Teaching and Catching Up

I will be teaching Quilted Embroidery in a couple of places in the next few weeks. I will be teaching a 3 hour Intro to Quilted Embroidery at Oak Hills Church (scroll down for Art Immersion Week) on Thursday July 26. And I will be teaching a 6 hour class at The Cotton Patch on Saturday August 4, also on Quilted Embroidery.

I got an email from one of my students in a previous class. I am always thrilled to see that some students enjoyed the class and finish their project! Jackie got creative and added a small panel to the bottom of her piece so it would fit in her wire frame. I love it!

Jackie’s work:

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And catching up on what I’ve been working on–I finished this kantha blanket. I used all 12 gauge perle cotton (and a few Sulky blendables in 12 weight) to embroider this blanket.

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I went to Convergence (Spinners and Weavers Guild) in Reno last weekend. I can’t stop spinning some of the fiber I got there!

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And finally, sometimes things don’t work out quite the way you want them to. This is the word PEACE on my big PEACE quilt. Those letters are about 8-10 inches high. It took a long time to embroider the uprights on each letter. But because I used white thread on white fabric to outline the letters, it is basically unreadable. I will use the ecru thread to outline stitch along the white thread. I do mean for the writing on this quilt to be subtle. But I still want it to be readable 🙂

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There are 12 verses scattered around this quilt, all about PEACE. I have started the quilting, and hope to finish it in the next month or so.

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More is happening here in the woods, but that will have to wait for another post!

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Catching Up

Posting on Instagram has been fun. Its easy to take a picture at the end of the day and write a sentence or two about what you’ve been doing. So here’s what I’ve been doing since my last post. My Instagram name is debbyschnabel.

I finished another kantha blanket. This is one I pieced last fall just before I went to Art Quilt Tahoe. I really liked the central tree panel, and just chose some nice fabrics to go along with it. Still needs to be washed and blocked a bit.

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Taking a break from embroidering on the Wonderful Counselor quilt. Considering next steps. I think I still need some embroidery in there between the words. And maybe some embroidery in the borders, although I do plan to machine quilt most of the borders.

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Close-up of the words. You can see I used the blue disappearing ink quite a bit on this quilt. I did a sample to make sure the ink would come out before I used it on this radiance fabric (hand dyed 50/50 cotton/silk)

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Close-ups of some of the embroidery:

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I started working consistently on the big PEACE quilt. While it was still on the design wall, I chose 12 spots to put verses and marked those spots with the blue disappearing ink, and chose 12 verses about peace. Its been fun to choose a verse, write it in the spot, and get it embroidered on there. I am hoping that this will be the next quilt I machine quilt.

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Right now this quilt is under the Juki. I am taking my time and trying to quilt it nicely. I made it a long time ago, and I still like it.

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I got it into my head that I should do another sample quilt from the quilt kits I put together. So fun to make small pieces like this. The small pink triangles are actually the leftover pieces from cutting out the big pink circle! I am teaching Quilted Embroidery at the Cotton Patch on April 21. 

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And since I finished my kantha blanket and am taking a break from the Wonderful Counselor embroidery, I needed something to work on. Out came the big mitered square blanket. I laid it out on my bed and marked how much larger I want it to be, so at least I now have an ending place in mind. Still a lot to do on it. I’m using bits and pieces of leftover yarns and some of my old handspun yarn too.

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Sunday my sister called and asked if I had ever made a jelly roll quilt. Well, once I made a top using hand cut strips, basically the same as a jelly roll. As I talked with her about the math and how to do it, I remembered I had a project box with some leftover strips in it–leftover from the big PEACE quilt. They were cut 1/2 inch finished and 1 1/2 inch finished. Most of the 1/2 inch strips were brights and darks. Most of the 1 1/2 inch strips were neutrals. So I started sewing those together. I couldn’t believe it when I sewed the narrow and wider strips together–they were exactly the same length! So then I did a little math, and realized that there still was not enough for a decent sized quilt. I did some more math, and decided that if I would make some 3 inch finished strips, that would make the quilt big enough. For the 3 inch strips, I used both neutral and bright fabrics. I sewed everything together without planning. And when I finally finished, and threw it on my bed, I was really pleased with how pretty it was. Now I’m just thinking about how to quilt it.

