Thursday, January 28, 2010

Self Portrait

                                         14" x 14" fusible applique, machine pieced, hand quilted

You can read more about my self-portrait on  the Interpret This blog.  This was a challenge, both in planning and in technique.  I did quite a bit of work in Photoshop to manipulate my photograph and create the faint background images.

I also used some new techniques with the fusible applique.  This was by far the most delicate fusible job I've ever done and I wanted to minimize the tracing and retracing of the pattern, both for convenience and for accuracy.  After some thought, I worked out a way that I thought was very successful.  It probably isn't new, but it was new to me.

After I got the image the way I wanted it in Photoshop, I printed a copy as a reference copy, then I printed it on a clear plastic sheet of the kind that used to be used for overhead projectors.  You could also make a tracing or maybe print on lighter paper.  This copy is for an overlay to help place the pieces.   I used a Sharpie to draw a dotted line from the center point of each side, and make a pencil mark in the seam allowance of the background fabric as alignment points.

 Then I pressed the shiny side of a printer-sized sheet of freezer paper to the right side of the fabric.  (I used batik so there wouldn't be any fraying.)  I pressed hard with a hot iron to make sure there was a very tight bond.  I put this through the printer so the image was on the dull side of the freezer paper.

Then without removing the freezer paper, I attached fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric according to directions.  I used TransWeb, but Wonder Under would probably work.  I wouldn't use
Steam-a-Seam though because I don't think it bonds tightly enough.  Then I removed the paper back of the fusible.

Using an Exacto knife, I cut through the freezer paper, fabric, and fusible and cut out the piece.  Then I removed the freezer paper.  You can see I started with easiest part, the shoulders.

Then I placed the plastic overlay on top of the background, lining up the marks, and slipped the cutout piece underneath, lining it up with the printed shape on the overlay.  When it was correct, I carefully lifted the overlay, and pressed the cut out lightly.   Here you can see the marked reference lines on the overlay, and the very dark part where I've put the shoulders in place underneath.

I cut and placed a few pieces at a time until everything was placed. After everything was placed and lightly pressed, I pressed again with hot iron to set it tightly.

This technique would have to be adapted if you're using more than one fabric in your applique.  But as it is, it's perfect for a silhouette or for letters, since the image isn't reversed and can be cut very accurately.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Be sure to check the Interpret This blog tomorrow morning to see the first self-portrait reveals.  Comments are welcome.   Mine is done, set to be revealed Thursday, and I can't wait to see the others.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wonky Curves Charity Quilt

The charity quilt I was working on it now finished, bound and washed, and I love the way the Mountain Mist batting turned out.  It's soft and drapeable,  with enough loft to show the quilting stitches.  I'm pleased with the quilting too, actually.  Thank you Supreme Slider and Janome.  The overall look is less pleasing to me--an odd mixture of gentle and almost straight curves.  That's a lesson for next time, I guess.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quilt Batting

Cotton or wool batting seems to be the preferred choice for most quilters now, and that's all I've used for quite a while.  But recently I haven't been happy with the way cotton batting looks in the quilts I make for guild service projects.  The flatness of the cotton doesn't seem to say warm, cozy, and cuddly for a small child.  Also, the easy care of polyester seems a good thing for these quilts.  Not all families have access to washers and dryers with gentle settings, or the time for line drying.

So for this one, I bought Mountain Mist 100% polyester with  medium loft.  At the halfway point in the quilting, I'm very happy with it.  I like the puffiness, and it clings as well to the fabric as the cotton battings do, maybe better. There are no pleats or puckers, at least so far.  When it's been bound and washed, I'll know better, but right now it seems a good choice.  Good thing, because I bought a king size batt at JoAnn's half price sale, planning to make four child-size quilts.

Maybe it's the stiff, cheap batting sold by the roll that gives polyester a bad name.  This is quite different, worth a second look.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Texture Study

                                                            Texture Study     8" x 10"

It seems a long, long time since I had a finished piece, but finally here is one.  For Christmas, I received a copy of Lyric Kinard's book art + quilt and have started working through some of her exercises.  One of the first ones is to make a piece in all white or off-white, focusing on texture.  When I made "wearable art" I used lots of monochromatic fabric combinations, so I had plenty of interesting scraps.  This piece includes satin, corduroy, chintz, polar fleece, as well as muslin, and some pearl trim.   This was fun, and I like the results.  I've already cut and planned another in black.  It's amazing how many different blacks there are, and how beautiful they can be when combined.

