Sunday, October 15, 2017

Batiks for a new project

In August, I was in Barcelona for a day.  Yup, you read that right -- just for one day.  I was on a cruise and we stopped here. I did my homework, and I knew the best sights to see for a 10 hour visit.  Familia Sagrada cathedral was on that list.

For those of you unfamiliar, this is a masterful modern creation of Antonin Gaudi. It is so far outside of the realm of anything I have seen in a church, that it's hard to describe without just allowing the pictures to do the talking.
First off, as the photo suggests, this cathedral is still under construction. It is not 3-400 years old as many churches in Europe are. It was started last century sometime.  Barcelona is still trying to finish its construction to the specifications that Gaudi designed it for. When modern art has been poo-pood by some cities in Europe, Barcelona has embraced it. Gaudi's influence is pervasive to their culture. You cannot help but breathe deep and just soak it in, everywhere.

These are the spires of the church - if you buy an entrance ticket as we did, you can climb them, and see the details of the church from the outside, and it is nothing short of spectacular. On the top of each spire are these very modern clusters of tile-covered sculptures, some resembling fruit, others leaving their makeup to the imagination.

The front door has this amazing sculpture around it. But that is nothing compared to the door itself...
The door has this sculpture all over it - likely out of copper or bronze. The ivy was incredible, but I just love the beetles!
The real treat is when you go inside. When many cathedrals are dark and somber, Familia Sagrada is anything but.  It is bright, well lit and airy.
The stone is a soft taupe, not the darker color I am so accustomed to seeing.
 There is just a modern simplicity to it, everywhere inside.  But the windows are what blows you away.  The glass has no discernible cut pattern like most leaded glass windows do.  They are randomly cut, bright and glorious.
 Maybe this shows it better.

I just love the windows.  I make no claims to being religious.  I don't go to church, nor will I ever.  I did not have an epiphany when I went into this church; I just love the sense of peace it emanates.  The color is beyond glorious.  It is modern and yet it evokes a calming aura into the spirit of the least religious of people. 
 Just look how bright it is inside.

Anyways...what does this have to do with quilting?...I am sure you are wondering.  Is I said a while back, we were in Barcelona 2 days before the deadly August Attacks. we walked on the very street where they happened, shopping for trinkets.  Barcelona was a turning point for me. Having never wanting to go back to Spain for the past 30 years, after being mugged at 18, I now really want to go back. That is how delightful and moving Barcelona was.

I knew when we left there I wanted to incorporate this passion into a quilt, somehow.  In the 2 months since the trip, I have diddled with designs, and then I sat down in earnest yesterday and really started drawing. It will have a lot of applique, and it will incorporate plenty of color.  I also hope to use silks -- something I just cannot seem to avoid.
do not not share

Right now, I am fidgeting with the plan a little. The last thing I want is for it to come out looking like a giant bulls-eye -- not something I find remotely attractive in a quilt. I have pulled my scrap box of batiks and begun to soak them.  Some years ago when I had bleeding issues, I swore off batiks, but I know in  my heart that they have to be the windows.  I may soak them for the next 2 weeks, but I will get the excess dye out!

Two weeks ago I soaked some silk.  These next photos show how much dye comes out of some fabrics.
 These were soaked in very hot water, and left for 2-3 hours.

 Even after 3 soaks, there was still pink coming out of this fabric!

Well, the first round of batiks are in the sink upstairs now.  The water drained was the color of prune juice!  This will be a long process!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I've hit the jackpot!

and by jackpot, I meant to say that I have now chipped my way through a bunch of client quilts, and now am taking some time to work on one of my own projects! I have been quilting on this quilt since about March, but now is the time to seriously wrap this up!

Let me show some of the things I have done the last couple of weeks.

This quilt is very different for me, but Jean is a long time client of mine from CA, and despite it being outside my box (OK, it's outside the box, down the road, and over the cliff from my normal wheelhouse!), I wanted to do my best to give "Katrina" what she deserved!  This is an original design that the maker will be teaching soon. 
Here's a closeup... It was really kind of fun once I bot into the quilt. I double batted it with wool, and quilted it with Madiera Monolon clear nylon thread.  The border has a taupe thread.  The clear thread enabled me to go beside the embroidery and not have it show.  Out on the ivory background, it just looks like ivory thread. I call this a win-win!  On a separate note, keep my client Jean in your good thoughts. She is from Napa, and must be very nervous with the fires in that area of CA.  I just cannot imagine.
The next three are by a MA client. This is a beautiful baby quilt. It is so simple, yet so sweet.  The quilting just brings it alive. Each heart block is quilted continuously with one start and stop.  This includes the ditch stitching on the block, the applique and the feathering!
All of Denise's quilts had blank white backings, to show off the quilting!

