Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fabric Printing Funnies

The worst is over, actually. After trying various configurations of fabric/adhesive/paper to get the fabric through the printer, the foolproof solution was to buy full page labels and adhere the fabric to those. Worked flawlessly.
Another little discovery was to do a quick zip with a lint roller over my fabric surface before sending it through the printer.

NOW the big question is how to get the same color onto my fabric that I have in my digital image. I used a tightly woven, bright white cotton for today's prints...but they still came out kind of dusty toned. There is so much technical know-how involved in getting the printer to "see" the digital image on the computer properly...and I don't know any of it. So it is time to get busy and do some research...but any suggestions would be most helpful! And thanks!

I think you can see the difference in these two versions of my corner units...

Boo hoo!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Floral Mandala Quilt

This was inevitable.
I just had to see how these floral arrangements would look printed up, sewn into a little quilt, and embellished. Nothing elaborate or time-consuming...I tried one of these a year and a half ago and enjoyed it...quilted that one. This time I just wanted to see what I could whip up pretty quickly.
There was a host of new technical challenges that awaited me, so that was fun. Everything from how to lay out the flowers to get the values in the right places (just starting to figure that out), how to get the fabric through my printer easily (ditto), which fabric to use (still experimenting). How can I lay out my flowers to get patterns within patterns in my simple nine patch arrangement? Another question to pursue...

So here is my first crack at this idea....

This measures about 15" X 15".

There is a nifty article by Diana Ricks in the new CQMagOnline about how to make these velvet roses. Mine don't look as articulate as hers do, but it doesn't really matter than much. They are fun!

Friday, April 27, 2007

More Florals..

I may as well surrender to the season...I am ravished by these flowers starting to bloom all over the yard. And I am greedy, spending 2 hours at the garden nursery yesterday in slow motion looking at all the plants and imagining, buying a few selected treasures.
It is like buying stash.
They play really spacey New Age music all through the tables and tents full of growing things at this place, too....somebody there has something Very Important figured out!

Here you go, Marty... ;-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Playing With Flowers

Always after a big project is over I am at loose ends for a few friend Judy and I call it "PPD", for post-partum to cure that I have been playing with the first blooms of the season....
It might be hard to go back to the Fan Quilt for awhile, with all these spring colors surrounding me...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Finishing the Purple Heart Crazy Quilt...long!

First I just want to thank those of you who have left comments on this series of posts...especially you who have said that this tutorial is giving you confidence to take on your own more complex (i.e. large) crazy quilting projects. Nothing could make this blogging stitcher happier than hearing that!

So, to resume...applying the "dressy back" is much easier and quicker than hand-basting the false back into place. All that is involved is pin basting the backing that will "show', sewing on a grid of buttons on the back that secure all the layers of the quilt together, and then attaching the French Facing--instead of a binding--around the perimeter of the quilt to finish the edges. ...attaching the hanging sleeve was a little tricky, and I would do it slightly differently next time. So I will write about that another day....

I chose a contemporary cotton print for the back that has both red and blue purples in it. I liked the idea of a matte finish on the back to contrast with all the fancy shiny fabrics on the front. I think the contemporary design of the print offsets the old-fashioned look on the front; it's a little unpredictable, which I, I think it will wear better...this quilt is going to be doing some traveling to various exhibits before it finds its home in the hospital.
Here is the backing pinned into place. You can see that it doesn't cover the entire width of the quilt....those edges on the side will eventually be covered by the facing.

To place my buttons, I ran a pin through the lower left corner of the blocks. This helped me locate exactly where to sew my button on the other side. My stitches will come up through that seam line and not show...that is, if I use matching thread. This is a tad obsessive, but why not do it right?

Button in place. There were sixteen total on the back.

See? You can hardly see those stitches coming through from the back.

My bad here. This is a word of caution not to use gel pens to mark outside stitching lines in your block! I like gel pens because I get a fine line that shows up on a dark fabric...but...even though I had marked my 8" X 8" sewing line carefully, any embellishment will shrink up a block some (even when it is interfaced) that when I trimmed up my block, guess what? When I pulled out the stitching line that was over the gel pen line, alas, the line shows and this ink is permanent.
Not a huge deal...but from now on I will only use the gel pens for marking stitching that I know is not going to be pulled out later.

