Thursday, April 10, 2014

new kathy doughty book and some news...

While busy sewing the test quilt that I wrote about here, some very enticing things arrived in the mail. I forced myself to put Material Obsession Kathy Doughty's new book aside until I could look at it properly. Like all her others, it is filled with innovative designs and creative mixes of fabrics. The way she talks about her process and suggests ways to develop and expand upon your own is particularly interesting. After my recent improv experience, using a ruler or template seemed kind of unappealing until I saw "Vintage Spin".

It is an intriguing pattern with lots of movement and already beautiful versions are popping up everywhere. Kathy challenges her readers to stop collecting fabric and start using it especially older prints that may have been sitting on a shelf for years. I have a huge collection of check shirtings purchased and thrifted ages ago with the intention of making shirts for M. I decided to combine some of them with a Joel Dewberry fat quarter bundle.

For "Vintage Spin", you sew wedges into circles and then cut them down to square blocks. This is my first one. Mine differs from the original in that my wedge is a different angle so there are 4 extra blades. This technique produces a fair bit of waste so you must check out the most amazing blocks Wanda made with her leftovers.  This is a fun design and making the blocks could become pretty addictive...

Lastly, am so excited to shyly write that my improv quilt was picked as a potential contribution to Sherri Lynn Wood's "The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters"! It was shipped to the photographer on Monday. I don't want to jinx myself as it could end up on whatever the publishing equivalent is of the cutting room floor but have fingers crossed and am smiling euphorically.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

folk art masterpiece...

Here is another beautiful (and sold- sadly not to me) quilt from 1stDibs. I love the fresh colors on the crisp background and the charming variety of the motifs. It is not often that you see a giraffe and a whale in the same quilt! It was aptly described by the dealer as a folk art masterpiece.

It has me thinking about making an applique quilt of my own with images of horses. I rode for years and have been toying with the idea of starting again. My fear is that if I fall off, I won't bounce like I used to. It might be safer and satisfying to sew a quilt. Am thinking solids or small prints on a pale grey background- something to make leisurely over the next year or two... 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

binding quilts...

The incredible Sherri Lynn Wood is coming out with a book called "The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters" to be published in Spring 2015. I was thrilled to be a test quilter which means I have been squirrelled away for the last few weeks sewing my brains out in every free moment to meet the deadline. Only a few of the test quilts will make it into the book but there will be an online gallery where everyone's work can be viewed with the book's release. Whether mine makes it into the actual publication or not, it was a fantastic experience and I learned an enormous amount. The scraps above are what I can show until next year...

I did use 2 tools to finish the quilt which I wanted to recommend. The first is Clover's Wonder Clips. I've used clothes pins before to bind a quilt but these were far superior. They are small, super strong and the bended edge fits neatly around the binding to hold it securely in place while you sew. There is no distortion, shifting or potential injury like with pins. They come in different sizes and although expensive have become more widely available. When they are on sale, am going to snap more of them up...

The second tool I used is TMQ's The Binding Tool. It made for a foolproof finish in joining the beginning and ending of the binding. I  found the written instructions hard to follow which is probably my own failing but Missouri Quilt Co has maded this great video which explains how to use the tool perfectly...

Am excited to catch up on favourite blogs and Instagram in the next couple of days so expect a flurry of comments on all your beautiful work!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

challenge 4 art #4...

The Challenge 4 Art group theme for this quarter was "SPACE". I decided to do a straight interpretation and was inspired by galactic nebula which are interstellar rings made of dust clouds and gases. You can see lots of beautiful images here.

While the most photographed examples are quite bright, the majority are subtle in color. I cut out rings backed with fusible interfacing.

After adhering them to the background, I used a decorative stitch in grey thread to finish the edges and blend them with the background.

The quilting is echo on the black only to accent the rings.

I was really taken with Amy's beautiful handwork for "WINTER" in our last challenge and was going to embroider stars. In the end I decided to keep the quilt very abstract, low contrast and moody.

