Thursday, July 24, 2014
This has to be the weirdest marketing stategy. This is the label from the women's gardening gloves I just bought. Macho or what? Am not sure if I'm supposed to be weeding flower beds or on on some paramilitary special ops mission.
It seems symbolic as I've been at war with the manufacturer of my overpriced and over-engineered sewing machine. After months at headquarters it still couldn't sew a balanced stitch. It was very emotional as I've been loyal to the brand since I started sewing. My dealer is amazing. Even though he didn't sell me this machine he was so upset on my behalf he offered to trade it on the spot for no additional $$$. Have come home with a different brand a new Janome 8900 with a table and every optional accessory imaginable. Little time to sew but so far I love it. Between this and the portable Juki I am set up for life...
Hope all your sewing adventures have been peaceful!
Friday, July 11, 2014
I had a long list of grown up things to do this afternoon but decided to do some sewing instead and work on the quilt from the previous post. These disappearing hourglass blocks are still really fun to make. Maybe I am easily entertained but it still seems like magic when the pieces are rotated and the stars appear.
Am finding that the bias edges work in your favor as you can gently manipulate the fabric so that the seams nest without using pins at all. Except for the hourglass stage, there is no iron pressing either until the block is complete to avoid unnecessary handling which is saving a ton of time. The blocks are turning out remarkably similar in size. If they are off in any way they are off identically.
Sorry about the lousy photo but the camera phone was again closer. The lighting is not so great either. I'm experimenting with these new florescent floods in the hopes of reducing my electricity use but they create more of a spotlight effect compared to the wider glow of halogen bulbs. Not sure whether economy is going to win out on this one...
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Sometimes you need to make a quilt quickly for someone who won't appreciate your more improvisational efforts. Recently I found this pattern called "The Disappearing Hourglass" by the Missouri Star Quilt Company on Youtube. It was designed to use pre-cut layer cakes but you can use any size square. You need equal amounts of a solid or very tiny print and whatever prints you want to feature. I used some Kaffe Fassett fabrics and a blu-ish Kona grey which looks much darker in these not-so-great camera photos. The blocks are so easy to make and the process is really fun.
Take 2 squares in my case the solid and a print. Layer them and sew a ¼" around the edge:
Then cut them corner to corner:
Open up, press, arrange and sew together to create an hourglass block:
This is where it gets interesting. Cut the block in thirds. Mine measured 12 ¾" so my cuts were at 4 ¼" but yours will vary depending on the size of your initial squares. Cut from the center seams out:
By rotating the pieces, a star is born!
There are lots of bias seams but with a good dose of Best Press or starch at the start there are no problems assembling these stars.
In the original quilt the blocks are set straight but I'm leaning towards putting mine on point.
I'm always amazed by the engineering abilities of quilters. Thank you MSQC...
Friday, July 4, 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Friday, June 27, 2014
I try to keep the personal and particularly the negative personal off the blog but we have a sick (thankfully now relatively stable) family member who lives far away necessitating travel and life has been stressful. My brilliant but temperamental sewing machine is at the manufacturer's headquarters being overhauled with no return date in sight so I haven't been able to sew. Never realized how much I manage pressure by making things until now. Every time I'm worried my husband always suggests going to my studio to create something. It is a rare man who asks you to go out and buy an extra new sewing machine but mine did...
I decided to get the most pared down machine as close to being mechanical as possible with the longest throat I could find for similar reasons better articulated by Jacquie Gering in this post. At a fantastic price, I ended up buying a Juki 2010Q. So far, the whole experience is a love story. First impressions are that the stitch quality is perfect straight out of the box. It is also easy and straightforward to adjust upper and bobbin tensions as well as foot pressure. It is also nice to have a presser foot lever again as my most recent sewing machine does not. I love the simplicity of it. What few bells it has are good ones. They include an automatic thread cutter, sewing speed control, needle down, knee lifter and every foot including walking that a quilter or tailor could need. It is also semi-industrial which means it is solid but portable for workshops.
With no fiddling, I've been able to sew well mindlessly. The only problem I am having is that pressing the heel of the pedal on this machine cuts the thread as opposed to raising or lowering the needle as on my other one. I also can't figure out how to use the needle threader but the same issues arise assembling IKEA products from their diagrams so this is my problem. While I miss my regular machine and many of its innovations, am enjoying the reliability and lack of drama with this Juki- Absolutely love it!