So now for the French Facing Technique. I described it on my late lamented blog, Works in Progress, but that is here we go again. (This will be good practice for writing this technique up formally for CQMagOnline next issue, and who knows, maybe for a book one fine day.)

Before I sew on my facing I need to trim my edges, but before I trim my edges I baste them together close to where I'll be cutting off the ragged part. This saves grief and slippage when sewing on my facing. I want my fabric to behalf itself at all times, particularly that notoriously wiggly velvet!

Niiiice velvet. Goooood velvet.

Oops, I forgot to take a picture of the four strips of this purple lining fabric that I cut, one for each side of the quilt. They were folded long wise and ironed, so that one edge of each strip is finished.
I used this fabric because it adds no bulk and will take a sharp crease when ironed.
Here I am cutting one of four squares that will become the corners of the quilt's facing. Notice the bias is on the straight grain of the fabric.

My little square is ironed in half....

...and pinned onto the RIGHT side of the quilt corner.

You can see here the strips pinned on top of the corner triangle, but not quite to the ends. The raw edges are at the seam line and the folded edges face the center of the quilt.

Then I have sewn my seam around the corner, over all the layers. See why I wanted thin fabric? Also, notice how I have trimmed the corner at an angle. Can you guess what is going to happen next?

Voila! I turned the corner right side out, sliding the strips under it so that no raw edges show, pinned all in place, and....

....then I hand sewed everything down. (Sorry the corner keeps changing directions from one picture to the next.)

This is how it looks from the front. Except for that miter missing the corner by 3/16" (Dang!!! Points off here!!!), it is a nice looking, clean and square corner.

The last step in finishing the quilt was sewing on the lovely label that Barbara Blankenship, the lady who organized this quilt, created for it.

Her embellishment work is so delicate and truly reflects a Southern gentlewoman!

So here it is at last, all done and ready to be mailed. I kept track of how much time this whole construction process took me...I was curious...and if anyone wants to hire me professionally to do this for them I will know what to charge: ALOT! It took me 30 hours exactly.

Glad, so glad to do it. And I've been equally happy to drag you all along with me!

The quilt will be unveiled May 6th at Walnut Street Gallery in Perkasie, PA, in conjunction with a great show featuring the art bras, and related objects, from the Way to Womens Wellness Foundation. It will travel to Texas, Maine and Virginia this year before finding its permanent home in a cancer treatment center.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Many thanks to my friends Sonji, LinMoon, Elizabeth, and Pat Winter who tagged me for the Thinking Blogger Award...I appreciate this honor friends! When tagged we are supposed to post five blogs that inspire us and make us think, blogs we read regularly.

So many of the blogs I read are by people I now consider good friends...and there is no way I want to leave anybody out here! So I thought I would just draw attention to three blogs that I really like that maybe aren't so textile related.

Mindtracks is Sharon Boggon's blog for her students in her university class on internet literacy for designers and art students. She has to stay up on the cutting edge of the evolution of social software, design programs, and issues pertaining to digital culture, among other things . An example of a typical post is her recent link to a new online academic journal, Digital Humanities Quarterly.
I often direct cool finds like this to my son Max, who is a Computer Engineering student at the University of Washington. He liked the article on "Interpretative Quests in Theory and Pedagogy"--it's about game quests--and said he converted it to an MP3 and is listening to it on his Zen Mp3 player...
Reading Sharon's blog actually helps me sound at least minimally "with it" to Max....another good reason for his old mom to read it!

Arts and Letters Daily a service of the Chronicle of Higher Education, is one of those compilers of interesting articles on philosophy, aesthetics, literature, language, ideas, criticism, culture, history, music, art, trends, breakthroughs...oh, and disputes and gossip. There is a fantastic sidebar with links to all sorts of terrific publications. I found a great article here about those nutcases who create the cartoons for the New Yorker magazine...and how they put together a book called The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, or Will See, in the New Yorker. Good sick fun for us New Yorker cartoon fans!

BibliOdyssey is the creation of a fellow named Paul from Sydney, Australia...he comes up with the most obscure graphic images I have ever seen...I wrote to him asking how to find all the different flower posts in his archives and he sent me this terrific link to all the posts that have floral tags. Really helpful...he must be one interesting guy. (This link could keep you flower lovers busy for hours and hours.)

