Saturday, June 30, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I started with these two marbled squares that were a not-too-successful attempt at creating a flower effect. Hopefully I could make them look more like flowers with Ann’s machine embroidery method. Following her directions, I backed these with WonderUnder, trimmed away excess fabric and tried them out on different background fabrics.
Now that I'd chosen the background, I could see I needed to trim away a bit more of the yellow. Once that was done, I arranged and fused the flowers in place. Rather than use a hoop or the type of removable or cutaway stabilizers Ann suggested, I fused Decor Bond to the back since I've had such good luck with it in the past.
And now the stitching begins - all free motion with a #100 Top-stitching needle as recommended in the book. I was afraid that would be way too big, but with the two layers of fusibles, the smaller needle I tried first just frayed the cotton thread. Ann tells you to run your stitches just over the edge to help secure the raw edge, even though it is fused. That works fine for flowers and leaves and such but I don't know how well it would work on other types of applique. I started with dark thread to outline "petals," then changed to paler threads to highlight.
Here I'm building up more stitching. I tried to add a little more depth in the spaces between petals on the larger flower with a more variegated dark thread from my Oliver Twist collection. I introduced a more aqua blue into the smaller flower which I'm not sure really worked all that well. After the stitching is completed, Ann suggests blocking the piece with steam before layering for quilting. There was no draw up or distortion with the Decor Bond on the back so I skipped the steam when I pressed.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
-Stephen Quiller, Color Choices copyright 1989
"When I first started painting, I was most interested in technique. Then as I became more familiar with the media, composition became more important to me. As I started to understand composition, expression became important. And to express myself effectively in painting, I needed to know an astonishing amount about color. Thus I began the process of studying color and working with structured color schemes in my painting. The more I worked with these color schemes, the more exciting color became to me....I discovered that the more I worked and applied these theories, the more my color sense developed. I was training my eye! As I began to understand structured color schemes more fully, I started to use color more subjectively. But I began to use color subjectively with knowledge. To me the knowledge of color is the key. The more the artist knows about color, the more personal the color can become."
"In my eagerness to research the masters and learn how they approached color, I found that all these great painters had one quality in common: They were students their whole lives...The list of masters who studied masters could go on and on.
What really brought this idea home to me was a trip to the East Coast. I was at the drawing and print study room at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and asked to see a portfolio of Winslow Homer watercolors. As I was going through the paintings, I commented on a certain area of one of them. The curator remarked that Andrew Wyeth had been in the day before and made a similar comment about that area of the same painting...a living master, one of the most legendary painters of our time, is still studying and growing."
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The next day I prepared the mount. This can be prepared in several different ways, but for a truly stiff and stable end result, I fuse Decor Bond interfacing to both the top and the backing. I cut it the exact size of the finished mount, fuse it to fabric, and add the seam allowance as I trim away the excess fabric. The backing gets a slit cut in it, usually where the sleeve will cover it, or it can also be hidden by the label. This mount has no batting and will need no quilting stitches. The edge of the interfacing now becomes the stitching guide. Pinning parallel to the seam line allows you to check underneath to be sure the bottom is lined up properly to the front.
And here I am stitching. Stitch all the way around - no need to leave an opening because this will be turned inside out through the slit in the backing.
Before turning, clip the corners to reduce bulk. It's hard enough getting those points poked out.
Once you have the corners to your liking, secure the slit with a whip stitch or herringbone stitch. Remember, this will be covered by the sleeve, so it doesn't have to be pretty. Sometimes, I've fused this closed. Then give the edges a good pressing, taking care to pull the backing under if necessary so that it doesn't show from the front.
Now it's time to attach the quilt to the mount. Before removing the newsprint, I'd pressed the binding under so I'd have that guide once the hard edge of the paper was gone. Here I'm using a little Roxanne Glue Baste to secure it in place. It's particularly helpful to glue the double layers at the corners.
With the top secure, I could add some additional quilting - enough to secure it nicely to the mount, then I put my regular foot back on and stitched the outside edge of the binding to the mount with a narrow zigzag stitch and clear thread. I wasn't as pleased with how this came out as I thought I would be and wished I'd cut the binding wider so that it would have been well secured with the stitch in the ditch. Then I could have left that edge free. I wasn't about to hand applique it down which would have given a more invisible look. I think it must have been the combination of the tight weave batik and the flat surface of the mount. The pillow I'd done this way didn't show the stitching. On this it almost looked top-stitched.
Overall, I'm pleased with this, although I reneged again on doing a more elaborate background. I haven't tried the fusible web over a seam and I guess I was afraid I'd have a line if I pieced a background. I hoped that the sprigs of grass would be delineation enough and just followed colors in the batik to mimic clouds in the sky. A bit trite, perhaps, but I couldn't think of anything else to do. I'm not sure the batting added as much to it as I'd hoped - the stump stayed pretty flat. Yet another learning experience.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
The thinner layer of the bark curled like ribbon drawn across the blade of a scissor, or like wood shavings from a plane.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Here I've moved to the ironing board so I can press under the seam allowance along the curved edge. I realize now that you can't really tell that it is pressed over the edge of the freezer paper, but it is. I thought I might have to clip the edges to make a smooth flat turn, but I didn't. The tight weave of the batik makes a nice crisp crease that will stay in place after the freezer paper is removed. I continued to press under 1/4" along the rest of the seam beyond where the freezer paper template ended. I checked periodically with a ruler to be sure this seam allowance was even.
Once I was satisfied with its position, I carefully started pinning it in place, placing pins perpendicular to the seam, then going back and putting more in spaced more closely and parallel to the seam line. It was at this point I realized that in another life, I would have machine pieced this seam. In fact, this freezer paper template method was learned during a Mariner's Compass class where we machine pieced our circular compasses into their round frames. Frankly, it never occurred to me to do that, probably because of the way I layered and "appliqued" the background together. On this piece, I don't mind the top-stitching necessary to secure these pieces down. And it is a lot easier and faster than piecing at this point.
I haven't sewn this down yet for two reasons. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the ends yet, and I may want to insert a piping along the edge - something a little bright to add a glow. I'm still feeling that this quilt lacks zing, that it will all muddle together when viewed from a distance (which in all likelihood will be the case in its new home.) I've searched high and low through my various stashes and can't quite seem to come up with a suitable solution. So yesterday I swung by the local quilt shop for inspiration. I restrained myself from buying a lot of yardage for a change, since I'm not sure any of these will really fit the bill (although now that they are home, it's looking promising). My default answer to "how much of this do you want" has usually been 1/2 a yard or more likely, a full yard. But I decided that, with the exception of piping, I only needed a 1/4 yard of my zinger solution, so 1/4 yards is all I got. Besides, the store's having a sale in just a week, so if any of these require more yardage, I'll go back and get them a little cheaper. Gotta be frugal about something! Two are batiks, and frankly, I knew the blue wasn't right, but thought I'd give it a try anyway. The other is a lovely pale spring green - exactly what I was searching for in my stash. The other three all have metallic gold touches which I think might be perfect to pick up the light. You can see that better if you click on the picture for the larger version.