Check out what LisaAmy and Claudia created for "SPACE"!

Lily's Quilts

Saturday, February 22, 2014

less ironing...

One of the peculiarities of being a textile person is that I'll spend hours pressing, steaming and blocking hand knits, newly sewn seams or the most fiddly quilt blocks but hate ironing ready made clothing. Since Mary Ellen Best Press is a great alternative to starch, was curious to try "I Hate Ironing" on one of my husband's shirts and some badly wrinkled fabric scraps.

You spray the wrinkled item, smooth with your hands and hang to dry or lay flat in the case of my test scraps. The product is non-toxic and biodegradable. It worked really well on the scraps but I was more interested in the clothing test of the dreaded men's shirt.  Here is the shirt before:

And the fairly fantastic after!

For a dress shirt you would definitely want to break out the iron but for casual attire or last minute pressing this product is a worthy addition to the laundry room.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

wearable art...

Found this interesting Christian Lacroix outfit at 1st Dibs and it got me thinking about wearable art. This ensemble is from the 90's and is made of elaborately quilted and embroidered patchwork silks. Last year Material Obsession was selling some exquisite kantha coats which were very tempting. At textile shows, I've seen some beautiful quilted kimono style jackets and some less successful sweatshirt conversions. Have always avoided making anything like them as I am rounder than I'd like to be and have never met a "slimming" quilt. May need to rethink my prejudice. Have any of you ever made quilted clothing? Wearable art-tacky or tremendous? Thoughts?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

vintage beauty...

Am sewing away but on two top secret projects for other people so unfortunately I can't show what I've been up to. Instead, here is a beautiful antique quilt made in the 1870's and ripe for re-interpretation (or purchase if you are feeling flush!). Since I'm obsessed with sewing all my strings and scraps together to make fabric these days, those strips and crazy pieced flying geese are particularly inspiring...

Monday, January 20, 2014

focus 2014....

My first finish of the year is a small banner for Victoria Findlay Wolfe's word challenge over at 15 Minutes Play. I chose "FOCUS" as my mantra for 2014. I realized that I am too easily distracted by new combinations of fabrics, techniques and ideas. I tend to lose interest in a project once I can see how it will turn out. This year I will pay more attention to the act of making and completing something and not just its design. In life in general, I want to focus more on the people and things that are truly important to me.

My "made" fabric is a little more ordered. I had a bunch of narrow strips of varying widths which were sewn together randomly in stacks of roughly 2". These were then joined into one giant strip.  I folded this strip in half and sewed down one side like in a Jelly Roll Race. I kept folding the piece and sewing down one side until I had a large rectangle. It was a very fast way to make fabric...

Next I created a stencil on freezer paper of my word which was then ironed to my fabric...

Using Liza Prior Lucy's front basting technique I sewed around my letters to attach the colored backing to the charcoal overlay. My variation is that I use the machine to front baste rather than sewing around each shape by hand. I find it faster and I get a better crease to turn the edge. I cut away the excess grey to reveal the striped fabric behind. The letters were sewn using reverse applique.

It was fun to participate in this challenge and I hope that the resolution to FOCUS in 2014 is one that I keep...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

cool vintage...

Check out this cool vintage quilt on Ist Dibs. It is made of automotive advertising patches and name tags sewn onto an olive base. Love it!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

happy new year and hello radiant orchid...

We live in one of 300,000 homes in our city that lost power for days after the ice storm ravaged Canada and the US. I won't go into the unpleasant details since this blog is already in danger of having weather posts supplant textile related ones. Thankfully, it is over and we are now WARM.

Pantone's color of the year for 2014 is "Radiant Orchid" so we will now see this purple showing up in everything from fabric, clothing and home dec items although unlike 2013's "Emerald" probably not in cars. On the screen, this shade looks like Robert Kaufman's Kona Pansy although on my Pantone fan deck it is more like Violet with magenta added. I loved last year's green but like to experiment with every new "color of the year". It is always a good exercise trying something new. Where do you stand on this one- Love it or hate it?

