Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Would Benefit From More Quilting"

So that was the comment on my Kokeshi Dolls quilt when I got it back from the County Fair.  I decided since it is about to be submitted to another show that I should actually take the judge's advice and actually do more quilting on this one. 

I originally decided that I would try a different quilting pattern in each set of 3 blocks that constitute an actual single block of the quilt.  I meandered in one, then tried 'shells', kind of like what Leah Day calls 'Paisley Division', but with only 3 loops per paisley.  Then I did little loops that made a pebbly design, but not tight enough to be actual pebbles, or what Jill Schumacher calls 'seed pearls'.  I tried making little rainbows, which came out really cool, and which I based on Leah Day's 'Echo Shells'.  Then I created my own design, which is based loosely on meandering, but which I call 'Anne's echinoderms', a sort of 'worm-like' version of a meander.  Then I tried the one that intimidated me the most - McTavishing.  I'm not sure I got it right, but I did the best I could with it.  Pivoting designs like that really challenge me because I always want to keep going in the same direction. 

Here's a picture showing some of the new quilting:  Starting at the upper left and going clockwise, the quilting patterns are: Anne's echinoderms, shells, McTavishing, spirals and rainbows.

The finished quilt now looks like this:

From this photo it's really hard to tell that THAT much additional work was done on it, but trust me, it was hours of extra quilting, plus I had to go in and do detail quilting on the appliques as well, since heavily quilting around them made them all poofy without being trapuntoed and they sagged a little.

I have to say the judge at the County Fair was right - the quilt DOES benefit from additional quilting - thank you judge!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crossing Borders

I put the borders on my Ryokan quilt.  While they came out better than I'd hoped, with colors in the border that came from the quilt, I'm still not satisfied with them - they seem like the scale in the design is too small.  It has the elements I wanted - an 'architectural' feel, like masonry of some kind and very graphic.  Unfortunately, the squares of the 'blocks' are very small - about 1" each.  I guess I'm not going to change it now of course.  Here's a picture of it with the borders on:

I also completely requilted my Kokeshi Dolls quilt.  The comments from the judges at the last show it was in included what I knew they would. ("Quilt would benefit from more quilting").  So I quilted the background of every block.  In each 3-block section, I used a different background quilting 'pattern'.  I used McTavishing in one block (or my take on McTavishing that is), shells in another, meandering in another, and in two blocks I used what I call, 'Anne's Echinoderms' - it's kind of like a variation on meandering where I quilt long wormlike shapes.  Anyway - it was a lot of fun trying out all these different patterns.  Some of these were completely new to me (like the shells, and McTavishing), and some were old friends (meandering, and the Echinoderms). 

I was inspired for some of the quilting by designs from Leah Day's website. I highly recommend her site and her book for wonderful inspiration and designs to practice and learn and expand upon.  I will try to get some photos of the quilt that show the quilting but that is so hard to get the lighting right to show the quilting when your thread color matches the fabric.

It was a lot of fun to do the quilting and I'm glad I did it before the October show that the quilt will be hanging in.  This one isn't juried or judged, but there are viewer's choice awards so I'm hoping the quilting will be noticed by those who visit the show.  I am also putting the Folk Art Cats quilt "Under the Jellicle Moon:" and "Sunset Sail" into the same show.  I don't think I've ever posted "Sunset Sail" here so this is it:

It's about 15" in diameter and I haven't hung it in my house because I can't figure out how to make a sleeve for it.  Silly reason, but it's the only one I have.  I do like this one, as I love boats and sailing.  I got the pattern from a magazine (my bad, I can't recall the name of the mag or the issue #).  It was done for a crayon challenge in which my colors were orange and blue.  We could add one additional color, mine was white, even though the white is actually a batik with a little bit of orange and blue in it, so technically it's not really white.  I hate that the picture is taken against a white background but I had nothing else to use at the time.  I need to take a new pic of this one just for editorial purposes. 

Anyway, I've been busy quilting and sewing in my new studio and loving it - doing things I wouldn't have done if I didn't have the studio set up, so that's a good thing.  I feel like I am getting some of my quilting mojo back again.  Amazing what a small change can do!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cosmic Light Show

So we went up to Mt. Pinos after all.  The thunderstorms all cleared out and it was clear and dark.  We got to see lots of meteors and stars.  But it got pretty cold as the evening progressed, so we decided to drive home around 12:30 am or so.  It was a fun night after all!

I am picking up my new machine today!  I have to drive out to Ventura anyway and the machine is in Carpenteria, not far from there, so I'm picking it up rather than having it shipped.  I get it faster AND save shipping costs - win-win!

Today I get to relax a little til about noon... then take a nice relaxing drive out to pick up quilts at the fair and get my machine.  It should be cooler out by the beach too, so another plus for going there mid-day.

Anyway, I'm being catted*, so got to go now.