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
It is always exciting to discover that one of your favorite quilters has written a book. Sujata Shah is an American artist who hails from India the country where legend Diana Vreeland famously declared that "pink is the navy blue" in reference to the people's love of color. Sujata's book is called "Cultural Fusion" and is available for pre-order. If you have never seen her quilts stop reading this and go immediately to her blog. Whether improvisationally pieced or derived from more traditional blocks her work is always a playful and exciting mix of vibrant hues and prints. I expect her book will contain more of this wonderful same and I can't wait to see it!
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
This is the longest I haven't sewn a stitch in as long as I can remember. This sad occurrence is due to other commitments capped off my my sewing machine's admission to the hospital. So thanks to some tips from quilty friends, I wanted to write about the Denver Art Museum which is exhibiting some of the most beautiful quilts in their collection. This gorgeous one is from Lancaster Pennsylvania and is dated to the late 1800's. The second was made by an unknown quilter in the same time period. It would be great to see all of the works in person but there is an exhibition catalog...
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Well I'm almost finished sewing the wedges for my vintage spin quilt from Kathy Doughty's latest book "Adding Layers". Am aiming for a sort of 70's thrift shop feel by mixing shirting fabrics with some modern prints. The only wrinkle is that I am chickening out when it comes to cutting the circles down to squares. Won't be near a sewing machine in a few weeks so I'd better "woman up" and get it done!
Friday, May 9, 2014
Don't know whether it is due to some sort of spring madness or giddiness over the end of winter but I've joined Pink Castle Fabrics Kawaii Fabric Club. Here is the dictionary definition of Kawaii:
"Kawaii, ("lovable", "cute", or "adorable") is the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture. It has become a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture, entertainment, clothing, food, toys, personal appearance, behavior, and mannerisms. The noun is kawaisa ("lovability", "cuteness" or "adorableness").
The term kawaii has taken on the secondary meanings of "cool","groovy", "acceptable", "desirable", "charming", "non-threatening", and "innocence". "
These Japanese novelty prints are crazily charming. Because of their tiny scale you get lots of imagery in a small amount of fabric. They make me smile...
Who can resist a squirrel talking to a bear print?
or slightly psychedelic bunnies?
or fingertip-sized multi-colored hedgehogs among others?!
Could pink hair be next?
Friday, May 2, 2014
Anyone who has ever sewn a wonky anything owes a great deal to Gwen Marston: a seer-like elder of modern quilting. Evolving from a traditional quilting background, she is one of the pioneers of improvisation. Her process is to make quilts without patterns intuitively and that by definition are personal and unique.
Her latest book is called "Minimal Quilting" and it owes more to modern art than craft. These minimal quilts are influenced by visual artists such as Albers, Rothko and Klee among others rather than conventional textile traditions. With each progression in her career, GW's work gets more and more abstract. The designs are about as stripped down as possible without becoming wholecloths yet are subtle and beautiful in their austerity. It is a fascinating read...
Thursday, April 24, 2014
I purchase few quilts as the whole point of all this fabric acquisition is supposed to be to make my own but am thrilled that I am now the proud owner of a Caohagan quilt. Caohagan is a tiny island in the Philippines owned by Katsuhiko Sakiyama. Junko, his wife, taught 120 of the 500 islanders how to quilt so that they could sell their work offshore to improve their education, housing and general standard of living. This cottage industry now represents about a third of the people's income.
I first read about these bright and charming quilts in Patchwork Japan and Quilts Japan over a decade ago. At the time, I wrote a letter with the help of a Japanese friend to try and purchase a quilt but never heard back. I have no idea whether the letter even reached its destination. Since further articles about Caohagan have been written in western magazines (such as in Quiltmania #78) and the quilts exhibited at some of the AQS shows in 2013 am so excited to say that there is now a website where you can easily purchase one of these works online. I always assumed because the quilts previously were sold to Japan that they would be crazily expensive but that is not the case. I received ours within a week of ordering and am completely and hopelessly in love with it...
The islanders make their quilts out of mostly donated fabric. Their work is filled with rich imagery of island life. The quilts are bright and fantastically cheerful. Here are some detail shots...
Our quilt is filled with birds, flowers and animals...
Also, the maker sent the most charming letter with the quilt which is very touching...
Thursday, April 10, 2014
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
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
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
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 Lisa, Amy and Claudia created for "SPACE"!
Saturday, February 22, 2014
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.