Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Glimpses

The Hoffman is finished, as good as it will get. This picture shows the central image, the idea I started with. The whole composition, which I'm not revealing yet, was the hard part.

Technical issues have plagued this piece. My applique method is one I learned in a class by Jane Sassaman a few years ago. The image is not fused, but traced onto fusible, non-woven interfacing, which gives enough body for machine embroidery or embellishment before the applique is attached to the background (also interfaced). After zig-zagging around the image, the background is trimmed away. This doesn't produce stiffness as you might think, but just a good body, desirable in a wall quilt. However, Pellon has changed their interfacing. I knew it was different, but didn't think anything of it because it looks slightly different every time I buy it. But the new stuff is too stiff and crisp, and didn't fuse smoothly. By the time I realized this problem it was too late to correct it. The background is ok, but some of the more lightly quilted areas puff out too much because of the interfacing. More quilting might have helped the puffiness, but would have caused other problems, so it has to be what it is. I'm moving on...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Life List

This list has been around for a while, but seeing it on Nellie's blog this morning reminded me of it, so here's my life. Things I've done are in bold type. The list is high on travel and old farm girl stuff, and low on adventure (I don't think I'd ride a motorcycle unless my life depended on it), but that's me.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped - no way!
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (if you can call what I do art)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (Doesn't the elevator count? I did that once)
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb (I had pet lamb, pig, calf, chicken...the whole farm)
26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (actually I'm fibbing here--when we were in Venice I was too cheap to pay the very hefty fee for a gondola ride)
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (sort of)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (it doesn't take much)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (and the snow)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check/cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle,
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88.Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club

93. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

That was fun! Here are the rules for you to play, too:
Copy and paste the above list.
Bold the things you’ve done in your edit box.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm home, and hope to stay here awhile. It's hot and muggy, my husband has our deck torn apart, and there are strawberries to be made into jam, but I'm trying to stay calm and upbeat. The basement is the place to be as much as possible!

At guild meeting last night, and one of our members showed her small whole-cloth quilt that won first place for Whole Cloth Traditional at the Machine Quilter's Showcase. It's a beautiful quilt, and quite an honor, as well as a first for our little guild. Congratulations, Denise! The list of winners is something to see.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous--I have finished quilting my Hoffman, and have it pinned down for the first blocking. Binding tomorrow. I hope to have it ready to go by July 1. I'm very ready for some brainless piecing as a change of pace, but I also have to work on ribbons for the guild show. I wonder who might win the machine quilting award...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Out of Town, Out of Sorts

I'm staying with my mom while my sister is away. My job is to keep her company, clean, cook, shop, etc. It has rained every day since I came, and I didn't bring enough to do with me. I brought the big red stars quilt to bind, but that's not fascinating, so I'm a bit in the doldrums.

Trying to keep alert, I've been doing these things:

1. Reading blogs. I like to read Elizabeth Barton's blog. In her latest post, she strongly urges working in a series, not a scattershot approach. I am certainly scattered; but what do I want to serialize? Maybe lilacs?

2. Looking at quilt magazines. My mother has a few, and since I don't buy them anymore, hers seemed new and fresh. I learned about the design team at Blue Underground Studios. These are patterns especially designed to be quick and simple, but they're interesting, sophisticated, and contemporary looking, not just traditional blocks made with unattractively large pieces, like many "quick" quilts.

I also read a kind of "Surface Design for Dummies" article in Quiltmaker that suggested putting diluted fabric paint in a spray bottle and misting fabric with it. That sounds like something it might be fun to try, and was a new technique to me.

3. Gone on a brief fiber art tour. My home town is having a fiber art exhibition scattered through different venues (banks, hospitals, galleries). The link is here for anyone in the central Missouri area who might be interested. It's not possible for me to go out long enough to see everything, but today I caught a couple of the installations, and I hope to see some more later in the week.

One artist had small landscapes framed and matted behind glass. I don't like fabric works behind glass. Framed and matted is fine, but not the glass. It spoils the tactile quality; even though you don't really touch fabric art, you should feel like you can. How do other people feel about that?

4. Reading. I finished The Curate's Wife by a now-forgotten English novelist called E. H. Young. Fascinating picture of marriage, told with quite a bit of humor. I'm now reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog, an odd novel that is a mixture of short philosophical musing about art, beauty, and the meaning of life, social satire, and character study. Interesting. It was apparently a best seller in France for a very long time. On the drive down I listened to The Book Thief. This novel focuses on a young German girl in the years prior to and during WWII. Quite gripping, moving, highly recommended.

If anything else of interest pops up, I'll be back!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A month or so ago, when the lilacs were glorious, I wanted to try to make a little piece with stylized lilacs. I thought, "The leaf is a heart, and the flower cluster is a sort of rounded cone, so I should be able to do that." So I stamped some heart shaped leaves for a background, and then appliqued one fabric leaf and the cone shape on top. Here is the result.

