And Happy New Year!
Monday, December 31, 2007
And Happy New Year!
These strips were alternated and sewn together into what looks like a stripset. I figured accurate straight seams were important, so used my trick of pressing a small PostIt note pad next to the presser foot as a guide.
Next, seams are pressed open. I used another trick of mine - draping the piece over a tailor's seam or sleeve roll. This effectively keeps the seams on either side of the one I was working on out of the way of the iron.
Here's the pressed strip set ready for the next step - folding and pleating.
It's difficult to get a picture of this first fold, but if you look at the top, what I've done is folded back the green strip right along the seam line. Each seam line gets the same treatment.
Now for the pleating. Margit likens this to box pleats you find in skirts (maybe you have to be of a certain age to remember those?). I finger-pressed a short fold on either end of the batik strip to mark the center of it. Then the fold along the seam is brought over to that line and the pleat it forms pressed into place. This was a tedious and time-consuming task, I discovered.
To hold the pleats in place for the next steps, it was necessary to pin, then sew lines of basting across them.
Here is where the process started breaking down for me. Normally, this pleated section would be inserted into a larger quilt top design. In this journal quilt, it WAS the whole design. Before doing the tucking part, I was supposed to "complete" the quilt, i.e., layer it, quilt it and bind it. The pleated section was to have no quilting on it. Well, that wouldn't do, so I set my machine to an undulating decorative stitch, put in some gold metallic thread and stitched two horizontal quilting lines that divided the top into 3 more or less equal sections. I sewed on binding to hold the edges in place, but didn't totally complete it because of the way I print a label and fuse it on as backing once I've completed all the sewing on my journal quilts. I still had technique to work through, so was lacking all the information I would want to put on the label. I also wasn't sure if I'd be doing more stitching all the way through the layers. If so, I wouldn't want that happening over the label and obscuring the information there. I'd just have to hope I could continue on.
Up to this point, the directions had been very detailed, but now that I needed specific information, the directions went general: "Using a thread color of your choice, tack the edges together with a few stitches..." I could see from the photos what I was to do, but there was no suggestion of how to secure those tacking stitches. I tried several things, and eventually realized I could leave the knot on the front because it would be hidden once the tuck was taken and stitched. A backstitch along the side of the tuck followed by pulling the thread through the loop to knot it didn't show much, and I could pull the thread end into the fold. Nowhere could I see that you were to run any stitches all the way through - the entire pleated and tucked section just sits on top of the batting and backing unsecured. I am really uncomfortable with that.
But what bothered me even more was the way the whole piece buckled as soon as I tacked a tuck. My three sections, as you can see below, undulate like swells on an ocean. The thimble placed in one of the "windows" gives you an idea of how deep they are. I don't think this will flatten out with ironing - if it does, I think it will change the look of the tucks to something undesirable.
Bottom line: This is far more dimension than I am comfortable with. It uses a lot of fabric and takes a lot of time to sew and press. And unless I missed something, I can't imagine how you could ever have a nice flat and well-hanging quilt inserting this kind of dimensional accent. I doubt that this is something I will ever use. As always, clicking on any picture will pull up a larger view.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
And here you can see how much of a sleeve it makes and how nicely it lies without pulling on the quilt at all.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
This arrived before Christmas, a little gift to myself. I was ordering some notecards on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website, and popped into the sale page out of curiosity. It is divided up into departments: jewelry, shawls, art books... I certainly don't need more books, but I thought I'd look anyway - they often have exceptional discounts on coffee table books. Once you click on books, you get another page of subdivisions, and there, advertising one of them was this book. I couldn't believe it. I first became acquainted with Signac through an article in the Smithsonian Magazine. This is the painting that captured my imagination and wouldn't let go.
As you no doubt have guessed, it was that background, so reminiscent of fabric, that intrigued me as well as the curving lines. I took it as a personal challenge to test my technical prowess: could I draft and piece a similar background to make a small wall quilt. I used the Hoffman Challenge fabric for that year and submitted it for consideration - but it wasn't chosen. Ah, well, I was happy I made it anyway.
I was in one of my stubborn moods when I made it. Every curve you see, with the exception of the circles, are pieced, not appliqued. One section in particular was nearly impossible to do that way, and to the casual observer, it actually looks to be appliqued. I learned a lesson there about how far to take curved piecing.
I quilted the heck out of it, trying different designs I'd seen used elsewhere, then added lots of beads. The hand didn't get added until after the piece was rejected by the Hoffman Challenge jury. A friend kept insisting I must put that hand in there. Having no faith in my abilities to draw it freehand, I scanned my own arm and hand, then traced the outline from that. At one point I'd considered dangling some of the challenge fabric from that hand, but in the course of making this, it started reminding me of planets swirling in space. I named it "Night & Noon on the Planet Hoffman" and thought of the hand as a great creator bringing a special universe into being. So sprays of beads rising up out of the hand seemed more appropriate.
