One Stitch at a Time

One stitch at a time–that’s all I seem capable of these days. But when you think about it, that’s all any of us are capable of, right? Whether by machine and very fast, or by hand and very slow, we have to take one stitch at a time. And isn’t that exactly what we love about our work with textiles, whatever they may be. The very fact that we can take one stitch at a time, and eventually end up with a masterpiece, if we will just continue on, is a miracle!

Lately, I’ve been taking one stitch at a time on my rug. I made a macaw in flight!

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I made an owl.

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I put him in front of a moon.

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And then one day, the rug was finished. (In case you’re interested, I am still going to “tweak” that sunset section behind the elephants.)

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Only, two friends (and myself) agreed that the rug needed a border. I found these wools, dyed a deep green/brown with a hint of burgundy, and they seem like they will work well. One thing about a border, I can work faster in a straight line! I will add the words “He holds all creation together” at the top, and the scripture reference “Colossians 1:15-20 at the bottom. The lettering will be done in that golden/apricot color that is the same color as the cross in the background.

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In the evenings, I’ve been obsessively stitching away on this little piece. It became my travel project for the time I spent teaching in San Luis Obispo. I mentioned to one of the workshop attendees that I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. And she picked out a piece of fabric from my stash and mentioned using it as a background/frame. And now I know what I will do with it.

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Oh, teaching–I thoroughly enjoyed my time teaching in SLO. The women in the workshop were delightful, and they seemed to enjoy learning and working on the projects that I taught. Is more teaching in my future? We will see, we will see:)

Close-ups:

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The Trouble with Teaching

The trouble with teaching is that it takes a lot of brain power to prepare for it. At least that’s how it is for me. I can’t really think about starting a NEW. IMPORTANT. PROJECT. when I am thinking about teaching. All I can think about is “oh, I could share this,” or “wouldn’t that be great to have a sample of that to share.” And you can see, those are not bad thoughts. I just won’t be starting one of the big projects I have in my mind until after this teaching gig is done.

In the meantime, I wanted to have as many examples as possible to share with the class. I had a LOT of unfinished samples…ahem…have I mentioned I don’t like binding quilts?

In fact, I had five small pieces that needed to be finished. So one by one, I set out to get that done. I also didn’t have any handwork for my evenings, so finishing these substituted for that for a few days.

This is the “header” for the “what they said” series. It has a facing instead of a binding. This is my favorite method to face quilts now. 

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You’ve seen this before. Its not finished (I’m planning to bead it) but I wanted to take it to share with the class. So now it has a binding on it.

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And a binding on this little wonky piece, just to keep it contained. Oh, you’ll notice that I hand-stitched the binding to the front. Usually I machine sew my binding down. But I always say I think its weird that quilters do all of that beautiful hand-work on a binding, and hide it on the back.

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And this piece has been hanging around FOREVER, with unfinished edges. That was partly because I just didn’t know what to do with it. It was stitched almost to the very edge, and I didn’t want to cover up any stitching with a stupid old binding. I thought about zig-zagging the edge. And then it came to me–just do that by hand! It took quite a while. But I think it is the perfect edge for this little piece.

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Close-up. Hint: if you do this, it goes a lot quicker with #5 perle cotton:)

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And then I had this hexagon piece. I just didn’t know WHAT to do with it. I thought about mounting it on a board. I thought about putting it on top of another quilt (which is what I did.) But how to finish all those dang edges… I just didn’t want to fool with binding it. I was pretty sure it would not be my best work, trying to turn all those corners. So because I had “zig-zagged” the previous piece by hand, I thought, hey, that might work! I literally took 5 stitches, and said, no way am I going to go around this whole piece by hand. So then I decided to try zig-zagging by machine. I auditioned several green fabrics, and in the end, this beautiful piece won out. I placed the hexagon, which was already a complete quilt sandwich, on top of the piece, got it just where I wanted it, and pinned it carefully in place, on a flat surface. First, I straight stitched about 1/8″ from the edge, all around the piece. I thought zig zagging might distort it. Then I started zig-zagging. Three colors of thread, and three rounds of small zig zag later, it was firmly in place. Then I could cut out the back of the foundation fabric. Made a sandwich, and quilted it simply. It came out just the way I envisioned. Oh, and side-note. I thought I would just quilt it on my Janome, since I had a big quilt under the Juki. I had to stop three times in the first five minutes for stupid things, so I switched over to the Juki. Ahhhhh… much better:)

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Close-up:

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As I mentioned, I didn’t have any piece to work on in the evening. This was driving me nuts. I also have seen quite a few things lately that have little tiny pieces of fabric sewn together. I got this book. Her work fascinates me. So finally, after all these little quilts were finished, I decided one night to just make a sandwich out of some leftover muslin and batting that was laying around in the studio.I brought the sandwich, my bag of Cherrywood little scraps, and four or five “neutral” fabrics out to my comfy chair. I was somehow going to sew patches on top of this. As soon as I sat down, I knew I didn’t want to have muslin showing through on the front. So I set about hand piecing little bits of fabric together. Yesterday I got tired of hand-piecing, so I put the rest of it together by machine. And now I have a fun little piece to stitch on in the evening.

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So you can see, there are more good than bad things about teaching! I am looking forward to this assignment.

A New Exhibit at the Museum

One of my quilts was accepted into the SAQA exhibit “Inspirations II!” The exhibition will be held at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Here’s information about when and where.

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At the same time, there will be a special exhibition of Kaffe Fassett quilts along with the antique quilts that inspired them. What a great time to check out this wonderful museum.

This week I have been putting together kits for the Kantha stitching class that I am teaching next month. I decided to see what I could create with just the materials I supplied for the kit–a quilt sandwich, 3 colors of hand-dyed fabric, and 20 colors of thread. Very fun!

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Yep, there was plenty of thread and fabric included in each kit! I still have some thread, and about half of the hand dyed fabric left over.

I’m Teaching!

Next month I will be doing an evening lecture and trunk show at the San Luis Obispo Quilters, on Monday, May 9. Tuesday, May 10, I will be doing a workshop on Kantha stitching, and Wednesday, May 11, will be a workshop on Improv Patching and Piecing. I am excited to have the opportunity to share the way I love to work with other quilters. If you are interested in attending any of these events, Click here to go to their website. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, there is an email address.

Here is an example of the improve patching and piecing, with some kantha stitching in the circles:

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And a close-up of kantha stitching:

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I am always careful to clarify that my stitching is “kantha inspired.” I know what kantha stitching is, and I can tell you how to do it, but what I do is a little different than traditional kantha.

Look at this! I think I mentioned being intrigued by this artist’s needle weaving. Well, I tried it out. Its a bit painstaking, but it was also fun to do as a former weaver. Seeing how the colors interact when they are woven is what I like the best. This is just a small piece, maybe 9″X 11″.

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Close-up:

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Next

Lots of stuff happening in the studio and on my lap (handwork.) I made a sandwich of this large quilt, and got to quilting it. It was so cumbersome, so I decided to try to be a little bit organized. Folding all the edges up neatly like this really made quilting it a lot easier.

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All finished! This one is slated to be donated to the scholarship fund auction at Cambria Pines Rug Camp this year. BTW, if any of you are rug hookers, I can’t recommend this experience highly enough. I really love going. Its in a gorgeous location, with great food served three times a day, and wonderful teachers. All for a very reasonable price.

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I didn’t have enough of the “inn signs” so I sub’d a big bird print, and some paper pieced blocks. Makes it more interesting. It was hard to get a good picture of it–its not quite as wonky as it looks:) Close-ups:

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I finished the big rug! Now to block and bind it.

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Close-ups:

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This little piece (that I started a year ago, was all finished, hand quilted, and just needed to be bound. It looked a little boring, so I added some perle cotton stitching, echoing the colors in the blocks.

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Close-up:

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There’s more handwork going on. I’ll save that for next week’s report! Have a fun, stitch-filled weekend!

 

A Little Idea

A few years ago I made this little quilt. I pieced a background of various green plant fabrics, and then I just cut out motifs from fabrics that I loved, sometimes of things that I loved, and had fun placing them in “just the right spot.” I think it was a travel project, because all the motifs are sewn on by hand.

Anyway, what to do with it when its done? Its kind of childish. When we were kids we had a couple of books that we loved our parents to read to us. But mostly we loved looking at the pictures and naming all the things we saw on each page.

So I had the idea that this would be a good baby or little kid present. I finally got around to mailing it yesterday to my niece, who has 4 little kids.

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You could use fusible or zig zag to sew the motifs on, to make it more kid friendly. It was fun to make, and I hope will be fun to receive.

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I enjoyed looking at it again yesterday, and remembering putting it together. I’m glad I took these pictures so I will have a memory of it.

