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Archive for the ‘In Progress quilts’ Category

Piecing Curves…it is possible even for me

Monday, August 3rd, 2020
Whoo-eeeee! Lookit those perfect seams… this was my second block, and I think it looks pretty durn good for someone who doesn’t really piece a lot! There are a few MINOR things I can fuss at (like the seam allowance on the center top spike is a skosh wide and the upper left corner edge isn’t perfect, but still! Fabrics are batiks and Bright White Cotton Couture from Michael Miller Fabrics.

Precision piecing has never been my strong suit, but I am — like Michaelangelo at age 80 — still learning. One of the things I’ve learned is that it is OK to use specialty tools like the AccuQuiltGO! and byAnnie’s stiletto. Thank you to Michael Miller, for whom I am a Brand Ambassador this year) and Janome America for having me as an Artisan. For me, careful cutting for squares, rectangles and triangles isn’t too TOO challenging (as long as I’m paying attention which is never to be take for granted LOL). But CURVES? Not so much.

Back in May, I shared a video that tells yo about the amazing (Heavenly Perfection?) HP presser foot and throat plate, herhttp://www.sarahannsmith.com/weblog/?p=13206e. If you have a Janome with this option and haven’t tried it out, DO! Go watch the video… it’s a brief but I hope helpful mini tutorial. The video is also on my YouTube channel, here. I’ve been doing a bit more with brief videos…looks like about one a month. I’ll have another later this month about using the blind hem stitch for some slacks I made–you can subscribe to the channel.

After cutting using the Winding Ways die (requires the AccuQuiltGo or similar cutter, too), I laid out the blocks to see how they looked (and to make sure I had enough of each shape).
Here are the settings on my M7 for the HP foot which helped me get such amazing accuracy and careful piecing. Slowing down helps, too. Ahem.
First, I cut and assembled segments.

Here’s a quick video of me using the oh-so-wonderful HP accufeed foot and throat plate from Janome, on my M7. Thanks to Kimberly Einmo who shared her love of this accessory at the 2018 Janome Education Summit! Like I said…there is ALWAYS more to enjoy learning.

The stiletto from byAnnie.com is here.

Sub-units created
Following the assembly instructions that come with the Winding Ways die, you press seams in specific directions and create and assemble sub-units in a specific order.
Then you get as close to perfection as I am ever going to get! There is still some fine tuning I need to do (meaning the dreaded P-word: PRACTICE) to get the outside edges straight, but I mean really, look!
Here’s my Winding Ways on the design wall, considering various settings. I ended up going fairly traditional…I’ll share “done” in a week or two.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my detour from art quilting. I’ve actually needed a break to recharge myself, and this has been DELIGHTFUL. I’m thrilled with the finished quilt… will post it in about a week or so.

Full disclosure: I’ve been a Janome Artisan for 16 years, and am forever grateful for their support and machines. I’m a Michael Miller Fabrics (MMF) Brand Ambassador for 2020; the batiks and white fabric were donated as part of that ambassadorship. The AccuQuiltGO! was a GIFT (!!!!) as part of the MMF thing, and I purchased the Winding Ways die once I realized that wow, I could USE this machine! Whooda thunk it? Well, I should have. Having FUN! And lastly, thanks to byAnnie.com; their donations to the Teacher Goodie Bags in Houston one year netted me that awesome (and not expensive) Stiletto!

When to pre-shrink!

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Over the past week to two weeks, I have been working on ….sit down and prepare yourselves for this… a **pieced** quilt. Yes, me. A very simple pieced quilt, but nonetheless.

Eye-candy…my 214 colors, test-driving super wide borders with possible squares or rectangles. I’m going with nothing to distract from that glorious grid of color. Hopefully the quilting will make the wide borders look good. Want them that big so they will fit on a king size bed–we’ve got a queen but the pug takes up a ridiculous amount of room for such a small dog! The center is 72″ and overall I’m hoping for about 100″ square.

I’ve also been experimenting with the AccuQuiltGO! that was given to this year’s crop of Michael Miller Fabrics Brand Ambassadors. To my distress my block was not perfect–too small! I KNEW it had to be something on my end (it was), so I triple checked my seams (perfect to scant). I checked the size of the fabric cut on the dies: perfect. I checked that I used the correct dies: I did. Then I noticed something. After ironing, the block seemed off. Look at what I discovered:

First I placed my half square triangles on the dies, and look how much smaller the pieces are after sewing and ironing! So then I checked the start of the square-in-a-square center of the block. Same thing: after steam ironing/pressing, a unit that finishes at 2″ and one that finishes at 3 1/4″ are each 1/16-1/8″ smaller!

I decided to get a bit more scientific about it: Cut, measure, dry iron, measure, steam iron, measure. Here is what happened with the Cotton Couture, a delightful solid with a glorious feel in the hand:

Batiks are made using hand-dyeing processes that include a resist being applied (usually wax of some sort), then the wax is washed out, more dye applied, and so on. This means some of the shrinkage should already have happened.

As cut with the AccuQuiltGO! Perfect 4 1/2″
One last image: Here I created the center square-in-a-square for a pieced block. I cut the purple fabric to 4 1/2″ thinking that might help my accuracy, and sewed on two half square triangles. I then used navy for the central square and piled on identical half square triangles. All are cut with the lengthwise grain as suggested by Accuquilt for accuracy. LOOK at how much smaller due to more pressing and moisture from the iron. ERK!

