Category Archives: Completed Projects

Deep(ly Flawed) Purple

In case you think quilt creation for me is all beer and skittles, I want to take you behind the curtain and share my latest humbling quilting experience. I haven’t done such a bad job in years. I’m embarrassed to reveal my ineptitude, but I want to make a clean breast of it. Maybe we can laugh about it, sometime.

In December I showed you “Deep Purple,” an improv created quilt top and asked your advice about how to finish it. The advice you sent was helpful, and I used it to complete the top.

Recently, I started to quilt this piece, and what began as an improv quilting design devolved into a royal mess. First, I decided to quilt edge to edge with purple thread, following some of the angled pieced lines. Then, when I saw all the intriguing shapes those lines created, I decided to quilt the shapes separately – in a different color thread.

The chartreuse thread I chose went well with the main non-purple color in my quilt, but I didn’t have as much of the thread as I thought. I placed an order for more, but it would take a week to arrive. So, I quilted only three rounds in each shape with chartreuse, and filled in the rest with my purple thread. Oh, I also decided to change the quilting direction to just parallel lines. The process of yanking the quilt through my sewing machine’s harp with each round was hard on my machine and my arms.

When I changed to parallel lines I decided to use my machine’s automatic tie-off feature so I wouldn’t have to hand knot and bury hundreds of thread ends. I’ve done this before and have gotten by with it. However, the purple thread I was using on the top and bottom stood out blindingly on the yellow-green backing fabric.

Because the shapes were so awkward, I had to start and stop my quilting lines however I could. I did switch to a lighter bobbin thread once I saw what was happening. The change helped a bit, but the thread barf balls still show up well. At this point I wasn’t open to ripping out and starting over.

Usually I steam press the daylights out of my tops to get them flat. However, “Deep Purple” has velveteen, which marks badly when steam pressed, so it was lightly pressed. Despite pinning, parts of the top were looser than others and the fabrics were different thicknesses, so the fabric scooched up along the bias lines I was quilting. The result was sheering and tiny pleats. I did redo some of the worst. Yes, I used a walking foot.

Right now this mess hangs over a banister, awaiting some sort of edge finish. Like me, it looks OK from a distance in dim lighting. Up close it’s another story.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Completed Projects, In Process, Modern Quilting

The Old Becomes New

I have continued to revisit old work that I wasn’t satisfied with, and revised two pieces, “Z Is For Zoom” and “7 Years of Bad Luck.”

Z was just too plain before, so I painted broad white stripes over the already quilted area and then covered the stripes with seed stitching.

Original

Add ons

Seed stitch detail

7 Years needed focus, so first I over-dyed the completed piece and stamped it with white ink. Then I cut off the top edge, added swirls of bias tape, and appliqued jagged chunks of silver lame on to represent the bits of broken mirror. As I was sewing the tape on I realized I was channeling Judy Kirpich. A new facing on the top and reattachment of the hanging sleeve completed the makeover.

Original

Revised

Do I think these pieces are now wonderful? No, but I think they are improved. My initial inspirations have been tempered with layers and more clarity in my intent, I believe. I’ve learned that a piece can take its own sweet time in revealing what it is meant to be.

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Completed Projects

A Fun Start To The Year

The excuse of a fresh new year spurred me to leapfrog over waiting projects to begin something new and fun. Of course it was conceived in 2018, but it was officially born this week.

I’m talking about my “Disco Woks,” a small (20 by 27 inches) piece made up of almost all non-natural fibers. There’s a bit of Marcia Derse fabric and silk kimono, but the rest is synthetic glitz.

It originated in a play session with slithery, shiny fabrics culled from the theater costume scrap bin and contributions from scrap hoarders (you know who you are.)

I made the woven piece during the play session and then added bits from my hoard to supplement scraps I had scrounged at the session. The woven piece became one bowl, while the Easy Pattern material was paint sprayed over a place mat stencil and cut in half to make two more bowls. I used the coppery tulle to cover one of the bowls, but some of the other materials didn’t fit. The background ombre fabric came from the costume shop.

Construction details – I used leftover curtain lining material to back the whole thing as fabric weights differed, and fused the background fabric on with WonderUnder. I made the bowls by sewing lightweight non-woven fusible interfacing onto the “good” bowl, then turning the whole thing inside out and fusing the interfacing to the bowl with my iron. I zigzagged the completely finished edges to the background. Other bits also were sewn onto the background, though the bowl rims were added after quilting.

As to the name, I had pondered using the Chinese pottery celadon green and cinnebar colors as inspiration, but I ended up succumbing to the glitter. I did pay homage to the orient with the woks.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

My Work In 2018

If the proof is in the pudding, then my quilt pudding reflects my love of color. In 2018 improv continued to be my default way to start a piece, though three pieces – Rococo, Sunset on Main, and Ohio-Erie Canal – were planned from sketches. While I bought fabric, I focused on my scraps and cloth I had changed in some way with dye, paint, print, etc.

When I begin my design with fabric, color usually dominates, and any “meaning” evolves with the piece. In past years I tried to create work with meaning. This year I just let whim take over, especially when I didn’t have set prompts to respond to.

I think all my work for the year is above, but I may have missed some. I didn’t include quilts I’ve reworked, nor ones that aren’t yet finished. If you click on one of the photos you’ll be able to see a slideshow of all of them.

Three, possibly four, of my 2018 quilts are based on patterns and/or templates developed by others. For “Church Windows” I actually read the directions. The rest I put together based on my best guess. Three were for an Ohio SAQA bullseye quilt challenge. One, “Siriusly,” was for a dog challenge. The Ohio-Erie Canal piece was for a map quilt challenge. That leaves about eleven pieces I dreamed up for no particular reason. Sometimes my fabric bits said, hey, let’s play.

