Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Accidents

So here I was in the studio straightening up a bit before taking the plunge on one of two quilts (read: procrastinating). I'd washed some fabric a few days before, including the batik I bought on my trip to Gig Harbor. You know, when you travel you stop at quilt shops and convince yourself you HAVE to buy something, for a souvenir if nothing else. Batiks are always a safe bet - who cares if you have something in mind for what you end up buying? Go with your gut, buy what speaks to you. It may turn out to be just what you need. But for now, this batik was in my way as it lay draped over the ironing board. Time to fold it up and put it away. So I lined up the selvages, laid it on the table to smooth it out for the first fold and...wait a minute. Didn't I just say the poppies and peonies piece might benefit just from adding another fabric? Wow - I think this is the one!

Tamping down my usual hesitation, I immediately made the section cuts in poppies and peonies, even though evil left brain thought I should leave well enough alone. Yes, I'm really liking this now and am already moving the thought process to the technical side of finishing it out. And wondering which orientation to use.

But never one to be satisfied with a good thing, I also spotted another batik that's been lying on the table forever. Yes, the colors are right but this is a bit too much for the eye to handle! I'll be using the green fern batik and continuing the mulling about adding photo transfers of actual poppies and peonies.

I'm still unable to settle, especially after hitting upon an idea concerning Falling Leaves while on my walk. I have an inherent fear of paints, but not pens. I was thinking about the paints and brushes I have on hand, which would work to highlight the quilted leaves without painting over thread when I remembered the inked designs I'd seen at the quilt show in Tacoma. Riding the positive vibes of success, I tested my idea on a sample and forged ahead. I'm using a fine point micron pen with red ink to shade in just the quilted leaves that are within the couched squares. I was pretty sure this still would not be enough so also tested a green pen to shade in the background around the leaves - in essence creating a fainter version of the two stamped hand-dyed squares that are the centerpiece of this design. I was having such a tough time getting accurate colors with the camera in the close-up of the leaf shading that I didn't try to capture the other yet. Besides, with three squares to go, the pen started pooping out on me. But I can tell that this inking is really making this piece work so much better.

By the way, have any of you tried this new tool call the Thread Pic? Hope springs eternal as I search for products to make my quilting life easier and to speed up some jobs. Is anything more tedious than burying threads on the back of the quilt? I'm doing that an awful lot these days and from the description, this tool sounded like it would be just the thing. Honestly, it did not work for this, although I've no doubt it would snag those stray threads that sometimes get trapped between batting and the lightest fabric in the top. The hook that grabs the thread is extremely small, which was ok for the lightweight Aurofil thread I'd used in the bobbin. But I can't imagine it being able to snag a heavier weight thread. It merely caught part of the rayon thread, more snagging it than anything and only pulling through 1 ply, or shredding the thread altogether. At best, it was really tricky to keep the thread on the hook until it passed out of the backing. And because of how quickly the shaft thickens up, I couldn't pull as long of a length through to the back as I normally like. Even so, I must have been putting it through the fabric farther away from the thread tail than the manufacturer planned for; It left quite a hole in the fabric at the exit point, in spite of the package touting that it left no holes. I did find it excellent for sliding under the loop to pull the top thread to the back, and I suspect it would work similarly well for taking out stitches. But for burying threads? I found my formerly tedious and time consuming method of threading tails through the eye of a needle was much faster and left no holes.

No comments: