Category Archives: In Process

Target Practice

The Ohio chapter of SAQA was inspired by the exhibit, “Circular Abstractions,” to start a bullseye quilt challenge.  I poked around to see if I could find anything about the history of the bullseye block, but have come up empty.

See the source image

Not to worry. I think you’ll get the idea without any words.

The chapter is holding online meetings to discuss approaches and even an in-person sewing afternoon to work on our projects.

I decided to build some bulleyes first and worry about their placement later. A rummage through my scraps piles gave me enough material for two different approaches.

One is based on Jane LaFazio’s Recycled Circles, a method featured in “Cloth Paper Scissors” magazine [March 2009 issue].

With this technique you machine quilt a 12 inch quilt sandwich, cut it in quarters, and then fuse on scrappy curves. The idea is to make each quarter unique. You machine or hand stitch the fused curves down, and add as many embellishments as you like. You can zigzag sew the quarters together or treat them however you like. I chose to keep spaces between the quarters.

The machined stitched part of Bloodshot Bullseyes is done and I’m starting a lot of hand stitching. The quarter squares are zigzag stitched to red felt, and each fabric arc is sewn down with decorative machine stitches.

For my second approach I constructed crazy pieced pentagons with light and dark rings. Most feature blue and blue/green fabrics as I seem to have lots of those colors in my scraps. The shapes are angular rather than rounded, but I think they convey the idea of a bullseye.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I had enough pentagons (and a few hexagons) to create two pieces. My attempts to put them all into one looked  too cluttered. Rather than piece the pentagons to the background, I decided to machine sew each down to  the background fabric. I’ll cut out the fabric behind them to reduce bulk. That’s happened already with the composition below.

My second crazy bulleye is still in flux.

I predict the final version will look different than this. Already I’m contemplating sheer overlays and playing with shape placement. I’m thinking of quilting pentagons with heavy thread to continue the theme.  Unless I radically change my plan, each pentagon piece should finish around 30 by 36 inches.

Both approaches have given me lots of quality time with my scraps collection, and a chance to feel virtuous as I use some of it up.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

If You Cut It Small Enough…

… ugly fabric won’t look so ugly. At least that’s what Bonnie Hunter told us at a long ago workshop. She was dealing with millenium fabric, which was truly godawful. I tried to find an example to show you, but it seems to have been banned from the internet.

Because I had less than wonderful results in some pieces from my Sue Benner paint/print dye workshop. I wanted to cut those up. I thought a pattern called Flux, designed for Art Gallery Fabrics, would work to punch up my fabrics with bold solids and impose a grid order on them. While I used the same dye colors in my fabrics, the patterns were all over the place.

My plan worked, kind of. The pattern calls for increasing the size of the center blocks with each row from the center. It turned out more of each fabric was needed than I had. I decided to use the same fabric on the diagonals rather than in rows to eke out my supplies. I still didn’t have enough fabric, so I threw in a commercial fabric from Joann’s clearance bin.

Here’s my original sketch. Nothing like good old graph paper. The interior squares are crooked because I cut them out, colored them separately to give myself more flexibility and set them down on my foundation grid. At this point I still hadn’t decided on the center of the design. I ended up trying at least two different schemes for that area.

In fabric that translated to this.

I’ve called it “Trip Around Columbus” as a tribute to the trip around the world effect. Because it’s 56 inches square, I may have it quilted on a longarm.

I remade some of the squares because the first fabrics I chose just didn’t work. Those rejects gave me enough material to make a go-with wall hanging, called “Fractured Trip Around Columbus.”

I bet you thought I never used patterns. If someone else has done the work, why should I reinvent the wheel.

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Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

My Scrap-a-thon

I store my fabric scraps in containers of big chunks, little chunks, and strips. I have been known to rummage in trash cans after a group sewing session. My parents were children of the great depression so I absorbed the lesson to save leftovers by their example. When I noticed that I couldn’t fit the lid on my container of less than 1.5 inch wide strips I decided it was time to create fabric out of those strips. (I also have containers of 1,5 inch, 2 inch, and 2.5 inch strips.)

Here’s what was left after I pulled out all the strips I thought I could use. These leftovers are mostly multi-colored prints that don’t play well with others and want to hog the show. Some of the strips even ended up in the trash.

First I sorted the strips into color families and values.

Then I sewed the strips together. I’ll treat these as whole pieces of cloth when I use them, even though some (such as that pink in the purple) contain zingers.

Of course, I found other candidates for cloth making in my “to be filed” pile, so I sewed them together, too.

My boxes of small chunky scraps are next up for fabric creation. I have an idea to make a crazy quilt bullseye piece for an Ohio SAQA challenge. Wow, I sure have a lot of blue and blue-green scraps.

In case you think I’m a bit obsessive about scrap hoarding collecting, check out this quilter’s organization system.

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Filed under Commentary, In Process, Techniques

My Nancy Series

I just can’t seem to get serious about quilt series. Usually I lose steam about the third or fourth iteration, and my current series is no exception.

As is often the case, my Nancy series began by accident. I attended a presentation on Nancy Crow’s way to create quilts, and we attendees played around with slicing and dicing solids using her methods. I sewed together most of the solids scraps I owned to create several starts of what I’ll call pieced cloth.

The first completed top was “Not Quite Nancy,” in which I included prints and circles. Many of you commented on this one while it was in process, and it is the better for those comments. The tag at the top is the dimensions.

Next, I finished off a smaller piece I named “Nearly Nancy” as it was made totally with solids. Oops, there’s one bit of almost solid fabric. I think the binding color sets off the other colors nicely. It’s actually quilted.