It’s always interesting to see which of my pieces appeal to others, and which are my favorites. Often, they differ. The process of making a piece certainly influences my fondness for it. I enjoyed making “Sur La Table,” “All Decked Out,” and “Bullseye Bubbles.” I was frustrated while making “Ohio-Erie Canal” and “All Fly Away.” The former challenged me to integrate historical information with an aesthetically pleasing design. I learned a lot more history than is usual with a quilt. The latter showed me that decisions I thought were right in design terms weren’t. I’m holding onto it as a lesson in humble pie. In fact, I don’t think the photo shows the completed quilt, and I can’t find one anywhere. (Update: I found the piece and photographed it last night. I did improve it a bit but it still needs work and I don’t think it’s worth it.)

All Fly Away

Of course I made lots of custom fabric, especially on non-woven Easy Pattern material. I’ve developed a fondness for stencils and have more than doubled my stencil collection. Dyeing has taken a back seat to painting as it is physically more demanding and just plain messy. One fun way to avoid work play is to add more layers to previous surface design experiments.

Because of my aging joints I steered away from complex piecing and fancy (as if!) FMQ. It’s a bit painful to do fiddly work and I get frustrated when complex mechanics just don’t work with clumsy fingers. I tried to build complexity through my fabric choices. When I used small pieces they usually had been cut several years ago. Thanks, Bonnie Hunter.

Overall, in 2018 I consolidated my skills but made no breakthrough pieces. In part, that’s because I let go of any notion of cutting edge work and focused on making in ways I enjoyed.

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Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects

Crunch Time

All my procrastinations are coming due and I am resembling the proverbial headless chicken. I have only myself to blame, of course, as these are self-imposed tasks.

First, a bit of background. I am not a holiday kind of person. While I’m not Scrooge, I do my best to ignore all the craziness of shopping and baking. Instead, I substitute my own kind of craziness which involves completion of various quilting/sewing related tasks.

Some tasks are done. “Flower Power” is quilted and bound.

Flower Power

Flower Power detail

I have sewn hanging sleeves onto seven small quilts so I can now display them. My art quilt group small glitzy scraps piece is done. Actually it’s overdone, which is why I’m calling it “Kitchen Sink Included.” I don’t embroider much, but when I do I leave no surface untouched.

Kitchen Sink Included

I’ve made progress with two reworked quilts, made a top for a baby quilt, and rethought “Deep Purple” a bit, thanks to your comments.

This baby quilt is made of scrap squares with yardage for the edges.

Still awaiting attention is another scrap piece I’m calling “Square Deal.” I want to make it more off-kilter.

I’m thinking of adding more escapees.

And, because I had a box of gauzy, glittery, silky scraps on my sewing table, I started playing around with another glitzy design. Unfortunately, I think it’s going nowhere, but it will be a distraction for a bit.

I’m plugging away at hand work on one of my revised old quilts as I wait for my fabric shipment so I can return to work on “Deep Purple.” I’m also pondering the best way to attach bits of silver lame to another revised quilt.

In a totally unrelated development, Rayna Gillman featured two of my quilts on her blog. She asked readers to send in examples of improv quilts, so I did.

Holiday best wishes to those of you who celebrate Christmas, and happy solstice to everyone.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, In Process

Cornering My Scraps

As I have noted before, I have a thriving scrap fabric collection. Some are even already sewn together. I like to pet these pre-made quilt beginnings in hopes of inspiration. Some time in October I decided to sew a group of hectically colored scraps together.

I sliced lengths of multi fabric strips in half and inserted narrow strings. I added to and lopped off bits to even up my rounds. Eventually I came up with the following.

Beginning of “Turning The Corner”

I liked the effect but wanted to give more weight to the left side and bottom. So, I added wider lengths of Marcia Derse fabric and more angled strips.

I finally quilted the top at the beginning of November. I used 30 weight variegated cotton thread, and extended some of the strips into the Marcia Derse fabric with quilting lines.

detail

I find the colors cheerful as I catch drifting snowflakes out of the corner of my eye. If I can’t go to the heat, I’ll try to bring the heat to me.

I’m linking this to Off The Wall Friday.




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Sticking The Finish

I love having boring but necessary finish work to fall back on when I get stuck on new stuff. My deep purple project (no, you haven’t seen it) needs wall time, so I turned to binding two projects.

Neither is especially original, though I like to think I’ve put my own spin on them. “Church Windows” is a smaller version of a Victoria Findlay Wolfe project, and “Twinkle, Twinkle” is my riff on the “Rock Star” quilt I spotted on Pinterest.

I wrote about “Church Windows” before I quilted it. The quilting was a bit tricky as I went with a wool batting. My reasoning was it would make for a warmer, lighter lap quilt. The batting became an issue after I washed it half way through the quilting process and the quilt puffed up like a startled cat.

Oh, why did I wash it? I sprayed what I assumed were water erasable blue pen marks with water after I did part of the quilting. Turns out I assumed wrong. I used many kinds of pens to trace around templates for the pieces in order to see my lines, and one/some of those bled horribly with water. The bleeding came out with a wash, but the batting really fluffed up in the dryer. Then I had to tamp it down for the second round of quilting.


“Church Windows” 39 by 57″

You can see how puffy it got.

Luckily, quilting “Twinkle, Twinkle” went smoothly, however boring a one inch diagonal grid is to quilt.


“Twinkle, Twinkle” 40 by 47″


“Twinkle, Twinkle” detail

I used up many, many scraps on this one, but I fear my scrap boxes are gearing up for the winter breeding season.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


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Filed under Completed Projects