Friday, February 26, 2010

February Interpret This

31" x 32"

It was a rocky road this month.  It never occurred to me to be thematic, I think because I've done Chinese before, so I tried to keep a visual relationship to the original photo (which you can see here).  Since I don't draw, and prefer to work with shapes, this was difficult.  I could only see the circle and the diagonal.  You can read more about my struggles on the Interpret This blog.  Be sure to look at all the other interpretations too--two already posted and more to come today through Sunday.  There's a fascinating range of approaches.

Some technical points that might be interesting:  1.  Quilting with a walking foot at an angle that's not a straight bias is difficult.  The quilt tries to move back to the straight and narrow, producing lines that are wonky in a different way than intended.  It also distorts the quilt a great deal.  2.  Twelve weight thread and batiks are not a good match, at least on my Janome.  Even with a #14 topstitch needle I had problems with skipped stitches and thread breakage.  I've ordered some #16/100 needles for next time.  3.  I was using a scrap of Quilters' Dream Poly batting which has been recommended as good for wall quilts. Having used it twice now, I don't think I'd agree.  Its denseness compounded the stitching problem, and being polyester, it didn't help in blocking the quilt back into shape.  Now that it's gone, I won't buy more.

I have this piece hanging in my studio, and I like it more all the time.  Odd how your feelings about things change.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interpret This Reveals

Thank you, everyone who commented on the quilt show question.  I was surprised how few people who commented entered shows at all.  I guess in spite of the hassle and expense involved, we're all glad that the large shows exist, and they do need the support of entries.  Definitely a two-way street.

For an on-line show (sorry no vendors) click on the Interpret This button to see the February reveals beginning this morning.  That plate of Chinese food is sure to have produced some interesting interpretations.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Serious Question

This isn't intended to be a rant, or a complaint.  It's more a "what's it all about?" question.

In the last few weeks, I've packed and shipped quilts for three shows.  This is an unusual number for me, and so I've been thinking about the process of entering shows, and why anyone  does it.  I always think it will be fun, until there comes the actual work of finding a box, folding the quilt to fit the box, finding the proper packing (plastic bag, pillowcase, NO pillowcase), assembling the mailing label, the show's ID label, the inside address, the return shipping check, the photograph, and anything else a particular show might want.  Then there's sealing the box, addressing the box, driving to the post office or UPS,  standing in line, and of course,  paying.  But then I forget about the hassle, and do it again the next time.

But after doing this chore three times in quick succession, I'm seriously considering saying "Never again." I have no hope of a prize, all I'll have is a page of not very helpful judges' comments. (One show is not judged, so there won't even be that.)  Surely a large majority of people who enter shows share my expectations.   If only those who win or hope to win entered, quilt shows would be small indeed.  Why do we enter?  Any thoughts about this?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some Shopping, Some Sewing

I'm back home, after a good visit with grandchildren, son and daughter-in-law.  Two year olds have lots to say, and lots of opinions, as we all know!

I made a quick stop at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston.  Such a wonderful place!  It almost makes me wish I were still doing garment sewing.  But I bought only thread, and just gave the fabric a quick walk through.  Interesting shoppers there, always very multi-cultural; this time there was a group of women in full veils, one in what I think was a burkha.  They were admiring the gorgeous silks and taffetas, so someone is going to wear something that isn't black.

Across the street at 10,000 Villages I couldn't resist a bag of tagua nut beads.  Aren't they wonderful?  They're very lightweight, and I thought they'd make great embellishments.  Of course, I usually don't embellish, but who knows...

Now I'm busily quilting my challenge quilt, having some difficulty.  The combination of 12 wt thread, batiks, and a dense batting has been causing skipped stitches and breaking thread, but after some experiment with needles, I think I've got it licked.   I started with a #14 quilting needle, switched to a #14 metallic needle, but it seems to be the #14 topstitching needle that does the trick.  Back to work.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Teaser

Check out that orange border--1/8 inch!  The other day Karen of Lee Haven posted her beautiful narrow border, and today as I was finishing the top of the Interpret This challenge, I remembered that, and also that Sally Collins talks about how to do tiny borders.  So I pulled out her book Borders, Bindings and Edges, followed the directions, and they worked beautifully.

The top is ready for quilting now.  That was my goal for the day.  I'm spending the last four days of the week in Evanston with grandchildren and won't be able to sew, so I had to get at least this far to meet the deadline.

Another deadline is the one for mailing entries to the Smoky Mountain Quilt Show, so I have a label and new sleeve to sew tonight.  That would be good Olympics-watching work, but I haven't been able to get interested this time.  I don't know why; maybe I'll give it another chance.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Greetings

This lovely card was made by Joy Vale in Australia; it came to me through the Stitchin' Fingers swap.   I wish everyone love and happiness today.

