Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Currently at the Printer...

Coming in mid-January!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Scattered, Unproductive and Going in Circles

That would be my tag line for 2017. This time of year, people are posting their "word" for next year. Mine was clearly unproductive for 2017. Now, I may have taught several classes, wrote articles, made many nice samples and wrote 4 books, but when it comes to quilting, I have fallen over the cliff. More than anything, I just want to quilt.

I have had 2-3 show quilts completed each of the past 5 years. Some have been smaller, which makes them easier to complete. I did sort of fall into the trap for several years of thinking it was fun to make 70-80" sized quilts. Now, though, as these take longer to finish, there is nothing small waiting to be completed! DOH!

In the summer, I started this 40" whole cloth. It is pretty green silk and I have posted snippets of it previously. It was *supposed* to be my Paducah 2018 entry (due Dec 1). The quilting went well and on schedule in the summer until I just stopped. The black thread, which seemed like a brave and ambitious choice initially, became my demise in the end. I really should just finish it into a nice floor pillow. Yea, right.
In September, when I got a few of the client quilts behind me, I decided to remake the same design as the green silk whole cloth, except with a piece of peach silk and matching peach thread. In many ways this opportunity capitalized on the decisions made on the green quilt which I regretted. I did much of it the same, but got to change some things.
I was right on schedule with it's finishing. About November 1st, I was starting the binding. That's where it all went to hell in a hand basket. The finished binding was too wavy. It would need reblocking. To make it worse, somehow I nicked the back of the silk binding in a way that I'd have to replace the entire binding on about 1/4 of the quilt (ok, part of this was because it just could not lay flat. I have done more scalloped edges than I can count, but this damn serpentine edge was doing me in.  I was losing my patience. I was able to order another yard of the peach silk fabric, despite it being discontinued.
Sadly, I just lost steam and did not bother to enter it. I probably could have fudged the photo with 2-way tape on the floor well enough, but realistically, I still have to fix it, and I did not have that motivation inside me. Maybe next year!  See...the quilting really is pretty decent. I am just scattered, and feeling unproductive. It affects my mojo and how much effort I want to put into anything.
 Anybody remember these blocks?...Here's another of this year's hand-stitched projects. I also did a nice border but at some point thought it was simpler without it. I would create a border with colored thread in the quilting. The blue bias is all stitched down, BUT the damn crap needs fixing because the bottom is not quite symmetrical. Go figure... Somehow just naming it "Cocked a Little Sideways" did not seem kosher.
This quilt will be a relatively easy fix, and "could" be onto the frame this winter/spring. Whether it will or not is another story of motivation.

So this brings us to my most current project. Yes, with a trans-US trip next month, I thought I needed a hand-piecing project to fill my hours on planes and in airports. I really do need something to do sitting in my favorite purple chair each  night too besides snooze. The orange-peel design is one I have pondered making for years. Oddly, the gray fabrics as well as the lavender silks were bought for other designs that never got made. Who knew they were so pretty together?!? That is the glory of a bountiful stash.
One of the lavender silks came from some fabric I ordered for this quilt. It was custom dyed by Debra Linker, but it was just the wrong shade by no fault of her's. I conveniently left this quilt out of this year's list of failed attempts. It was afterall started in 2016. The lighter shades of purple silk also came from this quilt (they were underneath the large star appliques, not yet cut away). 
Oh wise Crystal Ball...will she finish this quilt this year?...
                                                 <>  sigh...

Back to the orange peel quilt...

It is typical when I am working on one part of the quilt to be designing other areas. This was initially conceived to have the center shown above, with large corner triangles with this type design appliqued.  I have even gone to the extent of starting to prepare the edges of the appliques - no small task considering there are nearly 500 pieces.

Then I started second guessing the time to hand applique all of this...you know the spiraling circle of quilt design doubt... I thought maybe I could use a similar concept, but have it not be quite so time consuming.  Narrow (7-8") borders might be faster than large corners, right?

 I'm not so sure. But in my desire to NOT Christmas shop, I let myself believe that theory -- so far that I actually made up these 4 pieced corners between Saturday and today. They have 2 of the silks, which are very pretty in the light. After getting them done, I question having them placed so close to the orange peels. It might be too busy. Not sure if this is reality talking or my procrastinatory non-productive mind. After the applique is added, that gray border will not be nearly as calming as it is there.

So, I did what any non-sane fool would do...Go back to the drawing board, and move the parts and pieces around on the floor in search of a better plan.  My real goal is to identify the "plan" so I can actually start the appliqued borders.  This part of the job I really like to do!
I tried placing the crazy diamond pieced borders further from the center block. This layout has merit. Then, I found a small piece of perfectly colored lavender Grunge without a selvage, and thought - Gee, this might look great with a solid lavender triangle as I layed out below. There are only about 75 colors of Grunge; I'll probably only have to order 10 extra yards in order to find the "right" shade.  LOL!
This layout is WAY too simple though. It relies way too much on me not screwing up the quilting - ha ha! Then the thoughts of 2 semi-failed whole cloth quilts enter my mind.  Better figure out the piecing somehow! 