*Generally annoyed by a cat, usually one who comes and sits on you and kneads or rubs or otherwise demands your sole and undivided attention.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Birthday Present

So today is my birthday and I bought a new sewing machine.  Well, not new new, but new to me.  I purchased another Bernina 440 on ebay today.  Another, you say?  Yes I already own a Bernina 440, but I need a machine I can take to classes and retreats without breaking down the one in my studio and dragging it around.  This one I can keep in a traveling case all the time.  I got a good deal on it - not great, but good.  And I look forward to picking it up, hopefully in the next day or two.  Pick up, you say?  Yes, the seller lives locally to me, so I don't have to pay for shipping. 

I'm very excited about my new birthday present, which is a good thing, because the rest of my birthday plans don't look like they will be coming to fruition.  We were all set to go to Mt. Pinos tonight and watch the Perseid meteor shower.  Unfortunately, Mt. Pinos and the entire Frazier Park area is experiencing thunderstorms.  In fact most of the Los Angeles area is ringed with thunderstorms, so there's like no direction we can go to watch the meteors where there isn't a lot of light pollution.  Sigh.

We are contemplating new plans but haven't made any concrete decisions yet.  What to do for my birthday?  I'd like to go see the new movie that's out 'Hope Springs', but since my friend who will be with us is fairly recently divorced, this might bring up painful thoughts, since it's about a couple that's been married a long time.  We could go out to dinner or something, but what do we do with the rest of the night?  I'm not a barhopper or partier really, so doing a pubcrawl or the like is out of the question.  I'm a lightweight when it comes to anything alcoholic.  My idea of heaven if we can't go see the meteor showers is to sit home and watch old movies or maybe even something on DVD, but that wouldn't be fun for my friend or my husband really.  Actually, my husband would probably enjoy it, but my friend wouldn't. 

Maybe I'll get an email from the seller on ebay and I can go pick up my new machine tonight.  That would be fun for me, but not for my friend or husband. 

We'll see what develops, I guess.

Maybe I'll stay home and sew on my old machine!  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Well that didn't work

Well, it didn't work the way I wanted it to.  I mixed russet paint with gold, and instead of coming out with a beautiful reddish gold, it came out pink.  And now the painted parts are getting stiff, so I don't want to paint over it again.  Sigh... anyway - here it is with the pink background on the flower block:

It may be darker but it still stands out too much imo. Oh well.  Hopefully it is balanced some by the two light blocks in the bottom row.  This is the part of quilting that always frustrates me - balancing color and value in the finished quilt.  I am never satisfied with my finished project.  Still, I have loved the process of making these blocks and putting it all together so I will live with the product as is.

I have been shopping for a new (used) machine.  I want another Bernina 440.  Not that there's anything wrong with the one I have.  I just want a second machine that I can travel with - go to retreats and classes.  They say you should do all your piecing on the same machine, so I figure getting a second 440 means I can piece on both machines and my 1/4 inch seam will be the same (or close enough) on both.  So far, I have lost every auction I've bid on.  I am trying to buy one directly, but so far the prices have been a little high.  Anyone out there know of a good used 440 I can buy cheap?

Tonight I am beating the heat at the local senior center (using the free internet there) and attending the 'Thursday Night Strippers' quilting group.  Billie Lauder has been coming and joining us and teaching some new and interesting techniques and other things.  It's been very fun.  And here I am on the computer... lol... some quilter, eh? 

Tomorrow they have called a flex alert for the entire state of California.  We are supposed to turn our air conditioners to 78 degrees.  I don't know if that's actually going to happen, but if it does, I will probably go someplace else... like back here to the senior center, where it's nice and cool.  I hate socal weather in the summer.   Too darn hot!!! 

Stay cool!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Paint and stuff

So I painted the center block of the Ryokan quilt because I didn't like it with a white background.  It came out sunny yellow and still stood out like a sore thumb, so I painted it a light gold, which still looked sunny yellow and still stands out like a sore thumb.  Here it is (with a border fabric I was auditioning):

So I borrowed some fabric paint from a friend.  The color was listed as 'Russet' and looked brick red.  I mixed it with some gold paint to tone down the red a little, and painted over the yellow.  It came out pink.  Bleh.  I can't take it back now.  It will just have to be pink - but at least it doesn't stand out so much anymore.  I will post a picture of that soon - as soon as I take another pic of it.

In the meantime, a quilting teacher I know asked me to bring and show an older quilt of mine to her class.  I'd forgotten all about this quilt.  It was made for a challenge - the challenge was to make a quilt that expressed who we were as individuals.  I couldn't think of anything more individual or unique to me as an individual than my fingerprint.  So I blew up my thumbprint and made appliques of all the little pieces and placed them on white fabric.  Quilted into the background are the words: "I.D., Therefore I am", which is coincidentally the name of the quilt.   Anyway, I thought I'd share the quilt here, since I don't think I ever have posted it on the blog before.