I will tastefully refrain from listing any blogs that concern themselves with current events or politics...

All in all, I love the phenomenon that is blogging. It's a good thing!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Applying the False Back to the Crazy Quilt

After I took a little two and a half hour detour to get the lavender piping sewn on last night, I was ready to construct my CQ "sandwich"this morning, of top, drapery lining batting, and a false back of very thin cotton lawn.
I described this process in the latest issue of CQMagOnline so I will just post some pictures here.

Here is the layer of interfacing going onto the back. I have the quilt laid out on a puffy towel so that as I gingerly iron on the interfacing, I won't squish all the beautiful silk ribbon work on the front of the quilt. As before, the release paper goes between the iron and the interfacing as I fuse. Adding this layer of interfacing helps the quilt to hang really nicely.

The batting layer and then the cotton lawn are being pin-basted into place here.

The quilt is rolled up and ready for the hand-quilting (more like basting, really) from the back. With every stitch I have to flip the quilt over to make sure it doesn't show through the front.

When there is a heavy embellishment on the front, I take some extra stitches to give it more support from the back.

This beaded polymer clay face on the block by Linda Boudreau of Nova Scotia, is what was given extra support in the above picture. Really sweet, isn't it?

Here is the completed false back. You can see the little islands of extra stitching corresponding to where the heavier objects are on the front.

Tomorrow, the "fancy back" goes on and French Facing edge finishing technique will complete the quilt! ....except for the sleeve...but I will try and get that done too.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Purple Velvet Border

I sewed on the purple velvet border this morning, and mitered the corners. It's not my favorite task, but mitered corners are classy so I did it!
Then as I was just about to start with putting the quilt "sandwich" together, I just had to go and hold some cording up to the edge between the border and the blocks...I used cording in the same way on "Crazy for Flowers" and so had to see how it would look here.
So now I just have to add the cording because it looks good!
But it is so nice outside that I am headed to the garden, while the sun decides to shine for once!

I decided to go with the same technique of fusing the interfacing onto the border strips to fill them out thickness wise. For some reason it did not stay fused very well,...maybe it can't get hot enough on the I ended up catching just the edge of the interfacing in my seam line.

Here is some of Vicki Day's yummy cording going on. That is Victoria Brown's lovely block showing.
To see all the blocks individually, click here.
Marty asked if other contributers to this project have blogs or sites, and a few of the ladies do:
Willa Fuller, Stephanie Novatski, Judith Green, and Victoria Brown have sites. (Vickie Brown's is her online store, RibbonSmyth.) If other of the ArtBraLadies have blogs or sites, I would sure like to know about it! ;-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sashing the Crazy Quilt Blocks

I had a marathon session today, getting the 25 blocks sashed.
I am so happy with how it turned out, and it is all due to a little conceptual break-through I had...Undoubtedly others have thought of this before, because it is so logical a solution...but it was a new idea to me.
The big problems with narrow sashing between heavily embellished crazy quilt blocks are two: one is keeping the sashing strips even as they are sewn. The eye really picks up wavy lines in narrow sashing. The second problem is the difference in the weight between the sashing strips and those heavy, multi-fabric layered blocks. So to solve these problems I fused 3/4" strips--the finished width of my sashing--of fusible craft "batting" (it is more like an extremely thin timtex) to the center of my strips.
This solved the two problems at once. The batting gave me a perfect sewing line, and it filled out my dupioni sashing just perfectly so that the quilt hangs just great.

You can tell by the lighting that I started early this morning! These are my craft batting strips.

I used my ruler to line up 1/4" on either side of my fused strip and sliced it. I didn't think interfacing my dupioni first was necessary because of the fused craft batting...but I should have known better. The edges did fray a bit during sewing.

The other good decision I made was in the choice of foot I used on my Juki, the "compensating presser foot". The "toes" on the left of the foot give slightly more clearance for the fabric to go under than the "toe" on the right. This helped with the bulk of the edge of the block going under that side of the also gave me a nice 1/4" edge to line the edge of my seam up against. All in all, a great way to go.

But...when there was a bead smack in the seamline I had to interrupt the machine sewn seam, then go back and sew that part of the seam by hand.

I just couldn't cut off that pretty purly white bead, now could I?