I've also finished my self-portrait for Interpret This, and put together the curved piecing blocks I made for the guild program back in November.  They'll be a charity quilt when they're finished.  And--I trimmed the all the blocks for the basket quilt, laid them out on the guest room bed, and plan to slowly sew them together, aiming for February 1 as the finish date.

Last, but not at all least, thanks to all the helpful answers to my questions.  It looks like I'll be ordering a bendable bright light in the near future, and probably going with "Harvest Gold nouveau" for the dining room walls.  And to those of you who suggested repainting if the color didn't work, easy for you to say!  I won't admit how long it's been since the last paint job.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


1.  Does anyone have a Bendable Bright Light?  Is it worth the money?

2.  Does anyone have the clip-on-your-glasses magnifiers like my dentist and dental hygienist use?  If so, where did you buy them?  The ones I find on Google cost a fortune.  Keepsake Quilting has some much cheaper ones in the catalogue, and I'm curious if they're any good.

3.  Why do I have to click Submit Comment twice on some blogs?  And even more annoying, on others, why do I have to click twice, and then add the letters too?  Is there something I can change on my settings to avoid this?  Do other people do something to their settings to cause this?

4.  In deciding on paint colors,  I'm leaning toward something that looks a lot like 70's Harvest Gold, except grayer, for my dining room.  I know this is really impossible to answer since there are so many variables, but has anyone had any experience in living with walls this color?  Is it too much?  The room has lots of light in the day time, sun in the winter although it doesn't shine much here, but no sun in summer.  There are no draperies, no rug, and the room opens into the high-ceiling living space which will be Antique White.  (And no matter what some have said:  white walls are NOT a refusal to decide.  They ARE the decision!)

There's lots of knowledge and opinions out there.  I'd welcome any input.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Time for Tantalizing Teasers

Click on the Interpret This button on the sidebar to see hints about the self-portraits the group is working on.  The reveals begin January 27.  Warning:  these teasers are definitely teasing!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Works-in-Progress

As I've said, I'm hand quilting my Interpret This self-portrait. I appreciate the suggestions about the net question, and it's interesting to know how many of us suffer when we do handwork. Here's a shot showing those beautiful quilting stitches I mentioned yesterday, with my hand in its support glove. The glove is very helpful. Also, like Rian, I have little bits of freezer paper to show. I used an Exacto knife to cut these; that's something I've never done before, but it worked great.

I'm also working on this little piece. It's a texture study using all white and off-white fabric, based on an exercise in Lyric Kinard's book, art + quilt. Since taking this picture, I've added horizontal lines of stitching underneath the circle shapes and am doing some seed stitches in the center circle, which gives it a pebbly texture.  (More handwork!)  These changes have improved it, and I think I'm going to like it. A finished version should be visible soon.

And finally, the temperature is above freezing, and I was able to go to the car wash!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Addiction?

As a joke, people say quilting is an addiction. But when you keep doing something that hurts, is it a joke?

I'm hand quilting my self portrait for the Interpret This challenge. (I chose to hand quilt because I couldn't think of a way to machine quilt I thought would work well.) Hand quilting hurts my wrists and my hands, which have been feeling a bit arthritic the last few days. So this morning when I woke up with pain, I resolved to give the project a rest today. But I've been back at it. Hmmm.

Ironically, this is a small piece, with really just a few hours of work, and my quilting stitches are ugly anyway. So the painful fascination has no rational cause. Oh, well. I think I'll stop now, and go have some food--that's harmless, right?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hand Quilting over Net

Did anyone ever hand quilt over nylon net/tulle? I put net over a small piece with unstitched applique. I intended to machine quilt, but have decided to do simple hand quilting instead. After two rows of hand quilting the effect is unattractively puckered. The back is not puckered, but just quilted looking, so I'm blaming the net. Does anyone know anything about this? I can remove the net at this stage, but before I do, I thought I'd ask for advice. Thanks to anyone who has ideas.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Happy Twelfth Night, everyone. I undecorated the Christmas tree easily with lots of help and companionship from the cat, but then the Lord of Misrule must have taken over, because everything went crazy. I don't understand what happened.