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Speaking of quilting, one thing I have been doing lately, is going to Joann’s when they have a sale on (haha, when do they NOT have a sale on,) and buying four or more yards of one fabric so that I have quilt backs for my never-ending box of quilt tops that I have not finished. Since I don’t seem to be too good at selling, I have enjoyed finding places to donate quilts for people that might enjoy them. A young couple I met are working with Afghan refugees that are coming to Sacramento. I told them I could send some quilts to them.

I hope all of you are enjoying your creative time. Just working consistently every day it is surprising how much you can accomplish.

 

Hexie Holidays

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I think I mentioned before that I’d been working on a hexi project. It turned out to be the perfect project to work on in the evening during the holidays. They are 3/4 inch English Paper Piecing hexis. I ran into some trouble when I tried to do separate pieces and they wouldn’t fit together. It seems impossible, but true. I finally figured out that I was putting some together clockwise, and others counterclockwise. Still, they’re all hexies, they SHOULD fit together. Anyway, that made me paranoid and I decided that I just had to work on putting them all together in one piece. The bigger the piece got, the harder it was to work with. One day in church I got an idea to make a quilt out of them called “I’m Done!”

But they were still in a very weird sorta diamond shape. Not what I envisioned for my new idea. So I put the piece up on the design wall and put my hexies just so to make it the shape I wanted–kind of an amoeba shape. Surprisingly, it was fairly easy to take it up and down off of the design wall and add the extra shapes. I pinned each one carefully with a safety pin so that there was no doubt about where it went and how it needed to fit together.

So here’s my semi-final composition. I still need to decide on a backing fabric, and put it back up on the design wall (thus the picture 🙂 )

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In the meantime, I also am working on a kantha blanket. Its just a large print of trees that I really liked, put together with some other really pretty fabrics that I had in my stash.

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I’ve progressed much farther than this (just doing straight kantha stitching) and the edges were starting to bug me. I used cotton gauze for the middle of the sandwich instead of batting (to mimic how actual kantha stitching is done). It made the edges very flimsy. So I put the binding on it! Much nicer.

I have so many projects that I am working on right now. Mostly just for fun, and finishing some series, making more quilt sandwiches and doing more quilting. I’ll be back later in the week to share some of these projects!

 

An Unexpected Finish

As I stitched on various projects in the evening, I started to realize that I was close to finishing one quilt. So I started to concentrate on stitching on that one. Maybe I could finish one more project before surgery!

And sure enough, on Friday evening, I took the last stitch. I don’t usually quilt on Saturday, but I couldn’t resist applying the binding in the morning, and then when I returned from the gym in the afternoon, I set to work hand stitching the binding down. I rarely hand stitch binding any more, but I figured with all the handwork on this quilt, it deserved it. And besides, I really enjoyed working on this quilt, and it just extended the joy for one more day.

Which quilt is it? Its the second Kantha blanket. On this one, because of all the different blocks and seams, I decided to stitch each block, in the hopes of avoiding most of the seams. The pattern is so busy that I don’t think the different stitching makes a  big difference in the  overall appearance of the quilt.

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I used DMC Coton Floche for the stitching, and it was wonderful to stitch with, but a bit more frail than perle cotton, and also I noticed that it pulled more easily when, ahem, little doggies’ toenails got caught in the thread….  I used a nice thin cotton batting, and muslin for the backing, so again, it was extremely pleasant to stitch. I am sure I will do another one of these, perhaps with a less busy pattern, and maybe I can do more variation with the direction of the stitching.

Some close-ups so you can see the different direction of the stitching.

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And this will probably be my last post for a while. I have four project boxes all ready for my post-op period! Hopefully I’ll have plenty to share with you by the time I feel up to blogging again!

Something Old, Something New

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Something old: I washed an older quilt and put it on my bed to fold it up, and thought I would share it with you. I call this quilt “I Live in Pine Grove.” I do live in Pine Grove, and at the time I made this quilt there was a lot of different fabric with pine trees and pine branches and pine needles on it. I had so much fun collecting all the different pine fabrics. I had just a few fabrics with birds on them, and I made all the blocks and then had fun fitting them together. I hand quilted it. And it is still a quilt that I like very much.