The lighting isn't great in this shot, but you can see the results of today's efforts. So far, so good!

Do click on this picture so you can see Stephanie Novatski's tree in good detail...I am so enjoying "getting to know" these blocks better as I work with them!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trimming the Blocks

The twenty-five gorgeous blocks were almost all in a proper state of readiness...the 8" seam line was delineated with stitching, there were adequate margins all the way around that line for cutting a clean edge to make the blocks exactly 8 1/2" square...a few blessed ladies even had surged the perimeters of their blocks so there was no fraying.

Job one, then, was to interface the blocks one by one and then trim them to size.
But why interface them first?
My friends and readers know by now that I don't like working with floppy blocks. Plus, the interfacing gives a nice clean edge to some of those easily fraying silks or fancy least, it is clean enough for the next step, which will be sewing the sashing between the blocks.
Also, the interfacing can give a little extra "territory" to the block if it ends up being a little less than 8 1/2" (see below; Willa, you are about to be publicly busted, and for this I do apologize in all friendship and humility! But it is only because your block was so heavily embellished that it shrank right up. This is why it is good to interface before you start stitching, will help prevent that shrinkage.)

So here is how the trimming process looked, times twenty-five:

Judith Green, of New Zealand, made this beauty. Here it is positioned onto the fusible knit interfacing, which I will cut to size.

The fusing. I have a cushy towel on my ironing board to provide "give" for all the 3D embellishments on the surface of Judith's block. The block is placed face down on some release paper, with more release paper between the interfacing and the hot iron. If any edge of the interfacing is hanging over the edge of the fabric, this way it won't gunk up my towel. The top layer of paper is to prevent the iron from melting the interfacing, which sometimes can happen.

Trimming it up here. I used my spiffy ruler that has increments marked in inch-and-a-halves, so it was easy for me to line up my 8 1/2" square over the block.

Most of the time I didn't worry about cutting through hand stitching in the seam treatments. Too many of them extended over my cutting line...and the interfacing helps hold the stitches in place on the back. But here I went "around" this buttonhole fan, as I didn't want the whole thing to come apart when I cut into it.
I should say that the trimmed edges are fragile and unstable, but because the blocks are not being touched again (aside from being pinned back up on the wall) until they are to be sewn, I think they will be fine for the time being.

Willa my dear, your block is my favorite of all of them and will be placed right in the center of the quilt. But it is not 8 1/2". I fused interfacing onto the edge to give me my exact needed size...but the interfacing is wider than my 1/4" seam allowance will be, so it would therefore show after the block was sashed. So I am going to add some purple fabric along the edge and retrim it. I do that all the time to my blocks. So the problem will be easily solved.

There are a couple of details I just have to share here because they are so cool!

This is Stephanie Novatski's beaded butterfly. Isn't it wonderful?
(Sorry my new all-seeing camera picks up any stray thread that my poor eyes sure don't notice when I snap the picture...)

Barbara Blankenship made this fascinating beaded ribbon rose. She meticulously sewed that picot beaded edge to some ribbon before she gathered it and made a rose out of it. That is dedication.

Tomorrow I will sew these blocks together with some yummy gold dupioni sashing fabric that I purchased this morning. Now it is off to the gym!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Purple Hearts Hospital Quilt...Assembly Beginning

I have accepted the job of assembling the crazy quilt using the Purple Hearts quilt blocks that members of my online group, the ArtBraLadies, have created for a cancer treatment center.
I will be using the principles and techniques that worked for me while assembling and finishing "Crazy for Flowers". This process is written up in an article for the latest issue of CQMagOnline which has just gone's a great issue, so do check it out!
It was an absolute thrill to unpack the blocks, hold them in my hands, and just swoon over the design, workmanship, and love in each and every one of them. Photos don't do them justice....
but here are some anyways! They are all 8" square.

This is Leonie Hartley-Hoover's exquisite work. Sigh.....

Julie Edison's ravishing ribbon work is featured here.

Willa Fuller's work is always exuberant and original....

Here they all are, pinned up on the wall. My first job will be to decide on what color of sashing to use between the initial thought was gold, for contrast. I'm going to be doing some auditioning this afternoon...!
I'll be blogging the whole endeavor, tutorial-style, so check back to see how this comes together.