She was on a heart-roll.  There was a wall-hanging too.  I double batted it with wool, and quilted with a 40wt Glide thread.  Most is ivory, but there is also a gold used on the colored squares.  She requested a simple custom.
 I finished her last quilt today - an easy edge-to-edge.  The piecing is textbook flat, perfect borders.  Her work is enjoyable to quilt because there are no issues.  This has such lovely colors on the vintage reproduction fabrics.

I am at a point where I am working on some of my own tasks.  I do have a few openings, maybe a dozen, for edge-to-edge quilting between now and about December 10.  They will be quilted before the holidays.  Just email if you want to secure one of these spots.

Have a great week!

Monday, October 02, 2017

MQX Recap

I spent 5 days in Springfield, IL teaching 7 classes...6 hand's on and one lecture last week.  While it is always tiring to be on the constant go, it is also always a great experience to be able to connect with other quilters. I love seeing the light bulbs go off.

Here are a few shots of some of the classes I taught.

A is for Applique is a 7 hr (all day) class in which I talk for a couple hours about techniques for quilt design as well as the nuances of quilting an applique quilt. The students plan a design for a simple top, and then get 4 hours to execute it. The pieces are all a bit different, as is their work. This is one of my favorites, and will be taught again in April 2018 at MQX East.
Narrow Border...Big Design teaches border designs for widths from 1/2" up to 3-4". It starts easier, and builds to more complex multi-step borders. They all did great!
I have no photos from my Dense & Dainty Freehand fills class, but it and it's lecture companion class went well.

The next 2 photos are from Beautiful Backgrounds...Grid-Based Fills. I had 3 mostly full classes of this! THREE.  It has been immensely popular the past 2 years.  My quilters did super at these fills.

 Shots from the backside always show gorgeous texture!

The last 3 classes all have a companion book which I sell on my website (see the blog sidebar). These books contain 4 to 5 times the content that I can possibly introduce in a 4-hr class.  I brought LOTS of my books to MQX, and sold out by the middle of the 3rd day! I really underestimated how popular they'd be. So if you did not get one there, or want to order one...they are on my website.  

Unbeknownst to me, a client of mine entered a quilt which I had quilted earlier this year.  And...> it won 1st place!  It's got a lovely selection of fabrics and embroideries. The added plus was getting to meet Tracy at the awards as the winning quilt was announced! 
 I had 19 quilts on display at MQX in a retrospective exhibit. Except for Bouquet Royale which looks wretchedly wrinkled, they all looked great. This had to be shipped last minute, and looks like an elephant pressed the box.

If by some fluke you are interested in purchasing one, please contact me directly. I am at the point where I am ready to entertain selling some.  They will be also on display at the MQX East next April.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

MQX Bound

Maine is enjoying what is inevitably our last real dose of summer this weekend. It is in the 80's, and I couldn't be happier. While most of my fellow teachers that are heading to MQX this coming week are probably busy double and triple checking their packings, I got to do that over a week ago.  Last Saturday I drove an entire van (back seat down) of stuff to Janet-Lee, MQX owner who lives in NH. She drives a trailer to Springfield, IL and I am fortunate enough to have a spot in the trailer for all my things.  Mind you, there are 17 quilts in here that are part of a 19-quilt retrospective exhibit too.  This teacher really does not pack as heavy as the van suggests! Never the less, when I pack to go to Road to CA in January, it will be eye-opening for sure as this trip is via air and class supplies must be shipped!
A week ago, I wrapped up a client quilt. It's a cute Fig Tree sampler. Though this is a custom, it did have a desired budget.  I opted to use a greater part of this budget on the outer borders and sashings, where details will show more.
 Timing required that the house and pieced blocks would get an edge to edge.  I chose these relatively tight nested swirls.
 Here's a look at the border, quilted with an ivory Glide thread.
The backing is an ivory cotton, so all the quilting shows!
With one week before I was traveling, I chose to load my quilt and plug away on it.  I started this in March or so, but the summer was so busy that I never got back to working on it. I can happily see the end in sight, despite there still being quite a few areas I need to get back to.  Sometimes decided when something is really DONE is hard.  Kindly do NOT copy these images to pinterest or anywhere else.