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A new finish: After agonizing over each area–should I add more stitching here? What about this area? How should I do the background? I finally just took the plunge, and finished all the stitching on this quilt. My BF was here for a one day visit, and she asked if I had considered turning it sideways. I hadn’t, but the more I looked at it that way, the more I thought that was the way it should be!

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I wanted to wash it before I blocked it and finished the edge, so I zigzagged around the edge and washed it very gently. And then blocked it on my design wall. I thought about how I wanted to finish the edge, and I decided that I want to do a hand-finished edge. I will do a satin stitch with perle cotton all around the edge. I am going to use the ecru thread that I used for the background. It is busy enough–no need to add any more color to it.

After I cut the edges to their final size, I stitched very carefully around the edge, just to keep it nice and neat while I hand stitch the edge.

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I did enjoy using chain stitch to color in some of the solid areas. Close-up of stitching:

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Something new: And then I wanted to play and make another small quilt to embroider. I LOVE the piece that I used for the What They Said series:

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And so I chose some new fabrics, and made the same block, only larger. Starting with one background fabric, you cut and insert strips and then a circle and then more strips, etc. Very fun to do. I want to explore this more!

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Of course now that I’ve got it done and the sandwich made and basted and all, its like I get all shy, and I don’t know how I want to stitch it! But I’ll just think about it for a bit. That’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

 

 

 

Projects and Project Boxes

I am a multiple project type of gal. I like having multiple projects to work on. But sometimes I get carried away and the projects multiply faster than I can work on them. And that can be overwhelming. That’s when the project boxes come in handy. I can put some of the projects neatly away for a bit. They are all ready for when the mood strikes, but they are not laying around making me feel guilty for the way I choose to work.

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Recently I saw a tiny picture somewhere. It was just a simple quilt, a kind of a square in a square, and I thought, that would be a neat way to use my kantha stitching. It seemed to be a scrappy quilt, and the main square was large with the outer square being more of a frame (where I would embellish with kantha stitching.) Here, like this:

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So I went out and went through my stash, and had great fun cutting out hunks of all my favorite fabrics, and then carefully cutting them into 6 inch squares. I have enough to make each block a different fabric!

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As I cut the squares, I had great fun re-visiting old and new favorite fabrics. It occurred to me that this is a great idea for a memory quilt. So many memories are attached to my fabric–where I was when I bought it, who I was with, and sometimes even the quilts that I have made with the fabric.

Here are some of the other projects I am working on presently. And even more are in project boxes…

Here is the piece that I showed you bits of previously. I have to take long breaks with this one to figure out what I want to do next. So far, each time it seems like “adding more” is the best solution…

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I got out the ten little pieces that I intended for the “Characteristics of God” series. I am making them into sandwiches and embroidering the words on them.

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And in the evenings, this one seems to have taken preeminence, because it is so enjoyable to stitch on with that DMC Coton Floche thread. I choose one block to work on, and then choose the threads that I want to use. It usually takes an evening to stitch one block.

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And in the Evening…

At some point mid-day, I am usually done in the studio. Either I’ve started early in the morning, and I’m ready for my afternoon coffee break, or I stop what I’m doing and go to the gym.

After that, its time to sit in my chair and indulge in some mindless stitching. Back in July, I told you about my “obsession” with making a kantha blanket. Most of the time I stitched on this, I was thinking about how it wasn’t a very good composition, and why was I spending so much time stitching on something that I wouldn’t even like when it was done. But my BF encouraged me, saying that the stitching would pull it all together.

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When I could see that an end was in sight, I stitched more consistently. It was very relaxing and enjoyable to work on. I used a very light weight cotton gauze for the “batting” and plain muslin for the backing. This made it very easy to stitch through all three layers.

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You can probably see–I had one main color of thread (I ordered five spools of the #8 perle cotton in that color) and then I added bits of other colors in the turquoise range, and some oranges, and one lime green. Whatever color I chose, I carried it all the way across the blanket.

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Here is the only place I changed the stitching direction, just for a bit of fun.

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You can see I used mostly prints, but I made a few of my cross cut squares, and a few with circles to add to the interest.

