…back to the quilt.

Center right. I loved the take on the Don’t Tread on Me flag from revolutionary war times that turned the snake into a uterus and says Don’t Tread On Me (on left, on Laura Wasilowski’s fabric).  The big pink sign with Michelle Obama’s mantra is what I wore at the January 21, 2017 March on Washington.  That’s my DIL Ashley on the left in this photo, me on the right. I modified a sign carried by a Vermonter to read (in the sky writing) One Maine snowflake in a storm.

Center bottom right. A bit sharper photo.  In the bottom left, under the copyright, you can see a “ribbon.”  The center woman I think of as “Everywoman.”  Then there is Ashley (DIL) in braids, and me on the far right.  Ashley’s hand is the purple one at her right shoulder, mine is the blue one next to Ashley, one in from the corner.

Some generous unknown-to-me person who couldn’t go to DC made and gave away these ribbons to those from Maine who marched. It was done in the Mainer’s blaze/hunter orange. That was pretty bright for the front of my quilt, and I didn’t want it to distract from the imagery. So I scanned the ribbon into the computer, then in Photoshop darkened the color so that it would work visually on the front. THANK YOU whoever made these!

Far right. My friend Gail Galloway-Nicholson used to be the Curator for the Supreme Court so is as familiar with Capitol Hill as I am, if not more so from having worked there for a good bit of  her career..  I worked for a US Congressman for two years, and we also lived just two blocks behind the capitol (yes, I got to see our old house).  She asked me to carry her name in my pocket since she couldn’t go to the March. I did, and added the names of more friends (some I’ve only known via the internet and quilty stuff).  Thank you all for being there with me!   I love knowing you and that you wanted to be there in spirit and on the cloth!

So that is all the details, well, most of them, of what went into this quilt.  Don’t know if it will get juried in–I know there is some awesome art being made for this that doesn’t use the ubiquitous image–but I am glad I made it!

And I have decided to get involved volunteering for my Town of Hope, Maine.  I decided that one needs to put your time where your mouth is, and as the saying goes, all politics is local.   Here’s to giving back to my adopted-shoulda-been-born-here home state of Maine!

 

 

 

 

She persisted (ocean quilt) at IQF Chicago

Friday, April 7th, 2017

So if you’re going to International Quilt Festival in Chicago this weekend (2017), please do see my quilts!   Thank you SO MUCH to Becky Navarro, Special Exhibits coordinator for Quilts, Inc. (who put on the shows) for sending me these two photos of “She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea.”

On the right is my newest work, She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea, on display at International Quilt Festival Chicago 2017.

The 45th (!!!) Anniversary of the Quilt Festival is coming up and they will be celebrating with the Sapphire Celebration  from 2019 (45th year) to 2022 (sheesh that sounds almost impossible as a year!).  To learn more about entering, go here and scroll down.  They want traditional, art and modern quilts, size 50 x 50 or larger.  The size is a challenge for art quilters who tend not to work so large, but I was thrilled to have the chance to work so large.  And REALLY glad I have a Bernina Q20 sit-down machine now–the LONG, tall harp makes such a difference in working on such a large piece.

Another view of the two quilts promoting and encouraging entries in the new exhibit.  On the right is my newest work, She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea (c) SarahAnnSmith 2017.   

Quilts Inc. is giving you plenty of notice so put on your creative hats and get to work!

Umbelliferous:  Queen Anne’s Lace No. 1 is also on display in the Patterns exhibit curated by Dinner@8, then will go to her new home with a private collector (I am still stunned and thrilled–thank you!).

Umbelliferous: Queen Anne’s Lace No. 1 by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2016

Now, I need to go to the studio to work on my next piece!

App2Applique by Dianne S. Hire

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Before I moved to Maine, I met Maine quilter Sally Field via the QuiltArt online quilt list; in fact, she is one of the ways we found our way to the Camden and Hope area!  After moving here, she kept telling me about her friend Dianne Hire, who lived maybe half an hour north of me.

Dianne’s Scrolls, on the right, is the quilt I began on this life-changing weekend.  Dianne Hire’s Yellow FraShizzle is on the left, and I have to giggle–I have that same plaid fabric! The book is APP-2-Applique, available here.  Just keep reading!