The center of the quilt got dense backfill around the scrolly design.  I know some of the scrolls are not perfectly symmetrical.  I don't really care, either. The finish line is in sight, and done always trumps perfect.
I think this next picture is sideways, but whatever. Quilting on asymmetrical logs is challenging. They are not good for a cross-hatch, which was my first thought. I quilted this floral/feather pattern in a turquoise thread, then matchstick filled behind it in a turquoise silk thread.  I know you are thinking..."turquoise thread on orange & pink fabrics??". Yup.  It helps the design to show more AND it ties in with the other pops of turquoise on the quilt. It's a gutsy and perhaps less-common thread choice, but I hope it will be right!
With every quilt I make, I am always looking for THAT project which will not produce those "AW crap, wish I'd done this differently" moments. As much as I quilt, they still occur! Here, I put a deep turquoise piping between the aqua and red 1" borders. It looks good, but NOW I am asking myself why the piping is not between the ivory silk and the aqua? DOH! Anyhow, I have tried to use quilting to help frame the quilt with these borders. My hunch is when I take it off the frame tomorrow, I will like how it looks. That's my theory at this point, and I'm sticking with it!

I am getting to details, which is a good feeling.  Yesterday, the dozen or so fussy cut butterflies got their antennae, bringing them to life.

 Have a good week...One last reminder - I get SO many emails with questions. I hate to appear to be ignoring you, but if you ask something in a comment AND have your blogger settings to "no reply", there is just no way I can get you an answer.  Please take a moment and confirm that you have an email address entered in your settings.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Let the Custom Quilting Marathon Begin!

This is my kids' 3rd official week of school, but the first two were weeks of only 3 and 4 days, respectively.  Never the less, the sight of them heading off to the school signals my cue to begin loading and quilting the backlog of custom quilts. I am down two of these, both going home to the same client. In another month or so I will feel caught up, hopefully!

This is a 98" Niemeyer Bird of Paradise quilt.  It was beautifully appliqued.  I wish I could do such a nice tiny machine zig-zag like she did. As you can see, the quilt is way too large to lay in my hallway to get a photo, but then, most of us have seen this quilt and are familiar with it anyways.
Most areas are ditch quilted with clear nylon - to the tune of nearly 9 hours of ditching. It's not fun or exciting, but it does stabilize the quilt, making crisp points. After ditching, I can move wherever on the quilt with a single color of thread until it is time for a different color. 
 Lighter areas (this is actually lavender) are the place for more "showy" quilting designs like feathers. I can quilt feathers in my sleep, so these are a nice choice.  Plus, they give the design movement.
 Quilting does not show as well on the darker fabrics, and it was not reasonable to use a contrasting thread just to make the stitching show. This quilt has enough busy with the many colors and patterns.
 Most of the threads match the fabrics, except where I wanted just a touch of the turquoise or hot pink to be brought out. From 10 feet away it is not obvious, but up close, it shows. Quilting is about giving something to see at different distances -
 Eight spiky flowers...

The second quilt is the Circle of Life by somebody. LOL - middle age brain fart.
This is smaller, near 70" square.  Yes, you are looking at a black 80/20 batting.  This is so there won't be any little white pokeys visible on her pure black backing fabric.
If you are thinking that black quilts are hard to quilt, you are right. The color just sucks the visibility right out of the room!  I actually ditched this one with the black thread.  Clear threads come in truly clear and a "smoke", which is greyish.  The clear is nice and invisible on fabrics lighter than orange or green, but on deep tones can look a bit shiny.  The smoke is invisible on colors darker than red or purple, but shows on all lighter colors.  You can see where I am going with this...It is a catch 22 scenario.  A lose-lose proposition. Neither option for monofilament will work well.  Black, however, can be nested right next to the black fabrics and be reasonably natural looking, AND it allows designs to be quilted that are intended to be stitched in black thread too.

The large black background borders were feathered in dark purple.  It is subtle, but it shows. Again, this quilt needs little "in your face" quilting, just some texture to enhance the beautiful piecing.
  Another look at the black...
 The center is pretty, but I kept the quilting simple with continuous curves, quilted in black.
  Detailed quilting in color was done on the setting squares -- in 8 different colors.
 Hopefully the owner will love this as much as I do. Her piecing and applique are spectacular; I just wanted to elevate that with appropriate quilting.
I have two more light-customs in my queue, a magazine sample quilt, and then I will be able to take a week to load and work on one of my show quilts (the one that started all the machine issues with silk thread). I will be in Springfield, IL between September 26 and 30 at MQX Midwest, so if you are there, drop by and say hi!