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Pretty much the whole time I worked on this, I was mad at myself for choosing muslin as the backing. How boring! But now that it is done, I like it the muslin back. I can see the stitching, I can see the “mistakes,” and I like that.

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When all the stitching was done, I chose one of the multi-color fabrics to use as a binding. I sewed the binding to the back, and hand-stitched it down to the front. And then the part I like the best–I washed it! After washing it (on delicate cycle, because I wasn’t sure about those long stitches,) it is so soft and cozy. I laid it out on my bed, to see it as a whole piece, and my BF was right–the stitching pulls all those colors and prints together. I really like it. Its nice to like a project when you have spent so much time on it 🙂

Momentum

A few weeks ago, I made a little “in the meantime” piece because I had “nothing” to work on in the evenings–no handwork.

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Since then I have embraced the kantha blanket, and have begun the long journey of repetitive stitching that I had planned for it.

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And then, I finally bit the bullet and started a new project that I had been mulling over since last December.

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Can you guess what it is? I am doing a quilt of “The Hallelujah Chorus.” It has long been one of my favorite pieces of music. When I lived in Texas, our church choir sang it, and we were required to memorize it. The words are magnificent, and have so much meaning to me. I had the idea when I went last December to a beautiful cathedral in downtown Sacramento for a performance of The Messiah. My little idea was that the quilt had to be extremely beautiful, mostly white, with perfect extensive quilting, and of course, the words would be preeminent, and of course beautiful calligraphy. Hmmm. See why I was afraid to start it?

A little thought came along–why don’t you do what you know you can do well? So I decided to use my own handwriting, and to make my circles with embroidery. I bought some silk-type fabric at Joann’s to practice on, and it turned out that I really liked this fabric, so I stuck with it.

I wanted the piece to be a bit larger than most of my embroidered works, so I came up with the idea of doing the circles and the words in separate panels, and then after all of them are embroidered, I will join them into one quilt top and add more quilting.

All I can say is, you just have to try. It very well could have been that these things would not have worked. Heck, they still might not work. But by trying, even if I fail, I have learned something new.

And now, I must leave you. I have a bit of stitching to do 🙂

The Journey

Recently I had lunch with an old friend (who creates AMAZING Pysanky eggs) and she told me about her recent trip to Spain, where she and her husband walked the 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago!! The Camino has been walked by thousands of Christian pilgrims for the past thousand years. Nowadays it is still walked by pilgrims from many faiths, and many times for reasons other than a faith journey. Whatever the reason, it is something that fascinates me. Committing to walking 500 miles, and then following through with that–well that is the kind of thing that inspires me.

My friend recommended two movies–Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, a very well done documentary, and The Way, another excellent movie about the same thing. I watched both movies this past week, and was very moved by the stories of the people walking, and how they continued on in spite of pain and other difficulties. And how each person found special meaning through their walk and the camaraderie that they found along the way.

As I watched (and stitched) it reminded me of the quilting journey I am on. Many times it is a spiritual journey (nothing excites me more than stitching the beautiful words of scripture into a quilt.) Sometimes the journey I have chosen seems endless, and I wonder, “what was I thinking?” as I stitch. But like the pilgrims on their way to Santiago, I learn that the journey is what is important. I will learn many things as I stitch. Sometimes I learn that what I chose to do didn’t work so well. Sometimes there is a turn in the road, and I discover something completely new and unrelated to the current work. Always, there is value in putting hand to cloth and striving to create something beautiful.

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In the Meantime…

While I was working on making my kantha blanket top, I was without a hand stitching project. I found this little sketch in my notebook and thought it would be a fun embroidery project.

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I found an interesting dark fabric to use as the top, and made a sandwich. I decided to “draw” the outline with black perle cotton. In the past I have machine stitched outlines. Once I got into it, I enjoyed this process. If you’ll look close, you will see the outline I drew and the outline I embroidered are not exactly the same. I wasn’t embroidering to scale, and I ran out of room somewhere in the middle. No biggie.

My favorite part–choosing the embroidery threads! And, I found a little case I had gotten at the thrift store, and it is perfect for the threads and the entire project will fit in there.

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I chose a fairly limited palette of colors to work with, and am challenging myself to stick with just these colors.

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Stitching so far:

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