Sunday, April 29, 2012

Getting Sandy

After straightening up my fabric stash I could finally get to my "Sand" fabrics to work on the beach scene. Before I go further with the figures I had to work on the background, I can already see I am going to have contrast issues with the skin tones and the sand. Maybe the quilting outlines in rayon will give me enough of a contrast and help the figures stand out more. It looks really awesome, the fabrics blend together well, I will still be adding shadows on the sand, to the figures, and blending into the water will be a challenge. The sand castle will have to have contrast or you won't see it at all. I also worry about the black and white border collie being too stark, and drawing your eye to it. But I think it is a good start, I will probably be adding contrast and shadows to the sand, and giving it more depth, maybe with tulle overlays or organza. I also have hand dyed cheesecloth for sea weed, and real sea shells to embellish with.

My Stash

My stash has be getting over whelming for some time now. My shelves are so full, you can't even slide one more piece into the stack, they are wedged too tight. So everything was starting to pile up on the edge of the shelves, and threatening to fall over. I also could NOT find the fabrics I was looking for. I have occasionally weeded out the older fabric, the uglies, the stuff I just won't use, but it was useless, I still bought more than I got rid of or used. I had really limited my fabric buying in the last several years, only buying fabric for borders and backings. Except for the occasional MUST HAVES! My stash consists of a lot of fat quarters, Bali batiks, landscape fabrics, Blue and purple, and all those weird conversation prints of alligators, playing cards, eagles, school buses, Elvis, soccer balls, etc... So it was time for the big straightening and clean up. BEFORE PICTURES---
It took me several hours at a time, to get control of each section, refolding, straightening, getting rid of stuff, and trying to get it to fit back on the shelves. It is always fun to play with your fabric, to touch it, look at it closely, and wonder why in the hell you bought that in the first place. I discovered some wonderful fabrics that I had forgotten that I had, the joy of discovery was almost as fun as going shopping in the first place. But the realization that I will NEVER use it all was sort of depressing, try as I might I can hardly make a dent in it, and I am a prolific quilter. AFTER----
My fabric is arranged in color groups, pink, mauve, burgundy, reds, and blues, turquoise, teals, then greens, then oranges, yellows, etc...the batiks are separate, but also arranged by color, and all the landscape fabrics are separate, arranged by type, leaves, foliage, bricks & stones, bark, animal prints, water & sky, etc.. The photos only show a portion of the fabric that I have, I have several more shelf areas, and boxes and bags and other stuff. It truly is over whelming. The fabric that I removed from the shelves, became precut pieces for baby quilts and charity quilts. The guild has a "Create a Block" project where we let people at our show and other events, arrange fabric into blocks, that we sew and use for charity quilts. I have a large supply of precut pieces that I play with at home too. It took quiet a while to cut up fabric, the leftovers I give to a friend's "Aunt Marilyn" she loves to make scrap quilts, and I give her a lot of my scraps.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beatles Song Challenge

I am working on the new challenge for Fyber Cafe. Our textile group is going to do a 12 x 12 block with a Beatles Song theme. I got an idea in my head for a strawberry design, then refined it into a diminishing spiral to signify the "Forever" part of the song title. I did a quick full size sketch to get the size and dimension of the spiral correct, then sketched in strawberries, getting smaller and smaller along the spiral.
Selecting an assortment of red Bali batiks, I immediately started freehand cutting strawberry shapes, then I had to choose a background. The complimentary color of green worked well, a bright lime for the spiral and a darker green with lime dots for the background. Adding green tops, and using a glue stick to glue it all down was the next step. My sewing machine is going to be in the shop, so if I get out my spare machine, I might get the quilting done too.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Umpqua Valley Quilters' Guild Show