On the brighter side though, I will have one quilt finished this year for competition. This does already have a binding, and a dang good one too. It only took one try to get it on which is an added plus in my crazy book! I am adding some beading and embroidery, but it is otherwise finished. I absolutely loved designing and making this one, and hope that the process of "Problems in Purple" (all my quilts get sarcastic names during the making; most actually earn them) goes as smoothly. This design just developed easily, beginning with the log cabin blocks, then the appliqued border. 
Part of me knows I am overthinking the process, making this harder than it has to be. What would you do on the purple quilt ?...no, making a purple whole cloth is flat out of the question! LOL

Have a great pre-holiday week!

Friday, December 15, 2017

For those of you who post questions...

I happily answer any and ALL questions that are asked to me in comments.  This can only be done though IF you either leave an email address OR get rid of your "blogger-noreply" status by entering an email to Blogger.

Becky K. Google Madiera Monolon and you will get a link to the Madiera Store.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Lollipop Trees

Alas, this giant custom is done. I say that like it has been on my frame for weeks, but that's not entirely the real story. I loaded it yesterday, in an effort to get one big custom done before the holidays kick in...to lessen the backlog of harder, longer quilts just a little bit. My 2 month hiatus is nearing its end. It finally feels good to be getting back into the detail work I so love.

This is Lollipop trees by Kim McClean. It has an absolute ton of appliqued circles, and even more Kaffe Fassett very colorful fabrics! There is little background behind the applique, so it is anybody's guess why it takes so blasted long to quilt the background! This is a long job to quilt. Anybody that has done one will definitely agree with me.
It has a single layer of wool batting -- just enough to puff the appliques and show off the relief. 
 I outline (SID) each and every applique and the sashings initially with my standard Madiera Monolon thread. It is truly invisible. 6 to 7 years ago, I got the cone of this thread, and I am finally nearing the end of the cone...its a mere 15000m. To be safe, I ordered another last week.
 This client does beautiful applique. It is so securely stitched, that there would be no risk of it coming loose ever. She's a hard-core applique quilter.   My last quilt for her (I think) was a Ladies of the Sea!

Never the less, these appliques are huge and really need to receive some quilting on them.  It keeps them from sagging and wearing disproportionately, and just gives the many leaves and circles texture and character. This detailing was quilted with 2 colors of 40wt shiny thread. With all the colors in the fabrics, I decided to consolidate the color selection for showy threads would make it easier on the eyes.

The detail stitching is often a very-close double-line echo.  This is particularly effective on busy print because it creates more negative space - thereby making the quilting more visible.
The same concept is true for the background fillers.  This fill is stitched with 4 colors of 50wt So Fine thread, but each block is quilted identically. The threads coordinate with the background fabric colors. This thread has no shine and melts into the quilting in a more subtle way. 
Love this block with the birds...

The borders and sashings received a combination of diamond on point quilting with a filler, and straight lines.  Linear designs are more prone to showing through the prints and colors than something like feathers or another fill.
 Too many lollipops...
 And I will leave you with just one peek at the backside.
Have a good December 6th.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Catching up

It's true.  Like I said some weeks ago, I am on a quilting hiatus.  I am taking a break from the client work to recharge my battery and to work on some of my projects that always get swept to the far corner.  A week or so ago, I decided that I needed to get a few of the client's quilts done.  I wanted a paycheck LOL!  I had 2 edge-to-edges (yes, I actually get E2Es!) and this adorable baby quilt.

This client prefers less dense quilting, which makes me work hard.  My inclination is always to quilt more densely.  I hope she likes it; I think it's adorable. She's donating it to a NICU as a charity quilt.
 Fills are loose, and slightly varied. I let the hearts on the giraffes be the focus.
 Late last week, I loaded two more quilts, both belonging to the same client.  This star is right up my alley. It is a design I have quilted several times, and have a stock of nice designs to put in each space. As a quilter, this is the type project that causes no stresses, and is perfect for a time when I don't really want to overthink a design or reinvent wheels.

It's a throw size, quilted with a Hobbs 80/20 batting. I used Glide threads mostly, except for the striped brown border. Though the colors are somewhat Christmassy, I don't know that it is intended as such.
 Here's the pretty back...It shows the outer border when the first photo does not.
 Here is the other quilt...This one I sat on all weekend. I pondered what to do every time I walked by the quilt. There is something about all that background blank space that makes me fret!  In the end, it is cute and whimsical, and was really not stressful whatsoever.
 I needed the quilting to give the quilt movement and character. I wanted to create a faux frame too. There are ghost oak leaves quilted into the background amidst the 3 fills I used.
These appliques are fused, so I kept quilting on them to a minimum...just defining the veining of the leaves.  I used a wool batt and Glide thread.
 It's good to be quilting a little bit. I have a Lollipop Trees quilt next to be loaded, but it won't be quilted exclusively.   I am still working on a few other things simultaneously. It feels better to chip away at the jobs gradually!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Month, really?