I wasn't very happy with it, and when I asked the men I live with what this is, they both said, "It's three leaves," and then when I asked why the leaves were purple, my hubby ventured, "Well, I guess it could be some sort of seed pod." My son then added (after reading the label), "The individual flowers don't show up enough to be a lilac." He's right. I tried to suggest the flowers with the quilted circle design, but either the thread was the wrong color, or the whole concept is faulty. The circles show up much better in the picture than in reality.

I like the way I did this, though. I wanted to quilt around the stamped shapes, so I did that before I did the applique instead of after. I fused the lilac shape to interfacing, stitched the circles, and then zig-zagged the shape in place, outlining it with another row of stitching. The border was added last with a flip and sew method. With a busy back, I think this approach works fine, and I'll do it again on something small.

When I make something small, my husband often asks, "Is that a hot pad?" In this case he may be right. But maybe not. It still looks like lilacs to me--sort of.

Monday, June 08, 2009

More Glimpses and a Poem

The Blind Men and the Elephant
by John Godfrey Saxe

There were six men of Hindustan,
to learning much inclined,
Who went to see an elephant,
though all of them were blind,
That each by observation
might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant,
and happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
at once began to bawl,
"This mystery of an elephant
is very like a wall."

The second, feeling of the tusk,
cried, "Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an elephant
is very like a spear."

The third approached the elephant,
and happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
thus boldly up and spake,
"I see," quoth he,
"the elephant is very like a snake."

The fourth reached out an eager hand,
and felt above the knee,
"What this most wondrous beast
is like is very plain" said he,
"'Tis clear enough the elephant
is very like a tree."

The fifth who chanced to touch the ear
said, "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
deny the fact who can;
This marvel of an elephant
is very like a fan."

The sixth no sooner had begun
about the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
that fell within his scope;
"I see," said he, "the elephant
is very like a rope."

So six blind men of Hindustan
disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
exceeding stiff and strong;
Though each was partly in the right,
they all were in the wrong!

I'm quilting my Hoffman, and since you're smarter than the six blind men, you can probably fill in the rest. More later--

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The June Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative Auction is underway, and my quilt Not Your Grandmother's Flower Garden is being auctioned. An interesting feature of this month's auction is the little autograph quilts. There's one with the autograph of former First Lady Barbara Bush, and several with autographs of the cast of NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me show, and one with the autographs of lots of well-known quilters. Take a look.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Changing Scene

Good-bye old friend,

and welcome new.

My faithful ping-pong table which I've used as a cutting table for about ten years has finally gone, to be replaced by a new table from Tracey's Tables. The ping-pong table had a huge amount of work space, room to store things under it, and space on top to pile materials and odds and ends. But it was so big that it made access to some of my storage difficult, so I decided it had to go. I've put it on the Free Stuff section of Craig's List, and hope that someone will carry it away and use it as I have. Its days for ping-pong are gone, alas. The new owner can have the cinder blocks too.

The new table is a perfect height, and although smaller, seems to be adequate for most things. The problem is where to put the things previously under and on top of the ping-pong table. I'm working on that...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Fusible Web

Quilt Studio is hosting a series of posts about fusible web, how we use it, what brands we like, etc. I don't use fusible web too much, but I will comment on my experience.

Brands: I've tried Wonder Under, Steam-a-Seam, Steam-a-Seam Lite, Misty Fuse, but my favorite is one called Trans Web. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find this at my local JoAnn's so will have to look on line when my current supply runs out. My biggest gripe about fusibles is that the paper sometimes doesn't release after the first fuse. I have most success by scoring the paper with a pin and pulling from the score, not pulling away a corner. I like Trans Web best because it releases better than the others. There is a new product made by Pellon called Wonder Under Web, which is just what it says, web only, no paper. So you would have to use parchment paper or a teflon press cloth with it. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds promising.

Here's a link to an old post where I talked about fusible brands in a bit more detail.

Fuse the Shape, Fuse the Whole Fabric: I've done both ways. Usually I trace the shape on the paper, fuse, cut out the shape, score the paper and peel it away before the final fusing. But I have cut free hand from a pre-fused piece of fabric for something small and casual, like a post card. That is easier, but you have to be a good free-hand cutter, obviously. You can also trace around a pattern directly on the fusible-backed fabric. This works well for a simple shape.

Finish the Edges Usually. Again, not for a postcard.

How to Clean the Iron Dritz Iron-Off. Works like a charm. The ironing board cover is another matter. I throw those away regularly. :)

Cruise on over to Quilt Studio, read the other links, and add your own.