Sunday, July 26, 2015

What's next

The third of the four practice pieces I prepared is one that I'm really hoping will turn out to be a show piece, or one that I could enter into a judged show.  Again, it's a whole cloth piece, but done on commercial fabric rather than a hand dye.  I wanted a subtle colour for the feathers, and a white for the background.  Knowing how difficult it is to choose the "right" thread for the quilting, I decided to make a "doodle" cloth to try out the various options.  I managed to get down to two options for the feathers, a grey/white variegated Sulky Blendable and Superior King Tut No 916--a pale variegated in paste blue/yellow/pink--which reads as grey on the spool.  I did the left side of the feathers in the King Tut and the right side in the Sulky.  At first glance there isn't much difference, but where there are a couple of layers of thread, such as in the main veins, the colours of the King Tut show slightly--an effect I like.

A second consideration is the trouble I had with the Sulky shredding and breaking frequently while I was working--and I did use the recommended needle.  This is a problem I've had before with Sulky Blendables.  Normally I would associate this with old rotten cotton thread, but these threads are not that old, unless they had been stored for a long period at the retail outlet. This problem has happened so often that I have now decided not to use this thread again, and I'll be getting rid of what I have in some way--and I have a fair bit.  For the background stippling I decided on white Kimono silk.  I have not stippled in years and the "doodle"cloth gave me a chance to practice.

Anyway here is a close up of the feathers-Victorian Feathers, of course.  I had a picture of the whole thing, but it was a poor picture and showed nothing, so I deleted it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pink Quilt

I promised a picture of the pink practice quilt.  The quilting pattern is quite difficult to see, being done with white thread.  I used Superior Masterpiece, which I know is highly recommended for piecing, but it doesn't seem to like being used for FMQ'g.  I won't use it for that again, but then I have a huge cone, so will have to figure out something to do with it. The first picture is the pattern on paper of the quilting design.  The feathers are somewhat traditional.  The half inch grid was sewn with a FM Sashiko stitch, and I intend to add a bead at each intersection. 

The next picture is the finished quilt--although not yet beaded.  The seed beads I've chosen are a matt finish and almost a perfect match in colour to the peach-y sections of the quilt.

And finally, I tried to get a photo of the finished quilting by photographing the back of the quilt at an angle.  

I have no idea what I'm going to do with these little quilts.  I
m tempted to put a hanging sleeve on them and offer them for sale as a local craft sale.  There is nothing wrong with them, but they aren't my best work.  Obviously I need the practice, and maybe that's enough to justify their existence.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Slow progress

I have finished two of the four practice pieces.  The little black quilt was done entirely by "stitch-in-the-ditch", some free hand and some by regular machine stitching.  Boy, did I ever need practice with that!  There is really nothing that would show in a picture.  The other one was fairly traditional feathers around a center oval, done with white thread on a pink and white fabric.  I have to figure out how to photograph that to best advantage.

In the meantime, I came to realize that I have to have about 9 ATC's ready for an exchange next Sunday.  The theme is "landscapes", so my challenge was to make them as close to realism as I could.  Not easy, especially when working with fibre, the main problem being the very small scale of the pieces. 

I got out all of the fabric scraps I have, with fusible web already applied.  Then I tried to sort them in terms of things like sky, mountains, grass etc.  I ended up with quite a mess on my worktable, and, believe it or not, this is organized!

Since I'm showing pictures, here is the new Ott lite for the studio.  The very first Ott Lite I bought, many years ago was a floor model that I  have had beside my recliner in the living room.  Recently we noticed that it was interfering with the tv.  So when we found this one on sale last weekend we grabbed it.  With this on my work table, I was able to move the other floor model out of the studio and into the living room, and the old one back down to the basement.  This new one has a built in magnifier, and a base with spaces to hold small tools and supplies.  I love it!

Anyway, further to the ATC's.  I have put together 7 of them.  They have been trimmed to size but have yet to be attached to card stock.  They are fused, and each one has some sort of machine stitching on it.  Two are thread painted, three have trees FMQ'g, and for the other two, I used a built in stitch on my machine which is a row of blooming flowers.  I found exactly the right variegated thread for these little flowers--green, turquoise, pink,red, purple and yellow--Superior Thread's Fantastico # 5003.  So far this has taken the best part of two days, and I still have two more cards to make

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Good Day's Work

For the past while, I've been putting together a group of small wall hangings, getting ready to spend some time practicing my FMQ'g, and hopefully, end up with one piece that could perhaps be entered into a judged show.  Sometimes I just get down and dirty with the FMQ'g, and just wing it, sometimes I make guidelines,and then wing it, and sometimes I mark the whole piece.  Most often it is a combination of all of the above.  Today I had four pieces ready to spray baste.

Since DH gets very nervous if I try to tackle the basement stairs, he set up a work area for me out in the garage.  He had a table set up,and covered, had all of my tools available, and took my IV pole out to hang the pieces on before and after they were done.

This set up was also the best we could devise for actually cutting the batting to size.  It turned out to be a bit like solving a jig saw puzzle, but finally they all had a piece of batting and it was time to spray.

Then, one at a time, each was sprayed, very carefully, and, yes, I wear a fine particle respirator when I use basting spray.

This was actually a big job, and I had to sit regularly ( That's why the stool is right beside me)  We have been planning it for over a month.  Afterward, once everything was cleared away, I celebrated by making a batch of blueberry muffins.  So-o-o good! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Working in short spurts, I've been able to put together the basic working surface of two collages, and have planned, in my mind, the next steps.There are two critical decisions to make with each one--first, how to back the piece, so as to provide a firm enough working surface, and secondly, how much machine stitching vs hand stitching does each one need.

My long range plan is to mount each one on a stretched canvas.  With enough laborious hand stitching, with mono-filament, This can be achieved with just about any fabric, but if I want to attach beads, a firm, fairly dense attachment process is necessary.  I tried the second (second picture) one with a layer of Warm 'n' Natural batting behind it.  I really don't think this will provide enough firmness to prevent the weight of beading from pulling the piece off the canvas.  The first one, I backed with a layer of strong iron-on interfacing.  I believe this will go a long way towards supporting the beading, but, with both, I think some sort of adhesive will be necessary to secure it to the canvas.

The white section of this piece certainly stands out, and I'll have to address that.  But my plan is to cover it with grey buttons.  Now that I can see how useful a photo can be in evaluating value, I'll be sure to check the results of my work that way.

To address the second concern, I have to go back to why I'm doing this.  Certainly, I need a few hand work projects, but I also believe in letting my pieces talk to me, and the one immediately below says that the large center piece needs to be attached by machine, even if it is later covered with beads.