First, I was printing out some photos on fabric treated with Bubble Jet Set the way I always do. They looked perfect, but when I washed them according to instructions, they faded so much that one was unusable. I don't know if I mixed up treated with untreated fabric, my detergent wasn't "mild" enough, or what. So I made some more, which required treating fabric and waiting for it to dry. These I didn't wash. As long as I don't touch the project with water during construction, it should be ok since it won't be washed.

Then while I waited for the fabric to dry, I worked on the pieced setting triangles. First there was the math error. Recut. Then there was the positioning error. Rip and re-sew. Then there was pressing direction error. I pressed again, went back to sew, and discovered that the first direction was right after all! How did that happen?!

In the middle of this, the painter who told us he'd "get to us sometime after Christmas" called. He may get to us next week. I'm not ready for moving furniture, thinking about paint colors, etc. We have an open plan house, so he would be painting living room, family room, dining room, and part of the kitchen. What a mess. But I guess I can cope. It had to happen sometime.

The good news is that I did finish the setting triangles and can see what this quilt looks like. I'll sew it together eventually, but there are other projects to do, and paint chips to look at.

More good news--no snow today.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Planning Ahead

One thing I'm looking forward to this year is participating in the Interpret This group. Eleven of us have committed to the challenge of creating a work every month based on a photo. All members will interpret the same photo, except for January, when each of us will interpret a photo of ourselves. Clicking on the Interpret This badge in the sidebar will take you to the blog dedicated to the challenge, where you can read an introduction by the members, see albums of our work, and at the end of the month see the reveals. If you haven't seen this blog yet, I hope you'll go look, and sign up to be a follower.

I'm not posting year long goals, but besides the Interpret This challenge, I hope to work through some design exercises I received as a Christmas gift, make as many service quilts as I did last year, keep making small works for Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative, and do whatever else strikes my fancy! One of the first things is to finish Boring Baskets. I finished the alternate blocks yesterday, and will now start the pieced setting triangles--maybe today!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Been and Back, Again

This shot of St. Patrick's cathedral with snow outlining the stonework on the spires is one of the few good photos I have of New York City. There were plenty of photo-worthy sights, but I either didn't have my camera, was too distracted to pull it out, or photos weren't allowed anyway.

Highlights: 1. Fela!, the broadway show about the life and music of Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician and political activist. This was a compromise choice that both my husband and I agreed on, and it was a lucky one. I never heard of Fela before, but I've always liked Afro-pop music, and the acting, general production, and especially the dancing were outstanding. Watch for it to win big at the Tonys.
2. Der Rosenkavelier at the Metropolitan Opera. We only had two and a half hours sleep that night because of an early flight, but it was well worth it. ( A no-photo place: I was yelled at for trying to take a picture of the chandeliers.)
3. The Metropolitan Museum is always wonderful, and there are always new things to see. We intended to spend just a few hours, but stayed all day in spite of the crowds.
3. Delicious food everywhere.

No, we did not stand in Times Square on New Year's Eve. We took a harbor cruise instead. It was a bit tacky, with lots of bad booze and bad food and crazy people, but fun anyway.

I only made a quick pass through a few stores in the garment district, and only bought one piece of fabric for a gift.

But here's a quilt story. On New Year's Day, I was walking up Fifth Avenue past a souvenir shop, when I happened to see, of all things, two antique quilts in the window, and the sign: Antique Quilts in the Back of the Store. So I went in, and there were indeed beautiful antique quilts. My favorite was a mint condition, 1870 quilt with thousands of one-inch square pieces. I chatted with the nice woman in charge, who turned out to be Mary Koval, who as you probably know, designs reproduction fabrics. Here's her website, and information about the store in New York City.

Now we're home, and snowed in, so I hope to do some work!