Two More Finishes, and a New “Station”

I call this first one “what was I thinking?” Because that’s a lot of work for a quilt that is quite jarring. Well, after looking at it, I remembered that I had a lot of strip sets leftover from the Nancy Crow workshop, and I used them in this. This quilt was completely quilted, and had been put away. I just needed to put a binding on it. Yay!

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I really like stars:) This one was also almost completely quilted except for the border. I put long feathers all around the border. They don’t show much with the print, but I enjoyed doing them. Both of these quilts had enough backing that I could do the “pull the back around to the front” for binding.

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And here is the new “station.” My wet studio is finished! The first picture makes the room look ridiculously long. In reality, the room is about 6’X15′. Tons of room for storage, several nice smooth surfaces to work on, and good lighting. I especially like the shallow shelves I requested so that I can see all my dyes without digging through them. Those are anti-fatique mats on the floor.

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We used leftovers from the kitchen–some subway tile that I somehow ended up with and couldn’t return, and the leftover pieces of granite from the kitchen counters. I bought J. the Contractor’s old stove, and I even have my old microwave out there should the need arise!

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Now for some nice warm days that entice me to get out there and do some dying!

 

Quilting, Piecing, Embroidery, and Rug Hooking

I mentioned to a friend recently that I had been quilting, piecing, embroidering, and rug hooking, and loving all of it. I kept thinking about this, and I realized that part of the reason was because I had “stations” set up for each activity, so that it was very easy to go from one activity to another. I never understood before why people felt the need to keep more than one sewing machine set up, but now I do. I am much more likely to work on a quilt when the machine is all set up and ready to go. (And I do know that having a big new “toy” is a good motivator.) When I started working on that big rug in January, I rearranged my living room so that I could keep the rug frame up all the time. If the rug frame is not up, rug hooking just doesn’t get done–sometimes for months. And of course, my Janome sewing machine is always up, and I am more likely to go and sew together a few pieces when I don’t have to move a big quilt out of the way. My “embroidery station” is the same as always–my big comfy chair where I sit every evening with a dog on my lap, watching TV shows on my computer, and working on whatever embroidery project is at hand.

It has been so fun to look through my UFO’s and find quilt tops I had completely forgotten about, and others that were within a few stitches of being completed!

I really like this quilt. I was influenced by a little postcard of a magnificent Japanese quilt. Mine is not magnificent, but it was very fun to piece, and I enjoyed practicing “straight enough” line quilting on the new machine.

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This was part of a series of quilts I did for a “Pay it Forward” challenge SIX YEARS ago! I had so much fun making those little quilts for three of my good blog friends. This fourth one was for me, but I used a beautiful upholstery weight fabric on the back, and it was not fun to hand quilt through, so 7/8th’s of the way through, I just stopped. Except for the border it was almost completely quilted. I decided to try hand quilting again. Took two stitches (literally) and knew I wouldn’t finish. So to the machine it went. I am as pleased as can be with the result. I’m thinking about keeping it, just because so many good memories are attached to that challenge project.

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This quilt was completely finished except for the central chicken block. I got a little obsessed about that, even wrote a blog about changing it out, and then it got put away and forgotten about. I finished quilting around the motifs in the central block, and it was finished. Several of these quilts have had enough backing fabric that I was able to do the binding by just bringing the backing around to the front. VERY convenient!

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Piecing. I think I showed you this one  before. I just about used all of the strips in that box, and so it is done. Since the strips were cut with a ruler, I’m not sure why it has ended up a bit wonky, except that I didn’t use my 1/4″ foot all the time. Anyway, I think I will put a wide border around it to finish it off and to square it up a bit.

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These stars are mostly my project for Sewing Day with my ladies. So fun to do, but a bit time consuming. All done with 2″ cut squares from my box of little two inch squares.

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I had the idea to make these simple blocks to offset the star blocks, which are so busy, but I didn’t like the way that looked. So they might become their own little project…

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Rug hooking! I LOVE love love working on this rug. There is even more of it done now, but this is the most recent picture. Like I said, I have a place all set up in the living room, so it is very easy to just sit and do a little bit of hooking, if that’s all I have time for.

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Close-up:

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And embroidery. I have almost finished the embroidered words on all 17 of the quilts in the “what they said” series. I loved working on these, and trying to convey the thoughts and feelings behind the words through the way I embroidered the words. Now to quilt and finish them. I will show them all to you at one time, as that is the way I think they will have the most impact. Here is the one I chose to use as the “header.” Just the straight line kantha stitching over the whole piece.

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And that is how life is going in the studio right now. I wake up every morning excited about what I am going to work on that day.