The second year (or thereabouts–circa 2006) that we were here in Maine, Dianne was scheduled to teach at Paul Smith’s Quilt Camp  in the Adirondacks (New York).  Alas, she injured her back–badly–just a couple days before.  She didn’t want to cancel on the venue and students, but she was on serious pain meds and couldn’t drive.  The quilters network went into overdrive, and to make a hectic 36 hours short, I ended up being able to take a week away from family, drive her to the camp, help her with the heavy lifting and schlepping of stuff (all quilt teachers know how much heavy lifting, literally, is involved!) and in exchange, get to take her classes and stay for free.  I met Dianne, then, for the first time as I went to pick her up to head out to camp.

That weekend was to become life-changing for me:  for the first time, I was on the teacher’s site of a retreat.  I met other quilt teachers and realized hey!  I teach locally now, I can do this.  That weekend is what led to me becoming a national level quilting teacher.   I had never thought of that, but this weekend opened my eyes, I saw a doorway, and off I went!

Fast forward many years:  Dianne’s APP is for Applique became a quilter’s favorite.  But she had (of course she did!) more ideas than could fit in one book.   After life happening (including back surgery) for her, she finally got to  put  more ideas into APP-2-Applique.  The book is so much fun–not only does it have great patterns, quilts by my local peeps (who are of course HER local peeps too), but it teaches you how to make your own designs, too.  Way cool!

APP 2 Applique by Dianne S. Hire–use the patterns or learn to design your own.

Dianne’s first class that weekend was the designs that became this book, and I was having so much fun, I just kept working on my quilt in her next classes.  And I have to say, it is a testament to Dianne’s goodness that despite the incredible pain (even with major pain killers) that she was unfailingly polite, gracious and kind to one and all that weekend.  Utterly amazing!

In the section on the Scrolls pattern, Dianne talks about selecting fabrics to make the scrollwork pop, how to prepare the pattern to get two blocks for the effort of one, and more.

And Dianne includes quilts by others to give you an idea of the many ways this design can be interpreted.

One of my favorite of Dianne’s quilts in this book is this colorful beauty!  Diane’s work is full of joyful color.

So I thank Dianne, for her friendship, for including my quilts in her books, for teaching, for showing me the way.  When the books arrived at her house, she called us all up and we ended up (a bunch of us published in the book) going to Dianne’s house for tea and signing the books–like autographing yearbooks.  I treasure being in this book with my friends!   Thank you, Dianne, for all you have done for me and shared with me.

Dianne’s Scrolls © Sarah Ann Smith. Published in APP-2-Applique by Dianne Hire.

 

Birdie Bernina takes her first drive….

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Imagine that…working on a quilt, and not an art quilt! AND it’s a UFO! Here I’m trying out various design options.

We moved to Maine in 2004.   This top pre-dates that move by at least a year–I made it as a local quilt group mystery quilt (design by Debbie Caffrey but don’t remember the name).  I only made four blocks, made it into a small top, and it has sat in a basket mocking me lo these many years.

Fast forward:  I SPLURGED.  I ***seriously*** splurged.  I bought a Bernina Q20 sit down.  Yes, it costs as much as a nice used car.   And Oh. My. Yes. it is worth it…what a DREAM!  I figured you only live once, quilting is my favorite thing, so I’m gonna just go for it.   And yes, I am beyond grateful that I have been able to earn enough by writing, teaching and selling my art quilts to be able to afford this indulgence!  To each and every person who has ever read an article or my book, watched my DVD, or taken a class or bought an artwork, THANK YOU!

But that means  need to learn to use it and not be a tad intimidated.  Light Bulb Moment!!! Take those two UFO mystery quilts (yep, there’s another larger one) and use them to test-drive the new Bernina, named Birdie because of the beautiful bird’s eye maple cabinet (yes, I splurged a little more and upgraded to the cabinet…pics below).  So I got the somewhat soiled, tired, not particularly well pieced tops out, ironed them, and decided to go for it.

You can see some of my quilting design. I planned to do some straight line work with a ruler and ruler foot in the green. I wanted to do more ruler work and curved cross hatching in the white spaces. And since I’m adept at free-motion, some of that using a leaf motif from the navy print in the corners and small squares. I’m not positive yet what I’ll do in the navy floral, but may just use navy and outline the flowers.

Here I’ve completed the straight line work on the green (not perfectly, but not bad for a first attempt as I get used to using the stitch regulator with the rulers. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE curved cross hatching! And then I began on the free-motion for the leaves. I plan to go back in with a lighter weight thread–I’m using 40 wt Superior trilobal poly here–to to a background dense fill around the leaves. There is a half inch outlined space between the leaves and the cross hatching.