So my lesson is, when I am not fusing things up, I really need to either pre-steam-iron everything, or prewash and mostly-dry it and then iron dry and smooth. I can now use the perfection of the AccuquiltGO and actually achieve as close to perfect as I will ever get! Now, off to order backing fabric for my BIG quilt.

Little changes help: Rose Hip

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
Not quite done yet, but improved and much closer to done and basting

Better. I finally got a little time in the studio (and the hammering on the roof is more muffled down there–we are having a new, metal roof put on–who knew they could do that in Maine in January?). I had thought the Rosehip top was done when I left it on Sunday evening but, I’m learning I need to let things set a spell, after I looked at it with fresh eyes realized it needed some help. I made a small rose hip quilt (below), and when I saw it next to the big one, I realized the large one looked a bit dead.

My Cherrywood “Vincent” challenge quilt just returned home. Just beneath it, on the left, is the 12″ version. See how cheerful those leaves are? The large one was crying out for some life.
I thought I was going to have to dye more fabric as what I had was either too dark OR too light. Then I looked in my stash and found some fabric Lisa Walton of Australia gave me about ten years (!!!!) ago. I had used a bit of it in a quilt that won my only (so far) ribbon at International Quilt Festival, Houston, but otherwise it was safe. So today I pulled out my Rugosa Rose leaf texture thermofax screen, the paints, and Lisa’s fabric. PERFECT!
I also needed to extend the bottom of the quilt–it will end up square, but I decided it needed more breathing room on the bottom and the stem at the top will just be shorter. Since it is the foreground, a larger motif was suitable. The original colors were plum and caramel…too bright and wrong! So I used ProSilk textile paints to fix.
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a cutting mat that has vastly exceeded its life expectancy, it makes a good surface for painting!

Becoming a rose hip

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Off and on for the past couple of weeks I have been dyeing fabric, drawing or photoshopping images to make thermofax screens, and finally working on collaging the background for the rose hip, the large (36″ square) version. To those of you have landed here from my new newsletter, thank you! To those of you who don’t know about my new newsletter, please go here to the home page and sign up! I will write about mid-month and will never share your info!

When I last checked in with you, I was just getting to this stage–finishing the rose hip on a flat surface.
The next step was dyeing some greens. Kinda looks like pond scum, eh?

While I was at it, I used up the leftover dye for some autumn-y leaf colors for a future project.
Some of the fabrics turned out great–alas, most of these didn’t work for this piece. AND I got smart…I am now adding tags with the pure dyes used in each piece so I have a clue if I ever want to make them again.

Next, working on thermofax screens. This is the photo of a chicken at the Common Ground Fair last September–as soon as I saw the strong light and dark I thought “Thermofax screen!”
And here it is after photoshopping. It made a fabulous fabric, very dark tone on tone, that I’ve used in the background. Alas, I forgot tot akee pics before I cut it up!
I also wanted to make a texture similar to Rugosa rose leaves, so this is my initial sketch, which became a screen.
I tend to work in batches, so while I was making those screens, I made several others. That one on the right, the feathers, is about 20 inches long! The snow is for another future quilt.

These are the transparent paints I mixed, with a little black, to use for the rugosa texture on the rose leaves.
Here’s one of the leaves…..
And the two large leaves, in place. The long one on the left is about 18 inches long. Alas, after looking at it this morning, I have decided those two leaves are too dark and have to go. Back to the dye pots once this post and my newsletter are done! I’ll use the fabric for something else eventually.
LOVED the batik but knew ordering it that it was too high contrast for my process. A little Dye-Na-Flow and ProSilk textile paints fixed that easily: overpaint in green!
And where I am now. I want the quilt to be dramatic, but it feels to dark overall. The smaller version has brighter green leaves and I’ve decided I need to dye something that is midway between the medium-light hand-dyes on my shelf and the dark green used here. Or use some fabric Lisa Walton gave me years ago…I think her bits of green are just right, especially once I add some texture.

So that’s about it for now….thanks for surfing in, share the post, and let others know about the newsletter. I’d love to ramp up my teaching again, and the best way to do that is by showing my work and getting the word out there. Now, off to make cookies for the guys roofing the house in freezing weather, then down to the studio.

Busy busy busy

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Do you ever have those days where you are trying to cram so much into one day you think your head will explode? Yeah. Today!

Rose Hips, large version, testing leaf fabrics
The best news is that the greens will work! This is my enormous rose hip in progress. The 12″ square “test drive” and demo sample is on the left. The big one will finish 36″ tall, probably square, possibly not.

So far today:

  • Rinse out hand-dyes from yesterday, hand wash
  • Machine wash and dry hand-dyes from yesterday, iron
  • View SAQA Webinar on 3-D artwork considerations
  • Create “artwork” for three simple thermofax screens
  • Add more things to the To Do list as remembered
  • Scan said artwork
  • Manipulate said artwork in Photoshop, sent to printer
  • Eat lunch
  • Send email relating to upcoming The Quilt Show appearance
  • Review email and reply as appropriate
  • Refill RX–call it in
  • Think about booking plane tickets for TQS trip, decide to deal with it later
  • Make another pot of tea — perhaps turn on Father Brown on PBS / recorded
  • Think about making thermofax screens today
  • Think about making stew for supper first instead
  • Decide to blog before dealing the three previous thoughts
Test drive background fabrics for large Rose Hip quilt
These are both the fused or the right side of fabrics I’ll possibly use as background pieces. Some clearly need some over-painting to knock down the high contrast.

So that’s my Saturday…how is yours going? I think I’d prefer a novel with that (decaf) tea right about now, and it’s only 2:12 p.m. I need to “set a spell!”