OK, my sincere apologies for the very long delay. I have thought of writing a blog post for 2-3 weeks now, but never sat down long enough to do it. I got back from MQX 6 weeks ago, whipped out some client quilts and happily set off on my personal hiatus.

Yup, you read that right. I am on quilting vacay for a while. I have not quit taking the client quilts, but I am not quilting any but a baby quilt this month, and probably only one next month. The girl needs a little holiday shopping money!

I have been feeling the burnout for several months now. I watch my own projects get pushed to the back burner, and then when I do get to work on them I feel rushed and guilty. This is ME time to recharge my batteries, and hopefully get something into the works that I love for next year.

My first order of business was to get this quilt off the frame, finished, etc AND bound. I still have some detail work, and embroidery to finish, but for all intents and purposes, she is done. In April I will show a full shot of it :-)  We had a day without power thanks to a very windy night, and I sat for about 4 hours by a window hand-stitching the binding. After about 5 scalloped-piped bindings, I think I have finally gotten the knack of it. This one is very well done.
I also loaded a piece of peach silk that was marked in September. I first did this design on a piece of green Radiance in the summer with colored threads. I thought that it would look cool, but it takes so much patience and control to quilt with black thread on green fabric, that I really didn't think it stood a chance of becoming a show quilt. Maybe I will convert it to a fancy pillow - LOL. Rather than ditch the WC idea and design, I decided I'd go for round #2 and try a monochromatic approach. The silk is peachier than the photo shows. Also, it is wet in the picture.
This gave me an opportunity to tweak things about the design that were a PIA the first time, and modify other areas.  Much of it is the same.  I am just sick with love for this herringbone filler. It is tedious, but so worth the time.  I found that this color silk did not match any of the silk threads available. I opted to go to Wonderfil's Invisifil, a poly thread. This is such a fantastically fine thread - lesson to you, it is a royal pain to remove so make sure you like what you stitch!.
My plan is to get a binding on this before December 1, and enter the little beast in the Paducah show. It may be glued to the backside, but it will have a finished photo by then!

I have also been making a couple of fun magazine quilts on feathered wreaths and Cathedral Windows, but you will have to wait until next spring to see those.

My boxes of classroom handouts and fabrics are getting packed up to ship off to Road to California next month. OMG...what a lot of things to ship.  Teachers, if you teach for MQX, you know that we have a great deal there - they bring the batting for us.  The box of batting I am shipping is enormous (but it will save me from cutting batting in the wee hours should my flight not be on time!).

I am also getting the class things readied for my 6 classes at Mid-Atlantic in February, just a month after Road. Thankfully, this show is a wee bit closer to home. I have 2 new classes debuting there, the details for which I am still ironing out. I have 2 new class samples on Templates on my machine as I type! I love the templates classes, but what I learned from doing them in 2015 and 2016 is that one class does not fit all. For next year, I have split the material into Templates I and Creative Templates 2, to hopefully better serve the needs of more quilters.  This week, the classes open for MQX East (show in April 2018), and these will be 2 of my 6 classes offered there.

Phew...that really has been a lot of work, but let me show you something that has been a crazy bit of fun.  OK, maybe its just crazy.

A couple posts ago I showed a snippet of a design I came up with for a cathedral window, based on an ultra cool church in Barcelona. I gathered (by that I mean, I went through my stash then I bought 30 yards of new colors) batiks of all shades of the rainbow. I have not worked with batik in a long time. It is nice to sew, no raveling.

Being that batiks are notorious bleeders, I presoaked every fabric about 4 times until nothing bled.
 There was A LOT of excess dye, for every color.

Even the yellow.  

My first attempt was to free-piece sections of windows. It was just not coming out as I wanted. Seams were in odd places, sometimes bulky. It resembled the actual church windows, but not my vision of this glorious window.
On a moment of total crazy, I decided I'd try repiecing one of them using 1" squares -- about 800 of them. Here it is layed out on my cutting mat, which of course, I planned to use the next day for something. That was foolish.
 To assemble these into the 16" circle below, it only tool me about 8-9 hours. Talk about a crazy amount of time! I am fairly anal about my seams all pressing the right way (Good Lord, not open!), and about these 1/2" patches having good matches.  I just failed to recognize that 3/4 of every 1" square was going to be on the backside in the seams!  BUT...it is just the look I wanted -- one that glows more and is luminescent. The first attempt just did not satisfy this.
 I have this next section started. It has nearly 3 times the area though.
 I am trying a different approach for these.  I am partially strip-piecing them.
 These have small sections of 3 or 4 pieced units. I don't have enough prepped to know if this will be a seam nightmare, but seams can be pressed the other direction too. The prospect of spending 4000 hours to piece the 10000 squares in these windows will undoubtedly make me move on to another quilt!
Lastly, some of you probably know already, as this is old news, but my Twisted Sister quilt won a 2nd place at IQF Houston 2 weeks ago. I wish I could have gone to see it there, but part of me really needs the rest too.
Later, quilters!

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 copy...do 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!