International Quilting Weekend!

Does everybody know that this weekend is International Quilting Weekend? There are lots of giveaways out there. The Quilt Show has kindly offered to open ALL of their videos for the weekend. I am just going to include the invitation they have provided here. I hope you will take advantage of this to watch some of your favorite artists. I look forward to watching The Quilt Show each time a new episode comes out. A warning: you pretty much have to watch it with a bowl of popcorn:)

Dear Quilting Friends:

Big news here! In honor of International Quilt Day (March 19, 2016), The Quilt Show, the web TV show hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, will “open” all of its shows from the first seventeen series–that is, from show 100 through show 1713–for the entire weekend of March 18 –20. That means that—for three special days—everyone will have the chance to view these 221 shows, featuring some of the quilting world’s leading artists, for FREE.

As you may already know, I appeared as the featured artist on TQS in show 1512. If you didn’t have the opportunity to see this show first time around, now you’ll have the chance to see it—and so many other terrific shows—at no cost in this unprecedented three-day offer.

I hope that you’ll share this information with all of your quilting friends. It’s a fantastic opportunity to enjoy three days of learning and fun without leaving your home…all for free.

Enjoy the shows, and thanks for helping to spread the word!

Here’s a couple of other odds and ends. I changed out the quilt display at my church. I really enjoy sharing my quilts with others, and it is fun to go through my collection and put together three that I think go well together.

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And this is one more quilt that I loved at Quilt Con. After looking at it for a while, I checked out the artist, and it was Christine Barnes. I have been a fan of her work for a long time.

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Have a great fun-filled quilting weekend!

Learning Curve Continued

My learning on the new Juki continues! This week I noticed that the machine was skipping a few  stitches every once in a while. It was really noticeable when I was using the machine to baste a little quilt. BTW, this is a great feature on the machine–you just choose “BASTE” on the LED screen, and then you have the option of slow-medium-fast. It does a really great job of machine basting. After discussing with my BF and long arm consultant, we decided the most likely culprit was that I had the presser foot too high. I had changed out the presser foot to the open toed foot (love!) and I left it a bit higher on purpose, because I wanted to be able to slip this hoop under the foot.

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This is the hoop I bought from Martelli.  I really like it. I tend to relax my shoulders a bit more when I use it. I think its most useful when you are doing smaller, closer quilting. When you are doing utility quilting and want to move quickly across the quilt, there is no need for it.

 

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Open toe vs the regular foot. Why would you use the closed foot? I think it might provide more stability if you were doing some pedal to the metal quilting.

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So, I set out one morning to SOLVE THE PROBLEM of the skipped stitches.  I should have just changed the presser foot height. But no, I wanted to do a thorough job. So I checked the needle position. The book says the groove in the needle should face to the left. I re-inserted the needle, making sure the groove was EXACTLY facing the left.

Then I wanted to oil the “hook.” That’s the thing on the bobbin case. I don’t think I told you before, but this machine is built so that you never have to oil anything except that hook! Now when I did that, I double checked to see that I had the bobbin placed correctly in the case. Looking at the manual instructions. I got so confused! I thought I was supposed to put the bobbin in COUNTER CLOCKWISE, but the instructions said clockwise. Had I put it in wrong previously, and it was actually working that way?

Anyway, three improvements made, and now I was ready to check out my NEW. IMPROVED. quilting. Only now the machine would not take a single stitch. Not one. I was sure it was my confusion over the bobbin. So I took that baby in and out at least three times, checking and re-checking the placement against the manual instructions. Still no stitches.

So then I went back to the needle position. I looked carefully at the tiny but accurate picture in the manual. Oh. The groove in the needle goes to the left IF YOU ARE STANDING AT THE SIDE OF THE MACHINE, not from the front. So I rotated the groove in the needle to the correct position, and voila! Magic stitches came out of the machine. No skipped stitches at all. My BF assures me that this is all part of learning to use a long arm machine, and is common to all long arms.

So you can see that, although I complained about the Juki manual, it does come in handy for some things:)

My friend who is starting the ministry for elderly people in our church needed a quilt to show her committee, so I put the binding on the first quilt I’ve done on the Juki and sent it out into the world. Funny thing about this quilt, Up close, in person, I did not think I had done the color placement right, because I could not see the secondary circular pattern. But it shows up nice and clear in the photograph!

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I am off to hopefully finish the second quilt on this Juki. In looking for some other things, I have found more and more unfinished quilt tops! I’m very enthused about getting some of them done and sharing them with others.