And--it's teaser time at Interpret This.  If you visit the blog you may get some sense of what we're doing.  The reveals start February 25.      

Thursday, February 11, 2010

This 'n That--Some Celebrations

1.  I spoke to my mother on the phone today, and wonder of wonders. the valentine I mailed on Monday arrived.  Not only that, she loved it.  Apparently the combination of red satin and lace is just what she thinks a valentine should be.  So hooray for me, and hooray for the USPS!

2,  At guild tonight, a member showed fabric she had bought on a trip to the Bahamas.  She had stumbled across a local guild's show, and naturally jumped at the chance to visit.  She said, "My husband started to laugh.  He said,  "I feel like I'm in South Bend.'  The quilts and everything else at the show were exactly like what you see here."   I don't know about you, but I think that's depressing.

3. ( Not totally unrelated to #2)  Today, I picked up a copy of a book called One Hundred Japanese Quilts, the catalog of a show I saw in the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2004.  Believe me, these quilts DO NOT look like what you'd see in South Bend.  I am endlessly amazed by the individuality, the invention, the intricacy of these quilts.  When I first bought it, I studied it for hours.  I haven't looked at it for a while, and it's a pleasure to rediscover it, and to know that it hasn't lost its wonder.

So what's the connection between these two points?  When what is seen at quilt shops and shows looks so much the same, whether in Indiana or the Bahamas, it's wonderful to know that there are individual visions out there.  They're in the Japanese quilts, and in some of the quilts I saw at guild tonight, and in what I see on-line.  Hooray for that individuality, too!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Guilt: or What I've Done and What I Haven't Done

What I've done is a baby quilt for my son's best friend's new baby.  It's currently drying, and when that's finished I'll post it.  The baby was born in December, so this needed to be done.

What I haven't done is make much progress on my Interpret This February challenge.  I have an idea, but it seems to be taking a long time, and doesn't really thrill me.  Maybe there's a connection there.

I also didn't make valentines for my grandchildren.  I had an idea, but didn't get to it, and now it's too late.  They won't know or care, a commercial card is just as good, but I feel guilty.

I also didn't make a valentine for my mother.  Well, I did, and here it is, but it won't arrive in time.

The only reason I post this is that I'm pleased with the solution I worked out as to how to use the slippery, fraying bit of satin as a background.  I edge stitched it directly to the Peltex, leaving a bit of an edge. This stabilized it so I could do the applique hearts, which are scraps of kimono silk. Then I painted Fray Check around the edge on the wrong side and trimmed after it dried.  No fraying.  The edge is a big of cheap synthetic lace with a little glitter to it.  It crunched up beautifully with a wide zig-zag and should hide any other tendency to fray.  I like that so much, I might even buy more of the stuff!

I also  haven't been to the gym for too many days.  I'm off there now, and to the grocery, since we're supposed to have lots of snow tonight and tomorrow.


The baby quilt is now finished.  

Very unorthodox, yes?  My son chose the fabrics, and while he doesn't really know what the parents might like, his guess is probably better than mine.  They're a theater couple living in a hip part of Brooklyn, so blue teddy bears didn't seem right.   Laurel Burch demon horses it is!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Another Texture Study

Texture Study 2--Black
7" x 10"

When I was making arty clothing, I found that the best selling items were vests, jackets, and bags made out of a variety of black fabrics--no color, just the textures that the different fabrics or black-on-black prints produced.  So it was natural to follow up the white texture study I posted recently with this black one.   The background is a faux suede, and because I didn't want any more light or variety in it, I didn't quilt it.  I just quilted around the shapes and followed the curves in the brocade.  Instead of binding, I zig-zagged black rat tail cording in place.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


This fabulous valentine came from Judy McCarthy of Australia through a Stitchin' Fingers swap.  These ladies put my efforts to shame, I'll tell you!  Thanks, Judy.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thanks and a Recommendation

Thank you to everyone who visited my self-portrait and made such kind comments.  I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  The idea was a while in coming, but once it did, everything went together smoothly. Sometimes that happens, I guess.

The February challenge photo has been posted, and if you're curious about what we're up against, go over and check the Interpret This blog and take a look.  A lovely picture, but challenging.  I've made some notes, and may have an idea of how to proceed.

As I was hanging the self-portrait, I remembered a tip to share.  Did you know that used sewing machine needles make great nails to hang lightweight pictures or small wall hangings?  They're very strong and make such a small hole that the wall isn't marred.  I have a TicTac box full of dulled needles that I use for this purpose.  Now if there was only a perfect use for dull rotary blades...