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

Why Didn’t I Think Of That

The gullibility of sophisticates in NYC never ceases to amaze me. The NY Times‘ Sunday Styles Section had a writeup about Naomi Mishkin, an artist and “budding fashion designer whose work frequently takes everyday objects and subverts them with a clever, feminist-skewed twist.” One of her pieces “took a traditional dress form and remodeled it after her own torso, complete with a slight paunch and sagging shoulders.” Gosh, it turns out my grandmother had art in her sewing room.

My favorite creations by Ms Miskin are a scarf made of fabric that looks like a cutting mat, and a white cotton shirt with an iron burn scorched on its front. That’s right, the shirt, called Bad Wife Shirt, is scorched with a vintage British iron. The limited edition shirt can be yours for a mere $180. That’s wrong on so many levels, starting with Bad Wife.

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I Crave Color

Winter finally got around to northeast Ohio and has been busy dumping lots of snow and wildly gyrating temperatures on us Buckeyes. One day it’s 40 degrees; the next it’s 10 degrees. My nonessential activities shrink in such weather, so I devote myself to adding color to bits of fabric.

So far I’ve used Marabu fashion spray paints and Jacquard textile paints, but hope to take on Dye-na-flow paints and a gelli plate as well. My base fabrics, none larger than a fat quarter, were previous failures and some vintage linens. With the exception of one stamp, I used stencils to create my designs this go-round. Most of my stencils are from Stencil Girl, which offers a large selection of all sorts and sizes. (No paid promotion, just my opinion.)

Large leaf stencil applied with Jacquard and spray paint on top of painted dye failure.

Marabu spray paint over thermofaxed linen

Marabu spray paint on stencil over dye print

Vintage linen stamped with sprayed on paint
Two colors of Jacquard paint through stencil over thermofaxed damask
Spray paint through lace curtain and stencil over commercial fabric

Spray paint and Jacquard paint through stencil over silk

As you can see, some of my experiments have splotches. Spray paint is hard to control and can drip. I’m not showing other attempts that either were good for nothing but the trash or need more layers. Now I need to figure out how to use my creations. Of course, I could always have them printed out and make yardage from them.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

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Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process

If The Shoe Fits

For a few months in 2018 I photographed shoes on people’s feet at rest and in motion. Why shoes? One of my volunteer jobs requires me to spend time in a theater lobby, and sometimes I have nothing immediate to do. I began to observe the groups in the lobby and became interested in what they did with their feet. I used my phone to take photos and a series was born.

Theater lobby

I also took photos of people waiting in lines at an art exhibit and generally hanging around. Since I had so many shoe photos I stopped, and concentrated on digitally reworking some of the photos, using what skills I remembered from my PhotoShop Elements class.

After a deep dive into PhotoShop’s effects and filters and a frustrating time sizing the edited photos for printing, I had a bunch printed off by Spoonflower in an eight by eight inch format. I used a bulk test print format Spoonflower offers. The results were a bit mixed. I should have standardized my photos more. But I had enough to combine into a quilt.

Pointilized sneakers before resizing

The next step was to devise a layout with the 8 inch squares. I sure wasn’t going to cut them up. After several days and reworkings I settled on one. Then, in a moment of genius or severe derangement, I decided to do the squares as three separate panels held together with laced up grommet tape.

Through Etsy I found Lace and Trims, which provided a reasonably priced product and speedy shipping. While I waited I quilted my panels in a simple diagonal pattern. Then, I sewed strips of the grommet tape to the panel sides and bottoms. It was tricky to avoid the grommets, yet sew on the tape. Looking back, I should have paid more attention to the width of the tape and the spacing of the grommets.

After the tape was on, I sewed a hanging sleeve across the tops of the panels (the only point at which the panels are sewn to each other) and turned under that edge. I will hand sew the sleeve’s bottom edge, along with bits I couldn’t machine sew because of the grommets. One broken sewing machine needle was enough.

Now I’m lacing up the grommet tape with various cordings and need to decide whether to try a single color or a mix. Right now I lean toward red cord for the contrast.

Black cord on left, silver in middle, red on right

I never realized there are so many ways to lace shoes. Check out some of the possibilities here.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under In Process, Techniques

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

Inspiration From Illustrations

I’m not doing artistic endeavors this year, but I can’t help passing along goodies that appeal to me. Case in point, magazine covers by Ryo Takemasa. Here are covers he did for NON Magazine that I thought could translate well into fabric.

Each of these illustrations would take just the right fabric – bought or painted/printed to bring the image to life. The trees above the waterfalls could be done by printing with a cut out sponge. I’m not advocating breaking copyright laws by using these images, but such simplified images could be an interesting way to create quilted landscapes.

Takemasa’s website shows yet more examples of his work. I hope his work inspires you to approach design in new ways.

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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