Happy New Year! See you in 2014...

Monday, December 16, 2013

retro clean...

As for many, it is a busy time of year and my hours other than work seem to consist of shopping, wrapping and shipping gifts to far-flung family members and friends. Wanted to give an update on the dirty Dresden blocks that I first blogged about here.  After some research, I found this product called Retro Clean that is nothing short of miraculous. It is a cleaning soak that removes yellowing, mildew and all kinds of stains from vintage fabrics. In the interests of "science" I have taken both before and after shots in the same place and in roughly the same light. Here is one of the blocks before...

You can soak the fabric for up to 36 hours but I chickened out after 12. The amount of yellow dirt that immediately came out was incredible...

A quick rinse and wash and here is the result. The after picture does not do true justice to how renewed the blocks look. I wish I'd left them in for even longer. This level of cleaning has made me re-think donating a number of ancient linens and vintage embroideries.

"Retro Clean" and "Retro Wash" are so good, they'll make you feel like Billy Mays!

Friday, December 6, 2013

rest in peace...

Former South African President Nelson Mandela stands before an AIDS quilt during a World AIDS Day function in Bloemfontein,
South Africa, Sunday Dec. 1, 2002.

Monday, December 2, 2013

challenge 4 art #3...

The theme of our online art group Challenge 4 Art for this quarter was WINTER. Canada is a country which has a long and cold one. You have to embrace it or go crazy. One of the first signs that winter is coming is when the snow fences go up everywhere. They are made of a very distinctive orange plastic mesh and help direct drifting snow. They delineate cliffs, river banks and roads whose edges might be otherwise dangerously obscured. To make my piece, I took a shot of my dog playing in the first light snow of the season that thankfully did not stay on the ground for long.

I edited the shot in iPhoto- cropping out Her Majesty and bumping up the color saturation. I played with an arrangement of multiple images before printing them on silk organza. The organza came in pre-prepared sheets from Dharma Trading which is the most phenomenal supply house for textile crafts of every kind.


The organza prints were sewn together with the paper backing on to prevent slippage. Then the paper was removed. Originally I planned to use the sheer printed organza over a background fabric for a ghost-like effect until I made an exciting (to me) discovery...

Quite by accident my test shot ended up on a shiny piece of foil fabric from a Halloween costume. The effect was fascinating. Because the foil fabric mirrors back the image it saturates the colors and makes the photos look 3D like those of a vintage View-Master. Here is another shot with a fabric strip in the middle so that you can see the flat "before" and stereoscopic "after".

In my challenge piece, the fabric slightly glistens behind the snow fence collage. I used gift wrap tape to hold the translucent print and foil fabric together (spray mount showed through as a splotch), then layered and quilted the piece. It was really easy to sew.

The finished mini is about 10" square. As in the other challenges, trying new techniques has been so much fun. While I have mixed feelings about my finished quilt, I am thrilled with the discovery of layering the reflective fabric behind the sheer. The next experiment will be making my own silk organza sheets for a large format printer using freezer paper for a backing. The paired fabrics are so light and colorfast you could make clothing out of them with your own digital prints like the work of designer Mary Katrantzou. It is really hard to capture with the camera but this layering is a gorgeous effect and one that I'm definitely going to explore further...

Check out what everyone else made for WINTER!

Lisa: Love to Color My World
Amy: Crafty Shenanigans
Claudia will be back for challenge#4

Monday, November 18, 2013

blogathon canada...


This week is Blogathon Canada. You can travel across the country and meet lots of inspiring quilters. There are tons of cool blogs to check out and many prizes to be won! Here's the schedule for the week...

Monday, November 18
Monday, November 18
Tuesday, November 19
Tuesday, November 19
Wednesday, November 20
Wednesday, November 20
Thursday, November 21
Thursday, November 21
Friday, November 22
Friday, November 22
Saturday, November 23
Saturday, November 23