The Umpqua Valley Quilters' Guild Show is next weekend, Fri, Sat & Sun, April 13, 14, 15, 2012. At the Douglas County Fairgrounds, Roseburg, Oregon, right on Interstate 5, exit 123. I took my entries in today, two art quilts, "Helebore" and "Sea, Sand and Light" I have high hopes for them ;) This is the first time in 20 years, that I will miss the quilt show, I am flying to Chicago for my nieces wedding on Wednesday. Even when I had my hysterectomy, we borrowed a wheelchair, and Charlie pushed me around the show. Going up to Portland last weekend for their show helped a little, but our show was always such a big deal here. I think we have the best show in the state of Oregon, though some shows have more vendors. We have been averaging over 300 quilts, each of the last few years! I only took in the two quilts, because all mine this last year were art quilts, I didn't have anything I could put in other more traditional categories. If you have a chance don't miss this awesome show, the guild works very hard on it every year!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

How To - Thread Paint 3-D Dragonflies

I started to make some 3-D dragonflies to add to one of my Gelli print journal pages, and decided to make a "how to" with step by step photos. I hope you give this a try. It takes a little skill at free motion quilting, but it does not take very long to make one, and they are a great embellishment for any nature or floral quilt. You will need an 4" to 8" embroidery hoop, that will fit under the pressure foot of your sewing machine, they make some especially for this. Draw a simple outline of a dragonfly on a piece of "Solvy" wash away stabilizer with a felt marker. Make the wings long & narrow, short and rounded, swoopy, any shape you want. Try to make them an even size, but it doesn't matter if one side is larger than the other. I usually curve the tail, but you can make it straight too. Layer a piece of tulle (white or any color) then the Solvy drawing, then a piece of organza or chiffon scarf. I like the shimmer organza, but don't use any that has glitter or beads on it. I have used a variety of shimmery fabrics, silk and polyesters as a base. Hoop the layers with the embroidery hoop, and fill a bobbin with black thread. I love rayon thread for my dragonflies, but you can use a metallic thread too or regular cotton. I use a 90/14 needle, use a metallica needle for the metallic threads. Set your machine for free motion quilting, put on a darning foot, and drop the feed dogs. Stitch the outline of the body with a colored thread, purple, teal, orange, pink etc... Then zigzag inside to form an interconnected grid, continue stitching in a zigzag, then a back and forth manner until the outline is filled in. Next use an emerald green or lime green thread(try red too) for the eyes, stitch an area at the top of the head. Switch to a black thread, and outline the body and tail, making several segments in a series of figure eights. Stitch around the eyes, making two round areas at the top of the head. Next outline the wing shape, correct your drawn lines if needed, go over the lines at least twice, to create a thick edge. Start adding veins into the wings, I add a center line and go off of that like a leaf vein, each wing will have your own unique pattern, like a finger print. Do NOT thread paint legs or antennae, we will add them when attaching them to our textile art. I use a "Sulky Sliver Metallic" thread in a clear holographic color to highlight the wings and eyes. It is a flat mylar thread and reflects light beautifully. I have never had any tension problems with it, or breakage, I use my regular needle too. Stitch over the outline stitching on the wings, and some of the veins, only once, then do the eyes with a denser stitch. Make multiple dragonflies on the same piece of fabric, filling the hoop, and not wasting any of the space. When you are done, remove the hoop and trim each dragonfly close to the thread edge, with a sharp scissors. Don't worry if you snip some threads, it is not a disaster. Dab the cut edges with a little bit of Fray Check, and pin the dragonflies to something to let the Fray Check dry. To attach the dragonflies, use black thread and stitch around only the bodies, leaving the wings free. Now is the time to add legs or antennae if you want to. For dragonflies, add two rear legs to each side, with a bend in the middle, and one set of legs to the front, for butterflies or moths add antennae. Moth antennae are thick and feathery. Pull the wings up, to give them shape, and free them from the background. I usually don't washout the Solvy, it is layered in between and adds stiffness to the dragonfly, you can soak them in a dish of water if you want to remove it. You can embellish your dragonfly's eyes with hot fix crystals, faceted crystal beads, or fancy buttons. Go forth and populate your art with dragonflies, butterflies and other insects! Have fun!