I have to say the included-with-the-machine video was great, although I have no clue WHY Bernina doesn’t make it able to play on a DVD player–only a PC or a Mac.  Have they not noticed that computers don’t come with disc drives any more?????  Luckily, separate disc drives are cheap (about $30 or less) and I had planned on buying one for other reasons (moving CD music to the laptop).  But still.   The disc ought to be able to be played on a DVD player!   Anyway, it is well done, as is the manual.

The Q20 comes with a bobbin tension gauge and the manual says (yes, I read manuals! you should, too) you should test every bobbin.   So for now at least, I am.  That helped me get my combination of thread–40 wt. trilobal poly in the needle and 60-wt very fine Bottom Line poly in the bobbin–adjusted with a minimum of fuss.  The stitch balance is simply fan-flipping’-tastic.  I DO match needle and bobbin thread always, though, just in case!

And here’s my beautiful Birdie Bernina on her maiden quilt. Contented SIGH.

I need to thank three people:  Barb Black and Karen Miller are friends who have the Q20 (Barb’s is a sit-down like mine, Karen’s on rails) and Jeanie Cook-Delpit of Bernina for their advice, rave reviews and, from Jeannie, help.  When I saw Barb at Quilt Festival I got a great big laugh out of her when I greeted here with “Thank you for leading me into temptation!”  It’s totally true.  And Jeanie — you helped make this possible.  THANK YOU!  You are the creme de la creme of Bernina Ambassadors.  I’ll post more pics when done.   Let’s hope the power doesn’t go out tomorrow during the incoming storm, which is supposed to be heavy, wet snow.  I wanna quilt!

Modern Winter Placemats and TableRunner

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Last December at our local Coastal Quilters Christmas/Holiday meeting, we had a little game where you each bring a giftie, and end up with a different giftie.  I ended up with a lovely set of fat quarters in very “Quilt Modern” colors:  the red, white and gray winter themed ones.  I decided to add some new winter placemats and table runner made from the theme fabric using improvisational piecing. You can find the pattern at Janome America’s blog, here.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner.

I added the solid red and dark gray fabrics.  I will advise you:  MEASURE YOUR TABLE FIRST.  I made the placemats first, rather oversized.  I had two of them bound.  Then I discovered they were too big, had to pick off the binding, cut them down (the instructions on the Janome site are for my final size), and re-do.  Erk.

Depending on the fabric you select as a feature fabric for the centers, you can adjust the size of the inner borders (or omit them entirely).  I had just a half yard of the feature print, so I needed to use smaller cuts and build them out.  If you buy a little more, then you can omit the inner border and strips.

An overhead

An overhead view of the table runner; I used the few remaining bits of the feature print and built them out with strips, then fit them together.  Can you say “liberal use of partial seams?”

Overhead view of placemat

Overhead view of placemat

My favorite way to do bindings is by machine.  My secret:  glue stick!   I only use the glue stick on things that will be washed (probably often), so I wouldn’t do this on a high-end art quilt, but for a baby or bed quilt or table linens?  You betcha!

stitching down the bindings on the Janome 9400

Stitching down the bindings on the Janome 9400.  Love that pull-out light!  I sew the binding to the back, wrap it to the front, then at the ironing board use glue stick on the seam allowance.  I press the binding down and it stays put–no pins!  no bumps!  no wiggling out of place! 

I used a blanket stitch, with the straight part in the “ditch” (just to the left of the dark gray binding), and the “zig” going onto the binding.

I used this stitch to finish the bindings, and used the mirror image button (above in yellow) so that the swing of the stitch goes to the right of the straight line (see the stitch as displayed at the left of the screen).

I used this stitch to finish the bindings, and used the mirror image button (above in yellow) so that the swing of the stitch goes to the right of the straight line (see the stitch as displayed at the left of the screen).

A closer view. The needle just barely misses the binding when going straight, then swings over onto the binding to hold it in place.

A closer view. The needle just barely misses the binding when going straight, then swings over onto the binding to hold it in place.

Back view of my quilting. I used a FMQ ruler (thicker than a cutting ruler) with the QO foot (this is not necessarily recommended, you really should use a proper "Ruler Foot" but I was extra careful)

Back view of my quilting. I used a FMQ ruler (thicker than a cutting ruler) with the QO foot (this is not necessarily recommended, you really should use a proper “Ruler Foot” but I was extra careful) to do the straight line quilting across the strip sets, then used a squared off loop in the background of the feature fabric bits.

It must be good: it has passed the cat-sitting-on-it seal of approval!

It must be good: it has passed the cat-sitting-on-it seal of approval!