It was about 40 hours of work to painstakingly place all those little black pieces of fabric in the right places and fuse them down.  It is all raw edge applique (I'm crazy but not insane enough to needleturn something like this - I don't do needleturn applique anyway).  

Anyway, I saw Batman and didn't hate it.  Didn't like it as much as my husband did, but it was okay.  I thought the pacing was good enough and the effects were okay... it just didn't enthuse me and while the movie tied up all the loose ends of the trilogy, the ending was a little trite.  Just my 2 cents. 

Maybe someday I'll get to see a movie -I- want to see on our anniversary.  There always seems to be some science fiction or some such movie that he wants to see and we go to it because I always acquiesce.  Not that I don't like science fiction and superheroes - I do.  Just always seems that we end up seeing something for our anniversary that I'm not crazy about.  Ah well... such is life.

Tomorrow is mah jongg in the morning and maybe some quilting in the afternoon.  Now that I have a studio, I have no excuses not to sew or quilt!

I was reminded tonight why I do what I do - and that we are not sewers, we are artists... and we have to think of ourselves that way, even if we are traditional quilters.  It may not be entirely true - sometimes I don't feel much like an artist, but more like an artisan.  I go through the motions but I don't feel original enough to be an 'artist'.  I see the work other artists do and am inspired but also intimidated.  Do I have it in me to be that original or free to experiment?  I hope I can grow into it ..

Monday, August 6, 2012

Quilts at the County Fair

Well, today is my 30th anniversary.  Spent the morning at the County Fair, checking to see how the two quilts I entered did.  We had some of that yummy sweet corn-on-the-cob, walked around a while, were very good and didn't buy anything.   Tonight: dinner and a movie.  Not really looking forward to seeing Batman and I'm not sure why, but husband is all excited about it, so I guess we're going.

One of my quilts took an honorable mention - the comments on the quilt were pretty much what I expected - they liked the design and the bindings, but thought more quilting was needed.  I agree, just haven't found a matching thread color that I like with it yet.

Definitely needs more quilting.  Sigh... Maybe when I get it back?

My second quilt at the fair took a second place in its category, but also won a spotlight award, which is a big fancy ribbon.  I'm excited.

I hope I get to keep the ribbon!  (Last time one of my quilts got a big fancy ribbon, it was nominated for best in show at the Fair.  They displayed it with a big fancy 'nominated for' ribbon, which I didn't get to keep).

Anyway, I'm very happy with the results.

Tonight?  I'd rather stay home and watch gymnastics at the Olympics.  sigh....

In answer to a question in the comments section, the Kokeshi Dolls quilt was designed by Susan Claire of

The cat quilt was designed by John Simpkins and the pattern is available at

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Long Hiatus

I've been away a long time.  Haven't felt mch like working, so I haven't done a lot. Worked on a few projects, making small amounts of progress but nothing of note.  Depression or just lack of enthusiasm?  I'm not sure which.  Does it really matter?  Either way, not much has gotten done.

I've been a little down over the slow progress on my new studio.  My husband finally painted it (sans the trim and the door which are still unpainted.)  It is a pale mint green.  It's still hard to get around in there because it's still full of boxes of my son's stuff.  He took a lot of it, but just doesn't want most of what's left.  Some of what he does want, he didn't have room for in his car when he dropped by.   So, there are still boxes and bins  piled up in there.  But we did make room for my sewing table and set up my new design wall, covering it with flannel.

Here is my new design wall - not very impressive with nothing on it yet.

My sewing table - all ready for me to make a quilt - which I did!

My son's 'stuff' - before he sorted through it - there's still a lot left, sigh.

Anyway - I actually got to get into the room and start sewing again.  It was lots of fun, though I miss having a tv in the room to keep me company while I work.  Still, do I really need the distraction?  Plus, we'd have to wire the room for cable, since there was no active cable in the room already.  

Still, I did get to work.  There was a quilt called Ryokan that was published in Quiltmania magazine a while back.  Some friends and I decided to do block exchanges using the Ryokan blocks.  We recently finished all our blocks and exchanged them so I figured now was the perfect time to sew them all together.  I got them framed and sashed, though there are no borders on the quilt yet.


There were six of us inthe exchange and each of us made 6 each of two blocks.  My blocks were the flying geese (first block in the second row) and the flying dutchman (last block in the third row).  I really like how this one came out, though I am in a quandary on how to finish it.  I will use the sashing fabric to make the first 2 1/2" border but after that, I have no clue.  Piano keys would be too busy, in fact anything pieced that I can think of would be busy and detract from the individual blocks, but just a plain border sounds so ... well.. plain.  Any ideas or suggestions would be welcome!  :)

I hope I can keep up the small amount of momentum I've got and keep sewing, but I am past the point of wanting to just sew mindlessly.  I need goals!

A Mysterious start to the year

Well, I finished one of last year's mystery tops... The Meadow Mist Mosaic Mystery.  I have to say I really like how this one came out.....