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Archive for the ‘Color’ Category

Never underestimate the inspiration caused by a group project

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

Art should be like a holiday: something to give a man the opportunity to see things differently and to change his point of view. -Paul Klee, painter (18 Dec 1879-1940) 

So I’m part of Mt. Battie Modern Quilt Guild, one of two local groups. This chapter, part of the MQG (Modern Quilt Guild) is the smaller of the two and is almost completely comprised of members of Coastal Quilters (the other group) which is part of the statewide Pine Tree Quilt Guild (Maine is the Pine Tree state). For once, I decided to participate in a round robin sort of thing. This year, the group opted to have each person do a block for ONE member of the group, doing it every other month or so.

Let me tell you I was stumped. I started by pulling fabrics.

Other than the sky fabric which I purchased because I didn’t have the right color or the time to dye something to order, I used only my own hand-dyes, above.

This past month was Becca’s turn. At first her prompt had me totally baffled: Paul Klee – Swiss/German Artist 1879-1940, use solids/read as solids, and she quoted several bits about his style and inspiration:

  • Klee … greatly admired the art of children who seemed free to create free of models or previous examples. In his own work, Klee often strove to achieve a similar untutored simplicity, using the intense colors inspired by an early trip to North Africa and by line drawing in the unstudied manner of everyday craftsman.
  • Klee suggests that color, shape and the faintest suggestion of a subject are enough to powerfully recreate in the eye of the viewer the actual feeling of repose the artist experienced in the original landscape.

Once I started pulling fabrics, though, I got excited. I googled Paul Klee…well first I googled Klimt and it didn’t seem to jive, then Becca corrected my mental jump from Klee to Klimt and things made more sense. I thought this quilt looked like good imagery for improv piecing:

Paul Klee’s Castle and Sun

I started with the pointy roofed houses and made two sets, then did some strips. I made my castle wall darker and shorter than his, but opted to have two towers reminiscent of the ones here. I used a few pops of the brighter yellow and ochre and the light green and the bright blue scattered hither and yon as in the original. I really liked the odd jigs at the top so left it up to Becca to leave them or trim.

At about 24 x 27 inches, it is a rather large “block,” but only took me a couple days to put together. There may be something to this improv stuff! Anyway, I had a ton of fun and am energized to dive into dyeing fabric and new work in January once the holidays are done. Hope you’ve enjoyed!

Sarah’s Machine Quilting Forum II video–ends Dec. 12

Sunday, December 6th, 2020

Now Registered participants ONLY can SEE it … CLEARLY!

If you were enrolled in the Virtual Quilt Festival’s second Machine Quilting Forum on Saturday, you know there were serious transmission issues with my presentation that made the video just yucky. TOTAL BUMMERS, but now TOTAL JOY! Thanks to the hard working folks in the Education Department (who should have been taking today off) you can SEE the video through December 12th. After that, like Cinderella’s pumpkin, it disappears. To access it, follow the following steps:

Registered participants ONLY can follow these instructions – 

—Go to My Schedule (be sure to select the Saturday, Dec 5 schedule)

—Click on the class – 320 Machine Quilting Forum II

—A new page will open with the description of the class, recording link, faculty links, and attachments

—Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the PDF attachment and the link to “Sarah Ann’s Video” to watch the YouTube video

Here are some screen shots. They drew attention to the video by adding a text message in RED font in the class description.

Then this will open up on the next page. My friend Jenny K. Lyon prepared a PDF with links to her stuff, I prepared one for my stuff and the questions I received, and I was able to upload my presentation as an “Unlisted” video on my YouTube channel. The only way to access it is through your “My Schedule” portal. I promise, the video quality is VASTLY better!

Special thanks to Suzanne Hyland, head of the Education Department, who checked email on Sunday when she should have been taking a nap to recover from the frenetic pace she kept up for weeks to direct and pull off this debut event. MASSIVE THANKS to everyone at Quilts Inc. and, for me particularly, in the Education Department. I took three classes, attended three lectures, and would do it again–both present and attend–in a nano-second! Please let Quilts, Inc., the people who bring you International Quilt Festival Houston (and more) that you want MORE!

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!

Easy Peasy meets Soft ‘n Stable

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

In my last post I shared the Clam Up bag from byAnnie.com, and earlier I shared my AWESOME Running With Scissors bag made for her patterns. I love bags and baskets and boxes and things to organize. One of my favorite classes to teach is my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag, which makes a great 3 hours quickie class for a bag (or two if you are fast) or full day class where you can learn more details and extras. I decided to try Annie’s Soft ‘n Stable stabilizer instead of batting to see how it would work in MY bags, which are quick quick quick and FUN! (Like potato chips, you can’t make just one!)

Here it is: the Easy Peasy process using Soft ‘n Stable and accenting the zipper with “binding” the way Annie Unrein teaches in her patterns at byAnnie.com The fabric used is courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics–the main fabric is from the Lost in Paradise collection (shipped May 2020) and the other fabrics are the Garden Pindot collection on the outside and the inside (and that’s Hash Dots on the backing of the quilt you see awaiting quilting on the back of the table).
This is a sampling of the fun bags I teach in the Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Class…. if you think you’d like me to teach this for your guild–including LIVE ONLINE workshops, leave me a comment! They are fast and fun and can be customized so many ways.
This shows the Clam Up bag and my Easy-Peasy next to it. I made this bag long enough to hold my large Fiskars flat on the bottom. Frankly, it is large enough it could hold a small knitting project or paper piecing supplies! One thing I will do differently next time is FUSE the lining to the back side of the Soft ‘n Stable. I didn’t use the walking foot and it shows. Oh well…lesson learned!
Before installing the zipper and sewing the seams, I pinned it together to check size and how I wanted to finish it. Most of my Easy Peasy bags leave the boxed corner triangles on the outside (see that photo above with the many colorful bags made with batting). Leaving the triangles outside acts to stabilize the bag and keep it upright. With the Soft ‘n Stable doing that job, I chose to tuck the “corners” inside for this bag.
Next, before boxing the bag into shape, I used the 3-stitch zigzag to secure and tidy up the edges.
The narrow accufeed foot on my Janome M7 makes it a breeze to sew zippers to a quilted, puffy base without distortion.
Here I’m adding a decorative element to the zippers. Gotta love wonder clips!
On my Janome M7, I the three-stitch zigzag looks like this, but it is available on all but the most basic machines as a standard utility stitch. The M7 allows me great flexibility in both stitch width and length–not all machines do!

My Easy-Peasy Inside-Out process is fun, fast, and infinitely adaptable. I’ll be making a new version of my notebook cover–I’ve also got an iPad case, a business card case, and a few other goodies up my sleeve. Maybe I’ll self-publish a book of patterns and variations on the theme…what do you think?

Next up, I’ll share a basket pattern that again modifies what I’ve learned from the byAnnie.com patterns! Stay tuned!

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.