Since making that quilt, I've periodically searched for more paintings by Signac, without a lot of success. I'm not sure why I am so drawn to his work (what little I've seen), but it speaks to me more than the other impressionists do. When I saw a whole book on him available at less than half price, well, I was willing to take a chance. If nothing else, I knew it had THE picture in it plus a few working sketches to show how the idea developed.
As always, click on any picture for a larger view.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Here's another gift, one which wouldn't normally be considered quilt related. The givers might have thought I'd be inspired by the design, but I'm guessing they'd be surprised that my first impulse upon unwrapping it would be to try it as a rubbing plate. Gotta figure out if I can do that without leaving paint on it, because ultimately I do want to use it for its intended purpose - a decorative piece that can be hung outside. It's one heavy sucker - antiqued wrought iron, or something similar. It is beautiful in its form and texture. Thanks!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
He was lucky to spend so many years underground with only a few minor injuries. He did have a few close brushes with death, and his survival wasn't all luck. I found this 1961 photo with a typewritten note from "Larry" saying, "I appreciate your efforts in keeping your work place with good floors and the necessary safeguards." That's dad on the right.
I'd like to think that things got easier for dad as he got older, and we five kids also got older and responsible for ourselves. My brothers are all quite a bit older than me, so I remember many years of feeling like an only child, spending lots of one-on-one time with dad in his off hours. Here we are on vacation in 1968. I think he's trying to suppress a laugh there.
I'd also like to think that he never forgot the good times interspersed with the harsher ones. This is one of my favorite pictures of mom and dad when they were courting in 1937. He was in the Civilian Conservation Corps at Pactola (South Dakota) and she came out to the camp with her church group which put on dances for the boys.
Thanks for indulging me as I drifted off into a family memory. I meant to tell you how I dreamed of spending this week catching up on my reading. like in the days of my youth. But since that isn't going to happen, this little sidetrack was a very pleasant substitute.
Monday, December 24, 2007
My sister-in-law, Jackie, picked up this card for me at an arts and crafts fair in Southern California. The artist is Yvonne Rice of "One Winged Angel Company" in Redondo Beach, CA (email@example.com).
May many angels watch over you as you travel and spend time with friends and family this holiday season.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
I spent some lovely time hand quilting this afternoon. As near as I can tell, the 505 Spray Baste used to hold the layers together is doing just that and is not causing any drag on the needle. The untested batting is behaving as well. I may need to buy some of this and make up a real sample, one I can test both hand and machine quilting on, then wash to see how it reacts. It appears to have good stability while maintaining a lightness and needles easily.
The book showed two ideas for quilting: crosshatching (hand quilted) and meandering (machine quilted). One of the reasons I chose handquilting was because of the difficulty of manuevering around the embroidery by machine. I wanted to outline various parts of the cross with stitching comparable to stitching in the ditch - something I felt much easier to do by hand as in the picture above
My first stitches, however, were taken in the ditch between the panel and first border. Everything I read when I first started quilting recommended quilting from the middle and working to the edges. I started to question the necessity of this once I purchased a full-size quilting frame. It was made by Grace and rolled the quilt from one end to the other. I just knew my quilt would be skewed in some way because I wasn't quilting from the middle out, but it was not. I questioned more when I read of women like Suzanne Marshall quilting full size quilts without benefit of any hoop or frame. I had to agree with the logic that, if I quilt were properly and thoroughly basted, shifting or bunching would not be a problem so it shouldn't matter where you started quilting. This theory was reinforced once I got into machine quilting. I was taught by Harriet Hargrave and Diane Gaudynski that my first machine stitches should be ones to stabilize the main vertical and horizontal seams of the quilt. Once done, then I could start quilting any section in any order.
And so you see, with a bit of confidence, I stitched around the border seam first, then stitched around the ouside of the cross, then went back to complete the border. It has the most "fragile" marking, and I wanted to get those areas quilted before any of the markings rubbed off - easy to do when rolling and turning the piece to get to the middle section. Having the border quilted first will also help me know how much quilting to put into the body of the cross. I could stitch along each embroidered line but I don't think that will be necessary or even desirable.
As far as what I quilt with, I am using Coats & Clark 100% cotton hand quilting thread with a Roxanne #11 between needle (very short and fairly thin). I also use a Roxanne Thimble. I'd tried several different thimbles and brands of needles, but after watching Roxanne's daughter demonstrate the thimble and her method of hand quilting, then trying the thimble myself, I was sold on the advantages. My stitch length immediately shortened and the strain on my hands and fingers nearly disappeared. Yes, I'm a convert, but unless you do a lot of hand quilting, you may not want to make the investment as those thimbles do not come cheap. And as long as I was sold on the thimble and her basting glue as well, I decided to give the needles a try. Here is the website where you can see all the products and learn more about "that perfect stitch."