Then, I went Anni Albers with “Nod To Nancy,” which is more regularly pieced, though still asymmetrical. It’s quilted but the edges need to be finished. The waviness is in my piecing, not your screen.

Finally I devised “So Not Nancy,” which features two densely pieced blocks surrounded by shades of red and a bit of blue fabric I dyed. The large unpieced blocks run counter to the Crow method of dense piecing.

Right now I have just a few pieced fabric starts left. They’re in my parts department so they may show up in future work. Of course, I have yet to quilt two of the above tops, so it’s not like I have nothing to do. I expect you noticed I quilted the smaller ones first.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, In Process

It Seemed Like A Good Idea

A few months ago I wrote about Wen Redmond’s book “Digital Fiber Art” and my confusion about how to proceed with her techniques. So I was glad to see steps to follow in her article in the latest Quilting Arts about how to transfer a photo to cloth. Of course I had to try out the technique.

I made my base fabric collage with scraps that included an old tee shirt mop up rag that had turned lovely pastel shades.

Then, I covered a black and white inkjet copy of a photo from my Around Here series with mat gel medium per the directions and rubbed it onto the fabric base.

Once that dried I moistened it and rubbed away the paper to (hopefully) leave the transfer print behind. At this point my results diverged from the instructions. Either too little or too much of the paper came off, so some of the edges were jaggedy. Maybe I didn’t apply enough gel medium. More important, the photo looked really dark.

I thought I could brighten it up with big stitches.

After three colors of perle cotton I decided it was still too dark, so I moved on to machine stitching. Then I got the bright idea to highlight the light areas with metallic paint.

That turned out way too garish, so I tried sanding the painted areas to tone them down. I found that gel medium stands up well to sanding with fine sandpaper. Unfortunately, it didn’t remove as much of the paint as I had hoped.

Right now my experiment resides in the drawer of shame. Lessons learned:

-choose a photo with a lot more light areas and just a few dark lines

-do a practice photo transfer before the one that counts

-remember that subtlety isn’t my strong point, and there’s a fine, but definite, line between subtle and dreary.

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Filed under In Process, Project Ideas, Techniques

Very Short Term Memory Loss

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” you know how I’ve felt the past week. If you haven’t, let me explain. About a week ago I began to work on a long delayed paper templates project that I designed from a drawing. Here’s the genesis of the drawing.

I believe the final result succeeded in abstracting the object.

I enlarged my drawing and made freezer paper templates for the pieces. Each piece was carefully numbered and color coded, and the sewing order was worked out. The idea was the actual sewing would be a no brainer, just cut out and join the pieces in the already numbered sequence.

I selected a white, gray and black palette, with one color. Originally that color was to be green, but I didn’t like that and ended up using a very muted red.

On day one of sewing I used my master drawing for the big picture and cut out the freezer paper pieces. I ironed the freezer paper to my fabrics and cut out the pieces, leaving a quarter inch seam allowance. Then I saw I forgot to mirror image my freezer paper, and the freezer paper was on the inside, not the outside, of my fabric pieces when I put them together to sew.  I remade the freezer paper templates for my first section, reversing the image this time.

On day two I moved on to the second section. After cutting out two pieces of fabric I realized I forgot to remake the freezer paper pieces, so I stopped and redid the templates for section 2. Then, I ironed the now correctly mirror imaged pieces to my fabrics. Oops, I ironed them to the wrong (right) side of the fabric so I peeled off the pieces and began again, ironing the paper to the correct side (which is the wrong side) of the fabric.

Days three and four were a repeat of day two, only with the third and fourth sections. Apparently my brain was reset each night and failed to remember the mirror image reversal needed. At least I discovered my mistake sooner on days three and four and wasted less fabric. I did spend time each day holding two pieces of fabric up and thinking, which way do they go now?

I resewed section four three times as I changed my mind about the color, so I got lots of practice in ironing the templates to the correct side of the fabric.

In defense of paper piecing, you have less chance of repeating your errors if you’re sewing to one paper pattern than if you’re using individual templates. In further defense, I’m sure the templates technique works better if you have a properly functioning brain that doesn’t delete hard won knowledge overnight.

The final top has a few additions because the cut and dried path didn’t work so well for me. So much for advance planning.

 

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Filed under Commentary, In Process, Techniques

Closing In On Finished Work

This spring I seem to find it difficult to “close” some quilts. I’m trying to be disciplined and finish WIPs before I plunge into new endeavors, but it’s hard to return to pieces that have lost momentum.

My “Mean Streets” is almost completely free motion quilted, but I’m hemming and hawing about final touches.

My girls have received some stitching attention, and are now attached to the already quilted top, along with some waves. I need to settle on a hot air balloon arrangement and sew them down.

“Stripes 3” has tied me up in knots about how to treat the edges. I finally added some squares (after trying many arrangements) and called it done, more out of exhaustion than artistic clarity. I did incorporate suggestions made by my readers. It’s tucked away in a closet awaiting its turn to be quilted. The tag at the top is to remind me of the piece’s dimensions.

I actually completed one quilt this spring, “Repurposed/Resurfaced,” which uses many fabrics I printed and painted, plus one commercial aboriginal print.

I was pleased when a member of one of my art quilt groups said this quilt made her happy. Recently Elizabeth Barton wrote about why people buy the art they do. Her perspective is it’s a work’s content, rather than the technical skills it displays, that attracts a buyer. Technical skills aside, I know “Mean Streets’ will not be at the top of most people’s must have list – too dark.

I can see that my closet is filling up with work to be quilted, a sure sign I need to switch gears. Of course, I still need to decide if all the tops are worth quilting. Some were made to use up partial blocks and fabric experiments. What leads you to just let a top go and not quilt it?

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, In Process